Devastation

This Wednesday I found out about Grenfell tower like everyone else watching the news. It was a shock to my system. It just seems like theres one thing after another when we switch on the TV. This was utterly hurtful. My immediate thought was are there any survivors? Deep down I knew people had not made it and this got to me because they were innocent lives. Then I began thinking about how could this happen- what was the cause. You see for me when the incident took place I was getting on with my normal everyday activities on that particular day I had not switched on the news as I was doing previously to check the outcomes of the hung parliament. My mother-in-law actually informed me of this tragedy.  Shortly after I started reading the papers online, checking my social media feeds and what I found was haunting. Stories of mothers, young children, elderly who had not survived. Of course for us Muslims it is the month of Ramadan and I saw clips of people praising Muslims and being grateful for this month as the Muslims were able to help. However, inspite of this the tragic event depicted how the community is able to come together irrespective of beliefs because of our common humaness.

We have been discussing what has happened and the atmosphere instantly fills with sadness when you hear the stories of those who have lost their loved ones. The one that really struck a chord with me was of a young women who’s children were trying to stop the smoke from coming in through the gaps of the doors. At this point she was on the phone and the relative broke down whilst speaking in an interview when recounting the the events. The relative said she could hear the fire crackling. There are countless stories like this. I cannot imagine the despair going through their minds.

At this moment my prayers are with them. May Allah provide everyone with ease and save us all from facing further calamities. Ameen.

Something ordinary

We awoke today at around 08:00am. Given that I only slept for a few hours after the dawn prayer and its Ramadan I wanted to desperately retreat into my bed. Alas! my daughters thought differently. Whilst lying down I remembered that my eldest daughter was given a project to complete. It was centred around a story called ‘Jasper and the Beanstalk’ and she was asked to make a flower that could be placed upon a display.

Reluctantly, rising from the bed I decided to make this into a lesson about growth and related it to Ramadan. However, as we began preparing, drawing, tracing, cutting, gluing, sticking, taping and finally painting (long list I know) subconsciously my mind had already made other links. My husband clambered down the stairs and sat down beside our youngest daughter and I could not wait to inform him of my analogy.

So I began explaining. When I came downstairs I looked in the storeroom for miscellaneous items that could be used. I thought it would be good to do this to encourage the use of materials at home. I then asked my daughter what does a flower look like and she found a flower hair slide to answer my question. Then the three of us went about preparing the items we would require for the activity. Similar to this we are recommended to prepare for this month, not just spiritually but physically and mentally. Although, we may not prepare in terms of gathering items like my daughter did, we do prepare for the meal after we break the fast and this is a blessing that Allah has given us.

Once we sat down we began to draw around the shapes that we had found. Now going on a tangent when I do things with my children I like to encourage autonomy. I do this for their own sake but recent research into child development promotes child lead activities. This is also promoted in Islam. As we are encouraged to raise our children with independence, be it through attempting the salaah or praising them for doing a good deed (this is another topic I will write about in another post inshallah.)

Anyhow going back to what I was writing about. As my daughter drew around the shapes to create the petals (which were in an array of colours), she started to cut around the lines and then we assembled them. In the process my daughter could not wait and was eager to simply paint. On seeing the final piece she smiled. It made me think of Ramadan. This is because just like my daughter cut the paper to make the petals the first fast (for me anyway) is like a sharp cut- as we struggle. Some struggle as they have work, some struggle due to ill health, some struggle as they have young children and there are unknown struggles too. By the end we hope that our souls are rejuvenated and our spirituality is assembled (or reassembled in our case) like the flower its just that like my daughter we are eager to see the result and undermine the process which is not something ordinary.

 

Dispute

I began reading Surah Mujadilah today. On reading the translation I could not grasp what Allah was referring to so I decided to read the tafseer (commentary) of this particular chapter (which I would do with any chapter as I do not have a high calibre of knowledge.)

When I read the background I was amazed at the reason behind the revelation of this chapter. It was sent to the Prophet (SAW) after a women had come to him and sought advice regarding a dispute that had taken place between her and her husband. Before the verses were revealed the Prophet (SAW) advised her to have Taqwa (fear) as her husband was old. However, whilst she was there the Wahi (revelation) came down and what the husband had said to his wife was refuted. Writing these things now I am thinking that whoever is going to read may think what is so amazing about this? Well why I was amazed was because marital discord is common not only in the Bengali community but across all communities and often one party is given precedence according to the societal norms. Words are dismissed alongside the feelings of a person leading to resentment and in some cases further conflict. Here by admonishing what was said, Allah provides a balance.

When speaking to my husband later and explaining what I had found out and stating how if we understood and lived by the Quran life would be more simple-he simply agreed.

I realised that even behind dispute there is harmony.

Day 2 Reflection 2

Today,  I read the verses below:

On the day when thou (Muhammad) wilt see the believers, men and women, their light shining forth before them and on their right hands, (and wilt hear it said unto them): Glad news for you this day: Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein ye are immortal. That is the supreme triumph. (12) On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say unto those who believe: Look on us that we may borrow from your light! it will be said: Go back and seek for light! Then there will separate them a wall wherein is a gate, the inner side whereof containeth mercy, while the outer side thereof is toward the doom. (13) They will cry unto them (saying): Were we not with you? They will say: verily; but ye tempted one another, and hesitated, and doubted, and vain desires beguiled you till the ordinance of Allah came to pass; and the deceiver deceived you concerning Allah; (14) So this day no ransom can be taken from you nor from those who disbelieved. Your home is the Fire; that is your patron, and a hapless journey’s end. (15) Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe to submit to Allah’s reminder and to the truth which is revealed, that they become not as those who received the scripture of old but the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened, and many of them are evil-livers. (16) Know that Allah quickeneth the earth after its death. We have made clear Our revelations for you, that haply ye may understand. (17) Lo! those who give alms, both men and women, and lend unto Allah a goodly loan, it will be doubled for them, and theirs will be a rich reward. (18) And those who believe in Allah and His messengers, they are the loyal, and the martyrs are with their Lord; they have their reward and their light; while as for those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire. (19) Know that the life of the world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the husbandman, but afterward it drieth up and thou seest it turning yellow, then it becometh straw. And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and (also) forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure, whereas the life of the world is but matter of illusion. (20) Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whereof the breadth is as the breadth of the heavens and the earth, which is in store for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. Such is the bounty of Allah, which He bestoweth upon whom He will, and Allah is of Infinite Bounty. (21) Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before we bring it into being – Lo! that is easy for Allah – (22) That ye grieve not for the sake of that which hath escaped you, nor yet exult because of that which hath been given. Allah loveth not all prideful boasters, (23) Who hoard and who enjoin upon the people avarice. And whosoever turneth away, still Allah is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise. (24) We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may observe right measure; and He revealed iron, wherein is mighty power and (many) uses for mankind, and that Allah may know him who helpeth Him and His messengers, though unseen. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. (25) And We verily sent Noah and Abraham and placed the prophethood and the scripture among their seed, and among them there is he who goeth right, but many of them are evil-livers. (26) Then We caused Our messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow, and gave him the Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. But monasticism they invented – We ordained it not for them – only seeking Allah’s pleasure, and they observed it not with right observance. So We give those of them who believe their reward, but many of them are evil-livers. (27) O ye who believe! Be mindful of your duty to Allah and put faith in His messenger. He will give you twofold of His mercy and will appoint for you a light wherein ye shall walk, and will forgive you. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful; (28) That the People of the Scripture may know that they control naught of the bounty of Allah, but that the bounty is in Allah’s hand to give to whom He will. And Allah is of Infinite Bounty. (29)

In truth, I only read the translation a few minutes ago so what I am going to write are my thoughts in real time. Yesterday I felt a reassurance that Allah is aware of our efforts. However reading through the verses now was almost like reading the expectation almost of myself for myself. A few months ago I listened to a lecture by Nouman Ali Khan regarding the light and it made me ponder whether what I have been doing will be accepted or rather will it be enough? I know we can never be certain of our deeds being accepted however we know that the next life is permanent so we have to make adequate preparations. On reading the verses I felt tearful because it was as though these ayahs were what I needed to hear. Although I can never be certain if what I am preparing will be accepted I know that my efforts will not be in vain as Allah has ‘twofold mercy.’  Nonetheless it made me think about where I am lacking and how I can make improvements.

I do feel I have been negligent in reading the Quran and become lost over the past few years. It is only very recently I have began to feel the sparks of spirituality amongst my daily life. My salaah had become mechanical and I was not really conversing with the Most High. Yet I knew I was and am blessed- which sounds strange based on what I have written in the previous paragraph but its true.

I am hoping to reflect and continue further with these gems and improve myself. May Allah accept it from you and May He accept it from me. Ameen.

Contemplation

 His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; He quickeneth and He giveth death; and He is Able to do all things. (2) He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. (3) He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days; then He mounted the Throne. He knoweth all that entereth the earth and all that emergeth therefrom and all that cometh down from the sky and all that ascendeth therein; and He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah is Seer of what ye do. (4) His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, and unto Allah (all) things are brought back. (5) He causeth the night to pass into the day, and He causeth the day to pass into the night, and He is knower of all that is in the breasts. (6) Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees; and such of you as believe and spend (aright), theirs will be a great reward. (7) What aileth you that ye believe not in Allah, when the messenger calleth you to believe in your Lord, and He hath already made a covenant with you, if ye are believers? (8) He it is Who sendeth down clear revelations unto His slave, that He may bring you forth from darkness unto light; and lo! for you, Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful. (9) And what aileth you that ye spend not in the way of Allah when unto Allah belongeth the inheritance of the heavens and the earth? Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you). Such are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. Unto each hath Allah promised good. And Allah is informed of what ye do. (10) Who is he that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan, that He may double it for him and his may be a rich reward? (11)

I just could not sleep tonight without writing what I had taken away from reading these verses. There is a theme of ‘knowing’ that emanates from the verses that impacted upon my approach to fasting. There was a time when I could fast and I did not think about the duration I could focus on the Quran. However, I lost this and do want it back but reading these verses provided me with a reassurance in trying and appreciating the process of trying for the end reward. The above ayahs have made me re-evaluate where I am and where I want to be and if all of this will enable me to gain eternal reward.

It is as if Allah has given me so much or rather given everybody bounty upon bounty and yet we digress. Allah says in this chapter that ‘He it is who sendeth down clear revelations unto his slaves.’ Words such as ‘revelation’ corresponds with the month we are in at this moment in time. As I thought about these links it made me smile and gave me a spiritual lift that I was in need of, however, I do acknowledge that I have a long way to go but I guess I wanted to simply share this insight.

May Allah accept it from you and from me. Ameen.

Day 1 Ayah 1

It is the start of the sacred month of Ramadan. This is the month in which Muslims all around the world fast from dawn until sunset. This year here in the UK it is 18 hours long. It sounds daunting and difficult to do but their is a sweetness in this month like no other.

Admittedly, if you have read through my recent posts I wrote about my apprehensions. Today I would like to share a reflection as this month is about the Quran, contemplation and reflection.

After the middle prayer (Asr) I read the following verses from the Quran:

All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Surah Hadid Ayah 1)

On reading the translation, these are the points that I found very moving and I related it to Ramadan. +It begins with saying that ‘all that is in the heaven and the earth gloriefieth Allah.’ When I heard a lecture by Nouman Ali Khan he mentioned that in this month we need to show gratitude to Allah. Subahanallah (glory be to Allah) there have been occassions I have read this but I have never really pondered over the grammatical structure and the words used. Being from a linguistics background it conveyed a deeper meaning. Use of the lexeme ‘all’ shows the status of the Al-mighty. It used to qualify the concrete nouns of ‘heavens’ and ‘earth.’ I could not fathom this as there are sooooooooo many billions of people on the earth and there are sooooooooo many spiritual beings in the unseen world that we cannot see. Then there are the animals, plants, mountains, valleys, oceans all glorifying Allah- and only He can say this as he created such things that we admire and take pictures of. Yet in one ayah Allah elevates above this admiration-hence why we should seek to admire Allah in the best way we can in this month of Ramadan.

Then there is the imagery that is created. When a person reads authors use words for the reader to be able to visualise the message. In English literature when I teach students literary techniques two of the things used by poets is metaphor and onomatopoeia. Metaphor is when something is implied to achieve depth in meaning. Onomatopoeia is when an inanimate object is given feelings oridinarily given to human beings to achieve a point the poet may be making. Here it is as though Allah has used these techniques but not in the same way as a poet would, rather to state a fact. This majesty is then reinforced by the attributes used in the Ayah of ‘mighty’ and ‘wise.’ Furthermore all of the words chosen to be used convey a similar semantic meaning.

Finally this is a reminder for me about believe in Allah which we strive to strengthen in Ramadan.

I am hoping to share more gems that benefit me this Ramadan. Please share if you think this was beneficial.

May Allah accept it from you and me. Ameen.

Inspiration

I have recently began teaching again and it has been the most remarkable source of inspiration. It was one student in particular that left me in awe. When I spoke to him and asked for his permission to write about him he was taken aback and had only one request that he remain anonymous. He also went onto to say that his story was a sad story. To me it was one of success and made me appreciate things that I have that are not being used.

The student achieved excellent grades in A’levels. However, shortly afterwards he became ill and his health deteriorated and he had heart surgery. After this he did go onto pursue studying as he believes that learning is a skill that should not be forgotten. With this in mind he pursued a course in Human Biology, completed a few Islamic courses and last September decided to embark on a university course. This period of achievement was then followed with sorrow as earlier on this year someone close to him passed away.

Hearing these things I experienced so many different emotions. The one that was most prominent was gratitude for things that I have. A piece of advise that the student spoke of was that if was to take anything away from his story was that he found Allah and it gave him purpose.

It was humbling for me-to find such devotion.