How to Develop, Maintain and Model True Islamic Identity (Part 2)

Still guessing what that ONE question is?

It is the same as you imagined the stranger asking you.

‘Who are you?’

Take a minute or two to answer, then read through the O.D.D.S formula below to reinforce your definition.

Using the O.D.D.S Formula to Develop, Maintain and Model True Islamic Identity

O: Open-up. Open-up to Allah SWT. Awaken your consciousness of Him as the All-Seeing and All-Hearing.

Then make it a daily goal to remember Him in whatever you do. After all, you are the needy servant and He SWT is Rich and free of all needs. Such strong relationship with Allah SWT will enable you turn to Him as your only Helper and the One to guide you through your identity issues and struggles.

Remember Allah SWT knows what you hide or make apparent, so open-up to Him. He SWT said,

“O Adam, inform them of their names.” And when he had informed them of their names, He said, “Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:33)

Try this: Make a resolve for every act you perform, to do it sincerely for His sake while remembering that He is All-Seeing and All-Hearing. Pray with devotion and consciousness of Him, eat your meals with a sincere intention and focus on your studies and learning to gain beneficial knowledge – to benefit yourself and the Ummah – not for showing off.

D: Du’a and Dhikr Drive. You need to make du’a for courage, sincerity, perseverance, steadfastness, dignity and wisdom like our Prophet SAWS. These positive qualities will help you pull through challenges like inner whispers and doubts about your identity.

You also need to engage in constant remembrance for a calm heart and purified soul, to keep you connected with Allah SWT.

Try this: Make morning and evening adkhaar, engage in adhkaar while indoors and outdoors, start all deeds with bismillah, make dua for friends and loved ones in their absence, always say alhamdulillah.

”…Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (Ar-Ra’d, 13:28)

D: Daily Drills. Take action with small, daily and consistent habits.

Continue reading

How to Develop, Maintain and Model True Islamic Identity (Part 1)

Muslims can only define and describe their true personal identity in relation to the connection they have with Allah SWT. Because, as true Muslims they must submit and surrender fully to the Will of AllahSWT  as revealed in the noble Quran and exemplified in the life of Prophet Muhammad SAWS.

Identity Game

Imagine a stranger walking up to you and asking, ‘Who are you?’

What words will you use to describe yourself. How will you verify your identity?

Pause here and think for a minute.

You may quite easily relate to your gender, nationality, language, culture, career, educational background, hobbies or other social affiliations. No doubt, all of these contribute in many ways to who you are. But, is that all there is to you as a human living on planet Earth?

You should know the answer is a resounding NO. Those are actually secondary identities which could be delimiting if your nafs makes you consider any of these a mark of superiority over others. Just as Iblees considered himself superior to Adam AS.

“And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.”(Al-Baqarah, 2:34)

So the question remains, what is your primary identity? Which is your true identity?

Blog_Oct08_insideThe Natural Fitrah (And what tampers with it)

“So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (Ar- Rum, 30: 30)

The inborn identity of a true believer is tied to the creed – La ilaha illah llah, Muhammadur Rasulullah sal Allahu alayhi wassalam. These words are confirmed by the tongue and acted upon by the limbs – an external manifestation that the world can see.

Therefore, the essence of your life as a Muslim is based upon the definition and practice of the shahadah in alignment with the natural fitrah – in your personal and public life, if you remember that you were born upon an instinct to worship AllahSWT, our Lord, the One and only Creator.

The Prophet SAWS said, “Each child is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?” 1

And what will help you develop and maintain this goal?

It’s by submitting and following the orders of AllahSWT  and abandoning all that He has forbidden no matter how insignificant it may seem. This act of submission is captured eloquently in the following verses of the Qur’an.

Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.” (Al-‘An`am, 6:162)

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. (Al-Baqarah, 2:208)

Elements that Tamper with Fitrah

Living by the shahadah and aligning to your true fitrah has become more and more challenging in the times we live. Some of the elements that tamper with the fitrah and ultimately our Islamic identity include peer, cultural and family pressures. Others are technology, education and employment systems, etc. These elements could induce inner paralysis coupled with Shaytan’s whispers that make you believe that you are ODD or STRANGE.

I have good news for you. No need to fear…

Dare to be Different

There’s nothing wrong with being odd, strange or different for the purpose of striving for superior goals in this world and the next, aiming to gain Allah’s pleasure and earn Jannah by His Mercy.

Abu HurayrahRAu said: The Messenger of Allah SAWS said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.

2

You can develop, maintain and model a true Islamic Identity in its pure and pristine form using the acronym O.D.D.S which I coined up during my research for a presentation I made at a recent convention.

O: Open-up
D: Du’a and Dhikr Drive
D: Daily Drills
S: Support System

Using this formula, you can beat all odds to uphold an Islamic personality, insha’Allah.

Identity issues can come up at your workplace, school or in your local community. They can stem from being the only Muslim employee in your organization; living in a predominantly non Muslim/ non practicing neighborhood; getting invited by school mates to bars, night clubs etc., and/or being faced with free-mixing in many settings like weddings, workshops and charity events amongst others.

You need to just answer ONE question correctly to guide you through situations that will challenge your identity. Can you guess what that ONE question is?

Are You Living Your Purpose?

So often, we get caught up in life – our goals, desires, relationships, and achievements. Of course, all of this has its place – however, as Muslims, it’s important to engage in life with a sense of purpose, rather than for accomplishment in and of itself.

I’d like to share my favorite ayah of the Quran with you – one that has truly been a guiding light in my quest to live a more purposeful life, by the permission of Allah. Keeping this one ayah at the forefront of your consciousness can help you to become more centered, accomplished, serene, and purposeful – and provide a compass for everything you do in life.

Allah SWT revealed in His Noble Book:

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56).

Many of us are familiar with this ayah – but do we really give it the weight, reflection, and implementation it deserves? If we did, I’d argue that our lives would truly be transformed.

Living Your Purpose

When you truly know your real purpose on this earth – in more than just an abstract way, you’ll find that doors open wherever you go.

This is because infusing your life with purpose (worship of Allah), means knowing that every action, opportunity, emotion, and interaction is a means to gain closeness to Allah and exemplify the best qualities and actions.

Blog_Nov03_InsideMany people understand this on an intellectual level – of course it is best to live in a more purposeful, righteous manner. However, it may be challenging for some to understand how to truly infuse this sense of purpose into everyday life. Below are some examples, which illustrate a sense of Islamic purposefulness – and how it can guide you to the best of actions and character, in every facet of life.


~ In your work
, infusing a sense of purpose and worship can be done in numerous ways. Dealing fairly with customers; giving accurate measure and prices; returning over-payments; excellent customer service, and wonderful quality are but a few examples.

Always strive for excellence in your work, seeking Allah’s pleasure. You will find that not only will you develop a stellar reputation, excel in your field, and move up within your company – the intangible rewards from Allah SWTwill be numerous, alhamdulillah.

“Abu Salid al-Khudri reported that The Prophet SAWS said: Do not sell gold for gold, except like for like, and don’t increase something of it upon something; and don’t sell silver unless like for like, and don’t increase something of it upon something, and do not sell for ready money something to be given later.” 1


~ In relationships
, making it your purpose and focus to seek Allah’s pleasure is critical for success. This comes into play when you are first seeking a husband or wife, as well as once you are married.

Choosing a spouse based on who will motivate you to be the best slave of Allah SWT is one of the most important choices you will make in life. And after marriage, approach the relationship as an act of worship in which you are seeking Allah’s pleasure. If this is your purpose, this will get you through those times when you are less than happy with each other.

Umm Salamah RAaa narrated that Allah’s Messenger SAWS said, “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.” 2

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah RAu that the Messenger of Allah SAWS  said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith is the one who is best in attitude, and the best of you is the one who is best in attitude towards his womenfolk.” 3

~ Raising children is both a blessing, and an amaanah (trust). You will be asked about how you raised and cultivated them, and whether you instilled principles and guidance that will help them to be good Muslims – and ultimately raise their own children to continue the legacy, insha’ Allah.

From the perspective of parenting as worship, the Muslim parent focuses on teaching acts of ibaadah, character development, manners, and respect. You strive to raise children, who by their very character are a benefit to their community, and a dawah to mankind. Imagine how heavily this will weigh in the parents scale of good deeds!

Allah SWT says in Surah At-Tur:

And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained. (At-Tur, 52:21)

 And the duah from Surah Al-Ahqaf:

“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (Al-Ahqaf, 46:15)

~ With your friends, infusing a sense of purpose and worship means that you choose to keep company with beneficial people, and not those who engage in a lot of idle speech or call you to sin. Also, one of the best aspects of friendship is having someone you trust to confide in and seek counsel from. If your friends are righteous and fear Allah, they will always advise in a manner which will benefit your dunya and aakhirah.

Abu Huraira RAureported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.” 4

~ Wealth, its accumulation and spending can truly be a fitnah, if one is not careful. However, for the one focused on seeking Allah’s pleasure – wealth used correctly can be of much benefit. Instead of seeking to accumulate money for its own sake, use it as a means of getting closer to Allah SWT. Give sadaqah, sponsor an orphan, or any other generous act of worship. Also, always strive to keep your money free from haram, such as riba (interest), or purchasing haram goods (alcohol, music, etc.).

Allah SWT says regarding wealth:

Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.

So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend [in the way of Allah]; it is better for your selves. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.    (At-Taghabun, 64:15-16)

~ When seeking an education, a sense of purpose is paramount! Focus on the ultimate aim of ilm – to remove ignorance from yourself and others, by way of this knowledge. As you learn, filter any new knowledge through an Islamic lens, and seek Allah’s aid in completing your studies.

Also, think ahead of a way in which you can use what you’ve learned in Allah’s service! Whether in your career, or in tutoring or educating others – make a plan to “pay sadaqah” on the knowledge you’ve been blessed with.

Shaykh Al-Uthaymeen in his explanation of Hilyatu Taalibal Ilm (The Adornments of the Student of Knowledge) by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd, referenced this when explaining the meaning of Zakaat.

The Shaykh mentioned that the Salaf used to say that just as people pay zakat on their wealth, they are also required to pay zakaat on their knowledge – if they hope for it to increase. This is done by acting upon that knowledge, helping others implement it, and calling towards that knowledge for Allah’s sake.

~ Your health and the strength of your body is truly a mercy from Allah SWT, which we must be thankful for every day. Don’t take good health for granted, and use it for seeking Allah’s pleasure. Don’t use your legs to walk to a forbidden place, or your arms to touch a forbidden person. Also, while you have health, seek to do as much dawah, study, and beneficial work as possible, as the time may come when you cannot any longer. And lastly, seek to preserve your good health by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a low level of stress.

Ibn Abbas RAu narrated that the Prophet SAWS said:

“Take advantage of five things before five other things: from your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you become occupied, and from your life before your death.” 5

~ Giving dawah is a major component of worshiping Allah SWT and living a life of purpose. Once you understand your true goal in life “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56), not only do you want to implement this in your life – but you want to help others do the same.

Every Muslim should give dawah – first by his character, then by words and deeds. If you don’t feel that you are knowledgeable enough, even sharing the smallest bits of information about Islam, or taking someone to visit a masjid can have a profound impact.

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” (An-Nahl, 16:125)

Masha’ Allah, these are just some of the areas of our lives that are enhanced tremendously, when we seek to truly live our purpose. In your own life, think of areas in which you can be more purposeful. Make your intention and select one area, focus on improvement for Allah’s sake, and then move on to another. Concentrated cultivation of one’s mind, body and soul – for Allah’s sake, is truly the purpose of life.

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat, 51:56).

Visiting graveyards when fasting

Praise be to Allaah.  There is no reason not to visit graveyards whilst fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “but now visit them (graveyards).” The apparent meaning of this hadeeth is that it is general with regard to time.

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to his companions, “Who among you is fasting today?” Abu Bakr said, “I am.” He said, “Who among you has attended a funeral?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” He said, “Is there anyone among you who has visited a sick person?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” He said, “Is there anyone among you who has given charity?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” He said, “(These qualities) are not combined in a man but he will enter Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim.

And Allaah knows best.

-Islam Q&A

 

Stop Belittling Yourself, Oh brothers and sisters!!!

How do I belittle myself, so you asked?

Feeling shy to tell the truth? Is that because you fear Allah or just nourishing the fear of People? If the latter, you are belittling yourself. Why are you belittling yourself by selling the Aayah of Allah by playing and amusing people with them?

Allah says:

وَلاَ تَشْتَرُواْ بِآيَـتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلاً وَإِيَّـىَ فَاتَّقُونِوَلاَ تَلْبِسُواْ الْحَقَّ بِالْبَـطِلِ وَتَكْتُمُواْ الْحَقَّ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

And transact not with My verses by a small price (i.e. getting a small gain by selling My verses), and fear Me and Me alone.  And mix not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know (the truth).

On the authority of Abu Sa’id: the Messenger of Allah said:
Let not any one of you belittle himself. They said: O Messenger of Allah, how can any one of us belittle himself ? He said: He finds a matter concerning Allah about which he should say something and he does not say [it], so Allah says to him on the Day of Resurrection: What prevented you from saying something about such-and-such and such-and-such? He say: [It was] out of fear of people. Then He says: Rather it is I whom you should more properly fear. Related by Ibn Majah.

Many well-intending Muslims are confused because they observe from those around them transgressions such as ability not to hear the truth but only sermons that looks interesting to them, sometimes involving shirk – even within the masaajid of Allaah these days. Not only do they not leave or complain or refute or warn against what they observe, but they are deceivingly cornered into supporting the above transgressions and falsehood due to the opposition they will encounter. Never belittle yourself by supporting the falsehood.

Say the truth with great wisdom.

Allah says:
“…And say to those who were given the Scripture (the Jews and Christians) and to the unlearned polytheists, “Have you submitted yourselves in worship to the One God?” And if they submitted, then they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, then your duty is merely to convey the Message; and Allah is All-Seer of His servants.” (Ālī `Imrān, 20)

And Allah says again:
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is rightly guided.” (An-Nahl 125).

It is not hidden from anyone who has even the smallest amount of knowledge or insight, that the Islamic world, indeed the whole of the world is in the severest need of the correct Islamic da’wah that will explain to the people the true Islām, and clarify for them its regulations and its goodness.

Everyone does things their own way, but your Lord is fully aware of who follows the best-guided path.

Choose a right part today, tomorrow may be late.

Iyaaka nahbudu waiyaaka nastaeen, Ihdina siraatol-Mustaqeem

It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path. Aameen.