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Abdul Hakim Abd Jalil

Forgive to be Forgiven

“How could you do this to me?”

“I will never forgive you.”

There must be a time when we’ve been hurt by someone. Whether it’s the words that wound the heart or the action that wound the body, it’s  part of life. Nevertheless, these wounds can leave us with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But, wait. Those ill feelings, are they really worth it?

Calm down. Firstly, life is short. Let us not waste our energy on being angry at our adversaries and seeking revenge against them. If we can gradually minimise our spite every day, then soon we will cease to bear hatred or malice in our hearts.

Know what? There is a direct correlation between the way we treat others and how Allah treats us. We all know the Prophet’s hadith: 

Have mercy on those on the Earth, and the One in heaven will have mercy on you” [Tirmidhi].

 Of course, Allah is incomparably greater and more merciful than us. Therefore, whatever we do to and for others, Allah will multiply it for us. If we are sincere in wanting Allah to forgive us for our many mistakes and sins, we should be prepared to do the same for others.

Yes, there will be situations in life that will make you angry or rattled. But our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us that true strength is when you can overcome your anger. He said,

“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger” [Sahih al Bukhari].

Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was so kind and forgiving with all, no matter if he is a believer or non-believer. We have so many inspiring examples from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about his forgiving others and showing kindness to even those who were so rude to him. Cool, right?

It is said: “To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Both parts of this statement are true. As human beings we ought to be responsible for what we have done, but we ourselves do also make mistakes and are constantly in need of forgiveness.

Here is a simple question to ask yourself. Don’t you want forgiveness from Allah? If forgiveness from Allah is what you’re looking for, let us rush into forgiving others. We only give forgiveness that is finite and what Allah can give us in exchange is infinite, as His mercy and forgiveness are infinite. What a beautiful exchange!  So, it’s your choice: either your anger weighs more or your love for forgiveness from Allah weighs more!

We cannot change the past, but we can certainly use it to empower ourselves and become a better person going forward. Let’s forgive to be forgiven!

True Love requires “sacrifice”: Eid al-Adha Version

Qurban means sacrifice. Every year during the Islamic month of Dzul Hijjah, Muslims around the world slaughter animals – whether it is goat, sheep, cow or camel – to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son Ismail, for the sake of his devotion to  Allah. It was an amazing display of absolute obedience and unconditional love; absolute obedience to Allah and unconditional love to follow His every command without flinching. Thus, every year, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Muslims honour that sense of commitment of love by performing Qurban.

Once the animal has been sacrificed, the meat is divided into three parts; one for the family, one for the neighbours and one for the poor. Qurban teaches us the importance of looking after those around us, the neighbours as they too have rights. As Muslims it is our responsibility to make sure they are in good health and spirit. On the same note, people who are poor, homeless or financially unable to support themselves or their families also deserve a share of the Qurban meat. It is just one way of looking out for our Muslim’s big family that are in need and sharing your blessings and promoting unity and harmony between all human beings.

The Prophet (peace be upon him), said “The son of Adam does not do any action on the day of sacrifice (Eid al Adha) which is more pleasing to Allah than the sacrifice of animals; the animal will come on the Day of Resurrection with its hair, horns and hooves (for reward). The blood certainly reaches Allah before it falls to the ground. So make yourselves purified therewith.” (Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah)

A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands without compromise. It is this strength of heart, purity of  faith, and sincerity of submission that our Lord expects from us.

Performing Qurban is not easy, even to those who have the means to do it. But as true love requires sacrifice, this world is but a test for those who gives his heart to his Creator.

Going to the Masjid (Part 2): A First-Time Guide for Reverts

Yeay! You’re finally going to the Masjid (mosque) for the first time. There are things you need to know about how visitors are expected to conduct themselves upon entering and while being in the mosque: 

1. You have to take off your shoes

Please note that you have to take off your shoes before entering the mosque. There have been  many cases where new Muslims, or interested non-Muslims, accidentally entered the mosque without taking off their shoes. This is especially true of visitors from non-Asian countries where taking off shoes and leaving them outside the door is not part of their culture.

The reason for requiring visitors to take off shoes before entering the mosque is hygiene, an aspect which is much emphasised in Islam, especially for a holy place such as the mosque. This is how the floor of the mosque is kept clean, especially for prayers, such that you can even sit and sleep on it.

2. There are separate areas for men and women 

Don’t go to the wrong entrance! There are separate areas for men and women in the mosque. Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder in line but within the same gender group, not intermixed. They either have an entirely separate area between the sexes, or in the case of a very big prayer hall, a shared but divided space to prevent free mixing of males and females. Please beware of which area you’re going to. 

3. Attire inside the mosque

If you’re a non-Muslim, or a newly reverted Muslim, please note that you must dress properly while in the mosque. The mosque is a holy place for Muslims to perform their sacred rituals. Females must cover their heads and wear full length, all body-covering, and non-body hugging attire. Likewise, guys ought to dress decently. 

Going to the Masjid (Part 1): Knowing the Masjid

You’re a new Muslim and you’re going to a Masjid? Yeay! It’s going to be fun. You’re going to meet new friends, you’re going to learn more on Islam, and maybe there’s even free food there. LOL. But wait a minute. Before you go, please take note of several things. Now, let’s go to the Masjid!    

As a new Muslim revert, there are so many things you will learn and do for the first time. And these first-time things in your new beautiful religion will always stick in your memories. 

You’ll always remember how your heart raced the moment you said Shahadah (your declaration of belief in the oneness of God and on Muhammad as his final Prophet) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the moment you raised your hands and said the Takbiratul Ihram in your solat (prayer) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the satisfaction of  withstanding the hunger and hardship in completing your Ramadhan fast for the first time, or how hard it was to memorise the al-Fatihah verses for the first time.

But how about your experience of going to the mosque for the first time? 

It may be easy to visualise in your mind about the mosque if you are a born Muslim. You may have been there since the time you learned to walk.  But as reverts, non-Muslims and those who have never been inside a mosque, have you ever imagined what the mosque is like?

Reverts going to the mosque for the first time have varied experiences. Some are fun and exciting experiences, some enlightening,  and some even awkward. Before any untoward experience happens to you, it is advisable that you get to know some basic things about the mosque. 

What is a mosque?

If you have been in a typical  Muslim country, you must have heard a loud calling for prayers five times a day. The sound comes from the mosque (masjid), as a sign that the praying time has come.

The Arabic term masjid simply means “place of prostration”. A mosque is a building in which Muslims worship Allah by performing the congregational (jama’ah) prayers . It is also a local  community centre for Muslims. 

The role of the mosque has frequently been misconceived as a place for spedific worship rituals only. Ideally, a mosque should also be a centre of Muslim development, knowledge and welfare. 

It is a symbol of unity and strength of the Muslim community. Muslims praying in neat rows (saff), shoulder to shoulder, regardless of rich or poor, old or young, black or white, signify  that everyone is equal before Allah.

What do mosques look like?

Mosques come in all shapes and sizes, based on the density of the Muslim population in a certain area. A distinct feature common to most mosques is the minaret, a slim tower  normally used to make the daily call (adhan) to prayers. Some mosques have more than one minaret.

Other features common to mosques are a dome, a mihrab (an indention in the wall for the imam who leads the prayer, and marks the direction of qiblah (the Holy Mosque in Mecca),  and a mimbar (a raised platform on which the khutbah or speeches are delivered).

What does the interior of the mosque look like?

The most significant area inside a mosque is of course the praying hall. This is where the Muslims pray. Depending on the size of the mosque, and the number of people in the local Muslim community, some mosques do have a big and vast praying hall, while some others have a smaller one. At the front side of the praying hall is where the mihrab is, which indicates the direction of qiblah

A qiblah refers to the direction faced by Muslims performing prayers. Muslims are instructed to face in the direction of the Kaabah in Mecca while praying. One important aspect to be understood here is that  Muslims do not worship the Kaabah. Rather, the Muslims direct their worship only to Allah. The Kaabah is merely a symbolic unifying focal point for the entire Muslim world:    

To Allah belongs the East and the West. Wherever you turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing” (Quran 2:115)

So, basically no matter where the mosque is, it will always face toward the qiblah, as a symbol of universal unity among Muslims in worshiping one God. Thus, a qiblah in London will face to the south east and a qiblah in Kuala Lumpur will face to the west. 

Another thing you’ll see inside the mosque is the ablution area. Muslims are commanded to make ablution (wudhu’) as a part of preparation to pray. In some mosques , a separate space for ablution is set in a restroom or washroom. In others, the place for ablution is a fountain-like structure along a wall or in a courtyard.

Hajj and Qurban: A Lesson of Self-Sacrifices in Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha Mubarak to all Muslims! Alhamdulilah, Muslims from every corner of the globe are celebrating this meaningful festival every year. Yes, we knew that most of you know what Eid al-Adha is all about. But a little revision wouldn’t hurt, right? Let’s ponder on the celebration of this beautiful day.

Eid-al-Adha is a day of remembrance. Even in the most joyful times, Muslims make a fresh start of the day with a session of congregational prayers to Allah in an open space. Muslims use the occasion to pray to Allah and to glorify His Name to demonstrate the remembrance of His Grace and Favours. Especially in a Muslim majority country, you’ll see a lot of Muslims taking part in the prayer (maybe including those you’ve never seen in a mosque before. Oops!)

In learning the lesson of Eid al-Adha, we can’t run away from talking about hajj and qurban (sacrifices), and their relations to the spirit of self-sacrifices (chill, bro. It’s not that kind of self-sacrifice). 

Hajj is a massive undertaking in a person’s life. It costs a lot of money and for most Muslims it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hajj however is not a vacation for recreational pleasures. It is a sacrifice. Indeed, the biggest part of the lesson that’s meant to be learned is sacrificing your comfort, your worldly concerns, your preoccupation with material things. One sacrifices all of this to focus purely on God and one’s connection to one’s Creator.

Hajj teaches us humility, humbleness, self control, sacrifice, patience, how to do more with less, but most importantly, how to reconnect with God in pure devotion and worship. This ibadah tests Muslims in different ways of hardships. For some the physical aspects are a big test. For some others it is about discomfort that comes with large crowds. Yet for others the test is more in adapting and accepting to be treated the same as everyone else. For instance, a rich person will still be praying and living in much the same conditions as a poor pilgrim. Their high social status  and/or wealth will not give them any advantage over anyone else.

In addition, the qurban (sacrifices) teaches us to share the wealth we have with others. The food that we eat on this day should remind us of the many who are dying of hunger in Yemen, Gaza, Rohingya, Darfur, Chechnya, Kashmir, and all over the world. For some, it is not easy to give away and share their fortune with strangers. The qurban teaches us that in the end, it is not what we have that matters; it is what we give.

Eid al-Adha Mubarak!

The Sacred Journey of Hajj: Does it end there?

During Hajj, Muslims try their best to seek forgiveness from Allah. Feeling  so close to Allah, the Muslims will be crying and begging for His acceptance. They will never cease to chant the talbiyah (Here I am, O Allaah, here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praises and blessings are Yours, and all sovereignty, You have no partner). 

Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah – blessed and a guidance for the worlds (Quran 3:96).

There is no place on Earth as venerated, as central or as holy to so many people as Makkah. By any objective standard, this valley in the Hijaz region of Arabia is the most celebrated place on Earth. It is so fortunate for those who were given a chance by Allah to see the Kaabah with their eyes, touch it with their hands, and sujood in front of it with their foreheads.

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