What is your ultimate devotion?
“You’re either devoted to your job, or to your desires. So the best way to spend your life is to try to be devoted to prayer, to Allah.” – Mos Def, East Coast rapper
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!
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).
Never underestimate the power of a du’a. It is indeed the strongest weapon of the believers. Continue calling.out to Him. Repeat your du’a again and again.
Allah is All-Knowing, He is aware of everything and He wants us to know that. when Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun were told to speak to Pharoah, they were understandably afraid. They said to Allah:
“Our Lord, indeed we are afraid that he will hasten [punishment] against us or that he will transgress.”
And look how Allah responded to reassure them:
“Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see ”(Qur’an, 20:45-46).
So when you are feeling lonely or in difficulty, make prayers to the One who hears everything and sees everything. He is so close to you that He listens to your words when they are spoken or when you just keep them in your heart. Rest assured that the difficulty you are going through has not gone unnoticed.
He understands our prayers, even when we can’t find the right words to express them. So make your Du’a.
“Why does it seem like Allah doesn’t accept my du’a?” He reached to me, I almost couldn’t hold my tears.
I have just finished my Zuhr prayer when a friend of mine came by. One look at his haggard face and I knew he was not the usual, happy guy I used to spend time together with.
I could see worry, despair and disappointment written all over his face. He sat by my side, looked down and struck my heart with some heavy questionings.
“I’m so tired of asking from Allah. Why the deafening silence? Am I asking too much? Is my constant asking displeasing Him ? Why should my turning to Him displease Him? Why am I being rebuked after I gave all of my heart and soul submitting to Him?”
My heart trembled, my eyes welled with tears from listening to his cracking voice. He was just being honest about his feelings. Certainly, this was not the cheerful, happy-go-lucky guy as people used to know him. This is his inner self crying from the depth of his being, breaking, despairing and gasping for some air of hope from anywhere he could get .
As I tried to bring myself together, I wrapped my arm around his shoulders and said:
“You know, brother. Allah is so close to our being that He knows us better than anyone else. Allah is fond of our repeated appeals to Him because He made us so inclined. It is our fitrah to unwaveringly seek for His constant support. So how could He be displeased with our persistent dua – our cry for His rescue?”
As a lifelong friend, I had come to know him rather intimately — the ups and downs he had gone through, the heavy trials and tribulations he had faced, and how all this had made him a rugged survivor.
But now he is beset with nagging doubts as to whether Allah is really listening to him and granting what he had persistently asked for.
“Brother,” I patted his back. “There are three ways in which Allah responds to our supplications”:
1. Allah decides to grant us precisely what we asked for.
Sometimes, Allah does accept our request as it is. For instance, when we fell sick and prayed for Him to cure us. At the appointed time, praise be to Allah, we found ourselves in the pink of health again.
We might be in a financial crisis, and we knew that money never rain from the sky. And we have nowhere to avail ourselves of a quick fortune. So, We asked from Him. Suddenly someone appeared on the scene and voluntarily paid our dues.
We asked for the ease of heart after offering shahada and embracing this religion of Islam as our heart fluttered upon making that life-changing decision. Gradually, Allah granted us that ease.
2. Allah decides not to grant our requests so as to save us from a worse outcome.
We have been asking for a raise in our salary for some time already, but still, we returned home with a gloomy face on our payday. We began to wonder that since a pay raise is not a sinful thing to desire for, why isn’t Allah granting it to us then?
The truth is Allah knows us better than we do about ourselves. For all we know, had we been granted that ‘privilege’ of a pay raise we have been asking, we could be under severe pressure later — due to the heavier workload or responsibility that came with that salary raise — such that we would not be able to bear it.
Perhaps, we might also become conceited and forget altogether that Allah is the sole reason for all the blessings. For our own ultimate benefit Allah desires that our faith in Him to be preserved intact by not being traded with the fleeting worldly trappings. For indeed Allah is the All-Knowing beyond the boundary of time?
So, our supplication is virtually answered by His relieving us of what is a worse outcome and for which we ought, indeed, to be grateful.
3. Allah decides to defer our earthly reward for the ultimate recompense of Jannah in the Hereafter.
It feels like we have been asking forever. In the end, all we get is but the eternal prison of hope. The hardship remains until the end of our earthly time.
In such a predicament the right and wise thing for us to do is to stick with Him no matter how dark the tunnel of our life is.
Let our conscience be illuminated that by this tribulation Allah is answering our supplication with even a better gift – the ultimate, the eternal reward of jannah in the Hereafter. What could be a better victory for us than Divine forgiveness and Jannah as our homes? To think that after all the suffering that we had to endure going through this earthly life, it is unbelievable that we are finally reaching the best finishing line of our journey.
So instead of despairing, what we ought to say is “O Allah, forgive us for having bad thoughts of You. O Allah, grant us our Duas with what You know is the best for us. Amin.
May Allah grant us the strength and the wisdom to keep being steadfast. May Allah strengthen the heart and spirit of my friend, and the heart and spirit of ours too.
Life is a series of tests. Literally. As soon as we get through one test, another one is coming for us. Time and time again these tribulations slam right at our faces without respite. At the end of the day, we are left in a daze, asking the only question that seems fit to be asked: ‘When will all this be over?’ And then we sit, waiting for the answer, hoping that relief will come soon.
Allah promises us that with every difficulty there is relief. We must never lose hope that our situation will improve.
Say: “My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.”Quran 39:53
The help of Allah is near to those who believe.