Sunday, January 31, 2010

Asking About the Nature of Allah Most High

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "People will keep wondering and asking each other until it is said, 'This is Allah's creation, but who created Allah?' Whoever finds anything like this, let him say, 'I believe in Allah and His messengers.'"

Human beings have limited capacities of sight, sound, hearing, experience and intellect. It is a fact of life that our abilities are not all-powerful. For example, out of the whole electromagnetic spectrum all that human beings are capable of visualizing are the wavelengths between 400 and 700nm. This we call “visible” light. Bees on the other hand are able to see ultraviolet radiation markings on flowers, which guide them to nectaries. Cobras are able to see infrared radiation that warm bodies give off. This allows them to see animals in what is pitch dark to us.

As for our audible abilities, we can hear sounds in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. We cannot hear sounds that are above or below this range. Dogs on the other hand can detect frequencies as high as 45,000 Hz, cats as high as 85,000 Hz, bats 120,000 Hz and dolphins an amazing 200,000 Hz. While dogs, cats, bats, and dolphins have an unusual ability to detect ultrasound, an elephant possesses the unusual ability to detect infrasound of a frequency as low as 5 Hz. Similar is the case of the limitations of our sense of smell and abilities in general. It is no wonder that Allah says: “He knows all that is beyond the reach of a created being's perception as well as all that can be witnessed by a creature's senses or mind - the Great One, the One far above anything that is or could ever be!” (Al-Quran 13:9)

Earlier nations used to pester their prophets to ask Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) all kinds of questions. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says that this resulted in their getting answers that they were not capable of understanding with their limited intelligence and knowledge. As a result of this they turned to disbelief after having experienced belief.

Imagine a flat two dimensional worm that sees and moves in only two directions: forward-backward, right-left. It has no concept of up and down. Should an apple begin to descend into its plane of existence, what would it see?

The worm would see a red point that slowly begins to expand. It mysteriously grows larger and larger. Then as the apple begins to descend through the plane of the worm’s existence, the red expanding circle begins to contract until it becomes a point again and disappears. Once the apple is below the plane that the two dimensional worm exists in, it has disappeared from the worm’s sight. Should the apple speak to the worm, the worm would hear something but not know where the sound is coming from. Were the apple to try to explain its shape to the worm, would the two-dimensional worm be able to make any sense of it?  We too should accept our limitiations and not deny ourselves belief because Allah has withheld some knowledge from us.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NOW I realise the value... :)

These days are very useful for me, in terms of learning of course. The MS courses are actually enhanced by the Quran course I take in the morning. I have NEVER appreciated human intelligence and the intelligence with which our brains have been created... more. The All-Wisdom of Allah Taála has never been more apparent ... Alhamdulillah.

But I wanted to highlight a particular small incident that took place. As my turn came up to recite tajweed letters (we're on umm... **tries to recall**... saakin words. Where we have to stop and all :S...) So khair. I had to recite it like this ..

"Kaaf paish ko, Raa zer Ree, Kuree -- Meem zabar Ma = Ku-ree-maa ... Ku-rim" .. (lol)

Anyway, when I recited the first word, the teacher stopped me (strict teacher - I was sure I'd done something wrong).. and asked, "Where have you learned tajweed from?"
Me: *thinking wildly*.. Er, I haven't learned tajweed from anywhere?
She: You haven't? (thinking I hadn't understood her) : I'm asking you that you have had formal learning in tajweed right?
Me: Um, no I haven't.
(Class generally murmurs : Hainnn?)
She: Huh..?
Me: *equally blank and doesn't know what to say*
She: So where did you learn to recite correctly?
Me: Oh..! Well, you see, our mom used to sit with us and recite the Quran and point out all the correct sounds -- we didn't learn any makhraj formally (heck, I didn't even know what a makhraj IS - I didn't say that :P)..
She: Oh!
Me: Oh and yeah. We have always had the Mecca taraweeh and Mecca Salahs played on TV -- as far as my memory goes, I remember this thing. So we picked up the accent from there.
She: Acha! ... Chalain aagay sunaain.. (Okay, go ahead and recite)..

Anyway, the point of this post is that when I was really small, I remember there was a fixed time in the evening, when me and sis the priss were supposed to wear our lil dupattas, go straight to mom's room, sit down and recite. She used to correct us and point out the pronounciation errors. And then she used to read the tarjuma (translation). This helped us in such an amazing way, that we never had trouble reading the Quran.. and with the correct makharij. We're still not absolutely absolutely perfect in our pronounciation (as I'm finding out here!).. but at least we're okay with the basics.

And THIS makes me realise the extreme extreme value of the extra time a mother sets out for her children, and teaches them something about the Quran. The translation sessions were always followed by explanations and stories related to the prophets. And.. :D I always had fun because I could pick out that she had skipped a para or a line (hehe.. you can't read out EVERYTHING in the Quran to small children yeah). So my job was to pick out that she had missed a line, then go after her with long "Whyyyyy did you miss that line? Whyyyyy isn't it right for us?? Whyyyyyyyyy"... (no wonder I got scolded such a lot :S)

Khair, I'm so very glad and thankful for having a dedicated mother who (despite being a doctor --) didn't give up her basic responsibilites and taught us this stuff.. and it's second nature to us now. Alhamdulillah. People usually spend so much time teaching their kids stuff that would get them to a great pre-nursery ... nursery.... class 1 etc.. But this time should also be utilised in getting them proficient in Quranic recitation. Since we're not native Arabs, we have to learn it (and I bet they have to as well).

May Allah Guide us and Give us Hidayah

Another incident just came to my mind. Parenting related. This friend of mine is here from the US for a couple of weeks. She and I met up yesterday and had a little chat. She has two small kids. One daughter is four and the other is 6 months or so. Masha Allah :D such dolls!
She told me something that struck me as verryyy amazing Masha Allah. She said :

Me: I wonder how you manage it. Two small kids. A house with no servants. Everything + not sleeping at night because of the baby.. Howwwwww
She: Yar.. this was difficult when I had my first child four years ago. Now, my concerns are different...
Me: How can this NOT be difficult NOW..? *wide eyes*
She: See, this part of parenting (changing clothes, feeding them, cooking for them, bathing them, getting them to go to sleep etc) is the easy part. The difficult part is when I sit down with my four-year old, and read her stuff. The difficult part is the "tarbiyat".. this is something I am answerable for ... and this is something that will define them as a good human being and a good momin later on. I have to lay the foundation. And this worry doesn't let me rest for a single second. This is the most difficult part of raising kids..

I was speechless. Look at this parent's concern. Masha Allah, living abroad, she has a very good idea what a child can pick up and adopt as a lifestyle when they go to state schools. So she is exploring the idea of homeschooling OR getting the child into an Islamic School. It's amazing and inspiring to know such moms exist .. and I hope increasing in number :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

An inspiring day :)

The day was inspiring in a very different kind of way. Masha Allah, a woman accepted Islam and said the Kalma in our institute...! Alhamdulillah. What an awe-inspiring moment!

We learned about her more, and basically there was a teachers' class going on upstairs which was being conducted by this Maulana .. and he was the one who made her recite the kalma, and she repeated after him. The best bit was that he said very clearly beforehand, that when somebody accepts Islam, there isn't supposed to be any fanfare, and not something of a special event. But today, since there was a class already going on, with a nice crowd present, and this was a happy occasion, the lady had been called :)

She looked such a sweet, simple lady. We learned later, that her brother had accepted Islam, and married a Muslim lady (a long time back), and she had learned about this deen from her brother and sister-in-law only. Furthermore (something that made me stop short for a while and stare), she is married with 2 or 3 kids (husband hasn't converted). So under Islamic law, when a woman converts to Islam, and the husband doesn't, the nikkah gets over :S And knowing this, she took this hugely bold step!!

Alhamdulillah...if we think about that for a second, we will realise at one that what she did was NOT easy! (I do so hope she gets to keep her children, OR her husband also accepts Islam )...How taken for granted our "musalmaaniat" is :S.. one should really reflect on that.

As a teacher put very aptly "Hum asli nahi, nasli musalmaan hain" (we're not real muslims, we're just born muslims)

May Allah Guide us all Ameen. I would like to read this book waisay.... looks interesting.

You can get it here

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Murakkab of My Mind *scowl*


The day was beyond horrible. And the worst bit is, that I had had such fun yesterday. Things started going downhill from last night, and they just hit rock bottom today. Let me begin.

I have joined a three-month (seh-maahi) course on Quran Fehmi. This course, I had assumed, would be like a class thing - the timings were 9 am to 1 pm everyday except Friday and Sunday. It sounded pretty much okay managed with Masters studies etcetera. In fact, I was quite quite apprehensive in the beginning regarding what's going to happen etc, but only in the first few days, things had looked promising. Even though the subjects were MANY, not one, as I had assumed earlier. Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Arabic Grammar, Arabic Tajwid, Calligraphy (!!), Computer studies and if there was anything else, I'm forgetting. *wearily*

But the thing is, that I had joined the course on the basis of this that we spend a LOAD of time on acquiring knowlegde about the world... and very little time to learn about our deen. And informal learning of deen/Arabic is wayyy different, and wayyyyy more unstable than formal learning. Experience of teachers + the class environment + the competition... it all works towards making one learn and feel motivated enough to learn.

The downside of this course is that it's taught completely totally entirely in Urdu. And I'm ashamed to admit, my Urdu leaves a lot to be desired. I mean, I have problems regarding vocab. And when I stare in confusion at the teacher, she looks at me kindly and explains again (using the same words!) and again... thinking, I don't understand the concept.. while all the time, my vocab is the one thats getting me into trouble.

Well, not only the vocab! My memory TOO. HA! I just ........... cannot............... rote-learn! And the gardaanain (I have no idea whats that in English) is something that one HAS to learn. Now my Dad also studies Arabic online (from this nice teacher called Asif Meherally -- and that teacher sings out the gardaanain :D my dad was singing away too).. but here, it's complete and total, eyes-tightly-shut-body-swaying RATTA.

Hua, Huma, Hum --- Heeyaa, Humaa, Hunna (he, they both, them -- she, they both and them for female). Sighhhhhhhh.

Khair. The worst bit came today when Grammar teacher announced that she would be asking stuff that we have studied in the past few days. I stared at her in horror ... I had thought that she would just ask the gardanain, but apparently, the students had learnt up! And my humiliation was complete when she asked me 'Arbi grammar kee kitni aqsaam hain?' ... and I wasn't able to answer... (in grammar, that's like asking, tell me the spelling of grammar beta).. That simple!

Tajwid wasn't much better. I had painstaingly learned stuff. But I could only say it in my own words! AND I dunno what "taaiyyun" means! I just don't!.. and I always in my life thought "daarh" means the tooth! But apparently, it means the gums/root of teeth. **sniffles**... No wonder they all grinned and flashed their teeth. I'm somewhat of a joke in class. Not to mention, I was introduced to the new kid in class as "Aray, yeh to humari class kee angraiz hain" -- I've never been so embarrassed in my life. I have no excuse for not knowing Urdu.. (even though :D bless Mum... she indignantly said today that you should have said to the class that your parents both are non-Urdu speaking!).. and I was like Mum... we've always been spoken to in Urdu at home nah, .. but her reply was that :) you guys haven't been spoken to in real/salees Urdu!

In a nutshell, I have to endure this. I am learning, but it comes with a price. And it doesn't make sense to me to learn so much stuff (cram it all in and rote-learn) and forget all about it in a few weeks. My dad still recites the grammar (sings) :P.. because the methodology with which he was taught was designed to preserve learning. How I wish we can come up with learning/preserving methodologies as well.

I know I'm not going to remember this later on: See, there is something called "murakkab" (the teacher said after a long time that in english, we call is compound)... :S She could have said it earlier, and saved me eons of confusion ... Anyway, this murakkab thingie has 4 or 5 types. One of the types is called "Murakkab-e-Tauseefi" and this Murakkab-e-Tauseefi has four ways in which you can look at a word and recognize it as Murakkab-e-Tauseefi...(four identifiers kinda)..otherwise it's some other Murakkab...
I listened to this whole thing with disbelief... I'm not able to understand maybe...but I'm clueless as to the importance of studying this.. SAY, I read the Quran and look at a compound sentence and say heyyy this is a Murakkab! And heyy heyy heyyy heyyyy...four identifiers are there! So this is a Murakkab-e-Tauseefi!

SO what?!!!

What does that gain me!!??

If somebody understands rules of Grammar, please enlighten me!

Tajwid is another disaster ... Huroof-e-Halqi, Huroof-e-Shafwiaa, Huroof-e-Lahaatia, Huroof-e-Haafia etc etc etc you got to know the alphabets that fall under these categories, and their makhaarij (from what part of your face will you pronounce them)!! And dare you explain them in your own words :(... the class stares in amusement, and teacher pronounces "Aagay peechay bola hay, ooncha neecha hay laikin chal jayy gaa" .... *deep sigh*

The Calligraphy thing was okay...had never used a cut-pen before :D... I mean, I suck at drawing, but I didn't think I was that bad at "Khush-Khatti" :P... until I went to the teacher, and showed my stuff. The response was "Yeh jeem sahee say nahi bana hua need to practise lots!" ...

So long!

My not so great attempts :D

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rewards according to Deeds

[Sahih Muslim : Book 35 Kitab Al-Dhikr, Number 6518]

Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu- alleihi-wasallam ) as saying:
"He who alleviates the suffering of a brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allah would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Resurrection, and he who finds relief for one who is hard pressed, Allah would make things easy for him in the Hereafter, and he who conceals (the faults) of a Muslim, Allah would conceal his faults in the world and in the Hereafter. Allah is at the back of a servant so long as the servant is at the back of his brother, and he who treads the path in search of know- ledge, Allah would make that path easy, leading to Paradise for him and those persons who assemble in the house among the houses of Allah (mosques) and recite the Book of Allah and they learn and teach the Qur'an (among themselves) there would descend upon them the tranquility and mercy would cover them and the angels would surround them and Allah makes a mention of them in the presence of those near Him, and he who is slow-paced in doing good deeds, his (high) descent does not make him go ahead."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Take care of today only

Excerpt from the book "You can be the Happiest Woman in the World" written by Dr Aid-al-Qarni.

A happy person once said:

"The beautiful day is the day on which we have control of our affairs and our affairs do not control us. It is the day on which we control our desires and we are not controlled by them like slaves.

Some of these days I can remember and will never forget.

Every day on which I managed to save myself from the vicious circle of worrying about what I can and cannot do is a wonderful day.

How wonderful is the day on which I was hesitating whether to do a deed for which people would praise me or a deed for which no one would praise me, and no one would know abut it, so I forsook the praise of people and was content to do an action which I will remember for as long as I live, but which no one will hear about.

How wonderful is the day on which I felt that my pockets were filling with money but my conscience was devoid of dignity, so I decided that I would rather be penniless and have a clear conscience.

These days are wonderful and the most wonderful thing about them is that my worldly gain on these days is very small, but the fact that I gained self-respect from my actions far outweighs that, and what I gained on such days is great, praise be to Allah, the Exalted, All-Merciful."

"Be happy for what is in your hand, content with whatever Allah has decreed and give up all daydreams that do not suit your efforts and abilities."
An excellent read :). I highly recommend it. Even though I have yet to finish it whole, I know this is one great book. Why? It doesn't teach anything new. But it reinforces the already-learned/heard-about stuff in a manner that it just strikes deep into the heart, and stays there ... for at least sometime.

We leave too many things on "tomorrow" (like my exercise plans, Arabic learning, and reading some amazing books I have, but never gotten down to reading them! *scowls at herself*), but the only day when one should start, is today. We have no clue what's going to happen tomorrow. And being a Karachite in 2010, I say it with 200% certainty now. Nobody knows. And hence, the only way we can earn some good deeds now, is starting now... and not later. Good luck and prayers for...

Monday, January 4, 2010

A fitting reply

Once Jesus (alayhi salam) met IblÏs [Satan] and IblÏs said, “Is it not true that only what has been decreed will happen?”

Jesus replied, “That is true.”

Then IblÏs said, “So throw yourself down from the top of this mountain, and let us see if you live or not!”

Jesus answered, “The servant does not test his master; rather, it is the master who tests his servant.”

Source: “Walk on Water The Wisdom of Jesus” by Hamza Yusuf