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"life & Islam"

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  • "life & Islam"

    Salaams all,

    At last I'v finally attached the article to this message for all brothers and sisters to read. Enjoy reading it and please give me some feed back on what your thoughts are on it.

    Life and Islam

    Life, a word so simple yet so complicated when defined. It comes and goes in various forms, each and everyone having its own special purpose in this world. Human life would appear to have the better deal over all others, mainly because we are on top of the food chain, and have brains that outsmart the rest. Initiated from a minute cell, given life from the first breath of air; to be then nurtured by the mother and allowed to live the life from here on, by free will.

    However, as a child is born it can not survive without the help of someone, usually the mother. It is very dependent and needs love and guidance to grow into a healthy human being. At a certain stage this dependency begins to decrease because the individual can begin to do everything to his/her own accord. Life becomes a lot clearer, problems appear one after the other, and become harder to solve. Why do we begin to face problems? One can say that everything in life can be simplified; there is a problem, a method and a solution. Why isn’t life as black and white as this? Why are we given a life? Where did that first life come from in our ancestral history? And above all what is the purpose of life?

    These are a few questions we may ask ourselves when our minds become curious from time to time. Something to bear in mind about questions asked, is that Islam does have a set of rules and obligations to gain the knowledge from. Additionally, the real beauty of Islam is that there is a logical answer to any question that can be posed by a human being. The more you question Islam the more you realise how relevant and important the religion is.

    As a Muslim myself, I feel I know the answers to the questions mentioned enough to meet my curiosities. Although I will not go into them, as you could write a whole book on each one. I do intend to focus on the purpose of life, and I aim to keep this article short and to the point. I have used several quotes from the Qur’an and the Hadith to help justify my explanations. I have given examples of things some Muslims do that are not liked by Islam, but I want to make it clear that I am not stereotyping in anyway, as we all are different, and some of us are better Muslims than others. But who can be the judge of that is best left to Allah (SWT) alone.

    In relation to the problems we face in life and the stresses we have to overcome, Allah has said “You will face calamities (distress/grief) as trial and not as punishment or torment. These trials aim at showing mankind as to who is the true believer, dedicated to the will of Allah”. This quote also fits nicely in explaining the purpose of our life in some ways.

    What has always fascinated me is questioning the existences of humans and for what purpose. Everything created has some sort of function or reason for its existence. As it is said in the Qur'an: ‘indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the (great) ships that sail through the sea with which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every (kind of) moving creature, and (his) directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for people who use reason.’ (Soorah Al-Baqarab (2):164). These are but a few examples of things created for a reason, yet some individuals still question them.

    For those who question the existence of Allah and his teachings, here is an example for you to think about. Man has made a variety of objects throughout history. For example aeroplanes to fly from one destination to another. Each component put together conducts its very own function and without one piece it will not be able to fly properly. Similarly man has made houses or buildings for accommodation or other reasons, but each brick has its task in keeping the building together. We know that the aeroplane or the house exists because we have physically made it and the proof is there in front of us. However, do we ever stop to think who put us humans together? For what purpose were we made? Our bodies containing distinctive parts, which have their own functions; the heart pumping blood, the lungs exchanging air, the kidneys purifying the blood or minute cells having their own little job to do etc. All these mechanisms in the body exist to keep it going, but for what reason?

    As man made the flying machines to fly, houses to live in, God has made us humans to live our life in love, peace, and his remembrance. To also believe that he exists and to follow his rules, like you would follow the aeroplane manual to fly. There is a good metaphoric example in the Qur’an stating that life: “... is as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth of pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw…and the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Surah 57, Al- Hadid). This quote brings another obvious fact yet denied by many people. That every life created will some day come to an end. How often do we think of death? Although it is not a nice thought, we all have to experience it at some point. It is this life that we can mould to what ever we want but we only get one chance. Therefore, it is important that we make the right choices.

    It is important for Muslims to know how to put God’s laws, as contained in the Qur’an, into practice. To briefly touch the five pillars of Islam all Muslims should believe that there is no deity except God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. To read the five obligatory prayers, make payment to the poor (Zakah), the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj), and to fast during Ramadan. These are just the basics’ of Islam and there is a lot more a true Muslim should do to be closer to Allah. As stated in the Qur’an, Allah said, “…My slave keeps coming closer to me through performing Nawafil (praying) till I love him. Then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks me, I will give him…” (Sahi Al-Buhari, Vol. 8, Hadith no.509).

    Do we, as Muslims, do all the basic aspects we are obliged to do? Do we pray five times a day, or read the Qur’an and understand its meaning? Do we tell the truth all the time, not get angry, or not hurt any ones feelings as our prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us not to do? Do we try and help the needy or pay the poor with out thinking twice? Do we rather pay money for food, clothing, medicine for a needy person, the things we can take for granted, than spend it on expensive or unnecessary items for ourselves?

    If your answers are more on the yes side to these questions, then you are on the right path. The aim of this article is to point out where we as Muslims in today’s world are going wrong. Additionally, I have conducted a study to support my statements. We seem to be influenced by other cultures, and Western traditions, that are distancing us from Islam and its teachings. The western traditions and lifestyles seem to become a norm, with generations slowly changing without obvious notice. We should accept that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, traditions, and lifestyles. The differences between societies is not recent but has gone on for hundreds of years. However, it is important to know the differences and not to forget the Islamic guidance.

    How often do some of us question praying the five obligatory prayers, find other worldly important things to do instead. Using tiredness, or poor time management, as excuses. We become so lost in this world and the problems we face that we sometimes forget the purpose of our life. As it is supported in the Qur’an: “and the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the Hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious). (Surah 6 Al- Am’am).

    How keen are we in learning about our true religion, its meaning, or the history of Islam? Instead some of us would rather read a western magazine, or a novel which gives have no benefit in life Hereafter what so ever. How keen are we to practice the teachings of Islam more then normal? Someone tells/shows us that this is the right way Islamically, you think about it a few minutes, then its forgotten. Maybe this article can be another example, I am stating where I think we are going wrong, but will you seriously consider these views and start practising Islam properly?

    This is why Allah (SWT) has created free will for us; the choice is yours and makes life a little more interesting. This is so that Allah (SWT) knows who are really his true believers. For Allah stated: “Some of you desired this world and some of you desired the Hereafter. Therefore He made you free (to choose) from them He might try you.” (Al-e Imran: 152). These are the starting points of the mistakes we are making in our lives. It is therefore, up to us to make that choice, and show more dedication so we can a have a better life in this world and the life after.

    To make this article interesting I went out and asked several people what they would like to achieve in life. This was an indirect question to find out what they really thought was the purpose of life for them. I predicted and aimed to prove that on the contrary, most Muslims when asked this question, will have some materialistic achievement for this world first. Conversely, it would not be right for me to make strong conclusions from the study, as it is very small and everyone is different. The best judgement is left to Allah (SWT) alone, although this study can be a learning point for us all.

    There were no variables such as nationality, race differences, but the subjects were all Muslim, I tried to get an equal number of male/female answers, and with the age ranges of 10-20, 20-30, 30-40, and 40-50 years. Subjects were chosen randomly amongst my family and friends, and some out of the circle.

    To reduce bias the question was asked in a normal conversation at first, not mentioning what the study was about, and what the aim was. I explained the question to the subject; to mention generally the most important aspects in life, in whatever depth he/she would like to go to. This was because just asking ‘what do you want to achieve in life?’ would have been misguiding and the subject may have just mentioned things that are happening at present, and not about life in general. The question was open-ended, so therefore there was less bias from myself. After the question was answered the study was explained to the subject, and the answer was ethically approved by asking permission. I recorded the results and have displayed the answers anonymously in the table below:

    Subject No. Gender Age Range Answer given

    1 Male 10-20 Become a good sports man, have my own business. Have a big house, happy family the usual stuff.

    2 Male 10-20 Have a bran new sports car and loads of money.

    3 Female 10-20 Have a big house, a Mercedes car, take driving lessons and pass! Get a good job.

    4 Female 10-20 Have a good career and a massive mansion.

    5 Male 20-30 To be happy with a partner

    6 Male 20-30 Have loads of money, be happy, feel good and have a good life.

    7 Male 20-30 Don’t know.

    8 Male 20-30 To be happy and to make everyone around me happy. To please Allah and earn a place in the life after.

    9 Female 20-30 Have a nice partner who loves and cares for me so life can be good.

    10 Female 20-30 Get married, settle down and become a housewife.

    11 Female 20-30 Be with someone I could be happy with.

    12 Female 20-30 No real gain in life, but to do Hajj one-day inshallah.

    13 Male 30-40 Want to have food on the table on time, and remember Allah often.

    14 Male 30-40 Become a millionaire and have a better home. So can then take time off without a worry. Go on holidays and see new places.

    15 Female 30-40 Raise children as best as I can, live for others, and pay the poor.

    16 Female 30-40 I want to be happy and gain a place in heaven

    17 Male 40-50 Have no dream of achievement without the approval of God. Live life as it comes, and as long as I can answer the 3 questions asked at death by the angels correctly, I don’t need to achieve any more.

    18 Male 40-50 To be happy with the rest of my life, and to pray more.

    19 Female 40-50 No real aim in life but wanted to be happy with family and try to have a good life.

    20 Female 40-50 To achieve the love of Allah and to please him in this life.

    Examining the results of the study it is quite obvious that most subjects wanted happiness in this world. Either it is money, a better house, car, holidays, or a good family; the answers are mostly in some ways very materialistic. Happiness can have different definitions, as we all have our own desires. Nevertheless, it does not always work out the way we would like, but why? We all have problems from time to time, which make us feel unhappy and stressed out.
    In this world life is not constant, rather circumstances will vary between that which we like and that which we do not like. The wise of us, when we think about this world, will realize that we need to develop an optimistic outlook and put an end to worries and distress that could disturb us and cause stress. What makes it difficult to overcome stress, is the feeling that it seems to last forever. You have a problem, which you feel may last for years, you feel really down, you want to solve it or escape it but there seems to be no way out. What do you do? Continue struggling on your own to solve the problem, only to realise it leads to another, and soon you’re life is over. Years go by so fast that when you look at your past, it seems like a short dream, which lasted only a moment. If only all of us turned to the one who created us in the first place, we would realise that these so called long term problems are only for a short while, the real life is the hereafter; for eternity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah ta’la sent a revelation to Hazrat Isa (alaihis-salaam): Put absolute trust in me, for I shall take upon Myself the responsibility to fulfil all your needs…”.
    What the Shaytaan wants to do is to cause Muslims grief and stress. Being introverted and thinking constantly about pain and sorrow, gives the Shaytaan a great opportunity, and may cause worries and stresses to multiply. Looking forward to a happy life and being optimistic, is one of the ways of feeling content and at peace. It is known that this world is a mixture of ease and hardship, joy and sorrow, hope and pain, so why should a person help the dark side to prevail over the bright side?
    Wisdom dictates that if a man cannot make optimism success, then at the very least he should think in a balanced and objective manner.
    Feelings of stress and that life is too hard do not control an individual’s mind unless there are reasons that provoke these kinds of feelings. Rather they are indicative that the relationship between a person and his Lord is not sound. The more a person turns to Allah and focuses on Him, the more he/she will feel a sense of peace and comfort, to an extent that no one knows except Allah. Hence those who know Allah, are close to Him and fear Him are the happiest of people, to such an extent that one of them said, in a well known expression: “If the kings and the sons of kings knew what joy we have, they would fight us for it with the sword.” This is also what is expressed in the Qur’an, as Allah says: “Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).” (Al-Nahl 16:97).
    But feeling stressed is a kind of wake-up call that alerts a person to check on his relationship with his Lord, because sins may have the effect of making a person feel scattered and unfocused. Allah says: “But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’an nor acts on its teachings) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ta-Ha 20:124).
    So is this where we could be going wrong? Would you allow the Shaytaan to continue confusing your thoughts and intentions, making you feel constantly stressed and in suffering. Or do you want to do some thing about it by following the path of Islam whole-heartedly?
    From all the answers given only one person out of the 20 subjects gave a full Islamic answer (male, aged 40-50 years). This showed that his achievement was Allah alone, and the life after. There was also a noticeable pattern amongst the age groups, showing that the younger subjects had very materialistic aims in their lives. The ages between 20-30 where materialistic in some ways, but tended to want a happy partner/marriage which is understandable as the age explains, and it is this person who will influence them for the rest of their lives. Although, from the eight subjects asked, only two mentioned Islamic achievements. The older subjects gave the most serious and realistic answers; again it is down to age and also experience. There were no noticeable differences between male and female subjects.
    Coming to some final conclusions, I found that what I had predicted was in fact right in some ways, as most answers given were materialistic. However, when the study was explained to the subjects, stating the purpose the view and attitude towards the question changed for most of them. They began to add to their answers Islamic comments; saying they would think and practice Islam in their life. However, I told them that is was too late to change the answers. This was because I expected Allah/Islam to spring to the mind first, then all else follows. This was not the case for most of the subjects as this study has proved.
    You’re probably thinking why am I doing this article and study, but what are my views as the author on achievement of my life? What is the point of this article? Well, I myself a little while ago, would have probably answered similarly to the subjects in this study. I wanted a big house, a new car, go on holidays, see places and have loads of money and be very happy. Who doesn’t want all these things in life? We are after all human and Allah (SWT) has given us feelings; as stated in the Qur'an: “man has been created of hasty temperament (nature)…” (Al-Qur'an 21:37). However, we have been given a mind to think, to chose right from wrong, to be patient, to control our anger, to be good, to be more caring and loving towards others, and to appreciate life for what it really is.
    After having a stressful environment, studying Islam and still continuing to gain more knowledge, my views have changed. I no longer wanted a big house, a new car or more money, because I realised that I have everything, if not more than I need to live this life. More than some poor individual who doesn’t have a small house or who doesn’t know where he/she will find the next scrap of food. I want to gain more knowledge of Islam, remember Allah (SWT) more often, to be close to Him, practice Islam properly, and to Inshallah, do Hajj one day. I want to take this opportunity to make you think and realise what I did, so that we find happiness with what we have and not what we want. Allah (SWT) loves those who are patient, thankful for whatever life brings, and put their trust in Him. For Allah (SWT) states: “...and those who are patient, seeking the pleasure of their Allah, and establish the prayers, and spend out of what We (Allah) has bestowed upon them secretly and openly, and shun away evil by means of goodness. For them is the blissful end of the ultimate abode (Paradise).” (Al Ra’ad: 22).
    Something to note, we and all that we call our home, property, family etc belong to Allah (SWT). All calamities, pains and difficulties are temporary. All pleasures and pains in this world are governed by our existence in the world. Whatever we lose in this world, we will surely gain it in the world hereafter. Peace of mind in this world depends on how strongly we adhere to our beliefs, and trust me, it is worth thinking about. To also remind ourselves that this life won’t last forever and we will face death someday, all on our own.
    So the next time you are reading a magazine, a novel, listening to music, or sitting in front of the television, think twice, whether you could be doing some thing more practical with your time. Something that will give you a peace of mind, that will benefit you for the eternal life after and relieve you from stress. I don’t need to tell you what, because I’ll leave the thinking and doing up to you.
    May Allah (SWT) guide us all the right way and forgive us for our miss guidance. Ameen.
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  • #2
    jazakAllah sister. That article was eloquently done, and the points you made, well taken. truly an inspiring piece of work my sister. you have certainly given me much to reflect upon, and a feeling that i need to prioritize. i have had this feeling, and have been trying to ask myself in everything i do, will this please Allah? and now reading your article has given me added motivation. so right you are about how we waste our time in temporary things.
    may Allah guide us and help us to remember in everything we do, that this life is but temporary, ameen.
    your sister, Jaserah