Month of Love, Gates of Goodness, Genuine Effort

Issue 695 » July 20, 2012 - Ramadan 1, 1433

Living The Quran

Month of Love
Al-Baqarah (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 165 (partial)

"those who have faith are stronger in their love for Allah."

Love has many manifestations, degrees, and types. The way a child loves his or her parents is not the same as the way a woman may love her husband, and likewise, the way a person may love chocolate, per se, is not the same way a person would love his or her Lord (or at least we hope not). However, in all of these types of love there is a common and key theme, that of sacrifice and fulfillment. The more we love something, the more we are willing to sacrifice for it, and the more we will strive to fulfill the every command and wish of our beloved.

Indeed, sacrifice and fulfillment are from amongst the essential components that make up love, along with longing and cherishing. And this is why we should see that love, along with hope and fear, is a pillar of our worship. Our worship will not be complete or acceptable until it encompasses the right amounts of love, hope, and fear.

It is an individual's love for his/her child and family that will make them wake up in the late hours of the night to prepare a nice meal for suhur (the pre-dawn meal). In the same vein, it is an individual’s love for his community that will drive him to take time off of work to ensure his fellow Muslims have sufficient food for iftar (the meal at sunset). And it is our love for Allah, as Muslims, which drives us to sacrifice the two pinnacles of desire, food and marital relations, for no other reason than the pleasure of our very Creator.

Our love for Allah (glorified and praised is He) does not stop here but, rather, merely just begins. One of the key pillars of loving Allah lies in following the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, and an exemplary role model he is.

Compiled From:
"Ramadhân: The Month of Love" - Abu Abdir-Rahman Mohammad Navaid Aziz

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Gates of Goodness

On the Authority of Muaadh Ibn Jamal (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Shall I not inform you of the gates of goodness? [They are] fasting [which] is a shield, charity [which] extenguishes the sins like water extinguishes a fire and the prayer of a man in the depths of the night." [Recorded by al-Tirmidhi]

In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has called fasting a shield, like the shield that one uses in the battlefield. The shield protects a person from the enemy and fasting protects a person from committing sins and from entering the Hell-fire.

Ibn Rajab points out that fasting is a shield only if the act of fasting is not harmed by foul or improper speech. Then Ibn Rajab makes the point that if fasting is not a shield from committing sins in this world, it will not be a shield from the Hell-fire in the next. Al-Baitaar points out that the word for shield is in the indefinite. This implies that it can be every type of shield. It is a shield from the Hell-fire, from Allah's anger, from disease in this world, from straying from the Straight Path, from becoming arrogant and so forth.

The reference here is to voluntary charity not the obligatory zakat. Furthermore, the sins referred to here are the minor sins that are between a human and Allah. The major sins are not included here nor are the acts of wrong done toward others. The major sins are not extinguished by charity but are in need of repentance. Wrong done toward others need their forgiveness.

The word jauf when used along with the word night means the middle of the night. That is the case here. There are many aspects that make the late-night prayer special. First and foremost, it is a prayer. The best action or matter is prayer. Second, the prayer said in the late-night is more virtuous than the voluntary prayers during the day because it is further from ostentation and being done for show. Furthermore, it is easy to have the fear of Allah and concentrate on the prayer in the late-night prayer as there are few disturbances at that time. It increases one's sincerity to Allah.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp 1093-1101


Genuine Effort

You must have a deep desire to make a genuine effort to fulfil your obligations as a Muslim. With desire, of course, come actions. But know that it is not solely the results of your endeavours that count; what matters most is that you made your best effort. This is a very important point to appreciate because without genuine effort nothing can happen. Those who think that Prayer alone can work miracles are not living in a realistic world. Prayers are part of the effort, but Prayers are not the whole answer. If you pray, `Allah! Guide me and make me good', it is not going to bring you any benefit unless you are also determined to become good and make an effort towards becoming good. Once you have done the latter two things, then, of course, Prayer will be a source of baraka or Divine grace that will further inspire and strengthen your efforts.

The initial desire and the ensuing effort to do and become good, is part of the continuing process of self-development, a process that may begin at any point in life that you choose and continue till your last breath.

There will never be a point when you will be able to say that you are now a perfect person or that you have achieved your full potential. If at any point you feel so, then be sure that is the starting point of your downfall, On the other hand, you may find that the greater your desire to fulfill your obligations as a Muslim, the more you feel beset or plagued by frustration, despondency and despair in your heart and mind. All of us, whether young or old, have experienced these diseases, and often just give up. What we should try to remember at such times is that it is the intention and effort that matters, not the result. This effort must be a continuing process.

Compiled From:
"In the Early Hours" - Khurram Murad, pp. 10,11