Quran

Surah Maryam: 4 Powerful Family Lessons

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam: 4 Powerful Family Lessons

The 19th chapter of the Quran, Surah Maryam, is one of the most powerful Surahs in the Quran. With a strong focus on the prophets and their families, this Surah is full of amazing lessons for families.

Here are four important lessons from this story:

1. Miracles can happen

The opening story of Surah Maryam is about Prophet Zakaria (AS) and the miraculous birth of his son Yahya (AS). Prophet Zakaria (AS) prayed for a son and was granted one as a miracle at an old age. The lesson here is to never give up, and to never lose hope in Allah’s Mercy.

No matter what family problems you are facing, remain positive and optimistic. Continue to make dua to Allah for assistance. And never lose hope. Miracles happen all the time, we just need to stay strong.

2.Respect Your Elders Even When disagreeing

The third story of Surah Maryam focuses on Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and the Dawah he did to his father Azar. Prophet Ibrahim’s (AS) father was an idol maker. So he called him to Tawheed.

The main point to note in this passage is that no matter how astray his father was, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) continued to address him in the most respectful manner.

Too often, young Muslims speak to their elders very disrespectfully when trying to correct them. In doing so, they cause more harm than good. Remain respectful no matter what, as that is what Islam teaches.

3. Your family are a gift

In multiple places in Surah Maryam, Allah mentions a family member as a gift to another, even using the word ‘wahaba’ which means to gift. Prophet Musa (AS) was gifted with a brother Prophet Harun (AS). Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was gifted his sons and grandson. Maryam was gifted with Prophet Eesa (AS).

The lesson for us all here is that righteous family are a gift. Cherish them and thank Allah for them. Avoid conflict, and patch things up when you slip up. Do not allow the devil to cause problems between you and your family.

4. Righteousness isn’t guaranteed

After mentioning all of these prophets, Allah says, “And after them, there came a generation who abandoned prayers and followed their desires. So soon they will be thrown into Hellfire,” (Surah Maryam 19:59)

This verse should teach us a very important lesson. Because you are a good Muslim and striving to raise your children properly, you may think they will also become righteous. However, their righteousness (and the righteousness of future generations) is not guaranteed.

Your job is simply to show them the right way, teach them and to pray for them. Whether they choose the right way as adults or not is not something you control. This is the hardest lesson for many of us to swallow, and pray to Allah not to test us with offspring that go astray.

However, it is crucial to know this so that we can prepare ourselves to deal with the tests of life.

These are four important lessons related to family taken from Surah Maryam.

For more Tafseer lessons, check out our eBook: Themes of the Quran.

Themes of the Quran

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 1 comment

Surah Yasin: 3 Powerful Lessons that will boost your faith

Surah Yasin

Surah Yasin

Surah Yasin: A Chapter About Faith

Known as the heart of the Quran to many, Surah Yasin is one of the most beloved Surahs in the Quran. All around the world, millions of Muslims memorize and recite this Surah.

Yet, how many of us have studied its Tafseer or reflected on its lessons?

Here is a brief summary of Surah Yasin taken from my book Themes Of The Quran:

This is a famous Makkan Surah, although most of the virtues attributed to it are based on weak or fabricated Hadiths. The theme of the Surah is Tawheed, but in this Surah there are three different methods used to show the Oneness of Allah. (Themes Of The Quran, P. 66)

It is a Surah about the Oneness of Allah, and we should reflect on that whenever we recite this Surah.

In this short article, I want to reflect on three powerful lessons I learned when studying Surah Yasin:

1. The Crowd isn’t always right

The main story in this Surah is about a city to which three prophets were sent. The Quran does not mention the names of the Prophets or the city. This information is not important, as Allah wants us to reflect on the lessons from this story instead.

In this story, the entire city rejects the prophets, except for one man. He believes and openly calls his people towards the truth. For his courage, he is killed by his people. Allah enters him into Paradise as a reward for his sacrifice.

The lesson here is clear: the truth isn’t always with the majority. And we must stand clearly for the truth, even if we are the only people doing so.

In this era, when so many Muslims are changing Islam to suit liberal values, we must stand firm on our principles even if nobody else is doing so.

2. We may only find success in the Afterlife

Many modern Self Help programs pitch the idea that you are the captain of your own fate. They claim that you can change your future and get whatever you want in this world. As Muslims, we must reject this idea.

Yes, we aim high, work hard and strive for noble goals. But we know that success comes from Allah. He is in charge of our faith. Allah controls our destiny, and all victory comes from Him.

In this story, the people rejected the prophets. Only one person believed the prophets. The people killed this man too. No amount of Self Help advice could change that. It was their destiny to face these challenges.

In return, they did not see much in terms of worldly victories. Instead, they attained Paradise which is the ultimate victory!

Sometimes we lose sight of what really matters. Paradise should be our real goal. As we continue to strive and work hard in this world, we should also be happy with whatever destiny Allah chooses for us. Knowing that our real success lies in the Afterlife.

3. Allah’s Signs Are All Around Us

The bulk of Surah Yasin focuses on the signs of Allah in this universe. We live in an era of Atheism and Agnosticism. Part of the reason for this is that we have surrounded ourselves with man-made inventions and forget to reflect on the miraculous creations of Allah that surround us.

Take some time out of your busy life to spend time in nature. Soak in the beauty of Allah’s Creations all around us. Gaze at the stars and study the universe. The more you reflect, the stronger your faith in Allah will grow.

The proof of the design exists in the beautiful design of everything around us. We just have to stop to look and we will see it everywhere!

You can learn more Tafseer with our exclusive eBook:

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 0 comments

4 Personal Development Lessons from Surah Duha

Surah Duha

Lessons from Surah Duha

Surah Duha is considered one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed in Makkah. It was revealed at a time which the Prophet (pbuh) faced great emotional stress regarding the future of Islam. The core theme of this Surah is one of hope and optimism. This makes it an excellent Surah to analyze for personal development lessons.

Translation of Surah Duha

  1. By the morning light
  2. And by the night when it darkens
  3. Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor is He displeased
  4. And what is to come is better for you than what has passed
  5. And soon Your Lord will give you and you will be pleased
  6. Did He not find you an orphan, and He gave you a family?
  7. And He found you wondering, and granted you guidance
  8. And He found you in need, and enriched you
  9. So as for the orphan, do not mistreat him
  10. And as for the beggar, do not repel him
  11. And as for the blessings of your Lord, then proclaim

Lesson One: Be Optimistic

This is the core theme of this Surah and as such, it is the primary lesson of this Surah. As Muslims, our approach to life must be one of optimism. We are not meant to be a pessimistic people. Rather, we must live our lives with hope in Allah’s Assistance and Mercy.

Every project we undertake must be fueled by optimism and hope. We must trust that Allah will help us eventually, if we are sincere and if the project is beneficial for the ummah. It is this attitude that should drive us forward.

Lesson Two: Be Grateful

In order to maintain optimism, this Surah also reminds us of the times in the past when Allah assisted His Messenger (peace be upon him). In our own lives too, there are many times in the past when Allah granted us success and turned around a bad situation.

We must reflect on such times, be grateful for them, and use them as further motivation to maintain optimism that Allah will continue to assist us moving forward.

Lesson Three: Be Charitable

A believer’s goals are not selfish and materialistic. Our goals should revolve around the ummah, and one way to build this is to become people of generosity. Generosity fuels the Muslim world and causes everybody to grow. The generous person is blessed by Allah, and his wealth multiples because of it. The one who receives the charity also is blessed and now has some money to move his own life forward.

Charity is a Win/Win situation. Everybody benefits and everybody grows. This is what believers should may for. We must avoid paths and goals that make us selfish and materialistic. Our focus must remain on serving others, and that begins by being generous.

Lesson Four: Contribute to society

Generosity must lead to an ummah-centric personality. A Muslim’s goals should be goals that uplift and benefit the ummah. Every project should aim at benefiting others. If our primary goal is to assist the ummah, then Allah will put Barakah in our efforts, businesses, wealth and time. Service should drive us forward, as we are one ummah and we all want to see this ummah rise up in greatness again.

Bringing it all together

Be positive about the future, remember Allah’s blessings on you in the past, be generous and serve the ummah. These are some of the lessons we can extract from Surah Duha, and these concepts will drive us forward with Ihsaan (excellence) as an ummah.

For more Tafseer, check out our eBook below:

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 10 comments

How To Be The Best – 4 More Hadiths

How to be the best spiritually

Note: This is part two of our series on How to be the Best. Click here to read Part One.

In the first article of this series, we focused on five Hadiths related to manners and relationships; and how to be the best in that area.

In this second article, we will continue looking at Hadiths about being the best. The focus this time, however, is on the best acts of worship. Islam teaches us to compete in good deeds and to strive to be the best of worshipers. These four hadiths teach us some of things we should focus on in order to achieve that goal.

Salah is the most fundamental act of worship, and the primary physical pillar of our faith. It is the one act of worship we are commanded to do five times a day, throughout our lives, in good health and illness. Due to the central importance of Salah in Islam, all of these Hadiths focus on different aspects related to Salah.

“The best of all deeds is the Prayer at its earliest time.” [Tirmidhi, Sahih]

The best of deeds

The first important aspect is the timing. Praying fives a time is the most important act of worship that every Muslim must do. It doesn’t make you the best of Muslims, it just makes you Muslim.

However, the reward of the Salah is magnified for those who pray it at its earliest time. There are many people who delay Salah until the time is almost over. If we want our Salah to be accepted as the best of deeds, we must make it a habit to pray each Salah at its earliest time.

“The best of places are the Masjids and the worst of places are the markets.” [Tabarani, Hasan]

Continuing on the topic of Salah, prayer in the Masjid is generally more rewarding for men than praying at home. There is also strong evidence that praying in congregation in the Masjid is Wajib (obligatory) for men. I too believe that when there is no excuse, it is an obligation for a man to pray his Salah at the Masjid.

However, this Hadith has a deeper meaning. This Hadith is really teaching us where we should spend most of our time. The best place that a Muslim can spend time in is the Masjid. Salah, dua, reciting Quran and attending Islamic classes are all acts of worship that are associated with Masjids. In general, time spend in the Masjid is spent building one’s Afterlife.

The Hadith compares this with market places (and in modern context, that includes shopping malls). In Islam, markets exist as a necessity of life. We go there to earn a living or purchase necessities. But loitering in such places leads to many problems like attachment to this world, materialism, failure to lower one’s gaze and wasting time.

This is why the Prophet (pbuh) called it the worst places. By this, he means that they are the worst of Halal places to be in. Markets are not considered worse than Haraam places like casinos, nightclubs, and places of Shirk. The key point of this Hadith is that we should only go to shops when necessary and should spend more time in Masjids, as this is best for us.

This is the opposite of the common practice today of being in and out of Masjids quickly when needed, while spending long hours loitering in Malls. May Allah guide us all to spend our time wisely and understand what is better for us.

“The best of you are those with the softest shoulders during prayer.” [Bayhaqi, Hasan]

A third Hadith on Salah is related to the effect of the Salah on the individual. While Salah must be prayed on time and in the Masjid, its impact on the soul is most important in spiritual development. This Hadith teaches us that the best Muslims are those who are moved by their Salah. The metaphor of softest shoulders refers to a Salah that fills us with humility, Taqwa and Khushoo.

In Surah Al-Muminoon, Khushoo in Salah is also listed as the first quality of the successful believers. This point is emphasized in many verses and hadiths. If we wish to be the best, we must continue to improve the quality of our Salah until it becomes a source of inner peace and guidance for us. This can be done by clearing our intentions, increasing our focus and learning to understand what we recite.

“The best of people in recitation are those who when they recite, you see that they fear Allah.” [Bayhaqi, Sahih]

Just like Salah, our recitation of Quran must have an impact on our souls. The best of Muslims are those who are moved by the Quran and whose hearts fill with the fear of Allah when reciting Quran. This applies both in and out of Salah. Regarding the true believers, Allah says, “When His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith,” (Surah Al-Anfaal 8:2)

So to be the best, the quality of our Salah and Recitation matter. We cannot rush through Salah or recite Quran ritually. We must do it sincerely for Allah’s sake and in a manner that brings us closer to Allah.

In order for our recitation to have this impact, we must choose a time when we are free from distraction, clear our intentions, understand what we are reciting and reflect on it. These steps will help develop our connection with the Quran.

More Hadiths on being the best coming soon…

 

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 0 comments

4 Personal Development Lessons from Surah Al-Kahf

Virtues of Surah Al-Kahf

From the established Islamic traditions for Fridays is to recite Surah Al-Kahf. Regarding this, the ProSurah Al-Kahfphet (peace be upon him) stated, “Whoever recites Surah Al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.” (Bayhaqi)

One of the meanings of ‘light’ in such contexts is guidance. This means that Surah Al-Kahf serves as a means of guidance for those who recite and reflect upon it once a week. As part of our weekly reflection on Surah Al-Kahf, here are four Personal Development lessons extracted from the four core stories of Surah Al-Kahf.

1. Focus on what is within your control

A common lesson in personal development is the motto: “Do not allow what is outside your control to stop you from doing what is within your control,” The people of the cave personify this lesson. These were a small group of seven believers in a town that wanted to harm them.

Not many options were available for them, but they focused on the few options they did have. They did have the choice to believe, so they did. They did have the option to leave town, so they went to the cave. And they have the power of dua, so they invested in it and were saved through a miracle.

The lesson is clear: Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. Allah will take care of the rest.

2. Wealth is not success. It is what you do with it that matters.

The second story of Surah Al-Kahf focuses on the parable of a wealthy farmer who was deluded by his wealth. He began to boast and look down upon others, and eventually he lost everything. This story teaches us that wealth is temporary and is not the true measure of success. Wealthy people can fall and poor people can rise up. These changes in financial situations occur all the time.

As believers, we see wealth not as success but as a tool and resource. It can be used for success if we use our wealth to do good deeds and help others. When we have  wealth, we need to do the opposite of this man. We need to stay humble, thank Allah, care for others, and utilize that wealth to benefit the ummah. In this lies the real success.

3. Benefit from the knowledge and wisdom of others

True Personal Development requires us to humble ourselves and learn from others. Whether it is through their books, articles, lectures, workshops or personal mentorship, we learn from others and cannot learn on our own.

In Surah Al-Kahf, we see the example of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) travelling a great distance to meet and learn from the wise Prophet Khidr (peace be upon him).

Prophet Musa’s (peace be upon him) long journey and willingness to learn from others should inspire us to be the same. Whether it is Islamic knowledge or personal development, we rely on those with more knowledge than us to grow. We need to humble ourselves in order to learn from them.

4. True Leadership is about justice

The final story in Surah Al-Kahf is about Dhul Qarnayn. He was a leader and Allah gave him power over many countries. Allah tested him with power and said that he had the ability to treat people kindly or punish them. Dhul Qarnayn passed the test by choosing the middle way: Justice.

Dhul Qarnayn chose to be kind to good citizens and punish the criminals. In doing so, he showed us the true meaning of leadership. Leaders don’t treat everybody the same. They do not treat the criminals and law abiding citizens the same. This is not justice. Justice means protecting those who are good by punishing the criminals.

Islam teaches us to be just, even if it is against our own selves and our own families. This justice is something we all must learn if we wish to succeed in leadership roles. We must not favor people due to family relations or other reasons. Each situation must be viewed objectively and each individual dealt with justly.

Conclusion

Surah Al-Kahf is a powerful Surah full of amazing lessons. The more you reflect on it, the more you learn. Try reflecting on it from new perspectives and you will gain new lessons. Let us try to do this during our Friday recitations.

Learn more Tafseer with our exclusive eBook: Themes of the Quran

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership, 2 comments