Rays of Splendour


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If you left Earth to meet God, would you come back?

This afternoon, I received an email with the subject line that says ‘If you left Earth to meet God, would you come back?‘. That header left me stumped for a while as it offered me a new perspective that I hadn’t considered before.

To put things into context, that email was actually an advertisement for an upcoming public lecture by Shaykh Ahmad Saad on the phenomenon of the Prophet’s pbuh night journey and ascent to Heaven. That journey, commonly known as the Isra’ Mi’raj, is observed on 27 Rejab (27th day of the seventh month in the Islamic calendar) and it marks an event where Allah swt takes the Prophet pbuh on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and eventually, Heaven.

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I’ve been related the story and the circumstances that led to this miraculous journey for quite a fair bit and each time I hear it being told again, I’m still as awed as I was the previous time I heard it. For now, I’m not going to go into the whole varying opinions of scholars on whether it is a physical journey or a spiritual experience. I feel that the technicalities aside, one should focus on the core messages and learning behind the journey which are far more important and enduring than debates on the nature of the journey.

For instance, one of the most moving lessons I derived from this journey is how loving and merciful the Lord is. The journey occurred at a time when the Prophet pbuh faced extreme adversity and hardship. During that year, the Prophet’s pbuh saw the passing of his beloved wife, Khadijah, as well as uncle, Abu Talib. It was also the year when the Muslim community in Makkah faced increasing harassment and oppression. Thereafter while seeking asylum at a nearby city, the Prophet pbuh received mockery for preaching the Message and was even driven out of that place.

Thus in light of these events, one of the most profound effects that the miraculous night journey had on the Prophet pbuh was to comfort and lift his heart. I don’t know about you but when I try to envision the situation from the Prophet’s perspective where I’m in a position where I faced the personal loss of people whom I love and concurrently, having to also deal with the oppression, resentment and negativities for preaching the Message, I would definitely feel very lousy inside. Then if in that moment when I’m feeling truly down, God Himself – the one whose Message I’m conveying to the people – lets me see the true beauty of the Message and all it entails as well as having the previous Prophets before me giving me advice, I’ll be motivated and uplifted. Hence in this aspect, the loving and merciful nature of God is one I gleaned from the journey. Of course I can never begin to even feel 1% of the emotions the Prophet pbuh must be feeling but the point I’m trying to make here is that the Lord comforts.

This journey is also a reminder of how we should place our reliance only on Allah swt alone. In moments when we are down or weak, we should have faith that He will come to rescue us from that condition; that with God, there is always a way out. Like how the Prophet pbuh exercised great patience and unfailing belief in Allah swt in the face of adversity, that too should be something we emulate in our lives.

Very often in the throes of our sadness or disappointment or when we face one challenge after another, we forget that the only One who can lift us again like none other could is Him. Sometimes, we get so lost in our emotions and the situation that we have difficulties getting back up again. However the reality is that not only is He able to lift us again, He also knows the exact thing to do to comfort and help us.

There are many other messages and learning as well however I realized that the one aspect which I’d neglected to consider out of this whole journey is this: After being taken to Heaven, how did the Prophet pbuh feel at the prospect of having to come back to Earth?

I wondered about myself too: If I left Earth to meet God, would I come back? This question speaks to me on two levels.

1) What is the degree of my attachment to this world?
2) How prepared am I for the eventual meeting with Him – that is, death?

It is at these moments that I start to realize just how inadequate I am in terms of obedience and submission to Him. It’s humbling, really, to reflect and realize these inadequacies.

Regardless, it’s better to realize this now then later, right? Realizing it now also means we can then take immediate steps to correct and improve ourselves in our journey to Him.

I pray that Allah keeps us in the shade of His faith, love and mercy always. Amin.

P.S. If you are keen to attend the public lecture mentioned earlier, below is more information about it:

isramirajsas2015


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Loving for His sake

Time truly flies whenever you seek to be productive with it. Sometimes, I find myself thinking “If only there were more than 24 hours in one day, I could squeeze in more things to do!“. However the reality is that by the time I got ready to settle into bed at about midnight or 2am, I’ll be thinking “Will my body recover from the exhaustion fast enough for me to tackle the day when I awaken at 5am later?

And with the coming of May, that means I have approximately 9 months left to get ready for the next project in life I’d signed up for, insyaAllah. It seemed like the best idea at that time – I had convinced myself that I needed that experience to expand my worldview and also perhaps that it is a step God is prodding me to take to learn new things about Him, life and myself – however as the day draws nearer, I found that I’m grappling with a challenge I never knew I’d face: detachment.

I began reflecting by asking myself lots of questions in trying to make sense of this new-found realization that I had somehow over the years amassed a significant amount of attachment to my family, friends and job. What has changed since back then? Why have I grown attached to these things? Since when has this attachment started?

I vividly recalled how, many years back when I came across the verse in the Quran which says that our family and possessions are adornments in the worldly life (18:46), how also God repeatedly mentions in a few verses that the reality of the worldly life lies in its transience, and later as I learned more about the sciences of the heart, how we should place our attachment only on Allah alone, I had sought to do just that. Yet as I grew to love, care and cherish my family, friends and job, I guess I must’ve somehow let them occupied a larger portion in my heart that I had anticipated.

However if I were to view this whole experience positively, I believe that this upcoming hijrah I’ll be making is actually doing just that: to teach me the art of detachment. Thankfully, Allah is ever merciful and is slowly guiding me through this process of letting go. In a sense, I’m given time to let go which I feel is important for if it is too sudden, it will leave a gaping hole in me.

I also realize that it is not wrong to love, care and cherish the things I do as long as I’m cognizant that they are gifts from the Creator Himself. Recognizing His hand in every aspect of our lives and being thankful to Him whether we are able to witness the blessings at that point in time or not are all part of worshiping and raising His existence to a higher level of consciousness within ourselves. Sometimes, we become so preoccupied with engaging in the practical acts of worship that we overlook other aspects that falls under this huge category of worship.

And speaking of worship, doesn’t to love, care and cherish our families and people around us constitute forms of worship too? To put these acts into words seem so simple but truly the act of loving, caring and cherishing is peppered with their own set of challenges too. For instance given how some days can get so hectic with work and other back-to-back activities, it does sometimes take a whole lot of effort, reminding and disciplining the self to push through the exhaustion and listen to your family member when he or she wants to have a conversation with you. But that conversation? Perhaps it’s very important to the said family member who could have waited the whole day just for you to be home. Hence, to offer that small act of simply listening as it is done because the heart sincerely cannot bear to disappoint or just to help a creation of Allah swt is worship in itself.

Last but importantly, to possess those feelings that I have for His sake is one I should aspire towards and always keep in mind as I continue embracing it. The Lord never says not to love but to sincerely express in that loving, caring, and cherishing which He has blessed us with, the intention to do so for His sake.

I pray that He constantly and continues to guide our heart to lean towards Him always, amin.


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The heart and its path to the Lord

How can the heart be illumined
while the forms of creatures are reflected in its mirror?
Or how can it journey to God
while shackled by its passions?
Or how can it desire to enter the Presence of God
while it has not yet purified itself
of the stain of forgetfulness?
Or how can it understand the subtle points of mysteries
while it has not yet repented of its offences?

– Imam Ibn Ataillah


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Happiness is a blessing

I think it is safe to say that there are thousands – possibly millions – of websites out there that offer tips on how to be happy. Of course whenever anything is in surfeit, the product/service can come in a range of quality depending on its content (even design, manner of marketing, etc). Out of these plethora of websites, I find that I am able to relate more to those that come across like they truly care in ensuring you will attain happiness.

This idea of attaining happiness came to my mind this week. No matter how useful a site is in dispensing advice on being happy and no matter how closely one follows its suggestions or gets inspired by it, isn’t happiness essentially an entity that will only be realized if God decrees it? That delight one experiences when something good happens to him/her/people they care about is the work of God. Granted, one need not be happy only when something good happens as happiness can transpire even in bad times. Regardless of the form that happiness extended from, it is a blessing from Him.

But sometimes, I forget that everything comes from Him. And that everything on earth – happiness included – is ephemeral.


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It’s March!

March is my birthday month and this year, I gifted myself with an iPod when the 7th of March rolled along. I wondered why I haven’t gifted myself in my past birthdays? The feeling of gifting myself is self-gratifying!

This month is also one when the desire to perform the umrah was planted. The thought of stepping foot into Mecca and then praying in front of the kaabah sends goosebumps down the neck. It’s not one of those fear-induced goosebumps but rather, one which occur when you are so struck by something.

Lastly, I am wondering whether to go down the path of marriage should it present itself? I have been having moments lately whereby I (re)assess this whole notion of marriage. After stripping away any wishy-washy thoughts in order to get down to the core of the matter (I hope!), I came to the conclusion that I believe in the institution of marriage afterall and would take the leap of faith towards marriage should God plan such a path for me in future.

It’s weird how turning 29 brought along with it this tsunami of change to the psyche. Do all newly-turned 29ers experience this metamorphosis of the psyche too?


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Where I belong

Yesterday at the mosque, I was reminded of the strength of Islam and the notion of ‘belonging’.

I had attended the terawih congregational prayers at the mosque yesterday. Halfway through it, the imam’s microphone died. The first thing that came to my mind when that happened was “Oh no, how do we all women on the second floor know when to start prostrating if we can’t hear the imam now?”. However, my worries were proved unfounded. Moments later and to my complete awe, I heard the solid and firm calls of “Allahu Akbar” that resounded from the Muslim brothers who were praying downstairs. That call was a signal for us to move on to the next phase in our prayers. Had those calls not came, I can’t imagine what will happen to us and our prayers.

I was touched by the efforts of the Muslim brothers who, even without being told, automatically knew what to do. It made me feel included; I wasn’t left behind. When I recall the experiences I had undergone throughout the less than three decades of my life, I realized that the encounters I had which made me feel like I truly belonged somewhere was with regard to Islam.

I pray that Allah keeps my faith in Him and Islam strong always. InsyaAllah amin.