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Harkat mein barkat (DW#411)

In Verse 39 of Sura Najm, Allah says: And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for. (Holy Quran 53:39)

For today’s verse, I could not find a better title than the Urdu phrase: Harkat mein barkat, meaning there is blessing in movement/striving. One of the principles of life, taught by experience and by Divinity, is that human beings get what they strive towards.

It is important to note that what the Quran is telling us is that our outcome will be in accordance with our striving. What this means is that it intention and effort that counts. In the material world, we are told that winning is everything and that being second best does not count. 

However, in our relationship with God, winning and the outcome does not matter as much as the effort and the intention with which any action is undertaken. The outcome, of course, is never really in our control in the first place. We can work really hard at something and still not get the outcome we hoped...

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Respect the earth (DW#410)

Sura Rum: Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought (Quran 30:41)

Corruption (fasad, in Arabic) is often defined as: "A thing leaving a balanced state." In other words, corruption is when something becomes ruined, contaminated, polluted or out of balance. Its opposite is salah/islah is to rectify, correct, or set right. In other words, to bring a thing back to some sort of equilibrium and balance.

This verse reminds us that we need to be muslihun – people of islah, not mufsidun – people of fasad; of how we are to be people who set things aright, not sow mischief throughout the earth. We are called upon to be healers, not corrupters.

Here is the foundational principle of the Qur’an’s "earth ethics" or the ecological view in Islam: That we are stewards of this earth and that we need to respect the balance in Creation and not to disturb this...

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Recognize the value of a single night (DW#409)

The grand night is better than a thousand months [Sura Qadr, 97:3]
Laylatul Qadr (the grand night, night of power, night of destiny) is the anniversary of the night when the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw). This night, the holiest in the Islamic calendar, is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. 

The above verse from Sura Qadr tells us that Laylatul Qadr, or the Grand Night is better than a thousand months. In the verse preceding this one, the Quran has invited us to raise our consciousness by asking And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? [97:2]. This verse answers this question by informing us that the Grand Night, or Laylatul Qadr is better, more elevated than one thousand months. 

A thousand months is equal to more than 80 years, a quantity of time that is equal to, if not more than, a lifetime for many of us.

Clearly the Quran wants us to understand that there is a...

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Worship and service are inseparable (DW#408)

In Sura Maida, the Quran whilst talking about whom to take as guardians friends or protectors, says: those who keep up prayers and give alms while they bow[Quran 5:55] 

The verse refers to an incident in the life of the Holy Prophet (saw) which is reported by his companions. The companion reports: ‘Once I performed the noon prayers in a mosque, behind the Prophet (saw) then, a beggar came in but no one attended to him. The beggar extended his hands towards the heaven and said, ‘O God, bear witness! Here, in the mosque of the Prophet of God (saws) I asked (to be given something), but no one attended to me.’

Ali (as), who was in the state of ruku’, saying his prayers, gestured with his hand, inviting the beggar to take a ring which was on his little finger. The beggar stepped closer and removed the ring from Ali’s (as) finger. This incident took place in the presence of the Prophet (saws)’. Ref 

This verse is...

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Dust those cobwebs (DW#407)

In Sura Ankabut, Allah swt likens the security systems of human beings to the frailty of a spider’s web: The parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house; and most surely the frailest of the houses is the spider’s house did they but know. [Quran, 29:41]

When we reflect on the spider’s web, we realize that it has several rather interesting features:

It provides no protection: Although the construction of the web is a remarkable feat of architecture, and it can look beautiful, it does not fulfil a basic need of a house which is shelter and protection. The spider’s web doesn’t protect the spider from the elements at all. Wind, fire, water all penetrate through it. The mere brush from a broom or a hand can destroy it. How frail is this house!

It is spun from within: Whist other animals use materials from nature to construct their houses, the spider spins the web from a substance...

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Be fair (DW#406)

Sura Maida, verse 42: Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Quran 5:42)

The verse Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably or with justice appears in several places in the Quran (5:42; 49:9; 60:8) and it means that we should deal with others on the basis on timeless ethical principles revealed by God and not in accordance with our own personal arbitrary whims or likes/dislikes. It also means that we should give everyone their due and be conscious of the obligations that we have to people in our family, community and society. 

Justice or acting equitably can be very challenging when it is against our own interests or those of our loved ones. 

But in order to become those who are loved by Allah, no less is demanded of us. 

In Sura Nisa, Allah reminds us that the command to have fair-dealings with others applies even if we have to go against our loved ones. Justice, He reminds us, trumps relationships and needs to be maintained without fear or favour.

...

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Purify yourself (DW#405)

Sura Baqarah, verse 222: and He loves those who purify themselves.

Tahara or ritual purity is one of the cornerstones of the Muslim faith. We have to cleanse ourselves before acts of worship in order for the worship to be valid. 

Physical purity is, of course, only the starting point of tahara or purity. 

When the Quran says that He loves the muttahiroon, those who purify themselves, we need to understand that purification of the body, mind and heart are all important to become those who are loved by Him. 

How are some of the ways we can purify ourselves?

  1. Stay in a constant state of physical purity
  2. Purify our mind of negative thoughts – about Him, about ourselves and about others
  3. Purify our heart of anger, resentment, jealousy
  4. Purify our intentions for acts of worship and for good deeds
  5. Purify our dealings in business and with each other
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Keep turning back to Him (DW#404)

Sura Baqarah, verse 222: Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly.

The Creator knows the nature of Creation – He is aware that despite our best intentions, we will constantly fall short of the good that has been commanded. And we will keep doing things that are not in our long term best interests. 

This is an invitation to keep returning to Him in repentance when and as soon as we recognize that we have fallen short or gone "off-track". To return to Him means to come back on the path that He has commanded, the path of those whom He is pleased with. The path that is aligned with our ultimate purpose. 

Just as an airplane must keep correcting its course and adjusting its flight path to arrive safely at its destination, we need to: 

  1. Have an idea of the path that will lead us to success
  2. Have an intention to stay on the course
  3. And when we stray off that course, recognize it and turn back as soon as possible. 

Not only is this plan of action a great...

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Becoming a beloved of Allah (DW#401)

We have been exploring verses from the Holy Quran during the blessed month of Ramadan.

For the next few days, let us discuss verses which talk about the qualities that Allah loves to see expressed in His Creation.

The quality which is mentioned several times is the quality of being muhsineenor "the doers of good".

For example, in 2:195; 3:134 & 148; 5:13 & 93 the Quran tells usIndeed, Allah loves the muhsineen (doers of good).
 
Some commentators state that to earn His love in this way is the highest spiritual degree and mystical station.

Muhsin comes from the root haa-seen-noon.The Islamic concept of ihsaan, or excellence, one of key concepts of Islamic spirituality, comes from the same root. A muhsin (plural muhsineen) is one who does good. Mushin has many additional meanings such as to be good, to do good and to pursue excellence, to act with beauty, to be kind.

How can we become part of the muhsineen who are loved by Him? Here are a...
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Step up to leadership (DW#400)

Here is today's edition of wisdom from the Quran:

He said, ‘Put me in charge of the store houses of the land, I am indeed reliable, well-informed.’ (Sūrat Yūsuf 12:55, Holy Quran)
This verse from Sura Yusuf is Prophet Yusuf (as)’s reply to the Egyptian king when he appoints him to work for the government.
 
Prophet Yusuf (as) immediately suggests a specific position for himself and relates the qualities which make him ideal for this position.
 
We are sometimes confused about what it means to be humble – this verse shows us that humility is not at odds with putting yourself forward for a good cause when you have the qualifications and the capability of doing it well and when it is for a good cause.
 
In the days of self promotion and social media, this verse gives us solid advice on how and when to promote oneself:
 
Knowledge: he is well-informed. He has done his homework about the situation. It is not a case of feeling entitled to a...
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