excerpted from The Sermons
by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad (db)
Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds [29:45]
Etiquette of Dars-e-Quran
There is certain etiquette for every religious place and gathering, and hence the Dars-e-Quran has its own etiquette that has to be adhered to. A cup may be sparkling clean but will not catch a drop of water if it is turned upside down. This is not the water’s fault but that of the cup that was not turned properly.
Allah’s blessings shower down on the gathering of the Dars-e-Quran but only those whose hearts are tuned and attentive will benefit, and the distracted and heedless will remain oblivious. Such gatherings in which Allah and the Messenger of Allah are praised are indeed rare in this world, so whenever blessed with attendance one should sit with humility and listen attentively.
Whosoever seeks will surely find [Arab proverb]
Etiquette of Religious Gatherings (Mehfil)
Ladies with infants who are likely to disturb the gathering with their crying should sit toward the back so as not to inconvenience the other ladies who wish to listen to the speech. Moreover there should be a specific usher group assigned to assist incoming guests find seating so that everything proceeds in an orderly fashion. Otherwise discomfort and confusion only serves to lessen the blessings of the gathering.
Allah gives according to a person’s intentions, and so an attendee should sit attentively with the intention that he or she has come to listen to praise of Allah and His Messenger.
Living According to One’s Own Will
Man does not come into this world by his own will and neither will he leave by his will, and hence he has no right to pass the time between life and death according to his own will but according to the will of Allah. Success lies only in obedience to Allah’s wishes. The purpose of living is servitude to Allah and the purpose of life is the remembrance of Allah.
Drawing Nearer to Allah
Allah has made it equally possible for both men and women to draw closer to Him. Nearness to Allah lies in adherence to the shariah, and those who succeed in implementing shariah in their lives will be drawn closer to Allah. This is an essential path to tread if one truly desires closeness to Allah.
This Life and the Hereafter
Allah has specified duties for both men and women, and all have to live their lives in this world according to His Will and Law. This world is temporary and will fade whereas the Hereafter is eternal. A wise sage once advised that man should work hard for this world proportionate to how long he is going to live there, and likewise work hard for the Hereafter proportionate to how long he will live there.
People will live in this world less than a hundred years, whereas in the Hereafter they will live forever. If all the empty space between the earth and sky were filled with grain and a bird took a grain once in a thousand years, the life of the Hereafter would still be longer than the time it would take to finish all the grain.
The life of this world is but a fleeting minute compared to the life of the Hereafter, and the mufassireen have written that one day in the Hereafter will be equivalent to fifty thousand days of this worldly life. It is indeed unfortunate that man is willing to exchange a few minutes of enjoyment for everlasting pain and suffering.
Paradise is Home for the God-Fearing
And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord and had restrained their soul from lower desires, their home shall be Paradise sublime [79:40-41]
A Temporary Guest
Man is but a guest in this world for a few days. It seems that man is merely a passenger on the conveyor belt of life where he passes through the stages of birth, adolescence and finally death. Just as a traveler may stay in transit in one or several towns on the way to his final destination the believers are also in transit in this life but their final destination is much greater.
No Denying Death
One can find numerous people who deny Allah and Islam but not one person who denies death. Death is the absolute reality that comes to everyone regardless of age, color or race. The greatest rulers, statesmen and warriors have and will continue to succumb to death, as is the will of Allah.
A king wanted to build a great palace for which he spared no expense and so made available all his treasures. Anything that did not suit his fancy in the slightest he had torn down and built again. Finally he was convinced the palace had no shortcoming and was the greatest palace ever built.
Overflowing with pride at his beautiful palace the king announced throughout his kingdom that he would reward anyone who could point out a flaw in his new abode. All who would visit could not see any shortcoming in the beautiful building, not that anyone would even dare to point it out to their king.
People kept coming and going for the next few days until a venerable sage close to Allah happened to be passing by and stopped by when he heard the king’s decree. After surveying the palace he came before the king and said, “Your Majesty, I have found two flaws in your palace.”
The king was taken aback because an old man apparently found what all his subjects could not, and so he asked what these flaws were. The wise man said, “Your Majesty, one flaw is that this palace will not stand forever, and will end like all things will end one day. The second is that you can not live in this palace forever for all must die one day.”
The World is a Temporary Home
No matter what high hopes a person has in this world, no matter how many beautiful houses and cars he has he will have to leave everything behind one day. The Messenger of Allah said:
Be in the world as if you are a stranger
Man started his journey from the Throne of Allah and stayed in his mother’s womb for a short time. After this he will live in the belly between the earth and sky and finally retire to the earth’s belly in his grave.
From here man will be raised on the Day of Judgment for his accounting and based on whether he has been pious or rebellious he will enter Paradise or Hell.
The Exam in the Grave
Man has been sent into this world to prepare for an exam that has two parts. The Messenger of Allah has told the Muslims in hadith that the first part will be taken in the grave and consist of three questions that have to be answered correctly in order to pass.
The first question will be “Who is your Creator?”; the second will be “Who is your Prophet?”, and the third will be “What is your religion?” One will have to answer rather than keep silent and will fail if he does not score three out of three.
It is another blessing and mercy of the Messenger of Allah upon his nation that he gave us the answers to this test before time so that the Muslims can prepare.
Who Can Answer the Questions of the Grave?
Only the person who lives according to Allah’s commands and adheres to the sunnah of the Prophet will be able to answer the questions in the grave, and not the rebellious and arrogant who usurp others’ rights. Only the righteous will even open their mouths because they will know the answers whereas others will stay silent.
The graves of those who answered correctly and pass this first exam will expand as far as the eyes can see and become a garden of Paradise. Consequently the graves of those who fail will constrict and become a pit of Hell.
Mankind’s Second Exam
After the grave man will be raised in front of Allah on the Day of Judgment to face his next and final exam that will pose four questions. The first question asked of man is how he spent his life, and the second question posed will be how man spent his youth. The third question of this exam will ask details regarding the source of man’s income and where and how he spent it, and the fourth and final question will ask how much man acted upon his knowledge.
The child of Adam e will not be able to move until he has answered these questions. The Muslims are fortunate that the Messenger of Allah made them aware of not only the questions but also the answers, and now blessed with this knowledge beforehand the Muslims need to prepare for only those who are prepared will be successful on that Day.
The Time of Death
These concepts are easy to understand but can only be applied if a person’s inner being is awakened. If a person blindfolds himself and lets his desires control him then he will do as he pleases and be lost just as the majority of the Muslims are today.
When the time for worship approaches both men and women fail to seize the moment and procrastinate because they remain in the delusion that they have long lives ahead of them to practice their Islam. They wrongly assume and take for granted that they have years of growing up followed by marriage and finally old age.
All this is a serious delusion, because death comes to young and old alike and can come at any instant. Many times parents outlive their young children because the child’s time of death had arrived. Nobody knows when the time of death will come so it is essential to be prepared for death at all times.
The Most Intelligent
A young woman came to the Messenger of Allah and asked, “Who is the most intelligent among mankind?” The Messenger of Allah replied, “The most intelligent is he who remembers death often and prepares for it well.”
Such people who prepare for their death are the wisest and also the most fortunate because they will achieve the highest success in the Hereafter. Mankind should not leave for tomorrow what can be done today because there may not be a tomorrow. Moreover he should focus on pleasing his Lord so that his sins may be washed away and he may be included among Allah’s special people on the Day of Judgment.
The Short Respite of Life
A king had a large garden divided into different sections laden with fruit. Once he summoned a man and gave him a basket, instructing him to go through each section of the garden and bring back the best fruit. The king continued that he would reward the man but set a strict condition that upon passing through a section the man was not allowed to go back into it but had to continue forward.
The man thus took the basket and entered the first section of the garden. He saw many beautiful fruits and desired to pick some but thought that he should wait until the next section because that may have better fruit. He thus entered the second section and seeing even more beautiful fruit thought that he should pick some but again felt the next section would have better fruit that he could pick for the king. Likewise the third section had even more handsome fruit but yet again the man thought he should wait until he reached the next section because he wanted to fill his basket with the best fruit.
When he reached the final section of the garden he was shocked to see that the trees were bare of fruit. He stood with his empty basket weeping in retrospect that he should have picked from the previous sections had he known so now his basket would not be empty.
The example is the same for the Muslim’s life: each day is a section from a beautiful garden that he should pick fruits from, meaning work righteous deeds. However, he foolishly delays this deluded into thinking that he has time ahead of him. Soon death comes while he is still in this delusion of tomorrow and thus he meets death empty handed. There will be no delay in the time of death and now that he realizes his misfortune he will not even have enough time to advise his loved ones.
To every People is a term appointed: when their time is reached not an hour can they cause delay nor can they advance [10:49]
If a person has a glass of water in his hand at the time of death he will not even have enough time to drink.
Purpose of Life
Death may come at any time so people need to be prepared. Living in large houses or competing with one another for wealth is not the purpose of life but rather it is the remembrance of Allah and obedience to Him.
Punishment for Neglecting Zakat
Allah distributes income and wealth to people in different portions according to His will. What is beyond necessity should not be hoarded but given in charity and righteous causes so one may attain righteousness and nearness to Allah.
Unfortunately the more people’s wealth increases the more they dislike paying zakat on that wealth. Women are more often the majority in this category, in that they become absorbed in having jewelry made for them but are neglectful in paying zakat3 on the same. On the Day of Judgment this jewelry will be melted in the fire of Hell and made into stakes.
With it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks and their backs [9:35]
This is the (treasure) that you buried for yourselves [9:35]
Taste then the (treasures) that you buried! [9:35]
Jewelry or Snakes and Scorpions?
If women fail to pay zakat on the jewelry they wear so fashionably they need to be aware that their necklaces will become snakes around their necks and their rings will become scorpions on the Day of Judgment that will attack ceaselessly. All the jewelry for which zakat is not paid is but snakes and scorpions, so what will become of such a woman when she is attacked by these creatures on the Day of Judgment?
Righteous women make a habit of saving a little from their daily or weekly expenditures, and this eases their zakat payment at the end of the year. This is a good habit to develop to adopt because zakat will become easier to adhere to and is certainly a small price to pay for avoiding punishment in Hellfire.
Women’s Excuses for Missing Prayers
Women at times present nonsensical excuses for having missed their prayers, anything from having to cook for guests at the last minute to feeling ill. Whether they intend to make these prayers up later or not this is a grave laziness on their part.
The Punishment for Missing Prayers
Hell is a cauldron of fire and consequently its doors are also made of fire. When someone intentionally misses a prayer Allah commands an angel to engrave his or her name in one of the doors of Hell. Now this person will definitely have to go through this door of fire on the Day of Judgment, indeed a grave punishment for intentionally missing a prayer that would have taken five minutes of his time.
The above is exactly why the Messenger of Allah said that a person’s loss at intentionally missing a prayer is worse than his house burning to the ground with his family inside.
Prayer and Disbelief (Kufr)
The Messenger of Allah said:
Whosoever leaves prayer on purpose is surely an unbeliever
Missing prayers is so grave that the Messenger of Allah said that such an individual can only be a disbeliever. A Muslim who misses prayers no doubt remains within the boundaries of Islam but such a statement by the Messenger of Allah reflects how intensely Allah dislikes this.
Hadrat Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) has written that the curse resulting from the missing of prayers spreads to the surrounding forty houses. Hence the house whose inhabitants neglect their prayers becomes devoid of all blessing and mercy, and unfortunately the womenfolk complain that their lives are without blessing and mercy but neglect to examine their actions toward prayer. They complain that their relationship is souring with their husband or that the children are becoming rebellious and fail to listen to reason. The root cause of this curse is the deliberate neglect of prayer.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds [29:45]
Prayer is a protective castle and all of mankind needs to seek shelter from evil within this castle of Allah.
Prayer in Every Circumstance
Hadrat Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) has even gone as far as to say that a Muslim neglectful of prayers should not even be allowed burial in a Muslim cemetery. It is a great tragedy if these words do not terrify the heart of every Muslim because that only means the heart has become indifferent to sin.
Every single prayer is mandatory at its given time except for those already forgiven to women during their monthly cycles. Otherwise every other prayer is mandatory under every circumstance regardless of family responsibilities or sickness.
Indeed the women of a household have tremendous responsibility in the upkeep of that house and family duties, but the ones who know their priorities are able to make time for their prayers despite their numerous duties. They realize that prayer is a mandatory duty prescribed by Allah that becomes incomprehensible to miss if only the heart realizes its extreme importance.
Prayer Mandatory Upon Whom?
Prayer is mandatory upon the following:
· Those blessed with the affirmation of faith (kalima).
· Those who are sane.
· Those who have attained puberty.
Making Up Missed Prayers
It is the responsibility of every Muslim to make up his or her missed prayers. If years have been missed then one should try and make a reasonable calculation and then make an intention to make that number up. An ideal way to do this is to make up prayers is to substitute any nafl prayers for a missed obligatory prayer, and to attach it with its current equivalent – for example make up a missed Asr when praying the current day’s Asr.
This way although slowly one can make up months if not years of missed prayers and be more content.
Punishment for Missing Prayers
A python will be let loose in the grave of one who used to neglect his or her prayers. This python will sting continuously with such a vicious bite and intense venom that bones will crack and break over and over. The grave will be dark and cramped where the buried person will be alone with no one to hear his or her agonizing cries. Muslims everywhere need to reflect on such severe consequences whenever they even think about delaying a prayer or missing it entirely.
A Terrifying Angel in the Grave
Allah will assign an angel to the grave of one who missed his or her prayers, one with long fangs and nails whose mere appearance would invoke terror. Black in complexion, the angel will have long hair and his nostrils will be spewing smoke. He will then extend his hand towards the grave inhabitant’s face and the person will scream in terror.
This person would calmly miss his or her prayers without even a second thought but would be frightened very easily by the sound of a creaking door. Now when such a person is locked in a dark grave with such a horrific creature as this angel this will indeed be terrifying.
There will be no one to listen to this person’s screams or see his or her tears. This angel will be devoid of anything that can be termed mercy, and will come closer to his victim and show his long fangs. It will have a mallet in his hand with which he will strike his victim so that the latter is pushed seventy lengths into the earth. The person will then return and the angel will strike again, sending his victim back into the earth seventy lengths.
If Fajr was missed then this angel will keep striking this person thus from Fajr to Dhuhr, and if Dhuhr was missed then he will be struck thus continuously from Dhuhr to Asr. This process will continue likewise until the Day of Judgment.
People may doubt, mock and even dismiss this as tales to scare children, but the Prophet’s words are true and those who disbelieve will see with their own horrified eyes after their death. Allah has transmitted these warnings to us through the noble mouth of the Messenger of Allah and all of us should pray that these realities enter our hearts.
Benefits of Prayer
Prayer has numerous benefits for mankind, of which the following are just a sampling.
· A person washes him or herself at least five times daily, refreshing and rejuvenating the body.
· Prayer brings peace to the soul and allows a person to break from all the worries of this worldly life while he focuses on his Creator.
Reward of Prayer
Hadith literature states that whenever someone prays with absolute concentration and peace Allah assigns an angel for that person’s benefit. This angel will dive into a river in Paradise and the droplets of water falling from his wings will determine the amount of righteous deeds that will be written in the worshipper’s record of deeds.
Cause for Joy
Establishing a regular habit and pattern in offering one’s prayers is indeed cause for joy through which Allah will bless one’s home and increase one’s means of sustenance (rizq). Those who are lazy and find prayer difficult should pray to Allah to make this easier for them.
The person who establishes a routine of prayer and worship will be protected against disgrace in this world. Muslims should not concentrate and be proud of their wealth or lineage because Allah can lay waste to all in the blink of an eye if the stubborn and disobedient incur His Wrath. A person’s day can turn into the darkest night in an instant if Allah becomes angry.
And such as Allah disgraces none can raise to honor [22:18]
Day Into Night
Muslims have to be diligent in paying attention to their prayer so they can get nearer to Allah. Misfortune can befall so suddenly if Allah becomes angry that it will stun the believer: the soul will be robbed of all peace and happiness and the individual will be left in constant despair.
Today Allah has given the Muslims good health and beauty that they need to be thankful for and the best way to show gratitude is obedience. Allah’s pleasure is everything because if He casts a glance of mercy anywhere then springtime shines anew and consequently if He withdraws His mercy then harsh winter growls.
Sincere Repentance, Valuable Time
The purpose of arranging and coming to such gatherings is so that we may listen to valuable talks about Allah and His Messenger. Whatever time that has already past is gone but these gatherings provide priceless opportunities to repent from past sins and change one’s life around so that one may start fresh on a new path of following the Holy Quran and sunnah.
Such gatherings provide an opportunity for new starting points again and again, and people need to be firm in their commitments not to revert to their past lives of sin and heedlessness. Nafs and Shaitan are enemies always seeking an opportunity to attack and hence Muslims should always seek Allah’s protection so as not to fall into their delusion and trap.
Prayer and Dangerous Talk
Today if a husband were to tell his wife to get up to offer prayer at its appointed time the majority of the time she will snap back at him, “Do I have to pray for you? You pray and I will pray in my own time!” At other times he may hear from her, “I have to go in my own grave!” or “Why do you care if I burn in Hell?”
This is very dangerous talk and it has to be recognized as such. Prayer is a gift by which Allah gives us the opportunity to come to Him. Such talk is ungrateful and if it arouses Allah’s anger He may close this avenue and may even never give one the opportunity to pray again. What is that person going to do if the Supreme Ruler of the universe closes His door so that person has nothing to present on the Day of Judgment?
The Importance of Time
There will be no time after death for righteousness and the person who wasted his time in this world will realize that he or she should have filled his account rather than pursuing the delusions of the temporal world. Crying and worry will be of no benefit in the grave for the world will be gone and hence so will be the time this person had been given to work for the Hereafter.
Every passing day is an opportunity for accumulating righteous deeds that will never come again. The righteous recognize this and so spend their time wisely in worship and righteous deeds so they can please Allah and draw nearer to Him. In return Allah illuminates their hearts and lives in their journey towards Him.
Hadrat Fatima’s j Worship
A famous story from the life of Hadrat Fatima az-Zahra j tells of a long wintry night in which she stood up to offer two rakat of prayer. Engrossed in the wonderful recitation of the Holy Quran she was immensely enjoying every moment of her prayer and thus reciting large surahs.
When she finally sat down and finished her prayer she glanced up to see that it was time for the predawn meal (suhur). Hadrat Fatima j started weeping and said in dua, “O Allah! Your nights are so short that I only made intention for two rakat and the night has already passed.” Such righteous women used to complain that the nights were too short for their worship.
The Condition of the Muslims
In stark contrast to the above the sad condition of the Muslims today is that if they are not fast asleep all night they are sitting in front of the television till late into the night. The obvious unfortunate result is that they sleep through Fajr when the rest of Allah’s chosen creation is awake.
Taking Account of One’s Life
Muslims need to reflect and take account of their lives so that they may rectify themselves and move toward a life of righteousness. The women among the righteous predecessors were so motivated that they would compete with each other in righteous deeds.
The Dua of Hadrat Rabia Basri
One night after praying tahajjud Hadrat Rabia Basri (May the mercy of Allah be upon her) raised her hands upward and supplicated, “O Allah! Night has fallen and the stars are out. The kings of the world have closed their doors but Your door is always open. I beg of You Your mercy.”
Those were indeed strong and righteous women who would wake up in the night to please and seek Allah.
Duas of A Mother
When the supplications of mothers would be accepted and granted sons would grow up to be Muhammad bin Qasim, Junaid Baghdadi and Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi (May the mercy of Allah be upon them). Such would be the power of the duas of mothers that would propel their offspring to grandeur.
Today mothers have forgotten their true grand status. Girls become mothers but are strangers to a mother’s high position in Allah’s realm. If busy in her chores and her innocent babe cries out she is quick to anger and curses that it may have been better if the child were dead. This poor mother is unaware that the doors to Allah’s Court open to everything she says and her supplications as well as her curses are presented before the Supreme. Moreover she is oblivious to the fact that her supplications and curses are equally potent and that her life will be totally destroyed if Allah accepts and grants even one of her misspoken curses.
Supplications of parents surround and protect the child from harm. Elders have written that when the mother of a great sage passed away he felt an inspiration from Allah that said, “Be careful where you tread now, for the one whose prayers protected you is no longer on this earth.”
A Mother’s Curse
An innocent babe was crying once and in anger its mother cursed that it would have been better if the child were dead. Allah became angry at hearing this and accepted the mother’s curse but did not call the child back to Him right away.
This boy grew up to be the apple of his parents’ eyes and a peace to their hearts who captured the admiration of all around him. Just as a farmer picks the fruit when it is fully ripened, Allah chose to wait until this boy was in his full prime and then took his life.
Now the same mother who cursed her child before grieves for the son she has lost, but this is the fulfillment of that same curse that she had wished in anger upon her innocent child so long ago. The boy was taken in his prime so that the mother can realize her grave error with maximum pain. So many mothers make the fatal mistake of not thinking when they’re angry so curses come out of their mouth, and spend the rest of their lives in pain and suffering when the curse comes true in front of their eyes.
All this would be avoided if the mother knew her true status and calling. She should realize that if she prays regularly and prays for her child’s success that Allah will raise that son to incredible heights.
The mothers in Islam’s past would always be in a state of ablution when feeding their children, unlike those of today who do so in front of the television watching sin and filth. These poor children cannot grow up to become the Junaid Baghdadi or Bayazid Bustami (May the mercy of Allah be upon them) of their day because their innocence and with that their spirit (ruh) has been strangled already.
An interview of a woman appeared in the newspaper whose two sons grew to become the army’s top generals. The mother was asked what was so special about her that she raised two such strong willed individuals and the lions of their day. The woman replied, “I am an ordinary Muslimah but I heard from a venerable sage that Allah would give my sons success if I fed them while in ablution, and so I was always in a state of ablution when feeding my sons. It is very possible that Allah gave them such courage and success because of this one act of mine.”
Allah will give obedient and righteous children to those mothers who are obedient to Him, and consequently disobedient children to those who are stubborn and rebellious. In the latter case the parents with disobedient children will have no right to complain or cry since they themselves are disobedient to Allah. People have to reap what they sow and bear the consequences of their actions. If disobedient to Allah then one shall be cursed with the same in rebellious offspring.
Entertaining False Hopes
Nowadays people delude themselves into the false hope that they have plenty of life remaining to worship later while they enjoy the present. This is a very dangerous attitude and delusion since death can come at any time, and many a time the young have had to be buried before the old.
One with incredible insight, Hadrat Imam Ghazali (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) has written that death is so close at all times that the cloth for one’s burial shroud might already have come into the market but the person is oblivious of how close death is. People have forgotten death but death has not forgotten them.
Beckoning of the Grave
The Messenger of Allah said that the grave beckons the individual seventy times daily, warning that it is a lonely dark house full of insects. It further warns man to fully prepare before coming lest he be punished but unfortunately man is lost in the false attractions of this world and blind to the Hereafter.
Today we remain ignorant of essential everyday rules and regulations but too lazy to research ourselves or ask the appropriate authorities. Muslims must acquire knowledge if they are to know how to please Allah and remain on the Straight Path so they may avoid punishment and doom in the grave and the Hereafter.
How a Woman Can Earn Reward Equal to a Man
A female Companion came to the Messenger of Allah and said, “I have come as a representative from the women with a question.” The Messenger of Allah permitted the question and so the lady continued, “The men folk surpass us in deeds and rewards all the time. They sit and pray with you in the mosque, fight in battle and go to the graveyard to participate in funeral prayers whereas we stay at home and miss out on these opportunities to earn reward. How can we excel in such circumstances?”
The Messenger of Allah praised the questioner for asking a good question and replied, “The woman who prays in her home earns the same reward as a man who prays in the mosque.” In regards to the reward for battle [jihad] he continued, “The mother who stays awake at night for the sake of a hungry or sick child earns the same reward as the warrior [mujahid] who stays awake at night during battle keeping watch.”
Allah has indeed made it easy for women to earn tremendous reward and thus they have the opportunity to excel to great heights if they would put a little effort in their worship.
Certain elders have written that if a woman sees something out of place in her parents’ or her husband’s house and puts it neatly in place Allah rewards her with one righteous deed, forgives a sin and elevates her one rank in Paradise. Keeping this in mind a woman can earn a great deal of reward in one day just by keeping a neat and tidy house. However, as mentioned above it is unfortunate that today’s Muslims do not make the effort to acquire this beautiful and essential knowledge that will bring them closer to Allah.