You Only Live Twice

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Before the Sun Rises and Before it Sleeps (finale)

Before the Sun Rises and Before it Sleeps (part I)

This should encourage us to perform them because they differentiate us from the hypocrites and prove we are truly believers; to forgo our sleep and worldly affairs to press our heads on the floor in thanks is beneficial and loved by Allah (swt).

How lazy and unthankful we are if we think about it: we complain about cold water dripping from our faces, the sleepiness that blinds our eyes, and the aches in our body yearning to lie and rest, and we, as believers, need to be ashamed of ourselves.

Allah (swt) has all authority and power. 

He is the One that knows us the best. 

Yet, He has made things accessible and easy for us to accomplish and yet we still cry and moan about it.

He could have made Fajr prayer four and not two but that is not enough for the sons of Adam (pbuh).

We are willing to rush to our jobs at the crack of dawn, comfort our babies at all hours of darkness, stay up late to study but when it comes to prostrate to the One who has provided everything for us slaves, we are an ungrateful bunch of creations.

Allah is Ar-Rahim and Al-Ghaffur; we sometimes oversleep, or are too sick to make it on time and there are exceptions and Allah’s (swt) ultimate mercy.  But we overstep the bounds when we step all over our deen and regard our prayers as something to do when we have time.

How do we feel when we have appointments with others and people do not appear at their appointed time?  We feel that they are rude, lazy, or think that they did not take the meeting seriously. 

Sometimes we are stubborn enough to not forgive for this behavior.

Who are we to behave like this to Allah (swt), miss our appointed times to pray and disrespect Allah (swt) and His Messenger?

But we are lucky enough that Allah (swt) knows us, what is in our hearts, and forgives those He wants.

The irony of it all as believers is that Allah (swt) does need not anything and surely nothing from us.  We are reluctant and slow to praying and this act only benefits us and no one else.  Allah (swt) has ordered us to do good for our own benefit but we sometimes look the other way.

We are humans and we are weak, and Allah (swt) knows this.

Let us forsake our beds, sleep, and work and seek Allah’s (swt) pleasure into the gardens of Jannah.

Before the Sun Rises and Before it Sleeps (part I)

I have some new recipes coming up, so be on the look out!  For now I have posted an article and want you to think about what makes us do the things we do?  What motivates us?  What motivates you to pray on time?

Image courtesy of David Pasillas

Originally featured in IFN December 2010

Where the birds stir from their nests of twigs and yarn and fly out in search of filling their bellies, between the dawn and the rising of the sun kissing the sky, and where the careless burrow further beneath the covers of sleep and warmth, and where they work till their hands bleed, Fajr and Asr are the hours where the most pious congregate.

They are two of the most missed fard prayers that have swallowed our ummah.

This is unfortunate because these are prayers that separate a believer from a hypocrite.

What person awakens from their deep slumber to splash cold water to make ablution and perform a prayer whilst others sleep?

A devoted and strong believer.

Abu Zuhair ‘Umarah Ruwaibah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: “He who performs Salat (prayers) before the rising of the sun and before its setting will not enter Hell.”
 (Muslim)

This does not mean that this is the only condition to enter Jannah.

One who dutifully cares and observes these particular important prayers (Fajr and Asr), demonstrates that the believer also practices in observing other religious obligations and follows the sunnah.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “There are angels who take turns in visiting you by night and by day, and they all assemble at the dawn (Fajr) and the afternoon (‘Asr) prayers. Those who have spent the night with you ascend to the heavens and their Rab, Who knows better about them, asks: ‘In what condition did you leave My slaves?’ They reply: ‘We left them while they were performing Salat and we went to them while they were performing Salat.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Praying these two specific prayers are important and when we are steadfast and reliable in performing them, they surely go unnoticed by the angels and Allah (swt).

How great is it to have angels scribbling and reporting away to our Creator that we are prostrating for Him every time the angels descend upon us?

Fajr and Asr prayers are important prayers because of their difficulty to maintain them and to do them in their short prescribed time is an accomplishment and a break for us from toiling away in work and play.

When The Doors Are Wide Open (finale)

When The Doors Are Wide Open (part I)

We are more focused and honest in our prayers because the daily distractions are put to rest.

The people who get out of bed and make the effort to pray at night are doing it for Allah’s sake and not for show.

Our words are more thoughtful and precise because we are supplicating and we are in need.

It protects us from sins.

The doors are opened from the sky as Allah (swt) wants to shower the answers to our duaas and supplications.

Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” [Tirmidhi, and others] In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”

Night prayers are a personal and relaxing time with our Lord.  It is where we can express all our concerns, worries, wishes, desires, anything without the fear of ridicule or humiliation.  It is the ultimate time to set free our burdens.  Allah (swt) has all the power and He can change and assist us in our woes.

Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) said, “The virtues of night prayer over day prayer is like the virtue of secret charity over open charity.” [Tabarani] The scholars explain that this refers to voluntary prayers.

Allah (swt) then believes that are our prayers are truly for His sake when we betray our beds for His guidance. Allah (swt) has praised those who wake up at night for His remembrance, supplication, and to seek forgiveness and entreat Him, saying,

 “They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid from them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.”[Qur’an, 32: 16-17]

Crying to Allah (swt) shows how weak and incapable we are as humans when we do not depend on Him.  But when we turn our hearts and our prostrations in His favor, Allah (swt) will cast out our burdens and replace them with an eagerness to meet Him the next night.

And, ‘[The (faithful) servants of the Merciful are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish one address them answer: Peace;] And who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing…’ [Qur’an, 25: 63-64]

Image courtesy of Naouriz Inoubli

When The Doors Are Wide Open (part I)

Image courtesy of David Pasillas

Originally published for IFN March 2011

Mariam Al-Kalby

It is with this sense of urgency I want the night to visit and befall on the house like a blanket over a sleeping child.  I want to feel reassurance, guidance, and answers to calm my fluttering heart.

I am in a rush to converse with my Lord.

Making wudu extinguishes any anger in my heart and I ardently rush to my corner of the house and pray.

Tahajjud is the night vigil prayer.

It is a blessed time with the Creator: people sleep and all is quiet in the world where the sounds of the ocean splashing across the sands can be heard in the depths of the darkness.

Life is most clear when all has died down and I submit to Allah (swt).

My focus is heightened and my concentration more intact than when I normally perform my daily prayers.  I am all for Allah (swt) and Allah (swt) is listening.

The closest time to be with Him is in the tahajjud prayer.

There is something powerful, sublime, and serene when prostrating during this time of night; a reassuring embrace sweeps my body and mind.  A warmth that seeps through the layers of skin and into my soul.  That is the power Allah (swt) can cast over us.

Allah Most High said, “Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate.” [Qur’an, 17: 78-79]

These specific prayers are respected and highly recommended.  This is where people give their mind and hearts sincerely to Allah (swt).  Reciting Qu’ran at that prescribed time is an act of sincerity and true submission.

No one is watching but Allah (swt) and His angels and this is when we want to have our actions recorded and acknowledged.  He witnesses our heart’s vulnerability and candor.

Our concentration is not challenged and we are not distracted by our daily activities.  It is not required to pray at this time of night but that is where some of the beauty lies.

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]

Why is the night prayer seen in high esteem?

The Tongue Sins (part II)

The Tongue Sins (part I)

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “Do you know the thing which most commonly brings people into Paradise? It is fear of Allah and good character. Do you know what most commonly brings people into Hell? It is the two hollow things: the mouth and the private parts” (Mishkat).

Sins of the tongue are dangerous and that is to the extent that it can lead us to Hell.  When we fear Allah, we fear His wrath so beware of just talking and boasting for the sake of pleasure and not thinking about the consequences.

Narrated by Abu Hurayrah Ahmad: A man said, “Messenger of Allah (SAW), such and such a woman has a reputation for engaging to a great extent in prayer, fasting and almsgiving but she annoys her neighbors with her tongue.” He replied, “She will go to Hell.” He said, “Messenger of Allah (SAW), such and such a woman has a reputation for engaging to a small extent in fasting, almsgiving and prayer, but she gives pieces of curd as sadaqah and does not annoy her neighbors with her tongue.” He replied, “She will go to Paradise” (Mishkat).

Worship is not only praying and fasting but how we behave with others.

This hadith demonstrates that even a person who does the obligatory acts of worship but disregards the consideration of others does not mean they are a good Muslim.