Love

Motivational Moments #10
by Mufti Ismail Menk

Islam is the religion of love.

Our Beloved Prophet ﷺ was sent to guide us to love and to make clear that love is the cornerstone of our religion.

No religion urges its followers to adopt mutual love and affection like the religion of Islam. Islam encourages showing affection and love towards each other at all times.

Love in Islam is all-encompassing; it is not restricted to one form only, which is love between a man and a woman. At the centre of it all is love for the Almighty and His Messenger (pbuh), the Companions, may He be pleased with them and the love of good and righteous people.

Islam enjoins the general concept of love between mankind as well. This is first and foremost done by promoting the love of the Almighty amongst us.

Learn to love that which the Almighty loves and do not stop remembering Him. Serve and worship Him alone and don’t associate with Him any other and be ever conscious of Him.

Many of us find it easy to express love for the Almighty verbally but unfortunately our actions don’t reflect that love for Him. How can we claim to love Him when we take what He has revealed lightly, don’t follow His commands, and fail to behave in a way that pleases Him? Many times we find that love missing from our hearts because our hearts are filled instead with doubts, vain desires, and temptations of this temporary life.

To counter these, we need to firm up our beliefs. We need a better overall spiritual perspective in order to counter desires and temptations. We also need to clear those doubts that hinder the instilling of the love for the Almighty by learning more about our Deen (religion)  and seeking knowledge from reliable and approved sources.

Many of us spend a lot of time and effort to gain the love and pleasure of others and sometimes we may do it at the expense of disobeying the Almighty’s commands. We should realize that such things are futile and don’t last. They will earn us nothing but His wrath and displeasure. On the other hand, if we focus on cultivating His love in our hearts, we will not only get His love but He will instill our love in the hearts of others as well.

Love is so central to Islam that without it there can be no real faith. The relationship of love between us and our Creator, between us and others, and between us and all of creation is essential to reaching our full potential as human beings. When we nourish our hearts with love, when we manifest His love in our lives; with our families, with our friends, in our work, in our prayers, in everything that we do, the entire meaning of life changes.

May the Almighty bless us with His love and the love of those who love Him. May He fill our hearts with love. Amen.

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Sacrifice

Motivational Moments #9
by Mufti Ismail Menk

Sacrifice, in general, means to give up something valued for the sake of other considerations.

But mention sacrifice in the Islamic context during this period and we are referring to the celebration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (aleyhis salam – peace be upon him) unquestionable submission to the Instruction of the Almighty and his willingness to sacrifice his son.

This is celebrated a day after Hajj – (Arafah); which is the fifth pillar of Islam. According to the Islamic calendar, the Eid is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah and the commemoration lasts for three days.

During the celebration of Eid ul-Adha, Muslims honour and remember Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) by slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, cow or goat.

The meat from the sacrifice of Eid ul-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by oneself and immediate family, one-third is given away to relatives and friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. It is also a means of providing charity, helping the less fortunate and underprivileged, fostering relationships and spreading goodwill.

More important than the slaughtering of the animal, is our intention to submit to the Almighty. This submission should extend to all aspects of life.

The Almighty has given us supremacy over animals and has allowed us to eat meat, but only if we use the most humane method taught by Him and seek His permission by pronouncing His name during the slaughtering. This shows that life is sacred and to be valued.

Most of us tend to look at spiritual sacrifice as simply giving something up, but we have to look inside ourselves to see why we are doing this in the first place.

In fact, sacrifice is an act of submission to the Will of the Almighty. Sometimes, He asks us to sacrifice something important to us in order for us to learn that there is something greater beyond. But sadly, at times we fail to understand these sacrificial values in our life!

Furthermore, we need to practice the spiritual effect of sacrifice so that we learn to rely on His provisions rather than the things we have built for ourselves. This is what submission is about.

Indeed, life is full of tests. We should be ever willing to sacrifice our money, comfort and time for the sake of the Almighty. We should strive to live truly to the expectations of the spirit of sacrifice of Eid ul-Adha.

Keep stress at bay

Motivational Moments #8
by Mufti Ismail Menk

Everyone of us, without exception, faces stress to varying degrees.

The major problem behind stress and why we find it so hard to feel happy is that we as humans do things to please others. As we know, humans are hard to please, always demanding and expecting more. As a result, we get disappointed, which then leads to stress and keeps happiness away from us.

One of the major stress inducing factors is comparing oneself with others, especially with the ones who appear to have more than us. When we compare ourselves with others who are better than us, we go into a complex and instead of appreciating what we have, we start fretting over the things that we don’t have, thus causing depression and keeping us away from happiness.

A believer should never indulge in worldly comparisons as the Almighty has blessed each and everyone of us in different ways. However, if we were to compare, it should be a comparison with the ones who are below us in worldly matters but above us in terms of knowledge.

The approach of a believer should be that of pleasing our Creator, The Almighty. The reason why one should strive to seek the pleasure of the Almighty is the fact that He is the only One who will reward you, no matter how small your effort and any good done in His way does not go unrewarded.

People read different kinds of books in order to combat stress and try to achieve happiness. They look for quick fix solutions and seek help from therapists and medical specialists. They may get temporary relief but it will never get to the root of their problem. Truth be told, the solution is not that difficult.

For a believer, all he or she has to do is to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu aleyhi wasallam) and the instructions laid out in the Noble Qur’an to keep stress at bay and pave the way for happiness. The Almighty, in His all-encompassing Wisdom has given the antidote and solution to every ailment we face and yet we neglect it and try to seek help elsewhere. Is it any wonder that we are currently in the state that we are in?

Time to ponder over this ….

Kindness in all matters

Motivational Moments #7
by Mufti Ismail Menk

Kindness without limit belongs to The Almighty alone and we see that attribute manifested in the purest form possible in our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

He not only preached the virtues of kindness but practically showed the virtues of kindness to all mankind as well as animals. He was a beacon of light not only for the Muslims but for the entire world. He would not differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims and would treat all of them with the utmost kindness and compassion.

Kindness facilitates human understanding and reduces the chances of friction and conflict, which can be found in practically every walk of life. Islam teaches kindness towards all individuals, but more so towards certain categories, such as parents and orphans.

Acts of charity must also be accompanied by words of kindness. “Those who spend their wealth in the cause of the Almighty and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent, their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear to come upon them, neither shall they grieve.”

As Muslims we are also taught to speak kindly to the downtrodden, the less fortunate and the intellectually challenged; in essence to all His Creation, with no exception.

The main duty of a Muslim is enjoining righteousness and what is good and helping others take the straight path.

Remember that “every good deed is a charity.”

Likewise, the Noble Quran states, “Let there be a group among you who will invite others to do good deeds and enjoin what is right”. Therefore, regardless of the shape, size or color of a Muslim, goodness and kindness should be the chief qualities we display to others.

Kindness is highly regarded in Islam. “Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Allah loves kindness and gentleness in all matters, so we should try our best to show these qualities even when we face abuse and cruelty. On one occasion, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was insulted and cursed by his enemies but he did not return their curse or retaliate. Rather, he showed patience and forbearance and encouraged his companions to be kind.

Therefore, we should train ourselves and our children to be kind and gentle in all matters and even with animals and all of the Almighty’s creations. We should resist the temptation to indulge in what is cruel and evil. There are times when we have to let justice take its course, but we have to remember that the opportunity for repentance will always remain.

We ask the Almighty to beautify our manners with kindness and to protect us from falling into harshness.

“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith.”

Immense bounties

Motivational Moments #6
by Mufti Ismail Menk

Ramadhan is the month in which the Almighty blesses us with immense bounties and showers His blessings more than any other time throughout the year. During this month, we are all advised to seek forgiveness and repentance. By doing so, it offers us a great opportunity to purify ourselves and start on a fresh slate.

We know that the Almighty is always there, ready to forgive those who have committed a sin and want to repent, but the month-long Ramadhan provides a great opportunity for us to repent and ask Him to forgive. We should never forget that no matter what we may have done, the doors for His forgiveness are open, up until the very last moments of our lives.

Seeking forgiveness has two benefits. First, it shows that a believer is conscious of His Creator. Second, the Almighty will grant blessings on those who repent and seek forgiveness.

In Ramadhan, we have increased ways of seeking forgiveness.

The fast itself, praying in the nights of Ramadhan and praying during the nights of Lailatul Qadr. Praying in the night of Lailatul Qadr is a cause of forgiveness in itself.

So seize the opportunity to increase and intensify all acts of worship to gain His Forgiveness and Pleasure.

During Ramadhan, the doors of mercy and forgiveness are open. How can we raise our hands and ask Him for forgiveness when we ourselves are not willing to forgive another human being?

So the next time you feel hurt because someone has wronged you, think of this.

To forgive is to give up your right to hate or hurt the person who hurts you. Hate hurts you physically, mentally and emotionally. When you forgive, you let peace, tranquility and happiness in.

The Almighty described the believers and said: “And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” [Ash-Shura 42:37]

This Ramadhan, let us try and forgive those who have hurt us. It shows strength, self confidence and a desire to be forgiven by the Almighty. Let us forgive our parents, spouse, relatives, friends, and co-workers and anyone else who may have hurt or wronged us.

As you can see, Ramadhan offers many sources of forgiveness. If you let this month pass by without seeking and being granted His Forgiveness, you have truly missed out. When then will you be forgiven, if not in this month? So don’t let ignorance and negligence overtake you. Use these blessed days and nights and seek His Forgiveness to get closer to Him.

Repentance

Motivational Moments #5
by Mufti Ismail Menk

“Every son of Adam sins and the best of those who sin are those who repent.”

Man is weak. Satan makes sin attractive so we wrong ourselves and do what the Almighty has forbidden us. But the Almighty is most merciful to us, His slaves. Whoever repents after committing a sin, the Almighty will accept his repentance, for our Lord is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful.

How do we ensure that our repentance is sincere and will be accepted by Him? We need to stop the sinful act. Regret deeply and feel remorse for the sin committed. Make a strong intention never to return to that same sin again.

So sincere repentance is not merely about words spoken on the tongue. Remember, the acceptance of repentance is subject to the condition that the person gives up the sin straight away, that he regrets what has happened in the past, that he resolves not to go back to the sin. And if his sin involves wrongdoing towards others, he needs to restore their rights as well.

The reality is many people find that their repentance starts off strong, but then slowly they get weaker and fall back into the same sin not long afterwards. So, we need to ensure that we stay true to our repentance and keep our promise to the Almighty.

Be conscious of Him. Remember Him often. Seek His help to stay away from the sin. Our Lord is ever merciful, ever forgiving. The mercy of the Almighty encompasses all things. If a person’s sins are very great and he has wronged himself very much, but he then repents, the Almighty will accept his repentance and will forgive his sins, no matter how great they are.

Repentance is the most noble and beloved form of obedience to the Almighty. He loves those who repent. Repentance has a status that no other form of worship has. Repentance also brings about a certain humbleness and a sense of helplessness. It makes us realize we are doomed without His Mercy.

So make it a point to repent quickly after the sin and combine it with firm faith and good deeds and you will feel yourself getting closer to the Almighty.

Sincerity is to the Almighty

Motivational Moments #4
by Mufti Ismail Menk

The Arabic word for sincerity is “IKHLAS.” Sincerity has been interpreted as being upright, truthful, pure, not showing off in one’s intention and conduct. We try to guard our hearts and to keep it as pure as possible.

Sincerity is therefore our intent to please the Almighty with our deeds and our devotion, without any ulterior or worldly motives. We need to be vigilant with our hearts and should only be concerned with His pleasure and His reward. The Almighty is the only One who can judge our actions to determine whether we are sincere. In particular, He knows whether a person commits good deeds out of genuine desire to please Him or merely to attain applause and approval of others.

Intention is everything in Islam. It is really our core. This is because all deeds are based on intention. Depending on the intention, the deed is deemed valid or void. This can make a difference between happiness or misery and reward or punishment. For example, two different persons might perform the same act, paying equal attention to it but one of them earns a reward while the other earns nothing or even punishment for it because the intentions were different in each case.

A Hadith reads, “Verily, deeds are rewarded by intention. And everyone will have the reward for that which the deed was intended.”

The big question is how do we ensure we are sincere to the Almighty in all that we do? Always ask Him to purify our hearts and to keep it sincere. Try to do things privately. Actions done in front of others are more prone to being insincere. In fact, we are told to hide our good deeds as we would hide our sins.

We should never be proud of our good deeds. Believing that our actions might be rejected by the Almighty will remind us to struggle even harder the next time. This should keep our actions sincere. We should therefore worship the Almighty sincerely and stay away from showing off and other evil intentions. We know that the Almighty does not look at our status and wealth, but rather at our hearts and actions.

All said and done, sincerity in intention basically boils down to a matter between you and your Creator; nobody else can know the real intentions why people do what they do, except the Almighty. A sincere person does not consider whether others will praise him or put him down. He doesn’t care about worldly recognition. Everything is done solely for the Almighty. We ask the Almighty to accept our actions and make us sincere in our actions.