Monday, July 3, 2017

The 'marathon' goes on...'istiqamah' in being His servant!

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

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RAMADAN was over but the 'marathon' to do good deeds goes on, said an 'ustaz' (religious teacher) during his 'tazkirah' (lesson) at a 'masjid' near my house recently. He reminded congregators to remain 'istiqamah' (steadfast) in performing their duties to Allah SWT until their last breath on earth. 

But according to the 'ustaz', our ability to perform the good deeds and refrain from the bad ones depended on Him, thus we must always 'isytifar' (ask for His forgiveness) and seek 'du'a' (supplication) to enable us to be in His straight path as what we recite 'Ihdinas-Siraat-Al-Mustaqeem(guide us upon the straight path) for at least 17 times every day in our 'solat'.

As human beings, we always make mistakes, and the best among us are those who repent and seek forgiveness from God. Mistakes against Allah SWT can be wiped off if we repent to Him because of His kindness, forgiveness and merciful but sins related to other human beings can only be erased if we repent and seek forgiveness from that person. 

In making mistakes, our hearts would be blackened little by little - we should be afraid we would be able to see and to be guided in His true path; thus always repent and mostly importantly we should never, never miss our five times 'fardu' (obligatory or compulsory) 'solat' where we pleaded to Him among others 'Ihdinas-Siraat-Al-Mustaqeem' in every 'rakaat' (unit) of our prayers.

The 'marathon' to do good needs and to refrain from the bad ones was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, s.a.w.), said to his companions when they returned from a military campaign, “We have come back from the lesser jihaad to the greater jihaad.” They said, “Is there any greater jihaad than jihaad against the kuffaar?” he said, “Yes, jihaad al-nafs (jihaad against the self).”

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Jihaad is of four stages: jihaad al-nafs (striving against the self), jihaad al-shayaateen (striving against the shayaateen or devils), jihaad al-kuffaar (striving against the disbelievers) and jihaad al-munaafiqeen (striving against the hypocrites). 

Jihaad al-nafs means striving to make oneself learn true guidance, and to follow it after coming to know it, calling others to it, and bearing with patience the difficulties of calling others to Allah. Jihaad al-Shaytaan means striving against him and warding off the doubts and desires that he throws at a person, and the doubts that undermine faith, and striving against the corrupt desires that he tries to inspire in a person.
Jihaad against the kuffaar and munaafiqeen is done in the heart and on the tongue, with one’s wealth and oneself. Jihaad against the kuffaar mostly takes the form of physical action, and jihaad against the munaafiqeen mostly takes the form of words… The most perfect of people are those who have completed all the stages of jihaad. People vary in their status before Allah according to their status in jihaad.” (Zaad al-Ma’aad 3/9-12)
Jihaad to perform good needs to go on whether it is during Ramadan or the other 11 months but what are seeing and experiencing in our own society? Sometimes ago I wrote about this scenario, and now are witnessing the same scene.
While readying myself for the mass 'isyak' (late evening) prayers at a 'masjid' near my house, I glanced at the attendees; congregators only filled the first 'saf' (row), perhaps there were only 15 men.

That scenario contradicted with the merry atmosphere of Ramadan especially during its early stage. During  'isyak' mass prayers congregators filled every space in the 'masjid'; one night I turned up when the 'azan isyak' (call of prayers for 'isyak') was on air but failed to get a place in the 'masjid'. After a 'frantic search' I only managed to find a space at its veranda.

If during Ramadan there were hundreds perhaps a few thousands of congregators but nowadays for the five times 'fardu' (compulsory) prayers attendees were very poor...the question is 'where have all those people gone to'?

During Ramadan, for 'isyak' prayers the 'masjid' was full capacity, sometimes congregators 'spilled' to the ground area but nowadays as many as 95 percent of the congregators failed to turn up for the same 'fardhu' prayers; why it is so?

Perhaps during Ramadan, the people wanted to perform the yearly 'solat sunat tarawih' (recommended tarawih prayers) which was held in mass soon after 'solat isyak' thus they have no choice but to perform 'solat isyak' in mass first but after Ramadan, many people were back to square on.

Another 'ustaz' (religious teacher) during his 'tazkirah' (lessons) recently which I attended, claimed that many of us perform our religious obligations without having proper knowledge about it. 

Many were from the 'ikut-ikutan' (following others) type; they went to the 'masjid' at night during Ramadan, they follow suit. People said Ramadan is a 'barakah' (blessed) month, they too would like to seek for that 'barakah' but they failed to understand which of the 'solat' is more important that the other.

"Of course 'solat isyak' which is a 'fardu' must be paid more attention than the recommended 'solat tawarih'. A 'sunat' obligation cannot surplus a 'fardu' one. Men are supposed to perform 'solat isyak' in mass at the 'masjid' during Ramadan and outside Ramadan, but many of us concentrate doing so in Ramadan but 'forget' it altogether in the remaining 11 months.

"Thus it is a must for a Muslim to seek for knowledge; Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. always encouraged Muslims to acquire knowledge as is clear by his famous statement: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” said the 'ustaz'.

So what happened? Where have all those people gone? No sooner is Ramadan over than we have gone back to the way it was before.

Many people were attracted to do 'solat tarawih' because it is an annually event - people get exited to 'new things'- for example people's appetite are good if we serve them KFC once in a while but "who could eat KFC for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday?

People too 'get excited and attracted' to perform the 'solat sunat Aidilfiitri and Aidiladha' (Eid recommended prayers) but many distance themselves from performing the weekly compulsory 'solat Jumaat' (Friday prayers) whats more the five times daily prayers. We could witnessed congregators spilled out of 'masjids' during Eid prayers. 

People get bored eating or doing the same things over and over again. As for the daily five times compulsory prayers (subuh, zuhur, asar, maghrib and isyak), not many people could tirelessly perform them whats more at earliest time possible and at the 'masjid' in mass.

Perhaps you could not take KFC every time you are at the dinner table but you could have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes you could eat it and the next day you still crave for rice. You do not feel bored with rice; you need it everyday...

'Solat tarawih' is like taking KFC while the five times daily prayers is like taking rice...if your body is designed to take rice a few times in a day, you soul too needs to be 'refresh' every now and then...then 'solat' (prayers) is the answer to calm up your soul...Only in the remembrance  of Allah do hearts find peace! 

Allah says: “Those who believe and whose hearts find tranquility in the remembrance of Allah, verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility.” (Surah Ar-Radd: 28)

Another first 'ustaz' explained 'the phenomena' by saying that many Muslims lack 'istiqamah' (consistently) in their 'ibadah' (acts of devotion to Allah SWT). "We must maintain our good deeds even small at all times until we were called by Allah SWT. There is no such thing such as boring in performing good deeds."

He said, other than the compulsory 'ibadah' such as performing our five times 'fardu prayers'  and giving 'zakat', there are many other 'sunat' (recommended) good deeds - say if we were tired of performing recommended prayers we could switch to reading the Qur'an and then change to saying our 'zikir' (dhikr). We can also go out of our home to visit unfortunate people and give away money as part of our recommended good deeds (sadaqah).

The 'ustaz' also recommended all Muslims to go to 'masjids' to see for themselves what activities are in store for them other than the mass five times daily prayers. It it might include works of charity and if there is not an existing group perhaps you could suggest to other congregators or to the 'imam' that you would like to start one.

During Ramadan, 'masjids' have 'successfully' attracted a good number of people during 'isyak', but outside the holy month, where have they all gone to...? 

Another 'ustaz' said: "Don't be a 'hamba' (servant) of Ramadan but always be 'istiqamah' in being Allah's servant!

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