Concentration in prayers is a constant struggle. As much as we would like khushu in our prayer, it is not there.
In Surah al-Mo’minoon it appears,
“Certainly will the believers have succeeded: they who are during their prayer humbly submissive,” [23: 1-2].
How are they able to stand in humble submission? By turning away from the futile and unnecessary as we read in the ayah after. The futile and unnecessary are time wasters. Someone was asked, “Why do you take off your shoes before entering the House of God?” He replied, “My shoes are the Dunya that I am leaving behind. I don’t need it when I am engaged with my Lord.” We need to empty our heads from the unnecessary concerns and gossips before we get on the prayer rug. Getting rid of such thoughts is impossible unless we cleanse ourselves. Therefore, zakat was mentioned next.
Your Wealth Requires Purification
Linguistically zakat means purification. One needs to purify their wealth as well as their thoughts. With evil thoughts in our mind, we would get on the prayer mat going through our conversations with other people or plotting our next rebuttals. We need to work on our temper and control our tongues. Let’s not utter words that will haunt us later. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to enable us and to guide us to work on our bad character traits and to transform into a Momin, ameen.
Why does Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala command us to give zakat? In order to replace materialism with generosity. This is how we can get rid of the futile.
Stay Away from All Kinds of Immoralities
Then we are advised to stay away from adultery and immorality.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
“Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise,” [Bukhari].
Whenever a person falters he should turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in sincere repentance. Chastity of the private parts and the tongue is a trust, whoever loses that trust will lose peace from his life.
Therefore, the next trait of the successful ones mentioned is,
“they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive,” [23: 8].
Spouses are a trust to one another. The ayaat of God-consciousness (taqwa) are recited in the Nikkah sermon. And wherever Qur’an mentions the rights of husband and wife, it is followed by a reminder of the Hereafter. Let us not break our trusts and promises whether they be with other people or with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Be Regular in Your Prayers
When a person prays only when he wants to pray and neglects it at other times, he cannot be humble in his prayers. Therefore, it was said,
“And they who carefully maintain their prayers,” [23: 9].
Follow the Successful Ones
After describing the qualities required to attain success, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrates the stories of successful people – the prophets and the messengers. He says,
“Then We sent Our messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation its messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another [to destruction], and We made them narrations. So away with a people who do not believe,” [23: 44].
Whether one openly denies the messenger or shows a hypocritical behavior such that we declare we are the nation of Muhammad ﷺ and take his Sunnah as a burden, then we should know we are inviting destruction. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loosens the rope up to a certain limit and then snatches it. Let’s return to Him before the rope is snatched.
Repent Before the Angel of Death Appears
The doors of repentance are opened until death. When death approaches and the man says, “I seek forgiveness for my sins,” it would not be accepted from him.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“…when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord, send me back that I might do righteousness in that which I left behind.’ No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected,” [23: 99-100].
There are no second chances. This life is our only chance to build and strengthen our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
We Were Not Created Without A Purpose
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala questions man about his purpose of creation,
“Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?” [23: 115]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not create man for nothing. We have been informed of our purpose of creation and we will be questioned about our time here. Let’s not waste this chance.
We now begin Surah an-Nur – the Surah that deals with adultery.
Beware of False Accusations
Sometimes we forward text messages and share posts without verifying their truthfulness. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala warns,
“And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses – lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient,” [24: 4].
About accusations, it has been said it takes a dirty mind to think dirty. We overhear or see something and weave our own stories. What we have concluded might be far from the truth. We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to cleanse our hearts and to be more focused on our own shortcomings than pointing fingers at others, ameen.
False accusations lead to loss of peace,
“Indeed, those who [falsely] accuse chaste, unaware and believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have a great punishment,” [24: 23].
Indulgence in rumors and gossips is taken very lightly not realizing the curse that we are inviting on ourselves.
Don’t Take Part in Gossips
While there is a warning for those who accuse chaste people, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala offers comfort to the accused. He says,
“Indeed, those who came with falsehood are a group among you. Do not think it bad for you; rather it is good for you. For every person among them is what [punishment] he has earned from the sin, and he who took upon himself the greater portion thereof – for him is a great punishment,” [24: 4].
Here is also a reminder to not indulge in such acts due to which on the Day of Judgment people will come and claim their share from our good deeds.
Let us concern ourselves with “our” lives and not the lives of others. Let us not be of those who take pleasure in gossips and spread it.
Don’t Spread/Publicize Immorality
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know,” [24: 19].
The owners and employees of media houses should reflect on what they are promoting. What kinds of shows are on the air? Today, families cannot sit together and watch television because family entertainment has been taken over by vulgarity and indecency. Once that was censored is now openly shown on television. As a consequence, we see an increase in crime rate, illicit relations and immoral behavior.
Qur’an gives us repetitive reminders of how our choices determine our end. Let us rectify what is wrong within us, and not ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for His painful punishment in both the worlds. Let us choose only that which will benefit us in the Hereafter.
Don’t Visit Someone Unannounced
With the coming of smartphones, we are quick to share small details about ourselves. But when it comes to visiting someone, somehow we are reluctant to inform them of our arrival beforehand. The etiquettes we follow determine whether we have a pleasant stay or sense being uninvited.
In Surah an-Nur Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives us the instructions on visiting someone’s house,
“O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded. And if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter them until permission has been given you. And if it is said to you, ‘Go back,’ then go back; it is purer for you,” [an-Nur 24:27-28].
There is nothing insulting in being refused admittance. Perhaps, the family is engaged in some kind of conflict resolution and they do not want an outsider to sense their house troubles. Be understanding of other’s situation. If you are welcomed inside do not prolong your visit. Keep your visits short and sweet making hosts look forward to your next visit.
Decide Your Matters According to the Teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah
Talking about conflict resolution some people are not really interested in a compromise or a settlement. Their only concern is what they gain from it. In doing so, they swing between Shariah and manmade laws; whichever offers more gain they pick it. The word of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala i.e. the Quran and the Messenger ﷺ i.e. the Sunnah are enough to settle disputes.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks,
“Is there disease in their hearts? Or have they doubted? Or do they fear that Allah will be unjust to them?” [an-Nur 24:50]
The truth is no one loses anything if he surrenders to Allah’s laws. In fact, that is a means for attaining peace and tranquility. If not here then at least we know in the Hereafter such a person will be at peace. The one who does not follow Prophet’s path has been warned of a painful punishment, [refer an-Nur 24:63].
Some of us love picking on others. But why do we do that? Is it because we have silently acknowledged they are better than us and a tiny seed of jealousy sits in our hearts?
Don’t Mock Righteous People
People mock the practicing Muslim wherever they see them. The Quraysh mocked the Prophet ﷺ and called him all kinds of names. Some of their arguments were,
“What is this messenger that eats food and walks in the markets? Why was there not sent down to him an angel so he would be with him as a warner? Or [why is not] a treasure presented to him [from heaven], or does he [not] have a garden from which he eats?” [al-Furqan 25:7-8]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comments, “Look how they strike for you comparisons; but they have strayed, so they cannot [find] a way,” [al-Furqan 25:7-9]. Because their hearts have been sealed to receive any guidance, therefore, they mock the messenger. Here is a warning for us: never mock the scholars or those who are knowledgeable.
It is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala who eases the path to knowledge for those that He chooses. We should pray to Him to make us of those instead of holding ill thoughts about the other person.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comforts the Messenger ﷺ,
“And We did not send before you, [O Muhammad], any of the messengers except that they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you [people] as a trial for others – will you have patience?” [al-Furqan 25:20]
Had Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not sent a human messenger how would we have related ourselves to him? We would have perhaps argued, “Oh, he is not a human, he does not understand us.” It is a great favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala upon us that He chose a human messenger whose conduct is an excellent example for entire mankind. Today, the disbelievers are studying his Seerah to improve their lives.
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013.)