Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My life- How I came to Islam- part 1

My life- How I came to Islam- part 1

In the name of Allah Most High, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Quite a few people have been interested in knowing my life story and how I got to where I am now.
I'm not anything, but I write this to show that I have been blessed Alhamdulillah. This is the first part of the series insha'Allah, covering different aspects of my life.
There hasn't really been a 'conversion' story in my life, I didn't turn from a life of girlfriends, drugs etc to a life of praying etc. But I can say that I started praying regularly when I was about 13 Alhamdulillah, thanks to my granparents and parents, especially when I went to umrah. Because I saw that people around me would pray, and my grandparents believed strongly in Islam and it affected their life positively.
My grandfather, though he was in much pain from cancer, would have much faith in Islam. He would say “Allah and His Messenger are with me” when he would tell his family to go to another event without him (since he was too ill).
I remember vividly how when I was quite small, I used to read about what's happening in Chechnya in the war, and I would do dua for them. And my grandfather was of those who went all the way by car to bosnia to deliver aid when bosnia was being destroyed by war. So my concern for others and the want to help them arose from a young age.
I tended to be different at school to most people, like being more quiet, not swearing, thinking much over things, and so on and so I grew up to not be afraid of other people"s views or fashions (I think this was a gift that Allah Most High gave me through family and perhaps natural influences). This meant that Allah Most High bestowed upon me a wonderful lesson. And that is that I didn't feel a compulsive need to follow other people, or care about other people's opinions, or to fall for peer pressure. So He saved me from the crimes of most youth, such as adultery, gangs, drugs, nightclubs, alcohol and so on. This even if everyone around me (like at university) would engage in them.
But then again being different wasn't the total reason for me being able to hold fast to my religion in the face of the fitna around me.
From early on I had a questioning mind that sought to be rational, and tried to come up with reasons of things, and not to blindly follow. So when I applied this to what the people my age were doing, I realised why I shouldn't do what they were doing. I also watched as they suffered the harms of what they did, and that reinforced within me how wise the religion of Islam is.
Furthermore my family gave me a good understanding of Islam, and because my parents sent me back to Pakistan (from the UK, for O levels), I went to one of the elite Pakistani schools. There I developed more of my knowledge of Islam in the Islamic module. But I also saw how the students there were following the western lifestyle, and the principal tried to westernise us, and I saw the harms that were caused by this (such as the gang culture, falling of morals and character etc). Again this showed me why the Islamic way of life is the correct one.
But there was one other profound influence, the same that affected the likes of Imam Ghazali and most scholars in the Islamic world, and that was Sufism, the science of the heart in Islam. Some of my family followed Sufism, and going to their gatherings gave me a deep sense of happiness, peace and meaning that I did not get from the dunya. It proved to me the worthlessness of the dunya and made me seek Allah Most High even more. So I did not need the life of sin to give me happiness or pleasure or meaning. The remembrance of Allah Most High reinforced my belief that I only need to depend upon Him, and not on people. Furthermore Allah Most High strengthened my Iman/belief in Him as He bestowed miracles/karamat upon Sufis that I knew.
My fondness of reading meant that I read lots of books that inspired me, and really opened my eyes to many different ideas and aims, and increased me in knowledge Alhamdulillah. It made me not to be gullible to things, and encouraged me to by critical of things.
Even though I went through all that, I did come across an intellectual crisis, where I sought to investigate and scrutinise every belief system and sect that I could find, so that I know certainly that what I'm following is the truth. And I did that through reading many books and articles and watching many talks, and debating with many people, and Alhamdulillah I realised that the path and beliefs (of Sunnism, also meaning the Quran and Sunnah) I followed was blessed and the correct way. I thus received intellectual certainty. Islam has had such a profound affect upon me since I have found that it is the best system for mankind, and that it is the best solution for the world’s problems, whether economic, political, spiritual, intellectual etc.

So when I was at university, and I saw wrong being committed by some claimed Muslims, such as the Paksoc, I sought to correct it, whilst believing in the truth that I had (all praised be Allah Most High). Even though I was criticised for that amongst the liberal 'Muslims', I did not feel afraid of them. Rather I felt obliged to fulfill my duty to Allah Most High to help them sincerely.
My wanting to be president of the paksoc was not for some vainglory reason, nor to fulfill desires by organising haram social, nor for CV (job) purposes, but to call people to Allah Most High.
However I lost the elections, but that was known already, and I fulfilled my duty of nasiha (sincere advice), and I continued working with the Islamic society (ISOC) to help Muslims at university. And the ISOC was where I met the best and funnest people of university alhamdulillah and a new family was born. They served to increase my knowledge and Iman, especially when I met some students of knowledge and sheikh Imran Sulayman, may Allah Most High bless them and increase their reward ameen! They were not people who are fake friends, but they had sincerity that is rare in this day and age, and can't be found amongst non-practising Muslims. That is because they had Allah Most High, and that is a great source of serenity.
I noted that Muslims who nominally follow Islam, or follow a liberal or modernist version, such Ramadanites, are normally plagued with doubts, arrogance, can't avoid sin, don't put much priority in praying, and have many diseases etc. Seeing the affects of sects upon persons is important in knowing the effectiveness and soundness in belief. It helped me find which belief system had the most profound influences upon people.
I do not regret my time at university, and I am very happy that Allah Most High preserved me from the sins that many of the students engaged in, such as bars, clubbing, adultery etc. It helped keep my sanity and allowed me to look at things from a more objective view point, and with clearer thought and see the beauty and wisdom of Islam.
Perhaps the closest thing I've come to a conversion is when I left music. AstaghfirUllah I did listen to non-Islamic music when I was younger, but then I was reading a book and it spoke about music in a segment of the book. It quoted the hadith about molten lead being poured in the people who listened to music on the day of judgement. I also read about the hadith on music making hypocrisy grow in the heart.

These (and other authentic hadiths of Prophet) and the fact that pretty much all scholars declare non-islamic music (like if it talks about immoral stuff like love of girlfriend or boyfriend, filthy language, sex etc)  as haram, made me abandon music, and turn towards the Islamic kind, never once regretting it Alhamdulillah. I found so much peace in Islamic music that I never found in any non-Islamic music. I thought why sin when listening when I can earn good deeds by listening to Islamic music and the Quran?

Now I am learning through life as I live the life of an auditor, travelling often 4-5 hours everyday Alhamdulillah it gives me the chance to see the feebleness of this world, and gives me the chance to read books more. I feel strongly that there is a life greater than this, and so I hope that Allah Most High leads me to a sheikh that is guided and will take me to Him!
Everything good that has happened to me is from Allah Most High.

Monday, 30 January 2012

OCD- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a life disrupting anxiety disorder that involves the person having obsessive thoughts (like repeatedly doing wudu). It sadly affects many people, and  many people either do not know that they have it, or don’t know its cure.

It is a waswasa (insinuation) from shaytan, and it should be thought of as that way by the victim. S/he should constantly remind him/herself of that when fighting the OCD/shaytan, and that such thoughts have no basis in Islam, or in the person, nor any evidence. Attribute the thoughts to shaytan.

One should constantly try one’s best to fight such thoughts and to not act upon them. If one cannot fully resist the compulsion, one should still fight it.

Even a reduction in you acting upon the compulsion is an improvement. You can gradually reduce the OCD over time, until it eventually goes away insha’Allah.

You should never give up, and you should remember that you will defeat the shaytan insha’Allah! Despair and the loss of hope is from shaytan.

Try to have one or more close friends who can help you, and whom you can call when you are having the OCD thoughts. It helps to have a support group of good friends. They can use their reason to convince you that your thoughts are from shaytan and are not based on evidence. They can also make you stop acting on the OCD (such as preventing you from doing wudu repeatedly). This helps to convince you that the OCD is not sensible, and is from shaytan.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is a treatment of used, and has a high success rate, and involves short term displeasure, but long term relief. This is done by getting used to the anxiety cause, without performing the compulsion. So for example if one has OCD where one thinks that one is not clean, and feels the urge to wash again, then one should resist the compulsion and get used to the anxiety. Eventually the person will realise that s/he is clean, and that the unclean thoughts are harmless and baseless insha’Allah.

When OCD thoughts strike, one should also distract oneself by doing other things immediately such as: 

1)      Remember that Islam is about balance, and these thoughts are extreme, and thus from shaytan, not from Islam

2)      Focus on something that uses or relaxes your mind, such as a puzzle, or some game

3)      Don’t react to the thoughts, don’t be anxious, don’t be distressed

4)      When unwanted thoughts creep in your mind, catch them and write them down.  Right below the thought, challenge the thought by asking if that is a true thought.  Is it 100% true about you?  Below that write down,
“it’s just a thought”.

5)      Practice daily affirmations such as “I’m doing the best that I can”, “My thoughts are just thoughts and only have power over me if I give them power and I choose not to empower these unwanted thoughts”, “I put my trust and faith in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness”.  The affirmations might not feel true for you but repeating them daily will help you replace the negative thoughts with the positive affirmations, thereby lessening the power of the negative unwanted thoughts.

6)      Practice deep breathing exercises and repeat to yourself “I am safe and with Allah’s blessings, Shaitan can’t hurt me”.

7)      Actively get involved in a deeply engrossing activity that you enjoy such as exercising (yoga, running, biking, etc.) or playing a board game where you are not focused on the negative thoughts.

8)      Force yourself to smile.  This simple act will automatically make you feel happier and relax.  Your mind is incapable of having a good and bad thought at the same time.  When you smile, you force your mind to focus on the positive rather than the negative.

Three good articles on the topic are:


Shorter version of Friends post

We gain and lose many friendships in life. It shows that Allah swt is our True Friend, and we should make friendships based on Him and not become attached to the dunya.

The Qur’an says about Day of Judgement, the time of need, (43:67):” Friends on that day will be foes, one to another,- except the Righteous.”

Good friends have many benefits, and bad friends often have the opposite affects (i.e. opposite of the benefits). 
Benefits of good friends are:
1)     -Improve character and decreases faults of ourselves
2)      -Improves knowledge
3)      -Increases good deeds
4)      -Helps us in times of need, in this world and the next
5)      -Friendships last longer as they are based on Allah Most High, through patience, mercy, good manners and love
6)      -Helps us sincerely
7)      -Leads to pleasure of Allah Most High and closeness to Him
8)      -Reminds one of Allah Most High

"Allah Almighty says, 'My love is mandatory for those who love one another in Me and sit together for My sake and who visit one another for My sake and who give generously to one another for My sake.''" [Muwatta']

So let us insha’Allah love each other for Allah’s sake, and not for reasons of selfishness or worldly benefit. 

Friends, why do we lose them?

One loses and makes friends many times in life. But we should not lose heart, and should instead take it as a lesson in life. It serves to remind us that we should not rely too much on people or this dunya, but that we should seek to rely upon Allah Most High, who is al-Wali (The Friend).

If we never experienced the loss of friends in this world, then we would be very surprised on the Day of Judgement when a mother will leave her child, a father his son, a brother his sister, a husband his wife, a friend his friend, and vice versa.

But Allah Most High has given us a similitude of the shocks and frightening and desperate situation of the next world, so that we can learn.  Further the Qur’an says (43:67):” Friends on that day will be foes, one to another,- except the Righteous.”  This also shows us the importance of who we take as friends and should cause us to reflect upon our friendships and companionships.

Is the friendship based on good and piety?
Or is it based selfish desires and whims?

The Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) emphasised how we are influenced by our friends when he said “A person is upon the religion of his close friend, so beware whom you befriend.” (Abu Dawud)

If we adopt the company of bad friends, we probably will then deteriorate our morals and character and deeds.  But if we adopt the company of good friends, then we will increase our morals and character and deeds. They also increase/strengthen our Iman (belief in Islam) and give peace in our hearts, and make us happy or console us when we’re sad.

The good friends are those who remind each other of Allah Most High, and encourage the good, and forbid the evil, carry out the obligatory Islamic duties, and strive to draw closer to Allah Most High. It is such that are the righteous and whose friendship will be of benefit on the Day of Judgement. The bad friends will only be a cause for our loss in this world and next, as they will lead to our sins increasing, and ditch us in our times of need. The best friends are not those who help us in this world and lead to our loss in the next world. On the other hand a true friend is one who helps us in our time of need, and that is what is of benefit in the hereafter.

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter” (Muhasibi)

And will these friends pray for us often after we die? Will they ask Allah Most High to donate the reward of Qur’an, even 1 year after we die? Or will they forget about us really quickly? So strive to make friends that are real friends, who will help us when it really matters.

Furthermore will these friends help us improve?
Will they sincerely notify us of ours faults, so that we can be better people?
Or will they stay quiet at our faults, only to see us have our faults revealed on the Day of Judgement, when revelation of faults is too late to help us?
If our faults are revealed now, we can strive to correct them before it’s too late.

Also since good companions are based on piety, then such friendships are much more likely to last, since they are more closer to the Prophetic way, and so there is more forgiveness, better character, patience, sincerity and help.

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah Almighty will say on the Day of Rising, 'Where are those who loved one another for the sake of My majesty? Today, on the day when there is no shade but My shade, I will shade them.'" [Muslim]

"Allah Almighty says, 'My love is mandatory for those who love one another in Me and sit together for My sake and who visit one another for My sake and who give generously to one another for My sake.''" [Muwatta']

Mu'adh said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Allah, the Mighty and Exalted, says, "Those who love one another for My majesty will have minbars of lights. The Prophets and martyrs will envy them."'" [at-Tirmidhi]

The above Hadiths show the importance of making friends for the sake of Allah Most High, and that if one does that, then one will preserve the benefits of friendships till the next world. This is the true meaning of “best friends forever”.  Because then even if one loses a friend, one knows that since s/he made friends for Allah’s sake, the reward exists with Allah Most High, especially His shade (which will be given to only 6 other types of people).

The friendship based on love also means that one is more likely to adopt the Prophetic way of forgiveness and overlooking a friend’s faults/injuries to you, since your aim is Allah Most High, not how the person can benefit you in terms of short term goals (like job, or finding a spouse, or getting connections).

Sorry for the long post, but I hope I showed the importance of friendship and that we should strive to love each other for Allah’s sake, not for selfish reasons. We should not feel sad at the loss of friends but should nevertheless strive to help people. I have mentioned the above benefits of friendship with good people, but our purpose should be to make friends for the sake of Allah Most High, striving to be closer to Him.


Assalam-o-Alaikum all,
"Actions are only according to intentions, and to each only what he intended." (A saying of the most beautiful of people, the Prophet Muhammed- Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam- and reported by al Bukhari)
After talking away for so long to friends, and fearing that perhaps my voice will go, I thought that maybe I should manifest my thoughts into the world of written words.Thus I can help share knowledge and benefit other people insha'Allah
At the same time I fear this incident. Hasan al Basri asked Habib al-Ajami: "how did you discover this power?" , Habib replied: "Because I make my heart white, whereas you make paper black,". Hasan commented: "My learning profited another, but it did not profit me,"