What is it about the Quran?

Someone once asked me how I still believe that the Quran is divine considering all the modern cosmological and scientific theories. While answering this I started thinking, when had I exactly started whole-heartedly believing that this Book is divine and not man-made? And what exactly had convinced me of its divinity?

I was taught to recite the Quran as a child, but in my family, like most Muslim-born families, no one really talked about how or *why* this book is undoubtedly extra-worldly. It’s just “our Book”, that’s it. No questions asked, no answers told.

But I don’t remember having a “blind” faith in it either, at least not after a certain age. So something must have convinced me, there must have been some knowledge that nailed it for me, made me realize the magnitude of it. I know the rough time when that happened: I was around 14-15, I got to know more about Islam and history and the Quran and intelligent design and what not… But exactly *what* was it that did it – I keep failing to remember.
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Maybe it was the palindromes in surah Muddatthir and Surah Yasin.

Maybe the event in history where the Romans were unexpectedly defeated by Persia in 615 AD in a land far away, and immediately verses were revealed in the Quran [Surah Rum] about their defeat, much quicker than the news could have humanly reached our Prophet ( ) in Arabia. And the next verses prophecised their next victory along with its timing (which came true).

Maybe the numerical miracles – 25% land and 75% water, 50% fear and 50% hope, 50% day and 50% night, 50% male and 50% female, and so on.

Maybe the unique, epic way this book has been passed on for generations, orally instead of by writing – yet not letting a single letter be changed.

Or maybe how its language is the only language that stayed the same through so many centuries, while languages from even 2 centuries ago – like Victorian English – have gone through such major change that laymen don’t even understand these languages anymore, and people have to spend years studying a single drama or poem.

The use of metaphors, hyperbole, rhyme, sarcasm, imagery, scene-setting, and other literary devices.

How the story of prophet Yusuf and his 11 brothers can be divided into exactly 12 parts, and how it symmetrically builds up a tragedy in the first half, and then relieves it in the second half.

Geographic facts like mountains having underground parts rooting them (like pegs), which have only been discovered later.

The mention of the sun and stars moving in orbits, despite being revealed at a time when people didn’t even believe the *earth* to be moving.

The medical accuracy in the stages of development of the embryo.

The expansion of the universe.

All life starting from water.

Ants having a language.

Iron having come from outer space.

Pharaoh’s body being preserved.

The poetic beauty.

The human rights.

Animal rights.

Plant rights.

And on and on.

But it wasn’t any of these. It just wasn’t. Knowing about all of these kept adding to my faith, made my conviction stronger, but where did it all root back?

I’ll never know. I could have known all of these and more and still disbelieved. So many people do. So there is only one legit answer. One that we read so often in the Quran itself, one we hear so often – at least once each Friday in jumuah khutba – yet ignore:

“Whomever Allah guides, no one can misguide. And whomever Allah misguides, no one can guide.”

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Iman Levels: Expectations and Frustrations

FailE

When I first started getting serious about my faith, I thought I had the whole picture figured out. I saw my upcoming journey as a gradual climb in my level of faith – a clean graph with an exponentially increasing slope. I knew it would be smooth, because why would I ever weaken in my faith or ibadah, right? I was so wrong; if I only knew. This journey is just like any other journey. It isn’t a constant rise; it isn’t clean; it isn’t smooth. But what I never foresaw in the beginning is how bad it could get at certain points. Sometimes I feel like I am on a never-ending decline that I don’t know how to stop. Some days I feel like I am an awful excuse for a Muslim – with a spotless exterior holding a rotten, hardened heart at the core. A heart that sometimes gets so attached to this world, to things and people, that it would rather spend all of its time doing nothing, thinking nothing…than to indulge in ibadah and ponder over the afterlife.

In life, there are things you want and there are things you need. If you are a practicing Muslim, oftentimes the two do not coincide – especially if you are at an early stage of faith. And sometimes it gets extremely difficult to accept the fact that what you need is so different from what you want; to accept that you aren’t being able to fully want what you should be wanting. I’m writing this random rant because right now I’m going through one of the most severe cases of that feeling in my life so far. It’s a feeling of helplessness – to realize you have no control over the things you desire and crave. The cynic in you might constantly tell you that it’s unnatural to force yourself to not have what you want – is it even worth it? Why are you even doing this? You deserve good things in life! – it keeps whispering and then shouting and then screeching at an unbearable pitch until you really start doubting yourself.

But wait, could I say that to a diabetic patient when they crave sweets? Would I tell them, “If it’s what you want, why not just have it? Stop being so stuck up, it’s just sweets. You deserve good things in life, you deserve the sweetest of sweets. Stop holding yourself back, that’s just unnatural!” Would I have said that to my 4 year old brother when he wanted to jump off the window ledge to reveal his flying skills?

Between being a 4 year old kid trying to fly and a 60 year old diabetic wanting sweets, we humans never really change. Deep inside, we are still the comfortably irrational beings who are at a constant conflict between wanting the right thing and wanting the fun thing. Swinging between being an “instant gratification monkey” and a seeker of eternal happiness – most days I have a hard time accepting my own thoughts. One of my favorite ayahs in the Quran is this profound statement by prophet Yusuf (AS):

“And I do not declare myself free (from blame). Indeed, the soul constantly commands to evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.”
– Surah Yusuf, 12:53

Basically, as a human, I’ll never be able to NOT want what I shouldn’t, *unless* Allah SWT shows mercy on me and guides my heart to rise above. Which also means, I cannot stay away from evil or immorality by sheer willpower: it just isn’t enough. I need to constantly ask Allah for help as well.

This is comforting and scary at the same time. Comforting because now I know that my difficulty in always wanting or doing the right thing is actually natural, that’s how the soul is supposed to act – it inclines towards evil. And the fact that my Lord is always there to help me through it, that He will keep being Merciful and forgiving, as long as I ask Him, is the most comforting thing ever. Why scary? Because despite knowing this, I’m not praying enough to Allah, I’m not pouring out my heart in dua to ask Him for guidance. I’m still relying too much on myself, and disregarding the only way out – Allah’s mercy.

We’re either too confident that we are already guided enough, that we don’t need help (which is ironic, because an arrogant person cannot enter Jannah), or we are too convinced that it’s too big of a task to change for the better, to become more practicing, to get more regular and sincere in ibadah. We are constantly so busy either overestimating or underestimating our souls – that we forget the biggest piece of the puzzle – Allah’s power to change our state. Do we realize how narcissistic we are? We are practically placing our state of mind over the power of Allah SWT. Maybe we humans just really like to stay in a rut, even when we know the way out.

Five times a day, we are supposed to forget everything else and sincerely say to Allah – “ihdinaa as-Siraat al-mustaqeem”Guide us to the straight path! The most important thing in life we could ask for, and we skim through it as if it’s nothing. In fact, most times we don’t even mean it when we say it. Heck, we don’t even REALIZE that we’re saying it. How do I expect to be guided if I’m deliberately skipping my chance to ask Allah for guidance, day after day, every single time? Do we really think we don’t need His mercy and guidance? If this isn’t the worst sort of arrogance, I don’t know what is.

Anyhow, back to where I started: ups and downs in the faith-graph. There is one hadith that gives me hope about this hopeless state:

Sahih Muslim Book 037, Hadith Number 6623:

Hanzala Usayyidi, who was amongst the scribes of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), reported: I met Abu Bakr. He said: Who are you? He (Hanzala) said: Hanzala has turned to be a hypocrite. He (Abu Bakr) said: Hallowed be Allah, what are you saying? Thereupon he said: I say that when we are in the company of Allah’s Messenger ( ) we ponder over Hell-Fire and Paradise as if we are seeing them with our very eyes and when we are away from Allah’s Messenger ( ) we attend to our wives, our children, our business; most of these things (pertaining to After-life) slip out of our minds. Abu Bakr said: By Allah, I also experience the same. So I and Abu Bakr went to Allah’s Messenger ( ) and said to him: Allah’s Messenger, Hanzala has turned to be a hypocrite. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ( ) said: What has happened to you? I said: Allah’s Messenger, when we are in your company, we are reminded of Hell-Fire and Paradise as if we are seeing them with our own eyes, but whenever we go away from you and attend to our wives, children and business, much of these things go out of our minds. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ( ) said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in remembrance (of Allah), the Angels will shake hands with you in your beds and in your paths but, Hanzala, time should be devoted (to the worldly affairs) and time (should be devoted to prayer and meditation). He (the Holy Prophet) said this thrice.

Takeaway:
If we want to keep our faith up, we gotta give regular time to prayer, and to think, and converse about the deen – about Paradise and Hell-fire, about our Lord. We need to attend halaqas, discussions, lectures, whatever we can find, or maybe at least watch videos and read things – Hadith, Tafsir, books, articles (apart from the regular Quran reading of course). Because you know what? Iman doesn’t appear magically in the heart, neither does it stay there magically once it arrives. It is hard to find and easy to lose. We have to set away time for our souls – call it soul workouts if you may. Because if we lose our faith, nothing else we achieve on earth would mean a thing. And we can’t afford to lose it all, not when we know and realize the consequences; not when we’ve been given the blessing to understand.

 

He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.
– Surah Baqara, 2:269

And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah, so will you not the understand?
– Surah Anam, 6:32

Campfire

You
are like
sitting by a campfire
in the darkest of nights
and the softest of breezes.
As warm as I could get
yet not warm enough.
And as I slowly drown in this cosiness
i know i can never get too close
without burning myself.

The Mercy Behind Allah’s Commands

When we hear a religious rule, the first thing we tend to ask is “How does this help me?” Apologetics are always busy explaining how every rule has a social or personal benefit.

“Zakah is the fastest way to remove poverty.”
“Salah is like meditation, it brings calm to your mind.”
“Hijab prevents people from objectifying you and putting your looks above your character.”
“Wine or narcotics are haram so that society can have less crimes and chaos.”
“Look at the trillions of dollars of worldwide debt because of interest based finances. No wonder it’s haram.”

Yes, all of that is true and that’s great. BUT, these are not the main reasons we have these commands from Allah. These are side effects. Added benefits.

The reason behind every ibadah is one and the same – our Lord told us.
Nothing less, nothing more.
The one who created us so perfectly, placed us in this perfect universe and gave us everything we need in life and more – told us to do and not do certain things. By following these, we prove our submission to our Creator, express our loyalty and gratitude to Him. BUT out of His mercy, each of these commands ALSO happen to have certain benefits – whether physical, spiritual, or social. Do you realize the magnitude of this? It’s definitely not something to take for granted!

We could have been told to kill ourselves after reaching a certain age. To eat the most bitter leaves that grow on earth (thank God eating korolla isn’t sunnah or fard :v ). To give away our kids to monks or leave them in jungles to fend for themselves. To live on only insects. To cut off a finger every 10 years. To live without houses. To become vegetarians for life (oh mannn, imagine no meat). He could have forbidden people from growing long hair. Forbidden marrying outside the extended family.

Not just Islam, barely did any of the originally divine religions – Christianity, Judaism, etc have commandments that harmed the society or person. What greater proof is there of the Mercy of Allah? Because even if we had rules like this, we would still have to obey those. But He made it easier for us. He made the acts of submission towards Him a means of a better society, a better relationship with family, and a better life in general.

“Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship”

– Surah Baqarah, 2:185

So the next time you seek the *reason* behind a rule, stop yourself. Allah does not have to justify His commands to you. Rather seek the mercy behind that rule. Seek the Love behind each and everything our Lord tells us to do. You’ll be amazed.

 

Quran Journal #1: Surah Kahf 18:28

KAHF_28

Okay,  I’m attempting to start a new series (inner me: haha here we go again), which I hope to write at least once per week. This will be about any ayah(s) I come across which deeply influences me, or makes me feel that it needs to be written about. Bismillah!

Why this ayah hit me like a truck:

Since the start of university (which was about 6 months ago), I have had a massive downfall in terms of good company. Most of the friends (lol friends?) I made are not particularly religious. Or even believers. At first I thought – well that’s always been the case and what could really go wrong? I’m a strong independent minded human who is NOT affected by other people’s thoughts or views. Hah, guess what Shaytan, you were (as usual) wrong. I did start to get influenced by everyone else’s astaghfirullah mindsets. As if my iman wasn’t low enough, I now have newer, stronger, shinier issues deep down inside my heart. Did NOT see that coming. Hey, fitnah, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE BRO?

So this week I read this ayah – which I usually skim over, cause it makes me feel guilty (meta conscience in action, damn) – and I realized i REALLY need to make some changes. Okay, I think that exact thought twice per typical day and then keep going without making any changes (ermm..) but THIS time it’s different. Because I’m writing about it. On my blog. Nuff said. (Yess that’s the secret to success, my boiz. Writing public posts stating your vague personal issues.)

Actions to be taken in shaa Allah:

  • Cut down talking too much to people who don’t have meaningful contribution in my life
  • The world sucks. Do not crave it. I repeat DO NOT CRAVE THE WORLD, IT SHALL BREAK YOU.
  • Stop wanting material things that others have. It’s never as good as it looks wallah.
  • Try to get more practicing friends.
  • Stay off social media as much as possible.
  • m o r e    i b a d a h

Now let me go back to reading the novel about jinn and hackers. Salaam.

The Paradox of Everchanging Truths – Why I’m Not Ashamed of My Beliefs

I was reading a Harry Potter fan fiction where Harry is a “rationalist” – in all implications of the word’s present day definition – and tries to justify every new thing he learns in the magic world from the point of his existing knowledge and beliefs. When something doesn’t fit, he upgrades/modifies his beliefs and theories (note to wannabe rationalists who “blindly” follow certain schools of thought). This one quote suddenly hit me hard, and i just had to write *something* about it. I haven’t written in a while so excuse my jumbled thoughts.

Professor McGonagall’s eyes were alight. “After you graduate, or possibly even before, you really must teach some of these Muggle theories at Hogwarts, Mr. Potter. They sound quite fascinating, even if they’re all wrong.”

So here McGonagall casually says that Harry’s muggle theories (i.e years of human acquired knowledge) are obviously wrong. He had been talking about some good stuff, like causality and temporal order (a cause having to occur *before* its effect, in the observable timeline), and Turing Computations (going back into a defined moment of the past and computing a different future from there) and things like that. He couldn’t explain the Time Turner based on his existing knowledge of how cause and effect works. So he accepted that it could work backwards too – something that happens *later* in time might control something that happened *before* it.

See, whenever we read or hear about something that doesn’t make sense according to our established scientific theories, we immediately dismiss the phenomenon as “impossible” or just fantasies made up by humans or superstitions. Or religion. While that is true in many cases, it doesn’t always have to be. There could be – and quite definitely are – laws that are beyond our understanding yet. For all we know, all the basic scientific theories we know now could be false in some way, or at least *incomplete* – which is why they fail to explain many things.

The mind projection fallacy, as described by physicist and Bayesian philosopher E. T. Jaynes, says that that if you are ignorant about a phenomenon, that is a fact about your own state of mind, not a fact about the phenomenon itself; your uncertainty is a fact about you, not a fact about whatever you are uncertain about; gnorance exists in the mind, not in reality; a blank map does not correspond to a blank territory.

In this particular book the people of the magic world know for a fact that most muggle theories are wrong, and hence they have no problem accepting the reality of magic. Meanwhile Harry Potter, a sort of child prodigy back in the muggle world, just CANNOT come to terms with the apparent unbelievable-ness of magic world laws – which allow things like time turning, mind control, trapping a “large space” inside a “small space”, etc.

The lesson to take from this is, just because we don’t find something believable, doesn’t always mean it is false. We are a species that’s SO arrogant that we are never ready to believe anything that the currently most-credible institution in human society hasn’t declared believable. In the present world this institution is Western rationalist science. For a long time this institution was the Church (which followed different interpretations at different times, based on what suited the current emperor). During Moses’s time (ancient Egypt) it was the Pharaoh. Sometimes it was aristocrats, sometimes philosophers. Keeps changing, is the point.

The only constant throughout history is that we were always too arrogant to think outside the box. Pre-Copernicus scientists were too arrogant to believe that the earth wasn’t at the center of everything. 18th century biologists were too arrogant to believe that plants have life. Descartes was too arrogant to believe that atoms couldn’t be broken down. Hume was too arrogant to believe in the existence of anything we can not see. Non-Darwinians are too arrogant to believe in evolution. Darwinians are too arrogant to disbelieve in evolution. Present day rationalists are too arrogant to believe in the existence of a soul, or an intelligent designer of everything in the universe. Present day scientists are too arrogant to believe in anything that doesn’t show up in existing man-made measurement devices. And on and on and on.

The point is, we think we know. At every point in history, we thought we knew. And this, the present, is also a point in our history. That’s the part we always forgot.

And that is why when someone asks me how I believe in such “backdated, flawed” theories i.e Islamic beliefs (and that too, as a conscious decision) – I can’t expect them to understand what they’re too arrogant to understand. Yes, I believe in divine entities, higher dimensions, eternal consequences, an intelligent designer, and much more. I believe in a bigger reality. And I’m not ashamed of it.

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[Reference: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, by Eliezer Yudkowsky]

Horses and Dreams

There are so many things I have to tell you.
Like how I rode a horse this morning
How it almost jumped off the bridge we were crossing
How good it felt to hold on to its smooth mane
And to recover from the anticipation of falling.
How disappointed I was when I woke up
How shaken I was at the realness of the dream
How I can still feel it’s smooth neck
Brushing against my tensed skin.

There are so many dreams I have to tell you about
Dreams that no one cares about
Dreams only you would hear about
Dreams that help me go on
Even on sunless mornings.

Like that one time I was looking for a key
Hidden under layers of reality
On some cold night covered with vivid constellations.
And under the stars I felt like I saw you.
And although I couldn’t remember how you looked
You’d never looked more perfect or true.

Someday I will tell you all about these
All about every thing I ever dreamed
While your eyes get​ heavy with sleep
Your voice gets blurry and weak
And we’ll dream together
Of all the horses
We never rode.

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The quote on the bookmark says, “A thousand miles begins with a single step.”
What better place to start?

Al-Albaani on True Love

Shaikh al-Albaani

Questioner: Someone who loves a person for the sake of Allaah, must he say, “I love you for the sake of Allaah,” to him?

Al-Albaani: Yes, but loving [someone] for the sake of Allaah has a huge price, only very few people pay it. Do you know what the price [to be paid] for loving someone for Allaah’s sake is? Do any of you know the price?

Let whoever knows give us the answer.

Someone present: Allaah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “There are seven whom Allaah will shade with His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His …” one of the categories mentioned are two men who love each other for Allaah’s sake, who get together for that reason and part for it too.

Al-Albaani: This is correct in and of itself but it is not the answer to the question, it’s an approximate definition of loving…

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Verse 30, Chapter 2, Holy Quran

Me, Science and Life!!

As-Salam-Alai Kum,

Wanted to share the profoundness of the Verse 30 of Chapter 2. In Chapter 2 verse 30 of Holy Quran, it is mentioned,

“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.”

In this verse of Al-Baqara, Allah is describing about an event that took place before the physical creation of human beings. From this verse we get the following information

(1) Angels knew a astronomical body called ‘Earth’, that exists in this universe. If they had no knowledge about earth, they would have enquired more information about earth to Allah.

(2) Earth was created before the physical creation of human beings. This is inferred from the phrase ‘I…

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Tragedy is…

Tragedy is...

A Depressed Post

Things that hurt me beyond words:

1) When people whom I love do things that might greatly displease Allah SWT and I can’t stop them

2) When my mother shows annoyance at my learning Arabic or wearing Abayas

3) When I watch my friends wasting their life on boys, music etc and I can’t do anything about it

4) When I myself waste my time doing nothing and feel all hopeless about this life and the next because I know I’m being a terrible Muslim

And then I spend the rest of the day/week feeling depressed and doing nothing because I’m just like any other teenager at the end of the day. *Sigh*

May Allah guide us all.

A much needed reminder. Priceless.
Subhanallah.

I remember writing this in my diary once on having passed a few months without watching any TV series or listening to any music. It was magical. Probably what alcoholics feel after weeks of being sober.

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