My Favorite Shortcut To A Good Quality Salah

Want a shortcut to boosting the quality of your salah?

Memorize some new ayahs from the Quran. It can be just 3-4 tiny ayahs from the 30th juz. Or an entire surah. Anything.

Now pray your salah with the newly memorized ayahs after surah Fatiha (the minimum is 3 ayahs).

If you’ve done this before then you already know how incredible it feels. It’s not the same anymore. The effort your brain gives to keep the recitation correct drowns out all those unwanted distractions. You are literally forced to focus, without the strain of deliberately trying to focus.

The rush you feel…the warmth flowing through your body…the longing to linger on…how long have you been waiting for this? Every new word feels like an adventure! This is what keeps me going on the really, really bad days.

Trust me, it’s totally, totally worth trying.

That’s How The Quran Starts

In the first ayah of the Quran – Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem – the first letter is “Ba”. Here the “Ba” can have two meanings – isti’aanah (seeking help) and Musaahabah (seeking closeness/companionship).

  1. “In” the name of Allah – implies seeking help from Allah
  2. “With” the name of Allah – implies wanting the closeness/companionship of Allah SWT

So just this one letter defines our relationship with our Lord – the one we seek help from, and the one whose closeness and company we absolutely need.

That’s how the Quran starts.

[Heard the concept in Tafsir Surah Fatiha by Asim Khan]

tumblr_o3yy8lgepl1qg7vr2o1_1280

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

Some Resources To Help With Hifz

APPS:

  1. Quran Memorization (Hafiz)

Set the particular Surah or verse(s) you want to memorize, and this app will play it on loop, while you can read along at the same time. You can choose the reciter. You can also specify how many times you want the verses to repeat.

App size: 48 MB

  1. e Hafiz (Easy Quran Memorizer)

This is similar to the one above, except that the ayahs repeat in an infinite loop until you stop it. It comes with several themes and options.

App size: 1.8 MB

  1. AnkiDroid Flashcards

This might be a bit hard to grasp at first, but once you master how to use this app it can be a great help in sha Allah. AnkiDroid lets you learn using flashcards (images or texts that you have to input beforehand) by showing them just before you would forget. It uses the ‘spaced repetition’ concept and reminds you what to revise just at the right time.

App size: 6.43 MB

  1. Tafsir Ibne Kathir – English

Checking out the explanation of what you’re memorizing not only gives you a deeper insight to the surah and its background, but also helps you get the ayahs into your long-term memory easier and much quicker bi idhnillaah. [You can search for other Tafsir apps too, or buy a good Tafsir volume in hardcopy. Nothing beats reading an actual book!]

App size: 4 MB

EBOOKS:


I Wanna Be A Haafidha Too

Causes That Aid In The Memorization Of The Noble Quran
By Shaykh Mahmood al-Misri

Golden Rules For Memorizing The Quran

ARTICLES:

An interview with an O-level student who memorized the Quran

[Interview] Inspiring Tips to Memorize the Qur’an

Practical steps for memorizing the Quran

13 Steps To Memorize The Quran by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi

8 Useful Tips To Memorize The Glorious Quran

Tips to Help You Memorize the Quran, Part I

How To Memorize The Qur’an And Not Forget It! (Muslimmatters)

15 Reasons Why All Of Us Should Have A Habit Of Memorizing The Quran

MORE:

If you want to memorize specific parts of the Quran, check http://www.mounthira.com/

Another useful software/site: http://www.qurantracker.com/

ADVICE FOR THE MEMORIZER:

Surah Jathiyah 45:24

If the sea were ink

An amateur attempt at illustration.

 

 

15 Reasons Why All Of Us Should Have A Habit Of Memorizing The Quran

Hifdh or memorization of the Quran, to most of us, is a fairly distant dream that we simply wish to achieve at some far-off point in our lives; something we consider to be possible only for kids sent to special hifdh schools or madrasahs which detach them from the rest of the world and thus enable them to do this impossible-for-common-folk, utterly enormous feat. An unfortunately large number of Muslims also happen to believe that memorizing the Quran is an all-or-nothing venture: you either memorize the whole Quran and become a Hafidh or you remain satisfied with the few small surahs from “Ampara” i.e Juz ‘Amma that you learned as a kid. Thanks to such saddening misconceptions, most of us spend our entire lives missing out on some epic advantages, benefits and rewards that no other form of ‘Ibadah offer.

But here’s the thing: the Quran is THE most significant book in human (and non-human) history. Most of us happen to read it regularly too. But that’s where we decide to stop. We decide for ourselves how much our capacities will allow us, without even testing it, whereas Allah SWT Himself tells us “Indeed, We have made the Qur’an easy to remember. Is there any who will remember?” [Surah Qamar] four times in the same Surah! By considering memorization to be an impossible or over-the-top task, we are not just underestimating the promise of Allah that He has made it easy for us, but we are at the same time undervaluing our amazing faculty of grasping any kind of information and storing it in a way no other form of life on earth can do! Starting from primary school to the end of university, the amount of “memorization” we do is outright colossal and is multiple folds in quantity compared to the comprise book that the Quran is. To put it plainly, in context of an average high school student’s everyday studies, memorizing an ayah a day, or a few ayahs a week, is anything but impossible.

The best part of Hifdh perhaps is the way it impacts our lives, not to mention our Afterlives. Its benefits vary from person to person. But from a general point of view, I listed down a few of them that have been influencing and motivating me greatly at a personal level.

15. Builds Self-confidence

Nothing acts as a confidence boost like doing something you formerly thought you couldn’t.

14. Way To A Healthier And More Active Brain

Check out the article In Praise of Memorization: 10 Proven Brain Benefits for some science-backed motivation!

13. Prevents Swearing, Cursing, And Abusive Language

We have all heard that the Quran is a remedy for the heart. One of the best implications of this is seen in the way memorizing the words of Allah SWT can change the way a person speaks and interacts – which is a direct manifestation of the condition of one’s heart.

12. Turns A Bad Day Around

Imagine you’re having an awful day. There’s nothing that you’re getting done. It feels like a complete waste of all the hours and the regret of having wasted yet another day you’d been blessed with is only making it worse.

But then you open up the Quran and read an ayah a few times. In a matter of minutes, you imprint on your mind a part of the final Divine Revelation sent upon mankind right from the highest skies by Allah SWT. Those few minutes have made you a holder of something the vast majority of the world doesn’t have, and have possibly encertained you a higher level of Paradise in Sha Allah.
I bet your day is better now!

11. An Impeccable Sense Of Achievement

This is similar to the last point, but think of it in a broader sense: even if you aren’t doing too good in life from a materialistic point of view,  just knowing that you have memorized parts of the Quran i.e the words of Allah SWT can make you feel more accomplished, which in turn would boost other aspects of your life.

10. Carrying A Huge Collection Of Du’as All The Time

Ever read a Du’a and felt absolutely overwhelmed by its beauty, but then didn’t feel motivated enough to memorize it? Or maybe you did memorize it but then it slowly disappeared in the bottomless pit of your busy mind. Memorizing the Quran essentially means memorizing loads of Du’as along the way; du’as that are so awesome that Allah SWT preserved them in His book for all generations to come. And since we are supposed to revise the ayaat and surahs that we memorize again and again to retain them in our hearts for the long run, the du’as are also preserved for good, bi idhnillah.

Everytime you need one – in the middle of a hardship or just in the calm of the night before falling asleep – you can pull out any of those beautiful Du’as from the abyss of all the ayahs Allah blessed you to memorize.

9. Helps In Da’wah

As Muslims, we get asked a lot of questions regularly – by non-Muslims as well as other Muslims. “What does the Quran say about that?” “I’ve never read it, is it in the Quran?” “Do you have proof of this?” “Could you quote something nice from your Book?” A lot of these times, we know that it’s there but can’t quite remember it, or don’t know how exactly to answer. We’re left biting on our nails thinking – Only if I could remember that verse!

Having even a bit of the Quran memorized comes to a HUGE help in these moments, and other moments too – using a rare Da’wah opportunity, correcting a misconception among friends or relatives, consoling a friend, or reminding someone of all the fun awaiting us in Jannah, in sha Allah.

8. De-focusing From Anxiety And Negative Thoughts 

Amidst all the clamor and rush of the hectic life that the 21st century offers, just a few moments spent with the Quran trying to internalize its words is one of the best ways to take our mind off all the negative thoughts, frustrations and anxieties that instinctively seep into us every day. Even if you don’t want to get those worries off of your mind, the concentration that memorization demands will compel you to switch all of it off at least for a while. We all need that, don’t we? And that is part of the endless Rahmah (Mercy) Allah SWT has gifted us through His Book.

“O humanity! There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a cure for all [the ills] in men’s hearts – and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy” [Quran 10:57]

7. Relating To Lectures And Talks

There are few things that give me as much delight as hearing a Sheikh/scholar quote something in a Khutba or lecture and being able to instantly recall it. That “Yes, I know that ayah!” moments is just completely worth it.

6. An Uncomparable Adventure

Hifdh is, beyond any of these things, an unparalleled and extremely intriguing journey. It’s like starting an adventure through a whole different world we’d always been too afraid to enter. It takes us through evergreen forests of memories and bottomless waters of wisdom, leaving us amazed at the pearls we collect along the way. Ever since I started this practice, it has left some of the most profound imprints in my mind – with certain ayahs giving me a déjà vu every time I recite it. Believe it or not, sometimes I even catch smells and feelings while memorizing an ayah, only to re-experience them way later while reciting the same ayah!

5. Be With The Noble Angels

Narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The one who recites the Qur’an and learns it by heart, will be with the noble righteous scribes (in Heaven) and the one who exerts himself to learn the Qur’an by heart and recites it with great difficulty, will have a double reward.” [Sahih Bukhari, 4937]

4. Brings Concentration In Salah

Instead of reciting the short surahs that you’ve been reciting in salah over and over again for years, making a change and reciting ayahs that are comparatively newer to your memory ensures a huge shift in your concentration level. It becomes much easier to ignore all distractions when you are focused on trying to remember the wording of the ayaat perfectly instead of following second nature, even more so if you know the meanings.

3. Enhances One’s Relationship With Allah SWT

The core purpose of sending down such an immensely weighty Book upon mankind – a book that even mountains wouldn’t be able to bear had it been sent upon them – is to connect us to Allah SWT and henceforth guide us. He decided to speak to us puny humans through this Book. Hence, one is bound to feel connected to Allah when His words are imprinted onto one’s heart. It becomes easier to follow the commands, easier to remember Him when His ayahs are cosily settled in the crevices of our forgetful hearts.

2. The Best Way To Repay Our Parents

Ever thought of all the things your parents did for you starting from even before your birth, and how we can never repay it no matter how much we do? Wouldn’t this be a good way to at least try? Imagine your parents  on the Day of Judgement – surprised by the way they are being honored – looking at you with amusement and delight; saying “I’m so proud of you” the way you had waited all your life to hear.

1. A Step Higher With Every Ayah

Al-Tirmidhi (2914) and Abu Dawood (1464) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It will be said to the companion of the Qur’an: Recite and rise in status, recite as you used to recite in the world, for your status will be at the last verse that you recite.”

So what’s stopping you now?

Memorizer of the Quran

Tragedy is…

Tragedy is...

The ultimate source of Peace

The ultimate source of Peace

“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” (13:28)

Reflecting on the sky

Reflecting on the sky

In Different Shoes

Have you ever walked through a street while imagining yourself to be someone else? Looking at everything, the posters and the billboards and the cars and the people, from someone else’s eyes – a random foreigner, or maybe a superstar that you like? I do it sometimes. I pretend I’m this guy from a complete different country who doesn’t know the language and is trying to make sense out of all the strangeness going on in the streets of this new weird city. And trust me, a lot of strangeness goes on in the streets of my city.

Sometimes I’m a sports person, sometimes I’m a famous sheikh, sometimes I’m Mark Zuckerberg and sometimes I’m Bill gates. And sometimes, I jump straight back in time and land in the shoes of some famous philosopher, warrior or – more often than not – a Sahabi (companion of our Prophet (SAW)). And that’s when it gets really weird. Weird as in impossible to take in. And I have to instantly switch back to my 21st century self.

I’m pretty sure that if any of the super-awesome people we remember to this day as Sahabis, may Allah be pleased with them all, had the chance to live for a while in this time and moment, they would have been, to the n-th degree and mostly in a negative sense, mind blown. And not just because of climate change.

There are so many things that they would disapprove of that trying to make a list out of those is sheer stupidity. Let’s assume they would ignore the streets or the outwardly conditions of our life and have a glance at us as persons. What would they think of the way we live? From the way we talk to our parents to the things we look at, our lives are hardly worthy of the approval of the Prophets (AS) or the Salaf. Would our beloved Prophet (SAW) approve of the way we talk to each other, or most of the things we watch on tv, the videos we watch on Youtube, the facebook statuses and photos we ‘like’, even the ones we consider “not so bad”? It’s not really a matter of Halal and Haram, it’s more of just an average sense of conscience. We are so used to taking indecency for granted that we hardly stop and consider if it might cost us our afterlife.

I heard someone say just the other day that if a person living at the time of the Prophet (SAW) were to enter the house of a well-to-do person in today’s world, they might easily mistake it for Jannah. A wide range of food on the table. Several flavors of juices and soft drinks in the fridge. Paid people serving those foods and drinks (in many countries and cultures). High, comfortable sofas. Carpets. Cushions. Does that sound familiar?

And then if they turned and looked at the conditions of our hearts – our spirituality I mean – let’s just say that it would be a huge shame for us. I won’t talk about how ungrateful attitudes most of us have despite living in such “heavenly” conditions. But the stone-like conditions our hearts have turned to is a tragedy. Stone-hearted people on feather-soft sofas, sipping at cold drinks and wasting hours and hours of their lives watching utter useless stuff on tv and listening to pointless music. How can we be so stupid that we deliberately try to escape the things that take us closer to Allah but don’t give a second thought when doing something that has no benefit in this life or the next? Maybe the reason our hearts have turned so hard is that we give more attention on increasing the reading on our “I’m Cooler” meter than to increase the score on the actual scoreboard that matters. Or maybe it’s the other way round. It is more of a cycle I guess: hardened heart – less effort to please Allah – even harder heart and so on. Allah says in the Quran:

Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         __ Surah Hadid, Ayah 16

This gives us the entire reason, which also happens to be the remedy, of the problem: our connection to Allah’s book. Maybe if we took more time to read and appreciate the Quran, we would realize how futile most of our activities are and pay more attention to doing more meaningful stuff. Maybe we’d jump out of our comfort zone and try to make our lives worthful by working more for our Akhirah. But wait, isn’t that exactly what we try to avoid? What? Get serious about life? No, thank you. I’ve got more important stuff to do.

Trust me I used to be like that (in fact still am to some extent). But once I connected myself a little to the Quran and tried cutting off my hours on tv, music and other random stuff, I actually felt better. I realized that it wasn’t a myth after all. The Quran does more than just to add to your scales. It actually, seriously makes you feel better. And believe it or not, cutting off/reducing time spent on entertainment also does something. It makes you feel a different kind of good, ironical as it is.

Back to where I started, I think it actually is a cool thing to pretend to be in the shoes of a Sahabi. I really should try it more often. And instead of running away, I should try to stay in those shoes until it turns me to a better person. After all, if any of them really had to be in our place, would they think of transporting to a different time because the world was too messed up? Or would they be their own awesome selves despite the surroundings and rather try to transport everyone around them to a better condition?

Since I was talking about hard hearts, here’s a talk I really enjoyed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ScGh-__No

 

Ramadan may be months away, but Winter is right here!

It’s a common tendency of many Muslims to wait until Ramadan to bring spiritual changes in their life, or to start a new practice in order to please Allah. And Ramadan in fact is an incredible opportunity to take our spirituality to another level. But is it the only opportunity? Of course not. It sure is a good time to start anything good, but the best time, is right now – whichever month and whichever season may it be. And the right now for us, is winter. Yes, the time of the year when making wudu almost turns to a jihad, and waking up for Fajr and getting out of the blanket gets really hard. But the positive sides of the season, for a believer, beat those by a long way. It was reported by al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’ (3/203) with a hasan chain that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.” For those of us who consider Qiyam al-Layl and performing Tahajjud prayers a distant dream, this winter could be the best opportunity to at least try. Image May Allah make us of His blessed slaves who pray regular Tahajjud prayers. It is related that ‘Ubayd bin ‘Umair used to say when winter came, “O people of the Qur’an! The nights are long for you to recite so recite! The days are short for your fast so fast!” The longer night times and evenings are also great for more recital and memorization of the Quran. Imam Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, said, “Fasting in the winter is the cold spoils.”  The meaning of it being the “cold spoils” is that it is like the spoils of battle taken without conflict, fatigue, or difficulty. Not only are the days really short, but we also feel very less hunger and thirst during these days. What could be a better time to please Allah through some Nafl fasts? ( See more at: http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/the_virtues_of_winter#sthash.GMDVCR3g.dpuf ) Moreover, let’s not overlook this great chance of giving charity – through money and clothes – as this is the time when the poor are most in need. Just an old sweater of ours could mean the world to someone shivering out in the open. And the rewards that come are beyond any amount of money. So we have the following things that winter offers with exclusive ease:

  • Praying at night (Qiyam al-Layl and Tahajjud)
  • More time for Quran
  • Fasting with minimal difficulty/extreme ease
  • Making more charity by means of money and/or warm clothes

As for the difficulty in doing wudu due to the cold, the following Hadith should be enough as a source of comfort: It is related in Sahih Muslim, among the narrations of Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, that he said: “Shall I not direct you to something with which Allah will efface your sins and raise your ranks?” They responded, “Certainly O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Performing an expansive ablution during difficult times; taking many steps to reach the mosque; and remaining in the mosque for the next prayer –doing so a form of guard duty.”  Image

Of Sleeping Heroes And Strange Marvels

A few years ago, one Friday, someone (probably my sister) told me that it was a highly reward-eous act to recite Surah Kahf, the 18th Surah of the Quran, on Fridays. Around the same time I saw a picture posted on Facebook saying something like “Have you read Sura Kahf today?” I’ll be honest and say that it was actually the latter that made me pay some heed to the matter. (One can’t deny the power of those nicely photoshopped images on Facebook. Those are way more powerful than your sister telling you something, even if it be the exact same quote coming out of her mouth). Driven by the notion of getting some rewards (or Sawaab as we call it), I went and opened a copy of the Quran and turned over to Surah no. 18, where the title read: Kahf -The Cave.

It should be said here that reading the Quran wasn’t a regular part of my daily activity then, it was more of an only-in-Ramadan thing for me. Anyhow, I started reading the Surah and by the time I finished the first story narrated therein, I was – to put it as simply as possible – awestruck. A story about some young guys falling asleep in a cave and waking up hundreds of years later? The Quran has these types of things? Isn’t it supposed to be a what-to-do-what-not-to-do Book? Yeah I’ve read stories of some prophets here and there, but such a cool story in the Quran, that too told in such an awesome manner? Wow.

Gradually I came to read all four of the stories put together in this Surah (and each of them are epic I tell you, although it took me years to realize their beauty) and the first one still remains my favorite. Every Friday I would read this part of the Quran and feel the wonders that it did to my heart. I’d listen to lectures on these stories (there are loads of them on Youtube) and even check out the Tafseer once in a while. In fact, Surah Kahf has become one of the reasons I look forward to Fridays (not that I can’t read it any other day of the week, but I love to feel the anticipation).

Here I’m only going to write away some of my thoughts on the first story, the one the Surah is named after. So here I go, let’s start talking about the *drumrolls* Miraculous Story Of The Youths Who Took Refuge In The Cave (I know, that’s a long title and yes, all this was just the introduction).

Although the idea of some young boys remaining asleep for more than 300 years, undiscovered by anyone, sounds like the most wondrous of miracles to us, Allah SWT began their story by asking us,

أَمْ حَسِبْتَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ وَالرَّقِيمِ كَانُوا مِنْ آيَاتِنَا عَجَبًا

Or do you deem that the People of the Cave and the Inscription are a wonder among Our signs?   [18:9]

Thus the first lesson I grasped from this story lies in the very introduction. Allah reminds us that keeping a few people asleep for more than is usual is nothing in comparison to all the amazing things Allah has done, and will do, to the earth and the surrounding universe throughout the history of time (as mentioned in the previous verses). It just happens so that we are so used to all the constant signs and miracles, that we hardly consider them significant anymore.

Now let us delve into the story. There is this nation where everyone is, what we call in colloquial terms, messed up. Everyone is far off track from, and unflinchingly against, Allah’s Deen. So much so that they’re ready to persecute anyone who even tries to worship Allah. And yet from this very nation, Allah brings forth a group of young boys who not only want to follow Allah’s religion, but are risking their lives for it, abandoning everything for it, renouncing all comfort for it. Such people from the same nation where worshipping Allah falls under the category of national offence. This in itself is an Ayah – a miraculous sign – that should humble us before Allah.   Let us reflect on what kind of boys they were.

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى

We narrate to you their story with truth. Verily they were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.                                                                                                                                                                                                      [18:13]

The word فَتًى, which is the singular of فِتْيَةُ, is defined as: “a youth or young man in the prime of life“. So they were the same age in which people are generally inclined to “enjoy life”. But amusingly, it also happens to be the age when the heart is most open to truth and ready to pursue it despite the circumstances. And by the grace of Allah, that was their case.

إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا

When the young people turned to the cave they said, “Our Lord! Grant us especially from yourself a mercy and provide for us from our decision a straight way.”  [18:10]

This is the first of their speech quoted in the Quran, which strongly reflects their dauntless trust, dependence and faith in Allah, and gives us a strong lesson to muse upon.  Allah’s response to this desperate prayer of the youths is mentioned in the following ayah.

فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَى آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا

Then We sealed up [their hearing] in the Cave for a number of years. [18:11]

Here starts the miracle. They are made to fall asleep inside the cave, with their hearings sealed. Each morning the sun rises to their right and each evening it sets to their left. Dawn after dawn. Dusk after dusk. Years pass and generations change, oblivious to these boys. A tiny, petite miracle among all the immense miracles of the Almighty. As if all of this wasn’t a sign big enough, Allah furthermore ensures that anyone who goes near them would be forced to flee, as the sleeping ones and their dog appear to be moving, thus terrifying anyone sighting them. It is yet another example of the endlessness of Allah’s Grace, as stated in Surah Nur:

لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ وَاللَّهُ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

God will reward such people according to the best of their actions, and He will increase for them His bounty: God provides limitlessly for anyone He will.  [24:38]

After the time decreed by Allah has passed and the young men (well they are three hundred and something now, I probably should not call them young anymore) are brought to light, the dominating faith around them is Allah’s Deen, which is Christianity in this case. They are no more considered national traitors for believing in Allah. In fact, people essentially decide to build a mosque over them. I wonder how they felt to be waking up to such a different world, At this point of the narration, Allah points to us the ultimate admonition of the whole occurrence:

وَكَذٰلِكَ أَعثَرنا عَلَيهِم لِيَعلَموا أَنَّ وَعدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ وَأَنَّ السّاعَةَ لا رَيبَ فيها

And that is how We disclosed them (to the people of the city) that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that, as for the Hour, there is no doubt concerning it. [18:21]

Through this story, Allah SWT admonishes not only the generation which these believers woke up into, but all generations to come – about one of the most vital truths that reverberate again and again throughout the Quran: that the promise of Allah is most definitely true, and the last hour, beyond any doubt whatsoever, will transpire, whether you like thinking about it or not; whether you are preparing for it or not.   In the last of the recorded words of these intrepid young men, we uncover a very subtle yet strong lesson. We find through their words a reverse definition of success, that is, a characterization of true failure. While sending one from amongst themselves to buy food, after they had woken up (oblivious to the fact that 300 years have passed), they advice him to stay very cautious and say:

إِنَّهُم إِن يَظهَروا عَلَيكُم يَرجُموكُم أَو يُعيدوكُم فى مِلَّتِهِم وَلَن تُفلِحوا إِذًا أَبَدًا

 “For they, if they should come to know of you, will stone you to death or assimilate you back to their religion; then you will never succeed in that case.” [18:20]

This connotes their belief that whichever way their lives go and whatever they may have to face, they would still have some form of accomplishment; if not in this life, at least they would be victors in the Akhirah. Even if they are stoned to death, they will have pleased Allah and achieved Jannah. But there is one particular probability, which would, without doubt, lead them to utter failure; a case wherein they would “never succeed”. And what is this possibility, which they deem even worse than being stoned? It is the prospect of being convinced back into their old ways, being converted back to their old religion of Shirk and Kufr. And in reality, the likelihood of that happening was not low (considering that times had not changed). Just a little glimpse of that old life, a little reminder of how supposedly awesome life would be if they stopped caring about the frightening notion of an afterlife and just followed their ‘hawa’: their lusts and wishes, are all it would take. And as simple as the process is, it is also the biggest failure – or rather defeat – a believer can ever encounter. This is explained awesomely in this lecture:

This verse also demonstrates that a believer’s primary worry is always his faith. These youths held their faith dearer even to their own lives, just how every believer should do.

The most basic lesson in the story of the young boys, to me, is the value of being steadfast upon one’s faith even in the face of the strongest of oppressions and the cruelest of tyranny, which, perhaps, is most possible at a young age. And the strongest message that this instance of bravery of the boys sends us – a message exceedingly important to the people of our generation – is that one should never, ever compromise the practice of the Deen in fear of what people might think or anticipating social ridicule. In a world full of belligerently secular governments, culture-based societies, immensely assertive media and judgmental friends, a message like that is something every Muslim should hold very dear. Because when the line between faith and disbelief is as thin as it could ever get, it’s easy to get “assimilated” into their thoughts, ideals, beliefs and even practices (their being everyone and everything not Muslim), without even noticing it. And that is exactly what is happening to us – the Muslims – especially the youth. It is happening when we watch their TV shows and try to become like that; when we listen to their music and take pride in that; when we celebrate Halloween at the end of Octobers; when we replace our headscarves with exotic fashion statements, our beards with intentional attractiveness.

And the worst part? We don’t even want to admit that we are moving away from our religion, rather, we try to assimilate whatever is acceptable in the culture or social media to the religion itself. Only if we cared to take admonition and say the same words these youths uttered, from our heart, Allah would surely answer us:

Our Lord! Give us mercy from Your presence and shape for us right conduct in our plight.” [18:10]

After all, He is Al-Wahhab, Al-Hadi – the ultimate Bestower, the ultimate Guide.

A much needed reminder. Priceless.
Subhanallah.

%d bloggers like this: