Priorities and Exams
Allah SWT says in Surah Qaf (Surah 50 – ayah 16): “It was we who created man, and we know what suggestions his soul makes to him: for we are nearer to him than his jugular vein”. We have created human being – man and woman – we are nearer to humans than their vein in their necks and we know exactly what are the inner soul desires.
Allah SWT wants us to understand that He knows best what is inside our hearts and our minds. Allah says in another Surah: “Do you know better than Alláh? Allah SWT knows better than you do”. So Allah SWT is stating in the Qur’án, a very important fact that if we want a reference to understand what is happening inside our minds, inside our souls we need to go back to Him, we need to go to the Qur’án and to the sunnah of prophet Muhammad (SAAS) because Allah SWT knows best what is happening inside our minds. Allah SWT gave many examples in the Qur’án about what is happening in the human mind and soul to our motives and desires from the day we are born to the day we are in the grave.
Allah SWT explains in many ayas, I will just give one example for the sake of time. . Allah SWT says (in Surah 57 – ayah 20): “Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and a pastime. Adornment and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children”.
In this ayah Allah SWT is explaining the life cycle of human beings in five stages: the first stage is playing – kids under ten years old just want to play, and then entertainment – passing time in the case of teenagers, passing time which is a very critical part/phase of our live, and then we want to be in a very good shape – in the twenties and thirties we want to have all the nice things, we want to look good in front of people, and then in the forties/fifties – we want when we sit with our peers, we want to be seen that we are in very high rank and that we have achieved a lot. And then the last thing at the last phase of our life – we want to look back and see that we have acquired wealth and have a lot amount of money and a lot of grandchildren.
So Allah SWT is recognizing those motives, recognizing those thoughts and drives inside our hearts and minds. The moral of the Ayah is that those drives and motives inside us can either lead us to the pleasure of Allah SWT and lead us eventually into Heaven or the same motives and same desires can lead us to hell fire. So the only way we can know how to manage those kind of drives and motives [which are very dangerous because these are key drives inside us,] is to go to the Creator.
The same way when we have a problem with your car you go to the manufacturer, you go to the User’s Manual. So Allah SWT is saying that He knows best, he knows exactly what is happening inside us and he knows exactly the guide lines that will help us enjoy our lives and then insha’Allah eventually go to heaven. The problem with human beings is when we start to create our own guidelines, how to manage our lives without referring to the Qur’án and Allah SWT. We only think short term. When we design our own lives we will be designing it around our subjective desires.
So Allah SWT, being the Creator, he knows us best, he is closer to us than our jugular vein. So Allah SWT knows exactly what will be good for us and what will be bad for us and gave us the guidelines.
When we read the Qur’án and the Sunnah, we find two types of directions: in some areas Allah SWT was very directive giving us all the details that we need to follow and those are the things that will not change with time, so since the days of Adam (AS) till the last day on earth these are fixed, Allah SWT gave us the detailed guide lines for them. In other things Allah SWT gave us some general guidelines because Allah SWT knew that these will be evolutionary over time. For example trading: Allah SWT only gave us general guidelines for trading. Why? Because Allah SWT knew that, over time, different forms of trading will evolve. There will be e-trading, there will be new currencies etc, so Allah SWT gave us guidelines what to do and not to do. But, in terms of details, he did not give us any details. This is to make sure that we can accommodate all the Islamic guidelines and Islamic Shariah within what we do.
So again the first point that I wanted to address today is that Allah SWT is our Creator and He knows best. He created us and in Surah Qaf, He said that He is closer to us than our veins, and he knows exactly what is inside us. Many examples in the Qur’án show that Allah SWT understands exactly how we feel. So don’t ever think that Islam and the Qur’án is not linked to what is happening right now. This is a concern that many Muslims have today. Some Muslims think that the Qur’án is a very good book but is not related to the modern issues we have, is not related to the modern concerns that we have. Does it address the issues we have? The answer is yes, because Allah SWT Who has created us he knows us best, he also sent us the Qur’án and He is aware of everything happening on earth, every moment in time till the judgement day.
So this is the level of confidence we need to read the Qur’án, when insha’Alláh, we want to understand some of our concerns. For the sake of time today I will address only one example/concern: we all care about our children, so Allah SWT gave us some guidelines how to manage this kind of concern. Because this concern or motive about children can either lead us to heaven or can push us to do Haraam or forbidden things – things outside Shariah/Islam – and then we go to hell fire. The same motive can guide us to both ways. So Allah SWT says in Suraht Al Nisaa: if you are afraid to leave your family/ kids behind you helpless without any support, if you are worried about the future of your kids, don’t focus on gathering more money and leaving a fortune before you die. What you need to focus on is to be afraid of Allah SWT and you should say the right things within the Islamic cause. So this is the guide if you are under pressure from your family commitments, if you are under pressure worrying about the future of your kids, this can lead you to doing Haraam things – stealing, doing inappropriate things. Or can lead you to say that the only way I can manage this is by focusing on pleasing Allah SWT and following the guidelines of Allah SWT.
This is the guideline – theoretical guideline – Allah SWT gave us practical examples in the Qur’án – many practical examples but I will mention one for the sake of time: in Surah Qaf, when you read Surah Qaf insha’Allah next time, in the end part of it Allah SWT mentions the story of Moses (AS) and saiydna Elkhidr – who was a good man in the time of Moses – when they travelled together to a city and then they found a broken wall and saiydna Elkhidr started to building up the wall, so Moses (AS) asked: why are you doing this, and then the explanation came from sayidna Elhkidr in Surah Qaf : this wall belongs to two orphans, and there is a treasure for them/belongs to them under it. Their late father who died already – and this is the key word in the story – was a good man/ good Muslim. So Allah SWT wanted them to grow up first to be able to defend their treasure and then they will be able to discover the treasure. So what happened is he sent somebody they don’t know, they are not even aware that he is there building up the wall protecting their treasure until they grow up and then they will be able to get it out and defend it because the people living in the same city could easily steal the treasure from them.
This is an example of a good father, a good parent who cared about his children but he passed away, he can not help them now because he is dead in his grave. But Allah SWT is taking care of his children on his behalf because he has done his duty, he has done the theoretical background (as in the Qur’án: be amongst the righteous).
So to summarise the first part, insha’Allah, we said that Allah SWT is the Creator of all human beings – men and women – so Allah SWT is aware of all our motives, all our inner thoughts, knows exactly what is inside our minds, knows exactly what was inside the mind of Adam (AS) and knows exactly what will be inside the mind of the last person on earth. So don’t think that Islam overlooked anything happening on earth. Allah SWT said: “we did not miss any single thing in the book – the Qur’án”. So don’t think that the Qur’án can not give us enough guidelines to manage our lives.
After the break, insha’Allah, we will take more examples and I will try to focus more on students as this might be the last Friday before student exams.
[Second part of Khutbah]
As I said, the purpose of the Qur’án is to give us guidelines. The Qur’án covers key points in our lives. The first key thing that the Qur’án covers: we need to know that who is our God, who is Alláh SWT. So this is the first purpose of the Qur’án, knowing Allah SWT. Second thing is, knowing our beginnings, our origin. That is why in 1the Qur’án we read al lot about Adam and the start of creation. The third thing we need to know from the Qur’án is our mission: why are we on here, why Allah SWT has created us. The fourth thing we know from the Qur’án is the end, where are we going to go after judgment day. What the judgement day is going to look like and what will happen after that. And the fifth thing that we find in the Qur’án is the Shariah, the guidelines. So five key things, under which we can categorize any ayah in the Qur’án – we need to memorize them: knowing Allah SWT, knowing your start – the story of creation, knowing your mission – why you are created on earth, number four is your end – how everything will end, and number five is the guidelines or the Shariah in the Qur’án. Five things we need to remember, these are the key points in the Qur’án.
So, for example we need to follow Allah SWT in the guidelines on how to manage our working life during our stay in the UK. Allah SWT gave us key points, key ayahs/words to show us how can we manage some conflicts because we are in the test every day and we try to manage conflicts between our desires and motives and what is written in the Qur’án and what we need to follow in the Islamic Shariah. So Allah SWT for example says, when He talks about approaching Allah SWT in worshipping – pleasing Allah SWT and asking his forgiveness, he mentioned two ayahs: in one ayah he says (Surah 3 – ayah 133): “Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your lord and for a garden whose width is that of the whole of the heavens and of the earth prepared for the righteous”, so Allah says “be quick” to gain the forgiveness of Allah and in another ayah he uses the word “compete” for the forgiveness of Allah. But when Allah SWT talks about how to approach matters things like work, he says (Surah 67 – ayah 15): “traverse Ye through its (the earth’s) tracts and enjoy of the sustenance which he furnishes: but unto him is the resurrection” he uses the word “traverse”. You see the difference between the words “be quick” – energetic – and “traverse” and the word “walk”. Again Allah SWT says (Surah 62 – ayah 9): “O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed tp prayer on Friday, hasten earnestly to rememberance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic)” and then in the second part of the ayah he says: “and when the prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the bounty of Allah: and remember Allah frequently that ye may prosper”. When you compare those ayahs, Allah SWT is giving you the general guidelines, not the fine details.
These ayahs are not saying you must be poor, be ignorant, and be unhealthy, no, we should be strong, educated, powerful, be the most successful people on earth. But this ayah is giving us the guideline what to do in the conflict between pleasing Allah SWT and achieving a short term goal in this life. So when you compare “be quick”, “compete” to please Allah SWT with “walk” and “seek” the bounty of Allah SWT, you will definitely – if you are a good Muslim – prefer to be quick to please Allah SWT. So remember the key guidelines, that is why reading the Qur’án is very important and ignoring the Qur’án and leaving it behind without bothering to read it is disastrous. Read the Qur’án, whether or not you can read Arabic, because the translation in English will give you the same guidelines. Reading the Qur’án is actually the heart of this Ummah. Without reading those guidelines we will always be in confusion. How else can we prioritise things in our lives?. How can we manage this mission? This is the main issue the ummah is facing right now: We left the Qur’án behind, we are not taking the Qur’án anymore as the number one reference, we are trying to innovate, we are trying to think about things and always focus on the short term and we will never be able to create guidelines equal to those which Allah SWT has created.
I will finish, insha’Allah, with few key advices for the students, as I said we understand that they are breaking this weekend for studying for the exams. The number one advice: you need to plan for the whole three or five weeks. You need to have a plan before you start studying during this break. Also, you need to plan on a daily basis. So, invest ten or twenty minutes every day, this will save you few hours a day if you do proper planning. So, you say what you want to achieve and what are the resources required in terms of books, documents, time etc. So make sure that you can achieve by making an achievable plan, a comprehensive plan with all the resources. So make sure you have a plan before the break and also for every day when you wake up spend few minutes for planning. This is the first advice.
Second thing is don’t eat too much. This is the number one enemy for students. If you eat too much you sleep too much. The guideline from the prophet Mohammed (SAAS) is only eat when you are hungry and when you eat you do not eat up to when you are full. So this is the second advice. You loose a lot of time if you eat a lot. When you fill the stomach, it will become the focus of your mind and then you will lose concentration.
Third one: do not torture your body. Some students find satisfaction in sleeping only two or one housr a day and they compete that somebody did not sleep for two or three days in a row. Again, my advice is don’t do this. I know this gives you some satisfaction that you are doing a lot of activities but by doing this you will loose focus and by the time of the exam you might not be fit enough to really think clearly about what you are doing.
Fourth thing is to ask Allah SWT for help. There is prayer for those in need. If you feel that things are not going your way. If you think you need help from Allah SWT, simply pray two rakaat at any time you want as sunah and then ask Allah SWT to help you on whatever you want. Some people might think well actually I am not praying enough before the exams so why now should I go back to Allah SWT and start praying. Some people will be shy and say well this is not really ethical, if I am not praying regularly, and I am not following the guidance of Allah why now all of a sudden should I start approaching Allah SWT. Well, this attitude is not right, this attitude is from Shaytan. If you have this thought in your mind, forget about it completely. Allah SWT said (Surah 27- Al Naml, ayah 62): “Or who listens to the distressed when he calls on him, and who relieves his suffering”. The distressed could be anyone, he did not mention whether this is a Muslim or not, a good or a bad Muslim, a prophet or scholar or else. He said he replies to those who ask. So don’t be shy that this is not the right time because this is actually the right time. And don’t say I will not do this because after the exams I will not pray again, this is wrong planning. You never know whether you are going to live after the exams or not. Do it now, pray now and then worry about after the exams when it comes.
Finally, tomorrow is the ninth of Moharram and Sunday is the tenth of Moharram. Our prophet Muhammad (SAAS) advised/recommended us to fast those two days in the hadith that was narrated by Muslim. He said that fasting the day of Ashoraa, the tenth of Moharram, clears the sins of the previous year. And also in another hadith he said if I lived till the following year I will fast the ninth as well. But the prophet Muhammad (SAAS) died before that.
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!