Surah Yusuf has always been one of my favorite Surahs. Ever since I was a child, I had a deep love and connection with the Surah. I would read books about it, delve into its story, listen to Nasheeds about it, and by doing so, I began to love it more and more. Over the years, as I started to practice my deen more, and as I began to read the translation of the Qur’an, I realized how the meaning of the Surah further enhanced for me the beauty of its recital and its story.
It was then that I began to dream and hope of wanting to raise my first boy then, Yusuf!
It still is a Surah close to my heart, for the same reasons it was when I was a child, as well as a greater reason, which I was able to discover and learn about, through life experiences.
That reason is this.
So many of the situations we go through in life, so many of the tests we face, so many of our difficulties, are in some, way, shape or form etched within the life story of Yusuf (as). They may not be exactly similar, but the lessons we derive from them are the same lessons we learn from that which Yusuf (as) went through. From the test of jealousy, to the struggle of restraining evil desires and temptation. From the test of popularity and fame, to the test of greed and wealth. From love and loss, to oppression, dreams, obedience to parents, separations and reunions. From heartbreak and tears, to light and darkness. All these themes and tests are embedded within the life of Yusuf (as).
And that is why so many shed tears when they recite this Surah, as it comforts the heart, and consoles it. It is a story, which moves the hearts of both the young and old. It is no wonder that scholars have drawn so many parallels between the story of Yusuf and the Seerah of Muhammad (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah knows us better, so He sent us guidance in form of the best story ever to be written; by the greatest of Writers. And no one can ever match its profound beauty and eloquence. It’s the Best of stories containing some of the most profound lessons with a prose that is sweet to the ears and soothing to the soul.
One of the greatest overall lessons we can learn from this Suran, is the lesson of patience and trust. Of Sabr and Tawakkul. These two themes are highlighted in this Surah over and over again at every turn of every page. Yusuf (as) was someone who was repeatedly taught to practice patience throughout his life as well as rely on God in every single situation he was placed in. Hence, it was these two qualities that Yusuf (as) was able to master, that not only earned him the love of Allah, but also caused him to be successful in this world and the next.
Today, I want to shed light on just some benefits of this Surah and facts about it that will hopefully inspire you (after reading this article ofcourse), to want to pick up a Qur’an and read through its meaning. Although this will never do justice to the subtleties and linguistic gems that are buried within it, it will give you an insight of why this story is indeed the best of all stories.
So, here goes!
Some points of benefit about this Surah:
Look out for our second article on Surah Yusuf, where we will discuss a beautiful sociology lesson we can derive from this Surah, inshaAllah.
Oh, and don’t forget to read this Surah with its meaning. It will inspire you and soothe your troubled heart!
Ramadan comes around every year, and every year it’s the same hype. The same old HYPOCRISY. “we love Ramadan, can’t wait for Ramadan, this Ramadan is going to be better than ever.” And yet, nothing changes. Instead, we’re worse off for it. Ramadan makes us fatter, unhealthier, lazier and hypocritical. So really, what’s the point?
People say Ramadan brings out the best in everyone (because Shaytaan is locked up and because of the barakah of the month), but I’d like to argue to the contrary. Ramadan brings out the worst in all of us and that too without the help of Shaytaan.
Here’s why I think you SHOULDN’T look forward to Ramadan.
The #1 reason why we shouldn’t look forward to Ramadan is the attitude of Muslims towards food. During Ramadan we become obsessed with food. All we think about and talk about and do, is food. What will we eat today, what will we cook, what will we have for our daily feast? We are extra hungry, extra voracious, extra particular about what we eat. That’s not the spirit of Ramadan.
This is a major issue. During Ramadan, we give up basic things like food, and this should be teaching us abstinence and gratitude. But instead, we spend more, and waste more. We spend more money on food during Ramadan than any other month throughout the year.
Just look at our mosques. Mosques make extravagant arrangements to feed their congregation and the amount of food that is wasted in these gatherings is unbelievable. More food goes into the garbage than into the bellies, even though our appetites are ravenous. And no one seems to care about the environment. There’s no concept of composting wasted food (which may make up for the wastage somewhat) or even recycling water bottles.
In the month when a person is supposed to avoid “arguments” by saying “I’m fasting,” as Muslims we have the greatest number of disputes and arguments during this month. Whenever you think of Ramadan approaching, the fisrt thing that comes to mind is, oh man moon sighting arguments again. Discord within the community. The community splits into factions according to which day you started fasting, which mosque you attend, and how many taraweeh you pray.
The month that should be full of reflection and solitude has lost it’s spirituality. Ramadan is a festive time for Muslims around the world, but is that the purpose of Ramadan? Or was Ramadan meant to be a month of reflection and solitude. A month where we should focus on spending some quality alone time between us and our Lord. Instead, we’re partying every night, we eat so much we’re too full and sleepy to stand in prayer. And we sleep all day because we ate the wrong foods and don’t have enough nutrition and energy to do anything else.
If this is what Ramadan is going to be, then how can we say Ramadan is our spiritual boot camp of the year. How can we say that Ramadan helps us attain taqwa, helps us to detox both physically and spiritually and helps us come closer to Allah. Unless and until we truly live Ramadan according to it’s intended purpose, all of that is just a delusion and a lie we tell ourselves.
So, what’s the solution? How do we rectify this situation? How do we bring back the real Ramadan?
Ramadan is supposed to be about purging ourselves from the attachment to our base desires. It’s about controlling those desires and not letting them control us. It’s about conquering our hunger. We fast from dawn to dusk in order to overcome our physical needs and desires and learn self control and self restraint. When we let our hunger drive us to an over obsession with food, we are doing the exact opposite and being controlled rather than practicing self control.
This Ramadan, let’s focus on eating better, not more. Let’s focus on allowing our bodies to attain the physical benefits of fasting by eating simpler and eating healthier more nutritious foods. Instead of cooking all those fried, indulgent foods, let’s try and substitute with more fruits and vegetables. Foods that will nourish and hydrate our bodies, give us the energy we need to worship Allah properly as well as to physically detoxify our systems and give them a break.
Also, let’s focus on allowing our bodies to attain the spiritual benefits of fasting by letting our hunger make us grateful for the provisions that we have. And by spending more time worshipping Allah than on cooking and preparing daily feasts.
This Ramadan, let’s save more and spend less. Or better yet, spend in charity instead of being extravagant with yourself. Spend on the less fortunate.
Whatever iftaar we do attend, let’s help out by recycling and composting appropriately. And encourage those around us to do so as well. Let’s be responsible citizens of the Earth that Allah has blessed us with.
This Ramadan, let’s remember that a difference in opinion can be a beautiful thing. Just like Allah has made us with different cultures, physical attributes and languages, He also allowed us to have differences of opinions in certain matters. Let’s embrace these differences rather than being hostile to one another because of them. If we’re fasting on different days than others in our community, or celebrating Eid on different days, let’s celebrate with them as well. Ramadan is a time for us to come together and unite under the banner of Islam. It’s a time for this ummah to grow stronger as a community, but this requires effort from each and every one of us. This Ramadan, let’s reach out to those who hold different opinions from us and rather than arguing, come together and celebrate.
This Ramadan, let’s try to focus some of our time on reflection, contemplation and private worship. There is nothing wrong with coming together with family and friends to break fast and celebrate, but in doing so, we should not neglect building and strengthening our bond and relationship with Allah. Let’s remember that the time before breaking our fast, is a time of accepted dua, so instead of allotting that time for socialization or food prep, let’s allot that time for private discussion with Allah. Let’s prepare our food early and remind our family and friends of this special time as well.
Ramadan is a month that passes by faster than any other month. And at the end of it we are left sad and regretful. Sad at its departure and regretful of the time that we wasted and didn’t take full advantage of. But it doesn’t have to be this way, sure the sadness will always be there, but we can change the way we feel about Ramadan by changing the way we live Ramadan. We can make the most of Ramadan by living it with its intended purpose and values. And that’s when we will feel fulfilled, nourished and bettered by our Ramadan experience.
About a year ago I got into an accident. This one incident had a great impact on me and so I wanted to share my experiences and reflections. Here’s what I wrote about it at that time.
Last Saturday (April 26th, 2014) I was involved in a terrible car crash. It was the kind of car crash that you see in the movies or on the news and don’t think would happen to you. It has been one of the most intense experiences of my life and I wanted to share it and my feelings and reflections on it in the hope that this will help others in their journey toward Allah on this earth.
I was driving down Springvale road, coming back from the Glen Waverley shopping centre, with my father, 2 year old son and my grandmother. It had been raining a little. My mind was on the fact that I needed to finish my laundry, clean the fridge, do all these household chores…
Then I saw the bus in front of me had stopped. I braked, but we didn’t stop. I pushed the brakes harder, I could hear my father shouting my name, but the car kept going (I later found out we had skidded on the wet road). I remember seeing the back of the bus in front of me, screaming because there was nothing I could do and then that awful crashing sound as my car made impact with the bus.
Alhamdulillah the airbags went off immediately, my son Ibraheem started screaming and I remember thinking in my dazed state “Alhamdulillah… I’m alive!”. Not so much because I love life but because I don’t think I’ve done enough to meet my Lord in the best way yet.
I saw my grandmother had fallen and blood was gushing out of her face. She was stuck at the back between my seat and hers. Oh the guilt and panic when I saw her there and realised she had not been wearing her seatbelt. She is 80 and has osteoporosis. I called 000 and then got out of the car. I took Ibraheem, who was still screaming, from Daddy who had taken him out of his car seat and tried to calm him down. I was just standing there with Ibraheem looking at the crash, at how the front of my car was a smashed, crumpled mess and for some reason Surah Asr came to my mind:
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ
“By the time. Verily mankind is in LOSS. Except those who BELIEVE, and DO righteous good deeds and recommend one another to the TRUTH and recommend one another to PATIENCE.” [Surah Asr]
I started shaking and the tears came streaming down my cheeks, probably from shock but also with the realisation that Allah (swt) had given me another chance! Another opportunity to make better use of the precious resource of time, that we take so much for granted before my inevitable meeting with Him. Another chance at trying not be one of the ‘losers’ mentioned in Surah Asr, to be one of those who really truly BELIEVE, who do good purely for His Sake, and help others too by recommending truth and patience.
I thank Allah for making the verses of the Quran come alive in my heart at that difficult moment (May Allah (swt) bless the many Quran teachers I have had through out my life) and I want to keep that feeling of urgency with me that I felt at the crash site. The feeling of I MUST keep striving to do what I can to please Allah (swt) and stay away from what He is displeased with because I do not know when I will die…
Alhamdulillah as I write this my grandmother is recovering from surgery and the rest of us who were in the car crash are all physically ok. For me, I’m sure the mental scars will remain a little longer though I will fight that and Inshallah not let it overpower me. This whole incident was a powerful reminder for me of how suddenly our lives can end. For most of us (myself included) we get so caught up in our day-to-day lives working hard for success in this life, that we often forget to work for our Ultimate Success in the next life. Every single one of us has things we would like to improve about ourselves, how we worship Allah (swt) and how we live. I make dua that Allah (swt) helps us all to make those changes in ourselves and that He helps us make the best use of the time we have, before we are called back to Him. Ameen.
Imagine: you hear the adhaan for dhuhr, you get up, make wudu, lay down your prayer mat and begin. “Allahu Akbar.” You have begun a conversation with your Lord, your Creator. You recite Fatihah asking for guidance. You go down in ruku and glorify your Lord, the Mighty and Powerful. You proceed to the ground to make sajdah. With your head on the ground, glorifying your Master, you are in the closest position to Him.
The prophet (saw) said,
أَقْرَبُ مَا يَكُونُ الْعَبْدُ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ
“The closest that a servant is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.” (Muslim)
In that moment, you are fully immmersed in your conversation with Allah. You glorify Him and praise Him and seek His forgiveness and seek refuge in Him…
But.. while you are in this state, someone walks in. Your spouse or your mother, a sibling or a friend, perhaps a colleague or even just a stranger. Someone walks in and sees you in this state. Your attention is immediately diverted: you start to think, “Is my back straight and my posture correct? Let me fix my posture so this person doesn’t think I’m making sajdah all wrong.”, “If I get up now this person will think my sajdah was so short, I should prolong it.”
Right then, in that moment, you’ve committed shirk (minor shirk: riyaa). You’ve committed shirk while being the closest you could possibly be to Your Lord.
What a sad situation that is. You put so much effort in to this act of worship, and in a split second and tweek of intention, you ruined it.
This is something that has happened to a lot of us – or at least the thought has crossed our mind even if we didn’t act upon it. This is a trap which shaytaan sets for us and he is quite skilled at it. But, don’t worry, all hope is not lost. You can still redeem yourself. If this happens to you.
1. Rectify your intention: adjust your intention and purify it for the sake of Allah.
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Say, Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [6:162]
2. Still prolong your sajdah and correct your posture, but with the intention of doing so for the sake of Allah. This way you destroy shaytaan’s plot in two ways: you have already saved yourself from minor shirk by rectifying your intention, but now you prolong and perfect your sincere worship and he is unhappy with this as well.
إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ فَاتَّخِذُوهُ عَدُوًّا
“Indeed, Saytan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy.” [35:6]
3. Seek forgiveness from Allah: اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أُشْرِكَ بِكَ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ ، وَأَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِمَا لَا أَعْلَمُ
“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.”
قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [39:53]
If you have any other tips, please write them in the comments section.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us sincerity and accept from us, ameen.
Day 4: Wednesday, 1/10/14, 7th Dhul-Hijjah 1435; 6:47 am
It hasn’t been that long but I’ve been missing home. However, I decided that these two weeks are between me and Allah (swt). Renewing my connection with Him is something I need greatly and this is the perfect opportunity to cut off from the world and focus on that, SubhanAllah.
We were so tired and the bed was so comfortable that we were late for Fajr. Here, being late means half an hour before adhan because the place fills up so quickly MashaAllah! So we were at the perimeters of the masjid courtyard, wondering if we could squeeze ourselves in once the salah started because people take less space standing in salah than they do sitting and saving space! It was a bit awkward just standing around and waiting, when a nice man made space for us. It was so lovely to feel that caring spirit, Alhamdulillah!
فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّـهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُاللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“…Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” [5:54]
We wanted to head inside to wait for ishraq but due to the crowd of people moving out, we decided to sit in the courtyard and enjoy the beautiful sunrise.
There are so many things I want to take pictures of sometimes, but I’m glad I don’t have any picture-taking device – the temptation would be too great. I just might be one of those people who take selfies at the Ka’abah, the horror! It saddens me to see that, which makes me thank Allah more that we brought really basic phones on this trip..! It feels good to take in everything with my eyes and store it in my memory, with only words to relate it to others – just like the good old days.
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۖ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
Say, “It is He who has produced you and made for you hearing and vision and hearts; little are you grateful.” [67:23]
We were not destined to pray ishraq at the Haram though because just as we were enjoying the weather, commotion ensued. It was the cleaners, having fun throwing soapy water and watching people scramble to get out of the way. Watching them have fun doing their job was contagious, and even though we were chased back to the hotel to pray, it was all part of the experience!