Our dear Nabra, why do bad things happen to good people?

#Nabra

“Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

In the face of tragedy, it is this question that burns in many a heart. The youth are especially vulnerable, and find that it is all too easy for their faith to crack under the strain of the world’s heartaches.

You see, that same God gave us a precious gift of free will. It’s the same free will that led Nabra to choose to be a giver, a helper, one who fed her friends and spent her nights praying to her lord. And it’s the same free that her murderer used to make the choice to take her precious life.

These tragedies are consequences of our free will.

The angels understood this, for when they heard from Allah that He would create generations of humans on earth, they immediately questioned why He would create beings that would sow seeds of corruption and shed innocent blood. So it has been a given that we would misuse this free will.

But what did Allah say?

He said, “I know that which you do not know.”

You see, He knew that for every human that used their free will to cheat, steal, maim, and kill, there would be many more humans of beauty and faith. There would be humans like Nabra, who would use their free will to fast by day, feed her friends, and pray by night.

Without that opportunity for us to actively choose to do good, our free will would be a farce.

But Allah doesn’t just leave us here on this earth to fight it out, kill and be killed, suffer and toil, and have that be an end of it.

He’s “maaliki yawmid-deen.” The Master of the Day of Judgment. The word “deen” means that it is a day of recompense. A day where justice is served. A day where the evil ones will get only the amount of punishment that is justly due to them, not an ounce more, but where the good ones will get a reward that is infinitely beyond their deserving.

Not only does he amply recompense and care for those victims like Nabra, but his mercy is so gloriously vast that every second of pain her loved ones feel will also be recompensed. Every tear of her mother. Every ache of her father. Every fear, sorrow, and hardship of her friends and community will all be recompensed on that Day.

His Mercy is so vast. We are grieving, we are weeping as we reap the consequences of a world in which humans have been given free rein to make choices that can build or destroy.

Don’t think that He has left her, that He has left us.

وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ اللّهَ غَافِلاً عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“Do not think that Allah is unaware of what the evildoers do” (Surah Ibrahim: 42).

وَلَدَيْنَا كِتَابٌ يَنطِقُ بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

“And with us is a record that speaks the truth; and none shall be wronged.” (Surah Muminoon: 62)

Dear Nabra, may Allah give you a reward that will erase every second of your pain. May He give your family and community ease and healing. May you be now rejoicing in peace in His Gardens of bliss. Aameen, ya rabb.

Advertisements

our faith, our feelings, our hearts

When you think of eemaan (faith), think of “heart-sense.” The foundation of our emaan begins in the heart–with the speech of the heart, and the actions of the heart. The speech of the heart is it’s acknowledgement and affirmation that there is none worthy of worship but Allah. The action of the heart is the next step–it is when the heart overflows with submission, love, hope, and fear of Allah. From this starting point, when our tongue speaks or our body acts, they do so with this “heart sense” already in place.


So many times we live our lives on the surface level only. Our tongues speak, our limbs act, and yet the heart is silent and still. We do this with our friends and family, when we interact with them absent-minded and distracted. We do this with our lord, when we stand and bow like empty shells, lacking any sense of heart during our worship. We weren’t created this way. On the contrary, we were created with hearts that were pure and full of instinctive connection with Allah and with others around us. We came into this world truly feeling and embodying every moment from the depths of our heart. We quickly learn to shut down that heart-sense and create a shell of insincerity around us.

Here’s the amazing thing about kids, though: they are still pure and so their heart-sense radiates forth in everything they do. When they gaze with wonder at the heavens, their heart knows that this is the mark of their Creator. When they put their arms around you, those are not only arms holding you; it is a clasp that starts out from the depths of their hearts.

I realize this when my kids settle in for bed every night. I’m worn down and wanting to shut the light, offer a half-hearted “Love you!” and be done with it. I’m old and jaded, and my body is used to acting on auto-pilot without the heart-sense to guide it. Not for the kids.

When Abdullah hugs me, it’s with a hug so deep and an “I love you mama, sooooo much” that is so earnest it can’t be faked. And on cue, Zaynab calls out from her bed and there is always a catch in her voice, a crack. “I love you, Mama.” It’s a feeling so big she doesn’t know what to do with it, so her body shows her heart on it’s sleeve with that tremble in the voice as she speaks it.

I think about this now. How often do I ask my kids to betray their heart-sense and live inauthentically? It might be the time they are upset at something seemingly trivial and my response is to distract and deny: “Oh, come on, that’s not something to worry about; let’s do this instead.”

What if instead, I responded by going deep down to the heart-sense? “That really upset you. You are shaking. You must have been really hurt by what your friends did.”

If we abandon engaging the heart-sense with our children, it becomes harder for us to engage them in issues of faith. Over time, as we push away real feelings and anything that seems uncomfortable or awkward, our kids become jaded just like us. You see this when they start to not show the same enthusiasm that they did when they were younger, preferring instead to give a shrug and nod of the head. When you try to talk about virtues like courage and love, empathy and eeman, they are often hesitant and out of touch with these feelings. Often times, children don’t have the words to describe how they feel, because they haven’t been given ample opportunity to name and identify feelings in a non-judgmental way.

Eemaan is deeply tied in with emotion and feeling–in fact, true eemaan is rooted in a deep love for Allah, a fear of his punishment, and a hope for his reward. You can’t choose to ignore the heart-sense in some areas of life and then expect it to blossom in others. We need to encourage a heart-sense in both areas of life: in our dealings with our Lord, and in our dealings with our fellow humans.

Questions to ask ourselves would be:

“Am I focusing on outward appearances here, or on the khushoo’ (humility) of the heart?”

“Is my tongue the only thing moving, or is my heart being moved?”

“Am I comfortable talking about my inner life?” This includes eemaan, love, hope, and fear of Allah, as well as the myriad human emotions that we experience regularly.

You see, when you shut down any discussion on internal feelings with your children due to your discomfort, it becomes hard to discuss eemaan and taqwa. These things are deeply personal aspects of us that require great trust and courage to be vulnerable enough to share this inner life with others. If you are consistently brushing off, invalidating, and shutting down the conversation regarding feelings in your home, you simply can’t expect to have an open discussion regarding faith.

Fruits of Fasting

What do we gain from fasting? If you thought the answer was “taqwa,” you are correct–but there are other benefits the Qur’an mentions. This is a translation of Sh. Kehlan Abdullah Salman’s discussion of these benefits. The original Arabic can be found at the end of the post.


In the Qur’an, Allah mentions three benefits of fasting:

Taqwa (piety)  (لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)

Shukr (gratitude)  (لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ)

Rushd (guidance)  (لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ)

The First Benefit: Taqwa “So that you may attain piety.” (لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)

These are the levels of taqwa–various ways we erect a protection between ourselves and undesirable outcomes:

Level 1: Barrier against kufr (disbelief). All Muslims have this characteristic.

Level 2: Barrier against shahawaat (base desires), for these lead to fisq (disobedience) and transgression.

Level 3: Barrier against shubuhaat (doubts), for these lead to innovations.

Level 4: Barrier against permissible actions that are not necessities–this is the level of those who practice zuhd (asceticism, abstaining from unnecessary pleasure).

Level 5: Barrier against anything that distracts you from Allah, and this is the level of the saabiqoon (the “high-level believers”–those foremost in the worship of Allah)

The Second Benefit: Shukr (gratitude). “So that you may be grateful.” (وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ)

Shukr can be in word, or in deed.

Allah says, “Work, O family of David, in gratitude [towards Me].”

In the verses of siyam, Allah mentions both types of gratitude. He says, “that you may magnify Allah because He has guided you” (i.e. shukr via speech), and then, “and so that you may be grateful” (i.e. shukr via action).

One of the fruits of gratitude is that Allah increases your blessings. Allah says: (وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ) “And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed: ‘If you are grateful, I will increase you.’”

However, sometimes an increase in one’s worldly blessings can lead a person to become arrogantly disobedient. That is why a person needs rushd (guidance) as well. This leads to the next benefit of fasting:

The Third Benefit: Rushd (guidance, integrity). “That you may be guided.” لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

One of the meanings of rushd is integrity of conduct; good dealings with others. So if a person has taqwa and shukr, and makes du’a to his Lord while his heart and soul are pure, Allah will grant him rushd.

This integrity of conduct (rushd) is something that is expected of every person: leaders, teachers, officials, spouses, and others.

Through this a person will reach true happiness in this world and the Hereafter, whereas if he is thoughtless and reckless, he will ruin his life in this world, and utterly fail in the Hereafter.

And Allah knows best.

من ثمار الصيام

ذكر الله تعالى في آيات الصيام ثلاث ثمرات “لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ” و “لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ” و “لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ”.

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

من مراتب التقوى:

  1. اتقاء الكفر، وهذه مرتبة يشترك فيها كل المسلمين.
  2. اتقاء الشهوات، لأنها تؤدي إلى الفسق، والعدوان.
  3. اتقاء الشبهات لأنها تقود إلى البدع.
  4. اتقاء فضول المباحات، وهذه درجة الزهاد.
  5. اتقاء كل ما يشغلك عن الله، وهذه درجة السابقين.

وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

الشكر قد يكون بالقول، وقد يكون بالعمل، قال تعالى “اعْمَلُوا آلَ دَاوُودَ شُكْرًا”.

وقد جمع الله بين نوعي الشكر في آيات الصيام فقال “وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ” فهذا شكر بالقول، وقال “وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ” وهذا شكر بالعمل وغيره.

ومن ثمار الشكر الزيادة في الخير، قال تعالى “وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ”. وزيادة الخير قد تطغي صاحبها، فيحتاج معها إلى الرشد.

لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

والرشد من معانيه حُسن التصرف، فكأن العبد إذا اتقى، وشكر، ودعا ربه، ووافق ذلك صفاء في القلب والروح، رزقه الله الرشد.

والرشد مطلوب من الجميع، من الحاكم، والمعلم، والموظف، والزوجين وغيرهم. وفِي هذا سعادة الدنيا والآخرة، كما أن في الطيش خراب الدنيا وخسارة الآخرة.

والله أعلم