Gang wars, stabbing, shooting, drug dealing, pimping, mugging, rape, every fraud you can think of, abusive language, fornication.....the list is endless.
Why is it that an increasing number of young Muslims are involved in every crime and dodgy behaviour imaginable?
Today nicking a car tape, selling weed, credit card fraud etc. is as common as eating fish and chips!
The sixty million dollar question is that why are Muslims involved in these shady acts? Well, you could say its the way we’ve been brought up, lack of identity, lack of facilities, the mosques are not offering us anything, our parents are uneducated... the list of reasons (or excuses) is larger than Nawaz Sharif’s bank account!
Maybe the above are some of the reasons why... but don’t you think its a lot deeper than that? The social workers, MP’s, parents and the mosques have their own reasons, explanations and theories.
Have you ever thought its because we’ve forgotten all about death, the punishment in the grave, being accountable for our actions and basically why we were created? You see we have lost the fear of God (Taqwa) in our hearts. Taqwa is such a powerful tool that if one acquires it then they will never be involved in crime or meaningless actions for a million, billion, trillion years…(a long time if you know what I mean.)
So what is Taqwa all about then and how can one become God-fearing (muttaqee)?
What is Taqwa?
This is a question once asked by Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) of Ubbay ibn Ka’ab (ra). He replied: ‘...have you ever walked on a path full of thorns?’ Umar (ra) replied: ‘yes I have’. Ubbay (ra) asked again ‘what would you do when you are walking on such a path?’ Umar (ra) answered: I will walk carefully to avoid the thorns.’ Ubbay (ra) then said: ‘That is Taqwa.’ Just as a person walks carefully on a path of thorns to avoid being pricked, Taqwa causes a person to have a conscience and be careful in their daily life. To always think and question will my actions please Allah (swt) and are they within the shariah or will they be pleasing shaitaan? Taqwa means ‘god consciousness’ – to remember Allah (swt) is watching everything we do. That we will be questioned on the day of judgement by Him and be accountable for every second of our lives. If one attains this high state of mind then that person is said to have Taqwa.
Stages of Taqwa
There are many stages of Taqwa, which means that for every group of people there is a different stage of Taqwa to achieve.
- For non-Muslims it means to embrace Islam.
- For a Muslim it means to abstain from Haram and to practise fara’iz (obligatory commands).
- A further stage is also to avoid makroohaat (disliked actions) and to practise all kinds of Sunnah.
- The next stage of Taqwa is to purify the heart from all kinds of evil things and to decorate it with good qualities such as to only fear Allah (swt) and to love Allah (swt) and His Prophet(saw).
Different forms of Taqwa.
You’re probably thinking ‘it all sound OK but how can I actually put this in to action, mate’. You see, every organ of the body has a special form of Taqwa. The more organs of the body are steadfast on the requirements of Ta q w a , the higher stage one achieves. It does not become complete until all parts of the body stick to the commands of Shariah. So check this out:
TONGUE: always have something good to say and try to abstain from backbiting, lying and the famous swear words. Words such as ‘al-hamdulillah, ma-sha-allah, jaza-kallah’ etc. should be spoken on a regular b a s i s . Reading the Quran and other books of Islam regularly will help you in achieving Taqwa.
EARS: Not to listen to dodgy music i.e. Tupac and his sixty billion ‘F’ words should be chucked in the bin for starters. Get your Talawat and nasheed tapes out and see the difference.
EYES: Not to lustfully gaze at the opposite sex when you’re out and about, stay away from ‘adult’ movies and magazines... if you know what I mean. Once you’ve mastered this you’re half way there.
STOMACH: Abstain from haram food and drink i.e. No booze, Big Mac, gelatine, animal fat etc.
HANDS: Not to harm anyone unjustly – in other words don’t get involved in pointless gang wars, punch ups etc. A Muslim man should not touch a nonmahram woman ... so the message is to keep your hands to yourselves lads. It’s all about self-control.
FEET: not to go to places of sin – pubbing and clubbing come to mind.
HEART: Love and hate only for the sake of Allah and you will never go wrong.
PRIVATE PARTS: To abstain from adultery, fornication and other forms of sex that is unlawful.
“A bit heavy isn’t it? Who d’you think I am- the Virgin Mary or something.” may be your reaction.
Well you have to understand that to achieve the above is to achieve perfection so it will take time, effort, commitment and struggle.
The only way to achieve real Taqwa is the way by which the Sahabah, the Tabi’een and our predecessors achieved this objective and that is through the company and guidance of a pious and spiritual guide/teacher.
The Sahabah (companions of the Prophet) achieved it from the Prophet (saw), the Tabi’een (generation that followed the Sahaba) achieved it from the Sahabah, the great Imaams and other predecessors reached this objective from the Tabi’een. (What?*! Read these lines a couple times then you’ll get it).
None of our predecessors achieved it merely through self - study. So if you want nearness of Allah and His Messenger find a guide for yourself in whose company you can achieve piety.
Now for many of us this is what we would like to do but feel it is a big step to take at this moment in time. So what can we do in this month of Ramadan in order to improve ourselves and try to achieve Taqwa? Fasting can help one to achieve this state of mind. How? Imagine it is a boiling hot afternoon, you are extremely thirsty and absolutely starving.
No one is watching you, there is a bottle of coke and a big chunky chicken leg on the table – not only do you refuse to lift your hands towards it but also you dare not raise your eyes at them.
Isn’t the reason simply because it is Allah’s command? Now that you can avoid the temporary unlawful things, do you not think that you will be able to avoid all those things that Allah has forbidden permanently?
The purpose of this months long exercise is that by the end of Ramadan you will be in a position to avoid sins in the other eleven months. Here is a well-tested program that you can follow this month and insha-allah it will definitely help you in achieving Taqwa:
DAYS 1-5 OF RAMADAN
As the month begins change your daily routines such that you can pray five times a day, ideally with jam’aah in the mosque. Some of the changes to your daily routine would be to watch as little TV as possible and if you have the courage to do so- put a white cloth over it for the whole month.
You must listen to the glorious Qur’an in Tarawih, recite Ya Hayoo Ya Qayoom (Oh the alive and the eternal one) whenever possible and try to read the whole Quran at least once during the month. Remember to reduce your food intake at sehri and iftari (stuffing yourself silly defeats the whole object).
From day one pray nafl (voluntary) prayers like Ishraq after fajar and Awabeen after Maghrib.(Read what!*…see reference at the end.)
The effect of abstinence (I know, it’s a big word for The Revival) from pleasure and food begins to show effect. You are more attentive and alert in your prayer, and moved by the verses of the Qur’an as you listen to them. You are already feeling much better, lighter physically and mentally.
You sleep less perhaps 7.5 hours a day; (so don’t wake up a couple of hours before Iftari!) the aim is to reduce this further as the month progresses. The time saved is spent in recitation and devotion...and not sat in front of the telly or having a kick about in the park.
For the last ten days you have voluntarily reduced your desires for food, drink, pleasures and sleep...(well, your dad’s size 12 sandals were a bit of a motivation weren’t they?)
The frequent recitation and constant devotion help to control the senses and the physical needs. Giving up all these solely for the pleasure of the Lord brings the soul closer to its Creator.
Your heart by now is soft and your mind calm and generous. So get up early for sehri (about 30 minutes) and pray tahajjud.
The Prophet said: ‘Pray tahajjud like the righteous devotees of the past, as it brings you closer to Allah and blots your sins and stops you from evil.’ (Tirmizi)
The second part of Ramadan is for seeking forgiveness. Istigfaar should be uttered continuously during these ten days.
By now you should be able to reduce your sleep time to seven hours. With less food and more spiritual acts you can concentrate more on recitation and devotion.
Reduce social meetings, this is the time to be with your Lord, there is plenty of time all year round to be with your friends. Your prayer routine will consist of five daily prayers as well as Ishraq after fajr, Awabeen after Maghrib and Tahajjud at night.
Only ten days left now, guard them and value every sweet moment. You might have been lucky enough to take 10 days off work and stay in the mosque to do it’ikaf. This spiritual retreat is a must for serious devotees.
The sleeping period has been reduced to six and half-hours per night, leaving more time for worship and study. In just a few days this blessed month will be leaving you, and you do not know if you will ever get this opportunity again so make the most of every moment.
The great Night of Power has arrived. ‘A night that is better than a thousand months.’ Keep a night vigil throughout this night, you will experience the nearness of Allah, the beauty of the Quran and feel around you the presence of the angels as they descend to embrace you - even Jibraeel will be there.
So what do you think? Try to follow the above program as much as you can and believe me it will help you become pious and a better person. It will help you create brotherhood, spend your time wisely and become an example for other Muslims.
You will not loaf around in the streets getting up to no good, being involved with drugs, frauds and other crimes, foul language, having an attitude problem, being obsessed with sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll will all be a thing of the past.
If you take this month seriously it will change your life forever but on the other hand if you get up to the same old things during this month then don’t expect to become pious at the end of it.
Ishraq after Fajr: Stay in the mosque after praying Fajr and wait until sunrise. Then 20 minutes after sunrise pray 2 or 4 rakats. You can also do this at home by remaining on the massala.
Awabeen after Maghrib: ‘Whoever prays six rakats after Maghrib and does not talk in between them get the reward of 12 years of worship and his sins are forgiven even if they are many like the froth on the surface of the ocean.’ (Tirmizi)