"How blessed an I to be able to see another Ramadan; how blessed an I to be able to spend it at ICOI, where I get to be apart of a Halaqa, listen to khatirahs by Shaykh Jamaal, and pray behind Shaykh Ibrahim and Shaykh Mohammad." - ICOI Community Member
It is true that we all make mistakes and we all turn to God to ask for His forgiveness. However, some mistakes affect the lives of other people in heavy ways and so one of the conditions for repentance is to make amends with those that have been wronged.
This, however, is sometimes very tricky.
Anyone who has made mistakes knows that often times those mistakes haunt us. We think about them when nobody else is around, they plague us at times and we forget them at others. We ask Allah’s forgiveness and move on but sometimes the scars remain.
This is life though, the scars always remain. All we can do is try to treat them in the best way possible.
There are two major lessons here:
1) Our lives and interactions with people are very serious and often delicate things. Many people are hurt, many people are vulnerable, and that means our actions can have serious consequences. We should live our lives knowing and acknowledging this important truth. It is difficult, but it is real.
2) The nature of our existence is that we will make mistakes and we will scar others. We have to learn to not allow that to paralyze us while at the same time not making light of it. Sometimes there is not much we can do to mend without making things worse. In such cases the best we can do is to try to ask for Allah’s forgiveness and do as much good as we can, hoping that with time wounds will heal. In this we learn not only to ask for Allah’s forgiveness but also to forgive ourselves.
This Ramadan at ICOI we will be journeying and growing through a detailed discussion of 5 Quranic Pillars for Meaningful Faith. These pillars will be the topics for the nightly reflections, each night highlighting a new verse and a new step in growing closer to God.
The Friday night post tarawih reflections will also revolve around the pillars. Each day will be a new step in the journey as we all take this month as an opportunity to grow together.
O our Lord, allow us to reach Ramadan and benefit from it!
In the 18th chapter of the Quran God tells the story of two men, one of whom was given great wealth. (Click here for the story).
In this story one man has been granted abundant wealth and the other is not as well off. The main lesson for us here at this time is in verse 35. In this verse the man has just told his friend about how he has more than him and is described as entering his garden “while he was unjust to himself.” The sentence structure here is called (haal), literally: his internal spiritual state at the time of entering the garden was such that he was oppressing himself.
The question here is: what was his internal spiritual state?
He looked at his friend and he looked at himself and he was proud of himself and arrogant over what he had “accomplished” and how much wealth he had.
When we act in the earth with arrogance we will oppress others, but we are actually the first victims of the oppression in that we oppress ourselves. We betray the truth of our dependent relationship with Allah and bring ruin and misery to ourselves in this life and the next.
Signs of the Scholar of the Hereafter
By Imam al-Ghazzali & Translated by Shaykh Nuh Ha Meem Keller in “Sea Without Shore”
“ He does not seek this world by his religious learning, for at [the] very least a scholar is someone aware of this world’s wretchedness, triviality, sordidness, and ephemerality; and the next world’s magnificence, permanence, blessings, and vastness – and that the two are opposites.
 His deeds do not belie his words, and he does not tell anyone to do something without himself being the first to do it.
 He is devoted to knowledge beneficial in the next world, that which increases desire for acts of worship, and he shuns branches of religious learning that are of little benefit, or mainly debate and gossip.
 He is disinclined to luxury in food and drink, enjoyment of clothes, and embellishment of furnishings and housing, preferring less therein, emulating the early Muslims (Allah have mercy on them), and inclining towards the minimum in everything.
 He keeps as far from rulers as possible, never going to visit them as long as there is any way to evade them.
 He is reluctant to give formal legal opinion (fatwa), refrains from verdicts about matters unclear, and avoids giving opinions whenever he can.
 His main concern is knowledge of the inward and keeping watch over his heart, knowing the path of the next world and traveling it, knowing the path of the next world and traveling it, sincerely hoping to be shown it by combating his ego (mujahada) and spiritual vigilance over himself (muraqaba), since subduing the ego leads to beholding the Divine (mushahada).
 He perpetually strives to deepen his inward certitude (yaqin), which is one’s capital in religion.
 He is somber, subdued, bowed of head, and spare of words, the awe of the Divine being plain in his manner and dress, movements and rest, speech and silence. No one sees him without being reminded of Allah Most High, his mien bespeaking his works.
 He mainly seeks knowledge of spiritual works and what vitiates them, what disturbs the heart, what raises baseless misgivings (waswasa), and what provokes evil, for preventing evil is the basis of religion.
 He relies in his branches of learning upon genuine insight and what he knows from the bottom of his heart, not merely upon what he finds by reading treatises and books, or blindly repeating what he has heard another say. For the only one unconditionally followed is he who brought us the Sacred Law (Allah bless him and give him peace), in what he commanded and stated. The prophetic Companions are but followed because their deeds indicate what they heard from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).
 He shuns spurious matters in religion newly begun [such as, for Ghazali, purely speculative scholastic theology], even if a scholarly majority adopt them, being undeceived by what was inaugurated after the Companions (Allah be well pleased with them); but rather dedicating himself to learning how they were, and what they did in their lives.”
(Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din , 1, 53-70])
I see the beauty of Islam in the little things.
One for today was the genuine care and hospitality that hosts show for their guests when they open their homes to share a meal with them.
Where do you see the beauty of Islam?