Monday, November 13, 2006

One Upmanship

It’s the Monday before I get married and I’ve been meaning to write up something on my experiences with all the weddings I’ve had through summer and before. Now seems like a good time to do it because I’ve got an insider perspective to add to it as well.

One of the root evils, in my humble opinion, connected to the subject of weddings is ‘One upmanship.’ By one upmanship, I mean one person or party trying to upstage and outdo another party. Let me delve into some examples of what I mean by the term one upmanship.

The first example of one upmanship I witnessed was the mentality that ‘my wedding has to outdo the previous one,’ and so the location, size, length of time, food etc. has to be bigger, better and more expensive. So the next wedding might have a more expensive location, more guests invited and (by introduction of unnecessary events) last up to a week and beyond. By some mysterious (probably satanic) force the false belief has firmly embedded into the minds of Muslims that bigger and more expensive means a superior wedding to all weddings that have come to pass to date. How sad this frame of mind of ours is, for we have focused to please all but the Almighty Allah when it comes to these matters.

The second case is where the Walimah has to upstage the meal and events organised by the brides party. (In some cultures the brides party organise a meal and events immediately after the nikah has been conducted, whilst the grooms party organise and host the Walimah.) So if the brides party had four dishes for guests, then the grooms party have five plus dessert, the cutlery/ crockery used has to be more 'up market' and the level of service has to be impeccable.

The third case of one upmanship is where the number and type of cars hired/ used for the wedding have to competed against the other wedding party or against past weddings. Once a wedding I attended had 5 flashy hired cars! One should seriously look into the need and motives for such extravagance on the means of transport used to drive the groom/ bride and their family a 'few miles up the road.'

A final example, more common (but not exclusive) to females is competing in the clothes and dress worn, not by just the bride but all those attending the wedding aswell. And if, god forbid, two women perchance end up with the same dress, either on the same day or sometime later then the bogus belief that they have ‘lost face’ and reputation amongst people takes root in their heart. Even worse are those who recognise such instances and then embark on a verbal campaign of humiliating one of the two women.

In all fairness though, it (one upmanship) is not always the sole work of the bride/ groom or even their immediate family, but it may come about through application of pressure from other family members and others. Of course criticism thrashed out by ‘loose tongues’ at these events and opporunities before the wedding only add to the woe.

I’m sure you yourselves can think of many more examples of one upmanship but I feel the above will suffice to illustrate my point. What we need to do is realise that through the evil of one upmanship we also become guilty of the sin of pride (takabbur), because after all the aim of one upmanship is to consider yourself superior to others, through the wedding of either yourself, offspring or your family.

There are also many other points (eg Ghibah, freemixing) which can be addressed on the subject of weddings, but Alhumdulillah there is no shortage of literature and talks given by our Ulama and so I ask you refer to them rather than me discussing them here.

May Allah swt save us from this evil. I ask that you all pray for me, my wife to be and family, that Allah swt saves us from the above and that he puts great blessings and love in our marriage and between our families.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Episodes of Rahmat

The similitude of these episodes is like the rain. Not only these episodes, but even Nusoos (Quranic verses and Ahadith) bear the same similitude. Rain in itself is highly beneficial and life-giving. However, its effect on different substrata varies. If the ground is fertile, the beneficial effect is manifested in the luxurious growth. If the ground is arid and barren, then the more the rainfall, the more thorn-trees, brambles and shrubbery.

Shaikh Sadi (rahmatullah alayhi) says:
'There is no doubt in the beneficial effect of rain.
If it rains in a garden, tulips grow;
if it rains in arid ground, thorns and brambles glow.'

Similar is the effect of episodes of Rahmat on different persons. People of different dispositions are affected differently by these stories of mercy.

Those of a sick disposition and unhealthy temperament interpret these incidents of mercy in a grossly distorted manner. They say if Allah Taala forgives on the basis of such trivial acts, then there is no real need for righteous deeds.

On the other hand, those of a healthy disposition and who are straight-thinking, upon hearing such incidents of Rahmat increase their acts of obedience. In fact, at times, if forgiveness is obtained without punishment, those whose hearts are imbued with Divine Recognition are smitten with shame far greater than the shame which they would have suffered if they had received some punishment. Only those who have suffered this state know its reality.

Excerpt from Zikr-e-Ilahi by Hazrat Maseehullah Khan (rahmatullahi alayhi

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Purification through Salaah

Hazrat Esa (alaihis salaam) once passed by a river. There he saw a beautiful and elegant looking bird lying in a puddle of mud and dirt. The bird's entire body was covered with filth. He then noticed this bird come out of the mud and then dive into the river until it was clean and beautiful again. Thereafter, the bird once again flew into the dirt and mud and became covered with filth. Once more, the bird left the mud and flew into the river again until it was clean and beautiful again. This astonishing act was repeated five times. Hazrat Esa (alaihis salaam) began to wonder as to the reason for this strange sequence of events.

Sayyiduna Jibraeel-e-Amin (alaihis salaam) descended and told him: "This bird is equal to a human from the Ummah of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). Each time he sins he becomes unclean, and when he performs his Salaah, then Almighty Allah purifies him just like the mud and dirt that was cleansed from the bird".

The value of Salaah is also mentioned in the Qur'an:
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
"Indeed Salaah stops one from indecency and sins"

The Qur'an mentions Salaah as being an act of worship that can stop one from commiting acts of sin. However, it should be noted that this is a Salaah, a prayer, that is performed with all it's qualities; concentration, contentment, applying all the rules related to Salaah and determination is only part of the ingredients to an accepted Salaah. But in order to do that it is important that we seek the knowledge regarding Salaah.

The above post was taken from Simply Islam blog run by Maulana Zain. Masha'Allah he has a vast amount of information on the blog from which I am sure everyone will be able to derive some benefit. Please do visit it and link it up your blog or website, Jazakallah.

Related posts:
Missed Calls from Allah
Steadfastness in Salaat
Sutra in Salah
Fajr Salah