بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Especially Merciful.
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.
Before starting with this book, I expected it to be very similar to ‘Reclaim Your Heart’ by Sr Yasmin Mogahed with some academic touch to it. You could say they are quite similar, in the sense that the main element of both books tackle the issue of us, as individuals, changing ourselves first and foremost instead of always expecting other people to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. However, they are also quite different, but that’s now what I wish to talk about right now.
They say when you love someone or something, you start to be influenced by them. Your speech, actions, your mindset even changes. We see this in the way that Ustadh Nou’man gives naseeha (advice) based on the profound lessons he learns whilst studying the Book of Allah.
He begins by dealing with issues of the heart. He delves into the first issue we all need to reflect on an change: asking Allah for help. With insights into the life of Musa alayhissalam and other examples from the Qur’an and Seerah, Ustadh takes us through a journey of how we can make our du’as meaningful and life changing. After reflecting on it, I really appreciated the next chapter of the book. In going through how we can build a strong Muslim community, Ustadh goes back to the matters of the heart. Personal aspects. What are these? Taking criticisms, making assumptions, and also the responsibility of being leaders. Without a sound, focused heart and mind, we cannot build that community that we are all aspiring for. Many examples and stories are given in encouraging us to take heed from generations of the past and apply them into our lives. Ustadh makes you have a different outlook on everything, to be more positive and optimistic for others and towards others, to have taqwa of Allah in doing so, so that we don’t become from amongst those who cause more divisions because of a few differences.
The next step: our financial dealings. Usually when we listen to the seerah or read it, we don’t usually think about the significance of the order of events that occurred. SubhanAllah, the first thing that the Muslims were taking care of as soon as they settled in Madinah was their financial investments, and doing so without being unfair or unjust. Allah commands the believers to be honest and open with one another and to show clarity when trading. Ustadh highlights different scenarios and tells us that if we aren’t fair in our finances, the way we buy, sell and manage, then there will be more corruption in other aspects of our lives and other peoples’ lives as a result of it.
In speaking about contemporary issues, Ustadh Nou’man discusses issues based on the current social climate. They are: discrimination against daughters, Islamophobia and our roles and responsibilities as Muslims, and music. After addressing these topics, he talks about the main topic of the book: Putting life in perspective.
Throughout the Qur’an, Allah reminds us that this dunya is nothing, absolutely nothing in comparison to what Allah has in store for us in the akhirah. So why should we, especially as believers in the akhirah, put any value to the dunya when it will end anyway? From my understanding, the main message being portrayed here is found in Surah Al-Asr, that when it comes to the concept of time, mankind suffers a loss unless we are accumulating good deeds. A believer no longer has ‘free time’, because every minute, every second should be used to invest for the akhirah that we are moving towards. The fact that we believe in returning to Allah should make us realise that none of our actions are meaningless. They will all come to show in our book of deeds – things we remember saying and doing, and things we have forgotten too. Nothing will escape us on that day and Allah will hold us to account for every single thing. So, after knowing all this, do we really want to hold grudges against one another and not move on? When we compare all that we go through in this world to what will come in the hereafter, it literally weighs nothing in our minds, and that’s how it should be.
In his final naseeha, he talks about the life in this world being so short. There are people who have been spending thousands of years in the graves, so what is the time that we have in this world compared to the time we will have 6 feet under the ground, compared to the eternal hereafter?
I highly recommend that you have a read of the book. I couldn’t possibly summarise over 200 pages of Ustadh’s hard work, nor can I ever do justice to it. I promise you, you will develop a greater appreciation for the Qur’an, as all he refers to are the words of Allah! There’s so much to learn, and I pray that we benefit and implement even one thing to make our lives in this world and the hereafter a success, not regret.
May you be accompanied by safety/peace.