Posted by: HifzanShafiee | August 6, 2014

Making The Quran Our Culture

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Blessed Friday jemaah,

Let us show our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. in all earnestness and with our fullest convictions. Obey all of Allah’s commands and avoid what Allah has prohibited upon us by appreciating the teachings of the noble Quran.

Friday jemaah,

I am confident that every one of us here owns at least one copy of the Quran. We are often reminded that the Quran is a guidance and compass for us provided by Allah s.w.t. in surah Al-Isra’, verse 9:

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Which means: “Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward”.

This verse explains that the Quran was sent as a guide for humankind. Thus, we have to always reflect upon our relationship with the Quran. Have we recently referred to the Quran to seek guidance and help from Allah to get through our lives? Have we reflected upon the stories in the Quran and learn the lessons found in them? We do not want the Quran to simply be a decorative item in our house; or as a symbolic gift during our wedding. We also do not wish for the verses of the Quran to be read only when there is a death in the household. We need to realise that the Quran is first and foremost, aimed for those who are still alive and not for the dead. The Quran aims to guide humankind in our daily lives. Rasulullah s.a.w. once warned us in a hadith:

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Which means: Whoever keeps it (that is, the Quran) in front of him, then the Quran will lead him to paradise. And whosoever keeps it behind their backs, it will show him the way to hellfire. [Hadith narrated by Ibn Hibban]

Dear jemaah,

To ensure that we reap the benefits from the Quran, we need to make it our culture. This requires two basic steps:

The first step: Learn to recite the Quran.

Al-Quran is the Word of Allah or Kalamullah, and it becomes a form of worship or ibadah for those who recite it and enliven the teachings of the Quran. Jemaah, just by simply reciting the Quran we are promised rewards and benefits! So imagine what rewards await us if we were to appreciate it, and apply what is taught in the Quran. Allahu Akbar!

Jemaah, when was the last time we looked at the noble verses from Allah s.w.t. Is the Quran the antidote that helps to ease our anxiety and is music to our ears? With advancements in technology today, none of us can say that we do not have access to the Quran. In the past it may be difficult to carry a mushaf with us all the time, and to ensure that we are in a state of wudhu all the time, but today many of us have smartphones that have various Quran apps. We should make it a point to learn and reap the benefits from the Quran just as how our hands are hardly “free” from using our phones. We need to make the Quran a part of our lifestyle.

Spend some time with the Quran every day. If we are not fluent readers of the Quran, then we should make it an effort to listen to beautiful recitations of the Quran, which are now easily available on YouTube and various apps and websites. Start our day with the melodious recitation of Quranic verses. Apply the same to our families. For example, during this school holiday, we can come up with a Quran challenge for our kids, for them to recite the Quran everyday, at their pace and ensuring that they do not get bored. On our way to our holiday destination, ensure that Quranic recitations are part of our audio playlist while in the car. This will signal to our children that the Quran is not a boring book or one that is recited only at official events. When the Quran is part of our family life when we are on holiday and when we are relaxing, then it will become a norm for us to be close to the Quran and from there, we can develop this into an interest.

There is a hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. which means: “Whoever reads the Qur’an and acts upon what is contained in it, his parents will be made to wear a crown on the Day of Judgment. The brightness of it will excel that of the sun that lights up your worldly houses. So, what do you think (the situation is) about the person who himself acts upon it?” [Hadith narrated by Abu Daud]

Subhanallah! Just see how noble and how great an honour Allah has given to parents who work hard to educate their children to be close to and to love the Quran. The Prophet s.a.w. only gave a picture of Allah’s reward for their parents who will be treated like Allah’s guests; just imagine how great the reward will be for the child who applies the lessons from the Quran.

If we look at the reality of life, we will find that much of our time and energy is spent working. Hence, we must make time to read the Quran with our family. Do not let our family and our children stray away from the Quran because it is the source of barakah. Rasulullah s.a.w. said in a hadith that means:

“Increase the recitation of the Quran. Indeed a house that does not recite the Quran will not have much goodness, and more badness and it will be narrow and will burden the residents.” [Hadith narrated by Al-Daruqutni]

Dear jemaah,

The second step after making it a habit to recite the Quran is to realise the importance of applying the lessons from the Quran.

In the hadith that was shared earlier, the Prophet s.a.w. said: “…Anyone who reads the Quran and applies what is in it”. Hence, among the virtues of a Muslim who commits to making the Quran as his guide, is that he will strive to understand the meanings stored in the verses of the Quran. However, for us to apply the Quran well, we need to know how to understand the lessons in the Quran. We need to understand the stories in the Quran, the main themes in the Quran that are related to our daily lives and our family.

Imam Ibn Kathir, in his book of tafsir, noted a practice that was narrated by Saidina Uthman bin Affan and Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: When the Companions learnt the Quran from the Prophet s.a.w., they would only learn ten verses at a time. They would not move on to the next ten verses until they have learned, understood and applied the lessons from the verses that they are learning.

Jemaah, let us use this coming Ramadan to motivate and inspire ourselves to learn to read the Quran and to appreciate its contents. Attend classes that teach Quranic recitation and classes aimed at helping us to understand the Quran, conducted by the various mosques throughout the year.

Ensure that our children receive a complete Quran education. May Allah s.w.t. bless our efforts and make the Quran our adornment and that of our family’s, and at the same time a source for us to gain His pleasure and barakah in this world and the hereafter. Amin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon,  20 June 2014 / 22 Syaaban 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | August 5, 2014

Ways To Perfect Our Fasting

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Blessed Friday Jemaah,

In this month full of barakah, let us work together toward increasing our takwa to Allah s.w.t. by obeying His commands with steadfastness and diligence, and avoid what Allah has forbidden for us.

Dear Jemaah,

As we celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, it is only appropriate that as believers, we welcome this blessed month with sincere intentions and a sense of determination to reap the best rewards that this month has to offer.

Let it be known that the heart of a believer will be full of joy and determination to attain a purity of heart through the many opportunities laid out in this blessed month. Every test and hurdle that one faces while fasting and performing other acts of worship in this month, will be met with utmost determination.

Remember the Salafus Soleh, whenever Ramadan came they will say: "Marhaban bil Muthahhir!" which means "Welcome the Month of Cleansing!” for this is the month of cleansing from sins and mistakes. Let us reflect upon the hadith of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, which we often hear during Ramadan:

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Which means: "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

Imagine jemaah, those whose fasting throughout Ramadan is accepted by Allah, then they will be rewarded with Allah’s forgiveness for their past sins. I am sure that all of us here would want this reward because none of us are free from committing sins and mistakes. Hence, as believers (mukmin), we should strive to achieve this golden opportunity to attain Allah’s forgiveness. Allah says in surah Az-Zumar verse 52:

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Which means: Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful."

Jemaah,

For us to reap these benefits and to achieve perfection in our fasting, there are two suggestions that I will share today.

First: We need to protect our fast from actions and deeds that will harm our fasting or may reduce the rewards from our acts of worship. Rasulullah s.a.w said:

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Which means: "Whoever does not abandon falsehood and action in accordance with it and foolishness, Allah has no need that he should abandon his food and drink”. [Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari].

A companion of the Prophet s.a.w, Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Anshari r.a once advised: " If you fast, let your hearing, sight and tongue observe fasting from lying and sins. You should desist from harming your neighbour, and  be distinguished by solemnity and calmness on the day you observe fasting and do not make the day on which you break your fasting and the day you fast the same (in behaviour)”. [Hadith reported by Ibnu Abi Syaibah and Al-Baihaqi]

Hence, we should be conscious of our actions and words, including what we write on social media. Imagine, the loss of those who do not guard their manners and morals (akhlak) when they are fasting, and in the end they do not gain anything from their fasting except hunger and thirst. Remember, it is not only our speech and sense that will be held accountable in front of Allah s.w.t., but also what our fingers type.

Friday jemaah,

The second step for us to undertake is: To improve our spiritual acts in this blessed month.

Enliven Ramadan by embracing the spirit of Ramadan in all aspects of our lives, whether from an individual aspect, family and also within the community. This month is a golden opportunity for us to strive to bring ourselves closer to the mosque by strengthening our relationship with the Creator of this universe, Allah s.w.t.

Plant in our hearts the desire to khatam the Quran at least once this holy month. And this requires self-discipline and steadfastness (istiqamah), which at first may be difficult but will eventually become a habit if we practise it often.

This was exemplified by Rasulullah s.a.w. himself, he often read the Quran and held tadarus sessions (reciting the Quran with others), as reported by Ibnu Abbas r.a that the Prophet s.a.w. often did the tadarus with the angel Jibril a.s. every night during Ramadan. [Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

Blessed Jemaah,

Let us call upon our family members to be diligent in grabbing this golden opportunity and strive hard to reap as many rewards and benefits through fasting and the Quran. They are the ones most dear to us, and we definitely want the best for them, not just worldly aspects, but more so their future in the hereafter. This is also the time for us to strengthen our family ties and deepen the love we have toward our family, through fasting, reading and understanding the Quran, and other acts of worship and virtues.

By ensuring that we observe our fast with faith, reciting the Quran with sincerity, devotion and humility, we hope to be blessed with the syafa’at from both our fasting and the Quran on the Day of Judgement, as the Prophet s.a.w. said in a hadith: “Fasting and Al-Quran will bring syafaat to a servant. So says the fast: Oh my Lord, Verily I have prevented him from eating and drinking in the day, so give me leave to give syafaat to him. And thus says Al-Quran: Oh my Lord, I have kept him from sleeping in the night, so please let me give syafaat to him. And the two, Fasting and Al-Quran are allowed to give syafaat." [Hadith reported by Imam Ahmad]

May in this Ramadan, we become servants of Allah who are more diligent in trying to gain Allah’s pleasure, with a pure heart full of sincerity, free of arrogance and pride, and may we be given the opportunity to perform good deeds that will benefit the community and ourselves. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Khutbah Jumaat, 4 July 2014 / 6 Ramadan 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | August 5, 2014

Ways To Perfect Our Fasting

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Blessed Friday Jemaah,

In this month full of barakah, let us work together toward increasing our takwa to Allah s.w.t. by obeying His commands with steadfastness and diligence, and avoid what Allah has forbidden for us.

Dear Jemaah,

As we celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, it is only appropriate that as believers, we welcome this blessed month with sincere intentions and a sense of determination to reap the best rewards that this month has to offer.

Let it be known that the heart of a believer will be full of joy and determination to attain a purity of heart through the many opportunities laid out in this blessed month. Every test and hurdle that one faces while fasting and performing other acts of worship in this month, will be met with utmost determination.

Remember the Salafus Soleh, whenever Ramadan came they will say: "Marhaban bil Muthahhir!" which means "Welcome the Month of Cleansing!” for this is the month of cleansing from sins and mistakes. Let us reflect upon the hadith of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, which we often hear during Ramadan:

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Which means: "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

Imagine jemaah, those whose fasting throughout Ramadan is accepted by Allah, then they will be rewarded with Allah’s forgiveness for their past sins. I am sure that all of us here would want this reward because none of us are free from committing sins and mistakes. Hence, as believers (mukmin), we should strive to achieve this golden opportunity to attain Allah’s forgiveness. Allah says in surah Az-Zumar verse 52:

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Which means: Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful."

Jemaah,

For us to reap these benefits and to achieve perfection in our fasting, there are two suggestions that I will share today.

First: We need to protect our fast from actions and deeds that will harm our fasting or may reduce the rewards from our acts of worship. Rasulullah s.a.w said:

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Which means: "Whoever does not abandon falsehood and action in accordance with it and foolishness, Allah has no need that he should abandon his food and drink”. [Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari].

A companion of the Prophet s.a.w, Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Anshari r.a once advised: " If you fast, let your hearing, sight and tongue observe fasting from lying and sins. You should desist from harming your neighbour, and  be distinguished by solemnity and calmness on the day you observe fasting and do not make the day on which you break your fasting and the day you fast the same (in behaviour)”. [Hadith reported by Ibnu Abi Syaibah and Al-Baihaqi]

Hence, we should be conscious of our actions and words, including what we write on social media. Imagine, the loss of those who do not guard their manners and morals (akhlak) when they are fasting, and in the end they do not gain anything from their fasting except hunger and thirst. Remember, it is not only our speech and sense that will be held accountable in front of Allah s.w.t., but also what our fingers type.

Friday jemaah,

The second step for us to undertake is: To improve our spiritual acts in this blessed month.

Enliven Ramadan by embracing the spirit of Ramadan in all aspects of our lives, whether from an individual aspect, family and also within the community. This month is a golden opportunity for us to strive to bring ourselves closer to the mosque by strengthening our relationship with the Creator of this universe, Allah s.w.t.

Plant in our hearts the desire to khatam the Quran at least once this holy month. And this requires self-discipline and steadfastness (istiqamah), which at first may be difficult but will eventually become a habit if we practise it often.

This was exemplified by Rasulullah s.a.w. himself, he often read the Quran and held tadarus sessions (reciting the Quran with others), as reported by Ibnu Abbas r.a that the Prophet s.a.w. often did the tadarus with the angel Jibril a.s. every night during Ramadan. [Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

Blessed Jemaah,

Let us call upon our family members to be diligent in grabbing this golden opportunity and strive hard to reap as many rewards and benefits through fasting and the Quran. They are the ones most dear to us, and we definitely want the best for them, not just worldly aspects, but more so their future in the hereafter. This is also the time for us to strengthen our family ties and deepen the love we have toward our family, through fasting, reading and understanding the Quran, and other acts of worship and virtues.

By ensuring that we observe our fast with faith, reciting the Quran with sincerity, devotion and humility, we hope to be blessed with the syafa’at from both our fasting and the Quran on the Day of Judgement, as the Prophet s.a.w. said in a hadith: “Fasting and Al-Quran will bring syafaat to a servant. So says the fast: Oh my Lord, Verily I have prevented him from eating and drinking in the day, so give me leave to give syafaat to him. And thus says Al-Quran: Oh my Lord, I have kept him from sleeping in the night, so please let me give syafaat to him. And the two, Fasting and Al-Quran are allowed to give syafaat." [Hadith reported by Imam Ahmad]

May in this Ramadan, we become servants of Allah who are more diligent in trying to gain Allah’s pleasure, with a pure heart full of sincerity, free of arrogance and pride, and may we be given the opportunity to perform good deeds that will benefit the community and ourselves. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Khutbah Jumaat, 4 July 2014 / 6 Ramadan 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | August 5, 2014

Health As A Blessing, And An Amanah.

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Blessed Friday jemaah,

In this month of Ramadan that is full of barakah, let us continue to be diligent in increasing our takwa to Allah s.w.t by obeying His commands with consistency and determination, and to avoid what Allah has forbidden for us.

Beloved jemaah,

The month of Ramadan is a golden opportunity for us to strengthen our spirituality and bring ourselves close to Allah, our Creator. In this month, there are countless bounties for us to reap through various acts of worship. Thus, we should increase our good deeds this month and indeed, Allah is the witness to all of our deeds. Allah says in Surah At-Taubah, verse 105:

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Which means: And say, "Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do."

Dear jemaah,

As we focus on strengthening our spirituality and faith in this holy month, let us not neglect our physical aspect and health. Rasulullah s.a.w. once advised a companion who was diligent in worship to also take care of his physical needs and the needs of his family. The Prophet s.a.w. said:

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Which means: “Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you”. [Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari]

Thus jemaah, our religion teaches us to fulfil the needs and rights of our physical health. Among the wisdom of fasting is the health benefit of fasting. This has been proven scientifically, that fasting can help to rid the toxins in our body, and to allow our digestive system to rest in a bid to increase our resilience and our health level.

However, we will not be able to reap the benefit if we do not stick to a healthy and nutritional diet. For example, if we do not have a balanced diet and eat too much when breaking our fast, we certainly will not be able to feel the physical and health benefits of fasting. In fact, it can bring physical and health problems to us if this is a habit. Jemaah, when we are choosing dishes to break our fast with, remember the advice of Rasulullah s.a.w.: “The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and a third for his breath.” [Hadith reported by Imam Ahmad and Ibnu Majah]

It is not wrong for us to enjoy good food. However, we should always remember that we must eat in balance, and that a balance diet is important in order to take care of our health. Choosing food high in nutritional value is required by our religion. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Al-Nahl verse 114,

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Which means: “Then eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And be grateful for the favour of Allah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship”.

Thus, let us reflect upon how Allah s.w.t. has commanded us to not just eat what is halal, but what is good and nutritious.

Friday jemaah,

Taking care of one’s health and adopting a healthy lifestyle is extremely important, but is often taken lightly by our community. This is especially true in the context of modern city living, such as in Singapore, where an unhealthy lifestyle and diet can trigger various illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure which can lead to other complications such as kidney failure, heart diseases and stroke.

According to statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), daily there are about four new cases of kidney problems. The number is expected to increase in the future, given that the number of those who suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure is increasing.

Research has also shown that our community is the second highest group to suffer from diabetes, and the highest group to suffer from heart diseases. These two chronic illnesses stem from having an unbalanced and unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise.

Dear jemaah,

Our health is an amanah from Allah, a blessing that Allah has entrusted upon us. Sadly, many do not take this seriously. However, without good health how can we perform our acts of worship properly? How would we be able to contribute our energy toward the betterment of the ummah? How would we be able to fulfil our daily responsibilities as a husband, father and a son?

Remember the Prophet s.a.w. once said: “A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak believer.” [Hadith reported by Imam Muslim]

Beloved Friday jemaah,

Let us strive together to be believers who are more responsible towards the blessings that Allah has showered upon us. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps while we are fasting we may have to reduce our exercise, but we can still adopt a healthy and balanced diet. After Ramadan, we can continue to exercise, as we normally do. For those who hardly or do not even exercise, aim to do start exercising regularly. Perhaps we can start with light exercises that can be done with our family, and will be a good family activity.

We can make use of our environment to start with these physical activities, for example, if our office or home is not on a high floor we can take the stairs instead of the lift.

Go for routine medical examinations so that any diseases can be detected early and quickly attended to. At the same time, choose nutritional food, especially when breaking our fast. Reduce food that’s oily and high in fat content.

Blessed jemaah,

With better heath, we will be able to perform our worship better and our obligations towards our family better, and would be able to carry out community service and good deeds better. May Allah shower us with His barakah and ease our efforts. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 11 July 2014 / 13 Ramadan 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | June 23, 2014

Practices Of The Prophet In The Month Of Syaaban

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Beloved Friday Jemaah,

Let us increase our efforts to boost our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. Seek religious knowledge, so that we can continue to improve our understanding of the laws, commands and prohibitions ordained by Allah. May Allah place us among those who have takwa and faith.

Jemaah,

We are now in the month of Syaaban. Time has passed by really fast. I can still clearly remember celebrating Ramadan and Eid last year. The year that has passed has been very valuable. We can never recover the time that has passed. Sometimes we fail to appreciate the value of time that Allah has blessed upon us because we keep thinking that will live a long life, that tomorrow will always come, and that we will have the opportunity to usher in Syaaban and Ramadan in the coming year.

Let us not be like those who realise how precious every second is only when they are at the end of their lives, or on their deathbeds! Allah s.w.t. says in surah Al-Mukminun verses 99 – 100:

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Which means:  “(In Falsehood will they be) Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: "O my Lord! Send me back (to life), – "In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected." – "By no means! It is but a word he says."- Before them is a Partition till the Day they are raised up.”

Blessed jemaah,

In appreciating the gift of time that Allah has bestowed upon us, let us reflect upon the state of our relationship with Allah s.w.t. We may be among those who have good relations with other people; always donating generously, helping those in need and well-liked by our family and friends. However, does the same apply when it comes to our relationship with Allah the Almighty? The One who created everything for us? Have we given enough of our time to Allah and to supplicate to Him?

Friday jemaah,

Let us take advantage of the month of Syaaban to bring ourselves closer to Allah s.w.t. by understanding how our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. filled his time throughout the month of Syaaban. Nabi s.a.w. said:

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Which means: “Syaaban is the month which humankind often neglect. It is the month between Rejab and Ramadan. It is the month where all of the servant’s deeds are brought to the Lord of the universe. Thus, I like to fast when my deeds are brought up. [Hadith narrated An-Nasaie’]

Imagine jemaah, how is the state of our record of deeds throughout this year? What would our value be when our book of deeds are opened and presented to Allah s.w.t, the Creator? If our books of deeds are presented to us today, would we be happy and proud of it? Or would we be embarrassed and filled with regrets, wising that we had done more good deeds? Just reflect upon how the Prophet s.a.w. – despite being infallible (maksum) – still continued to strive hard and was diligent in increasing his worship in the month of Syaaban.

Blessed Friday jemaah,

Syaaban is a sign that Ramadan will soon be here. Every mukmin who is aware of the advantages of the month will definitely strive hard and increase their deeds throughout Syaaban with the hope that Allah s.w.t. will grant the believer the strength to be able to usher in Ramadan.

Among the deeds that is a sunnah for us in this month of Syaaban is to fast more often. As narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim, the wife of Rasul s.a.w. ‘Aisyah r.a. said: “I have never seen Rasulullah fast more than during the month of Syaaban”.

Among the hikmah or wisdom behind why we are encouraged to increase our fasting in Syaaban is to prepare us for Ramadan. In fact, we are also encouraged to perform other acts of worship that we often perform in Ramadan.

During Ramadan, we are encouraged to increase our sunnah deeds such as reading the Quran, making zikir, performing solat tahajjud and witir, solat dhuha and acts of charity. In order to be able to perform these deeds easily and with consistency (Istiqamah), we need ample practice. This is where the month of Syaaban offers us the opportunity to practice these acts. With practice, it will come naturally and easily for us to perform them during Ramadan.

It is narrated that an ulama, Abu Bakar Al-Balkhi, once said: “The month of Rejab is for sowing (the seeds). The month of Syaaban is to water the plants. And the month of Ramadan is to reap the fruits.” [Kitab Lathoif Al-Ma’aarif]

Friday jemaah,

Besides preparing ourselves spiritually by increasing our acts of worship, a believer must also realise that one needs to prepare oneself intellectually as well, and that is done by continuously seeking knowledge. Year after year we will hear questions from some individuals within the community about errors or mistakes that they made while fasting, causing them to be uncertain as to whether the fast is still valid or has been nullified.

A mukmin should learn about the laws of Islam and matters pertaining to it. For example, learning about deeds that are encouraged when a person is fasting, as well as what nullifies or affects one’s fast. Armed with knowledge, we can then prevent ourselves from carrying out actions or deeds that can taint our fast.

Beloved jemaah,

Let us encourage each other (our friends and family members) to work together to enliven the spirit of Syaaban by performing acts of worship and increasing our knowledge. Take the opportunity in the month of Syaaban to prepare ourselves to usher in the holy month of Ramadan. Hopefully by doing as such we will gain the love and pleasure of Allah s.w.t., and be among those who attain success in this world and the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin

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Posted by: HifzanShafiee | June 23, 2014

Strengthening Our Faith By Seeking Knowledge

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us strive to increase our takwa to Allah s.w.t. Obey His commandments. Leave behind what Allah has prohibited upon us. Let us hold firmly to the true teachings of Islam. May each and everyone of us be protected from deviating from the straight path.

Dear jemaah,

Throughout this month, we have heard sermons that talk about the importance of faith or iman. It is important for us to constantly remind each other about issues concerning one’s faith. Especially in today’s developed world where many people are susceptible to an emptiness of their souls because they are too busy chasing material wealth or fulfilling the demands of their hectic lives in this world.

This is a phenomenon of the industrial society. An empty soul can easily be filled with various ideas, and so we must be careful about the sources of Islamic knowledge that we seek. We should ensure that we are seeking knowledge from the true sources that can fill our empty souls.

A strong faith is built on the foundation of knowledge that is muktabar (true and authentic). We know that with knowledge, a believer (mukmin) can continue with his life in this world, obeying what will gain Allah’s pleasure in order to achieve eternal bliss and success in the hereafter. Allah s.w.t. says in surah As-Saba’ verse 6, which speaks of the advantages of a learned person:

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Which means: “And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and it guides to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy.”

Through this verse, Allah s.w.t. firmly states that knowledge is a factor for one to receive Allah’s guidance. It is through knowledge that we can strengthen our akidah (belief) and faith. Armed with knowledge, one will be able to face the sea of religious information, whether the information is found in books, other publications or through various site on the Internet, and be able to discern between truth and falsehood, authentic sources and those that are questionable. Indeed, this is the role of religious knowledge for every individual.

However, in seeking knowledge, especially in today’s age, there are three groups that we can identify.

The first group: Those who want things to be done fast.

This group consists of individuals who want to gain religious knowledge quickly. They do not bother about the authenticity of the information that they receive, as long as their queries or questions are answered. They are driven to simply use the Internet and various applications that we can find today as the only source of religious knowledge. We should be aware that those in this group may end up confused and may be led astray in their enthusiasm to understand religious texts.

Friday jemaah, the tradition of seeking knowledge during the time of Rasulullah s.a.w. is to seek knowledge from a person who is more knowledgeable. Thus, there exists an actual relationship between the teacher and the student. This is because explanations given by scholars regarding various religious texts have to be taken into consideration in our attempt to understand them. This is also to ensure that we can truly understand the meaning behind the text that we come across.

Second group: They want to take the easy route.

This group wants to take the easiest route to Allah s.w.t. They also want to take shortcuts in practicing the religion and fulfilling their obligations. This group may easily be taken in by claims from deviant groups who “promote” shortcuts to bring one closer to Allah s.w.t. For example: Teachers that claim whomever who follows him will be guaranteed a place Paradise, or those who claim that by making zikr or recitations taught by his group, that is sufficient to earn the follower a place in Paradise, or claims that fardh prayers (the five daily prayers) are not obligatory upon his followers.

These are just some examples of the many deviant teachings, which simply give false promises to attract those who lack knowledge of Islam.

Friday Jemaah, we should realise that there is no shortcut to Allah s.w.t. If indeed there were shortcuts, it would have been taught to us by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. However, Rasulullah s.a.w. and his companions showed us that the path to Paradise is often filled with trials and tribulations and various challenges and countless sacrifices. Rasulullah s.a.w. said:

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Which means: “The Fire has been surrounded by lusts and desires and the Paradise by hardships.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim]

Blessed Jemaah,

There is then the third group, that is the group that seeks knowledge in the right manner, which is by deepening their understanding of Islamic knowledge. These are individuals who strive to learn the methodology or ways to understand the Quran and the Sunnah of Rasulullah s.a.w. Quranic texts and Sunnah texts are complex and open to various interpretations. Thus, this is where we should not just say that we want to follow the Quran and Sunnah but also understand and learn how the scholars understand the Quran and Sunnah.

Allah has blessed those in the third group with the love for knowledge. They will always strive to attain a higher level of knowledge. For example: If this year they are not yet able to recite the Quran, then they will attempt to seek knowledge and learn until they are able to read and not just that, but also understand the contents of the Quran. They will seek to learn from an ustaz, and ensure they establish a teacher-student relationship with him, and not only with one ustaz but many others certified religious teachers, understanding and researching the sources of knowledge and the information received.

Blessed Friday Jemaah,

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We ask from Allah to grant us the love for knowledge and those who are learned. And hopefully, we will always be protected by Allah and be granted His guidance that may help us and our families Kita guard our akidah and strengthen our iman. May Allah protect this community that we love, to be on the path of His Syariah, as taught by Rasulullah s.a.w. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Every Friday we are given constant reminders and advice, our hearts are nurtured to listen to beautiful verses of the Quran and we are called to strengthen our takwa. Let us further heighten our sense of takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by obeying His commands and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us.

Friday jemaah,

Every year we recall important events in the Islamic history. And among the important events that we recall and reflect upon is that of the journey of Isra’ and Mikraj. This event is a testament of Allah’s might and Allah’s greatness. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran, regarding the truth of Isra’ and Mikraj, in surah Al-Israa’ verse 1:

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Which means: “Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”

Dear jemaah,

The event of Isra’ and Mikraj happened after a series of events that caused sadness to the Prophet s.a.w. This journey took place after the Year of Sadness “Amul Huzn” which saw the passing of the beloved wife of Rasulullah s.a.w., Saiyidatina Khadijah r.a, and the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, who took care of him since he was a boy. Furthermore, efforts by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. to spread the message of Islam to the people of Taif were rejected and ridiculed by them. Thus, scholars or ulama have concluded that the event of Isra’ and Mikraj is an event sent by Allah to honour His Beloved Messenger Muhammad s.a.w, for this is when the command for prayer (solat) was given and various signs of His Greatness were shown.

Blessed Jemaah,

If we study the various hadiths that captured the journey of Nabi s.a.w. and look at the events Rasulullah s.a.w. had witnessed during Isra’ and Mikraj, we will find that Rasulullah was shown the beauty of Paradise and its dwellers. Let us reflect upon this hadith, which talks about the allure of Paradise:

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Which means: Rasulullah s.a.w. was once asked about Paradise and he answered: " He who would get into Paradise would live forever, would enjoy everlasting bliss that he would neither become destitute, nor would his clothes wear out, nor his youth would decline. Rasulullah s.a.w. was asked again:  Ya Rasulullah, how about the buildings? He replied: Bricks of gold and silver, and mortar of fragrant musk, pebbles of pearl and sapphire, and soil of saffron. [Hadith narrated Ibn Abi Shaibah]

Subhanallah, doesn’t it excite our hearts to hear of this hadith that talks about the beauty of the gardens in Paradise, the tranquillity and serenity that awaits every believer! Life in this world is never free from all sorts of trials and tribulations, what more for those of us who are adults and bear many responsibilities. So just imagine life in the Hereafter as shared by Rasulullah s.a.w. in the hadith above; a life filled with serenity, calmness and eternal bliss. Based on this, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, when asked by his child: My dear father, when is it the time for us to rest? He replied: When you take your first step into Paradise (then that is the time to rest). [Tabaqaat Hanabilah]

Friday Jemaah,

There are many hadith that describes the beauty and allure of Paradise. However, I would like to share a short hadith about the Paradise that will entered by the last person who is admitted to Paradise. That person will be admitted to the lowest Paradise. This is to help us imagine just how magnificent the Gardens of Paradise created by Allah.

In a hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Rasulullah s.a.w. talks about the last person who will be admitted into Allah’s Paradise. Imagine, Allah will grant that person a Paradise that is ten times wider than this earth. The Prophet s.a.w. laughed when he shared the story and said: “That is the lowest Paradise”.

If this Paradise is the lowest, then what would the highest Paradise be like? How about the Paradise of those who will become neighbours with Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.? In fact, how about the Paradise for those who take care of orphans? The Prophet s.a.w. promised that those who take care of orphans will be those closest to him in Paradise. How about the Paradise for those who carried out their obligations and responsibilities to their families?

Dear Jemaah,

Those who aspire to be given a place in Paradise should uphold the practices of the dwellers of Paradise. These practices are those that would attain Allah’s pleasure, such as acts of worships, which include prayers, paying zakat and so on. Good deeds such as helping individuals and charitable acts such as wakaf and making donations are also part of those practices.  So these are the acts and deeds that will bring one closer to Jannah (Paradise).

Besides just increasing our good deeds, we should also realise that a noble akhlak, or good manners, can help one to attain Allah’s pleasure and His Paradise. A noble akhlak – being truthful, trustworthy, and courteous and so on – is pertinent in Islam. Rasulullah s.a.w. said in a hadith, which means: “Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners”. [Hadith narrated by Abu Dawud]

Hence, those who wish to attain ease, comfort and tranquillity in the Hereafter, would have to be conscious of their deeds, and ensure that they are in line with the deeds of those who have been promised Paradise. Let us make the effort to deepen our Islamic knowledge, and learn about the habits and practices loved by Allah and those upheld by the Prophet and his beloved companions.

May Allah s.w.t. grant us taufiq and the ability to use all the blessings that Allah has given to us to achieve goodness, attain His pleasure and His forgiveness and mercy, insyallah. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 23 May 2014 / 23 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 26, 2014

Death – A Meeting With Allah

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Blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us renew our resolve to strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. He is the One who gives live and we will definitely return to Allah. Thus, obey all of Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us to achieve success in this world and the hereafter.

Friday jemaah,

Life is a blessing from Allah s.w.t. which we should always be thankful for, because with it comes many blessings such as family, health, wealth and so on. The blessings or nikmat from Allah are meant to help us in our life’s journey on this earth, to help us fulfil our responsibilities as His vicegerent or khalifah in this world. However, people often forget that these blessings are just a means and not the end goal. We may forget that this world is just a temporary stop for us to prepare ourselves and as a means to seek Allah’s pleasure in the hereafter, which will be our final destination and eternal abode.

Hence, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. who taught us that we should be like travellers or musafir in this world. This means that even though we dream of wealth, comfort and convenience in this world, but we should ensure that all these are to assist us in preparing for the moment which Allah s.w.t. mentions in surah Al-Qiyamah verses 26 to 30:

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Which means: “Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit), And there will be a cry, "Who is a magician (to restore him)?" And he will conclude that it was (the Time) of Parting; And one leg will be joined with another: That Day the Drive will be (all) to thy Lord!”

In fact, the Prophet s.a.w. encouraged us to constantly remind ourselves and others that death will surely come to us. In his hadith which means: “Remember frequently the thing that cuts off pleasures: which is death, verily the grave says everyday: I am the home that is abandoned, the solitary abode, the home made of earth, the home of worms. When a believer is buried, the grave will say: Welcome, you are the person I love most, now you have come to me. And the grave will be expanded as far as the eyes can see, and the door of Paradise is opened for him.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi]

Blessed jemaah, even though the moment of death is not made known to us, it is one that will surely occur. Thus, it is pertinent upon us to prepare ourselves for the moment when death is immediately upon us. Perhaps, we have had many friends and family members who were still young and were still very healthy, but Allah has called them to return to Him earlier. We do not want to meet Allah in a condition where we are stained with sins and wrongdoings. We hope that the end of our lives is beautiful. We would want the angel of death to greet in the manner mentioned in Surah An-Nahl verse 32:

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Which means: “(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity, saying (to them), "Peace be on you; enter ye the Garden, because of (the good) which ye did (in the world)."

Dear jemaah, let us ask ourselves, how will our first night be in the grave, with the earth as our bed? Will it be spacious and beautiful, like the gardens of paradise as mentioned in the hadith earlier, or will it be cramped, our bodies crushed and suffering from the torment of punishment?

Let us strive to prepare ourselves to return to Allah. Ensure that our hearts are filled with beneficial knowledge. Those who have religious knowledge, ensure that they practice what they have learned because that will help us to answer the questions asked when we are in the grave. Our knowledge should not remain as information that’s simply stored and not applied.

Friday jemaah,

While we should constantly prepare ourselves for death, it does not mean that we ignore our lives in this world. In fact, constant reflection of our condition when death comes to seize  us  should actually drive us to become better servants of Allah; obedient to Allah and become ummah of Rasulullah s.a.w. who perform more good deeds.

In order to help us overcome the trials of the grave, we should increase our religious knowledge, and ensure our children do the same, and that our family will uphold the religion to the best of our abilities and knowledge. We should also be more diligent in trying to understand the Noble Quran and strive hard to practice the lessons from the Quran. A person who constantly thinks of death will not let go of any opportunity to help those in need and will not transgress the boundaries set by Allah. If one has accidentally sinned, one will quickly make taubat and try not to repeat the mistakes made. If we have hurt someone, we should quickly seek forgiveness. If we have broken ties with others, then we should try to amend the relationship so that we will not trip just as we reach the door to paradise.

Blessed jemaah, fill our hearts with the light from the Noble Quran for Nabi s.a.w. once said: “Surah al-Mulk (which is the 67th surah if we are to read and reflect upon its meaning) can be our intercession from the punishment of the grave”. Just imagine if one Surah can bring ease and lighten our pain and burden while in the hereafter, what more if we try to understand, appreciate and practise what is in the Quran. We should not let the Quran to be a book that is foreign to our families and us. We should not limit the appreciation of the Quran simply to the beautiful recitation and knowing the rules of tajwid while reading the Quran. If we have sent our children to Quran reading classes, we should ensure that they understand what they read and learn lessons from the verses read. 

May Allah grant us the best of ending to our lives on this earth. May Allah accept all our good deeds and grant us husnul khotimah (a good ending) and call upon us with His angels who are gentle and make our graves among the gardens of paradise. Amin ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 16 May 2014 / 16 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 25, 2014

Reflecting Upon The Lessons From The Day Of Judgement

wps_clip_image-22091 Dear Friday jemaah,

On this day full of barakah, let us strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. Heed all of Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us. May our takwa help us achieve happiness in this world and the hereafter.

Blessed jemaah,

One of the articles of faith is to truly believe in the Day of Judgement, or Day of Qiyamah, and that there is an end to this entire universe. Al-Quran explains that this world is just a temporary place for a “stopover” or us and the Day of Judgement is certain. In the noble Quran, Allah s.w.t. mentions the condition of some of his servants on the Day of Judgement:

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Which means: “But when there comes the Deafening Blast, On the Day a man will flee from his brother, And his mother and his father, And his wife and his children, For every man, that Day, will be a matter adequate for him.” [Surah Abasa verse 33-37]

My dear jemaah, 

How terrifying would that be. We have seen and heard how a mother or father is always willing to sacrifice his or her life to save his or her child. And most of us simply could not bear to see our loved ones suffer. However, the severity of the Day of Judgement will cause us to not even have the time to think about the condition of others. Everyone gathered in the field of Mahsyar will be in a state of fear and worry about their own condition. Everyone will be preoccupied with his or her own sins and errors; and hopes that no one wishes to hold him or her accountable for their errors. That is the condition of someone who was neglectful in religious practices. 

However, a believer and his family will be protected by Allah’s rahmah (mercy). Allah s.w.t. says:

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Which means: “And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained”.  [Surah Al-Tur verse 21]

Jemaah, have we ever asked ourselves why we should believe in the Day of Judgement? What are the intended outcomes of believing in the Day of Judgement? Is it sufficient for us to be aware of the signs of the Day of Qiyamah and try to look out for it? Or is the intention more encompassing than that? It was reported by Imam Muslim, from Anas r.a., that an Arab Bedouin met Rasulullah s.a.w. and asked: “Ya Rasulullah, when will the Hour (Day of Judgement) take place? Rasulullah s.a.w. then responded with a very important question: “What have you prepared for it?”

Subhanallah, sometimes it seems that there are those among us who are more driven to search for the signs of the Day of Qiyamah, and to guess when it would occur, as if it is a game. This is most unfortunate, as one of the reasons for us to learn about and to be aware of these signs is to spark remorse in our hearts as we think about how we have prepared ourselves to face the Day of Judgement. What good deeds have we done that we can present to Allah when it’s time for us to be judged and assessed?

Friday Jemaah,

Believing in the Day of Qiyamah should strengthen one’s determination to be a mukmin (believer) who strives to obey Allah’s commands.  This is because one believes that one is accountable for all of one’s actions and the blessings (nikmat) Allah has given. Every deed and action will be questioned and judged by Allah. 

Thus, a servant of Allah who truly appreciates the meaning of the Day of Judgement will strive to better his or her acts of worship. The rights of other individuals will be fulfilled and met earnestly. A husband will be conscious of his responsibilities toward his wife, and ensure that they are carried out well, and her needs are met. A father will prioritise his children’s education. A child will fulfil his or her obligations to his or her parents by being kind to them. 

It is intended that by believing in the Day of Qiyamah, we will also abstain from sins. Every time we think of carrying out a sinful act – whether it is stealing, lying, being mean to others, shaming others and so on – our belief and fear of the punishment during the Day of Judgement should prevent us from carrying out sinful acts. 

In addition, a mukmin who believes in the Day of Judgement will not betray the wealth of another. For example, if one has been trusted to safekeep the inheritance of a deceased, one will return the assets to the inheritors, whether it is a huge amount or otherwise. This is different from those who are neglectful towards the Hereafter. They will not bother about the source of the wealth; not caring if it is halal or haram and if Allah is pleased with them or if their actions will incur Allah’s wrath. 

Dear jemaah,

Let us increase our good deeds, as our “investment” for the Hereafter. Start today; do not wait until Ramadan or a later period to perform good deeds. This is because our age, death and sustenance are all determined by Allah. While we may still have today, there is no guarantee we will be given the same opportunities tomorrow. May our belief in the Day of Judgement drive us to become servants of Allah who will achieve goodness in this world and the hereafter. Amin ya rabbal ‘alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 9 May 2014 / 9 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 2, 2014

Iman And The Manifestation Of Akhlak

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us all boost our takwa towards Allah s.w.t., by heeding all of His commands and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us. Verily, it is only with takwa that we can achieve the nikmat (blessing) of true iman towards Allah s.w.t., Lord of the Universe

Jemaah,

If I were to ask you whom do you define as a bankrupt, there would be those who will answer: A bankrupt is someone who does not have any money or wealth, or is debt-stricken and is unable to repay his debts. However, our Prophet s.a.w. has  defined it as someone who is experiencing bankruptcy  beyond that of the worldly wealth.

The Prophet s.a.w. once said, which means:
“The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with (good deeds of having performed) Salat (Prayers), Saum (Fasting) and Sadaqah (Zakat and Charity). However,  he has also insulted others, accused and slandered them, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and hurt others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at hishands and tongue). If his good deeds are not enough to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim]

Subhanallah, just imagine jemaah, Rasulullah s.a.w. explained that a servant of Allah will meet Allah with the rewards of his acts of worship. These acts refer to the acts of worship performed in this world that are accepted by Allahbecause they fulfill the conditions for validity, intention and sincerity. However these rewards for the accepted deeds will be traded away because of the way one treats others with his hurtful and insulting manners or akhlak.

This hadith proves the important relationship between akhlak and iman. In fact, it is a reminder that if we profess our faith but our actions and personality do not reflect our faith, then it is a sign of the imperfections of our iman. In another hadith, Nabi s.a.w. said: “The most complete of believers in iman (faith) are those who are best in character.” [Hadith narrated by Tirmizi]

Moreover, in Surah Al-Mu’minun, verses 1 to 8, Allah describes a believer as someone who not only understand the theory and professes belief, but a believer’s faith will be reflected through his or her kind actions, beautiful behaviour and pleasant actions:

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Which means: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive; And they who turn away from ill speech; And they who are observant of zakah; And they who guard their private parts; Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed; But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors; And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive”.

In this verse, and many other verses in the Quran, Allah s.w.t. relates the importance of a noble akhlak to those who profess themselves as believers. Noble attributes such as being fair, patient, always grateful, honest, fulfilling promises and not hurting others, should be the character of those who claim that they are believers. A true believer will not allow any form of his or her body, nor the inner self to be tainted with sinful and malicious acts, and oppression. The believer will not be able to stand and watch someone else suffering. A mukmin’s mind will not be left to have useless thoughts that are not progressive.

Honourable jemaah,

By appreciating the above, it will lead us to understand that it is impossible to separate good character from true iman. Thus, the more we seek Islamic knowledge to strengthen our iman, the more we should ensure that we should uphold good akhlak.

Sometimes, we observe that there are those among us who, because of their enthusiasm seeking religious knowledge, they forget that akhlak is an aspect that is heavily emphasised in Islam. Their hearts refuse to listen to advices from others; theirarrogance and the desire to show off can be seen in their attitude, because they think they are better than their friends and other people. In fact, there are those who would go to the extent of calling others deviant just because they differ in opinion from these people. There may also be children who are rude to their parents because of differences in religious opinions. when in fact, the issue is one that is being debated by scholars, and hence such differences are still acceptable in Islam.

Friday jemaah, Islam is extensive, and Islamic knowledge is vast. It is highly possible that the knowledge that is possessed by a friend who differs from us, is knowledge that we have yet to learn.It is possible that the Hadith that we know or have heard of, may have a different interpretation or explanation compared to what we have learned from another scholar.  Thus, we should be open to seeking more knowledge;Knowledge that will nourish our love for Allah and Rasul; knowledge that will beautify our hearts and personality with attributes that are in line with the example by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Let us reflect upon ourselves to be committed towards replacing our habits that are hurtful to others with noble acts; and replacing rude and abusive language with kind, honorable speech. May we be among those who are accepted by Allah s.w.t. as true believers. Amin ya Rabbal ‘alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 2 May 2014 / 2 Rejab 1435

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