Tag Archives: kahf

Are Your Dreams BIG Enough?

Published on Productive Muslim
Feb 25th, 2015
This is the original uncut version

Are Your Dreams Big Enough?

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Four
The Finale

Ladies and gentlemen we are approaching the end of this series. Please fasten your seatbelts and make sure your seats are in the upright position. On behalf of the cabin crew I would like to thank you for taking this journey with us and hope to see you here again soon….

Okay fine, I use humor to hide my true feelings, and today I have a tiny heartache because I’m really going to miss talking about Surat Al Kahf. But on a lighter note, while researching the final story, which is about a king named ‘Dhul Qarnayn’ (The man of the two horns) I found out that a possible reason for his title is his hairdo; two ponytails that looked like horns (That cheered me up honestly!)

Others say it’s because he reached the two ‘horns’ of the sun; east and west. In fact there are many interpretations of his title and Allah knows best which is the true one. It’s his fascinating story that concerns us most since we are asked to read it every single Friday for the rest of our lives.

Dhul Qarnayn was a legendary righteous king whom Allah had given immense power. He used his gift to travel around the globe, encountering on his journey a number of different nations whom he helped reform. One of his greatest achievements is building a dam to protect the entire world from the terror of two monster tribes named Gog and Magog, whose penetration through that solid wall will one of the ten major signs of Judgment Day. His story ends abruptly but I know is that Allah mentioned Dhul Qarnayn’s story in about sixteen holy verses from the Qur’an for us to learn something crucial. So here it goes….

Dreams Are The Seeds Of Power

Now this is just a speculation on my part so please don’t quote me on it. I can’t help but imagine this amazing king’s childhood and in my mind there was an incident that went something like this:

“Mommy when I grow up I’m going to change the world!”

“That’s so sweet honey. Now finish your vegetables please!”

“I mean it… My dream is to go on the most magnificent adventure of all time. I want to travel around the world and change it to the better…”

“I am so proud of you my son! You are destined for greatness my son. Never give up on that beautiful dream.”

Perhaps that wasn’t the exact conversation but one thing I’m sure of is that this worldwide journey did not happen by chance. Once Allah gave him the means and the power, Dhul Qarnayn did not waste any time. He used his passion for adventures to help people left and right, and followed his dreams. It’s that kind of aspiration that can conquer the unimaginable! This is what legendary leaders are made out of; heroic missions, consuming passion and a dream too big for the human mind to absorb. So tell me, how do you react to your children’s unrealistic dreams? More importantly, which of your ambitions makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Dhul Qarnayn’s story is both an inspiration for those who have a goal, and a big slap on the face for those who don’t. If your dream falls short of pursuing the impossible for the sake of Allah, then… well… good luck and have a nice boring life! The ultimate dream is not tangled within this life, it’s to reach the highest Heavens and by God, don’t let anything stop you from working hard to get there. That’s what makes Muslims oh so special… We have an end in mind.

Justice Is The Essence Of Power

Dhul Qarnayn’s first visit mentioned in the Qur’an was to a group of people living in the far west. His massively gigantic army and the features of his superiority were simply indescribable. Allah said,

Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way.” (16:84)

The word ‘everything’ in this ayah leaves me speechless. This king was, by far, the most powerful man on earth! So what did he do when he first arrived? You’d think he would confiscate the city’s treasures and set his military generals up in fancy castles. He would have a huge ceremony and command the big heads to bow to him just to show who is boss! Surprisingly, the only demonstration of his power came in the form of establishing justice and enforcing a new constitution that treated everyone the same. No matter what your status was, if you did good you’d be rewarded and if you did wrong you’d be punished. Clear and simple.

Anyone who ever became successful like a president or any other authority figure started the path with a big dream, but without fairness and integrity, no one can withhold power for long. Once your dream of having children of your own for example comes true, if you don’t treat them justly, that dream will turn into a nightmare when you lose your kids’ love and respect. Reaching a higher rank needs taking consistent steps towards success, and the most eminent one of those is justice.

Abu Musa reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It is out of reverence to Allah in respecting an aged Muslim, and the one who commits the Qur’an to memory and does not exaggerate pronouncing its letters nor forgets it after memorizing, and to respect the just ruler“.

 And yet which of today’s leaders truly deserve our respect…?

 When There’s ‘Will’ There A Way

On another trip, Dhul Qarnayn came in contact with a terrified nation where he was offered payment in return for protection from the tribes of Gog and Magog, who were relentlessly corrupting their land. This king’s reputation and global power had obviously exceeded him, for these people knew him by name. Him being honorable, Dhul Qarnayn refused to take their money to build the huge wall and asked to be aided by their manpower instead. Now these people knew exactly what needed to be done, they were rich, strong and capable, they had solutions, natural resources and workers, and even though they were dying every day, they did nothing about it. What they lacked was the will and determination…. Two things we need to instill in our children if we ever hope for a brighter future. Dhul Qarnayn urged these people to work and literally saved the world, he put most of today’s leaders to shame, the presidents who celebrate their power with drinks and extravagant parties while other nations like Palestine and Syria are suffering and withering away. How is this king’s story not making the blood race in our veins? How are we still snuggling on our coaches all day watching TV and eating chips when each and every one of us is an authority figure somewhere whether at work or at home or even at school?! I swear to Allah there is NO time for free time! So tell me, are your dreams big enough?

With even minimum knowledge of the one-eyed Dajjal (Anti-Christ) you’ll easily figure out that the stage is already being set for his arrival. The wrong has become so normal that people are ashamed of doing what’s right. We’ve become so self involved to the point that the closest relationships we have are not with our families but with our IPhones and IPods and IPads, the keyword being ‘I’ or ‘eye’, whichever way you want to look at it. This hideous being will come to test our faith, blind us with wealth, confuse us with his knowledge and assume power over the whole world, starting with taking control of our own minds. Instead of making every minute count, we are counting the minutes till the day is over…. We are wasting precious time that we will NEVER get back!

Yes this sounds like a reprimanding lecture, but we are all in the same boat here, myself included. How do we get out of this rut? I’m glad you asked (Finally!)

 You And Me: We Can Make A Difference

Revolve your life around a dream that pleases Allah and lifts up this beautiful ummah. Don’t be scared. Dream BIG! And as you take each step forward remember to stay humble, for that’s the only way you’ll ever learn and succeed. Hold on to your principles and your faith, because no matter how common wrong has become, it still doesn’t make it right. Fight for justice. Speak up and make a difference. Step out into this world with a zest that will overwhelm people around you. Take pride in applying our beloved Prophet’s advice and show the world how truly amazing you are.

To all the Muslims around the world, this is the final wake up call.

Dream…. The most enchantingly marvelous dreams… and then wake up and be the proud powerful leaders you are meant to be.

Guide and lead the way….
You can do it.

I know you can…

Lilly S. Mohsen

Three Strikes And You’re OUT!

Published on Productive Muslim, Feb 18th 2015

Below is the original uncut version

Three Strikes And
You’re OUT!

Surat Al Kahf Series- Part Three

The It’s one of those days….
The alarm doesn’t go off. You’re late for an urgent meeting. There’s no edible food in the fridge and you’re out of coffee. You stomp your feet on the way out and maybe rip your pants. The car won’t start so you take a cab with a chatty driver who takes a wrong turn and you end up stuck in traffic for what seems like a whole week!
You just want to scream: “Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?”

I remember feeling the same way when my son’s school closed down and with his autism; a change in routine was no walk in the park! Being a single mom, I honestly broke down, thinking Allah was testing me at my weakest…. And then I learnt about Prophet Musa’s story with Al Khidr, and why we read about it in Surat Al Kahf every Friday. Since then, a blessed light cleared my vision, and nothing was ever the same again….

Recap?
Okay but let’s make it brief.
So a man asks Prophet Musa who is the most knowledgeable person alive and the blessed Prophet automatically answers that he was, since he’s the Messenger of God. But Allah shows Prophet Musa there’s someone else (a man named Al Khidr) with even more knowledge and Prophet Musa humbly embarks on a long journey to find him and learn from him. Al Khidr instructs the Prophet not to ask any questions during the learning process, and he tries to oblige, expect it was very difficult not to wonder why the wise Al Khidr would wreck the poor people’s ship, kill a young boy and fix a wall in a town where he was obviously not welcomed. Prophet Musa’s legitimate curiosity got the best of him, and Al Khidr finally explained that each act he did might have seemed horrible or confusing on the outside, but in reality it was for a very good cause. I guess this story is the origin of the phrase ‘blessings in disguise’.
What does this have to do with productivity, though?
I’ll let the following golden lessons answer this question…

Lesson One: The Only Way To Get More Is Give More:

If that makes any sense! But before I start with the first story of the poor people on the ship, can I just pause to admire Prophet Musa for a little bit? Do you understand who he was?! The chosen one! Yet he travelled a long way to learn from someone else. He could have easily went up to Al Khidr and said, “Hey! I spoke to Allah Himself. Can you top that?” But instead he asked polity to follow him! That kind of humility is the first step to achieving any goal. In order to learn and get ahead in life, you need to be humble enough to listen and absorb information from others.

The journey has a lot of action and movement. Al Khidr did not sit Prophet Moses down and then scribble words on the white board to teach him. No, he took his student out on live experiences. The first was on board of a ship that belonged to a group of poor people, and they were kind enough to welcome Al Khidr and Prophet Musa and help them reach their destination. Al Khidr made a hole in the ship because he knew from Allah there was a king behind them about to forcefully seize it. The very same ship these people used to help others, Allah preserved it for them.
And now everything makes senses, for when you give help, money, time or service from the heart, you’ll only get more, never lose.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad was so right when he said:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
“Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives Allah adds to his respect, and the one who shows humility Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).”

Lesson Two: Nothing Is Lost, Only Replaced

This story is a hard pill swallow. I mean killing a child? Seriously? It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and here he is Al Khidr murdering an innocent soul because the boy might grown up and disobey his parents. How do we know if the heartache of losing a child isn’t worse than him misbehaving?!
Well, Allah knows.
And if you’ve ever watched a young man hit his dad or become an atheist or a young Muslim girl eloping with her boyfriend and causing a huge scandal, or becoming a drug addict, you will totally understand that sometimes death is a mercy when compared to other constantly draining disasters.
The murdered boy will most probably go to Jannah and his parents will only have the sweetest memories of him before having a new child, who will fill their lives with joy.
Never does Allah take anything away without giving back something better.

Lesson Three: Our Goodness Survives Even After We Are Gone:

Prophet Moses and Al Khidr set out to a town of inhospitable people, the kind who wouldn’t hand you a glass of water if you were in burning building. Imagine what these people would do once they find a buried treasure? Would they really give it to its rightful owners? Definitely not! Al Khidr built a wall to preserve the treasure under it till the orphan boys grow up, because that’s when they will need it the most. He explained his actions later, saying he did that for the sake of their father, who was a righteous man.

Oh how we worry and pile the money up fearing our children will struggle after we pass away. All the trust funds and life insurances to secure the future hold nothing next to how we choose to live before we die. Allah promises us many rewards if we stay on the right path, and one of them is financial security for our families when we can longer provide for them. Islam is anything but self-centered; it teaches us we are all connected, and every little good deed we do will have a ripple effect to benefit our loved ones and many others.

Okay my turn to go all mushy and soppy!
Do you feel the sentiments in this beautiful chapter? Do you see how Allah cares for our feelings and softly soothes our hearts? In the first story, he takes away the fear and anger of losing the ship. In the second he takes away the sadness and disappointment in a rebellious child, and in the third he takes away the anxiety of worrying about the future. This is our Lord… The Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. If we really knew Him, or allowed ourselves that honor of learning about Him, we will never think that bad things could happen to His good people. They’re only hidden blessings….

I found out later my son’s previous school shut down because the teachers used to hit the special needed kids and abuse them, knowing they can never report back to their parents. My son now goes to a new school, where the teachers are angels sent to us from heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this happy, and I’m grateful for everything he’s learning and for who he’s becoming now. The blessing is clear and vivid now; no longer in disguise….

This Holy chapter teaches us so much more than what meets the eye. How assumptions toy with our minds and lead us to the darkest of places. How giving others the benefit of the doubt is a forgotten ‘sunnah’ and shows us why we panic and breakdown, because we have zero knowledge of what the future beholds, and that’s the third trial the Anti-Christ will come with. The Dajjal will test our faith, blind us with wealth and impress us with his knowledge. He will be able bring back the dead for God’s sake! The only way to survive this tribulation is to remain humble and sincere. The power of knowledge is in knowing there’s a lot we don’t know…. It’s in true submission to the Great Lord and trusting in His will and timing….

Hey! What about the title and the three strikes? You forgot to mention we only get a number of chances and we must learn from our mistakes and that patience is the key to every good!

Actually I had no idea about that.
I just thought the title was fun 🙂

Lilly S. Mohsen