The tragic event befalling Palestinians has left us all in a state beyond bewilderment. It has impacted us in so many ways, often moving us to contemplate profound questions, such as the meaning of life, the presence of divine intervention, and the concept of justice.
While Palestinians are being massacred, the feeling of powerlessness – when your utmost efforts seem futile – is also a trial for you. What can you do?
Reflecting deeply on why we stand up against such injustices reveals something profound. It's not merely a reaction fueled by anger or sadness, nor do personal moral values solely guide it. At the core, it's about faith that is intrinsic to our understanding and belief of what it means to be a human being.
Faith teaches us that all human lives matter and that mercy is central to our lives. Faith teaches us to cultivate life in this world and prosper it to the best of our ability. Faith is the reason why we do what we do. Faith is to gravitate ourselves closer to Allah s.w.t. We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him, we are bound to return.
In other words, our actions are all means to seek closeness to Allah s.w.t. While the outcome of our actions is important, the process bears as much significance, if not even more. The reason is that Allah s.w.t grants the outcomes as we expand all efforts and hope for the best. What matters most is that we seek His pleasure and commit to the path that pleases Him.
Not only is seeking closeness to Allah s.w.t. the objective of our life, but it also strengthens our resolve, fortifies our faith, and enriches our hearts with meaning and tranquillity.
Allah s.w.t. is closer to us than our jugular veins. He is never far from us, always there to listen to the whispers of our hearts. It is our own shortcomings that blind us from His divine presence.
In the midst of this difficult time, we have seen a growing number of people returning to faith, inspired by the resilience of Palestinians in their struggle. More than 21,000 innocent civilians have been reported to be killed by Israel since 7th October, and yet, Palestinians have only risen in honour and dignity.
How can we impart this sense of resilience in our lives as we go through our individual realities and challenges? What could help bring us closer to Allah s.w.t?
Here are eight ways to get closer to Allah s.w.t:
Allah s.w.t mentions in the Quran:
الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”
(Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:28)
Zikr embodies the remembrance of Allah s.w.t, both internally and externally. Quiet contemplation of Allah s.w.t. within the heart and mind constitutes zikr, regardless of time or place. Beyond mere thought, zikr can also be expressed in the heart's remembrance of Allah through recitations and supplications. It's crucial to emphasise that this active form of zikr holds immense significance, especially in today's world.
The present era is laden with distractions that swiftly divert attention from what truly matters. Engaging in the vocal or active forms of zikr becomes particularly effective in countering these distractions and maintaining focus on the essence of remembrance.
You can do zikr after solat or even while doing daily activities like cooking or watering your plant. Allah s.w.t. describes those who have reason and understanding as people who continuously remember Allah s.w.t. in all parts of their lives.
ٱلَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ قِيَـٰمًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِى خَلْقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَـٰذَا بَـٰطِلًا سُبْحَـٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
“(They are) those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (and pray), ‘Our Lord! You have not created (all of) this without purpose. Glory be to You! Protect us from the torment of the Fire.’”
(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:191)
Imagine spending our time at home doing chores, eating, and laughing with our family members while our hearts are constantly in remembrance and connected to Allah s.w.t. Every point of our life would be in submission to The Almighty.
Like all good habits, doing zikr regularly requires some practice and discipline. Start small and try the simple zikr of SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah), Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), La ilaha illAllah (there is no true god except Allah), and Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great). This zikr is also known as the ‘everlasting good deeds’ - The rewards of these good deeds last longer than the pleasures of this world.
In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. shared that this mentioned zikr is one of his favourites to recite regularly:
سُبْحَانَ اللهِ، وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ؛ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ ممَّا طَلَعَتْ عليه الشَّمْسُ
“(The uttering of) ’Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah), Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), La ilaha illallah (there is no true god except Allah), and Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great)’ is dearer to me than anything over which the sun rises.”
There are other forms of zikr that you can recite while doing your chores or work. If you are unsure of what else to recite, there are countless forms of zikr, which you can find in the Quran and hadith of the Prophet s.a.w.
Read: Spirituality in Islam
The success that we seek calls us five times a day. The Prophet s.a.w. said:
إنَّ أولَ ما يُحاسَبُ به العبدُ يومَ القيامةِ من عملِه صلاتُه، فإن صَلُحَتْ فقد أَفْلَحَ وأَنْجَح، وإن فَسَدَتْ فقد خاب وخَسِرَ
“The first thing which will be judged among a person’s deed on the Day of Resurrection is the Prayer (solat). If this is in good order, he will succeed and prosper, but if it is defective, he will fail and lose.”
Beyond solat being an obligation, the 5-daily prayers are so important that it is the only ritual act of worship that was legislated in the Heavens during the Prophet’s night journey (Isra’ & Mi’raj), signifying the servant’s ascension and connection to the Divine.
If you wish to get even closer to Allah s.w.t, consider adopting the sunnah prayers, such as the nawafil, solat hajat, or solat tahajjud. Each of these sunnah prayers has its unique significance and rewards. Pace yourselves well so you can perform the sunnah prayers regularly without burning out.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. also revealed to us that a person is closest to Allah s.w.t. when they are in the sujud position during solat.
أَقْرَبُ ما يَكونُ العَبْدُ مِن رَبِّهِ، وهو ساجِدٌ، فأكْثِرُوا الدُّعاءَ
“A servant is nearest to his Lord when he is prostrating (in sujud), so increase your supplications at that moment.”
Part of growth is realising that we are not perfect. Acknowledging our mistakes and making up for them is a sign of maturity and part of the path to excellence. It was narrated from Anas r.a. that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
كلُّ ابنِ آدمَ خطَّاءٌ، وخيرُ الخطَّائينَ التَّوَّابونَ
“All of the children of Adam commit sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who (continuously) repent.”
Istighfar is the Arabic word for seeking forgiveness from Allah s.w.t. Repentance is a virtue beloved to Allah s.w.t. It is to return to Allah in a beautiful and humble manner. Allah s.w.t says in the Quran:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوّابينَ
“Surely Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:222)
There is no limit to seeking forgiveness. Being the best of all creation, Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is indeed infallible (ma’sum). Yet, it is narrated that he would seek forgiveness from Allah s.w.t. more than 70 times a day.
وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ فِي الْيَوْمِ أَكْثَرَ مِنْ سَبْعِينَ مَرَّةً
“By Allah, I seek forgiveness from Allah, and I repent to Him more than seventy times in a day.”
As we strive daily to be better servants of Allah, we may not realise the sins that we have committed. However, time and time again, Allah grants us His forgiveness, for He is The Most Forgiving (Al-Ghafur), The Pardoner (Al-‘Afuw) and The Acceptor of Repentance (Al-Tawwab).
Regardless of how much we have sinned, we should not lose hope in Allah’s mercy. Do not succumb to the sins we may have committed in the past. Our mistakes don’t have to define us for what we choose to be in the present and the future.
It can be challenging to leave our bad habits, especially when we may have been committing it for quite some time. However so, it is not impossible. Do not lose hope; Allah grants us another day and a remorseful heart to change for the better.
مَا أَصَرَّ مَنِ اسْتَغْفَرَ وَلَوْ فَعَلَهُ فِي الْيَوْمِ سَبْعِينَ مَرَّةً
“One is not a stubborn sinner if he sincerely seeks forgiveness from Allah, even if he were to do it seventy times in a day.”
Read: Repentance in Islam
As we are now in the first week of 2024, let us start anew, hoping for a clean slate by seeking as much forgiveness as we can from Allah s.w.t.
Here is one of the many duas we can practise daily:
أَستَغفِرُ اللهَ العَظِيمَ الّّذِي لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الحَي القَيُّوم وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيهِ
Astaghfirullah-al’azim allazi la ilaha illa Huwal-Haiyul-Qayyum, wa atubu ilaih
"I seek the forgiveness of Allah, there is no true god except Allah, the Ever-Living, the Self- Subsisting, and I turn to Him in repentance"
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
مَنْ صَلَّى عَلَيَّ وَاحِدَةً صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ عَشْرًا
"Whoever sends selawat (prayer and blessing) upon me once, Allah s.w.t. will send blessings upon him tenfold."
Beyond the above hadith, there are so many benefits to sending selawat upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Selawat helps us purify the soul, connecting us closer to Allah s.w.t. It is considered one of the most highly encouraged means for us to express our love towards the Prophet s.a.w.
The prominent companion of the Prophet and caliph, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab r.a, once said;
إِنَّ الدُّعَاءَ مَوْقُوفٌ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ لاَ يَصْعَدُ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ حَتَّى تُصَلِّيَ عَلَى نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
“Verily, the supplication is suspended between the heavens and the earth. Nothing ascends from it until you send blessings upon your Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.”
This is why it's important to recite selawat, especially when making the dua. Hence, let us encourage one another to show our love to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and recite as many selawat upon him as possible.
One of the ways to send prayers to the Prophet s.a.w. is to recite:
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ
كَمَا صَلَيتَ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ
وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ
وَبَارِكَ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ
كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ
وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ
فِي العَالَمِينَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
Alahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa 'ala aali Muhammad,
kama sollaita 'ala Ibrahim,
wa ‘ala aali Ibrahim,
wa barik 'ala Muhammad wa ‘ala aali Muhammad,
kama barakta 'ala aali Ibrahim
wa ‘ala aali Ibrahim,
fil-'alamina innaka hamidun majid
“O Allah! Send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad
as You sent blessings upon Abraham
and upon the family of Abraham;
O Allah! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad
as You blessed Abraham
and the family of Abraham;
indeed, You are praiseworthy and glorious.”
In Islam, faith, a private matter which rests deep in the heart of an individual, is not separate from social concerns. This is why Muslims should not have any dilemma of choosing between worldly affairs and religiosity. Islam is a way of life that allows us to balance and actively engage in worldly pursuits. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, the exemplar of the Quranic values, never distanced himself from the community.
After the call to worship Allah alone and reject shirk (associating other than Allah with divinity), Allah s.w.t. places the command to do good to others immediately next to it:
وَٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا۟ بِهِۦ شَيْـًٔا ۖ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًۭا وَبِذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱلْجَارِ ذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْجَارِ ٱلْجُنُبِ وَٱلصَّاحِبِ بِٱلْجَنبِ وَٱبْنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا
“Worship Allah (alone) and associate none with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, near and distant neighbours, close friends, (needy) travellers, and those (bondspeople) in your possession. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful.”
(Surah An-Nisa, 4:36)
This order of command is not random but affirms the significance of doing good and maintaining the relationship with our loved ones. Spend quality time with your family and friends, do good and remind one another to be closer to Allah s.w.t.
It's always nice to have more time with our loved ones. We can prepare meals for our parents and massage their tired feet. We can read books and play with our children. We can have meaningful conversations with our siblings. We can catch up with friends over coffee after our religious class.
Maintaining good relationships is so important in Islam that in a hadith, our beloved Prophet s.a.w. positioned the act of forging ties as a deed better than other voluntary ritual deeds:
أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِأَفْضَلَ مِنْ دَرَجَةِ الصِّيَامِ وَالصَّلَاةِ وَالصَّدَقَةِ قَالُوا بَلَى قَالَ صَلَاحُ ذَاتِ الْبَيْنِ فَإِنَّ فَسَادَ ذَاتِ الْبَيْنِ هِيَ الْحَالِقَةُ
“‘Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than (extra) fasting, prayer and charity?’ They replied, ‘Of course!’ The Prophet said: ‘It is reconciliation between people. Verily, corrupted relations between people is the razor.’”
Social media serves as a powerful tool to connect and reconnect with others. However, it also enables us to comment without considering or seeing the person on the other end of the screen, often anonymously. For some individuals, this anonymity can diminish their sense of responsibility and respect towards others.
This difficult period calls us not only to raise the unheard voices of the oppressed but also to strengthen our unity and remain united despite our differences of opinion. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith:
يَسِّرَا وَلَا تُعَسِّرَا وَبَشِّرَا وَلَا تُنَفِّرَا وَتَطَاوَعَا وَلَا تَخْتَلِفَا
“Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people. Cooperate with each other and do not become divided.”
Unity is important. This is also why many of our ritual acts of worship prioritise congregational modes, which promise better rewards than most deeds that are done individually. For example, Uthman ibn Affan r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said,
مَنْ صَلَّى الْعِشَاءَ فِي جَمَاعَةٍ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَامَ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ وَمَنْ صَلَّى الصُّبْحَ فِي جَمَاعَةٍ فَكَأَنَّمَا صَلَّى اللَّيْلَ كُلَّهُ
“Whoever prays the Isyak prayer in congregation is as if he has stood for prayer half of the night. Whoever prays the Subuh prayer in congregation is as if he has stood for prayer the entire night.”
Making dua is such a powerful way to be nearer to Allah s.w.t. Our Lord Himself commanded us to make dua and ask Him for what we need. The nature of a servant is to be in need of their Lord. By recognising that essential trait, we can truly become closer to Allah s.w.t.
The beautiful thing about making dua for others is that it benefits us too. Abu Darda' r.a. reported Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said,
مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَدْعُو لأَخِيهِ بِظَهْرِ الْغَيْبِ إِلاَّ قَالَ الْمَلَكُ وَلَكَ بِمِثْلٍ
“No Muslim servant supplicates for his brother behind his back but that the angel says: And for you the same.”
Let us take this opportunity to make dua for the Palestinians who suffer injustices and massacres by the Israeli government. There are many powerful duas that we can read. The Office of The Mufti has recommended we perform the Qunut Nazilah, a dua for Allah’s protection and help, that is offered during our obligatory prayers in times of calamity. Qunut Nazilah can be recited both individually and in a congregation.
The Quran is the words of Allah s.w.t. revealed to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. in Arabic. What better way to connect to Allah than to read the timeless Quran? Reading the Quran has many benefits, as described in our past articles.
The Prophet s.a.w. said,
مَن قَرَأَ حَرْفًا مِنْ كِتَابِ اللَّهِ فَلَهُ بِهِ حَسَنَةٌ وَالْحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا لاَ أَقُولُ 'الم' حَرْفٌ وَلَكِنْ أَلِفٌ حَرْفٌ وَلاَمٌ حَرْفٌ وَمِيمٌ حَرْفٌ
“Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah will receive one good deed as ten good deeds like it. I do not say that ‘Alif Lam Mim’ is one letter, but rather Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter, and Mim is a letter.”
More importantly, reconnecting with the Quran is exactly what we need right now. In a time when many of us feel lost and anxious over what is happening around the world, we are in dire need of guidance that can direct us on how to navigate these challenges. Allah s.w.t. clearly states this at the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah:
ذَٰلِكَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
“This is the Book! There is no doubt about it—a guide for those mindful (of Allah)”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:2)
This is the time to take the best opportunity to fill in as much time as possible with the Quran. A great way to keep yourself alert and active is simply by reciting one page a day or listening to beautiful recitations while doing your work!
Finally, it is apt that we constantly remind ourselves to always have hope and husnuzon (good thoughts), especially in challenging times. This is only possible when we have good thoughts about Allah s.w.t, our Sole-Creator, The Most Powerful and The Most Forgiving.
Remind yourself of this hadith qudsi:
يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي وَأَنَا مَعَهُ إِذَا ذَكَرَنِي فَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي نَفْسِهِ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي نَفْسِي وَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي مَلَإٍ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي مَلَإٍ خَيْرٍ مِنْهُمْ وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَيَّ بِشِبْرٍ تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ ذِرَاعًا وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَيَّ ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ بَاعًا وَإِنْ أَتَانِي يَمْشِي أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً
“Allah Almighty says: I am as my servant expects me and I am with him as he remembers me. If he remembers me in himself, I will remember him in myself. If he mentions me in a gathering, I will mention him in a greater gathering. When he draws near me by the span of his hand, I draw near him by the length of a cubit. When he draws near me by the length of a cubit, I draw near him by the length of a fathom. When he comes to me walking, I come to him running.”
Having husnuzon towards Allah s.w.t. is a matter of the heart. With all the injustices we see every day, it can definitely have some effect on our hearts. The heart struggles to make sense of it and fears being accountable for our shortcomings.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. once approached a young man, nearing his time to depart from this world. The Prophet asked him, “How do you feel?”. The young man said: “By Allah, O Rasulullah, I hope in Allah, and I fear for my sins”. Prophet Muhammad replied:
لَا يَجْتَمِعَانِ فِي قَلْبِ عَبْدٍ فِي مِثْلِ هَذَا الْمَوْطِنِ إِلَّا أَعْطَاهُ اللَّهُ مَا يَرْجُو وَآمَنَهُ مِمَّا يَخَافُ
“These two feelings are not combined in the heart of a servant in this situation but that Allah will give him what he hopes and save him from what he fears.”
In his last moments, the young man only hoped for the best despite fearing his shortcomings. It is his good thoughts of Allah that had saved him. We may think we have not done enough because of the unfavourable outcomes, fearing falling short and even becoming anxious to look for a point to blame. However, what we can learn from this hadith is the significance of having good thoughts and putting our hopes for Allah s.w.t. This requires focus and composure.
Let us remind ourselves that Allah is All-Merciful and Just. When we sincerely try to turn our life as a means to become closer to Him, He will be closer to us, even more than we may expect.
May Allah s.w.t. accept our deeds and grant us assistance in our acts of worship. By Muslims who continue to return to Allah s.w.t, may Allah protect those who are weak and assist them against oppressors. May Allah s.w.t. grant us a blissful life filled with contentment and ease.
And Allah knows best.
References & Notes:
 “My servant does not draw near Me with anything more beloved to Me other than what I have enjoined upon him (obligatory deeds). And my servant continues to draw (even) nearer to Me with nawafil (sunnah/additional acts of worship) until I love him..” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
 Before becoming a Prophet, he would retreat himself into seclusion from society, reflecting and thinking about truth and goodness at the Hira’ cave. The community was largely a pagan society where vices and corruption filled the corners of Makkah at that point in time. After becoming a Prophet, he never detached himself completely from society.
 Scholars of tafsir have highlighted that near and distant neighbours refer to both Muslim and non-Muslim neighbours
 “Your Lord has proclaimed, ‘Call upon Me, I will respond to you. Surely those who are too proud to worship Me will enter Hell, fully humbled.’” (40:60)