A Very Different Perspective

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

A few years ago, I started writing a series on my Greatest Month blog. I entitled it “The Likeness of Ramadan and Wimbledon”. I finished writing four parts with a fifth due, and then did istikhara (the prayer for guidance) and removed it. I was worried that people might misunderstand the purpose of that series.

I then realised that the problem was the name of the article so I changed it, did istikhara again and completed the series. The following is the whole series (including the previously unpublished fifth part). The first four parts run from “Before the Tournament” until “The End of the Tournament” and have been edited and changed in some places (along with this introduction which has been rewritten). The fifth (i.e. new) part runs from “The Rest of the Season” until the end.

Now, many might be surprised by this article. Why did I choose to write about tennis of all things?

Well, one reason was because in my youth I was a rabid tennis fan and for a long time, my brain still thought in tennis terms.

Another reason is because people like to hear analogies as they are easy to understand.

Now, this does NOT mean that I in anyway condone tennis, Wimbledon or the Olympics (which is mentioned in the article as well). I know they are full of haram (prohibited) elements.

So, why did I REALLY write this article? To find that out, you’ll have to read the whole thing until the end. No, I can’t mention it now because it won’t make any sense at this stage. However, everything will make sense once you’ve gone through the whole thing.

I have two requests from all of you:

  1. First, that you not judge me or this article without reading it.
  2. If after reading it, you still feel that this goes against Islam in anyway, please let me know. I’ll do istikhara again and might remove it.

There are two more things to point out:

  1. The timing of this post might seem strange as half of it is about Ramadan. Well, the new part is about post-Ramadan so it works. I wanted to publish it earlier but I wasn’t able to.

2. The flow of this article isn’t the best. As it was written over many years and has many of the issues that overlap, it might seem confusing and repetitive in parts. My apologies for that.

3. As it was originally meant to be five parts, it is now very, very, very long. Enjoy.

So, let’s get started. The tennis part will be in green and Islamic part in black. Grass is green, after all.

Before the Tournament

Firstly, what is the aim of the great tennis players with regards to Wimbledon? To win it of course. Anything less would be a failure.

Firstly, what is aim of the believers with regards to Ramadan? It is to get their Ramadan accepted and get saved from the fire. Anything less would be a failure.

Secondly, why do they want to win Wimbledon? Because it is the greatest tournament in the world. They want to be considered from amongst the greatest tennis players of all time and leave behind a great legacy, and Wimbledon is the best time to work towards that goal. They want a high status in the eyes of the people.

Secondly, why do the believers want to get their Ramadan accepted? Because it is the greatest month of the year. They want to attain Allah’s Pleasure and attain Paradise, and this is the best time to work towards that goal. They want a high status in the sight of Allah.

Winning Wimbledon isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning of more glory. There are more tournaments to be won.

Having a great Ramadan isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning. There is more ibaadah (worship) to be done if one wants to attain the highest level of Paradise.

Winning Wimbledon will definitely enhance their legacy and give them a great chance of being the best.

Having a great Ramadan will enhance their chances of being from amongst the pious ones. Their aim is not to be build a legacy as such, rather they look forward to building their house in Paradise.

Of course, not everybody has the same chance of winning. The great players who have been consistent throughout the year have a better chance of winning.

Some have better chances than others of getting their  Ramadan accepted. Why? Because they’ve been trying to do the same thing the whole year round. They didn’t just start in Ramadan. They were consistent in their ibaadah throughout the year.

Also, those with a greater passion for Wimbledon have a greater chance than the lackadaisical ones, as this passion will make them strive more.

Those who love Ramadan and look forward to the meeting with Allah and the Last Day will strive more than those who are attached to the dunya (worldly life).

Those who think that they can win have a greater chance of winning than those who don’t think so. The latter are defeated before the tournament even begins, so they will strive less during it.

Those who think that their Ramadan can be accepted and have good thoughts about Allah have a better chance of it being accepted than those who don’t think so. The latter are defeated before Ramadan even begins, so they will strive less during it.

Also, please remember only a tennis player can win Wimbledon, not anybody else.

Who is it that can attain Paradise? It is only for the believers i.e. those with tawheed (singling out Allah for worship). As Allah says numerous times in the Quran, the deeds of the disbelievers are not accepted and that Paradise is PROHIBITED for them.

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ‌ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَ‌ةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِ‌ينَ

And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. [Surah Aal-Imraan (3):85]

مَا كَانَ لِلْمُشْرِ‌كِينَ أَن يَعْمُرُ‌وا مَسَاجِدَ اللَّـهِ شَاهِدِينَ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِم بِالْكُفْرِ‌ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ وَفِي النَّارِ‌ هُمْ خَالِدُونَ

It is not for the Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), to maintain the Mosques of Allah (i.e. to pray and worship Allah therein, to look after their cleanliness and their building, etc.), while they witness against their ownselves of disbelief. The works of such are in vain and in Fire shall they abide. [Surah At-Tawbah (9):17]

There are many non-Muslims who fast during Ramadan. Unfortunately, without tawheed, it will not benefit them. It would be better for them to embrace Islam so that they can earn the reward for fasting so that they can go to Paradise.

There are many types of tennis players. Some love playing on grass. Others hate it.

There are many types of Muslims. Some love Ramadan and others hate it.

Others look forward to Wimbledon the whole year round and plan their year accordingly. They love Wimbledon and it shows. As soon as Wimbledon rolls around, you can see them happy to just smell the grass again. It’s their favourite time of year and they just can’t get enough of it.

Some Muslims look forward to Ramadan the whole year and they do dua (supplication) to Allah six months in advance (as the early generations did ) that they get to see Ramadan. They plan their year with Ramadan (and other acts of worship) in mind. When Ramadan begins, you can see them happy to be fasting and praying Taraweeh again. It’s their favourite time of year  and they just can’t get enough of it.

Others only play Wimbledon because it is mandatory to do so and they wish to avoid a fine. They hate playing at Wimbledon and it shows.  They can’t wait until they exit the tournament.

Some Muslims only fast in Ramadan because they have to or because it’s a “cultural thing”. They just go with the flow or do so in order to avoid the condemnation of people. They really don’t like Ramadan and it shows in their actions. They can’t wait for it to end.

Many tennis players are motivated by the great heritage and history of Wimbledon. They want to be like the champions who achieved great things at Wimbledon.

Many Muslims are motivated by the early generations especially when they read the stories about how they spent their time in Ramadan. They want to be like the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) who have a great status in the sight of Allah.

The ones who will end up traversing the path of the great Wimbledon champions and beyond are the ones who have the desire and commitment to do so. They know that the trophy will not fall into their laps. They have to earn it.

The ones who will end up following the way of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) in Ramadan and beyond are the ones who have the desire and commitment to  do so (and, of course, have the guidance from Allah). They know that Paradise is not going to fall into their laps. They have to earn it (and also attain the mercy of Allah).

How do tennis players prepare for Wimbledon? Firstly, the more consistent someone has been in their level of play throughout the year, the less work he or she has to put in to be ready for Wimbledon. They don’t have to start from scratch in the days leading up to Wimbledon. They can work on fine-tuning their games instead.

How do the believers prepare for Ramadan? Firstly, the more consistent someone has been in their ibaadah (worship) throughout the year, the less work he or she has to put in to be ready for Ramadan. They don’t have to start from scratch in the days leading up to Ramadan.

For example, the ones who fast on the recommended days are already used to fasting. Also, the ones who pray regularly are already used to doing this. They can work on increasing their ibaadah instead.

The ones who are  serious about winning Wimbledon will prepare weeks in advance. They’ll enter smaller tournaments on grass like Queens and Halle, so that they can get used to playing on grass. They’ll play themselves into form because they want to hit their peak at Wimbledon. Also, they’ll take care of their health as well. After all, how can they play properly if they are injured?

The ones who are serious about getting their Ramadan accepted will prepare weeks in advance. They’ll start fasting in Shaban so that they can get their bodies used to the fasting. They’ll increase in their recitation of the Quran and increase in performing nawafil (supererogatory) prayers. They want to be at their highest level of iman (their “peak”) in Ramadan.

They’ll take care of their health as well. After all, how can they fast every day and pray taraweeh every night if they are not feeling well?

The ones who do not care about winning Wimbledon will not prepare for it. Rather they’ll just show up a day or two before the tournament begins in order to start practicing on the grass. Sometimes, they might not practice before the tournament at all. The only type of “preparation” that they do are hotel bookings and choosing the right outfit to wear for their matches.

The ones who do not care about getting their Ramadan accepted will not prepare for it. Rather they may start Ramadan preparations just a day or two ahead. Sometimes, they’ll only start fasting and praying once Ramadan starts. The only type of “preparation” that they do are shopping for food in advance so that they have a large stock at home.

The ones who are serious about winning Wimbledon will make sure to distance themselves from any distractions for the duration of this tournament. After all, nothing can get in the way of their winning this tournament. This opportunity only comes once a year.

The ones who are serious about getting their Ramadan accepted will make sure to distance themselves from any distractions for the duration of this month. They’ll finish their Eid shopping in advance and try to complete any pending tasks so that they can focus solely on their ibaadah. After all, nothing can get in the way of getting their Ramadan being accepted. This opportunity only comes once a year.

Another thing that the ones who are serious about winning Wimbledon will do is to check out their potential opponents. They don’t want to be caught unawares. They also sit with their coaches and discuss the tactics that can help them win this tournament.

Another thing that the ones who are serious about getting their Ramadan accepted will do is to learn the fiqh (jurisprudence) of Ramadan. They learn what the requirements of fasting are and what nullifies it. They don’t want to invalidate their fasts in ignorance. They also attend lectures by the people of knowledge about Ramadan so they can learn how to make the most of this blessed month and avoid the traps of Shaytaan (the devil).

The ones who want to win Wimbledon wait for it desperately. As soon as it begins, they are ready to go.

The ones who want to have an amazing Ramadan and want to attain Paradise wait for this month desperately. As soon as the moon is sighted, they are ready to go.

For those who have had a bad year, they look forward to this tournament so that they can revive their year. They look forward to a fresh start.

For those who have had a bad year iman-wise, they look forward to Ramadan so that they can rejuvenate their souls and increase in iman (faith). They look forward to a fresh start.

During the Tournament

Wimbledon begins…

Ramadan begins…

The great tennis players know that they now have to completely focus for the next two weeks. They cannot let anything distract them from their goal or else they’ll be out of the tournament. These two weeks have been blocked out on their calendar. They only have one aim during this time: to get their hands on that trophy.

The believers know that they now have to completely focus on their ibaadah. They cannot let anything distract them from their goal or else Ramadan will pass them by. This one month has been blocked out on their calendar. They have only one aim during this time: to attain piety and be saved from the Fire.

The great tennis players know that they need to pace themselves during the tournament. There are 7 rounds to be played, all of which are important. However, they won’t give their all in the first few matches, because those matches will be against lower-level opposition. They don’t want to exhaust themselves too early. Rather they’ll keep something in reserve for the latter rounds (i.e. the quarter finals, semi-finals and the finals) because that’s when they’ll meet the better players.

The believers know that they need to pace themselves during Ramadan. There are 29-30 days of this blessed month, ALL of which are important. However, they can’t put in all their efforts in the first few days only to get tired out for the rest of Ramadan. Rather they need to keep something in reserve for the last ten nights, which are the greatest nights of the year and which contain Laylatul Qadr, a night that is better than a 1000 months.

The tennis players start their matches.

The believers start fasting.

It is imperative for the tennis player to not look ahead. He needs to take it point by point.

It is imperative for the believer to not look ahead. He needs to take it day by day. As a matter of fact, it would be better for him to live from prayer to prayer, because he doesn’t know whether he will be alive when the adhan of the next prayer is called.

عَنْ أَبِي أَيُّوبَ، قَالَ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ عَلِّمْنِي وَأَوْجِزْ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِذَا قُمْتَ فِي صَلاَتِكَ فَصَلِّ صَلاَةَ مُوَدِّعٍ وَلاَ تَكَلَّمْ بِكَلاَمٍ تَعْتَذِرُ مِنْهُ وَأَجْمِعِ الْيَأْسَ عَمَّا فِي أَيْدِي النَّاسِ ‏”

It was narrated that Abu Ayyub  (radiallahu anhu) said:‏ “A man came to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, teach me but make it concise.’ He said: ‘When you stand to pray, pray like a man bidding farewell. Do not say anything for which you will have to apologize. And give up hope for what other people have.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4171. Graded “hasan” (good) by Al-Albani.]

The tennis player is alone. He cannot get anybody’s help during the match. It’s just him versus the opponent. However, he can keep looking at the player’s box, where his entourage is sitting, in order to get some encouragement. After all, everyone needs some of that. Still, in the end, he needs to do all the work on his own.

A believer is responsible for his own life, meaning that nobody except him can lead his life. He will be accountable for his actions on the Day of Judgment and there won’t be anyone for him to lean on.

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And fear a Day (of Judgment) when a person shall not avail another, nor will intercession be accepted from him nor will compensation be taken from him nor will they be helped. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 48]

However, in this world, a believer still needs help and encouragement from his Muslim brethren. So he will keep looking to them for support. This is why he should chose good companions, who will enjoin him to do good and forbid him from doing evil, because a person is upon the way of his friends.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ ‏”‏ ‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend. [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4833. Graded “hasan” (good) by Al-Albani.]

الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ بَعْضُهُم مِّن بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمُنكَرِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَقْبِضُونَ أَيْدِيَهُمْ ۚ نَسُوا اللَّـهَ فَنَسِيَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْكُفَّارَ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ هِيَ حَسْبُهُمْ ۚ وَلَعَنَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّقِيمٌ

The hypocrites, men and women, are from one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and they close their hands [from giving (spending in Allah’s Cause) alms, etc.]. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). Allah has promised the hypocrites; men and women, and the disbelievers, the Fire of Hell, therein shall they abide. It will suffice them. Allah has cursed them and for them is the lasting torment. [Surah At-Tawbah (9) : 67-68]

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

وَعَدَ اللَّـهُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ وَرِضْوَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

The believers, men and women, are Auliyaa (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they establish salah (prayer) and give the zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Allah has promised to the believers -men and women, – Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of Adn (Eden). But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah. That is the supreme success. [Surah At-Tawbah (9) : 71-72]

However, a believer does not depend on those around him. After all, they will not be there for him on the Day of Judgement.

فَإِذَا جَاءَتِ الصَّاخَّةُ

يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ

وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ

وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ

لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ

Then, when there comes As-Saakhkhah (the Day of Resurrection’s second blowing of Trumpet), that Day shall a man flee from his brother, and from his mother and his father, and from his wife and his children. Every man, that Day, will have enough to make him careless of others. [Surah Abasa (80) : 33-37]

However, unlike the tennis player, a true believer is never alone. His Lord is always there for him to call upon, rely upon and ask for help:

اللَّـهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliyaa (supporters and helpers) are Taghoot [false deities and false leaders, etc.], they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 257]

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm. [Surah Muhammad (47) : 7]

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

Know you not that it is Allah to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth? And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 107]

وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).  And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things. [Surah At-Talaq (65): 2-3]

So, the believer knows that the Lord of the Worlds is the only one that can help him, which is why he places his trust in Him alone and supplicates to Him alone. This is why, in reality, the true believer is never alone.

The true tennis player is the one who plays this game for the sheer enjoyment that he gains from it. What is his ultimate purpose though? He is an entertainer so his ultimate purpose  is  to entertain the audience. So, his ultimate purpose is not to get the trophy, rather the trophy is a result of playing him playing his game in the best manner. So, this tennis player is the best because he knows the true purpose of playing.

The true believer is the one who fasts and does all his deeds for the sole purpose of earning Allah’s Pleasure. What is his ultimate purpose in life though? It is to do what he was created to do, which is to worship Allah alone. So, his ultimate purpose is not just get to Paradise, rather Paradise is attained by worshipping Allah alone in the proper manner. And this is the peak of sincerity – glorifying and praising Allah simply because it is His Right to be glorified and praised. It is not done just for the reward (i.e. for Paradise.). And this is something for us all to ponder over.

[Please see this excellent article for more on sincerity. Be sure to read the comments as well.]

I should point out here that while we should do deeds for the love of Allah, we need to also due it hoping for His Mercy and fearing His Punishment. Some people only do deeds claiming that it is only out of love for Allah and that they didn’t want Paradise! This is incorrect. While a deed should be done primarily to worship Allah, one should also hope for Paradise with that act.

So, this tennis player, because he plays just for the sheer love of the game, enjoys himself throughout the match e.g. while serving, while returning, etc, not just at Wimbledon but throughout his career.

So, the true believer, because he does all his actions out of the love of Allah, enjoys fasting, praying and doing all the other acts of worship, not just in Ramadan but throughout his life.

If the tennis player is winning the match, he won’t relax and get ahead of himself. He needs to close out the match first.This is because he knows that the momentum can always change. So, he keeps going until he wins match point and then he allows himself to relax. However, he knows that he cannot relax for too long because there’s another match to be played. So he cannot relax until the trophy is in his hands. Even then, he knows that even if he wins the trophy, he needs to go on until retirement. That’s when he gets a permanent rest and enjoys the fruits of his labour.

[See this post.]

If the believer’s day is going well, he doesn’t relax and think that he has done enough ibaadah for the day. Rather he keeps going until he goes to sleep. However, he knows that this sleep is just a short rest and that he needs to continue again when he wakes up. Of course, he also knows that, with the right intention, the act of sleeping itself can be turned into an act of worship.

If a believer’s Ramadan is going well, he doesn’t let up and start to relax. This is because he knows that he needs to keep going. He can’t let himself slide. After all, what if he died in that state?

He does not allow himself to relax until the moon for Shawwal has been sighted. And even when it is sighted, he knows that he still needs to continue with his ibaadah until his death, because he knows that the heart can change.

عَنْ شَهْرُ بْنُ حَوْشَبٍ، قَالَ قُلْتُ لأُمِّ سَلَمَةَ يَا أُمَّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُ دُعَاءِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا كَانَ عِنْدَكِ قَالَتْ كَانَ أَكْثَرُ دُعَائِهِ ‏”‏ يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَتْ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا لأَكْثَرِ دُعَائِكَ يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ قَالَ ‏”‏ يَا أُمَّ سَلَمَةَ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ آدَمِيٌّ إِلاَّ وَقَلْبُهُ بَيْنَ أُصْبُعَيْنِ مِنْ أَصَابِعِ اللَّهِ فَمَنْ شَاءَ أَقَامَ وَمَنْ شَاءَ أَزَاغَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَتَلاَ مُعَاذٌ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ ربَّنَا لاَ تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا ‏)‏

Shahr ibn Hawshab said: “I said to Umm Salamah (radiallahu anha): ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said most frequently when he was with you?’

She said: ‘The supplication he said most frequently was:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ

“Yaa Muqallib Al-Quloob Thabbit Qalbee Alaa Deenik (O Changer of Hearts, keep my heart steadfast on Your religion).”‘

She said: ‘So I said: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you supplicate so frequently: ‘O Changer of hearts, keep my heart steadfast on Your religion.’? He said: ‘O Umm Salamah! Verily, there is no human being except that his heart is between Two Fingers of the Fingers of Allah, so whomever He wills He makes steadfast, and whomever He wills He causes to deviate.”‘

So (one of the narrators) Muadh recited:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا

“O our Lord, do not cause our hearts to deviate after You have guided us. [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 8]”

[Jaami At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3522. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

[Please note: We do not blame Allah for deviating a person! If a person is deviated, it is because it is his own fault. He had some shortcoming inside him and Allah knew that.

Something else to note: The greatest man ever created said this dua frequently. Shouldn’t we say it then? And that too frequently?]

So, the end of the day is simply a short relief. And the end of Ramadan is also a short relief. A believer knows that he needs to go on until his death. This is his “retirement”.

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ

وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death). [Surah Al-Hijr (15) : 98-99]

He can only relax when he gets admitted to Paradise. This is where he enjoys the fruits of his labour. The beds of this world were only made so that we could rest in them temporarily. Paradise is the place where we get our eternal rest. And we won’t ever be tired there.

I remember a story of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) and his son which I heard in a lecture (so I’m not sure of its authenticity). His son asked: “Father, when will we relax?” Imam Ahmad said: “With the first step we take to Paradise”. May Allah make Imam Ahmad and his son one of the inhabitants of Al-Firdaus, for the great service that he rendered to this ummah. It’s amazing. This is one of the greatest scholars of this ummah and despite all that he had done, he did not relax until he died. This is the way of the believers.

What if the tennis player’s match isn’t going well? What if he is losing? Does he give up? No. A true champion doesn’t throw in the towel. He knows that it’s not over until that last point is played. He knows that the momentum can always change. He digs deep, refocuses and takes it point by point. He isn’t going to give up. He’s going to put up a fight.

When a believer’s iman is low, and he has committed many sins and he is far from Islam, does he just say “Well, that’s that. I’m not going to make it to Paradise.”? No, a true believer knows that the mercy of Allah is vast. He knows that hearts can change. He knows that he has a chance until his death. That’s the “last point”.

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ

Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.  And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith to your Lord and submit to Him, before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped. [Surah Az-Zumar (39) : 53-54]

So, the true champion never gets complacent when winning. The fake champion does get complacent. And he ends up losing.

The true champion never gives up even when losing, so as a result, he still has a chance of pulling out a win. The fake champion gives up and so obviously ends up losing.

The true believer lives between fear and hope. If things go well, he does not get complacent, and if things are going badly, he doesn’t give up, because he knows that things can change at any time.

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ الصَّادِقُ الْمَصْدُوقُ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ خَلْقُهُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ فِي ذَلِكَ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يُرْسَلُ الْمَلَكُ فَيَنْفُخُ فِيهِ الرُّوحَ وَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعِ كَلِمَاتٍ بِكَتْبِ رِزْقِهِ وَأَجَلِهِ وَعَمَلِهِ وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ فَوَالَّذِي لاَ إِلَهَ غَيْرُهُ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاَّ ذِرَاعٌ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا وَإِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا إِلاَّ ذِرَاعٌ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا ‏”‏ ‏

Abdullah (ibn Masood) (radiallahu anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasalalm) who is the most truthful (of the human beings) and his being truthful (is a fact) said: Verily your creation is on this wise. The constituents of one of you are collected for forty days in his mother’s womb in the form of blood, after which it becomes a clot of blood in another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh and forty days later Allah sends His angel to it with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds, his fortune and misfortune. By Him, besides Whom there is none worthy of worship besides Allah, that one amongst you acts like the people deserving Paradise until between him and Paradise there remains but the distance of a cubit, when suddenly the writing of destiny overcomes him and he begins to act like the denizens of Hell and thus enters Hell, and another one acts in the way of the denizens of Hell, until there remains between him and Hell a distance of a cubit that the writing of destiny overcomes him and then he begins to act like the people of Paradise and enters Paradise.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 6390]

There are two major signs of a great champion. The first sign is that he knows how to dominate  his opponents when he is in good form. So when he wins, he wins big (i.e. domination) and he wins often (i.e. consistency). And when does he win big? Generally, it’s in the important matches e.g. in the finals. He overwhelms his opposition because he is so much better than them. His peak level is so much better than his opponent’s peak level. On his good days, everything is clicking and he’s firing on all cylinders. It’s a joy to behold.

What are the good days of a believer? It’s when his ibaadah (worship) is going well. It’s when he has khushoo (humility) in his prayers. It’s when he is  being a companion of the Quran.

When one’s ibaadah is going well, everything seems easy. You’ll find that nothing really worries you. Big problems seem like little problems. [Here we all need to ask ourselves: do we have those days? If we do then alhamdulillah. If not, then why not? What can we do to have these types of days?]

On the other hand, when one’s ibaadah is not going well, everything seems difficult. You’ll find that everything annoys you. Little problems feel like big problems.

How does a believer “dominate” others? Well, it’s by doing much more  ibaadah than them at any given time. That’s what the great believers did:

عن الْمُغِيرَةَ بْنَ شُعْبَةَ، يَقُولُ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلِّي حَتَّى تَرِمَ ـ أَوْ تَنْتَفِخَ ـ قَدَمَاهُ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ، فَيَقُولُ ‏ :‏ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ‏

Narrated Al-Mughirah ibn Shubah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to pray so much that his feet used to become oedematous or swollen, and when he was asked as to why he prayed so much, he would say, “Shall I not be a thankful slave (to Allah)?” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 478]

عن عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لَهُ :‏ أَحَبُّ الصَّلاَةِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صَلاَةُ دَاوُدَ ـ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ ـ وَأَحَبُّ الصِّيَامِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صِيَامُ دَاوُدَ، وَكَانَ يَنَامُ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ وَيَقُومُ ثُلُثَهُ وَيَنَامُ سُدُسَهُ، وَيَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا ‏

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas (radiallahu anhuma): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) told me, “The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of Dawood (alaihissalam) and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of Dawood. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadeeth No. 231]

[A point to note: Dawood (alaihissalam) was a king. Despite this, he used to fast and pray so much!]

عَنْ أَبِي قِلاَبَةَ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو الْمَلِيحِ، قَالَ دَخَلْتُ مَعَ أَبِيكَ عَلَى عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو فَحَدَّثَنَا أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذُكِرَ لَهُ صَوْمِي فَدَخَلَ عَلَىَّ فَأَلْقَيْتُ لَهُ وِسَادَةً مِنْ أَدَمٍ حَشْوُهَا لِيفٌ فَجَلَسَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ وَصَارَتِ الْوِسَادَةُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُ فَقَالَ لِي ‏”‏ أَمَا يَكْفِيكَ مِنْ كُلِّ شَهْرٍ ثَلاَثَةُ أَيَّامٍ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ خَمْسًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ سَبْعًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ تِسْعًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ لاَ صَوْمَ فَوْقَ صَوْمِ دَاوُدَ شَطْرُ الدَّهْرِ صِيَامُ يَوْمٍ وَإِفْطَارُ يَوْمٍ ‏”‏‏

Abu Qilabah reported that Abu ِِِAl-Malih informed me: I went along with your father to Abdullah ibn Amr, and he narrated to us that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was informed about my fasting and he came to me, and I placed a leather cushion filled with fibre of date-palms for him. He sat down upon the ground and there was that cushion between me and him, and he said to me: Does three days’ fasting in a month not suffice you? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He said: (Would) five (not suffice for you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts) He said: (Would) seven (fasts) not suffice you? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He (the Prophet) then said: (Would) nine (fasts not suffice you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts). He said: (Would) eleven (fasts not suffice you)? I said: Messenger of Allah, (I am capable of observing more fasts than these). Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: There is no fasting (better than) the fasting of Dawood which comprises half of the age, fasting a day and not fasting a day. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 2597]

Everyone has a peak level. The peak level of the Prophets (alaihimissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) was more than our peak level. Their peak level meant long night prayers, frequent fasting, frequently giving charity, consistently helping those around them, etc. [Of course, their “off peak” level was perhaps 0.5% lower so….]

When did they reach their peak? In Ramadan, of course, and especially in the last 10 days.

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَجْوَدَ النَّاسِ، وَكَانَ أَجْوَدُ مَا يَكُونُ فِي رَمَضَانَ حِينَ يَلْقَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ، وَكَانَ يَلْقَاهُ فِي كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ فَيُدَارِسُهُ الْقُرْآنَ، فَلَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَجْوَدُ بِالْخَيْرِ مِنَ الرِّيحِ الْمُرْسَلَةِ‏.‏

Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Quran. Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Hadeeth No. 5]

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا دَخَلَ الْعَشْرُ شَدَّ مِئْزَرَهُ، وَأَحْيَا لَيْلَهُ، وَأَيْقَظَ أَهْلَهُ‏.‏

Narrated Aishah (radiallahu anhu): “With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to stay up at night, and used to wake his family.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadeeth No. 241]

So, we too need to learn the art of “stepping on the accelerator”. We need to speed up (i.e improve) at the important times (i.e. Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah).

Also, we should learn to take advantage of the times of ease in order to do things which are pleasing to Allah. What are the “times of ease”? Well, the following hadeeth tells us when these times occur:

عن ابن عباس قال :قال رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم :اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس : حياتك قبل موتك ، و صحتك قبل سقمك ، و فراغك قبل شغلك ، و شبابك قبل هرمك ، و غناك قبل فقرك

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Take advantage of five before five: your life before your death, your health before you fall ill, your free time before you become busy, your youth before your old age, and your wealth before you become poor.” [Sahih Al-Jaami, Hadeeth No. 1077]

Another hadeeth summarises this fact even further:

عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، الصِّحَّةُ وَالْفَرَاغُ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhuma): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 421]

[Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim thought that wasting time was worse than death. Remember?]

Another way that the believer “dominates” is by doing all his actions with excellence:

عَنْ شَدَّادِ بْنِ أَوْسٍ، قَالَ ثِنْتَانِ حَفِظْتُهُمَا عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ الإِحْسَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ فَإِذَا قَتَلْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الْقِتْلَةَ وَإِذَا ذَبَحْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الذَّبْحَ وَلْيُحِدَّ أَحَدُكُمْ شَفْرَتَهُ فَلْيُرِحْ ذَبِيحَتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Shaddaad ibn Aws (radiallahu anhu) said: Two are the things which I remember the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) having said: “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 4810]

Ihsan is the highest level which a believer can reach, where he worships Allah as though he sees Him:

قال : فأخبرني عن الإحسان . قال : ” أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه . فإن لم تكن تراه  فإنه يراك

“He (Jibreel) said: Then tell me about ihsan. He (the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)) said: It is to worship Allah as though you see Him and while you see Him not, yet truly He sees you.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1. This is only a part of the entire hadeeth, which is famously known as the “Hadeeth of Jibreel”]

Due to a champion’s consistency, his good days are not few and far between, rather they are quite frequent. He wins easily on most days.

We shouldn’t just be great at the important times, rather we need to be great throughout the year i.e. we need to be consistent with our ibaadah. Consistency in good deeds is one of the main traits of a believer. And it’s not just being consistent with the obligatory duties – it’s also being consistent with the voluntary acts.

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ سُئِلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ الأَعْمَالِ أَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏”‏ أَدْوَمُهَا وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏‏.‏ وَقَالَ ‏”‏ اكْلَفُوا مِنَ الأَعْمَالِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ ‏”‏‏‏

Narrated Aishah (radiallahu anha): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, ‘Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 472]

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرٌ وَكَانَ يُحَجِّرُهُ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهِ فَجَعَلَ النَّاسُ يُصَلُّونَ بِصَلاَتِهِ وَيَبْسُطُهُ بِالنَّهَارِ فَثَابُوا ذَاتَ لَيْلَةٍ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنَ الأَعْمَالِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَا دُووِمَ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَكَانَ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا عَمِلُوا عَمَلاً أَثْبَتُوهُ ‏.‏

Aishah (radiallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had a mat and he used it for making an apartment during the night and observed prayer in it, and the people began to pray with him, and he spread it (the mat) during the day time. The people crowded round him one night. He (the Prophet) then said: “O people, perform such acts as you are capable of doing, for Allah does not grow weary but you will get tired. The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small.” And it was the habit of the members of Muhammad’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) household that whenever they did an act they did it continuously. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1710]

A great champion knows that when things are going well, he should continue with those tactics and not change them.  He understands the meaning of the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When things are going well, we need to keep following the same pattern. For example, for most of us, Ramadan is a pretty good month. We manage to get so much done during it. When we know that this pattern works for us, why do we stop? Why don’t we continue with it beyond Ramadan?

The second sign is that when he gets into trouble, he knows how to gut out a win. Those are the matches that others may have lost, but he fought and fought until he broke his opponent’s will.

As I’ve mentioned before, the scholars pointed out that there are three types of patience:

a) Patience upon doing good

[This would be the “consistency” that I referred to earlier in the post.]

b) Patience upon refraining from evil

c) Patience in the face of trials and tribulations. Contrary to what many people think, this is the lowest level of patience, not the highest one.

It might be very easy to do good deeds in times of ease but what about in times of calamity? Sadly, many people don’t “gut it out”. They just give up. Where is the patience? Patient is indeed a great act of worship.

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَ‌اتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ‌ الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّـهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَ‌اجِعُونَ

أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّ‌بِّهِمْ وَرَ‌حْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.), who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 155-157]

لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَ‌كُوا أَذًى كَثِيرً‌ا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُ‌وا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

‌You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters, [which you must hold on with all your efforts]. [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 186]

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ‌ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ

O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly! Allah is with As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.). [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 153]

وَكَأَيِّن مِّن نَّبِيٍّ قَاتَلَ مَعَهُ رِ‌بِّيُّونَ كَثِيرٌ‌ فَمَا وَهَنُوا لِمَا أَصَابَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا ضَعُفُوا وَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يُحِبُّ الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ

And many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets) fought (in Allah’s Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Saabireen (the patient ones, etc.). [Surah Aali-Imran (3) : 146]

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا رَ‌بَّكُمْ ۚ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَـٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۗ وَأَرْ‌ضُ اللَّـهِ وَاسِعَةٌ ۗ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُ‌ونَ أَجْرَ‌هُم بِغَيْرِ‌ حِسَابٍ

Say (O Muhammad): “O My slaves who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), be afraid of your Lord (Allah) and keep your duty to Him. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allah’s earth is spacious (so if you cannot worship Allah at a place, then go to another)! Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning. [Surah Az-Zumar (39) : 10]

عَنِ أَبَي سَعِيدٍ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ أُنَاسًا مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ سَأَلُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمْ يَسْأَلْهُ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ إِلاَّ أَعْطَاهُ حَتَّى نَفِدَ مَا عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُمْ حِينَ نَفِدَ كُلُّ شَىْءٍ أَنْفَقَ بِيَدَيْهِ ‏ “‏ مَا يَكُنْ عِنْدِي مِنْ خَيْرٍ لاَ أَدَّخِرْهُ عَنْكُمْ، وَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يَسْتَعِفَّ يُعِفُّهُ اللَّهُ، وَمَنْ يَتَصَبَّرْ يُصَبِّرْهُ اللَّهُ، وَمَنْ يَسْتَغْنِ يُغْنِهِ اللَّهُ، وَلَنْ تُعْطَوْا عَطَاءً خَيْرًا وَأَوْسَعَ مِنَ الصَّبْرِ ‏”‏‏‏

Narrated Abu Saeed (radiallahu anhu) : Some people from the Ansar asked Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) (to give them something) and he gave to everyone of them, who asked him, until all that he had was finished. When everything was finished and he had spent all that was in his hand, he said to them, ‘”(Know) that if I have any wealth, I will not withhold it from you (to keep for somebody else); And (know) that he who refrains from begging others (or doing prohibited deeds), Allah will make him contented and not in need of others; and he who remains patient, Allah will bestow patience upon him, and he who is satisfied with what he has, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And there is no gift better and vast (you may be given) than patience.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 477]

Ramadan is a great time to be patient. Even if a believer’s Ramadan has not gone well and he has only a few days left, he should prove his servitude to Allah, “gut it out”, be patient and keep working until the end of Ramadan. This way he can still have a great end to the month.

Therefore, a believer just needs to be patient in continuing to do good deeds and keeping away from sins.

In fact, these sorts of matches only add to the champion’s legacy and to his greatness. Later on, he’ll look back and realise that this match was good for him.

We’re all going to have to undergo hardships and tests if we want to enter Paradise:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ ‏”‏ ‏

Anas ibn Malik (radiallahu anhu) reported: “The Paradise is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by temptations.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 6778]

We can’t expect the big prize if we’re not willing to slog it out, now can we?

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَ‌كُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). [Surah Al-Ankabut (29) : 2-3]

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تُتْرَ‌كُوا وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَلَمْ يَتَّخِذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا رَ‌سُولِهِ وَلَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلِيجَةً ۚ وَاللَّـهُ خَبِيرٌ‌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and have not taken Waleejah [(Batanah – helpers, advisors and consultants from disbelievers, pagans, etc.) giving openly to them their secrets] besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. [Surah At-Tawbah (9) : 16]

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّ‌اءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّ‌سُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ‌ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ‌ اللَّـهِ قَرِ‌يبٌ

Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near! [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 214]

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِ‌ينَ

“Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are As-Saabirin (the patient ones, etc.)?” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 142]

However, the hardship we face is nothing compared to the ease that we get in Paradise. [Remember this post?]

And the hardship will never be “unbearable”.

The real champions LOVE the challenge of these tough matches. This is what they’ve been waiting for. Now, they can show everyone what they’re made of.

The real slaves of Allah LOVE calamities. Yes, you read that right.

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، قَالَ دَخَلْتُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَهُوَ يُوعَكُ فَوَضَعْتُ يَدِي عَلَيْهِ فَوَجَدْتُ حَرَّهُ بَيْنَ يَدَىَّ فَوْقَ اللِّحَافِ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا أَشَدَّهَا عَلَيْكَ قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُضَعَّفُ لَنَا الْبَلاَءُ وَيُضَعَّفُ لَنَا الأَجْرُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ ‏”‏ الأَنْبِيَاءُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ الصَّالِحُونَ إِنْ كَانَ أَحَدُهُمْ لَيُبْتَلَى بِالْفَقْرِ حَتَّى مَا يَجِدُ أَحَدُهُمْ إِلاَّ الْعَبَاءَةَ يُحَوِّيهَا وَإِنْ كَانَ أَحَدُهُمْ لَيَفْرَحُ بِالْبَلاَءِ كَمَا يَفْرَحُ أَحَدُكُمْ بِالرَّخَاءِ ‏”‏

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri (radiallahu anhu) said: “I entered upon the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) when he was suffering from a fever, and I placed my hand on him and felt heat with my hand from above the blanket. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, how hard it is for you!’ He said: ‘We (Prophets) are like that. The trial is multiplied for us and so is the reward.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, then who?’ He said: ‘Then the righteous (saalihoon), some of whom were tested with poverty until they could not find anything except a cloak to put around themselves. One of them will rejoice at calamity as one of you would rejoice at ease.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4024. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

The greater the person is in his commitment to Allah, the more he will be tested:

عَنْ سَعْدِ بْنِ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ ‏ “‏ الأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الأَمْثَلُ فَالأَمْثَلُ يُبْتَلَى الْعَبْدُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلاَؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلاَءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الأَرْضِ وَمَا عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَطِيئَةٍ ‏”

Saad ibn Abee Waqqas (radiallahu anhu) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4023. Graded “hasan sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

What does a champion do in order to win matches, especially the high-stakes ones?

What does a believer do on the big occasions like the last ten nights of Ramadan?

He plans his tactics ahead of time, keeping in mind who his next opponent is. He consults with his coaches and other relevant people in order to come up with a good game plan.

A believer plans his Ramadan day beforehand. If he has any questions, he refers it to the people of knowledge, as Allah has commanded.

فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

So ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know. [Surah Al-Anbiya (21) : 7]

He starts the match off with confidence, believing that he can win. He plays his own game and doesn’t let his opponent get inside his head.

A believer starts off Ramadan with good thoughts about Allah, and with high ambitions. He hopes for the reward for his fasts and his prayers.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ قَامَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ، وَمَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever established prayers on Laylatul Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 125]

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Hadeeth No. 36]

The believer doesn’t worry about what others are doing. He just goes ahead and worships Allah, even if he is the only one in his house who is doing so. Also, he doesn’t let Shaytaan (the devil) toy with him and divert him from the remembrance of Allah. He just focuses on his own worship.

He uses his strengths to win “cheap” points and preserve energy. He doesn’t want to exert himself at the beginning of the match, especially if it is in the early rounds.

The intelligent believer does not overdo it in the first few days of Ramadan. He paces himself and does the ibaadaat (acts of worship) which are easy for him (his “strengths”) and then gradually works up from there. He also tries to get “cheap points” wherever he can. “Cheap points” just means those deeds that are easy. It doesn’t mean that they are less rewarding. We have so many acts in the sunnah which are EASY but which have huge rewards, so we should pay attention to those.

He tries to use his strengths so that the opponent doesn’t use his weakness against him. In the meantime, he also tries to improve his weaknesses.

Shaytaan (the devil) loves to use our weakness against us. However, we must not let him. We need to do two things:

a) Use our strengths to overcome our weakness – For example, suppose a man is not the best of husbands. Perhaps he is very harsh with his wife and he is aware of it but is unable to get rid of this harshness.

Suppose his strength is prayer. He does all his sunnah and nafl prayers. He also does qiyam al-layl. This man should continue doing these acts and not let Shaytan make him think that he is hopeless just because of his weakness. He should strive to pray as much as he can and improve his khushoo (humility) in prayer so that his iman (faith) and his taqwa (piety) increase, which will in turn make it easier for him to be more aware of how bad his attitude towards his wife is. It will also make it easier for him to rectify himself.

Also, if he is unable to get rid of this weakness, then at least he will have many good deeds (resulting from the prayer) that will cancel out the sins he may have earned through his bad treatment of his wife. So, his strength can help him overcome his weakness.

b) Improve our weaknesses – Yes, we all have weaknesses. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to improve ourselves.

We need to try to make our weakness less of a weakness, if you will.

Remember that every player has different strengths. Very few players are strong in all aspects of play.

Every believer is different. They don’t all have the same strengths. Some are strong in prayer, some in fasting, some in memorising the Quran, some in dawah (calling to Islam), etc. Not everyone is strong in every aspect and we need to realise that. Too often, we want to be excellent in everything and end up being good at nothing.

Of course, there are people who are excellent in all aspects. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) being the best example.

“Oh, but he’s the Prophet!”

Okay, fine. What about Abu Bakr (radiallahu anhu) then? He was excellent in all aspects too.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ مَنْ أَنْفَقَ زَوْجَيْنِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ نُودِيَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ، هَذَا خَيْرٌ‏.‏ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصَّلاَةِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الصَّلاَةِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجِهَادِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الْجِهَادِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصِّيَامِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الرَّيَّانِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصَّدَقَةِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الصَّدَقَةِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ بِأَبِي أَنْتَ وَأُمِّي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، مَا عَلَى مَنْ دُعِيَ مِنْ تِلْكَ الأَبْوَابِ مِنْ ضَرُورَةٍ، فَهَلْ يُدْعَى أَحَدٌ مِنْ تِلْكَ الأَبْوَابِ كُلِّهَا قَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ‏.‏ وَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever gives two kinds (of things or property) in charity for Allah’s Cause, will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, ‘O slaves of Allah! Here is prosperity.’ So, whoever was amongst the people who used to offer their prayers, will be called from the gate of the prayer; and whoever was amongst the people who used to participate in Jihad, will be called from the gate of Jihad; and whoever was amongst those who used to observe fasts, will be called from the gate of Rayyan; whoever was amongst those who used to give in charity, will be called from the gate of charity.” Abu Bakr said, “Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Messenger! No distress or need will befall him who will be called from those gates. Will there be any one who will be called from all these gates?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadeeth No. 121]

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ مَنْ أَصْبَحَ مِنْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ صَائِمًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ أَنَا ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَمَنْ تَبِعَ مِنْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ جَنَازَةً ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ أَنَا ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَمَنْ أَطْعَمَ مِنْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ مِسْكِينًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ أَنَا ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَمَنْ عَادَ مِنْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ مَرِيضًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ أَنَا ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ مَا اجْتَمَعْنَ فِي امْرِئٍ إِلاَّ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”

Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: Who amongst you is observing fast on this day? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (again) said: Who amongst you has followed the bier (i.e. followed a funeral) today? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (the Prophet) again said: Who amongst you has served food to the needy? Abu Bakr said: It is I. He (again) said: Who amongst you has today visited the sick? Abu Bakr said: It is I. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: He must get into Paradise who combines in himself (all these noble qualities and virtues). [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 5880]

Also, a lesser player may have a strength that a player greater than him does not e.g. the former might have a fantastic forehand but the latter might not. This would stop a player from getting too arrogant and would force him to improve. It also adds to the drama.

A person who might be considered “less religious” might have a strength that a person who is considered “very religious” might not. And this is something that we all need to ponder over. Perhaps each person has been “kept in check” by way of another, who is stronger in one aspect, so as to stop him from getting arrogant and instead cause him to strive more in order to please Allah.

A great tennis player will always try to keep improving and he’ll keep getting better round by round so he’ll hit his peak by the final round.

The great believers try to keep improving all the time. They are never satisfied with themselves and their ibaadah. In Ramadan, they time themselves well. They start strong and get stronger, not weaker, as the month progresses so that they will have reached the peak of their ibaadah in the last ten nights. Just in time for Laylatul Qadr.

Remember that the point of improving is to win more matches and to win them easily. Improving is not a goal in itself, rather it is a means to an end.

We need to remember why we want to increase in our ibaadah. The more we strive, the greater our rewards will be and the bigger that house in Paradise. So, doing more ibaadah is just a means, not the end. The end is earning Allah’s Pleasure.

The tougher the opponent and the bigger the occasion, the more a champion needs to raise his game and the more he does so.

As mentioned earlier on in this article, the greater a person’s iman (belief), the more they are tested and the more they can withstand those tests. Trials and tribulations show the true mettle of a person which is why one should ultimately be grateful that Allah tested them and strive to pass the test with flying colours.

What if a champion is easily winning the match? Well, he makes sure that he doesn’t get ahead of himself. He continues to take it point by point. He doesn’t relax until he has won the match and the tournament.

Remember that Iblees (the devil) was good at one time? Look at him now.

If your Ramadan is going well, don’t let Shaytan fool you into thinking that you can now rest on your laurels. You need to take things on a day by day basis and not get ahead of yourself. You have to strive until the end of Ramadan and then you need to continue on until death.

Also, he makes sure not to give away any free points. After all, how many matches have turned on just one point? Nobody knows until the end of the match what the “big” points were.

One shouldn’t say “Oh this is a little good deed, I won’t get any benefit from it” because many ahadeeth have come to us about the people of the past who did a very little thing (like moving a harmful object from the road) and got forgiven as a result of it. Also, one shouldn’t say “Oh it’s just a little sin” because many ahadeeth have been narrated to us of people whose lives were destroyed because of “little” sins that they committed. We have no idea what will cause us to get forgiven or what might cause us to get punished, therefore we should try to do whatever good we can and try to keep away from all sins.

[Here’s a an earlier post I wrote about “little” things adding up.]

In reality, all the points are important. Yes, they have degrees of importance but they all contribute to the win after all. A champion therefore tries to win every point.

In tennis, a win is a win matter how many points you win by. However, for us, the more good deeds we do, no matter how little they are, the more reward there will be at the end. Not all the deeds have the same degree of importance but they will all contribute towards building that wonderful mansion in Paradise. So, we need to try to do as many good deeds as we possibly can and not let any opportunity pass us by.

What if the crowd isn’t supporting the champion? What if they don’t appreciate his efforts at all? Well, how many a champion has been left unappreciated. True champions don’t care about the crowd reaction though. They can thrive even in the most adverse conditions. They don’t care if they get booed or cheered. They keep doing what they have to do – which is to win the match. If they start to get affected by the crowd reaction, then they look over to their box for support from their family and friends.

What if you have no one to support you? What if everyone seems to be against you? Well, if Allah is with you, it doesn’t matter who is against you. A believer shouldn’t let himself get affected by other people’s reactions, whether they are good or bad. He should continue trying to work for the hereafter. If he really starts to get depressed, he should first do dua (supplication) and then seek advice and support from some righteous Muslims.

Besides, playing the game is enough for the champion to forget about the crowd. For him, playing is freedom from the shackles of the outside world. He loves the court because he is free to do what he loves.

For the believer, the deen of Islam is the freedom from the shackles of the world. Ibaadah and seeking knowledge are the things which make him happy and he doesn’t find them burdensome. They are what keep him calm and make him forget about the hostile environment that might be around him.

Now, what if the champion is losing? What if he’s down 2 sets to love and down a break in the third? Well, that fat lady hasn’t started to sing yet* so he’s not out of it. The match will only end after his opponent wins match point. He needs to stop thinking about the current score, and stop getting distracted by bad calls and the crowd, and needs to refocus on the match. He HAS to take things point by point, because each one is important. He can still win but he needs to grind it out and show the heart of a champion.

[*This is a saying in the English language. I’m not condoning music!]

So, what if Ramadan has been a disaster so far? What can one do? Well, as I mentioned earlier, one needs to “gut it out”. Ramadan is only over when the new moon has been sighted. So, even if one only has a few days of Ramadan left, he can still make a “comeback”, have a good Ramadan and get saved from the fire. He needs to stop thinking about the fact hat he might have wasted most of the month and focus on the few remaining days. He needs to squeeze each day for what it’s worth. He can’t afford to waste any day or any hour at this stage. Every hour is important now. He needs to just focus on the ibaadah and not on anything else.

So, how can the champion grind out a win? Well, firstly he needs to believe that he can win. The memory of past matches can inspire a champion and prove to him that he is indeed capable of winning at this stage. Then, he needs to think things through at the changeover. He needs to figure out what he’s doing wrong and then he needs to change his tactics. After that, he needs to go out and apply his new tactics.

How can a person who might have wasted most of Ramadan make it a good month at the end? Firstly, he needs to believe that he still CAN have a good Ramadan (i.e. have good thoughts about Allah). Then, he needs to think of times in the past when his ibaadah was good (his glorious past). That will inspire him to new heights. Then, he need to stop and reflect as to why his Ramadan has been not good so far. After this, he needs to decide what he needs do to improve in these last few days of this great month. Then, he needs to actually implement those changes.

What if the tactics aren’t working? Well, if they seem to be the wrong tactics, then he needs to change tactics again. If it looks likes it might take a while for the match to turn, then he should be patient and keep applying these new tactics until he can cause cracks in his opponent’s armour.

What if his new plans aren’t working? If the new plan is not good, then he needs to change it AGAIN. If it is good, then he should stick with it. He might not feel the changes in a day but perhaps after a few days he’ll feel the impact and realise that his iman (faith) has become a bit stronger.

What if it still isn’t working? Well, a champion dies trying. He needs to motivate himself and keep going until the end even if he loses.

What if the Ramadan isn’t looking any better? Well, a believer gives it his all and he dies trying. Remember the man who killed 99 people? He tried until the end and in doing so, attained Paradise although he didn’t actually finish his task.

So, a believer CANNOT give up. He needs to keep motivating himself until the end, even if things look bleak.

The audience always likes a good effort and they appreciate those who give it their all.

Human beings love the underdogs and they love effort. This is from the mercy that they have. Now what about the Mercy of the Most Merciful? Do you think that Allah will not guide and reward those who are truly sincere and those who are struggling in His cause???

What if he loses? Well, it’s just a game. He’ll have another shot at glory.

What if you end with a disastrous Ramadan? Well, your life is not over. You still have a chance to attain Allah’s Mercy. Ramadan isn’t the only time to do that.

However, the loser doesn’t celebrate at the end, does he?

If you had a bad Ramadan, don’t celebrate Eid as though you had a great Ramadan. Take that time out to think about your life and what changes you need to make.

It’s amazing. How can a person who sinned all throughout Ramadan and another who tried hard to do good during Ramadan both enjoy Eid the same way? They can’t because the winner and loser are not equal.

What if he wins? Well, he can enjoy the win for now (until he needs to get back to work). It’s still a game though.

What if you had a great Ramadan? Okay, you can enjoy Eid. What about after that? You need to get back to work because you need to go on until death. Ramadan isn’t the end.

The entrance to Wimbledon has a verse from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” states:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

A person might have had a bad Ramadan which caused them to wake up and return to the path. Another one might have had a great Ramadan that caused him to get lax and go astray. So, whether we had a good Ramadan or a bad Ramadan, what ultimately matters is how we build on the present to improve in the future. Ultimately, this world is a test. Both the good and the evil are both tests as are hardship and ease.

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ‌ وَالْخَيْرِ‌ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْ‌جَعُونَ

Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned. [Surah Al-Anbiya (21) : 35]

We need to treat them both the same and worship Allah no matter what the situation is.

At the end of the tournament

The Winner

It’s championship point. Silence all around. Serve, return, forehand, backhand. It’s a winner. He’s done it! He sinks to his knees in joy while the crowd cheers. Ah, that winning feeling. It feels amazing, doesn’t it?

[Unlike in Wimbledon, there’s more than one winner in real life, alhamdulillah!]

Doesn’t it feel amazing to have had a great Ramadan, or a great Hajj or even a great day where we worshipped Allah properly?

What’s even more amazing is that this is wonderful feeling is the “little happiness”. The REAL happiness is in the next world.

يَا عِبَادِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ وَلَا أَنتُمْ تَحْزَنُونَ

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَكَانُوا مُسْلِمِينَ

ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ أَنتُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ تُحْبَرُ‌ونَ

يُطَافُ عَلَيْهِم بِصِحَافٍ مِّن ذَهَبٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ ۖ وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ ۖ وَأَنتُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

وَتِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي أُورِ‌ثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُون

لَكُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ كَثِيرَ‌ةٌ مِّنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ

(It will be said to the true believers of Islamic Monotheism): My worshippers! No fear shall be on you this Day, nor shall you grieve. (You) who believed in Our Ayaat (proofs, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were Muslims (i.e. who submit totally to Allah’s Will, and believe in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism). Enter Paradise, you and your wives, in happiness. Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them, (there will be) therein all that the one’s inner-selves could desire, all that the eyes could delight in, and you will abide therein forever. This is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds which you used to do (in the life of the world). Therein for you will be fruits in plenty, of which you will eat (as you desire). [Surah Az-Zukhruf (43) : 68-73]

The winner takes his victory lap (with the trophy, of course).  He then soaks it all in for a few days. After that, he goes back to work, because the season isn’t over yet, nor is his career.

Winning the tournament is not the end, it’s just a step towards greater glory. A real champion needs to build on his win. If he doesn’t, his win might be a “fluke” and he would get labeled a one slam wonder.

Many brothers and sisters have a good Ramadan. Once Eid comes around, they just revert back to their pre-Ramadan selves as if Ramadan had not even happened. The one who had a great Ramadan and does not build upon that should reflect over why this is so.  [Those who only worship Allah in Ramadan should read this post.]

The scholars said that one of the signs that a person’s Ramadan was accepted was that he/she continues to do the good beyond Ramadan.

Allah says:

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّهِمْ رَ‌اجِعُونَ

And those who give that (their charity) which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord (for reckoning). [Surah Al-Muminun (23) : 60]

Who are these people? The following hadeeth tells us:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، زَوْجَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَتْ سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ هَذِهِ الآيَةِ

Aishah (radiallahu anha) the wife of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ” I asked the Messenger of Allah about this ayah (verse):

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ

And those who give that (their charity) which they give with their hearts full of fear….. [Surah Al-Muminun (23) : 60]

قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ أَهُمُ الَّذِينَ يَشْرَبُونَ الْخَمْرَ وَيَسْرِقُونَ

Aishah said: “Are they those who drink wine and steal?” He said: “No, O daughter of As-Siddiq. They are those who fast, pray, give charity while they fear that their Lord will not accept it from them.”

أُولَـٰئِكَ يُسَارِ‌عُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَ‌اتِ وَهُمْ لَهَا سَابِقُونَ

It is these who race for the good deeds, and they are foremost in them. [Surah Al-Muminun (23) : 61]

[Jaami At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3175. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

So, one should never be certain that one’s deeds are accepted, rather one should ask Allah to accept one’s deeds and hope that they have been accepted.

After all, Ibrahim (alaihissalam) and Ismail (alaihissalam), two Prophets, asked Allah to accept their good deed, which in this case was building the Kabah!

وَإِذْ يَرْ‌فَعُ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَ‌بَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

“And (remember) when Ibrahim and (his son) Ismail were raising the foundations of the House (the Kabah at Makkah), (saying), “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 127]

Also, the one who has done lots of ibaadah (worship) should never take it easy, rather they need to continue doing good deeds.

Until when, you ask?

وَاعْبُدْ رَ‌بَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

“And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” [Surah Al-Hijr (15) : 99]

We need to keep doing the good deeds until death. This is “istiqaamah” (steadfastness).

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَ‌بُّنَا اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is (only) Allah,” and thereafter Istaqaamoo (i.e. stood firm and straight on the Islamic Faith of Monotheism by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden and by performing all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained), on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be the dwellers of Paradise, abiding therein (forever), a reward for what they used to do. [Surah Al-Ahqaf (46) : 13-14]

A win gives one the confidence to keep going.

Many people don’t believe that they can be good slaves of Allah. However, after they’ve had a good Ramadan, they realise that it is possible so this becomes a fuel for them to continue beyond Ramadan.

This is because the good only leads to more good. It’s a wonderful circle.

[Sins however lead to more sins. That’s a vicious circle.]

However, the winner shouldn’t get amazed at oneself or get arrogant. It’s easy to get swayed away by the praise. “The greatest ever!” scream the papers.

If one has had an amazing Ramadan, then one should praise Allah, not get amazed at oneself. This is something that every single one of us should be wary of us: arrogance and self-amazement.

Arrogance (kibr) is believing oneself to be better than others. Ujb (self-amazement) is being amazed at all that one has done and seeing it as something great. Both of these traits are something that a true believer should NOT possess.

عَنِ الْحَارِثِ بْنِ سُوَيْدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، حَدِيثَيْنِ أَحَدُهُمَا عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَالآخَرُ عَنْ نَفْسِهِ، قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ يَرَى ذُنُوبَهُ كَأَنَّهُ قَاعِدٌ تَحْتَ جَبَلٍ يَخَافُ أَنْ يَقَعَ عَلَيْهِ، وَإِنَّ الْفَاجِرَ يَرَى ذُنُوبَهُ كَذُبَابٍ مَرَّ عَلَى أَنْفِهِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ بِهِ هَكَذَا قَالَ أَبُو شِهَابٍ بِيَدِهِ فَوْقَ أَنْفِهِ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏:‏ لَلَّهُ أَفْرَحُ بِتَوْبَةِ عَبْدِهِ مِنْ رَجُلٍ نَزَلَ مَنْزِلاً، وَبِهِ مَهْلَكَةٌ، وَمَعَهُ رَاحِلَتُهُ عَلَيْهَا طَعَامُهُ وَشَرَابُهُ، فَوَضَعَ رَأْسَهُ فَنَامَ نَوْمَةً، فَاسْتَيْقَظَ وَقَدْ ذَهَبَتْ رَاحِلَتُهُ، حَتَّى اشْتَدَّ عَلَيْهِ الْحَرُّ وَالْعَطَشُ أَوْ مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ، قَالَ أَرْجِعُ إِلَى مَكَانِي‏.‏ فَرَجَعَ فَنَامَ نَوْمَةً، ثُمَّ رَفَعَ رَأْسَهُ، فَإِذَا رَاحِلَتُهُ عِنْدَهُ ‏

Narrated Al-Harith bin Suwaid: Abdullah bin Masood (radiallahu anhu) related to us two narrations: One from the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the other from himself, saying: A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which, he is afraid, may fall on him; whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drives them away like this.” Abu Shihab (the sub-narrator) moved his hand over his nose in illustration. Allah’s Messenger said, “Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a man who encamps at a place where his life is jeopardized, but he has his riding beast carrying his food and water. He then rests his head and sleeps for a short while and wakes to find his riding beast gone. (He starts looking for it) and suffers from severe heat and thirst or what Allah wished (him to suffer from). He then says, ‘I will go back to my place.’ He returns and sleeps again, and then (getting up), he raises his head to find his riding beast standing beside him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 320]

When one does many good deeds, Shaytan (the devil) attacks in many ways, two of them being kibr and ujb, so one needs to seek refuge in Allah from them.

The Losers

So who celebrates at the end of the tournament? Obviously, it’s just the winner and not the runner up or those that lost early. Imagine one’s surprise if the losers were to celebrate after the tournament!

So Eid comes around, and everyone looks happy. One can understand the joy on the faces of those who had a good Ramadan, but what about the joy on the faces of those that had a bad Ramadan? What about the joy on the faces of the people who couldn’t even manage to pray 5 times a day in Ramadan? Does that make sense? No, it really doesn’t. If the person who had a bad Ramadan was truly devastated, he/she wouldn’t be this happy on Eid.

[Here’s a really amazing article on this issue.]

Of course, being a runner up isn’t all that bad, especially if he hadn’t been in form coming into the tournament.  However, he would still feel the sting of having lost and would want to improve on his performance next year.

If one’s Ramadan went better than one expected, than one should take heart from that and use that as motivation. However, one should always strive to have a better Ramadan the following year.

Note: Sometimes trying is the same as winning. Someone could try to get something and not get there but they might get the intended result. An example of this is the man who killed 99 people. He wanted to repent and so was told to migrate. He died before reaching the new land but he made it to Paradise anyway.

A real champion strives to recover from his loss.

Anyone can give up. However, a believer does not. He keeps going. If he has an setbacks, he tries to use that as a push to get better. [Remember the two kinds of people?]

Should the loser throw in the towel because he lost? No, obviously not. There are other tournaments to be played and his career isn’t over yet.

Some people get so devastated with a bad Ramadan, or bad Hajj or any sort of setback, that they just give up. And this is completely wrong. A person has until their death to rectify themselves. Of course, that could be today or twenty years from now, nobody knows. What one should do is to strive to do good deeds before death so as to improve one’s standing in the hereafter.

What he needs to do is to go home and analyze why he lost, as well as consult those around him. Was it mental  issues or was it a weakness in his game? He then need to fix those problems, step by step.

So, what was the reason for the bad Ramadan? Was it waswasa (whispers) from Shaytan (the devil), lack of fear of Allah, lack of ibaadah (worship), etc? One cannot fix a problem if he/she does not know what it is!

One of the main reasons for problems is one’s own sins. [It’s our own fault, remember?] So, one needs to do plenty of istighfar (seek forgiveness), strive to seek knowledge and also consult the people of knowledge about his/her issue. After this, one needs to work on fixing the problem, step by step.

Was he not prepared enough? Or did he lose to a better player?

There are two reasons why things don’t go the way we want them to.

The first reason is because we didn’t do enough. So, for example, if the Ramadan didn’t go well, it might have been because we didn’t prepare for it properly or we overdid it the first few days. These are the type of the things that we can and should improve.

The second reason is that we don’t have control over what happens. Thing which displease us may happen and we have to accept them and submit to Allah’s Will. For example, many women are devastated that they cannot go for night prayers in the last 10 days due to menstruation. They have no control over this situation so they should realise that this is a test from Allah and strive to be content with His decree.

Another example would be illness. I fell ill TWICE in the last ten days of Ramadan a few years ago. I couldn’t believe it at the time. Fall ill in Ramadan? In the last ten days? Twice? Unbelievable! It was definitely an eye opener.

The loser shouldn’t console himself with words like: “If things had gone a bit differently I might have won.” That isn’t the right way to go about doing things.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ احْرِصْ عَلَى مَا يَنْفَعُكَ وَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَلاَ تَعْجِزْ وَإِنْ أَصَابَكَ شَىْءٌ فَلاَ تَقُلْ لَوْ أَنِّي فَعَلْتُ كَانَ كَذَا وَكَذَا ‏.‏ وَلَكِنْ قُلْ قَدَرُ اللَّهِ وَمَا شَاءَ فَعَلَ فَإِنَّ لَوْ تَفْتَحُ عَمَلَ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏”

Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) reported Allah’s Messenger (sallalallahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: “A strong believer is better and more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone. Abide by that which gives you benefit (in the Hereafter) and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say: If I had done so and so, such and such would have occurred, but say: Allah decreed and He did what He willed. For verily, “if” opens the (gate for) work of the Shaytan (Satan).” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 6441]

If we had a bad Ramadan, we need to just accept our mistakes and move on. The past is to be learnt from so that one can use these lessons to work in the present so that one has a good future. [I hope that made sense.]

Of course, a loser shouldn’t give up. Sometimes, a loss is the turning point in one’s career.

We never know what is good for us.

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ‌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ‌ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) :216]

[Ironically, one of the greatest Wimbledon champions credits the turning point of his career as being a loss in the finals of a grand slam event!]

[Ironically, one of the turning points in my life came about due to a bad Ramadan.]

Regardless of whether one is a winner or a loser, one should not look back, rather one should look ahead.

Regardless of whether one has had an easy life or a difficult one, a bad Ramadan or a good Ramadan, etc, one needs to continue being obedient to Allah.

عَنْ صُهَيْبٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ عَجَبًا لأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لأَحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ ‏”

Suhaib (radiallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 7138]

The Rest of the Season

There are four types of tennis players:

The first type wins at big and small events and is consistent throughout the year.

The second type only does well at the big events and loses early at the smaller tournaments.

The third type only does well at the smaller tournaments but cannot bring it to the table at the big events.

The fourth type does not do well at either small or big events.

Obviously, every tennis player should strive to be the first type.

In terms of consistency, there are four types of Muslims:

The first type does lots of ibaadah in the big moments like Ramadan and Hajj and also in the other months of the year.

The second type only does ibaadah in Hajj and Ramadan but is found lacking the rest of the year.

The third type worships Allah at normal times but doesn’t significantly increase their ibaadah in Ramadan or Hajj, so these big moments seem like the rest of the year.

The fourth type doesn’t really worship Allah in Ramadan and Hajj or outside of them. Obviously, this is the worst of the lot.

Obviously, every Muslim should strive to be the first type.

How a tennis player, who did well at Wimbledon, does in the rest of the year tells us whether his results at Wimbledon were a fluke or the real thing.

As mentioned earlier, the sign that a believer’s Ramadan was accepted is that he continues doing good deeds after Ramadan.

Tennis has different types of surfaces like grass, clay, hard-court and carpet. Also, there are indoor tournaments  as well as outdoor ones. All of these make a difference in which the way the game is played as the ball rises on some surfaces and doesn’t rise as much on others. Also, the wind is a factor.

Also, a player will meet different opponents from match to match as there are hundreds of active players. In order to be great, he needs to be able to win across all surfaces, both indoors and outdoors, and against a variety of opponents. His year end ranking depends on him being consistent throughout the year.

 The great players play well across all surfaces and all conditions. The greater a player, the greater his versatility and his consistency, and the more he will be able to conquer his enemies. Therefore, these different elements show us who is really the cream of the crop rather than a pretender.

Islam has many different acts of worship. Some of them are internal (i.e. acts of the heart) and others are external (i.e. acts of the limbs). Some are done only at certain times of year (e.g. fasting in Ramadan) whereas others are done throughout the year (e.g. prayer). Some are very short (e.g. saying subhan Allah) and others are very long (e.g. the eclipse prayer). Some can be done by oneself (e.g. fasting) whereas others are done in conjunction with others (e.g. giving charity, keeping family relations, etc). A person’s iman depends on doing good deeds consistently. Also, there are different trials faced by a person e.g. bad boss, health issues, debt, etc.

The higher a person is in iman, the greater his versatility (in terms of doing different deeds) and his consistency. A great example of that would be Abu Bakr (radiallahu anhu) who was the greatest person of this Ummah (nation) after the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ مَنْ أَنْفَقَ زَوْجَيْنِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ نُودِيَ مِنْ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ، هَذَا خَيْرٌ‏.‏ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصَّلاَةِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الصَّلاَةِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجِهَادِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الْجِهَادِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصِّيَامِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الرَّيَّانِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الصَّدَقَةِ دُعِيَ مِنْ باب الصَّدَقَةِ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ بِأَبِي أَنْتَ وَأُمِّي يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، مَا عَلَى مَنْ دُعِيَ مِنْ تِلْكَ الأَبْوَابِ مِنْ ضَرُورَةٍ، فَهَلْ يُدْعَى أَحَدٌ مِنْ تِلْكَ الأَبْوَابِ كُلِّهَا قَالَ ‏”‏ نَعَمْ‏.‏ وَأَرْجُو أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever gives two kinds (of things or property) in charity for Allah’s Cause, will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, ‘O slaves of Allah! Here is prosperity.’ So, whoever was amongst the people who used to offer their prayers, will be called from the gate of the prayer; and whoever was amongst the people who used to participate in Jihad, will be called from the gate of Jihad; and whoever was amongst those who used to observe fasts, will be called from the gate of Rayyan; whoever was amongst those who used to give in charity, will be called from the gate of charity.” Abu Bakr said, “Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Messenger! No distress or need will befall him who will be called from those gates. Will there be any one who will be called from all these gates?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadeeth No. 121]

Also, the higher a person is in iman, the more he will be able to face (and pass) trials and tribulations. Therefore, these different acts of worship and trials show us who is really a believer rather than a person who is just paying lip service to Islam.

Surah Al-Ankabut starts like this:

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَ‌كُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِين

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.  And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). [Surah Al-Ankabut (29) : 2-3]

And ends like this:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinoon (good doers). [Surah Al-Ankabut (29) : 69]

And interestingly enough, the whole surah is about trials and tribulations. [There’s a really fantastic explanation of this surah entitled: Life is a Fitnah]

The greater the player the more the pressure to succeed and the more the other players will attempt to win so as to get that “scalp”.

As I mentioned earlier on this article, the believers will be tested. The more righteous a person, the more he is tested, and the more he is rewarded as a result.

عَنْ سَعْدِ بْنِ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ ‏ “‏ الأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الأَمْثَلُ فَالأَمْثَلُ يُبْتَلَى الْعَبْدُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلاَؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلاَءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الأَرْضِ وَمَا عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَطِيئَةٍ ‏”

Saad ibn Abee Waqqas (radiallahu anhu) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him.’” [Sunan ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4023. Graded “hasan sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُ الْعُقُوبَةَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّ أَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ‏”‏ ‏
وَبِهَذَا الإِسْنَادِ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ عِظَمَ الْجَزَاءِ مَعَ عِظَمِ الْبَلاَءِ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ إِذَا أَحَبَّ قَوْمًا ابْتَلاَهُمْ فَمَنْ رَضِيَ فَلَهُ الرِّضَا وَمَنْ سَخِطَ فَلَهُ السَّخَطُ ‏”‏ ‏

Anas (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “When Allah wants good for his slave, He hastens his punishment in the world. And when He wants bad for His slave, He withholds his sins from him until he appears before Him on the Day of Judgement.”

And with this (same) chain, (it was reported) from the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) who said: “Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials, so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath.” [Jaami At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2396. The first narration was graded “hasan sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani and the second one was graded “hasan” (good).]

The different surfaces and conditions don’t just show us who the great players are, rather they also help all the other players play to their strengths. How so? Well, most players have a preferred surface that they like to play on so that they can accumulate points from tournaments that are held on those surfaces. This way, they can use their strengths to their advantage. Had there been a uniform surface and no change in conditions, players with different strengths would have been at a great disadvantage.

For example, players with games suited to fast surfaces would suffer in a tour with only clay tournaments. However, because the tour offers grass, carpet and fast indoor hardcourts, they can use these to leverage their strengths.

The different acts of worship don’t just show us who the great believers are, rather they also help all the other believers play to their strengths. How so? Well, most people have a preferred act of worship that they like to do and/or that they are good at. If they increased in those acts of worship, they could increase in reward.  This way, they can use their strengths to their advantage. Had there been only one act of worship, people with different strengths would have been at a great disadvantage.

For example, people who find it difficult to do many voluntary prayers (they have to do the obligatory ones obviously) would have suffered if the only act of worship available was prayer. However, because Allah, out of His Wisdom and Mercy, has given us many different ways to worship Him and attain His Pleasure, a person is not restricted to only one voluntary act of worship (e.g. prayer) but rather can choose from many different ones that he finds easy for him e.g. voluntary fasting, giving charity, going for Umrah, showing good manners, dhikr (remembrance), dua (supplication), seeking knowledge, reciting the Quran, etc.

[Note: I said voluntary and not obligatory because we HAVE to do the obligatory acts, regardless of whether we find them difficult or not.]

The great players don’t just focus on Wimbledon, rather they also take advantage of the other big occasions. like the other three grand slams, the Olympics, the year end championships and the top-tier tournaments.

A believer who understands his religion will never only focus just on Ramadan, rather he will take advantage of all the other “special” times e.g. Dhul Hijjah, Aashoora, etc.

Part of the reason that players focus on the whole season and not just Wimbledon is because they are not allowed to pick and choose tournaments as they wish. In order to not get penalised, they need to play all the big tournaments and also a certain amount of small tournaments. So, every player, regardless of how great they are, needs to play by the rules.

Allah has sent down the Sharia (Islamic Law) as a whole. We cannot pick and choose the parts that we want and reject the rest. We need to accept ALL of it, otherwise we risk getting punished by Allah.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 208]

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ لَا تَسْفِكُونَ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَلَا تُخْرِجُونَ أَنفُسَكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ ثُمَّ أَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ

ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَتُخْرِجُونَ فَرِيقًا مِّنكُم مِّن دِيَارِهِمْ تَظَاهَرُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِالْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَإِن يَأْتُوكُمْ أُسَارَىٰ تُفَادُوهُمْ وَهُوَ مُحَرَّمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ إِخْرَاجُهُمْ ۚ أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ ۚ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَن يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالْآخِرَةِ ۖ فَلَا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not the blood of your people, nor turn out your own people from their dwellings. Then, (this) you ratified and (to this) you bear witness.  After this, it is you who kill one another and drive out a party of you from their homes, assist (their enemies) against them, in sin and transgression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their expulsion was forbidden to you. Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. Those are they who have bought the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter. Their torment shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped. [Al-Baqarah (2) : 84-86]

So, in order not to get punished we need to apply the five pillars of Islam and then do the other obligatory acts. This is something that the great believers like the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) did and this is what every believer is required to do, without exception.

Just a note: Accepting everything doesn’t mean that we have to apply each and every aspect of Islam. Yes, that would be great but that is very difficult for many people. So we need to accept that all of it is from Allah and that it is the truth, and try to do as much of it as we can, starting with the obligatory duties.

As mentioned above, all players, including the great ones, are required to play the smaller tournaments. Not only do the great players play them regularly, but they win them regularly too, despite having to do this for many weeks of the year. The fact that they show this kind of  high level day in and day out is what makes them so special.

As mentioned above, all believers are required to accept all of Islam and practice it as much as they can. Not only do the great believers try to apply all of Islam but they do this consistently and at a high level, despite having to do this for EVERY week of the year and every day in fact. The fact that they have this high level day in and day out is what makes them so special in the sight of Allah.

An example of this would be the people of the household of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرٌ وَكَانَ يُحَجِّرُهُ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهِ فَجَعَلَ النَّاسُ يُصَلُّونَ بِصَلاَتِهِ وَيَبْسُطُهُ بِالنَّهَارِ فَثَابُوا ذَاتَ لَيْلَةٍ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنَ الأَعْمَالِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَا دُووِمَ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَكَانَ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا عَمِلُوا عَمَلاً أَثْبَتُوهُ ‏.‏

Aishah (radiallahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had a mat and he used it for making an apartment during the night and observed prayer in it, and the people began to pray with him, and he spread it (the mat) during the day time. The people crowded round him one night. He (the Prophet) then said: “O people, perform such acts as you are capable of doing, for Allah does not grow weary but you will get tired. The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small.” And it was the habit of the members of Muhammad’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) household that whenever they did an act they did it continuously. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1710]

So, the best deeds are those which are done continuously and this is what distinguishes the great believers from the average ones.

It isn’t just the tournaments overall that the great players play at a high level rather nearly all their matches are also played at a high level. That’s what causes them to shine above the rest because anyone can play a great match once in a while but not everyone can keep up that high level on a consistent basis.

The great believers don’t just do many good deeds, they also do them with ihsan (proficiency). That what makes them shine above the rest in the sight of Allah, because anyone can have a great few days of ibaadah but not everyone can keep up that high level on a consistent basis.

Ihsan is something that we ALL should strive to attain:

عَنْ شَدَّادِ بْنِ أَوْسٍ، قَالَ ثِنْتَانِ حَفِظْتُهُمَا عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ : إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَتَبَ الإِحْسَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ فَإِذَا قَتَلْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الْقِتْلَةَ وَإِذَا ذَبَحْتُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا الذَّبْحَ وَلْيُحِدَّ أَحَدُكُمْ شَفْرَتَهُ فَلْيُرِحْ ذَبِيحَتَهُ ‏.‏

Shaddaad ibn Aws (radiallahu anhu) said: Two are the things which I remember the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) having said: “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 4810]

One of the ways to achieve ihsan is to make sure that one is sincerely doing the deed for the sake of Allah. Another way is to make sure that the deed is being done according to the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)).

A tennis player doesn’t just play for himself or herself. He or she also needs to play for his or her nation in big tournaments like the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Olympics, and also some smaller tournaments like the Hopman Cup. So tennis isn’t just a solo game, it’s also a team game.

A believer doesn’t just focus on himself or herself. He or she also needs to help out his or her brothers and sisters in Islam by giving charity, enjoining good (the most important good being tawheed) and forbidding evil (the worst evil being shirk), etc. Prayer in congregation, itikaf and Hajj are also times when one needs to behave well with one’s fellow Muslims. So Islam isn’t just about looking out for oneself. It’s also about looking out for our fellow Muslims as well. We are one Ummah after all.

إِنَّ هَـٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

Truly! This, your Ummah [Sharia or religion (Islâmic Monotheism)] is one religion, and I am your Lord, therefore worship Me (Alone). [Surah Al-Anbiya (21):92]

وَإِنَّ هَـٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ

And verily! This your religion (of Islâmic Monotheism) is one religion, and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me. [Surah Al-Muminun (23) : 52]

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.” [Surah Al-Hujurat (49) : 10]

عَنْ النُّعْمَانَ بْنَ بَشِيرٍ، يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَوَادِّهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ الْجَسَدِ إِذَا اشْتَكَى عُضْوًا تَدَاعَى لَهُ سَائِرُ جَسَدِهِ بِالسَّهَرِ وَالْحُمَّى ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated An-Numan ibn Bashir (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 40]

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ حَقُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ سِتٌّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قِيلَ مَا هُنَّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏”‏ إِذَا لَقِيتَهُ فَسَلِّمْ عَلَيْهِ وَإِذَا دَعَاكَ فَأَجِبْهُ وَإِذَا اسْتَنْصَحَكَ فَانْصَحْ لَهُ وَإِذَا عَطَسَ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ فَسَمِّتْهُ وَإِذَا مَرِضَ فَعُدْهُ وَإِذَا مَاتَ فَاتَّبِعْهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) reported Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: Six are the rights of a Muslim over another Muslim. It was said to him: Allah’s Messenger, what are these? Thereupon he said: When you meet him, offer him greetings;when he invites you to a feast accept it. when he seeks your council give him, and when he sneezes and says:” All praise is due to Allah,” you say Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah show mercy to you) ; and when he fails ill visit him; and when he dies follow his bier. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 5379]

Please note though that good manners, honest transactions and fulfillment of rights (e.g. family, neighbours, guests, etc) are also due to non-Muslims.

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity. [Surah Al-Mumtahinah (60) : 8]

Also, please note there is NO place for nationalism in Islam. This article on the Evils of Nationalism is a must read.

All seasons have other grand slams, so it’s not enough for a tennis player to relax after Wimbledon. After all, soon after that comes the US Open. Also, the Olympics occur every four years and so are a rare opportunity that a tennis player needs to take advantage of, if he is chosen, and be ready for so he can win a medal for his country.

Every Islamic year has other “special” times so a believer cannot relax after Ramadan. After all, soon after that comes Dhul Hijjah which contains the ten best days of the year, including Arafah.

Also, though Hajj occurs every year, not many people can go more than once in a lifetime so this is a rare opportunity that a believer needs to take advantage of, if he is able to go, and  be ready for so that he can fulfill one of the five pillars of his religion.

The Olympics also offers a tennis player a chance to meet all the different athletes playing in the Games. This is not something that happens very often so he should talk to as many people as possible in order to see things from a different perspective.

Hajj also offers a believer a chance to meet Muslims from all across the globe. This is not something that happens very often (not unless you live in Dubai anyway) so he should make sure to talk to as many people as possible in order to see things from a different perspective.

Finally, the year ends and it’s time for the off season, except that there is no real off season. The whole purpose of this time is to refresh oneself, and recharge in order to get ready for the upcoming season.

Finally, the year ends and…then what? Time for rest? No. It’s time to recharge for the new year ahead. One needs to worship Allah until death.

وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death). [Surah Al-Hijr (15) : 99]

However, one should realise that rest itself can be turned into an act of worship.

عَنْ أَبِي بُرْدَةَ، قَالَ بَعَثَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَبَا مُوسَى وَمُعَاذَ بْنَ جَبَلٍ إِلَى الْيَمَنِ، قَالَ وَبَعَثَ كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا عَلَى مِخْلاَفٍ قَالَ وَالْيَمَنُ مِخْلاَفَانِ ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏ “‏ يَسِّرَا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرَا، وَبَشِّرَا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرَا ‏”‏‏.‏ فَانْطَلَقَ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا إِلَى عَمَلِهِ، وَكَانَ كُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمَا إِذَا سَارَ فِي أَرْضِهِ كَانَ قَرِيبًا مِنْ صَاحِبِهِ أَحْدَثَ بِهِ عَهْدًا، فَسَلَّمَ عَلَيْهِ، فَسَارَ مُعَاذٌ فِي أَرْضِهِ قَرِيبًا مِنْ صَاحِبِهِ أَبِي مُوسَى، فَجَاءَ يَسِيرُ عَلَى بَغْلَتِهِ حَتَّى انْتَهَى إِلَيْهِ، وَإِذَا هُوَ جَالِسٌ، وَقَدِ اجْتَمَعَ إِلَيْهِ النَّاسُ، وَإِذَا رَجُلٌ عِنْدَهُ قَدْ جُمِعَتْ يَدَاهُ إِلَى عُنُقِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ مُعَاذٌ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ قَيْسٍ، أَيَّمَ هَذَا قَالَ هَذَا رَجُلٌ كَفَرَ بَعْدَ إِسْلاَمِهِ‏.‏ قَالَ لاَ أَنْزِلُ حَتَّى يُقْتَلَ‏.‏ قَالَ إِنَّمَا جِيءَ بِهِ لِذَلِكَ فَانْزِلْ‏.‏ قَالَ مَا أَنْزِلُ حَتَّى يُقْتَلَ فَأَمَرَ بِهِ فَقُتِلَ ثُمَّ نَزَلَ فَقَالَ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ، كَيْفَ تَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ قَالَ أَتَفَوَّقُهُ تَفَوُّقًا‏.‏ قَالَ فَكَيْفَ تَقْرَأُ أَنْتَ يَا مُعَاذُ قَالَ أَنَامُ أَوَّلَ اللَّيْلِ فَأَقُومُ وَقَدْ قَضَيْتُ جُزْئِي مِنَ النَّوْمِ، فَأَقْرَأُ مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لِي، فَأَحْتَسِبُ نَوْمَتِي كَمَا أَحْتَسِبُ قَوْمَتِي

Abu Burdah (radiallahu anhu) narrated: *Then Muadh dismounted and said, “O Abdullah (ibn Qais)! How do you recite the Quran?” Abu Musa said, “I recite the Qur’an regularly at intervals and piecemeal. How do you recite it O Muadh?” Muadh said, “I sleep in the first part of the night and then get up after having slept for the time devoted for my sleep and then recite as much as Allah has written for me. So I seek Allah’s Reward for both my sleep as well as my prayer (at night).” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Hadeeth 630. *This is a long hadeeth but only the relevant portion has been added]

So, the whole purpose of rest is that one gets ready to do even more good deeds.

The Rest of the Career

At the beginning of the next season, the great tennis players are already thinking about the upcoming Wimbledon and planning their days.

The Salaf (early generations) would pray six months in advance that they would get Ramadan. They were already preparing for it ahead of time, and this is what we need to do as well.

My masjid’s imam (also one of my teachers) made a very interesting point this past Ramadan. He said we need to ask Allah to increase our lifespans so that we make it to another Ramadan. However, at the same time, we should not be attached to this world and should look forward to the meeting with Allah.

One Ramadan can make a huge difference to one’s level in the Hereafter:

عَنْ طَلْحَةَ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّ رَجُلَيْنِ، مِنْ بَلِيٍّ قَدِمَا عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَكَانَ إِسْلاَمُهُمَا جَمِيعًا فَكَانَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَشَدَّ اجْتِهَادًا مِنَ الآخَرِ فَغَزَا الْمُجْتَهِدُ مِنْهُمَا فَاسْتُشْهِدَ ثُمَّ مَكَثَ الآخَرُ بَعْدَهُ سَنَةً ثُمَّ تُوُفِّيَ ‏.‏ قَالَ طَلْحَةُ فَرَأَيْتُ فِي الْمَنَامِ بَيْنَا أَنَا عِنْدَ بَابِ الْجَنَّةِ إِذَا أَنَا بِهِمَا فَخَرَجَ خَارِجٌ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ فَأَذِنَ لِلَّذِي تُوُفِّيَ الآخِرَ مِنْهُمَا ثُمَّ خَرَجَ فَأَذِنَ لِلَّذِي اسْتُشْهِدَ ثُمَّ رَجَعَ إِلَىَّ فَقَالَ ارْجِعْ فَإِنَّكَ لَمْ يَأْنِ لَكَ بَعْدُ ‏.‏ فَأَصْبَحَ طَلْحَةُ يُحَدِّثُ بِهِ النَّاسَ فَعَجِبُوا لِذَلِكَ فَبَلَغَ ذَلِكَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏.‏ وَحَدَّثُوهُ الْحَدِيثَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مِنْ أَىِّ ذَلِكَ تَعْجَبُونَ ‏”‏ فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَذَا كَانَ أَشَدَّ الرَّجُلَيْنِ اجْتِهَادًا ثُمَّ اسْتُشْهِدَ وَدَخَلَ هَذَا الآخِرُ الْجَنَّةَ قَبْلَهُ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏”‏ أَلَيْسَ قَدْ مَكَثَ هَذَا بَعْدَهُ سَنَةً ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا بَلَى ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏: وَأَدْرَكَ رَمَضَانَ فَصَامَهُ وَصَلَّى كَذَا وَكَذَا مِنْ سَجْدَةٍ فِي السَّنَةِ‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا بَلَى قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏‏ فَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا أَبْعَدُ مِمَّا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ ‏ ‏

It was narrated from Talhah ibn Ubaidillah (radiallahu anhu) that two men from Bali came to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). They had become Muslim together, but one of them used to strive harder than the other. The one who used to strive harder went out to fight and was martyred. The other one stayed for a year longer, then he passed away. Talhah said: “I saw in a dream that I was at the gate of Paradise and I saw them (those two men). Someone came out of Paradise and admitted the one who had died last, then he came out and admitted the one who had been martyred. Then he came back to me and said: ‘Go back, for your time has not yet come.’” The next morning, Talhah told the people of that and they were amazed. News of that reached the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and they told him the story. He said: “Why are you so amazed at that?” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, the first one was the one who strove harder, then he was martyred, but the other one was admitted to Paradise before him. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Did he not stay behind for a year?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “And did not Ramadan come and he fasted, and he offered such and such prayers during that year?” They said: “Yes.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The difference between them is greater than the difference between heaven and earth.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 3925. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

In order to keep improving his game, a tennis player needs to keep practicing, so that this pays off in tough matches.

In order to keep improving his iman, a believer needs to keep focusing on his ibaadah, so that he is protected at the time of trials from falling into misguidance.

Every player needs to put in the hard work in order to get the results. Also, one should try to win them all. Losses should lead to a sense of dissatisfaction and a longing to get better.

Every Muslim needs to put in the hard work in order to get the results. That “hard work” is worshipping Allah day in and day out.

Also, one should try to do apply as much of the Sunnah as possible. If one isn’t able to apply a Sunnah or regresses in their ibaadah, there should a sense of dissatisfaction (with oneself, not with Allah!) and a longing to get better.

However, it should be noted that tawfeeq (guidance) from Allah is also needed in order to improve. And the reality is that Allah guides the sincere ones, so each of us needs to make sure that we are sincere to Him.

The great tennis players wins always revolve around a core strength. In fact, no player became great without a core strength.

The great believers always have a core strength too: their ibaadah. While ibaadah means any good deed of the limbs or heart which Allah loves, here I’m specifically referring to the main acts such as tawheed, prayer, giving charity, fasting, seeking knowledge and spending time with the Quran.

This is the core strength of each and every great believer, because no believer can become great without it. These cause one to get closer to Allah and also preserve one’s iman in the times of trials.

Also, many believers have a particular ibaadah that they are really good at e.g. some are very good at voluntary fasting, others with tahajjud, etc. So, each person should strive to have a strength in terms of their acts of worship.

Every season, a great tennis player tries to defend the titles that he won the previous season. He also strives to improve at the tournaments that he did not do well in. Every year, he aims to do better than the previous year. So year by year, his standards keep increasing and he attempts to become a better, more complete player. He uses various milestones (like the important tournaments) to keep his motivation going. This way, he keeps improving all the time.

Every year, a great believer tries to continue what he did the previous year. He also strives to improve in areas in which he didn’t do well.

So, for example, someone who had a great Ramadan would attempt to at least have the same level this year, if not better. Someone who had a bad Dhul Hijjah the previous year, would try to make sure that this year would be different.

Every year, he aims to do better than the previous year (i.e. become closer to Allah). So year by year, his standards keep increasing and he attempts to become a better, more complete Muslim, one that applies the various sunnahs throughout his day and life. He uses various milestones (like Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah) to keep his motivation going. This way, he keeps improving all the time.

I had written a post on my older blog on how to actually improve one’s level: The upper and the lower limits.

Remember, there’s always a first (e.g. Pete Sampras was the first man to win 14 grand slams). That’s what every great tennis player should try to do: strive to be the first and set new standards.

Remember, there’s always a first (e.g. Khadijah (radiallahu anha) was the first woman to embrace Islam). That’s what every great believer should strive to do: strive to be the first and set new standards.

Now, I should point out something here. When I say “the first”, it does not mean in absolute terms, but rather in terms of surroundings. So, in a city where there are no Muslims, the person who first embraces Islam there (or the first Muslim who moves there) would be “the first”. In a school where no girls wear hijab (the veil), the girl who first wears it there would be “the first”. So, “the first” would be with regards to a certain time, place or action because the absolute “firsts” are the Prophets (alaihimissalm) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum).

As for setting new standards, this is also not in the absolute sense  but again with regards to a certain time, place or action. So, in a place where no one has memorised the Quran, the first person to to so would set a new standard. However, in a place where there are many memorisers of the Quran, this would not be a new standard. That might be something like getting a sanad (chain) or memorising all ten recitations of the Quran. [The topic of recitations of the Quran is another issues altogether. In shaa Allah, I hope to have a post in the future talking about it.]

As for the absolute standard, that was set by the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). He is the leader of the children of Adam (alaihissalam) and his guidance is the best guidance, so there is no standard above the one that he has set.

The great champions aren’t just competing against their own generation but also against the great players of the past. They want to be up there with the best.

The great believers don’t want to just be the best slaves of Allah in their own time, rather they want to be at a level that is close to the early generations.

Now, the early generations are the foremost ones. i.e those who are nearest to Allah. No one can be at that level in terms of worship.

However, in the best news of the day, some of us CAN be of the foremost ones in terms of the hereafter.

وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ

أُولَـٰئِكَ الْمُقَرَّ‌بُونَ

فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ

ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ

وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِ‌ينَ

And those foremost [(in Islamic Faith of Monotheism and in performing righteous deeds) in the life of this world on the very first call for to embrace Islam,] will be foremost (in Paradise). These will be those nearest (to Allah). In the Gardens of delight (Paradise).  A multitude of those (foremost) will be from the first generations (who embraced Islam). And a few of those (foremost) will be from the later time (generations). [Surah Al-Waqiah (56) : 10-14]

We’ve been ordered to ask for the highest level of Paradise.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَبِرَسُولِهِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلاَةَ وَصَامَ رَمَضَانَ، كَانَ حَقًّا عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُدْخِلَهُ الْجَنَّةَ جَاهَدَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ، أَوْ جَلَسَ فِي أَرْضِهِ الَّتِي وُلِدَ فِيهَا ‏”‏‏.‏ فَقَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفَلاَ نُبَشِّرُ النَّاسَ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ مِائَةَ دَرَجَةٍ أَعَدَّهَا اللَّهُ لِلْمُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ، مَا بَيْنَ الدَّرَجَتَيْنِ كَمَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ، فَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُ اللَّهَ فَاسْأَلُوهُ الْفِرْدَوْسَ، فَإِنَّهُ أَوْسَطُ الْجَنَّةِ وَأَعْلَى الْجَنَّةِ، أُرَاهُ فَوْقَهُ عَرْشُ الرَّحْمَنِ، وَمِنْهُ تَفَجَّرُ أَنْهَارُ الْجَنَّةِ ‏‏‏.‏ قَالَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فُلَيْحٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ ‏”‏ وَفَوْقَهُ عَرْشُ الرَّحْمَنِ ‏

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger, offer prayer perfectly and fasts the month of Ramadan, will rightfully be granted Paradise by Allah, no matter whether he fights in Allah’s Cause or remains in the land where he is born.” The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger ! Shall we acquaint the people with the is good news?” He said, “Paradise has one-hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahideen who fight in His Cause, and the distance between each of two grades is like the distance between the Heaven and the Earth. So, when you ask Allah (for something), ask for Al-Firdaus which is the best and highest part of Paradise.” (i.e. The sub-narrator added, “I think the Prophet also said, ‘Above it (i.e. Al-Firdaus) is the throne of Ar-Rahman (the Beneficent i.e. Allah), and from it originate the rivers of Paradise.”) [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadeeth No. 48]

We’ve also been ordered to race one in another towards Paradise (i.e. be foremost) and to march towards it (i.e. be fast).

سَابِقُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَ‌ةٍ مِّن رَّ‌بِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْ‌ضُهَا كَعَرْ‌ضِ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْ‌ضِ أُعِدَّتْ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُ‌سُلِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ يُؤْتِيهِ

مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ

Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty. [Surah Al-Hadid (57) : 21]

وَسَارِ‌عُوا إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَ‌ةٍ مِّن رَّ‌بِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْ‌ضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْ‌ضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqoon (the pious). [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 133]

The highest standards set by an generation was that of the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). We can’t reach that level, but we can try for something close to that.

The great tennis players have intrinsic motivation. They don’t need to constantly be encouraged to go out and perform. They also feed off negativity in order to get even better.

The great believers are motivated by Paradise and the meeting with Allah. They don’t need to constantly be encouraged to keep doing good deeds. They also feed off negativity in order to get even better.

There is no better example of this than the Prophets (alaihimissalam). Some of them had nobody to support them (like Lut (alaihissalam)) and they had to deal with a LOT of negativity. Yet, they overcame all of it with the help of Allah.

One of the signs of a great player is how he deals with setbacks. For example, his career may be derailed by injuries so he would have to start all over again (in terms of low ranking). He needs to understand that injuries are a part of life. It might also be because of a faulty technique that he might have. Instead of getting depressed, he needs to work on making a comeback.

Taking injury breaks might happen multiple times throughout a player’s career, which can be quite a mental challenge as it is hard to get into a rhythm. So it all becomes a mind game. The real champion is the one who shows his mettle. No matter how many times he falls, he gets back up again, even if it means making multiple fresh starts.

One of the signs of a great believer is how he deals with setbacks. For example, he might have a health problem or someone close to him might have died. This might cause his iman to plummet so he needs to keep working on increasing it again. He needs to understand that trials are a part of life and it is what has been decreed for him so he should accept this. They are also ways for a person to increase in status the sight of Allah. The setback might also be a punishment and a way to expiate his sins. Either way, he needs to work on increasing his iman and not fall into depression.

Trials and punishments happen throughout a believer’s life which can be a great challenge to one’s iman (belief) and make it hard to keep doing acts of worship continuously. And Shaytan (the devil) is always there to help misguide the believers so it can all become a mind game (i.e. a person doesn’t believe that they can be better in the sight of Allah).

The real believer is the one who shows his mettle. No matter how many times he falls, he gets back up again, even if it means making multiple fresh starts i.e increasing in taubah (repentance) and istighfar (seeking forgiveness) especially if he has been sinful.

Another issue that happens with some players is that they fail drug tests. Usually this doesn’t happen to the great players but if it does, they need to accept their ban from the tour and use that as an opportunity to work on themselves.

These bans are not to harm players but are in place to stop cheating in the sport.

Every believer sins. Some of them commit major sins, some of which have prescribed punishments according to the Shariah (Islamic law). Usually this does not happen to those high in iman, but it can happen. If it does and a person is caught, they need to accept their punishment and use that as an opportunity to repent and work on themselves.

There prescribed punishments are not to harm people but in order to stop the disobedience of Allah, to expiate for a believer’s sins and also to stop the spread of mischief in the land.

As a newer generation of players crop up and the current players get older, it gets harder to maintain a high level. However, the great players are playing for their legacy so they find a way to maintain that level.

The one who truly wants something will crawl to it or limp to it, and that’s what the great players do. They plod away until they get a break i.e. another chance for a big win.

As new trials arise every day (especially in this day and age) and one gets older, it gets harder to maintain the high level of iman. However, the true believers are doing it for Allah and the Hereafter so they find a way to maintain that level.

The one who truly wants something will crawl to it or limp to it, and that’s what the great believers do. They plod away until they meet Allah.

In fact, the story of the man who killed 99 people is a classic example of “crawl to it”.

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، أَنَّ نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ كَانَ فِيمَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ رَجُلٌ قَتَلَ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ نَفْسًا فَسَأَلَ عَنْ أَعْلَمِ أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ فَدُلَّ عَلَى رَاهِبٍ فَأَتَاهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ قَتَلَ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ نَفْسًا فَهَلْ لَهُ مِنَ تَوْبَةٍ فَقَالَ لاَ ‏.‏ فَقَتَلَهُ فَكَمَّلَ بِهِ مِائَةً ثُمَّ سَأَلَ عَنْ أَعْلَمِ أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ فَدُلَّ عَلَى رَجُلٍ عَالِمٍ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ قَتَلَ مِائَةَ نَفْسٍ فَهَلْ لَهُ مِنْ تَوْبَةٍ فَقَالَ نَعَمْ وَمَنْ يَحُولُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ التَّوْبَةِ انْطَلِقْ إِلَى أَرْضِ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَإِنَّ بِهَا أُنَاسًا يَعْبُدُونَ اللَّهَ فَاعْبُدِ اللَّهَ مَعَهُمْ وَلاَ تَرْجِعْ إِلَى أَرْضِكَ فَإِنَّهَا أَرْضُ سَوْءٍ ‏.‏ فَانْطَلَقَ حَتَّى إِذَا نَصَفَ الطَّرِيقَ أَتَاهُ الْمَوْتُ فَاخْتَصَمَتْ فِيهِ مَلاَئِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ وَمَلاَئِكَةُ الْعَذَابِ فَقَالَتْ مَلاَئِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ جَاءَ تَائِبًا مُقْبِلاً بِقَلْبِهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ ‏.‏ وَقَالَتْ مَلاَئِكَةُ الْعَذَابِ إِنَّهُ لَمْ يَعْمَلْ خَيْرًا قَطُّ ‏.‏ فَأَتَاهُمْ مَلَكٌ فِي صُورَةِ آدَمِيٍّ فَجَعَلُوهُ بَيْنَهُمْ فَقَالَ قِيسُوا مَا بَيْنَ الأَرْضَيْنِ فَإِلَى أَيَّتِهِمَا كَانَ أَدْنَى فَهُوَ لَهُ ‏.‏ فَقَاسُوهُ فَوَجَدُوهُ أَدْنَى إِلَى الأَرْضِ الَّتِي أَرَادَ فَقَبَضَتْهُ مَلاَئِكَةُ الرَّحْمَةِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ قَتَادَةُ فَقَالَ الْحَسَنُ ذُكِرَ لَنَا أَنَّهُ لَمَّا أَتَاهُ الْمَوْتُ نَأَى بِصَدْرِهِ ‏.‏

Abu Saeed al-Khudri (radiallahu anhu) reported Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: There was a person before you who had killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the learned people of the world (who could show him the way to salvation). He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: No. He killed him also and thus completed one hundred. He then asked about the learned people of the earth and he was directed to a scholar, and he told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him whether there was any scope for his repentance to be accepted. He said: Yes; what stands between you and the repentance? You better go to such and such land; there are people devoted to prayer and worship and you also worship along with them and do not come to the land of yours since it was an evil land (for you). So he went away and he had hardly covered half the distance when death came to him and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment. The angels of mercy said: This man has come as penitent and remorseful to Allah and the angels of punishment said: He has done no good at all. Then there came another angel in the form of a human being in order to decide between them. He said: You measure the land to which he has drawn near. They measured it and found him nearer to the land where he intended to go (the land of piety), and so the angels of mercy took possession of it. Qatadah said that Hasan told him that it was said to them that as death approached him, he crawled upon his chest (and managed) to slip in the land of mercy. [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 6662]

Another way that the great players maintain their high level is by adapting or changing their strengths if necessary. For example, if a player cannot run that fast anymore, he might play less from the baseline and more from the net.

The whole point after all is to do what it takes to win.

Another way that the great believers maintain their high level is by adapting or changing their strengths if necessary. For example, if a believer can no longer pray standing throughout the night, he sits instead. If he finds fasting very difficult, he switches to another act of worship that might be easier for him like reciting the Quran.

The whole point after all is to do what it takes to get to Paradise.

One more thing that the great players understand is that winning might not always be done by playing at a high level but that’s not a reason to give up.

One more thing that the great believers understand is that one’s worship might not always be at the highest level but that’s not a reason to give up the worship.

For example, sometimes, a person’s prayer doesn’t have much khushoo (humility). That’s not a reason to give up prayer. Rather a person keeps praying throughout their life even if they have difficulty having a lot of khushoo.

Another example would be a seeker of knowledge who is struggling with sincerity. This struggle is not a reason to give up seeking knowledge. In fact, continuing the path of seeking knowledge will eventually rectify the person’s intentions, as has happened to some people of the past.

A problem that the great players have to deal with throughout their career is “advice” by arm chair critics who have never played the game (or who played at a journeyman level) but deem themselves fit enough to talk about those who play the game at a much higher level than they can.

They simply ignore such people.

A problem that a student of knowledge faces throughout his life is “advice” by arm chair critics who have never studied Islam (or maybe attended a few classes) but deem themselves knowledgeable enough to advise others who have studied much more than them. Many of these critics can’t even recite Surah Al-Fatihah according to the rules of tajweed (or even know what tajweed is for that matter) but they are always willing to advise the seekers of knowledge about how they can “improve” (i.e. not stick to the Sunnah but rather practice pick and choose Islam).

This problem can also affect those who are not students of knowledge but regular people who are trying to practice their religion. They’ll find enough people (who don’t even pray 5 times a day) willing to “advise” them on how to practice Islam “properly” (i.e in a way contrary to what the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came with but completely acceptable to the disbelievers and weak Muslims because of the “change in times”).

Every Muslims who truly wants the meeting with Allah should IGNORE any advice that suggests being less obedient to Allah. As simple as that.

Every tennis player needs to make sure that they have a close circle of like minded people, who have been through the same thing that they have. In tough times, these people are the ones that the tennis player turns to for advice.

Every believer needs to make sure that they have a close circle of like minded people, who have been through the same thing that they have. In tough times, these people are the ones that that the  believer turns to for advice.

وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا

And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost. [Surah Al-Kahf (18) : 28]

Now, who are these people? Well, the best people to seek advice from are the people of knowledge i.e. the scholars.

فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

So ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know. [Surah Al-Anbiya (21) : 7]

How does once get access to the scholars? Well, by seeking knowledge. Every Muslim needs to attend study circles in order to learn about their religion. Whatsapp isn’t enough, sorry. Yes, it can help one seek some knowledge but in order to be a REAL student of knowledge, one needs to actually put in lots of effort by regularly attending classes, learning Arabic, memorising the Quran and various texts, etc.

After the scholars, the best people to have around are students of knowledge. If even those are not around, then make sure you befriend those who are righteous, because they will base their advice on the Quran and Sunnah, whereas ignorant or unrighteous people base their advice on their culture or their opinions (and then have the audacity to pass it off as “the truth”).

Also, the righteous ones go through many trials so they can help you when you go through one.

Remember the following hadeeth when choosing friends:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ ‏”‏ ‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend. [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4833. Graded “hasan” (good) by Al-Albani.]

Nobody should say “Oh, I’m just hanging out with this person. We’re not that close.”

Even “hanging out” with the wrong person can have a bad effect of you.

عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالسَّوْءِ كَحَامِلِ الْمِسْكِ وَنَافِخِ الْكِيرِ، فَحَامِلُ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا أَنْ يُحْذِيَكَ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَبْتَاعَ مِنْهُ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَجِدَ مِنْهُ رِيحًا طَيِّبَةً، وَنَافِخُ الْكِيرِ إِمَّا أَنْ يُحْرِقَ ثِيَابَكَ، وَإِمَّا أَنْ تَجِدَ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً ‏”‏‏‏

Narrated Abu Musa (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (radiallahu anhu) said, ‘The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadeeth No. 442]

Please note that people are simply to be asked for advice, whereas Allah is meant to be turned to and relied upon. Rather than complaining to the people about our problems, it would be more appropriate to refer our problems to the Most Merciful, as done by Yaqub (alaihissalam) when he lost his son, Yusuf (alaihissalam).

قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّـهِ 

He said: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not. [Surah Yusuf (12) : 86]

A tennis player needs to understand that he represents his sport – whether he likes it or not.  He needs to not just be a good player but also a good sportsman. He needs to be a credit to his sport.

This is especially true for the top players. They are expected to follow a certain standard, more so than the others. They need to talk and dress appropriately and should be distinguished from the rest.

Of course, a bad player doesn’t represent the whole tour but he may tarnish its name in the eyes of those who know nothing about it.

A Muslim needs to understand that he represents Islam and his Ummah – whether he likes it or not. He needs to not just do his acts of worship but also have good manners and interact with people in an appropriate manner. He needs to be a credit to his Ummah.

This is especially true for the students of knowledge and those who have memorised the Quran. They are expected to follow a certain standard, more so than the others. They need to talk and dress appropriately and should be distinguished from the rest. Obviously, every Muslim needs to talk properly and also wear hijab (for women) or grow a beard (for men). However, those with knowledge are required to do this to a greater degree as they are expected to apply their knowledge.

Of course, a bad Muslim doesn’t represent Islam but he may tarnish its name in the eyes of those who know nothing about it.

Islam does not need us, rather we need Islam. However, many non-Muslims have become wary of Islam due to the bad behavior of some Muslims (as is happening today).

What does a tennis player do in his free time? Actually, a TOP player rarely has any free time. Has he given up fun? Well, in order to be great, he had to give up some activities. However, tennis IS what he finds fun. This is what invigorates him and this is what he lives for. The courts are where he is most comfortable.

What does a believer do in his free time? Well, a GREAT believer rarely has any free time. Has he given up fun? Well, in order to be great, he has to give up some activities. However, Islam IS what he finds fun. This is what invigorates him and this is what he lives for. Worshipping Allah is when he is most comfortable.

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was the best example of this. His comfort was in his prayer.

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ حُبِّبَ إِلَىَّ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا النِّسَاءُ وَالطِّيبُ وَجُعِلَ قُرَّةُ عَيْنِي فِي الصَّلاَةِ ‏”

It was narrated that Anas (radiallahu anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: ‘In this world, women* and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.'”  [Sunan An-Nasai, Hadeeth No. 3391. Graded “hasan sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

[*By this, he (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) meant his wives.]

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدِ ابْنِ الْحَنَفِيَّةِ، قَالَ انْطَلَقْتُ أَنَا وَأَبِي، إِلَى صِهْرٍ لَنَا مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ نَعُودُهُ فَحَضَرَتِ الصَّلاَةُ فَقَالَ لِبَعْضِ أَهْلِهِ يَا جَارِيَةُ ائْتُونِي بِوَضُوءٍ لَعَلِّي أُصَلِّي فَأَسْتَرِيحَ – قَالَ – فَأَنْكَرْنَا ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِ فَقَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ قُمْ يَا بِلاَلُ أَقِمْ فَأَرِحْنَا بِالصَّلاَةِ ‏”

Narrated Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah: I and my father went to the house of my father-in-law from the Ansar to pay a sick visit to him. The time of prayer came. He said to someone of his relatives: O girl! bring me water for ablution so that I pray and get comfort. We objected to him for it. He said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) say: Get up, Bilal, and give us comfort by the prayer.  [Sunan Abee Dawood, Hadeeth No. 4986. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

Many people talk about having “a life”. These are actually the ones who have no life because despite all their “fun” and “social life” (carried out not in person but through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp), they have no peace of mind and their hearts are not content.  That’s because true contentment comes from remembering Allah, not from overuse of social media.

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. [Surah Raad (13) : 28]

Allah grants a good worldly life (i.e the one where the heart is at peace) to those who believe and do good deeds.

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter). [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 97]

Oh and the REAL life is the life of the hereafter.

عَنْ سَهْلٍ، قَالَ جَاءَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَنَحْنُ نَحْفِرُ الْخَنْدَقَ وَنَنْقُلُ التُّرَابَ عَلَى أَكْتَادِنَا، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ لاَ عَيْشَ إِلاَّ عَيْشُ الآخِرَهْ فَاغْفِرْ لِلْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالأَنْصَارِ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Sahl (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came to us while we were digging the trench and carrying out the earth on our backs. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) then said, “O Allah ! There is no life except the life of the Hereafter, so please forgive the Muhajireen and the Ansar.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Hadeeth No. 141]

So when one has free time, one needs to spend it worshipping Allah, rather than on mall hopping and window shopping.

فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانصَبْ

وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَارْغَب

So when you have finished (from your occupation), then stand up for Allah’s worship. And to your Lord (Alone) turn (all your intentions and hopes and) your invocations. [Surah Ash-Sharh (94) : 7-8]

And again, I should remind everyone that ibaadah (worship) is not just limited to prayer, fasting, charity etc (although they are the basis of worship) rather good manners, keeping family ties, etc are also worship. Remember, any halal (permissible) act (that does not lead to something prohibited) can be changed into an act of worship by changing one’s intention. Going to the museum or munching on fruits? Change your intention so that it becomes an act of worship.

Retirement

No tennis player plays forever. Everyone needs to retire eventually.

No person lives forever. Everyone will die one day.

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

Everyone shall taste the death. Then unto Us you shall be returned. [Surah Al-Ankabut (29) : 57]

Some players will manage to have a long career while others will get it shortened due to injuries or other reasons.

Some people will have long lives and grow old, whilst others will die before that due to various reasons.

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ يُخْرِجُكُمْ طِفْلًا ثُمَّ لِتَبْلُغُوا أَشُدَّكُمْ ثُمَّ لِتَكُونُوا شُيُوخًا ۚ وَمِنكُم مَّن يُتَوَفَّىٰ مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَلِتَبْلُغُوا أَجَلًا مُّسَمًّى وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

He, it is Who has created you (Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah [mixed semen drops of male and female discharge (i.e. Adam’s offspring)] then from a clot (a piece of coagulated blood), then brings you forth as children, then (makes you grow) to reach the age of full strength, and afterwards to be old (men and women), though some among you die before, and that you reach an appointed term, in order that you may understand. [Surah Ghaafir (40) : 67]

Every player wishes to go out on a high and have a fairy tale ending. Some people get that whereas others don’t.

Every believer wishes to have a good end. True believers get that but the hypocrites and disbelievers don’t.

عَنْ عُبَادَةَ بْنِ الصَّامِتِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ مَنْ أَحَبَّ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ أَحَبَّ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ، وَمَنْ كَرِهَ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ كَرِهَ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ أَوْ بَعْضُ أَزْوَاجِهِ إِنَّا لَنَكْرَهُ الْمَوْتَ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ لَيْسَ ذَاكَ، وَلَكِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ إِذَا حَضَرَهُ الْمَوْتُ بُشِّرَ بِرِضْوَانِ اللَّهِ وَكَرَامَتِهِ، فَلَيْسَ شَىْءٌ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا أَمَامَهُ، فَأَحَبَّ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ وَأَحَبَّ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ، وَإِنَّ الْكَافِرَ إِذَا حُضِرَ بُشِّرَ بِعَذَابِ اللَّهِ وَعُقُوبَتِهِ، فَلَيْسَ شَىْءٌ أَكْرَهَ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا أَمَامَهُ، كَرِهَ لِقَاءَ اللَّهِ وَكَرِهَ اللَّهُ لِقَاءَهُ ‏”

Narrated Ubaadah ibn As-Saamit (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Who-ever loves to meet Allah, Allah (too) loves to meet him and who-ever hates to meet Allah, Allah (too) hates to meet him”. Aishah, or some of the wives of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “But we dislike death.” He said: It is not like this, but it is meant that when the time of the death of a believer approaches, he receives the good news of Allah’s pleasure with him and His blessings upon him, and so at that time nothing is dearer to him than what is in front of him. He therefore loves the meeting with Allah, and Allah (too) loves the meeting with him. But when the time of the death of a disbeliever approaches, he receives the evil news of Allah’s torment and His Requital, whereupon nothing is more hateful to him than what is before him. Therefore, he hates the meeting with Allah, and Allah too, hates the meeting with him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadeeth No. 514]

Scared about meeting Allah? Well, if that’s the case, you should be sure to ask Allah to make you WANT to meet Him and to remove this fear from your heart.

Also, there’s a very beautiful dua (supplication) that one can do.

عن عَطَاءُ بْنُ السَّائِبِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ صَلَّى بِنَا عَمَّارُ بْنُ يَاسِرٍ صَلاَةً فَأَوْجَزَ فِيهَا فَقَالَ لَهُ بَعْضُ الْقَوْمِ لَقَدْ خَفَّفْتَ أَوْ أَوْجَزْتَ الصَّلاَةَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَمَّا عَلَى ذَلِكَ فَقَدْ دَعَوْتُ فِيهَا بِدَعَوَاتٍ سَمِعْتُهُنَّ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمَّا قَامَ تَبِعَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ هُوَ أَبِي غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ كَنَى عَنْ نَفْسِهِ فَسَأَلَهُ عَنِ الدُّعَاءِ ثُمَّ جَاءَ فَأَخْبَرَ بِهِ الْقَوْمَ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ بِعِلْمِكَ الْغَيْبَ وَقُدْرَتِكَ عَلَى الْخَلْقِ أَحْيِنِي مَا عَلِمْتَ الْحَيَاةَ خَيْرًا لِي وَتَوَفَّنِي إِذَا عَلِمْتَ الْوَفَاةَ خَيْرًا لِي اللَّهُمَّ وَأَسْأَلُكَ خَشْيَتَكَ فِي الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ وَأَسْأَلُكَ كَلِمَةَ الْحَقِّ فِي الرِّضَا وَالْغَضَبِ وَأَسْأَلُكَ الْقَصْدَ فِي الْفَقْرِ وَالْغِنَى وَأَسْأَلُكَ نَعِيمًا لاَ يَنْفَدُ وَأَسْأَلُكَ قُرَّةَ عَيْنٍ لاَ تَنْقَطِعُ وَأَسْأَلُكَ الرِّضَاءَ بَعْدَ الْقَضَاءِ وَأَسْأَلُكَ بَرْدَ الْعَيْشِ بَعْدَ الْمَوْتِ وَأَسْأَلُكَ لَذَّةَ النَّظَرِ إِلَى وَجْهِكَ وَالشَّوْقَ إِلَى لِقَائِكَ فِي غَيْرِ ضَرَّاءَ مُضِرَّةٍ وَلاَ فِتْنَةٍ مُضِلَّةٍ اللَّهُمَّ زَيِّنَّا بِزِينَةِ الإِيمَانِ وَاجْعَلْنَا هُدَاةً مُهْتَدِينَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Ataa ibn As-Saaib narrated that his father said: “Ammar bin Yasir led us in prayer and he made it brief. Some of the people said to him: ‘You made the prayer sort (or brief).’ He said: ‘Nevertheless I still recited supplications that I heard from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).’ When he got up and left, a man- he was my father but he did not name himself- followed him and asked him about that supplication, then he came and told the people. “Allahumma bi ‘ilmikal-ghaiba wa qudratika ‘alal-khalqi ahini ma ‘alimtal-hayata khairan li, wa tawaffani idha ‘alimtal-wafata khairan li. Allahumma as’aluka khashyataka fil-ghaibi wash-shahadati wa as’aluka kalimatul-aqua fir-rida’i wal ghadab, wa as’alukal-qasda fil faqr wal-ghina, wa as’aluka na’iman la yanfadu wa as’aluka qurrata ainan la tanqati’u wa as’alukar-rida’i ba’dal-qada’i wa as’aluka bardal ‘aishi ba’dal-mawti, wa as’aluka ladhatan-nazari ila wajhika wash-shawqa ila liqa’ika fi fitnatin mudillatin, Allahumma zayyina dizinatil-imani waj’alna hudatan muhtadin (O Allah, by Your knowledge of the unseen and Your power over creation, keep me alive so long as You know that living is good for me and cause me to die when You know that death is better for me. O Allah, cause me to fear You in secret and in public. I ask You to make me true in speech in times of pleasure and of anger. I ask You to make me moderate in times of wealth and poverty. And I ask You for everlasting delight and joy that will never cease. I ask You to make me pleased with that which You have decreed and for an easy life after death. I ask You for the sweetness of looking upon Your face and a longing to meet You in a manner that does not entail a calamity that will bring about harm or a trial that will cause deviation. O Allah, beautify us with the adornment of faith and make us among those who guide and are rightly guided.” [Sunan An-Nasai, Hadeeth No. 1306. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

Remember, the greater the career of a tennis player, the more the chance of a fairy tale ending.

Remember, the more the iman (faith) and good deeds of a believer, the more the chance of a good death.

What about after retirement? Well, a tennis player who did really well on the tour can live easy because of all the wealth that he earned due to his many wins.

What about after death? Well, the believer who worshipped Allah constantly in his life will have an easy time in the Hereafter due to all the good deeds that he had accumulated.

There’s a very long hadeeth that describes death. Here is a compilation of its various narrations: The Believer and Disbeliever at the Time of Death

I understand that many people will feel hesitant to read it but they should really try to do so because it can only benefit them.

As for what happens AFTER death, here is another compilation that discusses just that: An Islamic Perspective of Life After Death

What about being remembered after one’s retirement? Well, the champions are the ones who are remembered not the journeymen.

What about being remembered after one’s death? Well, it is the great believers who are remembered not the average ones.

Also, it’s Allah who causes someone to be remembered.

فَلَمَّا اعْتَزَلَهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ وَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۖ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا نَبِيًّا

وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُم مِّن رَّحْمَتِنَا وَجَعَلْنَا لَهُمْ لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ عَلِيًّا

So when he (Ibrahim) had turned away from them and from those whom they worshipped besides Allah, We gave him Ishaq and Yaqub, and each one of them We made a Prophet. And We gave them of Our Mercy (a good provision in plenty), and We granted them honour on the tongues (of all the nations, i.e everybody remembers them with a good praise). [Surah Maryam (19) : 49-50]

Do you want people to remember you in a good manner? Well then, you should do as Ibrahim (alaihissalam) did and ask Allah for it.

رَبِّ هَبْ لِي حُكْمًا وَأَلْحِقْنِي بِالصَّالِحِينَ

وَاجْعَل لِّي لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ فِي الْآخِرِينَ

My Lord! Bestow Hukman (religious knowledge, right judgement of the affairs and Prophethood) on me, and join me with the righteous;  And grant me an honourable mention in later generations. [Surah Ash-Shuara (26) : 83-84]

This is a really great dua that seems to have been neglected by most people.

One thing to remember is that, many times, people suffer from the “current era is the best” syndrome and get caught up in all the hype. Just because someone is thought of well in the present, it doesn’t mean that this good reputation will continue into the future.

One thing to remember is that just because a person is praised by others, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are great in the sight of Allah. Also, if someone is dispraised by others, it doesn’t mean that they have a low standing in the sight of Allah.

Unlike in worldly matters where “achievements” matter, a person considered poor, unaccomplished, lowly or unknown could have a high standing in the sight of Allah.

عَنْ سَهْلٍ، قَالَ مَرَّ رَجُلٌ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَا تَقُولُونَ فِي هَذَا ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا حَرِيٌّ إِنْ خَطَبَ أَنْ يُنْكَحَ، وَإِنْ شَفَعَ أَنْ يُشَفَّعَ، وَإِنْ قَالَ أَنْ يُسْتَمَعَ‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ سَكَتَ فَمَرَّ رَجُلٌ مِنَ فُقَرَاءِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَا تَقُولُونَ فِي هَذَا ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا حَرِيٌّ إِنْ خَطَبَ أَنْ لاَ يُنْكَحَ وَإِنْ شَفَعَ أَنْ لاَ يُشَفَّعَ، وَإِنْ قَالَ أَنْ لاَ يُسْتَمَعَ‏.‏ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ هَذَا خَيْرٌ مِنْ مِلْءِ الأَرْضِ مِثْلَ هَذَا ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Sahl (radiallahu anhu): A man passed by Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and Allah’s Apostle asked (his companions) “What do you say about this (man)?” They replied “If he asks for a lady’s hand, he ought to be given her in marriage; and if he intercedes (for someone) his intercessor should be accepted; and if he speaks, he should be listened to.” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) kept silent, and then a man from among the poor Muslims passed by, an Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) asked (them) “What do you say about this man?” They replied, “If he asks for a lady’s hand in marriage he does not deserve to be married, and he intercedes (for someone), his intercession should not be accepted; And if he speaks, he should not be listened to.’ Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “This poor man is better than so many of the first as filling the earth.’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadeeth No. 28]

Also, the Prophets (alaihimissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) had to hear a lot of things from the people around them, sometimes even their own family members. Yet, these two groups are the best people created.

As for the rest of us, we’ll know where we stand on the Day of Judgement. May Allah make us of those who He is pleased with.

Who is the greatest player? A person cannot judge himself. It’s up to others to decide where he belongs in history.

Who is the greatest person? Well, that’s our Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam). After this are the four great Prophets, Ibrahim, Nuh, Musa and Isa (alaihimissalam).

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ مِيثَاقَهُمْ وَمِنكَ وَمِن نُّوحٍ وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ۖ وَأَخَذْنَا مِنْهُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا

And (remember) when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you (O Muhammad), and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa, son of Maryam. We took from them a strong covenant. [Surah Al-Ahzab (33) : 7]

After this are the other Prophets (alaihimissalam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum).

As for the rest of us, we should remember that Allah is the only one who decides who is a true believer and who is not. We need to do dua and work towards piety. We’re not supposed to just assume that we are pious.

فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ

So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keep his duty to Him [i.e. those who are Al-Muttaqoon (pious)]. [Surah An-Najm (53) : 32]

Every great player leaves a legacy even though that wasn’t the reason that they played to begin with. Their careers were an inspiration to many who came after them.

Many great Muslims of the past left us a legacy although that was not their aim. Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) wanted to compile a collection of authentic hadeeth. And look at how magnificently that turned out.

He and many others inspired us through their lives.

What about you? What have you left behind? When you die, what is there that will earn you some reward? Have you helped built a masjid? Have you donated some mushafs? Have you written articles on Islam or even some other useful topics like health or education? Have you distributed some Islamic books? Have you helped dig a well? Have you helped educate a poor child? Have you supported an orphan?

That’s my question to you: What have you left behind for yourself? If you can’t think of anything, then please start working on something NOW.

The Reality

Okay, now for the important part: THE REALITY.

The reality is that tennis is actually not the reality. It’s just a game. There’s something beyond it i.e. having an actual life!

And this dunya (worldly) life is also not the reality. There’s something beyond it i.e. the hereafter.

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ‌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ‌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ‌ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ

يَهِيجُفَتَرَ‌اهُ مُصْفَرًّ‌ا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا ۖ وَفِي الْآخِرَ‌ةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَ‌ةٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَرِ‌ضْوَانٌ ۚ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُ‌ورِ

Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment. [Surah Al-Hadeed (57) : 20]

All those trophies won’t help when is put into one’s grave. However, all those good deeds done for Allah will help in the grave and beyond it.

عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ كَعْبٍ الأَنْصَارِيِّ، أَنَّهُ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ أَبَاهُ كَانَ يُحَدِّثُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏:‏ ‏ “‏ إِنَّمَا نَسَمَةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ طَائِرٌ يَعْلُقُ فِي شَجَرِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى يَرْجِعَ إِلَى جَسَدِهِ يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُ ‏”‏ ‏

It was narrated from Abdur-Rahman bin Kaab Al-Ansari that his father used to narrate that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The believer’s soul is a bird that eats from the trees of Paradise, until it will be returned to his body on the Day when he is resurrected.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadeeth No. 4271. Graded “sahih” (authentic) by Al-Albani.]

Another difference between real life (i.e. Islam) and tennis is that in Islam, trying could be the same as winning. For example, in the story of the man who killed 99 people, he got into Paradise although he had not finished migrating.

Another example of “trying but failing but getting the deed accepted anyway” is the case of the man who kept giving charity to the wrong people.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ قَالَ رَجُلٌ لأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ بِصَدَقَةٍ‏.‏ فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ سَارِقٍ فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ تُصُدِّقَ عَلَى سَارِقٍ‏.‏ فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ لأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ بِصَدَقَةٍ‏.‏ فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدَىْ زَانِيَةٍ، فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ تُصُدِّقَ اللَّيْلَةَ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ‏.‏ فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، لأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ بِصَدَقَةٍ‏.‏ فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدَىْ غَنِيٍّ فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ تُصُدِّقَ عَلَى غَنِيٍّ فَقَالَ اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ، عَلَى سَارِقٍ وَعَلَى زَانِيَةٍ وَعَلَى غَنِيٍّ‏.‏ فَأُتِيَ فَقِيلَ لَهُ أَمَّا صَدَقَتُكَ عَلَى سَارِقٍ فَلَعَلَّهُ أَنْ يَسْتَعِفَّ عَنْ سَرِقَتِهِ، وَأَمَّا الزَّانِيَةُ فَلَعَلَّهَا أَنْ تَسْتَعِفَّ عَنْ زِنَاهَا، وَأَمَّا الْغَنِيُّ فَلَعَلَّهُ يَعْتَبِرُ فَيُنْفِقُ مِمَّا أَعْطَاهُ اللَّهُ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “A man said that he would give something in charity. He went out with his object of charity and unknowingly gave it to a thief. Next morning the people said that he had given his object of charity to a thief. (On hearing that) he said, “O Allah! All the praises are for you. I will give alms again.” And so he again went out with his alms and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. Next morning the people said that he had given his alms to an adulteress last night. The man said, “O Allah! All the praises are for you. (I gave my alms) to an adulteress. I will give alms again.” So he went out with his alms again and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. (The people) next morning said that he had given his alms to a wealthy person. He said, “O Allah! All the praises are for you. (I had given alms) to a thief, to an adulteress and to a wealthy man.” Then someone came and said to him, “The alms which you gave to the thief, might make him abstain from stealing, and that given to the adulteress might make her abstain from illegal sexual intercourse (adultery), and that given to the wealthy man might make him take a lesson from it and spend his wealth which Allah has given him, in Allah’s cause.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadeeth No. 502]

Also, in tennis, it’s obvious who the great players are, whereas it is not obvious who the true believers are. It might be that someone who is considered sinful (but who has tawheed obviously) could get into Paradise as in the case of the prostitute from Bani Israil.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ بَيْنَمَا كَلْبٌ يُطِيفُ بِرَكِيَّةٍ كَادَ يَقْتُلُهُ الْعَطَشُ، إِذْ رَأَتْهُ بَغِيٌّ مِنْ بَغَايَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ، فَنَزَعَتْ مُوقَهَا فَسَقَتْهُ، فَغُفِرَ لَهَا بِهِ ‏”

Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, a prostitute from the prostitutes of Banu Israil saw it and took off her shoe and watered it. So Allah forgave her because of that good deed.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadeeth No. 673]

Now, let me explain why I REALLY wrote this article.

The first reason is because I noticed that many people pay more attention to analogies than they do to the Quran and Sunnah. So, if I had written about the life of a believer without comparing it to the life of a tennis player, sadly I don’t think many people would have agreed with what I was saying. For many people, the use of the analogy might have convinced them and that’s just sad, because it’s the Quran and Sunnah that are actually supposed to convince a believer, not analogies especially when they use things which have prohibited matters in them the way that tennis and the Olympics do (e.g. showing off body parts, nationalism, etc).

The second reason for this article was to point out the approaches taken by tennis players and the Muslims of today. [I should point out here that some tennis players ARE Muslims so it’s not mutually exclusive.]

Actually, contrary to what I wrote above when comparing the two, the reality is that many Muslims have a completely different approach than the one they need to have.

Tennis players do the same things every day with complaints. They have patience in constantly showing up for practice and matches. They pour their time, money and energy into their profession. Their lives revolve around it. 

Sadly, many Muslims today behave in the opposite manner. They complain that it’s “too difficult” to pray 5 times every day. They don’t show patience in applying Islam on a daily basis, tending to “give up” after a while. Also, not many Muslims pour their time, money and energy into their religion, nor do their lives revolve around it.

Interesting enough, many people can sit through match after match after match and they don’t seem to find that boring. It’s seem that it’s only applying Islam that they find boring!

Tennis players always want to improve, especially the great ones who cannot handle being less than the best.

Improvement? Please don’t get me started on that one. Most of the Muslims I’ve met are completely stagnant with regards to their religion, not just the worship aspect but also the manners and knowledge part. Years pass by but the people don’t seem to grow at all. Strange. Don’t they feel something about being less than the best in the sight of Allah?

It seems that many of us are just happy being average whereas many tennis players just dream of getting better.

Tennis players also get happy with small victories which they did really well in or may have gutted out.

Small things don’t seem to bring happiness to many people anymore. Everyone seems to want BIG achievements so they don’t pay attention to achievements like memorising Juz Amma, going for Umrah, giving some money to a poor child, telling the truth or just a day when they really tried to be good. No, they just focus on the big stuff and ignore the little stuff.

Tennis players get angry when they lose and ask themselves many questions. If they lose an important tournament (which they waited a whole year for), they are devastated. It’s as if their dreams have been shattered.

Do we get angry with ourselves when we regress? Do we ask ourselves many questions?

Tennis players also adapt to different circumstances (e.g. windy court, different surface, noisy crowd, etc) and also to life changes, and grow as players as a result of that.

Do we adapt to different life circumstances? Do we adapt our ibaadah according to our situation? For example, a menstruating woman cannot pray or fast, so she should increase in other goods at this time. This would be considered adapting to the situation.

Do trials improve us? Do we grow as a result of them?

Tennis players also accept all the tour rules because they know they have to do that in order to keep playing.

All believers are required to accept Islam completely.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy. [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 208]

As mentioned earlier in the article, we are not allowed to pick and choose with regards to Islam. However, many people try to cut corners with regards to Islam and practice it in a way that suits their desires.

Many tennis players don’t care what people say. They play the way that they want to play.

Many of us are scared of what people will say if we become “too religious”. Just admit it.

Tennis players are obsessed with their sport.

Once a lecturer had pointed out that we are only allowed to be obsessed with Islam and this is true. Unfortunately, very few of us are obsessed with it and even more unfortunately, many of us are obsessed with other things!

Tennis players look to the previous greats for inspiration and know their stories.

Many Muslim children these days look up to actors and athletes unfortunately. They don’t even KNOW much about the Prophets (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). And let’s not get started about their parents.

If we want to be great in the sight of Allah, then shouldn’t we know about the lives of those who ARE great in His sight? Shouldn’t they be our inspiration?

When I was a child, I loved reading about the Prophets (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). I found them to be rather awesome.

After that I moved to another school (a rather trashy one if truth be told) and so forgot these stories. It was at this time that I became obsessed with tennis and other sports.

I saw tennis players (and other athletes) give everything they had for their sport and keep going even in the face of many trials. Ironically, that’s the lesson I learnt from them: Pour your heart and soul into what you love and just keep going no matter what.

After this, Allah guided me to start practicing Islam. As I had no role models around me, I simply used the lesson that I learnt from the tennis players. And that was fine because that was exactly what we have to do in Islam: we have to pour our heart and soul into Allah’s religion and keep going (i.e. worshipping Allah) no matter what happens or how many trials we face.

And then I realised that many people didn’t quite see things the way I did i.e. they didn’t believing in pouring everything into Islam. I found that rather strange.

And that brings me to the third reason for writing this article: to point out the extreme hypocrisy of many people. How so, you ask?

Well, when a tennis player’s whole life revolves around tennis, nobody complains even if it means playing all the time and giving up his youth and any social life. His life is just focused on a game yet everyone around him is very supportive, including family and friends. They are very proud of what he is trying to do and encourage him throughout his career. He is never accused of being “extreme” though his life revolves only around a game where you need to get a ball over a net.

However, when a Muslim decides that he wants his whole life to revolve around Allah so that he can go to Paradise, then look out!!! In many cases, family and friends are horrified and angry. They tell him that he is “too extreme” (for worshipping Allah? Yeah okay.) and that he needs to have a life and go out and have some “fun”. Many brothers and sisters have to deal with this constant criticism, and lack of encouragement and support, through their lives.

Many parents complain about their children being “too religious” but I’ve never heard of the parent of any famous tennis player (or any other athlete for that matter) complain about their child being “too great”.

When tennis players are going through injuries, the people around them support them. They don’t say “This injury is YOUR fault because you CHOSE to play this game. You could have taken a nice desk job instead.”

Also, many fans would support their favourite tennis players (and all of their favourite athletes, in fact) through all the difficulties and ups and downs, and would not abandon them.

When Muslims go through trials, they are surrounded by other Muslims who put them down and say “See, this is what you get for being so extreme!!!”. What happened to loving and supporting each other, O Muslims?

Also, if a player doesn’t change and is stagnant, or starts to regress, his fans and coaches get annoyed with him. Everyone wants him to improve.

If a Muslim doesn’t change and is stagnant, or starts to regress,well, nobody says anything. I guess it’s only when you try improve that you get to listen to an earful, right?

People understand that if you want to be a great tennis player, you need to give it everything. However, these very people think that you can get to Paradise by just dreaming about it and doing nothing. How can one by great in the sight of Allah with no good deeds??? How can one expect to get eternal bliss without exerting any effort??

The rules of tennis haven’t changed much since the beginning, and nobody has a problem with that. Nobody suggest changing tennis so that it can “fit with the times”.

Islam is a complete, perfect religion that Allah sent for us until the end of time. Yet, why are there so many illiterate people squawking about how it needs to change so as to “fit with the times”?

When there needs to be a discussion about tennis, only those knowledgeable about tennis are asked. The more accomplished the player, the more his words are given weight. If someone, who didn’t even know what a forehand was, tried to talk about tennis, he’d be laughed out of the room.

However, when someone wishes to ask about Islam, they mostly ask ignorant people, many of whom cannot even recite Surah Al-Fatihah properly!

The people who really need to be turned to for advice are the people of knowledge. Yet, the more knowledgeable a scholar is the more he is avoided by some people because they think he might be “too strict”.

If a tennis player were to brag about how great they were, they would be side-eyed and considered very arrogant, if they had the achievements to back it up. If they didn’t have any achievements and still considered themselves great, then people would think they were insane.

Many Muslims today talk about their own piety and praise themselves. Why isn’t that considered arrogance?

Also, many people say “My heart is clean” even if they don’t pray five times a day. Wait, how can your heart be clean if you miss prayers? Missing prayer is a major sin and every sin causes the heart to become unclean.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا أَخْطَأَ خَطِيئَةً نُكِتَتْ فِي قَلْبِهِ نُكْتَةٌ سَوْدَاءُ فَإِذَا هُوَ نَزَعَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ وَتَابَ سُقِلَ قَلْبُهُ وَإِنْ عَادَ زِيدَ فِيهَا حَتَّى تَعْلُوَ قَلْبَهُ وَهُوَ الرَّانُ الَّذِي ذَكَرَ اللَّهُ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ كلاَّ بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ ‏)‏ ‏”‏

Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart is polished clean. But if he returns, it increases until it covers his entire heart. And that is the ‘Ran’ which Allah mentioned:

كَلَّا ۖ بَلْ ۜ رَانَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn. [Surah Al-Mutaffifin (83) : 14]

[Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3334. Graded “hasan” (good) by Al-Albani.]

So, as you can see, his whole article was just an excuse to point out the double standards that exist today. Many people don’t mind athletes or any other professions practicing what they do to the fullest. However, the moment we talk about Allah, Islam, and the Hereafter…..

Unfortunately, their skins and other organs will testify against them.

وَيَوْمَ يُحْشَرُ أَعْدَاءُ اللَّـهِ إِلَى النَّارِ فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا مَا جَاءُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَارُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا ۖ قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّـهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ

وَمَا كُنتُمْ تَسْتَتِرُونَ أَن يَشْهَدَ عَلَيْكُمْ سَمْعُكُمْ وَلَا أَبْصَارُكُمْ وَلَا جُلُودُكُمْ وَلَـٰكِن ظَنَنتُمْ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَعْلَمُ كَثِيرًا مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ

وَذَٰلِكُمْ ظَنُّكُمُ الَّذِي ظَنَنتُم بِرَبِّكُمْ أَرْدَاكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

فَإِن يَصْبِرُوا فَالنَّارُ مَثْوًى لَّهُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَسْتَعْتِبُوا فَمَا هُم مِّنَ الْمُعْتَبِينَ

And (remember) the Day that the enemies of Allah will be gathered to the Fire, so they will be collected there (the first and the last). Till, when they reach it (Hell-fire), their hearing (ears) and their eyes, and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do. And they will say to their skins, “Why do you testify against us?” They will say: “Allah has caused us to speak, as He causes all things to speak, and He created you the first time, and to Him you are made to return.”  And you have not been hiding against yourselves, lest your ears, and your eyes, and your skins testify against you, but you thought that Allah knew not much of what you were doing. And that thought of yours which you thought about your Lord, has brought you to destruction, and you have become (this Day) of those utterly lost! Then, if they have patience, yet the Fire will be a home for them, and if they beg for to be excused, yet they are not of those who will ever be excused. [Surah Fussilat (41) : 19-24]

Brothers and sisters, isn’t it time for us to change and devote ourselves to making our beautiful homes in Paradise?

أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ

Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) to be affected by Allah’s Reminder (this Quran), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture [the Taurah and the Injeel] before (i.e. Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah). [Surah Al-Hadeed (57) : 16]

Ramadan might be long gone but it doesn’t matter. We don’t need it to change. We can start doing that right now.

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