Monday, May 07, 2012

Living an honorable life with Islam

A lecture from Ustadh Chandra Yuliansjah Tobing (May God protect him and preserve him) on the 3rd of May 2012, Ishida Hall Rokujizou, Kyoto, Japan

God tells us to enter Islam in its completeness. Islam is a way of life. In which every aspect of life is governed with. Islam gives a clear goal, which is to become good human beings, with gaining the pleasure of God as the final objective. After all, all of us will eventually meet death and have to face God. And the best death of all is to die while in love, and having full submission to Him.

Being Muslim is the greatest gift that any human being could ever have. Unfortunately, few Muslims realize and acknowledge this. We even often forget about the lesser blessings that we have, such as the blessing of being healthy and the blessing of having free time. We waste our health and time for doing things that are useless and give us no gain whatsoever.

Thus, we should be grateful when we are given the will to want to come to places where God is remembered. Including the places where knowledge of the religion is taught and shared. We should be thankful to God if we are still given the commitment towards Islam by attending these sorts of gatherings.

One of the past scholars, Hasan Al Basr said that he loved gathering with Muslims to learn knowledge of the religion more compared to gathering with his own family. This is because when gathering to learn religious knowledge, he is reminded about God, death, and other important things. While when gathering with his family, he is reminded about life of this world (house, business, family, etc).

Therefore, we should always give time to attend gatherings to gain knowledge of the religion. In fact, many contemporary scholars say that it is an obligation to attend gatherings of knowledge, at least once a week. Muslims need to have good understanding on their religion to be able to stand strong, adapt, and not be carried away by the waves of the civilization.

By attending gatherings of religious knowledge, we are empowering our soul. And just as the body, our soul needs food to stay healthy. In fact, if the soul is sick, the body may also become sick.

There are immense benefits for those who attend gatherings in which knowledge of the religion is learned. Among them is that God will bless with tranquility, His mercy, the angels will gather amongst them, and God will mention the names of the attendees to His other angels that are in His presence.

Thus, we should always be willing to spend a fraction of our time to attend or make these kinds of gatherings.

Main Content
Islam was sent down to give goodness for Muslims and humanity in general. In the Qur’an, Allah SWT says explicitly that the Prophet PBUH was only sent down (to teach Islam) as a mercy for the universe. One of the famous scholars of Islam, Ibn kathir, mentioned that this means that if we accept Islam and follow the Prophet PBUH, life will be good (in this world and the next), and if we reject it, life will be bad (maybe not in this world, but most certainly in the next).
The question is why are we Muslims, all over the world, living in a bad and deprived state? This might be due to us not following or understanding Islam properly. In order to gain the goodness that Islam has to offer, there are several steps that we must take.
  1. The first step is to have a sound knowledge on Islam. We need to know 1) the foundation of the religion, which consists of the creed of the religion (aqidah) and how to worship God properly, according to what the Prophet PBUH taught. Then we need to know 2) the building blocks of Islam, which include all of the aspects of sacred law that is governed by the religion. And the last element to gain sound knowledge of Islam is 3) to commit ourselves to jihad (struggling for the sake of God), enjoining good and forbidding evil, and upholding the law.
  2. The second step is to build sincerity to commit to Islam only for the sake of God and to gain His pleasure.
  3. From the first two steps, righteous deeds will be born
Obviously, many Muslims do not know these three steps, and thus do not have the quality of true good Muslims.

Other major reasons of the downfall of the Muslims are that the Muslims have left the Qur’an and the guidance of the sunnah (acts of the Prophet PBUH). One example is the night prayer. We can ask ourselves; do we spend any time to wake up at night and pray to God and ask His forgiveness? Even the cock wakes up at night and praises God in his own way.

Regarding the leaving the Qur’an, it may not seem obvious, but not many Muslims are able to read the Qur’an properly, lest understand and ponder upon its meanings. In Indonesia, according to data from the ministry of religious affairs gathered in 2006, only 5% of the total population of Muslims in Indonesia can read the Qur’an properly, and only 1% memorizes it.

God tells us that the Qur’an is As shifaa, or “cure” in English. In Arabic, As shifaa has a more specific meaning, which is a cure that will definitely cure. If it is understood correctly, the Qur’an can do unimaginable things, such as changing the course of civilization, like what the Prophet PBUH and the pious people of the past did. Thus, we need to better our interaction with the Qur’an. We need to be able to read the Qur’an correctly, start memorizing it bit by bit, and ponder/reflect on it.

The key for gaining an honorable life through Islam is to understand the religion and better our interaction with the Qur’an, and we should all do our best to achieve it no matter the cost.

Closing remarks
There are several practices that can be done to be able to taste the sweetness of Islam, and be entered into paradise. Among them is mentioned by God in Qur’an in Surah Ad dhariyaat (verse 15-19). These practices are:
  1. Always do good deeds (the key to be consistent in this is to always remember God and    death, and forget our own good deeds and other peoples bad deeds).
  2. Sleep less at night and dedicate time to do night prayer and remembrance of God.
  3. Ask for forgiveness at the end of the night.
  4. Commit ourselves to always give to those in need (infaq)
May Allah SWT bless us with an honorable life in this world and the next.

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