Quranic formula for success

We are all witness to what is happening in Palestine – deplorable, despicable and completely avoidable if only some good sense could prevail on all sides. Naturally we, the common people, Muslim or not, are anguished, perplexed and confused about why there is so much apathy and even active complicity with the aggressors and such a lack of sympathy for the oppressed among those that have power. People are even asking, ‘Why doesn’t AllahY do something?’
When I was asked this question, I answered, ‘He did.’
‘What did He do?’
‘He made you,’ I replied.
And that in one line is the reason. The day we understand this – at an individual and collective level, all oppression will evaporate and nobody will be able to oppress anyone else. The buck indeed stops with each one of us personally. AllahYdid something – He made you. He made me.
Before I try to analyze the Palestine story – a word about AllahY’s creation of this world in which we live.
AllahYcreated this world and created systems for it to function. For example He said:


Sajda 32: 5. He arranges (every) affair from the heavens to the earth, then it (affair) will go up to Him, in one Day, the space whereof is a thousand years of your reckoning (our time/space dimension). 6. That is He, the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen, the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful. 7. Who made everything He has created good, and He began the creation of man from clay. 8. Then He made his offspring from semen of worthless water (seminal fluid).
AllahYmentioned here some of the laws of functioning of creation that He created. We know these as the laws of physics, aerodynamics, gravity, displacement and so on. The key thing to remember is that if you want to float a ship you have to construct something that conforms to the law of displacement. If you do that, you will be able to float ten thousand tons of steel. Without that a paper boat will sink. Similarly if you want to fly a plane you have to construct something that conforms to the laws of aerodynamics and flight. If you do that you can fly a thousand tons of steel. If not, your paper plane won’t take off. Finally is you want to leap out of a plane at twenty thousand feet and land safely on earth, you have to take into account the law of gravity and work to counter it. Otherwise you will become its victim and have a grave experience when you meet Mother Earth traveling at 32 ft/sec/sec.
Similarly AllahYmade laws of success and failure in this life. These are as foolproof and as incontrovertible as the laws of physics and so on that I mentioned above. These laws must also be learned and taken into account if you want to succeed. For example AllahYsaid about being influential, victorious, powerful leaders;

Anfal 8: 46. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabireen (those with staying power).
So also in the case of the law of power and influence. Our history both ancient and present is replete with examples of both personally pious people and people with good strategies but disconnected with AllahY who both failed to create and sustain vibrant nations.
As you can see from this – influence, strength and power depends on two things which are inter-related and entwined – obedience to AllahY and His Messengerr and unity between ourselves. Either one is not sufficient in itself. Just as the law of flight is a combination of two things – wing design and takeoff speed. That is why the best designed aircraft will not take off until it reaches takeoff speed and a Ferrari will never fly. You need enough horsepower and correct wing design.
Rasoolullahr exemplified this in Madina where he created the Muslim Ummah – a Brotherhood of Faith. A term that is replete with meaning. It is a brotherhood. Not merely a collaboration, cooperation, agreement, alliance or even friendship; but a brotherhood – with all the implications of concern, compassion, sense of responsibility, shared honor, and giving up your entitlement for the benefit of the brother, seeing one’s own success in the success of the brother and doing whatever it takes to enable the brother to succeed. And that brotherhood is based not on racial, tribal or even family relations but on faith – on obedience to AllahY and His Messengerr. That in essence is the meaning of this Ayah in practice. And as they say, the rest is history.
Islam spread from Madina, not Makkah. It did not spread from the Ka’aba but from the birth of the Ummah. The Muslims understood this so well that when they had to date their calendar, they used the birth of the Ummah, not the birth even of Rasoolullahr as the starting point to begin counting. It was as if to say that time began when the meaning of this Ayah was fulfilled. History is witness that as long as they stuck to the principles of success that AllahY laid out in this Ayah they succeeded. When they broke the pact, they failed.
One big lesson therefore to learn from this is that AllahY does – but He does in His own way – not as we would like Him to do. Ideally we would like AllahY to descend to earth and sort out our problems for us. It is this need that gave rise to the many Avatar ideologies that exist which depict people who took charge of their lives and changed their own destinies and the destiny of their people by following the laws of AllahY, as human embodiments of god, who came to earth to take care of earthlings. God doesn’t come to earth to take care of earthlings because He taught earthlings how to take care of themselves and sent instruction manuals and teachers to teach them by demonstrating the method personally. What therefore can you say to those who despite all this, still insist on breaking the law and complain when they come to grief?
If someone jumps out of a plane at twenty thousand feet and refuses to pull his rip cord to open his parachute but spends all the time he has in Dhikr begging AllahY to save him from death – what do you think will happen to him? You may say that he died with the name of AllahY on his lips – but he will die as surely as someone who commits suicide. As a matter of fact his death would be considered suicide and not an accident. If someone asks at that time, ‘But why didn’t AllahY do something?’ You would tell them, ‘AllahY did. He taught him the rules of gravity. He gave him a parachute. Taught him how it works. Gave him the power to pull the rip cord and the freedom to do so if he wished.’ So did AllahY do something or not?’ Despite all of the above if he didn’t pull the cord and crashed, whose fault is it?
Now keeping this basic principle in mind – that this world runs according to the laws of AllahY and if you want something you have to follow that law. Dua alone or a strategy alone while disobeying AllahY, won’t work.
So to recollect what AllahY said:

وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَنَازَعُواْ فَتَفْشَلُواْ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ 
Anfal 8: 46. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabireen (those with staying power).
As is mentioned in the Ayah above AllahY laid down two interacting dynamic rules – adherence to the Kitaab wal Sunnah and Unified Strategy.
Each by itself is not sufficient. They have to both exist simultaneously and work dynamically for the result to happen. The plane needs wings and an engine. Neither is sufficient by itself. The man making Dhikr and dua still needs to pull the rip cord of the parachute if he doesn’t want to die. The rule is the combination of its elements. Not either element by itself. The equation works when both sides interact. With only one side it is not an equation.
To look at an example from the Seerah which illustrates this – we have the example of the reversal of fortunes in the Battle of Uhud. Who were more pious than the Sahaba? In Uhud they had a good strategy and they were winning. But at a critical moment, some of them – disputed amongst themselves and disobeyed the instructions that Rasoolullahr gave them – and the victory turned into a rout which proved to be very expensive and tragic with the death of 70 of the best of them including Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib (RA). Remember they hadn’t become rebellious nor did they stop believing in the Messengership (Risaalat) of Rasoolullahr. They merely disputed about his instruction and its meaning and application. Some said that it was to be obeyed unquestioningly in word and spirit. Others said that it applied to a specific time and situation and was no longer applicable. And these left their appointed places on the hillock where Rasoolullahr had placed them. Khalid bin Waleed took advantage of the situation and charged with his cavalry and the Muslims were routed.
The lesson? That when they ignored one of the elements of the law, the other element couldn’t help them. When the wings fall off the plane the weight of the engine makes it fall out of the sky faster. When the engines fail, the plane will glide for a while but will surely crash in the end.
Now apply this rule – Personal Piety + Unified Strategy – to not only the Palestinian situation but to the Muslim Ummah in general. Palestine is the symptom of the major illness. It is the headache or the stomach ache, painful though it is, is only a symptom of a more serious disease that may put the life of the patient at risk. We need to put Palestine in perspective to understand what is happening and hopefully to be able to find a cure for the real ailment. Not simply a Band-Aid to cover a cut.
To diagnose what our state of personal piety is, our state of obedience to AllahY and His Messengerr , I don’t think we need to go too far. It is sufficient to look into our own lives and ask ourselves some hard questions. The same applies to our countries which talk about being Islamic but permit everything that AllahY has prohibited and prohibit what He permitted. All our pretentions about practicing Islam fool only ourselves – because the world sees our real state clearly. People listen with their eyes and so are not impressed with our protestations of piety and adherence to our religion. Without going into details which are more than clear to anyone who can read, let us suffice to say that we have to clean up our act to meet at least the first of the conditions of the law of success – become obedient to AllahY and His Messengerr. Obey AllahY, earn and eat Halaal, and follow the Sunnah. Refusing to accept reality only assures disaster. No order of AllahY and no Sunnah is too small to obey. That attitude of selective obedience is the root cause of bringing upon ourselves the anger of AllahY as He mentioned:

Baqara 2:85    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.
AllahY clearly mentioned the danger of our policy of selective obedience and showed us that selective obedience is disobedience and will attract its own consequence. That also is a natural law in our world of cause and effect.
AllahY told us that our conditions are governed by our actions and our actions are the cause of our conditions. Let us reflect on this for a bit.
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ 
Rum 30: 41.  Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds) that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (to AllahY – Tawba).
This in fact is a sign of love that AllahYhas for us that He warns us in advance so that we may correct ourselves and repent and save ourselves from more serious punishment.
It is all very well to blame this or that country or head of state for whatever is happening in that country which amounts to the disobedience of AllahY but if we reflect on our own lives, we may well be faced with the bitter prospect of admitting to all the disobedience of AllahY that exists in our lives. But as with other laws of existence, if you want to change the effect you have to address the cause. Addressing symptoms can at best give temporary relief but can never cure the real ailment. We have to admit that we are disobeying AllahY. Repent to Him and return to the way of Rasoolullahr the Sunnah so that AllahY will forgive us and change our situation and conditions. We are all authors and write our own destiny.
AllahYreiterated that we are the writers of our own destiny and said:
 إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ 
Ra’ad 13: 11   Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).
The Sahaba understood this and used to introspect when they lost a battle or faced an adverse situation. They didn’t spend so much time on external factors but reflected on what may have been going on in their lives which could have led to the adversity that they were facing. They understood the connection of A’amaal to Ahwaal – deeds to circumstances. We understand this connection in a materialistic sense – for example the market forces in a free market economy where lending rates effect economic growth. But we don’t or refuse to understand the effect of the same lending rates in their context of being Riba on the overall wellbeing of our society. We have legitimized what we like to do by giving ourselves freedom by calling it lifestyle choice, personal freedom and so on – ignoring that all choices have consequences – some of them permanent and painful. We are free to choose but no choice is free. Every choice has a price tag.
Sometimes I am asked the very reasonable question: If this law of obeying AllahY and His Messengerr and a unified strategy is indeed a universal law then how is it that the Zionists for example – who are not obedient to AllahY or His Messengerr are so successful in their aims and goals.
To answer this question I must first explain two matters: The definition of success and the fact that the rules for insiders are not the same as those for outsiders. Insiders have to follow a stricter regime.
This is also our way in life – for example if food runs out in a party, the family go hungry but don’t allow guests to feel that anything is wrong. When you enter Islam, you are an insider and so the rules change for you – those who have access have to behave differently – more carefully as you are in the presence of the King.
Success is what AllahY defined when He said:
A’al Imraan 3: 185. Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Jannah, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing). 
Success is not what happens in the world but what happens when we meet AllahY. Anyone with discretion can see that our materialistic world and its hedonistic standards have created a society that pretends to be happy and contented but is based on a system that uses discontent to fuel growth. That is the philosophy behind all materialism, marketing and advertising – convert desire to need – where a person will do anything to buy what he doesn’t need, to show people he doesn’t like and live a life of slavery for the next twenty years to pay for what he will eventually discard or leave behind. That is why our entertainment consists of ways to make us forget the reality of our lives and transport us however temporarily into a world of fantasy and make believe – a necessary release without which we ‘burn out’. Yet we pretend that this life is a dream that we need to chase – a dream the waking up from which is called death. A dream which in reality is a nightmare – but we choose to ignore its horror and forget ourselves and continue to live our lives in a self-induced trance. However ignoring reality neither makes it go away nor does it save us from its evil – so we continue to suffer even though we have the solution and can not only alleviate our own suffering but also help others – if only we face facts and take positive action. But that takes courage which AllahYreminds us.
Islam on the other hand is deeply rooted in fact and reality which we will all face, that all actions have consequences in this life and that one day there will be a reckoning before AllahY about what we chose to do or not do and a price to pay or a reward to receive for our choices. Nobody can hide from AllahY.
The second rule is to understand that when you enter Islam, the rules change for you. That is because you now know AllahY and can connect to Him and access His power and help. You are now an insider. And so a different code of conduct is expected from you. Once again going back to the Seerah for an illustration – take the example of the Battle of Hunain – where the Sahaba were united and had material resources – but fell to relying on their material more than on AllahY and once again the battle turned into a rout. It was only when they renewed their pledge so to speak and answered the call of Rasoolullahr that AllahY turned the tide of battle back in their favor. Their unity and material didn’t help them when their Tawakkul moved from AllahY and when they changed their stance, they were victorious once again.
Take the case of the letter Sayyidina Omar ibn Al Khattabt wrote to Sayyidina Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqast when the latter was commanding the Muslim army in the Battle of Qadsia which shows the understanding of the Sahaba about cause and effect.

“…I order you and all troops that are along with you to be obedient to Allah   in all circumstances, as this is better than the weapons against the enemy and a strong stratagem in the war. I order you and the soldiers who are with you to be more cautious and afraid of your own crimes and sins than your enemy, as the crimes and sins of the soldiers are more dangerous to them than the enemy.
The Muslims are victorious only because their enemies are disobedient to Allah  and had it not been so, we have no power over them, because neither our number is equal to their number, nor are our weapons like theirs. If we commit crimes and sins as they do, then they (our enemies) will have superiority over us in power and we will not gain victory over them. WE DO NOT OVERPOWER THEM WITH OUR STRENGTH.
And you should also know that in this marching of yours, there are guards upon you from Allah  and they all know what you do. So be shy from them and do not commit Allah  ’s disobedience while you are going in Allah  ’s Cause and do not say: ‘ Our enemy is worse than us, so they will not overpower us.’ Perhaps some people who are worse than the others may overpower the others as the (disbelievers) Magians overpowered the Children of Israel when they (the latter) involved themselves with Allah  ’s disobedience. So they (disbelievers) entered the very innermost parts of their homes and it was a promise fulfilled.
And ask Allah   for assistance over your own selves, just as you ask Allah   for victory over your enemies. I ask Allah   for that, both for you and for us.”
This advice is with reference to AllahY’s mention of the incident with Bani Israeel when the Babylonian King Nebuchadnazer (in 600 BC) and then the Roman Emperor Titus (in 31 BC) sacked Jerusalem. AllahY mentioned:


Isra 17: 4. And We decreed for the Children of Israel in the Scripture, that indeed you would do mischief on the earth twice and you would become tyrants and extremely arrogant! 5. So, when the promise came for the first of the two, We sent against you slaves of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost parts of your homes. And it was a promise (completely) fulfilled. 6. Then We gave you once again, a return of victory over them. And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in manpower. 7. (And We said): “If you do good, you do good for your ownselves, and if you do evil (you do it) against yourselves.” Then, when the second promise came to pass, (We permitted your enemies) to make your faces sorrowful and to enter the mosque (of Jerusalem) as they had entered it before, and to destroy with utter destruction all that fell in their hands. 8. [And We said in the Taurat (Torah)]: “It may be that your Rabb may show mercy unto you, but if you return (to sins), We shall return (to Our Punishment). And We have made Jahannam a prison for the disbelievers.

Interesting thing to reflect on is that AllahY didn’t say that it was the Bani Israel who lived in Jerusalem who were disobedient. The Ayaat address the Bani Israel in general wherever they lived at the time which was not only in Jerusalem. AllahY mentioned the Bani Israel many times and gave us their example as we are closest to them and we’re the Ummah who succeeded them. So it is for us to learn from their lives and examples and avoid making the same mistakes.

All these Ayaat clearly connect the issues of personal conduct and collective conduct to the external conditions that we are faced with and to the fact that the rules for Muslims are different and that they are held to a higher moral standard than those who are not Muslim yet. That is why Muslims are punished more quickly and apparently for lesser crimes than those who are not Muslim yet. This is actually a mercy from AllahY because the punishment of AllahY in the Aakhira is much worse than whatever worldly trials we may face. AllahY told us that this slap on the wrist is what He gives so that we can return to His obedience.


Sajda 32: 21. And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (to AllahY).

And about those who continue in disobedience despite all warnings, He said:

فَلَمَّا نَسُواْ مَا ذُكِّرُواْ بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَتَّى إِذَا فَرِحُواْ بِمَا أُوتُواْ أَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً فَإِذَا هُم مُّبْلِسُونَ
Al An’aam 6:44    Then, when they had forgotten all that they had been told to take to heart, We threw open to them the gates of all [good] things  until – even as they were rejoicing in what they had been granted – We suddenly took them to task: and lo! They were broken in spirit.

We see (understand) with our knowledge. Islam gives us the lens to view the world and understand its reality in the light of the knowledge that it’s Creator gave us. That is why a Muslim must strive to be a diagnostician – not merely a spectator. A Muslim must diagnose the problem, derive a cure and apply it. Only then will conditions change. I ask AllahY for His Mercy for Palestine and for us all because we are all responsible for Palestine. Palestine is the meter of the health of this Ummah. Need I say more?

Success is to please Allah

Ramadan comes to teach us one big lesson and to give us the opportunity to focus on the biggest priority – to please AllahY. The winner is decided only at the end of the race – not during it. So let’s make sure we win. AllahYsaid about the winner:

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ وَما الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ 

A’al Imraan 3: 185.       Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is saved from the Fire and admitted to Jannah, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).

AllahY gave us examples of many people in the Qur’an who had everything of this world but didn’t please AllahY and so they lost the race. And of those who had nothing in worldly terms but pleased AllahY and so they won the race.

In the same time and place lived Rameses IV – the Pharaoh of Musau – a man who claimed divinity – owner of the greatest kingdom on earth with unimaginable wealth. Absolute monarch with the power of life and death over his subjects – who ordered the slaughtering of thousands of infants of the Bani Israeel with nobody to dispute his decision or even to plead against it. He had everything of this life that anyone could not only want but even imagine. Yet about him AllahY said:


Ghafir 40: 46.       The Fire; they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon, and on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’aun’s (Pharaoh) people to enter the severest torment!”

All his wealth and power couldn’t save him from the anger of AllahY which his actions attracted and not only was he destroyed in this world but his punishment in the Aakhira is assured and made an example to deter others.

AllahY said about the wealth and power of this world and it’s real value:


Ash-Shuara 42: 36. So whatever you have been given is but a passing enjoyment for this worldly life, but that which is with Allah (Jannah) is better and more lasting for those who believe (Islam) and put their trust in their Rabb (Tawakkul).

So whoever uses what AllahY gives him in this world, to earn the wealth of the Aakhira, then he is successful. But whoever chooses the wealth of this world in exchange for the Aakhira will be the loser. AllahY said:


Ash-Shuara 42: 20. Whosoever desires (with his deeds) the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world (with his deeds), We give him thereof (what is written for him), and he has no portion in the Hereafter.

The key is to understand that we have been given the opportunity to write whatever we want in terms of our Aakhira whereas in this Dunya what we are destined to have has already been written. Those who understand this – play the game like Monopoly – they use their depreciating assets to buy appreciating assets which will last forever. They become good ice sellers – who convert their block of ice to money which doesn’t melt in the sun. Those who don’t understand this, use their ice to feel cool but at the cost of losing their asset and returning home empty handed.

So let us see what those who understood the reality did and what choices they made:
About Ibrahimu and his son Ismailu, AllahY told us:


As-Saaffat 37: 102. And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what do you see!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’ Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin .” 103. Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); 104. And We called out to him: “O Ibrahim! 105. You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!” Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinun (people of Ihsaan). 106. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. 107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram); 108. And We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations (to come) in later times. 109. Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim!”

I ask myself what it is that allows a man to do this – to agree without question to sacrifice his only son who was born to him in his old age after years of asking AllahY? What is it even more, that allows a little boy to answer a question from his father like, “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look (in your heart) what do you see?”  What did that little boy see that grown men who consider themselves to be educated and scholars today, don’t see? What was this Tawakkul based on? What was this relationship with AllahY that made this father and son so special that their Rabb revealed their story in the Qur’an and quoted them as examples for His Nabi Muhammadr and for all of mankind until the Day of Judgment?

AllahY told us the story of Musau and the incident when AllahY ordered Musau to bring the leaders of his people to Him. Musau came hurrying, leaving his people to follow behind. So AllahY asked him:


Ta-Ha 20: 83. “And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa?” 84. He said: “They are close on my footsteps, and I hastened to You, O my Rabb, that You might be pleased.”

I hastened to You, O my Rabb, that You might be pleased – What a beautiful answer! AllahY liked it so much that He repeated Musau’s words in the Qur’an.

‘Rabbee – My Rabb’, said Musau. He is also my Rabb and your Rabb. But do we relate to Him as our Rabb? Do we have a relationship with Him? And if not, why not?

Then we have the example of Rasoolullahr himself when he went to At-Ta’aif where he was attacked and was injured. His dua is a lesson in fortitude and focus on one single objective – the pleasure of AllahY. In this dua he said, ‘O my Rabb, I will continue to work to please you until you are pleased – Hatta Tardha.’ That was his attitude all his life and so His Rabb reciprocated and said:
Duha 93: 5. And verily, your Rabb will give you (all that you ask) so that you shall be well-pleased.

Ali bin Abi Talibt said, ‘People say that the Ayah of greatest hope in the Qur’an is when AllahY said:


Az_Zumar 39: 53. Say: “O ‘Ibadi (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.

‘But we, the Ahl-ul- Bayt say that the Ayah of greatest hope is:
وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَى 

‘Because we know that Rasoolullahr will never be pleased and will never rest until every last one of his Ummah is forgiven and granted Jannah. AllahY promised to please him – so we say that this Ayah is the Ayah of greatest hope for us.’
My brothers and sisters, we were sent into this world for a purpose – to do a job and go back home. We forgot why we came, what we were sent to do and that we have to go back home. We got lost here and started living here as if this is where we have to stay forever. But our foolishness doesn’t change reality. We still have to return home and give account of what we did about the job we were sent with. That is the reality.
This world is the world of camouflage. Camouflage is used for one of two things – to save yourself or to kill your prey. The one who gets fooled by camouflage either goes hungry or dies. That is the reality of our life. Ask yourself, ‘What are the things in my life which are in camouflage? What are the opportunities that I am losing or the danger that I am facing because I can’t see through the camouflage?’ Let us ask this question and open our eyes before our eyes are opened for us.

Ramadan comes every year to remind us of the purpose of our existence. To give us the opportunity to take time out and reflect on where our life and our ways are taking us. To enable us to take stock and make significant changes in our priorities, values and behavior so that In-sha-Allah when we return to AllahY it will be to receive His Mercy, Forgiveness and Jannah.

I remind myself and you to take full advantage of this month so that we are able to reap all the benefits that this month comes laden with. But like the clouds that come laden with moisture and life giving rain – the only farmer who benefits is the one who has tilled his fields and dug his irrigation channels. For the others the rain simply falls on the ground and flows away leaving their fields dry and barren.

Let us ensure that by making Tawba and sincere effort to correct our ways and by bringing our lives on to the Sunnah of Rasoolullahr we are able to take full advantage of the rain of mercy and forgiveness that Ramadan brings and that the promise of freedom from the fire comes true for us.

Bush Camp Diary – Dawn and Dusk

Which is more magical? More peaceful? More dynamic? Dawn or dusk in the bush?

Dawn with it’s rapidly strengthening light promising a clear, hot day or dusk with light decreasing gently promising a night of peace, danger – life and death struggles, full or empty bellies – rapidly beating hearts – all dependent on who you are.

The hoot of the owl as he sits on his favorite perch ready to take flight, scanning the dark earth with eyes which catch the lowest of light and see what others can only imagine. His ears, aided by their asymmetric position and his flat reception-disc face listening for sounds of the whisper in the grass as a mouse searches for food – little realizing that he is himself being ‘searched’ as food. Then he flies off on silent wings without a hint of the menace that he is for those who are close to the earth.

There’s a lot of water in the Kruger at this time, thanks to unprecedented rains and so we saw a lot of Waterbuck – all of whom sat upon the toilet seat before the paint was dry. Underlines the benefits of low pans which would have saved this rather embarrassing situation. What an amazing detail of creation where one species has this completely unique marking not shared by anyone else!

The Waterbuck herds are shepherded by the dominant male with his beautifully symmetrical horns – lethal for the inexperienced lion or leopard. Like all antelope and deer, they are curious and run a little way off and then stop to look back at what it was that scared them. And that is what gets them killed – for the hunter waits for that stop which he knows is coming. But it also gives you the best photo op and here is one result.

Sand River Bush Camp – Kruger National Park – Memories


The Kruger Bush Camp had been a dream of several years standing when I received an invitation from Honorary Ranger Mr. Farouk Hassan to participate in the camp from March 27-30. I was delighted to say the least and accepted with great alacrity before he could change his mind.
How do you describe the experience of sleeping in a tent listening to lions roaring on the other side of the river? Or hippo grunting as they bathe in pools opposite your tent? The joy of a nature walk which opens your eyes to the so-called small things – each a marvel of creation which truly gives meaning to the phrase – ‘God is in the detail.’ How can I describe the powerful healing power of silence – simply sitting in the shade of the trees in the camp, listening to the birds and the soothing gurgle of the river hurrying along to Mozambique?

Mr. Farouk Hassan’s knowledge, combined with his patience in explaining, his beautiful manners and friendly and highly approachable nature – I truly regretted when the camp ended.


For me the bush camp was not so much about what we saw – and we saw many things apart from all the Big Five – but about being in the midst of nature, the creation of Allah who we worship and whose signs we see in His creation. It was about linking myself to my Creator by seeing His Majesty and Glory in a simple spider web or in the fact that the Diddiric Cuckoo lays eggs of 18 different shades depending on the host species whose nest she chooses for her egg. In each of these small things – which we tend to miss when we rush around Kruger in search of the elusive lion – is a story of the Majesty of the Creator that is amazing, inspiring and comforting.

I was also very fortunate to get some photography lessons from Mems which I hope will enable me to improve my skills. The catering, care-taking and warmth and affection of the two Yusufs and their team, all made the bush camp an experience never to be forgotten.
I look forward to using these learnings in my lectures to get people interested in nature and to drive home the importance of conserving and protecting it – because our own welfare and survival is intrinsically linked to it.

I would like to thank Mr. Farouk Hassan and all the Management of Kruger National Park for inviting me to this camp and to say that I am very happy indeed to have come all the way from India to participate in it.