Painting Your Future
You were born as a blank canvas, and you are the painter. Your life is your masterpiece. Your end result depends on your commitment to you.
Take Control of Your Future
Musa was one of the greatest Prophets of God, and through his life we learn the importance of taking responsibility. He taught us you cannot blame your circumstances, as your circumstances may be out of your control, but your actions are yours.
On one occasion, Musa went to the city and witnessed a man oppressing another man. This was a horrific act of physical abuse against the people of Bani Israel, as they were the underclass of society, abused due to their faith. As Musa walked closer to victim, he called out to Musa for help. Musa could not walk away. Compelled to help him, he struck the man, much harder than he anticipated. To his surprise, it lead to the death of the man, an action he did not intend. Regretfully, he called out to Allah. His first response to the calamity was:
“This is Shaytan’s deed surely he is an open enemy who leads [others] astray.” [Músa] said, “My Lord! I surely have been unjust to myself; therefore forgive me.” So [Allah] forgave him; He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Al-Qasas, 28:15-16)
Initially, the verse preludes to Shaytan, but in the following verse, Musa takes full responsibility for his action. It was him who threw the punch, and when he acknowledged his action, an accidental deed, he taught us a lesson. When we take full control of our actions, and seek forgiveness from Allah with full conviction, then Allah will bless us with a great legacy. A legacy as grand and purposeful as Musa.
Similarly, we cannot blame Iblis as his legacy is built on blaming Adam, rather than his taking accountability for his own shortsightedness and pride.
We have great legacies of Ibn Taiymiyyah, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Ash-Shafi’, and Fatima AlFihri. They were not from the time of the Prophet, nor did they ever meet him, but they constantly believed in their ability. They believed Allah had given them all the resources to make the most of their presence in this world. They clothed themselves with taqwa and took control over their future. Then, we have countless men and women who are not known, but they are known to Allah. They don’t have Facebook pages, or an ardent amount of followers. But, they are known on another dimension, loved and cherished by Allah, and His Angels.
Whatever your vision, however grand, or simple, the solution lies with you.
Let the Painting Begin!
As we move forward, I want you to look at your canvas and paint it white. Today is a new start. It may take a while to dry, but whilst you wait, let us discuss how to return to Allah and make the most out of the rest of the year, insha’Allah.
The First Splash of Paint: The deep cleanse
If you know anything about facial products, then you’ll appreciate the exfoliator. It gives the skin a deep, much needed cleanse which purifies the skin’s pores. Similarly, the first paint we will use is tazkiyyah. Tazkiyyah is to take responsibility for your own soul. It is to understand that there is no going back. Hence, as discussed, we have to to take responsibility of our own future. In the Qur’an, Allahcommends the believer who takes on the responsibility of their soul, and goes one step further; purifies it.
He says: “He has succeeded who purifies it. And he has failed who instills it [with corruption].” (Ash-Shams, 9-10)
When Allah is happy with someone, He makes the path to success easy for them. He begins to remove obstacles that fall in their way.
The Second Splash of Paint: Rise above the ocean
Nobody can paint on your behalf, they can guide you, but they cannot do the work for you. Let go of the past which drags you down. Close the book. It has no bearing on your future, as Allah is Al ‘Afuww. He has the capability to completely wipe away all your past, however dark it is. He has the ability to give you a new start, even if you don’t believe in yourself. He has the power to change your destiny, even if you are traumatized by your own failures. When you make an effort towards Allah, He makes the second step easier, until you’re climbing the escalator of spirituality. You will go higher, with ease.
- The first step begins by trusting God with everything. Your failures do not define you. They are just red signals at the traffic lights. You cannot stop there forever. You will be beeped until you move on. It is the only way.
The Prophet was given a heavy message in the Cave of Hira, which left him scared and fearful. He ran to his wife Khadijah, who consoled the Prophet, and reminded him of his character, a proof of his prophethood. The visit of Jibril was a seal of his character. The Prophet of Allah hit a red signal and quickly moved on.
- The second step is to turn to Allah through your du’a.
The Qur’an is full of personal incidents of the Prophets and righteous believers who rose above the ocean. When Adam ate from the tree, he instantly turned to Allah, his heart filled with anguish and grief. Adam rose above the ocean which had the ability to drown him.
They said, “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.” (Al-A’raf, 7:23)
Another example is Prophet Yunus . Allah reminds us that Yunus faced darkness in the middle of raving ocean and his only chance of survival was make a du’a. Allah says:
“And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.” (Al-Anbiya, 7:23)
- The third step is to never give up, and persist in your goal to attain the pleasure of Allah and a special place in Paradise.
This is a practical lesson I learnt from my son Zakariya. I’m always surprised at how many times he’ll fall, but he’ll still pick himself up again, even if he’s fell a hundred times. He taught me to never give up even if I fail. He’s my silent encourager, just by never giving up on himself. If a child has this level of motivation and he is clueless to the reality of this world, then what about us who have been made fully aware of what is to come?
Don’t let your enemies in this life win. Hold on to your weapons and fight Shaytan until you meet Allah, because this is one challenge you cannot afford to lose.
Third Splash of Paint: Re-define Success
As you take full responsibility over yourself, redefine success. Success is not an Engineering or Medical degree. We have the examples of opposites in the Qur’an and seerah. Imagine walking past a beautiful palace with a hundred guards stationed outside. As the King leaves, he is greeted with love and admiration. But, behind the love lies fear. This is a palace which is devoid of any spirituality.
Now, walk down the river and you will smell the foul smell of the ghettos. This is the home of the underclass of society, Bani Isra’il. However, within the ghetto lies a home with a mother who is terrified for her newborn child and her heart is full of the love of Allah. When you look at the palace of Pharaoh, many will assume successful people live here. After all, why are they blessed? But, wealth is not a measurement of success, closeness to Allah is. As we learnt, the mother of Musa was far more wealthy and blessed than Pharaoh, even though she did not have material wealth.
Material wealth may be elements of success, but ultimately, as we learn in Surah Al-’Asr, time is of essence to the believer. You have the example of the Prophet who spent his time calling people to Allah, and Abu Lahab who would drive them away. You have the example of Habil who spent his time worshiping Allah, whilst his brother, Qabil let his jealousy savagely eat up all his deeds, leading to the first murder committed by the creation of Allah. Then we have Mus’ab bin ‘Umair, a young companion of the Prophet who chose to be at the service of the community, rather than spend his time entertaining his friends and wasting his time in useless matters.
As Allah reminds us: “By time, indeed humanity is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” (Al Asr, 103)
Our Parting Message
My dear friend, let us forget the past, and move forward, with our future in our hands, with full trust in Allah.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sister Alima Ashfaq is the founder and director of “I am Alima”, and “Women Of Ilm”. Her aim in life is to assist Muslim women in coming closer to Allah through Islamic knowledge. She has studied under various scholars and students of knowledge in order to gain an extra insight into her religion and to better herself in her role as an “I am Alima” instructor. Sr. Alima has been a part of various organisations and has also held a number of leadership positions. Besides this, she has also lectured in all the main Universities in the UK, including the University of Birmingham and the Sheffield University. She also has a flair for writing and has authored Du’as of Superstars, Love Unveiled and Falling in Love. Furthermore, she has compiled and edited the Threads of Hope in conjunction with Sh. Muhammad Alshareef and I am Alima.