Nouman Ali Khan is one of my favorite Muslim speaker. His lectures and speeches, often witty and wise, have garnered my attention to study islam. He discussed important but often under-addressed topics like gender relations, peer pressure, partying and losing interest in religion.
This book is a collection of reminders from Nouman Ali Khan and “Putting Life in Perspective” is about reminding ourselves not to forget the true nature of reality: our lives here are temporary. And they are only small window of opportunity to do some good in the world, for Allah’s judgement, whether we are deserving of Jannah.
My favorite chapter in this book is: Connecting to Allah through Dua. This chapter lesson’s coming from the story of Musa (‘alayhi al-salaam). We all know his story from many surah in Al-Quran, and one of his remarkable story that explained in this book is that he accidentally killed somebody (captured in Surah Al-Qasas). He punched the soldier of Fir’awn so hard while defending another man, and he died. So he escape Egypt because they’re looking for him and going to kill him.
Allah guide him through the desert and he got him all the way to the waters of Madyan. And then, he found group of people that were giving their animals drink. Beside them, he saw two woman but they’re not letting their animal to drink water. He sees this scene so he goes up and asks “What’s wrong with you two?” And they say that they don’t want to go among those men because a lot of them don’t respect woman. “Our Father is an old man” meaning he cannot do this kind of work anymore, they are the only ones in the family that can do this work. (Al-Qasas: 23)
Musa (‘alayhi al-salaam) grabs the sheep, he watered and fed the animals and brought them back. And then he goes back and lies down under the shade, and what did he do? He made the famous dua, so powerful that Allah made it a part of His Qur’an: “My lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need” (fasaqaa lahumaa tsumma tawallaa ilaa alzhzhilli faqaala rabbi innii limaa anzalta ilayya min khayrin faqiirun).
Here’s the lessons of Musa (‘alayhi al-salaam):
1. If we made mistake, we should be desperate to find opportunities to do good thing to people.
When you help people, you don’t wait around until they say thank you. You do something good for someone but you expect and converse only with Allah, then Allah will take more care of you than you could ever imagine. Let me remind you that Musa (‘alayhi al-salaam) is pretty much at desperation, got nothing on him. And yet, when he helps these woman, he still expects from Allah.
“Master, whatever you sent down my way” is in past tense. So, it means: “whatever Allah already sent down, I was in desperate need of it”. In other words, the shades and the water is what he gets right now, and yet he still telling Allah “Ya Allah, thank you so much for this, I desperately needed it”. Masha Allah, what an attitude!
The lesson here is that if we have made mistake then we should be desperate to find opportunities to do good thing to other people. Every time there is an opportunity, no matter how tired you are, how exhausted you are, no matter unmotivated your are, you motivate yourself. And what should motivate us? The mistake of your past.
2. When we’re grateful to Allah, he will give us more and more..
Take a look at the next ayah:
The laws of nature can bend when Allah wants them to but the laws of Allah in his book, the laws of guidance, they don’t bend. And what is this law? That when you appreciate what Allah has given you, then Allah will take care of you!
She comes to him and says, “My dad wants to pay you”. He did not say ‘No’. Why? He expected nothing, except Allah. So, when Allah brings people his way, he doesn’t turn it down.
And if you look at the rest of the Surah, you’ll know that not only he got paid, as a matter of fact in the middle of that conversation he got offered the daughter’s hand in marriage; so he got married and on top of that he got a job for eight to ten years. So he got housing, employment, marriage, immigration status, all of it in one shot, because of this one dua! Mashaa Allah
I did cry when I read this chapter. How come this one person, who is in need of protection, in need of shelter, need of food but the interesting thing is he doesn’t ask Allah for any of them? Instead he thank Allah for whatever Allah gave him. Let me remind you that the dua use the word ‘faqir‘ not ‘miskin‘, it means He got nothing. But he choose to be the people of shukr. MashaaAllah, I learned so much from this chapter.
(continue to part 2)