Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Something Called Usrah

Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim

Assalamualaikum WRT WBT

What is Usrah? Read on to find out :)

Allah Taala said in Surah Al Alaq:
“…Sujud and come close to Allah.”
(Al Alaq: 19)

We want to be close to Allah, to feel His love. But how?

One of the methods to keep close to Allah is thru Usrah. It is constant, it helps you to be istiqamah. Usrah from one point of view is a way to maintain your level of Iman, and in the same time increase it. And by having constant reminders, new knowledge from the Al-Quran and Hadith, insyaAllah He will keep us on the Siratul Mustaqim.

So Usrah is great for you. If you only knew.

My question to you is, when was the last time you actually sat and concentrated in learning about your religion? Some might answer high school, some of those more fortunate would say, I had a subject in uni.

But again, how is 5 years learning "pendidikan Islam" in high school enough? We were barely adults then. We were small, young and naive. No ounce of maturity at all. We didn’t know better. Do you really remember what you learnt?

Usually after every Usrah, you'll get this refreshing feeling, like a new beginning, a new start with your Iman tank full of enthusiasm. That's what I feel after my Usrah session. It's very hard to explain the feeling you get with Usrah. I love the Usrah group I am in now. Going to Usrah for as long as I can remember, changing Naqibah, changing groups, getting new group members, having member being changed to other groups -- its been a great journey.

You'll get a lot of different feelings -- from being reluctant to attend, being too lazy, too tired, and giving excuses. But later, it changes to waiting patiently each week to meet up, feeling like the discussions during Usrah being too short, feeling that the discussion you have during Usrah so interesting that you don't want to stop, having the feeling of love and ukhuwwah with your group mates that you pray really hard you will be reunited in Jannah, having the feeling of wanting to help them however you can, and share all the ilmu you have with everyone in the group so that we'd all be able to spread it to others too. I have been thru every feeling you can think of, either it be negative or positive.

I should admit that there was a time where I disliked my usrah group (I’ve changed groups a couple of times now), and I really didn't like to attend. I found myself finding every excuse under the sun for not going -- Im not feeling well, I have a family matter, I have an office matter, my friends are here, etc etc.

But later you will realise that attending Usrah is like a lifeline. It’s like a time and place you refill your fuel (Iman) with reminders and Islam for your journey. So, no matter how much you might dislike the methods of your Naqibah, or you dislike a few members of your Usrah group, you still go because you know it's a necessity for you. For your own Iman, for your own Akhirat.

During my undergrad studies, there was a time I stopped going altogether. During that time, you'd think you're strong enough, you'd think you have enough ilmu on Islam, you'd think your basics in Islam is enough, and you'd think that listening to online lectures is enough to refuel your Iman. But my dear friends, its not enough. You need maintenance.

As the days past without attending Usrah and having people remind you about Allah Taala, you will start diverting from the right concepts. Your hijab/tudung start to become shorter, you start changing your principles bcoz it suits your needs at the time, you start thinking about unimportant stuff like fashion, you start reading really weird books, fashion magazines, attend events that you would have never thought of before. You start to loosen you boundaries, your amal is decreasing, and your ibadah start to become insincere.

Without your friends to guide you, without reminders from the Quran, Hadith and Sirah, without support from friends, without having a support group to help you better yourself, and a group of friends who practice biah solehah, you will in the end divert and crash on the side of the road.

I felt that once. You will feel different and feel like you are so far from Allah Taala. But that feeling is your fault because Allah has never moved, He is still close by. But it's you who chose to step away.

But alhamdulillah, Allah brought me back into this Biah Solehah. The ukhuwwah, the ilmu, the reminders, the amal and ibadah we do together, the meeting with the intention of remembering Allah Taala. It becomes a majlis ilmu that insyaAllah is surrounded by the angels who are praying for us.

However, you need a lot of things in order to obtain knowledge. Going to Usrah isn't an easy thing to do. The ease and enjoyment comes over time. Here are two important things you will need to understand:

1. Sacrifice
You need to make a bunch of sacrifices. You will have to choose either you want to watch your favourite TV series, play with your kids, indulge in your hobbies, finish doing work from the office, do overtime because you want extra money, OR putting all those aside for one specific night for just a few hours to concentrate on refreshing your Iman.

These sacrifices are not easy. I speak from experience. But once you realise its importance, it will no longer become a sacrifice. It will be something you look forward to every single week.

2. Sincerity
You will need to be sincere in your quest to increase your Iman thru gaining knowledge. Usrah is not a class, but a “family” that sits down together and talk. We talk about issues, we talk and share about interpretations of Allah’s Holy Book, and we talk about the Sunnah and akhlak of Rasulullah S.A.W. We talk about how to increase our ibadah, we talk about our family, our husbands, our children and how to make our household into a house with strong foundations of Islam. Summarizing it all, we talk, discuss and take action on how to obtain Allah’s Redha and be reunited in Jannah together. We strive to become Soleh Wa Musleh. Become good and invite others to be good too.

Sincerity is important because being sincere makes the heart free of prejudice. Be sincere in wanting to change to become someone better and Allah will be there to help you every step of the way. Allah’s help will come in the form of the people around you. The company you keep will help you strive to become a better Muslim, together. Be sincere in helping others, and be sincere and willing to be helped.

Through years of going to Usrah, and now having a few groups of usrah under my care, I learnt a few things. We must always be husnuzon (think positive) towards our Naqibah (naqibah is the leader of the group). And as a naqibah, I also must be husnuzon towards those under my care.

I have also learnt that as a person who attends usrah (I have an usrah I go to every week under my own naqibah, and I have a few groups where I am the naqibah), I must always renew my niat whenever I attend my usrah. And as a naqibah, I must always renew my niat too.

Another thing to remember is Allah’s ayat in surah Ar Rad: 11

Allah SWT said:
"For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: They guard him by command of Allah. Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). But when (once) Allah willeth a people`s punishment, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find, besides Him, any to protect."
(Ar Rad: 11)

Allah will not change you if you yourself do not have the effort to change. It is a matter of choice. Whatever you do on this world is your own making, your own decision. Going to usrah? Not going to usrah? Again, it is your choice. If you really want to go, you are sincere, and you have put in an effort, then Allah will insyaAllah ease your passage. But if deep down in your heart, you don't really want to go, then Allah will give you a reason not to go.

For those who really want the chance to feel what usrah is, feel the nikmah of ukhuwwah and be constant in their effort to become a better Muslim, then please inform me. Tell me and I can help you however I can. I have friends who attend usrah all around Malaysia. If you are Malaysians studying overseas, InsyaAllah I can help you too. Where there is a will, Allah will always find a way.

May Allah ease everyone reading this post. And may Allah reward you the opportunity to celebrate this coming Ramadhan.

Wallahu a'lam Bissawab

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