Netherlands: Spiritual evening held under Minhaj Youth League (The Hague)

On Saturday the 16th of April, a spiritual evening themed “Five characteristics of the excellent Muslim” was held in the Minhaj ul Quran mosque located in The Hague. Approximately 80 men and women were present at this beautiful and inspiring mehfil. The evening was all about gaining awareness, reflection and introspection.

The Asr prayer was followed by a beautiful recitation by Mojtaba Hashemi, where after the programme was started. Faizi Nazir, the host of the evening, began an interesting introduction in which he focused on loving each other and being of service to each other. Every good deed is charity and a small gesture like a smile can mean a lot to another person.

After this Secretary General of Netherlands started his lecture, which was the introduction to the lecture of Tasneem Sadiq-al Qadri. The difference between character and personality was explained in detail. Personality is what is shown on the outside at first glance and character is who we are. If we want to achieve something, a development that is worked on thoroughly will be necessary, shortcuts using lists with tips & tricks won’t do it. Everything has to be done quickly nowadays, but a growth in character needs time.

Likewise, Allah SWT doesn’t change the condition of a community, until there is a desire to change from within. Perfecting our character, our mannerism is a matter that is necessary and has to be done actively. Our Prophet (SAW) has been sent as ‘Maharim-al-akhlaaq’, to guide us in the process of perfecting ourselves. Also, it’s worth is shown in these words: “The person that gets to know his inner self profoundly, will get to know Allah (SWT)”.

Between both lectures, Sheraz Malik recited a nasheed in a very melodious way.

Tasneem Sadiq-al Qadri continued the programme, commencing his lecture by stating that character development is by definition a spiritual matter. The process of becoming excellent and developing yourself is called excellence (Ihsaan) and succeeding in it makes you a ‘mohsin’. You can monitor your level of excellence by evaluating yourself regarding five categories, and by doing this at fixed times.

First category: Check your attitude

What is your attitude? Being excellent means being aware of your mental attitude and your intention. You have to let go of the things you’re used to doing. This means coming out of your comfort zone and discarding negligence & procrastination). A very important principle that we should be aware of is that giving up has to do with the strength of our mind and not with our physical strength. The mind dominates the body.

How can intention and attitude be influenced positively? By using knowledge you've gained, for example by turning it into a story. “From the armies of Allah SWT, stories are one army.”

Second category: Check your focus

“How consciously do you make your decisions?” With how much fervour? Imam Koshari stated: “I heard my Shaykh say: the one who clothes his outside with fervour, his inside will be blessed by Allah SWT with enlightenment.” Character-building doesn’t happen instantly. There are three factors which cause problems: disorder of the mental state (which could be caused by eating forbidden food or doing something else that is not permitted), holding on to rituals and the negative side effects of company.

Third category: Check your patience

Patience is steadfastness. The one that achieves patience is open for advice from others. It is impossible to gain excellence without gaining patience. The Prophet (SAW) describes ‘sabr’ as follows: “Sabr is that which is expressed at the first instant when hearing bad news.” Hazrat Ali RA said: “Sabr is a part of Iman in the way that the head is a part of the body.”

Sabr is nothing but to stop complaining. Check your position on the ladder of complaint, the lower you stand the more patience you possess. ‘Sabran jamila’ is the concept of a beautiful form of patience. ‘Sabran jamil’a means going through a hardship without anyone being aware of it. Sabr brings us closer to Allah SWT, as illustrated in this Quranic verse: “Inna Allaha ma'a asabireen”; Allah SWT is with those how have sabr.

Forth category: Check your walk

Walk the talk: being trustworthy. “Ihsaan is doing everything with the knowledge that Allah SWT sees you”. Our Prophet SAW said: “There are three signs of a hypocrite. If he talks, he lies. If he makes an appointment, he won’t keep it. And if someone confides in him he will betray his trust.”

Fifth category: Check your progress

Tafakkur, which is evaluating your progress and your choice is very important for growth. A faithful always learns from his mistakes. In the past the saints used to write down their good deeds and thanked Allah, while also writing down their bad deeds for which they wept. An excellent Muslim focuses on his own flaws and ways to improve himself. Not putting someone else but yourself responsible that will make one excellent.

There was a lot to learn and ponder about after this lecture. The participants were provided with essential knowledge and useful and practical advice. Both speakers gave beautiful and clear lectures, like always. The last lecture was followed by a heartwarming and blessed dhikr, leaded by Mr. Tasneem. In the end, after the formal programme was concluded, there was an opportunity for the attendants to catch up with each other while enjoying tea and snacks.