Existence

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Category: Religion

The Facade of Being “Hard”

Interesting how masculinity today is portrayed as a man who doesn’t cry and how media portray male violence as a normal expression of masculinity. A man is not only demanded to conceal feelings of sadness, he is taught at a young age that even other emotions are not to be expressed. During the time of the Prophet (pbuh), there were some men who believed the same.  Once, while a villager was present, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) kissed his grandsons on the forehead.  At that, the villager said with surprise, “I have ten children.  I have never kissed any of them!” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) looked at him and said, “He who does not have mercy will not have mercy upon him.” [Bukhari] In fact, with regards to showing affection, the Prophet (pbuh) was very clear.  He said: “If a man loves his brother in faith, he should tell him that he loves him.”[Abu Dawud] 

aIslam shows us the strongest of men are those who cry, whose hearts are stirred. This society wants us to be apathetic, to disregard social injustices. Islam guides us to emotional intellect: to be passionate, to be sensitive, to be affected by life. The most stern of Sahabah we know was Umar ibn AlKhattab RA, but the closest to him told us he was the one who cried the most. Reading that it was those closest to him that saw his tears shows us how much we need support from each other, to feel for each other.

The ability to cry, shed tears, sob displays strength of heart. Strength of faith. Strength of our humanity. Strength of desire to change. The Quran repeatedly warns us of hard hearts. Allah says: “And yet, after this, your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder.” (2:74) And the Quran continues to reassure us that those who are closest to Allah have soft hearts: “the skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah.” (39:23)

My biggest concern about men and women my age is that our hearts have strayed, become complacent, and refuse to be stirred by God’s words. I just want us to be better. To be closer to each other. To be closer to Allah. To be able to feel our hearts shake remembering God.

Dunya makes us tired and scars our hearts. Reflections in Salah and reading Quran heal us.

This isn’t “cheesy” talk, as society would label it. This is my sincere advice to us all, myself first. It’s a struggle and we need to start working on it.

 

The Last Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad SAW

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Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Farewell Sermon / خطبة الودا, Khutbatu l-Wada

9 DhulHijjah 10 AH (9 March 632) at Mount Arafat

After praising and thanking Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.

O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

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ايها الناس اسمعوا مني ابين لكم فأني لا ادري لعلي لا القاكم بعد عامي هذا في موقفي هذا. ايها الناس ان دماءكم واموالكم حرام عليكم الى ان تلقوا ربكم كحرمة يومكم هذا في شهركم هذا في بلدكم هذا الا هل بلغت ؟ اللهم فاشهد

فمن كانت عنده امانه فليؤدها الى من ائتمنه عليها. ان ربا الجاهليه موضوع. وان اول ربا ابدا به ربا عمي العباس بن عبد المطلب ، وان دماء الجاهليه موضوعه ،واول دم أبدأ به دم عامر بن ربيعه بن الحارث ،وان مأثر الجاهليه موضوعه غير السدانه والسقايه والعمد قود وشبه العمد ما قتل بالعصا والحجر وفيه مائة بعير ،فمن زاد فهومن اهل الجاهليه .

ايها الناس ان الشيطان قد يئس أن يعبد في ارضكم هذه،ولكنه قد رضي أن يطاع فيما سوى ذلك مما تحقرون من اعمالكم . ايها الناس ان النسيئ زياده في الكفر يضل به الذين كفروا يحلونه عاما ويحرمونه عاما ليواطئوا عدة ما حرم الله وان الزمان قد استدار كهيئته يوم خلق الله السموات والارض، وان عدة الشهور عند الله اثنا عشر شهرا في كتاب الله يوم خلق الله السموات والارض،منها اربعة حرم ثلاث متواليات وواحد فرد: ذو القعده ،ذو الحجه،محرم،ورجب الذي بين جمادي وشعبان . الا هل بلغتّ؟ اللهم اشهد أيها الناس ان لنسائكم عليكم حقا ولكم عليهن حق. الا يوطئن فرشكم غيركم،ولا يدخلن احدا تكرهونه بيوتكم الا بأذنكم ولا يأتين بفاحشه ،فأن فعلن فان الله أذن لكم أن تعضلوهن وتهجروهن في المضا جع وتضربوهن ضربا غير مبرح ،فان انتهين وأطعنكم فعليكم رزقهن وكسوتهن بالمعروف،وانما النساء عندكم عوان و لايملكن لانفسهن شيئا ، أخدتموهن بأمانة الله واستحللتم فروجهن بكلمة الله فاتقوا الله في النساء واستوصوا بهن خيرا الا هل بلغت؟ اللهم اشهد ايها الناس انما المؤمنون اخوه ولا يحل لامرئ مال اخيه الا عن طيب نفس منه الا هل بلغت؟ اللهم اشهد فلا ترجعن بعدي كفارا يضرب بعضكم رقاب بعض ،فاني قد تركت فيكم ما ان اخذتم به لم تضلوا بعده : كتاب الله الا هل بلغت؟ اللهم اشهد ايها الناس ان ربكم واحد وان اباكم واحد كلكم لآدم وادم من تراب اكرمكم عند الله اتقاكم ،ليس لعربي فضل على عجمي الا بالتقوى. الا هل بلغت؟اللهم اشهد

ايها الناس ان الله قد قسم لكل وارث نصيبه من الميراث ولا تجوز لوارث وصيه ولا تجوز وصيه في اكثر من الثلث والولد للفراش وللعاهر الحجرمن ادعى الى غير ابيه اوتولى غير مواليه فعليه لعنة الله والملائكة والناس اجمعين لا يقبل منه صرف ولاعدل . والــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــســــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــلام عليكم ورحمة الله

ايها الناس ان الله قد قسم لكل وارث نصييبه من الميراث ولا تجوز لوارث وصيه،ولا تجوز وصيه في اكثرمن الثلث والولد للفراش وللعاهر الحجر ،من ادعى الى غير ابيه او تولى غير مواليه فعليه لعنة الله والملائكه والناس اجمعين لا يقبل منه صرف ولاعدل والسلام عليكم ورحمة الله وفي هذا اليوم امتن الله على المؤمنين بقوله(اليوم اكملت لكم دينكم واتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الاسلام دينا)

“4 Reasons Why I Wear the Muslim Headscarf” – Aaminah Hernandez

 

” I have never written anything personal on the subject of hijab because it seems like an overdone issue.

Sometimes I think so much focus is put on this one little aspect of being a Muslim woman, to the detriment of more important Islamic knowledge and practice.

Because the headscarf is such a visual symbol of the Muslim woman, many non-Muslims are the ones who make a large issue of it, spout ill-informed opinions, or ask questions in an attempt to understand. This has been answered to by so many Muslim women, and even Muslim men, that I did not feel the need to throw my opinion or feelings out into the fray.

Lately I find I am being asked many questions, even by other Muslim women who choose not to wear hijab, and by non-Muslims who know other Muslim women who choose not to wear hijab. So, the following is my answer to the many questions that have been coming up.

The most common question I have been asked in the past seven years since I became Muslim is “Why do you wear that thing?”My intent is only to give my own opinion and experience. I do not mean to be judgmental of those women who struggle with the issue of covering or to suggest that only one form of covering is acceptable. I can only tell you what I think and feel about the headscarf. If you want to know why someone else does not cover, or covers less or more fully than I, you would have to ask that person to share their experience with you.

“That thing” is a headscarf. I have worn many different styles from bandana coverage all the way to a full khimar, which is a very loose and long head-covering, with a face veil. I enjoy playing with my head cover to match the style of my clothing and to find more comfortable styles.

Right now my favorite style is very loose and draping. I tend to dress more multi-cultural than most American women. In fact, many immigrants who have taken to the American dress code even look at me in surprise that I like to wear many traditional clothing styles. My headscarves reflect my overall style.

The reason I began to wear hijab was simply that I believed (and still believe) it is mandated in Islam. When I first became Muslim I lived in a town that was full of Muslims, most of whom dressed in the traditional ways. Putting on a headscarf (and at that time even a veil) was not a hardship. It was the norm where I was, and I understood it to be required.

There are verses in the Quran and in the collected words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as collected norms and behaviors of the wives of the Prophet and his Companions that show clearly that covering of the entire body and head was enjoined upon and practiced by the early Muslim women.

Besides the simple answer that I am Muslim and believe that the headscarf and covering are required in Islam, many people want to know more detail about why I actually wear it and what the purpose or point of the covering is, particularly if they know other Muslim women who do not wear it.Like most women, I have at times struggled with the issue of covering, but never because I did not believe it was required. There were points in my life where I did not wear it either because of jobs that did not allow it (it is a legally guaranteed right here in the U.S. and your employer must allow it) or because I was tired of being so “different” all the time. But I always felt guilty not wearing it and knew that I must go back to it.

I cannot speak to why so many Muslim women do not wear it and what their state of mind or opinion on the matter is. I refuse to judge them for being in the stage they are in and I do not know what their personal circumstances may be. I can only answer to what I believe the purpose and benefits of my headscarf achieve.

  1.  Modesty. When dressed in a covering way, I am not showing my physical attributes (or perhaps lack of) to anyone. People are forced to judge me by my actions and speech, by how well I do my job or how I interact with others, rather than by whether or not I am “good looking” and interest them.
  2. To that same end, my beauty is then saved for my husband’s full enjoyment and he knows he does not share me with anyone. I am not out getting a lot of attention from others that may make him feel insecure or that is disrespectful to me.
  3. I am noticeably different, a Muslim. Most people respect that. They can clearly see that I am not the kind of woman that you whistle or cat-call at, nor am I going to agree to meet you in a bar or club, nor can you proposition me on the street or in the office. There is a level of respect that men give me whereby they do not treat me in the same way they might treat other women they meet and believe they can “get with”. In fact, in my case, I find that many men (yes, non-Muslims) are more gentlemanly with me in general. I have more doors held open for me, paths cleared for me, more assistance when needed, and an overall respect given to me.
  4. Wearing the head covering works to remind me of my duties. I am more likely to be a better person when I am covered because the headscarf is a potent reminder to me of what type of behavior and attitude is expected of me. I am less likely to lose my temper, more likely to be kind and forgiving, in difficult situations.

In my experience, the hijab or headscarf is beneficial to me. Not only do I have the security that I am following a mandate set by God and thereby pleasing God, but I also experience great comforts in this life because of my coverage.

Contrary to what many think, I am not forced to wear it (I chose it for myself while still single, and as a convert I am not being forced by family to wear it), it is not an obstacle or a discomfort to me, and it does not in any way impair my opportunities or abilities.

I am an independent American woman with a high degree of personal freedom and fulfillment. The headscarf has never stood in my way of doing or achieving anything, but has instead made me more comfortable as I interact in society and my community.

 

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 This article was not written by me. 
Source – http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/growing-in-faith/447376-why-i-wear-the-muslim-headscarf.html

You – The Exalted

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As I place my head on the floor, I pray only for You.
I think only about You.
I dream only about You.
My heart is only You.

You have awakened me from this temporary world,
and empowered my heart with Your Light.
Your Love has opened my eyes and I am not blinded anymore.
My heart burns for You and our Beloved that I wish to see Your Eternal Beauty.

I have tasted Your Love, and I have become insane to please only You.
I whirl in Ecstasy and wish to drink from Your holy cup of wine.
As I try to explain Your Love, I fall speechless for there are no words to describe the beauty of the Exalted.

I spread out my hands and pray.
With hot tears streaming down my cheeks, I ask to forgive every sin that I have committed and every error that I have erred. You show me the true meaning of life and I am bewildered.
I was once blind but now I can see, truly this great beauty living…

inside of me.

A Perspective on Spirituality

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There is this trend to prompt girls in spiritually “loving thyself” to help uplift their confidence. There is another similar trend among Westerners in adapting Eastern spiritual theologies into their materialistic lifestyles. But, spirituality isn’t about becoming “one with oneself.” Spirituality is realizing that you have a spirit, a soul, which needs to be nourished. This soul does not belong to you. Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon. To God we belong, and to Him we are returning. “Returning” is translated in present tense. As in we are constantly taking steps towards Him. We don’t belong to ourselves. We don’t belong to each other. We live together, but separately. The connections we make with others are almost irrelevant to the main connection we must reestablish with God. We exist within our bodies, creating a physical connection already between mind, body, and soul. As we were dismissed from heaven to this earth, we were released of that proximal connection to God. Our body becoming a physical barrier to reaching God. That is why scholars urge for self-discipline against our desires,tasawwuf, because when we overcome these temptations we have a clearer path towards God.

Why do we neglect Him? Why has society convinced us that loving ourselves will make us happy? Why has it created this belief that disbelieving in Him is something to be proud of? We claim we know ourselves better than anyone. But, God has gifted us with so many descriptive details about Him, about the way He created us, about the types of people He loves most, about how divine love comes from Him. We have the resources to know God better than we think we know ourselves. We doubt our thoughts, emotions, and intentions so often, simply because we are imperfect humans changing so often. But God stays. He is here. He is eternally perfect. Nothing about Him changes. His oaths are never broken. Everything we know about Him is directly from Him, His Book, His angel, and His prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Not the sly whispers of strangers or the gossips of neighbors. He gave us direct paths in seeking Him. Why don’t we love Him? Why don’t we love those who love Him?

I’m not saying not to love ourselves, though I think making it an ultimate priority leads to some selfish tendencies and can become exhausting. I believe that in order to love ourselves, we must understand how to love God. Our bodies and minds and habits are constantly changing, so the person you love today, is not the person you will be tomorrow. Whereas, God is never fluctuating, and so loving Him will encompass stability and the ability to expand. Also, focusing on loving God teaches you things about yourself that you would have not known otherwise. Seeing the human attachment to God which you are capable of encompassing allows you to embrace yourself as you are striving to love Him. You see yourself as a strong being with emotional maturity. It is harder to love those around you than it is to love God, because of the natural human flaw of forgetfulness, nasiya, which is why humans are called insaan in the Quran. So falling in love with He Who is perfect will grant you peace within and hopefully bring ease in loving that which is imperfect, humans. And again, as you find yourself loving others, you will learn more about yourself that they will bring you to realize. I believe it is through the connections and interactions with God and humans does one love oneself. You see yourself becoming patient, wiser, self sufficient, and connected–all things to be proud of and love in you.

We don’t entirely comprehend divinity, so we are taught to understand it through analogies. It is known that the love of a mother is easily visible and greatly praised. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab narrated:

Some war prisoners, children and a woman, were brought before the Prophet and behold, a woman amongst them was milking her breasts to feed and whenever she found a child amongst the captives, she took it over her chest and nursed it (she had lost her child but later she found him). The Prophet said to us, “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet then said, “Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.” [Sahih Bukhari]

The second comparison I would like to use is that of the Middle Eastern folklore detailing Qays’s love for Layla, driving him to insanity and leading to his nickname, Majnun Layla, Layla’s Madman. In this story, Majnun’s father has taken him on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca in hopes that God will guide him away from his love for Layla. Upon seeing the Sacred Ka’bah, Majnun says:

They say, “Crush the desire of Layla in your heart.” But I implore Thee, oh my God, let it grow even stronger. Take what is left of my life and add it to Layla’s. Let me never demand from her as much as a single hair, even if my pain reduces me to the width of one. Let her punish and torment me. Let her wine alone fill my cup, my name never to be spoken without her seal. My life shall be sacrificed for her beauty, my blood shall be spilled freely for her. Though I burn for her in agony, like a candle, none of my days shall be free from this pain. Let me love, oh my God, love for love’s own sake, and make my love a hundred times as great as it was and is.

Such was Majnun’s prayer to the All-Mighty as his father silently listened. What could he say? He knew now that he could not loosen the fetters binding his heart, could not find a cure for its ills. There was nothing to do but leave Mecca and start on the voyage home, where they waited impatiently in sorrow and fear. And when they arrived, his entire family surrounded the Sayyid. “How was it?” they cried. “Tell us, has Allāh helped? Is he saved?

But the old mans eyes looked tired and sad, “I have tried, I have told him how to ask God for relief from this curse, this Layla. But he clung to his own ideas.”

What did he do?” they asked.

He cursed himself and blessed Layla.” (Rogers & Nizami, 2002)

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It is curious that Majnun begged of God to preserve and nurture his love for Layla. Majnun loved God enough to confess his astounding love of another being, because he knows God is the source of all love and mercy. The love of God allows us to love others. When you learn to love God, you love with such an extremity of emotion and obsession with the One that you find such ease in loving those you love. Majnun’s love for Layla does not exist without his love for God. Majnun embraced the knowledge of God’s characteristics, of how God loves him, us, that he was able to understand how to love Layla.

References

Rogers, L. & Nizami, G. (2002) “The Fire of Love: The Love Story of Layla and Majnun” p. 31

Muslim Women Need to Make Their Dreams Come True

Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh

In the first few years of my life, until I finished my ordinary level examinations I went to an all girls Islamic school. It’s been five years since I left, and the friendships that I’ve made then with those people happens to be many of the strongest bonds I have even today.

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Majority of my friends there grew up or still grow up with the notion, “You can dream, but you can’t *really* pursue your dreams.”  This isn’t something that they themselves came up with, but from their parents or culture. This is something that really bothers me  and makes me angry even today. But that’s basically how it is.  Their parents know they are smart. They know they are ambitious—but that’s good enough. They don’t have to seek the success they can get.

Muslim girls (majority of them) grow up with this expectation of marriage. You know you’re going to get married, so everything in between now and your wedding day is leisure time. Many girls become productive and acquire a degree, or degrees, depending on how much time you have. You can even think about what you want to do with your degree. You can plan your future, and you can start your future—again depending on how much time you have. But then marriage. See, your plans can’t get in the way. Once you get married, or start having children, your dreams should just remain dreams. “Your husband should be able to provide you with everything you need.”

No. It is God Who provides and we need to show God we are ever grateful by using what He has given us.

They say, “Your husband is your ticket to Jannah.” But, that’s not the core value Islam has instilled in us. Islam wants us to be good. To me, being a good wife is not good enough, because women have so much more potential than that. We were not born and raised to be wives. God gave us life to serve Him by doing various acts of good.

Let’s look at it from a financial perspective: you spend thousands of dollars or pounds on a degree you’re not going to use. They say, “What’s the point of getting a degree when you’re going to be wiping the butt of your baby later?” Firstly, I’m not going to clean my baby’s butt because they think I have to. I’m going to do it out of the goodness of my heart and because it is in the nature of a caring mother. Your excuse is that you’re getting an education so that you can help your children with their homework and to maintain a conversation with your husband. Sure, those are beautiful reasons for others, but is that really using your education to its potential? What about for yourself? You did invest so much time, effort, and money into this. Don’t you want to use it? Of course, having a degree doesn’t mean you have to work in a corporate environment, but it means you have learned tools that can help start an organization, a movement, a private class, or any other source of benefit for society. You want to be an athlete and motivate other girls? Be one. You want to start a designer business? Open it. You want to be a doctor? Wear that white coat. Seriously, just do something. We try to use the excuse that working towards what we want is selfish and will jeopardize a happy family structure. But…

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Aishah bint Abi Bakr RA is known for memorizing ahadith, having knowledge of judicial Islam, being skilled in medicine, and advising Muslim leaders in war. Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan came to Aishah for advice before pursuing a war. Later, during his Khalifah he consulted Aishah, who told him, “Please Allah and you shall please His people. If you please the people before pleasing Allah, know that Allah will be displeased with you and eventually the people will soon be displeased with you.”

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid RA was the ambitious woman we know to have proposed marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) while he was employed by her. She managed a business and raised the children of the Prophet (pbuh). He ran for hours down the mountain, Jabal Al Noor, to her when he needed comfort and advise after the first revelation. She went to her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal to discuss her husband’s revelation.

Umm Amarah Naseebah RA was one of the first two women of the Ansar to accept Islam. One of her most important activities was taking part in the fighting of the battle of Uhud with her sons and husband. They always surrounded the Prophet (pbuh) and continued to protect him when the Muslims were threatened with defeat. The Prophet (pbuh) told Umar bin AlKhattab RA that wherever he turned, right or left, he saw Umm Amarah fighting to defend him.

These women and all our Sahabiyat are our role models. They were amazing wives, mothers, business women, and advisers. They didn’t wait for the Prophet (pbuh) to tell them what to do—they did it. We need to apply their historical examples today. Also, I think it comes down to having Barakah (good fortune) in our time. We need to be more productive. We need to be better at time management. We need to be better planners and executors.

You don’t have to abide by today’s cultural standards of womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood. Marriage is not something that shouldn’t be sought, but it is not something that should hinder your performance in anything you have dedicated yourself to. Just look at what the best women of Islam have done for us, because without them, we would not be Muslim. Prove to our society today that we can be just as influential, vital, and powerful towards the success of Islam. So, please pursue your dream. For the sake of God and for yourself. Be a good wife, mother, and member of society. Don’t ever settle, because we are travelers in this life and we must keep moving and changing and trying.

 

Image Source – Iranian photographer, Shadi Ghadirian, from her “Qajar” series (http://shadighadirian.com/index.php?do=photography&id=9#item-1)

Myth: “When We Get a Leader…”

When Muslim communities fall apart and their own government wrecks states. We often hear statements such as, “If only the ummah had sincere rulers…” or “another Umar Ibn Al Kattab (may Allah be please with him) is what we need”.

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A misapprehension that our ummah has is that we believe, leaders suddenly appear from nowhere and make our ummah great. Salahuddin Al Ayyubi was great because he came from a society, which instilled the values he needed in him. He was surrounded by teachers, absorbed Islam, and an ethic of tireless work for the ummah. Compare this to our own society. From early age we are assaulted by contradictory messages from parents, teachers, TV, advertising, and peer pressure. We have no role models, or poor ones who are reluctant to step up. How will we create leaders then, our own Salahuddins? Leaders are not created in a vacuum; they grow organically and it takes an entire community to grow them. Until we have this community with the right character to raise leaders, we will stay in the state we are in.

Our condition is apparent just looking around us today. Islamic knowledge is at an all-time low in our ummah – we do not even feel the necessity to study matters of our religion in depth, but expect others to provide for us. We only turn our thoughts to Allah in times of calamities, as now, expecting to be saved. Will we return to how we were after the trials have ended? There is no shortage of people sharing the blame. But you can do nothing to change the way the Saudi government spend their oil money, and it is futile to focus your anger on that. If you cannot even get up to pray fajr in its correct time, how can you still feel an entitlement for Allah to bring change to the ummah.

The rulers come from the people. When the people are good, their rulers will be good. When the people are righteous, the rulers will be righteous. But when the people are selfish, vain, and ignorant, and have wandered so far from the path that their creator has given them they can expect nothing more than a ruler who mirrors them perfectly. When we stray and abandon Islam, failing to apply it properly for a hundred years, we reap what we sow in the form of our rulers. To sum this up, the great scholar, Sulaymaan ibn Mahraan, said, “If the people become corrupt, they will have the worst leaders.”

In History
There was only one leader in the first Muslim community. Later, only four companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) became the rightly-guided khalifas. 1500 others did not. Think about that, and how their names live on today regardless of them never having held such a title. We don’t only remember what the leaders did.

Two of the most famous and crucial battles in Islamic history were not decided by leadership at all. Who won the battle of the ditch, and saved Medina from destruction? It was one man’s idea, which was carried out by the entire community. And on the other side of the coin, who lost the battle of Uhud? It was lost because of the archers forgetting their responsibility to remain in their positions, even though they were a small number. They let the entire ummah down; they were not ready to do what was required. Both battles had the same leadership, but no amount of it would win the day if the entire community wasn’t mobilized and active.

The last generation which worshipped the concept of a heroic leader ended up with Gaddafi and Mubarak. With the Arab spring, the age of the self-proclaimed heroes with a body covered in medals is over. Each person contributes to our success, and each person is a cog in the machine. If you fall for the “when we get a leader…” myth, we’ll be here a long time.

“…إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ…”

“…Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…”

(Qur’an 13:11)

So what is it that we can do? Well, you don’t need a great leader in order to tell you some of the things our ummah currently lacks. Focus on:

Tarbiya (development and training of people in various aspects) The collective character of Muslims today is in an appalling state. We cannot succeed as a community when feelings of nationalism and supremacy fill us with arrogance and tear us apart. Worse yet, we cannot even disagree without taking offense or hurting our brothers and sisters in Islam these days. We have lost even the most basic etiquettes of interaction with each other, and modern technology threatens to make that worse. Sheikh AbdulAziz bin Baaz said, “The believer should not oppress his brother, or act unjustly towards him if he differs with him over a opinion from the issues of Ijtihaad, in which the proofs may not be clear or issues in which there may be differing interpretations of the text. He may have an excuse, so you must advise him and love the khair (goodness) for him and do not allow the differing to induce and prompt aggression and discord between you. Do not enable the enemy to take advantage of you and your brother.” Allah also warns us to watch what we say to our brothers in the Quran:

وَقُلْ لِعِبَادِي يَقُولُوا الَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَنْزَغُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ كَانَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ عَدُوًّا مُبِينًا

“And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces [dissension] among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.”

(Qur’an 17:53)

True Muslims would know how important following the etiquette of social interaction is as Muhammad ibn Sireen also said, “They [the previous scholars] used to learn manners just as they use to learn knowledge.” Which brings me to my next point…

Knowledge – we lack it, but we need it. All kinds of knowledge are beneficial, whether religious or not, but we have an obligation to understand our deen and be comfortable with it. Knowledge is not power; contrary to the popular saying, it is only potential power. Without action it is nothing. Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi says, “Don’t have knowledge without acting and don’t act without knowledge.”  Sufyaan Ath-Thawri also says, “Knowledge knocks on the door of action. If it receives a reply, it stays, otherwise it departs.” The companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) would learn only a few verses of the Qur’an at a time, and they would return to learn more only after having implemented them in their lives. As Imam Ash-Shafi’ee says, “All humans are dead except those who have knowledge. And all those who have knowledge are asleep, except those who do good deeds. And those who do good deeds are deceived, except those who are sincere. And those who are sincere are always in a state of worry.”

Think globally and act locally – we can very rarely directly influence what is happening on the other side of the globe, but we can always change our local communities. Is YOUR local masjid well looked-after? Does it act as a beacon, encouraging even non-practicing Muslims to join their community? Does it provide an Islamic education for all who need it? How about serving the poor, teaching non-Muslims about Islam, providing a good example, and all of the countless causes you could be serving? Don’t just complain about issues, or you will be like those that Al-Hasan Al-Basree saw disputing and said about them, “These ones have become tired of worship. Speaking has become easy for them, and their piety has diminished, and that is why they talk.” So get involved.

Do not give up- because there are so many things wrong with us that sooner or later you will want to. Even Ibn Taymiyyah felt unsatisfied with his efforts that he told his students, “Verily, I constantly renew my Islam until this very day, as up to now, I do not consider myself to have ever been a good Muslim.” But no matter how small, every effort you make will be rewarded, and everyone makes a difference. So no matter how hard it is, and no matter what difficulties you face, never give up. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal once said, “Occupy yourself with every good deed and hasten to do it before something prevents you from doing so.”

 

An important dua for us to remember:

“.اللهم أجعلنا ممن نصر هذا الدين”

Oh Allah, make us amongst those who give Your religion victory.

And last of all, remember your priorities and correct your ultimate intention. We are travellers in this world; and we shall leave it someday, and everything we thought was so important will become dust. Take care of your relationship with Allah first and foremost, and He will take care of everything else.

I’d like to leave you with one last quote of Al Fudayl ibn ‘Iyaad:

“If you can be unknown, be so; it doesn’t matter if you are not known and doesn’t matter if you are not praised. It doesn’t matter if you are blameworthy according to people, if you are praiseworthy with Allah the Mighty and Majestic.”

Image source – http://www.muslimvideo.com/tv/search_result.php?search_id=Umar 

A Proposal for Change

Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh

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Everyone has his or her personal jihad, but we’re all in the struggle together. See, Shaytan doesn’t center his efforts on the disbelievers, because they are already astray. But rather he preys on us Muslims trying to divert us from the path we’ve already testified as truth. In that, we should push aside our differences and focus on identifying and overcoming the same enemy we all have.

And yet I wonder, how can we call ourselves Muslims? Our sisters are sexually assaulted, physically abused, and emotionally degraded in Abu Ghraib. Our brothers are dehumanized, stripped of identity, denied basic rights, and forced to admit inexistent crimes in Guantanamo. Our children are orphaned, maimed, lost, hungry, and homeless in Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Our families are suffering all over the world. It is our fault.

How can we pray five times a day so insensitively? We believe in Allah, right? We do recite the Shahada to prove that? But do Iman (Faith in God), Taqwa (God-Consciousness), and Tawheed (Believing in the Oneness of God) really reside in our hearts?

I have a crime to confess. I’ve forgotten what Islam, the way of life I follow, calls upon me to do. I’ve forgotten that Allah has placed me on this earth to take on the role of khalifah when He says in Surat Al Baqarah,

“And [mention, Oh Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (khalifah).’” 

I’ve forgotten that every breath I breathe is a blessing. I’ve forgotten that my life is to be dedicated for the cause of Islam. That cause is to protect what is in harms way. To speak what needs to be spoken. But more importantly, to DO what NEEDS to be DONE.

Allah tells us in Surat Ar-Rad,

“Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

I propose a change, and it has to start within myself. I will be more aware of God. Knowing that no matter what I do will never come close to repaying Him for even a single blood cell I have running through my veins, I will still strive to show Him that I’ve spent my life making an effort to prove to Him that I am grateful of what He has bestowed upon me—no matter what form it comes in. As He says in Surat Al-Baqarah,

“You may dislike something although it is good for you, or like something although it is bad for you. God knows and you do not.”

I will continuously remember Allah, going over blessings which I initially believe to be insignificant. We do take the time to thank a person for an unwanted gift, but what about the necessities Allah gives us every moment?

I will help the state of my Ummah, reciting the same dua Musa (peace be upon him) made regarding his followers after they went astray,

اللهم أهد قومي فإنهم لا يعلمون
Allahumma ahdi qawmi fa’inahom la ya’lamoon.
“My Lord, forgive my people for they do not know.”

I will protect the oppressed, spreading awareness of human rights issues, as well as making dua for them so Allah can change their fate. (Public activism is an extremely essential part, but we can not neglect the importance of what I like to call ‘our spiritual activism’.)

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It is narrated by Abu Dharr in Sahih Muslim in the Book of Remembrances, Supplications, Repentance, and Seeking Forgiveness, Number 6588:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Dua of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side and whenever he makes a beneficial Dua for his brother the appointed angel says,  ‘Ameen and may you also be blessed with the same.’”

I will recognize right and wrong, fulfilling the purpose of life as Allah swears in Surat Al-Asr,

“By the Afternoon Hour, Verily Man is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience.”

I will strive to be a better Muslim each day, asking Allah to protect me from the Shaytan and overcome my human temptations to walk on a diverted path.

I will be a Muslim.

Image source 1 – http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5051/joint-statement-on-syria-from-archbishop-justin-and-archbishop-vincent

Image source 2 – http://www.tutufoundationusa.org/2012/10/war-for-peace-the-moral-and-legal-case-for-intervention-in-syria-2/

Distinguish Culture from Religion

Some Muslims have practices that are outside of Islam, such as adopting saints as intermediates to God, overly superstitious attitudes, using witchcraft, and female oppression.

I think the reason the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and India still have such deviant cultural practices tied to Islam is because when Muslims liberated their lands during the spread of the Muslim Empire, the residents were kind of taught Islam in a “crash course” style. It took Prophet Muḥammad (Peace be upon him) twenty three years to bring Islam to Makkah and Madinah, eliminating regressive cultural practices appropriately with timely revelations. The newer Muslim regions didn’t have that privilege when adopting the religion, thus confusing pagan practices with Islamic law later. So it’s important to note that Islam was taught in stages and if you drown people in religious rulings, they would find it hard to accept Islam.

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A friend shared something beautiful regarding the issue:

This reminds me of an incident during the reign of khalifah ʿUmar ibn ʿAbdulʿaziz. When he witnessed his own Muslim people straying from their obligations, his son addressed him: “O father, the Muslims are falling short of the law; why haven’t you enforced all of shariʿah in your courts?” His father, the khalifah, replied, “O son, if I were to hold the people upon the truth all at once [i.e. Islamic rulings], they would abandon the truth all at once.”

يابنى لو حملت الناس على الحق جملة واحدة تركوه جملة واحدة

This is why scholars say it is important to distinguish culture from religion as we adopt Islam. It’s also a phenomenon I’ve noticed in 2nd generation Muslims; they want to learn Islam from scholars, not exactly from their parents.

 

Image source – http://whap.mrduez.com/2011/11/targets-chapter-11-islam.html

Learn Forgiveness From Abu Bakr (RA)

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SubhanAllah I read this and it really touched my heart and made me think how sometimes our arrogance and stubbornness doesn’t allow us to forgive others.

After Ayesha (ra) was slandered in the most horrible way, Abu Bakr (ra) was very upset. The man who had begun the rumour was a cousin, who Abu Bakr had been supporting financially. Abu Bakr withheld the sadaqah he had been giving to the slanderer when he learnt about the rumours. But soon after, the following verse was revealed:

Let not those among you who are endured with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want and those who migrated in the path of Allah. Let them forgive and overlook. Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? Indeed Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” (Quran 24:22)

After hearing this Abu Bakr wanted Allah’s forgiveness, so he continued with the sadaqah and also increased the amount of money.

In sha Allah we are all able to react in the same manner to the words of our Creator and benefit from His Mercy and reward.