What is Jihad?

What is Jihad?

“Jihad” is a word that has come to mean a myriad of things:  terror, kidnapping, armed attacks, suicide bombings, masked gunmen shouting violent slogans of hatred, Islam and Muslims… the list goes on. It may come as a surprise that Jihad does not actually mean any of these. The following article briefly examines the meaning of Jihad and provides a contextual explanation.

The word “Jihad” in Arabic simply means “struggle”. It comes from the root word “Jahd” which means to spend energy for a certain cause. In the Islamic context, this jihad or struggle, is classed into different categories. The highest category is the struggle against one’s “nafs” or against one’s own desires, inclinations or baser instincts.  The struggle to overcome one’s own weaknesses is regarded as the highest form of jihad. For some this could be giving up an addiction, for others it could be replacing a bad habit with a good one. Some may struggle with their life circumstances just to put food on the table while others may struggle to overcome mental health issues, suicidal tendencies or drug abuse. This jihad with oneself necessarily involves introspection, self-reflection and self-critique. Improving one’s character and soul to be true to Islam, is jihad. Only people with complete honesty and the ability to look within for solutions, are able to attain this level of jihad. Refraining from following Satan and his temptations that lead away from the path that is approved by Allah, is also the highest jihad.

Spending money in a way that pleases Allah, is classed as jihad. This may include obligatory charity (zakah), voluntary charity (sadaqa), or money spent in any other cause intended for the welfare of people or communities or to spread the message of Islam (dawah).

Finally, jihad also refers to armed resistance undertaken for self-defence. It must be noted that Islam prohibits offence, and only allows self-defence when one is under attack or threat. Non-combatants, civilians women and children are automatically immune from attack and mistreatment. Obviously the tenets of Islam are laid down as explicit expectations for  people to follow. However, unfortunately, jihad has come to mean unprovoked, vicious and violent attacks against Muslims and non-Muslims by people purporting to be Muslim. Such irony is unparalleled. It is indeed time for discernment between the true essence of jihad, and what its layered and controversial understanding has become.

Do Muslims Support Terrorists?

Do Muslims Support Terrorists?

At a time when all news is overrun with acts of terrorism, often perpetrated by someone calling themselves Muslim, the question “Do Muslims Support Terrorism?” is clearly at the forefront on many people’s mind.

Underlying the media portrayal of Islam as terrorism, which is a toxic belief that is taking hold of our collective psyche, a belief that Muslims support terrorism.

As a Muslim, I am against to the idea of someone assuming to know what my beliefs are, especially if I am being associated with terrorism, acts of crime and hatred and even general mistrust. Whenever any act of violence or terrorism is reported in the media, several Muslims I know, and myself, hope that the aggressor is not supposedly Muslim. The fact is that anyone acting in a way that contravenes the principles of justice and peace cannot be called Muslim and normal everyday Muslims do not even recognize such people as part of their community or religion.  There are more than 1.6 billion Muslims in the world spread across diverse regions, countries, cultures, societies and professions. In the United States alone, there were 3.3 million Muslims in 2016, all hailing from several different ethnicities and backgrounds. There is no homogenous “Muslim”, much less a Muslim that supports terrorism in any of its forms.

The proof of this is that a Muslim is an individual who abides by the divine law given by the Creator, Allah, to all humans. And Allah  tells us in the Quran that whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he has killed all of humanity, and saving one life is equal in reward to saving all humanity (chapter 5, verse 32).  In another place (chapter 17, verse 33), Allah tells us not to kill anyone, and when someone is killed unjustly, his or her heir can demand retaliation or forgive the aggressor. In any case, murder, terrorism and oppression are all strictly forbidden. If terrorism is committed “in the name of Islam”, or if Islam is cited as the reason for violence, then it is time people become more discerning and understand the essence of “true” Islam is completely opposed to this ideology.

As Islam does not condone or tolerate terrorism, the term “Muslim terrorist” is an oxymoron as a Muslim by definition cannot be a terrorist, and it stands to reason that no “true” Muslim can support terrorism or people who perpetrate it. As readers and viewers of mass media become more informed, it is hoped that the terms “Muslim” or “Islam” will not be used in conjunction with terrorism as this association demeans Islam and is insulting to  the community of everyday peace-loving Muslims.

(Post) Future Planning

(Post) Future Planning

In today’s world we are always planning for our future. Our present is constantly engaged in planning for the tomorrow that is to come. Jobs, careers, education, housing, income, investments and retirement plans are all subject to a lot of consideration and scrutiny.

So much time, money and effort is spent on organizing our life so that we achieve what we have defined as success- be it earning a certain income, cultivating a particular persona, looking or dressing in a manner that reflects our status or buying an item that represents our success.

 





Now for a moment imagine yourself without any of the external and material things that you have accumulated or achieved in your life so far. Right now, at this instant, if you were picked out of your surroundings and dropped in the middle of a featureless plain, how would life be? What if you had no clothes, food, water, shelter, conveyance, friends or relatives to help you? The helplessness and desolation anyone would feel in that situation can only be imagined. And yet, no matter what our life circumstances are today, that is a situation we are heading to without any doubt.  I am not talking about a post-apocalyptic world after a crisis, but the condition of each one of us on the day of judgement when we are awoken after death. Some of us might have been dead for many centuries and some might have died when the trumpet is blown by the angel Israfeel whose job it is to announce the end of the world. Some of us may have been rich and comfortable in this world and some impoverished and in hardship. In any case, on the day of resurrection we will all be the same- with no clothes, riches, helpers or any markings of wealth, status or education.

And that is the day we need to plan for. All our planning and organization, and strife and struggle, needs to be focused on the day when we will be bereft of anything from this world. So what is the point? The point is not to step out of our worldly commitments but to continue living with the awareness that there is more to life than just planning for our remaining worldly life.  Post-future planning refers to the accumulation of a different kind of currency, one that will carry over with us when nothing else will. And that is the currency of deeds and actions.

Allah tells us in several places in the Quran that the reward of good deeds is paradise:

But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to gardens under which rivers flow (i.e. in paradise) to dwell therein forever. (Chapter 4 verse 57).

And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer- those will enter paradise and will not be wronged, (even as much as ) the speck on a date seed. (Chapter 4 Verse 124).

Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds- for them are the gardens of pleasure, wherein they abide eternally; (it is) the promise of Allah (which is truth). And He is the exalted in Might, the Wise. ( Chapter 31 Verses 8 & 9).

So the risk of not planning for our post-future is too great to contemplate. Our eternal life is at stake right now, more so than our future on earth.

So let us collect the currency of good deeds and future-proof our post-future while we still can.

Perfection

Perfection

Allah tells us in the Quran (Chapter 5 Verse 3) that “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion”. Upon comparison, we realize that Islam is the only religion among all other religions of the world, that has covered all aspects of human life extensively. From the rites of birth to those of death, from the mundane to the sublime, everything has been meticulously explained. Food, drink, marriage, upbringing of children, nursing, education, marital relationships, care of parents, rights of friends and neighbors, rights of spouses, rights of women, inheritance, social welfare, care and protection of orphans and widows, health and medicine, crime and punishment, trade and business, contractual obligations, the creation of the universe and everything in it…. The list is endless.

When Allah, who is the source of everything that is perfect and beautiful, says to something “Be”, it comes into existence in exactly the way commanded by Allah (The Quran, Chapter 36, Verse 82):

His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it “Be” and it is.

It is part of the Islamic faith that the word of Allah cannot be doubted, and what is stated in the Quran, is the direct and unchanged word of God. This being the case, the Quran is the greatest proof and affirmation of the perfection of Islam and its status as the religion chosen by Allah for all His created beings who have free will (humans and the jinn).

So how is it that the way of life that Allah has perfected and completed, is perceived as lacking or inferior in so many respects today?  Obviously, the deep chasm between the intended essence of Islam and reality, cannot be ignored. In fact, even Muslims who are not familiar with true Islam and accept that the way it is being represented, as its true form, are being misguided away from Islam. The abuse of women, the kidnapping of young schoolchildren, the killing of innocents, war crimes against women and children, the injunction against girls from getting educated, domestic violence, honor killings, demand for dowry, global terrorism and many such atrocities are being committed in the name of Islam. The perpetrators of such violence have little or no understanding of the perfect way of life advocated by Islam and exemplified by prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). It is a tragedy of unimaginable proportion that we live in a period when the essence of Islam is being overshadowed by its very antithesis perpetrated by people who call themselves Muslim. It is the responsibility of each one of us to first, educate ourselves in the matter of our religion and second, to spread this knowledge to as many people as possible. Only by taking on individual and collective responsibility can we hope to realize the potential of our perfect religion to live our lives as a peaceful, productive and progressive community.

Indeed, the following dua reported from the hadith of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is most appropriate for overcoming our deep divisions, factions and hatred:

O Allah! Reconcile (with love and understanding) between our hearts. And resolve our (broken) affairs. And guide us toward peace and paths of guidance. And take us out of the darkness (of falsehood, ignorance, evil, etc.) to the brightness (of truth and guidance).

Man Builds a home for Homeless

Man Builds a home for Homeless

A kind act by a man who builds  houses for homeless people.  This might seem insignificant to someone who is enjoying the benefits of a home but for a person who does not have anything this act of kindness will change their life for good.

Hats off to this man who took it as his responsibility to help this woman.

 

 

The Creator and the Created

The Creator and the Created

Allah tells us in the Quran (Chapter 51 Verse 56) that the only reason mankind and the jinn (another creation of Allah made of smokeless fire) were created, is to worship Him. But in order to fulfill this purpose of our life, it is necessary for us to recognize who our Creator is. Countless people have lived and died without paying much attention to who their Creator is, so it was impossible for them to worship Him as was His sole right.

Allah tells us in many places in the Quran, that His nature is such that our limited human minds cannot fully comprehend His immense power, grandeur and supremacy. Indeed, “There is nothing like unto Him” (The Quran, Chapter 42 Verse 11). This being the case, it is pointless to compare Allah to any of His creations or to believe that He has any of their attributes, qualities, nature, limitations or essence. Likewise, Allah tells us in Surah Ikhlas (The Quran, Chapter 112) that He is the One, who is unique, single and indivisible, and “Nor to Him is any equivalent” (Verse 4). As He was also not begotten nor does He beget (verse 3), there is no possibility of Allah having ancestors or descendants who share His unique features.

All the creations of Allah contained in the universe, animate and inanimate, are not part of Him, and neither does He reside in any of them. This refutes the “God is everywhere and in everything” claim.  This means that Allah is not in all His created things, but that His knowledge about them is complete and perfect, and that they are under His control in every respect. One of the names of Allah, Al-Aliim (the All-Knowing) has been mentioned 157 times in the Quran, emphasizing His perfect knowledge, “from whom not even an atom’s weight is hidden” (Chapter 34 Verse 3).

While differentiating between the Creator and what He has created may seem like a trivial thing, it is anything but. If we cannot make this important distinction, we fall into a very serious error of judgment, confusing what we must consider mundane and whom We must worship as the Supreme. The reverence accorded to people, animals, places, astral bodies, natural phenomena, and even body parts, are all a result of this confusion.  The difference between the created and the Creator, therefore, is the difference between shirk (association or partnership with Allah) and tawheed(belief in the Oneness of Allah).

The Missing Millions

The Missing Millions

China is home to an alarming fact: more than 500,000 elderly people go missing every year. That is 1300 people aged over 65 are reported lost every single day. Where are these elderly people disappearing? What is happening to them and who is responsible?

China’s law has legislated that children are responsible to house their parents. However, China’s one-child policy, introduced in 1978, restricted people from having more than one child, unless the first  child was a girl, or they belonged to an ethnic minority. According to the Chinese government, this policy prevented approximately 400 million births. Consequently, the generation which had children in the 70s, which is the over-65 population now, has to depend on their sole child through their old age.  If a child has died or moved away from home for work, these elderly people have no one to care for them. To make their plight worse, it is reported that a large percentage of these elderly suffer from dementia and alzheimer’s, or some other memory impairment. Of those who are found, 25% go missing again, in the absence of a support network or close family to care for them.
The one-child law was finally changed by the Chinese government on 1 January 2016, replacing it with a two-child policy. This is too small and too late a step to undo the monumental damage already done.There are 114 million people over 65 at present in China, the biggest elderly population in the world, and  another 90 million are expected to reach retirement in the next 30 years. This is indeed a crisis of unimaginable proportion unless steps are taken to prevent further loss of life and to ensure the well being of these missing millions.

Michelle Obama on Donald Trumps Comments

The first lady, Michelle Obama, delivered an emotional speech about Donald Trump and the effect of his actions and personality, on women’s psyches, calling them “sexually predatory behavior”. Watch her powerful message to all women:

Life of the Grave

Life of the Grave

The three existential questions asked again and again, in various forms and permutations, over the centuries are:

Where did we come from?

Why were we created?

Where will we go after death?

All three have been answered in great detail in Islam. However, for the purpose of this brief paper, the last of these will be discussed. Death has been called many things, among them is the popular title of “the great leveler”. What this means is that the way a person lived in this world, their status, occupation, wealth, reputation, family connections, children, authority, poverty, vulnerability, health, weakness, and all these categories which together form our identity- will all ultimately be leveled, or made equal in the grave. Sure, some people may get a grand farewell, some people may be buried with riches or laid to rest in an expensive coffin laced with satin and silk. However, once the grave closes in, a person is all alone.

Correct Islamic belief teaches us that this is not the end of life. Rather, it is the essential stage for entering the afterlife. What happens to the body and soul of a dead person  is not visible to the human eye. It is instead part of our belief in the unseen, and cannot be doubted as its basis is in the Quran and the hadees.

Once in the grave, a person’s soul is taken to heaven by the angels who extracted the soul at the time of death. A person whose deeds merit heaven, his or her soul will be taken up to the third heaven, they will be told that they have been successful on account of their deeds, and have earned the right to heaven. They will be congratulated by a multitude of angels and their name will be entered into a register of the inhabitants of paradise, called Illiyuun. The victorious soul will then be carried ceremoniously back to the grave, and returned to the body. The body will be anointed in perfume and clothed in fine clothes. The grave will be expanded and lit up brightly.

At this point, two angels, called Munkar and Nakeer will enter the grave. They will be very stern in their manner and their appearance will be fearsome. They will have teeth like the horns of a bull and they will come ripping the grave open. They will question the dead person and ask these three questions which will be asked of everyone who has died:

Who is your God?

Who is your prophet?

What is your religion?

The answers to these questions are straightforward: Allah, Mohammed (peace be upon him- or the prophet of the time when the person was alive), and Islam respectively. When a person answers Munkar and Nakeer correctly, two windows will be opened in the grave. One will show the sight of hell with all its punishment and suffering. The other will show the eternal blessings of heaven. The first window will be closed, and the person will be told they have redeemed themselves from hellfire due to their deeds. They will be told to sleep a peaceful sleep until the day of judgment when they will enter paradise. A companion with a pleasing countenance will be sent to the grave, to be with its occupant until resurrection. The person will be told that this companion is the representation of the good deeds done by the person in life, which accompany them to the grave.

The matter of the unsuccessful soul, however, is altogether different from the above account. When the grave closes in over such a person, their soul is taken up to heaven but the doors of heaven are closed upon it and it is unceremoniously thrown back into the grave. The angels are commanded to enter the person’s name into Sijjiin, the register of those who will inhabit hell. The grave is made dark and tightened over the body. When Munkar and Nakeer enter the grave and ask the three questions, the person will not be able to answer them. The two windows showing paradise and hell will be opened, but the sight of paradise will be closed, and the person told that they have forfeited the right to paradise on account of their deeds. An ugly, fearsome companion will be ordered to remain with the unsuccessful person until the day of resurrection, and these are the represented deeds the person committed in the world. Such a person will be clothed in fire and made to lie on a bed of fire until resurrection.

These are brief details of what will happen to a person after death. When we have this knowledge, specific parts of the Quran alert us to live a life which will enable us to be registered in the book of Illiyuun and to earn a place in paradise:

Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you

Until you visit the graveyards.

No! You are going to know.

Then, no! You are going to know.

No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty…

You will surely see the hellfire.

Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.

Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure. (The Quran, Chapter 102).

Islam and the Presidential debate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both answered a question by a Muslim woman, Gorbah Hamed, in the second presidential debate.  Her question was: There are 3.3 million Muslims in the US and I am part of them. You have mentioned working with Muslim nations. But with Islamophobia on the rise, how will you help people like me deal with the consequences of being labelled a threat to the country after the election is over? Watch this video to decide for yourself who is the best person to lead the country and under whom Muslims in America will not be considered a threat but be recognized as an integral, productive and peaceful part of this country.

The Rope of Allah

The Rope of Allah

Allah tells us in Surah Al-Imran (Chapter 3 Verse 103) to “hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided”. Think of the times when someone might need a rope- when someone is drowning, has fallen into a pit, or is stuck in quicksand, or experiencing any other such crisis. A rope is a strong, reliable thing you would trust in such a situation, and hold on to tightly to get out of danger. The metaphor Allah gives us here is one which is open to many rich meanings and possibilities. The general meaning conveyed is that if we want safe passage to the afterlife, the rope of Allah, or the true Islamic way, is our surest way of getting there.

The rope of Allah, according to the scholars of tafseer or exegesis, could mean the covenant of Allah or the Quran. We are directed to unite as a community and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood; by allowing division and factionalism, we cannot create a community which will be able to hold on to this rope effectively. The pledge or covenant of Allah is further explained in the next verse:

And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.

When a person gets a tight hold of the “rope”, it means that he or she does not let go of the principles by which a Muslim is to live.  This deen of Islam is what is regarded as the most important possession and savior of a true Muslim. Right, wrong, permissible, impermissible, halal and haram, are decided in accordance with the laws of Allah, not by personal choice.  The world is likened to a crisis, out of which an individual can escape unharmed by holding on firmly to the rope of Allah. The promise of Allah explained above, is a solemn oath by our Creator and hence cannot be doubted. This is not a weak rope or a fleeting promise. It is not a rope which will buckle or break under pressure or over time. It is a strong, sturdy, dependable rope which can never break until the end of time. It is the supreme life-line extended by Allah to us, and it is a favor that He has done us by giving us such an unfailing security of success, if only we hold on firmly.

If we individually or collectively, allow all that is good and forbid what is wrong, allowing peace and harmony on earth, we are to be successful, and the rightful occupants of jannah.

Greed and Desire

Greed and Desire

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that he feared two things would be the downfall of his ummah or followers- greed and desire. Both of these originate from the mouth (palate) and the private parts. When a person makes his or her desires overtake the framework of Islam, the desires start controlling thought and action. A person loses the ability to see desire as a human weakness, but instead starts following them blindly.

Desires can be of many kinds- the desire for wealth, possessions, authority, beauty, strength, virility, or the desire for children or women. Greed for more, combined with uncontrolled desires, is a recipe for a disaster. Allah reminds us of the danger of letting greed and desire rule us, instead of submitting to His will:

Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him?….They are not except like livestock. (The Quran, Chapter 25, Verses 43-44).

The first part of the above verse makes a very serious statement. Replacing God with anything is an unforgivable act of shirk or associating partners with Allah. It is the sole right of our Creator to be worshiped and to be obeyed. By making our desires a “god”,  which we follow and obey, and live for its attainment, we commit the gravest sin of shirk, casting ourselves eternally  into hell-fire. Temptations, greed and desires are satan’s vile methods of leading people astray:

Beautified for those who disbelieve is the life of this world, and they ridicule those who believe. But those who fear Allah are above them on the Day of Resurrection… (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 212).

People who follow their desires wantonly without the moderation of faith, and the belief that they are answerable to Allah for their actions, have been likened to animals who have no control over their base instincts, and no higher purpose to fulfill in life.

Many people believe that their youth and adulthood is to be used primarily for indulgence and for the fulfillment of their greed and desire. Once these are completely satisfied, their old age can be conveniently used for the remembrance of Allah and to secure a place in jannah. However, we must realize that no one knows how long he or she will live. As Muslims, we are to submit our own will, needs and desires to the commands of Allah, and live each day as if it were our last. And Allah reminds us of our duty to be submissive to Him, “O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him]” (The Quran, Chapter 3, Verse 102).

The clear path to protecting ourselves from Satan, and ultimately from hell-fire, is simple. Allah gives us the example of a person “who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah” and commands us to “enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan…” (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verses 207-208).

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew

Killer Hurricane Matthew which killed hundreds in Haiti is about to hit America and has been termed as a monster hurricane. The states of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina have already asked  residents to move out of the area where this hurricane is about to hit land.

Those who have not moved out of their homes are urged to take shelter at the places organized by local authorities. Please spare a moment and pray for the safety of all the people who are in the path of this devastating hurricane Matthew. May Allah protect the lives and property of everyone in the path of hurricane Matthew

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

What does food for thought mean? We eat food for survival, nourishment, health and pleasure. In the same way, we keep our mind alive and full of vitality by giving it appropriate nourishment. Without food, our bodies weaken, become ill and ultimately perish. The same holds true for our minds. Without good thoughts, nourishing and replenishing our energy, our minds weaken and eventually wither away.

Just as we monitor what we eat and not just eat whatever comes in front of us, it is equally important to monitor what we think. Our thoughts have the ability to permeate our beings and color our mood, disposition and over the long term, our personality.  People who feed their minds negative thoughts will develop a negative personality. The same is true for pessimism, sarcasm, self-doubt, self-berating, self-loathing and any other type of intrapersonal communication (communication with our self). We have the choice to constantly feed our minds with positivism or negativism, optimism or pessimism, hope or despair, boost our self-confidence or undermine it. Ultimately, whatever we say to ourselves creates our own reality. For example, if a student achieves very high grades, but expects himself to be graded at 100% and never less than that, he will be unhappy even if he scores 98%. He might even feel depressed and say to himself that he is a loser because he scored less than 100%. It is obvious here that the problem is the student’s internal standard, according to which he decides success or failure. What we tell our inner self, therefore, determines whether we feel like we succeeded or failed. This is especially important for our younger generation because we often hear of young people who cannot face a crisis, failure or a difficulty and suffer a nervous breakdown or even commit suicide. It is their self-talk which makes them hopeless and helpless at a time when they actually need to bolster their confidence and harness their strength to pull themselves through a rough situation.

If we continually feed ourselves unhealthy, rotten food, we cannot expect to maintain a healthy body. In the same way, unhealthy thoughts that do not nourish us emotionally or mentally, spoil our personality and create an emotionally and mentally sick individual.

Whether you think you are right or wrong, either way you are correct. Be careful and monitor what thoughts you consume.

Raising Children- Practise What You Preach

Raising Children- Practise What You Preach

A few days ago I wrote about some issues I had observed among children and young people with regard to their behavior, beliefs and the general direction their life was headed in. My aim is to flag some pertinent points and articulate this issue as a complex one that has many facets and many factors that contribute to it. The first and most significant factor is: Parents!

The first thing that needs to be considered in the behavior of children, is the behavior of parents. This may seem odd or surprising at first, but this is not a simplistic statement. If we take a good, hard look at ourselves and do not shy away from self-critique, we will realize that our children are our mirrors. In almost all respects, children from a very young age, learn to emulate parents and learn from them. If a mother smiles at her baby, she smiles back. If a toddler sees his father talking in a certain tone, he copies it without even understanding the meaning. As children grow up, they recognize some behavior as normal, which is what we, as parents, feed them. This normalcy may or may not be the standard in the wider society, and may or may not be constructive for their future life. It is therefore very important that as adults we identify what behavior we want our children to learn as normal, how we want their surroundings to be and how we can shape their future in accordance with our own beliefs and values.

For example, if we want our children to be productive in life and not waste precious time aimlessly surfing the internet, we need to become their models first. If we spend countless hours in the same activity we want our children to avoid, it is never going to happen. It is common to hear parents complain that their children do not speak to them but are instead only using their mobiles, talking or texting. However, digging just below the surface will reveal that such parents have cultivated that kind of atmosphere in their home. Communication between parents and children and even between parents, is minimal. All family members have their own phones, usually the latest and most expensive versions. The phone has become a central feature of the home, and even a necessary link to the world; even a few minutes without it makes people jittery and restless. Take away the phone or disconnect the internet and people start looking mournful, as if someone close to them has died. No wonder then that children are losing the art of communication- because parents have lost the art of communication.

The examples are endless. If you want children to respect you, then show respect to your elders. If you want them to converse with you, turn off the television, phones, and the internet and stop making these your props in life and reconnect with your children and spouse. If you want to inculcate knowledge about Islam, solid beliefs about right and wrong, and bring up a family the way that prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) taught us to do, then spend time to gain the knowledge which you can pass on to your children. Do not expect them to become ideal citizens, good Muslims, obedient children, productive and successful individuals, if you cannot exemplify these qualities yourself.

Personally, in our family we have taken conscious steps to minimize anything that disturbs the way we want to mould our children. We chose not to have cable television, we do not have music in the house, phones are only used to make calls, we speak to each other and listen to each other, our habit is to communicate, we are attuned to each other’s emotions, joys and stresses; we discuss all types of matter- worldly, academic, religious and anything else that crops up. We relate all important discussions to Islam and use examples from the sunnah to show our children what kindness and good behavior are; we set expectations in line with values grounded in Islam,  we tell stories from the history of prophets, and the children regularly quiz us about facts from Islam, science, history and various subjects that they research.

Over the years our parenting style has been called many uncomplimentary things by those who know us. We have been called old-fashioned, odd and austere. However, our children have thrived on the soil of our upbringing. They are happy, vocal, expressive, caring, respectful, obedient,  intelligent, interactive, enthusiastic, inquisitive, creative, well-adjusted, level-headed, reasonable, practical, and have an insatiable appetite for learning. And the best part is that the foundation of their life is Islam, and they are gearing up for a life of success in the material sense and the Islamic sense. So we are content with being old-fashioned, odd and austere!

For creating a close, loving, warm and caring family, we have never needed anything that required a phone or hours of surfing the internet. The crux of the matter is this: practise what you preach. It takes a lot of determination, hard work and commitment but the reward of securing success for your family in this life and the afterlife, cannot come easily.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting

Achieving Your Goals

In today’s hectic pace of life, it is common to lose sight of the destination we are headed to because we are too busy focusing on the road. Day-to-day life and the routines of work and family life take over all the available time and before you know it, the earlier goals and  aspirations are a thing of the past. However, in order not to lose sight of where you are headed, I have put together just three simple ways which have helped achieve my goals. These are tried and tested means which have been passed to me by my mentors- educationists and successful businesswomen. These strategies can be used for any number of situations. The concepts can be extrapolated to suit the present situation and may evolve to include your specific goals.

Start with the end in mind

It is a good idea to start with the end in mind. This means having a clear idea about what your end-point looks like. Use visualization to mentally “see” the picture of what success means for you.  For example, a student may visualize himself or herself completing a graduate degree in the long-term,  or passing an exam within a specific grade-range. Or maybe the goal is to buy a house or set up a business. Add as much detail as possible to this goal. What does achieving the goal feel like? How are you placed financially at that time? Who are your associates or colleagues? Where is your office? What does it look like? How does your home look?

Having all these details sets up your mind for success and subconsciously it works  to achieve these goals. Some psychologists believe that the mind cannot distinguish between what has happened and what you visualize in rich and vibrant detail. Therefore it is doubly important to feed your mind positive images and thoughts. Negativity can actually undermine your chances of success as your mind then starts believing you have already failed.

 Sharpen the saw

Sharpening the saw is a metaphor for working on yourself getting the tools of your trade up to the mark. A woodcutter is not going to get very far with a dull or weak saw. Likewise,  It is imperative that you acquire the skills needed to succeed. No amount of organization or visualization will  get you to the finish line unless you have developed the skills to get you there. Do not be satisfied with being average or mediocre but aim to become the expert in your chosen field, whatever that may be. I have met several people who rate different work as good or bad, or don’t  undertake work they consider is beneath them. Understand that no work is superior or inferior in itself.  It is what you make of the work that gives you an edge over the others who may be doing the same thing.

 Keep on keeping on

While I was studying towards my doctorate, my mentor and supervisor always advised me to “keep on keeping on”. It sounded odd, but as the long months and years of research, interviewing, writing, teaching, and preparing for the doctoral exam spanned on, it became clear that she was really talking about perseverance and resilience.  Perseverance, the ability to hold on to your dreams with tenacity, is a vital characteristic of successful people. Success does not come easily or readily. Sometimes it takes years, decades, or a lifetime before you can claim it. Resilience is the attitude which keeps you from breaking down in the face of difficulty and strife. It helps you get back on your feet after set-backs and helps you get back on track and headed towards success.

Attitude is Everything

Attitude is Everything

Note from Editor: Over the years I have had the opportunity to work alongside people with various disabilities. What stood out most for me was the attitude with which they went through life, surpassing challenge after challenge, not expecting any special privileges nor expecting any less from themselves. Here, one of my former colleagues, Tim Johnson, gives a first-person account of his serious injury which requires him to use a wheelchair for mobility, no movement from his chest down, and with limited use of both hands. His work ethic, academic achievements, success as a Paralympic athlete, his unlimited zest for life, his dedication as a father and sharp wit make his physical limitations seem very insignificant by comparison. In the six years I worked with Tim, I learnt the meaning of a “can-do” attitude. I realized how easy it was for able-bodied people to take their bodies for granted and how we focus on our inabilities rather than celebrate our abilities.

I broke my neck, C6/7,  in a car crash in 1995 and in hindsight  I am amazed I survived,  considering  I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was likely speeding, the driver had been drinking and to top it all off I was in the back of a work van using a 10 litre paint can as a seat. I did my rehabilitation at a specialized spinal injury hospital and was there for just over 3 months. The only complication from rehabilitation and the injury was a few small bruises and I managed to get a pressure area on my right hip at about the 2 month mark. A real good lesson on why you should avoid these like the plague. Two weeks bed rest was a very real experience of why one should look after their skin. I had a great support network and I worked really hard during my stay so I basically left the unit in many ways very independent. This was I feel a very important thing as the more you can do for yourself the better. Going home was OK but a bit of a struggle as my mother’s home wasn’t modified by then so I spent a few months having to drive to an accessible venue to shower. Thankfully this wasn’t too long and eventually home was accessible and meant I could come and go as I please. The biggest part of my independence was when I eventually purchased a car. Driving independently was huge and something I cannot do without.

tim-johnson1I was studying toward a Bachelor of Engineering at University at the time of the injury so had a year away from study before returning full time, completing my BE Hons in 1997. I have done a lot more study since then and have a Diploma of Teaching, Master of Engineering, Graduate Certificate in Career Counseling for Elite Athletes papers and have recently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Business Administration which is the precursor to an MBA while working full time as a Team Manager.

I have also had success on the sporting  field, playing and administrating in Wheelchair Rugby. The ultimate achievement was winning Gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and being honored as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Disability Sport in August 2015.

There have been numerous challenges but overall, they have simply been an opportunity to overcome and learn from each experience. It might sound pretty cliché but it really is what makes us stronger and breaking my neck was overall just another one of life’s challenges. I’m often asked would I go back in time. I truly feel I wouldn’t as I have had so many opportunities due to my injury and done so much that I couldn’t imagine what things would have been like had I not had the injury. They would have just been different. Would I have studied as much as I have? Would I have seen as much of the world as I have? Would I have represented my country on the sporting arena? Would I have met such a great woman as my wife? Would I have 3 children, Toby almost 4 yrs old, and twins Phoebe and Ollie almost 2 yrs old? Would I be working in a great role within a great organization? I simply don’t know the answer to any of these.

I didn’t overly enjoy breaking my neck and don’t enjoy the issues that come as part of being tetraplegic with very limited function but one thing for sure is there’s nothing I cannot do if I truly want to do it, wheelchair or not. It might take a lot longer and be damn frustrating at times, however I am truly lucky to be alive and have the abilities I have. There is no doubt many individuals are far worse off than me so there is no point dwelling about things or complaining when things get hard.

I say to people to treat me the same as anyone else. I’m no different cognitively, I just can’t walk. I also recommend that if you wish to assist me, all you need to do is ask. 90% of the time I will reply with just a “thanks for asking, but I am ok” , in the 10% of instances that I do take up the offer I also ensure I thank them for helping no matter how small or large the act of service may be.

It’s a struggle but hard work is always going to be a struggle. The benefits and rewards from this make me who I am.  Try new things, learn other ways of doing things and learn from others. Do this and the injury in many ways disappears.

 

Life for a Believer

Life for a Believer

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said “The world is a prison for a believer and paradise for a non-believer”. This means that for a Muslim, one who submits his or her “nafs” or desires wholly to Allah to please Him, the world is full of restrictions and limitation. Everything in Islam is subject to checks and balances. If one has money, zakah or obligatory charity is due upon it, if one has rights , there are counterbalancing responsibilities. If there is freedom of choice, that choice is restricted by the criteria of halal (permissible) and haram (non-permissible). Every relationship a person has, be it biological, through marriage or even with neighbors, is subject to strict guidelines. There is no random or wanton freedom to do what one pleases in any aspect of life. Every thought and action, sin and virtue is being recorded to be weighed against one another on the day of judgment.

Just as a prison places restrictions on choice, freedom, movement, eating and drinking, routines and an individual’s wants, Islam expects people to exist within a framework of rules and regulations. There is no tangible or physical prison, but the metaphor of a prison is appropriate because a Muslim lives as a prisoner. A prisoner obviously awaits freedom. A Muslim lives in the worldly prison hoping and expecting reward from his Creator, for living in self-denial and following the rules which have been set by Allah. Such a person expects the greatest reward of jannah promised to those who have patiently endured the trials and hardships of the world. The inhabitants of jannah will never endure any hardship, pain or suffering. They will experience eternal joy, contentment, gratification, fulfillment and indulgence. Their austere and restricted worldly life will seem like a very insignificant price to pay for attaining jannah, and for being close to their creator.

However, for those who believe that the life of the world is all there is, there is obviously no reason for them to restrict themselves in any way. They are able to enjoy every pleasure at their disposal, use their wealth for themselves, follow their desires and live to enjoy life to the fullest. Without the thought of an afterlife or the criterion of halal-haram, the only checks and balances are those imposed by contemporary society, if they adhere to the society’s rules. There is no internal locus of control. The treatment of people, selfless sharing of money, being upright and steadfast, are all subject to relativism. What may be regarded as morally good in one society or at a particular time may be morally lax in another society or at a different point in time. Without a constant and unchanging standard, an individual can live in a self-created utopia. While such a person can enjoy his or her worldly life or possessions, they cannot expect the eternal reward of jannah.

 

Housewife takes on ISIS

Housewife takes on ISIS

An Iraqi woman has taken it upon herself to fight ISIS, the self-proclaimed Islamic state which is wrecking havoc through its terror tactics all over the world. She and her men, part of a tribal militia, recently helped government forces drive ISIS out of the town. In the man’s world that is rural Iraq, female fighters are a rarity.

Wahida Mohamed described herself as a housewife; her home has been attacked several times over the last few years by the ISIS. She says they have tried to assassinate her six times, and she has shrapnel in her face and legs and her ribs have been broken, but she is undeterred and leads an army of men to fight ISIS, and was fighting Al-Qaeda before that. Her first and second husbands, her father and three brothers have all been killed by ISIS. She, in turn, has pledged to fight and uproot them and support for her strategies is growing phenomenally.

Why Obama won’t say “Islamic Terrorism”

Why Obama won’t say “Islamic Terrorism”

President Barack Obama has made some very pertinent comments about why he won’t use the term “Islamic Terrorism”. He echoed the sentiments of billions of Muslims all over the world when he called Muslims peace-loving and responsible, and said that he did not want to lump Muslims along with the murderers who are terrorists. President Obama reminded the CNN audience that Muslims in America are fellow troopers, fire-fighters, teachers, neighbors and friends. He used a hypothetical example of a group of people who start killing other people in the name of Christ- they would not be allowed to represent all the Christians of the world in their deplorable activities. And the same hold true for Muslims, who do not want  to be associated with terrorists when they do not agree with what is being carried out in the name of Islam. Watch the full video here:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/28/politics/obama-radical-islamic-terrorism-cnn-town-hall/index.html

The Five Kalimahs

The Five Kalimahs

The five Kalimahs (phrases) facilitate the easy memorizing and learning of Aqeedah (Islamic beliefs). There is no compulsion in Shariah to memorize them. When they came into existence is unknown.

Kalimah Tayyibah (The declaration of faith in Islamic monotheism)

Laa ilaaha illallaahu Muhammadur rasoolullaah

There is none worthy of worship besides Allah, Muhammad [peace be upon him] is the messenger of Allah.

Kalimah Shahaadat (The Muslim testimony of faith in Islamic monotheism)

Ash-hadu an-laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahoo laa shareeka lahoo, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhoo wa rasooluh

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship besides Allah. He is alone. He has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad [peace be upon him] is His servant and messenger.

Kalimah Tamjeed (The declaration of the glory of Allah)

Subhaanallaahi wal hamdulillaahi wa laa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu Akbar, wa laa hawla walaa quwwata illaa billaahil aliyyil adheem

Glory be to Allah. All praise be to Allah. There is none worthy of worship besides Allah and He is the Greatest. There is no power and might except from Allah, the Most High, the Great.

Kalimah Tawheed (The declaration of the Oneness of Allah)

Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahoo laa shareeka lah. Lahul mulk, wa lahul hamd, yuhyiy wa yumeet biyadihil khayr wa huwa alaa kulli shay-in qadeer

There is none worthy of worship besides Allah who is alone. He has no partner. For him is the Kingdom, and for Him is all praise. He gives life and causes death. In His hand is all good. And He has power over everything.

Kalimah Radd Kufr (The declaration of the refutation of disbelief and polytheism)

Allaahumma inniy a’oodhu bika min an ushrika bika shay-an wa ana a’alamu bihi wa astaghfiruka lima laa a’alamu bih. Tubtu anhu wa tabarratu minal kufri wash-shirki wal kizbi wal ma’aasi kullihaa aslamtu wa aamantu wa aqoolu laa ilaaha illallaahu Muhammadur rasoolullah

O Allāh! Indeed I seek refuge with You to be saved from all kinds of polytheism which I know about and I beg Your forgiveness for that which I do not know about. I repent from that and I free myself from disbelief and idolatry and all wrong doings and I have accepted Islām, and proclaiming my belief, declare:
None is worthy of worship except Allāh Muhammad [peace be upon him] is the Messenger of Allāh

Raising Children- Contemporary Issues

Raising Children- Contemporary Issues

Anecdotally, there is sufficient evidence to state that there are major issues in the way most families are raising their children, and the effect of their upbringing is the root cause of various serious problems at an individual as well as at a societal level.

The lack of appropriate Islamic upbringing is most noticeable in children who:

  • spend most of their time using electronic devices
  • are disrespectful towards their parents and towards other family members
  • answer back habitually
  • believe they are not answerable to anyone for their actions
  • are more influenced by peers rather than Islam
  • are argumentative even in trivial matters
  • display self-destructive tendencies
  • are self-centered and self-absorbed
  • spend more time interacting with screens than with people
  • do not consider marriage important
  • are involved in music, internet-surfing, watching movies or in other such activities instead of doing anything productive
  • are ungrateful and negative
  • have no regard for their parents’ hard work
  • are not inclined towards advancing themselves academically, professionally or spiritually

The above list in not meant to be exhaustive. It is instead just a snapshot of the type of behavior which is becoming increasingly common among young people. The real danger is that it is becoming so common that it is regarded as normal. In my conversations with mothers whose children indulge in such behavior, the most common reason they have brought up is that their son or daughter was born in a western country and therefore it was normal for them to behave in such a manner. It is time parents are reminded that Islam is not bound geographically. The principles of Islam are not meant for a specific group of people at a specific period in time. The issues that societies face at different times vary greatly. However, as Muslims, we believe that the solution to those problems lie within Islam and that it is our duty to utilize the tenets of our excellent religion to overcome them.

Obviously, the topic of raising children in Islam is a vast one, and which cannot be covered in the scope of a brief discussion. I hope to raise some important and pertinent points in the forthcoming articles covering various aspects of raising Muslim children. If you have tried and tested ways by which you have successfully raised Muslim children, do share them with other readers in the comments section below.

Five killed in Mall Shooting

Five killed in Mall Shooting

Five killed in a shooting at a mall north of Seattle. Five people were shot and killed at a  Macy’s store at the Cascade mall in Burlington on Friday evening. At least one suspect is at large and a large-scale search is underway. Police are looking for a male suspect wearing grey, who has been seen on the store’s camera holding a hunting-style rifle.

Sgt. Mark Francis said authorities are looking for the suspected gunman who was last seen walking in the direction of Interstate 5. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said officers were working to apprehend the shooter.

Meanwhile, residents are urged to remain indoors, lock their doors and stay safe. Governor Jay Inslee tweeted, “Follow detour warnings, stay close to friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect’s capture”.

No Compulsion in Religion

No Compulsion in Religion

Islam expressly forbids force or compulsion in the matter of faith and religion. This may be hard to believe in our contemporary time fraught with so much hatred, bloodshed and insecurity. Ironically, the labels “Muslim” and “terrorists” have become synonymous, and the in-fighting between and among Muslims is also gaining shocking momentum. This is seen clearly in the instances of violence perpetrated by Muslims against Muslims. Therefore this is an opportune time for us to be reminded that Islam advocates peaceful co-existence with people who hold different beliefs, and demands that we establish cordial and cohesive bonds with other Muslims irrespective of regional, cultural, racial or linguistic differences.

These powerful verses from the Quran give a very clear message:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong (chapter 2 verse 256).

And

I do not worship what you worship

Nor are you worshippers of what I worship

Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship

Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship

For you is your religion, and for me is my religion (chapter 109 verses 2-6).

Here Allah, our Creator, who knows us best and who knows what is best for us, is commanding us never to use force or coercion in the matter of religion. Islam has differentiated between right and wrong, but it is up to an individual to decide his or her own beliefs. To follow one religion or another is a matter of personal choice. The freedom of religion is, and should be, one of the fundamental rights of all humans. “For you is your religion and for me is my religion” is an eloquent and dignified affirmation that we can all follow our religion without impinging on, or antagonizing someone else’s religion or way of life.

No Muslim can ever refute what is written in the Quran, as it is the direct word of Allah. This being the case, no Muslim should try to force anyone to accept Islam or any of its tenets.

The Pinnacle of Success

The Pinnacle of Success

Everyone craves success. The common denominator in all our pursuits and endeavors is to attain the goal of success. Everyone’s idea of success is different, and so is everyone’s definition of it. Just as no two individuals are alike, no two perceptions of success will ever be identical. For some, success is shaped in the form of wealth, for some gaining a qualification, for others it is recognition or popularity and for yet others it is bringing up a family to reflect specific values or customs. Even pre-modern societies define success differently. In a tribe of Africa, a successful man is regarded as one who can bravely go up to a pride of feeding lions armed only with a long spear, and steal part of their hunt away from under their noses! In another tribe of the Amazon, a successful man is one who can climb up a tree hundred of meters high, defying gravity, and bring down a beehive full of honey to feed his family and tribe. These examples are just an illustration of the different ways in which success is measured.

Having said that, as Muslims, there is only one ultimate goal, one pinnacle of success we strive for all through our lives. And that pinnacle, is Jannah. There are no other alternative meanings of success, because everything we have done in our worldly lives, has been with the goal of jannah in mind. All other actions and worldly pursuits, do not sit independently of this goal, but feed into this goal directly or indirectly. For example, when we fulfill the five pillars of Islam, we know that the resultant rewards directly influence our afterlife. The indirect influencers are the things we do in our seemingly non-religious aspects of life, such as interacting positively with strangers, being kind to our neighbors, dealing fairly in business and speaking up against injustice. The fact is, there is no action or word that can either help us climb that ultimate pinnacle of success, or detract us from it. Getting to the pinnacle is of course not meant to be easy. It is not a stroll on flat land or a cruise on a scenic river. Climbing to the very peak asks for stamina, resilience, courage, persistence, determination, obstinacy, planning, integrity, strength.

The pinnacle of Jannah is worth it. The choice is yours.

Bombing Suspect Caught

Bombing Suspect Caught

The bombing suspect in New York Ahmad Rahami is now captured.

He was first spotted about 6:45 a.m. by a bar owner as he was sleeping in front of his establishement, as Bains was watching CNN from another business across the street, he recognized the 28-year-old as the person wanted for questioning in this weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey, and called cops

When officers confronted the suspect, he pulled out a handgun and shot one of them.

People who were in the area at the time gathered after the gunshots rang out and captured footage of Rahami, who looked dazed as medics wheeled him into an ambulance.

He was taken to a hospital with his hands shackled behind his back.

Two officers were taken to local hospitals and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Rahami was charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer stemming from the shootout.

Another misguided youth has ruined his own life and the lives of several others. We wish he had followed the path of true ISLAM.

http://www.www.muslimwindow.com/a-terrorist-cannot-be-muslim/

http://www.www.muslimwindow.com/suicide-is-strictly-banned-in-islam/

 

A request to all readers to please share this so that this violence and terrorism needs to stop NOW.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

There are many theories about why bad things happen to good people, about why seemingly good, virtuous people often seem to lead difficult lives, interspersed with calamity, disaster and suffering. We all know people who have suffered tremendous losses or had catastrophic health problems, and yet have never hurt anyone or done anything remotely wrong their entire life. So that leaves us with the question: why do bad things happen to good people?

The theory of karma would say “what goes around comes around”. It explains that the actions of an individual shape his or her future. In other belief systems (Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, for example), individuals are born and reborn endlessly as different life forms until they attain salvation. Depending on their previous life’s sins people are rewarded or punished in the next life.

However, Islam has a logical alternative to these theories. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.”
Allah, in His wisdom, has decreed that by being patient through suffering and by asking Allah (and only Him) for his mercy and forgiveness, people get a chance to increase their reward and facilitating their way to jannah . And our Creator, knows us best, He tells us in the Quran (Chapter 2 Verse 286): Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned…

So when bad things happen to good people, it is because those good people are being tested for their mettle, their faith, their trust and complete reliance on Allah. They are being tested so that their patience and gratitude in the face of adversity and suffering will be shown to them on the day of judgment in their book of deeds. And when their good and bad deeds are weighed against each other on the scales of Allah, their good deeds will come out heavier. So when we follow this line of logic, the truth of this Ayah from the Quran (Chapter 2 Verse 153) becomes apparent: Verily Allah is with those who are patient.

Explosion in New York

Explosion in New York

An explosion in New York has injured 29 people on the night of September 17. The explosion shook the suburb of Chelsea and a second explosive device was found undetonated a few blocks away. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters there are indications that the explosion at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan “was an intentional act.” However, he continued and said “there is no evidence at this point of a terror connection” and that the city was under no further threat. As a precaution, security has been increased throughout the city.

Thankfully, there have been no fatalities and the people injured are not in danger of dying from their injuries.

Sins of the Tongue

Sins of the Tongue

The tongue is one of Allah’s greatest blessings that He has given humans. Without a tongue and without the power of speech, life as we know it would not be possible. The first thing Allah did after creating the first human, Aadam (peace be upon him), was to teach him speech:

The Most Merciful

Taught the Quran

Created man

[And] taught him eloquence (The Quran, Chapter 55 Verses 1- 4)

The tongue is so instrumental in shaping our deen (spiritual life) and duniya (wordly life), that its use or misuse can lead to jannah (eternal paradise) or jahannum (eternal hell). Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) stated that if a person can guard what is between the jaws (the tongue) and what is between the legs (private parts), he or she will be able to enter jannah. In another hadith, our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) said that every morning, all the parts of a person’s body beseech the tongue to act in accordance with Allah’s laws, to fear Him, to not be corrupted and not to say anything that displeases Him. This is because, if the tongue deviates from the path of Islam, then the whole body will suffer the punishment of hellfire. The wrongdoing of the tongue is instrumental in our success or failure.

Scientifically, the tongue is made such that when it is injured in any way, it heals the fastest of all other bodily tissues. However, the injuries inflicted by  the tongue (i.e. cruel words, lies, deceit, hateful  or derogatory speech)  do not heal and cut the deepest, so we should be aware of the effect of what we say. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) advised those who believe in Allah and the day of judgment to only speak good otherwise to remain silent- this is the best recourse socially and from an Islamic viewpoint.

The tongue can be used in three ways, which are:

  • Beneficial- to proclaim faith, to call people to Islam, to advise, for worldly matters such as to study or work
  • Harmful- to lie, backbite, slander,  mislead, cause strife and division
  • Wasteful- in activities which are neither useful nor directly harmful, such as joking, singing, useless talk which wastes time and energy.

From an Islamic point of view, the only permissible function of the tongue is the beneficial one. When the tongue is used in harmful or wasteful ways, the consequences can be an eternity of suffering. We know this because of one of the incidents reported during Mairaj.  During the ascension of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) to the heavens, he was shown visions from both jannah (paradise) and jahannum (hell). In hell, he saw people who had been given nails of copper and who were tearing off the flesh off their faces with their nails while being burnt in hellfire. When prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) asked why the men were being punished thus, he was informed by angel Jibrael  that”These are the ones who ate the flesh of people and tarnished their reputations.” Eating the flesh of people is a metaphor for backbiting and slander. Similarly, prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) saw people who lips and tongues were being sliced with metal knives. As soon as they were sliced, they would be made whole again, only to be sliced repeatedly all eternity. Angel Jibrael explained that “These are the public speakers of division in your Community: they say what they don’t do.”

So that is the fate of those who use their tongue in a haram way. The punishment for the sins of the tongue that we take so lightly, are so severe and are so explicitly stated in Islamic traditions, that they must serve as a constant reminder for us to guard ourselves from the fire of hell by using our tongue wisely.

 

25 Killed in Pakistani Mosque

25 Killed in Pakistani Mosque

A suicide bombing in a Pakistani mosque in a village called Payee Khan has killed 25 and injured 30. Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack. A tribal elder Haji Subhanullah Mohmand suggesting it may have been revenge for the killing of a militant by tribal volunteers. Witnesses say a man shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) in the crowded mosque during Friday prayers before blowing himself up.

Pakistani Taliban militants are waging an Islamist insurgency in the area and have launched a series of bombing attacks and assaults on Pakistani security services. The Jamaat ul-Ahrar faction of the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing targeting lawyers that killed 74 people in the city of Quetta last month, as well as the Easter Sunday blasts in Lahore that killed 72 people, many of them children.

It is self-evident that if Muslims were the enemy, the terrorists causing terror and misery globally, then their own Muslim brethren would be safe from their attacks. Such suicide attacks only serve to prove that Islam is being used as a guise by terror groups who have no faith, no religion and no regard for human life.

France to open deradicalization centre

France to open deradicalization centre

France is to open a centre for deradicalizing youth who have shown radical and extremist tendencies. This is the first of the planned 12 centres, officially called the “Centre for the Prevention, Integration and Citizenship”  will start operations at the end of September.  In an 18th century chateau, in Beaumont-en-Veron, located some 290 kilometers south of Paris, the centre will house  a maximum of 30 youth at a time aged 18-30 in dormitory-style accommodation for 10 months and aim at changing the lives and minds of approximately 3600 people in the next two years. Participation is to be voluntary and not be force. France’s Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, stated that this was the latest strategy of the government in the fight against terrorism, and said “We can only fight against terrorism by respecting the principles of the Republic”. At this centre, residents will undergo a type of boot camp, waking up at 6.45 am, ceremonially saluting the French flag, and undertaking athletics and courses in French history, religion and philosophy. They will wear a uniform during their stay, and will have a chance to do internships in nearby companies.

This is an ambitious project and has already started receiving criticism. However, the stakes of doing nothing are too high. Already In France more than 230 people have died since January last year in terrorist attacks. Several hundred young French men and women have gone to extremist training camps and returned to France, amid increasing concern of more attacks. It is estimated that about 9300 people have been radicalized.

In addition to the current efforts of the French government, education about True Islam, one based on peace and brotherhood, will no doubt help these youth understand that they have been misled by terrorists claiming to be Muslim and who use their warped understanding of Islam to corrupt the minds of vulnerable youth for their own gain.

Killed and Raped over Beef

Killed and Raped over Beef

Please do not like this news but share this to show your support.

The issue of the consumption of beef in India has escalated to new heights of terror.

A couple was killed, and two women, all from the same household were raped for allegedly consuming beef.
This incident took place two weeks ago in a village in  Mewat district in the state of Haryana, but details are only just emerging. The two women who were gangraped by “cow vigilantes” said that the attackers barged into their home early morning on 25 August, killed a man and a woman and raped two women aged 20 and 14 saying they deserved it for eating beef although the women said that no one had eaten beef in their house.
On Eid-ul-Adha, the Muslim festival in which an animal is sacrificed, also saw a Muslim family in Bengaluru  being  targeted. A mob of about 300 men stormed into their house attacking the family which included women. The family has contacted the police but the police have not filed their complaint yet.
The rising violence against Muslims in India over the issue of cow slaughter is cause for grave concern. The so-called protection of cows is taking precedence over the lives of Muslim men, women and children. If the biggest democracy in the world supports the religious beliefs of one sect of its population while  the basic right to live is denied to Muslims, it should be a cause of national shame, prompting the Indian government to take urgent action to protect its Muslim citizens and their right to religious freedom.
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Muslims Pray for 9/11 Victims

Muslims Pray for 9/11 Victims

We at Muslim Window, would like to extend our deep and heart-felt condolence to the families and loved ones of  all 9/11 victims. This is not a crime perpetrated by Muslims because a Muslim by definition cannot be a terrorist.

9/11 was a a terror of unimaginable magnitude, and an attack planned and executed with chilling precision. The people who died on 9/11 left their families empty and the void they left cannot be filled- ever. The horror of losing someone in a terror attack is the stuff nightmares are made of. You are not alone in this tragedy. The Muslims of America share your sentiment of loss and feel the tragedy as much as you do, because since 9/11 Muslims have become the target of a huge number of people who believe all Muslims and Islam, are to blame for this attack. Islamophobia has increased and Muslims everywhere are mistrusted and treated with suspicion. Those Muslims for whom America is their birthplace, feel like their patriotism is always questioned because of this terrorist act, increasingly becoming the “others” when they condemn and hate what happened on 9/11 just as musch as non-Muslim Americans.

On this anniversary of 9/11 filled with pain, let us resolve to hate the enemy, not each other; uproot the enemy, not your neighbor. Doubt strangers, not your own fellow citizens. Know your friends and know your enemies better.
Give yourself permission to heal  and to let the pain of your loss rest.
We pray that no such incident ever takes place again anywhere in the world, which caused so much destruction and loss of life that has changed the world forever and its impact is even felt today.
Check our articles to confirm what Islam says about the killing of innocents http://www.www.muslimwindow.com/a-terrorist-cannot-be-muslim/ and also what it says about suicide http://www.www.muslimwindow.com/suicide-is-strictly-banned-in-islam/
2 Muslim Women with Kids Attacked in New York

2 Muslim Women with Kids Attacked in New York

Just when we posted how French president has started taking initiative to include Muslims an incident across the world in New York shows that there are still ignorant and racist people in today’s world.

In New York A 32 year old women attacked 2 Muslim women as they were pushed their children aged 11 months and 15 months in strollers and tried to remove their hijabs she repeatedly struck the women in face and body and attacked their children, pushing one stroller to the ground and rattling the other while the infants sat inside, authorities said.

The alleged attacker Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, was arrested by New York Police Department officers in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office described the incident as a hate crime, charging her with offenses including assault, reckless endangerment of a child and harassment, according to court documents.
Muslims in America who are law abiding residents have always trusted the American judicial system for justice and this incident is no different.
Let us all pray for the safety of All Muslims and all the innocents no matter which religion or race they belong to.
Fasting the day before Eid-ul-Adha

Fasting the day before Eid-ul-Adha

Fasting on the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, the month in which Hajj is performed every year is very significant for Muslims all over the world. It is reported in an authentic hadith of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) that whoever fasts on this day, his or her sins will be forgiven for two years- the year preceding the fast and the one following it. For those of us not performing the Hajj, this is a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf, and refresh our deen and iman. On this day we must resolve to perfect our lives as Muslims, and give up all sinful activities, and all actions and thoughts that cause deviation from the path of Islam.

This day is also known as the day of Arafat, when all the pilgrims performing Hajj gather on the plain of Arafat to pray to Allah. This is a time of great significance as Allah listens to their prayers and grants them bounties from His mercy. Pilgrims are prohibited from fasting because they are travelers, and moreover, they are already undergoing the rigors of Hajj and Allah does not wish to  burden them any more. However, Muslims all over the world who are not performing Hajj, can fast and pray on this day to gain the favor and forgiveness of Allah.
French President Supports ISLAM

French President Supports ISLAM

French President Francois Hollande criticized the burqini ban in France which sparked widespread protests and was subsequently lifted. He stressed banning the burqini would make France more vulnerable to further attacks from terrorists. Hollande said: “I don’t want to give Islamists reasons to put pressure through provocation to test the limits of the French Republic. Nor will I give them a pretext to take offence at the stigmatization of Muslims.”

In the same hour-long address, Hollande reinforced the message that secularism was not the state religion of France and that the principle of secularism could not be used against other beliefs and that it was as compatible with Islam as with Christianity and Judaism. Hollande said that radical Islam had created “a fake state, led by real killers. It skews the Islamic religion to spread its hatred.”

Hollande talked positively about the new foundation of Islam in France which would see the strengthening of ties with the French Muslim community which accounts for 7-9% of the country’s population.
The President asserted his optismism about overcoming terrorism by realizing true Islam as the second religion of France and stated, “It is the trust we have in ourselves and our values which will enable us to triumph over terrorism.”

President Hollande stressed that radical Muslim imams (priests) who had been trained outside France and who usually did not even speak French, needed to be replaced by imams trained in France and who taught their congregation about the true Islamic principles of peace and brotherhood. We at Muslimwindow.com support President Hollande’s clear and practical directive and wholeheartedly endorse his plan of reinstating Islam in France as a true religion of peace. Share this to show your support of president Hollande views about true ISLAM.

Pray for Hajis’ Safety

Pray for Hajis’ Safety

Lets us pray for the safety of all Hajis (Pilgrims). Over the years there have been several incidents during Hajj claiming hundreds of lives. This year the Saudi government has made elaborate arrangements to ensure the safe and successful completion of Haj. Some of the safety measures implemented this year in conjunction with the world health organization are:

  • Prevention of heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Hospital beds have been increased to treat people affected by the extreme heat. Water and fans are being provided by the ministry of health where pilgrims are going to be gathered.
  • Training of several teams to provide rapid response to health emergencies such as the respiratory disease MERS-CoV.
  • Implementation of infection prevention measures.
  • Tracing and limiting contact of infected persons to contain further infection.
  • “Together for a healthy pilgrimage” campaign launched focused on preventing heat stroke, dehydration and food poisoning.
  • Checkpoints set up at all sea, land and air entry points to check pilgrims vaccinated against influenza, polio meningitis and yellow fever.
  • To increase security, over 1000 surveillance cameras have been installed within the premises of Mecca’s grand mosque.
  • Electronic identification bracelets issued to all pilgrims which monitor their movements and provide medical and personal information in case of emergencies.
  • The electronic bracelets are also equipped with GPS and a multilingual service to help pilgrims navigate through the rituals of Hajj and  to help non-Arabic speakers function in Saudi Arabia during their stay.

The above measures have been put in place partly due to the stampede in the last Hajj which killed several hundred pilgrims. Let us pray together for Allah to accept the Hajj of the pilgrims who undertake all the hardships of Hajj with such fortitude. We also hope and pray for their safe and successful return as  “Hajis” to their homelands.

Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the Kaba, the house of Allah, sees millions of people converge on the holy city of Mecca. Undergoing the Hajj rituals is the fifth pillar of Islam, and is incumbent on all able-bodied Muslims who are able to do so financially, at least once in their lifetime. This annual pilgrimage is based on the actions of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in his last pilgrimage before his death. The Hajj ritual is completed in six days, but most people stay longer.

Lets us all hope and pray that we too can perform this journey to Hajj. Aameen

Halal Entertainment ?

Halal Entertainment ?

We have all heard of halal food, go to great lengths to procure it and ensure all the ingredients in our food and drink are halal or permissible from an Islamic standpoint. But what is halal entertainment you might ask? Can entertainment also be halal or haram (impermissible or sinful)? This article introduces the concept of halal into the domain of entertainment.

Commonly understood as amusement or enjoyment, entertainment is a vast area. It includes what we watch on television, what we listen to, the activities we participate in for fun and for passing time, and the company we seek in our leisure time.

It is obviously impossible to sift through each category of entertainment to ascertain what is halal and what is not. Therefore, let us understand the concept of halal entertainment through the lens of Islam and through the excellent examples from the life of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

What we watch and listen to

What we watch and for how long has a direct impact on our psyche. A child in America watches 3 hours of television per day on average. Total screen time (derived by adding television, computer, phone, ipad and various other electronic devices), averages 7 per day. By such exposure, children learn to passively absorb whatever information comes in front of them rather than actively engaging and learning new information. Their minds can be molded for the remainder of their lives as mentally inactive and passive, or alert and active, according to what they are allowed to watch and for how long.

As adults, we also need to monitor what we watch. Most movies and television shows involve some aspect of zina (adultery or fornication), extreme violence, or shirk (association of partners with Allah). Songs, music, lewdness and nudity are freely available and have become the norm, but because they are the norm does not convert them into halal activities. It is also common for people who indulge in watching and listening to such content, to ridicule those who do not. However, we must be able to distance ourselves from the activities which bring us closer to hell fire and farther away from Allah and the way of life he has chosen for us. As Allah says in the Quran (chapter 2 verse 212), “Beautified for those who disbelieve is the life of this world, and they ridicule those who believe”.

The company we keep

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that “A person is upon the religion of his close friend, so beware whom you befriend”. The company we keep has such a strong impact on our lives that it can lead us astray or help us stay on the straight path of Islam. It is therefore important for us to select our friends and acquaintances, and those of our children, carefully. There is sufficient research in the wider community about peer pressure’s role in vices such as drug addiction to validate this point. Our friends shape play a role in what we consider important (are these prayer, remembrance of Allah and participation in halal activities?) and how actively we can strive to be successful in this world and the next (do they enjoin doing good, advise against evil and condemn sinful activities and guard each other from causing strife or plotting haram acts?). Allah tells us that:

Evil words are for evil men, and evil men are [subjected] to evil words. And good words are for good men, and good men are [an object] of good words….(The Quran, chapter 24, verse 26).

Even our jokes and humor need to conform to an Islamic standard of behavior. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) prohibited us from targeting  specific people, cultures or societies in our jokes and from using ridicule, hurtful statements, sarcasm or double-meaning in our speech. There are many examples of permissible jokes from the life of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him); one such example is:

Once old woman came to prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) and asked if she would go to jannah or paradise. He replied that old people would not be found in jannah. Hearing this, the woman thought she would not be allowed in paradise ; but the prophet continued, and said that all people would be made eternally young in jannah and would be aged in their early 30s. Hearing this the old woman was very happy as she knew she would shed the frailty and limitation of old age for ever if she could attain a place in jannah.

What our activities should be

Islam does not restrict people from enjoying their lives. Neither is it expected that people should only worship Allah and not do anything which they are inclined to do naturally.

Entertainment and refreshment must be sought in a halal manner, and in activities which  strengthen the family and the society, and which do not cause deviation in our faith. Some examples are: excursions with family to places which do not include zina and which do not involve the intermingling of sexes;  visiting family and friends and inviting them over; holding competitions in sport; playing mentally challenging board games, learning a new sport and practicing it.

It is the sunnah of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) that both boys and girls and men and women be physically fit and strong. This allows them to be better Muslims and also more productive and focused in life. For this reason, all people are encouraged to participate in activities such as running, swimming, horse-riding, and in sports involving marksmanship, like archery.

To develop a balance between  our commitment to Islam, and our involvement in entertainment, it is useful to be reminded that:

And this worldly life is not but diversion and amusement. And indeed, the home of the hereafter- that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew. (The Quran, chapter 29 verse 64).

 

Is Cosmetic Surgery Permitted ?

Is Cosmetic Surgery Permitted ?

A common question by Muslims who want to undergo cosmetic surgery, is whether it is permitted or not. This article explores the issue of cosmetic surgery and its permissibility in Islam, watch the videos from the scholars on this subject.

Cosmetic surgery, broadly understood as a surgical procedure to enhance a person’s aesthetic beauty, is increasing exponentially. The second most popular cosmetic procedure after dermabrasion (resurfacing of the outermost layer of the skin), is lip augmentation. In a recent article, the President of the American society of plastic surgeons, David Song, stated, “We live in the age of the selfie, and because we see images of ourselves almost constantly on social media, we are much more aware of how our lips look”. The article goes on to say that millions more use injections to get fuller lips and to achieve the perfect pout.

When cosmetic surgery is necessary to correct deformity, scarring due to disease or infection, or to improve one’s health, it is undeniably useful and must be undertaken. In Islam, seeking treatment for an illness is the duty of every individual. There are many hadith of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) that tell us “There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” Seeking cure, treatment and remedy is undoubtedly the best option for Muslims; but what about where there is no disease or loss of function? What should be an Islamic way of dealing with the obsession of cosmetic surgery? How can need be distinguished from want? Let us consider some examples to clarify this issue.

One of my neighbor’s daughters was born with a cleft palate. She had difficulty swallowing and breathing. After a number of surgeries the palate was corrected but the deformity was obvious on her upper lip. Through a cosmetic procedure, this too was reconstructed, giving her normal lips, which obviously improved her looks and confidence. We can say with certainty that these procedures were necessary and permitted from an Islamic viewpoint. Other surgeries too may be performed for medical reasons or for purely aesthetic ones. Rhinoplasty, or plastic surgery on the nose, may be undertaken to correct a problem (such as a deviated septum that causes difficulty in breathing or sleeping) or because a person is not happy with the shape of their nose. Breast reduction and augmentation can both be done to achieved a certain look, or be done after surviving breast cancer in which the breast may have been removed partially or wholly.

Likewise, many people are not happy with their skin color and undergo several “treatments” and dangerous chemical peels to change it. In the Indian sub-continent, dark skin is regarded as undesirable and inferior, so millions of women of darker color cannot get married as women of paler skin are “selected” for marriage. Not surprisingly, the cosmetic industry offering to lighten skin color, is a multi-billion dollar one. In many Asian countries, surgery is performed on eyelids to create a less Asian look. In China, both men and women undergo torturous limb-lengthening procedures to become taller. This involves fracturing the legs and forcing bones to grow over a period of many months to elongate them. The extent to which a person can go to achieve the look and the body they desire, is unimaginable. It is clear that such procedures which are not based on medical need, and do not improve the bodily function of a person, are not permitted in the framework of Islam.

Some women might say that they are free to choose how they perfect their bodies and how they achieve the look they desire. This is not a matter of choice. Rather, it is important to understand how that choice is formed and why it is articulated as the need to change female bodies and faces to adhere to a desirable norm. The pursuit of the perfect look is a manifestation of the objectification of women. A prominent Turkish feminist and sociologist, Alev Erkilet, aptly summarizes equality when she says, “The problem is how they [men] use women, how women are seen….We think equality starts when women stop being sexual objects for men”. It is indeed time we recognized that this objectification by men that we wish to challenge, starts with our dissatisfaction and objectification of the self. We need to understand our dissatisfaction with our physical self and the factors underlying that dissatisfaction.

This dissatisfaction is linked directly to disregard for Allah’s creative excellence, for He says in the Quran (chapter 95 verse 4), “We have certainly created man in the best of stature”, and “Who perfected everything which He created and began the creation of man from clay” (the Quran, chapter 32 verse 7). The perfection with which Allah has created men and women refers to their physical characteristics, their intellect, their spirit, their potential and their ability for higher thought. By being critical of our physical self, or by being insecure about our abilities, we are in fact disrespecting the care and perfection our Creator has made us with. Being mindful of ourselves means we are grateful to Allah for our body with all its excellence, perfection, functionality, potential, ability, disability, choice and limitation, and this gratitude is good for our own selves, as Allah tells us, “And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor]- then indeed, Allah is free of need and praiseworthy” (the Quran, chapter 31 verse 12).

Share and spread this information. You will be rewarded by Allah even if one person is rightly guided by your actions.

Hajj, the Pilgrimage

Hajj, the Pilgrimage

Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca which is one of the five pillars of Islam.  For a Muslim, Hajj is obligatory once in his or her lifetime. The Quran explains the rites of Hajj in detail in chapter 2 verses 196-202.

The pilgrimage to the Ka’aba,  the symbolic house of Allah built by prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him), is the single-most  gathering of Muslims annually on such a large scale. It is expected that more than 2.5 million people will perform Hajj this year.

Hajj holds much spiritual significance, as prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said to his followers that by completing all the rituals of Hajj sincerely for Allah alone, a person wipes out all his previous sins and becomes as pure and innocent as a newborn baby. Hajj is a means of purification and gives a person a fresh start in life.

As with all other acts of worship in Islam, intention is of primary important. For Hajj to be accepted by Allah, a person must leave aside all worldly reasons for performing Hajj, such as to show he or she has accomplished this obligation of Islam, or to gain prestige in the community, or any other reason apart from pleasing Allah. Hajj is a great social leveler as all men are dressed in two pieces of white unstitched cloth, irrespective of how rich or poor they might be. Women are allowed to wear their normal stitched clothes which adhere to the rules of dress for Muslim women, and covering of the face and wearing of expensive clothes or jewelry is to be avoided. Hajj is also an excellent reminder of the equality of all humans as decreed by Allah, as there are people from diverse races, cultures, societies, of different color, language, age,the poor and rich who are all gathered for the worship of Allah without any distinction or status.

One of the rites of Hajj is to sacrifice an animal to commemorate the willingness of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to sacrifice his son, Ismail, to obey and please Allah; at this time Allah intervened through his angel Jibrael (Gabriel) and replaced Ismail with a ram which was sacrificed in his place. Every year, Muslims in Hajj and around the world, honor this act of submission and obedience by sacrificing an animal for the sake of Allah. This is called ‘Eid ul Adha’ or the ‘festival of sacrifice’ which is celebrated for three days from the 10th day of the lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah. These days of Eid are considered most significant, and a time for special supplication to Allah for all our needs. The meat from the sacrificed animal is generally divided into three parts- one to be consumed by the family who has made the sacrifice, one for friends and relatives and one for the poor and needy.

Hookahs can cause cancer more easily than cigarettes, say doctors

Hookahs can cause cancer more easily than cigarettes, say doctors

Smoking a hookah can be more harmful than cigarettes and can cause diseases like cancers much more easily, doctors say. Doctors said that hookah smokers may be at risk for some of the same diseases as cigarette smokers. These include oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function and decreased fertility. Among the initial symptoms that can cause drastic health problems due to smoking of hookah and water pipes includes pain in chest while breathing and changing color of sputum.

According to the centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while smoking an average cigarette involves 20 puffs.“In fact second-hand smoke from hookahs can also be a health risk for non-smokers. It contains smoke from the tobacco as well as smoke from the heat source used in the hookah,” said Amar Singhal, Cardiologist.

“Since hookah involves inhaling a large amount of smoke in a short span of time, the damage done to the lungs is high and can cause wheezing, meningitis and acute bronchitis,” Singhal said. “Though a person starts with hookah occasionally, but with time they become addicted to it.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says tobacco causes over five million deaths world wide which is likely to increase to 8.4 million if the situation is not brought under control.

 

 

 

Muslim Pilot Sisters Make History

Muslim Pilot Sisters Make History

Two Pakistani sisters working as pilots makes history by becoming the first pair of sisters to fly a Boeing 777 aircraft together, the airlines said on Wednesday.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesman Danyal Gilani said that Maryam Masood and Erum Masood have been flying different planes but finally ended up in the same plane.

The two sisters flew the planes concurrently from Lahore to Karachi, Manchester, New York and London. “Pilot sisters make history for PIA by flying Boeing 777 concurrently,” he tweeted.

He said that there was no known record of two real sisters having flown the same weight category aircraft concurrently.

Erum was recently upgraded to fly a Boeing-777, which resulted in the happy coincidence of joining her sister in the cockpit. It is good news from PIA

The freedom to choose- reserved for some

The freedom to choose- reserved for some

The recent furor over the burqini in France has made one thing clear- that freedom and choice are two concepts that are available only conditionally, and to some people. The freedom of choice, which means to be able to choose an action (or inaction) without constraint, is legitimated by some whose ideology dominates.

For example, an Israeli singer, Hanna Goor, was forced offstage by government officials at a state-sponsored event at a Tel Aviv beach last week for singing in a bikini top that she refused to cover up. Goor stated that “They made it such a big deal, and now there are new regulations they want to put on and force artists to be more modest…It’s just not right. I’m against it, and I will speak my mind about it as much as I can. It’s very important for me to sing the way I want to sing and get up on stage dressed how I want to dress.”

The current Israeli government, which is influenced heavily by orthodox Judaism, is expected to withdraw funding from such sponsored events which do not adhere to a dress code that it endorses.

In this case, juxtaposed ironically against the French burqini ban, what would you say? If you are a supporter of freedom, liberty and choice, you could not possibly agree with Goor without also agreeing with the Muslim women who wanted to dress in a more modest burqini instead of a more revealing swimsuit.

The question is not what women should wear, how much they should cover up, or how much they should reveal. The standard of “normal” is not the same for everyone but depends on so many complex factors- psyche, individual preferences, religious beliefs, body image, personal comfort, cultural conditioning, media imagery, identity- the list goes on. Who is to say that Muslim women by wearing a burkini are pledging alliance to an Islamic state any more than a bikini-wearing woman is not? How can meaning be attributed to a piece of clothing by an external entity who can only surmise such intention? Many non-Muslim women also prefer to be fully covered at a beach where the ultraviolet radiation is very high and skin exposure  causes high rates of skin cancer. Can such women be told what to wear or how much to expose? By the same token, why are surfers and divers not told to wear more revealing gear? Have you ever wondered why men are not questioned over their use of either board shorts, thongs or skimpy briefs at the beach?

The real question is: WHO DECIDES?

If as humans we believe that freedom and choice are (or should be) the basic right of every human, then we should also let those rights be exercised, without reservation or condition and irrespective of who exercises them.

The Rights of Muslim Women

The Rights of Muslim Women

The rights of Muslim women are so many and are so thoroughly laid out in the Quran and so well- documented in the hadith (prophetic practices), that it is impossible to contain them in an introductory essay. The following is only a brief overview of the rights of Muslim women, which may come as a surprise to those who believe that women are oppressed, downtrodden, or generally regarded as lesser beings in Islam. Such a belief system exists not only among non-Muslims, but also among Muslims who are not familiar with the position sanctioned to women in Islam, with the result that cultural practices are confused with true religion. Various discrepancies (i.e. women should not be educated or that they must be subjugated by men) are actually against Islam, but are regarded erroneously as Islamic.

  • The right to live

This is the most basic and necessary right for a woman to even come into existence. Female infanticide was common in many societies before the advent of Islam, and female babies were buried alive in sand in Arabia. At present, it is a problem of catastrophic proportions in countries like India, where the ratio of men to women has reached 1000 to 888 in some parts due to female infanticide and abortion of female fetuses. The killing of girls and women is considered a major sin leading to eternal hellfire, and was made ‘haram’ or outlawed in the Quran when it was revealed 1437 years ago.

  • The right to education

It is the duty of both men and women to pursue knowledge. It is not permitted for anyone to restrict women from gaining an education, skill or profession. It is their God-given right and they will be questioned on the day of judgment regarding the utilization of their potential.

  • Equality and equity

Equality between the sexes is overrated and cannot ever be truly achieved. Equality is not regarded as fair to women. Western feminists’ struggle with this concept is well documented in their own literature. For example, true equality would be achieved when men and women bore and raised children, underwent childbirth and nursing, experienced the  biological and hormonal changes women do, and also worked equally at home and at work. As this is obviously impossible, Islam recognized 1437 years ago, that women need equitable, not equal rights.

  • Religious rights

Women are given equal spiritual rights as men in Islam. They are not considered evil or satanic; neither is Eve blamed for enticing Adam into sin for which they were thrown out of paradise. Instead, women are titled ‘mohsina’ which translates as ‘one who calls to good deeds while admonishing evil’. Men and women are both referred to in the Quran as clothing for each other (chapter 2 verse 187). The metaphor of course refers to the proximity of clothing as well as its function to conceal, protect and cherish the person, which is how spouses are instructed to be with each other.  Women are equally entitled to paradise depending on their deeds and faith. In some religions, men benefit spiritually from their wives’ good deeds, charity or chastity.  This is not the case in Islam, where men and women’s souls will be permitted into eternal paradise depending solely on their own merit.

 

  • Social and political rights

The status of women is higher than that of men, coming right after Allah and Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). The status of a mother is regarded as three times higher than a father’s. Muslim women have the right to choose their husband, they are not choice-less victims in the matter. They have the right to seek divorce and to remarry. Widowed and divorced women can also re-marry, an option not available in religions where divorce is not allowed or where women are burnt alive with their dead husband. Politically, Muslim women have always had the right to vote, to choose their representative and to voice their opinion. They are not the disenfranchised minority in Islam.

  • Economic rights

Muslim women can own property, conduct business dealings, demand to be given a marriage gift (‘Mehr’) of money or property by their husband at the time of marriage to do what they want with it. They can inherit property from their own parents, relatives, as well as their husband. They are financially provided for by their father, brother, husband or son; but if they choose to engage in paid employment, their earning is their own, not the husband’s or the family’s. Islam forbade the trading of women as chattel or commodities dispelling the ignorance and primitiveness with which women were treated before it was revealed.

These rights, and various others which have not been included above, are useful and meaningful in women’s lives only when they are applied. Otherwise, they become a theoretical construct.  It is incumbent that a) Muslim women themselves become educated about the rights they have been divinely given which cannot be contested, b) men become familiar with these rights so they do not  let cultural precedence overshadow them and c) the media do not portray incidents which show the oppression or subjugation of women as representation of the rights of Muslim women; rather the media need to be responsible and diligent about what they report and verify the accuracy of their reporting to distinguish between true Islam and that which is practised.

Education and Youth in Islam

Education and Youth in Islam

Islam places utmost importance on the correct guidance of youth and on channeling their energy into socially, physically and spiritually productive goals. It holds people who have knowledge in high esteem. Unfortunately the characteristics by which Muslim youth are being identified are increasingly negative, and most of the younger Muslim generation is stagnant academically, leading their lives in an average or mediocre manner. It is time they be reminded of the importance of education, which will directly influence their success. A popular fallacy is that young people can either become successful academically and pursue an ambitious career, or they can be knowledgeable about Islam, sacrificing their time and career for religion. However, Islam teaches its followers to place equal importance on worldly and spiritual success, to live our lives fully, pursuing success in all its forms.

Islam has clearly demarcated the age at which a child becomes a youth, and can be deemed responsible for his or her actions. When a boy or girl turns 10, they are considered to be a youth; from 10 to the age of 32-33 a person is considered a youth after which their peak physical and mental health is seen to decline with time. This is significant, because most young people are of the opinion that they are too young to take life seriously or to undertake any work which requires dedication or commitment, leaving such endeavors to a later time which may or may not happen. Such procrastination is the basis of failure, akin to an aimless journey without destination. Islam’s view of such an attitude is that once a child has reached the age of 10, he or she be given the responsibility of taking education seriously and to exercise effort in finding the purpose of their lives.

The Quran distinguishes between the knowledgeable and the ignorant:

Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” (The Quran, Chapter 39 Verse 9).

It also teaches us to ask Allah for help in expanding our knowledge and understanding:

My Lord, increase me in knowledge (The Quran, Chapter 20 Verse 114).

Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) advised all Muslims, men and women, to pursue knowledge, regarding it as their duty. At the same time, we need to guard ourselves from knowledge which is of no use and which wastes our time. This is significant as many youth spend countless hours a day in the pursuit of knowledge which is not going to benefit them in any way. It is important to be very selective in what we put our minds to, especially when we realize prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) urged us to do “5 before 5”, which means:

  • Benefit from health before illness overtakes you (youth is the peak of health, so utilize youth in gaining success in this world and the hereafter while you have youth, health and energy)
  • Use wealth before poverty strikes (use wealth wisely, keeping some for your needs, and then using it for things which will benefit you eternally, such as charity, zakah, planting trees, digging wells, building  schools, mosques, orphanages, libraries or public facilities, etc.)
  • Benefit from free time before you get busy (use the relatively stress-free time of youth to develop your potential and gain skills before the responsibilities of adult life leave no time to do this)
  • Use youth before old age
  • Use life before death

These five issues relate directly to the questions Allah will ask of all people on the day of judgment, which are:

  • How did you spend your life?
  • How did you spend your youth?
  • How much knowledge did you gain and how did you apply it?
  • How did you earn your living and how did you spend it?

Only when today’s students and youth understand the importance of time,  will it become possible for them to realize their full potential and to make use of their time, health and wealth in the best way possible- the way shown by the Sunnah of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

Difference between Islamic & conventional financing

Difference between Islamic & conventional financing

“…they (unbelievers, hypocrites) say: “Trading is only like ribâ (usury; interest),” whereas ALLAH  has permitted trading and forbidden ribâ . – The Quran, Chapter 2, verse 275.

This verse of the Quran clearly sets the guideline for a Muslim about the forbidden nature of riba or interest and usury. The following explanation briefly introduces the difference between conventional and Islamic finance which APPEAR to be the same, but are NOT the same. Understanding the difference between these is critical for Muslims in order to prevent committing sin in matters of finance.

What is the difference between Islamic and conventional financing? Both are modes of finance, but very distinct in the nature of the contract, relationship and how the parties deal with each other in hardship/losses. This article provides a foundation to understanding the difference.

Finance Institutions have the right to make a profit in their business dealings. As Islam promotes harmony and fair dealings in all relationships – family, neighbors, business dealings, etc., it regards interest-based loan contracts as abusive and therefore not permitted in a religious context. Conventional finance is a debt-based contract/agreement. The “financier” will give $X to the client, so the client can further utilize the funds to purchase an asset/commodity. Example a car, home, etc. The relationship is based on the loan to be paid back over an agreed amount of time PLUS a surplus amount as profit to the financier. This is what we call “interest”. However the question is – is this what we are trying to avoid – paying the surplus amount? If that is the case, then are we suggesting all finance companies around the world should only take back what they advanced (i.e. principle balance)? Then we should also declare them to be non-profit organizations and operate as charities. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Therefore we can agree that the “surplus” amount (in the example above this references to the “interest” amount paid back) is not really the issue at hand. So what is the issue?

The issue actually arises at the point of the “agreement”. The agreement is based essentially on making the money being lent itself as an asset/commodity. What is money? – it’s just a piece of paper created in a machine by the Treasury Dept. It is not a physical asset/commodity itself. In Islam – money is a means of exchange/assignment of value to an asset/commodity, not an asset/commodity itself. This distinguishing factor is very important to understand the fundamentals of the argument being discussed.

An Islamic bank will also help finance a car, home, etc. just like the conventional bank. However instead of advancing money to the client, the Islamic bank will actively and directly participate in purchasing some/all shares (depends on the mode of financing, which we’ll discuss at a later time) in the asset/commodity. Then after taking some/all ownership of the asset/commodity, the Islamic bank will allow the client to use its “shares” for the intended purpose. Based on an agreement the client buys the Islamic bank’s invested shares plus pay a competitive and comparable profit in lieu of interest as charged by the conventional banks.

It could very well be that in both conventional and Islamic financing – the amount paid at the end could exactly be the same amount. But as discussed above, this is not what determines for a contract to be compliant to Islamic finance rules. It is the nature of the contract, relationship and how the parties deal with each other in hardship/losses. In conventional finance since the banks will have no physical ownership of the asset/commodity itself – they do not have to worry about any losses. If the asset/commodity is in a total loss, the client still “owes” the loan/interest to the conventional bank. Therefore it can be concluded that every conventional loan finance contract is of a “recourse” in nature – meaning the bank has the right to come after the debtor for any balance left on the initial loan advanced and any interest/expenses incurred due to the devalue/forfeiture of the asset/commodity.

However an Islamic bank who actively owns the physical asset/commodity itself – must share/suffer any losses to its ownership/investment if any disaster strikes. Islamic finance is simply a “non-recourse” contract, exactly the opposite of conventional finance. Here the client walks away absorbing, at most, any loss on their shares invested only. They are not responsible for the loss on the Islamic bank’s shares – regardless of the reason for the loss.

This is why ALLAH SWT has permitted trading and prohibited usury/interest, as Islam promotes harmony and fair dealings in all relationships – family, neighbors, business dealings, etc.

In the future we’ll discuss briefly on the different modes/models in Islamic Financing. Which one is better, than the other? As a customer how do you know the model/product being offered complies with Islamic finance rules and regulations?

Scotland & Canada to allow hijabs in police force

Scotland & Canada to allow hijabs in police force

Scotland and Canada are to allow policewomen to wear hijabs, in an effort to recruit more Muslim women into the police force. Scotland police released a statement saying that the change in policy will “contribute to making our staff mix more diverse and adds to the life skills, experiences and personal qualities that our officers and staff bring to policing the communities of Scotland.”

The Canadian Royal Mounted Police, an institution in themselves, also released a statement saying  their policy allowing hijabs would “better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option.”

In America, some police departments also allow Muslim police officers to wear a hijab. One such police woman is Kadra Mohammed, an American Muslim of Somali descent, who wears the hijab and works in  Minnesota. She is the first hijab-wearing police officer and also the first Somali female police officer.

Such changes in Scotland and Canada, where Muslims form a small minority, are a welcome and refreshing nod to inter-religious politics, and show that communities can be more tolerant of diversity if the change is supported by governmental policies.

Who are Moderate Muslims?

Who are Moderate Muslims?

When we speak of moderate, we mean ‘average’ or a bit in the middle. For example, when we say someone is moderately overweight, it means they are overweight, but not too much. A moderate worker means someone who works in an average manner, but does not excel at work or exceed expectations.

So a moderate believer is one who believes, but a little. Islam means to submit one’s will to Allah. And a Muslim is one who believes in Allah, his messengers and the afterlife. A moderate Muslim, then, is one who does all the things a Muslim is meant to do, but only a little, not much. When I hear people describe themselves as “moderate Muslims”, I wonder what it really means. This is not just an exercise in linguistics. The way we describe ourselves has a deep impact on our psyche and that description affects our behavior, action and attitude. In the context of religion, the label of “moderate” is also dangerous.

How is that so? “Moderate” Muslims, by their own admission, will often have just a fleeting or shallow understanding and knowledge of Islam. It is easy for someone with an ulterior motive or sinister agenda, to misguide them. For example, if a “moderate” Muslim hears enough rhetoric about Muslims-as-terrorists, it is possible that they too will start believing this. They would not have the knowledge to separate “true” Islam, from what it has come to stand for. “Moderate” Muslims would also agree that women are oppressed in Islam and their rights are subjugated within Islam. Ironically, moderation of belief and knowledge does not result in a happier, confident individual integrated in modern society. Instead, moderation in belief results in half-knowledge, an individual who does not know his or her religion, one who is confused about various aspects of this world and the hereafter, and who has a hard time distinguishing the right from wrong.

I encourage you to shed the miasma of “moderate Muslim”. Be a Muslim whole-heartedly and put in the time and effort to know Islam to the fullest extent you can. Of course not everyone can be a scholar, but the expansion of knowledge and understanding according to one’s abilities gives one the confidence to be an excellent Muslim, which automatically makes you an excellent human being; because it is not possible to be a Muslim without first developing excellence in everything you do. Do not settle for second-best, average or moderate. Aim for excellence,  knowledge,  conviction and confidence.

It is a common misperception that the opposite of moderate is extremist. And extremism has come to represent a warped conception of Islam- one of intolerance, hatred, random killing of Muslims and non-Muslims, women, children and people of different sexual orientation-all in the name of religion. And if what you really mean by “moderate” is that you are not a terrorist- then clarify that it is not possible, by definition, for a Muslim to be a terrorist. It is time we challenged the erroneous dichotomy of moderate versus extremist.

If you want to make a statement against terrorism, don’t say your moderate, say you are a Muslim.

Post -marital depression …an alarming situation

Post -marital depression …an alarming situation

Note from Editor: It is common to hear about mental health issues such as post-natal depression and post-traumatic depression. Here, one of our new writers, Husna, presents a case for post-marital depression. She expresses her view that marriage leads to a drastic change in a woman’s life, which can negatively affect her physical and mental health, confidence, self-esteem and ability to raise her family in a healthy manner. This article highlights that the stressors for married women-loss of identity and independence, abuse by in-laws, pressure to fetch a ‘dowry’ and pressure to take up paid employment- are all against the rights of women in Islam and the religion’s God-given equity for both sexes. These problems are reflective of cultural practices which have become absorbed into many Muslim communities and need to change urgently.

Many women these days are suffering in silence because of emotional stress after getting married. The reasons for women’s suffering include:  total change of  lifestyle, different cultures, the behavior of the in-laws (like taunting, sarcasm, ridicule), being forced to work and earn for the in- laws. Besides this, women are mentally and physically tortured for bringing in less dowry. Another significant area of concern for women after marriage is an identity crisis. Many women who have been independent financially lose their identities and this is the most challenging of all. The stress all these things cause are extremely exhausting for women. If we want our children to grow up well, emotionally and physically, it is very important that the woman of the household gives her complete undivided attention to the family – her husband and her children (who, in Islam, are her main responsibility).
For this, we have to ensure that we give the women of the house a proper platform to nurture kids and help them develop in different aspects of life. As the saying goes, give a woman anything and she will multiply it; give her a home and she will make it heaven. So, it is very important to give a woman peace of mind, right from the time of marriage. It is a very big transition- leaving her family behind and changing her life completely.

Some women struggle to overcome depression while some spend their entire life in depression and low self- esteem.  Very few of them try to seek help from anyone, because of the pressure from family and society. This is an alarming issue which is on the rise and needs to be dealt with at a societal level so that we can help our future generations to be brought up in a stress-free environment.
If a woman is depressed, it affects the entire family. If depression and stress are literally killing a woman, it gets very difficult for her to manage the home and familial responsibilities. If we want our children to blossom like flowers, we should cultivate a beautiful garden for them to grow in.

To avoid such issues to some extent, as parents we must ensure we select a suitable family for our daughters, where they do not have to face a drastic change in their life after marriage. They should be able to find themselves comfortable with their cultures and traditions. We should educate them about their rights and responsibilities according to Islam so they do not sacrifice their self esteem and respect. If they have problems, they should be openly able to seek counseling from a trusted family member or professionally.

Indeed Allah knows best and may He guide us all on the straight path and make us  realize how important the well being of a woman is, for the entire family.

By Husna

Mayor fires Palestinian intern for wearing headscarf

Mayor fires Palestinian intern for wearing headscarf

In a classic case of irony, a Palestinian woman hired as an intern to work on a project titled ‘Perspectives for Refugees’ in Berlin was fired from her job on the first day of work when she refused to take off her headscarf.  The intern said ” It would have been better to clarify this policy before hiring me.” The mayor of Luckenwalde in Germany, Elisabeth Herzog- von der Heide fired the woman saying the headscarf would violate the neutrality of the town hall where religious symbols were not allowed.

Sven Petke, member of the state parliament and Angela Merkel’s  party has criticized the decision to dismiss the intern saying Germany’s constitution gives individuals the right to hold personal beliefs, and that the connection of these beliefs to certain types of clothing is not objectionable. “It is something different than a crucifix on the wall,” he said.

 

 

Burqini Ban Suspended

Burqini Ban Suspended

The highest court of law in France has lifted the ban on wearing the burqini, a type of swimwear that covers the whole body and head, favored by Muslim women and those who want to avoid dangerous UV sunlight that causes skin cancer.

This  ruling is likely to reverse the ban which is in place in 30 towns across France, and the court will give a final ruling later.

Amnesty International’s  Europe Director,John Dalhousen, said “French authorities must now drop the pretense that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women….These bans do nothing to increase public safety but do a lot to promote public humiliation”.

The lifting of this ban should be lauded as a victory not just for Muslim women, but for women all over the world who should have the right and freedom to choose how they represent their bodies. Aheda Zanetti, the designer and manufacturer of the Burqini, (pictured above, right) says she never intended the burqini to cause controversy, but to give women the freedom to exercise without compromising their religious beliefs.

British siblings were removed from flight

British siblings were removed from flight

Three British siblings were removed from an easyJet flight after fellow passengers wrongly accused them of “reading ISIS material”. The trio, who are of Indian heritage but were born and raised in London, were questioned on the runway by armed police officers for an hour before being allowed back on the plane.

The siblings had to submit their mobiles for police checks before being allowed to re-board and continue their journey. Writing on Facebook about the incident, Sakina said the police told them: “A passenger on your flight has claimed that you three are members of ISIS… They saw you with Arabic or praise be to Allah on your phone.”

Sakina, a clinical pharmacist at University College London, wrote: “Firstly, that’s part of the Qur’an, our religious text, so even if we did have it, it wouldn’t signify that we’re a part of ISIS at all, but regardless, we’ve had nothing on our phone remotely Arabic related this morning. Also, we’re Indian by ethnicity, so we wouldn’t even have Arabic in conversation with anyone.” She added: “What are my rights? We would only have been allowed back on the plane if there wasn’t a shred of doubt on their part, so someone must be the liar here, in which case, why were those passengers not removed for wasting police time, LYING, making false allegations and racial profiling?”

 

Burqini ban

Burqini ban

Can a democratic country tell its citizens what to wear? Can you be fined for wearing too many clothes? Can you be forced to wear less clothes than you are required to religiously?That is exactly what is happening in France. Several French towns have banned the burqini, a swimming costume used commonly by Muslim women, that covers the head and entire body and has allowed many women to swim while adhering to Islamic rules of dress.

Nice is the latest town to ban the burqini, in the wake of the truck attack on 14 July which killed 86, followed by the murder of a priest.
A woman who was at the beach with her family wearing a burqini was accosted  by the police and was asked to remove it. Wearing a burqini is an offence which can be fined. It is highly concerning that Muslim women’s clothing is becoming a symbol of allegiance to terrorism. Due to this false and misplaced correlation, Muslim women are being denied their basic human right of practicing their religion freely.

I created the burkini to give women freedom, not to take it away

Intention in Islam

Intention in Islam

Many of us wonder at the purpose of life, and the reason for living. It is one of the most basic and existential of all questions people have wanted to answer for as long as documented philosophy goes. In the Quran, Allah tells us that, “I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (The Quran, Chapter 51 Verse 56). However, how does this belief apply to us in practical life? After all, our lives are taken up in large part by the activities essential to life as humans. Eating, sleeping, going to work, studying, earning a living, managing our homes, bringing up a family- all take up time and energy.

However, by simply changing one small thing, it is possible to convert all our activities of living, even the basest and mundane ones, into acts of worship. Islam lays a great emphasis on the niyah or intention behind our actions. Allah tells us to dedicate our activities to Him, and to no one else:

Say, “indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds”(The Quran, Chapter 6 Verse 162).

When the intention behind an action is to please Allah, we are rewarded for them and these rewards will be multiplied several times over at the time of judgment (The Quran, Chapter 6 Verse 160). Feeding orphans, preventing abuse of any kind, looking after family, the needy, our neighbors, selflessly giving from one’s wealth and time to a cause, practicing and perfecting our manners and etiquette- all these which improve our character as humans, become the best means for accumulating the deeds that lead to jannah.

For example, if a man goes to work and his intention is to earn an income, he is working to attain a worldly goal- that of earning, perhaps buying a home, etc. However, if he works with the intention of earning to support his family to earn the pleasure of Allah (as he is fulfilling the role Allah ordained for him as a bread-winner), then the same act of work becomes an act of worship as well. By the same token, if a woman is a home-maker and dedicates her life to the Islamic upbringing of her family and undertakes a lifetime of unpaid work, the intention behind her occupation, if it is to please Allah, becomes the reason for her to enter Jannah.

Of course, the matter of intention is so private, it a matter between a human and his creator. It is not for someone else to second-guess intention or to judge whether it is the right one or not, because Allah tells us, “….He knows the secret and what is [even] more hidden” (The Quran, Chapter 20 Verse 7).

Teaching Kids to Communicate

Teaching Kids to Communicate

As Muslims, we are constantly under social, public and media scrutiny. Often, we are accused  wrongly of holding beliefs which are against the tenets of civil society. We are increasingly being condemned of crimes against humanity when millions upon millions of Muslims all over the world are peaceful, decent, freedom-loving citizens of wherever they live.

Wrong accusations and tragic outcomes are best illustrated in the case of Nashwan Uppal, a 12 year old student of a Middle School in the East Islip School District of Long Island. Nashwan was bullied by other students who accused him of being a terrorist and the school’s assistant principal even forced him to fill out a written confession. The family are now suing the school district for $25 million and Nashwan’s mother says she is not comfortable sending her son back to the same school.

Such cases are extreme and fortunately so far, rare. However, Muslim children need to be aware of the global political environment which is victimizing even innocent kids.

Usually, the rhetoric of targeting or stereotyping follows a flawed logic, which goes something like this:

Muslims are terrorists

You are Muslim

Therefore you are a terrorist

Such  logic is called ‘deductive logic’ and is dependent on a premise which is treated as a fact. In this case the premise is “Muslims are terrorists”.

Let us consider another example.

Men are pedophiles

You are a man

Therefore you are a pedophile

Everyone can see that the initial premise of “Men are pedophiles” is flawed and based on opinion, not fact.

The “Muslim-as-Terrorist” rhetoric has been so often repeated and reinforced through the media and by violent killers who carry out their crimes supposedly for Islam, that it is becoming difficult for people to point out the flaw in painting all Muslims as terrorists. We need to teach our children how to politely but assertively tell their peers and teachers, that Muslims cannot be terrorists.

In our nuclear family and extended family combines, we have children of all ages, from kindergarten to university. Depending on their ages and level of understanding, we are trying to educate them about “true Islam”, a religion of peace and harmonious living, so they may embody these principles and counter the flawed narratives of the society we live in.

Hijabi Women in the Olympics

Hijabi Women in the Olympics

Kariman Abdul Jadayel made history by competing as the first Saudi Arabian woman in the 100 meter sprint at the Rio Olympics. She placed 7th in the heats, which eliminated her from the competition but has nevertheless earned her worldwide praise. Dressed in a full-body suit and hijab, she timed in at 14.61 seconds. Afghanistan’s Kamia Yusoufi also competed in the heats in a hijab and full body clothing and finished in 14.02 seconds.
American fencer, Ibtihaj Mohammed, won a Bronze medal at the Rio Olympics also wearing hijab.
Cathy Freeman, an Australian sprinter, famously won the 400 meters in the 2000 Olympics wearing similar full-body dress.
These examples show that women’s bodies do not need to be exposed for them to compete successfully at any level of their chosen sport. In fact, the exposure of women’s bodies is anti-feminist, in that the particulars of their physique rather than their skill or prowess at their sport, attracts attention while detracting from the sport. Full body covering is not only compliant with the rules of Islamic dress, it also reclaims women’s right to desexualize their bodies.
The Oneness

The Oneness

Tawheed is an Arabic word which is central to the understanding of the oneness of Allah in all three Abrahamic faiths- Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is derived from the root word ‘Wahid’ which denotatively means one, but connotes a more complex meaning signifying the only One. It is important to understand tawheed because it is so integral to our faith that any deviation from it makes one stray from the straight path of Islam and nullifies our worship and dedication to Allah.

Tawheed means to know Allah as the only God, creator, sustainer and destroyer of all creation. He is the divine, the ever-lasting, the One who exists with no parents, offspring, associate or partner. All lordship, divinity and supremacy belong to Him alone. Allah tells us that He is the unique being, unlike any of His creation and that all divinity belongs to Him alone (the Quran, Chapter 112). For Allah, the only acceptable religion is Islam (the Quran, Chapter 3, Verses 19 & 85).

Many people, including polytheists (who believe in several gods and goddesses) also recognize that there is one God, the creator. However, the difference in their belief is that they ascribe different functions to the lesser gods, such as gods of maintainence, destruction, rain, wind, sun, moon, knowledge, music, war and countless others. As such, divinity and lordship is shared among godly beings, who also mimic human characteristics such as emotion, physical bodies and weaknesses and failings.

The Islamic principle of Tawheed can be categorized into the following:

Tawheed Al- Ruboobbiyyah- (oneness of Lordship) This means Allah owns the oneness of status or lordship. There is none that can share in this status, and He is the sole origin of creation, destruction and mainetence.

Tawheed Al-Ibadaah- (oneness of Worship) This means that Allah alone has the right to be worshipped. Many people who believe in the lordship of Allah as their creator, deviate from this second principle because they worship other than Allah, even if indirectly or unintentionally. For example, many people devote acts of worship and praise to worldly things or to people they believe have access to Allah.

Tawheed Al-Asma Wal-Sifat- (oneness of Names and Attributes) This means  that the names and characteristics which Allah has used to describe Himself belong only to Him and we need to recognize that as humans, we are limited in our understanding of his complete perfection. The beautiful names of Allah that He has given us to praise Him with, help us understand Him better. For example, Allah’s 99 names include Ar-Rahman (the Merciful), Ar-Raheem (the Beneficient), Al- Malik (the sovereign ruler), Al-Khaliq (the Creator), Al-Razzaq (the Giver), Al- Alim (the All-knower), Al-Adl (the Just) and several others. These characteristics, in their most perfect and exalted meanings, belong only to Allah. For example, as we believe Allah to be Al-Razzaq, it is impermissible for us to ask anyone or anything else to relieve our needs or to provide us livelihood; likewise, our belief in Allah as being Just, means that He is the perfect form of justice without fault, oversight or partial knowledge.

It is only by applying all three principles of tawheed in our belief and worship, that our faith can be complete.

 

 

Safety First

Safety First

I was a long distance runner for several years and thankfully, was always able to keep safe during my runs. I am appalled at the spate of murders which have left three joggers dead in the last fortnight. Here are some simple and practical safety tips for walkers, runners and joggers which we all know but perhaps get complacent about following until a crime takes place.

  • Know the landscape. Vanessa Marcotte, 27, was visiting her mother in Princeton from New York. She went for a run about 1 pm and was found sexually assaulted and dead half a mile from her mother’s home at 8.30 pm. Avoid running outdoors in unfamiliar places.
  • If on holiday, take it indoors or chill out. We all want to ensure our health and fitness do not suffer during a holiday. Runners especially find it hard to miss a run if they are training for an event. Learn to direct your body towards other activities, like a swim in the neighborhood pool or kick a ball in the backyard.
  • Cross-train. Runners are prone to injuries due to over-training. Tight hamstrings, Achilles tendon injuries, shin splints, are all indicators of overuse. Vary your routine, cross train at a gym or at home, so a criminal cannot track your timetable and plan an attack.
  • Ditch the music. Runners and walkers often have headphones to listen to music or catch up on the news. This is a dangerous habit as you can literally “tune out” and miss vital sounds like someone coming up from behind you. Be aware of your surroundings. Notice people, trees, bushes, wildlife, anything that keeps you focused and mindful.
  • Invest in a treadmill. At one point in my life, I was juggling full-time work, postgraduate study and was training to run a marathon. On some days, the only time I had for my run was a hair-raising 10 or 11 at night. The deserted winter nights were the worst- they looked just right for a potential killer or rapist. For such times having a treadmill on stand-by is great. A foldable (and very affordable) treadmill might not give you the benefits of a hill run or the relaxation of an outdoor workout but will keep you safe.
  • Safety in numbers. Runners and walkers are often creatures of habit. If you are out at the same time every day and see many familiar faces, approach them to form a walking or running club. This is great for safety and motivation.
  • Be prepared. Always have a pepper spray can or a whistle where you can reach it quickly. If you suspect you are being followed, head towards a public area and as a rule, keep away from isolated tracks. Don’t be afraid to shout for help even if you are approached by a stranger. Don’t wait to be attacked!
  • Use your legs. Runners and walkers have the strongest legs. If you are attacked, use your legs and knees to kick hard at any part of the assailant’s body, aiming especially for the face, groin or abdomen. Criminals do not expect to be fought back, so use the element of surprise to get away. Take a self-defense class to pick up some life-saving moves.
  • Always remember, safety comes first. Think what a criminal would do so you can counter such a situation  to prevent yourself from becoming the victim of crime.
The Evil of Alcohol

The Evil of Alcohol

Nearly 4 in every 10 violent crimes involve alcohol, 4 in 10 fatal car crashes are alcohol-related and 4 in 10 offenders on probation, state prison or local jail, report they were using alcohol at the time they committed the crime (National Symposium on Alcohol Abuse and Crime, 1998). Violent crime and alcohol have had a long historical association. 7 out of 10 violent crimes related to alcohol take place within the home and are preceded by verbal argumentation and the perpetrator of the crime is usually the one who is intoxicated, according to a study published in the Journal of Addictions (Murdoch & Ross, 2009).

It would be appropriate to state that various social ills and their far-reaching effects on the individual, family and society, are due to the use and misuse of alcohol. On average 88,000 deaths are linked to alcohol per year in the US alone.

In Islam, the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited and alcohol is considered ‘haram’ or impermissible. The Quran explicitly states the forbidden in several places. For example:

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than Allah], and diving arrows are but defilement from the wok of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. (The Quran, Chapter 5 Verse 90).

All intoxicants are prohibited in Islam, so modern drugs which have not been named in the Quran are not exempt from the prohibition. Intoxicants are regarded as one of the means for Satan to avert people from the right path which would make them successful in the worldly life and the hereafter.

Imam and Assistant Shot Dead in New York

Imam and Assistant Shot Dead in New York

The Imam (Muslim priest) of  Al-Furqan Jame mosque in Queens, New York, was killed with his assistant about 1.50 pm on Saturday August 13th 2016 after leaving the Mosque following the afternoon (Zohar) prayers .  Imam Maulana Akonjee (55) and Thara Uddin (64) were both shot in the head.

At this stage, the reason for the two murders is unclear. The investigating NYPD Deputy Police Inspector, Henry Sautner, stated that it cannot be concluded that the men were targeted because of their faith. There was an altercation at the mosque earlier, and investigations are underway to determine if the murders are related to that.
We must be careful not to assume that this is a hate crime against Muslims, the same way that as Muslims we do not like to be assumed terrorists or criminals because of our faith. We need to acknowledge the integrity of the police in America, and the fact that investigations are carried out independently without political interference. We pray for the departed souls and hope the perpetrators of this heinous crime are caught as soon as possible. All humans should stand together against such acts that have left 2 families without their fathers each leaving behind a wife and three children.
The life of a single mother

The life of a single mother

Note from editor: Many Muslim women are leading lives of single mothers while being married. It is common for their husbands to live and work in a different country for several months at a time, visiting the wife and children for a few weeks every year. In this article by Husna, one of our readers, we get a rare first person insight into how a woman lives alone, caring for the elderly and bringing up the children all on her own while maintaining her taqwa and deen.

It is not easy for the husband also to stay isolated from his family and work hard to earn the bread and butter for the family. But, the bigger responsibility of the family lies in the hands of the woman. Being a home maker, right from the basic things like groceries, utilities , house-keeping , maintenance and of course- the biggest responsibility of the children.

Everything is important but her main priority is the upbringing of children; if she has more than two kids, it gets quite difficult to manage. Right from their basics, to their education and their recreation, each & every aspect is very important. It is not so easy as it seems to handle everything alone. Of course , the responsibility lies with the home maker to make all this happen. An added responsibility is if she has to even take care of either or both of her in-laws as well. And if they are elderly or sick, it gets more difficult for her to manage, because she already has children to take care of and if willingly, she agrees to take care of the in-laws, indeed the reward for it is great from Allah SWT: Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We shall certainly make him live a good life, and We shall certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did (Holy Qur’an, 16:97).

But! my dear friends, she is not answerable if she cannot take care of them. It is the duty of the children to take care of their parents when they grow old. However, as per Islam , the responsibility of a wife is to take good care and proper upbringing of YOUR children not your parents. And is certainly very difficult for her and over-burdening her when she is handling everything entirely all alone! We must appreciate it if women willingly agree to take care of them.

Here would like to shed some light on this aspect from the society’s point of view. If anything goes wrong… they are the first to blame the daughter-in-law- that she hasn’t taken care of them properly, she is careless, or irresponsible! Well… calm down.. let us not be judgmental about anyone unless we know what struggles they are going through. This is a matter of concern in many households nowadays… lets understand each others responsibilities and understand our priorities in life the proper Islamic way and maintain peace.

Understanding each other, sharing the burdens and solving their problems makes life easier for us also in this world and in the hereafter. Let's make this world a better place to live in … May Allah Swt bless each of us to guide our children on the path of Islam and help us in their upbringing in the proper Islamic way… Aameen!

Knowledge and Islam

Knowledge and Islam

Gaining knowledge, benefiting from it and uplifting one’s society through it, is the right and responsibility of every Muslim as laid down in Islam. Knowledge is not the realm of scholars, priests or nobility. As Islamic society is characterized by a ‘flat’ casteless structure, people are not given special status or privilege when it comes to gaining knowledge.
Islam emphasized knowledge of two kinds: one which pertains to the world, and one which pertains to the after-life. Both are differentiated from one another because the goal of attaining these types of knowledge is different. Worldly knowledge includes formal education, schooling, gaining qualifications and training, etc. which will enable one to earn a livelihood and pursue a vocation. Knowledge of the after-life aims at existential questions, the nature of God, the purpose of life, and how to conduct life on earth to attain the goal of jannah, or heaven.
In India, the world’s largest democracy, Muslims are reportedly the most under-educated class, at a lower level that ‘scheduled castes and tribes’, a group of people who had been forced to live on the fringes of society and systematically oppressed for centuries. The level of knowledge about Islam among Muslims is far from optimal, if the worldwide crisis of “Islamic terrorism” is a benchmark to go by. The oppression of women in Islamic societies, their inability to gain knowledge and paid employment, is the anti-thesis of what is advocated in Islam, again an output of the ignorance which is rife among Muslims.
The root cause of so many social ills, whole societies at the brink of catastrophes, so much lost potential, is ignorance.
The very first time Angel Gabriel came to prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) as he sat meditating in the cave of Hira, he told him to “Recite in the name of your Lord who created” (The Quran, Chapter 96, Verse 1). He was not told about the oneness of Allah, about worshiping Him, or anything else except to recite or read in the name of the Lord. Reading, reciting, becoming knowledgeable, dispelling ignorance, was the first thing Muslims were commanded to do. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) advised his followers to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”.
Gaining knowledge is useless if it is not subsequently applied. Islam holds people who have knowledge, responsible and accountable. One of the four questions a soul will be asked on the day of judgment, is what a person did with the knowledge he or she had and how it was used or misused. Knowledge is indeed power, and is to be used cautiously and directed at the right cause.
There is an Islamic etiquette of seeking knowledge, which includes:
• Being patient. In-depth knowledge takes time to cultivate
• Correct the goal. Examine the reason for gaining knowledge. Is it purely for monetary reasons or to gain the pleasure of Allah? How will the community or society benefit?
• Apply the knowledge. Do not restrict the knowledge gained but disseminate it so others may benefit and lives may improve.
• Know the source. Realize that ability and inability both come from Allah. This guides one’s ego from becoming arrogant or boastful.
• Utilize the time. Having time for study is precious and a gift from Allah, not everyone has it. Use it well and do not waste it in frivolous pursuits or arguments.
• Breadth of knowledge. Study widely to know your subject well. Become aware of current issues, controversies and counter-arguments.
• Respect the teacher. No matter what level of study you are at, respect your teacher and trust their learning, expertise and experience.
• Check the company. The company you keep will influence your knowledge and its applicability. Carefully select friends and associates.
Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. (Kofi Annan).

Muslims Vs Airlines

Muslims Vs Airlines

The airline industry needs to train their airplane crew members and should penalize them if they object to flying passengers from a certain community which almost always happens to be Muslims.  In a recent incident, the air hostess said she was not comfortable with a Muslim passenger on-board. Had she said the same about a person’s skin color or sexual orientation, she would have been fired from her job. Of course there have been incidents earlier due to which there could be uneasiness but remember the airport securities have increased due to that and there is no reason why someone should be removed from flying to destinations. It is becoming increasingly easy for airlines to kick passengers off their flights. Some of the recent reasons which saw passengers unceremoniously kicked off flights include:

  • Reading a book about Syria
  • Making a phone call to an uncle in Iraq
  • Wearing a hijab or Islamic head dress
  • Texting to tell wife the flight is delayed (in Arabic)
  • Sweating on flight
  • Asking for an unopened can of beverage
  • Speaking in language other than English

It would not be surprising to know that all pertain to Muslim passengers. ‘Flying while Muslim’ is a term being used tongue-in-cheek to describe the perils, drama and delays associated with either being Muslim or being assumed a Muslim (an issue affecting Sikh men who wear the traditional turban).

The extra security checks, extended questioning lasting up to 9 hours, missed flights and non-reimbursed ticket prices posed such a problem in England, that Glasgow airport faced a boycott from Muslim passengers in 2012. Ethnic minorities, Asians and non-White people were identified as 42 times more likely to be detained at airports. Last year England passed legislation which specifically directs officers at airports to monitor how they choose passengers for extra checks and questioning:

  • paragraph 18 extract – ‘Examining officers must take particular care to ensure that the selection of persons for examination is not solely based on their background or religion.’
  • paragraph 19 extract – ‘A person’s ethnic background or religion must not be used alone or in combination with each other as the sole reason for selecting the person for examination.’ (Revised Schedule 7 of the European Convention of Human Rights)

While no one would logically refuse to checked or questioned for their own safety as passengers, the issue remains one of stereotyping and racial/ethnic prejudice. This issue is not likely to go away and is one the airline industry would do well to take a good hard look at.

Muslim Women Beaten for Carrying Beef

Muslim Women Beaten for Carrying Beef

In India, 2 Muslim women were attacked publicly in the presence of police by ‘gau-rakshaks’ or ‘cow vigilantes’ when they were suspected of carrying beef which was later found to be buffalo meat. The presence of Police at the time of the incident didn’t stop women from getting thrashed, So far this year three people have been killed and several others beaten and flogged over the transportation, sale or consumption of beef.

Recently, nation-wide controversy has flared up with regard to cows. Incidents of violence against people either buying, or suspected of buying, beef, are on the rise. A 52 year old Muslim man was lynched to death on suspicion of eating beef. In an unlikely alliance, Dalits who are classed as lower caste among Indian Hindus, and Muslims joined together in a rally to protest against the public flogging of four Dalit youth by cow vigilantes who were attacked for skinning a dead cow.

Such is the public uprising and growing furor in India that President Barack Obama has urged the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to take all necessary steps to contain this violence. Three days ago, Mr. Modi released a statement saying “Gau rakshaks indulge in anti-social activities; cow-vigilantism is just a ruse to hide their misdeeds”. However, no concrete action has taken place to end the violence over the cow-controversy.

The Sunnah of Marriage

The Sunnah of Marriage

Marriage has been designated in Islam as a necessary practice beneficial to both the individual and society. There are several verses of the Quran which promote the sanctity of the relationship between husband and wife:

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for s people who give thought. (The Quran, Chapter 30 Verse 21).

The analogy of husband and wife being garments for one another (Chapter 2 Verse 187) directs us to cultivate a relationship that is protective and functions to hide each other’s flaws and weaknesses.

As marriage is regarded as a means of strengthening the social unit in an enduring and Islamic manner, it is important to also begin this relationship in a halal or permissible manner.

Searching for a Spouse

A hadith of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) advises us that a woman is married for her beauty, wealth, status or faith. He recommends marrying someone with the right taqwa or faith, over all other characteristics, in order to lead a successful Islamic life. The same holds true for women- they too need to seek a spouse whose faith and deen take precedence over wealth, status or good looks.

Dowry or Mehr?

Mehr is a gift from the husband to his wife which is paid at the time of marriage, or is specified as payable within a certain timeframe. It is popularly believed that mehr needs to be a sum of money, gold, property or any such tangible wealth. However, we know from prophetic tradition, that it can also be anything non-materialistic the wife has requested which was agreed upon by the husband. At the time of prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), a man married a woman with the mehr of teaching her the Quran. Anecdotally, there are contemporary instances of mehr being the commitment to take the wife to Hajj. Dowry is associated with the payment of money, property or material payment, from the bride’s family to the groom and has no validity in Islamic law.

The Wedding

The best marriage is that in which there are least expenses (Hadith of prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him).

Allah has facilitated marriage to guard men and women from ‘zina’ or adultery and fornication. Marriage is a protection for the society and the individual, and hence it is to be made as easy

and accessible as possible. It has become normal practice to wait several years after finding a suitable spouse, in order to save money for a lavish wedding. This is not permissible as it provides opportunity for zina or illicit sexual relationships. Cultural traditions involving several ceremonies, gift-giving and expense, are not a religious requirement, merely cultural traditions.

In fact, the Quran expressly forbids extravagance and waste, saying:

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful (The Quran, Chapter 17 Verse 27).

Predestination or Qadar

Predestination or Qadar

Qadar or predestination is the sixth pillar of faith in Islam. Without belief in this, our faith is incomplete. Qadar is derived from the root word qadara meaning measurement or evaluation.  Allah tells us in the Quran that He has created everything according to his decision and prior knowledge:

Indeed, all things We created with predestination. (The Quran, Chapter 54 Verse 49).

Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is. (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 117).

There are also several hadeeth which stress the importance of belief in Qadar. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that Muslims must believe in “the divine decree, its good and its bad”, and “Know that whatever has befallen you could never have missed you, and that which missed you could never have befallen you.”

Qadar does not mean we can become complacent or fatalistic in our outlook. However, Qadar functions as a means of being receptive to the good and bad events in our life and to be patient in times of calamity and to be grateful to Allah at times of happiness.

The Quran guides us towards the most Islamic way of conducting ourselves at times of distress, which should be premised on our belief in predestination:

Who, when disaster strikes them, say “indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”

Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verses 156-7).

Qadar acts as a deterrent to becoming arrogant because we have been advised by Allah’s messenger that “Everything is by Qadar, even inability and capability”.

Black Magic- Prevention and Cure

Black Magic- Prevention and Cure

It is a well-known principle of self-defence that one should become very familiar with the enemy. To protect oneself, it is imperative to know what encourages the enemy, what deters it , makes it stronger, weakens it or defeats it. Likewise, a weapon of the shaitan, the enemy of Muslims, is black magic. In fact,  the term ‘black magic’ is a misnomer as it implies that its opposite, ‘white magic’ exists. There is no beneficial, good, or white magic. All magic is haram and has its roots in shirk, or the partnership ascribed to other than Allah.

Magic was taught by two angels, Harut and Marut, sent by Allah to the people of ancient Babylon, but they taught magic only after telling the learners that they were a test from Allah (the Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 102).  People throughout history have practiced magic and continue to do so today. The common reasons for magic are:

  • To bring someone close or to repel someone (or a combination of these two)
  • To separate husband and wife
  • To cause mischief and tear apart families
  • To cause financial loss
  • To cause mental distress, insanity or self-harm
  • To kill

For magic to take effect, the magician must enter into a contract with the shaitan and do various acts of shirk to prove allegiance to him. Once the magician has gained shaitan’s favor, he is able to cast spells on people. Spells usually need the name of the person on whom magic is being done, their mother’s name and a picture or a personal item, like hair, nails or intimate clothing. The magic is carried out by a jinn (another creation of Allah made of smokeless fire invisible to humans) who follows the shaitan’s orders. Magic involves a contract between the magician and shaitan and is contained in an amulet, inscriptions or a series of symbols, letters or numbers. Sometimes, the magician may also use verses of the Quran but mix them with magic words and give them to be worn as an amulet or be mixed with water and drunk, or be burnt in a special way.

The signs of someone affected by magic mimic various psychological conditions, so it is important to rule these out before concluding that a person is a victim of magic. The usual signs of magic are:

  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Illness that has no identified cause and is not responding to medical treatment
  • Becoming hateful towards one’s spouse
  • Behavior which harms self or others

Prevention and cure of black magic both have very similar features. Prevention, of course, is the best option. Black magic is repelled by many simple acts which should be part of every Muslim’s life. Make your home a place where the shayateen (followers of shaitan, including both jinn and humans) fear to enter.  Shayateen love places of filth, music and dance, and places where Allah’s book is not read and where His worship does not take place. Homes where pictures and sculptures of people and other animate things are displayed are also very pleasing to shayateen. Ensure Surah Baqarah is recited in the home regularly as its recitation makes shayateen flee.

*Strengthening one’s absolute belief in Allah and his infinite power over His entire creation. One must also believe without doubt that Allah has control over all things and all creation, and that nothing (good or bad) can happen without His will. This means not including the jinn and shaitan in the divinity and supremacy of Allah. Many people fear the jinn because they seemingly have supernatural powers and have the ability to hurt us. To put this into perspective, many other creations of Allah have abilities that humans do not and also have the power to hurt us (lions, tigers, snakes, scorpions etc., for example can kill humans). Fearing the jinn like only Allah should be, is an act of shirk that makes shaitan and his magic stronger. Attributing divinity to them, or believing they have the power to harm or benefit us, is the wrong basis for our tawheed (oneness of Allah). Generally, people become vulnerable to plots of shaitan when they forget  to remember Allah in whatever they are doing, at times of impurity, while going to the bathroom and in remote and isolated places. For these situations, the authentic duas from the sunnah are compiled in the book ‘fortress of a Muslim’, which is highly recommended. If one is seeking the help of a raqi (Islamic healer or exorcist) for removing magic, ensure he uses only the belief in Allah and uses verses of the Quran and permissible duas from the sunnah for treatment, as many raqis use haram methods of treatment, like amulets, tablets, spells and incantations which lead to shirk rather than healing.

The last two Surahs of the Quran, Al- Falaq and an-Nas were revealed together and are recited when seeking Allah’s protection from all kinds of evil. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) used to recite these and blow into his cupped hands and rub them all over his body to seek relief from the magic done on him.

Divorced within two hours of marriage

Divorced within two hours of marriage

A Muslim groom in Meerut, India, divorced his bride within two hours of the marriage ceremony. This was over his demand for a car as ‘dowry’(A non-Muslim tradition followed by Muslims in India to demand money and gifts at the time of marriage from the bride’s family)  which the bride’s family could not afford.

The matter went before the village elders which imposed a fine of Rs 225000 (approximately US $3400) on the groom’s family and has banned the man from marrying for the next three years.

From an Islamic point of view, two major issues are at play. Firstly, there is no provision of a ‘dowry’ in Islam which makes it necessary for the woman’s family to pay anything to the man. Secondly, it is not permissible to divorce a woman without an Islamic basis for it and without trying to reconcile differences first. The lack of religious knowledge among Muslims is causing major problems within the community and increasing such ignorant behavior.

Cultivating Assertiveness the Islamic Way

Cultivating Assertiveness the Islamic Way

In interpersonal communication theory, a person’s communication style is determined by the way he or she interacts with others, their perception of self in relation to those they are interacting with and how they influence others. In this regard, a common model for categorizing personality traits is the ‘DISC’ model developed by a psychologist William Marston.
Simply put, the DISC model identifies people’s communication style as dominant, influential, steady and compliant. Depending on the situation and who we are interacting with, our communication style varies along the spectrum. For example, if you are speaking with your child, the style of communication will be different compared to when you are speaking with your boss at work or an elder person in the family.
The sunnah of prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) counsels us to cultivate an assertive personality without being aggressive or on the other extreme, being meek and overly compliant. Assertiveness does not mean aggression or getting people to agree with your viewpoint even when it is not beneficial to them. The Quran directs us to know people, get familiar with different customs and cultures, and seek to understand different perspectives:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed , the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. (Chapter 49 Verse 13). We are specifically told in the same chapter not to make assumptions about people without knowledge (Verse 12 ) and not to ridicule one another, meaning not to consider others inferior to ourselves (Verse 11).
Assertive behavior calls for creating a “win-win” situation, one which prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) was adept at. His pleasing and warm personality, combined with his innate sense of justice for all and upright nature gives us an excellent role model upon which to consciously model our assertiveness in a positive manner.

Muslims & Christian join in Friday prayer for slain Preist

Muslims & Christian join in Friday prayer for slain Preist

Muslims and Christians joined in Friday prayer at the mosque in the Normandy town where an elderly priest was slain this week, with one imam chastising the extremists as non-Muslims who are “not part of civilization” or “humanity.”

Muslims came from other parts of France to be present for the service shared with Christians.

The killing on Tuesday of the 85-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel as he celebrated morning Mass sent shockwaves around France, and deeply touched many among the nation’s 5 million Muslims.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as the attack in Nice, where 84 people were killed by a man who plowed his truck down a seaside promenade on Bastille Day.

The head of the main Muslim umbrella group, Anouar Kbibech, who attended Friday’s gathering, reiterated a call for Muslims to visit churches on Sunday to show solidarity with Christians as they pray. But one imam made a direct strike at the killers who claimed to act in the name of Allah.

“You have wronged the humanity because you are not a part of humanity,” said Abdelatif Hmitou. “You have the wrong idea about us (Muslims) and we won’t forgive you for this.”

As Muslims we need to stand up against injustice and show solidarity towards the communities that are being wronged.

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Watch a powerful speech praising a fallen Muslim soldier by Hillary Clinton followed by the speech from the soldier’s father.

Communication and Islam   

Communication and Islam   

Communication is the glue that binds people together

As humans we depend on effective communication with others for our relationships, networks, social bonding, and work. Without good communication, life as we know it would be impossible.

The area of interpersonal communication is as vast as it is important. There are different types of communication which we all use in our everyday interactions, and which all have their specific rules. Broadly, these categories are  written communication, verbal communication (what we say and how we say it), non-verbal communication ( communication excluding the verbal, such as eye contact, body language, facial expressions), spatial communication (how our environment and we are positioned physically in relation to others) and haptic communication (communication involving touch).

It is no surprise that Islam has not left such an important aspect of our life to chance. In the Quran and Sunnah, we find excellent directive and examples to cultivate the type of communication skills which will enhance and enrich our lives.

  • Greeting in the Islamic manner of peace: Assalam alaikum
  • Smiling

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)  said “Smiling in the face of your brother is charity”.

  • Using soft voice and intonation

The Quran directs us to be measured and soft in speech, “And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys” (Chapter 31 Verse 19).

  • Using non-confrontational words and gestures

Minimizing difference between others and oneself often prevents confrontation and argument. Establish cordial relationships at every possibility. The Quran tells us, “And obey Allah and His messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed Allah is with the patient. (Chapter 8 Verse 46).

  • Using direct and simple language excluding double-meanings and sarcasm

Using sarcastic, indirect or double-meaning language is strongly discouraged, as is using a person as the target of jokes or criticism.

  • Inquiring about others

Inquiring about family and friends creates warmth in relationships and connects people together.

  • Empathizing

Create empathy by putting yourself in the position of the person you are communicating with to understand their perspective, issues and communication style.

  • Gift-giving

Giving and receiving of gifts was a practice of our beloved prophet (peace be upon him). Gifts should be given and received as a means of practicing this sunnah and to establish positive relationships, not as a means competition or display of wealth.

  • Shaking hands and embracing according to gender and relationship

Shaking hands and embracing are a part of sunnah. However there are specific rules about this as people of the same gender, or those who are ‘mahram’ can touch each other.

  • Staying away from backbiting and creating factions

Creating rift and division by speaking ill about someone, backbiting, insulting or being involved in conspiracies are the evils of the tongue which lead to sinfulness and ultimately to jahannum or hell. These are considered to be very grave sins and we need to monitor our communication to guard against them.

  • Ending a meeting with warmth and greetings of peace: Assalam alaikum
Treatment of Depression in Islam

Treatment of Depression in Islam

There are several causes of depression, which could be environmental, situational, psychological or due to our genetic pre-disposition. People who are pessimistic, hopeless or are suffering an ongoing physical illness are more likely to get depressed.

Depression may be broadly categorized as situational and clinical. Situational depression is relatively temporary and is dependent on immediate factors such as the loss of a loved one, financial or job stress, or other distressing issues which when resolved affect the depressive condition. Clinical depression is not a passing phase. It is a mental health condition which affects almost everything about a person, including their appetite, sleep, mood, relationships, study, work, and activities which they found pleasurable before getting depressed. This is not a passing or temporary condition and neither is it within the individual’s control to talk themselves out of it or get better without help. Clinical depression needs a formal evaluation, a professional diagnosis and medical treatment.

Islam does not treat depression as a stigma or a sign of weak faith. Rather, it is regarded as any medical illness which needs to be treated by an expert. Allah tells us to seek proper attention for our ailments and to not neglect our physical or worldly life:

But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters. (The Quran, Chapter 28 Verse 77).

Self-denial and self-harm are both not permitted in Islam, as the body we have been granted is an ‘amanah’ or trust from Allah, which we need to care for:

And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.  (The Quran Chapter 4 Verse 29) and

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. (The Quran Chapter 2 Verse 195).

Existential questions, such as Why are we here? What is our purpose? What is the meaning of life when we are all going to die anyway? – have long been a source of hopelessness and confusion. For a Muslim, such questions have been answered by Allah, the One who created all of us for the specific purpose of worshipping Him and earning our place in the afterlife (the Quran Chapter 51 Verse 56). Hopelessness and helplessness is countered by the presence of an ever-present, merciful and forgiving being, Allah.

Further, our beloved Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) taught the following dua for people suffering from anxiety and depression:

Allaahumma inni ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatija naasyati bi yadika, maada fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka. As’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghayb ‘indaka an taj’al al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhihaab hammi

This means:

O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Quran the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.

Barakah is a term that can be understood as blessing or abundance.  As Muslims we believe the source of all blessing and abundance is Allah, the creator and sustainer of all creation.  It is important to understand that barakah does not refer simply to an abundance of wealth. Rather, it is a more holistic concept that encompasses the peace of mind that accompanies having enough for one’s needs and being self-sufficient. Barakah also refers to other things, such as health, offspring, efficiency at work, productivity in agriculture or animal husbandry, to name a few. It means being able to accomplish a lot with few resources, doing a lot in relatively little time and experiencing sufficiency is less amounts of food or wealth.

Seeking barakah from Allah is the duty of all people. Only He is able to provide for all his creatures as He sees fit. However, some Muslims have deviated from asking Allah directly for barakah. Instead, they choose to visit shrines, graves and tombs of people who are believed to have been holy men with special spiritual powers who can intercede on behalf of supplicants. And some also believe that amulets, lockets, talismans, tying of threads around trees, special esoteric numbers or alphabets hung on a person or in their homes or at the place of work have the ability to create abundance. Such actions contradict the founding belief in the oneness of Allah and His omnipotence.

The simplest way to understand that our complete dependence should be on Allah alone, is by the fact that we cannot beseech our prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) to ask Allah for anything on our behalf. If the best of all humans, and the best among prophets cannot intercede for us, then how can we seek from the bounty of Allah through any other means other than asking Him to bless us with barakah?

Barakah can be increased by:

  • Saying ‘Bismillah’ and invoking Allah’s name in everything we do
  • Being regular in Salah (prayers) and the recitation of the Quran
  • Giving in charity over and above the compulsory ‘zakah’
  • Thanking Allah profusely for all His blessings
  • Making dua to Allah to fulfill all our needs
  • Maintaining cordial relationships with family
  • Honesty in trade and trading only in permissible goods
  • Asking Allah sincerely for forgiveness
Open day at Mosque

Open day at Mosque

MasjidOD

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

I begin with the disclaimer that the following are my own views and do not represent views of any other group(s) of people or organization’s.

It is no secret that Islam and Muslims, in this day and age, are taking a lot of flak from a variety of groups. At the same time, I have found the majority of Muslims to be generally reserved in terms of communicating with the wider community. Perhaps we think that people are not gullible enough to be brainwashed by mainstream media. Or perhaps we think that sufficient inter-faith communication is already taking place. Or perhaps we think inter-faith communication is not our personal responsibility. But there has to be a stronger counter-narrative to all the various sources of miscommunication that is being fed in front of our eyes.

I am a big believer in working locally in my community, and doing whatever I can do in my capacity to address the imbalance in the perception of Islam and Muslims.

I have been very fortunate to have had faith related dialogue with people from different walks of life. We have organized Mosque Open days – where Mosques are open to general public (1), -where anyone can come in, have a tour of the Mosque, talk and ask questions to Islamic scholars as well as the local Muslim community. This is part of a greater initiative here in Australia, coordinating Mosque Open days on the same date (2). As an organizer, it is fair to say that I have heard a variety of viewpoints and seen a range of different attitudes towards Islam and religion in general.

There is generally a group of right-wing extremists who hate Islam. I have found that there is a common theme with most people in this group – they do not want to engage in a direct, meaningful discussion with Muslims, and usually any communication attempts end up in abuse or the claim that “You are just being nice to me and lying to me and I don’t trust you. Your religion permits you to lie. It’s called Taqiyya. (3)”

Then there is a group of people who are distant from religion altogether – they might belong to a religion, but a lot of people from this group are really atheists. Their view is that all religions are just means of controlling people and that religion is the source of a lot of grief and problems around the world.

There are a group of people from other faiths who have a better understanding of Islam and theology in general. They often sympathize with, and lend their support to Muslims.

In my experience, most people turning up to the open day genuinely want to find out about Islam and also check that the impression they might have of Islam from mainstream media is really true. The most rewarding experience for the open day organizers is when someone from the fringe of a right-wing group turns up, we have a meaningful dialogue, and they end up having a more balanced perspective of what Islam is, and how Muslims really are. Unfortunately, this does not happen as often as we would like. One of the most rewarding experience for me personally was after a long chat with an Aussie bloke, he remarked “You guys are all fair dinkum. I was really wrong.” (4)

Mosque Open Days are a great initiative. If you are a Muslim, living in non-Muslim country, I highly recommend you to suggest this to your local Mosque, and support the organizers any way you can. In general, we should look to build strong bridges of friendship with the wider community. Whether it be at your workplace, or with your neighbors.

As Muslims, I think this is an absolute necessity in the current climate and that all of us should take greater responsibility in addressing the imbalance created by anti-Islam propaganda.

Notes:

  1. I should clarify here that Mosques are open to public all the time. Its just that outside prayer times, no-one might be available in the smaller Mosques.
  1. National Mosque Open Day is an initiative that became popular in Australia since 2014 – where a lot of the Mosques open their doors to the general public, and hold Mosque tours, Q and A information session, and generally offer the wider community to meet Muslim people.
  1. Taqiyya is a concept whereby certain sects of Muslims are permitted to misrepresent their views or conceal their religion when under threat of persecution or compulsion. Since the 2000s, taqiyya has become a frequently invoked concept in debates surrounding criticism of Islam and especially Islamic extremism. Islamic scholars tend to emphasize that taqiyya is only permissible under duress, and that the inflationary use of the term qualifies as “a staple of right-wing Islamophobia in North America” (Mohammad Fadel 2013), or “Taqiyya libel against Muslims” while their critics accuse them of practicing “taqiyya about taqiyya” (Raymond Ibrahim, 2014).
  1. Fair dinkum is Australian slang used to confirm the genuineness or truth of something. For example, “they were asking a lot for the car, but it was fair dinkum considering its excellent condition”
High Price for Selfies

High Price for Selfies

Selfie

For those thankfully not infected by the “selfie bug” I would like to introduce them to the concept which is proving to be as infectious and fatal as any plague. “Selfies” are photographs taken by mobile phone by the person whose photograph it is. Usually they are made to look flattering and are intended to be shared by the photographer with his or her social circle. Social circles currently of course, are bounded by social networking sites, like the hugely popular Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other.
So far so good you might say. Just harmless sharing of pictures with family and friends, right? However, the practice of taking selfies is metamorphosing into a macabre and grim reality. With the abundance of information and about our family, immediate friends, and our friends in cyberspace so readily available, it is increasing easy to compare one’s life with other’s. The drive to appear more social, more popular and more interesting is leading people to pose for selfies in shockingly bizarre and dangerous ways.
Just some of the ways selfies have proved fatal last year alone due to people not paying attention to their surroundings include:
• Being electrocuted on top of a train
• Falling off a train
• Falling off a bridge
• Falling into a crater
• Shooting oneself with a gun
• Holding a live grenade
• Tipping the boat while standing to take a selfie
• Taking a selfie in the path of an oncoming train
• Falling from a high cliff
• Taking a selfie with a rattlesnake
• Taking a selfie with a bull and being gored to death
• Drowning in canal falling off a dam
• Falling off the parapet wall of a building
• Falling off a rock in zoo trying to get a close-up selfie with animal
• Drowned by a walrus in wildlife park
• Falling into a waterfall
• Falling while leaping into air for “flying selfie”
• Decapitation while putting head over door frame for selfie
• Swept away trying to capture giant wave in selfie
The price of taking a glamorous selfie could not be higher. Dozens of people have died while taking that last picture- one that was supposed to get them several “likes” on social media and gain them more popularity. This problem is not limited to a certain social class, location, or age. In the USA, more people were killed taking a selfie than the number killed by sharks. The highest number of selfie- related deaths was in India. A nature reserve in Croatia has warnings in place about taking selfies while also banning visitor from wearing sandals or open footwear, which has caused many to slip and fall into chasms and waterfalls while taking that elusive picture.
In addition to these your pictures contain information such as when and where it was taken. This information leaves you vulnerable to people with criminal intent.
It is time we stopped and thought about the seriousness of this matter. What price are we willing to pay for entertainment and popularity? The price of one’s life is surely too high.

Denied Job due to Hijab


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“I can do any job, I don’t mind, but I will keep my hijab, I will keep my identity, and respect my culture and my religion.”

Mona Alfadli, a New Zealand Muslim woman of Kuwaiti descent, has been refused a job because of her headscarf in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most ethnically diverse city.
Alfadli, who is qualified as a computer systems engineer, applied for the position of a retail assistant in a jewellry store, and was told to she would not be getting the job on account of her head scarf. She says before this experience she thought New Zealand was a safe place for her family to start life afresh after settling there as refugees in 2008, but this experience has left her feeling bitter and depressed. She asserts that it is her dream to find employment to support her family, and that she should not be treated in this way because of her religious beliefs.

Have you faced discrimination because of your hijab? Do you think employers should be able to direct people about their religious values? Share your stories here.

Ex-Marine Kills 3 Police officers

Ex-Marine Kills 3 Police officers

3 Police officers have been killed and 3 injured by an Ex- Marine in Baton Rouge, La., Shootings.

The Muslim community in US prays that no more of these incidents occur against the police officers who protect us all.

An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday. Obviously our community is hurting, and only through peace can we heal, and that’s going to take meaningful dialogue. There simply is no place for more violence.

#‎BatonRouge‬  #MontrellJackson  #prayforbatonrouge

 

 

Update on Turkey.

Update on Turkey.

The failed military coup in Turkey has left 290 people killed (190 civilians and 100 coup plotters) and more than 1,400 were wounded in the coup attempt that swept the country on Friday night but was foiled by Saturday morning. 6,000 plus have been detained due to their involvement in the failed coup.

The statement said it was the cleric Fethullah Gulen that staged this coup attempt.

“Our government has been constantly exposing the real motives of this terrorist group and its leader, Fethullah Gulen, to all allies and partners. The foiled coup is the latest criminal act revealing the danger posed by Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation,” as per Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.

Islamic Finance

Islamic Finance

Islamic Finance – it’s been evolving very rapidly into the finance world, Alhamdulillah. Scholars and professionals are pushing this to the forefront and in the past 1-2 decades it has exploded to great heights. It’s also an area that the average Muslim knows very little about, mainly due to the lack of education/knowledge. Some common questions are: Why is riba/interest/usury prohibited in Islam and the other Abrahamic faiths? What makes Islamic finance different than conventional finance?

I have been in the finance industry since 2002 and in Islamic Finance since 2006. At first I also had the same questions and just couldn’t get my head wrapped around it – especially since I was indulged in the “conventional interest” finance way of things. However I knew our mighty Creator – ALLAH SWT – prohibits certain actions/dealings, etc. for very particular reasons.

Scholars say that a Muslim/person involved in riba/interest/usury commits the second most severe sin in Islam. ALLAH SWT and his messenger have condemned the use of  riba/interest/usury.

So I’ll leave you with these few thoughts and questions to ponder over. I hope to continue (by the will of ALLAH SWT) to expound on this very important subject in Islam in the light of the Noble Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger Prophet Muhammad SAW.

Amer Gohar is an Area Manager for a prominent Islamic Bank in the USA and will be writing about the various aspects of Islamic Finance. Readers may post their queries as comments.

A Terrorist Cannot Be Muslim.

A Terrorist Cannot Be Muslim.

There were many families in different parts of the world who were living their normal everyday lives and unfortunately due to many terrorist attacks in the last month in Turkey, Iraq, Unites States, Bangladesh, Saudia Arabia, France, Syria and other countries, many families have lost their loved ones.  Families lost their children, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and so on. People who have been killed could have been the only earning member for that family; these families will never be the same anymore as their bread winner is gone, the kids might not have food on their table, they might not be able to attend the school ever again, the wife once comfortably a mother at home might have to work cleaning dishes and the parents might not be able to afford the medicines in their old age.  Everything in their life has been turned upside down by someone who didn’t even know them- a LUNATIC TERRORIST!   Who was not happy with his life and decided to ruin others’ lives too by going against the principles of ISLAM.

Can you:

Imagine a parent without their children?

Imagine kids growing without their parents?

Imagine a woman without her husband?

Imagine someone losing their livelihood?

Our beloved prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) admonished his followers for taking the lives of innocents no matter which religion they belong to.

With the terrorist attack increasing daily it’s time for all including Muslims around the world irrespective of their differences to join together against such heinous crimes against humanity that are unforgivable.

I emphasize that it’s our duty as Muslims to stand against this violence where a large number of innocent lives are lost due to some insane terrorist who is misguided, and lives in a delusion that they are the world’s keepers. If someone wants to be a keeper, instead of blowing themselves up and killing others, they should try to set a good example by being a good human and doing good deeds.

I am doing my share and educating as many people as possible by informing them that killings and suicide are HARAM in ISLAM. Is it not the responsibility of the readers to spread this information? You can share this article with as many as possible or just ignore it, but remember we all have our duties and are answerable on the day of judgement about we did to stop the evil and killings.

May Allah grant Jannah to all the victims and have his mercy on their families.  This is not a celebrity video/picture or a song but a note to all humans to make this post viral.

Coup in Turkey kills 42

Coup in Turkey kills 42

More than 750 were arrested and thousands injured when a faction of the military revolted against the president Recep Tayyip Erdoganand. The president had earlier in a televised address to the nation appealed to the general public to defy the coup leader’s curfew orders to which thousands of his supporters responded.

The coup is finally over with the president informing the nation that most of the military personal have surrendered, the prime minister has order the military chief to shoot down any planes that are in control of the rebels.

Let’s pray together for all the innocent lives lost.

US Army Soldier’s Open Letter to Muslims

US Army Soldier’s Open Letter to Muslims

Dear Muslims,

I am an American, a Christian, and a US Army Soldier. I’m white, I grew up in the South, and I love Jesus, as well as the life of freedom and prosperity that my country has enabled me to have. I have fought in Iraq and lost several really good friends there.

I don’t hate you. I don’t fear you. I don’t want you to leave this country. I want to know you, your heart, your struggles, and your joys. I want to have you over to my house for barbecues. I want our children to be friends and play in the back yard together. I want you to join my fantasy football league. I want to give you crap and make fun of you for not picking Marshawn Lynch in the first round of the draft when you had the opportunity. I want you to give me crap when it turns out that you were right, because Marshawn Lynch kind of sucks this year. I want to share mutual respect with you.

We share a common enemy in the radical Islamist. They want to drive us apart and to fear each other. They want your children to grow up hating my children. They want you to believe our way of life is evil and that we must be punished for it. They produce a barrage of internet propaganda aimed at isolating your children from those not like them in an attempt to recruit them to do evil on their behalf. Every terrorist attack against innocent people in this world is an attack against peace and normalcy. It’s designed to stir a violent response from those attacked and create more hatred between “us and them.”

Sadly, it’s working. It is producing the full range of human fear responses toward Arab-looking people — from a subtle sense of suspicion and unease communicated with sideways glances at each other on the street, to full-scale Islamophobia and racism. I want to believe that we, as Christians, could follow the example of Christ and show love to you as well as your people suffering through this refugee crisis in Syria by opening our homes and communities to you. We are failing at this because of the fear and distrust our enemies are willfully creating. This growing divide between our cultures makes recruiting more disaffected Muslim youth even easier for them.

To anyone reading this letter…Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheist, or whatever. We simply cannot let them win. We can’t allow them to make us hate each other.

Written by David Swan. Read the full article at  https://30mikemike.com/dear-muslims/

Pokemon Go! Risk or Entertainment

Pokemon Go! Risk or Entertainment

Pokemon Go is a smartphone game that has taken the gaming world by storm. It is a game which challenges players to go into their physical environments to capture imaginary creatures called Pokemon, or to find treasure. The game has been developed by Niantic, of which Nintendo is part-owner.

While the incidental exercise players of this game get walking around while hunting for treasure or Pokemon is to be applauded, there are serious ramifications which cannot be overlooked. CNN describes this game as one which uses “augmented reality”. Using various features of the game, players can claim ownership of landmarks or buildings, giving rise to multiple “ownership’s” of physical landmarks or property.  Geo-location within the app lets people pinpoint other players’ location, a feature that has not escaped the attention of robbers who have carried out armed robberies. Armed robbers in Missouri used a “beacon” in the app to lure people into secluded spots and were later apprehended by police. There have been incidents of near-miss car accidents which have taken place when people have been driving around chasing after these virtual creatures. A Wyoming teenager also discovered a dead body in the river near her house when she went looking for a water Pokemon.

While the Pokemon Go gaming app is becoming hugely popular and its use is predicted to increase exponentially over the summer holiday season, it is important to step away from its fan-following to consider its serious effects on our society. Single-dimension games had their own weaknesses, the main one being raising a generation of couch potatoes. Multilayered apps like Pokemon Go are a dangerous intrusion into our everyday reality. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my home or work overrun by gamers staking ownership or capturing creatures all over the place. I most definitely do not want my kids roaming about in isolated locations planted with criminals. When virtual reality clashes with real reality, one has to give. We live in a real world with real people to talk to and interact with. The glue of communication which binds us together has already weakened with most of our significant communication taking place over social media. The boundary between the real and virtual needs to be clearly demarcated or else we run the risk of losing touch with reality altogether and start living in a fantasy world as virtual extensions of our selves.

There have been sightings of young kids roaming in their neighborhood at midnight playing this game, without paying any attention to the surroundings. Parents need to keep a tab on kids to keep them safe.

 

Lessons from Ramadan     

Lessons from Ramadan     

We have completed the blessed month of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, many of us have spent the month in the remembrance of Allah, doing good deeds and earning our rewards for the akhirah. But how can we benefit from Ramadan even when it has drawn to a close? Do we think of this month as a single window in the year where we live according to the principles of Islam, just to revisit the same learning a year down the track? Or do we consider it an opportunity to cultivate good habits that will benefit us both in this world and the next?

As in a conference or a retreat, we like to take away with us some salient points that have been the highlights in the time spent there- something we would benefit from most in our lives.

Here is a compilation of what we can continue to do after Ramadan in order to increase our rewards and good deeds in the rest of the year:

  • Recitation of the Quran: Most of us increase our recitation of the holy Quran during Ramadan. Continuing it afterward keeps us connected to the words of Allah directly, guiding us to stay on the straight path.
  • Salat: During Ramadan we are very conscious about praying on time and ensure we do not miss any Salat. Continue this habit after Ramadan as it is the best way to stay connected to the deen and is a restorative, meditative way to remain connected with our creator.
  • Deeds: We increase our good deeds, like helping others and paying Zakah (compulsory) and Sadaqa (additional charity) during Ramadan. Aim to continue helping those less fortunate during the remaining year.
  • Time-management: We manage our fasting, early morning Suhuur, work, study, prayer, meal preparation and commitments at the Masjid during Ramadan. Continue to organize your time productively so you can make time for the most important parts of your spiritual, personal and professional life.
  • Healthy habits: Many bad habits like smoking, spending unproductive hours browsing the internet, backbiting, etc. are naturally removed during Ramadan. Be conscious of the tendency to reintroduce these habits once Ramadan is finished.
  • Hunger and Thirst: In our society of plentiful food and beverage, it is easy to forget that constant hunger, thirst, starvation and malnourishment are the reality for millions of people around the world. Ramadan reminds us to be grateful for the bounties of Allah that He has blessed us with and also to spare what we can to alleviate the condition of those less fortunate. The experience of hunger and thirst is a prompt to us for to give to charity regularly, in addition to the compulsory Zakah.
Patriotism and Islam

Patriotism and Islam

Patriotism, the love  for one’s country and devotion to its betterment, is a noble trait that every body nurtures. The sense of belonging to a  country and community is the basis upon which nationalism and patriotism flourish.

It is the responsibility of Muslims to cultivate love for their country and for the people of their country. It is a misconception that Muslims do not have an allegiance towards their country of birth or towards their adopted country. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) urged Muslims to love their country and its people and said, “Love of your country (patriotism) is a part of your faith”. In Islam, faith, spirituality, politics and government are not regarded as separate entities but are closely intertwined. One of the traits of a good Muslim  is that he or she is patriotic, is involved in the growth and progress of the community and has a strong sense of civic duty.

Islam does not forbid Muslims from loving their homeland. However, Muslims are forbidden to love or hate on the basis of national boundaries. This means that people are not allowed to hate someone just because he or she belongs to a different country or region and love someone because they come from the same country. This is regarded as another form of racism and discrimination, which is not permitted in Islam.

Citizenship is more than receiving a certificate of naturalization or being a passport holder of a particular country. Citizenship is to be part of a whole greater than oneself and to regard the larger society as a macrocosm of one’s immediate family or social circle. The troubles and issues facing one’s country cannot be seen as a distant matter for someone else to resolve.

At a time when Muslims are regarded with suspicion and hatred, it is imperative that we unite and send a clear message that being Muslim does not equal being unpatriotic. We need to stress that as Muslims, the security of the country,  our society, our communities and our families, are both our responsibility and our right. And to that end, we condemn what is wrong and support what is right.

Alphabets of Islam by 8yr Old

Alphabets of Islam by 8yr Old

This is the first article by an 8 year old. we ask all our readers to encourage their kids to write articles which will improve their Islamic knowledge and be read by our worldwide audience

A is for Allah The Creator of all things
B is for Bismillah When you say it Allah is with you in all what you do.
C is for Call to prayer Call to prayer or Azan  .
D is for Dua Prayer to Allah for all our needs
E is for Eid The two festivals in Islam
F is for Fajr The first salat of the day before sunrise
G is for Ghusl The bath we take to get clean
H is for Hajj The pilgrimage to the Ka’aba,   the fifth pillar of Islam
I is for Inshallah If Allah wills something it is done
J is for Jannah The eternal paradise or heaven
K is for Ka’aba The house of Allah
L is for La Ilaha Illalla There is no God but Allah
M is for Mohammed The last prophet of Allah
(peace be upon him) The last prophet of Allah
N is for Niyah Is the intention behind a deed
O is for Obey Obedience to Allah
P is for Pillars of Islam Shahad, Salat, Saum, Zakah and Hahh
Q is for Quran The holy book sent to all mankind by Allah
R is for Ramadan The holy month when Muslims fast
S is for Salat The five daily Muslim prayers
T is for Tawheed The belief in the oneness of Allah
U is for Ummah The nation/brotherhood of Muslims
V is for Veil The identity of Muslim women
W is for Wudu The way to get clean before prayers
X  for eXalted Allah is Exalte  the most high ( I didn’t have anything for that!)
Y is for Yaum ud deen The day of judgment
Z is for Zakat Charity given to the poor is one of the pillars of Islam

 

Stand Against Racism

Stand Against Racism

Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) chose Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) a black Muslim to give the first ever ‘Adhan’ (the call to prayer) at a time when black people were slaves and not even considered as human beings and were regarded as little more than chattel

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said, “O people!  Your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one.  An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a white person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a white person, except in piety”.

In prayers since the time of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), all Muslims stand together irrespective of their color, race, wealth or social standing and there is no difference between the wealthiest or the poor in front of Allah.

Islam is a religion that is premised on universal brotherhood because the origin of all humanity is the same- the parents Adam and Eve, and the Creator of all humans is the same-Allah: And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. (The Quran, Chapter 30 Verse 22).

Allah admonishes people who cause division and strife, and tells us “not be divided among yourselves” (The Quran, Chapter 3 Verse 103).

The diversity of skin colors, facial features, and physical build are not the basis upon which humans should judge one another. The supremacy of one person over another is to be based purely on their deeds rather than anything else.

Prophet Mohammed’s life (peace be upon him) is an example of how Muslims need to treat each other as well as their fellow beings, irrespective of religion. There are several hadees relating his excellent treatment of neighbors and companions who were different from him in their race, physical characteristics and religion.

Islam has provided a great example of how racism can be ended.  The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah shows the real Islamic brotherhood of all races and nations, when more than 2 million Muslims from all over the world come to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage every year.

As Muslims let’s stand united against racism, share and spread this message with your family and friends.

Terror attack in Bangladesh kills 20

Terror attack in Bangladesh kills 20

20 Hostages, 2 police officers and 6 terrorists are dead in the recent terror attack on an Artisan Bakery café in the affluent, diplomatic enclave was the deadliest and boldest act of terror in a country.

The victims were among roughly three dozen people taken hostage when attackers stormed the cafe Friday evening with guns, explosives and sharp weapons, authorities said.

Some guests and workers managed to escape, jumping from the bakery’s roof. Others crouched under chairs and tables as the gunmen fired indiscriminately, witnesses said.

Early Saturday morning, military commandos moved in. By the end, 13 people had been rescued and 20 were dead.

Six terrorists were killed and one was captured alive.

This tragedy comes within few days of the Turkey attack and so close to the end of Ramadan when we all are getting ready for Eid.

May Allah guide all the misguided youth to the correct path. Please share the below link with your friends and family members to inform them with quotes from Quran that suicide is Haram and so is killing of innocents

http://www.www.muslimwindow.com/suicide-is-strictly-banned-in-islam/

Syrian Refugee Finds $155,000, Returns It Because ‘I Am A Muslim’

Syrian Refugee Finds $155,000, Returns It Because ‘I Am A Muslim’

A young Syrian refugee identified as Muhannad M., found 50,000 Euros (around $55,000) in cash and an additional 100,000 Euros (around $110,000) with account information which gave him access to the money in a wardrobe, according to a Minden Police press release.

He was given the wardrobe to help furnish his apartment in Minden, a city west of Hanover. As he cleaned and reassembled the pieces, he found a wide storage pouch hidden beneath a lower shelf. In it was the stash of money.

b g

He checked online to confirm if they were real and when he realized it was real, he called the immigration and contacted the immigration office to ask about turning the money in. The man is being praised as a hero by local police for his honesty.

The money could have helped Muhannad get his two younger brothers out of Syria and into a new life in Germany. But he told Germany’s newspaper that he couldn’t do that.

“I am a Muslim. I’m not allowed to keep this money. My religion forbids it,” he said. “Allah would never allow me to finance my own interests with someone else’s wealth.”

Muhannad will get a reward of 3 percent of the total amount of his discovery – around $4,500. The police are trying to track down the wardrobe’s former owner.

Privacy Scarf

Privacy Scarf

Sisters- good news for us! There would have been many instances in our lives where we don’t want anyone to take our pictures-in parties, weddings and so on. We aren’t able to do much especially when you are attending marriages and family friends’ parties and we try to cover our faces / turn around so that we are not in the pictures.

We now have an answer to such problems. A scarf created by fashion entrepreneur Saif Siddiqui is designed to ‘give people their right to privacy back’.

It works by reflecting the light back into a camera, effectively becoming an ‘invisibility cloak’ for people who don’t want their photo taken. Anyone wearing the scarf is protected from mobile flash photography, with the fashion accessory’s fabric effectively blocking out any unwanted pictures, although it doesn’t stop no-flash photographs from being taken.

Saif  scarf3 scarf4scarf1

The 28-year-old Siddiqui was inspired while visiting family in Amsterdam in 2009 when his friends attempted to take a photo of him using an iPhone in front of some bikes.

“He noticed that the bike’s reflector manipulated the flash of his mobile camera in a way that obscured the faces of his friends in the picture,” the ISHU website explains.

He immediately realized that if developed into the right product, this feature would be an ideal solution for his friends and [is] now available to the public who want to keep their private moments in public private.

Saif put together a team of experts who dug into the science of light and reflection, and how to blend technology with fashion.”

He told Decoded Magazine: “The ISHU scarf effectively allows an individual to control what pictures and videos are taken of them. There are no more unwanted pictures and videos on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook! Everyone carries a phone with them nowadays that has an amazing camera. So, it all made sense to me.”

A host of celebrities including Cameron Diaz, singer Joe Jonas, Bayern Munich footballer Jerome Boateng and music producer Major Lazer have worn the ISHU after it was spotted at London Fashion Week last year.

Mothers in Islam

Mothers in Islam

Islam accords the highest respect to women, whether they be wives, daughters, sisters or mothers. However, the highest status and respect is reserved for mothers, who are given a higher status than fathers, as evidenced by the hadith quoted above. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) gave precedence to the kind treatment of mothers. The Quran has also instructed Muslims to love, cherish, respect and honor both parents, but specially mothers. One such example is:

A man came to the Prophet and said, “O messenger of Allah!  Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me?” He replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Then who?” So he replied, “Your mother”. The man asked again, “Then who?”. So the Prophet replied again, “Your mother”. The man then asked, “Then who?”. So he replied, “Then your father” (Sahih Bukhari 5971 and Sahih Muslim 7/2).

Islam recognizes that the hardship borne by the father in raising children is different to the hardship faced by the mother in giving birth and nursing them. This hardship and suffering is unavoidable, irrespective of the wealth or social standing of the woman.

And We have enjoined on man [to be good] to his parents. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him in hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. (The Quran, Chapter 46 Verse 15).

The alleviation of women due to their role as mothers and caregivers is emancipatory for women because it places the responsibility of earning an income upon the father. Muslim households are traditionally patriarchal with the earning role undertaken by men, but women’s roles are not seen as inferior to men’s; rather they are complementary and necessary for the healthy functioning of the family unit and for the society at a macro-level.

Muslim women are therefore largely insulated from the “Superwoman syndrome”, a term coined by sociologist Margorie in 1984 to explain the situation of Western women who constantly strive to fulfill multiple roles of mother, wife, worker, caregiver, volunteer and many others. Such a role results in unreasonable and unsustainable expectation from women to constantly do more and achieve more, undermining the very important function of motherhood and emphasize the worker and earner roles of women. The project of feminism, in its quest to achieve equality for women, failed at providing women equity for the different, but necessary roles they play at home. Women have become over-achievers in their careers and have risen to greater heights academically and professionally; however, this has corresponded directly to the “outsourcing” of the mothering role to childcare centers, grandparents and nannies. This situation also makes women’s caring and mothering roles “invisible” as they are done within homes and do not have a tangible paid-worker status.

While Islam has provided a very feminist framework in which women are valued as mothers, its application in modern society does not necessarily adhere to this principle. Many Muslim women are recognizing that it has been the interpretation of Islam and the Quran, that have traditionally subjugated women and restricted them from education and employment. There is nothing in the Quran or the examples from the Prophet’s life that oppresses women or stops them from being educated, or even being in paid employment. The Prophet’s first wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), was a successful businesswoman and also the first Muslim woman. His later wife, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), was an independent woman, an academic, and the most reliable source of hadees and prophetic traditions.

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Refugees will be given ‘best start possible’ New Zealand PM

The New Zealand Prime Minister John Key unveiled a newly refurbished resettlement center, for refugees and said that” we can give them best start possible” .

The Prime Minister spoke at a reopening ceremony, which has been rebuilt to welcome the refugees to New Zealand.

This is a very important day for refugees who are resettling in New Zealand, This center here speaks to the world that we are ready to do our bit” Mr Key said.

We recognize it is very challenging for people resettling here. It is important we give them the best start possible.

It is important that people get the care, love and support they need. Some come from very war stricken or terrible circumstances and need a lot of support.

There are a great many stories of families coming here and doing well and making a real contribution to New Zealand society. But it is important to resettle refugees around the country.

The new buildings would be able to support a sudden intake at short notice. 

Henna

Henna

With Ramadan almost over, girls everywhere will be planning Eid dresses, jewelry and certainly Henna.

The use of henna is gendered in that it is mostly used by women for body art on festive occasions such as weddings, child birth and in Muslim cultures, on the two ‘Eidain’, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Women, especially post-pubescent women, use it on hands, feet, soles and on nails. As Islam prohibits permanent methods of skin pigmentation such as tattooing, and the use of nail polishes which coat the nails, henna is a religiously acceptable method of pigmentation and beautification. Medicinally, both men and women use it to soothe skin irritation and as hair dye.

There are different types of hennas available and we need to make sure that we have the right one.

Traditional Henna: The henna leaves are crushed and mixed with water and an acidic solution, like lemon juice. It is applied using a fine stick or a pointed, filled cone and left to dry for several hours. The color of the henna varies from light orange to dark brown, and gradually fades over 2-3 weeks, or earlier if washed using bar soap rubbed vigorously in water.

Henna

White Henna is a new fashion which originated in the Middle-East and has now spread to different parts of the world. It is popular as a bridal decoration and for darker-skinned people for whom traditional henna does not have a satisfactory effect. It uses the application method of traditional henna, but applies a medically-safe FDA approved adhesive paste to the skin. Different patterns are employed to create intricate designs. The adhesive paste dries in about 10 minutes and is brushed with glitter or studded with rhinestones to give a silvery-white glowing finish to the skin. The ‘white henna’ technique can also include pastes in different colors, increasing the available range of temporary skin-decoration colors.

WhiteHenna

Black Henna is a risky option not worth taking. This is a chemical concoction which is being commercially marketed as henna because it produces pigmentation faster than pure henna. Its color on the skin is darker, but because of its toxicity, it is dangerous to use. It frequently causes allergic reaction and burns the skin. It is recommended that you do not buy black henna. The safest method is to mix henna from scratch or use traditional henna sold in cones from reputable retailers.

Black Reaction

 

 

Surah Al- Qadr

Surah Al- Qadr

 

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) advised his followers to seek the night of power or decree, in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan (i.e. the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th). As Allah has concealed exactly when this night is, Muslims who do not want to miss this night need to supplicate Allah more, make dua to him for their life and after-life, for their provisions, for their health, welfare, children and so on, and exert themselves more during the last ten nights of Ramadan, in the manner of our beloved prophet (peace be upon him).

This Surah is the 97th Surah of the holy Quran.

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Innaa anzalnaahu fee lailatil qadr

Wa maa adraaka ma lailatul qadr

Lailatul qadri khairum min alfee shahr

Tanaz zalul malaa-ikatu war roohu feeha bi izni-rab bihim min kulli amr

Salaamun hiya hattaa mat la’il fajr

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ

لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ

سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ

Its meaning is:

  1. Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the night ofAl-Qadr (Decree)
  2. And what will make you know what the night ofAl-Qadr (Decree) is?
  3. The night ofAl-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months
  4. Therein descend the angels and theRuh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees,
  5. Peace! (All that night, there is Peace and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn

Allah tells us in this beautiful Surah that the night of ‘Qadr’ is better in its merits than a thousand months. This means that it is the best night of the whole year in which to worship Allah and seek his pleasure, mercy and forgiveness. If a person prays sincerely in this night and seeks forgiveness, all past sins will be forgiven. As a thousand months are equal to approximately 83 years, one can assume that this one night is better than the entire lifespan of an average person, so it is indeed an opportunity of a lifetime!

It is the night in which Allah sent down the Quran (from the lawhal mahfooth or the preserved book) to the lower heaven. It is also the night in which Allah tells the angels what is going to happen in the world and to all the humans, in the coming year.

Hijab- More Than Just Dress

Hijab- More Than Just Dress

Many people mistakenly believe that Muslim women are supposed to cover their entire bodies and adopt modesty whereas men can do what they please and the rules of dress and behavior do not apply to them. This is not the case, as the Quran explicitly orders both men and women to adopt correct dress and behavior. In the Quran, Allah tells men to adopt hijab before the women:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad); that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (The Quran, Chapter 33 Verse 59)

Muslim women wear the ‘hijab’ or head-cover because they have been told to do so in the Quran. It is a symbol of their faith and integrity, and not a sign of male oppression. In fact, it can be argued (and many feminist writers will agree) that it is the Western/non-Muslim need for women to maintain their beauty and youth gives rise to the sexist objectification of women, oppressing them and limiting their potential as women.

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. (The Quran Chapter 24 Verse 30).

And in the following verse:

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons…(The Quran Chapter 24 Verse31).

The extent of the body that needs to be covered for men and women is obviously different. For men, the minimum requirement is to be covered from navel to knees. For women, the covered area should be the entire body except for the face, hands and feet, except in the presence of their husband or males they cannot be married to (for example, their son, nephew, brother, father, father-in-law and uncle).

Apart from the above, the clothes of both men and women should follow these guidelines:

They should be loose and not reveal the figure

They should not be transparent

Clothes should not be such that they attract the opposite sex

Clothes should not resemble that of the opposite sex and

They should not resemble the clothes that are symbolic of another religion

Hijab, contrary to popular belief, is not restricted to dress. In fact, the word ‘hijab’ denotes a barrier or partition. This means that through the correct dress, behavior, language, values, integrity, truthfulness and attitude, both men and women are able to shield themselves from the wrath of Allah and expect mercy from Him on the day of judgment. Therefore hijab needs to be observed with regard to the eyes, tongue, mind and limbs- creating a framework within which the whole person lives his or her life in a manner that pleases Allah.

 

Narrative of a Hijabi Researcher

At the beginning of this research I felt somewhat like an imposter, someone who had gained access to valuable information posing as a person I was not. This was because although I identified as a Muslim woman, I was not a practicing Muslim except on special or festive occasions. When I interviewed participants, I wore the hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women throughout the world because I believed it to be appropriate given that I was interviewing Muslim women who expected to meet a Muslim researcher. As I began interviewing, I started reading literature from both commentaries on the Quran and from the Quran itself, supporting the adoption of the hijab for women. By wearing hijab I also began to experience firsthand the freedom from fashion and from having to maintain a certain (Western) image that I was used to. Like many Muslims who refer to themselves as “moderate Muslims”, I tried to achieve a balance between Muslim and Western practices. I had held some deep-seated stereotypical beliefs about Muslim women who wore the hijab or jilbab (long outer garment that covers the entire body); I had subconsciously decided that such women led subjugated lives, hidden from public view and who would not really have anything to do with sport or exercise.  This opinion was of course a stereotypical one, a product of the hegemonic power of Western mass media, one which is only occasionally challenged, or at least occasionally reportedly challenged in the public sphere. As the interviews progressed I realized how unsubjugated and unoppressed by men the women I talked to, were. Many had made a conscious decision to wear hijab after a significant event in their lives (such as making Hajj), or after coming across the Quranic verses which instruct women to do so. Most of the women were active within their local Muslim communities. They had adopted the hijab as a means of maintaining their presence as Muslim women, but taking away that aspect of themselves from public view which they believed would objectify them or put them on display in public, which is forbidden in Islam.

Zakah

Zakah

Zakah is an Arabic word which in the general sense means both growth and purification. In the Islamic sense, it means obligatory alms-giving to the less fortunate which is the third of the five pillars of Islam.

It is obligatory for Muslims to pay 2.5% of their wealth which is in excess of their needs and which they have held for over one year. Immediate family has the right to receive Zakah first if they are in need : then the extended family, neighbors and community can be the recipients depending on needs. The right way of Zakah entails not making a show of it and doing it without publicity the intention being to please Allah and not to be recognized as a giver of Zakah.

Zakah is calculated based on the worth of land, gold, silver, properties, animals, jewelry and cash. The amount of money or goods a person can possess without paying Zakah is called ‘nisaab’(a kind of threshold amount). For example, the ‘nisaab’ for gold is 85 grams and for silver is 595 grams. Only people who possess more than this amount of gold or silver need to pay Zakah on these.

Zakah is an equitable means of wealth-distribution from the wealthy to the poor, and it is mandated by Islam in several places in the Quran. For example:

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it [by the state to collect, guard and distribute the Zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the stranded traveler- an obligation [ imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. ( Chapter 9 Verse 60).

It is evident that the collection and distribution of Zakah allows a society to provide a welfare system for the poor and needy. It allows the rich to donate part of their wealth and ‘purify’ it; as resources can be organized into a collective pool, it is not necessary for the poor, needy, enslaved, or those burdened by debt, to personally approach the wealthy for alleviating their situation. In fact, prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) instructed his followers frequently to give Zakah, and reported, “Allah said, ‘O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you’”. This means that if we want Allah to have mercy on us and expect to be protected from his wrath on the day of judgment, we must spend in a way that pleases Him. From a social and global perspective, the giving of Zakah may be the much-needed solution to the widespread problem of hunger, disease, poverty and starvation. Millions of people die of hunger and disease every year, whereas there are those who are extremely rich, living opulent and luxurious lives.

However, for those who sincerely want to give their Zakah and do their religious and social duty, there are issues that are raised frequently, such as:

  • What day of  the year should Zakah be calculated as wealth and the value of possessions changes, sometimes daily (i.e. price of gold and silver)?
  • How much Zakah is due on agricultural products and is it due based on their actual price or price projected on harvest? The ‘nisaab’ on produce is usually  651.4 kilograms, over which Zakah becomes due, at the rate of 1/10 of crop naturally watered by rain or rivers and 1/20 of crop watered by animals or other means.
  • What amount of Zakah is payable for investment property which is rented out? Some scholars say it is payable on the rent and some maintain it is due on the profit when the property is sold.
  • Some people have asked if Zakah is paid annuaaly at the rate of 2.5% then in 40 years (i.e. 2.5 X 40= 100), will their wealth become nil. Such a scenario is not possible because a) Zakah is not payable when wealth reaches the ‘nisaab’ level and b) it is being assumed that there will be no increase in wealth over time.

Contrary to popular belief, Zakah can be paid to Muslims and non-Muslims, family members and others,  and one person can choose to help several different people of charities depending on their need. It is therefore mandatory to use Zakah to improve the social and economic  situation of one’s extended family and local community, and to contribute to solving regional and global poverty.