Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Responsibility not Superiority
Al-Nisa (The Women) Chapter 4: Verse 34 (partial)
"Men shall take care of women with what God has bestowed on the former ..."
This verse does not state a "superiority" of man over woman; rather it explains the "responsibility" of a man for sustaining the family. Since the woman is physically restricted from earning a living during the late stage of her pregnancy and the first year - or more- of her child's life, it is essential to show who is responsible for supporting the wife, mother and the children. This is the "care" that is mentioned in the above verse of the Quran. In Arabic, the verb (qama) with the preposition (‘ala) means to "take care of".
But, this responsibility of taking a care of "qawama," is within the family as the Qur'anic verse shows clearly, and cannot be extended to be a general rule in the whole society. Besides, the man's obligation to support the family does not contradict or restrict the woman's right to work if she likes to do so, and a coordinated timetable for both spouses can be reached after a constructive discussion that ends in mutual consent. When a man does not work and cannot secure for himself and his family a decent living for any reason, he cannot assume "qawama" just because he is related to the gender of men. However, his wife who works and earns money and secures for the whole family its needs should treat the non-workingman respectfully. Each believer - male or female - has to observe the divine teachings in mutual relations, whether one may be more or less powerful. This is the main difference between a God-conscious society and a jungle of selfish materialist.
A view that makes a man superior to a woman because he is physically 'stronger' lacks the support of the Quran and authentic Sunna. The divine sources mention "care" and "responsibility" within the family, but not superiority. Muslim men and women are equal in their individual and social responsibilities. They have to support each other in maintaining human rights and attaining moral and material development of each and of the whole society, being in charge (protectors) of one another and of the whole society "awaliya", and enjoining the doing of what is right and forbidding the doing of what is wrong.
Compiled From:
"Muslim Women - The Family and the Society" - Fathi Osman, pp. 27, 28

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Standing Up
"Every one of you should desist from walking with every traveler. He should not say that he is with the people, and that if people would do good deed, he would also do the good deeds; and that if they would do wicked deeds then he would cooperate with them. You should prepare yourself to cooperate with them if they do righteous deeds and to keep away if they do wicked deeds." (Tirmidhi)
When faith finds a place in a man's heart and takes deep roots in it, it fills a man's heart and mind with such power and strength that cover and influence all his dealings. Accordingly, when he opens his mouth, he talks with confidence and certainty. When he undertakes a work, he attends to it with full interest and sincerity. When he starts on a journey, his destination is before his eyes. If he enjoys the wealth of the correct and firm thinking, the world of the heart too is inhabited by the enthusiasm and restless courage. Hesitation and ambivalence do not find a place in his heart, and high-velocity winds do not move him from his path or make him deviate from his objective.
However, one who is weak, the current customs and habits make one their slave. On such a man's conduct rule the things which are current in the society. If these customs and practices are wrong and destructive, then he carries the burden of the troubles of this world as well as of the next.
Among the people, various kinds of innovations have become customary on the occasions of celebrations and mourning. They pay more attention to performing these innovative acts than on the realities of the religion.
But a straight-going believer does not take any interest in these things, for which there is no supportive proof in religion. He is confronted with opposition and experiences difficulties in opposing the popular and customary rituals, but it is obvious that he need not care for any condemnation from anybody in the affairs of Allah. He has to achieve his ideal. No weapon of criticism and fault-finding and no injuries from tongue can obstruct his way.
Compiled From:
"Muslim's Character" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali

Blindspot!
Reform
Having prescribed punishments and imposed strict and meticulous, though not impossible, conditions of evidence, Islam has built in a whole range of principles and precepts which reflect not a frenzied desire to flog and stone but a compassionate urge to avoid and eschew. Islam does not allow either the state or individuals to spy upon people unless well-founded suspicion exists that a crime is being committed or a fellow human being's rights or interests are in jeopardy. Nor is it obligatory to report every crime. Where possible, settlements outside court are preferred. The punishment is swiftly over; the guilty man and his family do not have to live with the kind of lengthy public stigma that they would have had to endure in the case of a prison sentence at the end of a trial. The imposition of divinely prescribed hudud enhance, and do not diminish, the individual’s dignity and stature in society and before God.
As to the alleged cruelty of physical penalties, one wonders if to deprive a man of his freedom - his most precious and valuable possession - and his right to act and continue to make moral choices, to live with his family, to work and support them is not more cruel. Indeed, a prison term can inflict untold misery on innocent people whose lives are intertwined with the life of the prisoner. Prison becomes a school for hardening criminal behavior and a breeding ground for recidivism. Why should it be considered more cruel for a man found drug trafficking to be given ten lashes than to be sent to languish in prison for, say, ten years.
Why does Islam want to punish and not reform? The question is fallacious, for in Islam every institution of society is value oriented and owes a responsibility towards the moral development of every person from the cradle to the grave. Reform is therefore a pre-crime responsibility and not a post-crime syndrome and nightmare. Islam makes every effort to ensure that inducement to commit crime is minimal. Once the crime is committed, the best place for reform is in the family and in society, where a criminal is to live after punishment, and not in a prison where every inmate is a criminal; unless of course a society considers itself to be more corrupt and less competent to effect reform than a jail! Against this, the ‘modern, enlightened’ approach is to provide every inducement to crime by building a society based on conspicuous consumption; to make society, education and every other institution ‘value – free’ and then to try to reform a criminal by segregating him and keeping him in a prison.
Compiled From:
"Shariah - The Way to Justice" - Khurram Murad

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trip to Malaysia part 14

After the bathroom fiasco it was our last stay in the hotel and before we left we got a special guest; a doctor friend who is married to a Russian convert and their little baby. It was nice to chat for awhile and take pictures. I gave her some Islamic magazines in English as a gift. Next we were suddenly brought to a wedding! I had no idea that would happen but apparently our last day in KL coincided with my sister-in-law's husband's relatives wedding. I felt under dressed! Nevertheless we were on our way. The wedding was outside and it was nice to see the couple promenade before everyone and my daughter loved the drum playing. Unfortunately though it started to rain! Just before that the adhan sounded and I was wondering why the wedding wasn't held before or after the prayers. (that was the first time I had attended a wedding in Malaysia).  After this we went to the airport to wait for our flight back to KB and there I met an old friend at McDonald's and we had a quick visit. We could have visited longer if we had known our flight would be late. Air Asia is not always prompt apparently. But they are cheaper. We found Dunkin' Donuts here and had a little treat.

The next two days we went shopping at the KB mall and stocked up on clothes as we knew we wouldn't be back for a long time. After that we took a final visit to my in-law who is my husband's maternal uncle's wife. We bonded quite well when I came to live there in 2000 and it was sad to see that she had become blind due to cataracts. It was nice though that her daughter was taking care of her at home.  After going to the Blind Quran Institute and seeing my in-law blind it gave me a lot to think about and of which to be grateful. Alhumdullilah. May Allah help all those who are handicapped. Amin.

Our final day was spent collecting some stuff we had left behind from 2000 that we had shipped there. Sadly many of my books were eaten by cockroaches. Who knew cockroaches ate books? Not me! But amazingly they had not eaten any of my Islamic books! What a sight to behold! A true miracle right before my eyes! Alhumdullilah.

Friday, April 4, 2014

My trip to Malaysia part 13

After going to the Braille Quran Institute we headed to the Central Market in KL. This was chosen by my husband who likes to stock up on t-shirt souvenirs there. I found the place to be interesting but really overpriced. I saw a lot of those fishermen pants that all the tourists were wearing and it was funny because locals don't actually wear them. As I was walking along female merchants kept calling out to me "Madame,madame" which became annoying after awhile. I did get into a conversation with one though that led to me sharing my conversion story. This happened to me too before in KB with a Chinese male merchant and I still remember him asking me "Did your parents scold you?". Yeah pretty much but I remember thinking scold is such an old-fashioned, unused word in Canada and its funny how the same language is used differently in different countries but I know that's because the British of course brought the language to Malaysia and they don't seem very influenced by American/Canadian tv and movies.


After this shopping adventure where I saw things I liked but didn't buy; a dress and a learn Malay cd we went on to Sogo Mall to eat at Nandos. This was my first time ever to eat at Nandos (chosen by my in-laws) even though it exists in Canada but 3 hours north of me. We had fun there and I really liked the dessert but one thing was wrong. The mall bathrooms. Ok you can't talk about Malaysia without mentioning it. When we went to the bathrooms there was a lady sitting outside at a table asking for money. I was not impressed but fine,
we paid. When we got in we found a bathroom with NO amenities. I saw other bathrooms that were missing things but this bathroom had nothing. We had to use the bathroom again unfortunately and this time I got upset when she asked me for money. This is not my usual demeanour at all but I had had it. I asked her why do we have to pay when we are getting nothing in return (and why the heck isn't the mall rich enough to cover their costs). So the woman timidly offered me some toilet paper. What? now? so here is a little piece of advice and this is a secret all Malays know; always carry your own kleenex. Why because often there will be none in the bathroom for any use not even to dry your hands and no hand dryer either as an option. I can't say I didn't appreciate the water hoses in the bathroom for istinjah but the water all over the floor is so annoying and was my number one reason at the end of the trip for feeling homesick.

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
True Believer
Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War) Chapter 8: Verses 2-4 (partial)
"Only those are [true] believers who, whenever God is mentioned, their hearts quiver, and when His signs are recited to them, they increase them in belief, and upon their Lord they place reliance, those who attend divine service steadfastly, and expend [in alms] of what We have bestowed upon them. These are the believers in the true sense."
Iman, 'belief' or 'faith', is the very centre of the sphere of positive moral properties. 'Belief' is the real fountainhead of all Islamic virtues; it creates them all, and no virtue is thinkable in Islam, which is not based on the sincere faith in God and His revelations.
In the above passage, 'belief' is considered exclusively in its religious aspects. This passage furnishes an almost perfect verbal definition of the 'true believer'. This verbal definition pictures 'the believer in the true sense of the word' as a genuinely pious man, in whose heart the very mention of God's name is enough to arouse an intense sense of awe, and whose whole life is determined by the basic mood of deep earnestness.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, pp. 184, 185

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Blessings in Food
The two Shaykhs have narrated from Ibn Abbas who said, "God's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, 'When one of you eats, let him not wipe his fingers until he has licked them or had them licked.'" Muslim narrated from Kab ibn Malik who said, "I saw God's Messenger eating with three fingers, and then he finished off licking them". He has also narrated from Jabir that God's Messenger commanded licking the fingers and the bowl, he said: "Surely you do not know in which part of your food the blessing is".
One who looks at on the wording of these hadiths will not understand other than that eating with three fingers, and licking them after eating, and licking the bowl or cleaning it out or wiping it, is the sunnah of the Prophet. So he may, at times, look with disgust at someone eating with a spoon because, in his opinion, that person is opposing the sunnah, behaving as unbelievers do! The reality is that the spirit of the sunnah that should be taken from these hadiths is his modesty, his acceptance of God's blessing in the food, and the anxious wish that he should not leave from that blessing anything to be wasted without benefit, such as the remnant of food left in the bowl, or the morsel that falls from some people and they are too proud to pick it up, showing themselves as being in affluence and plenty, and distancing themselves from looking like the poor and indigent, who strive for the smallest thing, even if it be a crumb of bread.
If the Muslims would act upon it, we would not see the waste that is met with every day – rather, at every meal – in every wastebasket and rubbish bin. If the Muslim community calculated the level of this waste, its economic value every day would amount to millions or tens of millions. Then how much would it be by month or in a whole year? This is the inner spirit behind these hadiths.
Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 142, 143

Blindspot!
Invitation
Invitation is not only a step in bringing people together, it is also a fundamental way of being in community. It manifests the willingness to live in a collaborative way. This means that a future can be created without having to force it or sell it or barter for it. When we believe that barter or subtle coercion is necessary, we are operating out of a context of scarcity and self-interest, the core currencies of the economist. Barter or coercion seems necessary when we have little faith in citizens' desire and capacity to operate out of idealism.
A commitment to invitation as a core strategy is betting on a world not dependent on barter and incentives. It is a choice for idealism and determines the context within which people show up. For all the agony of a volunteer effort, you are rewarded by being in the room with people who are up to something larger than their immediate self-interest. You are constantly in the room with people who want to be there, even if their numbers are few. The concern we have about the turnout is simply an expression of our own doubts about the possibility that given a free choice, people will choose to create a future distinct from the past.
Invitation is a language act. "I invite you." Period. This is a powerful conversation because at the moment of inviting, hospitality is created in the world.
Compiled From:
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, pp. 117, 118

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sick of winter, Veilkini on my mind!

If you live in Canada you will know how long and horrible this winter has been. Toronto even had an ice storm. Its spring now but it sure doesn't feel like it; it keeps snowing and there are hardly any days over 0 degrees. So all winter long all I could think about was swimming but alas the last time I did was in October in a hotel pool while I went to the BeingMe conference in Toronto. Why? Because sadly my bathing suit and my daughter's got some kind of grease on it when I was in Malaysia (boat engine oil?) from a dock I swam out to and held onto. So now with spring here and summer approaching its time to order new bathing suits. My suit of choice is Alsharifa Veilkini as you can see from my review here. Won't you join me in getting a new bathing suit? They even have little girls bathing suits now and they are hot pink! My youngest who is almost 5 fell in love with it the minute she saw it. You might want to get that too..just sayin'.

Speaking of Malaysia and oil,on my mind always also is the flight MH370 which most likely crashed,we are still waiting for real proof. Seeing is believing. Its sad all around especially how they have slandered the pilots. My prayers go out to all who have been affected by this tragic news. May Allah give everyone comfort and closure. Amin.

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Humble Origin
Al-Muminun (The Believers) Chapter 23: Verse 12
"Now, indeed, We created man out of the essence of clay."
The frequent Quranic reference to man being 'created out of clay' or 'out of dust' or 'out of the essence of clay', point to the fact that man's body is composed of various organic and inorganic substances existing on or in the earth. There is also a continuous transmutation of these substances, through the intake of earth-grown food into reproductive cells. Allah stresses man's humble origin and the debt of gratitude which he owes to Him.
What should be noted is that the Quran is not a book of science which mentions the process of creation scientifically and then leaves it. The process of humans coming into being clearly points to the creative activity of Allah, hence to His existence. The lack of gratitude on the part of human beings is according to the Quran, 'giving the lie to the Truth.' The purpose of providing this information is to use this as evidence and further proof of Resurrection Day. The main concern of the Quran is to improve the lifestyle of an individual through firm belief in the attributes of Allah and the Day of Resurrection.
Compiled From:
"Words That Moved the World" - Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, pp.121, 122

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Controlling Tongue
We should be careful how we use our tongue for its misuse is the fastest way to hellfire. Lying, slandering, backbiting and obscenity should never be part of our speech. We should be exceedingly careful with what we say about others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
None of my Companions should tell me anything about anyone, for I like to meet [any one] of you with a clean heart. [Abu Dawud]
Janna has been promised for those who are careful with their speech. The Prophet said:
Whoever can promise me that he will be virtuous with what is between his lips, and what is between his thighs; I promise that he will go to the Garden. [Muslim]
The key to control of the tongue is to infuse our conversations with remembrance of Allah. The Prophet said in this regard:
Do not talk for long without remembering Allah, for talking much without remembering Allah is hardness of the heart. The most distant among man from Allah is one with a hardened heart. [Tirmidhi]
Compiled From:
"In The Early Hours" - Khurram Murad, p. 80

Blindspot!
Empowering Belief
There are many reasons women have difficulty standing up for themselves. They often find it hard to say 'no' because they feel selfish if they refuse to help someone - even when their own needs are more important at the moment. In addition, they are often afraid people will dislike them if they aren't cooperative. Women often have a fear that if they stand up for themselves, they will be seen as overbearing, domineering, or bitchy.
It takes a lot of courage and self-respect to act on your own behalf. It takes a strong belief that you deserve something better. Unfortunately, many women don't have this kind of self-respect and don't believe they deserve to be treated better. Many are afraid to hope for better treatment because they have yet to receive it. To be able to stand up for yourself, you need to give up waiting for someone else to come to rescue you and your belief that you have no power to change your circumstances. You will need to reach out - ever so tenuously - toward accepting that you have more power to change your circumstances than you think you do. Fortunately, when women focus their considerable strength and will to change something, they are often surprised at how much power they actually have.
You have the right to live your life the way you choose, as long as you are not stepping on someone else's rights. But rights don't mean much if you don't have the courage to claim them. Unfortunately, many women have had their courage stripped away by societal expectations and messages and domineering parents, or from having been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused in childhood or adulthood.
Compiled From:
"The Nice Girl Syndrome" - Beverly Engel, pp. 137, 138

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Deification
Al-Ankabut (The Spider) Chapter 29: Verse 17 (partial)
"You worship only idols instead of God, and thus you invent a mere falsehood. Surely those that you worship instead of God do not have power to provide for you ..."
The pronoun used in the verse and translated as those is the pronoun used for living beings. So this shows that, as in all the polytheistic societies, the idols or statues usually represented some beings whom people respected and then exalted and deified, such as angels, the jinns, Prophets, heroes, or statesmen. The Prophet Abraham (upon him be peace) meant both those beings represented by idols and the idols themselves. Later generations began to forget the beings whose statues were made for deification, and rather came to deify and worship the statues themselves. However, besides some beings, people would personify many powers or things, such as spirits and "forces of nature," and attribute God's power or acts to many false deities or adopt many deities, to each of which they would assign a Divine act or power. We should note that paganism or idolworship has not ceased. It continues in many explicit or implicit forms.
Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 823, 824

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Anyone, be it the individual or the state, accusing a person of an offence must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff, a principle which is based on the following hadith:
The burden of proof is on him who makes the claim, whereas the oath [denying the charge] is on him who denies. [Bayhaqi]
The plaintiff, in other words, may ask the court to put the defendant on oath if the latter denies the claim. If the claimant is required to prove his allegation, then it would follow that until such proof is forthcoming, the defendant is presumed to be innocent. This is also upheld in another hadith which provides:
If men were to be granted what they claim, some will claim the lives and properties of others. The burden of proof is on the claimant, and an oath is incumbent on him who denies. [Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 182

Blindspot!
Intimacy and Commitment
With roughly 7 trillion cells working in concert, your body is an extraordinary thing that should be respected, not a merry-go-round on which everyone gets a ride. It doesn't make sense to share the most intimate parts of yourselves until you are fully committed to each other. Intimacy without commitment is like getting something for nothing; it goes against a basic principle. What is a committed relationship? A marriage is the best form I know. With a marriage, you get a legal document, a public celebration, a ring, a recognized union, and a deep promise to love each other through health and sickness.
What about a high school relationship where you're truly in love? Does that count as committed? Not really. There is no legal agreement, no celebration over your union, no shared rent payment. You aren't doing the dishes, cleaning the laundry, or paying the bills together. You break up, move, go to college, start liking someone else, and so on.
Everyone disagrees with what the terms hooking up or friends with benefits really mean, but basically they are nothing more than no-strings-attached s e x ual encounters of some type. In reality, it's just a way to use each other's bodies for pleasures without any expections or commitment - fast, easy and unfulfilling.
Compiled From:
"The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make" - Sean Covey, p. 210

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Complete Submission
Al-Anam (The Cattle) Chapter 6: Verses 71, 72 (partial)
"Say: In truth, God's Guidance is the only Guidance. We are commanded to surrender ourselves to the Lord of all the worlds, and to attend regularly to our prayers and to fear Him."
The instructions to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are such that he has to declare in absolute clarity that God's guidance is the only guidance. As such, we are commanded to submit to the Lord of all the universe, because to Him alone all the worlds submit. Why should man be the only exception out of all creation when everything in the universe submits to God's absolute Lordship? The reference made here to the fact that God is 'the Lord of all the worlds' comes at the right time. It emphasizes an undeniable fact that all the worlds, whether known or unknown to us, submit to the laws God has set in operation and cannot break away from them. Biologically, man is also subject to the laws of nature. What he needs to do, then, is to submit also in the area in which he has been given a choice: to follow guidance or to sink in error. When man chooses to submit to God, in the same way as he does biologically, all his affairs will be set aright, because harmony will be established between his constitution and his action, between his body and his soul, between his present life and his life to come.
The most essential thing, then, is complete submission to God and the acknowledgement of His Lordship over the universe. The offering of worship and the moulding of conscious attitudes follow from this, because these cannot be done properly unless they are based on the solid foundation of man's submission to God.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 5, pp. 207, 208

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Difficult Patience
The degree of difficulty in abstaining from some things depends on the strength of one's motive and one's ability to do the action in question. Whoever has no motive to kill, or steal, or drink alcohol, or whatever, and at the same time is not able to do it, will find it very easy to exercise patience in abstaining from those things. Whoever has a strong motive to commit a wrong action and has the means to do so, will face great difficulty in exercising enough patience to abstain. Therefore, it is very difficult for a ruler to refrain from committing injustice and oppression, and it is difficult for a young man to refrain from fornication, and it is difficult for a rich man to refrain from pursuing physical desires and pleasures.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: "Allah will commend a young man who never behaved in an ignorant way." [Ahmad] In another hadith, he referred to those who will be shaded in the shade of Allah's throne for their perfect patience - such as the patience of an absolute ruler in being just in all situations, regardless of his own feelings, and the patience of a young man in worshipping and obeying Allah and suppressing his own whims and desires, and the patience of the man who stayed in the mosque, and the patience of the man who gives sadaqah in keeping his sadaqah secret, and the patience of a man who resists the temptation of a woman of beauty and high status, and the patience of two men who meet for the sake of Allah and part for the sake of Allah, in keeping their relationship for the sake of Allah, and the patience of one who weeps out of fear of Allah, in keeping that secret and not telling others about it. All of these are among the most difficult types of patience. Therefore, the punishment of an old man who commits adultery, a king who tells a lie and a poor man who is arrogant is more severe, because it is easy for them to keep away from such wrong actions, and does not require much in the way of patience. Their attitude indicates that they are wilfully rebelling against Allah.
Compiled From:
"Patience and Gratitude" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, pp. 37, 38
Blindspot!
Representations
We have to get used to the idea that values and laws do not protect us from anything unless we make the effort to educate ourselves, critically evaluate the information we are given, and learn to understand representations. The means of mass persuasion are so powerful that anything is possible: even the most educated people and the masses are increasingly vulnerable and are potential objects of the most hateful populist campaigns and media manipulations. Sixty years after the ratification of the Declaration of Human Rights, nothing can be taken for granted, and everything is possible. As former Prime Minister Tony Blair once said, 'The rules of the game have changed.' That was understatement. Surveillance, the loss of the right to privacy, summary extraditions, 'civilized' torture camps all over the world, places where the writ of law does not run. The normalization of violence appears to have desensitized us, and we are more and more indifferent to the inhuman treatment we see all around us. It is true that we have often lost the ability to marvel at the simple things in life, as a result of either pessimism or lassitude, but we can only conclude that we have also - and to a dangerous extent - lost our capacity for outrage and revolt. Our representations are becoming standardized just as our intellect and sensibilities are declining. Our fine laws may still delude us, but they will do nothing to protect us or to promote respect for human dignity unless our conscience imbues them with substance, meaning and humanity.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 172

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Mercy of Passions
An-Naml (The Ant) Chapter 27: Verses 54, 55
"And [remember] Lot, when he said to his people, 'How dare you commit such abomination while you can see? Do you indeed approach men with lustful desires instead of women? Nay, you are a people whose conduct shows every sign of jahl (tajhaluna)."
In this passage we see that the people of Lot, that is, the people of Sodom described as behaving in a characteristically jahil way, 'approaching' as they do 'men lustfully rather than women', which is an 'abominable sin' fahishah. Jahil is a man who goes to any extremes at the mercy of his own passions, and that not ignorantly, 'while you can see,' i.e. being fully aware that by acting in this way he is committing an abominable sin. This shows clearly that jahil has essentially nothing to do with 'ignorance' though it implies the act of ignoring wilfully the moral rule.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 32

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Evil Thoughts
"Verily, Allah has overlooked for my nation what their souls think about as long as they do not act on it or speak about it." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Although, one is not held responsible for the above types of thoughts, if evil thoughts do come to one's mind, the person should seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. Those evil thoughts should then be repelled. However, there are times in which the person's faith might be weak and he allows those thoughts to grow. Hence, he should immediately seek refuge in Allah from those evil thoughts in order not to allow them to blossom into anything more harmful.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) also said, "Satan comes to one of you and he says, 'Who created this and who created that?' until he says, 'Who created your Lord?' If he reaches that stage with a person, he [that person] should seek refuge in Allah and stop such thoughts." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 1356, 1357

Blindspot!
Mission
We are probably deluged with more images of pain than any previous generation; they are beamed into our homes nightly on the evening news. It is easy to get compassion fatigue and tempting to dismiss these spectacles from our minds, telling ourselves that there is nothing we personally can do and that this misery has nothing to do with us.
Instead of steeling ourselves against the intrusion of other people's pain, we should regard our exposure to global suffering as a spiritual opportunity. Make a conscious effort to allow these television images to enter your consciousness and take up residence there. Extend your hospitality to them, and "make place for the other" in your life. It is a powerful way of developing "concern for everybody." If a particular image speaks to you strongly, focus on it; there may be a special reason for this. Bring this image deliberately to mind at various times in the day. Summon it when you are feeling sorry for yourself - or during a moment of happiness, when you are filled with gratitude for your good fortune. Make a friend of the distressed person, so that she becomes a presence in your life: direct your thoughts of loving kindness and compassion to her during your meditation.
But it cannot stop there. We must act practically to alleviate the pain of others. We cannot allow ourselves to feel paralyzed by the immensity of global misery. We cannot all rush off to foreign parts. Indeed, there is no need to do so: we will find plenty of opportunities on our own doorstep. Suffering is not confined to distant parts of the globe. Because we have a self-protective tendency to keep suffering at bay, we sometimes fail to recognize the signs of poverty, loneliness, grief, fear, and desolation in our own city, our own village, or our own family. So look at your world anew and choose your mission. There is a need that you - and only you - can fulfill. Do not imagine that you are doomed to a life of grim austerity or that your involvement in suffering will drain your life of fun. In fact, you may find that alleviating the distress of others makes you a good deal happier.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 167-169

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Close Link
Al-Anam (Cattle) Chapter 6: Verse 92 (partial)
"Those who believe in the life to come do believe in it, and they are ever-mindful of their prayers."
It is true that those who believe in the life to come, when people will have to account for their deeds and be rewarded or punished for them, also believe that God will no doubt send to mankind a messenger to convey to them His revelations. They have no problem in believing in this messenger. Indeed, they are inclined to believe in him.
Because they believe in the life to come and in the Quran, they are always mindful of their prayer, so that they continue to maintain a close link with God and continue to demonstrate their obedience to Him. This is, then, all a part of human nature. When we believe in the Hereafter, we accept that this Book, the Quran, is revealed by God and we are keen to obey Him in order to enhance our closeness with Him. We need only to look at different types of human beings to be sure that all this is absolutely true.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 5, p. 237

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Political Freedom
It is the duty of the Islamic Movement to stand firm against totalitarian and dictatorial rule, political despotism and usurpation of people's right. The Movement should always stand by political freedom, as represented by a true, not false, democracy. It should clearly declare its refusal of tyrants and steer clear of all dictators, even if some tyrants appear to have good intentions towards the Movement in order to obtain some gains and only for a time that is usually short, as has been shown by experience.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in a hadith: "When you see my Ummah fall victim to fear and does not say to a wrongdoer: 'You are wrongdoer', then you may lose hope in them." So how about a regime that forces people to say to a conceited wrongdoer: "How just, how great you are; O Our hero, our saviour and liberator!"
A close look at the history of the Muslim Ummah and the Islamic Movement in modern times should show clearly that the Islamic Ideology, the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening have never flourished or borne fruit unless in an atmosphere of democracy and freedom, and have withered and become barren only at the times of oppression and tyranny that trod over the will of the people which clung to Islam. Such oppressive regimes imposed their Secularism, Socialism or Communism on their people by force and coercion, using covert torture and public executions, and employing those devilish tools that tore flesh, shed blood, crushed bones and destroyed souls.
On the other hand, we saw the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening bear fruit and flourish at the times of freedom and democracy, and in the wake of the collapse of imperial regimes that ruled people with fear and oppression. Therefore, the Islamic Movement cannot support anything other than political freedom and democracy. The tyrants allowed every voice to be raised, except the voice of Islam; and let every trend express itself in the form of a political party or a body of some sort, except the Islamic current which is the only trend that actually speaks for this Ummah and expresses its creed, values, essence and its very existence.
Compiled From:
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 186, 187

Blindspot!
Conscience and Consistency
Defending one's principles, exercising a duty of conscience or consistency, and asserting one's independence in the face of all blind loyalties (be they ideological, religious or nationalist) certainly demands an ethics, but it also takes willpower and courage. We have to face the criticisms from within, from men and women who regard this attitude as an act of desertion or betrayal that plays into the hands of the 'other' or the 'enemy'.
In the new fictitious relationships between 'civilizations' that are 'clashing', emotions run high and blindness runs deep: Jews who denounce Israeli policies or the silence of their co-religionists, Muslims who denounce the attitudes of countries with a Muslim majority or the behaviour of certain extremists and the Americans and Europeans who denounce the inconsistencies and lies of Western politicians are seen as men and women who, respectively, nurture self-hatred, act against the interests of the umma or have a guilt complex and outdated 'leftist' ideals that lead them to declare their guilt endlessly, and dangerously. The virulence of rejection from within, by one's own community of affiliation, is proportional to its lack of self-confidence and sense of insecurity: a critical attitude is seen as a betrayal from within, and as marking the emergence of a 'fifth column' that is working and plotting on behalf of the 'enemy'. When we are faced with this fear and hyper-emotionalism, it is difficult to argue rationally that this independence is based on a rational ethics, and that it is not a matter of 'playing into the other's hands', but of 'being reconciled with oneself' and one's ideals. It is a matter of conscience and dignity.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 107

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Man Wrongs Himself
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 231 (partial)
"Whoso does that [i.e transgresses the limits set by God] has wronged his soul [or himself] (zalama nafsahu)"
The world Zalim is generally translated in English as 'wrong-doer' or 'evil-doer', and the corresponding nominal form zulm variously as 'wrong', 'evil', 'injustice', and 'tyranny'. The root plays an exceedingly important role in the Quran. It is not too much to say that it is one of the most important negative value words in the Quran. Indeed, we encounter the root on almost every page of the Scripture, under a variety of forms.
The primary meaning of ZLM is, in the opinion of many of the authoritative lexicographers, that of 'putting in a wrong place'. In the sphere of ethics it seems to mean primarily 'to act in such a way as to transgress the proper limit and encroach upon the right of some other person.' Briefly and generally speaking, zulm is to do injustice in the sense of going beyond one's own bounds and doing what one has no right to. The Quran repeats everywhere that God does not wrong anyone 'even by the weight of an ant' or 'by a single date-thread'. A good deed He will double, a bad deed He will punish; in any case man will never be wronged.
Thus Men are made to bear the consequences of their own deeds. Even the torment of the Fire which all evil-doers are to suffer will after all be their own making. Hence the concept of zulm al-nafs (lit. 'wrongdoing of the soul', i.e. 'doing wrong to one's own soul, or one's self) which we find expressed very frequently in the Quran in connection with that of the divine chastisement of evil-doers. 'God wrongs nobody; man wrongs himself.'
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 164-166

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Accusation
Since unity of faith is the very foundation of the Islamic fraternity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has warned the believers to avoid accusing one another of disbelief. Thus according to a hadith reported by Abd Allah Ibn Umar, 'When a man calls his brother "kafir" one of them is afflicted with the charge. Either it is as he says or it befalls the person who uttered.' [Muslim]
According to yet another Hadith, reported by Abu Dharr al-Ghaffari: 'Whoever charges another person with disbelief, or calls him an "enemy of God", while this is not so, will have the charge rebound upon himself.' [Mishkat]
The message in the preceding hadiths is not confined to the prohibition of takfir but extends to transgression or sin (fisq) and the unfounded attribution of crime and sin to others. A Muslim is thus forbidden from charging others with fisq. This is the purport of another hadith which declares in the broadest of terms: 'No man accuses another of transgression (fisq) or disbelief (kufr) without partaking of it himself if the accused is not what the accusation claims he is.' [Mishkat]
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 188

Blindspot!
Conformity
We now understand basic religious terms differently and in a way that has made faith problematic. "Belief" no longer means "trust, commitment, and engagement" but has become an intellectual assent to a somewhat dubious proposition. Religious leaders often spend more time enforcing doctrinal conformity than devising spiritual exercises that will make these official "beliefs" a living reality in the daily lives of the faithful. Instead of using scriptures to help people to move forward and embrace new attitudes, people quote ancient scriptural texts to prevent any such progress. This neatly demonstrates our modern understanding of religion as something that we think rather than something that we do.
Compiled From:
"The Case for God" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 325, 326