Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Ethics of Consumption
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 219 (partial)
"... They ask what portion of their wealth they should spend in charity. Answer: What remains after you have covered the necessities ..."
The principle of world-affirmation which devolves from al tawhid implies the legitimacy of consumption. Consumption, i.e. apprehension of the material values, or satisfaction of desires and wants, is a basic right which belongs to all humans by birth. Its minimum is subsistence, and its maximum is the point at which consumption becomes tabdhir (extravagance, indulgence). That point can be defined as that in which psychic factors play a greater role in determining consumption of material goods than material need. Where the good or service in question is itself psychological, the extravagance point can be defined as that at which consumption is dictated by other psychic needs than those immediately affected by the product or service.
An example of the former would be the person who buys a product not because he needs it but out of vanity; and of the latter, the person who buys a ticket for an orchestral performance, not in order to enjoy the performance, but to "outdo the Joneses." Under al tawhid, a person may consume according to his need. The rest of his income or wealth should be spent on charity, in the cause of Allah, or reinvested in a business where it may produce more wealth as well as employment and income for others. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked what portion of their income/wealth should the Muslims spend in the cause of Allah, the answer was given through revelation of the above verse. This answer defines extravagance retroactively, as it were, by the assignment of all that goes beyond the satisfaction of real needs, to charity or public cause. Of course, increased production and its requirements of investment and entrepreneurship are included in the term "needs" as used by this verse.
Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, p. 180

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Honest Living
Muslim has reported Abu Hurairah as saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Verily, Allah is pure and He accepts only that which is good and pure."
One of the practical requirements before a supplication is accepted is that the supplicant must pursue an honest living and earn his livelihood through lawful means. The food that he eats or the clothes that he wears, in fact all his possessions, must be lawful and acquired through lawful means. This presumes noble qualities, like honesty, good behaviour, and contentment with what one has. These qualities make one the subject of others' love and of brotherly feelings and goodwill. A strong will is evidently necessary to achieve all these noble qualities.
Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, p. 201

Blindspot!
Change
While the modern West has concentrated on "change" and has rejected or ignored any "permanence," many Muslims have stuck themselves to "permanence" and have ignored "change," its effects, and its implications in the human life in different times and places. They became fond of the "oneness" in the Muslim thinking and the Muslim society, thinking that this is a natural and essential result of the belief in the One God and in Muslim unity. Such a fundamental misconception has developed other distortions about human nature, the message of Islam, and Muslim history.
A static understanding of the Islamic "model" has led to ignoring human diversity in conducting a Muslim lifestyle and adhering to the same faith and divine sources. The flourishing civilization under the Umayyads and Abbasids has been simply considered a deviation from the right path, since the pattern of that lifestyle was different from what had existed at the time of the early caliphate in Medina. Naturally not every difference is deviation, and all the Muslim life and the entire Muslim society cannot be restricted to the political system and the rulers. Magnificent material and intellectual developments in the Muslim civilization which were brought up by the whole people, whatever the rulers' behaviour may be, cannot be denied, and they had their impact on non-Muslim countries at the time. Hereditary monarchy and absolute authority characterized the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, but during that period fascinating developments took place in the exegesis of the Quran, the examination and collection of Sunna and the commentary on it, jurisprudence, theology, logic and philosophy, linguistics and literature, science in its various fields, medicine with its various areas, architecture, art, agriculture, industry, trade, transportation etc. Can we ignore such total distinguished civilizational developments produced by all the people because of the negatives of palace life?
Compiled From:
"Human Rights in the Contemporary World" - Fathi Osman, p. 11

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Reasons to Fast
Al Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 183
"O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness of God."
“What is fasting?” “How does the fasting of Muslims in Ramadan differ from the fasting of other faiths?” “Why should one ‘torture’ one’s body in the first place?” “What do you really gain from fasting in the end?" These are a few questions that a number of non-Muslim friends and colleagues often ask us, usually out of fascination with this spiritually-uplifting practice of Islamic faith, and at times out of pity and sympathy for us, thinking, why should anyone suffer from hunger and thirst like Muslims? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us shared the same negative perception of fasting.

It is important to note that fasting in Arabic is called “Sawm”, which literally means ‘to be at rest’. Fasting in the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is one of the Five Pillars upon which the “house” of Islam is built. During this month, every able-bodied Muslim is required to fast everyday from dawn until dusk
7 Reasons To Fast
  1. Fasting is an institution for the improvement of moral and spiritual character of human being. The purpose of the fast is to help develop self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, the spirit of caring and sharing, the love of humanity and the love of God. Fasting is a universal custom and is advocated by all the religions of the world, with more restrictions in some than in others. The Islamic fast, as opposed to mere starvation or self-denial, is an act of worship and obedience to God, thanksgiving, forgiveness, spiritual training, and self-examination.
     
  2. Fasting indoctrinates us in patience, unselfishness, and gratitude. When we fast we feel the pains of deprivation and hunger, and learn how to endure it patiently. The meaning of this powerful experience in a social and humanitarian context is that we are much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to their needs.

  3. It cultivates in us the principle of sincere love because when we observe fasting we do it out of deep love for God. And a person, who loves God, truly is a person who knows what love is and why everyone on this Earth should be loved and treated justly, for the sake of God.
     
  4. Fasting elevates the human spirit and increases our awareness of God. It strengthens our willpower as we learn to rise above our lower desires. The institution of fasting is both unique and a shared experience in human history. From the very beginning of time, humans have struggled to master their physical and psychological selves: their bodies and their emotions. Hunger is one the most powerful urges that we experience. Thus, when a person purposefully denies something to their own self that it craves, they are elevating their mind above their body, and their reason and will above their carnal passions.
     
  5. With the clarity of mind and absence of distractions also comes a greater focus. In the month of Ramadan, many Muslims try to avoid watching TV, listening to music, and some other leisure activities, which spares them more time and energy to be spent on more productive activities such as academics, intense study of Islam, voluntary prayers, social and humanitarian causes, and a quality time with the family, to name a few. It is a reminder of our duty to God, our purpose and higher values in life.
     
  6. It makes us realize the reality of life and death. Fasting makes us realize how dependant our lives are on things that we often take for granted, such as food and water. It makes us think about our dependence on God and God’s mercy and justice. Moreover, it reminds us of the life after death, which itself has a great impact on our character and our worldview.
     
  7. Ramadan is a blessed month for a special reason: it is actually the month in which God first revealed His final message and guidance for mankind to our beloved Prophet Muhammad. This message has been perfectly preserved both orally and textually in the form of a Book, called the Quran (The Reading/Recital). Therefore, Muslims try to do an intense study of the Quran in this month especially, and evaluate their lives according to the standards and guidance contained in it.
In a nutshell, even though the real purpose of the dynamic institution of fasting is to discipline our soul and moral behavior, and to develop sympathy for the less fortunate, it is a multi-functional and a comprehensive tool of change in various spheres of our lives including social and economic, intellectual and humanitarian, spiritual and physical, private and public, personal and common, inner and outer –  all in one!
Compiled From:
"The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Change!" - Taha Ghayyur & Taha Ghaznavi

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Guilt
The Prophet (peace be upon him) hated to let his Companions nurture a pointless feeling of guilt. He kept telling them that they must never stop conversing with the One, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful, who welcomes everyone in His grace and benevolence and who loves the sincerity of hearts that regret their misdeeds and return to Him. This is the profound meaning of at-tawbah, offered to everyone: sincerely returning to God after a slip, a mistake, a sin. God loves that sincere return to Him and He forgives and purifies. The Prophet himself exemplified that in many circumstances. On one occasion a Bedouin came and urinated in the mosque; the Companions rushed on him and wanted to beat him up. The Prophet stopped them and said, "Leave him alone, and just throw a bucketful of water on his urine. God has only sent you to make obligations easy, and not to make them difficult." [Bukhari]
Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p.  113

Cool Tips!
Ramadan Family Time
“Ramadan is family time,” one Muslim mother said recently in discussion about plans for the upcoming blessed month. She described how her busy household was usually scattered in different places throughout the year, with school and extracurricular activities taking precedence. But in Ramadan, everyone gathered to at least eat Iftar together.
While this may be true for some families, it is not for all. For many, there are scheduling conflicts. But hours on the job can be readjusted, classes can be rescheduled, and other activities can take a back seat.
If even this is not possible, you can still make time, as impossible as that may seem. If you and your family can commit to a daily Ramadan ritual of 20 minutes or less, it will go far in strengthening not just personal faith, but family bonds as well. Here are some ideas that offer ways to do that.
1. Family bedtime story
Set the timer to 10 minutes. Everyone gather in the same room in their pajamas. Take turns sharing or reading short Islamic stories. Suggestions for Islamic include "Treasury of Islamic Tales," "Companions of the Prophet," "Stories from Islamic History," among others. If the story is long, read only 10 minutes of it. Continue the following day. Be, and encourage all readers to be, as dramatic as possible in his or her presentation to retain audience interest.
2. Pray one prayer together at home
Most prayers easily take 20 minutes or less, in fact 10 minutes or less if you are praying only the required Rakat. Choose which prayer can be offered together and encourage all to participate.
3. Eat Suhur or Iftar together
Some of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "We eat but are not satisfied." He said, "Perhaps you eat separately." The Companions replied yes. The Prophet then said, "Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you” (Abu Dawud).
Eating together is about so much more than food, as this Hadith makes clear. It is about satisfaction not just of our physical appetites, but our spiritual and emotional need for companionship as well. And who better to build that companionship with than our families?
4. 10-minute Ramadan craft
Arts and crafts can be fun and therapeutic. But you don’t need hours in front of an easel to enjoy them. Google “fast and easy crafts” to come up with some great ideas that you can adopt and adapt for Ramadan. Make sure older kids in the house also participate. Also, have all of the materials and preparations done beforehand so the actual craft work really does take 10 minutes or less.
5. Daily dua ritual
This can be done right after the family has prayed together, or if that is not possible, at any other point in the day that everyone is in the same place, be it the home or the car. Begin by praising Allah, and then the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. After this, each person takes turns making one Dua. It could be for better health for a family member, a pet, or a gift wish for Eid. Make sure to set a timer and to remind participants to keep their duas short and meaningful so that everyone gets a chance to share.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Repelling Evil
Al-Rad (Thunder) Chapter 13: Verse 22 (partial)
"... And those who repel evil with good"
What is meant here is that in their daily dealings with others, the believers reply to the evil done by others to them by doing what is good. The verse, however, stresses the result, rather than the action leading to it. When an evil action is returned with something good, this has a dampening effect on the evil tendency in others, encouraging them to do good instead, and helping them to resist Satan's promptings. Eventually, it repels the evil action and prevents it. Hence, the verse emphasizes this result and gives it prominence by way of encouraging people to reply to an evil action with a good one.
Moreover, there is a subtle reference here to returning evil with good only when this helps to prevent, rather than encourage evil. When evil is uncompromising, it must be overpowered. To return it with good action only emboldens it, making it more intransigent.
Besides, the prevention of evil by means of good is feasible mostly in relations between equals. When the dispute is over faith, it is normally the case that arrogant aggressors and spreaders of corruption can only be dealt with by strong, decisive action. Quranic directives then should be considered and implemented on the basis of a rational and objective study of every situation to determine the best course under the circumstances.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 10, pp.186, 187

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Trustworthiness
Trustworthiness is a cornerstone of belief. According to God's Messenger (peace be upon him), breaching a trust is a sign of the end of time: "When a trust is breached, expect the end of time." When his Companions asked how a trust would be breached, he answered: "If a job or post is assigned to the unqualified, expect the end of time." [Bukhari]
Assigning qualified people to jobs or posts is a social trust and plays a significant role in public administration and social order. Its abuse causes social disorder. Trustworthiness is so essential an aspect of belief that God's Messenger once declared: "One who is not trustworthy is not a believer." [Ibn Hanbal] and described a believer as one whom the people trust with their blood and property. [Tirmidhi]
Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, pp. 73, 74

Blindspot!
Enemy's Narratives
There is much talk of the need for dialogue as a way of improving international relations. But will it be an aggressive dialogue that seeks to humiliate, manipulate, or defeat? Are we prepared to "make place for the other," or are we determined simply to impose our own will? An essential part of this dialogue must be the effort to listen. We have to make a more serious effort to hear one another's narratives. All too often, when the enemy starts to tell his story, the other side interrupts, shouts him down, objects, and denounces it as false and inaccurate. But a story often reflects the inner meaning of an event rather than factual, historical accuracy. As any psychoanalyst knows, stories of pain, betrayal, and atrocity give expression to the emotional dimension of an episode, which is just as important to the speaker as what actually happened. We need to listen to the undercurrent of pain in our enemy's story. And we should be aware as well that our version of the same event is also likely to be a reflection upon our own situation and suffering rather than a dispassionate and wholly factual account. We have to learn to look carefully and deeply into our own hearts and thus learn to see the sorrow of our enemy.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp.187, 188

Monday, June 9, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Tayyib
Al-Maida (The Table Spread) Chapter 5: Verse 88 (partial)
"Eat of what God has provided you as a lawful (halal) and good (tayyib)."
Tayyib is an adjective, the most basic semantic function of which is to denote any quality that strikes the sense - the sense of taste and odour, in particular - as very delightful, pleasant, and sweet. As would be expected, it is most frequently used to qualify food, water, perfume, and the like.
It is noteworthy that in the case of food, which, as everybody knows, constitutes an important item among those things that tend to be surrounded by all sorts of taboos, the Quran brings in the specific idea of 'sanctification', by associating tayyib with halal which means 'lawful' in the sense of 'free from all taboo'. So in this particular sense tayyib becomes almost a synonym of halal.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 235

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Excess
In his daily life, though he was preoccupied by attacks, treachery, and his enemies' thirst for revenge, Muhammad (peace be upon him) remained mindful of the small details of life and of the expectations of those around him, constantly allying rigor and the generosity of fraternity and forgiveness.
His Companions and his wives saw him pray for hours during the night, away from the others, alone with the whispered prayers and invocations that nurtured his dialogue with the One. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), his wife, was impressed and surprised: "Don't you take on too much [worship] while God has already forgiven all your past and future sins?" The Prophet answered: "How could I but be a thankful servant?" [Bukhari, Muslim] He did not demand of his Companions the worship, fasting, and meditations that he exacted of himself. On the contrary, he required that they ease their burden and avoid excess. He once exclaimed, repeating it three times: "Woe to those who exaggerate [who are too strict]!" [Muslim] And on another occasion, he said: "Moderation, moderation! For only with moderation will you succeed." [Bukhari]
Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp.  111, 112

Blindspot!
Legislation
Some Muslims may argue that, since God is the Lawgiver, there should not be a legislative body in an Islamic state. In fact, the legislature specifies and puts in detail the required laws, while the Quran and Sunna present general principles and certain rules. Even in the case of such particular rules in the Quran or the Sunna, different interpretations and jurisprudential views might arise about a certain text on the grounds of its language and its relation to other relevant texts. It is essential that a certain interpretation or jurisprudential view should be adopted by the state as a law, and this has to be decided by the legislature, so that the courts may not be left to different rules that may be applied in the same case according to the views and discretion of different judges—a complaint the well-known writer Ibn al-Muqaffa [d. 142H./759 C.E.] made in his time.
Besides, there is extensive room for what is allowed by sharia "al-mubah," and such an enormous area of allowed matters ought to be organized in a certain way, making any of them mandatory, forbidden, or optional according to the changing circumstances in different times and places. Public interest has its consideration in introducing new laws, which were not specified in the Quran and Sunna, but which are needed in a certain time or place, and which do not contradict any other specific rule in the divine sources, but can be supported by the general goals and principles of sharia. Many laws are required in a modern state in various areas such as traffic, irrigation, construction, roads, transportation, industry, business, currency, importing and exporting, public health, education, and so on, and they must only be provided according to the consideration of public interest or in the light of the general goals and principles of sharia, as there are no specific texts in the Quran and Sunna that directly deal with every emerging need in every time and place.
Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman

Monday, June 2, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
To Serve
Ya Sin (Ya Sin) Chapter 36: Verses 60, 61
"Children of Adam, did I not command you not to serve Satan? He is to you an open enemy. And serve Me alone, this is the Straight Way."
While explaining this verse in his al-Tafsir al-Kabir, Imam Razi points out that "do not serve Satan" means "do not obey Satan". It is not only forbidden to prostrate before him; it is equally forbidden to obey him. Hence, obedience to someone amounts to serving him. After making this point, Imam Razi asks: "If ibadah means obedience, then what is meant by the command 'to obey Allah, and His Messenger and those in authority among you'?" Does it mean that we are required to serve and worship the Messenger and those in authority among us? Imam Razi responds to this by saying that obedience to the Messenger and to those in authority among the Muslims amounts to serving and obeying God only if the order to obey is in accord with God's command. Obedience to them, however, will be reckoned as serving and worshipping them [rather than God] when people obey them in matters where obeying them has no sanction.
Imam Razi adds: "The angels prostrated before Adam at God's command, [and since it was in compliance with God's command], this was an act of worshipping none other than God. Imam Razi continues: "If someone were to come to you and ask you to carry out a command, consider whether this command conforms to God's command or not. If it does not conform to God's command, then his companion is Satan. In such a case, if one obeys him one is guilty of worshipping that person and his Satan. Likewise, if a person's self prompts him to do something he should consider whether God's Law permits that act or not. If that act is not permitted, then his self itself is Satan or Satan's companion. In case he follows the prompting of his own self, one is guilty of worshipping one's self."
Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, vol. IX, pp. 268, 269

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Allah's Help
"Allah is helping the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother." [Muslim]
If Allah is helping a person, is there anyone or anything that can repel Allah's help? Is there any greater help than the help that can come from Allah? How can one achieve that magnificent help? It is by turning to his brethren and helping them. As he helps his brothers, Allah will help him.
This hadith gives a picture of what the ideal Islamic society should be like. It is a society in which its members help and assist one another. The different members of society should be working together and helping one another for everything that is good and righteous. They should help each other fulfill their needs and they should assist each other to make life easier for all.
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 1325, 1326
Blindspot!
Rights and Obligations
The word haqq is often said to convey a basic meaning regardless of definitions. Haqq (right) in the Quran occurs in several places and carries a variety of meanings, which include justice, right as opposed to falsehood, a legal claim, an obligation, something that is proven and an assigned portion. The many meanings of haqq in the Quran may sometimes cause ambiguity, and even misunderstanding. For instance the shared meaning of haqq between a right and an obligation has persuaded Western Islamologists to draw the unwarranted conclusion that Islam recognizes only obligations but no right inhering in the individual. This is tantamount to turning a blind eye to the affirmative stance of the Quran and Sunnah on the rights of the individual, including his right to life, right to justice, right to equality, right of ownership, right to sustenance and support within the family, parental rights, right of inheritance and so forth.
Islam's commitment to justice and its advocacy of human dignity could not be sustained without the recognition of rights. However, Islam's perspective on rights and liberties is somewhat different from that of constitutional law and democracy and their underlying Western postulates. Islam, like other world religions, is primarily concerned with human relations. In ordinary life, people do not live primarily in terms of rights against others but in terms of mutual relationships involving love, compassion, self-preservation and self-sacrifice in pursuit of happiness and peace for themselves and their loved ones. The religious traditions teach people, with good reason, that such things are not a matter of course nor are they always a question of rights. This would partially explain why most religions tend to emphasize moral virtue, obligation, love and sacrifice even more than the individual's rights and claims.
Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 201, 202

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Dreams
Yusuf (Joseph) Chapter 12: Verse 4
"Joseph said to his father: 'Father, I saw in a dream eleven stars, as well as the sun and the moon; and I saw them prostrate themselves before me."
As we continue to read the rest of this Sura we must inevitably believe that some dreams prophesize something that will happen in the near or distant future. Two reasons may be identified here: the first is that Joseph's, his two fellow prisoners' and the King of Egypt's dream all came true. Secondly, in our own lives we find that some dreams come true and this is frequent enough to make it impossible to deny the relationship.
So what is the nature of dreams then? The school of analytical and psychology considers them as the subconscious expression of suppressed desires. This accounts for some dreams, but not all of them especially the prophetic dreams.
First of all we have to say that whether we know dream's nature or not does not affect the fact that there are such dreams and that some of them are true. We are here only trying to understand certain aspects of man's nature, and some of the laws God has set in operation in the universe.
Time and place constitute barriers that prevent man from seeing what we call the past, the future or the whole of the present. The past and future are screened by a time factor, while the present that is not in our immediate vicinity is screened by a place factor. A sense which we do not know about in man's make-up may at times become alert or may at times have extra strength and go beyond the time factor to see vaguely what lies beyond it. This is not true knowledge, but rather a form of discerning, similar to what happens to some people while awake and to others while asleep, when they are able to go beyond the barriers of either time or place, or indeed both. We do not in fact know anything about the true nature of time, nor is the nature of place or matter known to us fully.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 10, pp. 41, 42

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Candidacy
Elections require several candidates from whom to choose for a position. Caliph Umar nominated six distinguished persons from whom one might be chosen as a candidate for the caliphate to succeed him. Some argue against such a procedure from an Islamic point of view, arguing that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"By Allah, we do not appoint in a public position one who had asked for it." [Muslim]
According to scholars in this field and jurists, this is interpreted as a warning against asking for a public position merely for a personal benefit without considering its responsibilities and the required capabilities for fulfilling them. One who is capable for a public position, fully aware of its responsibilities, and thinks that he or she can fulfill them and commits himself or herself to do so, can ask for the position and mention his or her qualifications for it, as the Prophets Yusuf [Joseph] and Sulayman [Solomon] did.
It goes without saying that presenting the candidate's merits and capability for the position, and criticizing other's incapabilities should follow the legal and ethical principles of Islam. The requirements for a candidate, or what may bar a person from a candidacy, can be decided in the light of Islamic legal and moral teachings and according to social circumstances.
Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman

Blindspot!
Islamic Call
[.. continued from previous issue]
The Five Results
First: to attain the position of inheritors of the Prophets, for they were the first callers and beacons of light in the field of propagation.
Second: to obtain prayers for your forgiveness from the creation for having taught the people goodness. Even the whale in the ocean will pray for the caller to truth.
Third: to gain great rewards equivalent to that of those invited. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Whoever calls to a good tradition will have the reward as the one who followed it without reducing from their reward.'
Fourth: the development of the caller from being on who is called to one who calls. He influences others and is not influenced by others who call to evil.
Fifth: the caller will become a leader among his people and they will follow him. Allah Almighty describes the righteous and notes that they call upon Him saying: 'Cause us to be foremost among those who are conscious of Thee!' (Quran 25:74)
Compiled From:
"Thirty Lessons For Those Who Fast" - A'id Abdullah al-Qarnee

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Personal Dignity
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) Chapter 3: Verse 84
"Say: We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and in the scriptures that God sent to Moses and Jesus, and the Prophets. We make no distinction between them and we are Muslims."
The Quranic recognition of the truth and essential unity of the revealed faiths is not confined to Christianity and Judaism but extends to all the Prophets preceding Moses and Jesus and their teachings. Thus it is stated that belief in all of them is an integral part of the Muslim faith.
Affirmative references to other revealed religions is one of the major themes of the Quran. These recur in several places in the Book and they consistently confirm that Islam does not deny the followers of other faiths the freedom, both within and outside the territorial domain of Islam, to choose, retain and practice the religion they wish to follow. This is precisely the conclusion that commentators have drawn from the totality of the Quranic evidence. Referring to these verses, Fathi Uthman writes that 'Islam rejects compulsion even if it be the only way to Islam itself ... for worshipping God and the enforcement of His law cannot be properly achieved unless man is free from fear ...'.
The Quran is most explicit on the dignity and nobility of man, both individually and collectively, and it repeatedly expresses the theme that a person's dignity is ultimately related to his or her freedom - particularly freedom of conscience. In sum, the Quran is consistent in its affirmation of the freedom of belief and it fully supports the conclusion that the objective of the Shariah cannot be properly fulfilled without granting people the freedom of belief, and the liberty to express it.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 102, 103

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Ridicule
One major cause of social discord is ridiculing others, especially in being contemptuous of others. One's superiority complex prompts one to belittle others. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has provided a graphic account of him who mocks others, as he will face a penalty in the Hereafter: "Those mocking others will be shown a door to Paradise and be asked to enter. As they reach the door it will be closed and the same will happen again. This will be done so many times that they will lose strength and spirit to approach any door." [Bayhaqi] Some resort to imitating others as a means of mocking them. The Prophet took strong exception to Umm al-Muminin Aisha's (may Allah be pleased with her) mimicry of someone, saying: "I do not approve of this, even if I am given any material thing as an incentive for doing so." [Tirmidhi]
Compiled From:
"Inter Personal Relations" - Khurram Murad, p. 24

Cool Tips!
Islamic Call
[.. continued from previous issue]
The five means of propagation
First: the individual method; that is, to invite the person individually if the matter pertains to him specifically.
Second: public or mass propagation such as in lectures or exhortations that benefit the generality of people.
Third: private lessons to students each in his specialty. This is the task of the scholars who specialize in their disciplines.
Fourth: propagation through writing, correspondence and authorship with guidance and benefit for those who are called.
Fifth: propagation using modern means of communication to advance the cause of truth or any means within your own individual capacity.
[to be continued]
Compiled From:
"Thirty Lessons For Those Who Fast" - A'id Abdullah al-Qarnee

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Birr
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 177
"The birr does not consist in your turning your faces towards the East or the West, but true birr is this, that one believes in God, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Scripture, and the Prophets; that one gives one's own wealth howsoever cherished it may be, to kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, and beggars, and also for the sake of slaves; that one performs the ritual prayer, pays the alms. And those who keep their covenant when they have once covenanted and who are patient in distress and hardship: there are they who are sincere; these are they who are Godfearing."
The word Birr is perhaps among the most elusive of the Quranic moral terms. In any case, the usage of the word in Quran indicates that a very prominent place is given to factors relating to justice and love in human relations, so much so that - to take two representative elements - the act of rendering religious service to God and that of feeding the poor are made to stand almost on the same footing. This should not surprise us, for the Quran as a whole gives an outstanding emphasis to justice and love in social life. Piety, in other words, cannot be piety unless it manifests itself in various works motivated by the will to practice justice and love towards others.
The word birr seems to lend further confirmation to this view. The above verse furnishes a contextual definition of the word. A glance at the elements here enumerated as constituting true birr would make us understand at once that there is practically nothing to distinguish it from true iman. We see at the same time why this term has been so variously translated in English. It may very well be rendered as 'piety'; it may no less justifiably be rendered as 'righteousness' or 'kindness'. But any of these translations taken alone, cannot possibly do justice to the original word which includes all these and perhaps still others in its complex meaning.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, pp. 207, 208

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Five Favours
God is kind and gives favours to everyone. Whatever people have is from God. Nevertheless, He bestowed special favours on each Prophet (peace be upon them) and community according to the dictates of the time. For example, Adam was favoured with the knowledge of the names (the keys to all branches of knowledge). Noah was endowed with steadfastness and perseverance; Abraham was honoured with God's intimate friendship and being the father of numerous Prophets; Moses was given the ability to administer, and was exalted by being addressed by God directly; and Jesus was distinguished with patience, tolerance, and compassion. All Prophets have some share in these praiseworthy qualities, but each surpasses, on account of his mission, the others in one or more of these qualities.
Prophet Muhammad has all of the qualities mentioned above, except for being the father of Prophets. Moreover, because of the universal nature of his mission, he is further distinguished in the following five ways. As related by Bukhari, he says:
"I have been given five things not given to anyone before me: God helps me by implanting fear in the heart of my enemies at a distance of one month's walk; the Earth has been made a place of worship and means of cleansing for me, so whenever it is time to pray my followers can pray wherever they are; the spoils of war are lawful for me, although they were not lawful for anyone before me; I have the right to intercede (with God on behalf of believers); and, while every Prophet (before me) was sent to his people exclusively, I was sent to humanity."
Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, p. 119
Cool Tips!
Islamic Call
The propagation of Islam was the mission of all the prophets and messengers of Allah. There was never a prophet who was not a preacher and teacher. All of them preached the same message: 'Worship Allah, you have no other god but Him.' They all called to their people saying: 'I do not seek any reward from you for this work.'
There are five premises to the Islamic call, it has five approaches, and its results are also five.
The five premises
First: sincerity and truthfulness with Allah, and to seek His favour. Allah says: 'And, they were not enjoined aught but that they should worship God, sincere in their faith to Him alone.' (98:5)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) foretold that the first with whom the fire of hell will be lit are three; among them a scholar who acquired knowledge so that people would say he is learned.
Second: to practice what one preaches. Actually it is a scandal and disgrace that a person's actions contradict his words. Allah derides such people in His Quran: 'Do you bid other people to be pious, the while you forget your own selves - and yet you recite the divine writ? Will you not, then, use your reason?' (Qur'an 2:44)
Third: gentleness in presenting the message. Allah advised Musa and Haroon (peace be upon them both) to adopt this measure with Pharaoh, the greatest tyrant of his time: 'But speak unto him in a mild manner, so that he might bethink himself or [at least] be filled with apprehension.' (Qur'an 20:44)
And to Prophet Muhammad, He also cautioned: 'And it was by God's grace that thou [O Prophet] didst deal gently with thy followers; for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee' (Qur'an 3:159).
Hence it was on this basis the Prophet, declared: 'Make matters easy and do not make them difficult. Give glad tidings and do not drive people away.'
Fourth: adopt a gradual approach to propagation. Do as Prophet Muhammad did in his mission by beginning with the most important matters; then follow them up in order of priority. This was clearly demonstrated in the advice he gave to Muadh (may Allah be pleased with him) before he sent him to Yemen. "You will come upon a People of the Book (Jews and Christians), the first thing you should invite them to is to bear witness that there is no God save Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. If they respond positively to this, then inform them that Allah had ordained for them five prayers each day and night.'
Fifth: address every people with what is suited for them and their needs. There is a special approach to the people of the cities and another approach to the villagers. Similarly, there is a special approach to the Bedouin. The intellectual has his position and the ignorant has his position. So too, there is a style for the argumentative and an entirely different one for the submissive. 'And whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted wealth abundant.'
[to be continued]
Compiled From:
"Thirty Lessons For Those Who Fast" - A'id Abdullah al-Qarnee

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Assumptions.

I guess it comes with the territory that when you have a large family, when you are an old Muslim woman in the shoe that people will assume certain things about you. I suppose you think this will be a negative post but au contraire! People have grand assumptions about me, positive to the max assumptions about me that don't fit me whatsoever. All I have to do is show up, not doing anything at all but people will think that I am a connoisseur of many talents. First of all is cooking. Everyone assumes that I am a master chef! That I spend most of my day cooking succulent feasts in a humid kitchen for my large sprawling family. That I cook foods from all Muslim ethnic groups. Sorry I rarely cook. What are my children starving? Not at all. My husband does the cooking. Gasp! This is unheard of right? I think I've mentioned many times how I hate cooking, no I loathe it. So I don't. Well I did cook a few times a week before but now maybe once a month. Why the decline? I got MS a few years ago if you have been reading my blog. I can't stand for long periods of time. I suppose if I LOVED cooking I would just sit and cook but nah. Even baking has taken a back seat which I love. Mostly my kids have taken over. Another assumption is that I sew all my own clothes and most likely my children's. Although I took a sewing course when I was pregnant for my 4th because Islamic clothes were so hard to find, I found I lacked the patience. Wash the material,measure the material, stretch the material,cut the material, sew the material..yadda,yadda...I got so frustrated with it. I love the idea of it but it takes a kind of soft,gentle type of woman for such pursuits and I'm the type to want things done yesterday! So sorry my clothes are off the rack. Third assumption; I embroider my own clothes. Wow! Another endeavour that takes patience. I don't even know how to embroider. Never thought of learning either although in all historical romance books that I read pre-Islam the ladies of the gentry would always be sitting around quietly embroidering. Nah, also not happening. Sorry my clothes are embroidered by lovely women overseas either by hand or by machine, not quite certain which. I don't have an eye for such things.

So I'm sorry to burst your bubble. I'm just a regular sort of person who happens to have a large family. You still love me though right?

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Knowing Another
Al-Hujurat (The Chambers) Chapter 49: Verse 13 (partial)
"Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female and have formed you into tribes and nations so that you may get to know one another."
The Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) greatest political achievement was to find a way of helping the Arabs to transcend the aggressive jahiliyyah that was tearing Arabia apart. Pluralisms and diversity are God's will; the evolution of human beings into national and tribal groups was meant to encourage them to appreciate and understand the essential unity and equality of the entire human family. But national and tribal chauvinism (asabiyyah), which regards one's own group as inherently superior to all others, is condemned as arrogant and divisive. Tribalism in this sense is still alive and well today. If we continue to make our national interest an absolute value, to see our cultural heritage and way of life as supreme, and to regard outsiders and foreigners with suspicion and neglect their interests, the interconnected global society we have created will not be viable. After the world wars, genocide, and terrorism of the twentieth century, the purpose of the tribe or the nation can no longer be to fight, dominate, exploit, conquer, colonize, occupy, kill, convert, or terrorize rival groups. We have a duty to get to know one another, and to cultivate a concern and responsibility for all our neighbours in the global village.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, p. 144

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Good Manners
We should turn to Allah to seek His help in becoming a person of good character. It is recorded by Ahmad in different narrations from both Ibn Masud and Aisha that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say, "O Allah, You made my physical being beautiful, so make my character beautiful."
Everyone should realize that good character is truly a great gift from Allah and it is only Allah who can bestow such a gift. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) also used to make the following supplication, "Guide me to the best manners, no one can guide to the best of them but You. And turn me away from evil manners, no one can turn me away from them except you." [Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, p. 1025

Blindspot!
Intangibles
The depression brought the world to the very borderline of understanding of the forces which are intangible and unseen. Through the ages which have passed, man has depended too much upon his physical senses, and has limited his knowledge to physical things, which he could see, touch, weigh, and measure.
We are now entering the most marvellous of all ages—an age which will teach us something of the intangible forces of the world about us. Perhaps we shall learn, as we pass through this age, that the “other self” is more powerful than the physical self we see when we look into a mirror.
Sometimes men speak lightly of the intangibles— the things which they cannot perceive through any of their five senses, and when we hear them, it should remind us that all of us are controlled by forces which are unseen and intangible.
The whole of mankind has not the power to cope with, nor to control the intangible force wrapped up in the rolling waves of the oceans. Man has not the capacity to understand the intangible force of gravity, which keeps this little earth suspended in midair, and keeps man from falling from it, much less the power to control that force. Man is entirely subservient to the intangible force which comes with a thunderstorm, and he is just as helpless in the presence of the intangible force of electricity— nay, he does not even know what electricity is, where it comes from, or what is its purpose!
Nor is this by any means the end of man’s ignorance in connection with things unseen and intangible. He does not understand the intangible force (and intelligence) wrapped up in the soil of the earth—the force which provides him with every morsel of food he eats, every article of clothing he wears, every dollar he carries in his pockets.
Compiled From:
"Think & Grow Rich" - Napoleon Hill, pp. 212, 213

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Salih
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 82
"Those who believe and do good works (salihat); such shall be the inhabitants of Paradise, to dwell therein forever."
The strongest tie of semantic relationship binds salih and iman together into an almost inseparable unit. Just as the shadow follows the form, wherever there is iman there is salihat or, 'good works', so much so that we may almost feel justified defining the former in terms of the latter, and the latter in terms of the former. In brief, the salihat are 'belief' fully expressed in outward conduct. And so it comes about that the expression: alladhina amanu wa-amilu al-salihat, 'those who believe and do salih deeds', is one of the most frequently used phrases in the Quran. 'Those who believe' are not believers unless they manifest their inner faith in certain deeds that deserve the designation of salih. What are, then, these 'good works'? It is clear contextually that the 'good works' are those works of piety that have been enjoined by God upon all believers.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, pp. 204, 205

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Light
In a hadith related by Abd Allah ibn Umar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "God created His creation in darkness and then cast some of His light upon it. Those who were struck by that light were guided, those whom it missed went astray." [Tirmidhi]
This great hadith is one of the foundations of faith and opens one of the greatest doors to the mystery of destiny and divine wisdom. God is the One who grants accord.
This light which God cast upon them gave them both life and direction. Their pure God-given nature had its portion of this light, but by itself it was incomplete. So He completed it by way of the spirit, which He sent to the Prophets, and the light which He revealed to them. This is how God-given nature rediscovers the pre-existent light that reached it on the day the light was cast. The light of revelation and prophecy joined with the light of God-given nature. Hearts glow, faces shine, souls are vivified, the body inclines to His worship willingly and hearts add life to their life.
Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 77
Blindspot!
Fear
Nurturing collective fears can directly affect the right of individuals, and equality of treatment. Centres of power (political, economic, military-industrial or media-based) sometimes decide to fuel, or even create, threats and dangers for national, international, economic and/or geostrategic reasons. The climate of fear and insecurity makes citizens accept measures that restrict the rights they have won, or even differential forms of treatment that are justified by the threat itself. There is nothing new about this strategy, but its strength is amplified by the power of modern means of communication. An enemy is created, his ability to do harm is demonized and the public is encouraged to draw the logical consequences from the situation: ‘You are afraid. We will guarantee your security, but in order to do that we must take exceptional measures – keep you under surveillance, keep the enemy under surveillance – and may sometimes have to encroach upon your rights, dignity or equality.’ The exceptional nature of the threat justifies the suspension of existing laws: fear is indeed the enemy of law. All dictators have, to varying degrees, used – and use – this method to justify their policies. What we are witnessing today with the ‘war on terrorism’ is of a similar nature and produces similar consequences: when fear rules and when security is under threat, rules no longer apply and rights can be reconsidered, personal integrity can be violated. Equality becomes a matter of wishful thinking, and the majority of the population, which is subjected to psychological and media brainwashing, gradually comes to accept the implications of the threat.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 78, 79