Thursday, November 25, 2010
I see billboards on the horizon, I can't imagine what they'll tell me, what to wear, what to drink, where to eat, it's so easy not to think for yourself anymore, so naive, you don't do anything anymore.
--New Found Glory-No News is Good News
The sad (and inconvenient) truth of globalization and consumerism is the detrimental affect it has on society and ultimately the individual. No matter how “civilized” and advanced we think we may be, we are surrounded by pollution. This pollution not only includes chemical pollutants, but also audio pollution (indecent music, vulgar jokes,etc.), visual pollution (pornography, indecency, etc.), physical pollution (illicit sex, vulgarity). This pollution becomes a spiritual, physical and mental toxin or poison that slowly kills us.
When we often think of these vices we come to think how distracting these pollutants become. They essentially have become drugs—which have ultimately distracted us from our ultimate goal of pursuing getting closer to Allah, spiritual betterment, and living productive and meaningful lives. In the Quran Allah mentions our distraction and our constant striving to gain more and more:
1. The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, 2. Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die). 3. Nay! You shall come to know!
We’ve essentially become programmed to think a certain way about our bodies, our lives, our very existence has been defined by corporations that create trends that everyone must follow in order to become “successful” and happy. But, does real happiness come from material things? We’re all victims to this misery industry. These corporations, drug companies, etc. tell us how bad our lives are and how much better they could be if…..you buy their products. There is nothing with wrong with advertising for your business, but there is everything wrong with deceptive advertising. We are foolishly deceived by airbrushed models, computer-generated images of people in movies, advertisements, etc. We are bombarded with what the definition of true success and beauty is. A man or woman can gain everything in the world, but ultimately has lost everything if it is devoid of Allah or a higher spiritual meaning to their lives.
This misery industry has had detrimental effects not only on our physical health (the food we eat is injected with all sorts of chemicals and unhealthy proportions), but also our psychological and mental health. We’ve been told that white is beautiful (look at India and Pakistan and the growing trend for face-whitening creams). We’ve been told that being extremely skinny is beautiful. We’ve been told that perfect skin, perfect teeth, perfect eyebrows, perfect ripped/slim body are the essence of beauty. However, none of this is realistic or even possible to attain, yet we run after it like an elusive mirage.
1. The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you
This misery industry has made us less intelligent individuals as we get caught up in the advertisements and the definition of success and beauty. Guys expect their future wives (or current wife) to be super model thin and girls expect their future husbands to look like a guy out of a GQ magazine. Unfortunately, once we wake up from this dream we realize this really isn’t realistic. We’re all victims to this brainwashing and constant barrage of advertising and ultimately have become people with no minds of our own.
Many problems arise from this. We see mental and physical issues such as anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, fear, peer pressure, etc. We all want to fit in, yet the misery industry constantly tells us we cannot attain it until……..you buy their product. The biggest impact of the misery industry is the insecurity that it causes most people. Girls want to fit the pictures they see in magazines and movies and are under immense pressure by society to look a certain way or else they won’t be seen as beautiful. However, true beauty lies not in the skin or the physical, but lies in the character, morals, and personality of the individual. That isn't to say basic attraction isn't important....but to emphasize the physical over the spiritual isn't the right approach. Guys also are affected as they believe that they need to look a certain way and dress a certain way. We see the gyms filled up. Why? For health purposes of course. WRONG. Most men work out for aesthetic reasons. “If I can get a ripped body, I’ll look good for the girls.” Gross exaggeration, but we all know it’s true to a certain degree. These impossible standards for beauty are literally driving us to invest our hard earned money into cosmetics, clothes, etc. that we really don’t need. Also, these impossible standards cause tensions in relationships as a man has a certain impossible image of beauty and the woman can barely keep up with that image always. We expect women to look in perfect shape 24/7, yet we men can take a break after working out for most of our youth…
Sadly, the misery industry turns people into mindless drones and we foolishly buy into it. Literally BUY into it. We go to the stores, consume the products, and waste thousands of dollars on things we often don’t need. We look to the poorest of people and you see they’re so content with the little they have, yet we want to consume more and more and get things we don’t need. We’re told we NEED to get a certain product. But the question becomes, are our wants becoming our needs ? Our nafs is certainly out of control and this creates a spiritual dilemma for most of us. We lose our dignity, our sense of purpose of life, and honor when we constantly chase after this dunya. Our insatiable greed and nafs moves us to work harder for dunya, work longer hours, perhaps get more than one job. Often times we see this hurts families as both parents are working to sustain an expensive lifestyle----they become slaves to their nafs. They rarely have time for their children and it hurts the family and ultimately society. The misery industry is destroying society morally and ethically one family at a time. Our kids become drones raised on TVs, movies, video games, etc. while parents work like slaves to satiate an insatiable nafs. In this rat race, we ultimately we lose ourselves and lose our focus and stray from our path to getting closer to Allah.
1. The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you
Mental sicknesses also increase when we buy into this misery industry. We see people delving into mental states that affect children from young ages to older people. Kids are growing up faster than usual and are exposed early on to more mental junk than previous generations were. Kids already are addicted to TV screens, video games, etc. Thus, we have generations of unintelligent kids with attention disorders and lack of social or verbal skills. Girls are brought up to think that Hannah Montana or some super model or actress is their role model. We get so mentally beaten by the misery industry we turn to drugs, get caught up in anorexia, bulimia, and other health disorders. Teenagers and older individuals turn to suicide often when societal pressure becomes too great. This misery industry is literally killing us, yet we’re killing ourselves for it.
Anas (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu-alleihi-wasallam) as saying: "If the son of Adam were to possess two valleys of riches. he would long for the third one. And the stomach of the son of Adam is not filled but with dust. And Allah returns to him who repents." [Sahih Muslim : Book 5, Book Name Kitab Al-Zakat, Number 2282] (i.e. the only thing that will satisfy/end Man’s craving for more will be death)
A sheikh once gave me the parable of this dunya. It’s similar to you standing with your back against the sun and chasing the shadow(i.e. dunya), however if you turn around and see the sun and go towards the light that is more attainable (i.e. light/sun represents deen/good/Allah, etc.). So this dunya is elusive and fruitless. To run after dunya will get you nowhere---it’s as elusive as the shadow and it’s temporary. To run after akhihrah and after closeness to Allah is better.
So let’s unplug ourselves from the misery industry and start thinking for ourselves, because to a certain degree we are all victims of the environment we are brought up in and are unfortunately affected in more ways than one. We need to watch what we eat, watch what we hear, watch what we see, and most importantly start to THINK for ourselves. Let’s unplug ourselves from this rat race and stop killing ourselves for the misery industry before it kills us spiritually, physically and mentally.
Micah White's Thought Bubble: Junk Thought
Rise of the child women: The new breed of girls as young as ten who dream of manicures, diets and breast implants
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
So I couldn’t stop starting at this tree as I drove home from work.
I mean, it looked normal…but there was so much more to it. Half of its leaves had already fallen off.
I knew it looked like something…but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…
AHA! Now I remembered what it reminded me of!
Have you ever seen a diagram of a human lung? Well in case you haven’t, here: http://www.shoppingtrolley.net/images/anatomy/lungs.jpg
The branches, and the twigs, and the few remaining leaves on the tree, looked exactly like the bronchi and the corresponding bronchioles, with the Alveoli hanging off at the end.
And then I thought to myself, just like the lungs are the respiratory center for the body, so too are the trees for this place called ‘Earth’.
And then I thought about all those leaves that die annually during this time of the year…all of them falling to their graves. It’s funny how the extraordinary beauty of their changing colors is just another symptom of their terminal illness.
And just like those same leaves that are ultimately blown off the trees by the freeblowing wind, so too are men destroyed when they heedlessly follow nothing but their desires, going wherever their whims take them…
Look past the illusion.
“Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day,― there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.― Men who celebrate the praises of Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): "Our Lord! not for naught hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.” (3:190-191)
Any goodness in this post is from The Creator, The Bestower of form, and you should be thankful to Him for that. Any weakness or shortcoming in this post is from me, and I ask The Most Glorious, and the people, to forgive me for that. Ameen.
Monday, September 20, 2010
In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
According to recent estimates by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), that’s how many children under age 5 died in 2009…8.1 million…more than 22,000 children a day.
So much innocence lost….
You see, one of the beautiful things about kids, is their innocence. When we see them, we naturally gravitate towards them because we see something we like. The human soul is naturally inclined towards good; it’s part of our fitrah. It’s how we were created.
We like it when a toddler asks you a question but can’t pronounce the words properly.
We like it when that 7 year old girl flashes a beautiful smile.
We like it when little kids are running around all over the place.
We like these things…and in my opinion, one of the reasons why: their complete innocence.
What actually made me think about all this was a recent reflection on the story of Moses (peace be upon him) and Khidr found in Surat al-Kahf in the Qur’an. In this Qur’anic account, Moses (peace be upon him) meets Khidr (who is regarded as either a prophet or a pious person in the Islamic tradition) so as to learn some knowledge that Khidr had been taught. Khidr agrees, and tells Moses (peace be upon him) to not ask him any questions, until he (Khidr) speaks to him (Moses, peace be upon him) about it.
So there end up being 3 particular incidents that the Qur’an makes mention of. At each one, Moses (peace be upon him) is aghast at the seemingly evil things that Khidr is doing, and when he speaks out against it, Khidr reminds him that he (Moses, peace be upon him) is not supposed to ask questions. At the end of the third incident, Khidr finally explains to Moses (peace be upon him) what’s going on, and the wisdom behind his actions.
But of these three incidents, it is the second one mentioned that is of prime importance here.
Essentially, Khidr murders a young man:
“Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him. Moses said: ‘Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard-of) thing hast thou done!’ He answered: ‘Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?’” (18:74-75)
Later on, Khidr explains his actions here:
"As for the youth his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man).”So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection.” (18:80-81)
A few important points I want to make here:
1) Notice Moses’ (peace be upon him) response; it emphasizes the innocence of the young boy
2) As for Khidr’s explanation, it shows some of the knowledge that he had been given by The Creator
3) And lastly, the most important point – In a lecture I recently listened to, a prominent shaykh points out how Khidr’s actions actually helped out the young man himself
You see, in the Islamic tradition, young children, before they reach puberty, are not accountable for their deeds. They’re forgiven. In other words, they’re innocent…and as for those young souls who depart from this world before they reach that point:
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: With regard to the children of the believers, there is no dispute among the scholars. Al-Qaadi Abu Ya’laa ibn al-Farraa’ al-Hanbali narrated that Imaam Ahmad said: there is no dispute concerning the fact that they will be among the people of Paradise. This is what is well known among people (i.e., the majority of scholars) and this is what we are definitely sure about, in sha Allaah. (Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem, 3/33).
Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: who has any doubts that the children of the Muslims will be in Paradise?!
Imaam al-Nawawi said: the reliable Muslim scholars agreed that any Muslim child who dies will be among the people of Paradise, because he was not responsible (i.e., had not yet reached the age of account). (Sharh Muslim, 16/207).
So the point being made was that Khidr’s actions were not only a mercy to the parents, but to the boy himself…He was saved from a troubled future…Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah).
Now in all fairness, there is a difference of opinions for children born into families of other faiths, although this apparently seems to be the majority view:
That they will be in Paradise. Some of them said, they will be in al-A’raaf [a place between Paradise and Hell]. And the reason why it was said that they will be in Paradise is because this is the ultimate destiny of the people of al-A’raaf. This is the view of the majority of scholars, as reported from them by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Tamheed, 18/96.
(Please see http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/6496 for more info on this topic, including the differences of opinion on this latter subject matter…and The All-Knowing knows best)
But the point of this post is not to get into a theological debate, which I am quite frankly, unqualified to get into. Instead, I just wanted to write something that, Insha’Allah (God-willing) helps us out a bit when we see these images on t.v., or read about these stories in the newspapers…about these young kids dying because of war, or violence, or disease, or poverty, or famine, or drought, or even before birth…whatever the case may be…just something that helps us get through the day…something that reminds us not only of the infinite Mercy of The Creator, but of His infinite Justice as well…just something that helps us out a bit when we feel overwhelmed by the loss of so many innocent babies…just something when these things make us weep…just something so we remember why children are so precious…just something to help us think about the infinitely expansive beauty and majesty of our Creator…just a little something to reflect on…just a little something, Insha’Allah.
Peace be unto you all.
Any goodness in this post is solely from Ar-Rahman (The Most Gracious), Ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful), and you should be thankful to Him for all of that. Any shortcoming in this post is solely from myself, and I ask Al-`Adl (The Utterly Just) and the people to forgive me for that. Ameen.
This post is dedicated to all those young kids who died innocent in all the occupations and wars…all those child victims of crime and violence…all those little ones who passed because of disease and starvation...all those young ones who never got to see their dreams…all the fallen kids…the dead babies...the little girl who will be questioned for what sin she was buried alive…all those young souls…
The young die Good.
Monday, September 13, 2010
So we’ve all seen the growing Islamaphobia in the US with the recent Quran burnings and Park 51 controversy. My question is so what’s new? The religion of Islam has been under attack ever since the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW (oh wait…come to think of it it’s always been under attack.. since Noah, Moses to Jesus to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all).
If we to turn to the seerah and the Quran we’ll see many solutions to the growing problem of Islamaphobia (and other answers to the many many problems we have). I cannot think of specific ayahs or surahs for us to reference, but reading the Quran we can find many instances in which the same rhetoric has been said before by people who hated the Muslims and Islam during the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW (i.e. he’s a madman, if Allah wanted to make us Muslims why didn’t he already? Why weren’t angels sent with him? He’s a poet, etc. etc.), but I encourage you to seriously look into the Quran and start to parallel today’s current Islamaphobic rhetoric with that of the rhetoric of the past---it’s amazing how similar it is.
Where our problem lies is the apathy, laziness and lack of pro-activism in the Muslim community. We are a very reactionary people overall. When someone does take action we often criticize (much like the hypocrites of Madinah did whenever the Prophet SAW used to do things in Madinah and propagate Islam). In the eight years President Bush was in office and the hatred of Islam and Muslims was at its peak in the world and in the US, Muslims were scared and looking everywhere for help frantically. We’re a people with short memories and forget easily the things we take for granted. We never feel pain or the reality for those who are incarcerated unjustly (i.e. Ahmed Abu Ali, Sami al-Arian, etc.), tortured, and killed unjustly until it hits home. When it happens to us that’s when we wake up and get active, but very rarely as a people do we come up with positive and productive solutions to our problems. We’re quick to point fingers and criticize, but are the first to step back when told to take action. Unfortunately, we have the characteristics of the hypocrites of Madinah who said they believed in Islam, yet did not believe and merely criticized every action taken by the Prophet Muhammad SAW.What's important is for us to continually educate people about Islam and Muslims and not just become reactionary people. Keep up the dawah people!
Another element to our reactionary nature is our emotions. We’re a very emotional people and the xenophobes/Islamaphobes are very aware of this emotional element of the Muslims. They know exactly what button to press to make Muslims behave or react a certain way. What’s needed is for Muslims to show composure, dignity, and honor in these times of hardship. We need eloquent leaders who speak for Muslims and are aware of the Islamaphobes’ rhetoric and tactics---you’ll see whenever they’re cornered or defeated in a debate they’ll either switch the topic or say “We have nothing against Islam”---yet their entire rhetoric is blatantly anti-Muslim or Islam. What’s needed by Muslims is for Muslims to not necessarily avoid bigots or Islamaphobes, but rather address these people in an intelligent manner, but after this come up with a harder campaign against Islamaphobia.
One piece of advice I’d like to give Muslims is to educate themselves fully about issues that Islamaphobes bring up BEFORE engaging them (if they’re given the opportunity). But, as a rule of thumb most Islamaphobes are not willing to listen to intelligence or not really looking to learn more about Islam. The people you should engage are the genuinely ignorant people about Islam. There are what I’d like to call the Islamaphobe ring-leaders and then there are the ignorant masses who follow---it’s these people you’d like to educate because the ring-leaders are pushing for Islamaphobia for political reasons, so your success rate with educating them is a lot less than with the ignorant masses. Let the more qualified people deal with the ring-leaders like imams, Muslim media experts, etc.
One mistake Muslims can make though in defending Islam is watering Islam down when certain touchy/controversial issues come up. It is here I’d advise people to talk to imams and scholars on how to best express and address these issues, but as a whole Muslims need to educate themselves prior to engaging Islamaphobes, because for the layman Muslim many things Islamaphobes say can really shake your faith if you’re not strong in knowledge and faith.
Now a few solutions to the problem of Islamaphobia: Start of simply by reaching out to your non-Muslim neighbor and talking about Islam to them, ask your local masjid to hold an educational event to educate non-Muslims about Islam, talk to co-workers, fellow students about Islam, hold events with your local MSA. THINK!
Now back to our issues at hand with the rise of Islamaphobia in the US. We’ve seen in recent history the Danish cartoons, the ban on niqab/hijab, the xenophobia in Europe, the indiscriminate hatred/torture/killings of Muslims, and now the Quran burnings and Park 51 controversy---again I ask what’s new? This stuff was inevitable and is a growing trend---so what? Let’s deal with it intelligently as the Prophet Muhammad SAW did. We can complain about how bad life for Muslims or……we can change it. Allah says in the Quran:
“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)” From 13: 11
However, I want to draw our attention to the beauty of this growth in Islamaphobia. Yes, I said BEAUTY. Subhanallah, if you’re to look at the positive things that have come out of this you’ll see a lot of good coming out of it---namely it forcing Muslims to think about their identity and religion and go back to their religious texts. You’ll see Muslims who really not practicing before becoming better Muslims due to this. You’ll see non-Muslims although initially having bitter hatred to Islam becoming interested in Islam. You’ll see people converting to Islam. I kind of feel this is Allah’s dawah in a sense because as a whole the Muslims have been lacking in doing dawah. What does that tell us as Muslims? Are we truly serving Allah’s deen to our utmost ability? This is really a mercy of Allah upon the Muslims that he’s bestowed us with this challenge of Islamaphobia because it’s forcing us to search deep within ourselves to figure out who we are, where we stand on issues, and forcing us to come back to Allah. Allah’s dawah is two-fold, it’s calling Muslims and non-Muslims back to Islam. So let’s not be emotional about the pictures, the words, the actions taken by Islamaphobes---they’re looking for a fight, don’t give it to them and take the higher ground. Let’s look to Quran and Sunnah for answers of how to conquer this Islamaphobia. We certainly should know that we’ve been blessed by Allah’s dawah so let’s answer Allah’s call!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Usually when i write these, it's a long drawn out process where i revise and edit everything in Word, and then copy and paste, and look over it again and again....but with Ramadhan basically here, I chose to write straight from the heart, whatever is on my mind, straight into the text box...no edits, no revisions, no overview.
There's a lot of static in the world right now...a lot of black and white. A lot of killing and shooting...a lot of abusing and raping...a lot of looting and pillaging...a lot of starving and dying.
And even beyond the old cliche argument of "holding hands and saving the world", we all have our own issues to deal with, i.e. school, work, family, personal issues, etc.
It certainly seems like Ramadhan came at the perfect time...but when doesn't it?
That's what makes this month so special. For 29-30 days, it's almost like being in another world. Even amidst the issues that our world is facing in these times, there's a certain peace of mind during this month that I can't quite explain.
I'm amazed at how every year, around/during Ramadhan, so many people's Facebook profiles and statuses all of a sudden become so socio-conscious, or just disappear all together, even amongst people who may not be like-minded throughout the year. But I'm not amazed because I think of some people as being any less...Quite the contrary. I'm amazed because it shows the beauty of the human character in its innate nature...when it doesn't dwell on the negative and perverted elements of our world...when it lets that beauty pour out.
Let's showcase that beauty for the rest of our peeps on this planet. At the very least, it'll give them something else to watch on TV besides the black & white static they see everyday.
God Bless. Ramadhan Kareem.
Monday, July 19, 2010
O you who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and do not follow the footsteps of Satan, for he is to you an avowed enemy. (2: 208)
So we’ve probably all heard this Quran ayah many times before, but recently something hit me when I read this ayah again.
As we can see it says “do not follow the footsteps of Satan.” When we remember the words of Shaytaan to Allah:
"Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies)." [15:17]
Thus Shaytaan will find any way to guide us and mislead us. So one trick of Shaytaan is to not blatantly whisper “Go do xyz sin” rather he will lead you gradually towards that sin i.e. you will follow his footsteps towards that sin. So what exactly do I mean by this?
Ok as an example (I’m going to get a lot of flack for pointing this out, but whatever :P) , let’s mention the gender relations between guys and girls. So we may say “salaam” to a certain brother or a sister with pure intentions (that’s ok). However, what happens sometimes is Shaytaan whispers to us and says “ask for his/her email/screenname, etc.” (got to email her) And then you ask her for her number (got to ask her for notes). And then you ask her to meet you somewhere for a project (got to do school work). And then you start chilling outside of an MSA atmosphere. And as you see these are all ways Shaytaan tricks us to lead us down into temptation and sin. These are the footsteps we follow and don’t realize until it’s too late.I’m not saying we can’t work with others in a halaal manner, but often times it reaches that point where it becomes questionable.
We’ve all done this to a certain degree and we’re all guilty. Maybe not this specific scenario, but we have fallen into sin similarly. For others it may have been cheating on a test, justifying lying, etc.
I’ve heard so many excuses for some actions, one of which was “it’s ok we’re liberal” or one was “only God can judge.” People will come up with every excuse to justify their action and will be around those who support them in their sin or disobedience. Think about it… you won’t hang out with pious people and feel compelled to back bite or slander people. But you will feel more comfortable with those who are backbiting and slandering as you are. Those people will not keep you in check or call you out for your backbiting. People’s egos sometimes are far too strong for them to receive naseeha (sincere advice) from others or perhaps they may be having trouble overcoming that sin. Therefore it’s crucial for them to find better company to pull them away from that sin and also pull them up spiritually and increase their imaan. Sometimes giving naseeha to someone who is not ready can backfire and cause more harm than good if not done in a positive manner.
That was just one example, extreme maybe, but it’s a scenario that happens frequently. As for other examples, there are plenty. We just need to do some soul-searching and self-evaluation to see that we ourselves justify. It’s a slippery slope from when you initially make the haraam seem more halaal.
Another further example is when we can’t control our tongues when we keep company with the wrong people. Certain groups of friends may engage in backbiting, slander, or mockery of other people and you either join in or keep silent. Most of us join in and end up accumulating sins—very rarely do we step in to tell our friends or family to refrain from this. We may be the best of Muslims and pray, fast, pay zakah, even stay up all night in prayer but one sin such as backbiting might eat up those good deeds immediately, thus negating all of our good deeds.
We sometimes become lax in the commandments of Allah and find short cuts to fulfill some commandments. We pray salah late or in a rush, we sin and say “Allah is Merciful” and have this arrogance that somehow we are entitled to jannah, we lie, cheat, and hurt our own brothers and sisters (Islamically and biologically), fathers, mothers and relatives and think that in the end that we will be forgiven. Little sins eventually build up and will become a huge burden on the heart of a Muslim. We claim to be Muslim yet we neglect foundational commandments of Allah and His Messenger. How can we claim to be Muslim when we neglect to tell the truth, treat our own families and friends harshly, and commit the most heinous of sins with no remorse. The Prophet SAW’s character was the reason many turned to Islam and heart’s were inclined to the Truth. If we neglect to purify our character and continually justify smaller sins then who is to say we won’t justify the larger sins? Who is to say our smaller sins won’t lead us to Hell?
It’s a scary thought if we think about it. We’re essentially representatives of Islam and most importantly of the Prophet SAW and his message and if we are not acting in accordance to his teachings and the commandments of Allah then we are not adequately representing Islam in its truest form and are doing a great disservice and dishonor to the sacrifice of the Prophet SAW and his efforts to give us the beautiful gift of Islam.
Let’s not be those mentioned in this ayah:
And others have confessed their faults, they have mingled a good deed and evil one; maybe Allah will turn to them (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (9:102)
We need to check our intentions as well as our actions when we approach any situation. Because what we may think may be innocent may actually turn out to be completely haraam or dangerous for us spiritually. Once you justify that sin or bad deed it leads to further bigger sins and problems for you spiritually and it can lead to diseases of the heart which are often hard to cure. Small sins will essentially chip away at our imaan and ultimately fall into Shaytaan’s trap and move farther away from Allah.
We should never say that “Allah is all Merciful and will forgive us” thus sin and do everything against Allah’s commandments and disobey the orders of His Messenger (SAW). If even the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet SAW) trembled and were fearful of whether they’d be permitted into Paradise and forgiven for the smallest of their sins where does that put us in relation to them and their fear? Has our fear of Allah left our hearts? I speak to myself first and foremost when I say that we need to check our intentions, be careful of our actions, and lastly and most importantly ensure we are not following the footsteps of Shaytaan, rather we should follow the footsteps of the Prophet SAW.
Muslims today face not only so-called “Islamaphobia” and hatred for Islam, but rather face a new enemy (or enemies). These enemies are what I call "enemies from within"(within Muslims) who are working to undermine and destroy the foundation of Islam and Muslims.
Enemy #1: RELIGIOUS RADICALS (SALAFIS, WAHAABIS, etc.)
First and foremost the most obvious are the extremists (Salafis, Wahaabis, etc.). Often these extremist ideologies are due to ignorance, political agendas and a mix of culture and Islam in some areas of the world. The danger of these extremists is their destroying of Islam’s image, turning Muslims and non-Muslims away from Islam, confusing the masses to what Islam truly is among other problems. Unfortunately, this mentality has trickled down into some of the Muslims living in Europe and America. We see overzealous brothers in our college campuses going haywire when they even see a sister as if her very existence is an insult to them. These people are ignorant and think they know Islam and Quran, when in fact these people are the most ignorant about Islam. These people turn not only Muslims away from Islam but also non-Muslims in these ignorant actions.
This problem can simply be solved by education. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nations in the Middle East and Africa that are so-called “Muslim” nations need to implement education systems that address the masses of uneducated individuals there. This is needed in rural and third world countries such as Sudan and Pakistan in their respective regions of cultural mixes of Islam and native cultures. This however, is more easier said than done. So what do we do as Muslims living here in America? We can just say “No, no that’s not Islam” or we can SHOW people that it’s not Islam in our actions and character. In fact most of the reasons people converted to Islam in the early history of Islam was due to the Prophet’s SAW actions and character. Think of how big of a change that would be. I’m not downplaying the impact of dawah, we should in fact step up the dawah and start spreading the message far stronger in order to educate the masses here in America. The old adage is true “Knowledge is power.” If we educate Muslims and non-Muslims about the truth about Islam, we can truly change the perception of Islam and improve our situation.
This can create ripple effect perhaps overseas as well. If we look into American history the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s caused a worldwide change of the perception of African-American. So we as Muslims have a lot to learn from the struggle of the African-Americans causing change here in America.
Enemy #2: PROGRESSIVE MUSLIMS
Secondly, the second enemy is the so-called “progressive” Muslims. I’ve seen this as a growing trend here in America and abroad. We see these movements such as “Anti-Shariah” and Project Nur amongst others and also the recent phenomenon of masjid "pray-ins".
These groups seek to undermine the foundation of Islam by what I like to call “watering-down” Islam to make it seem more acceptable to others. For example, many of the events sponsored by Project Nur are not Islamic at all in any sense. They seek to create an image of Muslims as an “ethnic” or “cultural group.” Seriously, if you pick and choose your religion is it Islam anymore? They seek to downplay some core Islamic beliefs under the guise of “building bridges.”
I’m not saying interfaith is not important, but when you’re not giving the full picture of your religion, aren’t you deceiving the other side of the truth of your religion? Islam doesn’t need a reformation like Christianity did. We are perfectly fine with the message Allah has sent to use and the Sunnah (way of life) of his Prophet (peace be upon him). We don’t need to change a letter or a verse to please anyone----this religion rather way of life, is God-given. Why should we have to change ourselves and our beliefs to please others ---are you not losing your identity?
As for the new phenomenon of "pray-ins" in the name of gender equality and women's rights is totally counter productive. If change is to come it will come in the form of dialogue not disturbing the peace at masjids and hurting other Muslims by labelling them "extremists" and "wahaabi." What good is that going to do? Yes, masjids and largely the Muslim community do have cultural/traditional issues that do clash with Islam and the women's prayer sections do have problems at some masjids. However, to "pray-in" in a masjid and disturb the peace in the House of Allah and disturb other worshiper to make a political statement is totally unacceptable. This is not how the Prophet SAW operated when he saw an issue arising within the Muslims in Madinah (refer to the incident when the bedouin urinated in the masjid). Let's not try to pander to others in the name of "human rights" or "women's rights." If progressive claim to believe in the perfection of Islam, then they should not approach their fellow Muslims with such harshness. Islam is perfect, Muslims aren't.
Somehow it is in the minds of some progressives that Islamic principles make Muslims feel inferior or not as open-minded as other communities. Islamaphobes call on Islam to condemn or take out certain beliefs or verses from the Quran in order to be accepted in modern "civilized" society. We do not change Islam for anyone or any time to please anyone. Yes there are differing schools of thought, but when it comes to the very foundational principles of Islam---those do not change. The touchy subject of homosexuality has somehow been thrown on the Muslims as yet another attack on the "strict" and "backward" nature of Islam. However, if we look at other religious communities they do not accept homosexuality either, so let's not be so quick to point fingers. I do agree Muslims need to address the issue and not push it under the rug, but to allow for the permissibility of homosexuality, no that is changing foundational beliefs of Islam.
The very undermining of core Islamic principles is not Islam at all if progressive Muslims are seeking to help Islam and Muslims it’s about time that they gave people the truth about Islam and the full message, not a half-truth. Islam has nothing to be ashamed about---we have nothing to hide. If we begin to pick and choose what we like and don't like, then does that really mean that's Islam? When we argue that women are not equal because they stand behind men in prayer is that not changing the sunnah of the Prophet SAW? To argue that men and women should pray side by side to show equality---is that not changing the sunnah of the Prophet SAW? How did the way we worship Allah become a political issue? Sometimes I feel that the progressive Muslims get confused with the attacks on Islam and seek to mold Islam into a religion that pleases Islamaphobes. This is clearly an insecurity amongst progressive Muslims. Islam did not come down to please Man's ego or his desires, rather it came down to improve his spiritual state by submitting himself to a Higher Divine Being and overriding his desires/ego by following the Divine's orders even if they go against his ego or desires. That is Islam.
Now, how do we solve the problem of so-called “progressive” Muslims? There are way too many "progressive" groups out there that have different agendas (there's Al-Fatiha that supports gay Muslims and homosexuality in Islam and then there's the whole pray-in movement which seeks to place women and men in the same prayer space and have women lead salah). So it's a rather challenging question with the numerous agendas out there, I really don’t have a solid answer for , but one thing we can do is contact these groups and help them realize their mission statements and goals are flawed. If they truly want to help Islam and Muslims they should do so with ISLAM in mind, not personal and political agendas. I’ve met quite a few self-proclaimed “Muslim activists” who say they are working for Islam, yet at the same time when they climb the corporate/political ladders and reach their positions they sell their souls and lose their Islamic identities quite fast. So let's all get back on the same page and not be so hasty to jump when someone tells us "Islam is so backwards." THINK PEOPLE. THINK!
All in all we need to realize the danger that each of these enemies are both extreme cases. One is extreme Islamically(strict conservative mixed with culture) and the other is completely anti-Islamic(liberal and a-religious). The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade/warned of going to extremes:
Indeed the deen is ease. And anyone that goes to excess( ie extreme) will not be successful, he will be defeated. Be of middle ground without going from one extreme to another (being too strict or too loose) and stay close to what’s right.
Thus we have two Muslim groups on either side of the spectrum destroying Islam and Muslims’ image. In the Quran we are a “ummah justly balanced””:
"Thus we have made of you an ummah justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over you." (Quran 2:143)
We need to save the future of Islam and Muslims. We should fight extremism in whatever form it may come in and fight for our own destiny and not let others determine our future---be they backward Salafis or “modern”/“progressive” Muslims here in America.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The war started over dishes.
A woman said to another "I will wash the dishes!"
The other said "No! Do not shame me! I will wash the dishes!"
The first, obviously offended, shook her head and reached for a dish.
The other quickly reached for another and ran for the soap and sponge.
The first, in a rush of anger, and the other, also full of rage, both exclaimed at once
"By Allah I will wash ALL these dishes!"
The ladies of the tribe all gasped at the oaths that had been taken.
Who would wash the dishes, and who would die trying?
note: It is tradition in the Pashtun culture for guests to try to wash the dishes of the one who has invited them. Even if they don't really want to...they still pretend like they do...
They will say things like "no no no...do you think i am old? is that why you won't let me wash them?"
Much oath making takes place..usually on things they shouldn't make oaths over (Quran, their expensive dishes, their children's heads)
Eventually one overcomes the other, usually by swearing by Allah.
Then the one who washes dishes listens to the other say things like "I can't believe you are washing them...sister you have shamed me, I swear you have...tsk tsk tsk...ok now you've done enough...i swear you have...ok just let me do these...you go sit and have tea...go! go!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
If you listen close enough, amidst all of the deforestation,you can actually hear the forest crying. It's a little hard to hear it, above the sounds of chainsaws and bulldozers, but if you don't use your ears, you can definitely hear the trees, the bushes, the grass....everything. And the effects are seismic. Over time, a lot of trees, giants in fact, towering over forests and communities have been wiped out. Whether that be by outsiders, or even from within our communities. You see, some want the glory of shining in the Sun, some want to hold positions of authority over others, and some simply just don't like the fruits that a tree or any other plant has to offer.
And the interesting thing about trees, is that when you cut them down, the surrounding forest or environment suffers. Whether it's the fact that others use the trees for the fruit they produce, or that the trees give shade to everyone underneath them, or even the fact that other smaller trees and plants look towards them in awe and admiration...they play a pivotal role in the survival of an ecosystem. Trees give us the oxygen we need to survive....In that light, our current condition should start to make more sense.
We need to start planting more trees.
We need to start taking care of our seeds, and we need to show them how to get to The Light that they need to survive and to be successful.
And it starts with planting seeds in fertile, nourishing soil, not just any convenient spot we find. Our seeds have to grow up in healthy environments. We have to bring them up by providing them with access to The Light. We have to be there for them.
But we also have to recognize that we all have roles to play. Everything in a forest has a specific purpose, and all the members of a forest come in different shapes, and sizes, and colors. We must realize this, and support one another so the forest as a whole can survive and prosper.
Not of all us can be Sequoias. But that doesn't make us any less important. Whether we are the giant Oak trees bordering the skies above, the green grass carpeting the Earth, or simply a single petal on a Water Lilly, we are all beautiful.
If we can realize this, then possibly we can grow upwards, ascending towards The Light and into the heavens. If not, then we'll just end up dead, like the withered arms of trees in the wintertime.
If you have seen or heard any goodness in this, that goodness comes from The Light, The Guide, and you should be thankful to Him for that. If you see any weakness or shortcomings, than it is from me, and I ask The Most Exalted and the people to forgive me for that. Ameen.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Many times we take for granted the beautiful way of life we call Islam. Even further we neglect the teachings of Islam we learn about in Islamic Saturday or Sunday schools or from our parents. We limit the teachings of Islam to the five pillars of Islam whenever someone asks us about what Islam is. Rather we need to stress and explain to others when asked about Islam the noble virtues, morals, ethics, and standards Islam challenges us to reach. Most of us have pretty much established at least a minimum out of the 5 pillars of Islam…so one must ask, what’s next?
Let’s look into one particular concept that Muslims today neglect: feeding the needy, taking care of the orphans and the poor. This is constantly mentioned in the Quran---for us to feed the hungry, aid the poor, etc. Yet rarely do we see our own communities fulfilling this commandment. Most Christian organizations and others are superseding Muslims in this completely. Have we forgotten our own commandments from our own holy book?
Alhamdullilah we have generous brothers and sisters who donate to causes, organizations, masaajid, etc. and there reward is certainly with Allah and we also have many college MSAers and others doing alot community service wise. However, what is needed even more by the Muslim community is action to change the condition of those around them. We need to go beyond just writing a check or giving a few dollars in the sadaqah box and feel satisfied that we have fulfilled some right. We need to stress the need for community service in our communities...we need to emphasize action. We must proactively seek to help those in need. Living in DC for four years taught me that as rich and powerful a nation as the US is poverty still exists in the very heart of the nation’s capital and very much so in our communities we live in. Unfortunately what I've seen is a lack of emphasis on community service and this has to change.
We often complain about the condition of Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Pakistan, etc. We get heated over atrocities, saddened over devastating natural disasters, and discouraged by the divisions of the Muslims. Yet are we truly doing anything to rectify our situation? Is it really truly enough to just go to the masjid, go home, eat and sleep? Have we become a people with no feelings for our own brothers and sisters---for those who are suffering? Have we become a people complacent with the world the way it is? Have we become comfortable in our houses and say “Oh that’s not us as long as we have our fridges stocked with food, cars, and homes, we’re fine”? Let us not be of those mentioned in Surah al-Maun:
1.Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? 2. That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly), 3. And urges not the feeding of AlMiskin (the poor)…
(Surah al-Maun: 1-3)
While we may not be able to reach out to our brothers and sisters overseas and comfort them and help them, we certainly have so many opportunities within our communities to benefit society. The concept we must follow is “think globally, act locally.” I used to tell friends of mine in DC that on the Day of Judgment it certainly would be scary to be short a few good deeds despite having so many right in front of our faces….literally the streets of downtown Washington, DC are full of homeless, hungry and poor individuals. Each homeless individual is a good deed waiting to be collected by a Muslim—if only we reached out and collected that good deed. Not only does this benefit you, but your act of kindness is an act of dawah in itself. Let us not limit our charitable deeds to not only Muslims, but everyone, because ultimately our reward is with Allah and we do not discriminate in our charitable deeds:
“We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.” (Al-Insan 76:9)
Imagine if we as Muslims were to go out in numbers we can only imagine and eradicate poverty, hunger, and other social ailments within our communities. Imagine the impact that could have on the image of Islam and Muslims in the world. We complain about how people perceive us, so let’s change it! Establish a Project Downtown (make sandwiches and bag lunches and go feed the homeless in your community), visit a homeless shelter, visit an assisted living home,support local refugee communities--- serve your community! And let us not make this a one-time done deal thing, do it consistently to really have an impact on the community around you.
This is not an unachievable goal, rather you need not look far, but Muslim communities are making large impacts in their communities around the US. Check out the UMMA Clinic in California a free healthcare clinic that serves 95% non-Muslims in the South LA area. Think of the impact of that act of kindness does for the image of Islam and Muslims. So let us not limit Islam to the five pillars of Islam---Islam is so much more and we are meant to be so much more and do much more than we are now.
Below are a few links to the projects/organizations I mentioned and a few others:
1) Summer Community Service Campaign (United We Serve: Muslim Americans Answer the Call---over 3,000 community service projects nationwide by Muslim organizations):
2) UMMA Clinic in LA:
3) Project Downtown: Orlando
4) Project Hope: Atlanta (initiative to help refugees in Atlanta area):
Monday, May 17, 2010
Bagh-e-Firdous (the Garden of Firdous)
in Alexandria, VA
Firdous = highest level of paradise
this is the cemetery my grandmother is buried at...Allah Yarhamuha
when we go to visit her grave we also go past the other graves and pray for them as well....i always look at the years on the plaques and gravestones...some of them were just kids...
i recall dramatic stories i heard from the mothers...like of the boy who didn't listen to his mother and stormed out of the house which made his mother 'bad dwa' (to make a bad dua/supplication) him...and then on his way home he died in a horrible car accident, after which the mother blamed herself and went insane...
then i make dua they are at peace and hope that the angels will say Amin for me...
May Allah give us and them all Jannatul Firdous
Subhanallah...i still catch myself saying 'when i grow up...'
i'm turning 23 at the end of the month...in another 23 years i'll be 46...
i can barely recall the past 23 years of my life...where will the next 23 go?
This earthly life no one retrieves
He enters once and once he leaves
So do not spurn
Your first and only turn
The water bubble you should pay
Attention to, if your own days
You wish to count
They come to that amount
Saturday, May 15, 2010
you know how in movies they have someone who is sitting alone outside under a tree calmly reading a book..? i can't do that. there are way too many distractions..like the bug on the side of the book, or the grass scratching at the bit of exposed ankle, or the cars driving by, the squirrel that's staring at me, or the way the sun makes shadows on my pages...
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Too fuzzy? Here let me clear it up for you:
$1 U.S. = £.6708 (British Pounds)
$1 U.S. = ₱ 45.085 (Philippine Pesos)
$1 U.S. = $2024 (Columbian Pesos)
(per May 11, 2010 via Yahoo Finance’s Currency Calculator…Unfortunately I couldn’t find the rate of the Ghanian Cedi)
Now granted those statstics were as of 2006, and these exchange rates may have been susceptible to given socio-political/economic, changes, but I think it should still provide a clear picture of the situation. BUT, if it’s still a bit fuzzy, here lemme try something else:
At least 1 billion people have inadequate access to water
· Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day
2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation
· More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
Close to half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits
(The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report 2006, Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty, and the global water crisis)
Almost half of Sierra Leoneans have no access to improved drinking-water facilities, and about 7 out of 10 citizens are without adequate sanitation facilities
In India, 128 million people have no access to improved drinking water
(UNICEF’s, The State of the World’s Children Report, 2009)
A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World. (Maude Barlow, Water as Commodity—The Wrong Prescription, The Institute for Food and Development Policy, Backgrounder, Summer 2001, Vol. 7, No. 3)
Is the picture still a little fuzzy?...here, maybe this will help:
The struggle for access to water is one of the most intriguing issues of our time. I’ve always been baffled as to how arrogant people can be, to think that they can actually lay claim to “owning” water. Historically, when the Americas were “discovered” by some of the Europeans, the native inhabitants of these lands couldn’t conceptualize what it meant to “own land”. Today, it is the same idea, but the actors now include multi-national corporations.
When I was in Pakistan about 5 years ago, my mother took me to a stream in her neighborhood. She told me that when she was growing up, that stream was so clear that you could see the fish swimming in the water. If you look at it today, it looks like JIF Peanut Butter.
It saddens me.
But what saddens me more, is the lack of awareness.
I mean sure, there has been progress. Improvements have been made over the years. But I just don’t think it’s enough. I don’t see it talked about often. Even amongst a lot of kids whose parents immigrated to this country, I just wonder if they actually think about what people who lack access to something so simple (yet so important) really go through.
HOWEVER…the problem isn’t just in a far off region in Pakistan…or a city in Bolivia…or a village in sub-Saharan Africa…it’s hitting close to home…
Last month, the Huffington Post reported how water privatization could effect Chicago:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/19/forum-on-water-privatizat_n_543205.html
It would be ignorant to assume that there is nobody in this country who lacks access to water…Just ask anyone who was down in New Orleans and suffered through Katrina.
Instead of spending billions of dollars on war efforts, wouldn’t it be worth to give, at least one, of those billions of dollars towards combating water-related issues?
I’m sure the $2024 Columbian Pesos would be quite beneficial.
If you have seen or heard any goodness in this note, that goodness comes from The Preserver, The Sustainer and you should be thankful to Him for that. If you see any weakness or shortcomings in this note, than that weakness is from me, and I ask The Possessor of Majesty and Honor, and the people, to forgive me for that. Ameen.