Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jan 2013 Book Club choice

For December I decided against my choice but for January I got my hands on the book I first saw at RIS last year at RIS this year. Yes I Would Love Another Cup of Tea is the choice for the new year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Standard of Evaluation
Surah al-Maidah (The Table) Chapter 5: Verse 100
"(O Prophet Muhammad) say to them: 'The evil (khabeeth) and the good (tayyib) are not equal, even though the abundance of the evil things might make you pleased with them. (So) beware of disobeying Allah, O people of understanding, so that you may attain success."
This verse outlines for us a standard of evaluation quite distinct from the standards used by the superficial people. For such people, for instance, a hundred dollars are worth more than five dollars, since a hundred is more than a five. But, according to this verse, if those hundred dollars have been earned through corrupt means, entailing the disobedience of God (such as by stealing, usurping the wealth of orphans or the weak, selling Haram or forbidden things, or through Riba or interest), the entire amount becomes unclean.
On the other hand, if a person earns five dollars while obeying God, then this amount is clean and honourable; and anything which is unclean, whatever its quantity, cannot be worth more than that which is clean. A drop of perfume is more valuable than a heap of filth; a just ruler is more worthy of obedience and allegiance than a thousand evil, corrupt, and tyrannical leaders of the nations; a young boy or girl who spends his or her youth remembering Allah, helping others physically and spiritually, studying hard, calling others for the establishment of good, peace, and justice in the world, and helping others stay away from evil, is far more productive and dignified than hundreds of superficial youth surrounded by and subservient to their own desires, devoid of any higher purpose in life, driven by the latest fad and fashion, and who are consumers of whatever the media wants them to know, see, and buy! Surely they can't be equal!
Yusuf Ali (may Allah have mercy on his soul) writes: "People often judge by quantity rather than quality. They are dazzled by numbers: their hearts are captured by what they see everywhere around them. But the people of understanding and depth judge by a different standard. They know that good and bad things are not to be lumped together, and carefully choose the best, which may be scarcest, and avoid the bad, though evil may meet them at every step," such as through ads, media, peer pressure, cultural practices, etc.
It is interesting to note the following incidence, related by Imam al-Shafi'ee (may Allah have mercy on his soul), in this connection: When 'Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (a renowned righteous and just Caliph from Umayyad dynasty) cancelled all the tyrannous taxes and returned the wealth and property that had been misappropriated by the rulers before him, one of his governors wrote to him and complained that by annulling taxes and returning the wealth to their owners, 'Umar had emptied the state treasury. Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote back to him this verse: "The evil and the good are not equal, even though the abundance of the evil things might make you pleased with them."
Compiled From:
"Tafseer Ishraq Al-Ma'ani" - Syed Iqbal Zaheer
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Healthy Relations
Ali Ibn Abi Talib reported, "When I took possession of the weapon of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, I found in the hilt of the sword a parchment saying, 'Keep relations with those who cut you off, behave well towards those who treat you badly, and speak the truth even if it is against yourself.'" [As-Saheehah of Abu Amr Ibnus Sammak]
Twentieth century media has tried to project Islam and Muslims as intolerant fundamentalists, but the truth of Allah's revelation stands clear from falsehood. This Hadith clearly directs the believers who will receive this legacy through Ameer-ul-Mumineen, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, to deal with all people in tolerance, forgiveness and truth.
This legacy, also, gives us a powerful lesson in conflict resolution. One of the greatest obstacles in the path of progress is disunity, but many of our differences and misunderstandings could be overcome if we would speak the truth at all times and recognize others if they are correct. Humility before Allah and others is not a weakness but a source of power that can cement our ranks and lead to healthy, fruitful relations.
Compiled From:
"The Forty Ahaadeeth on Islamic Revival" - Abdullah Hakim Quick, pp. 30, 31

Cool Tips!
To achieve the ultimate goal in life requires a sustained determination to do so, a willpower that is forever responsive and strong. In Quranic terminology this is called irada. Irada is basic to all our efforts. Without willing to do something you cannot do anything. Irada is the key to our self and character-development
Irada is very different from desire. You always hear people reflecting upon unfulfilled aspirations. One of the main reasons why aspirations and dreams remain unfulfilled is that they are no more than desires which faded to assume the status of irada. The Quran explains that one of the basic weaknesses in human nature which prevents our self-development is the weakness of will. [Ta Ha 20: 115]
Irada to change your life requires strength and consistency and is indeed the antithesis of doubt or hesitation. Once your irada is firmly in place, then you must have no doubts and you must not hesitate.
Now, what purpose should irada serve? The Quran (Al Isra 17:19) makes it clear that this willpower must be a firm resolve to seek the pleasure of Allah because this is the part of the bargain that you must deliver.
Compiled From:
"In the Early Hours" - Khurram Murad

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Muslim Stuff on Etsy

From time to time I check out what's new for Muslims on etsy. I learned about etsy after my daughter opened up an online shop there. There are other Muslims too and I'll share some items I found to be interesting.For a newlywed gift check out this. For a baby check out this.For kids this and this. For ladies looking for a Malaysian style hijab check out this. (its made by a non-Malaysian interestingly). More kids stuff here.
For everyone try this.

That's just a taste. Be sure to explore yourself. I usually just type in Muslim or Islam or both. Happy hunting. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Eternal Truth
Al-Anam (The Cattle) Chapter 6: Verse 25 (partial)
"... and the disbelievers among them dismiss what you tell them as nothing but old tales."
We have all heard educated person refer to the Quran as something out-of-date. This is not a phenomenon peculiar to our age. Even in the days of the Prophet there were people who found nothing new in the Quran. They used to dismiss the earlier revealed books in a similar fashion. It is customary with a certain kind of people that whenever they are invited to the path of righteousness they say, 'we have heard all this before. You are saying nothing new.' As if for a statement to be true it must also be new and whatever is old must necessarily be false. Truth is eternal. It does not change though our understanding of it might change with the passage of time. Those who instruct people in the light of divine guidance present universal truths. But there are people who pride themselves on the originality of their minds and are prepared to ignore the universal in their anxiety to produce something novel or unique.
Compiled From:
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol 2, pp. 223, 224
"Translations from The Quran" - Altaf Gauhar, pp. 103-105

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
'Arrogance' is a word with a bad reputation and so many negative connotations. Sadly, the word 'confidence' comes too close to it for most women to recognize the difference. The fear of being seen as arrogant and conceited has stopped many women from achieving to their highest potential.
Oftentimes, we can't even celebrate the good things in our life because of an almost irrational fear of arrogance. For Muslim women, the struggle can be even more pronounced because we're instilled with the idea that humbleness is a great virtue. Indeed, humility is a merit; however the definition of humility in relation to that of arrogance needs a more in-depth analysis. Or a simpler one.
Consider the saying of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, when asked about the topic:
"Arrogance," he said, "is to reject the truth and to look down on people." (reported by Muslim)
Compiled From:
"Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba!" - Heba Alshareef, pp. 59, 60
Membership of Humanity
It is important to ask our religions, philosophies, cultures and societies what meaning they give to our loyalties. We have to evaluate our postulates and beliefs, our idea of truth and men, and even, to be more specific, our personal philosophies, our nations and our societies. This conscious and critical attitude is an essential condition if we are not to become trapped in our existing loyalties. When that happens, we deny, or greatly relativize, our primary membership of humanity. Any moral teaching, on the part of any religion, spirituality or philosophy, that might lead us to ignore the common humanity of all men, to deny the dignity of some men, or to establish distinctions and an ontological hierarchy between beings must be critically evaluated because it can have serious and dangerous implications.
Many factors explain why such teachings have emerged. Sometimes, the problem lies in the very fundamentals of a tradition, as is the case with the theory of castes. In most cases, however, it is dogmatic or reductive interpretations of the founding texts that lead to exclusivist, closed or inquisitorial approaches. The closed minds of certain scholars, specific cultural features or even historical circumstances - being in a position of power or, at the opposite extreme, experiencing oppression or rejection - may bring about interpretations or theories that reduce 'belonging' to meaning membership of one to a single religious community, or to the supposed supremacy of one ideology or to blind nationalism. The very idea of our common humanity is then called into question or even denied. We have to think critically and we always have to begin anew, because no religion, spirituality or human or political philosophy is immune to closed interpretations, to abuses of power or to the instrumentalization of the feeling of being a victim. Scholars, theologians, philosophers and intellectuals must constantly strive to recapture the essence of the human and humanist teachings that lie at the heart of every religion, philosophy or tradition. This is a requirement of faith, the heart and the mind. In the name of our primary membership of humanity, we must never deny the common and equal dignity of all human beings.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 69, 70

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Urge for Sleep
Al-Rum (The Romans) Chapter 30: Verse 23
"And of His Signs is your sleep, at night or day as well as your search for His bounties. In this, behold, there are messages indeed for those who pay heed."
Allah has made day and night for work and sleep respectively. But this is not a hard and fast law. So during both day and night we may sleep as well as work our livelihood. This Sign identifies that Allah is not only the Creator but is also extremely Compassionate and Merciful in that He arranges for the needs and requirements of His creatures.
Allah has placed a powerful urge for sleep in mankind. Sleep overtakes man and compels him to have a few hours of rest in order to be refreshed.
Man has further been given the appropriate limits and suitable physical and mental capabilities for exploring the means and resources of his livelihood.
Compiled From:
"Words That Moved the World" - Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, p. 69

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Light of Faith
Amir ibn Abd Qais stated, "I heard more than one, two or three of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, 'The Lamp of the faith or the Light of the faith is al-tafakkur (contemplation and reflection).'" [Ibn Kathir]
In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, contemplation and reflection is one important tool of purification (and an act of worship in itself) that is often neglected. Indeed, it seems as though Satan and his troops have a major plan for the humans of the Twenty-First Century: keep them so busy and preoccupied that they have no time to reflect upon what they are truly here for, what they should be doing and what their priorities should be.
One of the greatest blessings that Allah has bestowed upon humans is the human mind and its ability to reflect and understand. When a person uses that mind in the proper way and according to its potential he should be led directly to the truth of God's oneness and a strong desire to worship the one God. On the other hand, if a person uses his mind simply to ponder over more ways to enjoy himself in useless pursuits and lusts, he will not have benefited from this great blessing and he will have wasted something that could have greatly helped in saving his very soul.
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Soul" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 326, 327

Immovable Trunk
A personal mission statement is like a personal credo or motto that states what your life is about. It is like the blueprint to your life. Countries have constitutions, which function just like a mission statement. And most companies, like Microsoft and Coca-Cola, have mission statements. But they work best with people.
The most important thing writing a mission statement will do is open your eyes to what's really important to you and help you make decisions accordingly.
A personal mission statement is like a tree with deep roots. It is stable and isn't going anywhere, but it is also alive and continually growing.
You need a tree with deep roots to help you survive all of the storms of life that beat you up. As you've probably noticed already, life is anything but stable. Think about it. People are fickle. You're someone's best friend one day, and they're talking behind your back the next.
Think about all of the events you can't control. You have to move. You lose your job. The country is at war.
Fads come and go. Sweaters are popular one year and on their way out the next. Rap music is the thing. Rap music stinks.
While everything about you changes, a personal mission statement can be your deep-rooted tree that never moves. You can deal with change if you have an immovable trunk to hang on to.
Compiled From:
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" - Sean Covey, pp. 81-83

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Stages of Soul
Al-Qiyamah (The Resurrection) Chapter 75: Verse 2
"And I swear by the self-accusing human soul."
Self-training, or the training of the soul, has been accepted as an extremely important element of the Divine Religion. This training, according to some schools in Islam, has seven stages as alluded in the Quran:
1. If the soul lives only a life of ease in the swamp of carnal appetites, it is the evil-commanding soul (nafs al-ammarah).
2. If it falters time and again while following the way of the Religion to attain piety and righteousness, but each time that it falters it criticizes itself and turns to its Lord, then it is the self-accusing soul (nafs al-lawwamah).
3. The soul which always resists evil in devotion to God and is favoured with certain Divine gifts in proportion to its purity is called the soul receiving inspiration (nafs al-mulhimah).
4. When it reaches the point where it has a relation with its Lord in perfect devotion and sincerity, such that its consciousness is at rest, it is the soul at rest (nafs al-mutmainnah).
5. If it has reached the station where it abandons all its choices and is a representative of Divine will, it is the soul pleased with God (nafs ar-radiyah).
6. When its greatest aim is acquiring God's good pleasure and approval, such that it is always acting with this end in consideration of, "I am pleased with You, so be pleased with me," then it is the soul with which God is pleased (nafs al-mardiyyah).
7. Finally, the soul which has been perfectly purified of all sins and evil morals and has the capacity to be completely adorned with the full manifestations of Divine Qualities and Prophetic will-power and resolution is called the soul perfected or the soul pure (nafs az-zakiyyah or nafs as-safiyah).
Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 1188

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Simple Request
The ultimate goal of every believer should be to earn the pleasure of Allah, and, through it, Paradise. So if this really is the goal of the believer, he should ask for it in every single dua that he makes, day and night, morning and evening. And if a person finds that he does not ask frequently for Paradise, then he must ask himself how important it is to him, and re-evaluate the priorities that he has made for himself.
Once the Prophet, peace be upon him, asked a Bedouin which duas he recited in his prayer? The Bedouin responded: "I say may tashahhud, and then I ask Allah for Paradise, and seek His refuge from the Fire of Hell. For verily, by Allah, I am not able to comprehend (and memorise) your humming or the humming of Muadh!" So the Prophet responded, bemusedly: "And around these two requests we hum!"
So this poor Bedouin, who used to pray behind the Prophet and Muadh ibn Jabal, admitted that he did not know the 'complicated' duas that the Prophet used to recite, and, therefore, was forced to ask something very simple. The Prophet responded that all of these 'complicated' duas that he used to make were, in reality, summarised in his simple request for Paradise, and seeking refuge from the Fire of Hell.
Compiled From:
"Dua: The Weapon of the Believer"- Yasir Qadhi, pp. 218, 219
Prayer of the Mind
Muslim spirituality is demanding and, through the Islamic teaching, touches all the dimensions of life. It begins, at the very moment when one becomes aware of one's human responsibilities before God and among humanity, by finding in oneself "the need of Him." The return to one's self gives birth to a feeling of humility that characterizes the human being before God. This humility should spread wide and deep through all the areas of life: at every stage of working on one's self there wiil be a struggle against complacency, pride, and the pretentious human desire to succeed alone, using one's own resources (on the social, professional, political, or intellectual level). This truly spiritual exercise goes beyond the framework of ritual religious practice or rare moments of contemplation, and its effect should be visible in every aspect of life - in the way which one treats one's body, manages one's possessions, carries out one's professional activities, lives with other people, and interacts with the whole of creation: in everything, those who reflect on the signs and are indwelt by "the need of Him" are invited to distance themselves from forgetfulness and arrogance.
To this state of recollection and humility must be added another concrete dimension of spiritual teaching that requires the establishment of a constant link between the demands of conscience and life choices. To ask ourselves, in every situation in life, the three fundamental questions (What is my intention in this action? What are the limits set down by my morality? What will be the consequences of the action?) will inevitably change not only our way of being but also our way of living. Our spirituality must be intelligent and question the ethical nature of all our activities, even those that appear to be the most natural and simple. This active, intelligent spirituality makes us attentive to the apparently "neutral" aspects of our life, which may sometimes have serious ethical consequence.
To ask the three questions with regards to one's profession means never to consider that any work is ethically "neutral," however scientific it may appear to be. To work for a multinational that plunders the planet, or in an armaments industry that produces death, or for banks that fuel a murderous economic order is not "to say nothing." And beyond these basic questions, the way in which one goes about one's work, and identifies with it and carries out one's responsibilities to perform the activity and to follow the rules in the best possible way, is an active and consequential spiritual undertaking with which everyone's conscience must engage.
Compiled From:
"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 122-124

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December 2012 Book Club Pick

Next month's pick is Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World. My library couldn't get this for me, not even from inter-library loan so looks like I'll have to buy this one. Does your library have it? Do you own one or have you read it already or plan to? I think I have up to April 2013 picked out for book club choices so that leaves 8 more months. Do you have any suggestions on what you'd like to read in this club? Seems like I lost all my dedicated readers. Do drop me a line! Are any of you planning on going to RIS? How many of you buy your books there?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 257 (partial)
"Those who choose the path of defiance become subservient to the minions of taghut."
The word taghut mean excess and transgression. Anyone who exceeds all legitimate limits would be called taghut. In the Quran taghut refers to a person who exceeds his position as a servant of God and sets himself up as a sovereign and compels the people to render him complete obedience. There are three stages in man's rebellion against God:
  • First, when he agrees in principle to obey but disobeys in practice. This amounts to violation or fisq.
  • Second, when he abandons the agreement in principle also and asserts his freedom to choose his own masters. This is defiance, kufr.
  • Third, when he rebels against God and establishes his own rule over land and people and forces them to carry out his commands even though they may conflict with the commands of God. By then he has turned into taghut. It is essential for a true believer to denounce and resist taghut in all forms and manifestations.
Satan is the first taghut who misleads man by offering him all kinds of temptations. The second taghut is man's own self which diverts him from the right path and makes him a slave of his own desires and impulses. Then there are innumerable manifestations of taghut including friends, relatives, family, tribe, society, nation, leaders, and men of authority. Each one of them uses man for his own purpose and having once succumbed to their control man wastes his whole life in abject subservience, never being able to satisfy all his masters fully. Taghut refers as much to an attitude of mind as to a person or a group of persons. If man is the vicegerent of God taghut is the representative of Satan.
Compiled From:
"Translations from The Quran" - Altaf Gauhar, pp. 90 - 92
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Permissible Ghibah
The Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have asked his Companions the following question: 'Do you know what ghibah is?' To this they replied, 'God and His Messenger know best.' Then the Prophet said, 'It is to mention your brother in a way that he would dislike.' A Companion then asked: 'What if that which I say concerning my brother is true?' The Prophet replied saying, 'If what you say is true then you have defamed him [by ghibah], and if he is innocent of what you say, then you have slandered him. [Muslim]
According to An-Nawawi it is permitted to tell the truth even if it technically amounts to ghibah, as a matter of necessity, in order to prevent an evil. Similarly, a witness, a petitioner, or a pleader who reveals the oppressive conduct of another, may speak about the character of a person if this would help the course of justice.
The following instances of permissible ghibah have been recorded in the writings of the ulama:
a) The law requires that judicial decisions be based on reliable evidence, which is why the Shariah makes it a duty of the judge to ascertain the reliability and just character of witnesses. This may in turn necessitate enquiry into the character and personality of the witnesses and entail revealing their weaknesses, even at the expense of indulging in ghibah.
b) The scholars of Hadith have enquired at length into the personality and character of the transmitters of Hadith so as to expose any weakness that might have a bearing on their trustworthiness.
c) Ghibah is permitted with regard to a person who is actively engaged in crime, and who openly declares his sinful activities to others without any attempt at concealing his wrongdoing.
d) Exception of ghibah has also been granted to the victim of an act of injustice to expose the facts of her case and to denounce, if need be, the oppressor and seek help against him.
e) Ghibah is once again permissible if it constitutes an integral part of sincere counsel, or nasiha. For example, it is allowable when someone consults another person as to the character of a prospective spouse, or when an individual proposes a trade partnership with someone and seeks advice about the latter's character.
f) Ghibah is also permitted if it is intended to deter its victim from crime and evil. For example, when we know someone who steals or commits other crimes but manages to keep it all hidden, and we know that he will not be deterred unless the matter is given publicity.
g) If a person is convinced of an impending harm which may threaten the safety and integrity of religion or the state unless a particular person is criticised and denounced in his absence, then the former is permitted to do so.
h) If a person's own life is endangered, then ghibah is permissible if the danger cannot be averted unless someone's weakness of character is exposed and he is openly criticised for it.
i) Lastly, the Shariah permits criticism of the views and opinions of others in pursuit of establishing righteousness and truth, even if this involves exposing a fault in the thought or character of the people concerned.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 119-122
Lessons from Karbala
Every year, in the month of Muharram, millions of Shi'as and Sunnis alike, mourn Imam Husayn's martyrdom. It is regrettable, however, that of these mourners very few focus their attention on the objective for which the Imam not only sacrificed his life but also the lives of his kith and kin.

It is but natural for his family members and those who foster feelings of love, respect and empathy for his family to express their grief over his martyrdom. The nature of this sadness and grief is apparent universally and also from those who bear relations with them. The moral appreciation and futility of this sentiment with the persona of this individual is nothing more than the love that bears out as a natural consequence with his relatives and sympathizers of his kin. But the question is, what is so particular about Imam Husayn that even though 1373 years have elapsed our grief is afresh? If his martyrdom was not for a sacred objective, the mere continuation of this remembrance on a personal level is meaningless. And in the eyes of Imam Husayn, what value would this mere personal love and devotion hold? If his own self were dearer than the objective, then he would not have sought sacrifice. His sacrifice bears witness that he held the objective dearer than his own self. Therefore, if we do not work for this objective and to the contrary work against it, our mere continuity of lamentation and the cursing of his killers will not earn us an appreciation from the Imam on the day of resurrection, nor should we expect that our actions will hold value with God.

Now, we are to ask, what was that objective? Did the Imam affirm his claim to authority and rule by virtue of personal right, for which he staked his life to vindicate his claim? Anyone who knows the high moral standard of Imam Husayn's household cannot harbour the vile notion that they would cause bloodshed among the Muslims to gain political power. Even for a moment if we consider this viewpoint acceptable - the opinion that this family held a personal right to rule- a glance at the fifty year history from Abu Bakr to Amir Muawiyah bears evidence that waging war and causing bloodshed merely to seize power had never been their motive. As a logical corollary, one has to admit that the Imam's keen eye discerned symptoms of decay and corruption in the system of Muslim society and the Islamic state, and thus he felt impelled to resist these forces --even if it required treading a path of war which he not only considered to be legitimate but an obligation as well.
A believer should not hesitate to sacrifice all that he possesses for preventing the changes which constitutes a danger to the religion of Islam and the Muslim community. One is at liberty to contemptuously disregard it as merely a maneuver for securing political power, but in the eyes of Husayn Ibn Ali, it was primarily a religious obligation. He therefore laid down his life in this cause gaining the crown of martyrdom.
Compiled From:
"Martyrdom of Imam Hussain" - Abul Ala Maududi

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur.

When we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we were supposed to take a connecting flight to Kota Bharu. But we plan and Allah plans too. On our trip from Hong Kong to KL a passenger got sick and we had to make a sudden landing. This made us late and once we reached KLIA our flight to KB was gone and it was the last one of the day. Oh what to do? First we met with dh's sister and brother-in-law who had stopped by to meet us there and who offered to have us stay over but the back and forth driving wouldn't have given us much sleep as they live a bit outside of city limits. As we sat there two nice gentlemen offered us some pineapple tarts and a big water bottle. This is the hospitality that I love in Asia! After this we decided to just stay in the airport. We got the kids (we brought the 5 youngest of the 10) some KFC and let them play in the giant playground there to let off some steam after being cooped up in airplanes forever! Then they slept on some benches. Can you imagine such a thing happening in Canada? We would have been shooed away. One thing about Malaysia is that people are very chill! Sometime too chill! But I was grateful and we prayed fajr in the surau and then took our flight to KB; dh's hometown. Such was our first night in Malaysia.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Scripture and Prayer
Al-Araf (The Heights) Chapter 7: Verse 170
"As for those who hold fast to the Scriptures and attend regularly to their prayers, We shall not fail to reward those who enjoin the doing of what is right."
The very expression, "hold fast to the Scriptures", gives a vivid image that we can almost see and feel. It is the image of holding the book with strength and seriousness. This is how God likes His book to be approached, without rigidity or narrow-mindedness. Strength and seriousness are totally different from rigidity and narrow-mindedness. They are not opposed to ease, broad vision and compatibility with day-to-day life, but they are opposed to looseness, carelessness, and giving human practices precedence over God's law. Indeed, what people do must always be subject to God's law.
Holding fast with strength and seriousness to what God has revealed and attending regularly to prayers, which is here a reference to all aspects of worship, are the twin essential factors of the divine method that aims at setting human life on the right footing. The way this Quranic verse clearly links holding fast to the Scriptures with attending to worship is significant. It shows that implementing divine revelations in human life gives it the right basis, and that proper worship reforms human rights. Thus, the two operate in everyday life as well as in human hearts and set them both aright. This is further emphasized by the reference to doing right at the conclusion of the verse.
The plain fact is that all human life suffers as a result of abandoning these two essential factors of the divine method. When the revealed message is taken lightly, it has no effect on everyday life, and when worship is abandoned, people's hearts become prone to corruption. This leads to evading the law, as was the practice of the people of earlier Scriptures. The same applies to the followers of any Scripture when their hearts take worship lightly, and in consequence, their fear of God weakens.
The divine system is a complete whole, which establishes life on the basis of a divine writ, and reforms hearts through worship. Thus, hearts are healthy and human life is also wholesome. That is the divine method, which is abandoned in preference for another only by those who are bound to suffer misery in this world and punishment in the life to come.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 6. 254, 255
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Day of Ashura
It is reported in the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari and other authentic collections of hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram while they were in Makkah (before the hijrah).

It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (kiswah) of the Kabah. Quraysh also used to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1489 and 1760)

After the hijrah when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We have more claim to Musa than you.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1865)

In another report it is mentioned that Jews of Madinah used to hold a feast on this day. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told his Companions to fast instead. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1866)

Ashura fasting was obligatory (fard) in the beginning. In the second year of hijrah (624 CE) when Allah’s command came that Muslims should fast the whole month of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then sent someone to announce to people that fasting of Ashura had become voluntary (nafl). This indicates that whosoever wishes to fast, may fast and whosoever does not want to fast, there will be no blame on him/her.

Imam at-Tirmidhi mentioned that ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to say that we should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community. (At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 686)
Ibn Abbas also quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “If I live next year, I shall also fast on the 9th day.” (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, hadith 2002)

There is a great reward in fasting the day of Ashura. There are many hadiths that mention its blessings and virtues. It is good to fast on this day, although it is not obligatory.
Compiled From:
"Significance of Fasting the day of Ashura" - Muzammil Siddiqi
Three Types of Men
There are three types of men: the dog-like, the lion-like and the angelic. The dog-like are satisfied with bones, table scraps, carrion and defilement. These do not satisfy the lion-like, who crave to control and to dominate people, either by truth or by lies. But the angelic are above this. They direct their wills towards the Sublime Companion. They aspire to knowledge, faith and love of God. They turn towards Him, find peace and tranquility in Him, place His love and good pleasure above all else. They take whatever they get from the world as a means to help them arrive at its originator, the Lord and Protector, not to cut themselves off from Him.
Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 75

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Al-Rahman (The Beneficent) Chapter 55: Verse 60
"Is there any other reward for benevolence (Ihsan) than benevolence?"
Benevolence is a general term, which means according to the Prophet, "to worship God as if you see Him."
Benevolence consists of three levels:
The first level is benevolence in intent, by refining it through science, confirming it through resolve and purifying its condition.
The second level is benevolence in (spiritual) states, by maintaining them out of concern, disguising them out of consideration and adjusting them to bring about their true fulfilment.
The third level is benevolence with regard to the Moment, by never separating yourself from contemplation, viewing no limit to your fervor and making your migration towards the True One permanent.
Compiled From:
"Stations of the Wayfarers" - Abdullah Al-Ansari, pp. 142-144

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Blaspheming Time
A negative and evil attitude to be avoided is that of casting blame on Time, and constantly complaining over its injustice and severity. This harmful attitude encourages people to consider Time as an oppressive opponent, an enemy lying in ambush for them, or an unjust ruler who punishes the innocent and pampers the culprit - who favours one over the other without any reason save caprice.
All these are symptoms or manifestations of the doctrine of fatalism, through which individuals and societies seek to shirk responsibility for their actions by blaming others, or blaming Time, predestination, luck, circumstances, etc.
Rather than adopt this superficial and irresponsible attitude, people of piety and good sense try to carefully consider what misfortune has befallen them, or what blessing has been withdrawn from them, and analyse it according to the causes and effects inherent in the operational laws of Allah in creation. For Time is no more than a receptacle, a medium which captures and accommodates events as they come to pass by the will of Allah, in accordance with His laws and universal principles. This is the meaning of that sound hadith reported by Muslim from Abu Hurairah: "Do not blaspheme Time for Allah is Time", that is to say, it is Allah Who lays down the natural laws for its operation.
For this reason, it is more appropriate that people, in their attempt to correct a deviation and reform society, should direct blame to themselves, instead of blaming Time.
Compiled From:
"Time In The Life of a Muslim" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 99-100

The Community Story
The media takes its cue from citizens and makes its living from retribution. The public conversation most visible to us is the interaction between what we citizens want to hear and the narrative put forth by the media. But it is too easy to blame the media for valuing entertainment over news and for selling fear and problems over generosity and possibility. It is more useful to see that the media is a reflection of who we, as citizens, have become.
The news is most usefully understood as the daily decisions about what is newsworthy. This is a power that goes way beyond simply informing us. The agenda in each story defines what is important, and in doing this, it promotes an identity for a community.
This means the real importance of the media is not in the typical debate over the quality, balance, or even accuracy of what is reported. These vary with the channel, the network, the newspaper, the Web site. They vary with having the resources to get the whole story, the market segment it is aiming at, and its editorial agenda. What is most important, and the power that is most defining, is the power of the media to decide what is worth talking about. As British newspaper pioneer Lord Northcliffe once said, "News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising."
The media's power is the power to name the public debate. Or, in other words, the power to name "reality." This is true for the mainstream as well as online media.
The point is this: Citizens have the capacity to change the community story, to reclaim the power to name what is worth talking about, to bring a new context into being.
Compiled From:
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" - Peter Block, pp. 45, 46

November 2012 Book Club Pick

Ta-da its The Sweetness of Tears. I've read this already as my library got it awhile back. Have you read it? Will you?

I'm baaaaack!

Well its been awhile and I haven't even been posting Friday Nasihah posts which is the epitome of lame. I have an excuse though; I just got back from a well deserved vacation in dh's homeland of Malaysia. Its been 12 yrs since I've been there and a lot has changed. I'll be posting more insha Allah when I completely get over my jet lag. I see I have more followers though so it proves you are a patient bunch. Hope you all had a wonderful Eid. I celebrated mine in Malaysia and it was my first time.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Preserving Life
Al-Maidah (The Table Spread) Chapter 5: Verse 32 (Partial)
"... he who slays a soul unless it be (in punishment) for murder or for spreading mischief on earth shall be as if he had slain all mankind; and he who saves a life shall be as if he had given life to all mankind."
The Guidance:
No human being has any right by himself to take human life in retaliation or for causing mischief on this earth. Therefore it is incumbent on every human being that under no circumstances should he be guilty of taking a human life. If anyone has murdered a human being, it is as if he has slain the entire human race.
The Prophet, may God's blessings be on him, has declared murder as the greatest sin only next to polytheism. The Tradition of the Prophet reads: "The greatest sins are to associate something with God and to kill human beings."
In the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet the word 'soul' (nafs) has been used in general terms without any distinction or particularization. Therefore the injunction to not kill does not refer only to the persons belonging to one's nation, the citizens of one's country, the people of a particular race or religion. The injunction applies to all human beings and the destruction of human life in itself has been prohibited.
The Reason:
The survival of human life depends on everyone respecting other human beings and in contributing actively to the survival and protection of others. Whosoever kills unjustly is thus not merely guilty of doing wrong to one single person, but proves by his act that his heart is devoid of respect for human life and of sympathy for the human species as such. Such a person, therefore, is an enemy of all mankind. This is so because he happens to be possessed of a quality which, were it to become common to all men, would lead to the destruction of the entire human race. The person who helps to preserve the life of even one person, on the other hand, is the protector of the whole of humanity, for he possesses a quality which is indispensable to the survival of mankind.
Compiled From:
"Human Rights in Islam" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol.2, 155-156
"Mumbai - Islam's Reputation is at Stake" - Salman al-Oadah
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Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Conquering Death
The Day of Judgement, though it is to be feared, must also inspire in us a desire and eagerness to meet Allah. Sayyida Aisha reported that the Prophet said:
"Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet with him; and whoever dislikes the meeting with Allah, Allah also dislikes the meeting with him."
Our eagerness and desire to meet Allah should therefore, be echoed in all our Prayers. The Prophet Muhammad used to supplicate repeatedly:
"O Allah, I ask you for a soothing life after death, and I ask you for the pleasure of looking upon Your Face and for the yearning to meet You, free from suffering distress or from trial that leads one astray. O Allah, adorn us with the ornament of faith and make us guides and rightly guided." (an-Nasai.)
This desire to meet Allah will calm our fear of death, which is only a natural instinct. Even the Prophet Musa, on whom be peace, out of fear ran away when he saw his staff turning into a serpent. Fear, though, can be conquered with dhikr, doing good and keeping ever before us, our meeting with the Lord and Master of the Day of Judgement.
Compiled From:
"In The Early Hours" - Khurram Murad, pp. 143-145
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The Journey Motif
Islam is a religion that is built upon the notion of journeying, making one's way through this world and back "home" to God. The journey motif touches almost every aspect of the Muslim's life. One example is the Islamic code of ideal living, the shariah. The word comes from and old desert word that describes the trampled path that leads to an oasis or water hole. By extension, then, the shariah is the way that leads to water, to life, and to the refreshment of the whole person. It is the way walked by others before and the way that others will walk after us.
According to the specificities of the Islamic shariah, this path or way of life includes a command to make a journey to God's "house" in Mecca, where Abraham and his son Ishmael erected the first temple or "house" for the worshiping of one God. And so, to celebrate the pilgrimage is to commemorate Abraham's journey from his home in Mesopotamia to the west, where he made his home and fathered two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. To celebrate the pilgrimage is to commemorate the journey of Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, in the desert wilderness where they miraculously found water in the form of a well/spring that gushed out of the arid, rocky ground when Hagar had given up all hope of life.
As a practical act and pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage is full of ancient and often perplexing actions, some of which may strike us as curious and others as bewildering. It is important to stress, however, that the experience of the pilgrimage is itself a journey, and no pilgrim's experience of the rites is ever separate from the journey.
In Arabic, the word for pilgrimage (hajj) is related to the word for "proof" (hujjah). Contemplating this connection, Muslim masters speak of the life-change that comes when one completes the journey. Pilgrims are meant to return reborn, with a certitude and commitment that they did not know before. We witness this in the conversations we have with those who have gone, in the testimonials we read from those who have made the journey and completed the ancient rites. They may put on their old clothes when they have finished, but many claim that these clothes belonged to someone else, to someone they used to be prior to the experience. While the rituals themselves are integral part of the hajj, often the journey itself proves to be the most transformative aspect of this fifth and final "pillar" of the faith.
Compiled From:
"In the Light of a Blessed Tree" - Timothy J. Gianotti, pp. 58-62
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mom, I'm a Muslim.

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a guy that converts to Islam? I always do. I always assume they have it made. They can blend in without anyone knowing they've converted. At the mosque every guy loves the token white guy and men are so much less judgmental than women anyways. But what about what their families and friends think? I never really knew. This book will give you the perspective that you may have known or not. I was surprised myself. I found this book a little boring at the beginning but if you can get through that you will find a very important, touching, powerful story. I think men could relate to it even better but every convert will be able to relate. Overall its a book of hope in these times of despair.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Overflowing Benefit
Al Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 269
"He grants wisdom to whomever He wants, and whoever receives wisdom gains great benefits thereby; yet, only the insightful ever realize this."
Although the term has a broad range of meanings, "the wisdom" basically signifies insight, discernment, and knowledge of creation, life, right and wrong, and of the Divine system prevailing in the universe, so as to enable persuasive, convincing answers for such questions as "Who am I? What is the purpose for my existence in this world? Who has sent me to this world and why? Where did I come from and where am I heading? What does death ask of me?" It may be regarded, from one perspective, as harmony with Divine Destiny or knowledge of it. Wisdom is a name that signifies the accuracy of putting something in its right place.
It is of three levels:
1. The first level consists in giving each thing its due, not exceeding its limit and not rushing its time.
2. The second level consists in attesting to God's view in his threat, knowing His justice in His Judgment (Ruling) and observing His beneficence in His prohibition.
3. The third level consists in attaining divine guidance in one's search, the truth in one's guidance and the goal in one's counsel.
Compiled From:
"The Holy Quran: Guidance for Life" - Yahiya Emerick, pp. 40-41
"Stations of the Wayfarers" - Abdullah Al-Ansari, p. 146
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 114, 115

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Practical Evidence
It is preferable to use the lucid, yet simply-worded blessings for the Prophet which have been passed down to us by the first generations of Muslims, rather than the affected, difficult formulas for which missals have been written, group recitations convened, and names for the Prophet invented - names for which Allah has revealed no legitimation. Surely it is not the mere repetition of eloquent phrases that is important. What matters is one's acknowledgement of the favour done by the Prophet, upon him be peace, for the betterment of the believers, one's appreciation of the jihad he waged against the forces of ignorance, and one's allegiance to the nation which he founded in the name of ultimate truth.
This is the real meaning of seeking blessings for the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace. And only those who give practical evidence of their appreciation of this meaning will receive the rewards promised to those who seek blessings for the Prophet, upon him be peace. Certainly those self-acclaimed 'lovers of the Prophet' who hollowly echo set phrases, yet who are unable to stand in defence of the Sunnah, cannot ever be eligible for such rewards. It is with regard to the defenders of the faith, those who truly appreciate the Prophet, upon him be peace, that this hadith is related:
Whosoever seeks blessings for me will be blessed ten times over by the Almighty.
Abdullah ibn Masud related that the Prophet, upon him be peace, said:
On the Day of Judgement, the people most deserving of (a relationship with) me will be those who have most often sought blessings for me.
Compiled From:
"Remembrance And Prayer" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 104-105
Pragmatism, adaptability and flexibility arise out of broad experience, balanced knowledge and thinking. The Prophet Muhammad and his faithful Companions constantly remained open-minded, outward looking and alert. They were flexible in their approach and had no hesitation to learn and relearn, and adapt to the changes occurring in the external social environment, whilst holding fast to their faith and principles. They prepared themselves for any threats, made use of opportunities and kept themselves fully informed of the developing situation in their society. They did not create mind-guards or become inward looking.
Enslavement to structures, bureaucratic procedures, language and ways of working was not part of their style or attitude. In fact, such attitudes and rigidity stifles creativity and innovation, and can lead towards stagnation. and even to decay. This is why Muslims are enjoined not to be rigid or follow anyone blindly. They must only abide by, and work within the framework of the beliefs and principles encoded in the sources of Islam, i.e. the Quran and Sunna. Principles of Islamic jurisprudence highlight that anything outside the basic sources of Islamic guidance, including the opinions of scholars, is not sacred and subject to change, improvement or modification.
Compiled From:
"Building A New Society" - Zahid Parvez, pp. 201, 202

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Impressions.

Recently I went to an open house. Not really a house but an Islamic establishment. I sat with the non-Muslims since isn't that the point and hey I can't stand to sit on the ground. While sitting with them I heard their remarks about the great hospitality; no one can fault Muslims for that and  everyone's lovely attire. One woman even wanted me to get her daughter an abaya for her little little daughter. That was the outside part of the event. On the inside was the tour which I didn't take; been there, done that for the most part. But then my daughter needed to go to the bathroom. I found one and was shocked with the condition of the place. Surely this couldn't be so! An unclean bathroom at an open house? 4 toilets covered up with bags or paper and out of use? Open toilets with unclean bowls? Cobwebs? Is this Canada? Can't be! I'm cringing inside because I am at once the host and the guest which is an odd feeling. I know the non-Muslims will bring their 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' mores and the Muslims should have met that with their 'Cleanliness is half of faith' ideals but there was an epic fail and I was left with a feeling of embarrassment and shame. In fact the place was so bad, that my 3 yr old said 'I'll go at home .'  Now you may say that I should tell these Muslims to 'clean up their act' and I would if they ever even gave me the time of day which is why I find a blog so cathartic. Or you could say why don't I clean it up to which I say I am sure they would not want me to as they are very territorial and secondly I have my health problems to contend with. I would like to suggest that they get the teens to do it so they can get their volunteer hours or perhaps they could hire a janitor or ask anyone from the community. I would say call Molly Maids but the memory of them giving me the finger is still too much for me to bear.

October Book Club Pick

Nobody probably cares but anyway here is the pick of the month.


Friday, September 28, 2012


Today is my 21st anniversary; its been 21 years since I took my Shahadah.

Things sure have changed a lot for Muslims in that time and for me too. How long have you been Muslim?

On another note I guess its been about 2 months since I posted anything here. We celebrated Eid so many times and in so many ways. Three Muslim families moved into my town and that has kept me busy. My health was getting a lot better but just recently seems to be in decline. Duas would be nice. Also experiencing problems with my non-Muslim family so that is not helping things either. This life is a test for sure! What's new with you?

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
One Command
Al Qamar (The Moon) Chapter 54: Verse 50
"Our command is but once, like the twinkling of an eye."
God's power accomplishes the greatest of events by the simplest means. It takes just a signal or one word and everything, great or tiny, is done. In fact there is nothing to distinguish great from tiny; it is all part of how human beings see things. Nor is there a question of time, not even the twinkling of an eye; it is merely a metaphor to help people understand. Time is no more than a human conception that arises from the position of the earth and its rotation. As far as God and His plans are concerned, it has no significance.
The command is given just once and this entire universe comes into existence. Similarly, any change in it can be accomplished. Just one command and it will all go away as God wishes. In everything, the command is given once only: bringing anyone into life, taking here or there, causing it to die, bringing it back in some shape or form, resurrecting all creatures from all generations to gather them for the reckoning and reward. It is a once only command that requires no effort or time, because it comes from the Almighty in due measure and with perfect ease.
Compiled From:
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 16, p. 271
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Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Evil Inclinations
A very important aspect in the jihad against the evil inclinations of the soul is the repelling of any evil thoughts that pop into one's mind. Evil ideas occur to everybody. The important thing is to cast them out as soon as they appear and not to allow them to grow and flourish until the person himself begins to desire or intend to do that evil act. When caught in their early moments, there is no sin upon the person for what occurred in his mind. A hadith, recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim, states:
"Verily, Allah has overlooked for my nation what their souls think about as long as they do not act on it or speak about it."
As one allows the evil thoughts to persist, the stronger they become and the more difficult they are to overcome and defeat. If the individual allows them to grow until they become true wants and intentions, then he may commit a sin depending upon the entire situation and what he does afterwards.
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 348
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Sense of Truth
Sincere advice and consultation (nasihah, shura) that originate in knowledge and sincerity is meant to be an integral part of Islamic ethos at almost all levels, within the family, in the workplace, and the society at large. Commitment to truth and justice, avoidance of rash judgements, and remaining patient in the face of adversity must take a high priority in Islamic values.
Yet at times of conflict and situations when one is exposed to divergent voices, the individual may find it hard to determine the sense of truth, balance and justice in all of them. This has now become a problem that Muslim societies face almost everywhere. Questions also arise as to the relevance of the divergent and self-assertive advice to the prevailing conditions and circumstances of the generation, the youth and the society at large. One would expect the media and organized education to provide the needed guidance on matters of concern to the community. Media and education planners should, perhaps take more specific measures to identify clear agenda on civic education in their programmes. The schools may consider introducing a subject on civic education that provide perspectives on the ethical teachings of Islam, on nasihah, moderation, the meaning of jihad, civil society matters and the crucial importance of peace for economic development that informs and sensitizes the people on what it takes to be a good citizen. Violence and senseless destruction have taken a heavy toll on Muslim societies.
Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 218, 219
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