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.