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