Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah Al-Taubah (The Repentance) Chapter 9: Verse 112 (partial)
"Those who observe the limits set by God."
Civility is preserving the limit between exaggeration and coolness, while being aware of the damage that may result from aggression.
It consists of three levels:
The first level is preventing fear from extending to despair, keeping expectation from turning into security and containing pleasure so that it does not equal boldness.
The second level is forsaking fear in order to enter the field of constriction, rising from expectation to the field of expansion and progressing from happiness to the field of contemplation.
The third level is being aware of civility, then dispensing with civility by experiencing the civility of the True One, then escaping from witnessing the burdens of civility.
Compiled From:
"Stations of the Wayfarers" - Abdullah Al-Ansari, pp. 128-130
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Gradual Change
Changing people is not a simple task. Individuals become set in their beliefs and attitudes, and dominant practices, customs and traditions become part of their life. To change these will require hard work and a great deal of patience. Therefore, keeping human nature in mind, all the noble Prophets of Allah worked according to the set priorities of Islam and introduced change gradually so that it could become firm in people's hearts and minds. If change is rushed, it could have a negative impact on the person or society that is being changed.

"The religion of Islam is a lenient one - so go into it with ease and patience. No one who attempts to storm his way into it will come out victorious." (Bukhari)
Compiled From:
"Building a New Society" - Zahid Parvez, p. 163
Cool Tips!
Hard Moments
The poet Robert Frost wrote, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." There are certain hard moments, diverging-road moments, that, if we are strong in them, will make "all the difference" down the road of life.
Hard moments are conflicts between doing the right thing and doing the easier thing. They are the key tests, the defining moments of life - and how we handle them can literally shape our forevers. They come in two sizes, small and large.
Small hard moments occur daily and include things like getting up when your alarm rings, controlling your temper, or disciplining yourself to do your homework. If you can conquer yourself and be strong in these moments your days will run so much more smoothly. For example, if I'm weak in a hard moment and sleep in (mattress over mind), it often snowballs and becomes the first of many little failures throughout the day. But if I get up when planned (mind over mattress), it often becomes the first of many little successes.
In contrast to small hard moments, larger ones occur every so often in life and include things like choosing good friends, resisting negative peer pressure, and rebounding after a major setback: You may get cut from a team or dumped by your lover, your parents may get divorced, or you may have a death in the family. These moments have huge consequences and often strike when you're least expecting them. If you recognize that these moments will come (and they will), then you can prepare for them and meet them head on like a warrior and come out victorious.
Be courageous at these key junctures! Don't sacrifice your future happiness for one night of pleasure, a weekend of excitement, or a thrilling moment of revenge.
Compiled From:
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" - Sean Covey, p. 122

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 2013 book club pick

Better late than never right? This month's pick is The Translator.  Right now I don't have a copy but am reading Lyrics Alley by the same author Leila Aboulela.

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Good Projects
Surah Al-Ankabut (The Spider) Chapter 29: Verse 69
"And those who strive in Our cause, We will certainly guide them to our paths. For verily Allah is with those who do right."
It is important for the Muslim minority to establish institutions of public welfare such as hospitals, poor people's homes, children's homes, orphanages, centres for the disabled, traveler's lodges, coaching centre for students etc. These are essential not only for the survival of the Muslim minority but also for non-Muslims. Keeping their doors open for non-Muslims would have manifold advantages. This would ensure not only the welfare of the minority but also endear the non-Muslims and serve the cause of helping humanity.
We often complain of the lack of resources. Obviously resources are needed for setting up such institutions. However, arranging for funds for these is not so difficult. The Muslim community which has already been sponsoring hundreds of thousands of madrasas and masjids can easily set up these welfare institutions. What is really needed is the deep realization to take up such projects. The only thing missing is to realize community and national obligations and to establish institutions which are suited best in the given circumstances. There is a pressing need for taking up these projects with single-minded devotion. For this sincere intention Allah promises that He provides ways and means for all the good projects aimed at His cause.
Compiled From:
"The Prophet Muhammad : A Role Model for Muslim Minorities" - Yasin Mazhar Siddiqi, p. 196

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
The Prophet, peace be upon him, never put anyone to death for apostasy alone. Indeed, there were cases when certain individuals apostatised after professing Islam yet the Prophet did not even penalise them, let alone condemn them to death. Affirmative evidence on this point is found in the following incident which appears in the Hadith compilations of al-Bukhari and Muslim:
A Bedouin came to the Prophet and pledged his allegiance to him, professing Islam. The next day he came back, ill with fever and said, 'Return my pledge to me.' but the Prophet refused - thrice. Then the Prophet said: Medina is like a bellows which rejects its dross and recognises its pure.
This was a clear case of apostasy, in which the Prophet made no reference to any punishment at all, and the Bedouin, despite his persistent renunciation of Islam was left to go unharmed.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not treat apostasy as a proscribed offence (hadd), but, on the contrary, pardoned many individuals who had embraced Islam, then renounced it, and then embraced it again. Included among these was Abdullah Ibn Abi Sarh, the foster brother of Uthman Ibn Affan, and one-time scribe of the Prophet.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 96-98
Acting Together
One of the best testimonies that a religious or spiritual tradition can give of itself lies in acts of solidarity between its adherents and others. To defend the dignity of the latter, to fight so that our societies do not produce indignity, to work together to support marginalized and neglected people, will certainly help us know one another better, but it will, above all, make known the essential message that shines at the heart of our traditions: never neglect your brother in humanity and learn to love him or at least serve him.
More broadly, we have to act together so that the body of values that forms the basis of our ethics is not relegated to such a private and secluded sphere that it becomes inoperative and socially dead. Our philosophies of life must continue to inspire our civil commitment, with all due respect to the supporters of a postmodernism whose aim seems to be to deny any legitimacy to all reference to a universal ethic. We need to find together a civil role, inspired by our convictions, in which we will work to demand that the rights of all be respected, that discriminations be outlawed, that dignity be protected, and that economic efficiency cease to be the measure of what is right. Differentiating between public and private space does not mean that women and men of faith, or women and men of conscience, have to shrink to the point of disappearance and fear to express themselves publicly in the name of what they believe. When a society has gone so far as to disqualify, in public debate, faith and what it inspires, the odds are that its system is founded only on materialism and ruled only by materialist logic - the self-centred accumulation of goods and profit.
We must dare to express our faith, its demands, and its ethics, to involve ourselves as citizens in order to make known our human concerns, our desire for justice and dignity, our moral standards, our fears as consumers and televiewers, our hopes as mothers and fathers - to commit ourselves to do the best possible, together, to reform what might be. All our religious traditions have a social message that invites us to work together on a practical level. We are still far from this. In spite of thousands of dialogue circles and meetings, we still seem to know one another very little and to be very lacking in trust. Perhaps we must reconsider our methods and formulate a mutual demand: to behave in such a way that our actions, as much as possible, mirror our words, and then to act together.
Compiled From:
"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 212, 213

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
True Superiority
Surah Al-Hujurat (The Chambers) Chapter 49: Verse 13 (partial)
"Indeed, the most honourable of you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you. Surely, God is all-knowing, all-aware."
In some cultures, if one is aware of his "high birth," he is obliged to behave nobly. One of the blights of many societies is racism, when people feel and act superior simply because of their race. The Quran lays waste to false claims of superiority and states that the only rank that matters relates to one's relationship with God.
Many people are honoured by having lineage traceable to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his family. While this is indeed an honour in itself, it is something to be venerated when one's actions are likewise honourable. It is said, "If your actions hold you back, your lineage will not speed you up."
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, p. 126
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Supreme Names
Abu Dawud and Nasai both related from Anas [ibn Malik] that he was sitting with the Prophet, peace be upon him, when a man, after offering his prayers, said in supplication: 'O God, verily, I ask You because Yours is all praise. There is no deity but You, the One who sends blessings, the Originator of the heavens and the earth. O You who are endowed with might and generosity. You who are the Living, the Vigilant.' The Prophet remarked, '[This man] has supplicated God through His supreme name: when God is called upon by it, He answers; when asked for something through it, He gives [what is asked].'
In this way, the Prophet is telling us that a supplication is answered when it is preceded by praise and remembrance, that this praise and remembrance are the Supreme name of God and that this is the most effective way for the servant to ask for his needs.
Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 121
Love and Law
The Shariah experiences no tension between 'love' and 'law' or between 'faith' and 'deeds'. Both are integrated into a harmonious whole.
Guiding people to the Din, the Way, through the Shariah is an act of God's greatest mercy, kindness and love. Wherever the 'sending down of the Book' is mentioned in the Quran, the attributes of mercy, wisdom and omnipotence are also mentioned.
The very distinction between love and law is alien to the temper of Islam and incomprehensible in its vision. Love is all-embracing; how can it even conceive of displeasing the Beloved and ignoring the guidance given by Him? How can One who loves His creatures leave them wandering and groping in darkness to find answers to the complex problem of life?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sweet Beach Resort- My trip to Malaysia part 5

After we went to Perhentian, we stopped at Sweet Beach Resort for our final beach day. This beach was brown instead of white and the water was also brown, so not nearly as nice as Perhentian. The waves were huge and we could have went surfing there. They were so strong I couldn't stand up with my leg problems. The beach was so desolate as it was two days before eid although I did see one man running along it. The place we stayed at there, looked like it hadn't been updated since the 80's and every room had something wrong with it ie broken toilet seat, broken bathroom door etc. The restaurant was shut down since everyone pretty much had left so we had to walk to the road to eat from hawkers which was ok. The guy tried to guess where I was from and even said "shukran" to many people thought I was arab this time in Malaysia because I was wearing jilbab. The first time back in 2000 I wore baju kurung so everyone seemed to understand that I was a white chick trying to go native, lol. Later on after spending time on the beach which was littered with old lawn chairs we went back to our room and except for my daughter and I everyone went back to the guy to get supper. It was very eerie as everyone at the resort had left, except a few, I'm guessing staff and then the lights went out. I thought, oh they will quickly fix this, or at least bring us a candle? But nobody came. I started to panic a little as Magrhib was coming and still the rest of the family was not back, nor any staff. As the minutes ticked by, I thought maybe next time I travel, I should bring a flash light. Then I made dua asking Allah to get the lights back on so I wouldn't have to pray Maghrib in the dark. Almost immediately the lights went back on and I was so grateful. So I prayed and then supper was brought home and since hardly anybody was there, they let us have two rooms to sleep in. Would I suggest anybody go? Not really but maybe we just saw the bad side. We did find lovely shells at this beach though.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Unique Beauty
Surah Al-Hijr (The Rocky Tract) Chapter 15: Verses 16-18
"We have indeed set up in the heavens constellations, and endowed them with beauty for all to behold, and We have guarded them from every cursed devil, so that anyone who tries to eavesdrop is pursued by a flame clear to see. ."
The 'constellations' may refer to the stars and planets themselves with their huge entities, or it may refer to their positions which define their orbits.
The reference here to the beauty of the universe, particularly the type seen in the sky, suggests that beauty is an intended purpose behind such creation. It is not merely size or accuracy that are intended, but also beauty which is clearly seen in all its aspects. A quick glance at the sky in a dark moonless night, with so many stars and planets sending their faint light our way, gives us a sense of that unique beauty. The same feeling will be aroused by a similar look at the sky in a night with a full moon, moving along in a romantic air, with the rest of the universe holding its breath so that it does not disturb a happy dreamer. One glance like that is sufficient to indicate the depth of the beauty in the creation of the universe.
With the beauty comes preservation, pure and intact. None can spoil this purity by trying to spread evil in it. Satan is allowed to do his evil work only on earth, to tempt human beings to follow his wicked designs. The sky, which is a symbol for what is exalted and sublime, is beyond his reach. He may attempt to do so, but every attempt he makes is foiled.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 10, pp. 316, 317

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Essence of God
According to a Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the believers to 'ponder upon the creation of God, but not on God. For you will never be able to do Him justice.' [Suyuti, al Jami al Saghir]
The restriction is obviously based on the premise that the human mind is not endowed with the capacity to define its Creator, although it may explore and explain His attributes in relation to those aspects of His creation which are known or can be known by it. In this way, our knowledge of God is directly related to our knowledge of His creation. The Quran, on numerous occasions, invites attention to the signs of the creation of God, which testify to His omniscience and omnipresence. We are, thus, encouraged to investigate the world around us, to acquire knowledge of the mysteries of creation, and through it also to increase our understanding of the attributes and Exalted Names of God.
Since human knowledge of the universe is incomplete, knowledge of the Creator of the universe must also be an on-going process, and one which is unlikely to attain perfection. Attempting to 'investigate' the Essence of God is an idle and dangerous exercise which seeks to fathom the unfathomable, something beyond human capacity. It is dangerous as it leads to error in belief. To attempt to specify the Essence of God is to try to limit the limitless, which is, in turn, tantamount to an attempt at reducing God Most High.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 150, 151

Ethical Counterpowers
Ethical counterpowers must emerge at the heart of civil societies as minds struggle against propaganda, lies, and disinformation. We must reconcile these factors with complex, in-depth debates and serious reading. This turn of mind must be allied to national and international actions that fight for the dignity of women and men, of citizens, foreigners, and immigrants; for the right to welfare, health, education, freedom, justice, and solidarity; and more broadly for the rule of law, independence, and pluralism. We must be ambitious without illusion and humble without naivete; the road will be very long. This is because the ambition to resist must be combined with humility about projects undertaken and results achieved.
This is in keeping with fundamental spiritual teachings: the imperative requirement of resisting with one's heart, conscience, and skills; determined patience and active perseverance to go on; confidence in the name of meaning, regardless of results. This is how Muslim spirituality, echoing all the spiritualities in the world, teaches the meaning of dignity. We should never turn into dreamers or idealists finding legitimacy in aspirations to a hereafter. We must look squarely at humans, hypocrisies, and lies; we must simplify nothing. Nothing will be changed, for instance, by denouncing wars and promoting wide-eyed, improbable pacifism. Lucidity requires us to denounce all aspects of the business of war and promote a profound, uncompromising ethics of peace. Victims have this right over our intelligence and commitments. What spirituality and meaning first and foremost require are competence, realism, consistency, and earnestness.
Compiled From:
"Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 291, 292

Friday, March 1, 2013

My trip to Malaysia part 4

We only got to spend one day and night at Perhentian Besar. It was wonderful but too short. At least a week would have been nice. The problem was they were closing up for the season because it was almost Eid. The kids had so much fun swimming and playing with the crabs and burying a dead jellyfish. Eating alfresco at the next door restaurant was wonderful too. The beach was almost empty but there were some half-naked tourists that I didn't appreciate. They were mostly white but none of them were speaking in English. Seems like most of the tourists in Malaysia are either from Europe or the Middle East. But on this beach we were the only Muslims sadly besides the staff. In our burquinis we felt like outsiders and I had to keep telling myself that I was in Malaysia; a Muslim country. The nicest experience I had on the beach was when I was swimming in the evening. Suddenly we heard the azan coming from Perhentian Kecil; the island next to ours which has fishing villages. It was so beautiful, the scenery, the water, the sound. I immediately got out and went to our cabin to pray maghrib.

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah Al-Shams (The Sun) Chapter 91: Verses 9-10
"He is indeed prosperous who has grown it (the soul) in purity and he is indeed lost who has corrupted it."
Our essence is like a seed. If we use our potential and intellectual and spiritual faculties in this narrow world under the soil of the worldly life only to satisfy the fancies of our carnal, evil-commanding soul or selfhood, we will become corrupt, like a rotten seed, and merely enjoy fleeting pleasures during this short life. Thus, we will depart from this world with a heavy spiritual burden on our unfortunate souls.
But if we germinate the seed of our potential under the "soil of spirituality" with the "water of faith and worship," and if we use our spiritual faculties for their true purposes, we will grow into an eternal, majestic tree, the branches of which extend into eternity. We will yield fruit of virtue in the world and eternal happiness in the next world. We will be favoured in Paradise with infinite perfection and countless blessings.
All this means that we have been sent to the world to grow through knowledge and faith. And due to our special position among other beings, we have been entrusted with improving the earth through knowledge and faith and establishing justice on it. This imposes on us duties toward our Creator and other beings.
Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, p. 1230

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Training Anger
A man asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, "Give me advice." The Prophet said, "Do not become angry." The man asked again, and the Prophet repeated his advice. For a third time, the man asked the question, and the Prophet said again, "Do not become angry." [Bukhari]
According to scholars like Imam al-Nawawi and others, when the Messenger of God said, "Do not become angry," he meant do not allow anger to lord over oneself and cause the loss of one's comportment. In other words, do not become anger, its embodiment, such that people only see your rage. Instead, control your anger and never lose control.
Anger is something that needs to be trained, not abolished, for if people completely suppressed their sense of anger, many of the injustices of the world would not have been opposed and tyranny would have gone unchecked. Without anger, people would go around with complete impunity and commit heinous acts without resistance from the people. Corruption would cover the face of the earth.
A person who has no feelings about oppression, wrongdoing and disbelief is, in fact, an impotent person emotionally. It has been said, "Evil flourishes when a few good people do not do anything to oppose it." Thus response to injustice and oppression in a civilized way is the appropriate expression of anger. Being neutral to injustice is equal to contributing to injustice.
Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 102-103
"Anger and Dejection--An Islamic Perspective" - Shahid Athar

Improvement is a far more realistic goal than perfection. When we believe "we must be this" we ignore who or what we actually are, our capacity and our limitations. We start from the image of perfection, and of course, from perfection there is nowhere to go but down.
When we think, "I want my parents to see me as the perfect daughter," all we can do is fail. First, perfection is unattainable. Second, we can't control how people perceive us. Lastly, there is no way that we can do every single thing that is expected of us or that we expect of ourselves.
When our goal is growth and we say, "I'd like to improve this," we start from where and who we are. "I'd like to work on my relationship with my parents" is a completely different goal from "I want my parents to see me as the perfect daughter."
When we give ourselves permission to be imperfect, when we find self-worth despite our imperfections, when we build connection networks that affirm and value us as imperfect beings, we are much more capable of change.
Compiled From:
"I Thought It Was Just Me" - Brene Brown, p. 196