Monday, April 29, 2013

May 2013 Book Club Choice

Its almost May! The choice for the month is this.  I guess there is absolutely no one who is in this book club. Maybe this will be the last month I have this. If  you are a lurker let me know.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah al-Naml (The Ant) Chapter 27: Verse 4
"As for those who will not believe in the life to come, We make their deeds seem fair to them, and so they wander about in distraction."
Believing in the life to come is the motive that keeps whims and desires in check, urging us to lead a life of moderation. When such a belief is lacking, a person cannot restrain himself from pursuing wanton desires, thinking that his only chance for indulging in pleasure is that offered in this life. Yet life on earth is scarcely long enough to fulfil a small portion of what people desire or hope for. It is in the nature of human beings that they love immediate pleasure unless they are guided by a divine message that tells them of a future, permanent life that follows this short one, and that this life is but preparation for that future life. If they heed this guidance then they will find much greater pleasure in different types of pursuits.
It is God who has moulded human nature in this fashion, giving it the propensity to follow His guidance when it opes its receptive faculties to this, and the opposite propensity to remain blind when it shuts such faculties down. His will is always done, in both situations. They choose not to believe, and thus God's law comes into operation making their deeds seem fair and attractive to them. They cannot see any foul element in what they do and so remain unable to find a clear way leading them aright.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 13, pp. 108,109
go to the top ^
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Worse Than Dajjal
Abu Saeed reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to us while we were discussing about Dajjal and said, "Should I not inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of Dajjal? It is the hidden Shirk (Riya); A person stands to pray, and he beautifies his prayer because he sees the people looking at him." (Sunan Ibn Majah vol. 2, #3389)
The primary cause of riya is a weakness in Iman (Faith). When a person does not have strong faith in Allah, he will prefer the admiration of people over the pleasure of Allah.
There are three symptoms that are indicative of riya, and it is essential that a believer avoid all of them.
1. The love of Praise - As mentioned in a hadeeth of the first three people being thrown into the hellfire; the scholar (who taught for fame), the martyr (who fought for fame), and the person who gave his money in charity (so people would say he is generous). All three of these people desired the pleasure of people over the pleasure of Allah. The person who desires the praise of people must feel some pride in himself, for he feels himself worthy of being praised. There is a danger, therefore, of him becoming arrogant and boastful.
2. Fear Of Criticism - No one likes to be criticised. The dislike of criticism regarding religious practices may be divided into two categories:
a) The first category is that of a person who neglects a commandment of Allah in order to avoid the criticism of his peers.
b) The second category is that of a person who obeys certain commandments of Islam, not for the sake of Allah, but because he fears people will look down on him and criticise him if he does not do it. For example, a man may make his formal prayers in the mosque because he does not want people to criticise him for praying at home, or to think that he is not praying at all.
3. Greed for people's possessions - If a person covets what other people possess, whether it is rank, money or power, then he will wish them to envy him similarly. For example, if he is jealous of a position of a certain person in society, he will try by every possible means to attain the same position. Such desires lead people to spend their lives putting on a show for other people so that they will admire their rank, money, or power.
Compiled From:
"Riyaa: Hidden Shirk" - Abu Ammar Yasir al-Qathi
go to the top ^
Personal Destiny
None of us are born as passive generic blobs waiting for the world to stamp its imprint on us. Instead we show up possessing already a highly refined and individual soul.
Another way of thinking of it is this: We're not born with unlimited choices.
We can't be anything we want to be.
We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we're stuck with it.
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
If we were born to paint, it's our job to become a painter.
If we were born to raise and nurture children, it's our job to become a mother.
If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it's our job to realize it and get down to business.
Compiled From:
"The War of Art" - Steven Pressfield, pp. 145, 146

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah al-Imran (The House of Imran) Chapter 3: Verse 186 (partial)
"And you shall certainly hear much that will insult you from those who received the Scripture before you and from the polytheists. But if you persevere patiently and guard against evil, this will be the best course with which to determine your affairs."
This passage was revealed in Medina, and it leaves little doubt that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions often encountered insulting and irritating incidents at that time. Given the nature of the Prophet's mission and campaign, opposition verging on insult and abuse from the disbelievers was by no means unexpected. It would be neither feasible nor wise, under such circumstances, to have been too preoccupied with prosecution and punishment. This is precisely what the Quran has recommended and also what the Prophet actually did. But the juristic doctrine that was later developed followed a different course, one which moves more along punitive lines, rather than those of patience and perseverance.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 244, 245
go to the top ^
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Placing spirituality, the intimate quest for meaning, light, and peace, at the centre of the religious experience makes it possible to overcome the formalistic reductions that turn religion into a closed, restrictive Universe of norms, limits, and prohibitions. There are, to be sure, rituals, obligations, and morals, but they pertain to a conception of life and death that imparts to them a meaning and substance that one must perpetually recall to avoid becoming deluded by the presence of a formal set of rules emptied of the heart of their meaning. This is what the Prophet of Islam indicated in a tradition that should be understood both literally and figuratively: "God does not look at your bodies or at your image but God looks into your hearts." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 310, 311
go to the top ^
Nothing excuses the killing of innocent people. The devastation and anguish that such violence causes is often beyond description. Ask the families who lost loved ones in 9/11 or 7/7 or the terrorist attacks in Madrid and Boston. Their agony is mirrored a world away by families who have seen relatives torn apart by air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Gaza or by suicide attacks in Iraq and Indonesia. The cultures and languages may be different but the emotional and psychological impact is very similar. Islam condemns the killing of all innocent people no matter if the killings were committed by an individual or a group or by a state. All of these crimes must be condemned.
To end any cycle of violence its root causes must be properly examined. Although Muslims die in greater numbers from terrorist acts than any other group, it is often their religion that is held up as the cause. But according to the University of Chicago’s Dr. Robert Pape, the world’s foremost expert on suicide terrorism, “The root cause of suicide terrorism is foreign occupation” and “over 95% of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation.”
What is the way forward? Are we locked in a permanent cycle of war, terrorism and death? Is the suicide rate of 6500 American soldiers a year an inevitable by-product in this global blood feud? Fortunately, public opinion in the U.S. seems to be slowly changing. A Zogby poll in 2010 “found that 27% of Americans now believe that the `most important factor’ motivating terrorists to attack the United States is that they `resent Western power and influence,’” while 33% still believe the terrorists want Islam to dominate the world. For the 33% it may be helpful to note that, according to CPOST, groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are not working and conspiring with one another like a fascist monolith – “what stands out is that each is driven by essentially nationalist goals to compel target democracies to withdraw military forces from their particular homeland.”
Compiled From:
"Islam and Terrorism" -

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah al-Zukhruf (Gold) Chapter 43: Verse 11 (partial)
"And He it is who sends down water from the sky in due measure."
Water comes down from the sky, as every person sees and knows, but most people are not moved by this remarkable phenomenon because of over familiarity. Muhammad, God's Messenger, (peace be upon him), however, held a different attitude. He looked at the drops of rain with love and welcoming delight, knowing that they came from God; in other words, his heart recognized God's handiwork in these drops. Every heart that is aware of its bond with God and the laws of nature He has set in operation should adopt this attitude.
Every raindrop is the result of the laws of nature which operate under God's eye and control. That rain originates from the vapour that rises from the earth and cools down in the atmosphere in no way diminishes the implication of these facts. Who has brought the earth into being, placed water on it, subjected it to heat, made water naturally evaporate and vapour rise and condense? Who has given the universe its other characteristics which give the condensing vapour an electrical charge so that when clouds gather, their electric charges cause rain to fall?
As we learn more about nature, however, our knowledge casts a heavy weight over our understanding. We no longer appreciate the messages given by universal phenomena; we no longer allow these messages to refine our feelings and responses.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade Of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 15, pp, 220, 221

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Alloted Provision
The provision that one receives is called rizq. Rarely does God use two very similar names that evoke one attribute. When it comes to provision, God is al-Raziq and al-Razzaq, both names referring to Him as the provider. We creatures are known as marzuq, that is, the beneficiaries of God's provision. Some scholars say that provision is anything from which a person derives benefit. Others say it refers to all the material possessions one has. The dominant opinion is the former.
God divides the provision of people into two kinds: inner (batini) and outer (zahiri). The outward provision includes such things as food, shelter, and well-being. Inner provision includes knowledge, good character, contentment, and similar qualities. Even the people in a person's life (friends, teachers, spouse, family, and so on) are considered provision.
Along with the provision that God gives, He also has given the means (asbab) by which one must seek out his provision. There should be no confusion about the means of attaining provision and the provision itself. When one starts to believe that his or her provision is in the hands of another person, this creates a breeding ground for diseases, such as coveting what others have, doing whatever it takes to get it, and becoming angry when one does not receive what he or she expects.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said that the Angel Gabriel disclosed to him, "No soul will die until it completes the provision that was alloted to it." [Sahih al-Jami] One must trust in God and seek refuge in Him from resorting to illicit livelihood out of fear of not having enough wealth.
Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 79, 80

Second Chance
If a friend or a lover is late to meet you for lunch or forgets your birthday, it's probably okay to give him or her a second chance. But more serious offenses, such as being unfaithful, getting drunk and becoming abusive, or maliciously starting a terrible rumour about you, probably do not deserve another chance.
Some people deserve a second chance more than others. These include:
  • Those who have been understanding, compassionate, and forgiving toward you
  • Those who generally treat you with consideration, kindness, and respect
  • Those who have genuinely apologized and taken responsibility for their offensive behaviour
Compiled From:
"The Nice Girl Syndrome" - Beverly Engel, pp. 199, 200

My trip to Malaysia Part 6 Hari Raya Aidil Adha

When we got back to KB it was time to celebrate Eid. On the first day we walked to the neighbourhood musalla instead of the mosque on the street since it was closer. I brought telekung (prayer garments for my daughters and I) and put them on when we got to the musalla. A strange thing in Malaysia is that most of the mosques have prayer mats in the corner that you spread out even though there is already a rug or you have to bring your own. So at this musalla a woman handed  me a prayer mat and I thought she was lending me hers but it turned out to be one that the musalla provided. The khutba was in Malay and I felt sad as the khutba is my second favourite thing about Eid besides the chants at the beginning of Allahu Akbar etc. The musalla was a very disappointing place; it was in the back of someone's business and there were holes in the ceiling and corrugated tin walls. I guess no one really invests in these places as there are already so many nice mosques. As for the khutba, it wasn't written by the imam but given out by the gov't. A friend told me that most mosques are like this but some do write their own. I was glad to hear that because otherwise it sounds like a dictatorship. At the end I said assalaamu Alaikum to the women and to their utter surprise Selamat Hari Raya. Guess they didn't expect an orang putih to know that! Then we walked home and since the cow was to be slaughtered the next day we had arranged for a goat to be slaughtered for my daughter's aqiqah. Even though she was 12 its never too late to do it. Family and neighbours came. It felt odd for me because I really wanted to introduce myself as the mother of the daughter having the aqiqah but since I can't speak malay and wasn't even sure if that was proper protocol I stood awkwardly in the background. I was wearing a white abaya and a cream hijab with flowers from IDH. All of our family was wearing the same colour as is the new trendy custom in Malaysia. Dh chose the colour. My daughters all had white baju kurung and the boys baju melayu. Although I found it nice to have all the in-laws there I did miss my kids back home (5 of them and my granddaughter and son-in-law and daughter-in-law). I also missed the decorations and Canadian style baked treats. Although cupcakes have now become a trend in Malaysian and they are nicely decorated the taste leaves something to be desired.

 On the second day of Eid my sister-in-law arranged to get a cow slaughtered. We were all invited to come and watch but only dh and my brave 8 yr old daughter went. After this we went to visit different brother and sister -in-laws. One brother-in-law lives in the house that I used to live in which was my parents-in-laws but they have passed away in the interim. It was odd to come back and see the changes; no more chickens, trees cut down and a house being built in the back for my brother-in-law. All the memories came flooding back. The last house we went to of one of the brother-in-laws had so many yummy treats including chocolate bars which are expensive in Malaysia that it started to feel more like Eid to me. I didn't find Eid very festive there at all and dh said its because people don't really make a big deal out of Eid-ul-Adha compared to Eid-ul-Fitr. Apparently they don't even give out money on the second eid but the kids and I were unaware of that so they mentioned it and the relatives took pity and gave them some. It made the kids feel special since they knew their brother had received the same thing when he had gone before.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah al-Mumtahana (The Tested Woman) Chapter 60: Verse 12
"O Prophet! When believing women come to thee to take the oath of allegiance to thee, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery (or fornication), that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey thee in any just matter; then do thou accept their allegiance, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness (of their sins): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
The individuality of a woman is a principle of religion. In Islam, a woman is an independent entity, and thus a fully responsible human being. Islam addresses her directly and does not approach her through the agency of Muslim males. A woman would assume full capacity and liability once she has attained maturity and has received the message of Islam.

Moreover no woman is said to have truly accepted the message of Islam unless she does so out of her independent will. Admission to faith is entirely a personal matter; indeed, faith cannot be adopted by proxy. Women, just like men, would come to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and pledge their own allegiance to Islam and the Prophet.

If embracing Islam by a woman is an entirely personal matter in the Islamic tradition and cannot be done through proxy, so are all obligations and duties, which Islam enjoins on her. No one else can do them on her behalf. She performs her acts of worship purely on the basis of her own intention; and as such these are treated in Islam as her personal achievements.

On the basis of her own action, a woman earns reward or punishment. No man is allowed to plead or intercede for a woman, nor is he held responsible for her actions and their consequences. The doctrine of ultimate accountability does not take the family as a unit for collective responsibility; rather, each individual male or female, is an autonomous unit of reckoning in front of God, and is held directly responsible for his or her actions or his or her share in joint acts.
Compiled From:
"On the Position of Women in Islam and in Islamic Society" - Hassan al-Turabi

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Ethic of Action
Al tawhid commits man to an ethic of action; that is, to an ethic where worth and unworth are measured by the degree of success the moral subject achieves in disturbing the flow of space-time, in his body as well as around him. It does not deny the ethic of intent, but demands fulfillment of its requirements as the preliminary prerequisite for entering into the fulfillment of those of the ethic of action. He must enter the rough and tumble of history and therein bring about the desired transformation. He cannot lead a monastic, isolationist existence except as an exercise in self-discipline and self-mastery.
You will recall that the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to retire, to isolate and discipline himself, especially before revelation [Bukhari]. Indeed, it may be said that revelation was the climax of his tahannuth [worship, avoidance of sin]. However, it was Allah Who ordered him not only to go down, but also to outwit his opponents when they plotted to kill him, to build a community, to emigrate, to build a state, to promote and govern the material life of his people. Our Prophet faced reality, political, economic, military reality and made history. He was husband and father, tradesman and provider, statesman and judge, military leader, and prophet, all at once. The revelation which came to him and of which he was the first embodiment left nothing without guidance or direction. Islam is a religion of action, and action is public and societal whereas an ethic of intent is personal and has no need to go out of conscience.
Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, pp. 163, 164
Shariah-Oriented Policy
Siyasah shariah or Shariah-oriented policy is generally seen as an instrument of flexibility and pragmatism in Shariah, designed to serve the cause of justice and good government, especially when the rules of Shariah fall short of addressing certain situations or developments. Siyasah shariah means government in accordance with the goals and objectives of Shariah and in its widest sense applies to all government policies, be it in areas where the Shariah provides explicit guidelines or otherwise.
Essential harmony with the spirit of the Shariah may at times even justify a certain departure from its letter. This may be illustrated by many of the policy decisions of Umar b. al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. In one such decision he refused to assign the fertile lands of Iraq as war booty to the warriors even though the Quran had clearly entitled the warriors to war booty (8:45). Change of circumstances also led the caliph Umar to impose zakah on horses despite the fact that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had exempted these animals from the payment of zakah. It is interesting to note that caliph Umar b. Abd al-Aziz in an effort to revive the early Sunnah, once again abolished the zakah on horses.
It is similarly reported that the third caliph Uthman b. Affan, validated the right to inheritance of a woman whose husband had divorced her in order to be disinherited. The husband's right to divorce was thus deemed prejudicial and therefore obstructed on the grounds, it would seem, of just siyasah.
The decision of Caliph Umar seem to stand in a class of their own and tend to represent the upper limits of siyasah. No other leader would appear to have surpassed the calibre and boldness of Umar's decisions in that they actually went against the clear text of the Quran. Many commentators have discussed and analysed them but no one has actually disputed the propriety and aptitude of those decisions.
Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 225-231

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Out Bot, out bot!

So its come to this! I guess you know your blog is popular when the spammers and bots have discovered it. So from here on out, you will have to deal with word verification when making comments. I know, I know, its a pain. I hate it too. But I have to drive them away. Please continue to comment. My readers mean a lot to me. I hope you are enjoying my posts about my Malaysian trip. If you see something you like let me know and if not email me at omwits at .

April 2013 Book Club Choice

Is it already April? Doesn't feel like it...its still so cold. Anyway here is the book choice for this month. Neither This Nor That. Its a teen read but looks interesting.