Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Place of Sleep
Ya-Sin (Ya-Sin) - Chapter 36: Verse 52
"They will cry: 'Woe to us! Who has raised us from our place of sleep?' This is what the All-Merciful promised, and the Messengers spoke the truth!"
This statement reveals two facts concerning life in the grave. One is that compared with the dread of the Resurrection and the Place of Supreme Gathering, and the punishment in Hell, the suffering in the grave will be like a sleep tormented by nightmares.
The other is: Ali, the Fourth Caliph, may God be pleased with him, says that the life of the world is sleep, and people wake up when they die. So, from the perspective of the truths of faith and the truths concerning creation and life, the worldly life is like a dream. When people die, their seeing and perception will be much keener. Compared with the eternal life in the other world, life in the grave is like a dream during sleep. All truths will be manifested in all their clarity in the Hereafter.
Compiled From:
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, pp. 912, 913

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
A text is narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad from Anas, he said: "There was a slave woman from among the slave women of Madinah and God's Messenger took her by the hand and he did not take his hand from her hand while she went with him wherever she wished to go." Al-Bukhari narrated it with the wording: "There was a slave woman from among the slave women in Madinah, and she took the Messenger of God by hand; then she walked off with him wherever she wished."
The hadith demonstrates the extent of the Prophet's, peace be upon him, humility, courtesy and tenderness: though she was a slave woman she clasped him by the hand and she consulted with him through the city streets of Madinah, so that he decided for her certain needs. He was of extreme modesty and great in character, he did not want to hurt her feelings by withdrawing his hand from her hand. Rather, he shaded her, moving along with her in this situation until she was finished with the judgment of her need.
Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, p. 165

It is impossible to live, to bear witness, to pray, to fast, to make the pilgrimage alone, apart from other people and thinking only of oneself. To be with God is to be with other people: to bear the faith is to bear responsibility for social commitment at every moment. The teaching that must be understood from zakat could not be more explicit: to possess is to have the duty to share. It is impossible shamelessly to accumulate possessions in the name of personal freedom when it leads to exploitation and social injustices; it is impossible, too, to forget the interests of society as a whole and consider only one's own. Of course, people are free, but they are responsible for this freedom before God and other people. This responsibility is undeniably moral: according to this morality, to be free means to protect the freedom and dignity of others.
The four practical pillars of Islam have this double dimension - individual and communal. The essence of Islamic teaching lies along this path between these two extremes: either to put first individuals and their own interests and so create a a social space that may turn into a jungle, no matter how lofty the speeches that may be made, or to give priority to the group and to the society and to deny the specificity, the hopes, and desires of each individual by creating a structure that binds and alienates, no matter how many plans there may be for development. A difficult balance, but it is the only way to respond to the demand of the Creator, who expects each person alone to bear responsibility for his or her community life.
Compiled From:
"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 181, 182

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Door of Hope
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 135
"Those who, when they commit a gross indecency or wrong themselves, remember God and pray for the forgiveness of their sins - for who but God can forgive sins? - and do not knowingly persist in doing the wrong they may have done."
Never does Islam slam the door in the face of a weak sinner leaving him lost in the wilderness. Never does it let him feel permanently rejected, afraid to turn back. On the contrary, it holds for him the prospect of forgiveness. It shows him the way and holds his trembling hand, steadying him and giving him the light he needs to return to his secure refuge. It only requires one thing of him, namely, that his heart and soul are not so hardened so as to make him forget God. As long as he remembers God and keeps alive in his conscience the voice of guidance and maintains in his heart the yearning for God's grace, the light will shine again in his soul and the seed of faith will burst forth with a new plant.
Islam knows that side by side with man's weaknesses and carnal desires there exist strength and sublime aspirations. For this reason, Islam is sympathetic to man in his moment of weakness, places him back on his way to a higher horizon, as long as he remembers God and does not knowingly persist with his wrongdoing. Thus, Islam combines its call to man to aspire to a higher horizon with its mercy and compassion, knowing man's weakness and capability. It ensures that the door of hope is always open in front of man as it motivates him to exert his utmost in his aspiration towards the sublime.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 2, pp. 215-217

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Creator of Marvels
Imam al-Bayhaqi relates a statement of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in which he said, "God makes every maker and what he makes." In reality, God is the creator of the marvels that people admire and attribute to the glory of humankind, forgetting that it is God who created the ones who produced these marvels. Realizing that God is the source of all blessings prevents vanity from entering the heart.
There is foolishness in being vein about what one has accomplished, given its ephemeral nature. But when one is thankful to God and acknowledges and praises Him as the source of this goodness, then the accomplishment outlasts our earthly lives and the memories of people, for God preserves it.
Vanity originates from one's ignorance of two matters: God alone is the Fashioner and the Giver of Blessings and we human beings are incapable of accomplishing anything without God's will and blessings. If one accomplishes something, let him or her remember God and be grateful, and not swagger with haughtiness. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw a reflection of himself - and he was a beautiful man - he would make the following supplication: "O God, as You have made my countenance most excellent, make my character most excellent." Imam Mawlud said that to rid oneself of vanity (or prevent it from entering one's heart), reflect long and hard on the fact that all blessings are entirely from God and that we cannot produce any benefit or harm without His permission.
Compiled From:
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 98, 99
Summons to Action
The fundamental message of the Quran was not a doctrine but an ethical summons to practically expressed compassion: it is wrong to build a private fortune and good to share your wealth fairly and create a just society where poor and vulnerable people are treated with respect.
There was no question of a literal, simplistic reading of scripture. Every single image, statement, and verse in the Quran is called an ayah ("sign," "symbol," "parable"), because we can speak of God only analogically. The great ayat of the creation and the last judgment are not introduced to enforce "belief," but they are a summons to action. Muslims must translate these doctrines into practical behaviour. The ayah of the last day, when people will find that their wealth cannot save them, should make Muslims examine their conduct here and now: Are they behaving kindly and fairly to the needy? They must imitate the generosity of Allah, who created the wonders of this world so munificently and sustains it so benevolently. By looking after the poor compassionately, freeing their slaves, and performing small acts of kindness on a daily, hourly basis, Muslims would acquire a responsible, caring spirit, purging themselves of pride and selfishness. By modeling their behaviour on that of the Creator, they would achieve spiritual refinement.
Compiled From:
"The Case for God" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 99, 100

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Hajj Experience
Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage) - Chapter 22: Verses 27-28 (partial)
"And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways; That they may witness the benefits for them."
Allah had commanded Abraham to make a general proclamation of Hajj, the first reason given for this commandment is that they may undertake the journey and assemble here and witness with their own eyes that it is intended for their benefit only and its advantages can be noticed only when a man personally experiences it by performing the task himself. It is narrated about Imam Abu Hanifa that until he had performed the Hajj he was doubtful as to which act of worship was superior among the worships of Islam. But when on performing the Hajj he witnessed the numerous benefits hidden in it, he unhesitatingly declared that Hajj is superior to all.
The word "benefits" is in the indefinite, implying all types and numerous forms of benefits. Most notable among these benefits are the purification of the soul, refinement of character, refreshing of one's spirit and the spiritual training that takes place in the most honourable land on this earth.
Compiled From:
"Let Us Be Muslims" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Chapter 6
"Purification of the Soul" - By Jamal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 251-263

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Wiping Away Sins
"Whoever performs the Hajj for the sake of Allah and does not commit any lewdness or evil returns like the day in which his mother gave him birth." [Bukhari, Muslim]
"Whoever Observes fast on the Day of Arafah, I expect Allah to forgive his (her) sins that were committed during the preceding year, and the sins that will be committed in the year after."[Muslim]
Sins can be forgiven at any place, no matter where the person is: it is not essential to be at Arafah or Kaba, but because many benefits, blessings, and heartfelt feelings which these Symbols, places and the rites of Hajj produce - which are not found anywhere else - they provide a better environment for asking for forgiveness with sincerity of heart.
These are the places where the blessings and mercies of Allah descended on the prophets, where the prophets were showered with Allah's light of guidance, where the Signs of Allah and His prophets are found everywhere, where in the past Allah's devotees have conversed with Him, and where all the pilgrims assemble, pray, cry and lament together for forgiveness. The environment and atmosphere of these places surely help the pilgrims to pray from the bottom of their hearts with the result that the prayers are accepted.
But making amends is bound to certain conditions and depends on the removal of certain obstacles both within and without the action itself. If the servant could be certain that he had met every condition and eliminated every obstacle, then [certainly] such an act would atone for the sin.
But what about an action which is [itself] entirely or mostly enveloped in negligence, lacking in the sincerity which is its core and spirit, and performed without respect for its requirements or value? What can this action amend? In fact, there are countless things which invalidate or spoil devotional practice. It is not so much the action itself as the effort to keep it pure of the things that spoil and annul it.
One could hope for atonement if in undertaking a devotional act the servant was sure of its outward and inward requirements had been fulfilled; that there were no obstacles to the act's atoning quality; and that he himself did not annul it with feelings of self-importance, ostentation, or the expectation of something in return [from people].
Compiled From:
"Worship In Islam " - Sulaiman Nadwi, pp. 275-276
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 8

Common Compassion
We must get to know about our neighbours in the global village and realize that our own tradition is not alone in its pursuit of the compassionate ideal. The comparative study of other religion is not designed to dilute your appreciation of your own or to make you convert to another tradition. Ideally it should help you to see the faith that you are most familiar with in a different, richer light. Each of the world religions has its own particular genius, its own special insight in the nature and requirements of compassion, and has something unique to teach us. By making room in your mind for other traditions, you are beginning to appreciate what many human beings, whatever their culture and beliefs, hold in common. So while you are investigating the teachings of your own tradition, take time to find out more about the way other faiths have expressed the compassionate ethos. You will find that this in itself will enable you to expand your sympathies and begin to challenge some of the preconceptions that separate us from "the other."
The sages, prophets, and mystics of religious traditions did not regard compassion as an impractical dream. They worked as hard to implement it in the difficult circumstances of their time as we work today to find a cure for cancer. They were innovative thinkers, ready to use whatever tool lay to hand in order to reorient the human mind, assuage suffering, and pull their societies back from the brink. They did not cynically throw up their hands in despair, but insisted that every person had the ability to reform himself or herself and become an icon of kindness and selfless empathy in a world that seemed ruthlessly self-destructive. We need that energy and conviction today.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 63, 64

Maintainer's Message
We wish you a happy and joyous Eid. May Allah accept our worship and sacrifices during the blessed days of Dhul-Hijja. May Allah accept the Hajj of the pilgrims and return them home safely. Eid Mubarak.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Al-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 97 (partial)
"Pilgrimage to this house is a duty owed to God by all people who are able to undertake it. As for those who disbelieve, God does not stand in need of anything in all the worlds."
Pilgrimage is a personal obligation on every individual once in a lifetime, and it becomes due when the conditions of ability are fulfilled, including physical health, ability to travel and safe passage.
Pilgrimage is the Muslims' annual general assembly which is held at the House from which their message was given to them for the first time, and which witnessed the birth of the pure faith of Abraham and which was the first House God has set up on earth for His own worship. Pilgrimage is, therefore, an assembly of great significance. Its historical associations centre round the noble concept of faith, which highlights the link between man and his Creator. Faith means man's spiritual response to God, a fact of great significance considering that only by the breathing of God's spirit has man acquired his humanity. It is a worthy concept to form the basis of human unity. Hence, it is appropriate that people should assemble every year at the Sacred Place which witnessed the birth of this call to mankind to unite on pure faith.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 2, pp. 152, 153

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
The Witness
On the ninth day of Dhul Hijja in the tenth year of hijrah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, addressed 144,000 pilgrims on the Mount of Mercy. He spoke in small portions, and men around him repeated his words so that everyone throughout the valley could hear his speech.
The content of the message was powerful and intense, and the Prophet began by stating that he did not know whether he would again meet the pilgrims "in this place after this year." Then he reminded them of the sacred character of the place and month, as well as of that of their lives, their honour, and their belongings. He explained that the period of ignorance had come to an end, and so had its practices, its rivalries, and its conflicts based on power and profit. Henceforth, all Muslims were united by faith, fraternity, and love, which were to transform them into witnesses of Islam's message. They must under no circumstances accept being "either oppressors or oppressed." They were to learn of the equality of all poeple in front of God and the necessary humility becasue "you all descend from Adam and Adam was created from dirt. The most noble in the sight of God is the most pious. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, except by their intimate consciousness of God [piety]." The Prophet reminded all the Muslims to treat their wives gently and added: "Be intimately conscious of God with regards to women, and strive to be good to them." Then he added, as if to show the Way and its conditions to all the faithful present and all those who were to follow his teachings through the ages: "I have left among you what will, if you keep to it firmly, preserve you from error: clear guidance, the Book of God and His Prophet's tradition." After each teaching the Prophet added: "Have I conveyed the Message? O God, be my witness!" At the end of the sermon, the pilgrims answered: "We bear witness that you have faithfully conveyed the message, that you have fulfilled your mission, and that you have given your community good advice." Then the Prophet concluded: "O God, be my wintess! ... And let whoever is present convey this message to whoever is absent." [Ibn Hisham]
The Prophet was indeed a witness in front of the spiritual community of Muslims. In communion with them, at the heart of the pilgrimage - which itself requires simplicity and the unity of human beings before their Creator - the Messenger recalled the essential point in the One's message: the absolute equality of human beings before God, regardless of race, social class, or gender, for the only thing that distinguishes them lies in what they do with themselves, with their intelligence, their qualities, and most of all their heart.
Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 196, 197

Cool Concepts!
Beginning and End
The knowledge of where a verse begins and ends is essential for a number of reasons, including:
1. The acceptability of the prayer. Some scholars state that, if a person has not memorized the Fatiha, he must recite seven other verses of the Quran instead of it, and this cannot be done unless one knows the beginning and end of a verse.
2. The proper recitation of the Quran. It is preferrable - not mandatory - to pause at the end of every verse, and many scholars have stated that this is the Prophet's Sunnah.
3. The acceptability of the Friday sermon. Some scholars have stated that it is obligatory for the Friday sermon to include at least one full verse in it.
4. The ease in finding particular passages in the Quran. The finding of a particular passage is simplified by the knowledge and numbering of the verses of the Quran.
Compiled From:
"An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran" - Yasir Qadhi, p. 152

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My trip to Malaysia Part 10

Its been almost a year since I went to Malaysia, better wrap this up soon.

 We left early to take a flight from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur which is a very quick trip; about half an hour.When we left the airport we took a bus and my seat had no seatbelt but others did. I guess even here buses don't have seatbelts. So many taxis also had no seatbelts at the back for my kids and I and was PO'd about that. Shame on Malaysia for still not updating this. We went to Midvalley Mega Mall but for the life of me I don't remember anything about it but my daughter wrote it in her diary so it must be true. We stayed at the Prescott Inn which was conveniently located close to everything and affordable. It was very clean and modern. Not a five star hotel but very acceptable. We walked a lot to local eateries which were cheap and delicious.Do not, I repeat do not,order western food at this hotel's restaurant. It was horrible. But as my husband said why are you ordering western food here in Malaysia anyway. He had a point. On this day I got to go to a place I've been dying to go to for so many years. You will see this picture on so many calendars, cookbooks etc and will probably not even know its in Malaysia. I'm talking about the Shah Alam mosque. Its a beautiful, large, blue domed mosque. I saw many quran classes going

how we got there.

on in the mosque and sat in the masjid area for a long time just soaking up the nur. There were lots of women who came to pray sunnah prayers wearing their lovely telekung (prayer garments). Around the mosque were people selling islamic clothing. When it was time to pray the imam began reciting my favourite surah;al-inshirah. It meant so much to me, to hear him recite fa inna illah yusri yusrah; verily after every difficulty comes relief, since my second time in Malaysia, was so much more pleasant than my first time, alhumdullilah.