Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran Living The Quran

Al-Ahzab (The Confederates) - Chapter 33: Verse 21
"Indeed, in the Messenger of God their is an excellent model for you - for whoever is hopeful of God and the Last Day and remembers God much."
Striving with the energy of hope is more exalted than being compelled by fear. This is especially true when the benefits of one's acts touch the lives of others, which is the case with sadaqa (charity) for the needy. There is so much hope in Islam, its creed and ethos are rife with optimism and buoyancy. Planting a tree from which birds eat reaps the planter reward so long as that tree stands. Hope is light!
An act of worship done for the love of God is a higher station than those acts done out of fear of Hellfire. This is a common understanding among scholars throughout the ages. This view does not belittle the fear of punishment, but it does assign a higher station to guiding one's conduct out of awe of God and a heightened sense of His majesty and greatness.
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 156, 157

Understanding The Prophet's Life Understanding The Prophet's Life

"For as long as a person lies or justifies a lie, his (or her) name is recorded before God as one of the liars." [Ibn Hanbal]
Imam al-Ghazali elaborates: 'Lying is forbidden in all things except when it is absolutely necessary. I must, therefore, be avoided at all times even in one's imagination and self-suggestion. One ought to make a deliberate effort not to sow the seeds of falsehood in one's thoughts, and to try to avoid it at all times.'
Among the instances when telling a lie may be necessary, is when it helps to save an innocent life. For example, if someone is trying to capture and kill an innocent person and asks another of his whereabouts, the respondent may tell a lie in order to prevent bloodshed. In the sayings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, three other instances when lying is permissible are noted: firstly, when it helps to remove hostility and create harmony between two parties; secondly, when it is done in order to mislead the enemy in warfare; and lastly, a man is allowed to praise and encourage his wife in order to please her, even if the speech so uttered is not literally true. [Al-Maqdisi]
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 122

Blindspot! Blindspot!

Idolatry has always been one of the pitfalls of monotheism. Because its chief symbol of the divine is a personalized deity, there is an inherent danger that people would imagine "himself" as a larger, more powerful version of themselves, which they could use to endorse their own ideas, practices, loves, and hatreds - sometimes to lethal effect. Once a finite idea, theology, nation, or ideology is made supreme, it is compelled to destroy anything that opposes it. We have seen a good deal of this kind of idolatry in recent years. To make limited historical phenomena - a particular idea of "God," "creation science," "family values," "Islam" (understood as an institutional and civilizational entity), or the "Holy Land" - more important than the sacred reverence due to the "others" is a sacrilegious denial of everything that "God" stands for. It is idolatrous, because it elevates an inherently limited value to an unacceptably high level. Atheists are right to condemn such abuses. But when they insist that society should no longer tolerate faith and demand the withdrawal of respect from all things religious, they fall prey to the same intolerance.
Compiled From:
"The Case for God" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 321, 322
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Kindness All Around
Al-Nisa (Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 36
"Worship God alone and do not associate with Him any partners. Be kind to your parents and near of kin, to orphans, the needy, the neighbour who is related to you and the neighbour who is a stranger, the friend by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. God does not love those who are arrogant and boastful."
The first commandment is to worship God, which is followed by a prohibition of worshipping anyone other than Him. This is a total and absolute prohibition of all sorts of worship which man has practised in all ages and communities.
This is followed by a commandment to extend kindness to parents in particular and relatives in general. We also note in this verse, as in many others, that Divine directives begin by emphasizing the need to be kind to one's relatives before widening their concern to include all those who need to be looked after in society or in humanity at large. Compassion towards others begins at home, in one's own immediate family. A person who has not shown compassion towards his family, hardly ever shows compassion towards others.
This commandment to extend our kindness to all these groups is followed by a comment which denounces conceit and arrogance, miserliness, suppression of God's favours, boastfulness and showing off. All these are attributes to one basic cause, namely, lack of faith in God and the Day of Judgement.
Compiled From:
"In the Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 3, pp. 144-147

Understanding The Prophet's Life Understanding The Prophet's Life

Two Types of Charity
Other than the charity of giving part of one's wealth to others, charity, in its broadest Islamic concept, can be divided into two main categories. The first category consists of the acts of goodness and kindness that are done toward other human beings. Acts of goodness that are done directly toward oneself constitutes the second category.
The first category includes acts as mentioned by the Prophet,
"Your smiling at your brother is a charitable act for you. Your ordering good and eradicating evil is a charitable act. Your guiding a man in a land wherein he is lost is a charitable act. Your helping a man with bad eyesight to see is a charitable act. Your removing a stone, thorn or bone from the road is a charitable act. Your emptying your cup into the cup of your brother is a charitable act." [Tirmidhi]
An important act of charity of the second category that is available to everyone, no matter how poor or rich, is the act of refraining from harming others. Abu Dharr once asked the Prophet, peace upon him, what he should do if he does not have the ability to perform some of the good deeds. The Prophet told him,
"Keep your evil away from the people and that will be a charitable act from yourself upon yourself." [Muslim, Bukhari]
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 976, 977

Blindspot! Blindspot!

Female, Male
No human society has ever succeeded in promoting complete equality between women and men. We still have a long way to go. Even though the old representations that associated women with the body, seduction and impurity have been done away with - albeit not entirely in certain traditional societies or in some fundamentalist or literalist circles - the fact remains that we have yet to achieve the objectives of justice, the absence of social discrimination and the right to autonomy and equal pay. We find in all societies - without exception - social and cultural behaviours that encourage the ill treatment of women, domestic violence and the stigmatization and marginalization of girls.
And yet neither women nor men can make it on their own. They must walk together along the road of the quest for meaning as they assert the existence of a shared universal and as they demand freedom, dignity, autonomy and justice. They are equal but not the same, and both men and women must allow the other to bring their distinctive outlook towards the resolution of common problems. Within this partnership, both men and women will be able to take a new look at the basic questions of meaning, freedom, masculinity, paternity and authority by coming to terms with what they are. Their beings and their paths may well be distinct, but their destinations and their hopes are surely the same.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 92-95
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friday Nasihah (sorry its late)

Living The Quran
Challenging Intellect
Al-Rum (The Romans) - Chapter 30: Verses 23-24
"And among His signs is your sleep at night and in the daytime, and your seeking of His bounty; surely in that are signs for people who listen. And among His signs is that He shows you the lightning that bears fear and hope, and that He sends down water from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had been lifeless; surely in that are signs for people who use their minds."
The succession of sleep and wakefulness followed by activity in earning one's living shows a biological and intellectual ability for the human being to live in harmony with the cosmic design of day and night in general, with the exception of those whose work is at night and thus they must sleep during the day, but such people are substantially fewer in their numbers.
The same natural features, such as the lightning that accompanies thunder, can have benefit and/or harmful effects on different people, and thus can raise hope, with its ensuing rain as well as fear of possible damage to homes or lives, in the human being, who is challenged to find protection from the harm through the human intellect. As a result of the challenge to the human intellect to find protection from lightning, the lightning rod was invented in the eighteenth century. Through such contrasting messages, the human being ought to think deeply about the creation and the Creator, about this life with all its pleasures and insecurities as well as the eternal pleasures of the life to come. Nature in its various phenomena represents an open and comprehensive exposition of knowledge throughout the world for all those who may perceive and contemplate.
Compiled From:
"Concepts of The Quran" - Fathi Osman, pp. 40, 41

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Causes are not made victorious through the efforts of fame seekers, but through the efforts of those who were described in a hadith to be "righteous, pious and quiet ... those who if they are present are not known and if absent, not missed, and those whose hearts are the lamps of guidance." [Al-Hakim]
Allah the Almighty does not accept a deed with shared objective, nor a heart with shared beliefs. We might say that we seek to establish an Islamic community, and Islamic State or an Islamic ruling system or that we work for restoring the integrated Islamic way of life, or any other short or long term objective, but our goal in all this should be to gain the Pleasure of Allah so that He may count us among His righteous servants.
Compiled From:
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in The Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, p. 103

Past Pain
The suffering we have experienced in our own life can also help us to appreciate the depths of other people's unhappiness. That is why it is important to revisit your own past pain. The dynamic of this Golden Rule is beautifully expressed in an early sura of the Quran (Ad-Duha) in which God asks Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to remember the sorrows of his childhood - he had been orphaned as small child, parceled out to relatives, and for years was a marginalized member of his family and tribe - and make sure that nobody else in his community would endure this deprivation.
Our pain, therefore, can become an education in compassion. Some people deliberately steel their hearts against involvement with other people's suffering: the businessperson has no option but to sack an inefficient employee, and the doctor cannot afford to become emotionally distraught each time a patient dies. It is natural to try to avoid unnecessary grief. We don't want to listen to the sad story that a colleague is telling us. We feel that we have enough to deal with and push her troubles from our mind. We hurry past the homeless man outside the supermarket, refusing to allow his plight to disturb our equanimity. But when this happens, it is time to recall our own past distress. Remember the things that help you when you are having a bad day - a kind word, a smile, a joke - and try to give that gift to a testy colleague. Remember what it is like to feel alone with sadness and take the trouble to listen to your friend's tale of woe: "And one who asks for help - do not turn him away."
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 99-102

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homeschooling and books I'm reading.

Well my son started homeschooling this week and I think the book I mentioned before is not quite challenging enough for him and he completes the work quite quickly. The book is in English and not offered in French so I am worried about him losing his French skills as he has always gone to French school except for the time he homeschooled before. I'm thinking of supplementing his work with French material from the library.

Remember when I had a book club? Seems so long ago. So what have you been reading? Right now I am reading Lost History which I had to get through interlibrary loan. It was recommended to me by one of my blog readers. I've also been reading various books by Malcolm Gladwell; an author who has such interesting book topics. Also The Sealed Nectar was gifted to me and it goes quite well with reading Lost History.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Al-Fussilat (Clearly Expounded) - Chapter 41: Verse 34
"Nor are the good deed and the evil deed equal. Repel evil with what is better; then will he between whom and thee was hatred, become, as it were, thy friend and intimate."
The message in this verse is that wickedness must not be allowed to perpetuate itself: if evil is reciprocated with evil, then this will be the necessary outcome. To avoid this, the Quran enjoins the Prophet, peace be upon him, to repel evil with what is better and, by doing so, to turn potential hatred into friendship.
Another point to be noted here is that God Most High has granted no one, not even the Prophet, absolute freedom of speech. For the Prophet is given specific guidance as to the way he must propagate his call and communicate with people through good advice and courteous methods of persuasion.
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 129

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Seeking and getting knowledge is both an act of worship in itself as well as a means to further purify one's soul. The act of seeking knowledge itself is a potential means of receiving forgiveness and mercy from Allah while it, in turn, has an effect upon the person that leads to even more benefits. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said,
"Whoever follows a path in order to seek knowledge thereby, Allah will make easy for him, due to it, a path to Paradise. No people gather together in a house of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility is descended upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them and Allah makes mention of them to those in His presence." [Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Soul" - Jamal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 292, 293

Education means 'drawing' or 'guiding' individuals out of themselves so that they can establish a conscious relationship with themselves and their physical and social environment. When we are born, we are all physically dependent on our parents or carers. We need to be welcomed into the world, fed, protected and looked after if we are to survive, live and reach the first stages of learning. This dependency in itself requires education, and it is only then that the individual begins to revolve naturally.
Being a human being means, first of all, 'becoming a human being' ... and it is only through education that we become human beings. That is why education is a basic, inalienable right that must be guaranteed in all human societies. Education has as much to do with the transmission of a value-system, behavioural norms and elements of culture as with the transmission of pure knowledge and the skills pertaining to what is usually called training. If there is one universal principle common to all spiritualities, religions, philosophies, civilizations and cultures, it is education. Education is a precondition for man's humanity, and it is an immutable and inalienable right.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 127

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trip to Malaysia part 11 -Twin Towers

After going to Shah Alam it was time to go back to Kuala Lumpur or KL for short. We made our way by taxi to The Twin Towers or properly Petronas Twin Towers. Although I had been to KL briefly before in 2000 I never had the chance to go there. I made sure it was a must see this time. After seeing places for years in pictures its always surreal to see them in real life. The twin towers are basically a huge mall and we did spend time there shopping and eating with relatives that live there.  Its beautiful but I couldn't not notice the huge Chinese influence there; Chinese people are everywhere and the majority are not Muslim so you feel like you are not really in a Muslim country when you are there. I was not impressed when the Chinese girl in the mini-skirt tried to ply her Playboy perfume samples on me. I really felt like screaming. I couldn't blame her because the other Muslims seemed to have no problem with the whole scenario. I still remember the first time I saw this brand at the pasar malam in Kota Bharu and was so shocked. Now that brand is all over Canada and it makes me sick. But in a Muslim majority country I just felt intense anger. If Muslims are really controlling the gov't I would say they are just a bunch of paper tigers. Money talks and it really seems like the Malays are living under the thumbs of the Chinese aside from the so-called Bumiputra rights. Another thing that really stood out to me was how all the menial jobs were being done by Malays and Indians. The Chinese are all fit and trim and the Malays have become overweight and depressed. Back in 2000 I never saw so many happy people in my life. I told my kids you are going to see how smiley and happy Malays are when you get there but I was soon to be proved wrong. I don't know what has happened in the last 12 yrs but everything is a big mess in Malaysia now. Since leaving all I hear about is the high crime rate over there, the lack of jobs and gov't corruption. So the towers are beautiful but underneath there is a lurking ugliness. I also noticed a lot of Arabs this time who I am told have driven up the prices of everything

and white foreigners who were not speaking English. Of course Malaysia is closer to Europe than North America but it was so weird for me. After our visit to the twin towers we went to Aquaria which was suggested to me by someone on this blog if I'm not mistaken. It was also very beautiful and amazing and the kids loved it but I kept thinking about how the world is a paradise for the animals since they will never go to Jannah and keeping them behind glass on display is not my idea of a paradise for them. I would suggest scuba diving or snorkeling instead but I'm too chicken myself. There is a lot of walking around to be done on such a trip and I did become exhausted due to my leg problem and had to demand a break. Its hard to have an invisible disease because you look just fine on the outside and people think you are just slacking.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spaghetti sqash and homeschooling soon.

So I made spaghetti sqash for the first time yesterday. Nadoona advised it last year instead of real spaghetti but I never got around to making it. I'd never tried it in my life before either. Only one of my kids liked it and I liked it a little so instead of it going to waste I decided to see if there was such thing as spaghetti squash bread and there is, so I morphed my meal into that! While it was baking its smelt amazing and then when I got to try it finally I thought; sweet and savoury. This time my kids actually liked it! Phew!

Homeschooling is something however that I've tried before. I didn't really want to go down that road again after way too many bumps but my son has decided he would like to be homeschooled again. Wasn't he the one who begged to go back? He is in grade 7 and not impressed with the curriculum which forces you to dance, listen to music and have co-ed gym. So insha Allah I will be homeschooling again. Already picked up his curriculum book Complete Canadian Curriculum for grade 7 from Indigo where I also got myself a blanket (its warm and cuddly, I couldn't resist). So maybe I'll start blogging about homeschooling again..hmm...

I wonder...does anyone read my blog anymore? Does anyone miss the book club? Is anybody out there? My daughter has accused me of abandoning my blog due to facebook but really its just that I'm not sure if anyone is interested in what I have to say anymore.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Sacred Months
Al-Tawba (Repentance) - Chapter 9: Verse 36 (partial)
"The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein."
Ever since Allah created the sun, the moon and the earth, the new moon takes place only once in a month; thus the year has always been of twelve months.
Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months. These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qida, Dhul-Hijja, Muharram and Rajab.
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.
The meaning of the names of the months in Hijrah calendar:
  1. Muharram ["Forbidden" - it is one of the four months during which time it is forbidden to wage war or fight]
  2. Safar ["Empty" or "Yellow"]
  3. Rabi al-Awwal ["First spring"]
  4. Rabi al-Thani ["Second spring"]
  5. Jumada al-Awwal ["First freezing"]
  6. Jumada al-Thani ["Second freezing"]
  7. Rajab ["To respect" - this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited]
  8. Shaban ["To spread and distribute"]
  9. Ramadan ["Parched thirst" - this is the month of Islamic daytime fasting]
  10. Shawwal ["To be light and vigorous"]
  11. Dhul-Qida ["The month of rest" - another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
  12. Dhul-Hijja ["The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
Compiled From:
"Muharram" - Taqi Usmani
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi
"Making Resolutions That Matter" - Young Muslims Canada

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Due to misconceptions, most people define religion as blind faith, meaningless acts of worship, a consolation for life's problems. Some Muslims have compounded this mistake by reducing Islam to an ideology, a social, economic, and political system. They ignore one fact stated in the Quran, the Traditions, and throughout Islamic history: Islam, the middle way between all extremes, addresses itself to all human faculties and senses, as well as to each individual's mind, heart, and feelings, and encompasses every aspect of human life. That is why Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stressed learning, trading, agriculture, action, and thought.
Moreover, he encouraged his people to do perfectly whatever they did, and condemned inaction and begging. For example, he said: "God loves a believing, skilful servant." [Fayd al-Qadir] As all of our actions will be displayed on the Day of Judgment, we cannot be careless and do something half-heartedly just to get rid of it. Moreover, the Messenger declares: "When you do something, God likes you to do it perfectly." [Kanz al-Ummal]
Compiled From:
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, p. 193
It is true, as the old adage says, that charity begins at home. The family is a school of compassion because it is here that we learn to live with other people. Family life involves self-sacrifice, because daily we have to put ourselves to one side in order to accommodate the needs of other family members; nearly every day there is something to forgive. Instead of seeing this as an irritant, we should see these tensions as opportunities for growth and transformation.
Ask yourself what you really feel about your family. What makes you proud and happy about them? Make a list of the ways in which your family nourishes you. Perhaps you could write a letter to them outlining your history as a family, and your hopes and fears for each person in it. Does your family have a black sheep, and how has this situation come about? Can it be rectified? How do you conduct arguments and disagreements? What are your particular strengths in family life? Is there anything more you could do? What would make each member of the family feel supremely valued? How can you make your family a school for compassion, where children learn the value of treating all others with respect? What would life be like if all family members made a serious attempt to treat one another "all day and every day" as they would wish to be treated themselves? How would life be improved, for example, if everybody made a consistent effort to avoid speaking too hastily?
We know that people brought up in dysfunctional families find it difficult to make good relationships in later life; they can have psychological problems that cause them to increase the sum of pain in the world. Creating a compassionate family life is one of the ways in which we can all make a constructive contribution to a more empathetic society in the future.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 69-71