Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Urgency of The Da'wah

Dawah Is something that is seriously lacking, while where I live at least. We have days where the mosque will have an open house and once a year the MSA will put on an Islamic Cultural expo, but I think we need to do more, classes on Islam should be held at community centers not just at expensive universities. Mosque's should have community events, not just for the Muslim community, but for the general population of the community. I grew up going to Sunday school in the church and have seen all that they do to welcome people to Christianity, fairs and weekly charities were a common thing and attracted many people. InshAllah one day the mosques will do the same, for now I found this article very interesting, enjoy!
Urgency of The Da'wah
Allah (swt) says: "Say, This is my way: I call to Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me. and Glorified and Exalted is Allah. And I am not of the Mushrikeen" [Yusuf:108]Carrying the Dawah is the task of Prophets. It is of the best and most honourable deeds. Allah (SWT) says: "Who is better in speech than the one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness, and says I am one the Muslims ?" [Fussilat:33]For the believers who possess the Islamic Aqeeda, the current world we are living in should agitate them to carry the guidance that they posses so that it becomes established and removes the evils that are drowning the world. This will lead to a blazing passion and urgency for the Dawah. Our lowly situation will not be reversed without our actions, it is the actions of the Dawah that lead to change and open the path to revival. When our mothers and sisters cry out in Iraq or Palestine from the pain inflicted upon them by the aggressors, when a fighter cries out in Chechnia and Afghanistan due to being bombarded, when the child in Darfur has tears of pain and hunger streaming down his face. It us that must respond to this call because today there is no Khalifah like al-Mu'tasim to rescue the women of the Ummah, there is no Umar bin al Khattab to send food for the hungry, there is no Salahudeen to protect the Islamic lands. Rather today it is us who are the guardians of this Ummah and who are responsible to bring back the protection, honour and might to this Ummah by re-establishing the Khilafah, the shade of Allah (swt) on the earth.Allah (swt) entrusted us to be the witnesses over humanity, He (swt) says: “We have made you the best nation to be witnesses over mankind. And the Messenger as a witness over you.” [Al-Baqarah:143]Indeed it is a great responsibility, the entire world and its problems rests upon our shoulders. But remember together with responsibility comes reward and with reward comes Jannah.Hasan al Basri narrated that Allah's Messenger (saw) said: "He whom death overtakes while he is engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophets in Paradise." [Al-Tirmidhi]Anas narrated that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "There is some people in my Ummah that they are rewarded like the reward of the beginners of this Ummah; this is because they are forbidding what is wrong" [Musnad Ahmad] Let us be these people by enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. The Dawah should never become a tiny flickering flame in our hearts so that we become slow in carrying it. The burning urgency of the situation of the Ummah generates the roaring fire in the heart of the believer, this should never dissipate turning us into passive beings hesitant in the actions of the Dawah rather than being the inspirational leaders of it. This disease is one implanted by the Shaytan, it is his call to transform the energetic into the lazy, the active into the passive and the Dawah carrier into the lifeless drone. Indeed laziness, isolation, despair and defeatism are among the calls of Shaytan and he is trying relentlessly to lure the Dawah carriers away from the Deen and the Dawah. Allah (swt) mentioned that the Shaytan, Iblis said: "I will make the wrong fair seeming to the believers".Therefore we must banish the Shaytan and all his whispering from our hearts and minds. Allah (swt) says:“Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of mankind, the King of Mankind, the God of mankind, from the evil of the sneaking whisperer who whispers into the hearts of mankind.” [An-Naas: 1-5]The pace of the Dawah must be faster than our heart beats as it is more important than our interests and our blood, it is something that should awaken the sleeping and make the walking run.The Prophet (saw) was most truthful when he (saw) said: “The grinding wheel of Islam is turning. So, turn with it wherever it turns.” [Tabarani]
Abu Ismael

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Today Sucks!!!

Today is a really shitty day, it's now been a year since a friend of mine that I've known since I was 7 passed away. All my other friends that knew her are in another city and I really wish I was there with them, like we were last year. This friend never judged me, even when I told her I was getting married at 19 to someone who could have very well used me for citizenship purposes ( thank God, I really don't have to worry about that). Instead this person threw me a wedding party, and invited everyone I knew. She was sweet and loving and did so much for others. She was able to travel and teach and absorb another culture. If there is one thing I will regret for my entire life is that we drifted apart during the last few years of her life and for that I'm truly sorry. Good friends are hard to find, and they can never be replaced.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sects are HARAM in Islam

Jum'a Khutba: Islam vs. the Sects
The topic of my discussion today is about unity among Muslims. As we all know, Muslims are a very divided people. The existence of 57 Muslim nations instead of one bears witness to this unfortunate fact. We find all the excuses in the world to create division amongst ourselves. We divide ourselves on according to race, sect, our pre-Islamic cultures, political opinions, ancestry and even on the imams we follow! Brothers and sisters, none of these excuses for separation are considered valid by Allah, and therefore we should not consider them valid either.
A good Muslim is one who is without denomination, faction, or any other special loyalty. The prophet (SAWS), in his final speech to the whole Ummah, said that between Muslims, there are no races or tribes. We have divided the Ummah which our nabi (SAWS) tried so hard to keep together. Allah warns us, in verse 105 of surah #3 not to allow ourselves to dissociate. The verse reads:

The approximate meaning in English is:"And be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful punishment in store".
Islam, being a flexible religion, allows for a variety of opinions and customs, as long as they do not contradict the religion. As mentioned, religious disagreements between the so-called sects of Islam can be resolved by turning to the Quran, not by segregation. The Quran is the book of guidance for ALL OF mankind. How can we convince anyone of this if we cannot even be united amongst ourselves! We are making a mockery of ourselves to non-muslims by refusing to follow the simple instructions of our own holy book! Allah's disapproval of disunity among Muslims is evident in verse 103 of surat Al-Imran:
The approximate meaning is:And hold fast, all of you, to the rope of Allah, and do not separate. And remember Allah's favour unto you: how you were enemies and He made friendship between your hearts so that you became brothers by His grace: and how you were upon the brink of an abyss fire, and He did save you from it.
Thus, Allah maketh clear His revelations unto you that haply you may be guided.
The ayah refers to how the Meccans and Medinians were united by the grace of Allah. This example illustrates how Islam was, and should still be, a uniting force between Muslims despite any superficial differences which may exist between us. The ayah also tells us that the Quran contains very clear guidance. Given that, there is no reason why any two Muslims should not practice Islam the same way, the way Allah has instructed.
The most shameful division among Muslims is that of denomination; the major ones being sunni, sheea, and ismaeli. These are all artificial divisions which have absolutely nothing to do with Allahs revealed deen. Who are we to cut up Allahs deen into little pieces, especially when Allah has forbidden us to do so? This is a crime committed by nearly 1 billion Muslims. A study of the history of these sects reveals that they were created PURELY by political disagreements. Later, innovations in religion lead to religious differences. An honest study of the Quran easily reveals these innovations (which I will not mention for the time being, due to time constraints). Nowhere in the Quran is there any mention of sunni, sheea, or ismaeli, and so we must make these terms alien to our vocabulary!
The Quran is very clear in this matter. Allah has declared that sectarianism is Haram. As Muslims, we are prohibited even from involvement with people who restrict themselves to a so-called subdivision of Islam. This point is mentioned in verse 159 of surah #6:
As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast NO PART IN THEM IN THE LEAST, their affair is with Allah, He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.
It is interesting to note that when Quran refers to those who will inhabit the jahannam, Allah often mentions that they will see the truth of all that they did or that they will receive just treatment for all that they used to do. These endings are never mentioned for those people who will enter Paradise. They are reserved especially for the sinners; those sinners who will be punished. So you be the judge: What do you think is in store for those people just described? Verses 27-28 of surah #45 of the Quran make this comparison too, but they also stress that on the Day of Judgment, followers of all sects will be in the same category. These verses read as follows:
...The Day that the Hour of Judgment is established, that day will the dealers in falsehood perish, and thou will see EVERY sect bowing the knee, every sect will be called to its record: This day shall ye be recompensed for all that ye did.
It is obvious that sinners are being described. Bowing the knee is a phrase used to describe the position of the wrongdoers on the Day of Judgment. In the example given, the sinners are those people who claim loyalty to ANY so-called sect of Islam.
A Muslim is defined as one who follows the religion of Allah, Al-Islam. Divisions exist to separate differences. If we divide ourselves, it is due either to some worldly difference between us or a difference in faith (as mentioned, neither is justifiable). A deliberate alteration of faith does not create a sect of Islam, it creates a distinct faith which the followers may claim to be a sect of Islam. Thus, there is a great danger involved in attributing oneself to one of the many so-called sects of Islam. Loyalty is allowed only for Allah, His messenger, and to those people who claim loyalty to Allah and his Messenger (SAWS) (i.e. the Muslims). Those of us who declare loyalty to a specific sect had better beware; sect of Islam is a contradiction of terms. You can have one or the other, not both! In accord with this, verse 32 of surah #30 of the Quran reads:

And be not like those who join gods with Allah, those who split up their religion and become (mere) sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself!
The words, "that which is with itself" refer to those differences which people use to justify their separation from Islam. Notice that polytheism, the greatest sin, is prohibited along side with division of religion. This pairing, like everything else in the Quran, is deliberate. It is meant to demonstrate the magnitude of this crime.
All of us must refuse to attribute ourselves to any of the man made divisions of Islam. If anyone asks you if you are Sunni, or Sheea, tell them that you are a Muslim, who believes in the seven beliefs, and practices the five pillars. Tell them that you strive to live according to the way Allah has instructed in the Quran.
Take a moment to reflect upon these questions: To what sect did Mohammed (SAWS) belong to? Whose example was the best example of how a Muslim should live his/her life? If the prophet (SAWS) were alive today, what would his opinion be on this subject? Should we, being followers of Islam, not try to keep our opinion consistent with the prophets (SAWS)? How can a non-Muslim be attracted to Islam knowing that there are so many versions of it, and if a non-Muslim decides to embrace Islam, wouldn't his/her joining of a sect ruin such a beautiful decision? During the time of our beloved prophet (SAWS), Muslims called themselves just that, Muslims. Nobody was a Sheea, or a Bohra, or an Ahmedi, or a Sunni, or an Ismaeli, or a Qadiani or a Duruz, or a Bahai, or an Ansarullah, or anything. All Muslims were equal. Everyone proudly proclaimed the Shahada:
Ash-hadu Allaa ilaaha ill-Allahu WaHdahu laa shareeka lah, wa Ash-hadu Anna MuHammadan abduhu wa rasooluh!
I now call upon all of you to immediately renounce any special religious loyalty which you may posses. For the love of Allah, the one who created you and blessed you with his deen, forget that you belong to any group and be proud that you are Muslim. And renouncing the sect is not enough if we continue to practice Islam with our differences. We must investigate what caused the formation of the sect and what characteristics of the sect are incompatible with Islam. We must seek knowledge of our religion in order to practice it as perfectly as we are capable. It is obvious that anyone who belongs to a sect and claims to be Muslim believes that their sect represents true Islam. I have two things to say to that. First of all, merely labeling oneself as one kind of Muslim or another is Haram as it is division in the most direct sense. Secondly, look up the date the Islam was revealed and then look up the date that your sect of the religion was born. After finding that they are not equal, dont even dare to claim that your sect is true Islam. That would be an insult to the Rasoolullah (SAWS).
As a final reminder, I will introduce another quote from the Holy Quran that again points to the fact that unity among Muslims is an indispensable, fundamental part of Islam:
The approximate meaning is:"Verily, you are one Ummah. I am your Lord, worship me"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are Islamic Forums Really Islamic? Do Muslims Act UnIslamic?

I have been a Muslim for over two years now. Whilst I am deeply satisfied with Islam on an intellectual and theological level, much too often I have been far from happy in my experiences with fellow Muslims on a practical level. I have faced considerable difficulties in my attempts to develop as a Muslim. Although I have made the acquaintance of many Muslims, this has been mostly only on a superficial level. I have to admit when I first converted to Islam the first thing I did was look for friends and information online. I went to "Islamic forums" and joined some yahoo groups thinking it was the best way to find the Muslim community. Well I should have gone somewhere else because both of these online communities turned out to be a very big mistake. In the yahoo group I joined I found myself sticking up for a new sister who had a dog, only to be attacked by another member who said I wasn't a Muslim and should say my shahada over again because nothing would be accepted of me, the moderators of that group let this woman publish all her hatred towards me and my opinion not even caring that I had just become a Muslim a few months back and was still learning. The forums if anything were much worse. The first forum I ended up joining was not moderated and had people putting Islam down using the most unintellectual words I have ever heard in my life, as well there were people airing their dirty laundry around about their husbands or boyfriends and that was coming from Muslims!!!! I went back to that site to see if anything has changed, only to find out it was closed, thank God!! You see even though that was a horrid site, I did meet 2 wonderful people there, unfortunately one of them I completely lost contact with. I moved on to other forums, I will not name them but I will say that it became very disheartening when I was seeing topics called "Deviated Sects, And Callers" and threads such as "Protect Yourself Against Suffism and Sufis", and "What Happens to Women Without Hijab".
There are many excellent sites out there, but I would caution the new Muslim not to accept the information on all sites blindly, particularly if they have an arrogant, strident or unpleasant tone or stray from plain facts and concentrate on controversial opinion or on an overtly political agenda. I would also urge new Muslims to avoid email forums or chat rooms about Islam absolutely. There are some nasty people lurking there - self-styled pseudo scholars preaching hellfire, doling out personal abuse and decrying sincere Muslims as non-believers. I was left utterly demoralized at one time and very, very angry on several occasions. I have now unsubscribed from all such forums. New Muslims should keep in mind the Hadith: "Verily, Allah is mild and is fond of mildness, and He gives to the mild what He does not give to the harsh." (Muslim) If a website or e-group you come across is far removed from the above, then remove yourself from it! There are also nice, well-meaning people who offer advice about matters of faith and practice without being in any way qualified to do so. If they get things wrong, they could unwittingly be leading the uninitiated astray and doing more harm than good. Be wary of accepting anything without a quotation from the Quran or authenticated hadith to back it up. Having said that, if it is one of the nasty brigade who has come seemingly armed with references, firstly check the actual quotation in your Quran. Have they really only quoted what is there or have they embellished it with their own interpretation? It happens. And, if the quotation is genuine but sounds harsh to your ears, then use a commentary to become aware of the context in which the verse was revealed. Read widely. For every hard-line, unpleasant interpretation, there is usually a mild one from a serious writer or scholar. Based on my personal experience, my advice either to new Muslims or anyone considering the possibility of accepting Islam would be simply to judge a religion not by its adherents, many of whom may fall far short of the ideal in a variety of ways (and I include myself in that!), but rather by the theology and teachings of the religion itself. Only a handful of people have been of any help to me and quite a few hard-line politicos and joyless, uptight puritans have been a real hindrance. However, despite my great disappointment at both the lack of organized support available to new Muslims rather than God-centered Islam so prevalent today, plus my intense dislike of the nasty behavior and attitudes of some of the Muslims I have encountered in person but mostly online, I have most definitely found in the religion of Islam an intellectual and theological satisfaction that I never knew in Christianity. And at the end of the day, one's beliefs about God are what truly matters.