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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Thanksgiving: The Essence of Belief

How does thanksgiving contribute to one’s belief? Is it just a faith requirement or just moral development? How can we reach the state of thankfulness?

The hadith of Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) is considered by most Muslim scholars to be one of the fundamental texts of our religion. It presents, in a comprehensive way, the foundations of Islam.

the essence of Islam

The spiritual path is not a philosophical picnic. It requires action; the action of the heart, the tongue and the limbs.

This is made clear by the fact that the Prophet (blessings and peace upon him) mentions to `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) at the conclusion of the hadith: “’O `Umar! Do you know who the questioner was?’ Umar replied: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best’. The Prophet replied: ‘Verily, it was the Angel Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion’”. (Muslim)

This narration focuses on four things that are essential to our religion: Islam (Muslim practice), Iman (Muslim dogma), ihsan (states of inner excellence) and the Sa`ah (Doomsday).

To rephrase the focal points of this hadith, we can say that Islam is a religion that demands of its adherents that they do something, that they believe something, that they embody something and that they prepare for something. What we do involves the devotional acts that are enjoined by the religion. This is the essence of Islam, in this particular context.

What we believe involves the dogma that we affirm as agreed upon by the scholars who have mastered the prophetic message and distilled from it the essential beliefs whose affirmation is necessary if a person is to be considered a Muslim. This is the essence of iman, again, in the context of the hadith.

The states of being that a believer embodies are illustrated, in the immediate context of the hadith of Gabriel, by the saying of the Prophet: “…that you worship Allah as if you see Him. If you fail to see Him, be mindful that He observes you”. This is the essence of ihsan.

Finally, by living a life, which encompasses in a real way all of the aforementioned elements, we are preparing for the end of things in the world, or Doomsday.

To expound further on the idea of a Muslim embodying something, we can add that this is an aspect of our religion that many Muslims fail to adequately consider. Specifically, the idea that we are to embody the prophetic virtues is lost by many. Those virtues, which the Prophet embodied, are an articulation of the ontological stations he attained to.

In other words, his very being, for example, embodied the station of patience. This ontological reality then manifested itself in his character as he displayed unmatched patience in his dealings with others. This is what ihsan is about.

Imam al-Qushayri, in his Risala, mentions some of the states a believer should strive to embody: repentance or penitence (tawbah); sincere exertion in worship (mujahada); spiritual insularity (khalwah or `uzlah); God-consciousness (taqwa); religious scrupulousness (wara`); worldly detachment (zuhd); silence (samt); fear of God (khawf); hope for God’s Mercy (raja’); sobriety of heart (huzn); suppression of the appetite for food and drink (Ju`); humility (tawadu`); opposing the whims of one’s ego (mukhalafa an-nafs); avoiding envy (hasad); avoiding backbiting (ghaybah); contentment (qana`ah); trusting in Allah (tawakkul); thankfulness (shukr); being certain of divine truths (yaqeen); patience (sabr); being mindful of Allah’s observation of one (muraqabah); being pleased with Allah’s decree (rida); willing servitude to Allah (`ubudiyyah); strong conviction for truth and religion (iradah); consistency (istiqamah); sincerity in all of the relevant realms (ikhlas); honesty (sidq); shyness (haya’); freedom from the weight of worldly engagements (hurriyyah); constant remembrance of Allah (dhikr); concern for others (al-Futuwwa); viewing things in the light of truth (firasa); good character (khuluq); generosity (jud) and many others. (Abi Al-Qasim Al-Qushayri, Al-Risala)

Thanksgiving: How?

One of the loftiest of stations mentioned by Imam Al-Qushayri, and others, is that of thankfulness (shukr). To fully strive for the actualization of this station in our lives we must know its meaning. The linguistic meaning of shukr is from sha-ka-ra, which means an animal attaining to pasture and then fattening on it.

Thus, the Arabs say, sha-ka-tat al-ibilu, meaning the camels attained to pasture and became fat. The expression hisan shakur means a horse that is fattened up by very little fodder. In general, an animal that is shakur eats little but grows much.

This definition gives us insight into the nature of a thankful person. It does not take much to please them. We find that a person that is truly thankful is appreciative of very little. When we give them the smallest gift they are deeply grateful and seek to express their gratitude in the warmest terms and kindest actions. As for the ingrate, no matter how much they receive they desire more and fail to express any gratitude for what they have received.

Thus, the effect of a blessing, be it pasture or fodder, is seen on the animal who receives that blessing, in its increased size. Likewise, the effect of a blessing given by Allah to His servant manifests itself on the tongue, heart and limbs of a thankful person. Hence, in the technical usage of the religious scholars, as expressed by Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, thankfulness means ‘to manifest one’s appreciation for the blessings bestowed by Allah on the tongue, through praise and acknowledgment; in the heart by witnessing the giver of the blessing and loving Him; and on the limbs by willingly accepting His guidance and obeying Him’.

This definition helps us to understand that the spiritual path is not a philosophical picnic. It requires action; the action of the heart, the tongue and the limbs. Knowledge though, does play its part, in fact, as emphasized by Imam Al-Ghazali in the Ihya’, it is the foundation of the subsequent acts of thankfulness. He says:

‘You should know that thankfulness is among the stations of those journeying to Allah. It is also (like other stations) organized around the categories of knowledge (`ilm), state (hal) and action (`Amal). Knowledge is the foundation and it bequeaths the state, while the state (in turn) bequeaths action. As for knowledge it is the knowledge that the blessing is from the giver of blessings (Allah: Al-Mun`im).The ensuing state is the happiness resulting from His bestowing the blessing. The action is undertaking what is intended and loved by the giver of the blessing’. (Al Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum Ad-Deen)

Imam Al-Ghazali outlines a process whereby thankfulness can become actualized in our lives. The foundation of this process is the knowledge that every blessing we have ultimately comes from Allah. In our increasingly ’material’ world people are losing touch with this great reality. Many view their hard work, intellect or creativity as the source of the good they enjoy. They cannot conceive of the role played by the divine in their good fortune.

Hence, we witness the growing disinclination on the part of the wealthy to share their wealth with the less fortunate members of our society. In the face of appeals for greater charity we increasingly hear retorts such as, ’Poor people should work hard as I did…’ ‘Those people should pick themselves up by their bootstraps like we did…’ People uttering such statements may recognize the blessings they enjoy, but they fail to see the giver of those blessings, and because they do not see or acknowledge the giver of the blessing, they neither see nor acknowledge the rights He has established in their wealth.

The various sayings of the scholars we have considered let us know that to really be people of thankfulness we must be people who praise and worship our Lord. When the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah upon him, was asked why he was standing in prayer at night until his feet were swollen, he replied, as the tears flowed down his cheeks, ”Should I not then be a thankful servant?” (Al-Bukhari) His thankfulness was expressed in his worship. This should be our case.

A final way we can express our thankfulness in indicated by the name of Allah, Ash-Shakur. One of the meanings of this name is one who rewards a small amount of human effort with a great amount of grace. A vile criminal can enter into Islam one moment and then die the next. Having done only one righteous deed, uttering the Testimony of Faith, he is rewarded with eternal bliss in Paradise. How small was his action compared to the magnitude of Allah’s grace?

This should remind us that in all of our relations and dealings in the world we should try to give far more than we take. This is especially important when the dominant ethos is becoming ‘take as much as you can and give as little as possible’.

Let us take time to reflect on what it truly means to be thankful, and let us work to the extent of our capabilities to extend the blessings we enjoy to others, not just on one day, but every day.

_________________________

Source: newislamicdirections.com.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Deluding Behavior of Man

By Dr. Ahmad Al-Khalidi

Man’s Free Will

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the world realized that there is an absolute power that manages the whole world.

Allah (God) created Man and endowed him with the freedom of choice. So, unlike angels, who cannot disobey Allah (Exalted be He), Man can choose and decide what way to follow or what deed to do; however, he is responsible to Allah for what he does or for what he chooses whether good or evil.

Thus, Man will either be rewarded for his good deeds or punished as a result of his evil deeds. Nevertheless, Allah, the Most Merciful, does not leave Man without help or guidance.

He (Exalted be He) sends Messengers and Prophets to Mankind throughout Man-history to guide and enjoin them to follow the right path that leads to the pleasure of Allah and ultimately to Paradise, at the same time to warn Man against wrongdoing that may lead him to the wrath of Allah and eventually to torture in Hell.

Life Is a Test

If we trace Mankind history in this world, we notice that Allah (Exalted be He) tests Man by evil and by good.  We read in the Quran what means:

Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must you return. (Quran 21:35)

So, Allah blesses Man with the blessings of hearing, sight, and heart as well as so many blessings such as health and wealth to see if Man feels grateful or ungrateful to his Lord.

Allah says:

Say: “It is He Who has created you (and made you grow), and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give. (Quran 67:23)

Trials and Tribulations

Likewise, Allah (Exalted be He) puts Man in clear and evident trials such as diseases, fear, hunger, loss of dear persons or loss of properties throughout lifetime to see if Man remembers his Lord, refuges to Him and seeks relief from Him or he forgets about his Lord depending only on his poor potentials. Allah says:

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return”: They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance. (Quran 2:155-157)

However, if Man passes these tests successfully through patience, gratitude, repentance and submission to His Creator, he, in this case, is successful and deserves guidance as well as the pleasure of his Lord.

On the other hand, if Man shows ingratitude to his Lord, challenge to His Will, and disobedience to His commands; he, in this case, shall be exposed to severer trials and ultimately to his Lord’s anger that may lead to his obliteration.

Man’s Ingratitude

Unfortunately, unlike believers, Man, in general, is often ungrateful to his Lord. Although Allah (Exalted be He) saves him from danger and destruction; he forgets his Lord’s Mercy and bounty, and instead of being thankful to Him, he shows ingratitude and wrongdoing.

That is why, when Man practices misconduct and betrayal like that; unluckily, he tastes its painful consequences during his lifetime before he tastes them in the Hereafter. Allah says:

When We make mankind taste of some mercy after adversity has touched them, behold! they take to plotting against Our Signs! Say: “Swifter to plan is Allah!” Verily, Our messengers record all the plots that you make! (Quran 10:21)

When Man is surrounded with danger, he supplicates the Almighty (Exalted be He) to save him from that danger promising Allah to be grateful and thankful for His Majesty. However, when he is saved and feels safe, he commits wrongdoing and transgresses himself forgetting his Lord’s favor upon him.

Allah says:

He it is Who enables you to traverse through land and sea; so that ye even board ships;- they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they rejoice thereat; then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think they are being overwhelmed: they cry unto Allah, sincerely offering (their) duty unto Him saying, “If thou dost deliver us from this, we shall truly show our gratitude!”

But when he delivers them, behold! they transgress insolently through the earth in defiance of right! O mankind! your insolence is against your own souls,- an enjoyment of the life of the present: in the end, to Us is your return, and We shall show you the truth of all that ye did. (Quran 10:22-23)

Breaking Promises

This is the deluding nature of Man. As soon as he is saved by his Lord; he, being conning, does not keep his promise to his Lord Who saves him from danger and bestows blessings upon him.

On the contrary, he turns into a wrongdoer on the earth forgetting all his undertakings and pleas to Allah (Exalted be He) in time of danger thinking that he is quite safe from risk and he is no more in need to his Lord’s mercy and help.

Has not the ungrateful Man got that his Lord Who saves him from danger is able to place him again into risk where he shall find no protector nor helper to him except his Lord. Has not the obstinate and unwise man realized that Allah is capable in this case to destroy him as a punishment for his ingratitude.

Allah says:

When distress seizes you at sea, those that ye call upon – besides Himself – leave you in the lurch! but when He brings you back safe to land, you turn away (from Him). Most ungrateful is man

Do you then feel secure that He will not cause you to be swallowed up beneath the earth when ye are on land, or that He will not send against you a violent tornado (with showers of stones) so that ye shall find no one to carry out your affairs for you?

Or do you feel secure that He will not send you back a second time to sea and send against you a heavy gale to drown you because of your ingratitude, so that ye find no helper. Therein against Us? (Quran 17:67–69)

Conclusion

Strange is this human being! He does not remember Allah unless he is at a life-threatening situation; yet, he rarely returns to his innate pure nature, and cleans it from impurities and corruption except at time of distress, and as soon as he feels safe he either forgets his supplications and assurances to His Lord or becomes an ungrateful transgressor excluding the believer or the straightforward person whose innate nature is still alive, sound and always washed up with faith.

Nowadays, the whole world with all its various or different categories: the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the easterner and the westerner, the progressive and the backward, they are all exposed to the same threat. That is why so many people all over the world have started to think of the absolute power that controls the whole world. So many apostates and unbelievers have started to look for the truth and they have realized through the evident universal signs and the current epidemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) that there is an absolute power that manages the whole world. They realized that the super human powers stand unable to defend themselves against the Devine will of the Creator of the Universe.

Likewise, most people have realized that whatever Man plots, nothing takes place in this world except in accordance to what Allah the Almighty wills. Accordingly, so many non-Muslims have believed in the Oneness of the Creator who governs the whole world. They have believed in Allah and adopted the religion of Islam that calls for the Oneness of Allah the Almighty the Wise Who has neither a partner nor a son.


About the author:

Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al khalidi is Researcher and translator, E L teacher and lecturer, an old member in the Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

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Who Is the First Anti-Racist in Human History?

By Dr. Craig Considine

This video presents the story of the first anti-racist, from the 7th century, who set in motion universal principles that forever changed the discourse on racial equality.

Transcript

Bilal ibn Rabah was born into slavery, a condition that was compounded after he became one of the first believers to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

Bilal’s father was an Arab slave and his mother was a former princess of modern day Ethiopia, who was also enslaved.

Bilal was ruled by a master, who punished him for his conversion to Islam. He dragged Bilal around Makkah, encouraging people to mock him. He even tried to force him to renounce his faith by placing a large rock on his chest and pinning him on the ground.

But far from renouncing his faith, Bilal showed a defiance and strength in the face of persecution and violence.

Impressed by Bilal’s steadfastness to the Islamic faith, Prophet Muhammad sent one of his closest friends, Abu Bakr, to pay for Bilal’s freedom.

Bilal, the Muezzin of the Prophet Muhammad (God Bless Him and Grant Him Peace)

Once freed, Bilal rose to prominence in the early Muslim community. Prophet Muhammad appointed him to serve the mosque by using his melodious voice to call the believers to prayer.

Bilal was a black man, and, for some, his blackness made him unfit for such an honor.

On one occasion, a companion of the Prophet, a man named Abu Dhar, disparagingly said to Bilal, “You, son of a black woman.”

This drew a swift rebuke from Prophet Muhammad.

“Are you taunting him about his black mother?” asked the Prophet. “There is still some influence of ignorance in you.”

The ignorance the Prophet identified was rooted in the misguided view that a person’s race reflects his or her moral character or social status.

In fact, the Prophet Muhammad’s message of racial equality stood in stark contrast to the prevalent racial animosities of 7th century Arabia.

Scholars refer to the period prior to the advent of Islam as Jahiliyyah, a time of ignorance, which included racism.

The First Declaration of Racial Equality

Arguably, Prophet Muhammad was the first person in human history to declare, in no uncertain terms, that no person is above another by virtue of race or ethnicity.

This declaration is crystallized in one of the Prophet’s notable speeches: His Last Sermon, as it is known, which was delivered on Mount Arafat in 632 A.D.

In that sermon, the Prophet Muhammad unequivocally condemned racism when he said:

“All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab. And a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab. A white person has no superiority over a black person, nor a black person has any superiority over a white person, except by piety and good action.”

Ever since then, Prophet Muhammad’s teachings on racial equality have inspired human beings to strive for racial equality and justice for all.

Malcolm X’s Life-Changing Journey to Mecca

Consider the life of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, more commonly known as Malcolm X, the black, Muslim civil rights leader who battled racism in the 1950s and 1960s.

After performing the Hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage, to the city of Makkah, Malcolm wrote his famous letter from Makkah in which he said:

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue eyed blondes, to black skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.”

He added that he had never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

The Hajj, for Malcolm, represented a shift away from racism and towards racial equality.

Striving Towards Anti-racism

The teachings of Prophet Muhammad encouraged all people to strive towards anti-racism, which is quite different than simply non-racism.

While non-racists do not openly express prejudiced views, they also do not work to dismantle racism in any given society.

The Prophet of Islam actively challenged and dismantled the covert, the overt, and the systematic racism around him. He identified racism as a symptom and identified its root cause as arrogance in the human heart.

As our world becomes more and more diverse and interconnected, it is imperative that we strive to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

I am not a Muslim myself, but I have to say that I am deeply inspired by the anti-racism of Prophet Muhammad, because he showed that a person is distinguished over another not by race, but, rather, by the quality of one’s character and conduct.

I am Craig Considine for the Emir Stein Center.

 


About the author:

Dr. Craig Considine is a scholar, professor, global speaker, and media contributor based at the Department of Sociology at Rice University. He is the author of The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View (Blue Dome Press, 2020), and Islam in America: Exploring the Issues (ABC-CLIO 2019), among others.

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How to Be Patient?

By Editorial Staff

Definition

Sabr (patience) is an Arabic word that means in language to restrain. The month of Ramadan is called the month of al-Sabr because it is self-restraint from food, drink and sexual intercourse.

In the technical usage of the term, it means to restrain oneself from neglecting Allah’s commands, indulging in prohibitions and being impatient in cases of afflictions. These are the three kinds of patience mentioned by most scholars.

The first kind: being patient with Allah’s obedience

“O you who believe! Be patient. And have outlasting patience.”

Some kinds of worship may be hard to perform. This hardship can be physical or spiritual. The physical hardship may take place when a person is weak, tired or ill.

On the other hand, the pillars of Islam may be divided into physical and financial or both of them. The physical pillars include prayer and fasting. Paying zakat (almsgiving) is an example of the financial acts of worship. The Hajj (pilgrimage to Makka) is the third kind which requires physical effort and money. The acts of worship are various to test people whether they will do what they only like and find easy or they will abide by Allah’s commands and do them all.

You may find it easy for some people to perform as many prayers as they can; however, it is very hard for them to give even a small sum of money to charity. On the contrary, there are others who can pay zakat and give to charity easily but it hard for them to perform prayer or fasting. To pass the test, one needs to be patient enough to be able to obey Allah’s commands without any differentiation between them. The hardship one may find needs patience and endurance. Allah says,

“O you who believe! Be patient. And have outlasting patience. And be ever at the ready. And be ever God-fearing, so that you may be successful.” (Quran 3:200)

The second kind: Patience with avoiding the prohibited matters

In this kind of patience, one must restrain oneself from committing acts of disobedience. Indeed, the self and the Satan often bids to evil such as telling lies, committing adultery and fornication, drinking alcohol, stealing, etc. Everyone needs to restrain and prevent oneself from committing such sins and crimes. Exercising self-restraint may constitute a hardship for the person who finds it easy to perform such sins or crimes. In case the person does not think of the sin or it does not even come to his or her mind, this person will not be called patient. However, if one finds it hard to do so, then he or she needs to be patient.

The third kind: Patience on the occasions of trials and afflictions

Indeed, man is always tested so long as he or she is alive. Allah says,

“The One who created death and life to test you, (and to reveal) which of you is best in deeds. For He (alone) is the Overpowering (One), the All-Forgiving” (Quran 67:2)

Allah tries His servants with calamites to test their patience and tries them with benefits to test their thankfulness. Allah says,

“For We (but) test you (in life) with evil and good as a trial. And it is to Us you shall all be returned (for recompense).” (Quran 21:35)

One may be ill, lose his or her money or something bad may happen to his or her family, etc. In all these cases and others one should endure them patiently. Moreover, the Muslim must withhold him or herself from impatience, his or her tongue from complaint and his or her limbs from broil. Allah says,

“And, most surely, We shall test (all of) you (believers) with something of fear and (with) hunger and (with) loss of wealth and life and crops. So give glad tidings (of everlasting delight in Paradise) to those who are (enduringly) patient” (Quran 2:155)

People’s reactions to trials and tribulations may be one of the following:

1. Showing discontent

Some people may be discontent in the heart, namely, they may be angry or displeased with Allah. Such people feel as if Allah did injustice to them. Secondly, others may express discontent with their tongue. For instance, they may say unsuitable words, use swear words, utter cries of woe and doom, etc. Thirdly, there are others who may show discontent with limbs, namely, to slap one’s cheeks or to tear one’s clothes, break cups, throw things away, etc.

In fact, all these acts that denote discontent are forbidden.

Narrated `Abdullah: the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us.” (Al-Bukhari)

Indeed, this person who shows discontent cannot change what has already happened. There is no use of being angry. On the contrary, behaving this way deprives such person from the rewards he or she will get in case of being content and patient.

2. Being patient

Everyone hates calamities and afflictions and like that they do not befall or hurt people. Although it is allowed to hate calamities, it is prohibited to show discontent. One’s heart must not harbor any bad feelings towards Allah. In addition, Muslims must not say or do anything that displeases Allah. they must remember that they are in a test and have to be patient and content with Allah to pass the test. Moreover, the Muslim should remember that he or she will be rewarded for whatever afflictions that befall him or her. Allah says,

“For, indeed, those who are patient shall be rendered their reward in full, without measure.” (Quran 39:10)

Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him”. (Muslim)

3. Being content

When the Muslim harbors good thoughts concerning Allah, he or she knows very well that everything that happens to him or her is good. Whenever an affliction befalls him or her, he or she should know well enough that he or she will be rewarded or many of his or her sins will be forgiven according to the hadith mentioned above. This is what may help the Muslim feel content and pleased with Allah whenever an affliction befalls him or her.

4. Being thankful

This is the most excellent kind. Here, the Muslim thanks and praises Allah for the rewards given by Allah is far greater than the pain caused by such calamities.

 

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Migrating without Moving: Performing Hijrah in Your Daily Life

By Brian Wright

As a Muslim at any stage in your spiritual development, you will almost certainly come across the most-cited hadith ever:

Indeed actions are [judged] by their intentions, and to every person [the reward for] which he intends.

Narrated through what Hadith scholars refer to as the “Golden Chain,” the hadith of intentions is one of the most authentic hadiths around.

What many of us miss, however, is the not-so-often-cited second half:

Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and His messenger. And who ever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Mini-hijrahs are removing yourself from negative and detrimental non-Muslim influences and surrounding yourself with true submission (Islam) in as many aspects of life as possible.

Migration here is the translation of the Arabic term “hijrah,” often referred to the events when the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) left Makkah to establish the first Muslim community in Yathrib, renamed Madinah or the “City of the Prophet.”

Some movements have taken this meaning to heart, suggesting that Muslims must physically leave non-Muslim majority societies and move to majority-Muslim countries.

However, most scholars believe that leaving your society is not a requirement as long as you are not in physical danger and are able to comfortably practice your faith.

But the meaning of hijrah goes much deeper than this; and there are several things that you can do that will both improve your faith and make you a better Muslim. These are what I like to call the “mini-hijrahs:” removing yourself from negative and detrimental non-Muslim influences and surrounding yourself with true submission (Islam) in as many aspects of life as possible.

Hijrah of the Eyes

The first and most obvious of these is to work towards the perfection of that which you see around you. In typical discussions, this means diverting your gaze from things that are forbidden. Not staring at the opposite sex, changing the channel when inappropriate content comes on the television, and avoiding reading material that drives you away from your faith are all parts of this.

There are also positive changes that you can make. Clean up your home, neighborhood, mosque, and work-space. Remember that hadith: “Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim)

It doesn’t just mean having wudu’ but can also be achieved by not littering, cleaning up trash in your neighborhood, or having an organized home and office space.

Another positive hijrah for the eyes is to remember to take time to step away from your daily grind. Take your family to the park or re-connect with nature. Plant a garden, paint, and surround yourself with the beauty of God’s creation.

Hijrah of the Ears

We often pass-off the terrible things we hear every day. Swearing, explicit music, and just overall annoying sounds are things we have become accustomed to.

What we don’t realize, however, is that no matter how much we try, these sounds shape our mood. Do what you can to be aware of these negative sounds and try to avoid them as much as possible.

Take a step back from that friend who swears too much or talks about coworkers behind their backs. Turn down the music at work and avoid areas of town that are known for heavy street noise.

Surround yourself with positive sounds. Listening to the Quran and religious lessons throughout the day are a good start but be careful as even these typically beautiful and beneficial sounds can turn negative.

Anyone who has suffered through a crushingly-loud Quranic recitation or call to prayer can relate, and even the best of us can be turned away from God’s words when they are delivered through a nasty sound system or a lesson given by someone not properly trained.

Combine this hijrah with connecting to nature and listen to the birds or the calming sounds of the ocean. Sometimes, however, the most positive sounds you can hear are nothing, isolating yourself from the sensory overload of our daily lives to reflect in silence.

Hijrah of the Tongue

We’ve all let our tongues get away from us. Gossiping about a co-worker, spreading rumors about extended family members, or even just speaking your feelings when you should have kept your mouth shut. These are problems of the tongue and, as Muslims, we have a responsibility and duty to watch what we say to others as it affects both our well-being and that of others. Remember the Prophet’s words here:

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Think before you say something the next time you feel you just have to say something and hold in those feelings to speak out no matter how honest it really is. This doesn’t mean that you should lie, but silence is often better than brutal honesty.

These days, the hijrah of the tongue could be extended to that of our fingers as well, as negative social media posts are just as dangerous as strong words.

On the other side of the equation, utilize the positive meaning of the Hadith and speak “good” to others. A good word can really go a long way and positive statements, even those that are sometimes hard to make, can change lives.

Hijrah of the Mind

By combining these “mini-hijrahs,” you will find that it is not just your eyes, ears, and tongue that benefit, but also your mind and heart. Your mind is at the core of all these systems, and training it to be in better submission to its Lord is the first and most important step to being a better Muslim.

Likewise, by being a better member of your community, you can fulfill the deeper meaning of the hijrah as explained by the Prophet Muhammad without taking one step outside your home.


About the author:

Brian Wright is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. His dissertation is on the development of Islamic criminal law in Egypt, India, and Ottoman Turkey during the 19th century. He has studied fiqh with a number of traditional scholars in Egypt and India.

source: aboutislam.net

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Examples of Righteousness

 Aisha Stacey

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) who said: the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

Whoever relieves the grief of a believer in this world, God will relieve his grief in the Hereafter.  Whoever relieves the difficulties of a person in debt in this world, God will relieve his difficulties in this world and the Hereafter.  Whoever conceals the faults of a believer, God will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter.  God will aid His servant so long as the servant aids his fellow believers.  Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, God will make the path to Paradise easy for him.  When people gather together, in one of the houses of God, to recite the Book of God and study it, tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and God mentions them to those who are in His presence.  Whoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage. (Muslim)

This is a hadith from among a collection of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, compiled by Imam An-Nawawi.  It is a very famous and well-studied collection of forty-two hadiths known as An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith.  Its value lies in the fact that the hadiths in this collection cover fundamental aspects of the religion of Islam.  Hadith number thirty-six is often referred to as the hadith of righteousness.

However, while it does list comprehensively a number of qualities one would expect to find in a righteous person, it also deals with virtues, rulings, principles, and manners.  There are several lessons embedded in this hadith, and each sentence adds an in-depth feature to one very basic principle; that believers are like family to one another.  There are certain obligations that believers have towards each other and this hadith, in a different version, states it very succinctly as, ‘Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, God is fulfilling his needs.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

1. Relieving the grief of a believer

‘Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, God is fulfilling his needs.’

This is a lesson in how to attain the help of God by helping one of His servants. Sometimes when a person feels as if he is swamped with difficulty, God, in answer to his supplication, will send help from an unexpected source. Often this source is in the form of another Muslim. The word grief in this hadith refers to a great difficulty or a hardship. If a believer relieves the grief of another believer, God recognizes that act and will reward the person in the Hereafter by relieving the grief, fear, and distress that he or she feels on the Day of Judgment.

2. Alleviating the difficulties of those in debt

Being indebted to somebody is a terrible feeling. That debt is usually of a financial nature and Prophet Muhammad explains to us that alleviating the debt of somebody, who is having difficulties meeting the terms of his debt is an act that is loved by God, so much so that He says He will alleviate that person’s difficulties in this world and in the Hereafter. Helping those in debt can be achieved in several ways, including giving extra time or canceling the debt completely.

3. Concealing the faults of a believer

The general rule that scholars derive from this section of the hadith is that believers should not reveal the faults of their fellow believers. Nowadays we often see or hear some people taking other’s faults as a type of amusement. They mock and ridicule, revealing perceived minor transgressions that may or may not be true. As Muslims, we should be concerned about our own faults not the faults of others and constantly try to improve ourselves. The one who conceals faults rather than reveals them will have his or her own faults concealed by God in this world and in the Hereafter.

4. God will come to the aid of the one who aids his fellow believer

Coming to the aid of fellow believers is something that Muslims should take very seriously.  Prophet Muhammad reminded us many times that we should love for our brother or sister what we would love for ourselves.(Al-Bukhari)

If we truly cared about each other, there would be very few needy people in Muslim communities.

5. Seeking knowledge

Seeking beneficial knowledge is a very rewarding act.  God might make the path to Paradise easy for those seeking knowledge in several ways.  They might be guided to Paradise through knowledge, or God might make it easy for a person to benefit what they learn, thus they will walk a path to Paradise, or make crossing the bridge above the Hellfire easy and thus enter Paradise.[1]  There are many people who seek knowledge but find no blessings in the knowledge they gain.  Therefore the believer should seek knowledge with good and sincere intentions.

6. The virtue of gathering in the mosque

This lesson informs us about a very rewardable and preferred act; gathering in the mosques to recite, listen and study the Quran or to attend lectures and classes. This can result in very specific rewards.  They are imbued with tranquility, resulting in relief from the stress and strife that plague modern-day societies, the mercy of God descends as the angels surround them, and God mentions them to whoever is in His presence. 

7. Lineage is of no benefit to the one who lags behind in his good deeds

Behaving well and doing good deeds and actions is the key to rewards leading to Paradise.  If the believer is lacking in this area, his lineage, meaning his family name, tribe or ancestry will not be of any benefit regardless of their wealth or status.

This hadith a very comprehensive and contains at least seven important lessons.  It outlines the morals and manners that should be embedded in the behavior of every believer.  It outlines some of the obligations we have towards each other and emphasizes that Islam expects us to treat one another as if we were close family members.  Whatever we can do to alleviate the difficulties of another person we should do, with the pure intention to please God.


[1] There is a bridge that will be established over Hell extending to Paradise that everyone has to cross. Some will not make it and fall into the Hellfire whilst others will successfully cross it.

Source: islamreligion.com

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Domestic Violence – A Friday Speech

In this month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I think it will be a good idea if we listen to this beneficial speech.

In his Friday Speech, Shaykh Waleed Basyouni talks about domestic violence. He starts with a hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) says as part of this hadith: “So, fear Allah when you deal with women“. (This sentence of the hadith is related by Muslim)

In a another hadith, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Darimi)

Then, he continues to talk about how Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) dealt with his wives.

Here is the full sermon

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How Did a Muslim Woman Defend Jewish Children from Antisemitic Abuse?

A man has been arrested after antisemitic abuse was directed towards a Jewish family on the London Underground.

The suspect, whose name and age has not been released by police, was held in Birmingham on Saturday night on suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence and he remains in custody.

His arrest came after a man was filmed reading anti-Jewish Bible passages to two young boys in skullcaps while they were travelling with their family on the Northern Line.

Wearing a cap and hoody, the man is seen in the video threatening a man off-camera after he tries to intervene before a woman in a hijab – Asma Shuweikh – confronts him.

The mother-of-two, from London, told the PA news agency she “wouldn’t hesitate to do it again

“I would have loved more people to come up and say something, because if everyone did, I do not think it would have escalated in the way that it did,” she said.

She said when she saw what was happening she knew she “had to confront him”.

“Being a mother-of-two, I know what it’s like to be in that situation and I would want someone to help if I was in that situation,” she said.

She said the couple was travelling with three children, and she wanted to deflect the man’s attention away from them.

She said: “He was quite aggressive and was getting in my face.”

Fellow commuter Chris Atkins took the video after catching the Tube heading south on the Charing Cross branch of the line at midday on Friday.

“The Muslim woman didn’t take any shit from him and really, really took him to task, very firmly and persistently,” Mr Atkins said.

“In this day and age we are told how intolerant everyone is and all religions hate each other and there you had a Muslim woman sticking up for some Jewish children.”

Twitter users hailed Shuweikh a “hero”.

Reported by the Press Association, Shuweikh said she got off the Underground after two stops and did not realise the video was going viral until a friend texted her to say she had seen her on Twitter.

She created a Twitter account so she could see the reaction.

She said:

“It was so heartwarming to see the responses and see what people were saying. I can’t take all the credit because a lot of other people were involved.

I would not hesitate to do it again.”


Press Association/ Independent

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A Woman of Perfection

By Maria Zain

Women and the Society

A woman in today’s society is not free from scrutiny about how she meant to dress, behave, or appear in public. The public eye falls on every woman who strolls within its purview and its perception is often one that is rigid and judgmental. Physical beauty essentially becomes the talk of the season, every season, as the definition of physical beauty changes like the clouds.

One season, beautiful women are those who are skinny with a certain haircut – maybe one that is straight – so the trend follows: women of all ages begin to “diet” into the prescribed form of beauty and cough up their savings for rebonding hair treatments.The next season’s color of beauty is sandy dust and pointed shoes to elongate the legs. The trend then forces women to adhere to the “norm” by scouring beauty stores for sandy dust hair dye and shoe stores for pointy shoes.

Islam prescribes hijab for Muslim women to protect themselves from this shallow definition of perfection.

Islam and Material Perfection

Physical beauty is a never-ending debate. Face lifts, new diets, clothes, and more clothes and cosmetics represent lucrative industries where the perception of beauty changes and alters and is ultimately forced upon women who fall prey to this form of material perfection. Islam has other ideas, though. It prescribes hijab for Muslim women to protect themselves from this shallow definition of perfection. With the use of this Muslim dress code, women are no longer required to follow trends of the season.

Women are allowed in their homes and to their spouses to make their eyes look bigger, put on make-up and they are even “allowed” to be a little overweight. Physical beauty in Islam is guarded through the sanctity of marriage where spouses are described as being “garments” for each other.

The perfect woman is therefore defined differently in Islam. Though a woman may still be physically attractive to her husband, her public image is a different one, where her inner beauty plays a far more prominent role in her appearance and behavior.

The Women of Perfection

The four perfect women recognized by Islam are well known by Muslims. They are: the Virgin Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus, Asya, the wife of Pharaoh, Lady Khadijah, the Prophet’s first wife, and Lady Fatimah, the youngest daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Fatimah the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, in particular, was a young girl during the time Islam was introduced. So from her youth – as a daughter, later a wife and a mother – the perfection of a Muslim as defined by Islam surfaces through Lady Fatimah.

Lady Fatimah is described to be one of the great women in Islam. She played an important role in her father’s mission, thus is recognized as the perfect role model for women. The below verse describes the sanctity of the Prophet’s household, including Lady Fatima.

[And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.] (Al-Azhab 33:33)

In many reports, she was barely five when Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation at Mount Hira’. As a child, she had witnessed gross calamities inflicted upon her parents and even at times she fell victim to the taunts of the Quraish. Unlike some children today who have to deal with playground bullying or peer pressure, Lady Fatima endured physical, mental and spiritual pain as she watched her father being humiliated by the pagan Arabs as they labeled him as being “mentally insane.”

One story even relays a scene at the Kabah where one of the Prophet’s opponents discarded rubbish on Prophet Muhammad’s head while he was prostrating to God. With a teary eye and a wrenched heart, the young Fatimah cleaned her father as he pacified his favorite daughter by telling her that he could endure personal insults, as long as they were not directed towards Islam. Maybe it was through Lady Fatimah’s endurance throughout her childhood that Prophet Muhammad held her in high regard throughout his lifetime.

A Loving Daughter, Loyal Wife, and Doting Mother

When she was older, and even married, she would nurse her father through to recovery when he was injured during war. It was reported that on occasions where food was scarce, he would visit his daughter first to ensure that she had enough sustenance, before tending to his own needs. Similarly, Lady Fatimah would visit her father if he were in need, without regretting any sacrifices she would make for him.

Also, when Lady Fatima entered a room that was occupied by Prophet Muhammad, he would immediately rise to greet her, kiss her forehead, and offer her his vacated seat. She would return the gesture when their roles were reversed. Her marriage to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, was a happy one. The wedding is often described as one of the most lavish weddings in Madinah. It was sponsored by her father, as Ali was a poor man.

In fact, Lady Fatimah was the only one of Prophet Muhammad’s daughters who did not marry a rich merchant. Prophet Muhammad encouraged the union, knowing very well that Ali was a pious Muslim and one that would look after his youngest daughter until death parted them. Lady Fatimah braced married life bravely and worked to help her husband to provide for their family. Besides the grueling conditions that she worked in, she was also a mother to two baby boys the older is named Hassan and the younger is Hussein.

She was a loving daughter, loyal wife, and doting mother. She persisted through the hardship that burdened her throughout her life, without even a whimper. How many women today are able to do that without being swayed by the latest fashion statements?

Raising Fatimahs

Contemporary culture often talks about the physical appearance of a woman, one that has to be inherently attractive. But Muslims, and Muslim women in particular, learn that inner beauty outweighs beauty on the outside. This has been portrayed by pious Muslim women who observe the Muslim dress code and adhere to good Muslim behavior.

They are those who provide for the needy, relieve the burdens of their husbands, raise their children as believers, love their parents, and strive for personal improvement, whether it is through their careers, interests, or hobbies. Every act of a good Muslim is done for the sake of Allah.

Are Muslim daughters today growing up to be remotely close in demonstrating Lady Fatimah’s demeanor and faith? Fatimah was exposed to violence and oppression at a young age and she blossomed into becoming one of the most pious Muslims in the history of Islam, and is recognized by Allah as one of the perfect Muslim women.

It does not mean that young Muslim daughters today have to be exposed to violence and oppression the way Prophet Muhammad and his family had been to flourish into becoming believing women.

But the overwhelming levels of materialism that is inherent in today’s culture, especially the shallow definition of perfection, dampens hopes that young Muslim women today will prescribe to Lady Fatimah’s formula in striving for perfection.

Perfection that Lasts

There is only one Fatimah, the one and only Lady Fatimah. To Fatimah the Prophet Muhammad said: “Thou art the highest of the women of the people of Paradise, excepting only the Virgin Mary, daughter of Imran,” (Lings, 1983).

It is difficult for women not to be swayed by the idea of contemporary perfection. The media bullies women into thinking that without a certain asset, accessory, or cosmetic case, they will fade into becoming bland individuals for being less attractive and less perfect. Imagine striving for perfection amidst fashion faux-pas and the latest cosmetic discoveries.

Now imagine striving to socialize with Lady Fatimah in Paradise. Imagine mingling with her amongst other believers who withdrew from the pressures of contemporary perfection. The reminder of Lady Fatimah as a perfect Muslim woman is one to lean on, whether a Muslim woman is a daughter, wife or mother. Regardless of personal interests, hobbies, networks, social circles, or career prospects, a woman’s duty – like that of a Muslim man’s – is towards Allah and his covenants.

The shallow world of materialism has no place in the hearts of believing Muslim women.


Source: muslimsincalgary.ca with some modifications

About the author:

Originally from Malaysia, Maria Zain was a freelance writer based in Nottingham, United Kindgom. Maria was also a certified Childbirth Educator (AMANI Birth Institute), and a home-educating Muslim mother of six. She passed away on 28 December 2014. May Allah have mercy on her!

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The Love of Dunya, Earthly Life: A Disease and the Cure for It

By Editorial Staff

One of the most important reasons why Allah created man is to worship Him alone. Thus, the life of this world is a test. A lot of people are heedless of this reality. They cling to the enjoyment of this life and forget about the Hereafter.

Because of heedlessness, people think that they will never die although death is certain. This, in turn, leads to not preparing for the Hereafter.

Allah describes the life of this world as nothing but the mere enjoyment of a delusion. So, how and why do so many people prefer the temporary life of this world to the eternal life of the Hereafter?

In the following video, Yasmin Mogahed explains a part of the aya 20, chapter 57, Al-Hadid. Allah says,

(Transliteration)

iʿ’lamū annamā l-ḥayatu l-dun’yā laʿibun wa lahwun wa zīnatun wa tafākhurun baynakum wa takāthurun fī l-amwāli wa l-awlādi kamathali ghaythin aʿjaba l-kufāra nabātuhu thumma yahīju fatarāhu muṣ’farran thumma yakūnu ḥuṭāman wa fī l-ākhirati ʿadhābun shadīdun wa maghfiratun mina l-lahi wa riḍ’wānun wamā l-ḥayatu l-dun’yā illā matāʿu l-ghurūr.

Know that the life of this world is but play and amusement, and (sheer) adornment, and a cause for boasting among yourselves, and (an arena of) vying in wealth and (in) children. Its parable is (that of) a (nourishing) rainfall, the herbage from which pleases the tillers of soil. But then it dries up, so that you see it turning yellow. Then it becomes crumbling stubble. (Even) so shall there be in the Hereafter severe torment, as well as the forgiveness of God and (His good) pleasure. For the life of this world is nothing but the (mere) enjoyment of a delusion. (Quran 57:20)

 

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