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Mosques in Islam: Purpose and Role

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

As the primary religious institution, the masjid has the greatest role in community building, and its success in performing this role is essential for the wellbeing of the community, particularly where Muslims live as minorities.

Sadly, the role of the masjid in many Muslim communities around the globe has recently been reduced to being a physical place where prayers are offered. It is time to reverse that trend and revive the role of this institution to what it was in the early history of Islam. Such a revival cannot be fully realized without first developing a clear understanding from the revelation, the Qur’an and Sunnah, about the importance, virtue, and role of the masjid in Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best patches (of earth) are the masajid (mosques) and the worst are the markets.” (Ibn Hibban)

Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said:

And (mention) when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ishmael. (Al-Baqarah 2:127)

And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said:

And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, (saying), “Purify My House”… (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

Furthermore, Allah made the reward of building the masajid most abundant. Regarding this, the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Ibn Majah)

Refuge for Hearts

Allah made the masajid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet said:

“There are seven (types of people) whom Allah will protect with His Shade, on the Day (of Resurrection) when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”

It should suffice the caretakers of the masajid that Allah praised them with this description,

The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the (rightly) guided. (At-Tawbah 9:18)

It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its center.

The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salah (prayer), which is sujud (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salah is the best of our actions, as the Prophet told us in the hadith of Thawban.

Beyond Prayer

However, the role of the masjid is not limited to the performance of salah. The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah, and not only their bodies. They are places of tarbiyah (refinement) of the Muslim character.

To the Prophet  and his Companions, the masjid was not only a place where they prayed, but it was also a place where they learned, recited the Qur’an, made dhikr (remembrance) and du`aa’ (supplication), met with each other, socialized, received the delegations, prepared the expeditions and raised funds for various good causes.

In fact, it was sometimes even a place for tending to the sick, and a shelter for the homeless. In the physical world, it was at the center of their lives. At the same time, it was the cradle of their learning and spiritual growth.

Whatever can be said about the importance of the masjid for Muslim communities throughout the world it is even more magnified when we talk about the Muslim minorities, to whom the masjid is truly the ark of Noah. In America, for example, Muslims are a small minority scattered throughout a large continent. For some of them, weeks or months may pass by without getting a chance to see another Muslim except in the masjid.

The masjid, therefore, constitutes the link between them and their deen (religion). In it, they develop that emotional bond with their community, which is vital to the wellbeing of their allegiance to the Ummah and faith in Allah. Many youth may find in the masjid the role models they lack at home.

In addition to this, for Muslims to see a masjid– especially the youth who did not grow up in Muslim countries– is vital because it’s the most evident symbol of Islam in their tangible world.

What Else?

The pressing question now is how to revive the role of the masjid in our times, particularly where Muslims live as minorities? Here are some of the things we need to do as a community.

We need to educate ourselves regarding what may be done at the masjid…

To begin with, one must emphasize that the primary actions in the masjid are salah (prayers), dhikr (mention of Allah), du`aa’ (supplication), tilawah (recitation), and education.

In light of that, priority must be given to the main jama`ah (congregants) of the masjid and activities led by the designated imam. Those who do anything else, or do something other than what the main jama`ah does, should not cause disruption. Abu Sa`eed narrated that the Prophet was in i`tikaf and heard them raising their voices with recitation, so he said:

“Each one of you is in munajah (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salah).” (Abu Dawud)

If it is prohibited for someone who is praying or reciting the Qur’an to bother the other worshipers, then it is more prohibited for someone doing something inferior to that to bother them.

Having said that, there is still room for much to be done at the masjid, and while many actions are prohibited in it, such as conducting business, advertising, announcing lost items, many other practices are thought to be prohibited when they are not.

Some of us Muslims have this mental image of the masjid as a sterile, extremely quiet place where people pray together and disperse thereafter. This causes some to enforce many restrictions in the masjid that would eventually make it an unwelcoming place for children and families, and even to adult men. However, a tour through the masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his time may help us rid ourselves of this false conviction.

To be continued…

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Source: muslimmatters.org

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Why Do Muslim Women Cover Their Heads?

By Saulat Pervez

Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. b, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worship God. But why actually do Muslim women cover their heads?

cover

More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech.

This brochure explores the different dimensions hijab brings to the lives of women and the responsibility men and women share in upholding modesty in society. Along the way, it debunks common stereotypes and celebrates the voices of women who practice hijab with pride!

One of the questions often asked by people is, “Why do Muslim women cover their heads?” The answer lies in understanding the essence of one’s existence as explained in Islam.

Act of Worship

Muslims believe that their true purpose in life is to worship God according to His instructions, as revealed in the Qur’an and through the teachings of Muhammad(peace be upon him), the final prophet of Islam.

Worship in Islam is a holistic concept which encourages God-consciousness in every facet of daily life, from charity and neighborliness to prayer and honest dealings in business. Modest clothing is an integral aspect of worship in Islam as well.

In the Qur’an, God says,

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms… (An-Nur 24:31)

When God revealed this verse, the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad promptly adopted these guidelines. In a similar spirit of obedience, Muslim women have maintained modest covering (hijab) ever since.

Hence, the primary motivation for covering/wearing the hijab is to obey God.

A Personal Journey

Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. Many people mistakenly believe that women are forced to cover their heads/wear the hijab. This concept is not based on Islamic teachings as God says in the Qur’an, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Likewise, Prophet Muhammad never forced religion upon anyone. If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle and might be due to cultural or social pressure. According to Islam, a woman willfully chooses to commit to this act of worship.

Days of contemplation, an inevitable fear of consequences as well as reactions and, ultimately, plenty of courage weigh heavily in making the leap.

Katherine Bullock, a Canadian convert to Islam, stated, “For me, the lead up to the decision to wear hijab was more difficult than actually wearing it. I found that, praise be to God, although I did receive negative comments from people, I appreciated the feeling of modesty that wearing the hijab gave me.”

Further, many people make the error of thinking that the hijab is a definitive statement of a woman’s religiosity, as if it is a clear indicator of her spiritual commitment. While veiling is a reflection of one’s beliefs, the hijab simultaneously becomes a tangible reminder to the woman herself: to embody the modesty and dignity it represents and to carry one’s self in a way that pleases God. In that sense, the hijab symbolizes a journey of devotion rather than the end-result of piety.

“After I started wearing hijab,” continued Bullock, “I noticed that people would often behave more cautiously with me, like apologizing if they swore. I appreciated that. I feel that wearing hijab has given me an insight into a decent and upright lifestyle.”

Saba Baig, an American woman converted to Islam, stated, “Before I started wearing hijab my self-perception was rooted in other people’s perceptions of me. I dressed to elicit compliments, keep up with the latest trend, wearing the most desired brand name – which had very little to do with me, and more importantly, what God thought of me.

Before hijab I was in bondage to the surrounding society. After hijab, I became attached to God. With that connection to God came an enormous amount of freedom. Confidence and self-respect were just some of the benefits.”

Ambassadors of Faith

Generalizations and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are rampant in today’s society and, by extension, in the minds of many people whose worldview is shaped by the media. Muslim women in hijab are frequently stigmatized; they are regarded on the one hand as oppressed and, on the other, as religious fanatics. Due to such misconceptions, unfortunately, the larger society fails to acknowledge and appreciate Muslim women’s courage in standing up to societal norms in their determination to preserve their modesty.

Hijab clearly identifies women as followers of Islam, which can have its disadvantages in a land where misinformation about the faith and its adherents abounds. For instance, some Muslim women are discriminated against in the workplace while others are emotionally abused through insensitive remarks. Yet, drawing on inner strength and resolve, Muslim women take these incidents in stride. Their love for God and commitment to modesty empower them in the face of challenges.

Indeed, Muslim women identify themselves with Mary who is commemorated for her piety and modesty. Aminah Assilmi, who converted to Islam in 1977, was once asked about going out in public without her hijab and she responded, “I cannot help but wonder if they would have ordered Mary, the mother of Jesus, to uncover her hair.”

“By focusing on what God wants from me, and thinks of me, I am no longer a prisoner of other people’s desires,” declared Baig. “Knowing that I am doing what God, my Creator, has ordained for me gives me a contentment and happiness like no other.”

Despite all the odds, Muslim women in hijab have managed to carve a niche for themselves while upholding their Islamic identities. They actively participate in their surroundings, be it as homemakers or professionals, on the sports field or in the artistic arena, in public service or in charitable activities. Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith.

Cover…Mutual Modesty

More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech. The inner humility as exhibited through etiquettes and morals completes the significance of the physical veil. However, contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not limited to women alone.

God also commands men to maintain their modesty in the Qur’an:

Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. (An-Nur 24:30)

In Islam, the responsibility falls on each gender to protect their own modesty and to control their own desires. Whether a woman dresses modestly or not, it is the obligation of each man to guard his own chastity.

While many people may think that hijab is worn primarily to restrain men’s illicit desires, this is another misconception. Indeed, it is not women’s duty to regulate the behavior of men. Men are accountable for their own conduct; they are equally required to be modest and to handle themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.

In reality, Muslim women cover/wear the hijab to seek the pleasure of God and to uphold Islam’s code of modesty. The majority of women who cover consider it a constant reminder that they do not adorn their bodies for men:

“Hijab forces someone to look past the external and focus on the internal. How many women do we know that feel they have to sexualize themselves to gain attention; why don’t we see as many men wearing short bottoms and tighter tops? Because we have always given men a pass on their looks, demanding from them success and intellect instead,” reflected Baig.

“Women however, are valued for their looks, their beauty. We have entire industries built upon making a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough, or thin enough,” she added. “Hijab, on the other hand, takes one beyond the superficial. It elevates her in society by desexualizing her, and individuating her instead.”

Islam is a religion of moderation and balance; it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and dignity.

Rather, Islam asks men and women to strive mutually to create a healthy social environment of practical values and morality. In short, the concept of modesty in Islam is holistic, and applies to both men and women. The ultimate goal is to please God and to maintain a wholesome and stable society:

…In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal in front of God. At the same time, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.

Hence, God’s rules apply to both genders, but in diverse ways. For example, men are also required to cover parts of their body out of modesty, but not in the same way as women. Similarly, men are prohibited from wearing silk clothing and gold ornaments whereas women have no such restrictions. Therefore, God has ordained different commands for men and women while encouraging both to be modest.

As more and more Muslim women embrace hijab, they renew their commitment to God through their appearance as they continue their lifelong spiritual journey. Unfortunately, such women often seem mysterious to those not acquainted with the religious significance of hijab.

Understanding the beliefs and lifestyle choices of Muslims, and the emphasis Islam places on modesty, eliminates the stereotypes associated with hijab. People of many different faiths and beliefs make up this patchwork world of ours. Muslims are an integral part of this diversity. It’s time we overcome our fears and bridge our distances. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and chat with them – and decide for yourself!

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Source: whyislam.org

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What Are the First Steps a New Muslim Should Take?

What Are the First Steps a New Muslim Should Take?

Embracing Islam and coming back to the true religion of Allah (Exalted be He) is truly a blessing. Becoming a Muslim is not just an ideological change but a lifetime change. One who accepts Islam is said to have all their past sins erased.

What should a new Muslim’s first steps be right after accepting Islam? How should he deal with their new life as Muslim?

Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, History Specialist, answers in the video below…



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Source: Faith IQ

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The Social System in Islam: Foundations and Practices

By Abul A`La Mawdudi

The foundations of the social system of Islam rest on the belief that all human beings are equal and constitute one single fraternity.

The Social System in Islam

In Islam, if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Equality of Mankind

God created a human couple to herald the beginning of the life of mankind on earth, and everybody living in the world today originates from this couple. The progeny of this couple were initially a single group with one religion and the same language.

But as their numbers gradually increased, they spread all over the earth and, as a natural result of their diversification and growth, were divided into various tribes and nationalities. They came to speak different languages; their modes of dress varied; and their ways of living also differed widely. Climates and environments affected their color and physical features.

All these differences exist in the world of reality and Islam does not seek to ignore them. But it disapproves of the prejudices which have arisen among mankind because of these differences in race, color, language and nationality.

Islam makes clear to all men that they have come from the same parents and are therefore brothers and equal as human beings.

Islam says that if there is any real difference between man and man it cannot be one of race, color, country or language, but of ideas, beliefs and principles.

Two children of the same mother, though they may be equal from the point of view of a common ancestry, will have to go their different ways in life if their beliefs and moral conduct differ.

On the contrary, two people, one in the East and the other in the West, even though geographically and outwardly separated by vast distances, will tread the same path in life if they share the same code of moral behaviour.

On the basis of this fundamental tenet, Islam seeks to build a principled and ideological society very different from the racial, nationalistic and parochial societies existing in the world today.

The basis of co-operative effort among men in such a society is not the place of one’s birth but a creed and a moral principle. Anyone, if he believes in God as his Master and Lord and accepts the guidance of the Prophets as the law of his life, can join this community, whether he is a resident of America or Africa, whether he belongs to the Semitic race or the Aryan, whether he is black or fair-skinned, whether he speaks a European language or Arabic.

All those who join this community will have the same rights and social status. They will not be subjects to any racial, national or class distinctions. No one will be regarded as high or low. There will be no untouchability. There will be no special restrictions upon them in making marriages, eating and drinking and social contacts. No one will be looked down upon because of his birth of work. No one will claim any distinctive rights by virtue of his caste, community or ancestry.

Islamic Criterion

Man’s merit will not depend on his family connections or riches, but only on whether he is better than others in moral conduct or excels others in piety and righteousness.

Such social order, transcending as it does geographical boundaries and the barriers of race, color and language, is appropriate for all parts of the world; on its foundations can be raised the universal brotherhood of man.

In societies based on race or nationality only those people can join who belong to a particular race or nation, but in Islam anyone who accepts its creed and moral standards can become a member, possessing equal rights with everyone else.

Those who do not accept this creed, while obviously not being received into the community, are treated with tolerance and humanity and guaranteed all the basic human rights.

It is clear that if two children of the same mother differ in their ideas, their ways of life will be different; but this does not mean that they cease to be brothers.

In the same way, if two nations or two groups of people living in the same country differ in their fundamental beliefs, principles and ideology, their societies will also certainly differ; yet they will continue to share the common ties of humanity.

Hence, the Islamic society offers to non-Muslim societies and group the maximum social and cultural rights that can possibly be accorded.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “The Islamic Way of Life”.

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The Qur’an and Social Stability

The Qur'an and Social Stability

First of all, the Qur’an gives us the main objective of our existence.

 

When we talk about understanding the Qur’an, we talk about the Angels asking Allah in Surat Al-Baqarah: “Will You place upon it (the world) one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood… ?” (Al-Baqarah 2:30)

This is one of the jobs of the Qur’an: to make society civil. The opposite of spilling blood and oppression and sin is to live a civil life. So, one of the objectives of the Qur’an is a social-political reality of stability in society.

That’s why many of the great scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyah, Imam Ash-Shatibi, Sheikh `Abdullah ibn Bayyah, said that the entire Islamic legislative system came for the benefit of the servants of Allah; to make life good for us. That’s why Allah said in the Qur’an: “Those people who believe and do righteousness, We are going to give them a good life”. (An-Nahl 16:97)

Now specifically, we want to talk about how we should understand the Qur’an in the concept of our lives. What does the Qur’an do for us?

First of all, the Qur’an gives us the main objective of our existence. And those of you who studied philosophy and other similar disciplines, this is what people talk about all the time. Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah), I went to the library the other day and you can find countless books on the purpose of human beings. Why are we here? What’s our purpose? What’s our cause?

Allah is Al-`Alim (the All Knowing), Al-Hakeem (the Most Wise) and whenever Allah mentions these attributes, He emphasizes that He is the One Who is Knowledgeable and He has wisdom in His knowledge. In one verse of the Qur’an Allah identified the purpose of humanity; the reason that we’re here, the objective of life. Allah said:

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Our purpose is `ibadah (worship); to worship Allah. In one verse! There’s no need for a long discourse on this. We have been created to worship.

Maybe in your classes, especially the classes that you’re taking in philosophy, you have some atheists and maybe someone would say to you: ‘Well, I don’t believe in this. I don’t believe that we’re here to be servants’.

Tell them: ‘Okay, don’t use the restroom. Don’t sleep. Don’t eat. Don’t get tired. Don’t pick your nose when nobody’s looking. Don’t blink your eyes’.

They’re going to tell you: ‘I can’t. I cannot do that’.

‘Yes, because you are the slave of something. You are enslaved’.

They’re going to say: ‘Oh, this is physics’.

’You can call it what you want to call it, man. We call it enslavement. Stephen Hawking calls it physics. But we call it `ibadah.’

Allah said everything is going to submit to Allah whether by choice or by force -force meaning in the physical realm of life, not in the intellectual realm:

And whoever is in the heavens and the earth makes obeisance to Allah only, willingly and unwillingly, and their shadows too at morn and eve. (Ar-Ra`d 13:15)

So the Qur’an identified the purpose of creation. And there are many logical arguments mentioned in the Qur’an as to why human beings have been created for this purpose.

We should know that in the Qur’an Allah made this `ibadah comprehensive when He said:

Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds’. (Al-An`am 6:162)

This is the purpose of our existence; to be the servants of Allah.

Why? Because if somebody is not the servant of Allah, what will they be? They will be the servant of something else.

I remember, subhan Allah, before I was Muslim I used to be a member of the Bloods and I came into a swap meet wearing all my red and stuff, with my boys. And we ran into these Muslim guys, you know with big turbans and beards, in Oklahoma of all places. So, I went to this brother and I said: ‘You, what’s up, man?’ (I don’t talk like that anymore, al-hamdulillah, thanks to Allah)

So, he responded to me and said: ‘Yeah, what’s up?’ And I was amazed, thinking, ‘This foreign cat can really speak English’. Little did I know that that guy was from Brooklyn, NY. He was an American. And subhan Allah he started giving me da`wah (call to Islam).

He said: ‘You see that money you have in your pocket from selling dime bags? You see that pager you have? You see that car you drive with the Dayton and the beats? You see these girls you’re trying to rap on? All of this is your ilah’.

I said to him: ’What’s an ilah?’

He said: ‘Your god’.

I said: ‘You’re right. You’re correct, this is my god’. At that time, if somebody scratched my car I’d put a cap in their…foot. If somebody tried to talk to my girl we were going to go outside. I said: ‘These are the emotions that should be attached to a deity’.

He said: ‘Exactly, and this is the message of Islam. To attach these emotions, as well as physical actions, to the one who deserves it. La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but God)’.

So Islam identified this purpose in our lives for us. For thirteen years in Makkah, this was the message of the Qur’an: submission to and worship of the One Who deserves to be worshiped.

The other thing that we should know about the Qur’an is that it is comprehensive. And in university you’re going to be pounded with something called secularism, maybe directly or indirectly. But it will be implanted into your hard-drive. If you use anti-virus it will not work. You have to use the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

This is our anti-virus system. When something comes in to us, and it doesn’t fit our understanding of the world around us, we apply the anti-virus system of the Qur’an. But if we’re not reading the Qur’an, if we’re not studying the Qur’an, if we’re not thinking about the Qur’an, it’s the same as if you leave your computer open without ever using anti-virus on it. What’s going to happen to your computer after six months? So, subhan Allah, how many of us for many years have not used the anti-virus system of the Qur’an? How many? There are so many of us.

Do we have a day-to-day relationship with the Qur’an? Do we have a monthly relationship with the Qur’an? Do we have a yearly relationship with the Qur’an? If not, we are going to be infected cognitively and eventually it will affect al-jawarih (the limbs).

Look at the Qur’an. You’re going to find penal law in the Qur’an. For example, Allah mentioned in the Qur’an that if somebody kills someone you have the right to blood money, or that they should also be killed according to the government system: “O you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder”. (2:178)

We have in the Qur’an inheritance (4:11). We have in the Qur’an charity (zakah). We have in the Qur’an family issues: for example, for our brothers, how did Allah order us to live with women? He said to live with women in a nice, nice way (4:19).

Even bringing up children is mentioned in the Qur’an. One page of Surat Luqman is dedicated to raising children. Allah says: “Oh you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from the hellfire…” (66:6).

Even fun is mentioned in the Qur’an. Allah said: “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice” (Yunus 10:58). Every aspect of life has been covered in the Qur’an, maybe not in specifics. Because the Qur’an does not deal with specifics, it deals with general principles.

Like, for example, the verse where Allah said to live with your wife nicely. Allah didn’t say: ’Buy her a Gucci handbag’. Allah didn’t say: ‘Bring her roses’. Allah didn’t say: ‘Bring her these clothes’. Why didn’t Allah specify?

Because not every woman is the same. Maybe some women don’t like roses (I haven’t met one yet!) Maybe some women don’t like Gucci (possibly). So Allah left it open with a general principle, ’Live with your families nicely’. Because niceness is wide, and everybody has their own things that they like. The Qur’an gave general principles, very rarely does it deal with specifics; it left the specifics to the Sunnah of the Prophet.

We see the Qur’an is comprehensive, it addresses the individual, it addresses the family, it addresses the social system (the society), it addresses the state, and it even addresses the nation. If you want to know how to build a nation, go to the story of Moses and you’ll find five periods in which a nation is built: that he took them from Egypt when they were nothing, then they went to the next phase. It’s interesting; Allah sent the older people to the desert for forty years to get them out of the way and then brought the youth in to bring out the nation. Then after a battle and struggle you had the birth of Bani Israel (Children of Israel).

Being a just leader is also mentioned in the Quran. Why do you think in the 18th chapter we see the story of Dhul Qarnayn (18:83-98)? Why, in many Muslim countries, do the presidents of those countries not want the quraa’ (those who recite Qur’an) to read these verses about Dhul Qarnayn?  Because it’s going to remind them about being just rulers.

Everything is addressed in the Qur’an. Allah says:

We have not neglected in the Book a thing. (Al-An`am 6:38)

Nothing has been left out of the Book of Allah. That’s why they used to say that the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet), even if they lost the string on their camel, they would go to the Qur’an for the answer. Us, we have to wait until our professor comes and says: ‘Well, you know Abdul it looks like you’re going to get a D’. This is our relationship with the Qur’an.

Whereas the Companions of the Prophet, for the most minute, insignificant problems they would refer to the Qur’an. As Allah mentioned in Surat An-Nisaa’: “…return back to Allah and His Messenger…” (An-Nisaa’4:83)

So how can you return back to Allah, now? It’s by going to the Qur’an.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com

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The Prophet’s Guidance for New Muslim Youth

Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

By Maria Zain

For new Muslims, it is vital to read up on how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) kept the teenagers around him in good company, enjoining them in doing good deeds. Embracing Islam can be a life-changing experience.

Some new Muslims come to Islam alone, whereas others revert together with their whole family. If a couple decides to embrace Islam and have young children, it is most likely that their children will also become Muslims. For those with older children, especially those well in their teens, the transition can be trickier.

Some teenagers may very well follow in their parents’ footsteps whole heartedly, others may embrace Islam with a certain amount of wariness and there are probably many others who would prefer not to make the change.

However for family members who decide to come to Islam and who join them on their journey in becoming observing Muslims, it is worth to note the Sunnah on how Prophet Muhammad treated the youth. This will enable the transition to become smoother and more of a positive challenge for the family as a whole.

When Prophet Muhammad was given the first revelation in the cave of Mount Hira’, it was well known that he was 40 years old. As many men at that age, he had reached a certain pinnacle of leadership qualities. Men at the age of forty are often seen running their own corporations and enterprises, have attained successful marriages and raised teenage children.

What differentiates the Prophet’s leadership qualities, though, was that an important majority of followers were at the time new Muslim youth.

In the most important mission of any man’s plight, Prophet Muhammad was commanded to change the mindset of the pagan Arabs, to do away with waylay practices, oppressive behavior, corrupted attitudes, and to embrace Islam as their comprehensive way of life.

Islamic history relays that this was a gruelling attempt at changing the culture of stone-cold pagans who were deeply rooted in their traditions. Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

Anas ibn Malik (may God be pleased with him) was one of the young men who grew very close to the Prophet. Anas mentioned that the Prophet never once uttered a word of disgrace upon him, neither any other member of the youth of society. He had worked for the Prophet and grew up observing and learning through the Prophet’s actions and behavior. Anas was recognized as one of the most fluent narrators of hadiths of his time.

Prophet Muhammad had other young companions who flocked with him like feathers of a bird. He often joked with them, calling ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) ‘AbuTuraab’ (father of the dust), for sleeping on the dusty ground. He was also very close to his family members, in particular his youngest daughter Fatimah, and was known to show his affection for her in public.

On several occasions, when Fatimah entered a room where the Prophet was, he would rush over to her, take her by her hands, kiss her and offer her his seat. Fatimah was also known to reciprocate in kind. But as much as the Prophet kept affectionate and jovial relations with the youth, he continuously moulded them to be the leaders of the future.

There is no doubt that ‘A’ishah, Prophet Muhammad’s wife, rose to the ranks of leadership at a very young age and as she outlived her husband for half a century, she became a teacher like no other woman seen in history. Until this very day, Muslims around the world read of her narrations and regard her with the highest respect as one of the feistiest women of the companions. Another young wife, Hafsah, daughter of Umar, was appointed as the keeper of the Holy Qur’an, a grave responsibility for any youth. This shows that though many companions were teens during the Prophet’s lifetime, adulthood was only a stone-throw away.

 How the Prophet did it?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also adamant in protecting the youth in public, honoring their opinions during debates, even against the wisest of Muslims.

‘Ali once narrated that youth between the age of fourteen and twenty-one needed to be befriended – treated as friends. Do we teach the Muslim youth the same way? Do we earn their trust by befriending them, respecting their opinions and helping them through difficulty much like good friends would do? Or do we continue to berate them for their mistakes; chastise them for their ignorance; and ignore them when they are in need, with the excuse that they are just ’troubled teenagers’?

The youth face a plethora of social ills today. From drugs to prostitution, from school drop-outs to poor qualifications; from obsession with pop culture to over-indulgences in peer pressure– it can be difficult for the Muslim youth to stand by Islamic principles with so many distractions surrounding them.

As parents of the youth of this chosen religion, we have to realize that education spans further than the walls of the classroom. The youth surrounding the Prophet were continuously surrounded by adults, not by their peers. They learned hands on how to deal with business transactions, travelling for da`wah (calling to God), teaching those who were illiterate (regardless of age) and engaged in household chores the way adults would do.

The Prophet would have frowned at those who removed the autonomy of the youth in making their own decisions, partaking in society, learning from real life scenarios and exploring their own interests and strengths that will eventually help them excel as adults in the real world. The Prophet was also adamant in protecting the youth in public, honoring their opinions during debates, even against the wisest of Muslims and allowing them to join him on even the most dangerous entourages. The youth surrounding the Prophet were definitely very involved in society.

Parents nowadays should not just categorize their teens as hormonal teenagers. For new Muslims, it is vital to read up on how Prophet Muhammad kept the teenagers around him in good company, always enjoining them in doing good deeds and encouraging them gently to ward off evil.

Embracing Islam as a family may be difficult, especially with elder children in tow, but showing how well they are appreciated within the realm of Islam, reinforces individualism, independence and autonomy in making decisions. The upside of a Muslim family coming together to Islam is that parents and children can learn together and teach each other as they journey along to becoming better Muslims. Even if older children decide not to follow their parents’ choice in faith, they still need to be treated with love and respect in light of the Sunnah, as in time they may open up to the beautiful faith and its stance on the importance of the youth.

Prophet Muhammad recognized the youth as important individuals of society. They were encouraged to learn and grow by participating in business trades, much like Anas ibn Malik; scholarly discussions, much like `Ali; and negotiations across nations, much like Usamah ibn Zayd; who led the Muslim army, including men who were old enough to be his grandfathers, at the tender age of fifteen.

The female youth of the time were not excluded from such responsibility. Ruqayyah (daughter of Prophet Muhammad) co-lead the first emigration to Abyssinia during the worst chapter of oppression upon the Muslims. Asmaa’ (daughter of Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with them all) risked her life during the Prophet’s and Abu Bakr’s plight to Madinah. She could have been killed, but due to her strong upbringing based on love for and fear of God, she took it upon her duty to protect the Prophet and her father when they were being hunted down by the Quraish.

Prophet Muhammad always perused kindness and patience in dealing with youngsters, treating them with respect, valuing their opinions and allowing them autonomy to make their own decisions.

Becoming a Muslim family, together, changes a person’s mindset on how they view teenagers. Instead of individuals who are either too young to make their own decision; or individuals who should be doing homework in order to earn straight A’s that will determine their success; or individuals who should be ‘enjoying’ life through partying and gossiping about celebrities, or being obsessed about reality television stars; the youth should be encouraged to be strong and active members of society.

The youth of today do not face the challenges of the youth of the companions. But they do definitely face a whole suite of fitnah (temptations) and conflicting identities in their own right. There are plenty of ways for the youth to become active members in the community; they just need to be befriended and encouraged by adults who wish to raise them as God-fearing adults rather than allow them to be trapped in the confusion of hormonal changes.

However, this has to be done in accordance with the Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad always perused kindness and patience in dealing with youngsters, treating them with respect, valuing their opinions and allowing them autonomy to make their own decisions.

For new Muslims, it is also important for their teenagers to find comrades of a feather, regardless of age and culture. As long as the new Muslim youth find a strong sense of belonging in Islam and a thriving Muslim community, their priorities as Muslims will be set on the right track and they will be able to achieve the same glory as the youth who surrounded Prophet Muhammad in the golden years of Islam.

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Source: islammessage.com

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Islam and Preservation of Human Life

Physical Security and Protection

life nature-flower

One’s soul or own body is a sacred entity entrusted to him by God on a temporary basis.

Human life is sacred and a gift from Allah, the Creator. For the protection of human life Islam has legislated capital and corporal punishments and retribution unto those transgressing criminals who murder and physically harm others. Killing falls into three types: intentional and/or premeditated murder,manslaughter, and total mistake.

Islam commands the execution of anyone who commits premeditated murder of an innocent person, seeking to place as strong a deterrent as possible to eradicate the temptation of intentional murder.

Unintentional manslaughter and mistaken killings are separate categories with separate lesser sentences and blood money is paid to the close relatives of the victim. The family or the heirs of the killed victim are given a diyyah (blood money) unless they choose to forgive the killer. The killer must repent to Allah and make atonement by the freeing a Muslim slave, and if this is not possible, by fasting for two consecutive months.

All such penalties are for preservation of life. No one has the right to possessions or estate without legitimate cause. All oppressive or abusive must be warned against unjust killing, victimizing or harassing other innocent members of the Islamic society, and these strict punishments should be made clear. If the retaliation is not similar to the crime itself, criminals become emboldened in their criminal activities.

All other corporal punishments have the same rationale, wherein the punishment is proportionate to the crime with specific measurements of retribution predetermined to stop all arguments and confusion.

All capital and corporal punishments are oriented for the preservation of human life and property in an Islamic society. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

And there is (a saving of) life for you in al-qisas (the law of equality in punishment), O men of understanding,that you may become pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:179)

The penalty of the Hereafter for the intentional murderer who does not repent will be the wrath of Allah. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever): and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (An-Nisaa’ 4:9)

Prescribed Duties

Islam has imposed certain specific duties on everyone in respect to protection of human life. The following are some of these duties:

1-Man does not own his soul or his own body: rather it is a sacred entity entrusted to him on a temporary basis. It is not allowed for anyone to intentionally torture or harm himself, or carry-out any type of suicidal crime or reckless act leading to his destruction.

Life is only given in sacrifice for the cause of Allah. Allah says:

O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly: but let there be among you trade by mutual good-will: nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah has been to you Most Merciful! (An-Nisaa’ 4:29)

2-Man must maintain proper nutritional care to satisfy the minimum requirements essential for decent health. He is not allowed to deprive himself of permissible food, drink, clothing, marriage and proper care under any pretexts, if that causes him harm. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah,which He has produced for His servants, and the things,clean and pure, (which He has provided) for sustenance?
Say, they are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Requital.
Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand.
(Al-A`raf 7:32)

flowers-nature

Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by Allah to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without wastage

Halal in Moderation

Allah, the Exalted, admonished the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he abstained from eating honey in order to please one of his wives, and this became an eternal lesson for all Muslims. Allah states in the Qur’an:

O Prophet! Why do you make forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to you? You seek to please your wives but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (At-Tahrim 66:1)

Moderation is between stinginess and extravagance. Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by Allah to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without wastage. Allah states in the Qur’an:

O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters. (Al-A`raf 7:31)

It is forbidden to neglect the physical needs of the body and cause harm through negligence or self-torture:

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than itcan bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

It is reported that Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said that, “Three men came to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) mosque to inquire about the worship of the Prophet. When they were informed, they considered their worship insignificant and said: ”Where are we in comparison with the Prophet while Allah has forgiven his past sins and future sins“. One of them said: ”As for me, I shall offer salah all night long.” Another said:”I shall observe sawm (fasting) continuously and shall not break it”. The third one said: ”I shall abstain from women and shall never marry.”

The Prophet came to them and said,“Are you the people who said such and such things? By Allah, I fear Allah more than you do, and I am the most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fasting and break it; perform salah and sleep at night and take wives. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.

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What Is the Quran?

By Abu Zakariya

Muslims do not just believe that the Quran is from God based on blind faith. The Quran is a living miracle, one that we can all experience for ourselves.

What is the Qur’an, and how did it come about?

Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by God Almighty through the Angel Gabriel.

The Qur’an informs us that Muhammad is the final Messenger in a long line of Messengers that God sent before him, such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all.

This is one of the many unique aspects of the Quran: it acknowledges all of the Messengers sent by God.

The Quran’s impact on the world is immeasurable. Although the Quran was revealed in 7th century Arabia, it contains a universal message for the whole of mankind.

Because of the Quran, there are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today – nearly a quarter of humanity. They are people of all races, nationalities and back­grounds.

Just to give you a practical demonstration of how many Muslims there are in the world, at any given moment, on any day, someone, somewhere, is reciting the Quran.

It is estimated that there are many millions of Muslims alive today who have memorised the entire Quran.

One has to wonder, what is it about the Quran that has made such an imprint on the hearts of over a billion Muslims?

While the Quran is the most widely read book in the world, it is also arguably the most often misunderstood and misrepresented.

These days it seems that everyone is talking about the Quran. But how many have actually read it? How many have allowed it to speak for itself ?

Whether you have read the Quran or not, whether you have even heard of the Quran before or not, it has already shaped and influenced your life in ways you cannot imagine.

You may be thinking to yourself, do all religions not make fantastical claims? After all, if these ancient books were originally written in the past, and we were not there at the time to witness the events, then does not belief in them ultimately derive from blind faith?

Muslims do not just believe that the Quran is from God based on blind faith. The Quran is a living miracle, one that we can all experience for ourselves.

Bold claims need to be backed up by strong evidence. As you are going to see, the Qur’an challenges its reader and engages our intellect by providing many testable and verifiable proofs of its divine origin.

This book is going to challenge misconceptions and make some strong assertions. If you are a sceptic of religious books because you think that they are filled with too many fantastical claims and insuf­ficient evidence, then prepare to be surprised. If you have already read the Quran and think that you have seen everything it has to offer, think again!


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “The Eternal Challenge: A Journey Through The Miraculous Qur’an” with some modifications.

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The Beginning of Salvation Is to Reflect on the Signs of the Quran

By Abu Zakariya

The Importance of Reason in Finding the Truth

“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God…” (Quran 2:2)

No one wants to dedicate their entire lives to a particular religion, philosophy or way of life only to find out when we die that we were wrong.

We only get one shot, we have only been given one life, and so the stakes are very high. The only way that we may find the truth about God, or anything for that matter, is to approach it objectively.

Other religions tell you to believe and not to think or question. The Qur’an is unique because it tells us that we must think and question so that we can reason our way to the truth.

The Qur’an constantly encourages its reader to think and reflect:

“Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts?” (Quran 47:24)

Revelation can only benefit us if we reflect upon it, and the fact that God endowed every one of us with the ability
to reason is evidence that He does not want us to be blind followers.

The Qur’an in fact, admonishes those who follow blindly:

“Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of God are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” (Quran 8:22)

If we reason about the nature of revelation, then what qualities would you expect to find in a book from God?

Would you not expect it to transcend human works?

If the work of God could not be distinguished from human works, then how could we be expected to distinguish truth from falsehood and identify God’s guidance?

The Qur’an is full of signs that it is the truth of God:

“We shall show them Our signs in every region of the earth and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the Truth…” (Quran 41:53)

Let us reflect on the different aspects of the Qur’an: its concept of God, preservation, timeless relevancy, literary features, structure, accurate future prophecy, revealing lost knowledge from history, the fact that it cannot be imitated and its impact on society.[i]

When a work excels in just one of these areas, they are rightly hailed as a masterpiece and revered across generations. What should we make of the Qur’an, a book that has achieved the inhuman feat of excelling in every area that it touches upon?
Muslims do not just believe that the Qur’an is from God based on blind faith. The Qur’an is a living miracle, one that we can all experience for ourselves just by opening it up and reading it.

As we have seen, the Qur’an challenges its reader and engages our intellect by providing many testable and verifiable proofs of its divine origin. Moreover, we should think about the purpose of these different aspects of the Qur’an. Are they present for the sake of our entertainment, or is there a grander and more meaningful purpose behind
them?

Each verse of the Qur’an is intended as a sign for mankind. Instead of viewing these different signs that we have focused on as isolated, unrelated wonders, we should look at their accumulated effect.

We should peer up to admire the sheer scale of this tower of evidence. This is a compass that points us to the heavens, and that is exactly what the Qur’an is – a guide for mankind:

“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God…” (Quran 2:2)


[i] These aspects are discussed in the author’s book.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “The Eternal Challenge: A Journey Through The Miraculous Qur’an” with some modifications.

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Can the Power of Prayer Alone Stop a Pandemic like the Coronavirus? Even the Prophet Muhammad Thought Otherwise

By CRAIG CONSIDINE

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing governments and news sources to provide the most accurate and helpful advice to the world’s population, as the disease is indeed global in reach. Health care professionals are in high demand, and so too are scientists who study the transmission and effect of pandemics.

Muhammad said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

Experts like immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta are saying that good hygiene and quarantining, or the practice of isolating from others in the hope of preventing the spread of contagious diseases, are the most effective tools to contain COVID-19.

Do you know who else suggested good hygiene and quarantining during a pandemic?

Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, over 1,300 years ago.

While he is by no means a “traditional” expert on matters of deadly diseases, Muhammad nonetheless had sound advice to prevent and combat a development like COVID-19.

Muhammad said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

He also said: “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.”

Muhammad also strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection. Consider the following hadiths, or sayings of Prophet Muhammad:

“Cleanliness is part of faith.”

“Wash your hands after you wake up; you do not know where your hands have moved while you sleep.”

“The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.”[i]

And what if someone does fall ill? What kind of advice would Muhammad provide to his fellow human beings who are suffering from pain?

He would encourage people to always seek medical treatment and medication: “Make use of medical treatment,” he said, “for God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease—old age.”

 

Perhaps most importantly, he knew when to balance faith with reason. In recent weeks, some have gone so far as to suggest that prayer would be better at keeping you from the coronavirus than adhering to basic rules of social distancing and quarantine. How would Prophet Muhammad respond to the idea of prayer as the chief—or only—form of medicine?

Consider the following story, related to us by ninth-century Persian scholar Al-Tirmidhi: One day, Prophet Muhammad noticed a Bedouin man leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in God.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in God.”[ii]

Muhammad encouraged people to seek guidance in their religion, but he hoped they take basic precautionary measures for the stability, safety and well-being of all.

In other words, he hoped people would use their common sense.


Source: Newsweek website

Editorial notes:

[i] This hadith is not authentic. However, a number of scholars hold the opinion that washing hands before and after eating is recommended.

[ii] Although the story is not authentic, it gives a good explanation to the concept of tawakkul (to put your trust in God)


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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