Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Be Muslim and Modest? (Part 1)

By Naiyerah Kolkailah

Allah’s Love of Modesty

When we have modesty with Allah, our manners and behavior with His creation will naturally exude more modesty.

Think about haya’ (modesty), what comes to mind? It could be wearing hijab and dressing modestly. Or maybe it is using decent and clean speech. Or it might be conducting ourselves with dignity and self-respect around the opposite gender.

If we know we’ve fallen short in our modesty, we feel the need to change in some way. So, we try to wear more loose-fitting clothes, for example, or wear less make-up. Or we might try to curse a little less, look at lewd images less often, or flirt a little less with a guy friend or girls at work. But sometimes we find it difficult to change these habits and behaviors. Why is that?

Part of the reason is that we overlook the inner spiritual dimensions of modesty; we try to cure the symptoms without dealing with the problem at its root. It is almost like trying to save a dried out plant by dipping its leaves in water or fertilizer.

Maybe what needs our attention is less apparent. Maybe it is our attitude towards Allah (Exalted is He), or the purity of our hearts, or the depth and strength of our faith in Allah. If we develop modesty and shamefulness in our hearts, it becomes easier for our thoughts, desires, conversations, and actions to reflect that modesty. When we have modesty with Allah, our manners and behavior with His creation will naturally exude more modesty. So, outer modesty is a byproduct and manifestation of the God-consciousness and modesty we nurture within.

I recently read a book almost entirely on the inner dimensions of modesty. It is called Fiqh Al-Haya’ (Understanding Modesty) by Muhammad Al-Muqaddim. I’ve translated some excerpts that I felt capture the essence of haya’ and how it relates to imān and our relationship with Allah. The last translated portion includes ways to adorn our character with more modesty, both internally and externally. May it be of benefit to all Insha’Allah (God-willing).

What is Haya’?

Linguistically, haya’ is derived from the root hayiy, which comes from the word hayah (life). Heavy rain is referred to as hayyan because with it comes the life of the earth, and plants and animals. Similarly, the worldly life and the afterlife are defined through haya’; whoever does not have haya’ would be (spiritually) dead in this life, and also miserable in the afterlife. Some linguists have said: ‘The life in one’s face comes from its haya’, just as the life of a planted seed comes from watering it’.

The level of one’s haya’ is based on how much life is in the heart…so the more alive the heart, the more complete the haya’.

Technically, haya’ is defined as a change or a state of humility that overtakes a person out of fear of being blameworthy. Ibn Al-Qayyim says: ‘haya’ is a state that emerges from combining exaltation with love, so when the two are coupled, haya’ is born’. Some scholars say that it stems from feeling shameful in the heart about something and feeling averse to it.

It can also emerge when the servants know that Allah (the Truth) is looking at them, making them more patient with a certain struggle, or making them feel uncomfortable with their own sin, or making them refrain from complaining.

Haya’ can also come from recognizing the bounty and graciousness one receives. This is because a generous person would not return favorable treatment with mistreatment.

Imam Al-Junayd (may Allah have mercy on him) said: ‘Haya’ is seeing the signs, and being aware of one’s shortcomings. Out of these two will arise a state of haya’. In reality, haya’ is a character trait that encourages a person to avoid shameful things and prevents one from neglecting the rights of the One Who deserves them most’.

Haya’ and Iman

It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Haya’ and iman are two companions, so when one increases, the other also increases”. (Al-Hakim)

He also said: “Haya’ is a part of iman (faith)”. (Muslim)

Imam An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) reported that Al-Qadi `Iyad said: ‘Haya’ was made to be a part of iman– even if it is innate- because it can either be acquired and adopted like all other acts of righteousness, or it can be one’s natural disposition.

However, practicing haya’ according to Islamic legislation requires that being acquired with the right intention and with sound knowledge. That is why haya’ is a part of iman. Another reason is that haya’ encourages one to do acts of righteousness and it prevents one from committing sins’. (An-Nawawi’s Commentary on Sahih Muslim)

Allah’s Love of Modesty

It is narrated that the Prophet said: “Verily, Allah the Exalted is Modest and Concealing (Sittīr); and He loves modesty and concealment. So, when any of you bathe, let him conceal himself”. (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Al-Baihaqi, and Ahmad)

Al-Mubarakfuri said: ‘(The Prophet’s statement’s ”Allah is Modest” means He is Modest in practice, or shows a lot of Modesty. Describing Allah with the Attribute of Modesty is to be understood in a way most befitting for Allah, just like all His other Attributes; we believe in them but do not delve into how (the traits are manifested)’.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

‘…Whoever has a trait similar to one of Allah’s attributes, that trait will lead him to Allah, and will bring him closer to Allah’s Mercy, and will make him/her beloved to Allah; for Allah is Most-Merciful, and He loves the merciful; He is Most Generous, and He loves the generous; He is All-Knowing, and He loves the knowledgeable; He is strong, and He loves the strong believer, who is more beloved to Him than the weak believer; He is Modest, and he loves the people of modesty; He is Beautiful and He loves the people of beauty; He is One (witr) and he loves the people of the witr (Witr Prayer)’.

Who Deserves Our Modesty?

A person should be modest with Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted) with the angels, and with oneself. Whoever is modest with people but not with oneself has belittled his self because he does not see it as worthy of his own modesty. Whoever is modest with oneself but not with Allah does not truly know Allah, the All-Mighty and Exalted.

As such, the Prophet told a man he was advising: “I advise you to have shame with Allah as you would have shame (in the presence) of a righteous man from your people”. (Ahmad)

In the words of Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted): “Does he not know that Allah sees (everything)?” (Al-`Alaq 96:14) there is an implied warning to the servant; if he knows that Allah sees him, then he should be ashamed of committing sin.

Whoever knows that the One he worships is observing his worship will be more inclined to adorn it externally with humble reverence and internally with sincerity and presence. Surely, Allah knows the secret glance of the eyes and what the hearts conceal.

To be continued…

_________________________

Source: suhaibwebb.com.

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Be Muslim and Modest? (Part 2)

By Naiyerah Kolkailah

How could a Muslim develop a modest character?

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has made modesty a standard and measure for a person’s actions. An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he asked the Messenger of Allah about righteousness and wrongdoing. So the Prophet responded: “Righteousness is good character and wrongdoing is what makes you feel discomfort, and that you would hate for people to see (what you are doing)”. (Muslim)

One of the areas where modesty, i.e. shamefulness, should be avoided is in seeking knowledge and in educating. `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “One who does not know should not be ashamed of asking until he has knowledge, and one who is asked about something he does not know should not be ashamed to say ‘I do not know’”. (Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari; commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Al-Bukhari said that Mujahid said: “The one who is shy or arrogant does not gain knowledge”. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “How great were the women of the Ansar; their modesty did not prevent them from seeking knowledge about their religion”. (Ahmad)

How Do We Become More Modest?

If a person’s character traits were completely innate, they would be difficult to change, or replace, or adjust.

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits. If it was not possible to do so, Islamic legislation would not obligate it. Allah (the Most-High) says:

He has succeeded; the one who purifies it, and he has failed; the one who corrupts it. (Ash-Shams 91:9, 10)

Despite that, people vary in their ability, capability, or willingness to adopt or change certain character traits. So, if a person is naturally disposed to express a specific quality, it is easier to develop that character trait even further. This is because his fitrah (innate disposition) is assisting him. As related to modesty as a character trait, it can be innate, and it can also be acquired. These are some ways to help in acquiring and developing modesty:

1- Refrain from shameless words or actions, such as foul or evil speech. This will aggravate Satan, who beautifies these actions, and tempts people with them. So, not engaging in such actions would actually make him hopeless, and he would in turn retract in disgrace.

2- Continuously learn about the benefits of modesty, and expose one’s heart to them repeatedly. Also, make a commitment to gaining the highest levels of modesty, and actively adorning oneself with it.

3- Strengthen iman and belief in the heart, because modesty is a fruit of iman and knowing Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted).

4- Worship Allah (Exalted is He) by reflecting on His beautiful names and attributes, which bring about Allah-consciousness and excellent (character and behavior). Examples of such names would be: the Witness, the Overseer, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the All-Encompassing, and the Protector.

Hatim Al-Asam said: “Make a pact with yourself in three (areas): when you do something, remember that Allah sees you, and when you speak, remember that Allah hears you, and when you are silent, remember Allah’s knowledge of your inner (thoughts, feelings, and being)”.

5- Consistently observe the obligatory and recommended worship, like prayer. Allah said: “Verily, prayer prevents lewdness and evil deeds”. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

It was said to the Messenger of Allah: “So and so prays all night, but when he wakes up he steals!” So, he said: “What you mentioned (i.e. his prayers) will (eventually) prevent him from that”. Or he said: “His prayers will prevent him”. (Ahmad)

Zakah is another example. Allah says regarding zakah: “Take a portion of their wealth as charity [zakah] to purify them and increase them with it”. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

6- Always be truthful and avoid dishonesty. This is because truthfulness will guide a person to righteousness, and modesty is a part of righteousness. The Prophet said: “You should be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to paradise…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7- Actively practice modesty on a regular basis so that it becomes a natural disposition. This will require beautifying oneself with patience.

8- See righteous people, intermingle with them, listen to them, and learn from their modesty. Some scholars have said: “Enliven your modesty by sitting with those whom you would feel shameful around”. Mujahid said: “If all that a Muslim benefits from his brother is that his feeling of shame with him prevents him from sinning, then that would suffice him”. (Makarim Al-Akhlaq)

9- Bring to mind the modesty of the greatest example for mankind, the Messenger of Allah, and learn about his Seerah (biography of the Prophet) and his noble traits.

Also, bring to mind the modesty of his Companions and their lives, especially the righteous caliphs, the ten given glad tidings of paradise, those who witnessed Badr, and the Bay`at Ar-Ridwan (a covenant of fealty), and the rest of the Muhajireen and the Ansar, and those who followed in their footsteps from the people of knowledge and faith.

10- Remove oneself from a corrupted environment that keeps one away from good character. Do not accompany those who show little modesty; befriend righteous people instead. In the Prophetic narration about the man who killed one hundred souls, the knowledgeable man said: “…And who can stand between you and a sincere repentance? Go to so and so land, for you will find people there who worship Allah. So, worship Allah with them, and do not return to your land because it is a land of evil…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We seek Allah’s forgiveness for every misstep, and for every mistake we made with the pen; and we seek His forgiveness for any words that do not match our actions; we seek His forgiveness for anything we showed or revealed of knowledge despite our shortcomings; we ask that He makes us act upon what we know, for His sake only, and that He places this knowledge on our scale of righteous deeds when our deeds are presented before us. Verily, He is Most-Benevolent and Generous.

_________________________

Source: suhaibwebb.com.

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

Disagreement and Debate in Islam

By Khalid Dhorat

To differ and disagree is only natural, but the way we differ is a matter of attitude and discipline.

To differ and disagree is only natural, but the way we differ is a matter of attitude and discipline.

Very often, people philosophize and agonize about the state of the Ummah (Muslim nation). It is true that what happens in other parts of the world affects us directly; we are concerned, we voice our feelings and assist according to our means. However, what we sometimes forget is that whilst we are thinking globally, we fail to act……locally!

We, too, have pressing issues at home. Disagreement and dissension, is capable of breaking up any society – and this is an issue that we need to face squarely!

Unity above Everything

Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) once became extremely upset with his brother Harun (Aaron, peace be upon him), who was also a Prophet. He grabbed him by his hair and pulled his beard. Musa held Harun responsible for allowing the Bani Isra’il (the Children of Israel)) in following As-Samiri and going back to worshipping the idols, during his absence. Aaron sadly replied:

O son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. Truly, I feared but you should say that I caused a division among the Bani-Isra’il and did not respect my word. (Ta-Ha 20:94)

This verse shows that Aaron was more concerned with the unity of the Bani Isra’il than he was with their worshipping the golden calf. He was waiting for his brother to come back and calmly resolve this problem, thereby avoiding dissension.

Disagreements and differences between people are natural. All of us are different in one way or another. We come from different backgrounds and upbringings, we speak different languages, we belong to different ethnic backgrounds, and have variegated levels of education.

We may therefore have different perceptions, opinions, and approaches. Allah (Exalted is He) says:

If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single community, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The return of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute. (Al-Ma’idah 5:48)

From this ayah (verse) we see that being different is by Allah’s design. Differences among people cannot be and will not be eliminated. Therefore, we have to make our differences and disagreements work to the advantage of the Ummah.

Can we prevent dissension and enmity by learning how to disagree?

To differ and disagree is only natural, but the way we differ is a matter of attitude and discipline.

Types of Disagreement

There are three types of disagreements. The first is normal disagreement, ikhtilaf. It is used to describe a situation in which people genuinely cannot agree on issues. The second disagreement is dialectical in nature, jadal. The aim of this kind of disagreement is ultimately to win an argument. At best, it is fruitless and serves no higher purpose.

The third type and worst type of disagreement is dissension, shiqaq. This is when parties hold beliefs that are mutually exclusive. Each party has no room for the other’s opinion. It is when pride and arrogance subverts the rational mind to the lowest of the low. It may even lead to violence.

We have seen evidence of dissension in our society: family and business squabbles that dissipate the energy and resources of people; institutions of learning that bicker on irrelevant issues; road rage incidents that lead to death amongst neighbours; pamphleteering amongst organizations; malicious slandering etc.

These are some of the symptoms of unacceptable disagreements that we see around us. They lead to disunity. They can be caused by selfishness, pride, arrogance and ignorance; or by blind loyalty to groups, parties or leaders. Allah warns us about these kinds of disagreements and gave us the examples of nations before us who destroyed themselves through dissension. Allah says:

And do not dispute with one another, lest you lose heart and your moral strength desert you… (Al-Anfal 8:46)

Imagine the situation of a group of people who are trapped at the bottom of a deep pit. Either they can argue forever about who can jump high enough to reach the top until they get exhausted and die or they can stand on each other’s shoulders and by mutual co-operation reach the top.

The Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) differed among themselves on a number of issues, starting with choosing the successor to the Prophet (peace be upon him). They differed on strategy in political matters, on interpretations in fiqhi (jurisprudential) issues. But they continued to have respect, love and reverence for each other. The founders of the different fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) schools, although disagreeing on many issues, even so had great respect for each other.

Can we be the same? Can we disagree and remain united? I believe we can. The first and foremost guarantee of our unity, is setting our objective wholly and sincerely to please Allah. We need to train our hearts to reject pride and jealousy. To remain one community, we need to subordinate our desires to Allah’s desire.

Some of the pitfalls we need to avoid:

Generalizing and stereotyping: ‘This person or that organization is like this’, or ‘they are all the same’.

Doubt: Be careful about your assumptions. ‘Who is behind this?’ ‘Where do they get their money from?’ and so on plant the seed of doubt and mistrust.

Jumping to conclusions: ‘He is the culprit’. Hear the whole story, get information, hear all sides before judging any individual or group.

Speaking about what you do not know: Speak only after thorough investigation. Allah says: ‘Do not pursue that which you have no knowledge of’.

Some aspects we need to emphasize:

1. Make your loyalty to Allah alone, and look for justice and truth.

2. If a discussion gets heated, stop it immediately.

3. Always keep in mind that your brother or sister has the right to his/her opinion, just like you do.

4. It is always better to debate an issue without settling it, than to settle it without debating it.

5. Do not leave an argument carrying a grudge.

6. Conclude with a handshake, smile or a hug.

7. Assure the other side that your disagreement does not change your love and respect for him.

Above all, let us not be from those who have broken the unity of their faith and become sects, each group delighting in what they follow:

Turn your back in repentance to Him, and fear Him: establish regular prayers, and be not you among those who join gods with Allah; those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself! (Ar-Rum 30:31-32)

_________________________

Source: iiie.net.

Soucre Link
Categories
New Muslims Society

Islam and People with Disabilities

 

helping hand

It is duty of we Muslims to shoulder the responsibility of showing the utmost care to those people

Man’s life is a full record of hardships and tribulations. In this sense, Allah says:

We create man from a drop of thickened fluid to test him. (Al-Insan 76:2)

When man looks upon these tribulations and afflictions as being a test from Almighty Allah to see his true colors, he will come to know that there is a great divine wisdom behind all these tests. This is surely an absolute fact, whether we know it or not.

It is also a great thing that Almighty Allah, when depriving a person of a certain ability or gift, compensates him for it, by bestowing upon him/her other gift, with which he excels others. That is why we see that those people who are deprived of sight, have very sensitive ears that they can hear very low beats or movements around them. They are given excellence in many other abilities to compensate their imperfection.

If a person adopts this view, he will surely find rest and get contented with the test posed on him by Almighty Allah. Every person should bear in mind that he can never change his inability or escape Allah’s fate and thus he should try his best to make his life better and turn this sore lemon into sweet honey.

This inability should be a motive to creativity and excellence in any field of life. A disabled person should make his condition an impetus towards being distinguished and prominent in the society.

How to Overcome Disability, Become an Active Member in the Society

In order to be an active member in the society, a disabled person needs to be fully aware of his surroundings and the nature of his disability. In addition, it is incumbent on the society to offer a helping hand to all those people.

Islamic history has a shining record of many examples of people who, while having some kind of disability, occupied very excellent positions and prominent status in the society. `Atta’ ibn Abi Rabah, who was known of being black, lame and paralyzed person, was the greatest Mufti in Makkah. He was highly honored by `Abdul-Malik ibn Marawan, the Muslim caliph of that time. His vast knowledge earned this prestige.

Also, we know the story of the great Companion `Amr ibn Al-Jamuh, who was also lame. His four sons, when participating in Jihad, said to him: ‘You have an excuse to remain at home, for you are old and you have a kind of disability.’ With full confidence and trust in Allah, he said to them: ‘Nay, for I hope to walk in Paradise with my lame foot.’ Commenting on this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to them: ‘Leave him! He is a man who seeks martyrdom.’

Almighty Allah guides all Muslims not to leave those disabled in isolation lest they fall a prey to despair and psychological ailments. They should be welcomed to the open society and be dealt with in the kindest way.

Society’s Duty towards People with Disabilities

people with disabilities

In Islam, we are commanded to show mercy to everything in this world.

Now, it is the duty of the whole society to establish schools for those persons and secure them due care so that they become good members of the society and that they benefit themselves and their families. In the West, great care is shown to the disabled.

It is duty of we Muslims to shoulder the responsibility of showing the utmost care to those people, for, according to the teachings of our religion, those persons are sources of divine mercy and blessings being showered on us now and then. They are the weak for whose sake we are given sustenance and made victorious.

In his hadith, our Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you.” (Abu Dawud)

If those Westerners show mercy and care to the disabled out of human motives, we, Muslims should do so out of both human and religious motives. In Islam, we are commanded to show mercy to everything in this world. Remember the words of the Prophet:

“Show mercy to those on earth so that He Who is in the heavens (i.e., Allah) bestow mercy to you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

_________________________

Source: onislam.net.

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Muslim and Truthfulness

Hypocrisy, in the form of untruthfulness, pretense, telling lies, dishonesty, etc. is no way a trait of a Muslim or Islam.

In a popular hadith the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) describes the attributes of a hypocrite saying:

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he promises, he breaks it; and if he is entrusted with something, he betrays the trust (Al-Bukhari)

And this is how God defines them, the hypocrite, and their hated characteristics in the Qur’an:

The hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have forgotten Allah; so He has forgotten them. Verily the hypocrites are rebellious and perverse. (At-Tawbah 9:67)

Learn how Prophet Muhammad described, condemned and warned against such hated characteristic as brother AbdelRahman Murphy reflects on the aforementioned hadith

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

What Is Unique about Islamic Ethics?

 

balance in life

Individuals who are honest, sincere, and from whom nothing but good can be expected, have always formed the basis of any healthy human society.

A moral sense is inborn in man and, through the ages, it has served as the common man’s standard of moral behaviour, approving certain qualities and condemning others. While this instinctive faculty may vary from person to person, human conscience has consistently declared certain moral qualities to be good and others to be bad.

Justice, courage and truthfulness have always found praise, and history does not record any period worth the name in which falsehood, injustice, dishonesty and breach of trust have been praised; sympathy, compassion, loyalty and generosity have always been valued, while selfishness, cruelty, meanness and bigotry have never been approved of by society; men have always appreciated perseverance, determination and courage, but never impatience, fickleness, cowardice and stupidity.

Universal Code

Dignity, restraint, politeness and friendliness have throughout the ages been counted virtues, whereas snobbery and rudeness have always been looked down upon. People with a sense of responsibility and devotion to duty have always won the highest regard, those who are incompetent, lazy and lacking in a sense of duty have never been looked upon with approval.

Similarly, in assessing the standards of good and bad in the collective behaviour of society as a whole, only those societies have been considered worthy of honor which have possessed the virtues of organization, discipline, mutual affection and compassion and which have established a social order based on justice, freedom and equality. Disorganization, indiscipline, anarchy, disunity, injustice and social privilege, on the other hand, have always been considered manifestations of decay and disintegration in a society.

Robbery, murder, larceny, adultery and corruption have always been condemned. Slander and blackmail have never been considered healthy social activities, while service and care of the aged, helping one’s relatives, regard for neighbours, loyalty to friends, aiding the weak, the destitute and the orphans, and nursing the sick are qualities which have been highly valued since the dawn of civilization.

Individuals who are honest, sincere and dependable, whose deeds match their words, who are content with their own rightful possessions, who are prompt in the discharge of their obligations to others, who live in peace and let others live in peace, and from whom nothing but good can be expected, have always formed the basis of any healthy human society.

These examples show that human moral standards are universal and have been well-known to mankind throughout the ages. Good and evil are not myths, but realities well understood by all. A sense of good and evil is inherent in the very nature of man.

Hence in the terminology of the Qur’an good is called ma`ruf (a well-known thing) and evil munkar (an unknown thing); that is to say, good is known to be desirable and evil is known not to commend itself in any way, as the Qur’an says:

God has revealed to human nature the consciousness and cognition of good and evil. (Ash-Shams 91:8)

Why Differences?

The question that now arises is: if what constitutes good and evil is so clear and universally agreed, why do varying patterns of moral behaviour exist in the world? Why are there so many conflicting moral philosophies? Why do certain moral standards contradict each other?

What lies at the root of their differences? What is the unique position of Islam in the context of other ethical systems? On what grounds can we claim that Islam has a perfect moral systems? And what exactly is the distinctive contribution of Islam in the realm of ethics?

Although these are important questions and must be squarely faced, justice cannot be done to them in the brief span of this talk. So I shall restrict myself to a summary of some of the points crucial to any critical examination of contemporary ethical systems and conflicting patterns of moral behaviour:

1- Through their failure to prescribe specific limits and roles for the various moral virtues and values, present-day moral structures cannot provide a balanced and coherent plan of social conduct.

2-The real cause of the differences in the moral systems seems to lie in their offering different standards for judging what constitutes good and bad actions and in their laying down different ways to distinguish good from evil.

Differences also exist in respect of the sanction behind the moral law and in regard to the motives which impel a person to follow it.

3- On deeper reflection we find that the grounds for these differences emerge from different peoples’ conflicting views and concepts of the universe, the place of man in it, and of man’s purpose on earth.

The various systems of ethics, philosophy and religion are in fact a record of the vast divergence of views on such vital questions as: Is there a God of the universe and, if there is, is He the only one or are there many Gods?

What are the Divine attributes? What is the nature of the relationship between God and human beings? Has He made any arrangements for guiding humanity through the vicissitudes of life or not? Is man answerable to Him or not?

And if so, in what spheres of his life? Is there an ultimate aim of man’s creation which he should keep in view throughout his life? Answers to these questions will determine the way of life, the ethical philosophy and the pattern of moral behaviour of the individual and society.

It is difficult for me, in this brief talk, to take stock of the various ethical systems in the world and indicate what solutions each one of them has proposed to these questions and what has been the impact of these answers on the moral evolution of the society believing in these concepts. Here I have to confine myself to the Islamic concept only.

_________________________

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

 

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Moral System of Islam: Motives and Practices

The Moral System of Islam: Motives & Incentives

sunset-nature

The love and fear of God become the real motives which impel man to obey the moral law without external pressures.

The fact that a man voluntarily and willingly accepts God as his Creator and obedience to God as the aim of his life and strives to seek His pleasure in his every action provides sufficient incentive to obey the commandments which he believes to be from God.

Belief that whoever obeys the divine commands is sure to be rewarded in the Hereafter, whatever difficulties he may have to face in his life on earth, is another strong incentive for leading a virtuous life.

And the belief that breaking the commandments of God will mean eternal punishment is an effective deterrent against violation of the moral law, however tempted a man may be by the superficial attractiveness of a certain course of action.

If this hope and fear are firmly ingrained in one’s heart, they will inspire virtuous deeds even on occasions when the immediate consequences may appear to be very damaging, and they will keep one away from evil when it looks extremely attractive and profitable.

This clearly indicates that Islam possesses a distinctive criterion of good and evil, its own source of moral laws, and its own sanctions and motivating force; through them it shapes the generally recognized more virtues in all spheres of life into a balanced and comprehensive scheme and ensures that they are followed.

It can therefore be justifiably claimed that Islam possesses a perfect moral system of its own. This system has many distinguishing features and I will refer to three of the most significant ones which, in my opinion, form its special contribution to ethics.

Distinctive Features

1- By setting divine pleasure as the objective of man’s life, Islam has set the highest possible standard of morality, providing boundless possibilities for the moral evolution of humanity.

By making divine revelation the primary source of knowledge, it gives permanence and stability to moral standards, while at the same time allowing scope for reasonable flexibility and adjustment, though not for perversions or moral laxity. The love and fear of God become the real motives, which impel man to obey the moral law without external pressures.

And through belief in God and the Day of Judgment, we are motivated to behave morally with earnestness and sincerity.

2- The Islamic moral order does not, through a mistaken love of originally and innovation, seek to lay down any new moral standards; nor does it seek to minimize the importance of the well-known moral standards, or give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause.

Rather, it takes all the recognized morals and assigns a suitable role to each within the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of their application to cover every aspect of man’s private and social life – his domestic associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legal and educational fields.

It covers his life at home and in society, literally from the cradle to the grave. No sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. These ensure that the affairs of life, instead of being dominated by selfish desires and petty interest, are regulated by the dictates of morality.

3- The Islamic moral order guarantees for man a system of life which is free from all evil. It calls on the people not only to practise virtue, but also to eradicate vice. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into an Ummah (a community) and given the name ‘Muslims’.

The main purpose underlying the formation of this community is that it should make an organized effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil. It would be a day of mourning for this community and a bad day for the entire world if its efforts were at any time directed towards establishing evil and suppressing good.

_________________________

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

Soucre Link
Categories
Ethics & Values New Muslims

Forgiveness and Tolerance in Islam

By Hanaa Hamad

Islam also teaches us that the best kind of forgiveness is answering the oppression of others with kindness

This is where the battle with our inner self can take a positive turn and allow us to elevate our iman.

It never ceases to amaze me that Allah can inspire so much fear in our hearts when we reflect on His supremacy, yet his mercy is equally as vast as His dominion. Allah tells us in a hadith qudsi (sacred narration of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him): “O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you”. (At-Tirmidhi)

Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) there is no limit to Allah’s forgiveness, even though our mistakes are numerous.

But what’s disheartening is how seldom we are able to forgive each other and how often we are impetuously intolerant toward one another. Islam teaches us that the strongest of servants are those who not only have the strength to suppress their anger when they are tested but also possess an immeasurable capacity to forgive.

The Prophet said that: “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins”. (At-Tirmidhi) If we can sincerely forgive those who anger us, inwardly and outwardly, then that cleanses our souls from the Satan and his negative energy. It is important to disregard vain criticisms and this is the first step toward being tolerant.

Of course, this is not done without difficulty because it is hard to understand why those who have caused us grievances wanted to do so in the first place. But this is where the battle with our inner self can take a positive turn and allow us to elevate our iman (faith). This inner struggle is what the Prophet called “the Greater Jihad” because it involves tolerance and fighting the evil within ourselves in order to purify our hearts. This is always done for the sake of Allah and to purify our spiritual conditions.

Against Oppression

Islam also teaches us that the best kind of forgiveness is answering the oppression of others with kindness. The Prophet inspired us with this practice when he said to his followers: “God had ordered me to maintain ties with those who sever ties with me, and to give to those who deprive me, and to forgive those who oppress me.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet and his Companions were so merciful in their conduct that instead of becoming angry with their offenders, they defended them and gave them gifts. What immeasurable acts of compassion! They went beyond human altruism and practiced unmatched generosity. They demonstrated that when we open our hearts and pardon others, we are granting ourselves an inner peace.

This is how we can prevent spite from suffocating our hearts, which is crucial because hatred has the ability to make us internally ill. We think that hatred is a means of revenge against those who have harmed us, but by begrudging them we are only harming ourselves. This is because our enemies will never feel our anger, and they live contently as we suffer. When we forgive others, it brings relief to our souls because it is a kind of liberating release. This is because when someone has upset us, they have a power over us because we allowed them to do so.

Life is short. Let us not waste our energy on being angry at our enemies and seeking revenge against them. If we can progressively minimize our spite every day, then soon we will bear no hatred or malice in our hearts, in sha’ Allah (God willing). This is how we can end conflict amongst ourselves, since it is a day to day issue we face.

After all, sometimes our own actions can provoke another person’s wrong doings and we may not be aware of how we contributed to the conflict. We tend to judge the faults of others, while being blind to our own. We forget how we have wronged others, and we only remember how others have wronged us. In the same manner, we forget the good things that others have done for us, and remember only the good that we have done for them. It is an innate human error. But let us try to remember our own shortcomings before we reflect on the shortcomings of others.

Let us stop victimizing ourselves and think about how we have victimized others, and then seek their forgiveness. And if they ask our forgiveness, let us always grant it to them. Because the Prophet taught us that: “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy”. (Al-Bukhari) And we must keep in mind that however we treat others is how Allah will treat us.

So in sha’ Allah when someone hurts us, let us try to meet their oppression with kindness and forgive them, even if they are not sorry.

_________________________

Source: suhaibwebb.com.

Soucre Link
Categories
Conversion Stories New Muslims

Theresa Corbin: Nothing but Islam Appealed to My Intellect and Feminist Ideals

By Theresa Corbin

muslim woman wearing hijab

I came to realize Islam is a world religion that teaches tolerance, justice and honor and promotes patience, modesty and balance.

My name is Theresa Corbin. I am a Muslim, but I wasn’t always. I converted to Islam in November 2001, two months after 9/11.

I was 21 and living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was a bad time to be a Muslim. But after four years of studying, poking and prodding at world religions and their adherents, I decided to take the plunge.

Questions and Answers

I am the product of a Creole Catholic and an Irish atheist. I grew up Catholic, then was agnostic, now I’m Muslim.

My journey to Islam began when I was about 15 years old in Mass and had questions about my faith. The answers from teachers and clergymen – don’t worry your pretty little head about it – didn’t satisfy me.

So I did what any red-blooded American would do: the opposite. I worried about it. For many years. I questioned the nature of religion, man and the universe.

After questioning everything I was taught to be true and digging through rhetoric, history and dogma, I found out about this strange thing called Islam. I learned that Islam is neither a culture nor a cult, nor could it be represented by one part of the world. I came to realize Islam is a world religion that teaches tolerance, justice and honor and promotes patience, modesty and balance.

As I studied the faith, I was surprised many of the tenants resonated with me. I was pleased to find that Islam teaches its adherents to honor all prophets, from Moses to Jesus to Mohammed (peace be upon hem), all of whom taught mankind to worship one God and to conduct ourselves with higher purpose.

I was drawn to Islam’s appeal to intellect and heartened by the Prophet Mohammed’s quote, “The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, whether male or female”. (Ibn Majah)

I was astounded that science and rationality were embraced by Muslim thinkers such as Al-Khawarizmi, who invented algebra; Ibn Firnas, who developed the mechanics of flight before Leonardo DaVinci; and Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, who is the father of modern surgery.

Here was a religion telling me to seek out answers and use my intellect to question the world around me.

Taking the Plunge

It was 2001, and I had been putting off converting for a while. I feared what people would think but was utterly miserable. When 9/11 happened, the actions of the hijackers horrified me. But in its aftermath, I spent most of my time defending Muslims and their religion to people who were all too eager to paint a group of 1.6 billion people with one brush because of the actions of a few.

I was done being held hostage by the opinions of others. In defending Islam, I got over my fear and decided to join my brothers and sisters in the faith I believed in.

My family did not understand, but it wasn’t a surprise to them since I had been studying religion. Most were very concerned for my safety. Luckily, most of my friends were cool about it, and even curious to learn more.

The Scarf

These days, I am a proud wearer of hijab. You can call it a scarf. My scarf does not tie my hands behind my back, and it is not a tool of oppression. It doesn’t prevent thoughts from entering my head and leaving my mouth. But I didn’t always know this.

Studying Islam didn’t immediately dispel all my cultural misconceptions. I had been raised on imagery of women in the East being treated like chattel by men who forced them to cover their bodies out of shame or a sense of ownership.

But when I asked a Muslim woman “Why do you wear that?”, her answer was obvious and appealing: “To please God; to be recognized as a woman who is to be respected and not harassed. So that I can protect myself from the male gaze.”

She explained how dressing modestly is a symbol to the world that a woman’s body is not meant for mass consumption or critique.

I still wasn’t convinced and replied, “Yeah, but women are like second class citizens in your faith?”

The very patient Muslim lady explained that, during a time when the Western world treated women like property, Islam taught that men and women were equal in the eyes of God. Islam made the woman’s consent to marriage mandatory and gave women the opportunity to inherit, own property, run businesses and participate in government.

She listed right after right that women in Islam held nearly 1,250 years before women’s lib was ever thought of in the West. Surprisingly, Islam turned out to be the religion that appealed to my feminist ideals.

Getting Married

It might shock you to know that I had an arranged marriage. That doesn’t mean I was forced to marry my father’s first choice suitor, like Jasmine from “Aladdin”. Dad didn’t even have a say.

When I converted, it wasn’t a good time to be a Muslim. Feeling isolated, alienated and rejected by my own society pushed me to want to start a family of my own. Even before converting, I had always wanted a serious relationship but found few men looking for the same.

As a new Muslim, I knew there was a better way to look for love and a lifelong partnership. I decided that if I wanted a serious relationship, it was time to get serious about finding one. I wanted an arranged marriage.

I made a list of “30 Rock”-style deal breakers. I searched. I interviewed. I interrogated friends and families of prospects.

I decided I wanted to marry another convert, someone who had been where I was and wanted to go where I wanted to go. Thanks to parents of friends, I found my now-husband, a convert to Islam, in Mobile, Alabama, two hours from my New Orleans home. Twelve years later, we are living happily ever after.

Not every Muslim finds a mate in this manner, and I didn’t always see this for my life. But I am glad Islam afforded me this option.

Living in a Post-9/11 World

I never had to give up my personality, American identity or culture to be a Muslim. I have, at times, had to give up on being treated with dignity.

I have been spat on, had eggs thrown at me and been cursed at from passing cars. And I have felt terror when the mosque I attended in Savannah, Georgia, was first shot at, then burned down.

In August 2012, I moved back home to New Orleans, where being different is the norm. I finally felt safe- for a while. But now, with the continuous news coverage of the un-Islamic group known as ISIS, I have been subjected to much of the same treatment I received in other cities. And I now feel less safe than I ever have.

It enrages me to know there are some who call themselves Muslims and who distort and misappropriate Islam for political gains.

It weighs on me knowing that millions of my countrymen see only these images as a representative of my religion. It is unbearable to know that I am passionately hated for my beliefs, when those hating me don’t even know what my beliefs are.

In my journey to Islam, I came to learn that Muslims come in all shapes, sizes, attitudes, ethnicities, cultures and nationalities. I came to know that Islam teaches disagreement and that shouldn’t lead to disrespect, as most Muslims want peace.

Most of all, I have faith that my fellow Americans can rise above fear and hatred and come to learn the same.

_________________________

Source: cnn.com

Theresa Corbin is a writer living in New Orleans. She is the founder of Islamwich and a contributor to On Islam and Aquila Style.

Soucre Link
Categories
Conversion Stories New Muslims

More US Hispanic Women Convert to Islam

Hispanic Women

nature

These women feel more at ease with the traditional expectations of women in Muslim society.

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. The Pew Research Center says about six percent of American Muslims are Latino. And women make up a little more than half of the new converts (the people who have changed their religion to Islam).

On a recent Friday, men listened to their imam at Masjid Miami Gardens in Miami, Florida. This clergyman spoke about forgiveness.

On the upper level of the Gardens, the women watch through glass. They hear the imam through a monitoring system.

This is the world that Greisa Torres entered four years ago. That is when she arrived in Miami from Cuba. She says she lost her identify in the move, and found it in the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Ms. Torres converted to Islam while pregnant with her second son.

“It’s very hard for me because we don’t have family here, just my husband and my kids. On this day, my baby, my Mahdi Aparicio, this day he was born. That’s why I convert to Islam, because I’m scared.”

Some estimates say there are 3,000 Hispanic Muslims in the Miami area and more than 40,000 nationwide.

Stephanie Londono received a master’s degree from Florida International University. She published a study about religious conversions by Latinas, women of Hispanic ancestry.

Safe Haven

Ms. Londono says some women turn to Islam because they reject Western values. They believe success in the West is measured by careers, education or wealth.

These women feel more at ease with the traditional expectations of women in Muslim society. They feel that what some consider less freedom in this way of life is something good or a benefit.

Ms. Londono says they like clear definitions between “halal”, meaning acceptable, and “haram”, which means unacceptable.

“So they know exactly where they stand. So the Qur’an happens to become this book that is almost like a guidebook, that tells you exactly how to wear, what to wear, when to wash, what to eat, how to behave, when to pray…”

Representing Islam

Less traditional Muslim women may avoid the hijab. But Latinas are happy to wear this head covering. Ms. Londono says they purposely speak Spanish while their heads are covered to show they represent Islam.

“When the people see you with the hijab, they respect you. It’s emotion you feel because you are different.”

Being seen in public in a hijab breaks traditional images that all Arabs are Muslims and all Hispanics are Catholic.

Ms. Torres also discovered similarities in the cultures as she changed religion. For example, 4,000 Spanish language words have roots in Arabic. This is because Moors (Arabs) occupied Spain in the Middle Ages.

Greisa Torres finds this useful. Some of what she is learning about Islam is taught in Arabic.

_________________________

Source: voanews.com

 

This report was based on a story from VOA’s Carolyn Presutti. Jeri Watson wrote the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Soucre Link