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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

First Muslim Community in Madinah & the Groundwork for Hijrah

It was 620, a year after the deaths of Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and his uncle Abu Talib, and the time of the yearly pilgrimage to the Ka`bah and Makkah’s annual market period was drawing near. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still dispensing his teachings in a climate of rejection, exclusion, and persecution.

Toward Exile

About a hundred Muslims now lived under protection in Abyssinia, but no solution seemed to present itself for the faithful who lived in Makkah.

The pilgrims, coming from all areas of the peninsula, started to settle in the Mina area, to remain there throughout the festival period. Muhammad often went there and conveyed his message to women and men who, in their distant dwelling places, had heard about it but did not know its actual contents. He was far from always receiving a favorable response.

At Al-`Aqabah, not far from Mina, the Prophet met a group of people from Yathrib. They were from the Khazraj tribe, one of the two great rival tribes in Yathrib (the other being the Aws), and he began to deliver his message to them. They had already heard of the message from the Jewish tribes who lived in their city, and they wished to know more about it. They listened to the Prophet and eventually accepted the message of Islam: they promised to inform the members of their tribe of the substance of the message and to keep in permanent contact with the Prophet. They went back home and started preaching in Yathrib.

In Makkah, conversions kept increasing, and Muhammad carried on with his public call. As far as his private life was concerned, many advised him to think of remarrying. Proposals had been made, but the Prophet had never pursued the matter. He had, however, had two dreams in which the very young `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter, who was then six years old, was offered to him in marriage.

When Khawlah, who had taken care of the Prophet’s needs since Khadijah’s death, advised him to remarry and suggested two names-Sawdah, a widow in her thirties who had very recently come back from Abyssinia, and `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter- Muhammad saw in this strange coincidence a sign of the truthfulness of his dreams, and he asked Khawlah to do what was necessary to find out whether the two unions were possible.

Polygamy was the norm in Arabia then, and the Prophet’s situation was the exception, since he had remained monogamous for twenty-five rears. The union with Sawdah was particularly easy to concretize: Sawdah immediately, and most favorably, answered the proposal made to her, and they married a few months later.

`Aa’ishah had already, in keeping with Arabian customs, been promised by Abu Bakr to Mutim’s son, and her father had to negotiate with Mutim in order to break the engagement. `Aa’shah then officially became Muhammad’s second wife, though the union would not be consummated for several years.

A year later, pilgrims and traders were again flocking to Makkah for the celebrations of 621. A second meeting was organized at Al-`Aqabah between the Prophet and the Yathrib delegation that had come to report on the evolution of the situation in their city. Twelve people from Yathrib, two of whom belonged to the Aws clan, took part in the meeting. They pledged allegiance to the Prophet, stipulating that they would worship only the One God, no others, and that they would honor the duties and interdictions of Islam.

They were therefore to constitute the first Muslim community in Yathrib. Muhammad sent back with them a Companion, Mus`ab ibn `Umayr, who had just returned from Abyssinia and who was known for his calm, his wisdom, and tile beauty of his recitation of the Qur’an.

Message of Brotherhood

Back in Yathrib, the delegation kept spreading the message and Mus`ab taught Islam, recited the Qur’an, and answered questions. In spite of age-old and still very sharp divisions between the Aws and Khazraj, members of both tribes converted to the new religion and realized that their former rivalries had become pointless: ’Islam’s message of brotherhood united them.

Clan chiefs nevertheless remained very reluctant to embrace Islam. Mus`ab never reacted to their attacks nor to their aggressive attitude; rather, he invariably answered: “Sit down and listen to the message: if you like it, accept it, if you do not, leave it.” As a result, the number of conversions was high, even among leaders.

During the following year’s pilgrimage, the Prophet met an important delegation of Yathrib. Muslims, composed of seventy-three people, two of them women. They belonged to both me Aws and the Khazraj, and they had come to bring the Prophet the good news of their commitment to Islam. After a few discussions about the nature of their future relationship, they concluded a second covenant stipulating that the Yathrib.

Muslims pledged to protect the Prophet, as well as Makkah’s Muslim women and children, against any aggression. This second covenant, granting refuge and protection and a commitment of Yathrib Muslims to support their Makkan brothers, opened before the Prophet the prospect of a promising future.

From then on, Muhammad encouraged Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib discreetly, while his closest Companions still remained by his side.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Moderation in the Light of the Qur’an

The quran

Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality.

By Editorial Staff

What Is Moderation?

As we discuss the concept of moderation and its implications in Islam, it is essential to examine the places where the concept of moderation or any of it uses is highlighted in the religious texts. The importance of this review stems from the fact that the religious texts stand for the source of rulings and concepts shaping the Islamic view of principles and codes of ethics. But, before going on it is worthy to mention that moderation means to adopt a middle way between both extremes, in all the various walks of life. Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality. Islam stresses moderation and equity in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires.

Direct References to Moderation in the Qur’an

Moderation has been reiterated in the Qur’an whether explicitly or implicitly, but in all its uses it confirms equitable and balanced situation in beliefs, conduct and even worship. It covered the man’s relationship with God, people and universe as a whole. In the following lines, we will review the Qur’anic use of the term moderation which is expressed by the term wastiyyah and its derivatives. We will discover how the Qur’an manifested the concept of moderation as being an essential characteristic and element of the Islamic Shari`ah and creed.

First: Almighty Allah says:

Thus We have mad you a wasat (middle) nation… (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

This verse was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as narrated by Al-Bukhari from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad said, “Noah will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say, ‘Labbaik and Sa`dayk, O my Lord!’ Allah will say, ‘Did you convey the Message?’ Noah will say, ‘Yes.’ His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey the Message to you?’ They will say, ‘No Warner came to us.’ Then Allah will say (to Noah), ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his followers. So they (i.e. Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the Statement of Allah:

Thus We have made of you a wasat (middle and just) nation that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

Imam At-Tabari said, “I believe that ‘wasat’ here refers to the center of the thing that lies between its two ends such as the center of the house… I think that Allah gave them this description because of their being of a middle approach in religion; neither they went to extremes like Christians who innovated monasticism and exaggerated in the appreciation of Jesus taking him as a God, nor they show negligence towards their religion as the Jews did when they distorted the Scriptures of God, killed His Prophets, and disbelieved Him. Allah characterized Muslims by moderation and equity because they adopted a moderate way between these extremes of exaggeration and negligence.

Second: Almighty Allah says,

Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse in his saying on the battle of the Trench as he said, “They have diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer, the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer. May Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire, or he said: May Allah stuff their bellies and their graves with fire.” (Muslim)

Third: Allah says,

So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. (Al-Ma’idah 5:89)

The Qur’an asks the person who pays expiation for breaking his oath to offer food to the poor as one choice. However, this food must be an average food that is not too bad or too expensive. It should be a moderate one; an appropriate food.

Fourth: Almighty Allah says,

The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [ Allah ]?’” (Al-Qalam 68:28)

The verse makes mention of the middle one from among the group referring to the one with better reason and opinion or the best or the fairest one from among them.

Indirect References to Moderation in the Qur’an

These verses cited the term moderation explicitly with its uses that do not overstep the linguistic meaning of the origin of the word, namely moderateness. This meaning is approved by the Shari`ah and coincides with other related Qur’anic texts. However, there are many other texts that shed light on the meaning of moderation through other words that refer to this meaning within a Qur’anic approach with clear and established proofs. We will mention some of them as follows:

Almighty Allah says,

Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:6-7)

The verse states that Allah has described the path with two things: being straight and inconsistent with the path of those who have evoked the anger of God (the Jews) and also the way of Christians who went to extremes in monasticism and worship until they overstep the boundaries of their religion, not only in worship but also in conviction. Thus, since the straight path is contrary to the way of those who committed negligence or extremism, it must be a moderate path. This indicates that the straight path which God has enacted is free from extremism and negligence, which is the core of the Islamic approach of moderation.

The same meaning is also shown clearly in Allah’s saying,

Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Al-Baqarah 2:213)

The above mentioned verses prove and lay the grounds of the moderate approach established by the Qur’an.

However, the whole verses and chapters of the Qur’an call to moderation, justice, equity and other related concepts. Almighty Allah says,

Indeed! This Qur’an guides to that which is straightest. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)

The word ‘straightest’ refers to the safety valve of the Muslim nation, the nation of the Qur’an, which protects it from swerving from the straight path. It is the guidance of the Glorious Qur’an with its proper commands and regulations that conflicts not with sound minds and natural inclinations. Rather, the discourse of the Qur’an, in all its issues, goes in line with the soundest views and theories and observes both the material and spiritual sides on equal levels.

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FEATURED New Muslims

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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