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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Inspired By Muhammad – Social Justice

The Inspired by Muhammad campaign was designed to improve the public understanding of Islam and Muslims. It showcased Britons demonstrating how Muhammad inspired them to contribute to society, with a focus on women’s rights, social justice and the environment. In this video, Myriam Francois Cerrah talks about how the Prophet’s social justice inspired her.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Muslim Manners

Islam is a complete code of conduct. How should we conduct ourselves? How should we act in a certain way?  Watch this show to know Sh. Ibrahim Zidan’s answer to these questions and much more about Muslim manners.

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Taken with kind permission from: thedeenshow.com.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Honesty in Islam

Believers are honest and pure-hearted

“When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (the Day of Judgment).”

These are the noble words of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

They paint a picture of the time leading up to the Day of Judgement, when righteous people will be sorrowful due to the lack of honesty around them. In the 21st century, we live in a world where honesty is still valued and yet shunned at the same time. We expect people to be honest in their dealings and transactions with us; yet we watch and applaud television shows and movies that promote and encourage lying and deceitfulness in our society.

With our negligence, we teach our children that dishonesty is acceptable. When we expect our children to tell the caller on the telephone we are not home, whereas we are, this is a lesson in deceit for the leaders of tomorrow. When we refuse invitations and pretend we are busy, this is lying. We admonish our children for lying, yet the reality is we have been their teachers. Whether we tell lies, or we allow our children to live in a world surrounded by deceit, the lesson is learned and the honesty begins to disappear from the hearts of the next generation.

Furthermore, honesty incorporates the concepts of truthfulness and reliability and it resides in all human thoughts, words, actions, and relationships. It is more than just accuracy; it is more than just truthfulness. It denotes integrity and moral soundness. Islam commands truthfulness and forbids lying. Almighty Allah commands believers to be honest:

O you who believe! Fear God and be with those who are true. (At-Tawbah 9:119)

A true believer, one who is truly submitted to Allah, has many characteristics by which he or she can be identified. The most obvious of these are honesty of character and truthfulness of speech. Prophet Muhammad was a perfect example of honesty. Even before his prophethood, he had earned the titles of the trustworthy and the truthful.

The trustworthy Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once gathered all the people of Makkah and asked them, “O people of Makkah! If I say that an army is advancing on you from behind the mountains, will you believe me?” All said in one voice, “Yes, as we have never heard you telling a lie.” All the people, without exception, swore to his truthfulness and honesty, because he had lived an unblemished and extremely pious life among them for forty years.

The Prophet’s honesty was described well by Abu Sufyan. When he sent a letter to Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantium, inviting him to Islam, the Emperor sent for the Meccan trader, Abu Sufyan. Even though he was at that time a dire enemy of Islam, he spoke the truth about Prophet Mohammad. When asked about the Prophet, he said, “He neither tells lies nor betrays others; he bids people to worship Allah alone and orders us to observe Prayer, honesty, and abstinence.”

This honesty, an essential ingredient of the Muslim character, includes being truthful towards Almighty Allah, by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to Allah’s laws; and being truthful with others, by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling, and marriage. Cheating and deception should never exist among believers. A believer should be the same on the inside as he is on the outside.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) warned us of the dangers inherent in dishonesty, and informed us about the benefits of living in an honest way. He reportedly said, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he is written in the sight of Allah as a truthful person. Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man keeps on telling lies till he is written before Allah as a liar.” (Al-Bukhari)

A true Islamic society is based upon honesty and justice, and is intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms. Honesty in all business transactions is emphasised, and Prophet Muhammad exhorted Muslims to be scrupulously honest in all their dealings. `Abdullah ibn `Umar was once described as the “brother of the night”, for he would stand at night performing Prayer, weeping, seeking Allah’s forgiveness, and reading the Qur’an. One day, he was sitting among some close friends and he read the following verses:

Woe unto those who give short measure, those who, when they are to receive their due from people, demand that it be given in full; but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due. Do they not know that they are bound to be raised from the dead [and called to account] on an awesome Day, the Day when mankind shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds? (Al-Mutaffifin 83:1-6)

Then, `Abdullah wept until he was faint and kept repeating the words (the day when mankind shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds). He was amongst the most honest and trustworthy men, but being reminded of the punishment for those who are deceitful filled him with fear.

Therefore, a Muslim seeking to please Almighty Allah and follow the path of righteousness should be aware of the dangers of deceit and dishonesty. However, he should equally know that Allah is All-Merciful and All-Loving, willing to forgive even the gravest sins for those who repent and strive for His sake. Honesty is very important in the life of a believer.

In a hadith on honesty, the Prophet is reported to have said, “Honesty descended from the Heavens and settled in the hearts of men, and then the Qur’an was revealed and they read the Qur’an and also learnt from the Sunnah. Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah strengthened their honesty.” (Al-Bukhari)

For those who wish to be among the truthful, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has left us with these words of guidance, “Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent.” (Muslim)

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This article was originally published on islamreligion.com. It has been taken with modifications from onislam.net


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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

As human beings, we have an innate sense of morality. No matter what religion, race or color we are, certain qualities serve as the moral standard.

We admire justice, bravery, honesty and compassion. We also abhor those who demonstrate treachery, cruelty or corruption. Moral standards are universal, and one of the most important aspects of Islam is adherence to high moral standards and good manners in society.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught Muslims to have the best manners and distinguished characteristics. The Prophet’s own high standard of morals and manners made him the best example for Muslims to follow. Almighty Allah said in the Qur’an:

And verily you, O Muhammad, are on an exalted standard of character. (Al-Qalam 68: 4)

Generosity was among the countless good qualities of Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most generous in Ramadan. 

One day Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) offered Prayer in the mosque and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. A companion asked why he left and he replied: “I left a piece of gold at home which was given for charity and I disliked letting it remain a night in my house, so I brought it to the mosque to distribute.” (Al-Bukhari)

Our worldly possessions are bounties from Allah, who is the Most Generous. Muslims believe that everything originates from Allah and everything will return to Him. Thus, it is logical to behave as if that which we possess is merely a loan, something we are obligated to preserve, protect and ultimately share.

Whenever Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) met a miserly person, he advised him to be more generous and charitable. Ibn `Abbas said that he heard Prophet Muhammad saying: “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Another companion heard the Prophet saying: “The believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble.” (Abu-Dawud)

Definition of Generosity

Princeton University WordNet defines generosity as the willingness to give freely. Islam encourages this concept of generosity so much so that it is embedded in one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligatory charity known as Zakah. In Arabic, the term Zakah literally means purification of the heart; however, it is also the payment, from surplus money, of an obligatory charity designed by Allah to provide for all the needy members of the community. It is a fixed calculable amount.

There is also another form of generosity in Islam called Sadaqah (optional charity). Anything given generously – freely to others – with the intention of pleasing Allah is Sadaqah. Sadaqah can be as simple as a smile, helping an elderly person with their groceries or removing objects from the road or path.

Generosity can be viewed as a wise investment in the future. Generosity or Sadaqah may pave the way to Paradise because with every generous act comes great reward from Allah. However, being generous does not only mean giving freely from what you have in abundance. Generosity does not lie in giving away something that is no longer useful but in giving freely from the things we love or need.

`A’ishah (the wife of the Prophet) said: “A lady, along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters.” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah tells us in the Qur’an that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing Him, He will replace and multiply. Allah knows what is in the hearts of men. Allah says:

Say: Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it.And He is the Best of providers.(Saba’ 34: 39)

The Value of Generosity

The Companions understood the value of being generous. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was seen in the market buying fodder for his camel on credit. One of the men queried this knowing that `Abdullah had received 4,000 dirhams and a blanket the previous day. It was explained that before nightfall `Abdullah had distributed the money amongst the needy. He then took the blanket, threw it over his shoulder and headed home, but by the time he arrived even the blanket was gone, he had given it to a needy person.

After the death of the Prophet, the people faced great hardship due to drought. They came to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) asking him to provide them with enough to sustain them, but he was unable to help, the treasury was empty. Just at that time, the camel caravan belonging to `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) arrived from Damascus. It was filled with foodstuffs and other goods. The merchants gathered at `Uthman’s house offering him large amounts of money for the goods; however, he turned them down saying he was prepared only to give the goods to the one from whom he would receive the greatest reward. `Uthman gave all the goods to the starving people of Madinah and did not charge them. He knew that Allah would reward him with something far greater than money.

Even in the direst of circumstances, a true believer is the one who gives generously.

The people came to Prophet Muhammad and asked: “If someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” He said: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then, the people asked: “If he cannot do that?” He replied: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

And Allah says in the Qur’an that He will repay the generosity of a believer.

And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged. (Al-Baqarah 2:272)

Allah is the one who provides for us and He expects us to share generously. We are encouraged to be benevolent and unselfish with our possessions, with our time and with our exemplary behavior towards others.

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Source: Article by author titled (Generosity) published at The Religion of Islam web site islamreligion.com. Here taken form onislam.net.

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Six Tips to Boost New Muslims’ Faith After Shahadah


Number six

The moments leading up to the taking of the Shahadah exuberating.

As a convert to Islam, you can easily remember the moment that you discovered that Islam was the one and only true religion. The moment of realization is an intense whirlwind of emotions such as relief, joy, gratitude and peace.

The moments leading up to the taking of the Shahadah, or Islamic declaration of faith, are equally exuberating. You wear your best clothes, travel to the mosque and pronounce the testimony of faith: “Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan rasoolu Allah” (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger) in public for the very first time.

Afterwards, the Muslims at the mosque will offer their congratulations and so too will the Muslims in your community. Your new faith has lit up your heart and the sense of the Islamic nation surrounds you.

However, it is important to realize that the level of excitement you felt in taking the shahadah will likely fade away as you get back to living. It’s inevitable and it does not necessarily mean that you are a “bad” Muslim or have done anything wrong. The faith, ebbs and flows just like a babbling brook in the middle of a grassy meadow. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.” (Al-Hakim)

There are several reasons why our faith decreases. Everything from engaging in unlawful activities to committing major and minor sins takes a toll on our faith.

The good news is that there are several ways that you can maintain an optimum level of faith and enjoin the good while forbidding the evil.

Turn to God First

When you feel that your faith is weakening or that your heart is sick, turn to God in sincere du`aa’, or supplication. When a Muslim’s heart is filled with obedience, love and gratitude towards God, Satan increases his efforts to lead the faithful Muslim away from his Creator. He does so by means of waswas (insinuating whispers) that makes a Muslim question his faith, feel nervous about his choices or even causes him to forget to perform certain acts of worship such as the obligatory Prayers. You can fight off the whispers from the Shaytan by asking for Almighty’s refuge from it.

Another way is to increase your good deeds and increase other acts of worship. Perform dhikr (the remembrance of God), as often as you can and read the Qur’an on a daily basis. Spend in charity of what you are able, even if it is only a smile or a helping hand to someone who needs it. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone in suffering from weak faith. It can happen to any Muslim.

Follow the Five Pillars of Islam

God has given us the perfect prescription for joy and success in this world and the next. The first part of that prescription is the gift of the Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. The second part is the five pillars of Islam:

1- Shahadah – Testimony of Faith

2- Prayer

3- Zakah – annual alms for the poor.

4- Fasting in Ramadan

5- Hajj – Pilgrimage to Makkah

In architecture, pillars are used to stabilize a building and give it strength. So too do the five pillars of Islam give a Muslim strength. By following the five pillars of Islam, you create a sound foundation for your life as a Muslim. Just like a building with weak pillars threatens to topple over, not following the five pillars of Islam will have a similar effect on your faith.

As a new Muslim, in particular, it may take you some time to learn the pillars of Islam perfectly. However, you must hasten to arm yourself with proper Islamic reading materials that teach you how to perform each pillar in the correct way.

For example, there are dozens of Islamic books that painstakingly detail how to fast properly in Ramadan. There is no excuse for not increasing your Islamic knowledge especially in our digital age. Countless Islamic websites that adhere to the Qur’an and Sunnah are only a couple of mouse clicks away.

Ponder on God’s Creation

The beauty of the rose as its petals intertwine seamlessly, the brightness of the sun as it rises each dawn, the carefree laugh of an infant for the very first time – these are just a few of the signs of God that are evident in His creation. All you really have to do is open your eyes, look and reflect. God Almighty reveals in the Qur’an:

And on the earth are signs for those who have Faith with certainty. And also in your own selves. Will you not then see? (Adh-Dhariyat 51:20-1)

Let’s use the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Years before he received his mission as the Last Messenger, he would often contemplate the creation and reflect upon it.

Learn the Attributes of God

There are ninety-nine beautiful names of God and learning them perfectly is one of the keys to Paradise according to a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad:

“Indeed, Allah has 99 names (one hundred minus one); whoever memorizes them will enter Paradise.”
Some of the names are: Ar-Razzaq (The Ever Providing), Al-Sami` (The All Hearing) and Al-Ghafur (The All Forgiving). By learning the names and attributes of our Creator, we can better get to know our Lord. Try to learn at least three names a day along with the meaning. By the end of thirty-three days, you will have learned all ninety-nine.

Obedience and Free Will

There’s nothing to stop a Muslim from listening to the latest hit song on the radio or turning on the TV to tune into the latest drama or sitcom to come out of Hollywood. That is why humans possess free will.

However, as Muslims, we know that most music and most aspects of television are unlawful. The words woven into a song or the images of haram (unlawful) activities played out on TV have a direct effect on the human heart. It is a huge misconception if you believe that engaging in these wasteful activities won’t harm you. Not only will they cause harm, but also they will blacken the heart and cause your faith to wane. By obeying what God has decreed in the Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, in every aspect of life, all Muslims can reap the benefits of a faith that is unwavering and never flinches.

Enhance Your Faith

Remember that as a new Muslim you should also surround yourself with people who are going to enhance your faith and not harm it. Befriend a good Muslim, of the same gender, in your community or reach out to the Imam at your local mosque for more guidance and advice.

May God strengthen your faith and always guide you to His Straight Path. Ameen.

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Taken with slight modifications from Onislam.net


 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Showing Kindness to All Creatures

Commentary and Translation by Shazia Ahmad

Anyone who harms anything in existence is an aggressor against God's creation.

Anyone who harms anything in existence is an aggressor against God’s creation.

The historic Masjid al-Azhar (Azhar Mosque) in Cairo offers a number of classes and lectures to the public in the rooms that surround its famous courtyard. Along with the usual human attendees, it is also common to see cats seeking to enter through the mosque’s open doors and make their way inside. In this video of a lecture on hadith (prophetic narrations) by Sh. Usama Elsayed, a cat enters and makes himself comfortable in his class, prompting him to pause from the actual class material and share some anecdotes and lessons on showing kindness to cats and other animals.

 

Please note that this is not a literal or full translation, though it is intended to faithfully convey the ideas that were expressed. Words in brackets have been added for clarity. The translated portion begins at 1:40.

Al-Imam Shams ibn Tulun al-Hanafi, in his book al-Fulk al-Mashhun fi Ahwal al-Shams ibn Tulun, designated a special chapter for prophetic narrations related to cats, and called it Izhaar as-Sirr fi ma Warada fil-Hirr (‘Explanation of the Secrets Found in What has been Narrated About Cats’).

If a cat came close to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), he would lower his vessel to it so that it could drink, and he would say, “They are [creatures] that [live and] move about amongst you.”

Here at al-Azhar ash-Sharif, the great imam, Shaykh of Islam and scholar of the Malikis Abu al-Barakat Ahmad ad-Dardir was once teaching when a cat wandered between the rows of his students. One of the students pushed it away roughly. Imam ad-Dardir was deeply affected and saddened by this, and got up from his chair to bring the cat next to him. He took out some morsels from his own food and set it in front of the cat for it to eat, and held it in his lap.

From the next day on, whenever he entered the mosque to teach he would give the cat something to eat from his own food. More cats started to come, to the extent that after some time whenever Imam ad-Dardir entered al-Azhar Mosque more than two hundred cats would surround him and stay at his feet. May God have mercy on him.

Yet [we find] people saying (Muslims) are terrorists. We say that we seek to be kind to animals. The people of Islam—when the teachings of this great faith became deeply imbued in their hearts—did not fall short in giving animals their rights, nor in giving human beings their due rights.

On the contrary, their minds were occupied with concern about the rights of each and every creature. Because every single thing in this universe glorifies God; and therefore every single thing has certain rights and a certain sanctity, and it is upon us to build connections with them and deal with them in affection and kindness. To the extent that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The mountain of Uhud – it loves us and we love it.” And he said, “When the profligate servant of God dies, relief is given to the worshippers, the land, the trees and the animals.” Because the worshippers, the land, the trees, and the animals all suffer at the hands of the dissolute sinner.

Proof of this is in the words of God, “And the heavens and the earth wept not for them, nor were they given a respite.” (Ad-Dukhan 44:29)

This implies that when people of goodness and righteousness pass away, the heavens and the earth weep [and mourn their loss].

In the past we used to have masaqi (places with water designated for drinking) for dogs and other animals. In some of the major squares of Cairo one would find places with fresh water for passersby to drink. At a taller height was fresh, clean water for people to drink, and the excess water would flow down below [to a container] for large animals to drink (like horses etc). Below that would be a [container] for smaller animals like dogs [to drink from], and lower than that, almost at level with the ground, was water for cats.

A person used to be specifically designated to clean the drinking places of dogs, and was given a salary for that from the treasury or by endowment. There were assigned workers who would go around and clean such drinking places from whatever fell into it of leaves, dirt, etc. Here, at Masjid Muhammad al-Bik Abu ad-Dahab which faces al-Azhar, there is an endowment specifically designated for food to be placed in containers at the top of the minaret for birds to eat from. Because they have a right to food.

(…) [My teacher] Mufti Dr. Ali Jumu`ah taught us, when he was explaining the prophetic tradition about a woman who enters hellfire [for mistreating and starving] her cat, that the people of knowledge understand this text outside of its specifics. Imam al-Qarafi defines specifics as time, place, circumstance, and individual.

This text is not limited to women specifically. It mentions a woman who was punished, but does that necessarily imply that if a man harms an animal he will not be punished? Absolutely not. It would be the same whether [the action was committed by] man or woman, young or old. Anyone who mistreats a creature from the creatures of God will be punished. What is implied [by the text] is a teaching more generally applied to both men and women, to the extent that the word “human being” can be understood in place of “woman.”

Similarly, is such a punishment limited only to one who mistreats a cat, such that if someone mistreats a dog they would not be punished? No, they would in fact be punished whether they mistreat a cat or a dog or any other animal or creature of God.

[In the same vein,] is this ruling limited only to the one who mistreats animals? No, it would in fact extend to everything else in existence. Anyone who harms anything in existence is an aggressor against God’s creation.

The implications of this text help the believer understand—beyond this particular woman being punished for abusing a cat—that no human being should ever harm any other creature. No human being should harm any other creature.

If we went out and explained these teachings, and translated them for other civilizations, cultures, communities and peoples, [to people of varying] tongues and languages, we would be given the honor of being considered forerunners [in civilization]. This is because we not only call [beyond human rights] for the rights of animals, but we call for the rights of every object and thing in existence.

A Muslim understands that everything around him in creation has a due right upon him, and he or she is responsible before God to honor everything that exists—inanimate and animate, humans, plants, and animals.

There is neither power nor strength save by God – but [unfortunately in these matters] “most of the people do not know.” (Al-A`raf 7:187)

Watch the video:

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Source: www.suhaibwebb.com.

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The Truth Requires Patience

To acquire peace and tranquility through submitting yourself to the will of the One and Only God, the Creator of us, humans, and of the whole universe is the very meaning of Islam. Thus, to me Muslim is to to bear witness to the unique Oneness of God, worship Him alone following the teachings of His last Prophet (peace be upon him).

Islam in principle is a reference to the pure meaning of monotheism. This is the first logical basis to start from. And the prophets (peace be upon them) came as guidance to humans to show them how to live their life in accordance with the Will of God.

But today, after Prophets, and in a world full of temptations and contradictions, how could we determinedly stay away from Satan temptations and the evil things which are calling us day and night?

This is what the Qur’an warns us about in the words of God Himself:

Did I not enjoin on you, O you Children of Adam, that you should not worship Satan; for that he was to you an enemy avowed? (Ya-Sin 36:60)

To acquire this peace we need to get closer to God; to have deep and true faith in Him. And on the way to that we need patience.
So how could we acquire patience? And how would patience help protect us from Satan and evil?

Listen to Sheikh Ibrahim Zidan in this show as he talks about the definition of patience, the different types of patience, and how to maintain patience when calamity strikes.

Watch to know more.

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 Taken with kind permission from: thedeenshow.com.

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The Moral System of Islam

Whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam.

Whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam.

Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances. To achieve these rights, Islam provides not only legal safeguards, but also a very effective moral system.

Thus, whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society is morally good in Islam and whatever is injurious is morally bad. Islam attaches so much importance to the love of God and love of man that it warns against too much formalism. We read in the Qur’an:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the freeing of captives; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-conscious. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

We are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-conscious man in these verses. He should obey salutary regulations, but he should fix his gaze on the love of God and the love of his fellow-men.

We are given four directions:

a) Our faith should be true and sincere,

b) We must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity to our fellow-men,

c) We must be good citizens, supporting social organizations, and

d) Our own individual soul must be firm and unshaken in all circumstances.

This is the standard by which a particular mode of conduct is judged and classified as good or bad. This standard of judgment provides the nucleus around which the whole moral conduct should revolve. Before laying down any moral injunctions, Islam seeks to firmly implant in man’s heart the conviction that his dealings are with God, who sees him at all times and in all places; that he may hide himself form the whole world, but not from Him; that he may deceive everyone but cannot deceive God; that he can flee from the clutches of anyone else, but not from God’s.

Thus, by setting God’s pleasure as the objective of man’s life, Islam has furnished the highest possible standard of morality. This is bound to provide limitless avenues for the moral evolution of humanity.

By making divine revelations as the primary source of knowledge, it gives permanence and stability to the moral standards which afford reasonable scope for genuine adjustments, adaptations and innovations though not for perversions, wild variation, atomistic relativism or moral fluidity. It provides a sanction to morality in the love and fear of God, which will impel man to obey the moral law even without any external pressure. Through belief in God and the Day of Judgment, it furnishes a force which enables a person to adopt the moral conduct with earnestness and sincerity, with all the devotion of heart and soul.

It does not, through a false sense of originality and innovation, provide any novel moral virtues, nor does it seek to minimize the importance of the well-known moral norms, nor does it give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause.

Rather, it takes up all the commonly known moral virtues and with a sense of balance and proportion it assigns a suitable place and function to each one of them in the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of man’s individual and collective life – his domestic associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legal, educational, and social realms. It covers his life from home to society, from the dining-table to the battle-field and peace conferences, literally from the cradle to the grave. In short, no sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. It makes morality reign supreme and ensures that the affairs of life, instead of dominated by selfish desires and petty interests, should be regulated by norms of morality.

It stipulates for man a system of life that is based on all good and is free from all evil. It encourages the people not only to practice virtue, but also to establish virtue and eradicate vice, to bid good and to forbid wrong. It wants that their verdict of conscience should prevail and virtue must be subdued to play second fiddle to evil. Those who not respond to this call are gathered together into a community and given the name Muslim. And the singular object underlying the formation of this Ummah (community of Muslims) is that it should make an organized effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil.

Here we furnish some basic moral teachings of Islam for various aspects of a Muslim’s life. They cover the broad spectrum of personal moral conduct of a Muslim as well as his social responsibilities.

God-Consciousness

The Qur’an mentions this as the highest quality of a Muslim:

The most honorable among you in the sight of God is the one who is most God-conscious. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Humility, modesty, control of passions and desires, truthfulness, integrity, patience, steadfastness, and fulfilling one’s promises are moral values that are emphasized again and again in the Qur’an:

And God loves those who are firm and steadfast. (Aal `Imran 3:146)

And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer’s forgiveness and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which awaits the God-conscious, who spend for charity in time of plenty and in times of hardship, and restrain their anger, and pardon their fellow men, for God loves those who do good. (Aal `Imran 3:133-134)

Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong; and bear patiently whatever may befall you; for this is true constancy. And do not swell your cheek (with pride) at men, nor walk in insolence on the earth, for God does not love any man proud and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds, indeed, is the braying of the ass. (Luqman 31:18-19)

In a way which summarizes the moral behavior of a Muslim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“My Sustainer has given me nine commands: to remain conscious of God, whether in private or public; to speak justly, whether angry or pleased; to show moderation both when poor and when rich; to reunite friendship with those who have broken off with me; to give to him who refuses me; that my silence should be occupied with thought; that my looking should be an admonition; and that I should command what is right.”

Social Responsibility

The teachings of Islam concerning social responsibilities are based on kindness and consideration of others. Since a broad injunction to be kind is likely to be ignored in specific situations, Islam lays emphasis on specific acts of kindness and defines the responsibilities and rights within various relationships. In a widening circle of relationships, then, our first obligation is to our immediate family – parents, spouse, and children – and then to other relatives, neighbors, friends and acquaintances, orphans and widows, the needy of the community, our fellow Muslims, all fellow human beings, and animals.

Parents

Respect and care for parents is very much stressed in the Islamic teaching and is a very important part of a Muslim’s expression of faith.

Your Sustainer has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. whether one or both of them attain old age in your life time, do not say to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood. (Al-Israa’ 17:23-24)

Other Relatives

And render to the relatives their due rights, as (also) to those in need, and to the traveler; and do not squander your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift.(Al-Israa’ 17:26)

Neighbors

The Prophet has said: “He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbor beside him is hungry”, and: “He does not believe whose neighbors are not safe from his injurious conduct.” (Al-Bukhari)

Actually, according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, a Muslim has to discharge his moral responsibility not only to his parents, relatives and neighbors, but to the entire mankind, animals and trees and plants. For example, hunting of birds and animals for the sake of game is not permitted. Similarly, cutting down trees and plants which yield fruit is forbidden unless there is a pressing need for it.

Thus, on the basic moral characteristics, Islam builds a higher system of morality by virtue of which mankind can realize its greatest potential. Islam purifies the soul from self-seeking egotism, tyranny, wantonness and indiscipline. It creates God-conscious men, devoted to their ideals, possessed of piety, abstinence, discipline and uncompromising with falsehood. It induces feelings of moral responsibility and fosters the capacity for self-control.

Islam generates kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous fairness and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. It nourishes noble qualities from which only good may be expected.

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Source: islamweb.net

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam & Individual Responsibility

By Zahid Aziz

Each individual bears his or her own responsibility and is treated by God as a person in his or her own right.

Each individual bears his or her own responsibility and is treated by God as a person in his or her own right.

A profound way in which Islam has dignified the individual is by making him or her responsible for his or her own beliefs and actions. The Qur’an says:

No bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another. (Al-An`am 6:164)

Each individual bears his or her own responsibility and is treated by God as a person in his or her own right. The individual is not treated as just one member of a group, with no identity of his own. Even if you belong to a group or nation whose members are committing wrong, you are not held responsible for their misdeeds if as an individual you do not commit those wrongful acts.

Likewise, if you are a wrong-doer you cannot escape responsibility for your actions by claiming to belong to a group of good and righteous people, and no one, however good and holy, can volunteer to bear your responsibility upon his shoulders. This principle means that each one of us matters as an individual.

Blind Following

Blind following of leaders is also condemned in the Qur’an. It says that if a wrong-doer puts forward in his defense the plea that he was only following and obeying orders, that is not an acceptable defense. Although the leaders do bear responsibility for misleading their followers, nonetheless each individual is expected to use his own sense and reason, to the extent of his capacity.

Similarly, blind following of one’s ancestors and of inherited beliefs and values is condemned by the Qur’an. It teaches that you should apply sense and reason to test whether your inherited beliefs are right or not. Again, these teachings of the Qur’an dignify the position of the individual because he is told not to blindly follow his leaders or forefathers.

Group Following

Another principle the Qur’an teaches is that an individual must not join in acts of wrong-doing with his community or his fellow-countrymen or brethren-in-faith. It says:

Help one another in righteousness and goodness, and help not one another in sin and aggression. (Al-Ma’idah 5:2)

It is not befitting a human being that he should just follow the crowd, even the crowd of his own people, without thinking about the right or the wrong of the matter. Rather, the individual should stand up for the right, even against his own people.

Principle of Consultation

In making decisions in the nation or the community, the Qur’an has taught the principle of consultation. It says that the affairs of the Muslims must be decided by consul among themselves.

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation… (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed to consult his followers, “so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs.” (Aal `Imran 3:159), and he was given this revelation when a decision about a battle which had been made on the basis of majority opinion had proved to be wrong.

The Prophet and some of his followers had been in favour of one course of action but the majority had been in favour of another course of action. The majority view was followed but it nearly led to disaster. Nonetheless Allah revealed to the Prophet to pardon his followers, and still consult them in decision-making as before.

The process of consultation dignifies the individual because each person has his or her view taken into account, while autocratic rule degrades the individual because one man’s opinion is supreme.

Value of the Least Individual

I will mention now two incidents recorded in the Qur’an which show the value attached to the most ordinary individual. In the early days of his mission, Prophet Muhammad was once explaining Islam to some chiefs of his tribe when a blind man came to him and interrupted him with a question. The Prophet frowned and turned away from him, as he was addressing important men. God then sent revelation to the Prophet, which is contained in the eightieth chapter of the Qur’an, expressing disapproval and telling him that may be it would be the blind man who would have benefitted from his teaching.

The revelation told him that those chiefs whom the Prophet was addressing did not even consider that they had any need to follow Islam, but the blind man had made the effort to come to him and was God-fearing. The blind man, according to the revelation, was more deserving of the Holy Prophet’s attention than the assembly of the chiefs of the tribe of Quraish. This shows how much an individual, even the most insignificant individual, is valued.

The other incident is of a woman who complained to the Prophet that her husband, following an Arab custom known as zihar, had broken off all relations with her but still she was not free to leave him. According to that custom, a man would place his wife in a state where she lost her position as wife but was not divorced from him either.

The woman pleaded with the Prophet to do something, but he was reluctant to interfere without a revelation. God then revealed to the Prophet, saying that He had heard the plea of the woman, and that He condemned husbands who indulged in that custom and prescribed a punishment of community service for any man maltreating his wife in that way.

Allah has heard the saying of her that disputes with you (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complains unto Allah. And Allah hears your colloquy. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower. (Al-Mujadilah 58:1)

The complaint of an ordinary woman was heard by God Himself and He sent revelation in her favour to His Prophet.

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Source: muslim.org

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Practical Ways to Acquiring Knowledge about Islam

By Abu Umar

Arabic callegraphy

Remain consistent in seeking knowledge even by just a little bit on a regular basis and Allah will increase your love for knowledge.

 

Thanks to God, we have been informed, by many sources, about the importance of seeking knowledge and knowing more about our beautiful deen (religion).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could sit down and dedicate ourselves fully to acquiring knowledge about Islam so we can reap some of the vast benefits that can be achieved?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

We know we have to seek knowledge, but how exactly do we do it? The majority of us just don’t have the time to dedicate ourselves to seeking knowledge (or so it seems). Therefore, we have compiled a few tips to help you acquire knowledge about our beautiful religion.

1. Time management

This is a classic and common theme for productive Muslims but it’s used often because it is so ‘effective’! This involves firstly looking at your schedule to determine where you can allocate time for seeking knowledge.

For example, it may be that on Saturday afternoons you have a few hours free. If this is the case, then fill that time by attending a course, listening to a lecture or two, spending time with a knowledgeable person of Islam, etc. If you simply ‘go with the flow’ and ‘see what  happens’ then it’s very likely that seeking knowledge will be pushed to the side and you will find it difficult to make any progress with this.

Therefore, planning is very important (just as is the case with other activities in life). As they commonly say in the business world, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.

A point to remember: If you have free time, the Satan will be more than happy to fill that time with something frivolous. So, it’s better you fill your time with something beneficial before Satan gets a chance to distract you.

If you have many responsibilities and are struggling to find time, then it’s a good idea to look at your weekly schedule, scrutinize it and be honest with yourself. For example, if you use up a whole day for shopping and socializing and find no energy to do anything else later, then the day is not likely to be a productive one. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need so much time for this activity?’ After cleaning up your schedule with this exercise, you should find free time to utilize for seeking knowledge.

Furthermore, we can take a look at the life of the Prophet who is the greatest example for us including in time management. This can be seen from how he allocated time to his wives, children, grandchildren, friends being a general and fighting in the way of Allah (Exalted be He), giving da`wah, managing the different Islamic states, etc. Despite these many responsibilities and more, he was the best in every aspect of his life and was able to give his full attention and never neglected any of his duties.

2. Invest in a CD or Other Electronic Device

This is a very practical method of increasing your knowledge about the religion with little effort. ‘Other electronic device’ can be an mp3 player or your mobile phone that allows you to download lectures and programs that you can listen to on the go. This is very useful for those who have little time available. Invest in some earphones if you don’t have any already. This also helps with your time management as you look to free up some time. For example, if you travel to work/university, read Commuting Productive Muslim Style for tips.

There are also many reliable websites that offer download services so take advantage of those. If you’re not able to find any then resort to YouTube and use a Youtube converter download files. Things that you can look to download are inspirational lectures, history stories like The Great Men and Women of Islam and even a series of a particular topic. Look for a beautiful recitation of the Qur’an to listen to regularly. This should increase your love for the Qur’an, help correct your recitation of Qur’an and help prevent us from sin. Peace and contentment is one of the greatest blessings we can receive through the recitation of the Qur’an.

3. Pick out a Small Area to Focus on

This means focusing on the one part you are seeking knowledge of and not trying to master all the different topics on Islam. This will be especially important if you’ve just set foot on the path of knowledge. Islam really is like an ocean that has no depths and knows no boundaries. Therefore, take your time and take small, baby steps if you are a beginner, as you could find trying to understand lots of different information overwhelming and this may cause you to give up. Thus, remain consistent in seeking knowledge even by just a little bit on a regular basis and Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) will increase your love for knowledge, His religion and you will be of those that are loved by Him and the angels. This is supported by a hadith narrated by `A’ishah (may God be pleased with her):

“The Prophet was asked: “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said: “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few”. He added: “Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability”. (Al-Bukhari)

Therefore, keep at it and don’t give up.

4. Stay Connected with the Muslim World

This entails signing up to different websites/media that can give you regular emails and advice, for example Productivemuslim.com. You may also receive information from a regular service such as a hadith for the day, a Qur’an verse of the day, dhikr or an interesting fact about Islam which you didn’t know before.

This is useful as you can quickly and easily access your emails anywhere these days with the latest technology. Now your lunch break and travel time can be used for valuable knowledge seeking. The benefits from this are that it allows you to keep yourself close to Islam through hearing and seeing it in different media and thus Allah will never be far from your mind. This is especially important for those of us not living in an Islamic society.

Furthermore, this point can also be applied to life offline. This means ensuring you’re with good company and those that are likely to remind you of Islam. This can be done informally when you see your friend eating with three fingers only. If he is a righteous companion, he will relate to you that is a Sunnah.

I saw the Messenger of Allah eating with three fingers (i.e., the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger) and licking them after having finished the food. (Muslim)

5. Dedicate a Specific Time for Acquiring Knowledge

This can be done daily or a few selected days in the week, depending on your schedule e.g. the weekend. However, be realistic about how much time you can give but try to ensure you are constant with this. If you’re a beginner with seeking knowledge then it’s a good idea to start with about 15-30 minutes and build yourself up from there.

Seeking knowledge will take a variety of forms so you may prefer to listen to a lecture for a little while or alternatively read a book but try to have this fixed in a routine. A practical way of carrying this out is reading a book aloud in group. The first person can read for about 10 minutes before letting someone else have a go. This method of gaining knowledge offers many benefits for the household; not only does it create unity and strengthen relations between family members. It also prevents you from feeling alone in seeking knowledge. If you are seeking knowledge with others, you can feed off their energy when your own motivation level dips.

6. Pick an Entertaining Topic to Start with

This is particularly aimed at those who are starting to seek knowledge. This is to help you find enjoyment in seeking knowledge and keep you interested in learning about Islam.

Personally, I find learning about the prophets entertaining and beneficial. Not only will you learn about the miracles that they experienced, you will also learn about the great abilities and attributes God gave His different prophets i.e. the great size of Prophet Adam  (peace be upon him), the way Prophet Ibrahim  (peace be upon him) was saved from the heat of the fire he was thrown into, etc. From this, we hope Allah will give us a thirst for knowledge which brings us closer to Him and Islam.

Children’s story books are small and informative with many colours and pictures. They are designed this way, on purpose, to attract readers and to help retain their interest; so this may also be a useful place to start (if you don’t find them too childlike).

7. Keep on Making Du`aa’ to God to Help You Achieve this Objective

This is vital for the believer in every aspect of his life. Subsequently, it is important you keep on making du`aa (supplication) to Allah that He helps you to seek knowledge, understand it correctly, retain that knowledge (whether you have a weak memory or not) as well as make the path of knowledge easy for you. This will be significant as without the help and will of Allah you will not be able to achieve anything. For those blessed to be on the path of knowledge already, always thank Him for what He has allowed you to do.

Also, try to be specific and honest in your du’aa; for example you may not have a desire for seeking knowledge. If this is the case then call on Allah by His beautiful names and attributes to remove your block and to bless you with an enthusiasm for seeking knowledge. A du`aa you can constantly recite to help with this is:

‘O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men’.

Another du`aa’ which will offer great benefit is:

’Rabbi Zidni `Ilma‘ (‘O my Lord! Increase me in Knowledge’).

These are just a few techniques that can allow us to productively seek knowledge. There are many alternatives to obtaining knowledge, which include: sitting in the circles of knowledge, enrolling into a course, etc. but not all of us have the capacity to do this. I hope from these points mentioned, you’ve gained a better idea on how to bring this noble task of seeking knowledge into your life. May give us the blessing to walk on the path of knowledge and stay on that path until we meet Him.

Ameen.

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Source: productivemuslim.com

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