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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Prophet Abraham & the Trial of Faith: Doubt & Trust

What trials did Prophet Abraham and his family go through? How did they come out of them? What is the difference between the Qur’anic and biblical accounts of the story?

Prophet Abraham & the Trial of Faith

Beyond his human grief, Abraham develops a relationship with God based on faithfulness, reconciliation, peace, and trust.

There are simple facts alone illustrate the remarkable bond linking Muhammad’s life to Abraham’s (peace be upon them). Yet it is the spiritual lineage that even more dearly reveals the exceptional nature of this bond.

The whole Abrahamic experience unveils the essential dimension of faith in the One. Abraham, who is already very old and has only recently been blessed with a child, must undergo the trial of separation and abandonment, which will take Hagar and their child, Ishmael, very close to death.

Doubt & Trust

His faith is trust in God: he hears God’s command-as does Hagar-and he answers it despite his suffering, never ceasing to invoke God and rely on Him.

Hagar questioned Abraham about the reasons for such behavior; finding it was God’s command, she willingly submitted to it. She asked, then trusted, then accepted, and by doing so she traced the steps of the profound ‘active acceptance’ of God’s will: to question with one’s mind, to understand with one’s intelligence, and to submit with one’s heart.

In the course of those trials, beyond his human grief and in fact through the very nature of that grief, Abraham develops a relationship with God based on faithfulness, reconciliation, peace, and trust. God tries him but is always speaking to him, inspiring him and strewing his path with signs that calm and reassure him.

Several years after this abandonment in the desert. Abraham was to experience another trial: God asked him to sacrifice his first-born son, Ishmael.

Abraham in the Qur’an

The Islamic tradition is that God asks Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael; in the Bible, the tradition is that Abraham is asked to sacrifice his second son, Isaac.

This is how the Qur’an recounts the story:

So We gave him (Abraham) the good news: the birth of a sweet-tempered son. Then, when (the son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “0 my son! I have seen in a dream that I offer you in sacrifice. Now see what you think!” (The son) said: “0 my father! Do as you are commanded; you will find me, if God so wills, one of the steadfast” So when they had both submitted (to God), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead, We called out to him: “0 Abraham! You have already fulfilled the dream!- thus indeed do We reward those who do right. For this was a clear trial.” And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left for him among generations (to come) in later times: peace and salutation to Abraham! (As-Saffat 37:101-109 )

The trial is a terrible one: for the sake of his love and faith in God, Abraham must sacrifice his son, despite his fatherly love. The trial of faith is here expressed in this tension between the two loves.

Abraham confides in Ishmael, and it is his own son, the object of sacrifice, whose comforting words to his father are like a confirming sign: “0 my father! Do as you are commanded; you will find me, if God so wills, one of the steadfast.”

As was the case a few years earlier with Hagar, Abraham finds in others signs that enable him to face the trial. Such signs, expressing the presence of the divine at the heart of the trial, have an essential role in the experience of faith and shape the mode of being with oneself and with God.

When God causes His messenger to undergo a terrible trial and at the same time associates that trial with signs of His presence and support (the confirming words of his wife or child, a vision, a dream, an inspiration, etc.), He educates Abraham in faith: Abraham doubts himself and his own strength and faith, but at the same time the signs prevent him from doubting God. This teaches Abraham humility and recognition of the Creator.

Then Abraham is tempted by deep doubt about himself, his faith, and the truth of what he hears and understands, the inspirations and confirmations of Hagar and Ishmael (whom he loves but sacrifices in the name of divine love) enable him not to doubt God, His presence, and His goodness. Doubt about self is thus allied to deep trust in God.

In the Bible

Indeed, trials of faith are never tragic in Islamic tradition, and in this sense, the Qur’an’s story of Abraham is basically different from me Bible’s when it comes to the experience of sacrifice. One can read in Genesis:

After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” (God) said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” …

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and me knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” (Isaac) said. “Behold me fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God Himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Genesis, 22:1- 2 and 6-8)

Abraham must sacrifice his son, and here he experiences this trial in absolute solitude. To his son’s direct question, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answers elliptically. He alone answers God’s call.

This difference between the two accounts may seem slight, yet it has essential consequences for the very perception of faith, for me trial of faith, and for human beings’ relation to God .

_________________________

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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New Muslims Reflections

First Conversions to Islam: Lessons on Steadfastness

With steadfastness and forbearance, the Prophet had gathered around him a solid core of trustworthy women and men. How exactly did he build up this community?

steadfastness

From the beginning, the Prophet had given priority to quality over quantity.

After recovering from the distress caused by the initial experience of Revelation, and as he began to receive the subsequent Revelations, the Prophet began to share the message with those closest to him.

He had not yet received instructions on how to present the message to his people, but he anticipated fierce opposition, as had been foretold by Waraqah ibn Nawfal.

The First Conversions

After Khadijah, his wife and the first convert to Islam, the circle of those who accepted the message was to widen to include members of his close family, then his friends. `Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was the young cousin in his charge; Zayd, his adopted son; Urn Ayman, the nursemaid who had cared for him after he returned to Mecca at age four; and his lifelong friend Abu Bakr were thus among the first to recognize the truth of the message and to pronounce the profession of faith (Ash-Shahadah) expressing their adherence to Islam:

“I bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His Messenger.”

The number of converts slowly grew as a result of the Prophet’s own discreet preaching and the very determined involvement of Abu Bakr, who was always ready to speak about the new faith and take action for its sake: he would buy slaves from their masters and set them free in the name of Islam’s principles stressing the equality of all human beings.

During those years, Muhammad’s presence in Mecca, his action, and his example were to attract a large number of women and men who were gradually to embrace the new faith.

The number of conversions nevertheless remained small during the first few months. Tradition reports that during the first three years, only thirty to forty Quraysh became Muslims. They would meet with the Prophet at the home of one of the converts, Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam, and learn the basics of their religion while new Revelations kept arriving.

True Believers

The surrounding atmosphere was becoming more and more hostile as the inhabitants of Mecca learned about the essentials of this new message and took stock of its impact on the poor and the young.

The Prophet, aware of those upheavals and of the dangers ahead, decided to concentrate on discreetly giving a solid education to a small group, who he knew would face criticism, rejection, and most probably exclusion.

It was this very group who were later, thanks to the quality of their spiritual education and the sincerity of their involvement, to remain steadfast in the face of difficulties and persecution.

From the beginning, the Prophet had given priority to quality over quantity, and preferred to concern himself with the nature of the hearts and minds he addressed than their number.

For three years, he quietly built up the first community of believers, whose particular feature was that it gathered, without distinction, women and men of all clans and all social categories (although the bulk were young or poor).

The Public Call

After those years, Muhammad (peace be upon him) received a Revelation enjoining him to make his call public:

And admonish your nearest kinsmen. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:214)

The Prophet understood that he now had to convey his message to the members of the clans to which he was linked by kinship ties. He began to call them to Islam. One day, he climbed up Mount As-Safa and called the tribal chiefs one by one.

Thinking he had an urgent or important announcement to make, they gathered at the foot of the hill to listen to him. From where they stood, they could not look into the valley, whereas Muhammad was facing it. He called out to them:

”If I warned you that down in this valley, armed horsemen are closing in to attack you, would you believe me?” They answered, almost with one voice: “Certainly- you are trustworthy and we have never heard you tell lies!”

The Prophet then went on:

“Well, I am here to forewarn you of violent torments! God has ordered me to admonish my nearest kinsmen. I have no power to protect you from anything in this life, nor to grant you blessings in the life to come, unless you believe in the Oneness of God.”

He added: “My position is like that of he who sees the enemy and runs to his people to warn them before they are taken by surprise, shouting as he runs: ‘Beware! Beware!’” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah)

His uncle Abu Lahab’s response was immediate and scathing: “Woe to you (taban laka)! Is this why you have gathered us?” He turned away instantly, taking the assembled chiefs with him: he was thus to come to epitomize those who rejected Muhammad’s message and opposed him most fiercely.

Because of this status, the Quran answered him in a later Revelation, using the same formula with the additional aesthetic power of assonance and consonance in the Arabic words: Tabat yada Abi Lahabin watab” (let the hands of Abu Lahab perish, let him perish). (Al-Masad 111:1)

Steadfastness

Later on, When the Prophet organized two meals to present the same message, the first was a failure because Abu Lahab again intervened to prevent his nephew from speaking.

During the second meal, Muhammad was able to convey the substance of his message, which was heard and secretly accepted by some members of the clans he had invited.

His kinsmen and the tribe’s elders had reacted in a rather cold and distant manner because they understood that the nature of Muhammad’s message threatened the age-old balance in their society. Both their gods and their power could be challenged, and the danger was serious.

Muhammad continued to speak to his kinsfolk until he received another Revelation ordering a forthright, determined attitude:

Therefore expound openly what you are commanded, and turn away from those who join false gods with God. (Al-Hijr 15:94)

The prophetic mission was entering a new phase. Now the message was addressed to all and required a clear-cut distinction between tawheed, faith in one God, and the polytheism of the Quraysh.

The Prophet had gathered around him a solid core of trustworthy women and men; some were his relatives, bur many came from different social categories and tribes, and he had been providing them spiritual and religious education for the previous three years.

With steadfastness and forbearance, they were to face rejection, persecution, and exclusion in a Meccan society that was beginning to split apart.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from the author’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

Islam: A Call for Moderateness

By Editorial Staff

Islam A Call for Moderateness

In Islam, even commands and prohibits are moderate; A Muslim is not charged except with that within its capacity.

Moderateness is one of the characteristics with which Islam is distinguished more than the other faiths. Therefore, God has set up the Muslim community as a witness over all other communities. God says:

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

Moderateness of Islam

The moderateness of Islam is reflected in its moderate teachings which are halfway between permissiveness and restrictiveness. In the Qur’an, God says:

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and (thereby) become blamed and insolvent. (Al-Israa’ 17:29)

The moderateness of Islam is also represented by its moderate commands and prohibitions. A Muslim is not charged except with that within its capacity. God says:

God does not charge a soul except (with that within) its capacity. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

God also says:

We do not charge any soul except (with that within) its capacity. (Al-An`am 6:152)

God further says:

No person is charged with more than his capacity. (Al-Baqarah 2:233)

The Muslim’s condition – either richness or poorness – is always taken into consideration when it comes to financial liabilities:

There is no blame upon you if you divorce women you have not touched nor specified for them an obligation. But give them [a gift of] compensation – the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability – a provision according to what is acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good. (Al-Baqarah 2:236)

God also says:

Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what God has given him. God does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. God will bring about, after hardship, ease. (At-Talaq 65:7)

`Imran ibn Husain (may God be pleased with him) reported: “I had piles, so I asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about prayer. He said, ‘Pray while standing and if you can’t, pray while sitting and if you cannot do even that, then pray lying on your side.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad used to command bearable acts of worship and prohibit unbearable ones. `Aishah (may God be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet came in to her and there was a woman with her. He said: “Who is this?” She said: “So-and-so, and she does not sleep.” And she told him about how she prayed a great deal. He said: “Stop praising her. You should do what you can, for by God, God never gets tired (of giving reward) until you get tired. And the most beloved of religious actions to Him is that in which a person persists.” (An-Nasa’i)

Anas ibn Malik (may God be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet saw an old man walking, supported by his two sons, and asked about him. The people informed him that he had vowed to go on foot (to the Ka`bah). He said, ‘God is not in need of this old man’s torturing himself,’ and ordered him to ride.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Anas bin Malik also reported that a group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (God), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer prayer throughout night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from women and will not marry forever.” The Messenger of God then came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By God, I am more submissive to God and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion is not from me (not one of my followers).” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas (may God be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of God forbade `Uthman bin Maz`oun (may God be pleased with him) to abstain from marrying and if he had allowed him, we would have gotten ourselves castrated. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad used to prohibit extremism and fanaticism. `Aishah (may God be pleased with him) reported that Prophet Muhammad did something as it was allowed from the religious point of view but some people refrained from it. When the Prophet heard of that, he, after glorifying and praising God, said, “Why do some people refrain from doing something which I do? By God, I know God more than they do and I fear God more than they do.” (Al-Bukhari)

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam and the True Meaning of Moderation

What is the meaning of moderation in Islam? How could the Muslim be moderate?

True Meaning of Moderation

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”.  (Al-Bukhari)

In so many other hadiths, besides the one above, the Prophet warns against the dangers of fanatical beliefs and behaviors and to implement the moderate Islamic values in all aspects of life.

Still, how can somebody be too religious, and, more precisely, too Islamic?

What does Islam say about moderation and going to extremes in religion? What is the solution to tackle extremism?

In the video below Sheikh Yasir Qadhi answers these questions, and defines the true meaning of moderation in Islam and how to avoid extremism and its traps…

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Muslims: The True Moderate Nation

Why are we (Muslims) called a moderate nation? What are the manifestations of the moderation of Islam?

God says:

moderate

In sight of Islam’s moderation, what kind of life does the religion give to man?

We have made you (true Muslims) a moderate nation so that you could be an example for all people and the Prophet an example for you. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)

What is meant by “moderate” here?

What are the manifestations of the moderation of Islam? Why are we (Muslims) called a “moderate” nation, and the religion is called a ‘moderate’ religion?

Between the two extremes: rationalizing everything – I must understand to believe – and having complete blind faith, where does Islam stand?

How does Islam combine the middle path between these two extremes?

True Moderate

Between religion and daily life, spirituality and rituals, between this world and the hereafter, work and life, pleasures of this life and rewards of the Hereafter, between needs of the body and needs of the soul, between mysticism and rationalism, where does Islam stand?

About the status, role, rights and duties of men and these of women, what does Islam say? How are they different and how are they seen?

In sight of Islam’s moderation, what kind of life does the religion give to man?

What does the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) seerah (biography) tell about such moderation? How does his character and teachings strike the balance between mercy and strictness?

Answers to such critical questions and other more are answered by Dr. Yasir Qadhi in that compelling talk…

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

EDC Wins 3rd Prize in Al-Aluka Competition on Moderation

In the competition launched by Alukah network, and supervised by E-Da`wah Association under the theme “Our Balanced Moderate Life”, the E-Da`wah Committee (EDC) came in third, Jamal Ash-Shatti, Consultant at Islam Presentation Committee (IPC) affiliated to Al-Najat Charity Society, announced.

EDC

Through the website (WWW.NEW-MUSLIMS.INFO), E-Da`wah Committee gained third position in the contest as one of the remarkable online resources presenting and promoting moderation as an authentic Islamic approach in multiple international languages.

Under the theme “Our Balanced Moderate Life” and through an effective coordination of efforts to introduce the moderate message of Islam, a wide range of articles, videos and editorials were published discussing Islamic values and how Islam is the religion of moderation. Of these material are the following:

  • Islam: A Call for Moderateness
  • Islam and the True Meaning of Moderation
  • Moderation: An Islamic Way of Life
  • Moderation in the Light of the Qur’an
  • Moderation in the Light of the Sunnah
  • Moderation: Your Way to Self-Development
  • Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation
  • Muslims: The True Moderate Nation
  • Prophet’s Moderation in Correcting People’s Mistakes

Hard Work

As a unique information content presenting and promoting Islamic values in some 12 languages, the New Muslims website has generated considerable praise and admiration in the competition.

“Not by chance we won this prize. It is the result of hard work and dedication,” Al-Shatti added.

“On all occasions inside and outside Kuwait, our informative and interactive content-rich websites have remarkable and impressive records, and today’s award is another step on the road to success, which adds to our long record of achievements”, Al-Shatti clarified.

“Since we began our online da`wah and academic work and over the course of four years, we’ve had remarkable achievements”, Al-Shatti added.

“It was not easy winning this competition. We have done something great with the dedication and hard work of the Editorial Board who over the last few months directed their efforts toward introducing the principle of “moderation” as an basic characteristic of Islam in efforts to presenting the true image of Islam and its message in general with distinguished video and visual  materials.”

History of Success

Starting from the first year of its existence the E-Da`wah Committee won Shaikh Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah Informatics Award 2010.

Continuing ahead, in Kuwait E-Awards for 2012, organized by Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, the IPC website, www.ipc.org.kw won the first award in the Electronic Content field, while Electronic Da`wah Committee came second in Electronic Education category for its ‘Da`wah Skills’ website,www.dawahSdkills.com , and third for its ‘Learn to Pray’ DVD app in both English and Arabic.

In the same award for 2015, the the E-Da`wah Committee won the first place with The Comprehensive Muslim e-Library, www.muslim-library.com , run by skillful and qualified editorial board.

For their contribution in enriching local electronic content, the websites were recommended as official Kuwaiti candidate to compete in an international competition.

We’re not just listing the awards, it’s what we did to win them.

EDC Contribution to Kuwait

Praising the EDC for winning the prize, Al-Shatti clarified that the prize “reflects the status and role of Kuwait in the cultural field and development on Islamic, regional and international levels”.

“It is not strange for Kuwait with its pivotal role in the pursuit of knowledge and promotion of science, and its interest in encouraging excellence and creativity under Islam and its values”, he said.

“The EDC victory is a good indicator for our country’s increasing role in enriching the Islamic and cultural life. And in our turn we contribute this heritage to Kuwait which has been selected as the capital of Islamic culture this year.”

“I congratulate E-Da`wah Committee for their hard organized work and their distinguished achievements. So thank you and keep up the great work.”

All thanks to Allah that by His grace we’ve achieved that success.

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His Character New Muslims

Why Prophet Muhammad Exists in My Life

 

sun rays

No leader won his enemies to his cause through his noble character and magnanimity like he did.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has touched my heart like no other personality or hero in the world. I have had life long association with his life, his words, actions and behaviour; yet no day in my life passes without my love for the Prophet increasing. Let me explain the reasons:

1- The Prophet is my source of inspiration for my connection with Allah. I find myself closer to Allah as I awake to his words, “thank you Allah for your gift of life; health, and remembrance.”

He keeps me company, prodding me to take God’s name as I do my daily chores, bathroom rituals, ablutions, sneezing, yawning; as I take my breakfast, and as I chat with my family; and when I step out of my home; as I enter the mosque, and wait for prayer; and as I converse with people; he keeps reminding me how to be conscious of Allah; to smile; to be gentle; to show mercy to the young; to respect the old; to greet everyone; to walk humbly; to render tender care to all God’s creatures, big and small.

2- As I accomplish my tasks, and cherish the satisfaction of my achievement, I am reminded never to allow myself to slip into a feeling of vainglory, for the Prophet’s utter humility in his peak moment of victory as Makkah fell to his hands can never be forgotten.

3- How can I ever forget his hundreds of Companions, upon whom he had impressed the deepest love – so that their source of joy at the final moment of their life was they would have the chance to be reunited with their beloved.

How can the spectacle of Bilal’s death be out of my mind as he comforts his wife who cried to see her husband was dying, “honey, it is time to rejoice, for I will soon be reunited with my beloved Muhammad and his company.”

4- I wonder what charisma he possessed as the hundreds of men and women would only refer to him as the beloved, and they all give the impression that no matter how eloquent they were, their words cannot fully describe his magnanimity, his nobility of character, and benevolence.

5- To those who simply call him a conqueror or warrior, I can only point to the casualties of his wars. History does not record a warrior who won so many battles with so little bloodshed as he did. To those who say otherwise, listen well to his admonition to his soldiers before battle, “stay away from the habitat of animals”; “God admonished a prophet saying, “Because an ant stung you, are you to burn down an entire community that glorifies God?”

6- I find no leader who won his enemies to his cause through his noble character and magnanimity like he did. Their number and affiliations vary: chiefs of tribes, kings, commanders, orators, men and women of all types and ages: their enmity turned into passionate love for him and his cause – as if through a miracle.

7- The Prophet’s spiritual retreats, and his solitary moments of prayers and meditations as he slipped out of his bed at night, to be alone with the Alone, and then when distracted by his wife, saying to her, “let me be alone with my Lord”; the spectacle of his tears often soaking the blanket can never be erased from my mind. His constancy in celebrating God’s remembrance led his beloved wife to remark, “the Prophet was always celebrating the remembrance of Allah”.

8- To those who deify the Prophet and thus try to dilute his monotheistic faith, making it no different from a pagan cult, I can only remind them of his relentless efforts to remind men and women, young and old, of his mortal nature; his repeated assertions to the people that he was merely a simple slave of God; his rejection of their attributing knowledge of the unseen realities or what tomorrow will bring.

9- In spite of all these, when I hear people refer to him as a worldly leader, I find myself asking, which worldly leader had no cooking fire kindled for days at home, due to chosen poverty? Which worldly leader survived on dates, water and occasional cups of milk, preferring to part with everything he had, in order to provide for the poor? Wasn’t he the one who prayed, “Lord, let me live poor; die poor and be resurrected in the company of the poor?”

10- As I deal with the humblest creatures of God, I cannot take out of my mind his constant reminders to Muslims, “you are only fed and given water by God because of the weak among you”, and, “the best Muslim home is where an orphan is cared for”; and, “be conscious of Allah in the way you treat these mute creatures of Allah”.

Didn’t he teach his followers that God forgave a prostitute for giving water to a thirsty dog, thereby making constancy in mercy a trait of every person of faith?

11- I can only conclude this by saying: O Messenger of Allah, you are indeed my role model, for you taught me to find meaning and purpose in my life. My only prayer to God is to make me a worthy follower of yours – even as my parents chose your name for me. May Allah shower upon you, O Messenger of mercy, choicest blessings, and give us the honor of joining your noble company in the hereafter. Ameen.

_________________________

Source: askthescholar.com

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His Life New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: A Gentle Father and a Merciful Human

dawn light

The first Muslims’ generosity and open-handedness were plain for all to see.

The Prophet’s daughter Zaynab had been married to Abu Al-`Aas, who had not accepted Islam. She had initially stayed with him in Makkah, until the Prophet asked her to join him in Medinah with her small daughter Umamah. Zaynab deeply loved her husband, but their different life choices had eventually caused them to part. However, neither of them had remarried.

A few months after the Battle of the Trench, the Prophet sent an expedition to stop a rich Quraysh caravan coming from the north. Zayd, who commanded the Muslim horsemen, seized the caravan’s goods and captured most of the men, while others managed to get away. Among the latter was Abu Al-`Aas, who decided on his journey back to Makkah to stop at Madinah and pay a secret visit to his wife and daughter.

This in itself was madness, but his desire to see his wife and child was stronger than his awareness of the risks incurred. He knocked on his wife’s door in the dead of night, and Zaynab let him in. He stayed with her, and when dawn drew near, she went to the mosque for prayer as she usually did. She entered the mosque and stood in the first line of women, just behind the men. Then the Prophet said the formula announcing the beginning of prayer, she took advantage of the short pause to exclaim in a very loud voice: “0 you people! I grant my protection to Abu Al-`Aas, son of Rabi`!”

Gentleness & Respect

When prayer was over, the Prophet, who had had no prior knowledge of what had happened between his daughter and her husband, had the audience confirm that they had heard the proclamation as well. He insisted that the protection granted- whether by his daughter or by any other ordinary Muslim- must be respected.

He then went to his daughter, who told him about the situation facing Abu Al-`Aas, whose goods had all been taken during the recent expedition in the north and who was therefore in debt, for the said goods had been entrusted to him by people in Makkah.

Prophet Muhammad suggested that the people who had those goads in their possession might give them back to Abu Al-`Aas if they wished to, and all of them complied. Some Companions advised Abu Al-`Aas to convert to Islam and keep those belongings for himself. He refused, saying that becoming a Muslim and beginning by betraying people’s trust would not have been suitable. He took all the goods, went back to Makkah, and gave each owner his due. He then came back to Madinah, converted to Islam, and was reunited with Zaynab and their daughter Umamah.

nature gentleness

There was always gentleness and dignity in his behavior toward women, whom he listened to, and whose rights he acknowledged, protected, and promoted.

Status of Women

Thus, the first Muslims’ generosity and open-handedness were plain for all to see. like the Prophet, they had required nothing of Abu Al-`Aas: he was not a Muslim, he belonged to an enemy clan, and he refused to convert, but they let him go anyway, allowing him the freedom to choose and the time needed for his spiritual development- he even received at a critical time in inter-clan relations- the Muslim community‘s protection and it was a woman who spoke out publicly and forcefully on his behalf.

Zaynah often went to the mosque, which was a space open to both men and women, and nobody objected to her making a statement there, among men; in fact, it was not at all uncommon for Muslim women to speak up publicly in such a manner.

Later, in one such instance that is particularly famous in Muslim history, a woman would address `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who had become the Muslims’ caliph, and point out an error of judgment that he immediately acknowledged.

Inside the mosque, the women would line up behind the men’s ranks, as the postures of prayer, in its various stages, require an arrangement that preserves modesty, decency, and respect. Women prayed, studied, and expressed themselves in that space. Moreover, they found in the Prophet’s attitude the epitome of courtesy and regard: he demanded that men remain seated in order to let women leave first and without inconvenience.

There was always gentleness and dignity in his behavior toward women, whom he listened to, and whose right to express themselves and set forth their opinions and arguments he acknowledged, protected, and promoted.

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

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His Life New Muslims

Muhammad’s Relationship with Nature: Faith throughout the Mission

By Tariq Ramadan

Life in the desert was to fashion the man and his outlook on creation and the elements of the universe and its whole nature. When Muhammad came to the desert, he was able to learn from the Bedouins’ rich oral tradition and their renown as speakers to develop his own mastery of the spoken language.

dessert nature

The desert is often the locus of prophecies as it naturally offers to the human gaze the horizons of the infinite.

Later on, the Last Prophet (peace be upon him) was to stand out through the strength of his words, his eloquence, and above all his ability to convey deep and universal teachings through short, pithy phrases (Jawami` al-kalim).

The desert is often the locus of prophecies because it naturally offers to the human gaze the horizons of the infinite. For nomads, forever on the move, finitude in space is allied to a sense of freedom blended, here again, with the experience of fleetingness, vulnerability, and humility. Nomads learn to move on, to become strangers, and to apprehend, at the heart of the linear infinity of space, the cyclical finitude of time.

Such is the experience of the believer’s life, which the Prophet was later to describe to young `Abdullah ibn `Umar in terms reminiscent of this dimension: “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a wayfarer.” (Al-Bukhari)

Nature & the Divine

In the first years of the Prophet’s life he developed a specific relationship with nature that remained constant throughout his mission. The universe is pregnant with signs that recall the presence of the Creator, and the desert, more than anything else, opens the human mind to observation, meditation, and initiation into meaning.

Thus, many verses of the Qur’an mention the book of creation and its teachings. The desert, apparently devoid of life, repeatedly shows and proves to the watchful consciousness the reality of the miracle of the return to life:

And among His Signs is this: you see the earth humble (because of drought); but when We send down rain to it, it is stirred to life and yields increase. Truly, He Who gives it life can surly give life to the dead, for He has power over all things. (Fussilat 41:39)

This relationship with nature was so present in the Prophet’s life from his earliest childhood that one can easily come to the conclusion that living close to nature, observing, understanding, and respecting it, is an imperative of deep faith.

Many years later, when the Prophet was in (Madinah) Medina, facing conflicts and wars, a Revelation in the heart of night turned his gaze toward another horizon of meaning:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for all those endowed with insight. (Aal `Imran 3:190)

It has been reported that the Prophet wept all night long when this verse was revealed to him. At dawn, when Bilal, the muezzin, coming to call for prayer, asked about the cause of those tears, Muhammad (peace be upon him) explained to him the meaning of his sadness and added: “Woe to anyone who bears that verse and does not meditate upon it!”

makkah Nature

Living close to nature, observing, understanding, and respecting it, is an imperative of deep faith.

Another verse conveys the same teaching , referring to multiple signs:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of humankind; in the rain that God sends down from the skies, and the life which He then gives to the earth after it had been lifeless; in the beasts of all kind that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between the sky and the earth; (here) indeed are signs for a people who are wise. (Al-Baqarah 2:164)

The first years of Muhammad’s life undoubtedly fashioned his outlook, preparing him to understand the signs in the universe.

The spiritual teaching that can be drawn from them is essential, both for the Prophet’s education and for our own education throughout history: being close to nature, respecting what it is, and observing and meditating on what it shows us, offers us, or takes (back) from us requirements of a faith that, in its quest, attempts to feed, deepen, and renew itself.

The Companion of Faith

Nature is the primary guide and the intimate companion of faith. Thus, God decided to expose His Prophet, from his earliest childhood, to the natural lessons of creation, conceived as a school where the mind gradually apprehends signs and meaning.

Far removed from the formalism of soulless religious rituals, this sort of education, in and through its closeness to nature, fosters a relationship to the divine based on contemplation and depth that will later make it possible, in a second phase of spiritual education, to understand the meaning, form, and objectives of religious ritual.

Cut off from nature in our towns and cities, we nowadays seem to have forgotten the meaning of this message to such an extent that we dangerously invert the order of requirements and believe that learning about the techniques and forms of religion (prayers, pilgrimages, etc.) is sufficient to grasp and understand their meaning and objectives.

This delusion has serious consequences since it leads to draining religious teaching of its spiritual substance, which actually ought to be its heart.

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

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His Character New Muslims

Spirituality and Productivity: The Prophet’s Recipe

nature-spirituality

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all.

Throughout the twenty-three years of his mission, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought the way to spiritual freedom and liberation. He received revelation, step by step, in the midst of the circumstances of life, as if the Most High was conversing with him in history, for eternity.

The Prophet listened to Him, spoke to Him, and contemplated His signs day and night, in the warm company of his Companions or in the solitude of the Arabian desert. He prayed while the world of humans was asleep, he invoked God while his brothers and sisters despaired, and he remained patient and steadfast in the face of adversity and insult while so many beings turned away.

His deep spirituality had freed him from the prison of the self, and he kept seeing and recalling the signs of the Most Near, whether in a flying bird, a standing tree, falling darkness, or a shining star.

Love & Unity

Muhammad was able to express love and spread it around him. His wives were gratified by his presence, tenderness, and affection, and his Companions loved him with an intense, profound, and extraordinarily generous love. He gave and offered his presence, his smiles, his being, and if a slave happened to address him or wanted to take him to the other end of the city)’, he went, he listened, he loved.

Belonging to God, he was nobody’s possession; he simply offered his love to all. When he gave someone his hand, he was never the first to draw it back, and he knew what light and peace can surge in the heart of a being who is offered a tender word, an affection ate name, comfort. Freed from his own self, he neglected nobody’s self. His presence was a refuge; he was the Messenger.

He loved, he forgave. Every day he begged God to forgive his own failings and oversights, and when a woman or a man came to him burdened with a mistake, however serious, he received that soul and showed her or him the way to forgiveness, solace, dialogue with God, and the Most Gentle’s protection. He covered other people’s mistakes from the sight of others, while teaching everyone the need for personal rigor and discipline.

Positiveness

When laziness moved anyone to ask him for minimal practice, he always answered positively and invited them to use their intelligence and their qualities to understand, improve, and free themselves from their own contradictions while accepting their own fragility. He taught responsibility without guilt and adherence to ethics as the conditions for freedom.

Justice is a condition for peace, and the Prophet kept insisting that one cannot experience the taste of equity if one is unable to respect the dignity of individuals. He set slaves free and recommended that Muslims pledge to do so constantly: the faith community of believers had to be a community of free beings.

Revelation showed him the way’, and, as we have often seen, he never ceased to give particular attention to slaves, the poor, and the lowly in society. He invited them to assert their dignity, to demand their rights. and to get rid of any feeling of inferiority; the message was a call for religious, social, and political liberation.

At the close of his mission, in the plain lying at the foot of the Mount of Mercy (Jabal Ar-Rahmah), men and women of all races, cultures, and colors, rich and poor, were present and listened to this message, which stressed that the best among people are so through their hearts, which are determined neither by class nor by color or culture.

“The best among you is the best toward people,” he had once said. (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)

In the name of human brotherhood- addressing not just Muslims but all people (an-nas), as he did during me farewell sermon, he taught each conscience to transcend the appearances that might hinder its progress toward the Just (Al-`Adl). In the presence of God, nothing could justify discrimination, social injustice, or racism.

In the Muslim community, a black man called the believers to prayer, and a slave’s son commanded the army; faith had freed the believers from judgments based on deceptive appearances (linked to origin and social status) that stimulate unwise passions and dehumanize them.

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

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