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New Muslims Reflections

What It’s Like To Be A Muslim College Student Today

Muslim College Students

Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.

“If you’ve never met a Muslim,” says Fatmah Berikaa, “you’re only getting the images that you see in the media.”

Berikaa, a freshman at Boston College, is one of several Muslim college students. The Huffington Post spoke to in recent weeks. Every day, in colleges across the country, young Muslims like Berikaa are confronting the stereotypes that endure about Islam.

They asked students to tell their stories about being practicing Muslims, in the hopes of dispelling some of the misconceptions about the religion, wanted to hear students speak for themselves about the role that faith plays in their lives. Each of these stories is presented as the student or students told it. The series features personal essays, transcribed conversations and a video blog.

Healthy Diverse

This is simply a collection of compelling stories -it’s not representative of all Muslim students in the U.S., nor is it meant to be. Students practice their faith in countless ways, and the Muslim population, in college as everywhere else, is incredibly diverse.

Some students spoke about the discrimination they face on a daily basis. One student, in journalism school, told of always being expected to write the news stories about the Middle East. Another spoke of the fear and shock that galvanized their school’s Muslim community after the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, this past February.

Still others talked about how they practice their religion on campus. We heard about student communities, prayer rooms and an Islamic fraternity.

The Need for Community-based Support

While all the stories were different, two common themes emerged. One was the importance of having a community. Many students told us that while they have friends who practice other religions, they find a particular kind of comfort in being among fellow Muslim students. They spoke about how the togetherness helps them to maintain their cultural identity and not feel isolated by their religion.

The other theme was the need for communication. Students often took a forgiving stance in the face of discrimination, saying that if someone doesn’t personally know any Muslims and associates Islam with terrorism because of what they see in the media, how are they to know any better?

The students we spoke with all showed a deep desire to spread knowledge about their faith. They urged non-Muslims to ask them about the religion, and they urged their fellow Muslims to be open in explaining it. They spoke about fostering tolerance and peace through awareness.

In addition to these individual stories, we asked students what they want non-Muslims to know about their student life.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings,” Berikaa said. The stories we heard contained pieces any student could relate to -choosing schools for financial aid and the perfect distance from family, adjusting to coed dorms, dealing with final exam timing conflicts.

Overall, Muslim students are trying to accomplish the exact same goal as every other college student: to find their space on campus and make it to graduation.

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Source: The Huffington Post

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Categories
New Muslims Reflections

What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims to Know

By Alexandra Svokos

We asked Muslim students across the country what they’d like non-Muslims to know about their student life. These are their responses.

This Is What Muslim College Students Want Non-Muslims To Know…

Lana Idris

Junior at Harvard University; from Texas; studying human evolutionary biology

“I think if I wanted non-Muslims to know anything about my student life, it’s that although we have struggles that are particular to following our faith, such as finding time to pray in between classes, we are for the most part going through the same phase in life as any other college student is. We are trying to come into our own personalities, find out who we are and where we fit into our communities.

“The one thing that may differ is that at times it feels like we’re trying to carve a space into communities that seem to fundamentally misunderstand us and reject us on face value because we are Muslim. So I’d say it’s the same struggles, just nuanced differently depending on our context.”

Masud Rahman

Sophomore at the University of California, San Diego; from California; studying mathematics-computer science

“I would like non-Muslims to know that we have the same struggles as you.

“If any non-Muslim has any fears or concerns regarding Muslims on campus or Islam in general, please just contact your local Muslim Student Association and just talk to a Muslim for a bit.

“The tensions with our families, other friends of various faiths and desires are all the same. We just choose to live by a faith and way of life that provides spirituals guidance and community at our universities.”

Tesneem Alkiek

Senior at the University of Michigan; from Michigan; studying Islamic studies with a minor in early Christianity, religion

“My entire student life – classes, social activities, studying, you name it – revolves around my five daily prayers. Before I even register for classes, I’m making sure that three-hour evening lab won’t interfere with my sunset prayer. All it takes is five minutes five times a day, but those few minutes force me to think about where I’ll be throughout the entire day and if I’ll be able to excuse myself to follow a command of God.

“It’s my secret in maintaining self-discipline and organizing my time well.”

Fatima Chowdhury

Junior at the University of Michigan; from New York; studying international studies and Middle East and North Africa studies

“What people need to realize is that Muslims are just people.

Being Muslim isn’t an overwhelming thing that’s different from being human or being a student or being a person or being an American. First and foremost we’re all people, and we should all be treated like people: with respect and dignity.”

Fatmah Berikaa

Freshman at Boston College; from Massachusetts; studying secondary education and English

“If you’ve never met a Muslim, you’re only getting the images that you see in the media. And – at the moment – that’s not how we are. That’s not compatible with what Islam stands for.

“I want people to understand that we are just human beings. When tragedies happen – because I feel like Islam is not discussed unless it’s in the context of some tragedy – we’re just as affected as the next guy.

“We’re just as hurt, we’re scared, we’re just as angry. We’re going through the same emotions they are. To cut us off, or say “You can’t feel that, because it’s your people who did that – that makes no sense.”

“I want people to see me as a real person. I don’t want my personality and my religion to be exclusive. I’ve had people go, “You’re so nice, I almost don’t see your headscarf!” I understand that they’re trying to be nice, and I get that. But at the same time, I want you to know that I’m nice and I want you to see my headscarf, because those are both parts of me. I don’t want people to think that I should sacrifice part of myself for another part of myself. These two things can coexist.”

Aisha Subhan

Second year at UC San Diego; from Arizona; studying political science/international relations

“As a student, I dream and aspire like many of my peers do. Each day is an opportunity for me to learn something new, make someone laugh, or clear up misconceptions.

“My student life is purposeful and I am really grateful that I have one.”

Faran Saeed

Higher education graduate student at Louisiana State University

These photographs really show my view of my experience as a Muslim student:

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Source: The Huffington Post

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Categories
New Muslims Reflections

Towards Becoming Muslim & Whole

“The challenge is not to be perfect…it’s to be whole.” Jane Fonda

whole nature

I know I was guided toward Islam. I’ve had experiences I never imagined I might have…and I am grateful, Alhamdulillah

Wisdom & Its Varying Sources

The quote titling and triggering this post began with a Facebook reader asking me about the meaning behind the quote. I replied that it came from a discussion Oprah Winfrey was having in a televised interview with Jane Fonda as she shared reflections on ‘life, love and working out.”

I can just imagine someone reading this and wanting to write saying, “May Allah forgive me- why do you look to Jane Fonda in that way? She isn’t Muslim!” To which I reply, you do not have to be a Muslim to be a human being; or to have wisdom to share.

To further preempt those who might feel the itch to shoot me down for finding myself lost in thought over a televised interview featuring a non-Muslim woman, what people often forget or refuse to accommodate for when mistakenly jumping to judge reverts is that, that is exactly what we are; reverts.

I was raised in a different faith and culture for forty-two years. I lived an entirely different life apart from what the average Muslim woman born into a Muslim family and raised in a completely different culture has lived. No one can erase that! And those who refuse to accommodate for the fact that reverts, like myself, have had a lifetime of experience(s) pre-Islam, are being far too short-sighted and judgmental.

So, if I, as a revert of merely eight years, find myself identifying with a woman who has lived a life in the same culture I lived in – it is simply what it is!

Identifying

In the interview Jane elaborated further on the how a woman’s life is divided into chapters. When she spoke of menopause and how difficult this stage of life is- tears came to my eyes. The past two years of my life have been extremely difficult.

Earlier in the day I had been reflecting on life and in an SMS to a friend I wrote, “I was watching a movie, a story of lawyers in a DC law firm. I had to stop watching, it made me remember the sights, sounds, buildings; satisfaction of a job well done. I loved my work & I was good at it. I had a 2 br. apt. beside Washington National Cathedral, my favorite car; a 8cyl. Thunderbird amazing clothes, manicured hands and feet, $70,000 salary; respect. I had it all. And I was good enough. Then came Islam and a year later I walked away from that life. Since then I haven’t felt ‘good enough’ for anything…I lost myself. I am just a shell of the person I spent 17 years to become…I’m just a memory…”

Of course, I know the last eight years of my life have been a complete turn-around; in many respects bringing me full circle. Indeed, I have lived a different life- one that, despite how depressing my note might have sounded (actually it was exactly how I felt at the time), I know I was guided toward Islam. I’ve had experiences I never imagined I might have…and I am grateful, Alhamdulillah – it is, after all, my “Chapter Two”.

For sure I am still in the second chapter of my life (it is after all my mid-life period) and, Insha’Allah, as Jane and so many before us have, I will survive it. Perhaps the conclusion of this chapter will be titled, “Getting off the sofa…and out of the refrigerator.” I might also have to invest in Jane’s newest exercise video.

As I continued listening to and watching the interview, my ears and eyes absorbed everything. In front of me I observed a woman not unlike myself, feeling so much that often tears threatened to breach the brim of her eyelids; she brushed them back several times with the elegant stroke of an index finger.

In speaking about her first grandchild she described how her relationship with him opened her heart in a way she never imagined. She described how she used to just get lost looking into her grandson’s eyes, and how before he would fall asleep she would lay with him curled up beside her. She said, “I’d turn to go to sleep, but he’d pull me back and say, ‘I’m not ready.’ And he’d look at me more and say, ‘I wuv you, Gamma.’” Subhan’Allah. It made me so grateful to be able to remember similar moments; it was surreal.

I have a photo, Alhamdulillah, of myself and my grandson Landen when he was three years old, taken during a visit with family shortly before a trip abroad. It was morning; he had awakened and hearing him call out, I went upstairs to get him because my daughter had spent the night away. Still half asleep when I reached for him, he wrapped himself in my embrace, melting into my body and I carried him downstairs to the sitting room. From the comfort of a chair and the cradle of my arms, Landen fell easily back into a semi-slumber; the warmth of his body, the smell of his hair and skin quickly consuming me. I sat for the longest time just looking down on his angelic face…and my sister picked up her camera to snap the ‘Kodak’ moment. When I saw the photo…Masha’ Allah…it was amazing…but even if I didn’t have the photo, I will never, ever, Insha’Allah, forget holding him in my arms and remembering the gift of motherhood.

Moving Forward

Later into Jane’s interview Oprah reminded her of a quote from their first interview ten years ago for O Magazine: “To do life right you have to feel like you’re growing up until the day you die…” It made me smile; so many times I’ve found myself asking, “Aishah, what do you want to be when you grow up?!?!”

I still don’t know.

But what I do know is that I need to remind myself sometimes that it isn’t such a bad idea to go back and read some of the inspirational stories I’ve written since becoming Muslim, just to remind myself that I’m not really lost- I’ve just evolved; moving towards becoming whole.

It is often difficult to focus on accentuating the positive and letting go of the pain– but, Insha’Allah, I’ll keep working on it.

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Source: theamericanmuslim.org.

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Family New Muslims

Parents in Islam: Their Rights and Status

 

fatherhood

“No son can repay (the right of his father) unless he finds him a slave, buys him and then emancipates him.”

The rights of parents include respect, love and obedience. This obedience is conditional that it does not contradict obedience to the commands of Allah and His Messenger. It involves care and kindness to both parents, and provision of necessities for elder parents. Humility and respect to both parents equally is an obligation, and any arrogance or insolence is forbidden.

Patience and perseverance are required when serving parents, no matter what the circumstances. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in their life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) instructed us saying:

“(Allah’s pleasure on someone) is based on the pleasure of his parents. The wrath of Allah is based upon the anger of his parents.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Both parents are entitled to this right even if they are not Muslims so long as they do not command their children to do any act of disobedience to Allah (Exalted be He).

Asmaa’, the daughter of the Abu Bakr, said My mother came to visit me while still not a Muslim. I asked Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning her visit (and how to treat her while visiting me) and said, ‘My mother is eager to visit with me. Should I (or should I not) extend my courtesy (as a host) to her?’ He said: “Yes, extend courtesy”. (Muslim)

The mother must be given priority in terms of kindness, sympathy, good feelings, love and affection as mentioned by Allah’s Prophet:

“A man  came to Allah’s Prophet and asked him: ‘O Prophet of Allah! Who is the most worthy and deserving person of my good treatment and companionship? He replied: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked: ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your mother.’ The man asked ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your father.’  And in another version there is the ending: ‘your father and then the next nearest and next nearest.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger assigned the mother with a three-fold portion of the right of companionship. The father, in comparison, receives only one share. This is due to the fact that mothers suffer more hardships during pregnancy and during the delivery and care of their children. Allah says in the Qur’an:

And we have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

This in no way demeans the rights of the father, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“No son can repay (the right of his father) unless he finds him a slave, buys him and then emancipates him.” (Muslim)

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

 

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Family New Muslims

Between Belief and Treating Parents in Islam

motherhood

Islam portrays parents, particularly the mother, as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

And We have commanded man kindness to his parents: with hardship his mother bears him and with hardship she brings him up, and the weaning of him is thirty months, until, when he attains his full strength and attains the age of forty years, he says: “Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favor You have done to me and my parents and that I may act piously such as You may approve. And be gracious to my children. Truly I have turned to You and truly I submit to You (in Islam).” (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

And We have commanded man about his parents, his mother bears him in hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and your parents. Unto Me is the return. (Luqman 31:14)

Man has obligations towards his fellow human beings, but his obligations towards his parents, according to Islam, are of the utmost importance. The Qur’an mentions this duty, next only to that of serving Allah:

And your Lord has commanded that you should worship no one but Him and show kindness to your parents; and if either or both of them become old, do not say to them “pooh”. Do not show any disrespect to them. Speak to them a word of respect. And lower unto them the wings of humility out of kindness and say: Lord! Have mercy on them as they brought me up when young. (Al-Israa’ 17:23-24)

To begin with, the following points are worth noting, as one studies these passages, prescribing how we should treat our parents:

1- That parents are to be treated with kindness and respect features as a divine command in all the above instances. It underscores the tremendous importance attached to this duty in the Islamic scheme of things. It is not some moral precept which one may observe as a dictate of conscience or as a discretionary matter. On the contrary, it is a definite divine command which must be obeyed unquestioningly by everyone and at any cost.

2- The Qur’an repeatedly asks man to thank Allah for His numerous favours. Parents alone hold the distinction of being mentioned along with Allah, who deserve to be thanked for their favours. Man is directed to recall with gratitude the favours done to him by his parents. One should constantly bear in mind the exalted rank accorded to parents by the Qur’an.

Furthermore, besides enacting the command for the good treatment of parents, Allah teaches man the following supplications, which he should make for his parents:

Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day of Reckoning. (Ibrahim 14:41)

Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favour You have done to me and my parents … (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

Lord! Forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house as a believer, and all the believing men and women … (Nuh 71:28)

By making these supplications, love and respect for parents is likely to be ingrained in both mind and heart. Man is thus instructed to regard his parents as an almost inseparable part of his self, as he seeks Allah’s forgiveness both for himself and his parents. Islam, thus, ensures that love and respect for parents is infused deeply into man’s consciousness. Man should imbibe this truth thoroughly.

3- Significantly enough, Islam admits no distinction between one’s Muslim or non-Muslim parents in treating them well. The parents of many early Muslims in the Prophet’s day clung to their ancestral faith out of blind conformity and imitation, and some of them even opposed Islam. Yet these Muslims were directed not to break their family or social ties with their parents.

Rather, they were told to treat them well, irrespective of their religious affiliations. The Prophet’s noble example bears out this point. It is on record that he always spoke affectionately of his loving uncle, Abu Talib, though the latter refused to embrace Islam, even in the face of the Prophet’s repeated and persuasive pleas.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to recount gratefully the invaluable patronage and protection extended by Abu Talib and mourned his death, describing it as his irreparable personal loss.

The same point comes out unmistakably from the following report, recorded by Al-Bukhari:

“Asmaa’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, sought the Prophet’s directive as to how she should treat her polytheistic mother who visited her. The Prophet told her to maintain filial ties with her mother and to look after her well.” (Al-Bukhari)

Other Qur’anic passages instructing man to treat his parents with love, kindness and respect are verses 83 of Surat Al-Baqarah 2, 36 of Al-Nisaa’ 4, 151 of Al-An`am 6 and 19 of An-Naml 27.

The directive embodied in the above is elucidated in several hadiths. Take the following for instance: The Prophet is on record declaring: “Your Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.” (Ahmad)

– The Prophet spelled out the following as cardinal sins: “To associate partners with Allah, to disobey parents, to commit murder and to give false testimony.” (Muslim)

– Once the Prophet exclaimed:

“Let him be disgraced!” On being requested to identify the culprit, he clarified: “One who is with his parents in their old age, both or either of them, and yet fails to win a place for himself in Paradise by serving them well.” (Muslim)

– That one may discharge one’s obligation towards one’s parents even after their death is clarified in the following hadith reported by Abu Usayd Sa`idi:

“Once while we were in the Prophet’s company, someone from the tribe of Salamah called on the Prophet and asked him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do I owe obligations to my parents even after their death?’ The latter replied: “Yes, you must pray to Allah to favour them with His forgiveness, honour the commitments which your parents made and maintain ties with their relatives and friends.” (Abu Dawud)

Non-Muslim Parents

Notwithstanding its emphatic exhortation for kindness towards parents, the Qur’an makes it plain that they are not to be obeyed if they ask their children to follow a faith other than Islam. Allah alone is to be obeyed in matters of faith, as is evident from the following assertions: “If they try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them.” (Al-`Ankabut 29:8)

If either of them should try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, although you may keep company with them honorably in this world. Follow the way of him who turns to Me in repentance. (Luqman 31:15)

Islam adopts a balanced approach regarding one’s non-Muslim parents. This issue made its appearance in the early days of Islam.

Today, the same problem is faced by new Muslims. On the one hand, Islam directs a Muslim not to abandon his unbelieving parents. Nor should he/she recant his/her belief in Islam as a result of emotional blackmail from them.

That one should adhere steadfastly to Islam once the truth dawns on one is illustrated by Sa`id ibn Malik’s conduct. His acceptance of Islam in response to the Prophet’s call was vigorously resented by his polytheistic mother. She refused to take food, demanding that Sa`id should give up his allegiance to Islam.

However, he did not relent and told her plainly that her fasting unto death would not deter him even in the slightest. After a couple of days when her condition worsened and she realized Sa`id’s unwavering commitment to Islam, she recanted her stance and resumed eating and drinking.

A Muslim is not to budge an inch in the face of such pressure. Yet a Muslim must make a point of maintaining his social relations with his unbelieving parents. His treatment should be characterized by gentleness and kindness. He should help them financially and emotionally.

Particularly the Mother

In the Qur’anic passages setting forth one’s obligations towards parents, it is worth noting that they, particularly the mother, are portrayed as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

As thanksgiving one should be kind to them. This fits in with the larger scheme of things Islamic. For Allah is the benefactor par excellence. It is on account of Allah’s favour that one is blessed with parents who selflessly and lovingly spend all that they have for their children.

In comparison, Allah’s concern and bounties for His servants are beyond measure. One should be thankful, in the first place, to Allah and then to one’s parents. Islam infuses gratitude into the hearts of believers.

Prompted by the same they profusely thank Allah. And on a much narrower scale, a Muslim is naturally drawn towards his parents out of gratitude for them.

Another striking point about the Qur’anic directive is that one should treat one’s parents well in their old age. This pointed reference to their old age rests on several important considerations. First, they need greater care and attention as they turn physically and emotionally infirm.

At this juncture they are especially sensitive to any neglect shown them. Being physically weak, they are more prone to being irritable and unable to exercise self-restraint. At times, they may behave irrationally, placing such demands on their children which may be hard to meet. It is in the face of all these irritants that one is directed by the Qur’an to treat them with love and respect.

Man is reminded of his own infancy and childhood when he placed too many demands on his parents and they cheerfully bore all such hardships. In turn, one should bear with his parents’ foibles and temperamental problems.

Against this backdrop, one realizes the significance of the prayers taught by the Qur’an to man, for seeking strength from Allah, which may enable one to treat one’s parents well.

Obviously, Allah’s mercy can help one discharge this difficult duty. Furthermore, it explains why many hadiths highlight the importance of this obligation and speak of Allah’s reward and punishment for one’s treatment of one’s parents.

The Reward

It is, no doubt, quite a task to maintain excellent relations with parents consistently. At the same time, it is vital for protecting and upholding the social fabric. Accordingly, many hadiths graphically spell out Allah’s reward on this count. Take the following hadiths as illustrative.

It is related on Ibn `Abbas’ authority that the Prophet made the following observation:

“A dutiful son who only looks at his parents with love and kindness will earn the reward due for Hajj for each glance of his. Someone asked: If one casts such a glance one hundred times a day, will he get the reward one hundred times? The Prophet replied: Yes, he will be credited with this reward for each glance. Almighty Allah’s treasure is not diminished on account of even such generous and ample rewards.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

“Abu Bakr reports that the Prophet said: While Allah may defer the punishment for one’s sins until the Day of Recompense, one guilty of denying one’s parents their due and disobeying them is punished in this world itself. This is in addition to the punishment to be inflicted in the Hereafter.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

The Qur’anic passages urging the good treatment of parents make pointed reference to man’s total submission to Allah in this world and his ultimate return to Him.

The point pressed home is that one’s excellent attitude towards one’s parents should flow from one’s wholesale surrender to Allah. As part of this and in accordance with divine command one should treat one’s parents well.

One should not be prompted by any material interest or selfish motive such as that of eliciting praise from others in serving one’s parents. Rather, one’s eyes should be set on the Hereafter, and, in view of divine reward, one should be kind to one’s parents, as this will win Allah’s pleasure in the Hereafter.

In sum, a Muslim’s conduct including his relationship with parents should be governed by Allah’s commands recorded in the Qur’an and elaborated in Hadith.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s The Qur’an: Essential Teachings, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Family New Muslims

The Two Words I Never Was Fortunate to Say to My Mother…

Not too long ago I went to visit a friend of mine whose mother was dying of cancer. She had been battling cancer for about five years, and the news came to me that she was on her last days.

mother

My mom has been there all my life, never failed me once, never. And never once have I ever come to her and just said it…

So, I went to visit the brother, and I sat down with him, he was explaining to me that his mother is going through this state of “Sakarat Al-Mawt” conscious and then unconscious, and that the cancer was really starting to spread all over.

So, as I sat with this friend of mine and he was talking his eyes tear up. So I naturally assumed it was because his mother was dying. So I tried to comfort him and tell him that this was natural in life. He said to me, “I’m not crying because she is leaving and of course I’m upset, but this is not why I’m crying”.

I said, “then why are you upset?”

He said “I’m upset because all my life I never thanked Mother for what she’s done.”

Honestly I can’t explain what happened to me when he said these words.

“All my life I’ve never said ‘thank you’ to my mum”, he continued.

And now that she’s sitting in the next room and she’s alive but she is conscious and unconscious, and even if I spoke to her she is not going to be able to understand or comprehend the words that I’m saying.

What about You & Your Mother?

Can you, brothers and sisters, imagine that?

For those of us who are fortunate enough that their mothers are still around, how does this affect you?

My mom has been there all my life, never failed me once, never. And never once have I ever come to her and just said “Thank you”.  Can you imagine that?

Listen to the details of this pitiful story from brother Brother Mohamad Hoblos…

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Source: OnePath Network

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Family New Muslims

Islam and the Institution of the Family

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi

The foremost and fundamental institution of human society is the family unit. A family is established by the coming together of a man and a woman, and their contact brings into existence a new generation.

Islam and the Institution of the Family

In Islam, marital bond is founded on the sweetness of love with the possibility of lasting companionship.

Family… First Unit of Civilization

This, then, produces ties of kinship and community, which, in turn, gradually develops further ties. The family is an instrument of continuity which prepares the succeeding generation to serve human civilization and to discharge its social obligations with devotion, sincerity and enthusiasm.

This institution does not merely recruit cadets for the maintenance of human culture, but positively desires that those who are to come will be better members of society.

In this respect, the family can be truly called the source of the progress, development, prosperity and strength of human civilization. Islam, therefore, devotes much attention to the issues relating to the family and strives to establish it on the healthiest and strongest possible foundations.

Unity

According to Islam, the correct relationship between man and woman is marriage, a relationship in which social responsibilities are fully accepted and which results in the emergence of a family.

Sexual permissiveness and other similar types of irresponsible behavior are not dismissed by Islam as mere innocent pastimes or ordinary transgressions.

Rather, they are acts which strike at the very roots of society. Hence, Islam holds all extra-marital sex as sinful and forbidden (haram) and makes it a criminal offence. Severe punishments are prescribed to deter would-be offenders.

Purdah, which regulates the free association of men and women, restrictions on erotic music and obscene pictures and the discouragement of the spread of all forms of pornography, are other weapons used in the fight to protect and strength the institution of the family.

Islam does not look on adult celibacy simply with disfavor-it calls on every young man to take upon himself the social responsibilities of married life just as his parents did in their time.

Nor does Islam regard asceticism and lifelong celibacy merely as being of no benefit; it sees them as departures from the nature of man and as acts of revolt against the Divine scheme of things.

It also strongly disapproves of those rites, ceremonies or restrictions which tend to make marriage the easiest and fornication the most difficult thing in society – and not vice versa as it is in most societies today.

Hence, after debarring certain blood relatives from entering into matrimony with one another, it has legalized marriage with all other near and distant kith and kin. It has removed all distinctions of caste and community, and permitted matrimony of any Muslim with any other Muslim. It has urged that the mahr (dower) should be fixed at a figure which can be easily borne by both sides. It has dispensed with the necessity of priests and register offices.

…and Harmony

In an Islamic society, marriage is a plain and simple ceremony which can be performed anywhere before two witnesses, though it is essential that the proceedings should not be kept secret. Society must know that the couple are now going to live as husband and wife.

Within the family itself Islam has assigned to the man a position of authority so that he can maintain order and discipline as the head of the household. Islam expects the wife to obey her husband and look after his well-being; and it expects the children to behave accordingly to their parents.

Islam does not favour a loose and disjointed family system devoid of proper authority, control and discipline. Discipline can only be maintained through a central authority and, in the view of Islam, the position of father in the family is such that it makes him the fittest person to have this responsibility.

But this does not mean that man has been made a household tyrant and woman has been handed over to him as a helpless chattel. According to Islam, the real spirit of marital life is love, understanding and mutual respect.

If woman has been asked to obey her husband, the latter has been called on to treat the wife with love, affection and sweetness and to make the welfare of his family his top priority.

Although, Islam places great emphasis on the marital bond, it only wants it to remain intact as long as it is founded on the sweetness of love or there exist at least the possibility of lasting companionship.

If neither of these two conditions can be maintained, it gives man the right of divorce and woman the right of separation; and under certain conditions, where married life has become a source of misery, the Islamic courts of justice have the authority to annul the marriage.

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

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Categories
Family New Muslims

A Divine Call for Kindness to Parents

By Dr. Ahmad Al Khalidi

Allah (Exalted be He) addresses believers and commands them to worship Him alone and to be always kind to their parents especially when they grow old and weak in such a way that they should not utter the slightest word of disgust or disrespect to them.

A Divine Call for Kindness to Parents

Allah commands believers to worship Him alone and to be always kind to their parents especially when they grow old and weak.

The Qur’an reminds children of their parents’ favor to them in childhood specially mothers who endured pains of weight in her body, delivery and weaning.

The human status, nowadays, matches with the Qur’anic facts; as the Muslims in the east and west belong to families with strong bonds where the children are dutiful to their parents in one way or another; while most mushriks ( polytheists’) children in non-Muslim societies depart their parents as soon as they reach puberty age.

Besides, their relationship with their parents gets too weak to visit them or to do any favor for them except on occasions (if they remember them). How wonderful are the  Qur’anic teachings that call children to do good to their parents not only throughout their life but also after their death.

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

Baz, (2007) brings up that the Qur’an incites the affection of benefaction and mercy in the hearts of children, who always look forward and rarely look backward to care for their parents who  have spent the whole nectar of their life for the sake of their children until drought has approached them.

The Father

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructs children to be aware of their parents’ status in Islam.

Abu Darda’ heard the Prophet say that:

The father is the middle door of Paradise (i.e. the best way to Paradise), so it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or not.” (Ibn Majah)

And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, “My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood”. (Al-Israa’ 17:24)

The Mother

That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) commended children to treat their mother well more than any other person.

Abu Huraira reported that a person said:

“Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: ‘Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).’” (Muslim)

Allah says:

And We have enjoined upon man (care) for his parents. His mother carried him, (increasing her) in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the (final) destination. (Luqman 31:14)

True scientific discoveries usually agree with the Holy Quranic verses, so Al Tawashi (2006:265) mentions what scientists have discovered about the importance of mother’s milk, “Every day, a new benefit of mother’s milk to the baby is discovered.” He adds, “one of the facts that science has discovered about mother’s milk is that suckling up to two years after birth is very beneficial.” Moreover, “Mother’s milk is an unmatched mixture that is created by God has both an excellent food-source for the new born baby, and a substance that increases its resistance to disease. Even artificial baby food produced by today’s technology cannot substitute for this miraculous source of nutrition.”

Allah’s Mercy

Children should not forget their parents’ breeding and care. Allah orders children to be modest to their parents out of humbleness and mercy to them seeking reward from Allah. However, in case parents call their children to shirk, they should not obey them; yet they should keep kind and benevolent for them. This, indeed, reflects the extent of mercy of Allah upon parents even though they were disbelievers.

But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in this world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me in repentance. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. (Luqman 31:15)

“If they help you in the obedience to Allah, guide and cultivate you with a correct upbringing then they deserve to be obeyed. If, however, they both deviate and strive with much effort with you to fall into shirk (associating other beings/gods) with Allah then there is no obedience to them (in that). However, the general righteousness that you should have towards them does not become void even if they try and strive against you and harm you to disbelieve in Allah, it is upon you not to forget their rights; for you must be a good companion to them in this life.” (Sahih International)

In view of that, young Muslims should always remember this Prophetic hadith that calls children to regard their parents and to be watchful for them.

`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud reported:

“I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds (takes one) nearer to Paradise? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Prayer at its proper time, I said: What next, Messenger of Allah? He replied: Kindness to the parents. I said: What next? He replied: Jihad in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Fostering Ethical Concepts in Children

Luqman’s son is reminded of the rights of his parents on him, of the hardships mothers face while bearing and weaning their children and of the total dependence of infants on their mothers for two years. However, Man should be thankful to Allah first, then to his parents.

S`adi (1985) points out that one has to be respectful to his parents and that he should treat them gently, speak with them modestly using kind words, deal with them pathetically and avoid ill-treating them, particularly his mother who faced difficulty after difficulty since he was a clot until he was born, enduring his weight in her body, her sufferings from weakness and illness as well as pains of delivery.

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Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al khalidi is Researcher and translator, E L teacher and lecturer, an old member in the presentation to Islam committee.

 

 

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