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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Life of a Muslim: How Islam Shapes Our Lives?

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In every age, in every country and among every people, all God-knowing and truth-loving men have believed and lived this very religion.

The life of a Muslim will always be filled with godliness, piety, righteousness and truthfulness. How and why should it be?

He will live in the belief that God alone is the Master of all, that whatever he and other men possess has been given by God, that the powers he wields are only a trust from God, that the freedom he has been endowed with is not to be used indiscriminately, and that it is in his own interest to use it in accordance with God’s will.

He will constantly keep in view that one day he will have to return to the Lord and submit an account of his entire life. The sense of accountability will always remain implanted in’ his mind and he will never behave irresponsibly.

A Life Wrapped in Morality

Think of the moral excellence of the man who lives with this mental attitude – his will be a life of purity and piety and love and altruism. He will be a blessing unto mankind. His thinking will not be polluted with evil thoughts and perverted ambitions. He will abstain from seeing evil, hearing evil, and doing evil.

He will guard his tongue and will never utter a word of lie. He will earn his living through just and fair means and will prefer hunger to a food acquired unfairly through exploitation or injustice. He will never be a party to any form of oppression or violation of human life and honor. He will never yield to evil, whatever the cost of defiance.

He will be an embodiment of goodness and nobility and will defend right and truth even at the cost of his life. Such a man will be a power to be reckoned with. He is bound to succeed.

An Honorable Life

He will be highly honored and respected. How can humiliation ever visit a person who is not prepared to bow his head before anyone except God the Almighty, the Sovereign of the universe?

No one can be more powerful than he – for he fears none but God and seeks blessings from none but Him. What power can make him deviate from the right path? What wealth can buy his faith? What force can shape his conscience? What power can compel him to behave as he does not want to?

He will be the most wealthy. No one in the world can be richer or more independent than he – for he will live a life of austerity and contentment. He will be neither a sensualist, nor indulgent, nor greedy.

He will be contented with whatever he earns fairly and honestly and however much ill-gotten wealth is heaped before him he will not even look at it. He will have peace and contentment of heart and what can be a greater wealth than this?

He will be the most revered, popular and beloved. No one can be more lovable than he – for he lives a life of charity and benevolence. He will be just to everyone, discharge his duties honestly, and work for the good of others. People’s hearts will be naturally drawn towards him.

No one can be more trustworthy than he – for he will not betray his trust, nor will he stray from righteousness: he will be true to his word, and straightforward and honest in his dealings. He will be fair and just in all his affairs, for he is sure that God is Ever-Present, Ever-Vigilant. Words fail to describe the credit and goodwill which such a man commands. Can there be anyone who will not trust him? Such is the life and character of a Muslim.

If you understand the true character of a Muslim, you will be convinced that he cannot live in humiliation, abasement or subjugation. He is bound to prevail and no power on earth can overwhelm him. For Islam inculcates in him the qualities which cannot be driven out.

And after living a respectable and honorable life on this earth, he will return to his Creator Who will shower on him the choicest of His blessings – for he will have discharged his duty ably, fulfilled his mission successfully and emerged from his trial triumphantly. He is successful in life in this world and in the hereafter will live in eternal peace, joy and bliss.

This is Islam, the natural religion of man, the religion which is not associated with any person, people, period or place. It is the way of nature, the religion of man. In every age, in every country and among every people, all God-knowing and truth-loving men have believed and lived this very religion. They were all Muslims, irrespective of whether they called that way Islam. Whatever its name was, it signified Islam and nothing but Islam.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “Towards Understanding Islam”.

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah: Special Season of Worship

With the start of Dhul-Hijjah less than a week away, Muslims all over the world are preparing to embark on a journey of a lifetime. However, if you are among those who will instead be watching them on TV and wishing you were with them, you must be asking yourself: What do I do during these days?

Dhul-Hijjah

There are no days during which the righteous action is so pleasing to Allah than these days.

Let us remind ourselves of some specific and other general deeds which will in sha’ Allah maximize our benefit from the best of all days!

The Superiority of These Days

The immense importance of these days is shown by the fact that Allah (Exalted be He) swears an oath by them in the Qur’an: “By the dawn; And (by) ten nights.” (Al-Fajr 89:1-2)

In Tafsir Ibn Kathir it is mentioned that the “ten nights” in the verse above refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“There are no days during which the righteous action is so pleasing to Allah than these days (i.e., the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, not even Jihad in the Cause of Allah?” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “Not even Jihad in the Cause of Allah, except in case one goes forth with his life and his property and does not return with either of it.” (Al-Bukhari)

The reason righteous deeds are more rewarding during these days, according to Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf, is because they are Hajj days in the sacred season of pilgrimage. Because of their excellence and importance, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) swore by them.

So what can you do to honor these days?

1- Take Special Care of Your Obligations

Before talking about any voluntary actions (and bonuses), it is important to remind ourselves that we must first take care of all our obligations. How can we think of building and beautifying a house without constructing its pillars? Thus, we have to pay special attention to the pillars of Islam and strive to perfect our obligations.

a- Pray on time (and in congregation, for men)

The Messenger of Allah said, “Verily, between a man (i.e., a Muslim) and between shirk (polytheism) and kufr (disbelief) is the abandoning of As-Salah (prayers).” (Muslim)

b- Give your zakat if it is due!

c- If you have not yet fulfilled the obligation of Hajj, make special du`aa’ to Allah to grant you the opportunity to do so soon and in the best of manners.

2- Supplicate for Sighting of the New Moon

Start the month with this supplication:

‘Allah is the Most Great. O Allah, bring us the new moon with security and Faith, with peace and in Islam, and in harmony with what our Lord loves and what pleases Him. Our Lord and your Lord is Allah.’ (Fortress of the Muslim)

3- Repeat Tahleel, Takbir and Tahmeed

These remembrances have a special connection to these ten days:

Our Prophet said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel (saying La ilaaha illa Allah, here’s no god but Allah), takbir (saying Allahu Akbar, Allah is Greatest) and tahmeed (saying Alhamdulillah, all praise be to Allah) during them.” (Ahmad)

The Companions would go to the marketplace and recite the takbir out loud and people would also recite after hearing them. Let us follow their footsteps and encourage others to recite the takbir as well, as an act of worship and a proclamation of the greatness of Allah (Exalted be He)! You might find it uncomfortable to constantly remind your family members, but if you simply play an audio file from your laptop, mobile, etc., you’ll notice others will join in with the recitation naturally, in sha’ Allah.

One of the forms of takbir you may recite is:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allah, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lillaahil-hamd (Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, and to Allah be praise.”

4- Renew Your Taqwa

After the fasting of Ramadan whose main purpose was “…that you may become righteous” (Al-Baqarah 2:183), Allah makes a special connection between sacrificing animals (which has to be offered on the days of `Eid) with taqwa:

Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. (Al-Hajj 22:37)

The people of taqwa (piety and fear of Allah), as explained in Dr. Muhsin Khan’s translation of the Qur’an, are “the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained).”

Thus, let us repent from all our sins and try our level best to attain taqwa.

5- Earn the Reward of a Hajj without Going to Makkah

Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until the sun has risen, then he prays two rak`ahs, then for him is the reward like that of a Hajj and `Umrah.” He said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Complete, complete, complete.’” (At-Tirmidhi)

That’s a small deed with such an immense reward! Allahu Akbar! However, this would not mean that you will be free from the obligation of Hajj (the fifth pillar of Islam) of course.

6- Observe Voluntary Fasts

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Allah says: ‘(The person observing sawm) has abstained from food and drink, and sexual pleasures for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward. Every good deed has ten times its reward.’” (Al-Bukhari)

In addition, the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever observes fast for a day in the way of Allah (non-obligatory fasting observed for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah and seeking His blessings), Allah will remove his face from the Hell to the extent of seventy years’ distance.” (Muslim)

So imagine the reward for keeping fasts during these grand days, In sha’ Allah! This applies only for the first nine days. The 10th of Dhul-Hijjah will be `Eid, in which fasting is prohibited.

                                                                                                                                                                To be continued…

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Source: productivemuslim.com

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How to Attain Peace of Mind, Tranquility, and Contentment?

Dr. Naji Ibrahim Arfaj

How can a Muslim achieve tranquility and peace in life, and where does true happiness lie? How does Islam help us reach and maintain this state of peace and contentment?

Key 1: Know your one true God.

How to Attain Peace of Mind

Islam teaches us that we can attain peace of mind, happiness, and salvation, by knowing and believing in the One True God willingly and wholeheartedly.

Key 2: Believe in Him alone.

Key 3: Follow His will.

Key 4: Believe in God’s prophets (including Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).

Key 5: Remember God.

Key 6: Seek God’s forgiveness.

Key 7: Worship Him alone.

Key 8: Love for others what you love for yourself.

Key 9: Be generous to others and try to make them happy.

Key 10: Have sincerity and piety.

Briefly, these top 10 secret keys through which we can achieve tranquility and contentment as well as spiritual, social, and global peace are among the magnificent treasures of the Qur’an and the Sunnah/Prophetic sayings.

Believing in the One True God

To sum up, Islam teaches us through its two main authentic sources: The Qur’an and the Prophetic sayings that we can attain peace of mind, happiness, and salvation, by knowing and believing in the One True God (Allah) willingly and wholeheartedly. We must also believe in all God’s true prophets (including Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) and follow their true guidance and teachings.

Thus, the gateway to a happy, content, and eternal life is through believing in and uttering this testimony:

I testify that there is no god but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Worship

However, Islam tells us that belief alone in God and His prophets is not enough to have peace of mind, happiness, and salvation!

We have to do the will of Allah through worshipping Him alone and keeping His commandments.

Submission

Submission to the will of God is the essence of the message of Allah. Confirming the true meaning of submission to Him and the reward prepared for those who believe and do good deeds, Allah points out in the Qur’an:

Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – they w ill have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging. (Al-Kahf 18:107)

Similarly, the Bible reports the words of Jesus’ brother, James, saying:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead also. (James 2:26)

Interestingly, James (4:7) also referred to the meaning of Islam- submission to God:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:7)

Following the Prophets

Therefore, Muslims are true followers of Jesus and the prophets. A Muslim means a person who submits his or her will to the one true God.

Muslims have faith in Allah (the one true God) and do good deeds. They obey and follow the commandments that Jesus and the prophets taught and did, like believing in one true God, praying, prostrating, kneeling down in worship, fasting, giving alms and charity, saying“ if God wills” (Insha’Allah ), and using the greeting of Jesus and the prophets: “Peace be upon you ” (Asalamu `Alaikum).

These are just some examples and pieces of evidence which clearly indicate the truth, unity, and universality of this great and beautiful religion of all prophets: Islam.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s “Have You Discovered It’s Real Beauty?”

Dr. Naji Al-Arfaj He is the Director of the Inter-Cultural Communication and Dialogue Center in Saudi Arabia. He attended Michigan State University, USA and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in 1995. He spent more than 20 years researching comparative religion. He is the author of several books, and presents radio and TV programs.

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Objectives of Fasting and Ramadan

By Jamaal Diwan

Discussing the objectives of our actions is an important thing because to do so is to discuss the actions in a true and deep way. It is possible that if we do not know why we are doing certain things, we could miss the entire point behind the action itself. So, what are the objectives of fasting in Ramadan?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about this concept, “Maybe a fasting person gains nothing from his fast except hunger and thirst. And maybe a person who prays in the night gains nothing from their Prayer except staying up late.” (At-Tabarani) So this is a person who does an action but gets no result from it.

This is because if someone does an action without knowing why they are doing it or what the objective behind it is, then it is possible that the action will be useless. This is because, as Imam al-Shatibi said, “Actions without objectives are like bodies without souls.” So in this article we will discuss some of the general objectives of fasting and Ramadan.

1. Attaining Taqwa

This is the major objective of fasting in Ramadan as clarified by the Qur’an. God said,

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (muttaqun). (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Fasting also teaches a person how to have taqwa because while one is fasting they are careful about all kinds of things. They watch what comes out of their mouth, what they look at, and all that they do. As a result, the person learns how to have a certain level of restraint regarding their actions. This helps them build their taqwa by making them watchful over everything that they do.

As to the definition of taqwa, the clearest way to understand it is through the definition that was provided by Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him).

Someone came to him and asked, “What is taqwa?” He responded by asking the man if he has ever walked through a thorny road. He said, “Yes.” He asked, “What did you do?” He replied, “Whenever I saw thorns I would avoid them or adjust my clothes to keep them safe.” Abu Hurayrah told him, “That’s taqwa.”

2. Fasting is a Shield

The Prophet said in an authentic hadith (narration) that “fasting is a shield.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Even the word shield in Arabic has the connotation of protection and this is one of the meanings of the word taqwa. The Prophet also said, “O youth! Whosoever amongst you can afford to get married, let them get married. And whoever cannot afford to do so then they should fast because it will help him control his desires.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This protection that fasting gives cannot be accomplished by just reducing one’s food intake because it is the material and immaterial elements of fasting that aide one in controlling themselves. For this reason Imam al-San`ani said about this, “It is for a secret that God put in fasting, so just reducing how much food you eat will not be enough.”

3. Fasting and Patience

Another thing that we should learn in Ramadan is to be patient with what we face in our daily lives. The Prophet said in a hadith, “Fasting the month of patience, and three days of every month is equivalent to fasting the entire year.” (Al-Nasaʾi and Ahmad) In this hadith, the Prophet refers to the month of Ramadan as the month of patience, emphasizing the importance of patience in this month.

It is also said that fasting is half of patience. This is because patience basically consists of staying away from bad deeds and persisting in good deeds. In the month of Ramadan, one of the major things that we seek to do is stay away from as many bad deeds as possible so that our fasting is half of patience.

4. Ramadan is the Month of the Qur’an

In the month of Ramadan, we spend more time with the Qur’an than in any other part of the year. We spend time reading it by ourselves, we spend time studying it, we spend time listening to it during Tarawih Prayers, and so on. In this month, the revelation of the Qur’an began and a civilization of learning and knowledge was born.

5. A Month of Generosity

It is narrated that the Prophet was the most generous of people and his most generous time was Ramadan. In doing this, the Prophet was combining between a personal act of worship, like reading the Qur’an, and a social act of worship, charity. Thereby, he showed what it means to live a comprehensive existence as someone who worships God. In doing so, he shows that our responsibilities are not only limited to ourselves but also include those around us.

6. The Importance of Time

We also learn in Ramadan that time is one of the most important blessings that we have in our lives. The Prophet said, “Two blessings, many people are at a loss regarding them: health and free time.” (Al-Bukhari) The major acts of worship in Islam are all related to specific times. We pay our zakah at a particular time. We pray at specific times. We start fasting at a particular time, in a particular month, and we break our fast at a particular time. We go on hajj at a particular time. All of these specifications are meant to teach us, among other things, the importance of time.

For this reason al-Hasan al-Basri said, “O son of Adam! You are nothing but a compilation of breaths, so every time you inhale and exhale, a piece of you is lost.” The believer is strict with their time and the more a person’s faith increases, the more their observance of their time increases. The responsibilities we have are more than the time we have to carry them out, so we should try to be as strict with our time as possible.

These are just some of the objectives of fasting and Ramadan that we should seek to actualize. We can use these as a measuring stick for our month and see how we add up. If we look throughout and see that we are improving in these aspects then we should thank God for His bounties upon us, and if we find that we are not, then we should seek His forgiveness and grace and work harder.

May Allah accept from us all our good deeds in this month and forgive us for our shortcomings. Ameen.

Note: Most of the this article is taken from an article on the topic that was written by Shaykh al-Raysuni.

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What to Do on the First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah (EDC Video)

By Editorial Staff

About the merits of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days on which righteous deeds are beloved to Allah more than (the righteous deeds on) these 10 days.”

The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except for the case of a man who went out, giving up himself and his wealth for the cause of Allah, and came back with nothing.” (Al-Bukhari)

Make the Best of Dhul-Hijjah

So, how can we make the best of these precious blessed days?

The E-Da`wah Committee (EDC) is pleased to present this short video on the merits of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and the things that every Muslim should do during them.

 

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His Character New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad on the Elimination of all Forms of Racism

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In the sight of Allah, all people are equal.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) upheld justice in his time and rejected the ignorant belief which considered some people superior to others because of their language, race, social status or ethnicity. That is because such discrimination is severely condemned in the Qur’an.

‘Racism,’ as defined in our day, is an idea Allah prohibits in the Qur’an, but which receives extensive support in ignorant societies. As mentioned in the Qur’an, one of the divine purposes in the creation of the different races is “that they should come to know each other”. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Humanity-based

In the sight of Allah, all people are equal, and the only superiority anyone can have over anyone else is his fear of Allah and faith in Him.

The Prophet Muhammad also declared to his people, who committed racism, that ethnic differences had no importance and that everyone was equal in the eyes of Allah.

He repeatedly underlined that all that mattered was having sincere faith. While summoning his people to have faith, the Prophet Muhammad commanded them not to discriminate in his last sermon:

“O people! Your Allah is One and your forefather (Adam) is one. An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety. Indeed the noblest among you is the one who is deeply conscious of Allah.” (Ahmad)

The Prophet Muhammad also told people that Allah created man from nothing, that everyone is created equal and that everyone will give account of his deeds all alone before Allah. For this reason, he added that it would be a great wrong to look for superiority in one’s descent.

The Prophet commanded thus:

(All of) you are children of Adam, and Adam is from dust. Let some men cease to take pride in others.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

He (peace be upon him) stated that no criteria except for heedfulness are acceptable:

“Your descent is nothing to be proud of. Nor does it bring you superiority. O people! All of you are the children of Adam. You are like equal wheat grains in a bowl … No one has any superiority over anyone else, except in religion and heedfulness. In order to consider someone a wicked person, it suffices that he humiliates other people, is mean with money, bad-tempered and exceeds the limits.” (Ahmad)

The Formula… the Qur’an

Throughout his life, the Prophet Muhammad advised his people to set aside their ignorant and perverse values and to live by the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, racist attitudes are defined as “fanatical rage,” and people’s ambitious attitudes are criticized. A related verse reads:

Those who disbelieve filled their hearts with fanatical rage- the fanatical rage of the Time of Ignorance- and Allah sent down serenity to His Messenger and to the believers, and obliged them to respect the formula of heedfulness which they had most right to and were most entitled to. Allah has knowledge of all things. (Al-Fath 48:26)

Muslims who obeyed Allah‘s call in the above verse led their lives in peace and security, both during the blessed period of the first community of Islam and in succeeding ages when just administrators reigned.

In the Period of the Prophet Muhammad, contracts signed with the People of the Book and the pagans secured justice in society.

After the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Medina, he encountered many different communities. At that period, Jews, Christians and pagans who held power were all living together.

Under such circumstances, the Prophet Muhammad united the cosmopolitan structure to secure social unity and peace by making social agreements- either by sending letters or holding face-to-face meetings- with more than a hundred communities, and thus achieved social compromise.

Prof. Thomas Arnold stresses the importance of the social unity established by the Prophet Muhammad in these words: Arabia that had never before obeyed one prince, suddenly exhibits a political unity and swears allegiance to the will of an absolute ruler. Out of the numerous tribes, big and small, of a hundred different kinds that were incessantly at feud with one another, Muhammad’s word created a nation. (Thomas Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World, Goodword Books)

Islam and Other Religions

As is related in many verses in the Qur’an, living in peace with people of other religions is perceived as good by Islam.

In one verse, Allah commands Muslims to believe in all the holy books revealed by Him and respect their beliefs:

So call and go straight as you have been ordered to. Do not follow their whims and desires but say, “I believe in whatever Allah has sent down (in the form) of a Book and I am ordered to be just between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. We have our actions and you have your actions.

There is no debate between us and you. Allah will gather us all together. He is our final destination. (Ash-Shura 42:15)

The above verse describes the relations a Muslim should establish with people of other religions. Muslims are also held responsible for adopting the morality of the Prophet and being compassionate and just towards other people. This person can be anyone, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian or even an atheist.

Such honest and just attitudes will make a very positive impact on their hearts, no matter what or who they believe in- or even if they have no beliefs at all- and they will become a means to make them feel closer to Islam.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”.

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