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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Equality: Its Meaning and Roots in Islam

By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha

Men and women are created equal in their basic humanity, and have all the shared linage and dignity of Allah’s creation and privilege of man over the other creatures of His creation. What does Islam say about equality?

Discrimination due to race, sex, color, lineage, class, region or language is vehemently prohibited in Islam to avoid the artificial barriers between the privileged and underprivileged.

Equality does not mean that all are exactly alike since there is no denial about natural differences. The two genders complement and complete each other. Allah says in the Qur’an:

O mankind! Fear and revere your Lord, Who created you from a single person, created from it its mate, and from them scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; so fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (An-Nisaa’ 4:1)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“O Mankind! Your Lord is One. Your father is one. All of you belong to Adam (peace be upon him). And Adam is created of soil. Truly, the most honorable person in the Sight of Your Lord, the Almighty Allah, is the most pious among you. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab. There is no superiority for a non-Arab over an Arab. There is no superiority for a red (race) person over a white person. Likewise, there is no superiority of a white over a red (race) person, except for the piety and God consciousness.” (Ahmad)

Human-based

All humanity, according to Islam, with all its races, has one original source, so how can some exploit others claiming superiority or special privilege? Islam does not tolerate false pride in lineage and social status. The Messenger of Allah said:

“The Almighty Allah has removed the false pride which was practiced in the pre-Islamic period wherein individuals took false pride in their ancestors. All mankind belongs to Adam. And Adam is created of soil.” (Abu Dawud)

Pride of race and class are rampant in some societies. For example, some Jews and Christians have considered themselves of a higher status, breed, race or class of people.

Allah the Exalted and Almighty has exposed the truth of this arrogance, as He states in the Qur’an:

The Jews and the Christians say: “We are sons of Allah, and His beloved.”  Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are but men, of the men He has created: He forgives whom He pleases, and He punishes whom He pleases: and to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between: and unto Him is the return (of all). (Al-Ma’idah 5:18)

Islam & Racism

The laws of Islam eradicate any misguided basis of racism. For instance, Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) once said to a black slave “O the son of a black lady!” Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah turned to Abu Dharr, and said to him:

“Are you insulting this man with his mother? Truly you possess some of the qualities of the era of Ignorance (pre-Islamic times). That time is finished and over. There is no virtue or merit for the son of a white woman over the son of a black woman, except through piety and righteousness, or by good deeds and actions.” (Ahmad)

It is reported that Abu Dharr upon hearing the comment of the Prophet, put his head down on the ground in humility for the slave to come and step on his head with his foot, as an expiation for his misdeed, although the Prophet did not command him to do so. Abu Dharr wanted to discipline himself by self-humiliation so that he would never repeat such a sin in the future.

In the Sight of Allah

All people in Islam are completely alike and equal in terms of the obligation to perform various acts of worship to Allah. The rich and the poor, the leader and the peasant, the white and the black, the one of dignified means and the one of lower means, all are alike and equal as humans before Allah; the most noble is the most righteous and most sincere and steadfast in worship and good deeds. As the Prophet said:

Allah doesn’t look at your bodies and your colors but at your acts and your hearts (i.e. outward deeds and inward intentions and sincerity.” (Muslim)

All commands of obligation and prohibition are applicable to all without any distinction because of class, social status or race:

Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: nor is Your Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His slaves. (Fussilat 41:46)

The differentiation between individuals in the Sight of Allah is based on their levels of piety, righteousness, and compliance to the Commands of Allah, the Most Beneficent:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the Sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. In addition, Allah has full Knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

All individuals are equal before the Islamic code of law and the appointed Muslim judge. The penalties, judgments and legal sentences are applicable to all races and classes of people without any distinction and without any privileged person acquiring immunity.

Equality in Punishment

One outstanding example will be cited reported that the Quraysh were deeply concerned when a noble woman of the Makhzum clan stole, and Allah’s Messenger wanted to apply the due punishment in her case by amputating her hand. The Quraysh consulted among themselves and said: ‘the best person to talk to the Prophet about the Makhzumi woman thief is his beloved Companion (and the son of his beloved Companion) Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him).’

Therefore they sent Usamah to speak to the Prophet to intercede on behalf of this Makhzumi woman. Upon listening to Usamah, the Prophet  said:

“O Usamah! Are you coming to intercede concerning a punishment set by Allah?” Allah’s Messenger  stood up, as soon as he finished his conversation with Usamah and delivered a speech saying: “The people (or nations) before you were destroyed due to the fact that when a noble person among them would steal, they let him go unpunished, but if a poor, weak and insignificant person among them stole, they would apply the punishment on him. By Allah! If Fatimah ; the daughter of Muhammad stole, I shall cut off her hand.”

None has the right to monopolize, abuse or act for his personal Interest on national resources. All members of the nation have the right to benefit from the national resources, each according to just and equitable rights and obligations.

However, they will not be equal in terms of the work and the benefit they present for the public good. The Islamic government must exert every effort to secure job opportunities for its constituents and organize the utilization of national resources.

Islam declares all people equal in terms of human values yet every individual is rewarded according to what he presents to his society and community. The only distinction between people is on the basis of service that they offer. For instance, it does not look at a hardworking individual and a sluggish individual on equal footing in terms of pay and financial rewards:

To all are degrees (or ranks) according to their deeds: for Your Lord is not unmindful of anything that they do. (Al-An`am 6:132)

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

 

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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

New Muslims: Where and How to Learn Arabic?

There are a few things that one should do when trying to learn the Arabic language:

Arabic quran

Arabic is the language of revelation. Thus, it’s study should be taken very seriously.

Understand that this is the language of revelation. Thus, it’s study should be taken very seriously. The signs of this understanding are the following:

1- A checked intention; meaning, constantly observe your inner state. I’ve seen a lot of Western students show off their latest understanding of tamyiz (discernment). Beware of this quality because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about this type of person, “The Fire! The Fire.”

2- Have a lot of patience. Ibn Malik, the great scholar of grammar (may Allah have mercy upon him) began his famous book the Alfiya (a thousand line poem on grammar) with the line, “Kalamun Lafdhun Mufidun Kastaqim”.

Kastaqim” means to be firm and upright. He opened his blessed poem with that line to say to the student, “Istaqim upon the learning of this language”.

In other words, Arabic, if you really want to grasp its secrets, is not hard, but takes time.

A scholar used to say, “The entrance to Arabic is hard and it’s exit is easy”. Thus, don’t try and over-do things. Once a man had studied for 19 years. He said, “I’ve failed to become a scholar. “What have I learned?” Finally, he decided to leave being a student of knowledge and went back to his village. He sat on a stone well and noticed the rope that held the bucket had warn its way through the stone well.

Suddenly he realized something and said to himself, “Seeking knowledge is like this rope. It takes time, but with patience and focus, a rope can rub through stone”.

3- A lot of supplication: Allah says, “He (Allah) taught men expression”. (Ar-Rahman 55:4)

Thus, you must beg Allah to give you this language.

Remember that learning this language is a means of improving your servitude to Allah. Thus, implore Allah to give it to you.

4- Learning Arabic has a few components:

1) Grammar (Nahw) , Rhetoric (Balagha) and Morphology (Sarf). These are the internal organs of the language, however, know- may Allah have mercy on you, that learning these sciences will give you a technical understanding of the language. Especially if you learn from the classical texts (mutun) in the beginning. Thus, most teachers advise students to start with more basic books, which are current in content, and then later move on to the mutun.

2) Speaking, writing and expression: This is usually the last thing to come.

Arabic letters

Remember that learning this language is a means of improving your servitude to Allah.

But, once one has it, they should praise Allah in abundance because they are expressing themselves in the language of the Qur’an, the language of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the language of “ahl al-Jannah” (the people of Paradise).

I would advise our brothers to begin and communicate with others as often as possible. Although you’ll make mistakes, and we all do, keep trying. Once, I was sitting with a group of Malaysian students from Al-Azhar. They were very strong in the Arabic and I noticed that they only spoke Arabic. I asked one of them, “Mashallah, what is going on with you brothers?” He told me, “We love to make mistakes in Arabic more than speaking our own language correctly.” Thus, you must practice, practice, practice. What you fail to use, will fail you when you need it.

As per your study I would do the following:

1- Leave the classical books until you can understand them and read them with a teacher. The best books I’ve found for learning how to talk are, believe it or not, children’s books. Their language is always great and there are a lot of conversations which will serve as a great assistant for you in the future.

2- Use a common text book that teaches Arabic such as Kitabul Asassi, the University of Medina series and many others.

3- Try to study in a center in an Arab country. It is very important to remember that a language is a culture. Thus, while living in the culture you will learn the expression of the language in its natural state.

4- Work hard

Finally, I would try and memorize some Qur’an and Hadith. Both, and the Qur’an more so, are a means of giving you fasaha (eloquence).

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Source: Suhaibwebb.com

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FEATURED New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: The Emancipator of Women’s Rights

In the seventh century Arabia women didn’t have a ranked status or any rights. After Islam, and because the Prophet’s intervention they were treated as equals, given rights.

He (peace be upon him) is a raw model for all Muslims around the world, including women.

The Inspired by Muhammad campaign was designed to improve the public understanding of Islam and Muslims. It showcased Britons demonstrating how Muhammad inspired them to contribute to society, with a focus on women’s rights, social justice and the environment.

In this video, Shaista Aziz, a writer and journalist, talks about how the Prophet’s significant contribution to women’s rights inspired her…

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FEATURED New Muslims

New Muslim Guide

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Click to DOWNLOAD the New Muslim Guide

We would like to welcome all the brothers and sisters who have taken the decision and found their way to Islam. We welcome you all to the fold of Islam.

At this critical and turning point in your life, we present you this “New Muslim Guide” which will help you live your life as a true Muslim and embrace Islam in your daily life.

Have taken the courageous step of submitting to the will of God, you , through devotion to Him alone, are truly free and able to fill the void in your life; to lead a life of devotion to Him, and still enjoy life.

The New Muslim Guide includes materials in the form of PDF books, audio and video files which will help you get to know more about Islam.

Click here to DOWNLOAD the guide.

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His Character New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad on the Elimination of all Forms of Racism

nature

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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His Character New Muslims

Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation

Most traditionists report that the Prophet entered Makkah on the twentieth or twenty-first of Ramadan of the eighth year of hijrah (630 CE).

The Day of Mercy

moderation_nature

The Prophet taught his Companions not only to forgive, but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) had segmented his army into divisions that encircled the city (Makkah) and closed in on the center together. A few Quraish groups posted themselves on the hills, led by Suhayl, `lkrimah, and Safwan, but after the first confrontations, they realized that resisting was pointless.

Suhayl sought refuge in his home, and `Ikrimah and Safwan ran away. The Prophet had demanded that no fighting or battle should take place on that day, which he called “the day of mercy”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Some eight years before, the Prophet had left Makkah secretly, but with dignity and with his head held high. The Prophet now came back to Makkah in broad daylight, victorious, but this time he prostrated himself on his mount in thankfulness to the One as he recited the verses from the Surat “AI-Fath” (The Victory):

Verily We have granted you a manifest victory, that God may forgive you your faults of the past and those to follow, fulfill His favor to you, and guide you on the straight path, and that God may aid you with powerful help. It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith. (Al-Fath 48:1-4)

He entered Makkah expressing the deepest humility, and he required that the greatest kindness should be shown to the Muslims’ former foes. He performed the greater ablution and prayed eight cycles of voluntary ritual prayer before resting for a few hours.

After that, he mounted his camel, Qaswaa’, and went to the Ka`bah sanctuary, where he performed the seven rounds of circumambulation. Then, with his stick, he pulled down the idols and destroyed them while repeating the Qur’anic verse “Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish.” (Al-Israa’  17:8 1)

He had the keys to the sanctuary brought to him and required that all religious images be obliterated, in order to reconcile the House of God with its essence, which was to celebrate the worship of the One, Who cannot be represented and must not be associated with any image:

There is nothing whatever like Him, and He is the One that hears and sees. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

This gesture of destruction by the Prophet was, in appearance, the exact antithesis of all that he had usually been doing since leaving Makkah, as he had had mosques (devoid of any image) built to mark the sacred space of worship of the One God.

On the level of the spiritual message, however, this gesture was exactly of the same essence, since by breaking the idols that lay inside and near the Ka`bah he was destroying what had, in the course of centuries, perverted the cult of the Transcendent.

With this act Muhammad turned the Ka`bah into a real mosque, in which henceforth only the One was to be worshiped.

The Quraish people were gradually coming out of their homes and gathering inside the sanctuary enclosure. After destroying the idols, the Prophet exclaimed: “There is no god but God, the One, Who has no partner.”

He has fulfilled His promise, supported His servant, and routed the enemy clans; He alone (has done that). (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Then he turned toward the Quraish, told them about the rules of Islam, and recited this verse:

O humankind! He created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you (the most deeply aware of God’s presence). And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

After that, he asked them “how they thought he was going to deal with them. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah) They replied that as “a noble brother, son of a noble brother,” he would certainly deal with them kindly. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Forgiveness and Moderation

At that point, the Prophet recited the verse that punctuates the story of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) when he was reunited with his brothers, who had wanted to kill him: “This day let no reproach be (cast) On you: God will forgive you, and He is the Most-merciful of then who show mercy.” (Yusuf 12:92). Then he exclaimed: “Go on, you are free!” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

The Prophet granted his forgiveness to all the women and men who came to him or to a Companion. Wahshi ibn Harb, who had killed Hamzah, was also forgiven, but the Prophet asked him to refrain from appearing in his presence in the future.

Many Quraish converted to Islam on Mount As-Safa in front of `Umar; some years before, the Prophet had been called a liar on that same spot. When `Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl came to the Prophet, the latter warned his Companion: “`lkrimah, Abu Jahl’s son, is coming to you as a believer. Do not insult his father, for insulting the dead hurts the living without reaching the dead.”

He thus reminded them not only to forgive him but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes. not even their father’s, according to the meaning of the Qur’anic verse “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”. ( Al-Israa’ 17:15) Prudence was required, as well as nobleness of soul.

The Prophet stayed in Makkah for two weeks, and the situation been to settle down. He sent expeditions to make sure that his alliances with the nearby tribes were solid and that those who had announced they accepted Islam had given up all idol worship.

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed had been entrusted with such a mission among the Banu Jadhimah, who eventually surrendered, but Khalid decided, against Abd Ar-Rahman ibn `Awf advice, to execute the prisoners toward whom he harbored particular resentment.

After executing some of them, he stopped at Abd Ar-Rahman’s insistence, the latter having made it dear to him that his behavior was motivated by other intentions than faith in God and justice. The Prophet got very angry when he heard of Khalid’s behavior; he decided to pay blood money for all the dead, and he kept repeating aloud: “0 God, I am innocent of what Khalid ibn Al-Waleed has done”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

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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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