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New Muslims New Muslims' Experiences

Why Baba Ali accepted ISLAM?

Baba Ali who was formerly a Wiccan, went through many faces in his life. When his father was on his deathbed, Baba Ali realized that life is short and that he has to take his search for the truth more seriously. Baba Ali is now a Muslim. Watch as he narrates his journey to Islam.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Blessed to Be Muslim

At every stage of his enquiry his God-consciousness will save him from making evil and destructive uses of science and the scientific methods.

At every stage of his enquiry his God-consciousness will save him from making evil and destructive uses of science and the scientific methods.

You find in the world around you and in the small kingdom of your own self innumerable manifestations of God’s divine power. This grand universe, which ceaselessly works with matchless order and in accordance with unalterable laws, is in itself a witness to the fact that its Designer, Creator and Governor is an Omnipotent, All-Powerful Being with infinite power, knowledge and resources, a Being of perfect wisdom, Whom nothing in the universe dares to disobey.

Besides endowing man with the capacity to acquire knowledge, the faculty to think and reflect, and the ability to distinguish right from wrong, God has granted man a certain amount of freedom of will and action. In this freedom lies man’s real trial; his knowledge, his wisdom, his power of discrimination and his freedom of will and action are all being tried and tested.

Man has not been obliged to adopt any particular course, for by compulsion the very purpose of the trial would have been in vain. If in an examination you are compelled to write a certain answer to a question, the examination will be of no use.

Your merit can be properly judged only if you are allowed to answer questions freely, according to your own knowledge and understanding. If your answer is correct you will succeed; if it is wrong you will fail, and your failure will bar the way to further progress.

The situation which man faces is similar. God has given him freedom of will and action so that he may choose whatever attitude in life he likes and considers proper for himself; Islam or kufr (disbelief).

By the correct use of his knowledge and intellect a man recognizes his Creator, reposes belief in Him, and, in spite of being under no compulsion to do so, chooses the path of obedience to Him. He understands both his own nature and the laws and realities of nature itself; despite the power and freedom to adopt any course, he adopts the way of obedience and loyalty to God, the Creator.

The Successful

He is successful in his trial because he has used his intellect and all other faculties properly. He uses his eyes to see the reality, his ears to listen to the truth and his mind to form right opinions. He puts all his heart and soul into following the right way he has so chosen. He chooses truth, sees the reality, and willingly and joyfully submits to his Lord and Master. He is intelligent, truthful and dutiful, for he has chosen light over darkness.

Thus, he has proved by his conduct that he is not only a seeker after truth but is the knower and worshipper as well. Such a man is on the right path, and is destined to succeed in this world and in the world to come.

Such a man will always choose the right path in every field of knowledge and action. The man who knows God with all His attributes knows the beginning as well as the ultimate end of reality.

He can never be led astray, for his first step is on the right path, and he is sure of the direction and destination of his journey in life. He will reflect on the secrets of the universe, and will try to fathom the mysteries of nature, but he will not lose his way in mazes of doubt and skepticism. His path being illumined with divine vision, his every step will be in the right direction.

In science he will endeavor to learn the laws of nature and uncover the hidden treasures of the earth for the betterment of humanity. He will try his best to explore all avenues of knowledge and power and to harness all that exists on earth and in the heavens in the interests of mankind.

Against Suspicion and Illusion

At every stage of his enquiry his God-consciousness will save him from making evil and destructive uses of science and the scientific methods. He will never think of himself as the master of all these objects, boasting to be the conqueror of nature, arrogating to himself godly and sovereign powers and nourishing the ambition of subverting the world, subduing the human race and establishing his supremacy over all and sundry by fair means or foul.

Such an attitude of revolt and defiance can never be entertained by a Muslim scientist -only a kafir (disbeliever) scientist can fall prey to such illusions and, by submitting to them, expose the entire human race to the danger of total destruction and annihilation.

A Muslim scientist, on the other hand, will behave in an altogether different way. The deeper his insight into the world of science, the stronger will be his faith in God. His head will bow down before His God in gratitude. His feelings will be that as his Master has blessed him with greater power and knowledge so he must exert himself for his own good and for the good of humanity.

Instead of arrogance there will be humility. Instead of power drunkenness there will be a strong realization of the need to serve humanity. His freedom will not be unbridled. He will be guided by the tenets of morality and divine revelation.

The Criteria

Thus science will in his hands, instead of becoming an instrument of destruction, become an agency for human welfare and moral regeneration. And this is the way in which he will express his gratitude to his Master for the gifts and blessings He has bestowed on man.

Similarly, in history, economics, politics, law and other branches of arts and science, a Muslim will nowhere lag behind a Kafir in the fields of inquiry and struggle, but their angles of view and consequently their modus operandi will be widely different. A Muslim will study every branch of knowledge in its true perspective. He will strive to arrive at the right conclusions.

In history he will draw correct lessons from the past experiences of man, and will uncover the true causes of the rise and fall of civilizations. He will try to benefit from all that was good and right in the past and will scrupulously avoid all that led to the decline and fall of nations.

In politics his sole objective will be to strive for the establishment of policies where peace, justice, fraternity and goodness reign, where man is a brother of man and respects his humanity, where no exploitation or slavery is rampant, where the rights of the individual are upheld, and where the powers of the state are considered as a sacred trust from God and are used for the common welfare of all.

In the field of law, the endeavor of a Muslim will be to make it the true embodiment of justice and the real protector of the rights of all particularly of the weak. He will see that everybody gets his due share and no injustice or oppression is inflicted on anyone. He will respect the law, make others respect it, and will see that it is administered equitably.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Shari`ah (Islamic Law): The Whole Picture of Islam

By Abul A`la Mawdudi

Shari`ah Law

God has provided man with all the means and resources to make his natural faculties function and to achieve the fulfillment of his needs.

Our discussion of the fundamentals of Islam will remain incomplete if we do not cast a glance over the law of Islam, study its basic principles, and try to visualize the type of man and society which Islam wants to produce. Here we undertake a study of the principles of the Shari`ah (Islamic Law) so that our picture of Islam may become complete and we may be able to appreciate the superiority of the Islamic way of life.

Shari`ah… Its Nature and Purport

Man has been endowed with countless powers and faculties and providence has been very bountiful to him in this respect. He possesses intellect and wisdom, will and volition, faculties of sight, speech, taste, touch and hearing, powers of hand and feet, passions of love, fear, anger and so on. These faculties have been bestowed on him because they are indispensable to him.

His very life and success depend on the proper use of these powers for the fulfillment of his needs and requirements. These God-given powers are meant for his service and unless they are used in full measure life cannot become worth living.

God has also provided man with all those means and resources to make his natural faculties function and to achieve the fulfillment of his needs. The human body has been so made that it has become man’s greatest instrument in his struggle for the fulfillment of his life’s goal.

Then there is the world in which man lives. His environment and surroundings contain resources of every description: resources which he uses as a means for the achievement of his ends. Nature and all that belongs to it have been harnessed for him and he can make every conceivable use of them.

And there are other men of his own kind, so that they may co-operate with each other in the construction of a better and prosperous life.

These powers and resources have been conferred so that they may be used for the good of others. They have been created for your good and are not meant to harm and destroy you.

The proper use of these powers is that which makes them beneficial to you; and even if there be some harm, it must not exceed the unavoidable minimum. That alone is the proper utilization of these powers. Every other use which results in waste or destruction is wrong, unreasonable and unjustified.

For instance, if you do something that causes you harm or injury, that would be a mistake, pure and simple. If your actions harm others and make you a nuisance to them, that would be sheer folly and an utter misuse of God-given powers. If you waste resources, spoil them for nothing or destroy them that too is a gross mistake.

Such activities are flagrantly unreasonable, for it is human reason which suggests that destruction and injury must be avoided and the path of gain and profit be pursued. And if any harm be countenanced, it must be only in such cases where it is unavoidable and where it is bound to yield a greater benefit.

Any deviation from this is self-evidently wrong. Keeping this basic consideration in view, when we look at human beings, we find that there are two kinds of people: first, those who knowingly misuse their powers and resources and through this misuse waste the resources, injure their own vital interests, and cause harm to other people; and, second, those who are sincere and earnest but err because of ignorance.

Those who intentionally misuse their powers are wicked and evil and deserve to feel the full weight of the law. Those who err because of ignorance, need proper knowledge and guidance so that they see the Right Path and make the best use of their powers and resources. And the code of behavior, the Shari`ah – which God has revealed to man – meets this very need.

The Ultimate Goal

The Shari`ah stipulates the law of God and provides guidance for the regulation of life in the best interests of man. Its objective is to show the best way to man and provide him with the ways and means to fulfill his needs in the most successful and most beneficial way.

The law of God is out and out for your benefit. There is nothing in it which tends to waste your powers, or to suppress your natural needs and desires, or to kill your moral urges and emotions. It does not plead for asceticism. It does not say: abandon the world, give up all ease and comfort of life, leave your homes and wander about on plains and mountains and in jungles without bread or cloth, putting yourself to inconvenience and self-annihilation.

This viewpoint has no relevance to the law of Islam, a law that has been formulated by God Who has created this world for the benefit of mankind.

The Shari`ah has been revealed by that very God Who has harnessed everything for man. He would hardly want to ruin His creation. He has not given man any power that is useless or unnecessary, nor has He created anything in the heavens and the earth which may not be of service to man.

It is His explicit will that the universe – this grand workshop with its multifarious activities – should go on functioning smoothly and graciously so that man – the prize of creation – should make the best and most productive use of all his powers and resources, of everything that has been harnessed for him on earth and in the high heavens. He should use them in such a way that he and his fellow human beings may reap handsome prizes from them and should never, intentionally or unintentionally, be of any harm to God’s creation.

The Shari`ah is meant to guide the steps of man in this respect. It forbids all that is harmful to man, and allows or ordains all that is useful and beneficial to him.

The fundamental principle of the Law is that man has the right, and in some cases the bounden duty, to fulfill all his genuine needs and desires and make every conceivable effort to promote his interests and achieve success and happiness – but (and it is an important ‘but’) he should do all this in such a way that not only are the interests of other people not jeopardized and no harm is caused to their strivings towards the fulfillment of their rights and duties, but there should be all possible social cohesion, mutual assistance and co-operation among human beings in the achievement of their objectives.

In respect of those things in which good and evil, gain and loss are inextricably mixed up, the tenet of this law is to choose a little harm for the sake of greater benefit and sacrifice a little benefit, so avoiding a greater harm. This is the basic approach of the Shari`ah.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

 

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

How Do We Know the True Religion?

By Hammudah Abd Al-Ati

Throughout history religion has been abused and misunderstood. Some people use it as a means of exploitation and suppression, as a pretext for prejudice and persecution. Some other people use it as a source of power and domination over the elite and the masses alike. But is that the true religion?

In the name of religion unjustifiable wars have been launched, freedom of thought and conscience has been oppressed, science has been persecuted, the right of the individual to maturity has been denied, and man’ s dignity and honor have been flagrantly debased. And in the name of religion an injustice has been inflicted upon humanity with the result that religion itself has suffered many losses.

These are historical facts which no one can deny. But is this the proper function of religion or the right approach to religion? Could this be the purpose of religion?

The indisputable answer is an emphatic no. There are many religions in the world, and each one claims to be the one and only true religion. Each religion is supposed to have come from God for the right guidance of man.

But these claims contradict each other and have caused dissensions among people and vehement reactions to religion – instead of welding mankind into one universal brotherhood under the One Universal Benevolent God.

This situation makes any neutral observer confused and perhaps averse to all kinds of religion.

The Islamic …”Religion”

The Islamic concept of religion is unique in the broadest sense of the word. It is true that genuine religion must come from God for the right guidance of man. And it is equally true that human nature and major human needs are basically the same at all times.

This conception leads to one conclusion, and that is: There is only one true religion coming from the One and the Same God, to deal with the outstanding human problems of all times.

This religion is “Islam”. But it should be borne in mind that Islam was taught by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone. On the contrary, Islam had been taught by all the prophets before Muhammad, and the true followers of Abraham and Moses as well as those of Jesus and the rest were all called “Muslims”.

So Islam has been, and will continue to be, the true universal religion of God, because God is one and changeless, and because human nature and major human needs are fundamentally the same, irrespective of time and place, of race and age, and of any other considerations.

The True Religion

Bearing this in mind, the Islamic concept maintains that religion is not only a spiritual and intellectual necessity but also a social and universal need. It is not to bewilder man but to guide him. It is not to debase him but to elevate his moral nature.

It is not to deprive him of anything useful, or to burden him, or to oppress his qualities but to open for him inexhaustible treasures of sound thinking and right action. It is not confine him to narrow limits but to launch him into wide horizons of truth and goodness.

In short, true religion is to acquaint man with God as well as with himself and the rest of the universe. This is by no means an oversimplification of the function of religion. Here is what it means.

When the purpose of true religion is carefully examined, it will be found that religion satisfies the spiritual and moderate material needs of man. It unties his psychological knots and complexes, sublimates his instincts and aspirations, and disciplines his desires and the whole course of life. It improves his knowledge of God – the Highest Truth in the universe, and of his own self.

It teaches him about the secrets of life and the nature of man and how to treat them, about good and evil, about right and wrong.

It purifies the soul from evil, clears the mind from doubts, strengthens the character and corrects the thinking and convictions of man. All this can be achieved only when man faithfully observes the spiritual duties and physical regulations introduced by religion.

The True Purpose

On the other hand, true religion educates man and trains him in hope and patience, in truthfulness and honesty, in love for the right and good, in courage and endurance, all of which are required for the mastery of the great art of living.

Moreover, true religion insures man against fears and spiritual losses, and assures him of God’s aid and unbreakable alliance. It provides man with peace and security and makes his life meaningful.

That is what true religion can do for humanity, and that is the concept of religion in Islam.

Any religion which fails to bear these fruits is not Islam or rather, is not religion at all, and any man who fails to draw these benefits from religion is not religious or God-minded. God is absolutely true when He says in the Qur’an:

Verily the religion with God is Islam. Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of God, God is swift in calling to account. (Aal `Imran 3:19).

And if anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (Aal `Imran 3:85)

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The article is excerpted from Dr. Hammudah’s well-known book “Islam in Focus”.

 

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Categories
New Muslims Society

What Does Hijab Mean to Yasmin Mogahed?

Yasmin Mogahed is an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development.

Mogahed wore the hijab when she was between thirteen and fourteen years old.

What did motivate Mogahed to wear the hijab at that age? What change did hijab bring to her life? How did it impact her view of the world, her Islamic identity, and her identity as a Muslim “woman”? How did it impact other acts of worship?

What does hijab mean to her? How has the meaning of hijab evolved for her over time? How did she find her path to God through the hijab?

What challenges has she faced with hijab? What is her advice for women regarding the hijab?

Watch the interview her with Yasmin Mogahed by AlMaghrib Institute

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New Muslims Society

On World Hijab Day: Stand for Her Right to Cover

World Hijab Day (WHD) is an annual event in its fifth year. On February 1st of every year, WHD asks global citizens of all faiths to observe Hijab (head-covering) for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.

Hijab Day

The overall mission of WHD is to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other.

Hijab Day…the Mission

The overall mission of WHD is to create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other. Particularly, WHD focuses on fighting bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice against Muslim women. This is most crucial in these times where Hijab is being banned in some countries while in other countries, Muslim women are being targeted and harassed verbally and physically.

Below are some of the shocking but true headlines:

Muslim Women Have Been Attacked at Multiple Colleges Since Trump Won (Vice)
Queens Muslim Woman 19: Pair Yelled Remove Hijab (NY Daily News)
Muslim High School Teacher Told Hang Yourself With Hijab (NY Daily News)
Muslim Girl’s Hijab Ripped Off in Front of Students (Times of India)
UW Bothwell Investigating Possible Hate Crime Against Muslim Women (Seattle Times)
California Woman Robbed Called Hijab-Wearing B* (NY Daily News)

New York State assemblyman David Weprin issued an endorsement of World Hijab Day stating: “With hate crimes against Muslim-Americans tripling in 2016, it is important we take this moment to stand together with our fellow Americans on World Hijab Day. Rooted in the American principles of religious freedom and liberty, the World Hijab Day movement seeks to end the discrimination and judgment that comes with wearing a hijab.”

Nazma Khan

Nazma Khan, a New York native, initiated this global movement with the intent of bringing awareness on a subject that’s very dear to her and millions of Muslim women across the globe. While growing up in NYC, she was harassed both physically and emotionally on numerous occasions.

The presence of such discrimination heightened around 9/11 because of her human right to wear the hijab. Her purpose was to introduce her pain to others in hopes that no one will ever have to go through the emotional trauma simply because of the love they have for their faith. Consequently, on February 1st, 2013, she asked her fellow sisters of all faiths across the globe to don the hijab for one day.

Within eight days, she got responses from women residing in 67 different countries that represented a conglomerate of religious backgrounds, to include Christians, Jewish, Pagans, Wiccans, Rastafarians, Buddhists, Atheists etc. WHD gave an opportunity to citizens worldwide who were not familiar with the Islamic faith to open up dialogues with their Muslim neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

Additionally, WHD presented an opportunity for teachers to understand why their Muslim students wear the hijab. It also provided non-Muslim mothers a chance to better understand their daughter’s faith and the decision to wear hijab.

Conquer the Fear

The negative perception on hijab allowed people to act upon their fears and hurt innocent women without a real and existing threat. WHD simply presented an opportunity for everyone to learn about hijab and its importance in the Islamic faith without perpetuating the negative generalizations in today’s society.

WHD has thousands of volunteers worldwide and 70+ WHD Ambassadors from over 45 countries. WHD Ambassadors come from all walks of life from a high school student to a Congresswoman in the Philippines. Last year alone, 150 countries partook in WHD.

In addition to that, WHD has been endorsed by many world renowned individuals including scholars, politicians, and celebrities worldwide. WHD was covered in mainstream news media including New York Times, BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Huffington Post, etc to name a few. Recently, Time Magazine listed World Hijab Day in their world calendar, The Year Ahead 2017. It is estimated 190 countries will take part in WHD’17.

I participated in World Hijab Day and it was a good experience that I will repeat. I live in a very small, very Christian town.  There were some strange looks and people were staring at me – and then looking away quickly when they realized I saw them looking. A few people seemed surprised that I spoke English. The fact that I was wearing hijab gave me the opportunity to talk to my step children about respect, difference, and peace.” (Talya Leodari -Jewish, USA)

Stand for Her…How?

We must STAND for Muslim women’s right to cover. There are many ways to show your solidarity.
*Attend the WHD event on Facebook and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/357711751248489
*Observe Hijab on Feb. 1st, 2017
*Use the hashtags: #IStand4Hijab and #WorldHijabDay
*Organize a WHD event in your community.
*Send emails or letters to local Mosques/religious congregations showing your support.
*Write letters to local officials about protecting Muslim women’s right to cover.

For more information or to support our campaign, go to http://worldhijabday.com

In the following video Nazma Khan tells us about the persecution she faced due to her hijab and why she started World Hijab Day..

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Source: worldhijabday.com and Rad Talks youtube channel

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Categories
Divine Unity New Muslims

God’s Plan for Man: Why Are We Here?

What is God’s plan for our lives? From among all creation why was man created? What are we meant to be and do on earth? What is the essence and vision of our identity as human beings?

plan

It was this religion (Islam) which Adam, the first man, passed down to posterity.

Allah Who is the Creator, the Ruler and the Lord of the entire universe has created man and provided him with temporary station in that part of His vast kingdom (cosmos) which is known as the earth.

He has endowed man with the faculties of thinking and understanding, and has given him the power to distinguish right from wrong. Man has also been invested with freedom of will and choice and the power to use the resources of the world in any manner he likes. In short, man has been given a sort of autonomy while being appointed by God on earth as a successor to the beings that had previously populated it.

The Plan…

Before assigning to man the inheritance of the earth, God made it explicitly clear to him that He alone is the Lord, the Ruler and the Deity. As such, the entire universe and all the creatures in it (including man) must submit to Him alone. Man must not think himself totally free and should know that this earth is not his permanent abode.

He has been made to live upon it only during the period of his probation, and in due course, he will return to his Lord, to be judged according to the way he has utilized the period of probation. The only right course for man is to acknowledge Allah as the only Lord, the Sustainer and the Deity and to follow His guidance and His commands in all walks of life.

Man must live this life with the realization that he is to be judged and his sole objective should be to merit the pleasure of Allah so as to emerge successful in the final test. Conduct which is contrary to this would lead man astray.

If man follows the course of piety and godliness (which he is free to choose and follow) he will succeed in this world and in the next, in this world he will live a life of peace and contentment, and in the Hereafter he will qualify himself for the heaven of eternal bliss, Al-Jannah (Paradise).

And if he chooses to follow the other course, i.e., that of Godlessness and evil (which he is equally free to choose and follow) his life will be one of corruption, disruption and frustration in this world and he will meet colossal misfortune in the life to come – that abode of pain and misery which is called Jahannam (Hell).

After administering the warning, God set man upon the earth and provided the very first human beings (Adam and Eve) with guidance in accordance with which men were to live on the earth.

Origin of Deviation

Thus, man’s life on this earth did not begin in utter darkness. The very first man was provided with a burning torch of light and guidance so that humanity might attain its glorious destiny. The very first man received revealed knowledge from God Himself. He had knowledge of the reality and was given the code of life by following which he could live a life of bliss and success.

This code of life was Islam, the attitude of complete submission to Allah, the Creator of man and of the whole universe. It was this religion which Adam, the first man, passed down to posterity. But later generations gradually drifted away from the right path and adopted different erroneous paths.

Because of negligence, they lost the original teachings, or due to folly or mischief they adulterated and perverted them. They associated with God innumerable human beings, non-human objects and imaginary entities as deities and indulged in shirk (polytheism) of the worst type.

They mixed up the pure teachings of God with strange myths, ideas and philosophies and thus produced a jungle of religions and cults. They discarded the God-given principles of social ethics and collective morality, the Shari’ah, and deprived the human life of peace and tranquility.

The Guidance.. the Message

Although men departed from the path of truth, disregarded and distorted the Shari`ah and some of them even revolted against the code of divine guidance, yet God did not destroy them or force them to the right course. Forced conversion to the right path was not in keeping with the autonomy He had given to man.

Instead, God appointed certain virtuous persons from amongst the people themselves, to discharge the responsibility of recalling and guiding men to the right path during their sojourn on the earth.

These men believed in God, and lived a life of obedience to Him. He honored them by His revelations and gave them the knowledge of reality. These men, known as prophets (peace be upon all of them), were assigned the task of presenting the message of truth to humanity and of asking the people to come to the path of the Lord.

These prophets were raised in all epochs, in all lands and in all nations. Out of numerous prophets sent by God, the Qur’an explicitly mentions twenty-five. All of them brought the same message, all of them advocated the same way of life (deen) i.e., the way which was revealed to man on the first day of his existence.

All of them followed the same guidance: the guidance which was prescribed by the Lord for man at the outset of his career on the earth. All of them stood for the same mission: they called men to the religion if Islam, asked those who accepted the divine guidance to live in accordance with it: and organized them into a movement for the establishment of the divine law, and for putting an end to all deviations from the right path.

Every prophet tried to fulfill this mission in the best possible way. But quite a number of people never accepted this guidance and many of those who accepted it gradually drifted astray and, al lapse of time, lost the guidance or distorted it through innovations and perversions.

The Last Message

At last, God raised Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the land of Arabia and assigned to him the completion of the mission for which earlier prophets were ordained.

The message of Muhammad was for the whole of mankind. He presented anew the teachings of Islam in their pristine form and provided mankind once again, with the divine guidance which they had lost in its original form.

He organized all those who accepted his message into one Ummah (nation) which was charged with reconstructing its own life in accordance with the teachings of Islam, by calling mankind to the path of righteousness and with establishing the supremacy of the word of God on the earth. This guidance is enshrined in the Qur’an which constitutes the only right code of conduct for mankind.

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

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Categories
New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

The Qur’an: To Start from the Beginning

By Haya Muhammad Eid

Al-fatihah

Short and concise as it is, Al-Fatihah adroitly contains the totality of the Islamic creed

Reading the Qur’an gives the feeling that the speaker is all around, seeing and hearing everything; all-knowing of us – every feeling, every thought, every memory, every good or evil tendency; all-knowing of the heavens and earth – every atom, every breath of air, every grain of sand, every fruit on every tree; and all-knowing of the past, present, and future – every moment, every event, every detail:

He knows what enters into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the sky and what ascends to it. He is with you wherever you may be. And Allah  is the All-Seer of what you do. (Al-Hadid 57:4-6)

The tone is that of supreme authority, full lordship, and absolute sufficiency:

Allah, there is no god except Him, the Ever Living, the Self-Sufficient Master Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

Despite its grandeur and majesty, the Qur’an does not evoke a sense of distance or strangeness, but rather affinity with the divine words because of their familiarity with human nature, its needs, its fears, its pains, and its desires:

Indeed, We (Allah) have created the human, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Qaf 50:16)

Reading and rereading it, each time with more purpose and focus, eventually forms a rope safely tying us to our Creator, as depicted by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“Truly, this Qur’an is a rope; one end of it is in Allah’s Hand and the other end is in yours. Hold fast to it. Indeed, you will never go astray or be ruined after it (after holding on to it).”  (Ibn Hibban)

Al-Fatihah

In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Al-Fatihah (the Opening) is so named because it is the chapter with which the Qur’an begins. It is also named Umm Al-Qur’an (the Mother of the Qur’an) and As-Sab`-ul-Mathani (Seven Oft-recited Verses).

Short and concise as it is, this Qur’anic chapter adroitly contains the totality of the Islamic creed, which reveals the wisdom behind the divine ruling that Al-Fatihah be recited in every unit of salah (prayer) and the invalidity of salah without it.

“In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful.”

The start of anything, as Allah guides, should be in His name; everything in this universe is in His name and happens by His will and permission. Starting any action with Allah’s Name means taking Him as one’s helper and supporter in that action.

The mention of Allah’s name is accompanied by His two sublime Attributes, the All-Merciful and the Ever-Merciful, as a constant reminder of the open doors of His mercy; thus, no one should feel unwelcome.

“Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence.”

Coming into existence out of nothing is a bounty from the Lord of existence, Who gives to all, and takes nothing for Himself. With every breath, His endless and continuous blessings flow by day and night, which can render the tongue speechless, at a loss for the right words. But Allah teaches that thanking Him is done with only two words, “Alhamdu lillah” (Praise be to Allah). This is a favor in itself.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) expressed the human inability to fully thank our Creator, when he said: “I cannot praise You enough. You are as You have praised Yourself.” (Muslim)

“The Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment.”

This is what gives balance to the whole world. Without it, the world would be a jungle. Without it, human life could not be elevated. Only through belief in the Day of Judgment can hearts find rest; what humans receive in this world is not their final portion. There is a world to come that is worth striving for, unrestricted by the limits of a lifetime or the scope of this earth.

Believers and disbelievers in this Day are not the same in their emotions, thoughts, behavior, or actions. Their attitude towards it splits them into two totally different types of people. Believers rarely lose sight of their inevitable meeting with Allah and retain Him in their thoughts and actions, for they know they will be judged. Disbelievers do not have Allah in any of their thoughts or actions. About them, Allah says:

As for those who disbelieve, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it to be nothing. Instead he finds Allah before him, Who will pay him in full his due. And Allah is swift in account. (An-Nur 24:39)

“It is You we worship, and You we ask for help.”

As long as people worship only their Creator and seek only His Help, they are free and immune to subjugation by regimes, circumstances, or other humans. They will not fall prey to superstitions, myths, or fancies. Filled with feelings of submission to and reliance on Allah alone, Muslims live in this world free, with no fear of – or for – anything. They bow to Allah (Exalted be He) with humility and stand with their heads raised before everything else.

“Guide us to the Straight Path.”

This is the first and most important supplication a believer can pray for to continue to adhere to and practice Allah’s true religion, Islam, to attain happiness in this life and the next.

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The article is excerpted from the Book “A Brief Tour through the Qur’an” by Haya Muhammad Eid, edited by Emily Richardson. To read or download the book click here.

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

The Qur’an: A Message for All & for Each One in Particular

quran

The Qur’an makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning.

For Muslims the Qur’an stands as the text of reference, the source and the essence of the message transmitted to humanity by the Creator. It is the last of a lengthy series of revelations addressed to humans down through history. It is the Word of God – but it is not God.

The Qur’an makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning.

Reminder for All

The Qur’an is remembrance of all previous messages, those of Noah and Abraham, of Moses and Jesus. Like them, it reminds and instructs our consciousness: life has meaning, facts are signs.

It is the Book of all Muslims the world over. But paradoxically, it is not the first book someone seeking to know Islam should read. (A life of the Prophet or any book presenting Islam would be a better introduction.) For it is both extremely simple and deeply complex. The nature of the spiritual, human, historical and social teachings to be drawn from it can be understood at different levels. The text is one, but its readings are multiple.

For the woman or the man whose heart has made the message of Islam its own, the Qur’an speaks in a singular way. It is both the voice and the path. God speaks to one’s innermost being, to his consciousness, to his heart, and guides him onto the path that leads to knowledge of him, to the meeting with him:

This is the Book, about it there can be no doubt; it is a Path for those who are aware of God. (Al-Baqarah 2:2)

Not Just a Text

More than a mere text, it is a traveling companion to be chanted, to be sung or to be heard.

Throughout the Muslim world, in mosques, in homes and in the streets, one can hear magnificent voices reciting the divine Words. Here, there can be no distinction between religious scholars (`ulmaa’) and laymen. The Qur’an speaks to each in his language, accessibly, as if to match his intelligence, his heart, his questions, his joy as well as his pain. This is what the scholars have termed reading or listening as adoration.

As Muslims read or hear the text, they strive to suffuse themselves with the spiritual dimension of its message: beyond time, beyond history and the millions of beings who populate the earth, God is speaking to each of them, calling and reminding each of them, inviting, guiding, counseling and commanding. God responds, to her, to him, to the heart of each: with no intermediary, in the deepest intimacy.

For Every One

No need for studies and diplomas, for masters and guides. Here, as we take our first steps, God beckons us with the simplicity of his closeness. The Qur’an belongs to everyone, free of distinction and of hierarchy. God responds to whoever comes to his Word.

It is not rare to observe women and men, poor and rich, educated and illiterate, Eastern and Western, falling silent, staring into the distance, lost in thought, stepping back, weeping. The search for meaning has encountered the sacred, God is near:

Indeed, I am close at hand. I answer the call of him who calls me when s/he calls. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

A dialogue has begun. An intense, permanent, constantly renewed dialogue between a Book that speaks the infinite simplicity of the adoration of the One, and the heart that makes the intense effort necessary to liberate itself, to meet him. At the heart of every heart’s striving lies the Qur’an. It holds out peace and initiates into liberty.

Indeed, the Qur’an may be read at several levels, in quite distinct fields. But first, the reader must be aware of how the text has been constructed. The Qur’an was revealed in sequences of varying length, sometimes as entire chapters (surahs), over a span of 23 years.

qur'an

At the heart of every heart’s striving lies the Qur’an.

In its final form, the text follows neither a chronological nor strictly thematic order. Two things initially strike the reader: the repetition of prophetic stories, and the formulas and information that refer to specific historical situations that the Qur’an does not elucidate.

True Understanding

Understanding, at this first level, calls for a twofold effort on the part of the reader: though repetition is, in a spiritual sense, a reminder and a revivification, in an intellectual sense it leads us to attempt to reconstruct. The stories of Eve and Adam, or of Moses, are repeated several times over with differing though noncontradictory elements: the task of human intelligence is to recompose the narrative structure, to bring together all the elements, allowing us to grasp the facts.

But we must also take into account the context to which these facts refer: all commentators, without distinction as to school of jurisprudence, agree that certain verses of the revealed text (in particular, but not only, those that refer to war) speak of specific situations that had arisen at the moment of their revelation. Without taking historical contingency into account, it is impossible to obtain general information on this or that aspect of Islam.

In such cases, our intelligence is invited to observe the facts, to study them in reference to a specific environment and to derive principles from them. It is a demanding task, which requires study, specialization and extreme caution- or, to put it differently, extreme intellectual modesty.

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Source: nytimes.com

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

Al-Fatihah and the Six Principals of Guidance

In the opening Chapter of the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah God says:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of existence, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful, the Owner (Master) of the Day of Judgment. It is You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight Path, the Path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not the path of those who have incurred Your Anger, nor of those who have gone astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:1-7)

Al-Fatihah

Surat Al-Fatihah

Al-Fatihah, is an introduction to the Qur’an itself. Often times introductions contain summaries of the contents that will come after them so it is not surprising that Al-Fatihah summarizes some main principles for guidance in life.

Maintain Objectivity

We read in Al-Fatihah:

“It is You alone we worship.”

From the repetition of this verse throughout each day of our lives we are re-calibrated to focus on God in all of our affairs. It is only through this submission that we can gain objectivity. If it’s about ourselves, it’s not about God. If it’s about power, or wealth, or recognition, or self-healing, it’s not about God. Only in submission can objectivity, or at least as close as possible to it, be sought.

Stay Humble in the Journey

“It is You alone we rely upon.”

To do this is to live a life of humility. The one who only relies upon God knows the true source of their accomplishments and understands their limitations. Their reliance is not focused on themselves and their skills or talents, but on the source of all good, God Himself.

Do What Needs to Get Done to Succeed

“Guide us to the straight path.”

When we want to succeed in life there are always things that need to get done. This part of the Chapter teaches us to seek those means to take the path.

Seek Practical Guidance and Mentorship from Others

“The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your grace.”

From this part we learn that in the journey of life we need examples we can learn from. Apprenticeship was the traditional model of learning in many societies around the world and is necessary up to today in many fields. Good mentors are priceless on the journey towards any goal.

Avoid Major Obstacles that Stop the Journey

“Not the way of those who have received Your anger.”

In any journey there are obstacles that can completely inhibit one from reaching their goal. They are betrayals of the path. One cannot be a therapist or counselor if they abuse their power and act unethically. One cannot be a teacher if they are sloppy in their academic integrity. One cannot be a leader if they are irresponsible and untrustworthy. All of these mishaps are obstacles that completely block one from their goal. They must be avoided at all costs.

Al-Fatihah: Avoid Misguidance

“Nor those who have gone astray.”

Misguidance is a reality in the sea of information. Some people, the good mentors and advisors, will lead you on the  path and facilitate the journey. Others, the sources of misguidance, will give advice and share information that is inaccurate and therefore negatively affect the journey. These too can become major obstacles and must also be avoided.

These six simple principles derived from Al-Fatihah serve as signposts for every believer in their journeys throughout life. Mentors and advice will always vary. Sometimes we will have access to good teachers and sometimes we will not.

Regardless of the circumstances we can always hold these principles in front of us so that we can be guided through the divine guidance of the Most High. They should be brought to mind when we read Al-Fatihah in our daily prayers and throughout our lives.

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Source: safacenter.org

*These principles were abstracted from the Tafsir of Ibn ‘Ashur.

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