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Fasting New Muslims

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It is observed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan, a season of intense worship. How can Muslims make the best use of those precious moments? What should they do and not do while fasting? And what are the benefits that can be gained out of this blessed month?

Watch this video to know the answers and more…

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

A Glimpse of Islam

Sheikh Yusuf Estes sheds light on the religion of Islam and its pillars. He also explains the meaning of the testimony of faith. Among other things, this lecture also touches upon the story of Adam and Eve and how Satan caused them to be drived out of Paradise. Watch this video to learn more…

 

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Fasting New Muslims

A Blessed Month of a Special Nature

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are the declaration of one’s belief in God’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him), regular attendance to prayer, payment of zakah (i.e. obligatory charity), and the pilgrimage.

If we examine these five pillars, taking into account the fact that Islam aims at improving the quality of human life at both the individual and social levels, we find that the first of these five pillars is concerned with beliefs which influence man’s conduct. The second, i.e. prayer, provides a constant reminder of man’s bond with God. Zakah, the third pillar, is a social obligation which reduces the gap between the rich and the poor, while the fifth, i.e. the pilgrimage, has a universal aspect that unites the Muslim community throughout the world.

Fasting in Ramadan, which is the fourth of these pillars, has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship. Although in a Muslim country it is extremely difficult for anyone to defy public feelings by showing that one is not fasting, there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating God’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary.

The fact is that fasting cannot be used by a hypocrite in order to persuade others of one’s devotion to God. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan. On the other hand, a person fasting voluntarily at any other time should not tell others of the fact. If he does, he detracts from his reward for his voluntary worship. In fact, people will find his declaration to be fasting very strange and will feel that there is something wrong behind it.

This explains why the reward God gives for proper fasting is so generous. In a sacred, or Qudsi hadith, the Prophet quotes God as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I reward it accordingly.” This is a mark of special generosity, since God gives for every good action a reward equivalent to at least ten times its values. Sometimes He multiplies this reward to seven hundred times the value of the action concerned, and even more. We are also told by the Prophet that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.

It may be noted that we have qualified fasting that earns such great reward as being ‘proper’. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. Perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. The Prophet said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting! I am fasting!’” (Al-Bukhari)

This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is, in essence, an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in physical desire. This is indeed the purpose of fasting. It helps man to attain a standard of sublimity, which is very rare in the practical world. In other words, this standard is actually achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.

Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich nearer to the poor.

Indeed we are encouraged to be more charitable in Ramadan in order to follow the Prophet’s lead who was described by his companions as “the most generous of all people.” Yet he achieved in Ramadan an even higher degree of generosity. His companions say of him that he was in Ramadan “more generous and charitable than unrestrained wind.”

Fasting has also a universal or communal aspect. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, they feel their unity and equality. Their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins voluntarily in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. The unity of Muslims is far from superficial; it is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn God’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature. He learns to give generously for a good cause.

The month of Ramadan is aptly described as a “festive season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, but people are more attentive to their prayers in Ramadan than they are in the rest of the year. They are also more generous and charitable. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel in Ramadan much happier because they feel themselves to be closer to God. Therefore, they love this month, which is one of endless benefits and blessings.

Indeed, nothing describes our great month better than the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he addresses his companions and all generations of Muslims on the eve of Ramadan, saying: “A great and blessed month is approaching. One of its nights is better than a thousand months. God has made fasting in it obligatory and worship in its nights voluntary.

He who fulfils one religious obligation in it receives the reward of 70 such obligations fulfilled in other times. It is the month of perseverance and endurance, which can be rewarded only be admission into heaven. It is the month of comforting in which the means of a believer are improved. He who gives food to another to break his fast is forgiven his sins; thus he saves his neck from hell. He is also given a similar reward to that given to the fasting person without detracting anything from the other’s reward…

God gives this reward even to a person who offers another a piece of a date, a drink of water or milk… the beginning of this month is compassion, its middle is forgiveness and its end witnesses people’s release from the fire of hell.”

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Taken with slight modifications from: www.arabnews.com.

Adil Salahi teaches Islamic Studies at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, England. After working for the BBC Arabic Service for several years, he worked for the Arabic daily, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. He continues to publish a column, “Islam in Perspective”, in its sister publication, Arab News, an English daily published in Saudi Arabia.


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Categories
Fasting New Muslims

Fast of Ramadan: A Way of Life

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. But why do we fast during Ramadan?

A number of sheikhs and da`iyahs speak in this documentary about the virtues and rewards of fasting during the month of Ramadan and how this duty positively impacts the way Muslims lead their lives and gives them doses of spirituality.

 

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Fasting New Muslims

The Secret of Fasting in Ramadan

Fasting is not purely intended for deprivation of food and drink and lawful sexual relations.

In fact, fasting serves other purposes as well, such as uplifting the spirit of a fasting believer and giving him or her self-restraint and control over vain desires.

To know more about the secrets of fasting, watch this lecture by Sheikh Yasir Birjas…

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Fasting New Muslims

Fasting From One’s Desires

Muslims all over the world wait eagerly for the yearly coming of Ramadan during which they fast, recite the Qur’an, and perform qiyam (Night Vigil Prayer). Fasting is by no means an easy obligation to carry out.

Fasting from Vain Desires

Yet, harder still is to fast from one’s vain desires and bad habits. In this lecture, Sheikh Bilal Assad sheds light on the latter type of fasting…

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

Generosity in Islam

As human beings, we have an innate sense of morality. No matter what religion, race or color we are, certain qualities serve as the moral standard.

We admire justice, bravery, honesty and compassion. We also abhor those who demonstrate treachery, cruelty or corruption. Moral standards are universal, and one of the most important aspects of Islam is adherence to high moral standards and good manners in society.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught Muslims to have the best manners and distinguished characteristics. The Prophet’s own high standard of morals and manners made him the best example for Muslims to follow. Almighty Allah said in the Qur’an:

And verily you, O Muhammad, are on an exalted standard of character. (Al-Qalam 68: 4)

Generosity was among the countless good qualities of Prophet Muhammad. He was the most generous of people and he used to be most generous in Ramadan. 

One day Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) offered Prayer in the mosque and then hurriedly went to his house and returned immediately. A companion asked why he left and he replied: “I left a piece of gold at home which was given for charity and I disliked letting it remain a night in my house, so I brought it to the mosque to distribute.” (Al-Bukhari)

Our worldly possessions are bounties from Allah, who is the Most Generous. Muslims believe that everything originates from Allah and everything will return to Him. Thus, it is logical to behave as if that which we possess is merely a loan, something we are obligated to preserve, protect and ultimately share.

Whenever Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) met a miserly person, he advised him to be more generous and charitable. Ibn `Abbas said that he heard Prophet Muhammad saying: “The believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Another companion heard the Prophet saying: “The believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble.” (Abu-Dawud)

Definition of Generosity

Princeton University WordNet defines generosity as the willingness to give freely. Islam encourages this concept of generosity so much so that it is embedded in one of the five pillars of Islam, the obligatory charity known as Zakah. In Arabic, the term Zakah literally means purification of the heart; however, it is also the payment, from surplus money, of an obligatory charity designed by Allah to provide for all the needy members of the community. It is a fixed calculable amount.

There is also another form of generosity in Islam called Sadaqah (optional charity). Anything given generously – freely to others – with the intention of pleasing Allah is Sadaqah. Sadaqah can be as simple as a smile, helping an elderly person with their groceries or removing objects from the road or path.

Generosity can be viewed as a wise investment in the future. Generosity or Sadaqah may pave the way to Paradise because with every generous act comes great reward from Allah. However, being generous does not only mean giving freely from what you have in abundance. Generosity does not lie in giving away something that is no longer useful but in giving freely from the things we love or need.

`A’ishah (the wife of the Prophet) said: “A lady, along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters.” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah tells us in the Qur’an that whatever we give away generously, with the intention of pleasing Him, He will replace and multiply. Allah knows what is in the hearts of men. Allah says:

Say: Truly, my Lord enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and also restricts it) for him, and whatsoever you spend of anything (in Allah’s Cause), He will replace it.And He is the Best of providers.(Saba’ 34: 39)

The Value of Generosity

The Companions understood the value of being generous. `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was seen in the market buying fodder for his camel on credit. One of the men queried this knowing that `Abdullah had received 4,000 dirhams and a blanket the previous day. It was explained that before nightfall `Abdullah had distributed the money amongst the needy. He then took the blanket, threw it over his shoulder and headed home, but by the time he arrived even the blanket was gone, he had given it to a needy person.

After the death of the Prophet, the people faced great hardship due to drought. They came to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) asking him to provide them with enough to sustain them, but he was unable to help, the treasury was empty. Just at that time, the camel caravan belonging to `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) arrived from Damascus. It was filled with foodstuffs and other goods. The merchants gathered at `Uthman’s house offering him large amounts of money for the goods; however, he turned them down saying he was prepared only to give the goods to the one from whom he would receive the greatest reward. `Uthman gave all the goods to the starving people of Madinah and did not charge them. He knew that Allah would reward him with something far greater than money.

Even in the direst of circumstances, a true believer is the one who gives generously.

The people came to Prophet Muhammad and asked: “If someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” He said: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then, the people asked: “If he cannot do that?” He replied: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

And Allah says in the Qur’an that He will repay the generosity of a believer.

And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged. (Al-Baqarah 2:272)

Allah is the one who provides for us and He expects us to share generously. We are encouraged to be benevolent and unselfish with our possessions, with our time and with our exemplary behavior towards others.

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Source: Article by author titled (Generosity) published at The Religion of Islam web site islamreligion.com. Here taken form onislam.net.

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Be Muslim and Modest? (Part 2)

By Naiyerah Kolkailah

How could a Muslim develop a modest character?

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has made modesty a standard and measure for a person’s actions. An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he asked the Messenger of Allah about righteousness and wrongdoing. So the Prophet responded: “Righteousness is good character and wrongdoing is what makes you feel discomfort, and that you would hate for people to see (what you are doing)”. (Muslim)

One of the areas where modesty, i.e. shamefulness, should be avoided is in seeking knowledge and in educating. `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “One who does not know should not be ashamed of asking until he has knowledge, and one who is asked about something he does not know should not be ashamed to say ‘I do not know’”. (Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari; commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Al-Bukhari said that Mujahid said: “The one who is shy or arrogant does not gain knowledge”. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “How great were the women of the Ansar; their modesty did not prevent them from seeking knowledge about their religion”. (Ahmad)

How Do We Become More Modest?

If a person’s character traits were completely innate, they would be difficult to change, or replace, or adjust.

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits. If it was not possible to do so, Islamic legislation would not obligate it. Allah (the Most-High) says:

He has succeeded; the one who purifies it, and he has failed; the one who corrupts it. (Ash-Shams 91:9, 10)

Despite that, people vary in their ability, capability, or willingness to adopt or change certain character traits. So, if a person is naturally disposed to express a specific quality, it is easier to develop that character trait even further. This is because his fitrah (innate disposition) is assisting him. As related to modesty as a character trait, it can be innate, and it can also be acquired. These are some ways to help in acquiring and developing modesty:

1- Refrain from shameless words or actions, such as foul or evil speech. This will aggravate Satan, who beautifies these actions, and tempts people with them. So, not engaging in such actions would actually make him hopeless, and he would in turn retract in disgrace.

2- Continuously learn about the benefits of modesty, and expose one’s heart to them repeatedly. Also, make a commitment to gaining the highest levels of modesty, and actively adorning oneself with it.

3- Strengthen iman and belief in the heart, because modesty is a fruit of iman and knowing Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted).

4- Worship Allah (Exalted is He) by reflecting on His beautiful names and attributes, which bring about Allah-consciousness and excellent (character and behavior). Examples of such names would be: the Witness, the Overseer, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the All-Encompassing, and the Protector.

Hatim Al-Asam said: “Make a pact with yourself in three (areas): when you do something, remember that Allah sees you, and when you speak, remember that Allah hears you, and when you are silent, remember Allah’s knowledge of your inner (thoughts, feelings, and being)”.

5- Consistently observe the obligatory and recommended worship, like prayer. Allah said: “Verily, prayer prevents lewdness and evil deeds”. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

It was said to the Messenger of Allah: “So and so prays all night, but when he wakes up he steals!” So, he said: “What you mentioned (i.e. his prayers) will (eventually) prevent him from that”. Or he said: “His prayers will prevent him”. (Ahmad)

Zakah is another example. Allah says regarding zakah: “Take a portion of their wealth as charity [zakah] to purify them and increase them with it”. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

6- Always be truthful and avoid dishonesty. This is because truthfulness will guide a person to righteousness, and modesty is a part of righteousness. The Prophet said: “You should be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to paradise…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7- Actively practice modesty on a regular basis so that it becomes a natural disposition. This will require beautifying oneself with patience.

8- See righteous people, intermingle with them, listen to them, and learn from their modesty. Some scholars have said: “Enliven your modesty by sitting with those whom you would feel shameful around”. Mujahid said: “If all that a Muslim benefits from his brother is that his feeling of shame with him prevents him from sinning, then that would suffice him”. (Makarim Al-Akhlaq)

9- Bring to mind the modesty of the greatest example for mankind, the Messenger of Allah, and learn about his Seerah (biography of the Prophet) and his noble traits.

Also, bring to mind the modesty of his Companions and their lives, especially the righteous caliphs, the ten given glad tidings of paradise, those who witnessed Badr, and the Bay`at Ar-Ridwan (a covenant of fealty), and the rest of the Muhajireen and the Ansar, and those who followed in their footsteps from the people of knowledge and faith.

10- Remove oneself from a corrupted environment that keeps one away from good character. Do not accompany those who show little modesty; befriend righteous people instead. In the Prophetic narration about the man who killed one hundred souls, the knowledgeable man said: “…And who can stand between you and a sincere repentance? Go to so and so land, for you will find people there who worship Allah. So, worship Allah with them, and do not return to your land because it is a land of evil…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We seek Allah’s forgiveness for every misstep, and for every mistake we made with the pen; and we seek His forgiveness for any words that do not match our actions; we seek His forgiveness for anything we showed or revealed of knowledge despite our shortcomings; we ask that He makes us act upon what we know, for His sake only, and that He places this knowledge on our scale of righteous deeds when our deeds are presented before us. Verily, He is Most-Benevolent and Generous.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Deeds Most Beloved to God: The Gates to Goodness

First of all, the Muslim must commit to perfecting all the mandatory acts of worship. Thereafter, each one may find certain acts of worship which He likes most and make them His way to getting closer to the pleasure of Allah.

The Companions were keen to draw closer to Allah so; they used to ask the Prophet about the means for accomplishing that goal.

Here are some of the Prophet’s answers: (Note: The answers will vary according to the person and the situation)

Dhikr

Narrated Mu`adh ibn Jabal, I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is more beloved to Allah, He said: “To die while your tongue is wet with the remembrance of Allah.” (Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani)

Praying on Time, Being Good to Parents, and Jihad

Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, ”I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds are most beloved to Allah? He said: ‘Praying on time” then I asked and which is next?

He said: ‘Kindness to parents’, then I asked, and which is next? He said: ‘Jihad in thecause of Allah’ and, if I asked him for more, he would have given me more.” (Al-Bukhari)

Devote all of your worship to Allah,

Be good to your Kin,

Ordain good and forbid bad

Itis reported from a man from Khath`am, who said, “I came to the Prophet and, he wasamongst his Companions and, I said, ‘you are the one who claims to be the messenger ofGod?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is morebeloved to Allah?’ He said: ‘Faith in Allah’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which isnext?’ He said: ‘Kindness to the kin’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which is next?’ Hesaid, ‘Ordaining good and forbidding bad’.” (Abu Ya`la)

Be good to your Muslim brother,

Help him with his needs,

Pay off his debt, and bringhappiness to his heart

Control Your Anger and Rage

Narrated Ibn `Umar that a man came to the Prophet and said: Oh Messenger of Allah,which of the people is more beloved to Allah and which of the deeds is so? The Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved of people to Allah are those who are mostbeneficial to the people, and the most beloved deeds to Allah, the most High, is to bring happiness to a Muslim, or ease his hardship, or to pay off his debt for him, or to end his hunger. And it is more beloved to me to walk with a brother of mine (in Islam), to run an errand for him than to make I`tikaf (seclusion) in this Masjid (in reference to the Masjid of Al-Madinah) for a month. And he who controls his anger, Allah will cover his shortcomings, and he who suppresses his rage despite being capable of taking it out(against his opponent), Allah will fill his heart with hope on the Day of Judgment, and he who walks with his brother to run an errand for him until it is done Allah will make his feet stable on the Day when feet will be paralyzed.“ (At-Tabarani)

Prayers, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, Mustahab Fasting and Charity, Night Prayers, Jihad,Control Your Tongue.

Narrated by Mu’adhibnJabal: “I was traveling with the Prophet and, I was close to himwhile we are walking then, I asked him, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me of a deed that willenter me Paradise and keep me away from the Hell?’ He said, ‘You have asked about agreat matter, but it is easy for those whom Allah will make it easy for; worship Allah anddo not associate partners with him, perfectly perform the prayers, give Zakat (obligatory donations), fast the month of Ramadan and make pilgrimage to the House (Al-Ka`bah).’

And then he said, ‘Should I tell you about the gates of goodness! Fasting is a protection(from Allah’s punishment), Charity puts off the sins, and a man’s Prayer in the middle of the night’ and, then He recited the saying of Allah the Most High:

“Their sides forsake their beds…” until he reached”…that which they do.”, and,then he said, ‘Should I tell you of the head of the matter (meaning the religion), its pillar,and its peak?’ I said, ‘Yes, oh Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘The head of the matter andits pillar is the prayers and, its peak is Jihad,’ and, then he said, ‘should I tell you of themalak(the string that holds all the beads together) of the matter?’ I said, ‘Yes, Oh Messenger of God.’ So, he held his tongue and said, ‘Control that.’ Then I said, ‘OhMessenger of Allah, shall we be accounted for what we say?’ He said, ‘May your mother lose you Mu`adh! (Note: the phrase is not interpreted literally), and would anything befall the people in the Hell but the earnings of their tongues.’” (Ahmad and others)

Control Your Tongue and Be Good to Your Neighbors

On the authority of Anas, the Prophet said: “The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right and, his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right and, the man whose neighbor does not feel safe from his harm, shall not enter Paradise.”(Ahmad)

Reciting the Book of Allah with Contemplation

Almighty Allah says,

And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We haverevealed it to you gradually, in stages.(Al-Furqan 25:32)

Know that it is only Allah who guides and misguides and-as He said- all peoples’ hearts are between two of his fingers so, ask Him with humbleness, and humility, and, with certainty that without his help and favor you will perish.

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us…(Aal `Imran 3:8)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj whichwas prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Islam & Life’s Struggles: What Is Missing in Your life?

nature seat

What is standing between you and God?

What do you struggle with in life? Do you ever wonder what is really missing in your life?

What is standing between you and true peace; between you and God?

In what do you believe? Do you really believe the things you believe in? Are you a true believer? And how do you know you are one? What should we do to enhance our faith?

Do you feel God’s love? Are you struggling with perfecting your faith and getting really close to Allah?

Have you asked yourself these questions before?

Some fellow American Muslims were asked these and other similar questions and here are their responses…

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Source: ibn.net

 

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