Monday, November 23, 2009
Things are tough... for everyone. I've found recently that I wish to run the other direction when it comes to these holidays. Family feels it necessary to take time out of the celebration to explain to us why they believe we are wrong, why we are going to hell, or they will mention how they politely don't mention religion, but yet must tell us what else in our life is not up to their standard or another thing we are doing wrong.
Have holidays become the time to take each person to a measuring stick and verify if they are good enough or not? Time and time again it is proven that we don't measure up. Eventually will we be forbidden to come? Probably not... then we would miss out on the intense wisdom and guidance that everyone has to give in the form of criticism and critiquing. Last time I checked, I don't get paid to come to the holiday events, so I didn't realize it would be my semi-annual review on how I am living my life.
In Islam, we are taught to keep family ties and that it is a major sin to break these family ties. My question is, how far does this go? **I go forward from this thought making intention to find hadiths on what exactly is expected.** If we walk away from each family event feeling less successful as a human being, are we expected to continue putting ourselves through such trial so that they are not upset by us refusing their ultimate wisdom on our continued failures?
In the case of being preached to, should we take this same time to discuss our viewpoint on the holidays, the background and history and what we feel is the correct stance in such instances. Oh no, that would be rude, inconsiderate and downright disrespectful.
How much tolerance is necessary for family?
Friday, November 6, 2009
Many people will say "Yes, of course, there's verses in the Qur'an that state exactly so! And of course, there's the common known rule that any verse is abrogated by a verse revealed chronologically later!"
Simply put, the "fact" that a peaceful verse is abrogated by a later verse about is simply not true. It was not taught in the Prophet's (peace be upon him) time and there is no sound scripture or hadith (sayings of the Prophet pbuh) to back up this claim. There are Muslims that teach this in order to lead those they want to do as they wish. This is where someone reading and learning for themselves is extremely important.
The verses that people use to back up their argument that Islam is a violent religion should be understood in their context. Not only in their scriptural context but also the situational context. We have documentation that states when and how verses were revealed. That means there is a place and time for each verse to be understood correctly. The most seemingly violent verses in the Qur'an should be understood in the time they were revealed... times of war. They were being actively attacked, even after moving to another city to find peace, and Allah (God) has never told His people to not stand up for themselves. As a Muslim, I understand these verses to mean that if someone is charging at my door to kill me, I should protect myself and my family.
Let's treat this fairly... there are verses in the Bible that I could use to prove it is a violent religion as well. Heck, especially if I never read the whole thing and relied on people to filter it for me, I could absolutely find verses to support this argument. Such as:
Matthew 10:33-35 (King James Version)
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
But the fact is, as Americans, we are given the right and the freedom to read whatever books we want and therefore, we don't need to rely on people to tell us what is in a book... we can read it ourselves. So instead of coming to conclusions based on what other people say, let's make our own conclusions based on independent study and research.
For those still insistent on leaving it to others to find information for them, here's some verses from the Qur'an that touches on key points that many people either don't know, or ignore when they hear/read it:
Qur'an, Surah Al-Anaam (6)
151. Say: "Come I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from": join not anything with Him; Be good to your parents: kill not your children on a plea of want;― provide sustenance for you and for them;― come not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.
152. And come not nigh to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;― no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;― whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfil the Covenant of Allah: thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.
153. Verily, this is My Way leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His path: thus doth He command you, that ye may be righteous.
154. Moreover, We gave Moses the Book, completing (Our favour) to those who would do right, and explaining all things in detail,― and a guide and a mercy, that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord.
155. And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy:
Friday, October 30, 2009
Being a Muslim means submitting to our Creator, in our intentions and actions.
"Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended." [Bukhari and Muslim]
Submitting first starts with the intention, and moves from there. As all converts or those who find true Islam as an adult know, each step towards making a change in your behavior is small at first... it takes a lot to make a big change. It takes more effort for one to make changes to their behavior that other people are going to notice because it means dealing with the reaction of those as well. When we are looking at the next step, we must have intention first and move towards action slowly, but surely.
As we move towards submitting further and further, there are many around us that will state that we are leaving all that we were behind. The things that defined us are now gone... but are they? Core morals and values can change and adjust through time... with or without religion. But of course, when one turns to Islam and makes changes in their life, they are found to be "blindly following" or the like. In another example, if someone changes their morals and values after having kids, they are "growing up" and "maturing." One implies a brainless decision and the other implies a growth of the human experience.
When we do not understand the growth of another, we tend to label it as regression or misguidance. Who are we to say that their journey is without knowledge or reason?
This goes for Muslims as well... too often we label those of another group (even within Islam) as one who is strayed, without really knowing anything about where their path leads them. What are their beliefs? Just because they are on a different path, we assume they are wrong. For us converts... we now believe that we were wrong at one point, right? So what would have happened if we had that attitude the entire time?
Open your mind, your ears, and close your mouth. Speaking without knowledge is an ignorant behavior, to say it lightly.
Submit to God and in doing so, submit to His way by being silent in matters that one has no knowledge of.
And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). [Qur'an 17:36]
We can submit within the shade of Islam without losing ourselves... and most of us do. We remain strong, independent individuals who are strong, active community members. We are wives and husbands who respect each other in love and faith. We do so with remembrance of God, but we still each have our own way.
To submit is simply to accept that we feel we are following the best way. This does not give us a right to be arrogant. It means we should remember our position as servants of God and act accordingly. We align ourselves with the life actions we believe to have the most benefit for us, in this life and the next... just like everyone else. Just because someone on the outside looking in sees many similarities doesn't mean we lost our "true selves".
Thursday, September 24, 2009
It is important for anyone in inter-faith dialogue, whether it is formal or informal, to keep an open mind... and to acknowledge weak points of knowledge and acknowledge points that each agrees with. The most frustrating part of an inter-faith conversation is both parties (or even just one for that matter) only preparing themselves for their next argument to proof the other person wrong. Why are two or more people discussing anything if they are not listening to each other? What's the point? Do we just like the sound of our own voice? Are we really that arrogant? Not exactly...
Simply put, as humans we don't want to ever admit that we are wrong. We don't want to come to the realization that we mindfully used our brains to come to a conclusion, and there was something faulty along the way. Also, we refuse to step out of our comfort zone in many cases and stay with what makes us feel secure.
Am I at fault with this? Absolutely. But of course, the first step is to recognize the existence of an issue and then work towards removing the harmful aspects of it.
Let's use our minds, mouths and ears for what Allah intended us to use them for. Do not assume you know everything... Allah did not grant you the gift of perfection.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
In Isaiah 29 we read a prophecy:
11And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
Jesus says in John 16 that he is not revealing everything to his followers:
12I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
This aligns with Isaiah 29:11 for a man who is learned to not reveal certain information. Going forward, Isaiah 29:12 is a prophecy of future events as well, but we won't find the fulfillment of this prophecy in the Bible. Instead we find this in the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
3. 'A'isha, Umm al-Mu'minin, may Allah be pleased with her, said, "The beginning of the revelation to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, took the form of the true dream. Whenever he had this kind of dream, it was clear like the break of day [and was true]. Then he was made to love retreat and used to go into retreat in the cave of Hira' where he would devote himself to the worship of Allah alone, continuing in this worship for a number of nights until he felt inclined to return to his family. He would take provision for his stay. Then he would return to Khadija to restock with provision to do the same again. This lasted until the Truth came to him while he was in the cave of Hira'.
The angel came to him and said, 'Read!' He said, 'I cannot read.'"
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "He seized me and squeezed me until all the strength went out of me and then released me and said, 'Read !' I said, 'I cannot read.' Then he seized me and squeezed me a second time until all the strength when out of me and then released me. Then he seized me and squeezed me a third time and then released me, and then he said, 'Recite: In the Name of your Lord who created, created man from a blood clot. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous.'"
-Sahih Bukhari Book 1, Chapter 1
It would be hard to make this more clear. The Angel Jibril (as) told the Prophet Muhammmad (pbuh) to read and responded that he could not. While it is not necessary to know Biblical references in order to confirm our faith, it solidifies the foundation for our conversations with people of other faiths. MashaAllah wa alhamdulilah.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Look at the image here (click on it to see the full size and see the company names more clearly)... try to think of all the daily products you use from these companies. You must make a very conscious, directed effort to stay away from these products. What I find convenient is that the more green I try to get my home, the more I am freed from using products that pay for the Israeli occupation, mashaAllah.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: Of sin, because they believe not in me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatso ever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you."
While many Christians believe this prophecy is talking about the Holy Ghost, that conclusion is not logical when looking at scripture as a whole.
First, the Paraclete is typically translated as advocate, comforter, or spirit and in these verses of John, Jesus (pbuh) says that he must leave so the Comforter can come to them. In numerous other verses of the Bible, there are verses that are believed to be referencing the Holy Ghost such as:
Genesis 1:2 - And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Isaiah 63:11 - Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?
Matthew 1:18 - Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Especially with the last example, it is quite clear that the Holy Ghost is believed to be existent before Jesus (pbuh) left this world. In my judgement, Jesus (pbuh) was talking about someone else. Where else does he talk about this Comforter? Let's see...
John 14:16 - And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
"Another" Comforter is important here. Jesus (pbuh) is talking about someone similar to himself and Jesus (pbuh) also states that "he may abide with you for ever". What is the Muslim perspective on this? The life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lives with us forever through the Sunnah (literally means "trodden path". Muslims use this to describe the way of life the Prophet showed us to follow) and the Qur'an that has been preserved since it was revealed.
Again going back to John 16:14, "He shall glorify me." Anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that Muslims hold Jesus (pbuh) in a very high regard and we give him credit for what he preached about himself. Jesus is mentioned in the Qur'an in the highest ranks of the prophets of God and in order to call yourself a Muslim, you must accept Jesus as a prophet, accept his miraculous birth and his miracles. Is there one other faith or prophet that fulfilled this requirement for this prophecy to be complete?
While there is so much more to say on the subject, I believe this gives enough reference to the given verses originally stated.
Some things are easy... how to pray, how to fast, how to say Shahadah. Some things aren't so simple... when is water too dirty to do wudu with, how much filth is too much, how do you calculate zakat? Alhamdulilah, we have so many organizations now that can help spread this knowledge to anyone who is willing to learn. The challenge really becomes us parents taking the time on a consistent basis to teach. One of my biggest downfalls is consistency with things such as this.
I say we are going to study Islam over the summer and we agree and she even picks the first topic, learning about prophet Hud. Then one day passes by the next where the time escapes us and we miss our opportunity that was right in front of our face, but we used it for something less important.
InshaAllah we all can take the time to make teaching our kids Islam as important as it really is. If we don't show them how critical this is, we can't expect them to pick that up once a week in Sunday school. Those grey areas become more clear with continued practice and implementation.
I have so much I want to share with my "cyber" and real life friends, but many times I tend to skip over topics that not everyone on Facebook wants to hear and I don't like sending mass emails (except maybe to get people to read this blog, if they so choose).
I want to talk about important issues, to me at least... the Israeli/Pakistan issues, Islam, Christianity, the attitudes towards each people and the myths surrounding these attitudes, and possibly family things as well... we'll see where this takes us.
I love to study and share information. InshaAllah there's people who like to do the same.