AsSalaamu ‘Eleikum wa Rahmatullah! (Peace and Mercy of God be to you!)

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Published in: on October 13, 2008 at 9:30 pm  Comments (3)  

It is not about you!

By: Amin Tomeh

The beginning of surat al-kahf (The Cave) starts with

Praise be to Allah Who hath sent to His Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness: (1) (He hath made it) Straight (and Clear), in order that He may warn (the godless) of a terrible Punishment from Him, and that He may give Glad Tidings to the Believers who work righteous deeds, that they shall have a goodly Reward. (2)Wherein they shall remain forever: (3) Further that He may warn those (also) who say “Allah hath begotten a son”: (4) No knowledge have they of such a thing, nor had their fathers. It is a grievous thing that issues from their mouths as a saying. What they say is nothing but falsehood! (5)

ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبۡدِهِ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ وَلَمۡ يَجۡعَل لَّهُ ۥ عِوَجَاۜ (١) قَيِّمً۬ا لِّيُنذِرَ بَأۡسً۬ا شَدِيدً۬ا مِّن لَّدُنۡهُ وَيُبَشِّرَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعۡمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمۡ أَجۡرًا حَسَنً۬ا (٢) مَّـٰكِثِينَ فِيهِ أَبَدً۬ا (٣) وَيُنذِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُواْ ٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ وَلَدً۬ا (٤) مَّا لَهُم بِهِۦ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ۬ وَلَا لِأَبَآٮِٕهِمۡ‌ۚ كَبُرَتۡ ڪَلِمَةً۬ تَخۡرُجُ مِنۡ أَفۡوَٲهِهِمۡ‌ۚ إِن يَقُولُونَ إِلَّا كَذِبً۬ا (٥) فَلَعَلَّكَ بَـٰخِعٌ۬ نَّفۡسَكَ عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِمۡ إِن لَّمۡ يُؤۡمِنُواْ بِهَـٰذَا ٱلۡحَدِيثِ أَسَفًا 

An important concept quickly emerges here after Allah (swt) explains in very clear terms the basis of The Creed of monotheism. The Sura starts by giving praise to Allah for revealing The Book that is free of any crookedness. He made it a clear book that warns and offers glad tidings of good reward to those who believe.  

So, here we have a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah who is receiving revelation and guidance from God. In it, it is clarified to the Prophet that perhaps what you are hearing from those around you or those with whom you are interacting – will cause you grief. So much so, that you would want to destroy yourself because of it.


It is therefore acknowledged that perhaps human nature is to personalize all matters, especially ones wherein a disagreement is evident. And therein lies the slippery slope which starts with disappointment in those who may disagree with you – where things turn to personal animosity. The revelation continues to remind the reader, or the contemplator, that

 إِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا مَا عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ زِينَةً۬ لَّهَا لِنَبۡلُوَهُمۡ أَيُّہُمۡ أَحۡسَنُ عَمَلاً۬ (٧) وَإِنَّا لَجَـٰعِلُونَ مَا عَلَيۡہَا صَعِيدً۬ا جُرُزًا

That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them, as to which of them are best in conduct. (7) Verily what is on earth We shall make but as dust and dry soil (without growth or herbage) (8).


So, as is immediately clarified in the verses that follow, it is all from God; the guidance, the revelation of a “book” which clarifies, the creation of a worldly life that is but a test for all. So, it is not about you, me or us. It is not about how we feel. It is all from Allah. Indeed praise be to God that he guided us. It was not because of one’s cleverness, intellect or anything that we have done. It is but by the grace of God that we were blessed with it. It is no different than wealth or even health. We try our best to preserve and grow the bounties that we are given. But just as He may have granted them to us, He takes them away when He wills without warning nor permission. And in that is a great test. A test of patience, a test of faith and more importantly a test of comprehension that it is He and He alone who is the giver of all bounties. He is the creator of everything.


So, when we find ourselves on the preferred side of that test, we should not become pleased with ourselves. We should not feel that we are better than those who are committing all kinds of errors and transgressions. Rather we should feel compassionate towards them. Continue to be the beacons – that we believe ourselves to be – so we may help those who have not yet attained to what we believe is wholesome could stop aggressing against their own selves.


Consider the following verse from surat al anaam,

 قَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ إِنَّهُ ۥ لَيَحۡزُنُكَ ٱلَّذِى يَقُولُونَ‌ۖ فَإِنَّہُمۡ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ يَجۡحَدُونَ

We know well that what they say grieves you. Yet it is not you that they deny. Rather, it is the signs of God that the wrongdoers reject.


Once again, Allah returns the matter to Him. It is not about us. It is not about us being better than those who may be sinning or those who may be making errors and mistakes. It is about us receiving a bounty or indeed a gift and wanting that blessing for others. If they reject it. It is on them – not on you. Consider another example of the same concept:

 أَفَمَن زُيِّنَ لَهُ ۥ سُوٓءُ عَمَلِهِۦ فَرَءَاهُ حَسَنً۬اۖ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُضِلُّ مَن يَشَآءُ وَيَہۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُۖ فَلَا تَذۡهَبۡ نَفۡسُكَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ حَسَرَٲتٍۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمُۢ بِمَا يَصۡنَعُونَ

And what of one, the evil of whose deeds has been made to seem fair to him, such that he thinks it beautiful? Truly God leads stray whomsoever He will and guides whomsoever He will; so let not your soul be expended in regrets over them. Truly God knows that which they do.


It is very easy to confuse the blessings of Allah, be they guidance, wealth, health, or wisdom with something that we’ve earned on our own instead of it being solely a blessing from God – for which we should always be thankful.


Satan confused the fact that Allah created him of fire with a perceived superficial superiority over God’s human creation; a creation that was made of earth. Although Satan was in the majesty of God and he clearly knew who created him and to whom returns all matters, he, Satan, couldn’t shake the air of superiority and refused to obey God’s command to Bow before Adam.


That which Allah blesses us with is but from Him and him alone. Whenever our thoughts or – our self which may command that which is shameful – incline us to become arrogant or superior to someone we may believe is a sinner – we should check our thoughts and not allow them to ever cause us to fall as Satan had fallen from God’s pleasure and mercy.


وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَـٰكَ إِلَّا رَحۡمَةً۬ لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

And we sent you, save as a mercy unto the worlds.


That is the criterion. The Prophet was not sent except as a Mercy to all worlds. He and, by extension those who follow his example, are but a mercy to all those around them.  The Prophet and all prophets and messengers were surrounded with people that not only sinned, but actively fought against the message that they carried. The prophets did not judge them. They did not make it personal. They rather stayed faithful to their mission of delivering that which God commanded them to deliver. They exercised patience and indeed exuded Mercy in all of what they did. It was never about them – even when their human instinct kicked in and caused them to think otherwise. Allah (swt) quickly reminded them that it was not about them.


Published in: on October 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Inherent in Islam–Violence or Peace?


By: Masood Malikyar

One of the oft-repeated assertions in today’s rhetoric is some  variation of “Islam is inherently a violent religion.”  It, therefore, follows that Muslims are inherently a violent bunch.  Terror acts by so-called Muslims further fuel these incendiary assertions and fill the canvas upon which a great world religion is painted in dark colors.  Those who follow Islam, meaning 1.7 billion Muslims, as a whole are violent, must be feared, and defeated.

Since much has already been written about it,  I don’t see a point in tracing the root causes of all the nascent violence.  Many clear connections have already been drawn between factors such as political or economic aspirations, frustrations, sectarian divisions, or governing miscalculations and the ensuing confrontations in its various manifestations.  However, what I do wish to examine is the true nature of Islam and to show whether it engenders violence or peace.

To that end, I have to go back – way back – to the origins of Islam,  its immutable constitution or Quran and the richly preserved traditions of its Prophet (utterings and practice).

First, I turn to the Quran which defines Islam – Islam meaning Peace and submission to the Will of God.  So, how could a religion that is named and known as Peace – not named after its leader as the case is with Buddhism or Christianity, or after a tribe as in Judaism – be the antithesis of peace?  How would that settle with the early converts to Islam and billions thereafter?  How blatant of the Quran to call it peace and its followers peaceful while espousing just the opposite?  Wouldn’t the manifest incongruity turn off anyone studying or adopting it?  If we find only snakes inside an advertised big bag of candies at the store, do we still pay for it? Let’s assume we do,  do we then try to eat the snakes?

If Quran were to condone murder and promise heavenly rewards in exchange, why are not a vast majority of Muslims murderers?  If we were to trust media statistics, the combined population of all the fighters in the Middle East and Africa does not number more than a few thousand.  Even at an exaggerated 100,000 it would constitute .0000588 percent of the Muslim population worldwide.

So, let’s move on beyond the name of Islam.  Let’s look at some verses in the Quran to see what it truly prescribes.

This verse establishes how sacred human life is:

أَنَّهُ مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا

..If anyone slays a human being-unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth-it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…  [5:32]

The following verse enjoins man to race for righteousness:

وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـٰكِنْ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ إِلَى اللَّـهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ

And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto, you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God is your return; and then He will show you the truth of the matters which you dispute. [5:48]

Capital punishment without due process is expressly prohibited and life’s sacredness is reemphasized below:

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ مِنْ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّـهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We 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. [6:151]

Quran explains God’s reason for diversity.  It is so that we as human beings come closer, to know each other and to share.  After all, we are descendants of the same parents.  Righteousness is what distinguishes people before God,  not wealth or other artificial rankings.  Righteousness has always been interpreted by Muslims as the opposite of evil or acts of evil such as murder or violence.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّـهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware. [49:13]

Muslims are the first and the primary victims of these vicious acts of murder in the world.  Quran prescribes the most severe punishment for those who kill other believers in God:

وَمَنْ يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا

But whoever deliberately slays another be­liever, his requital shall be hell, therein to abide; and God will condemn him, and will reject him, and will prepare for him awesome suffering. 94:93]

Now, let me turn to some traditions established by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW).

Prophet Muhammad said:

لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لأَخِيهِ – أَوْ قَالَ لِجَارِهِ – مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ

Not one amongst you believes (truly) till one loves for his brother or for his neighbor that which he loves for himself. [Muslim]

الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ النَّاسُ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ

The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe. [Nissai]

Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers to “show mercy to Earth’s inhabitants so that the One who is in Heaven will have mercy on you:” [Abi Dawud]

ارْحَمُوا أَهْلَ الأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ

He also said, “One will not enter Paradise if his neighbor is not safe from his harm” [Muslim]:

 لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ مَنْ لاَ يَأْمَنُ جَارُهُ بَوَائِقَهُ

So, in light of the above verses from Quran and sayings from the Prophet, how are we to label the so-called self-appointed Muslims who murder innocent people and whom people fear?  This is why Islam must not be conflated with terrorism or Muslims with terrorists.  There are many political pundits and media talking heads who profess people should do exactly that.  Those who kill innocent people are not Muslims. They are not practicing Islam or peace.  They are antipodal to Islam and world peace.  They are indeed misrepresenting a great world religion.   Anyone who calls them Muslims is insulting Muslims and slandering Islam.

Prophet Muhammad and his early followers (numbering in a few hundred) experienced the severest forms of sanctions and persecution while in Mecca during the first 13 years of his prophecy.  Towards the end of that period, people of Mecca were banned to trade with him or his followers, to intermarry with Muslims, to provide any assistance to Muslims, or to sell them any of life’s essentials such as food or clothing. Their punishment comprised regular invectives and even torture.  The Prophet was consistently dealt doses of public ridicule.  They even attempted to murder him in his own house.  He and his followers were forced to leave their homes and belongings and were exiled to Medina.  Years later, the Prophet entered Mecca and conquered his birth city without bloodshed.  Riding his camel, he lowered his posture parallel to the beast’s neck to set yet another human precedence – not to become arrogant or act arrogantly in victory.  Meccan leadership and citizens were petrified at the prospects of his verdict which they expected and by then were wholly accepting – justified by what they had enforced on Muslims before.  Every pretext existed for severe retribution – especially in the context of 7th century Arabia.  The Prophet’s verdict came swiftly and turned out to be astonishingly and extraordinarily unprecedented. The verdict was in complete accordance to the main precept of Quran and Islam: peace.  He declared general amnesty to all residents of Mecca regardless of their past crimes.

The example he left behind was indeed of the highest standard in ethical behavior despite his newly acquired status as the conqueror and absolute arbitrator of the entire city and its inhabitants.  He could have annihilated all of his opponents by uttering a single command.   Instead he forgave them en-masse. That is the spirit of Islam and that is the example of the messenger of God.

Islam is, therefore, inherently peaceful.  We have to make a contradistinction between Islam and those who violate its main principles of peace, tolerance and justice.

I will conclude this article by citing one more verse from the Quran for anyone who is still not convinced of Islam’s true spirit of peace and tolerance.  God Declares:

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ ۚ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ

[But whatever they may say or do,] repel the evil [which they commit] with something that is bet­ter: We are fully aware of what they attribute [to Us]. [23:96]

“A nation on to himself”


By: Amin Tomeh

In a wonderfully eloquent hadith, mentioned in al Tirmizi’s collection, narrated by Huthaifa ibn Al Yaman, that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

لا تَكُونُوا إِمَّعَةً ، تَقُولُونَ : إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَحْسَنَّا ، وَإِنْ ظَلَمُوا ظَلَمْنَا ، وَلَكِنْ وَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ، إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَنْ تُحْسِنُوا ، وَإِنْ أَسَاءُوا فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا

The hadith is ranked as weak or even strange according to some sources. However, the wisdom that the hadith carries is ageless and indeed a wonderful basis for establishing a cogent intellect and maintaining the proper course in life. The hadith roughly translates into:

Do not be (blind) followers. Do not say: If people did good, we would do good, and if they transgressed, then we would as well. But establish in yourselves that if people did good, you would, and if they misbehaved you wouldn’t transgress.

The Arabic narrative uses the word “Ima’ah” which in some ways takes its root from the word “ma’a” ((مع or to be with someone. Ima’ah is an exaggeration of the word ma’a or a person who perpetually adheres to others’ thoughts and actions. The Arabic word is very apt, concise and descriptive of a state of being, wherein a person simply looks at the stock market of opinions and actions; whatever people are buying into, (s)he would also rushes to buy into the same. Contrast such a disposition with the following verse from the Quran from Surat al Nahl that describes our father Ibrahim (pbuh):

إن إبراهيم كان أمة قانتا لله حنيفا ولم يك من المشركين

“Indeed Ibrahim was a “nation or a model of virtue or within himself combined all virtues” turning away from all that is false, and not being of those who ascribe divinity to anyone beside God.”

Ibrahim is being described with a curious, even strange, reference “Umma”. Contrast being described as a nation onto yourself with a person who is described as a blind follower. Which would you rather be? And as with most things important, the latter, or that of being a follower, is indeed the path of least resistance. Let others do the thinking for you, chew the great decisions for you, and give you the fruit of their labor. You simply ascribe your thoughts onto other’s labor and ijtihad and the dependency grows exponentially. An Ima’a who is lazily reliant on others, has placed himself or herself into a path that continues to weaken one’s intellect and God’s command to use the blessing of contemplation (tafakur), and cognitive discernment (al aqul). The solution to counter such a predicament is in the same referenced hadith in the wonderful term “watino” or to establish, as it has been translated. But the word is worth another examination.

Watino derives its root from watan, the noun, meaning a place of belonging. Watten, the verb, means establish (one could also say residency). If a person istawtan a place, it means they took up residency there. They settled there. The hadith says “watino la anfusikom”, or establish for yourselves, the inner self, that self that has been described as amarra bil sou’, or commander to do evil.  Choosing residency for that self, is in our hands, and that’s what the hadith is illuminating. Allowing the self (or our whims) to run our lives is an excuse but never a foregone conclusion. And in Saydina Ibrahim and Saydina Muhammad and the other great Prophets (Peace be upon them) are the best of examples. Saydina Ibrahim equates to an entire nation by himself – he possessed the same self that we all do, yet he was able to turn it into a nation onto itself.

Watinno could also be interpreted as establishing the framework within which the person could grow. Consider your life choices; some of them occurred deliberately such as your education, your career, your relationships and friendships, etc. You will notice, if one contemplates in retrospect, that these choices have had a very important impact on their lives. Consider, even the smaller habits that we pick up in some cases unintentionally, or gradually, when one considers their cumulative effects, one will see the huge impact it has on our character and behavior.

Some of the ways that could create the fertile ground for ourselves to grow positively and beneficially is to improve our learning skills. To not be wholly reliant on others to do the thinking for us. This is valid on any front not just a particular field or area. Let our interaction with others be they friends, acquaintances, or the various media outlets “informative” but never “instructive”. Allow yourself to be informed but never fall under the influence of others to do the thinking for you. The so-called modern day “thought leaders” are in most cases highly intellectual individuals who offer great insights into various fields and arenas. Never allow them to be YOUR thought leaders.

Another humble recommendation is to vary your sources. Make those you associate with or those who inform you a tapestry of diversity; a diversity in opinions, positions, and outlooks much like there are great signs or Ayat in the variation of the night and day as Allah describes in the Glorious Quran in many references, from which I chose:

و اخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ رِزْقٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ آَيَاتٌ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

“And in the succession of night and day, and in the means of subsistence which God sends down from the skies, giving life thereby to the earth after it had been lifeless, and in the change of the winds: [in all this] there are messages for people who use their reason.”

So too are great ayat and benefits in the variation of opinions and resources. Contrast is often a great natural clarifier of ideas. So, leverage it.

I close by reminding myself and you of the catchall aya, that best captures the decorum that Allah wants us to be in:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

“O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!”

Published in: on January 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Social Media & the Youth


By: Masood Malikyar

The choices are so many: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, Flickr, Amazon, eBay, iTunes, Pandora, Netflix, RSS, iPhone, iPad, Android, tablets, gadgets, widgets, Xbox, PlayStation, Apps, the Cloud, blogging, texting, sexting, SnapChatting, commenting, networking, subscribing, Skyping, gaming, shopping, Digging,  and on and on and on…ever redefining how we interact, share, shop, trade, entertain, inform, teach, and learn.

The internet is perhaps doing far more for this generation merely since the 90’s than what many of the most significant inventions all together achieved earlier.

Social media does wonders when used for the right ends.  While still at infancy,  it greatly facilitates a wide array of human endeavors.   And, we have not even scratched the surface of what it promises to deliver in the future!   However, as with any tool,  when used for the wrong ends, it can easily become the catalyst of human abjection.   

Global e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion in 2012 with US sales to exceed $300 billion this year.   But that is only a fraction of the story.  The volume of data stored and accessible via the internet is increasing at a dizzying pace.  According to NetApp, today Facebook collects over 15 terabytes of data a day from its 850+ million users.  The number of tweets per day has already reached 500 million or 348,000 per minute.  At the same time some 60+ hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute, and as of 2012 Google has indexed 50 billion pages and counting. Research suggests digital data will weigh at over 4.5 zettabytes*1 by the end of this year and will rocket to 8 zettabytes by 2015.

That is a lot of digital data and traffic!   Besides business users,  young people generate most of the traffic.  According to a recent finding from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey that explored technology use among US youth ages 12-17 and their parents,

  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones,
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population, and
  • 95% of teens use the internet.

Much of the access and traffic, especially by the youth, advances the collective human knowledge and facilitates human progress.  However, other statistics point to some alarming trends.  Youth between the ages of 13 and 18 spend as much as 72 hrs. a week on social media.   8-16 yr. olds having watched porn online stands at 90% – many while doing homework. The average age of first internet exposure to pornography online is 11!  Teenage girls send an average of 4,000 texts a month according to Nielson.  Gaming, albeit entertaining and possibly a better alternative to less scrupulous engagements, is fast turning to a time consuming preoccupation.  In the U.S., more than 50% of sex trafficking is performed online.

The latest release of Grand Theft Auto in September generated over $800 million in sales on the first day – more than any Hollywood blockbuster could dream to reach in weeks.  At that rate, it will surpass the entire Gross National Product of entire countries such as Liberia, Bhutan, Greenland, or even Somalia by year-end. 

Then there is the issue of commenting.  It appears that many feel compelled to post comments to anything posted online.  And, much of the rhetoric is meant to be disparaging, outright offensive, and at times tormenting. While online anonymity or freedom of expression may be ascribable to this prevailing tendency, it is pointing to a larger problem: deterioration of social etiquettes and discourse!

As storage media become more capacious and cheaper, internet service providers and search giants become more capable of storing all exchanges for much longer periods of time.  Chances are that what the youth – even if innocently or naively – post will become a permanent fixture of their profiles to be used against them later in life.

One could go on and on about the perils of the modern interactions and engagements involving internet technologies – and – I think we all know what Islam sanctions.  So, I’d rather focus on making practical suggestions to overcome these modern challenges.


Moderation is a key to success in all we do.  Don’t be an extremist.  If you are an avid gamer and find yourself playing games at every free moment, consider how you would respond on the day of judgment when you will be summoned for accounting of your deeds.  Consider the following possible set of responses:

I spent 10% of my free time video taping myself and uploading them to YouTube.  30% of my free time was spent shooting enemies in Modern Warfare.  20% of the time I played to reach the next level in FIFA soccer.  The rest of the time, I watched TV or traversed the web and uselessly commented on other people’s comments and uploads.

I played some,  prayed some, exercised, helped others, took care of my family, invested time in my future, learned what I needed to earn an honest living, taught people, contributed to my community, and benefited humanity.

If you are one of those completely engulfed in modern media, consider how it is affecting your posture.  If you are a student or an office worker, you are already in a sitting position for a good portion of your day.  The rest of the time,  you are spending in front of some screen – again sitting – until you fall asleep.  Go outside.  Enjoy, and ponder upon, God’s nature.  Exercise. Join an athletic team or club.  Leave the desk.  Get up and walk or bike.  You are severely hurting yourself!  Find ways to become a better world citizen.  Volunteer your time.  This life is too short and ephemeral.  Just as you wake up from a long night’s sleep and the entire sleep period appears as a moment or two upon awakening, you are guaranteed to die and your entire life of decades on this earth will not feel but only a day or two already past.  It is your choice how you would like to spend your time. 

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۖ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

“Every soul is bound to taste death: but only on the Day of Resurrection will you be requited in full [for whatever you have done] – whereupon he that shall be drawn away from the fire and brought into paradise will indeed have gained a triumph: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion.”  [3:185]

Abdullah, a companion of Prophet Muhammad SAW, narrates: 

" Allah’s Apostle said: ‘O ‘Abdullah! Is it true that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?’ I said, ‘Yes, O Allah’s Apostle!’ He said, ‘Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.’ "  [Bukhari 7:127]

The Prophet Muhammad SAW said: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. . .Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)."  [Bukhari 8:470]


يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“God desires for you ease, and he does not desire for you difficulty.”  [2:185]

Our modern lives are becoming very complicated.  There are too many things to track and to do. That is very stressful. Stress in turn introduces a whole array of emotional and physical health issues.  Why don’t we simplify our lives?  Let’s not constantly check emails and social media status pages. Let’s turn our tired eyes away from screens and allow them to de-strain – that will make them last us longer to old age.  Let’s not purchase goods just because others have them or can afford them or the latest fad and commercial offerings.  If you have a flip phone, don’t replace it with an expensive smart gadget unless you really need it. Why pay $45 a month or several hundred a year for a data plan if you have Wi-Fi access at home?  It will decrease the number of accidents, many of which nowadays are caused by texting drivers.  Don’t endanger your own life or someone else’s. 

Adapt simplicity in all aspects of life!   For example, dress simpler.  You only need a few clean articles of clothing each year.  Why follow seasonal trends in fashion just because others do?  Even if you could well afford it, think of your future or how you could sponsor a needy family overseas for an entire year or assist people in need in your own town and country. 

You really don’t need to buy the latest model automobile putting yourself under the burden of debt or expensive toys even if you can afford it. 

وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا

“And they (the righteous) feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive.” [76:8]

Consider also these Biblical verses, confirming the eternity of God’s message:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink’…” [Matthew 25:41-42]

Review your life and simplify.  You will become a happier and better person for it.


Islam allows us to engage in anything worldly as long as it is not explicitly prohibited.  Hence, playing and spending time online does not intrinsically constitute Haraam 2**.  So, while spending time online or playing video games is not necessarily forbidden – as long as you are not engaging in forbidden discussions (insulting or disparaging people, endlessly debating folks just for the sake of arguing, being mean, etc…) or forbidden activities (watching porn, socializing or texting with those of opposite gender with ill intentions) –  it could easily waste a lot of your time and turn into an addiction.

You have to figure out a way to reach and maintain a balance between such pastimes and other obligations and activities.  Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

والله لتموتن کما تنامون، ولتبعثن کما تستيقظون، ولتحاسبن بما تعملون

“By God, you will die as you fall asleep, and you will be raised (revived) as you wake up, and you will give accounting of what you do.”

The Holy Qur’an refers to us as the people of the middle and the Prophet SAW said that the best of deeds is that which is in the middle.  We have to maintain a balance in all we do and avoid both extremes.  We should work some and then rest some.  We should play some and worship some.  We should spend some time with friends and some time with our families.  If we are online some, we should go offline some.

Some tips for parents and the youth

As the alarming statistics cited before indicate,  Shaitaan or Satan is ever present in this world – by necessity of design – to divert the weak of faith in us from the straight path, and it is evident that many fall prey to Shaitan’s hypnotism and deceptive techniques – especially the youth.  This design is to test us.  Only those who reject Shaitan in favor of goodness will triumph.  So, how could you make even the time you spend online or playing video games count as good deeds in your record?  The answer lies in your intentions. 

The Prophet SAW said: “Verily actions are by intentions (behind them)”. [Bukhari and Muslim]

When you go online, your intention should be that all you do and accomplish online be to please Allah SWT – minimally your intention should be not to displease Him.

Tips for the young people:

Keep privacy foremost in your thoughts.  Nothing you post, search, or view will remain hidden.  All of it could potentially be used against you.

Don’t broadcast your intentions online – for example, don’t text someone when you will be on vacation.

Unless you can ascertain who the other party is, don’t share your private information or engage them in conversations.

Don’t reveal people’s shame online.  The Prophet SAW said:

 مَنْ سَتَرَ مُسْلِمًا سَتَرَهُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ

“One who covers a Muslim, Allah (SWT) will cover him in this world and the hereafter.”  [Muslim]

Don’t debate people endlessly for the sake of debating.

Set a limit on how much time you spend online or play games. Make a resolution to leave your current addictions.  It is never too late to change.

Spend more time with your parents, siblings, and friends – face to face,  not from behind switches and routers.

Stay away from Haraam sites, means, and materials.  Remember God is watching you at all times.  You are never alone.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the internet is one of the greatest inventions of mankind.  It is one of the greatest tools at our disposal.  Use it wisely to grow as a human being and to facilitate your life!

Tips to parents:

Be friends with your children.  Play with them, engage them, guide them, and inform them of the benefits and perils of modern technologies.

Raise your children such that you would candidly discuss any matter.  Involve them equally in your decision making process.

Be a good role model.  In my opinion, nothing is as pernicious as telling them to do something you don’t and vice versa.  Don’t expect your children not to smoke or drink if they see you do it, for example.

Instill love of sports. Engage them in team sports from early age.  Encourage reading and games you can play as a family – even video games.

Proactively monitor their online activities.

An eternal tip for all of us:

“…Our Lord, give us the good of this world and the good of the hereafter and save us from the torment of fire” [2:201]

*1 Zettabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes) or 1000 billion billion bytes. It is calculated the storage requirements for all human speech ever spoken at 42 zettabytes if digitized as 16 kHz 16-bit audio.

2** Forbidden

This Mother’s Day only?


By: Masood Malikyar

Mothers first bear us, then rear us, all along imprinting the gentle side of humanity deep into our very souls.  We suck out the energy from the depths of their within for months and then are metamorphosed to our existence without – sensing the continuity in protections and security of our pre-natal existence in the warmth of their embrace and life-sustaining sweet milk.  How sweet is that?

No wonder we are reminded by Quran in so many verses directing us to worship God – adjacent to these commandments within the same verses – and with equal emphasis to be good to our parents.  Here is a sample:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ  فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي  وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

“And [God says:] ‘We have enjoined upon man to be good to his parents, she bore him bearing strain upon strain, and his utter dependence upon her lasted two years; [hence, O man,] be good towards me and towards thy parents, [and remember that] with me is all journeys’ end.”  [31:14]

If the question is, how do we pay homage to our parents – or specifically in this case – to our mothers – then the answer is simple.  It is clearly spelled out in the above verse.  Be good to them!  Don’t abandon them when independent, house them when they are old instead of sending them to nursing homes; if they live on their own or with another sibling, talk to them several times daily – at least at the two ends of each day;  visit them frequently, be respectful and kind, never talk back, don’t show anger or impatience, do their chores, proactively seek out to keep them happy, healthy, and entertained, take them with you on vacations, picnics, and gatherings – don’t abandon them. 

Besides God, your mother gave you the gift of life.  The best gift you can give her in return this Mothers Day – yet better,  every day from now on – is to simply be good to her.  She will value that a lot more than whatever gift that is commercially available in the marketplace.

I will end this article with another verse from Quran and a few narrations from Prophet Muhammad (SAW):

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا ﴿٢٣﴾وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا

“For thy Sustainer has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [thy] parents.  Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in thy care, never say "Ugh" to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech, and spread over them humbly the wings of thy tenderness, and say: ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow Thy grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was a child!’” [17:23-24]

“The Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.” (Ahmad, Nasai).

“A man asked the Prophet: ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?’  The Prophet said: ‘Your mother.’  The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: ‘Then your mother.’  The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: ‘Then your mother.’  The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: ‘Then your father.’”  (Bukhari, Muslim).

Abu Usaid Saidi said: “We were once sitting with Rasulullah [messenger of God] when a man from the tribe of Salmah came and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! do my parents have rights over me even after they have died?’ And Rasulullah said: ‘Yes. You must pray to Allah to Bless them with His Forgiveness and Mercy, fulfill the promises they made to anyone, and respect their relations and their friends.’” (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah).

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Assessing our self-worth…


By: Masood Malikyar

It was not a very long time ago when we experienced a large scale calamity on our own shores.  Hurricane Katrina proved to be disastrous in so many ways resulting in huge losses of life and property.  One year earlier, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in no fewer than 14 countries and caused severe devastations.   In October of 2005, more than 76,000 people were killed in Kashmir as as result of another earthquake.

Cyclone Nargis was the most damaging cyclone ever recorded in Burma killing 146,000 people.  The toll was perhaps even higher since political agenda were used to stop the count.  2008 also saw the massive and deadly Sichuan earthquake raising the human toll in that region to 68,000.

We all remember too well the Haiti earthquake of last year. Over three million people were affected by the quake.  According to the Haitian government,  an estimated 316,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and 1,000,000 were left homeless.  And, these are just some of the natural disasters of the last decade.

Now, we see the Japanese struggling to cope with the aftermath of the largest natural disaster of Japan’s recent memory.  Thousands are dead and missing, and the damage is estimated at hundreds of billions of Dollars – and rising.

So, what is our role who are so far removed from these cataclysmic events?

I would like to use this opportunity to remind us all of an important Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (SAW).  He said:

"The best people are those who benefit people most."

We can be reasonably sure he didn’t mean that the best of people are those who benefit people most only in the aftermath of a disaster.  But, we have every reason to believe that assisting people in need in general does qualify us as the better of two groups:  one that benefits people and one that does not.

As we ponder on this important Hadith and begin to contemplate,  I challenge us to  assign a value to our perceived self-worth…perhaps on a scale from 1 to 10, or in order to stay true to the spirit of this Hadith, from least beneficial to most (I hope not from most harmful to least).

Where do we stand?  Are people benefiting from our knowledge, experience, council, work, wealth, or progeny?  Or, is it that all of our focus and energy is spent in benefiting only ourselves?

It is never too late to start…this is the perfect time, better than any time past or any time if yet to come…to strive to be better…with the aim to become the best….little by little, within our means – no matter how meager – by benefiting people.

Let us pray for the people of Japan and all others in need of assistance.  Let us assist people in their hour of need.   Our very humanity demands it.  And, our self-worth depends on it.  

Diamonds in the Rough


By: Amin Tomeh

It is now October (Zul-Qa’da), and Ramadan is behind us by a little over a month. We’re blessed to have completed one of the most enriching and sustained acts of worship, namely al Seyam or the fast of Ramadan al Mubarak. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala says in the Glorious Quran, in surat al Baqara, verse 183:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

[O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (attain) God-Consciousness.]

Two things are gleaned from this beautiful verse; one pertaining to the continuity of Allah’s guidance and revelation; and, the second pertaining to the purpose of this important obligation (fasting). This ayah addresses the intellect not the body. Allah addresses al Mu’mineen (those who are actively faithful) not al Nas (humanity in general). Faith is a psychological act in the first degree. The Ayah (verse) ends that this fasting will result in Taqwa or attaining God-Consciousness. And now that we have completed our exercise, and have insha’Allah followed it with optional fasts of the month of Shawal , have we found Taqwa?

When one attends a lecture, a seminar, a class, a training session, one often asks “what did I get out of it?”. What benefit did I derive from my investment – an investment of time, comfort, money, effort, etc. The same question applies at the heels of Ramadan, but al Hamdulilah, the criterion, or the yard stick has already been provided, namely, al Taqwa. So, we are able to make a self-assessment as to whether the intention, or the derived benefit from fasting during the month of Ramadan, has been achieved. Did we perceive or notice a change in our character, in our ability to deny the self, the ego, al Nafs, its whims, desires and wants? Did we notice that we have drawn nearer to Allah during and after this wonderful act of worship? Did fasting alert us to the embedded and the innate, abilities that we have allowed to be obscured by following al Hawa (caprice), or the desires of the self? Did fasting uncover the “diamond in the rough” obscured by earth, and the other rocks in our lives? Did we catch a glimpse of that diamond within ourselves, namely our human superiority when we are obedient to Allah? Obedience which elevates us, above the angels, according to God’s muster?

Did fasting make us more compassionate towards our fellow human beings? Consider the following statistic: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates more than 1.1 Billion people in the world today do not have enough to be healthy or to lead active lives. That is 1 out of every 6 human beings on earth today who are in abject poverty and in utter need. In Pakistan today, due to the worst disaster in recent recorded history to ever befall humanity, 21 million human beings have been displaced and rendered without shelter. These are our brothers and sisters. Could we fall asleep at night knowing that an immediate family member is hungry or needy? Could we – knowing of the pressing need and hunger within our human family?  The afflicted people in Pakistan are our extended family members in humanity and in faith.  And,  the tragedy continues. In Sha’Allah fasting had softened our hearts, sharpened our contemplative intellect and connected us with God and with our fellow human beings, whether in worship or in compassion towards their condition.

In another Sura from the Glorious Quran, Allah speaks more specifically about the nature of the human being; about the potential of the human being, and indeed the destiny of the human being. A destiny that is proportional to the human being’s own actions.

Allah (swt) tells us in surat al Tin (the Fig):

وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ

By the Fig and the Olive,

وَطُورِ سِينِينَ

And the Mount of Sinai,

وَهَذَا الْبَلَدِ الْأَمِينِ

And this City of security,-

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

We have indeed created man in the best of moulds,

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ

Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low,-

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: For they shall have a reward unfailing.

فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ

So what yet causes you to deny the Recompense?

أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ

Is not Allah the wisest of judges?

In this beautiful chapter, Allah (SWT) uses four symbols to elucidate a point, the Fig, The Olive, Mount Sinai, and the City of Security, Makkah. For some commentators the Fig and Olive connote or draw attention to the location where they predominantly grow, namely in the lands of northern Arabia, in the Holy lands of Jerusalem and its surroundings where Allah revealed his guidance to humanity through his prophets and messengers. Herein again, another reference to the chain of Guidance that Allah bestowed upon humanity. Mount Sinai draws attention to where Allah revealed his guidance and gave the Law to Moses (pbuh). And the sacred City of Makkah connotes of course the place where Allah gave His final guidance and revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is; therefore, these chronological events that best equip the human beings to reach their highest potential, embodying the best of moulds that Allah describes in the noble verses above.

Other interpretations that are more figurative in nature and contemplative in substance connote the Fig to represent the Human being and the soul. The Andalusian philosopher Muhamad Ibn Al-Arabi compares the Fig to the Heart wherein it does not have a Core, or Nawa, because the Fig like the Heart is indeed The Core in and of itself. Abdullah Yusuf Ali and others, in his commentary compares the Fig to the entire Human Being wherein if the former is left uncultivated growing in the wilderness, it could become the worst of fruits, full of maggots, worms, sour taste and nothing nutritious. Conversely, if the Fig is cultivated and cared for, it becomes amongst the best of fruits on earth full of goodness and nutrition. Yusuf Ali further theorizes that the Olive symbolically connotes the guidance and Nur (light) of God. Reference is made to Surat Al Nur (surah 24, verse 35) which compares Allah’s Nur to the Mishkat or the lantern that is lit from a Sacred Tree, namely the Olive Tree.

اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونِةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ نُّورٌ عَلَى نُورٍ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاء وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

[God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is, as it were, that of a niche containing a lamp; the lamp is (enclosed) in glass, the glass (shining) like a radiant star: (a lamp) lit from a sacred tree – an olive-tree that is neither of the east nor of the west the oil whereof (is so bright that it) would well-nigh give light (of itself) even though fire had not touched it: light upon light! God guides unto His light him that wills (to be guided); and (to this end) God propounds parables unto men, since God (alone) has full knowledge of all things.]

Mount Sinai, figuratively points to the intellect, according to Ibn Al-Arabi. The intellect (or the brain) that elevates high above the ground (or that which is lowly) in a human body much like a mountain towers above the earth. The Sacred City of Makkah or the City of Security refers to the complex being that is the Human. Although the city and its inhabitants collectively had received guidance through Sayedna Ibrahim, and his son Ismail (pbut), the city abased itself to the lowest of low by adulterating its monotheistic beliefs with idolatry and concocted intermediaries to God. Much like those human beings who while exposed to the truth of God’s guidance knowingly choose to debase themselves to reach the lowest pits.

Parables or Amthal are abound in the Quran, with most pointing to how Allah created us in the best of Moulds, equipping us with the capability to rise above the Angels in his obedience or to fall to stations that are below the animals in our behavior and transgressions. In Sha’Allah the month of fasting has exposed to us the rough diamonds that innately exist within each one of us. Diamonds which, once polished, elevate us to become better human beings, more obedient towards our Creator, our Benefactor, and Sustainer – Allah the Exalted.

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

On “burn the Quran” day this 9/11

By: Masood Malikyar

Pastor Terry Jones in Florida has his congregation convinced to burn copies of the Quran in commemoration of September 11.  Ironically, his approach is no less extreme.   The question is how should Muslims and America’s leadership react.

We can find a number of precedents in scriptures and prophetic traditions in response to his stated intention.  The Quran ordains:

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

“Repel [the bad they commit] with something that is  bet­ter.”  23:96

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ

“The good deed is certainly not the equivalent of the evil one.  Repel the evil deed with the good one.  Instantly, your enemy will be transformed into a warm friend.” 41:34

We as Muslims believe that God’s core message to mankind has remained the same since the first man.  As evidence of that, we can look at the following Biblical verse:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:39.

The famous story of how Prophet Muhammad SAW reacted towards his hostile neighbor’s treatment of him is one of many traditions dealing with hostile bigots.  He had a Jewish lady for a neighbor who for hatred of the Prophet and his religion had made it a routine to dump her trash on his property.  The Prophet never registered a single complaint and kept cleaning his property and removing her trash.  He inquired after her from another neighbor when one day he could no longer find any trash in his doorstep as he was accustomed to find and clean.  Upon realizing she was sick that day, he visited her and prayed for her recovery.  She embraced Islam immediately recognizing that the Prophet was not the evil she thought and was told he was.

The show of leadership at the national level by President Bush and then at the local level by Mayor Guiliani in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was exemplary.  President Bush pointed out how the attackers did not represent mainstream Islam.  Mayor Guiliani warned – anyone who may retaliate against Muslims in New York city will be pursued and prosecuted by the full force of the law.

I understand how such an evil act may flare emotions and how most if not all Muslims will be highly offended should Pastor Jones proceed and act on his plan.  Some may even resort to violence.  However, our Prophetic traditions and God’s order remain unequivocal.  We cannot but react in a good manner.  Perhaps, nearby Florida Muslims should volunteer to pickup the trash along the roads leading to the Church where Paster Jones and his congregation are planning to burn a number of Qurans this Saturday.  Would that change his perspective of Islam and Muslims?

How about the political leadership?  Do they have any responsibilities in condemning this plan?  GOP leadership voices are all but silent on the issue.   It is time to muster the courage and condemn Pastor Jones’s despicable plan – if not for the evil nature of it, but because it may lead to further extremism and violence.

We need to build new bridges of understanding and mutual respect.  We need to strengthen the paths we have collectively labored to build in the past.   It is quite unfortunate that Pastor Jones and his likes are determined to do just the opposite.

Help the poor this Ramadhan!


By: Masood Malikyar

The doors of contrition are wide open during this holy month. Let us take advantage of that by constantly seeking Allah’s – ‘Ezza wa Jal – Istighfar (forgiveness). Let us also take a step further – individually and collectively – to help the indigent. Let us not limit our assistance to just the poor around us. Let us extend our generosity – those of us who have a little – to those who don’t in other parts of the world as well – especially now due to the prevailing global economic crisis. Fasting is obligatory on all capable Muslims. But, if we neglect to help the poor, we fail to understand the true nature of this important obligation.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Keys to True Happiness

By:  Masood Malikyar

Modern man is given various remedies to cure or to eschew unhappiness and depression.  These remedies range from attending psychotherapy sessions, changing careers, and building or enhancing relationships to participating in sports, taking Prozac or going on vacations. However, as Muslims we can achieve true happiness simply by practicing Islam.  That does not preclude taking time away from diurnal stresses. Nor should it stop us from seeking new opportunities and challenges.  We have the innate capacity to grow at any age.  So, we must continue to adequately nourish our minds and bodies.  We must exercise as did the paradigm of humanity, may Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be upon him, his progeny, and companions.  He wrestled, rode horses; and, matched the best of his day in swordsmanship.  And, as human beings, we have the need to socialize, to have friends and to build and maintain lasting friendships.

However, what remains questionable is whether or not these activities alone will lead to lasting happiness.  How often do we hear of famous and wealthy modern celebrities who attempt suicides despite a huge following of real or pretentious friends and fans, presence of caring family members, ostensibly fabulous careers, power, access, money and anything else that money can buy?  If money were the measure, for instance, why do many who are relatively poorer lead happier and fuller lives?  Conversely, why are those who lack little in material possessions and luxuries admittedly depressed?

Research findings proffered by anthropologists suggest that material does not necessarily lead to real happiness.  That is because happiness has two faces – pleasure and value based. Pleasure based happiness does not lead to lasting happiness or real happiness. Malcolm X experienced both.  He spent his non-Muslim formative years pursuing pleasure based happiness.  He found it in sex, drugs, and crime. Ultimately, he ended up highly depressed and in jail.  He started pursuing value based or spiritual happiness, once he converted to Islam.  He found true Sakina (state of tranquility) and peace in submitting his will to the Will of his Maker which lasted him throughout his remaining time – in spite of the challenges and threats he faced from the NOI and others.

So, what are the key factors in Islam that can lead us to Sakina, peace of heart; and ultimately, to true happiness?

1) Hub (love) of and Tawakkul (entrustment) in Allah, Adored is He Above all.

Love and trust Allah Almighty with all of your heart and in all that you do! Entrust yourself and your affairs to Him.

Many who are unhappy cannot find someone they can truly believe in or fully trust.  Allah, ‘Ezza wa Jal,  Informs and Encourages us in the Holy Quran [2:165]:

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ

“…whereas those who believe have the strongest of love for Allah.”

Then He Says in [3:159]:

فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ

“…then, when thou hast decided upon a course of action, place thy trust in God: for, verily, God Loves those who place their trust in Him.”

If we combine the spirit of these two verses, we find the recipe for the reciprocal relationship between man and God ;   and hence, success or happiness. The two ingredients mentioned are belief and trust.  The outcome is mutual love.  Allah SWT Tells us that true believers love Him exceedingly and that He Loves those who place their trust in Him. Nothing soothes a believer’s heart more than the knowledge and belief that 1) one can turn to God and entrust all affairs to Him at any time, 2) God Loves those who trust Him precisely because of such entrustments, and 3) God is fully capable of addressing what is entrusted to Him as only He Can.

If you believe, you will trust.  If you trust, you’ve believed. You believe and trust because you love Allah SWT – not just because you are afraid of burning in Hell fire or because you are eager to enter Paradise.  If you believe and trust, He Loves you.  That is what you are truly after: His Hub and His Rithaa (Divine Satisfaction) as Your Rabb (Cherisher).  The promises of hell and paradise in Quran are very real.  But, those who have attained a higher level of understanding adore Allah for His Essence.

Parents promise punishments and rewards in order to shape and guide their children’s behavior.  Without outlining such consequences, much more chaos will ensue in a world already adrift in it.  Muslims who have attained Ihsan*1 conduct their lives in harmony with and in compliance to Allah’s Will not driven by any motive other than true love for God as explained in 2:165 above. Similarly, mature children take extra care to comply with their parents’ wishes in order to keep them pleased – no longer to enjoy rewards or to avoid spanking.  All they seek is the parents’ pleasure.

Can anyone – poor or rich; with family, friends, shrinks, or without; working or vacationing; fit or fat – feel miserable in the midst of a reciprocal relationship with Allah SWT founded on true love?  It is highly doubtful.

2) Hope in Allah’s Mercy.

Despondence is Kufr (ungratefulness) and the leader of the hopeless is Shaitan (Satan).  People are depressed because of anxieties, fear,  and mostly, dejection and hopelessness. They lose faith and hope in a better tomorrow.  Muslims**2 by definition submit their lives entirely to the Will of God.  He, SWT, Creates, Sustains, Takes away, and Forgives as He Wishes.  Don’t ever lose hope in His Boundless Mercy!  Don’t speak or intend to do anything save by uttering in Sha’ Allah (if Allah Wills) first.  Even if you are severely tested, know that Allah guarantees you have the built-in capacity to bear it.  Allah Almighty Informs us in [2:286]:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا

God Does not Burden any soul with more than he is well able to bear…”
Allah Subhana wa Ta’aala Prepares us in [2:155-6]:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ ﴿١٥٥ الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

“And most certainly shall We Try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labor’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity (155) who, when calamity befalls them, say, "Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return." (156)”

This life is ephemeral. It is too fleeting to spend it in despair.  Many who are desperate have not only lost all hope in a better tomorrow on earth, but even dismiss the possibility of an afterlife – or even if believing in an afterlife – of a better lot in it.   As Muslims,  alHamdu-Lillah (thanks are to God), we are to maintain a fair balance between this life and the hereafter.  In sharp contrast, as Muslims, not only do we believe in an afterlife but keep hope in one that is a lot  (no pun) better.  We believe that our return is to God. And we believe in an afterlife that is not temporary.

Therefore, dwell on earth as an A student preparing for an important exam aiming for success – not failure!  Couple your preparations and hard work with confidence and hope in your examiner’s leniency and you should be able to attain the Sakina of heart.

When we are awakened after death, we would wonder how much time did really pass whilst on earth.  All the decades would seem as just moments in the past.  That experience would not be entirely dissimilar to how we feel in the mornings even after a long night of sleep.  All the sleeping hours appear at dawn as only a moment or two now past.  Dwell on earth unlike some who spend all or others who spend none of their time in worship.  We are the people of the middle way.  Maintain a good balance between the two and have hope in Allah’s Grace and Mercy.  You will lead a fuller and happier life – if Allah Wills.

3) Contentment.

Discontentment of one’s lot in life is also Kufr.  The discontented person is rejecting one of the main pillars of Islam – that the measure of good and bad is determined by Allah, SWT.  Contentment, on the other hand, is gratefulness.

The Prophet Muhammad, SAW,  has explained the practical implications of this:  “If something befalls you, don’t say: If only I would have done such and such, rather say: Allah Decreed this, and whatever He Wishes, He Does; for verily the phrase ‘if only I would have’ makes way for the work of Shaitan”  [Muslim]

To better understand why we should be content with our allotments in life, we must understand the concept of Qadr (measure, destiny, or Divine Decree).  Allah, Most High, Says in [6:59]:

وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۚ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

“And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden or beyond created beings’ perception), none knows them but He. And He Knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He Knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.”

And, then in [57:22]:

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ

No calamity can ever befall the earth, and nei­ther to your own selves, unless it be [inscribed] in a book [Our Decree, or Lowh al-Mahfooz****3] before We bring it into being: verily, all this is easy for God.”

[81:29] elaborates:

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“And you cannot will unless that Allah Wills – the Cherisher of the worlds.”

As does [54:49]:

إِنَّا كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَاهُ بِقَدَرٍ

“Behold, everything have We Created with Qadr [in due measure – also in due proportion]’”

Believe that Allah, SWT, Knows it all.  He Is Omniscient.  He Knows of all that we do and of all that befall us at any time.  It is all written in the Preserved Tablet. We still have free will.  We choose our own destinies within the spatiotemporal limits Set by Him. But His Knowledge Encompasses time and space.  And nothing that happens can happen without His Will or Permission.  Therefore, what do we achieve by discontentment with His Will and Decree other than self-induced misery, stress and depression?

Here are more reasons why you should be content with your lot in life. Understand that someone, somewhere, may live in worse conditions.  Understand that Allah, all Glory belongs to Him,  Will not Burden you with more than what you can bear.  Understand that your own circumstances could be a lot worse.  Know that Allah is your best ally and Shaitan is your perpetual enemy.  Therefore;  thank God for all that you are given and even in the worst of conditions.  Be grateful!  True Muslims are grateful and completely content with Allah’s Will.  Kuffar (the ungrateful ones) are discontent; and therefore, unhappy and hopeless.

True happiness to a large measure stems from loving Allah SWT, from hope in Him, and from being content with the Divine Will and Decree.

I will end first with a  simple formula as prescribed by the Lord of success and happiness and then by a quatrain from Jalaaluddin Rumi as translated to English by Shahram Shiva.

May you attain real happiness in this world and the hereafter.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

“O you who have attained to faith! Be patient in adversity, and vie in patience with one another, and be ever ready [to do what is right], and remain conscious of God, so that you might attain to a happy state! [or success]”   [3:200]

To Love is to reach God.
Never will a Lover’s chest
feel any sorrow.
Never will a Lover’s robe
be touched by mortals.
Never will a Lover’s body
be found buried in the earth.
To Love is to reach God. [Rumi]

*1 Ihsan litterally translates into goodness.  It follows Iman, and Islam in degree.  Under Islam (lowest level of faith), a Muslim just declares by tongue that Allah is One and that Muhammad is His messenger and may additionally perform the prescribed acts of worship, fast in Ramadan, give poor-due, and if able go to Haj.  Iman implies belief or inner faith in the above as well as in Allah’s messengers, angles, books, the Last Day, and the Divine Decree – the good of it and the bad of it.  Ihsan implies perfection or excellence and is applied to worship as if to feel and witness God’s Presence at all times.  Prophet Muhammad SAW said of Ihsan: "[Ihsan is] to worship God as though you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then indeed He Sees you."  [Muslim, Bukhari.]   Muslim, Mu’min, and Muhsin refer to practitioners of the three levels of Islam the religion.   Not all Muslims are Mu’mins, not all Mu’mins are Muhsins.  But a Muhsin is both.

**2 Muslim literally means one who submits or one who is in peace. Muslim is also one who has chosen Islam as a religion.

****3 Lowh al-Mahfooz: Preserved Table.  God’s Eternal Decree.

Absolute Freedom is only possible in Absolute Slavery to God.


By: Masood Malikyar

AsSalaamu ‘Eleikum wa Rahmatullah.

We are thrilled once again that the holy month of Ramadan is approaching. We cannot wait to delve once more into a spiritual state unmatched by any other experience as we suppress the most essential of our carnal needs in complete submission to our Maker’s Order and Will:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُون

"O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may become Muttaqoon (or attain God-consciousness or righteousness.)" [2:183]

We eagerly look forward to the holy month of Ramadan to cleanse our bodies and souls of the rust of the preceding 11 months. We long to revive our energy and commitment in service of Allah (SWT) and in observance of our duty as his Khalifa or representative on earth. We eagerly wait to elevate our souls to ascending degrees of adoration of, and complete surrender to, the One Who Created us from the dirt of His earth, Who Sustains us from the bounties of His Mercy and Grace, and Who Knows of our inner-most secrets by the reach of His Knowledge and the extent of His Might. We long for self-induced moments of hunger and thirst as overt manifestations of our continued inner quest for departure from the bonds of our terrestrial plights and for attainment of all that is ethereal and right. We long to reach the perfect nearness to His Station, ‘Ezza wa Jal, as in moments of prostration and Sujjud and submission – throughout this holy month – at every moment , at breaks of dawn or in silences of the night. We eagerly wait to surmount the hurdles of the worldly, even as we waver and falter, in hopes of His Mercy and Forgiveness – rewards that are promised to those who are sincere in intention, earnest in action, but repentant and contrite.

These are still objectives of ours as they were a thousand and four hundred years back of the pioneering Muslims of the Prophet’s generation – may Allah’s Blessing and Peace be upon him, his progeny and companions – and all sincere Muslims who came to this world of the ephemeral ever since. But, what is this noble end – Taqwaa – that we seek and that our Maker Ordains us to attain by fasting in 2:183? Why is the noblest of us in Allah’s Sight those of us who are best at Taqwaa or who are the most Muttaqi according to Quran:

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ۬ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ شُعُوبً۬ا وَقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓاْ‌ۚ إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ۬

"O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the most God-conscious (or righteous) of you. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." [49:13]

Allah SWT Gives us the answer in Quran 5 verses earlier:

لَّيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ قِبَلَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةِ وَٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ وَءَاتَى ٱلۡمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِۦ ذَوِى ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَٱلۡيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلۡمَسَـٰكِينَ وَٱبۡنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَٱلسَّآٮِٕلِينَ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّڪَوٰةَ وَٱلۡمُوفُونَ بِعَهۡدِهِمۡ إِذَا عَـٰهَدُواْ‌ۖ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ فِى ٱلۡبَأۡسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَحِينَ ٱلۡبَأۡسِ‌ۗ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُواْ‌ۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُتَّقُونَ

"True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west – but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the last day; and the angels, and the revelation, and the prophets; and giveth wealth – for love of Him, – to kinsfolk, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer***1, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage***2; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues (or poor-due, Zakat) ; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress: Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-conscious." [2 : 177]

Verse 2:177, as you see does not list fasting as one of several mentioned attributes of Muttaqoon or the God-conscious. However, verse 2:183 does so specifically. In other words, according to 2:183, one can achieve this ideal state of Taqwaa simply by fasting during the holy month of Ramadan since fasting does indeed lead one to become conscientious of the needs of the needy, the destitute, and the indigent, hones one’s patience and forbearance, fortifies one in commitments, worship and prayers, and strengthens one’s belief in God, His angles, His messengers and Message.

So, let us pray as the month of fasting approaches that we attain Taqwaa. Let us pray specifically during these particularly tough global economic conditions that we give the poor the share which is due from the sustenance Granted us by God. Let us seek out those who have a need. Let us strive to first free ourselves from the bondage of slavery to the world of material and then to free others from the chains and burdens of bondage – the kind that is old and the kind that is modern. Let us pray that Allah, SWT, will Guide us in our efforts to ultimately attain His Satisfaction by becoming Mattaqoon. Let us pray, most significantly, that we choose Him as our only Master. You see, absolute freedom is only possible in absolute slavery. If we choose him as our only Master, then we free ourselves from the shackles bonding us to the traps and contraptions of the material world. Denying our bodies of nourishments as we fast gives us precisely the type of control we need to deny our souls of evil thoughts, intentions, and actions.

***1  The myopic understanding of the word Wayfarer or Traveler is a person who is simply traveling and may need assistance during the course of normal travels.  We must understand that the broader definition of Ibn Sabil or Traveler includes all the migrants and refugees of the world who have abandoned their homes due to wars,  calamities, or search for better opportunities; and, who are in need of assistance.  With this understanding, we as Muslims must help the thousands of refugees in our towns and the millions outside.  This is an often neglected category of the needy that are sometimes unintentionally excluded as eligible recipients of Zakat or Sadaga funds. 

***2  While slaves fall within the traditional definition and perception of those in bondage, many individuals and even residents of entire countries are held captive in the modern manifestations of slavery.   Indentured servants,  for instance, are modern slaves.  This is a worldwide phenomenon where people are lured away in hopes of work and decent income only to find themselves trapped in hard labor or prostitution unable to ever quit.  How many of us Muslims actively seek to liberate the modern slaves?  

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 6:53 pm  Comments (2)  

Why not start with words?

By: Masood Malikyar

President Obama’s address from Cairo last week is largely considered the most historic one ever given by an American President to the Muslim world.  He took a huge political risk  against the vociferous criticism of his rivals in the Republican party and the right wing media.  He covered a lot of ground and articulated his administration’s policy towards Muslims and Islam – until Cairo the latter was purposefully conflated with the word “terrorism” by his predecessors in the oval office and by the American mainstream media.  In a sharp departure from the past’s misguided and apocalyptic policies, he refused to utter the word even once in his entire address.

I as a Muslim living in America am proud to live in a country that is led by such a courageous leader.  I laud Mr. Obama for his courage and foresight.  I appreciate his articulation of the pressing issues facing Americans and Muslims, and I am ecstatic about how in one speech he shifted the entire discourse from hate and fear mongering towards tolerance, collaboration, and the promise of what is possible if prejudices were set aside.

It is high time for Muslims and Muslim governments to stand tall once again on the right side of history. We need to stand at the helm of knowledge and in the forefront of technological innovations as we stood once before and as President Obama so kindly recalled.  On the other hand,  President Obama has to follow his words with concrete actions using the same zeal embodied in his historic speech.  Words are only words to some if not translated into actions.  However, the words Mr. Obama uttered in Cairo were fresh, sincere, and promising.  He opened a whole new window of opportunity for all to grab regardless of nationality or creed.  Americans, Europeans, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others all can follow his lead in contributing to a future devoid of hatred and prejudice – first with words and then with tangible and effective actions.  Words do matter.  Islam has been equated with terrorism for too long.  Mr. Obama has taken the lead in disassociating these two words.   We all have to start somewhere.  Why not start with words?

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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By: Masood Malikyar

‘Ashura this year falls on Wednesday, January 7, in North America.  It is mustahab to fast and to give of what Allah SWT has given us in charity to those in need.

‘Ashura is also the day in which Yazid’s army mercilessly massacred Hussein ibn Ali RA, the grandson of our beloved Prophet SAW, along with dozens of his family members and companions in cold blood. That was a very dark day in history of Islam. However, his sacrifice, steadfastness, and unwavering stance against injustice and tyranny stands to serve as a model for all humanity and specifically for Muslims for all time to come.

So, let us celebrate ‘Ashura by fasting, by helping those in need, and by making du’as for the martyrs of ‘Ashura.

Published in: on January 5, 2009 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Muhammad SAW on Charity

By:  Masood Malikyar

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Giving in charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises." People then asked him: "From what do we give charity if we do not possess property?" He replied: "The doors of goodness are many – (saying) ‘glory to God,’ ‘praise be to God,’ ‘there is no deity but God,’ enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf (until you understand them), leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the weak with the strength of one’s arms – all of these are (forms of) charity prescribed for you.Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98

In another Hadith, he SAW is quoted to have said that even smiling to someone is a charity.  Let us keep this prophetic advice to heart and try to be as charitable as we can be – not just with our assets, but also with our minds and hearts.  God is the Most Charitable of all as he freely Gave the descendants of Adam so many capabilities.  Let’s give a little of what He Almighty Gave us lest we face Him on the day of judgment and be questioned how and why we  hoarded it all without ever giving back even some in return – to so many out there in need.

Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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