Archive for Social Issues

Urgent Help Needed for Famine Victims in East Africa

Assalamu Alaikum,

As we know, East Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. It has caused widespread famine that is severely affecting more than 11 million people, mainly women and children. With Ramadan coming up, it is our duty as Muslims to be more mindful of those in need. I invite you to use this holy month to participate in helping people in need in both East Africa and elsewhere. In addition to aiding people in desperate need, you will also be rewarded for “iftar sa’im” or providing the iftar meal for a fasting person. Ramadan is not only a time of massive iftars and celebration, but also a time of reflection and charity. Instead of spending time and resources on iftars in the US, we could use a large portion of that money to feed those starving in East Africa or elsewhere.

Our community has supported people in several other disasters and crises such as the earthquake and flooding in Pakistan, the tsunami disaster in South Asia, and other famines and crises. It is our job again to do our part and help our brothers and sisters in faith and humanity around the world.

There are many organizations that are actively seeking to alleviate the suffering in East Africa. The most prominent of which are Islamic Relief USA and Islamic Relief Worldwide. While these organizations are recommended because of their activism, I urge you to donate generously to any organization of your choice.

These donations can be from your annual zakat- ul-mal, regular sadaqa, or iftar sa’im.

Below are the links to organizations where you can get more information and donate online.

United Nations:  http://www.un.org/en/

Islamic Relief USA:  http://www.islamicreliefusa.org/east-africa-crisis

Islamic Relief Worldwide:  http://www.islamic-relief.com/Emergencies-And-Appeals/5-63-738-islamic-relief-launches-east-africa-crisis-appeal.aspx

 If you choose not to donate online, you can donate at your local Masjid or charity. Whatever  you do, may  Allah (SWT) accept it and reward you.

I encourage our Imams and community leaders to spread the word and raise awareness on this issue during Friday Khutbahs.

Please forward this information to anyone who can help the cause.

Wassalamu Alaikum

Libyan Protesters Remain Steadfast

By Aisha Ibrahim

The online world was abuzz after the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Working off the momentum of their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors, Libyan youth declared February 17 as the Day of Anger. The protests in Libya began in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya.

As a country where it is prohibited to protest, the people of Libya knew the risks they were taking.  The peaceful protests began in Benghazi with people chanting “Wake up, wake up Benghazi, the day you have been waiting for has come.” The protesters were confronted with live ammunition.  In the meantime, the regime controlled the media-aired footage of pro-Gadaffi rallies and people chanting slogans against Al-Jazeera News, who was quick to air any amateur footage that they received.  This marked the beginning of what was to become a bloodbath in the coming days. Most of the deaths are concentrated in the eastern cities of Benghazi, Al Baydah, Shahhat, and Derna.

Libyans are living in a state of constant paranoia and fear, a result of the regime’s tactics to end the protests immediately.  A man who spoke to CNN reported that he joined the protests because he became tired of constantly looking over his shoulder in fear of getting arrested.  No official opposition against the government exists since anyone who even thinks of protesting is quickly taken out by incarceration or death.  As a child living in Canada, I remember my parents always being wary of new Libyans coming to Canada because it was impossible to know whether they were Gadaffi spies or pro-government people. Some people went as far as to deny that they were Libyan so as to remove themselves from the radar of these people – nicknamed “antennas” by the families of Libyan dissidents in the west.  Although at times exaggerated, these fears were not completely misplaced – when dissidents were finally able to return to a country which banned their entrance for many years, they were interrogated by members of the internal security forces who showed them pictures of themselves, their homes and even their license plates in Canada.

The Gadaffi regime uses the tactic of spreading false rumors to frighten the peaceful protestors from protesting. Among these rumors are that the people protesting on the streets were external agents that were going to ruin Libya, the water supplies are poisoned, and phones are monitored.  Many Libyans who reside outside of Libya have tried to get information to share with the world, only to have their relatives tell them that “everything is ok.” Cities in the west such as Tripoli and Misratah have such a heavy security presence that it makes it difficult for protestors to leave their homes.  The regime has gone as far as to ban groups of people walking together on the streets of Tripoli; some residents claim that every home is under surveillance.

Through these challenging times, Libya’s young men and women are taking to the streets, where they are faced by foreign mercenaries hired to suppress their voices; hundreds have died. Through this devastating struggle we are reminded that from this same land came one of the most inspiring figures throughout history – Shaykh Omar Mokhtar – a brave fighter against the facist Italian occupation of Libya during the early twentieth century.  On horseback and armed with a rifle, his faith, and his love for his country, he fought and led a resistance against one of the most aggressively and well-equipped armies of their time. Our youth are fighting a regime that has no morals or scruples; they are going out in the streets armed with conviction and determination for a better life.  As Shaykh Omar said: “We will not surrender, we will win or we will die, this is not the end! You will fight us and you will fight the generations that follow us, until Libya is free.”

WAYS YOU CAN HELP LIBYANS

  1. MAKE DU`A’ - the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has taught us, “The servant’s du`a’ will be answered provided he does not ask for what is sinful or for the breaking off of relations, and also if he does not show impatience.” He was asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is impatience?’ And he replied, “That the servant says: I invoked, but I do not think it (my invocation) was answered, and he becomes disappointed and abandons supplication.” (Muslim)
  2. INFORM PEOPLE – Write op-eds and letters to the editor to your local newspapers. Blog about it. Use twitter and include the #Libya hashtag.
  3. SUPPORT NEWS MEDIA THAT IS DOING COVERAGE OF LIBYA – CLICK, CLICK, CLICK on news articles! And comment on them! And share them on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr. This is how news media thrives. It’s a sad reality, but clicks and comments encourage editors to cover a story more. Tweet “Thanks” to Anderson Cooper, AlJazeera, etc. Send them thank you letters.
  4. SIGN THESE PETITIONS: BP, Pull out of Libya now! (Change.org); Sanctions to stop Libya crackdowns (Change.org); Send help to Libya! (PetitionOnline)
  5. GO TO LOCAL SOLIDARITY PROTESTS - The Libyan people think no one cares about them. Sending them photos and videos of supporters brings up morale. If there are no protests planned for your city, plan one! Stage one in your university’s free speech zones!
  6. DISSEMINATE ONLINE RESOURCES – There is a lot of helpful, crowd-sourced material online right now. Like this crowd-sourced list of the dead. Or this number for free unmonitored Internet. Or even these instructions on how to control bleeding of a wound.
  7. MIRROR VIDEOS – Many videos are being taken down – especially Facebook videos. If you know how to, mirror the video and upload it yourself.
  8. TRANSLATE – If you know Arabic, help translate things like tweets, videos, audio, etc. The more people this information is accessible to, the better.
  9. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL STATESMEN AND WOMEN – Tell them you want the U.S. to acknowledge what’s happening in Libya. Tell them you want them to call for the resignation of Gaddafi. Tell them you want them to send aid to Libya. Tell them to support freedom. Tell them to support democracy. Tell them to CONDEMN THIS MASSACRE. Look here and here.
  10. SEND AIDMuslims Without Borders is organizing a medical convoy from Alexandria, Egypt to Libya. Send them money “earmarked” for Libya.
  11. Participate in the Global Evening of Qiyam for Libya this Saturday, February 26, 2011.

Courtesy of : Suhaibwebb.com at http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/international/libyan-protesters-remain-steadfast/

Bravo Egypt! Thoughts on the Revolution in Egypt – Imam Zaid Shakir – New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

The Egyptian people have accomplished one of the major objectives of their historic revolution. They have brought the thirty-year reign of Hosni Mubarak to an end. As they celebrate, from Alexandria in the north down to Aswan in the south, they realize that this is only the beginning of the long and arduous march to a free and open system that will guarantee their dignity and fundamental rights. However, every journey has a beginning and this glorious beginning is a harbinger of a glorious end. As the great Egyptian sage, Ibn ‘Ata Allah Sankadari, mentioned, “An illuminated beginning is a portent of an illuminated end.” May that be so in the case of the Egyptian Revolution.

The size and strategic position of Egypt, her central place in America’s geo-strategic planning, her historical leadership of the Arab world and the sheer magnitude of the security “apparatus” that the people had to overcome to reach this point will ensure that the ongoing revolution will be deeply studied by many for decades to come. Here are some of my reflections on the revolution thus far.

First of all, I do not write these lines as someone unfamiliar with Egyptian society. Upon completing my graduate studies in 1986 I departed for a year of Arabic studies in Cairo. As a poor student with only the irregular salary from my part-time job as an English teacher at the ‘Aziz Billah Mosque in the Zaytoun section of Cairo, I ate what my neighbors ate, namely a steady diet of Ful and Ta’miyya sandwiches, supplemented by pickled turnips. I slept on the floor of the masjid with my brothers during my Ramadan retreat. And I rode the crowded buses, becoming adept at grabbing the pole and jumping into the backdoor of those constantly moving, diesel-belching wrecks.

I also had an opportunity to become familiar with the expansive reach of the secret police, the Mukhabarat. One day while walking to one of my classes, I was offered a “taxi” ride to the mosque where the class was being held. In my then broken Arabic and through pointing I indicated that the mosque was only two blocks away. The driver and the passenger in the front seat insisted that they take me to the Mosque. I was adamant in my insistence that I walk the remaining distance. Finally, one of them flashed a badge and demanded that I get in the car. Upon doing so, I was bombarded with a barrage of questions asking what I was doing in Cairo, did I know this or that Muslim personality, where was I really going, etc. Finally, convinced that I was just a student from America they let me go, but not before rifling through my briefcase and helping themselves to a few “souvenirs.”

I was allowed to go on to my destination, but for far too many Egyptians, their “taxi rides” ended on the “dark side.” I had the opportunity to get first hand descriptions of that “dark side” by talking to many Egyptians who had been in the “Zinzanah,” the torture cells of the regime. They spoke of the beatings, the cigarette burns, the dogs, and other horrors they had experienced directly or witnessed. This is part of the reality that contributed to the revolution that has succeeded in ousting Hosni Mubarak.

In the events leading up to and now culminating with Mubarak’s resignation there are accusations, such as that articulated in an editorial in the Israeli daily, Haaretz, that Obama will go down in history for losing Egypt. This sentiment succinctly expresses the deep, dehumanizing racism that has driven the policy of supporting authoritarian dictators in the Middle East. These paternalistic tyrants will keep their “children” in their “place” to protect foreign interests. The same racist sentiment also drives the idea of Muslim “exceptionalism.” Muslims in the Middle East, we were told, are too irresponsible, reckless or just plain undeserving of governing themselves.

The people of Egypt have shown that they are not the property of any foreign power to be owned, used, abused and then discarded or possibly “lost.” They are human, men and women determined to carve out a dignified existence for themselves and their progeny. In so doing, they have shattered, to this point, virtually every myth and stereotype encouraging Americans to view Muslims as our inherent enemies. For example, we have been told that Muslims are bloodthirsty savages. We have been told that political Islam is a totalitarian system that knows of no compromise. Yet in Egypt, as in Tunisia, we have seen a majority Muslim population engage in a nonviolent revolution. The Muslim ideologues in the movement, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have cooperated with their Christian and secular fellow citizens aspiring to a new Egypt, not as a domineering and condescending force, but as full partners.The youth have been universally recognized as the visionaries who expanded the realm of the politically possible. Finally, women have been accepted as equal if not surpassing agents of change -the heroine of the revolution is a brave and defiant woman, Asmaa Mahfuz, whose youtube appeal was critical in the success of the pivotal January 25, 2011 mobilization. All of these characteristics make the Egyptian revolution one of the great sociopolitical developments of this new century.

Here in the United States many politicians and pundits are asking, “Why didn’t we see this coming?” I will offer my answer here. Specifically, American policy-making towards the Middle East has become dominated by anti-Muslim bigots. They have projected their own fears onto the governing elite and created such an obsession with so-called radical Islam that the latter has accepted the draconian (and profitable for some) measures being put into place to fight it, including support for “moderate” regimes like Mubarak’s. All the while, they have failed to take note of the real, dynamic politics on the ground in the Middle East and the civil society that has sprung up around those politics. The Egyptian Revolution has shown just how weak and marginal so-called radical Islam is in most Muslim societies. In one of the great ironies of history, the violent nihilists of “radical Islam,” besides the army, represent one of the few potential counter-revolutionary forces in Egypt.

The road ahead in Egypt will not be an easy one. There are powerful interests, both in Egypt and in other countries who were profiting lavishly from the ancient regime and the system of crony capitalism it has put in place to syphon off the country’s wealth. They have much to lose from a new system and will fight hard to preserve at least some of the privileges they formerly possessed. New institutions will have to be built. A new balance of power will have to be hammered out between the groups the protesters represent and the older, more established parties and groups who supported the protests, along with those who did not. The health care and university systems, both of which have been destroyed by mindless and neglectful policies, will have to be rebuilt. The minefields of the Palestinian situation will also have to be traversed.  However, that is tomorrow’s work and tomorrow’s worry. As for today, let the people of Egypt celebrate. Bravo, Egypt, Bravo!

Originally posted on http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/bravo_egypt/

Today’s Opening of the Red Sea (Lessons from Egypt)

By Yasmin Mogahed

When Prophet Musa (as) stood in front of the Red Sea, a tyrant and his army approached from behind. Some of those in Musa’s midst began to divide. Looking ahead, those people saw only defeat:

“And when the two bodies saw each other, the people of Moses said: ‘We are sure to be overtaken.’”(Qur’an, 26:61).

But Musa (as) had different eyes. His eyes were spiritual eyes that saw through the illusions of worldly hardship and defeat. He saw through. With a heart connected to the Most High, looking at the same seemingly impossible situation, Musa saw only God:

26:62

“(Moses) said: ‘By no means! My Lord is with me! He will guide me through!’” (Qur’an, 26:61-62)

And indeed Allah did just that:

“Then We told Moses by inspiration: ‘Strike the sea with thy rod.’ So it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain. And We made the other party approach thither. We delivered Moses and all who were with him; But We drowned the others.” (Qur’an, 26: 63-66).

Today in Egypt, we are standing in front of a Red Sea. Today in Egypt, a tyrant and his army are at our back.  Today, there are some who see only defeat. But, there are others whose eyes are looking through the blockade to the path and the hope beyond it. Today in Egypt, there are some who – even with a tyrant at their back – are saying:

إِنَّ مَعِيَ رَبِّي سَيَهْدِينِ

“Indeed my Lord is with me, He will guide me through.”

One might wonder why, at such a critical time in history, we would retell an ancient story. Why would something that happened thousands of years ago be relevant today? The reason is that it is not just a story. Nor is it ancient. It is an everlasting sign and a lesson for all time. In the very next ayah, Allah says:

26:67

“Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.” (26:67)

It is a sign of the Reality of God and the secrets of this world. It is a sign that tyranny never wins and that obstacles are only illusions, created to test us, train us, and purify us. But most of all it is a sign of where success comes from. And it is a vision of what that success, against all odds—at a time we think we’re trapped, defeated, and powerless—really looks like.

Some might ask why, if we are indeed on the side of God, does victory not come easily? Some might wonder why God doesn’t just give the righteous victory without immense struggle and sacrifice. The answer to this question is also given by God. He tells us:

7:94

“And We did not send a prophet in a town but We overtook its people with distress and affliction in order that they might humble themselves (reach a state of tadaru’).” (Qur’an, 7:94)

Here, Allah says that the purpose of the affliction is to reach a state of tadaru. Tadaru is humility before God – but it is not just humility. To understand the concept of tadaru, imagine yourself in the middle of an ocean. Imagine that you are all alone on a boat. Imagine that a huge storm comes and the waves become mountains surrounding you. Now imagine turning to God at that point and asking for His help. In what state of need, awe, dependency and utter humility would you be in? That is tadaru. Allah says that He creates conditions of hardship in order to grant us that gift. God does not need to make things hard for us. He creates those situations in order to allow us to reach a state of closeness to Him, which otherwise we’d be unlikely to reach.

That priceless state of humility, nearness and utter dependence on God is what the Egyptian people have been blessed with today. Allahu akbar – God is great. But Allah mentions another purpose for these hardships and struggles. He says:

7:168

“And We divided them throughout the earth into different groups. Of them some were righteous, and of them some were otherwise. And We tested them with good [times] and bad that perhaps they would return [to obedience].” (Qur’an, 7:168).

In Surat ali-Imran, Allah tells us:

If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loveth not those that do wrong. Allah’s object also is to purify those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing Those that resist Faith. Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?” (Qur’an, 3:140-142).

Here, Allah describes the purpose of hardship as being tamhees. Tamhees is the same word used to describe the heating and purifying of gold. Without heating it up, gold is precious metal—but it’s full of impurities. By performing tamhees, a process of heating, the impurities are removed from gold. This is what God also does with the believers. Through hardships, believers are purified—just like gold.

And so too are the Egyptians being purified. Only days before the uprising, the world had considered the Egyptian youth a lost cause. We believed they had lost their direction and their purpose. We believed that they had chosen to live their lives on the streets, catcalling girls, or at internet cafes smoking hookah. Through this hardship, the Egyptian youth have been brought back from the dead.

Now, these youth are standing on the streets in defiance of tyranny, on their knees praying, and with their hands facing the sky, calling on their Lord. The same people who just days before barely prayed, stand today in front of military tanks to bow down to their Creator. Only days before the uprising, the tensions between Egyptian Muslims and Christians had grown to an all-time high. Today the Christians and Muslims stand side by side in defense of each other and their country. The same people who did not trust each other the day before their ‘heating,’ have come together as brothers and sisters, as one body, to defend their streets, their homes, and their neighborhoods. And through this hardship, a person who only days before lived for his cell phone, sheesha, and cigarettes, has become willing to sacrifice his own life to give freedom to his people.

Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

10:31

“Say: ‘Who is it that sustains you (in life) from the sky and from the earth? Or who is it that has power over hearing and sight? And who is it that brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living? And who is it that rules and regulates all affairs?’ They will soon say, ‘(Allah)’.  Say, ‘Will you not then show piety (to Him)?’” (Qur’an, 10:31)

It is Allah who brings the living out of the dead. He has brought us back from the dead. Don’t think for a moment that a single moment of this is not happening with a purpose—a deep, profound and beautiful, liberating purpose. For decades the Egyptian people have lived a life of fear. But when you let fear control you, you are a slave. Allah has liberated the Egyptian people from this slavery, by making them face–and overcome–their greatest fear. Allah has liberated the Egyptian people by allowing them to look their oppressor in the eye and tell him, and the whole world, that they will no longer live in fear.  And so whether Mubarak stays or goes, lives or dies—it doesn’t really matter. The Egyptian people have already been liberated.

They have been liberated.

Hosni Mubarak is irrelevant. He is nothing but a tool—a tool by which God carries out His plan for the Egyptian people and for the entire Ummah. A tool to carry out His plan to purify, beatify and liberate the Egyptian people and the Ummah. And whether we are in Egypt today or not is unimportant. Egypt is just one limb of our body. The purification of Egypt is a purification of the whole body of our Ummah. It is the purification of you and me. It is our chance to ask ourselves to what are we attached. What are we afraid of? What are we striving for? What do we stand for? And where are we going?

When a body is in a deep, deep slumber—a coma—it is only out of His infinite mercy that He sends us a wakeup call. It is only from His infinite mercy that He sends to us life where there was once only death. We were heedless, so He sent us a sign. We were asleep, so he woke us up. We worshiped this life, and preferred our material possessions to the liberation of a soul attached to, and afraid of nothing but Him—so He freed us.

How many people will experience something like this in their lifetime? How many people will experience the opening of a Sea, the humbling of a tyrant? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves why we were chosen to see it? Shouldn’t we ask ourselves what we were intended to learn, change, transform? Because if we think for a moment this is all just about the people of Egypt, then we have desperately missed the point. We were asleep, and Allah chose to wake us.

We were dead and Allah wants to give us life.

We were conditioned to believe that our enemy was outside of ourselves. That he had power over us. This is also an illusion. The enemy is inside of us. All external enemies are only manifestations of our own diseases. And so if we want to conquer those enemies, we must first conquer the enemy inside ourselves. This is why the Qur’an tells us:

13:11

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they first change what is in themselves.” (Qur’an, 13:11)

We must first conquer greed, selfishness, shirk, ultimate fear, love, hope and dependence on anything other than Allah. We must conquer hubb ad-dunya (love of dunya)—the root of all our diseases, and all our oppression. Before we can defeat the Pharaohs in our lives, we must defeat the Pharaoh inside ourselves. So the fight in Egypt is a fight for liberation. Yes. But liberation from what? Who is truly oppressed? Are you and I free? What is true oppression? Ibn Taymiyyah (ra) answers this question when he says: “The one who is (truly) imprisoned is the one whose heart is imprisoned from Allah and the captivated one is the one whose desires have enslaved him.” (Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Wabil)

When you are free inside, you will never allow anyone to take away your freedom.  And when you have inner freedom, you can look through tyrants and thugs to the Lord of the tyrants and thugs. When you are free inside, you become unenslaveable, because you can only enslave a person with attachments. You can only threaten a person who is afraid of loss. You only have power over someone when they need or want something that you have the ability to take away. But there is only one thing which no person has the power to take away from you: God.

And so when we fight to free Egypt, on a grander and realer scale it is a fight to also free ourselves. It is a fight to free ourselves of the tyranny of our own nafs and desires. A fight to free ourselves from our own false attachments and dependencies, from all that controls us, from all that we worship—other than Him. It is a fight to free us from our own slavery. Whether we are slaves to the American dollar, to our own desires, to status, to wealth, or to fear—the purification of Egypt is a purification of us all.

That is why the formula for true success given to us in the Qur’an consists of two elements: Sabr (patience, perseverance) and Taqwa (fear of God alone):

3:200

“O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear God (alone) that you may be successful.” (Qur’an 3:200).

So if we watch Egypt today as if it is only a spectacle happening outside of ourselves, without cleaning, examining, and really changing ourselves and our lives, then we have missed it’s purpose.

After all, it isn’t every day that a sea is opened before our very eyes.

Orignially posted on www.suhaibwebb.com

Da’wah in the Age of iPhones

by Jannah

“By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),
Verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith,
and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching
of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.”
(Qur’an, Chapter 103)

In the 103rd chapter of the Qur’an, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted is He) gives us a blueprint for our lives:  Have faith, do righteous deeds, and join together to teach people truth, patience and constancy. Our first priority then is to have this faith and to do good deeds as individuals, families and a collective community. Secondly, we need to teach others.

Everyday, people interact and learn from the internet. The world is now so wired that people sleep with their iPhones so that they don’t miss anything. (Yes admit it!) The statistics on how obsessed people are with things like Facebook are mind-boggling. The internet ‘cloud’ is now the living space of the world. Everyday, there are new and more sophisticated anti-Islamic websites, rants on Youtube and powerful bloggers that publish their latest Islamophobic tirades. Where are the Muslims?

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf once said, “Spend a little time on the Internet, and search for issues related to Islam, the way people who have little or no knowledge about Islam might do if they were curious about our religion. Try Google searches for terms like “jihad” or “women in Islam,” and see the top websites and links that appear. Compare some of the websites run by Muslims with the ones run by people attacking the Muslims, and note the difference.” Indeed, what we will find is that we still have a lot of work to do. Not just for non-Muslims but for Muslims as well. We need to do something to counter this disinformation about Islam.

“Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching;
and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious:
for thy Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.”
(Qur’an, 16:125)

My philosophy since the 90’s has not been that we need to convert people. That is not our job. Faith is something that is between a person and Allah (swt). Our job is to present the real, true, good Islam. It is up to people if they want to believe, understand, sympathize or hate. (There will always be people who won’t believe and we should accept that.) However, we should not accept when the Palin-Geller monsters of the world create a “terrorism-honor-killing-jeehad-shariah-izlam” and present that to the world as our faith. That is not fair, and it’s about time that each of us participates in taking back our own narrative. The Qur’an asks us to join together in this mutual teaching. We need to step up, participate, represent, and bring true Islam to the people.

You might ask at this point if one person/website/blog/video/tweet can make a difference. The way I look at it is, that if one person is affected positively by what you’ve created, it is well worth the effort. (It can even be beneficial to you.)

So the typical image of an Islamic website you might have is of an elderly scholarly Shaykh (with a big beard) posting long religious edicts! Or perhaps a programmer in big glasses typing feverishly away in complex programming languages. Yet, the websites of today are far more nuanced and don’t have to be in ‘traditional website’ form. Easy software, helpful guides and simple interfaces make everything accessible, even to those not technically inclined. You also do not have to be a scholar or “perfect” in religiosity to show different aspects and positive sides of Islam.

A few great examples of non-traditional ‘Islamic websites’ that have popped up recently:

  1. Muslim heroes/Muslims wearing things – blogs in response to Islamophobes showing the huge diversity of what Muslims are doing to serve the world and what Muslims actually look like and wear.
  2. iPhone Islamic apps – now you can do everything from finding a Halal restaurant in a new city to memorizing online with a Tajweed master.
  3. How-to-Hijab videos – Youtube videos showing girls how to pin their Hijabs.
  4. Twitter’s Hadith-a-day – tweets a reflective Hadith a day to thousands of followers.
  5. Muslim media & radio shows – broadcasting everything from Qur’an recitation to discussions on relevant topics for Muslims.
  6. Halal food blog – all about creating great Halal recipes, good substitute ingredients and traditional foods from the Muslim world.
  7. Muslim anime artists – creating anime and comics representing Muslims and their struggles.
  8. Flickr collections – showing Muslim architecture, art and life throughout the Muslim world through photos.
  9. Facebook fan pages – fan pages on such diverse topics as Salahuddin Ayyubi, Muslims & Science Fiction and Steampunk Shariah.
  10. Youtube Muslim skits & parodies – cartoons, skits and entertainment for all, by funny people and MSAs.
  11. Yahoo! comments – Muslims who comment on Islam related articles to counter all the hate. (Hey, we have to start somewhere!)

These are all just ordinary, individual Muslims using their talent to educate and spread Islam online. They’re not perfect and I’m sure their diverse opinions will differ, along with the way they went about things, but the point is they are regular, normal, struggling Muslims expressing their own faith, interests and daily lives to others.

So what about the rest of us? There are so many Muslims that have such great talents and skills. Each of us can contribute to this mutual teaching. So how do we get started in making something beneficial? And what are some steps in the process?

But oars alone can ne’er prevail to reach the distant coast;
The breath of Heaven must swell the sail, or all the toil is lost.

– William Cowper

Pre-Step 1: Purify your intention. Anything we do should be for Allah (swt), so it’s important to keep in mind our goals and original intentions.

Step 1: Find your niche. Do you have any special abilities or talents? Do you know how to program Islamic widgets, themes, apps, software? What are you interested in? Do you like politics? Art? Software? Poetry? History? Fashion? What kind of website do you want to create? Do you want to start a blog? Create some funny videos? Gather articles on a specific topic? Live stream local lectures and study circles? Start a forum for a certain hobby? Open a Yahoogroup for people similar to you or for your local community? Every Muslim can contribute in their own way, so think of the way you can best contribute, using your interests and skills.

Step 2: Do some research. See what’s out there in the areas you’re interested in. Who is the audience you are targeting? Muslims, non-Muslims – both or a specific group? Do you think your website will be useful to them? Does it add value to what is already out there? How is it different or needed? Analyze what works and what doesn’t. Seeing other things might spark some new ideas or help you find where you are most needed. If the idea is out there already, you could do something similar or a little different. If someone is already doing what you’re interested in, then you should join and strengthen them. You might even want to contribute something or help an established site out there already instead of starting something new.

Step 3: Get started. Create some content! You don’t have to buy your own domain and host your own site at this point, which can be expensive and technically complicated. You can use free services like WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr, Deviantart, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Find things you can use for your site, write to publishers and authors for permission. Write articles, create videos, and start tweeting. Be smart, innovative, creative and fresh. There is so much potential for us out there with so many great ideas.

Step 4: Advertise and allow for feedback. Advertise in Google, post comments on other blogs, and list your site in Islam related search engines. Ask other website owners, friends and those who might be interested to take a look and give you suggestions. Tweak and change where needed. Keep your goal in mind and don’t mind negative criticism. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the response you wanted. The internet is a big place, but know that you have contributed positively, insha’Allah (God willing).

Step 5: Try to keep it up. This is actually the hardest step. There are so many outdated and orphaned Islamic sites out there. Or worse, good things that were completely deleted! Don’t destroy good work. Pass it on, delegate or encourage others to continue. Keep updating and posting, be current and in touch.

“The World is three days:
As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it.
As for tomorrow, you may never see it.
As for today, it is yours, so work in it.”
- Hasan al-Basri

Some guidelines that can help keep your website da’wah (call to Islam) friendly:

  1. Keep sites small, simple, clear and organized. With more and more people accessing the web using their mobile and hand-held devices, a complex and maze-like site is near impossible to navigate.  Include what the site is about, who it’s for, who’s behind it, what we can find and why. There’s no point to androgynous, nameless, anonymous Islamic sites. People crave a personal connection, so why not share who you are and what you’re about as a Muslim.
  2. Share, collaborate and work with others that have the same goals and interests. What’s better? Having 10 tiny sites with a few articles here and there on ‘Women in Islam’ or having one collaborative site by ten people on women in Islam? Obviously, synergy is better. Let’s strengthen and grow what we have already. Then, strive to expand your site, recruit contributors and moderators, and make your website a collective effort. We can also work with non-Muslims in our shared goals as well. It’s of interest to note that in Surah al-Asr, Allah (swt) mentioned universal principals that we all share. So a site on Hijab (head covering) can collaborate with those of other religions that talk about their covering traditions. A site on a Muslim soup kitchen should link with other charitable groups.
  3. Avoid controversial Islamic issues and Fatwas; let’s leave those to the real scholars. Some sites can easily degrade into fighting over five issues: Shia/Sunni, moonsighting, meat, music and Mawlid. It can get ugly. People also ask difficult complex Fiqh (understanding of Islamic laws) questions because they really need help. It’s easy to give them an answer, but we may not have the wisdom or knowledge to give them the best answer. For example, we could give them a very strict, difficult opinion we know of, while there is an easier and just as Islamic way out there. We’re also unable to know all the details and conditions of a person’s problems or follow up with them. Leave it to the professionals.
  4. Use wisdom and kindness when speaking to other Muslims and to non-Muslims. Follow the general Islamic guidelines of Adab (proper conduct relating to each other and with the opposite gender). It’s amazing what some people say online. I’m reminded of an old Dawud Wharnsby song, ‘We use so many words but have so little to relay/ as angels scribble down every letter that we say/ All the viral attachments sent and passionate insults we vent/ It’s easy to be arrogant behind user passwords we invent/ But on the day the scrolls are laid, with every word and deed displayed/ when we read our accounts, I know, for one, I’ll be afraid.’ People may think they’re anonymous, but guaranteed you are not. Remember that literally thousands of people are reading your words, including many many non-Muslims (and government agencies). We forget that words have a powerful effect even through a computer screen. Arguing with your Muslim brother/sister to such an extent where hate starts to bloom is just wrong. A Golden Rule: Never post when you’re angry. Wait a day or two, and then respond calmly.
  5. While ‘counter’ websites are needed, such as those dispelling myths, countering religious dogmas and refuting certain anti-Islamic sites, it’s better to create positive websites about Islam. We can talk all day about how X is wrong but it will not bring a person to Z. Any form of negativity also can keep people from learning more. Again, we’re not trying to forcibly convert anyone. We just want to show the truth about Islam and Muslims so people can understand it and us.
  6. Allow some room for interactivity, so you’re not just sticking static pages out there. Imagine a very long lecture without any Q&A at the end! You can enable comments or have some kind of guestbook or even have an email address available. Rather than sending a one way dissemination of knowledge, you end up with ‘relationships’ and ‘conversations’. This brings a website to life. Don’t mind the haters. Feel free to censor them and keep your comments moderated. (There are so many Islamic videos/sites with disgusting comments. There’s no need to have them there.)
  7. Stick mostly to English (or your main language) and explain concepts and words where possible. Too much of Arabic or a different language may cause people not to understand what you’re saying. It may even make Islam seem like a ‘foreign religion only for foreigners’. Even if your site is for Muslims only, not everyone knows complex Islamic terminology, Arabic or Arabic script. It’s very difficult to learn about Islam when you also have to learn Arabic and learn all about Arab and Desi (Indian and Pakistani) cultures! Also, keep things relatable to your audience. Using examples like going to the Souk is probably going to be foreign to westerners, just like ordering a pizza would be inexplicable to someone in Damascus.
  8. Balance design versus content, form versus function. There are many beautifully designed and technically advanced sites with little value content wise, and there are some sites that are so rich with information and resources but have no infrastructure. People don’t know how to access the information available or even that it’s there. Try to keep both in mind, as both are important.
  9. Attribute, get permission and follow internet protocols and copyrights. It’s not cool to steal. This is because people spend time and energy to create something, just like you, and they want it to be out there a certain way. Most authors/artists have no problem with sharing as long as you ask their permission. To recreate or copy someone’s entire site is redundant. Why not join others or contribute something new instead?
  10. Lastly, this may seem strange, but the most important concept for Islamic webmasters/app designers/admins to remember, is to be fair. Be fair to your users, to your ‘competitors’, to other Muslims, to non-Muslims and to the greater internet sphere. Be open-minded and just in how you present things, how you attribute things, and how you handle things. You might be the creator and administrator, but you’re more like a diplomat at the UN. Everyone has their rights and everything should be balanced. Give people your time and help. Respond to all those who email you, write to you and even criticize you. Stick to what you know and can do. There’s an Arabic proverb that says ‘one cannot give what they do not have’. If we are not educated in an Islamic topic we should not talk about it, if we do not know the politics of a region we should not enter into a debate over it. In the same way, whatever we create should be something we have knowledge of, and a love for.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
– Rumi

I hope one day to find such diverse sites as a comprehensive commentary on all those ‘controversial verses’ in the Qur’an, academic and interesting responses to current Islamic issues in the media, a detailing of the Muslim response to 9/11, Muslim bloggers and tweeters with thousands of dedicated inter-faith followers,  interactive live streaming of every Muslim-related event in North America, and of course, a site on how to make the perfect Ramadan cupcakes!

Jazakamullahu khairan. May Allah reward you all.

Jannah is the founder of Jannah.org, one of the first Islamic websites ever, and is also the founder and administrator of two discussion-board sites, themadina.com and halfmydeen.org. Jannah can be reached at jannahorg@yahoo.com.

This article was originally posted on www.suhaibwebb.com.

Eight Reflections from an American Student in Cairo


Wednesday, February 3, 2011

I write this message on the first day of being back in America having traveled from Cairo. It was with an incredibly heavy heart that I had to leave. When the protests started and the situation was uncertain, my husband and I had to make a choice: will we stick it out in Cairo, join the protests, and serve the cause of freedom and human dignity with our neighbors there? Or will we leave and try to the serve the same cause but in a different way in America? After istikharah (the prayer of guidance) and shura (consulting with others), the decision was to leave.

All the while, we prayed that if there was something Allah (subhanahu wata’alaI – exalted is He) wanted us to do for His sake in Cairo—if staying in Cairo was more pleasing to Him–that He closed off the means to return to America completely. And if what we could do in America is more pleasing to Him, then He closed off the means for us to participate in Cairo, and He makes the way to America easy and open. After the decision was made, we tried to plan our departure as quickly and safely as possible, and subhan’Allah I (glory be to Allah), it was easy and open, while message after message from the Egyptians and others that we know was consistently telling us to “go home.” Subhan’Allah, at the same time, I know a western sister whose father is a prominent international figure, and various factors in her situation pointed to the decision to stay in Egypt and participate with her brother, and see this thing through. I believe we were both guided to what was best for us. And yet, the great fear that I had and still have is to not betray the amanah (trust) of what we were destined to witness. Below are some scattered reflections on this experience and what we can take from it:

1. This is not an Egyptian issue, it’s an Ummah issue, and even broader than that—a human issue.

 

While millions around the world watch the news to see what is going on in Egypt, we have to realize how significant this struggle is to both the Muslim ummah and the world at large. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that this ummah is like one human body; when one part of it hurts, the rest of the body also experiences the pain. The protests that have erupted globally are a testament to the fact that our ummah is alive and able to feel. Another issue we have to keep in mind is the pivotal role that Egypt plays. Whichever way Egypt goes, there will be a ripple effect throughout the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world. What started in Tunisia, spread to Egypt. Already Algeria has announced the end of their 19-year infamous emergency law, and Yemen is also protesting. This is a pivotal moment in our history; perhaps akin to the Badr of our times. The struggle for human freedom, justice, and dignity is one that must be honored and supported by every God-fearing Muslim. Therefore it is incumbent upon all of us as Muslims to not just look upon this issue as spectators, but as those who feel personally invested.

It is a human issue. Subhan’Allah, when I was in the airport I was talking to a non-Muslim woman who was heading to America. She told me that if it were not for her own daughter’s safety, she would have stayed and joined the protesters. She said something beautiful that stayed with me: “Every country that ever wanted freedom had to fight for it.” Another thing I was struck by was when I asked her what her plans were on return, she said: “I’m going to join the protests and efforts I can find in Texas.” She told me she had tried to start a business in Egypt, and her accountant had told her it would cost $15,000 plus bribes. The accountant also said the best business licenses were only given to people who had personal connections to Mubarak, and unless there was a way to get referred, there really was no point in trying. This non-Muslim woman taught me in a matter of moments that we should all, as human beings who honor justice and equality, have the drive to get involved, and speak out against the corruption and oppression in Egypt.

It is not for Israel or America to decide who the interim president will be when Mubarak steps down. I say “when” and not “if” because as far as the Egyptian people are concerned, getting rid of Mubarak is not a point of compromise.

We need to pressure our governments, no matter where in the world we may be, to call for free and fair elections in Egypt, and allow the people themselves to choose the interim leader. The interim leader cannot be someone associated with the Mubarak regime in any way. We must voice our opposition to any effort that undermines the people’s choice.

2. Courage is in rising above fear to do what is principled, with full tawakul in Allah (swt).

Last Saturday, we had Imam Suhaib and his wife over at our place in Cairo for lunch when we heard a call from the microphone of the masjid and some screaming in the street.  It was announced that thugs were let loose and looting different areas. The call asked for all the young men to come down and protect the neighborhood, their families, their wealth, and their honor. At that moment, we didn’t have any idea of how many thugs to expect. Would it be truckloads of men, would be in the hundreds, would it only be a few? Subhan’Allah I remember standing on the balcony listening to the announcement and my husband turning towards me saying, “I have to go.” He and Imam Suhaib went to the kitchen, grabbed some broomsticks, and headed into the street to help protect the neighborhood. I asked my husband later how it was that he didn’t hesitate, and went immediately into the face of the unknown. He admitted that in the beginning there is a moment of fear, but you just have to make a choice to overcome it, and be ready to face the consequences for the cause you believe in. Subhan’Allah, that incident is symbolic as to what happened on a much larger scale for the whole country. The news kept reporting that “the wall of fear has come down.” A few weeks ago, we could have never imagined people saying anything negative about Mubarak on the telephones which are all assumed to be tapped, let alone demonstrate in the millions. What changed was people made a choice not to be afraid anymore. They made a choice to take a stand and accept the consequences of that courage.

We heard that a young man who was part of the neighborhood watch on the other side of our neighborhood was killed by a thug who shot him in the head. It was assumed locally that the thug was working for the regime, as they are the only ones with easy access to guns. When people in the neighborhood discussed this incident, subhan’Allah they were not overcome by grief, sadness or fear. They answered solemnly, “Shaheed insha’Allah.” He is a martyr, God willing. The discussion that followed showed how people recognized that martyrdom is a price that will be paid in their struggle for human dignity and freedom. Some young men who were protesting wore white thawbs with signs on them, saying that this is the cloth they may be buried in. Azhari students and shuyukh also protested in Tahrir, recognizing that though al-Azhar is government funded, its people of knowledge will still speak against the oppression of the government. People were so overjoyed to see them they tried to carry them on their shoulders. It is really something to witness a people who have lost their fear and are relying on Allah. If this ordeal lasts a long time, it will be those whose struggle is based in their relationship with Allah who will have the patience to endure and stay strong.

3. Just as oppression creates many ills, hope in Allah and the freedom to practice can heal them.

 

Having lived in Egypt for a number of years now, one of the issues that people faced socially was the difficulty of getting married due to the economy. As the average age for getting married increased well into the 30s for men, so too did the social ills of harassment, leering, and cat calling. Yet, on my street the neighborhood watch was made of these same young men, some who would normally be seen hitting on women. In this environment, given the opportunity, hope and freedom to participate in a process that asserted their own dignity, these young men rose to the occasion. They were the chivalrous guards of the community, protecting and respecting the women instead of harassing them. At some point, one of them buzzed the apartment and addressed me as their sister, warning me to fill up water bottles because of a rumor that the water might get turned off. I felt safer on my street during the days of the neighborhood watch than any other time in Egypt. Some of these young men took extremely long shifts, lost a lot of sleep, and were still the first responders in the middle of the cold nights when false alarms went off. While oppression has the power to undermine manhood, the fight for human freedom and dignity has the power to assert it.

Another powerful image was that of the masajid and the small mussalahs being full for the daily prayers. People who never came for the regular prayers started to come regularly. As the masjid became a place of organizing and free speech, the community came together and spoke for once openly about all that was on their minds. The sweet taste of freedom of expression followed by the sweet taste of praying next your neighbors while the Imam makes qunut al-nazilah (the du`a’ when hardship descends) is something the people cherished. While oppression alienates neighbors, and makes people lose hope and even iman, struggling for a just cause brings people together, increases hope and even iman. Hearing different American students say that the masajid near their places were full for prayers was something that increased my hope as Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is within themselves. I pray the iman rush is not temporary and that the Imams use these moments to emphasize the role of self-development and tarbiya in seeking success from Allah (swt).

4. The importance of having a “Fiqh of Priorities”

Freedom of religion, expression and assembly are all necessary elements of any just society. Muslims, Christians, and secularists in Egypt all understand this. While Egypt is a Muslim majority, I was happy to see that various Muslim groups took the inclusive approach of seeking justice and freedom for all. From makeshift clinics, to neighborhood watch efforts, to the protests themselves, everyone acted as participants and not as opportunists. When they were interviewed, they spoke about democracy and freedom. I compared this to some of the other commentators, who took these moments as an opportunity to claim credit and undermine the efforts of others. This is not a time to focus on differences. Salafis, Sufis, Tablighis, Ikhwanis, secularists, conservatives, liberals, Christians and others have a goal they all need to protect with their lives: freedom, democracy and the rule of law. With freedom, each group can participate, organize freely and call people to their da`wah. This is a time to unite on shared values–not get caught up in the blame-game. Once the people have won this struggle for a just and free government, they can debate all they want about the future of Egypt. It’s important to have a fiqh of priorities and not contribute to division during a time when basic human rights and dignity are at stake.

Courtesy of Muslema Purmul, http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/international/eight-reflections-from-an-american-student-in-cairo/

Shaykh Abdul Maqsood’s Ruling on the Events in Egypt-Translated by Ibrahim Hindy


Since the events in Egypt unfolded, many of us have been waiting to hear what the scholars of Egypt think about the demonstrations. Alhamdulillah, today (after the internet was turned on in Egypt) some of the voices of the scholars have emerged.

Below I have translated the transcript of Shaykh Muhammad Abdul Maqsood, a famous scholar and da’ee (preacher) in Egypt, answering a number of questions presented to him regarding the current events.

Ibrahim Hindy
MA Candidate, Usul al-Fiqh
Al-Madinah International University

I have received a paper asking, in light of the recent situation in Egypt, a number of questions:

Question:

Is it permissible for us to participate with those who are demonstrating?

Answer:

Yes, it is permissible to participate with those who are demonstrating. This (action) does not fall under the category of Khurooj against the leader, which I have explained in great detail at a previous juncture, however I will explain it as well for your benefit.

In the Sharh of Sahih Muslim by Imam an-Nawawi, he commented upon the hadith which states:

‘Ubadah ibn al-Saamit narrated in the hadith of allegiance that: “We pledged allegiance to the Messenger of Allah to listen and obey…and that we would not fight the people of authority, unless we see clear and absolute disbelief, for which you have evidence from Allah.”

Imam an-Nawawi commented upon this by stating:

 “This means, do not attempt to fight the people of authority and do not oppose them, unless you see from them clear evil which you know of from the principles of Islam. If you see this, then forbid them from it and speak the truth wherever you may be. As for Khurooj against them and fighting them, that is haram (forbidden) by consensus of the believers, even if they are corrupt and oppressive.”

The statement of Imam an-Nawawi clearly shows that he draws a distinction between forbidding evil with your tongue and speaking for truth, versus khurooj and fighting against the rulers.

So it is then permissible for you do aid those who have opposed this (clear) oppression and have attempted to remove it.

A person may ask “How can we help them when some of them (who are protesting) are not religious?”

The principles of this religion, particularly enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, proves that we should be in the aid of anyone who works towards establishing a good or eradicating an evil, even if they are corrupt themselves. This is because we all, collectively, are included in the statement of Allah: “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” (Qur’an, 5:2)

If the people you are cooperating with are corrupt, then their corruption is upon themselves. However, should they work towards establishing good or for the removal of evil then it is imperative upon us to help them even if they are corrupt.

Imam ash-Shawkani states in “Hada’iq al-Azhar:”

“It is compulsory to help (even) a sinful person in establishment of good or the eradication of evil, or in the limiting of a greater evil. Indeed, enjoining the good and forbidding evil has been established as one the most significant Islamic principles, and of the most important religious obligations. So whoever establishes (this principle) has indeed established truth. And whoever is in need of help (in enjoining the good), then it is obligatory to help them as it would be considered aiding (one another) for truth and justice and it would be considered a form of establishing the truth and not a form of establishing the sinful person (or his sins).”

And in this respect, (we should) help establish those of lesser evil and oppression over those of greater evil and oppression, and indeed this (practice) comes underneath the category of “enjoining good and forbidding evil.”

Therefore whenever we see a person working towards establishing good or eradicating evil, then it is imperative for us to work with them due to the statement of Allah:  “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” (Qur’an, 5:2) As well as what has been established in Sahih Muslim narrated by Abu Sa’id al-Khudri that:

“Whoever from amongst you sees an evil should change it by his hand, if he is unable to do so then he should change it by his tongue (by speaking against it), and if he is unable to do so then he should reject it in his heart – and this is the weakest of Iman.”

And I ask a question: Everyone who lived through the reign of (Anwar) Sadat and who has lived through this reign (i.e. that of Mubarak) – who would choose to live under the rule of Mubarak instead of Sadat? Without a doubt, everyone would choose the rule of Sadat.

In this time and reign (of Mubarak), not a single one of us has been ensured of our safety.

Question:

If we can’t be with them, in this situation, what should we demand?

Answer:

I advise you to demand what they are asking for. Demand what they are demanding.

A fiqh principle: harm increases. If it is not possible to completely eradicate it, then it is an obligation to lessen the harm, or oppression, as much as it can be suppressed. This is an obligation.

So demand what they are demanding, since the protesters are of different groups and the situation requires that all the people are united on a collective (or agreeable) call and demand.

Question:

If what the protesters are calling for is Islamically-legislated such as the end to brutality or (access to) food, but are not calling for the establishment of Islamic law, would it still be permissible to participate?

Answer:

Are these things they are demanding for from al-Ma’roof (the clearly good) or not? As long as it is for what is good, then help them with it, as we explained through the writings of Imam al-Shawkaani (rahimahullah).

Question:

What do you think of these events and what do you think of the future of Egypt?

Answer:

The future is in the knowledge of Allah (swt). However, it is important that we benefit from these events. And it’s important to remember the statement of the Prophet ﷺ as is recorded in Saheeh al-Bukhari:

“Allah gives respite to the oppressor, but when He takes him over, he never releases him.”

Indeed our existence on this earth is only for the sake of the establishment of the worship of Allah…so it is important to remember this goal of our existence, if you believe in Allah and in the Quran:

51:56

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an, 51:56)

So it is important for us to protect the Islamic principles and beliefs…and in this current time every aspect of our religion has been attacked.

There is also another point. Allah says:

13:11

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Qur’an, 13:11).

The people were struck by cowardice. They were overpowered by False Gods (Taghut) and their soldiers and they governed every aspect of their life. Imagine that if a person wanted to be promoted in their job, they needed to ask National Security (Amn al-Dawla)! If a person wanted to be a professor, research, travel or even swim – they had to ask National Security or the Police first. Everything was put in the hands of security forces; extreme oppression befell people. And yet the people were quiet.

So when people became concerned with change, after 30 years they brought down oppression in 7 days. Just 7 days! And they did nothing but leave their homes and stand in the streets and proclaim that they were peaceful. And as for the destruction that occurred, it is well-known that it occurred primarily at the hands of Security Forces who disguised themselves as civilians in order to put the country in panic and fear and cause the demonstrators to withdraw from what they are in.

But they stood their ground, and the people collectively stood for the safety of their homes and families. They took off the clothing of cowardice and it unleashed an inner power!

3:175

“That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.” (Qur’an, 3:175).

When the person removes the clothing of cowardice and puts their trust in Allah and understands that the Heavens and the Earth is under the control of their Creator, then they unleash inner power. In just seven days, they destroyed the established oppression that had governed us for years. And we ask Allah for the truthfulness of our trust in Allah and to have good thoughts of Him.

And I am not concerned with who our leader is – I do not care about the removal of Hosni. Indeed the greatest benefit of these events is that no matter who the leader is, we will not be enslaved by the police and security forces again. The police had been terrorizing the public and putting them in a state of fear.

These are some of the thoughts I wished to share. I do not know what will happen in the future, but I hope that the youth, after standing up to oppression, will also return to Allah. And I direct this advice to myself first, and then to every Muslim.

Courtesy of http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/international/shaykh-abdul-maqsoods-ruling-on-the-events-in-egypt/

Why did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) marry many wives?

Have you ever wondered why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married many wives? Some anti-Muslim writers claim it was out of lust. In reality, he was monogamous and faithful to one women (Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her) for most of his adult life. After she passed away, he stayed single out of grief for two years. In the last eight years of his life he married several women for social and political reasons, including to cement relationships, unite tribes, and pass on the details of his personal habits. Polygamy was of course a common social practice in those days.

This video explains the marriages of the Prophet in more detail:

Suicide Bombers in Islam

“And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you. But do not transgress limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors.”

- Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah (2:190)

The dangerous escalation of violence in the world is disturbing to all people of conscience, from September 11 to the Middle East battles, and other random acts of violence perpetrated at innocent civilians.

In Islam, several things are clear:

  • Suicide is forbidden. “O ye who believe!… [do not] kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful. If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire…” (Qur’an 4:29-30).
  • The taking of life is allowed only by way of justice (i.e. the death penalty for murder), but even then, forgiveness is better. “Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause…” (17:33).
  • In pre-Islamic Arabia, retaliation and mass murder was commonplace. If someone was killed, the victim’s tribe would retaliate against the murderer’s entire tribe. This practice was directly forbidden in the Qur’an (2:178-179). Following this statement of law, the Qur’an says, “After this, whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave chastisement” (2:178). No matter what wrong we perceive as being done against us, we may not lash out against an entire population of people.
  • The Qur’an admonishes those who oppress others and transgress beyond the bounds of what is right and just. “The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrongdoing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice. For such there will be a chastisement grievous (in the Hereafter)” (42:42).
  • Harming innocent bystanders, even in times of war, was forbidden by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This includes women, children, noncombatant bystanders, and even trees and crops. Nothing is to be harmed unless the person or thing is actively engaged in an assault against Muslims.

The predominant theme in the Qur’an is forgiveness and peace. Allah (God) is Merciful and Forgiving, and seeks that in His followers. Indeed, most people who spend time on a personal level with ordinary Muslims have found them to be peaceful, honest, hard-working, civic-minded people.

In the fight against terrorism of all forms, it is important to understand who or what is our enemy. We can only fight against this horror if we understand its causes and motivations. What motivates a person to lash out in this violent, inhumane way? Researchers conclude that religion neither causes nor explains suicide terrorism. The true motivation of such attacks is something that all of us — mental health professionals, politicians, and common people — need to understand, so that we can address the issues more honestly, prevent more violence, and find ways to work towards lasting peace.

“O ye who believe! Remain steadfast for Allah, bearing witness to justice. Do not allow your hatred for others make you swerve to wrongdoing and turn you away from justice. Be just; that is closer to true piety.”

- Qur’an, Surah al-Maidah (5:8)

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By Huda, About.com guide
Reprinted from About.com

What Does Islam Say about Terrorism?

A man praying at the edge of a cliff in Makkah. Muslims are spiritual, peaceful people.

A man praying at the edge of a cliff in Makkah. Muslims are commanded to be faithful, upright, spiritual, peaceful people. Fighting is only allowed in self defense, and must obey moral codes of conduct.

Islam, a religion of mercy, does not permit terrorism. In the Quran, God has said:

“God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers.” (Quran 60:8)

The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, used to prohibit soldiers from killing women and children,[1] and he would advise them: “…Do not betray, do not be excessive, do not kill a newborn child.”[2] And he also said: “Whoever has killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found for a span of forty years.”[3]

Also, the Prophet Muhammad has forbidden punishment with fire.[4]

He once listed murder as the second of the major sins,[5] and he even warned that on the Day of Judgment, “The first cases to be adjudicated between people on the Day of Judgment will be those of bloodshed.” [6][7]

Muslims are even encouraged to be kind to animals and are forbidden to hurt them. Once the Prophet Muhammad said: “A woman was punished because she imprisoned a cat until it died. On account of this, she was doomed to Hell. While she imprisoned it, she did not give the cat food or drink, nor did she free it to eat the insects of the earth.”[8]

He also said that a man gave a very thirsty dog a drink, so God forgave his sins for this action. The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was asked, “Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?” He said: “There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.”[9]

Additionally, while taking the life of an animal for food, Muslims are commanded to do so in a manner that causes the least amount of fright and suffering possible. The Prophet Muhammad said: “When you slaughter an animal, do so in the best way. One should sharpen his knife to reduce the suffering of the animal.”[10]

In light of these and other Islamic texts, the act of inciting terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of buildings and properties, the bombing and maiming of innocent men, women, and children are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam and the Muslims. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the vast majority have nothing to do with the violent events some have associated with Muslims. If an individual Muslim were to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty of violating the laws of Islam.


Footnotes:

[1] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #1744, and Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #3015.
[2] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #1731, and Al-Tirmizi, #1408.
[3] Narrated in Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #3166, and Ibn Majah, #2686.
[4] Narrated in Abu-Dawood, #2675.
[5] Narrated in Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #6871, and Saheeh Muslim, #88.
[6] This means killing and injuring.
[7] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #1678, and Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #6533.
[8] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #2422, and Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #2365.
[9] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #2244, and Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #2466.
[10] Narrated in Saheeh Muslim, #1955, and Al-Tirmizi, #1409.