Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Quran, a guidance and a mercy.


The Quran, in chapter 10 verses 57, 58 reads:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ


قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَ‌ٰلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ

"O humankind! there hath come to you a direction,admonition, exhortation  from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts,- and for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy.

"Say: "In the bounty of Allah. And in His Mercy,- in that let them rejoice": that is better than the (wealth) they hoard."

-------------------

God, via the Quran, has sent direction, admonition and exhortation to humanity because they are in need it. If humanity was going in the right direction then God would have no need to give this direction,admonition and exhortation. But left to their own devices, humans will go down a wrong path which takes them far from God and ultimate destruction. The Quran was sent to offer humanity a path to follow. Sadly, most have rejected it while others, claiming to accept its message, have distorted its pure and noble teachings and have instead interpreted it in a way that is far removed from its original purpose. The Quran is meant to be guidance. It is a mercy from God. It is meant to offer light to those who sit in darkness. It offers healing for the many diseases that afflict the hearts of those who have embraced an erroneous belief about God and His creation. Those who use the Quran to justify murder, oppression and denying people their human rights have not properly understood its teachings and, as a result, have led many people to believe that the Quran supports such things. Through their actions they are doing the Quran a disservice even when they think they are defending the Islamic faith. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Etiquette of Supplication (Dua)

By S.N. Smith

Today at Friday prayer the Imam talked about the etiquette of making supplication (dua) to God. He was not able to finish his entire speech, but here is the bare bones of what he said:

He briefly mentioned that a lot of people within our society suffer from depression and anxiety and are at their wits end regarding what to do and thus become filled with despair. He also mentioned that people tend to rely on other people for help and forget about asking help from Allah. He then mentioned the following points regarding the etiquette of supplication:

1) Begin all supplication with praising God. One can begin with reciting the first chapter of the Quran, suratal fatiha. *

2) Send salawat (peace greetings) on the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon hum).

3) Then ask for what you will and be as specific as possible regarding what you want. Follow the example of Prophet Zacariah who was worried that he would not have an heir and:

“Saying: My Lord! Lo! the bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor Who shall inherit of me and inherit (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee).” (Surah Maryam, 4-6)

4) Have complete Yakeen. In other words, be certain that God will answer, and force your heart to be present while you make your supplication. Be mindful of what you are asking for and who you are asking it of.

In closing, the Imam also recommended that one should dedicate at least half an hour per day to supplication and that most people fail to take any significant time out of their daily schedule for this.

________

See also: Best Times to make Dua (Supplication)

*[Note: The Imam did not mention it in his speech, but Imam Muslim recorded in his collection of Hadeeth that Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (blessing and peace upon him) said “Allah, the Exalted, said,`I have divided the prayer into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My Servant shall have what he asks for.’ If he says, `Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds’ Allah says, `My servant has praised Me.’ When the servant says, `Most Gracious, Most Merciful’. Allah says, `My servant has glorified Me.’ When he says, `Master of the Day of Judgment.’ Allah says, `My servant has related all matters to Me.’ When he says, `Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek.’ Allah says, `This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought.’ When he says, `Show us the straight way. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.’ Allah says, `This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.’” (Muslim 1:296, and An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5:11, 12).]

Questions, questions, questions

Chapter 10 verses 31-36 of the Quran reads: 



قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۚ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُ ۚ فَقُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ



فَذَ‌ٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمُ الْحَقُّ ۖ فَمَاذَا بَعْدَ الْحَقِّ إِلَّا الضَّلَالُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُصْرَفُونَ

كَذَ‌ٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَائِكُم مَّن يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ ۚ قُلِ اللَّهُ يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ

قُلْ هَلْ مِن شُرَكَائِكُم مَّن يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ ۚ قُلِ اللَّهُ يَهْدِي لِلْحَقِّ ۗ أَفَمَن يَهْدِي إِلَى الْحَقِّ أَحَقُّ أَن يُتَّبَعَ أَمَّن لَّا يَهِدِّي إِلَّا أَن يُهْدَىٰ ۖ فَمَا لَكُمْ كَيْفَ تَحْكُمُونَ

وَمَا يَتَّبِعُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ إِلَّا ظَنًّا ۚ إِنَّ الظَّنَّ لَا يُغْنِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ

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 ye not then show piety (to Him)?"

Such is Allah, your real Cherisher and Sustainer: apart from truth, what (remains) but error? How then are ye turned away?

Thus is the word of thy Lord proved true against those who rebel: Verily they will not believe.

Say: "Of your 'partners', can any originate creation and repeat it?" Say: "It is Allah Who originates creation and repeats it: then how are ye deluded away (from the truth)?"

Say, ‘Do any of these partners guide you to the Truth?’
Say, ‘God alone guides you to the Truth.’
Thus, who should one follow?
The One God who guides us all to the Truth
or another who cannot lead
unless he himself is guided?
How is it that you cannot comprehend this?

But most of them follow nothing but fancy: truly fancy can be of no avail against truth. Verily Allah is well aware of all that they do.


*******************

In several places in the Quran a series of questions are asked and, if you notice carefully, the answer is always obvious. These questions are intended to remind listeners of the reality of things as well as silence any objections they may have. In the above passage, there are several questions be asked. God does not ask questions because He does not know the answer to those questions for the Quran says: إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَخْفَىٰ عَلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ --- "Lo! nothing in the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Allah." Rather, the questions are asked in order to instruct and remind those being asked. What these particular questions are meant to achieve is to remind people of the reality of tawheed -- the absolute oneness of God -- and the folly of believing otherwise. At the end of verse 35 God asks, " How is it that you cannot comprehend this?" It is not as if God does not know the answer to this question. Rather, He wants to lift the scales from people's eyes so that they will see the error of their thinking. God knows exactly why people fail to see this reality. The answer to God's questions in the Quran, as I stated above, are always obvious, when properly pondered upon. 

Allow me to offer an analogy by way of illustration. Suppose I asked the following set of questions to someone who smokes: Does smoking make you feel better in the long run? Does smoking contribute to your overall good health? Does smoking bring about a resolution to your problems? Is smoking a wise utilization of your financial resources? Can you be certain that smoking will not eventually cause you harm? 

See the point I am trying to make? These questions are not asked in a way that I don't know the answer in advance. The questions are asked so as to jolt the person into an awareness of the folly of their ways so that they in turn will make changes in their behavior and thinking. This is the same method the Quran uses also when a series of questions are asked. Those being questioned already know the answer  to these questions and they are called upon to admit that they do. 

I close with these following verses from chapter 23 verses 86-90:

قُلْ مَن رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ السَّبْعِ وَرَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ ۚ قُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ
قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ ۚ قُلْ فَأَنَّىٰ تُسْحَرُونَ
بَلْ أَتَيْنَاهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ

[O Muhammad]
If you ask the doubters,
‘who is Lord of the seven heavens
and of the Great Throne?’
They will answer again, ‘God.’
Then say, ‘Would you not want to be
among the God-fearing?’
Then ask, ‘In whose hands
is the sovereignty of everything,
the Protector, who does not need protection?
Answer, if you really know.’
They will answer, again, ‘God.’
Then say, ‘How can you turn away from [the Truth]?’
Yet when We bring them the Truth,

the nonbelievers are but liars.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dan Ariely: The truth about dishonesty



Dan Ariely, bestselling author and professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University visits the RSA to examine the mechanisms at work behind dishonest behaviour, and the implications this has for all aspects of our social and political lives.

Mishary Rashid Alafasy Reciting Surah Mulk (The Dominion)




In The Name of Allah The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful...

1. Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things.

2. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;

3. Who has created the seven heavens one above another, you can see no fault in the creations of the Most Beneficent. Then look again: "Can you see any rifts?"

4. Then look again and yet again, your sight will return to you in a state of humiliation and worn out.

5. And indeed We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps, and We have made such lamps (as) missiles to drive away the Shayatin (devils), and have prepared for them the torment of the blazing Fire.

6. And for those who disbelieve in their Lord (Allah) is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination.

7. When they are cast therein, they will hear the (terrible) drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth.

8. It almost bursts up with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: "Did no warner come to you?"

9. They will say: "Yes indeed; a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: 'Allah never sent down anything (of revelation), you are only in great error.'"

10. And they will say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!"

11. Then they will confess their sin. So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire.

12. Verily! Those who fear their Lord unseen (i.e. they do not see Him, nor His Punishment in the Hereafter, etc.), theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).

13. And whether you keep your talk secret or disclose it, verily, He is the All-Knower of what is in the breasts (of men).

14. Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).

15. He it is, Who has made the earth subservient to you (i.e. easy for you to walk, to live and to do agriculture on it, etc.), so walk in the path thereof and eat of His provision, and to Him will be the Resurrection.

16. Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)?

17. Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My Warning?

18. And indeed those before them belied (the Messengers of Allah), then how terrible was My denial (punishment)?

19. Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them except the Most Beneficent (Allah). Verily, He is the All-Seer of everything.

20. Who is he besides the Most Beneficent that can be an army to you to help you? The disbelievers are in nothing but delusion.

21. Who is he that can provide for you if He should withhold His provision? Nay, but they continue to be in pride, and (they) flee (from the truth).

22. Is he who walks without seeing on his face, more rightly guided, or he who (sees and) walks on a Straight Way (i.e. Islamic Monotheism).

23. Say it is He Who has created you, and endowed you with hearing (ears), seeing (eyes), and hearts. Little thanks you give.

24. Say: "It is He Who has created you from the earth, and to Him shall you be gathered (in the Hereafter)."

25. They say: "When will this promise (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) come to pass? if you are telling the truth."

26. Say (O Muhammad ): "The knowledge (of its exact time) is with Allah only, and I am only a plain warner."

27. But when they will see it (the torment on the Day of Resurrection) approaching, the faces of those who disbelieve will be different (black, sad, and in grieve), and it will be said (to them): "This is (the promise) which you were calling for!"

28. Say (O Muhammad ): "Tell me! If Allah destroys me, and those with me, or He bestows His Mercy on us, - who can save the disbelievers from a painful torment?"

29. Say: "He is the Most Beneficent (Allah), in Him we believe, and in Him we put our trust. So you will come to know who is it that is in manifest error."

30. Say (O Muhammad ): "Tell me! If (all) your water were to be sunk away, who then can supply you with flowing (spring) water?"

A brief enjoyment of this worldly life

The Quran, chapter 10 verses 22-24 reads:

هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا كُنتُمْ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَجَرَيْنَ بِهِم بِرِيحٍ طَيِّبَةٍ وَفَرِحُوا بِهَا جَاءَتْهَا رِيحٌ عَاصِفٌ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْمَوْجُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ أُحِيطَ بِهِمْ ۙ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ لَئِنْ أَنجَيْتَنَا مِنْ هَـٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ

فَلَمَّا أَنجَاهُمْ إِذَا هُمْ يَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۗ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّمَا بَغْيُكُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُم ۖ مَّتَاعَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَنُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

إِنَّمَا مَثَلُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْضِ مِمَّا يَأْكُلُ النَّاسُ وَالْأَنْعَامُ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَخَذَتِ الْأَرْضُ زُخْرُفَهَا وَازَّيَّنَتْ وَظَنَّ أَهْلُهَا أَنَّهُمْ قَادِرُونَ عَلَيْهَا أَتَاهَا أَمْرُنَا لَيْلًا أَوْ نَهَارًا فَجَعَلْنَاهَا حَصِيدًا كَأَن لَّمْ تَغْنَ بِالْأَمْسِ ۚ كَذَ‌ٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

He it is Who enables you to travel through land and sea, till when you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favourable wind, and they are glad therein, then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled therein. Then they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him Alone, (saying): "If You (Allah) deliver us from this, we shall truly be of the grateful."

But when He delivers them, behold! they rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against your ownselves, - a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you of that which you used to do.

Verily, the likeness of (this) worldly life is as the water (rain) which We send down from the sky; so by it arises the intermingled produce of the earth of which men and cattle eat: until when the earth is clad in its adornments and is beautified, and its people think that they have all the powers of disposal over it, Our Command reaches it by night or by day and We make it like a clean-mown harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday! Thus do We explain the Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, laws, etc.) in detail for the people who reflect.

Prophets

In the Quran chapter 7 verse 158 it reads:


قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ



Say, [O Muhammad,] ‘O people!
I am God’s Messenger, sent to you all
from the One who has dominion
over the heavens and the earth.
There is no god but One,
who gives life and causes death.
Then believe in God and His Messenger,
the Prophet who cannot read nor write,
who believes in the words of God.
And follow him, so you too would be guided.’


This verse, as you notice from its opening, is not addressed to believers, but is addressed to humanity as a whole. This is so because, unlike previous prophets, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to all of humanity. Although all of the prophets conveyed the same essential message of tawheed -- the absolute oneness of God -- yet they were only sent to their own respective people to which they belonged. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not bring a new message that was different from previous prophets and the believers are reminded not to make any distinction between these prophets for there is no justification in doing so. (See Quran 2:136 and 3:81) The Quran clearly makes this point when it says in chapter 2 verse 285:

آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۚ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ ۚ وَقَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

The Messenger believes in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys." 

And in chapter 3 verse 84 the Quran says:

قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

 Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)." 

And in chapter 4 verse 152 the Quran says:  

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَلَمْ يُفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ أُولَـٰئِكَ سَوْفَ يُؤْتِيهِمْ أُجُورَهُمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

To those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of the messengers, we shall soon give their (due) rewards: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. 

I write these words because there are those who seek to defame Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with derogatory statements, but such people must realize that when they do so they are defaming every single prophet who came before him because all of these prophets came from God and, as I stated earlier, they all taught  the same message. In brief, when you insult one of God's prophets, you insult everyone of them. 

The Pharmaceutical Company Bayer Coined the Name “Heroin” and Marketed the Drug as a Non-Addictive Cough Medicine


The pharmaceutical company Bayer coined the name “Heroin” and marketed the drug as a non-addictive cough medicine, among other uses.

While opium itself has been commonly used since at least 3400 BC, heroin is a relatively new invention, derived from opium.  Heroin, more technically known as diacetylmorphine, was first synthesized in 1874 by chemist Charles Romley Alder Wright, working at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, England.  He discovered the drug after playing around with mixing morphine with various acids.  

Specifically, he created it after boiling acetic anhydride with anhydrous morphine alkaloid for a few hours, which resulted in what we now commonly call heroin.  After running a few experiments with it on animals, though, he abandoned his work on the drug.

Read more at here

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain


As I look out my window today I see it is raining. Rain is mentioned many times in the Quran with a view to highlighting spiritual lessons. Here is one verse, found in chapter 6 verse 99, worth reflecting on. What do you suppose we are to learn from this verse? In other words, what is the central lesson or significance of this verse?

وَهُوَ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهُ خَضِرًا نُّخْرِجُ مِنْهُ حَبًّا مُّتَرَاكِبًا وَمِنَ النَّخْلِ مِن طَلْعِهَا قِنْوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌ وَجَنَّاتٍ مِّنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ انظُرُواْ إِلِى ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَيَنْعِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكُمْ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
"God sends down water from the sky
and brings forth all types of plants.
Some of them are green,
and from them come heads of grain.
He causes clusters of dates to hang low
and near on the palm trees.
And He also creates gardens of grapes, of olives,
and of pomegranates, fruits both similar and varied.
Observe and reflect as you see these trees bear fruit
and as you witness how it ripens.
These are sure signs for all who believe."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

James Baldwin: the Price of the Ticket (A Must Watch)





Film biography of the life of James Baldwin includes excerpts from his work . Writers Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed and William Styron discuss Baldwin's influence.

A Reminder

The Quran says in chapter 6 verse 98: وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ فَمُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمُسْتَوْدَعٌ ۗ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَفْقَهُونَ 

"It is God that created you 
from a single soul, 
and causes you to be on this earth 
for a given time as living beings, 
then stores you in the earth 
as dead bodies. 
We have clearly explained these signs 
of Our creation 
for those able to understand them deeply."

The above verse is a reminder of our common origins and that temporariness of our earthly existence. We are further reminded that God created us from a single soul, which means that we humans, as a species, are related to one another and thus have no reason to be boastful or proud towards other humans because, in fact, we are all one. The verse further reminds us that our time on this earth is limited and, as a result, nothing in this life lasts forever. It was from the earth from which we came and it is to the earth that we will return. 

God wants us to understand this fact, and it is for this reason He has explained this to us so that we don't forget. And sometimes we do indeed forget. We live our lives as if we will live forever. We discriminate against one another as if we were more important or more special than everyone else. We deny that God even exists at all and that He created us, as if we came into existence by some random chance. And we look on the earth as something to exploit instead of seeing it as our eventual place of burial. We forget all of these things because we are either too busy or too arrogant to take heed. Even those who are elderly or very ill many times hold on to the belief that they have a lot more time despite the fact that their bodies are telling them otherwise. But we should be mindful of the above verses as well as Chapter 6 verse 60-62 of the Quran which says: 

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَتَوَفَّاكُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا جَرَحْتُم بِالنَّهَارِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُكُمْ فِيهِ لِيُقْضَىٰ أَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ 
وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَيُرْسِلُ عَلَيْكُمْ حَفَظَةً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ تَوَفَّتْهُ رُسُلُنَا وَهُمْ لَا يُفَرِّطُونَ 
ثُمَّ رُدُّوا إِلَى اللَّهِ مَوْلَاهُمُ الْحَقِّ ۚ أَلَا لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَهُوَ أَسْرَعُ الْحَاسِبِينَ 

"It is He who doth take your souls by night, and hath knowledge of all that ye have done by day: by day doth He raise you up again; that a term appointed be fulfilled; In the end unto Him will be your return; then will He show you the truth of all that ye did. He is the irresistible, (watching) from above over His worshippers, and He sets guardians over you. At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty. Then are men returned unto Allah, their protector, the (only) reality: Is not His the command? and He is the swiftest in taking account."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Come closer


The Quran states in chapter 5 verse 35:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَابْتَغُوا إِلَيْهِ الْوَسِيلَةَ وَجَاهِدُوا فِي سَبِيلِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

O all you who believe!
Revere God,
seek the means to come closer to Him,
and strive for His sake,
so that you may be successful.

This verse is directed to the believers and is informing them how they can become successful. Being successful here does not mean in a worldly sense in which one attains great wealth, health and status, but in the ultimate sense in which God's favor is achieved. In this verse this second meaning of success is achieved by doing three things: 

1) The believer is admonished to revere God. The Arabic word here is "itaqoo" which means to be conscious of God as well as to guard oneself. The word "faittaqoo," from which "itaqoo" is derived, is mentioned many times in the Quran and means "to fear or be mindful of."

2)  The second thing the believer must do in order to become ultimately successful is to "seek the means to come closer to Him [God]."  To clarify the meaning of this statement I refer to a hadeeth in Sahih Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Huraira, a well known companion of The Prophet (peace be upon him),  in which The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah the Almighty has said: “I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a wali (pious worshipper/devoted servant who is beloved to Allah) of mine And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My worshipper keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is (obligatory) till I love him, then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hands with which he grips, and his legs with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Protection (Refuge), I will Protect him, I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.”  Here the words of The Prophet (peace be upon him) are clear regarding how to become closer to God and I will not comment on them further due to their clarity. 

But I will make mention here of one other well known and clear Hadeeth in Sahih Muslim which reads: "Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: 'The first of people to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who died a martyr. He will be brought forward and Allah will make him recount his blessings and he will do so. Then Allah will ask: 'What did you do for these blessings?' He will say: 'I fought on your behalf until I was martyred.' Allah will say: 'You are lying. You fought so that the people would call you brave, and indeed they called you that.' Then he will be summoned and dragged on his face until he is cast into Hell. Another will be a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it and recited the Qur'ân. He will be brought forward and Allah will make him recount his blessings and he will do so. Then Allah will ask: 'What did you do for these blessings?' He will say: 'I acquired knowledge and imparted it and I recited the Qur'ân for your sake.' Allah will say: 'You are lying. You acquired knowledge so people would call you a learned man and you recited the Qur'ân so that people would call you a good reciter. Indeed they called you these things.' Then he will be summoned and dragged on his face until he is cast into Hell. Another will be a man who Allah had enriched with all manner of wealth. He will be brought forward and Allah will make him recount his blessings and he will do so. Then Allah will ask: 'What did you do for these blessings?' He will say: 'I spent money for your sake on every cause in which You wish money to be spent.' Allah will say: 'You are lying. You did this so that people would call you generous, and indeed they called you that.' Then he will be summoned and dragged on his face until he is cast into Hell." 

3) The third thing the believer is called upon to do is "strive for His sake" (Wa Jāhidū Fī Sabīlihi). In other words, all  efforts should be for the sake of Allah and for no other worldly reason, otherwise one's worship becomes tainted. The Quran says in 18:110:  

قُلۡ إِنَّمَآ أَنَا۟ بَشَرٌ۬ مِّثۡلُكُمۡ يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَىَّ أَنَّمَآ إِلَـٰهُكُمۡ إِلَـٰهٌ۬ وَٲحِدٌ۬‌ۖ فَمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ لِقَآءَ رَبِّهِۦ فَلۡيَعۡمَلۡ عَمَلاً۬ صَـٰلِحً۬ا وَلَا يُشۡرِكۡ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِۦۤ أَحَدَۢا 

"Say (O Muhammad SAW): "I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God i.e. Allah). So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord."  

What does it mean to "associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord?" It means the believers should worship God sincerely and for no other worldly consideration so that their worship is pure and for God alone and for none other. 

So, as per the Quran 5:35, the true success is being mindful of God, doing what God asks us to do --- via the admonitions in the Quran and the example of The Prophet (peace be upon him) ---  and strive for God's sake and for no other worldly consideration. The path the believer is called upon to travel is not always easy, as many verses in the Quran indicate, as does the reality of everyday living, but believers have been shown the means of how to come closer to God and in doing so attain the ultimate success. 

The irony of Muslim terrorism

Interesting post by Mohamed Ghilan who correctly writes that, "the truth of the matter is most of the public are not swayed by rational arguments." He further writes, "As for the foremost authority in Islam, the Quran, it is continually quoted out of context to serve the purposes of those who wish to achieve some end in mind."

By the way, the Quran strongly opposes terrorism and oppression regardless of attempts by some Muslims to justify it. (4:75, 22:39-40, 9:13-14, 42:39-43, 38:28, 2:190-193). In addition, the Quran strongly condemns unjust killing and suicide (5:32, 2:195, 4:29-30, 4:92-93, 17:31, 17:33, 6:151, 25:68, 3:21).  It also teaches love, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness towards others. (1:1-2, 85:14, 21:107, 60:7, 4:17, 7:199, 39:53, 16:119, 3:159, 15:85, 16:119, 19:96, 2:160, 2:163, 4:27-28). 


The standard of what Islam teaches is what the Quran says and not what some Muslims do. 

Observations on "truth seekers"

I find it amusing to read some of the comments of those who are critical of the Quran and their insistence that they are only interested in finding and propagating "the truth." In their quest for this "truth" they find all kinds of "inconsistencies" in the Quran and refer to these as "proof" that the Quran must be false, for God could not  possibly be the author of something which is full of inconsistencies. But if you read many of these postings carefully they generally demonstrate a lack of any understanding of how to read the Quran, purposeful taking verses out of context and an unwillingness to admit that their interpretations would not even meet a minimal standard of scholarship. Sadly, there are many people who read this material and become "convinced" that the Quran is indeed false. But, even before reading this material,  they were already "convinced" that the Quran and Islam is false and were merely looking for material to support their claims. This is not an honest quest to know the truth, but merely looking for "evidence" to support one's already existing beliefs.  It should also be noted that most of the arguments being put forth are rehashed from arguments which have been there from the early days of Islam and are not really new. Most, if not all, have been answered by credible scholars, but these generally either go unacknowledged or, as is often the case, new objections to these explanations are then introduced. When one is looking to "disprove"  something they will always be successful for they will only refer to the evidence which supports their already existing claims and conveniently disregard the rest.

Justice in Quran



Chapter 4 verse 135 of the Quran reads,  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّـهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّـهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا ۚ وَإِن تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا


"O all you who believe!  Stand up for justice as impartial witnesses for God’s sake, even though it may be against yourselves, your own parents or your near relatives Whether those affected are rich or poor, God is their Caretaker. And do not allow self interest to blind you, giving false witness or refusing to give witness at all. Remember that God knows all that you do."


Here, the verse is calling on the believers to take a certain course of action. It appears, when one reads this verse, that there is a real fear in the hearts of many people that if they stand up for justice and become an impartial witness to the truth -- at least as much is humanly possible -- that somehow taking such a position will result in personal harm. Thus, with this fear in mind, a person may be tempted to swerve from justice with a view to protecting their own skin or the skins of those whom they love and cherish, such as parents and near relatives. But in this verse, the believers are admonished to stand up for justice regardless of the potential for personal harm or loss, or if the perpetrator of the injustice is rich or poor, because justice takes precedence over personal self-interest or the socio-economic standing of any individual. 

The verse clearly admonishes the believer to "not allow self interest to blind you, giving false witness or refusing to give witness at all." Here a person may be tempted to either outright lie, which is often the case in many disputes, or just remain totally silent  and thus exonerate himself from any responsibility. The person may think by doing or saying nothing at all that they are not getting involved and are thus in no way responsible for any outcomes. But if a person's silence leads to an injustice being heaped upon another person's head that person is indeed guilty, for his inaction has caused harm to an innocent party. Silence, in other words, can in itself be a grave sin. The person is thus obligated to speak up and failure to do so may lead him into unbelief even though he may still claim to be a believer, for the verse clearly states,  "O all you who believe! Stand up for justice as impartial witnesses for God’s sake..." So what happens, given the wording of this verse, when the one claiming to be a believer refuses to correct a wrong when they are in the power to do so? Can that person rightly claim to be a true believer? Allah knows best, but they will be held accountable for their inaction regarding the harm they could have potentially prevented. 


This verse pulls at the heart strings and prick one's conscience, for there is no room for ambiguity regarding what is required. Even if we fool ourselves into thinking we are acting justly, which many times people who claim to be acting justly do, we are reminded that, "God knows all that you do." In other words, you may seek to cover up the truth of your actions or your inward intentions behind them from others, but it will ultimately be to your own harm. Ironically, in an effort to protect oneself from harm, the failure to stand up for justice leads to a greater personal harm in the long run.

Suffice it to say that one does not need an advanced education to understand the implications of this important Quranic verse.