Monday, December 8, 2008

Subvertion of Society

The Queen's Statement

In Surah Naml, Allah(SWT) mentions the story of Sulayman(A) and the Queen of the kingdom of Saba (Sheba) . Sulayman(A) upon hearing the of the kingdom of Saba decides to send her a letter, inviting her to Islam,
أَلَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَيَّ وَأْتُونِي مُسْلِمِينَ
"Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission)"-Surah Naml(27)-31
The Queen first asks her advisers as to what to do, then decides to negotiate a peace treaty. Allah(SWT) explains her reasoning in the Quran,

قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ27:34
She said: "Verily, kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest." And thus they do.
What is interesting about this statement is not that Allah(SWT) mentioned her words in the Quran for Fir'awn's infamous saying, "I am your Lord, the Most High" is also mentioned in the Quran but that Allah(SWT) affirmed what she said.
And thus they do. وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ
Subversion of Society

The Queen of Saba states in the above ayah that the most respected individuals of a society become the most downtrodden when a country is invaded . The upper classes become the lower classes while the lower classes become elevated in their ranks.

One needs to cast only a cursory glance at society to see the truth in her words. Members of the royal family were literally beheaded after the French Revolution. This would have been the same fate of last Shah of Iran if it were not for American intervention after the Iranian Revolution. And who benefited most from this change of government? Ayatollah Khomeini, who was once banished from the country. The same fate occurred in Pakistan to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when Gen Zia-ul-Haq took power. And it happened to Muslim Spain when the Christians took power. The Muslim rulers used to live in luxurious palaces but when the Christians came, they became so poor that they had to beg others for money.

The Indian Subcontinent

The British first arrived in the Subcontinent in 1612. In 1857, their process of invasion of the subcontinent was complete. From the onset of their arrival into the subcontinent, they started the process of overturning society, making the most respectable individuals, the most ignoble.

Who was this elite class before the arrival of the British? Other than the chosen nobles, they consisted of the Ulema, the scholars of Islam. During the time of the Mughals, the Ulema were highly respected by the people, served as advisers to the Mughal Emperor and were given special accommodations near the compounds of the royal family.

On the other hand, the dregs of society consisted of the drunkards, the thieves, the prostitutes and the serial-killers. These people were systematically punished, humiliated and loathed by the common people as well.

The Gradual Change

In the 21st Century though, we see a totally different picture. The elite class- the politicians, the multi-millionaires, those who control the government of Pakistan consists of those who often practice Zina, carry out mass-scale murders, and use tax money for themselves. And what about the Ulema? They have been reduced to the most disliked, disrespected, loathed, group of society.

Talking to my many relatives and others in Pakistan, I realize that the respect I would have for a scholar, a person who knows the religion of Islam, is absent from them. More so, the Ulema been the subject of jokes, criticized, bad named, thought of as frightening and more. The term "Mullah" has become a slang used to criticize someone. All this from my fellow Muslims.

On the other hand, I hear success stories after success stories of people who gained a lot of wealth, became rich and have these awesome jobs which give them a lot of cash. These 'successful' people are often either non-Muslims or people that don't even practice Islam. What is more interesting is that I hear these stories from people of all segments of society. Whether they are upper, middle or lower class, religious or nonreligious, they all tell me the stories of the 'successful'. In other words, the general public looks up to the nonreligious, non-practicing Muslims. (If you got confused in this last paragraph, read my post, What's Our Goal?- Part 1, to see where I'm headed)

Was this change sudden, abrupt? No, it took alot of time. For many centuries, the British aimed to turn this society upside down, but met strong resistance. When they finally left in 1947, they had harnessed so many 'agents' united in this struggle that the process continues until today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Food of Jannah

I'm thinking of changing my style of writing. Instead of writing long, burdensome pieces that I hardly have the time to write, I'll, insha'Allah add shorter pieces related upon some Gem that I come across.

Surah Baqarah, Ayah 25 is an ayah that I've read many times with the translation. And It often disturbed and I've thought about it for many long hours.

وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِين آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُواْ مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقاً قَالُواْ هَـذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ وَأُتُواْ بِهِ مُتَشَابِهاً وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Here's the translation:
(Note: I use Muhammad Muhsin Khan's translation, typed up but the Arabic I often copy from Islamicity)

"And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous good deeds, that for them will be Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise). Every time they will be provided with fruit therefrom, they will say: "This is what we were provided with before," and they will be given things in resemblance (i.e. in the same form but different in taste) and they shall have therein Azwajun Mutahharatun (purified mates or wives), and they will abide therein forever."

The ayah is self-explanatory but the part that disturbed me was this "Every time they will be provided with fruit therefrom, they will say: "This is what we were provided with before," and they will be given things in resemblance (i.e. in the same form but different in taste) ". I would always wonder how was it possible that practically the same thing would taste so good. And then I had an awesome experience a couple days ago which gave me some insight into what this ayah possibly meant.

My mother made me eat a Vitamin C tablet the other day. It was my first (and insha'Allah) last time. If you've ever had a Vitamin C tablet, you know that its SOUR, real SOUR. And I don't like sour things. I licked it once and put it back down, then again and again. At last I figured that this way would take me a real long time so I just chewed on it and swallowed it. The experience was AWFUL.

I immediately rushed to the kitchen, took out a glass, and drank some water from the watercooler. (A note here, I drinked boiled water because the tap water in Karachi is not too clean) The water from the watercooler ALWAYS tastes the same way. I can even tell if its been previously in a different container. But for some reason, it tasted VERY different this time. Totally sweet, like drinking a glass of Apple Juice or Rooh Afza(see here). I took another glass of water, same taste. I confirmed with my mother and sister that their was nothing wrong with the water. My sister even tasted it and said it was normal.

That got my brain thinking. How could a normal glass of water actually taste so sweet? I knew that the Vitamin C tablet had temporarily altered my taste buds. But then I thought of when our lives would be totally different, everything serene, bountiful, and simply amazing... Jannah. I recalled the above stated ayah and realized that this was a minute example of how food would taste over there. SubhanAllah....

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Story of the Two Gardens and Tests

SubhanAllah, I thought this would be a short article but it turned out very long. My final result will Insha’Allah arrive in the next week or so, so I wrote this article to serve as both a reminder to myself and to others. Even a simple thing such as a test is a huge trial from Allah(SWT). So make sure you make it an opportunity to strengthen your connection with Allah(SWT), not as a means to become arrogant and forget Allah(SWT).

Studying = Good Grades (or Marks)

Ever since preschool, every single teacher has taught me the same lesson. That is,

"If you study, you will get good grades."

Hmm. For many years, I believed this statement to be absolutely true without exception. I listened to my teachers and studied and Alhumdulilah, got good grades. I reasoned that this was the formula for success. After all, whenever I studied, I got good grades. Whenever I saw, other students who bad in their tests, I assumed it was because they didn't study. Lack of studying led to bad grades and studying led to good grades.

During my later years in middle school, I made many new friends. Alot of them got good grades. Why? Because they studied. And so they helped my theory to grow. Now, I believed that this was a principle that did not only work for me but for others as well. It was a universal principle.

Unfortunately, there was a slight problem. One of my best friends would always say the opposite. He used to say "Whenever I study, I don't do good on my tests". Whenever he said that, it was always worried me. I would have this sudden urge to yell at him and say, "No, you're lying! You're wrong!" but we were close friends and I didn't want to destroy our friendship. Why did his statement worry me so much? This principle was the basis of my hard work. I studied so that I could do good on my tests and get good grades. If for some reason, this principle didn't hold true, then all my hard work would be wasted and would be for absolutely nothing.

How could this be possible, I thought. How could it be that he studied and didn't get good grades? I told myself that his bad grades were not because he didn't study but because he didn't study the right way. And so I slightly modified my principle into:

If you study the right way, you will get good grades.

Surah Kahf-The Story of the Two Gardens.

In Surah Kahf, Allah (SWT) mentions four stories. One of these stories is the story of two men who had two beautiful gardens. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:

"And put forward to them the example of two men: unto one of them We had given two gardens of grapes, And We had surrounded both with date palms; and had put between them green crops (cultivated fields). Each of those two gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein, and We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them. And he had property (or fruit) and he said to his companion, in the course of mutual talk: "I am more than you in wealth and stronger in respect of men." And he went into his garden while in a state (of pride and disbelief), unjust to himself. He said: "I think not that this will ever perish. " " And I think not the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, (on the Day of Resurrection), I surely, shall find better than this when I return to Him." His companion said to him during the talk with him: "Do you disbelieve in Him Who created you out of dust (i.e. your father Adam), then out of Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female discharge), then fashioned you into a man? "But as for my part, (I believe) that He is Allah, my Lord, and none shall I associate as partner with my Lord. "It was better for you to say, when entered your garden: "That which Allah wills (will come to pass)! There is no power but with Allah! ' If you see me less than you in wealth, and children, "It may be that my Lord will give me something better than you garden, and will send on it Husban (torment, bolt) from the sky, then it will be a barren slippery earth. "Or the water thereof (of the gardens) becomes deep-sunken (underground) so that will never be able to seek it. " So his fruits were encircled (with ruin). And he remained clapping his hands (with sorrow) over what he had spent upon it, while it was all destroyed on its trellises, and he could only say: "Would that I had ascribed no partners to my Lord!" And he had no group of me to help him against Allah, nor could he defend (0r save) himself. There (on the Day of Resurrection), Al-Walayah (protection, power, authority and kingdom) will be for Allah (Alone), the True God. He (Allah) is the Best for reward and the Best for the final end. (La ilaha illallah - none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) (Translation of Surah Kahf, Ayah 32-44 by Muhammad Muhsin Khan)

To summarize this story, it is about two men, one whom Allah (SWT) had given two gardens. He forgot to thank Allah (SWT) and denied the Hour. His friend admonished him for his behavior and told him to remember Allah (SWT) lest some harm fall unto him. The rich man did not follow his friend's advice and Allah (SWT) destroyed his crops.”

The Effort Involved...

Many people read or listen to this story and shake their head saying, "What a fool? Didn't he realize that everything that was given to him was from Allah (SWT)?" but unfortunately fail to realize that they make the same mistake themselves often.

If a Muslim suddenly gets ten thousand dollars without much effort (In a halal way), he is very much likely to thank. "SubhanAllah, Allah is the Greatest. I didn't even make much effort and Allah (SWT) gave me so much, so easily." On the other hand, if a person works hard long hours, saves for months and then finally earns that ten thousand dollars, he is less likely to remember Allah (SWT). The person believes that it was his effort, his dedication which was the cause of him earning ten thousand dollars.

The same is true for the story of the two gardens. If you've ever had a lawn and had to work on it just to keep it in shape, you know what I'm talking about. Growing a garden is HARD work. Think about it: planting row after row of trees, watering them, watching out for pests, etc. is both time and energy consuming work. When a person works on a garden for many long years and then finally bears the fruit of his hard work, it becomes difficult to attribute all that energy and time he spent to someone else. The person believes that it was because of his dedication, his striving that he now has a beautiful and fruitful garden. And so he forgets Allah (SWT) who gave him everything in the first place. Allah (SWT) provided for him with the arms and hands he needed to pick up things, the legs which enabled him to walk around, the mind to understand the necessities of a garden, the energy to work in the garden, the time to take out from his other responsibilities and dedicate to his garden and the list goes on and on. “How many of your Lord’s favors will you deny?” Surah Rahman

Back to Tests...

The same goes for tests. People study for days, weeks, or even months and they get excellent grades. They often attribute that to their hard work. But who's responsible, them or Allah (SWT)? Only and solely Allah (SWT). The ability to study for a test, the ability to memorize things, the ability to even take the test are ALL blessings provided by Allah (SWT).

What could possibly happen if Allah (SWT) didn’t want you to do good in a test? Take the example of an SAT exam. You have two months left and you utilize it to the maximum. You study every day, take practice exams, memorize your vocabulary. The night before the exam you have a good night's sleep and wake up early eager to finally take the test you have been waiting for so long. You arrive at your exam center, start your exam and all of a sudden feel nauseous. You rush to the bathroom and throw up. There goes your SAT. All that hard work goes down the drain. What happened? Simply Kon fayakoon. Allah(SWT) said "Be and it was". Allah (SWT), the one who controls all that is in the Heavens and the Earth, simply willed that you wouldn't be able to take the test and so it was.

Studying = Good Grades?

Last year, about 8 months ago, I had an interesting experience. My bi-monthly exams were coming up and I got lazy and didn't study enough. The result, a 63%. I realized my mistake and decided that for the next bi-monthly exams, I would start studying from now, instead of the last week or so. By the will of Allah (SWT), those next two months I studied very hard. The result, a 69%. I was appalled. How could it be that I studied for a week and got a 63 and then studied for two months and got a 69? The next 5 months or so, I pondered this question.

Was it possible that my principle was wrong? Was there a problem in my method of studying? No, that couldn't be. I probably worked harder than any other student and the method was I used was reserved for only the elite. So what went wrong? Did I simply not work hard enough? No, I utilized my time to the max. Did I all of a sudden become dull? No, I knew most of the answers to the questions. I searched and searched for answers, excuses anything to explain what happened in those exams. I created many excuses like my Chemistry teacher has a grudge against me, I made small mistakes, I read the question wrong, and so on. But none of them we too explanatory onto why a got an average of 69% from six subjects. Finally, about a month ago, I realized what I had been denying all along. My principle, "If you study correctly, you will get good grades." was wrong.

My New Principle

Everything in the Universe belongs to Allah (SWT). "To him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the Earth."(Ayat-ul-Kursi) He is Rabbul Alamin, the Lord of all creation. He has command over everything and does as He wills. Everything that happens in the heavens and the Earth are all a result of his Will. No one has any of share of his command over the heavens and the Earth. We are all subjected to whatever he wills. And so the same is true for tests.

When Allah (SWT) willed that I get good grades in my tests, I did. When he didn't, I didn't do so well in my tests. If someone told me this about a couple months ago, I would shake my head and say "Yeah, you are absolutely right". But I never understand what that meant until now. SubhanAllah. No matter what you do, if Allah (SWT) wills that something does not happen it doesn't. If he does, it will. So who should you be grateful for getting a good grade? Allah (SWT) ONLY. Your effort, your work, it's all in a way useless because, if Allah (SWT) doesn't Will something, it doesn't happen, period. And so my new principle,

If Allah(SWT) wills that you do good in a test, you will. If he doesn't you won't.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How to Become a Hafiz (Part 1)

Alhumdulilah. Alhumdulilah. Alhumdulilahi Rabii Alaamin. Allah(SWT) the Lord and Creator of the Universe, the Supreme Being has willed that I become a part of his special group of servants who have memorized the entirety of his final Revelation, the Holy Quran. It took me 6 and a half years to accomplish this goal.

The Journey

6 and a half years is quite a long time to become a Hafiz. I had many ups and downs during this period and so I went through a lot of experience.
Phase 1:
Duration: 2 and a half years
Amount Memorized: 17 Juz.
Mode of Education: Fulltime at maddressah at MCMC, Darul Huda.
Phase 2:
Duration: 2 years
Amount Memorized: 1 and a half Juz.
Mode of Education: Highschool in the morning and then in the afternoon, spend some time at the maddressah.
Phase 3:
Duration: Approximately 1 and a half years
Amount Memorized: 7 Juz
Mode of Education: After this, I moved to Pakistan where I now reside. A quran teacher would come to my house and I would a recite to him. For most of this time period, I was being home-schooled so I had quite a bit of time.
Phase 4:
Duration: 7 months
Amount Memorized: None
Mode of Education: Studying for exams, then summer vacation.
Phase 5:
Duration: 2 months
Amount Memorized: 3 and a half Juz.
Mode of Education: During the first 6 weeks, I somehow(Allah knows best how) managed my overstressful school work and Hifz. The last two weeks, I took off from school.

The #1 Ingredient

What I learned from this long and eventful experience is that the #1 ingredient is not a good memory but DESIRE. If a person has the desire to become a hafiz, he can insha'Allah, no matter how old the person is, or how busy he is. Sorry, I'm wrong. You don't need just a desire to memorize the Quran. You need to have an obsession. You have to be obsessed with the fact that you want to become a Hafiz.

Everyone wants to become a Hafiz. Who doesn't? If I take a vote of 50 people around me, I'm sure all 50 people will say that they want to become Huffaz. Unfortunately, few people actually realize the dedication and effort that is required to become a Hafiz. Becoming a Hafiz, is like a litmus test. Only those who have a certain degree of dedication and determination will become Huffaz. So do you have what it takes to become a Hafiz?

My Personal Experience

Back in 6th grade, I was having problems in school because of this racist teacher. Back then, I used to live in New Brunswick. For those of you who know Central Jersey, you know that its a pretty bad neighborhood. I had already transferred from another school because of this. So my options were limited. Recently MCMC had opened a maddressah/school called Darul Huda. My parents decided that I should go there. After all, it was an Islamic school and I could become a Hafiz. Why not become a Hafiz? Alhumdulilah, I had a good memory as well. So I entered Darul Huda and started my journey to become a Hafiz.

I now realize that wasn't the right decision. A person doesn't need a good memory to become a Hafiz. He needs the determination. I didn't really have that atleast to sustain me in the long run. Going to Hifz school and becoming a Hafiz was just another alternative for me, one that was better than all the others. This almost halfhearted desire helped me for a couple months but then I got bored. Instead of picking up speed I started slowing down. My parents noticed this and so they decided that if I don't want to become a Hafiz, why should they force me? And so I was transferred to a secular high school.

Phase 5 lasted for only two months but during this short period I was equipped with the #1 ingredient, Desire. Now, this is where Muhammad Alshareef comes in. A week before school started, I promised my dad I would finish in Ramadan. How? I didn't know. I had Written in Stone laying around untouched and so I decided I would listen to that. About two weeks after I made my promise, Allah (SWT) willed that I listen to that CD. It changed me from inside out. I decided that I HAVE to finish the Quran in Ramadan. Forget school, grades, everything, just worry about the Quran. Nothing else. If I don't finish the Quran this Ramadan, then never, I will never finish it. Yes, I was crazy, I knew I was. But I also knew that if I didn't make myself obsessed, then I couldn't finish memorizing the Quran.

Bad memory?

No problem. You can still become a Hafiz. My teacher, Qari Rafaqat used to say that he had such horrible memory that he used to memorize half an ayah every day. But slowly, he progressed to doing quarter juz every day. THAT'S ONE JUZ IN FOUR DAYS.

Did you know that I used to be one of the best students in my maddressah? The first 5 months I memorized 5 juz(that's outstanding for a beginner). I even have a certificate to prove it. Though I started late, I soon surpassed most of the other students. Alhumdulilah, Allah(SWT) gave me excellent memory but that didn't help me become a Hafiz. I soon lost determination and so I fell behind.

I've heard a story of this guy in his 40's who became a Hafiz. He was equipped with the desire so he did it.

Correct Intention: Parents AND Kids

The correct intention is extremely important. Not only will you not get rewarded if you don't have the right intention but becoming a Hafiz will be harder for you. So let me ask you, What is the Correct Intention? The correct intention SHOULD and SHOULD ONLY be to attain the pleasure and blessing of Allah(SWT). You see, being a Hafiz is a very special thing; the way I look at is that it's the membership into a special group of servants of Allah(SWT). To join that group, that in it of itself is a huge blessing.

Many people, both parents and kids get this goal confused. Parents sometimes make their kids go to Hifz school so that they can show off to others that my kid is a Hafiz. Other times it's just another alternative. If the child has trouble at school, they will send the kid to a Hifz school since it has an Islamic atmosphere. But most importantly parents fail to realize that the kid needs to have the right intention.

This is where it gets tough. When I first started memorizing the Quran, Alhumdulilah I did have the correct intention, i.e. to please Allah(SWT). But later on, my intention changed. It became a mixture of pleasing my parents and pleasing my teacher. During my later years, I thought of memorizing the Quran as something I had to just get over with.

After listening to Muhammad AlShareef's CD, my intention totally changed. Memorizing the Quran became easy and I realized that I was also being rewarded for my struggle.

So, before you send your kids to Hifz school or embark on the journey yourself, make sure you and your child both have the right intention.

I want to become a Hafiz, what should I do?

My personal advice is that before you actually start anything equip yourself with the desire. Search online, ask Huffaz(practicing ones, ones who have taqwa), ask scholars what are the benefits to become a Hafiz. Personally, I wouldn't recommend Written in Stone by Muhammad Alshareef at this stage. He himself says in the CD that this khutbah is for those who have already taken the first steps to memorizing the Quran.

Here are a couple resources which will help you to build up your desire:
Upcoming Parts, Insha'Allah
  • Fajr: The best time
  • Kill the Sins
  • The Two Modes of Memorization
  • and more, insha'Allah...
I ask Allah (SWT) to forgive me if I said anything wrong or offended anyone and that goes for my future parts as well. I am in no way trying to boost my image or make a show of myself just trying to impart something of the wisdom I finally gained after so long. Ya Allah (SWT) please forgive me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Imam Siraj Wahaj

Click here to read about the Imam Siraj Wahaj controversy from MuslimMatters

Imam Siraj Wahaj... Ya Allah, please protect him from smears and attempts to disgrace him because only you are the one who controls a person's Izza(respect).

One of the earliest lectures I ever remember attending was one in a park in New Brunswick, NJ. It was a small park with about 20 people present in the audience. Nevertheless that didn't deter the Imam. Imam Siraaj was speaking about how many times the word Qul(Say) has been mentioned in the Quran. After a couple minutes or so, he asked a question. Which word is mentioned most in the Quran? I immediately raised my hand. My mother kept bugging me to tell me the answer. But no, why should I listen to her, when I already knew the answer. Imam Siraj Wahaj picked me. Qul, I answered. "Sorry, wrong but good listening" laughed Imam Siraj Wahaj. (The correct answer was Allah by the way) That was 2nd or 3rd grade.

After that incident, I only distinctly remember listening to him in conferences and fundraisers. Nevertheless, he always had a great positive effect on my life. I remember my childhood Sahabah hero was AbdurRahman bin Awf. (Hence the alias Abu AbdurRahman) and the Imam was responsible. Imam Siraj Wahaj at Madison Square Garden said something special about him. He said(I paraphase) "You know who I want to be like? AbdurRahman ibn Awf. Why?!? Because Allah(SWT) promised him Jannah, thats why." Some time after that I read the book, Companions of the Prophet(SAW) and I read stories about AbdurRahman ibn Awf after which I decided that he was my favorite Sahabah.

A couple years ago, I learned that it was Imam Siraj Wahaj's lectures and khutbahs that caused my father''s interest in Islam to nurture and grow. He once told me that he would always be listening to his lectures in the car. Out of the small collection of cassettes that we had, a couple were nasheeds and the rest were lectures by Imam Siraj Wahaj.

The last lecture I listened to his was about two years ago at the Youth Conference. SubhanAllah, It almost made me cry. Not because it was dynamic or scary but the humbleness in his voice was really amazing.

If you look at the AlMaghrib Impact page, here, you'll see that I wasn't the only one who's childhood hero was Imam Siraj Wahaj, he was Muhammad AlShareef's, too.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Some notes on Feminism

I try to stay away from controversies among Muslims especially when both sides had valid opinions but this is one controversy I am willing to indulge in wholeheartedly.

I never liked feminism from day one. High-school, junior high, even elementary (probably as far back as 4th grade). It was always disturbed me and my various readings on the topic of women and feminism all helped me to increase my stance. As for Islamic Feminism, it’s an oxymoron because not only does it advocate wrong ideals and beliefs but it also shows how Muslims have tried to adjust Islam to make it compliant with Westernism.

Essence of Islam

Firstly, Islam is a not just a religion. It is a way of life which is practical and withstands the test of time. In other words, one cannot say that Islam cannot be practiced in a certain age or time or that Islam does not cover a certain aspect of life. Secondly, Islam is a religion not based upon what people want or believe to be good rather it is what Allah (SWT) says is righteous and true. Unfortunately throughout time, Islam has been adjusted to serve the beliefs and ways of people, many Muslim, many not. There are multiple examples of how Islam was adjusted under various Caliphs to meet their interests and there are even more numerous examples of how Islam has been adjusted to meet the interests of non-Muslim leaders, cultures and nations. Because of this, if one really wants to practice Islam purely, he or she must look back into the life and practice of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as an example and if one cannot find answers there, then look into the lives of the various companions of the blessed Prophet (SAW). By the grace of Allah (SWT), both these examples have been preserved for us through the work of hundreds, maybe thousands of Ulemah (scholars).

Keeping this in mind, a person should realize that true Islam is not and can not be influenced by other’s views. Islam is wholesome and unchangeable, not dependent on what or how these people or this person thinks or acts. Likewise, the status of woman in Islam is unchangeable and cannot be manipulated by others.

Islam is never influenced by a society. Yes, it can influence a society and change people’s views but it can never be influenced itself. It is like a diamond which can scratch other rocks but cannot be scratched itself.

Equality of Woman

In Islam, men and women are equal. Though this view seems to be similar to the views of feminists and many Western societies, it is not. An excellent lecture on this topic is by Yasir Qadhi titled Perfect Justice-Debunking the Male Bias Myth. In this lecture, Yasir Qadhi states that men are not to be compared with woman in materialistic ways. Comparing men and women with each other is like comparing apples with oranges. The only way that men and women can be equal is the way that truly matters: in terms of Taqwa(fear of Allah). On the Day of Judgement, Allah (SWT) will judge every individual on his level of Taqwa, not if they had money or not, if he or she had certain rights or not, or had the permission to do different things. Allah (SWT)’s justice is unlike any other and it is PERFECT. It is one thing to eat to apples and tell which one is better but it is a totally different thing to eat an apple and an orange and then tell which one is the better of the two.

The problem with feminists is that they believe both men and women are apples and can be compared with each other. They believe that not only are men and women equal but they are also the same as well. This belief causes them to undermine the roles of women and causes them to define equality as similitude.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A State of Ignorance

I had some guests come visit us today from India. Unfortunately they weren't too religious. Without going into further detail about how nonreligious they were, I want to bring up something that really bothered them.

My mother tries not to go in front of non-Mahrem men like a Muslim woman is supposed to according to the Shariah. Not only did these guests not observe this practice but they were unfamiliar with it. Yes, they knew the term "Purdah" and understood what it meant but it seemed as though, especially the wife, had experienced it for the very first time. They wanted my mother, to come and eat together on the table where there were both men and women seated. My mother had to explain to them that she observes "Purdah" and cannot sit with them at the table. This is not an unusual thing for non-Muslims or even new Muslims. but these were Muslims who lived in India. Though Muslims were in the minority, the Muslims still ruled the country for thousands of years. I don't understand how Muslims who still live in India have become so ostracized with their religion, themselves.

Another incident which my grandmother brought up was what happened in Dubai quite a few years ago. Some lady at a gathering guessed that my grandmother was from Pakistan and her friend was from India. How? The length of the Saree's. A Saree is, pretty much a long cloth literally wrapped around a woman's body. When Indian women(Muslim or not) wear the Sari, it shows their stomach but Pakistani Muslim women cover atleast their stomach. Considering that many Muslims migrated from present day India to present-day Pakistan, it is unusual that Muslims living in Pakistan have become in a sense more religious.

Maybe, the "Purdah" was not something new to them. Maybe, it was something of the past. The "Purdah" was quite prominent in the subcontinent for a long time even after it started disappearing in the Middle East. So then, what happened? Did the Muslims who left to Pakistan also take their religion with them? That can't be the answer. India is not far behind in producing scholars and works of Islamic art. Zakir Naik is probably one of the most prominent and The Sealed Nectar(Ar-Raheeq ul Mukhtum) is also written by an Indian Muslim.

Cultural Diffusion

I remember back in the US my teachers used to describe cultural diffusion as a good thing. They described America as a melting pot, where cultures of different parts of the world would combine together.

Personally, I never liked cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion has its good aspects since it causes people to accept others and not be too reproachful of those who are not like them. Nevertheless, it causes a lot of bad to come as well. What I'm guessing happened to the Muslims in India, is that they were affected by cultural diffusion and in an attempt to be accepted by the non-Muslims of India, they lost much of their religion.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Conversion of Humza (R)

Insha'Allah, starting from this post I will try to write regularly. My exams just finished yesterday and I have a lot of time on my hands these days, Alhumdulilah. Also, I'll insha'allah, finish and type up articles which I have written in the past and post them. So they may be a little outdated.

As I understand it, Humza (R) did not accept Islam out of love of Islam itself. He did it out of Arab tribalism. From what I remember, Abu Jahl said some rude words about the Prophet(SAW). This enraged Humza (R) who could not stand his beloved nephew being cursed. In anger, he said to Abu Jahl that I am from his religion as well(i.e. Muslim). How did the Prophet(SAW) react to this? The Muslims as well as the blessed Prophet(SAW) were overjoyed? Did anyone look into to the fact that Humza (R) did not accept Islam with a pure intention? Did the Prophet (SAW) dissuade him from accepting Islam like this and tell him to first think about he was doing?

Br. X(i forgot his name) would be constantly trying to get Shahadah's. All he did was mainly get people to say the shahadah for any price. The first step is a lot of progress.

Keeping this in mind, I was flabbergasted when I read this. Do Muslim women actually take off their hijab because they don't feel they aren't doing it with a pure intention? Who cares what the intention is!!!! If it's a good thing, do it!!!!! You're not going to get any bad deeds for putting the hijab on if you're just doing it because you're friends are.

Personally, I think its an excuse to take the hijab off. Not necessarily to others but to yourself. As my grandmother often reminds me, we have 2 Nafs. Nafs Al-Ammaarah and Nafs Al-Lawaamah. One tells us to do good while the other tells us to do bad. In the case of Muslim woman who take off their hijab, their Nafs Al-Amaarah is stronger but not enough. So, it needs a logical explanation to hamper Nafs Al-Lawaamah.

By the way, if you put the Hijab on with pure intention or not there's still benefit attached to it. You are protecting yourself from the sin of not acting upon a Fard(by the way, yes its a fard if you didn't know). Secondly, who knows that at one point your intention will be purified?

I am stressing this point with Hijab but this is a general priniciple. I remember a couple of times when I prayed two extra rak'ah Nafl in the Masjid just because I wanted to talk to a friend who was at the time praying Salah. Did I get any good deeds for it? Probably not, but did get any bad deeds for it? NO!! Why should I?

Out of all the Ibadah, I admit, Salah, WAS one of the hardest for me to do. I prayed Fard salah because it was mandatory but Nawafil was extremely hard for me. One friend, especially, who I was really eager to talk with would often pray not only two but often four rak'ah after Salah. Since I would be waiting for him to finish, I would often start praying as well. I knew I probably wouldn't get much Hasanah for it but it would be still better than just standing and waiting. This along with another friend's insistence(may Allah(SWT) bless you) that I pray nawafil helped me finally to get used to it. I kept the practice up and SubhanAllah it became easier. Now, I often pray nawafil with a pure intention not just because of a friend or two.

The point is why stop yourself from doing good just because you don't have a good intention.

I remember a lecture (I think by Humza Yusuf) a long time ago when he said that Shaytan only has a bag full of tricks which he has been using for centuries. If you figure them out, then it is easy to not be decieved by them. I often wondered what those tricks were. Well, Shaytan I figured another one.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rights of Allah VS. Rights of Mankind

Literature's Effect

Literature has a profound effect on every society. It shapes the way people look at things and how they feel about what different aspects in life. After all, the Prophet Muhammad(SAW) said in a hadith that some words are magic. In other words, they change the way people think and act. This is especially true with masterpieces and other revered types of literature. After all, the goal of any author(not including children's storybook ones) is to make its readers accept what it is saying. This has been the case and continues to be the case with American society as well as other societies. Pakistani society is no different.

Pakistani Society

Pakistani society has been in the past been extremely dependent on literature. After all, it was the writers and poets who through the will of Allah helped uplift Muslims in the subcontinent and bring a positive change in society. Even today, these writings are revered greatly and are looked to for inspiration. Unfortunately, they have reached such an extent that they are thought of in a Godly manner.

Whether what the writer is saying is right or wrong, he has been given unwavering veneration. Though at many times this is beneficial, it also extremely detrimental as well. This has been the case with many Sufi poets. Their Aqeedah is extremely messed up (I mean belittling Allah and open Shirk) but their writings are still held in high esteem. Only in extreme cases do people actually criticize what they say.

Urdu Class-February 1st, 2007

I am taking Easy Urdu in Intermediate(11th & 12th) in Pakistan but I often hear lectures of Normal Urdu as well. Anyway, this was in response to a story and lecture I heard today.

The name of the story was Hajj-e-Akbar. It was about a little boy who had a nanny who loved him very much. His mother, though kind-hearted, was constantly suspicious and jealous of the nanny. One day she fired her in one of her bouts of anger. The boy who who had a lot of affection for his nanny, missed her and constantly cried. His mother and father could do nothing to stop him. After a week or so, he became sick out of constant sadness. His parents tried all they could but couldn't help their son. For the last 2 days he didn't even open his eyes.

Meanwhile, his nanny was jobless for 2 weeks and finally decided to go Hajj. When she was on the car to go to Makkah, she saw the boy's father running towards her. He told her that her son was sick and was missing her alot. She couldn't stand it any longer and came back to the boy. He almost instantly after seeing her became better. Later, she worried that she wasn't able to make her Hajj. The boy's father instantly assured her that her staying with the boy was more important and his name was Hajj-e-Akbar.

Teacher's Comments and Notes

Now the story isn't all that bad until the last part where they talk about the importance of Hajj. Hajj is an essential part of our deen and few things can surpass its importance.

This story, as I said before, is one of those literary works through which many people take inspiration from. And so my Urdu teacher said that (in Urdu) "A lesson we can derive from this is that the Rights of People are many more times more important than the Rights of Allah."

Now this just might be my(misguided) teacher's opinion but this is what the book says in explanation of the story(again in Urdu) : A Sufi poet has said that every deed where one helps a person in need out is Haj-e-Akbar. So that's the main point of the story.


One of the main problems with this belief is that it leads to many wrongs and neglect of many Rights of Allah. These include basic pillars of Islam and many other Faraid. My Urdu teacher, who holds this belief apparently, wears jeans, a blatant show of modernism. (It's not a big deal elsewhere but in Pakistan, its REAL big.)

Another problem is that we belittle Allah. We come to think of him as less important than humans. After all, according to this belief Allah's rights are not as important as others'.

Why all this?

There is a Hadith quite common in Pakistan,

"If a person does not have mercy on Mankind, Allah does not have mercy on him."

Unfortunately, many common people in Pakistan tend to practice a Hadith to such an extreme extent that they derive many fatwa and rulings all from a single Hadith. They even go beyond the limits set by Allah and use it to go against Quranic rulings and other Ahadith.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shoulder to Shoulder, Ankle to Ankle

Shoulder to Shoulder, Ankle to Ankle... A much debated topic.

In this post, I'm not going to go into what's right, what's wrong. I'm going to try to resolve some differences and try to bridge some gaps.

Personally, I follow the opinion that in Salah we should make sure that we should have our ankles and shoulders together. Living here in Pakistan, its not quite possible. Since the majority of people here are Hanafi, they do not practice the ankles to ankles part. And like Hanafi's in America(and probably other places) as well, they get offended if you try to practice that Sunnah.

Ankles to Ankles

Especially before Jummah, I hear the (Hanafi) Imam mention the following words in Urdu "Ankle to Ankle". The first time I heard it, I was confused. Has the Imam made another cross-Madhab Fatwa? Later, I realized that what he meant by Ankle to Ankle was not to touch the ankle of your neighbor in Salah but to straighten the rows.

So, I figure that what the Hanafi scholars understand by "ankle to ankle" is not to join ankles but have them aligned in a straight line so that the rows are also straight.

Shoulder to Shoulder

All four madhabs agree that when a person prays, his shoulders should be touching his neighbors, a sign of solidarity. It's a different case in every masjid but I've seen that people often leave huge gaps between each other. Quite a few times, I've actually had to finish the previous row cause there was a huge gap between two people or a person and a wall.

Is it because of the social divide, ignorance or cause the other person smells bad? None of these are good excuses.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's our Goal?- Part 2

Right Direction, Wrong Result
Think about it this way. A person enters a competition to make Fried Chicken but instead makes Pasta. Now, that Pasta could be the best on Earth but that person would be disqualified immediately. Why? Cause though he made an excellent dish, it didn't meet the requirements of the competition.

We are all here for one goal. To worship Allah, but sometimes, often by mistake we devote most of our Energy to other things. I know this occurs here, in Pakistan and occurs in America as well. It probably occurs all over the world.

There are a multitude of so-called "Religious Families" where all the members practice Islam. They pray, fast, give sadaqah, etc. But if you really look at what their aiming for its not the Deen, its the Dunya. The Deen for them is a part time goal, not full-time like it should be. Islam is a thorough religion which covers every aspect, not subconsciously as many have made it but also consciously.

Family XYZ

I'll give you an example of a family which I know. They can be branded religious and or not.

Family XYZ I'll call it. Family XYZ have 6 members, 4 children, two adults. The father is a teacher at Sunday School and all 4 students are all high achievers there. Now, Sunday School isn't really a degree for being Islamic but it's all unfortunately what the majority of Muslims have. My own parents were very active in Sunday School for many years. What I realized is that the Sunday School crowd does not always consist of practicing Muslims but it has many more families participating in it than other Islamic programs. So in a way Family XYZ is automatically considered religious because their active at SS. Compared to the rest of their extended family, they are religious but only in relative terms. What's wrong with them?

The problem is not that XYZ doesn't pray or do other acts of worship. They pray, fast, and fulfill most of their Islamic obligations. What's wrong with them is what their aiming at. If you analyze them closely, their not really aiming for the Deen, their aiming for the Dunya. Their ultimate goal is for their children to have an excellent education, get married, and live a happy life. In terms of Goals, Islam is not on the top.

This is a cause of many of their problems and their 'difficult' decisions. The children of Family XYZ happen to have an exam on Eid day. Now, like so many people of other religions, they could get take a day off from school saying its a religious holiday. But they don't . Passing that exam is more important than that Eid prayer(which is sunnah). Even for the ones in middle school.

The oldest child of Family XYZ has just finished high school, now needs to start college. She has been an honor roll student all her life, straight A's, many AP classes, but unfortunately she hasn't gotten much scholarships. Now what does she do? Student Loan or not?

Not a difficult decision unless you've got your priorities mixed up. And thats how it is with Family XYZ. Family XYZ can't decide what's more important; obeying Allah or getting a good education. Now, some people might say its not all that simple, there are other factors involved... Yes, I might even here that from my elders as well. But it is.

ISLAM is a universal religion. It is applied in ALL aspects. Allah is everywhere, not just at Jumu'ah or Sunday School.

Family XYZ is an extreme case. Not everyone is like this. But many Muslims have the same problem, more or less. For some worshiping Allah is higher on their list than others but for others its even lower than Family XYZ.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's our Goal?- Part 1

Ok, I'm gonna be blunt here. My original intention and motivation for writing this series was Tariq Nelson's blog here. This article is a rebuttal of the original post and its early supportive comments. I think someone later on made this point but I'm gonna emphasize it anyway.

What's Our Goal?

What is our Goal in our life as Muslims? As I've seen in the West and in the East many Muslims both 'religious' and 'non-religious' minded forget to ask ourselves this question. And even if they do say the correct answer they don't apply it.

Before going onto what's right and what's wrong, let me remind the Goal in life of all Muslims.
"To win Allah's Mercy so that we can attain Jannah."

All around the globe, the majority of individuals whatever their class, religion, beliefs, etc. are competing for the same thing, Education. Why? Because, as I've been told since Pre-school, education leads to Wealth and wealth leads to prosperity and a HAPPY LIFE.

Unfortunately, we, as Muslims fall into the same trap. Everyone around us is going crazy for education and so we think we should, too. Now don't take me wrong on this. I study hard in college, devote quite a bit of my time to studying, and try to get excellent scores. But as Muslims we are not here to make Money through education. We are here to worship Allah.

Ok, it sounds real simple but it's not. We get ourselves confused with so many little questions that Shaytan puts in our mind to stop us from worshipping Allah.

Strategy #1-Mess up the Intention

Why Study?

Our Goal in life is not to learn as much as we can. By learning here I mean knowledge of the Dunya. Yeah, there's the hadith of the Prophet(S) telling us to seek knowledge but what did the Sahabah understand by the word Knowledge. They understood it as knowledge of the Quran, not knowledge of Newton's Laws. Yeah, knowledge is beneficial in many ways for the religion of Islam but do we all really study for the sake of Allah? Do we really study to help the Muslims (as is the common excuse) or is to get a good job and help ourselves earn money? I doubt there are many of us, ardent studiers who study Physics so that we can build a Masjid.

For the past 4 years, I have had these moods that I come home from school and ask my mom why should I study? What is there to achieve? What am I getting from all this? This was especially common after I had to come home from a discussion on Zina in the Scarlet Letter. My mom would try to appease me by saying, well we have to study to gain knowledge so we can increase our Iman by learning about Allah's Majesty. Well, thats probably, the best truthful excuse I can get. But that, at least for me that doesn't work. We are really all studying for the Dunya. Plain simple.

Remember Imam Nawawi's first Hadith in his forty hadith book. We are all like that person who made Hijrah to marry a woman.

What, we shouldn't Study?

My mother came home one day after one of her neighborhood Halaqas telling me about an incident that happened. One of the aunties made a speech on how knowledge of the Dunya was not beneficial in the Akhirah. On this many of the other sisters got angry. "You're telling us we shouldn't tell our children to learn this stuff." No, no. No one needs to take it an extra step. Who said that doing something for the Dunya is Haraam.

We should study but remember that we are not here to study. Life's not about studying, its about appeasing Allah(SWT).


Upcoming Parts
  • The Other Cousin, we're Different.
  • Ehics of Studying
  • More, if I see fit...