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...