Monthly Archives: July 2009

I’ll be back…

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu,

 

Just wanted to give everyone a head’s up that I’ll be talking a short sabbatical from the blogging world. Insha’Allah I’ll be back and blogging with full force in a couple months 🙂

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Top 10 Misconceptions About Islam

10. Muslims are Arabs

Misconception: All Muslims are Arabs

The common image of a Muslim is a turbaned dark Arab man with a long beard. However this image is part of the minority of Muslims. Arabs make only 15% of the world’s Muslim population. As a matter of fact the Middle East comes in third with East Asia coming in at first (69%) and Africa (27%) coming in at second. Another common misconception is that all Arabs are Muslims. While the vast majority of Arabs are Muslims (75%), there are many other religions that Arabs practice including Christianity and Judaism.

9. Muslims and Jesus

Misconception: Muslims Hate Jesus

There are many similarities between the historical references of Christianity and Islam. Many people are amazed to find out that according to Muslim belief, Jesus is one of the greatest messengers of God. One cannot be a Muslim without believing in the virgin birth and the many miracles of Jesus Christ. Jesus is also mentioned in many verses of the Quran and is often used as an example of good virtue and character. However, the main difference between Christianity and Islam is that Muslims do not believe that Jesus was God.

8. Children’s Rights

Misconception: Children have no rights

Children, according to Islamic law, have various rights. One of these is the right to be properly brought up, raised, and educated. Islam encourages children to be brought up well because it is the responsibility of an adult to raise his child to become a moral and ethical adult. Children must also be treated equally. When giving financial gifts they should all be the same amount and there should be no preference among them. Children are even permitted to take moderately from their parent’s wealth to sustain themselves if the parent declines to give them proper funds for living. A child is also not allowed to get hit in the face or hit by anything larger than a pencil.

7. Religious Intolerance

Misconception: Islam is intolerable to other religions

‘Kill the infidel’ is the phrase many people believe is the ideology that Muslims have towards the non Muslims. This, though, is not a correct portrayal of Islamic law. Islam has always given respect and freedom of religion to all faiths. In the Quran it says “God does not forbid you, with regards to those who fight you not for religion nor drive you away out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them, for god loves those who are just.” There are many historical examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faith. One such example was when the caliph Umar was ruler of Jerusalem from 634 to 644 AD. He granted freedom to all religious communities and said that the inhabitants of his city were safe and that their places of worship would never be taken away from them. He also set up courts that were designated to the non Muslim minorities. Whenever he would visit holy areas he would ask for the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him.

6. Islamic Jihad

Misconception: Jihad means to fight for the sake of god

The true Arabic meaning of the word jihad is struggle. However in Islam it is often used to describe the striving in the way of god. There are many forms of jihad but the most important ones are Jihad al-nafs (jihad against ones self), jihad bil-lisan (jihad by being vocal), jihad bil yad (jihad by using action), and Jihad bis saif (jihad by using the sword). Each jihad is ranked differently and it was reported that Muhammad returned from a battle and said “We have returned from the lesser jihad (going into battle) to the greater jihad (the struggle of the soul).” This means that a Muslim struggling against himself and his soul is more important than the jihad of going into war. Another misconception is that only when a person dies in war does that person becomes a martyr. This is, however, false and it is believed that anyone doing anything for the sake of god and is killed becomes a martyr. A person who dies while performing pilgrimage in Mecca, a woman who dies while giving birth, or even someone who dies in a car crash while he was on his way to the mosque are all considered martyrs.

5. Child Bride

Misconception: The Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile

While it is true that he married a girl that was at the age of nine that does not constitute pedophilia. Historically, the age at which a girl was considered ready to be married has been puberty. This was the case in Biblical times, and is still used today to determine the age of marriage in many parts of the world. This was part of the norm and is not something that Islam invented. The girl he got married to had reached puberty 3 years before marriage. It is upon reaching the age of puberty that a person, man or woman, becomes legally responsible for their actions under Islamic law. At this point, they are allowed to make their own decisions and are held accountable for their actions. It should also be mentioned that in Islam, it is unlawful to force someone to marry someone that they do not want to marry. There is no indication that the society at that time criticized this marriage due to the girl’s young age. On the contrary, the marriage was encouraged by the girl’s family and was welcomed by the community at large.

4. Muslim Savages

Misconception: Muslims are savages and barbaric during war

Quite the contrary, when it comes to the conduct of war there are ten rules that every Muslim army must obey:

1. Do not commit treachery
2. Do not deviate from the right path
3. Do not mutilate dead bodies
4. Do not kill children
5. Do not kill women
6. Do not kill aged men
7. Do not harm or burn trees
8. Do not destroy buildings
9. Do not destroy an enemy’s flock, unless you use it for your food
10. When you pass people who have devoted their lives to monastic services leave them alone

During the crusades when Saladin defeated the franks he honored the defeated Frankish army and supplied them with food and during the third crusade when Saladin’s enemy king Richard fell sick, Saladin sent him a gift of fruits and horses.

3. Women’s Rights

Misconception: Women have no rights

The image of a woman wearing a veil from head to toe, a woman who gets unfair justice or a woman who is not allowed to drive is an all too familiar notion when it comes to women treatment in Islam. And while there are Muslim countries in the world that do implement many harsh rulings against women, this should not be portrayed as Islamic law. Many of these countries have cultural differences that go against the teachings of Islam. It should be noted that during pre-Islam Arabia women were used for fornication only and had no independence. The birth of a daughter in a family was considered humiliating and the practice of female infanticide was uncontrolled. When Islam came to being, verses in the Quran condemned the practice of female infanticide. Islam gave back many human rights to the woman and Muhammad(s) was even reported saying that “women are the twin halves of men.” A Muslim woman is allowed to reject and accept any suitor for marriage and has the right to seek divorce. There is nothing in Islam that forbids a Muslim woman from exiting her house and is allowed to drive. Also in regards to education, a woman is obligated to seek knowledge and it is considered a sin if she refuses.

2. By the Sword

Misconception: Islam was spread by the sword

Historian De lacey O’Leary states “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.” There is no record in history that shows people being forced by sword point to convert to Islam. When Islam spread through countries they would set up private churches and synagogues for the non Muslims they were governing and because of the good treatment they had received they themselves would convert. If one considers the small number of Muslims who initially spread Islam to the west all the way from Spain and Morocco and into east from India and China one would realize that such a small group of people could not force others to be members of a religion against their will. It is also interesting to note that when the Mongols invaded and conquered large portions of the Islamic empire, instead of destroying the religion they adopted it!

1. Islamic Terrorism

Misconception: Muslims are terrorists

This is by far the biggest misconception of Islam, given unfairly by stereotyping and the public image that the media gives. Has anyone else noticed how when a specific group of people attack another group of people it is labeled as a ‘hate crime’, but when a Muslim opens fire on anybody it is quickly regarded as ‘terrorism’. Many political dictators and officials or extremist groups use the name of Islam as a strategy to garner followers and attention when many of their practices go against the true basis of Islam. The media has also portrayed Islam as a cult or a club where if you join you become a terrorist and that is now part of your agenda. However all over the world people practice Islam in the true form and use it as a way of life. There are many verses in the Quran that go against the idea of terrorism. Some of these verses include “fight in the way of Allah those that fight you but do not transgress limits for god does not love transgressors.” This basically means do not fight except in self defense and even in doing so do not go beyond defense. Another verse states “if they seek peace, then you seek peace,” which means do not attack people for no reason or kill innocent people. There is nowhere in Islam, whether it be in the Quran or the teachings of Muhammad, that promotes the killing of innocent people.

Taken from here

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The ‘Harsh’ Reality of Islam

Here is a khutbah I recently gave.  I think its definitely an important topic because it’s very odd to me how when some people get more “religious” or start getting their deen on they become overly serious and hard tempered for some strange reason. If you are one of those people…..chill out 🙂 

 

“Shall I not tell you who will be forbidden from the Fire, or from whom the Fire will be forbidden? It will be forbidden for every gentle, soft-hearted and kind person.” [Tirmidhi]

 

 I wanted to discuss a characteristic that many of us witness among several people unfortunately. I’m sure that all of us can recall examples through our own respective dealings and interactions with individuals on a day to day basis, so its importance is without a doubt very critical to us all.

 Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Imran (3:133-135):

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And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord; and a Garden, the extensiveness of which is (as) the heavens and the earth, it is prepared for those who guard (against evil). Those who spend (benevolently) in ease as well as in straightness, and those who restrain (their) anger and pardon men; and Allah loves the doers of good (to others). And those who when they commit an indecency or do injustice to their souls remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their faults– and who forgives the faults but Allah, and (who) do not knowingly persist in what they have done.

 It is very important to note that Allah (swt) specifically mentions those who control their anger. It does not say those who do not have any anger. Anger is a natural feeling, and there are certain instances in which we should get upset, such as if any injustice occurs to Muslims or non-Muslims. However, this anger should not in any form prelude injustice and the stereotypical violence that has been attributed to Muslims. Rather, we should control it and not allow ourselves to be harsh or hard tempered with people.

One of the absolute best examples is found Surah Ta Ha (20: 43-44). Allah (swt) told Musa (as):
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Go to Pharaoh; he has overstepped the bounds. But speak to him with gentle words so that hopefully he will pay heed or show some fear.

What was the nature of Pharaoh? He is the same person who is described in Surah An-Naziat (79:24) as arrogantly boasting

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Then he said: I am you your lord, the most high.

He killed thousands of innocent believers and even newborn infants, he denied the clear signs and miracles of Allah (swt), he was an open enemy to Musa (as), and he was so evil that Jibril (as) stuffed his mouth with mud before Pharoah drowned so that he couldn’t even utter words of repentance when Pharoah knew he was about to die. He is narrated to be the absolute worst of mankind, and he is shown his place in Hell everyday while in the state of barzaq. Allah (swt) knew exactly who Pharaoh was and what he did, yet still he told Musa (as) to be gentle with him. Musa (as) being gentle with him could  have possibly benefited Pharoah, but likewise it would have benefited Musa (as) himself first and foremost.

Similarly, it is important to note the instructions given to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) from Allah (swt) at the conclusion of Surah At-Tariq (86:15-17)

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Lo! they plot a plot (against thee, O Muhammad). And I plot a plot (against them). So give a respite to the disbelievers. Deal thou gently with them for a while.

Allah (swt) tells the beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) that the disbelievers are without a doubt plotting against him, yet Allah (swt) had a much greater plan in store for them. Given this revelation, it was still be best for Muhammad (saw) to deal with them in a gentle manner and avoid harshness during that time even with the clear knowledge that they are acting as enemies towards his noble mission.

Another beautiful reminder of avoiding even the slightest inclinations towards neglecting the rights of others,  perfecting one’s character, and prioritizing the importance of matters is at the beginning of Surat ‘Abasa (80:1-12)

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(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, Because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)?- Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient, To him dost thou attend; Though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly, And with fear (in his heart), Of him wast thou unmindful. By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction: Therefore let whoso will, keep it in remembrance. 

This lesson can be applied to your fellow Muslim brother or sister, as well as non-Muslims that come to us sincerely in search of deepening their own understanding of the faith. This address of Allah (swt) directly to the Prophet (saw) was both a lesson for him as well as for all of mankind to follow. The Prophet (saw) wasn’t necessarily harsh in the sense that we commonly envision when visualizing the state of one being inconsiderate towards a fellow person. The Prophet (saw) was upholding the utmost levels of sincerity towards both the Qureshi leader whom he was attempting to bestow a greater appreciation of Islam in the hopes that he would accept it as his own belief, as well as the blind man who came earnestly towards the Prophet (saw) with a humbled and God fearing heart. This blind believer came to him in a sincere pursuit of knowledge and strengthening his faith, and we can see how we are directed to deal with everyone in the best and most gentle way even if it may conflict with out own whims and desires. Another lesson to learn from this is the absolute veracity and validity of the Qur’an as being of divine origin. Even the Prophet (saw), who had the most exemplary tender and soft persona, was corrected in his dealings when he seldom erred. If this book had been written by Muhammad (saw), there would be no need for him to rectify and rebuke himself for his own mistakes in such a public and open fashion. This is another proof that this book can be from none other than the Creator of the heavens and earth.

In addition there are several ahadith in regards to the self-restraint and proper avoidance of harshness that Muslims are commanded to follow. A few self evident examples are as follows:

 The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The strong man is not the one who can overpower others (in wrestling); rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself when he gets angry.”

 The Prophet (saw) said, “If a man avoids disputing when he is in the wrong, God builds for him a mansion in the middle part of paradise. And if a man avoids disputing when he is in the right, God builds for him a mansion in highest part of paradise.

 The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe.”

Also, it is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) never once in his entire life ever hit a woman or a child.

‘Umar (ra) has also been narrated as saying, ‘Deal with the [common] people on the basis of good character, and differ from them with your deeds’. 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No one will enter Paradise whose heart contains an atom’s weight of arrogance.” [Sahīh Muslim]. However, it’s rather effortless for any of us to get upset and harsh towards others when we have a superiority complex or arrogance towards another individual. I can vividly recall an example several years ago in which I saw this first hand. I was visiting overseas and was staying at a relative’s house. They had a servant who was a teenage boy that lived with them. We quickly befriended each other and masha’Allah he had a very likeable personality. However, what I remember the most is although for the most part everyone was nice and kind to him, there were instances when I felt they were overly harsh with him not because he made a mistake or wasn’t fulfilling his responsibilities, but rather because he was a servant and they were able to act harsh towards him without any perceived repercussions. Compare this to the conduct of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). In a hadith narrated by Anas: “I served the Prophet Muhammad (saw) (and his family) for ten years. (During these 10 years) he (was never cross and) never said even oh! and never asked as to why I did this or didn’t do that [Bukhari & Muslim]. Look at the tolerance, kindness, compassion & forgiveness. Not once in a span of 10 years did the Prophet (saw) rebuke, insult, or reprimand Anas (ra) for any mistake or shortcoming that he may have made. This is a clear example of  what can be considered the pinnacle of gentle and upright conduct towards others.

The Prophet (saw) is narrated as saying in a hadith, “Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands.” What exactly is the definition of being “the best to your wife?”  As for the role of a husband, this hadith is clearly not a support for the so-called definitive notion that the most wealthy man should be sought after and that simply providing a life of luxury will make one the best husband. This alone cannot earn a husband the rewards of being the best man as described in the hadith. If we study the relationship between the Prophet (saw) and his wives we can see that in reality the quintessential essence of being the best husband, and therefore the best man, encompasses avoiding harshness, kindness, a gentle persona, forgiveness of minor faults of one’s wife, having a sense of humor, as well as the responsibilities of leading, protecting, and maintaining the needs of one’s wife. 

One crucial aspect of Islam for all of us to be cognizant about is that if one of us does not fulfill the rights of Allah (swt), and later ask for sincere forgiveness, He will forgive you insha’Allah. From a hadith qudsi it is narrated that Allah (swt) has said: 

O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.  O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.  O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.

However, if you usurp the rights of men and women there is no guarantee that they will forgive you, and we would be held accountable for our harsh conduct on the Day of Judgment. This is the ultimate reason why it is of the utmost importance to ensure that we fulfill the rights of people and avoid undue harshness towards them

The Messenger of Allah (saw) asked his Companions (Sahabah), “Do you know who is a poor man?” The Sahabah asked him who and the Prophet (saw) continued, “The poor man is he who comes to Allah (swt) with a mountain of good deeds, but has been careless at the same time. He lies at some point, hurts someone, or calls someone names. These people will come and demand their rights on the Day of Judgment, so Allah (swt) will start distributing his good deeds among them. His good deeds will finish but their rights will not. Allah (swt) will then take these people’s sins and start collecting them on this man’s head. These sins will pile up like a mountain. Such a one is called a poor person, one who has accumulated a mountain of good deeds but has been careless with his tongue and his hands at the same time.”

For this reason, many of the righteous men of the past have commented on the status of those who delude themselves in acts of perceived self-righteousness, yet only lower their rank due to their ill-nature and bad character.

Said al-Fudayl, ‘The company of an irreligious man of good character is preferable to me to that of an ill-natured man much given to worship.”

Anas ibn Malik (ra) said, “A bondsman can reach the very highest rank in Heaven through his good character, without being a man of much worship, and can reach the lowest region of the Inferno through his bad character, even though he should worship abundantly”

May Allah (swt) make us among those people who are gentle, have the best upright character, and avoid harshness in our dealings and affairs with others. Ameen.

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Muslim Woman and her Baby Threatened by White Supremacist with Knife

Seattle Times

A self-proclaimed white supremacist with a history of threats and harassment was charged today under the state’s hate crime statute after he allegedly threatened a young Muslim woman with a knife while she was waiting in line for services at the Seattle Indian Health Board, 611 12th Ave S.

According to charging papers, Eric Lee Garner walked up to the woman on July 1, pointed at her head scarf and said, “you Muslim people scare people when you wear things like that!” He followed up with other derogatory remarks.

The woman, who was holding her six-month-old son, tried to reason with the 24-year-old Auburn man by saying that her “her clothing does not make her a bad person,” court documents said. When the insults didn’t stop, prosecutors said, the woman backed away from Garner and tried to shield her son from him.

Garner then cursed at the woman, got in her face and pulled out a large sheathed knife, court papers said. Garner told the woman he was going to “cut” the woman and her baby with the knife, charging documents said.

A health board employee then grabbed the knife and retreated behind the counter, prosecutors said. Garner jumped over the counter, grabbed the knife and ran out of the building.

Police spotted Garner just after 1 a.m. the following day as he was walking in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Officers said he was carrying a knife. Without any questioning about the incident, Garner told the officers that he was a white supremacist “and was just doing his part,” charging papers said.

Garner has prior convictions for felony harassment, trafficking, theft, violation of a domestic violence court order, assault, indecent exposure and drug possession. Garner is being held at the King County Jail on $100,000 bail.

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Pregnant Muslim Woman Killed by German Racist in Court

  • STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sherbini killed in courtroom as she prepared to give testimony against man 
  • The man was convicted of calling Sherbini a “terrorist,” “bitch” and “Islamist”
  • Many Egyptians shout hostile slogans against Germany during her funeral

 

(CNN) — Hundreds of Egyptians took part Monday in the funeral of Marwa Sherbini, an Egyptian woman who was stabbed to death last week in the German city of Dresden in a crime believed to be racially motivated.

Sherbini, 33, was stabbed to death Wednesday in a courtroom as she prepared to give testimony against a German man of Russian descent whom she had sued for insult and abuse.

The man, identified in German media as Alex A., 28, was convicted of calling Sherbini, who wore a headscarf, “terrorist,” “bitch” and “Islamist” when she asked him him to leave a swing for her 3-year-old son Mustafa during an August 2008 visit to a children’s park.

He was fined and appealed the ruling. The two were in court Wednesday for that appeal when Alex A. attacked, pulling out a knife and stabbing Sherbini 18 times. He also stabbed her husband three times and attacked another person.

According to Arab media, police officers tried to intervene to end the fight, and a number of shots were fired. One hit the husband, who fell unconscious and is currently in intensive care in the hospital of Dresden University.

Sherbini was three months pregnant at the time of her death.

Hundreds attended Sherbini’s funeral in Alexandria, Egypt, her hometown, among them government officials, including Egyptian Manpower Minister Aisha Abdel Hadi and Telecommunications Minister Tariq Kamel, Egyptian media reported.

Many shouted hostile slogans against Germany and called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to take a firm stand on the incident. Egypt’s grand mufti, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, demanded the severest punishment to be issued against Alex A.

Berlin witnessed angry protests on Saturday, when hundreds of Arabs and Muslims demonstrated after a funeral prayer that called her killing an outrageous racist murder against Muslims.

In a phone call with Al Arabiya, Marwa’s brother, Tariq Sherbini, said, “Extremism has no religion. My sister was killed simply because she wore the veil. This incident clearly shows that extremism is not limited to one religion or another and it is not exclusively carried out by Muslims.”

“We are only asking for a fair punishment,” he said, adding that his sister was not a radical. “She was a religious woman who prayed and wore her headscarf, but she was killed because of her belief.”

Anger about Sherbini’s death smoldered online, as Twitterers and bloggers pushed the cause.

“She is a victim of hatred and racism,” tweeted Ghada Essawy, among many other Arab twitters and bloggers. Essawy called Sherbini “the martyr of the veil.”

Various videos circulated on YouTube calling on Egypt to take action and urging Germany to address what their makers saw as a new wave of hatred against Arabs and Muslims in its community.

One video showed various pictures of a young happy Marwa saying that “The woman stood up for her rights and she was killed. May God bless her.” The English font in the video presentation asked “when will Egypt cares for its citizens’ rights inside Egypt and abroad.”

Sherbini and her husband moved to Dresden in 2003, after the husband received a grant to study genetic engineering in the renowned Max Planck Institute. He was scheduled to present his Ph.D. thesis in the coming days. 

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