Category Archives: Religion

Rich Muslim vows to pay all French burka fines

Masha’Allah, may Allah (swt) reward this brother. Read the original published article here.

On the eve of tomorrow’s Bastille Day celebrations, there is more revolution in the air in France and this time the ringleader is a flamboyant Muslim businessman called Rachid Nekkaz. The 38-year-old property developer is incensed that France has moved one step closer to banning the burka, with women caught wearing the full veil in public liable to a €150 fine and anyone convicted of forcing a woman to cover up facing a fine of up to €30,000 and a year in prison.

The first stage in passing the controversial law was today approved in the National Assembly with members of the Lower House voting overwhelmingly – 335 votes for to one against – to introduce the ban. If the French senators in the Upper House ratify the proposal in September, it will become law by the spring of 2011.

Nekkaz (above), along with the majority of France’s five million Muslims, is furious at what he sees as a persecution of his religion, pointing out that fewer than 2,000 French Muslims actually wear the full veil.

He has begun a campaign to fight the law and he’s pledged one million euros of his own money to pay the fines of any Muslim convicted. Speaking outside the National Assembly, Nekkaz said: “One million sounds a lot, but to protect one’s liberty it’s not much, and I hope that others in this country who hold the constitution dear and want to protect our fundamental liberty will join me in fighting this law.”

The debonair Nekkaz, a shining example of an integrated, modern French Muslim (he was born in France to Algerian parents), has set up a campaign group called ‘Hands off my Constitution’, and plans to raise the €1m by selling some of the properties he owns in the Parisian suburbs.

In front of the cameras he wrote a personal cheque for the seven-figure sum before describing the proposed law as ‘Anti-Constitutional’ and demanding that President Sarkozy shelves the idea.

That seems unlikely. Not only has Sarkozy described the full veil as degrading to women, but it’s an issue that has the overwhelming support of his UMP party. Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said last week that wearing the veil “amounted to being cut off from society and rejecting the very spirit of the French republic that is founded on a desire to live together”.

And the likes of Nekkaz haven’t been helped in fighting the law by the muddled approach of the opposition Socialist Party. They would like to see a ban restricted to state institutions. But that notion was ridiculed by Alliot-Marie, who said it would be “legally incoherent” and impossible to enforce. “How could we convince the French people that freedom, equality and respect for the dignity of women begins in the train station but stops at the exit?”

The Socialists abstained in today’s vote in the Lower House and have said they will adopt a similar stance in September’s Senate vote, in which case it seems certain the law will be written into the French Constitution. But the country’s police force is bracing itself for a backlash. Security was increased at the National Assembly ahead of today’s vote and there are fears of street riots if the bill is passed.

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Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra): Speech After Conquering Jerusalem

After receiving the surrender of Jerusalem and completing the tour of Syria when Caliph Umar was returning to Madina he led the prayer at Jabiah. On this occasion he delivered an address which is preserved in history. The major part of his address was:

“O ye people I counsel you to read the Qur’an. Try to understand it and ponder over it. Imbibe the teachings of the Qur’an. Then practise what the Quran teaches. The Qur’an is not theoretical; it is a practical code of life. The Qur’an does not bring you the message of the Hereafter only; it is primarily intended to guide you in this life. Mold your life in accordance with the teachings of Islam for that is the way of your well being. By following any other way you will be inviting destruction.”Fear Allah (The One True God), and whatever you want seek from Him. All men are equal. Do not flatter those in authority. Do not seek favors from others. By such acts you demean yourself. And remember that you will get only that is ordained for you, and no one can give you anything against the will of God. Then why seek things from others over which they have no control? Only supplicate God for He alone is the sovereign.

“And speak the truth. Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth. Say what you feel. Let your conscience be your guide. Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions. In your deeds your intentions count. Fear God, and fear no one else. Why fear others when you know that whatever sustenance ordained for you by God you will get under all circumstances? And again why fear when you know that death is ordained by God alone and will come only when He wills?

“Allah has for the time being made me your ruler. But I am one of you. No special privileges belong to ruler. I have some responsibilities to discharge, and in this I seek your cooperation. Government is a sacred trust, and it is my endeavor not to betray the trust in any way. For the fulfillment of the trust I have to be a watch-man. I have to be strict. I have to enforce discipline. I have to run the administration not on the basis of personal idiosyncracies; I have to run it in public interest and for promoting the public good. For this we have the guidance in the Book of God. Whatever orders I issue in the course of day to day administration have to conform to the Qur’an. God has favored us with Islam. He sent to us His Messenger (Muhammad, pbuh). He has chosen us for a mission. Let us fulfil that mission. That mission is the promotion of Islam. In Islam lies our safety; if we err we are doomed.”

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Yasir Qadhi: A Journey of Worship in 24 Hours

  • Angles worship nonstop = most quantity
  • However, Muhsin (ihsan) worship less but reach higher level b/c of QUALITY
  • Can’t differentiate muhmin and muhsin outwardly
  • Most rewarding deeds are obligatory
  • Most beloved are punctual deeds, you always do them continuously
  • Hasan al-Basri speaking to Tabieen: Abu Bakr (ra) did not elevate above them b/c of his deeds, but b/c of something that settled in his heart and consciousness

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Real Love?

If an individual loves someone, there is a general tendency to follow suit in loving many of the things in life which the beloved cherishes. I’m beginning to read Tariq Ramadan’s book, In the Footsteps of the Prophet, and after reading about the children of the Prophet (saw) I began to wonder how many of us who claim to love the Prophet (saw) truly love the children which he so dearly loved. All of us would be able to recall vivid details about our friends’ and relatives’ children, but if a simple litmus test that consisted of the absolute most basic questions of how many children the Prophet (saw) had, what their names were, and what order they were born in was put into place, I wonder how many of us would pass. Then I ask myself again if we truly do love the Beloved of Allah (saw)….


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Sex and the Ummah Series | New Initiative: Like a Garment | Yasir Qadhi

I will never forget the first embarrassingly explicit question that I was asked.  During one of the earliest series of lectures that I gave (the explanation of Kitab al-Tawhid), when I was still in my very early twenties, an older sister (probably in her mid 30s) came up to me and said she needed to ask a question. I was expecting something related to the topic, so I said, ‘Yes, go ahead.’ Instead, she asked a very frank question about the legal permissibility of something she and her husband did. All that I remember was turning beet-root red, looking down in embarrassment, and muttering some type of incoherent response back at her. Truth be told, not only did the question completely catch me off guard and discomfit me, I actually didn’t even know the answer to it. They most certainly did not teach us such material in Madinah!

Over the next few years, as I became more active in delivering sermons and lectures, I realized that the most common area that people needed guidance in was with regards to marital issues and spousal relationships. It didn’t matter if my talk was regarding some obscure and outdated fourth-century theological controversy in Nishapur, almost invariably a question or two would slip through and make its way towards me regarding a personal, marriage-related concern. It was also quite irrelevant where I happened to be talking. From America to Dubai and from Australia to the UK, marriage problems and marital advice topped the list of queries. As if to prove this point, the escalating problem of divorce amongst our generation is a matter that we are all painfully aware of. It is obvious that the Muslim men and women of our generation are having greater difficulty in maintaining healthy marriages.

Just a few weeks ago, after a seminar I delivered, a sister approached and asked for a few minutes of my time regarding a private issue. Her problem was not an uncommon one, although perhaps she was more traumatized by it than others. She told me that she had been married for a few years, but that her marital life was not satisfactory. Almost at the verge of tears, and in a very embarrassed state, she said that her husband was a good man in most respects, but in ‘that department’ he really was quite incompetent, and even selfish. All he was interested in was satisfying himself; her needs seemed to be of no concern to him. She told me that that her level of frustration and exasperation continued to grow and grow, and in fact many times she was left in tears after what should have been a moment of intimacy and romance. Not only did he not care, he was not even willing to acknowledge that there was a problem. Was it Islamically permissible, she asked, if she asked for a divorce to end the marriage and try to find happiness in another marriage?

Similar problems abound amongst brothers as well, although few are manly enough to actually admit it and seek guidance. The most common complaint amongst men is that their wives do not seem anywhere near as interested as they themselves are in being intimate. For these men, both the quantity and the quality of experiences are unsatisfactory. As a result, many brothers are tempted to believe that the only solution to their predicament is in marrying a second wife. They do not realize that such a ‘solution’ will in all likelihood compound this very problem, not to mention add a whole multitude of new ones as well. Instead of finding fault with an existing wife, a husband would fare better in seeing what he can do to improve the situation. Most times, a little bit of understanding and compassion (also known as ‘romance’) will go a very long way.

In my humble opinion, and based on my own observations, most of this tension arises from perceived gender roles and misguided expectations of how the ‘other’ should interact in a marriage. And while sexual roles and expectations are by no means the only problem, they are clearly a major one, and one that exacerbates other tensions within a marriage.

The problem is underscored by the fact that most men and women have no clue regarding how the opposite gender thinks, feels and acts. This ignorance is found in both Muslims and non-Muslims, but in this regard, non-Muslims typically do have an edge over us. Because of their consistent exposure to the opposite gender (and their frequent dating), non-Muslims do have a better understanding and are usually more sympathetic to the needs of the opposite gender. Additionally, because the predominant culture entails open and direct competition amongst members of one gender to stand out and appear attractive to the opposite gender (no arranged marriages there!), both men and women typically do display and cultivate emotional characteristics and sensitivities that their significant other would find extremely appealing. Men learn that romance and compassion will get them far; women learn that they can have more control over their man if they ‘push the right buttons’. For better or for worse, however, our own brothers and sisters are woefully in the dark about these issues, and the more conservative (and therefore ‘righteous’) a person is, the less experience he or she would have had in this regard, and hence the less prepared to face marriage. Most Muslim couples enter marriage not quite knowing what to face.

The problem is compounded for most of us, since we as a modern generation of Muslims are caught between two cultures: the excessive ultra-conservatism of our parent’s culture (in which parents never even held hands in front of their kids, or addressed each other in endearing terms, or indeed showed any signs of being romantic), and the hyped over-sexuality and over-romanticism of the culture surrounding us (in which much happens in public that we’d rather not discuss). We grew up receiving confusing and contradictory messages from the home and family on the one side, and from television and society on the other.

Such an onslaught of problems and questions forced me, from very early on, to read up on issues not quite on the curriculum at Madinah! And while many of the books I read were extremely beneficial in terms of understanding the psychological and emotional differences between men and women, all of them were written for people with very different ethics and value systems than those of our own. I found myself trying to sift through and extract the beneficial bits while discarding suggestions that would not work from within our religious and cultural paradigm. This material, I strongly felt, had to be ‘Islamified’ and then passed on to others.

Last year, an opportunity arose which allowed me to express some of those ideas in front of an audience. A dear friend and mentor was teaching a class about the fiqh of marriage. As part of that class, one section would deal with issues of intimacy. It just so happened that I would be in that same city for another reason, and would be free on that particular day. The Shaykh, when he heard that I would be in town, confessed that he felt awkward doing this section because he had not been raised in this culture, and felt that I might be more appropriate since I could better relate to the issues facing our youth. At first I was quite hesitant to take up this offer (“So, Shaykh, let me get this straight: you want me to stand up in front of five hundred young men and women and talk about sex?!”), but after thinking through this issue, and with the continued persistence of the Shaykh, I decided to put myself in the ‘hot seat’ and go through with it. I thought about the questions and problems that had been presented to me over the last decade, and the issues that people had confided in me regarding their marital problems. I structured my notes around those experiences, re-read many of the works that I had on the subject, and added a healthy dose of Quranic and hadith references, along with some Islamic common sense. I decided that it would be appropriate to separate the brothers and sisters, and lecture one gender at a time. That way, not only could I modify the lecture to target each gender specifically, I could also avoid the awkwardness that would have been felt if the other gender had been present.

The results and feedback after my talk astounded me. Overwhelmingly, people thanked me for the frank and relevant advice – for speaking in explicit terms and moving beyond simplistic one-line platitudes. Many people asked for a recording of this session (it had not been recorded), and quite a few suggested that my talk should be expanded and taught in a separate seminar. Word quickly spread (along with a few inevitable jokes!), and this class led to a few more speaking engagements along similar topics. Along the way, I had to research more and more and expand into more issues. Feedback and questions from audiences also helped me shape the topic and fine-tune my talks.

The last time I taught the class – to a group of brothers and sisters in the UK – I asked each student to fill out an anonymous feedback form regarding the talk. I specifically told them to point out any weaknesses and mention criticisms. Alhamdulillah, the survey came back without a single negative comment. Again and again, people expressed the sentiment that this information needed to be taught to all Muslims of our generation: those who were yet to be married, those who were newlyweds and experiencing problems, and those who wanted healthier marriages.

This is why, after praying istikhara and speaking to others about this issue, I have decided to commit some time to this area and address this very delicate subject directly, from an Islamic perspective. The initiative is called ‘Like A Garment’ (, from the famous Quranic phrase of spouses being like garments to one another. The website has two aims: to disseminate information about this topic (which will, insha Allah, be beneficial to all Muslims, single and married), and to garner, via anonymous questionnaires, the problems and concerns that the Muslims of our times are facing in this area (which will help me better prepare future lectures).  I encourage those who are interested to log on to the website and sign up to receive our weekly journal.

I pray that Allah helps me to make this project successful, and that through it many, many Muslims are able to live better lives and obtain happier marriages! Ameen.


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Reflections on the Problem of Black Suffering: Dr. Sherman Jackson & Dr. Cornel West

Got this from my boy darthvaider. I listened to the entire lecture and Q/A session and very much enjoyed listening to it. Although not necessarily revelatory in the sense that the ideas expressed have not been heard by those who have engaged or followed either speaker, but masha’Allah it was a very good forum and platform to launch future dialog and intellectual discourse on not only the issue of black suffering, but that of the Muslim experience and outlook for future progress in the US in the upcoming years.

Click here for the lecture.

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Extremists of any color or belief can commit terrorism: Arsalan Iftikhar

Link to article
By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN
March 10, 2010 3:46 p.m. EST

Editor’s note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C.

(CNN) — Within the last month, our country has witnessed two senseless, high-profile acts of criminal violence that would have been labeled terrorism if brown-skinned Arab Muslim men with foreign-sounding names had committed them.

Because two white men committed these acts of violence, however, our political and media chattering class never used the word “terrorism” in its discussions.

Most recently, John Patrick Bedell, a 36-year-old man from California, walked up to two security guards outside the Pentagon Metro station in suburban Washington and started shooting. He was then shot and killed. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Bedell appeared “to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent anti-government feelings” and also battled mental illness before his shooting rampage.

A few weeks ago, on February 18, another white anti-government extremist named Joseph Stack flew his small airplane into an Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas, killing two people and injuring 13 others.

According to media reports, Stack had left behind a disjointed suicide letter in which he expressed his hatred of our American government and outlined grievances with the IRS, chillingly stating that “violence not only is the answer; it is the only answer.”

Both the Pentagon Metro and IRS attacks come at a time of “explosive growth in [domestic] extremist-group activism across the United States,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A recently released law center report showed so-called patriot groups — steeped in anti-government conspiracy theories — grew from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009 — a 244 percent increase that the Southern Poverty Law Center report judged to be an “astonishing” rise in the one-year period since President Obama took the oath of office. The number of these groups that are domestic extremist paramilitary militias grew from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009, the report said.

Even so, for any reasonable observer who is still skeptical about labeling the recent Pentagon area shooting and IRS attack terrorism, keep one thing in mind:

Let us imagine that these Pentagon and IRS attacks had been committed by an olive-skinned Arab Muslim man named Ali Muhammad.

Our national media and political commentators would have wasted little time in calling both of these acts terrorism, and some might have also called for the closings of other IRS and federal government office buildings around the country as a necessary counter-terrorism safety precaution.

Instead, shortly after the IRS plane attack, some prominent media commentators immediately asked why people — especially conservatives on the right — were not calling the IRS attacker a terrorist.

“If this had been done by a brownish-looking Muslim guy whose suicide note paralleled Islamist political themes,” wrote media commentator Matthew Yglesias, then right-wingers would “demand that anyone who refused to label the attack ‘terrorism’ be put up on treason charges.”

In a recent piece, Robert Wright, of the New America Foundation, wrote: “In common usage, a ‘terrorist’ is someone who attacks in the name of a political cause and aims to spread terror — to foster fear that such attacks will be repeated until grievances are addressed.” Following suit, the IRS attacker’s suicide manifesto before his aerial kamikaze attack reads in part: “I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after … I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be whitewashed and ignored” — at which point, God willing, — “the American zombies wake up and revolt.”

If this same above-mentioned suicide letter had been instead written by an Arab Muslim man named Ali Muhammad right before crashing his airplane into an IRS building, most of the right-wing blogosphere would instantaneously erupt with screaming headlines of another act of Muslim terrorism.

Because Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; Atlanta, Georgia, Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph; the Pentagon shooter and IRS attacker were all white men motivated by their respective ideologies, surprisingly, the term “terrorism” has never seemed to stick to any of them. To prove my point even further, the recently indicted American woman Colleen LaRose, who called herself “Jihad Jane,” can rightfully be termed a wanna-be terrorist. But why does this not apply to other white extremists?

If our nation is truly conducting a ”war on terror” and not a “war on Islam,” it is our duty as Americans of all colors, political persuasions and nationalities to condemn and distance ourselves from all acts of terrorism, regardless of the race or religion of those who commit violent acts in the name of extreme ideology. Simply put, terrorism is terrorism, whether it is committed by a white, black or brown person anywhere in the world.

If we as a nation fail to adequately condemn all acts of terrorism equally, the only clear message that we will be sending to the rest of the world is that the word “terrorist” applies only to those with olive skin and foreign-sounding last names.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.

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