Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Update

As Salaamu Alaikum Everybody

Sorry for not posting for a while, the holidays have started and I'm busy enjoying it (in a halal way of course) with my family. So don't expect much posts from me during the next few weeks. Sorry about that.

The good news is that I've been accepted by Muslim to post articles there, so you will find different articles by me, here and there. It is an honour to be able to write articles for the same blogsite as Yasir Qadhi and Tawfique Chowdhury, people who I regard as my role models and inspirations.

I wrote a three hour RPL (recognition of prior learning) Exam yesterday to get my studies recognized as a BA in Islamic Studies, it was a very long paper, wrote about sixteen pages of answers in those three hours but if I do well, it will be worth it. Please make dua for me.

Finally, I would just like to request duas from all my readers for myself and my family, we have had a very difficult year so please make dua that Allah helps secure for me a good job in Islamic work soon so I can serve Islam with peace of mind about finances and worldly matters.

Will post something next week, insha Allah.

May Allah make us all rightly guided and guides for others.
Was Salaam
Abu Muawiyah

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Young Da'ee Dilemmas

So you decided you want to study Islam and become a scholar. 'Masha Allah' some people will say. 'Extremist!' others will say and thats just the beginning. It is not easy trying to spread Islam while you are young, in fact it is very difficult. This article is not meant to put young people off Islamic work but rather to get others to understand our feelings and change their attitudes and to prepare young people like myself for the tests that lie ahead. This article is written for me first before anyone else, because Allah knows how much I need this reminder.

When a person chooses to dedicate their life to Islamic work, they should expect problems...a lot of problems. This is the sunnah of Allah, the closer you are to Allah, the harder the test of life gets and the greater the reward is in the Afterlife. Yet, it is even harder for the youth as the reward is even greater. Ever wondered why a young person who worships Allah will be under the shade of Allah's Throne on the Last Day? It's because it is the hardest time to be good, and even harder time to be active in the Dawah.

Here is a list of the most common challenges I have faced so far so you can understand what I am talking about:

1. Who is right?

I can't count the amount of times I just broke down and almost went crazy trying to figure out who is right and who I should take knowledge from. There are so many Islamic groups, sects, mazhabs, etc that young students can lose their minds trying to figure out the truth.

The Solution: Turn to Allah, Allah promised that He will never let a sincere seeker of the truth go astray, so if you turn to Him and study hard, Allah will guide you to the truth, and even if you make mistakes along that path, Insha Allah, you will be forgiven and it will be overlooked as an Ijtihad (struggling to work out the truth) error.

2. Overzealousness:

I made many mistakes as a teenager when I first started studying Islam in that I forgot how to deal with people and became a bit of a Haram Police, which led to many family ties breaking and it just lead to more problems. It is easy to get caught up in Shaytaan's trap of Self-righteousness when studying Islam and this is very dangerous as it puts other people off Islam itself.

Solution: Relax, think before you speak or act, realize you are dealing with humans and that you too have sins and mistakes, so deal with people in a nice friendly manner, it will accomplish a lot more than barking and hulking up.

3. Dealing with overzealousness of others:

So you remain calm and deal with people nicely, unfortunately many others don't deal with you the same, they bark at you and call you a hypocrite if you make the slightest mistake, this can be very discouraging.

Solution: Remain cool and calm (very hard to do), listen to what they are saying, if they are right, apologize, thank them and change. If they are wrong, apologize, thank them and don't change. Just don't tell them they are wrong because people like this normally can't accept correction and it will lead to an unnecessary fight that will waste precious time, energy and cause ill-feelings.

4. The Elders can't be wrong

Some people will not tolerate any different opinion coming from a youngster. If a youngster says something and the elders say something else, the elders have to be right, they say. This can lead to one's Dawah becoming ineffective.

Solution: Normally in these situations, it is just the elders of that area that hold to a wrong opinion so as a youngster, if you know that they won't listen to you, get an elderly person who shares your view to preach it to them, this will make it easier to digest and at the very least, they can't throw the youngster card at him.

5. You are too young to preach

This happens too often. If a person does not agree with the view of a youngster, they throw the youth card at him. Once I told a man that it is unislamic to make tribalism the criterion for marriage, his reply, "you are still young, you'll understand that you are wrong when you get older,"

My worst experience with this is an old man who I use to work for in a Dawah organization. One day he started talking very arrogantly and rudely to me in front of a new convert. I told him politely to please stop as he is making Islam look bad. He then started shouting and told me the following in front of the entire staff and the converts, "YOU ARE JUST A CHILD! I WILL NEVER ACCEPT CORRECTION FROM YOU EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT! YOU ARE JUST A CHILD, YOU MUST FOLLOW ME AND DON'T YOU EVER CORRECT ME AGAIN,"

Solution: this is reality, it might happen to you. Just stay far far away from such people and stick to dealing with nice friendly people to avoid get emotionally scarred for life.

6. How dare you change your opinion!

It will happen! As you study Islam, you will realize that you had at least a few points of Aqeedah or fiqh wrong and it is now time to change. When that happens, expect backlash from the community if they are dogmatic about those practices. The worst that happened to me in this situation? It use to be getting beat up by some classmates for questioning the Shaykh-Mureed Sufi system, but last year I got accused of being Salafi and fired from my job and was unable to find a job for many months. That is by far the worst thing that happened to me in regards to this issue.

Solution: Read the second verse of Suran Ankabut and realize that it will happen, if you change a belief for the sake of Allah, it will happen. He will test you in a variety of ways to see how strong you are in your beliefs, the only solution is to suck it in, be patient and await the help of Allah. Allah has promised that He will test us and help us out of the test if we are patient.

7. Cultural Expectations:

Different cultures have different expectations for a student of knowledge. In my community, if you are a student of knowledge, you are expected to wear a Thowb or Kurta with a Islamic hat full-time, you can not wear jeans under your Kurta, just Kurta pants. You should not have fun, have a personality or a sense of humor, etc. Non of this has any basis in Islam and all it does is cause unnecessary difficulties for young students of knowledge, leading to one of three scenarios, either the youngster submits to cultural norms and ends up living a miserable life not being himself, or he chooses to live a double life and risk being called a hypocrite, or he decided to show people that these expectations have no basis in Islam and are wrong, which leads to the community turning against him.

Solution: I don't know, each option has it's good and bad, personally I'm somewhere between the first and third, I do some of these things like wearing a thowb and hat most of the time to avoid unnecessary fights, at the same time I try to educate people that these things are not important and irrelevant.

These are just some of the problems, young Muslims face when they choose the path of Islamic work. Is it worth going through all this? Yes, because the shade of Allah's Throne, Paradise and His eternal happiness with you are all worth it.

May Allah grant us all strength to handle the tests of life and make us all rightly guided and a means of guidance for others.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dear respected Mr and Mrs Soukhater

Dear respected Mr and Mrs Soukhater, the entire soukhater clan and all their associates

I hope this letter finds you in good health.

I am sure you already know that the Souk is around the corner once again. I am sure you also have already dug up the old Anti-Souk newsletter and posted it on your Masjid board, the exact same one you have been posting for the past five or ten years despite the fact that it is not working. It seems to me that you can not understand why the majority of Muslims in Durban still go to the Souk and see nothing wrong with it, perhaps I can clear up your confusion in this letter.

I would like to begin by answering some of the points you raise in your Souk newsletters. You claim that the Souk is a place of fitnah were people go to intermingle and commit Zina. I would like to inform you that the majority of people I know who go to the Souk are decent people who do not fornicate at the Souk but are there with their spouses and families.

I would also like to inform you that those people who do go to the Souk for the wrong reasons are the same people who will commit those same sins at any time of the year and they will still do the same sins in December even if we cancel the Souk. You see sir, the Souk is not the problem, the problem is much more complex than that, and boycotting the Souk will not help, because if the good Muslims boycott the Souk then such sins will occur openly, yet if we are all there, people would be less likely to commit such sins in that place.

I would also like to inform you that it is better to have people who commit such sins coming to the Souk instead of other places, because at the Souk, they might be affected positively by the Nasheeds, lectures, Qiraat or the variety of lecture DVDs and CDs on sale. Did you ever think about that? Oh yes, I forgot, you regard Nasheeds and lecture DVDs as Haraam too, my mistake, which brings me to point number two.

You claim that the Souk is Haraam because there is entertainment there, indicating that you believe all entertainment is Haraam which is really sad and shows your lack of knowledge of Quran and Sunnah and the principles of Fiqh, I can assure you that the majority of entertainment at the Souk is Halal if you study it properly, by that I mean the Islamic cartoons, children’s rides and activities, the Nasheeds, etc. I will admit that there is some haram that occurs but that is because instead of helping people by teaching them the Fiqh of entertainment, you choose to boycott them and then blame them if they can’t distinguish between halal and haram entertainment. Remind me to send you and the Souk committee copies of the upcoming book “Entertainment in Islam” to clear up this issue so you two can unite upon a balanced understanding of this topic.

Thirdly, you claim the Souk is Haram because women go there not dressed properly. Firstly, this is not true for all the women at the Souk. Secondly such women are welcomed everywhere except the Masjid which you have banned them from. If you had allowed them to attend the Masjid and study there from a young age, they would have understood the purpose of Hijiab and would not be dressed inappropriately, but since you failed in your duty to educate them, I would encourage them to go to the Souk and buy a copy of Sheik Feiz’s “etiquettes of Hijab” on DVD from the 1Islam Production stand and insha Allah, they will benefit from this lecture and change their dress code.

I know in the Darul Uloom they don’t teach you how to deal with people because I too studied there for seven years, so let me explain a few points to you. People are human, they make mistakes and will never be perfect, understand that, embrace it and learn how to help them instead of shunning them. Boycotting, shouting, snarling and making mean faces are not effective forms of dawah and just chase people further away from you and Islam.

If you want a woman to start wearing Hijab, it will not happen overnight, it is a slow process of being kind, understanding, educating and leading by example. If such women are ignored, they continue to sin, if such women are snarled at, they continue to sin. Communication is key (unless you a man, then let your wife communicate), try it and you will see how many more people you can guide and assist compared to when you use Hulk tactics.

Finally, if you attend the Souk you will find a lot of Islamic products on sale, from Islamic DVDs (they are Halal) to Hijabs, you will find huge congregations for the daily Salah, people who don’t normally pray their Salah start praying at the Souk because of the environment. This year there will even be an Islamic Exhibition which is definitely worth checking out and can only affect people positively.

To conclude, yes bad things happen at the Souk but nothing specific that makes it the Souk’s fault, rather those sins happen everywhere, step out of your cave and you will realize that. Rather good things happen at the Souk that do not normally happen at the Beaches or Shopping Malls and in that sense I find the Souk a great alternative for Muslims to go to and enjoy themselves in a Halal manner. (yes, you can experience Halal joy)

I am sorry for the long letter but it was way overdue, if you are looking for me to kill me, I’ll be at the Souk but you want to see for yourself how you can use the Souk for good instead of evil, well I’ll still be at the Souk anyway doing just that so come and join me. I hope this letter opened your eyes to how most Muslims look at the Souk and I hope you will be willing to give it a chance this year. Who knows, maybe your presence at the Souk could change people’s lives for the better.

Your brother in Islam
Mr Eyelike Da Souk

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ten Friday Torture Talks

Having just endured another excruciatingly boring and outdated Jumah lecture, I can't feel anything but pity for the majority of Muslims in SA whose only taste of Islamic knowledge is these khutbahs, no wonder they are so apprehensive when we have Islamic lectures on other days besides Jumah, they can't imagine good speakers and relevant lectures.

Sigh, if only they allowed me to speak on Jumah platforms still, people enjoyed it but the big shots did not, maybe its because I spoke about how badly children are treated in the masjid, or that time I spoke about the haram practices of businessmen, maybe it was my analysis of the Da Vinci Code from the mimbar, or maybe it was my last khutbah were I spoke about Halal Entertainment. Whatever it was, the people in charge won't let me and my big mouth on the mimbar around here anymore

So what do we get instead, the same old every week, here are ten often repeated Jumah khutbahs with my thoughts while the khutbah is on:

1. The Salah Khutbah

"We must pray our five daily Salah. Salah is compulsory. We must pray our five daily Salah. It is Haram to miss a Salah." (repeat for half an hour with one or two points lost in between)

The crowd knows this, they've heard this talk at least twenty times this year alone, if they still not praying Salah, repeating the talk won't help, why don't you add new material, explain to them some incentives to pray, adopt a different approach because in case you did not notice, this lecture is not working!

2. The How to make Wudhu Khutbah

Seriously, anybody sitting at Jumah who can't make Wudhu? If so, is it so many people that you have to give a Jumah Khutbah about it? 99% of the crowd was taught all this in preschool. If one or two people still don't know, talk to them personally don't bore the entire crowd to death with preschool level fiqh.

3. The standard important day Khutbah

Every first day of Ramadan, we hear the same EVERY Masjid. Every Eidul Adha we hear the exact same story of Ibrahim (AS) at every Eid Gah! Is there a standard khutbah book being passed around or something? It's like if its a special day, the entire crowd has already memorized the lecture before it begins. I'm serious, I use to teach in a school were the kids would tell me the Jumah lecture before it happens because the lecturer gives the exact same lecture every year on the same date! teach us something new please, there is so much Muslims don't know about their deen yet!

4. The Wrong Language Lecture

Nothing is worse than going to a Masjid only to discover the lecture is in Urdu in a Masjid were 99% of the crowd speak English! That's when I put my head down and sleep till the lecturer sneezes loudly and gives us all a heart attack (happened once)

5. The Everything-is-Haram Khutbah

This one I heard today again, sports is haram, celebrations are haram, television is haram even if it is an Islamic station, Muslims should never be happy until they enter Jannah (his exact words). This is the lecture that nobody takes seriously and at the same time it puts a lot of people off Islam, These Moulanas need to study Fiqh again, maybe when my book "Entertainment in Islam" is published, I'll send them some copies. Then again maybe not, since they'll just burn it without reading it.

6. The written-by-someone-else Khutbah

When I was studying, my classmates would borrow my lectures and read them out Jumah time then they would wonder why people enjoy it when I said it but didn't when they did. Two reasons: 1. you read, you suppose to speak. 2. It wasn't your writing so it wasn't from your heart. I hate it when the Khateeb pulls out a page and just reads without ever looking up, probably because he is afraid to see all the sleeping faces.

7. The Muslims-are-bad Khutbah

How often have you heard a Moulana give a lecture about the state of the ummah, complaining about everyone from other Moulanas to your granny. Nobody gets spared in this Khutbah of how bad the ummah is. His solution? Nothing, he never gives one, it's just a half hour rant about how bad we all are without any practical advice. Thank you for caring!

8. The Zikr Khutbah

Everybody should hear this one at least twice a year. It's the one in which Zikr is mentioned 897 times with out any definition or practical advice on how and when to make Zikr. It goes like this, "The Sahabah made Zikr, all of the prophets made Zikr, we must all make Zikr," We get it, we all know we must Zikr, you said that before, now pleasegive a khutbah about how to sort out the drug problem in our community.

9. The My-shaykh-said Khutbah

This is the Khutbah were every line starts with, my shaykh once told me.....Yet not a single verse from the Quran or Hadith is quoted. So how do we know his Shaykh is right? Read the next Khutbah

10. The Ulema-are-always-right Khutbah

Now a standard monthly khutbah. This one says that the local Moulanas can never be wrong and we must blindly follow them in everything they say, because they were taught by their Shaykhs who are great Buzrugs and can never be wrong. Well looking at the above list, I can see that.

Its suppose to be Top Ten, but i want to throw two more I hear too often:

11. The how-to-drink-Islamicly Khutbah

An entire Khutbah dedicated to the sunnahs of drinking and eating, while nobody speaks about the marriage problems, drug problems and social problems in our community. How relevant.

12. The women-are-deficient Khutbah

I memorized this one because I heard it so many times, it's the lecture about how all our problems and fitnahs are because of the deficient women not wanting to live in their kitchens 24/7. The same Khutbah which bashes women for studying, shopping, teaching and doing social work. No need to comment, this one speaks for itself.

Remembering Ahmed Deedat (RA)

When I was seven years old, I remember watching a movie in which the main characters were very religious Christians, I was amazed at their piety and firm belief in their religion and it got me thinking, so I asked my mother, "How do we know that we are right and other religions are wrong? Because every religion believes they are going to Paradise and the others are going to Hell" My mum is a practicing Muslimah but not well-verses in comparative religion, she simply told me not to think like that or ask such questions.

These questions however continued to linger in my mind even after I started studying Islam at the local Darul Uloom. It would only be at the age of eighteen when I encountered the lecture videos of Ahmed Deedat (RA) that I would finally get my answers to these questions and my mind would be put to rest.

This is the first impact that Ahmed Deedat (RA) had in my life, but it was not the last. Deedat always emphasized that we should read the Quran with understanding, so after listening to his lectures, I started to do so and soon discovered things about Islam different from what I was raised with or taught in the Darul Uloom, this led me down the path of seeking the true understanding of Islam, again it started with Ahmed Deedat (RA).

My encounters with Deedat's videos were also my first encounter with actual Dawah to Non-Muslims. Before that, I was taught that Dawah is Tabligh Jamaat work to Muslim homes and not once in my seven years in the Darul uloom did we study Dawah methods, its importance or comparative religion. In fact, they were against Ahmed Deedat and Dawah in general, so through Deedat began my first clash with my teachers in our understanding of Islam which led to me eventually leaving that school of thought and seeking a purer version of Islam.

At the same time, these videos made me realize the importance of Dawah and the joy of being the means through which a person converted to Islam, which led to me studying comparative religion and dawah methodology through the IPCI, Dr Bilal Philips, Shaykh Kamal Mekki and privately, and also led to me making Dawah a priority in my life.

In short, Ahmed Deedat (RA) perhaps has had a bigger impact on my life than any other person I have ever met except my beloved teacher, Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips. This is why it saddens me when I hear people talking bad about Ahmed Deedat (RA) and focusing on his mistakes.

No doubt about it, Deedat made mistakes, he was after all human, wasn't he? Yes, Yusuf Ali's translation has a lot of mistakes and deviations, but back in his day, Dr Muhsin Khan's translation nor Farooq-Azam's were not available so he made do with what he had. Yes, he was too aggressive at times, but he lived in different times and had to deal with arrogant white supremacists during apartheid times. Yes, He made a big mistake by supporting the Shia Iranian Revolution and Dr Rashad Khalifah's theory about the number 19, but he publicly repented from both those things.

Thats the point of Ahmed Deedat, he was not perfect, he was not the best, rather he was human and thats why people like me can relate to him. If I make a mistake in my Dawah, I learn from it and try again knowing well that greater people made mistakes in their Dawah too. Furthermore, when you look at the fact that Deedat had no formal education, he did not study at a university or a Darul Uloom, in fact he did not even finish school and did not know a word of English when he came to South Africa at the age of nine. Taking all that into consideration, what Deedat accomplished in his life and the amount of work Allah took from him seems even more amazing!

Finally there was his nine year illness in which he could not move and remained bed-ridden for nine whole years.My blood boils when I hear Muslims saying that Allah punished him for picking on other religions. My response to such people is what have you ever done for the Dawah? Besides, don't they know that Allah only tests those whom He loves and the closer you are to Allah, the harder the test of life will be, as stated in authentic Ahadith?

The final years of Deedat's life were amazing, he showed a level of patience, commitment and faith that most of us can't. Would you be able to keep your faith and persist in your dawah if you couldn't move a limb for nine years? Don't think I can, but he did. This alone deserves respect. I remember once learning that before a righteous slave leaves this world, Allah puts them through great tests to erase their sins so that when they die, they return to their Lord already purified with only their good deeds in their accounts. I pray that this was the case with Ahmed Deedat.

I remember that I discovered Deedat around 2004, during which time he was already bed-ridden. I would visit his bedside often and every time tears would form in my eyes when I would see the same charismatic man from the videos in this sad state and I would pray that Allah would end his suffering soon. When he passed away I was actually happy for him that the test was finally over and made dua to Allah forgive his mistakes and grant him a high stage in Paradise. This chapter of Deedat's life taught me to be ready to face great trials if I wish to follow in his footsteps, indeed it is the way of Allah that the prophets, du'aat and scholars have the hardest lives as their reward in the Afterlife is the greatest.

I would also like to mention that Deedat's son Yusuf took amazing care of him during these nine years which really impressed me, may Allah reward him greatly for it. Ahmed Deedat's wife Hawa (RA) also deserves mention, she is one of the sweetest old ladies I ever met and her care and love for her husband was clear for all to see. May Allah unite their souls in paradise.

I pray that Allah unites Ahmed and Hawa Deedat in a high stage in Paradise and forgives them for their shortcomings. I'd like to end by leaving you with this beautiful video tribute to this great man from the DVD "The Life and Times of Ahmed Deedat":

Monday, November 30, 2009

Top Ten Muslim Phobias

Phobia is defined as the irrational fear of something and can be very intense. Many Muslims always complain about the Islamophobia of some Non-Muslims and rightly so, but we have some Phobias of our own that we need to sort out first. So it's introspection time again:

1. Jewaphobia:

These are the Muslims who think all Jews are in on some kind of global conspiracy against Islam, it is the Muslim equal to Islamophobia. Don't believe me, look at the following example:

The Islamophobes are determined that Obama is a secret Muslim, while the Jewaphobes are determined that he is a secret Jew, all the while the poor guy keeps explaining that he is Christian.

Jewaphobes make the Jews seem almost God-like in their power, they seem to think the Jews can watch our every move like the Truman Show, that they control every thing in the media, the governments and they even blame the Jewish scientists for the earthquakes and Tsunamis.

Islam teaches us to stay away from conspiracy theories and work only with facts, further it teaches us that every individual is different and you can't treat all Jews as bad because of a few, we don't like it when they do that to us after all. Remember Muslims and Jews lived side by side in peace for centuries, one last point: The Jews are not an all-powerful boogeyman with control over everything, most of them are normal people like you and me who can't even control their own bank accounts leave alone yours.

2. Kaafiraphobia:

This is even more intense than Jewaphobia, some Muslims think that everything Non-Muslims do must be evil, forgetting that most Non-Muslims are just simple people who don't know any better. They think any movie, book, shop or statement by a Non-Muslim is definitely evil, this is ridiculous. There are many Non-Muslims through out history who are decent people and they all can't be put into one camp with the others. Did the prophet (peace be upon him) treat his uncle Abu Talib the same as his uncle Abu Lahab? No, because one was a good Non-Muslim and one was bad, Important point to reflect upon.

3. Technolophobia:

Also known as Mediaphobia. Some Muslims confuse technological advancement with Bidah (religious innovation) and religiously shun technology. They have a strange fear that technology can only harm and not benefit, anything goes wrong and they blame technology. TV is evil even if you watching an Islamic lecture, it will corrupt you, they say. Such people need to wake up and face reality, this is the technological age, you can either embrace it or get lost in transmission, and technological advancement is not bidah, bidah refers to changing, adding or subtracting from the religion. As far as worldly things go, Islam teaches that everything is Halal until proven Haram.

4. Womenaphobia:

Some Muslim men are literally scared of women! They think that even if a woman makes Salaams or comes out dressed in full veil, she is still tempting them to sin. Their response? They oppress women in the name of Islam to keep them subdued. Such men need to study Islam properly and realize what they are doing is a sin. They also need help, because its not the women's fault they go bananas at the sight of a woman in niqab or on hearing a woman make Salaams, its their own fault. They need to learn self-control and realize that replying to a woman's Salaam does not count as Zina.

5. Canine-phobia:

Islam teaches us that we should not keep dogs in our houses or as pets, it does however allow guide dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs. etc yet some people forget this second part and treat dogs like they are the worst thing on earth. I feel sorry for the way some Muslims treat dogs, the poor dog never do anything wrong. These people also forget that Allah praised a dog in the Quran for protecting the people of the cave and Allah forgave a Jewish prostitute because she was kind to a dog. Points to ponder, folks.

6. Jinn-phobia:

Parents are to blame for this one. Some parents raise their kids with the Muslim alternative to ghost stories...Jinn stories. This leads to the child growing up to be paranoid and to see Jinn everywhere, especially in the Darul Ulooms, unless the child is crazy like me as I spent a lot of my childhood searching for ghosts, jinn and aliens to little success. It should be noted that Jinn can trouble people but that is very rare and if you practice Islam and read for protection Duas like Ayatul Kursi and the Three Quls, they can't harm you, so relax a bit.

7. Azaab-a-phobia:

This one I do not understand. Some Muslims are so scared of Azaab (Divine Punishment) that whenever it rains, thunders, etc they start panicking and thinking the world is about to end. These guys have clearly seen too many Roland Emmerich movies. Yet the same Muslims don't change their lives and forget about the end of the world when the sky clears up. People, we need to be Muslims full-time, not just when the sky is falling on our heads!

8. Signofqiyamaphobia:

These Muslims are scared that Qiyamah is close and see everything as a sign of Qiyamah. If an earthquake happens, "Qiyamah is close", If a crime happens "Qiyamah is close", if Jacob Zuma becomes president "Qiyamah is close", If Obama sneezes "Qiyamah is close"

Relax people, only Allah knows when Qiyamah is. It could be tomorrow or in five hundred years time, it does not matter. Once a man asked the prophet (peace be upon him) when will Qiyamah be, he replied "What have you prepared for it?" Another interesting point to ponder.

9. Othergroupphobia:

Some Muslims live in boxes, they only hang out with, talk to, live with and study under people born into the same group, sect or mazhab as them, as a result they grow narrow-minded and think their understanding is the only way that Islam should be practiced and they grow wary and fearful of other Muslims. This Phobia is holding the Ummah back from uniting for common goals or learning from each other. As Muslims we should realize we do not know everything and our teachers are fallible and can make mistakes, thus we must be willing to give others an ear and hear out their opinions. If it is wrong, then correct it...politely please and if it is right then accept it and change.

10. Mullahphobia:

Another one to blame the parents for. Some parents threaten their kids with police, others with physical punishment, yet others threaten them with the Uloom, The Moulana, The Shaykh or most popular in SA.....Mia's farm. As a result, such kids grow up terrified of Scholars and Islamic places, and the way certain Moulanas and religious people treat them in the Masjid doesn't help things..but thats a different article:

Point to note: If you are raising your kids to be terrified of anything Islamic, how the hell are they ever suppose to become practicing Muslims! Now having studied in a Darul Uloom, I can understand and vouch for the fact that the place and its Moulanas can be scary but that is no excuse to put kids off religion. Find some nice cool scholars and students of knowledge and get your kids to hang out with them instead, rather than only focus on the negative and end up raising children who are scared of anything or anyone Islamic.

Thats the top ten phobias I can think of, let me know if you can think of any others. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top Ten Extreme Characters I have met

The following are a list of extremist characters I have met during my search for the true understanding of Islam, some of them you might know, some you might not. I have written it in dialog form, but note that not every one of these dialogs actually happened, most of them I just thought up the reply but was too polite to say it.

If you fall into any of these categories, do not take offense, rather take it as an opportunity for introspection:

1. The Extreme Hater

EH: As Muslims we should hate all Kuffar, Deviants and Sinners
Me: Thats all of humanity
EH: Anybody who loves a Kaafir becomes a Kaafir
Me: The Quran says that the prophet (peace be upon him)loved Abu Talib who died a Kaafir, does that mean you beleive.....

2. The Extreme Chauvinist

EC: Women are not allowed to drive
Me: The female companions drove camels
EC: Well women are not allowed to study anything except Islam
Me: Then how did Ayesha (RA) master medicine?
EC: Well a woman is not allowed to go to the Masjid
Me: That's not what the prophet said

3. The Extreme Urdu Waalaa

EUW: Nasheeds are only Halal in Urdu or Arabic
Me: How is Urdu different from English?
EUW: Urdu is the language of our forefathers
Me: So? Dawud Wharnsby and Yusuf Islam's forefathers spoke English
EUW: English is the language of the Kuffar
Me: Wonder what language the Hindus in India speak

4. The Extreme Blind Follower:

EBF: If my Shaykh tells me this green plate is blue, I will believe that it is blue! (Someone actually said that to me)
Me: Well then I can't help you, you need a psychiatrist (never really say that, just thought it)

5. The Extreme Free Thinker:

EFT: There is no such thing as Hijab, its a pagan custom
Me: I'll tell that to all the companions and scholars since they are unanimous that Hijab is part of Islam, but I'm sure you know better than every single companion and the pious scholars of the past and the ummah has being wrong for 1400 years.

6. The Extreme Hanafi: (Real Conversation)

EH: Astagfirullah! How can you raise your hands before and after Rukhu! Thats Wrong!
Me: Didn't the prophet (peace be upon him) do it?
EH: Yes....
Me: So will I go to Hell for trying to follow this Sunnah?
EH: No, but it's against our Madhab
Me: YOUR madhab, not our ;)

7. The Extreme Salafi:

Me: So-and-so passed this fatwa
ES: He is not a Salafi because he said Sufis are Muslims
Me: But so-and-so also said the same
ES: He is not a Salafi because he believes drums are Halal
Me: So-and-so also said the same
ES: You are not quoting any Salafis
Me: Who is a Salafi then?
ES: (Starts listing his teachers, apparently you have to be his teacher or one of his teacher's students and agree with their every opinion to fit their definition of a Salafi)

8. The Extreme Haraam Police:

EHP: Video Games, Nasheeds, Videos, etc are all Haraam!
Me: What is Halal then?
EHP: Zikr, Salah, fasting
Me: I mean in terms of having fun
EHP: Astagfirullah! There is no place for entertainment in Islam! We were created to worship only!
Me: I know that, but Allah revealed a balanced religion and remind me to give you a copy of my upcoming book "Entertainment in Islam" when it is published. ;)

9. The Extreme Jihadi:

EJ: We must take over world, we can not live under Kaafir rule, it is Haraam to live here, all Muslims must migrate and make Jihad
Me: Then why are you still here?
EJ: Because I got a job interview with the Tax Department tomorrow and I need the money to support my family

10. The Extremely confused individual:

ECI: You can't watch Islam Channel! TV is haraam!
Me: Then why are you watching WWE?
ECI: You can't listen to Zain Bhikha, its haraam!
Me: Then why are you listening to Britney Spears?
ECI: You can't trim your beard and neaten it, it's haraam!
Me: Then why are you clean-shaven?

One more true conversation to end it off:

Extremist eating at restaurant: It's Haraam to eat here because this restaurant banks with First National Bank!
My Nany: Who do you bank with?
Extremist grumbles: First national Bank
My Nany nods her head and smiles victoriously

I love my Nany! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


When I’m bored I sit and write
Something serious or something light
I write about things that matter to me
Which I’m sure you all can see
Sometimes I write an article or two
If I’m in the mood, I’ll write poetry too.

Writing is fun, it relieves your stress
And saves your mind from becoming a mess
The things I write might be different everyday
But I really like it that way
Because with out variety, life gets boring
And when that happens, I start snoring

So next time, you feel full of emotion
Type or write and get those thoughts in motion
The moral that I am trying to convey
Is that writing is a very beneficial way
To brighten each and every day

So write, my friends, write from the heart
Now is a good time to start
Just be careful that it’s Halal you write
And it’s not something that will start a fight
Because the angels record our every deed
Every word we write and every word we read

Happy Writing!

Eidul Adha - The Poem!

Eidul Adha is special because of the meat
The Qurbani mutton that I love to eat
Some people think it’s very wrong
But I’ll sort them out with this song

Everyday sheep are slaughtered everywhere
But when a Muslim does it, people stare
Yet the same dude eats mutton all the time
So he really has no reason to whine

Sheep are soft and gentle, it’s true I know
But you are what you eat, isn’t that so?
So I’ll eat the sheep and he can eat swine
Then he’ll be a pig and I’ll be fine

If you still think slaughtering animals is very bad
Well then that is just very sad
You probably never tasted mutton or chops
Just cucumbers, herbs and other crops
So you lose out on one of God’s gifts to us
And I’ll enjoy my mutton curry while you fuss

Eid is nice, Eid is fun
But when it’s all said and done
We’ll have lots of Qurbani meat
And that I think is a real treat!

Eid Mubarak! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Need For Eid

Eid was an awesome fun time during the early generations of Islam. Muslims would gather on the fields together and pray the Eid prayer, everybody would go including the women and children, then they would celebrate with Halal fun such as is reported in the following narration:

Ayesha narrates that, “Allah's Prophet (peace be upon him) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (peace be upon him) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, "Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (peace be upon him)?" Allah's messenger (peace be upon him) turned his face towards him and said, "Leave them." When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signalled to those girls to go out and they left. It was the day of Eid, and the Abyssinians were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (peace be upon him) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on! Oh Bani Arfida," till I got tired. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked me, "Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?" I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave. (Saheeh Bukhari 2:15:70)

The reason I am bringing up this point instead of the normal obligations and rituals that must be done on Eid day is because I feel Eid has become too ritualized. These days Eid is only about the Eid Prayer and nothing more, maybe some new clothes and one big meal but after that it is just like any other day for many people, but this is not the way it should be.

The disbelievers have many holidays and their holidays are fun and attractive, but we know it is prohibited to celebrate their religious holidays since it is a way of condoning their Shirk. The problem is that since we have made Eid boring, the kids naturally feel that the other religions have cooler holidays and are thus tempted to join their celebrations, this is why we need Eid!

Not just Eid prayer but a full package, Eid should not just be about the Salah in the morning but a day to remember for the young Muslims. If we make Eid special again then this would give young Muslims an alternative to unislamlic celebrations and will make them feel proud to be Muslims. So here are some tips to make Eid more special:

1) Try to unite the entire family:

This past Eidul Fitr was the best Eid I ever had, one main reason was that everybody from my mum's side of the family were united in one house for the full day, that alone made it special and memorable. One way that we can make Eid special is by getting as many relatives as possible together in one house.

2) Take off from work for the day:

This is a very important point, one of those things that really irritates me is when I see a Muslim close his shop for Christmas but keep it open Eid day, it shows which celebration is more important to him. If the father is working then it is not a holiday and no different than any other day. If you want to make Eid special for your kids, take the day off and spend it the entire day with them, it will only increase their love for you.

Worse than working on Eid day are those Muslims who take the day off yet force their Muslim employees to work on Eid day against their will and threaten to cut their salaries if they take the day off. This is hypocritical and oppression of your Muslim brothers and sisters on Eid day.

3)Hype your kids up

Many parents are so unenthusiastic about Eid that you can't blame their kids for not caring about it. Other parents are only concerned about the rituals, and seem to limit Eid to just that. Don't get me wrong, the rituals, be it the Eid prayer, the animal sacrifice on Eidul-Adha or the payment of Fitr on Eidul-Fitr, are all important but they are not the only part of Eid.

If the parents show excitement about Eid and prepare happily and talk to their children about what a special day it will be, this alone will make it more special for the kids.

4) Do something different and fun:

Take your kids somewhere special, have a party with Halal forms of entertainment, invite their friends for an afternoon Eid party, do any such creative thing to make Eid special for the family as long as it is Halal. Remember having fun and celebrating are not Haram, its the manner that you do it that matters.

5) Smile, Be Happy and avoid arguements:

Nothing ruins Eid more than a snarling man scolding the children for making noise, or two relatives fighting over Fiqh issues. Avoid any situation or people that make you angry and stay smiling. Remember smiling is a sunnah and very rewarding, it also brightens up the atmosphere.

These are just a few tips on improving the overall atmosphere of Eid so that it becomes a special memorable day for everyone. Remember if we make Eid special, it will increase the younger generations love of Islam, pride in their religion, self-esteem and give them a halal alternative to prohibited forms of celebration.

Please feel free to add any other tips you can think off for improving Eid.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Praying in the first Saff in Makkah

In July 2006, I had the most wonderful experience of all my Umrah trips, I got to pray my Fajr Salah multiple times in the front Saff. By the front Saff I mean I was standing between the Rukn Yamini and Hajr Aswad with nobody between me and the Kaabah. I wish to share with you how I managed to do that so that you too can try and experience this. Note that this is only for men to try, since the guards do not let women pray in the first few rows.

One day I was praying Fajr in the front row of the second floor of the Haram (where people make Tawaf) and as I was looking at the beautiful view of the Kabah and its courtyard full of Muslims, I noticed that the rows start directly in front of the Kabah, I thought to myself if those people can pray there then so can I and I devised a plan to find a way to pray in the front row.

The next day I went to the Haram a few hours before Fajr to observe how the rows are formed. I noticed that about an hour before Fajr time, some Turkish men would walk with the Tawaf while not making Tawaf, each time getting closer to the Kabah, I began to follow them and then as they passed the Rukn Yamini, they stopped and stood facing the Kabah, I went and stood in between them, slowly more and more people joined our row as it got closer to Salah time, and every time a guard would pass by, he would ask "Fajr?" and we would reply "Na'am" (Yes in Arabic). Closer to Salah time, the guards would start pushing the women and Tawaf crowds away and formulating the Saffs, they would then protect us from people trying to push us out of our Saffs and taking our places.

Some of the bigger Turkish and Arab women would put on a fight but the guards would win. So when the time of Salah came, the guard would watch over us and we would watch each other as we took turns to pray our two Sunnah, then when the Jamaah started, we would stand up and pray the most memorable Salah I ever prayed. The first time I did this, as the Jamah started, a huge man who was walking past, shoved me and the turkish man next to me out of the Saff and took our place, without thinking we looked at each other , grabbed him and threw him back out, took our place again and prayed my first ever Salah in the front Saff of the Haram.

So here is the method in brief:

1) It worked for me because it was not Ramadan or Hajj, it will be harder at those times
2)Leave an hour and a half before Fajr Adhaan and start walking towards the Kabah, join the crowd and walk with them in Tawaf movement, as pushing your way through them is not a good thing to do.
3) As you get near the walls of the Kabah, stand on the tile line, that is just one Saff away from the Kabah, in front of you should be the royal rumble to kiss the black stone.
4) Since you are in a dangerous spot and will be standing for an hour, expect to be pushed, shoved, have your toes tramped, stepped on or ready to retreat should the rumble for the black stone turn No-Holds-Barred!
5) Do not think about sitting till a guard comes and asks you "Salah?" then reply in the positive, he will tell you to sit and will protect you while clearing up the Tawaf crowd.
6) Make friends with the people next to you so that you can protect each other from last minute chancers and bullies, I mostly sat next to Turkish old men who would protect me like their own son, may Allah bless them.
7) Keep your intentions pure and do it for the sake of Allah keeping in mind the reward of praying in the Haram combined with the reward of praying in the front Saff!
8) Do not even think about rushing to kiss the stone after Salah as that is what most of the people there are thinking, as you as the Imam makes Salaam to end the salah, you will notice the stone under attack from people willing to die or kill to kiss it!

That's about all I can think off on this topic, I hope it helps someone pray in the front row, because then I get to share in your reward for doing that. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Welcome to South Africa

I am walking down Queen Street (can never remember the new street names) in Durban one day towards the IPCI. I need some new Dawah material and anyway I enjoy going to the IPCI sometimes just to browse through the books or just to chat to my friends Areeb Islam and Abdul Qadir about Dawah. Then out of no old man comes up to me and greets me. (No, this is not a crime story)

Old Man: As Salaamu Alaikum
Me: Wa Alaikum Salaam
Old Man: Are you Sunni or Tablighi? (To people outside SA, in our country Sunni means Barelwi and Tablighi means Deobandi)
At first I was a bit taken by the abrupt question..and the lack of options. I paused for a while and thought about the answer. Now personally during my search for the truth I have been through a lot of groups and after being labelled a Sunni Tablighi Deobandi Sufi Wahabi Salafi Khariji Jihadi Maududi Ikhwani and Modernist, I had given up on labels.

Me: I'm a Muslim
Old Man: You must be Sunni or Tablighi
At this point I considered telling him I'm Shia, just to see his reaction but in Islam we are not allowed to lie, even if joking so I didn't

Me: Nope, I'm just a Muslim
Old Man: Ok, why do you people say Nabi (SAW) had a shadow, he was Nur not Bashr!(translation: He was a light, not a human)
I stopped to think, who is you people? Muslims? so I asked:
Me: Who is you people?
Old Man: Tablighis
Me: But I said I am not a Tablighi, anyway how do you know he had no shadow?
Old Man: It comes in the Kitab!
The Kitab! Wow! If he was Tablighi, I knew he would be talking about Fazaail-E-Amaal but since I'm guessing he was Sunni, I had no idea what the kitab was! I wanted to give him a long lecture about authenticity and verifying sources and that not all kitabs are authentic but decided against it and said:
Me: Can I see the Kitab and check the authenticity of the Hadith?
Old Man: Sure, I'll get you a copy.

The old man then walks away without even taking down my name, phone number or address (Thank Allah!), leaving me wondering was it necessary to ask me all that, and how the hell is he going to get me a copy if he does not know who I am or how to contact me.

With those thoughts in my head I continued walking towards the IPCI, now a bit reluctant to do dawah, imagining someone taking their Shahadah, then the old man walks up to them:

Old Man: Masha Allah, I see you a Hanafi now, but are you Sunni or Tablighi?
New convert to himself: Hanafi? Sunni? Tablighi? What have I gotten myself into?

Welcome to South Africa!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is The Media to Blame?

We Muslims love to blame others for our own shortcomings. Anything goes wrong, its the media's fault, the Jews' fault, the other groups' fault, yet do we ever stop to think that it might just be our fault. I just want to look at one specific issue today, the portrayal of Muslims in Western Media.

Firstly, there are negative portrayals of Muslims in SOME Western Media, not all. Yes, we can Muslims portrayed as terrorists, oppressors, etc by some Media, but we need to be fair, not every portrayal of Muslims is bad and its not always their fault. Let's examine the portrayal of Muslims in Movie for example:

The most famous blockbuster movie in recent times to be blamed for portraying Muslims in a bad light is "Iron Man" in which the superhero fights Afgani Warlords. Now we must be fair, firstly, none of these Afganis ever mention anything about Allah, Islam or say anything Islamic at all, we just assume they must be Muslims. Secondly, Muslim Afgani Warlords are a reality, they are real Muslims in Afganistan and they are bad people and since we Muslims have not done anything about it, it was only a matter of time before the West created and sent in a superhero to sort them out. Besides, didn't Iron Man save an Innocent Muslim Father from them? Therefore, I do not think Iron Man was demonizing Islam, but rather Muslims are at fault for misrepresenting Islam in Afganistan.

This is a key issue, many times the Western Media, either purposely as in the case of Islamaphobes, or mistakenly when they are ignorant, see Muslims teaching and doing wrong things and as a result, that gets headlines in the media. Its wrong but it is not their fault entirely, we also are to blame. We misrepresent Islam yet we want Non-Muslims to represent us properly, does that even make sense?

One the other hand, when Muslims are good role models and beacons of Islam then the Western Media will also represent them as such, as in the case of Saladin in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" or Maalik Al-Shabaaz in the movies "Malcolm X" and "Ali". Thus showing that the portrayal of Muslims is not always biased in Western media, if a Muslim is a true practicing Muslim and a positive role model then he too will be portrayed as such in the media.

Unfortunately, there are also those who are Islamaphobic and portray Islam purposely negatively as in the case of the perverted Adam Sandler movie "Don't mess with the Zohan" which portrayed Islam as bad, Palestinians as terrorists, Isrealis as heroes and portrayed women in general in a disgustingly negative manner.

So what is the solution:

1. Change ourselves:

If we are positive role models of Islam and change our communities to do so as well then we give the media less reasons and excuses to portray us negatively. If Muslims stop oppressing women, committing and condoning act of terrorism and other such unislamic evils then the media will have no excuse if they portray us negatively. If we do nothing about Afgani terrorism then Iron Man will!

2. Produce our own media:

Realistically though, even if we do the above, there will still be those Non-Muslim Islamaphobes who will persist in negatively portraying Islam. To combat this, we need to produce our own media and movies. Muslims are too backwards in general when it comes to media, we need to wake up and start doing productive things to make a change, and producing Islamic movies is one way in which we can not only provide an alternative for Muslim youth, but we can convey the true message of Islam to Non-Muslims in an exciting manner.

So thats what is needed to be done, it is not easy but it will make a difference. I myself would love to direct my own movies one day, I have so many ideas and scripts which I have prepared, hoping that one day when I have the right finances and crew, I can make my movies a reality. We need to be realistic, Islamic Media is no longer a novelty, it is now a necessity!

Let the ink flow!

So I'm sitting at home frustrated at the fact that I can't do much Islamic work. Due to financial and sectarian issues, I find myself with an admin job, and no platforms to preach or teach Islam. Maybe it's because I'm so young that people won't give me a chance, maybe They scared I might teach something they disagree with, whatever it is, people rarely give me an opportunity and I am thankful to those who do but what can I do to serve Islam in this situation? Then it clicks! The internet! Nobody can stop you from writing your thoughts online, as long as they are no illegal, so why not use the net as a means of expressing myself?

For so long, I have been preparing notes, courses, lectures, poems but they are stuck in my mind and laptop, but not anymore! From now the ink will flow and all this info busting in my head will spill onto this blog, so please excuse the information overload, its what happens when you have so much to say, and finally get a platform to say it on!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tomorrow may never come

The burden on your back gets heavier with each day
You carry it everywhere; it has no place to stay
For years it held you down, keeping you depressed and sad
Longing for the old days when you had a dad

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, live today!

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, just live today!

You always thinking back, if only I had done this or that
Thinking of how you could bring back your son or dad
Don’t you realize our time here is short and soon we will go?
Then you will meet them again, so do not feel so low

Years may pass but we have work to do
So many people need your help, so many do
So keep your head up and never look back again
It will help you to suppress all the pain

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, live today!

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, just live today!

Our life is just a test, a temporary rest
We need to work hard so that we can be the best of the best
At times it may get hard, and you feel anxious about what will happen tomorrow
Just remember…..just remember when you feel such sorrow….that

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, live today!

Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Yesterday is gone, Tomorrow may never come
Live for Allah today, just live today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Top Ten Things to love about Paradise

The prophet (peace be upon him) narrated that Allah Subhana Wa Ta'ala said, "I have prepared for my servants in Paradise that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind can even imagine,"

If the above Hadith does not motivate you to strive for Paradise, what will? Maybe this Top Ten list will!

Think about it? Imagine the most fun thing in the world, well there are more fun things in Paradise that you can't even imagine!

Think about the most beautiful thing in the world, well there is beauty in Paradise that no eye has seen and no mind can fathom!

Think about the most beautiful sounds in the world, well there is beautiful music in paradise the likes of which no ears have ever heard and your mind can't imagine!

Don't you want this? We die for the latest playstations, DVDs, cars and gadgets, yet none of these can compare to what we will get in paradise if we live our lives according to Allah's will. Shouldn't we be craving for Paradise?

Maybe we don't know enough about Paradise, thats why we are unmotivated. Maybe we are too distracted and do not stop to think about it, whatever the case may be, if you are not working for Paradise you will lose out big time!

Here are my Top Ten things I love about Paradise:

10. No work:

Imagine living forever in luxury without ever having to work again, no worries about your income, your boss or social pressure. We all want this lifestyle, were we sit around doing nothing all day, we all love to retire, what better place to retire in than the eternal bliss of Paradise!

9. No sickness:

Everybody hates getting sick, well if you make it to Paradise, you will never ever get sick again! So what are you waiting for, invest in this incredible medical aid plane that guarantees you eternal good health.

8. No aging:

Nobody likes getting old and wrinkled, once an old lady asked the prophet (peace be upon him) if she will enter Paradise, he replied that there are no old people in Paradise, she began to cry and he explained that is because in Paradise you will be young again forever! Who does not want to drink from a fountain of eternal youth, well Paradise is that fountain!

7. No fighting or ill-feelings:

Nothing spoils our days and lives more than fighting with others and harboring ill-feelings, well before entering Paradise, while on the bridge, all differences will be resolved and the people of Paradise will never feel anything towards each other again!

6. No Bad Guys:

thats right, all thugs, robbers, oppressors, etc are banned from Paradise until they are purified from their sins by burning in the Hellfire and eternally regretful, as for those who are pure evil, hellfire is their abode forever and they will never disturb the peace of Paradise! You want the best security system and to live in the safest country for your family, Paradise guarantees you all of that for eternity!

5. No rules or duties:

In Paradise, you don't have to do anything, as long as you live by the rules on earth, you are free in Paradise to do as you please. This means there is no salah, hijab, prohibitions or traffic fines in Paradise! So fire up your batmobiles becuase nobody will pull you over for bad driving and since you can't get hurt, you can race your batmobiles all over the place as fast as you want without worrying about knocking any old ladies!

4. A Kingdom beyond your wildest dreams!

It is narrated that the smallest property in Paradise which will belong to the worst sinner who will be the last man to crawl out of Hell and be entered into Paradise, will be ten times the size of this earth! Thats right, the smallest property in Paradise is ten times the size of this earth, that means if we work hard enough, we could gain properties as give as this galaxy! Mind you, that that is your own personal property in which you can do as you please. Tell me that you don't want that?

Did I mention that this huge property is full of rivers of pure milk, wine and honey, indescribably beautiful Palaces and whatever your heart desires! You know what to do, go repent and start working for it!

3. Whatever your heart desires and entertainment and beauty that nobody can even imagine!

Thats right, desire grilled prawns and chips, you will get it immediately, desire a fountain of chocolate, you will get it immediately! Desire a batmobile... :-) you get the picture, tell me you still not interested in Paradise?

You read the Hadith at the beginning, what more do you want! Even if you get everything you desire in Paradise, this is even cooler, because there are stuff there so awesome, fun and beautiful that it could not be described to us because our minds can't imagine it! In one narration of the Meraj, the prophet (peace be upon him) described the Lote-tree as having colors indescribable! That means even the colors there will be new and more beautiful than what we get on earth! Which crazy person, is not excited about getting all this!

2. Eternal life!

Forget about your philosopher's stones and fountains of eternal life, if you make it to Paradise you will have all of the above...forever! Never getting tired, never getting bored and according to some narrations, the pleasures just keep increasing and getting better! To me this, is the one thing I love most about paradise, living forever in luxury and enjoyment.

1. Seeing Allah and talking to Him:

It is reported that Allah will ask the people of Paradise, if they desire anything and they will reply what more can we want we got Paradise! Allah will then lift his veil and the people of Paradise will see Allah's face and it will be the most beautiful thing they ever saw and the happiest moment they ever experienced!

Thats right in Paradise, you will get not only get to meet and hang out with the prophets, companions, deceased relatives and righteous people of the past, but you will get meet Allah! Is that not reason enough to work for Paradise, and the higher your ranking, the more often you will meet Allah!

So you have to wear hijab for a few years on earth, grow a beard, pray five times a day, be good, etc, etc. So what, is not all of the above worth it! So next time, you feel it difficult to practice Islam, think about all of the above and realize Paradise and Allah's company is worth it!

Hope this motivated you as it motivated me! Please leave your comments and tell me what you love best about Paradise! May Allah guide us all and unite us with Him in Paradise!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poem about the mother of the believers Ayesha

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Our Mother Ayesha
By Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar

Amr Ibn Al-Aas once asked the prophet (peace be upon him) who he loved the most in this world, the prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Ayesha,” he then asked about the men and the prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “Her father,”

This song is dedicated to Ayesha, the daughter of Abu Bakr, our mother and one of the first women to benefit from the Islamic liberation. May Allah be pleased with her!

The prophet once had a dream
In which Ayesha’s face he had seen, behind a bridal screen
And so that day, he embraced his destiny
And the rest is now part of our beautiful history

She was young and keen, ready to learn and grow
As she grew, her wisdom and greatness would begin to show
She would become a great scholar who feared Allah
And she taught this Ummah the Quran and Sunnah

Oh Ayesha, my mother, May Allah be pleased with her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, we should all follow her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a role model for us all
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a hero standing tall

She would face many tests but Allah was always would her
Like when the hypocrites launched a scandal against her
Her world seemed to crumbling down around her
But she knew that Allah would never desert her

She held tight to her faith in Allah
Until He revealed verses to defend her
Such is the honour bestowed upon Ayesha
Our mother, protected and defended by Allah

Oh Ayesha, my mother, May Allah be pleased with her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, we should all follow her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a role model for us all
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a hero standing tall

When the prophet was passing away
It was in her house that he chose to stay
It was in her lap that he breathed his last
He is still buried there although so much time has past

She was the daughter of the first Caliph of Islam
And the wife of the greatest prophet of them all
She was given the title As-Siddiqah
And is honoured in the Kitabullah

Oh Ayesha, my mother, May Allah be pleased with her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, we should all follow her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a role model for us all
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a hero standing tall

There came a time when she would face fitnah
Uthman had been killed and the murderers were not far
She decided to confront them leading a huge army
But through a misunderstanding, her army fought Ali

Yet showing the true spirit of Imaan and unity
They reconciled and signed a peace treaty
Ali was a real man and honoured his and our mother
And showed us how to behave as a true Muslim brother

Oh Ayesha, my mother, May Allah be pleased with her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, we should all follow her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a role model for us all
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a hero standing tall

So many stories to tell about this great woman
In the days when other nations mistreated and oppressed women
She was racing, playing with her dolls and enjoying her youthful days
Yet at the same time learning and growing to become a leader in Allah’s way

What more can we say that has not been said before
She is known as Siddiqa, Humairah, and by many more
Her titles and names show her high status in our Deen for all to see
Just read how many Hadith she narrated for you and me

Sahabah would gather to learn from her everyday
For they recognized she had the knowledge to lead the way
So we owe it to her to study her history
And follow in her footsteps and join her legacy

Oh Ayesha, my mother, May Allah be pleased with her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, we should all follow her
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a role model for us all
Oh Ayesha, our mother, a hero standing tall

If God does not need our worship, why create us to worship Him?

As Salaamu Alaikum

Below is my response to a seeker of the truth, who asked me the following question:

"God does not need our worship, so why did He create us to worship Him? Why does He allow all the evil that happens on earth and why punish people when He already knows what they will do. Why create people if He is going to doom them to eternal Hell anyway?"

I hope my answer is satisfactory and I ask Allah to guide us all to what is best, please feel free to add on any more points that you feel can help:

Firstly, I would like to mention that that is a very good question and one that I myself thought about a lot. I also gauge from the question that you believe in God yet can not understand why He would do this to His creation, so I will try, with the Help of God, to answer as best as I can.

The first point we should realize is that God is beyond us in many ways, He has more knowledge and wisdom than we ever can, so this should humble as and make us realize there are many things God does which is beyond our understanding yet we need to trust His infinite wisdom which will reveal itself over time. So anytime, we do not understand something about God, it is because of our own lack of knowledge. The key is to ask and learn, which you did, May God bless you with guidance and understanding, yet know that not everything about God can be understood by us.

Regarding why did God create us, the simple answer of to worship Him still leaves many questions, some of which you have mentioned, and you are right, God does not need our worship, but we do. We are in need of God, and the only way to get His help and Mercy is to worship Him in the way that He has revealed through His prophets. We need God's worship so that we can gain peace of mind, knowing our purpose and living for it, so that we can gain nearness to Him, so that we can gain Paradise and escape the Hellfire.

That still leaves the question, why create humans and put them through this test and punish them if they fail? My question to you would be why not? God is the Creator, and Creating is what He does, just like painters paint and builders build, God creates and He decides what to create. If you had to paint a picture of an ugly man, the picture can not complain to you as to why you made him ugly, that was your chose and he is your painting, similarly we are God's creation and God tells us in the Quran, "He is not answerable to you, but you all are answerable to Him,"

The Creator did what He does best, He created. He created an amazing universe with amazing creatures, most amazing of them all He created the human being and gave it intellect and the ability to choose and to do both good and evil. But the Creator is also most Wise and knows that if He creates a being like a human, there has to be rules and punishments, if not humans will do what they want and chaos will reign. Just like we set rules in our countries, schools, and workplaces, and we set punishments for those who break the rules, yet nobody says it is unjust, rather we say it is unjust not to have punishments, the same applies to God on a higher level for God has more right to make rules for us and to punish us than other people since He created and owns us.

Imagine if God did not create the Hellfire and if He decided all humans would go to Paradise, what would be the use of me doing good, since the murderers, rapists, terrorists, etc would get the same reward as the doers of good? It would be unjust and illogical, and God is most just and most logical.

Imagine if He just placed us in paradise and Hell without testing us on earth first since He already knows our endings, the people in Hell would feel it is unjust to them, yet by letting us live our lives and giving us this chance, if anybody ends up in Hell, there will be no excuse he can make, that is the Wisdom and Justice of God.

In the end, we must realize that we do exist, God has already created us and placed us in this test, will we choose to submit (Islam) to Him and worship Him because we need to, or will we choose to rebel and face a punishment for being ungrateful to our Creator who gave us so much in this world and is offering us so much more in Paradise the Hereafter if we choose to worship Him.

Think about it but more importantly pray to God and ask Him to grant you the guidance and understanding you need and are searching for.

May God guide us all
Peace upon those who seek guidance

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Breaking Stereotypes

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Breaking Stereotypes:
By Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar

While listening to Zain Bhikha and Adbul Malik Ahmed’s new song “Who I am” ( from Zain’s new album “1415:The Beginning” I thought about the social implications of this song so I wrote the following article based on the song with lyrics from the song in between. This song can refer to us trying to imitate the disbelievers and live up to their expectations, but I wrote from the point of view of us trying to live up to the cultural expectations of many Muslims:

“Social expectations drown us all inside, what you have should be what I want, because what I have just ain’t alright,” (Zain Bhikha – Who I am)

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the universe and we ask Allah to send his peace and blessings upon his final messenger Muhammad and all those who follow his way until the Last Day.

If you study the lives of the pious predecessors, you will find that each of them was unique and had their own special qualities. Looking at the prophets (peace be upon them all), Musa was strong and hot-tempered against evil, but he also had a speech impediment. Eesa on the other hand was cool and peaceful. Each prophet had unique qualities that separated them from the others, be it Ibrahim’s sacrificing attitude and soft nature, Shuaib’s eloquent speech, Yusuf’s beauty and patience, Yaqub’s beautiful patience and loving nature or Muhammad’s amazing endurance and his legendary trustworthiness. Peace be upon them all, each of them were unique.

The same goes for the companions, Abu Bakr was soft, cool yet firm upon his principles. Umar was hot-tempered, harsh yet soft towards the poor and oppresses. Uthman was patient and would not raise an arm against another Muslim. Abu Dhar preferred solitude while others preferred being part of the community. Khalid Bin Waleed was a fighter, was Hussain Bin Thabit was a peaceful poet. Each of them was unique.

The same applies to the great women in our history. Aasiyah was exceptionally brave and outspoken against her husband the Pharaoh. Maryam was the perfect example of piety and modesty. Ayesha was outspoken, learned and intelligent. Nusaibah binte Ka’ab was would sacrifice her life in the battlefield. Once again each of the great women of our past was unique.

The point I am trying to emphasize is that none of the pious predecessors fitted into a stereotype. There was no stereotype of practicing Muslim like how we have today. As long as a person fulfilled their obligations, stayed away from sin and contributed positively to the world, they were regarded ad righteous Muslims.

Today our cultures have set so much high expectations of what they perceive to be piety that Muslims get lost in two ways. One group looks at piety as impossible to achieve without losing his or her self so they choose to stay away from the road to piety so that they can be themselves, while others submit to their cultures and forge a fake shell of piety losing themselves to their cultures and living for the people instead of Allah.

“He did, she did, they all did, what’s expected of them all. To get to the top don’t matter, if somebody’s got to fall,” (Zain Bhikha – Who I am)

For example, in my society, a pious man is perceived as a man who has a long beard, always wears a hat and long-sleeved kurta or Thawb, never smiles, laughs or has fun. The result, many people choose to live this lifestyle, making life unnecessarily difficult for themselves and others, while others stay away from piety because it seems boring to them.

It’s the same with women, when a sister decides to wear niqab, she is expected to have no personality, role in society and is expected to live a boring life of only worship. If a Muslim woman in Niqab is spotted laughing or having fun, she is treated with disapproval and people shake their heads at her “hypocrisy”. As a result women choose not to wear niqab so that they can be themselves or they choose to wear it and end up oppressed by culture and social expectations.

“They tell me this is the way that I need to reform, if I continue to stray I will start up a storm, wear this, drive that, like this, not that, don’t there lose track or you will fall way back!” (Abdul Malik Ahmed – Who I am)

In reality, none of this counts as piety in Islam, a man with a short beard, who does not wear a kurta or hat, yet does the five pillars, is good to people and stays away from evil is a righteous Muslim, and having fun is permitted in Islam and at times recommended as long as the means are permissible. The same applies for a woman as long as she covers everything except her face and hands in front of men that she can marry (Ghair Mahram).

All these extras that culture and society attach to piety are unfounded (like the kurta or being boring) or differed over (like the length that a beard should be or whether niqab is compulsory or recommended) and cause unnecessary inconvenience to those of us who want to please Allah but find society turning against us for not fitting their stereotype.

Allah has create each human unique and has revealed the perfect was of life that fits with human nature as a result Islam is a religion which caters for our different personalities and lifestyles yet provides boundaries to keep us away from destructive elements. There is nothing in Islam that is forbidden unless it is harmful and there is nothing in Islam which is recommended or obligatory unless there is benefit in it, and everything else is permissible.

Allah has made Islam easy to follow and our time on this earth is short, if you wish to please Allah and earn His Paradise then you have to stop worrying about what people will say and stop trying to please them, because your reward is with Allah, not with the people. You can be a practicing Muslim and still maintain your individuality, your personality and still have a fun life. Islam caters for all this so do not stay away from practicing Islam out of fear of not meeting people’s expectations or losing yourself and do not worry about what people say.

In the end, each of us will die and meet Allah individually so let us be the best Muslims we can be for Allah even if it means breaking people’s stereotypes and cultural expectations in the process. Maybe being yourself would be a means of opening other people’s eyes to what Islam really teaches and the true meaning of piety. Let us be the best of Muslims and educate others to show them how easy and fun Islam can be.

“But if my Lord loves me then my soul is free, you can say what you want just let me be! I know if I’m real and it’s not a disguise, you’ll love who I am if you open up your eyes,” (Abdul Malik Ahmed – Who I am)

“This is who I am, this is me! Nothing everything can’t you see! Who I am, just let me be, cause all that matters is that God loves me!” (Zain Bhikha – Who I am)

The Rights of children

The Rights of Children in Islam
By Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar

All praise is due to Allah, the Most Merciful, and may peace descend upon his final prophet, the mercy to this universe, Muhammad and all those who follow his way until the Last Day.

Once a man saw the prophet (peace be upon him) kissing his grandsons and in shock this man commented, "We do not kiss our children!" In another narration, he said, "I have ten sons and I have never kissed any of them," The prophet (peace be upon him) replied, "What can I do if Allah has removed mercy from your heart," In another narration, he said, "Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy,"

This Hadith sums up the prophetic method of dealing with children, it is a relationship of love and mercy. This is the Sunnah and the way of Islam, compare this however to the following common scenario in our times:

A child enters a Masjid for the first time at the age of seven and is keen to see what the Masjid is like and what the pious people there are like. This experience will be his first and lasting impression of Islam and practicing Muslims.

The first thing he notices is that nobody is smiling, and all the old men with big beards and kurtas are frowning and glaring at him like they want to kill him. This child gets scared and either cries or wets his pants, and then all Hell breaks loose in the house of Allah! All of a sudden, the old Buzrooks are screaming and swearing at the child and his father, sometimes they might even hit the child or his father or both of them. This is the typical first experience of many children in the Masjid, if not on their first day then during their first year at the Masjid.

The result: This child grows up averse to the Masjid and all things associated with it, including prayer and growing a beard. The question that needs to be raised is when these elders studied Islam, didn't anybody teach them Islamic etiquette and how to treat children? In fact many of these people think that Islamic respect is all about respecting your elders while they treat their employees, wives, kids and anybody younger than them like crap.

The prophet (peace be upon him) said, "None of you is from amongst us unless he is respectful to his elders and merciful to the youngsters," This Hadith shows that all humans deserve respect and mercy, regardless of age, and you can not be truly pious unless you treat children with kindness.

Let us look at the practical example of the prophet (peace be upon him) and compare it to the common practice amongst Muslims today. The prophet (peace be upon him) once when delivering a Jumuah Khutbah, saw his grandson crying for him at the Masjid entrance, he stopped the Khutbah and went over and picked up the child and pacified him. Then continued with the Khutbah. How many Imams today would do that if a child is crying in the Masjid? You have to wonder, whose sunnah are they following?

Sometimes the prophet (peace be upon him) would take very long in his sajdah because his grandson would be riding on his back and he would not want to disturb or hurt the child. Other times he would pick up the child and carry him while praying if the child wanted him. How many of us do this today? How many of us get angry, swear the child and say things like, "You stupid child! Can't you see I am praying!" Whose sunnah are we following?

We need to realize that children are innocent and they do not do things with bad intentions, furthermore they are soft-hearted and absorb everything you do. How you treat them prayer time or in the Masjid will affect how they look at the Masjid and prayer. This is why the prophet (peace be upon him) would leave a special cluster of dates in a corner of the Masjid only for children. The children would come and eat from it and enjoy being in the Masjid. How many of our children enjoy going to the Masjid? Whose sunnah are we following?

Once a child companion's pet bird died. The prophet (peace be upon him) went to visit that child and give his condolences! How many of us give a child condolences when someone dies, leave alone their pets. They need it even more than the adults.

Anas Ibn Malik was a child who use to work for the prophet (peace be upon him) and says that in his ten years working for the prophet (peace be upon him), the prophet (peace be upon him) never reprimanded him! Once the prophet (peace be upon him) sent Anas on an errand, Anas saw some kids playing and forgot about the errand and joined them. Later the prophet (peace be upon him) came looking for him and found him playing, the prophet (peace be upon him) laughed and told him to go complete the errand and never shouted or reprimanded and never brought up the topic again.

We can see from all these narrations that the prophet (peace be upon him) understood the feelings and nature of children and he treated them in the best of manners. He never put them down, made them feel bad, shouted or hit them. He would listen to their opinions and play with them. he was a friend to them, rather than a boss. It was because of this exemplary behavior of his that the children at his time loved him so much, loved Islam and grew up to become the leaders of this Ummah.

In fact, most of the great scholars of the companions were children or teenagers when the prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, including Ayesha, Ibn Umar, Ibn Abbas and Ibn Amr, yet they became the leading scholars of their time because of his treatment of them and method of dealing with them.

I ask Allah to grant us all the mercy and manners of the prophet (peace be upon him) and to make us people who attract others to Islam, and save us from being the cause of chasing people away from Islam.

One last note: The prophet (peace be upon him) would smile most of the time, so smile!