"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Power of Dua..

Du'a is the most potent weapon of a believer. It can change fate, while no action of ours ever can. It is the essence of ibadah or worship. With it we can never fail; without it we can never succeed. In the proper scheme of things, du'a should be the first and the last resort of the believer, with all his plans and actions coming in between.

Du'a is conversation with Allah, out Creator, our Lord and Master, the All Knowing, the All Powerful. This act in itself is of extraordinary significance. It is the most uplifting, liberating, empowering, and transforming conversation a person can ever have. We turn to Him because we know that He alone can lift our sufferings and solve our problems. We feel relieved after describing our difficulties to our Creator. We feel empowered after having communicated with the All Mighty. We sense His mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful. We get a new commitment to follow His path for that is the only path for success. We feel blessed with each such commitment.

In every difficulty our first action is du'a, as is our last. We ask Allah to show us the way to handle that difficulty; we seek His help in following the path He shows to us; we seek His aid in making our efforts successful. When we fall sick, we know that we cannot find the right doctor without His Will; that the best doctor may not be able to diagnose our condition without His Command; that the best treatment plan will not succeed without His Permission. We make du'a for all of these. We make du'a before we seek medical help, while we are receiving it and after it has been delivered. The same is true of all other difficulties we may encounter.

Du'a is the essence of ibadah. A person engaged in du'a affirms his belief in Tawheed (monotheism) and shuns belief in all false gods. With each du'a his belief in Allah grows. He beseeches Him, affirming his own powerlessness. A person seriously and sincerely engaged in dua understands exactly the relationship between himself and the Creator and affirms it through his actions. That is the essence of worship! Additionally, such a person can never become arrogant or proud, a logical result of true worship.

Du'a is our most potent weapon in all struggles of life as well as in jihad in the battlefield. During the battle of Badr, the Prophet Muhammad   stood up all night in prayer seeking Allah's help in the battle between unequal armies that would follow the next day. In the decisive battles against the crusaders, Sultan Salatuddin Ayyubi was busy day and night. His days were devoted to Jihad. His nights were spent making du'a, crying, seeking Allah's help. This was the practice of all true mujahideen.

We should make it a point to make du'a for all things big and small. It is the beginning of wisdom to realize that big and small are arbitrary labels that are totally irrelevant in this context. Nothing is too big for Whom we are asking from; nothing is too small for the one who is asking. That is why we have been taught to ask Allah when we need something as small as shoelaces. We should ask as a beggar, as a destitute person, for that is what we in reality are in relationship to Allah. At the same time we should ask with great hope and conviction that we shall be granted our prayers. We should remember the Hadith: "There is nothing more dear to Allah than a servant making dua to Him." On the other hand, a prayer lacking concentration and conviction is no prayer at all.
We should make dua at all times, not only during times of distress.

 The Prophet Muhammad   said: "Whosoever desires that Allah answers his duas in unfavorable and difficult conditions, he should make plentiful dua in days of ease and comfort." Also he said: "The person who does not ask from Allah, Allah becomes angry with him."

We should ask for all of our needs: those related to this world as well as those related to the Hereafter. Those who only concentrate on the former are, in effect, announcing that they don't care for their life in the permanent abode. They should blame no body but themselves for the total ruin in that world that Qur'an assures us awaits them. Those who only concentrate on the later are also showing lack of balance, for we need Allah's help to lead a good life here as well.

We should make dua not only for ourselves but also for our parents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children, relatives and friends, teachers and other benefactors, and destitute and struggling Muslims everywhere. We should pray for them for the good in this world as well as in the Hereafter. The Prophet  said: "The dua of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Aameen. And may you also be blessed with the same.'" [Sahih Muslim]


A Ruler is the Servant of the People:

It was a summer night. A refreshing breeze was gently playing about and pretty little stars were twinkling above. And when, after a restless day of excessive heat, man and bird and beast were all taking sweet rest, one lonely figure could be seen moving about the streets of the town of Madinah. This was the man the Muslims had elected to be their king.

In Islam, a leader of people is supposed to be the servant of the people, and as was usual, this king of Islam was out that night to ascertain for himself the welfare of his people. When at the outskirts of the town with the star-bedecked firmament above him, his thoughts went up to the great God Who had made these. Thus musing upon God’s greatness and beauty, he went on till he was quite a long way from the town. All of a sudden, in the dark of night, his eyes fell on a flame of fire at a distance. Spurred on by curiosity, he approached the light and after a while there loomed out what appeared to be a small tent. Drawing closer, he found a Bedouin seated in front of the tent, his face buried in his hands and a camel standing nearby. The Bedouin was lost in thought and took no notice of this nocturnal visitor.

"Assalamu ‘Alaikum!" said the visitor at last, to wake the Bedouin from his reverie, but to no effect. The visitor repeated the salutation, yet received no reply. After a third time, the Bedouin, taking him for a wayfarer or a beggar, sternly told him to be off and not to worry him.
"Why, brother? What is the trouble with you?" asked the visitor, not minding the rebuff in the least.

"Don’t you bore me," shouted the Bedouin. "Haven’t I once told you to clear off?" The visitor insisted on knowing what the matter was with him. At this, the Bedouin jumped to his feet to fetch his sword from inside his tent. "If you don’t want to lose your head," he said, "be off with you. It seems you must be a highwayman out on your game."
"No brother," replied the visitor gently. "I am no highwayman. Nor am I a wayfarer or a beggar. I belong to Madinah. I earn my living by working for others. I live in the town and have come out just for a stroll and seeing this fire in the wilderness, I was attracted here. I was afraid you are in trouble. What can I do for you?"

"Whose slave are you, then?" asked the Bedouin.
"I am a slave of the Muslims. My profession is to work for them," the visitor replied.
"What has brought you here?" enquired the Bedouin.
"All I want to know is the trouble that keeps you here in the desert in such perplexity," replied the visitor, taking his seat by the Bedouin. As he did so, he heard a painful cry from inside the tent – the cry of a woman.

"Why, brother? Who is crying with pain?" asked the visitor.
"It is my wife," replied the Bedouin. "We were coming from a long distance when her time came. I am a poor man and could not afford to take her to a town to engage a midwife so I stopped here in the desert. She is in great distress now. Please pray that God may help her in this desert place."

"Don’t worry about it in the least," replied the visitor. "I know a midwife and will shortly be back to you along with her."

"Wait!" said the Bedouin. "Don’t fetch a midwife. I have no money to pay her."
"Don’t worry on that account either," replied the visitor. "She will want no remuneration. Besides, she will be a great help to your wife."
It was past midnight when the visitor returned to his house. His wife was still up, waiting for him. Finding that her husband looked distressed, she asked him what was the matter. The husband told her the Bedouin’s story and asked her if she would help a fellow-woman in time of need. The wife was as good a Muslim as the husband; she said she was prepared to start that very moment.

"But they look very poor," said the husband. "Is there anything to eat that we might take for them?"
Wife: "Your own dinner is all that is left."
Husband: "Anything more?"
Wife: "Some goat’s milk."
Husband: "Anything else?"
Wife: "Some flour and some olive oil."
Husband: "Anything more?"
Wife: "By God, nothing else."
Husband: "Well, then, have all these things ready. I am going to saddle the camel. We must be quick."
Wife: "But won’t you have your dinner?"
Husband: "God knows if they have had any food at all since morning."
Wife: "Then do take a little milk."
Husband: "That poor woman would want it. Hurry up! They must be very anxious. Take a lamp with you."

In a moment, the camel was ready and they started with all the provisions they had in their house. In a short while they were at the Bedouin’s tent.
Addressing the Bedouin, the visitor said: "Please permit my wife to go in to render whatever help she can."

"It is extremely kind of you but I don’t know how to repay you. I don’t even have so much as a meal," replied the Bedouin.

"No question of payment; just permit my wife in," said the visitor.
While the wife went in, the visitor opened the bag of provisions he had brought with him. Taking his own dinner out, he served it to the Bedouin and asked him to help himself. The Bedouin said he must join too, but as the food was barely enough for one man, the visitor excused himself and the Bedouin had a hearty meal. When he had finished, they entered into a friendly conversation.

Bedouin: "Are you a native of Madinah?"
Visitor: "No, my birthplace is Makkah."
Bedouin: "Why did you leave Makkah?"
Visitor: "I came here along with my master."
Bedouin: "Has your master set you free?"
Visitor: "He has put me to the service of Muslims."
Bedouin: "Have you seen the Prophet’s time?"
Visitor: "Yes, I had that privilege too."
Bedouin: "Have you been in the Prophet’s company?"
Visitor: "O yes! Hundreds of times.’
Bedouin: "What a fortunate fellow! Then surely you must tell me how the Prophet lived and what he taught."

Visitor: "The Prophet lived a simple life. He wore plain clothes and ate simple food. He was very keen on cleanliness. He rose very early and first thing in the morning, he would thoroughly clean his teeth and mouth. He worked very hard and did everything with his own hands. He patched his own clothes, mended his own shoes, milked his own goats, and even swept his own floor. God, he would say, loves the man who earns his living by honest labour. He helped the poor and took care of the orphans and the widows. He stood by the weak, and never did a man in distress come to him who went back disappointed. He respected women. He never despaired. In the face of the greatest obstacles, he always looked his best. He taught that all men are equal. Though the Prophet of God and the King of Arabia, he never looked upon himself as superior to other men. When on his deathbed, he had it announced that if he had offended anyone, he was there ready to suffer the penalty; if he owed anything, he was there to repay it. Such was the Prophet’s life of love and labour; such was his teaching."

Bedouin: "But you have told me nothing about prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, and so many other things which he enjoined."

Visitor: "Yes, he was very particular about prayers. He said when we say our prayers we are taking a spiritual bath and come out cleaner and refreshed. He also said prayers were like a ladder that took us up to a higher and nobler life. But all worship, he said, was meant to enable us to play our part in life worthily. A man, he said, who says his prayers but does not feel for the orphan and the needy, is saying no prayers. Prayers must make us truthful, honest, hardworking, fearless, humble, regular, and above all, loving and of service to our fellow-men. Religion, he taught, meant love of God and service to fellow-men."
Renewed restlessness within the tent disturbed their conversation. For a while there was silence. The Bedouin walked up and down and then resuming his seat by the visitor went on with his questions.

Bedouin: "So you must know Umar, too. They say he is a very harsh man."
Visitor: "Rather! This is indeed a great defect in him."

Bedouin: "I wonder why people elected such a harsh man as their caliph?"
Visitor: "Perhaps they could find no better servant."

Bedouin: "Servant! What do you mean? The caliph must be having the time of his life. He must have plenty of money."

At this moment, a voice from within the tent announced a newcomer.
"Amir ul-Muminin!" said the visitor’s wife. "Congratulate your friend. God has blessed him with a son."

The Bedouin was taken aback at the words, Amir ul-Muminin. His visitor was the caliph, himself. He was overtaken by fear.

"I beg your pardon, Amir ul-Muminin," he said, with fear on his face. "I have been rude to you."
"Don’t worry about that, friend," Umar the Great reassured him. "You are just as much a human being as I am. In the sight of God, there is neither high nor low. We are all equal. God loves those who love His creatures. I have only done my duty, for, in Islam, the leader of a people means the servant of the people."

by Muhammad Yakub Khan
Taken from: The Golden Deeds of Islam

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Embracing the Veil


Special to The Washington Post

LONDON -- I used to look at veiled women as quiet, oppressed creatures -- until I was captured by the Taliban.

In September 2001, just 15 days after the terrorist attacks on the United States, I sneaked into Afghanistan, clad in a head-to-toe blue burqa, intending to write a newspaper account of life under the repressive regime. Instead, I was discovered, arrested and detained for 10 days. I spat and swore at my captors; they called me a "bad" woman but let me go after I promised to read the Quran and study Islam. (I'm not sure who was happier when I was freed -- they or I.)

Back home in London, I kept my word about studying Islam -- and was amazed by what I discovered. I'd been expecting Quranic chapters on how to beat your wife and oppress your daughters; instead, I found passages promoting the liberation of women. Two and a half years after my capture, I converted to Islam, provoking a mixture of astonishment, disappointment and encouragement among friends and relatives.

With disgust and dismay, I watched here in Britain as former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw described the Muslim niqab -- a face veil that reveals only the eyes -- as an unwelcome barrier to integration, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, writer Salman Rushdie and even Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi leaping to his defense.

Having been on both sides of the veil, I can tell you that most Western male politicians and journalists who lament the oppression of women in the Islamic world have no idea what they are talking about. They go on about veils, child brides, female circumcision, honor killings and forced marriages, and they wrongly blame Islam for all this, their arrogance surpassed only by their ignorance.

These cultural issues and customs have nothing to do with Islam. A careful reading of the Quran shows that just about everything that Western feminists fought for in the 1970s was available to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Women in Islam are considered equal to men in spirituality, education and worth, and a woman's gift for childbirth and child-rearing is regarded as a positive attribute.

When Islam offers women so much, why are Western men so obsessed with Muslim women's attire? Even British government ministers Gordon Brown and John Reid have made disparaging remarks about the niqab -- and they hail from Scotland, where men wear skirts.

A personal statement When I converted to Islam and began wearing a headscarf, the repercussions were enormous. All I did was cover my head and hair -- but I instantly became a second-class citizen. I knew I'd hear from the odd Islamophobe, but I didn't expect so much open hostility.

Cabs passed me by at night, their "for hire" lights glowing. One cabbie, after dropping off a white passenger in front of me, glared at me when I rapped on his window; he drove off. Another said, "Don't leave a bomb in the back seat" and asked, "Where's bin Laden hiding?"

Yes, it is a religious obligation for Muslim women to dress modestly, but the majority of Muslim women I know like wearing the hijab, which leaves the face uncovered, though a few prefer the niqab. It is a personal statement: My dress tells you that I am a Muslim and that I expect to be treated respectfully, much as a Wall Street banker would say that a business suit defines him as an executive to be taken seriously. Among converts to the faith like me, the attention of men who confront women with inappropriate, leering behavior is not tolerable.

I was a Western feminist for many years, but I've discovered that Muslim feminists are more radical than their secular counterparts. We hate those ghastly beauty pageants and tried to stop laughing in 2003 when judges of the Miss Earth competition hailed the emergence of a bikini-clad Miss Afghanistan, Vida Samadzai, as a giant leap for women's liberation. They even gave Samadzai a special award for "representing the victory of women's rights."

Some young Muslim feminists also consider the hijab and the niqab political symbols, a way of rejecting Western excesses such as binge drinking, casual sex and drug use. What is more liberating: being judged on the length of your skirt and the size of your surgically enhanced breasts, or being judged on your character and intelligence? In Islam, superiority is achieved through piety -- not beauty, wealth, power, position or sex.

I didn't know whether to scream or laugh when Italy's Prodi joined the debate by declaring that it is "common sense" not to wear the niqab because it makes social relations "more difficult." Nonsense. If this were the case, why are cellphones, land lines, e-mail, text messaging and fax machines in daily use? And no one switches off the radio because they can't see the presenter's face.

Under Islam, I am respected. It tells me that I have a right to an education and that it is my duty to seek out knowledge, regardless of whether I am single or married. Nowhere in the framework of Islam are we told that women must wash, clean or cook for men.

As for how Muslim men are allowed to beat their wives -- it's simply not true. Critics of Islam will quote random Quranic verses or hadith, but usually out of context. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Quran's way of saying, "Don't beat your wife, stupid."

And in the West ...?

It is not just Muslim men who must re-evaluate the place and treatment of women. According to a recent National Domestic Violence Hotline survey, 4 million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average 12-month period. More than three women are killed by their husbands and boyfriends every day -- that is nearly 5,500 since 9-11.

Violent men don't come from any particular religious or cultural category; one in three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to the hotline survey. This is a global problem that transcends religion, wealth, class, race and culture.

But in the West, men still believe that they are superior to women. They still receive better pay for equal work -- whether in the mailroom or the boardroom -- and still treat women as sexualized commodities whose power and influence flow directly from their appearance.

And for those who are still trying to claim that Islam oppresses women, recall this 1992 statement from the Rev. Pat Robertson, offering his views on empowered women: Feminism is a "socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Now you tell me who is civilized and who is not.

Yvonne Ridley is political editor of Islam Channel TV in London. Yvonne Ridley is co-author of "In the Hands of the Taliban: Her Extraordinary Story" (Robson Books). This essay appeared previously in The Washington Post. hermosh@aol.com 

Source: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/opinion/16095998.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp