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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Dear Hubby asked me to read this article on Time.com about a new revolution that seems to be sweeping the Muslim world. I think modern Muslims should definitely give the article a go-through at least. Personally, I found it quite encouraging that Muslims are turning back to the Islam to find the answers to the questions that have recently beleaguered the community.

The Muslim youth it seems, is finally waking up, Alhamdulilah. And by waking up I do not mean the dumping of one’s roots, as has so often been associated with the term ‘moderate Muslim’. The new Muslim is proud to be a Muslim, not ashamed of his beard or embarrassed by her head scarf. And yes, the new Muslim does not care two hoots for the wanton killing that has recently been (inappropriatedly) awarded the title of ‘Jehad’.

The new Muslim asks hard questions- to his leaders, to the blind practice of social customs not authenticated by Islam, to the apathy of his own community and to himself; no one is spared. 

The new Muslim apparently also values knowledge. And that is why both he and she are taking their education seriously- and are returning to the scriptures- The Quran and subsequently the Hadeeth- to understand the demands of their faith. And having thus satisfied themselves of the truth, are feeling even more inclined towards God. 

What is Islam, they ask themselves. They begin their quest and realize that the meaning of Islam lies in the total submission to Allah- an exclusive God with no partners what so ever. Incidentally, they realize that it is also in peace. It is in the feeding of the beggar, in the supporting of the orphan, in the holding on to the truth, in the obedience to parents, in chastity, in the care for the neighbor and in the saving of an innocent life. I would like to emphasize this last object. For the Quran says:

 “Say: ‘Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to shameful deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.’ ” (Chapter 6 (Al-Anaam): Verse 151)

And elsewhere:

Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law). (Chapter 17(Al-Isra): Verse 33)

And also:

“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.” (Chapter 5 (Al – Maida): Verse 32)

The last verse should clarify all doubts on the value placed on human life by Allah. The analogy ensures that it is not taken lightly. One life = The whole of humanity. The math is simple.

My conclusion? Don’t judge Islam just by the individual performance of some wayward Muslims. The best way to understand Islam is to read about Islam itself (look for authentic sources, please!) and if you must judge it by its followers, kindly look for ‘followers’ who are actually ‘following’ Islam. A Muslim name alone does not qualify you as a Muslim. 

So there. Here’s to the gen-next of Muslims.

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Phew! There’s simply sooo much happening that I might just run out of blog space but not out of stuff to write. Sounds like a hyperbole? Well of course it is! But still, that still leaves me loads to key about. However, deadlines loom ominously as the end of the academic term nears and there are still piles and piles of answer papers to evaluate. Sigh. That means all I can possibly squeeze in here are a few random lines. Nevertheless, here they are:

What I did want to blog about was my birthday 😀 (Woohoo!) Actually more than that, about this amazing restaurant that hubby took me out for. It’s called ‘Sigree’ and it’s got some scrumptious barbecues! Unlimited juicy kebabs and an in-built ‘Sigree’ (or barbecue fire) on each table! Sounds hot? Well it sure was! Your kebabs can never get cold as you dig into one charcoaled delight to another! Umm yummm! More on this later if I can find the time.

But that’s not the crux of this blog entry, really. What is even more interesting than drippy chicken delicacies is attending Dr. zakir Naik‘s lecture LIVE at the Azam Campus grounds. For the uninitiated, Dr. Naik is a world renowned scholar on comparitive religion and can quote verbatim from the religious texts of almost all major religions of the world. And not just quote, he will give you, on the spot, without a sneak into any notes, the book number, chapter number and even verse number of the quotation he is discussing! Mashalah! It’s amazing to watch him give word to word references from the Bible, the Vedas, the Old Testament and so many more scriptures! You should have seen the crowds! Tens of thousands of people of all faiths have been thronging the Azam Campus grounds since yesterday to come listen to him and even more are expected tomorrow as he speaks on a topic the entire world would want some insights into: ‘Is terrorism the inheritance of Muslims?’ (Kya aatankwaad Musalmanon ki virasat hai?) Three people from the audience actually stood up and proclaimed Shahada (bearing witness to the oneness of Allah and to the Prophethood of Mohammed PBUH)! Mashallah!

You can watch tomorrow’s lecture LIVE on his Peace TV channel if you get it on your satellite connection. With affiliations to world famous Islamic scholars like Bilal Philips, Yusuf Estes and several more, his discussions on religion are something no intellectual would want to miss. Well, how can you refuse such engaging dialogs, even if you do not concur with the ideology of Islam? The process of inquiry is invigorating in itself.

Well, I for one will try to leave a little earlier for tomorrow’s lecture. I want the front seats and I know they aren’t easy to get. 🙂

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Teaching as a profession has some definite perks. Meeting new people being one of them. Last week, a group of young German tourists visited the our Azam Campus. They were unique tourists; they didn’t just want the Taj and all. They wanted to see the real India as much. Grassroot level. With the poor and the rural. And of course to study other spheres of the Indian experience: the education system, the status of women and the status of Muslim women. It was a group of around fifteen, mostly women, one Irish lady amongst them. They struck me as bright, well informed, articulate and affable. They wanted to meet some educated Muslim women I presume, and that is why Azam Campus for perhaps chosen.

A meeting was thus scheduled. And over tea and snacks we talked for about an hour and an a half on a million and a half issues. Here is a rough excerpt of what went between. The ‘questions’ were mostly from our guests and the answers from our group- lecturers of Abeda Inamdar Senior College.  I am not quoting anything verbatim of course, just an impressionistic account of what my memory delivers:

Question: How is it like being a Muslim woman in India?

Answer: Nothing particularly different. I wear the head scarf, I interact with non Muslims and they interact with us in just the way two normal human beings would perhaps interact! In short, it’s pretty nice and cordial, at least in urban India (and particularly in Azam Campus 🙂 )

Question: Why do some of you don the Hijab and some of you don’t? Do you represent different ‘sects’?

Answer: Not really. The headscarf is more like a choice, no one forces you to wear it, you don it as and when you are ready for it, and we have Muslim women wearing all sorts of dresses and still being very much Muslim. (Personally, I differ on this issue a bit. Of course, there is no “compulsion in religion”. i.e. no one should really forcibly ‘impose’ a hijab, but that still does not mean that it is optional per se. The Quran states that women need to be modestly covered up, in something very much like the modern hijab)

Question: I see some women with even their faces covered up. I am sorry, but isn’t it insulting to the women’s body- to ask her to cover up only because there maybe some vulgar, hungry male passions evoked somewhere?

Answer: Islam has firm principles of modesty and chastity. The covering of the face is mostly viewed as optional by many jurists, meaning, you can decide if you want that to be covered or not, but if some one wants to willingly adopt that lifestyle, we cannot and should not come in their way. It’s difficult to understand this way of life, yes; it may even sound severely austere to you, but this is not your culture and it is understandable if you are baffled by it. However, you need to understand that we are comfortable in this culture, this is what we identify with. You may be offended if someone asks you to cover up, I would be deeply offended if someone asked me to ‘uncover’ up! You need to appreciate the other person’s perspective too.

Question: In Germany, the headscarf would be viewed with suspicion. Maybe not in India, but there it almost represents a fanatic attitude and there is a lot of debate whether it should be allowed in universities there.

Answer: My headscarf is like second skin to me. Telling me to take it off before going to college is akin to asking you to take off your clothes in the same situation! (Of course there might always be a human failing in each of us when we are lax or negligent at times about the covering of the head and all, but that’s another matter altogether!)

Question: What does the Quran say about the Hijab? Is it not compulsory? And do all girls take it voluntarily?

Answer: The Quran clearly states that the Hijab is compulsory. Not necessarily in the traditional Arab abaya form. It can be any loose outer covering. A Muslim woman in the West perhaps would wear just a loose shirt, or a coat; it can also be of varied subtle hues, not just black. And no, not all girls take it voluntarily. In some families it is highly recommended, in some there is emotional pressure and some are downright firm on it being worn by the women of the house. Sometimes there is a backfire. Girls leave their homes wearing the hijab and take it off when they come to college. But you have to remember-these parents who take such an autocratic attitude, would do so in just about any other matter as well-whether it is on the choice of career chosen by their children, the choice of person that marry, etc. It’s not simply religious enforcement.

Question: In Germany, women are paid far lesser than their male counterparts for the same job/career. It’s worse for women with young children and they have to make a choice between career or kids. How is it in India?

Answer: (Kind of surprised) We always thought you guys are way ahead of us in women’s liberation. In India, thankfully, no such discrimination exists. Not on paper at least! 🙂 As for that choice, it’s quite similar even here. However, the easy availability of domestic help takes off an immense pressure off working moms’ shoulders.

Question: How do the male students respond to having a female Muslim teacher? (How do they react to this hierarchy of roles?)

Answer: Quite positively in fact. There are scores of male lectures working under our female vice principal and the equation has been nothing short of respect. Additionally, there are often instances of male students choosing a Muslim woman Professor as their research guide. The criteria is seldom of gender or religion but of the quality of work produced by the individual.

Question: Why aren’t Muslim women allowed to visit mosques?

Answer: That’s a misnomer actually. It’s basically only in India and Pakistan that such a sad reality exists. Even in the US (or in the Arab world) there is generally a separate provision made for female prayer areas. Maybe it is because of the large population and limited space allotted to mosques that the preference has been given to building male prayer areas. (Muslims have segregated praying areas) However, that is changing with mosques around the nation trying to make accommodation for women too. Besides, in the Holy mosques of Makkah and Madinah, both males and females pray in congregation.

Hmmmmm. The discussion went on and on and on and no one was really tiring of it. It was interesting,  intellectually stimulating and was a wonderful instance of culture exchange. Our guests were very sensitive (to the point of being even a little embarassed in asking their questions sometimes :)) Obviosly, the head scarf issue is quite a taboo subject there. They were glad there were people to talk things out and we on part were glad there were so many willing ears who would listen. (A sign of building inter-religious tolerance?)

They talked of a range of other issues too. Like gender equations in general, the way the education system worked and University procedures amongst others.  It all ended on a very satisfying (not to mention jovial note) and a little exchange of gifts. One of our guests was kind enough to give us picturesque hand made calendars with  pictures of the German town Wursberg that he had clicked himself. And of course, the quintessential German motif- a CD of Beethoven. On our part, we gifted them hampers of copies of three Islamic books- ‘Understanding Islam’, ‘Fundamentals of Islam’ and the ‘Sweetness of Hijab’- all of which were recieved with enthusiasm. Alhamdulilah. I thank Allah for such an enriching experience. I hope to hear from our German guests again soon, Inshalah. 🙂

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Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why DO bad things happen to good people, really now? I mean it all seems pretty illogical sometimes, no? There are these folks who are so righteous and pious and generous and all, and they still don’t seem to have all they should. And then again, we have another type of folks-the bad and the ugly. Think corrupt politicians, terrorizing mafia dons and most of the rest of the world. They all seem to be very cosily set in life. Mirth, moolah, muck- they’ve got it all. So has God been unfair after all? For some people, that seems like a valid question. For others, there seems to be a valid answer-somewhere.

The above mentioned question had been playing on my mind for sometime now. God couldn’t possibly unfair, that much I knew, Alhamdulilah. But I still wanted an answer. It’s such a universally ubiquitous question. ‘Why does God behave the way he does?’ I recalled Milton with some sympathy. The scene must’ve been pretty bleak even back then. The poor chap wrote 9 books of Paradise Lost only to “justify the ways of God to men.” Man, the skeptic. Sigh.

So why do bad things happen to good people then? I pondered again. How do you define ‘bad’? Accidents? Penury? Sickness? Loss? Of loved ones, prized possessions, oppurtunities? Life’s tough, some say. And tougher for the ‘goody-goody’ folks. Hmmm. Perhaps.

May I be allowed to draw a little analogy here? Every nation requires a well maintained army. It’s crucial to national security, even when you are not in war. It’s a matter of being prepared. Being a soldier for the nation’s defense is a challenging job, but also one with great amount of honor and prestige attached. Yet, all the soldiers, especially the ones in training, have to lead an arduous lifestyle. I am not sure what kind of regimen they follow exactly, but I am sure of one thing-it’s tough. Tough as hell. In fact, quite a few army regimens across the globe have been categorized as “brutal”. Why? These young soldiers are apparently all good people; law abiding, patriotic citizens who are ready to give up their lives for the cause of the country. And yet bad things happen to them too. At least tough ones do. ‘That’s because the army heads want to test their endurance and toughen them up’, you may reason. Well, I take the same reason when it comes to God’s role in our hardships. Easier said than done, you say; and I agree with you wholly. There never comes a calamity in which we don’t exhibit at least some amount of despair. And that includes me. Objectivity is always the first casualty then. The bigger picture doesn’t matter, it’s just my overwhelmingly big problem that does. Oh well, that’s what makes us humans, doesn’t it?

I came across this verse in the Quran, in chapter 3, The Family of Imran (Surah Al-Imran, Verse 26):

Say: “O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.”

As one established commentator says, prosperity alone is not the criterion of honor. Allah has supreme authority over all things, and that includes wealth, wisdom, etc. The dispensation of these are his prerogative. The believer shouldn’t get flustered by the apparent disparity in their distribution.

The Hadeeth (traditions/sayings of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH) has much to console the striving soul too. Narrated ‘Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Apostle said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” – Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544

Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is good for him” (Sahih Muslim).

Seriously now, do I need to say anymore?


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Sub-hanallah. Here’s something I found in the question and answer section of Readingislam.com.  I say, it was quite a revealing piece. What is that Muslims and Christians differ on? And deep down, after all the man-made distinctions have been removed, are we, in fact, quite the same? I think both the ‘questioner’ as well as the ‘answerer’ deserve commendation. It requires a lot of patience and tolerance to have meaningful inter-faith dialogs like these, don’t you think? Considering the way things are today, internationally, with intolerance reigning supreme everywhere, elucidations like these must surely be of some help:

THE QUESTION:

Dear Muslim friends, I am a Christian man and have lived in the United States my entire life. I have always been fascinated with the subject of religion and have taken the time to study the Islamic faith somewhat.

As I write this, it is September 13, 2007, which is the first day of Ramadan this year. I pray that you have a blessed time of fasting and prayer unto God (Allah).

I have a question in regard to your position on salvation and the afterlife. Here is some background so that you will understand where I am coming from.

I personally believe in the Torah and the Gospels as do other Christians, but I do *not* in any fashion believe that there are “three gods” or anything of the sort. The Bible itself teaches that there is only *One God* and the belief in “three” is from sources other than the Bible. “One” by no means implies that there are really “three.” To this day, I still can’t really figure out where Christians have come up with the concept of “three in one.” There is only One God. And, like Muslims, I do not ascribe any “partners” with God – no humans, animals, etc. And neither do I worship his prophets or messengers as being equal with God, though I do acknowledge that they are sent from Him.

Of course, because I am a Christian, I do feel that Jesus -may peace be upon him – was the “Messiah,” just like other Christians believe (that he died on the cross, etc.) My question in regard to Islam, pertained to the fact that Muslims (as I understand them) deny the crucifixion of Christ, and accept the prophethood of Muhammad.

Although I am not a “Muslim,” I do most certainly worship only One God, Who I believe is the same as “Allah,” whom the Muslims worship. But because I am a Christian, I do not hold the same views as do Muslims in regard to the prophethood of Muhammad and the crucifixion of Jesus.

My question to you is: is it considered necessary in Islam for a man like myself to convert to Islam in order to go to Paradise (Heaven), even though I ascribe worship to only One God now as Christian? Is it acceptable to still be a “Christian” in the eyes of Allah, and go to Heaven?

I’m just curious, and perhaps the answer is not as cut and dry as I make it. I ask with an open mind and heart. Please get back to me when you can. And may Allah richly bless you for your work in spreading the glorious truth that He is One – and there is none before or after Him. Have a blessed Ramadan. – Jonathan

THE ANSWER 

Peace,


Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your Ramadan greetings and prayers, they were deeply appreciated. We pray that God graces you with the best of health and guidance in this special month and, indeed, every day in your life.

Regarding your question, like you said, there really are no cut and dry answers. Would it surprise you if I told you that in Islam, even Muslims can never be sure whether they will be going to heaven or hell?

Judging in the Place of God

We believe that the judgment lies in the hands of God, as He is the Most Just and even more important, He is the Most Loving and Most Merciful and Compassionate. It is never for us to judge in His place.

In fact, it is prohibited in Islam to specify Hell for any human being, no matter what his or her beliefs appear to be.

Muslim scholars have also taught that one shouldn’t hold any human being in contempt because he or she might be closer to God than oneself.     

Being our Creator, only God knows what is in our hearts, our intentions, our actions, our speech. He knows whether we have harmed people or whether we have sought for peace and understanding among His creation.

Mercy and Compassion, Not Justice

As Muslims, we believe that everyone will be held accountable for their deeds and speech, and we live in hope that God will judge us not according to His justice, but according to His Infinite Mercy and Compassion.

There is a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that basically means that everyone who believes in his or her heart that there is no god but the One True God (Allah in Arabic, and El in Hebrew) will ultimately dwell in Paradise.

In addition, in the Qur’an, which as you may know, is what Muslims believe to be the revelation of God’s words to the Prophet Muhammad, God says:

*{Verily, those who believe (in that which is revealed to you, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them neither shall they grieve.}* (Al-Baqarah 2:62)

Now, the translation here mentions “Christians”. Technically, the term in the Qur’an is “Nasara“. In Arabic, and in the Muslim understanding of the life of Prophet Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him), his followers were called the “Nasara“, or the “followers and supporters”.

As the Qur’anic verse points out, the reward of all the people mentioned in the verse is with their Lord. More importantly, they have nothing to fear or grieve, and can only hope for Paradise through leading a pious and peaceful life, doing good deeds and helping their fellow creatures, all the while worshipping none but the One God.

Furthermore, the Qur’an explicitly states that *{We never punish until we have sent a messenger.}* (Al-Israa 17:15)

People who lived before the Prophet Muhammad, or even those who lived after him but did not have enough knowledge about him in order to accept that he is a prophet of God like other prophets, are called “ahl al-fitrah“. In Islam, these people are forgiven by God because the message did not reach them.

However, Jonathan, if you don’t know enough about Muhammad, you might be interested to read up on him from original sources. The Qur’an says:

*{And thou wilt surely find that, of all people, those who say, “Behold, we are Christians”, come closest to feeling affection for those who believe in this divine writ. This is so because there are priests and monks among them, and because they are not given to arrogance.

For, when they come to understand what has been bestowed from on high upon this Apostle (Muhammad), thou canst see their eyes overflow with tears, because they recognize something of its truth; and they say: “O our Sustainer! We do believe; make us one, then, with all who bear witness to the truth.”}* (Al-Ma’idah 5:82-83)

                                            Muslims Are… Also Believers in Christ

On another note, you interestingly ask, “Is it acceptable to still be a “Christian” in the eyes of Allah, and go to Heaven?”, placing the word Christian between quote marks.

If you meant to say “follower of Jesus Christ”, rather than “believer in Christ’s divinity”, would it surprise you if I told you that Muslims are “Christian” in the sense that they are also followers of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)?

We also believe that he is the Messiah, and that is how he is mentioned in the Qur’an.

You can read the verse that says:

*{And remember when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah gives thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near unto Allah.}* (Aal `Imran 3:45)

There are many other verses that mention Jesus as the Messiah, but I will only quote a few:

*{O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! it is better for you! – Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:171)

And again:

*{The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food…}* (Al-Ma’idah 5:75)

The verses about Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary are beautiful in the Qur’an. It might interest you to read a translation of those verses.

Jesus’s mother, Mary, is even considered a prophet, and not just a saint, according to some strong opinions of Muslim scholars because she received revelation from God through the angel. This actually makes Islam the only religion in the world who has female prophets. In fact, there is a whole chapter in the Quran named after her.

Original Innocence, Not Sin

You are right when you say that Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion of Christ. We believe he is the Messiah, but this word means in Arabic “the one whom God has wiped clean of any sins”, among other things.

Other scholars of Islam say that the name “Messiah” also refers, in the context of Jesus as the Messiah, to the fact that when Jesus wiped his hands over any sick person, that person would be miraculously healed by God.

For Muslims his being the Messiah does not mean that he died on the cross. I hope that I am not offending you when I say this, but this is what we believe.

The verse in the Qur’an that mentions this says:

*{And their saying, “We killed the Messiah, `Isa son of Maryam, Messenger of Allah.” They did not kill him and they did not crucify him but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. Allah raised him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:157)

So, because we believe that the Qur’an is the word of God and that God is the All-Knowing, we believe that He, in His Mercy and Wisdom, “raised” Jesus up to himself. We do not believe that he was crucified simply because we do not believe that he needed to be crucified as expiation for the sins of mankind.

The reason for this is that Muslims do not accept the idea of original sin, but in contrast, accept as true the idea of “original innocence”, if one can term it that. Actually, we consider that although Adam and Eve did sin, they repented, and because God is the Most Merciful, He forgave them.

And even if they had not been forgiven, we believe that it would still have never affected us because according to Islam, each human is responsible for his or her own deeds only.

This is why Muslims believe that everyone is born free of any sin, and that everyone will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment only for the sins he or she committed.

Following Muhammad… Following Christ

After saying all this, it probably sounds strange when I say that Muslims are also followers of Christ, doesn’t it? However, we maintain that by following Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we are actually following all the prophets of God that were sent before him.

You see, in Islam, we do not think that Prophet Muhammad appeared with some new religion that is different from that of Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham Joseph, Jacob, or Jesus. We believe in all of these prophets, and that they were all saying the same thing: “Believe in One God and worship only Him.” That’s it – nothing more, nothing less.

So technically, we are Mosaic, Christian, Abrahamic, Jacobian, Ishmaelite, and Muhammadans, and so on, because we believe in all of the messages of all those prophets. In the Qur’an it is mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad is only the final prophet in a long line of prophets.

In his sayings, the Prophet Muhammad calls all the other prophets “my brothers”, because he is very aware of the heritage and long tradition of prophethood that he belonged to.

In addition, in the Qur’an, God tells us:

*{Say: We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.}* (Al-Baqarah 2: 136)

That means we believe in the message that Jesus (peace be upon him) received just as we believe in the message that Muhammad (peace be upon him) received.

We do not see Islam as the religion of Muhammad, but rather, it is the religion of God, and it is the same message that all the prophets of God received throughout history.

By the way, it might be prudent here to explain that the word “Islam” should not be offensive when I use it in the sentence above because the meaning of the word in Arabic comes from the lexical root s-l-m, from which the Arabic words meaning “peace”, “purity” and “submission” are derived.

Therefore, the technical meaning of “Islam” is peaceful submission, and a Muslim is “someone who submits peacefully to his Creator”.

And submitting to the Creator means believing in all His prophets and messengers, and not picking or choosing some of them alone. In other words, it was the duty of every follower of Moses to believe in Jesus Christ as a messenger of God. The same would apply for the followers of Jesus to believe in Muhammad as a messenger of God. And, of course, as I mentioned before, for every follower of Muhammad to believe in all the prophets who came before him (peace be upon them all).

There are still so many issues I would have liked to discuss with you, Jonathan, but I have written so much already, so I will leave it at that for now. I hope you continue to visit our website and provide us with your comments and feedback.

Once again, I would like to express our thanks for your kind words. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at any time. May God bless you with health, happiness, and inner peace.  

Salam.

Name of Counselor: Marwa Elnaggar

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Ah, I have been long been out of touch. Oh, those damned days when you hardly take out out some time for reflection and remembrance. And they last for stretches on end and only when you are faced with a difficult situation that you start your intensive worship again. Sigh. Selfishness thy name, Mifrah.

Well, I just received this mail from someone from a Google group that I subscribe to. (Most of the times I just sift cursorily through the subject lines and that’s about it.) However, blessed be Brother Atif who sent us this beautiful ‘Reminder to Remember’.

Here are some verses of the Quran that we could lend some moments to reflect on:

[4.Surah An-Nisaa : Ayah 103]

“Then when you have finished the prayer, remember Allah standing and sitting and reclining; but when you are secure (from danger) keep up prayer.”


[7.Surah Al-Araf : Ayah 205]

“And remember your Lord within yourself humbly and fearing and in a voice not loud in the morning and the evening and be not of the heedless ones.”

[8.Surah Al-Anfal : Ayah 45]

“O you who believe! when you meet a party, then be firm, and remember Allah much, that you may be successful.”

[13.Surah Ar-Ra’d : Ayah 27-28]

” Surely Allah makes him who will go astray, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him). Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts set at rest.”

[20. Surah Taha : Ayah 14]

“Surely I am Allah, there is no god but 1, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance.”

[29. Surah

Al-Ankabut : Ayah 45]

“Certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do.”

[33. Surah Al-Ahzab : Ayah 35,41-42]

“And the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember– Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.”

“O you who believe! remember Allah, remembering frequently, And glorify Him morning and evening.”

[62. Surah Al-Juma : Ayah 10]

“Remember Allah much, that you may be successful.”

[63. Surah Al-Munafiqun : Ayah 9]

“O you who believe! let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers.”

[73. Surah Al-Muzzammil : Ayah 8]

“And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with (exclusive) devotion.”

[74. Surah Al-Muddathhir : Ayah 3]

“And your Lord do magnify.”

[76. Surah Al-Insan : Ayah 25-26]

“And glorify the name of your Lord morning and evening. And during part of the night adore Him, and give glory to Him (a) long (part of the) night.”

[94. Surah

Al-Sharh : Ayah 7-8]

“So when you are free, nominate. And make your Lord your exclusive object.”

[110. Surah

Al-Nasr : Ayah 3]

“Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy).”

[Sahih Hadith: Volume 8, Book 75, Number 416]

Narrated ‘Abu Musa (Radi Allah Anhu) : The Prophet Muhammad (sal-allahu- alleihi-wasallam ) said, “The example of the one who remembers (glorifies the Praises of his Lord) Allah in comparison to the one who does not remember (glorifies the Praises of his Lord) Allah, is that of a Living creature to a Dead one.”

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A lot of people ask me if it’s not tough to wear the Hijab. Or on how I bear the heat in the layers of cloth around me. And I agree. It is not the easiest of things to follow. No it is not. But I only reason that not all ‘right’ things are necessarily ‘easy’.

For that I draw on my childhood experiences in the examination halls. Cheating and copying (in exams) were never like ‘BIG’ sins. It was the unsaid rule that while you nobody ‘copied’ for the entire paper, a sneak or two here and there was after all, only human. Many times the examiners also shared the same belief. So cheats usually ruled the roost during the exams. And no, you didn’t have to be a ‘poor’ student for that. The good students joined in the party; the right answer to a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ question could get you that precious one mark needed to top the class. Well that was the story always, year after year even through college.

But you know what? Alhamdulilah, we siblings RESISTED. Mum always told us that Allah was watching and while she was the toughest taskmaster when it came to academics- always RIGOROUSLY pushing us to reach the top, she despised dishonesty. She made it loud and clear: her children weren’t going to be paltry thieves, selling their souls for a few marks. (Of course she made life tough if we missed those marks because of lack of efforts though! lol)

But does it become ‘easyto be honest about your work “JUST BECAUSE MOM TOLD US TO”? Darn, it’s the TOUGHEST thing! When all around you people are sneaking, whispering, passing little ‘chits’ with answers in them…sigh! It is confounding. And then the mockery: “Oooooh! Miss Goody Two Shoes! Raja Harischandra’s heir apparent! What’s God gonna punish you for just a mark?”

And oh, God save you if you refuse to ‘help’ someone during the exams!
Scene One
Girl:”Psst!”
Me:”What?”
Girl:”What’s the answer to Question number 3?”
Me:”Don’t know.” (Returns to own work)

Scene Two
I will cut it short: you are the VAMP of the class- selfish, proud, unhelpful and then some more grudges against you.

Scene Three
You try to make sense to your friends. Try telling them that you are NOT all that prepared yourself, but would rather not cheat. And then they come up with theories like ‘God will bless us if we help each other’, ‘God understands; he will forgive’, ‘Between justice and mercy you must choose mercy’, blah, blah, blah. Did they not hear of the Quranic verses that God will punish them if they construe a lie about him?

As a teacher I am faced with more than just raised eye brows when I snatch away the answer papers of kids caught cheating. Sigh. As I said, the ‘right’ thing is not necessarily the ‘easiest’.

I draw this analogy whenever I am asked about the difficulty level in donning the Hijab. Oh yes, it does get hot. And yeah, I feel like showing my designer outfits, dangling chandelier earrings and done up hair at social dos too. Sometimes I even given in to the devil, I must confess; but I try to do as much as I can. But there are other benefits too. When we sacrifice something for Allah, he sends mercies on us in ways we least expect. And it ain’t THAT difficult either. After a while you get used to it. And there is the satisfaction of having done the ‘right’ thing. Plus, who says you need to look ‘bad’ in a Hijab? I take active part in designing my stuff and I think it’s pretty elegant and dignified (not to mention smart), Alhamdulilah. So there. I will end with this beautiful little poem that I found on the net. Don’t know the source, but so endearing, and I guess it pretty much sums it all 🙂

You look at me and call me oppressed,
Simply because of the way I’m dressed,
You know me not for what’s inside,
You judge the clothing I wear with pride
My body’s not for your eyes to hold,
You must speak to my mind, not my feminine mold,
I’m an individual, I’m no mans slave,
It’s Allahs pleasure that I only crave
I have a voice so I will be heard,
For in my heart I carry His word,
“O ye women, wrap close your cloak,
So you won’t be bothered by ignorant folk”
Man doesn’t tell me to dress this way,
It’s a Law from God that I obey,
Oppressed is something I’m truly NOT,
For liberation is what I’ve got
It was given to me many years ago,
With the right to prosper, the right to grow
I can climb moutains or cross the seas,
Expand my mind in all degrees
For God Himself gave us LIB-ER-TY
When He sent Islam,
To You and Me…

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