Friday, 23 December 2011

The Role of Music in Today's World

By   Naseema mall
Youth 4 the Future Correspondent — South Africa

Sounds! We hear all sorts of them. The sounds of nature: the rustling of leaves in the wind, the patter of rain, and the crashing of waves against the rocks. We also hear the sounds created by people: roaring engines, mobile phones, drills, and beeping horns. Whether we will it or not, sounds have an impact on us and affect our mood.
Put sounds together and create a tune, and we have music. For millennia human beings have been listening to music, and while the types of music may have changed, we are still moved in some way by what we listen to.
Positive and Negative
Music is a powerful tool that can influence people's ideas and opinions either positively or negatively. Today nasheeds (Islamic songs), particularly English nasheeds, are having a greater positive influence on young Muslims than the other music available. Through their lyrics, Zain Bhikha, Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Native Deen, and Sami Yusuf, to name a few popular artists, have allowed people through their lyrics, to reflect more on their identity as Muslims and have helped bring them closer to Allah. A more recent phenomenon that is having an impact on younger people is William Yeomans, also known as Iron Sheik. His music draws attention to the follies and fallacies of governments and media, and condemns their policies and bias. Iron Sheik's music has made younger people more aware of current events around the world.
Other singers may not be as famous as the international stars but they play an important role in their communities and are able to bring joy and hope to many whose lives are bleak. For instance, Khadija Mataai of South Africa, a talented singer, was once part of the internationally renowned Ipitombi music and dance group, with whom she toured much of the world entertaining people. When she found Islam, she left Ipitombi and diverted her talents to teaching music and dance to orphans in South Africa.                           Heeding the Message
People listen to music for a number of different reasons. Many are seeking inner peace, relaxation, and escapism. Many teenagers listen to what's considered hip or cool to feel part of the gang.
As it did in the past, music today can influence people to stand up and be counted in their respective societies. Music can transmit a message so that people strive against injustice. Music has been an important element in leading some people to rid themselves of passivity and become more active. Perhaps Iron Sheik's song "Impeach Bush" might actually lead to the day when George Bush faces trial at the Hague for committing crimes against humanity!
To Listen or Not to Listen
A few months ago there were nasheed concerts held in the UK and in South Africa. While the GPU event in the UK was much larger than the event in South Africa, they were both successful in attracting large crowds, including many young people Some may argue that music is haram. But while acknowledging that there are differences of opinions, both events provided an alternative to bad music that encourages people to indulge in negative behavior.
The increasing popularity of English nasheeds are influencing the dynamics of the music world. Nasheeds have let people reevaluate their lives and the direction they want to take. A young doctor in Egypt I spoke to some time ago said to me, "I used to love listening to Nancy Agram (a Lebanese singer); now I've turned my attention to nasheeds which make me want to be a better Muslim. I still listen to Western music, but my choice of songs has changed. I listen to songs with meaningful words that talk about life and have a clear message in them. I'm no longer attracted to the songs that preach trash."
Here to Stay
Music will be around till the end of time. Music and life will continue to influence each other. Life and circumstances influence lyrics, and lyrics influence people's perceptions. Music today has turned many people's attention to the serious conditions we face: war, poverty, environmental issues, oppression, and injustice. Music like the songs of the Kuwaiti singer (also Qur'an Reciter) Mashaari bin Raashed has also brought to people's realization that the spiritual is not independent of the temporal.
As with everything else in our lives, when we choose to listen to music we have to choose wisely and listen to what moves us towards good and not to what encourages us to stray from the right path.

The road to hijab

Author Unknown
( The readers should verify the Qur'anic verses and the Ahadith quoted in this                              Article by  an Unknown Author.  In his/her enthusiasm to support Hijab for women,                         The author has used highly subjective as well as distortive  interpretation of the Qur'anic Verses and quoted weak or fabricated Ahadith. This article is posted here, as our policy is to encourage Opposing Points of View – Managing Editor of IRFI)

Gulf Times Doha, Qatar
Published: Friday, 4 May, 2007, 12:55 PM Doha Time
In order to even find the road to hijab, much less walking on it, one must first realise that the hijab of the Muslim woman is not Arabian, Pakistani, Black or White American, etc. It is the command of Allah, the conditions for which have been given in the Qur’an and Sunnah, in order to provide protection and safety for women. Here are a few aspects one needs to consider.
The first step on the road to hijab is the proper intention (Niyah). The wearing of the hijab is the compliance to the command of Allah, therefore it can be classified as an act of worship. As with all acts of worship, the fundamental underlying principle is intention. The hijab must be worn for no other reason except to comply with the order of Allah, solely for His sake and seeking His Pleasure. If it is not done with this sincere intention, then it becomes an act of either hypocrisy or of ar-riyaa (showing off).
If a Muslim woman wears hijab because, for instance, of an overbearing husband or father, and in her heart she dislikes it, or feels that it is a form of injustice: then she may very well have taken an act deserving of reward into one that may not bring about any reward in the hereafter. If all that Allah expected from our acts of worship were outward manifestations, then He would have graciously accepted the Islam of the hypocrites during the time of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
The same is true for the woman who wears hijab because it’s what the women around her do. She covers from head to toe in black to impress the people with her piety. When she is abroad, where no one she knows will see her, save her Lord, she does not wear the proper hijab. She then falls under the threat of Allah’s punishment, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “Whoever does a deed for the people, then Allah will give him to the people.”
The second step on the road to hijab, is knowledge. The great scholar of hadith, Imam Bukhari said, “Knowledge must precede both statement and action.” It is of the utmost importance for a woman who is seeking to observe the proper hijab, to ascertain sure knowledge, based on the Qur’an, Sunnah and the understanding of the first generation of Muslims. Unfortunately in this day and age, there are no shortages of books written on the issue of hijab by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that are full of misleading information.
It therefore becomes incumbent on Muslim women to gain sure and correct knowledge on this topic, in order to be better able in ciphering through the misinformation that is so predominant on this issue, and getting to the truth. When hijab is observed with the proper intention and based upon sound knowledge, it then becomes a firm conviction in the heart.
Due to this conviction, it becomes less likely that the hijab will be abandoned; either based upon the weak arguments of would-be Muslim “scholars”, or the everyday pressures of living in a “modern” society and its false call to women’s liberation. For the true desire of these people is as Allah says in the Qur’an, “Verily those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (24:19).
The third step on the road to hijab is love. It is among the signs of true belief that all acts of worship are manifested from love of those actions. The love of the hijab and the haya (inhibition or bashfulness) of the first generation of Muslim women has slowly been worn away from the hearts of modern-day Muslim women. Once Ali ibn abi Talib asked his wife, Fatimah, “What is the thing most beloved to a believing woman?” Fatimah replied, “Not to see or be seen by strange men.”
What happened to this love of modesty? Unfortunately for many Muslim women, this love has been replaced with the love of women’s liberation or the love of what has become prevalent in one’s culture or homeland. In order for the love of the hijab to be returned to the hearts of Muslim women, we must remove from our hearts the disease that suggests that the hijab makes us inferior to men and restricts our womanhood. These are whisperings of the Satan calling Muslim women to abandon their honour and their status as the best women of creation.
The hijab of the Muslim woman is her right and her honour ordained by the Lord of the worlds. It is her light that separates her from the darkness of the disbelieving women. It was narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “The parable of a woman who moves with a slow sweeping motion, trailing her beautiful clothes, performing not for her husband, is like darkness on the Day of Judgment; she has no light.” (Tirmithi)
The awrah of a woman is the areas of her body, which must be covered. The respected scholars from past and present have differed in whether the veil should cover the hands and face, or whether it is sufficient to cover everything, save the hands and face.
Aisha reported that once her sister, Asmaa, visited her in finery while the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was at home. He turned away from her and said, “O Asmaa, when a woman reaches puberty it is not lawful for her to uncover any part of her body except this.” He then pointed to his face and hand palm. (Abu Dawoud)
The above narration is one of the most commonly cited as proof for leaving the face and hands uncovered. The main consideration of this opinion must be what constitutes the face and the hands. The above statement clearly illustrates that the hand is the part of the body, which extends below the wrist bone.
The definition of what constitutes the face can be found in another tradition of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. He pointed from his forehead to his chin and from his cheek to the cheek. (Abu Dawoud) It may be of importance to note that ears must also be covered because they are not a part of the face, but are a part of the head as he, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said, “The two ears are a part of the head.” (Tirmithi)
This opinion also does not allow for the uncovering of the neck and breast. The khimar must cover the entire head, including the ears, all of the hair, come down from the head to cover the neck and the bosom. This is clear in the statement of Allah “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils, (ie, khimars) over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment...” (4:31)
Also among the things that must be covered are the clothes that a woman wears in her home. It is not sufficient for a Muslim woman to go out in pants or a skirt, a long shirt, or even a shalwar kamees and a khimar, because many times the clothes that a women wears in the house are themselves adornments. As the above verse states, Allah forbids the believing women from displaying her adornments, except to those people who are clearly named out in the verse.
Allah also commands His Prophet to tell the women in the verse, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) around them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is every Forgiving, Merciful.” (33:59)

Even though the hijab is not merely a covering dress, equally as important, it is behaviour, manners, speech and appearance in public; there are certain standards of dress however, conditions of hijab, that must be maintained.

The Rights of Children on Parents in Islam

{And those who pray, "Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous."} (Al-Furqan 25:74)

Children are one of the joys of life that we ask Allah to grant us:
{Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world } (Al-Kahf 18:46)
Children are the delight of our hearts in their childhood, our companions and comfort in our old age, and the only source of du`aa' in our graves; all in all, they are the means by which we earn the fruits of this life and the reward of the hereafter.

Muslims have responsibilities towards their children, and they stand accountable for these responsibilities so that they can truly enjoy and appreciate the blessings of having children and get rewarded by the Giver.

The adult of today was the child of yesterday, and the child of today is the adult of tomorrow. In order for children to fulfill their responsibilities towards their parents, they must first get their rights from them.

Muslim parents should teach their children all about Islam and show them how to worship Allah, with no compulsion or force.

They should also guide them to the stairways to Paradise, and protect them from falling into Hellfire. It is the responsibility of parents to provide their children with the environment and tools to learn all about Islam.

Allah says in the Qur'an what means:
{O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones.} (At-Tahrim 66:6)
Before the Child's Birth

Islam is the most just way of life, in which the rights of each soul are granted. When a man chooses his wife, it is top priority for him to choose one bearing the characteristics of a good mother.
Prophet Muhammad said, "Best of women who rode camels, among women of Quraish, are the most tender on a son in his childhood, and best caring for the husband when he grows old" (Al-Bukhari).

The pregnant or nursing mother should take care of her health and her nutrition so that she can pass good health to her child. She has been given the license to break the obligatory fast of Ramadan if the fasting may cause her or the baby any harm.
Showing Love Towards Children
Upon their birth, children have all of their rights automatically in effect: feeding, clothing, health care, even the celebration of birth (`aqeeqah), Allah says in the Qur'an what means:
[Mothers should feed their children for two whole years (that is) for those who wish to complete the suckling term, the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms is upon the father of the child.] (Al-Baqarah 2:233)
Also, the Prophet advised us to give each child a name with a good meaning.

Motherhood and fatherhood are instincts that Allah has blessed us with, and the love for our children is built into our hearts even before they are born. Prophet Muhammad instructed us to show our love to our children:

He is not one of us who does not have mercy for children and respect for our seniors. (At-Tirmidhi)

It is reported that Al-Aqra' ibn Habis saw Allah's Messenger kissing his grandchild and said to the Prophet, "I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them." The Prophet said, "He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him" (Al-Bukhari).

Also, a Bedouin man asked the Prophet, "Do you kiss your sons?" The Prophet replied, "Yes." The Bedouin said, "We do not." The Prophet said to him, "What can I do for you if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?" (Al-Bukhari).
The Right to a Respectable Life
Islamic Law has given children the right to a good life and ordered the father to guarantee them the resources that can make them live well.
Prophet Muhammad said, "The best penny a man spends is that on his children, on his camel for the sake of Allah, and on his friends for the sake of Allah."
Even in cases of divorce, fathers are asked to be fully responsible for their children regarding food, clothing, schooling, and health expenses according to the father's standard of life.
[Let the man of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief.} (At-Talaq 65:7)

The Qur'an also states that children have the right to inherit from the day of their birth.
Equality and Justice Between children
Muslims who fear Allah in their heart and are keen to earn His satisfaction should treat their children equally.

Justice, in particular social justice, is a major theme in Islam, which was revealed in a time when justice was lacking. Islam's teachings and rulings restored social justice in the tribal societies at the time.

Muslims who fear Allah in their heart and are keen to earn His satisfaction should treat their children equally, not favoring one over the others, in spending, treatment, and giving gifts to them.

Children are a blessing from Allah and to thank Allah for such a blessing, parents should fulfill the duties Allah prescribed on them towards their children.

Hoda Yasser has a B.A in English literature from Ain Shams University.

The myth of Muslim support for terror

WASHINGTON - Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria .
The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland 's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."
Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia , Pakistan , Bangladesh , and Nigeria . Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan , that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh , 81 percent.
Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?
Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that's an understandable polling result.
But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts – and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.
Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.
Terror Free Tomorrow's 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries – not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of "protest vote" against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view.
In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore , the enemy is the violence they exalt.
Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.
America 's goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.
Kenneth Ballen is founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding effective policies that win popular support away from global terrorists.

The Muslim Woman

By Shariffa Carlo
"The French Economic Philosopher, Jules Simon said, Women have started to work in Textile factories and printing presses etc... The government is employing them in factories, where they can earn a few francs. But on the other hand, this has totally destroyed the bases of family life. Yes, the husband may benefit from his wife's earnings, but apart from that, his earnings have decreased because now he is competing with her for work." (The Muslim Woman, Dr. Muhammad Ali Al Hashimi, p. 446)
The famous English Writer, Anna Ward said, "I wish that our country was like the lands of the Muslims, where modesty, chastity and purity are like a is a source of shame for England that we make our daughters examples of promiscuity by mixing so much with men. Why do we not try to persue that which makes a girl do work which agrees with her natural temperament, by staying at home, and leaving men's work to men, to keep their honor safe?" (The Muslim Woman, Dr. Muhammad Ali Al Hashimi, p. 447).
On a personal level, while I know that many women will not admit it, but the actions of the Western woman speak volumes. They really do believe that it is better for a woman to stay home than to work. Notice that women with husbands in the upper income level rarely work, especially if she has children. My sister in law and my brother have been married for over ten years. She refuses, to this day, to have children because my brother can not afford to fully support her and her children in the style to which they have become accustomed, unless she also works. She refuses to be a working mother and is constantly pointing out her sister who is more successful because she was able to leave her job when she became pregnant.
All this proves one basic point, that since Islam is the religion of Allah, and No one Knows better than Allah how to safeguard the dignity, honor and success of the woman, the way he has chosen for us is the best, and we have the West to thank for proving this to us.
The role of the woman is balanced but fair. She has been removed from the burden of supporting herself. This responsibility was given to the men in her life, her father and her brothers and even on the government, if the other two are not available. If she does not want to work, she does not have to. She is free to spend her time raising her children and tending to her family, social and religious life. However, if she wants to work, she is not forbidden to do so. She is encouraged to educate herself and to know her Lord, so that she can educate her children. She is discouraged from leaving her children without guidance and example. She is given the most honorable and important job in the universe, she is encouraged to be a mother.
I once had a conversation with some non-Muslims. I gave them an example: Suppose you were an alien visitor. You come to this society and view a family unit. You notice that one of them is completely cared for. The second person goes out every morning bright and early to spend the day working and earning money. This person may have a job that is intellectually stimulating, but often it is a job that requires strong physical labor. This tired worker returns to his home with offerings of food, clothing and shelter for this other mate, who has spent her time in her home, cleaning, cooking, playing with and educating children, maybe taking a break for shopping or going to the park (because her duties give her the time and luxury of doing so). Normally, the full salary of the worker goes towards maintaining this mate who stays home. Now, looking to this, which do you think is the superior one? Which is the queen and which is the servant? While we know that cooking, cleaning and caring for and educating children is a difficult job, in the long run, it is miles easier than working on the outside. We have more leisurely time, and the rewards go beyond monetary compensation. Most women, who have the choice, would never give up staying at home for going out to work.
During the Gulf War, a Western reporter interviewed a Saudi woman. The reporter, trying to make her feel inferior, asked her, "Doesn't it bother you that you are not able to go and get a job as a waitress, if you wanted to?" This woman, may Allah bless her, answered, "Are you joking? I am a woman with maids and servants, why would I want to lower myself to such a task." Think about it, the job of waitress is a glorified servant. No woman actually aspires to it, most are forced to do it because there is nothing better for them. And, many of these waitresses are nothing more than cheap entertainment for men. When questioned about not being able to drive, Saudi women point out that having a driver is a luxury that most Westerners aspire to, why is it a humiliation only for Muslim women? In the same vein, the Western woman hopes for the ability to be a stay-at-home mother. It is a status symbol, yet they try to make us feel inferior for making that choice the most common and preferred one. The West loves to make us feel inferior due to our choices, yet given the same choices, they look to reach what we have. Allah keep us from following their example and make us an example for them.
Western society has made the stay at home mother so ashamed of her role in society that a movement was actually needed to make the housewife feel more fulfilled. It became necessary to have a media campaign that educated American women about the fact that being a mother was just as valid a choice for a woman as being a working member of society. Think about it. I have read articles that say that the American woman was fooled into thinking she could have it all. Magazine after magazine talks about the failure of "quality time" with children. Children do not need quality time, they need a physical presence that will guide and mold them, and that presence is not a babysitter who really does not care about the values she instills.
We are told by Allah to save ourselves and our family from a fire that is fueled by men and stones (66:6). How are we going to do that if we allow someone else to raise them? How are we going to educate our children by giving them to strangers? We have a great responsibility that we will be questioned about. We should not allow the failure of the West to change us from our basic nature. In Feminist literature, the woman's language is defined as nurturing. Feminist philosophers state that a woman's style is nurturing. Allah created us in a fashion that makes us the perfect nurturer, so why do we reject that nature in search of some illusive goal of accomplishment?
While a woman has been granted the right to leave her home for her needs, (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 318), Rasool Allah told us that the best place for us is at home. There, we are free from fitnah and harassment. Look to the women of the West, the capital of women workers. They are constantly complaining that they are underpaid, overworked, they have the home duties still as well as the duties and demands of their jobs. They are over-worked and over stressed. Their families have suffered as they have. Too many of their children are promiscuous, addicted and morally bankrupt. They have so little respect for each other that many of the parents end up in nursing homes the minute they get old. Those who don't, end up fending for themselves late into their elderly years, years that should be spent enjoying the fruits of their labor, children who love, honor and respect them while caring for their every need. This is Islam. We raise our children with the values of wanting to take care of us later. My teacher once told a lady who came to him for advice that she needs to instill better values in her kids, that they should help her now that they are older. He said, if we are raising children with no sense of responsibility, it is better to raise sheep, at least you can benefit from their meat.
Our children are our responsibility. Our husbands are our leaders as well as our partners. Our parents are our trust. We can not neglect any of these duties in the search for fulfillment. If we follow our fitrah (basic nature) we will find fulfillment in these tasks. The woman can work. The woman can be a doctor or lawyer or engineer. She has the mental capacity to do so and the physical abilities. However, she is better suited to be a mother, a wife, a daughter. She does not have to go out and sell her services, and if necessity does not force her to, she shouldn't.
Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them, a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband's house and children and is responsible for them; a slave ('Abu) is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges." Volume 3, Book 46, Number 730.
Our responsibility is our husband's home and children, which are also our home and children. The rights of Allah come first. So, we must tend to this responsibility before any other. The man is responsible for us financially, even if he has to work two or more jobs to fulfill this task. If the woman wants to help him, she may, but she can not neglect her duties to do so. Allah will question her about her home and children, she will not be asked about her personal fulfillment or her maintenance of her family (unless there is no one else to do it). The woman must do her best to be a great wife and mother. This is number one. After this, there is permissibility.
No one claims that a woman can not do many jobs, but the reality exists that while a man can be the nurturer in a home, no one is better suited for this than the woman. She has been benefited by hormones which make her more patient, a temperament that makes her more nurturing, and a gentleness that makes her a better mother. There exist the aberrant Susan Smiths of the world who harm their children, but the reality is that when we hear about such horrible crimes, we are shocked because it is not normal. We know how mothers are with their children, from the human to the bird who will peck the hair off anyone who dares to harm her children. Allah gave us an honorable duty and the tools to fulfil it. Alhamdulillah for the blessings of Allah.

Muhammad in the eyes of Muslims (Peace be upon him & his progeny)

(Peace be upon him & his progeny)
Dr. Syed Akhtar
Austin, Texas

The scripture Qur’an enjoins total obedience to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his progeny). A believer is commanded to show him the utmost respect. Whenever his mere name is mentioned, the believer sends peace upon him and invokes God’s blessing upon him. The Qur’an clearly states that the Prophet has greater right on the believers than they have on their own lives.

The following quotes from the Qur’an will demonstrate the status of Prophet Muhammad in the eyes of the believers.

“And most surely you (Prophet) conform to sublime morality.” Chapter 68, verse 4

“Surely God and His angels bless the Prophet; O’ you who believe! Call for (divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation.” Chapter 33, verse 56

“Surely (as for) those who speak evil things about God and His Apostle, God has cursed them in this world …” Chapter 33: verse 57

“O’ Prophet, surely We have sent you as a witness and as a bearer of good news and as a Warner, and as one inviting to God by His permission, and as a light-giving torch.”  Chapter 33: verses 45 & 46

“Certainly you have in the Apostle of God an excellent exemplar, in him who hopes in God and the latter (judgment) day, and remembers God much.” Chapter 33: verse 21

“The Prophet has greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves,” Chapter 33: verse six.

 “And We have sent you not but as a mercy to the worlds.” Chapter 21: verse 107

“Say: Obey God and the Apostle,” Chapter 3: verse 32.

“O’ you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak to one another, lest your deeds become null while you do not perceive. Surely, those who lower their voices before God’s Apostle are the ones whose hearts have been tested for piety;” Chapter 49: verses 2, 3.

Prophet Muhammad measured up to the highest standard divinely laid for him. Historians, philosophers, students of world religions, and world leaders have nothing but glowing praise for his noble personality, as well as his spiritual and temporal accomplishments. 

Thus, it is clear that giving the utmost respect, bestowing the highest honor, and holding the Prophet dearer than one’s own life is integral part of the faith of a Muslim. Naturally, non-Muslims who are not aware of this aspect of Islamic faith are surprised and confused at the strong emotional reaction of Muslims when Prophet Muhammad is portrayed in a negative light.

The Muslim Has A Sense Of Humour

By Sister Lobna

The Muslim has a sense of humour, which makes people like him. He mixes with them and jokes with them when it is appropriate to do so, without going to extremes or saying anything hurtful. Similarly, when he is serious, he does not go to extremes of harshness and strictness. His humour is within the limits of Islamic tolerance, and does not go beyond the bounds of truth.
This is the example of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and the Sahabah in their jokes and humour. It is reported that the Sahabah said to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam): "You are joking with us." He said, "But I never say anything but the truth." (Bukhari)

How The Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) And The Sahabah Used To Joke.......

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to joke, but he never said anything but the truth in his jokes. The Sahabah took the same approach to humour. There are many delightful reports about the jokes exchanged between the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and the Sahabah.
Among the stories related in the books of hadith and sirah is the report that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to joke with the small child of one of the Sahabah, a boy called Abu 'Umayr, who had a small bird he used to play with.
One day he saw the child looking sad, so he said, "Why do I see Abu 'Umayr looking sad?" The Sahabah told him, "The nughar [a small bird, like a sparrow - author] which he used to play with has died, O Messenger of Allah."
The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) began to gently joke with the child, saying, "O Abu Umayr, what happened to the nughayr?" [Nughayr: diminutive of nughar. - author. In Arabic, this is a play on words, because of the rhyme between the boy's name and that of the bird. - Translator. This story was reported in Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/149]

A man came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to ask him to give him a beast to ride. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) jokingly told him, I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride." He said, "O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), what will I do with the offspring of a she-camel?" The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "Are riding-camels born except from she-camels?" [Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi, with a sahih isnad.]

Imam Ahmad reported from Anas (radhiallahu `anhu) that there was a man from the desert people whose name was Zahir. He used to bring gifts from the desert to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), and in return the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) would provide him with whatever he needed when he went out to fight. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Zahir is our man of the desert, and we are his town-dwellers." The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) loved him very much, and he (Zahir) was an ugly man. One day the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) came to him whilst he was selling some goods. He embraced him from behind.
The man could not see him, so he said, "Let me go! Who is this?" Then he turned around and recognized the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), so he tried to move closer to him once he knew who it was. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) started to say, "Who will buy this slave?" Zahir said, "O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), you will find me unsellable." The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "But in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) you are not unsellable," or he said, "But in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) you are valuable."

An old woman came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and said: "O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) that I will enter Paradise." He said jokingly, "O Mother of So-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise." The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman, for Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) says: (We have created [their Companions] of special creation, and made them virgin-pure [and undefiled]) (Qur'an 56:35-36)." Reported by al-Tirmidhi, it is hasan because of the existence of corroborating reports.

One of the hadiths that reflects the Prophet's sense of humour and enjoyment of fun is the report that Ahmad gives ftom 'A'ishah who said: "I went out with the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) told the people, 'Go on ahead,' so they went ahead, then he said to me, 'Come, let us have a race.' So I raced with him, and I won. He let the matter rest until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people, 'Go on ahead,' so they went ahead. He said to me, 'Come, let us have a race.' So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said, 'This is for that."'

The Sahabah saw nothing wrong with joking or having fun, as they saw the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), their leader and teacher, occasionally doing so. The many delightful stories about their sense of humour reflect the easy-going nature of the first Islamic society, and how far removed it was from narrow-mindedness and gloom.

In al-Adab al-Mufrad, Bukhari reports from Bakr ibn 'Abdillah who said: "The Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam ) used to throw melon-rinds at one another, but when the matter was serious, they were the only true men."

This is moderate, Islamically acceptable humour, which does not go beyond the bounds of truth, or lessen the gravitas or manhood of a person. Rather, it serves its purpose of refreshing hearts and minds.
An example of the Sahabah's sense of humour, which made the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) laugh, is the report given by Imam Ahmad from Umm. Salamah (radhiallahu `anha). Abil Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu) went to do business in Busra, and with him were Nu'ayman and Suwaybit ibn Harmalah (radhiallahu `anhuma), both of whom had been present at Badr.
Suwaybit was in charge of food on the journey, and Nu'ayman said to him, "Feed me!" Suwaybit said, "Not until Abu Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu) comes." Nu'ayman was a fun-loving man with a sense of humour, so he went to some people who had brought livestock with them, and said, "Will you buy a sturdy Arab slave from me?" They said, "Yes." He said, "He has a big mouth, and he may tell you that he is a free man. If that means that you do not want to take him, then forget the matter, and do not cause trouble for me with him." They said, "No problem, we will buy him."
So they bought him for ten young she-camels. Nu'ayman brought the animals back, and told the people: "There he is!" Suwaybit said: "I am a free man!" They said, "He has already told us all about you," and put a rope around his neck and led him away. Then Abu Bakr came, and was told what had happened. He and his companions went and returned the animals and took Suwaybit back. They told the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) what had happened, and he and his Sahabah would laugh about the story for a year afterwards.

A Bedouin came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). He entered the mosque and left his camel in the courtyard. Some of his Companions said to Nu'ayman ibn 'Amr al-Ansari, who was known as al-Nu'ayman: "If you slaughter it, we will eat it, because we want to have some meat, and the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) will pay for it." So al-Nu'ayman slaughtered it.
Then the Bedouin came out and saw his saddle, so he shouted, "They have slaughtered my camel, O Muhammad!" The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) came out and asked: "Who did this?" They said, "Al-Nu'ayman." So he went looking for him, and found him at the home of Duba'ah bint al-Zubayr ibn 'Abdul Muttalib (radhiallahu `anha), where he had hidden in a ditch and covered himself with palm branches and leaves. A man pointed to where he was and said, loudly, "I have not seen him, O Messenger of Allah."
The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) brought him out of the ditch, and his face was dirty from where the leaves had fallen on him. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) asked him, "Why did you do that?" Al-Nu'ayrnan said: "The ones who told you where I was, O Messenger of Allah, are the same ones who told me to do it." The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) began wiping his face and laughing, then he paid the price of the slaughtered camel. [See Hayat As Sahabah, 3/154, 155]

There is no clearer indication than these and similar reports of the lightheartedness and sense of humour that Islam wants its followers to have. These qualities will make a person good-natured and likeable, which will enable him to win people's hearts. No one needs such characteristics more than the Muslim who seeks to call others to Islam.


The Month of Muharram

By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, "The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified."
These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared: "One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab."
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah.
In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.
Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam, they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.
In the Shariah of our Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the "sanctified months".
Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are specified below.
Fasting During the Month
The Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: 'The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.'
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl or voluntary fasts.
The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.
The Day of 'Ashurah'
Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named 'Ashurah'. According to the Holy Companion Ibn 'Abbas, Radi-Allahu anhu. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses), alayhis salam, and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "We are more closely rotated to Musa, alayhi salam, than you," and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of 'Ashura'. (Abu Dawood)
It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of 'Ashura' was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of 'Ashura' was made optional. Sayyidina 'Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha, has said:
"When the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of 'Ashura' and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of 'Ashura' was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it." (Sunan Abu Dawud)
However, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast on the day of 'Ashura' even after the fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory. Abdullah ibn Musa, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, preferred the fast of 'Ashura' on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of 'Ashura'. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of 'Ashura' is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and makes one entitled to a great reward.
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of 'Ashura' should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is that the Jews used to fast on the day of'Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of 'Ashura'.
Some traditions signify another feature of the day of 'Ashura. According to these traditions, one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.
What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashura.
Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions
However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to 'Ashura' that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these: This is the day on which Adam, alayhi salam, was created. This is the day when Ibrahim, alayhi salam, was born. This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam, alayhi salam. This is the day when Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath on the day of 'Ashura' will never get ill.
All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of 'Ashura'. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of 'Ashura' to the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of 'Ashura' cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of 'Ashura' was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.
On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that his martyrdom took place on the day of 'Ashura'.
Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.
Lamentations and Mourning
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying "Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon". A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them:
'He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.'(Sahih Bukhari)
All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab, Radi-Allahu anha, at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, "My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death." (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24)
It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.
This article was published on Saturday 28 January, 2006.

Jesus (AS) :Dead or Alive –Reply from Mubasher Ahmad

Assalamo Alaikum wa Rahmatullah:

I appreciate respected Syed Akhtar Sahib efforts to continue the discussion concerning the death of Hadhrat Isa bin Maryam (may peace be on him); but I am rather surprised at his attempt to discredit the use of rationality, intellect, Logic and historical facts. He appears to suggest that we should blindly accept whatever fantastic ideas we may want to believe while interpreting some verses of the Holy Quran and forget about the claim of the Holy Quran that Islam is the Deen of Nature (Fitrat). We are very well aware that Allah is All-Powerful and He can do whatever He wants to do. No one is denying the Power of All-Mighty; but we should not forget that Allah is All-Wise (al-Hakim) as well, and He has asked us repeatedly to use our rationality, wisdom, reasoning and faculty of understanding. Otherwise, there will be no difference between us and the Christians who want to win argument saying "The Bible says so!" The Hindus have their mythology, and if allow them the argument that God being All-Powerful can do whatever we can think of, then it will be easy for the Hindus to claim why then God cannot appear in the form of an Avatar, or allows the monkeys to help win a war. God is All-Powerful and All Mighty, but at the same time He has made His laws and he does not break His own Sunnah -- Sunnah-tul-Allah. For the living and the dead on the earth, He has declared His Laws not to be broken (77:25). There are more that 750 verses (ayaat) in the Holy Quran that most certainly and emphatically invite us to use the God-given mental abilities. He grants wisdom to whom He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom, has indeed been granted abundant good; and none would be reminded except those endowed with understanding  (Sura 2: ayat 269.) Thus Allah makes His commandments clear to you that you may understand (Sura 2:Ayat 242). Allah condemns the nonbelievers as those who do not use their rationality, their reasoning. Most of them do not use their understanding (Sura 5: Ayat 103) & (Sura 29: Ayat 64)

Instead of trying to properly understand the meanings of the Arabic words such as rafaâ (exaltation) and wafat(natural death) used  in the Holy Quran, we cannot kill a rational and logical arguments that are based on the use of the same word in other places in the Holy Quran. We have to use our intellect to understand the meaning of the word rafaâ in the light of the Quranic usage. It is evident that wherever the word rafaâ is used for human beings in the holy Quran, it always means exaltation of one's spiritual station-- achieving the nearness to Allah in the spiritual sense. Nowhere in the Holy Quran the word rafaâ is used for the uplifting of men with their physical bodies. Moreover, it is astonishing that the word tawaff  and its variations are used more than 20 times in the Holy Quran, and at every place it means death taking of one's soul out of one’s body, but when the same word is used for Isa bin Maryam (peace be on him) the translators try to give a different mean as if it means lifting up with the physical human body.

I am surprised that respected Syed Akhtar Sahib could not see the relevance of the Jews trying to defame Hadhrat Isa (peace be on him) and Allah frustrating their plans. The Jews wanted to see Jesus to be killed or crucified and thus proving that he was an accursed of God  and impostor according to their Scripture, but Allah saved him from being defamed in this humiliating manner, and exalted his spiritual station. And they (the Jews) planned, and Allah also planned; and Allah is the best of the planners. (Sura 3: Verse 54) That’s why Allah had promised to Hadhrat Isa bin Maryam (peace be on him) that he will die a natural death and then will be exalted. When Allah said, O Jesus, I will cause you to die and will exalt you to Myself, and will clear you from the charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow you above those who disbelieve (i.e., the Jews), until the day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ. (Sura 3: Verses 55).

Here, most clearly the natural occurring of Jesus being caused to die a natural death is mentioned in the Holy Quran before his exaltation. There is no need to change the Holy Quran by trying to change the sequence of events that are very clearly and emphatically stated in the Holy Quran.

How does Allah save His prophets and Messengers when their enemies try to kill them? Not by lifting them up in the sky with their physical bodies. There was time when the kuffar of Mecca wanted to kill our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be on him). How did Allah save him in the cave of Thur ?  Did Allah pick him up physically, or did He plan to save him? Allah let a spider make a web in the mouth of the cave and a bird lay eggs in its nest before the arrival of the nonbelievers at the mouth of the cave of Thur. The nonbelievers had their vicious plans to catch, kill him the Prophet and thus to defame him, but Allah had His a better than theirs to save him in an amazing manner.

It is very strange that Almighty and All-Wise Allah should plan and save His most beloved Messenger keeping him on the earth, but when the life of Isa bin Maryam was in danger, He lifted him up to the sky with his physical body as if Allah could not think any other way to save His prophet!

Allah sends a prophet with a specific mission. By saving his life, Allah allows him to achieve his mission. That’s why he saved our master Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be on him). If Jesus was sent to Bani Israel as their Messiah with a mission, then the question arises what happened to the completion of his mission if Allah decided to pick him up? Then most certainly the very mission for which he was sent by Allah to the Children of Israel could have failed! It is hard to believe that Allah would abandon His own mission given to a prophet.

I am glad to note that respected Syed Akhtar Sahib mentions the Martyrs being kept alive. I did not deny that fact that the Martyrs should not be called as dead. As a matter of fact I made appoint that the Martyrs are alive but still their physical bodies are most certainly buried in the graves here on the earth. If the body of Jesus is buried in the earth like those of the Martyrs, then we should not have any problem in accepting the fact that he too is alive like them.

Similarly, respected Syed Akhtar sahib did not deny the fact that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) saw some of the prophets, namely Adam, Idris, Yahya, Mosa and Ibrahim (peace be on them all) along with Jesus. We all know that the bodies of all those prophets of Allah are buried in the earth. Same is the case of Jesus. His body is buried in the earth, and he is alive among other prophets who are alive as the Prophet saw them alive and even talked with some.

Respected  Syed Akhtar sahib asserts that Jesus is where Allah has ordained him to be. It is not within our knowledge, or even our business to know that. But Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) has informed us exactly where Jesus is in the heavens. He is with Adam, Abraham, Moses and Yahya (peace be on them all) and all other prophets who have left their mortal bodies in the earth and are in heavens near Allah. Jesus is no exception.

Respected Syed Sahib mentions the case of the godly man in the court of Prophet Solomon who brought the actual physical throne of Queen Bilquis from her kingdom from hundred of miles in the blink of an eye! It again depends on the translator how the Arabic phrases are understood. In the blink of and an eye does not mean within one-second. As a proverbial use, this phrase is used to mean quickly faster than one may expect. In the same context, the earlier verses of Sura Al-Namal show that mutual negotiations between the Queen of Saba (modern day Yemen ) and Hadhrat Solomon were going on. Hadhrat Solomon who was a king of Palestine sent her a letter, and the Queen consults with her Chiefs, and decides to send her envoys to Hadhrat Solomon with gifts. Those envoys were sent back to the Queen with a message from Hadhrat Solomon (peace be on him). Keeping the distances in mind, and also the modes of transportation used, it would be easy to imagine that in the blink of an eye means the fastest possible way.

There are some other supernatural phenomenon mentioned by respected Syed Sahib and each one of them deserves a separate discussion to understand them properly. Therefore, at present I suggest we should limit our discussion to the verses and the historical events that concern the life and death of Hadhrat Isa bin Maryam (peace be on him).

Discussing verse 4:159, respected Syed  Akhtar sahib conveniently says that it refers to two different events and he claims that one event will happen in future at Jesus’s second appearance from occultation. Before proceeding any further, may I ask where in the Holy  Quran the second appearance of the same Jesus from his occultation is mentioned? I shall be much obliged if respected Syed sahib would kindly refer to the name of the Sura and the verse number!

Requesting your prayers,
Mubasher Ahmad 

Israel's first Muslim minister sworn into office

Mon Jan 29, 2:58 PM ET
Israel's first Muslim cabinet minister was sworn in by parliament on Monday after a weeks-long battle over his nomination that drew fire from far-right parties as well as Arab lawmakers.
The parliamentary confirmation was expected after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet voted on Sunday to make Galeb Magadla of Israel's Labour party a minister without portfolio.
"I am certain that minister Galeb Magadla will be a place to turn to help deal with the gaps between the Arab and Jewish sectors," said Defense Minister and Labour party leader Amir Peretz.
Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's population and have long complained of being treated like second-class citizens and about a paucity of government funds for their towns and villages.
"The first step has been taken and this has given Israeli Arabs a feeling of belonging," Magadla told Army Radio on Sunday.
But several Muslim lawmakers spoke out against his nomination, saying Magadla would only represent his party's ideology and not the entire Arab population.
Others said he was joining a government that was not interested in making peace with its Arab neighbors.
Israeli officials have denied any policy of discrimination against the country's Arab citizens, saying they enjoyed more political freedom in Israel than in anywhere in the Muslim world and had a strong representation in parliament.
Magadla was nominated by the Labour Party for a ministerial post after one of its members quit the cabinet in protest at the addition of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction to Olmert's coalition government in October.
Israeli media said Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu was the only cabinet member to vote against the appointment.
In 2001, an Israeli Druze became the first non-Jewish member of the cabinet, serving as a minister without portfolio.
Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rethinking America's Muslim Youth

By Dr. Omar Afzal
[Dr. Omar Afzal obtained his PhD in Linguistics from Cornell University, M. Lit (Linguistics) from Delhi University, M.A. (English) from Aligarh Muslim University, and Alim (Islamic and Arabic Studies) from IHIS Rampur.  Dr. Afzal is an outstanding linguist who speaks, reads, and writes many languages from Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. He has expertise in Islamic law, Islamic History, Contemporary Islamic movements, Islamic calendar, and Modern Islamic Thought. For twenty-six years he worked at Cornell University. He supervised several research projects leading to PhD and Master degrees. He is a prolific writer, editor of the Message, and a member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy. He has also been the Chairman of the Center for Research and Communication, and the Committee for Crescent Observation International. 
Islamic history is replete with young role models who carried the torch of light for the coming generations. Muslim youth should read the lives of Yusuf (AS), Mus'ab b. Umair, Usama bin Zaid, Muhammad bin Qasim, Musa bin Nusair, etc. How in their young age they learned what being a Muslim meant, and how a combination of profound belief and impeccable character helped them bring a sea of change in the lives of others around them. What motivated these beacons of light to assume the leadership role was their love of Allah and dedication to His cause.
The Qur'an has given very fine details of Yusuf’s (AS) story. Youth in America are getting excessive doses of violence, sex, drugs, and unethical behavior not only from the visual media, chat rooms, and video games, but also from peer networks, and the society is reeling under their onslaught. Yusuf (AS) shows the Muslim youth, especially in America how to shun the carnal temptations and sexual advances often encountered in classrooms and work places. He was betrayed by his older brothers, rescued to a royal household, and enticed by the lady of the house. He was thrown into a prison for not obeying her wishes. He told other inmates how he believed in a God quite distinct from those worshipped by others. He rose to the highest rank of the kingdom for his management skills, and forgave his brothers when they came begging for help. Remember what the ladies in Egypt said about his character: “We know no evil in him.” It is your unblemished character like Yusuf that will help you come out unscathed in the worst turbulence. Like Yusuf (AS), learn that all humans may fall to the lure and enticements: “I do not absolve myself: Human hearts succumbs to evil. Unless my Lord bestows His mercy.” Yusuf had a prayer to help him get clear of the seduction by a host of charming ladies: “(O Allah) unless You turn away their trap from me I should feel inclined towards them.” He opted for a harsh prison life to succumbing to the evil designs of the royal ladies only because Allah required all of us to be chaste.
Ali (RA) was very young when he accepted Islam. He was assigned the task of arranging for a feast for the elders of the tribe. The strategy was to feed them first and then introduce them to Islam. Ali remained in the forefront all his life despite extreme poverty and lack of resources. He did not worry about his own life in difficult circumstances. When the Messenger (PBUH) asked him to occupy his bed for the night he left Makkah for Medinah, Ali was fully aware of the danger. The enemies had decided to kill the Messenger. Sleeping in his bed meant almost certain death, but he was willing to take the risk.
Mus'ab b. Umair was a handsome young man, son of rich parents, who enjoyed all the comforts of a wealthy life. Islam made so deep an impression on him that he abandoned the advantages of his social position and comforts. Those who saw him in earlier days of his youth could not believe the depth of his commitment to Allah that made him go through the rigors of hunger and poverty. It was he who was deputed by the Messenger (PBUH) to go to Medinah add teach Islam to the newly converts of Aws and Khazraj.
Usama b. Zaid was the son of the Messenger’s freed slave. Despite his tender age he tried to be enlisted in the Muslim army for the crucial battle of Uhud but was turned back. Later the Messenger (PBUH) appointed him to lead the first Islamic army to challenge the Byzantine Empire, and it was his conquest of Syria which opened the gates for the Muslims to reach outside the Arabian Peninsula. Rafi’ b. Khudaij was another young kid who tried to look taller and was given the chance to participate in the most crucial battle of Islamic history.
Muhammad b. Qasim led the Muslim army to India’s gateway – Sind when he was only 17 years old. He left his indelible impression on the history of Sind.
Musa b. Nusair entered a career of successful conquests in N. Africa. He conquered Spain and established the Islamic rule there.
Select your role model and look for the details in their life pattern. You will not be disappointed and will not feel the need to do what your peers are doing for fun, but what is leading to a social catastrophe.
Not a Role Model
In Justice A.M. Kennedy’s words, “The real world of school discipline is a rough and tumble place where students practice newly learned vulgarities, erupt with anger, tease and embarrass each other, share offensive notes, flirt, push and shove in the halls, grab and offend.” Parents find themselves in a losing battle against the outrageous tendencies among the juvenile offenders. The Muslim parents face a similar trauma, and feel helpless when they observe their youth drifting away and disappearing in the melting pot. The community elders are puzzled when they find the Muslim youth shunning the activities where their presence was taken for granted in pre-teen years.
All of us agree that youthful behavior has markedly deteriorated in recent year, and there are far fewer adults around to influence youngsters. As a result, violence on TV screen and images on video games have become role models instead of older friends and relatives. Adolescence is time for children to become adults, and part of what they have to do in the new space they learn by testing their limits. Adults are their teachers, but other youths are their testers. For this generation, the lack of adult guidance and supervision is a very big issue. Reduced supervision stems not only from both parents working outside of the home; it is also because relatives and good neighbors are away as well. A massive national survey of 90,000 students by National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health – a youth research and advocacy group was released on June 3, 1999. It reveals that the more teens feel connected to and comfortable with parents, school and other adults, the less likely they will commit violence, use illegal substance and become sexually active. The study identifies a battery of conditions and circumstances that increase chances of risk behavior. It also underlines the “protective factors” that can counter delinquency – mainly health relationships with parents and other adults.
Most Muslim communities either lack meaningful programs for youth or have narrowed their sphere of activities to “discussion groups,” lectures on religious topics, etc. After years of listening to the same jingles the youth feel bored and neglected. Their initial protest turns into open hostility and complete alienation from community sponsored programs. Often they live a dual life: an “Islamic” face when they interact with other Muslims, attend Muslim camps and conferences, or take responsibilities at the local mosque. They would do it in their own self-interest: keep their parents happy. With peers in school and college away from the watchful eyes, they are as wild and unrestrained as other American youth.
Here are a few tips for the Muslim parents and community elders if they wish to minimize the impact of “peer world” on the Muslim adolescents and unmarried adults. It is our duty to keep them attached to the Muslim community through their active participation.
1. Watch for the trouble spots: Your son or daughter may be doing well in school or college, getting good grades, and rave reviews, but appears obsessed with something or someone. Long telephone calls, reclusive, avoiding behavior, and excuses to stay out, especially at odd hours, etc. should alert you.
2. Don’t panic: Talk to them. Instead of rebuking, or putting undue restrictions, emphasize the values they had learned earlier. How could they be better off by living Islam in this life, and how their whimsical decisions impact their life later. Select the correct language for the issue to be tackled. Cover the areas of decision-making and negotiation not previously considered.
3. Avoid stigmatization: Be sensitive to their feelings. Harsh words against them, their “friends” or nit-picking on innocent mistakes will lead to cementing their rebellious tendencies. Often boredom and lack of interesting alternatives lead our youth to explore other avenues.
4. Establish underlying framework for action: Initiate discussions, and let them identify priorities and set pilot projects, instead of leading them by nose and imposing a set plan of activities.
5. Win acceptance for the community programs: Invite their participation, instead of imposing a cut and dry plan prepared by the “elders.” Participatory approach is far more effective than interventionist strategy.
6. Use peer educators to gain access into smaller groups otherwise not accessible. Very few among the elders of the community have skills to attract the youth. They are seen as symbols of authority and power. Peer educators have a better chance to pull in the disenchanted.
7. Use influential personalities as role models: Expand from the idea of peer educators. Some communities have successfully used well-known personalities to influence youth behavior.
8. Develop services that respond to the social needs and political environment of the community being targeted. Youth are full of energy. Don’t kill their interest and enthusiasm by long boring meetings where they just sit and listen week after week.
Federal, state, and county funds are available to start various programs for the youth. By offering support to churches, synagogues, and other religious entities that help fight social ills, these government programs are simply trying to expand the types and number of resources that can be brought to bear on the social problems in America. Muslim youth may prove an extremely valuable asset if their energies are channeled properly. 
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