Tag Archives: faith

Black = White 

I recently had the pleasure of joining The Hate Busters in NYC, a new initiative designed to counter negativity and media misrepresentation, by spreading the loving message of Islam, directly from the sources.

Hate Buster truck #2 carried the statement of the Prophet Muhammad, where he said:

“A White has no superiority over a Black, nor does a Black have any superiority over a White, except by piety and good deeds.”

On Broadway in midtown Manhattan, the response on the street was amazing, with many stopping by and expressing their happiness and agreement with both the message and our mission.

It was great engaging with so many people, seeing their bright smiles and hearing their touching and powerful words of support. One woman asked if she could hug me. Her tight embrace wordlessly conveyed solidarity and gratitude.

The most beautiful part of the day for me though, was when we took a break and went to the mosque a few blocks away, for the afternoon prayer.

I joined other women who were there to pray as well. We stood jointly – foot to foot, shoulder to shoulder, and we performed the prayer as one unit – as sisters. Within our prayer was the manifestation of the statement of the Prophet Muhammad we had been sharing with the public. The very fruit of the teachings of Islam.

I saw the beauty of the varying hues of our hands, side by side on the carpet as we lowered our heads down to the floor before our Maker, the One who is truly superior to all; Who created us as equals, and made us vary so that we may know one another.  The richness of our diversity only enhanced our connection to one another and increased our devotion to the One, who through His supreme knowledge and wisdom gave us our unique characteristics.

After we completed the prayer, we greeted each other with wide smiles and loving handshakes. This is a gift to us from our Creator, to be able to see the beauty and goodness in each other. To feel genuine love for people we’ve never met. Women, whose hearts, like mine, desire the pleasure of our Lord, and soften with gratitude, humility and love of Him.

Islam broadened my horizons and enriched my life in so many ways. The pleasure of being part of such a diverse group is something I had never experienced prior to my Islam. I consider this expansion to be one of the many blessings I have since received.

It’s amazing that 1400 years ago, the cure for racism was implemented amongst the Muslims and that it can be eradicated from anyone who truly loves God and chooses to submit themselves to Him today, by the same means.

I hope the fact that these words were uttered by the prophet Muhammad makes many people think about him and see what a loving, equitable human being he truly was and the value Islam has brought to humanity.

lookingatsign

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The Speed Limit is 30mph, You’ve Got 426 hp. What Do You Do?

I love fast cars and I like driving.

Fast.

I once drove to Boston from New York,  pushing 95 mph on the interstates.

To me then, the speed limit was just a hindrance preventing me from getting there without wasting any time. Worse, it prevented me from experiencing the glory of the horsepower under my hood.

I slowed down only to avoid a speeding ticket. I didn’t think much about the inherent value of the restrictions on speed.

Now I understand (and I’d like to think that most people do) that the rules of the road are in place not to hinder us, but for our general safety.

If I had always raced around at 95 mph, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this. I could have taken other lives along with my own.

There are good reasons for the limits chosen. At 40 mph the likelihood of pedestrian death is high, whereas at 30 mph the likelihood of survival is high.*

We speed lovers might not be able to drive as fast as we want, but the benefit obviously outweighs our small sacrifice.

When it comes to people who don’t understand (or don’t care about) the wisdom behind regulations and would not implement them, law enforcement helps ensure public safety by instilling the fear of “being caught”, as well as with the ensuing punishments levied on those who are.

We all follow a plethora of rules and social conventions.

Some are law, some are unspoken.

It is impossible not to.

For some reason though, a lot of emphasis is put on rules that exist in Islam and many people think of it as “a religion of dos and don’ts”.

Recently, a family member of mine explained to me her theory that my choosing Islam must have had something to do with an unconscious desire for rules, to create order in what she perceived as a reckless life. (She couldn’t have been more wrong of course!)

The thing that strikes me here, is not so much her idea that I would somehow crave a life of strictly adhering to rules, (while I spent a good portion of my life scoffing at both laws and social conventions) but the overarching idea that Islam is like that: a religion whose identifying quality is law and order…

While in reality, the primary quality of Islam is monotheism: there is nothing worthy of worship except the One God, the Creator of everything.

We don’t see it as a religion of rules at all.

We see it as a message from our Merciful Creator, informing us about Him. Through it, we learn who He is, why He made us and why we are on Earth.

It’s hope and peace for the human soul. A direct line of communication with our Maker.

Happiness.

Islam, for the Muslim, provides a map that leads directly back to Him,

helping us navigate this worldly life, safely and easily.

The mother who forbids her child from touching a hot pot, is only concerned for the child’s safety and wellbeing. She is teaching him intelligence; he can follow his mother’s guidance and avoid a trip to the burn unit.

If the child disobeys, no one will say, “He was so smart for ignoring his mother and finding out on his own, that hot pots burn.”

Similarly, The One who created us, provided us with guidance in the life that He created. Following this guidance is intelligence.

Without guidance from the One who designed life,  living would be a game of trial and error. Since we have only one short chance at it, it’s best to follow the instructions because, there are no do-overs.

We are glad we haven’t been left to flounder about in darkness and ignorance without any guidance.

Every directive in Islam is for our own benefit, sort of like the speed limits, but with much deeper wisdom.

For a Muslim, adhering strictly to them is not a hindrance, but a blessing one strives for.

Furthermore, following the directives in Islam is like the fruit and proof of faith, not what the faith is built on. The basis of Islam is its establishment and maintenance in the heart, facilitated in part by institutions, such as regular prayer and fasting.

As I explained in another post, Islam means submission to the will of the Creator. Once a person believes and Has faith and love for God, they truly desire to submit their will to His as much as they can.

The submission of the heart must come first, making the submission of the limbs easy and a desirable goal one strives for daily.

The wife of the prophet Muhammad, Aisha – a scholar in her own right – explained, that the first parts of the Quran to be revealed were the chapters which deal with fundamental knowledge of God, the purpose of life, and the hereafter. She went on to say, that if legal injunctions had come first, the people would have refused and said that they would never stop doing the things they had been accustomed to; such as drinking alcohol and being promiscuous.**

So, it makes no sense to approach Islam by way of its rules and regulations.

The first thing to look at is the concept of God. The Quran is very clear about who He is, describing His many beautiful names and attributes. Here are some examples from the Quran:

“All Praise belongs to God, Lord of all the worlds, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful, Owner and Sovereign of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, You alone we ask for Help. Show us the straight way…” [Quran 1:2-6]

“Say, He is God, the One and only. Allah; The Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And there is nothing similar to Him.” [Quran 1:1-4]

“And We (God) did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them aimlessly (without purpose). That is the assumption of those who disbelieve ” [Quran 38:27]

So, first and foremost, we learn about the Creator. The more we know about Him, the more we love Him. We learn about why He created us and what He is pleased with for us. We learn that this life on Earth is just a stop on our way back to Him – That it is merely a test, one we took on ourselves. The best way to get through it, is to keep God on our minds. To live and act with consciousness of Him; to follow His map.

Do we ever break the speed limit?

Of course we do.

Our Maker knows our weakness and does not expect perfection, but the people who have the best standing with Him, are the ones who, when they make a mistake, they return to Him in repentance, looking for His help and longing for closeness to Him.

We trust the judgement of the One who created humankind and the world we live in. The One who created life, knows better how to successfully navigate through it.

In addition to that, we look forward hopefully, to a reward from Him, beyond our wildest dreams.

When we forget God and ignore the assistance He has lovingly provided us – when we say, “No thanks, I choose to do whatever I want, regardless of the purpose I was created for.” – Then, we no longer qualify for the prize that comes from completing the test successfully.

It’s our choice.

So, look beyond the superficial.

Every human being has been given freedom. Free will. You are always free to choose. You can speed, or obey the limits. It’s up to you.

Even as a Muslim, one has free choice. There are just some basics which enter a person into the fold of Islam. The most important is the testimony of faith. After that, is the Prayer. Those are the basic necessities that make someone a Muslim.

Here’s another analogy to help you put yourself into our shoes: If your local government offered $100,000 cash for going five years without any speeding tickets, wouldn’t you feel affection for those in power? Wouldn’t you obey the speed limit at all times and seek that reward? Through the process, you might even discover naturally, that obeying the speed limit is also the wise and safer thing to do. Many would strive for that $100,000.

That is why  when people choose Islam and they really believe in it, they self regulate. They try very hard, in public and in private, to be the best they can be. Dutiful citizens, family members and friends.

Now, even I strive to obey the speed limit.

_____________________________________________________

*http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-on-foot/2012/05/how-a-car-s-speed-affects-the-chance-a-struck-pedestrian-survives-15470.html

http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

**The narration is in Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 515

My Baby and the Wolves

My 8 year old daughter was explaining to me, while she read an article for homework, about the astonishing variety of species of catfish, and just how unbelievable it is, that a bullfrog tadpole can take three years to mature…

I watched her radiant face and listened to her voice, elevated with excitement,

but I could hardly pay attention.

It started when I began thinking about how much she loves science and I thought about how she may choose to study some type of biology after high school.

But then, the current events began pushing their way into my thoughts.

What will the world be like for her?

I wonder if it will be her generation that the prophet Muhammad talked about, when he said,

“There will come upon the people a time when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot embers.” (Tirmidhi)

Ouch.

Today there are so many people, from so many directions, out to destroy Islam.

We have these crazy terrorists who, by their horrific acts of violence, defile Islam. They add fuel to the fire and help grow and multiply the very things they claim to want to ‘avenge’.

We’ve got Christian missionaries, with their very creepy version of Islam that they tote around, event to event, teaching leaders and pastors about ‘Islam’; only – they are lying through their teeth – Effectively convincing congregation after congregation, that Islam is something totally unlike it really is.

Then you’ve got the political pundits – demonizing Islam and Muslims is merely a means to their end. I and my children’s lives, ‘collateral damage’ in the race to gain (or rather maintain) control of a region.

But the people staring blankly, while the blue light of the TV dances over their frozen faces, don’t know any better; all they know is:

they just hate Islam.

They just hate me; my baby with her innocent face and mind alive with curiosity about so many wonderful things…

I wonder, will she be like me?

Sometimes I feel like a ninja, thwarting attack after attack. For every post on Facebook I make, with texts from the Quran, or the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, to show how good, beautiful, and tolerant Islam encourages people to be,

I am attacked as if by wolves.

Called names –

and regularly invited to worship Jesus instead of my Creator.

But I have surety in my heart and in my mind. I ask God to give me strength, patience and kindness – To act in the way He instructed me:

 “Many of the followers of previous books wish that they could turn you back into disbelievers after you have believed” – “but pardon and forgive.” (Quran 2:109)

and

Bear patiently what they say.” (20:130 and 50:39)

I know all my husband and I can do is try to raise our babies the best we can, to pray for them, and to inculcate in them, this forgiveness and patience.

No matter what the climate, there will always be trials and tribulations of one sort or another. My concern for my children, is that they hold on to those burning embers; that they cling to Islam and never let go, even for a second.

Even if it costs them everything else.

No amount of suffering could ever make letting go, worth it.

I’d rather my child succumb to the wolves while huddled over her Islam – protecting it with her life – than to let it go and walk away with the pack. Because that would truly be losing everything.

So, while I fantasize about my intelligent daughter, filled with energy, a marine biologist, out on a mission in a blue sea with a smile on her face, the sun reflecting off the water and lighting her eyes, so filled with life – While I dream about her living without a care in the world beside her passion; I know – well, at least I fear – that her life will be far from easy.

Our feet must be planted firmly to withstand the currents.

To withstand the wolves.

Muslim Man Gives Needy Bus Rider The Shoes Off His Feet

“Muslim Man Gives Needy Bus Rider The Shoes Off His Feet And Walks Home Barefoot — Because There Is Good In The World”

This is the title of an article on the Huffington Post that recently has stirred up quite a frenzy of comments.

Some commentators were moved by the article such that it restored their faith in the goodness of humanity, while others were filled with anger and slung hateful accusations.

The good reactions were because a man gave up his shoes, in kindness.

The hate and anger? Because he was a Muslim.

When I read the article I understand the man’s actions and that his choice to give someone his shoes and walk home barefoot was due to his Islam.

The Quran and the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad readily encourage doing good deeds. We are encouraged to help the needy and downtrodden, to plant vegetation that could provide food for people and animals, to smile and be kind to others, to remove obstacles that could cause harm from the roads*…

Now, that’s not to say someone who is not Muslim would not do the same exact benevolent act. Of course, people from all faiths and with no faith, do good deeds.

Most of the commentators who were offended by the article objected that it was mentioned that this man was Muslim. Some even displayed their own good deeds as proof that you don’t need Islam, or even religion to be kind and care for humanity.

To a Muslim though, I would argue that it’s obvious why his religion was mentioned.

First, and this may be the reason behind the Huffington post’s choice, is because it is true that when a Muslim does an atrocious act, the religion is always mentioned (even though the act is most often unrelated).

If a Christian bombs an abortion clinic, or the World Trade tower, his religion is not overtly mentioned, yet if Muslims do it, (even if they were partaking in prostitutes and alcohol the night before, as was reported about the 9/11 hijackers** – something so far removed from Islam that the Prophet muhammad said that while a Muslim engages in an adulterous act, they are not a believer, and their faith does not return to them unless they repent***)

It is always made known that the perpetrators were Muslim.

I wonder if articles about Muslims doing terrible things ever get so many complaints about the fact their religion was mentioned. I don’t think it happens to the degree it happened here, if at all.

And that’s really not fair, because giving up one’s shoes for a needy person who has none, is directly related to and highly encouraged in Islam, while killing innocent people is strictly forbidden, even during war****.

Let me reiterate: killing civilians- noncombatants- women, children, the elderly, is forbidden to those who believe in Islam, even during war declared between two valid states.

So why is it okay to relate murder and violence with Islam, but not acts of kindness?

Because to a large degree the public mind has begun to relate atrocity, violence, hate and uncivilized behavior with Islam.

For people like me, this is deeply disconcerting. We truly have an uphill struggle when it comes to explaining the truth about Islam when so many people already think they know based on media misrepresentation.

A large portion of comments on this article disregarded the man’s kind act in giving away his own shoes, walking home barefoot in the rain and joked that there must have been bombs in them…. really?

I was so happy to see this article. It’s a relief, a breath of fresh air for those of us who know what Islam really is.

This is the first time that I have seen it actually represented correctly in the media.

You can read the Huffington post article below. I am interested in your thoughts about it as well as the comments.

Below that you’ll find a link discussing the very un-Islamic behavior of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, followed by an article outlining some of the rules of war in Islam. You’ll find that the rules are much more strictly merciful than probably any military that exists today, including our own.

 

Read the article here:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5193093?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

*Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said: “Iman (faith) has more than 70 branches. The most excellent among these branches is the saying of “Laa ilaaha ill Allah” (there is no God but The One God), and the smallest branch is to remove an obstacle from the road. And Haya (modesty) is an important branch of Iman.” (Sahih Muslim)

Charity/smiling is charity: http://www.islamawareness.net/Hadith/htopic_charity.html

**9/11 hijackers: http://www.911myths.com/index.php/Atta,_alcohol,_strip_clubs_and_drugs

***Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 8.800B, Narrated Ikrima from Ibn Abbas

God’s Apostle Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said, “When a slave (of God) commits illegal sexual intercourse, he is not a believer at the time of committing it; and if he steals, he is not a believer at the time of stealing; and if he takes intoxicants, he is not a believer at the time of taking it; and he is not a believer when he commits a murder.”‘Ikrima said: I asked Ibn Abbas, “How is faith taken away from him?” He said, Like this,” by clasping his hands and then separating them, and added, “But if he repents, faith returns to him like this,” by clasping his hands again.

**** Military jurisprudence in Islam:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_military_jurisprudence