Tag Archives: god

Kindness and Forgiveness are Better Than Charity….

I read this verse today and I felt compelled to share it with you. It’s a small example of the way Islam cultivates the individual.

We are told that it is better to speak kind words and to forgive others than it is to “help” them with charity, financial or otherwise, if we are then going to follow it up with reminders of our “favor”, or otherwise harm the person we supposedly “helped”.

In this beautiful verse, God says:

“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And God is Free of need and Forbearing.” (Quran 2:263)

Do you know of anyone who has helped someone out, then after that, never let them forget it?

We as Muslims must be genuine in our actions and we do good, for God’s sake alone. So if we are to help anyone, it should be for the pleasure of God, knowing that He never allows the reward for good to be lost, nor does He allow our sincere deeds go to waste.

In that case, we would never expect even appreciation from those we help, but only appreciation from God Himself. And He has told us here that He is free of need, and lenient and patient. Indicating that it is ridiculous to think He needs us to do acts of charity, rather we do them for the good of our own souls.

We’ve also been instructed in the Quran:

“We feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.” (Quran 76:9)

This is selfish selflessness. We are doing good, treating others well, spreading kindness and charity with the hope that our Maker will be pleased with us.

That’s what I call a win win situation.

If you read the Quran you will find all kinds of beautiful instructions, the intricacy of which are astounding. Our character is cultivated through these injunctions, especially when coupled with the stories and examples of the prophets present within its pages.

What a blessing.

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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

For My Mom – I Remember

Dear Mom,

I remember you digging in the garden and pulling up the weeds.  The summer heat was heavy and enveloping. Cicadas sang behind you in the woods. I remember your clothes and your limbs and the profile of your face as you worked.

I remember you standing in front of the stove at dusk, the light of the hood illuminating you as you cut onions. I stood nearby watching.

You made raw potatoes and burnt pasta and baby bell peppers so special, and you often called us to taste them, or to test the pasta as it boiled.

I remember you rubbing my back at night to help me fall asleep. How did you find the time?

I remember how you made my tummy feel better when it ached. When I was sick, you soothed me, bringing me soup, and crackers, and apple juice in my favorite cup.

I remember how tolerant you were of me when I wanted to stay home with you, so I feigned illness, for a little too many days –

and how tolerant you were on so many occasions, and in so many moments in which, I realize now, must have really tried your patience… but I was so blind.

You picked me up, you dropped me off. You fed my friends and you drove them too.

Your food was always the best.

You arranged parties, and baked cakes, and you sewed costumes for us that were exactly what we wanted.

You prepared fruit and sandwiches and lemonade in the early morning, when the sun had barely risen – to take all four of us on the ferry to play on the beach all day. You’d call us to eat, handing us plums and pouring our drinks and watching us every time we called you,”look mommy!”

I remember you calling us to a colander filled with juicy strawberries. Sometimes you added a tub of delightful cream for us to slather them in, before we gobbled them up and ran off… back to our ‘important business’ of having fun.

And the days when you called us, because you had cut open the most delicious pear. I remember the juices running down your beautiful, tanned wrists. You cut and you cut, and you shared that pear.

You gave away the most ripe, delectable pear… to us.

After we devoured its sweetness, we ran off to our important business… not realizing there was nothing more important than you…

I remember how whatever I wanted, managed to appear in my life. How you stayed awake until the wee hours of morning, wrapping, and preparing so many different things on so many nights. For us.

I remember coming downstairs and breakfast was ready. An egg in a special cup, or pancakes shaped like our names. You were there at the stove and I remember just sitting down and eating,

telling you my dreams.

Every joy, accomplishment, or fantasy I shared with you, even if I had brushed my teeth and they were so smooth I had to show you, or I finished a book and wanted to tell you all about it,

you always listened.

You made me feel what I did was great, that I was great. You always made me feel good about myself and what I did. I don’t remember you ever stopping me short, or seeming uninterested or annoyed, even though I am sure now, that you were at times… but you never, ever showed it.

I remember how you wanted to give me every opportunity.

The beautiful memories seem endless.

And before all that, you had held me in your arms when I knew nothing but your scent, and you carried me and you comforted me when I cried. You got up in the middle of the night so often, but you weren’t even counting.

Even when you were sick you still cared for me. I don’t think I ever heard you complain of your pain… You never even asked for help.

And before all that, you nurtured and nourished me in your womb.

For that alone, I am forever indebted.

My religion teaches me that if I want paradise, it lies at your feet…

But I know I am undeserving,

inadequate in my appreciation, my love, my respect and honor for you. I’ve never done enough.

Please forgive me,

for every time I turned away, barely noticing your love and care.

For every time I didn’t thank you. For every selfish desire I fulfilled, even if it meant disobeying you. For every worried moment you ever had because of me. For the times I came home late, for the times I didn’t call.

For the time my classmate disrespected you and I was embarrassed of you, when I should have been ashamed of him.

For not putting YOU first, Because you deserve to be first.

No one on earth is more worthy of my love and companionship and honor than you. Yet even still, now that I know this, I still fall short.

So I pray that God guides me and helps me be the daughter you deserve. I pray that somehow, I can provide you with some happiness and joy even more than all the happiness and joy I have been able to have, because of you.

I pray that I can be the one to help make your life easier and that when you get older, I can be the one to be there to care for you.  I pray for God’s Mercy on you and His Love, as you were so merciful and loving towards me, when I was small, and as you are now.

I pray I can be even a fraction of the woman you are.

May God accept my prayers. Ameen!

Yours Always,

Danielle

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

Churches have bells, We have this:

Just as Christians use bells to call worshippers, in Islam, we have the Athan: the call to prayer.

The first time I heard it, I was overseas, in a territory under military occupation. I was there as an international observer and humanitarian volunteer. In that stressful place, with so much uncertainty, fear and sadness… The sound of this hopeful call, continued to resound and reverberate, five times each day… Sometimes in the stillness and quiet of desolate, evacuated, dangerous streets… Sometimes while shots and tank cannons blasted in the distance.

Somehow this call touched me, though at the time I didn’t even know what it really was. Its sound transported me to an environment serene and tranquil, in spite of the reality on the ground. When I heard it then, I couldn’t believe anyone could talk during it and not listen to its exquisite beauty…

I love it even more now, knowing its meaning: It’s a call to all humanity, a reminder that there is One transcendent, greater than the greatest our minds can imagine. Greater than exists in creation. It calls us to acknowledge our Maker, in gratitude. It reminds us, that true success is attained only through that acknowledgement and appreciation. It centers us, brings us back to the basics of our faith. It reaffirms our path, the goal – it helps us stay on that course; calling us back to it, if we had begin to stray, or have become distracted. And that’s just the beginning – that’s just the call…

Thankfully I have an app on my phone that plays this call to prayer, for each of the five prayers. When it goes on while I’m in the grocery store (or in line at the DMV) I do wonder what it sounds like to those around me.

Is it as beautiful emanating from my purse, as it was to me issuing from so many minarets over a broken city? As it is to me, echoing inside the walls of a sanctuary? As it is, when I hear it calling me to peace, in the midst of my hectic life as a mother?

Listen. How does it sound to you?

Hear it here:

Following Noah

I love to talk about Islam. It’s the most important thing in my life. It makes me happy, brings me peace, gets me excited.

Sometimes I just wish I could sit and share my favorite thing with a family member; my Mom, Dad, Sister, Grandpa, Aunt, anybody… and just have a nice deep, open discussion.

It’s hard sometimes you know, loving something your loved ones seem allergic to.

Something about which at least one has said, “this is our last conversation about this”.

But, that’s my situation.

I don’t feel comfortable talking about the thing I love most with the people I love. 😦

I always have enjoyed a challenge. I also enjoy discussion.

You can talk to me about many things I may not agree with and I will either present my point and listen to yours, or ask questions to gain a better understanding. (I can’t promise I won’t get impassioned)

I don’t mind if someone comes to me and tells me I’m on the wrong path and is willing to explain why. I’m open to that and I try to listen.

It seems people are willing to say “I disagree” but not to elaborate. Not to discuss.

The end of many an attempt is, “We have to agree to disagree.”

But, I don’t understand why we have to worry about whether or not we agree… If they don’t agree with me that’s fine, it doesn’t bother me. What’s wrong with learning? Understanding? Seeing things from one another’s perspective?

I do not get personally offended when people come to me and explain why they worship Jesus, or why they are atheist. I find other people’s beliefs and thought processes interesting.

But it seems, when it comes to Islam, it is as if the topic itself causes barriers to be set in place and people’s hair to raise on end.

My belief is that this reaction is linked with their lack of knowledge about Islam, yet the reaction forbids knowledge from being attained.

See the problem?

Although I love a discussion and I don’t mind being challenged, I know others do not. I don’t really like to bother people, so…

On the one hand, I feel like suppressing every word.

Hiding my thoughts and feelings.

On the other hand, I feel like I should keep trying, keep talking and not remain silent.

The prophet described in the Quran who comes to mind, is Noah.

Noah was telling his people about God for ages – and boy, did they ever dislike listening to him!

They hated Noah and his message from the Creator so much, they used to cover up their ears and turn away from him. They got so fed up, they threatened to stone him to death!

They really ridiculed him when he was building a ship in the middle of the desert. He was a laughing stock and his followers were very few.

Even his son abandoned him.

But Noah was persistent, because his care for his people surpassed his care for his own self, in the respect that, rather than protecting himself from their hatred and ridicule, he persisted in giving them the message that could benefit them.

He didn’t give up in the face of so many obstacles and his goal wasn’t to fit in and just make the people happy with him. His goal was to please only his Creator, by trying to help his people understand.

I think about Noah and then I look at myself and I see that I’m so weak.

I have something that I know could benefit my family, even if only they were to gain a better understanding based on knowledge,

but I don’t talk about it, because they will get annoyed with me.

Perhaps I am more fearful of displeasing them than I am my Lord?

The Power of Position

“We know that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true that our bodies change our minds?”

– Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy.

When I first heard Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about the way body language shapes us, I immediately related it to my prayer. In Islam, the prayer is both a physical act and a spiritual experience.

Have you ever seen a Muslim pray?

The english word ‘pray’ can refer to almost everything we Muslims do, but the specific prayer I am referring to is the one where we stand, bow, and prostrate. It’s called Salah.

When I lived in Brooklyn, I lived right next to a building inhabited purely by Hasidic Jews. I remember walking home at night and occasionally seeing one of them near a window rocking rhythmically, his curls whipping back and forth. I assumed it was some sort of prayer ritual.

At that time, when I was still up on my pedestal of intellectual superiority over religious adherents, I found it quite ridiculous.

I wonder sometimes, what people think when they see Muslims performing the salah. Does it look like a vacant ritual?

The salah is one of the most crucial aspects of one’s faith and practice of Islam. Abandoning it literally takes a person out of the fold of Islam.

So how could standing, bowing and prostrating be so important?

When we perform the salah, we are indeed communicating with our Maker. How well we are attentive to what we are saying decides how beneficial the prayer will be.

Internally, it is a meditation, but what about the physical movements?

What benefit are they?

According to recent studies, holding particular body positions can impact our psyche and attitude. The positions of the body actually influence the person performing them – subconsciously.

Holding a position of strength and power, such as standing tall with your fists on your hips for about 90 seconds, will actually make you feel more powerful and confident, perhaps capable of achievements you might otherwise shy away from.

The research and explanation which Amy Cuddy presented at TED (find the link to her talk below) really is the best way to explain what Muslims are doing physically, when we perform our prayers, in a way that helps bring the salah into the realm of the familiar – at least at the superficial level.

It makes perfect sense that we would be standing solidly, our feet shoulder width apart, in unity with other Muslims and at times alone; while we affirm that we are devoted to God alone and seek only His help;

It makes sense that we would bow down when we acknowledge God’s absolute greatness and Might (far above our own),

and that we would put the uppermost part of our bodies, the most honored part – our heads – on the ground; as low as possible, when we glorify God and acknowledge His total Supremacy.

Sometimes our minds wander, the positions also help bring our consciousness back to our words.

Fortitude and humility are qualities critical for every Muslim. We have to be firm and grounded, focussed. We have  to be humble, in relation to other people, but especially in regard to our Maker.

One of the greatest pitfalls of life, according to Islam, is arrogance; feeling self sufficient and greater than we really are.

Islam has many levels, from the superficial to the very deep, from the physical, to the spiritual. Some parts are followed by others. Some aspects are like foundations, upon which the rest is built, without which, the structure is weak.

Others are there, almost like reinforcements and safety nets. The physical aspect of the salah ensures that the worshipper walks away with at least a little bit of humility, even if only induced by deliberately physically humbling themselves.

So do the positions of salah influence our state of mind?

The answer is yes.

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Watch Amy Cuddy’s talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en

In Plain Sight

nativity3

Muslims believe in Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. We believe in Jesus the Messiah. We believe in the prophet John, Mary’s cousin, and John’s father Zakaria, also a prophet of God.

In fact, we follow in their footsteps; at least we should, according to the Quran.

Who were they? What kind of people were they?

They were people utterly devoted to their Creator and Sustainer. People who kept God’s commandments, whose lives were focussed on seeking God’s pleasure and the ultimate reward of paradise.

They studied God’s revelations and spent their days remembering Him. Praying,

like God’s chosen ones before them – Abraham, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, Moses…

It’s always been essentially the same since Adam and his wife set foot on Earth: Worship none but the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, follow His guidance and don’t lose sight of the purpose of life.

Islam is exactly that.

And if you wonder: Why then, do so many apparently despise Islam?

Remember that they wanted to kill Jesus.

They tried to kill Abraham too.

Jonah and Lot were rejected.

Noah – he was ridiculed and spent the longest time calling his people to the truth, but only very few believed and followed him.

Moses led his people and they made it so difficult, yet they found the worship of a golden calf… easy.

This is the way it’s always been. If there are people slandering and smearing Islam today, it’s nothing new!

If they disparage the prophet Muhammad, prophets were disparaged before him.

So the question really is, where do you stand? If Jesus and Mary were alive today, would you be one of their detractors, or one of their followers?

If you heard someone speaking ill of them, would you go and find out for yourself, or believe the hearsay?

There is plenty of evidence Islam is not the strange religion some people would have you believe. Some of the evidence is right under your nose!

Sometimes even on your neighbor’s lawn.

In plain sight.

Eleven Past Nine: 9/11 and Islam

The clock reads 9:11 and you remember that painful day. The day our innocent people were attacked and murdered within our own borders by a foreign entity. The terrible day that brought vulnerability most of us had previously never imagined, into the realm of stark reality.

I lived in Brooklyn at that time. When it happened, I was on the fifth floor, looking out over the water at the World Trade Center. I was wondering what had caused the huge fire in the first tower, then I watched in horror as the second plane slammed into the other.

Every time I stepped outside after that, I was forced to smell the stench of burning and death. It remained like that for months.

9/11 invoked the same anger, fear and emotions in me, that it did in most Americans. It also provoked me to learn more about American foreign policy and other things that impact our safety at home. I learned quite a bit I had not known before that day.

One of the things I went on to learn about in the following years, was Islam. I found that Islam does not encourage, in any terms, the killing or harm of non-combatants – even during legitimate war, in fact the killing of non-combatants, as well as women, children and the elderly is forbidden.

I learned that some people – both those who call themselves Muslims, as well as those diametrically opposed to Islam – use verses from the Quran and other sources of Islam out of context. They twist them to fit their own causes, in the most manipulative of ways.

Islam itself – the word “Islam” – connotes peace. Historically, Islam brought stability and peace to lands that implemented it correctly. Peace and security for both the Muslims as well as those who were not, living under the protection of Muslim rule.

To find out about war, fighting, manners and behaviors sanctioned and encouraged in Islam, we look to the life and example of the final Messenger, Muhammad. The Quran was not revealed in a vacuum and the actions of Muhammad give us further explanation and context:

After the prophet Muhammad announced his prophethood which was bestowed on him at the age of forty, he and his followers were tortured for years and many were killed. They were persecuted, because they believed there is nothing worthy of worship except the One God who created everything. They suffered injustice and oppression to the extent that they had to flee their homes in Mecca and became refugees.

Years later, when the prophet Muhammad and his followers had gained the upper hand and had garnered power and momentum, they were able to return to the city of Mecca – this time as conquerors.

Did Muhammad slaughter and lay waste to the very people who had tortured him and who had driven the Muslims from their own homes?

Not at all.

The prophet Muhammad entered Mecca bowing his head down in humility before God. The Meccans, who had tortured and harmed him and the Muslims for so long, waited expectantly, knowing their now weak position.

His statement to them, was a verse from the Quran, a statement the prophet Joseph made to his brothers who had wronged him. He said:

“There shall be no blame upon you this day. God forgive you; He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Quran Joseph 12:92)

He then said to them, “Go, you are free.”

This account is recorded in: Sunan Al-Kubra Al-Bayhaqi 17714, graded Sahih/Authentic.

let that sink in:

“Go, you are free.”

If Islam is meant to breed bloodthirsty, angry people, or people who are willing to blow up thousands of innocent people to make a statement, don’t you think this behavior would be evident in the example of the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad?

Don’t you think he would have been most savage or violent at the time when he entered Mecca as conqueror? Mecca – his homeland from which he had fled, due to the persecution of him and the Muslims? He had witnessed torture and the most vile of oppression at the hands of those people for over a decade, yet his victorious entrance was made in humility, with his head bowed.

He proclaimed forgiveness and freedom for his oppressors, not vengeance.

I urge you to read for yourself. Read the Quran (the whole thing) and read about the life of the prophet Muhammad from authentic sources. When you have completed the big picture, you will find that Islam is in fact, peace and that it’s final messenger, Muhammad was only extreme in two ways:

extremely merciful and extremely devoted to God.

There seem to be a lot of people out there committing evil in the name of Islam and there are still more people who like to propagate those incidents and spread them and exaggerate them. This is true to the extent that the public consciousness has begun to associate those abhorrent acts and behaviors with Islam, as if the two are one and the same.

The only way to combat this is with seeking knowledge and by suspending judgement about things we have no knowledge about.

Islam and acts of terror such as that on 9/11 do not go hand in hand as some would have you believe. The proof is in the facts, the texts and in that Islam continues to bring peace to the hearts of millions of people across the globe. One of those hearts, is mine.

Islam brings utmost beauty, peace, purpose, surety and contentment, previously never imagined, into the realm of reality.

I’m Dying

It’s definite, confirmed.

I’m Dying.

The most sure, undeniable thing about my life, is that I am going to experience death.

I just don’t know when.

It could be today, in a week… anytime really.

My hands will no longer touch the skin of my children, their hair.

My eyes will cease to gaze at the breathtaking sky and my shoulders will no more feel the pleasure of embrace.

My life is only a road leading to that destination.

That inevitable moment where my body will become just an empty vessel that will be consumed by the earth.

Before my Islam, this realization was difficult to endure.

I realized I could leave my home to go somewhere and never arrive, or never return; that I could begin crossing the street and be smashed by a car; that virtually at any moment- my life could simply end… and that’s true for all of us.

The fragility of life begs many questions doesn’t it?

Do you ever wonder; Why?

I am a Mother. My husband and I have five adorable and sweet, little children.

I watch my youngest daughter, who is two, bouncing around the house, her cheeks like plump pillows or balloons when she smiles and laughs. So adorable, so precious,

But she too will have to die… my baby.

Doesn’t that make you think?

Think of your favorite actor or actress… or the most beautiful model you admire – they seem so eternal in their pictures, in their roles…

But they too are only traveling towards their deaths.

Doesn’t that bother you?

Of course it does, it should.

When we realize that life is temporary it necessitates that we search for it’s meaning,

Not ignore it!

I’m not saying we should find meaning in our lives, like, “My purpose in life is to help others.” or, “my purpose in life is to make art.”

But the actual reason we are here; that we have been given life.

Often instead, we treat it like a freak accident when someone dies. We search for diets and health regimens as if they will protect us from life’s end –

But they won’t.

We say goodbye to our friends and coworkers as if we will definitely see them tomorrow.

We look at our treasured children and forget that their lives are finite.

We should be preparing them not just for college and marriage – but for true success and we can only do that if we are preparing ourselves.

We can only do that if we have sure knowledge and clear guidance.

How could you be here on earth, where there is illness and loss and earthquakes and fighting and death and birth and happiness and beauty and pain and uncertainty and pleasure and time…

Yet, your greatest purpose is to have fun and enjoy it?

Or to love and be kind?

How is loving people or being kind to people who are also going to die, an integral purpose?

The fact that these things are not completely satisfying should propel us further – one shouldn’t rest, until they are sure they’ve found the truth.

That’s right: truth.

Not blind faith, or something that makes you feel better.

Truth.

And there cannot be multiple truths about our existence.

Only one.

Then, upon finding the truth one must pursue knowledge and practice of it – that is by necessity.

Life is not a mystery left for us to wonder about for it’s extent.

Isn’t that good news?

It’s good news.

If you are someone who is truly seeking the truth and you are fully willing to submit to it once you discover it, then ask the One who created you for help, and He will surely guide you to it.

That is a fact.

I know why I am here. I know why we are here, how we got here and where we are going. I only know this because the One who created all of it provided us that information.

I don’t ignore death or try to forget about it. I remember it often  – the destroyer of life’s pleasures.

It’s not to be macabre or morbid, but as motivation to do good and avoid being lazy.

Because that is how we keep from being distracted by life from our true purpose.  So we don’t get lost in pleasure and family and tasks and responsibilities. Or even sadness, depression or anxiety. 

Death is not the calamity, but the hardening of our hearts and the denial of the One who gave us life, that is the real misfortune.

So we remember life is short and can end at any moment, thus we better use it wisely and stay focussed on the goal – our ultimate reality.

My fear of death itself is replaced with concern for the manner in which I return to my Maker. Will I be one with whom, He is pleased? Or will I die wronging myself and denying Him?

I can’t avert my death, but I can strive to return to my Lord in a good state – fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.

I can strive for the real life, that isn’t fraught with difficulty and displeasure, but filled with peace.

So while I am closer to my death with every breath I take, I try to also be closer to the One who owns everything, is of extreme Mercy and Who can grant me eternal life.

After I die.

And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play.(Quran 21:16)

Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?” (Quran 23:115)

Do you not see that (The One God) has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, [both] apparent and unapparent? But of the people is he who disputes about (God) without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book [from Him].
And when it is said to them, “Follow what (God) has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that upon which we found our fathers.” Even if Satan was inviting them to the punishment of the Blaze?
And whoever submits his face to (God) while he is a doer of good – then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to (God) will be the outcome of [all] matters.
And whoever has disbelieved – let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, and We will inform them of what they did. Indeed, (God) is Knowing of that within the breasts.”
(Quran 31:20-23)