Tag Archives: Islam

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)

The Meaning Of Breakfast

It’s the month of Ramadan – the month in which the Quran was revealed and the month in which we have been bound to fast for the entirety of it.

Don’t worry, we don’t fast non-stop the whole month – just from dawn to sunset.

Have you ever tried going a day without food?

Years before I chose Islam, I tried a juice fast one day (where all you consume is fresh juice – no solid food).

I couldn’t make it through half the day! I never tried it again.

But things that are difficult outside Islam, become easier within it. Like giving up bad habits, or in this case, fasting.

In reality, everyone fasts… but throughout the night, while they sleep.

That’s why breakfast is break-fast!

That’s almost exactly what fasting is in Islam, except in Islam it is done during the waking hours – the consciousness is an important part of the experience. As is developing willpower over one’s desires, gratefulness toward the Provider of our sustenance as well as appreciation and mercy towards those who struggle to survive against famine and poverty.

So, while you may fast every night and break your fast in the morning, you are missing out on the many benefits you could be reaping had you fasted instead throughout the day!

When fasting, one abstains from what is not only lawful (halal) but also necessary for survival – food and drink.

The benefits are many, but I will list a few here for you to consider, to give you a glimpse and hopefully an appreciation you may not have had before.

First, fasting in Islam is an act of worship – and it’s nothing new or strange. It has long been a part of the way of life laid out by our Maker practiced and taught by previous prophets such as Moses and Zacharia:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become of the righteous (those who have taqwa) -“ (Quran 2:183)

Let me explain to you what worship means, because the definition of worship in Islam is broader than you might think. Worship isn’t just rituals; it encompasses every aspect of life. Worship in Islam is doing anything that is pleasing to God (which we can only know via His revelation to us; His relating and describing to us what is acceptable and pleasing to Him) and abstaining from that which He has forbidden – that which is not pleasing to him of our actions.

So in Islam, smiling at a person is an act of worship. Not lying is an act of worship. In this case – the case of Ramadan, fasting is an act of worship.

As with all acts of worship in Islam, the benefits are plentiful and manifold.

The main reason for fasting, as God explained for humanity in the Quran, is to attain taqwa – which is an arabic word with a rich meaning that entails God consciousness (remembering God and aligning one’s actions with the purpose of life on earth- remembering God in every action). This acts as a shield for the person who has it, that protects them from the harmful pitfalls and diversions of life.

So we do it to gain greater consciousness of God, which helps us live better, more successful lives.

Ramadan is like a leg-up. Throughout the year, we might be progressing slowly, or even backtracking, but Ramadan helps the individual who takes advantage of it, make a leap of progress in a relatively short time.

By no means is it merely abstaining from food and drink, by which one can attain this spiritual benefit and increased closeness to our Creator – The prophet Muhammad reminded us that God is not in need of our fasting and that it is virtually pointless if we do not also abstain from false talk and other bad behavior. (Bukhari,Muslim)

He also said: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except fatigue” (Darimi).

And so we are warned not to be of those who only get hunger and thirst out of fasting, but to strive for broad self discipline and that greater God-consciousness.

There is the spiritual side, the self-discipline side of it, and believe it or not, there is also a physiologically beneficial side to fasting as well!

Scientific studies in animals and humans show that fasting is largely beneficial to physical health. It promotes stem-cell regeneration, boosts immunity and helps slow the proliferation of cancer. There are many articles you can research on this but here are two for you to take a look at if you are interested:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/fasting-may-improve-immune-system-health-during-aging-process-chemotherapy-patients-may-also-benefit

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/14/intermittent-fasting-longevity.aspx

So next time you eat breakfast in the morning, think about those of us who break our fasts at sundown.

What do you think it would be like for you if you were not to eat or drink all day?

A Day In The Life

It’s late Sunday night. My whole family is asleep, even my husband. He’d been up since the dawn prayer.

Not me; I was so tired this morning, I fell right back asleep after we prayed

together

before the sun peeked over the horizon.

Then I woke up to my children climbing over my back. I heard the tick, ticking of my husband’s fingers typing away at the desk near the windows.

The morning light poured into our home.

My youngest, just two, was near my head whining:

mooooommmmaaaaaa, mommmmaaaaa, I want milkeeeeeeeee…

My husband rubbed my sore back so I could get up and start the day.

It’s Sunday, so no rush…

So I ran to the grocery store, our littlest in tow. She loves to drive the car affixed to the shopping cart, as I whiz through the aisles.

I love going shopping without all five of my children with me.

As I cooked breakfast, I listened to the Quran.

We had bagels and scrambled eggs. I got an extra large coffee to make up for not having any yesterday.

I had several meetings with my business partner, who is also my husband. We have a lot of work to do.

My oldest daughter was so excited that her friend was coming over today, until we got the unpleasant news of cancellation. The rest of her day was spent fighting back tears of disappointment. She’s eight years old.

I have a bunch of plants I haven’t been able to finish planting in our garden. I attempted it today but decided to take a few nature photos first and before I had a chance, I was graced with a visit from my neighbor, who I haven’t chatted with in some time.

Meanwhile my two oldest children were working out how to assemble some drawers for a closet system we are installing in the master bedroom. They did a pretty great job considering I was busy talking most of the time while they put them together.

When I went inside, I noticed a bucket filled with water near the kitchen sink with some Lily of the valley flowers in it. A torn note nearby said: for Mommy, from Ibrahim. That’s my son’s work, he’s so thoughtful like that.

I tried repeatedly to comfort my daughter who’s friend couldn’t come; while I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the food of choice for my son, fourth in line, who is almost four.

They devoured their sandwiches and ran outside to play. All but my oldest. Emotional.

While my husband and I held yet another discussion, my 5 year old daughter got a nasty cut on her toe. Several rounds of bandaids, peroxide, and hugs followed.

We break for prayer.

It turned out that my poor baby with the cut toe fell asleep before my lasagne was ready and kept on sleeping right up until bedtime, until now.

I remembered when I had fallen asleep so early as a child and how it didn’t affect anything. No matter, no responsibilities…..

So we sat down to dinner together minus one. As our five year old slept, our two year old entertained the rest of us. She talked at the top of her lungs in her deep-for-a-two-year-old voice, about birds and balls and all sorts of baby talk that had the other three children in uproarious laughter. My oldest momentarily forgot her boredom as she enjoyed her sister’s antics.

Normally neither my husband nor I would tolerate such ill manners at the table, but tonight it was sweet and we just smiled and watched them. Their beautiful, innocent faces giggling and bright.

There was an amazing accomplishment at dinner. Zak, the PB&J eater, was coaxed by his older brother into eating a copious amount of green beans. Believe me, that is worth writing down.

After everything was all cleaned up (well, almost) and the kids were all changed and teeth were brushed, I sat down at my desk and did some more work (the kind I love to do) and now here I am, recapping an average day for you.

Being Muslim doesn’t make my life strange, or my days much different, but it does add a few things:

Five times today my husband and I (and some kids here and there) stopped everything and stood to pray, trying our best to clear our minds of all of life’s clutter and to focus on the source of life; One greater than all the world and it’s trappings.

Reorienting ourselves, remembering what it’s all about, and how temporary it all really is.

We took the time to be close to our Creator, in gratitude and in need. In need of His guidance, His help. Humbling ourselves before Him with our foreheads on the floor.

In between the prayers I got angry at my daughter, who was crying and crying and complaining of boredom, but I remembered how the prophet Muhammad said, “Don’t get angry.” and he taught us how to minimize it.

I’m not always good at that, so when I lost my patience and yelled at my kids for not cleaning up, though I had asked several times – I thought about how they have been entrusted to me by the Owner of everything;

They are not mine, but His – and my responsibility is to treat them with care –

so I asked for His forgiveness.

When my son was talking about another boy in his class, who he thinks has really great behavior (something my son struggles with) I encouraged him to say a prayer for him, that his friend would be increased in goodness and granted success. I reminded him, that the prophet Muhammad said that when we say a prayer for someone else, an angel makes that very prayer for us. Encouraging him to wish good for others, so that it could also increase the good he receives.

When I kiss my kids good night, I remind them to sleep with remembrance of their Maker.

I wish them peace as I turn off the lights.

I’m tired now. My husband has just reminded me about how tired I was this morning. I should go to bed.

As I do, I will remember God and I will remember death. I’ll ask Him to help me be better tomorrow, to get up on time to stand in prayer,

before the sun peeks over the horizon.

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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

The Real Reason to Hate Islam

Islam has pretty much always had haters. Every prophet we know of had adversaries.

Some well known examples are Noah and Jesus. Both had plenty of detractors in their times.

The thing is, the haters hated the message for the right reason; because of its core belief:

There’s nothing worthy of worship except the One and Only God.

In previous times, some didn’t like the idea of change, of leaving the “traditional” religions of their forefathers.

Some were profiting grandly from idolatry, as was the case in Makkah at the time of the prophet Muhammad.

Others did not like that they should shift their attention from profiting at others’ expense to instead humbly devote themselves to One more worthy.

Still others didn’t accept the concept that they would be accountable for their actions being in accordance with a purpose for their existence.

Whatever the complaint, it went back ultimately to the belief in and service of One Eternal Creator and Sustainer who has absolutely no partners.

Prophets were killed and threatened.

Ridiculed.

The prophets weren’t hated for the reasons people claim to hate Islam today.

The contemporary complaints are divorced from Islam itself. They all have solid rebuttals and evidence that proves the complaint baseless and inappropriate.

Islam does not condone or promote:

Terrorism
Murder
Violence
Domestic abuse
Pedophilia
Racism
Oppression
Lying/cheating
Smelling bad
Being dirty
Worshipping anything in creation such as the sun, the moon, people, black boxes etc.

And whatever other false accusations are flying around. In fact quite the opposite.

So if you want to hate Islam, hate it because it calls to the recognition, appreciation and service of the One God, who created all that exists. Because that’s what it’s all about.

Otherwise it’s simply not Islam you hate.

And if you don’t have a problem with calling to serve and acknowledge the One Creator of all creation, then you don’t have a problem with Islam.

Period.

Unlocked

Islam is liberation.

Freedom.

Every person has the ability to be free through Islam if they choose.

Even if they are poor.
Even if they are oppressed.
Even if they are physically in chains-

In the bowels of a torturous prison.

Because Islam straddles every rift;

It’s able to encompass every one and every thing.

It’s kind of like this:

Think of a type of success; say, via business.

You want to be successful-

Rather, you need a successful form of sustenance.

So you decide to start a business.

But you don’t know what kind of business will be successful; how to start one, how to run it.

You know nothing about being an entrepreneur.

If you have to go through the process all alone and figure out every detail from knowing absolutely nothing,

it will surely be a struggle.

If your success and wellbeing depend entirely on running that business flawlessly, the process will no doubt be stressful.

Your lack of knowledge is a burden.

Let’s say you are receiving conflicting information about the correct way to run a business. It will be hard to decide which advice will be more beneficial. You may fail many times over.

You struggle everyday.

And then suddenly an experienced and highly successful business person comes along. They provide everything you need to make your business more than you even imagined it could be.

They give you the money, the knowhow, the contacts. They educate you on what to do every step of the way. They are entirely at your disposal.

Can you imagine the burden lifted? The relief?

That’s how Islam works.

The tools to surmount every obstacle are provided for you. Handed to you.

For free.

So naturally: implementing it is freeing.

The burden of not knowing is lifted.

Guidance is provided at every step.

You see and feel the results.

And it all has to do with the self, or the soul.

So, that self can adapt to be in the best state relative to its particular situation.

Contrary to what you might think, even wealth and comfort are tests in this life.

So someone seemingly living an easy life is also in need of guidance on how to reach true success.

Pitfalls exist in every situation. We need knowledge to avoid them.

Opportunities for benefit exist in every situation. We need knowledge to recognize them.

To be successful in the life we all have been given, we need knowledge from the One who gave life to us.

Naturally.

When you have that knowledge, it liberates you from the shackles of ignorance and the burdens of incorrect advice.

It’s like driving on a smoothly paved, straight road as opposed to an uneven ground covered in stones and obstacles.

Wouldn’t you feel free once you get off the rocky terrain onto that smooth road?

Woohoo! That’s the free life.

And I think whatever way someone might follow, the satisfaction can never compare to the complete satisfaction of living the way you are intended to live: Driving on that straight, clean road.

According to the guidance given by the manufacturer. Your manufacturer.

So one might ask how do we know which is the right set of instructions?

If you really want to know, it just takes a little dedication.

Truth stands out amongst falsehood.

If you want it, really want it, it will be shown to you. Given to you.

Handed to you with utmost Mercy.

That smooth road you were hoping for.
Comfort.
Peace.

Then if you choose it and put effort into following it:

Success.

Freedom.

“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful.” (7:157)

“Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it; it is a revelation from the Most Wise, the Worthy of Praise.” (41:42)

I Was Born Muslim

Did you know everyone was born in a state of Islam?

It’s true.

I didn’t choose my gender… did you?

I didn’t choose my eye color or hair. I didn’t choose my country; my family, my language.

I was born in submission. I was born a Muslim.

We all were.

But humans only remain in the state of natural Islam for a short time until our free will kicks in; Then it’s up to us what we do and what we believe.

You were taught to be a Christian, or a Jew, or an Atheist, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist or whatever you might have been as a child. 

I used to go to Catholic church, because my family is Catholic.

But we all have had a spiritual spark embedded in us. Kind of like a homing feature.

It’s our intrinsic spiritual and moral disposition. In Arabic, it’s called the fitrah.

It is the reason why some  people search for truth. They know there is something more to this life.

Do you remember wondering?

You probably had all kinds of big questions, like:   Why are we here?   What’s the purpose of life?   How do we know if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing?   What happens when we die?   Why is there suffering?   What is reality?

Does God exist?

In some though, especially after time passes and questions go unanswered, that spark can be completely buried and forgotten.

There are other tools and evidence that support the fitrah though; if we are willing to look.

My unique fingerprint is a sign.

Snowflakes, fruits, the sun and the moon are all signs.

When I look in the mirror at the features I didn’t choose, I remember where I came from.

As I age and begin to notice, that the lines on my face don’t disappear after I smile anymore;

I remember where I am going. 

Freely choosing to submit to the guidance provided by our Maker is like following the instruction manual for a machine. It doesn’t make any sense to use a refrigerator as a bookshelf or a computer as a chair.

I would’t use my lawnmower on my hardwood floor or my vacuum in my garden.

Following the guidance is like that. Using your existence for it’s purpose.

The sense of relief that comes with that is indescribable.

When you align your will with the supreme will of the one who designed us, you accept that you have curly hair, or brown eyes. You realize you couldn’t have been born to be a little taller or more attractive. You are supposed to be just how you are.

You then focus on the things you can control: choosing between good and bad actions, using your time wisely.

You can stop fighting what can’t be fought.

And the link between the two involuntary submissions: birth and death, is complete.

It’s the only way to make the transition from one, to the other

in peace.

Common Ground

This is a message especially for Jews and Christians.

There is a line in the Quran that Muslims have been instructed to share with you. It is simple and clears up so much confusion, misunderstanding and provides common ground. I think it can help us be better neighbors:

“We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. Our God and your God is one (the same); and it is to Him we submit.” (29:46)

All of us: Jews, Christians and Muslims, can agree we believe in The Creator.

Similarly, we can agree that we believe in and revere the prophet Abraham (Among many others in fact).

“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to God]. And he was not of the polytheists.”(3:67)

He worshipped only the Creator, ascribing no partners to Him. The example of Abraham is mentioned often throughout the Quran. His way of life was submission to the Most Merciful. That’s Islam.

This is food for thought.

Muslims believe in all the prophets including Moses and Jesus. Where do our differences lie? Has God not provided a consistent message from the beginning of humankind’s sojourn on Earth? Shouldn’t all of us be striving to emulate Abraham?

The Quran says:

“The Messenger (Referring to Muhammad) has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in God and His angels and His books (including the original Torah and Gospel) and His messengers, [saying], ‘We make no distinction between any of His messengers.’ And they say, ‘We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.'”(2:286)

The way I see it, there is no reason to fight or to hate.

So when you see a Muslim, remember, they worship the same God as you. The one who created all of us. They believe in your prophet, be he Moses or Jesus. They Believe in Abraham, Noah and Adam.

 

I welcome your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Why me?

I had always felt that the path that led me to Islam was somehow paved by me.

I thought it was my actions, my choices that prepared me and that it was I who discovered it.

I vetted it out. I did countless hours of research. I couldn’t deny it’s truth.

I.

me.

I would marvel at all the events and decisions that lined up so incredibly perfectly.

And I thought it was amazing how I did that.

Not long ago however, I began realizing fully, how truly blessed and indebted I really am.

I’ve always been grateful, but I had gained a deeper consciousness of what Islam really means to me and how empty life would have been without it – And I started to really wonder-

Why me?

Why did God bless me with His guidance? I wasn’t any great person before, just regular: not especially kind or righteous in any way, not inclined to religion at all

And then one day it hit me. I know why now.

I remember the moment.

I was the kind of person who loved going to the beach at night. I remember running along the shore, as fast as I could under the stars.

The stars.

I remember the exhilaration of looking out into the unfathomable night sky, enamored.

I remember laying in my bed on saturday mornings as a teenager and wishing I could know everything about the world. What happened before me, what would happen after me. I would imagine that I would be given a view of the Earth and I’d be able to just watch history unfold.

I asked a lot of questions. I found it exciting.

Especially when the answers seemed unknowable.

So, after all that wondering and all the marveling I did at leaves and insects and stones; after looking at the astonishingly beautiful stars so many times and trying to comprehend how little me, a speck of intricately formed insignificance, could be living on a spinning rock flying around a burning orb suspended in a gorgeous galaxy – merely a blip amongst the others.

How? Why?

I think subconsciously I knew the world; humanity, beauty, pain- They couldn’t have just popped out of nothing.

So one night…

I was a freshman – I was sitting in my dorm room window: a big, square window.

I was looking out at the sky.

And I said something.

I said to myself, there must be some force out there. There must be.

Then I spoke to that force, but not with my lips. Only in my heart, quietly. I asked to know.

I wanted knowledge. I wanted the truth.

Then I forgot about it. I went about my life after that, for four years.

But that force I had beseeched, had heard me. And gently, I was guided to get ready. To get ready for Islam.

I did the weirdest things.

I used to listen to music a lot. Somehow I completely stopped listening to music with words and switched to classical.

I won’t tell you what kinds of music I liked before, but let’s just say that was an unpredictable move. I did it as if it was perfectly normal. Natural.

Then after a while, I ditched classical and switched to ambient: you know, the music that’s not really music? It’s just some sounds, almost like an environment more than music.

At 18, I gave up TV. I forbid my roommates from having a TV in our common areas.
That was odd. I lost some roommates like that.

But what I had effectively done, or had been guided to do, was remove external influences. No one was chattering into my ear anymore, telling me what to think.

My mind was mine again! Or, you know what? That might’ve been the first time it was really my own.

I started pondering about holidays and birthdays and about saying “God bless you” when someone sneezed.

I stopped saying “bless you” when people sneezed.

I stopped, because I didn’t know what that meant.

It didn’t make any sense to me, so I’d say instead, “you okay?” or something equally awkward.

I stopped celebrating holidays. Nobody Liked that very much…

But I just didn’t understand who Jesus was and why I needed to celebrate his birthday with a tree and Santa. I didn’t get why I had to eat chocolate bunnies or what was so significant about turning one more day older.

I stopped doing things I didn’t understand.

Oh, except for the time I just had to travel to a war zone as an international observer so I could walk in front of tanks and M16’s. That was all gut.

That was also how I met the first Muslims I had ever seen, and how I heard the recitation of the Quran, for the first time.

The Quran that I had been reading a translation of for the previous year, because I was going to prove to the world that religions were all flawed and thus man made.

So the point is, I asked for this. I asked for guidance. I wanted answers and God, in His infinite Mercy, granted my wish, answered my request; answered all my questions.

Because in that moment, in that window, I believed in Him.

Even though I didn’t know anything about God at the time and I never would have used that word. Still, I was a believer in that moment. I realized my smallness, and His Greatness.

That was how it all began.