Tag Archives: Muslim

American and Muslim

I am an American of European descent. My grandparents were born here. My parents never knew any other home or any language beside English.

I grew up doing all sorts of typical American things; from parties and sleepovers to swimming lessons and horseback riding. We had amazing summers boating across the Long Island sound. We dug for clams with our feet in the shallow waters of the bay and stayed on the beach until sunset. We enjoyed backyard barbecues and fireworks. Our winters were brightened by snowmen, iceskating and mugs of hot chocolate.

When I chose to be a Muslim did I become less of an American?

Of course not!

I’m still me… and America is founded on the concept of freedom of religion.

In some ways, I am an ideal representation of what it means to be American by exercising my freedom of choice.

As it turns out, I’m more appreciative of my country, culture and many of the values I’ve been raised with now that I am Muslim, than I ever was before.

But does Islam conflict with American values?

The truth is, there is much more in common than there are differences. The concept that Islam is un-American is a fallacy and a relatively new one at that.

Did you know the Supreme Court of the United States of America honored the prophet Muhammad as one of the greatest lawgivers of all time as recently as 1935?

Maybe there is another reason that some people’s initial reaction is that those two terms can’t coexist?

Objectivity and a genuine interest in educating oneself about the facts are all that is needed to find out.

20131230-114600.jpg

Advertisements

What in the World is Halal Food Anyway?

Have you heard that Muslims eat “Halal” food?

Maybe you’ve seen the Halal Food carts in NYC, or have heard about the controversy in the UK over halal meats being sold in ordinary supermarkets.

What is your reaction when you hear about “Muslim dietary laws” or when you hear or see the word “halal”?

The Arabic word “halal” simply means “permissible”, so it applies to anything and everything permissible, whether it be food, actions or anything else.

Interestingly, when it comes to food, the food of the “people of the book” is also halal (permissible) for Muslims.

Who are the people of the book?

The Jews and Christians!

So why is the food of the Jews and Christians halal for Muslims?

Because they both followed the instructions of God’s prophets on how to slaughter, as well as what foods are good to eat and what foods to stay away from.

So what God has made permissible before, in terms of food, is still permissible today.

So I can eat Kosher meat and that is halal for me. The Christian’s food should also be halal, but today Christians, (at least the majority in the US) do not continue to follow the laws in the bible.

Deuteronomy 14:8 and several other biblical verses, forbid the eating of pork for example, so if the Christians were to continue to follow the law, as Jesus said to do as reported in the bible of today:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” – Matthew 5:17

Then the food including the meat of the Christians would be perfectly halal for me.

So although it may seem strange that there are restrictions on what Muslims eat, similar guidelines exist in the traditions of the Jews and Christians as well.

I won’t go into too much detail in this post, but generally the reasons things are permitted are because they are beneficial for us, and things that are not are usually harmful or potentially harmful in some way.

When it comes to animals for example, they are beings with souls. We aren’t taught by our creator to just go ahead and kill them any old way. There are guidelines and methods to follow to ensure the life is treated with respect. We can not take a life without permission. In this case, permission is given so long as certain criteria are met.

We do it invoking the name of God; feeling the gravity of that act… not doing it frivolously, but only for the purpose of nourishment and sustenance.

In the authentic teachings of Islam it is even discouraged to sharpen a knife in the animal’s sight. Nor should one animal be slaughtered in front of another.

The Prophet muhammad is reported to have said, “If you must slaughter, slaughter in the best possible manner, sharpen your knife every time before you slaughter but not in front of the animal to be slaughtered. Do not slaughter an animal in the presence of other animal, and feed and rest the animal before slaughter.”
When Prophet Muhammad was asked by his Companions whether kindness to animals would be rewarded in the life hereafter, he replied, “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature” (Al-Bukhari).

20140103-095214.jpg

Who is Allah?

When you hear the word Allah, what do you think? What comes to mind?

When you hear the word God, what comes to mind?

Before I was Muslim, I didn’t like religion. When I heard the word “God” I used to cringe. After a lot of reflection though, in my late teens, I decided there must be some kind of “force” out there- but I wouldn’t call it “God” (even in my private thoughts)… Just because I didn’t know what it was- or how I could know.

Now, even though I commonly use the word God in order to explain aspects of Islam, I prefer to say Allah.

Here’s why: Allah is the name of God.

If you look into history, you will discover that not one prophet or original religious scripture that we know of, referred to God as God.

Abraham, Moses and Jesus did not use the word God. Look up the etymology of the word yourself and you will see it’s origin is not from God as far as we know.

An additional issue with the word God is that it can be made plural. There can be one God or many gods. So often when I refer to God this way I will qualify it with a description such as “the One and Only God, Who created everything”.

Some assume when we say Allah, that we are referring not to their God, but some other concocted god. But I assure you that when we say Allah, we are referring to The One who created you and me. It is the same word Christian Arabs use for God, and similar to what we know that Jesus used to call God.

Other reasons I prefer to say Allah are because that is the name He has called Himself and the word itself embodies the meaning of who God really is.

The word Allah is formed as a combination of “al” (the) and “ilah” (one who is worshipped). So in English if you were to say “THE God” or “the One true God” or “the only One worthy of worship”, all of these describe the meaning of the word “Allah”.

So next time you hear someone say Allah, remember it means the One True God, the only One worthy of worship. Not the moon, or a building in the desert or a “god of another religion” but our Creator. The One who sustains us and provides all our blessings.

20131229-144013.jpg

Welcome!

I am your American Muslim neighbor. Welcome to my blog! Visit me here any time you like, to learn more about Islam and the most diverse religious group in the USA- the Muslims! I’m just your average American, here to promote peace and understanding in a time rife with fear and mistrust. Get to know the truth about what is possibly the most misunderstood way of life today.

20131223-215637.jpg