Tag Archives: religion

No Matter What They Say

 

Was the murderer – who brutally killed 84 people, injuring hundreds more in Nice, France, a practicing Muslim? Or, was he, as reports indicate, a depressed, lonely man with mental health problems, a propensity for using drugs and alcohol, and a criminal history – the very antithesis of a practicing Muslim? The answers to these questions don’t seem to matter to everyone. Several politicians, TV personalities and pundits, set out to form public sentiment surrounding the attack within the very first hours after it occurred. Before any details were available, the branding of this attack as a radical “Islamic” terror attack had already begun.

I heard the terms “Islamic terrorism” and “radical Islamic terrorism” repeated over and over again. I heard people insist that these attacks won’t stop until we “call it what it really is” and dutifully attach the word “Islam” to every single terror instigating crime we witness. High profile people such as Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich– and a slew of far right-wing politicians and networks framed this attack as a sign of a clash of civilizations – clear as day – a war between Islam and the west. Gingrich went so far as to say, “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of Muslim background and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”

I believe in Shariah, which is the same thing as believing in Islam.

Do they know that being kind to your family is part of the Shariah, along with prayer, charity, being honest, oh – and don’t forget – obeying the laws of the land in which we live? Do they care? For American Muslims, being good citizens is literally mandated by the Shariah. I don’t know where Mr Gingrich would like to send me. My great grandparents were born here in the USA. There are American Muslims whose ancestry dates way further back in America than mine – some can trace back centuries, some all the way to the Mayflower, and some American Muslims trace their heritage straight back to the Native Americans. If the Native Americans who are now Muslims could be deported back in time… that would be interesting, because there’d be no sign of Gingrich’s ancestors or Trump’s on American soil.

Imagine, all this vitriol, all this certainty, all this “educating” went on before any information whatsoever, aside from the rising death toll, had been uncovered. Clearly, this notion of testing and deporting Muslims isn’t tenable – but what all these hateful statements did, was perpetuate the notion that Muslims are foreign – period. This divisive view of our world – us vs. them; paints a black and white, and very frightening picture for vulnerable Americans. The more people see a polarized world, the more they feel obliged and compelled to take a side.

They are training us to instinctively see all horrific incidents as being tied to Islam. Whether they really are or not is beside the point. This helps to advance the positions and agendas of powerful politicians and corporations – but tears our society apart, and that does matter.

SMH and Complain?

I can get upset and shake my finger at this irresponsible use of fame and ability to reach millions of people’s brains. I can fight every troll on the Internet and argue about just how anti-Islam these crimes really are. Yes, the facts prove the islamophobes and everyone else trying to force a war down our throats, utterly wrong – but the truth alone cannot alter the toxic atmosphere being systematically created. So what’s a Muslim to do?

The Heat is On

One of the effects of being constantly suspect is that the one under suspicion begins to feel guilty – even if he or she is totally innocent. Dalia Mogahed explained how she felt after 9/11 saying,  “Not only had my country been attacked, but in a flash, somebody else’s actions had turned me from a citizen to a suspect… for the first time in my life, [I was] afraid for anyone to know I was a Muslim.”

This is reinforced by a few, very loud voices claiming that we are all suspect. After the Nice attacks, Kelvin Mackenzie, a columnist from the UK’s Sun newspaper wrote a controversial column questioning why a “young woman wearing a hijab” had been allowed to report on the attack in Nice. He was appalled that the reporter, Fatima Manji was visibly Muslim. He asked. “Was it appropriate for her to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim?”

Avoiding the Herd Mentality

More than 1/3 of the dead, killed by the attacker in Nice, were Muslims. If it’s offensive for a Muslim to report the attack on television, is it also offensive for us to mourn our dead? We have to reject this idea and think critically: Is it wrong for white Christians to report news about attacks committed by white Christians? To suggest so is clearly, easily and immediately recognized as preposterous.

In the face of this monumental and growing problem, I refuse to allow others to determine how I feel about myself. We have to be the leaders of our own thoughts – to employ reasoning, and thoughtfully listen and consider the facts and points of view before settling on our position. The Quran differentiates between those who think rationally and those who are unthinking and sheep-like, following the rest without intelligent thought: “Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are more astray in [their] way.” (Quran 25:44)

Fighting Doubts

The Prophet Muhammad said, “The people will see a time of patience in which someone adhering to his religion will be as if he were grasping a hot coal.” (Tirmidhi)

Yeah, Islam is kind of like a hot coal right now. This is certainly one of those times. In light of this terrorism epidemic and the mounting negative public opinion towards Islam and Muslims, some of us may feel like giving up. It’s exhausting constantly being under scrutiny, guilt-tripped, cursed at, ridiculed, and hated. Maybe this would all be easier if we just took our headscarves off, shaved our beards and changed our names to Moe.

The thing is, the solution is in the same statement – the crux of the issue, is that we Muslims adhere to our faith. By doing so, we will become better people, who manifest the best of character and manners, we will increase in patience and follow this guidance: “Repel [evil] by that which is better; and thereupon the one who between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (Quran 41:34)

Why should I?

“Do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? … Yes! Certainly, the Help of God is near!” (Quran 2:214)

The truth is – according to Islam, all of this life is intended to be a test. If it weren’t this, it would be something else. So, as a Muslim, I remember the advice of Prophet Jacob to his sons, “Despair not of relief from God. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from God except the disbelieving people.” (Quran 12:87)

This is how we avoid despair and strive to become even better people. These difficulties can be good for us. They remind us to get back to the basics, to assess our lives, and reorient our priorities. We remember that we can’t achieve any success without the aid of the Owner of the heavens and the Earth. The answers lie in the Quran and in our prayers – in our Islam

So, I encourage my fellow Muslims to spend less time obsessing over the latest news and step away from the bickering and argumentation – To look into the eyes of our loved ones – To take a moment to step outdoors and observe the beauty of God’s signs in His creation – To help one another more, give back to our communities. And most of all, to spend more time with the Quran. Turn off the TV. Sign out of Facebook and Twitter. Open the Quran, read it and understand it.

“So be patient.  Indeed, the promise of God is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.

Indeed, those who dispute concerning God’s signs without authority having come to them – there is not within their hearts except pride, [the extent of] which they cannot reach. So seek refuge in God. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Quran 40:55-56)

 

In this book, I find solace, I find hope, I find peace. No matter what they say.

If Islam is Hate, Why Are People Still Converting?

It’s an odd thing: Thousands, upon thousands of people around the world – around 20,000 every year in America alone, are choosing to become Muslims.

Muslims. You know, those people who’ve murdered scores of civilians – brutally and mercilessly?

Not only are alleged Muslims behind atrocities like 9/11 and the massacre in Paris, they claim their violence is inspired and sanctioned by Islam itself – don’t they?

The word Terrorism has come to be directly – instinctively – associated with Islam. Think about that word: Terror. What kind of people would desire to terrorize others? What kind of monsters slaughter indiscriminately men, women, and children-Children – the epitome of innocence?

Well, if you believe what you hear and see, in far too many media and “news” outlets, the answer would appear to be: the Muslim kind.

This begs the question: “What kind of people would convert to a religion that promotes carnage and chaos like this?” Naturally, one might imagine these converts must be people with sociopathic tendencies – self-hating psychopaths perhaps.

But that’s just not the case.

Who Converts to Islam?

From youthful, pre-pubescent teens, to sage elderly grandfathers and grandmothers such as Georgette Lepaulle of Belgium who converted at the age of 91 – Islam seems to be attracting all kinds of people – the vast, overwhelming majority of whom definitely don’t fit the description of terrorist.

Johannah Segarich, now a retired college Music professor, asked herself this question in the midst of the confusion after the 9/11 attacks: “What kind of religion is this that could inspire people to do this?”

Johannah had studied other religions, but hadn’t thought to learn about Islam. She decided to buy a copy of the Quran, wondering if her notions of Islam as a male-controlled and now apparently violent religion, would be confirmed.

She read the first chapter, “In the name of God, The Most Compassionate, Most Merciful…. All Praise is due to God, The Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. … You alone We worship, You alone we ask for help, Show us the straight way, the way of those who have earned your favor…” She finished the Quran a few weeks later, and then started reading it again. About half way through, barely 10 weeks after 9/11, “I came to the realization,” she said, “that I had a decision to make.”

She decided to convert to Islam.

A travel bug took Angela Collins Telles, a quintessential California girl, to Egypt and Syria. She made friends abroad, and found most people to be generous and kind. When anti-Muslim rhetoric flared after 9/11, She felt a need to do something.

“I saw my country demonizing these people as terrorists and oppressors of women, and I couldn’t think of anything further from the truth,” she said, “and I felt a need to stand-up and defend them. But then I realized that I couldn’t argue without knowledge.”

Realizing she had no basis upon which to defend the people she felt were being wrongly demonized, she began studying Islam. Regarding her findings she said: “The concept of God was the most beautiful thing, and that concept fit with what I believe,” She converted only a few months after 9/11. (Source)

For Caleb Carter, becoming a Muslim took years. Sept. 11, 2001, was a turning point — specifically his teacher’s hostile response to Islam that day.

“I was a junior in high school at the time, taking a class called Nonwestern World Studies,” said Carter, “For him, it was purely, ‘This is what Islam teaches. We shouldn’t be surprised.’ He played the whole ‘Islam equals terrorism card.’”

But Carter wasn’t buying his teacher’s opinions, nor was he “educated enough to judge it either way.” Studying Islam and other world religions became his mission, and he converted to Islam in 2006. (Source)

Davi Barker, a writer and artist from California, also converted in 2006. Barker lived in Saudi Arabia and the Maldives for a few years as a child and knew “Muslims in Muslim countries,” so he didn’t believe that the religion was to blame for the terrorist attacks. He said he “saw the propaganda campaign going on” against Islam, something that continues to this day.

Canadian Micheal Atwood, was raised to be a practicing Christian. He first heard about Islam on the anniversary of 9/11. He was not intrigued to learn about it right away, but he later found out that Muslims believe in Jesus while on a class trip to a museum.

In 7th grade he overheard his Muslim friends talking about the Quran, and decided he wanted a better understanding of the Bible. What he found when he began researching its authenticity and history, left him un-impressed.

Atwood became curious about the Quran and began reading its translation online. He said, “I couldn’t stop reading the Quran. It was beautiful.” He learned about the practices of Islam and felt Muslims follow Jesus even more than he had learned to as a Christian. Half way through 7th grade, he converted to Islam at only 12 years old. (Source)

The internet is chock full of the stories of people, young and old, from every corner of the Earth, and how they decided to convert to Islam. From high-power, successful business men and women, to bartenders; from the highly confident and blissfully happy, to the ones who felt lost, lonely or depressed; from the party guys and girls who just wanted to have fun, to studious intellectuals – Islam appears to attract people from every walk of life.

Indeed the Quran confirms that it is in fact a message for all mankind: {This (Quran) is direction and guidance for the whole world.} (Quran 38:87)

Why are conversions increasing with terrorist activity?

I encourage every reader to read and listen to the stories of the people who made this choice. 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities did not influence people to learn about Islam, because they like violence. Rather, they fall into several categories:

  1. Some of those whose conversion began with knowledge of a terrorist crime wanted to better understand how areligion could possibly be that evil. It’s an outrageous claim that isn’t easily swallowed by everyone. These people needed to find out for themselves. What they found not only defied their original suspicion; it spoke to them in the most beautiful way.
  2. Others, like me, wanted to expose Islam for the hoax we thought it really was – until we realized it wasn’t. Conversion for my kind is often difficult, because it requires the admission of having been utterly incorrect, and often becoming the person who would have previously been the butt of your own jokes.
  3. Then you have the ones who knew Muslims already. They knew they weren’t the bloodthirsty, deranged caricatures they appeared to be on TV. These people felt a strong sense of injustice and wrongful portrayal, slander of the innocent. In order to make their point though, they realized they needed to have knowledge for their stance to be credible.
  4. For other people, the apparent chaos and strife in our world makes them begin thinking about life, God and inevitably, religion. Their searching eventually leads them to Islam. Had it not been for the unfortunate and misguided crimes committed in the name of Islam, many people would have never thought at all about Islam.

I’ve noticed in my extensive research of Muslim converts, that just about every single one of them did extensive research which included reading the Quran, most often the entire Quran, sometimes several times over before coming to a decision. The people who convert to Islam, rather than exhibiting and increase in anger or bloodthirstiness, express that they have become kinder, gentler, more patient and caring people.

Being a Muslim in these times where Islam is so grossly misunderstood is not necessarily easy. We are wrongfully stereotyped and feared. But, the benefits each and every one of us has gained – God – an understanding of the true purpose of life and death, guidance – dwarf any of the challenges we face.

Originally Published at AboutIslam.net: http://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/understanding-islam/islam-hate-people-still-converting/

 

Let’s Make a Better World for Our Children – Together

Here we go.

It’s the time of year so many pause to assess the past and plan for the future.

So, from my heart to yours, I have a request.

Let’s make a resolution.

My husband and I are Muslims and we’re raising 5 adorable, sweet and unique little children.

Like you, we hope to leave our children a better world.

We struggle, work and worry just like you do, endeavoring to contribute to that optimistic vision.

We know that there are people in the world with less than honorable agendas. We know there are hateful people and those who thrive on the suffering of others. We know there are people who laugh at our misfortunes.

But none of those people matter.

 

You matter.

 

The choices you make, matter.

So this coming year, I ask you to set yourself above the rest.

To be a person of integrity, who affords all human beings respect – by virtue of their humanity.

Be the one who seeks out answers.

When something doesn’t seem right, trust your gut rather than follow the crowd.

You and me – your kids and mine; we have way more in common than some people would have us believe.

And my religion, it helps me every day, to be a better, kinder person. It teaches me to continue to value, much of what you value. Like integrity, honesty, humility, family, and loving for others what we’d love for ourselves.

It gives me hope and fills me with gratitude. It makes my heart quiver and my eyes overflow with tears of love.

Islam is not the enemy. I am not your enemy. My husband and my children are not your enemies.

So, let’s be the ones who stand firm on those most wholesome values we hold dear.

And let’s turn a deaf ear to bigots and xenophobes who try to scare us -Who try to scare you into hating people like me. And try to scare me into hating you.

Who try to scare us into reducing our standards.

I know I am more than what they think of me, and I know you are more than what they think of you. You are stronger and smarter – more compassionate.

When you see me or my brothers and sisters in Islam, don’t be afraid to say hello. Maybe you will make a new friend.

Choose goodness. Choose love.

Let’s deny the hateful ones the satisfaction of our attention.

Let’s send them a message by caring for one another and make this year, our best yet.

 

Let’s lay the groundwork for a better world.

 

Together.

The Male Is Not Like the Female

Muslim women who are scientists, doctors, engineers, police officers, firefighters, American soldiers, lawyers and even Judges,  exemplify the diversity of Muslim women in the world.

These examples demonstrate the fact that Muslim women can – and do – follow their dreams and strive for achievements outside the home. Such pursuits undertaken by modern Muslim women are not foreign or new. In the time of the prophet Muhammad, Muslim women assumed many roles; they were entrepreneurs, scholars, poets and more.

But, part of the beauty of Islam is the way women are valued. Our worth does not stem from what we accomplish in terms of careers, or how we stack up against men –  rather our femininity itself is valued and we elevate ourselves via piety.

In our modern society, women who are”housewives” or “stay at home moms”  often feel a sense of inadequacy. No doubt when asked the question, “What do you do?” they often answer with dread, and are met with awkwardly incredulous, blank stares. The questioner often is not sure if they should express sympathy for the homemaker or provide encouragement that they can be so much more.

Muslim women however, have no reason to feel deficient. We’ve been created female and don’t need to try to be like men to prove anything! In Islam, a “housewife” is not considered inadequate, instead her inherent value is acknowledged and appreciated.

In Islam, it’s made clear that it is no accident that humans come in two forms. Although distinct, males and females are equal in the sight of God as He explained in several places throughout the Quran. For example:

“Never will I allow the work of [any] worker among you to be lost, whether male or female; you are of one another.” (Quran 3:195)
In nature, we see creatures in pairs, from plants to animals.  Reproduction of most species occurs via two mates. Human beings have also been made in pairs, like halves that complete a whole. This completion is possible, due to the differences between the male and female.

Men and women are complimentary, physiologically and functionally.

While one might argue that men have certain advantages over females, and much of the last century (take a look at the feminist movement) has been in large part about proving women can do whatever men can do – the fact remains that women are the ones who can do what men cannot.

I personally don’t understand how this has been overlooked. The female’s unique qualities have been all but utterly disdained by feminists who often forsake marriage and motherhood in favor of corporate advancement, for example.

In Islam, due to the special, divinely endowed nature of women, special status is afforded to females. Take a look at one example from the Quran:

“O mankind! Reverence your Lord, who created you from a single person – created, of like nature, its mate, and from them both, dispersed many men and women;- reverence God, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for God ever watches over you.” (Quran 4:1)
It is made clear here that men and women are of like nature, but women are singled out in this verse for reverence. This is because it is through women both males and females come into the world.

When Mary, the mother of Jesus was born, God said regarding her:

“The female is not like the male.”(Quran 3:36)

Because, Jesus the messiah , one of God’s chosen messengers was to be developed in her womb, born through her labor and pain, raised in her enveloping care, and fostered with her wisdom and piety – all without any male intervention or contribution.

God could have informed us about Jesus without mentioning his mother, but instead, an entire chapter is named after her (chapter 19). She was not merely a vessel for delivery of the Messiah. Her lofty character was a critical part of the birth and development of Jesus Christ.

We see the importance of motherhood in this and many other examples from the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. A mother is not deficient if she is primarily a mother, wife and daughter. In Islam she is continuously revered.

The prophet Muhammad said that mothers are most deserving of their grown children’s companionship. Even caring for her in her old age is an honor, rather than a burden.

Mothers lovingly struggle  to bring generations into the world. Mothers nourish and nurse future leaders, inventors, heros. Mothers comfort, reassure and support the best of humanity. Mothers are the backbone of the human race.

But women are not only valued as mothers.

Islam honors women as daughters and affords great status to parents who raise their daughters well.

Women are also highly regarded for being wives. Spouses are described in the Quran as garments for one another. (Quran 2:187) This description represents the closeness, protection, intimacy, shielding and adornment spouses provide one another. No one feels complete without his or her clothing. Husbands and wives fulfill each other’s vital needs and provide a sense of wholeness and satisfaction that is difficult to attain in any other way. Marriage is described in the Quran as follows:

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Quran 30:21)

 

In my life, it was Islam that enabled me to truly appreciate being a female, and it brought out my femininity in many ways.

I love knowing now that I am meant to be a woman. That my Maker does not discriminate between men and women. That I have equal opportunity to achieve success, and that I am not held to standards I am not made for.

I don’t feel pressured to prove my worth to anyone. I don’t feel inadequate or inferior. And I will strive to endow my daughters with this knowledge, appreciation and sense of worth, so they can grow up confident and comfortable in their own skin.

 

Walking With Diamonds

My family and I, we don’t have to be subjected to the reactive anti Muslim hatred boiling up.

I could easily take off my scarf and blend right in. My husband could easily shave his beard and go unnoticed.

But we don’t. And, by God’s Mercy, we never will.

We stand tall and walk with confidence. The way you would if you knew you had the earth’s largest diamond, or the next world changing invention, or a bank account with a few billion dollars.

Because, the Islam we’ve been given is better than every last bit of good the world has to offer all together.

It’s why we are here… And this struggle?

People before us went through worse.

When you see us I want you to wonder… Wonder and ask yourself what is so good about Islam that we stand up tall with confidence and a smile, even when the whole world seems to be against us.

My Husband’s Standard for the Treatment of Women

The owner of the company was a man, maybe in his fifties; white hair, but still youthful. He came over to give us an estimate for some work we need done. He seemed nice enough. He smiled, greeted our children, and appeared to have our best interests in mind.

While we were walking him through the job, his cell phone began ringing.

“Probably my wife.” He said, slightly shaking his head as he silenced the phone.

Within several minutes the phone rang twice more. We assured him we didn’t mind if he answered the call.

“Hello? I’m still on a job estimate.” He paused and listened.

His lips tightened and his voice hardened. “I told you, they’re in the back.” he said, somewhat exasperated.

He wrapped up the call. To me, he had not done anything out of the ordinary. He completed the rest of the estimate kindly and left.

But, as I would learn later, my husband was disturbed by what he witnessed.

In fact, my husband chose another company, in spite of getting the lowest estimate from this man, simply because he didn’t like the way he had spoken to his wife.

My husband grew up in a Muslim family. When he reached college, his interest in Islam and religions intensified. He began studying Islam as well as Christianity and comparative religion. After completing his bachelor’s, he travelled overseas to study Islam and the Arabic language. While away, he benefitted from many scholars of Islam. Upon returning, he has been dedicated to teaching Islam to Muslims, founding several institutions to that end.

His days and nights are usually spent studying, teaching or working for Islam.

He’s also gentle and even tempered.

I often insist on asking him, “Are you mad?” and he always responds, “Do I ever get mad?”

The truth is, my husband implements the teachings of Islam and follows the prophet Muhammad who was asked repeatedly by a man for advice and responded each time simply, “Do not get angry.” (Narrated in Sahih Bukhari)

This is the power of Islam, to overcome even strong emotions such as anger. In fact, as indicated in the advice of the prophet Muhammad above, Islam has the power to prevent those emotions from boiling up in the first place. When it is the guidance for everyday life, the results are beautiful.

I’m so fortunate and grateful to have a companion who is concerned with living in a way pleasing to his Maker, and that my Creator has guided His creation to “Be kind to women.” as explained and emphasised by His last messenger, Muhammad.

Islam: A Way Of Life

The word Islam is not just the name of a religion: It is a state of being and a way of life.

If you think about most other religions you know of, you will find that the name “Islam” is quite unique.

For example: Christianity is named after Christ. Judaism is named after the tribe of Judah. Hinduism is a word related to location.

Islam describes the state of being it entails. It can be translated as “surrender” or “submission” but really the arabic word Islam is too rich to translate into a single word.

Islam comes from a root word that denotes both peace and submission or surrender. In our context it means submission and surrender to God and His Will. It implies that one does so peacefully, in a peaceful state, as well as indicating that peace is attained through this submission.

A Muslim is one who does Islam. It’s the active form of the word. It could be translated as “one who submits to God” or “Submitter”.

So really when we say Muslim that’s what it means, we are just speaking arabic. Really in english I’m a submitter, but the word Muslim is common enough that I will continue to use it for my purposes here.

What we believe in Islam, is that God created the first humans, Adam and Eve. They were placed in paradise; The Garden of Eden. They were given a test: Everything in paradise was for them except one small thing. A single tree was forbidden to them.

Well, of course they made the mistake and disobeyed God, but that was merely the precursor for life on Earth. That mistake set the ball rolling, so to speak.

Adam and Eve were sent down to Earth where they were to live, reproduce, and die. But God did not leave them alone.

In their remorse over their disobedience, God Himself taught them how to ask forgiveness. He also promised not to leave them without guidance and told them:

“when guidance comes from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, they will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” (Quran 2:38)

All that was setting the stage for a greater test: life on Earth.

Adam received revelation from God, and he submitted to that guidance and followed it. He was a submitter. He was a Muslim.

After Adam, God bestowed the prophethood on many, many more throughout the ages. Some of the names of God’s prophets and Messengers are mentioned in the Quran. Some of them are : Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Lot, Aaron, Moses, Solomon, David, Jonah, Jesus the Messiah.

Sound Familiar?

We are taught all of them were given guidance from God. Some were given revelation, such as the Torah which was given to Moses and the Gospel given to Jesus.

All of them taught people to follow God’s Guidance-to submit to it.

That’s Islam.

Every one of them was a Muslim and no one can say they weren’t – because a Muslim is simply one who submits themselves to God. One who follows God’s guidance for success in life.

So we are just continuing along the path set for us from the beginning. God promised to send us guidance. He gave us the solace of knowing that if we are to follow His guidance, we won’t have any fear, we won’t live in grief.

And that is truly the gift of Islam.

Muslims Don’t Fly

Think about food.

Many of us know what’s good and what’s not, but there are still times we just “can’t help” having that cake, or ice cream, or hot dog.

Other people simply eat what they want. They might not even think too much about whether or not that food is good for their body.

Then there are those people who realize the relationship between what they eat and their overall health.

They research, study and even do their best to implement what they learn, with determination to take excellent care of their bodies. These are often the most successful, health-wise. They are also the fewest.

Islam has the perfect recipe for excellence. If one follows it diligently it will positively impact all aspects of the way they live, no doubt.

It encourages kindness, moderation and a real connection with our Creator. It not only fosters spiritual health, but also physical as well as social health and well being.

Almost all creatures in the universe naturally live according to their programming. They do what they are meant to do.

Take angels; they are intelligent creatures, yet they do not deviate from their purpose and nature. They obey God.

Humans on the other hand….

Well, you already know humans are nothing like angels.

Muslims are no different. We’re still human!

Some are born in a Muslim family, but never search to learn about the purpose of life, how to know God, and the difference between right and wrong according to The One who created them.

Some are like the person who wants to eat healthy, but they frequently give in to their desire for potato chips.

They know they should be good, but it’s just so hard!

Then there are the others, who are convinced and determined to live a wholesome life and fulfill their purpose.

They sincerely try very hard, but this doesn’t make even them infallible. They will flag, waiver and fall at times too.

They are more tenacious and struggle against themselves to stay on the upward path and that is what sets them apart and gets them better results.

Aside from these three, there are also the junk food companies. They deceptively use the concept of health to sell their garbage.

They use pretty pictures, nutrition facts and statistics to make people believe their food is healthy- even though its actually harmful.

Some people use Islam in the same way, they have a goal, an agenda; and they pick and choose and twist aspects of Islam to fit and promote their cause.

If someone really wants to know about Islam, they can’t get the big idea from observing Muslims. Just like you can’t get a good idea of the perfectly healthy lifestyle by observing the average American.

You have to go to the sources. The Quran most importantly, and the Sunnah, or the way of the Prophet Muhammad.

The fact that people often fail, does not invalidate the test.

And just because someone slaps a label that says “Islam” on something, doesn’t mean that’s what it really is.

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What is Islam?

What is Islam?

Seems like a no-brainer right?

Even the dictionary explains it like this:

Is·lam
isˈläm,iz-/
noun
1. the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah.

That’s not the real meaning of the word though- And understanding the meaning of the word Islam is a simple explanation of the “faith” or religion described above.

The Arabic word Islam is derived from a root word: selema (seh-leh-muh) which carries the meanings of peace, purity and submission.

Islam means Submission to God and His will. It carries with it the implication that doing so is purity and that by doing so one will attain peace.

The trees, animals and planets are all in a state of Islam, because they are governed by God’s laws of physics, biology etc.; They function according to how they’ve been created. They naturally submit to God’s will. That is how they are programmed.

Humans are different.

We have been given a kind of intelligence unlike the rest of creation. We have been given free will and choice.

I can submit myself to whatever I want and so can you. We can submit ourselves to the love of wealth and material possessions or status. We can submit ourselves to pleasure and live hedonistic existences if we so desire. Each individual is free to choose their path.

Any person who chooses to submit his or her will to God peacefully, that person is in a state of Islam.

“Surely, the way of life with God is submission to Him.” (Quran 3:19)

And that, my dear neighbors, is what Islam is really all about.

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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.

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