Archive for October, 2012

Safeguard Your Soul First- By Meysam Rajani

‘Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.’

Meysam Rajani

The world is getting smaller day by day. From our small-knit communities, we now have networks that reach all ends of the globe. Instead of being in our comfort zones – where our ideas, beliefs, opinions, thoughts are conformed to by everyone, we now live in different corners of the globe where diversity prevails. Far from the sheltering hand of our beloved families and communities, we now live in a society where our culture, faith and principles are constantly challenged by those different from ours. To coexist peacefully (which is Islam’s way), we have to practice caution, patience, tolerance and perseverance towards other people. The Qur’an says “To you be your Way, and to me mine [109:6]”. Live, and let live.

The above quote is narrated from the Holy Prophet (SAW). It is interesting to note how our lives apply to this narration, in the context of the multicultural societies we live in. It is unfortunate that we take our birth as Muslims for granted. We expect everyone to see things as we do, we expect it to be ‘easy’ for everyone to see that Islam is the right way. Instead of being the vendor of our own soul, we attempt to be the vendor of the souls around us. Judgment is reserved only for Allah (SWT). We have no right to point fingers, whether it’s at Muslims or Non-Muslims for their actions. For instance, women not observing the physical hijab come under a lot of attack from Muslims as they do not cover their ‘dignity’. What is important to grasp here is that not all of us come from the same background, not all of us had the opportunity to listen to stories about the great Lady Zainab (AS), and not all of us were raised with the idea of covering oneself engrained in our souls. Moreover, Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qur’an, “Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa.” And no one knows what’s in the heart of a person except the Almighty. We may have the external appearance of the ideal Muslim, but our hearts may be blackened with pride. On the other hand, people may not appear to our eyes as the best Muslims, but their hearts may be distant from sins and even closer to God.

At the end of the day, we will not be answerable for other people’s actions, only our own. Act on the Prophet’s teaching, be a vendor of your own soul and minimize your judgment of others. A giant pitfall of expressing your judgment is an unnecessary feeling of superiority over others. “Pride enters the heart like a black ant crawling over a black rock at night.” By acting as a guardian to other people’s souls, one loses the security of his own. Instead of judging oneself – by constantly being wary of one’s actions – we tend to be more interested in preaching, as opposed to practicing. What’s worse is, this portrays Islam as an unwelcoming religion, where one who is unfamiliar with Islamic practices is discriminated against and belittled.

However, despite the fact that we should avoid establishing opinions about people, or expressing/discharging judgment based on their actions, we do have an obligation to spread the teachings of our beautiful religion. But we must ask ourselves, what is the ideal way to do this? Is it to tell people to perform certain actions and avoid others? Would stating the ‘Halals’ and ‘Haraams’ make sense to someone who has had no Islamic background whatsoever? In my opinion, we have to follow the path of Islam’s holiest personalities. If we adopt their approach, then we cannot go wrong. The Holy Prophet (SAW), for forty years (longer than the time he actually preached Islam) just portrayed the best of character and morals. He epitomized the spirit of humanity, and it is this that drew his greatest companions to the religion of Islam. He’d established such a supreme character in the eyes of his Ummah – that to those whose hearts were pure –they were attracted to his religion as soon as he declared it.

I believe we should adopt the same approach. Depict the best of morals. Be accountable for your own soul, judge yourself rather than others. Do not preach what you do not practice. Strive to increase your honor in the eyes of Allah(SWT), rather than pointing out the wrongs in others. Express Islam as a welcoming religion, where anyone can visit the doors of the Almighty, and he or she will not return, disappointed. And if you are concerned about justice being made, know that Allah(SWT) is Al-Hakam, the best of judges.

Eid Mubarak!

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“Hear Us- Don’t Insult Our Prophet”

“Hear us – Don’t insult our Prophet.”

By: Husseinali Datoo

Human dignity and mutual respect is a fundamental human right, which does not stand alone without Freedom of expression or above other related rights.

Across the Muslim World there is rightly indignation and hurt at the latest deliberate attack on Islam, in the form of the film – Innocence of Muslims-. Unquestionably this resentment is shared by all who believe in human rights and moral decency.

As I mentioned earlier, expression of free speech (FREEDOM OF SPEECH) is a basic human right; but that intentionally incite hatred and spark acts of violence are rightly to be condemned.

The deliberately made film of Prophet Mohammed(Peace be upon Him) contains disgusting dialogue that insults Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H) whom 1.6+ Billion Muslims hold in high esteem- This is a known fact.

This is not the first time that sentiments of the Muslim community have been tampered and countless times we have seen Islam and Holy Prophet denigrated and this action surprisingly is endorsed by the leaders of the free world in the guise of free speech.

Understandably the feelings of Muslims cry out in anger and as before this film has incited widespread protests throughout the World; protests directly triggered by the offensive, degrading film, sadly causing loss of life.

If freedom of speech is to be valued than the making and distribution of this film is not an expression of freedom of any kind as making of this disgusting film does not in any way contribute of value to promote understanding between different religions.

More so all these insults to Islam and the Holy prophet serve no purpose other than to provoke further potential violence, enabling Muslims to be marginalized and demonized once more, constructing some persistent justification for continued causes of hurt and anger to Muslims.

Allowing this film to be shown or not has little to do with censorship and or free speech, and to reduce this issue to such thinking is a convenient diversion, made-up in order to avoid discussing the filmmaker’s intention. Therefore the film breaches international guidelines on free speech, and should be banned, its makers charged and prosecuted.

For the record: Google removed 1,710 videos and closed their affiliated accounts because, as Google put it, ‘a substantial number of those videos concerned Holocaust denial and defense of Holocaust deniers’. Google ‘closed the users’ accounts within 24 hours’ of receiving the complaint by a group that monitored anti-Semitism. While at the same moment surprisingly Google said ‘this video,-Innocence of Muslims- widely available on the Web, is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube’. (Huffingdon Post)

It cannot be further expressed that Muslims through the world know the mischievous intent of the ever increasing insults to Islam and the Prophet and of the intention of film maker’s as well.

If only those who denigrate the Prophet and the- so called supporters of freedom of speech- would care to read about what the Prophet of Islam had actually taught and learn from his attributes surely.

For instance, that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had enjoined upon his followers that, “when the bier of anyone passes by you, whether [of a] Jew, Christian, or Muslim, rise to your feet.”

According to yet another tradition, once a bier passed by him, and he stood up; and it was said to him: “This is the bier of a Jew.” Muhammad (peace be upon him) said something to the effect, “Was he not a soul?”

All of this goes to show how enlightened and humane an approach the Prophet had towards even the Jews and Christians. It would take volumes to write about the attributes of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.(PBUH)

What we, in the Muslim world, fail to understand are the dual standards followed on this issue by the media and writers in the West.
But may be to them freedom of speech mean that religious sentiments are tampered with and expect Muslims to react with an air of resignation?

We need to give encouragement to Muslim scholars to delve into their treasury of wisdom to see what they have there to contribute to the discussion about the future of Islam. A good word of advice to the Muslim community is to think big and inform the writers and filmmakers about Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.( PBUH)

Karen Armstrong in her book Mohammed the Prophet of our time describes him as preaching loyalty to God rather than tribe; reconciliation rather than retaliation: care for orphans and the poor: and in many ways empowerment of women which will be a surprise to some. The Quran gave women property rights. Indeed radical changes at a time when women were traded like camels.
Surely words of wisdom……

This world is a multi-faith, multicultural society and there is no room for hatred but love…..
May peace prevail……

_____________

Husseinali Datoo
The writer is an Optometrist and Writer lives in Dar es Salaam Tanzania

 

I Wrote A Letter- By Nouri Sardar

I gaze out in searching… for a saviour rising
The absence in my heart… calls out for his name
In a heart that’s bleeding… a fire igniting
And only his rising… can put out this flame
I wrote a letter… toward my Master
Addressed to your name… addressed to your name

* * *

Upon the horizon, I see no figure
Rising from the Earth’s curve: no hope, no picture
And I squint with my eye… until the tears I cry
Write a message that I hold up in the air

I hope that he sees and my cry for help heeds
The message in my hand, I hope that he reads
I use a tortured voice… void of options and choice
To cry out for the pride of my work and deeds

I cry, from my desperation, turned insane

* * *

A love letter addressed toward my beloved
On it I place my soul and all that I’ve loved
For myself I’ve disgraced… when so much I have placed
Before Imam Mehdi, my life and my blood

I know that he’s upset, but still now I call
I knock upon his door – before me a wall
I have but my regret… failing test after test
When truly his wonders, my being, enthral

And yet my fears tell me, ‘Mehdi can you blame?’

* * *

My Master this letter, it contains my heart
But how can I send it, when we’re worlds apart?
Between us a distance… measured in your grievance
Tell me from this void will you ever depart?

Will you gift your absence to darkness for light?
Your place of hiding will you leave but a night?
To receive my letter… answer me my Master
For I have no address to upon it write

Or is your home and absence one and the same?

* * *

Tell me shall I bury it deep in the ground?
Shall I speak it’s silence, in hope of a sound?
Do my lips I seal… ignore the surreal
Should I dry my tears hoping to see the profound?

If I sought out comfort in a different land
For whom would I cry out, when I need to stand?
If my hand I extend… my wounds would you not mend?
When pieces of my heart together I band

Shall the sorrow in me, my Master, I tame?

* * *

I do not know which house to this letter send
Master I leave it to flutter in the wind
If by chance it would reach… you, Mehdi, heed my speech
And rise from your absence, to your lovers tend

For hearts are confused when, you, they would implore
Which house do we approach, and knock on which door?
Bewildered we wander… hoping for an answer
That wipes the tears that now into rivers pour

For how much longer will our pain be our fame?

* * *

When shall the horizon see your figure rise?
Does not tire you disguise after disguise?
For my letter tells you… of how much we need you
And how we tire of our trials and cries

Master bring me your hand, receive my letter
So I can find out where abides my Master
As to but remind you… that we’re waiting for you
The time of your absence, later and later

I waited, but Master your absence it came…

Festival Of Stars- By Taher Adel

Away from the dwelling of men 
Under a festival of stars where the light of night hovers
But darkness still eats away to the sigh of the wind
In a location known only to my mind 
He found me asleep against my own ignorance
Coiled in loose folds of shame
An orphan in a world that had abandoned me
Where worldly hope burnt men 
Until they were lost in the white heat waves
Shadeless and helpless 
Amongst the carcasses of broken and abandoned souls
Alone in the dying breast of the world
Just like the distant stars, this heart maybe beating
But it has been long dead
And its next beats would take it into dusk
With time gnawing against the walls
Unzipping it from a soul so eager
So eager to separate, hopeless
But he found me as if he knew
He knew I would be waiting at the guillotine of time
Like a mortal Jonah
Waiting to see the timeless patience in his eyes
And chase hope that has declared him a master
With a hand reaching back to me
He showed me how his scent made a garden out of God’s desert
An oasis out of the emptiness
Breathing life into my worldly death like Jesus
In a desert void of hope 
His presence was Noah’s ark
Turning sand into a rippling current of sea 
The sea of me
Splitting me from my past, Moses
Building me like the walls of worship
Abraham
Until I was strong enough to walk
And follow the crunching sound of his feet
Into the mystified distance
Until the horizon was one with his light
Too bright
My fevered eyes locked on his shadow
Chasing him through clouds that rise and disappear
Running down the passage of time
Seeing nothing but him carrying me
Beyond contradiction
Like the holy book of Mohammed(saw)
Finally arriving where my ego can sink into the shore
Sinking into worship despite knowing my strength knows no bound
Ali
Finally lifting my head from this dream
Looking up to see him fade into the distance 
just as wind fades, Mahdi

Zilhajj- “The Month Where Allah is pleased with Good Deeds Than Ever”

The first ten days of this month are full of significance and merit. 

The Holy Prophet (s) has said: There are no days when Allah is as pleased with good deeds as He is in these ten days [of Dhil-hajj].

In the blessed month of Dhu’l-°ijjah, the pious companions of the Holy Prophet and their followers used to do  many acts of worship . The first ten days of this month are called al ayyam al-maalumat (The Stated Days) by the Holy Quran.

First: It is recommended to observe fasting on the first nine days of Dhu’l-°ijjah, for it is equal to the fasting of one’s whole lifetime.

To download the PDF format of the Aamaal please click on “Zilhaj10days” below:

The Aamaal have been cited from http://www.duas.org.

Please do remember our fellow Muslims in your Duas, and pray for the arrival of the Saviour, Al Mahdi!

Iltemase Dua

Zilhajj10days

 

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as)- By Mozafer Rajabali

 

The beginning of Zilhajj marks a very busy period for mumineen, with masses traveling to complete their obligatory pilgrimage. The 6th of Zilhajj also marks the martyrdom of our fifth beloved Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as).

A transition

Aside from being an open book, the life of our fifth Imam is a period of transition for the Aimmah. As a three-year-old Imam Baqir (as) was art of the envoy that survived in Kerbala. Under the guise of his father, he saw the hardships from the day Ashura to the travesty in Damascus. After so much hardship, he grew up to spread the message of the Prophet extensively and was popularly known as al-Baqir (the splitter of knowledge). Interestingly, his title was also derived from the fact that his continuous prostration had resulted in him having a “split” in his forehead.

Imam Baqir (as) lived under five different rulers, and took advantage of the continuous shuffling in leadership to extend his message. He dispersed the seeds of the Jafari school of thought, which were further cemented by his son.

Under the Rule of Umar bin Abdul Aziz

Umar bin Abdul Aziz became Caliph in the year 99 AH, and unlike the other four rulers – sought constant advice from our fifth Imam. After becoming Khalifa Umar invited Imam to his court and asked him for some advice. Imam said the following:

“ 1. Do not ever celebrate any occasion with excessive happiness which makes you forget ‘halal’ & ‘haraam’.
2. Never lose yourself in anger so that you forget ‘halal’ & ‘haraam’.
3 Never take away (usurp) anyone’s property.”

As a result of this, Umar bin Abdul Aziz returned the much-disputed garden of Fadak back to the Imam. It was also under the rule of Umar that discontinued the cursing of Imam Ali (as) inside mosques.

A Buffet

The story struck a chord somewhere. Aside from the fact that the material world provides us with more excuses for mood swings, and ways to justify what is allowed and not allowed – we tend to pick what we want. Islam comes as a complete package deal, you may not understand all the principles and rules, but submitting to the will of Allah (swt) is the primary objective – hence why the word Islam means submission.  Of course, objecting and questioning is the best way forward, but don’t let that be an excuse to do something that is outside the bounds of Islam.

Take for example the chronic marriages taking place recently. Alhamdulillah, with the grace and blessings of Allah (swt) people are choosing marriage over other means to meet their needs. Being pragmatic about the process of marriage and concluding that the end goal is better and using that, as a means to justify all that is haram within the process of marriage will not make things better. The end does not justify the means.

In a conversation with a friend, not too long after Eid ul-Fitr, I was even more alarmed with how we have let culture determine our spiritual growth, and how we have become so pragmatic about what is right and what is wrong. After telling me that he was the best individual in the month of Ramadhan, with his continuous fasting and prayers, he told me that he missed some of his obligatory prayers on the day of Eid. After temporarily being angered at him, I gave him a chance to explain. “It was just a busy day, we had to go to peoples’ places, and even when I met with my friends, none of us felt like praying”, he said. After having butchered my heart, he was now shredding it. I didn’t have words. The whole point of the month of Ramadhan is to use it as a building block, to get a few steps closer to Allah (swt).

The first group of individuals, of which there are but a few, choose to follow the rules as much as possible – with questions and objections. The second choose to justify the “bending of rules”, whereas the third are generally apathetic. The best thing to do is to differentiate needs from wants. Then, within both categories, determine what is allowed and not allowed – by your school of thought, or your Marja-e-Taqlid. And then act upon it.

1400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad (saww) informed us via the Qur’an:

 “ This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

(Sura Maidah, verse 3) 

It’s That Time Of The Year Again- By Br. Mohammed Kazim Suleman

It’s that time of the year again.

After receiving invitations from their Lord, a select few will have the ultimate honour of attending the grandest of spiritual banquets and have the chance to implore in God in His courtyard.

In this article, I would like to share a small story that connects this beautiful pilgrimage with the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (atfs).

The ahadith say that one of the duties of the Imam of our Time (atfs) while he is in occultation is that he performs hajj every single year. (See footnotes below for other roles of the Imam (atfs).

There was a man from Iraq by the name of Ali bin Ibrahim Mahziyaar who had a deep desire to meet Imam Mahdi (atfs). He would thus go to Hajj every year, hoping to meet his Imam (atfs).

After going several times and not meeting the Imam, Mahziyaar went one year and while he was in close proximity to the Kabba in Masjidul Haram, he saw a handsome man whom he approached.

The man was not the Imam (atfs), but he asked Mahziyaar where he was from and what he had come here to do.

Mahziyaar told him he had come to meet the Imam of the Time (atfs), the man replied by saying, “When the stars shine brightly in the sky, I will wait for you between the Black Stone (Hajar al-Aswad) and Safaa.”

Mahziyaar was extremely happy at the prospect of meeting the Imam (atfs) . He waited out the remaining hours tensely, and when night fell, we went to the spot where he was to meet the man.

After greeting each other, the two set off, the handsome man in the lead.

They travelled for a little while until they stopped in one valley where a lone tent sat, shining brightly in the darkness.

The man told Mahziyaar to wait, after which he approached the tent and entered inside it.

A short while later, the man emerged from the tent and told Mahziyaar that the Imam (atfs) has given permission for Mahziyaar to meet him.

The narrated conversation that follows between Mahziyaar and the Imam of the Time (atfs) can serve as a wonderful lesson for those of us who want to get closer to our Imam (atfs).

The Imam told Mahziyaar, “We were waiting for you day and night. Why did you come so late?”

To which he replied, “O my master! I could not find anyone to lead me towards you. I wanted to meet you for so many years.”

After writing something on the sand, the Imam (atfs) said that this was not the case, and that their meeting was delayed for three reasons, all to do with Mahziyaar’s shortcomings.

The Imam (atfs) told him:

– “You were preoccupied with gathering money and wealth.

– You behaved proudly with the poor and weak believers.

– You broke relations with your near ones.”

“O Ali bin Ibrahim Mahziyaar,” he continued, “The special Shias are those whose actions are just like their words.”

How sad would it be if we let petty things like greed and arrogance stands in our way of being true followers of the Imam (atfs)?

It’s important to realize that the first, and maybe most important step in our journey to becoming representatives of the Imam (atfs) is to purify ourselves in order to become better, stronger Muslims.

We pray to the Almighty Allah to grant us the opportunity of being his guests and to give us the golden chance of meeting the Imam (atfs).
—–
Footnotes:

The roles of the Imam (atfs) while he is in occultation include:

– helping those people who are lost on a journey
– performing Hajj every year
– assisting the scholars
– attending the funeral of every pious believer that passes away

(Based on a hadith from Imam Jaffer Sadiq (as)

– The story of Ali bin Ibrahim Mahziyaar is narrated in pages 539 – 542 of Muhammad bin Harir Tabari’s book, Dalaaelul Imamat

 

 

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