Archive for December, 2012

Arbaeen Video Promo

Are we ready?

Ruqaiyah, was the 4 year old daughter of Husain- The Grandson of The Holy Propher Mohammed.
She accompanied her father towards Kerbala, where he offered the ultimate sacrifice to save Humanity, and was martyred on the 10th of Muharam. That day, Sakina became an orphan.
She was then taken as a captive, imprisoned and harassed by the tyrants which led to her martyrdom in the prisons of Damascus, Syria.
In honor of this orphan, we have  partnered with Peak 4 Poverty, a registered non profit in the US, whose mission is to fight extreme poverty by empowering orphans with an education to launch this campaign to educate 100 orphans in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The cost of educating an orphan for a full year is $100, however, you may contribute as much as you can; it could be a $, a pound, a shilling.
Every cent shall count to be very useful and shall be a source of education to an orphan.
Please donate generously, and help us to build a better world.
There is nothing comparable to the smile on the face of an orphan, and you could be the reason to their smile.

To Donate please visit the link below:

All donations from the US are tax deducatable.

http://www.peak4poverty.org/mycampaign/in-honor-of-ruqaiyah-30-days-for-30-kids/

#Remember Rukaiyah- Orphan Awareness Campaign Video (Promo)

The Cry Of An Orphan…

Goodness is innate in human nature. Even the word humanity has a positive connotation to it. To be human is to show care for your own specie – particularly the ones who need it the most.

Syeda Rukaiyah (also referred to as Sakina); daughter of Imam Hussayn (AS) represents one such group.

If Hussayn represented the fight against justice, Rukaiyah mirrored his battle. If Hussayn represented the struggle against oppression, Rukaiyah’s fate echoed his cause. The four year old daughter of Hussayn joined her father as he marched towards his certain death.

After the 10th of Muharram, the young Rukaiyah was orphaned.

Father, where are you? Father, father, speak to me father.

Like Hussayn’s call for help during his final moments, Rukaiya’s cry represents the cries of orphans today.

So, if humanity is being good to one’s people, if being human means to show compassion to those who deserve it, then who else deserves it more than the orphan? Who else yearns for love more than the parentless child? Who else requires a helping hand than those who’ve lost the most important people in their lives?

That is what the young Rukaiyah represents; the call for compassion and mercy towards orphans.

We hear of stories of people trying to achieve happiness through different avenues: money, success, education, fame, and so on. Until today, there is no sense of happiness that can be paralleled to the one obtained from helping others. Saying a kind word to an orphan, taking care of an orphan, educating an orphan – these are sure-shot channels to contentment.

The question is, are we willing to take the first step? Are we willing to reach out and help, instead of waiting to be approached? Are we generous enough to part with what we love in order to benefit others? Are we kind enough to show compassion to someone who needs it dearly? Are we?

The University Of Life…

Welcome to the University of Life

I sat down on the floor this time,
trying to get into a comfortable position to listen to something unique.

As I looked around, I saw familiar faces and some not so familiar – probably from a distant place.
There were people of different ages, from old men who could barely stand to young children who couldn’t sit still.
There were people from different backgrounds; from the white collar job workers to men who had titles before their name that it seemed they had two first names.
I thought to myself – it’s amazing how people from different walks of life are coming together to learn something.
We all sat, motionless and in silence. There was an aura which enveloped the place, it seemed like something ground breaking was about to happen.

After a brief introduction, the speaker spoke with an eloquence that matched the talks of king and Gandhi. It seemed as though we were supposed to be on a mission, but how could that be – we were sitting in a university listening to a lecturer.
Then again, this is the University of Life.

The lecturer’s topic was a reminder about who we are? What we do? Why we do what we do?
And most importantly why are we here?
I have never set in a lecture with a lot of people, with a very complex set of questions, but it felt like one. This is the beauty of the University of Life

The University of Life reminds us that we are mere mortals in a world filled with good and bad, and that our decisions impact the way we live our lives.
The University of Life tells us to live by a code so that we don’t get lost in all the glitters that life has to offer.
The university of life teaches us nobility in character, standing for righteousness and honor, being charitable, kindness to one another, perseverance, patience, friendship, brotherhood, belief and love.
You could be 8 or 78 and these things would be relevant to you even though you’re looking through different lenses, this is the beauty of the University of Life.

Somebody asked for a manual, the University of Life gives examples to emulate because manuals can be followed but it is very difficult to live the life of someone else.
The example shows a complete embodiment of the University of Life – it is the story of Husain and his companions.

Read the story, and at the end of every sentence you will see life lessons – that is why I come every year, sit on the floor humbled by his presence, waiting and yearning to see the truth reflected in my being.

I’m proud to be a member of the University of Life, you should join too, you might learn a thing or two…

A Letter To Kerbala

The letter below was written by a brother who just about missed out to go for Arbaeen in Kerbala.

Dear Kerbala,

I write this letter with utmost grief and sorrow in my heart, and in a state where I can not really seem to forgive myself, simply because I will not be visiting you this time. It has been exactly six months since my first ever visit to you, and you were nothing short of an amazing and very hospitable host.

Kerbala, I remember our first meeting very well, when I descended from the bus to be greeted by the scorching sun and hot air surrounding me, but there was something special in this air, there was a fragrance of heaven that made me forget the heat and fall in love with you immediately. From then on, every step I took with you, I felt special, honored and most of all my heart had finally found the much needed satisfaction I had been looking for over twenty years.

My dear friend, then you made me meet the two holy personalities I have been hearing of every year, the two brave soldiers of Islam and saviour of Humanity, you made me meet Abbas and Husain. O Kerbala, you witnessed my arrival to these two personalities, you stood there to cool me when I cried my heart out as I met Husain and Abbas.

Our farewell was something I never looked forward to, but I was told all good things come to an end, and so did this. However, I remember my promise to Husain and to you O my Friend, that I shall be back with the millions who shall come for Arbaeen, to honor you and show the world how blessed you are; and so did I leave, counting days to come back and meet you.

O heaven on earth, O Kerbala, it is however sad to let you know that our meeting has been postponed for reasons only Allah knows, but Kerbala, please don’t be disappointed, please forgive me for this short coming of mine. I don’t know the reason behind my failure, but maybe I failed in my duties to the Lord, or maybe I didn’t fulfill my obligations to Husain, or maybe I just let down myself.

So Kerbala, I won’t be amongst the millions that will visit you in the coming week, I won’t be amongst the millions who will walk for days just to meet you, I won’t be there to embrace you, nor to see you, but O Kerbala, you are in my heart. O Holy Land, pardon my absence, but make it a reason for my visit in the coming days, because O Land, I am in love with you.

My friend, you have gone through a lot of miseries, problems and difficulties in your life. You were there when Husain was killed, when Abbas’s arms were chopped, when Asgher was struck by a three headed spear and when the caravan was looted. Despite of all this, you have been loyal to the master, you have been an amazing host and are the identity of heaven on earth.

Therefore my friend, I ask you, to host my brothers and sisters coming to visit you, to show them the love, spread within them the aroma and fragrance of heaven, but most of all, O land, make not their meeting with the Master Husain the last, but, one of the many more to come.

O friend, how lucky you are, on you are two holy personalities, to you do millions come every month, and angels descend to yours every hour, so does the Holy Prophet and his progeny, all with nothing but the love and hope to meet and pay respects to Husain, the saviour of humanity.

I shall end this letter O Kerbala, with tears in my eyes, my hands trembling with fear, my body shocked and my heart devastated for missing out the opportunity to meet you once again. However, O lovely friend of mine, I shall be back soon, to visit you and my master Husain.

May you be blessed and loved as always,

Kind regards,

Your devastated friend,

Lover of Husain!

Interview with Sheikh Khalil Jaffer

Amongst many things, Brother Khalil Jaffer is commonly referred to as an inspiring speaker. Born in Mombasa, Kenya, he also holds a degree in computer science, and has worked in various related fields such as a software developer. As a youth, he first found his voice “in youth groups in the community…and youth presentations, very much like we have in Ramadhan before the lecture”, he said. “So we’d be encouraged to give lectures like that”. His powerful and adept public speaking further developed during the period after his secular studies, where he lectured at his local college. After seven years in Nairobi he relocated to Dubai for a further five years, before finally moving to Toronto. Having been part of a number of our community hotspots gives him a unique insight into the development of our society
today.

Lecturing for him is just a means, not an end. “Many of us are not aware of the rich Islamic heritage we have”, he explained. “Because I have an active interest in Islamic studies and I have access to a lot of this material through the Arabic language, I see my role as trying to expose to the community this knowledge and heritage, that they may not be aware of”. Br. Khalil Jaffer is actively pursuing just that. He is currently “involved in a long-term Qur’an Tafseer project”, he admitted. “Insha’Allah, when this project comes to fruition, it will not only increase the Muslim’s understanding of the Qur’an, but I think it will also change the perspective of non Muslims on the
Qur’an. It is something I am very passionate about”. And it doesn’t stop there. “What I would like to do is maybe sometime next year, is to start a Qur’an Tafseer class, where I can start sharing some of the work that I am doing”.

His inspirational lectures have particularly attracted the youth. However, “I never saw myself as a role model”, he confessed. Instead, “our leaders need to be inspired role models for the youth, the role model for the youth in the community should not be me, it should be the leader”.

“Our current leaders have four very good qualities, they are sincere and well meaning. They have love for their own communities, by ethnicity. They are very good administrators, and they are also very active humanitarians”, he summarized.

However, for the leaders of the community to be role models for the next generation, there are a few concerns that first need to be addressed. Specifically, “there are four things that we need to be concerned about in the community, and these are tied directly to our leadership”, he continued. “As difficult as it may seem, these concerns can be met with “four qualities that need to be nurtured in our
leadership.”

“The first concern is how do we preserve our Islamic culture, in the environment we live in?” he questioned. Solving this conundrum is more than just a regular challenge, because we live in a “non-Muslim, materialistic society and we constantly see an erosion of Islamic values”, he added.

In order to solve this problem, “We need leaders who are knowledgeable in both the secular and religious fields. I would say at a minimum, they should be knowledgeable enough to lead us in Salaat and Friday prayers,” he suggested.

Another major concern that continues to riddle our community “is how can we be united without being divided upon ethnicity or faith?” he said thoughtfully.Community gaps based on ethnic boundaries will continue to plague us unless our leaders “are aware of the different centers. They should have a vision outside their own ethnicities, in order to unite us, in the greater Shia community, and even the greater Muslim community.” He said.

Thirdly, another major “concern is how do we remove apathy amongst the youth, and increase activism?” For example, “the youth say they want lectures in English, we have lectures in English they don’t come. They say we need interesting speakers, we bring interesting speakers they still don’t come”. One possible way to solve this would be to have leaders who are inspired role models for the youth – not me”, he
advised.

Living in the West implies good access to secular education. Where we mustn’t cut ourselves short is “Islamic education. How do we encourage it in our community?” From past experiences, we are more aware that “our leaders need to be knowledgeable in current Muslim affairs, and they should be courageous enough to defend Islam outside the community”, he suggested.

“This interview was first published in the Times of Wali Magazine in Toronto, Canada. Republished with permission. “

Muharram!! A month of mourning, sadness and grief! Why??- By Farhat Zahra Pyarali

Muharram!! A month of mourning, sadness and grief! Why??
The greatest sacrifice in humanity that has made every soul cry.
Its the personality of Hussein, the grandson of the holy Prophet Mohammed, that shook mankind,
Kerbala, the land where Islams message was read.
Its not all about the bloodshed that the tragedy took place,
Its the words of ” I will not give my hand to a man like you” on the tyranny (Yazid’s) face.
72 companions & Hussein fought and gave up all they had,
But the attrocities they were made togo through were heartbreaking and sad.
Their heads were cut,children slapped and women removed off their coverings,
But still the family of the Holy Prophet stood firm through all the happenings.
Be it an elderly like Hussein,a youngster like Ali Akber or a 6 month old baby Ali asghee, they were ready to stand up for the truth,
Anything to stand against the man who was a liar, womanizer & most of all a disgrace to the religion of Islam.
On the 10th of Muharram, the day of Ashura, Hussein and his companions gave away their lives,
The time it was proven that a precious life is worth giving in the name of truth and religion.
Its the bravery of these martyrs that Islam has reached our ears,
That today the word ” Ya Hussein” is what everyone hears.
Zainab, the sister of I. Hussein who took care of the ladies after his death,
Dragged from Kerbala to kufa and shaam but gave an excellent speech in the palace of Yazid just showed her level of faith.
Kerbala is not a commemoration of Muharram but a mission for Islam to carry,
The direct link that can lead to the appeaeance of the son of Hussein “Al-Mahdi” to hurry.
Let us try & follow the actions of these amazing personalities & fear none but the Almighty,
And to HIM we pray for a chance to visit the holy land of Kerbala, Labbaik Ya Hussein!!

Islamophobia- What caused this Psychological Mindset? By Haani M Virjee. Part 3/3

Religious Illiteracy

The lack of knowledge about a particular topic or item combined with the lack of interest in learning about it, creates opinions formed from passive information, particularly those obtained from the news media. There is a direct relationship between the negative portrayal of and lack of knowledge about Islam in the media and Islamophobia. Religious illiteracy has been a pressing issue in America for quite a long time, and it has not necessarily been addressed. Stephen Prothero notes that in a 1945 Gallup poll, Americans were asked “to name the founder of any religion other than Christianity. Only a third were able to do so.” He goes on to say that “in a more recent study the overwhelming majority of Americans freely admit that they are not at all familiar with the basic teachings of Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism.”11 Considering the amount of ethnic and religious diversity in America, this fact is as ironic as problematic. Religious diversity is allowed by the Constitution. Citizens can practice their religion of choice, and the U.S. cannot declare a national religion.

In an ABC News poll conducted in 2004, Americans were asked questions that displayed their opinions about Islam. The poll noted which Americans felt they understood the religion and which Americans felt they did not understand or were unfamiliar with it. The results show that “[a]mong Americans who feel they do understand the religion, 59 percent call it peaceful and 46 percent think it teaches respect for the beliefs of others.” On the other hand, those who are unfamiliar with the religion are “19 points less likely to call it peaceful, and half as apt to say it respects other beliefs.” Lastly, when asked if their opinions were favorable of Islam, those “who feel they have a good understanding of Islam are 15 points more apt to view it favorably.”12 This data reiterates the fact that many Americans either do not have the time or are not interested in actively seeking out information from credible sources, yet at the same time are still forming opinions. What needs to be understood is that religion informs the decisions one makes, guides the way one lives life, and ultimately shapes how one views the world. If American citizens are not religiously literate enough to understand each other, how is the country going to be unified? In addition, it might be difficult for the nation to build solid relationships with certain nations abroad, in which a national religion is declared.

Conclusion

The exponential increase in attention that Islam has received in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 has caused a demand for the religion to explain every single action of those individuals who claim to be associated with it. With the media constantly displaying violent images associated with Islam, as well as with the mistranslation of words, the skepticism, prejudice, fear, or notion of Islamophobia that people have has become increasingly harder to remove. The portrayal of Muslim women has also caused Islam to appear as something alien and foreign. However, the substantial effect the media is having is largely due to most Americans forming opinions without actively seeking knowledge about Islam. The actions of a few individuals should not be able to define what a religion stands for. True Islam, and for that matter, most religions, stand for peace, justice, and humanity. Only one who is religiously literate will be able to recognize this important fact.

Islamophobia: What Caused This Psychological Mindset?- By Haani M Virjee Part 2

Islamic Terminology: The Misuse of Words

The media has taken Islamic terminology and has gone beyond merely using words out of context. Instead, it has completely distorted the meaning of various words, giving a translation that is not even close to the original. As it turns out, this inaccuracy of translation also contributes significantly to Islamophobia. One such word that is inaccurately translated is the word “Jihad.” Dina Ibrahim notes “one of the ongoing problems with western coverage of Islam is that Jihad is always translated as holy war.” He goes on to say that “Jihad is not a holy war. It is a struggle to overcome the forces of evil.” Finally, he stresses that “the concept of Jihad has been abused by Bin Laden and his followers, as well as network news.”7 The literal meaning of Jihad is indeed “struggle”; however, this term is used in many different contexts in Islam. The word Jihad can be used in a military context, but not in the way that the media portrays it-as a term being used to wage war against all other religions. In truth, it can only be used in a military context if one is oppressed and needs to resort to militant means to overcome oppression, or if one needs to resort to militant needs to defend land. The type of Jihad that is actually stressed more in Islam is the internal Jihad, or the struggle within oneself to resist temptation to commit sin. Arguably, this type of struggle is much more difficult to overcome. Finally, an example of Jihad that people are not even aware they are familiar with is the Jihad of Martin Luther King Jr. to fight for civil rights.

Another term that has been incorrectly used is the term “madrasa,” which has been defined in the media as an Islamic school where young Muslim men go to learn how to perform terrorist attacks on nations such as the U.S. In fact, in an ABC News report Bob Woodruff described madrasas in Islamabad by saying, “This is where the recruits begin their education, a collection of religious schools known as madrasas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.” He later states, “[T]hey study the Koran and they learn about jihad, or holy war.”8 This interpretation of a madrasa is false. A madrasa is an Islamic school. It is not a place where young adults learn about holy war, but instead madrasas are where children learn morality, good behavior, and acts of worship consistent with the teachings of Islam. In the US for example, madrasas can be equivocated to Sunday school for many Christians. As a result of the media, many madrasas that now exist are incorrectly interpreted as types of terrorist recruitment centers.

Media Portrayal of Women in Islam

The portrayal of Muslim women has also contributed significantly to Islamophobia. “One common perception about Islam through the media remains that women are treated as second-rate citizens.”9 This perception arises when many news channels show images of women wearing the burqa and discuss political systems, such as that of Saudi Arabia, where women are treated as second-class citizens. When Americans view this coverage, they not only condemn such a system, but they view Islam as something completely foreign to the ideals of American society. What needs to be understood is that the Arab culture in Saudi Arabia predominates social and political atmospheres. The problem is that when there is a conflict with Islamic principles, the inequalities and social injustices are made to look like they are part of the religion. Furthermore, since the two holiest sites of Islam are found in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government claims to rule under Islamic law, it is not surprising that the outside world associates everything the country
does with Islam. However, Divya Sharma stresses that it is “important to note that a majority of Muslim population in the U.S. is not the same as the Muslim population in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or elsewhere. Religion is largely interpreted within the larger socio-cultural context.”10 Culture and religion must be distinguished as well as apparent oppression verses actual oppression. In more democratic political systems, Muslim women wear their scarves and observe the “hijab” by their own choice.

“In the final part, we shall look into Religious Illiteracy and The Conclusion.”

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