Saturday, 27 May 2017

Ramadān Reflections Part 1: My First Ramadān


Friday, 26 May 2017

Ramadan starting tomorrow, Inshallah


Ramadan is starting tomorrow (27 May) in most countries Inshallah. Here are some links to help you:


Hadith and Fiqh on Ramadan fasting: http://islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/Hadiths/




Fatawa related to Ramadan: http://islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/Fatawa/

Medical benefits and Health issues in Ramadan: http://islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/Health/

Everything about Zakat: http://islamawareness.net/Zakat/

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

When a Priest Recognized the Prophethood of Muhammad

Waraqa ibn Nafal was one of the most well-known Arab Christians living in Mecca during the 7th century. He had converted to Christianity from paganism. Historical accounts tell us that Nafal was a Nestorian priest, a respected man, and scholar of Christianity. In terms of his scholarly background, a Hadith (Bukhari) states that Nafal “… would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write.” It has also been reported by Block that Nafal may have been an Ebionite. The Ebionites, Block writes, “stressed the humanity of Jesus and the oneness of God, a Christology not likely to have elicited a negative response from the Qur’an.”
So how exactly is Nafal connected to Muhammad? After receiving the first Qur’anic revelation on Mount Hira, Prophet Muhammad returned home in disarray and confusion to Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife and the cousin of Nafal. Khadija proceeded to bring her husband to Nafal, who told them both that Muhammad had met Gabriel, the angel of revelation, just as Gabriel had visited Moses centuries earlier. A Hadith describes the encounter between Prophet Muhammad and Nafal:
“… The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa ibn Nafal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospel in Arabic. Waraqa asked (the Prophet), ‘What do you see?’ When he told him, Waraqa said, ‘This is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly.”
Nafal eventually emerged as a keen supporter of Prophet Muhammad. As a Christian, he encouraged Muhammad to spread his monotheistic message, which suggests that Nafal indeed believe in the Prophet’s leadership and moral character. Oxford Islamic Studies notes that “according to tradition, [Nafal] assured Muhammad that his call to prophecy and message were genuinely from God. [Nafal] acknowledged that Muhammad’s recitation was identical to the revelation given to Moses.”
Some scholars describe Nafal as a “believer” or “Muslim” because he accepted Muhammad as a prophet of God. This very topic of Christians recognizing the prophethood of Muhammad is something that I tried to unpack in a previous article. Other scholars posit that Nafal had a significant influence on the development of Prophet Muhammad’s religious views. Katz, for example, claims that Muhammad had probably met Nafal long before his marriage to Khadija. According to Katz, Prophet Muhammad likely had at least 15 years of opportunity of religious discussions with Nafal, a man who knew the scriptures.
Nafal is an interesting case for analysis because, as Block notes, the Qur’an did not refute his Christian theology. This is a similar argument that I made in claiming that a Christian, such as myself, can recognize Muhammad as a prophet of God. The approach that Nafal adopted towards Muhammad and Islam reminds me of a few passages from the Bible, particularly in the Book of Matthew. In this Book, Jesus tells his disciples to be “People of Peace” and encourages them to find worthy people who are open, hospitable, and knowledgable. Fortunately, Nafal found Muhammad. Their relations give us an imperative historical friendship that shatters the myth that Christianity and Islam are incompatible entities.
Source

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

How are Muslims Portrayed in Hollywood OnePath Network OnePath Network



Muslims are arguably the most vilified group of people in the history of Hollywood. This article will reveal how Muslims are portrayed in Hollywood throughout its years in film production.
Since the emergence of Hollywood as the home of the U.S film industry, the various films made over the years have stolen the identity of numerous groups of people including the Muslim community. However, the consistency of negative Muslim stereotypes has remained from the earliest obscure Hollywood pictures to the most recent blockbuster action films.
The inheritance of exaggerated or fabricated images and tales from European travellers (200-150 years ago) have shaped the image of the Muslim we see today in our films. These images have become familiar within almost every film that depicts Muslims. So when Hollywood injects Muslims into their films they either cast them as:
  • The rich, amorous ‘sheikh’ that loves the white American women, with blue eyes and blonde hair.
  • The rich ‘sheikh’ who is trying to buy American Property.
  • The terrorist who is trying to end the American way of life.
Full article

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Mother's Struggle in the Quran




".. And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother carried him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination." (Surah Luqman: 14)



Monday, 15 May 2017

The extraordinary ways in which China humiliates Muslims


CHINESE officials describe the far western province of Xinjiang as a “core area” in the vast swathe of territory covered by the country’s grandiose “Belt and Road Initiative” to boost economic ties with Central Asia and regions beyond. They hope that wealth generated by the scheme will help to make Xinjiang more stable—for years it has been plagued by separatist violence which China says is being fed by global jihadism. But the authorities are not waiting. In recent months they have intensified their efforts to stifle the Islamic identity of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, fearful that any public display of their religious belief could morph into militancy.

Xinjiang’s 10m Uighurs (nearly half of its population) have long been used to heavy-handed curbs: a ban on unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca, orders to students not to fast during Ramadan, tough restrictions on Islamic garb (women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses), no entry to many mosques for people under 18, and so on.

But since he took over last August as Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo has launched even harsher measures—pleased, apparently, by his crushing of dissent in Tibet where he previously served as leader. As in Tibet, many Xinjiang residents have been told to hand their passports to police and seek permission to travel abroad. In one part of Xinjiang all vehicles have been ordered to install satellite tracking-devices. There have been several shows of what officials call “thunderous power”, involving thousands of paramilitary troops parading through streets.

Last month, new rules came into effect that banned “abnormal” beards (such as the one worn by the man pictured in front of the main mosque in Kashgar in south-western Xinjiang). They also called on transport workers to report women wearing face veils or full-body coverings to the police, and prohibited “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervour”. A leaked list of banned names includes Muhammad, Mecca and Saddam. Parents may not be able to obtain vital household-registration papers for children with unapproved names, meaning they could be denied free schooling and health care.
Residents have also been asked to spy on each other. In Urumqi, the region’s capital, locals can report security threats via a new mobile app. People living in Altay in northern Xinjiang have been promised rewards of up to 5m yuan ($720,000) for tip-offs that help capture militants—over 200 times the local income per person.

Across Xinjiang residents have been asked to inform the authorities of any religious activities, including weddings and circumcisions. The government is also testing its own people’s loyalty. In March an official in Hotan in southern Xinjiang was demoted for “timidity” in “fighting against religious extremism” because he chose not to smoke in front of a group of mullahs.
Mr Chen is widely rumoured to be a contender for a seat in the ruling Politburo in a reshuffle due late this year. Displays of toughness may help to ingratiate him with China’s president, Xi Jinping, who has called for “a great wall of iron” to safeguard Xinjiang. Spending on security in Xinjiang was nearly 20% higher in 2016 than the year before. Adverts for security-related jobs there increased more than threefold last year, reckon James Leibold of La Trobe University and Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology at Korntal, Germany.
Uighurs have been blamed for several recent attacks in Xinjiang. In one of them in February, in the southern prefecture of Hotan, three knife-wielding men killed five people and injured several others before being shot dead by police (local reports suggested the violence occurred after a Uighur family was punished for holding a prayer session at home). Officials may be congratulating themselves on the success of their tactics; reported large-scale attacks by Uighurs inside and outside Xinjiang have abated in the past 18 months. Yet as in Tibet, intrusive surveillance and curbs on cultural expression have fuelled people’s desperation. “A community is like a fruit,” says a Uighur driver from Kashgar. “Squash it too hard and it will burst.”

Source

Friday, 12 May 2017

Unbreakable: The Spirit of Hajar

IN A BARREN desert, under a blistering sun, a woman leaned against the trunk of a twisted tree, cradling her infant and trying to shield him from the merciless elements. With only a small water-skin and a bag of dates that was already worrisomely light, she watched as her husband turned his back on her and walked away. As he drew further and further away, she couldn’t bear it anymore. “Are you leaving us?” she called out to him. She received no response; the only sound was that of his footsteps in the sand, leaving behind no footprints. “Are you leaving us in this valley, where there is no one and nothing?” she cried out again, looking down at her son’s tiny face. Her heart lurched with panic at the idea of being alone in this empty place, desolate as it was – and then, almost instantly, another thought occurred to her and her heart leapt instead with a sense of certainty. Intuitively, she knew that despite the circumstances, nothing would harm her or her son; something greater awaited her, though she had no idea what it was.
“Has Allah commanded you to do this?” she asked, her voice steady. The man paused, and nodded. “Then He will never neglect us,” she said quietly.
Unseen by Hâjar, her husband smiled sadly and then, when he was out of sight, raised his hands in supplication.
Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. [Sûrat Ibrâhîm, 14:37]
Behind him, leaning against the tree, Hâjar (English: Hagar) prepared herself for a future which held far more than she could ever imagine. I am satisfied to be with Allah, she murmured, [i]  and knew that no matter how empty the desert was around her, she would never be truly alone.
In that one moment, this woman’s intuition, and her trust and certainty in her Lord, made her one of the greatest individuals in all of history. Hâjar went from being an unknown slave woman in Egypt to a symbol of spiritual conviction, deep insight, and decisive action. Although she is best known as the wife of Prophet Ibrahim and the mother of Ismâᶜîl (English: Ishmael), she was recognized by Allah and His Messenger in her own right.
Her story is one of those which we repeat often, familiar to us all, and yet one which holds so much more for us than merely the rote lessons we have been taught. Her words, echoing in the desert, rang strong with tawakkul (reliance) upon Allah, but her words were far more than a hollow spiritual mantra.
Hâjar was a woman who did not allow her circumstances to overwhelm or control her; she was not content to simply declare faith in God while remaining passive. Instead, Hâjar exemplified what it meant to be pro-active and determined even in the face of obstacles seemingly impossible to overcome. Stranded in the desert, surrounded by sand and little else, with a child dependent upon her for survival, Hâjar was not content to remain idle or to surrender herself to the seemingly inevitable, or to await a miracle from the heavens to be handed to her. She seized control where there was little to be had.  Determined to find something to change her condition, she strode between Safa and Marwa, unrelenting in her persistence. She was acutely aware of the fact that her position was not an easy one, and that her son’s life was in jeopardy. No doubt, it would have been all too easy for her to break down into tears, to allow herself to be a victim of circumstances, or to be paralyzed by fear. However, Hâjar chose instead to place her trust in Allah and actively pursued a course of action which –though it may have seemed futile to anyone watching– exemplified her spirit of resilience and purposefulness.
Nor did she give up after one or two attempts, and accept failure as an option –or as the likely outcome. Seven times – in the blazing heat, her infant’s wails ringing in her ears even as the land around her remained deafeningly silent – seven times did Hâjar ascend the hillocks of Ṣafa and Marwa, seven times did she struggle to seek sustenance and aid for herself and her child, seven times did she push herself past the limits of her weariness and her worry… Then, and only then, once she had done everything she possibly could, did Allah send the angel Jibrîl (English: Gabriel) from the seven heavens to the earth, to dig his wingtip into the parched earth and release the flowing waters of Zamzam.
Yet even then, as the pure, crystalline liquid poured over her hands, Hâjar didn’t allow herself to get swept up in the moment. With brilliant foresight, she knelt down and formed the first boundaries of what will forever be known as the Well of Zamzam.
And even when Allah fulfilled the du¢â’ of Ibrahim by sending the tribe of Jurhum to settle in that once-barren land, Hâjar never let herself become complacent or naively think that all her problems were solved. “You may use the water,” she told the tribes people, “but it will always belong to me and my son.” Her words were a sign of her shrewd foresight; not only was she protecting herself and Ismâᶜîl, but she was preserving a miraculous legacy for all of humankind. The waters of Zamzam remain safeguarded and cherished as a reminder of Allah’s innumerable blessings even in times of severe tribulation.
May Allah have mercy on the mother of Ismâîl! The Prophet supplicated for her,  [ii]   and we too echo his words –for in Hâjar we have the most beautiful and enduring story of a believer’s test of faith in a hopeless time, a single parent’s struggle for survival against all odds.
Today, the Muslim Ummah has many others like Hâjar, single mothers and single fathers alike; those who have found themselves unexpectedly on their own, stranded by fate in circumstances beyond their choosing, and left with only their trust in Allah and their own indomitability to help them traverse this unforeseen destiny.
These women and men are an example for us all: like Hâjar, they do not let themselves be victims of circumstances, but are determined to find a solution regardless of how hopeless their plight may seem. They rely upon Allah, knowing that He is Al-Razzâq (the Provider), and knowing also that He will not change the situation of a person unless they change themselves. [iii]  In a world where it is increasingly difficult to raise a family, these single parents push themselves beyond what many of us could imagine –unfaltering in their belief in their Lord, their desire to raise their children to love Him and worship Him, and to protect them from the harsh realities of poverty, social injustice, and more.
Alas, many Muslims do not honor these heroes and heroines of our Ummah as they deserve to be honored. Far too many of us view single parents as somehow lacking, or less worthy of respect. We do not realize that the struggles they are experiencing are in fact the same ones that Hâjar went through herself –for which she was honored by the Lord of the Worlds, Who decreed that it was obligatory for every Muslim to follow in her footsteps between Ṣafa and Marwa during both Hajj and Umrah. How can we claim to fulfill the spirit of the pilgrimages if our feet travel between those two mountains, yet our hearts remain unmoved by the greatness of Hâjar, and all those who embody her spirit on a daily basis?
Hâjar is a woman whose story is an inspiration to us all, whether single parents or otherwise. She was an individual who refused to take on the identity of victimization, an attitude of helplessness, or acceptance of failure; she knew that while Allah would never abandon her, she could not abandon herself either. No matter what difficult straits we find ourselves in – financial, emotional, or otherwise – it is Hâjar whom we should remember when we are tempted to surrender ourselves to a sense of defeat. Her taqwa, her tawakkul, and her spirit of resilience was stronger than the landscape she traversed: a true heroine of Islam.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

May Day rallies for Muslim women's labour rights

Protesters in the capital, Stockholm, as well as in the cities of Malmo, Gothenburg, Vasteras, Sala and Umea, chanted slogans such as "crush racism", "my hijab is not your business" and "employment is our right". 

"Muslim women here [Gothenburg] don't usually go out to protests on May Day, so it's empowering to see so many people from different backgrounds fighting for labour rights," Maimuna Abdullahi, one of the event organisers, told Al Jazeera. 
"I came out because it's our society's responsibility to stand for all of us," said Gabrielle Guastad, a participant in the march, which was planned by a network of Swedish activists in Gothenburg called The Right to our Bodies.
Another marcher, Khaali Mohammed, said: "I marched because it's my right to wear whatever what I want. The least the march could do is educate people and break the silence surrounding Muslim women's worker's rights."
Full article

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Playing the Taqiyya card – Evading intelligent debate by calling all Muslims liars

The Real Meaning of “Taqiyya”

The origin of this conjured term however is a ruling that permits a believer to conceal his or her faith when under the threat of persecution or attack from forces hostile to Islam (Qur’an 16:106, 3:28). The word literally connotes being ‘fearful’ (Lane’s Lexicon, p. 310), and in fact conveys a commonsense notion present amongst all cultures and faiths – in a context in which someone is trying to kill you or others because of your beliefs, it is appropriate to hide those beliefs. Another famous example is Corrie Ten Boom lying to Nazis that she was hiding Jews in her attic – no one with a moral conscience would fault her for lying to save lives from murderous criminals.
Given that the word ‘taqiyya’ has only been used in Islam to refer to Muslims saving themselves from mortal danger by concealing their faith, that should readily dismantle the Islamophobic claim that Muslims are generally taught to lie to non-Muslims. However, when confronted with the fact that their use of the term ‘taqiyya’ is a grotesque misrepresentation, Islamophobes run to another concept in an attempt to buttress their caricature of Muslims as dishonest criminals. They cite a saying of the Prophet that “Warfare is deceit (Ar. khida’ah).” But here again they find no support as this reference to military strategy involving tricks has been echoed by practically every civilization in human history. It is most famous on the lips of Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who stated in The Art of War, “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” Once again, we find that behind the seemingly scary use of Arabic jargon, there are nothing more than run-of-the mill commonsense notions that every civilization has expressed.
Moreover, by unanimous consensus, Muslim scholars have explicitly pointed out that tricking the enemy on the battlefield (khida’ah) is very different from treachery (khiyanah) or breaking a covenant, the latter being universally prohibited.

The lie that Islam condones lying

What Islamophobes who peddle the myth of taqiyya choose to ignore is that while Islam permits believers to conceal their faith in the face of persecution, nowhere does Islam grant Muslims general permission to lie with the intention of deception. In fact, Islam strongly condemns dishonesty as a trait that is antithetical to true faith in God, and a sign of hypocrisy.
Ayesha, the wife of the Prophet, said: “There was no behavior more hateful to the Messenger of Allah than dishonesty. A man would lie when narrating something in the presence of the Prophet and he would not be satisfied until he knew that he had repented.”
Moreover, Muslims must be entirely honest and truthful when conveying the teachings of Islam; the Qur’an states that one of the greatest evils is for a person to lie about the teachings of Islam, inventing a lie against God (Quran 39:32).
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/playing-the-taqiyya-card-evading-intelligent-debate_us_5906ecdbe4b084f59b49fabc

Monday, 8 May 2017

If you want to know about Muslim women's rights, ask Muslim women

Muslim women in Australia
Good points made by this amazing sister, let them tell their own stories! 
Within minutes of arriving to collect my professionally bound thesis, I found myself on the receiving end of an unsolicited and impenetrable rant about female genital mutilation.
“What’s your paper on?” the shop owner inquired.
“It’s on Muslim women and … ,” I began, but before I could finish my sentence, he had launched into the subject.
The fact that I hadn’t even mentioned the words “female genital mutilation” was irrelevant; merely saying “Muslim women” was a wide enough rabbit hole for him to dart down. My presence as a Muslim woman and my half-delivered topic were the only encouragement he needed.
That he felt authorised to deliver a lecture to me about his understanding of the allegedly sexist treatment of women in Islam, the very subject of my years-long PhD dissertation, didn’t surprise me. This was not the first time a stranger had felt entitled to raise the potential religious interference of my genitals with me.
It’s uncanny how often people try to demonstrate their concern about the alleged oppression of Muslim women by humiliating them. Even finding out the details of my research findings doesn’t seem to deter them from baldly sharing opinions.
Full article

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Omar ibn Said: the Islamic scholar who became a slave



Omar ibn Said was the son of a wealthy father and was born in 1770 in the region of Futa Toro. He would take on Arabic and other Islamic studies and eventually become a teacher of Qur’an in his village. In 1807, he was on a military campaign with a rival tribe and was enslaved. Said, was sent to Charleston, South Carolina; and owned by “Johnson” who, in the words of Said, was “weak, small, and evil”. Said, escaped from Johnson and found himself in the woods of North Carolina where he came upon a house. Omar decided to enter to pray, it can be said Said, had no idea where he was on the social stratification in the United States.

Said would have been familiar with the slave system in Islamic West Africa, which is described by Sylviane Diouf in her book Servants of Allah: African Muslim enslaved in the Americas. According to Diouf, slaves in many African societies lived with the families or in a near by village. This form of slavery resembled European serfdom more so than American chattel slavery. As far as slavery in an Islamic context, Said knew he was a prisoner of war, and never seemed to question his enslavement but only his treatment as a slave.
Returning to Omar ibn Said’s life, after he entered the house he was later arrested and placed in a jail in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In the cell there was a pile of coal. With this coal he would write Qur’an verses on the jailhouse walls. It should be noted that West Africa had no concept of jails, this would be another foreign concept to Omar ibn Said. Said became a local celebrity of sorts and caught the attention of General James Owen of North Carolina. It was under the ownership of James Owen that Said openly converted to Christianity. He was even gifted an Arabic Bible by Francis Scott Key (Key and Said had exchanged letters in 1819. In one of these letters Said wrote Key, Surah Nasr(The Victory). The conversion of Said has been questioned by many historians and scholars such as Ala Alryyes but, this shall be covered later.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

India's Cheraman mosque: A symbol of religious harmony

On India's western coast, facing the Arabian Sea, there once lived a Hindu king who had a vision of the Moon splitting into two halves. Concerned that the dream was a warning, he immediately asked his court astrologers to interpret what he had seen.

They couldn't provide an explanation that would satisfy the king so the problem remained unsolved until a group of Arab traders arrived at his port, in what is now India's southern state of Kerala. The traders explained that the king's vision was most likely a reference to one of the miracles performed by the Prophet Muhammed.
Convinced, the king converted to Islam and set off to Mecca, Islam's holiest site. He died before he could return to his kingdom, but left instructions to build what would become India's first mosque.
That at least, is how the myth goes.
The actual history of the Cheraman mosque in the town of Kodungallur is murkier. According to a foundation stone on its premises, the mosque was built in AD629, but the evidence is conflicting.
Historian Rajan Gurukkal, who is originally from Kerala, says that the mosque was probably built closer to the 11th or 12th centuries. But Mohamed Sayeed, the president of the mosque's managing committee, says tradition maintains that it was the first in India.
Kodungallur is about an hour north of Kochi city, a popular tourist destination, but few foreign visitors come here. The state government, however, hopes that will change as it embarks on an ambitious project that will highlight the area's history.
Source

Monday, 1 May 2017

German soldier posing as a Syrian refugee arrested for planning 'false flag' terror attack

german-soldier.jpg
A German soldier found posing as a Syrian refugee has been arrested for allegedly planning a “false flag” shooting attack that would be blamed on asylum seekers.
The unidentified soldier was detained when he went to retrieve a loaded pistol he had hidden in a bathroom at Vienna International Airport.
The public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt said the 28-year-old is suspected of planning a serious “state-threatening act of violence”, fraud and violating firearms laws.
The man’s suspected accomplice, a 24-year-old student, was arrested in Hammelburg for alleged involvement in the plot. 
Police have searched the homes of the two suspects as well as their friends and workplaces, with detectives seizing “extensive material” including mobile phones, laptops and documents.
Prosecutors said the soldier had no permission for the 7.65mm pistol stashed in Vienna, while illegal weapons were also found at his accomplice’s house. 
Both men remain in custody in Frankfurt as the probe continues.
The soldier was arrested days after prosecutors revealed that the man who orchestrated the Dortmund bus bombings had attempted to frame Isis to make money on shares.