Thursday 24 December 2015

Star Wars and Daesh

NOTE: Spoilers below. If you intend to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, please do not continue reading

Apparently every other post on Daesh, I am asked who are they, so here is the link. Most people call them as ISIS, ISIL or just IS but Daesh is the correct name for them.

So we find out in this new movie that Kylo Ren is one of the main villians. Inspired by his grandfather, he is the new man in the iron mask. Even though his parents were instrumental in destroying Darth Vader and the evil Galectic Empire he chose the dark side over the light side.

In addition to his parents, Han Solo and Leia, probably telling him stories about how bad the dark side is and how they defeated the evil villians, he was taught the about the Force by his uncle Luke Skywalker. Luke, as we know believed in the Force whole heartedly and was the reason behind Darth Vader finally bringing the balance to the Force. I am sure he would have recounted hundreds of times how good triumphed over evil. Even after all this, how come a clever young man turn to being a monster and evil?

The Muslim world faces a similar problem. While Islam teaches about compassion, being kind, bringing harmony in the society, working for the greater good, etc., these young men and women are preferring to join Daesh and be merciless killers over being ideal role model in the society. Just blaming the Muslims for not doing enough is not a just reason. In fact many of these young men do not even understand Islam, they just think Google will help answer all their questions. A lot of the sites that Google shows are misleading and contain incorrect information.

Unfortunately there is no easy solution to the problem of young people joining the dark side. We all have to continue our utmost to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. I would like to end this with couple of verses from the Quran
...So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it. - The Qur'an, verses 99:7-8
...Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. - The Qur'an, verses 3:104

Thursday 17 December 2015

"you see in the Qur'an only what you yourself are"

 I was really moved by this Facebook post of Kamran Pasha's:
The non-linear nature of the Qur'an is a major stumbling block for some people. It confuses them and leads them to wrong interpretations, devoid of context. But for Muslims, the non-linear nature of the Qur'an is actually a reflection of the non-linear nature of God's mind. Since God exists beyond time and space, past, present and future are meaningless from God's point of view. So the Qur'an jumps around every few verses in flow with Divine consciousness, like a diamond flashing as it is held up to the light. You'll have a story in the Qur'an about Jesus, then it will flash back to Moses, and then forward to the Day of Judgement, and then to a contemporary historical situation facing Prophet Muhammad, and then flash back to Abraham, and so forth.
The idea is that through reading the Qur'an, your soul has to make the connections between these disparate tales intuitively. When approached with a spiritual outlook, the effect is wondrous and magical. But when approached from a negative or hostile mindset, the end result is quite the opposite. The Qur'an itself says that one's own character is intensified when one reads the Qur'an -- those seeking a positive interpretation will find it, and those seeking a negative interpretation will find it, as the reading of the Qur'an is simply a mirror into one's own soul -- you see in the Qur'an only what you yourself are. Mystics find love, scholars find knowledge, and hatemongers find violence.
That is why scholarly commentary on the Qur'an is so critical to balance the whispers of the soul. It makes sure that your interpretation is not just wild fancy and folly, as we often see today among both Muslim fanatics and anti-Muslim bigots who quote a few verses of the Qur'an out of context in order to justify the negative vision of Islam they wish to present. They literally cannot see any other interpretation of the Qur'an any more than they can see a different face when they look in the mirror.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Tuesday 15 December 2015

15 things I learnt about Islam and British values being a gay boy living opposite a mosque.



Loved this :)

  1. 1. No mosque has enough parking and muslim men love to complain about it. I don’t care how young or trendy they are, within seconds they will be pointing at bits of pavement muttering about the number of cars you could fit in there — like my Granddad from Manchester does at Sainsbury’s
  2. 2. You can do that look British people do to each other, when someone near by is making a scene, in a full face veil.
  3. 3. Muslims pray a lot.
  4. 4. You will be happy they pray a lot when you get stabbed on your door step and are too scared to go outside. So you time your trips to the shops to coincide with these prays as the streets are full of friendly people.
  5. 5. Muslims, like all British people have that one problematic uncle that kinda ruins family occasions.
  6. 6. When confronted with something out of their comfort zone, like me and my boyfriend in full drag dancing down the road, muslims like all British people get flustered and over compensate with being overly polite — a bit like Hugh Grant.
  7. 7. When finding out you have been dating your boyfriend for 5 years your muslim neighbours will be disgusted that you haven’t proposed. You hear “get a civil partnership — for your mothers sake” a lot.
  8. 8. Apparently there is usually half a cup of tea next to the pray matt when praying at home — especially for morning prayers.
  9. 9. Like in the rest of Britain all muslim fathers think their daughter is smarter than everyone, even though she is only 6 years old…
  10. 10.…and that their son is a heartbreaker even though its clear to everyone else that he spends all his time on his Xbox.
  11. 11. Young muslim women are really, really, really ambitious.
  12. 12. British people’s dry sarcasm works really well when confronting the times the more traditional parts of islam come face to face with modern gay culture. For example when I donated 3 sequined crop tops to the islamic relief Syria clothing drive, one of the older guys their smirked, shaking my hand and saying “our brothers and sisters in Syria thank you for the evening wear.”
  13. 13. There is always an Aunt who gets too involved in the wedding planning and annoys the bride.
  14. 14. During ramadan and eid there will be so many people on the streets going to mosque that the drugs dealers will have to move to other places — making your area really safe for a while.
  15. 15. Mothers will say anything to stop their kids nagging them. I once saw a Muslim mother tell her kid that wanted some fried chicken, after Friday night prayers, that the shop wasn’t halal even though there was a 5ft sq neon halal sign in the window. Reminds me of when my mum told me that the chip shop was closed for a private event as she wanted some peace.
The media stories about islam meant that I was genuinely a little nervous about moving in across the road to a mosque. What I have learnt in the four years since I moved is that the ridiculousness of British culture is universal. We all love tea, are really polite and tut rather than saying something, no matter our religion.

Friday 11 December 2015


Hajja Zaynab Al-Ghazzali’s life and legacy casts a long shadow over the turbulent and trying times in Egypt for advocates and champions of Islam during president Gamal Abdul-Nassir’s socialist reign.
The young Zaynab Al-Ghazzali was a visionary and a transformative agent in her day and age, by 18 she had already embraced, experienced and exited the Arab women’s feminist union in Egypt, turning away from a life of gender based activism towards a faith based mission that would span the rest of her living life.
Zaynab Al-Ghazzali sacrificed her Life, Love and Leisure for the cause of Islam and made it a contractual clause in her marriage to her husband, her influence and popularity interested the Arab socialist establishment and soon she was receiving invitations to join forces with the establishment in favour of president Nassir’s ideology but she refused and remained firm in her resolve.
Hajja Zaynab suffered and survived, she was imprisoned, tortured, stripped of her wealth, distanced from her relatives and routinely abused however her faith was unbreakable – during the darkest hours of her trials and tribulation in the dungeons of Nassir’s prisons Hajja Zaynab experienced several visions of the Prophet Muhammad (SalallAhu Aleihi wa Sallam) reassuring her that she was on the correct path. Join us as we retrace the footsteps of this exceptional pioneer, champion and role model for this generation and all those to come.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Istighfar: Seeking Forgiveness from Allah

“Truly, Allah loves those who repent, and He loves those who cleanse themselves.” [al-Baqarah 2:222]
“O Allah! Make me among those who, when they commit an act of virtue, feel good, and when they commit a mistake, they seek forgiveness.” [Ibn Majah]
Tawbah (repentance) and Istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah) are among the most meritorious acts of virtue for the believers. Tawbah means feeling remorse for our actions or omissions. Istighfar means expressing that remorse in words and begging Allah for forgiveness.
The act for which we perform tawbah and istighfar is not necessarily a sin, or an act of disobedience to Allah; it also includes our shortcomings. As we realize Allah’s immense favors to us, all of our thankfulness and devotion clearly appears to be inadequate. As we realize the grandeur of Allah, Most High, our acts of worship and obedience clearly are seen to be insufficient. The higher a person is on the scale of taqwa, piety and God consciousness, the greater is this sense of inadequacy. Consequently the greater is his/her practice of istighfar.
That is why all the Prophets (as) preached and practiced tawbah and istighfar. We do not have to invent any sins, inherited or personal, to explain their repentance. In fact all the prophets were free of sin, as Allah appointed them as role models for humanity and Allah did not send defective role models.
The leader of all the prophets was Prophet Muhammad (saw) a fact which was also symbolized in his leading of all the prophets in Salah (prayer) in Jerusalem during Isra’. And what did the prayer leader of the prophets use to do after every prayer? He used to say astaghfirullah (I seek Allah’s forgiveness) three times! This is the istighfar that comes out of the highest level of God consciousness! He taught us to perform istighfar profusely, as he himself practiced. The Companions have reported that he used to do istighfar hundreds of times during the course of a day.
Istighfar is also a means of enhancing that consciousness of Allah and strengthening our relationship with Him. We turn to no one except Allah in repentance. We confess our deepest errors, shortcomings, failures, and sins to Him and Him alone. In contrast, Christianity made a fatal mistake when it instituted confession to priests. As Martin Luther (1537) observed, “What torture, rascality, and idolatry such confession has produced is more than can be related”. We seek His forgiveness, knowing that He alone has knowledge about all our deeds and thoughts and He alone can forgive us and save us from the consequences of our actions. Istighfar, thus, is a most intimate conversation with Allah. And during that conversation we are at our humblest. We can see why tawbah and istighfar are the essence of our servitude and submission to Allah!
We need istighfar to constantly purify and cleanse our heart. We are not born in sin, but we are born in weakness. We are prone to fall prey to the many temptations that are part of our test in this life. And when we do fall and commit a sin, it produces a dark spot in our heart. A famous hadith, reported by Abu Huraira (ra) describes this process. When a person shows remorse and repents, that dark spot is removed. Otherwise it will stay there and grow with each additional sin. A time may come when his heart is full of darkness because of un-repented sins. We can see this gradual darkness of the heart as people advance in their sinful behavior. In the beginning they have a lot of inhibitions. They commit the wrong hesitatingly and feel bad about it. If they do not turn back, they get used to it, so it just feels normal. Then a stage comes when vice becomes virtue and virtue vice. They defend and advocate evil and shun good.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Thursday 26 November 2015

Muslims Aren’t A Race, So I Can’t Be Racist. Right? Wrong.

“Nonsense.” That is what people say when I accuse them of being racist. Their argument goes something like this: “Muslims are not even a race, so how the hell could I even be racist? You’re an idiot.” Because Muslims are not a race, people believe that any type of violence or oppression directed towards them cannot be racially motivated; that this form of hatred – known as Islamophobia – cannot be racism.
First, let me be clear. It is true that Muslims are not a race. The word “Muslim” itself connects to followers of Islam, a world religion – not a “race.” Muslims are a diverse religious grouping, and, in fact, one of the most heterogeneous populations in the world. In theory, the ummah – or global Muslim community – is made up of many “races.” Moreover, not all Muslims are simply born “Muslim,” like people are born White or Black. Muslim identity is something that one can acquire through conversion. In this sense, Muslim identity is nurtured and not natured.
Since I am focusing on the subject of identity and race, let me extend this discussion to other social groupings.
If Muslims are not a race, than which group is? Some people might immediately point to Black people, and say, “that is definitely a race. Look at their skin color.” But, to be exact, Black people are not a race either. Neither, for that matter, are White people.
Okay, now you might wonder about Jewish people? Certainly they are a race, right? Science proves they – like White and Blacks – are not a race either.
And what about Asians? Are they a race?
Nope. Asians are not a race.
The Indigenous People of America, a race?
Nope, not a race.
You see, there is no such thing as race or races, traditionally understood. 

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Being Religious Without Being a Jerk

Religiosity often turns people into jerks.
Many have witnessed this story: A young man or woman who used to be friendly, well-mannered, who treated people well, sadly turns into someone who shows mild annoyance upon meeting people who follow a different religious opinion. He shows anger when presented with arguments against his or her own point of view. Finally, he or she begins to pronounce judgment against others—pronouncing minor differences in opinion as proofs of disbelief.
When told to calm down, to stop being judgmental—the response comes in one of many flavors:
  • “Brother, I am enjoining the good and forbidding the evil!”
  • “We are defending the Sunnah!”
  • “When people are harsh against the Sunnah, we will be harsh in defending it!”
And so on.
Over what kinds of issues? Not the serious lack of counseling services in the community. Not the difficulty that our youth are having in protecting their faith from intellectual attack. Not the issues of domestic abuse, poverty, family breakups or homelessness afflicting non-Muslims and Muslims around us.
But the length of our pants and whether or not they are above our ankles, the lengths of our beards, etc. Perhaps one’s adherence or lack thereof to a group or organization. What we think about pseudo-philosophical concepts about the essence of God’s attributes.  Such meanness and harshness occurs not over what is physically affecting people, but over a disagreement between opinions in our minds. Over varying textual interpretations that result in different legal opinions or a creedal points unknown to the majority of the world’s Muslims.
Why does this happen to us when almost nothing is more important in our religion than the subjugation of our egos to the Power and Oneness of God?

Monday 23 November 2015

The Story of Prophet Yousuf | Imam Suhaib Webb

One of my favourite Sheikhs, great listen on Jummah.

The Muslim Sex Doctor: How Imam Alyas Karmani uses religious texts to counsel a community 'in sexual denial'

Imam Alyas Karmani uses religious text to help him counsel clients

The Iman tells me he “grew up in Tooting and the general rule was: don’t get seen with a girl and don’t talk about sexual feelings. Muslims in Britain and in much of the world are in a state of sexual denial.”
Even putting aside his enviable flat-cap collection, Alyas is not an average Imam. He studied psychology at Glasgow University and is working on a PhD in “The Crises of Masculinity and Urban Male Violence”. He loves bossa nova jazz but gave away his entire record collection when he discovered a more “orthodox” version of his faith in the late Eighties.  Today, at fortysomething, he is as comfortable discussing contemporary culture as he is leading Friday prayers at Bradford’s Muhammadia Mosque. It’s precisely this ability to tread two cultures with such grace that makes Alyas a boon to many Muslims in Britain who would be reluctant to share the intimate details of their sex lives with most other Imams, with family members or even friends.
Alyas tells me there is a method and a logic to forming his conclusions. “I have studied this area extensively and we know that everything is halal [permitted] unless it is expressly prescribed as haram [forbidden].” It’s this method of referencing text that makes the Imam’s advice so palatable to his clients, many of whom would not feel comfortable taking it from an exclusively secular source. But the system of Koranic interpretation and, more so, reliance upon Hadith can be dense and complicated. 
While there, I meet “Gabriel”, a 23-year-old university student who contacted Alyas about masturbation. When I point out that, in my understanding, students masturbating is “pretty normal”, Gabriel snaps, “I thought it was 100 per cent haram.” He first contacted the Imam after seeing a Hadith that referenced men on the day of judgement with “pregnant hands”.  He applied this to his own life and began dreading the day he would face God with his hand in prenatal agony. It was only after long conversation with the Imam that the authenticity of such a  Hadith was questioned. Alyas concludes the session. “Often, people bring textual proofs that don’t have any validity. I know that narration to be something which is unreliable.”

Wednesday 18 November 2015

A Message to My Sisters - Saad Tasleem

Never forget its Muslim women on the front line, they are far more likely to be attacked by the cowards.  Respect and protect your sisters!

New 'Study Quran' seeks to increase understanding

Lot of respect for Imam Suahib Webb so pleased to see him on the 'mainstream media'.

Monday 9 November 2015

What the Koran really says about women

Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, the Islamic scholar who taught me the Koran, once told me an old Indian joke. A Hindu goes to his Muslim neighbor and asks if he could borrow a copy of the Koran.
“Of course,”said the Muslim. “We’ve got plenty! Let me get you one from my library.”
A week later, the Hindu returns.
“Thanks so much,” he said. “Fascinating. But I wonder, could you give me a copy of the other Koran?”
“Um, you’re holding it,” said the Muslim.
“Yeah, I read this,” replied the Hindu. “But I need a copy of the Koran that’s followed by Muslims.”
“The joke is right,” said Akram. “All this talk about jihad and forming Islamic states, that’s not what the Koran says!”

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Israel tore Fadi Alloun’s family apart; then it killed him

Last week, Fadi Alloun celebrated his 19th birthday with friends in Issawiyeh, a village in occupied East Jerusalem. He was thrilled that he had recently obtained a driving license. As a birthday gift, his father promised to help him buy a car.
Fadi had no stable job but was eager to find enough paid work so that he could realize this dream.
Five days later, Fadi was slain by militarized Israeli police in the Musrara neighborhood, beside Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Israeli police claim Fadi had tried to stab an Israeli teenager. But video evidence from the scene of Fadi’s killing on Sunday does not corroborate this claim.
Rather, the videos show the Israeli police executing Fadi in cold blood. A group of Israeli Jews was filmed rejoicing at his death.
Fadi’s family insisted that the stabbing accusation was just an excuse used by Israel to try and provide some “justification” for his slaying.
“If he’d tried to stab a settler, we wouldn’t hide it,” said Haya Alloun, one of Fadi’s eight aunts. “Palestinian youth have every right to resist those who occupy our land. But I’m sure that he didn’t and you can be sure of this by watching the videos.”
Fadi’s experience with Israel’s apartheid system began when he was less than two years old.
His mother, who carried a Jordanian passport, travelled to Amman at that time to visit her sick father, taking Fadi’s younger brother with her.
The Israeli authorities banned her from returning to Jerusalem, tearing the family apart. For nearly 18 years, Fadi was unable to see his mother and brother. He could only talk to them on the phone or via the Internet.
Even after his death, the Israeli authorities have not yet granted his mother and brother a permit to pay Fadi a final farewell.
Because of the ban imposed on his mother, Fadi was raised by his father as an only child. His father, in his turn, refused to marry again, entirely devoting himself to his son, whom he described as “my heart and soul and everything in my life.”
“He was everything to me, the most precious thing in my life,” Samir Alloun, Fadi’s father, told The Electronic Intifada. “I was his father, his mother and his best friend. Our relationship was very special.”

Friday 30 October 2015

Monasteries, Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques

“Had not God repelled some people by the might of others, the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which God’s praise is celebrated daily, would have been utterly demolished. God will certainly help those who help His cause. . .These are the people who, if We establish them in the land, will remain constant in prayer and give in charity, enjoin justice and forbid evil.”
The Holy Quran, 22:40-41

Tuesday 13 October 2015

When You Think People Judge You | Maryam Amirebrahimi

Sometimes Muslims can be amongst the absolutely harshest of people, especially when it comes to fearing that any part of our faith is potentially being questioned. Even when it comes to correcting other Muslims, our community frequently pushes away people in our zealous and often incredibly harsh efforts to ‘correct’ one another, instead of teaching with kindness and ease.
In another experience I once had, when I was in college, an unknown campus member came into one of our Muslim Students’ Association meetings unannounced.
She was livid, her body language expressing anger, annoyance and mistrust. I was the President of the MSA at the time, and I approached her to welcome her at the end of our session. Most students had already left, but a friend was with me as I introduced myself. The woman started speaking aggressively immediately, and as she pointed to the scarves on me and my friend’s heads, she shouted: “…and with that piece of CRAP on your heads!”
My friend, a passionate and strong woman, immediately took a step up, her hands out, demanding: “What are you calling crap?!”
I stopped her, asked her to step aside and take a breather, and I ignored the woman’s comments. I calmly acknowledged her different perspective and gently invited her to speak with me about her concerns. Because the only information she knew about Muslims was from the media, I welcomed her to continue to attend our meetings so she could get to know real Muslims for herself.
She left still visibly hostile, but she had calmed down a little. I didn’t see or hear from her until the next week, when she entered our meeting. It was as if she was a completely different person. She was calm, she smiled, she even participated.
By the end, she came up to me and she said: “I want to apologize to you for my behavior. It was rude of me to come in before, the way I did, and to call what you wear crap.” I was moved by her change of heart, and she continued: “If you had responded the way your friend did when I said something offensive, I don’t think I would be here. But you showed me that even when I was being disrespectful towards your religion, you could still be respectful towards me. And that taught me a lot about Muslims.”
Imagine if my friend and I had both reacted in the moment, our emotions flaring, our voices raised! What would her impression of Muslims have been, in addition to the stereotypes she already had?
The Quran specifies how we should interact with those who outwardly offend us. Allah states:
(Among) the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk gently on the earth and when addressed by the ignorant ones, their only response is, “Peace be with you.” [Sûrat Al-Furqân, 25:63]
This ease, this gentleness, are marks of people of faith. And that kindness earns us the mercy of Allah. As the Prophet œ taught:
Whoever is kind, Allah will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth. He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you. (Abû Dâwûd).
He œ also encouraged:
Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished. (Bukhari)
Make things simple and do not complicate them. Calm people and do not drive them away. (Bukhari)
When a person reacts in a certain way to us, let us not immediately make the assumption that it’s due to their perceived thoughts on our religion unless that obviously is the reason. Maybe they’re going through a rough patch in their life. Maybe they’re very shy and have difficulty expressing themselves. Let’s allow people excuses. Let’s be gentle in our interactions. And even when we do feel offended (unless it’s within a legal or business situation and we can pursue it with the management, etc.), let’s remember that sometimes the best response is a kind, calm, and composed response.
As the Prophet œ taught us:
Shall I not tell you whom the (Hell) Fire is forbidden to touch? It is forbidden to touch a man who is always accessible, having a polite and tender nature. (Tirmidhi)
Let us strive to be of those whom the hellfire is forbidden to touch because of our characters.

Thursday 8 October 2015

How I became Pro-Palestinian and why it matters

I began doing some research and, about a year later, discovered Gideon Levy. Seeing an Israeli eloquently defend Palestinians and criticize Israeli policies and actions made it clear to me that there was not an Israeli and a Palestinian side to this “conflict,” but a right side and a wrong side.
Now I was determined to go see for myself. After a work opportunity appeared and a few months later, I was in Palestine. Like so many visitors, I was simultaneously overwhelmed by the friendliness, hospitality, thoughtfulness and gentleness of the Palestinian people and horrified by the excruciating injustice of their situation.
I was also stunned to see just how much I had been lied to all my life. The gates of Auschwitz were etched in my mind, yet I had never seen the gates, walls, guard towers and barbed wire that now surrounded me. “Bypass roads,” “flying checkpoints,” Kafkaesque permits required for seemingly everything wove a reality of which I had been told nothing. The Settlements looked less like “Little House on the Prairie” than like massive state-sponsored condos.
The infuriating stories every Palestinian had to tell were matched by the stories of foreign aid workers as well as my own observations. The taxi drivers at Ben Gurion (basically the only Israelis I spoke with), oblivious to the reality they drove through daily, spouted ignorance and stereotypes, even as the Palestinian drivers at work educated me on the complexities and nuances of Israeli society.
One of my first realizations was that Israel did not want peace; they wanted the land, and they did not want the local inhabitants. The map of the West Bank in my Palestinian boss’s office read like a death certificate for the two-state solution. The “Peace Process” was all process and no peace. This was a Colonial conquest in full swing, very calculatingly waged to balance attainment of the goal (“Greater Israel”) with dampening of foreign criticism. Furthermore, this was not confined to single administration, but intrinsic to Israeli policy, both Right and Left, going back for decades.