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