Tuesday 28 June 2016

From denial to acceptance: How a Hispanic family embraced Islam

Q: Arguably the most difficult thing converts face is telling their families about their conversion. It is a source of great anxiety for many, but your story has a happy outcome alhamdulillah. Janis, please tell us about how this chain of events began. When did you decide to convert?
Janis: Well, ever since I was little, I was conscious of God and very much in love with Him. I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school in Costa Rica, so I always prayed to God, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. Subhan’Allah, I used to pray to God to make me be like the Virgin Mary, and now I dress like her!
In 2011, I went to Costa Rica with my dad and my son who was four years old at the time. I decided to take a book to read as I always do when I travel. Something drew me to take the translation of the Holy Qur’an that had been sitting on my bookshelf for five years. I had read some parts of it here and there, but never cover to cover.
I began to read it on the plane, and continued with it after we landed. My son and I would read it at night wherever we were sleeping during our trip. We called it the “God book.” The interesting thing is that during the day I would have questions or even doubts, but when I read at night my questions would be answered.
After I returned home, I met two hijabi girls in my genetics class and we quickly became good friends. They invited me to their mosque where lectures took place weekly. When my mom found out that I was attending these lectures, she began to change her behavior toward me.
Q: How so?
Giselle: Being as open as I thought I was, it was difficult for me to accept her leaving Christianity. One day she asked me, “Mom, do you believe that Jesus is the son of God?”
I said, “No I believe he was a very special creation of God.” I think that was sort of the validation she needed to continue her path on Islam. When the changes started happening (she began to wear long blouses over jeans and a scarf around her neck), I panicked! I couldn’t understand what was changing in her and why. Then she started to wear hijab and eat only halal food. My reaction was to throw at her all the convincing arguments I could think of. I would say things like “only turtles cover their heads” and “God created us like flowers so that our beauty could be seen” and “since when is it our responsibility to cover ourselves? Isn’t it the man’s sin if he has lustful thoughts?” Janis is my only daughter and although she and I have always been modest in dressing, I still considered this new behavior to be something that didn’t belong in our culture.
Throughout my tantrums she remained calm and patient; she never lashed out at me or responded angrily. She would very patiently say, “Mom, Islam is not a culture, it’s a religion.”
I was extremely hurt and upset because ignorance is powerful and it can affect you very negatively. When Ramadan came, I couldn’t believe that she wouldn’t eat for so many days – as a mom I nearly died! [laughs]
Little by little I tolerated the changes in her but I never made an effort to understand Islam. What was so hypocritical of me is that I worked with two Muslim women for many years and I respected them and their religion. I knew about Mecca and the five pillars, but only attributed Islam to them because they were from Afghanistan. When my own daughter converted I didn’t try as hard as I should have had. Although looking back, and knowing that God is indeed the perfect planner, I know that things happened only when it was the right time. In His wisdom, God knew that even if I had tried, the veil between me and my faithwould not have lifted then.
Janis: I’m so thankful for everything that led up to this. At first, my mom didn’t like me going to the mosque, so when I decided to take my shahada I didn’t tell her or anyone in my family. Pretty soon, however, my parents started to notice the difference in the way I dressed. They figured it out before I even told them. I remember my mom saying once, “I’m fine with you going to the mosque and I’m fine with you learning about Islam, but the day you cover your head is the day I stop talking to you.” And so it sort of happened that way. In June 2012 I made the choice to wear hijab and every time I came through the door my mom would not kiss me or hug me until I took it off. For almost a year she wouldn’t even go out in public with me.
I had learned that we had to be respectful to our parents no matter what, so I tried my hardest to be kind to them despite their insults. Since the night I took my shahada, I asked Allah to please bring my mother and at least some of my brothers to Islam because I wanted them to feel the happiness and fulfilment I felt. I made sure it wasn’t with the intention that things would be easier for me, because what is life without tests?
Q: Two years later, Giselle, you received another shock – your son converted to Islam too. What was your reaction like?
Giselle: I had no clue Joel was studying Islam. Maybe he mentioned it and my brain chose to ignore it. I remember clearly the day he came home with Janis and he proudly told me he had made his shahada. He was positively glowing and I just pushed him away! I feel embarrassed and ashamed to have behaved this way, but as I look back I think it was more fear than anything. Fear that maybe I would lose him to a religion I knew nothing about. As the days went by, I didn’t see any outward change like I had seen with Janis (hijab, clothing, etc). Now I had two children, whom I loved dearly and had a very close relationship with, convert to Islam. As ignorant as I was I knew I could not continue my behavior because I knew I would truly lose them, so I slowly began accepting the fact they were now Muslim.
Full article

Friday 17 June 2016

Muhammad Ali’s Funeral Was His Last Act of Resistance

Muhammad Ali service

Five hundred thousand people were expected to line the streets for a 23-mile processional, followed by funeral services for Muhammad Ali in front of 22,000 people at the KFC Yum! Center. Former President Bill Clinton delivered the eulogy, which meant the Secret Service was in charge of heavy security. Metal detectors were everywhere.
It was difficult not to feel conflicted about all of this: security perimeters, the Secret Service, the KFC Yum! Center. It’s a painful way to say goodbye to a man who walked the streets in his prime without bodyguards and said, “I’m an easy target. I’m everywhere; everybody knows me. I walk the streets daily, and nobody’s guarding me. I have no guns, no police. So if someone’s gonna get me, tell them to come on and get it over with—if they can get past God, because God is controlling the bullet.”

Bill Clinton’s presence also stung. The signer of the crime bill, the author of the Iraqi sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern children, the father of welfare reform, the rebuker of Sister Souljah, said the last good-bye to Muhammad Ali, who for so many remains a towering symbol of resistance to empire, racism, and war.

It hurt, on one hand. But on the other, this entire tableau spoke to something greater. It spoke to the fact that Muhammad Ali was never defeated. They tried to jail him, blacklist him and silence him, and they embraced him only when he lost his ability to speak. But they never beat him. The city of Louisville, whose elected officials condemned Ali when he resisted the military draft, is now the home of Muhammad Ali Blvd and the Muhammad Ali Center, and has just seen a funeral fit for the man who called himself King of the World. Bill Clinton’s central role was really just an extension of every president since Gerald Ford who has tried to bask in Ali’s glow. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon tried to break him, and it didn’t work. So they embraced him.
It’s never pretty to see icons of resistance stripped of their radical content and transformed into something they weren’t. But in a perfectly poetical way, the need to appropriate Ali has given us his last great political statement. In a year when one presidential candidate is a raving bigot who wants Muslims banned from entering this country and the other is a war hawk who has supported every military intervention in the Middle East, one of the reddest states in the union paid homage to the most famous Muslim on earth.
Powerful world leaders tipped their hats and bowed their heads. Warmongers paid respect to the most famous draft resister in the history of war. Bigots were forced to acknowledge the greatness of someone who once said, “The real enemy of my people is here.” And somewhere, someone is going to watch this funeral and feel as proud in their own skin as the black and brown people 52 years ago who felt a new flush of pride the first time they heard the heavyweight champ tell the world that he was “the Greatest.”
It was said by W.E.B. Du Bois that boxing great Jack Johnson was hated for his “unforgivable blackness.” Muhammad Ali—as his funeral will attest—will forever be remembered for a blackness that wasn’t “unforgivable.” It was unbreakable.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Inside Story - Israel and Palestine: How do you stop the violence?

Israel is “maybe the only country in which another people is under occupation and in which these people have no rights,” Huldai told army radio.

“We can’t keep these people in a reality in which they are occupied and [expect] them to reach the conclusion that everything is alright and that they can continue living this way,” Huldai added, in reference to the Palestinians.

In an even more extraordinary statement, the father of Ido Ben Ari, one of the four victims of the shooting attack allegedly carried out by two Palestinian cousins at a Tel Aviv cafe, accused the Israeli government of making the situation worse.

“Last night, after the attack, the prime minister and two of his ministers arrived and yet another security cabinet issued decrees – not to return corpses, to put up barriers, to destroy houses, and to make lives harder,” the father said at his son’s funeral.

“These solutions create suffering, hatred, despair and [lead] to more people joining the circle of terror,” he added. “What’s needed is a solution rather than saying all the time that there’s nobody to make peace with.”

Full article

Monday 13 June 2016

Troll who said Muslims should be ‘nuked’ cries in court as he apologises

A man who said all Muslims should be ‘nuked’ on social media was reduced to tears in court.

Gary Farrimond, from Wigan, also said he wanted to ‘burn’ the Quran in a string of Islamophobic messages he posted on Facebook under the alias ‘Gary Gaz Farrimond’.

Tess Kenyon, prosecuting, told Wigan Magistrates’ court in Manchester that Farrimond had been posting vile comments on the Facebook group, ‘No more economic migrants in the Britannia hotel’.

In one post, the court heard he published an image of a Trojan horse with Isis on its forehead and Syrian refugees on its body, accompanied by the tag, ‘is the refugee crisis an Islamic invasion?’

Kenyon said another post read: ‘They will turn our churches into mosques. I’m after a copy of the Quran so I can burn it.’

And another read: ‘All foreigners teach their kids to hate the English, let’s do this with our own’.

In further racist messages, Farrimond said he’d offer bungee jumping to Pakistani people with ‘no strings attached’, and said the sooner Muslims ‘get nuked’ the better.

Melissa Fagan, mitigating, told the court Farrimond was ‘ashamed of his actions’.

She said: ‘He is a relatively simple man. He feels someone duped him. He was brought into all of this by another man who befriended him.

‘The defendant has had to live with what he has done.’

After the hearing, Farrimond said: ‘This is not what I’m about. I have been through a lot. This has really knocked me. I’m very sorry to anyone offended.’

The 49-year-old was handed a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2016/06/10/troll-who-said-muslims-should-be-nuked-cries-in-court-as-he-apologises-5936066/#ixzz4BMVfWt6u

Saturday 11 June 2016

Are we in the Matrix? Thoughts on God and Simulation Theory

When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.
G.K. Chesterton
Human beings constantly ponder on their existence, theories of creation/evolution, our potential, development and future. We have always been fascinated by the notion that the world as we experience it; is not an ultimate reality. For example many religions give us various metaphysical concepts/speculations for life and earth. Hinduism describes this world as 'maya' an illusion and along with Buddhism ascribes to reincarnation. Abrahamic traditions especially Islam point to a final abode in Heaven, or a reckoning in Hell, and this world as merely a test:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.
And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test)”
[al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3] 
More recently simulation theory: the idea that the universe is a simulation like something out of “The Matrix has become a provocative discussion topic especially since Elon Musk has said that the chances we are not uploads in a virtual world are billions to one against.
Our own video games/simulation capabilities have advanced at rapid speed, from Pong in the 1970s to immersive virtual reality today, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO noted in a Q&A session at Recode’s Code conference:
"So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions."*
Many might find his statement laughable but Musk’s theory has already been well articulated by respected philosopher Nick Bostrom. A professor at Oxford University, he published his computer simulation argument in 2003. He actually argues that one of the following three propositions is true:
  1. Virtually all civilizations at our pace of development will go extinct before they reach the technological capability of creating ultra-realistic video games.
  2. Civilizations with such technological capabilities are uninterested in running such computer simulations.
  3. We are almost certainly characters living in a computer simulation.*

Some like Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University have argued this premise; “It’s just not based on well-defined probabilities. The argument says you’d have lots of things that want to simulate us. I actually have a problem with that. We mostly are interested in ourselves. I don’t know why this higher species would want to simulate us.” Randall admitted she did not quite understand why other scientists were even entertaining the notion that the universe is a simulation. **

While for others especially those with religious beliefs like myself the simulation hypothesis could lead to significant spiritual questions about eternal/afterlife and resurrection. If this is a program it can always be re-run. Is rebirth a form of re-boot? Is God the ultimate designer/programmer? One of the names of Allah in Islamic tradition is Al-Musawwir 'the designer/fashioner'.
Are we continually evolving as more advanced subjects within this program? Why make a universe so flawed and with so much suffering? And what happens if a bug crashed the entre program? :)
Of course there is no way of proving that we are not simulated characters in an advanced civilization’s computer just as we cannot prove or disprove the existence of God.  Although the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku claims to have developed a theory that might point to the existence of God.  Another very interesting discussion.
I found this to be fascinating subject, what are your thoughts? :)

Tuesday 7 June 2016

"What you gonna do when u retire from Boxing ?" Muhammed Ali responds

So very inspiring ..good advice for us all alhamdulilah.

Why a Christian Can View Muhammad as a Prophet

This Christian brother is a great friend to Muslims and I find him very fascinating indeed.:)
Basically, me admiring Prophet Muhammad isn’t “enough” for Muslims; in their eyes, I must take a few concrete steps towards Islam to be fully recognized as a “true believer.” Otherwise, I’m just a weirdo Christian who respects Muhammad, but doesn’t recognize him as a “the man.” Christians, on the other hand, have called me “pseudo Catholic” and “infidel” for my positive writings about Muhammad. For these Islamophobes, I’m quite simply a heretic. There’s no way around it. Perhaps my work is irritating to Muslims and Christians because I’m pushing a few traditional boundaries and making people question the very heart of their religious traditions and identities.
Here’s the main issue according to popular narratives: Muslims must recognize Jesus as a prophet of God, as laid out explicitly in the Qur’an. Muslims aren’t at risk of anything when they say “I believe in Jesus.” However, if we switched the situation (“I’m a Christian. I believe in Muhammad as a prophet”), people might start to question my credibility as a self-professed Christian. People might say, “Jesus is the only way. You’ve turned your back on God. You’re no longer Christian.”
I’m writing this piece to explain why I disagree with the idea that Christians can’t recognize Muhammad as a prophet. Really, what is in question here is the definition of “prophet.” “Prophet” can be defined as “a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.” Outside of the dictionary, I’ve always understood “prophet” to mean a messenger of a Higher Power who works on earth to bring justice and peace to humanity.
Full article

Monday 6 June 2016

Rest in Power: Muhammad Ali (RahimulAllah)

The day I met Islam, I found a power within myself that no man could destroy or take away. When I first walked into the mosque, I didn’t find Islam; it found me. — Muhammad Ali, January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

Does Religious Freedom Still Exist for Muslims?

I was 12 years old when my parents and I befriended a kind French woman on an overnight train from Venice to Paris. She was funny and charismatic; I liked her, and I hoped that we would keep in touch. And then she - unaware of our religious background - blurted out bluntly, “I hate Muslims.” My dad, the blunt man that he is, immediately told her that we were Muslim, and asked her how she could say such a thing.

Flustered, she apologized and went to purchase her dinner in another cabin. We never saw her again.

I was 13 years old when a boy in my science class held a cross in my face in an attempt to exorcise my “Islamic demons.”

I was 14 years old when a friend jokingly called me and another Muslim girl her “favorite terrorists.”

I was 16 years old when I ran for student government in my high school. After a long and trying campaign, I won. Until a boy made a joke that I should be impeached and assassinated because I was a foreign-born Muslim.

I love America. I love our history, our constitution, our government. I love our authors, our newspapers, our movies. I love our helpful, friendly people, and the way that strangers smile at you at grocery stores. That doesn’t happen everywhere.

But this isn’t Religious Freedom.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Ramadan is on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday

Today is the 29th of Shaban in Saudi Arabia . As an Islamic month can have 29 or 30 days, Ramadan starts either tomorrow or on Tuesday. If you look at the next new moon map (via Crescent Moon Watch), you will notice that the moon will be visible in Americas and southern Africa.

Generally, Saudi Arabia considers this as a valid moon sighting and will announce the arrival of Ramadan tonight. There will be some other countries, especially in south Asia that have their calendars a couple of days behind Saudi and they will probably spot the moon tomorrow or if they dont spot it then Ramadan begins on Wednesday.

As always, we have a lot of resources on Ramadhan at the Islam Awareness page - http://islamawareness.net/Ramadhan/

We wish you all Ramadan Mubarak in advance.

Saturday 4 June 2016

“Holding On to Your Religion Will Be Holding On to Hot Coals”


There’s a hadith in which the Prophet (SAW) says, “There will come a day when holding on to your religion will be holding on to hot coals.”