Tuesday, July 31, 2007

They Spoke; We Listened and Learned


By Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham

Several months ago “On Faith “(jointly published by the Washington Post and Newsweek) held a symposium at Georgetown University on "What it Means to be Muslim in America." During the discussion, panelists were asked why Muslim religious leaders around the world didn’t speak out against violence.
The Imam on the panel replied that they did. The problem was that nobody listened to them, that the press didn’t report about it because it wasn’t sensational.
So we decided to devote a week on our site to give Muslim leaders a chance to speak out. We posed three questions -- on violence, religious freedom and women’s issues -- and invited more than 50 Muslim leaders throughout the world to respond. Twenty-two people from 13 countries chose to reply to the questions. Others such as the Aga Khan wrote essays on the subject. Other contributions came from Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan and Queen Rania of Jordan. We also featured essays from Muslim scholars and journalists from around the world who have studied, taught or covered Islam.
At the same time Newsweek did a cover story on Muslims in America, the Washington Post’s Outlook (opinion) Section devoted their Sunday edition to the subject, and Post-owned Slate Magazine and Post-Newsweek TV stations all participated that week in the coverage as well. Our partners in this endeavor included Georgetown University and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
It was an unprecedented and ambitious undertaking, and we learned a lot. Overall we have received thousands of comments, some positive, some negative. Many of the comments affirmed that different cultures have a long way to go before reaching common ground. But many others suggested that if you reach out, others will reach back. A couple of examples: Ali Gomaa of Egypt and Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, two controversial Muslim leaders often seen as radical, spoke out strongly against suicide bombings and killing women, children and non-combatants. Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and others rejected the idea that apostasy is a punishable offense. In some Muslim countries, it is punishable by death.
At first we were concerned that fewer than half of those invited had responded. But when we began to talk to some of our Muslim colleagues and contributors privately, it became more clear why that was so.
Some felt that the questions were too negative, that they had a “When did you stop beating your wife?” tone to them. Others who were invited, we were told, were suspicious of an American owned media company and didn’t know whether they could trust us to print what they said accurately without being edited, or they feared that their remarks would be misused, opening themselves up to hostile comments. As it turned out, they were right about that second concern. There were a number of unacceptable and abusive comments.
Others of more moderate beliefs were afraid to speak out, either for political reasons or safety reasons. And interestingly, some who were known as moderates did not want to go on the record with their more controversial points of view. One of them said he writes his defenses of Islam under a false name. Two women accepted being on the panel and then dropped out with no explanation.
Some who have spoken out often against the violence said they were tired of explaining themselves.
We were told by our Muslim colleagues that even though most of the respondents were names that the average American or European may not have heard of, many of these people are hugely important in their own countries. They are constantly in demand and called upon to participate in so many things that they simply were too busy.
Off the record, many, including very high ranking Muslim leaders, were defensive. They couldn’t understand the problem with Muslim women wearing the headscarf. As one of them put it, “Grace Kelly wore a headscarf and everyone thought she looked fabulous!”
Fadlallah addressed the subject of the veil with a bit of humor. "I would like to add, jokingly, that all men in the world, especially civil servants and high officials, are committed to the veil, since they cover all their bodies except their heads," he wrote, "where as the women also veil their breasts and their sexual organs, depending on the concept of sexual excitation that is broader in the Islamic view than the western one."
These are just some of the issues that arose during the dialogue we have conducted in the past ten days. We have also invited our regular panelists to weigh in on what they have learned and what they thought about the responses to the Muslim leaders.
The most surprising thing we learned is how many Muslim organizations already are trying to combat violence and views that Islam is a violent religion. King Abdullah and Prince Ghazi of Jordan conducted a panel on “True Islam” in 2005 on this very subject and issued a report now referred to as the “Amman Message.” It became very clear that there is power in numbers. The more who speak out, the more others will do so, too.
We are pleased with the results of our “Muslims Speak Out” venture, but we realize that it is just one small step. There is so much to be done in interfaith dialogue, not just on Islam but among all faiths and nonbelievers as well. This is just a beginning for “On Faith.” We want our audience and our contributors to know that their thoughts and their comments will always be welcome.
As it says in the Qu’ran, “God made us different nations and tribes so that we may know one another."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Spirit of Understanding

By: Maged Taman

The Jews came to the promised land for a noble cause, for God to redeem the world. I was astonished despite my good understanding of the politics of the area to only know this information that late in my life. This also made me understand for the first time the good deeds and the humanistic attitude of the Jews and their lead in most organizations that promote justice, human rights and human progress.

I was talking to myself at one point that the world needs a moral revolution and I thought the Jews ought to lead it. Then few months later after I learnt about the Messiah and I realized that it is an important part of their faith. Which for God wisdom made them over the centuries to wait and do the good in the world like the Messiah would come at any second. No doubt a lot of them are God chosen people. I have no doubt that God will redeem the world for them.

Like every race and religion there are good and bad people but if there is a morality per capita equation they no doubt will have the highest score. Morality of Muslims and Arab is down because of the severe repression and poverty. There is no raw models and in most places you find a little tyrant that control the work place. Same political system runs even in work places the weak is oppressed by the strong and the well connected.

In Quran God had promised the Jews: "And if the promise of the end of time comes we will gather you from all around". It is the end of times and both Muslims and Jews have to come together and forget about the past. Both have the right of the land and Both are God's servants. Both fought for the land. Let us start the era of peace that the prophets had promised us.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Muslims Speak Out: Abdal Hakim Murad

From: www.newsweek.com ON FAITH

B: Abdal Hakim Murad
Imam of the Cambridge Mosque and Director of the Muslim Academic TrustA British native and convert to Islam, Sheikh Murad is Imam of the Cambridge Mosque and Director of the Muslim Academic Trust. Besides being a prolific translator of Islamic works, he has written extensively on Islamic extremism and Islamic Ethics.

In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful
Jihad is an Arabic word meaning ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’. In religious teaching, it denotes any struggle against the lower, selfish tendencies of the ego. One dimension of this may be to struggle against one’s own selfishness and cowardice in order to defend one’s people. One form of this was indicated by the Blessed Prophet when he said: ‘the best form of jihad is to speak a true word to a tyrannical ruler’. In doing so one risks one’s life, but is serving the weak and the oppressed; the Prophet therefore describes it as a form of jihad.
While non-retaliation against a personal injury is frequently a virtue (see the Holy Qur'an, chapter 41 verse 34), Islam believes that human communities have the right to collective self-defense, since non-resistance to aggression would result in a world dominated by tyrants (see Holy Qur’an, 22:40). Under some circumstances, Muslim scholars will allow oppressed peoples to rebel against their oppressors. They might, therefore, classify the American War of Independence as a form of jihad, broadly understood. When Bosnia was faced with ethnic cleansing in 1992, the Muslim authorities there authorized the use of force to defend the country’s Muslim minority. The alternative would have been mass murder and mass rape, and therefore jihad was lawful. Furthermore, some Muslim scholars will permit a non-defensive ‘idealist’ war to establish justice and freedom in a neighboring country. This is analogous, perhaps, to the decision of the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on September 3, 1939, in response to the German invasion of Poland. There are more recent analogies as well, including very recent instances in which Western powers have used force to overthrow tyrants such as Saddam Hussein.
The poet Rumi explains the ethical principle of jihad as follows:
"Knowledge and wealth and office and rank and fortune are a mischief in the hands of the evil-natured. Therefore the Jihad was made obligatory on true believers for this purpose, namely, that they might take the spear-point from the hand of the madman."
Fundamentally, as understood by orthodox Islamic jurists (as opposed to radical Islamists, who reject the classical position), jihad theory closely resembles some versions of Just War theory as this has been developed in several Christian churches since the time of St. Augustine. For some good debates about the resemblance see John Kelsay and James Turner Johnson (eds.), "Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions" (New York, Westport and London, 1991).
Suicide bombing is an innovated practice that has no basis in Islamic law. Particularly when targeted against innocent non-combatants it is a fundamental violation of Islam’s understanding of justice. ‘No soul is guilty of the sins of another’ (Holy Qur’an, chapter 6 verse 163). ‘Do not kill yourselves’ (Holy Qur’an, chapter 4 verse 29). For more, see my essay ‘Bombing without Moonlight’ and the more technical Sharia discussion by Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti).

Traditional human communities believe that truth leads to salvation, and error to damnation. It is probable that very many religious people in a variety of denominations still believe this. Historically, religiously-faithful princes have therefore seen it as necessary to use the coercive power of the state to forbid apostasy. One of the most powerful and persistent manifestations of this understanding in history was the Inquisition, which was definitively abolished in 1834. Protestant countries also respected this drastic principle; in fact, the first converts to Islam in Britain were impaled on stakes. In a Hindu context, ‘apostasy’ was often classified as violation of caste rules and boundaries, and similarly drastic consequences could follow. After the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1253, Buddhists who converted to Islam were routinely put to death.
The four canonical schools of Sunni Islamic law, and also most pre-modern Shi’a jurists, recommend similarly drastic penalties, although the judge is enjoined to ‘look for ambiguities’ in order to avert the death penalty wherever possible.
The Ottoman Caliphate, the supreme representative of Sunni Islam, formally abolished this penalty in the aftermath of the so-called Tanzimat reforms launched in 1839. The Shaykh al-Islam, the supreme head of the religious courts and colleges, ratified this major shift in traditional legal doctrine. It was pointed out that there is no verse in the Qur’an that lays down a punishment for apostasy (although chapter 5 verse 54 and chapter 2 verse 217 predict a punishment in the next world). It was also pointed out that the ambiguities in the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) suggest that apostasy is only an offense when combined with the crime of treason. These ambiguities led some medieval Muslims, long before the advent of modernisation, to reject the majority view. Prominent among them one may name al-Nakha’i (d.713), al-Thawri (d.772), al-Sarakhsi (d. 1090), al-Baji (d. 1081), and al-Sha’rani (d.1565). The debate triggered by the Ottoman reform was continued when al-Azhar University in Cairo, the supreme religious authority in the Arab world, delivered a formal fatwa (religious edict) in 1958, which confirmed the abolition of the classical law in this area.
Among radical Salafis and Wahhabis who do not accept the verdicts of the Ottoman or the Azhar scholars, it is generally believed that the majority medieval view should still be enforced.
The best discussion of the controversy is the book by Mohammed Hashim Kamali, "Freedom of Expression in Islam" (Cambridge, 1997).

This question somewhat essentializes Islam and ‘the West’. There is a huge diversity of Muslim opinion here, both ancient and modern; and ‘the Western view’ really does not exist, since villagers in Venezuela, for instance are Westerners, and so are many ultra-orthodox Jews, and conservative Catholics, and radical Californian feminists; and while the views of all these groups are morally coherent, they are not part of a single ‘Western view’. Thankfully, Islam and the West are both diverse. And of course they overlap: many people, including myself, consider themselves to be both Western and Muslim.
Virtually all pre-modern ethical, legal and social systems accepted firm assurances about the respective nature of the two sexes. Women were taken to be nurturers and homemakers, while men were to be earners and warriors. There are clear biological reasons why ancient societies should have favored such a division of labor, and the current sharp debate over the ‘different wiring’ of the male and female brain may clarify this, although it is unlikely to be resolved soon (see, for instance, Ann and Bill Moir, "Why Men Don’t Iron: The Fascinating and Unalterable Differences between Men and Women" [London, 2003]). Whichever way the scientific debate goes, it is evident that our bodies influence our minds, and even our souls, and we can accept this without assuming that one gender is therefore superior to the other.
Islam is a religion that takes our rootedness in our bodies seriously. We pray with their bodies as well as with our hearts. Turning the body to face Mecca encourages the soul to do the same. Childbearing must have a deep spiritual impact. So Muslims believe that men and women are spiritually different. However the indispensable practices of the religion, including the daily prayers, the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and the fasting month of Ramadan, are incumbent on both sexes. For the ancient world, this was a remarkable circumstance, and Muslims are obliged to see it as a sign that women and men are both spiritual beings, with similar spiritual duties (see the Holy Qur’an, chapter 33 verse 35).
Some Christian denominations do not accept the validity of women priests. Islam, too, does not recognize the validity of services conducted by women (unless there are no men in the congregation). However this does not exclude women from positions of religious leadership. Thousands of medieval Muslim scholars were women (see Ruth Roded, "Women in Islamic Biographical Collections" [Boulder and London, 1994]). They would teach, preach, and give religious verdicts in the mosque. Many others became saints (Camille Helminski, "Women of Sufism" [New York, 2003]).
The lively Muslim feminist movement today likes to point out that since Islam does not call God ‘Father’, and does not believe that God was incarnated in a male body, that Muslims can consider that they are worshipping a gender-neutral deity. This, together with many other factors, ensures the continuing popularity of Islam amongst women. In my own community in the UK, around eighty percent of recent converts have been women. For the U.S. see the remarkable and often moving book by Carol Anway, "Daughters of Another Path: Experiences of American Women Choosing Islam" [Lee’s Summit, MO: sixth edition 2002]).
Go here for more thoughts.
Peace be with you, and the mercy of God.

Abdal Hakim Murad

Muslims and Anti-Semitsm

From: www.islamicity.com

By: Tariq Ramadan

The responsibility of the Muslims and the Jews in the West is tremendous: living together, both citizens of the same countries, they should raise their voices in the name of justice and mutual respect. In France, for example, one finds a unique situation; namely, the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe living together. In America, we find the same situation with two important religious communities sharing the same citizenship. That itself should be an ideal opportunity for people to learn to live in harmony. However, the reality is that problems are on the rise. While tensions have been incidental in the past, the situation has been exacerbated during the second intifada, and more recently, during the upsurge of violence in the Middle East. The trend appears to be that the Muslim immigrants as well as native European and American Muslims are becoming extremely sensitive to the events occurring in Palestine and are demonstrating their frustration quite overtly. Malicious words, cries of "down with the Jews" shouted during protest demonstrations, and in a few cities in France, reports of synagogues being vandalized. One also hears ambiguous statements about Jews, their "occult-like" power, their insidious role within the media and their nefarious plans. After September 11th, the false rumor that 4,000 Jews did not show up for work the morning of the terrorist attacks against the World Trade center, was relayed throughout predominantly Muslim areas. It is very rare to hear Muslim voices that set themselves apart from this kind of discourse and attitude. Often, one will try to explain away this phenomena being a result of extreme frustration and humiliation. That may be true, but one must be honest and analyze the situation deeply. Much like the situation across the Muslim world, there exists in the West today a discourse which is anti-Semitic, seeking legitimacy in certain Islamic texts and support in the present situation in Palestine. This is the attitude of not only marginalized youth, but also of intellectuals and Imams, who see the manipulative hand of the "Jewish lobby" at each turn or every political setback, The situation is far too serious for one to be satisfied by simple explanations based on current frustrations. In the name of their faith and their conscience, Muslims must take a clear position so that a pernicious atmosphere does not take hold in the Western countries. Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and indefensible. The message of Islam requires respect of Jewish faith and spirituality as noble expressions of "The People of the Book".During the initial phase of the Prophet's settlement in Medina, prior to the conflicts of Alliances, the Prophet Muhammad sternly admonished: "He who is unjust with a contractor (Christians and Jews of Medina), I shall bear witness against him on the Day of Judgment". Later, during a period of extreme conflict [between Jews and Muslims], eight Qur'anic verses were revealed to absolve a Jew who had falsely been accused of a crime by a Muslim. Muhammad constantly taught respect for all human beings, with all their differences. One day, he stood up out of respect when he saw a funeral procession nearby. When told it was that of a Jew, he replied "Is it not human soul?" One cannot simultaneously neglect these teachings and continue to feed a tainted portrayal concerning Jews. It is the responsibility of Islamic organizations and Imams to send an unambiguous message about the profound link between Islam and Judaism; the recognition of Moses and the Torah as part of Islamic teachings; on the necessary contextualisation of certain equivocal texts within the Qu'ran; on mutual respect and the rejection of all forms of explicit or implicit anti-Semitism. This also means to acknowledge the horrors of the holocaust, by studying its ramifications, and respecting the pain and suffering which have shaped the Jewish conscience in the 20th century. In order for all Muslim citizens to understand this teaching, there must be a corresponding set of actions. One has to fight feelings of victimization which colonize the spirit of many Muslim citizens in the West, especially those who are the most marginalized. The frustration within these communities leads to blaming of the other, the state, the police, and, "the Jew who does not like us and who manipulates us..." It is here that Muslim intellectuals and the public authority should share the responsibility. The first step is to disseminate an Islamic awareness that is coherent and non-literal. It should emphasize personal responsibility and respect of others. As for public authorities, it is important that they encourage concrete actions which break the cycle of economic ghettos and encourage reform of social and urban politics at a local level. Whether we like it or not, unemployment and discrimination are one of the major roots of racism. At another level, there is urgency for Jewish and Muslim representatives to start communicating and establish an honest dialogue in order to avoid knee-jerk, reflexive community responses that may undermine the principle of living together in harmony. Self-criticism must become a mutual exercise. If it is necessary to condemn anti-Semitic language of some Muslims, it is also the responsibility of Jewish intellectuals, religious or secular, not to confuse the different spheres. An extreme right-wing Prime Minister, Jewish or otherwise, supports an ideology that must be denounced precisely for what it is. Criticism of Sharon for his atrocious past crimes and his policies while prime minister of Israel is not a sign of disrespect for Judaism, in the same way that criticism of dictators of some Muslim countries, one by one, is not an attack on Islam. The respect that we have towards Judaism should not be subject to suspicion once we denounce the unjust policies of the state of Israel. To foster this type of amalgams, we will end up creating chasms between communities and that is certainly to empty the ethical content of our common Western citizenship based on the values of justice and equality. Muslims and Jews alike should stop feeding sentiments of victimization, and reconsider the discourse that one is creating towards the other. In the name of a common ethics of citizenship, our dignity will be based upon our ability to know how to be critical, transcending one's creed, a state, or an organization without considering that it "clearly" a manifestation of anti Semitism or Islamophobia. It is exactly this type of intellectual requirement which one must teach and which will help all Jews and Muslims to offer to their faith, and to their respective belonging, the magnitude of a self-conscience based on universal principals, and not a closed-minded ghetto identity. In Europe and in America, the conditions are right to bring these challenges to light. What remains is the mutual commitment to a constructive self-analysis and to refuse the destructive temptation of selective condemnations.

This text is translation of an Op-Ed published in Le Monde. http://www.tariqramadan.com/article.php3?id_article=347&lang=en

Thursday, July 26, 2007

People of Faith Share Much Common Ground


By: Jimmy Carter.

One of the most important things for all people to remember in these difficult times is that there are more compatibilities than differences among the major religions – at least concerning treatment of one another as individuals. The commonly professed commandments and commitments are to peace, humility, service, forgiveness, compassion, and generosity toward poor and suffering neighbors.

Also, according to the Islamic, Hebrew, and Christian scriptures, we are all spiritual descendants of Abraham, mutually blessed by his covenant with God. To questioning gentiles among early Christians, Saint Paul emphasized that, without any rejection of the Hebrews, this blessing flows from Abraham’s faith, and not the ties of race or blood.

One possible difference between religions is the apparent militancy of Islam compared to the Christian worship of the Prince of Peace. This might be seen as an inherent advantage if the principle were not so often abandoned or rejected by Christian believers.

There are some widely varying emphases within certain groups of Christians and Muslims in their definition of human rights, but neither faith is free from the oppression or derogation of others in the name of God. A notable example is the treatment of women.

In some Islamic societies, women are relegated by official religious laws to subservient positions in society where they must remain veiled, cannot operate an automobile or compete with men for a job, and often receive inferior if any education. In other more secular nations of the same faith, all of these restrictions are absent.

Within predominantly Christian societies, civil laws usually provide for equal treatment of women, while religious organizations are often the primary source of discrimination, which provides a justification for similar inequities within the secular world. Women are prohibited from serving as priests in Catholic and most Orthodox churches, and some Protestant denominations are even more discriminatory. Quoting selective Bible verses, for instance, the Southern Baptist Convention mandates that wives must be submissive to their husbands, that women cannot serve as military chaplains, pastors, or even deacons in a local congregation, and that it is improper for women to instruct men.

There is no clear or uniform distinction regarding human rights between Christian and Islamic societies. Adherents of both would be wise to heed the commandment to look first to our own shortcomings before harshly judging our neighbors. We must not demonize each other.Concerning democracy, there is a strong inclination in some Arab countries to avoid free and honest elections. Once again, however, there are notable exceptions. The world’s three largest democracies are India, the United States, and Indonesia – with populations that are predominately Hindu, Christian and Muslim. Also, the three democratic elections held among the Palestinian people have been completely open and fair.

Despite these basic compatibilities in moral values, human rights, and commitment to political freedom, increased feelings of distrust, fear, and animosity have arisen between Christians and Muslims during recent years. Stimulated by radical religious elements and exacerbated by demagogic political leaders, the result has been horrific acts of violence against civilians in the United States, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East. There have been many causes of this violence, including efforts to impose fundamentalist Islamic law, the lack of tangible moves to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and sectarian strife. Assuaging these kinds of violent motivations is within our human capabilities.

Unfortunately, few substantive efforts are now being made, even among religious leaders, to narrow the Islamic-Christian divide now that Pope John Paul II’s commitment to theological dialogue has apparently been abandoned.

The assessments of Muslim leaders in these ON FAITH essays can be a valuable contribution to better understanding of their religious beliefs among Christians, and perhaps even to some easing of tensions within the Islamic world. The other facets of reconciliation are obvious: an early end of the American occupation of Iraq and a strong and persistent effort by the international community to bring peace to the Holy Land.

A lack of mutual understanding of our religious faiths and an absence of common commitments to ease political tensions create a direct and increasing threat to world peace. Progress on these issues should be recognized as one of the major responsibilities of the international community.

Posted by Jimmy Carter on July 26, 2007 on NEWSWEEK ON FAITH.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Christian Scholar's View: Jihad, Crusades and Muslim Moderates.


By: Marin E. Marty.

Over the past five years, as part of a project on religious fundamentalism, I’ve studied and talked with Muslims from Houston to Auschwitz. And as I’ve gained a better understanding of how Christians and Muslims see each other, I’ve learned that how we communicate is as important as what we communicate.
Take the term jihad, for starters. It’s often used by those who want to raise temperatures and inspire hatred of Muslims They tend to define it as a murderous campaign against non-Muslims. But scholars and moderate Muslims will tell you that the word’s root concept is “struggle” – and that the struggle often refers to the one within ourselves over our own failures.
The word crusade inspires a similar misunderstanding. For many Christians, it is an honorable endeavor. Billy Graham innocently defined his gatherings as Crusades, benefiting from the positive connotations that went with promoting the cause of Christ. Among Muslims, however (and many Eastern Orthodox Christians, for that matter), “crusade” evokes images of bloodthirsty warriors exploiting the land and people as they traveled to the Holy Land – a land that was holy not just to them but to their enemies as well.
There are some less obvious examples of words that don’t translate well. Tolerance is a well-intended but not always helpful and sometimes offensive concept, for example. Before Christians call for “tolerance” of Muslims, they should ask themselves: Do they want merely to be “tolerated”? If not, why would a Muslim? Asking for “tolerance” can come across as condescending, as if the speaker were saying, “I have things figured out, and I’ll tolerate you with most of your flaws.” In many encounters, a call for tolerance may simply be an attempt to get others to take their beliefs lightly.
My dialogues with Muslims over the last several years have not been all misunderstandings and explanations. We have made real progress. Sometimes it’s small and specific – such as using hospitality instead of tolerance, to convey the opening of one’s spiritual home and soul to the other, especially to those who profess strong and clear faiths. In general, though progress comes from a set of general approaches.
The first step is to hold up a mirror to yourself. Examine what beliefs your community (in my case, Christians) holds and how they hold them. On the positive side, you are likely to find there some features which can improve relations. Informed and empathic Muslims also speak well of many elements of Christianity. On the negative side, the mirror will reveal flaws, and to acknowledge them —without groveling or in a spirit of self-hate which can come naturally to Christians who are fighting their own heritage — will enrich the conversation. It is disarming when neither party in a dialogue has to keep up appearances and both can meet each other honestly.
Another crucial step is to educate yourself about the other’s religion, especially by reading their scriptures. In times of tension and terrorism, agitators tend to highlight the tense and terrifying texts in the others’ books — the Qur’an or the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament. To suggest that violence is what the other faith is all about is dishonest and always alienating. I have never met a Jew or Christian who thinks that the texts in the “Holy War” books of Joshua and Judges (or try I Samuel 15) -- which license and even command genocide — are what Judaism or Christianity is about. Those scriptures instead climax in messages of peace and healing. So does the Qur’an.
Finally, it’s important not to expect too much. If interfaith dialogues are advertised as steps toward Utopia, they will lead only to disappointment. Creative conversation and common action will not mean that terrorism in the name of Allah or counterterrorism in the name of God will disappear. (See, for example, Nigeria.) Yet, wherever there are genuine efforts to build upon the better moments of the Islamic and Christian pasts, and upon empathic efforts of present-day leaders, we can profit from contributions to a climate that will slow the advance of extremism. Such efforts offer the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims and Christians some measure of hope, as well as the chance for better approaches to issues that separate their communities.

Martin E. Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The University of Chicago, co-director of the “Fundamentalism Project” and an "On Faith" panelist.

Sam Waterston: Why I Believe

From: Newsweek On Faith.

My faith urges me to spread the good news, by example (“You shall know them by their fruits”) and also by word.
My nature readily gets the example part, but the word part demands I not ‘brag on’ belief, and shrinks from seeming to tell others what they ought to think about faith (I’m not defending this, just reporting). My upbringing says, “Don’t talk politics or religion at dinner parties, or anywhere else, if you can avoid it.” Faith mixes awkwardly with the news/entertainment media.
So, as I work on this, I hear in my head the wonderful Louisianan and novelist, Walker Percy, and the wonderful novelist, Frederick Buechner, in Vermont, chuckling away at me, out of their long experience wrestling with writing about faith for general consumption. This is not easy.
At the center of faith is a mystery beyond understanding, which is to say, beyond expression. Mystics worldwide and all across time recommend silence as the best route to that mystery. “Be still and know that I am God.” I believe that: meditation, even by an amateur like me, is immeasurably helpful there, as well as yielding all kinds of side-benefits, like better blood pressure and clearer thinking. However, communicating in words about what is revealed in silence is the province of poets and prophets.
But I can point. So, with apologies for their lack of grand sweep:

1. Faith is in our nature, like an appetite, or an instinct. You may be able to live without religion, but faith, you can’t choose to do without. Faith in the day gets us up in the morning. It's that basic.

2. Religious faith helps me, and I especially recommend meditation and prayer, which sometimes seem, at least in the West, to be poor cousins to preaching and ritual... or maybe it’s just that they make less noise.

3. Practice and community help faith, make it stronger, and channel it to good uses. At the same time, as everyone knows, faith is regularly used to mobilize people for mischief (Anyone thinking this is reason enough to do without faith altogether, should reread No. 1.). I expect we’re all in for big surprises, whatever we think and believe about the ultimate things, so, intolerance is dishonesty. But faith on the loose is dangerous, too. My suggestion: Have a practice. Watch it like a hawk.

4. Faith makes Truth available, especially about Love, that can’t be reached by another path.
I can’t think what else to add. It may be as Shakespeare said, “The rest is silence.”

Sam Waterston is an award-winning stage, screen and television actor who has been nominated for an Emmy Award several times for his role as Jack McCoy on "Law & Order.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ink of a Scholar is More Holier Than The Blood of a Martyr

From: http://www.islamicity.com/

By: Mohamed Elmasry

Role of Knowledge and Science in Islamic Civilization

It is becoming more widely known that the first university of Europe was established in Spain by Muslims. But how many of us - whether academically inclined or not - know that university professors' formal black gowns originated with the kaftan, the traditional outer robe worn by Arabic men since ancient times?Six centuries before Christopher Columbus sailed westward to prove the earth was round (only to be "interrupted" by the New World!), Muslim mathematicians of Kufa in Iraq not only knew that our planet is a globe, but had also calculated its circumference with remarkable accuracy. It's no wonder that Crusaders who trekked from Europe to the Holy Land to liberate it from "heathen" Muslims, returned home with many new lessons in civilization, as well as practical inventions and scientific insight.From the eighth to the tenth centuries, Baghdad flourished as the world's most civilized city. Its university was attended by 6,000 students from all over the world and it boasted an endowment equivalent to millions of dollars. Baghdad streets were also paved, drained by covered sewers, and illuminated - while pigs still roamed the dark and muddy streets of Medieval Paris.For some four centuries (roughly 700 through 1100 AD) Arabic -- not Latin -- was the international language of knowledge. During this Islamic "golden age," many Christians studied this language and attended Muslim universities.Aristotle and Plato were rediscovered by Muslim scholars who translated many Greek manuscripts into Arabic. They are the originators of modern chemistry, meteorology, mathematics, sociology, and geography. Muslim surgeons were also the first to dissect the human body, which was forbidden to Christians by the Church.Muslims during this period had a renowned passion for intellectual and scientific pursuits; the first known telescope was built for a Muslim caliph.Without the Arabic numbering system, which included decimals and the cipher (zero), modern science and business would be impossible.Many of today's finest cotton fabrics -- including muslin, damask and cambric -- originated with Muslim agriculturalists and artisans. And in tribute to Muslim metallurgy, Damascus swords and Toledo blades are still highly prized. Sugar, coffee, rice, cherries, citrus fruits and numerous other culinary delicacies and seasonings reached European (and ultimately, Western) tables because of Muslims.One of the greatest contributions of Islam to the Western world was the art of papermaking, adapted and developed from techniques pioneered by the Chinese. Without good quality affordable paper, the spread of printing and the availability of books for universal education would have been impossible.The duty of every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime brought together scholars from the most distant countries; thus, scientific knowledge spread rapidly and new discoveries were easily shared and exchanged throughout the Muslim world and beyond.While Christian Europe was still enveloped in darkness, poverty and gloom, overshadowed by ecclesiastical intolerance, Muslims had established a highly advanced and sophisticated civilization that historians to this day have not satisfactorily explained. The Belgian-born American writer May Sarton, referring to Islam, said; "The creation of a new civilization of international and encyclopedic magnitude within less than two centuries is something that we can describe, but not completely explain ... It was the most creative movement of the Middle Ages down to the thirteenth century."And while the Christian world dealt with those who dared to question established dogmas by burning them alive at the stake, Islam encouraged free thought and developed the rational experimental method, which is the foundation of modern science and philosophy. Before the Prophet Muhammad, people did not dare to conduct experiments, for fear of reprisal by evil spirits. Muhammad dealt a mortal blow to many false superstitions and elemental fears and helped to prepare human society for the great potential of scientific inquiry.In one of his most memorable sayings on the subject, Prophet Muhammad affirmed that "the ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr." He taught Muslims that ignorance was humanity's greatest poverty, that a mind without education is like a brave man without arms, and that knowledge brings people -- irrespective of gender, age, race or religion -- into the highest rank of human accomplishment.The greatest Jewish treatise of the Middle Ages was written by Maimonides, not in Hebrew, but in Arabic. And in another example of interfaith engagement at that time, a Christian served as head of a college in Damascus.Islam also developed its own distinct architecture, whose influence can be traced through India, to China, Africa, and Russia. While the Tartars transmitted Islamic culture and art to Russia, the Turks brought it to the Balkans, Austria, Poland, and Southern Germany. Bavarian native costumes, Hungarian rugs, and Prussian helmets still reveal their Islamic origins in design.Christian Europe was admittedly slow in recognizing Islamic culture as the originating source of the Renaissance. But through the influence of Islamic scholarship, especially in Sicily and Spain, European civilization was transformed."Let us compare the two civilizations," said Seignobos in his Histoire de la Civilization au Moyen Age (History of Medieval Civilization) "which in the eleventh century divided the Ancient World. In the West Ð miserable little cities, peasant's huts and great fortresses - a country always troubled by war, where one could not travel ten leagues without running the risk of being robbed; and in the Orient - Constantinople, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad - all cities of the ÔArabian Nights,' with their marble palaces, their workshops, their schools, their bazaars, their villages and with the incessant movement of merchants who traveled in peace from Spain to Persia.There is no doubt that the [Muslim] and Byzantine worlds were richer, better policed, better lighted than the Western world. In the eleventh century, these two worlds began to become acquainted; the barbarous Christians came into contact with the civilized [Muslims] in two ways Ð by war and by commerce. And by contact with the Orientals the Occidentals became civilized."Today, it would seem that the civilizations of East and West, or the Muslim and non-Muslim world, have become reversed. But perhaps it is more a case of having forgotten those former glories in the pursuit of present-day material and political agendas. A re-discovery and renewed appreciation of Muslim accomplishments would benefit all of humanity, allowing us to see - and hopefully resolve -- present conflicts within the wider spectrum of human history.

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Aspects of Islamic Etiquette

From: www.muslimconverts.com

Aspects of Islamic Etiquette
The Islamic Law has introduced and propagated a cluster of public ethics. At the same time, it warned of failure to strictly abide by it, as this will entail punishment in the Hereafter. Imam Muslim narrated that the Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Do you know who is the bankrupt?” They answered: A bankrupt among us is the person who has neither money nor property. The Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him,said which meaning of is translated as: “The bankrupt in my nation is the one who comes on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, zakat and fasting, yet he used to insult, slander, slay and beat others. Thus claimants are rewarded according to their good deeds. If one's good deeds are gone, he is punished for his ill-doings until he is thrown into Hell.”

Dining Ethics
1. Start eating with the name of Allah (Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem) and conclude with praising and thanking Allah (Al-Hamdu Lillahi Rabbil-Aalameen). Eat from the nearest side of the dish to you and use your right hand, because the left hand is generally used for cleaning dirt. Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of 'Umar Ibn Abi Salamah, may Allah be pleased with them, that the Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him said which meaning of is translated as: “Mention the name of Allah, eat with your right hand and eat from the nearest side of the dish.”
2. Never complain or disapprove of food whatsoever. Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, that: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and pleassings of allah be upon him has never found fault with any food. If he likes it, he would eat it, if not he would just leave it.”
3. Avoid eating or drinking in excess quantity in the light of the Qur'anic words which meaning of is translated as: “And eat and drink but do not spendthrift.” And the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, words which meaning of is translated as: “The son of Adam (man) has never filled a vessel worse than his stomach. If there is no way out, let there be a third for his meal, another for his drink and another for his breath.” (Narrated by Ahmad).
4. Never breath or blow into vessels. According to Ibn Abbas the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Forbade breathing or blowing into the dish.” (Al Tirmidhi).
5. Eat with others, not alone, since Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Gather around your food so that it may be blessed.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
6. If you are invited to a meal and you take somebody with you, you should seek permission for him. According to Abu Mas'ud Al-Badri, may Allah be pleased with him, a man invited Allah's Prophet peace be upon him, to a meal along with four other people. A man followed the Prophet. At the door, the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said to the host which meaning of is translated as: “This man has come with us: If you'd permit, he will come in; if not he will go back." The host said: I give him my permission, O Allah's Messenger.” (Bukhari & Muslim).

Ethics of Seeking Permission
There are two kinds of ethics:
1. Those relating to out-of-door formalities Allah said which meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof...” (The Qur'aan, Chapter An-Nur, 24:27).
2. Those relating to indoor formalities, Allah said which meaning of is translated as: “And when the children among you come to puberty then let them ask permission even as those before them used to ask it...” (The Qur'aan, Chapter An-Nur, 24:59). This is all intended to keep household secrets and protect the privacy of homes, as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Asking permission is intended for sight protection.” (Bukhari and Muslim). It is advisable not to persist in asking permission as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “You have to ask permission three times. If you are not allowed in, go back.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim).

Ethics of Greeting (Salam)
Islam has encouraged the custom of greetings among the members of Society because it leads to love and friendship. This is supported by the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “You will never enter Paradise until you become believers, and you will not become believers until you love each other. Shall I guide you to something that makes you love each other? Spread greetings with peace among you.” (Muslim).
Answering a greeting is obligatory, Allah said which meaning of is translated as: “When you are greeted with greetings, reply with a better than it or return it...” (The Qur'aan, Chapter An-Nisa'a, 4:86).
Islam has also explained obligations in matters of greeting priorities. According to the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “A rider should greet a pedestrian, a pedestrian should greet him who is seated, and a small number of people should greet a bigger number.” (Narrated by both Bukhari and Muslim) In one narration by Bukhari, it is added: A little or young person should greet an older one.

Ethics of Sitting
Greet attendants of the meeting or gathering, as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “If one comes to a meeting he should say: Assalamu Alaykum! (i.e. Peace be upon you!) and on leaving he should do the same, for the first greeting is not more important than the latter.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
It is not appropriate to ask someone to leave his sitting place for someone else as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Never should anyone of you make someone rise from his place and sit in his place rather, make more room for others to sit.” (Bukhari and Muslim). “If someone leave his sitting place then returns to it, he will have more right to it” as stated by the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, (Muslim).
Never separate two persons sitting as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “It is not permissible for a man to separate two men (by inserting himself sitting between them) unless they give permission.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
Never talk to a friend privately in the presence of a third person as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “If there are three of you, never should two of them talk without the third until you mix with other people, for this would grieve the third.” (Bukhari).
Never sit in the middle of a circle or group of people, as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Damned is he who sits in the middle of a sitting group.” (Abu Dawood).
Leave space for others to sit, Allah said which meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! When it is said, Make room! In assemblies, then make room; Allah will make way for you (hereafter). And when it is said, Come up higher! Go up higher; Allah will exalt those who have knowledge, to high ranks. Allah is Well-Aware of what you do.” (The Qur'aan, Chapter Az-Zukhruf, 43:11).
It is desirable to suppress yawning as far as possible as it is a sign of laziness, as pointed out in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Yawning is from Satan, so when one of you yawns let him try to repel it as far as possible, for if one utters 'Ha!' (when yawning) the devil will laugh at him.” (Bukhari and Muslim). About sneezing, the Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “If one of you sneezes, let him say: Praise be to Allah! And his Muslim brother should say to him: May Allah have mercy on you! Upon which he answers: May Allah guide you and make you well.” (Bukhari). It is also advisable for a person, as stated by Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “on sneezing; to cover his mouth with his hand or garment and suppress his voice.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
Avoid belching while sitting in the presence of others. According to Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, one man belched in the presence of Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said to him which meaning of is translated as: “stop belching, The biggest eaters in this worldly life will be the hungriest in the Hereafter.” (Tirmidhi and Ibin Majah).
The assembly should not be busy with nonsense or void of the remembrance of Allah and useful discussions of worldly and religious affairs. Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Any people who rise from an assembly in which the name of Allah is not mentioned are like those who rise from around a donkey's carcass, and the assembly will be a source of sorrow for them.” (Abu Dawood).
A person should not face those sitting with him with what they dislike.

Ethics of Gathering
Islam respects the feeling of people who gather at a place to make gathering desirable and repel all that cause people to hate gathering. Therefore, Islam instructs its followers to be clean-bodied, with no bad smell, and clean-dressed, with no disgusting sights. It also instructs them to listen to the speaker without interrupting him and to sit where they find room without stepping over people's neck or causing them any inconvenience by pressing against them. This is supported by the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying while addressing Muslims during Friday sermon which meaning of is translated as: “Whoever has a bath on Friday, puts on the best of his clothes, puts some scent on if any, then attends Friday prayer without crossing over people's necks and performs whatever rak'as he could. Then keep quiet when the Imam mounts the pulpit until he concludes prayer. His prayer will be an atonement for the whole week preceding that prayer.” (Abu Dawood).

Etiquette of Conversation
Listen to the speaker without interrupting him until he finishes talking. In his speech during the Farewell Pilgrimage, Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Ask people to keep quiet.” (Bukhari & Muslim). Talk clearly so that the listener may understand you. Ayshah, the Prophet's wife, said: “The Prophet's words were so clear-cut that everyone could understand them.” (Abu Dawood). Cheer up and speak pleasantly. This is in accordance with the Holy Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Do not underestimate any kind of acts, even to receive your brother cheerfully.” (Muslim), and his other Hadith: “A good word is an act of kindness.” (Bukhari & Muslim). Al-Hussain, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I asked my Father about the Prophet's behavior among his companions” to which he answered: “He was always cheerful, easy mannered and lenient. He was not rough, noisy, vulgar, insulting, or miserly. He used to overlook what he dislikes without depriving others of hope or answering them negatively. He refrained from disputation, prattling and curiosity. He spared others from three things: He never censured, found fault with or spied on them. He spoke only what he hoped would be rewarded. When he spoke, his listeners lowered their head quietly and when he was silent they spoke. They never spoke haphazardly in front of him. If one talked in his presence they listened to him until he has finished. He used to laugh and wonder at what they laughed or wondered at. He was patient with stranger who were rude in both their talk and requests.”

Etiquette of Joking
Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said to his companion Hanzala, who thought that life should be free from fun and entertainment and that he committed hypocrisy when he played and jested with his wife and children: “But, Hanzala, refresh your heart from time to time.” (Muslim). Here the Holy Prophet explained to the man that permissible fun and self-refreshment is desirable for the human soul to regain its activity and liveliness. He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, also taught them the rules of conduct as regards to joking, when asked about his joking with them, by saying which meaning of is translated as: “Yes, but I speak truthfully.” (Tirmidhi).
Once an old woman came to him and said: O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah for me to be admitted into Paradise. He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “No old woman will be admitted into Paradise.”. On hearing this she went away crying. He said: “Tell her that she won't be an old woman when she goes into Paradise.”. Allah, the Exalted, says which meaning of is translated as: “Lo! We have created them a (new) creation and made them virgins, lovers, friends.” (The Qur'aan, Chapter Al-Qamar, 54:35-37). Allah's Messenger's jokes were not limited to words, they included acts as well. Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, A bedouin called Zaher used to bring presents from the desert to the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, and the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, used also to supply him with provisions on leaving. He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said about him which meaning of is translated as: “Zaher is our 'desert' and we are his 'city'”. The Holy Prophet loved him, though he was ugly-faced. One day, the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to him from the back unawares. Zaher said: Release me. Then he looked behind him and recognized the Prophet, so he pressed his back against the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him chest. The Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, called out: “Who purchases this slave?”. Zaher said:"O Messenger of Allah, You will find me not sellable". The Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, answered which meaning of is translated as: “But to Allah, you are not sellable, or he said: To Allah, you are so dear.” (Tirmidhi).
A joke should not involve any hurt or insult to any Muslim. Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “No Muslim is allowed to scare another Muslim.” (Abu Dawood). He also said: “Nobody should take (Muslim) brother's belongings.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
Joking should not drive a Muslim to lie in order to make others laugh, as understood from the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, words which meaning of is translated as: “Woe to him who lies when speaking to make people laugh. Woe to him! Woe to him!”.

Etiquette of Condolence
Condolence has been prescribed to console the dead person's family, relieve their sorrows and alleviate their distress. Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “A believer who condoles with his brother on a bereavement will be dressed by Allah in the robes of honor and glory on the Day of Resurrection.”. There is no specific formula for condolence. However, Imam Shafi'i recommended the expression: “May Allah magnify your reward, give you solace and forgive your deceased one.”. It is desirable to prepare food for the family of the deceased as is clear by the following Hadith of the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: “Make food for Ja'afar's family as they are distracted by the event.”.
Etiquette of Sleeping
Mention the name of Allah "Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem" and lie on your right side in accordance with the Prophet's peace and pleassings of Allah be upon him, words to Al-Baraa bin Azeb which meaning of is translated as: “If you want to go to bed, perform ablution as that for prayer, then lie down on your right side, and say: O Allah! I submit myself to You, and turn my face towards You, and confide my cause unto You, and take refuge in You, out of love and fear of You. There is no refuge or escape from You except in You. I believe in Your Book, which You have revealed and Your Prophet, whom You have sent as Messenger.” (Bukhari & Muslim). “Do not sit late at night and do your best to sleep early unless there is some need or necessity. It is narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, disliked sleeping before Isha' (evening) Prayer and (sitting and) talking after it.” (Bukhari & Muslim).
Do not sleep on your belly, as this was prohibited by the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning is translated as: “Such manner of lying down is disliked by Allah.” (Abu Dawood).
Make sure there is nothing that hurts you at your bed, as recommended by the gracious Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: “When one of you goes to bed, he should clear his bed with part of his loincloth as he does not know what is lying inside after he has left it, and let him say. Allahumma bika wada'tu janbi, wabika arfauh. Allahumma in amsakta nafsi faghfir laha, wa in arsaltaha fahfazha bima tahfazu bihi ibadakas-Salihan. O Allah! With Your name I have laid on my side, and with Your name I raise it. O Allah! If You hold my soul (i.e. take my life), then have mercy on it, and if You return it, then protect it with what You protect Your pious servants).” (Bukhari & Muslim).
Take care and ward off the sources of danger. The Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “This fire is an enemy to you, so when you want to sleep put it off.” (Bukhari).

Etiquette of Marital Sexual Relations
It is desirable, before cohabitation with one's wife or husband to mention the name of Allah. “When one of you cohabits with his wife, if he says, In the name of , O Allah! Keep us away from Satan, and keep Satan away from (the offspring) that you may grant us, and then if a child is born out of this union, Satan will have no access to hurt his child.” (Bukhari and Muslim). Private relations between husband and wife must be kept secret, as stated in the following Hadith of the Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: “The worst in position of all people in the estimation of Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be the man who cohabits with his wife or the woman who cohabits with her husband, then either of them divulges the secret of his mate.” (Muslim).
Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, recommended love-play, flirtation and kissing prior to sexual intercourse as evidenced by his words to one of his companions which meaning of is translated as: “Don't make love with her unless she has had the same degree of sexual appetite as you so that you do not discharge before her. He asked: Should I do this? The Prophet said: Yes, you kiss, caress and touch her until you find that she has the same degree of erotic urge and excitement as he, then make love with her.” (Imam Ahmad).
Husband should not pull out his penis from her vagina until she has finished her sexual desire.

Etiquette of Travelling
Return trusts to their owners, settle grievances and debts, and leave for your family sufficient provisions. Never travel alone except in cases of emergency when you find no company. The Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which the meaning of is translated as: “One passenger is one devil, two passengers are two devils, but three passengers make a caravan.” (Abu Dawood, Nasa'i and Tirmidhi).
On travelling, choose good company and select one of you as your leader. The Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which the meaning of is translated as: “When three people set out on a journey they should appoint one of them as a leader.” (Abu Dawood).
You should inform your family of the time of your arrival back to them. Do not return home at night as this is undesirable so that he should not see anything that he dislikes. The Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “If one of you is absent from home for a long time, he should not come back to his family by night.” In another version of the Hadith, the Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, prohibited a man returning home by night (Bukhari and Muslim).
He should say goodbye to his family, friends and companions, as the Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “If one of you intends to set out on a journey, let him say goodbye to his brothers, for Allah Almighty will make in their prayers a blessing for him.”
He should return home quickly after he achieve the objective of his journey. The Holy Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “Travel is a piece of anguish as it deprives each traveler (of you) of the facilities of eating, drinking and sleeping. Therefore, when one of you has completed the purpose of your journey he should return home quickly.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Conduct in the Market
Among the rules of behavior in the market are those included in the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, words when he said which meaning of is translated as: “Refrain from sitting in the streets.” The Companions said:"O Messenger of Allah, we have no alternative, there is no other place where we can sit and discuss matters." Allah's Messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “If it is so, then in that case, discharge your responsibilities due to the street.” The Companions asked as to what was due to the street. He said: “Keeping your eyes down, clearing the streets of obstacles, responding to Salam greetings, enjoining virtuous deeds and forbidding evil.” (Bukhari & Muslim).
In another narration he peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, added which meaning of is translated as: “Helping the aggrieved and guide the aberrant.” (Abu Dawood). He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, also said which meaning of is translated as: “Beware of two cursed practices.” His Companions asked:What are the two cursed practices? He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, answered which meaning of is translated as: “A person answering the call of nature in a public thoroughfare or in shady place (where people rest).” (Muslim).
A passer-by should refrain from carrying harmful weapons or devices, as enjoined by the Gracious Prophet peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said which meaning of is translated as: “When any one of you happens to move in our mosque or bazaar with an arrow (in his hand) he must grasp its pointed head in his palm, so that none amongst the Muslims should receive any injury from it.” (Bukhari & Muslim).

Etiquette of Buying and Selling
Selling is originally lawful in Islam because it is based on exchange of benefits between the salesman and the purchaser. However, in case any harm occurs to either party, the dealing becomes unlawful based on the following verse which meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! Squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity.” (The Qur'aan, Chapter An-Nisa'a, 4:29).
And on the Holy Messenger's Hadith, when he happened to pass by a heap of eatables (corn). He thrust his hand in that heap and his fingers were moistened. He peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, said to the owner of the heap which meaning of is translated as: “What is this?” He replied:"Messenger of Allah, these have been drenched by rainfall." He(the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him) remarked: “Why did you not place this (the drenched part of the heap) on top so that people could see it?” He who deceives is not of me (i.e. not my follower)." (Muslim).
Truthfulness and clear description (of defects, if any) is required in accordance with the Holy Messenger's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, saying which meaning of is translated as: “Both parties in a business transaction have the right to annul it as long as they have not separated. Thus, if they speak the truth and make everything clear they will be blessed in their transaction; but if they tell a lie and conceal anything, the blessing on their transaction will be blotted out.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Benevolence and fair dealing is also recommended in business, since this is a means of strengthening seller-buyer relations as pointed out by Allah's messenger peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, which meaning of is translated as: “May Allah have mercy on a person who is easy and courteous when he sells, buys or asks for the payment of his dues.” (Bukhari). That is because Islam wants this ease of dealing and tolerance in matters of selling and buying to save people from panting for material interests that undermine brotherly and human relations. Avoid swearing oaths when selling, in compliance with the Prophet's peace and pleassings of allah be upon him, instruction which meaning of is translated as: “Avoid too much swearing while selling (your goods) for, in the beginning it promotes business and then it brings all loss.” (Muslim).
The above are some of the Islamic Etiquette and ethics, and there are many others that would take a very long time to explain. Nevertheless, it would suffice here to remind that no human affair, private or public, goes without Qur'anic or Prophetic instruction or guidance that defines or regulates it.

The God That Never Was

From: http://www.muslimconverts.com/

By Ahmad Deedat

Islam is the only religion which teaches the existence of a PERFECT God. A perfect God means that there is no sharer in His Nature and His Attributes:
"Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him." (Holy Qur'an, 112:1-4)
There has appeared a man in Benoni. He is not qualified in theology, but is fondly cherishing the self-delusion that he is an apostle of Christ, appointed by God to convert Muslims to Christianity. Because he is a lawyer by profession, he is adept at juggling with words and quoting the Holy Qur'an totally out of context without knowing a word of Arabic. He wants Muslims to believe that Jesus was also a God, a belief that is abhorrent to us, because it is an antithesis of the Absolute perfection of Allah Subhaanahoo Wa Ta 'Aala!
Thus intent upon reversing the process of Truth, which is: "And say: The Truth has come and falsehood vanished. Surely falsehood is ever bound to vanish." (Qur'an, 17:81). In this he will never succeed because the process of Truth is irreversible.


He has given two reasons to prove that Jesus is God, viz: (i) "When we say Jesus is deity (or even God for that matter), we do not make him the Father! He is one with the Father and therefore HE SHARES HIS NATURE", and (ii) "HE IS IN EVERY WAY LIKE THE FATHER but he is not the Father". In short, according to him, Jesus is God because He SHARES THE NATURE OF GOD, and HE IS IN EVERY WAY LIKE GOD. These two reasons given by him to prove the divinity of Jesus are so puerile that they speak volumes of his legal training.
Numerous quotations from the Bible are given below to prove that Jesus neither SHARED THE NATURE OF GOD, nor is he IN EVERY WAY LIKE GOD. He can, therefore, NEVER be GOD. We have given the quotations from the Bible without comment, because the Bible speaks for itself! TO SAY THAT JESUS IS GOD OR SON OF GOD IS NOT ONLY A MOCKERY OF GODHOOD, BUT BLASPHEMY OF THE LOWEST ORDER AND AND INSULT TO THE INTELLIGENCE OF MEN! (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all quotations from the Bible are given from the Authorized Version. In our headings and subheadings we have referred to Jesus as "God" in inverted commas in order to show the ABSURDITY of the claim of this man that Jesus is God!)


"God" was created from the seed of David: "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the SEED of David according to the flesh." (Romans, 1:3)
"God" was the fruit of the loins of David: "Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." (Acts, 2:30)
The Ancestors of "God": "The generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew,1:1)
The Sex of "God": "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus." (Luke, 2:21)
How Mary Conceived and Delivered "God". Mary conceived Jesus like any other woman: "The days were accomplished that she should be delivered," (Luke, 2:6) which means that she went through all the normal stages of pregnancy. Nor was her delivery any different from other expectant mothers: "And she being with child cried, travelling in birth, and pained to be delivered." (Revelation, 12:2)
"God" Sucked The Paps of a Woman: "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked." (Luke, 11:27)
The Country of Origin of "God": "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king. (Matthew, 2:1)
The Occupation of "God": "Jesus was a carpenter by trade." (Mark, 6:3), "and the son of a carpenter." (Matthew, 13:55)
The Transport of "God": "Behold, thy king cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass." (Matthew, 21:5)
"And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon." (John, 12:14)
The Wining and Dining of "God": "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners." (Matthew, 11:9; Luke, 7:34)
The Poverty of "God": "And Jesus saith unto him, the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matthew, 8:20)
The Meagre Possessions of "God": "Shoes of Jesus" (Luke, 3:16), "Garments and coat of Jesus" (John, 19:23)
"God" Was a Devout Jew: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." (Mark, 1:35)
"God" Was a Loyal Subject: Jesus was a good citizen, he was loyal to Caesar. He said: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matthew, 22:21) He paid his tax regularly. (Matthew, 17:24-27)


"God" Was the Son of Joseph: "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, we have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John, 1:45)
Brothers and Brothers-in-law of "God": "And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence hath this man all these things? (Matthew,13:54-56)


Spiritual Development of "God": "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom." (Luke,2:40)
Mental, Physical and Moral Development of "God": "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke, 2:52)
"God" Was 12 Years Old When His Parents Took Him to Jerusalem: "Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast." (Luke, 2:41-42)
The Powerless "God" (Jesus) said: "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John, 5:30)
"God" Was Ignorant of the Time. Jesus said: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark, 13:32)
"God" Was Ignorant of the Season: "And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he (Jesus) was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet." (Mark, 11:12-13)
"God" Was Unlettered: "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John, 7:14-15)
"God" Learnt Through Experience: "Learned he obedience by the things which he sufered." (Hebrews, 5:8)


The Devil Tempted "God" For 40 Days: "And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan." (Mark, 1:12-13)
The Devil Tempted "God" Continuously: "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." (Luke, 4:13)
Like the Sinners, "God" Was Tempted In All Things: "But (he) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews, 4:15)
True God Cannot be Tempted With Evil: "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."(James, 1:13)
Only The Ungodly Are Tempted With Evil: "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own ust, and enticed." (James, 1:14)


The Confession and Repentance of "God": before the beginning of his public ministry: "Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist" (Matthew, 3:13), "which signified the confession of sins" (Matthew, 3:6), "and repentance from sins (Matthew, 3:11).
"God" Did Not Come to Save the Sinners: "And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." (Mark, 4:10-12)


"God" Was a Tribal Jew: "The lion of the tribe of Juda." (Revelation, 5:5)
"God" Came For The Jews Only: "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew, 15:24)
Racial Discrimination of "God": "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew, 10:5-6)
According to "God", The Gentiles Are Dogs: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs."(matthew, 15:26)
The Kingdom of "God": And he (Jesus) shall reign over THE HOUSE OF JACOB for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke, 1:33)
The Titles of "God": "The king of the Jews" (Matthew, 2:2), "The king of Israel" (John, 1:49; 12:13)

A Hungry "God": "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered."(Matthew 4:2), "Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered." (Matthew, 21:18), "and on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry." (Mark, 11:12)
A Thirsty "God": "(He) saith, I thirst." (John, 19:28)
A Sleepy "God": "He was asleep." (Matthew, 8:24), "He fell asleep" (Luke, 8:23), "And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow." (Mark, 4:38)
A Weary "God": Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well." (John, 4:6)
A Groaning "God": "He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." (John, 11:33), "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave." (John, 11:38)
A Weeping "God": "Jesus wept " (John 11:35)
A Sorrowing "God": "And (he) began to be sorrowful and very heavy." (Matthew 26:37). "Then saith he unto them, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." (Matthew, 26:38)
A Hysterical "God": "And (he) began to be soreamazed and to be very heavy." (Mark, 14:33)
A Weak "God": "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." (Luke, 22:43)


The Strong-Arm Method of "God": "And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought." (Luke, 19:45). "And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables." (John, 2:13-15)
The "God" of War: Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew, 10:34)
The Sabre-Rattling "God": Jesus said: "And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."(Luke, 22:36)


"God" Was Panic-Stricken: "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." (John, 7:1)
"God" Walked in Fear of the Jews: "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews." (John, 11:53-54)
"God" Has Shown a Clean Pair of Heels: "Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand." (John, 10:39)
"God" Fled in Disguise: "Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (John, 8:59)


A Friend Betrayed the Secret Hiding Place of "God": "And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus off-times resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of man and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons." (John, 18:2-3)
"God" Was Arrested, Bound and Led Away: "Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away." (John, 18:12-13)
"God" Was Humiliated: "And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face." (Luke, 22:63-64). "Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands." (Matthew, 26:67)
"God" Was Defenseless: "One of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand", he said: "Why smitest thou me?" (John, 18:22-23)
"God" Was Condemned to Death: "And they all condemned him to be guilty of death." (Mark, 14:64). "They answered and said, he is guilty of death." (Matthew, 26:66)
The Dumb and Docile "God": "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth." (Acts, 8:32)


The Dying "God": "And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost." (Mark, 15:37)
The "God" That Was Supposed Dead and Defunct: "Christ died." (Romans, 5:6). "He was dead". (John,19:33)
The Supposed Corpse of "God": "he (Joseph of Arimathaea) went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered." (Matthew, 27:58)
The Shroud of "God": "And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth." (Matthew,27:59)
The Orbituary of The Late And Lamented "God": "Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous man." (Luke, 23:47)


According to this self-appointed apostle of Christ, Jesus is God because: (i) "HE SHARED THE NATURE OF GOD", and (ii) because "IN EVERY WAY HE IS LIKE GOD". But according to the quotations of the Bible given above, we find that Jesus did neither SHARE THE NATURE OF GOD nor is he IN EVERY WAY LIKE GOD. He is, therefore, definitely NOT God! The onus to prove that Jesus is God now rests with this Christian. Either he must prove that Jesus is God, or he must admit that he is a polytheist, i.e., a believer in more than one God. WITH ALL THE TRICKS AND VERBAL LEGERDEMAIN OF HIS PROFESSION,HE WILL NEVER
He and his fellow-preachers in Christ, will never succeed in convincing the Muslims that Jesus was anything other than a natural man and a prophet of God, sent unto the house of Israel to bear the good news of the coming of the KINGDOM OF GOD, which prophecy was fulfilled with the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (Sallal Laahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)!

Blogger Comment:

The Kingdom is Islam, The messenger is Muhammad, The governer is Imam Mahdi and the King is Jesus.

Dani: Convert To Islam.

From: http://www.thetruereligion.org/

My husband and I are both Americans. My husband is caucasian and I am caucasian and American Indian mixed together. The reason I start this page by telling you that, is that when I first meet a person and they realize that I am a Muslim, they always ask, "Is your husband an arab?" On the face of it that seems like a very rude question, but here in America that is the usual assumption due to our media and in part, our culture. Once they find out that we are both converts to Islam, people just can't believe it.
Since you probably linked here from our Autism site, you know that for a long time I went through a period of searching for truth. My husband stood by and watched as I joined one religion after another. I started out as a Catholic, attended Catholic school, everything. Then I became a Buddhist since I was really disillusioned with the whole Catholic belief system. Then I became aware the Buddhism was definitely not the truth, I joined up in a Pentacostal movement.
What attracted me to this particular movement was their belief in Oneness. The only problem being, that in this church they taught that Jesus (PBUH) was actually God. This always didn't sit right with me, and I began to worry that once again, I hadn't found what I was looking for. But I knew that I could not return to a triune belief system. I just knew that there is only ONE GOD. Over the years, I had seen Muslim women walking around, but I was always too afraid to approach them.
Finally Allah (SWT) made a way for me to find the truth. I had a woman who watched my children for me while I was in nursing school. One day I brought up the subject of religion and she told me she was a Muslim. I never would have guessed such a thing. Well I began asking her questions, but she didn't really have the in depth answers I was looking for. Around this time I saw an ad in the paper for a speech to be given at the University of Riverside called "From behind the Veil" it was about women in Islam. My friend and I went and I was amazed that the speaker was an American woman. I couldn't believe it. I was so moved by the speech and my experiences that I said my Shahada that very night.
This was in March of 1997. Since then of course my husband has also become a Muslim and we both are very happy. There are sometimes that I feel a little out of place since we are both Americans, we don't speak Arabic, and so are a little self conscious when we are at the Masjid. I have a Quran with English in one column and the Arabic on the opposite side. Culture-wise it is a huge jump for us, it's not impossible to bridge the gap but it takes alot of understanding and humor at times to make it through.
I am new to Islam myself, so please do not judge Islam or Muslims by this page alone. All errors are mine, as Allah (SWT) and Islam are perfect.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pushing The Envelop With Agnostics.

By: Maged Taman

Agnostics believe in the intelligent design a (creator) through evolution and non-evolution as many religious people does. They do not believe that God contacted humans in the persons of the prophets. Like atheists who do not believe in a creator they are smart and a lot of them are moral people. The are just fed up with religions or more accurately peoples of religions. These are my answers to agnostics:

1- Why a creator after he did all the complicated creation would not declare himself, take the credit or wants us to worship him. It is like Larry King will declare to us one day that his very successful program of 20 years in CNN was not his and all this time it was his uncle Harry.

2- What religion has to do with people of the religions, many of them are hypocrites. Many wars were for non-religious causes and religion always used for materialistic goals. Most of crusaders did not read the Quran. John Paul II did apologies to Muslims for that. Many Muslims fought each other and Christians did the same.

3- The inability of religious people from different religions to come together to a common denominator tell you well about the existence of Satan.

4- The suffering in the world does not speak against the presence of God but for a better life after this one.

5- Human spirituality is people experience over the years. Visions that come true is the experience of a lot of people. Most of us feel spiritual with praying to God and closer to him when we follow his path. I never give up on religions even if the odds to be true was 2% as I red more and learnt more my faith is close to 100% of Islam. I feel my faith weaker at certain times but I reclaim it quickly.

6- Agnostics can continue to be agnostics, but God deserve to have their attention and prove to themselves that religion is true or not. I do not look only to secure my eternity but more if there is a God he created us and gave us all of these pleasures we ought to pay him back In all my life I learned whenever one did something good to me I try to find the way to make him happy as a pay back.

7- Restrictions of religions are mostly mild particularly in Islam. There is no obligation for ultra conservatism in Islam, it is ones choice. Sins that we avoid in large to help us to coexist together without harming one another. If you are not thinking of religion because you want to sin you have a weak case against religion. It is better to sin than to make God feel that you do not care if he is there or not. To be righteous is the proof to God of your faith. The universe is his and he has the right to make the roles. It is like two parents have 3 teenagers they have to live by the roles of the house. If they have a party every day and making a lot of noises they may not have them live with the parents while continuing to break the roles. If they go out and continue their messy lives, still their parents will feel better if they keep in touch. God more than the parents forgive all the sins and wants to the sinner to keep in touch. God gets very happy when his children come back to him including sinners, atheists and agnostics.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Advice to New Muslims

From: www.islamway.com

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful Asalam Alaykum (Peace be with you),

Congratulations! Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah) who has guided you to Islam, the path to success in this life and the next. So now you are a new Muslim with lots on your mind. Amidst the joy and excitement of embracing Islam you may also be feeling bewildered or confused regarding what to do next. You may have concerns about how your family or friends will react. No doubt there is lots to learn and obstacles to overcome, but with a sincere effort and a strong faith in Allah, everything will fall into place. Below you will find the most important advice we can offer you as a new Muslim. Don’t rush yourself, go at your own pace, and most of all remember we are here to help and support you every step of the way.

Importance of Prayer
[“The importance of the prayer in Islam cannot be understated. It is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. It was made obligatory upon all the prophets and for all peoples. Allah has declared its obligatory status under majestic circumstances. For example, when Allah spoke directly to Moses, He said, "And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance." [Taha 13-14] Similarly, the prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his ascension to heaven. Furthermore, when Allah praises the believers, such as in the beginning of surah al-Muminoon, one of the first descriptions He states is their adherence to the prayers. The importance of prayer is demonstrated in the many of the Prophet’s statement. For example, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Recorded by al-Tabarani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503.] The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one performs in his life, the most important aspect is one’s relationship to Allah, that is, one’s faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity (ikhlas) and worship of Allah (`ibaadah). This relationship with Allah is both demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the prayer. Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself stated. As for the Hereafter, Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure is closely related to the prayers. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them in their proper times, completes their bows, prostrations and khushu` [Khushu` in the prayer is where the person’s heart is attuned to the prayer. This feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and calm. His gaze is also lowered. Even his voice is affected by this feeling in the heart….] has a promise from Allah that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allah. He may either forgive him or punish him." [Recorded by Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’I and others. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 616.] ] The prayers are a type of purification for a human being. He turns and meets with his Lord five times a day. As alluded to above, this repeated standing in front of Allah should keep the person from performing sins during the day. Furthermore, it should also be a time of remorse and repentance, such that he earnestly asks Allah for forgiveness for those sins that he committed. In addition, the prayer in itself is a good deed that wipes away some of the evil deeds that he performed. These points can be noted in the following hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?" The people said, "No filth would remain on him whatsoever." The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, "That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayer until the Friday prayer are expiation for what is between them." (Recorded by Muslim.)”] [1] Okay so now you ask yourself…I know the prayer is so important, how do I learn how to pray? There are many sources on the internet which explain the purification and prayers, and that’s a good way to get an idea. But to really learn how to do it correctly you have to make the effort of finding a practicing Muslim to help you. A good place to do so is at the local mosque in your area…this is explained in more detail below. [1] Extracts from “The Importance of Prayer” by Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo

Seek Knowledge
Acquiring Islamic knowledge is vital to every Muslim. Clearly knowledge must precede action, since it is the bases by which one knows his/her obligations to Allah. Knowledge will enable you to practice your religious duties correctly, be aware of things which Allah made halal (permissible) and haram (forbidden), in that way you will conduct your life according to Allah’s guidance. Several verses in the Quran reveal to us the importance of knowledge: "Allah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks and (degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is well-acquainted with all you do." [Al-Mujadilah 58:11] "And say: My Lord increase me in knowledge." [Ta-Ha 20:114] Also the prophet, peace be upon him, informed us of the reward for one who seeks knowledge. Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "For him who embarks on the path of seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the way to paradise." (Related by Muslim)So, know you may wonder what do I need to learn?Well first of all you need to:Have a good understanding of the basic Islamic beliefs (Aqeedah) such as knowledge of Allah, the Angels, the Prophets, and the Day of Judgment. Learn the purification and the five daily prayers correctly. Its important to learn how to recite Al Fatiha in Arabic for the prayers. Learn about the permissible (Halal) and forbidden (Harm) things in Islam. After that, you can continue in learning more about the other pillars of Islam such as Sawm(Fasting),

Zakat, and Hajj (Pilgrimage).
Also you should strive to learn the Seerah (life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him), since his life is a role model for all Muslims. Another excellent goal which many converts aspire to is to learn the Arabic language to be able to read and understand the Quran in the language it was revealed by Allah(subhanahu wa ta'ala). How can you do this?There are many resources available to learn. There is a multitude of Islamic books, articles, and tapes which address all these topics and can give you a good start, however to learn correctly you need to do so at the hands of a practicing Muslim as we mentioned earlier regarding the prayers. Just like you can’t expect to be a good sports player by simply reading a book or two about it, you can’t expect to learn the various branches of Islam all alone; you need to practice it with other Muslims. Naturally to do so, you should frequently visit the mosque in your area…. Which brings us to the next topic. Importance of the Mosque (Masjid)The mosque plays a central role in Muslim society. Apart from being a place of prayers (the 5 daily prayers as well as the Friday prayer) the Mosque is a learning center. It’s a place where study circles and lectures are held for Muslims to learn more about Islam. Also a place were Muslims meet to study and recite the Quran, collect charity for the poor, and discuss issues concerning the community. It’s an ideal place for a new convert to meet Muslims and learn in a short time what would normally take weeks or months to learn alone. Naturally many new converts are shy or afraid to make their first visit to the mosque, but if they knew the joy which Muslims share when they meet a convert, such hesitation would disappear. Also, don’t worry about not doing everything perfectly from the start, no one expects a new Muslim to learn everything over night. From Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace be upon him, that he said: "A man does not frequent the mosques for the Prayer and the remembrance of Allaah except that Allaah, the Most High, greets him joyfully, just as the family of one who is absent greet him with joy when he returns to them." [Reported by Ibn Abee Shaybah, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Khuzaimah and others and it is found in Saheehit-Targheeb (no. 315)]So finally, we strongly encourage you to do your best to enrol in the study circles in your local mosque or fix a weekly schedule with the Imam to teach you all you need to know.

Staying In touch
It’s hard to explain the joy the whole team feels at Islamway upon hearing of a new convert like yourself, at the same time we feel a sadness when someone losses touch with us. We continue to wonder how the person is doing…how he/she is coping with family and friends, If he/she succeeded in finding a local mosque or not …etc. We hope that you will help us to help you, be keeping contact and letting us know your progress, concerns, questions…etc.Finally, Islamway Team sends you their warmest congratulations on embracing Islam and wishes you all the success in this life and the next, as Allah tells us in the Quran,"Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." [2:277]