Friday, February 20, 2009
I recently read parts of a book titled "Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race" by Edward W. Blyden which compared the lives, cultures, and statuses of "Mohammaden Africans" and "Christian Africans” as viewed through the eyes of Europeans during the late 1800s. I was surprised to learn that even at that time, many Europeans realized the effect Islam had upon a natural society that followed pagan religions (by natural I mean largely unaffected by modernization). It seems, Blyden said, that the “Mohammadan Africans” felt, in temperament, character, and general self-awareness of one's status, equal to white men and thus, were indeed equal in intellectual conversation and “cultural and moral practices.” The reasons Blyden gives for this are: 1.) In Islam, as soon as one became a Muslim, he/she was a free man/woman and in servitude to none but the highest Being, Allah. 2.)When an African man/woman converted to Islam from the pagan religion which he/she followed, the first task was to learn to read the Quran and gain knowledge from scholars; that is, gaining intellectual knowledge became a kind of worship and was highly encouraged. 3.) Once he gained even some part of that knowledge, he learned of the previous scholars, kings, theologians, travelers, and highly respected men within the tradition of Islam who were of African descent. He realized their merit and saw that others of his race were truly considered equal to white men (if not in a higher social standing due to their knowledge). Blyden specifically mentions that one of the first African persons they learned of was also an extremely important man in Islamic history -- Bilal (peace and blessings be upon him), who was given the most honored position by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to serve as the first caller to prayer when Islam was established. 4.) In contrast, when African's from pagan backgrounds converted to Christianity, they were told that the white man was 'superior' and reading and education were strongly discouraged -- the reasoning? That a man (such as an African) who would never be fit to use letters did not have a need to learn them. I don't think Blyden was implying that this was the case throughout all Christian converts, but it was for a vast majority of the one's he observed.
Anywho, after reading this, I went back to the ultimate source for all Muslims, the Quran. I knew that at the time the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) slavery was still in practice** , but never bothered paying much attention to the verses regarding it because ( thank God) they don't apply much today. But subhanallah, when I went back to read these verses closely, I was somewhat surprised to find so many rules for the RIGHTS of slaves in Islam…
The verses in this video contain some of them and are pretty self explanatory.
In addition, this Surah of the Quran also contains verses about several other issues: The etiquette of visiting people's homes, as well as rulings for interactions between the opposite sexes and maintaining a high level of modesty. Lastly, verse 35 till the end (of this video) contain the famous Verses of Light which discuss, through the use of parables, the struggle to attain knowledge and closeness to Allah (swt).
Is it simply a coincidence that the verses discussing one’s closeness to Allah (swt) and those having to do with others’ rights and protecting modesty come right after one another?
I think not. :)
ps – I wrote this in a rush so didn’t cite the pages from the book; look it up on google, that’s where I found the book!
**(From a social standpoint however, it is interesting to note that in 7th century Arabia, slavery had little to do with race or ethnicity and more to do with war and power; that is, those taken as slaves were usually prisoners of war and not taken as slaves because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity.)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
In a time where marriage, especially as portrayed by the media, is considered boring, and artificial, shallow relationships based on lust are encouraged, how can we as Muslims living in Western societies adhere to the Prophet's sunnah and how do we define 'romantic love' in accordance with Shari'ah and Islam? This is part 1 of 5 of a lecture (and one of three lectures given at a conference titled 'Beauty of Marriage in Islam' held in the UK January 20th, 2009) by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam-al-Kawthari. At the heart of it all is the issue of fulfilling others' rights: a wife's right, a husband's right, a child’s right, and most importantly, the concept of Taqwa, or fear of Allah, that leads us to fulfill each other's rights in the best manner possible, as exemplified by the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad ('alayhi salatu wa salaam).
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As we start the new year, don't forget the blessings of the month of Muharram:
1. It is the best of months for general voluntary fasts, after Ramadan.
2. It is especially recommended to fast the 10th of Muharram (known as the Day of `Ashura), with a day before it or after it. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Kasani's al-Bada'i`]
3. It is also virtuous to give in charity on this day.
[Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Sunnipath]
I've posted below an excerpt from sunnipath.com written by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani about the month of Muharram, particularly the day of 'Ashura. I hope it will be beneficial!
It is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) that he was asked about fasting the Day of `Ashura [10th of Muharram]. He said, "I did not see the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day," meaning the Day of `Ashura. [Bukhari (2006), and Muslim (1132)].
The Day of `Ashura has great virtue, and tremendous sanctity (hurma). The virtue of fasting it was known among the Prophets (peace be upon them all). Both Prophet Nuh and Prophet Musa (peace be upon them both) fasted it.
The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to fast this day even in Mecca, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]
When he migrated to Medina, and found the People of the Book fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.
It has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), that, "When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of `Ashura, so he asked them, 'What is this day you are fasting?' They said, 'This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.' The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, 'And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.' So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted." [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]
At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [for example: either before or after it], in order to differentiate from the People of the Book.
It has been reported in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him), also from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that, "When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted the Day of `Ashura and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, 'O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.' So the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, 'When next year comes, if Allah wills, we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].' But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) passed away." [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawud (2445)]
And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Fast the Day of `Ashura and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it." [Ahmad]
It has been reported from Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As (Allah be pleased with him), that "Whoever fasts `Ashura it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year."
Mourning on the 10th of Muharram is an Innovation
[Also: The fuqaha have mentioned that it is an innovation to consider Muharram a month of mourning. It is not disliked to marry in this month. It is a highly reprehensible innovation to participate in the rituals of the Sh'iah in mourning the death of Husayn (Allah be pleased with him).]
Some of the Virtues of the Day of `Ashura
It is a day in which Allah forgave an entire people. Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to a man, "If you want to fast a month after Ramadan, then fast Muharram, for it has a day in which Allah forgave an entire people, and He turns to others in repentance in." [Tirmidhi (841)]
And Allah alone gives success.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This (and recitation of the Quran) is the most soothing sounds to hear when your under stress. As finals are looming around the corner, I've been playing this over and over again. May Allah(swt) grant us all a good close to this year, insha'Allah!
p.s. -- This is a recording of an online event held at www.sunnipath.com last year at Eid al Fitr (2007). The artist is Brother Talib al Habib from the UK. This version of the burda has not been recorded by him (professionally) so this is all that's available as of now.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.
1.) We'll have a president who MIGHT change things (c'mon, your not that easily brainwashed by 'hope'!) Or...
2.) We'll have a public that's lost all belief of validity and legitimacy in its government [or has that already happened with Bush vs. Gore?].
Anywho, that was my half baked sentiment night before election day.
Here's to hoping that the next four years... don't bring us Palin. Ok, sorry, I was trying to keep this nonpartisan. Didn't work.
Friday, October 10, 2008
The article was, of course, in response to the hate propaganda film, "Obsession" made by... (you guessed it) an Israeli organization by the name of the Hasbara Fellowship Program, "which aims to train students to be effective pro-Israel activists on their college campuses" (NYTimes, Karen W. Arenson). The producer was Raphael Shore, "a 45-year-old Canadian who lives in Israel" (Arenson) who made the film with the hope that it would "spur action against Islamic terrorism" [which is, in all honestly, the most vague of labels. I mean, what the hell does the word 'Islamic terrorism' imply? Does it tell us who, among the world's 1.84 BILLION Muslims, are referred to as terrorists, or, does it simply want us to assume that all those who follow the religion of Islam [hence the word Islamic terrorism] are terrorists?]. Shore goes onto define this label by (of course) his own opinions, and supports his opinion with pictures and videos of fanatical suiciders, power hungry dictators, and the ever inflammatory link to Hitler.
I will give him credit for mentioning (exactly twice, once at the beginning and once at the end) that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, this is after showing over an hour worth's of mind bogglingly, jarred connections between how "islamic terrorism" is extremely prevalent in Muslim societies all over the world. So, thank you, Mr. Shore, for calling out that most of my community are power hungry, fanatical suiciders hell bent on destroying the world. At least you implied that there is a .001 fraction of us who are not. What a rosy picture you paint.
Anywho, I don't want to be sidetracked, so let me get to the point: I'm writing this not because I want to publicize the movie any more than it's already been publicized (I'd like to see it die a well deserved death alongside other such propoganda from the Zionist state), but because I would rather that someone hear of it from me, an American Muslim, instead of finding out about it through another source, who would have either 1.)Their own agenda or 2.) Be so thoroughly brainwashed by the falsehood in the movie that they are rendered incapable of any orignial foresight into logical, clear facts, leading them to spit out exactly what they've heard in the movie, regardless of the fact that history negates these falsehoods completely.
Whew! Felt good to get that off my chest.
But, of course, I (unlike the producers of this film) don't like to label an entire race or group or nation of people upon the views or charactor or actions of a few and usually small minority of idiotic people who happen to want to force their views and ideology upon others. [And yes, I'm being purposefully vague as to who this small group of people are so that I may further stress the fact that these groups exist in every society, large or small, progressive or backward, and that to judge said society upon their views is to look at that society through a very narrow lens.]
I don't believe (as do the producers of this film) that all American's are really as ignorant/stupid/lazy as goes the stereotype. I believe that we are able to check the facts of history ourselves, and realize that this film is bieng distributed, RIGHT BEFORE ELECTIONS, for a very specific reason. I also don't believe I have to spoonfeed my readers the message. You get it, don't you?
Thus, I present to you, an article written by one of America's foremost speakers on Islam and the West, Imam Zaid Shakir, and implore you to read it. If you've seen the movie, then I'm practically begging you to read it; afterall a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and a lifetime obsessing over hate is even worse.
Imam Zaid's Article: http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/obsessed_with_defamation_and_falsehood/