Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When the Night Equals a Thousand

by Muhammad Alshareef at Khutbah.com
It was narrated that in the days that Musa alayhis salaam wandered with Bani Israeel in the desert, an intense drought befell them. Together, they raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain to come. Then, to the astonishment of Musa alayhis salaam and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified.

It was revealed to Musa that there was a sinner amongst the tribe of Bani Israeel who had disobeyed Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala for more than forty years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala told Musa alayhis salaam. “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”

Musa alayhis salaam then called out to the throngs of humanity, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for forty years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.”

That man waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. Sweat poured forth from his brow and he knew that he was the one. The man knew that if he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst and that if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.

He raised his hands with a sincerity he had never known before, with humility he had never tasted, and as tears poured down on both cheeks he said, “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”

As Musa alayhis salaam and the people of Bani Israeel waited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured. Musa alayhi salaam asked Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though the sinner did not come forward.”

And Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of Bani Israeel with water.”

Musa alayhis salaam, wanting to know who this blessed man was, asked, “Show him to me O Allah!”

Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for forty years, do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him?”

PART II

Ibn Jareer narrates on the authority of Mujaahid, that there was a man from Bani Israeel who used to spend the night in prayer. Then during the day he would fight the enemy in the way of Allah until the evening and he did this for a thousand months. And so Allah revealed:

Verily, We have sent it (the Qur’an) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (the Night of Destiny or the Night of Power). / And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr is? / The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah this night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months) (Al-Qadr 97/1-3).

Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala revealed the Qur’an in the most blessed month – the month of Ramadan. And on the 27th night of this month comes the Night of Al-Qadr (Laylatul Qadr), which is better than a thousand months. On the authority of Mujaahid, Sufyaan Ath-Thawree reports that Laylatul Qadr being better than a thousand months means that the good deeds performed on it, fasting on it, and standing in prayer on it are better than a thousand months worth of good deeds, prayer and fasting.

It is reported from Abu Hurayrah that when the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah said:

“The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable” (Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa'i).

It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, that Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:

“Whoever stood in prayer on Laylatul Qadr in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim).

This one night surpasses the value of 30,000 nights. The sincere believer who worries day and night about his sins and phases of neglect in his life, patiently awaits the onset of Ramadan. During it, he hopes to be forgiven by Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala for past sins, knowing that the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam promised that all who bow down during the last ten days shall have all their sins forgiven. To achieve this, the believer remembers the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam’s advice in different sayings wherein he used words like ‘seek’, ‘pursue’, ‘search’ and ‘look hard’ for Laylatul Qadr.

Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. The mu‘min should search for it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, passing the nights in worship and obedience. For those who catch the opportunity, their gift is that of past sins wiped away.

The Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam illustrated for us some of the things we should be doing on this Grand Night. From his blessed Sunnah we find the following:

Praying Qiyaam (Night Prayer):

It is recommended to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many ahadith, such as:

“Whoever stands [in qiyaam] in Laylatul Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation [of Allah’s reward], will have all of his previous sins forgiven” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Making Supplications:

It is also recommended to make extensive supplications on this night. Aisha radi Allahu anha reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam:

“O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say, “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa ‘fu ‘annee – O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi).

Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:

It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr is likely to fall. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala. Aisha radi Allahu anha reported:

“When the [last] ten nights started, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam would tighten his izhaar [i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship], spend the whole night awake [in prayer], and wake up his family” (Bukhari and Muslim).

And she, radi Allahu anha, said:

“Allah’s Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam used to exert more [in worship] on the last ten than on other nights” (Muslim).

Have we estimated Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala correctly? Life is about people who take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala, and Laylatul Qadr is one of them.

Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim, so the orphan boy went to the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam asked the companion, “Would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, missed the opportunity and went away angry.

But someone else saw the opportunity – Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu. He went to the Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and asked, “Ya RasulAllah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?”

The Messenger of Allah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “Yes.”

Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?”

The companion answered, “Take it, for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”

Immediately, Abu Darda radi Allahu anhu went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Darda. “We’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snatched the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”

When Abu Darda was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Darda now have in Paradise?”

What did Abu Darda lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.

Abu Darda did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah on Laylatul Qadr.

Dear brothers and sisters, we do not obey, worship and revere Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala in a way befitting of His Majesty.

Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala revealed:

No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him. On the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand. Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him (Az-Zumar 39/67).

When someone dies we say inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we shall return). This is not a supplication just for when a soul is lost. It is a supplication for every calamity that befalls a believer, even if his sandal were to tear. Why? Because everything belongs to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala and everything shall come back to him. Sit and try to count the blessings Allah has bestowed upon you. Have you ever tried to count stars?

And He has given you all that you ask for. But if you count the favors of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude (Ibrahim 14/34).

We have not understood the weight of this Qur’an that we rest on our high shelves; this noble book that was sent to give life to the dead. For even if our hearts were as solid as mountain they would have crumbled to the ground in fear and hope of Allah’s punishment and mercy. Could it be that our hearts are harder than that mountain?

Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, you would have seen it humble itself and split asunder in fear of Allah (Al-Hashr 59/21).

Dear brothers and sisters, as you fill the masajid for Qiyam-ul-Layl in the last ten nights of Ramadan, remember what Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala wants you to know:

…that Allah is strict in punishment and that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

There shall be a night, some night in your life, that you shall awaken in Jannah or Hellfire. On his deathbed, Anas ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu prayed to Allah subhaanahu wa ta ‘aala, “O Allah, protect me from a night whose morning brings a journey to Hellfire.” Think about that morning.

Peace shall descend on Laylatul Qadr until the dawn. It may be that you shall leave the masjid after Fajr one day soon forgiven by Allah, Glorious and Most High.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Israeli ambassador calls Al-Sisi a "national hero for all Jews"

The Israeli ambassador in Cairo has told a minister in the interim government that the people of Israel look upon General Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi as a "national hero".

According to Israel Radio, the ambassador rang Agriculture Minister Ayman Abu-Hadid to congratulate him on his new post and said, "Al-Sisi is not a national hero for Egypt, but for all Jews in Israel and around the globe."  Israel is looking forward to the launch of new relationships with Egypt, said Yaakov Amitai, as well as joint efforts in the war on terror.

His mention of "terror" is understood to be an oblique reference to President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters protesting against the coup which removed him from office.  The two men agreed on the resumption of the work of the Supreme Egyptian-Israeli Agricultural Committee. Meetings of the committee are held alternately in Cairo and Tel Aviv every six months. They also agreed to reactivate the Egyptian branch of the Future Leaders Network, which includes Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli youths.

Source: Middle East Monitor

Eyewitness in Egypt: 'Most were shot in the face – only one in the back'

It's surely dark days for Egypt. I'm sure even the secularists who came out in droves for the ouster of Morsi aren't really celebrating right now. At least the sane ones wouldn't.

But I know who IS enjoying this bloodbath tremendously. See the next post.

---------------------------------------------------
By Robert Fisk

July 27, 2013 - "The Independent" -  Aiman Husseini was lying by the wall. Khaled Abdul Nasser had his name written in black ink on his white shroud just to the left of the door. There were 37 corpses in the room. It was swamped in blood. The doctors had blood on their shirts. It wasn't long before we had blood on our shoes. There were ribbons of it, dark brown, where they brought the stretchers in, even on the walls. The hospital next to the Rabaa mosque was packed with men and women in tears. Many of them talked about God. "These people are in the sun," a doctor said to me. "They are with God. We are just in the shade."
 
Believers all, I suppose. And the dead? Perhaps it requires a medical report to understand this many dead. Shot in the face, most of them, several in the eyes, many in the chest. I saw only one body which they claimed was shot in the back. Most of the faces they showed me were bearded. A massacre? Most certainly. And these were only a few of the dead. What on earth did General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi intend to do when he called on Egyptians to give their support to him on the streets on Friday?

These killings took place in the hours before dawn. The police, everyone said, opened fire, first with birdshot, then with live rounds as members of the Muslim Brotherhood led by Mohamed Morsi paraded close to the tomb of President Anwar Sadat – himself assassinated 23 years ago by an Islamist called Khalid al-Islambouli, a lieutenant in the Egyptian army no less – not far from the mosque. Who fired first? Well, all the dead were Muslim Brothers or their friends or family. There were no dead policemen.
The Brotherhood said its people were unarmed, which may well be true, although I have to say that a man guarding a car park near the mosque who directed me to the hospital was holding a Kalashnikov rifle. Living in Beirut, I have grown used to seeing guns in the hands of young men, but I was a little shocked to see this man in a blue T-shirt holding an automatic weapon. But he was the only armed man I saw.

But why did this have to happen? Ahmed Habib, a doctor, told me that in all his life he had never experienced dead on this scale – and you have to remember that I was seeing only some of the Egyptians who died – and that he had used up two weeks' worth of medical equipment in just a few hours. "Look at the blood on my clothes," he shouted at me. Many of the doctors lay outside the room of the dead, sleeping on the dirty floor, exhausted after trying to save lives all through the morning.

No one blamed the army – which lets al-Sisi off the hook as a general but not as the coup leader who demanded that the people of Egypt support his battle against "terrorism". Nor does it let him off the hook as a father. The general has three sons and a daughter, but the 37 dead men I saw were also children of Egypt who deserve, surely, some compassion. That they belonged to the Brotherhood – if they all did – does not make them "terrorists". On Friday night, I told several friends that I feared there would be dead on the streets of Cairo. Does this mean that I, a mere foreigner, feared the mortuary room I saw and that al-Sisi – a lofty general – could not have predicted this?

"We are told we are a minority now, so we don't deserve to live," another doctor told me. I didn't like the propaganda line but these were dramatic minutes in a room packed with dead bodies, so many that medical staff were literally tripping on the corpses and their shrouds. They were taken from the room on stretchers under the flash of cameras – no one missed the opportunity of Brotherhood martyrdom and many times was God's name invoked outside – and inserted into ambulances that queued beside the mosque in the midday heat.

Many people said the things people always say when confronted by tragedy. That they would never give way, that they would die rather than submit to military rule – this in a country, remember, where we must believe that the coup that happened didn't happen – and that God was greater than life itself, certainly greater than al-Sisi, a statement which the general would, of course, agree with. Dr Habib insisted that there was an afterlife which – being in a place of death – I admit I did ask him to prove. "Because we are not animals, to eat food and drink water all our lives. Do you think that is the only reason for our being?"

Behind the hospital were many men who had been wounded in the feet, some of them groaning with pain. But it was the dead who caught our attention, so newly killed that their faces had not yet taken on the mark of death. One paramedic had difficulty closing the eyes of a corpse and had to ask a doctor for help. In death, it seems, you must always appear to be asleep. And, cliché as it might be, I wonder if that is now the state of Egypt.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ramadan’s Final Round: Seeking Solitude at its End

By: Sadaf Farooqi

The adrenaline is pumping as the athlete’s feet pound the turf.

His breath comes in gasps; his charging body is tired but, by now, is in perfect harmony with the added strain and muscular stress of running many laps.

By now he is running effortlessly, his limbs no longer protesting to the consistent exertion.
As the last lap starts, the feeling of excitement builds up inside, and his mind becomes even more alert, despite the physical fatigue.

As soon as he spots the finishing line in the distance, his heart skips a beat, giving him the incentive to push himself even harder to achieve fruition. By now, when the end of his toils is near and in sight, his whole being - physical, mental, emotional, psychological - has been disciplined and taxed by the persistent, forced physical activity to harmonize as one entity charging in unison towards a coveted goal - the final destination.
The end is insight. The excitement is intense.


Olympics & Ramadan Analogy

The analogy above has less to do with the ongoing Olympic games and more to do with the “last lap” of the blessed month of Ramadan that is commencing for us Muslims. I have described the physical, mental and emotional condition of an athlete running the last lap of the marathon in order to draw some parallels.
I’d like to compare such an athlete to the penitent, humbled Muslim who has been diligently observing the diverse rituals of worship in Ramadan since 20 days viz. fasting from dawn to dusk, sleeping little during the night, controlling anger and quelling hatred, standing in prayer at night, speaking less, giving food, money and better social etiquette in charity, and last but not least: reading, reciting and pondering upon a portion of the Quran every day - all in the hope of getting closer to Allaah and seeking forgiveness for past sins.
When Ramadan starts, most Muslims are not in the habit of fasting numerous consecutive days. Hence, their body initially “protests” i.e. they experience some symptoms of food withdrawal for the first week or so, such as headaches, nausea and stomach upsets (mostly due to overeating at Iftar and Suhoor), sleep pattern disturbances and slight emotional irritability.

As the days of Ramadan progress, however, the Muslim’s body and soul quickly adapt to the new, different routine of eating, sleeping, work and worship imposed upon it according to a strict, disciplined schedule.
By the time Ramadan hits the half-mark, most Muslims have comfortably settled into their unique fasting and worship rituals. I personally do not feel any more the mid-afternoon hunger pangs that I felt during the first 10 days of Ramadan.

By this phase of the month, when the last third is starting, I am actually experiencing a gradual loss of appetite that makes me want to, instead, actually reduce my food portion-size at both, suhoor as well as iftar. The body has got the message by now: it has been disciplined to let go of its clinginess to frequent doses of food nutrition and sleep, and is instead now “feeding” more on the spiritual nutrition of taqwa(consciousness of God), selfless empathy (giving food and money to others in a state of hunger and thirst), and the recitation of Quran.

By the time the last ten days of Ramadan roll around, the Muslim is in this prime state of spiritual “inertia” - all set for the “last lap” of the Ramadan marathon. This lap is the most “strenuous” phase of the whole month, yet oddly enough, by the time it rolls around, the fasting Muslim has been prepared well for it. The sunnah of Prophet Muhammad indicates that Muslims should buck up for some more intense worship now:
"When the last ten days of Ramadan began, the Prophet would tighten his waist-wrapper (meaning he would stay away from marital relations), spend his nights in prayer, and wake his family." (Muslim)
How can we garner for ourselves some exclusivity with Allaah during the last ten days of Ramadan, to focus on worship?


Unplug the ‘Cord’: Block or Restrict Online Social Media Access

Tapping, clicking, and typing away on our phones, notebooks, tablet PC’s and desktop computers has become second nature for most of us. Many Muslims are online on social media websites and apps almost 24/7 nowadays, either by choice or due to work. Thanks to the short nights of Ramadan, most of which are spent awake due to prayer and meals, connectivity is even more “real time”.

Try to “switch off” - literally - after 20th. Ramadan. Tell yourself that these last 10 nights of Ramadan come just once a year, whereas our distractive online conversations, comments, status updates and information sharing go on for the rest of it. Snap yourself away from your latest online friends’ updates, photos, and tweets. Even avoid articles, over-sensationalized breaking news, and random television viewing. Also try not to get attracted by commercial advertisements of sales, coupons, discounts and shopping deals in magazines, newspapers and brochures to avail them for Eid!


Resist the Urge to Host or Attend Suhoor or Iftar Banquets at Homes or Restaurants

It is wise to reserve all our energies during the last ten nights of Ramadan for worshipping Allaah at night. This will not be possible if we go out of the house earlier in the day to attend a banquet for iftar, or if we spend hours in the kitchen preparing to host one at our own home.

Many Muslims attend late night qiyam al layl prayers in congregation during the last odd nights of Qadr (Power) which culminate with lavish suhoor banquets. Though well-intentioned, some of these gatherings end up having a festive, ‘party-like’ atmosphere and turn into social events, with some attendees breaking away from prayer to sit together in cliques at the back, eating and chatting away about worldly matters, while their children run around playing even as congregational qiyam al laylprayers are going on. This is quite uncalled for during the precious last nights of Ramadan.


Resist the Desire to Go Eid Shopping

Eid preparations should therefore never become the cause of distracting us from worship during Ramadan
I don’t know about others, but the special Eid sale and discount-deal advertisements displaying couture and fashion accessories that started cropping up on screens and billboards in my cosmopolitan city ever since Ramadan started, strike me as extremely dichotomous!

Eid is all about celebrating the fact that we, the Muslim ummah, spent a whole month in devout worship, doing righteous deeds and remembering Allaah more than we normally do. Eid preparations should therefore never become the cause of distracting us from worship during Ramadan!

We should thus make a conscious effort to keep our discussions, actions and attentions focused on worship and repentance during the last few nights that Ramadan is still with us; instead of on what to buy, what to cook, what gifts to give, and what to wear on Eid day.


Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

Even if you are not attending or hosting banquets, you can still end up spending more time in the kitchen than in devout worship, if you cling to ‘old school’ methods of cooking and insist on needless culinary perfectionism. Try to rely on healthy ‘readymade’ foods for suhoor and iftar, such as dates, fruit, milk, nuts, and packaged breads. Try availing affordable takeout or simple, one-stop, one-pot, easy-prep baked or simmered meals to do the work for you, such as slow-cooker or oven-bake recipes, stews, casseroles and grilled meats that do not require much chopping, kneading, frying, sautéing or cooking time.


Exclusiveness Even From Your Spouse

The Prophet was the most pious amongst us, yet even he abstained from having sexual relations with his wives (which is halal) during the last ten nights of Ramadan. He would isolate himself from social interactions in the masjid for a ten-day exclusive period in solitary communion with his lord, a praiseworthy, Ramadan-related social isolation known as i’tikaf. During this time, he would review Quran as usual with Archangel Gabriel, as was his routine during Ramadan every year, in addition to praying qiyam al layl. As the above-quoted hadith states, he would also encourage and involve his family members to pray at night.
If the tired but exhilarated athlete who is approaching the finishing line of this marathon, having spent the last many laps physically disciplining his body into optimum performance and unswerving mental focus on achieving his goal, allowed himself to get distracted by the hordes of awaiting, cheering, waving, and applauding fans gathered in the sidelines to witness his “win”, would he not lose focus and end up spoiling his whole previous preparatory effort to achieve a record-breaking sprint, at the very last minute?
It is time for us to get cracking on night prayers, Quran recitation, tearful repentance and intense, deep, dua’!

Posted on: iLoveAllaah.com blog - source

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ramadan 2013

Assalamualaikum

Boy, is this Ramadan wayyy different from the last one. In the last Ramadan:

1. We didn't have an apartment!
2. We didn't have a car!
3. Hence, we walked to the masjid for iftaar (a good 20 minutes walk)
4. I was jetlagged!
5. No taraweeh! Because how could we walk back so late in the night?
6. General unease and feelings of unsettledness! (because we weren't settled!)

NOW: Alhamdulillah :)
All of the things above have reversed. This Ramadan, I was determined not miss any Taraweeh - and also read the Quran with translation along with the Taraweeh Quran, so that I could (also) finish on the 27th Ramadan. I had made resolutions of reading dua'as, had made out a dua'a list, and had put down a Sehri (pre-dawn meal) meal plan and a rough outline of how my day should proceed.

Lol, so there are some things that cannot be implemented, no matter how much you want them to happen!

Like, in my daily schedule, I'm supposed to get up at 3.30 am, pray Tahajjud, make sehri, eat sehri, go for Fajr prayers in the masjid, read Quran and memorize a list of Surahs, and then go to campus. Stay in campus till 6pm, come back and have a nap from 6 to 8pm and then go to masjid, break the fast at 9pm and then read Quran till Isha prayers, read Isha and taraweeh, and then come back at around 12.30 am and then er, sleep.

So like, this was too ambitious I think. What started happening was that I would read the after Fajr Quran and then feel SO sleepy that I would sleep and wake up by 10 am :$:$. Sigh. I tried to tell myself that this is only for a month, but it didn't work. A few good headaches later, I've decided to take it a bit easy.

So lesson number 1: Don't be too hard on yourself on the first few days of Ramadan, or else you will not have the energy to keep going :)

THEN
This Ramadan was marred by my Chotpo's health issues. She was admitted in hospital and surgery will be scheduled soon. She's doing better now Alhamdulillah but the time spent in the past few days has been really hard. It's tough to be so far away and then hear your family members really missing you and wanting you to be there. And then, not have the visa to travel. :'(

Lesson number two: Life won't always hand you lemons. Don't dream of lemonades. It's Ramadan!

One cool thing in this masjid is that nobody has scolded me up till now for reading the Quran :) while the Imam is reciting it in Taraweeh. Alhamdulillah for that!

One of my friends has gone to Pakistan to visit her family (sigh, how lucky I know). I'm so wishing she hurries up and comes back here. I miss talking. Lol, funny I know. But there are days that go by when I'm silent and have no communication/conversation. This Ramadan especially. [er, not counting the salam du'a you do in masjid with various people randomly].





EDIT: I just realized how ungrateful this post sounds. So I've deleted the last two lines and am eternally grateful to Allah (SWT) for the blessings we have, and the people around us! :) :) :)

PS: And I think my friend is coming back soon (like, this week probably!! IA) :D:D:D:D:D:D Alhamdulillah!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex

A worthy read - source: Huffington Post

----------------------
By Assed Baig

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted did make me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations the wars all seem justified now, "see, we told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabalisation of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.
Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorise men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.
The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organisations, Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl gang raped by five US soldiers, then her and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticise the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No surprise!

An article that should serve as a must-read for everybody thinking the present democratic system is the way to go - with the "right Muslims" in power.

My comments in italics.
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Egypt's lesson for political Islam: politics comes first

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters)- When the Muslim Brotherhood won power it seemed Egypt's nascent democracy would allow the movement to realise its dream of making Islam the guiding principle in politics.

The Arab Spring revolts had opened the door to full Islamist participation in politics after decades of oppression or exile.

A year later, Egypt's first Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, has been forced out, illustrating the Islamists' dilemma as they champion faith while newly empowered citizens look more for effective pluralist governance.

"Islamism has always been more of a sentiment than a coherent political ideology," said Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. "Islamism is by definition not inclusive, but they need to be inclusive now." (trust to consult him on the subject).

The main political divide elected Islamists face is often not over religion, French Islam expert Olivier Roy said.

"Look at all the veiled women who were protesting against Mursi. They're not against sharia. They're against incompetence and nepotism," he said.

BORN IN EGYPT

Political Islam arose in Egypt in 1928 when Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a revival movement to establish an Islamic state. "Islam is the solution" was its motto.

Banned for decades and opposed by Islamic authorities, it organised networks around the country, especially to provide social welfare services that won it grass-roots respect.

When the 2011 Tahrir Square revolt toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood emerged as the country's only organised force besides the army.

But the Islamists were not equipped to tackle the daunting economic problems or tame a hostile bureaucracy. While public anger mounted over these issues, Mursi assumed special powers to help impose an Islamist-tinged constitution.

John Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, said the Brotherhood's reaction to criticism betrayed the defensive reflexes of its underground past.

"Good governance requires taking risks and reaching out to people you can't control, but they couldn't do that," he said.

In late June, Mursi protested he had reached out to his critics but they would not work with him. "I took responsibility for a country mired in corruption and was faced with a war to make me fail," he said.

RIPPLES IN TUNISIA

In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, the Islamist-led government is also under pressure as politicians battle over a new constitution, hardline Salafis attack secularists and unemployment and inflation rise.

The governing party Ennahda, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, also built its grass-roots network under the previous dictatorship, winning 42 percent in the 2011 election.

In contrast to Islamists often jailed during Egypt's dictatorship, party founder Rachid Ghannouchi spent 22 years in exile in Britain where he said he saw how religions could operate in a pluralist political system.

Ennahda formed a government with two secular parties and has not insisted on any mention of sharia in the constitution.



(and this is what it takes to stay in power. A very logical question that should arise in the mind of any Muslim {who wants Islam implemented in the political arena} is: Is this kind of power worth it? Will Islam ever be implemented, IF, to stay in power, you need to promise never to even mention Sharia??? If the answer is yes, that this kind of power is worth it, then sure. Go ahead. And if you're really sincere, then await the same fate that befell Morsi.)

But its weak response to attacks by Salafi extremists on cinemas, concerts and Sufi shrines made critics suspect that it secretly sympathised with them. The party denied the charge.

The assassination of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid in February sparked a crisis and the government collapsed.

Ennahda formed a second government with the same junior partners but a new prime minister and named independents to head the key ministries of interior, defence, justice and foreign affairs. It also cracked down hard on Salafi radicals.


(Now we're talking. Step by step. You have to lean away from Islam, and consolidate your positions of power. See the compromise here?)

This has not gone far enough for a small group of Tunisian activists that launched a petition like the one that led to Egypt's mass protests. It wants a new caretaker government that would curb the Islamists and fix the faltering economy.

(Exactly my point. Whatever you do, if you're part of their system, and you haven't done the job of convincing the masses and key power-holders of the country, then you're basically clutching straw after straw, in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. Eventually, you'll go down.)

"The possibility of an Egyptian scenario is unlikely in Tunisia," Ali Lareyedh, the new prime minister, responded. "Our approach is characterised by consensus and partnership."

THE TARNISHED TURKISH MODEL

In the first flush of the Arab Spring, many Arab Islamists looked to Turkey's AKP as a model that has respected faith and still won three national elections in a row.

But the AKP had more political savvy and a more developed economy to work with. It gave up the goal of an Islamic state over a decade ago and focussed on rapid economic growth.


(See?)

The AKP has not renounced the official secularism imposed by Turkey's former military rulers. The Muslim Brotherhood rapped Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan for defending the secular state during an otherwise triumphant visit to Egypt in 2011.

Erdogan and his allies started in local politics, learning skills that would pay off at the polls. "Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor Ennahda had this kind of experience," Roy said.

Still, the AKP has angered secularists by fostering a more visible Islam, helping build mosques and limiting alcohol sales.


(And they will face the same scenario as Morsi faced in Egypt, if they dared go beyond that. Limiting alcohol sales, it is. Not banning alcohol. 


On a side note: Doesn't this behaviour by the so-called moderates show a high  level of paranoia and extremism?)

Street protests broke out this year at Istanbul's Taksim Square and elsewhere over issues ranging from the environment to city planning and an Islamic-inspired morality campaign.

The protesters' main complaint was what they saw as Erdogan's growing authoritarianism after a decade in power with no effective opposition to rein him in. "That's not an Islamic issue," said Istanbul columnist Mustafa Akyol.

Stung but not subdued, Erdogan has dismissed the protesters as "riff-raff" and indulged in some Muslim populism to attack them at a rally in Kayseri in Anatolia's pious heartland.

"They think their vote is not equal to the votes of Ahmet or Mehmet or the shepherd in Kayseri. They have enjoyed their whiskies on the banks of the Bosphorus," he said.

FALL OF POLITICAL ISLAM?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting an insurgency including the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has called Mursi's failure "the fall of what is called political Islam."

(Wouldn't expect anything else from him.)

It is a setback but not likely the end of Islamists' decade-long efforts to link the power of religion to politics.

Roy said the Egyptian Brotherhood and Ennahda might both split into two groups, one keeping their groups' traditional approach and the other attracting more modern activists.

The coup could also push frustrated Islamists to violence. "The message will resonate throughout the Muslim World loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims," Mursi's National Security Adviser Essam El-Haddad wrote in a farewell Facebook post.

(One thing I have yet to understand. How come there is only one alternate to democracy: violence. Why aren't the non-violent alternatives being represented here?)

"There will be a greater feeling that Islam is targeted and this could lead to future mergers between some factions within the Brotherhood and Salafi groups that see eye to eye," said Jordanian analyst Mohammad Abu Rumman in Amman.

(Additional reporting by Paul Taylor and Tom Perry in Cairo and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; editing by Anna Willard)
Reuters

Aur yeh bhe hain...

Expressing solidarity: Jamaat-e-Islami rally slams Morsi’s ouster 

KARACHI: Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) staged a rally on Sunday against the military coup in Egypt that resulted in the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first ever elected president.

Carrying posters of Morsi, the participants burnt effigies of General Abdel Fattah el Sisi, the supreme commander of the Egyptian armed forces, and Adly Mansour, the acting president.

Addressing the rally, JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan declared that overthrow of a democratically elected leader by the military was unacceptable and demanded Morsi’s release from house arrest.

The best option for the civilised world is to adhere to their much trumpeted core principles,” he said. “This was a military coup and must be recognised as such no matter what the reason was or else Muslims across the world should not be blamed for seeking alternatives, even violent ones, for democracy.”
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My comment: Isn't it rather naive to expect the "civilised" world (which has proven itself to be awesomely civilized in the past) to stick to its principles (the princples it has proven to stick to awsomely in the past!)

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Tunisian rulers bemoan Egypt's 'coup against legitimacy'

(Reuters) - Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings, on Thursday criticized the Egyptian army's removal of elected president Mohamed Mursi as "a coup against legitimacy" and urged Cairo to guarantee his safety.
Mursi rose to power after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a 2011 uprising inspired by the popular revolt against dictatorship in Tunisia a few weeks before. Moderate Islamists were subsequently elected to govern Tunisia.

"Military intervention is totally unacceptable and we call on Egypt to ensure that Mursi is physically protected," said President Moncef Marzouki. "We view what is happening in Egypt with concern - the arrests of journalists and politicians.".
Tunisia's ruling Ennahda party denounced also what it called a "coup against legitimacy" in Egypt. "Ennahda rejects what happened and believes legitimacy is represented by President Mursi and no one else," Ennahda said in a statement.
It said it feared that "this coup will fuel violence and extremism" and induce despair in the value of democracy.
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Erdogan condemns Egypt Army over Morsi ouster

 
Turkey has condemned the removal of Egypt's ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, from office through a military intervention, criticizing the West for failing to call the ouster a coup.


"No matter where they are ... coups are bad.... Coups are clearly enemies of democracy," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech on Friday, adding, "Those who rely on the guns in their hands, those who rely on the power of the media cannot build democracy.... Democracy can only be built at ballot box," he added.

Erdogan, who had established friendly ties with Morsi, welcomed the African Union's decision to suspend Egypt over the army's intervention, and criticized the West’s double standards.

"The West has failed the sincerity test.... No offense, but democracy does not accept double standards," he said.
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Turkey condemns Cairo shooting, calls it 'massacre'

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned the Cairo shooting in which at least 42 people died on Monday, describing the incident as a "massacre" and calling for the start of a normalisation process.
Islamist protesters angered by president Mohamed Mursi's overthrow said the killings occurred when they were fired on outside Republican Guard headquarters. The military blamed the bloodshed on a "terrorist group" that tried to storm the compound and said at least one soldier was killed and 40 hurt.
"I strongly condemn the massacre that took place in Egypt at morning prayer in the name of the fundamental human values which we have been advocating," Davutoglu said on Twitter.
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My comment: At least these guys (all above) had the guts to speak out the truth. Even though, they know they're not going to increase their popularity in the Western world through these remarks. But at least they have respect for truth and integrity - rather than throwing every value away in the name of consolidating power. 



Yeh Musalmaan hain...

Qatar strips Qaradawi of citizenship, orders Khaled Meshaal out of country 

Qatar has stripped prominent Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi of his Qatari citizenship, has ordered Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal (who took refuge in Qatar after it was no longer palatable to be sheltered by Bashar al-Assad) out of the country, and has withdrawn support from the Muslim Brotherhood as a result of Wednesday's events in Egypt (link in Arabic).

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UAE, Saudi Arabia express support for Egyptian military’s removal of Morsi
ABU DHABI // The UAE and Saudi Arabia today expressed their support for the Egyptian military’s removal of the Islamist-led government of Mohammed Morsi.
Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, congratulated Egypt’s interim president Adly Al Mansour after he was sworn in today.
“We have followed with appreciation and satisfaction the national consensus that has been seen in your sisterly country, which played a prominent role in enabling Egypt to get out of its crisis in a peaceful way,” Wam news quoted Sheikh Khalifa as saying.

---------------------------------------- 

Saudis, Gulf emirates actively aided Egypt’s military coup, settling score for Mubarak ouster

The lightening coup which Wednesday, July 3, overthrew President Mohamed Morsi put in reverse gear for the first time the Obama administration’s policy of sponsoring the Muslim Brotherhood movement as a moderate force for Arab rule and partner in its Middle East policies. debkafile reveals that the Egyptian military could not have managed their clockwork coup without the aid of Saudi and Dubai intelligence and funding.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE threw their weight and purses behind Egypt’s generals aiming to put their first big spoke in the US-sponsored Arab Revolt (or Spring), after they failed to hold the tide back in Libya, Egypt and thus far Syria.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Abbas celebrates, Hamas goes mum on Egypt coup
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday praised Egypt’s military for toppling President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological ally of Abbas’s Hamas rivals.

The fall of Mursi’s government deprived Hamas of a sympathetic neighbour, and may strengthen Abbas’s chances of nudging Hamas toward a long-delayed reconciliation and power-sharing pact.

By intervening to remove Mursi, the Egyptian army had prevented Egypt’s “slide toward an unknown fate”, Abbas said.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Abbas, said: “This is a historic day for Egypt, and we are learning a lesson from the Egyptian example. Hamas should take note of what popular will can achieve.”

Hamas officials largely shunned the media yesterday, and the movement took no position on the sudden removal of Mursi.

“We pray to God to preserve the security and the stability of Egypt and its people and to prevent bloodshed,” a Hamas spokesman, Ehab Ghussein, told Reuters.
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Updated: Ennahdha Condemns ‘Coup’ in Egypt, but Distances Itself from Brotherhood - See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2013/07/04/ennahdha-condemns-coup-in-egypt-but-distances-itself-from-brotherhood/#sthash.8eI7WFWY.dpuf
- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2013/07/04/ennahdha-condemns-coup-in-egypt-but-distances-itself-from-brotherhood/#sthash.8eI7WFWY.dpuf

Yesterday’s events in Egypt, in which President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by the military after a protest movement called for him to step down, have inspired strong reactions from Tunisia’s ruling Ennahdha party.
Ennahdha, which like Morsi’s party is an Islamist movement that came to power after the revolutions of January 2011, has condemned what it deems a “coup” against Morsi, but is also careful to differentiate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Ennahdha spokesperson Zoubeyer Chhoudi criticized yesterday’s events in an interview today with Tunisia Live.
- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2013/07/04/ennahdha-condemns-coup-in-egypt-but-distances-itself-from-brotherhood/#sthash.8eI7WFWY.dpuf
All these nations enjoy amazing support from the West, let's not forget that. And er, their power is permanent too. As soon as they die, their sons become the next leaders. The cycle continues. Happy life indeed, eh?

Let's see what happens to them in Aaakhirah.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

As I sit in the hospital room...

Assalamualaikum

This post is an attempt to capture today and yesterday so that years later, I can recall what happened when I volunteered. To do what, you may ask?

It will become apparent by the end of the post insha'Allah :)

It's 4.18 am. The hospital never sleeps. I can hear nurses bustling about. They do their duty so well, they just don't let you sleep. And their smiles and professionalism is such, you can't help but er, smile back even though you feel like saying "Please can you let me sleep? Like say, for an hour maybe?" Lolz.

So since my nephew Chotu was born in Oct 2009, it's been a while since I held a teensy (literally, TINY) baby in my arms. Aww, what a feeling MashaAllah!

One of my friends' was due to have her baby day before yesterday. She also has another little daughter and the hospital doesn't allow kids to stay overnight. So I offered to stay the nights in the hospital as long as she stays here. And it's been one heck of a ride :D. I just can't help remember that time, in Karachi, when I used to pace the hospital room with chotu potu's spindly self flailing about in my arms. He was completely un-pacifiable! (pun, er, intended, okay).

So this lil kiddo, this daughter of my friend, is a feisty child MashaAllah :). Yesterday night, she was crying so bad, and it was all because of the "getting used to the mother's milk" business. Wow, I watched in fascination as the lil girl, barely 2 days old, knowing this one important skill for survival: sucking. SubhanAllah!

And the whole night passed in this way. But I did get sleep when I went back home. It's the mother who cannot do that... May Allah Bless them all for their efforts.

Tonight is the second and last night I will be here. Today the situation is way better. The lil brainy baby has figured out the difference between a pacifier and a live er, stream (of milk). Uh, sorry for the idiotic wording. But you get the picture. I'm amazed at her.

[Try getting a robot to learn this fast :p hah!]

Anyway.

So this was one volunteer work which ends today. Another amazing work going on in this state is by an organization which distributes food/clothing/money to the needy Muslim families.

I'm AMAZED at their work! [and er, it's an inspiration that the lady who runs it is a PhD doctor]. So me and friends collected a few things to give away before Ramadan. The things were kept in my house and this organizations' reps were supposed to come pick them up.

So at 6.30pm, the bell rang. Here is how it went.

Me: Whose there?
Him: Brother XYZ from Organization_name
Me: Okay, Assalamualaikum [an Uncle stood there, looking very kindly].
Him: Walaikumassalam.
Me: Here are the things.
Him: Sure, I will take them.
Me: (thinking) : Okay, this will take about 10 chakkars (turns) from my living room to his car.

To my surprise, he started picking up boxes and piling them outside the door. I stared. He came back and explained, "This is so I don't have to come back inside the house repeatedly."

*amazed at the kindness, Allah-Consciousness involved*



Him: We have a lot of families in need, some single parents, some don't have enough child support, some got laid off. But we get stuff from generous people, and we go around collecting all the leftovers of iftaar from all masajid.

Him (contd): Dr is my wife. Don't know what I'd do without her. I'm lucky to have her. 

Me: Convey my Jazakillah to her for being an inspiration for this effort.

Him: I will. Assalamualaikum.

And he left. I (waited till he had gone) broke out into a huge smile.

Couples who help each other attain the pleasure of Allah, has the "spark" last through the years. This man was closer to my Dad's age, than my age. And yet, he spoke so good about his wife. Alhamdulillah. May Allah Enable these things to come our way too! Ameen.

So this was the second volunteer thingie. I guess I must sleep now, the baby is also asleep, so prudence and pragmatism demands that I stop typing and turn in.

So long!






Something worth reading

A Converse of Wisdom

A Skeptic said “What if you are wrong?”
I said “What if I am right?”
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An Atheist said “How is there a Creator?”
I said “How is there a Creation?”
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A Christian said “Love God and worship Jesus”
I said “Love Jesus and worship God”
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A Jew said “God will be true to his covenant with us”
I said “But have you been true to your covenant with God?”
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A Buddhist said “The purpose of life is to discover Enlightenment”
I said “Enlightenment means to discover the purpose of life”
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A Polytheist said “I worship many gods that hear and intercede for me with the almighty God”
I said “I worship one God that’s almighty enough to hear me without an intercessor”
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A Secularist said “Wars and killing for religious reasons are bad”
I said “Wars and killing for materialistic reasons are evil”
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An Evolutionist said “The universe created life by itself, without needing God”
I said “Did the universe create itself without needing God?”
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A Democrat said “The majority must rule”
I said “But what will rule the majority?”
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A Nationalist said “The Nation comes first, before God”
I said “God was first, before the Nation”
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A Conservative (Republican) said “Why don’t Muslims assimilate into our culture?”
I said “Because your culture demands assimilation”
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A Patriot said “I support my country, right or wrong”
I said “A country has no right to be supported in wrong”
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A Liberal said “What vanity prevents you from adopting Liberal values?”
I said “What Liberal value isn’t based on vanity?”
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A Zionist said “Palestinians impose their demands for justice onto others”
I said “Zionists impose their religious demands onto Palestinians”
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A Neo-Conservative said “I believe we are the superior Civilization”
I said “That’s what makes you an inferior Civilisation”
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An American politician said “We resist against those who use terrorism and violence”
I said “You use violence to terrorise those who resist”
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A French Politician said “We have banned wearing the Niqab to free women”
I said “You have banned womens’ freedom to wear the Niqab”
-
An Islamophobe said “I hate Islam, and fear for my safety from Muslims”
I said “I fear for the safety of Muslims, from those who hate Islam”
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A Pacifist said “The just way is to be peaceful”
I said “To be peaceful to the unjust, is injustice to the peaceful”
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A Pragmatist said “Always choose the lesser of two evils”
I said “Then your choices will always be evil”
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An Ascetic said “Leave worldly affairs, and seek God”
I said “Seek God in your worldly affairs”
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A Conspiracy Theorist said “I believe that ‘They’ control the World”
I said “That belief controls your world”
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A ‘Moderate Muslim’ said “Ideally, you should embrace compromise”
I said “You should embrace an uncompromisable Ideal”

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ramadan and its Hijackers

By Khalid Baig in Albalaagh


Ramadan is a month of tremendous blessings. Today it is also a time of great challenges. The challenges come from a head-on collision between Ramadan and the materialism, consumerism, and hedonism that have unfortunately engulfed Muslim societies. Approached correctly and observed diligently, the former could help us overcome the latter. In our present state of decay, the opposite seems to be happening in many cases.

Ramadan’s month long intensive training program begins to teach self-discipline by rearranging our daily life. It changes the time we go to bed, the time we get up, the times we eat. We learn to do without the permissible joys of this life for the long prescribed hours of the day. After a day of fasting, we break the fast only to rush to the maghrib salat, which cannot be delayed beyond a few minutes. An hour or two later we are ready for the special nightly prayer, a unique prayer which can only be performed during Ramadan and which both highlights and cements our special relationship with the Qur’an. We stand and listen to the entire Qur’an being recited from heart in the taraweeh prayer. This is in addition to our own reading of the Qur’an that aims at finishing at least one cycle of the complete reading during the month on our own. With all the extra acts of worship, there is hardly any time left for anything beyond the essential during the day and night. This is special time, when the rewards for voluntary acts of worship equal the rewards of mandatory acts and the rewards for the latter are multiplied up to 700 times. With the scales of rewards so extraordinarily high during this month, it would be folly to waste our time on things that can be done during ordinary time --- throughout the rest of the year. The opportunity cost is just unbelievably high to do otherwise.

Yet that is precisely what we manage to do in so many cases.

Consider iftar, the breaking of the fast at the end of the day. A Jewish acquaintance once told me about his fast of Yum Kippur. Unlike the Islamic fasts, all Jewish fasts are a one day affair but the day is longer. It starts twenty minutes before sundown on the previous night. At the end of the fast, he said, “I went to a restaurant and ate like a pig.” With the maghrib salat and the taraweeh, the Ramadan fast does not permit that. Neither does the spirit of Ramadan permit indulgence. Yet today one can see fancy restaurants in the Muslim world offering high priced iftar dinner specials that invite you to do just that. An ad from a five star hotel in Karachi sums up the spirit of this venture: “This exquisite setting at our extravagant Marquee is the perfect venue for a genuinely fascinating and lavish buffet iftar dinner, featuring restaurant specialties and culinary delights created especially for the Holy month.” One could substitute Dubai or Jeddah or Kuala Lumpur or any other Muslim city for Karachi; the message will remain the same. Instead of turning your attention to Allah, turn it to the exquisite setting and culinary delights. Indulge. Turn the breaking of the fast into a status symbol. Exquisite (i.e. esoteric), extravagant, lavish. This is how the agents of rampant consumerism counter Ramadan’s message of simplicity, sacrifice, and self discipline. All while advertising their special regard for the holy month.
To be sure, the fraction of Muslims going to these fancy restaurants is small, although it is increasing. But their influence on the society goes beyond these numbers. For they set the norms and expectations for the larger society. Lavish iftar parties for which people drive long distances and miss their prayers are an indication of these influences.

In the US, the Muslim population has not reached the levels where such iftar extravaganza would be offered by the Hiltons and Marriotts here. But the underlying malaise is there, although it has different manifestations. Here, of necessity, mosques and Islamic centers also work as community centers so the problems that one sees in the bazaars and other institutions outside the mosque in Muslim countries are witnessed in the mosque here. At the larger Islamic centers, bazaars, games and gossip sessions go on during Ramadan nights --- festive social gatherings and other activities that work not to reinforce but counter the purpose and spirit of Ramadan.

This, along with the pressures of the pop culture, is posing unprecedented dangers to the very nature of the forms of worship.

Consider taraweeh, the special long nightly prayer that is a hallmark of Ramadan. Throughout the Muslim world Muslims stand up in these prayers to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an, leading to khatam or completion of a complete cycle of reading during the month. Everyone, young and old alike, cherishes the opportunity to take part in this very special act of worship. There is a small difference between juristic schools regarding the details of taraweeh.  A majority offers twenty rakats to finish the day’s portion of Qur’anic reading. A smaller group finishes the task in eight rakats. But both groups perform the khatam.

But not in the US. To be sure, here most mosques still perform the twenty rakats and perform the khatam. But there is a big difference. Here one can see the congregation shrinking considerably after the eight rakats. That is when a large number, including most of the youth, leave. As a result, for all practical purposes we can discern an emerging generational gap in the forms of taraweeh. The twenty rakats with the complete khatam are for the 'uncles'. For the youth, regardless of the fiqhi school they belong to, it is just eight rakats.

The situation is so bad that at many places officially the "youth taraweeh" (if there is any such thing in the Shariah) ends after eight rakats and the mosque administration plans other youth activities like lectures and even games at that time, even though the taraweeh continues. Having another official activity going on in the mosque at the time of congregational prayer should be unthinkable for it belittles the congregational prayer. You drop all business to attend the congregational prayer, especially when you are inside the mosque. Yet this slighting of the important act of worship of Ramadan goes on without much concern during Ramadan nights.

The act is justified on the grounds of the fiqhi difference in the number of rakats of taraweeh. But there is a big difference between offering eight rakats because one is convinced that the proper number of rakats is eight and doing so because this makes for a shorter prayer time and is less tiring. For the former is actually more tiring as you stand up for longer periods for the same portion of the Qur’anic recitation as would be divided into twenty rakats. Choosing eight at a place where they offer twenty means you will be listening to about forty percent of the Qur’anic recitation. And if we are happy--- even adamant--- about this choice, what does that say about our love for and relationship with the Qur’an?
The practice could be excused if a person were too old, too weak, or too tired after a long day’s work. But we are talking about young healthy people who would spend the rest of the time gossiping or other youthful activities even as the prayer goes on. Should this disregard be allowed to hide behind a technical legal cover?

There are other variations of this distortion in taraweeh that cut across age groups. At some places people sit and listen to the Qur’anic recitation before the taraweeh so as to reduce the amount that would be recited in taraweeh. At other places some people just sit back and listen to the recitation without joining the prayer. With these trends, one wonders whether, if unchecked, this very important part of Ramadan will be distorted beyond recognition in a generation or so.

The same observations can be made about Qiyam-ul-Lail. Ramadan nights, especially during the last third of the month, are meant to be spent in personal acts of worship, in salat, dhikr, duas, reading the Qur'an and seeking forgiveness. Instead these are spent in talks, socialization, and bazaars set up on the mosque compounds.

The most solemn and demanding act of worship for Ramadan is the I'tikaaf, when a person secludes himself from the world around in a corner of the mosque to devote himself totally to remembering Allah and strengthening his personal relationship with Him. The act could provide spiritual rebirth and carries tremendous rewards. Yet today one can see laptops, cell phones, iPads, and other modern widgets routinely forming a part of the equipment of itikaf. It is an open question how can anyone realize the goals of itikaf with activities like watching videos, Internet surfing, texting, and chatting.

While telling us about the great blessings of Ramadan, the Messenger, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, also warned about the possibility that it could cement our loss and wretchedness if we are not serious about taking advantage from its blessings. In one famous hadith he said that there are those who get nothing from their fasts but hunger and thirst and nothing from their qiyam-ul-lail but sleep deprivation. In another hadith he said ameen as angel Jibrael cursed the person who finds Ramadan in a state of health and yet does not use it to win freedom from the Fire through acts of devotion and worship. There can be no sterner warnings than these. We have been forewarned to be forearmed. If we pay attention to them and become serious about Ramadan, then it would be a month of tremendous blessings.

This requires fasting with our whole body and soul. Our eyes, ears, tongues, and hearts should be totally committed to the fast by not seeing, hearing, or speaking haram things or thinking haram ideas. Honesty, truthfulness and Allah consciousness or taqwa should be our guiding values. We should avoid all frivolities, including the ones that are committed in the name of religion. Only then we will realize the sweetness in the acts of worship like prayers and recitation and utter foolishness of exchanging them for entertainment. This will turn Ramadan into a month of spiritual renewal that would recharge our batteries of iman and taqwa and prepare us to face the world and its temptations with moral uprightness for another year.

Otherwise the blessings would have been hijacked from us.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sad, but totally true!

A post by Abdullah Al Andalusi

Soon, the Muslim Brotherhood will come to the same realisation as others Gradualists (in the revival of Islam) like the FIS (Algeria) and the Rafah Party (Turkey). One does not simply use the post-colonial political system in Muslim countries against itself. It is backed up, and underwritten, by the very foreign powers who created it as a cage over us.

This is like walking into a Casino, and using your money to play the gambling games, hoping that you'll win enough to buy the casino, and close it down. In reality, you've just wasted your money and made the casino richer, because 'The House Always Wins'.

The U.S. government realises that 'Islamist' parties are popular - representing the people's desire for a Islamic system. However, they realised that though they cannot prevent such parties coming to power now, the situation is not outside some means of control. Namely, the U.S. merely has to allow these parties to get into a very limited role of power, then 'shut all the doors' on them to make them appear to fail in the people's eyes. Since Morsi wasn't willing, or able, to really change the system - he and his party will be publicly hanged by it (as a warning to others).

Now the Muslim Brotherhood cries foul, and demands that people respect democracy (i.e. that Morsi is an legitimate elected leader). But they don't understand why Liberals use Democracy. Liberalism doesn't exist to serve Democracy. Democracy exists to serve Liberalism. This is why the U.S. constitution was created, because the founding fathers of America didn't trust the rule of the majority. The Constitution defines the essential laws and rights, and people only elect leaders to implement that Liberal constitution, or make laws WITHIN its limits [btw the American public was not given a choice on the US constitution]. Does Morsi not see that if Democracy doesn't produce the result the Liberals want, they have no problem with becoming violent to protect Liberalism, and ignoring democracy. This fact should have been apparent from anyone who studied history.

The Brotherhood should have changed the system, not just played games within it, hoping the system would allow them to overturn it. Morsi tried to appease the USA and ISRAEL by shutting off Gaza ever more than Mubarak did. He begged for foreign interest loans - even though he should of confiscated the ill-gotten property of the Egyptian Military industrial complex, and re-distributed to the poor. He could have changed the economy of cotton production (for export to Western countries) into food production for his own people. He tried to appease the Secularists by making Egypt fall well short of a Islamic State - content to apply a Islamic flavouring. But now he'll find out that the two billion dollars the USA pays to the mercenary Egyptian Generals, is not without strings. And the Egyptian Military are the real kingmakers of Egypt - and they were only waiting until the people turned against the Muslim Brotherhood, to depose them, or at least render their power negligible in a 'unity government' (composed of the pro-secular but electoral losers).

So instead of pushing towards the goal of the re-establishment of Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood were the unwitting pawns of a game designed to make Islamic movements look incompetent - pushing back the work for revival back by decades.

However, now is not the time for people to say 'I told you so' to the Gradualists, but to say 'now, will you do things a better way?'

It's time for us to liberate our 'kingmakers' - then we will be free to submit our nations to Al Malik (swt).
I found this highly relevant to what's going on in Egypt these days (especially now). May Allah Protect the people there from violence and bloodshed. May Allah Help us understand the blatant hypocrisy shown by influential people of the society we live in. And may Allah Help Guide us to the way that is straight and leads to Him. Ameen