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Your hope in my heart is the rarest treasure
Your Name on my tongue is the sweetest word
My choicest hours
Are the hours I spend with You —
O Allah, I can’t live in this world
Without remembering You–
How can I endure the next world
Without seeing Your face?
I am a stranger in Your country
And lonely among Your worshippers:
This is the substance of my complaint.

Rabia Basriya

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My sister Umme Maryam translated and transcribed this lecture by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed (db) from Urdu- I have condensed it for readability.

It is written in the Maktoobat of Imam Rabbani Mujaddid Alf Thani that the night of 15th Shabaan is the budget night of the Islamic calendar year.  A simple example is that every nation prepares a budget for the upcoming year, a sort of “to-do list” which determines what tasks need to be undertaken.  Once prepared, the (national) organizations work according to the outlined policies.

Allah’s system is similar, a to-do list is prepared in which all  the tasks to be undertaken in the upcoming year are finalized.  The children to be born, the individuals written to die, the sustenance (rizq) one gets, the accidents, the diseases, the honors bestowed, the humiliations destined.  All the activities of the next year are drawn up.

That is why the Holy Prophet said, “I prefer to be in a state of fasting the day the next year’s list of dead is drawn. “ We do not know whose name will be in that list. No one knows when one will die.

If we ponder, all the problems facing human beings are related to this (list of) sustenance in one way or the other.  A woman is unable to bear children, a man cannot get married (his attaining a wife is also related to rizq), a person is unsuccessful in getting a job, getting a job is included in rizq.  So if you look closely, the majority of our problems are sustenance-related. i.e. somewhere, a daughter does not get a proposal, a wife does not get her husband’s love, a husband does not get his wife’s loyalty.  Someone’s business fails, another is crushed under debt, one works tough hours but cannot pay for his children’s education.

Since the majority of our problems are related to rizq, and this is the special time the list of rizq allocation is being prepared, then it makes sense that this is the time one should beseech Allah the most.

15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan- Time to Ask

When this list starts being prepared, Allah grants a special mercy to the people, He gives the people a true chance and a lengthy time to ask.   This time extends from 15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan.  The decisions are finalized on the 27th of Ramadan and then the list is forwarded to the angels for execution.  In other words, had the Lord wanted, then the decision would have been made in one night alone and the deed would be done. But no, the slaves are granted a chance to ask for a longer time.  Ask for shifa for diseases, protection from difficulties; ask whatever you may, the doors of Allah’s treasures are open.

That is why Ramadan is such an important month.  It is a month of blessings and mercy.  Allah says,

‘O My slaves, remain hungry and thirsty, you will get reward, you heart will attain Nur, divert your attention to Me, ask Me, and I will give you.’

Because Allah wants to forgive his slaves, He gives us more than a month to ask. So instead of being pushed around by and spreading our hands in front of the created, why not ask the Creator?  He wants to Give, then why not ask the One who loves to Give. Ajeeb, Allah is happy when He gives and man is happy when he gets.  Ask Allah.

That is why the days and nights of Ramadan are very important. We should not pass them in negligence.  We should ask. We have time until Ramadan 27. The more we ask, the better Allah will destine for us. This is the time to ask, to be Mutawajih illallah (attentive towards Allah).

Another Ajeeb bounty of Allah is that He has informed us; the faster’s dua is accepted by Allah at Iftar time. So, present your needs haajah in front of Allah and ask for Allah’s mercy.

Kullu yaumin wa laylatin daawatun mustajaabah.
Ramzan sharif ke har din aur har raat mein usski dua qubul hoti hai.
A person’s dua is accepted in every night and day of Ramadan.

Preview Of the Coming Year

How one spends Ramadan, that is how the coming year will be spent.  For example, if one is not regular in praying tahajjud, and he strives to pray Tahajjud all of Ramadan, then you will witness that it will become easy for him to pray tahajjud in the upcoming year.  If a man who cannot protect his gaze (from looking at non-mahram women),  strives to protect it completely during Ramadan, then the next year he will be cured of this disease. So those individuals who say we cannot do muraqabah, dhikr or tasbeehat regularly should try to do it in Ramadan

Be particular for one month, and you will see the rest of the 11 months you will receive help from Allah.  Therefore, we have to create the specimen, and Allah will give us the ability, the tawfiq (to do that particular kind of ibadah) for the rest of the 11 months according to that specimen.  We never asked the tawfiq for tahajjud, we never asked protection from falsehood, takabbur (arrogance), hasad (jealousy), and keenah (malice). Swhy complain?  That is why we should spend Ramadan the way we want to spend the rest of our lives.  Make a schedule.

Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalvi did not speak to anyone unnecessarily during Ramadan.  Once his friend said to him, Ramadan comes to us as well but it does not come like a fever like it has come upon you. In reality, Ramadan should come upon one like a fever so you are gripped in the fever.

If we do not protect ourselves from lying, backbiting, unnecessary gazing in the month of Ramadan, then how do we expect to protect ourselves during the rest of the year?

Can’t Blame The Devil

We find proof in hadith that before Ramadan, Jibrail (AS) comes down and handcuffs the (major) devils (shayateen,) so that they may not ruin the fasts of the ummah of the Holy Prophet .

Now if the big devils are chained, then why does one still commit sins in Ramadan?  There are two answers to this:  Either the little devils are enough to entice a person to sin, to seduce, to cause him to slip, so the person doesn’t need the big devils to commit sins as the small ones are enough.

Or, other ulema say, that just like a piece of iron is still hot when taken out of the furnace (it remains severely hot you cannot touch it for a good half hour), similarly, the nafs (self/ego/soul) which was soldering in the furnace of sins all year long, even when removed from the furnace of sins in the month of Ramadan, will still emanate the heat of the sins it committed.  The ones who are drowned in sins all year long will feel the evil of the nafs in Ramadan.

The sins committed in the month of Ramadan are not due to major shayateen, but due to the human nafs itself.  Thus, (Ramadan) is a ‘litmus test’ of our spiritual diseases.  Whoever wants to check his spirituality, then do this easy test in Ramadan.  If your spirituality is sound, you will remain protected from sins in Ramadan. And if your spirituality is unsound, then you will commit sins in Ramadan just like you used to commit outside of Ramadan.  This is because the soul is weak.  The sins of Ramadan are very harmful, because they are due to the mischief and evil of the nafs. You can’t blame the devil.

There are so many blessings of Ramadan that if one pays even a little bit of attention, the Lord forgives.  Nabi mentioned a tribe at the outskirts of Madina, Bani Kalb, which was renowned for their possession of sheep.  Each family of the tribe had hundreds of sheep, so much that when the sheep came out for grazing they used to fill a huge valley between two mountains.   Nabi said that during each night of Ramadan, the amount of dwellers of Hell, equivalent to the hair on the sheep of Bani Kalb, are freed from the hellfire. Now if the sheep used to fill a whole valley, imagine how much hair (wool) would the sheep have?

When the River of Mercy is flowing, then isn’t the one who does not reap its benefits (by seeking forgiveness) the most unfortunate?  See, the love a mother has for her child is so deep that if someone curses her child, she leaps like a lioness to defend him.  ‘Who are you to curse him?’ she will exclaim unable to stand the abuse.  Thus, love does not allow one to say even one word.  But when a mother’s heart is hopeless, pained, broken by her own child, then even if someone curses him she says Ameen.  The same situation is described in the following hadith.

Jibrail (AS) came and made dua. “May the one who finds the month of Ramadan and does not get himself forgiven be destroyed.”  And when the Holy Prophet heard this, he said Ameen.  So this means the one who does not spend the time of Ramadan in worship pains the heart of the Holy Prophet .  How can one be heedless in this month of mercy?

Ramadan to Hajj- An award ceremony

Allah’s slaves worship and pray during this time.  The tradition is every worker gets compensated for the work he performs.  And when someone does some unique work, he gets recognized by special honors.  Some get awarded medals, some get Presidential honors etc.  Allah’s tradition is that he rewards his slaves for their ibadah in Ramadan by calling him to His house after Ramadan.  Hajj is, in essence, a convocation, an award ceremony of sorts for the work performed in Ramadan. Worldwide, whoever spends Ramadan enjoyably, Allah calls him to His house to distribute rewards.

Our Shuyookh say, Ramadan is the month of work and Zulhijja is the month of reward.  Allah gives a period of two months in between (the work and reward).  This is because if Hajj was on 1st of Shawwal how would people be able to reach His house from the world over?  They are humans. Preparations have to be made; some travel by air, car, some by boat, and some by foot.

Ya’teena min kulli fajjin ameeq.They will come to Us from deep and distant highways.

His slaves needed time, so Allah gave them time to travel in Shawwal and Zulqaddah to reach His house.  From the 1st Zulhajj, Layalin ashr (the ten Holy Nights) start. These nights are so wondrous that Allah has sworn by them in the Holy Quran,

Wal Fajr. Wa Layaalin Ashr.By the dawn. And by the 10 nights.

Allah is so happy that all His admirers of the world are sitting in His house just like the hosts of a wedding function are so happy when all the guests arrive.    That is why He swears by those ten days.

Just think, Hajj is not about praying salah.  You do not go to Hajj and pray two rakat salah to complete Hajj, because the main purpose of Hajj is not performing salah. Hajj is whoever reaches the grounds of Arafat on the 9th Zilhajj between Zuhr (noon prayer) until Maghrib (sunset).   This is rukn e azam (the greatest obligation) of Hajj.  If salah was a requisite for Hajj, then everyone would be in need of wudhu; and weak people like us would be running to do ablution.  And the many women who traveled from so far would come and be unable to pray salah (due to menstruation).  Allah is so merciful.  Even if a sick or unconscious person reaches Arafah, then his wuquf (stay) is complete.

Hence Nabi mentioned, I never saw shaytan so humiliated as I did on the Day of Arafah.  The only other day he was as humiliated was on the Day of Badr.  He screams, shouts, and pours dust over his head, “My effort of years has been wasted!”

And Allah forgives His slaves.  Not only the ones who reach Hajj are forgiven., look at how Nabi favored his ummah in this amazing dua.  

‘Oh Allah, forgive the pilgrim (Haaji), and forgive the one the haaji prays for.’

This dua shades the duas of pilgrims until Qiyamah.  Allah forgives the pilgrims as well as the one the pilgrim prays for.   If we were to depend on our duas alone, our false tongues would take us nowhere. But now, our duas are shaded by this great dua of the Holy Prophet himself.  Our duas get accepted.

When Allah’s guests arrive at Arafah, Allah bestows them with an unusual honor.  He says, ‘Ask whatever you want, I will give according to your wish! ‘  He gives the choice to His slaves.

After Arafah, our Lord calls us to Mina for a few days.  He wants us to express freedom from our two enemies: Nafs and Shaytan.  First, we sacrifice an animal (Qurbani) and symbolically pass a knife over our ego.  Second, we throw stones at Shaytan to express our hatred towards him (Rami).  The reward for throwing stones at Shaytan yields great rewards.  The jurists write, a pilgrim throws a total of 70 stones at shaytan during his Hajj.  Every stone expiates such a major sin that if that sin were not forgiven, it most definitely would have dragged that person into hellfire.  So 70 kabirah (major) sins are forgiven after Rami.  Subhanallah!

Then the slave says, ‘Oh, Allah we have expressed freedom from shaytan, and have sacrificed an animal – we have slit our desires with a knife’. Now Allah says, “You are mine! Now come to My House!”  Now is the time of meeting and visitation (deedar and mulaqat).  Because of this reason, this tawaf is also named Tawaf e Ziarah (The Circumambulation of Visit).

So, this Tawaf e Ziayarah is reward of Ramadan.  Then after Tawaf e Ziyarah, live there as many days you wish, do Tawaf e Wida (Farewell Circumambulation) and return to your homes.  Subhanallah!  Ramadan is the month of effort and Zulhijjah is the month of reward.

Don’t Waste Ramadan

This was the reason that Allah’s Habeeb used to wait for Ramadan and make dua two months before it came.

Allahumma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’baan wa ballighna Ramadan.
Oh Allah bless us in Rajab and Shaban  and make us reach Ramadan.

He knew the importance of this month that is why he made dua two months before it came.  We need to strive in Ramadan.  It is one month.  How hard is it to leave sins for one month?  When our salaf (pious predecessors) wanted to extoll the virtue of a person, they used to coin it this way, ‘He has passed 45 Ramadans of his life.’  The witnessing of a Ramadan was considered a standard of nobility and savance i.e He has passed 45 Ramadans therefore he has had so much time for worship.

That is why for six months our elders made dua for Ramadan to come.  And after Ramadan, for six months they made dua for their Ramadan to be accepted.  All year round, duas for Ramadan were made.

There are no words to describe the blessings of Ramadan. Hazrat Ali (RA) used to say, “Allah does not want to punish the ummah of His Habib Rasoolullah ”.  When someone asked, what is the daleel? He answered, “Had Allah wanted to punish the ummah of Rasoolullah , He would not have gifted Ramadan to them.”

The purpose of gifting Ramadan is that no one remains unforgiven, everybody may be forgiven.

Ulema write that Yusuf (AS) had 11 brothers .

Ahada ashara kawkabaEleven stars…

.. and the 12th was Yusuf (AS).  So they were 12 in total.  Eleven committed a mistake but were forgiven due to the twelfth one.  So Ramadan is like Yusuf (AS).  If the ones who commit sins for 11 months, spend Ramadan the correct way, then Allah will forgive the sins of those 11 months due to this holy month of Ramadan.

May Allah grant us the tawfiq to value this time. Let’s prepare now.  Preparing for Ramadan is not merely buying grocery and foodstuffs and arranging for delicious meals and drinks.  This is a need. Need is separate from purpose.  True preparation is to leave sins now, do taubah now, and get busy in ibadat (worship), nafl (involuntary prayers), zikr (remembrance), tasbeeh, tilawat (recitation), start this routine now!  We still have a few days left.

Imam Mujaddid Alf Thani gives an example, that when day breaks, then 11/2 to 2 hours before sunrise is called subah sadiq (true morning).  The day breaks in the black darkness of the night.  And the morning light starts emanating and increasing until 15 minutes before sunrise it is as bright as it is after the sun rises.  Experience tells us that if a person wakes up late for Fajr, he looks up at the sky 15 min before sunrise and assumes that his salah has become qaza.  But when he looks at the chart, he realizes he still has ten minutes to pray Fajr.  However the light is so bright it seems the sun has risen.

What this means is that the subh sadiq of barakah starts on the the 15th of Shabaan and each day the nur increases until the 29th of Ramadan the anwarat are as much as they would be in Ramadan.  That is why in these days, even a layman wishes to do more good deeds.  And the sahib e batin (those bestowed with the inner eye) see mercies being showered from the sky like rain.

Value this ni’mah. Ask Allah. Our Rabb has given us the chance to be forgiven.

May Allah forgive us and include us in those people.  Ameen

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Game Over- we win?

By Zaid Shakir

The current uprising in Egypt, coming in the aftermath of the popular revolution in Tunisia, is a monumental event that is altering all of the political calculations currently governing how we think about Middle Eastern politics. The emerging popular movements in the region have led to a swift reshuffling of the mental furniture governing the way Tunisians, Egyptians, and likely other people in the region see themselves and their relationship to those who have been ruling them with repression, fear and intimidation. The new thinking shows that the people are no longer afraid of their rulers and their dreaded security apparatuses. Now that that reshuffling has occurred, as one of the most popular Tunisian protest posters declared, “Game Over.” No matter what happens in Egypt going forward, the old game is indeed over.

Middle Easterners are not the only ones whose mental furniture needs reshuffling. Here in the United States, we need to begin to critically assess our silence in the face of the atrocities we support, or knowingly turn a blind eye to. Our officials know that the money we have been pumping into the Mubarak regime for the past 30 years has done nothing to improve the lot of the average Egyptian. Rather, it was being used to strengthen the Egyptian military and the internal “security” forces, which is a euphemism for the forces of torture and political repression. For example, the State Department’s 2008 Human Rights Report for Egypt mentions:

Police and the SSIS reportedly employed torture methods such as stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending victims by the wrists and ankles in contorted positions or from a ceiling or door-frame with feet just touching the floor; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electric shocks; dousing victims with cold water; and sexual abuse, including sodomy. Victims reported that security officials threatened them and forced them to sign statements for use against themselves or their families should they in the future lodge complaints about the torture. Some victims, including women and children, reported that security officials sexually assaulted or threatened to rape them or their family members. Human rights groups reported that the lack of legally required written police records often effectively blocked investigations.

What is mentioned in this report is the tip of the iceberg concerning the abuses that every Egyptian knows of. The dehumanizing horrors occurring in the “Zinzana” are not well-kept secrets. However, what did the United States do about these atrocities after documenting them? We did the same thing we did about the rigged elections that kept falsely affirming Mubarak and his gerontocracy in power. We did the same thing we did in the face of the grinding poverty of the country, only accentuated by the regime’s enthusiasm to accept neoliberal economic policies that only funneled money from the impoverished masses and into the clutches of the wealthy elite managing their society on behalf of their western sponsors. Namely, nothing. In the name of our war against terror, in the name of our security interests, in the name of our economic interests we did nothing.

It is time for Americans to acknowledge that when we prioritize our interests in foreign lands over the interests of the citizens of those lands, in many instances, those citizens are starved, politically disenfranchised, tortured and sometimes killed. We have to realize that this is not only true in the Middle East, it is just as true in the Congo, Haiti and elsewhere.

Tunisians and now Egyptians have bravely stood up and challenged the hypocrisy, brutality and illegitimacy of their rulers. It is blatant hypocrisy for America to pontificate about the need for peaceful political reform in the Middle East and then support the violent repression of peaceful reformers or circumvent internal reform all together by imposing political change through the gun-barrel of an M1 Abrams tank. It is time that the people of this country stand up and challenge that hypocrisy. The masses in Tunisia and Egypt should be a source of courage and inspiration for us in this regard.

The popular movements emerging in the Middle East are giving birth to watershed events that may well redefine the political map of the region for the next century. We should work to make sure that the vision and hope they embody are not confined to the Middle East. Now is the time for us to express our solidarity with the people of Egypt and elsewhere as they struggle to carve out a dignified existence for themselves and their progeny. If we do so with courage, conviction, vision and principle we may all live to see a day when the old game will be over everywhere. If that happens, we will all be the winners.

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Technology is a double edged sword: it can bring you closer to Allah or take you away from Allah, it can be used for haram or halal. Without running after the latest gadgets or wanting just because my neighbor has one, if we kept our needs in mind and use it as tools to help us practice our deen, then it is Allah’s (SWT) blessing otherwise a fitnah. I wanted to share my favorite apps and technologies and how they help me be a better Muslim, InshaAllah.

My Macbook Pro – This was an Eid gift from my husband last year, it was better gift than any piece of jewelry. After getting it I started blogging and have I have found a piece of me that was lost somewhere between the kids and the dishes. May Allah (SWT) grant him Jannah; it’s portability has freed me from sitting at the desktop and I can write anywhere.  It syncs with my phone. My calender is right there so I am better organized, Alhamdulillah.

iTunes– Nasheeds , Quran, lectures. If my kids need to learn the month of Islam nasheed, I download it or when the latest Bayinnah podcast is ready , I can upload it on my iPhone, hook it up to my car stereo and have Sheikh Nouman on surround sound during our long drives in LA traffic.

iPhone Apps

  • iSubha – this app helps you keep count of your misbaha/tasbeeh. You can set the time and it keeps someone slightly ADD like me, on track.  There is a selection of azkaar and you tap the screen to keep count.  For example, if you know you have goal that you want to read at least 365 azkaar a day or as many as you can in an hour with this you can keep a visual count.

  • iQuran app- Quran and translation at your fingertips anywhere, whether you are in a waiting room at the doctor’s office or between meetings.

  • Asma-ul-Husna 1.0- learning the 100 names of Allah on the go- there are checkpoints so you can check yourself. My kids and I are competing who can learn all 100 first.

  • iPray-gives you salah timings on your phone (we are humans, we forget so if we have the technology to  help us, why not use it). The adhaan reminds you to pray lest shaytan makes you forget.

  • Qiblah compass pro- my husband uses this all the time as he travels a lot for work.

Online school– this has opened a whole new world for me,. I was so scared when I made the decision to home school my eldest daughter.  Their system is keeping me organized with her attendance & grades. Daily and weekly planning is done for me. It has simplified the process and the curriculum is state of the art.  Without the hassle of ordering books,  devising a curriculum, I can spend time actually teaching her.   When I can not explain something to her I use Khan Academy– This brother attended college with my husband; his goal is to provide a world-class education to people anywhere in the world. He posts short, simple videos on mostly math and sciences explained on an electronic blackboard. A great tutoring or homeschooling tool for kids and adults.  There are several online Islamic courses that you can take over the net along with fabulous websites like Halaltube- Lectures, duroos from scholars on my laptop, TV screen, need I say more.

Skype–  I love Skype. My mother sits across the world on her dining table and I sit on mine. She has her morning chai in her hand and I have my cup of evening tea. It is the closest thing to being next to each other. I can be a better daughter inquiring about her health, it makes her happy to see my face.  She shows me her new curtains and I show her the kid’s awards.

My niece and my daughter live many continents away. These best friends and milk-sisters have a  book club on skype, they read the same book and then have discussions about them.  The last one they read was Fudgemania. It keeps them close despite the distance.Using Skype, we broadcast my sister in law’s Nikaah to her grandma in Saudi and her aunt in Karachi simultaneously.

Our friends are moving and their kids are super excited about Face Time, Apple’s video conferencing tool on the new iTouch- so they can keep in touch with their friends where ever they move in the world. With distances and relative and friends all over the globe, technologies like these help keep the ties of the womb & kinship, as long as you keep the right niyyah and don’t let it overtake your life.

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As a Muslim mom of two sons who will grow up in the U.S., one of my greatest fears is radicalism. What if I am taking them to the masjid to learn how to get closer to Allah (SWT) and somewhere along the way they are exposed to extremist ideology through internet radicals or overzealous ‘ticket to heaven’ freaks, or agent provocateurs. My sons are toddlers but this is a bleak reality faced by mothers of our youth; the horror of finding your own son involved in this craziness. But the answer isn’t to keep your sons away from masjids as some moms do but to communicate with them and teach them what Allah allows us to do in His name and what He absolutely abhors. We are so pleased that they are turning away from haram and towards deen that we stop reaching out to them, guiding them.

I am also a youth group leader and every time some young man falls prey to FBI baiting and decides to take other people’s lives, I feel the need to talk to the boys and remind them to be careful, to talk to a trusted adult if someone approaches them and talks about overseas contacts and other shady stuff. Many people just blame the FBI, but our Muslim youth have to take responsibility for their own actions too. That finger on a remote is yours and you will be accountable for what you have done.  Imam Zaid gives us some very direct words of wisdom that are loaded with common sense. Use them, talk to the youth in your community, repost this on your blog, you don’t know whose life you may save. (He is definitely a straight-shooter.)

Letter to a Would-be Mujahid

Recent developments have forced me to put some things on hold to write you this letter.  You might ask how I know you. I have met you at student events, in mosques, and at conferences. I have listened to your arguments and I have made my counter arguments. Oftentimes, my arguments have been somewhat formal. I figured I would write you a letter, since that is a lot more personal and less formal. Perhaps this way you will be more inclined to listen.
To begin with, whenever you are criticized for your bloody, anarchistic ideology, you point to the bloody abuses of the American war machine or their Zionist accomplices. This diversionary tactic on your part does not impress serious and thoughtful people. It is simply an abdication of your moral responsibility. It is as if you are saying you reserve the right to violate established Islamic principles, such as those guaranteeing the protection of innocent life, because the American military or the IDF do no respect innocent Muslim life. That would be a credible argument if the American military or the IDF claimed to be operating on the basis of Islamic principles. They don’t, but you do. I hope, without further elaboration, you can immediately sense the moral dilemma you are creating for yourself.
Along those lines, please allow me to remind you of something else. Your misguided attempts to kill and maim innocent Americans only make it easier for the American military to kill more Muslims with greater impunity. Your actions help to create a political climate that removes any moral restraint from the actions of the American military, the IDF and soon the forces of India’s increasingly Hindu nationalist armed forces. You see, fear is a very potent emotion and when it is carefully manipulated it can lead to very irrational politics. That most extreme form of those politics is called genocide.
Fear can be especially dangerous when it is combined with another emotion, insecurity. You are so divorced from reality that you probably haven’t noticed that a lot of Americans are extremely insecure right now. Especially, the white middle class or what is left of it. They don’t know if they will soon lose their homes, if they will have a job tomorrow, if their money will be in the bank next week, if they will be able to send their children to college or if their retirement funds will be stolen or totally devalued. Those insecurities combined with the spectre of the “Muslim terrorist next door” are a lethal combination that a group of people called demagogues is exploiting to justify an all out war on Muslims.
Those demagogues use the fear of you to prevent people from building the kind of grassroots, popular, movements that are necessary to challenge the corporate rape of our society and from challenging the destructive logic of permanent war. For example, remember the growing movement to challenge the new invasive TSA screening procedures at airports? Did you notice how it disappeared after the would-be mujahid in Portland allowed himself to be trapped into the scheme to blow up the Christmas tree ceremony? Do you think the timing was accidental? It is a shame that you and your ilk are so mindlessly complicit in such schemes.
Now you think the mujahideen can win an all out war against the Americans. Look at what the mujahideen are doing to them in Afghanistan. Sorry, but Afghanistan is not what all out war looks like. I’ll give you a clue what all out war looks like. Remember a couple years ago when the Israelis were bombarding the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Muslims, for all of their courage, couldn’t do anything except appeal to outside powers to stop the carnage? Or a few years before that when Jenin was flattened? Think of the scale of that devastation expanded to encompass all of the major cities of the Muslim world. Imagine America unleashing a new generation of “tactical” nuclear weapons being designed to be used specifically against Muslims targets raining down on Muslim capitals and there is no Muslim strategic deterrent available to stop it. AK-47s and RPGs will be of no avail. Imagine the calls to human rights organizations to stop the slaughter finding no ears to hear them because the neo-fascist forces your stupidity has helped to unleash have swept those organizations away in its maddening torrent.
I have heard you counter that such an argument is a manifestation of a lack of faith. God has promised the believers victory. Indeed, He has. However, it is very pretentious of you to assume that someone who murders women, children and innocents with blazon impunity in the Name of God are the believers that victory has been promised to. He has promised the believers victory, but that promise is not unconditional. God is not going to give victory to people who murder in His Holy Name.
I applaud your courage, but how it manifests itself puzzles me. You have the courage to fly halfway around to world to engage in an armed struggle, but you do not have the courage to knock on your neighbor’s door to explain Islam to him or to give him your take on world affairs. I am also baffled at how you can smile in his face, but are ready to blow him up if he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What calculus do you use to assume he would not be amenable to your message? What has he done to you to be the target of your bloodlust?
You claim a refined understanding of Islam, so refined that you can make grave decisions concerning life and death, decisions with huge strategic implications –yet you seem to perceive nothing of the divine wisdom of your being in this country. You have an opportunity to be an educator at a time people are looking for a new way. You have an opportunity to be a guide at a time people are looking for a new direction. You have an opportunity to provide a source of spiritual solace at a time people are confused, angry and afraid. You have an opportunity to be a fierce advocate for truth at a time when lies are transforming the image of your religion and the direction of your country. You have the skills, the command of the language, the knowledge of the people to do all of that and more, but you choose to run away from this battle to join one you do not even know who the commander is.
Did I say that? “To join a battle you do not even know who the commander is.” No! I didn’t say that. Do you think that if the FBI can send fake mujahids into mosques all around America to find confused, vulnerable Muslims, develop fake bomb plots, with fake bombs, for very real political objectives, the CIA couldn’t do the same thing abroad? No, wait a minute. Didn’t the CIA build the Afghan mujahideen network? Didn’t what’s his name, Zbigniew Brzezinski, describe the Afghan operation as the CIA’s finest hour?
They would never use fake mujahids, operating through fake websites, to recruit confused and desperate Muslim youth to engage in operations that keep the climate of fear alive, would they? They wouldn’t do that to keep support for bloodsucking, treasury-draining wars alive at a time when there is no money for the poor, the elderly, health-care, education, infrastructure or investment in the green economy. No! It’s preposterous. Those would be psychological operations (psych ops) and that would be cheating. America never cheats, we’re the good guys!
I apologize, I’m tripping. On a serious note, I hope you don’t one day end up feeling as stupid and abused as young Antonio Martinez or Mahomed Osman Mohamud, the Somali kid in Oregon, are probably feeling right now. They have been tricked, deceived, used, and abused by fake mujahids and then thrown in a dungeon to rot for the rest of their lives. Do you think your fate will be any different? Don’t be a fool.
Sincerely,

Imam Zaid Shakir

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This year Ramadan coincides with the first day of school for many families. Realizing that many of our Muslim brothers and sisters do choose the public school system for their kids’ education, this is a resource to help make the best out of Ramadan in public school. This blessed month is such a vital part of being Muslim that enjoying it and sharing it with others, instead of hiding it, goes a long way in maintaining Muslim children’s Islamic identity while attending public school. After the will of Allah, it begins with parental involvement in the lives of their children. You owe it to them.

Elementary School

Send in a letter or email to the school principal and the classroom teacher introducing your family and informing them about Ramadan. This sample letter to your child’s principal includes an offer to come into class and do a presentation on Ramadan.  You can correlate it to the phases of the moon in science especially for first and third graders as it is a part of the curriculum. One year, we did the phases of the moon craft and asked the kids to watch out for the waxing and waning of the moon throughout the month.

To preempt any misunderstanding, meet with the teacher and/or principal and show her your material. For example, the Adam’s World Ramadan DVD is a great resource, so I asked the classroom teacher to preview it beacuse she is more familiar with the school disctrict’s rules; she chose to show the second stanza onwards of thenasheed “We scanned the sky” by Dawud Wharnsby Ali – it was such a hit!! The kids kept asking her to replay it over and over again.

There are several great books on the subject that are perfect for sharing during story-time.

My First Ramadan by Karen Katz – this little book is perfect for preschoolers – 2nd graders and makes a great gift for the class library.  You can mix in a nasheed. It was amazing watching my daughter’s preschool class holding hands in a circle singing along to the chorus of ‘These are the days of Eid.”

Hamza’s First Fast by Asna Chaudhry – I read this book to my daughter’s third grade class, which led to a great discussion where kids of all different faiths talked about how their parents fast too. “Oooh, my mom fasts too, on Lent! Mine fasts to lose weight! We do it too on Yom Kippur” The kids gushed after I finished my presentation. My daughter loved being the center of attention and the discussion was alive for days.

The Three Muslim Festivals is a beautifully illustrated book that has stories of Muslim kids celebrating Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha in a western country. It is a must-have for every Muslim kids’ library, and to educate others, gift it to your school library.

Print out some Ramadan activities for your kid’s classmates to color or crafts that they can make.

Send in Eid gifts – its great dawah. It’s the beginning of the school year; it will break the ice and help your child feel special. Alhamdulillah, the children in our elementary school look forward to being in my kid’s classroom and remember that Zahrah doesn’t celebrate Christmas. They don’t have to be elaborate; pencils, dollar-store toys, chapsticks, ahandmade rendering of their names in Arabic, etc. Attach a tag that says Eid Saeed/Happy Eid.

If your school has a newsletter and the administration wishes the students on their religious holidays then do ask for Muslim holdays to be acknowledged as well.  This little note started the beautiful tradition of wishing Muslim students Happy Eid in our elementary school.

For Middle/Junior High and High School Kids-

Fasting is fardh for most Muslim youth this age. A letter should be sent to the principal, homeroom teacher and especially the P.E. teacher. In this letter, explain your child’s physical and spiritual needs. This sample letter for high school can be adjusted to fit your family.With so many Muslim kids participating in team sports, coachs have to be included in this conversation. They are often concerned out of care and liability issues but a friendly letter or talk can ease their worries.

If your son wants to  follow the example of Muslim atheletes i.e. Hakeem Olajuwon and Husain Abdullah and man up to attending P.E.class, then let them. It is hard being the only guy in class sitting on the sidelines. (My maternal instinct says no way in this 102 degree weather, but  I give this advice based on talks with Muslim teens).

Make sure you make them get up for suhoor – if they are in the pratice of getting up for fajr this should be easy if not, use these tips for waking them up. Have them eat a healthy breakfast, say yes to the smoothies, multi-grain pancakes, oatmeal, and eggs their way. This is not the time to insist on a traditional meal from the home country. Keep them hydrated through the night with a water bottle designated just for your teen at their bedside.

Don’t go back to sleep after fajr – this is a great oppurtunity for family time. Read Quran together. It is one thing to tell your kids “Go read Quran” and quite another to read Quran to each other. They can also study at this time and do homework as well. This frees up the afternoons for dhikr, helping around the house, reading Quran and napping so your teenager is fresh for taraweeh.

Empower your children with information. When they are younger role-play with them so if friends ask them why they are fasting or if they are made fun of, they have some standard answers to give. For high school kids, have honest discussions about Ramadan, its virtues and its spiritual aspects; listen to or watch a lecture together.  They want their whys answered – so talk to them about the psychological aspects, about reflecting on their lives, about cleansing their spirit, about using this time to set up good habits for the rest of the  year.

Ask you teen to go to the library during lunch time or help out a teacher in class. Staying away from the cafeteria helps makes fasting easier.

Urge them to have a good attitude – “If you complain and say I am hungry – that’s just not good dawah and frankly people don’t care or will urge you to eat.” Listening and sharing other Muslim youths’ stories on how they handle Ramadan in school can spark great dialogue between teens, their parents and siblings.

Read the rest here

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  1. Wake up for Suhoor. Have a healthy breakfast.
  2. Keep moving- it creates oxygen in your blood and keeps you energetic. Do not sleep the whole day. If you exercise regularly- go for a thirty minute walk (make dhikr)
  3. At iftaar time eat no more than you can fit on a saucer
  4. Keep yourself hydrated- drink 2-3 liter of water
  5. After taraweeh go to sleep.

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