Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Muslim’

Rahma Salie, her name means mercy. She was my first friend in college; she and her husband, Micky, and their unborn baby died on 9/11.

I met her during international students orientation. Although she has thousands of friends all over the world, when she spoke to you, it felt like you were the only person that meant something to her.

I asked our mutual friend, Naho Kamikawa, to share some memories of Rahma-

But one day stands out clearly, and it is the day and moment we all met – at the International Student’s Orientation at Slater. I remember how I ran into Rahma and I think she was already with you and Sabene when I greeted her at the brunch buffet.

A couple of days later, we visited you and Sabene at your dorm room at Bates, beautifully done in newly laid out carpet. We hung at in your room and we talked about our exciting days to come.

I also remember how she became very involved and in touch with her religion at Wellesley. I also knew her very briefly back in Tokyo too, but I think it was at Wellesley where she embraced Muslim [Islam].

Away from home for the first time during Ramadan, we would try to figure out ways to sneak food into our dorm room for Suhoor. The dining hall  had a huge freezer with 6 flavors of ice cream, we sneaking in laughing and tripping- Suhoor with mint chocolate chip icecream was delicious. Our friends, Heather volunteered to fast with us, it was the first time either one of us had to explain why we fasted to anyone, we had always just done it- We started searching for answers so we could give them to her, talking with Heather was my first step towards practicing my deen.  I remember Jum’ah with Rahma, in a small room in Chapel, getting jealous because the Hillel room was so large . Apprehensively, going to our first AlMuslimat meeting not sure if we would be accepted.

She met Micheal while she was still in college. Micky, as he was lovingly called,  was raised as a Greek Orthodox Christian accepted Islam prior to his marriage to Rahma.

The last time I saw her was on Newbury Street in Boston, where her parents now run a café. We introduced our fiancées’ to each other, giddy in each other’s happiness.  She must have been glowing and happy when she boarded that American Flight 11, she was going to attend a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles. Her baby would have now been my daughter’s age. The lesson I learned from 9/11: never take a day for granted, for life is very fragile and very short.

My pain in her loss in no less than anyone else’s in America, just because we are Muslim. Her friends still miss her and mourn her, many are gathering together this weekend at the college campus where Rahma spent 4 years of her life. 9/11 was personal to me then as it is now.

Sometimes you can not explain all the pain and suffering which man experiences as a result of evil but if you see it as preparation for the experience and attainment of joy and contentment of good.  ‘Evil is not created or valued for its own sake, rather it is created for the necessary manifestation, realization and accomplishment of good. Hence, at the cosmic plane, evil which is limited and relative in nature contributes to the realization of the total good.’

She would not want to be remembered as a victim for she was such a positive ruh (soul) . Her friends still gather from all around the world every year to celebrate her life. Family and friends add pictures to a virtual memorial. There are photos of uncles and aunts from Sri Lanka, and cousins, best friends from her childhood in Japan, roommates from college, wedding pictures, a life interrupted. Inna lil lahi wa inna ilay ho rajioon. To Allah she belonged and to Him is surely her return. Please say a dua (prayer) for my friend. She really was a genuinely amazing person. May Allah SWT grant her Jannah tul Firdaus and give sabr Kamilah (divine patience) to her parents and siblings. The constant reminder of how she died, forces them to relive her death over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Image Credit: Illustration: Nino Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

Islam puts an emphasis on the environment like no other religion. It is not a foreign concept, a tree hugging fad or something to be done after we have acquired all other knowledge about Islam; it is an integral part of our deen. The branches of knowledge are all branches of a single tree whose roots are grounded in the belief in One God. From this we get our sense of unity and balance.  A Muslim has responsibility to this earth, to its environment.  As an ummah, Muslims have ignored this part of their deen.  Our emphasis in schools, khutbahs, lectures, Islamic courses is primarily on rituals, on spiritual growth at the expense of this very practical aspect of Islam.

If we believe that everything belongs to Allah and that we are just transiting then we have to treat the earth as His amanah – a trust of which we are the guardians, the khalifahs.  Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that Allah’s Messenger said: “The world is sweet and green and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act.” (Muslim) Does this make you think? We have been placed on earth for the purpose of taking care of it.

According to Najma Mohamed, a lecturer and environmental journalist,  “Muslim environmental scholars interpret this to mean that men and women are custodians of creation and are provided with bounties to be enjoyed with limits. The interpretation of a khalifah as a vicegerent not master, trustee not tyrant is central to the environmental teachings of Islam. If a Muslim understands by trusteeship that he or she can exploit and abuse natural resources, then they fail to understand the concept khilafah. Humankind needs to carry out this role with compassion, kindness and sincerity – with justice and goodness. Our relationship with all of creation should reflect these qualities.”

Let’s reflect on this eloquent ayah from Surah Rahman:

The All-Merciful has taught the Qur’an.
He created man and He taught him the explanation.
The sun and the moon to a reckoning, and the stars and trees bow themselves;
and heaven – He raised it up and set the balance. Transgress not in the balance,
and weigh with justice, and skimp not in the balance. And earth – He set it down for all beings,
therein fruits and palm trees with sheaths, and grain in the blade, and fragrant herbs.

Which of your Lord’s favors will you then deny? (55: 1-12)

Frequently this verse is just used to deter us from cheating in business but look at the context here. Trangress not in the balance is an order from Allah the Almighty. So many ayahs of the Quran are devoted to reflecting on nature. If we cannot take care of the gardens of earth, how can we aspire to live in the garden of jannah?

“And it is He Who has made you successive (generations) in the earth. And He has raised you in ranks, some above others, so that He may try you in that which He has bestowed on you. Surely your Lord is Swift in retribution, and certainly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”  (6:165)  This ayah is the crux of our relationship with this planet and all of creation in it.  It  is another test for us.

Nothing is more destructive than a khalifah who has stopped being an abd (slave) of Allah, disobedient to his commands. Why did the angels ask Allah (ta’ala), why He is sending humans as khalifahs?  Look at our state today? We have become so caught up in the consumerism, in gratuitous consumption, that we do forget that we will be held accountable in front of Allah for all our deeds.  We look for convenience over doing what is right.  This has caused disequilibrium in the balance that Allah has created and we see the consequence is the excess in the developed world and the deprivation and hunger in other parts of Allah’s world.

But somewhere inside us we have that ability to live up to the lofty maqam of a khalifah.  Allah knows us better than we know ourselves, we just need to find that in us and live up to the personal responsibility that every one of us has.  Look at the example of Prophet Muhammad, he slept on the ground close to the earth on a bed made of palm leaves, wrapped in his shawl. He sat on the floor to eat simple, wholesome food. He repaired his shoes and urged us to wear out our clothes until they had patches on them.  According to a hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, “The worldly comforts are not for me. I am like a traveler, who takes a rest under a tree in the shade and then goes on his way.” So lets use the symbolic tree for shade, to nourish our self, but let’s also follow the sunnah and leave the symbolic tree intact so that the next traveler can use it.

Some American scholars are cognizant of our state and speak of this issue. Imam Zaid Shakir reminds us that “as Muslims we are called on to be a community of conscience, and as such we should be leading the cries urging a cessation of this madness. The Qur’an is a book of nature that alerts us to the importance of our lives being integrated into the natural world given us by God to nurture and sustain us.” Imam Ammonette says “faith has 73 branches, you live your faith, it’s your life and the lowest part of faith is removing pollutants or harmful substances, whatever will cause harm to human beings, from the path… when you clean up whatever is dangerous or unhealthy, that is faith.”

These voices are few. Responding to environmental issues in the Islamic world and teaching its rulings is the imperative of our present ulema (scholars), especially now as we can see the ubiquitous results of the destruction caused by our prevailing way of life.  All the injunctions are in the classic books of fiqh distributed across the different babs (chapters), they need be gathered and taught to the layman.

“All the produce of the earth is duly proportioned (bi-qadarin mawzun-15:19), not just in what is evident but as to their internal composition of nutrients, water, minerals, salts, etc. God blessed the earth and made it safe such that you shall not see imperfection in the creation of the Most Merciful (67:13).”   “When man acts, instead of a trusted custodian and architect of the earth, as its most dangerous destroyer, driven by greed rather than need,” then the result is havoc. We are obliged not to do injustice to the rest of creation.  These will be witnesses for or against us on the Day of Judgment.

Dr. Soumaya Pernilla Ouis, a senior lecturer at Lund University, Sweden, coined the phrase Islamic ecocosmology.  The idea is that nature in itself is Muslim; that we look around us and recognize every organism as our Muslim fellow being. That really changes the relationship, doesn’t it?  We know that everything from thunder to ants hymn the glory of Allah, all beings therein, declare His glory; there is not a thing but celebrates his praise: and yet ye understand not how they declare His glory. (17:44)

Allah asks us, do you not see that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth – the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number of mankind? (22:18) It is harder to ignore and cause destruction.

Many of the already established Islamic legal principles can be applied within the environmental field, and it is actually argued by some ecotheologicans that the environmental perspective has traditionally always been a part of Shariah. Institutions within Shariah such as harim (preserved natural environments) and hima (protected land for grazing purposes) are used for natural conservation. The five principles of protection in shariah are religion, reason, life, property and descendants, which may not include the 20th century term environment but all lead to its protection.

An addition to Islamic law includes a specific category of contemporary jurisprudence called fiqh al-bi’ah, or jurisprudence of the environment. “Law-makers take a number of the foundational concepts of Islam such as rahmah (mercy), tawazun (harmony) and shukr (gratitude) and apply them to this ethico-juridical discipline which links ecological health to the psychological health of man. Environmental degradation is seen as a sickness of the human ego because man is unable to give up short-term gratification in favor of long-term prosperity.”

If we look back at our heritage, the principles of reuse, recycle, clean energy are NOT new – “Muslim potters heated their kilns by burning fruit husks, fruit stones, pine-cones and vegetable waste. Millers ground their corn in mills turned by the wind. Both windmills and animals were used to lift water into irrigation channels.”  The industrial uses of tidemills and watermills in the Islamic world date back to the 7th century.

This may be because “traditional Islamic society, no matter how rich in spiritual and aesthetic content, was slower, and simpler in its technology. The production of the artifacts and adornments did not wreak havoc on nature or strew debris over land and sea. Means were simpler, materials natural and even crude. Exquisite ceramics emerged from raw clay and textiles of unrivaled beauty were born from hand-looms and the hand of the embroiderer. Travel, although surprisingly extensive – consider the journeys of Ibn Battuta – was on foot, on beasts of burden or by sailing boat.”

As Muslim nations are going through industrial renaissance and calls for industrialization increase, let us not make the same mistakes, importing inappropriate technology, setting up industry without studying the environmental ramifications.  We have the opportunity to inculcate Islamic injunctions into eco-concsiouness, and to be leaders protecting our  planet.

Make your deen green is a series which will include small ways that our readers can make a difference in their daily lives to make it more earth-friendly as well as global environmental issues that affect the Muslim world. Surely changing a light bulb will not change the world, but what we need is a change in attitude to our eco-lives.  If we do these acts as forms of ibadah, of obeying Allah insha’Allah we can live up to the status that He has bestowed upon us.

‘Aisha (radiAllahu anha) narrated, that the Prophet was asked: “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, “Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, 8:76:472]

PRINCIPLES INTO PRACTICE: Islamic Traditions – Ismail Peter Hobson

Environmental Care in Islam: A Qur’anic Perspective – Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Global Environmental Relations: Islamic Perspective – Dr. Soumaya Pernilla Ouis

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

I watch in horror, the beautiful Swat Valley, a treasure of unparalleled natural beauty broken by the very same nature. Bahrain, Kalam, Madyan, Mingora, vacation spots from a childhood past, beaten, drowned by the 20-foot waves in the River Swat. The terrible force of Allah(swt)’s water destroying everything in sight, crumbling homes and bridges, made of cement and bricks. The monsoon season is in swing and, as it continues to rain, every river from the north down to the southern part of Pakistan has swollen and inundated its surroundings. So far 20 million people are affected by disease and displacement, entire villages (650,000 homes) destroyed.  The United Nations is calling this a worse disaster than the tsunami, the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake… all put together! These are not just statistics; these are people, our brothers and sisters.

Rain can be a mercy or a test from Allah(swt)  – they are surrounded by water yet they do not have a drop to drink. Inna lillahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’oon. Truly to Allah do we belong and to Him we shall return!

We hear so much bad news, courtesy of 24-hour news channels, that our hearts have become hard. We say a quick dua or shed a few tears and sometimes send in some money. As I sit here in my brother-in-law’s luxury condo overlooking the serene Potomac River in Washington D.C., do I even deserve to comment on these people’s suffering?  To be there and actually deliver bread and tents or shelter a family, to risk my life to rescue a human in the land of my birth, would I be worthy then? I want to be there, yet I feel so inadequate.

Besides clutching our own brood of kids, showing them pictures of the tragedy helpless children are suffering a few days before the merciful month of Ramadan, so they can learn to look beyond their own wants, what else can we do? As we get ready to fast, we can remember these people have not eaten for days. As we take our babies to the doctors, lets remember the water-borne diseases their babies may suffer. As we stock up our freezers from the Halal store and our overstuffed pantries from Costco, lets remember the true spirit of Ramadan and give as much as we can.  Maybe this is Allah’s way of reminding us that we are NOT giving enough in Sadaqah.

Give to fill his empty pots

In a Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A man has sinned enough if he neglects to feed those in need.” (Related by Muslim and Abu Dawud)

Ya Rabbi, the advent of your blessed month is here, please remove the sufferings of our Pakistani brothers and sisters. O Allah, nothing is beyond your power. O Allah, send upon them helpful, wholesome and healthy rain, beneficial not harmful rain. Ameen!

We are more in need of the reward of our sadaqat that the flood victims are in need of our donations.

Having lived in New Orleans and seeing that beautiful city wrecked by Katrina and still trying to rebuild itself despite being in the wealthiest of nations, I wonder how Pakistan will survive this flood?  This clip was so heart-wrenching but reinforced the belief of a Muslim– the good brother says standing waist deep in water “by the grace of God we will reconstruct everything, we have courage to face this situation, we are Pakistani… we live here, we will face every problem inshaAllah”.  Alhamdulillah fi kulli haal. Lets help them rebuild.

Join Muslim Matters Fundraiser for trusted organizations to donate to.

Read Full Post »

  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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »