Dear Lord….

18 Aug

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By Nazreen Fazal

Dear Lord
Small things point me to you.

A frail leaf floating down
swaying sideways
gently
settling down
And you tell me
that you know of each
such falling leaf
and more.

A silent breeze
with soft hands
smoothing my face
Easing in a smile
And you tell me
you send these 
peace scented gusts
just for us.

A young mother
embracing her child
holding him to her heart
whispering a lullaby
into small ears
till signs of slumber
make way into the tiny face
And you tell me
You love me even more

You let the small things
put the big things in place
A solved jigsaw puzzle
in space
You make the lock
and toss us the key.

You see us drown
and throw in the rope
You know we sin
and yet you forgive
Again and again
And Again
till the last breath.

And for that, 
I am a little more grateful
Each day.

RUMI AND SUFISM: Examining Islam’s Spiritual Science in the Modern Age

16 Apr

Originally posted on GOATMILK: An intellectual playground edited by Wajahat Ali:

Wajahat Ali

ART BY LISA DIETRICH:  www.lisadietrich.com

Rumi, the best selling poet in America today, was a practicing Muslim and a Sufi master who lived nearly eight hundred years ago. His poetry and lyrical verses exalting his desire for the Divine, as well as describing his ecstatic pain and yearning for his “beloved,” continue to inspire lovers to this day. Due to mass commercialization and weak translations of Rumi’s poetry, Sufism has unfortunately become synonymous with a saccharine, Hallmark card, Deepak Chopra’d simplification of Islam’s most profound spiritual science. Even within the global Muslim community, significant controversies and acrimonious debates have arisen around the validity of Sufism within the theological framework of the religion. Many, such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the most prolific and well known Muslim American scholars, argue that Sufism represents the spiritual engine and heart of Islam, which is rooted within the core of its…

View original 4,720 more words

An open letter to FEMEN

10 Apr

Confessions of a Media Student

11 Dec

By : Shehnaz

I once strongly believed in my choice to be a media professional. I considered being a journalist as the next best profession, after that of teaching of course. Journalism was the second most creative, socially proactive and noble profession there is. I always pictured myself wielding my pen as my mouthpiece. Despite condescending glances from my relatives, who always found humor in questioning my exaggerated ambitions, I decided to enroll for a professional journalism course.

But my perceptions of the media field were almost maimed when we attended a seminar given by an associate producer of TV9 channel based in Bangalore. He said that the present media worked with absolutely no ethics whatsoever. We had to dump our ethics in turn for commercial success. Everyday content was produced based on made up stories, or disproportionately portrayed plots. You probably wouldn’t hear this from any other media student, but this is exactly how it was. I remember he was bombarded with many questions regarding his statements by many bewildered students. He just gave us a straight face and shrugged.

Social Misinformation?

When you watch or read the news, what do you expect to learn? The straight facts and the figures of an event need to be presented to you so that you may not become socially misinformed. What if I told you that prominent news sources purposely work at keeping you misinformed? And even worse, what if you don’t care about being misinformed? Your ignorance could cause you to make baseless decisions. These decisions could affect many helpless people. The media works day and night to give you biased information, to manipulate your thinking and to numb your sense of rationality.

I passed on from my Bachelors course to my Masters course under a University based in the UK. As part of my course, I had to read textbooks and journal articles. I was surprised at the amount of scholars who quite blatantly ridiculed the media for partially presenting news. I was never aware of a phenomenon like this! Concepts like ‘cultural industries’, ‘representation’, ‘hegemony’ sprang up every now and then. It was overwhelming and saddening. But it was true and the sooner I’d learnt to face the facts, the sooner I could find ways to solve my internal conflicts. Apparently, the glorious days of ‘wielding the pen’ and ‘noble professionalism’ had to be put behind me.

The Tapeworm

Concurrently, I was also awed by the power of the media. I had never imagined that the field I had chosen had so much dominance over our lives and thinking. Over the decades, the media had conveniently crept into our homes, into our bodies and perceptions. We were so unsuspecting that these changes were hardly noticed, yet they grew stronger over time. It sucked out our consciences. It changed our outlook on beauty and wealth. It infested our brains with an unquenchable thirst for ‘the lifestyle’; we were running around making the right lifestyle which we are so afraid to lose. It makes us bound in ourselves. But shouldn’t we notice and cure this cancer before it is already manifested entirely and irreversibly?   

The thing about the media industry is that it is tightly intertwined. The views of the agenda of one channel are mostly repeated and reiterated in another till it seems like the truth. It changes us drastically. It feeds our children with indoctrination and stereotypes. It aims at reducing us to audience figures (like TRP ratings) for advertisers and compliant citizens for the alleged champions of modernization. It erases our individuality and tries to can us into the same molds. And these functions, it fiercely and unrelentingly performs. Some of the professionals are fully aware; some others have the slightest idea or concern.

Social Networking

As a normal social human, I would suggest that we take the media a little more seriously, especially the news. We should never take anything that comes in our news channels at face value. I recently saw a post circulating in Facebook which read: “Whenever there’s a big story in the media, look for the story they are trying to distract you from”. This puts the entire problem concisely. The media, instead of trying to bring your attention to something important, oftentimes tries to distract you from it.

Smaller, lesser organized media like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube (though very notorious for their un-credited sources) have more chances of bringing out the undercurrents of a big event. The social media are instrumental in bringing out the voices of the suppressed, those people who need big campaigns for real causes. There are pages and groups who are incessantly trying to bring back reason and ideals into our lives. They are trying to wash down our prejudices, and ask us challenging questions. Sometimes, I feel that social media makes us more sensible, IF AND ONLY IF we are following the right posts. Otherwise, it is nothing less than fool’s gold, really.

Boon or Bane?

The debates still carry on endlessly. Is technology good or bad? Is the media good or bad? Are the advertisements good or bad? Is social networking good or bad? I say stop debating for diametrical positions, because time is running out. We keep debating over something till it turns absolutely bad. The media is like milk. The fresher it is, the better it is. It has the uncanny ability to spoil very quickly. Like the social media, make the best use of it till it turns out to be another one of the enemy’s stooges.

Look into yourselves for the good or bad, not in things around yourself. Remember those tiny lessons your parents or guardians taught you about good and bad. Maybe the snippets of life’s important lessons your teachers accidentally taught you. This is what will make the difference. I speak these words of wisdom not as a seasoned media professional (which I am not!), but as a seasoned media consumer, and a not-so-novice media student. Four and a half years of media studies have rendered me to be less naive than I was before it.

 

Ramadan is over, What now?

31 Aug

By: Labeeb Ibrahim

[the original article appeared on http://www.muzlimbuzz.sg
The mosques are empty once again, the Holy Qura’n on the bookshelf has started getting washed in dust, we have started missing Fajr prayers, and the humility we had acquired during the month has started leaving us. We are back into the modern life style that dictates us to be busy with the ornaments of dunya.

Ramadan was more than a special offer to us. It is the talisman of a believer. It was an empowerment program. It demanded more than just a month from us. Ramadan has left with us a legacy that we are to keep up. We fail ourselves when we fail to do that.

Read more at Muzlimbuzz

Unless Allah had made it known.

1 Aug

By: Jeehan Hyder.

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I’ve known it that,
Before I know,
My need is known,
It isn’t I who know,
But He who knows,
That is to others unknown,
Know does He the inner soul.

I knew before I knew I would
That which I knew,
  I would never know,
Unless Allah had made it known.

- Jeehan

Tips for a Better Husband and Wife Relationship

9 Jul

By Ibrahim Bowers

Courtesy: Pure Matrimony*

Although many Muslims may right now be in failing marriages and on a fast track to divorce and its terrible consequences, there are many ways to put their marriage back on the right track if the husband and wife are sincere in their desire to reconcile. The following principles can be used by Muslims whose marriages are already in trouble or by Muslims who would like to avoid trouble in their marriage.

Examples of Negative
Relationship of Husband & Wife

Many Muslim husbands and wives treat each other like adversaries rather than partners. The husband feels that he is the boss, and whatever he says goes. The wife feels that she must squeeze everything she can out of her husband. Some wives never show their husband that they are satisfied with anything he does or buys for them in order to trick him into doing and buying more. They make him feel like a failure if he does not give them the lifestyle that their friends and families enjoy. Some husbands speak very harshly to their wives, humiliate them, and even physically abuse them. Their wives have no voice or opinion in the family.

Marriage In The Eyes of Allah

It is very sad that this relationship which Allah (SWT) has established for the good has been made a source of contention, deception, trickery, tyranny, humiliation, and abuse. This is not the way marriage is supposed to be.

Allah (SWT) described marriage very differently in the Holy Quran: ‘. . . He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts) . . . ” (Holy Quran 30:21, Yusuf Ali Translation).

Do not be a Tyrant

Regardless of whether or not Islam has made the husband the head of the household, Muslims are not supposed to be dictators and tyrants. We are taught to treat our wives well. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was reported to have said: ‘The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives” (From Mishkat al-Masabih, No. 0278(R) Transmitted by Tirmidhi).

Be Partners in the Decision Making Process.

Follow the principle of ‘Shura,” and make decisions as a family. There will be much more harmony in the family when decisions are not imposed and everyone feels that they had some part in making them.

Never be Emotionally

Never be emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive to your spouse. The Prophet (SAWS) never mistreated his wives. He is reported to have said: ‘How could they beat their women in daytime as slaves and then sleep with them in the night?”

Be Careful of Your Words

Be very careful what you say when you are upset. Sometimes you will say things that you would never say when you were not angry. If you are angry, wait until you calm down before continuing the conversation.

Show Affection

Show affection for your mate. Be kind, gentle, and loving.

Be Your Spouse’s Friend

Show interest in your mate’s life. Too often, we live in the same house but know nothing about each other’s lives. It would be great if the husband and wife could work together for the same cause or on the same project. They could perhaps establish a husband/wife prison ministry, take care of orphans in their home, or lead an Islamic weekend class.

Show Appreciation

Show appreciation for what your spouse does for the family. Never make your husband feel that he is not doing good enough for the family or that you are not satisfied with his work or his efforts, unless, of course, he is truly lazy and not even trying to provide for the family. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: ‘On the Day of Judgment, God will not look upon the woman who has been ungrateful to her husband.” (where is this hadith found) Show your wife that you appreciate her. If she takes care of the house and the children, don’t take it for granted. It is hard work, and no one likes to feel unappreciated.

Work Together in the House

The Prophet (SAWS) is known to have helped his wives in the house. And if the Prophet (SAWS) was not above doing housework, modern Muslim husbands shouldn’t feel that they are.

Communication is Important

Communication, Communication, Communication! This is the big word in counseling. And it should be. Husbands and wives need to talk to each other. It is better to deal with problems early and honestly than to let them pile up until an explosion occurs.

Forget Past Problems

Don’t bring up past problems once they have been solved.

Live Simply

Don’t be jealous of those who seem to be living a more luxurious life than your family. The ‘rizq” is from Allah (SWT). In order to develop the quality of contentment, look at those people who have less than you, not those who have more. Thank Allah (SWT) for the many blessings in your life.

Give Your Spouse Time Alone

If your mate doesn’t want to be with you all the time, it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t love you. People need to be alone for various reasons. Sometimes they want to read, to think about their problems, or just to relax. Don’t make them feel that they are committing a sin.

Admit Your Mistakes

When you make a mistake, admit it. When your mate makes a mistake, excuse him or her easily. If possible, never go to sleep angry with each other.

Physical Relationship is Important

Be available to your mate sexually, and don’t let your sexual relationship be characterized by selfishness. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: ‘It is not appropriate that you fall upon your wives like a beast but you must send a message of love beforehand.”

Have Meals Together

Try to eat together as a family when possible. Show the cook and the dishwasher, whether it is the husband or the wife, appreciation for his or her efforts. The Prophet (SAWS) did not complain about food that was put before him.

Be Mindful of Your discussion Topics

Never discuss with others things about your marriage that your spouse wouldn’t like you to discuss, unless there is an Islamic reason to do so. Some husbands and wives, believe it or not, complain to others about their mate’s physical appearance. This is a recipe for disaster. Information about your intimate relations should be kept between you and your spouse.

Many of us treat our spouses in ways that we would never treat others. With others, we try to be polite, kind, and patient. With our spouses, we often do not show these courtesies. Of course, we are usually with our spouses at our worst times — when we are tired and frustrated after a hard day. After a bad day at the office, husbands usually come home angry and on edge. The wife has probably also had a hard day with the children and the housework. Wives and husbands should discuss this potential time bomb so that if they are short-tempered with each other during these times, they will understand the reasons rather than automatically thinking that their spouse no longer loves them.

Good marriages require patience, kindness, humility, sacrifice, empathy, love, understanding, forgiveness, and hard work. Following these principles should help any marriage to improve. The essence of them all can be summed up in one sentence: Always treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated. If you follow this rule, your marriage will have a much greater chance for success. If you discard this rule, failure is just around the corner.
JazaakAllahu khayran.

*[I'm reposting this because, this is very relevant in today's marriages. People of Islam in every aspect of life, sometimes fail at being perfect husbands and wives. It is so sad to see such things and that is not what Allah intends. We are living in age where familial relationships are not well valued. We Muslims, sometimes fall for such modern jahiliyya. Islam teaches a better family structure than all other ideologies. May Allah help all of us to have the best fruits out of our relationships and may He bless us all with the Qurrath Al Ain (comfort to the eyes) ]

Here’s a situation..

2 Apr

By: Labeeb Ibrahim

We the Muslim men and women are supposed to lower our gaze whenever necessary. The whenever necessary, I feel has now become, ‘almost always’. That’s how worse the fashion culture(less-ness?) has grown.

Just think about it. Men wearing more clothes than women in a reality where women own more of ‘to be covered areas’ is indeed an irony. Women, (I would say, foolish women) who preach such clothing cultures are knowingly or unknowingly falling as a variable to the men controlled culture destruction algorithm.

Let me clarify. Men wishing to have eye-candies all around in reality are the sponsors of such cultures.

Now think about this. Advertisement hoardings. these mis-leaders are virtually everywhere. the morally unwatchable parts of female body is zoomed and shown with HD clarity. Why? Just to sell paints, cars, sanitary-wares etc and even schools advertise this way nowadays. I’ve seen it. I dunno what these glorified strippers (forgive me if I’m not up to the mark!) have in reality got to do in selling these. Women Liberation associations and groups do not seem to talk about such things. Rather they seem not to have known about it. Female body is being misused to sell products. And this is yet another plain cheating. This is one one of the third rate techniques(can i call it a technique? I doubt) of capitalism. They have no respect for humanity nor womanhood in particular. Women fall to such professions as Modelling and become tools to destroy cultures. Don’t they?

There are male models too. And from a female perspective; I dunno what are the men in underwear zoomed 10X doing above the buildings! Are they really asking men to buy the brand of underwear?  I dunno…

The other trouble for female Muslims would be the lower waist clothing. By the way they here, in Kerala call themselves as freaks (indeed they are!!). I still don’t understand the ‘greater’ purpose of it.

the above mentioned are the necessary evils we will have to surpass. I know I will have missed some. As you know, I’m writing this up from a Keralite male perspective. It will differ from place to place and person to person.

Some other troubles appear when we are trying to be ‘good’ television watchers or a ‘good’ movie enjoying Muslim. I really did have troubles of this sort when watching classic kind of movies. No wonder why some people call such film festivals as opportunities for good(?) people and intellects to watch ‘almost’ porn.

That’s how people have vulgarized the cinema. They call sex an art. And that’s where we differ. We call it an act of worship if  we obey Allah and transgression when we disobey Him.

Now the question is how are we to lower our gaze in such situations?

A complete abstinence from ALL these cannot be a practical solution, and hence not a solution at all. It’s only a strong and firm Iman that will help us.

The best way to lower our gaze in my opinion is marriage. That is exactly how Allah’s messenger (SA) has taught us. Marriage completes half of one’s Deen. As a child I found it hard to understand the Hadith. But as I grow up, every second I learn why is marriage so necessary in my life.

But the scenario is worse. Capitalism has injected so much of desperation in our youth that they say “I can think of marriage only when I get a better job”. getting job is a convincing excuse, but getting a better job is rather lame an excuse. It is Allah Who gives you a job and a better job as well. Believe in Allah. There is definitely some unforeseeable wisdom in the words of His Messenger (SA).

I’m not trying to say that all married men are free from the ‘zina’ of their eyes. So are married women. I would say that if you are still getting ruined, you are undergoing a brain wash by another agenda of something beyond capitalism which preaches that “the institution of marriage is obsolete in this global village”. They will say that there’s no problem at all in ‘open sex’ or ‘free sex’. The word sounds as cool as open source. Alarming and funny. The more alarming part is that they are in a way ideologically aiding premarital sexual relationships. No father will love their son or daughter to be in one though.

These are not found after serious researches. I just had these thoughts after thinking about the matter so much. You may disprove me with proofs.

A lesser impact solution is that at least we Muslims do not follow such clothing cultures. We may make sure that what is to be covered is well covered. And that is just that much. Most of the Muslims now seems to have understood the value of Islamic clothing and are following it.

Muslim psychologists around the world can find psychological solutions to this. This is a request to them. They ought to respond to social commitments.

I’ve got not much solutions than these. I would like to get your views on this issue so that the readers and I myself can implement it in our lives.

After all, it is the institution of marriage, Love between husband and wife and faith among them, the soul of Islamic society. The more there are vents in the soul, the harder is the truth that Satan is enjoying and our Deen is getting jeopardized.

I take my pen off, asking Allah to save us. Aoozu billah. I seek refuge in Allah.

Qur’ān’s Concept of Birr(Righteousness)

31 Mar

By: Syed Akbar Hassan

Courtesy: Radiance Weekly

A comprehensive concept of the ideal character of a Muslim – by defining in detail the real concept of righteousness – is in a single ayah of Surah Al-Baqara. All of us have a certain concept of righteousness in our mind but it differs from person to person depending upon our education, intellect, knowledge, experience, niyat (intention), status and position in society. But when we come closer to the Qur’ān and seek its advice on the subject, we get a very universal concept of righteousness applicable to the whole of mankind in the above mentioned ayah. Otherwise, the concept of righteousness for us might be superficial, mere dogma or ritual. This is one of the longer ayahs of the Qur’ān. Without true understanding of all that has been said in this very ayah, we cannot rise beyond rituals and legal aspect of Islam.

At the very onset of Ayah 177 of Surah Al-Baqara it is said that it is not real birr (righteousness) that we turn our faces towards the east or the west. Turning one’s face towards the east or the west is mentioned here only by way of illustration. Actually, it is to emphasize that the observance of certain outward religious rites, the performance of certain formal religious acts out of conformism, and the manifestation of certain familiar forms of piety do not constitute that essential righteousness which alone carries weight with Allah and earns His recognition.

So, the real righteousness is then defined in detail and in the right order. The first of which is actually the explanation and further elaboration of what has been mentioned in Surah Al-Asr (refer to my last article “Lo! Man is in a state of loss”) as the first per-requisite for nejat (salvation) and falah (success), i.e., Iman (Faith). Here, in Ayah 177 of Surah Al-Baqara, five articles of Iman (Faith) are mentioned. The real righteousness of a person is his Iman and sincere belief in Allah, yaumal akhir (the Day of Judgement),  malaika (the Angels), the Books and the Prophets. If we have developed such Iman, it will surely lead us towards real righteousness which will please Allah. There can’t be any righteousness without the Iman as mentioned above in all its forms. Iman bil-lah (Faith in Allah) and Iman bil-akhirah (Faith in the Day of Judgement) give firm foundation to our morality while Iman bil-resalat i.e. Prophethood is the external form of Iman as all the Prophets are our role models and their personalities should be our only ideal. This righteousness will always keep our motivation and niyat in check and shall guide us to do only what is right so much so that we will never shy to speak the truth even knowing very well that it may harm or cause loss to us here.

After Iman the next part of the mentioned ayah is again related to Surah Al-Asr as it refers to amal-e-saleh (Righteous deeds). For real righteousness the next thing after Iman that we are supposed to do, out of Allah’s love, is to spend our wealth (besides having love for it) on relatives and orphans, on the needy and the wayfarer, on beggars and on freeing people from debts, and establish Salat and pay Zakat and keep our pledges. It is quite notable here that the very first manifestation of Iman mentioned here is sadaqua (charity) and not salah (prayers). Salah and Zakat are coming after sadaqua. From the point of view of righteousness, first of all, it is our concern, care and sympathy towards our fellow beings that is of much more importance. There is one hadith that states that whosoever is deprived of the sympathy has been deprived of all good. In connection with the discussion of the ongoing ayah 177 of Surah Al-Baquara, it will be very appropriate to quote ayah 92 of Surah Al-Imran:By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc.), unless you spend (in Allâh’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allâh knows it well.” This is the importance of sadaqua in Islam. Secondly, we have also been advised here about the sequence in which we should spend our money or give sadaqua. Our close relatives have the first right and then comes yateem (orphans), masakeen (needy), wab-nis-sabeel (wayfarer), was-sa-e-lin (beggars), wa-fir requab (ransom of slaves).

It is our duty to always remain concerned, extend help and look after our close relatives and help them before they ask for it – just for the pleasure of Allah. We must not ever ignore them on the basis of some prejudice or bias or some wrong that they might have done or said to us or due to some ego or other problem. Our own likes and dislikes should never stop us (or make us selective) from helping and spending our wealth on our relatives – we must do so in any case for the sake of Allah only. Equally important is to ensure that if someone is under the bondage of debt or loan and is unable to come out of it, we must give him money so that not only he could get rid of his debt for good but once again regain his lost ground and become a respectable member of society instead of providing temporary help which can be just enough for his subsistence.

Before proceeding further, we should remember here that Sadaqa or spending of wealth which is mentioned here is certainly not Zakat rather it is in addition to Zakat, and very unlike Zakat it is not obligatory and does not have any exemption or limit to it. Zakat has been mentioned separately after Salah in this ayah.

The second manifestation of Iman – in order to attain righteousness – is aqimis-salah (establishment of Prayers) and atuz-zakat (paying of Zakat). There is a logical relationship between salah and Imansalah keeps our Iman alive – and this we always repeat in all our salah also when we recite Surah Fatiha. And Zakat is to keep our spirit of spending in the way of Allah alive and active.

The third manifestation of Iman is keeping up of pledges when we make them. All human relationships and dealings are based on some sort of contract or agreement – whether expressly made or implied. For example, the parent-children relationship has implied agreement. Parents take care of their children until they are settled in life; similarly, children are expected to take care of their parents in their old age. Likewise, marriage is a contract, and then there is business contract, employee-employer contract and so on. Therefore, we are bound to fulfill our contracts in any case. If we fail to do so our character will lack and will be devoid of righteousness.

Lastly, the most important part of this ayah is to show fortitude, patience and steadfastness in the face of hardship, hunger, pain and affliction. In all such situation we should always keep contented and think that – well – if Allah has decided this for me I accept it. Nothing happens or comes to us without Allah’s will.

Online poll

31 Mar

here’s the link: Do you believe that Muslim women should cover their face (wear Niqaab) in the public? Please do add your comments and your reason. (no offense intended).

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