Archive for the ‘Preaching’ Category

Answers to quizzes 19-25

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

19. Noah (PBUH) to his son who remained a disbeliever and tried to escape the Great Flood by taking shelter in a high mountain. Verse 11:42.

20. Prophet Shu`ayb (Jethro)’s daughter. She recommended Moses (PBUH) to her father as a hired hand for he is “strong and trustworthy.” Verse 28:26.

21. Righteous man Luqman preaching to his son. Verse 31:18.

22. Prophet Saalih (Mesoselah), PBUH, to his destroyed people who refused to believe in his message. Verse 7:79.

23. Young Abraham (PBUH) to the idols in his city’s temple. Subsequently, he axed them all, but the biggest one, to make the point to his people that these statues they worship cannot even defend themselves. Verses 37:91-92.

24. Pharaoh’s sorcerers, impressed by the magic performed by Moses. They included his brother Aaron too, although Aaron is not mentioned performing any magic. Verse 20:63.

25. Joseph (PBUH) after the wife of the nobleman kept pursuing him for an illicit affair. Verse 12:33.

Does Islam prophesy an Anti-Christ?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

What do you know and what do you believe about this person whom some people claimed that Prophet Muhammad prophesied as Mahdi and this event called Dajjal Fitnah. I’m not sure but I think these are unfounded claims as far as the Qur’an is concerned. I don’t know but some people relate these things to what is happening in Syria.

There are several authentic hadeeths, reported in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim’s compilations and narrated by Al-Khudri, Ibn Umar and others, which mention Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal (the luring messiah). In these hadeeths, the Prophet (PBUH) forewarns Muslims of the coming of the Anti-Christ, a man who will possess great powers, even power to resurrect people from the dead, and succeed in luring most people away from true faith to follow him instead. He will claim to be God. The Prophet (PBUH) said that the Dajjaal Fitna (test of faith) is the greatest and that every prophet had forewarned his people against it.

While the Quran does not mention Ad-Dajjaal, there is no reason to doubt the story. It would be a different matter if the Quran has contradicted the story. One authentic hadeeth I know of is reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she relates that the Prophet (PBUH) used to say in his supplication during prayer, “O God, I seek refuge in You from the trying times of the Luring Messiah.”

Several authentic hadeeths also mention the coming of the Anti-Christ as one of several grand signs of the approach of the Hour (the Day of Judgment). Most of the signs mentioned in those hadeeths are also mentioned in the Quran, such as the second coming of Jesus Christ, the release of Gog and Magog, and the animal which will preach to people. Thus, there is no cause to deny the story about the Anti-Christ while the other, equally spectacular stories are confirmed by the Quran.

There is no evidence that the war in Syria has anything to do with the Anti-Christ.

As for Al-Mahdi (the guided one), the hadeeths about him are far less authentic. Neither Al-Bukhaari nor Muslim have reported any hadeeth about him, to the best of my knowledge. Whether he will exist has no bearing on your or my faith, since we already have all we need to be true believers: the holy Quran and the authentic Sunna.

When you escape a dire straight, don’t revisit it!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

I am in, as the cliche aptly states, dire straights. It is dark outside. This naturally intensifies the feeling of isolation. And the example of Hajar is an excellent source of strength. Her situation captures all our fears. Thus, we have to really rely on the inner source. When we use the expression digging deep it sums her dilemma.

Yet, it is during trials like this that we have to dig deep. It does not make one a welcome guest at a party. The need for reflection and contemplation overrides the need for social activity. Sometimes social activity takes too much energy that is better spent to dig deeper.

I am looking for balance. My path at the moment is very steep. I am looking for the moss between a rock and a hard place; to rest for a minute.

Please understand that there is no negativity in what I am writing. I am not a negative person. This is a learning curve.

Yes, the inner journey is difficult. It seems that Satan is very busy with one on that path. And our hearts betray us constantly. The journey is riddled with struggles. It often seems that the other path is so much easier.

One of the reasons why the Prophet (PBUH) experienced dire straights was to teach the rest of us what to do when we are in a similar situation. We follow the Prophet’s example. What did he do?

He had just lost his only remaining physical protector, his uncle Abu-Taalib and the one person in this world whom he loved the most, his wife Khadeeja, may God have been pleased with her. The polytheists of Mecca had cornered the believers in a ghetto for three years: No trading, no contact. Muslims had to eat leaves to survive. Those economic sanctions were probably what killed Khadeeja and Abu-Taalib.

During that tough period, God had not revealed any Quran to the Prophet (PBUH), so even the spiritual joy and reassurance was withheld, to the point that the polytheists of Mecca mocked the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “Muhammad’s Lord has abandoned him!”

Anyone would have given up at that point, consoling himself that he had done all he could but it didn’t work out. Not Muhammad ibn Abdullah! He figured that Mecca may be a lost cause, so let him try At-Taa’if. He traveled to it, on foot, and when he got there he called them to God. No one gave him the time of day. They even let loose their kids and slaves to make fun of him, throw stones at him and force him out of the city. Some of the stones hit him and he started bleeding from his feet.

Can things get worse for someone? As he was leaving that wretched town, he paused and made the most beautiful supplication to God that was ever made! (If you don’t know it, ask me and I’ll include it in my reply). God’s response was immediate and flooding. Quran revelation resumed, with the reassuring Chapter 93, God sent Gabriel down to let the Prophet (PBUH) retaliate against the people of At-Taa’if. As you know, he chose not to. God sent the Jinn to listen to the Quran for the first time, recited by the Prophet (as mentioned in Chapter 72) and when the Prophet (PBUH) arrived in Mecca, he experienced the grandest and most reassuring miracle of all: Israa’ and Mi`raaj.

No matter how dire your straights, how deep your path, or how dark it seems outside, you know, by the example of the Prophet (PBUH), what to do.

I’m glad you reassured me that you’re not a negative person. That said, may I advise you not to disengage socially? The Prophet and his fellows were sociable and active in their communities, each in his own way. Sometimes, your social effort will be appreciated and other times it won’t be. Don’t let that sway you. The reward of God, not of people, is what you’re after.

Wisdom does not come easy. In retrospect it is simple…but that journey is a mini-hajj.

I am looking forward to moving back home. I love the peace there. I have a little community that needs some life. I have made much dua. InshaAllah, I will be able to move there soon. The other day, I took the Quran and asked Allah subhana wa taala to give me a little hope. I randomly opened the Quran. And the ayats were Musa (ra) going to the Madyan people. InshaAllah, my move home is imminent.

I do not wish to complain. I am not unhappy. I am growing ten-fold in faith daily. The reliance on Allah subhana wa taala totally is a reality.

You know Sura 93 is one of my favorites. It is reassuring. I love the words of not being displeased. It is a strong sura.

I am familiar with the dua of the Prophet (swas) at Al-Taa’if. Those are words of courage.

I’m a fan of Muhammad Ali. I bring that up because even in the ring there is a respite. I need a break.

It is also a difficulty process for the ordinary human being to understand that Allah subhana wa taala loves you enough to test you. In the world of sports there is always a period of training for an event. In the world of spirituality the event provides the need for us to seek guidance. The seeking of the guidance is the discipline needed to overcome the obstacles of the individual tests.

I wish to be of those that Allah is well pleased; I have a long way to go but the intention is there.

If I may ask I am assuming you have undergone some trials that have given you the knowledge to provide such words of compassion. I ask this not to pry. Rather, to gain understanding that the seeker of knowledge undergoes ego transformations in the process. The no pain no gain cliche.

When a believer passes a test of faith, it means two things; (a) that God is pleased with him and (b) that his character needed a boost. Thus, passing a trial means it had served its purpose and a believer should not dwell on it. Revisiting it means revisiting the pain, emotional and spiritual, which God has already delivered him from.

Excellent response. I am serious. What I see in the therapeutic milieu here ( our culture) is the very fact that recovery is dependent upon revisiting the pain. In a sense you have to go back and destroy the wall brick by brick, that has impeded your growth. Whereas, in Islam we overcome the wall by guidance.
Islam also demands that we do not purge our emotions. So difficult. Simple example would be anger. Many modalities of treatment for psychological illnesses suggest the patients take the time to examine the emotions and relive them. You always hear the: you have the right to be angry slogan. A persons spiritual health is dictated by an emotional balance. In Islam it seems that we have to get beyond the emotional balance to a spiritual balance that holds the reigns to direct the emotions.

It seems to make sense that wise persons are naturally quiet. A believer’s vision changes after a trial. It seems that we humans really do not have a place for anger.

Fascinating angle. The therapy method you describe may very well work, but I venture to guess that it will leave a spiritual void in the person. One can treat an emotional scar or a spiritual wound in a number of ways, including pharmaceutical, but that may not heal it. The person may find himself or herself resentful, cynical, grieving, regretful, less self-confident, less joyful. Sure the wound is no longer on the surface; it went deeper – into dangerous territory.

Only the connection with God can heal. The Prophet (PBUH) always said this in his ruqyas, “O God, heal. You are the Healer. There is no healing but Yours; a healing that leaves behind no ailment.” (Narrated by `Aa’isha, RA, and reported by Muslim). That is healing!

About anger, God says in the holy Quran, in praise, “And those who suppress frustration and the pardoners of people. And God loves the benevolent.” (3:134). It is their benevolence that earned them God’s love and it is God’s love that gives them the tranquility they seek.

Waiting for a blessing

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

What about someone that is waiting for a particular blessing and it does not come? I know dua (supplication) and qadar (precision) meet and whichever is the stronger manifests. Yet, a blessing is a gift isn’t it? A sweet chocolate kiss from Heaven.

Is it the ego that prevents blessings from flowing?

This may not seem like a serious subject but it is…give me a good Sura (Chapter of the Quran) or ayat (verse) that defines blessings.

Ego, sin, impatience, doubt (including self doubt), etc. In other words: lack of true submission.

Picture an airplane full of food and medicine for victims of a disaster but is unable to land because of lack of runway. Blessings are kinda like that. Remember the hadeeth in which Gabriel told the Prophet (PBUH) when Laylat-ulk-Qadr is, and the Prophet (PBUH) went out to tell Muslims but because two Muslims were arguing loudly he was made to forget it? (Narrated by Abu-Saeed Al-Khudri and reported by Muslim). The scene was not welcoming to the blessing even though the Prophet (PBUH) himself was there.

One of my favorite verses is this, “He knew what is in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility upon them and rewarded them with a nigh victory.” (48:18) It always starts with us submitting, hoping and waiting without hurrying and with full faith that good will happen. Only then does it happen.

Your statement that dua and qadar meet and the stronger of them wins, needs discussion. I addressed a misunderstanding about this in a previous blog post. Qadar comes with or without dua and it can be a reply to a dua. It does not meet dua nor fight with it. Qadar does not mean fate; it means precision in measure and timing.

I read your response..you have a way of making things easy to understand. There is a youtube video that someone posted on a forum I follow. The young scholar discusses “the dua meeting the qadar”. The viewer gets the impression that supplication overrides destiny. I think you need to explain in your discussion that we can not mold the dua. We can not have dua be wishful thinking. I can not make dua and wish only for my knight in shinning armor. I can not have the mold. That is my shortsightedness and ego. Am I correct?

Contemplation is a part of reviewing the blessings. In hindsight, we see what Allah subhana wa taala has sent to us. And it makes sense. Trust me the past two years have been full of blessings yet I have felt as if I were in a dark wilderness, alone. When I take time to reassess I realize it could not have transpired any other way.

Yes, He is full of Mercy and He sends His Blessings. We are so scared of the blessings. There is accountability in accepting blessings. That is a part of submission. The runway in your example would be accountability in my words, correct?

You need to write on true submission. Honestly, we are so busy trying to be super-Muslims we forget the simple things. There is a fine line. We have to be busy with life while we wait for the guidance of Allah subhana wa taala. That is not easy.

I understand self-doubt to be an instrument of Shytan (Satan). I know dhikr (remembrance of God) and dua and salat (prayer) are cures as is the biggie sabr (patience).

Actually, we can mold the dua. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Let any of you ask his Lord all of his needs, even ask Him to replace the lining of his shoes that was torn!”, narrated by Anas ibn Maalik and reported by Assuyooti who rated it authentic. Most scholars, however, have doubted its authenticity. The point of this hadeeth is that nothing is too small or too big to ask God for. When you really think about it, you will find that most of what we wish for in our prayers is rather trivial and that what is really important God is already taking care of. He is Al-Qayyoom (The All-Caretaker).

That said, your point is well taken. I understood it to be that a believer should not insist on an outcome. However God chooses to reply to his request should be reason for the believer to rejoice. That requires that the believer be in tune with what God sends his way. Otherwise he will not recognize the reply when it comes. That is the lesson of Salaat-ul-Istikhaara (consultation prayer). You are torn between two decisions and honestly cannot decide, so you ask God to decide one for you. How do you know what God decided and when? You will see it and feel it if you are tuned in.

The belief many Muslims have that supplication preempts destiny is a false doctrine which sadly most Muslims do not even review. It is a harmless false doctrine, though, so I don’t fret over it. Destiny never changes because God knows it already. He does not shape it for us. We shape it with our words and deeds out of our free will. He simply knows it already. It’s kinda like watching a recorded football match with your son who hasn’t yet seen it but you have and he made you promise not to spoil it for him. He can cheer his team till he’s blue in the face, but you know his team lost. They lost because they didn’t play well and didn’t listen to their coach. You had nothing to do with it! I can excuse non-Arabic speakers who do not know what the word Al-Qadhaa’ means, but what is the excuse of the Arabs? The word does not mean destiny and never did.

The “runway” in my previous example is the space in the heart that we leave open to receive God’s gifts. It’s what Rumi spoke of all the time. That space widens when we accept and narrows when we question. That is what true submission is about. After you read the Quran and recognize its truth, you let God in. Easier said than done though.

Tuning in…that is never explained enough and people run from pillar to post trying to understand how they know they are tuned in. It seems that we have a paucity of vocabulary or descriptors to help us understand when we are tuned in. I know in prayer there is a physical change when you are tuned in. Yet, there are not universal words to define the “tuned in” stage. Similar to the Zen. The area of the spiritual real and the physical real is fuzzy. You mentioned self-doubt. It is overwhelming for the psyche to live in the tuned in state for long periods of time. I am still trying to comprehend this one. Maybe that is what I was alluding to in terms of becoming reclusive; not that you do not wish to interact with the world but the need to be ” tuned in” is greater and you do not want to risk the goodness.

Your runway made me think…our trials are the shovel that make the path wider. Our trials are what makes us dependent upon Allah subhana wa taala. Rumi’s Love is so deep it is too simple. Once again it is the inability of our language to communicate to us what we have.

Salaat-ul-Istikhaara is the salaat for guidance when you have to make a decision. What about when you are in the wilderness looking for guidance?

As for understanding the Quran…there are times when Allah swt gives you a response as if you are slapped in the face and at other times one ayat takes months and months to comprehend.

Let me end with this: There comes a point in one’s life when you see the blessings. You become sure that the end of any given is going to be good; you become so used to this that the ordinary stressors disappear. You know from past experiences what the anticipated result will be. It is almost too much to take in. I guess this is being “tuned in”.

The reason why I am hung up on this is simple. I post on a forum I follow and often the responses become so obtuse that we forget in the wording, life is to be lived. We are ordinary people and Islam is a faith for the common man.

You really ought to give a kuthba (sermon) on this. Tell the imam (preacher) of your masjid (mosque) you need to speak to the youth. We are missing that in our masjids. The use of language to an audience that is real and meaningful.

Zhikr is the best way to achieve the tuned-in state, especially if it is done with mindfulness. But even when it is done by force of habit, provided the heart is sound, the believer will be eased into things. If you ever wondered why Zhikr is so lauded in Islam, that’s why IMHO.

Mindfulness is also the best way to understand the Quran. When you read the Quran mindfully, no word passes by without reflection. You ask yourself what does this word really mean? Why did God choose this word and not any of its synonyms in this particular verse and context? How is this verse related to the one before it and the one after it. That is the method taught by the late Sheikh Shaarawi, may God bless his soul. Suddenly, the Quran relates to your life intimately. You feel clued in.

A person in the wilderness looking for guidance will find it if he is really looking for it, because God says in the holy Quran, “And upon God is the orientation of the road” (16:9) You just walk the road and earnestly look for the way and God will show it to you. It’s a promise from Him.

Why are they leaving Islam?

Friday, August 24th, 2012

An excellent article by Mathew Longacre,
http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/dawah/why-are-they-leaving-islam/

I’d add that the spread of lies, half-truths, bad translations and scare tactics and confusing traditions or culture with religious tenets by Islamophobes, as well as the spread of misinterpretations, misconceptions and flawed fatwas (religious rulings) by fundamentalist Muslims as well as portraying terrorism, mass murder and suicide as Jihaad (!!), all leave the vulnerable and the gullible Muslims in confusion and doubt. It is the responsibility of parents, friends, preachers, scholars and media to rush to help those who have unanswered questions about Islam and answer them! We are all responsible for each other and will be questioned by God on the Day of Judgment if we have failed that responsibility. The Prophet (PBUH) made that quite clear when he said, “All of you are caretakers and all of you will be questioned about those you were to take care of!”, narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

Supplicating with confidence

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Salaams,
This is what you said to me earlier:
What you keep thinking about tends to happen. That’s because the brain and the psyche are geared to achieve what you obsess about!

I obsessed about getting married and having children. I was worried about being alone and tried my darndest for that not to happen, but it did. What was at the forefront, however, was a constant determinatin: i will not reach 40 without getting married. I will not enter my middle years without having children.

Based on your thesis, it should have happened.

The problem is that you obsessed more about your fears that it won’t happen. Your brain and psyche saw two strong thoughts, one positive and another negative, and the negative was stronger, so it won.

I hope you can see why your approach to achieving your goal needs refinement. The right approach of a believing man or woman is to earnestly supplicate to God for what they wish for, work hard to exhaust all the possible material means to achieve that goal and then completely accept the outcome. That acceptance is proof of faith.

As I mentioned to you before, God has already answered your prayers. The answer is either not obvious to you in your disheartened state, or it is coming.

Have you ever prayed in congregation and the Imaam (preacher) said, ادعوا الله وأنتم موقنون بالإجابة (supplicate to God certain in the response)? The believer is certain of God’s reply to their supplication. The believer supplicates with confidence!

One of the things I really pray for is that my elderly parents remain healthy and able-bodied at least until I get married and have children (of course even beyond that, too!). I say that in every salaat, and at each time I speak to God. But last week my mother found out she had a health scare and now needs to see a surgeon to evaluate cancer. She does not want to take the further testing because it is very invasive.

I feel like I am drowning. The more I ask, the more disappointed I get. Its like the joy in life is lying at the surface of the ocean but I am struggling to get to the top. And I tried to keep the struggle at bay through my 30’s because I assumed that eventually I would get there. But now the struggle is overwhelming because it is compounded by so many other factors…my mothers’ health and longevity, my fatigue in always taking care of my own needs, my loss of someone I loved but who ultimately did not want to be with me, the loss of my childbearing years, and abandonment by my siblings and friends during a time when I am heartbroken. So I’m not getting to the top.

May God heal your mother as only He can. Please encourage her to seek all available treatments. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Take medicine, for God sent down ailment and sent with it its cure.” Narrated by Abud-Dardaa’ and reported by Abu-Daawood who rated it acceptable. At-Tirmizhi rated it soundly authentic.

The joy is not at the bottom of the ocean, it’s all around you. What you feel inside is what is blinding you to it. Millions of people have worked hard for goals that never materialized. Life handed them a lemon, but they made of it lemonade! Don’t keep tasting the lemon.

You never answered my question, “Why did your best friends abandon you?” The answer may help you fix your approach.

And I disagree that I obsessed over that – to the contrary, i obsessed over the opposite.

It was a subtle, subconscious obsession. Your supplication took you one step up the ladder, but your fears dragged you down two steps.

I know you think that the joy may lie in where I am, but everyone has a different perspective on joy. For me, joy is in being surrounded by family that loves and cares about you, and being nourished by them. Joy is being able to experience this world with people who are important to you.

Real joy is getting to Paradise. Joys of this life are fleeting. Please reflect on these verses from the holy Quran,

“And [this] the nearest life is but distraction and play. And verily, the Lasting Home (the Hereafter) is the life, if they only knew.” (29:64)

“So that you will not grieve over what missed you nor be overjoyed over what He has given you!” (57:23)

To non-Muslims with love

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I’m sending you a link to a book by Sheikh Kaleem Siddiqui, who has been successful in calling Hindus to Islam. Hope you enjoy reading it.

May God bless Sheikh Siddiqui.

Indeed, Muslims have a duty of da`wa (calling people to Islam), first started by the Prophet (PBUH) and followed by the Sahaaba, may God have been pleased with them. But da`wa cannot be done if we ourselves do not understand Islam or do not practice it! We cannot tell people “do as I say, not as I do.”

And da`wa cannot be done when we hold resentment or despise of others in our hearts. Those we try to convey the Message to, while holding those negative emotions, will see through us quickly! Many Muslims today have a holier-than-thou attitude towards non-Muslims. That will be returned by them toward us in the form of arrogant dismissal. Muslim fundamentalism is what gave rise to Christian fundamentalism. Hatred of non-Muslims is what gave rise to Islamophobia.

Many Muslims today think that hating non-Muslims is necessary to protect their faith! You cannot preach out of hatred. Hatred darkens the heart and a darkened heart cannot shed light.

Many Muslims today follow the traditions of their forefathers, without actually studying those traditions themselves to sift them from tenets of the religion. You cannot call others to follow tradition! You can only call them to follow the truth. Tradition is made by people, while the truth is made by God.