Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Are we at fault for all bad things?

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

I would like to know why do we tell “Everything good is from Allah SWT and everything bad is from us.”

If you have already answered this question in your older posts, please provide me the link.

You are referring to verse 4:79, but you should also take verse 4:78, which establishes the context, in order to understand it:

“{4:78} Wherever you may be, death will catch up with you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. And if good comes to them, they say, “This is [coming] from God”; and if a bad [thing] hits them, they say, “This is [coming] from you.” Say, “All [things come] from God.” So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand a statement?

{4:79} What comes to you of good is [caused] by God, but what comes to you of bad is [caused] by yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad,] to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is God as Witness.”

Most translations I read of these two verses fail to distinguish between the two different prepositions that God used here, namely من and من عند, which would lead the English reader to view these two verses as contradictory to each other! 4:78 says that God is the source of all things, good and bad, while 4:79 says that only good things are caused by God while bad ones are caused by us. The distinction specified in the Arabic is lost in the translation and leads to a wrong conclusion! Rather, من عند means “comes from the reservoir of” while من means “is caused by.” Thus, to be faithful to the Arabic, and in doing so dispel confusion, I suggest the above translation.

It is particularly interesting to me that in 4:78, God chastises people for not understanding plain talk. That means that this distinction I explained above was clear enough, yet people did not get it. Indeed, the source of all things is God. Who else is or can be a source? But the cause of something is creature action. If we don’t do the wrong things, nothing wrong will happen! The Sunna (way) of God is that everything is in order, working as planned, in harmony, in precise measure and timing, well designed for maximum benefit. That is why God says that the cause of good is He. God does not do anything to ruin His plan or design. But we often do.

Why are there wars, famine, scarcity, disease, poverty, ignorance, etc., in the world? It is all caused by human action. We are all capable of choosing right, but some of us willingly and knowingly choose the wrong. The result is suffering. That is the cosmic law of cause and effect that God created and set forth.

Related post: Why is there suffering, death, evil and injustice in the world?

Three plateaus of contentment

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Quick question: When we acquiesce to the call of Allah swt, there is a word in Arabic that sounds phonetically like ridah and roughly translated I believe means the tranquil acceptance of Allah swt’s will.

Could you expand on this, please.

“Tranquil acceptance” is an excellent translation of Ridha.

I usually translate it as contentment. Contentment can be motivated by several motivations. It can be motivated by surrender to reality. In such case, it is more like coping rather than contentment. It is then pragmatic. The motivation here is literally Islam (surrender), which some do willingly and others unwillingly. Consider,
“So is it other than the religion of God they desire, while to Him have submitted [all] those within the heavens and earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him they will be returned?” (3:83)

Contentment can be motivated by peace of mind; that feeling that everything is in order and taken care of by the Supreme Caretaker (Al-Qayyoom). In such case, it is tranquil acceptance. It is then rational. With that mental attitude, one is in harmony with other creatures, swimming downstream. The motivation here is Eeman (faith).

Contentment can also be motivated by pleasure; that feeling that God, being the source of everything, is the source of whatever happened and therefore it must be good for the person even if it doesn’t look that way at first. In such case, it is love. Contentment here is two-sided! As God has said in the holy Quran, “…God is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. That is the grand win.” (5:119). With that mental attitude, one is in heaven on earth; one has that elusive inner peace. The motivation here is Ihsaan (benevolence).

God has mentioned several times in the holy Quran how Ridha is the ultimate reward. Take for example His praise of a pious, charitable, unselfish person, “But the most watchful [of God] will be averted from it (the Hellfire). Who gives [from] his wealth purifying himself. And no one has a favor with him to be rewarded. Except seeking the Countenance of his Lord, the Highest. And he shall contend.” (92:17-21).

Beliefs Muslims and Christians share about Jesus

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Egyptian Coptic Christian writer Louis Grace wrote recently, “I learned to love Jesus Christ because of the Quran!”

Did that statement surprise you? Though I was delighted to read it, it did not surprise me. Mr. Grace grew up in a Muslim country that has a 1400 year history of cordial relations between Muslims and Christians. Even though many attempts throughout the centuries tried to sew seeds of division between the two, none has succeeded.

The Quran mentions Jesus, son of Mary, peace be upon both, numerous times and always with high praise and affection. In case you didn’t know, here are what Muslims and Christians have in common in regard to Jesus (PBUH):

  • Jesus was born miraculously to the virgin Mary.
  • Jesus was “the word of God”.
  • Jesus was a true prophet and a messenger of God.
  • Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) promised to the Children of Israel.
  • Jesus received from God a holy scripture, the Gospel.
  • Jesus performed many miracles, including raising people from the dead.
  • Jesus will come back.

Did any of that surprise you? It’s all in the Quran for all to read and learn. With all this in common between Muslims and Christians, what can be between them short of a cordial relationship?

Happy Eid-ul-Adhha

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Eid Mubarak to all fellow Muslims around the world. Today is the feast of sacrifice, commemorating the ultimate willingness to surrender to God by prophets Abraham and Ishmael and Lady Haajar (Hagar), peace be upon them. They all teach us the lesson that surrender to God, which is what the word Islam means, is the gateway to peace, prosperity and longevity.

Hijr-Ismail

Tawaaf around the Ka`ba

Finding “the center”

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I am having difficulty being centered. I am reading so much and it is messing with me. Your word is balance. I pray and read the Quran. I remeber Allah. I have everything except money and I know that is temporay. Why am I feeling a loss of balance. I am not unhappy. I count my blessings.
I do not know where I am on the Path. It is not a crisis..but a seeking..make any sense.

Yes. Getting to “the center” has been the goal of all thinkers and spiritual teachers throughout the centuries and they all said it was not easy.

But because God calls us to it, it is within our ability. The effort we exert to get there and stay there is a jihaad (strife); a strife of the soul and of the mind. One who lives life with deliberation is more likely to succeed in that strife than one who just lives. Your questioning your place on the Path means you’re on it.

Stay on it. What you read may cloud your thoughts. It may tempt you to take alternative routes. Don’t. The Prophet (PBUH) said that a parable for the believers on the Straight Path is like a man walking a narrow road with endless attractions on either side of the road calling him to check them out, but he turns them all down (I’m searching for the exact words of this hadeeth and its authentication).

How can you tell if what you’re reading is not something that you should follow? Examine it against the Quran. God and His Messenger have described the Quran as Al-Fasl (the Decisive) because it will tell you if a notion is true or false. Islam is simple, but many people think it has to be more complex! So they complicate it with their interpretations, assumptions and theories.

Extremes tend to appeal to emotion while the center tends to appeal to steadiness. No wonder centrist people are often called cool-headed. 🙂 Extremes divide while the center pulls together and reconciles. It leads to peace. That is what the word “Islam” means: peace through submitting to God’s will.

Always keep in mind what the Prophet (PBUH) has commissioned us to do, when he said, “This religion is easy! No one will play tug-of-war with it but it will defeat him. So, make things easy, do not make them hard. Tend to agree with people (“Saddidu”) and reconcile their views (“Qaaribu”). Spread the good news and do not repulse people.” Narrated in many versions by Abu-Hurayra and `Aa’isha (RA) and reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim and rated authentic.

Feel free to comment with whatever of your readings that you feel is throwing you off course.

Greetings between Muslims and non-Muslims

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Can you talk about greetings between Muslims and non-Muslims? Can Muslims initiate greetings to non-Muslims? Are they obligated to return their greetings? What do they say? What if the non-Muslim greeting was “Assalaamu Alaykum” (Peace be upon you), the traditional Islamic greeting?

Let’s start with returning a greeting from non-Muslims. The Quran makes it clear that we must return the greeting with a more beautiful one, or at least one like it,

“And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with a more beautiful one than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, God is ever, over all things, an Accountant.” (4:86)

Notice how God ends this verse with His Attribute that emphasizes that He keeps count? Every time you fail to return a greeting, it is written down against you!

What do you say? Something more beautiful! Suppose a non-Muslim says to you, “Merry Christmas!” You can say back, “May you have a happy season!” If they say, “Assalaamu Alaykum”, you can say, “And may peace and guidance be with you!”

A beautiful person can think of many beautiful things to say.

Now, can a Muslim initiate greeting to a non-Muslim? You will read opinions out there that a Muslim shouldn’t. But that opinion does not square with the Quran, which tells us that Moses and Aaron were commanded by God to initiate greeting to Pharaoh! Read it, if you will in verse 20:47,

“So go (Moses and Aaron) to him (Pharaoh) and say, ‘Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace is upon him who follows guidance.” (20:47)

If we can greet a sworn enemy, all the more reason we should greet friendly folks.

Finally, you may encounter a hadeeth, reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she tells an event when a group of Jews came calling on the Prophet (PBUH). When they met him, they said, “Assaamu Alaykum”. A phonetic distortion which means “Death be upon you!” It sounds a lot like “Assalaamu Alaykum, except that it is missing an L. `Aa’isha recognized the curse and said to them, “And may God’s curse be upon you!” What did the Prophet (PBUH) say? He said, “Wa Alaykum” (Likewise)!! He followed God’s orders of returning the “greeting”. It was really a curse disguised as a greeting, but even then, the Prophet (PBUH) gives us the lofty role model of being magnanimous even when insulted. He said to `Aa’isha, “God loves gentleness in everything.”

Tell me a positive experience from Islam

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’m really conflicted right now, part of me knows that Islam is what I wanted Christianity to be (which I left 11 years ago). The prayer, serving only God, living your life in a good way and helping those less fortunate.

What did turn me off about Christianity are the negative things. I understand if you do good things, you’ll be rewarded, if you do the wrong things, you’ll be punished. I lived my life as a Christian out of fear, and that gets very tiring, very quickly. I don’t want to live in fear of Allah. (And I mean fear as in “afraid” not fear as in “respect” which many people use the word for. Respect is something that I want to give of course).

Can anyone share with me the positive things that you have experienced since being Muslim?

Thank you in advance.

Imaam Al-Ghazaali, may God have been pleased with him, a Muslim scholar and author who lived in the Eleventh Century defined faith eloquently as “the balance between hope and fear.” Only fear can dissuade you from listening to Satan or your desires and disobeying God, and hope is the most reliable way to persuade people to do good.

That said, let me answer your question in my case. I have prayed Istikhaara (the “consultation prayer”) several times in my life, a prayer a Muslim prays when s/he is stuck and cannot decide a matter. Every time the answer came immediately! I felt like God was right there, which of course, He always is.

The feeling I get when the month of Ramadhaan has ended is indescribable. I feel light, pure, happy, strong, confident, humble, grateful, at peace, healthy, sharp-minded, and surprisingly not hungry nor thirsty at all.

The universe is Muslim?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Did I read that right in the Quran? That everything in the universe is Muslim?

Yes, you read it right. That’s because everything in the universe, that does not have a free will, is in harmony with God. So, it can only submit to Him, and submit to God is what Islam means.

Not only that, but every being in the universe prostrates to God and sings His praises! God says in the holy Quran,

“Do you not see that to God prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is in the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? ” (22:18)
and
“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them sanctify Him. And there is not a thing except that it sanctifies [God] with praising Him, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” (17:44)

How can inner peace be achieved?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,

“The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.”

So, how can man achieve unity with himself?

The agony and unrest that so many people feel, even when they are well off financially and socially, etc. is the result of a discontent that goes on inside them every second. Their bodies and their spirits are Muslim but their conscious minds refuse the one true God and thus are at odds with the rest of their being.

So many theories, philosophies and opinions have been developed over the course of human history in an attempt to achieve that elusive inner peace, but what all those philosophers, thinkers and self-appointed experts have been missing is that they cannot on their own find inner peace. Only God can lead them to it and that’s why He kept sending His message to people.

Did you find peace in Islam?

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

I am searching for peace.

So, my first question is how did you find peace in Islam? when did you realize it?

One of the most fascinating things in the Arabic language is how certain concepts that at first blush appear different are linked together because they use the same word root. Case in point is Islam. The word means surrender or delivery. It comes from the same root word for Salam which means peace or soundness!

Thus one can conclude that through genuine surrender to God in the way He instructed us one achieves peace.

A perfect clue to how one would experience peace is what God said in a holy Hadeeth. He said “My servant keeps approaching me with voluntary good deeds until I love him. When I love him, I become his eyes with which he sees, his ears with which he hears, his hands with which he works and his legs with which he walks. If he asks me I shall most assuredly give him and if he seeks refuge in Me I shall most assuredly protect him.”

Every time you do a voluntary good deed you come closer to God which is the only way to find peace. A good deed could be as simple as a smile.

For such a long long time I have been so unhappy, and I have been trying to find peace and happiness in my life. Like I said I am looking for peace in my life and I am hoping to find it in Islam.

There are many reasons why one may be unhappy. You must have heard of people who despite being healthy, wealthy and beautiful are unhappy, while other people who are sick or poor are happy. Your self image and what you keep telling yourself is often the reason why you stay unhappy. If you start believing differently about yourself, your role in life, and the people around you, you will start to feel differently. Happiness is achieved when what you think, say and do are in agreement and are moving toward God.