asalamu `alaykum,

This is, by far, one of the best lectures I’ve heard in my life. MashaAllah!

“Prayer in Focus” by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda from Islamic Institute of Orange Cty on Vimeo.

A Friday Family Night presentation by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda at IIOC on March 12, 2010 titled: “Prayer in Focus”

Istiqamah (being steadfast) is not an easy thing to achieve. The proper istiqamah will only come about when faith is firmly rooted in the heart. Complete or perfect istiqamah – which implies complete devotion to the oneness of Allah without any shortcomings – may be impossible to achieve. By the mercy of Allah, such “perfection” is not what is required of human beings.

A hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) makes this point clearer. The Prophet said,

O People, you are not able to, or you will not do, all that you are ordered to do. But, instead, try to be upright and have glad tidings.“[Abu Dawud]

In another hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, the Messenger of Allah stated, “Be straight on the path or be close to it.” What the Prophet meant by this statement is that a Muslim must be in one of two situations for every belief, statement and deed: The first state is where the belief, statement or deed is correct and along the Straight Path. It is like a person who has taken aim at something and has actually hit his target. The second state is where the person intends to do what is right and correct but falls a little short. In this state, it must have been the case that the person intended and wanted to hit the target but he simply missed due to his own inability. However, at no time would a Muslim intentionally not hit the mark or not aim at the mark. The Prophet mentioned these two cases and these two only, and they are the only acceptable cases. (Ibn Rajab)

Hence what is required upon the person is either to be fully following, adhering and sticking to the Straight Path or to be doing his best to adhere to that Straight Path, although he may fall short of that Straight Path.

Compiled From:
Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi” – Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 834-837

By Abdul Lateef Abdullah

The mutual “work” that is required of each individual in Islam— the jihad al-akbar —in which we all must engage throughout our life course, is the very foundation of the ideal male-female relationship in Islam. Marriage, for example, in traditional spiritual teachings is often referred to as a mutually supportive path toward self- and God-realization, where the goal is not the other, but God Himself. The role of the relationship or partnership on this path is to support one another with tenderness, kindness, open communication, and strength toward achieving the goal. The ideal is that each partner focuses on giving, not receiving, in the spirit of service. This can only occur, however, if each partner understands that the relationship itself does not exist for the purpose of power, subordination, or solely for the fulfillment of sensual desires. It is a truly spiritual partnership, where inherent differences are acknowledged, respected, and appreciated, thus meeting in cooperation to further the mutual goal of achieving true love.

This difficult process, however, requires mutual commitment toward personal wholeness, which can only be achieved through dedication to self- and God-realization. When men and women as individuals are complete and whole, at peace with who they are, and filled with love of God, they have no need to seek another to complete themselves. An ego-based notion of love (also known as romanticism), is nothing but a self-centered desiring that is “the dependent ego searching for a reflection of its need in another’s willingness to support and gratify it. This form of relationship is recognized by the experienced as the mutual gratification, support, and enabling of codependence,” (Ansari) that means the attempt to complete ourselves through another. And what happens when we reach that point when we realize that the “other” cannot complete us? Without understanding and the ability and desire to work through it, the results can be frustration, disappointment, resentment, and even divorce (in the case of a marriage).

To be whole we have to realize that we already are whole. Allah created us whole, yet it is through forgetfulness of who and what we really are, and from whom and where we came that prevents us from realizing our true nature. Remember, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) informed us that every human being is born pure and in a state of Islam. However, because we have been taught to forget, we go “looking” for love in all the wrong places, so to speak. Thus, the path of (self) knowledge and remembrance of Allah is the path toward wholeness, which is our natural state and the source of inner peace and tranquility.

Source: Islam Online

asalamu `alaykum,

January 22, 2010 should have been a day where we brought an end to the injustice. It should have been a day where Americans rejoiced at the first mark of ‘change’ President Obama had promised us. It should have been a day where the innocent were freed to put together whatever is left of their life. Instead, January 22nd represents another unfulfilled promise, another disappointment, and another step away from our ideals and principles.

Guantanamo detention facility has been open for 8 years now. January 22nd was supposed to be the day where all the innocent prisoners who’ve been oppressed by our unjust system were returned home. Now, the suffering continues and their voices are still not heard. As people of conscious, our voices must be heard. We must speak out and stand up for them.

As we celebrate the strength and courage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we do not honor his legacy by taking a day off from work and school. If we really wished to honor him, we’d stand for justice. I see nothing just in leaving over 100 Guantanamo detainees, who have already been screened and cleared for release, to rot in a jail cell while we enjoy our day off.

Inallhonesty

By: Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad is a 34 year old British Muslim and the longest detained-without-charge British detainee held as part of the global ‘war on terror’. In December 2003 Babar was arrested at his London home under anti-terror legislation. By the time he reached the police station Babar had sustained at least 73 forensically recorded injuries, including bleeding in his ears and urine. Six days later he was released without charge.

Babar then filed a formal complaint that he had been subjected to horrific physical, sexual and religious abuse by the arresting police officers. An IPCC supervised investigation later dismissed his complaint and even “commended” one of these officers for his “great bravery” in arresting him. Babar is currently suing the Metropolitan Police for assault.

In August 2004 Babar was re-arrested in London and taken to prison pursuant to an extradition request from the US under the controversial, no-evidence-required, Extradition Act 2003. The US has alleged that in the 1990s Babar was a supporter of “terrorism”. Babar denies any involvement in terrorism. He has now been in prison for four years even though he has not been charged in the UK.

Babar’s family, friends and campaigners have mounted a high profile campaign for his release. He recently appeared in the news when it was revealed that the police had bugged his prison visits with his MP, Sadiq Khan (Labour-Tooting). His final appeal against extradition is at The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which is due to decide on it shortly. If extradited he faces the rest of his natural life in solitary confinement in a maximum security US ‘Supermax’ prison. Further details on his case are at www.freebabarahmad.com. He reflects on his four years in captivity.

I have now spent nearly an eighth of my life in prison. Life in prison is a journey into the unknown. Unlike other journeys it is one of those things that you can never plan ahead for. You don’t plan to have a car accident. You don’t plan to get cancer. You don’t plan to die. And you don’t plan to go to prison. Prison is just one of the many tests that you must pass in order to succeed in life.

The Prophet (saw) said, “There is some magic in words.” Tyrants use the magic in words to control people’s thoughts and deeds by making evil appear acceptable to them. So kidnap is known as “arrest”, brutality becomes “reasonable force” and torture is nothing more than “enhanced interrogation.” When an innocent man is kidnapped from his home by bearded Arab gunmen and locked indefinitely in a room he is a “hostage.” But when an innocent man is kidnapped from his home by uniformed white gunmen and locked indefinitely in a room he is a “terrorist.” The world causes uproar over the former but is silent over the latter. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” observed Martin Luther King.

Fear is a disease that consumes the soul of the one who embraces it. Man’s total capacity to fear is fixed: the more he fears one thing the less he fears another. People fear standing up to a tyrant because they are afraid of some harm that he ‘may’ cause them, even though that harm is limited to the life of this world. Such people have little or no fear for any harm that Allah will cause them in the Hereafter. However, if these same people were to fear the Day when they shall return to stand before the Lord of the Worlds, they would not fear any tyrant on the face of the Earth. “Do they fear them? Allah is more worthy for you to fear if you are indeed believers.” (Quran 9:13)

We survive in life by wearing a variety of faces that disguise our true inner selves. We have one face for our families, a face for our friends, a face for our colleagues, and a face for strangers. Since we are always switching between faces others hardly get to see who we really are. Sometimes we ourselves forget who we are. The harsh reality of prison life relentlessly files away at your external faces and personae to reveal the true you. There are no secrets in prison. Sincerity, hypocrisy, bravery, cowardice, good, evil – all are laid bare. Prison brings out the best, and worst, in people.

Prisoners undergo such a concentrated experience that they develop intensely deep personalities. We interact with each other heart-to-heart, not face-to-face. Our conversations frequently revolve around hope. No man, let alone a prisoner, can live without hope: hope that there is indeed a dawn at the end of this long, dark night. What else do you say to a man facing life in prison?

People are like “metals”, according to one narration of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Some people are like a cheap bracelet plated in gold: the smallest crisis files away the fake gold to reveal the cheap metal underneath. Others are like a gold bracelet covered in rust: hardship rubs away the rust to bring out the gold below to the surface. And a third type are solid gold, inside and out: calamity just polishes the gold so it sparkles from near and far.

During the last four years I have personally witnessed the worst of men turn into the best of men. I have seen gangsters, drug barons, armed robbers and murderers, of all faiths and races, convert to Islam in prison. I have always been inspired by converts since every conversion is a miracle, but seeing a hardened criminal accept Islam is something else. Only the true religion is able to cause genuine, lasting change in an individual in a short space of time.

The first word revealed in the Quran was “Read!” There is no life without reading. Reading beneficial writing is one of those pleasures that makes you forget you are in prison. During the last four years in prison I have travelled back in time and all over the world. I have visited Jerusalem during the Crusades. I have lived in Muslim Spain. I have accompanied African slaves as they were kidnapped by European slavemasters. I have shared in the suffering of the Native Indians in North America. And I have lived with leaders, hostages, death row inmates and journalists as their writings narrated to me their stories.

Yet all of these writings amount to nothing compared to the one book that has helped me through my ordeal the most: the Glorious Quran. It is my breakfast, lunch and dinner. If I do not read my daily portion at dawn, my heart feels heavy by mid-morning. The Quran is not just a book that mentions stories which are centuries old: it is a book that mentions the present. “We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention. Will you then not reason?” (Quran 21:10) Whosoever reads the Quran and reflects on it will find himself and his situation mentioned therein. This is only one of its many miracles.

Prison teaches you not to be judgemental of others, but to treat everyone at face value. When you deal with fellow prisoners you must deal with their present, not their past. That is the only way you will get through prison. Prison hardens you in some aspects, and softens you in others. It humbles you: laying bare your shortcomings. Since much of prison time is spent reflecting on your own past, all of your life’s wrongs come to the surface. Man cannot progress in life until he acknowledges his weaknesses and mistakes. Acknowledging that a problem exists is half of its solution.

Prison has taught me that there is a part of you that no-one can ever take from you, and that is your heart. For the heart is where true happiness resides. When you reach the stage where you are content with your destiny you have defeated your captors and become the most powerful prisoner in the world. This is what belief in Divine Destiny is all about. It is to be happy with whatever Allah has decreed for you: to be happy with your life, to be happy whether you are rich, poor, tall, short, dark or fair. When you are satisfied with your lot in life, you have won.

Every hardship is like being in prison. People feel imprisoned by ill-health, marital discord, financial insecurity, family disputes and other problems. To anyone who feels imprisoned by life’s problems I would say: be content with what you already have and never lose hope of things getting better. Be happy with your share because this is a quality of someone who truly loves Allah. When the Companion Muadh ibn Jabal (ra) was undergoing the pangs and agonies of death, he cried out, “O Allah! Bear witness that I love You, so do with me whatsoever You wish!”

I would never have wanted to come to prison, but, looking back at these four years, I am glad that I did. I have ventured close to breaking point but due to Allah’s Grace and the support of some wonderful people I have not yet crossed it. My ordeal has been harsh, difficult and exhausting, but it has also been an adventure. Some of the happiest days of my life have been in prison. I have had experiences in prison and met people that I will never forget.

The writer Mustapha Sadiq Ar-Rafei wrote, “When I looked into history I found a small number of individuals whose lives mirrored the lifecycle of a grain of wheat. They were torn from their roots, then crushed, then ground in mills, then kneaded with fists, then rolled out and baked in ovens at high temperatures… just so they could provide food for others.”

Patiently persevere in the face of hardship hoping for a good outcome because you never know how many dead hearts you will bring to life in the process. No hardship lasts forever. There is always an end.

Source: Emel magazine

By Samana Siddiqui

As Muslims, we should always remember that oft-repeated Dua recited after our daily prayers: “Our Lord give us good in this world and good in the Next world and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire”. This helps us choose priorities in life balanced between our Dunya and Akhirah. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Solidify your financial position

The global recession of the last two years has shattered hopes of economic security for most people the world over. Keeping in mind that Allah is the Provider (Ar-Razzaq), start off by making a deep, sincere Dua asking God to increase your earnings in a Halal way. That can mean different things. It can translate into taking on a second job in your spare time or encouraging your older children to look for work, especially in the summer. On a larger level, it can include starting your dream business or even working with an existing one to strengthen it with your skills and talent, if not your capital.

If you’re still in school, carefully consider your career path. While it’s important to be passionate about what you do, a certain level of financial security is important for everyone to reach their potential in life. Research hot and upcoming fields, like green and sustainable development in all sectors, which big corporations are also seeking to fill with qualified personnel. Then see if you can marry your passion with a solid profession.

Remember that even with dire news about t­­­­­­he shrinking job market, all Rizq, in all forms, is in the hands of Allah and He is in control of all things. We must do our part in thinking about the best way to earn that Rizq, then put our trust in Him to help us. And He will.

2. Cut down waste in all forms

Hand in hand with seeking financial security, we should resolve to cut all waste in our lives. Allah describes waste as a quality of Shaytan (Quran 17:26-7) and there are plenty of ways most of us engage in this. Whether it’s the countless plates of leftover food we throw out daily, the water we let run during overly long showers or all of the lights we leave on even when we’re not home. These “small” wastages total huge ones on a yearly basis and not only are they a spiritual drain, but a financial one as well. Wastefulness has become a lifestyle. Let’s change it step by step. Simple living is what the Prophet Muhammad practiced. Peace and blessings be upon him.

3. Reconsider what it means to be a citizen

Many of us, whether born in or naturalized in a country, often forget that “citizenship” is not just about rights, but duties as well. While it’s important to defend our rights, it’s also critical to do more than just pay our taxes and obey the law.

Muslims are encouraged to do not only good, but to strive towards what is best (Ihsan) in all aspects of our lives. That includes our community life, not only within the Muslim community, but in our country as well. This year, resolve to be a better citizen by committing to work for peace and justice at home and abroad. This can translate into joining a local peace and justice group, becoming a more frequent letter writer to your Congressperson or local media outlet, as well as participating in a neighborhood betterment association.

4. Reconnect with the teenager closest to you

Muslim youth, teenagers in specific, are facing tremendous challenges in America today. Muslim youth are the most angry and least happy as compared to the youth of other faith communities in the United States, according to one Gallup Poll.

This is why the older Muslims in their lives, whether they are parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents or others need to really start paying attention to them. The faith of our youth is at stake.

Start off with a weekly “date night”, one on one dinner and conversation at a favorite restaurant, at home or a favorite hangout. But one rule: no text messaging, games or cellphones for either of you allowed. You don’t have to talk about Islam and you shouldn’t initially. But the point is to express your love and affection for them, find out what they’re struggling with, as well as help steer them to the Straight Path with wisdom and beautiful preaching.

5. Support Muslim media

Some of us may have thrown a magazine or newspaper across the room upon reading Islamophobic material therein. Others of us may have even penned a couple of letters to the editor in response that may have been published. That’s great and it’s important to keep doing that.

However, if we truly want a Muslim voice that can reach an influential, as well as   a general audience, the key to that is supporting and improving on existing Muslim media. Last year, Islamica Magazine, an excellent scholarly and high quality publication, folded due to financial problems. That’s the death of not just any magazine. Rather, it’s the loss of a platform for the expression of Muslim voices that are not being heard by the mainstream. Other publications and media outlets (e.g. Sound Vision and Radio Islam) may not have folded, but they are definitely struggling and cannot continue their work without community support.

It’s become cliché in money-saving circles to say “skip the daily latte” to save money. We advise you to do the same and use the funds to support Muslim media.

6. Revive your relationship with the Masjid

Yes, the local Masjid is not always easy to attend. You haven’t gone there in years or if you do go, you offer a quick prayer and get out of there as fast as you can.

This year, try to revive your relationship with your local mosque, not for anyone but yourself. For now, focus not on their policies or politics. Use this premiere Islamic institution only to fortify your faith and connection to Allah. Attend Juma prayers, make sure to pray the extra prayers offered upon entering the Masjid (Tahiyyatul Masjid) and if you’re nearby during the weekdays, try to catch the congregational prayer there.

There is a power in a place dedicated to the worship of God which is simply absent when you pray in your cubicle at work or a stairwell in the corner of a school hallway. While prayers there are accepted, the Masjid offers you a sense of peace and security essential for spiritual development and advancement.

If your local Masjid is a place you’d still rather avoid, consider frequenting one close to work or school. The point is to reconnect with a House of God.

7. Help someone get married

Some of us balk at such an awesome task, a move which Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, described as “half of faith”. But given the fact that finding the right life partner is getting harder for a host of reasons, take it upon yourself to help a fellow Muslim get married this year.

It doesn’t call for opening up your own marriage bureau (although you can always direct someone to one if they’re interested). All it requires is for you to consider it your personal responsibility, especially if you yourself are married, and even more so if you are happily married. After all, shouldn’t we love for our brother/sister what we love for ourselves? Also, as a married person, you’ve got a pool of potential candidates via your spouse that can match up with your own friends. If the process is done with dignity and discretion and results in marriage, not only will you help someone settle down in life, but you’ll reap its spiritual benefits as well.

Source: Sound Vision

By Fasiha Khan

It is a widely discussed, mulled-over, mutilated, and excessively groaned-about topic. I speak of the case of the serious and unfortunate event of Spinsterhood.

For the average Muslim girl, it seems the expectation is that she enter the marriage market at eighteen, with all the prospects that a young, fresh, nubile thing can afford, hoping to land a tidy end-of-story by the time she finishes undergrad. Once she graduates (and remains single), she may manage to stave off questions and expectations of marriage if she enters grad school (highly unlikely). If she starts work after graduation, then the next logical question is, “Well, she’s gotten an education and is working. What is there left for her to do but get married?” What’s left, indeed.

Her friends get engaged, and it’s exciting. Aunties ask her, “When’s it your turn?” She laughs graciously and shrugs unconcerned because she can. One by one, more friends and acquaintances get hitched and the smiles become more stilted, her expression less optimistic, and her chin inches up a notch. She develops a fierce phobia of pity and a hypersensitive awareness of being judged. (If she’s lucky) people think better than to ask because it’s not a funny joke anymore. The non-verbalized query becomes, “No, I’m serious, what’s going on with you? Why aren’t you getting married?” Boys her age follow suit (ouch) and younger, more nubile, fresher things enter the mix (competition is stiff!).

And then, she’s left ruminating over how and when she got passed over.

I submit that this unhealthy exercise is just that. This type of situation can be a particularly trying period in a woman’s life, a time of in-betweens, what-ifs, how-comes, and why-me’s. Insecurity ( “I’m fat”) tangos with disillusionment ( “Why aren’t I appreciated for…?”) and bitterness ( “What does she have that I don’t?”). Low self-esteem, excess stress, sporadic man-hating, minimal trust in God, and pettiness abound. These approaches are a disservice to the integrity and value of this girl having a crisis of self-worth. Everything she is, has accomplished, learned, and contributed should never be diminished by the petty weight of her single status. Sainthood is an aspiration. Motherhood is an honor. Robin Hood is super cool. Spinsterhood is a joke.

God has already written if and when each of us is finding our partner in life — neither these words nor this good fellow can be erased from our futures; the pen has been lifted, the ink has dried. We live by our own timelines and no one else’s. It’s not because you aren’t pretty enough, nice enough, smart enough, thin enough — it is not because you are not enough. It doesn’t matter how many people things didn’t work out with, it only needs to work out with one, the right one. Everyone you know can get married eons before you, but Mr. Took-His-Time will stroll into your life at exactly the moment that is perfect, because he is perfect for you, and no one else. This is neither a criticism against marrying young nor an exhortation to delay marriage. It is an appeal to my sisters to appreciate themselves before someone loves them for their true worth. Whether or whenever that is.

Source: Muslim Contributor

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