An African Imam Breaks Ground In Mecca

22 04 2009

 

 

 

 

 

African Imam

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

By ROBERT F. WORTH
Published: April 10, 2009

TWO years ago, Sheik Adil Kalbani dreamed that he had become an imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city.

Waking up, he dismissed the dream as a temptation to vanity. Although he is known for his fine voice, Sheik Adil is black, and the son of a poor immigrant from the Persian Gulf. Leading prayers at the Grand Mosque is an extraordinary honor, usually reserved for pure-blooded Arabs from the Saudi heartland.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/11/world/middleeast/11saudi.html?_r=1

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Respecting Our Differences

15 03 2008
“Waste no time debating what a good Muslim should be. Be one!”

by Muhammad Alshareef

Imam Malik one day entered the Masjid after Asr. Towards the front of Masjid An-Nabawee he drew closer and sat down. Rasul Allah had commanded that anyone who enters the Masjid should not sit until he first prays 2 rakas as a salutation of the Masjid. Imam Malik was of the opinion however that Rasul Allah’s forbiddance of praying after Asr took precedence and so he would teach his students to not pray the tahiyyatul Masjid if they entered between the Asr and Maghrib time.

At that moment that Imam Malik sat down, a young boy had seen him sit without first praying the 2 raka’s of Tahiyyatul Masjid. The young boy scorned him, “Get up and pray 2 rakas!”

Imam Malik dutifully stood up once again and began praying the 2 rakas. The students sat stunned: What was going on? Had Imam Malik’s opinion changed? After he had completed the salah, the students swarmed around and questioned his actions. Imam Malik said, “My opinion has not changed, nor have I gone back on what I taught you earlier. I merely feared that had I not prayed the 2 rakas as the young boy commanded, Allah may include me in the Ayah…

“And when it is said to them, ‘Bow (in prayer)’, they do not bow.” – al mursalat 77/48.

Imam Ahmad held the opinion that eating camel meat nullifies ones Wudhu, an opinion that the majority of scholars differed from. Some students asked him, “If you find an Imam eating camel meat in front of you and – without first making Wudu – then leads the Salah, would you pray behind him?” Imam Ahmad replied, “Do you think I would not pray behind the likes of Imam Malik and Sa’eed ibn Al-Musayyab?”

Allah created humans with differences. It is the law of creation. Different tongues, different colors, different cultures…all that on the outside. On the inside, humans were created with many degrees of knowledge, intellect, and comprehension of concepts. This is all a sign of Allah’s all encompassing power to do whatever He wills:

“And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are signs for those who know.” [30:22]

Humans shall differ, that is not the issue. The issue is: How as a Muslim should one confront these differences of opinions and what should be our relationship with someone of a different opinion.

Allah ta’ala commanded us to call and advise people in this Deen of Al-Islam. Many Muslims set off on this mission blindfolded, not realizing that the map was there in the Qur’an also. In fact, in the very same verse where Allah commanded us to call and advise people in this Deen, Allah taught us how to do it. Read the following verse carefully:

“Invite (fi’l Amr – Allah is commanding) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction and argue with them in a way that is best! ” – Surah An-Nahl 16/125.

There is no need to philosophize. No need to talk in the flower gardens. It is right there, plain and simple for anyone who would take heed.

There in that Ayah are the three ingredients to apply when we disagree with someone. The same Allah that taught us to debate the truth, taught us how to do it:

1 – With Hikmah (wisdom)
2 – With good instruction, and
3 – To argue in a way that is best.

What does it mean to have Hikmah when differing with someone? The grandsons of Rasul Allah(saw) once set one of the most beautiful examples of Hikmah in advising others. Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn – in their young age – once saw a senior man performing Wudu incorrectly. Together they arranged a plan to teach the man without insulting him, advising him in a manner befitting of his age.

Together they went to the senior and announced, “My brother and I have differed over who amongst us performs Wudu the best. Would you mind being the judge to determine which one of us indeed performs Wudu more correctly.”

The man watched intently as the two grandsons of Rasul Allah performed Wudu in an explicit manner. After they had completed, he thanked them and said, “By Allah, I did not know how to perform Wudu before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly.”

We must understand that there are two dimensions to Hikmah. Firstly, there is the Hikmah of knowledge – Hikmah Ilmiyyah. And secondly, there is the Hikmah of Action – Hikmah Amaliyyah.

Some people may have Hikmah of knowledge. But we see that when they try correcting others, advising them, they lack the Hikmah of Action. This causes many a common folk to reject the Hikmah of knowledge.

To illustrate this hikmah of knowledge without Hikmah of action, a brother once completed the Salah in a local Masjid and then proceeded to shake hands with the people on his right and left. The brother to his immediate right slapped his hand and snapped, “That is not part of the Sunnah!” The man replied most correctly, “Oh, is disrespect and insult part of the Sunnah?”

To show Hikmah when we differ requires the following:

Sincerity

One: If we differ, our intentions should be that we are differing in the sincere hope of coming away with the truth. Our intentions should be sincere to Allah.

We should not differ just to release some hate or envy in our heart. We should not differ to embarrass someone like we may have been embarrassed.

Rasul Allah said, “Whoever learns knowledge – knowledge from that which should be sought for the sake of Allah – only to receive a commodity of the material world, he shall not find the fragrance of jannah on the day of resurrection.” – An authentic hadith narrated by Abu Dawood in Kitab Al-Ilm.

Kindness and Gentleness

Two: To have Hikmah when differing means we should rarely depart from an atmosphere of kindness and gentleness, we should seldom allow ourselves to become angry and raise our voices.

Fir’own (Pharaoh) was one of the evilest people that lived. Musa was one of the noblest. Look at how Allah told Musa to advise Fir’own…

“Go, both of you, to Fir’own. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech, perhaps he may remember or fear (Allah).”

A man once entered upon the Khalifah and chastised him for some policies he had taken. The Khalifah replied, “By Allah, Fir’own was more eviler than me. And by Allah, Musa was more pious than you. Yet, Allah commanded him…’And speak to him with gentle speech, perhaps he may remember or fear (Allah).'”

Take Your Time and Clarify

Three: To have Hikmah when dealing with others is to be patient and clarify things before snapping to conclusions.

Imam Ahmad narrates with his chain of narrators leading to Ibn Abbas who said, “A man from Bani Saleem passed by a group of the Prophet’s companions. (At that time of war) The man said ‘as salamu alaykum’ to them. The companions concluded that he only said ‘as salamu alaykum’ to them as a deception to save himself from being caught. They surrounded him and Malham ibn Juthaamah killed him. From that event Allah revealed the verse…

“O you who have believed, when you go forth (to fight) in the cause of Allah, investigate, and do not say to one who gives you (a greeting of peace), “You are not a believer,” Aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You (yourselves) were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor (i.e. guidance) upon you, so investigate. Indeed, Allah is ever with what you do, acquainted.” – Surah AnNisa, 4/94. From Tafseer Ibn Katheer.

Speak Kindly

Fourthly, never trade in kind words for harshness, especially when dealing with other Muslims.

Look at the power of a sincere and polite word: Mus’ab ibn Umayr was the first of ambassador of Rasul Allah in Madinah. Before Rasul Allah had arrived in Madinah, Mus’ab taught ahl al-Madinah about Islam and they began to enter the Deen.

This enraged Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah, one of the chieftains of Madinah. He sheathed his sword and set off for the head of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr. When he confronted Mus’ab he threatened, “Stop this nonsense you speak or you shall find yourself dead!”

Mus’ab replied in the way that should be a lesson for us all. This man before him did not stop at rudeness and ignorance, he wanted to slit his throat.

Mus’ab said, “Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If you agree with what I say then take it, and if not, we shall desist from this talk.” Sa’d sat down.

Mus’ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa’d ibn Ubaadah’s face shone like a full moon and he said, “What should a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?” After Mus’ab had told him he said, “There is a man, if he accepts this Deen, there shall be no home in Madinah that will not become Muslim. Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh.”

When Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh heard what was happening, he was infuriated. He left his home to go and kill this man called Mus’ab ibn Umayr for the dissention he had caused. He entered upon Mus’ab and announced, “You shall desist of this religion you speak of or you shall find yourself dead!”

Mus’ab replied, “Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If you agree with what I say then take it, and if not, I shall desist from this talk.” Sa’d sat.

Mus’ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh’s face shone like a full moon and he said, “What should a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?”

Look at what a kind word did. Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh went home to his Madinan tribe that night and announced to them all, “Everything of yours is Haram upon me until you all enter into Islam.”

That night, every home in Madinah went to bed with Laa ilaaha illa Allah…all because of a kind word.

Part II: Who wins?

Mu’aawiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Salami. When he came to Madeenah from the desert, he did not know that it was forbidden to speak during the salaah. He relates: “Whilst I was praying behind the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man sneezed, so I said ‘Yarhamuk Allaah (may Allaah have mercy on you).’ The people glared at me, so I said, ‘May my mother lose me! What is wrong with you that you are looking at me?’ They began to slap their thighs with their hands, and when I saw that they were indicating that I should be quiet, I stopped talking (i.e., I nearly wanted to answer them back, but I controlled myself and kept quiet).

When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had finished praying – may my father and mother be sacrificed for him, I have never seen a better teacher than him before or since – he did not scold me or hit me or put me to shame. He just said, ‘This prayer should contain nothing of the speech of men; it is only tasbeeh and takbeer and recitation of the Qur’aan.'” (Saheeh Muslim, ‘Abd al-Baaqi edn., no. 537).

Islam showed us how to differ with one another. Some people think that we should never differ at all and all disagreements should be avoided. Nay, this is an incorrect assumption, for the Qur’an and Sunnah show clearly that when a mistake is made it should be corrected. Indeed helping others do what is right is a requirement of the Deen, sincere Naseeha.

We see when Rasul Allah turned away from AbdAllah ibn Umm Maktoom, the blind man, Allah corrected him in the Qur’an…

“(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, Because there came to him the blind man But what could tell you that perchance he might become pure (from sins)? Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him?” – surah Abasa, 1-4

When Haatib ibn Abi Balta’ah (may Allaah be pleased with him) made the mistake of writing to the kuffaar of Quraysh and informing them of the direction in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was headed on a military campaign against them, Allaah revealed the words:

“O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies as friends…” – Surah Mumtahinah/1

And so on. Thus we learn that when a mistake happens it should be corrected. However, the method of correction is what needs our attention. Whenever Muslims argue, it is as if each party carries a banner of: ‘I must win and you must lose!’ Careful study of the Sunnah however shows us that this is not always the case with the way Rasul Allah acted. Consider the following examples:

“I lose and you win!”

A Bedouin came to Rasul Allah and told him, “Give me from what Allah gave you, not from the wealth of your mother nor from the wealth of your father.” The Sahaabah were furious at the man and step forward to discipline him for what he said. Rasul Allah commanded everyone to leave him.

Then by the hand, Rasul Allah took him home, opened his door and said, “Take what you wish and leave what you wish.” The man did so and after he completed, Rasul Allah asked him, “Have I honored you?” “Yes, by Allah,” said the Bedouin. “Ash hadu an laa ilaaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah.” (Meaning he embraced Islam)

When the Sahabah heard of how the man changed, Rasul Allah taught them. “Verily the example of myself, you and this Bedouin is that of a man who had his camel run away. The townspeople tried capturing the camel for him by running and shouting after the camel, only driving it further away. The man would shout, ‘Leave me and my camel, I know my camel better.’ Then he took some grass in his hand, ruffled it in front of the camel, until it came willingly.

‘By Allah, had I left you to this Bedouin, you would have hit him, hurt him, he would have left without Islam and eventually have entered hellfire.”

“I win and you lose!”

A Muslim should not have an apologetic stance to everything he is confronted with. There are times when the truth must be said, when there is no room for flattery.

When the Makhzoomi women – a women from an affluent family – stole, people approached Rasul Allah to have her punishment canceled. Rasul Allah became very angry and stood on the pulpit and announced, “By Allah, had Fatima the daughter of Muhammad stole I would have cut her hand off.”

No room for flattery, the truth must be stood up for. It is here that the etiquette of disagreement that we talked earlier about should shine.

“I win and you win!”

There doesn’t always have to be a loser. We see in many cases that Rasul Allah gave a way out for the people he differed with. When he sent the letter to Caesar, he said in it, “Become Muslim and you shall be safe, Allah shall give you your reward double!”

He did not say surrender or die! Nothing of the sort. Become Muslim and you shall win, rather your victory shall be double.

I shall end with this shining example of how to act with other Muslims from our role model, Abu Bakr:

Abu Bakr once disputed with another companion about a tree. During the dispute Abu Bakr said something that he rather would not have said. He did not curse, he did not attack someone’s honor, he did not poke a fault in anyone, all he said was something that may have hurt the other companion’s feelings.

Immediately, Abu Bakr – understanding the mistake – ordered him, “Say it back to me!” The companion said, “I shall not say it back.” “Say it back to me,” said Abu Bakr, “Or I shall complain to the Messenger of Allah.” The companion refused to say it back and went on his way.

Abu Bakr went to Rasul Allah and related what had happened and what he said. Rasul Allah called that companion and asked him, “Did Abu Bakr say so and so to you?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “What did you reply.” He said, “I did not reply it back to him.” Rasul Allah said, “Good, do not reply it back to him (do not hurt Abu Bakr). Rather say, ‘May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!'” The Companion turned to Abu Bakr and said, “May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!” Abu Bakr turned and cried as he walked away. Let us leave today with a resolve to revive this air Rasul Allah and his companions breathed, an air of mercy and love and brotherhood.

http://english.islamway.com/bindex.php?section=article&id=254





My Ramadan Diary: Days 1-2

14 09 2007

Well, it’s about three hours until time to break the fast here. I would be lying if I said I’m not feeling the effects (ie. hunger, thirst, sure to be followed by some light-headedness and maybe a little nausea).  However, today has been easier than yesterday.I find that the first three to five days are the most difficult. After that, the going without food and water part of fasting gets easier. The body adjusts.

The greater struggle, the one that does not wear off in three to five days, is the struggle to control the words we speak and the deeds we do.  Which is just as important as giving up the physical.  As the Prophet (saw) said: Narrarated by Abu Huraira:

Whoever does not give up false statements (ie.telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking badly then Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink. (Bukhari)

That is the real test. People can be annoying under the best circumstances but on and empty stomach it’s even easier to lose control of your tongue and say something out of anger. 

I have found the best remedy for both struggles is the rememberance of Allah. Keeping myself busy reading the Qur’an, doing dhikr, attending my online Islamic classes, and just generally using the time to reflect on my life and ways to improve myself.  Fasting seems to bring even more clarity to self evaluations.

It’s difficult to explain but knowing that over 1 billion people are fasting along with me is also quite uplifting. I love the unity of it. In some parts of the world now, people are just beginning their fast. Perhaps someone is reading this while partaking of suhoor.  Somewhere else others are breaking their fast, perhaps organizing an iftar for the local muslims or sitting down for a meal with their family. Then, there are people like me in the middle of fasting, closing in on time for iftar, trying to get as much benefit as possible and not think about the hunger. 😀 We are all in various stages of our fasting but all united in our goal. It’s truly beautiful. A mercy from Allah.





More on Muslims 9/11, Terrorism, Bin Laden Video

12 09 2007

ISLAM-OPED: 9/11 EVOKES PAINFUL MEMORIES FOR U.S. MUSLIM – TOP

ISLAM-OPED is a national syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

CONTACT: ihooper@cair.com
TEL: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726 (c)

Please consider the following commentary for publication.

ISLAM-OPED: 9/11 EVOKES PAINFUL MEMORIES FOR U.S. MUSLIM
By Danette Zaghari-Mask
WORD COUNT: 471

[Danette Zaghari-Mask is executive director of the Orlando chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Orlando). CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. Contact her at: dmask@cair.com For a photo, see: http://www.cair.com/Chapters.aspx#Orlando]

On the anniversary of 9/11, the memory of those once full of life evoke painful thoughts. I cringe at the panic that they must have endured, and join the mourning of fellow Americans who lost loved ones.

Even if we did not know someone directly effected by the tragedy, we know where we were when the towers fell or when the Pentagon was hit.
I delivered my first child 13 days after 9/11. In the days leading up to his birth, I wept.

I wept as a human, as an American and as a Muslim sickened by the reports of militants who claimed “victory” under the banner of Islam.
I gave birth and then cried as a mother for having endured, only to bring a new life into such a troubled world.

Since that time, opportunities have arisen to speak to my fellow Americans about Islam and Muslims. I, like millions of Muslims across the world, stood in solidarity against terrorism and a firm conviction that Islam, by its very definition, rejects terrorism.
Islam is an Arabic word that translates as “peace through submission to God.”

Those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks did not discriminate between people of different faiths; rather, they discriminated against every person who did not submit to their twisted ideology.

The perpetrators of 9/11, and those with an agenda to silence the moderate Muslim majority, want us all to believe that Islam itself is the instigator of terror. If we can defeat those ideas in our own minds, we can defeat the mesmerizing effect of those who seek interfaith division and discord.

There are an estimated 1.2 billion Muslims in the world who overwhelmingly desire peace and look to Islam for inspiration.

I am teaching my son the Quran, the Muslim holy book. He is learning that if someone kills another it is “as though he has slain all mankind, and he who saved one life should be regarded as though he has saved the lives of all mankind” (5:32).

He is learning the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad: “The best jihad is saying a word of truth in the court of an unjust ruler” and a believer is one “in whom all of mankind has a sanctuary for its life and property.”

Today, I have more optimism and more reasons to be hopeful than six years ago.
My son celebrated his birthday early this year with contagious courage and spirit. His smile is so wide I think sometimes it will touch the creases of his brown eyes.

He and all of our children are, after all, the possibility beyond the borderline that creates “us” and “them.” The memory of 9/11 motivates me to raise my son to achieve his full potential.

Our children are seeds of peace and, with the right nurturing, future friends of peace.

—–

CAIR: U.S. MUSLIM GROUP BLASTS BIN LADEN VIDEO – TOP
United Press International, 9/11/07
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/09/11/us_muslim_group_blasts_bin_laden_video/6189/

A Washington-based U.S. Muslim advocacy group Tuesday condemned a new video in which Osama bin Laden praises a Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist.

Posted on Islamic Web sites, the video does not show bin Laden but has a still photo of the al-Qaida founder and about 14 minutes of bin Laden purportedly talking about one of the hijackers.

Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the hijackings and the suicide airliner attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington six years ago.

“The despicable actions of the 9/11 hijackers should be repudiated by all Muslims, not praised as examples to follow,” a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations said. “There can be no moral, ethical or religious justification for such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians. CAIR joins with Americans of all faiths in mourning the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and asks that we all use today’s anniversary to enhance our efforts to repudiate religious extremism and to promote mutual understanding.” (MORE)

SEE ALSO:

CAIR-NY: MUSLIMS MOURN 9/11 VICTIMS – TOP

(NEW YORK, NY, 9/11/2007) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) participated in a moment of silence for the victims of the 9/11 attacks at Sunday’s “Muslim Day Parade” in that city.

Hundreds marched down Madison Avenue to celebrate their commitment to interfaith peace and tolerance. CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif joined Senator Bill Perkins, Councilmember Robert Jackson and other community leaders to address parade attendees.

“CAIR-NY mourns with all Americans over the tragedy at Ground Zero,” said CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza Ali. “We send our sincere condolences to the families of 9/11 victims. Their loved ones will not be forgotten.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212-870-2002, 732-429-4268, alatif@cair.com

CAIR-AZ: READERS REFLECT ON LIFE 6 YEARS AFTER 9/11 – TOP
Arizona Republic, 9/11/07
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/0911911reflections.html

Initially, Fawzia Tung didn’t think the attacks on Sept. 11 really affected her life. She was wrong. She soon realized it had a big impact on the way she viewed her religion.

Tung, 50, is a Chinese Muslim living in Phoenix and working for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But it was only after the attacks that Tung unconsciously took her life down a more politically active path.

At the time of the attacks, Tung was a stay-at-home mom to seven children. She felt very free living in the U.S., able to practice her faith openly. She had no qualms about wearing her scarf in public because nobody paid any notice. But things changed the day the four planes crashed.

“Right after it happened, I was terribly conscious I was wearing a scarf,” she said. “I felt like everybody was looking at me.”

Her husband urged her to stay home if she could. He would do the grocery shopping, a monumental offer. For Tung, it was stay home or heed her husband’s advice to go out without her scarf, an option she had never until that moment considered.

“I know a number of friends who took it (the scarf) off right after 9/11,” she said.

Tung was conflicted. She always considered her relationship with Allah a private one. But her scarf became a symbol in the wake of the attacks.

“It was never a social thing before. All of a sudden it became something different,” Tung said.

A woman at a garage sale told Tung she supported her and held no ill will toward Muslims.

She decided to stand tall for her religion. Tung went to work at an Islamic school and later joined the staff at CAIR.

Looking back, Tung believes the social effects of the attacks had a positive influence on her.

“I didn’t do anything particularly Islamic before that,” she said. “I was just living my life.”

CAIR: A HIJACKED IDENTITY: MUSLIM AMERICAN REFLECTS ON SEPT. 11 – TOP
National Public Radio, 9/11/07

LISTEN: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14318955

The events of Sept. 11 changed the lives of many Americans, including American Muslims. Arsalan Iftikhar, a regular contributor, and former representative to the Council on American Islamic Relations, explains how the attacks impacted his work as a spokesman for Muslim Americans in the national media.

CAIR-CA REP REFLECTS ON EFFECTS OF 9/11 – TOP
Munira Syeda, Orange County Register, 9/11/07
http://www.ocregister.com/life/style-span-font-1840625-bold-weight

Scurrying about my Berkeley apartment six years ago, I was preparing to leave for a journalism conference in Lake Tahoe. I turned on the TV, and noticed morning news programs running footage of the collapsing Twin Towers. On first impulse, I dismissed the coverage as a faraway international disaster.

Soon, reality hit me. Grief over loss of 3,000 innocent lives replaced indifference, and then quickly gave way to fear. I cringed, secretly praying – God, don’t let it be Muslims. Before long, America learned al-Qaida was behind the attacks.

Over the years, I have spent considerable time educating co-workers, friends and strangers about the basic tenets of Islam, its principles of respect, brotherhood, establishment of human rights and peace and justice. However, I have also observed tremendous backlash against all things Muslim.

From prejudice to discrimination to outright hatred, the American Muslim community has been targeted frequently by a minority who view American Muslims as the “other.” In fact, a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted last year shows strong feelings against Muslims. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents claimed having at least some prejudice toward Muslims. Another estimated 40 percent also favored having Muslims bear special identification to prevent future terror attacks on our soil.

Despite that, there also has been much support and sympathy offered to the Muslim community after 9/11. Japanese Americans, the Latino and African American communities, Christian, Jewish and other faith observers have stood by Muslims during difficult times. They too had personally experienced, or witnessed discrimination and prejudice promoted against various other minorities. Native Americans were driven out of their homeland, Blacks were enslaved and segregated against, and Japanese Americans were interned. As new immigrants, Jews, Asians, Italians and Catholics weren’t treated any better either.

As I write this column, I ponder the post 9/11 world we live in. I think about the irrational fear that has gripped us and impacts our judgment. The continued civil rights violations and the controversial Patriot Act, the aggressive call for profiling of Muslims and Arabs at airports and other places, the misadventure in Iraq, and the political turmoil the Bush Administration is embroiled in are all examples of this fear.

We proudly claim how 9/11 has not changed us or our values. Let us look around, though. We are now a nation consumed by an alarming level of polarization. The Democrat and the Republican split, the pro-war/anti-war camps, and the conservative versus liberal factions are a symptom of the deeper unrest and anxiety challenging our society.

Nonetheless, I believe in America as a great country for not only Muslims but people of all backgrounds and colors. Our nation’s greatness lies in the founding principles of pluralism, inclusion and equality for all.

Americans used to converse with each other. We used to dialogue. Now, we bicker. We compete in who can shout louder. We feel so threatened by the other side that we quickly attempt to silence it.

We must change our ways. We must make a concerted effort to change our un-American policies and attitudes. Otherwise, we will have allowed al-Qaida to redefine America, and not for the better.

[Munira Syeda is Communications Coordinator for Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area.]

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CAIR CONDEMNS BIN LADEN’S PRAISE FOR 9/11 HIJACKER
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/11/07) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned a new video by Osama bin Laden in which the terror leader eulogizes a 9/11 hijacker.

In a statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:

“The despicable actions of the 9/11 hijackers should be repudiated by all Muslims, not praised as examples to follow. There can be no moral, ethical or religious justification for such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians. CAIR joins with Americans of all faiths in mourning the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and asks that we all use today’s anniversary to enhance our efforts to repudiate religious extremism and to promote mutual understanding. ”

CAIR issued a joint American Muslim statement of condemnation within hours of the 9/11 attacks and published a similar statement in a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post just days later.

SEE: CAIR Full Page Advertisement, Sunday, September 16, 2001, Washington Post
SEE ALSO: U.S. Muslims Repudiate Rhetoric, Worldview of Al-Qaeda (CAIR)

To read about CAIR’s other anti-terror initiatives, go to:
http://www.cair.com/AmericanMuslims/AntiTerrorism.aspx

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 33 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

– END –





On Ramadan and Moon Sighting

9 09 2007

Inevitabley, every year the Muslims (at least those of us in the West) fall into debating and confusion about the beginning of Ramadan.  Thus, I thought it would serve some benefit to post this article on the subject. Insh’Allah it will bring more clarity and is written in a way that is both understandable and backed up with evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Of course, there are different opinions and something tells me individuals will follow whichever one they deem correct.  Nonetheless, I’m posting this here for those who want to get the benefit.

Question: What is the ruling on moon sighting during Ramadan? What about ISNA’s new practice?

To hear the answer, click on this link:

http://www.adly.net/QBoard/index.htm

click zidan then click isna to listen

Also Shaykh Ibrahim has written the following concerning the decision of ISNA. Shaykh Ibrahim Zidan lectures regularly at our website and is also a member of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in North America.

Why Muslims should look for the Moon and not calculations for calendar.

In recent years before Ramadan, Muslims in different states are in confusion on whether they should go by the Moon sighting or by using astronomical calculations. The reasons for this confusion are many, and that is not the purpose of this article, instead the purpose of this article is to see the clear evidences that using astronomical calculations instead of depending on Moon sightings is a major error that would lead to even things that are worst.

First, we need to agree on some principals:

1-        The sources of Tashree’ legislation in Islam are the Quran, the Sunnah, and Ijmaa’ consensus. These three principals are agreed upon among all Muslim Scholars.

2-        To Say that something is not valid, it has to fulfill three conditions:

a.        It is forbidden in the Shariah.
b.        The Shariah came with the obligation to do what is opposite.
c.        The Shariah didn’t order such a thing when there was the need for it at the time of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy wa Sallam.

3-        In matter of disputes and differences of opinions, we have no choice but to return to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam.

Allah Says: “ O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam, and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and suitable for final determination.” (3:59).

Using one’s personal intelligence, opinions or any other thing are not valid when the matter has been decided in the Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam.

4-        The only way Muslims would unite (which is a goal and a hope of every Muslim) is to Follow the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam, the way it was applied by the companions of the The Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam.

As Muslims, we believe that the companions of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam were the best generation ever brought to mankind, and the only way for the later generations to gain the pleasure of Allah is to follow the way of the companions may Allah be pleased with them.

Allah says: “ And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and also those who followed them exactly. Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flows to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (9:100)

If we agree on these principals (and we should agree), then it is not appropriate down the line to do opposite to what these principals are stating.

Let’s look at the issue of astronomical calculations.

Since the time of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam till now, the way Muslims start and end the month of Ramadan is by sighting the moon. In recent years, some called for using astronomical calculations to determine the beginning of Ramadan, it started by just using the calculations to deny the sighting if it was impossible according to the calculations for the moon to be sighted, but not to be used in determining the beginning or the ending of the month. Then recently, things started to change, and now there is a call to use solely calculations instead of the moon sighting. It is the consensus of the Ulama (scholars) that this is not permissible to use astronomical calculations to determine the beginning or the ending of the Lunar months because of the following reasons:

1.        None of the Hadiths related to the matter ordered or recommended to use calculations, although the need for it was there at the time of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam, and the calculation was present at the time.

Some people think that calculation is a scientific phenomenon that was discovered recently, which is a misconception. Calculations were present at the time of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam and He still refused to use it and said:

“ We are illiterate nation; we neither write, nor know accounts. The month is like this and this, i.e. sometimes 29 days and sometimes 30” (Bukhari – Book of Saum 1799).

Some say that when the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam said “ When you see the crescent start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of Shawaal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see it) then Faqdoro lah regard the crescent (month) of Ramdan (as of 30 days)” (Bukhary and others), that the word “Faqdoro lah” (regard the crescent) means you can use calculations. This is false since the Prophet himself explained the meaning of this word by stating to let the month be 30 days. And Allah Says in the Quran:

“O you who believe. Make not a decision in advance before Allah and His Messenger and fear Allah. Verily Allah is All-Hearing, All-knowing” (49:1).

2.        It is clear that the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam forbade his Ummah from depending on calculations to determine the beginning of the month. This is clear in the Hadith mentioned earlier

“ We are illiterate nation; we neither write, nor know accounts. The month is like this and this, i.e. sometimes 29 days and sometimes 30” (Bukhari – Book of Saum 1799).

The Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam said in the Hadith clearly “la Nahsib” means that we don’t count (in matter related to lunar months) because the Ummah of the Prophet know how to count and some know how to write, so it is not stating a fact but rather directing the Ummah and forbidding them to use calculations for determining the beginning and the ending of the months. And it means that we are an illiterate Ummah with regarding to matter of the religion, the religion is very easy and does not need scientific discoveries and calculations for matters of worship. The illiterate mentioned in the Hadith does not mean that we as Muslims should be illiterate! Off course not, and it doesn’t mean that it is a fact that we are an illiterate Ummah because the facts denies this, but rather it means that we as Muslims should not use scientific means to determine the month since the Hadith is dealing with this subject. Ibn Hajar May Allah have Mercy on him said in explanation of this Hadith: “The Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam made the ruling of fasting depends on the eyesight to make easy for his people since calculation might be difficult for them and the ruling stayed the same even if people after them they knew calculations good, since the context means to forbade calculations all together, and the other Hadith “Faqdoro lah”(regard for the crescent) that he said to make it 30 days and didn’t order the people to use calculations, because that would diminish the differences and disputes among the people”. It shows clearly in his words that it is not permissible to take calculations and leave what the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam ordered, otherwise it brings disputes among the Muslims.

3.        The Sahriah clearly ordered the opposite of calculations.

The Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam Said: If you see it (The moon) then fast, and if you don’t see it then do not fast” and this is a clear order to do the opposite to what some are calling to use calculations. And if calculation was a mean of determination, the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam would have ordered or recommended it, since He didn’t leave his Ummah unless he showed them all that is good for them and also what is evil for them. The matter is not something new, but rather it is something that was present at the time of the Prophet and he still ordered to look for the moon and to avoid calculations.

4.        The Hadith that states that we are an illiterate Ummah is in the context of being proud that matters of our worship and things in the religion we do not need scientific discoveries to perfect our worship but rather it is such an easy way of life that even the simple man that doesn’t know much can still follow the religion in the most perfect way.

5.        We as Muslims should have our unique ways because it is forbidden for us to imitate the non Muslims. And you can see that, in the life of the Prophet and also in the Hadith above.

6.        Looking for the moon is part of our religion, it is only the witness of one person that is trustworthy that makes the Muslims starts their month of Fasting. Notice how Allah has made it easy, while in other matters like Zina (fornication) Allah made it very difficult for the witnessing to be taken legally, it has to be by 4 people seeing the exact act itself, which in most cases makes it impossible. Allah is the Most Wise, so we need to see the wisdom of Allah in all of matters of the religion.

7.        The Sayings of the Ulamaa of this Ummah with regarding to the calculations:

a.        It is been reported the Ijmaa’ Consensus among the scholars of the early generations of Islam that determining the beginning of the month using the astronomical calculations is not permissible, this Ijmaa’ was reported by Ibn Taymiah, Ibn Almunthir, Ibn A’bdeen and Ibn Rushd.

b.        Those who said that it is permissible to use calculations, with the differences of whether to use it without conditions or only at certain situations when the skies have overcast, and some said only in denying a claim that the Moon had been sited and not for the determination of the beginning of the month. These Scholars are said to be: Ibn Suraij, Muttarif ibn Ashekheir, Ibn Qutaiba and among the later generations Ibn Assubky. Ibn Suraij reported from Imam Ashafei’ that he mentioned the permissibility of using the calculations at time of overcast.

This last claim the Ulama of the Shafei’ school of thought denied that Imam Ashafei’ said that, as it was said by Ibn Hajar and Ibn Abdel Barr. As we see that there is a mistake in reporting the opinions of those who say that it is permissible. Sheikh Bakr AbuZaid said when wrote about the matter: “What has been reported from Imam Ashafei’ is wrong, Ibn Suraij was wrong in reporting it, so as a result it is wrong to say that Ibn Suraij had that opinion since he based his opinion on the opinion of his Imam “Ashafi’ May Allah have mercy on them. And the rest Assubki and others they built their evidences accordingly, which shows that it is all invalid”. Ibn Taymeiah May Allah have mercy on him said: “If that is true (some Ulama said it is ok to use calculations) then this is from the mistakes of the Ulama”.

Therefore the Consensus is still in place, and it is not permissible to break the consensus among the Ulama of this Umma. And it is not permissible for someone to say: since there is differences in opinions we can choose whatever we like. This is a deviant way with dealing with the text of the Sharia’ because Allah Ta’ala ordered us in times of differences to refer back to Allah and His Messenger and not the differences of opinions.

Allah says” And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and suitable for final determination.” (3:59).

8.        The calculations only determine without certainty, the time when the new moon is born and not when to be seen. There is big difference between the two. The Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam ordered us to see the moon, and seeing is something different that the moon to be born. The moon can be already born but cannot be seen. So according to calculations, people will start the fast when according to the order of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam it is not time yet, because it cannot be seen. Who do we follow: The Messenger of Allah, the one that doesn’t speak from his desire but from revelation, or calculations that are not certain?

9.        If people complain that it is always the uncertainty before Ramadan and before Eid, and people have to plan ahead for vacations and preserving places for the Eid prayer, so it makes it much easier to pre-determine the beginning and the ending of Ramadan. This is all irrelevant, because we as Muslims need to be slaves of Allah the All-Mighty and make our lives subjected to the laws of Allah and not the opposite.

10.        Some people say that when we relied on moon sightings, mistakes happened and people ended up fasting 28 days sometimes and things of that nature, and to respond to that we are not better than the companions May Allah be pleased with them, it happened at their time and there is nothing wrong with that, plus the mistakes with calculations are far more. And the matter is not when exactly the month starts, the matter is obeying the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam and see the moon to start the month or completed 30 days.

From all the above, we see that the matter has Ijmaa’ Consensus of the companions of the Prophet Salla Allahu Alihy Wa Sallam, the early generations of Islam, the 4 Imams and the majority of the people of knowledge, and our goal should be to follow the truth and not the goal to do what is easier. If that is the case, I think the matter is very clear. It is not permissible to use moon calculations for the determinations or the end of the Blessed month of Ramadan. The cure to the Muslim Ummah of the weakness present is to hold fast to the truth and never compromise it, till Allah changes the situations of the Muslims. Finally, I ask Allah Ta’ala to unite the Muslims on the truth and to dissolve their differences and to guide us all to what pleases Him.

Ibrahim Zidan

www.sunnahfollowers.net





Muslims in American Society

11 08 2007




What Do Britons Think Of Americans???

3 08 2007

Ok, I know Britian and the USA had a strained peace in the years following the Revolutionary War (America’s War of Independence). Though, to all outward appearances, it seems the US and Britain of today get along splendidly.  I know most of the world doesn’t agree with US foreign policy (as many/most Americans don’t agree with it either). However, I was a bit surprised when someone forwarded me this poll. I know we have several different countries represented here at this blog. So, I feel this is an excellent opportunity to get everyone’s thoughts. I want to hear from the British here…..Is this poll seriously conclusive to what the majority of Britians feel about Americans?   To the Americans how do you feel about this poll? To my other international readers…..What is the sentiment toward Americans in your respective countries? Stereotypes?

What Britons think of America

The YouGov polling highlighted below (carried out for The Daily Telegraph) is from last June but given that this site only started in November it’s probably useful to remind ourselves of UK attitudes to America and to American policy.

Key findings:

  • By 54% to 39% Britons felt more positive about America than negative.
  • 70% said that they liked Americans a little or a lot.  19% said they didn’t like Americans very much.  2% said not at all.
  • 40% thought America a reliable ally.  41% thought it unreliable as an ally.

But from then on it’s all pretty negative…

  • 22% thought current American policy was helping to make the world a better place to live in.  75% said a worse place.
  • By 52% to 36% the overall view of American culture was negative.
  • 20% of respondents were more positive about America over recent years.  69% were less positive.
  • By 74% to 9% Britons thought US actions were resulting in greater INSTABILITY in the Middle East rather than greater STABILITY.
  • 1% saw George W Bush as a “great leader” and 43% thought of him as a “terrible leader”.  15% deemed him “reasonably satisfactory”.  34% thought him “pretty poor”.
  • 58% agreed that America is essentially an “imperial power”.  28% thought it unfair to describe America in that way.
  • Only 11% thought America cares what the rest of the world thinks.  83% thought it didn’t care.
  • 90% thought it had a lot of violent crime and was dominated by big business, 60% thought it uncaring, 72% unequal, 65% vulgar, 75% badly led.

There was not much difference in the view of America and Americans from Conservative and Labour supporters.  There was decidely more negativity from supporters of the Liberal Democrats.

YouGov interviewed nearly 2,000 Britons on 26th to 28th June 2006.  Download PDF of full survey findings.