In the Name of Almighty God, The Merciful, The Compassionate

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

Salaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)! I hope you may gain some insight from my work here. Remember, I'm not a scholar and don't claim to be. I only claim to be a person who has a passion for both Islam and this great republic in which I live and wish to share my thoughts with others. Remember that anything good you find in this blog is from Allah, and anything wrong or bad is from my own flawed self.

!!!please make sure to sign up on my followers list at the bottom of the page!!!

The Holy Ka'aba

The Holy Ka'aba
The House of God built by Abraham (peace be upon him)

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance
take out the 9th line, and it would be haram (forbidden) to say this.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Creed

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. Verily, all praise is due to Allah. We praise him, seek his help and ask for his forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil in our own souls and from our sinful deeds. Whoever Allah guides, no one can mislead, and whoever Allah allows to stray, no one can guide. I bear witness that that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, without partners. And, I bear witness that Muhammad (sws), is the slave and messenger of Allah.
Recitation of last five verses of Surah Al An'am
" Say, Truly, my lord has guided me to a straight path, a right religion, the religion of Abraham, and he was not of those who associated partners with Allah.
Say, Verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the lord of the worlds, and all that exists.
He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.
Say, shall I seek a lord other than Allah, while he is the lord of all things? no person earns any sin except against himself, and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another. Then to your lord is your return, so he will tell you that wherein you have disputed.
And it is He who has made you generation after generation, replacing each other on the earth. And He has raised you in ranks, some above others that he may try you in that which He has bestowed on you. Surely, your lord is swift in retribution, and certainly He is oft-forgiving, most merciful."
In my journey through this life, since my acceptance of Islam, I have hardly come across another passage of the Qur'an that hit me quite so hard as these verses. These verses are the last of Surah Al An'am, the sixth chapter of the Qur'an. According to a tradition of Ibn Abbas, the whole of the Surah was revealed at one sitting at Makkah. Asma, a daughter of Yazid and a first cousin of Hadrat Mu'az-bin Jabl, says, "During the revelation of this Surah, the Holy Prophet was riding on a she-camel and I was holding her nose-string. The she-camel began to feel the weight so heavily that it seemed as if her bones would break under it. "We also learn from other traditions that the Holy Prophet dictated the whole of the Surah the same
night that it was revealed.
These particular verses sung out to me as I read them. These verses, in essence, sum up what it is to be a Muslim. In another surah, al ikhlaas, Allah (swt) illustrates to us the entire essence of exactly who He is, and how we, not only as Muslims, but as human beings should see our mighty creator.
Recite Surah Al Ikhlaas
" Say, He is Allah, The ONE.
The eternal, the absolute
He does not beget, nor is he begotten
And there is none comparable to him.
But, in these verses, the last five verses of Surah An'am, Allah (swt) in some of the most glorious and most profound language ever to befall the eyes and ears of man, illustrates to us exactly what it means to be a Muslim, or one who fully and completely submits to Allah, the most high and exalted.
"Say truly my lord has guided me to a straight path, a right religion, the religion of Abraham haneefa, and he was not of the those who associate partners with Allah". Alhamdulillah, all praise be to Allah, this first verse of this passage, shows us firstly that "Islam" was not a religion that started with Muhammad (sws). "Islam" or the willful and complete submission to almighty Allah, is the original religion. The deen ul fitra, the "native deen". The native deen of all humanity. We ask our non-Muslim friends, what religion was Adam? What religion was Noah, or Lut? And, what RELIGION was ABRAHAM? Were they Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus? These religions didn't exist in their day! So, of what religion were they? They were servants and messengers of the one true God. They submitted their will to almighty God and to no one and nothing else. This is the definition of "Muslim". They were Muslims. Did you know that Islam is the only major religion, who's name is not based on a person, place, or thing? Christianity, comes from "Christ", which means Messiah or "Messeeh" in Arabic. That's why in Arabic we refer to Christians as "messeehi". Judaism comes from the place where they came from, Judah. It also refers to the tribe of Judah. Buddhism comes from the title given to their prophet, which means " the enlightened one". Zoroastrianism refers to their prophet. Islam, on the other hand, isn't any person, place, or thing. It is a "verb", meaning to submit. That means that anyone who fully and completely submits their will to that of God's, they are performing "Islam", and would be known in Arabic as a "Mu Islam", or "Muslim". Even if they never even heard of the Qur'an or the prophet Muhammad (sws), if they recognized that there is only one God with no partners, and did everything in their power to submit to his will, and subject their lives to whatever they have of God's teachings, they are making "Islam". Haneefa; this means the pure worship of God, and only God, or tawheed. This verse illustrates that they only way to view "Islam" is as complete and utter submission to Allah (swt). It is not a cultural thing, or something you do just because your parents, relatives and neighbors do it. It's not just something you do to show off or gain recognition with. To declare oneself a Muslim doesn't mean that you follow in the footsteps of the Saudi royal family, or of the Arabs, or of the Pakistanis, or the Ottomans. It means to declare that you follow in the footsteps of Adam, and Noah, and Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. And, this verse also means giving thanks to Allah for his guidance. "man yahadillahu falla mudhilallah, wa man yudhlil falla hadiallah", "Whoever Allah guides, no one can misguide, and whoever Allah allows to go astray, no one can guide." Be thankful to Allah that he allowed you to be guided to this deen, the religion of righteousness, and pray that he never lets you go astray.
Recite second half of Al Fatiha.
“Guide us down the straight path, the path of those on whom you have bestowed they grace, not those who earn your anger, nor those who go astray”
"Say, Verily my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the lord of the worlds."
Every day we should think this. Every day this should cross our minds that everything we do in this life, we do for Allah. To seek Allah's favor. Our prayers; all the countless prayers any one of us have performed in our lifetimes don't mean anything if they are not for Allah. All the sacrifices we make. Sacrifices of our time, our money, our health, our freedom, the animals we slaughter. All of it means nothing if it's not done for Allah. Our very lives, the fact that we rise from bed in the morning is for Allah. And, the fact that someday we will rise for the last time, is also for Allah. This verse reminds us, as so many do, that death is a reality that no one will avoid. So we must ensure that when that day does come, that we die in no other state than in a pure state of submission to Allah, and that the name of Allah be the last thing from our lips.
Our whole lives are centered around Allah (swt). This is the fundamental concept of life as a Muslim. It is why we bow and prostrate ourselves in prayer five or more times day. It is why we fast, during the month of Ramadan. It is why we make Hajj and Umrah. It is why we pay zakat and sadaqah. It's most certainly not because Allah "needs" us to. Allah (swt) is not in "need" of anything. But these things are for our benefit. To purify our minds and hearts, and to discipline our body's and souls, and to prove ourselves worthy of Allah's grace and mercy. A Muslim is a person who is in a constant state of God consciousness. Someone who recognizes Allah's lordship, tawheed ul rububiyya, in all that they encounter. All of the wonders of our world; the Earth, the sky, the oceans and seas, and the universe and all the tremendous and wondrous things and creatures that fill it, all bow in submission to Allah (swt). We as Allah's vice generates on Earth, are no different. We as Muslims recognize that, and it is why all that we are, and all that we do, our prayers, our sacrifices, our lives and deaths are all for Allah.
"He has no partner. And, of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of those who submit to Allah."
In this verse, the prophet Muhammad (sws) was instructed to repeat, "I am the first of those who submit to Allah". Now this doesn't literally mean he was the first person to be a Muslim, because that's most certainly not true. Rather, what is meant here, is that a true believer, should hasten, or hurry to submission to Allah. One should not delay, or procrastinate in submitting themselves to Allah (swt). Once a matter in the deen of Islam has been made clear and proven to a believer, they implement it in their life immediately. They do not question Allah's wisdom. Just as the sahabah immediately smashed their jugs of wine when the prohibition of alcohol came. Right and left people smashed their jugs of wine, so much that the streets of Medina ran red with wine. Or when the order for women to draw their jalabeeb, or hijab, over them, and to cover their ornaments. When this verse from the Qur'an came, the women used anything they could, even ripping some other garments, to cover themselves in response to the revelation. This was true faith and devotion to Allah (swt). So hasten to the will of your lord. Heed his warning of hellfire, and always strive to be the first to submit to his command.
Qulu Qawli Haatha
"Say, Shall I seek a lord other than Allah, while He is the lord of all things? No person earns any sin except against himself, and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another. Then to your lord is your return, so he will tell you that wherein you have disputed."
Some Christians, make the mistake of calling Isa, lord, or rabb. Their reason for this lies in the theology of what is called original sin. This is the idea that because Adam (as) sinned and fell from Eden, all of his descendants will carry the stain of that sin and that only the sacrifice of Isa, wa 'auodhoo billah, would atone for that. Many other faiths also have awlihaa that they see as intercessors for the same reason. This ayah from the holy Qur'an, refutes that. "Shall I seek a lord other than Allah, when he is the lord of all creation?" The message of this is clear; worship the creator not the created. There is no intermediary between Allah and his servants. And as for the original sin concept, " No person earns any sin except against himself, and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another". We do not inherit the sins of our forefathers. We are born pure, in a pure state of Islam, or submission to Allah (swt). It is only as we grow older that we are taught to be either a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, or an atheist, and it is only when we reach puberty that our sins are counted for us. No one can bear the burdens of anyone else. This is our creed and a mercy from Allah.
"And it is He who has made you generations after generations, replacing each other on the earth. And He has raised you in ranks, some above others that He may try you in that which He has bestowed upon you. Surely, your lord is swift in retribution, and certainly He is oft-forgiving, most merciful."
And lastly, Allah (swt) illustrates to us the miracle of humanity. Generation after generation, for tens of thousands of years. Mighty civilizations have risen and fallen. Many great men and women who illuminate our histories have come and gone, while many more whom we will never know of have also come and gone. From Egypt to China, from Mayans and Aztecs to the Celts and Druids. The Franks, The Cherokee, The Hebrews, The Romans, The Persians, The Arabs, The Hindis, The Normans, The Aboriginals, and many more. From every corner of the Earth, humanity has grown and developed a vast array of cultures and tongues. But, despite all of our differences of language, culture, color and ethnicity, we are all slaves and servants of Allah (swt). We belong to the same lord. We share a common father in Adam (as).
These five ayahs of the Qur'an, these holy words of Allah (swt), illustrate what it truly means to be one who submits to Allah, one who heeds the warning of our beloved prophet Muhammad (sws), and one who hastens to the call of , "La illaha illa Allah, Muhammadun Rasool Allah", "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God".

Monday, April 7, 2008

Letter in Times Gazette

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
In the name of Almighty God, the most gracious, the most merciful. This is a letter, written by myself, that was published last Friday, April 4th, in Ashland, OH's newspaper the Times Gazette. I thought I would share it with those who aren't from Ashland, and those who are but don't regularly read the paper.
To our neighbors, friends and family,
First of all allow me to extend to you our greeting of peace, “assalaamu aleikum wa rahmatullah”, which means, “may the peace and mercy of Almighty God be upon you”. We, the Islamic Society of Ashland, would like to formally introduce ourselves to the greater Christian majority, and express our wish to be cooperating members of the religious community. Now we know that it seems that relations between our faiths seem tense in today’s world. However, it is my and our congregations sincere hope that we could bridge some of those gaps and be an example to our beloved country and our world that we indeed can work together for the common good, through our mutual belief in the one true God, our mutual love for Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, and our desire to see “One Nation Under God” mean something again. Ashland is a wonderful place, indeed someplace special, and we hope that we can be a part of that. As you may know, much of our faith is based on the teachings of our prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, so allow me to share with you what he said about Christians in his letter to the monks of St. Catherine‘s Monastery in the year 628 of the common era.
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! (God) I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet.
Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

We hope that these words from our beloved prophet might provide some enlightenment about our often misunderstood faith, and we pray that we can become friends and partners in the spiritual development of our community.
We pray that you accept this letter as a gesture of peace and cooperation, and that you might share it with the congregations of your churches.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Blessings of Marriage in Islam

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

The Blessing of Marriage in Islam
Wesley Ja’far Porter
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. We give all our praise to Allah, we ask for his guidance, and we seek his forgiveness. We seek refuge in him from the evil within ourselves and from evil in our deeds. Allah guides whom he wills and he misguides whom he wills, and we ask Allah to guide us on the straight path. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that he has no partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave and messenger of Allah.
Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an, "O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person created of like nature his mate and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; reverence Allah through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (Surah 4:1)
Allah also said, It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power over all things. (Surah 25:54)

In a sahih hadith recorded in the collection of imam Bukhari, narrated by Anas ibn Malik, (ra) we read, “A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (sws) asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, "Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven." Then one of them said, "I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever." The other said, "I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast." The third said, "I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever." Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me. The last of these men said he would stay away from women, and never marry. The prophet responds by pointing out the fact the HE, the messenger of Allah, who has more taqwa and iman than any other man or woman on Earth, has wives, and enjoys his time with them. In Islam, it is absolutely wajib, or obligatory to marry. According to another hadith, the prophet (sws) also said, “when a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion , so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half." If marriage is half of our deen, then does that mean that without it, we only have 50% of our deen? For any of you who are students or teachers you know what kind of score 50% is, and it’s not good.
In Islam, there is no room for celibacy. The Catholics relate celibacy to taqwa, and having pure faith. This is absolutely unacceptable in Islam. We’ve seen in recent years, a multitude of cases of sexual child abuse amongst some Catholic priests in this country, and this is a testament to the fact we as human beings are not created to be without a mate, and when deprived of that, severe psychological problems can develop.
Marriage is a blessing that is almost unsurpassed by anything else in our lives. For myself, I can honestly say that my marriage was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, with the exception of embracing Islam. It’s difficult to discribe in words all the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blessings associated with marriage. But, to say the least it is one of the most important things any of us will do.
But, with any great blessing, comes great responsibility. For a man, taking on a wife is an incredible undertaking. Allah has said in his Qur’an that men are protectors and the sustainers of women. This means that when a woman agrees to marry a man, it means that she is entrusting him with her livelihood, that she is trusting that he will take care of her, provide for her, and give her the love and respect that she is entitled to by Allah. Likewise, women have many responsibilities toward their husband when it comes to marriage.
The marriage ceremony in Islam is actually a rather simple thing. The actual requirements for a marriage ceremony are very few. This allows for there to be room for cultural traditions in the ceremony. When we look to Muslim weddings around the world we see a very wide range of traditions. But, within each of them, are the basic requirements of nikkah, or marriage in Islam. The requirements are first that there needs to be agreement by both the bride and the groom for the marriage. While a persons family can most certainly be involved with the selection of a mate, no person, male or female, can be forced to marry someone that they do not approve. Also, another extremely important requirement for the marriage is the mahr, or dowry. Allah (swt) says, "And give to the women whom you marry their Mahr with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm as Allâh has made it lawful." (Surah 4:4)
In some cultures, such as American Christian traditions, the bride will actually give the groom a dowry, but this is not the case in Islam. In Islam the groom is obligated to give or promise to give a fixed dowry to the bride at the time of the nikkah. The mahr is the brides right, and she has the right to ask whatever she wants so long as it is reasonable to the groom. It is also her right to expect it at the time of marriage, or to defer it, or even to wave it. Ultimately it is her right. Also, there needs to be witnesses. These witnesses should be Muslims, although additional non-Muslim witnesses are welcome and even encouraged. The officiator of the nikkah should also be a Muslim, who is knowledgeable of the deen of Islam, and the important aspects of marriage. This person does not necessarily have to be an imam, however, in this country it is important that he be someone that is legally certified to officiate weddings. Many Muslims do not file their marriage with the state government, but there are many scholars who believe that this could be at least mukruh or even haram, because in Islam the marriage should be something recognized by local authorities in order to ensure that both parties are legally entitled to full rights of marriage under the local law. It matters not that the local government is a non-Muslim one. We are required to obey authorities and laws regardless of whether or not they are Muslim, so long as they don't prevent one from performing obligatory aspects of Islam. After the officiator delivers a khutbah and takes the promise from both the bride and the groom, the two are then married, and only then are halal towards each other.
As I said, there are many responsibilities involved with marriage. Both the husband and the wife have rights over each other. These rights could be roughly divided into material rights, and non-material rights. Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an, And they (women) have rights similar to those of their husbands over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree of responsibility over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
The prophet (sws) said, as recorded in Sahih Al Tirmidhi, said, "Listen! You have your rights upon your wives and they have their rights upon you. Your right is that they shall not allow anyone you dislike, to trample your bed and do not permit those whom you dislike to enter your home. Their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing."
Material Rights of the Wife~ The husband is responsible for the upkeep of the household, expenses, and seeing that all of the wife’s needs are taken care of. She may work if she chooses but she should not be obligated to. The husband should share in the household chores and when she becomes ill or unable to complete tasks, it is his responsibility to pick up the slack.
Non-Material Rights~ The husband has the responsibility to treat his wife as his partner and companion, and NOT as his servant. He is not to force her to engage in sexual activity that is deemed haram. He should not take anything of her wealth without her consent. He should consult her in matters in his life, and in their family affairs. He should be gentle and kind to her, and always try to never become angry or insulting. Women are generally emotional beings and it is important that they feel loved and appreciated on a daily basis.

Material Rights of the Husband~ The wife is expected to safe guard the husband’s property in his absence. She should not allow people in his house whom he would not approve, and she should not mingle or make friends with people that he would not approve of. It is also important for her to take part in the household chores although that is not her responsibility alone, and also to nourish and tend to the couples children.
Non-Material~ She should also be gentle, loving and respectful to her husband. When her husband is stressed she should seek to ease his troubles. Actually men can be rather emotional at times as well as women, even if we don’t like to admit it. And, they both should try to be physically attractive for each other, in order to help prevent the possibility of zina, or adultery.
Also it needs to be noted that when searching for a mate, a pious, faithful person is always better than a non-pious one. Many times people are attracted to someone because of their wealth, or physical appearance, or family status, or the tribe they come from, etc. However, none of these things should take priority over the persons dedication to the deen of Islam. In the Sahih al Bukhari, the prophet Muhammad (sws) is recorded to have said, A wealthy man passed by Allah's Apostle and Allah's Apostle asked (his companions) "What do you say about this (man)?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand, he ought to be given her in marriage; and if he intercedes (for someone) his intercessor should be accepted; and if he speaks, he should be listened to." Allah's Apostle kept silent, and then a man from among the poor Muslims passed by, an Allah's Apostle asked (them) "What do you say about this man?" They replied, "If he asks for a lady's hand in marriage he does not deserve to be married, and he intercedes (for someone), his intercession should not be accepted; And if he speaks, he should not be listened to." Allah's Apostle corrected the companions and said, "This poor man is better than so many of the first as filling the earth."
A Qulu Qawli Hatha, Wa StaghfirAllaha lii Walakum

Today, one of the biggest issues that critics of Islam raise, is the issue of the treatment of women. A lot of people in our society today like to talk about equality between men and women. Men and women should be equal. It sounds reasonable. In reality, there can be no equality between men and women. Now before anyone reports me to Fox News, let me explain. 1+1=2, 3x4=12. The term “equals”, means that what’s on one side of an equation is the “same” as what’s on the other side. To say that men are “equal” to women is not correct. Men are most certainly not the “same” as women. There are obviously huge physical, mental, and emotional differences between men women. So rather than use the term “equality” it is better to use the term “equity”. We have equitable responsibilities, and have a balanced degree of rights over each other. Woman are NOT to be considered second class citizens. They are not to be considered inferior in intellect strictly based on their gender. And, most of all we should not judge them, based on how they look or dress. Likewise, women should not see men as overbearing or over-controlling just because they expect certain things in a wife. When it comes to marriage it is absolutely important that in addition to understanding our roles as husbands and wives, we understand our roles simply as Muslim men and Muslim women first.
We have seen in the media, stories of gross mistreatment of women in the old Muslim world. Now while of course the media often exaggerates or practices selective covering, these things DO happen. There ARE Muslims who treat their women like this. But, this is not because of Islam, it is because of their ignorance of Islam. We can rant and rave until we’re blue in the face about the ignorant portrayals of Islam that we see from our critics, but not of it matters until we first turn our ranting and raving on those Muslims who actually DO these things. These dogs that call themselves men, who use the message of Allah (swt) and the words of our beloved prophet Muhammad (sws) to carry out such acts of barbarism against the women that, in their devotion to Allah, rely on these so-called men for their sustenance. The most righteous amongst you are those who are best to your wives. That is the message of Islam. May Allah protect us from such things, and may we be an example to our community, our country, and our world what marriage really is in Islam.
For those of us who are married, let us take the time to remember our spouses and appreciate what they are to us, and how much they mean to us. Let us thank Allah (swt) that He blessed us with such a thing in this dunya. Let us always strive to participate with our spouse in the development of our deen. To read Qur’an together, to make du’a together, and encourage each other in increasing our iman. And, for those of us who are not married, take this time to make du’a to Allah that He may grant you with a good, and righteous spouse.