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.

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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.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Three Deadly Sins of Islam!!! pt. 2

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

In the name of Almighty God, the All Merciful, the Beneficent. Last week I discussed two of the "three deadly sins of Islam". These being shirk and kufr. These two are definitely the greatest sins, as they involve our faith, and what is in our heart. However the third deadly sin is also extremely dangerous but not just because of what it does to our faith, but how it affects our behavior towards our fellow man. This is of course nifaq, or "hypocrisy".
The word Hypocrisy is defined in Webster's dictionaries as: an act or a practice of feigning to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not feel; especially, the false assumption of goodness. Therefore, a hypocrite is a false pretender and dissembler to virtue or piety. In the Islamic terminology, the word Hypocrisy is a substitute for 'Nifaq'. This word Nifaq has been mentioned in the Qur'an thirty-one (31) times in different forms.
In the Qur'an, God makes one thing abundantly clear, at that is that for those who leave this world in a state of nifaq, they have been promised a place in the fiery depths of Hell. God says in the Qur'an,
God hath promised the hypocrites, men and women, and the rejecters of Faith, the fire of Hell; therein shall they dwell; sufficient is it for them: for them is the curse of God, and an enduring punishment. (9:68)
Notice that God puts the hypocrites right there on the same level with the "rejecters of faith" or the kefir, one of sins I mentioned last week. So this leaves no doubt that hypocrisy is a tremendously dangerous sin. God Almighty says in another part of the Qur'an,
When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, 'We bear witness that thou art indeed the Apostle of God.' Yea, God knoweth that thou art indeed His Apostle, and God beareth witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars. (63:1)
God says it here that the hypocrites are "indeed liars". Ask yourself now how common is it today to see Muslims lie about things? The prophet Muhammad (sws) said in an authentic hadith,
The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he gives an agreement, he does not fulfill his commitment; and when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.
Now honestly we must look around at our Ummah, and seriously ask ourselves the question, how much of these things are we seeing now-a-days in the Muslim world? Quite a bit I would say. The prophet (sws) also said about hypocrites, quote
You will find that the worst person is double-faced; he meets one group of people with one side of his face, while another with the other side.
When we look around our world today we see a lot of this. We see this kind of behavior in markets where goods are bought and sold. We see this in the masajid when people will show up for salah (prayer) on Friday, and on Saturday night their partying it up at the clubs and so fourth. We especially see it in politics. We see these politicians who when talking to one group of people they say one thing, and when talking to another group they say another thing. I mean if the most powerful and richest amongst us Muslims, are acting in such a way that is clearly a sign of nifaq, what does that say about our Ummah. At the time of the prophet (sws) lying was considered a horrible act even by the mushrikeen (pagan Arabs) of that day. This is why it was such a huge insult when they called the prophet (sws) a liar, because at that time in Arabia, lying was considered uncouth, undignified, and cowardly. However, today, lying is so common, that in many arenas it is simply accepted as the norm. In politics it is accepted as fact that lying is just part of the game. If you go into a shop in most Muslim countries and ask how much a shirt or something like that is, it is commonly accepted that the shop owner will tell you at least three times what it's actually worth, because the expectation is that it will be negotiated, when what should happen is that the shop owner should have enough integrity to give a reasonable and accurate price from the beginning, and the one buying the product should understand what would be an acceptable price and not try to short change the shop owner either. So when these things, which are described by the prophet (sws) as signs of hypocrisy, are so common place in Muslim countries that they are accepted norms, then what does that say about the level of iman (faith) of our Ummah (people)? I'll tell you what it says. It says that we as the Ummah of Muhammad (sws) have reached a point that we are utterly failing to uphold even the most basic of Islamic principals. Why is it that many Muslims have to come to the non-Muslim western countries in order to escape economic, and cultural slavery, or even to simply be able to practice Islam freely? Why is it the non-Muslim leaders of the world who are actually "doing something" about the suffering people in Gaza, or in Kashmir, or in Nigeria, or in Somalia? And, by "doing something", I mean actually getting involved, sending food, sending supplies, taking people in, and when necessary standing up against oppressors. Why was it that it was the non-Muslim administration of the United States that eventually committed it's military to stopping the genocide in Bosnia? Where was Saudi Arabia, where was Jordan, where was Egypt? Where were the wealthy and powerful Muslim countries? Sitting on their hands, that's where. Why? Maybe because they stood to loose to much money by doing so. Maybe, they didn't want to risk being seen as radical "jihadists". Whatever their outward reason, ultimately it boils down to the fact that by all indications, and God knows best, we, the Muslim Ummah are in the midst of a disgusting, rancid, blistering plague of nifaq. A plague that dwarfs the black death of Europe, or any other historical plague.
So, I mention again that the prophet (sws) said that the primary indicators of nifaq in a persons behavior are
1. He lies when he speaks ~ We must ask ourselves if we've ever lied to anyone, even a little lie. Lying is a tremendous sin in Islam, even the smallest of lies can be deadly to one's soul and one's akhirah (afterlife). The next time someone asks you about Islam, and if they have any doubt in what your saying, just educate them that lying in our faith is absolutely forbidden and we can go to Hell for doing so.
2. He does not keep promises~ God only knows, but I'd bet that we've all broken a promise at one time or another. We must remember that this can very easily constitute nifaq if it is a common occurrence.
3. He does not take care of that with which he is entrusted~ In other words this is someone who is given something to take care of it, and he abuses that privilege. Again, this also very easily can be applied to some of the so-called "leaders" of the Muslim world, who are entrusted with the lives and liberty of the people of their country, and instead of honoring that amanah (trust) they abuse it for their own personal gain.
We need to start holding ourselves, the Muslim Ummah, accountable to ourselves and to our deen (religion). If we are in this plague of nifaq, then how can we ever hope to be successful in combating the problems we face. God Almighty says in his Qur'an,
The hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close-fisted with their hands. They have forgotten Allah so He has forgotten them. Verily the hypocrites are rebellious and perverse.
(At-Tawbah 9:67)
One part of this verse really sticks out to me, They have forgotten Allah so He has forgotten them. If we, not necessarily as individuals, but as an Ummah, have forgotten God, and forgotten to put God in His proper position in life, then what do we expect to happen to our brothers and sister in Palestine, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Somalia, or even to brothers and sisters right here in the US? The plight of the Muslims in this day in age is nothing more than a test from Him. A test that I fear, we are failing miserably. I once heard it said, if you want to know where you stand with God, then look to where God stands with you. Where are you putting God in your life? Are you brushing Him under the rug, only to be seen when you go "clean" yourself out spiritually? Are you putting Him in a convenient little drawer where you can go to him when you want but forget him when you don't. Or, are you putting Allah in His proper place, which is at the center of everything. At the center of your life, in the forefront of your mind, and at the core of your heart. Doing this is what protects us from shirk. It is what protects us from kufr, and it is what protects us from nifaq.
As a final note, everyone by now knows that we in the US have a new President, Barack Hussain Obama. I think it's important that we extend du'a for him, his family, and for his administration that Allah might firstly guide them to the siratul mustaqeem or the "straight path" of Islam. But also, that Allah, God Almighty, guide them to lead this country away from the self-destructive path that we have been on, and to once again make America represent the beacon of freedom and democracy that we profess to be. Ameen.
....And Allah Knows Best....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Three Deadly Sins of Islam!!! pt. 1

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم
In the name of Almighty God, the All-Merciful, the All-Beneficent.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that the History Channel was doing a week long documentary special on the "Seven Deadly Sins", of Christianity. A friend of mine who also saw this asked me if we as Muslims have anything like this in our faith. At first my answer was no, but then I thought about it. We do have something like that, but they would be narrowed down to three rather than seven. These are shirk, kufr, and nifaaq. These three things are sins that are considered extremely dire sins and it is important that we all, from time to time, remind ourselves of these things, and of how easy they sometimes can be to fall into.
The first of these sins is shirk. This concept can be summed up in a riddle a good friend of mine once told me, and I'll share it with you today. What is it that a common man sees all the time, a king sees every once in a while, and God never sees, and God sees all?...........................jeopardy song....................................give up? The answer is, rivalry. God never experiences rivalry because their are no gods except Him, and shirk is to associate ANYTHING else, with God. It is the very foundation of all of Islamic doctrine and spirituality. La ilaha illa Allah, "There is no god, but God"; the utterance of this statement, along with Muhammadun Rasoolullah "Muhammad is the messenger of God", is what makes someone Muslim. To worship anything besides God, to associate any kind of partner with God is shirk. This sin is considered the greatest sin of all, because it is the only sin in which God says that it will NOT be forgiven. God says in the Qur'an,
"Verily, Allah forgives not that partners be ascribed to Him, but He forgives anything except that; and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, has indeed invented a tremendous sin". (Qur'an 4:48)
God Almighty also says,
"Then when the trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them on that day, nor will they ask of one another.
Then those whose scales (of good deeds) are heavy, these! they are the successful.
The fire will burn their faces, and therein they will grin with disfigured lips.
Were not My verses recited to you and then you used to deny them?
They will say 'Our Lord, our wretchedness overcame us and we were an erring people.
Our Lord, bring us out of this. If we ever return to evil, then indeed we shall be wrongdoers.'
He (Allah) will say, 'Remain you in this with ignominy! And speak not to me!'

(Qur'an 23:101-108)
Then again Allah says,
"And whoever invokes something in worship besides Allah, any other god of whom he has no proof, then his reckoning is only with his Lord. Surely, those who disbelieve will not be successful. (Qur'an 23:117)
Shirk is most commonly associated with polytheistic religions such as Hinduism or ancient Greek or Roman religions. It can also be seen in religions like Buddhism were people may pray to or invoke the presence of the Buddha. Even amongst the Ahl al Kitab, or the "People of the Book" it can be found. Even though the Bible recounts the ten commandments of Moses (pbuh), the first of which is "thou shall have no other gods but Me", still many Christians, not all but some, fall into the trap of calling Jesus Christ (pbuh) God! God talks about the Christians calling Jesus His son in the Qur'an. However many Christians will take it a step further and actually say that Jesus was "God in human form". This is also shirk. Also you can see it in the Nation of Islam. Don't let the name fool you, their beliefs are not Islam. You can go to the Nation's website and see very plainly there the continuation of the teachings of Elijah Muhammad who said that Allah had come to Earth in human form, in the person of Wallace Fard, that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, and that the "white man" is the direct physical descendant of Iblis and is fundamentally evil.
There are a couple different manifestations of shirk that we can see demonstrate both in scripture and in present day situations.

SHIRK AL AKBAR (The Major Shirk)
This is the most severe and deadliest shirk, and by deadly I don't mean physically but spiritually. For an example this we can turn to the Qur'an in 29:65.
"And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their faith pure for him only, but when he brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others".
This verse reminds me of the saying, "there are no atheists in fox holes". In other words, when people are starring down the prospect of death at any moment, they will turn to God, and say "Oh God please save me!", but then when God does save them, they will turn back to their old ways; showing absolutely no gratitude to God for being sparred.
Also another way that this form of Shirk is manifested is when people render "complete" authority to anything but God. Again when we look to the Qur'an, in 9:31,
"They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah, and also the Messiah, the son of Mary, while they were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospels) to worship none but one God. There is none worthy of worship but Him. Glorified is He from having the partners that they associate with Him."
In this particular case, God is talking about the Ahl al Kitab or the "People of the Book" (i.e. the Jews and Christians). In addition to the worship of Jesus Christ (pbuh), God mentions the rabbis and the monks. This is to say the establishment of a priesthood. This is one of the most beautiful things about Islam, is that there is no concept of priesthood. Every human being is equal to God in terms of their ability to understand his commands and discern right from wrong. However, in Muslim history, a type of "priesthood" has been set up in many ways by both Sunni and Shia groups. Many people will say "I'm a Hanafi" or "I'm a Shafi'i", and they take their religion from these imams, and no one else, even though these imam's themselves never said that they ought to be followed blindly. In fact all of them were quoted as to saying that if anything they say contradicts what can be proven of the Sunnah (way of prophet Muhammad 'pbuh') then we are to disregard it. Being a scholar of Islam means that you have memorized the Qur'an and/or memorized entire collections of hadith, or have mastered one or more of the sciences of Islam, and this is a tremendous accomplishment that should not be downplayed in any way, shape or form. However, none of this necessarily makes you more capable of "reasoning" then any other human being. I have often found that sometimes a major problem with very "educated" people is that they over-think things. God Almighty told us in the Qur'an, that this book has been given to us in plain Arabic, or plain language. Likewise the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that he left us two things, The Qur'an and his Sunnah. This means that these two things are all we really need in to be successful in this life and the next. So we must be careful that we do not fall into the same trap that our Jewish and Christian brethren did, by taking our imams as lords, or "authorities" besides God.
SHIRK AL ASGHAR (The Minor Shirk)
This is to perform any act of worship, simply for gaining benefit or praise in this world. This is much more common than folks think. Many people when praying on their own will pray "sloppy". They may rush through it, just "going through the motions". However, when they are with people, they are very serious and hold themselves very confidently and piously during prayer. Why, because they want those other people to think that they are a good religious person. In some cases they may not even pray at all when they are alone. So, this is performing acts of worship that are designed for God alone, for the "entertainment" of others.

The next major/deadly sin, is the sin of kufr. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the word kufr was often used to refer to a farmer, who would plant a seed in the ground and then "cover" in up with earth. This "covering" was called kufr. When the Qur'an came, God Almighty used the word kufr to refer to those who had heard the message of Islam and the message of Muhammad (pbuh), refused to accept it, and "covered" it with their backward sense of reasoning.
One major problem that Muslims have now-a-days, is that many of us are in the habit of using this label, calling someone a kafr, far too lightly. Many Muslims automatically call anyone other than Muslims kafrs. Horribly, some will even call other Muslims kafrs if they don't believe in or practice Islam exactly how they do. This is very bad, both for the Muslim calling people that as well as for the entire Ummah (Muslim people's of the world).
To clarify, kufr, is to "knowingly" disbelieve and/or reject any of the six pillars of faith. which are:
-Believe in God
-Believe in Angels
-Believe in ALL the prophets (Adam, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, etc)
-Believe in God's revelations (Torah, Psalms, Gospel, & Qur'an)
-Believe in the Day of Judgment
-Believe in Divine Pre-Destination (God knows past, present, future).

Anyone who rejects or disbelieves in these things, who fully and completely understand them is a kafr. If they don't fully understand them, or don't have any knowledge of them at all, they are not a kafr, they are jahil or "ignorant". Remember, in order to "cover" the truth as the kufar (plural of kafr) do, they must first "have" the truth. There are several different manifestations of kufr, just as there are with shirk.
KUFR AL TAKDHEEB- This is to reject or "invent a lie" against any of the fundamental tenants of faith. God says in the Qur'an,
"Then who does more wrong than one who utters a lie against Allah, and denies the truth when it comes to him! Is there not in Hell, an abode for the disbelievers". (Qur'an, 39:32)
KUFR OF ARROGANCE- This is to refuse to obey God's commands when they have been made apparent to you, as Iblis (Satan) did when God created the first man, Adam. God says in the Qur'an,
"And remember when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate yourselves before Adam'. And the prostrated except Iblis, he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers." (Qur'an 2:34)
As the prophet Muhammad said, Satan has given up misleading you in large things, so beware the small things. Most of us don't go so far as to deny the obligation of the salah (five daily prayers), or of the obligation to fast, however many Muslims will try to find ways around many of the other commands of God. For example you'll see many Muslim shop owners who sell alcohol and liquor, and when you ask them why do you do this when you know it's haram they say, "well we have to be able to compete with other stores". Or, when you see sisters going without their hijab, they say that "they don't want to stand out", or "they don't want to be harassed". Sometimes they "sheikh shop" for imams or so-called scholars who will say that it's not obligatory. Sometimes Muslims engage in partying, gambling, fornication, and other sorts of activities and when you remind them of their duty to God, they just kind of shrug it off, as if they may live forever and never face God for the things they did in this life. This is arrogance in the face of God, and it to is a form kufr. Not necessarily the kind that completely excludes you from Islam, but nonetheless it is a form of kufr.
One more form of kufr is Kufr an Nifaaq. This is hypocritical disbelief. God Almighty says in the Qur'an,
"They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder people from the path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do. That is because they believed, and then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand not." (Qur'an 16:112)
This form of kufr implies being a hypocrite. Saying that you are a believer only to gain worldly gains, while inwardly still maintaining your disbelief, and this will lead us into the next "deadly sin", nifaaq or hypocrisy, which, God willing, I will continue with next week.
......And Allah Knows Best......