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.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hell in Haiti

In the name of Almighty God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The western hemisphere's poorest nation, Haiti, has been utterly devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake struck not in a forested area or otherwise loosely populated area, but the quake was concentrated right in the middle of the most densely populated area of the country; in the capitol city of Port-au-Prince. The neighboring country of the Dominican Republic who share the small island was hardly affected. One has to wonder at the chances that such a strong earthquake would hit this desperately poor country in it's most vulnerable of places. As Muslims, we know that human beings cannot always understand why such horrible things happen to seemingly innocent people. The Haitian government estimates that as many as 100,000 may be dead. It is natural and human to ask how a gracious and merciful God allows such things to happen. People who are astray and away from their fitra (natural state of worshiphood to God) are easily convinced at times that there can't be a God when such terrible things are allowed to happen. However these people have simply "failed the test". God created us for one purpose, and that is to worship Him. We worship him in two basic ways
a.) Obey His commands and performing acts of worship such as ritual prayer, fasting, pilgrimage in the manner in which He has commanded us to do.
b.) Serving creation; being beneficial members of society and the human race; loving our neighbors and being generous and charitable to those in need; standing up for the oppressed; and dealing kindly with our fellow human beings (in a way this also falls under "a" because these are things we are commanded to do by God).

God Almighty in the Holy Qur'an says,
"And I did not create Jinn and Mankind except to worship Me" (Qur'an 51:56)

Then God says in another passage,
"And it is He who has made you generations after generations of trustees/custodians upon/to the Earth and has raised some of you above others in rank that you may be tried in that which has been given to you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty, but is also most forgiving and merciful." (Qur'an 6:165)

As I said before we can never really know for sure why tragic events such as this happen, but we do know from the above verse that we are tested in this life. In fact the whole experience of life in this world could be compared to taking a class. We enter the class usually with a clean slate. As we make our way through the material we learn and are subsequently tested on our knowledge. Sometimes these tests we know are coming, and sometimes they are "pop quizzes". At the end of the class you will be given a final exam to determine if you are ready to move on to the next step. In life, we enter it with a clean slate as new born babies. As we attain the age of understanding, we are tested in lessons we learn. Sometimes these tests we know are coming like taking on the responsibility of marriage for example, and other times they are not expected such as dealing with sudden economic losses, deaths of loved ones, or on a larger scale even tragedies like the earthquake in Haiti. In the end, on the Day of Judgement, we will be given a "final assessment". The main difference is that if you fail a class you can go back and take it again, but this is not the case in life. So, events such as the quake in Haiti, could happen as a way to test humanity. Some may say, "how can a loving and merciful God kill innocent people for a 'test'; as if it was a game"? We have to remember that God is our creator. The very concepts of life and death are of his creation, and thus He is not subject to it no more than He is subject to the laws of Physics or Time as they too are among His creations. A finite being can never comprehend the nature of anything infinite. It is simply beyond the capacity of the human intellect. So, for us to superimpose our understanding of life and death, and specifically the negativity of death to God, is not understanding God for what He is. God Almighty best describes himself in the Qur'an as follows,

"Allah (God), there is none worthy of worship but Him, the Ever Living, the Infinate. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs ALL that is in the Heavens and ALL that is on the Earth. Who is he who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows that which shall happen to His creation, and all that has happened, while His creation knows NOTHING except what He allows them to know. The footstool of his throne extends over the whole of the Heavens and Earth and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous." (Qur'an 2:255 "ayatul kursi")

In another place God also says,
"Say, He is Allah (God) the ONE
Allah, the Eternal and Omnipotent
He begets not, nor is He begotten
There is nothing in all of creation
comparable to Him" (Qur'an 112)

So while we are created with a sense of love for fellow humans, and feel a sense of grief at the loss of human life, we must remember that our creator is not bound by the same attributes we are. We are never to take human life without justification through the due process of law. However as His creation, it is God who takes us when it is our time, and only He knows when our time will come. This is why we as Muslims, whenever we hear of someone dying we say a prayer that reads, "To God we belong, and to Him we will return".

So when events like this happen, we have to know what our responsibilities to these unfortunately people are. God Almighty tells us in the Qur'an,

"Speak to my servants who believed that they must establish regular prayer and spend (charity) out of which We have given them, secretly and openly, until there comes a day in which there will be no selling or befriending. It is Allah who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down the rain from the skies and with brings forth fruit to feed you. It is He who has made the ships subject to you that you may sail through the seas by His command, and the rivers have been made subject as well. He has made the Sun and the Moon subject to you, both diligently pursuing their courses, and thus the night and the day have been made subject to you. And He gives you all that you ask for. If you try to count the favors of Allah, you will never be able to number them, yet indeed, man is inclined toward injustice and ingratitude." (Qur'an 14:31-34)

Giving charity is therefore a command by Almighty God. God beautifully outlines the ways in which all of the worlds natural resources have been given to our disposal to use for our benefit. We have a fundamental responsibility to God to spend out of that which we have given to help those who are in need. And, it is important to note as well that even people who don't have money, can still give charity.

The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was known even before being a prophet for his honesty, uprightness, and charity. As God says in the Qur'an that to love God is to obey God and his messenger (Muhammad), we should look also to the recorded sayings of our last prophet Muhammad. He is reported to have said,

"It is imperative that everyone performs acts of charity every day that the sun shines in the sky in order to show gratitude to God for every joint and faculty of their body. It is charity to restore peace between two people with strained relations. It is a charity to give a stranded person a ride and to carry his load. It is a charity to speak kind words. Every step one takes towards the mosque for prayer is charity and removing litter or objectionable things from peoples' path is a charity."

Most certainly now, in their darkest hour, the Haitian people are in state of complete distress and it is imperative that we Muslims, as well as all people of good conscious whether they be Christian, Jew, Hindu, Bhuddist, athiest,etc... come to the aid of these people who are in distress as well as all people that are in distress. Some evil people who claim to servants of God have made comments about this incident. Pat Robertson, a Christian televangelist and host of the "700 Club", said that the earthquake happened because the Haitian people were "cursed" because of some story of them selling their souls to the devil to rid themselves of the French back during colonial years. Thankfully the Christian community at large denounced this filth that all to often flows from this man's mouth.
While thankfully I haven't heard of any Muslims saying anything like that, I wonder though, where is all the humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia, Egypt or other wealthy Muslim countries? Oh there isn't any. This is yet just another example of the corruption of so-called Muslim countries to do what is most fundamentally Islamic and help their fellow human beings. So far the only Muslim country I know that has pledged aid is Turkey. Good for them, and may Allah reward them for their generosity. As for the wealthy gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, etc... who at least thus far haven't pledged any aid, let me remind them of the words of Almighty God in the Qur'an,

"Have you seen the one who denies the Day of Judgment?
He is the one who drives away the Orphan
He is the one who doesn't feed the poor
So woe to those who pray (Muslims)
But are heedless of their prayer
Those who only make a show of their good deeds
And withhold the most basic of assistance (to the needy)"
(Qur'an 107)

Thankfully many Muslim organizations here in this country have stepped up to the plate to assist the Haitians, who are of course predominately Catholic. A good friend of mine, Naeem Muhammad, singer from Native Deen and also works with Islamic Relief, is on his way now to Haiti to participate in the relief effort. The Islamic Society of North America has also started a relief fund. I encourage all my Muslim brothers and sisters and all my fellow human beings to donate generously to these funds or to other mainstream organizations such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, etc... to help the people of Haiti. May Almighty God ease the burden of the people of Haiti, may He guide them through the darkness of this time, and may He give them peace and prosperity in the time to come.

...And Allah Knows Best....

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