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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Respecting Parents

By Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr

I. INTRODUCTION

In America there are many special days set aside to honor and appreciate
special people. Some of these are: Father's Day, Mother's Day, Grandfather's
Day, Grandmother's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. We do realize the
significance of these occasions and we recognize the ideas, ideals, and
philosophies of such days. We appreciate the efforts of those who initiated
these occasions for the recognition and appreciation of special people.

As for the appreciation of parents, we admire the efforts of children who
remember their parents on such occasions by sending them greeting cards and
gifts. However, we hope that the appreciation is not for one single day in a
year, but for every day throughout the year.

II. PARENTS IN QUR'AN


A Muslim child should respect and appreciate his or her parents every day
throughout the year. Allah asked human beings to recognize their parents
after recognition Allah Himself. Throughout the Qur'an, we notice that
parents are mentioned with appreciation and with respect, even if they are
senile. In Surah Al-Isra' (Children of Israel) there is a very beautiful
description of how parents are to be treated. Allah (swt) says:

"Your Lord had decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show)
kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with you,
say not "Fie" unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious
word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My
Lord! Have mercy on them both, as they did care for me when I was young."
[17:23-24]

The recognition and respect of parents is mentioned in the Qur'an eleven
times; in every instance, Allah reminds children to recognize and to
appreciate the care and love they have received from their parents. In one
aspect, Allah demands that children recognize their parents by saying to
them:

"We have enjoined on man kindness to parents." [29:8/46:15]

1. The demand for recognizing parents is made more emphatic when Allah
says in the Qur'an Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) the following:

"And (remember) when We made a covenant with the children of Israel,
(saying): worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents..."
[2:83]

2. In Surah Al-Nisaa' (The Women) Allah (swt) emphasized again that
children should be kind to their parents.

"And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) Kindness unto
parents... " [4:36]

3. In Surah Al An'Am (The Cattle), Allah (swt) reemphasized that people
should be kind to their parents.

"Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord has made a sacred
duty for you; that you ascribe nothing as partner unto Him and that you do
good to parents..." [6:151]

III. MOTHERS

Although Islam recognized both parents, mothers are given particular
gratitude and respect. This attitude of Islam is understood if we realize
the hardships and the suffering that mothers experience in their lives. In
this regard, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (R) that a man came to the Prophet (pbuh)
and asked him, 'Who is to be close to my friendship?' The Prophet (pbuh)
answered:

Your mother, your mother, your mother, then your father, then the one
closest to your kinship, and the one after.

Islam has endorsed respect for parents by their children even if the parents
are non-Muslims. If parents strive very hard to convert their children to
non-Islamic beliefs, they don't follow them, but they are to be good to
them. In this regard, Allah (swt) says in Surah Luqman:

"And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents--his mother beareth
him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years--Give thanks
unto Me and unto your parents. Unto Me is the journeying. But if they strive
with you to make you ascribe unto Me as partner that of which you have no
knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and
follow the part of him who repents unto Me. Then unto Me will you return,
and I shall tell you what you used to do.--" [31:14-15]

IV. MORE RESPECT

Islam teaches us that respect for parents comes immediately after praying to
Allah and before Jihad (struggle and striving in the way of Allah). In this
respect, the Prophet (pbuh) said the following:

Narrated by Abi Abder Rahman Abdullah bin Massoud (May Allah be pleased with
him) saying: I asked the Prophet (pbuh), "which deed is more liked by
Allah?" He replied, "Prayers on time." Then I asked, "Which one is next?" He
said, "Goodness to parents." Then I asked, "Then which one is next?" He
said, "Jihad in the way of Allah." (Agreed)

In Islam, respect for parents is so great that the child and his wealth are
considered to be the property of the parents. In this regard, the Prophet
(pbuh) said:

Narrated by Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that a person came to the
Prophet (pbuh) to resolve his dispute with his father regarding a loan given
to the father. The Prophet (pbuh) said to the person,"You and your wealth
are to your father."

V. FINAL REMARKS

We hope and we pray that all of us will respect our parents while they are
alive and even after they are dead. You may honor your parents after they
died through the following methods:

1. Make daily Du'a' for them

2. Give a charity on their behalf

3. Institute a perpetual charity on their behalf - such as a Masjid, an
Islamic Center, an Islamic Library, an Islamic hospital, an orphanage, a
senior citizen's home, etc.

4. Perform Hajj on their behalf or ask someone to do so.

5. Read Qur'an on their behalf

6. Distribute Islamic Literature on their behalf

Let us pray to Allah that we will do our best to respect our parents, to
honor them, to be kind to them, to help them, and to please them for the
love of Allah.

O Allah! Accept our humble prayers and make us obedient servants to you.

O Allah! Help us to be respectful children to our parents. Ameen.

Meaning of Love

A man once fell madly in love with a beautiful woman. He followed her for
days and finally went up to her on the street and declared his undying,
all-consuming love.

He went on and on, and finally the woman interrupted, "Your words are
lovely, but my sister is coming along behind me. She is far more beautiful
than I am, and I'm sure that you will prefer her to me."

As the man spun around to took at the beautiful sister, the woman slapped
him sharply on the back of his neck. She exclaimed, "I thought you said that
your love for me was all-consuming and undying. Some love you have! The
instant I mentioned a more beautiful woman, you turned away from me to took
at her. You don't even know the meaning of love!"

Some Beliefs in Britain 2001 Posted by Hello

Hell

A Muslim wrote:-

Some Muslims and others believe that Hell is a myth or that Hell is not forever. These are false ideas:-

"And then they say: Hell fire shall not touch us save for a few number of days. Say: Have you taken a covenant with Allah? But Allah breaks not His covenant. Or do you say of Allah that which you do not know? Nay, whoever gains an evil gain, and is encompassed by his sins, those are the fellows of the Fire, and they shall dwell therein for ever. But such as act aright, those are the fellows of Paradise, and they shall dwell therein for ever." 2:80-82

.......etc etc


Comment:-

I do not think things are quite as simple as that.

There are many degrees of Hell.One needs to look at all the verses that mention Hell.Here are a few that give a different picture:-

"They shall dwell therein - the torment shall not be lightened from them, nor shall they have respite; Save those who repent after that, and do right (or make amends), for verily, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. " 3:88-89

".... He will say: The Fire is your home, dwell therein for ever, except as Allah wills." Verily, your Lord is Wise and Aware." 6:129

"There is not one of you who will not go down to it (the Fire), that is a fixed Decree of thy Lord. Then We will save those who fear Us; but We will leave the evildoers therein on their knees." 19:71-72"

Surely hell lies in ambush, A destination for those who transgress the bounds, abiding therein for ages." 78:21-23

"O man! Verily, thou are toiling on towards thy Lord, painfully toiling; wherefore shalt thou meet Him!" 84:6

"So I do call as witness the glow of sunset, or the night, and its homing, or the moon in her fullness, ye shall surely travel from stage to stage! What ails them that they believe not? " 84:16-20

One needs to understand what Eternity is.Hell may be a state rather than place, though evil doers make the place in which they are into a Hell.Hell may be Eternal but those put in it may not be there forever.

Some people depending on their deeds could be in Hell forever while others are not.

The evil doers and disbelievers will remain in Hell forever, but if they repent they are no longer evil doers, and it no longer applies to them.

It might be that it seems eternal for those in it.Hell and Paradise are clearly symbolic representations about something outside normal experience. But as the Quran tells us there are conditions on earth which are pale reflections or resemblances of things in heaven.

I do not think we should be dogmatic in this connection.

How would you interpret the following verses:-

"Of them are some who say: Grant me exemption, and draw me not into trial (or temptation). Have they not fallen into the trial already, but Hell surrounds the misbelievers." 9:49"

Verily, he who comes to his Lord guilty, verily, for him is hell; he shall therein neither die nor live." 20:74

"They ask thee to hurry on the doom, but, verily, hell encompasses the misbelievers!" 29:54

Hamid S. Aziz

"The Elect" = "144000" = "Moqarraboon" in Qura'n

"Moqarraboon" = "foremost" = "closest" ( refers to who will be nearestto the throne of God) - From "Adam" to the "END"

The same as 144000 in [Rev. 7:2-4] & [Rev. 14:1-6], "The Elect" in[Matthew 24:30-31]

-------- People in day of judgment (1000 years) - ( 3 Groups) :

[sura 56:7-11]And you shall be three sorts.Then (as to) the companions of the right hand; how happy are the companions of the right hand!And (as to) the companions of the left hand; how wretched are the companions of the left hand! And the foremost are the foremost,These are they who are drawn nigh (to God),

[sura 83:18-21]Nay! Most surely the record of the righteous shall be in the Iliyin.And what will make you know what the highest Iliyin is?It is a written book,Those who are drawn near (to God) shall witness it.

[sura 83:22-28]Most surely the righteous shall be in bliss,On thrones, they shall gaze;You will recognize in their faces the brightness of bliss.They are made to quaff of a pure drink that is sealed (to others).The sealing of it is (with) musk; and for that let the aspirers aspire.And the admixture of it is a water of Tasnim,A fountain from which drink they who are drawn near (to God).

[sura 3:45]The angels said O Mary GOD gives you good news: a Word from Him whose name is `The Messiah Jesus(Isa) the son of Mary. He will be prominentin this life and in the Hereafter and one of those closest to Me.'

[sura 69:19-24]Then as for him who is given his book in his right hand, he will say:Lo! read my book:Surely I knew that I shall meet my account.So he shall be in a life of pleasure,In a lofty garden,The fruits of which are near at hand:Eat and drink pleasantly for what you did beforehand in the days goneby.

[69:25-32]And as for him who is given his book in his left hand he shall say: O would that my book had never been given me:And I had not known what my account was:O would that it had made an end (of me):My wealth has availed me nothing:My authority is gone away from me.Lay hold on him, then put a chain on him,Then cast him into the burning fire,Then thrust him into a chain the length of which is seventy cubits.

------------

[Matthew 24:31]30:And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31:And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

[Revelation 14:1-6]1: And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with himan hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 2: And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3: And they sung as it were a newsong before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4: These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they whichfollow the Lamb whither so ever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5: And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

"Lamb" is symbol of "Christ""Woman" here is symbol of false doctrine [Revelation 17]

Making sense of misfortune

By Dr Mahjabeen Islam

I lost two brothers ages 14 and 15 to a car accident when I was 12, and within 5 years, overwhelmed with his grief my father had a sudden death on a tennis court. Without a tsunami our family was reduced from five to two, with all the males gone. Needless to say this pain that rains from the sky has been an enigma to me and deaths of any kind make me relive by grief.
The condolers sounded trite, for all they had to say was that it was God's will and that we should be patient. Sure enough thought I, His will it may be, though that really did nothing to alleviate my suffering. And where, pray, may I buy this commodity called "patience"?
Those earlier years were arduous for it was hard to make sense of so much tragedy. Years of despondent reflection and reading anything that spoke of death, fate, predestination or the afterlife have finally given me a modicum of acceptance and, I think, understanding.
Many news stories and articles try to talk about the religious perspective of the recent tsunami and one writer for the Friday feature in a Pakistani English newspaper gave a completely secular interpretation of it all being due to tectonic shifts.
"Indeed We have created Man into toil and struggle," (Al-Balad 90:4) says the Qur'aan and perhaps scarred by my losses I agree entirely. Life is really one overrated proposition. By Muslim belief in the Hereafter is greatly superior to this life and according to one Hadith when we get there we will wish that we had asked for all reward in the afterlife rather than this ephemeral one which will also seem a total of us having lived a couple of days.
I have always felt that it is really not the death of the one that dies, but the one that lives on. The dearly departed are released from the toil of this life for a serenity that we cannot imagine. In published data about NDEs or near death experiences in which people have had cardiac arrests but were resuscitated, the next world is reported to be one of incredible peace and pleasure. The refrain in all these NDE reports is that the subject did not want to return to this world but was told that their time had not yet come so they had to. What gives credibility to these reports is the amazing concordance in all of them describing a tunnel with a light at the end of it, seeing predeceased relatives and experiencing an enveloping tranquillity.
The suffering of the survivors is usually intense and seemingly endless. The multifarious struggles: financial, logistic, emotional and spiritual. And the invariable "why me" question, for which no answers come then.
"Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur'aan or are their hearts locked up?" (Surah Muhammad 47:24) is only one of the many verses in the Qur'aan that exhort us to think and reflect on nature and events. "Not a leaf falls without His knowledge," (Surah An'am 6:59) and other verses like: "No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah," (Surah Al-Hadid 57:22) are evidence against events happening randomly or due to tectonic shifts or weather related phenomena.
A Muslim's belief is complete only after his acknowledgment of God, all the prophets, the angels, the books, the Day of Judgment and "qadaa wa qadar" or fate and predestination. Belief in fate and predestination does not in any way release us from responsibility of our actions. The fact that God has full knowledge of all that will be does not reduce us to a robot-like state. Shaykh Fadlallah Haeri explains well in his book "Decree and Destiny" that there was the advent of the Jabbariyya who believed that all was determined by God and Man was powerless, and the Qaddarriya who believed that nothing was predetermined and man was able to control his destiny. Shaykh Haeri states that the reality actually lies somewhere between those two extremes.
"And know that your possessions and your progeny are but a trial, and it is with Allah that lies your highest reward" (Surah Anfaal, 8:28). This verse speaks of how man will be tested and the Qur'aan speaks also of punishment in this world as well as the next. I spent many years trying to figure out how one could tell whether an unfortunate incident was a test or a punishment. At the inception with the moral compass given to us at the time of the Primordial Oath, we are able to distinguish right from wrong and thus tell whether our record has been good, bad or ugly.
In less clear situations, it was Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani's book "Futuhul Ghayb" or Revelations of the Unseen that gave me my answer. He says that it is a punishment if the person complains all the time and is bitter, a test if the person tolerates it with patience and for spiritual elevation if the misfortune is borne with cheerfulness.
On August 19, 1999 a powerful earthquake killed 6000 people in Turkey. The day prior to it the Turkish government had passed a law that would jail any person caught teaching their children the Qur'aan within their home. True to the refrain in the Qur'aan, the revelation in the Qur'aan is only for those who reflect. In the town of Golcuk buildings that were constructed recently were destroyed but a mosque and its minaret built a century earlier stand unscathed. The building next to it is also standing for had it fallen it would have likely damaged the mosque. It is easy to give bland scientific explanations for natural disasters. And yet if one was to reflect and realise that there is nothing that occurs without a reason, a whole lot could be learned from life and events. And we would be a step closer to our Maker, knowing whom, or gnosis, should be our raison d'etre.
In the recent tsunami, the province of Aceh in Indonesia was essentially wiped out. And yet in many affected areas in Indonesia dozens of mosques stand untouched amidst the rubble around them. Secular interpretations say that mosques were better constructed and so escaped damage. However, according to an article by a non-Muslim journalist, in the town of Sigli a mosque made of wood stands whilst surrounding structures have been destroyed.
Whilst rebellious incidents such as the legislation in Turkey just prior to the earthquake have not been reported from Indonesia, it seems to be a matter of whether or not one is able to appreciate the concept of cause and effect that is mentioned in the Qur'aan. Our bad deeds as cause and ravaging disasters as effect, with the House of God bearing silent sombre testimony to His ire. On the happier side a great test for the survivors who lost entire families with an unscathed mosque as though saying that He tests us with our money and our children and those that bear with patience and fortitude earn a great station of closeness with Him and lasting bliss in the Hereafter.

Mahjabeen Islam is a physician practicing in Toledo Ohio.

Friday, February 25, 2005

BEST TIME FOR ....

Best times for making Duaa

Middle of the night:

The Messenger (Peace and Blessing be upon him) said: "The Gates of
Heaven are open at midnight, and a caller calls, 'Is there a supplicant
that his supplication may be granted? Is there a petitioner that his
petition maybe granted? Is there a distressed person so that his distress
may be removed?' At that time, no Muslim makes a Dua but that it is
answered, except for an adulteress who trades with her body, or a person who
gathers his money unlawfully." [Sahih al-Jami' 2968]

At the time of Azan and between it and the Iqamah:

The Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him) said: "A Dua between
Azan and the Iqamat is not refused, so make du'a at that time." [Ibn
Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban]

The Messenger (Peace and Blessing Be upon Him) said: "Two kinds of du'a
are not rejected - or rarely are they rejected - du'a at the time of
the call for prayer, and du'a at the time of fighting when the warriors
are engaged with each other." [Abu Dawud]

On Friday after 'Asr The Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him)
said: "Friday has twelve periods. Among them is a period when no Muslim
asks Allah for anything but He grants it to him. Search for that period
late after 'Asr." [Sahihal-Jami' 8402]

When it is raining:

The Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him) said: "Two kinds of
du'a are not rejected: du'a at the time of the call for prayer, and du'a
during rain." [Abu Dawud]

Being a parent, while fasting and while travelling:

The Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Three types of
du'a are undoubtedly granted: a parent's du'a for his children, du'a of a
fasting person, and du'a of the traveller." [Abu Dawud]

While Making Sujood:

The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him) said: "The servant is
closest to his Lord while in sujud, so ask Allah in that time."

Laylatul-Qadr:

Aisha asked the Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be upon Him) What should I
say on Laylatil-qadr? And he replied, O Allah, indeed you are a
Pardoner,and you love pardon; so pardon me "Allahuma inaka afuuin tuhibul afua
Fahafu Anni"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A WARMONGER EXPLAINS WAR TO A PEACENIK

By Anonymous

PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?

WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of security council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate security council resolutions.

PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.

WM: It's not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.

PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.

PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.

WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.

PN: But coundn't virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the eighties ourselves, didn't we?

WM: That's ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.

PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?

WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.

PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn't our ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?

WM: Let's deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Quaida. Osama BinLaden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.

PN: Osama Bin Laden? Wasn't the point of invading Afghanistan to kill him?

WM: Actually, it's not 100% certain that it's really Osama Bin Laden on the tapes. But the lesson from the tape is the same: there could easily be a partnership between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein unless we act.

PN: Is this the same audio tape where Osama Bin Laden labels Saddam a secular infidel?

WM: You're missing the point by just focusing on the tape. Powell presented a strong case against Iraq.

PN: He did?

WM: Yes, he showed satellite pictures of an Al Quaeda poison factory in Iraq.

PN: But didn't that turn out to be a harmless shack in the part of Iraq controlled by the Kurdish opposition?

WM: And a British intelligence report...

PN: Didn't that turn out to be copied from an out-of-date graduate student paper?

WM: And reports of mobile weapons labs...

PN: Weren't those just artistic renderings?

WM: And reports of Iraqis scuttling and hiding evidence from inspectors...

PN: Wasn't that evidence contradicted by the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix?

WM: Yes, but there is plenty of other hard evidence that cannot be revealed because it would compromise our security.

PN: So there is no publicly available evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

WM: The inspectors are not detectives, it's not their JOB to find evidence. You're missing the point.

PN: So what is the point?

WM: The main point is that we are invading Iraq because resolution 1441 threatened "severe consequences." If we do not act, the security council will become an irrelevant debating society.

PN: So the main point is to uphold the rulings of the security council?

WM: Absolutely. ...unless it rules against us.

PN: And what if it does rule against us?

WM: In that case, we must lead a coalition of the willing to invade Iraq.

PN: Coalition of the willing? Who's that?

WM: Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy, for starters.

PN: I thought Turkey refused to help us unless we gave them tens of billions of dollars.

WM: Nevertheless, they may now be willing.

PN: I thought public opinion in all those countries was against war.

WM: Current public opinion is irrelevant. The majority expresses its will by electing leaders to make decisions.

PN: So it's the decisions of leaders elected by the majority that is important?

WM: Yes.

PN: But George Bush wasn't elected by voters. He was selected by the U.S. Supreme C...-

WM: I mean, we must support the decisions of our leaders, however they were elected, because they are acting in our best interest. This is about being a patriot. That's the bottom line.

PN: So if we do not support the decisions of the president, we are not patriotic?

WM: I never said that.

PN: So what are you saying? Why are we invading Iraq?

WM: As I said, because there is a chance that they have weapons of mass destruction that threaten us and our allies.

PN: But the inspectors have not been able to find any such weapons.

WM: Iraq is obviously hiding them.

PN: You know this? How?

WM: Because we know they had the weapons ten years ago, and they are still unaccounted for.

PN: The weapons we sold them, you mean?

WM: Precisely.

PN: But I thought those biological and chemical weapons would degrade to an unusable state over ten years.

WM: But there is a chance that some have not degraded.

PN: So as long as there is even a small chance that such weapons exist, we must invade?

WM: Exactly.

PN: But North Korea actually has large amounts of usable chemical, biological, AND nuclear weapons, AND long range missiles that can reach the west coast AND it has expelled nuclear weapons inspectors, AND threatened to turn America into a sea of fire.

WM: That's a diplomatic issue.

PN: So why are we invading Iraq instead of using diplomacy?

WM: Aren't you listening? We are invading Iraq because we cannot allow the inspections to drag on indefinitely. Iraq has been delaying, deceiving, and denying for over ten years, and inspections cost us tens of millions.

PN: But I thought war would cost us tens of billions.

WM: Yes, but this is not about money. This is about security.

PN: But wouldn't a pre-emptive war against Iraq ignite radical Muslim sentiments against us, and decrease our security?

WM: Possibly, but we must not allow the terrorists to change the way we live. Once we do that, the terrorists have already won.

PN: So what is the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security, color-coded terror alerts, and the Patriot Act? Don't these change the way we live?

WM: I thought you had questions about Iraq.

PN: I do. Why are we invading Iraq?

WM: For the last time, we are invading Iraq because the world has called on Saddam Hussein to disarm, and he has failed to do so. He must now face the consequences.

PN: So, likewise, if the world called on us to do something, such as find a peaceful solution, we would have an obligation to listen?

WM: By "world", I meant the United Nations.

PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the United Nations?

WM: By "United Nations" I meant the Security Council.

PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the Security Council?

WM: I meant the majority of the Security Council.

PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the majority of the Security Council?

WM: Well... there could be an unreasonable veto.

PN: In which case?

WM: In which case, we have an obligation to ignore the veto.

PN: And if the majority of the Security Council does not support us at all?

WM: Then we have an obligation to ignore the Security Council.

PN: That makes no sense.

WM: If you love Iraq so much, you should move there. Or maybe France, with all the other cheese-eating surrender monkeys. It's time to boycott their wine and cheese, no doubt about that.

PN: I give up!

Why does Allah the Lord use the word "We" to refer to Himself?

by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Question. We already know Allah our lord is One. As in Surah al-Ikhlas 112:1-4. But why does Allah the Lord use the word “We” to refer to Himself in many verse or ayat in the Qur’an? For example He says in Surah al-Anbiya’ 21:107 “And We did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the world.” The word “we” is plural, more than one. Why does Allah use “We” instead of “I” to refer to Himself? (Izani Mahayudin bin Abd Aziz, Malaysia)
Answer. The Qur’an says very clearly that there is only One God, Allah. “There is no god but Allah” is the basic principle of Islam. There is no ambiguity about this fact in the Qur’an and there are hundreds of ayat or verses of the Qur’an that make this point very clear. Belief in more than one God is Shirk (polytheism) and a major sin according to the Qur’an.
Whenever in the Qur’an Allah is mentioned in the third person there are always singular pronouns used, such as He, him (Huwa or Hu). Whenever Allah is spoken to in the second person there are also singular pronouns, such as Thou, Thine and Thee (Anta, Ka). However only in the first person some times the pronouns I, My or Mine (Ana, Iyaya, ya) are used and sometimes We, Us and Our (Nahnu, Na) are used.
This is a style of speech. Sometime the speaker says I and sometime says we. We also use that in our conversations. In the Qur’an you will see that often the first person singular such as I or My is used, when Allah speaks about His love, care and closeness and forgiveness for His servants. In a similar way the first person plural is often used when Allah speaks about His power, majesty, glory, great deeds or when He speaks about His anger and wrath for the sinners and criminals. (This is, of course, the general use. Sometime the reverse is also the case, depending on the context of the Surah.)
See for example the verses where the first person singular is used: “When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way.” (al-Baqarah 2:186) Or “Verily, I am Allah: there is no god but I: so serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.” (Taha 20:14) or “But, without doubt, I am (also) He that forgives again and again, to those who repent, believe, and do right, who, in fine, are ready to receive true guidance.” (Taha 20:82) or see another example where both pronouns are used side by side, “Before them the People of Noah rejected (their Messenger): they rejected Our servant, and said, “Here is one possessed!” and he was driven out. Then he called on His Lord: “I am one overcome: do Thou then help (me)!” So We opened the gates of heaven, with water pouring forth. And We
caused the earth to gush forth with springs. So the waters met (and rose) to the extent decreed. But We bore him on an (Ark) made of broad planks and caulked with palm-fiber: She floats under Our eyes (and care): a recompense to one who had been rejected (with scorn)! And We have left this as a Sign (for all time): then is there any that will receive admonition? But how (terrible) was My Penalty and My Warning? (al-Qamar 54:9-16)
See also some verses where the first person plural is used: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (al-Hijr 15:9) or “We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, but for just ends. And the Hour is surely coming” (al-Hijr 15:85) or “And among His Signs is this: thou seest the earth barren and desolate; but when We send down rain to it, it is stirred to life and yields increase. Truly, He Who gives life to the (dead) earth can surely give life to (men) who are dead. For He has power over all things.” (Fussilat 41:39). Or “Already has Our Word been passed before (this) to Our Servants sent (by Us). That they would certainly be assisted. And that Our forces, they surely must conquer. So turn thou away from them for a little while. And watch them (how they fare), and they soon shall see. Do they wish (indeed) to hurry on our Punishment? But when it descends into the open space before them, evil will be the
morning for those who were warned (and heeded not) (al-Saffat 37:171-177). There are many other examples.
Christian writers in their desperate desire to prove their doctrine of Trinity have sometime interpreted some Biblical passages where first person plural is used to suggest that this means the “Divine Trinity”. For example in the Bible it is mentioned, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image¦” (Genesis 1:26). Christian writers contend that this means that there is plurality in God (We seek Allah’s forgiveness for mentioning this blasphemy.) Sometime Christian missionaries also go to simple Muslims and try to confuse them by taking some verses from the Qur’an and tell them that the Qur’an also supports such doctrines. I tried to explain this point in some detail, because I have often heard this type of questions from some Christians.

KU students dispel the stereotypes of arranged marriages

by Samara Nazir
Source: The University Daily Kansan


For Sheba Shaffie, a psychiatrist in Overland Park, the marriage process all happened so fast. Her soon-to-be husband Khalid was visiting Pakistan with the intention of finding a wife. His sister-in-law recommended Shaffie, who was interning at the hospital where she worked. Khalid visited Shaffie at the hospital on Feb. 2, 1978, and 15 days later, once both families had made the final arrangements, Shaffie and Khalid were married.

In a predominately love-marriage society, the concept of an arranged marriage may seem startling. But, a majority of people in several Middle Eastern, South and East Asian countries prefer the process. Women are usually not forced into arranged marriages but agree to them for family values and religious, cultural and even personal beliefs.

Shaffie defines arranged marriages as a process without courtship, where an agreement of marriage is made but not forced upon either side. Arranged marriages hold both cultural and religious significance. Arranged marriage is the process preferred by the Pakistani community where Sheba grew up in, so she learned to understand and accept it.

In fact Shaffie even recommends arranged marriages. She says parents, who are making the decision, are the ones who know you the best and go through particular care in picking someone for you.

“When you go to buy a shirt, you look at it from every angle,” Shaffie says. “You try it on, show it to your friends and family and are always willing to get an experts advice.” Why not take the same care with marriage?

For Shaffie, there was also the excitement of getting to know someone in a completely new situation. Plus, she says, she’s able to learn and adjust to Khalid’s personality and traits throughout her marriage.

For Jomana Quaddour, Overland Park junior, an arranged marriage is a possibility. But, she stresses that in no way are arranged marriages as forced upon women in the Arab-Islamic tradition, as many in the United States seem to think. Also, if she were to find someone on her own, it would be acceptable in her family, she says.

According to Quaddour, the father primarily handles the marriage process in the Arab-American culture. If a suitor is interested, he approaches her father and says something like, “I am interested in your daughter and would like to meet her.”

In such a scenario, Quaddour’s father would then get to know the guy through others who know him. If the suitor is someone Quaddour might be interested in, and meets his criteria, her father would then suggest she get to know him as well.

“It is important to know what influences a person’s behavior, or how religious he is, and if his values and ideas are similar to mine and my family’s,” Quaddour says. Parents taking the time to learn this information is why she says she thinks the Islamic divorce rate is lower than the American divorce rate.

Hamed Ghazali, Islamic scholar and principal of the Islamic School of Greater Kansas City, agrees that the elimination process of potential candidates provides safety in a marriage and contributes to fewer divorces.

The misunderstanding of forced arranged marriages, Ghazali says, arises from misinterpreting Islamic beliefs. For instance, it is stated in Islamic scripture that a woman must have the consent of her parents before marrying. This can be misinterpreted as the parents having full authority over their daughter’s marriage. He understands that requiring parents consent may sometimes lead to forced marriages, but states that such cases seldom occur and have little religious merit to back them.

Arranged marriages are also custom in the Indian culture. Seeing her grandparents still in love and witnessing her parents successful marriage, both in arranged marriages, Deepti Mathur, Topeka senior, prefers to have a traditional arranged marriage based on personal preference.

To her, arranged marriages are more realistic because people have a different mentality going into them. It isn’t just about love; it also incorporates other aspects of a person’s life.

Arranged marriages in the Indian culture work through family networking. Mathur’s parents, as well as her relatives, will collectively look for someone who will match well with her personality. It brings unity among family members because everyone has a role in the process, and each person is enthusiastic about making it work, she says.

Once her parents find someone they are interested in, the parents of both families arrange a time to meet. A person marries into a family, not just to the individual person, so it is important for the families to connect. If things go well, the parents introduce their children. After the guy and girl get to know each other, they tell their parents if they are interested in marrying each other or not.

Although no exact statistic for arranged marriages is available, The U.S. News and World report does state that approximately 95 percent of marriages in India are arranged, and divorce is seldom heard of.

Shaffie, Quaddour and Mathur acknowledge the negative connotation associated with arranged marriages in Western society. From a professional viewpoint as a psychiatrist, Shaffie thinks that lack of opportunities for people in the Western culture to experience or talk about arranged marriages causes preconceived notions that the process is forced. Americans hear about arranged marriages through the media, which pick dramatic stories to portray. Shaffie suggests that those in or accustomed to arranged marriages educate others on the matter because, after 27 years of being happily married, Shaffie says she has found no reason for regret.

Muslim Youth and Drugs: The Reality

Lobna Mulla

Drug use. “It only happens to those ‘Americans.’ My son or daughter would never do such a thing — they are good kids. They stay out of trouble and they go with me to the masjid.” Are you really convinced this is true? Unfortunately, these statements are all too common and are a reflection of the state of denial and/or naiveté in which we live. The sad reality is that there are more Muslim youth involved in drugs than we wish to know about. Drug use among Muslims is a creeping enemy that involves the abuse of substances ranging from the inhaling of household products (paint, sprays, etc.) to shooting heroin.

“… But we live in a good neighborhood, and my child goes to an Islamic school.” The list of statements of denial continues, but the reality cannot be reasoned away. Regardless of their gender, age, economic or social status, or ethnicity, Muslim youth are not immune to the dangerous world of drugs. And the more we — the American Muslim community — deny this problem, the worse it will get.

So what can we do? First, we must openly talk about drugs. We must remove the tape from the sealed box that we’ve thrown into the darkest corner of our closet — along with other taboo topics such as premarital sex and alcohol.

To get some sense of the extent of this problem, The American Muslim interviewed several youth and adults, and asked them to share their exposure to drug use. Although we began writing this article thinking we would find only one or two youth that may have dabbled in marijuana or who know someone else who had, what we learned was shocking. Of all those interviewed, 70% knew of a Muslim who was or is involved with drugs, and 50% said they had been offered marijuana or had seen it in school.

In this article, we will share two accounts of Muslim youth involvement with drugs, and the discussions of Muslim youth as to why some of them may succumb to drugs, as well as ways to prevent its use. The two youth that we will talk about are unknown to each other, but they share similar backgrounds. They both come from upper-middle class, suburban immigrant families, and were both born and raised in the United States. They both started out experimenting with marijuana. However, the two of them live very different lives today.

To begin, Ibrahim’s parents were well known and active members of the community and local masjid. Ibrahim attended private school most of his life, received good grades, and participated in sports. So with all of these positive factors, what went wrong? Well, as many children of immigrant families experience, Ibrahim had a hard time fitting in with the other students at school, so he began associating with the wrong type of friends. By the time he was 16, he was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Within two months of his first use, he was smoking marijuana three times a week.

When The American Muslim asked Ibrahim how and why he started, he stated, “I was on a trip with a friend, and we were approached by a total stranger who offered us marijuana… It was just something to do.” He said that he had never previously contemplated using it. He continued, “It was peer pressure. I wanted to fit in, so if my friends were doing it, I needed to do it too. In retrospect, I had an identity crisis. I didn’t have a strong sense of self-worth and I definitely did not have a Muslim identity. The combination of wanting to fit in and not knowing who I should be didn’t give me any reason to avoid using marijuana. Using it became a method to escape reality.”

The point to learn from this account is that our teens do not have to search hard for drugs — in fact, they don’t even have to actively seek them. Simply being in the wrong state of mind and feeling negatively about himself and his parents made Ibrahim vulnerable to suggestion, and that was all that was needed to convince him to try marijuana.

Negative associations was key to Ibrahim’s experimentation with drugs. We asked him what attracted him to his friends, and he told us that it had to do with losing respect for his parents. Ibrahim had an attitude of “What do they know?” towards them, and their relationship suffered from poor communication. “The farther I got away from family ties, the closer I got to shady types who were involved in nefarious activities. High school is all about fitting in. You are with the same people day in and day out, so you want to become like them.”

Alhamdulillah, Ibrahim turned around. After a bad experience with marijuana in the 12th grade, he stopped using it. Starting college and leaving his old high school friends was also a way out for him. He didn’t feel pressured into fitting in with anyone in college. “If you are still with the same group of friends in college, you are finished. But for me, I left them behind… I had a new beginning.” Over the course of the next five years, Ibrahim re-entered Islam and gradually dropped other un-Islamic practices such as drinking and dating. He is now an active member of his community.

The second Muslim youth we will talk about who succumbed to drugs is Laila. She also started with marijuana, but at a much earlier age — she started smoking in the 6th grade and had tried heroin by the 9th grade. Unfortunately, Laila’s story is far different from Ibrahim’s — we were unable to speak to her directly because she is currently in jail. We interviewed her father, Ahmed, who told us that the signs of use were there, but he didn’t pay attention to them until it was too late.

He admitted that he and his wife, from whom he is now divorced, fought a lot. He described his family as “dysfunctional.” When we asked why he felt his daughter had used drugs, he replied, “The American Medical Association suspects that some people have a genetic inclination towards addiction. It is a disease that makes people deny they have a problem. Addicts use drugs because they feel misery, whether perceived or real. So they use drugs to escape their misery, while the drugs themselves perpetuate feelings of depression. It becomes a vicious cycle.”

Ahmed added that Laila felt inadequate and had low self-esteem. “When the television portrays beautiful women to be only blond-haired and blue-eyed, and you aren’t, you feel like crap. So you try to do what it takes to be accepted. All of her friends at school were white, and Laila wanted to fit in. So if they did drugs, she did drugs.”

As to how she started, Ahmed felt that it began with experimentation. “At that age, kids always want to experiment so they experiment with all the things society tells them they shouldn’t. This desire to experiment coupled with a dysfunctional family set the stage for her drug use. From the many hours I spent in rehabilitation with my daughter, I made an important observation. I saw that females went into heavy drug use when their mothers weren’t there for their daughters, and males did the same when their fathers neglected them.”

When Ahmed attempted to take charge of the situation, it was already a losing battle. Laila is addicted to heroin, the most addictive drug of its kind. Although several attempts at rehabilitation have been made, she has always ended up back on drugs. Although she stayed sober long enough to graduate from college with a 4.0, she soon resumed her life as an addict. Ahmed said that his daughter feels that she can “have fun now, and wise up later… The problem with this mentality is that only 5% of these addicts ever get the chance to wise up. The rest either die from an overdose, get killed, or end up in jail.

“The world of drugs is scary and dangerous,” added Ahmed. “Drug dealers now deal on credit and make home deliveries. My daughter is 20-years old and can’t support her $500-a-week habit on her own, so she resorts to illegal activities. She’s now in jail for smuggling and stealing.”

Reasons Youth Use Drugs

As the above accounts reflect, the main reason youth use drugs is to feel popular or fit in. This desire coupled with feelings of insecurity and curiosity can motivate them to do things that they know are wrong. Many aspects of middle school and high school life conflict with Islamic teachings: dances, dating, parties and revealing clothing. If they are not counterbalanced with alternatives, Muslim youth will justify engaging in bad activities to satisfy their desire to fit in.

Mohammed, 19, was asked to describe his exposure to drugs in high school. “I used to go to parties because I wanted to be like everyone else, telling myself I wasn’t going to do anything haram, which I didn’t. However, the environment was very bad. It’s just like you see it on television — someone would come up to you and say, ‘Hey, want to take a hit [smoke marijuana].’ And then if you don’t, they continue to offer and say, ‘Come on man, it’s good stuff.’ Alhamdulillah, I never touched anything, but the pressure is strong. My advice is to avoid these situations altogether.”

Another youth, Mariam, 18, said that the temptation to fit in is very strong. Even as a young Muslimah who wears hijab, Mariam was offered marijuana in high school. “People who used pot at school felt that everyone should participate in smoking it.” Mariam also said that being surrounded by drugs makes you accept it more. “It grows on you,” reflected Mariam, “… even to the point where I really wanted to try it.”

Ways to Prevent Drug Use

Solving the problem of youth involvement in drugs requires youth, parents and the community working together. These are recommended solutions:

Parents

As parents, we must first look at how we raise our sons and daughters. Open communication between parents and children must be established and encouraged. Suhail Mulla, a social worker who deals with troubled teens and their families, made these comments: “Many parents who immigrated here came for material benefit — whether they be Latinos, Asians, Persians, etc. But in the process of seeking material gains, they lost their children. All too often, parents are naïve of their surroundings, while their children are eaten up by society.”

“Discipline and communication,” continued Suhail, “are key to having a healthy family life. I see many families that are lacking a full system of discipline. Parental expectations need to be well defined, and consequences for not meeting these expectations must be in place and enforced. Muslim parents living in the United States must be ready to meet the challenges of raising teens in a dangerous environment.”

Mariam also had advice for parents, “Get on the same level with your children, and get closer to them. Don’t try to cover up subjects like drugs and sex. They are more knowledgeable of these things at a younger age.” She also felt that parents should explain to their children that they are different from others because they are Muslim.

The idea that needs to be emphasized here is that drugs are everywhere, and we are foolish if we believe that our children will never see or think about them, or even use them.

Youth

It is important that Muslim youth associate with other good Muslim youth in order to follow the Qur’an and “enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil.” One way that youth can seek positive associations and support is to join or start a Muslim Student Association at school. Ibrahim, whose story was shared earlier in this article told us, “Muslim teens shouldn’t just look for other Muslims, but good ones. I smoked my first cigarette with my Muslim friend in the alley behind a masjid.”

Mohammed shared his father’s advice against using drugs, “Your deen is like a cup. Once you do something haram, it gets cracked and it leaks. The more your cup leaks, the sooner it will break, and the easier it becomes to do more haram.”

Mariam also commented, “If your Islam isn’t established by the time you reach high school, you will submit to the pressures.” A similar sentiment was shared by Rhonda, 21: “I didn’t take drugs because of my strong foundation. When I saw others doing drugs in school, I wasn’t even interested.” Again, keeping good company, avoiding tempting situations, and striving to practice Islam fully are the best measures for staying away from drugs.

Community

It is imperative for our local masjids to provide alternatives to the many temptations present in our society. Classes, sports, and social gatherings should be offered to youth. Friday and Saturday night activities are especially important for older teens.

Suhail felt that all youth activities should be centered around the masjid. “We have to change our whole mentality towards the youth. They have to be the focus of what happens at the masjid; otherwise drug use is going to continue and get worse.”

We must be mindful, however, of the false sense of security some parents feel because their families are active at the masjid. Several of the youth interviewed mentioned that some of the parents of drug users were active members of the community, but were absolutely clueless about their children’s problem. Some of the users even attend the masjid regularly themselves. A particular masjid has such a bad problem with marijuana use among some of its youth that they are constantly trying to stop them from smoking it on masjid grounds. The emphasis of masjid programs must be on fulfilling the needs of our youth.

Open forums on issues such as drug use must also be made available. In this manner, teens will realize that they are not alone in feeling affected by the pressures of school and society. Ahmed, Laila’s father, urged me to share this message with our readers: “Mosques should be more aware of the social needs of the Muslims and offer a healthy environment where boys and girls can meet and get to know one another. Our youth need to feel as though they belong. The Muslim community must abandon the emphasis on appearances, and look at the substance of the people. We need to stop talking about issues like growing beards, eating halal meat, and wearing galabiyyahs. What is this going to do for us when our kids are doing drugs? During khutbahs, we should talk about the plight of the American Muslims. We are a worthy cause. Discussing our problems is more relevant than discussing those of the Middle East because we live here.”

To summarize, American Muslims really need to wake up and face the reality that is all around us. We must accept the fact that our children are susceptible to all the evils in our environment, including the drugs that surround them everyday. We cannot deny this fact. The only way we can truly protect our children from the influence of drugs is to start interacting with them so that we understand the pressures they face. Please listen to the voices in this article that are calling out — they are just like the voices of your own children.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Muslim students dispel stereotypes

Six visitors find benefits in getting to know United States

By Theresa Hogue
Corvallis Gazette-Times


When Oregon State University junior Rewa Kabbani called her mother in Syria a few days ago and mentioned she was planning on walking to a nearby store, her mother panicked.

"She said, ‘Don't you walk alone in America,'" Rewa recalled. But instead of becoming frustrated, Rewa saw it as yet another opportunity to debunk some myths her family has about the United States.

"It's not gangs all over the streets," she said.

Rewa and five other Muslim students from the Middle East and North Africa attending OSU this fall are keeping busy with more than just a rigorous workload. They are also pulling double duty as ambassadors of their countries, trying to share information about their experiences here with friends and family back home. They've found they have to battle misconceptions from family at home and Americans here.

The group was invited to attend OSU for two years as part of Partnerships for Learning Undergraduate Studies, a U.S. State Department program.

The students are required to volunteer in the community and be spokespeople for their countries. OSU is one of 11 American universities participating in the PLUS program.

"Before I came here, I had misconceptions," Redouane El Mouaddib of Morocco said. "I thought, ‘If you go to America, you will meet with hostile attitudes.' It was the opposite. What you have to convey is America is America. Life is normal."

The students come from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and are all studying humanities. Most are English literature majors, but several have changed their majors to communications or political science upon arrival.

"Ever since I was a little girl, English literature drew my attention," Rewa said. "It introduces you to different worlds you do not have a chance to visit."

But now, through PLUS, a different world is opening up to all the students.

"I want to embark on an exotic experience of exploring traditions and peoples," Safae El Yaaqoubi of Morocco said.

Fatima Alhaj Hasan came to the program with a passion for Shakespeare and Daniel Defoe. Now she is learning to adapt to a heavy academic workload, a relaxed classroom atmosphere, and constantly having to answer questions about her culture and her country, as when a conversation partner wondered where Fatima had seen American films.

"She asked me, ‘Do you have TVs there?'" Fatima said.

"(Someone) asked me, ‘Do you still ride camels?'" Safae laughed.

For Mansour Al Bogami of Saudi Arabia, coming to OSU gives him a chance to clear up some of his own misconceptions about America and give people here a chance to learn more about his home country.

"We share the same culture, we speak the same language," he said of his country and the United States. "But there are some problems of misunderstanding. We want to correct the picture of our two cultures."

"The world is in one of its worst moments," Safae said. "There are tensions between concepts. People back home and people here don't know each other."

It's important, Safae said, to not paint the United States as a perfect world, but to explain to people back home that people here live very similar lives, have similar aspirations and similar dreams, and that you cannot judge the entire country based on the political decisions that make the news.

"On a personal level," Fatima said, "we have benefited. Our characters are different. I used to be childish and spoiled. I feel stronger now."

Mansour said he expected a lot of hostility when he arrived because of his nationality and his faith. Instead, he was welcomed with open arms.

"I received smiles and generous attitudes," he said. "I found it very close to Islamic values."

Rewa said her parents told her she shouldn't wear her hijab, or head scarf, in the United States because it would draw unwanted attention, but she said she discovered wearing it actually makes people smile more and pay more positive attention to her.

"At first it was an unacceptable idea of my traveling here alone," Rewa said. "Wow, that's a long way from Syria to Oregon. But I'm so glad that I made it. I have American friends now. I have grown up so much."

http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2004/10/10/news/community/local07.txt

Stanford Events Highlight Islamic Diversity

by Johanna Sophie Santos Bassetti
Source: Daily Stanford


Islam Awareness Month kicked off last Sunday with the first of four dinner and lecture events in a series titled "A Taste of Islam 2005." Organizers from both the Muslim Student Awareness Network, or MSAN, and the Islamic Society of Stanford University, or ISSU, said they hope that the events will dispel misconceptions that people may have about the religion and highlight the diversity of Islamic cultures.

Each of the dinners in the series will spotlight different Islamic countries, including Egypt, China, Ethiopia and the United States. Organizers said they hope the themed dinners will help defy media portrayals that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

The first speaker event addressed the role of women in the religion, and the events to come will address the concept of Jihad, what it means to be Muslim and the Muslim-American experience.

Sophomore Shelley Cheung, vice president of MSAN and an organizer of Islam Awareness Month, cited a poster for the month's events at Tresidder Memorial Union that was graffitied to say "Terrorism = Jihad," to stress that there are still many myths about the Islamic faith that need to be countered.

"I was extremely saddened by this incident but optimistic that Islam Awareness Month will change the perspectives of many here in our Stanford community in a positive manner," Cheung said.

MSAN began organizing Islam Awareness weeks in 1997 and since then, it has not only become an annual tradition, but has expanded to encompass more information…

SEE ALSO:

SPEAKER AT STANFORD TELLS WOMEN TO RECLAIM ISLAM (02/14/05)
Jennifer Liu, Daily Stanford, 2/14/05
http://daily.stanford.edu/tempo?page=content&id=16117&repository=0001_article

Interpreting of the holy texts is one of the most important ways for Muslim women to assert their rights, said Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary, at an event titled "Clearing the Path to God: Women Reclaiming Islam."

The talk was the first of a series of four during Islamic Awareness Month designed to raise awareness about misconceptions of the Islamic religion, a collaboration between the Muslim Student Awareness Network, or MSAN, and the Islamic Society of Stanford University, or ISSU.

"We're essentially introducing the religious community," said event coordinator and MSAN officer Ali Kemal Okyay, a fourth-year graduate student in electrical engineering. "The talks will introduce what Muslims believe, what we practice, and why we do it. We hope this event will foster greater understanding about Muslims and Islam…"

The new AMERICAN Quran: a dangerous trick

Cant Ignore this, send it to as many muslims as u can.
The new AMERICAN Quran: a dangerous trick A new Quran is being distributed in Kuwait, titled "The True Furqan". It is being described as the ayats of the Shaytan and Al-Furqan weekly magazine has found out that the two American printing companies;'Omega 2001' and 'Wine Press' are involved in the publishing of 'The True Furqan', a book which has also been titled 'The 21st Century Quran'! It is over 366 pages and is in both the Arabic and English languages...
It is being distributed to our children in Kuwait in the private English schools! The book contains 77 Surats, which include Al-Fatiha, Al-Jana and Al-Injil. Instead of Bismillah, each Surat begins with a longer vesion of this incorporating the Christian belief of the three spirits.
And this so called Quran opposes many Islamic beliefs. in one of its verse it describes having more than one wife as fornication, divorce being non-permissable and it uses a new system for the sharing out of the will, opposing the current one. It states that Jihad is HARAAM.
This book even goes as far as attacking Allah, Subhanahu wa Tahala!
All this is poisoning ourchildren at approx. $3.
Brothers and Sisters please make sure you forward this email to as many people as possible so that we can stop this dangerous trick. Dont be personal think like a muslim even you are male or female as muslim can't go beyond the limits and law given by Allah
Please tell everyone you know and may Allah reward you.
DONT BELIEVE IT?.... check the following link

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1579211755/qid%3D1096805827/sr%3D/103-8322190-2082239
http://www.islam-in-

Nasruddin Goes Fishing

One day, Mullah Nasruddin decided to go fishing. He called upon his good friend Rabbi Moishe, got their poles and bait together, rented a small rowboat at the local harbor, and off to sea they went. After an amazing afternoon of fishing, the two men had caught thirty fish. An elated Mullah Nasruddin said to Rabbi Moishel, "Better mark this spot so we can come here tomorrow!" The next day Mullah Nasruddin met up with Rabbi Moishe at the rental harbor for another day of fishing. "Did you mark the spot?" Mullah Nasruddin asked Rabbi Moishe confidentially. "Of couse," replied Rabbi Moishe, "I painted a big white X on the bottom of the rowboat.""You fool!" Shouted Mullah Nasruddin and slapped his forehead, "What if we can't rent that same boat

Leave the future alone until it comes

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful~Leave the future alone until it comes~The Event [the Hour or the punishment of disbelievers and polytheists or theIslamic laws or commandments], ordained by Allah will come to pass, so seek notto hasten it. Qur'an 16:1Be not hasty and rushed for things that have yet to come to pass. Do you thinkit is wise to pick fruits before they become ripe? Tomorrow is non-existent,having no reality today, so why should you busy yourself with it? Why shouldyou have apprehensions about future disasters? Why should you be engrossed bytheir thoughts, especially since you do not know whether you will even seetomorrow?The important thing to know is that tomorrow is from the world of the unseen, abridge that we do not cross until it comes. Who knows, perhaps we might neverreach the bridge, or the bridge might collapse before we reach it, or we mayactually reach it and cross safely.For us to be engrossed in expectations about the future is looked down upon inour religion since it leads to our having a long-term attachment to this world,an attachment that the good believer shuns. Many people of this world areunduly fearful of future poverty, hunger, disease, and disaster: such thinkingis inspired by the Devil.Satan threaten you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha [evil deeds,illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.], whereas Allah promises you forgivenessfrom Himself and Bounty... Qur'an 2:268Many are those who cry because they seem themselves starving tomorrow, fallingsick after a month, or because they fear that the world will come to an endafter a year. Someone who has no clue as to when he will die (which is all ofus) should not busy himself with such thoughts.Since you are absorbed in the toils of today, leave tomorrow until it comes. Beware of becoming unduly attached to future prospects in this world.
Excerpt from: Don't be Sad - 'Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

Sunrise from the West

Please read, very interesting article. (Nasa): Sunrise from the West Get ready, be prepared......Please read, very interesting article. The science of astronomy states that the speed of planet Mars has been>>decreasing in its course toward the eastern direction in the few past>>weeks to the level we notice the "waver" between the east and the>>west..and on Wednesday the 30th of July the planet movement stopped going>>toward the eastern direction..>>Then in the months of August and September...Mars changed its course in>>the opposite direction to the West- and that until the end of>>September..which means the sun will rise now from the west on Mars!!>>>>And this weird phenomena of the opposite movement called "Retrograde>>Motion" Most scientist state that all the planets will go through the same>>once at least and our planet Earth is one of them. Planet Earth will move>>in the opposite direction some day and the sun will rise from the west!!>>>>This might occur soon and we are unaware!>>The rise of the sun from the west is mentioned in the hadith and this is>>the major sign of the day of judgment, most if not All, the minor signs>>have occured. Wake up.>>Our beloved messenger Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said: "One of the signs>>of the hour..the sun will rise from the west, where no longer tauba>>(forgiveness) will be granted" !!>>>>And the strange thing..most of our Shariah scholars mentioned that the>>rise of the sun from the west occurs only once..on that day..the sun will>>rise from the west..then again from the east..and continues until Allah>>wishes..and this is similar to what is happening to Mars..it stops, then>>it changes its course of direction for a short period of time..then>>returns to way once it was.>>>>And Abdullah Bin Amro (R.A.) said: (I memorized from the messenger (Peace>>Be Upon Him) a hadith I will never forget..I heard the messenger of Allah>>(Peace Be Upon Him) say: The first aya to come the rise of the sun from>>the west) [Ahmad]>>>>And the messenger (Peace Be Upon Him) "Allah places HIS hand at night to>>forgive his morning sinners, and places in the morning to forgive his>>night sinners until the sun rises from the west" [Muslim]>>>>This piece of news is very important as it brings with it a great sign of>>warning and remembrance of the coming of a new WORLD - the world of the>>Hereafter And it is also good material for calling others to ALLAH ->>whether for muslims, the unwary of us or the kufar. When we show this>>hadith that was told 1400 years ago about this miracle..you will see>>InshaALLAH, a lot will enter this beautiful religion...And the muslims if>>they see this phenomena happening in Mars..who knows maybe it would bring>>them closer to our CREATOR.>>>>May Allah keep all of us in the Right path and provide us with success in>>this world as well

Wealth, Success And Love

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat."
"Is the man of the house home?", they asked. "No", she said. "He's out." "Then we cannot come in," they replied.
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. "Go tell them I am home and invite them in!" The woman went out and invited the men in.
"We do not go into a House together", they replied.
"Why is that?" she wanted to know.
One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth," he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, "He is Success, and I am Love." Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."
The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice!!," he said. "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!"
His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?"
Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"
"Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice," said the husband to his wife. Go out and invite Love to be our guest."
The woman went out and asked the three old men, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest." Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: "I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?"
The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever he goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!"

Treatment of Cataract from the Qur'an

Medicine of Qur’an



One of the Swiss pharmaceutical companies has started producing a new medicine called "Medicine of Qur’an" which allows the treatment of cataract without
surgery. As the newspaper Ar-Raya, published in Qatar writes, "this drug which was synthesized by an Egyptian doctor Abdul Basit Muhammad from the secretions of human sweat glands and has an effectiveness of 99 per cent with absolutely no side effects, was registered in Europe and the United States. It is also reported that one of the Swiss companies produces the new drug in the form of liquid and eye drops .

The source of inspiration is Surah (chapter) Yusuf. Dr Abdul Basit Muhammad emphasized that he obtained his inspiration from Surah Yusuf and said: "

Once in the morning, I was reading Surah (chapter) Yusuf. My attention
lingered over the 84th and successive ayats (verses).

"Go with this shirt of mine, and cast it over the face of my
father, he will become clear-sighted, and bring to me all your family" (Qura'an
12:93)

They tell that Prophet Yakub who was mourning his son Yusuf (peace be
upon them) in sadness and grief got his eyes turned white and later when
people cast over the sorrowful father's face, the shirt of his son Yusuf, vision
returned to him and he was able to see again. Here I started pondering. What could
be there in the shirt of Yusuf? Finally I arrived at the decision that nothing
except sweat could be on it. I concentrated my thoughts over the sweat and its
composition. Then I proceeded to the laboratory for research.

I carried out a series of experiments on rabbits. The results turned out to be positive. Later I performed treatment on 250 patients by administering the drug twice a day for two weeks. Finally I achieved 99 per cent success and said to myself: " This is the miracle of the Qur’an" Dr Abdul Basit Muhammad presented the results of his research to appropriate institutions in Europe and the United States dealing with patenting of new discoveries for consideration. After tests and research were performed, he finalized a contract with a Swiss company on the production of the medicine on the condition that the package should clearly mention-"Medicine of Qur’an." In the words of the Egyptian scientist, the company accepted his condition and started producing the new drug. Courtesy-Ar-Raya, Qatar)

Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'an-e-Kareem: We send down from the Qur'an
that which is a healing and mercy to those who believe) (QURAAN 17:82)

Protection against blindness:

Recite three times morning and evening: "Subhaanallaahil- azeemi wa
bihamdihi wala hauwla wala quwwata illa billaah" :

"Pure and sublime is Allah. The Mighty and Praise belongs only to Him. There is no Power to save from sins, nor strength to accomplish good but with the Help of Allah."

(From: "Morning & Evening Duaas")

Strengthening the eye-sight (from Qur'an):

Recite this verse three times after every salaah (prayer) for strengthening of eye-sight: "Laqad kunta fie ghaflatim min haadha fakashafna anka ghitaa-aka fabasurakal hadeed": "(It will be said) Thou wast heedless of this, now We have removed thy veil, And sharp is thy sight this day !" (From: "Remedies from the Holy Qur'an.")

Only for Allah

There was a pious man among the Banu Israel who always remained busy in the worship of Allah. A group of people came to him and told him that a tribe living nearby worshipped a tree. The news upset him, and with an axe on his shoulder he went to cut down that tree. On the way, Satan met him in the form of an old man and asked him where he was going. He said he was going to cut a particular tree. Satan said, "You have nothing to be concerned with this tree, you better mind your worship and do not give it up for the sake of something that does not concern you." "This is also worship," retorted the worshipper. Then Satan tried to prevent him from cutting the tree, and there followed a fight between the two, in which the worshipper overpowered the Satan. Finding himself completely helpless, Satan begged to be excused, and when the worshipper released him, he again said, "Allah has not made the cutting of this tree obligatory on you. You do not lose anything if you do not cut it. If its cutting were necessary, Allah could have got it done through one of his many Prophets." The worshipper insisted on cutting the tree. There was again a fight between the two and again the worshipper overpowered the Satan. "Well listen," said Satan, "I propose a settlement that will be to your advantage." The worshipper agreed, and Satan said, "You are a poor man, a mere burden on this earth. If you stay away from this act, I will pay you three gold coins everyday. You will daily find them lying under your pillow. By this money you can fulfil your own needs, can oblige your relative, help the needy, and do so many other virtuous things. Cutting the tree will be only one virtue, which will ultimately be of no use because the people will grow another tree." This proposal appealed to the worshipper, and he accepted it. He found the money on two successive days, but on the third day there was nothing. He got enraged, picked up his axe and went to cut the tree. Satan as an old man again met him on the way and asked him where he was going. "To cut the tree," shouted the worshipper. "I will not let you do it," said Satan. A fight took place between the two again but this time Satan had the upper hand and overpowered the worshipper. The latter was surprised at his own defeat, and asked the former the cause of his success. Satan replied, "At first, your anger was purely for earning the pleasure of Allah, and therefore Almighty Allah helped you to overpower me, but now it has been partly for the sake of the gold coins and therefore you lost."

Source: From the book "Ihyaa-ul Uloom Ud Deen" by Imam Ghazzali (ra).

FROM THE PULPIT - Donating Blood

By Fareena Alam

When I was growing up, my mother had several uncompromising rules - have a glass of milk with a banana twice a day, oil your hair every week (something I never really got used to) and believe it or not, donate blood regularly. You see, Mom was often entrusted with the guardianship of patients, and their troubled families, many of whom would travel from impoverished parts of Bangladesh to seek treatment in the world renowned hospitals of our then home-city, Singapore.
Im Bengali and that usually means that through some genetic miracle, I am related to every other Bengali on this planet. However remote this relation is, I assure you my people always find a connection. As a result, foreign patients and their families often found themselves being delivered home-cooked deshi food by my mother, to be eaten at bedside. On occasion, my parents would invite visiting families to stay at our home, helping them to save on exorbitant hotel bills. I have vivid memories of being compelled to share my own bedroom with an elderly dialysis patient whose health necessitated that my bedroom be turned into a mini dialysis centre.
Looking after the welfare of people my mother had taken under her wing was difficult because for the longest time, it was her mission, not mine. I was just a kid who wanted to be left alone. I didnt want to take the bus to the hospital with bags of food. I didnt want to smell like a twice-daily-dettol-sanitised kidney centre. I didnt want to get up at seven am everyday to help my mother prepare breakfast for all these people. Blood donation, changed the way I felt about all of the above.
I gave blood for the first time in my late teens. A Bangladeshi father had flown in with his dying child who had a rare blood disease. On his last pennies, the father couldnt afford to pay for a bag of blood, which due to the incredible national shortage cost about £25. The only way to help him was for donors to donate blood at the hospital and then signed a form bequeathing the gift to that particular patient. My mother, who was described as Singapores Florence Nightingale in an essay written by a patient who has since passed away, got the whole family, and all our friends trooping off to the blood donation centre, hoping to save the life of this little boy. Alhamdulillah, he lived.
Somewhere along the line, as I began to learn more about my faith and the example set by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and my priorities became clearer. I realised, those years working under my mothers command were priceless. The dogged determination and imagination with which she made others care about those in need had, what I now see as an immensely spiritual dimension. I have no doubt that all the big and small blessings I enjoy can be attributed to Allahs reward for the good deeds of my parents.
I have rarely had to donate for a specific patient, so I donate for the general blood bank now. The needle scars on my arms are something I have always been proud of. Not only is blood always in short supply, the process is proven to be medically beneficial for the donor because it encourages your body to gear up and produce new, fresh blood.
I recently met an imam from Cameroon. In 1990, both his mother and aunt died because they didnt receive blood transfusions in time - no one would give blood except to members of their own family. Since then he has been on a mission. He set up the first voluntary blood register in Cameroon, establishing offices across the country. He organises for the blood to be tested regularly for HIV and pays for students to be taken by bus, in journeys taking up to four hours, to give blood at regional hospitals. He has been working with people of all faiths to expand the blood register so that anyone who needs blood will have safe donors. He is now raising funds to build Cameroons first independent blood centre. We will be carrying his amazing story in Q-News in the New Year. But, he told me with great sadness that the least amount of help and support for his project has come from Muslims - they are the worst at coming forward to donate blood.
In the United Kingdom, the National Blood Service has recently launched a campaign aimed at ethnic and religious minorities. Whilst only 6% of the eligible population in the UK currently gives blood the vast majority of these volunteer blood donors are white. With Ramadan behind us and the blessed time of Hajj on its way, Muslims know something about giving. Our Prophet, peace be upon him, was the most generous of people and our faith is based on being merciful to others. This year, resolve to do something amazing and save the life of another by giving blood. The National Blood Service has blood donation centres in every part of the country. Visit them at www.blood.co.uk where you can easily find the clinic nearest to you or call 0845 7 711 711. In this time of giving, there is no better gift.

http://www.q-news.com/359.pdf

LEADERS SHMEADERS...what a future leader thinks

What has happened to the world? I am an Australian teenager who is shocked and is in disgust with the powers and leaders of the world. True, I am a teenager who has not lived life and has not experienced the curveballs life throws, but I believe that I have a good grasp on the themes of good and bad. I believe that killing innocent people is wrong. I believe that twisting and shaping evidence in order to target a specific group of people is wrong. I believe that terrorism and that having weapons of mass destruction is wrong. But I also believe in an idea that the world today does not seem to understand or even want to recognize. An idea that in my eyes could be the solution to ending deaths in the mass. This idea is that war is not a necessity.

The funny thing is, that I learnt this theory from the people who are not applying it. Throughout our entire educational life, we are taught that violence is never the way to solve a problem. During our school life we are told to report acts of bullying and that everyone has the freedom to practice their beliefs. However, in reality this theory has been proven to be incorrect. If it were true, then the leaders of countries would not be at war. If it were true, then all these innocent men, women and children would not be dead. If it were true, it would be applied in the real world. Its a fairytale told to little children. Really, its as true as the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. This is not the right thing to be happening, but it is happening. This is what our hypocritical world leaders have tried to make normal. But this is wrong. Just because people have high-ranking positions and are considered very important, that does not exclude them from following the rights and wrongs of
the world. That shouldnt mean they are allowed to apply certain rules when they feel it appropriate and not apply rules when they dont see it appropriate.

Leaders are meant to be servants of their people, not the dictator tyrants we see today. They should be fair, just and unmoved by corruption, blackmail and bribery. Or thats what I was taught when I attended a leadership camp run by the Premiers Department of NSW. Myself, along with another 18 girls between the ages of 15 and 18 attended a camp aimed at helping the youth of today become leaders of their community. This camp was called Shifa, meaning healing, and it was sponsored by the Muslims Womens Association. There, we were taught that good leaders listen to the needs of their people. That they do all they can to help their people and not condemn them. We were taught something which is not seen in any of our leaders today. We were taught the characteristics of a leader as well as how to work as a team. Then we were told that the best thing that would help us become leaders is to be able to identify someone who we believed was a good leader, someone who we looked up to and
admired. However, when we went out into the world we could not find anyone who fit the characteristics we were told we had to acquire. We could not see anyone who was fighting for their people through serving them. We could not see anyone who left war as not the last resort but as no resort. Who practiced what they preached. This I found to be very upsetting. Especially since I am constantly told that I am the future and that I would be the leader of the future.

Why is it that humans cannot all live in a world that no human being owns? Why do leaders who are unable to create peace in their own country feel that they must enforce peace on to other countries? Why do people have to feel scared of their leaders? Why cant the people live in peace? Why was there World War I? Why was there World War II? Why does it look like there will be World War III? These are all very big questions, but there is one very important thing that the whole world should understand: war is not a normal thing. But for some reason people see it as the only solution. When killing people in the mass is seen as the only way for peace; when leaders believe that it is only through death and destruction that peace can be acquired, then there is seriously something wrong with the morals of our leaders.

We should all be able to live in peace. Our differences and our similarities are no reasons why people should die. It is said that as time progresses humans become more aware and wiser when it comes to making decisions. Well I hope that my generation will be wise enough to understand the importance of life. I hope that my generation is able to apply the morals that will encourage peace and not hatred. I hope that in the future war will be the thing of the past. I hope for peace.

By Fatima Mawas

THE FINAL ANALYSIS

People are often unreasonable, Illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, some may destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best youve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God;
If was never between you and them anyway.

Reflections on Black History Month

By Imam Zaid Shakir

Black History Month should be of interest to every Muslim -especially here in America. It is estimated that upwards to 20% of the Africans enslaved in the Americas were Muslim. [1] In some areas, such as the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, and parts of Virginia, the percentages of Muslims in the slave population may have approached 40%. [2] The fact that the search of a random African American, Alex Haley, for his roots led him to a Muslim village in West Africa is indicative of the widespread Muslim presence among the enslaved population here in the Americas. At this critical time in the history of our country, it is important for Muslims, whose legitimate existence in this country is being challenged in some quarters, to connect to our American Muslim roots.

As Muslims, our story in this country did not begin with the coming of Syrians, Lebanese, Albanians, or Yemenis at the turn of the 20th Century and later. It began with those courageous African Muslim slaves whose blood, sweat, and tears were instrumental in building this country. Their struggle is our struggle, and our struggle should be a continuation of theirs. In identifying with those African Muslims, we must not allow ourselves to forget that they were part of a greater community, a community which has evolved to almost fifty million African Americans. The struggle of that community, its pain, perseverance, triumphs, and defeats, cannot be separated from the struggle of its Muslim members. If we as Muslims are moved by the suffering of our coreligionists who were exposed to the dehumanizing cruelties of a vicious system, we should similarly be moved by the plight of their non-Muslim African brothers and sisters who suffered the same injustices. We must also be moved to work
with unwavering conviction to address, within the parameters of our organizational missions, the vestiges of institutional racism which continue to disproportionately affect African Americans and other racial minorities in this country. One statistic alone should be sufficient to alert us to the presence of such racism - 50% of this nation's 2.3 million incarcerated individuals come from her 12% African American population. Similarly discouraging statistics are found in areas ranging from access to higher education, teen pregnancies, high school dropout rates, youth homicides, and many other "quality of death" indicators. African American Muslims have a particular responsibility in addressing such racism. In beginning to do so, we can take our lead from our formerly enslaved brothers. Despite their lack of freedom, many of them were never "owned." This fact is strikingly clear in their increasingly widespread biographies. Individuals such as Ayyub bin Sulayman (Job Ben Solomon),
Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman, and Yarrow Mamout, to name a few, did not allow the ravages of chattel slavery to rob them of their dignity, honor, nor their human worth.

As we endeavor to address the imperfections of society, in race relations and other areas, we must do so with dignity, honor, grace, and with free and open minds. Those of us who hail from the historically oppressed minority communities of this land, must resist the temptation to allow the triumvirate of rage, a sense of victimization, and vengeance to distort our ability to calmly assess and then pragmatically address the many issues confronting us. When such a distortion occurs, delusional thinking and irrational politics usually result. One of the greatest delusions challenging us lies in seeing our situation as paralleling that of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands governed by repressive, authoritarian regimes. By viewing our situation as parallel to theirs we are tempted to view the paradigm of resistance which governs their struggles as valid for our situation. Such an assessment is fallacious for a number of reasons. First of all, most of the significant "Third World"
liberation struggles pitted oppressed majorities against oppressive minorities. In this country, the white majority, and significant segments of the nonwhite minorities, are not so severely affected by structural violence or institutional racism that they view violent, or even aggressive challenges to the status quo as legitimate forms of political expression. Secondly, alternative means of political expression, available in this country, are unavailable in most "third world" dictatorships or authoritarian oligarchies. Hence, the mechanisms whereby the Jews, by way of example, once a despised and demeaned minority in this country, were able to favorably situate themselves within the system, are not available in the previously referenced countries. Similarly, the progress achieved by African Americans in affirmative action, progress which has been steadily eroded, no doubt, could not have been hoped for by oppressed minorities in many other countries.

Whether we view these realities as truly empowering or ultimately co-optive does not negate the fact that they do exist. And as long as they exist, they will be powerful mechanisms to damper the appeal and feasibility of radical challenges to the status quo. Thirdly, while the feasibility of an aggressive, or even violent challenge to the status quo may be debatable in a small, minority-based, "third world" dictatorship, in a society as large, complex, diverse, and, ultimately, as politically conservative as the United States, such challenges would be used to legitimize severe repressive measures which would serve to render even milder forms of dissent less acceptable. While presented here in hypothetical terms, this is actually a recurrent lesson which American history has taught us. The history of "third world" revolutionary change is no more encouraging. Frantz Fanon, in the Wretched of the Earth, his analysis of the Algerian decolonization struggle, saw decolonizing violence as a
cathartic agent which would create a new liberated man. The sad reality created by that violence is documented by Fanon in the last chapter of his work. It led to a litany of mental disorders, which Fanon, a trained psychiatrist, documented all too well. Wreaked lives which the leaders of the nationalist struggle were ill-prepared to repair. Furthermore, thirty years later, the remnants of the nationalist regime which the revolution brought to power would be all too willing participants in a bloodbath that would rival anything the former French colonizers had visited upon the Algerian people. Archbishop Dom Helder Camara, has pointed out that once a spiral of violence begins, it operates on its own internal logic. Injustice leads to revolt. Revolt induces repression. Repression leads to greater injustices, which in turn encourage more radical forms of revolt. These then induce more severe forms of repression.

This spiral continues, unbroken. The challenge for theologians in this age, when the potential destructiveness of war is so great it threatens the very existence of our world, is to devise strategies which can meaningfully enhance our collective wellbeing by peacefully altering the mechanisms of structural violence and institutionalized racism. Muslim theologians, if we are truly "Heirs of the Prophets," Peace and Blessings of God be upon them, should not shy away from this challenge. However, in attempting to meet it, we must resist the temptation to resuscitate the failed strategies, stale ideas, and outdated methods of an ineffective "third world" revolution. In a not too distant past, when standards of political correctness were more closely associated with truth, and not selfish and narrow political agendas, John Kennedy said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." The great theologian Reinhold Niebubr declared, "In the social
struggle we are either on the side of privilege or need." If these two white Americans, who were "privileged" in every sense of that somewhat trite expression, can advocate for the need to challenge oppressive social relations, it would be an unforgivable travesty for our voices to fall silent. The question for us is, "How can we best address the oppressive mechanisms facing us, and those facing our coreligionists in so many redoubts scattered around the globe?" In answering this question, we can gain valuable insight from the lives and struggles of our African Muslim forebears.

Superior erudition was the key to the liberation of Job Ben Solomon. Herein is a sign for us. As American Muslims we have been blessed to reside in the most intellectually dynamic society in history. Also, the primal command in our religion is to read. We should enthusiastically pursue the mandate created by these twin facts and push ourselves to become the most educated community on Earth -in religious and worldly knowledge. In so doing, the miracles which were so clearly manifested in the life of Job Ben Solomon will surely bless our lives. The dignity, nobility, and erudition of Ibrahim 'Abd al-Rahman, qualities which earned him the epithet, "Prince," were instrumental in his liberation from the shackles of bondage. Our day is witnessing the steady degradation of our collective human dignity. We should be a community whose dignity and nobility readily impresses all who deal with us, and more importantly a community whose ethics are a reflection of the true value and depth of the
prophetic teachings. Sadly, as Muslims, generally speaking, we have dishonored the prophetic legacy we have been entrusted with. Our forefathers conquered lands with the loftiness of their character and ethics. We oftentimes repulse dignified outsiders who come into our midst. At the height of American chattel slavery, Yarrow Mamout, an elderly Muslim who had gained his freedom, so impressed the artist Charles Wilson Peale with his dignity, nobility, and grace that the latter, who painted six portraits of George Washington, was inspired to paint Mamout. Who among us would inspire a similarly placed artist today? It is not the purpose of these ruminations to suggest a specific program of empowerment. Power, as the Qur'an emphatically affirms, is God's to give to whomsoever He chooses. [3]

However, a deep knowledge of God, self, and society will certainly yield insights conducive to conformity to the divine ways God has established to invite His empowering grace upon a particular community. Furthermore, history affirms that dignity, nobility of character, and courage have been the indispensable characteristics of those who were able to take the oftentimes unpopular stands which helped to usher in fundamental change -by the Will of God. In speaking of unpopular stands, we are not merely speaking of those which may place us in opposition to an unjust power structure, but similarly those which may place us in opposition to our race, tribe, class, or even our coreligionists. Popularity has never been a condition for greatness. However, the acts of a great woman may certainly render her popular to those whose lives are bettered by her acts. In conclusion, Islam is calling us to be bigger than what the world has made us. If the world has made us members of a "disadvantaged" race, class, ethnicity, or gender, the world wants us to be dehumanized by the ensuing rage, sense of victimization, and a quest for vengeance. Perhaps the greatest manifestation of that dehumanization is the loss of hope. For our African Muslim ancestors enslaved in this land, Islam was always a source of hope, dignity, and for many, as we have mentioned, the key to their liberation. For those who never escaped the shackles of physical bondage, Islam provided the basis for their rising above the dehumanization of the chattel system. In the words of Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf, "The African Muslims may have been, in the Americas, the slaves of Christian masters, but their minds were free. They were the servants of Allah." [4] As they were, so too should we be.

Imam Zaid Shakir, February 2004 Hayward, California
[1] See Sylviane A. Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, (New York, London: New York University Press, 1998) p. 48.
[2] Diouf, p. 47.
[3] See Al-Qur'an 3:26-27.
[4] Diouf, p. 210.

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