Saturday, November 29, 2014

Don’t Wait – Live Productively While Young

Life often gets very busy for many young Muslims as they try to balance deen with studies, work, community projects and other commitments. But being ‘busy’ does not always translate into productivity.

Have you ever heard the story of the people of the cave?


In the narration [Qur'an: Chapter 18, Verses 9-26], some young men were described as having their hearts filled with faith and belief in their Lord Almighty. Hence, they sought refuge in a cave away from their disbelieving folks and loved ones, so as to protect themselves against disbelief.


They simply did not keep the faith in their hearts, but took action as well. This motivated them to remain steadfast. This shows the practical way Muslims can balance belief with their actions.


As a young Muslim, life should be more than just about praying, fasting and engaging in other spiritual acts of worship. From daily thoughts to speech and ultimately action or inaction, your character and activities should always be guided by inner faith.


Your youth is a unique period marked by zeal, energy and many opportunities, but it is a passing phase. If you think otherwise, visit your grandparents or an elderly neighbour to find out how their lives are different now as compared to when they were still in their teens, 20s or 30s.


Here is a quick list of productive opportunities that you can utilise to set you on the right track towards having a more productive youth.

1. Boost Your Knowledge


Seeking knowledge brings many benefits to the learner. So whether it is Islamic knowledge or personal development programmes such as those offered by Productive Muslim, there is no end to the opportunities you have to create change. Change happens when you take steps to act on your knowledge.


Nowadays, knowledge can be accessed through various means, online or offline. Before you begin any programme, general or personalised self study, understand your goals and map them out so that they will guide your learning journey. Where available, discuss your needs and present knowledge level with a tutor or mentor. This will enable you to carve out a progressive learning path.


With knowledge comes the responsibility of taking action. So strive to put into practice what you learn and spread the knowledge so that others can benefit. You can do this through writing and sharing your study notes, giving talks and lectures, teaching and mentoring others; and also through recordings – audio, video and PowerPoint presentations.


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “When a person dies, his deeds are cut off except through three: continual flowing charity, knowledge which others benefit, and a pious offspring that supplicates for him.” [Sahih at-Tirmidhi]


And what better time is there to begin traversing the wide sea of knowledge, but at a young age!

2. Nurture Your Faith


From your daily obligatory prayers to the recommended ones, from Ramadan fasting to the nawafil fasts, from compulsory zakat to daily charity, whatever action you do, do it with excellence and for the Pleasure of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) alone. Also do it according to the authentic sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). It is an opportunity to help you build consciousness of Allah (glorified and exalted be He) in your heart.


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Ihsan is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and if you cannot see Him, then know for sure that He sees you.” [Sahih Bukhari]


In addition to submitting to Allah (glorified and exalted be He), you are able to develop better discipline when you engage in these prescribed acts of worship. While with the congregational ones, the spirit of unity and tolerance is fostered. So guard all of your daily acts of worship with excellence and consistency.


What better investment can be made in this period of life, but of cultivating such rewarding practices.

3. Move Your Body


You can stay active by performing exercises regularly and taking part in sporting activities. Staying fit and healthy will make it easier to perform some rewarding acts of worship as well such as walking to the local masjid and performing the Hajj.


Good health and general wellness will also make it easier for the youth to work hard to earn a halal income, which is another form of worship. When you maintain a physically active life, your brain becomes active and productivity also increases in other areas of life.


Take action today by starting an exercise routine and/or getting a fitness buddy. Use the ProductiveMuslim Habitator to help build up a fitness routine.


Why not walk away your excuses or skip them away. And who says you need a gym, designer gears or a fat wallet to stay fit. You can get started on a new active lifestyle today.

4. Get Social


This period in your life with fewer responsibilities and energy will allow for networking and contributing to the community in many productive ways. You can contribute ideas, knowledge, skills and wealth. It should be about making sincere contributions rather than just hanging around with friends or passing time or even being a copy cat.


Life only gets busier as responsibilities increase, whether at home or with studies. It is best to commit to beneficial work while life permits. You can turn social interactions into worship and productive actions.


Here are a few ideas to get you started:


Volunteer at the local Islamic centre.

Visit the sick.

Start a charity drive.

Get to know your neighbours - Muslims or non-Muslims – and be an exemplary Muslim.

Collaborate with an Islamic organisation so that you can manage their website or social media accounts from home.


Give it a try today, but remember to start with a sincere intention. Do it for the pleasure of Allah (glorified and exalted be He).

5. Mind Those Feelings


From music and friends to porn and gambling, temptations surround the Muslim youth in all directions. Suppressing negative inclinations of the heart as well as pressures of the society, can bring you eternal success and save you from immense regret.


“But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires and lusts. Verily, Paradise will be his abode.” [Qur'an: Chapter 79, Verses 40-41]


Use your free time for productive deeds such seeking beneficial knowledge, giving dawah and keeping good company. In whatever situation you find yourself, always reflect and question yourself, “Will Allah (glorified and exalted be He) be pleased with me in this situation? Am I striving for worldly and eternal success with these thoughts or act?”


It will not always be easy for you as a young Muslim, but taking one step at a time towards change helps. Combine this inner struggle with an understanding of the purpose of your creation. When you understand yourself and your feelings, you can strive to become better and learn to seek help when you need it.


Try to keep your mind busy with pure and positive thoughts in anticipation of a unique reward, an everlasting kind.


The message is that every young Muslim can have a productive life.


First, by realising the opportunities that youth offers and then taking action. And secondly, through striving for balance and excellence in every area of life.


“… And whatever good you send before you for yourselves, (i.e. nawafil non-obligatory acts of worship), you will certainly find it with Allah, better and greater in reward. And seek Forgiveness of Allah. Verily, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” [Qur'an: Chapter 73, Verse 20]


In what ways do you strive to make your youth productive? What steps will you take today to make it even more productive? Please share in the comments below.


About the Author:


Amina Edota is passionately committed to inspiring other young Muslims find opportunities in their lives – to think better, feel better and live better, as well as have a better connection with Allah (glorified and exalted be He) through those opportunities. With a background in science and education, Amina loves to explore ideas and make things happen. Through work and other interests, she has enjoyed interacting closely with people of all age groups from pre-school to seniors. She has also mentored young people from different backgrounds. Find her at www.YouthlyHub.com for some inspiration on how to embrace the opportunities in your youth.


Click to read more: http://bit.ly/1FHozWv

Follow us: @AbuProductive on Twitter | ProductiveMuslim on Facebook


Shaking the Hand of the Non-Muslim Woman Who Comes Seeking Da’wah

Question:

Is it permissible to shake the hand of the strange woman who comes for the purpose of accepting Islam; and if one does not shake her hand, then this may have the opposite effect, and she may think that she is (being) belittled; so what does the Muslim do in this situation?


Answer by Shaykh Muqbil ibn Haadee (rahimahullaah):


It is not permissible to shake her hand due to what At-Tirmidhi narrates in his Jaami’ on the authority of Umaymah bint Ruqayqah; she said: Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:


“I do not shake hands with women.”


Likewise, due to that which Al-Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh on the authority of Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, who said about Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam): “By Allah, his hand never touched the hand of a woman.”


At-Tabarani narrated in his Mu’jam from Ma’qil ibn Yassaar, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:


“For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than to touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”


What is understood is that this is not from the perspective of belittlement. However, it is a religious matter. Moreover, along with handshaking comes looking and speaking. So it is a must that things be predicated upon a proper foundation. I have mentioned the Hadeeth of Umaymah bint Ruqayqah; in it a woman said: “Will you not shake our hands O Messenger of Allah, as you shake the hands of the men?” So he said:


“I do not shake the hands with women. My statement to one hundred women is like my statement to one woman.”


And the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) would recite to them the verse which comes at the end of Soorah Al-Mumtahinah and then he would say to them:


“Are you upon this?”


And they would say: “Yes.”


Gheebah: the Ills of the Tongue Part 1

Bismillah



“O you who have believed by their tongues, but Faith has not yet entered their hearts, do not commit Gheebah against the Muslims and do not seek their errors, then Allah will seek his errors (i.e. He will not pardon and conceal them), and he whom Allah seeks his errors, He will shame him, even in his own house.” (Sunan Abu Dawood: 4862)


Ummah can be defined as a community. However, it is not just any community. It is a faction of people that transcend the borders of race, ethnicity, nationality, and class. The concept is in and of itself so unique and inclusive.


Putting aside this fantastic notion of Ummah, if we were to get a reality check, none of us would disagree with the fact that the nation of our beloved Prophet Muhammed salallahu alayhi wasallam is in overt hostility with each other, starting with our families, to our communities, and masses as a whole.


There are several social ills ­responsible for this predicament. But one of the worst of these social ills is gheebah, or backbiting. The amount of time we spend judging our fellow brothers and sisters is astounding. Gheebah has become so common that whenever we indulge in it, we no longer feel its enormity.


Islam has forbidden gheebah greatly because of its consequences. As a result of such a heinous act, hate and enmity spread very rapidly amongst the Muslims, thus spoiling the unity of the Muslim nation.


“Indeed, your blood, property and honor are sacred to [one another], like the sanctity of this day of yours in this city of yours." [Sahih Bukhari: 105, Sahih Muslim: 4161]


It might be easy for mankind to avoid eating forbidden things, dealing with injustice, committing adultery and theft, and consuming alcohol, yet it is very hard to control our tongues. A person may try to stay away from lewdness and transgression, yet by the use of his tongue, he tears and slaughters the honor and reputation of the living and even the deceased.


"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say [something] good, or he should keep silent." [Bukhari, Muslim: 0076, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]


Imam al-Nawawi says, "This hadith is quite explicit that it is imperative to not talk unless the speech is good, which is that wherein there is some benefit. If a person is in doubt as to whether there will be any benefit, then he should remain silent."


What is Gheebah?


It has been defined by Prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as,


"Your mentioning your brother with something about him that he dislikes [being spoken about]."

Someone asked, "How about if my brother contains that [characteristic which I am mentioning]?"

He replied, "If he possesses that which you mention, then you have [indeed] backbited him. And, if he does not contain that which you say, then you have slandered him." [Sahih Muslim: 6265]


Therefore, gheebah means to mention someone in his absence by an attribute or characteristic that he would hate. However, if the absent person is not as he was described, then this is called Buhtaan, meaning lies and falsehood, which is worse than gheebah.


Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Qur'an: "Woe to every scorner and mocker!" (104:1)


The ruling of Gheebah


Islam has forbidden gheebah due to what it causes of severing brotherly ties, spoiling relationships, sowing seeds of enmity, and spreading faults. To further discourage Muslims from committing gheebah, the Quran likens the person who practices it to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother.


"... And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it." (49:12)


Therefore, he who criticizes his brother in his absence is like one who bites him and eats his flesh while he is dead.


Examples of Gheebah


Partaking in gheebah can take shape in different forms. It may be done when talking about someone’s body, such as describing him/her as being fat, short, wretched, or anything else of similar characteristics that a person would dislike to be described with.


Gheebah may be done to belittle a person, such as saying, “This person is a non-Arab, African, Indian.” It could also be used to belittle someone with regard to his/her profession, saying such things as, “This person is a servant or a butcher,” or anything that the person may dislike.


Additionally, a person may partake in gheebah when talking about the character of a person, such as saying, “He is stingy, he is arrogant, he is irresponsible” and anything similar to this.


Gheebah is not restricted to the statement of the tongue. Verily, a movement, a gesture, a motion, an imitation (mimicking), an insinuation, a sneer, a wink, or anything that is understood to mean a degradation of the other party is all forbidden and constitutes Gheebah. How many of us are guilty of this offence habitually?


As narrated by Aisha (peace and blessings be upon her): “I said to the Prophet, ‘It suffices you regarding Safiyyah that she is such and motioning short.”


He said, “You have uttered a word that if it was mixed with the water of the sea, it would spoil it.” [Sahih Abu Dawood: 4857]


Seven Tips for Parents to Deal with Bullying

Undoubtedly there aren’t many things more frustrating for a parent than seeing their child struggle with bullying and peer pressure. It makes many parents feel powerless, as so much seems to happen under their radar. Many children, especially teens, are reluctant to share what’s going on in their social lives.

Let us take a look at some important ways in which you, as a Muslim parent, can help your child:

1. Recognize the Signs


Not every child will take the initiative to come up to you and tell you that he is being bullied. In fact, a lot of children wouldn’t. Be observant of your child, so you will notice when something changes in his behavior or expression.


Signs can include:


Your child waits with using bathroom until he gets home from school. School bathrooms can be bully-hot spots.

He often gets home hungry even though you have packed enough lunch or given enough money.

Belongings get damaged or ‘lost’ more frequently.

Your child feels more negatively about himself. He may think he’s not good enough, or blames himself a lot.

Social withdrawal, especially when your child stops socializing with his usual friends.


2. Listen, Don’t Judge


One of the most valuable skills as a parent is to be able to listen to your child. Really listen, that is, without judging. Let your child talk, without giving your opinion, offering solutions or getting upset. As important as it is for kids to stay cool, the same goes for parents. Getting upset, or at the other end, downplaying your child’s feelings do not empower him to deal with the situation effectively, and will keep him from telling you about his issues in the future. It is natural for a parent to feel emotional and to want to react to what your child says, but be patient, listen carefully, and think things over before you rush to judgment.

3. Create a Strong Bond


Having a good relationship with your parents is something that gives child a feeling of security and well-being that can protect against the negative effects of bullying. This means spending time with your child, making your child feel loved and valued. As Muslims, spending time with your child and strengthening your relationship should also be about helping each other get closer to our Creator. Rituals like salah, fasting, reading Qur’an and attending lectures are excellent opportunities to spend time together while growing in the deen at the same time.

4. Support Network


You as a parent will also need a network of supporting people, whom you can talk to and get advice from. Family members and brothers or sisters from the local community should naturally be a part of this, but also try to maintain good relationships with other adults who play a role in your child’s life, such as teachers, school officials, and friends’ parents.

5. Boost Self-Confidence


Try to increase your child’s self-confidence and sense of accomplishment by seeking out hobbies or activities that he is good at. These could include a variety of things, so it is important to do this together with your child and take into account his personality and talents. Every child has natural abilities, whether athletic, artistic, social or otherwise, and being able to do something you are good at will boost self-esteem and give a sense of empowerment which can help him to stand up against bullying and peer pressure.

6. Be an Example


Parents serve as role models for the behavior that they want to see in their children. So, if you would like your child to be able to solve conflicts effectively, confidently and Islamically, you should set the example. Do not retaliate, use insulting language, backbite, or let your emotions get the better of you. Instead speak with truth and justice, show forgiveness and patience, and keep your emotions in check.


“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak the truth.” [Qur'an: Chapter 33, Verse 70]


Abu Hurairah reported that a man said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “Advise me! “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” [Sahih Bukhari]

7. Coach Your Child


Chances are that your child could use some day-to-day coaching to deal with bullying and peer pressure effectively, and you as a parent are in an excellent position to fulfil that role. So, look at the tips for dealing with bullying and peer pressure from the previous posts, talk about them and help your child on a practical level to implement those things that are useful in your situation. Come up with ideas of things to say or to do, help find beneficial activities, and facilitate healthy social contacts. And most importantly, keep motivating your child to do the right things and put their trust in Allah (glorified and exalted be He).


“And whosoever fears Allah, He will prepare for him a way out.” [Qur'an: Chapter 65, Verse 2]


Friday, November 28, 2014

Authenticity of the Holy Quran

By Maurice Bucaille

Thanks to its undisputed authenticity, the text of the Quran holds a unique place among the books of Revelation, shared neither by the Old nor the New Testament. In the first two sections of this work, a review was made of the alterations undergone by the Old Testament and the Gospels before they were handed down to us in the form we know today. The same is not true for the Quran for the simple reason that it was written down at the time of the Prophet; we shall see how it came to be written, i.e. the process involved.


In this context, the differences separating the Quran from the Bible are in no way due to questions essentially concerned with date. Such questions are constantly put forward by certain people without regard to the circumstances prevailing at the time when the Judeo-Christian and the Quranic Revelations were written; they have an equal disregard for the circumstances surrounding the transmission of the Quran to the Prophet. It is suggested that a Seventh century text had more likelihood of coming down to us unaltered than other texts that are as many as fifteen centuries older. This comment, although correct, does not constitute a sufficient reason; it is made more to excuse the alterations made to the Judeo-Christian texts in the course of centuries than to underline the notion that the text of the Quran, which was more recent, had less to fear from being modified by man.


In the case of the Old Testament, the sheer number of authors who tell the same story, plus all the revisions carried out on the text of certain books from the pre-Christian era, constitute as many reasons for inaccuracy and contradiction. As for the Gospels, nobody can claim that they invariably contain faithful accounts of Jesus' words or a description of his actions strictly in keeping with reality. We have seen how successive versions of the texts showed a lack of definite authenticity and moreover that their authors were not eyewitnesses.


Also to be underlined is the distinction to be made between the Quran, a book of written Revelation, and the hadiths, collections of stories concerning the actions and sayings of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Some of the Prophet's companions started to write them down from the moment of his death. As an element of human error could have slipped in the collection had to be resumed later and subjected to rigorous criticism so that the greatest credit is in practice given to documents that came long after Muhammad (peace be upon him). Their authenticity varies, like that of the Gospels. Not a single Gospel was written down at the time of Jesus (they were all written long after his earthly mission had come to an end), and not a single collection of hadiths was drawn up at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).


The situation is very different for the Quran. As the Revelation progressed, the Prophet and the believers following him recited the text by heart and it was also written down by the scribes in his following. It therefore starts off with two elements of authenticity that the Gospels do not possess. This continued up to the Prophet's death. At a time when not everybody could write, but everyone was able to recite, recitation afforded a considerable advantage because of the double-checking possible when the definitive text was compiled. The Quranic Revelation was made by Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad (peace be upon him). It took place over a period of more than twenty years of the Prophet's life, beginning with the first verses of Surah 96, then resuming after a three-year break for a long period of twenty years up to the death of the Prophet in 632 A.D., i.e. ten years before Hegira and ten years after Hegira.

The following was the first Revelation (Surah 96, verses 1 to 5):


Read: In the name of thy Lord who created,

Who created man from something which clings

Read! Thy Lord is the most Noble

Who taught by the pen

Who taught man what he did not know.


Professor Hamidullah notes in the Introduction to his French translation of the Quran that one of the themes of this first Revelation was the praise of the pen as a means of human knowledge" which would "explain the Prophet's concern for the preservation of the Quran in writing".


Texts formally prove that long before the Prophet left Mecca for Medina (i.e. long before Hegira), the Quranic text so far revealed had been written down. We shall see how the Quran is authentic. How it came to be written is this. We know that Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Believers who surrounded him were accustomed to reciting the revealed text from memory. It is therefore inconceivable for the Quran to refer to fact that did not square with reality because the latter could so easily be checked with people in the Prophet's following, by asking the authors of the transcription. Four Surahs dating from a period prior to Hegira refer to the writing down of the Quran before the Prophet left Mecca in 622 (Surah 80, verses 11 to 16):


By no means! Indeed it is a message of ins truction

Therefore whoever wills, should remember

On leaves held in honor

Exalted, purified

In the hands of scribes

Noble and pious.


Yusuf Ali in the commentary to his translation, 1934, wrote that when the Revelation of this Surah was made, forty-two or forty-five others had been written and were kept by Muslims in Mecca (out of a total of 114):


Surah 85, verses 21 and 22:

Nay, this is a glorious reading

On a preserved tablet.


Surah 56, verses 77 to 80:

This is a glorious reading

In a book well kept

Which none but the purified teach

This is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds.


Surah 25, verse 5:

They said: Tales of the ancients which he has caused to be written and they are dictated to him morning and evening.


Here we have a reference to the accusations made by the Prophets enemies who treated him as an imposter. They spread the rumor that stories of Antiquity were being dictated to him and he was writing them down or having them transcribed (the meaning of the word is debatable, but one must remember that Muhammad peace be upon him was illiterate). However this may be, the verse refers to this act of making a written record which is pointed out by Muhammad's enemies themselves.


A Surah that came after Hegira makes one last mention of the leaves on which these divine instructions were written:


Surah 98, verses 2 and 3:

An apostle from God recites leaves

Kept pure where are decrees right and straight.


The Quran itself therefore provides indications as to the fact that it was set down in writing at the time of the Prophet. It is a known fact that there were several scribes in his following, the most famous of whom, Zaid Ibn Thabit, has left his name to posterity.


In the preface to his French translation of the Quran (1971), Professor Hamidullah gives an excellent description of the conditions that prevailed when the text of the Quran was written, lasting up until the time of the Prophet's death:


"The sources all agree in stating that whenever a fragment of the Quran was revealed, the Prophet called one of his literate companions and dictated it to him, indicating at the same time the exact position of the new fragment in the fabric of what had already been received... Descriptions note that Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked the scribe to reread to him what had been dictated so that he could correct any deficiencies...


Another famous story tells how every year in the month of Ramadan, the Prophet would recite the whole of the Quran (so far revealed) to Gabriel..., that in the Ramadan preceding Muhammad's death, Gabriel had made him recite it twice... It is known how since the Prophet's time, Muslims acquired the habit of keeping vigil during Ramadan, and of reciting the whole of the Quran in addition to the usual prayers expected of them. Several sources add that Muhammad's scribe Zaid was present at this final bringing-together of the texts. Elsewhere, numerous other personalities are mentioned as well."


Extremely diverse materials were used for this first record; parchment leather, wooden tablet, camel's scapula, soft stone for inscriptions, etc.


At the same time however, Muhammad (peace be upon him) recommended the faithful to learn the Quran by heart. They did this for a part if not all of the text recited during prayers. Thus there were .Hafizun. who knew the whole of the Quran by heart and spread it abroad. The method of doubly preserving the text both in writing and by memorization proved to be extremely precious.


Not long after the Prophet's death (632), his successor Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, asked Muhammad's former head scribe, Zaid Ibn Thabit, to make a copy; this he did. On Omar's initiative (the future second Caliph), Zaid consulted all the information he could assemble at Medina (the witness of the Hafizun, copies of the Book written on various materials belonging to private individuals), all with the object of avoiding possible errors in transcription. Thus an extremely faithful copy of the Book was obtained.


The sources tell us that Caliph Omar, Abu Bakr's successor in 634, subsequently made a single volume (mushaf) that he preserved and gave on his death to his daughter Hafsa, the Prophet's widow.


The third Caliph of Islam, Uthman, who held the caliphate from 644 to 655, entrusted a commission of experts with the preparation of the great recension that bears his name. It checked the authenticity of the document produced under Abu Bakr which had remained in Hafsa's possession until that time. The commission consulted Muslims who knew the text by heart. The critical analysis of the authenticity of the text was carried out very rigorously. The agreement of the witnesses was deemed necessary before the slightest verse containing debatable material was retained. It is indeed known how some verses of the Quran correct others in the case of prescriptions: this may be readily explained when one remembers that the Prophet's period of apostolic activity stretched over twenty years (in round figures). The result is a text containing an order of Surahs that reflects - so it is thought today - the order followed by the Prophet in his complete recital of the Quran during Ramadan, as mentioned above.


One might perhaps ponder the motives that led the first three Caliphs, especially Uthman, to commission collections and recensions of the text. The reasons are in fact very simple: Islam's expansion in the very first decades following Muhammad's death was very rapid indeed and it happened among peoples whose native language was not Arabic. Absolutely essential steps had to be taken to ensure the spread of a text that retained its original purity: Uthman's recension had this as its objective.


Uthman sent copies of the text of the recension to the centers of the Islamic Empire and that is why, according to Professor Hamidullah copies attributed to Uthman exist in Tashkent and Istanbul. Apart from one or two possible mistakes in copying, the oldest documents known to the present day, that are to be found throughout the Islamic world, are identical; the same is true for documents preserved in Europe (there are fragments in the Bibliotheque Nationale in parts which, according to the experts, date from the Eighth and Ninth centuries A.D., i.e. the Second and Third Hegirian centuries). The numerous ancient texts that are known to be in existence all agree except for very minor variations which do not change the general meaning of the text at all. If the context sometimes allows more than one interpretation, it may well have to do with the fact that ancient writing was simpler than that of the present day.


The 114 Surahs were arranged in decreasing order of length; there were nevertheless exceptions. The chronological sequence of the Revelation was not therefore respected. In the majority of cases however, this sequence is known. A large number of descriptions are mentioned at several points in the text, sometimes giving rise to repetitions. Very frequently a passage will add details to a description that appears elsewhere in an incomplete form. Everything connected with modern science is, like many subjects dealt with in the Quran, scattered throughout the book without any semblance of classification.


The Holy Quran: Unique among Scriptures

The Quran is the most-read book in the world. Revealed by Allah Almighty to Prophet Muhammad , in the 7th century CE, and revered by Muslims as being Allah’s Final Scripture and Testament, its words have been lovingly recited, memorized and implemented by Muslims of every nationality ever since. The faithful are inspired, consoled and often moved to tears by its eloquence and poetic imagery, especially when recited aloud. And yet, the Quran is unique in being the only Scripture that is free of scientific inaccuracies, whose historical authenticity can be verified, and whose text has been so carefully preserved that just one authorized version (in Arabic) exists.

The Quran is also the only holy book that can be memorized in its entirety by people of all ages and intellectual abilities – including non-Arabic speakers – which Muslims consider to be one of its miracles. We invite you to take a few minutes to learn something about a book that is the foundation of the worldview and culture of almost a quarter of the people on this planet.


The Quran is also the only holy book that can be memorized in its entirety by people of all ages and intellectual abilities – including non-Arabic speakers – which Muslims consider to be one of its miracles. We invite you to take a few minutes to learn something about a book that is the foundation of the worldview and culture of almost a quarter of the people on this planet.

A scientific Scripture for a scientific age


One of the most remarkable things about the Quran is that it contains many verses, which accurately describe natural phenomena in various fields such as embryology, meteorology, astronomy, geology and oceanography. Scientists have found its descriptions to be inexplicably valid for a book dating from the 7th century CE; in fact, many of the processes and functions mentioned in the Quran have been discovered only recently. This fact alone has been the cause of a number of distinguished scientists embracing Islam. It also explains why the conflicts that emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages between faith and reason, religion and science, never arose in Islam; the Quran repeatedly encourages people to reflect and use their intelligence, and most Muslim scientists and inventors have also been pious believers.


Some of the Quran’s ‘scientific’ verses include an accurate description of embryonic development during the first forty days of life; an explanation that the roots of mountains are like pegs which help to anchor and stabilize the earth’s crust; that a natural barrier exists wherever two seas meet (each maintains its own salinity, temperature and density); that waves occur in layers in the depths of the ocean; that the heavens and earth were first joined together before being split apart; and that the heavens emerged from ‘smoke’, i.e. the gases and dust that characterize nebul as as stars are forming.


The Quran was never meant to be a ‘science textbook’; whether highlighting the wonders of nature or the lessons of history, its verses direct us to reflect on the glory of Allah. However, no other ancient book or Scripture is accurate in this way. Muslims believe that this is one of the Quran’s proofs; one of the things that makes it a credible, ‘living revelation’ for a modern age, and allows it to reveal itself afresh with passing time.

The Quran and the development of knowledge


The word ‘Quran’ means ‘recitation’, and the first verse of the Quran revealed by the Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad , was a command to recite as in the verse (which means): ‘Read (or recite)! In the name of your Lord…’ This directive to a man who, like most people of the time, could neither read nor write, marked the beginning of a new age in human communication, learning and development. Whereas earlier Scriptures had been written and passed down by elite circles of priests and scribes – usually long after the death of the Prophet – the preservation of the Quran was a community effort from the beginning, and it was completed during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad .


The early followers of the Prophet , eagerly memorized and recorded each new revelation as it was revealed; by the time he passed away, thousands had memorized the entire Quran by heart. Within two years after the death of the Prophet , the first Caliph, Abu Bakr requested one of the Companions who used to write the revelations for the Prophet, , Zayd bin Thaabit to collect all existing copies and fragments of the Quran in one place, in order to compile a standard edition. This manuscript became the basis for the authorized editions that were distributed to each Muslim province during the rule of ‘Uthmaan the third Caliph. Remarkably, a few of those early manuscripts have been preserved and can still be viewed in museums today.

A book with a message and a purpose


Like all books, the Quran is a means to convey a message – in this case, a very special message from the Creator to all humanity. The Quran is an ‘Owner’s manual for the human being’. Whoever wonders about the purpose of life and their own existence will find it to be a guide par excellence. Building on prior revelations, this Final Testament confirms the age-old truths of previous Scriptures, but clarifies points of faith where error or confusion have crept into them over the centuries. Those who have read the Bible will find much that is familiar: descri ptions of Allah’s creation; stories of the Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention; Satan; Angels and the Day of Judgment; moral and ethical guidelines and spiritual practices like prayer and fasting. Yet the Quran is not just a re-hashing of old stories, its perspective is unique and fresh, and its worldview is eminently suited for people of today.


To give one example, according to the Quran, Allah held Aadam (Adam) and Eve jointly responsible for eating from the forbidden tree. No special curse was laid on Eve for leading Aadam astray, and no ‘original sin’ came into being, to be inherited for all time by innocent children. Aadam and Eve simply sought His forgiveness and were forgiven, and Aadam is respected in Islam as the first Prophet.


There are other important distinctions between the Quran and the Bible; the Quran asserts that much of the original books of the Bible and other Scriptures have been lost or corrupted over time (whether through warfare, political intrigue, religious schisms or other reasons). One only has to consider the number of different versions of the Bible in use today, the lack of ‘first’ originals, and the late discovery of long-lost Scriptures like the Dead Sea Scrolls to realize that this viewpoint is an objective one.


The Quran rejects the concept of salvation or special privilege based on ethnicity. Allah does not discriminate on the basis of race or color. It also denies the need for the sacrifice of innocent life – animal or human – in order for people to attain salvation. It states that ‘Eesaa (Jesus) was not crucified as claimed, but that Allah saved him from his enemies, as one would expect of Allah’s honored and beloved Messenger ; his life was meant to be an inspiring example. Spiritual salvation is to be achieved solely through humble repentance, coupled by an attempt to make amends for one’s sins and a sincere intention not to repeat one’s mistakes in the future. There is no official priesthood in Islam, and the Imaam (the person who leads the congregational prayer) is no more than a knowledgeable prayer-leader and brother in faith; one’s sins need only be confessed directly to the Creator.


The Quran’s main message is to call people to turn to the Source of all being and the Giver of life, and to serve Him with a pure heart, free of idolatry or superstition. In Islam, ‘One God’ means just that: there is no concept of Trinity or anything else to complicate one’s understanding. Like the single nucleus of a cell or an atom, He Alone is the ‘control center’ behind it all- anything else would lead to chaos and confusion. Allah is Unique and without partner; He was not born and did not give birth; He is All Compassionate and Merciful, Almighty and Just, and the only One we need to turn to for guidance and help. Anything that we allow to come between ourselves and our Creator – even our own egos – is an idol. Wealth, fame, physical attraction and all the pleasures of this world will someday fade, and we will not be able to take them with us when we die. Only our faith and good deeds will remain, to light our graves and be a beacon for us on the Day of Judgment.


A child’s need for friends

A child’s need for friends of the same age to play and interact with actually does not appear before the end of the fourth year or the beginning of the fifth year.

Before that, the child likes to play alone or with adults. When he reaches the middle of the fourth year, his inclination to have playmates begins to appear. A child at this age does not play with his friends but he only shares the same place or room with them. In fact, the child at this age wants to play with his own toys and does not like other children to share them with him.

That is because a child at this age is still selfish and self-centered.

This means that the child’s social tendencies are still latent and will appear in later developmental stages. Moreover, this group of children may break up at any moment for any trivial reason.

When a child reaches the age of five, he starts showing a compelling need to play with other children sometimes, along with tendencies to play alone at other times.

During this shift from individuality to sociability, the child satisfies his need of having friends gradually, namely, a child starts playing with one or two children under parental guidance to guide him to the correct principles of cooperation.

His circle of friends becomes wider as the child grows up.



The benefits of companionship and mixing with children:

Companionship plays an important role in a child’s social and moral growth because it teaches him to give and take. The child also learns how to adjust himself to others. When your child attacks another child, the other child will attack him and if his playmate gave him his toy, he will expect him to do the same soon.

Of course, this gives a child many necessary experiences that accustom him to showing patience and to be strong and unselfish.

Friendship among children of the same age is beneficial for all of them at this early stage, because it teaches them cooperation and makes them feel that they are a team.

Likewise, friendship with older children is beneficial, because the older child feels that he guards his younger playmates. On the other hand, the younger child learns from his older playmates and imitates them.

Nevertheless, the child who always plays with older children will be subordinate and suffer from suppression.

On the other hand, the child who always plays with younger children will force them to do what he wants all the time. Of course, this is unfavorable, because it may accustom the child to assuming that he must be the leader when dealing with others without any actual effort to deserve this role.

We often face difficulty in finding proper mates and peers for our child with whom he could play. In such a case, the role of the school or the nursery emerges.

In the school or nursery, the child knows a certain group of children and establishes a strong and durable relationship with them that goes beyond playing. This relationship includes interaction and being together throughout the school day. Therefore, children benefit from the groups of the school or nursery more than they benefit from their groups of friends whom they meet in public parks for example. That is because the latter groups change from day to day.

Islam and non-Muslim communities

It has always been said that the attitude of non-Muslim communities towards Islamic rule is a critical and delicate question, which many people hesitate to discuss for fear of causing dissension between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Let us be frank with the Christians of the Islamic East and put to them these questions: What do they fear from the rule of Islam? Are they afraid of the holy texts of Islam or of the manner of their application? As for the provisions, we may quote the Holy Quran (what means): “God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them, for God loves those who are just.” [Quran 60: 8].


And (what means): “The food of the people of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the people of the book” [Quran 5:5].


We should also refer to the general principle in Islamic jurisprudence: “They shall have the same obligations and rights as we”. The Islamic holy texts enjoin Muslims to treat non-Muslims in a kind and fair manner. Apart from the rights and obligations involving worship, they are equal to Muslims with respect to all other rights and obligations related to social life and the rights of citizens. In addition, Islamic faith strives to strengthen the links connecting the non-Muslims to visit them and to eat their food, which is the custom of close friends.


Moreover, Islam tries to make the relationship grow closer by permitting inter-marriage with people of the Book, the strongest social bond, between Muslims and non-Muslims. As to the practical application of the Islamic holy texts, we quote a European Christian, who cannot be accused of bias or prejudice, Sir T.W. Arnold in his book The Preaching of Islam:


“That force was not the determining factor in these conversions, may be judged from the amicable relations that existed between the Christian and the Muslim Arabs. Muhammad himself had entered into treaty with several Christian tribes, promising them his protection and guaranteeing them the free exercise of their religion and to their clergy undisturbed enjoyment of their old rights and authority”. (pp. 47-48).


He goes on to say:


“From the examples given above of the toleration extended towards the Christian Arabs by the victorious Muslims of the first century of the Hijrah and continued by succeeding generations, we may surely infer that those Christian tribes that did embrace Islam, did so of their own choice and free will”. (P.51).


“When the Muslim army reached the valley of Jordan and Abu `Ubaydah pitched his camp at Fihl, the Christian inhabitants of the country wrote to the Arabs, saying: “O Muslims, we prefer you to the Byzantines, though they are of our own faith because you keep better faith with us and are more merciful to us and refrain from doing us injustice and your rule over us is better than theirs, for they have robbed us of our goods and our homed”. (P.55).


He also tells us: “Such was the state of feeling in Syria during the campaign of 633-639 CE in which the Arabs gradually drove the Roman army out of the province. And when Damascus, in 637 CE set the example of making terms with the Arabs, and thus secured immunity from plunder and other favorable conditions, the rest of the cities of Syria were not slow to follow. Emessa, Arethusa, Hieropolis and other towns entered into treaties whereby they became tributary to the Arabs.


Even the patriarch of Jerusalem surrendered the city on similar terms. The fear of religious compulsion on the part of the heretical emperor made the promise of Muslim toleration appear more attractive than the connection with the Roman Empire and a Christian government, and after the first terrors caused by the passage of an invading army, there succeeded a profound revulsion of feeling in favor of the Arab conquerors.” (p.55). This is the evidence given by a Christian scholar on Islam. What is it then that the Christians fear from Islamic rule?


It may be that the Christians are afraid of Muslim fanaticism. If this is true, it seems that they have no idea of what fanaticism is. Here are a few examples of fanaticism. Courts of inquisition set up by the Christian Church were primarily meant to exterminate the Muslims of Spain. The said courts tortured Muslims in a monstrous way, which had never been experienced before. People were burned alive, their fingernails were pulled off, their eyes were put out and their limbs were amputated. This torture was inflicted in order to force the people to change their religion and adopt a particular Christian creed.


Have the Christians of Islamic East ever suffered such treatment?


Massacres are carried out for the extermination of Muslims in Europe, Yugoslavia Albania Russia or countries under European rule such as North Africa Somalia Kenya Zanzibar or in other countries like India and Malaya. Such massacres are staged sometimes on the pretext of the purging of ranks and sometimes for the maintenance of peace and security.


Another significant example is the treatment of Muslims in Ethiopia which has ancient historical, geographical, cultural and religious links with Egypt. It has a mixed population of Muslims and Christians. Although Muslims account for 35 to 65 percent of the total population there is not a single school where Islamic faith or Arabic is taught.


Private schools, which the Muslims open at their own expenses, are subjected to exorbitant taxes and inconveniences that lead to their closing, thus disheartening those who may think of opening new schools. In this way, Islamic teaching is confined to a primitive way of teaching.


Until very recently – just before the Italian invasion – a Muslim who could not pay a debt to his Christian creditor was taken in slavery by the Ethiopian Christians. The Muslim was caught, sold and tortured within sight of the government. It goes without saying that there is not a single Muslim in the cabinet or in any key post to represent one-third of the population. Have the Christians of the Islamic world ever experienced such a treatment? Would they accept reciprocal treatment?


That is real fanaticism.


The Communists believe that the real existence of man is essentially an economic existence. If so, have the Christians living in Islamic countries ever been denied the right to acquire and dispose of property or to amass wealth? Have they ever been denied, on account of their religious belief, the right to have education, to join public service or promotion to higher public posts?


As for the moral and spiritual existence, it should be stressed that the Christians living under Islamic rule have never been subjected to any form of religious persecution -- with the exception of the very rare incidents engendered by the British colonialists for sowing dissension and diversion. It is alleged that the imposition of tribute on non-Muslims is the result of religious discrimination. The best refutation of this baseless accusation lies in the words of T.W. Arnold, who says: “On the other hand, when the Egyptian peasants, although Muslim in faith, were made exempt from military service, a tax was imposed upon them as on the Christians in lieu thereof”.


“As stated above, the Jizyah was levied on the able-bodied males, in lieu of the military service they would have been called upon to perform had they been Musalmans; and it is very noticeable that when any Christian people served in the Muslim army, they were exempted from the payment of this tax. Such was the case with the tribe of al-Jurajimah, a Christian tribe in the neighborhood of Antioch who made peace with the Muslims, promising them to be their allies and fight on their side in battle, on condition that they should not be called upon to pay Jizyah and should receive their proper share of the booty”.


From this it is clear that the imposition of tribute is not the result of any religious discrimination. The truth is that the tribute was imposed on all those who did not take part in military service regardless of their religious belief. It would be useful to refer in this respect to the following Holy verse (which means): “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and feel themselves subdued”. [Quran 9: 29].


It should be pointed out that this verse refers to non-Muslims who wage war against Islam. It does not apply to the non-Muslims living in Islamic countries.


In conclusion, I should like to warn that the seeds of dissention between Muslims and non-Muslims living in Islamic countries are sown by colonialists as well as by Communists. The Communist devils address each community in accordance with its particular aspirations.


They address the working classes saying: “If you adopt Communism we shall hand over all factories to you”; while speaking to peasants, they promise to give them the lands. On talking to unemployed graduates they say: “If you become Communists you will get the jobs that fit in with your qualifications”.


As for the youth suffering from sexual repression, the Communists promise them a free society, where every one can act as one likes without intervention by law or subjection to traditions. The Communists address Christians in the following manner: “If you adopt Communism we shall destroy Islam, the religion that discriminates among people on account of their religion”. However, the Quran says (what means): “It is a grievous thing that comes from their mouths as a saying, for, what they say is nothing but falsehood” [Quran 18: 5].


It cannot be said that Islam distinguishes among people on account of their religion, because Islam confers the essential rights on all people without any distinction. Islam brings all people together on a purely human basis and at the same time guarantees them absolute freedom to adopt the religion of their choice, under its own care and protection.


Besides, as the Christians of the East are also anxious to retain their historical links with Muslims and protect their mutual interests, let us hope that they would not listen to these propagandists or dissenters.


By: Muhammad Qutub


What Islam Says About Children (part 1 of 5): God Guarantees the Rights of Children

Islam is a religion revealed by God for all people, in all places, at all times. As such, Islam is accessible to everybody and is particularly mindful of the importance of respect, rights, and responsibilities. The words of the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, contain the rights and responsibilities granted by God to humankind. They are not subject to the whims and desires of men or women therefore they do not change. These unique rights mentioned in Islam also include the rights of children. Children’s rights are not guaranteed by the actions of their parents, their communities, or even their governments. God Himself guarantees children’s rights.

Islam establishes a legal framework, and embodies a code of ethics, designed to protect the rights of an individual including his or her right to live in a secure society. For children, security is of the upmost importance. The rights of a child begin even before birth; in fact they begin before conception. The Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad make it clear that two people should not enter into a marriage carelessly. A great deal of thought and preparation is necessary before man and woman commit to each other and to the family that may result from their union. Prophet Muhammad was heard to say, “A woman may be married for four reasons: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty, and her religious commitment. Marry the one who is religiously committed.”


If a man and a woman have both dedicated their lives to worshipping and pleasing their Creator then the rights of any children they may have are automatically guaranteed. Worshipping God means obeying His commandments and His commandments include securing the rights of the child. By marrying rather than having an illicit relationship the couple has already begun to secure the rights of their future children. A child has the right to know and understand his or her lineage.


Once a child is conceived, it has the right to life. The Quran makes it very clear that all life is sacred. It is never permissible to terminate a pregnancy because one fears being unable to financially support a child or another child. It is God, who is the Provider and Sustainer of all life.


“...kill not your children because of poverty - We provide sustenance for you and for them”. (Quran 6:151)


When making a decision to terminate a pregnancy it is important to remember that having a child is a blessing from God and all such blessings should be accepted with joy and gratitude. There are many people in the world today who are not able to have children, therefore when God blesses a family with one, it should be a cause for celebration and happiness. However, children are not toys or possessions. With them comes great responsibility.


The Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, speak clearly about the responsibility that comes with raising a child. It is an obligation upon the believers to raise and care for children by bringing them up as moral, righteous human beings. Secure in the knowledge that they are valued members of the human race, and their particular families. Neglecting this duty could potentially lead a person away from the path of righteousness and away from God.


“O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from God, but do that which they are commanded” (Quran 66:6)


Prophet Muhammad said, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock”.[1]


Caring for and raising children in the proper manner is a duty on parents and it is not always easy. In fact, God reminds us in the Quran that children may even be a great trial for their parents. The triumphs and tribulations of life are a test and children are no exception. They can bring great joy and at times they can bring great sadness as well. God in His infinite wisdom never leaves a human being alone and unable to face all of life’s trials.


“Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas God, with Him is a great reward (Paradise).” (Quran 64:15)


Following the teachings of Islam enables a believer to face all life events including the trials the tribulations and the triumphs. The correct Islamic advice for raising and rearing children covers all aspects of life. Just like Islam itself, it is holistic advice. Physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing are all of equal importance. It is interesting to note that Islam has always covered the rights of children. The Islamic view of childhood states that it is a unique period in an individual’s life.[2] This is in sharp contrast to western/European ideology where the concept of childhood was not addressed until the 16th century.[3] It is not that the west did not have children or young people but rather they considered them to be small adults with the same needs and wants as adults.


Throughout Islamic history and in Islamic literature the rights and responsibilities pertaining to children are clear cut. Parents, families, and communities have certain responsibilities towards children. Many of them are obligatory, and on the Day of Judgement, God will question adults about the treatment of their children.


The late Islamic scholar, Sheikh Uthaimeen, may God have mercy on him, described children as a trust given to parents by God. He also said that children are to be well fed, well-groomed, properly dressed for seasons and appearance. Children are entitled to education, religious learning, and spiritual guidance. Their hearts must be filled with faith and their minds entertained with proper guidance, knowledge, and wisdom. With that in mind, the following series articles will guide us through child care in Islam.


Footnotes:


[1] Saheeh Bukhari & Muslim


[2] Gil’adi. A 1992, Children of Islam: concepts of childhood in medieval Muslim society, Macmillan, Oxford.


[3] Aries, P 1962, Centuries of childhood, Vintage Books, New York.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Prophet Muhammad’s Smile

Islam is more than a religion it is an entire way of life. It teaches us how to behave from morning until night and it even tells us the best position to sleep in. To some that might sound like 24 hours a day of rules and regulations but the truth is that Islam is such a natural way of life the rules become as easy as breathing. One thing that is as easy as breathing is smiling. That little curve of the mouth and wrinkling of the eyes that makes not only you but those around you feel good. A smile lightens the load and frees the spirit. Try it! See don’t you feel lighter and happier?

Prophet Muhammad smiled, often and with real joy. In fact he smiled so regularly that his smile and kind demeanour are mentioned time and time again in anecdotes and stories from his traditions.


Abdullaah ibn Haarith said, “I never came across a person who smiled as much as Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad regarded smiling to a brother as an act of charity.”[1]


Jarir bin Abdullah said, “The Messenger of God never refused me permission to see him since I embraced Islam and never looked at me except with a smile (on his face).”[2]


When one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions was asked if he sat with the Prophet he replied, “Yes, very often. He (the Prophet) used to sit at the place where he observed the morning or dawn prayer till the sun rose or when it had risen; he would stand, and they (his Companions) would talk about matters (pertaining to the days) of ignorance, and they would laugh (on these matters) while (the Prophet) only smiled.”[3]


One of the companions of Prophet Muhammad talks about his relationship with the Prophet when he (the companion) was a young boy. Anas said, “The Messenger of God was one of the best men in character. One day he sent me to do something, and I said: I swear by God that I will not go. But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what the Messenger of God had commanded me; so I went out and came upon boys playing in the street. All of a sudden the Messenger of God, who had come from behind, caught me by the back of the neck, and when I looked at him he was laughing. ….”[4]


Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, had a kind and gentle nature. His beloved wife Aisha described his character as the Quran, meaning that Prophet Muhammad lived by the teachings of the Quran. Thus the behaviour and personality of Prophet Muhammad are the best examples for us to follow in our own lives. A companion who spent more than 10 years with Prophet Muhammad said, “Throughout my stay with him I never heard an indecent word from his lips and never found him rude to anyone. He spoke very politely. He was kind to everyone”. The Prophet’s natural disposition led him to smile and laugh along with the people around him.


Consequently if the Prophet smiled, it must innately be something good for both ourselves and the people around us. Islam was designed by the Creator to be the perfect way of life for humankind thus sometimes the smallest of things can have a big impact. A smile is one of those things. Therefore not surprisingly smiling has many many positive effects.


Smiling is viewed across cultures as a sign of friendliness and it is a natural response that shares our happiness with others. Smiling lowers the heart rate and temporarily reduces blood pressure. It reduces stress by releasing endorphins that naturally diminish stress hormones simultaneously putting you in a better mood. Endorphins also lessen pain. Smiling and laughter therefore are useful aids in health care. Still in the area of health, smiling boosts the immune system by relaxing the body and allowing the immune system to react more quickly and effectively to invaders.


Smiling has also been shown to increase productivity. It also makes us look younger and according to at least one study smiling aids longevity possibly extending our lives up to seven years. All this and smiling is contagious, therefore as you are gaining all these benefits you are spreading them around to all those who see you smiling and smile back.


Prophet Muhammad was often described as kind and generous and his generosity included smiling at those around him. We know from scientific evidence just how powerful a smile can be. In the early days of Islam there were no articles or books to read. The companions emulated their dear friend and Prophet knowing that his way of acting on every matter was the way approved of by God. Did they realise just how beneficial smiling was, almost certainly not, but I am sure happiness washed over them and improved their health and demeanour every time Prophet Muhammad smiled at them. Prophet Muhammad helped the needy and the poor and went to the houses of the sick to enquire after their health and whenever he met or passed by anyone he said “Assalam Alaikum” with a smile upon his face.


Before we all go out with renewed vigour for smiling and laughing with friends and family there are just a few small points to remember. Islam is the middle way, we are a nation that should be known for our moderation, thus laughing and joking relentlessly is not the best way to behave. Remember that although Prophet Muhammad laughed and joked with his family and companions even giving them friendly nicknames he always behaved sensibly with fine moral principles. He never joked in a way that hurt someone’s feelings or joked about things that were not true. In fact he was heard to say “woe to the one who speaks and lies in order to make people laugh; woe to him, woe to him.”[5]


Smile – it is worth more than you know.


Footnotes:


[1] Tirmidhi


[2] Saheeh Muslim


[3] Ibid.


[4] Abu Dawood.


[5] Abu Dawood.


Do we really want Jannah?

Why then are the tear ducts dry at the mention of His aayaat (signs, verses, evidences, proofs, miracles) when He, سبحانه وتعالى, said:

“Those were the ones upon whom Allah bestowed favor from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom We guided and chose. When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration and weeping.” {Surat Maryam: 58}


And He said:


“And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.” {Surat Al-Ma’idah:83}


Do we really want the reward that is reserved for the believers, when our hearts do not tremble like that of the mu’minoon?:


“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone)” {Surat Al-Anfal:2}


Do we see the many sins we commit to be a cause of our destruction or have they become a part of the norm? ’Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ud said:


“A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which, he is afraid, may fall on him; whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drives them away like this.” Abu Shihab (the sub-narrator) moved his hand over his nose in illustration.” {Sahih Al-Bukhari}


Do we really want Jannah? Do we fear from the Fire? Does our speech reflect this? Do our actions reflect this? Or are we hoping that Ar-Rahmaan will show us mercy because we saidwe believed?


“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” {Surat Al-’Ankabut: 2}


Are we losing our grip on the only means of salvation when He said:


“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Quran), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.” {Surat Al ‘Imran: 103}


He, the Most High, saved us from the brink of a pit of Fire and gave us the blessing of opening our breasts to Islaam:


“And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomsoever He wills to send astray, He makes his breast closed and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky. Thus Allah puts the wrath on those who believe not.” {Surat Al An’am: 125}


Will we not then act accordingly? Will we not leave the Zeenah (adornment) of this dunya (worldy life)? Will we not race for the akhirah (Hereafter)?

Do we really want Jannah?…


Venerating Graves Is Haraam

Ibn Hajar Al-Makkee Al-Haytamee Ash-Shaafi’ee said:

“The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 19th major sin is to take graves as masjids, to place seats on them, to take them as idols, to make tawaaf around them and to pray to them.”


He also said:


“All of these six from the major sins are found with the statements of some Shaafi’ee scholars and it is as if these (major sins) are taken from the hadeeth, for the issue of taking a grave as a masjid for example is clear because he, meaning the Prophet (saw), cursed whoever does that and he (saw) viewed the one who does that at graves to be of the worst of creation with Allaah (swt) on the day of Judgement…


Our companions (from the Shaafi’ee madhdhab) say: it is haraam to pray to the graves of the Prophets and awliyaa, such as praying on them, tabarruk (seeking blessings) and glorifying them. The status of this action is that it is a manifest major sin… Such as placing seats on graves out of glorification, seeking blessings (tabarruk) from them and likewise making tawaaf around graves…”


He then goes on to mention:


“The worst of the prohibited actions and the means to shirk is to pray by it (the grave), take the masjid as a grave or build over it (1). The ‘ulamaa do not permit this and it has been reported abundantly from the prophet (saw) that there is a curse for whoever does these actions.


These graves have to be destroyed (2) along with the domes built over the graves as they are more harmful than Masjid Ad-Diraar as they were built upon disobedience to the Messenger (saw) because the Messenger (saw) forbade such things and instructed to destroy such graves and all candles or lights have to be removed from these graves (3) and it is not correct to stand by them or make vows at them.”


[Az-Zawaajir 'An Iqtiraaf Al-Kabaa'ir, 1/195]


Footnotes:


(1) It is mentioned in Ibn Hajar’s explanation of “Al-Minjhaaj” and what has been abridged from it: ”It is ‘considered haraam’ to plaster graves, build over them and write on them due to the three authentic prohibitions against doing this. This whether the name of the deceased or of someone else is written on it…“


(2) Imaam An-Nawawee said: ”It is ‘deemed as forbidden’ to plaster graves and to build and write on them even if the grave is found within a cemetery it should be destroyed.“ [As-Siraaj Al-Wahhaaj, 1/114]


Al-Baghawee said: ”It is ‘considered haraam’ ro place a sun-shade over a grave because ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (ra) saw a sunshade on a grave and instructed that it be removed.“ [Al-Majmoo', 5/266]


(3) Ar-Rifaa’ee stated in Sharh Al-Minhaaj: ”…and the lighting of candles at graves is haraam whether one benefits from it or not.“ [Fath Al-Majeed, p.213]


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaari – Reasons For Persistence Upon Falsehood

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful The Bestower of Mercy

Returning to the truth is better than persistence upon falsehood; because persistence upon falsehood is proof of being forsaken, as Imaam Ibnul Qayyim (rahimahullaah) stated in Al-Fawaa-id: “To be forsaken is that Allaah leaves you to yourself.” The causes of a person’s persistence upon falsehood after it has been made manifest are a number of numerous (affairs):


[1]The First Affair:


Love of authority and Leadership:


Imaam Shaatibee (rahimahullaah) said in Al-Itisaam: “The last thing that lands upon the hearts of the righteous people is love of authority and leadership.”


Ibraaheem Bin Adham (rahimahullaah) said: “The person who loves fame will not be sincere to Allaah.”


Al-Haafidh Adh-Dhahabee (rahimahullaah) said: “The signs of the sincere one who loves fame and is unaware of it, is that when he is scolded about it he neither becomes furious nor does he free himself from it; rather he acknowledges and says: May Allaah have mercy upon the one who shows me my faults, and he does not become amazed with himself and does not realize his faults, rather he does (become like one who) does not realize that he does not know—(for) this is a chronic illness.”


Abu Nu’aym (rahimahullaah) said: “By Allaah, the one destroyed is not destroyed except through love of leadership.”


[2] The Second Affair:


Pride and refusing to accept the truth:


Imaam Sufyaan Bin Uyaynah (rahimahullaah) said: “The sensible person is not the one who knows good and bad, rather the sensible person is the one who follows the truth when he sees it and keeps away from evil when he sees it.”


Imaam Ibnul Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said in Al-Fawaa-id: And from the signs of wellbeing and success is that whenever the slave is increased in his knowledge, he increases in humility and mercy. And whenever he is increased in action, he increases in his fear and caution; and whenever his age is increased, he decreases in eagerness (for things); and whenever he is increased in wealth, he increases in his generosity and spending; and whenever his status and honor is increased, he increases in coming close to the people, in fulfilling their needs and being humble in (their presence).


And the signs of wretchedness are: Whenever he is increased in knowledge, he increases in pride and haughtiness; and whenever he is increased in actions, he increases in his boasting, mockery of the people and having a good opinion of himself; and whenever he is increased in his status and honor, he increases in pride and haughtiness. These affairs of (wellbeing and wretchedness) are a trial and a test from Allaah by which He puts His slaves to the test. He brings about wellbeing and wretchedness to a people by way of these affairs.


Abu Ad-Dardaa (radiyallaahu-anhu) said: “The signs of ignorance are three: Self-amazement, excessive speech in that which does not concern (a person) and that you do forbid something you do.”


It is reported from Ali Bin Abee Taalib (radiyallaahu-anhu) that he said: “Self-amazement is the plague of the Al Al-baab (i.e. the heart, mind, intellect etc).” And others besides him said: “You do not see a person amazed with himself, except that he is a seeker of leadership.”


A person must fully know that Allaah is absolutely acquainted with his (affairs), and that He knows the treachery of the eyes and what the hearts conceal. And that the hearts are between two fingers from the fingers of Allaah, and He turns them how He pleases. Ibn Abee Haatim reported in Az-Zuhd from Al-Hasan who said: “Indeed, the hearts are more severe in losing control than feathers are on a stormy day.” [End of quote] [Abridged: Source: http://bit.ly/1Ft90RZ]


If you see your time pass by – Shaykh Uthaymeen

Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen (رحمه الله) warned:

إذا رأيت وقتك يمضي، وعمرك يذهب وأنت لم تنتج شيئاً مفيداً، ولا نافعاً، ولم تجد بركة في الوقت,

فاحذر أن يكون أدركك قوله تعالى :

ولا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلنا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هواهُ وَكانَ أَمرُهُ فُرُطا” سورة الكهف الأية 28


If you see your time pass by and your life go, and you have not produced anything worthwhile or beneficial and you do not find any blessing in your time then be wary that the statement of Allah has overcome you:


“And obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost.” [Al-Kahf: 28] (1)


The Shaykh (رحمه الله) also said:


وفي هذه الآية إشارة إلى أهمية حضور القلب عند ذكر الله، وأن الإنسان الذي يذكر الله بلسانه لا بقلبه تنْزَع البركة من أعماله وأوقاته حتى يكون أمره فُرطا عليه


And in this ayah is an indication to the importance of (having) presence of heart when performing dhikr of Allah. And that the person who remembers Allah with (only) his tongue and not his heart, (then) the barakah (blessing) is removed from his actions and his time to the extent that his deeds become lost. (2)


[1] http://bit.ly/1FslIjU


[2] Shaykh Uthaymeen’s Tafseer of Soorah Al-Kahf Page 62


Magic: The Deadly Kufr (Part 2)

By Anum Ali

Bismillah


In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how magic evolved. Let us now see the present situation of magic and how to safeguard ourselves from it.


Magic Today

Chaos Magic, or Chaos Magick, is a school of magical tradition that uses belief systems to create and modify magical methods. There are various forms of magic, some color-coded such as red for combat, taught under Chaos Magic. Black magic is the branch of Chaos that deals with death, destruction, and severance (cutting ties of relationships). Voodoo is an African religion, the followers of which form bonds with the dead and seek their council to foresee and regulate affairs of the present and future. Since the Islamic belief negates power of the dead, it is elaborated that voodoo is a connection with devils, not dead spirits. This devil-soothsayer bond is the very same that the Qur’an describes from the time of Prophet Sulayman.


Illusionists and magicians of the entertainment industry also fall prey to a lot of controversy. Performing larger than life illusions to imitate godly powers, replicating prophetic miracles such as raising the dead and walking on water, are simply innovations and shirk which carry equal punishments.


The moral and religious decline of people, particularly in South Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, contributes to widespread plague of dirty magic. There is a case in every family, almost, or a conspiracy that some relative or the other pays people to inflict curses.


Effects of Magic

Since magic is done through Shayatin, it is essential to know Shaytan’s strategy of ruining people. According to a Hadith (4:2167) in Sahih Muslim, narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah, the closest and dearest of emissaries that Shaytan embraces is the one who succeeds in separating a man and his wife. The separation occurs as one of the spouses, or both, imagine that the other spouse is ugly, ill mannered, or deceiving. Additionally, there are spells that can inflict disease, failure, and misery upon a person or a group of people such as a family.


Safeguard


It is essential to realize that Allah is the All-Powerful and sorcerers and Shayatin cannot do as they please unless by Allah’s Will. Allah allows their magic to harm a person either to test his faith, or to punish him for an evil deed. Having realized why magic affects people, the best ways to safeguard oneself is to strengthen one’s faith in Allah, and to seek His repentance for all misconduct, intentional or unintentional.


Additionally, Allah has revealed in Surah An-Nahl that Shaytan is powerless in front of strong believers who cherish faith and approach no one for help but Allah. Muslims who turn to others to seek help, for instance the supposedly good sorcerers who counter black magic; these Muslims symbolize a compromise in trusting Allah and hence rob themselves of His Mercy. Allah has provided the cure so easily in the Qur’an. Surah Al–Falaq and Surah Al-Nas are titled to be Mu’awwidhatayn (the two for seeking refuge). They are regarded as permissible ruqyah (recitation for healing or protection) against magic. Reciting them regularly is a prophylaxis, a preventative measure, against Shaytan’s trickery, evil of Jinns, and of men.


Unfortunately, people underestimate the power of Allah’s words because they are immaterial, concise, and easily accessible. Instead, they rely on self-proclaimed saints, mystics, sorcerers, and other entities who give them amulets, written prescriptions, and potions to cure the effects of black magic. Obviously, they are fraudulent remedies, the seeking of which put individuals out of the fold of Islam because they commit shirk when they seek another entity’s help.


Remember, what comes to you, good or bad, is from Allah. Accept it, instead of whining that a negative event is an effect of black magic. Even if it is, only a strong faith, repentance, and ruqyah are enough to solve the matter.


Let’s play again Mama : The importance of play in a child’s upbringing- Part 3

Toys/ Activities to Nurture a Child’s Development

“You are your child’s favourite toy;


You don’t need to fancy toys and there are no rules to play.”


The best and most effective toys are those that are selected based on age appropriateness and developmental levels and interests. It is important to give children toys that help them learn while having a great time. A lot of toys can be open-ended, making them usable in different ways. Educational toys will help children learn through play.


Blocks, for example, are great toys for children of all ages. Blocks made of wood are one option, but shoe boxes, cereal boxes, plastic bowls, and paper bags filled with crumpled newspaper and taped shut can also be used. These simple blocks are best for children ages two and under, while wooden unit blocks are good for ages two and up.


Engaging toys are often homemade or readily available items such as fabric and cardboard boxes-the options are practically limitless.When choosing materials for toys, it is important to consider the children’s communities and cultures as well as safety of the children.


Some of the stages of learning and some ideas for toys/activities that can help children learn in those stages are as follows:


Birth to 2 Years old


Learning & Development: Children learn mostly through exploration of their environment. The young explorers learn more about body language and gestures during this time and begin to learn how to talk.


Playtime/ Toys: Talking to them and using body language in front of them can help them learn. Toys that talk is also a great idea. Colourful toys that are easy to grasp, things they can taste, hear, smell, and touch will provide needed stimulation.


Adults also serve as play things. Finger plays, song/rhymes, mobiles, toys that make gentle noises and toys with different shapes and textures give more learning opportunities.


3 to 5 Years


Learning & Development: They use their imagination and learn through what is known as socio dramatic play. They are full of stories and experiences they can draw on. They also learn how to control movements more and how to speak even more.


Playtime/ Toys: Since imaginative play is very important, toys that help them with their imaginative play will help them to develop and learn even more.


6 to 8 Years


Learning & Development: Children usually learn more by investigation. They are ready for more formal styles of learning at this stage. They are able to learn patterns and to make decisions. They should also get involved in play that is a bit more structured, though they could still do with some socio dramatic play.


Playtime/ Toys: Toys that promote learning by investigation, such as games and puzzles can be very helpful to children of this age.


Finally


Children use their five senses to learn things. As they go through the different stages of growing up, they are learning different things at each level and in different ways. They explore, experiment, and build confidence. Play on an appropriate level allows them to learn on their own and to begin to understand many different concepts that they will end up using as they grow up.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Rebuttal to ‘Should Muslims Reconsider Animal Slaughter on Eid?’

An article published in the Huffington Post called for Muslims to “reconsider” the sacrifice ritual during 'Īd al-Aḍḥa. The author cited a number of reasons as to why Muslims should stop sacrificing animals to commemorate 'Īd, and instead donate that money towards more “fruitful” projects. The author was not alone in her sentiments, and many Muslims have commented positively on her blog.

Not only are some Muslims sympathetic to her views but have also stopped performing the udhiya as a result.


The following article is a respectful rebuttal against the ideas behind the banning of udhiya. It is important to note that disagreements are a chance to engage, understand and critically assess our practices. Moments like these should not be used simply to judge or vilify the other. Insha Allāh with polite dialogue and understanding we can reach those Muslims and bring them back to follow Allāh's command.


The author's arguments are divided below in italics and each point is dealt with individually:


1. Story of Abraham is misunderstood in the Qurʾān:


“The Qurʾān states that Abraham had a dream in which he believed God was instructing him to sacrifice his son. What should be obvious, yet is overlooked, is that at no point does the Qurʾān state the dream was from God or that God demanded this sacrifice.”


The first point against udhiya is the author's claim that Allāh never inspired Ibrahim (as) to sacrifice his son and this was his misunderstanding. This can simply be refuted by the simple fact that all Prophets' dreams are a part of revelation. There is an agreement among the scholars that their dreams are protected from Shaytan. The Prophet (saw) said: “True dreams are one of the forty-six parts of Prophethood.” (Al-Bukhāri, 6472; Muslim, 4201)


Even if this were a mistake by Ibrahim (as), why would Allāh not correct the narrative in the Qurʾān? Moreover, why would Allāh not correct our Prophet's (saw) understanding of this event? It is clear that this argument does not withstand even basic understanding of Prophethood.


2. Sacrifice does not enhance our spiritual development:


“In order to properly commemorate Abraham's sacrifice it's important to ask ourselves if we are giving up something of intense value when we reduce the sacrifice to slaughtering an animal. Are we really making the same type of emotional and mental sacrifice that Abraham made? If not, then how exactly are we enhancing our spiritual development by continuing with this tradition?”


I partially agree with this point. How many of us pay for udhiya online – or if we at hajj buy our ticket – and don't ponder deeply about the story of Ibrahim (as)? The act of sacrificing an animal on 'Īd is to remember Ibrahim's (as) unflinching loyalty and devotion to Allāh. He was willing to sacrifice his beloved son for Allāh's pleasure. This profound incident is meant to inspire us. Yet how many of us do not ponder over our level of loyalty and devotion to Allāh? Do we even sacrifice for Allāh? Or do we put our comforts first?


However, even if some Muslims have reduced this day to a simple ritual, it certainly does not follow that this obligation should be abandoned. If we were to follow this line of argument, then we could continue and say that Muslims should stop praying as at times we read our prayers mechanically without contemplation. In fact, no religious act would remain if we were to follow this logic. Surely, the solution is to try individually to convert these acts from mere robotic rituals (as suggested in one of our earlier posts: Food For Thought-The 'Īd Of Sacrifice) to meaningful and impactful occasions, rather than abandon them altogether. Moreover, it is also about giving food to the poor – which is covered in the next point.


3. We can do something better with our money – invest in long-term projects to help the poor instead


“However, we must ask ourselves — are we concerned with feeding people for only a few days or maintaining the message of social justice the Qurʾān espouses …


And, meaningless religious observation, done for the sake of tradition, as is the case with animal sacrifice, has limited scope to alter conditions .…


If we are concerned with social justice and creating meaningful, long-term change then we Muslims must reconsider funnelling our money from this sacrifice and make other investments in our communities to help the disadvantaged. Maybe those investments would be towards grassroots organizations. Such organizations engage the communities they work for. They give power to their constituents to determine what they need (education, vocational training, health care) instead of assuming to know what they need (meat), thereby “helping to change the condition of a people” (Qurʾān 13:11) for the long-term.”


Firstly, the sacrifice is not a mere “tradition”, but it is a commandment from Allāh. “Whoever can afford to offer a sacrifice but does not do so, let him not approach our place or prayer.” [Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Majah.] “Turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice to Him alone.” [Surah al-Kauthar; 108:2] (There is a difference of opinion amongst the scholars, but at the very least they state it is highly recommended for every Muslim who can afford it.)


Secondly, who is denying the need to give charity to support long-term causes? 'Īd al-Aḍḥa is one day in the year where Allāh has commanded us to sacrifice and give to the poor in order for them to enjoy meat on this day. This does not negate the importance of long-term charity nor replace it. Charity is an essential part of Islam. Numerous verses of the Qurʾān and sayings of the Prophet praise those who give generously in charity.


Furthermore, Islam is unique in that it has a special category for long-term charity called sadaqa jariyya. This type of charity is distinct since it has continuous benefits for example a school or water pump. These deeds are special as it is one of the few ways a person can continue to gain reward after their death. It is also one of the few acts a person can do on behalf of the deceased. This is an incredible incentive to encourage long-term charitable acts.


The Messenger of Allāh (saw) said: “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” [Sahih Muslim]


Muslims are highly encouraged to give both types of charity. Why must this be an either/or case and not a matter of doing both? To alleviate the pain and suffering of the millions of starving Muslims around the world, both short-term and long-term fixes are necessary; both are encouraged in Islam.


4. The inhumane treatment of animals is against Islam


“There is a strong tradition in Islam for the just and humane treatment of animals and especially those who are to be slaughtered. …


Live export animals are routinely packed tight into transport containers for journeys that can take weeks. During that time they are provided with no food, no water, and stand chained and immobile in their own urine and faeces. Many animals die of dehydration and malnutrition. Many pregnant sheep or cows give birth to their babies in these conditions, only to watch them die a slow, painful death. …


In many Muslim countries butchers are now admitting that the demand for sacrificing animals keeps them from using Islamic humane methods, thus, rendering the slaughter against the very tenants of Islam and the meat un- Halal (not fit for consumption by Muslims).”


Out of all the author's arguments, this is the main issue that causes the greatest distress. Muslims who have stopped practicing udhiya mainly cite this as their reason. Sadly, the high demand for cheap, fast meat has been detrimental to the human treatment of animals.


The author is correct in reminding us that Islam recognises the rights of animals and advocates humane treatment. While Muslims are allowed to consume meat, there are strict rules for the butcher to ensure animals have the least pain as possible in the process. While I cannot check the veracity of the accusation that animals are not being slaughtered correctly and that all the meat is not reaching the poor, it seems likely considering the sheer number of animals that need to be sacrificed in this short time.


Again however, I do not see the solution as abandoning this practice. After all, this is not simply a “Muslim problem”, for even non-Muslim celebrations carry out mass animal slaughtering such as turkeys on Christmas and Thanksgiving; or take the Orthodox Jewish Kaparot where they sacrifice chickens in the days leading up to Yom Kippur; or even the sacrifice to the Hindu gods? It is interesting to note that similar discourse is circulated around their occasion: Christmas , Yom Kippur , Thanksgiving, and the Hindu Gadhimai ceremony.


The solution lies in working together and putting measures in place to allow for the humane treatment of animals around the world all times of year, particularly in the high-demand seasons. For 'Īd this could possibly mean extending the time for sacrifice to allow butchers more time to carry out their duties properly. Muslims should be at the forefront of this issue and call for animals to be humanely treated according to the rules of Islam. Our efforts should not lie in abandoning the practice, but in reforming it in order to correctly fulfil the obligations set out by Allāh to the best of our abilities.


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