Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Islam calls for justice for all

30 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

AMONG the things to which Islam calls with the aim of welfare of the humankind, is establishment of justice between all peoples. Justice of Islam is not for Arabs alone; it is for all peoples of the world without any exception.

While mentioning the objectives of heavenly religions, Allah says: “We sent aforetime our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice...” ( Al-Quran: Al-Hadid: 25)

Thus it stands established that deputation of the Messengers and revelation of the books were basically aimed at achieving a basic objective, which is that the people accomplish justice i.e. fairness to ensure that everyone, without exception, gets his deserved right.

Allah says: “God doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice…” (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58) The command is lucid in its message that when you judge between “people” — not only Muslims — that you judge with justice. Allah has commanded the believers to stand forth firmly for Justice. They should not be obstructed by emotion of love for the near ones or by dislike or hatred of those who may not be near or dear. Justice is above emotions of love and hate; it must be for Allah alone. Allah says: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin,…” (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 135)

This is the justice to the loved ones, whether it is the parents or the nearest of kith and kin or even ones own self. Allah also says: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do”. (Al-Quran: Al-Ma’idah: 8)

This is the justice to those, whom one might dislike for their hatred, abhorrence and animosity towards him. In spite of the dislike, faithful are not supposed to commit transgression, because Allah does not like those who depart from justice nor does He guide them to the right path, as such people never succeed — neither in this worldly life nor in the hereafter. Muslims applied this justice with all peoples; they applied it in the lifetime of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), during the time of the rightly guided caliphs and generally during the early centuries.

We know of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab ordering the aggrieved Coptic Egyptian to avenge from the son of the governor on Egypt — ‘Amr Ibn-Al-’Aas. The history then registered his historic statement: “Oh ‘Amr, when did you enslave the people whilst their mothers delivered them only free?” This concise spontaneous statement of Omar became the opening statement of the formal documents on human rights and of constitutions of advanced states in modern times.

During the caliphate of Ali Ibn-Abi-Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), the judge appointed by him passed his verdict against Ali himself — the Commander of the faithful — and in favour of a Christian subject, because Ali could not refute the claim against him. Upon seeing this Islamic uprightness and fairness of the Islamic justice, the Christian could not resist to declare publicly his faith in Islam and confess that Ali was right and had been framed, adding that such verdicts were nothing less than prophetic.

For more inquiries e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

Farewell oh Ramadaan

bismillahi walhamdulillahi 'alaa rasulillah...

" Departure now presents itself
My eyes are both filed up with tears
My heart within me cries out aloud
O' devoted month farewell, farewell.

If life remains we'll meet again
Or otherwise a sad regret
Alas From us taken leave
O' glorious month farewell, farewell

I could not do much of good deeds -

Now I am only offering few tears of sadness
Only this much is my whole asset -
farewell O' Ramadaan farewell O' Ramadaan.."

So ramadhan is about to end. How much did you take benefit of this month of mercy? Yeah, we all need to reflect on that. Personally, I am sad. I could have spent more time in devotion. Who knows if I am gona be alive to see this month again!

We bid farewell to the month of good manners, farewell to the month of generosity, farewell to the month of mercy.The masjid was full of worshipers at every solah, all standing together and bowing down to the Greatest Lord , with humility and devotion, with fear and hope, with prayers and thankfulness.

It had become easy to do good, had become easy to wake up early and stay awake late standing before Allah, with tears in our eyes seeking His mercy and forgiveness and such a blessed month is leaving us, will I be alive to witness another ramadhan ? or will this be my last ramadhan and no more ? did i make the most of this month ? some questions really arising in my mind as this month is fading away with the crescent moon of Shawal shining bright in the night sky in the company of the innumerable twinkling stars, I feel the warmth of Allah's mercy around me. I wish I had the taufeeq to make the most of this month, and wish I was successful in seeking Allah's mercy and blessings and wish my body is programmed enough to keep this eiman and spirit alive till the coming of next ramadhan so that I may increase further my eiman and learn to love Allah more and fear Him more and obey Him more, ameen.

Lets make a pledge that we will stive hard to keep this spirit of ramadhan alive in our lives in all the coming months, because we are Muslims throughout the year and not only in ramadhan. What is good in ramadhan is also good and compulsary in other months for a Muslim, like solah, charity, honesty, humility and the spirit of sharing. May Allah help us realize this eternal truth and lead us on the path of those who receive His blessings and Mercy and save us from the path of those who deserve His wrath and punishment, ameen..

I wish all the Muslims all around the world a very blessed Eid. Please do not forget our brothers and sisters who are facing oppression from the kafr oppressors even in this month, our brothers and sisters who are not fortunate enough to celebrate this wonderful occasion. Please remember our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Philippines, Kosovo, etc, please make dua to Allah for them and their families and dua is the least thing we can do to help them, and after dua if you are in a position to help them, please do it in the name of Allah, May Allah reward you for all the goodness you bring to the world.

goodbye ramadhan, may we meet again, insyaAllah..

TaqabbAllahu minni wa minkum wa astaghfiruAllah..


Bismillahi walhamdulillahi 'alaa rasulillah..

“Verily, he who fears Allaah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allaah makes not the reward of the Muhsinoon (good‑doers) to be lost”
[Yusuf 12:90]

“And verily, Allaah is with the Muhsinoon (good-doers)”

[al-‘Ankabut 29:69]

someone told me this - few days before : if a woman accepts that and treats her husband and the other wife well, she will have the reward of al-muhsineen

..i want to be that woman.."the muhsineen" :)

he added, women should follow the good example of the wives of the Prophet sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam and his companions, who were patient and sought reward even though many of them felt jealous. If your husband goes ahead and takes a second/third/fourth wife then you have to be patient and content and treat him well so that you can attain the reward of the patient and the doers of good.

Note that this life is the life of trials and tests, and how quickly it ends. So congratulations to the one who is patient in obeying Allaah in this life until he attains eternal delight in the gardens of Paradise.

hence, He said in Holy Book :

“Is there any reward for good other than good?”

[al-Rahmaan 55:60]

I FEEL SOOOOOOOOO GOOD about His "plan of life" over me, WALLAHI.. :)

And Allah knows best ;)

Islam on brotherhood and equality of all human beings

29 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

FROM fruits of the Islamic belief in absolute unity of Allah, is the human brotherhood. Of the prerequisites of the human brotherhood is the equality of humans. In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Shaikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi says, “This brotherhood is based on two factors”: Firstly, by virtue of the call to belief in unity of Allah, all the humans are slaves or servants of the same single Lord; He created them and made them equals, so they enjoy sameness in the status of servitude to Allah.

Secondly, they all are sons of the same parents — Adam and Eve. Whatsoever the colour of their skins may differ or wherever their homelands may be located, or their tongues may vary or their classes may be disparate, they still remain the sons of Adam.

They are on par in their status of affiliation to Adam. This is what the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) communicated to his nation on the occasion of the Hajjatul Wadaa' (the Farewell Haj). In his sermon to the large congregation, he said, “O people, the Lord of all of you is one; the father of all of you is one; all of you belong to the Adam; Adam was created from the dust; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab — except by piety” (1 Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad: 5/411 — through Abu Nadhrah; considered authentic by Albani).

Allah, the Most Exalted and Glorified, says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”. (Al-Quran: Al-Hujurat: 13)

Imam Ahmad has narrated through Zaid Bin Arqam that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to invoke Allah after every congregational prayer with the following three supplications: “Oh our Allah — our Lord and the Lord and Owner of everything —, I bear witness that you are the one and only deity who has no associate”. “Oh our Allah — our Lord and the Lord and Owner of everything —, I bear witness that all humans are brethren”.

This brotherhood is the broad human brotherhood. And certainly, brotherhood embodies three elements of love, equality and co-operation. Some people may say that Allah says — in the Quran — “the Believers are but a single Brotherhood” and that His Messenger — Mohammad (PBUH) — says, “a Muslim is the brother of another Muslim”, which means that the basis of brotherhood is nothing but religion and faith. We say that the religious brotherhood based on faith is the very special and deepest brotherhood, but it does not conflict with other types of brotherhood, like national or ethnic brotherhood — as mentioned in the following Quranic verses: “To the 'Ad People (We sent) Hud, one of their own brethren....” (Al-Quran: Hud: 50)

“To the Thamud People (We sent) Salih, one of their own brethren.…( Al-Quran: Hud: 61) “To the Madyan People (We sent) Shu'aib, one of their own brethren” …( Al-Quran: Hud: 84) Thus, the Quran confirms existence of brotherhood between those Messengers and their people; even though they rejected them and rebelled against them, they still belonged to them and were not alien to them. That is the ethnic brotherhood. And there is the bond of human brotherhood between the descendants of Adam in general. That is what we mentioned above in light of the prophetic supplications.

e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com

To be continued

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Story of Opportunity :)

Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu,
bismillahi walhamdulillahi 'alaa rasulillah,

Have we estimated Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala correctly? Life is about people who take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala and Laylatul Qadr is one of them.

Abu Dahda RA was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim, so the orphan boy went to the Messenger of Allah sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam asked the companion, “Would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam, missed the opportunity and went away angry.

But someone else saw the opportunity – Abu Dahda RA. He went to the Prophet sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam and asked, “Ya RasulAllah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?”

The Messenger of Allah sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam replied, “Yes.”

Abu Dahda RA chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?”

The companion answered, “Take it, for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”

Immediately, Abu Dahda RA went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Dahda. “We’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snatched the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”

When Abu Dahda RA was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, RasulAllah sallalahu 'alaihi wassalam stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Dahda now have in Paradise?”

What did Abu Darda lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.

Abu Dahda RA did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah on Laylatul Qadr, inshaAllah ameen :)

source : Youtube lecture by Shaykh Saeed Rageah

Significance of Islamic morals in politics

27 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

IN his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi says, as Islam has pegged economy with ethics, it has done this concerning politics too. Islamic politics is not Machiavellian politics wherein ends justify means, whatsoever their characteristics may be.

Islamic politics is the politics of principles and values, which must be adhered to and not relinquished even in the gloomiest situations or in perplexing times, whether it be in relations of the Islamic state with its citizens or in the external relations with countries and groups.

Islam vehemently rejects dirty means even if those are intended to reach to noble ends: “Allah is noble and accepts nothing but fair.” (Narrated by Muslim in Sahih) Unscrupulous means are unacceptable just like vicious ends; inevitably, there must be clean means to achieve noble ends.

Concerning relation of the state with its citizens, Allah calls upon those entrusted with authority to govern the affairs of Muslims with honesty and justice, saying: “Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things”.

(Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58) Hence, returning back of trusts of different material and moral types to whom they are due and judging between all people with justice, is the obligation of the Muslim state towards its citizens. It is not lawful for the Muslim ruler to favour anyone of his relatives or cortege and commission him with something unduly while depriving the deserving. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) reckoned to such a state of affairs as being the sign of approaching of the hour of doom for the Muslim nation.

Once someone asked him about the timing of the day of judgement and he replied saying, “When the trust is squandered, anticipate the hour. He was asked: how will the squandering of trust take place. He replied: when authority will be entrusted to the non-deserving, anticipate the hour”. (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58)

It is also illegitimate to drop a prescribed punishment against anyone deserving the punishment for his lineage or status or for being near to the ruler. Regarding this, Hadeeth testifies: “Verily those before you were made to perish, because when the highborn amongst them stole, they spared him and when a powerless stole, they imposed the penalty upon him; By Allah, if Fatimah — the daughter of Muhammad — were to commit theft, I myself would chop off her hand.” (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58)

The internal Islamic politics must be grounded on the foundation of justice, fairness and equality between all with regards to in rights, responsibilities and penalties. It must be based on truth with the people and frankness to them about the reality, without any deception, imposture or delusion. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said that one of the three to whom Allah shall not look on the day of resurrection, nor exonerate them and for whom there shall be awful punishment shall be the untruthful ruler. (Narrated by Muslim — The Book of Faith — from Abu Hurairah )

With regard to international relations, the Islamic state must fulfil the treaties and all the commitments and respect its own word. Allah says: “Fulfil the Covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your surety; for Allah knoweth all that ye do. And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn which she has spun, after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practise deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgment He will certainly make clear to you (the truth of) that wherein ye disagree. If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions”. (Al-Quran: An-Nahl: 91-93)

In these two Quranic verses, Allah emphatically enjoins upon the faithful to respect treaties and pacts by relating covenants to Himself (i.e. the Covenant of Allah). He warns against breaking of oaths after the ratification of agreements, which amounts to the act of that foolish woman who puts in a great deal of effort into spinning of her yarn, but once the yarn gains strength upon processing, she imprudently breaks her own produce it into untwisted strands. He urges for basing treaties and agreements between nations upon insincerity and genuineness of intentions, without mendaciousness and swindling intended to take undue advantage and to gain more than the other party does; benefiting inappropriately at the cost of the other party. That is exactly what we notice in treaties and agreements of our times.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the paramount ideal in respecting of agreements and honouring of treaties, even when at times his companions believed that therein was unfairness towards Muslims — for example in the treaty of Hudaibiyyah. During one of the military expeditions against Quraish, when a man wanted to join the Muslim army, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not accept his request, as he had pledged to them that he would not fight them from the ranks of their enemy.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) rather ordered him to honour his word, saying to him, “We are sufficient for them; we seek Allah’s help over them”. (Narrated by Muslim, Ahmad and others) If some people thought that politics knows no morals, such a notion is farthest from the Islamic politics, which is essentially based on justice, faithfulness, truthfulness, integrity and noblest of the morals.

e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Significance of morals & economy in the message of Islam

25 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

A Muslim trader should not hide or cover up the defects and drawbacks of his merchandise and highlight its merits and advantages in an exaggeratory manner so that the deluded customers pay a price higher than what is really reasonable. This is known as swindling and the Prophet (PBUH) has said about this: ‘He who swindles is not from amongst us’ Islamic morals have their reach and impact on financial and economic affairs too, whether in production or in distribution or in delivery or in consumption.

In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Shaikh Yusuf al Qaradhawi says, economy cannot grow, as some may want, without checks and balances, without being pegged to values or without adherence to ideals.

A Muslim is not supposed to produce whatever he may want without being concerned whether it is harmful, materially or morally, to his fellow human beings even though he was to gain heavily and profit profoundly from that production.

Cultivation of tobacco, hashish or other narcotic plants and production of harmful substances may lead to hefty material returns, but Islam prohibits its believers from trying to earn and gain from

loss and damage of others. Transformation of grape juice into wine may lead to high earnings and ensure high returns to vineyard owners and wine producers, but Islam demeans such gains against the immense wrongs caused and enormous harms inflicted by alcohol on minds, bodies and morals, manifested in the form of decadence and deterioration in the lives of individuals, families and groups.

The Quran says:
“They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit...”.( Al Quran: Al Baqarah: 219) Even in exchange of merchandise, a Muslim must not take buying and selling of wine, pork, dead meat or idols as his trade, nor should he sell something to someone whom he knows will use it in evil deeds, depravity or causing damage and harm to others. For instance, one cannot sell grape juice or even grapes to someone who is known to use these for preparing wine; one cannot sell arms to someone who is known to murder the innocent or to use them for brutality and aggression.

A Hadeeth of the Prophet (PBUH) puts it thus: “When Allah forbade something, He forbade its price too; whoever withholds grapes during harvesting season to sell it later on to a Jew or a Christian or to whoever transmutes grapes to wine — ie even if it was to a Muslim, surely he deliberately plunges himself into hellfire.” A Muslim cannot monopolistically hoard foodstuff or similar (basic) items needed by the people with the intention of selling it for twice or more of its price. Authentic Hadeeth states it thus: “No one other than a wrongdoer (ie sinner) hoards monopolistically.” Allah, the Exalted says:

A Muslim trader should not hide or cover up the defects and drawbacks of his merchandise and highlight its merits and advantages in an exaggeratory manner, as is normally done through present-day advertising, so that the deluded customers pay a price higher than what is really reasonable. This is known as swindling and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said about this: “He who swindles is not from amongst us.” In distribution and possession of wealth also, it is not lawful for a Muslim to possess wealth through wicked means. He is not permitted to acquire through aggression nor by deceit what he otherwise does not deserve.

For this reason, Allah has prohibited usury, gambling, devouring of people’s possessions by false pretences, all forms of unfairness, harming and undue Impairment of all sorts. As far as consumption is concerned, Islam has not let the reigns free for a believer, so that he could spend according to his whims and fancies without being concerned about the interests of his own self and the interests of his family and his nation. It has rather restrained it by moderation and temperance. The Quran reads: “Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard’s) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that thou become blameworthy and destitute”. (Al Quran: Al Isra’ : 29)

“… eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters”. (Al Quran: Al A’raf : 31) It has deplored extravagance and indulgence in luxuries and vain pleasures. It has prohibited all of sybaritic manifestations, like using utensils of gold and silver, and barred their use for men as well as for women. Similarly, it has forbidden wearing of gold and silk for men. All these guiding principles characterise and distinguish the Islamic Economy with the great peculiarity of being “ethical economy”. Many of the fair-minded scholars and honest researchers confirm this reality.

French writer Jacques Austeroi, writes in his book, Islam and Economic Development (Translated to Arabic by Dr Nabil Taweel): “Islam is simultaneously a system of practical life and of idealistic moral values. As these two aspects are interlinked and inseparable, we can say that secular economy is unacceptable to Muslims. Economy that derives its strength from Quranic revelation must certainly be an ethical economy. “These moral values are capable of redefining the concept of ‘value’ and to fill the intellectual void that is on the verge of emergence as a result of the mechanism of industrialisation.

He has denounced the harmful consequences of development of the depraved industrial civilisation in the west. Economy today faces threat arising from domination of ‘values of appetite’ over the genuine values. The West has started comprehending harmful consequences of the economic trends leading towards an unstable world, wherein man finds himself suddenly terminated from his job; wherein machines have become the master; wherein there is extremism in gaining possession of luxuries, like cars; wherein the attention is focused on absurd things. “The West never bothered to decelerate the enmity of machines towards the humans, although they occupy an important place in today’s civilisation.

“This convergence of morality and economy has not been out of the blue in Islam, the faith that knows no schism between materiality and spirituality. (Those who may be interested in extensive details on this subject may refer to my book The Role of Values and Morals in Islamic Economy (Pages: 440/ Published by Maktabat Wahbah — Cairo). If we examine the functional reality, we shall find the effects of this conjugation of economy and ethics very lucid and deep rooted in history of the Muslims, especially when Islam was the foremost influencing factor in their lives and the master pilot of their activity and behaviour.

e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com

Thought of the Day...

"My servant ceases not to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory devotions until I love him, when I love him I become his eyesight with which he sees, his hearing with which he hears, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot on which he walks.When he asks of Me, I grant him; and when he seeks My protection, I protect him."

this hadeeth has caused an unusual unsettling feeling in my heart. My du'aa for respite and guidance this remaining nights of Ramadhan.

Each moment contains
a hundred messages from God:
To every cry of
"Oh Lord,"
He answers a hundred times,

"I am here"
... Maulana Rumi

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Islamic practices of worship and the morals

24 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

ALL major Islamic practices of worship have very clear 1moral objectives. Salat (the obligatory Prayers), which is the foremost daily ritual in the life of a Muslim, plays a vital role in building the self-driven deterrent and in cultivating the devout conscience: “… Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do”. ( Al-Quran: Al-’Ankabut: 45)

These prayers amount to moral reinforcement for the believer. He resorts to these while confronting the difficulties of life: “O ye who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere”. (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 153) Zakat (the mandatory charity), which has recurrently been mentioned alongside Salat (the obligatory Prayers), is not just a financial tax collected from the rich and passed onto the poor. In the domain of morals, it is rather the medium to purify, whereas in the field of finance, it makes an important instrument of collection and development. “Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them...” (Al-Quran: At-Taubah : 103)

Fasting in Islam is aimed at training the self on abstention from its own wicked desires and on revolt against its own habitual inclinations. In other words, it prepares the self for piety, which is the core of Islamic morality. “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint”. ( Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 183)

Likewise, Haj in Islam is meant to train the Muslim on cleansing the self, on devotion and on rising above the vanities, extravagances, commotions and conflicts of life. That is the reason why Islam prescribes the Ehram (simple attire of pilgrimage) denoting entering into a life founded on simplicity, modesty, peace, seriousness and abandoning of pomposity of the worldly life. “For Haj are the months well-known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Haj...” (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 197)

When these Islamic practices of worship lose these denotations and fail to achieve the desired goals, their significance is lost along with essence of their mission. Thereupon these practices turn to become corpses having no soul. No wonder that many sayings of the Prophet of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) emphasise upon this reality in very eloquent and unequivocal terms.

For example, “He whom his prayers do not prevent from wicked deeds, his prayers are void. How many an awake (in discretionary night prayers) gains from his vigilance nothing but burning of the midnight oil”. About the fasting too he said, “He who does not give up spurious talk and acting upon it, Allah is in no need for him leaving his food and drink. How many a faster there is, who gains noting from fasting except hunger and thirst”.

To be continued ...

e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com

Sarawak Layer Cake

assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu,

someone said this to me earlier "I am always, always fascinated at how in the whole wide world the Sarawakians do it. Their layer cake (kek lapis) I mean.

The complexity of the mixtures giving it a variety of distinctive taste not to mentioned the beauty of it. I must say, only when you put your own hands into it you begin to appreciate the art even more. It is a long and tedious process that took up to about 4 hours for a single cake.(i saw my mother baked those before!)

ps : me myself, always sat and stared for a long time into one, more in wondering how actually they come out with such an intricate colorful and batik-ful cake with questions like how do they actually put the colors in between like they'd colored the cake box by box..so intricate the design. Must be tedious…!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Significance of morals in the message of Islam

23 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

ISLAM in its essence is a moralistic message, with all depth and comprehensiveness of the subject. This is not merely, because Islam vigorously motivates for moral excellence and strongly cautions against depravity, demands highest level of compliance in this regard, and associates utmost degrees of retribution — in reward and penalty — both in this world and in the life hereafter.

This is also not just because Islam intensively cares about morals to the extent that when the Quran commended the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), the most eloquent expression to affirm his paramount status was: “And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character.” (Al-Quran: Al-Qalam: 4) Even the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), summarises with succinct eloquence the purpose behind his message: “I was sent to perfect the nobility of character.”

Morality is not a characteristic of Islam merely for this or that reason. Besides these reasons, it is because of the fact that morality circulates like blood in whole of the Islamic system and in Islamic teachings. It even flows in its beliefs, in acts of worship and in dealings, and goes into polity, economics and even into principles of peace and war.

Islamic beliefs and the morals: Islamic beliefs are founded upon monotheism, the antonym of which is polytheism. From here, we discover that Islam ascribes a moral manifestation to monotheism and considers it a matter of justice, which is a moral virtue. On the other hand, it treats polytheism as a matter of injustice, which symbolises moral depravity: “… False worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing” (Al-Quran: Luqman: 13) The Quran rather regards disbelief, with all its types as being injustice. Allah, the Exalted, says: … Those who reject Faith they are the wrong-doers. ( Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 254)

When Islamic faith becomes consummate and bears fruits, it assumes the form of moral virtues, which have been mentioned at length in the Quranic verses and in the prophetic tradition, for example: “The believers must (eventually) win through,- Those who humble themselves in their prayers; Who avoid vain talk; Who are active in deeds of charity; Who abstain from sex, Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, — for (in their case) they are free from blame, But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors; — Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants. And who (strictly) guard their prayers; — These will be the heirs, Who will inherit Paradise: they will dwell therein (for ever) (Al-Quran: Al-Mu’minun: 1- 10)

“For, Believers are those who, when God is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; Who establish regular prayers and spend (freely) out of the gifts We have given them for sustenance: Such in truth are the believers: they have grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness, and generous sustenance”. (Al-Quran: Al-Anfal: 2-4)

“Only those are Believers who have believed in God and His Apostle, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of God: Such are the sincere ones”. (Al-Quran: Al-Hujurat: 15) “And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!”; Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing; Those who say, “Our Lord! avert from us the Wrath of Hell, for its Wrath is indeed an affliction grievous, — “Evil indeed is it as an abode, and as a place to rest in”; Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes); Those who invoke not, with God, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; — and any that does this (not only) meets punishment”. (Al-Quran: Al-Furqan: 63 — 68)

Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) too link moral virtues with the faith and regard them as its exigencies and fruits. For example: “He who believes in Allah and in the day of judgement, should brace the bond of kinship; He who believes in Allah and in the day of judgement, should refrain from hurting his neighbour; He who believes in Allah and in the day of judgement, should either utter good or keep quiet”.

“Faith has more than seventy branches, and the highest amongst these is declaration of faith — that “there is no god but Allah” — and the lowest amongst these is elimination of harm from the pathway. Prudent shame (too) is a branch of the faith.” “While committing fornication, the fornicator ceases to be faithful; while committing theft, the thief ceases to be faithful; while drinking intoxicant, a drinker ceases to be faithful.” To be continued ...

e-mail: drbashirahmad@hotmail.com


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blessed be the children

If you wish to become a saint, change your character into the character of children. Children have 5 qualities, and if adults had these same qualities, they would attain the rank of saints :

1. they do not worry about their daily bread

2. when they fall sick, they do not complain night and day about their misfortune

3. whatever food they have, they share - lovely!

4. when they fight or quarrel, they do not keep grudges in their hearts, but make up quickly ;-)

5. the slightest threat makes them frightened and brings tears to their eyes.

[ Imam al-Ghazali ]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Night of Power

salamullahi 'alaikum warahmah wa barakah,

since we are getting nearer to the last 10 days of Ramadhan, we want to wish all the muslims "Happy Hunting the Al Qadr" - may He shower us with loads of baraka wa rahma this Ramadhan, inshaAllah ameen :)

ps : dont forget to recite this du'aa taught by saidatina 'Aisha r.anha if you people meet the Al Qadr - please insert my name(nurzaiti hamdan) into your du'aa, jazakallahu wa khairan kathira!

Dalam sebuah hadis daripada 'Aisyah r.a.berkata:
"Ya Rasulullah bagaimana kalau saya bertemu Lailatul Qadar? Apa yang harus saya ucapkan pada malam itu?'' Baginda bersabda: Ucapkanlah: "Ya Allah kami bermohon padaMu, sesungguhnya Engkau Maha Pengampun, suka mengampuni (hamba-hambaMu), maka ampunilah (dosa-dosa) kami.''
(Riwayat Tirmizi, Nasa'i, Ibnu Majah dan Ahmad)

'Aisha R.A reports:
"I said 'O Rasul of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wassallam) , should I find myself the Laylatul Qadr, what shall I ask of Allah (Subhanahu wa Taala) ? Rasulullah (Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wassallam) replied, 'Say, "O Allah, You are the One who grants pardon for sins, You loves to pardon, so pardon me.""

(Narrated by Tirmizi, Nasa'i, Ibnu Majah and Ahmad)

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ، تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ، فَاعْفُ عَنَّا ياكَرِيْم

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Advantages of Islamic worship

17 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

THE Islamic meaning and scope of worship has auspicious effects on self and life, such as: 1. It dyes the life and actions of a Muslim with the divine paint. It keeps him tugged with Allah in every worldly act in such a way that he performs these acts with the intention of a devout adorer with a humble and pious soul. This creates meaning and significance in every act of the Muslim.

This perception beckons him towards excellence, meticulousness and perfection in his worldly deeds, as he does so with the perception of submission to the Glorious Cherisher and with the intention of seeking His pleasure and pleasant recompense. 2. It grants to a Muslim focus of direction and unity of purpose in the whole life. In every coming day and passing night, he strives to please the only Lord and strides towards Him with all his worldly and religious endeavours. There is no schism or conflict nor duplicity neither in his personality nor in life.

The Muslim is not one of those who worship Allah in the darkness of the night and worship the “society” in the daylight. He is not one of those who worship Allah within the walls of the mosque and worship the “world” or the “matter” in the arena of actual life. He is not one of those who worship Allah on a specific day of the week and worship other things and beings throughout the week.

Certainly, he is not of that lot! He worships only Allah and Him alone wherever he is, however he is and in whatever job and circumstance he may be. Observation of Allah does not part with him in any work, state, or time: “To Allah belong the east and the West: Whithersoever ye turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing”. (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 115)

Thus, all his attention turns towards Allah, his heart concentrates on Allah; the integrity and harmony of his life, thought, motivation and passion do not disintegrate in various directions, trends and schisms. The whole life of a Muslim is an indivisible single unit; his course therein is the worship of Allah; his purpose therein is seeking pleasure of Allah; his guide therein is the revelation of Allah.

Worship embraces the whole personality
As worship in Islam incorporates the whole life, it also embraces the complete human personality. A Muslim worships Allah with his intellect; he worships Allah with his heart; he worships Allah with his tongue; he worships Allah with the senses of hearing and vision and with all other senses, he worships Allah with his whole body; he worships Allah by spending his wealth; he worships Him by dedicating his life; he even worships Him by parting with his nearest and dearest and by departing his homeland.

A Muslim glorifies Allah with his intellect by reflecting over his own self and over the universe, by contemplating the wondrous kingdom of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is therein, by pondering over the revealed signs of Allah and on the guidance and wisdom therein, and by mulling over the destiny of nations, the events of history and the lessons and warnings therein.

Purpose of Worship
We know now that the mission of the human being on the face of this earth and within this existence is to worship Allah alone. We know that the worship represents utmost submission blended with ultimate love for Allah. We know that the worship in Islam encompasses the whole life. A question that may be asked by some as to why do we worship Allah? In other words, why did Allah make His worship and obedience incumbent upon us, while he is in no need of it?

The answer is that in fact the worship of any of His slaves avails no benefit to Him (Praise be to Him) nor does turning away of any arrogant from Him harm Him in any manner. The Quran narrates to us the statement of Solomon (PBUH): “… (Solomon) said: “This is by the Grace of my Lord! — to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! and if any is grateful, truly his gratitude is (a gain) for his own soul; but if any is ungrateful, truly my Lord is Free of all Needs, Supreme in Honour !”… ( Al-Quran: Al-Naml:40) The Holy Quran also says: “O ye men! It is ye that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise”. (Al-Quran: Fatir: 15)

Nourishment of the soul
Human being is not just the physical shroud that we feel and see, and that demands its portion of the earthly food and drink. The essence of the human being rather lies in that precious substance, by which he became venerated as human being and as master of all creation on the earth. That substance is nothing but the soul that derives its vivacity and purity from intimate discourse with Allah (the Mighty and the Majestic). Worship of Allah provides sustenance and nourishment to this soul and dispenses its daily requirements, never running out nor depleting.

If negligence and ignorance accumulate on this abstract substance and if oxidation of repudiation and suspicion rust it, sentiments in times of ordeals may breeze up and dislodge the accumulated dust; fire of hardship and suffering may erupt and eliminate the corrosion. Right then does the human being instantaneously return to Allah, calls out to Him and humbles himself before Him.

The human heart always feels the need for Allah, the Originator of all that exists. This feeling is so pristine and veritable, that its vacuum cannot be filled by anything in the existence except by a strong bond with Lord of the Existence. This exactly is the role of worship when performed aptly.

Road to freedom
Furthermore, absolute servitude to Allah is actually the selfsame of freedom. It is the road to real sovereignty. It alone releases the heart from serfdom of the created. It alone liberates the heart and mind from submission and servitude of all sorts of gods and idols besides Allah, who subjugate the people and enslave them by means of the worst forms of subjugation and enslavement, even though in their appearance and form, they may, appear to be sovereign rulers.

For more inquiries e-mail at drbashirahmad@hotmail.com


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Islamic perspective of worship

16 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

THE exigency of human worship to Allah alone is that you submit all your affairs to the Will of Allah and to His approval, whether it be beliefs, words or deeds. You must customise your life and behaviour according to the requirements of the divine guidance and specifications.

When Allah commands you to do something or prohibits you from doing something, when He legitimises something for you or forbids something for you, your stance should be: “… We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys…” (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 285)

The distinction between a believer and an infidel is that the believer sets himself free from the bondage of his own self and from the slavery of the created beings for the bondage of his Creator alone; he moves out of the obedience of his whims and fancies to the obedience of Allah.

A believer is not like a stray animal, so that he can follow his own vagary or someone else can set the course for him. A believer is not a slave to society. A believer is, rather, obligated by an agreement that he must honour, by a sacred covenant that he must conform to. The covenant of faith implies that the faithful handover the reins of his life to Allah, so that His genuine and truthful Messenger can lead it on the right track and he be guided by the impeccable divine revelation. The covenant of faith makes it imperative that when the Lord says, “I order and I forbid”, the slave must say, “I heard and I obeyed”. The covenant of faith requires that the human being set himself free from the bondage of vagaries of his own self to the law of his Master.

Hence, he does not worship Allah, who says, “I worship, fast and perform Hajj, but I am at liberty to eat pork, drink intoxicants, deal in usury; I am free to reject those statutes of the Shariah that don't appeal to me, and to adopt thereupon norms other than the norms of Shariah”. Similarly he does not worship Allah, who assumes that the servitude to Allah does not go beyond the walls of the mosque, and that when he enters the diverse fields of life outside the mosque, he is the slave of his own self; in other words, he considers himself free to follow his own lusts or the lusts of other created beings like him.

Islam has broadened the scope of worship and expanded its compass to accommodate a multitude of deeds that no one could imagine to be recognised by religion as deeds of worship and means of endearing oneself to Allah. Every beneficial social work is acknowledged by Islam as being amongst the best acts of worship, as long as the intention of the doer is benevolence rather than hunting for praise and admiration.

Every sincere deed wherein a human being wipes a drop of tears of a grief-stricken fellow human being, or lightens the agony of an agonised, or swathes in bandages the wounds of the afflicted, or allays the hunger of a destitute, or supports an oppressed, or raises a powerless from a fall, or pays off the debt of an impoverished person, or lends a helping hand to a modest needy breadwinner, or guides a bewildered, or teaches an unlearned, or provides shelter to a stranger, or wards off ordeal from a living being, or removes a harmful thing from a passageway, or provides succour to a needy, is essentially a feat of worship and a vehicle for achieving closeness to Allah.

Islam effectively rendered a whole host of such deeds to the status of worship of the Gracious Allah, to being the ramifications of faith and means of achieving remuneration from Allah. So prayers or fasting or remembrance or invocation and supplications alone are not logged as deeds of worship that qualify for reward, certainly not! During the course of a day one can append his balance sheet with many deeds of worship and virtue — whatsoever insignificant those may appear according to the worldly standards - that carry their credence and worth in the rating scale of Allah, the Exalted.

In this perspective the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned about those who strive for reconciliation between adversaries, “Shall I reveal to you something more substantial than fasting, prayers and charity? The companions (may Allah be pleased with them) said, for sure, please reveal to us. He said, It is reconciliation between adversaries.

Emphasising upon the significance of visiting the ailing and sick, and explaining its importance in the form of alleviation and consolation, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) says, “He who visits a sick person, an angle calls out to him from the heavens: be delighted, may your walking bring delight to you, and may you be granted an abode in paradise”. (Narrated by Tirmizi). In fact, Islam deems these social works as daily obligation upon every Muslim.

Breadwinning too is worship

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) regarded the worldly deeds carried out by the human being for his own livelihood and his endeavours for himself and for his family as worship. A farmer in his farm, a worker in his factory, a trader in his store, an employee in his office and every person in the field of his profession can turn his toil for his own livelihood into prayers and into struggle for the cause of Allah, if the work done is legitimate according to Islam. Those deeds that are disapproved by Islam, like working in usury, pubs and ball rooms are not and shall never be treated as worship.

Allah is good and accepts nothing but good. The work should be anchored in righteous intention: the intention of safeguarding himself, providing sufficiently for his family, benefiting his nation and making the earth flourish, as ordained by Allah. The job is done with perfection and excellence. In this context, the Hadeeth says: “Allah has prescribed excellence in every regard”and “Allah likes that whenever anyone of you does any job, that he does it with perfection.” (Narrated by Muslim from Shaddad bin Auws)

Fulfilment of sexual appetite: Even more wonderful than all that preceded above, is the fact that worship includes even the basic needs fulfilled by a Muslim in response to the human instinct. Eating, drinking, sexual interaction of husband and wife, and all such things are enfolded by Islam in the broad spectrum of worship if the “intention” is righteous. The “intention” is the wondrous magical substance that when added to unforbidden deeds and habits, turns them into acts of piety and devotion.

The most unequivocal witness to this effect is the following explanation of the Messenger of Allah to his companions: “Even your having intercourse is (an act of) charity”. The companions asked: “Does it mean that when one of us fulfils his carnal appetite, he will deserve a reward for that?” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied: “do you realise that if one would indulge in an illegitimate sexual intercourse, he would carry a sin?” The companions said: “of course”. He said, “Exactly the same way, when he has sex through the legitimate ways i.e. with his wife. he deserves a reward!”
(To be continued)


Monday, September 15, 2008

Mission of Man in This Existence

* all the article shown with date are written by my other half :)

10 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

FROM the Islamic point of view, any ignorance, however grave it may be, can be forgiven, except the ignorance of a human being about the purpose of his life, says Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, a renowned Islamic scholar and author of Gateway to Knowledge about Islam.

The worst ignominy for this creature — the human being, who has been given the intellect and will — is when he lives incautious, eats and enjoys like cattle and does not reflect over his destiny nor becomes cognizant about his own self and about his role in this life, until the death suddenly comes about.

In view of this, it is incumbent upon every prudent human being to ask himself with all earnestness: Why have I been created? What is the purpose of my creation? To these questions from us, Allah will reply with same answers that have been mentioned in His timeless book, the Glorious Quran, that He created the human being to be His vicegerent on the earth. This fact is very clear from the story of Adam, how angels envied him for the status granted to him by Allah: “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? — whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?” He said: “I know what ye know not.” (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 30)

The first thing among the prerequisites of this deputyship is that the human being should recognise his Lord very well and must worship Him comprehensively. Allah says: Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number. Through the midst of them (all) descends His Command: that ye may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah comprehends, all things in (His) Knowledge. (Al-Quran: At-Talaq: )

In this Quranic verse, recognising Allah and serving Allah has been described as the purpose of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Recognising Allah means understanding His creation ie laws of nature. Serving Allah means serving the mankind. Some experts say there is no better means of understanding the Creator than science and no better means of serving humanity than technology. So going for science and technology with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure is in a way worship of Allah.

Allah, the Exalted, says: “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me. No Sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me. For Allah is He Who gives (all) Sustenance, — Lord of Power,- Steadfast (for ever).( Al-Quran: Az-Zariyat: 56-58)Anyone who ponders over this universe, wherein we live, finds everything in it existing and living for the service of others. We see that the water is for the soil, the soil is for the vegetation, the vegetation is for the animals, and the animals are for the human being. For whom then, is the human being himself? This is the puzzle.

The human being is for Allah, for knowing Him, for worshiping Him and for discharging his duties. It is not conceivable that the human being can be for anything else found on the earth. Hence worship by the human being of forces of nature, whether above him or below him, like the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers, the animals, the trees etc, has been a reversal of the natural placement and a horrendous retrograding of his status. Naturally and logically thus the human being is for Allah the Glorified, not for anyone else other than Him; he is for the worship of Allah alone, not for the worship of any fellow human, or stone, or animal or tree, or the sun, or the moon.

And worship in its broadest terms means understanding Allah’s creation and appreciating and praising Him and carrying out His commandments which ask us to serve humanity. In Islam every lawful act done with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure is workship. That means, for example, working in office to earn a livelihood for your family and visiting market is a part of workship. “Did I not enjoin on you, O ye Children of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan; for that he was to you an enemy avowed?, and that ye should worship Me, (for that) this was the Straight Way?” (Al-Quran: YaSin: 60-61)

Essence of Worship
Every obedience to Allah on account of submission and humility is worship. Worship is a kind of subordination that is deserved only by the benefactor of the highest benefactions, like life, comprehension, hearing and vision. Besides its linguistic meaning — which implies highest degree of obedience and submission — adoration is also a key component of worship. It implies extreme humbleness to Allah out of deep adoration for Him.

The basis of submission to Allah is the conscious awareness about His unity and about His paramount omnipotence over all and everything in the existence. Every existing thing is His creation and is His slave; everything is in His hand, under His control and within His authority. In this perspective, the Quran states: “Whatever beings there are in the heavens and the earth do prostrate themselves to God (Acknowledging subjection), — with good-will or in spite of themselves: so do their shadows in the morning and evenings. Say: “Who is the Lord and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth?” Say: “(It is) God.”

Say: “Do ye then take (for worship) protectors other than Him, such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves?” Say: “Are the blind equal with those who see? Or the depths of darkness equal with light?” Or do they assign to God partners who have created (anything) as He has created, so that the creation seemed to them similar? Say: “God is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the Supreme and Irresistible.” (Al-Quran: Ar-Ra’d: 15-16) The basis of submission to Allah, the Almighty, is the self-consciousness about the indigence to one who possesses harm and benefit; one who controls death and life; to whom belongs the creation and the command; in whose hands is the governance of all things.

The more the human being gains the knowledge about his own self and about his Creator, the more these presentiments increase in clarity and strength. The more we seek knowledge, the more our trust in Allah increases, the more is our orientation towards Him, more is his reliance on Him, more frequent is he in resorting to Him, more natural is our servility of Him, more spontaneous we are in stretching our hands in supplication towards Him and the more we knock at His door in invocation and penitence.

On the contrary, when a human being is unconscious of his own worth and ignorant of the significance of the Creator Almighty, these presentiments do not die, but deviate and mutate and search for a deity to which the person turns, submits, and for sure, unconsciously, pursues that wrong course. The person may not call his submission to such an unconsciously sought after deity as his submission or obedience to a deity or to a god.


Philosophy of Islam is peace and harmony in all affairs of man

06 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

IN his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Yusuf al Qaradhawi explains how Islam reforms the individual and society at large by addressing the issues of their soul and heart by making them the stimulus for change for a better world around them. Al Qaradhawi says science facilitated repairing exterior of the human being, but it failed in reforming his essence.

It has not been able to penetrate deep to the conscious, the cognizant, the sensitive and the susceptible “divine delicacy”, that which when is sound, leads to soundness of the human being; that which when deteriorates, leads to deterioration of the human being; that what is known as the heart or the self or the soul. Whatever that may be termed, that verily is the essence of the human being!

Science granted the human being tools to triumph over some of the forces of nature, but it did not give him means to prevail over his own self: over his desires, his distrust, his anxiety, fear, perplexity, while in conflict within himself and in clash with the society. Modern medicine and surgery have advanced to their farthest frontiers, in this century. Physicians have started saying that the science can eradicate all diseases, except death and old age! In spite of this, diseases have been proliferating, ramifying and spreading at an astonishing speed.

Out of these, “nervous and psychosomatic diseases”, are nothing but consequences and symptoms of the terrible contradiction, through which the individual and the society are passing. The secret of this is that the material knowledge, with all its diversity and discoveries, has not been able to know the reality of the human being. One, who knew the matter and its laws, could not know his own self. No wonder, that this situation led a great scientist like Alexis Carrel (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1912) to pen his famous book Man, the Unknown.

Hence, modern science tried to nurture all material aspects of the human body, but it failed to nourish the human-self along with its contents of conscience, aspirations and will. This led to tall and stout bodies with brawny muscles, but the other side, which is the essence of the human being, ended up suffering from arcane lot of crisis.

Modern psychology affirms that among the root causes of psychosomatic diseases are hatred, malice, fear, fatigue, despondency, dismay, distrust, selfishness and annoyance with the surroundings. All these relate directly to a life characterised by deprivation of faith in God. Islam indeed, is the most magnificent revolution of the human history. It is the revolution for liberty of every human being from servitude and submission to anyone other than his Creator. It is a revolution in the areas of thought, conscience and perception. It is a revolution in the world of reality and application.

The title of this revolution is the august expression and declaration of monotheism “laa ilaaha illallah” (there is non worthy of worship except the one and the only God, Allah). Thus, people are equal. No one should be allowed to enslave others nor should people tyrannise one another. If someone oppresses, tyrannises and perverts, others should obstruct his way and seize his hands, or else they will be considered accomplices in the sin and deserve the just retribution from Allah.

The Holy Quran affirms: “And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than Allah, nor shall ye be helped. (Al Quran: Hud: 113) The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) says, “When people notice an oppressor and do not seize his hands, it is the time when Allah is about to punish them all with punishment from him”.

He makes it obligatory upon everyone spotting an oppression or corruption or injustice to strive for changing it with all possible means, “Anyone spotting an abhorrence, should change it with his hand; in case he can’t afford to do so, he should change it with (the communication skills of) his tongue; in case he can’t afford do so, he should curse it in his heart; this is the weakest (level) of the faith”. (Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Tirmizi as authentic).

As for the third step, the smallest possible benefit of this, in the short term, is the disgust with oppressors and does not allow the faithful to participate with them in eating and drinking, nor does he associate or befriend with them. The Prophet (PBUH) regarded resistance to internal oppression and depravation akin to resistance of external invasion and aggression; both are holy struggle for the divine cause. When asked: “which type of struggle is the best?”, he replied: “word of truth in front of a tyrannical ruler.” ( Narrated by Abu-Dawud and Tirmizi as authentic).

He thus regarded this type of struggle as the best and the paramount struggle. This is Islam, which prompts to resistance of oppression until death and regards the one who gives life for this cause, as a martyr of the divine cause. Such a martyr is ranked among the vanguards of glorious martyrs. Islam nurtures consciousness of dignity and self-esteem in a Muslim’s personality and makes it one of the characteristics and impressions of faith: “…honour belongs to Allah and His Messenger, and to the Believers…” (Al-Quran: Al-Munafiqun: 8) “We have honoured the sons of Adam…” (Al Quran: Al-Isra’: 70)

“When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “In what (plight) Were ye?” They reply: “Weak and oppressed Were we in the earth.” They say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (From evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell, — What an evil refuge!” (Al Quran: An-Nisa: 97)

Among the invocations, The Prophet (PBUH) taught us is: “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from distress and sorrow; I seek refuge with You from helplessness and laziness; I seek refuge with You from miserliness and cowardice; I seek refuge with You from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men”.( Narrated by Abu-Dawud, under No: 1555). This invocation to Allah teaches seeking refuge with Allah from all manifestations of weakness that strike the human being, affect him, subjugate him and humiliate him.

Is Islam a threat? Indeed, Islam is a threat to those who do not want peace. The underlying philosophy of Islam is peace and harmony in all affairs of man and in his relationships with the natural world, the fellow human beings and with his own family and soul. Obviously, Islam is a threat to those materialistic powers who want to rule by creating chaos and follow a divide-and-rule policy to ensure their interests. Islam is a threat to those who make arms, promote arms race, like to fish in troubled waters and therefore have no stake in peaceful settlement of disputes. Islam is indeed a threat to oppressors for it stands for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden people.

The struggle between the forces of good and evil, or truth and falsehood has been continuing since the dawn of time. Islam invites all peace-loving forces to join hands and work for a better world. Islam is the most vigorous of the world ideologies and its impact on the political and social history at the beginning of the new millennium is proving profound. Islam is a living ideology that opposes any kind of aggression and injustice. Hence, hegemonic powers are against it and its teachings. Islam is the only international code of conduct that challenges these powers that want to rule by creating chaos and follow a divide-and-rule policy to fish in troubled waters.

This is Islam, which calls for revolt against injustice, feebleness, helplessness and servitude and incites to advocacy of truth, strength and freedom. Is it fair to say about such a religion that it is an opium of the people and that it benumbs them with promises of bliss in the paradise, so that they keep mum about injustices in this world?!!!


Man’s mission as the vicegerent of God on earth

03 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

RAMADHAN is a month of contemplation and concentration on higher things. One of them is the fact that man has been created to be the vicegerent of God on the earth. In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Yusuf al Qaradhawi explains how Islam grapples with the most basic issues about the purpose and mission of humankind.

Al Qaradhawi says religions based on divinely revealed scriptures contain divine guidance for the humankind. For example, Judaism is based on the Torah revealed to Moses (Peace Be Upon Him), Christianity is based on the Bible that was revealed to Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) and Islam is based on the Quran that was revealed to the last Messenger and the final Prophet of the Almighty, Mohammad (PBUH).

The difference between Islam and other scripture based religions is that Allah protected the foundations of Islam and its sources because of its being the final divine message to the humankind. These sources did not become subject of any distortion nor any alteration. On the other hand, the sources of other religions and their sacred books could not remain secure, but were either distorted and altered or were even lost.

Fundamentally, all the heavenly religions, although their doctrines differ according to the times of their revelation, share common sources for their beliefs. This has been explained and emphasised in the Quran as follows: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah — that which We have sent by inspiration to thee — and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus: Namely that ye should remain steadfast in Religion and make no divisions therein” (Al-Quran: Ash-Shura: 13)

The Quran has affirmed that the religion of Allah is one. Through all his books, He revealed the same religion and He sent all His messengers with the same religion. That religion, as Allah, the Exalted, says, is Islam: “The Religion before Allah is Islam, submission to His will”. (Al-Quran: Al-Imran: 19) In that sense, all messengers of Allah were Muslims and called to Islam: “Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian but he was true in faith and bowed his will to Allah’s (which is Islam), and he joined not gods with God”. (Al-Quran: Al-Imran: 67)

Moses called his people saying: “…O my People! if ye do (really) believe in Allah then in Him put your trust if ye submit (your will to His)”. (Al-Quran: Yunus: 84) The disciples of Jesus (PBUH) said to him: “We are Allah’s helpers we believe in Allah and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims...” (Al-Quran: Al-Imran: 52) Mohammad, the final Messenger (PBUH), was sent with Islam — the religion of all messengers of Allah — confirming the previous religions as well as corroborating what their scriptures contained in the form of religious facts and behavioural guidance.

The Glorious Quran was revealed to supersede those books by way of correcting the linguistic distortion or misrepresentation of the meanings of words of God, and to complement the benevolent morals with which the previous messengers had come. The revealed scriptures, thus, culminated in the form of the final book — the Quran — to provide the paramount guidance and the finest moral code while the human race reached its prime and attained its maturity.

Allah, the Exalted, addresses His Messenger, Mohammad (PBUH) saying: “To thee We sent the Scripture in truth confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires diverging from the truth that hath come to thee …” (Al-Quran: Al-Maidah: 48)

Need for Religion
The need of a human being for religious beliefs arises, primarily, from his urge to know his own self and the greater existence surrounding him; it emerges from the quest for answers to those questions that have been engaging the human philosophies throughout the history, except that these philosophies have not been able to pronounce anything satisfying.

In the heart of his hearts, a human being keeps asking himself questions like: wherefrom did I come? Where did this universe around me come from? Did I come into existence on my own, or is there a creator who created me? Who is that originator? What is my relation with Him? Did this enormous world around me, with its earth and sky; with its animals, plants, inanimate bodies and universe; come into being by itself or an intelligent designer brought it into existence? What is there after this life … after the death?

After this short expedition to the planet Earth, where does the journey lead? Is the whole story of this life just about, as someone said, “wombs eject and the earth swallows” and the story ends there? How can the destiny of the noble and the chaste, who laid down their lives in the path of truth and righteousness, be like the destiny of the wicked and the crook, who massacred others for their own whims and fancies? Does this life end up with the death; or is there another life wherein those who did bad deeds will be paid in kind of their deeds and those who were righteous be paid rightly? Why did the human being come into existence?

Why, unlike other living beings, was man given the capabilities of intellect, resolve and differentiation? Why was all that is in the skies and in the earth made subservient to man? Is there a purpose to his being? Does he have a mission in life; or was he brought into existence just to eat and drink like cattle and to die and depart from this life like animals? If there is a purpose to his existence, what then is that purpose? How does he realise that purpose?

Such questions have been posing themselves emphatically to the human being in all times and obliging for convincing answers that can quench his rational thirst and satisfy his inner self. However, satisfactory answers to these can be found only by resorting to Islam. Islam only makes you aware, in the first instance, that you did not come into existence by happenstance, nor did you stand up in this form in the midst of this universe on your own; you are rather a creation of a great Creator.

That Creator is his Cherisher, the one who created you in a duly proportionate and orderly form; breathed into you something of his spirit; gave you the faculties of listening, seeing and feeling (in the heart); bestowed upon you His enormous blessings, right from the stage when you were an embryo in your mother’s womb: “Have We not created you from a fluid (held) despicable?, which We placed in a place of rest firmly fixed, For a period (of gestation) determined (according to need), For We do determine (according to need); for We are the Best to determine (things)!” (Al-Quran: Al-Mursalat: 20-23)

This vast universe around you is neither alien to you nor is it your adversary; it is, just like you, Allah’s creation; it does not move haphazardly, nor does it follow its course arbitrarily; everything in it is proportionate and precise; every event and each move calculated and measured. This is a bounty from Allah bestowed upon the human being, so that he may enjoy His blessings, and think over His signs to find a lead to his Cherisher: “Who hath created and further given order and proportion; Who hath ordained laws. And granted guidance”. (Al-Quran: Al-A’ala: 2-3)

“Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding”. (Al-Quran: Al-Imran: 190) With this belief, the human being gets connected with the greater existence around him; he gets connected to the Cherisher of the whole existence Himself; he does not live cocooned around himself; neither isolated from his surroundings nor fearful of them. Only religion enlightens the human being about where is he going to go after this life and after death?

It enlightens him that death is not a mere extinction nor is it nothingness; that it is rather transition to yet another phase, wherein every person will be recompensed for all his deeds; that no one’s deeds, whether male or female, will go in vain, nor shall any tyrant or arrogant escape the divine justice: “On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out to be shown the Deeds that they (had done). Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it”. (Al-Quran: Az-Zalzalah: 6-8)

Only religion enlightens the human being about the purpose of his creation and about why he has been blessed and chosen. It defines to him the purpose of his existence and his mission therein. He realises that he has been created to be the vicegerent of God on the earth, so that he may exploit and develop it according to His commands, utilise it for what He likes, discover its hidden riches and consume its delicacies, without transgressing over the rights of others, nor forgetful of the rights of the Cherisher.

The first right of his Cherisher is that He alone be worshipped, no partners be to set to Him and He be worshipped in accordance to what He has prescribed and conveyed through His messengers — whom He sent to humankind as torchbearers and teachers and who were harbingers and warners. If he fulfils his obligations in this world, which is surrounded by obligations and ordeals, he will be rewarded in the hereafter: “On the day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done…” (Al-Quran: Al-Imran: 30)

Thus, the human being realises the secret of his existence and he recognise his mission in the life. This cognisance is bestowed upon him by the designer of the universe, the provider of life and the creator of the human being himself. A poet very aptly said: Death is nothing but a journey, a journey from the house of nonentity to the house of permanence. Omar bin Abdul Aziz has said: “we have been created for eternity; we are being transported from one abode to another”.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ya Rabbana Lakal Hamd!

Bismillahi walhamdulillahi 'alaa rasulillah...

We all know that everything is written and recorded for us in our books. The angles write everything we say. Well, when a servant of Allah SWTsays the following duaa:

ياربنا لك الحمد كما
ينبغى لجلال وجهك و لعظيم سلطانك

Ya Rabbana, lakal hamdu, Kama Yambaghy, Lijalali Wajhika Wa Adzhimi Sulthonik.

Oh Allah, Thanks and gratitude be to You, as much as your magnificence and great authority ought to deserve.

The angels are stumped as to what to write. Why do the angels not know how to write this?

When we say this duaa, and it can be seen from the translation, it is unquantifiable the amount we are thanking Allah SWT, because it is as much as He SWT ought to deserve, and a number or scale cannot be attached to this. So what do the angels do?

They go up to Allah SWT and tell Allah SWT, a servant of Yours has something we do not know how to write. Allah SWT of course knows what we have said, but nonetheless asks the angels what we said. The angels tell Him SWT the duaa. Allah SWT then tells the angels to record it exactly as the servant has said and Allah SWT will reward us when He SWT meets us on the Day of Judgement.

Isn’t this wonderful to hear? Something as simple as saying this duaa, saying it from our hearts will give us a reward that Allah SWT will grant us on the Day of Judgement. Imagine that, Allah SWT will reward us when we see Him SWT for this small dua that has great meaning! This just shows how wonderful and rewarding this duaa is, and that Allah SWT is saving our reward for when we meet Him SWT.

Just thought I’d share… Let’s all try to memorize this and start saying it daily. Instead of just saying Alhamdulilah (thanking Allah SWT once) let us say “Oh Allah, Thanks and gratitude be to You, as much as your magnificence and great authority ought to deserve.”

Hadith Source: Sunan Ibn Majah on the authority of Ibn 'Umar (ra)

Islam liberates mankind from all bondage

13 September 2008

By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad

IN a world that revolves around the material and the finite, Islam calls to a life dedicated to the divine and the eternal. It means that there is more to life than just chasing a higher level of material comfort. The practicing Muslim feels liberated as he/she is not a slave to society; they are slave to what their Lord has asked of them. Islam frees its followers from seeking fulfilment and happiness with the fleeting, transient things in this world. For the Muslim, every day has meaning, every day is an opportunity to put something forward for his account with the Lord.

In his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi says the cry of “laa ilaha illallah” (i.e. there is none worthy of worship except the one and only one Allah) raised by the Holy Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) was declaration of rebellion against idols of paganism as well as against all tyrants on the face of the earth; it was and continues to be a revolt against all purported deities and gods taken (for worship) besides Allah. “Laa ilaha illallah” is a universal call for freedom of the human being from bondage of every other human being, from the nature, from all creatures and from the whole creation of Allah.

“Laa ilaha illallah” is the title of a new order, designed not by a ruler or a philosopher, which is the system of Allah, before whom faces humble themselves and only to Whose command the hearts submit and only to Whose authority the minds surrender. “Laa ilaha illallah” heralded the birth of a new society contrary to societies of paganism, a society discrete in its belief and a society unique with its system, wherein there is no racism, regionalism nor any class system, because it belongs to Allah alone and does not owe allegiance to anyone except to Allah.

Pagan leaders and tyrants sensed how “Laa ilaha illallah” was going to wreck the thrones of their authority, eliminate their highhandedness and oppression and support the oppressed against them. Thence, they used all means to silence this call and lurked on every road, threatening and hindering from the path of Allah those who believed in Him, and seeking in it something crooked.

The greatest tragedy of the humanity has been that some of its mortals have been positioned as gods or semi gods for others on earth. People submit to these individual gods, bow to them, prostrate in front of them, yield to them and humble themselves before them. On the other hand, the monotheistic belief of Islam elevated the spirit of the faithful so that no mortal human could remain a deity or a half deity or one third of a deity or son of a deity or a god incarnate.

The crux of genuine human brotherhood and the core of genuine freedom and the essence of human dignity is that no human being prostrates before another human being, no one bows to a human being, nor does anyone kiss the ground in front of a human being. The Holy Quran tells us that alongside faith in the existence of Allah and His oneness, it is essential to attribute to Him absolute completeness appropriate to His bountiful self: “He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him”. (Al-Quran: Al-Ikhlas: 3-4)

“… there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things)”. (Al-Quran: Ash-Shu’ara’: 11) “Blessed be He in Whose hands is Dominion; and He over all things hath Power”. (Al-Quran: Al-Mulk: 1) Allah is the wise, Who does not create for futility nor does He leave anything purposeless. He does not ordain any statute without acumen; some understand that, while others remain ignorant. To this, the angels bore witness high in the heavens:

“They said: “Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom.” (Al-Quran: Al-Baqarah: 32) The opening statement of chapter of the Quran is: “Bismillahi-rrahmani-rrahem” (meaning: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), the fact that emphasises that His mercy is all-encompassing and strengthens the hope in human hearts, even if they might have committed transgression or been sinful. “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Al-Quran: Az-Zumar: 53)