On straightening the saff

And as Anas (may Allah be pleased will all these blessed Companions) complained that people would run away from them like wild donkeys if they attempted to make full contact with their feet in the Saff, and that was THEN. So what are you guys complaining about now? I’m glad we still even STAND in a line!

A good read straightening your saff, folks. And I think I’ve found my new favorite blog.

More here: http://alternativeentertainment.wordpress.com/2007/06/14/feet-to-feet/

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Islam and Nietzsche

Been there, done that. Good article:

The real test came, as it usually does on my own in the school environment, where many new ideas are thrown in to challenge my own, and it was through this initial confusion at the challenge, and then alarm that I began to examine my own position as a Muslim in a Western society and realization my ideology and beliefs weren’t susceptible to the same attacks and perversions that terrorized my Christian companions.

The reason for this intrigued me, and after much soul searching I realized that the underlying logic of Islam was based on a simple all-pervading belief in God and his Will; implying that one’s definition of Good was irrelevant in the face of the daily challenges that themselves defined and changed what it was to be human.

This idea made me keenly aware of my own moral self, and that the strict discipline and seemingly authoritarian regime I had felt subjected to as a child was in fact the basis of an intellectual immune system that would allow me to both absorb the good in other ideologies, while rejecting those principles that would lead to chaos and confusion.

Reminded me of this Tariq Ramadan interview  – supposedly a rare one which he focused almost exclusively on philosphy as a subject:

The point is that among these trends within the same tradition—the classical Islamic tradition throughout history—there is a struggle to say what the main principles are. And, in the end, you have schools coming from different views—some saying, “The main point is the oneness of God, and everything else is not so important,” and others saying, “if you look at anything to do with social affairs, there are six principles.” In my book Radical Reform, I say: “These six principles were enough in the Middle Ages. They are not enough today.” Why? Because we are dealing with so many different dimensions and the complexity of knowledge today means that we need to specify the objectives—meaning the applied ethics—in every single field. For example, the inner life: When we speak about stability and about well-being, the right response to the capitalist system’s assertions about well-being as GDP is to speak about well-being as something which reflects the inner dimension, your spiritual well-being. We have to come with this. This is what I mean by ethics.

So, I would say that the core of a tradition is never fully determined or finally decided. Even if you have, once again, a set of principles, priorities change depending on what you are talking about, and I think that this is something that is quite important for any tradition.

Now, where does faithfulness lie? This is why you have some principles—for example, in Islam I would identify the oneness of God, loving Him and being loved by Him, and then serving Him. And then there are principles that are the principles of worship; these are, in fact, the pillars. Now, we ask which principles allow us to deal with human societies, and which values are going to promote well-being. There are things that are immutable, constant, and permanent—when it comes to dignity, for example. We need this: the dignity of the human being, the dignity of man and woman, and the equal dignity of men and women. All these things are very important. As I said, depending on where you are, the dynamic between men and women could change, and we have to accept this. And the priorities could change, the level of urgency sometimes could change, depending on whether you are under a dictatorship and things like this. But I still think that tradition is complex. Faithfulness is not always easy to define, but we still have a set of principles that we can rely on to know where we are heading.

…I would say that to de-center yourself from this struggle, to come to the essence of who you are, and to have a projection, a vision for the future—all this could help you to decide for yourself what the true principles are. This is where and why you go towards transformation and adaptation.

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The Illuminati was here

Look at the similarities. The Illuminati is already around us! Our ancestors were poisoned! And you know what that means. No more ketupats for hari raya.

(Seriously, with my news feed recently being flooded with the illumanti-is-everywhere-and-in-the-olympic-tree, this should knock some sense into the people.)

(Image source)

 

Also, Imam Suhaib said it pretty well here:

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The universe is so… full of light

This truly amazing video, which was made with images captured from the International Space Station, just made me realize how full of light our universe is.

Remember to turn on HD, and view it in full screen. Only in full screen… Maa shaa’ Allah!

Reminds me of the verse 24:35,

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things.

I strongly feel that the universe is speaking to me now. Subhaan Allah.

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Teaching Kids How to Tie Their Shoes

Soon, my child… You We will undergo this grueling test.

(From my favourite parenting website, howtobeadad.com)

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Pinkdot: A Muslim’s View

Pinkdot is an event which celebrates the freedom of LGBT, recently held in Singapore. I’m not sure what their objective is exactly, but as a moderate Muslim, I really disagree with the promotion of LGBT lifestyle.

The issue of LGBT itself is not new, but it seems that many Muslims forget the unanimous view among our spiritually-discerned ulama. Not one of the them said that homosexuality is halal. Not. A. Single. One.

Admittedly, the issue itself is complex. It is imperative that we focus our discussion not on men who may appear feminine and vice versa (there’s a specific hadith on that, by the way). Instead here, we are talking about people who engage in homosexual relationships.

What’s our position?

Homosexuality has been discussed for hundreds of years by the ulama. They concede that some people may develop certain tendencies towards people of the same sex. They even talked about the permissibility of praying behind someone with such tendencies, as Hamza Yusuf clarified:

But nowhere do they say that it is okay to act on those tendencies. In fact, as many others, including Tariq Ramadan (video below) have argued that these feelings represent the personal challenges for these Muslims. Just like someone who have tendencies to be violent, does it make it okay to act violently? Or someone who has the tendency to commit adultery or steal, does it make it okay for them to act on it? Definitely no. This self-improvement is among the focus on their jihad in this world, to gain the pleasure of Allah in the next.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we must excommunicate or totally ostracize the gay Muslims. Instead, we should take the steps to make them understand their religion even more, and create the necessary space for them, as Sherman Jackson argued:

My interpretation of the necessary space here is not one that encourages nor allow homosexual Muslims to engage in sinful acts, but a space for them to interact with true Muslims, those who love Allah and strive to make amends to improve themselves. We need the space so that we can identify and educate our fallen brothers and sisters, so they can get back on their feet .Because without such space, what we are doing it basically alienating them to one corner of society that envelopes them from outreach efforts.

With such a “space,” expert counselors can talk to gay Muslims and make them comprehend the hikmah of Allah’s law.  Spiritual guides can talk to their family and make them supportive of the correct Islamic teachings, instead of something which is heavily influenced by the we-can-do-anything-as-long-as-no-one-gets-hurt hedonism. Thinkers can help develop a plan at the strategic level so that our precious young ones fully follows deen from very early on.

The big(ger) problem

On a wider plane, I personally think that the “popularity” this gay lifestyle is a by-product of globalization, one with very modern-Western-centric influences.

One example is the TV. If we switch our TVs on, and our minds off, then we will unknowingly consume all that rubbish in our own living room. Take for example the drama Glee. Sure, they make for great entertainment, especially if you love singing and dancing. But the garbage that is deemed to be primetime TV is also a great waste of time. More critically, they bring about these unintended “values” that we Muslims are suddenly finding ourselves in its midst. The acceptance of homosexuality is definitely one of them.

Before we know it, our frame of mind is influenced by the premises set in such shows. Thus when we talk about rights, the modern Western definition of rights come up to our mind. Same goes for freedom. Freedom to wear what what the nafs (and billion-dollar fashion industry) wants. Freedom to watch what you want. Freedom to do as you please. Leaving nothing to be sacred.

Methinks, the proliferation of gay personalities on popular TV shows such as Glee, Ellen, How I met Your Mother, and many more TV shows is a contributing factor. At first Muslims might think, “Hey, these gays, they’re not bad people.” Of course they are not. We have nothing against the gays. What we oppose is their action.

But with increasing acceptance of such personalities, common everyday Muslims will find it hard to filter which is good and which is bad; which of their commendable characteristics should be praised (creative, hardworking), and which of their bad characteristics should be condemned. The line simply is blurred when they accept such people as a whole, instead of viewing an individual critically.

Now imagine a 12-year-old Muslim boy watching Glee, and suddenly remembers that he has a boy crush on his class monitor. In my time, those things are considered to be normal, and one grows out of it. In this time, he may very well think that he is “born different” and should “be true to himself” and “not succumb to the pressure of conservative family ideals.” In my time, boy crush means that you try and be best friends with that class monitor. In this time, boy crushes may be honed to be the the foundation of homosexuality.

Similarly, I believe our kids know Ryan Giggs, John Terry, Christiano Ronaldo very well. In addition to their football skills, news exposés also revealed their sexual misconduct (to put it mildly). So just as we tell them that these sportsmen train very hard to get to their peak, we should also be very clear to them that their merit is limited only to soccer, and not anything more. The lines drawn should be decisively clear.

Conclusion

As such, it hurts me to watch this scene (00:12 mark).

I don’t imagine handling such identity issues will be easy, but I pray that the family involved are taking steps in the right direction.

And my parting thoughts to my fellow Muslim brothers who see themselves as part of the homosexual community, please, be with the right company. Be with people who love Allah and His messenger PBUH. Those that pray five times a day, and realize that it trains the nafs. Those that fast often, and know that obedience comes before desire. For, when stepping on Allah’s land, and roofed with Allah’s sky, the least we can do is to make that effort live with Allah’s rules.

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” Al-Baqarah:286

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Hamza Yusuf’s tribute to Martin Lings

(Image source)

Martin Lings aka Abu Bakar Sirajuddin, the author of Muhammad: His Life Based on Earliest Sources, passed away some 7 years ago. Although the book is not free from criticisms, is arguably the best English-language biography on the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ out there today.

A good friend recently forwarded me an article, in which Hamza Yusuf pays tribute to Martin Lings.

Excerpt:

I remember purchasing a small metaphysical treatise by an author with a foreign name way back in 1976 as I was browsing the shelves in a small spiritual bookstore located amidst a beautiful garden in Ojai, California. The title was The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrine of Faith, Vision and Gnosis, and the author was Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din. At the time, I knew nothing of Islam, let alone who the author was, yet the title intrigued me. It was, in essence, what I was searching for – certainty. I read as much of the book as I could but recall not understanding very much. It quoted extensively from the Quran and offered highly esoteric commentaries in a language quite foreign to me. I set it aside, but my curiosity had been piqued that shortly thereafter, in a life-altering transaction, I purchased a Quran and began to read a very personal revelation that would compel me to convert to the religion of Islam.

After more than a decade abroad seeking sacred knowledge, I returned to the United States and was soon teaching courses on Islam. Not long after I was asked to teach a series of lectures based upon the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I agreed but needed a text in English for the students. I began looking for a sound biography of the Prophet that was written in an English style that did justice to the story. Surprisingly, for a man who the American historian Michael Hart ranked the single most influential human being who every lived, hardly anything serious biographical literature was available other than poorly written works published in far-off places or polemics and misrepresentations. I was somewhat despondent and then I discovered the finely produced Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources, by Dr Martin Lings. I knew who he was because I had been warned that I should be careful when reading his books. What I didn’t know at the time was that Dr. Martin Lings and Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din, the man whose book led me to the Quran, were one and the same person. Nevertheless, I decided to read the book and assess it for myself.

I was quickly immersed in a story told by a master storyteller whose English oft-times sang and always soared. The Prophet’s life was masterfully narrated through a series of short chapters in a prose as engaging and poetic as Lytton Strachey’s in Eminent Victorians, only the subject matter was not on an eminent Victorian but rather written by one who appeared to be. My father, a fine critic of English literature, remarked after reading it that unfortunately the prejudice Westerners have for the topic has prevented it from being recognised as one of the great biographies of the English language.

He also touched on the issue of orthodox and heterodox thoughts with regards to the Islamic tradition, in relation to some of Martin Lings’ controversial views. Worth the read.

Link to full article below, in PDF format.

Hamza Yusuf, “A Spiritual Giant in an Age of Dwarfed Terrestrial Aspirations,” Q-News, No. 363, June 2005/Jamad al-Ula 1426, 53-58.

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