Witness Pioneer | Magazine

Index

  Editorial

  Da’wah

  Importance of learning Arabic language for a da’yee

  e-Dawah and Cyber-pen-warfare: What are we promoting?

  Hijab As Dawah

  Methodology of Dawah

  Knowledge

  Iman

  Causes Of Extremism

  When I Whine

  9 Things you can do for Islam in the years to come

  Dawah among children

  A few things about me: a poem

  Glossary

Editorial

Da’wah: A calling that pervades all activities of our life
Md. Mahmudul Hasan

If we just have a look around the world, despite all collective failings of the Muslim Ummah and the consequent tribulations that visit them especially in the trouble zones oftentimes, the ubiquitous presence of the Islamic faith will appear self-evident. Whatever country or region we go, we will definitely find masjids as well as many people who devote their precious time in worshipping Allah (SWT) and serving His causes. And then imagine the early period of Islam when our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was blessed with prophethood to disseminate Allah’s Supreme Message to the humanity, and his body had a shivering experience because of the enormity of the task with which he was entrusted, and the potential stiff opposition that he would encounter. If you keep these two pictures (one of the colossal number of Muslims and the vastness of Muslim land of the present time, and the other of the small number of Prophet’s companions at the early stage of his preaching), you will certainly see a crescendo curve, at least as far as the numerical statistics is concerned. Finally I most humbly submit to you to ruminate how this massive task of spreading the teachings of Islam to every corner of the world has happened. If our dignified predecessors were in the habit of leading a lethargic life that we are living, I do not think Islam would cross beyond the confines of Makkah and Medina without absolute heavenly intervention.

We are just the beneficiaries of what our noble predecessors did. Sometimes we appear to be incompetent successors, as the global state of affairs of the Muslims amply indicates. We have failed to ensure a continual dissemination of the message of Islam; we have been unsuccessful to properly appreciate the intellectual heritage and to maintain the mental cultivation that our predecessors heralded so successfully. Instead of following their footsteps and carrying out the moral and intellectual obligations that they logically expected from us, we have searched for our comforts and happiness in cushions and easy-chairs. We have pursued the effortless way of stopping research and, in many cases, started blindly imitating them with pleas like: “enough is done”; “we can not beat or outdo them”; “our ancestors knew better than us”; and similar other apologies. During our intellectual slumber and mental stagnation, other peoples carried on their research and poked around the world in search of wealth. When our slumber is broken and we are up, we found ourselves miserably incompetent to cope with the pace of their worldly success. Our enemies now seem not to leave any stone unturned to make our life difficult; the more than one billion Muslim populations are just some passive spectators of a cinematic performance of human predators, and inactive (sometimes reactive but not proactive) viewers of the movie of the sufferings of their fellow-Muslims in different parts of the world.

The catalogue of our flaws and failings can only go on and on. I have no intention in this piece of writing to let the readers down by representing only the bleak aspect of the Ummah of the present time. Actually the situation now is not so dire as it was roughly 50 or 100 years back. Things have, by the grace of Allah, started getting better, which in reality prompted unsympathetic measures by many power structures and political machineries both in the Muslim World and in the West. Muslim lands are now not some intellectual barren lands and not without du’at, though many of them are not properly trained. Research and intellectual cultivation is burgeoning, though in many cases haphazard and lacking in direction. We have many youths who are very keen on the promotion of Islamic causes in personal, familial, social and political spheres. I have few submissions for these du’at:

* Da’wah should be considered a part and parcel of our everyday life. It is not like doing some office work that you do only when you are physically present at your office and your mind is set accordingly. Da’wah is a matter of constant consciousness. You can do da’wah work when you are visiting your friends and relatives, teaching your students, chatting with your colleagues, travelling with strangers (in coaches, trains, or aeroplanes), so on and so forth. It has to do mainly with a deep desire to show the light of truth to others. Da’wah is not just what Islam is, but what Islam looks like. In other words, it is not just what we say about Islam, but what a Muslim does and how s/he behaves when they accept the teachings of Islam in totality. We have to be on the look out for an opportunity to get people understand what Islam means and to persuade people to act upon it. Sometimes you can accomplish an effective da’wah work by just letting people know that you are a Muslim and by manifesting a just Islamic behaviour of decency, honesty and integrity. Sometimes, you can do da’wah even without uttering the word Islam. We have to remember that our task is not to convey the Message of Islam to every person and in every circumstance. On occasion, prudence may demand total silence and not to talk anything about Islam, as doing so may potentially cause disservice to Islam or provoke taunting remarks about it. Not being cautious in our da’wah work can disappoint us and make our message ridiculous. I can cite one small example of imprudent and coercive methodology of da’wah work. This happened in the university residential hall where I was staying during my student life at Dhaka University, Bangladesh. Once a devoted brother of a non-political Islamic mass movement first persuaded and then compelled a fellow-student to attend a regular nocturnal gathering in the Markaz in one Ramadan night. Let us say the first student is “N” and the other is “S”. “S” was not at all ready to stay up until late night nor was he a very good devotee like “N”. “S” agreed to go to the Markaz just because of the persistent pursuit of “N”, and as he felt shy to say no to “N”. As “S” was not in the habit of staying up or attending such nighttime gathering, it caused a disruption to his normal life so he could not fast the next day. “N” was passing by the cafeteria at lunchtime the next day, and to his utter surprise and disappointment he saw “S” just coming out of the cafeteria after having his lunch! Similar types of disappointment may occur if we do not follow the principles of caution when calling people to the teachings of Islam.

* In the verse 41:33 of the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) stipulates two important characteristics of a caller to His way. The first one is that a da’yee “does what is just and right”, and the second one is that s/he proclaims that they are “of those who have surrendered themselves to God”. The first characteristic of a da’yee as specified by Allah (SWT) tells us about the supreme importance of their being Islam incarnate, that is, being example before humanity in matters of doing good work. The second da’yee specification carries a sense of feeling proud of being a Muslim and a da’yee. I have come across in the West some Muslims who feel shy to perform their prayer at work. The dirty Islamophobic phenomenon may constitute one reason for this shyness; but I regard such shyness as cowardice. On many occasions, I perceived a deep respect among many Westerners for a person who is conscious about their religious and cultural identity. Conversely, a person who is always ready to dissociate and distance themselves from their root may earn some momentary meretricious applauses from the Westerners, but eventually s/he will be bound to fall into their sack of slavery and would sooner or later receive a corresponding treatment of disgrace accordingly. History stores scores of such examples, and reflecting upon the recent history for just a couple of minutes can bring some to a person of average sensibility. I for one can say that I feel honoured when I ask for a private space for performing my prayer at work. Once I was teaching at a school on temporary basis. On my first day at that school, I was praying Zuhr in my classroom when my students went out for their lunch and lunchtime play. The school authority noticed that and thought I needed more privacy for doing my prayer. For the rest of the days of my stay at that school, the Head Teacher used to vacate his office for me to pray.

* Allah (SWT) addresses the Prophet (SAWS) in the Qur’an, ‘Say: “Can they who know and they who do not know be deemed equal?” (39:9). One important lesson I deduce from this verse is that the impact of da’wah activities of a knowledgeable Muslim and that of an ignorant Muslim will never be equal. So a da’yee should always read, read, and read. I do not mean that without sufficient knowledge one should not undertake any da’wah work at all, as some apologists argue that they would start da’wah activities only when they have acquired a good grasp of deen. I remember once a supposed da’yee was telling me that he remained so busy with many Islamic activities that he could not find time to read. I just wonder what sort of services they do for Islam while they cannot make reading and searching for knowledge a prime priority. Da’wah work without an active fertile intellectual mind can potentially be just short of nuisance. Without constant reading our mental faculty cannot be fertile or innovative. So a da’yee is, by definition, an avid reader. Conversely, if a supposed Islamic scholar says that da’wah does not fall into the parameters of his sphere of activities and it should be done only by ordinary Muslims, then the appellation “Islamic scholar” would surely be a misnomer. Seeking knowledge and calling people to Islam should go simultaneously. What a da’yee should constantly bear in mind is that we are in an intellectual battlefield and facing some adversaries who are information possessors and media moguls. We should also appreciate the thirst especially among the Westerners to know about Islam and the dearth of quality Islamic literatures to meet their curiosity. To me, most of the books produced both in the Islamic World and in the West can appeal only a ghettoised Muslim readership. The way most of the books are written amply tells us about the meagre, insufficient knowledge of their writers about the western mind. Continuing our da’wah work with incompetent du’at and with poor quality books will in the long run take us nowhere. We HAVE to come back to our reading table and concentrate on our home work, only then our da’wah efforts would be most productive, and only then we can hope for a better world for Muslims and for the humanity, a world free from oppressions and injustices.

* My last submission is closely linked with the penultimate one. But this demands a very outstanding attention. We are quite vociferous about how good is Islam!, how unique is the Qur’an!, how glorious is the history of the Islamic civilization!, and how just were the Islamic rulers of the early Islamic period! But, what is the current state of affairs of the Muslim societies and what representation of Islam average Muslims are presenting? We very urgently need to draw a clear divide between what Islam is and is not. Before being called to the teachings of Islam, people need to know if they are being called to the distorted version of Islam that they see in many Muslim individuals and societies. We should clearly proclaim our disaffiliation with the religious exploitative machineries; otherwise the increase of some blind devotees would just trigger the economic profits of some clerics and pirs. Just have a look at the life style and activities of maximum Islamic clerics or imams. Most of them lead a monotonous life of semi-confinement in masjids, with no practical relationships whatsoever with the wider world; research and reading would be the last thing they would feel necessary to do. Ignorant Muslims invite and offer them sumptuous meal and give them money (for a reason unknown to me) after their making of a ritualistic supplication to God. Some imams and clerics earn money just by blowing a puff into a glass of water. These are some of the scores of practices that are foreign to the pristine teachings of Islam. We need to make clear, right at the beginning, that we do not endorse these bizarre practices and many other social mythologies incongruent with Islam. Some Islamic movements fear public reaction and maintain a tongue-tied attitude to such economic exploitation being conducted in the name of Islam. They seem to ignore the fact that this strategic silence is costing them many otherwise sensible and educated people who are now distancing themselves from Islam.

These are some of the most important areas we need to address to make our da’wah efforts a success, and the rest is in the hands of Allah (SWT). We hope the articles in this issue of Al-Baiyyinah would shed more light on many other aspects of da’wah.

Da’wah

Nazmun Nahar

What is Da’wah?

Dawah means to invite people to accept the truth of Islam and to act upon it. Performing dawah involves both our words and actions.

Importance of Da’wah in Islam

The following Qur’anic verses amply say about how important da’wah is:
And thus We have willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you might bear witness to the truth before all humankind, and that the Apostle might bear witness to it before you. . . . (2:143)
And that there might grow out of you a community [of people] who invite unto all that is good, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong: and it is they, they who shall attain to a happy state. (3:104)
You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] humanity: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah. . . . (3:110)
Call [all humankind] to your Sustainer’s path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner. . . . (16:125)
And who could be better of speech than the one who calls people to Allah, and does what is just and right, and says, “Verily, I am of those who have surrendered themselves to Allah”. (41:33-35)
By the flight of time! Verily, people are bound to lose themselves unless they be of those who attain to faith, and do good work, and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity. (Qur’an: 103)

The above verses prove that the work of da’wah is to be carried out not by the scholars or preachers only. It is a duty of all Muslims. It was the persistent da’wah by Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) that brought several youths, including his own cousin Ali (RA), into the fold of Islam in the early period of Islam. Youths played a noble role throughout Islamic history in terms of carrying the truth of Islam to various geographical frontiers. One such towering young da’yee was Muhammad bin Qasim, a 17-year-old youth, who brought Islam to the subcontinent of India.

Many ways of da’wah

Prophet (SAWS) sent letters to give da’wah to different Heads of States. He used to invite people for food and preached them Islam; he used to run up caravans that came from various cities of the Middle East and called them to Islam. And last but not least, his silent da’wah was through his unique personality, his honest and truthful nature.

Excuses that are given for not performing da’wah

“I am not knowledgeable enough”:
There is no limit how much knowledge one needs to start da’wah activities. Da’wah and learning goes side by side. We should start da’wah and also continue to learn.

“I don't have enough time”:
Time is not and cannot be an excuse. We know that where there is a will, there is a way. We balance our time to work on our course-work by any means (sometimes we take 15 to 21 credits), but why cannot we save time to read the Qur’an, Hadeeth and Islamic literatures? Is it justified that we do not find or cannot manage any time to know what our Creator has said in His Book? Is it not true that time is a gift from Allah (SWT) and we should be ready to spend it on His causes?

“Religion is a personal matter”:
Religion is not personal. For example, if you see a child at the edge of a cliff, are you not going to help the child out? Or, will you say, “I am not going to help as it is none of my business?” Similarly those who have not received the message of Allah yet, or are ignorant about it, are also at the brink of downfall and destruction. It is our responsibility to familiarise them with the noble teachings of Islam. Thinking that we should at first make ourselves and other Muslims better, and will work on non-Muslims afterwards, is not a valid argument. Because if almost all people around you are non-muslims, shouldn't you start da’wah among them? Or, do we need to go to a Muslim country first to give da’wah?

“I will do it when I become old (at least 40!)”:
No one knows how long s/he will live! Da’wah becomes a religious obligation when one attains adulthood, and that is much earlier than 40.

“I feel embarrassed”:
Once you have felt the burden of your responsibility as a Muslim and realized the importance of spreading Allah’s message, you will not feel embarrassed any more. It depends on the strength of Imaan.

Importance of learning Arabic language for a da’yee

Muhammad Alshareef

While attending a month long da’wah course when I was a teenager, one of our Islamic studies instructors, Dr. Mahmood Ghaazi, from Islamabad, Pakistan, told us about an official trip he had taken to the Vatican. His delegation met with a group of high-ranking priests. Dr. Ghazi asked one of them, “Do you have any words that you know for certain, 100%, that were spoken by Jesus Christ?” The priest felt a little ashamed, but he replied honestly that there were no words that could be traced authentically to Jesus — the language he spoke had been forever lost.

Then the priest picked up, “What about Muslims? Do you have any words that you know for certain, 100%, that were spoken by Muhammad?” Dr.Ghazi smiled (I am sure you are smiling too). He replied, “Not only do we have libraries of books of words, we know without doubt, spoken by our Prophet (SAWS), we have a science called tajweed. The science of tajweed teaches students how to pronounce every syllable and vowel exactly the way Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) did!” All praise is due to Allah, Who protected our deen in such a way.

Let us turn into ourselves. Have we done our part in protecting those words of Allah (SWT) and of His Messenger? Prophet (SAWS) said, “Spread from me even one single word”. How do we do that if we ourselves do not understand the ayaat that were revealed? How can we claim to know a text when we do not even understand the very language in which it was revealed? In order to fulfill the mission Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) left, it is imperative that we become literate in the language of Islam.

The task of informing peoples about the teachings of Islam is too urgent for us, in the present context, to waste an age of another generation. Literacy and education in our deen has to flood our communities in order for us to advance as a guiding nation.

The Qur'an is Allah's way of communicating with us, of directly guiding us to His path. Let us reflect if that communication has really occurred. Look at any college level “Communications” textbook, and it will tell you that the definition of "communication" is that a message is sent, and that message is received with the understanding that the sender intended. If I say something and you cannot hear me because my microphone is not working, or you become bored and are daydreaming, or you do not understand the language I am speaking, then true communication has not occurred. To quote one “Communications” textbook:

If my meaning was not conveyed, I question if communication has occurred. Language may be engaged in; words have transpired. But not an act of communication.
http://www.regent.edu/acad/schcom/phd/com707/def_com.html.

The same is true for the words of Allah and of His Messenger. Have the words of Allah really been communicated to us? Just reading some poor English translations of the Qur'an does not mean a reasonable understanding of it. There are some nuances in every language that simply cannot be translated.

If Prophet (SAWS) would speak to you directly today – and naturally he would speak to us in Arabic – would you understand his words? Or would you need a translator? You would want to capture every moment, understand every piece of his advice. But you might be standing there helplessly, unable to communicate with him or to understand his wisdom. People before us who did have that chance were changed by Prophet’s words. Shortly after the first Muslim migration to Habsha, Prophet (SAWS) recited Surah Najm at the Ka'bah. As he recited, everyone – believers and non-believers – listened in rapture to these Arabic verses. He came to the final verses:

Do ye then wonder at this recital?
And will ye laugh and not weep
Wasting your time in vanities?
But fall ye down in prostration to Allah, and adore (Him)!

At that moment, Prophet (SAWS) fell to the ground in prostration to Allah. The Muslims followed him, all of them falling in sajdah to Allah. Now, I want you to picture what happened next ........ Every disbeliever in the gathering, every one of them, also fell in sajdah to Allah! They were so moved by the beauty and complexity of the Qur'an, that they could not deny the message contained within. Allah says, “Behold, We have bestowed it from on high as a discourse in the Arabic tongue, so that you might encompass it with your reason.” (12:2)

Here is just one example of the impossibility of truly translating the Qur'an. Allah says of the Day of Judgment, “At length when there comes the deafening noise...” (80:33). The Arabic word for the phrase deafening noise is Saakhah – the blowing of the trumpet – that will announce the resurrection and humanity's repayment for its deeds on earth. It will be an unbelievably overwhelming moment.

Looking at the word Saakhah, you would assume that it is pronounced in two syllables, or beats. But in Arabic, the word Saakhah is recited in a 6-count prolongation. Listen to it being recited. It is as if the recitation of the word itself is like a trumpet being blown. In English, we can not prolong the words “deafening noise,” so we do not get the full strength of meaning that Allah (SWT) intended for us. Only someone who understands the language can pick up the power of each word Allah has so carefully and profoundly chosen to give us. Here is another example. If you, as an English speaker, overheard a master telling his servant, “Get me water,” you would understand that the master wants the water right away, not two hours later. But it does not say that anywhere. It is implicit. It is part of the nuance of the language. Whoever loves Allah must, by virtue of that true love, love the Prophet. And whoever loves Allah and His Prophet should, by virtue of that true love, love the Arabic language chosen by Allah to send His final revelation.

It is the language spoken by the greatest book; it is the language spoken by the greatest of human beings. It is the entry way to the understanding of Islamic sciences. Someone who never learns Arabic, can never fully understand the Qur'an and Sunnah.
What does learning Arabic do for us? One: It moulds our character as Ibn Taymiyyah says, “Using a language has a profound effect on one's thinking, behavior and religious commitment. It also affects one's resemblance to the early generations of this Ummah, the Companions and the Taabi'een. Trying to emulate them refines one's thinking, religious commitment and behavior.” Two: It is our bridge to the culture of Islam. Undoubtedly, with the teaching of language comes the teaching of ways to think and behave, through understanding of the culture that speaks that language.

As a summer job one year, I taught English in a Muslim country and ashamedly had to skip the numerous pages that spoke of alcohol, dating, and lewdness. This is the culture of the English language. Imagine the blessed culture and knowledge awaiting those who would learn Arabic. At the University of Madinah, I had the chance to go to school with Muslims from the UK, US and Australia. At the end of those years, as students amongst ourselves, we would discuss what we were going to do when we went home to Europe and America. Some of the students stayed behind, accepting jobs of teaching English just so they could stay in Madinah. A graduating brother beautifully rejected this when he said, "Why would I teach Muslim Arab children English, when I have the chance to go to Europe and teach Muslim European children Arabic?" One of the main Arabic teachers at AlHuda School in Maryland (www.alhuda.org) started his career teaching English to Muslims in Arab countries. He saw how serviced the English language was and how much money was being spent to teach and study it. He thought to himself that Arabic, the language chosen by Allah, is more worthy of such wealth, effort and time. He changed his career path and in his graduate studies took on the task of teaching Arabic to native English speakers. As immigrants or children of immigrants, most of us speak two languages. We convinced ourselves, we must learn English so we can get ahead in this world. Now, we must remind ourselves, we must learn Arabic, so we can get ahead in the next world. [This can put in a different way: we learn Islam and get a good sense of its culture through Arabic, and we disseminate it through English. Editor]

Let no Muslim think that Arabic is a particular regional tongue. It is the language of our deen. Calling people to this language is not a nationalistic call, it is a call to Muslims to raise their head and say, My faith has a language, it's called Arabic!; it is a call to come to grips with the root of the Islamic teachings.

Lest you should think I am sending you on this challenge without any tools, please be aware that there are plenty of classes available in the West for those who wish to learn the Qur'anic Arabic. The AlMaghrib Institute's intermediate Arabic class is an opportunity for those with some knowledge of Arabic to better understand the Qur'an. It is also for teachers of Arabic who want to learn creative linguistic exercises and teaching techniques. This class will help you understand over 350 Qur'anic words, read 300 Qur'anic ayats, learn 50 simple hadeeths, compose simple sentences and short paragraphs in Arabic, and learn the plurals and opposites of more than 400 words. For more information about our AlMaghrib Arabic seminar, visit www.AlMaghrib.org

Acknowledgement: Khutbah.com

e-Dawah and Cyber-pen-warfare: What are we promoting?

Farid Ahmed
Whether we like it or not, lot of our time are e-lapsed on Internet these days. No, I do not mean it to be a lapse. But it may, if we are not careful. It is certainly a blessing from Allah (SWT) that we are able to communicate in cyberspace which is so easy, so fast, and so efficient. And like any other blessing, it is therefore a test/trial as well. Because of its exponential nature of spread, one prudent use of a keystroke may buy us eternal peace. On the same token, its inadvertent use may show up as an unfortunate differentiator on the Day of Judgment.
Alhamdulillah, many of us are using this blessing in a positive, prudent way; in response to misinformed criticism of Islam, they provide good chunks of information, healthy arguments, objective deliberation, and proactive web dissemination. [May Allah (SWT) increase their beneficial knowledge and let us all be benefited from their knowledge!] In spite of that, sometimes unwillingly, we do e-lapse and get trapped in mere arguments over positions, personal vendetta, subjective criticism, and reactive comments. More dangerously, some of us sometimes forget our “role” and make motion with severe emotion without appropriate knowledge and etiquette.
So, what is that “role”? That is simply da’wah. We all are individually responsible to call to our Creator’s way passionately and incessantly, with wisdom and best preaching as mentioned in the verse 125 of surah Nahl of the Qur’an: “Invite to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur'ân) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better.” This is the premise of this write-up. In light of a lecture titled ‘Guiding to Allah- By the Book’ [1], I would like to explore how best we can enjoy our cyber-ride with an objective of da’wah only.
In this first part of a multi-part writing, let us analyze the “what” part of e-da’wah: what are we giving da’wah to, what are we going to promote? Whether we write an article, or respond to someone’s question, or are engaged in an e-debate, this is the bottom-line question we need to be aware of all the time. Fortunately, the answer to this question is also mentioned in the same verse, that is 16:125 – we are calling towards Allah.
We are to talk about the issues Allah (SWT) instructed us to, through the prophets over and over again. For example, i) Tawheed - the oneness of Allah, ii) Preparation for the eternal life, iii) Betterment of the humankind, iv) prudent and sensible use of this earth and its resources. These are a few of the core issues we need to remember during our cyber-pen-warfare. I like to emphasize here the CORE issues as opposed to the peripheral issues that sometimes willingly or unwillingly we are driven into. Most of the time, Islam-opposing groups deliberately make a cloud of pesky tabloid issues. While some of those may deserve attention, we really need to come out of that cloud by turning on the lights of more important core issues. And once that is done, the cloud is over and the peripheral issues are also understood clearly. Therefore, our focus shall be on the brand products of Islam, not on the peripheral/tabloid issues.
Let me be more specific. Opponents of Islam love to attack with anything they have in possession. They oppose because they see some anomaly (according to their perceptions) in certain aspects of Islamic way of life. We need to understand that, most often, most of the erroneous perceptions are due to the lack of understanding of the core issues of Islam. Therefore, we need to be focused on those issues. (On a side note, as an engineering student, I can see it as a problem of signal to noise. There is too much noise in Islam opponents’ discussion covering a whole spectrum of uncorrelated issues. We need to enhance the signal component by shedding the light frequency of issues of specific core topics and by averaging out those pesky noise components.)
A vast majority of those who oppose Islamic rulings and raise questions about peripheral issues do so because of their sincere ignorance (as opposed to arrogant ignorance). Focusing on the core issues has great positive impacts on these truth-seeking minds. Here is an example of April Szuchyt, a convert to Islam, who puts the matter in the following words, “…In the beginning, my reactions were typical of any liberated, educated Western woman with no knowledge of Islam. I accused Islam of being oppressive to women and obsessed with rules. I did not realize that I was missing the ‘big picture’ that God is bigger than all other details.” [2]
We need to delineate that BIG picture of core issues. The core of these cores in Islam is Tawheed – the oneness of Allah (SWT) [3, 4], because
a) The concept of Tawheed points to the objective of creation of the humankind and the jinns. (Qur’an 51:56)
b) This is related to the covenant the humanity as a whole made with Allah. Humankind testified and accepted the rubuyiat of Allah (SWT) as mentioned in the verse 7:172 of the Qur’an.
c) The primary mission of the prophets was to propagate the concept of Tawheed.
d) All other components of iman emanates from the concept of Tawheed.
e) There is a misconception among us that people already know this basic part of iman. But in reality, we know little about the implications of Tawheed in our life. More sadly, we do not know that we understand little about this important aspect of Islam.
Now, a big picture of core issues come from the identity or uniqueness of Islam compared to other man-made isms or other distorted versions of the preaching of other prophets. In light of the four core issues mentioned above, here is a partial list of uniqueness [1] that we need to drive home in our writing:
a) Islam is the most widely followed purely monotheistic religion in the world. It is based on the oneness of the Creator, Sustainer, and Manager of the universe.
b) Since it came from the Creator, it is flawless.
c) Islam has universal appeal. It addresses the entire humankind, and it is for the entire humankind irrespective of caste, color, or creed. There is no concept of chosen creed in Islam. Islam is unique in talking about universal issues. Islam is the only religion which testifies the truth of the teachings of all the prophets from the beginning. It is the only one that links all the prophets in one thread.
d) Islamic laws are in conformity with human beings’ nature and as such it has the most reasonable, explainable and just set of rules. The set of ‘Belief’ in Islam are not merely belief; they are called iman which is much beyond the realm of blind faith [3]. All of the branches of iman are supported by explainable evidences, clues, and similitude.
e) Islam is unique in its evolution. Here the manuals/guidance of the Creator shapes the community as opposed to other man-made isms where the community is a trial-and-error product of culture, norms, and customs.
f) Islam is unique in its blessed style of conveyance where the spiritual and the legal commandments are intermingled. Islam appeals to the heart of an individual; it is unique in this sacredness of its impact. It is also unique in its balanced combination of fear and hope.
g) Islam is unique because it is the most comprehensive and complete code of life that encompasses every bit and piece of human life.
The next question then is how can we focus on the core issues?
Allah knows best and we all have to go back to Him.
References
Guiding to Allah – By the Book, Lecture notes of Muhammad Al Shareef, Al Maghrib Insitute; URL: www.almaghrib.org
Silent No More; Confronting America’s False Images of Islam, by Paul Findley, USA: Amana Publications, July 2002.
Al Tawhid:Its Implications for Thought and Life, Dr. Ismail Raji al Faruqi, Virginia, USA: International Institute of Islamic Thought.
The Fundamentals of Tawheed- Islamic Monotheism, Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Al Hidaya Publishing.

Hijab As Dawah

Dr. Aisha Hamdan

Most Muslims are familiar with the various reasons why Allah has required women to wear the hijab: The hijab reflects modesty, purity and respect; it lessens temptation so that more serious sins will be avoided; it protects women from the harm and molestation of evil men; a woman who wears the hijab will be evaluated for her intelligence and skills rather than for her appearance.

One important aspect that is often overlooked, however, is that the hijab is a symbol of Muslim identity. A woman who covers her head is making a statement that she is a member of the Muslim community and that she follows a particular code of moral conduct. Allah says:

O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them. That is more suitable that they will be known (as Muslims and chaste believing women) and not be abused. (Qur'an: 33:59)

“...that they will be known...”: In America, where Islam is the fastest growing religion (alhumdullilah!), many people are coming to know what this head covering really signifies and to understand the religion that mandates it. The hijab, in effect, is an amazingly powerful tool for da’wah. Muslims themselves are probably not even aware of this telling impact of the hijab. As with any tool, the key for effectiveness is appropriate and knowledgeable use. The most obvious first step would be for Muslim women to actually wear the hijab. It is a tragic and upsetting phenomenon to see so many Muslims dressing in the manner of the disbelievers (blue jeans, T-shirts, short skirts, even shorts).

The Prophet (SAWS) said; “Whoever resembles a people is one of them” (Abu Dawood). This is not only happening in America and other Western countries as people attempt to assimilate and adopt the practices of the prevailing culture, but it is also occurring in Muslim countries at an alarming rate. A woman who refuses to wear the hijab is disobeying Allah and committing a serious sin, putting worldly pleasures before spiritual attainment, and neglecting her duty to the religion of Islam.

Many scholars agree that the only reason a Muslim may live in a non-Muslim country is to conduct da’wah and bring people to the fold of the true religion. How can a woman perform da’wah for Islam when she is not even practicing it herself? To do this would be a form of hypocrisy and it will not be successful. Once a woman begins to wear the hijab she completes a large portion of her responsibility for da’wah with very little effort. Each time she goes to the grocery store, the library, to work, to school, or to any other public place, she is spreading the magnificent message of Islam. This is not only because of the outer hijab that she wears, but more importantly, the modesty of her behavior that accompanies it.

When a woman refrains from flirting with men, limits physical contact, and is reserved and respectful, people may become curious and want to learn more about this intriguing faith. It may just sow the seeds of something wonderful. At the University where I teach (which happens to be a private, Catholic school), women are often interested in my manner of dress and demeanour. Each semester I have at least one student who requests my involvement in a project for another class, usually comparative religions. They are surprised when they learn the rationale for this injunction and the fact that it was part of their religious heritage as well. If I chose not to wear the hijab, I would miss these wonderful opportunities to share the beauty, peace and universality of my faith. When there is the possibility for further discussion with those who are interested, knowledge and understanding of the topic is an imperative. A very effective technique is to relate the concept to something that is familiar to the other person. Some examples of questions that could be posed include:

“Did you ever wonder why Mary, the mother Jesus (AS) wore clothing very similar to that of Muslims?”

“Why do Catholic nuns dress the way they do?”

“Did you know that in the Canon laws of the Catholic Church today there is a law that requires women to cover their heads in church?”

“Have you read in the Corinthians (Bible, 11:3-10) the verses that Paul wrote:
‘Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her Head’ – it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman doesn't cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head.”

“Did you know that there are some Christian denominations, namely the Amish and the Mennonites, who still require women to wear the head covering?”

“Were you aware that it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering and that some denominations still practice this today?”

These discussion points demonstrate the obvious fact that the head cover was not just introduced by Islam, rather this requirement has been in place for thousands of years.

This can also be a cogent segue to more crucial topics such as the fact that Moses, (AS), Jesus (AS) and Muhammad (SAWS) were all prophets of the same God and that they each carried the same basic message of surrendering to Allah SWT. Islam corrected the errors that had encroached into previous revelations and completed the process that was planned by Allah. We should be proud to be Muslims. We should also be grateful for the gift that Allah has given to each one of us: The perfect truth of Islam that is our key to paradise. All others are being deluded by Satan. With our gift comes the responsibility to share the truth with those who are less fortunate. We are all responsible to carry the light of Islam. The hijab is an outward manifestation of this light that burns within, and it can be an effective tool for the fulfilment of our obligations. We choose whether to develop this light into a bright, radiant star or let it be extinguished by foolish and selfish desires.

May Allah guide each of us to the true path, Aameen!

Courtesy:
Al-Jumuah Magazine,
Volume 10, Issue 5, Jumaada-A- Ulaa, 1419h

Methodology of Dawah

Shahidul Islam Pramanik

Ibn 'Abbaas (RA) narrates that while sending Mu'aadth to Yemen, the Messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said:

Verily you are going to a people from the People of the Book. So let the first of what you call them to be the testimony that there is no true deity worthy of worship except Allah. If they obey you in that, then inform them that Allah has obligated upon them five-time prayers every day and night. If they obey you in that, then inform them that Allah has obligated upon them charity to be taken from their rich, and given to their poor. If they obey you in that, then beware of the luxuries of their money, and fear the supplication of the oppressed, for verily there is no veil [between the oppressed and Allah]. (Bukhari, Muslim, Nisai, Ibn Majah)

Shaykh Rabee' Ibn Haadee al-Madkhalee says: This hadeeth explains the necessary
steps which the caller to Allah is obligated to proceed upon. So the first
thing - which he is obligated to begin with is the call to Tawheed, and to
single out Allah in His Oneness with worship, and to keep away from associating
partners with Allah in a lesser or larger sense (Mudhkiratunal Hadeeth An-Nabawee, p.9)

Fundamentals of Da`wah:

“Say: ‘This is my way: I invite to Allah on/with clear knowledge – I and
whomever follows me (does this). Glorified is Allah, and I am not of the
polytheists’” (Qur’an:12:108). This is one of the ayaat from which our righteous predecessors extract Usool ad-Da`wah or rules/principles/basics of Da'wah. The Arabic word “Qul” (“Say”) in the verse indicates that we are instructed to inform people about what follows after the command of “say”. This aayah, together with many others, is being addressed to the Muslims in general and to the Prophet (SAWS) in particular as to how we are to give Da`wah. It carries important commands for us to implement. We should learn, understand, and apply them.

“Haadhihi Sabeelee” (“This is my way”): The word Sabeel is synonymous with the
words Tareeq, Minhaaj, and Sunnah. The instruction that follows is regarding the Sunnah of da`wah, which is very important to adhered to.

Allah tells us to invite people to Tawheed. We are not commanded to summon people to any individual, organization, any sectarian masjid, or schism. We are only commanded to call the people to the meaning of Laa ilaaha illaallaah [there is no god but Allah].

Alaa Baseerah (“with clear knowledge”): This part of the aayah tells us about the “how” part of the method, that is, how to invite people to the statement of Tawheed. The word Baseerah is not simple one to translate into English, however, for right now we will use the word “knowledge”. This is HOW we invite the people toTawheed: with proofs/evidences from the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah.

Evidence can be produced by two basic ways:

Naqlee (transmitted evidence): the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah, and the statements, understanding, and practical application of the Shahaadah.

Aqlee (rational evidence): views based on scholarly understanding of the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah related to the issue at hand.

We must note that we always seek an answer from the transmitted texts, and only go to rational points that are based on the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah when we are unable to find an answer within the transmitted texts.

In light of the verse in discussion, one must be knowledgeable about what s/he is inviting the people to. This is a very important condition of Baseerah because one needs to know what s/he is talking about. The Prophet (SAWS) states that the seeking of knowledge is mandatory upon every Muslim (al-Bayhaqee). Allah says:

Everyone must know that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. (47:19)

Invite to Allah with clear knowledge. (12:108)

The second condition of Baseerah is that the da`yee (caller) should be familiar with whom he is giving da`wah to. This is important because having this knowledge is very beneficial in convincing the invitee(s) to accept Islamic teachings because the da`yee needs to know how to approach his audience. When the Prophet (SAWS) commissioned Mu`aadh to be the Governor of Yemen, he briefed him that he was assigning him to an area that was Jew and Christian dominated. This information would be useful for Mu`aadh. He would expect to meet people who had some knowledge of the previously-revealed divine scriptures. Obviously the approach we pursue with a Confucianist would not necessarily be the same approach we use for a Sabean or for a Christian.

This hadeeth concerning Mu`aadh is also a proof for the first condition of Baseerah because the rest of the hadeeth informs us that the Prophet told Mu`aadh to instruct the people in the basics of Islam. In order for Mu`aadh to do this, he himself would first have to have knowledge. Let us take special note that the first thing that the Prophet ordered him to do was: invite the people to Laa ilaaha illaallaah [there is no god but Allah].

The third condition of Baseerah is to be respectful, polite, humble, but not compromising in any Islamic principles. Allah instructed Musa (Moses) and Haaroon (Aaron):

Both of you go to Fir`awn (Pharaoh) for without a doubt he has transgressed, and speak to him with kind and gentle words. (20:43-44)

Allah said to our Prophet (SAWS):

If you had been severe and harsh-hearted they (the believers) would have run away from you. (3: 159)

Furthermore, we should not insult things that the disbelievers worship besides Allah. To ridicule and blaspheme the gods that people worship besides Allah is in opposition to Allah's command – “Do not revile those whom they pray to besides Allah because they will wrongfully revile Allah [in return]” (6:108).

Anaa wa Manittaba`anee (I and whomever follows me [does this]): The Prophet (SAWS) and whomever follows him obey the orders that were given by Allah. The Arabic word “man” is a particle that carries a general meaning. It is not restricted to any place or time. Whether one is a companion of the Prophet , or is born of
Slavic descent, or lives in 17th century Salem, or emerges from the pre-historic Flintstone age, or plays golf on the moon, the whomever, wherever, and
whenever does not make any difference – as long as s/he is following the Prophet and abiding by the dictates of Allah: “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah” (4:80).

The da`wah of Islam has three aspects: Tawheed (monotheism), Ittibaa` ar-Rasool (following the Messenger: Sunnah), and Tazkeeyah (purification of the heart: the result of believing in Tawheed and following the Sunnah).

Wa Subhaanallaah (and glorified is Allah): This dhikr is usually translated into English as “glorified is Allah”, but the denotative meaning of this phrase is “Allah is far above and removed from any indignities, deficiencies, limitations, and lies”. He is far above having any partners, peers, equals, companions, mate, or offspring.

Wa Maa Anaa Minal-Mushrikeen (“and I am not of the polytheists”): This means that the Prophet and all those who follow him are not of the deen of the disbelievers.

Usool ad-Da'wah: The foundation or rudiments of inviting people to Allah (that there is none worthy of worship except Him) is given to us in this aayah and in many other aayaat.

Knowledge

Ruby Zigrino

With the very first revelation in the Qur’an, Allah commands humankind to read:

Read in the name of your Sustainer, Who has created – created human being out of a germ-cell! Read – for your Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One Who has taught the use of the pen – taught human being what they did not know! (96: 1-5)

What is this “reading”, and “use of the pen”? This cannot be simple reading and writing in the ordinary sense. Because if this Message is for humankind as declared in many places, most of humankind at that time, including the Prophet (SAWS) himself, did not know how to read or write. It must be much broader in scope and deeper in meaning: On the grand scale of human wisdom and understanding, the “reading” implied here may be the reading of the reality, deciphering Allah’s truth (huq) and sign-messages (ayats) inscribed in the universe. This is knowledge. And this knowledge helps one not only to know the truth in the divine revelations, but also what is inscribed in the pattern of the reality: the life, the nature, the seen and the unseen Universe. The “the use of the pen” may mean the retrieving and preserving this information and communicating it to others.

There are two kinds of knowledge: the one mentioned above is the inherent knowledge, or wisdom, the capacity implanted in our nature at the time the Creator created us (Qur’an 30: 30). Every human being possesses this inherent capacity; it is like the unseen umbilical cord between the humans and the Supreme Being. Purer it remains in its nature, higher is its capacity to know and understand through Allah’s guidance.

Knowledge, in the ordinary sense, is the acquisition and accumulation of information. Wisdom is the frame of mind in which the information is placed, sorted, looked at, and understood. Information is like a tree, but not the forest, merely dots in a pattern but not the whole pattern. Wisdom provides the ability to see the forest, to know the pattern, and to comprehend the truth; it helps one to see things in proper perspective. Therefore, wisdom can be acquired through compliance with our true nature, and knowledge can be pursued by acquiring information.

Knowledge coupled with faith enhances appreciation of Allah’s reality, leading to higher levels of righteousness. For example, in the Qur’an, the sky is compared with a “canopy”, the function of which is to protect and to provide shelter. To an uninformed person the sky appears like a canopy and s/he appreciates that way. But to an informed person, that canopy consists of the ozone layer and the magnetic field to save life from harmful rays and discharged particles from the sun. The level of understanding and appreciation of Allah’s mercy among these two groups cannot be the same.

Wisdom leads to righteousness, and righteousness helps to achieve wisdom, building on each other to reach a higher and higher level of existence before Allah. Therefore, the purpose of the acquired knowledge is wisdom. In the story of the human creation, the Qur’an places a god-like status to a human because of this faculty of knowledge that Allah has implanted: “And He imparted unto Adam all the names [ism ]” (2: 31)

What are these “names”? These are the names of elements and components of the reality. To name and classify these elements, bits of reality, human beings have to have knowledge. In the physical world, every thing bears a name: names of forces, energies, elements, particles, names of their behavior patterns, names of their interaction patterns; and then there are the names of different behavior patterns and interaction patterns of individuals and/or communities: social, political, and spiritual. In any discipline of knowledge the humans have ascribed names to the contents and components of reality, to describe and to identify its manifested nature; names of classifications and sub-classifications of group of things and living beings on the basis of similarities and dissimilarities. All these require knowledge of things “named”. So the word “names” mentioned in the verse above is pervasive and all inclusive. The Arabic word ism used here also implies “the knowledge [of a thing]”.

Before Allah, responsibility equates any endowment and empowerment. Allah knows this ability and this empowerment He has granted to humans. So He also placed the highest responsibility of representing Him on human beings. How? What is this responsibility? To take care of God’s creation similar to the way He Does: with truth and justice, with care and compassion, with restrain and balance, and with patience and wisdom. He gave the burden of “choice” on humans and gave huge range to choose from, good and bad.

Is human being capable enough to do this enormous job of representing Allah on earth? Off course: Allah has empowered this creation “human” with “names”, with knowledge (wisdom) to discern right from wrong, truth form false, and cause from consequence in the making of the right choices. The burden of being the Vicegerent of Allah now rests squarely on the shoulder of humankind.

The Qur’an is full of exhortations to learn: “so that you may become wise”, “that you may think”, “that you may know”, so on and so forth. That is the purpose of the Qur’an and all other divine revelations of the past: to guide, to inform, and to warn. As understanding increases, appreciation deepens, leading to higher and higher spirituality to transform one to a true success. This progressive journey leads a soul where it should be; and it ends with a successful return or reunion to the Ultimate Reality. Knowledge that transforms into wisdom through faith helps one to achieve that state. The whole life and living can be the worship of God if done with knowledge and wisdom. Allah states in the Qur’an, “I have not created the invisible beings and humankind to any end other than that they may [know and] serve Me” (51: 56).

That is why Prophet Mohammad (SAWS) said: “An hour's reflection is better than a year's worship.” Being puzzled, the followers asked the Prophet (SAWS), “Even better than reading the Qur’an?” He replied, “Can the Qur’an be useful without knowledge? God did not distribute to His servants anything more to be esteemed than intelligence...” His sayings also include: “Striving after knowledge is a sacred duty (faridah) imposed on every Muslim, male and female” : “If anybody goes on his way in search of knowledge, Allah will make easy for them the way to Paradise” (Bukhari, Volume I, chapter III).

All these sayings indicate that a believer must strive for knowledge all their life.
The Quran commands its believers to pray for knowledge: “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge!” (20: 114)

Iman

Yousuf M Islam

Definition of Correct Form of Belief
Imagine that there is a large boat in the middle of the sea. On this boat there are people of different beliefs and faiths: one person believes in the Creator, and there is another person who says that he does not believe in God. They are visited by a terrible storm, as if the boat is about to capsize. Faced with this situation, what would each person on the boat do?

Significantly, what would the atheist do? Would not he at least say, “Creator, if you exist, please save me”? The remaining people on the boat would also realize that it is the Creator alone who can get them out of this trouble and drive them to a safe ground. Regardless of religion, each person would approach the Creator directly, without any intermediaries. This implies that each person, regardless of their religious beliefs, inherently acknowledges the Power of the Creator.

When the Creator puts the boat on the shore, it is what each person says from their free-will that defines “Iman” or correct belief. Ironically enough, some will say it was sheer luck that saved them; others will claim that it was their lucky charm (stones, pendants, etc.); others will credit their intellect; still others will give credits to intermediaries like prophets, ancestors, religious leaders, “pirs”, idols, etc. The person who thanks the Creator directly for bringing them to safety is the only true believer! The storm was only a test given by the Creator to separate those who have correct belief from those who do not.

Allah, our Creator, succinctly clarifies this in the Qur’an in the following verse:

And when harm touches you upon the sea, those (others) that you call upon vanish from you except Him (Allah alone). But when He brings you safely to land, you turn away (from Him)…… (17: 67)

Allah (SWT) uses the sea as the location as at sea we clearly realize our limitations and dependency on His mercy. Such dependency extends to the land where we normally stay. The following hypothetical situations would demonstrate how we normally respond to our Creator.

Before exams, students sincerely pray to Allah, begging for His help. They believe that without His help, they would not be able to achieve desired results – no matter how good their teachers are, or how perfect their preparations are. Once the results are published, parents credit the achievements to their children. Children, in turn, credit their teachers or tutors. People forget to thank Allah, Whom they approached before exams.

Sometimes people begin their day by praying Fajr in the morning, or seek Allah’s help by pronouncing bismillah at the beginning of work. But pressures of work keep some people from praying other prayers like Zohr, Asr and Magrib. Getting work done is deemed more important than remembering Allah in prayers. People forget that they are meant to offer prayers to the same Being Whom they approach for help. If forgetfulness about duties to Allah is the fact, then the very claim of belief is questioned. Allah says:

Do you then feel secure that He will not cause a side of the land to swallow you up or that He will not send against you a violent sandstorm? (In such a case) you will find no wakil (helper) [except Allah]. Or do you feel secure that He will not send you back a second time to the sea and send against you a hurricane of wind and drown you because of your disbelief? Then you will not find any avenger therein against Us. (17:69-69)

Allah reminds us of the honour He has given each of us. He has given us a beautiful personality and made us unique – this means each of us is important to Him. In the following verse, He reminds us of this particular favour:

And indeed We have honoured the children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with At-Tayebat (good and lawful things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preferment. (17:70)

Allah tells ss who He is:

Your Lord is He who drives the ship for you through the sea, in order that you may seek of His Bounty. Truly, He is ever Most Merciful towards you. (17: 66)
Forgiveness
It is only if we have correct belief, i.e. iman, that Allah will consider the forgiveness of our sins. He will forgive our mountain of sins only if we demonstrate belief in Him and Him ALONE. We sin against commandments given by Allah. As such, it is only He that we need to approach. We therefore need to ask forgiveness from Him directly. Consider the case where we ask forgiveness from saints, ministers, religious leaders or pirs – on the Day of Judgment, there is nothing to stop Allah from saying, Why come to Me; go to your pir saheb, see if he can forgive you! These are the people whom we ask forgiveness or give credit to for events in our lives, and whom Allah calls His supposed partners in the Qur’an. It is to warn against these partners that Allah has sent His prophets throughout the ages.

Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners with Him, but He forgives whom He wills, sins other than that, and whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. (4:116)
Partners
The first supposed partner of Allah is our ego. If we feel that there are better ways to be grateful or worship than the ways Allah and His Prophet have shown us, we worship our egos. If we feel our daily work is more important, as it provides us with the livelihood, than our salat (prayers), we put our material greed before Allah.

Knowledge
The inexcusable fact is that we have not bothered to find out what guidance Allah has provided in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is Allah’s guidance to each of us individually as well as collectively. If a friend wrote us a letter in a language that we did not understand, would we put the letter on the top a shelf or a cabinet and forget about it? Would we assume that we already know the contents? It is very important that we find out what Allah has said in the Qur’an regarding our lives in both the worlds. Allah has said that there is nothing that He has left out of the Qur’an. It is the primary source of all knowledge for us. It is only when we learn to apply this knowledge that we can understand the meaning of our existence in this world.
Reading the Qur’an
Translations of the meaning of the Qur’an into the major languages of the world are available. We have to get hold of a copy in our preferred language and establish regular reading of the meaning of the Qur’an at least at two levels:

Ø We should read at home to all family members and

Ø We should support and fund a program to learn the meaning of the Qur’an at institutional level.

To find the meaning of the Qur’an, one needs to be armed with a sincerity to find out what Allah has said in it. We have to seek Allah’s help and guidance when reading the Qur’an. One good time to regularly read the Qur’an is when the entire family members get together for the evening meal. The head of the family should sequentially read a section (about two pages) of the Qur’an each day with its meaning to the rest of the family. The head should encourage questions and all should attempt to apply what has been read to their day-to-day life.

At the same time, we should get in touch with local educational institutions. We should ask authority to start a class on the meaning of the Qur’an. We should fund, support and follow-up the implementation of this class.

May Allah give us the motivation to find the meaning of the Qur’an, guide us to implement what He has given by following the example of His Prophet (SAWS)!

Causes Of Extremism

Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Summary: Atiq Ahad

Occupation with Side Issues:
Intellectual shallowness and lack of religious insight result in an intense interest in
marginal issues like giving excessive importance to the growing of beard, the wearing of cloths below the ankle, so on and so forth. What is more dangerous is attempting to impose these on others. Sometimes what is fard (obligatory) is superseded by what is recommended, and this is against the spirit of Islam.

Excessive Extension of Prohibitions:
An extremist, due to lack of knowledge, may be seen to force others to drink while sitting. Since the hadeeth, which permits drinking water while standing, are more authentic as cited by Bukhari. It is mainly due to lack of thorough knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence and of Shariah.

Emphasis on Allegorical Texts:
Ignoring the Qur’anic verses which are straightforward and clear and giving more stress on the allegorical ones is another cause of extremism. (ref. Qur’an, 3:7)

Lack of Respect for Specialization:
One of the causes of extremism is a reluctance to listen to people who hold different views. Extremists have little interest in dialogues, as they never imagine that their views could be tested in the light of others, and be either contradicted or refuted. They may have received SEMI-knowledge. These devout young people ignore the fact that if they want to study Shariah, they must SEEK help of reliable Muslim scholars.

Lack of Insight into History, Reality and the Sunnah of Allah:
Some people continue to seek or demand the impossible and the unavailable, want to change the whole fabric of society by illusory means and imaginary methods. Prophet (SAWS) spent 13 years in Makkah, performed salah and tawaf on the premises of Ka’bah, though it was surrounded at that time by more than 360 idols.

Two Important Sunan:
1. Gradation: Allah created the universe in stages. In dawah, initially, Prophet (SAWS) gradually introduced the basic teachings of Islam.

2. To achieve targeted goals, giving the allowance of due time is important.
Extremists seem to ignore these two important ways.

Islam: A Stranger in Its Homeland:
Perhaps the most alarming and unbearable factor for any ardent and devout Muslim is that in many Muslim countries, perversion, corruption, and falsehood are rampant. Their opinion is that all the rulers of Arab Muslim countries are mere Pieces On A Chessboards and puppets in the hands of the secret powers that rule the world. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Muslims to be indifferent to the tragic mishaps that beset this Ummah (or to watch their brothers in Islam being SLAUGHTERED like animals, and their sisters being abused and raped). This state of affairs also contribute to the generating of extremist views.

Impediments Imposed On Da'wah And Du'at:
This cause of extremism pertains to the freedom to CALL people to Islam. Islam does not want a Muslim to work alone. Islam not only teaches a person to be pious and righteous but also enjoins them to try to reform others. So Muslims regard this vocation of calling people to Islam as a religiously mandated duty. The gravest sins committed by some of the Muslim Governments are the censorship on the
freedom to call people to Islam as a deen and a system of beliefs and a way of life. The intimidation of du’at and of those who call for the application of shariah, the establishment of the Islamic state, the unity of the Ummah, the liberation of the Muslim land, and the support of all Islamic causes leave few options open for Muslim youths other than desperate measures. This pressure generates extremism. Is it logical, therefore, to blame the youth who – despairing of being allowed to call for Islam with wisdom and nice preaching – have resorted to violent means? In Egypt, in 1954 and 1965, devout Muslims were subjected to nightmarish, hair-raising, unbelievable tortures in the military prisons: they were lashed, exposed to flames, their flesh burned with cigarettes; men and women were being hung upside down like slaughtered animals, while the executioners took turn scorching them until their bodies swelled up in heaps of blood and pus. Why? Why are they subjected to this torture? What crime have they committed?

... these cause extremism.

(Source: 'Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism', by Yusuf al Qaradawi, IIIT; this book can be downloaded from:
www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Default.htm)

When I Whine

Hanaa Ghoneim
Today, upon a bus,

I saw a girl with golden hair,

And wished I was as fair.

When suddenly she rose to leave,

I saw her hobble down the aisle.

She had one leg and wore a crutch.

But as she passed, she passed a smile.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

I have 2 legs, the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy.

The lad who sold it had such charm.

I talked with him, he seemed so glad.

If I were late, it'd do no harm.

And as I left, he said to me,

"I thank you, you've been so kind.

It's nice to talk with folks like you.

You see," he said, "I'm blind."

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

I have 2 eyes, the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,

I saw a child with eyes of blue.

He stood and watched the others play.

He did not know what to do.

I stopped a moment and then I said,

“Why don't you join the others, dear?”

He looked ahead without a word.

And then I knew, he couldn't hear.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

I have 2 ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go.

With eyes to see the sunset's glow.

With ears to hear what I'd know.

Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

I've been blessed indeed, the world is mine.

9 Things you can do for Islam in the years to come

Abdul Malik Mujahid

“I will lose 10 lbs”; “I will exercise more”; “I will spend my money more carefully” –these are just some examples of the kind of resolutions many of us make at various time markers in our lives, most notably, at the beginning of a new year.
But for most Muslims, while the goals we set are usually praiseworthy, few, if any, are aimed at contributing to Islam on a community level. We might, for instance, aim to read more Islamic books or give more in charity. But many of us would not intend to teach at the local weekend Islamic school and share our knowledge or devote our time, not just our money, to a masjid building project. It is time to focus not just on our own personal development. We have to start considering what we can do for Islam in our community and for the Ummah in general.

Below are 9 ideas that you can use or simply check out to jumpstart your own thinking and planning process when developing resolutions.
1. Become an Agent for Muslim Unity
Muslims need to come together to meet the challenges we face today. A common agenda has been there for several years but we remain divided. For Muslims, unity is not an option but an obligation. If the labor movement, women, and other minorities can organize on the basis of a federation/confederation model to address their common agenda successfully, why have we failed to do that? United we stand, divided we fall. Muslims must come together at the national level for a common Muslim agenda. I request that we all, individually, become agents of unity wherever we are. Here is a list of things you can do:
Find out what your masjid is doing for Muslim unity;
Meet, call, and write to Muslim leaders you know and ask what they are doing to bring Muslims together;
Budget for funds and time you can donate for Muslim unity;
Can you form a network of Muslims in your city who are willing to work for the national unity?
Adopt a plan of action for something you can do individually;
2. Work with other faith groups
Remember all those nice people of other faiths who came forward to stand with Muslims after the backlash of 9/11? I love America because of those people. There are tens of millions of good people in America who, despite all the propaganda against Islam, firmly believe that Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims need to work with them to build bridges of understanding in society. Could you do any of the following things?
Attend the next Parliament of the World Religions in Barcelona, Spain where 20,000 people of different faiths will gather in July 2004
Volunteer in soup kitchens or homeless shelters run by other faith groups
Donate to a social justice program which Quakers may have in your area
Learn about their social services programs
3. Develop writing and communication skills
Yes, it is a cliche to say that Muslims have too many doctors and engineers and not enough writers. But this needs to be said over and over again because it seems we have made little headway as an Ummah in this area. English is the lingua franca of the world, and unless Muslims develop their skills and talents in the field of writing and communicating in this language, we will continue to lose. There are more non-Muslims who have written about Islam and Muslims in North America than Muslims. We do not even have good books that can be given out on the issues of jihad, terrorism, and women. Sign up for writing classes. Check out your local library or community center for free or low-cost classes and seminars. Read, read, and read. Send a letter to the editor, write editorials, and more. And if you want to submit your work for the web, please send it to us at Sound Vision. We will post the best writing Insha-Allah!
4. Take care of New Muslims
Takbeer, Allahu Akbar. That is how we welcome a new Muslim in our masjids. But what happens to these Muslims later on? One survey determined that about 50 percent of new Muslims in Illinois and about 65 percent in the state of New York leave Islam within a few years. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, but if we do our duty of properly devoting our personal time and community resources, it will help stem the tide of conversions out of Islam. At this moment only 26 percent of masjids regularly organize New Muslim classes. Each masjid can develop a moakha system to work with a new Muslim.
5. Learn about conflict resolution
Remember the fights in the masjid? Or, the wonderful active sister who left the masjid because of a dispute with the Board of Directors? What about the brother who was a great teacher at the Islamic school until the administration decided to reduce his salary without informing him well in advance?
These are all cases where conflict resolution could have come in handy. There is a crying need for Muslims who can negotiate and mediate amongst Muslims. This is a skill every Muslim community needs to invest in. It is also a skill you should consider developing. You could do a degree in conflict resolution, but you do not have to go that far. You can attend seminars and/or one-day classes. Business schools may offer a course a few weeks long in conflict resolution. Consider gaining and taking these skills to the masjid and to your local Islamic center.
6. Increase your time for the masjid
It is easy to drop a couple of dollars in a masjid donation box, but it is not so easy to devote a couple of hours every few weeks to da’wah to the masjid's neighborhood.
When was the last time your masjid had an open house? When were your non-Muslim friends invited to attend a party in the masjid? While everyone in masjids is ready to work on a masjid building or a school project, there are very few who are willing to spare time for neighborhood relationship or media communication. Many times, there is no one available to properly handle inquires left on the masjid's answering machine.
Time is our greatest resource, not money. Devote yours to causes that deserve it. Also remember that when you are giving time to the masjid, your inputs and ideas are also more likely to be considered by its administration.
7. Make your Muslim organizations more open to feedback and accountability
Have things been running the same way for years at your local Islamic center? Many, many masjids and Islamic centers lack management and organizational skills. They are run by an elite group of people who make all of the decisions without proper consultation with the community. They are also not held accountable for what they do or how the money coming into the masjid or organization is spent. This does not mean that everything they are doing is wrong. But there needs to be a more transparent and open system that will benefit all Muslims in the community, the male and the female, the young and the old, the immigrant and the Muslim born in America. You can help start the process of change. This has to be done with plenty of wisdom and patience. But you and others will benefit from working to make your Islamic organizations more open and accountable to the community.
8. Adopt a Muslim issue which few pay attention to
This commitment does not have to be for a whole year. It can be only for three months if you like. The aim is simply to develop a specialization in a specific area of need and benefit to Muslims. One of the best is the assault on Muslim civil rights in America. It is here, it is real, all of those involved in the issue are accessible, and you can see the results of your efforts more easily. But do not stop there. You can also choose other areas of the world and issues that Muslims have ignored or given sparse attention to lately: Kashmir, Chechnya, environmental issues and domestic violence are all some examples.
9. Plan for Islam in your kids' classroom and your workplace
Ramadan and Eid are no longer unknown to many non-Muslims in America. They are now mentioned along with Christmas and Hannukah, as media coverage of Ramadan this year indicates. That said, though, there would always be the new student, your child’s teacher next year, or a boss and the co-worker who need to know about our celebrations, as well as issues which concern us. One good project to work on is creating more awareness of Islam in schools and the workplace. There are still issues which cause misunderstanding and confusion. The hijab, prayer and Friday prayers are still issues of contention in a number of workplaces and schools.

Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching;
and consult with them in ways that are best and most gracious.
(Al Qur'an, 16:125)

Dawah among children

Kaniz Fatima

We know da’wah means preaching and presenting Islam to others in order that people can appreciate the teachings of Islam and implement them in their practical lives. The range of da’wah should cover all human beings. In other words, we can say that da’wah has several sectors: da’wah to non-Muslims, to youths, to students, to women, so on and so forth. No one is less important and no one can be overlooked. But to me, one sector carries more importance than others though sometimes we cannot realize its importance properly hence give sparse attention. Yes, that is da’wah among children, which is very important as it is also very tricky and challenging task. Sometimes we ignore children. We think they will learn Islam from environment on their own accord so we do not need to give any extra effort for it, or sometimes we remain totally forgetful about the whole issue. Occasionally we give them some valuable advice, and think this is enough and our job is done. Some people hire a person called miasab or hujoor to teach their children in the basics of Arabic language just to enable them to read the Arabic text of the Qur’an. This is considered enough for the children. In fact, our responsibility towards children is not limited to such basics only; it is much bigger than that.

The future of Islam and the betterment of the Muslim community rest largely with the Muslim children of today. They can potentially herald a new world for the Muslims. So they deserve an especial attention. As children’s psychology is different from that of adults, da’wah among them demands a different approach, more creative as well as appealing methods. Sometimes it will need especial training for dealing with the children. To do da’wah work among children, first of all we have to be accepted and liked by them. Children do not want to listen to someone who they do not like, or who do not like them. They usually copy the person who they like most. So we need to behave with children in a way so that they like us and want to emulate our good qualities and carry out our moral and religious directives spontaneously. I do not mean that we would pretend before the children and show them that we like them. Love for the children should come from within. We just need to reflect upon our Prophet’s (SAWS) treatment of the children, and this will help us formulate our own attitude towards them. Absence of appreciating Prophet’s love for them sometimes causes rudeness towards children.

Below are a few important words regarding da’wah among children:

Dawah should start from home:
It would be very sad if we keep us busy in giving da’wah to other people keeping our own house in the dark. Our first attention should be our own domicile – our younger brothers, sisters and our children, with whom we pass most of our time and share our private life. They watch our activities at home: how we walk, how we talk, how we eat, how we pray, etc. So the best way to give them knowledge about Islam is showing Islamic manners trough our activities. In this case, we need to remember that they are very curious and apt to make questions. Those should be answered clearly, easily, and in a more understandable way. Parents should not feel bored nor should they ignore the curious minds of their children. They can build a children’s library at home with interesting Islamic and other morally important books. It does not take much space or time; it can be done in a small shelf, and can be started with a few books. We can tell them interesting stories of prophets and other noble persons from the human history. Sometimes we can take them to masjid to pray with us. There are many other ways we can teach them and cultivate their minds according to the teachings of Islam. The most important thing is that we should keep the issue of da’wah among children constantly active in our mind.

Then come relatives:
We need to give da’wah to our relatives’ children with whom we mix more. First of all we should motivate their parents to take care of the Islamic knowledge of their children. We can present Islamic books, Islamic music, etc, to them.

Friends’ children:
We visit our friends from time to time. So we have a responsibility to give da’wah to them as well as to their children. We should try to make our friends aware about their parental responsibility to bring their children up in the proper Islamic way.

Methodology:
As mentioned before, child psychology is totally different from adult psychology. Obviously, methodology to give da’wah among children should also be different. We need to think carefully before we present Islam to them. Our representation of Islam to the children should be easy to understand, and only then the children will hopefully accept it. Here are some potentially effective methodologies for da’wah among children:
· Love children: When a child realizes that someone loves them then they would listen to and copy the activities of that person.
· Show them Islamic manners: sometimes we like to advise children instead of showing them Islamic manners. But presenting examples through practical application of Islamic manners is more effective than just verbal advice.
· Provide books: From early age we should provide Islamic and morally educative books to them so that they can know Islam directly from books and can form the good habit of reading. We can read to them from story books when they go to bed at night.
· Practice of halal and haram: Some people think children do not need to know about halal and haram. But from childhood they should be made aware about what is halal and what is haram. When they go to shop and want to buy something then parents can teach them what are not allowed for Muslims to eat. We should also teach them that Allah make these things haram because these are harmful for us.
· Religious education: Islamic education for children is not optional. It should be a part and parcel of their learning process. They should be taught how to read the Qur’an; we should make them familiar with the hadeeth literature; they can even memorise some verses from the Qur’an and some hadeeths as well.
· Dress and the hijab: It may occur to some people’s minds that as the hijab or the Islamic dress code is not obligatory for children, they can wear any sort of dress. I do not want to mull over the legal requirements of children’s dress code; but I want to emphasise that dress claims a share in forming children’s psychology. That is why parents should be very careful in choosing dress for their children, both boys and girls. Their dress should be decent. For example, we should not provide half pants for a boy of 8, and we should make our girls habituated to take the hijab when they go out. One word of caution: we should not try to make our children always wear some stereotypical dress, which they may not like. What we have to bear in mind is the question of modesty and decency in choosing dress for them.
· Story: Children like to listen stories. They dream to emulate the good characters of a story as they want to be like the heroes of stories. So we should tell them stories of prophets, of companions, and of other noble and brave Islamic characters.
· Not to provide destructive stuffs: We should not let them watch morally damaging movies, TV programs, or to attend parties where decency would not be maintained.
· Choose them good friends: Children become influenced by their friends. So parents and guardians should be cautious in this matter. They can help them to choose good friends.


Dawah in a broader scale:
In a broader scale we can take some initiatives to give da’wah among children. These initiatives may include:
Publishing magazine for children.
Publishing books for children: In publishing books we need to be careful about language, colour, pictures, size of book, volume, weight, and other related issues. We should not give them long boring stories. Here we need to have deep knowledge about child psychology and about their likes and dislikes.
CD, DVD or cassette of Islamic songs or poems.
Publishing suitable tafseers of the Qur’an for the children (Some important and interesting parts of the Qur’an, not necessarily the whole Qur’an).
Broadcasting interesting TV programs including cartoons.
Arranging competitions such as quiz competition, recitation from the Qur’an competition, Islamic songs competition, etc.
Social get-together: Sometimes we can invite our relatives’ children, friends’ children, neighbours’ children and arrange Islamic cultural programs.

We need to properly realize the extreme need of working among the children. We should also understand the world we are living in and review our methodology accordingly. We should take children’s likes and dislikes into account when we approach them individually as we should deeply consider the use of modern technology especially when approaching them collectively. Most importantly, there is no alternative to our love for them.

A few things about me: a poem

Habibur Rahman

What shapes my personality,
It's not all that you can see,
But my Heart, my enviroment,
my history.

There is so many things that shape the individual
It's not just political
Since there is so much,
This is what I'd like you to see...

I try hard to understand and to forgive
To constantly improve myself
not just for my own health.

What drives me, is the faith I have in the community
but what struggle I have to retain that faith
what struggle I have to with-hold my anger
when I see arrogance that doesn't shatter.

The struggle I have is with my own ego
with it, the actions on toe
With the emotions blinding me
not guiding you see.

The Struggle is also known as Jihad
The struggle comes in many forms
Oh, how the interpretation is torn!

What shapes my personality is Islam
But Lets not forget
that’s only a part of me.

If I do anything wrong
Please don't blame my faith
Blame me.

Glossary

Aayah (variant. Ayah): lit. sign. A verse of the Qur’an.
Aayaat (variant. Ayat, ayaat): pl. of aayah.
Alhamdulillah: lit. Praise be to Allah! A usual expression of thankfulness to Allah.
Allahu Akbar: lit. Allah is the Greatest! A usual expression to glorify Allah.
AS: abbrev. of Alaihis Salam. Lit. Peace be upon him! A usual expression of reverence Muslims pronounce when the name of a prophet other than Muhammad (SAWS) is mentioned.
Asr: late afternoon prayer.
Ayaat: see Aayaat.
Baseerah: clear knowledge; conscious insight.
Bismillah: lit. In the name of Allah. Muslims pronounce this on beginning of the most of their activities.
Companions (variant. As-hab; sing. Sahabah): companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
Dalalatunnas: lit. hint, insinuation or indication of the revealed text. Inferred meaning of the revealed text.
Da’wah: lit. call. Calling people to Islam.
da’yee: lit. caller. One who calls people to Islam.
Deen: lit. religion, creed, faith. The Islamic code of life.
Dhikr: lit. remembrance. Remembering Allah in day to day activities and being constantly conscious of Him.
du’at: pl. of da’yee.
Hadeeth: lit. speech, talk. Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
Halal: that which is allowed, permissible (in Islam).
Haram: prohibited, unlawful (in Islam).
Hijab: lit. cover, curtain. Islamic dress code.
Hujoor: lit. presence. A term used in some Muslim societies to address Islamic clerics.
Ibaratunnas: lit. diction of the revealed text. Explicit meaning of the revealed text.
Iktedaunnas: lit. (legal) requirement of the revealed text. Required meaning of the revealed text.
Imaan (variant. Iman): lit. faith, belief. Islamic belief system.
Insha-Allah: lit. Allah-willing. A usual expression Muslims pronounce when planning or intending to do something in future.
Isharatunnas: lit. indication of the revealed text. Indicative meaning of the revealed text.
Ism: name. (pl. asma).
Jihad: striving in good causes.
Markaz: lit. site, centre. An Islamic centre usually of a non-political Islamic mass movement named Tablighi Jam’at.
Masjid: mosque.
Miasab: an appellation used for Islamic clerics in some societies.
Moakha: fraternization.
Najm: lit. star. One chapter of the Holy Qur’an.
People of the Book: Jews and Christians are so called in Islamic terms, as they had received revealed writ from God.
Pir: mystic guide.
RA: abbrev. of Radiallahu Anhu (fem. Anha). Lit. May Allah be pleased with him/her. Pronounced when a Companion’s (of Prophet) name is mentioned.
Rubuyiat: godhead.
Sajdah: prostration.
Salah: ritual prayer.
Salat: variant of salah.
SAWS: abbrev. of Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. Lit. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him! Muslims pronounce when Prophet Muhammad’s name is mentioned.
Sunan: (sing. sunnah). Ways.
Sunnah: lit. way, habitual practice. Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS); his sayings and doings.
Surah: chapter of the Qur’an.
SWT: abbrev. of Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Lit. He is Glorious and He is Great. Usually said when Allah’s name is mentioned.
Taabi'een: lit. followers. An appellation used for the Muslim generation immediately after the generation of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
Tafseer (variant. Tafsir). Lit. explanation, interpretation, commentary. Interpretation of the Qur’an.
Takbeer: lit. extolment, glorification. Shortened version of Allahu Akbar.
Tawaf: circumambulation of the Ka’ba (one ritual of Hajj [pilgrimage]).
Tawheed: Absolute oneness of Allah.
Usool ad-Da`wah: principles or basic rules of calling people to Islam.
Usul al-Fiqh: principles of Islamic jurisprudence.
Zakat: charity. One of the five cardinal basic obligatory duties of a Muslim.
Zohr (variant. Zuhr): afternoon-time prayer.