Category Archives: Islam

Islam related articles, videos, etc

Muslim Lives Matter: Bias in the Mainstream Media

While main stream media is a little confused as to how a crime can happen against Muslims, I can confirm that it can and it did. I would also like to clarify that the shooter of the three Muslims in Chapel Hill was an atheist, Richard Dawkins fan, Inspired by Sam Harris rhetoric, a lover of guns and promoter of new-atheism. He is a non-Muslim terrorist and this was an act of terror, not just a simple hate crime, like painting hateful graffiti on the wall of a Masjid. Muslim lives matter!

And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. Qur’an 2:154

Media coverage has been disgusting. It took a very long time for media to start properly reporting on the issue and when it did, they made it sound as if Muslims lives are not as important.

Media Bias
Fox news website reporting the Chapel Hill shooting right at the bottom of the page

So do not worry, it is not Ghaza that gets imbalanced media coverage, if something happened here in Australia, in the states or any other country, unless Muslims can be blamed, the news will not get enough coverage.

I personally  first read about the shooting on Twitter:

It appeared that the the idea of reporting by mainstream media was also to collect twitter feeds and republish them on a page, like this:

It didn’t seem important for mainstream media to send a reporter to the scene and instead relied on social media.

Activists and cartoonists have been quick to condemn mainstream media for their bias and sub-slandered reporting of crimes against Muslims. Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) Tweeted this gem:

Muslim Lives Matter by Carlos Latuff
Muslim Lives Matter (#ChapelHillShooting) by Carlos Latuff

The three Muslims who were murdered in cold blood were Deah, his wife Yosur and her sister Razan were three exemplary young people who enjoyed life, worked hard, did voluntary work, helped the poor and less fortunate. You can see Deah in this video trying to raise funds for Project:Refugee Smiles, a dental relief program for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Deah and Yosur had just got married less than 2 months ago. Surely they had plans to live a long life happily, finish their studies, settle down, bring new lives into this world and whatever else a young couple dream of. Alas they were not given the chance to do any of those. May Allah disgrace this murderer who has robbed a family of their future.

The man charged with this crime, many have already anticipated will be deemed mentally ill and put into an institution. I hope this is not the case and he faces the full force of law and is given the maximum possible sentence.

No amount of condolences and sympathy will lessen the pain their family is feeling right now. All we can do is to pray for them.

May Allah forgive and make Jannat al-Firdaws the abode of Deah, Yosur and Razan and bestow upon their loved ones patience and comfort in the face of such calamity.

Pretend Democracy Campaign in Afghanistan takes a blow

Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani

A national unity government now in Afghanistan means that the struggles and oppression that people of Afghanistan went through since at least 2001 when NATO invaded Afghanistan were basically for nothing. It is like saying, “We made a mistakes. Let’s go back to drawing board and start over. Democarcy has failed.”

The idea that we are somewhat better off than 1992 is laughable at best.  A government of coalition is basically what was agreed upon in Berlin back then and this is what we are going back to. As a matter of fact it is the same as when the Mujahideen took over Kabul in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people killed by kinds of murderers from Jihadis to Talibs to Pakistanis to Americans since then and the ending is where it all began.

The naivety of us to think that somehow we would become civil and incorporate some form of democracy in our society boggles my mind. But then again I said this several times. My friends with whom I had similar discussions over the years will attest to that.

The fact that supporters of Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah embarassed themselves on social media belittling each other was not surprising either. This was exactly what happened back in 1994. Hekmatyar was on about the fact that Rabani had joined with Kuffar but the moment he had an opportunity to make a deal with Dostum he did not think twice. Similarly, people in Dr Abdullah’s camp throwing all sorts of hypocritical statements that Ashraf Ghani has joined with Dostum while they were the ones who empowered Dostum to being with.

The idea that somehow one of these people will make a difference in the lives of common Afghans is a tall tale. The fact that people are so up in arms to defend these symbols of neo-clonialism is shameful. I am just hoping that at least some issues are addressed in the next couple of years, provided thugs do not jump each other before some order is established. However, political allegiances in Afghanistan being tribal and ethnocentric, it would be too much to hope for.

It is clear from what is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Syria that America has no intention of letting peace finds its way in the middle east. Similarly, this development in Afghanistan is a proof that the same is true for Afghanistan.

A Shared Ramadan Experience

We are only two Muslims in our company, but every Ramadan almost everyone else fasts one day to share the Ramadan experience with us. Our work organises a dinner for those who fast. This year, one of our colleagues emailed us the following and with her permission I decided to post it here.

Iftar
Iftar at Lazzat Kadah

When we were first approached and invited to be a part of Ramadan we all thought that it would be a breeze, a lot of us are constantly forgetting to eat lunch anyway, skipping dinner or breakfast because we are too busy too.

What we realised as we inched closer and closer to the day (Tuesday this week) was that there wouldn’t be a cup of tea on arrival at the office in the morning. No afternoon coffee and banana. No glass of water to sip on to keep us refreshed throughout the day. What we all also didn’t realise is that we would have to wake up before the crack of dawn to eat. I know that was my plan, but at 5.30 in the morning just didn’t happen for some reason 😉 zzzzzzzz

So, at 8.30am when I arrived at the office I was already hungry. Mainly because I knew there was 8 hours and 6 minutes until anything was going in my mouth. I know I wasn’t the only one on the countdown to 5.36pm.

I think the biggest struggle throughout the office was not having a comforting, refreshing cup of tea or coffee and having some kind of fruit or snack to get us through the afternoon slowdown.

Anyway, all 12 of us made it as far as I am aware (unless someone did a sneaky). 8 of us then made the journey, which seemed to take forever on an empty tummy, to Lazzat Kadah, a Pakistani Restaurant in Coburg for our well deserved Iftar.

I know that I will be taking part in Ramadan fasting next year and I hope that others will continue to do so. It wasn’t only my first time taking part in fasting (I don’t count the 40 hour famine when I was 8, I had 2 packets of barley sugars and a carton of just juice) it was the first time for a few others in the office too. I have heard that the first time is the hardest, and that it gets easier. I hope this is true. I guess we will all find out next year 🙂

Thanks for organising this great experience. I really, really really appreciated my tea this morning.

Ramadan 2013 is around the corner

Ramadhan
Ramadhan (Photo credit: ihtatho)

By now most preparations are done. Muslims around the world will be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in few days.
For us in Australia it is going to be rather easy with short and cold days. May Allah make it easy for those brothers and sisters who live in the places where they have to fast for 16 hours and more. With heat from one side, hunger from the other and on top of that, other temptations will sure make things rather unpleasant, but remember that in Allah’s pleasure rests our pleasure.

Let’s evaluate what does Ramadan mean to us. What do we see in Ramadan? Do we use it as an opportunity to leave our sinful past behind or just as a bridge to connect two sinful parts of our lives?

I have witnessed many people who use this month as a month to repent their sins and afterwards go back to their old life. While, it is not for us to judge their actions, it becomes our duty to remind them that this is a month of refinement and improvement. If one intends to go back to old habits, then there is no point in improvement. Sure, our good deeds will reap rewards from Allah, but this is not the sole purpose of Ramadan. It should be seen as one of many doors out of the world of sin and our intention should be that once on the other side, the door should never open again for us to go back.

Inshallah, this year like every other year, the month of Ramadan will bring joy to the lives of Muslims and fill their hearts with Taqwa (God-conciousness).

 

May Allah give Barakah to all Muslims and the ability to fast the month of Ramadan.
May Allah allow us in this holy month to worship Him as we have never before.
May Allah make this month a time to repent our sins and not go stray.
May Allah bring and keep our children to the right path, the path of those who He has bestowed His mercy upon.
May Allah cause those of us and our loved ones who have strayed from the straight path, to return.
May Allah’s forgiveness showers our deceased.
May Allah cure our ill, solve our problems, open our hearts to words of Hikmah, strengthen our hearts and make us steadfast on His path.

 

Aameen Ya Rab-el-Alameen

 

 

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How a Distraction Becomes an Obsession

As Muslims we believe that the true purpose of our lives is to know and worship the one and only Creator. Numerous Qur’anic verses point to the fact that life was not created without purpose:

  • Human was created to worship Allah (Qur’an 51:56)
  • Life was not created without purpose (Qur’an 38:27)
  • Humans were created to be conscious of themselves and Allah and become righteous (Qur’an 2:21, 49:13)

All of the verses mentioned above, and several more, refer to the fact that the purpose of our existence is to attain righteousness, become God-conscious, and to understand life and be aware of one another.

We can conclude that humans are capable to reaching the heights of righteousness. It would be pointless if the purpose of creation was God-consciousness, yet humans did not possess the capability to do so. However, Allah (SWT) also says in the Qur’an that humans are created weak; consequently, He (SWT) has made the path very clear and removed the obstacles (Qur’an 4:28). This does not mean that we will not face any challenges. What it means is that the challenges that we are given will be according to our strength (Qur’an 2:286).

Islam is about balance. It does not dictate that we live a life of isolation and complete austerity. Islam is not into the business of making our lives difficult and miserable. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries. (Musnad of Abu Ya’la)

The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) always disagreed with excessiveness. He, may peace and blessing be upon him, once said to Abdullah ibn Amr, ‘Have I heard right that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?’ Abdullah replied, ‘Yes, O Messenger of God: The Prophet said, ‘Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you (Bukhari, Muslim)

Islam does not stop us from amusement, having fun, or enjoying ourselves. It actually encourages physical activities, competitions, and gatherings; all within the Halal limits. But we are not perfect. We make mistakes; we commit sins; we neglect our duties and forget the purpose of our existence. We get distracted, and then we overcome and move on. Nevertheless, sometimes these distractions can morph into something more; more than just a momentary disruption.

There is no such thing as good obsession even if the object of the obsession is something good. The fact that it becomes an excessiveness makes it harmful and against the teachings of Islam. However, when a distraction becomes an obsession, it is a greater problem because it should not last long enough to become a potential for an obsession.

Are you obsessed with your handheld devices? A lot of us are. There is a wealth of useful and worthy information that you can now hold in the palm of your hand; but at the same time, there is the possibility of misusing it for vain and useless activities. Assume you are reading an article on your iPad and then there is a game ad. on that page. It distracts you. You become interested in the content of the ad, the game that it was advertising. So you hop on to App Store and find the app for that game and buy it. Minutes later you find yourself playing the game. A few hours later, you realize that you are playing at the expense of work or study. Days later, you find yourself playing it every single chance you get. This is how a distraction becomes an obsession. The ad on the page was only few seconds long, but now you are losing precious time playing the game.

We cannot avoid distractions all the time, but we can control them and make sure they do not turn into obsessions. It is in our nature to like amusements, whether it is by watching TV, browsing the world wide web, going out with friends or any other type of entertainment, but we need to take a balanced approach. Excessive amusements has the potential to murder our soul and we need our soul to reach the purpose of our lives.

Afghan Girls and the Dilemma of Marriage

Contributed by Haya

Afghan girls and Dilemma of Marriage

Except for the monks, priests and nuns who wish to remain celibate and dedicate their lives in worshiping God, sacrificing affection, love, partnership and children then this article will not interest you. The rest of us who are too selfish to do so may read on.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the wedding expenses or what marriage in itself looks like as I haven’t got the experience to do so and my version may mislead many of those who wish to be realistic about it – which is probably the best way to do it. Thanks to the many hours dedicated to Bollywood movies that have forever ingrained in me the hope that I will find Raj and I will be his Simran have probably set my expectations bar way too high that if I jump to pull it back down I wouldn’t reach.
However, what I can be useful for is to give a little walk into the mind of single Afghan girls who suffer the pressures of the community and society at large that have been put on her when finding her spouse. Of course this will not be a general account but I will do my best to incorporate what I can of every version of an Afghan girl from the highly conservative to the “ultramodern”.

Buckle up guys, you heard it here first from some random anonymous claiming to be a single Afghan girl but for all you know can be a balding Afghan father crying out to single Afghan men out there to give their daughters the benefit of the doubt.

For starters let’s begin with the fundamentals that apply to every version of an Afghan girl whether she fears God or fears getting caught by her dad.

Introducing the AGE BRACKET!
That’s right folks we have an expiry date. 17-26 if you aint married in this bracket you have one of the following;

  1. A past that everyone knows about
  2. In love with an Indian or a White boy
  3. Has no idea how to wrap up a quick Qabeli palao
  4. Has a tongue so sharp she strikes before you serve

If she’s lucky and ends up being a Doctor or a Lawyer then they might forgive her a couple of years otherwise she has no reason to be picky and it serves her right for still being single! That ought to show her!
Second.
Anything outside the border specially Pakistani or Iranian you’ve sold your soul to the devil and you deserve to be outcast from the community and your parents for the rest of their lives will have to give apologetic smiles upon entering functions and “mehmanis” where they’ll be asked about how their foreign son-in-law is doing. This is still an exaggeration! Oh, no silly not the last part, I mean how we can only select from Afghan guys, we have families that won’t look past their own ethnicities within Afghanistan, better yet they might even tell you you’re stuck to picking from your first cousins. Enjoy!

Of course this is totally flexible to the Afghan guy. Why would I even bother talking about that? I mean his one legitimate excuse is … “Well he’s guy!” DUH!

Anyway, again we are subject to random searches that take place when our parents suspect that Mariam may just be Michael. Whether Afghan parents like it or not there’s MSN, Facebook and a plethora of other means that technology today has made possible. Seat belting them into everything they do in life will teach them to be dependent and naive forever; they might as well tie us in a straight jacket.
Either way, they are going to go behind their parents’ backs, because their hot-blooded and no amount of security will have them monitored every step of the way. Even if she does and is caught, she has tarnished her father’s name and it’s her fault for not suppressing her wishes to spend her life with someone she has a mutual understating and interest with.

I don’t see how Afghan families do not allow their daughters to have chaperoned meetings with individuals so that they may have the chance to formally meet and exercise their birth right. The girls suffer the most because we live in a box that has a ticking time bomb on it. We have to race to find the groom before the alarm beeps and we realise we are a day over the bracket.

The pressure does not only stop there. Treading softly all our life until we are married is our duty upon us. Obviously, in many cases if this does not work out then we ship her off to Afghanistan and we hand her over to the next guy that gets a wife and a free ticket to the land of the white man. Buy one, get one free!

We don’t need to treat our daughters like possessions. Women have been suffering enough as history illustrates very clearly. There is not one type of Afghan girl willing to sacrifice her list that her future husband would tick most of the boxes. There are many dynamics to her and each one whether she is traditional, conservative or modern lives a different day-to-day life in which they have different ideals and expectations that they want in a man.

As a Muslimah, I understand that Islam has freed us of the shackles of nationalism and limiting ourselves to one race.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people and tribes so that you may know one another” (Qur’an 49: 13)

There is nothing wrong with marrying within your own race and to limit the differences as much as possible, but only if it is an option and not a requirement.

There are many ways in which women can get to know a prospective husband the” safe way”, rather than having to wake up a day after your wedding and getting ready for work when your new husband asks you “Where do you think you’re going?”

Marriage is the biggest decision of our lives. There is a biological clock that we should pay attention to, but not to rush into it.
If parents teach their daughters that they are free to choose and select their life partner but to consult that matter as a family and to exercise that right in a manner pleasing and safe and stop shipping off their daughters and making them someone else’s problem when they “deviate”. The problem can be nipped in the bud.

Parents play a major role in every child’s life and being brought up with Afghan values and the culture is to be respected. However, we should keep in mind that times are changing and Afghan girls are no longer submissive and will not allow to be treated how they were back in the days. We have rights that are given to us and being able to select our life partner without feeling like running a marathon is an obvious one.

In conclusion, if you are still here reading then congratulations you are one step better at knowing what we deal with.

Bottom line is that the only way for an Afghan girl to get married is not with her cousin, who she calls her brother one day and is then walking down the aisle hand in hand with him the next day because her parents weren’t able to trust anyone else. She does not need to be shipped off and made somebody else’s business either (although this is not a bad idea sometimes but there may be backlash).

Taking your sweet time cruising through life and then realising the only way you will have kids is through IVF or adopting isn’t the way to go either and neither am I trying to say we need to be treated like princess’s. There needs to be a balance of what someone is comfortable with. As Afghans are pretty divided when it comes to being traditional, conservative or westernised, every family will have a different take on the issue. We just need to sit back a little and stop standing on our toes all the time. Otherwise it’s just a vicious cycle that never ends and creates more problems than it does solutions.

 

Muslims’ Obsession with Christmas

Muslims and Christmas
Muslims and Christmas

Every year close to Christmas you would see forums, blogs, chat rooms where some Muslims are talking about how Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus and Christians are wrong to celebrate it, and how it is not mentioned in the Bible.

It is one thing to tell your fellow Muslims not to celebrate Christmas and not to say “Merry Christmas”, but to keep talking about how wrong of the Christians to celebrate this is just ridiculous. Even a Da’wah TV program called “The Deen Show” had an interview with some scholar about the fact that Santa is not in the Bible.

Obviously we cannot get our priorities right. There are far more pressing issues that we Muslims face as a community and on individual levels. Our people are starving, war is destroying our homes, corruption is ruining our countries, yet as soon as Christmas or Easter is close, the same war against Christmas beings.

I frequent a forum that most of the members are Muslim. Every year there are new threads about all or some of the issues such as putting decorative lights up in Christmas, Saying Merry Christmas to Christians, Christmas is pagan holiday, Santa is a marketing scheme, Valentine’s day is Haram, Easter is not Christian in origin and the list goes on.

I am not sure I understand this obsession, but I am certain there are more important things in life. I thought here I’d give a list of activities in no particular order to delve into, instead of wasting your time offending Christians on their festive day:

  1. Volunteer to clean your local Masjid
  2. Memorize some verses of Qur’an
  3. Pray Nawafil
  4. Organise a social Halal event for Muslims
  5. Plant a tree
  6. Collect donation for the needy
  7. Prepare meal for homeless
  8. Volunteer at a shelter
  9. Register for foster parenting (You will be amazed how many Muslim kids need foster parenting)
  10. Take your parents out for dinner
  11. Go to YouTube and listen to a lecture
  12. Update your blog
  13. Donate to a charity organisation of your choice
  14. Tutor your younger siblings
  15. Read a story to little kids
  16. Prepare a meal for your family
  17. Recite longer Surrahs in your prayer
  18. Pick up your phone and call a friend that you haven’t spoken for a while
  19. Visit your grand parents
  20. Visit the Blog Etcetera and leave a comment or two.

Ramadan: The transition is easy, the upkeep not so much

Ramadan
Ramadan a month for Transformation

I know some inspiring brothers and sisters who make being a practicing, obedient Muslim look so easy. But it is not. It takes constant struggle and for people like myself who are not very disciplined it is very hard to keep up the pace.

I know several brothers and sisters who decided to start practicing and become better Muslims, but after some time, the enthusiasm wore off and in some cases some are left in worse condition than before. It is a struggle to wake up for Fajr. It is a struggle to pray Isha because you have delayed it and now you are sleepy. It is hard.

Lucky for us, once a year we have this amazing month. The month that the doors of Jannah opens. There is something in this holy month that make obedience to Allah (SWT) so easy. As a friend of mine once said and I quote:

I don’t know about you, but fasting is easy. Some over-hyping it to their white friends making it seem like we are super humans for doing it when we are not.

Fasting is not that hard if it was about stopping eating only. But Ramadan is not just about not eating. Ramadan is the month of hope that we pray our previous sins are forgiven and hope that we stay on the path until next Ramadan.  It is a month that should be foundation for the rest of our lives. We establish our good deeds in this month and should build up on it even after Ramadan. This holy month should be used as a transition phase for becoming a better individual, more spiritual, more practicing. How you act in Ramadan should be how you act always.

Like any other year, this year, we fast, we break our fast, pray more Nawafil, pray Tarawih, repent for our past sins. What then after Ramadan? Obedience is not only for Ramadan. A Muslim should be in the state of obedience to Allah (SWT) all the time. Ramadan is an opportunity to be ceased so that we repent our past sins and do not go back to our old habits once Ramadan is over.

Ramadan will end this year like the year before, but our commitment to doing good deeds should not end. There is always voluntary fasting, there are always extra Nawafil prayers,   getting up for Tahajud and giving from your wealth to the needy. If sacrificed your needs for one month, sure you can sacrifice your wants after that.  I am not suggesting separating ourselves from the world completely. What I am suggesting is that sure we can limit our self-indulgences and instead focus on deeds that bring us closer to Allah in the times other than Ramadan. Who knows whether we will see the next Ramadan or not.

So getting back to the original point of this, not eating food during the day is not hard. Even stopping yourself from using bad language is not hard for one month; it is the commitment that makes it hard. Will we  take this challenge this year and see if we can stay committed to what Ramadan has transformed us until next Ramadan? I sure hope so.

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.” [Al-Qur’an 3:8]