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Topics - HOPE

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Discussions / power of culture
« on: May 30, 2014, 12:57:41 AM »
Peace to all,

"Every year (approx) 1000 women are killed in Pakistan in the name of honor. Most cases are reported in the country's most prosperous, populous and developed region i.e. the Punjab province which partly rules out the argument that this is primarily an education issue prevalent in under-developed regions. Women have been killed outside court rooms and Darulamaans in broad daylight in urban capitals like Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Multan.
The same Muslims who boast about mistreatment of women in the so called Jahiliyya and how Islam emancipated women, do not take a moment before killing their own flesh and blood. All it takes for a father to shoot his daughter is for her to choose a man of her choice; a brother to beat his sister to death for marrying in court a man she loved; a husband to kill his wife over an accusation of being unfaithful.
Why don't we simply bury newborn girls alive and keep it simple? Why make this modern state which has an atomic bomb and motorways and shopping malls look like a stone-age society which kills and dumps in broad daylight? Why not have specialized dumping areas where we silently dump all newborn girls because they appear to be the cause of all evil in this land of the pure. Our Islamic Studies text books taught us Arabs used to do this before the advent of Islam - so this policy will align with our Arabisation as well." - Ale Natiq

Discussions / perception
« on: May 26, 2014, 09:30:06 AM »
Peace to all,

In a mother's womb were two babies. One asked the other: "Do you believe in life after delivery?" The other replies, "why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later. "Nonsense," says the other. "There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?" "I don't know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths." The other says "This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short." "I think there is something and maybe it's different than it is here." the other replies, "No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere." "Well, I don't know," says the other, "but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us." "Mother??" You believe in mother? Where is she now? "She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world." "I don't see her, so it's only logical that she doesn't exist." To which the other replied, "sometimes when you're in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her." I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality.... ~Unknown

Discussions / fatwa
« on: February 28, 2014, 11:02:59 PM »

Discussions / reflection
« on: February 14, 2014, 04:14:32 AM »

Prophets and Messengers / Solomon and animal communication
« on: February 05, 2014, 01:33:42 AM »

Peace to all,

I stand corrected regarding the Quranic verses concerning Solomon.  After all Mr. Hudhud was not a human for constructing value judgments!

General Discussions / Angel of Death
« on: January 18, 2014, 06:36:19 AM »
 Salam brother Joseph,

 Enjoyed reading your FB post but I need further elaboration on the subject in light of the verses: 6:61; 16:28; 39:42.  Under which conditions does the Almighty delegate this task to the Angel of Death?

Thank you,

Discussions / Mawlid al-Nabi
« on: January 13, 2014, 03:39:29 AM »
Peace and greetings to all,

How do we celebrate prophet Muhammad's birthday?

The best way to honor Muhammad is by learning, living and teaching the Quran he has conveyed to us.

We are trying . . . yet we could try harder!

Islamic Duties / salat
« on: January 12, 2014, 01:50:47 AM »
Salaam all,

This is the best tafsir of salat, for me so far.

"Our five daily prayers are a way to curb over-attachment to anything material. The five prayers regulate our lives with their specific timings to teach us that indeed Allah is greater than anything else that we might be occupied in at that moment. The dawn prayer teaches us that the most beloved thing to us, comfort and sleep, should not control us – so we rise up in the cold morning, wash ourselves and pray in an acknowledgement that Allah is greater than our love of comfort and sleep. The midday and afternoon prayer teaches us that no matter how engrossed we are with work or the short lunch hour that we so highly value, it’s not the purpose of our existence. So we leave it for a few minutes and stand and pray testifying that Allah is indeed greater. On Friday, we dedicate most, if not all of our lunch hour to attend the Friday sermon and prayer. The dusk prayer, that time when we’re finally home and about to spend time with our family, eat dinner or simply relax – we get up and pray together to confirm that Allah is Greater than any of that. Finally the night prayer, Isha’ – when we’re tired after a long day of work and responsibilities ready to fall into bed and sleep, we pray again proving that submitting to Allah is greater than falling into the warm bed. All these serve as constant reminders to us that as much as we love life, we live for a higher purpose."

(Mansoor Ahmed)

Discussions / al-Birr
« on: December 18, 2013, 06:18:30 AM »

Peace to you all,

What Is 'True Piety' According to the Qur'an?

Editor's Note: Huffington Post Religion has launched a scripture commentary/reflection series, which will bring together leading voices from different religious traditions to offer their wisdom on selected religious texts. We are pleased to announce a series of reflections for the Holy Month of Ramadan featuring posts by HM Queen Noor, Dalia Mogahed, Eboo Patel, Kabir Helminski, and Rami Nashashibi. They will all be reflecting on a passage from the Qur'an, Sura 2:177, which appears below. Last month we featured Christian reflections on the Gospel by Rev. Jim Wallis, Dr. Serene Jones, Dr. Emilie Townes, Sister Joan Chittister, and Rev. James Martin, S.J. Coming in September we will feature Jewish commentaries for the High Holidays and in October Hindu commentary for Diwali. We hope all readers, Muslim and non-Muslim, will gain wisdom from the insights of our writers on the Holy Qur'an:

True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west -- but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance -- however much he himself may cherish -- it -- upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God. (2:177 [Asad])

The Qur'an is the record of 23 years of messages given to the Prophet Muhammad by a source which he believed to be the very same God who addressed all previous human communities, as well as the Prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (among others). From the Muslim perspective, the verses (ayats) of the Qur'an are both an intimate dialog between God and Muhammad and a source of guidance for human beings in general. Non-Muslims, and especially Westerners, bring their own expectations, and sometimes their own prejudices, to their attempts at understanding this "book." The great American classicist Norman O. Brown began a study of Islam late in his life and offered some extraordinary insights in a series of lectures which have been recently published as The Challenge of Islam. Brown once reflected that the West was not ready to appreciate the Qur'an before James Joyce's avant-garde Finnegan's Wake was published.

Both texts are many-layered, non-linear language events. Just as Ulysses is not quite a novel about Ireland but an experiment that probes the very possibilities and limits of language, so, too, the Qur'an challenges human sensibilities. It describes itself as "a sublime Book. No falsehood can ever enter it from in front or behind. It is a bestowal from on high by the One who is All-Wise, and to whom belongs all praise" (41:41-42). It does not, however, claim a monopoly on the truth, but rather "sets forth the Truth, confirming the Truth of whatever remains of earlier revelations" (5:48), affirming, for instance, that the Torah of the Jews is "a guidance and a light" (5:44).
Some of what gets in the way of Westerners reading it for the first time includes:
A tendency to project meanings from our own religious conditioning onto the Qur'an.
Numerous unspoken assumptions about how we think the Divine should speak and what it should say.
A tendency to absolutize statements out of context, while willfully ignoring the comprehensive meaning derived from a broad knowledge of the text.
Needless to say, all of these things can get in the way of an openhearted, sensitive reading of the text. Since most English translations have adopted Biblical terms to translate the Qur'an, the linguistic originality and uniqueness has been obscured. In some translations we encounter the terms "believers" and "unbelievers" and we think of those who do or do not subscribe to an exclusive doctrine or dogma dictated to them by a religious authority. The root meanings of these words are not about "belief" at all, but about a perception of spiritual reality, a trust that life has meaning and purpose, a certainty of the heart that has little to do with theology. The Arabic term which has been translated as unbeliever is kafir which would better be understood as someone in denial, someone who willfully "covers" (i.e., denies) the spiritual dimension of life -- no matter what their nominal, purported religion or lack thereof.

For reference, the most respected translation and the most comprehensive linguistic analysis and commentary on the Qur'an is The Message of the Qur'an by Muhammad Asad. Asad was born Leopold Weiss, son of a Rabbi in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who was, among other things, Pakistan's first Ambassador to the United Nations.
Much of the Qur'an is about getting beyond man-made beliefs and dogmas, about becoming vigilant about the ways spirituality degenerates into self-serving orthodoxies and power structures, about returning us to the simple awe and wonder of a pure heart, about doing the work that supports human dignity and well-being. I know what some people are now thinking: what this really means is setting up a religious dictatorship. History shows otherwise. Islamic societies were typically multi-cultural and multi-religious, as witnessed by the Ottoman world, Spain in the Middle Ages, and Jerusalem over 12 centuries of Muslim rule.

The quotation we are looking at here is a good example of this valuing of essential goodness over religious doctrine and form, because it tells us that true and sincere goodness is not the result of merely conforming to the outer forms of religious rituals, but consists of doing good to others, living a life of service, bearing suffering with patience, and overcoming fear. To say that "piety" (Arabic birr, literally "goodness") is not about facing east or west is significant in the Islamic context, where the direction of Mecca is always kept in mind for establishing the direction in which one will prostrate during the five-times-per-day ritual prayer. As important as that is, it is not as important as being a good person, "sharing one's substance" with those who are near to us, with wayfarers, with anyone needing refuge, and the freeing of other people from all sorts of "bondage." It is to embody the essence of religion, which includes not "believing in" but being "faithful to" God, His angels, His Prophets (without distinguishing some as more important than others), and recognizing an external accountability for our actions.

Discussions / relevance of religion
« on: October 25, 2013, 11:20:30 AM »
Peace to you all,

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion--its message becomes meaningless.”
― Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism

Discussions / recovering from Jahaliyya
« on: October 03, 2013, 04:07:44 AM »

Great reflection by Usama Canon on "Recovering from Jahaliyya."

Discussions / Authentic Hadith
« on: September 24, 2013, 06:21:38 AM »
Peace to all,

I've come across this hadith today and love it.

The Prophet said: “The Qur’an is an intercessor, something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.” [An authentic hadith found in At-Tabaraanee, on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood] -

Discussions / fairest governor for social justice and peace
« on: September 23, 2013, 05:02:58 AM »
United Nations on Imam Ali Ibn AbuTalib

UN Secretariat , the Committee of Human Rights in New York under the chairmanship of the Secretary General Kofi Annan issued , in 2002 A.D. , this historic resolution :

" The Caliph Ali Bin Abi Talib is considered the fairest governor who appeared during human history (After the Prophet Muhammed)"

UN Declaration was based on documents of 160 pages in English .

For this reason, the World Organization for Human Rights called the rulers of the world to follow the example of his sound and humanitarian method in ruling which revealed the spirit of social justice and peace .

It was mentioned that the famous American writer Michael Hamilton was acquainted with the administrative instructions that the Caliph Imam Ali gave to Malik Al Ashtar when he appointed him ruler for Egypt in 656 A.D. , urging him to treat people, who were not Muslims, with charity and beneficence confirming the necessity of equality among the Jews and Christians with Muslims in rights and tasks, he showed his high admiration for Imam Ali's wise policy that made him enter the history of humanity from its broad doors .

The United Nations has advised Arab countries to take Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (AS) as an example in establishing a regime based on justice and democracy and encouraging knowledge.

The UNDP in its 2002 Arab Human Development Report, distributed around the world, listed six sayings of Imam Ali (AS) about ideal governance.

They include consultation between the ruler and the ruled, speaking out against corruption and other wrong doings, ensuring justice to all, and achieving domestic development.

The UNDP said most regional countries are still far behind other nations in democracy, wide political representation, women's participation, development and knowledge.

Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (AS)'s sayings:

The UNDP quoted the following sayings of Imam Ali (AS) in its 2002 Arab Human Development Report:

1. "He who has appointed himself an Imam (ruler) of the people must begin by teaching himself before teaching others. His teaching of others must be first by setting an example rather than with his words, for he who begins by teaching and educating himself is more worthy of respect than he who teaches and educates others."

2. "Your concern with developing the land should be greater than your concern for collecting taxes, for the latter can only be obtained by developing; whereas he who seeks revenue without development destroys the country and the people."

3. "Seek the company of the learned and the wise in search of solving the problems of your country and the righteousness of your people."

4. "No good can come out in keeping silent to the government or in speaking out of ignorance."

5. "The righteous are men of virtue, whose logic is straightforward, whose dress is unostentatious, whose path is modest, whose actions are many and who are undeterred by difficulties."

6. "Choose the best among your people to administer justice among them. Choose someone who does not easily give up, who is unruffled by enmities, someone who will not persist in wrong doings, who will not hesitate to pursue right once he knows it, someone whose heart knows no greed, who will not be satisfied with a minimum of explanation without seeking the maximum of understanding, who will be the most steadfast when doubt is cast, who will be the least impatient in correcting the opponent, the most patient in pursuing the truth, the most stern in meting out judgment, someone who is unaffected by flattery and not swayed by temptation and these are but few."

Ref: Arab Human Development Report 2002

Good Governance Early Muslim Style
By Patricia Lee Sharpe

This piece, which I posted to counter anti-Muslim hysteria during the Bush administration, is probably even more relevant today, when political convenience and ignorance are combining to create a toxic environment for Muslims in America.

Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, wrote a long letter of guidance after appointing Maalik al-Ashtar to be Governor of Egypt. He advises the new governor that his administration will succeed only if he governs with concern for justice, equity, probity and the prosperity of all.

The passages excerpted below illustrate the timeless applicability of Hazrat Ali’s admonitions. The letter itself is contained in the Nahjal Balaagha, which is a collection of the letters and speeches of the fourth Caliph.

Manifest religious tolerance: Amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you [and] are brothers to you, and those who have religions other than yours, [who] are human beings like you. Men of either category suffer from the same weaknesses and disabilities that human beings are inclined to; they commit sins, indulge in vices either intentionally or foolishly and unintentionally without realizing the enormity of their deeds. Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you.

Equity is best: A policy which is based on equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the have-nots and the depressed persons overbalances the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused...if the general public and the masses of your subjects are happy with you.

The rich always want more: They are the people who will be the worst drag upon you during your moments of peace and happiness, and the least useful to you during your hours of need and adversity. They hate justice the most. They will keep demanding more and more out of State resources and will seldom be satisfied with what they receive and will never be obliged for the favor shown to them if their demands are justifiably refused.

A healthy society is interdependent: The army and the common men who pay taxes are two important classes, but in a well faring state their well-being cannot be guaranteed without proper functioning and preservation of the other classes, the judges and magistrates, the secretaries of the State and the officers of various departments who collect various revenues, maintain law and order as well as preserve peace and amity among the diverse classes of the society. They also guard the rights and privileges of the citizens and look to the performance of various duties by individuals and classes. And the prosperity of this whole set-up depends upon the traders and industrialists. They act as a medium between the consumers and suppliers. They collect the requirements of society. They exert to provide goods....Then comes the class of the poor and the disabled persons. It is absolutely necessary that they should be looked after, helped and least the minimum necessities for well-being and contented living....

Ensure an honest judiciary: You must select people of excellent character and high caliber with meritorious records. When they realize that they have committed a mistake in judgement, they should not insist on it by trying to justify it. They should not be corrupt, covetous or greedy. They should not be satisfied with ordinary enquiry or scrutiny of a case but must attach the greatest importance to reasoning, arguments and proofs. They should not get tired of lengthy discussions and arguments. They must exhibit patience and perseverance and when truth is revealed to them they must pass their judgements. These appointments must be made without any kind of favoritism being shown or influence being accepted; otherwise tyranny, corruption and misrule will reign. Let the judiciary be above every kind of executive pressure or influence, above fear or favour, intrigue or corruption.

Poverty leads to ruination: If a country is prosperous and if its people are well-to-do, then it will happily and willingly bear any burden. The poverty of the people is the actual cause of the devastation and ruination of a country and the main cause of the poverty of the people is the desire of its ruler and officers to amass wealth and possessions whether by fair or foul means.

Corruption undermines national well-being: I want to advise you about your businessmen and industrialists. Treat them well they are the sources of wealth to the country One more thing you must keep an eye over their activities as well. You know that they are usually stingy misers, intensely self-centered and selfish, suffering from the obsession of grasping and accumulating wealth. They often hoard their goods to get more profit out of them by creating scarcity and by indulging in black-marketing.

Stay in touch with the people: You must take care not to cut yourself off from the public. Do not place a curtain of false prestige between you and those over whom you rule. Such pretension and shows of pomp and pride are in reality manifestations of inferiority complex and vanity. The result of such an attitude is that you remain ignorant of the conditions of your subjects and of the actual cases of the events occurring in the State.

Peace brings prosperity: If your enemy invites you to a peace treaty never refuse to accept such an offer, because peace will bring rest and comfort to your armies, will relieve you of anxieties and worries, and will bring prosperity and affluence to your people. But even after such treaties be very careful of the enemies and do not place too much confidence in their promises be vigilant because they often resort to peace treaties to deceive and delude you and take advantage of your negligence, carelessness and trust. At the same time, be very careful never to break your promise with your enemy; never forsake the protection or support that you have offered to him, never go back upon your word and never violate the terms of the treaty.

History reveals all: Do not reserve for yourself anything which is a common property of all and in which others have equal rights. Do not close your eyes from glaring malpractice of officers, miscarriage of justice and misuse of rights, because you will be held responsible for the wrong thus done to others. In the near future your wrong practices and maladministration will be exposed and you will be held responsible and punished for the wrong done to the helpless and oppressed people."


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