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editor's note

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ILLIONS OF MUSLIMS around the world these days are preparing for a journey of a life-time -- the pilgrimage to the Ancient House of God (Al-Bayt Al-‘Atiq). They are eager to honor the call of the Friend of God, Prophet Ibrahim, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him: Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House… So make hearts among the people incline toward them… [Surat Ibrahim, 14:37] There is an overwhelming longing among Muslims for Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the first masjid ever to be established for mankind and the focal point towards which Muslims direct their faces and hearts, five times every day: Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds. In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves - then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds. [Surat Al‘Imran, 3:96-97] In the foregoing ayah, Allah honors His House describing it as blessed, a guidance to the world, and a safe sanctuary. He, moreover, makes pilgrimage to it incumbent upon those of his slaves who possess the means to do so. “Which was the first masjid ever to be established for mankind?” the Companion Abu Dharr once asked the Prophet. The Prophet replied, “Al-Masjid Al-Haram.”

Abu Dharr added, “Which one was next?” The Prophet answered: “Almasjid Al-Aqsa.” Abu Dharr then asked: “What was the time interval between the two Masjids?” He, peace be upon him, answered, “Forty years.” (Bukhari and Muslim) At Al-Masjid Al-Haram – whose foundations were laid by prophets Ibrahim and Ismael – thousands upon thousands of Allah’s prophets worshipped and prayed. It was from Makkah that the Light of Guidance radiated. It was from there that the Message of Tawhid gushed forth and flowed, inundating the whole world, changing – profoundly -- the life of its inhabitants, and establishing the greatest civilization humans have ever known. Makkah is the symbol of Muslims’ unity, the most beloved earthly spot in the eyes of Allah and his Messenger, peace be upon him. It is the place where he was born and raised. In Makkah the Prophet spent 50 years of his miraculous life, roaming its alleys, frequenting its marketplaces, and being a witness to and participating in its social and political life. It was in Makkah that Jibreel came down with the Message of Islam. It was there, from the top of Mount Safa, that the Prophet declared the great tenets of Allah’s Din, tenets that changed and continue to change the world in ways never before witnessed. Many a Muslim heart pines for Makkah. Many a Muslim soul burns to stand at ‘Arafa or spend a night at Mina or pass through Muzdalifah. Many a Muslim aches to rub shoulders with fellow Muslims at Al-Jamarat, circumambulate the Ka‘bah, and shed sincere tears at a place where du‘a’s are answered and divine Mercy alights.


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Volume 28, Issue 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 H / September-October 2016

Al Jumuah Inc.USA Publisher Prof. Mansour I. Al Mansour Editor Ahmed Elmikashfi

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Fax.: (+9661) 478 6400 AlJumuah (ISSN 10923772) is published quarterly by AlJumuah Inc. USA, 437 S. Yellowstone Dr. Suite 109B Madison, WI 53719. All rights reserved. The publication date for this issue is September 03, 2016. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior permission is prohibited. Writers’ opinions are not necessarily that of AlJumuah Magazine. Aljumuah is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided by the advertisers. Readers are encouraged to verify such information directly with the advertisers. AlJumuah Magazine reserves the right to reject any advertisement. This magazine contains some of Allah's names and Qur’anic verses. Please do not throw in the trash. Either keep, circulate, shred, or recycle.

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CONTENTS 34 40

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Ü Adab

Ü Waha

l The Station of Repentance ( Tawbah ) - 2

4

l Humum Al-Faqr The Anguish of Poverty

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Ü Article

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Ü Perspectives l Allah and Gender: Why is Allah ‘He’ Rather than ‘She’? (part 2) l Is God to Blame?

l Learning About Hajj from Hajjis

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l The Meaning of Pilgrimage

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Ü Counsel & Comment

l Unbreakable: The Spirit of Hajar

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l Shaping The Future: A Call To Parents

42 50 54

l Allah Wants To Forgive You 58

Ü Islam for Our Times l My Search for Brotherhood

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Ü The Last Word

l The Fitna of Mistreating Women

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l Creating Our Own Horizons 64

54 50


The Station of Repentance

Tawbah 2 of 3

Translations from Ibn Al-Qayyim’s Madarij Al-Salikin(Steps of the Seekers) DR. UWAYMIR ANJUM ( TRANSLATOR)

Shaikh Al-Harawi says, The essence of repentance consists of three things: i. realizing the enormity of the sin, ii. being skeptical of one’s repentance, and iii. protectiveness (ghira) for the sake of Allah, which means displeasure when Allah’s ordainments are violated and not finding excuses for the violators (including one’s own self) by blaming its inevitability (“destiny”).

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REALIZING THE ENORMITY OF ONE’S MISTAKE Unless one realizes the enormity of one’s mistakes, he or she cannot be ashamed of them or repent from them. The extent of one’s shame and regret is proportional to the extent of the perceived enormity of the sin. If one thinks he has lost a fils (read: penny), he is less worried than if he realizes that he has lost a dinar (read: a hundred or a thousand dollars). Realization of the enormity of the sin depends upon three things: • realization of the greatness of the command that one had violated, • realization of the greatness of the One who issued the command, and • certainty of the consequences.

of some external factors other than the fear of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. • Or, perhaps he repented only to avoid the inner dissatisfaction or dissonance, or to avoid Allah’s punishment in this world by taking his wealth or position. • Or perhaps simply because his motivation to commit the sin was no longer strong enough.

FEAR OF FALSE REPENTANCE A truly repentant person is never satisfied with his repentance and always fears that his repentance might not have been sufficient, complete and effective, and therefore may not be accepted. One should also be skeptical of the motives and intentions behind his act of repentance: • Perhaps he repented merely because he could not commit sins anymore, because

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ADAB • Or perhaps because he thought his sin would prevent him from obtaining the knowledge or wealth that he seeks after. These and many other factors prevent the repentance from being for the right reason: • Fear of Allah, His greatness and His commandments • Fear of losing status with Him • Fear of being deprived from His company and from sight of Him in the Day of Judgment. Obviously, such repentance for the right reason is one thing, and the earlier one for worldly or personal reasons is another. What also spoils the repentance is: • Lack of determination and orientation of the heart towards the sin, albeit small and insignificant. • Lack of self-confidence and certainty that one has truly repented, as if he were given a pledge of safety • Continued dryness of the eyes and heedlessness of the heart.

SIGNS OF TRUE REPENTANCE True, effective repentance has its own Signs: • One becomes, after the repentance, better than before it. • The fear of sin accompanies him and he does not feel safe from the grasp of Allah even by the wink of an eye. His caution does not cease until he hears at the time of the journey of his soul, Do not fear nor grieve and be pleased with the news of the Paradise that you were promised. [Surat Fussilat, 41:30] • The breaking of one’s heart (literally, cutting of the heart into pieces), meaning out of grief, regret, and fear, depending on the enormity of the mistake. Here is Ibn ‘Uyaynah’s interpretation of the verse: The building that they built

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(masjid al-dirar, built by the hypocrites of Medinah) will never cease to be a cause of doubt in their hearts, until their hearts are cut into pieces. Ibn ‘Uyaynah said that cutting into pieces here means repentance. There is no doubt that the strong fear of the punishment and loss should tear the heart into pieces. The heart must grieve --either in this world or in the hereafter-at the sins it has committed and the opportunities of good it missed. From among the signs of true repentance is a particular feeling of a broken heart, a heartache that comes from nothing else but by the regret of sinning. It does not come by hunger, or training and effort, or out of love. It is beyond all of that. The heart breaks in front of the Lord completely, in pieces. It is a breaking that


my neck bowed on the ground, my heart humbled…”

surrounds the one who sinned --from all sides-and throws him in front of his Lord humbled and broken. He finds nothing to save him from the Might of the Lord: not an escape, not a way out. The servant feels at this occasion that his life, his happiness, his success, his everything is in his Master’s pleasure with him. His Masters knows everything about his sins, while he loves and needs his Master. This moment of true repentance combines regret, humility and the humbleness of a broken heart. What could be better and more beneficial for the servant? His state cries out without words: O Lord, I ask in the name of Your Might and My lack of it, have mercy upon me! I ask in the name of Your Power and my lack of it, Your Sufficiency and my lack of it… My forehead, mistaken and wrong, is in front of You. You have many servants besides me; I have no Master but You. I have no one to turn to, nor any escape, but You. I beg You like a beggar, humbled and humiliated. I supplicated to You ridden with fear and harm. My eyes are filled with tears,

These are the signs of true repentance. Whoever fails to detect these things in his heart should blame [the quality of] his repentance and consider it deficient. How easy it is to claim by the tongue that I have repented, and what an ordeal it is to truly repent! Protectiveness for Allah’s part in [bringing about one’s] repentance is that one does find excuses for the sin and does blame “destiny” for one’s own or another’s sins by considering the sin a predestined act. Realizing that Allah is far too Merciful, Sufficient and Just to punish an excusable person, for no one loves (to forgive based on valid) excuses more than Allah, and for this very reason did he send Messengers and revealed the Books so that people will have no valid excuse, nor will they be able to argue with Allah (on the Day of Judgment). It is an established truth that there is no excuse or justification for sinning against Allah, for opposing His commands, after knowing about them, and after having the capability to [choose whether to] do or reject sins. Were there an excuse for sinning, no sinner would ever deserve punishment and blame. Whoever claims that his sinful actions were simply predestined and that he could not have avoided them, such is an ignorant transgressor --otherwise, he would know that his calamity is of his own doings. It is his own nafs (self) that deserves all the blame for transgression, for it is the source of all evil. Truly, the human being is unappreciative (kanud) of his Lord [Surat Al-‘Adiyat, 100:6]. Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid and Qatadah explain this (word kanud) as ungrateful and argumentative in regard to the gifts of Allah. Al-Hassan explains this as one who keeps count of the calamities but quickly forgets the blessings. Abu ‘Ubaydah explains this as the one with no riches or land. To be continued, insha’Allah, in Part 3...

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ADAB

Humum Al-Faqr

The Anguish of

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Translations from Sayd Al-Khatir (Quarry of the Mind) by Ibn Al-Jawzi

T IS A marvelous thing, indeed, if a man with a wife and children keeps his religion intact when his earnings have become restricted and tight. The likeness of most such men is that of water that is flowing forth. Then a barrier is set up to stop it. The water pressure builds until, over time, it bursts the barrier. This is the likeness of a man who is responsible for a wife and children when his earnings become constrained but when household needs keep coming and he becomes unable to acquire wealth in a halal (lawful) way --who then gives himself license to acquire it through dubious routes. Should his religion further weaken, he stretches his hand out to what is haram (unlawful). Now, the believer, when he realizes that he is not able to earn, strives to avoid marriage. And should he marry and have children, he strives not to overspend on his children and to be satisfied by little.

As for those who have no means of income, such as scholars and ascetics, it is very difficult for them to be saved [from moral decline] if the governing powers do not fund them and the masses of people do not take care of them. If such a person finds himself with many children, then he is not safe from the evil that an ignorant person would fall into. So whoever of these people is able to earn by copying books

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and selling, and the like, then let him do so as much as he can and reduce his spending and be satisfied with little. Regarding those of them who give themselves license to take money from an unjust authority, this is forbidden, because he is, in effect, taking money from an oppressor or a wrongdoer, while claiming that he is an ascetic. As many of these scholars who have wealth, they should

VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

strive to protect it and make it grow. For there is not left among people those who give wealth generously, nor those who give out loans. Moreover, the masses of people --rather all of the people-- have become as if they worship wealth. So he who is able to keep his wealth is able to keep his religion. Therefore, pay no attention to the advice of the ignorant who command the people [of


ADAB

And whoever fears Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of every difficulty]. Moreover, He shall provide for him from where he has never conceived. [Surat Al-Talaq, 65:2-3]

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scholarship] to give away wealth, for this is not its time. And know that if distress is not avoided, knowledge will not be gained. Nor will one be able to perform good works. Nor will one be able to busy oneself in thinking of the greatness of Allah. Those who came before us did not have such anguish, mostly because they had a yearly salary from the [State] Treasury, which was given to them and which would suffice their needs for the year, with some left over. Others were free of this worry because they had wealth with which

they did business, like Sa‘id ibn Al-Musayyib, Sufyan, and Ibn Al-Mubarak. Of his wealth, Sufyan said: If it weren’t for you, they would have disrespected me. Once, ‘Abdullah ibn AlMubarak lost some of his goods. So he wept, saying: This was what was holding my religion. In the past, the scholars found peace of mind in the munificence of their brothers. Nor did their brothers expect from them anything in return. In time, the generosity of the

people dwindled. Yet there was still enough wealth gifted for the scholars to make it. In our times, all the hands have closed in around themselves, to the point that there are few that give, even the Zakat! So how can scholars and ascetics have the peace of mind to do their work when they are busy day and night thinking how they can earn? For this reason, scholars increasingly take wealth from dubious sources. Yet remember how those scholars --when they have gathered where they should not have-- have been brought down, have been diminished, and have lost both their religion and their worldly goods. Remember also those true scholars like Ahmad and Bishr. The days that were hard for them have vanished into the past, and favorable mention has remained for them. Let him who wants to protect his wealth lighten his load as much as possible. Moreover, let him reduce his spending as much as possible. And when he feels the need to spend, let him be as patient as possible. Let him remind himself, moreover, that it is not worth acquiring—at the price of his religion—what ultimately shall disappear. Finally, know that Allah, Transcendent and Resplendent, has said: And whoever fears Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of every difficulty]. Moreover, he shall provide for him from where he has never conceived. [Surat AlTalaq, 65:2-3]

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VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016


ADAB

VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

Contact us: marketing@aljumuah.com

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ARTICLE

F

THERESA CORBIN

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VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

OR THOSE OF us who have not performed Hajj yet, it looms largely like some supernatural adventure back to the place where it all began, back home, back to Allah. It is, at least to my mind, an odyssey which I both fear and am exhilarated by.


The thought of unimaginably packed crowds, the heat, and the lack of sleep and showers are anxiety provoking. Yet, contemplating seeing the land that Hagar founded with her quick thinking to protect the well of Zamzam; the place where Prophet Ibrahim was willing to make a great sacrifice; the land where Prophet Muhammad struggled to establish Islam for it to reach us, a millennia and a

is a lot like looking at a palate of paint before the brilliant colors are used to create a masterpiece. Therefore, I have employed another investigative technique to understand the pilgrimage better. I have taken to talking to Hajji’s themselves. I have spoken with many different people from different parts of the world: I have read accounts by many of those who came before us: I have pestered friends in faith about what they saw, felt, and brought back all in hopes of finding out exactly what to expect. This is what I found:

Jalal Kassab, a Lebanese-Australian Muslim who performed Hajj in 2012, speaks about context:

half away from him, brings elation to my heart. The fifth pillar of Islam conjures up mixed feelings. And for me these feelings have produced a level of obsession that pushes me to dissect, analyze, and intimately understand the Hajj before I undertake the journey. But reading about the rituals alone

Hajj is like all else. What you put in is what you get out of it. It is a function of effort and conscientious learning. May Allah guides us and keep us steadfast on His path. Hajj is also about patience and perseverance, experiencing the absolute best and worst in human character. Hajj is not a holiday. If you think you are going on holiday with an occasional ritual in between, you have missed the spirituality or the development of Hajj. The Hajj is a combination of spiritual events …. For example, of the stoning ritual: Some are throwing large rocks and cursing shaytan [satan], as if throwing a rock will hurt him. It is the ritual commemorating what prophet

Abraham did and the stone is a mere pebble. To get a full benefit from the Hajj trip, learn your Sirah or Islamic history so as to appreciate the context of what each ritual is. [Learn:] what was the state or condition of the Muslims at the time, at Badr and Uhud, in Medina and finally when the Muslims returned to Makkah. What is the Haram (the Great Mosque of Makkah). What are its boundaries and how did Makkah survive, and then learn of course the history and biography of Prophet Muhammad to appreciate what he did and how he did it to trace back the footsteps and walk the path the Prophet walked. Regretfully, I went and learned more of this afterward. But when you do walk into the Ka‘bah you see that it looks like a cube and people moving around it. Allah the Most High does not

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live there, nor are worshippers praying to it. It is simply a direction to pray to --in an act of unity.

Malcolm X, an AfricanAmerican convert who performed Hajj in 1964, speaks about Brotherhood: There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to blackskinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. You may be shocked by these

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words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth. During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug)-while praying to the same God with fellow Muslims, whose

eyes were the bluest of the blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the ‘white’ Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana. We are truly all the same: brothers. All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.1

Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a Pakistani-British who performed Hajj in 2000, writes about first seeing the Ka‘bah I gazed upon the Ka‘bah, eyes widening with wonder. The unobstructed view blurred


ARTICLE with salty, unexpected tears. I was overwhelmed. A lump constricted my throat, then released, dislodged by a torrent of undammed, silent emotion. Tears were now flowing freely across my face, dampening the shabby veil around it. Unashamed, my feelings were vibrant with a divine energy. I continued gazing. I was unable to peel my eyes from my Maker. He was here. He was everywhere [by his knowledge]. He had gathered me. He had forgiven me. My shoulders straightened, relieved of a heavy burden. My head lifted, unbowed without the weight of perpetual shame. My heart ached as it lurched open, stretching, suddenly swollen with relief. Inside me, the force chased away debris accumulated within

once narrow, dark corners. I could hide nothing from Him and found myself no longer fearful of discovery. All my follies were exposed to my Maker and yet He loved me still. In these brief private moments. I placed the burdens of my broken life aside, discharged of shame. I stepped forward lightened, free, absolved. In a cast of millions, in that moment of electric intimacy, my Maker welcomed me. As the Prophet had said, “If you take one step toward God, He takes ten steps toward you.” I could feel Him hurtling toward me …. 2

Osman Albakheit, a Sudanese Muslim who performed Hajj in 1984, speaks about the best and the worst of Hajj: I did not expect the weather to be so hot in August --hotter than my home country Sudan where the temperature reaches 115 degrees. Hot weather has an impact on the human temper and

attitude. (In Hajj we are required to be in complete control of our temper and behavior). The greatest things that exceeded my expectations was the generosity and help of some people and the [Saudi] authorities. I expected and found the spiritual benefits; after Hajj I felt at a tremendous peace, comfort, and tranquility. [It was an] internal cleansing to my heart and soul. Also I felt unusual mental and emotional energy, although I got sick, and physically I was tired. The best thing I saw was Saudi boys [participating as] members of boy scouts helping people. [The worst thing was] to see people stampeding, fighting and cursing each other.

Jalal Alie Ahmad, an Iranian Muslim who performed Hajj in 1964, writes about the Hajj ritual of Sa‘y: This Sa‘y between Safa and Marwa stupefies a man. It takes

VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

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you right back to fourteen hundred years ago, to ten thousand years ago --it isn’t hopping, it’s simply going fast-- with its jogging, the loud mumbling, being jostled by the others, the self-abandon of the people, the lost slippers, --that will get you trampled underfoot if you go back for one moment to recover them— the glazed stares of the crowd, chained together in little groups in a state not unlike a trance … I thought it was only the sun that could not be regarded with the naked eye, but I realized today that neither can one look at this sea of eyes …

Melfi Hasan, an Indonesian Muslim who performed Hajj in 2010, speaks about the stoning of the jamarat: We performed throwing the stone at the jamarat with hundreds of thousands of people doing the same ritual at the same time; this was more like fighting. No wonder some people said that performing Hajj is some kind of physical war. You have to be physically fit to perform all those rituals. But I think, because people are fully aware that what they are doing is lillaahi ta ‘aala [for the sake of Allah], they just have the energy to do them. We threw the jamarat for 3 days in a row. And I had a different experience on each day. While we were casting the first of the jamarat, some kind of human “wave” came from behind us. We were pushed hard. After stoning, my husband looked

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around. We saw the elderly were pushed back and forth. A couple of the elderly were even pushed down [and were] almost stepped on by people. … My husband and I then went to cast the second and the third jamarat. After that, we went back to the elderly, and asked them to go to the second floor. It was less crowded there. We performed the casting of the jamarat for the elderly, to substitute for them since they couldn’t do it. They were so shocked and afraid to get into the middle of the people again. You know, Hajj is a serious business. I can tell that the Government of Saudi Arabia organized it as best they can. Regions are arranged very well so that people are organized by their regions. Like me, I am Indonesian, so we are put in the region of Asia. That happens to the jamarat too. There were so many lines to get to the jamarat building that it looks like a maze. […]

Subhanallah! the feeling of being really close to Allah was so strong just by looking at those many people ready to perform a ritual to abide by [His requirements] in the stoning event. It was an amazing experience. Every time I talk about it, it feels like thousands of words want to pour out at once.

Harry St. John Philby an Englishman who performed Hajj in 1931 as a new convert to Islam, writes about Tawwaf: I proceed with the Finance Minister’s own chaplain to the Haram, the Great Mosque of Makkah, to go through the ceremony of circumambulation of the Ka‘bah […] It was an impressive and even aweinspiring experience, but my main immediate impression of the scene and the ceremony was


you accept that fact and go with Allah, instead of fighting changes or questioning Allah’s decisions, the better your life will be. My family bond and my din [religion/way of life] have become stronger, since going on Hajj.

Michael Wolfe, an American Muslim convert who performed Hajj in 1990, writes about the trip from Mina to Arafat:

that it was all very familiar and intimate, like something vaguely remembered from a forgotten past. […] For the first time for many years I felt strangely at peace with the world. 3

Theresa (Aisha) Hadi, an American Muslim convert who performed Hajj in 2013, speaks about understanding the certainty of divine decree through Hajj: Before Hajj, I thought that things just happened and that is life. Now, I believe that everything happens for a reason and that there is no coincidence in life, none! We are exactly where we are meant to be in life and that we should never take anything for granted. We think that we control our lives, when nothing could be further from the truth. Allah controls your life and the sooner

I had been through Super Bowl gridlock in San Francisco. I knew the rush hour tunnels of New York. I had witnessed Woodstock and marched on Washington. I had never experienced a throng approaching this one. It was as if the twentieth century’s thickest tie-up had embarked on an epic travelling back into Roman times. A tricky desert sky hung over everything, compressing volumes, curving distances, befuddling the eye. The enormity of my assumption, that words could take the measure of the Hajj, caught up to me on the Plain of Arafat. I saw now why men as observant as Rutter and Burckhardt has given it two pages. At Arafat, the Hajj became too big a subject, too sprawling, too amoebic. There were no hooks by which to hoist the vista. Its edges outran the verbal frame we place around things. Its center was everywhere, confounding reason, opening hearts. […] If Arafat was a dress rehearsal for Judgement Day, one thing

seemed certain: no one would be alone there. The crowds on the road gleamed like figures from two worlds. The Hajj was at its most ethereal right now, vibrating between the real and the symbolic. Out on the sand, a man in towels marched past the can with a green flag. Suddenly it was as if we had driven into a Wallace Stevens poem. The figures in the street became figures of heaven. Men grew small in the distances of space. The blown banners seemed to change to wings […]. 4 In all the reading and conversation, I have found two things every Hajji has in common. The first is that each one’s experience is different. And the second is that performing Hajj is a profoundly life changing event, no matter your socioeconomic status, cultural background, state of spiritual connectedness, era in which you live, or region of the world from which you come. A final thought becomes clear in my mind. No matter how many people describe the rites, the sites, and sights of the Hajj, it is and shall remain something that must be experienced because it is utterly indescribable.

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1. http://www.soundvision.com/article/ Hajj -as-a-shift-against-racism-malcolm-xs-letter-from-Hajj 2.Ahmed, Q. (2008). In The Land of Invisible Women. S.l.: Pentagon Press. 3.Peters, F. E. (1994). The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 4.Wolfe, M. (2015). One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage. New York: Grove Press.

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ARTICLE

Why Makkah? MUNIRA AL-MAWDI

P

ILGRIMAGE (Hajj) --like Prayer (Salah)-- in Islam is a sequence of physical acts performed at a distinctive destination and designed to channel and to develop mankind’s innate longing to come “close’ to their Creator-Sustainer. Pilgrimage is common to the world’s religions. Central to Pilgrimage is the preparatory travel to a geographical location having a sacred history and the expectation of blessing held out to its God-seeking visitors.

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In Islam, it is not the last prophet whose service to mankind is celebrated in our Pilgrimage, but rather the first prophet about whom we know that he trusted God through thick and thin. The revelation to Muhammad instructed the people of Islam to celebrate the prophetic legacy of Abraham (Arabic: Ibrahim) as mankind’s ‘father of faith” in the Deity who Is. Abraham is the exemplary man --thousands of years before recorded history-who put his absolute trust in Allah as the one who would properly guide him and be true to His promises.

Now, who but one who fools himself could be averse to the sacred way of Abraham? For very truly, We did choose him [as a messenger] in this world. Moreover, in the Hereafter, he shall, most surely, be among the righteous [in Paradise]. [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:130] For who is of a more excellent faith than one who submits his face to God, while he excels in [doing] good and follows the sacred way of Abraham, the upright [in heart]? [Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:124] There is truly an excellent model for you in [the firm stand of] Abraham and those with him when they said to their [idolatrous] people: We are free of [association with] you and [with] all that you worship, apart from God.... [Sûurat Al-Mumtahanah, 60:4]

Pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) was instituted as one of five ‘pillars’ of Islam based on the concept that this location was the first site established for worship of the one God. Some scholars say that Abraham originally built its structure; others that he rebuilt it. We are given a sense that ancient practice was being re-instituted in the time of Muhammad, along with re-establishing pristine monotheism. For behold! We established for Abraham the place of the [Holy] House [in Makkah, saying}: You shall not associate anything with Me [as a god]. And you shall purify My House for those who circle around it [in My worship], and [who] stand, and bow, and bow [their faces] down to the ground [in the Prayer]. [Surat Al-Hajj, 22:26]

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In this place Abraham stood in meditative prayer and supplication, bowed down in reverence for service to his Lord and prostrated himself before the awesome God in absolute surrender. So behold! We made the [Sacred] House [in Makkah] a [spiritual] resort and [place of] security for all [believing] people. So take up the [marked] Station of Abraham [there,] as a place of Prayer.

[Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:125] For when his Lord said to [Abraham]: Submit yourself! He said [at once]: Willingly, I submit [my face in worship] to the Lord of [All] the Worlds. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:131-132] Makkah is the place, and the rite of joining in seven circuits around the Ka‘bah is the form of worship, that invokes that kind of relationship with one’s Maker, a place of connecting one’s

heart with the Lord “of all the worlds.” Prophet Muhammad was informed that Abraham’s subsequent godly descendants, too, had indeed, also submitted themselves to the care of the God of their fathers. Note that the Qur’anic term muslim is a functional term meaning ‘one submitted to God’ --applying to pious persons of all epochs of human endeavor: Thus Abraham enjoined his children with this [sincere devotion to God], as did Jacob, [saying] “O my children! Indeed, God has chosen for you the religion [of purity]. So take care not to die except as muslims, in willing submission to God [alone]. Or were [those of] you [who would deny this] witnesses when death approached Jacob? Behold! He said to his children: What will you worship after me? They said: We shall worship your God [alone] ... the God of your fathers --Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac-- the One [and only] God. Thus are we muslims, in willing submission to Him [alone]. [Surat AlBaqarah, 2:132-133] Indeed, God has chosen Adam and Noah, and the Family of Abraham, and the Family of ‘Imran above [the people of] all the world. They are descendants, one of another. And God is all-hearing, allknowing. [Surat Al- ‘Imran, 3:33-34] Abraham’s attachment to this center of the world’s map location is decisive.

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A view of pilgrims resting at Masjidil Haram Our Lord! I have placed some of my offspring to dwell in a valley that is infertile near Your Sacred House, our Lord, [as You have commanded], so that they may [duly] establish the Prayer [on earth]. ... My Lord! Make me steadfast in [observing] the Prayer-and also my children, our Lord. And do accept my supplication.[Surat Ibrahim, 14:37, 40] As we know in the story of Prophet Muhammad, the socalled Year of the Elephant --late in the 6th Christian century-- was the year of the new prophet’s birth, as well as the year of a decisive skirmish for the ancient pilgrimage destination in the Valley of Bakkah (Makkah), where a caravan trading center

had come to prominence. Indeed, the first House [of God] appointed for all people is that [in the valley] of Bakkah. [It is] most blessed and a [source of] guidance for all the [peoples of the] world. [Surat Al- ‘Imran, 3:96-97] Modern hajji’s do not approach this destination from a visual vantage point of viewing from afar the black-enveloped cubic structure --the Ka ‘bah-- where the modern, air-conditioned grounds ensure the comfort of its guests. The air space over encircled Makkah is today reserved exclusively for winged avian flight, and thus today’s human hajji is not able to get a bird’s eye view on his approach. But in the old days, when Makkah was

limited in population and lacked visual clutter, the pilgrim could spot the object of his desire grow more distinct as he continued his approach --and could anticipate its blessing-- after an often grueling long journey on fourlegged transport, or even on foot, many pilgrims coming from distant corners of the world. Moreover, you shall proclaim among all people the [duty of the] Hajj-Pilgrimage. They shall come to you on foot and on every lean mount. They shall come through every faraway passage that they may observe [many] benefits for themselves--and mention [much] the name of God during the known days [of Hajj-Pilgrimage] ...[Surat AlHajj, 22:27]

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So propitious and prosperous a pilgrimage site had become the Ka‘bah that, many centuries after Abraham, Abrahah, the Christian Abyssinian ruler hoped to destroy it in order to lure Makkan pilgrims, instead, to his new church in Sana (Yemen), far south on the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula. But Allah had another destiny planned for this ancient memorial associated with His beloved prophet Abraham and progenitor of prophets --Isaac Jacob -Joseph. Later prophets in Abraham’s lineage would come Jesus; then, lastly Muhammad -- a descendant of Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael (Arabic: Isma’il). As Abrahah’s war party neared Makkah, 570 CE, some fluke of extra-terrestrial phenomenon occurred: an air-borne army of combatants, wielding stone-hard blows, in surprise attack, routed the supposed military might of an elephant-reinforced contingent of invading soldiers, mowing them down with an endless barrage from the sky. Not only was there the offensive onslaught from above, but mutiny in Abrahah’s own ranks occurred when the lead elephant knelt in her tracks rather than enter Makkah. This event had taken place within the living memory of all those

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who were hearing and seeing their very own Arab messenger of God. So when the ‘Chapter of the Elephant’ --Surat Al-Fil-- was sent down to their native son, Muhammad, no one could deny that Allah was Lord of the ancient pilgrimage site in their very midst. The Lord of the Sacred House had protected and saved it from conquest. Art thou not aware of how thy Sustainer dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not utterly confound their artful planning? Thus, He let loose upon them great swarms of flying creatures which smote them with stonehard blows of chastisement pre-ordained, and caused them to become like a field of grain that has been eaten down to stubble. [Surat Al-

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Fil, 105:1-5] Millennia previously, Abraham, with Ishma’il, had erected in this very location the structure dedicated to worship of the All-Merciful, the Almighty, the All-Wise. In so doing, they had asked Allah to keep them safe from corrupted religion in the Semite sea of false deities; they had asked Allah to mandate and spell out for them a formal ritual of worship as frame of reference to ensure that they and their descendants could please their Lord for all time to come. Thus when Abraham and Ishmael raised the foundation of the [Sacred] House, [they prayed]: Our Lord! Accept this [deed] from us. Indeed, it is You, You [alone] who are the All-Hearing, the All-


Knowing. Our Lord! And make us both muslims, in willing submission to You [alone]. And [make] our children a community of muslims, in willing submission to You [alone]. And show us our [religious] rites [in your worship], and grant us repentance. Indeed, it is You, You [alone], who are the AllRelenting, the Mercy-Giving. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:127-129] Abraham knew intuitively that fleeting good intentions were not enough but that a simple set of guidelines --in synch with human psychology-- was needed to ensure that future generations were continuing on the correct spiritual path with the correct mental attitude and intention. By the time of Prophet Muhammad, Jews and Christians --with communities across the Arabian Peninsula-- were claiming Abraham as their own. Now, [some] have said: Be Jews! Or: [Be] Christians! [And then] you shall be guided [aright]. Say [to them, O Prophet]: Rather: [We follow only] the sacred way of Abraham, the [purely] upright [in heart] -- and never was he of those who associated gods with God. Say, [O believers]: We believe in [One] God, and [in] all that has been sent down to us [in the Quran]; and [in] all that has been sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and [to] the [prophets of the] Tribes [of Israel]; and [in] all that was given to Moses and

[to] Jesus; and [in all that was given to Moses and [to] Jesus; and [in] all that was given to [all] the [other] prophets from their Lord. We do not differentiate [in faith] between any of them. Thus are we muslims, in willing submission to Him [alone]. Then, if they believe in the same [creed] in which you have believed, then, truly, they are guided [aright]. But if they turn away [from the true religion], then it is they who are [the ones] in schism [with God’s religion]. Thus God shall suffice you, [O Prophet,] against them. For He is the All-Hearing, the All--Knowing. [Surat AlBaqarah, 2:135-137] Abraham was the man tested and tried by God and found trustworthy. Now, behold! Abraham’s Lord tested him with [arduous] commandments, and he fulfilled [all of] them. So [God] said [to him]: Indeed, I shall make you an exemplar for all people. [Abraham] implored [the favor of his Lord]: And [the same for] my descendants? [God] said: [The promise of] my covenant shall not extend to the wrongdoers [among them who are godless in heart].  [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:124] The Sacred House in Makkah was to be the place to honor the integrity and disposition of Abraham, a model of godliness for mankind. Abraham’s monument was to be a purified

place for all believing people, those who were ready to bend the knee (in ruku‘) and to prostrate the forehead (in sujud) before their Lord in reliance upon Him: Moreover, We covenanted with Abraham and Ishmael: [You shall] purify My House for all those who shall circumambulate [it in worship; and for all those who shall] retreat [there; and for all those who shall both] bow, and bow [their faces] down to the ground, [in Prayer there]. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:125b] The rituals of Hajj are another subject altogether, but the general purpose of performing Hajj is straightforward and clear: And when you have performed your acts of worship, [continue to] bear God in mind as you would bear your own fathers in mind - nay, with a yet keener remembrance! For there are people who [merely] pray, “O our Sustainer! Give us in this world”- and such shall not partake in the blessings of the life to come. But there are among them such as pray “O our Sustainer! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come, and keep us safe from suffering through the fire”: It is these that shall have their portion [of happiness] in return for what they have earned. ...Hence, remain conscious of God, and know that unto Him you shall be gathered.  [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:200-203]

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Unbreakable: The Spirit of Hajar ZAINAB BINT YUNUS

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N A BARREN desert, under a blistering sun, a woman leaned against the trunk of a twisted tree, cradling her infant and trying to shield him from the merciless elements. With only a small water-skin and a bag of dates that was already worrisomely light, she watched as her husband turned his back on her and walked away. As he drew further and further away, she couldn’t bear it anymore. “Are you leaving us?” she called out to him. She received no response; the only sound was that of his footsteps in the sand, leaving behind no footprints. “Are you leaving us in this valley, where there is no one and nothing?” she cried out again, looking down at her son’s tiny face. Her heart lurched with panic at the idea of being alone in this empty place, desolate as it was - and then, almost instantly, another thought occurred to her and her heart leapt instead with a sense of certainty. Intuitively, she knew that despite the circumstances, nothing would harm her or her son; something greater awaited her, though she had no idea what it was.

“Has Allah commanded you to do this?” she asked, her voice steady. The man paused, and nodded. “Then He will never neglect us,” she said quietly. Unseen by Hajar, her husband smiled sadly and then, when he was out of sight, raised his hands in supplication. Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in

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an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. [Surat Ibrahim, 14:37] Behind him, leaning against the tree, Hajar (English: Hagar)

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prepared herself for a future which held far more than she could ever imagine. I am satisfied to be with Allah, she murmured,1 and knew that no matter how empty the desert was around her, she would never be truly alone. In that one moment, this woman’s intuition, and her trust and certainty in her Lord, made her one of the greatest


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Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. [Surat Ibrahim, 14:37]

individuals in all of history. Hajar went from being an unknown slave woman in Egypt to a symbol of spiritual conviction, deep insight, and decisive action. Although she is best known as the wife of Prophet Ibrahim and the mother of Isma‘il (English: Ishmael), she was recognized by Allah and His Messenger in her own right. Her story is one of those which we repeat often, familiar to us all, and yet one which holds so much more for us than merely the rote lessons we have been taught. Her words, echoing in the desert, rang strong with tawakkul (reliance) upon Allah, but her words were far more than a hollow spiritual mantra. Hajar was a woman who did not allow her circumstances

to overwhelm or control her; she was not content to simply declare faith in God while remaining passive. Instead, Hajar exemplified what it meant to be pro-active and determined even in the face of obstacles seemingly impossible to overcome. Stranded in the desert, surrounded by sand and little else, with a child dependent upon her for survival, Hajar was not content to remain idle or to surrender herself to the seemingly inevitable, or to await a miracle from the heavens to be handed to her. She seized control where there was little to be had. Determined to find something to change her condition, she strode between Safa and Marwa, unrelenting in her persistence. She was acutely aware of the fact that her position was not

an easy one, and that her son’s life was in jeopardy. No doubt, it would have been all too easy for her to break down into tears, to allow herself to be a victim of circumstances, or to be paralyzed by fear. However, Hajar chose instead to place her trust in Allah and actively pursued a course of action which --though it may have seemed futile to anyone watching-- exemplified her spirit of resilience and purposefulness. Nor did she give up after one or two attempts, and accept failure as an option --or as the likely outcome. Seven times - in the blazing heat, her infant’s wails ringing in her ears even as the land around her remained deafeningly silent - seven times did Hajar ascend the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, seven times did

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Muslim pilgrims reach Safa mount from Marwah mount.

she struggle to seek sustenance and aid for herself and her child, seven times did she push herself past the limits of her weariness and her worry… Then, and only then, once she had done everything she possibly could, did Allah send the angel Jibril (English: Gabriel) from the seven heavens to the earth, to dig his wingtip into the parched earth and release the flowing waters of Zamzam. Yet even then, as the pure, crystalline liquid poured over her hands, Hajar didn’t allow herself to get swept up in the moment. With brilliant foresight, she knelt down and formed the first boundaries of what will forever be known as the Well of Zamzam. And even when Allah fulfilled the du‘a’ of Ibrahim by sending the tribe of Jurhum to settle in that once-barren land, Hajar never let herself become complacent or naively think that all her problems were solved. “You may use the water,” she told the tribes people, “but it will always belong to me and my son.” Her words were a sign of her shrewd foresight; not only

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was she protecting herself and Isma‘il, but she was preserving a miraculous legacy for all of humankind. The waters of Zamzam remain safeguarded and cherished as a reminder of Allah’s innumerable blessings even in times of severe tribulation. “May Allah have mercy on the mother of Isma‘il!” the Prophet supplicated for her,2 and we too echo his words --for in Hajar we have the most beautiful and enduring story of a believer’s test of faith in a hopeless time, a single parent’s struggle for survival against all odds. Today, the Muslim Ummah has many others like Hajar, single mothers and single fathers alike; those who have found themselves unexpectedly on their own, stranded by fate in circumstances beyond their choosing, and left with only their trust in Allah and their own indomitability to help them traverse this unforeseen destiny. These women and men are an example for us all: like Hajar,

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they do not let themselves be victims of circumstances, but are determined to find a solution regardless of how hopeless their plight may seem. They rely upon Allah, knowing that He is Al-Razzaq (the Provider), and knowing also that He will not change the situation of a person unless they change themselves. 3 In a world where it is increasingly difficult to raise a family, these single parents push themselves beyond what many of us could imagine --unfaltering in their belief in their Lord, their desire to raise their children to love Him and worship Him,

Source of zamzam.


ARTICLE and to protect them from the harsh realities of poverty, social injustice, and more. Alas, many Muslims do not honor these heroes and heroines of our Ummah as they deserve to be honored. Far too many of us view single parents as somehow lacking, or less worthy of respect. We do not realize that the struggles they are experiencing are in fact the same ones that Hajar went through herself --for which she was honored by the Lord of the Worlds, Who decreed that it was obligatory for every Muslim to follow in her footsteps between Safa and Marwa during both Hajj and Umrah. How can we claim to fulfill the spirit of the pilgrimages if our feet travel between those two mountains, yet our hearts remain unmoved by the greatness of Hajar, and all those who embody her spirit on a daily basis? Hajar is a woman whose story is an inspiration to us all, whether single parents or otherwise. She was an individual who refused to take on the identity of victimization, an attitude of helplessness, or acceptance of failure; she knew that while Allah would never abandon her, she could not abandon herself either. No matter what difficult straits we find ourselves in financial, emotional, or otherwise - it is Hajar whom we should remember when we are tempted to surrender ourselves to a sense of defeat. Her taqwa, her tawakkul, and her spirit of resilience was stronger than the landscape she traversed: a true heroine of Islam.

e s i t r e Adv ! s U h Wit

........................................ 1.http://sunnah.com/bukhari/60/44 2.http://sunnah.com/bukhari/60/43 3.Surat Al-Ra‘d, 13:11

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My Search for Brotherhood DANIELLE LODUCA

By Allah Favor: Brotherhood There it is in the Quran: And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided. [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:103] “Hold firmly, all Together.” It doesn’t say born Muslims hold firmly all together; or Arab Muslims hold on all together. The ayah before this says, O you who have believed, be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him and do not die except as Muslims.  [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:102] This refers to every single one of us who believe in God and His Messengers – regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender or how new one may be to the faith. The rope of Allah is one. The Quran --His guidance-- is what tethers us to our Lord and to true success. But by our divisiveness, we risk losing sight of this and straying.

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Me and Myself – Two Sides Collide The relationship progressed. Developing into a conversation within myself. Rational, critical thinker, mocker of the faithful – how could I now be a believer? Helplessly swept away by words that took hold of my being, reinforced my spirit and satisfied my soul. Harmoniously reconciled, not compromised; I surrendered like one in complete love. Both intellect and heart at ease, I became excited and enthusiastic. And the relationship progressed. I moved beyond the ink and paper of books, beyond the acceptance of a new internal and external paradigm. For the first time since I was a child, silently speaking to God alone in the dark of my room, it was directly between Allah and me.

Me and the Lord of the Worlds I had thought I was alone. But I was never alone. Not for a minute. My secrets had been known. The questions I hadn’t even acknowledged consciously had been answered. My feet felt firmly planted and adrenaline rushed through my veins as I woke in the watches of the night to pray. Me. Recklessly independent me. Ask my parents if they could ever nail me down, hold me

back. I was the one who learned through mistakes, who had to touch it, feel it, see it, to believe it. Their words and cautions almost always fell on unyielding ears. Like a scientist, I needed to test everything first. But this was different. Certain of the wisdom of the Words of my Lord: • “Be not loud in speech,” my speech became tamer and mellow. • “Intoxicants and games of chance are the handiwork of the devil,” and not a single drop of wine would touch my lips. • “Spread the salam.” (Muslim), Al-salamu ‘alaykum, Peace be upon you.

Isolation It was great growing as a new Muslim. I continued learning and becoming more and more confident. What wasn’t so great, was suddenly being a Muslim amongst my old circles of friends. As I completed college, friends and fellow students would ask, “So, what are your plans after graduation?” and it became typical for those who asked to hear, “I want to learn more about Islam.” That was precisely my post-graduate plan. I easily dismissed the raised eyebrows, shrugs and resigned responses, “uh…. well, I hope that works out for ya…” because the happiness Islam had brought to me, the peace, was worth more

than pleasing anyone …. But I never imagined how hard it would really be. Islam is more than worship and faith; it’s a lifestyle. So it became difficult to walk down a familiar street, where familiar people might also be walking. I began dreading to encounter anyone I knew. I wanted to run away with my Islam. So that’s what I did. I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn nearby a large Muslim population. There were mosques within walking distance, and halal meat. Still, no one knew I was Muslim. I gradually craved to meet my Muslim brethren. I longed for the companionship and love for the sake of Allah. After all, Allah emphasized this fraternity and bid us to stick together. But I was busy. Working. Learning... Timid. But I got to a point where I could say it. I could allow the words to escape my lips, “I’m a Muslim.” Everyone around me was new. They didn’t know about how I had once disdained and mocked religions. They hadn’t giggled beside me at the evangelists handing out Bibles on the street corner. I felt so much less pressure not having to explain. It felt good to announce with a smile, “I’m a Muslim.”

Donning the Uniform Hijab was the next step after that. It was very strange... can you think of wearing something

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that appears to be very out of character? Like if a cool biker dude suddenly showed up in a preppy sweater and oxfords. I wanted with a passion to cover – but I couldn’t help but fear how I would be perceived. I finally did it by the mercy and help of Allah, alhamdulillah. One day I was just another person moving through the city, and the next day, everyone would know me as a Muslim.

In Search of Community I mustered up the courage to go to a mosque. My first attempts were failures, I turned away from signage in foreign languages, feeling alien. I waited outside the closest mosque several mornings at dawn, having found the door locked. I walked alone around the block and came back, still locked. Maybe they didn’t open for Fajr. I never did find out. Finally, one night in Ramadan, I trekked to a large Islamic center in uptown Manhattan. I was at once hesitant, anxious and eager to meet my Muslim sisters - To stand shoulder to shoulder with them. To recite Al-Fatihah while they were also reciting it, calling on the Almighty, in unison, in solidarity. To stand with them; our purposes and intentions directed in the same way, a fortress against evil and in reverence of the One True God. In my heart and my mind

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every Muslim was my sister or brother. I greeted them eagerly, enthusiastically. It was beyond exciting to pass them on the street –There they were, my ummah, My family in faith. I was oozing with love.

Down to Earth Since then I’ve come crashing down to earth. Okay, I get it.  Muslims are human: diverse in personality, at different points in their journeys in faith, with faults, limitations, emotions... We were created weak. Islam is not a mind-control device or a magic pill; but, my brothers and sisters, can’t we do better? I believe we can. We have to. The believing men and women are allies to one another. [Surat Al-Tawbah, 9:71] Islam gives us the very best guidelines and inspires us to be our best selves. Our faith is incomplete without the crucial understanding and application of brotherhood. Think of a single drop of water -- how insignificant it is on its own. Yet millions upon millions of raindrops can form a river -- powerful, beneficial and abundant with life.

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In this key ingredient lies our ability to flourish as a people, by Allah’s Grace. Our disunity is a colossal disservice, not only to ourselves, but to humanity. If we are not united and inviolable - allies to one another-- how on earth can we be bearers of the message of the Lord of the Worlds? How can we achieve any goals

of magnitude when Allah has commanded us not to divide? And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.  [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:103] In the next article I intend to address some of the root causes of our division and practical advice to help us reinstate the solidarity and love that we are so sorely missing.


WAHA

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of Mistreating Women THERESA CORBIN

Y

OU ARE Fitna! If you’re a Muslim woman, it’s likely that you have heard this a thousand times. You might have even been convinced that your own existence is somehow bad or the cause of evil. “Women are Fitna” has unfortunately turned into a blanket statement and a kind of religious manipulation to keep women from participating in, well, pretty much everything including their own lives. Much of what Muslim women face in terms of oppression is because many misunderstand the meaning of one particular hadith: I have not left behind me any fitna more harmful to men than women. (Bukhari)

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And this misinterpretation plays out in very real and destructive ways in Muslim women’s lives.

Fitna in Driving? Maha Salman recalls a trip to her husband's country, where she was unaware of cultural standards. She ended up feeling traumatized after being told she had caused fitna. Salman says, “While I was visiting with my

family, I needed to get something out of the car. I put on my outer garments, grabbed the keys, and went to the parking garage. As I approached the car with car keys in hand, one of the [morality police] started running toward me yelling fitna and something else in Arabic that I didn’t understand.” While disallowing women to drive is seen in few countries, it is still based on the “religious” assumption that women driving, in their particular local context, will lead to fitna, or a door to sin, in many ways. Yet we know that in the Prophet's time his wives rode camels, the modern equivalent to driving. The Prophet said: The best women among the camel riders are the righteous women of the Quraysh. (Bukhari)

The best women among the camel riders are the righteous women of the Quraysh. (Bukhari)

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ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES

Fitna in the Mosque? Tayiba Haqq remembers a time when she was made to feel less than human when she was refused entrance in a masjid in the U.S. She recalls, “We [she and her husband] were out and time for prayer came. So we looked for a place to pray and found a masjid. When I went in to pray, a big man came out and told me I wasn’t allowed to come in, even though I was fully covered and only my hands, feet, and face were showing. He welcomed my husband in but refused me. I had

"People are told that it [preventing women from entering the mosque] is because women beautify themselves when going out, and cause fitna or religious strife in the community." to pray out in the parking lot. And I am an old woman. I felt so disrespected.” Haqq’s experience is not atypical. According to the blogger known as Woodturtle, “People are told that it [preventing women from entering the mosque] is because women beautify themselves when going out, and cause fitna or religious strife in the community [...].” [1] However, having little space for women, and even disallowing women to enter the masjid because of some

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perceived fitna, flies in the face of the saying of the Prophet: Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from going to the mosque. (Abu Dawud)

Fitna in Public Spaces? Shahnaz Iqbal was excited to move to Egypt when she heard her husband wanted to return to his homeland. But what she found when she arrived was that she was seen only as a target.

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She says, “I never wanted to leave the house, you know. I felt anxiety all the times. Men’s eyes were always on me, or men would start following me, saying disturbing things. My husband said that they [the men who were harassing her] think they can get away with it because they think all women are fitna and deserve to be harassed if they come out of the home.” Many women suffer from this


ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES kind of treatment in public in majority Muslim countries even when wearing proper hijab. [2] Men feel the right to mistreat women in this way, claiming that women cause fitna for them. This is the unfortunate and predominant attitude toward women even though the Quran puts equal responsibility on men to maintain appropriate conduct:

women in all areas of life, really want this saying of his to be used in a way that oppresses women?

Defining Fitna

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. [Surat Al-Nur 24:30] The term “fitna” is often used as a weapon against women, a way to silence us, to afford minimal space for us, keep us out of the public sphere, financially dependent, and hidden. But can this interpretation really be the intentions of the hadith in

question? Would our Prophet, who sought counsel from women, who encouraged his wife to be taught the healing arts, who deeply loved a businesswoman, and encouraged

How we view women and this hadith all depend on how we define fitna in this case. In the Quran, we see that fitna is mentioned several times and in different contexts with different meanings. However, many people take the strictest interpretation when women are involved, like the interpretation of Ibn Al-Athir, “Fitna: trial or test … The word is often used to describe tests in which something disliked is eliminated.” [3] And this is exactly the way many Muslim women are made to feel when they are refused space in the masjid, in public, on the road, and in many other ways. But can we honestly claim that women are disliked and something to be eliminated when Allah says in the Quran:

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ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise? [Surat Al-Tawbah 9:71]

twin halves of each other. (Bukhari) But the test, or the fitna of a woman, is a reflection on a man’s own character, and whether he treats women well or not. Furthermore, by putting the entire burden of appropriate Islamic behavior on women, some men are really admitting that they would rather oppress someone else, even fellow

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The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals. And the best among them are those who are best to their wives? (Tirmidhi)

And from amongst His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, so that you may dwell in tranquility with them. [Surat Al-Rum 30:21]

And know that your worldly goods and your children are but a trial and a temptation [fitna], and that with God there is a tremendous reward. [Surat Al-Anfal 8:28]

Men and women are

Will men treat women well? Or with disrespect, harassment, and harshness? How will men pass or fail this test? Do they measure up to the hadith:

Do men live with their mates in tranquility, or at least strive to achieve that, as it is mentioned in the Quran?

If we take a look at the context in which fitna is used in the Quran when people are involved, we will see that fitna means something very different than something inherently bad.

In this meaning, people can be seen as a test or fitna for others. A test is meant to determine who the tested really is. It is not a comment on the thing by which we are tested. Children are not considered inherently evil. But how well we treat our children and whether we allow our children to distract us from remembrance of Allah determines the good or bad within us, not the nature of children. The same can be said for how men treat women. Women are not inherently evil, less than men, or somehow disliked by Allah. The Prophet said:

lives.

Muslims, than to exercise any amount of self-control— all under the guise of a misinterpretation of fitna.

More than a Test of Strength over Sexual Desires This hadith is often caught up in the politics of sexuality, modesty, and desire. But more than that, the hadith in question does not mention anything in specific about men’s weakness when it comes to sexual desire for women. It simply states that women will be a fitna for men. Men will be tested in their treatment of the women in their

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Or will men simply throw their hand up in the air, call “fitna”, and act upon their base desires? We cannot continue to claim that Islam gave women their rights 1400 years ago if we insist on taking those rights away through misinterpretation. We must rethink the ways in which we apply this kind of thinking of women as “fitna,” especially when it results in the oppression of our mothers, sisters, wives— oppression of our fellow human beings. ____________________ [1] http://muslimmatters. org/27/11/2010/telling-womenwhere-to-pray/ [2] http://egyptianstreets. com/05/03/2015/the-moralepidemic-of-egypt-99-ofwomen-are-sexually-harassed/ [3] https://islamqa.info/en/22899


PERSPECTIVES


ُ َ َ َْ ُ ّ َّ َ َ ْ‫كم‬ ُ ِ ‫قد ج َاءكم بصائِر مِن رب‬ َْ َ َ َ ْ ْ ََ َ‫سهِ ۖ َو َم ْن َع ِم‬ ِ ‫ۖ فمن أبص فلِنف‬ ُ َْ َ ََ ََ َََْ َ َ ‫يظ‬ ٍ ِ‫فعليها ۚ وما أنا عليكم ِبف‬ There has come to you enlightenment from your Lord. So whoever will see does so for [the benefit of] his soul, and whoever is blind [does harm] against it. And [say], “I am not a guardian over you.” [Surat Al-An’am, 6:104]

Proverb

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PROPHETIC GUIDANCE

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough, but not baked in the same oven.

Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By seizing his hand.”

__Yiddish Proverb

(Bukhari and Muslim)


WAHA

Anecdote There was this old man sitting with two friends at a coffee shop. One asked him what he considered the most important thing he had learned in his long life. He answered: As a young man, I was self-assured, full of enthusiasm, and used to pray to God to help me change the world. Then when I became 40, I realized that my life was already half over, and I washonest enough with myself to admit that I had influenced no one and changed nothing. So I prayed to God to help me change the people closest to me, all of whom had many imperfections and harmful habits. Still no one listened to me, and my relationships became even more difficult. Now I’m an old man and my prayer is simple indeed. I ask God to give me the strength and determination to change myself.

Scholarly Insights Commenting on Allah’s saying And We shall smooth your way to perfect ease (Surat Al-A‘la, 87:8], Sayyid Qutb remarked: This is a glad tiding for the Prophet personally and for the Islamic nation at large. It is furthermore a statement of the nature of Islam, its role in human life, and in the universe. This verse, which is rendered in Arabic in no more than two words— [wa nuyassiruka li’l-yusra]—states one of the most fundamental principles of faith and existence. It provides a link between the nature of the Prophet, the nature of Islam, and that of the whole universe. It is a universe created by Allah with ease. It follows its appointed way with ease. And it draws nearer it final objective with ease. Thus it is an inspiration lighting limitless horizons. If Allah smooths a certain person’s path, he finds ease in everything in life. For he will move along his way to Allah, as does the universe, which is characterized by its harmony of construction, movement, and direction.... Ease will pervade his whole life. It will be evident in his hand, tongue, movement, work, ideas, way of thinking, conducting all affairs, and tackling all matters; ease with himself and with others as well.

Play & Learn - Matching List Match the items in the left column to the items in the right column. The correct answers will appear in the next Issue of Shumul. Good luck!

Match Up 1. Hatib ibn Abi Balta‘ah

A. One of the Prophet’s poets

2. K‘ab ibn Malik

B. One of the Prophet’s scribes

3. Khalid ibn Al-Waleed

C. A prominent leader of the Ansar

4. S‘ad ibn Mu‘az

D. The Prophet’s envoy to the King of Copts

5. Mu‘awayiah ibn Abi Sufyan

E. Died in 21 H.

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PERSPECTIVES

IN PART 1 we looked at biological gender as associated with male vs. female, with ‘masculine’ vs. ‘feminine,’ and with ‘he’ vs. ‘she’—and how this intersects with our understanding of Allah. Here we focus on gender as a feature of language and how this insight clears away the concerns of feminists regarding an inferred connection of biological gender in association with Allah.

Allah and Gender: Why is Allah ‘He’ Rather than ‘She’? (Part 2) LINDA THAYER

Language And Linguistic Considerations So, if it is true that there is no biological gender bias detectible on the part of Allah, then why would ‘Allah’ be referred to in the Quran as ‘He,’ ‘Him,’ ‘His,’ and ‘Himself’ –using masculine gender words and never using words denoting the feminine gender: ‘She,’ ‘Her,’ ‘Herself’?

Some would reason: Doesn’t that usage of the masculine pronoun ‘He’ (Arabic: huwa) PROVE that Allah is more male than female? Or that He leans more favorably to men than to women? Or that

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the primacy of men is intended in the family or in society because the man is more like Allah in His universal domain than are women? After all, Allah is quite flexible in the Quran, with

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self-references sometimes also employing the pronouns ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘Mine,’ or the plural forms ‘We,’ ‘Us,’ ‘Ours. ‘ Verily, I am Allah: There is no god but Me; so


PERSPECTIVES serve Me (only)…  [Surat Ta Ha, 20: 14] But this flexibility does not extend to using a feminine pronoun, ‘She’ (Arabic: hiya). In fact, the Quran is perfectly clear: None of us, men or women, are at all ‘like’ Allah in any sense: Say, ‘He, God, is One, God, the Eternally Sufficient unto Himself. He begets not; nor was He begotten. And none is like unto Him.’ [Surat Al- Ikhlas, 112: 1-4] So why the common use of ‘He’ and never the use of ‘She’?

Language As Cultural Heritage If the Arabs who first heard the new revelation were no longer to give credence to their presumed gods and goddesses—male and female deities—how was the one God to be categorized if He is neither male nor female in the sense that each individual human being—biologically and socially—belongs to one category or the other? Well, for one thing, the Arabic noun ilah, ‘god’/’goddess,’ has what looks like a grammatically ‘feminine’ noun ending {-ah}. Perhaps the one true God, Allah, needed to be maximally differentiated from ilah, a false god or idol, by which I mean that the NOUN Allah should be grammatically masculine rather than grammatically feminine. Was this a deliberate choice in order to reject, or to

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PERSPECTIVES avoid confirming, the cultural favoritism to female-ness in deity? Even the name ‘Allah’ has what looks like a ‘feminine’ grammatical ending {-ah}, which one could presume to indicate female associations. How to disassociate the name Allah from the Arabian goddesses (AlLat, Al–‘Uzza and Manatin Sûrat Al-Najm, 53:19-21 and Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:117)? Perhaps by referring to Allah using the grammatically ‘masculine’ PRONOUNS, ‘He’, ‘His,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Himself.’ Could it be that the grammatically ‘masculine’ pronoun, ‘He,’ is a calculated choice (or possibly a purposeful displacement of “She”) in order to avoid some of the implications of female-ness in traditional Middle East religion? Not only was there the Mother Goddess (see Part 1), commonly found more widely throughout polytheistic religions around the world, but polytheistic forces were commonly associated with female persons (a prophetess, an oracle) and processes (an oracular delving into the unseen world – ‘divination‘)—to be addressed elsewhere. Of course, the impetus for this avoidance in the Qur’anic scheme of things is merely my speculation—suggested by the fact that it was notably females who were employed as prophetic oracles and as the major deity in many pagan cultures. Maybe one of our readers can speak to this point more authoritatively in regard to ancient Arabian society.

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Grammar: Special Use of The Feminine Gender We do know that Arabic has special categories of usage involving the feminine form—for example, in Arabic grammar: collectives of irrational living beings—and [those] from which nouns of unity ending in {-ah} (Arabic: taa marbuta) cannot be formed—are feminine [in grammatical ‘gender’] e.g., 

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khailun,’horses ‘; ibilun,  ‘camels.‘ 1 So, perhaps the masculine category, by default, would have to be the correct choice for anything not in the special [feminine] grammatical category, in the case of wanting to avoid negative associations with nouns belonging to the basic feminine grammatical gender. (I’m credentialed as a linguist, not as an Arabist, so I can only make a linguistically reasonable extrapolation…) This


assignment of the name ‘Allah’ to the masculine grammatical gender would thus constitute a case of avoiding overuse of the specialuse ‘feminine’ grammatical category. Again, I am hazarding an ‘educated guess.’

The ‘Royal We.’ The Semitic languages (most prominently Arabic and Hebrew) have a grammatical category called the Royal We, or the Plural of Majesty. ‘We’ indicates a dignity that is deserved of the [singular] speaker by reason of some unique characteristic. This grammatically plural form ‘We’ is used for a restricted category of speakers speaking in reference, each to himself alone: persons in power, like kings, or in management positions. In the case of Allah, of course, He is maximally unique in every way when compared with His creation—something which we can never afford to minimize. This plural form is sometimes used in the Quran—as in the Bible—for Allah / God to refer to Himself. There is sometimes even a shift within the same verse or passage among forms of ‘He,’ ‘We,’ and ‘I.’

Quran: And indeed, [O Prophet,] even before thy time did We send [Our apostles] unto communities of old — and never yet came an apostle to them without their deriding him… [Surat AlHijr, 15:10-15]

And God has said: ‘Do not take to worshipping two [or more] deities. He is the One and Only God:  hence, of Me, of Me alone stand in awe!’ And His is all that is in the heavens and on earth, and to Him [alone] obedience is always due:  will you, then, pay reverence to aught but Him? [Surat Al-Nahl, 16:51-52] And God has said: ‘Do not take to worshipping two [or more] deities. He is the One and Only God:  hence, of Me, of Me alone stand in awe!’ And His is all that is in the heavens and on earth, and to Him [alone] obedience is always due:  will you, then, pay reverence to aught but Him?  [Surat Al-Nahl, 16:51-52] Thus, indeed, have We given in this Quran many facets to every kind of lesson [designed] for [the benefit of] mankind.  [Surat Al-Kahf, 18:54] Verily, We create man in the best conformation… [Surat Al-Tin, 95:4]

Bible: Then God said, ‘and now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. … He created them male and female…  [Genesis 1:26-27] ‘We’ is an alternative to using the singular ‘He’ or ‘I.’ The royal ‘We’ represents dignity and power, not ‘distribution’ of deity (as Trinitarian Christians sometimes argue out of grammatical ignorance). For those who are put off by the use of huwa (‘He’) in Arabic because of what they assume to be God’s preference for his male creatures, perhaps this use of ‘We’ and ‘I’ can serve to reassure them –if still not convinced—that Allah is neither a biological ‘He’ nor a

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PERSPECTIVES male-favoring ‘He.’

Not ‘He’ And Not ‘She’ In the light of the slack in grammatical gender categories, would it be appropriate in English to refer to God as ‘It,’ and thus to avoid the unwanted association with biological gender? Probably not, since we feel that the ‘neuter’ pronoun ‘it’ is appropriate generally for inanimate items; thus, using ‘It ‘for the unique, Living and Life-Giving Creator would have the effect of lowering the regard given to a Being like Allah, Whom we experience as having the dignity much above and beyond that owed to a human ‘person.’ In any case, Arabic has no third gender category as an option for ‘Allah’; English does have a third grammatical gender category (‘It ‘), but considers it demeaning and inappropriate to use in reference to ‘God’/ ‘Allah.’ Modern feminists who refer to God as ‘She’ are likely implying that men have made a mess of the world and women would do a better job at fixing` it—and that therefore God is better honored with the ‘feminine’ pronoun to identify with their personal concerns. Even feminists are not likely to opt for ‘It’ as opposed to ‘He’ in reference to Deity.

Huwa As for inventing a new pronoun for talking exclusively about Allah—so as to avoid cultural implications of biological gender, both male and female—

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how would we deal with the fact that the Quran has used the grammatically ‘masculine’ pronoun huwa—given that the Quranic Text is not open to change?! So then, what about pursuing an Allah-unique pronoun in other languages, to be used in translations of the Quran?  It would be gratifying to find a readymade Allah-specific pronoun, maybe in ancient ‘ProtoSemitic’ language forms, or in any other language. But until then we might just want to stick with the Arabic pattern or with whatever pattern each target-language of translation already has in place. After all, is there any longer a problem here with huwa—now that we know that languages have word classes and that the noun class (grammatical ‘gender’) representing the biological male gender happens to overlap with the grammatical word class chosen for thousands of other words, including the name ‘Allah’ (when Allah, Himself, has no biological gender)? The key information here is that the two functions—biological gender and grammatical gender— are neither identical nor co-extensive.  We simply have a choice of two sets of pronouns—

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(a) ‘he – his – him – himself’’ and (b) ‘she – her – herself’— doing double-duty, meaning that they are used ambiguously— used both grammatically and biologically. Can’t we live with that, now that we understand something of linguistic structure?

In Sum: Grammatical Gender Vs. Biological Gender So, now to summarize in answer to our main question, Why is Allah a ‘He’ and not a ‘She’? Allah is not—as we first presumed—to be identified as ‘a He.’ He is not a biologically-


PERSPECTIVES male Being, nor is He closer to male human beings than He is to female persons. ‘He’ when applied to Allah is not about matching biological gender: For Allah begets not; nor was He begotten—and beyond that, ‘He’/ ‘Allah’ is unlike any being in ‘His’ creation (Surat Al-Ikhas 112:3-4), whether male or female. The use of ‘He / His / Him’ is about the fact that the name ‘Allah’ in Arabic, as in many other human languages —by necessity— must belong to one particular noun/pronoun class and not to another. In Arabic, the name ‘Allah’ belongs to the grammatical gender category labeled ‘masculine’—and not to the other, the one labeled ‘feminine.’ We have looked at possible grammatical reasons for the choice of the pronoun huwa (‘He’) over hiya (‘She’) to stand in for the noun ‘Allah’ in Arabic. We explored the special usages of the ‘feminine’ class and found that the special uses of the feminine noun class in Arabic did not include any language categories appropriate for the name Allah. Thus there was lack of reason to assign ‘Allah’ to the feminine class based on special usage. On the other hand, there were cultural reasons to avoid assignment to the regular feminine grammatical class in which pagan female religious figures have been associated — female humans in the role of ‘prophetess’ or ‘seer’ or ‘oracle’ (insha’Allah, to be addressed elsewhere)—as well as

the associations of the ‘feminine’ grammatical class with a pagan [female] goddess. These factors may have counted in terms of pressure away from the assignment of the noun ‘Allah’ to the regular ‘feminine’ grammatical gender—even though the noun ‘Allah’ ends in {-ah} and thus looks like a feminine noun. Accordingly, the noun ‘Allah’ would be left, by default, to be assigned to the regular, ‘masculine’ noun grammatical class (= “masculine gender”). Recall that in Arabian society, people thought of the alleged goddesses like Al-Lat, Al–‘Uzza and Manat, as ‘daughters’ of Allah (Surat Al-Nahl, 16:5157). With Al-Lat being the Arab equivalence of the Mother Goddess, one could imagine an urgency for distancing the concept of true Deity away from the awe-inspiring female reproductive force in nature. Allah creates—He does not beget (Surat Al-Ikhlas, 112: 3); thus, He has neither ‘sons’ nor ‘daughters,’ contrary to Arabian concerns. It is not Allah who belongs to a ‘masculine’ gender—meaning association with a human biological gender. It is His name, the noun word ‘Allah,’ that belongs to the grammatical gender labeled ‘masculine’—rather than to the grammatical gender labeled ‘feminine.’ This grammatical gender of the name of Allah should not be a red flag for those selfidentified ‘feminists’ among us, or for anyone else, once

we understand how language works: The existence of noun grammatical categories (‘genders ‘) has forced choice from among a set of predetermined categories, which are often not as logically structured as the analytical descriptions we try to make for them—due to the ongoing development of language over the centuries and due to its uneven change. It is unfortunate that the same term, “gender” is employed in both a biological sense and a grammatical sense, thus suggesting that the two have some innate sameness or connection. It is true that male human beings are referred to as he – his – him -himself.’ And it is also true that maleness goes with masculinity, and that “Masculine” is the name of the grammatical category that normally includes biological males and excludes biological females. Here is what is not true: Not all grammatically masculine nouns refer to biologically masculine objects. This should become crystal clear in Part 3. There could well be other, relevant historical-linguistic factors that Arabists and Qur’anic scholars could bring to bear on this subject, other than what I have come up with here. There might also be interesting implications of huwa as applied to Allah that would be of interest to our community. Perhaps some of our readers would be willing to take up this challenge. --- To be continued,  insha’Allah, in Part 3…

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PERSPECTIVES

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PERSPECTIVES

Is God to

Blame? MARYAM STUART

S

ITTING IN MY in my usual pew in church, my mind drifted as it often did. Most masses my mind slipped to thoughts of which one of my friends from French class were sitting in the pews behind me. Or how my makeup was holding up against my teenage acne. But this day was different. This day my mind was occupied with thoughts of how I was going to survive without my mother.

It had only been a day since she gathered me and my three sisters in the living room to tell us that her cancer was back, and that this time it was worse than before. The news left me in shock. But it was here, in this pew during mass, that I finally processed her fate, my fate, my family’s fate. And I was fuming mad. My family had survived a lot. Hurricanes. Floods. Layoffs. Alcoholism. Depression. My father’s heart disease. My brother’s delinquency. My mother’s first bout with cancer. She had always been the sun at the center of our universe, keeping our family together, functioning, healthy, in orbit. And with a second diagnosis of cancer, she would likely be taken from her central role in our family. And I was terrified, hurting, and— above all—angry.

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As it seems to be human nature to foist blame on an outside source, I looked desperately for someone to blame. But there was no one who could have been at fault. Cancer just happens. So I blamed God. I was mad at God, furious even. This blame game is ubiquitous. I’ve heard it all, from statements like: How can there be a God when there is so much suffering? to God has some explaining to do with all the misery He’s let go on in this world. However it’s phrased, it’s the same conclusion. Sometimes when we face hardship, devastation, or something that seems impossible to overcome, we search for meaning and for a place to put the blame. When the heart break is intense enough and we find no reason for it and no one to blame, we can even end up blaming


PERSPECTIVES

God and losing faith. In my search to mend my broken heart in the aftermath of my mother’s illness and death, I did all of that. I looked for meaning. I blamed God. I lost my faith. But then I moved past all of that. I found meaning again. I found new faith

and a new perspective in Islam. It was through Islam that I learned how to really heal. And most importantly, I learned that my anger at God came from misunderstanding the nature of our life in this world and the role of free will.

As it seems to be human nature to foist blame on an outside source, I looked desperately for someone to blame.

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PERSPECTIVES

Trials I am not sure where I got the idea that I should have or am entitled to a perfect life. I was never taught this in church. When it comes to what God tells us life is about, nowhere— whether it is an Islamic, Christian, Buddhist, or any other perspective—is it claimed that God has promised us ease in this world. It just doesn’t exist. In nearly every holy book, every faith, the concept is that we will be tested and put through trials, that this life will be a struggle. Specifically, in Islam, we understand the concept of life as a test through multiple Quranic

We will surely test you through some fear, hunger, and loss of money, lives, and crops. Give good news to the steadfast. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:155]

verses. Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test? [Surat Al‘Ankabut, 29:2] It is all laid out for us in the Quran. Allah even enumerates how we will be tested. We will surely test you through some fear, hunger, and loss of money, lives, and crops. Give good news to the steadfast. [Surat AlBaqarah, 2:155] But why? Why is it that we must go through the wringer in life? Allah explains the purpose for tests in the Quran as well. We have tested those before them, for God must distinguish those who are truthful, and He must expose the liars. [Sûrat Al-‘Ankabut 29:3] As I learned more about Islam, I began to heal from the loss of my mother. I realized how illogical it was for me to be angry at God. I had no right to think I would not suffer loss of life as every other creature in this world suffers. Many have lost much more

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than I and still understood the basic concept that death is a part of life and will touch everyone, that this is just one of the trials of life where God asks us to be patient and wait for His reward.

Choice The second component to my healing process was understanding that a lot of suffering is wrought by human hands. God created us with freewill. Then He sent the messengers to teach us how to avoid the pitfalls of our own souls, to work actively to prevent harm, and to alleviate the suffering of others. What we do with that knowledge is up to us. We have the choice to do evil or to do good, to prevent evil or prevent good, to help those in need or to ignore the needy. But still many people lose faith when tragedy strikes. When a genocidal maniac comes to power and murders countless innocent people, many wonder where was God when this evil spread. When a terrorist attack happens, some people wonder how God could let this happen. When


PERSPECTIVES pollution causes illness in innocent children, a lot of folks think: If God is really good, He wouldn’t allow innocent children to get sick. But what we often fail to recognize is the role that human choice plays in calamity. Do we ever wonder why we didn’t speak out against the ruler’s oppression? Do we wonder: “What if we would have fought against radicalism in our own community?” Do we consider that maybe we shouldn’t allow environmentally destructive practices that cause deadly illnesses?

they chose to make money instead of looking out for the health and safety of the consumer. It is my role now to help others who are suffering from the loss I know all too well. To warn people from using harmful products. To do what I can to help alleviate the suffering of others. But life is not all hard times, tragedy, and loss. We have so much to celebrate, so much to be grateful for, even in the hard times.

Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness. [Surat Al-Shura’, 42:30] Through Islam, I learned that it is not God who does evil in the world, it is the human choice to invent and propagate evil. It was Qabil (Cain) who invented murder when he killed his brother Habil (Abel). The Prophet says about Qabil’s evil creation: No soul is wrongfully killed except that some of the burden falls upon the son of Adam [Qabil], for he was the first to establish the practice of murder. (Bukhari and Muslim) The potential for each evil act is created by the first to commit it. And each criminal will similarly share in the evil consequences of its propagation. Similarly, Islam taught me that God does not turn a blind eye to the evil done by subsequent people, either. God is the most just and His ultimate and perfect justice will be established on the Day of Judgment. On the Day when every person will be confronted with all the good he has done, and all the evil he has done, he will wish that there were a great distance between him and his evil. [Surat Al-‘Imran, 3:30] Years after my mother’s death, I found out that a certain seemingly innocuous product that my mom used daily might have caused her cancer. That the manufacturers of this product knew that women who used their product had a higher rate of cancer. But they never warned their consumers. The company could have warned women, but

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. [Surat Al-Sharh, 94:5-6] When one thing goes wrong, we tend to be angry with God and forget about all the things in our lives that are going right. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? [Surat Al-Rahman, 55:38] Even though I miss my mother, I still have so much. And through my new faith, I see my life from a new perspective. I learned to be grateful even to have been my mother’s daughter. I am thankful to have had her love, guidance, and protection for the 18 years she was in my life. For these blessings from God, I was and will forever be truly grateful.

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If the son of Adam dies, his actions are ceased except three: A continuing charity, knowledge which benefits others, or a righteous son who supplicates for him. (Muslim and Ahmed)

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COUNSEL & COMMENT

Shaping The Future: A CALL TO PARENTS YASMIN MOGAHED

O

NE HUNDRED YEARS from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. This anonymous poem reflects much of the sentiment taught by our beloved Prophet 1400 years ago.

The Messenger of Allah said, If the son of Adam dies, his actions are ceased except three: A continuing charity, knowledge which benefits others, or a righteous son who supplicates for him. (Muslim and Ahmed)

A servant will have his rank raised and will say: ‘Lord, how has this come about for me?’ Allah replies, ‘Through your children’s du‘a’ for you.’ (Ahmed and Ibn Majah)

When we leave this world, what will we leave behind? What mark will we make? What will we send forward? What will we take? Our children will inherit this

In our graves, our wealth will be of no benefit to us. The success of our careers, and the level of our degrees will be of no value. How well we raised our children will. And yet so much of our time, so much of our learning and our efforts are spent for the sake of those things, which are fleeting. In another hadith the Prophet said,

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COUNSEL & COMMENT life. In their hands may lay our ultimate salvation-or our ultimate ruin. In their hands may lay the ultimate salvation or ruin of our Ummah. Shouldn’t something that important demand our full attention? Shouldn’t we examine ourselves and do our utmost to perfect this crucial skill: parenting.

Do Not Impose, Instill Love Early Imagine a child raised in a home where, aside from some cultural norms, Islam is essentially irrelevant. Parents are not serious about salah and whatever Islamic practice they do perform is done more out of ethnic customs than Islam. Now imagine the child reaching puberty. A girl who was never really instilled with Islam before, is now forced to wear hijab. A boy whose life was never centered around Islam is now made to attend Salat Al-Jumuah. Will it surprise anyone if those kids rebel? Consider, on the other hand, a child who was raised knowing and loving the Quran, was taken to the masjid early on, and performed salah alongside his parents. Would hijab or Salat Al-Jumuah need to be imposed? Or would it only be a natural extension for a child whose very nature is Islam? Instill and reinforce love for Allah and His Messenger from the day your children are born.

how much. No matter how much you monitor, these things are still harmful for a number of reasons. First, watching television is a learned habit that does not disappear in adulthood. A young child could agree to watch Sesame Street. But chances are, a teenager will not. And few could disagree that television programs designed for teenagers and adults contain far from Islamically appropriate content. Secondly, consider the number of hours that are easily eaten up by TV and video games. Children can literally stay up the entire night playing a video game in order to advance to a higher level. Consider the words of our Prophet concerning the importance of time: The feet of a servant will not turn away on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about four things: his lifetime, how he lived it; his youth, how he spent it; his wealth, from where he earned it and on what he spent it, and his knowledge and how he acted on it. (Tirmidhi) Lastly, studies show that irrespective of content, children who spend a lot of time with television and video games are more aggressive, less likely to read, and more likely to develop

Kill Your Television and Video Games Many parents monitor what their children watch, but not

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attention problems, such as attention deficit disorder.

Spoil Your Kids with Love, Time, and Attention One unfortunately pervasive myth is that giving children “too much” love, time and affection “spoils” them. This could not be farther from the truth. It is trying to give them other things to replace your love, time and affection, which in fact spoils them. Children who are “spoiled “with love and attention become the most generous, loving and giving of people. Those from whom this love and attention was withheld, often become narrowhearted and unwilling to give. No one was more merciful and showed more affection to children than our beloved Prophet. He was once visited by a man named Al-Aqra‘ ibn


COUNSEL & COMMENT Habis. He lifted his grandson, Al-Hassan, placed him on his lap and kissed him. Al-Aqra‘ remarked, “I have 10 children and I have not kissed a single one of them.” This was a point of pride, manhood—that one is not soft, that one is tough. The Prophet said to him, “Can I help it if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?” And he added, “And whoever is not merciful will not receive mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Do Not Reward for Acts of Worship Do not pay your children to fast, or promise them large gifts if they pray. Instill in them a love for Allah that will motivate

them internally to perform salah and fast. Social psychologists have shown that when people are given external rewards or motivation to do some activity, they enjoy doing that activity less and are less motivated, than if they are given no external reward but the reward is internally motivated.

Start Attachment Early Practice attachment parenting early on. When your children are young, let them sleep next to you, and carry them often. Research shows that doing these things does NOT spoil the child, but creates a secure attachment between the parent and child that allows the child to succeed better as an adult. This attachment is a fundamental precursor to

successful parenting because without it you cannot fully instill Islam. Consider, for example, the relationship between the Prophet and his daughter Fatimah. From very early on, she maintained a close relationship with her father who thereby conveyed his mission to her.

Attachment is the First Step to Discipline If a secure attachment is created early on between the parent and child, discipline will easily follow. If the parent maintains this closeness with the child and shows consistent love and approval, the child will avoid doing things that would disappoint or jeopardize that relationship. Discipline should not and would not need to be done with a stick, but would rather flow naturally. If the relationship were based on love and respect, the child would be motivated by the desire to maintain that respect.

Build Your Child SelfEsteem Make sure your children know how precious they are. Tell them whenever possible how good and how smart they are. Make sure they know what a gift they are and how important they are as a person. Let them know that they can have the ability to change the world, and show them how much faith and hope you have in them. A child who is told he is a failure will always be a failure. And only a child who thinks he can change the world, ever will. VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

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Allah Wants to Forgive You MARYAM AMIREBRAHIMI

M

ANY PEOPLE TALK to me about their struggles; about mistakes they’ve made, sins they’ve committed, addictions they yearn to overcome, relationships they regret. But regardless of the issue, there is one emotion that I’ve noticed threads through almost every struggle with the other: Incessant GUILT.

The guilt of these individuals is rooted in another belief: their inability to forgive themselves for what they did or are still struggling with doing. This is heightened by the fact that

many of their families have conditioned them to feel guilty for possibly bringing shame and dishonor to themselves and their families, and by some Muslim communities that do not provide

support for the development of individuals—and instead cast shame, judgment and isolation onto those who’ve made mistakes. Thus, even when they’ve

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committed a sin years and years ago, they cannot forgive themselves and they do not feel they can find that forgiveness sometimes even from those they love, they feel that God, too, has not or will not forgive them. But the way that we see ourselves is not necessarily the way that Allah sees us. Our inability to forgive ourselves does not mean that God has not forgiven us!

Accessing Divine Forgiveness Do you know how easy the terms are for us to get God’s forgiveness? It’s this easy: Realizing what we’ve done is wrong. Sincerely saying sorry. In Arabic, that’s called tawba (“repentance”). It can look like this: Oh Allah, I’ve really messed up. I am so sorry for doing X and I need Your help never to do it again. My Lord, You forgive all mistakes and sins. Forgive me!! Let us look at some examples of from Quran and Hadith: A man once walked into the masjid of the Prophet  in extreme distress. He shouted, coming to the Prophet , saying: “I have sinned, woe to me, I have sinned!” The Prophet  had the man sit down and taught him to say: “Dear God, Your forgiveness is greater than my sins, and I have more hope in Your mercy than in my own actions, so please forgive me!” The Prophet  told him to repeat

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this again and then once again, and then told him: “Stand up: Allah has forgiven your sins.” (Al-Hakim) The Prophet  didn’t tell him: Feel guilty for the next 5 years over what you’ve done, then Allah will forgive you. He  didn’t tell the man to mentally and emotionally beat himself up every day until the man felt he had adequately punished himself, and then Allah would forgive him. The Prophet saw a man, coming with sincerity, with remorse, seeking to fix his relationship with Allah. He  showed him not only how easy it was to ask for forgiveness, but also how easy it to be forgiven. How do you know Allah has forgiven you if you have sincerely asked for forgiveness? He has promised you forgiveness. He says: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins, for He is Oft-

Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surat Al-Zumar, 39:53]

“Bending Over Backwards” To further impress upon us the point, Allah tells us in a hadith related by the Prophet: O child of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O child of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O child of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. Doesn’t it seem obvious? Allah WANTS to forgive us! He WANTS a relationship with us! And not only to forgive us….but to turn the wrong we have done into


COUNSEL & COMMENT something good. Allah tells us: Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:27]. In other words, this is what that looks like: The Prophet  told us of a man who will come on the Day of Judgment and will be shown his minor sins, his major ones being hidden from him. He cannot deny all the messed up things he had done and he’s worried about seeing even bigger sins he had committed than those he’s being shown. Then it is said: Replace every bad deed with a good one! And the man says,

“My Lord! I did other messed up stuff that isn’t written in here!” And the Prophet  laughed when he relayed this man’s reaction. (Bukhari) This man’s tawba, his repentance, was so sincere and so complete that Allah replaced his bad deeds with good ones.

Merciful Math Additionally, Allah is so merciful in the way He keeps us accountable. When God commanded the two angels on our right and left shoulders to write our actions, God Himself ordered the angel on the left to wait for a period of time to write down what we did wrong just in case we turn back to Him soon after we made that

mistake. If we make a mistake and then repent within that time, the angel does not even write down the fact that we sinned. (Al-Tabarani) God is just waiting for us to come back to Him, even after we mess up.

But what if you actually did do something messed up? Or thought about it but didn’t do it because you realized you didn’t want to displease Him? The Prophet taught us that Allah has ordered that the good and the bad deeds be written down. Then He explained it clearly how (they are to be written): He who intends to do a good deed but he does not do it, then Allah records it for him as a full good deed, but if he carries out his intention, then Allah the Exalted, writes it down for him as from ten [units] to seven hundred fold, and even more. But if he intends to do an evil act and has not done it, then Allah writes it down with Him as a full good deed, but if he intends it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed. (Bukhari) There is seriously no way you can lose when you try to connect with God.

Miss No Opportunity And then finally, do good deeds to wipe out the bad. This does not need to be some super Muslim attempt to pray all night and fast all day, every day. It is something as simple as asking forgiveness VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016

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You’re Worthy of Allah’s Love Now obviously, this doesn’t mean we go out and seek doing bad things since we know God is forgiving and we can just make it up with good ones. The point is that when we make a mistake, never despair in Allah’s desire or ability to forgive us. Realize that His mercy overcomes His wrath. (Bukhari)

O child of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. "Qudsi Hadith" for every believing male and female. The Prophet  taught us that if we do so, God will give us a reward for every single believer we just prayed for (Al-Tabarani). Do you know how many of them there are?! You have just raked in over a billion good deeds that will wipe out those bad ones, God willing. So when we mess up, here’s a

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formula: 11. Realize we made a mistake that we need to stop making. 22. Sincerely ask God to forgive us. If we did something to hurt someone else, we need to figure that out and ask for their forgiveness as well in a strategic way. 33. Do something good to make up for it. 44. If we go back to that sin, start the process over. If applicable, seek professional help. Do not underestimate the importance of support and therapy. Depending on what a person is struggling with, it can be critical to seek professional support.

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A young woman once came to me after a lecture I gave and, crying, she said, “My family always made me feel like I’m a screw-up. They even told me that my prayers wouldn’t count since I did so many messed up things anyway. I thought Allah hated me. It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that maybe Allah does love me. Maybe He actually loves me.” Allah doesn’t expect perfection from you. He knows you are a struggling, frustrated believer who is trying despite the falls. He knows you better than you know yourself. But that doesn’t diminish His love for you or His ability to forgive you. Don’t let anyone come between your relationship with your Creator and His forgiveness of you. Don’t let your guilt, your inability to forgive yourself-or the way other people treat you--be what makes you think God doesn’t love you or want to forgive you. Turn to Him. He wants to accept you. Allow His love to enter your life. God wants that He turns to you in forgiveness. [Surat Al-Nisa’, 4:27]


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OVAMIR ANJUM

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E ASPIRE TO do and be many things in our lives, often very noble things. But we are also often caught in the webs of our own creation and pits of our own digging: our hopelessness and narrow thinking. It is our own struggle as true believers in Allah, the struggle of our minds and our souls, to undo these webs and to widen our horizons. This was the message of Iqbal, the great Muslim poet-philosopher who says: I love those young men who attempt to climb up to the stars. In another couplet, he expresses the limitlessness of a Muslim’s ambition as follows: (O Muslim) You are a caravan to whom the heavenly stars are like dust on the way. Political, economic or military defeat does not defeat us: we are defeated only when we choose to be overwhelmed by our external circumstances and begin to lose hope in Allah and when we aspire to nothing but petty, little, material things. True, we are all limited by external and internal conditions created by Allah. But Allah will not ask us for what we are incapable of doing. Philosophical hair-splitting aside, where you draw the line between the possible and the impossible is a matter of what is nowadays called your ‘attitude.’ People have different attitudes, like optimistic (being hopeful), pessimistic (being hopeless), and realistic (having a balance of hope and caution that is geared towards achieving some practical goals), precisely because of where they draw the line between the possible and the impossible. A story goes that a man asked Ali ibn Abi Talib about something like where to draw this line: in other words, what actions would Allah hold him accountable for. The wise Caliph responded by asking the man to stand up and lift one of his legs. The man, a bit puzzled, did so. Then Ali asked him to lift up his other leg while still standing. The man expressed his inability to do so. Ali said: Allah will ask you about the first leg, and will not ask you about the second. This practical, realistic attitude is characteristic of the Islamic vision of life. This still does not answer the exact question of where to draw the line, because the answer is impossible

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to generalize. The answer has to be specific to each individual, to each soul. This exactly is the point of it all: it is up to us to set our goals and define our horizons. It is our challenge to avoid selling ourselves too short by narrowing our limits, and declaring too quickly, “That is impossible; I/we cannot do it.” As humans we have been charged with the task of knowing the limits of our God-given faculties, knowing that Allah has given us all generously in various ways. Here is where a key Islamic attitude comes in: Hope in Allah’s mercy, power and love for those who have faith in him. It was the Prophet’s attitude—his limitless hope in Allah coupled with a realistic attitude—that transformed the people around him. Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt narrates: We complained to Allah’s Messenger (of the persecution inflicted on us by the unbelievers) while he was sitting in the shade of the Ka‘bah, leaning over his cloak. We said to him, “Would you seek help for us? Would you call upon Allah for us?” The Prophet responded, “Among the nations before you a (believing) man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would separate his flesh from his bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion will prevail, so much so that a traveler from Sana to Hadramaut [both in Yemen] will fear none but Allah --or [he will fear] a wolf [when it comes] to his sheep-but you (people) are hasty.” (Bukhari) We all know that we are given only one life, yet it is surprising that so many of us are willing to sell ourselves so short. Allah has decreed: ‘It is I and My apostles who must prevail:’ For Allah is One full of strength, able to enforce His Will. [Surat Al-Mujadilah, 58:21] Allah knows our limits. Trusting and hoping in Allah, we do not need to be hasty in drawing the line narrowly between what is possible and what is not. Our Ummah needs us to widen our horizons.


Al jumuah vol 28 issue 4  

Al jumuah Hajj special

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