From The Editor’s Desk – January 2016
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh, “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not Dont Let 2016 Slide Away................................................06 be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find Connecting With Our Islamic Legacy ......................08,09 a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays Why You Should Call People to Islam - Part 1.........11,12 rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. January -2016, Volume 2, Issue 1 ISSN 2377 - 9624 Publisher & Editor-in-Chief: Mohamed Haroon Sait Editor: Duston Barto Design & Layout: Mubin M.K.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
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― Bruce Lee I know it may seem odd to open a Muslim magazine with a quote from a non-Muslim, but Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the advertisers bear with me. or individual contributing writers and not necessarily those of the editor or publisher of this magazine. All knowledge comes from Allah, regardless of the Earthly source. In this case, an Islamic principle of This magazine is published monthly. moderation is reinforced. The example of water Article submissions are welcome, email: exemplifies the different sides of being Muslim. Editor@MuslimAmerican.com To be kind, passive and merciful in flowing Advertising inquiries should email: Ads@MuslimAmerican.com through the world among the people, yet at the same time to be ready to crash against oppression Muslim American Phone: (704) 597-5424 and injustice. 400 Arrowhead Dr East FAX: (704) 597-9310 Charlotte, NC 28213
Water can nurture the world through gentle rain or flood it away, if it becomes cold and hard it can split stone apart or cause others to crash against it in destruction. In the form of steam, water can cook food or it can burn the skin. Every form has its function in an appropriate time and place. Likewise, the way we express our Islam can change form based on the situation, who we are addressing and many other factors in order to accurately represent Allah’s divine will in accordance with the life example of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Take care of the form you take in expressing your Islam, be certain that you nurture the world rather than cause destruction.
May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you all,
Editor, Muslim American magazine
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Don’t Let 2016 Slide Away
ow often do we blame time by saying that we don’t have enough of it? Whereas in reality it was our own fault for not managing our time the way we should. As narrated by Ibnu Abbas (RA), Rasulullah (SAWS) once said that there are two blessings that people lose: good health and free time. Time and health are the primary commodities that all of us posses and we often “sell” at a cheap price by not benefiting to the fullest and letting time slide away with no productive output. We tend to put aside important tasks simply because they are not urgent and make less important tasks more urgent.
some sort of good deeds. It didn’t occur to us that what happens within the society that we live in is also our responsibility. Enjoining truth and then doing it with perseverance and patience require collective efforts. It is a community-wide obligation. Our beloved Prophet didn’t just conduct classes, teach Quran, and ask people to pray. As a matter of fact, the unbelievers who opposed him at the time suggested that they would come and pray together with him if that is all he was up to. But as we know, the mission of Islam is far more than just prayer and some rituals. Islam comes to bring justice to mankind, to bring goodness out of people, and to liberate them from worshipping the creations to worshipping the one and only Creator. As such, Rasulullah (SAWS) himself was an activist. He negotiated, made treaties, and fought for freedom. He didn’t get it in Makkah so he went to Madinah and got it over there.
era, it is going to be afflicted with trials and calamities that you will find difficult to bear” Additionally, the Qur’an states in 29:2 “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?” The above examples are not an excuse for us to be despair and to live in sadness. It is meant to bring us back closer to Allah (SWT). People often equate challenges to afflictions, tribulations, and calamities that have befallen upon them; however, living in luxury while feeling smug and self-sufficient is another type of challenge. For some time now many of us have been living in our own comfort zones and not trying to bring goodness to the society we are in, as commanded by chapter Al Asr above. While others have been suffering and going through hardship; yet they remember Allah and increase their faith and worship. We, on the other hand, are buried and carried away in luxury and lavish lifestyle. May Allah protect us all and help us reclaim the actions of his commands to enjoin truth with perseverance and patience. May we Muslims always seek to bring the Islamic principles of justice and goodness to the society we live in.
Our Islamic traditions and teachings talk about time in great lengths. The five daily prayers put us on our toes all the time so that not a single prayer should pass by that we did not perform or did not remember. The Quran also speaks about times in different ways in various chapters such as Al Fajr, Ad Dhuha, Al Lail, Needless to say, we are living in a and of course Al Asr. very challenging time, especially as In Al Asr, or The Time, Allah (SWT) Muslims living in the west. Some of warns us that human being are all at these challenges are predicted in the loss unless we fulfill the requirements hadith of our beloved Prophet. In that follow; which is to have faith, Sahih Muslim, Rasulullah (SAWS) perform good deeds, enjoin truth, and said “Each and every prophet has warned enjoin perseverance. However, for so his ummah about a problem that they long we have been complacent about would face and what I am telling you is Azihan Ibrahim is the President of MASthis simply because we believe that that this ummah of mine; that it’s blessed Charlotte we already have faith and performed era is the earlier era, and as for the later www.MuslimAmerican.com 6
Connecting With Our Islamic Legacy From a Khutbah delivered by Imam Osamah Salhia of MAS Charlotte
Full Audio of the Khutbah is available on our website at MuslimAmerican.com
“We sent not before you, except men to whom we have revealed among the people of the cities. Have they not traveled through the earth and observed how was the end of those before them? And indeed the home of the hereafter is better for those who are conscious of Allah. Do they not think?” - Qur’an 12:109 The teachings of Qur’an and Sunnah have always emphasized the importance of studying history and sociology. Islam has conveyed symptomatic issues related to the rise and fall of nations in order to teach us a greater moral lesson. History is important for any nation, and is important for us as Muslims. Connecting with our Islamic legacy is critical to our growth. History helps us understand society, it helps us understand people, and it gives people a sense of identity. This is why every nation makes teaching history an integral part of its curriculum. Any nation that is oblivious to its past cannot hope to have a prosperous future. It is integral to the growth of our children that they learn of the lives of our predecessors. Allah (SWT) says in his book, “In their lives there was an example, there were lessons for those of understanding.” Allah says about the predecessors, “And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart.” It is so important that we give our children alternative heroes so that when we ask our children, “Who are your heroes?” their answers should not be Batman, Iron Man, and Superman. Our Islamic history has real life heroes who achieved so many great things! We need to connect ourselves and our children to the lives of our predecessors. How can we expect our children to feel a sense of 8
attachment to their faith, when they The problem of interpretation is lack understanding of our history and rooted in a lack of understanding the nature of sharia. This is a system of our Islamic legacy? law that has crossed all boundaries The fact is that we have become of language, ethnicity, culture or disconnected from our Islamic legacy geography and has existed for over and this has detrimental effect upon one thousand years. Nowadays we us as Muslims. Sometimes if you ask “What is sharia?” The people will ask our children about the most respond “sharia, is stoning people, prominent companions they would sharia is cutting off their ears, and not know much about them. This is poking their eyes, sharia is this and something that I have heard happen sharia is that.” Even when you ask when teenage boys were asked about many Muslims, the first thing that Abu Bakr, they could not provide any might come to their mind is civic information about him. This is just punishment. They don’t realize one of the detrimental effects that the vast, expansive nature of our happened due to disconnecting from civilization, and the social institutions Islamic legacy. The second is our that it offered. Islam, as a civilization, lack of knowledge regarding major has offered so much for humanity. events in our Islamic timeline. The Those who demean sharia in such a third, which is very evident in today’s way do not understand its nature or social and political issues, is that its variables. They do not understand Muslims have become divorced from there are mechanisms within the intellectual foundations of our Islamic law that have preserved it Islamic civilization. This has given from becoming outdated. Sharia’s way to the rise of extremism. mechanisms accommodate diversity, Why has extremism come about? It exceptions, special circumstances, has come about through those who and consider time and place. do not understand our intellectual foundations. The problem of interpretation is one that is one of the biggest problems Muslims find in the twenty-first century. Our ummah has been hit so hard in the past hundred years. The Colonial and Post-colonial era in the Muslim world has affected the quality of leadership. Whether it is Islamic scholarship or secular scholarship; our moral code, social standards, and social justice have all been affected.
The biggest enemies of sharia are those who corrupted the system of interpretation that our scholars have carried to us for 1400 years. These people have no understanding or rational reasoning of Islamic teachings, but they claim to be Muslims. Then they will bring a text of law from several hundred years ago and try to apply and promote it as is. This act is downright corruption; it is inconsiderate to the variables that www.MuslimAmerican.com
a religion. People understand religion as being limited to the places of worship. Islam was never like this, Islam was a way of life for centuries, which people adhered to and lived in accordance with.
to Andalusia to learn at its universities and schools. Muslims developed medical sciences, and established care for the mentally ill. In the 13th century Ibn Nafis perfectly described pulmonary circulation which led to a reshaping of medical knowledge and human anatomy.
How can we reclaim our Islamic legacy and bring its lessons to our When you think of modern lives? sharia while looking our past with First, we need to connect our children This is Al-Biruni’s proof of the mechanics of a lunar eclipse. at you to the broad spectrum of sharia and Abu Al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni was a understanding, its teachings. Figures that have carried physicist, scholar and polymath who lived from 973 - 1048. will see that sharia in it to this day in age. We need to His work on the movement of celestial bodies predated Islamic civilization was Galileo by 600 years and his calculations of astrophysics a primary motivator convey to our children, the lives of are still being used today. for Muslims to study. those beacons of light, the Prophet Sharia was a source (SAWS), and the companions, and the Islam has considered. In fact, if you generations that came after. We need were to bring any law, even the state of inspiration in civil engineering, to carry to them this guidance. We laws in our own country from 100 architecture, medicine, philosophy, need to try to live to their standards. years ago, people would denounce economy, calligraphy, poetry, literary How they strove to achieve such great it as corrupt, narrow-minded and works, physics, math, geology, things. backwards. Does this mean that truth anatomy, hospitals, universities, is relative? No, we are not saying that and social institutions. Sharia Secondly, we need to study our history. truth is relative. This means that our encompassed the totality of arts, Islamic history had its ups and downs. law, with its constants and variables, sciences and human interest. This It had its things that were good and it is considerate to human development was what that the Islamic civilization had its things that were very corrupt. offered while the rest of the world It had people who were very corrupt and human growth. was in the dark ages. While the rest of and oppressive and it had its people You see this respect to development the world was still disputing amongst who were just and upright. We need and growth in the life of the prophet one another regarding basic human to study our past and understand that (SAWS) in the gradual prohibition rights, Islam was thriving in its golden not everything in our past is good. of alcohol for example. For a period age. If you look at at some of our of time, alcohol was not prohibited. old classic masjids you’ll find that Finally, we need to teach our children In fact, Allah advised the believers, there were hospitals and universities the history and heroes of our Islamic legacy. They need to know everything “don’t come near to the prayer halls attached to them. about these great people in order while you are intoxicated.” This was Islam promoted the development to live by that standard. They need before Islam had prohibited alcohol. Does this mean that alcohol is ok and of knowledge over a thousand years to recognize and identify with these halal for us now because for a period ago. In 859 the first university, Al- people who were our predecessors. of time alcohol was halal? No! Allah Qarawiyyin, was opened in Morocco This is our role as parents and as understands that people need time by Muslim women; Fatima and integral parts of the society that we to grow. People need time to accept Mariam Al-Fihri. While the rest of live in. things. This is the unique thing about the world was debating whether our sharia that makes it applicable in to give women basic rights, these If we continue to abandon our women were establishing a system Islamic legacy, then only those who all times and places. of higher learning which was later have corrupted it will be speaking for One of the greatest dangers of our adopted by the rest of the world. all of the ummah. disconnection to Islamic legacy is a Andalusian Spain was recognized as corrupt understanding of religiosity. the center of knowledge to the extent Islam is a way of life; it’s not simply that people from Europe would come 704-597-5424 9
Why You Should Call People to Islam Part 1 – My Beginnings as a Da’ee by Mohamed Haroon Sait, Co-Founder of American Islamic Outreach Foundation
was born in Kerala, a state in the south of India, a spectacular country with hundreds if not thousands of religions and cultures living side by side. Muslims comprise about 20% of the total population of India. While many perceive MuslimHindu relations to be strained in India, the state of Kerala with its 100% literacy rate provided me with an example of peaceful coexistence. I had Muslim, Christian and Hindu neighbors living next to me. I could hear the Church bells ringing during their call to prayer. Every morning before the athan for fajar is called; the Hindu temples would start their rituals and songs over the loud speakers. My memories of those songs are fresh that I can still hear them ringing in my ears sitting in my Harrisburg, NC home. Within a mile radius there were at least twenty five or more mosques that called Athan five times a day over the loud speakers.
Jesus’ speech in the Bible and Quran
prayer places are not far away from one another. Many of the mosques have temples only a stone’s throw away. For the most part, people mind their own business, do not bother one another and there is a perfect harmony between the followers of different faiths.
Ahmed Deedat, seen here engaged in one of his many debates, was instrumental in elevating the level of discussion about Islam to the world while also challenging Muslims to be more proactive in dawah.
I studied from first grade all the way “The first of all the commandments is, up to 10th grade in a Catholic school Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is that was less than a mile away from my one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord house. Typically, in a class there were thy God with all thy heart, and with fifty students and a majority of my all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and friends were Hindus and Christians. with all thy strength: this is the first I would go to their house and play with them and they would come to commandment.” Mark 12:29-30 my house and play with me. When “I have not said to them anything but it was time for prayer, we would part what You have ordered me to say, that and do our thing and then come back is, ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your and play again. That is how things are Lord’…..” Holy Quran, Maeda, 5:117 in India even now. The religious Hindus go to their temples during their prescribed prayer times. Christians and Muslims do the same. In our community, these 704-597-5424
Soon, I realized that people generally do not practice a particular faith because they read about it, researched it and got convinced about it. Rather, most people practice a thing because that is what they saw their parents do. This is also the case with many Muslim households. This led me to question, “Are all these faiths correct in worshiping in their own ways? Christians worship Jesus (AS); Hindus worship Rama, Krishna and many other deities, and then Muslims worship Allah. How can all these different ideas all be true?” Common sense did not allow me to conclude that all are right. I became more curious as time passed. The “Mind Your Own Business” policy was certainly comfortable for everyone. “Why question someone’s belief ? Let them do what they want to do.” was the prevalent attitude with a majority of the people. “Interfaith” discussion happened all the time about the new Bollywood movie, or about the actor or actress, about the sale going on in the textile retailer in the city center and plenty of other topics. But there was no discussion on God or on why we fast in Ramadan! Or why do you worship a Cow? That was a comfortable status quo. But certainly it was a hurdle for any constructive discussion or exchange of ideas.
Jesus prayed like a Muslim prays When I got to my college years, I started closely observing the practices “And he went a little further, and fell on his of other faiths asking “Why do they face, and prayed….” Matthew 26:39 worship that way?” These questions naturally aroused inside of me. 11
great debate between Sheikh Ahmed Deedat and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. Among many things, the main benefit that Sheikh Ahmed Deedat gave me was boosting my confidence in By this time I became interested in presenting Islam with clarity. learning more about Islam. I attended lectures frequently and read as many Jesus was a Prophet books as I could lay my hands on. The teachings of Islam and the “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the simple logic it presented became clear whole city was stirred and asked, “Who like daylight. The more I read, the is this?”11The crowds answered, “This more I was convinced that the truth is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in of Islam has to be spoken out with Galilee.” Matthew 21:10-11 clarity and that it is not something to be kept as a secret. During this time, “The Messiah, son of Maryam, is no I had completed my Bachelor degree more than a Messenger. There have in Computer Engineering from the been messengers before him. His mother Regional Engineering College in the was very truthful. Both of them used to city of Calicut, in the northern part of eat food. Look how We explain signs to Kerala. A year later I went to Jeddah, them, then see how far they are turned Saudi Arabia to work as a programmer away.” Holy Qur’an, Maeda, 5:75 and carried my enthusiasm for calling people to Islam along with me to Saudi Arabia. Now in Saudi Most of the Sheikh Ahmed Deedat Arabia, being an Islamic country, cassettes were from the debates calling to people is encouraged. The and presentations he delivered in government has setup several Call the USA. The great freedom which and Guidance offices in many parts this predominantly Christian nation of the city. In the office I had non- provided to a Muslim speaker in Muslim colleagues who came from allowing him come from outside India and Philippines. I became a and debate fearlessly in its land was conduit for sourcing books from something that caught my attention the Call and Guidance locations and and stuck in my head with awe. I said distributing them to my colleagues. to myself, “I need to go to USA, that Here, discussions about religion were is the kind of place I want to be so conducted. I have to admit it was not I can speak out what I have in my always a pleasant ending, some people heart. I can discuss, debate, and call listened and others argued. The more people to the one who created us.” they argued, the more I pondered on Alhamdulillah, in few years I got a my own arguments and improved consultancy position with a company in California and the dream to be a them. da’ee in America became a reality. Once Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Jeddah for a presentation on Islam. I To be continued…. was fortunate to attend and also ask him a question on the benefits of Next month: following lunar calendar for fasting My Evolution as an American Da’ee in Ramadan. In Jeddah it was easy for me to access more of the video cassettes of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat and Sheikh Zakir Naik. I watched the His work on inviting people to Islam attracted me as I was already thinking that people need to be called to the truth.
Though he began as a student of Ahmed Deedat, Zakir Naik has made great strides to become the foremost propagator of Islam out of India. His programs are seen by tens of millions of viewers worldwide.
Well, even if no one actively called people towards understanding Islam, it would suffice if Muslims had a great edge on morality and truthfulness. Unfortunately we have our share of bad apples through the ages. Looking at the conduct of many Muslims and getting attracted to the teachings of Islam has a very remote possibility. In India you will find Hindu and Christian leaders who are just and upright in their conduct. Should then that mean Hinduism and Christianity is right and better than Islam? Of course we cannot solely judge a faith based on their followers conduct; that is a universal axiom. The “Mind your Business” policy did not seem to be a healthy attitude to me. If Islam is the right way of life then we have to tell people about it. If I am convinced that worshiping someone other than the creator can lead one to the Hellfire, how is it logical to shut up and let them go to the fire? I could not understand that. During this time, my brother Jaffer showed me some of the printed material he received from Islamic Propagation Center headed by the late Sheikh Ahmad Deedat in Durban, South Africa. I was fascinated by his powerful lectures and debates. 12
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