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The Slavery System in Religious History and Practices

The Slavery System in Religious History and Practices

slavery

The system of slavery was a worldwide phenomenon with many vital sectors of livelihood dependent on slave labor.

The slavery system among Muslims in many aspects was different from other societies, and what many people envision about slavery according to practices among the Greeks, Romans and European colonialists.

Islam initially accepted the slavery system because it was an accepted and necessary part of the economic and social conditions in those times. The system of slavery was a worldwide phenomenon with many vital sectors of livelihood dependent on slave labor. Slavery was accepted and recognized in the previous religions. As it is stated in the Bible:

“10. When you came nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. 11. And it shall be, if it make your answer of peace, and open unto you, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto you, and they shall serve you. 12. And if it will make no peace with you, but it will make war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13. And when the Lord your God has delivered it into your hands, you shall smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword. 14. But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shall you take unto yourself, and you shall eat the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. 15. Thus shall you do unto all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16. But of the cities of these people, which the Lord your God does give you for an inheritance, you shall save alive that breathes. 17. But you shall utterly destroy them.” (Deuteronomy 20:10-17)

And a master in the Judaic Law could even beat his slave to death as this next text states:

And if a man smites his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

Notwithstanding, if he [the slave] continues (to live) a day or two, he (the slave owner) shall not be punished: for he (the slave) is his money (property). (King James Version Exodus 21:20-21)

Nowhere are there any indications in the Bible about the prohibition of slavery and this lead many to boldly proclaim, as Jefferson Davis the president of the Confederate States of America said:

“(Slavery) was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” (Dunbar Rowland quoting Jefferson Davis in “Jefferson Davis”)

Considering this world environment, Islamic law followed a long-term and gradual plan to eliminate slavery from society.

We do not find any direct command to abruptly stop all dealings with slavery but, rather wisely, the sources of slavery were gradually restricted and diminished and emancipation of slaves encouraged. Moreover, strict rules of fair and honorable conduct were applied in dealing with slaves and allowing them o buy their own freedom.

The first stage was liberating themselves from within their hearts and minds. They were instructed to feel strong, healthy and capable within, and discouraged from feeling weak and inferior. Islam reconstructed the human feeling and integrity in the hearts and minds of the slaves by calling them brethren to their masters and owners.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“Your workers are your brethren. The Almighty Allah placed them under you (for your services). Whosoever has one (of his brethren) under him (working for him), he must feed him of what he eats, clothe him of what he clothes himself and do not assign them to do what they cannot do. If you do, then help them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Slaves have established rights. The commandments of the Qur’an and Sunnah order Muslims to be kind and good to their male slaves and maiden servants. The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

Worship Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are your kin, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and what your right hands possess (slaves): for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious. (An-Nisaa’ 4:36)

The Prophets longstanding concern about the slaves is evidence by the fact that on his deathbed, the Messenger of Allah ordered the Muslims as a dying request to guard their prayers and the rights of the slaves.

He (peace be upon him) is also reported to have said:

“Whosoever castrated a slave we will castrate him.” (Al-Hakim)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Misconceptions on Human Rights in Islam”.

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What Do Muslims Celebrate?

What Do Muslims Celebrate?

celebrations in Islam

The first day of the month following Ramadan is `Eid al-Fitr (`Eid of Breaking the Fast). This is the celebration of fast-breaking.

In Islam, celebration is a form of thanking Allah, the One True God. Celebration, in Islam, is merry-making, going out to parties, visiting and meeting friends and relatives and having clean fun, and also a form of physical and spiritual purification.

Islamic celebrations include taking a bath, putting on clean or new clothes, wearing perfume and going to the mosque or a place of congregation for salah (prayer), a form of prescribed prayers. The Islamic celebration of `Eid is also a day when children and adults may get new clothes and gifts.

The dates and days of celebration are set according to the Islamic calendar.

Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar consists of twelve lunar-based months. A new month begins with the sighting of the new crescent. Since lunar months are 29 or 30 days long, a year has 354 or 355 days, 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar year.

Another characteristic of Islamic months is that the number of days of a month is not fixed. For example, the month of Ramadan may be 30 days in one year and 29 days in another year.

In this age of advanced astronomy and mathematics it is possible to calculate the first of the month years ahead of time, but conservative interpretations of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) require Muslims to see the new crescent physically before announcing the first day of the month. Hence, there is uncertainty in fixing the date.

In practice, Muslims look toward the western horizon on the 29th of the month, immediately after sunset for the new crescent. If the crescent is not sighted they complete 30 days of the month, then start the new month. If the moon is sighted on the 29th , the new month has already begun with the sunset.

The twelve months of the Islamic calendar are Muharram, Safar, Rabi` Awwal, Rabi` Thani, Jumada Awwal, Jumada Thani, Rajab, Sha`ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul-Qi`dah and Dhul-Hijjah.

The moon by itself is not holy or sacred in Islam. The moon, as a symbol which appears on flags and minarets, may have been an adaptation from the Romans or the Turks in the early period of Islam but after the period of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Islamic teachings do not place any significance on the moon, sun or other heavenly objects except as creations and signs of Allah.

Prescribed Salah (Prayers) and the Time Table

The prayer is a form of worship, a celebration of the holiness, praise and glorification of Allah and the renewal of dedication of oneself to Him. Every adult Muslim is required to perform prayer five times a day. For the preparation of the prayer time table, the position of the sun in relation to a location on the earth are used, that is, sunrise, meridian and sunset.

Before sunrise but after dawn, which commences 80 to 90 minutes before sunrise, is the time for the morning or Fajr prayer. Immediately after the meridian is the beginning of early afternoon or Zhuhr Prayer (Noon Prayer), which lasts midway to sunset. From midway to sunset till shortly before sunset is the mid-afternoon or `Asr Prayer time.

Immediately after sunset is the Maghrib Prayer (Sunset Prayer) time which lasts until the disappearance of twilight (approximately an hour). After Maghrib until dawn is the `Isha’ or (Night Prayer) time. Each of the prayers lasts five to ten minutes, but it must be done within its own time slot. All Muslims who have attained puberty are required to perform prescribed prayers at the proper time. A brief washing is required as a preparation for the prayers.

The following weekly and annual celebrations are mandated in Islamic textual sources, that is, the Qur’an and the Hadith.

Yawm Al-Jumu`ah

The literal meaning of these two words is ’the day of congregation‘, which is Friday. Muslims gather in the masjid (mosque) for a khutbah (sermon or speech) followed by Jumu`ah (Friday Prayer) led by an Imam. After the prayer, people meet each other in the masjid and may visit relatives and friends.

In Islam there is no Sabbath, therefore, there is no mandatory closing of businesses on Friday except for the duration of congregational services. However, in a majority of Muslim countries, Friday is the weekly holiday, sometimes combined with Thursday or Saturday. In the West, Muslims take a couple of hours from their jobs or businesses to go to the mosque on Friday. The Friday Prayer, held in the early afternoon, lasts less than an hour in general.

In large work places where many Muslims are employed, Muslims use a room and prepare it for the Jumu`ah (Friday Prayer). In some places a community center room is rented for a couple of hours on Friday for holding the congregation. Since, a part of the prayer requires prostrating and sitting on the floor, it is covered with clean sheets or rugs.

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is known as the month of fasting. During Ramadan Muslims get up before dawn, 2-3 hours before sunrise, and eat a pre-dawn meal. There is no eating, drinking, or sexual activity between dawn and sunset. In addition, Muslims must implement the moral code of Islam very strictly; the violation thereof nullifies their fast. During the night Muslims eat, drink (intoxicants are forbidden) and carry on normally.

Laylat Al-Qadr

The literal meaning is ‘the Night of Decree’, “the Night of Measure’ or ‘the Night of Value’, sometimes also translated as ‘the Night of Power’. The worship and works of this night carry more value than the worship and works of one thousand months. This is the night when angels descend with the decree of Allah.

This night may be any of the odd nights of Ramadan during the last ten days, meaning, Laylat al-Qadr may be the 21st or 23rd or 25th or 27th or 29th night of Ramadan. Some Muslims celebrate only on the 27th night and by doing so they may be missing the real Laylat al-Qadr.

During these nights, Muslims stay awake all night reading and studying the Qur’an, listening to religious addresses and performing salah. They go home for the pre-dawn meal to prepare for the fast; naturally, they need to sleep the next day.

I`tikaf

   1. Some Muslims take time off from their work for the entire last ten days of Ramadan and stay in the masjid, day and night, until the end of Ramadan. This is called I`tikaf (spiritual retreat in the mosque or isolation from the worldly affairs). Those who are in I`tikaf are allowed to go out for necessities only, such as for food and to use the bathroom and shower, if not found within the mosque area.

`Eid Al-Fitr

The first day of the month following Ramadan is `Eid al-Fitr (`Eid of Breaking the Fast). This is the celebration of fast-breaking. Muslims watch the western horizon immediately after sunset on the 29th day of Ramadan for the crescent. If the crescent is sighted, it is the first day of the new month and beginning of `Eid day. If the crescent is not sighted within ½ an hour after sunset on the 29th day of Ramadan the Muslims complete 30 days of fasting. Either way, the 1st of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar is ‘Eid al-Fitr.

On `Eid day, Muslims gather in a larger facility than the neighborhood masjid and join in Salat Al-‘Eid which is composed of salah followed by an address by the Imam (leader). This is a major holiday for the Muslims. On this day, they visit many relatives and friends and give gifts to the children.

`Eid is, first, a day of thanks to Allah, and next, a gathering of families and friends. All financially able Muslims are required to give Sadaqat Al-Fitr, a form of charity, on behalf of each and every person of the family, including newborns, to the poor and needy during the Ramadan but before the `Eid Prayers.

`Eid Al-Adha

This is the celebration of sacrifice which comes two months and ten days after `Eid Al-Fitr. Muslims celebrate the sacrifice of the lamb in place of Ishmael (Isma`il) by his father, Abraham. On this day, after Salat Al-`Eid (the prescribed `Eid Prayers), Muslims sacrifice an animal: a ram, goat, sheep, cow or camel. The meat is divided into three parts: one part is distributed among the poor and needy, one part is distributed among relatives and friends and one part is used by the family.

This is also a major holiday for Muslims to visit each other and give gifts to the children. `Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and again depends upon the crescent sighting for the first of the month. For those people who have gone to Makkah for Hajj (the pilgrimage), staying in the Plain of Arafat on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah is the most important event. However, for those not performing Hajj, `Eid Al-Adha is the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah and one of the two most important celebrations of the year.

In the Arabian Peninsula the calendar follows the local crescent sighting criterion, whereas in the U.S., the local crescent sighting is used for the determination of dates. `Eid Al-Adha may be celebrated for four days from the 10th to the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah.

Cultural Celebrations

There are many other occasions which Muslims celebrate that are developments of local cultures and traditions. Some celebrations are more widespread than others. However, these are innovations in Islam and have no foundation in the Qur’an, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or practices of the Sahabah (the Companions of the Prophet).

These innovative celebrations are not found in the early generations of Muslims. In fact, Prophet Muhammad has declared all innovations (in the religion of Islam) to be bid`ah (heresy) and he declared that all bid`ah lead to dalalah (misguidance) and all dalalah lead to the hell-fire.

The following celebrations are religious/cultural innovations which are discouraged by the informed Islamic scholars.

Mawlid An-Nabi

Mawlid An-Nabi (Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday) is the most common innovative celebration in the Muslim world. It is supposed to celebrate the ‘birthday’ of the Prophet Muhammad. However, there is no authentic record that the Prophet or his Companions celebrated his birthday. Besides, there is no verifiable proof of Prophet’s date of birth. It is an innovation of later times, reported to have been introduced by the Fatimids in Egypt, a very corrupt Shiite sub-sect.

Laylat Al-Isra’ & Al-Mi`raj

A verse in the Qur’an, “Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far distant place of worship the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer” (Al-Isra’ 17:1), states that the Messenger of Allah was taken one night to Jerusalem and brought back to Makkah.

In addition, authentic traditions add that he was led to the Heavens to visit the signs of Allah. However, there is no authentic day or date of this event recorded nor did the Prophet or his Companions ever celebrate this night. Despite the lack of evidence, many Muslims continue to celebrate it.

Laylat An-Nisf min Sha`ban

Laylat An-Nisf min Sha`ban (The Middle Night of Sha`ban), which is called also Shab-e-Barat, is a celebration which takes place on the 15th night of the 8th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Sha`ban, but has no foundation in the Qur’an or teachings of the Prophet.

Unpermitted Celebrations

Some Sunni Muslims celebrate such days for many assumed saintly persons and Shiite celebrate such days for their assumed Imams. There is no evidence to permit such celebrations in Islam. There are related celebrations held annually at the graves and mausoleums of reputedly virtuous m    en (assumed saints or awlia’-Allah) of the past era. Such celebrations on or off the grave sites are not permitted according to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

National Celebrations and Holidays

Celebrations such as of Independence Day, Republic Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and others are rooted in the secular lives of nations. Such celebrations are not mandated in Islam and have no Islamic significance.

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Source: iiie.net

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Religions Condemn Pork and Science Backs It Up

Religions Condemn Pork and Science Backs It Up

Pigs in farm

Pigs are scavengers by nature, which means that they will eat almost anything, including rotten food, feces, urine, carcasses and even cancerous growths.

There are many religions that specifically forbid the consumption of pork. The meat is considered “unclean” and non-kosher. Is there a reason for this? Is there more to this religious teaching that we should all be aware of?

It seems as though the religions that condemn pork consumption are on to something, in fact there are many scientific claims to back this up.

Pigs are scavengers by nature, which means that they will eat almost anything, including rotten food, feces, urine, carcasses and even cancerous growths. Unfortunately the digestive system of a pig is incapable of effectively removing these accumulated toxins from the body because a pig will digest its food entirely in about 4 hours. This is simply not long enough to remove the excess toxins that were ingested, these toxins are then stored directly in the fat cells and organs of the pig itself.

“Sweating Like a Pig” Yet?

Ironically enough, that statement isn’t true -pigs do not have sweat glands which means they are unable to remove excess toxins by sweating (like we do).

So naturally this means that pork meat would be a much more toxic meat than others and when you consume it you would be taking in those toxins as well. With our current environments, we really don’t need to expose our bodies to even more toxins if we don’t have to.

Bacterial Contamination

According to an investigation by Consumer Reports, 69% of all raw pork samples tested (of about 200 samples) were contaminated with a dangerous bacteria known as Yersinia enteroclitica. This bacteria can cause fever, gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps.

Ground pork was more likely to be contaminated than pork chops. This pork also tested positive for other contaminants including a controversial drug called ractopamine, which is banned China and Europe.

Many of the bacteria that were found in the pork were actually resistant to multiple antibiotics, which makes treatment problematic and potentially lethal if you were to get sick.

According to the report:

“We found salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, or listeria monocytogenes, more common causes of foodborne illness, in 3 to 7 percent of samples. And 11 percent harbored enterococcus, which can indicate fecal contamination and can cause problems such as urinary tract-infections.”

raw pork on cutting board

69% of all raw pork samples tested were contaminated with a dangerous bacteria known as Yersinia enteroclitica.

Pigs are a host to a number of parasites, viruses and other organisms, many of which can be directly transmitted to humans, some include:

Taenia solium: an intestinal parasite that can cause tissue infection and loss of appetite.

Menangle virus: a virus that can cause fever, chills, rashes, headaches and sweating.

Trichinella: A parasitic roundworm that can cause edema, myalgia, fever and malaise.

Hepatitis E: A viral inflammation that can cause fatigue, nausea and jaundice. More severe cases can lead to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.

The study does indicate that if you were to cook the pork properly you can reduce the risk of the these parasites affecting you, but there is no guaranteed temperature for safety when it comes to pork.

If you still choose to consume pork, follow the following guidelines to increase safety.

As issued by Consumer Reports:

When cooking pork, use a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches the proper internal temperature, which kills potentially harmful bacteria: at least 145° F for whole pork and 160° F for ground pork.

Keep raw pork and its juices separate from other foods, especially those eaten raw, such as salad.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.

Choose pork and other meat products that were raised without drugs. One way to do that is to buy certified organic pork, from pigs raised without antibiotics or ractopamine.

Look for a clear statement regarding antibiotic use. “No antibiotics used” claims with a USDA Process Verified shield are more reliable than those without verification. Labels such as “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Humane” indicate the prudent use of antibiotics to treat illness.

Watch out for misleading labels. “Natural” has nothing to do with antibiotic use or how an animal was raised. We found unapproved claims, including “no antibiotic residues,” on packages of Sprouts pork sold in California and Arizona, and “no antibiotic growth promotants” on Farmland brand pork sold in several states. We reported those to the USDA in June 2012, and the agency told us it’s working with those companies to take “appropriate actions.” When we checked in early November, Sprouts had removed the claim from its packages.

What About Organic Pasture Raised Pork?

While this pork is obviously going to be much better for you to consume, it is very hard to find, and still poses certain health concerns. Pasture raised pork is very susceptible to Trichinella spiralis infection, also known as the “pork worm.” Trichinella is one of the most widespread parasites in the whole world, it has the potential to cause some very serious health concerns. Trichinella can be killed in the cooking process but one has to follow guidelines closely to make sure the meat is cooked through.

It is said that pork can be a “healthy” meat, but this entirely depends on how it was raised as well. Most, if not all of the pork most of us consume, is factory farmed. According to research by Dr Mercola: “So for most all industrially raised pork, I believe there is enough scientific evidence to justify the reservations or outright prohibitions in many cultures against consuming it. Nearly all pigs raised in the U.S. come from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO’s. These inhumane environments are typically toxic breeding grounds for pathogens.

These animals spend their short, miserable lives on concrete and steel grates. Antibiotics are given liberally with their feed, making their massive waste even more toxic.

This is why you can smell a CAFO swine operation miles before you see it. At an operation like Joel Salatin’s, you couldn’t smell any sign of pigs. These pigs were raised humanely and organically, where both animal and land are managed symbiotically.

Unfortunately, raising animals in CAFO’s is the standard for Americans. For many of us, CAFO pork is the only option available.

Granted, the occasional consumption of pork might be fine, but it’s a risk, and the more you consume it the more likely it is that you will eventually acquire some type of infection.”

If The Pressing Health Concerns Aren’t Enough…

It’s a sad fact that 97 percent of all pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms. This means that these pigs will never get to run on grass, breathe fresh air, or play in the sun. They are cramped and crowded into huge warehouses and fed a diet largely consisting of drugs and antibiotics to keep them alive and to encourage rapid growth.

Many people believe that pigs are highly intelligent creatures. Some say they are smarter than dogs, and others say they are smarter than your average 3 year old. Pigs can form complex social networks and they also have excellent memories.

If pigs were given the sufficient space that they need, they wouldn’t be soiling the areas where they sleep and eat, but in the factory farms the pigs have no choice but to live in their own feces, urine and vomit. Because of this, many (about 1/4) of pigs suffer from mange, an extremely itchy painful rash that doesn’t go away.

Sadly, because of the conditions the pigs are forced to live in they are inhaling toxic gas such as ammonia that comes from the urine and feces, this gas irritates the animals lungs to the point where over 80% of the pigs raised in the U.S. have pneumonia at the time of slaughter.

The horrors that these creatures have to endure on factory farms goes on and on, what was mentioned here is just the tip of what is actually going on behind closed doors.

What Can We Do?

If you insist on eating pork, do so extremely sparingly, and if you can, make sure that it is raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals, that it has been raised on a pasture and fed a healthy diet.

You have a right to choose, so choose wisely. Every single day you make a choice of what you are putting onto your fork.

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Source: collective-evolution.com

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Muslim Youth: Between Faith and Today’s Challenges

Muslim Youth: Between Faith and Today’s Challenges

 

nature

Set the right intention and use the power of that intention to get closer to your goals.

Life as a Muslim youth can be turbulent and filled with many challenges. Certain situations can dampen your spirit and affect your motivation. But there are many ways to make your youthly journey smoother.

There are youth hacks you can utilize to get you closer to your worldly and hereafter goals.

You may think you have read it all when it comes to such life hacks. Well, check out the following – they will change the way you view the opportunities and potentials of your youth.

The hacks will help you live a more creative and productive youth.

Below are 11 youth hacks you probably didn’t think much ado about. Let’s dive in…

1– Deep Faith

As a Muslim, all of your actions are tied to your intentions. Therefore, you need to polish your iman (faith) with the correct intention. Set the right intention and use the power of that intention to get closer to your goals. To set such an intention, ask yourself these three questions; Why am I doing this? For whose pleasure is it? What do I hope to achieve from it?

If your answers are not tied to the pleasure of Allah; betterment of self and society; success on worldly and hereafter level, then check yourself, readjust your intention so that you can set the right foundation for your goals.

2– Right Attitude

Delete the word ‘perfection‘ from your dictionary. Insert the word ‘excellence’ instead. Imbibing ihsan (excellence) in all of your actions will allow you to have a job well done, knowing that you have exerted your youthful energy to the best levels and even if no one sees you with your efforts – Allah (Exalted be He) is All-Seeing and All-Hearing.

Seeking perfection on the other hand will cause you stress and make you frustrated at your best attempts. If you want success of the best kind, Paradise, then prepare to work for it in an excellent manner and with the right attitude.

3. Personal Growth

De-clutter your brain regularly and download all of its content into an idea bank. You can use journals (hard or soft copy) to bank those thoughts, feelings and important ideas. Safeguard your bank and use its contents for planning each little step towards your big goals.

4- Inner Belief

Call yourself a success and believe it. Allah blessed you with a special gift, as each person is endowed with a unique talent. So whether you have it all figured out or not, be positive while you seek out those strengths and talents. You will be surprised at what you find out.

Use a label that will help you cross the barrier of self doubt and negative inner talk. Strengthen your inner belief even as you seek your passion and remain focused towards your goals. Remember that in the Prophet (peace be upon him) you have the best example.

5- Network

Engage positively with other creative & productive minds. This could easily be through online or offline groups. Or you could simply create your own mastermind.

road

If you want success of the best kind, Paradise, then prepare to work for it in an excellent manner, with the right attitude.

Actively seek the right company because those closest to you will either mark or make you. With the right company, you can get new ideas, explore different concepts and find the opportunity to express yourself.

So who do you call your friend, buddy or mentor? Will s/he be a support for helping you achieve your goals or serve only as a distraction? Look around you and make the best choice for your networking.

6- Change Environment

Travel when you can, or simply change your environment often. Move outdoors to the garden, park or visit a neighbor. The lessons from travel are many, especially as it serves as a means to explore and reflect on the signs of the Creator.

It will also give you a fresh perspective and different ways of viewing things. You will also feel energized from the surrounding potential and interaction with others. This will serve as a means of taking action towards your goals.

7- Take Breaks

It is so easy to ‘feel’ busy these days. Most youth are chatting away on their phones or posting updates at the same time laptops are on with several tabs open. You may find the headphone on and the same person still trying to hold a conversation in real time. Hey…. you! Are you for real?

Learn to take frequent breaks after focused work/study sessions. This could be from a few minutes to half an hour but break the work/study session so your mental energy could get some refreshing boost.

Also endeavor to pray at the appointed times, as this gives you the perfect break times and nothing really relaxes and refreshes the mind as prayer does.

8- Family Time

Spend time with your family no matter what. Plan to spend Eid together or plan activities for weekends/ school holidays.  You get the double reward of keeping up with the ties of kinship and in building an emotional support network for yourself. Foster such relationships especially in youth when you most likely have less responsibilities.

Technology makes it easier if your family members live far away. You can make free skype video calls, hold live chats and even conference calls if different family members live in various locations. An SMS or email can also go far in keeping the bond alive.

9- Lifelong Learning

Each day brings with it new learning opportunities – even when they look like obstacles. So dig deeper to find opportunities to learn even faced with challenges. There are many profound lessons for every youth in the Qur’an to learn from stories of the past. So make it your number 1 manual.

You should aim to become a lifelong reader as this will open the door to explore, think and develop your mind in general. Do not confine learning to only your school or workplace. Make it a part of your daily experience and with some essential learning skills, you are set to go.

10- Build Skills

From building a new hobby to jump-starting an old one, we are always in constant need of sharpening our skill set to help reach our ultimate goals. Work on your much needed skills, one skill at a time – from social skills to goal-setting skills, thinking skills, da`wah skills and entrepreneurial skills. What are your goals for the moment – start with the relevant skills in that direction.

11- Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping is an activity I utilize all the time – for brainstorming, capturing ideas, planning, note taking and brainstorming. It is simple, visual and powerful for sparking your creative thinking mode. From your long term goals, to more frequent reviews and the short term planners, unleash your creative spark by trying your hands at a map mind.

Use it for your hifz (memorizing) plan, blogging topics, ideas, travel plans and study schedule.

So are you ready to take steady steps towards your goals?

On your marks!

Set your goals, make a sincere intention towards achieving them, have deep faith and try to face up to your tasks with excellence. Balance it all with the personal belief in your potential,    network with the right people so that you can bounce ideas off a mentor or peers, change your environment often and keep away from negative people.

Your body is an amanah (trust) given to you by Allah, so take care of it with regular breaks. Make time for your family members too. Remember to invest in your learning & build relevant skills to navigate your youth.

Always brainstorm and create a means to experience your goals through map mapping and utilizing as many senses as possible to engage and reflect.

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Source:youthlyhub.com

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Muslim and True Sense of Belonging

Muslim and True Sense of Belonging

 

Minarets in America

To believe, along with the recollection of the presence of the Creator, is a way of understanding one’s life within creation and among people.

Muslims today experience, sometimes with a great deal of tension, conflicts of belonging, and if they themselves do not feel it as such, their fellow-citizens sometimes manage to connect them with another belonging – to “their community,” “their brothers” from some other place, as if this attribution were one more sign that they do not really belong to the Western nations.

For decades the same intentional process has been directed in Europe against Jews, whose genuine loyalty has always been suspect. Muslims face the same judgment, and international events push them even more onto the defensive.

So this issue must be dealt with particularly explicitly. Let us ask the questions clearly and simply: should Muslims be defined in the light of the notion of community (ummah), or are they simply Muslim citizens of one or another Western country? To which group or collectivity do they belong first, to the Ummah or to the country in which they live as residents or citizens?

These are sensitive questions, for behind their outward meaning we find the fundamental question: Is it possible for a Muslim to be an authentic European or American, a real citizen, a loyal citizen?

Belonging to the Islamic Ummah

The essence of the Muslim personality is the affirmation of the Shahadah (Declaration of Faith). If we had to look for the minimal element on which Muslims agree for the definition of their common identity, we would certainly find that it was this fundamental profession of faith, which, when declared sincerely, makes the individual a Muslim.

This Shahadah is not a simple statement, for it contains a profound perception of the Creation that itself gives rise to a specific way of life for the individual, as for the society. The permanent link with God, the recollection that we belong to Him and will return to Him sheds an intense light on our person because we understand that life has meaning and that all people will have to account for their actions. This ’intimate thought of every action‘ is one of the major dimensions of Islamic spirituality that, without any form of institutionalized influence, prompts every believer to decide on the markers for his social life.

To believe, along with the recollection of the presence of the Creator, is a way of understanding one’s life within creation and among people, for, from the Islamic point of view, to be with God is to be with human beings. This is the meaning of tawheed (Oneness of God) in Islam.

In Islam, there are four circles or areas that, at various levels and with specific prerogatives, should be highlighted in order to explain the social significance of the teaching of Islam, from the family to the Ummah and finally to the whole of humankind.

Immediately after the recognition of the presence of a Creator, which is the fundamental vertical dimension, a first horizontal area is opened up in matters to do with human relations. The strong affirmation of the Oneness of God and the worship of Him is linked as an essential condition with respect for parents and good behavior toward them.

The first area in social relations, which is based on family ties, is basic for Muslims. The Qur’an connects the reality of tawheed with respect for parents in numerous verses:

Do not set up any other deity side by side with God, lest you find yourself disgraced and forsaken: For your Lord has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto your parents. Should one of them, or both, attain old age, in your care, never say ‘Ugh’ to them or scold them, but (always) speak unto them with reverent speech, and spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow Your grace upon them, as they cherished and reared me when I was a child.’ (Al-Israa’ 17:22-24)

To serve one’s parents and be good to them is the best way of being good before God. It is one of the most important teachings of Islam, and the Prophet constantly emphasized it with supporting injunctions, such as the famous hadith: “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers.” (Muslim)

Nevertheless, there may be a situation when parents ask something that is against the faith and God’s commands, in which case a son or a daughter should not obey, although they should remain respectful and polite. The most important of these commands is, of course, not to associate any other god with God, and if parents order their children to do this, they should refuse:

But if both try to force you to associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them; keep company with them in this world in an appropriate way, but follow the way of those who turn to Me. (Luqman 31:15)

This refusal to obey certain pressures exercised by one’s parents clearly shows where the priorities lie with regard to authority from the Islamic point of view: one should please both God and one’s parents, but one should not disobey God in order to please one’s parents. This was confirmed in general terms by the Prophet: “There should be no obedience to a creature in disobedience to the Creator.” (Muslim)

This means that despite the importance of parental ties, which are where identity and fundamental belonging lie for a Muslim, they are not the first or the most important criterion in determining and guiding human relations.

If a Muslim has to choose between fairness, which God has commanded should be practiced and respected, and himself, his parents, or his loved ones, he should prefer justice, for such an act bears true witness to his faith:

O You who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own interests or those of your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over (the claims of) either. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort (the truth), behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do! (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

A Muslim belongs above all to God, and this belonging influences and illumines with a particular light each social sphere in which he or she is involved. To believe in God and to bear witness to His message before the whole of humankind means that the fundamental values He has revealed, such as honesty, faithfulness, fairness, and justice, all have priority over parental ties.

Consequently, Muslims must respect family ties (and by extension ties with community, people, and nation), as long as no one forces or compels them to act against their faith or conscience.

Thus, the first area of social relations in Islam associates father and mother very closely with the concept of the family, which refers, in the broad Islamic sense, to close relations and to everyone with whom one has a family relationship.

The individual affirmation of Islamic faith by means of the Shahadah and the recognition of the family as the first area of social life are the prerequisites for entering into the second circle of social relations in Islam. Each of the four practical pillars of Islamic religious practice has a double dimension, individual and collective.

By trying to excel in the practice of their religion, Muslims are immediately called to face the communal dimension of the Islamic way of life. Most Qur’anic injunctions are addressed to the believers in the plural: “O bearers of the faith. . . .” and when Muslims recite Al-Fatihah (‘the opening chapter’ of the Qur’an) in each prayer cycle, they present themselves as members of a community by saying: “You alone we worship, to You alone we turn for help. Guide us in the right way.”  (Al-Fatihah 1:5, 6)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, Oxford University Press (2004).

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How the Prophet Cared for Converts

How the Prophet Cared for Converts

We can admit that we have a lot of room for improvement to get back to this idea of Islam being a refuge for people as they embrace Islam.

We have a lot of room for improvement to get back to the fact of Islam being a refuge for people as they embrace Islam.

It’s amazing to reflect upon that moment when the revelation came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and how people begin to embrace Islam and begin to follow the Prophet.

In a very real way Islam comes as a healing, but also as a disruptive force to the Arabian Peninsula. The nature of true religion is that it adds a taste to the society and highlights the negative things and ills in that society that need to be remedied. And it acts as the refuge for people in that society that may be suffering from the ills and in it. And this was the very case when Allah revealed the final revelation to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

And so, people begin to embrace Islam, at first in smaller numbers, congregating in Dar Al-Arqam (the house where the Muslims used to meet) in Makkah. Then, as time passes, more and more people embrace Islam.

Just reflect for a moment on the idea that the Prophet and his closest Companions were there for people as they embraced Islam. That was a was a very real opportunity for a human transition to take place in addition to people processing and digesting the revelation as it came to the Prophet. With that came the idea of there being a refuge or safe place for people as they embraced Islam.

If you fast forward to our day and time and think for a moment about the parallel between Dar Al-Arqam; this refuge for new Muslims, this safe space for people, and what people find in our communities, I think– if we were honest with ourselves- we can admit that we have a lot of room for improvement to get back to this idea of Dar Al-Arqam; to get back to the idea of a refuge for people as they embrace Islam.

Social Redemption

Just because like people were fleeing from negative norm in the Arabian Peninsula in the sixth century to Islam, there are people embracing Islam today, not only seeking other-worldly redemption, not only seeking theological truth, but also seeking social redemption and seeking social safety. So, as they come to the Muslim community they are going to look for a safe space.

Reflect for a moment on the idea the Companions could talk to the Prophet about whatever was going on in their life for better or for worse, and the way they met with that open prophetic heart.

Reflect for a moment upon the priority the Prophet put on new Muslims and the sensitivity that day brought with them.

In an authenticated narration, in different variances of it, Mother `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that the Prophet said to her: “O `A’ishah! Were your people not new to Islam, I would have rebuilt the Ka`bah on the foundation of Abraham.” (Al-Bukhari)

In other words, the Prophet knew that the Ka`bah was built on other than the exact foundation that Abraham (peace be upon him) had built it, and that if it wasn’t going to affect the sensibilities of the people of Makkah who were new to Islam, he would have put it back into its original foundation. So, think about it. For the Prophet (peace be upon him) the sensibilities of people that were new to Islam are a priority over the exact placing of the Ka`bah.

So what then does this say about us if we were to say: ‘well, you know we really want to make a safe space for converts in our community, but it would disrupt the standard of religiosity’? As it were we’ve established our community and it would disrupt the kind of norm that we have in our community. So, converts are going to have to find another kind of comfort from whatever going on.

I think that we can do better; we can revisit this idea and make our community spaces safe spaces for people as they are new to Islam, as they are fleeing from whatever they are fleeing from to Islam. And whether this be by way of conversion to Islam or by way of recommitment to Islam or revisiting Islam, we have a lot of room for improvement in terms of making sure that our communities are safe spaces.

We ask Allah to give us success to be with what is pleasing to Him in that regard and enable us to bring about more safe spaces in our community.

Watch Sheikh Usama Canon’s talk here…

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