A Quick Conversation on Hadith: Its Science and Logic

While discussing with a sister the topic of Hadith and its key role in the practice of Islam, she responded as follows (edited for publication):

“Ok Yunus, you might be right. I’ll give you one example regarding a hadith I used to come across frequently in hadith books (that’s all I read at the time!).
The hadith says:
“The Prophet (SAW) used to love eating garlic, so much that he (SAW) ate it all the time and recommended that others eat it for their health. He (SAW) also loved the taste of it…

Now another hadith I ran into said that “The Prophet (SAW) hated garlic (i.e., the taste of it) but wouldn’t forbid eating it: he (SAW) simply would not eat it, and he (SAW) didn’t mind if others ate it, so long as it was not before attending the masjid.”

And lastly, the final one I came across said, “The Prophet (saw) would not eat garlic, and he (SAW) told others not to eat it either.”

Now who could believe the hadith collections after seeing such contradiction?
Our religion was not made to be complicated! I hate how humans messed up the translation of the Prophet’s (saw) life and made our religion harder and look bad.

Explain this please!”

The sister had a point. Today, many people get confused when they see contradictory messages within the deen. And sheytan loves to use such confusion to stir up fitna, create doubt, and whisper to the Muslim to encourage him or her to interpret hadith in the fashion that suites their own desires.

As a response to the sisters excellent question, I wrote the following. Perhaps others may find it useful as well. For this reason, I share it here (edited for publication):

“Good question! This topic is a very deep one but unfortunately I can only afford a quick response as I am now at work. Before I get started, let me say that my own understanding of the hadith you referenced is that the Prophet (SAW) said the angels don’t like the smell of onions and garlic and so not to eat onions and garlic before attending the masjid or doing a group zhikr.

However, to better understand your own line of questioning, there are two things we need to know about hadith:

1. Hadith can be fabricated (meaning, like you mention, some evil or self-centered people added their own hadiths). This is the problem with most religions: they were changed over time. However, if one studies the deeper science of hadith collection, you quickly find out that hadith have ‘rankings’ of weak, sound, strong, and authentic (and maybe some others). This is because the collectors of hadith researched the chains of transmission through known “non-liars.” For example, they met a shaykh of good character and reknowned for his adab (manners), ethics, and following the shariah. They know he is good. They ask him about any hadith he knows, and he tells about the hadith and they ask then: “Who did YOU learn it from?” And based on the known character/ethics/shariah observance etc of the transmitter(s) they would then rank the hadith. If a hadith had only a small number of transmitters, the strength of the hadith was reduced, and if it had a lot, the strength was increased. Now, you should know that more than once the hadith compilers came upon a hadith that they very much felt was a good and true hadith. But because the transmitter was of questionable character, they excluded the hadith from the collection. My point here is to illustrate the soundness of the various hadith collections (such as Tirmidhi, Muslim, Bukhari, Ibn Majah, etc.)

2: Hadith are collections of what he (SAW) said and did. However, many times, the context of the hadith is removed. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that “beginners” not simply run to the hadith collections. This is because they risk picking and choosing hadith to suite their own desires and needs. Many groups of Muslims do that today (and end up making other Muslims such as yourself very disgruntled!).

Now in answer to your question, I want to illustrate that it is possible for all three hadith to be perfectly true.

For example, you can legitimately tell two different people different things about a particular subject. Now later, when these people are asked about what you said, they both reveal it. However, because you were telling each something according to your own relationship with them, WHAT you said differs.

For example: If you taught at the masjid, and you disliked garlic, you would say: “Don’t eat garlic and onions before coming to the Masjid”
You then go home, and guess what? Of course: you STILL dislike garlic, so you turn to your husband (with whom you are intimate) and you say: “I HATE garlic, don’t you EVER eat it!!!!!!”

HA! See? This simple example very quickly explains that two of the three hadith you asked about could very well be accurate.

Now to PROVE that all three hadith could very well be real and possible: (just to restore your faith in the hadith): Think of how often your food preferences changed over the course of your life? I remember as a child, I HATED, HATED tomatoes!!!! I also know many people LOVEEEEEEEEEED Ice cream and candies and sweets as children!!!!

But… After growing up, I find that now I LOVE tomatoes and all these people who used to love ice cream and sweets HATE them because they developed lactose intolerance and heart issues ;-)

So, you see, when applying the hadith, one must understand the context in which Rasool (saw) said the utterance, to whom, and what was the Hikma behind it.

God bless you for having spent the time to read this short note and inshAllah it will help remove any doubt you might have harbored regarding why some hadith appear contradictory.

Ma Salaama and Barakallahu Feekum,
Br. Yunus


Spiritual Disease and Muslim Health

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem
May Allah send peace and blessing upon our Prophet Muhammad

If you look at diseases, many are ones in which the carrier is contagious whether or not they exhibit any of the disease’s symptoms, for example: the cold, the flu, HIV, and strep throat (i). While the cold seems very innocuous, seemingly causing little discomfort (comparatively), the others are far more serious, even fatal. Further complicating the matter is that even after people become symptomatic; it is possible that they hide their illness. In both cases (an asymptomatic carrier and an infected carrier who hides the symptoms), the patient is infected and contagious though you fail to see symptoms manifest in the carrier’s health and well-being. Whether or not you wish, simply by being in their presence you expose yourself to the illness that they carry.

Furthermore, the risk to health dramatically increases the more one is exposed directly to the vectors of a disease’s transmission. For example, being in the same room and breathing the same air as someone with the flu but without symptoms exposes the person to a certain level risk (ii). However, sharing a soda or glass of water with the person results in a spike to one’s level of risk.

Again it must be stressed that this risk is very much real, even when symptoms are completely absent (or hidden by the carrier).

Now, the situation becomes more interesting when people become knowledgeable about the carriers of disease. When healthy people learn of another’s infection (regardless of symptoms), you will see them begin to change their behavior to minimize their risk of exposure. This is a sign of a person’s knowledge. Such an individual readily acknowledges that the disease can spread, that the infected individual has the disease, and as a result, the individual takes necessary actions to eliminate the vectors of transmission (according to that person’s understanding).

So for example, I am a knowledgeable person. I go about my daily business taking general care to avoid exposure to unknown harms. I wash my hands when necessary; I keep my desk clean, I am conscious of things I touch. However, if one day I go to work and learn that my co-worker has caught strep throat, though the person shows no symptoms, I become overly cautious around the co-worker. I may actively avoid speaking with or going near him or her. Should I find that I touched anything with which he or she had contact, I would make haste to the sink and wash my hands. Without a doubt I would not share a drink or morsel of food with the co-worker. In other words, my ‘prophylactic’ behavior quickly changes in light of my knowledge vis-a-vis the carrier of disease.

In Islam, spiritual diseases are so-called because they very much mirror the physical diseases that afflict humanity. For example, spiritual diseases are of different types, with differing levels of severity, and which have different vectors of transmission specific to different times and environments (iii). A lesser known fact (amongst Muslims) is that just like physical diseases, many spiritual diseases are highly contagious. They can spread from one person to another, even if the carrier (iv) does not actively exhibit the symptoms. This being the case, what are some basic, tangible behaviors we can engage in so that we avoid contracting a spiritual disease?

Before listing a few behaviors, which should be of immense benefit to faithful practitioners, one must point out that the topic of spiritual disease and how to cultivate spiritual health is far more lengthy a topic than this simple essay allows.

That said, to quickly optimize one’s health, we can review a few basic prophylactic (v) behaviors which if followed can result in a decrease in risk vis-a-vis contraction of spiritual disease.

Don’t knowingly expose yourself to a disease.

This precaution can be summed up as follows:
• Part 1: If you see people engaged in sin (i.e., people with symptoms of disease), avoid their company while they are sinning (vi). When the Watchfulness of Allah is neglected and sins are committed, the sheyateen are gathered about the people, encouraging them and feeding off of their ignorance and darknesses (vii).

• Part 2: Abstain from as much sin as is possible (viii). Don’t use the drugs, don’t steal the desired objects, don’t purposefully hurt others, don’t express your anger destructively, don’t speak ill of one another. Sinning is the action by which a disease first appears and then worsens in your spirituality (ix). Such behavior is tantamount to purposefully exposing oneself directly to the disease (breathing in the exhalation of a diseased person, sharing drinks with someone afflicted with the stomach flu, etc.). It is a time when the disease enters into you. This simple step however, can be quite difficult for many people. If you find yourself in this case (post-infection, having committed a sin), you can attempt to remove the contagion by taking some medication, of which the best is seeking repentance (x). Those with addictions (very bad diseases): don’t despair and abandon repentance (xi). That only worsens the disease to the point of hellfire (as despair in the Mercy of Allah is from the shaytan). Allah loves those who come to Him with a mountain of sins seeking forgiveness and Allah loves those who continually turn to Him in repentance. (xii) (xiii)

Avoid (or minimize exposure to) carriers of a spiritual disease, even if they do not exhibit symptoms.

It should be emphasized that the hearts of sickened people can spread their disease to your heart simply by proximity, whether or not they exhibit symptoms! (xiv) (xv)

Seek out and surround yourself with those who are not diseased themselves but are successful in curing and assisting the diseased. (xvi) (xvii)

The benefits of this action should be sought out even if you are in a horrible state yourself and given to sin as in the old adage: “Put a donkey into a cave of salt and over time the donkey turns to salt.” By associating with healers of disease, you make yourself available to treatment and allow for the identification of diseases and cancers in their infancy, before they explode, metastasize or otherwise threaten your inner stability. An added benefit to spending time with the pious is that you slowly absorb their spiritual knowledge (xviii). Some people have a hard time realizing the very real spiritual benefits of physical proximity to pious people. One example that best illustrates this noble truth is the hadith regarding the out-loud halaqa zhikr included in both Muslim and Bukhari, included in its entirety here for your benefit:

Our beloved Prophet (saw) said that there are special angels that roam the Earth, looking for gatherings of dhikr. When they find a group they call one another and encompass the gathering in layers until the first heaven. After the gathering glorifies Allah (swt) the angels return to their lord.

Allah (swt) asks His angels, Where have you been? (Even though He already knows; when one loves someone he loves hearing his name mentioned by others). The angels will inform Allah (swt) of the name of the gathering.

Allah (swt) will ask His angels “What were my servants doing?” The angels will reply: “They were praising You, magnifying Your Name and glorifying You.

Allah (swt) will ask them “Have they seen Me?” The angels will answer: “No, By Allah! They have not seen You.” Allah (swt) will say: “(They are praising Me without seeing Me,) what if they had seen Me” The angels would answer: “O Lord, if they had seen You, they would have glorified You more intensely.”

Allah (swt) will say: “What were they asking for?” The angels will reply “They were asking for Paradise!” Allah (swt) will say: “Have they seen Paradise?” The angels will say: “By Allah, no, they have not seen it.” Allah (swt) will say “What would they do if they had seen it?” The angels will reply: “If they had seen Paradise, they would become more attached and attracted to it, and would seek it with a greater zeal and enthusiasm!”

Allah would ask the angels “What were they seeking refuge from?” The angels will reply they were seeking refuge from the Hell (fire). Allah would then ask the angels: “Have they seen the Hell (fire)?” The angels will say: “By Allah, no, they have not seen it.” Allah will say “What would they do if they had seen it?” The angels will reply: “If they had seen the Hell (fire), they would fear it even more and ask refuge from it with greater intensity.

Then Allah will say to the angels I make you witnesses that I have forgiven them. One of the angels will say: “O my Lord, someone was there who did not belong to that group, but came for some other need.” (That person came for some purpose other than dhikr.) Allah will inform the angels that the benefits of sitting in a gathering of Dhikr are such that anyone who sits with them, for whatever reason, will also have his sins forgiven.”

Prevention is the best cure (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure).

We know the benefit of eating right and the dangers of not eating properly, so to be healthy, we strive to eat the rights types of foods and avoid unhealthy foods. When the weather outside is cold, we dress well to keep our immune systems up. If the environment includes gases or other material hazardous to our health, we take the proper precautions such as medical masks, goggles, shields, etc. And we know that even if we fall victim to one disease, we continue to prevent ourselves from acquiring new diseases. In our society today, the best of prevention comes in the form of remembrance (zhikr) and deep contemplation (fikr).

Zhikrullah is such an important form of ibadaat that should one abandon it (naoozubillah), Allah assigns for them a personal shaytan (in addition to the one that normally whispers to them!) (xix). And one can view salat is a form of zhikr (xx), protecting you from all sorts of diseases (xxi). Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad (saw) was commanded to be with the types of people who make zhikr (Zakireen) (xxii). What a status the zakireen have, that Allah Himself commands His Servant to associate with them! Such an ibadaat that wards off shaytan and indeed attracts the foremost of Prophets must be inculcated.

Likewise, Fikr has such a high station, not only because it is mentioned in thousands of ayats (as a means of increasing one’s faith), but also because Allah many times upbraids unbelievers accusing them of not doing fikr (explaining that their lack of Fikr was cause for them going astray) (xxiii). Throughout the Qur’an, Allah reminds us that in all things, there are signs for believers who investigate and do fikr on them.

So for the sake of His promises as regards the benefits of fikr, and through just such a fikr on physical disease, it is hoped we obtain a deeper knowledge of spiritual disease. In conclusion, this small fikr on outward diseases and our behavior vis-à-vis their prevention affords us a measure of insight into the world of inner, spiritual diseases through which we navigate on a daily basis. May Allah grant us all success in warding off the spiritual diseases with which sheytan constantly tries to infect us, and may He lessen any diseases to which we may have fallen victim, AMIN Ya Rabb.

———————————————————————————————–

[i] http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000678.htm

[iv] A carrier is someone infected with a disease.

[v] i.e., protective

[vi] Qur’an 4:140: “Already has He sent you Word in the Book, that when ye hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme: if ye did, ye would be like them. For Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith – all in Hell” Translation: Yusuf Ali.

[vii] Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (Rahmatu Allayhi) reported God’s Messenger as saying: When a person enters his house and mentions the name of God at the time of entering it and while eating the food, Satan says (addressing himself: You have no place to spend the night and no evening meal; but when he enters without mentioning the name of God, the Satan says: You have found a place to spend the night, and when he does not mention the name of God while eating food, he (the Satan) says: You have found a place to spend the night and evening meal. (Sahih Muslim, Book 23, Number 5006)

[viii] Qur’an 6:120: “Eschew all sin, open or secret: those who earn sin will get due recompense for their “earnings.” Translation: Yusuf Ali.

[ix] The Prophet said: “When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. But if he give it up, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart will be cleansed, but if he repeats it, (the blackness) will increase until it overwhelms his heart. This is the raan which Allaah mentions: ‘Nay! But on their hearts is the Raan (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn’ [al-Mutaffifeen 83:14].” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3257; Ibn Maajah, 4234

[x] Ibid.

[xi] It was said to al-Hasan al-Basri (Rahmahtu Allayhi): Would not any one of us feel ashamed before his Lord to seek forgiveness from his sin then go back to it, then seek forgiveness then go back to it? He said: The Shaytan would like you to feel that way; never give up seeking forgiveness.

[xii] Abu Hurayrah (Rahmahtu Allayhi) reports that the Prophet said that his Lord said: “My slave commits sin, then he says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.’ Then he commits sin again, and says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.’ Then he commits sin again, and says, ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ Then Allah says, ‘My slave has committed a sin, but he knows that he has a Lord Who forgives sin and takes away sin. So I forgive My slave.’ …” narrated Al-Bukhari (7507) and Muslim (2758).

[xiii] Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Rahmahtu Allayhi) said that Ibn Abi Dunya (Rahmahtu Allayhi) narrated that ‘Ali (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “The best of you is every tempted one who repents (i.e., every time he is tempted by this world, he repents).” It was said, “What if he sins again?” He said, “He should ask Allah for forgiveness and repent.” It was said, “What if he sins again?” He said, “He should ask Allah for forgiveness and repent.” It was said, “What if he sins again?” He said, “He should ask Allah for forgiveness and repent.” It was said, “For how long?” He said, “Until the Shaytan is defeated.”

[xiv] Hasan Al-Basri (Rahmahtu Allayhi) said: “Do not sit with the companion of innovation; for verily he will sicken your heart.” [Al-Bi'dah wan Nahee 'Anhaa pg.54]

[xv] Related by Abu Musa (Rahmahtu Allayhi) who said that the Prophet said: “The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” (Sahih Bukhari Vol: 7 No: 442)

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] .Qur’an 9:119: “O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds)” Translation: Yusuf Ali

[xviii] As footnote 15 above, Sahih Bukhari Vol: 7 No: 442

[xix] Qur’an 43:36-37 “If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of (Allah)The Most Gracious, We appoint for him an evil one, to be an intimate companion to him. Such (evil ones) really hinder them from the Path, but they think that they are being guided aright!” Translation: Yusuf Ali

[xx] Qur’an 20:14: “So establish prayer for My remembrance.” Translation: Sahih International

[xxi] Qur’an 29:45: “…and establish Regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.” Translation: Yusuf Ali.

[xxii] Qur’an 18:28: “And keep yourself (O Muhammad) patiently with those who call on their Lord (i.e. your companions who remember their Lord with glorification, praising in prayers, and other righteous deeds) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face” Translation: Mohsin Khan

[xxiii] c.f. Qur’an 36:77 – 83


With Hardship is Ease

Woods trail 2

When we’re inside a dark room, no matter how small the room is and how bright the day is on the other side of the wall, we feel that the entire universe is as dark as our eyes can see.

We, poor limited creatures, seldom realize that going out to the light sometimes requires going through dark rooms. It could be the only way out; we just do not and cannot see the full map when we’re down there, right in the middle of it!

So with hardship there is ease; truly with hardship there is ease” Quran, 94:5-6

Don’t dwell on the tragedy of being inside this dark and cold spot right now, instead, know that the sun is shining just a few steps away from you. With Allah as the Master of your life, you’re on your right path, just make sure you keep moving forward, and don’t you stand still, so your stay in the Dark Room won’t be unnecessarily prolonged!


Optimism and the Law of Attraction in Islam

Chicago DT12

Have ever wondered why some people are so successful and happy in life, while others are not? Have you ever noticed that good things seem to happen to happy people, while bad things happen to angry and pessimistic people?

Not long ago, a book was published, which had a great success, and it was entitled: “The Secret”. It tries to give an answer to the previous questions, and it claims that the secret of happy and successful people lies in what is called, “the Law of Attraction.”

So what is the Law of Attraction, and do we have it anywhere in the teachings of our religion? I will tell you what the secret and what the Law of Attraction are, then I will explain that the belief in this so-called secret, which was told about by our Prophet and revealed in the Quran in the most simple and expressive ways, is in fact essential for a true Islamic life-style. It is essential for the inner life of a true Muslim and believer.

We need to remember that a Muslim is not a Muslim only by how she or he looks and what she or he does. Yes actions are very important, but only when they have a spiritual foundation. That’s why intention is so important in Islam. Intention can make all the difference between two identical acts. Consider the act of praying. The act is the very same. But when we pray to God, we are blessed, while those who pray to be seen by people as righteous and devout believers are doomed hypocrites.

“Woe to those who pray, those who are unmindful of their prayers, who pray but to be seen”. Quran 107:4-6

Therefore we need to focus on and take care of our inner world, because it makes all the difference. Our inner world is formed of beliefs and feelings, of images and memories, of hopes, wishes, expectations, fears, etc. All those things are the elements of this inner world which we need to pay attention to and adapt to the teachings of Islam. We need to be Muslims, to fully submit to our Creator, from the inside out. We can’t fully do that until we take control of our inner life.

Please keep that in mind while I am telling you what the Law of Attraction is. It’s very simple: you attract what you think of, you get what you expect. This is the secret. This is why some people are so successful and others aren’t. And indeed this is so clearly stated throughout the Quran, the teachings and the example of the Prophet.

According to the Law of Attraction, if you’re pessimistic, bad things will happen to you. If you do everything in a spirit of fear and despair, you won’t get any positive results.

So what’s our religion say about that? The prophet mentioned that God says: “I give what my servant is expecting from me.” There is the whole Law of Attraction! It explains the real force behind this law. It’s not the universe that gives you what you expect, it’s a divine law. If you have hope in God, if you are certain that He will give you what’s good, then this is what He indeed will give you. But if you don’t, it’s like you’re saying to Him: I don’t trust You. God is the Generous, if you don’t have hope in His bounties, it only means that you don’t even believe He is really Generous. Do you realize how serious this is?! Now consider all of God’s names and attributes, He is the Forgiving, The Giver, The Provider, The Light, the Generous, the Merciful, The Opener, The Just, the Patient, the Thankful, the Loving, the Enricher, the Guide. Think that, if you fear poverty, you don’t believe He is really the Enricher, the Generous and the Provider. If you fear that your efforts will be fruitless, you don’t believe that He is the Opener and the Grateful, He opens doors and opportunities for you and He rewards you for every good you do,

“We don’t waste the reward of those who do good” Quran 18:30

If you fear injustice, you forget that He is the Just. If you are confused and you don’t think you’ll find your way, you forget that He is the Guide.

Remember that the reason to mention all that is to prove that a Muslim should be positive and focus on the positive; it’s how we Muslims should build our mind and our inner world.

Consider this beautiful verse from surat Al-Baqara:

“Satan promises you poverty and encourages evil doing, and God promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance” Quran 2:268

Did you read that? Poverty is the promise of Satan, while forgiveness and abundance are God’s promise. Which promise are we to believe!?

Remember that poverty is not only lack of money, which is only a manifestation; poverty is first of all a state of mind. Those who live in this state of mind are following and believing Satan instead of God. The poverty state of mind is what leads to being a miser. One can be poor while having tons of money, whereas those who truly believe in God don’t hesitate to give, even if they are not so rich; it’s because they don’t have this poverty state of mind. That also explains why the Prophet used to give so much that his companions said he used to give in the manner of a person who fears no poverty; this is the example of the Prophet who wasn’t really rich as we know.

Let’s also look at some other indications of this Law of Optimism in Islam. The Prophet says “Ask God with firm conviction that He will answer your prayer.” Now imagine the state of mind of a person believing this saying of the Prophet. Imagine that you pray to God and ask Him for good and Halal things, then you go about in life certain that God’s mercy and generosity will give you what you wish. Imagine how much power this will give you, how much enthusiasm and how much hope! It’s true that God will not answer your prayer on the spot, not immediately, but you know He will, and your worries disappear.

Imagine that you have a problem, then you get to meet the President himself and he gives you good promises, how would you be feeling when you leave him? Wouldn’t you be happy and hopeful and full of energy? Well it shouldn’t be any less when you pray to God and ask Him for something too!

I’d also like to share with you a thought about an interesting verse in surat Al-Israa (chapter 11) where God says:

“Man prays for evil just as he prays for good; and Man is ever hasty.”

This verse truly caught my attention, do we humans ask for evil or bad things the way we ask and pray for good things? I think this verse confirms the same idea of the Law of Attraction. I see prayer here as meaning expectation: when you expect the bad, when you are pessimistic, it’s like you’re asking for it. The verse also links this attitude of asking for the bad to being hasty, notice that pessimism is usually connected to impatience as well; a pessimist loses hope as soon as he is challenged, whereas hope can’t be there without patience, because you don’t really expect the good to happen overnight. Reasonable and hopeful people realize that, so they are not hasty and impatient to have what they want.

We also know of the story of a very difficult time that the Prophet and his companions faced, during the battle of the Trench, when Muslims were in Medina expecting a huge coalition of armies coming to attack them. They were outnumbered and by no means were they in a position to defend themselves. The companion Salman Al-Faresi suggested the idea of building a trench around the city. They left their wives and children back in the city and instructed them to remain in their homes and defend themselves if the men get defeated and killed. A very hard time!

Now look at something very interesting and powerful that the Prophet did. While he was hitting a stone, he saw something in the sparks, and he told his companions that they would indeed conquer the great powers of their time, like Persia. This sounded like a huge impossibility. But think of what it did, it created high expectations and high hope in the spirit of those fighters, because they believed that their Prophet would never lie. They needed this hope to keep them moving and trying. This is a very practical indication of how the Prophet actually used the Law of Attraction, of hope and good expectation in order to raise the spirits and inspire power in his followers’ hearts. Eventually his predictions happened after his death, but just think of the attitude of those who listened and firmly believed him, they continued their lives and work confident that they will move from a state of weakness to a state of power.

I will conclude with another beautiful example of how believers keep their hope and optimism. In the story of the Prophet Jacob, in surat Yusuf, we learn how Jacob lost his most beloved son Joseph when he was a kid. Yusuf/Joseph must have been away from his father for at least 20 years, if not 25 or even 30 years. But then what happens when Jacob, after all those years, now that he was even an older man, and he loses yet his second beloved son, Joseph’s brother? Listen to what he says to his other sons as a response to the new and terrible news of losing the second son:

“Oh Sons, go and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope in Allah’s mercy, truly none despairs of Allah’s spirit except those who have no faith.” Quran 12:87

In this verse lies the whole story of optimism in Islam. You can hope for the seemingly impossible, but then you’ll have to work for it. In this verse, Jacob asks his sons to go and search, with hope in God’s mercy, even though it seems so unreal to search for Joseph after all those years or decades, but this is the hope of the true believers. And it comes with active action.

Hope induces action and productivity, while pessimism leads to inaction. We need to focus on that from the inside out, we need to train ourselves to have permanent, unfailing hope in God’s mercy and bounty, a hope that will keep us active and working for the good of ourselves and of Mankind, so that we can perform the duty of Man as a deputy and agent of God on earth.

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What We Should and Can Regarding The Burqa Ban!

France banned the Burqa, and women there are deprived from the right of covering their faces! Some are happy to be finally able to see the faces of these mysterious women by the power of law. Others are unhappy about forcing people to give up parts of their life-style which, after all, is no one’s business - as long as these women don’t object to uncovering their faces when needed.

I personally dislike the burqa, very much. I wouldn’t marry a women covering her face in public, because I know it’s not an Islamic requirement, because I don’t like it, and because, according to my own understanding of my religion, I even believe it to be un-Islamic. Another man might not want to marry a woman who doesn’t wear a burqa, because he thinks it’s un essential manifestation of chastity, or because he lived in Saudi Arabia long enough to actually believe it’s an Islamic requirement! Me and him are free to choose our wives, and our own likes and dislikes are no one’s business but ourselves. Me and him shouldn’t dictate our opinion on women either! Women choose their cloths and their husbands as they wish; while men choose their wives and their beliefs about women’s cloths as they wish too. Simple, isn’t it?! Not really, because we, the human race, insist on complicating the simplicity of life!

I guess we’ll have to live with that, while striving to simplify things as we complicate them. That’s what being human is about: creating problems, then doing our best to fix them!

It’s probably clear, from the above statements, what my personal position is regarding this ban: I do not support any form of forcing people to do or not do (in this case wear or not wear) anything, no matter how much I personally dislike what they’re doing (or wearing, or not wearing!), as long as their choice doesn’t in any way threaten the rights, safety and freedom of others. Period. That’s my universal rule and I apply it to any and every form of human behavior (or so I hope!).

The point I want to make is, in many cases, or most cases when it comes to governments and laws and nations, our personal opinion isn’t the issue, not that it won’t matter in shaping reality, that’s already clear, but it’s not even the issue on a personal level!

We need to be clear, with ourselves, on the many levels of the problem or piece of news we’re dealing with. We need to put it in its context, that is.

One level is our personal conviction and opinion; this has to be clear to start with. We need to know what to think, to decide why we believe what we believe, and to be consistent with all of our values and other beliefs. In my case, I did clarify, clearly (in my opinion!), what that is!

But the context is more complicated. I will throw in some thoughts that put this ban in some context, in order to help us decide how we can and should react to this ban.

1. Most Islamic scholars agree that covering the face is not required. Most agree, based on one hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) that the proper Islamic dress for women means uncovering the face and two hands. While some argue that even this most widely accepted interpretation is not accurate because it’s not clearly mentioned in the Quran (which is true), therefore even covering the hair is not required.

2. The ban, based on #1, does not forbid Muslims from doing anything essential to the practice of their religion, even though it does interfere with the freedom of the women who want to dress this way. Therefore we should be clear that, if we disagree with the ban, it should be based more on civil freedoms than on “defending Islam”.

3. We, and this is very important, should be just as critical of forcing women to uncover their face as we are of forcing them to cover it. Otherwise we would be practicing what we, Muslims, sometimes blame the West of doing (rightfully, at times): double standards! If we’re angry that a Christian European country forbids our Muslim women to dress according to their beliefs, we should as well be angry at Muslim countries forbidding non-Muslims to dress according to their beliefs. If you happen to believe that it’s ok for a Muslim country to require non-Muslims to respect its traditions, then you should also believe that it’s ok for France to require Muslims to respect its traditions too. Consistency is all I’m asking for!

4. It’s ok for Muslims and non-Muslims to fight and speak against this ban, as long as it’s done in the context of a consistent effort of defending the rights of everyone, and especially as long as it is done in a proper, peaceful and calm manner.

5. it’s the duty of Muslims living in France to respect the laws of the land they’re living in. This is an Islamic rule. Muslims should encourage women affected by this ban to obey the law, while working against it according to the rules and laws and democratic tools of their society. Any senseless ranting and expressions of anger should be clearly condemned.

6. And finally, we Muslims should get our priorities straightened up!

A Muslim leader in Libya or Yemen who is killing his people and depriving them from their basic human rights and freedoms is more dangerous to Islam and Humanity than any ban in France!

The fact that hundreds of millions of Muslims are illiterate, live under the poverty line and don’t have any voice in their own homelands should be far more alarming to us than a ban on a burqa!


Where am I?!!

Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, started more than two weeks ago. We stop eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. It might sound too harsh, and hard, for you who are not used to it. But we can handle it pretty well! This is our digestive system yearly break (or so it should be, except for our fellow Muslims who break their fast with massive meals, followed by traditional desserts and drinks!). Fasting is not only about our digestive system for sure, but that’s not today’s topic.

I have made a promise before Ramadan to Helen, a reader who found this blog, took the time to read most of my posts and left me many questions and remarks. Since she took the time to go back and read my old posts, I owe her thorough answers to her questions and comments. And I thank her for pulling me out of my writing laziness and giving me lots of blogging assignments to come :)  I also had the good fortune to get to know new online friends who have lots of curiosity about Islam as well. It seems that this blog is intended to see some lively action soon!

As you may already you, fulfilling one’s promises is required in Islam:

“The hypocrite has three signs: when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust; when he speaks, he lies; and when he promises, he doesn’t fulfill his promise”

Said Prophet Muhammad, hypocrisy being one of the major sins and personality traits leading to Hell according to the Quran. Anyone who has one of those signs, has one share of hypocrisy to work on eliminating!

All that being said, I’m just writing to let my friend Helen know that I didn’t forget my promise to her, and ask that she kindly be patient with me. The low energy due to fasting, and the fact that I’m also moving into another apartment by the end of this month, left me with very little clarity of mind to write anything meaningful! So hopefully after my move is done I will get going next month!

Peace!


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