Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reasons to know

This is the DVD cover with striking photographs and a 'special' message from Geert Wilders, who came to America with an urgent and terrifying warning: "Islam is on verge of conquering the West" and I guess almost everyone of us have seen his documentary entitled 'Fitna'. Well Mr Wilders, if it is true as you claimed Islam is a terrorist religion, I certain that you are not living and freely spread your message to the world while you knew  the fact that  estimated 5 million Muslims living in the United States and 1.2 billion Muslims in the world!

If it is true that Sept. 11 were typical of the faith, and Islam truly inspired and justified such violence, its growth and the increasing presence of Muslims in both Europe and the U.S. would be a terrifying prospect. So we come to this question, why are those people choose and adopt this so called "terrorist religion"(As they claimed) even after Sept. 11? Well, its simply because they explore and study Islam thoroughly and find out what Islam really is
. Within Islam it is both legitimate and right to ask the question: "Why Islam?" Every tenet in Islam is subject to analysis and contention and Allah invites the question as to "why Islam?". So here are 11 reasons for you to explore Islam:

Yes we need a good reason

1. Rational System

Islam is also a rational system which not only allows questions but raises knowledge to a new level of dignity and respect. No other religion has exalted knowledge and its pursuit, as has Islam. In fact, for the first time in human history, a religious book invited people to question the creation of the universe and stated that in it (the universe) were signs for people of knowledge. Everything in Islam is subject to rational pursuit.

Islam has only forbidden the questioning of one thing and this is something which reason cannot handle. However, this does not imply an anti-intellectual attitude. The only thing which Islam has said is not within the capacity of the human mind to question is the essence (dhat) of God. This will always escape a person, as He, Allah, is transcendent. However, His will, His purpose, His works, His intentions and His effects can be known.

Even the rites of Islam can be examined rationally. For example, logical and rational explanations can be made for the time of Prayer, the number of rakats or units in Prayer and even why we must bend our toes when we do. Of course the Muslim will always be aware that the answer he has obtained by rational enquiry is not exhaustive. It cannot be definitely accepted as explaining all the facts. It could be erroneous or incomplete. However, Islam encourages its followers to ask "why Islam?". Islam is an intellectual and historical religion. There are no secrets and no mysteries which cannot be understood by an ordinary person.

2. Easily Understandable

Islam does not present stumbling blocks to the mind. It does not make claims which overwhelm the mind. Islam does not present to a person that which the human intellect cannot grasp. Anyone can understand Islam as it is a universal religion. However, for example, Hinduism legitimizes idolatry for the less educated, as it says, not all people can understand the higher religion of the Brahmans.

3. Universal Message

Islam does not force a person to choose between various religions as it has included the essential teachings of all religions in its universal message. The Islamic concept is that, to every people, Allah sends a Messenger and that in their present religion or ideology they must have retained some kernel of truth from the original teachings of that religion which was, of course, the teachings of the primordial religion (deen al-fitra) or, in other words, Islam.

Islam views inter-religious dialogue as an internal discussion, not as a discussion with outsiders because, from its perspective, all mankind are members of a universal religious brotherhood. So the differences Islam has with other religions are regarded as internal differences. Of course, Islam criticizes some Jews and Christians who have wrongly interpreted their faith, however, this criticism is based on the fact that they have strayed from the original teachings of their religion.

Islam, therefore, was the first religion in the world to call for the critical examination of religious texts. The Muslim says, in effect, to other religions: "Let us together examine the Holy Books of our religions and compare the contents with the original teachings of our respective religions and examine how far we have adhered to, or gone astray from these original teachings." Muslims, therefore, never attack other religions.

4. Religious Tolerance

Islam is tolerant of other religions and regards them as religiously legitimate or de jure. In accepting other religions as legitimate, Islam, therefore, accepts their adherents. No other religion has given equal treatment to other religions as has Islam for over 1400 years. As we well know, Judaism and Roman Catholicism were illegal in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. In Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, it was illegal to have any religion other than Catholicism, and Muslims and Jews had to choose baptism, exile or death. In the Middle East, some Christian sects, which were brutally eliminated by their fellow Christians in Europe, have survived after fourteen centuries of Muslim rule. Secular regimes do not respect religion. They look down upon religion; either they believe any religion will do or they believe no religion is acceptable. The tolerance of other religions in Islam comes from respect because Islam says in every person there is an embryonic fitra or purity planted in all human beings at birth and in every religion there is a basic kind of the original deen al-fitra.

5. The Human Being's Innocence

Islam declares a person to be born with a clean slate. The human being was not born evil but rather he was created good and equipped by nature to fulfill his duties. From the Islamic point of view, the drama of a person's life is something that takes place after birth and not before. Islam does not record a human being as a degradation of the divine as it regards a human being as having instincts which are pure and good.

6. The Human Being: An Integral Whole

Islam does not divide the soul and life of a person into two compartments, i.e. religious or ethical and verbal or material. Islam regards the human being as an integral whole. All of his actions and instincts are part and parcel of his being together with his hopes, fears, certitude, faith and conviction. Islam wants all these to cohere and, therefore, we could say that Islam is mental health par excellence. Islam considers a person's work or even sex in this world as an act of worship.

7. Life Filled With Purpose and Meaning

Islam takes the world of life and existence seriously, declaring it to be full of meaning and purpose. Life is not a sport, nor is it purposeless. From the Islamic perspective, everything has meaning because the concept of God's purpose in creation gives meaning to human life. The Muslim is never bored with life; there is no existential anxiety in Islam. The Muslim can see the working of the good purposes of the divine Creator in everything. The Muslim lives in a world where life is full of meaning and purpose and this means the Muslim never looses his mental balance. In fact, mental illness is very rare in the Muslim community.

8. World-Affirmative

Islam is world-affirmative. For the Muslim the world is good. It is a blessing, it has been created good, to be enjoyed. Islam does not view the world as a demon, it is not valued as being satanic or evil. It is not a degraded kingdom. The world is the only kingdom; the hereafter is not a kingdom but merely a place of Judgment for a human person's actions during his life. For Muslims, the world is a beautiful place; pearls, clothes and horses are to be enjoyed. What is wrong, is its misuse under moral law. The world is good and Muslims are obliged to cultivate it and make it into a garden. The process of organizing people as a community is a religious duty.

No 'ism', ideology or religion matches Islam in its world-affirmative stance. All Muslims should be wealthy and affluent. It is Satan who promises poverty, not God. In fact, the Qur'an criticizes those who were lazy and who failed to migrate, who could not pull themselves up by their bootstraps; they deserved what they got. To be a Muslim is to live in and to be loyal to this world but not above and beyond our loyalty to Allah.

9. A Social Faith

In building this world and conforming it to God's desire, Muslims are told that they must work with each other and not alone. Islam establishes a social order not a mystical order. Islam's social order has teeth, regulated by law, the Shariah. Islam wants to establish a social order to command the good and prevent the evil. However, every Muslim must correct evil. It is his duty, just as much as it is his duty to pray five times a day.

In Islam, it is of the highest degree of faith to plunge into space and time and bring about the transformation of the world in accordance with God's desire. Islam is affirmative action in a social setting; it is neither abstract nor isolationist. Islam establishes justice and an ordered society, regulated by law. Islam guarantees justice for all; Madinah was that class of model society. In those days justice had no price. For several centuries under Islamic rule any citizen who voiced a complaint could be sure that justice would be done. No theory of society can give as much as the Islamic theory of society has given. Society, based on race, language or history are prototypes of the animal world where dog eats dog. The social order of Islam ends this and brings justice to all. A Muslim's mission is to bring order and this international society established by Islam must be carried to the world and, therefore, the Islamic social order seeks universality.

10. Universal System

Islam provides a social order which cannot only tend to be universal but must become universal. The Islamic system is a system for world order and it must spread around the world. Unless it is spread around the world, it will degenerate into a form of nationalism which is haram or unlawful in Islam. Islam is built on the basis of values which are not only for the group which adheres to them, but for the whole of mankind. Allah is the deity of all people and the Islamic concept of society must spread all over the world.

Does Islam deny the value of national, ethnic or linguistic identity and culture? No! Islam recognizes the worth of these national and ethnic groups. Islam does not only tolerate but encourages the development of different ethnic groups. The group has a special perspective on the values affecting people's lives. Insofar as it exists, national culture is encouraged by Islam, but it is subject to the universal law of Allah. The interests of the nation or group must be subject to the moral law, the Shariah, which encompasses the whole of mankind. Islam created a world society and it was Islam, over 1400 years ago, that first established a working system of international law.

It was only in the 20th century that the West started to develop international law. Grotius contributed only wishful thinking. In the West, international law existed only in the imagination until after World War I when the League of Nations was established. The present system of international law is far inferior to the Islamic system of international law because, under the Islamic system, the law of nations is backed by a court and not just a single court in the Hague. Any Shariah court in any part of the world can hear any international dispute to which the parties are not only nations but also individuals. If we want to solve international problems we must make justice under international law possible for everyone.

11. Promoting Harmony With The Environment

Islam is a religion that enables us to live our lives in harmony with nature, ourselves and God. Islam does not compartmentalize but rather unites the life of a person. This is the summum bonum, supreme good of Islam because Islam assures us of happiness in this world and the Next. Presently, people are so madly in pursuit of this world that it has resulted in upsetting the ecology of nature; this because of the decay in the inner nature of human beings. In this age of unprecedented advancements in science and technology, the pursuit of worldly gain has turned sour and self-destructive because it is devoid of all ethical values. 

Therefore the pursuit of dunya (worldly affairs) without Deen can only lead to, and has led to, disaster. On the other hand, pursuit of Deen (religion) without dunya (temporal world) is merely daydreaming. Islam asks people to cultivate the world without robbing, usury, stealing and raping the environment and insists that people must carry out their tasks subject to moral law. For the Muslim, involvement and success in the world will ensure success in the hereafter. If practiced with sincerity, Islam guarantees happiness in this world and the next. Having granted this great gift of God to humanity what else could we do but say 'we hear and we obey and all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.' 

The above article is from an audio recording at International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, date unknown. Source: Ismail Faruqi Online

Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi (January 1, 1921 - May 27, 1986) was a Palestinian-American philosopher and an authority on Islam and comparative religion. He was Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University until his death in 1986. Al-Faruqi and his wife, Lois Lamya al-Faruqi, were brutally stabbed to death in their home in Wyncote, Pennsylvania on May 27, 1986.

Repost and edited from www.islamicity.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Covering head, is it only in Islam?

I remember once when I attend an interfaith forum, there's 3 speakers, represent Islam, Christian and Buddha. This forum is basically about whats approach by the religion towards a social crisis nowadays. So the three speakers gave their points. After 2 hours, it come to question and answer session. One of the student raised and threw a question about Christian  nuns that wearing a scarf, why just the Christian nuns wearing the scarf and not all Christian women? He also quoted whats bible mentioned about covered head for women in Corinthians chapter 11:6; If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 

So the speaker said that was because the nuns had dedicated themselves to God and they need to be modest and for the public women, why they should cover their heads? Hairs is a women's crown, its should be shown. Erk well, I am not going to discuss about that  Christian's speaker statement, I just wanna say that covering head is actually not just for Muslim women but even for Christian women. A common misconception is that Muslim women are the only who cover their hair. It's obviously because Islam is the only religion in which most women follow its directive to cover the hair, but it is not the only religion to have such directives.

It is interesting to look at the case of Christianity, since Christianity is the predominant religion in the West, and it is Westerners, including observant Christians, who are often the first to criticize Islam because of the hijab (modest dress, including head covering). Additionally the idea behind modest dress does not only for females, but to males also. Modesty is encouraged for both genders in Islam and is seen as a sign of piety. Indeed, even Mary, the mother of Jesus wore the hijab. Also, today nuns virtually practice hijab for the same fundamental reason as the devout Muslim woman; to express piety as an individual who chooses to surrender their will to God and God’s Sacred Law.

Have you ever wondered why Catholic nuns dress like they're wearing hijab (Muslim hijabi women, have you ever been mistaken for a nun?).Have you ever wondered why Mary the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them both) is always depicted in Christian art with her hair covered? Did you know that until the 1960s, it was obligatory for Catholic women to cover their heads in church (then they "modernized" the service)? It is true that most Christian women do not cover their heads, and many don't take other teachings of the Bible (against pre-marital sex, adultery, etc) literally either.

The Holy Qur'an says:

:"And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head coverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms , and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful." - the Holy Qur'an [24:31]

:"O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer garments close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.” - the Holy Qur'an [33:59]
Men are also encouraged to be modest. modesty is not only a call to women, but to men too.

:"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do." - the Holy Qur'an [24:30]

So according to Matthew's account what did Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) have to say about men "lowering their gaze" for greater purity? Let’s take a look at the Bible’s account of his Sermon on the Mount:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - New Testament (Matthew 5:27-28)

Jesus' statement is very clear about why men should lower their gaze. He even equates the mere act of looking in lust with committing adultery. So what does Jesus recommend to do if a man can’t control himself from visually lusting after women? Well his following statement seems to really underline the importance of not committing these acts in which we often write off as minor sins.

"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. - New Testament (Matthew 5:29)

Now we don't know for certain that Prophet Jesus -peace be upon him- really recommended gouging one's eyes out but we can conclude with relative certainty that this is a warning to the believers to first save their soul, rather then succumbing to the temptations of mundane desires. Often people follow their own passions and lusts to a detriment, further straying from the straight path of understanding and guidance.

:"Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? - Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way." the Holy Qur'an [25:43-44]

:"But if they do not respond to you - then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from God ? Indeed, God does not guide the wrongdoing people." the Holy Qur'an [28:50]

Now let’s be reasonable here, God knows man and woman’s natural inclinations and desires. So these rules of modesty are not to take away from our individual freedom but rather they serve as loving guidance for us to avoid self destruction. Furthermore, what kind of society fosters a more conducive moral environment to avoid such sins? A society where men and women guard their modesty and lower their gaze as such in a true Islamic society or of that from which we see in many countries today where men and women walk around practically nude?

Obviously God is all loving and wouldn’t make a law for man to follow without facilitating the proper environment to help him/her follow those laws with comfort. Remember, God is All-Loving and does not want to see man destroy himself. So in conclusion, the moral environment of the ideal Islamic society described in the Qur’an is the same exact model society that Jesus professed. Indeed, God knows man's nature can often be weak, therefore we are not expected to be perfect all the time. In light of this reality, God shows us an immeasurable amount of mercy towards anyone whom is willing to humbly turn to Him in sincere repentance:

"God wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak" the Holy Qur'an [4:28]

:"And We charge no soul except [with that within] its capacity, and with Us is a record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged." the Holy Qur'an [4:28].

Allahua'lam..Allah knows best

Reference: Holy Quran, Bible, www.islamawareness.net/

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Put The Glass Down

Who on earth, never faces a problem or never feels stress? Either me or you and even a little baby, when he was born, he was cried out loud for the very first time to feel the outside air. Problems and stress is part of our life, where would be all the challenges if there is no problem to be solve and no stress to be handle? But the stress is just different to one and another person. Like me, I was a student, so the center of my stress is of course from my study, for an employees is about their work, for a parents is about their family and etc etc. So how we could deal with the stress? Well I would like to share one small story that my sister in Islam had shared with me and I hope that it would make a big change in you. Here it is:

A Professor began his class by holding up  a glass with some water in it. 
He held it up for all to see and asked the students 
“How much do you think this glass weighs?”
'50g!' ....'100g!' ..... '125g' ..the students answered. 
“I really don't know unless I weigh it,” said the professor,“but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this  for a few minutes?” 
'Nothing' …..the students said. 
'Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?' the professor asked. 
''Your arm would begin to ache'' said one of the student. 
“You're right, now what would happen  if I held it for a day?” 
“Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and you'll  have to go to hospital for sure!” … ventured another student and all the students laughed … 
“Very good, But during all this,  did the weight of the glass change?”  asked the professor.‘No’…. Was the answer.“Then what caused the arm ache and  the muscle stress?” 
The students were puzzled. 
“What should I do now to come out of pain?”  asked professor again. 
‘'Put the glass down!’ said one of the students. 
“Exactly!” said the professor.

Life's problems are something like this. 

Hold it for a few minutes in your head &  they seem OK. Think of them for a long time &  they begin to ache. Hold it even longer &  they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything. It's important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to ‘PUT THEM DOWN’  at the end of every day before  You go to sleep. That way, you are not stressed,  you wake up every day fresh &  strong & can handle any issue,  any challenge that comes your way!


And trust Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will take care of it :)

If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust. 
(  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #160)

And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah's) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). 
(  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #159)

Narrated Al-Bara' bin 'Azib: Allah's Apostle said, "O so-and-so, whenever you go to your bed (for sleeping) say, 'O Allah! I have surrendered myself over to you and have turned my face towards You, and leave all my affairs to You and depend on You and put my trust in You expecting Your reward and fearing Your punishment. There is neither fleeing from You nor refuge but with You. I believe in the Book (Qur'an) which You have revealed and in Your Prophet (Muhammad) whom You have sent.' If you then die on that night, then you will die as a Muslim, and if you wake alive in the morning then you will receive the reward."
(Sahih Bukhari See Hadith No. 323, Vol. 8)  (Book #93, Hadith #580).

Be positive :)

P/S: Have a great and bless day buddies.

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