Saturday, January 31, 2009

Political Power

No engaged Muslim understands or accepts the apologies usually given by Muslim politicians about the sad shortcomings of the ummah in this century. And no one accepts the argument that the masses initiative must come from the ranks of the masses before it can be exercised by al khilafah's leaders. The elite who know better are certainly there, and in abundance. What is needed at this time in history is the spark to ignite the will of the ummah into motion. This can come only from the leader's preparedness to engage in the dangerous business of interfering in history as its subject, not as its patient and object.

Interference in history by the Muslim ummah begins at home, in the patient, sober building of al khilafah which cannot be said to exist in any present Muslim state. Once sure of a provisional base on which to anchor itself, al khilafah must mobilize the whole Muslim world and call it to march. No price should be regarded exorbitant to achieve this objective except the dissolution of al khilafah itself. Its personnel can and should be sacrificed if progress towards that goal cannot be made without it. Once the ummah stands in readiness, the moment of Abu Bakr's caliphate will be on hand again. That will be the greatest moment ever.

Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Khurram Murad, pp. 154-155

Expressing Grief

During the tenth year of hijrah, young Ibrahim, who was then about a year and a half old, fell seriously ill. At the very time when the religion of the One was being established all over the Peninsula, with adversity constantly diminishing and the number of conversions continuing to grow, the Prophet, peace be upon him, saw his only son about to leave life and leave him. When the child eventually breathed his last, the Prophet took him in his arms and held him against his breast, tears streaming down his face, so deep was his sorrow.

The Prophet was intimately affected, and he did not hesitate to show and express his grief. He added: "The eye sheds tears, O Ibrahim, the heart is infinitely sad, and one must only utter what satisfies God." God had once more tested him through his humanity and his mission. He had lost so many loved ones - Companions, his wife Khadijah, three of his daughters, and his three sons. His life had been crossed with tears, but he remained both gentle with his heart and firm in his mission. It was this chemistry of gentleness and firmness that satisfied the Most Near. At the time when the world seemed to open up to the Prophet's mission, Muhammad's human fate seemed reduced to that tiny grave where Ibrahim's body was laid, and over which he then led the funeral prayer. The Prophet was one of the elect; the Prophet remained a human being.

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 191, 192

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mind, Self, Soul, Spirit, and Happiness from an Islamic Perspective-A Reseach Study

The concepts of mind, self, soul, Spirit, and happiness are closely related in the Holy Qur’an. This article attempts to increase people’s understanding of these concepts, their interconnectedness, and their relevance to Islamic teachings in general.
Importance of the Topic
Scientists of our time have been able to clone animals. This has made it easier on people to believe that the Creator (Praise to Him), the All-Knowledgeable, is capable of resurrecting the human body in the Day of Judgment.
The current information revolution has demonstrated that information can be captured in diskettes and disks and transferred through space (from Earth to satellites orbiting our planet, then back to Earth). However, humans have neither been capable of transferring information from the human brain nor to it.
This is God’s sphere so far. He is the Creator of scientists and internet innovators. He is capable of transferring information from our brains at the moment of death to a super “disk” somewhere in His universe until the Day of Judgment. He has not told us how He does that but assured us that we will know a little about it.
These facts also mean that God is capable of cloning the same individual and of transferring the information back to his/her brain, thus resurrecting humans in body and soul, at the Day of Judgment.
Happiness, Good, and Evil
Ultimately, believers in God's ability of resurrection would behave in a good way during their life time on Planet Earth. As a result, they will be rewarded in the this life by living in happiness, and in the hereafter by entering God's Paradise and enjoying life there forever.
Conversely, those who don't want to believe in the Day of Reckoning, don't also believe in accountability. So, they may act in an evil or a bad way during their life time on Planet Earth. As a result, they will be punished by not living in peace and happiness in this life and by entering Hell in the hereafter.
An important point in the discussion about the Day of Judgment is that capturing human voice and picture, recording them, and broadcasting them through radio and TV waves have demonstrated that it is possible to record every movement, action, or word a human being does or says while living on Earth.
If humans could do that, then it should be a given that their Creator is more capable of doing it than they are. This constitutes further evidence about the accountability humans are held to by God, who will judge them according to what has been recorded about them.
The two concepts of good and evil are not left to people to define. Otherwise, they may never agree on what constitutes each one of them.
God's teachings revealed in His messages to guide humanity, as summarized in the Holy Qur'an, include specific definitions and examples of what constitutes good and evil.
These messages were delivered by God’s messengers throughout human history. Some of these messengers were mentioned in the Holy Books, others were not mentioned.
Among the mentioned prominent messengers of God, we are told about Adam, Nooh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Loot’ (Lot), Is'haq (Isaac), Ya'aqoub (Jacob), Yousuf (Joseph), Moussa (Moses), Hood, Saleh, Elias (Elijah), Elyasa'a, Younus (Jonah), Ayoub (Jobe), Dawood (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Zakariyah, Yahya (John), Al-Messieh Issa Bin Mariam (the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary), and Muhammed (Peace and blessings of God be upon all of them).
The message of God to humanity, taught by his messengers, includes commands and recommendations.
While good is what God has wanted humans to do, evil is what He warned them against, telling them to avoid or not to do.
It follows that obedience to God, through doing what He wants people to do, constitutes what's good, and leads to happiness. However, disobedience to Him leads to committing evil acts, which causes suffering to offenders and to their victims.
More direct association between obedience to God and happiness as well as disobedience to Him and unhappiness or wretchedness can be found in verses throughout the Holy Qur’an.
The Mind
The mind is the body of knowledge housed in the brain. It includes two main parts. The first is a software which develops inherently with the brain in the womb. It is responsible for the functionality of the body, readiness for learning, and disposition for knowing good and evil, as explained in the self below.
The second part of the mind is accumulated from birth until death, as a result of the interaction with the world. So, the mind actually houses everything a person learns throughout his/her life. However, not all the information accumulated in the mind may be used by a person.
The word mind (aql, عقل) does not appear in the Holy Qur’an as a noun in the singular form. Rather, a derivative of which is used as a verb (aqala عَقَلَ ), meaning to tie, tighten, control, or restrict.
Thus, minding or reasoning means subjecting one’s thinking to known restrictions, rules, laws, and controls in order for one’s behavior to become as educated, safe, wise, and intelligent as possible, as mentioned in many verses of the Holy Qur’an.
The word al-albab ) ألألباب), however, is used in the Holy Qur’an to refer to the “mind” but in the plural form.It has been used in 15 verses, all addressing believers who are intelligent enough to use their “minds.”
Self and Soul
In Surat Al-Ana’am (Chapter 6), Verse 60 of the Holy Qur’an, we are told that Allah (God, praise to Him) knows what we do in the daytime, then we go back to Him in the Day of Judgment, so He tells us what we have done in this life.
In Chapter 6, also, Verse 61, God tells us that when the moment of death comes, God sends angels who are curators or record keepers to end a person’s life on Earth. Nothing will be left out of his/her record. The record will be completed. Thus, death means “wafah” or “completion” of a person’s record during his/her time life on Earth.
Verse 67 of Chapter 6 assures us that every bit of news has a destination where it can be saved or recorded, and prophetically tells us that we will know that this can and will happen.
Part of this prophecy has been fulfilled in our time, as we have been capable of capturing the sound and pictures of humans and their environment and of broadcasting them through radio and TV waves throughout terrestrial and extraterrestrial space.
The main idea here is that if humans have been capable of accomplishing that, then it should be a given that Allah Almighty is more capable of doing it and more.
But what exactly are we going to be held accountable for?
The Holy Qur’an tells us that we will be held accountable for all what we say or do with our own free will and choice. This is because God has given humans the freedom to choose
The Holy Qur’an is very specific about the contrast between the two choices. In Verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 91, God Almighty says that when He has perfected the creation of humans (by blowing His spirit in them), he has also equipped the human self with the ability to choose to be pious or deviant, following the straight path or going astray from it.
Translators of the Holy Qur’an, including Yusuf Ali, generally use the word “soul” as a translation for the Arabic word nafs (نَفۡسٌ۬). Sociologists use another term, “self,” to refer to the body of knowledge, which is selected from the mind in a developmental process to form a unique identity for a living person.
The word soul is more used by religious scholars to refer to a person’s unique identity after death, than during his/her life on earth. Thus, the “soul” is the “self ” after death, which will be held accountable for its performance during life on Earth. It will be resurrected through being transferred back to its cloned body in the Day of Judgment, in order to be able to communicate with its Creator, then to be rewarded or punished on the basis of its Earthen performance.
There are hundreds of verses in the Holy Qur’an, which mention the self (“nafs” in Arabic). Some of them refer to the self during its life on Earth and others refer to it in the hereafter.
While psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists have been studying the mind and the self (which becomes soul after death), we know very little about the spirit, as the Holy Qur'an tells us.
The word “spirit” is a translation of the Arabic word rooh (روح, which is mentioned in about 20 verses in the Holy Qur’an. )
Humans receive part of God’s spirit when they are still in the womb. An angel comes and blows it in the fetus brain. It is responsible for the functionality of the body organs, readiness for learning, and disposition for knowing good and evil, as mentioned in footnote # 5.

From these 20 verses of the Holy Qur’an, we know that the spirit is a quality of God that He sends to the humans He has created in order to support, strengthen, and give life to them. Thus, humans have some of God’s spirit. The verses also refer to the angel Jibril (Gabriel) as God’s spirit.
Summary and Conclusion
The concepts of mind, self, soul, Spirit, and happiness are closely related in the Holy Qur’an. They are interconnected, in the sense that understanding them individually cannot be complete without understanding how they are related to each other.
As human beings, we are elated over a lot of God’s creations because of our ability to collect, process, and use data in a good way, by choice.
The human body is just an instrument that incubates and sustains the brain, which houses the human mind, from which the self develops and evolves throughout a person's lifetime on Earth.
God Almighty starts the process by installing an essential software from His spirit in the human brain. This allows and enables the human self to start a life-long process of data collection, processing, and decision making while having the ability to differentiate between good and evil.
When the body is no longer capable of sustaining the self, whether by old age, sickness, or accidental injury, then records of the human self are completed by angels.
In the hereafter, the self is going to be judged on the basis of its performance on Earth. If it is obedient to God in its behavior, it will be living in happiness in this life and in the hereafter. But, if the human self is disobedient to God, it suffers in its Earthen life and in the hereafter.
To sum up, goodness is obedience to God and evil is disobedience to Him.
It follows that bad things never happen to good people.
Whatever happens to human beings in their life is good, as long as they are obedient to God, even if they become poor, get sick, or killed unjustly. It’s good because their ultimate destination is an eternal happy life in Paradise. They have to work as hard as they can in their pursuit of happiness but they have to observe God in everything they say or do.
You may get the results you want to achieve here in this life (wealth, offspring, power, prestige, reproductive activities, etc.) but there's a possibility that you may not get what you are pursuing because of circumstances beyond your control.
Success or failure, in the Islamic sense, is in how you conduct yourself during the process.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knowledge of Religion

Study of the divine Law is a collective duty, except where it is incumbent on the individual, e.g. everyone is obliged to find out what God has ordained for him and what He has proscribed for him. This is a duty for each individual. As reported in both Sahihs (Muslim and Bukhari), the Prophet, on him be peace, said: "When God wishes a man well He instructs him in knowledge of Religion." If God wishes a man well He will inevitably instruct him in Religion, so if a man is not versed in Religion God does not wish him well. Religion is what God sent His Messenger to convey. It is that which a man is bound to believe and practise.

Everyone owes general credence to Muhammad's, on him be peace, report and general obedience to his command; then if a report from him is confirmed it must be believed in particular, and if one receives a specific order to a certain effect one must obey it in particular.

Compiled From:
"Public Duties in Islam" - Ibn Taymiya, p. 38

True Followers

Al-Ahzab (The Confederates)
Chapter 33: Verse 23

"Among the believers are men who are true to their covenant with Allah. Of them some have fulfilled their obligations and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least."

The above Quranic verse captures the essence of the believers' covenant with Allah. It signifies the Islamic movement, the call to truth and the believers' unwavering and single-minded commitment to Islam. Implicit in it is also the assertion that the believers are ever ready to sacrifice all that they have for this cause.

Islam is synonymous with a pledge. It is to be seen how many of us are true to this pledge, for men are liable to forget their oaths. We must remind ourselves of the glorious examples of the Prophet's Companions. After professing Islam they paid no heed to praise or criticism of fellow human beings. Their only concern was their loyalty to Islam.

Our verbal profession of Islam is meaningless. We may bear Muslim names and our way of life may contain some Islamic elements. We may occasionally visit the mosque. Our main duty as believers, nonetheless, is to be true to our pledge to Allah. In our beliefs, acts of worship, conduct, dealings, way of life, social relations, marital ties, family and neighbourhood relationships and in every human activity we must behave as Muslims. Our commitment must be to divine laws.

Among the many billions of Muslims, some are specified in the above verse as being believers with firm resolve. Praise is heaped on them for their discharging their obligations to Allah. Then mention is made of those among them who have completed their appointed term and returned to Allah. They will be lavishly rewarded. Those still alive look forward to divine rewards and are true to their covenant. They have not changed their commitment in any degree.

Compiled From:
"Guidance from the Holy Quran" - Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, pp. 61-66


Comparing yourself to others is nothing but bad news. Why? Because we're all on different development timetables. Socially, mentally, and physically. Although some of us are like the popular tree, which grows like a weed the moment it's planted, others are like the bamboo tree, which shows no growth for four years but then grows ninety feet in year five.

Life is like a great obstacle course. Each person has their own course, separated from every other course by tall walls. Your course comes complete with customized obstacles designed specifically for your personal growth. So what good does it do to climb the wall to see how well your neighbour is doing or to check out his obstacles in comparison to your own?

Building your life based on how you stack up compared to others is never good footing. If I get my security from the fact that my GPA is higher than yours or my friends are more popular than yours, then what happens when someone comes along with a higher GPA or more popular friends? Comparing ourselves makes us feel like a wave of the sea tossed to and fro by the wind. We go up and down, feeling inferior one moment and superior the next, confident one moment and intimidated the next. The only good comparison is comparing yourself against your own potential.

Compiled From:
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" - Sean Covey, pp. 156, 157

Daily Remembrances

Our daily remembrances, in and of themselves, have no healing or protecting power. Those remembrances are neither physicians nor guardians. They are merely a reason for us to enjoy Allah's protection and care. Allah is our protector and everything that happens takes place according to His decree. Allah indeed protects his devotees on account of their worship, devotion, supplications, penance and good deeds.

Our daily remembrances are just like our supplications. When we beseech Allah for something, and do so with sincerity, presence of mind, certainty of faith, and positive expectations, we know that Allah answers our prayers. However, Allah, in his wisdom may answer our supplications in different ways. He may give us specifically what we ask for. He may, instead, remove a harm from us that would otherwise have befallen us. He may also postpone the answer to our supplication and give its benefit to us in the Hereafter, when we need it the most.

Rain clouds are merely a reason for precipitation and not a guarantee of rainfall whenever they pass overhead. If Allah wills, the clouds will bring rain. If He so wills they will pass over and drop their rain at some other time and place. In the same way, our supplications and remembrances are a reason for our attaining Allah's protection and reward. It is Allah's will when and how He will answer them.

It needs to be said that when a person beseeches Allah with a distracted mind or with a pessimistic attitude, the supplication might not be answered at all.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Allah does not accept the supplication of an inattentive and distracted heart." [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]

The same applies to our daily remembrances. If we chant them ritualistically, without any presence of mind, we cannot expect to attain the full benefit of those remembrances. Our remembrances are essentially supplications. They are a means by which we beseech Allah, invoke His name, and remember Him. Therefore, if we recite the words of our remembrances insincerely, or with heedlessness or negativity in our hearts, we might very well be deprives of the blessings of our recitation.

Compiled From:
"Supplications & Remembrances" - Sami Al-Majid

Ease & Tolerance

"Allah wants your life to be full of ease (yusr), not hardship."

Yusr (ease, tolerance) consists of accepting the desires until the establishment of their undesirableness. It protects the Muslim from self-closure to the world, from deadening conversation. It urges him to affirm and say yea to life, to new experience. It encourages him to address the new data with his scrutinizing reason, his constructive endeavour, and thereby to enrich his experience and life, to move his culture and civilization ever forward.

In religion - and there can hardly be anything more important or prior in human relations - tolerance transforms confrontation and reciprocal condemnations between the religions into a scholarly investigation of the genesis and development of the religions in order to separate the historical additions from the original revelation. Yusr also immunizes the Muslim against any life-denying tendencies and assures him the minimum measure of optimism required to maintain health, balance and a sense of proportion, despite all the tragedies and afflictions which befall human life. That is what God has assured us in the above verse.

Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji al Faruqi, pp. 46-48

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fifteen Great One Liners

1. Regular naps prevent old age... Especially if you take them while driving.

2. Having one child makes you a parent; having two makes you a referee.

3. Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is the husband!

4. Don't marry the person you want to live with, marry the one you cannot live without... But whatever you do, you'll regret it later.

5. You can't buy love. . But you pay heavily for it.

6. True friends stab you in the front.

7. Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me.

8. Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

9. Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.

10. My wife and I always compromise. I admit I'm wrong and she agrees with me.

11. Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others.

12. It doesn't matter how often a married man changes his job, he still ends up with the same boss.

13. They call our language the mother tongue because the father seldom gets to speak.

14. Saving is the best thing. Especially when your parents have done it for you.

15. Real friends are the ones who survive transitions between address books.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Signs of Weak Iman and How to Increase It

Signs of weak Faith:

· Committing sins and not feeling any guilt.
· Having a hard heart and no desire to read the Quran.
· Feeling too lazy to do good deeds, e.g. being late for salat
· Neglecting the Sunnah.
· Having mood swings, for instance being upset about petty things and bothered and irritated most of the time.
· Not feeling anything when hearing verses from the Quran, for example when Allah warns us of punishments and His promise of glad tidings.
· Finding difficulty in remembering Allah and making dhikr.
· Not feeling bad when things are done against the Shariah.
· Desiring status and wealth.
· Being mean and miserly, i.e. not wanting to part with wealth.
· Ordering others to do good deeds when not practising them ourselves.
· Feeling pleased when things are not progressing for others.
· Being concerned with whether something is haram or halal only; and not avoiding makroo (not recommended) things.
· Making fun of people who do simple good deeds, like cleaning the mosque.
· Not feeling concerned about the situation of Muslims.
· Not feeling the responsibility to do something to promote Islam.
· Liking to argue just for the sake of arguing without any proof.
· Becoming engrossed and very involved with dunya, worldly things, i.e. feeling bad only when losing something in terms of material wealth.
· Becoming engrossed and obsessive about ourselves.

Okay, how to increase our faith then ?
  • Recite and ponder on the meanings of the Quran. Tranquility then descends and our hearts become soft. To get optimum benefit, remind yourself that Allah is speaking to you. People are described in different categories in the Quran; think of which one you find yourself in.
  • Realize the greatness of Allah. Everything is under His control. There are signs in everything we see that points us to His greatness. Everything happens according to His permission. Allah keeps track and looks after everything, even a black ant on a black rock on a black moonless night.
  • Make an effort to gain knowledge, for at least the basic things in daily life e.g. how to make wudu properly. Know the meanings behind Allah's names and attributes. People who have taqwa are those who have knowledge.
  • Attend gatherings where Allah is remembered. In such gatherings we are surrounded by angels.
  • We have to increase our good deeds. One good deed leads to another good deed. Allah will make the way easy for someone who gives charity and also make it easy for him or her to do good deeds. Good deeds must be done continuously, not in spurts.
  • We must fear the miserable end to our lives; the remembrance of death is the destroyer of pleasures.
  • Remember the different levels of akhirah, for instance when we are put in our graves, when we are judged, whether we will be in paradise or hell.
  • Make dua, realize that we need Allah. Be humble. Don't covet material things in this life.
  • Our love for Subhana Wa Ta'Ala must be shown in actions. We must hope Allah will accept our prayers, and be in constant fear that we do wrong. At night before going to sleep, we must think about what good we did during that day.
  • Realize the effects of sins and disobedience- one's faith is increased with good deeds and our faith is decreased by bad deeds. Everything that happens is because Allah wanted it. When calamity befalls us- it is also from Allah. It is a direct result of our disobedience to Allah.

Building Masjids

The building of a masjid (the place where one prostrates oneself) institutes a specific sacralised space within the primary and essential sacrality of the universe as a whole; as the Prophet said, "The whole earth is a masjid" [Bukhari, Musilm]. Once built, the masjid becomes the axial space of the Muslim spiritual community in which it is situated, but it also expresses the reality of settlement, of acceptance of the hosting space, which is then turned into a space for oneself, a home. Indeed, the presence of the masjid reveals that a place has been adopted as home, and that the believing conscience is "at home" because the place of worship, a reminder of meaning, has been set up. The Prophet's repeated act is in itself a teaching: whatever the exile or journey, whatever the movement or departure, one must never lose sight of meaning and direction. Masjids tell of meaning, direction, and settlement.

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 83, 84

Intense Love

"Those who have Iman, are intense in their Love for Allah."

This is how Allah describes the true believers- i.e. those who Love Allah more than anything else and who make Allah their first priority.

The verse doesn't say, that one must love Allah only. Love is a blessing given to us by Allah and is manifested in many aspects of life. In Islam, however, it must be foremost for Allah, our Creator, and Merciful Sustainer.

What is Love?

Perhaps it cannot be defined in terms which adequately reflect its nature and importance in a person's life. It is not possible to define it by a formula in a manner we define a scientific fact. But still each one of us knows what love is and can tell from our experience the powerful force that it is.

It is the overpowering force in life. It captivates you, it grips you, it moves you and you are prepared to do anything for the sake of it. Once love is there, what you do is not something which has to be imposed upon you, because you need imposition only for things you do not love.

Nature of True Iman & Love for Allah

Iman (faith) is something which must penetrate deep into your heart and generate an intense love for Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), more than anything else. Unless this happens, you cannot experience the real Iman.

To develop this love for Allah does not require us to retire to or seclude ourselves in a monastery / masjid. This love makes us do our duty to Allah, as His representatives, while we are out in the street, at home or in the office. With this love, we live as servants of Allah, everywhere willingly making every sacrifice required of us. In fact, it propels us to share actively in the service of Allah's other creatures. True love of Allah makes one care for people and their needs.

Your Barometer: Salah

Whether or not you have that love is something only for you to examine closely. If you love someone, one of your most intense desires will be to get closer to that person. In Islam, there are several ways of getting closer to Allah, foremost of which is Salah (daily prayers).

Once you are praying to Him, you are in front of Him, you are near to Him, you are speaking to Him, you are responding to Him in gratitude, and you are asking for His forgiveness. Prayer is not just a ritual in which you go through certain postures. The love generated through Salah, by submitting your soul exclusively to Allah, is like a seed which, as it grows, envelops the entire personality!

Compiled From:
"In the Early Hours" - Khurram Murad, pp. 63-64

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

6 Easy Things

Normally, we begin a new year with hope for change, but then we change and lose hope that we can ever accomplish our goals. One way to reverse this cycle is to start small to build big. Here are six easy things you can do in the coming year:

1. Read the Quran 5 for 5
Just five days a week, read the Quran for not more than five minutes, but here's the catch: you must shut yourself off from everyone and everything and give Allah's Word absolute attention. This small step will give you a deeper appreciation for life's meaning, ultimately leading to change in surprising ways. Some ways to do this: in the morning before everyone wakes up; in the evening after everyone has gone to bed; during lunch hour in the car; on the bus/train on the way to school/work; on breaks between classes; when the baby is napping; at the laundromat doing your weekly laundry. Just remember to watch the time and set an alarm if needed so you read for only five minutes.

2. Call or sincerely pray for your parents no less than once a week
In the Quran, Allah orders us not to say even “Uff” to our parents (17:23). Today, many of us may not utter this demeaning word to mom and dad. However, we express our disrespect by not keeping in touch. Yes, life is busier than ever and time is stretched to the max. But these are not valid excuses for ignoring those who nurtured us when we could do nothing on our own. While visiting is also very important, this may not always be possible on such a regular basis if you live in another state or country. Calls are the first step in re-establishing greater connection.

In the upcoming year, set a time in your appointment book to call your parents at least once a week. If your parents have passed away, spend five minutes weekly to make a sincere, deep Dua for their forgiveness and for Allah to grant them the best in the Hereafter for all they did for you.

3. Read to a child for just 10 minutes
Young children whose parents read aloud to them have better language and literacy skills when they go to school, according to a number of studies. This in itself is an incentive to take just a few minutes during the week to do so. But reading to kids, whether that is your own children, a younger sibling or a nephew/niece is also a wonderful way to offer some short but long-lasting Islamic lessons. Today, the range and quality of Islamic books for kids is better than ever. Start off with a couple of simple ones from the Quran, the life of the Prophet and some timely theme and then continue this great habit as the year continues. On the days you can't read in person, do it over the phone or by webcamera.

4. Transfer the money saved from 1 cost-cutting habit for a continuous good cause
About 80 percent of Americans are stressed because of the economy, according to a recent survey. This has led many to cut back on all kinds of spending, from holiday gift giving to the ritual morning latte. While we tighten our belts though, let's use at least some of the money saved for a good cause. Consider this: the International Labor Organization estimates the number of workers living on $2 a day or less will surge by 100 million. Use some of your saved cash to support a family, the education of one child or one orphan for a year in a developing country.

5. Attend one regional or national Islamic conference
A strong community is built by great individuals, but great individuals are products of their communities. That's why it's so important to connect and network with other Muslims not just in our own neighbourhoods and cities, but on a state-, country- and worldwide basis as well. Doing so allows us to not only hang out socially, but to discuss some of the common problems we face and come up with viable solutions for them. Aim to attend at least one Muslim conference in the coming year so you can reap the blessings of community and strengthen your own faith on a personal level.

6. Adopt and share one habit to save the planet
Thanks to the environmental movement, we are now more aware of how our daily habits are leading to our planet's destruction. In the coming year, pick just one habit that can help you become a better steward of the earth. Some simple ideas: turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth; recycle your newspapers and magazines; turn off the shower when soaping up; bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic ones. Then, get your youth group, Halaqa group and mosque/Islamic center to adopt the same.

Compiled From:
"6 Easy Things You Can Do For Islam in 2009" -

The Victory of Moses

The most virtuous day of Muharram (the First Month of Islamic Calendar) is the day of Ashura - the tenth of Muharram. It is reported in Sahih al-Bukhari, when Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He said: 'What is this?' They said: 'This is the day when Allah saved Musa from drowning, so we fast on this day.' Then he said: We have more right to Musa than you.” So he fasted on this day and advised the Muslims to do the same.

Also, Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “When Allah's Messenger observed the fast of the day of Ashura and ordered (his Companions) to fast, they said: “O Messenger of Allah! It is a day revered by Jews and Christians.” Allah's Messenger said: The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also).[Sahih Muslim, vol: 1, p: 359]

Ibn Abbas also reported: I never saw the Prophet more keen to fast on any day other than the day of Ashura and any month than the month of Ramadan.[Sahih al-Bukhari]

The phrase 'more keen' of Ibn Abbas indicates that the Prophet looked forward to fast on the day of Ashura in order to earn the reward for doing so. The Prophet said: Fasting the day of Ashura, I hope will be an expiation of sins for the year before. [Sahih Muslim v: 1, p: 368]

Thus, the day of Ashura is mercy from Allah and an opportunity for one to get his sins forgiven. It is recommended for the Muslim Ummah to fast both the tenth and the ninth of Muharram since Allah's Messenger fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth. Another important thing to be understood here is that voluntary fasts are expiation for minor sins, as long as one completely refrains from major sins and is always cautious about minor sins. Some people who are deceived rely greatly on voluntary worships (like fasting on the day of Ashura or the day of Arafat) while neglecting the obligatory worships (praying five daily prayers, fasting in Ramadan, etc.)

Compiled From:
"Muharram: The Month of Allah" - As-Sunnah Bimonthly Islamic Newsletter

Principles of Retaliation

"And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend themselves. The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: for (God) loves not those who do wrong. But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong (done) to them, against such there is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men and wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous."

The believers do not fall prey to the tyrants. Their tender heartedness and forgiving nature is not the result of any weakness. Their nobility demands that when they are victors they should forgive the errors of the vanquished; when they possess the power, they should avoid vengefulness and when a weak or subdued person happens to commit a mistake they should overlook it; but when a powerful person, drunk with authority, commits violence against them, they should resist and fight him with all their might.

These verses introduce three basic principles of retaliation:

1. The right limit of retaliation is that one should return the same sort of ill treatment that one has received; one has no right to return a greater ill treatment.

2. Although it is permissible to retaliate against the one who has committed violence, wherever pardoning can be conducive to reconcilement, pardoning is better for the sake of reconcilement than retaliation. And since man pardons the other by suppressing his own feelings, Allah says that the reward of such a one is with Him, for he has suppressed his own self for the sake of reforming the evil-doers.

3. One should not become a wrongdoer oneself in the process of avenging a wrong done by the other. It is not permissible to do a greater wrong in retaliation for the wrong done. For example, if a person slaps another, the other can return only one slap; he cannot shower his blows and kicks. Likewise, it is not right to commit a sin in retaliation for a sin. For example, if a wicked man has killed the son of someone, it is not right to go and kill the son of the former. Or, if a person has violated the chastity of another person's sister or daughter, it is not lawful for him to rape the former's sister or daughter.

Compiled From:
"The Meaning of the Quran" - By Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 4, pp. 551, 552