Archive for February, 2010

The Hindu : Life & Style / Religion : Simply Sufi

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

spreading love

The link below is to an article about the Jahan-e -Khusrau Sufi Music Festival (going on right now in Delhi) and its organizer Muzaffer Ali the Indian film director. Interesting, makes me want to be there!

The Hindu : Life & Style / Religion : Simply Sufi.

Raja Syed Muzaffar Ali (born 21 October 1944; Lucknow) is an Indian film-maker, a fashion designer, a poet, an artist, a music-lover, a revivalist, and a social worker.

In 2005 he was awarded the Padma Shri for his achievements. His son Shaad Ali is a film director.

Muzaffar was born in Lucknow in 1944 and attended the La Martiniiere college there. His father was the Raja of Kotwara and his mother was the from the noble family of Sheikhupur, Badaun and a direct decendant of Sheikh Farid Ganj e Shakar and Sheikh Salim Chishti.

Ya Sin #8 (ayat 43 – 48)

Friday, February 26th, 2010

All these signs and gifts we receive from Allah (SWT) as we have read about in sura Ya Sin. It is only by Allah’s (SWT) will that we can build boats or planes or anything of our technology. As Allah (SWT) tells In the next ayah:

36:43 وَإِنْ نَشَأْ نُغْرِقْهُمْ فَلا صَرِيخَ لَهُمْ وَلا هُمْ يُنْقَذُونَ

wa-in nasha/ nughriqhum fal[a] [s]areekha lahum wal[a] hum yunqa[th]oon(a)

If it were Our Will, We could drown them: then would there be no helper (to hear their cry), nor could they be delivered,

If we had not received the intelligence to understand all the natural laws that Allah (SWT) had put into this world, none of these would work. But yout it is up to us to see them, Allah has given us the ability to see but it is up to us to take advantage of what he (SWT) has given us. And we remember that it is only by Allah’s will, insha’allah we say always, that even when we do understand, that we are then able to do anything, but his mercy:

36:44 إِلا رَحْمَةً مِنَّا وَمَتَاعًا إِلَى حِينٍ

ill[a] ra[h]matan minn[a] wamat[a]aaan il[a] [h]een(in)

Except by way of Mercy from Us, and by way of (world) convenience (to serve them) for a time.

Allah (SWT) has given man all these wonderful things in nature and utilities produced by the skill and intelligence which Allah (SWT) has given to humanity. Had it not been for these gifts, human life would have been precarious on the sea or land or in the air. It is only Allah’s (SWT) mercy which saves humankind from destruction for its own follies. And that saving, or the enjoyment of these utilities and conveniences we should not consider as eternal, they are only for a time. We are on probation. And do we hold this knowledge of Allah’s mercy in our hearts? Are we thankful for each and every breath? For these gifts, are we aware? Do we have Taqwa of where our lives truly come from?

36:45 وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّقُوا مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَمَا خَلْفَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

wa-i[tha] qeela lahumu ittaqoo m[a] bayna aydeekum wam[a] khalfakum laaaallakum tur[h]amoon(a)

When they are told, “Fear you that which is before you and that which will be after you, in order that you may receive Mercy,” (they turn back).

Do we listen to this? Do we look at our past actions and consider them in terms of our eternal life? Allah is giving us a clear message here. We should consider them and use them to improve our actions in the future. “in order that you may receive Mercy” but if we are engrossed with this life. If we do not realize that all this around us is only temporary. And the life after this is eternal, if we ignore that then we have rejected this help, we have rejected this message and we have turned back from improving our actions in the future and gaining the mercy of Allah.

36:46 وَمَا تَأْتِيهِمْ مِنْ آيَةٍ مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلا كَانُوا عَنْهَا مُعْرِضِينَ

wam[a] ta/teehim min [a]yatin min [a]y[a]ti rabbihim ill[a] k[a]noo aaanh[a] muaari[d]een(a)

Not a Sign comes to them from among the Signs of their Lord, but they turn away therefrom.

There is an expression in English “There are none so blind as those who will not see” What are we doing in our lives to make sure that we do see? Are we active seers? And not only with our eyes but with our intelligence and with our hearts with those facilities that Allah (SWT) has given us? Do we not realize that we would have been given these abilities for this very purpose? As it says in the Hadith Qudsi “I was a hidden treasure and longed to be known so I created the creation in order to be known” Are we not part of creation? Are our senses and our intelligence and our emotions part of creation? Are we using them to know our creator or are we rejecting, turning away from every sign?

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ

اللَّهُ قَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَنُطْعِمُ مَنْ

36:47 لَوْ يَشَاءُ اللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلا فِي ضَلالٍ مُبِينٍ

wa-i[tha] qeela lahum anfiqoo mimm[a] razaqakumu all[a]hu q[a]la alla[th]eena kafaroo lilla[th]eena [a]manoo anu[t]aaimu man law yash[a]o all[a]hu a[t]aaamahu in antum ill[a] fee [d]al[a]lin mubeen(in)

And when they are told, “Spend you of (the bounties) with which Allah has provided you,” the Unbelievers say to those who believe: “Shall we then feed those whom, if Allah had so willed, He would have fed, (Himself)?- You are in nothing but manifest error.”

The spending that is indicated here is spending in the benefit of others. Over and over we are asked to spend a portion of what we have been given for those less well off. Allah (SWT) has given us everything we have. And, in addition has shown us that we are being tested. Again and again we are reminded that abundance is as much of a burden or test as is lack or want. And those of us who have been given much have been given that in order that we might spend a portion of it on those who do not have. But these people are the ones in error as they deny this and forget they are on probation. That their actions are being recorded and they attempt to turn the tables on those that are reminding them, calling their message clearly false, but in truth it is they who are in error.

36:48 وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَى هَذَا الْوَعْدُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

wayaqooloona mat[a] h[atha] alwaaadu in kuntum [sa]diqeen(a)

Further, they say, “When will this promise (come to pass), if what you say is true?”

36:49 مَا يَنْظُرُونَ إِلا صَيْحَةً وَاحِدَةً تَأْخُذُهُمْ وَهُمْ يَخِصِّمُونَ

maa yanz.uron ‘illaa s.ayh.ah waah.idah ta’khudh -hum wa- hum yakhis.s.imon

They will not (have to) wait for aught but a single Blast: it will seize them while they are yet disputing among themselves!

And then further endanger them selves with their arrogance saying this, that if this is true then when will it happen? When will be see the proof? And the answer is, neither you nor we know when this time is. Allah (SWT) alone knows and it may come sooner than you expect, it may come right now while you are arguing instead of cleaning up your act. Instead of neglecting the opportunity you are being given you are squandering it.

Part 2

Muhassabah

We must not squander our opportunities. We must be aware of our good deeds and our bad deeds. We must remember that every breath we take is only by permission of Allah (SWT) and that only Allah knows when our end is due.

We do not need to know. If we are behaving like Muslims every moment in our life then there is no need to know. There is a story of Umar, that a person asked him what if he were planting a tree when he found out that the world would end in 10 minutes. He said that he would continue planting the tree. This is because he knew that his life was a life of a Muslim. That whatever he did, be it plant a tree, or give zakat or breath, or go to prayers or eat, whatever he did, he did it with the knowledge of a Muslim and so, just because he knew that that world would end in 10 minutes it did not mean that he needed to change anything in his behavior. So when the unbelievers ask when this will happen – to me that means that in reality they have a lot to worry about!

We are all here human, and human beings make mistakes, we fail to live up to our high ideals at times and you know Allah’s mercy outweighs his wrath. And so we have a chance for tauba and we have a chance to look at our actions and we have a way of systematically examining ourselves and our actions and our intentions. We can do this moment by moment, remember astaghfir’allah when you do something you know to be wrong and then turn away from it with a sincere intention not to do it again. Struggle with yourself constantly. We are all bombarded with influences in our lives that try to turn us from the straight path. And frequently we do! At those times we examine ourselves, we struggle to overcome our weaknesses. Muhasaba is the self-examination that can lead us to tauba, to judge ourselves before we are judged, it is rahma that Allah (SWT) has given us to help us improve.

And I encourage all of you as well as I encourage myself to go from here today, remembering these ayah from Ya Sin, to remember to practice this muhasaba and to be aware of the influences in our lives that draw us away from Allah (SWT) and to consciously repent and turn back to the straight path, back to Allah (SWT) anytime we feel compelled in the other direction.

Wa allahu alim.

Daily Times – Leading News Resource of Pakistan – Debate over use of English emerging in US mosques

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Daily Times – Leading News Resource of Pakistan – Debate over use of English emerging in US mosques.

I am really surprised that this is even a debate, much less that it was posted in a Pakistani newspaper. I’ll be interested to see if it shows up in any US newspaper.

My experience in US Masajid (the plural of Masjid) is that the Khutbah is delivered in English with Arabic used in the du’a before and after the Khutbah and in the quoting any ayat from the Qur’an and then interpreting in English afterward. This is the way it has been in every Masjid I have attended. When quoting from Hadith it seems to vary, with some using Arabic with an English translation and some using only English.

In the article the idea that English is a unifying force for Muslims in America is brought up. This is accurate and unless the board of the Masjid want to limit regular attendance to persons only from their country they would be wise to have Khutaba in English. More importantly, as is also brought out in the article, there are many Muslims born and raised here in the US who do not speak Arabic, who have not learned Arabic and probably never will. This is sad yes, but it is not a pre-requisite for being Muslim. There is no hadith, nor any verse in the Qur’an which requires one to speak Arabic.

That being said, recitation of the Qur’an in Arabic is required of us, and more importantly understanding its meanings is required. Although it is a wonderful first step, it is not enough to sound out the syllables. One’s heart must be moved by the meanings and one must incorporate those meanings into one’s life. In order to do that one must understand the meanings of the words. But Qur’anic Arabic is not like modern conversational Arabic. The language that is spoken on the street is the language of the people and that is the language that should be used in the Khutbah in my opinion. That is what will move the believer to want to learn more and that is what will move the visitor, the guest, who is wondering about Islam to look deeper.

Please read the article it is well written and will give you insight into this question – which should not even be a question.

Signs of Allah (swt) Around Us

Friday, February 19th, 2010

This week we take a little break from our review of Sura Ya Sin and look into other aspects of what the Qur’an is telling us. What is part of the message that Allah (swt) is engraving on our hearts.

There are signs everywhere for those who wish to look and see.

وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا

وَمَا رَبُّكَ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ27:93

waquli alhamdu lillahi sayureekum ayatihi fataaarifoonaha wama rabbuka bighafilin aaamma taaamaloona

Say: “Praise be to Allah (SWT). He will show you His Signs and you will recognize them. Your Lord is not heedless of anything you do.” (Surat an-Naml: 93)

In today’s society, people assess the Quran very differently from what is the real purpose of its revelation. In the Islamic world, in general, very few people know the contents of the Quran.

Some Muslims often hang the Quran on the walls of their houses within a decorative cover and elderly people read it from time to time. They assume that the Quran protects those who read it from “misfortune and trouble”. According to this superstition, they consider the Quran a sort of amulet against misfortunes.

The Quranic verses, however, inform us that the purpose of the Quran’s revelation is entirely different from what is mantioned above. For instance, in the 52nd verse of Surah Ibrahim, Allah (SWT) states:

هَذَا بَلاغٌ لِلنَّاسِوَلِيُنْذَرُوا بِهِ وَلِيَعْلَمُو

ا أَنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَهٌوَاحِدٌ وَلِيَذَّكَّرَ أُولُو الألْبَابِ
14:52

hatha balaghun lilnnasi waliyuntharoo bihi waliyaaalamoo annama huwa ilahun wahidun waliyaththakkara oloo al-albabi

“This is a communication to be transmitted to mankind so that they can be warned by it and so that they will know that He is One Allah (SWT) and so that people of intelligence will pay heed.”

In many other verses, Allah (SWT) emphasizes that one of the most crucial purposes of the Quran’s revelation is to invite people to ponder.

In the Quran, Allah (SWT) invites people to reject blindly accepting the beliefs and values society imposes on them and to ponder by pushing aside all the prejudices, taboos and constraints on their minds.

People must think on how they came into being, what is the purpose of their life, why they will die and what awaits them after death. They must question how they themselves and the whole universe came into existence and how they continue to exist. While doing this, they must relieve themselves of all constraints and prejudices.

By thinking, while isolating conscience from all social, ideological and psychological obligations, the person should eventually perceive that the entire universe, including him or herself, is created by a superior power. Even when he or she examines his or her own body or any other thing in nature, they will see an impressive harmony, plan and wisdom at work within its design.

At this point again, the Quran guides mankind. In the Quran, Allah (SWT) guides us as to what we should reflect on and investigate. With the methods of reflection given in the Quran, he who has faith in Allah (SWT) will better perceive Allah (SWT)’s perfection, eternal wisdom, knowledge and power in His creation. When a believing person starts to think in the way shown in the Quran, he soon realizes that the whole universe is a sign of Allah (SWT)’s power and art, and that, “nature is a work of art, not the artist itself”. Every work of art exhibits the exceptional skills of the one who has made it and conveys his messages.

In the Quran, people are summoned to contemplate numerous events and objects that clearly testify to the existence and uniqueness of Allah (SWT) and His attributes. In the Quran, all these beings that bear witness are designated as “signs”, meaning “tested evidence, absolute knowledge and expression of truth”. Therefore, the signs of Allah (SWT) comprise all the beings in the universe that disclose and communicate the being and attributes of Allah (SWT). Those who can observe and remember will see that the entire universe is only composed of the signs of Allah (SWT).

This, indeed, is the responsibility of mankind; to be able to see the signs of Allah (SWT)… Thus, such a person will come to know the Creator who created him and all other things, draw closer to Him, discover the meaning of his existence and his life and so prosper.

Each thing, the breaths a human takes, political and social developmants; the cosmic harmony in the universe, the atom, which is one of the smallest pieces of matter, is each a sign of Allah (SWT) and they all operate under His control and knowledge, abiding by His laws. Recognizing and knowing the signs of Allah (SWT) calls for personal effort. Everyone will recognize and know the signs of Allah (SWT) in accordance with his own wisdom and conscience.

Undoubtedly, some guidelines may also help. As the first step, one can investigate certain points stressed in the Quran in order to acquire the mantality that perceives the whole universe as an articulation of the things created by Allah (SWT).

Allah (SWT)’s signs in nature are emphasized in Surat an-Nahl:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً لَكُمْ

مِنْهُ شَرَابٌ وَمِنْهُ شَجَرٌ فِيهِ تُسِيمُونَ16:10

huwa allathee anzala mina as-sama-i maan lakum minhu sharabun waminhu shajarun feehi tuseemoona

It is He who sends down water from the sky. From it you drink and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds.

يُنْبِتُ لَكُمْ بِهِ الزَّرْعَ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالنَّخِيلَ

وَالأعْنَابَ وَمِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

16:11

yunbitu lakum bihi az-zaraaa wa az-zaytoona wa an-nakheela wa ‘anaba wamin kulli ath-thamarati inna fee thalika laayatan liqawmin yatafakkaroona

And by it He makes crops grow for you and olives and dates and grapes and fruit of every kind. . There is certainly a sign in that for people who reflect.

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ

وَالنُّجُومُ مُسَخَّرَاتٌ بِأَمْرِهِ إِنَّ فِي

ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

16:12

wasakhkhara lakumu allayla wa an-nahara wa ash-shamsa wa alqamara wa an-nujoomu musakhkharatun bi-amrihi inna fee thalika laayatin liqawmin ya’qiloona

He has made the night and the day subservient to you, and the sun, the moon and the stars, all subject to His command. There are certainly signs in that for people who use their intellect.

وَمَا ذَرَأَ لَكُمْ فِي الأرْضِ مُخْتَلِفًا أَلْوَانُهُ

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَذَّكَّرُونَ16:13

wama tharaa lakum fee al-ardi mukhtalifan alwanuhu inna fee thalika laayatan liqawmin yaththakkaroona

And also the things of varying colors He has created for you in the earth. There is certainly a sign in that for people who pay heed.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ الْبَحْرَ لِتَأْكُلُوا مِنْهُ

لَحْمًا طَرِيًّا وَتَسْتَخْرِجُوا مِنْهُ حِلْيَةً تَلْبَسُونَهَا

وَتَرَى الْفُلْكَ مَوَاخِرَ فِيهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

16:14

wahuwa allathee sakhkhara albahra lita/kuloo minhu lahman tariyyan watastakhrijoo minhu hilyatan talbasoonaha watara alfulka mawakhira feehi walitabtaghoo min fadlihi wala’allakum tashkuroona

It is He who made the sea subservient to you so that you can eat fresh flesh from it and bring out from it ornamants to wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it so that you can seek His bounty, and so that perhaps you may show thanks.

وَأَلْقَى فِي الأرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَنْ

تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَأَنْهَارًا وَسُبُلا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ16:15

waalqa fee al-ardi rawasiya an tameeda bikum waanharan wasubulan la’allakum tahtadoona

He cast firmly embedded mountains on the earth so it would not move under you, and rivers and pathways so that perhaps you might be guided, and landmarks.

16:16 وَعَلامَاتٍ وَبِالنَّجْمِ هُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ

Wa’alamatin wabi an-najmi hum yahtadoona

And they are guided by the stars.

16:17أَفَمَنْ يَخْلُقُ كَمَنْ لا يَخْلُقُ أَفَلا تَذَكَّرُونَ

afaman yakhluqu kaman la yakhluqu afala tathakkaroona

Is He Who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed?

Part 2

In the Quran, Allah (SWT) invites people of understanding to think about the issues which other people overlook, or just dismiss using such barren terms as “evolution”, “coincidence”, or “a miracle of nature”.

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ

وَاخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لآيَاتٍ لأولِي الألْبَابِ3:190

inna fee khalqi as-samawati wa al-ardi wa ikhtilafi allayli wa an-nahari laayatin li-olee al-albabi

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people of intelligence:

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَى جُنُوبِهِمْ

وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا

خَلَقْتَ هَذَا بَاطِلا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

3:191

allatheena yathkuroona allaha qiyaman waqu’oodan wa’ala junoobihim wayatafakkaroona fee khalqi as-samawati wa al-ardi rabbana ma khalaqta hatha batilan subhanaka faqina ‘athaba an-nari

those who remember Allah (SWT) standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth:

“Our Lord, You did not create this for nothing. Glory be to You! So guard us from the punishmant of the Fire. (Surah Ali-‘Imran: 190-191)

As we see in these verses, people of understanding see the signs of Allah (SWT) and try to comprehend His eternal knowledge, power and art by remembering and reflecting on them, for Allah (SWT)’s knowledge is limitless, and His creation flawless.

For people of understanding, everything around them is a sign of this creation.

Wa allahu alim.

Watch Documentary / Short films : Give Me Your Love by Nameera Ahmed

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

A wonderful short documentary on the music of the Mevlevis and a fascinating look into the making of the Ney (flute) that is used in this tradition. Wonderfully made film, the link is to the entire film (about 29 minutes) as part of an online film festive. I highly recommend it!

Watch Documentary / Short films : Give Me Your Love by Nameera Ahmed

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