How Can I Help You Understand What Ramadan Really Is?

altmuslim - 8 June, 2017 - 23:00
How can I make others understand what the heck is going on in our mosques with hundreds of cars being parked and traffic problems galore? How can I make the people around me realize that Ramadan has very little do with food, which somehow always seems to be the main focal point, and has everything to do with self-change and connection to Allah? How do I speak about and relay the central role of the Quran in this month? How do I speak about these things to give others a window into our Ramadan world?

Dialogue is the only way to solve the Qatar dispute | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 June, 2017 - 18:56
Doha’s interfaith centre can foster a new spirit among the countries of the region, writes the Rev Donald Reeves

There is no way the closing of borders will solve the disputes with Qatar (Diplomatic crisis as Gulf states cut links with Doha, 6 June). But the Qataris have an asset in their negotiations: the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue is committed to spreading the culture of dialogue.

The centre’s annual conference attracts academics, activists and clerics from all over the world, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. The centre could be a useful resource in fostering a new spirit between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, and elsewhere in the region. I have taken part in seven of these conferences and I appreciate the wealth of experience they convey.
Rev Donald Reeves
Director, Soul of Europe

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Dear Mama

Muslim Matters - 8 June, 2017 - 05:00

Dear Mama,

Thank you for making my day special. To you, it felt like another day when you failed to take advantage of the blessings of this month but to me, it was magical.

You were trying so hard to be as quiet as possible when you woke up to prepare suhoor for you and Baba but soon my little feet came running out of my room. Snack time at 4am! I never get to be out of bed at nighttime so I could tell something was special today! You looked so sleepy but you still gave me a hug and let me have a date.

Anas ibn Malik described the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “I served the Prophet for ten years, I lived with him for ten years and not once did he rebuke me. Not once did the word “uff” come from his mouth.”

I pray that you get to have special snack time with the Prophet in Jennah, Mama.

You were trying so hard to pray ‘Asr with extra focus and khushoo’ today. I’m sorry you worried when you saw me wander toward the stove where dinner was cooking and you hurriedly said your salaams to end your prayer. I wanted to mix the pasta since you always say I’m your big helper.

In Surah at-Tahrim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…” (66:6)

I pray that Allah protects you from even getting close to the Hell Fire in the same way that you protected me from this fire.

You had finally finished cooking and sat down to read some Qur’aan thinking that you would take advantage of the last couple of hours before Maghrib to get in touch with Allah’s Book. But I was thirsty and wandered over to ask for some water. Thank you for taking my hand and walking me to the kitchen to quench my thirst.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “On the Day of Judgment, Allah, the Exalted, will say: “‘O son of Adam! I asked you to give water to Me, but you did not give it to Me!’ The son of Adam will say: ‘O Allah, How come You ask me for water even though You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ Allah will say: ‘My slave asked you for water and you refused to give him. Don’t you know that if you had given him water, I would have rewarded you?’” (Muslim)

I pray that Allah quenches your thirst on the Day of Judgment like you quenched my thirst today, Mama.

As soon as you started listening to a Ramadan lecture on your laptop, my sister pulled my hair so I pushed her. As the yelling and fighting escalated, you distracted us by suggesting we take a walk to “shake our sillies out.” Thank you for showing us the leaves and the acorns. Thank you for taking us to feed the ducks. You reminded us that we can get closer to Allah by admiring His creations and thanking Him for our blessings.

In Surat Ibrahim, Allah says, And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” (14:7)

You taught me to be grateful and so I pray that Allah will increase you in everything good.

When I cried you came running. I scraped my knee while chasing the prettiest duck I could find. Knowing you were there made me feel safe and I knew I would be ok.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The most beloved of the people to Allah are the most beneficial for the people. The most beloved of actions to Allah are to cause happiness to reach a Muslim, to relieve him from a hardship, to settle a debt for a Muslim or to repel hunger from him. For me to walk with a brother in order to assist him is more beloved to me than to make ‘Itikaf in this Masjid (Masjid al-Madeenah) for a month.” (Reported by Al-Asbahani and Ibn Abi Al-Dunia)

You make me happy everyday, you relieve me from every difficulty and you feed me when I’m hungry. I pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) makes you even more beloved to Him than you are to me (although I don’t know how that’s possible since I love you all the way to the sky, Mama).

When it was time to break your fast, you finally sat down with your plate of food and were about to take your first bite when I asked you if I could have a piece. You moved your fork away from your mouth and put it into mine with a smile on your face.

Anas ibn Malik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)said, “A woman came to ‘A’isha and ‘A’isha gave her three dates. She gave each of her two children a date and kept one date for herself. The children ate the two dates and then looked at their mother. She took her date and split it into two and gave each child a half of it. The Prophet (saw) came and ‘A’isha told him about it. He said, ‘Are you surprised at that? Allah will show her mercy because of her mercy towards her child.’” (al-Albani)

I pray that Allah shows you mercy and fills your tummy with yummy goodness in Jennah, Mama.

When you finally put my sister and me to sleep, your eyes struggled to stay open. You just couldn’t stay awake for the taraweeh prayer you had hoped you would complete tonight. You awoke for suhoor feeling guilty that you couldn’t do more- only to start the entire process again as you heard the pitter patter of little feet excitedly drawn to the lights and smells of your “4am snack time.”

Dear Mama, this Ramadan remember: “…My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him/her, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him/her.” (Hadith Qudsi)


Do not doubt for one moment that wiping those runny noses, feeding those hungry mouths and nurturing the minds and hearts of your children is a way to draw nearer to Allah. Make your intention that you are embracing the role that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) granted you as a mother and that every monotonous daily task can be your fulfillment of a religious duty that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has enjoined upon you. During Ramadan, and throughout the year, we need to prioritize our obligatory acts of worship. Caring for our children is, without a doubt, an obligation and an act of worship.

Remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) chose you to be the mother of your children and there’s no role that is more rewarding for you right now than this one because Allah has decreed it for you and only you. Allah (swt) acknowledges the hardship mothers endure when He says, “And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (Surah al-Ahqaf: 15)

Instead of viewing our children as the obstacle to worshipping Allah during this blessed month, let us view them as the key to our salvation, forgiveness and success this Ramadan. You are a gift to them and they are a gift to you. View your daily struggles as opportunities and imagine your scale of good deeds overflowing with all that you achieve as you care for your family during this blessed month.


Daniel Andrews attacks Islamic Council of Victoria's plan for 'safe space'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 8 June, 2017 - 04:08

Victorian premier says place for young Muslims to discuss ‘inflammatory’ issues would be a ‘hate space’

A proposal by the Islamic Council of Victoria to gather people with extreme views in a “safe space” to discuss their ideas has been dismissed as “troubling” by the premier, Daniel Andrews.

Last month, the council made a submission to the Senate inquiry into the human right to freedom of religion or belief that said federal funding was “urgently needed” to create safe space for Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues “which in a public space would sound inflammatory”.

Related: Melbourne siege: PM demands to know why 'terrorist attack' gunman was on parole

Related: Mother of Melbourne siege victim says she 'hates' man who murdered her son

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Ramadan is When it All Began…

Muslim Matters - 7 June, 2017 - 23:33

What does Ramadan remind us of? Fasting, late night prayers, charity… Yes, all this and more. However, Ramadan should also remind us of the event with which it all began. Islam, the Qur’an and the beginning of the message of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) all started on a beautiful night in Ramadan. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Indeed, We revealed it [the Qur’an] during the Night of Decree.”[1] In another verse, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night.”[2]

Yet, not only did Islam begin in this month, it began with a single commandment. It was not a commandment to pray, give charity of even fast in Ramadan; all of these would come much later. Rather, it was a command to learn and seek knowledge, to read.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) before Islam used to like to seclude himself in the Cave of Ḥirā’, he would end up spending days at a time there, only returning when he needed to restock his supplies. It was on one such night in the cave that the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) came to him with an order. It is amazing that this order is perhaps one that we all too often overlook and neglect. We forget that our religion began with it. It was an order to read and learn. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Read in the name of your Lord who created.”[3]

Let us pause and reflect on this. We who are Muslims know that in our religion we have five pillars, knowledge and learning is not one of them. We know that we have duties and responsibilities as people, again learning and knowledge is not necessarily one of them. However, Islam began with the command to learn. Remember the context of this verse and the time at which it is being revealed. It is revealed in Makkah, where the Arabs were for the most part, an illiterate people. It was revealed to a nation that was seen as being ignorant and backward by the other surrounding empires of the time.

Then, why is knowledge given this pride of place? The Quraysh were the descendants of the Prophets Ibrāhīm and Ismā’īl [as]. They were custodians of the Ka’bah, they lived next to Ṣafā and Marwah, drank from Zamzam, were familiar with the holy sites such as Minā. They were a people who should have, because of all of this, inherited the true monotheistic religion of their great forefathers.

Instead, they did not, and they did not because knowledge had been replaced with ignorance, culture had uprooted Allah’s commands and pride and arrogance had taken the place of piety and humility. Thus, the Makkans surrounded and filled the Ka’bah with 360 idols. They would insist people made ṭawāf naked if they could not afford buy new cloth from Makkah, and they refused to go out to ‘Arafah because it was beyond the sanctuary. All this, because they had lost knowledge over time.

In those first verses Allah refers to the status of knowledge, “Read in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance.”[4] Man is nothing, born without knowledge, weak and feeble. However, through knowledge, a person is uplifted, enlightened and with sincerity, is guided to the truth. Allah alludes to this, “Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not.”[5]

In contrast to the pagan Makkans, the early Muslims began to learn. They were motivated at each stage by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who told them, and by extension us, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.”[6] And, “Whomsoever Allah wants good for, is given understanding of the religion.”[7] Thus, if some of the Companions were illiterate, they would memorise. If they were busy, they would take turns learning and revise amongst themselves. Companions like Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) dedicated his time to memorising thousands of narrations. ‘Ā’ishah became an expert on the Sunnah. Ibn ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) known for his adherence to following the footsteps of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Ubayy raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Zayd ibn Thābit raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) experts on the Qur’an. Even the Bedouin Arabs would come and ask their questions.

As such, a noble tradition began, passed on from generation to generation, from teacher to student, as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself encouraged, “There will come to you people seeking knowledge. If you see them, say to them, ‘Welcome, welcome to those who have taken the inheritance of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)’, and then teach them.”[8] The illustrious giants of this religion, from the students of the Companions, the four imams, the great scholars of adīth and so on, all the way until our time, all stem from that single commandment with which Islam began.

It is not just a commandment for the scholars and students of knowledge, it is aimed at every Muslim. We must all learn about our religion to the best of our ability, especially the aspects we need to know about in order to fulfil our religious duties. We must inspire our children to learn, leading by example, and then studying with them, showing them how important it is. One of the signs of the Day of Judgement is the loss of knowledge and the increase of ignorance. We already see the signs; people reading the Qur’an with little to no understanding, others copying and pasting religious texts without context, and yet others twisting their meanings for their own causes and gains.

This Ramadan, let us remember how our religion began and with what it began. Let us show our appreciation for our imams and scholars and for the difficult job they do. Let us make du’ā for the thousands of scholars who have passed away and upon whose shoulders we stand, and finally, in this blessed month that Allah has allowed us to witness once again, let us make a firm resolution that we will do more to learn about Islam and take from the inheritance left to us by our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

[1] 97:1

[2] 44.3

[3] 96.1

[4] 96:1-2

[5] 96:3-5

[6] Sunan Ibn Majāh

[7] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[8] Sunan Ibn Majāh

Anti-Muslim hate crimes increase fivefold since London Bridge attacks

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 June, 2017 - 21:03

Spike in reported incidents to 54 a day is greater than after Manchester atrocity and includes abusive calls and verbal attacks in public

The London Bridge attacks have triggered a big spike in hate crimes with a significant amount of them being attacks in the street directed at British Muslims.

Figures released by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, showed a fivefold increase in Islamophobic attacks since the atrocity at London Bridge on Saturday, and a 40% increase in racist incidents, compared with the daily average this year.

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Protect your rights — vote the Tories out

Indigo Jo Blogs - 7 June, 2017 - 20:35

Thomas Rawnsley, a young white man with Down's syndrome, sitting on a red sofa with his mother facing him from his left, and holding a baby girl in his right arm, supported by his mother.This will be the last blog post I make before the election starts tomorrow (Thursday) morning. The front pages of the two biggest-selling newspapers are full of propaganda against the Labour leadership, branding them friends of ‘jihadis’ and enemies of the state. It would also have been the 23rd birthday of Thomas Rawnsley, a young man from Bradford who died a miserable death in February 2015. He had been forced to live in a care home against his and his family’s wishes and had unexplained carpet burns on his body and died of heart failure. His inquest is yet to be held.

As a result of last weekend’s terrorist attack in London, in which three men used things available to all of us because they had no proper weaponry to kill and maim ordinary people, Theresa May has once again talked of changing human rights legislation to make it possible to lock up terrorist ‘suspects’ without trial. In the immediate future this is likely to mean ‘derogation’, or exemptions, from specific articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the long-term plan is for the UK to withdraw from the Convention altogether and scrap the Human Rights Act which enshrines it in UK law. They believe they can do this with public support because the ‘average’ Briton — “mainstream Britain”, or to put it another way “normal people” — does not need to use the convention or the HRA on anything like a regular basis, if at all. Britain has not known dictatorship or occupation in living memory; this can be said of few other places in Europe.

The HRA and ECHR do not principally protect the rights of terrorists, or even suspected ones. The government succeeded in deporting a number of foreign terrorists and suspects under both Labour and the Coalition and has not been significantly impeded in pursuing changes to the welfare or immigration system. The Convention does protect the rights of disabled people, by giving them a right to life, to liberty and to family life. This has, on at least some occasions, prevented individual health professionals from keeping someone locked up indefinitely for no good reason. It forced a change in the law so that people with learning disabilities cannot be deprived of their liberty with no legal sanction. The rest of us have had this right since Magna Carta; it took until this century for the rights of the learning disabled to catch up.

As we have seen, Theresa May’s and David Cameron’s governments have been rather weak on security themselves, having cut front-line policing such that officers are having to work 16-hour shifts and that outlying areas are being left with reduced cover to protect central London. They are scrabbling around for mud to throw at Jeremy Corbyn; they say he is “buddies” with terrorists, yet they called Nelson Mandela a terrorist and called for his hanging in the 1980s. They have nothing to offer on security other than panic measures and tough talk; the security of disabled people, meanwhile, is being sacrificed — their lives, liberty and standard of living is anything but secure. Neither are the health services and education the rest of us need.

I will not be voting Labour tomorrow; the only meaningful opposition to the Tories here are the Lib Dems, and I will be voting for Ed Davey tomorrow. I urge readers to vote Labour if they can, or if they cannot, vote for whomever is not a racist and stands the best chance of unseating any Tory incumbent, or to support anyone who will defend Britain’s links with the European Union and everyone’s human rights and public services. We will only get one chance to do this; a Tory victory tomorrow will mean no election until 2022, when the country will be unrecognisable.

Some links:

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Let’s Face Down Bigotry…Including Our Own

Inayat's Corner - 7 June, 2017 - 20:06

The above “jokes” were sent to a number of people including me by a former work colleague. How would you respond to them? The person who sent them appears to see no harm in them and even defended them as being “educational”.

I ask because in the wake of the latest terrorist attacks in Manchester and London Bridge, the Mayor of London’s office has reported a five-fold increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the capital on June 6 2017 compared to a daily average for the rest of 2017.

Earlier this week a Liverpool man was arrested and charged after he appeared in an online video with a machete ranting about his desire to dismember Muslims and blow up Mosques.

In Paisley, last Sunday night, a man was caught on CCTV leaving a hoax bomb outside a mosque along with a chilling note that said “You’re next”.

And in Sutton, South London, an Islamic centre had graffiti sprayed on to it, last Sunday morning, with the words “Terrorise your own country”.

The terrorist attacks in Manchester and London Bridge appears to have emboldened some racists into being more open about their bigotry, both in words and deeds.

The police to their immense credit appear to have been exemplary in their response to both the terrorist attacks and the increase in hate crimes. They have urged all people who witness hate crimes to come forward and report them and have stated that they have a “zero tolerance” policy towards all such incidents. They appear to be doing their best to perform their duty with professionalism and even-handedness and have stepped up patrols to reassure worried communities.

We as British Muslims also should be conscientious in discharging our responsibilities to our country. Bigotry in all its forms should be repudiated. Whether directed at us or directed at others by parts of our own community.

The Pangs of Hunger – Charity and Prayers for Those Facing Starvation

altmuslim - 7 June, 2017 - 18:44
Let us then direct our charity and prayers towards the 20 million people in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan who are at imminent risk of starvation. For whom this Ramadan brings not the spiritual comforts of fasting but hellish hunger and the helpless horror of watching the most vulnerable among them slowly die.

Anjem Choudary spread hate – and it was the media who let him do it | Nesrine Malik

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 June, 2017 - 14:05

Long before the attention-seeking al-Muhajiroun leader was linked to the London Bridge attack, Muslims despaired at the platform he was given

I never would have heard of Anjem Choudary, founder and leader of the now banned group al-Muhajiroun, if I hadn’t seen him on British TV. A lot. He wasn’t the infamous preacher of hate the media wanted him to be. He was a scrappy street agitator. Or, he was, until he got his big break.

His rise from anonymity to the halls of the BBC was astounding. During a certain period, if there was a TV debate about Islam, Choudary would be there. It was like asking the head of the Westboro Baptist Church to put the mainstream Christian view, and I bet even he had more followers than Choudary when the media first discovered him.

His message spread not via pulpits in places of worship, but from the studios of the BBC

Related: Religious conservatism doesn’t make a terrorist. But crime and exclusion can | Z Fareen Parvez

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Christian preachers' disappearance in Malaysia stokes fears of crackdown on religious minorities

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 June, 2017 - 02:37

Months after they were abducted, human rights activists say police appear to have taken an uncharacteristically ‘casual’ approach to their cases

The disappearance of three Christians and a man accused of spreading Shia Islam in Malaysia has prompted fears that authorities are targeting religious minorities with extrajudicial detention.

Video and witness evidence indicate that highly organised groups carried out abductions in public. Months after the men disappeared, family members have learned nothing about their whereabouts and human rights activists say police have taken an uncharacteristically “casual” approach to the cases.

Related: Fears grow Turks held in Malaysia may face unfair trial or torture at home

Related: Malaysia needs democracy. I’m in prison for that belief – but I won’t change it | Anwar Ibrahim

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Theresa May wants to talk about extremism? Let’s start with our ties with the Saudis | Moni Mohsin

The Guardian World news: Islam - 6 June, 2017 - 17:53

While western leaders have castigated Muslims for not doing more to rein in radicals, they have been cosying up to the propagators of jihad

Two years ago, while researching a book on migration, I visited West Java. One day, while driving through the uplands of Subang, I saw, among the acres of tea and coffee plantations, a huge white edifice. At first I thought it was a mosque: it had a big dome and minarets. But as we drew nearer, I realised it was a cluster of several buildings. When I quizzed my driver, he said that it was indeed a mosque and the buildings attached to it comprised a boarding school. Before I could ask what such an obviously expensive complex was doing in a rural backwater, he added that it was a Saudi-funded establishment. It was one of many, he said, that had cropped up all over West Java in recent years. Did he know anyone who attended that school? He was not local to the area but, he said, near his own village, a similar Saudi-funded school had appeared a while back. Impressed by its spacious grounds and imposing building, he had moved his 10-year-old son there, but within a few weeks he had hastily returned him to his ramshackle old village school. His son had begun, he reported, to express some alarming ideas about “true Islam” and berate his Muslim parents for their easygoing ways.

“You mean it was a madrasa?” I asked him.

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