Dawah and Our Attitude

Paul Walker, the famed actor from the Fast and the Furious Series of movies died in a car crash. Its an irony that a man who made his name in movies depicting death defying car stunts died in this way. But irony aside, it is quite tragic to see many Muslims pronouncing judgement upon him and act quite self righteously, sometimes in an attempt to deter other Muslim fans from being attracted to the glamour world. On the other hand, the growing irreverence to sanctity in the social media has even resulted in people making fun of his death through memes and hoaxes.

May Allah SWT protect us!

I remember from a lecture by Sh.Yawar Baig, that the reason Muslims invite non Muslims to Islam is because of the fact that we love for them what we love for ourselves. We Muslims are definitely becoming more active in inviting people to Islam, with tables, talks and debates being set up all over the world. But we need to question are ourselves is the reason why we call people to Islam love or is just a way of feeling good about ourselves because “I established the supremacy of Islam by winning arguments with the next guy on the street.”

Dawah is simple because it is mostly action and less speech. What you do regularly is what you are actually calling other people to. Elvis Presley sang about a little less conversation and a little more action. Dawah is just like that, a little more action goes a long way. The Prophet and Sahaba spread Islam through action. Many know the story of Abu Bakr’s conversion and the conversion of his close friends because they trusted the men whose characters were so pleasing.

Paul Walker’s death is interesting because he was famous among he youth and like I mentioned earlier and thus his death is indeed a sign that all the glitz and glamour in the world is short lived. Yes, the ultimate end of one who denied Allah’s Lordship in this world is the fire, Allah SWT forgives every action except associating partners with him, but that is for Allah SWT to decide and not us.

Thus if you really find it necessary to speak to warn your brothers and sisters, then at least avoid actions such as throwing shame grenades at those who don’t know better (70 excuses for the believer, remember). There has to be a better and more pleasing way of talking and directing fellow muslims away from actions that don’t benefit them without alienating them completely. If dawah to non muslims much love then how much more should advice to a fellow believer be?

After all you wouldn’t want your good deeds reduced on the Day in trying to do good in this world. Take a look at the article which I have reblogged below and this one from YMD to get a perspective on Dawah – Calling to Islam and how the Early Generations achieved it.

Note: This post was edited from its initial form after some introspection and research about the content

Advertisements

Life-cycle of a Believer

If you have 10 minutes take a look at this as well

|-| Fajr |-|

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Surah al-‘Asr is a fascinating chapter in the Qur’an because despite it being the second shortest chapter, it sort of sets the details/blueprint and encompasses the cycle of a believer’s life. Think about it:

“By Time.
Indeed, Mankind is in loss.
Except those who believe and do good deeds, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.” [al-‘Asr]

A person’s lifeTime seems to follow a certain pattern: We are all in loss and in danger of losing our Hereafter – except for the believer. But when belief enters your heart, you naturally start doing deeds of righteousness. But then belief can’t stay suppressed in your heart and so you advise others and enjoin goodness – more importantly, you stand up for the Truth. And the moment you stand up for the Truth in this world, is the moment you will…

View original post 83 more words

Charming the Money Snake

Often times in our community we hear the following

“If I was richer I would definitely contribute to this project or that cause!!!

The money I have is just enough for me to get by!!

One day InshaAllah I well be self sufficient enough to spend more in the Cause of Allah SWT

and so on and so forth
Then we some how console ourselves by saying the day I have enough money I will surely give it here and there for the sake of Allah SWT.

How much is enough and who decides this?

SubhanAllah our Prophet SAW admonished us by saying “Save yourselves even if by the skin of the date”. Yet we fool ourselves in this materialistic/consumerist society that one day we will have enough money to spend in Allah’s SWT way after we have spent on ourselves.

Just yesterday one of the brothers I know reminded me that

He ﷺ said, “By Allah I don’t fear for you poverty, but I fear that the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those before you, so you compete for it as they have competed for it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them.” (Agreed upon)

Reflect!

On the Path of Knowledge

— Written by a good friend

We frequently use Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf (RA) and Uthman ibn Affan (RA) as examples to state that “there is nothing wrong with being rich, it’s how you spend the wealth”. This is true but it’s a “premature” conclusion.

Imam Ghazali writes on the topic of “Love of wealth”:
.
Know that the likeness of wealth is that of a snake in which there is both poison and medicine, as we have said. Whoever does not know the incantation for the snake and seizes one in his hand will be destroyed. It is for this reason that is not proper for someone to say: “Amongst the companions, there were some who were rich, such as Abdur Rahman bin Awf and the likes of him. Therefore, there is no fault in being rich.” This is as though a child, seeing a magician who takes a…

View original post 44 more words

Oxfam Relief Efforts in Uttarakand

Recent rains in Uttarakand have created widespread damage in the region with entire villages being washed away and thousands of people still stranded. The Indian army and other agencies are coordinating relief efforts while certain politicians are taking this as an opportunity for one upmanship.

Below is a quick picture I came up with, after a conversation with the Oxfam India representative in Bangalore. The email conversation along with details of operations on the ground and contact details are included here. Oxfam is currently providing relief services in terms of food and blankets at the moment along with help from people experienced in disaster management through their local partners.

Uttarakand Damage

Uttarakand Damage

The scope of their work will extend to providing shelter, health, hygiene and water services. Due to difficulties in transporting material from other parts of India, Oxfam is accepting monetary donations only (tax exemptible) and sourcing required materials from nearby locations. You can choose to blame this person or that or you can contribute in your own small way to helping out people.

Donate at http://www.oxfamindia.org (give them a call to get your tax exemption certificate). Go to the website for more details.

Gaza : If the dead could speak

This is something I wrote for the people in Gaza. Take Heart my brothers and Sisters – Your Lord shall never forsake you.

Al Jazeera ReportsThe death toll has crossed 100 people in Gaza with over 800 injured. During this period, more than 500 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel, killing three people and injuring dozens.

“Gaza is about 25 miles long and 5 miles wide. Its population is 1.6 million people, and nearly half of those are children. Their food, water, and energy supply are all controlled by Israel. This isn’t a war. This is shooting fish in a barrel.” – Somewhere on FB

If the dead could speak

If the dead could speak what would they say

What are the stories of those passed away

Who would want to come back and

Who would want to stay.

 

War on terror, terrorists or the Pillar of defence

Out to get those who intimidate them

The mighty aren’t really that mighty if they

Fear the sling shots of those whose rights they took away

 

A single soul is equal to all of humanity

So don’t take a life away but those who build

empires  now don’t care about

how many lives have been wiped away

 

Fathers, mothers and even children aren’t safe

when “targeted strikes” kill everyone in its wake

How blind are those who believe the lies that says

killing pregnant women in self defense is okay 

 

Let every oppressor know there is a witness over him

Let them know His names –  the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith,

the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior.

The One who has promised darkness to the oppressor on a Mighty Day

 

He expelled from fortresses those who thought

They would never go away and those stronger in strength

He caused winds to blow them away

yet His Mercy Encompasses even the oppressors who pray

 

Don’t think those who die in His way are forgotten

For they Rejoice in the bounty of their Lord and no fear is upon them

Yet our hand cringes at action, the mouth dries at speech

Maybe then it is we who are dead and not they.

 

If the dead could speak what would they say

What are the stories of those passed away

Who would want to come back and

Who would want to stay.

– – –

Below are 5 out of 10 facts about Gaza posted in this Huffpost article

1) “PRISON CAMP”

David Cameron once referred to Gaza as a “prison camp” and “some sort of open-air prison”. 1.7million Palestinians are crammed into just 140 square miles; Gaza is one of the most crowded places on earth.

Israel, despite withdrawing its troops and settlers from the Strip in 2005, continues to control its airspace, territorial waters and border crossings (with the exception, of course, of Gaza’s land border with Egypt).

2) (UN)FAIR FIGHT

Remember: according to the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem, in the last major conflict between Israel and Hamas – ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which kicked off in December 2008 – 762 Palestinian civilians were killed, including more than 300 children, compared to three (yes, three!) Israeli civilians.

We seem to be seeing a similar imbalance in bloodshed this time round: “More Palestinians were killed in Gaza [on Wednesday] than Israelis have been killed by projectile fire from Gaza in the past three years,” wrote Palestinian-American activist Yousef Munayyer on the Daily Beast website.

3) “COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT”

Why do they hate us, ask ordinary Israelis? Well, Gaza has been under siege since January 2006, after its residents dared to elect a Hamas goverment in free and fair elections. The subsequent economic blockade imposed upon the Strip by the Israeli government at one stage prevented the residents of Gaza from importing, among other things, coriander, ginger, nutmeg and, even, newspapers.

Most international lawyers, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), consider the blockade to be illegal under international humanitarian law; in 2009, a UN panel, led by distinguished South African judge and self-confessed Zionist Richard Goldstone, accused Israel of imposing “a blockade which amounted to collective punishment”.

4) “ON A DIET”

In 2006, Dov Weissglass, the then chief of staff to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon summed up his government’s approach to Gaza and its residents when he confessed: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

A rhetorical flourish? Not quite: in 2008, Israeli defence officials in charge of restricting food and supplies from entering Gaza went so far “as to calculate how many calories would be needed to avert a humanitarian disaster in the impoverished Palestinian territory, according to a… declassified military document.”

5) STUNTED GROWTH

Some 10% of children under five in the Gaza Strip have had their growth stunted due to prolonged exposure to malnutrition. “Stunting (chronic malnutrition) is not improving and may be deteriorating,” concluded the World Health Organisation in May of this year.

Richard Falk has a more in depth look at the situation including policy failures and media hypocrisy here 

To give or not to give

BBC had a show sometime back called “Britian’s Biggest Hoarders”.  The show documented the lives of two individuals who had the habit of hoarding stuff and the effect of this habit on their spouses and children. Their houses were stuffed with things (sometimes from 30 years ago) like sardines in a tin can, leaving just enough room to sit and sleep. The condition is apparently called Compulsive Hoarding where the individual keeps acquiring items and perceives these items to have a higher value than their actual value. Such people can rarely bring themselves to discard these items even if they can’t make use of it anymore.

Why am I going on about this condition?

In preparing for my wedding next month, our apartment is being repainted. Ours is not a very large place and every day the painters do up one room. The painting process though has made me realize the amount of things we have. Before painting a room, my mum and I empty the stuff that can’t be covered up and move it to another room or the hall or wherever convenient. A few days of this juggling about has made me feel as if there is no end to things we have.

As I look around and see things that vary in size, shape, value, utility and age, I know why I need some things but what to do with others I can’t figure out. Some things I can remember when I got them, others I have no clue why they are here.  Some things hold sentimental value and others are just plain rubbish. Yet somehow I feel it is impossible to clean them out. In taking decisions about keeping, discarding or giving away an item, we always seem to side with keep it over chuck it. Somehow we always feel that this might be useful some other time.

Don’t get me wrong, we are the average household with the average number of things acquired over the years and we keep giving away stuff/ throwing them off as and when required. But when the issue of doing it all at once has come upon us, the task seems infinitely more difficult. We are handicapped in, India (depending on where you are) as compared to the west because of the lack of centralized and easily accessible services (both profit and not for profit) to get rid of stuff. This definitely adds to the bias but what bothers me is well known verse in the Quran and incident in the Prophet’s  life.

Allah says in the Quran  in the Chapter of the Cow

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.[2:177]

Notice how He says that piety is not just doing the outward rituals but it is to truly believe in Him and His commands. The belief then should cause the believer to do things in spite of its obvious difficulty. In this verse the first of such acts is to give from wealth you love to those who need it.

I am reminded of the incident where in preparation for the Battle of Tabuq, the two closest companions of the Prophet  competed to see who would give away more for Allah’s sake. Umar ibn Al Khattab gave away half his wealth and thought that would be enough. But when he saw Abu Bakr give away all his wealth Umar realized he couldn’t surpass Abu Bakr.

When the Prophet  asked Abu Bakr what he left for his household, he replied Allah and His Apostle, indicating his reliance in Allah’s providence. Today when I look at an old watch that nobody uses, I still loathe giving it away because I think I can fix it and use it again. This being items not in use, I wonder when will I be able to give away a watch that I am using to someone else who needs it. May Allah give you and me strength.

Hurricane Sandy’s wake

In the modern world where happiness is directly associated with the amount and value of our possessions, Allah still provides us opportunities to reflect. After Hurricane Sandy, millions of people lost their belongings and possessions, besides being in mortal danger. In Syria, people everyday wake up to the fear of destruction of their homes and families. These are just incidents in recent memory and there will always be many more to look towards and think about.

In spite of knowing the limited value of material things we hold on to it as if we are to live forever. The process of letting go is hard but working towards it is our real purpose. To end I would like to give you a quote by Imam Ahmed who was once asked –

” Can a man be extremely wealthy and still be modest?”

He replied, ” Yes, As long as he carries his money in his pocket and not in his heart “

I Pray that Allah makes it easy for us to give for His sake from that which we love. Ameen.

PS : Last year I was able to take part in Charity Week 2011 being in London through the Imperial College Islamic Society. This year seemed to be much bigger and better than last year (preview below). May Allah bless all the people who gave, the people who organised and the orphans who shall benefit. Ameen

A Quake in Bangalore, Tremors in the Heart

A couple of days back in Bangalore, many of my friends and family would have felt the mild tremors that occurred due to earthquake of the coast of Aceh province of Indonesia. The tremors were quite mild with the earth actually shaking for mere seconds causing little or no damage altogether. In most of southern India, these tremors weren’t the kind that set the heart racing and or caused panic among the masses, though people near the coast were still worried about the possible tsunami. But if you were to take a glance at the pictures and videos of people in Indonesia, you would see that the memories of the last great quake 2004 are still raw.

In my mind earthquakes are associated with the one that hit Indonesia in 2004 causing the massive tsunami and the one that struck the region of Bhuj in Gujarat in 2001. The massive destruction caused in these regions due to the population density is something I can never forget. All praise to Allah SWT that I have never had to experience something like an earthquake or tsunami nor can I truly imagine the feelings of horror and dread that fill the individuals caught in such situations. I can still remember watching on the news, huge waves of water that crashed through the lower lying regions of Indonesia, stopping at nothing and reducing everything in its path to rubbish. I can recall the newscast after the tsunami where nearly every half hour the number of dead reported rose in hundreds and thousands until it was finally declared that nearly 200,000 people had lost their lives in the region.

Since then no earthquake has been so destructive yet it would be hardly respectful to consider any other event less tragic. It is definitely an underlying human characteristic that even after such momentous events, we are able to pick ourselves up and start rebuilding our lives. With the passage of time we are always able to replace destruction with order and sadness with numbness. The advent of modern technologies such as the early warning system may make the recovery process easier by preventing loss and allowing swifter responses post the disaster. But the very nature of these systems, for me, serves to remind us of our frailty.

 For as human beings we cannot stop a disaster from occurring nor do we design technologies to do so. We try at best to minimize the damage caused in any situation. Our science enables to explain events like why there was no tsunami this time or why there is night and day. But sometimes we need to go deeper than the surface and see things with perspective. Human beings have existed for a long time now and each and every one of them has experienced night and day, rain and shine, food and drink – all of these phenomena ever present without a need for explanation. For think about it – we do not control the sun or the moon yet we take it for granted that there will be a day for our work and a night time for our rest. In an earlier piece I mentioned how we do not get a lot of choice but events such as earthquakes serves to remind us that even the semblance of control we have may not really exist.

I might come across as a pessimist or a cynic given how I go on about a lack of choice or control and such matters, yet I feel optimistic about my state and I will let you know why in a moment. Before I do though, I would like to ask you what you think. How do you perceive such disasters? Does it make you ask deeper questions about yourselves or do you just choose to cover up such feelings? Reflection is a lost art in this modern world of distraction but do you not think you would like to take a few minutes and connect with yourself seeking answers to bigger questions or do you just take 42 as the ultimate answer?

As for my optimism, I’m reminded of the many instances in the Quran where our creator mentions

“And in the alternation of night and day, and the provision (rain) that Allah sends down from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and in the turning about of the winds (i.e. sometimes towards the east or north, and sometimes towards the south or west etc., sometimes bringing glad tidings of rain etc., and sometimes bringing the torment), are signs for a people who understand.” [The Crouching 45:5]

And in another place

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah has power over all things. Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire. [Family of Imran 4:189-191]

I leave you with a short recitation that should serve for us an early warning system for the ultimate end

Have you ever scratched beneath the surface?

In life, there are times when we think about ourselves and our situation and exclaim – “Hey I never imagined I’d be in this situation or I never dreamed that I’ll be doing this with my life”. We look around us and think of our choices and say, “Wow I never thought that such and such would be important to me or that I have these qualities as a part of my character.”

This feeling might not overtake us very frequently. More often than not we just let our life rush by us, as we run the rat race or just spend time chilling as they say. We do what we do and just accept that life is a series of random events and we are where we are today as a matter of coincidence or the like. There are probably very few occasions in our life when we actually sit down, take time out and look back at our lives and reflect. We hardly ponder about the effects of those little matters which seemed random or pure strokes of luck (the good type or the bad type) at that time yet have caused you to be where you are right now.

“Pray why should we bother with the past,” you ask me, “It is this moment that is really important and we might as well just live in this moment.” Well, you are right there, this moment is important but a few years down the line this very moment could decide what you are doing then. What is random today is the reason you are where you are tomorrow. As you look back, life seems to be a script that you lived, as Shakespeare implied when he said life is a stage. But I’d like to ask a different question.

It is obvious every person considers his life to be important to himself if not to anybody else. Every individual holds himself in high regard feeling that he should have a good life. We spend our entire lives pursuing that good life. But why do we have this sense of entitlement? Why do we think that, we can’t believe we are here or can’t understand why we aren’t somewhere else? After all, we didn’t choose when we are going to be born; we don’t choose when we are going to die. We don’t have a choice in, whom we are born to nor can we question why India or Middle East or Africa or anywhere else for that matter. It just happened and we just accept. We can always say that I wish I was such and such or so and so but like you and I know that is just a wish. Escapism at best.

Among us there are those who will leave a legacy behind, but I wonder about the countless billions that came to this planet. Who were these people before us? Nameless and faceless they played their part in making the earth go round. Surely among them were good people, good fathers and good mothers, intelligent children, creative individuals, who lived out their time maybe in poverty or may be in wealth, maybe in health or maybe in sickness and when their time came left the planet for good. Like them we too came on this planet and we too shall leave when our time is up. We don’t remember them as we remember Gandhi or Newton. Every generation can hardly remember more than a generation or two or maybe three that preceded it.

Then in reality we need to question ourselves to whom does this life matter? Why should we be alive even and what is our purpose? For we can for ourselves make up a purpose – to be wealthy, to be recognized or just to be plain happy. But we know that there were many who never got there and died trying in the purpose. Each and every one of us knows about the lowest common denominator for all of humanity – death but when is each person’s appointed time, we humans don’t’ have a clue! Logically speaking this abrupt end to life should in fact make our life purposeless for why bother with something that is limited in and of itself. No human being can deny the reality of death but very few wonder what is to happen after.

Thus I invite you to take a few moments out of your day and contemplate your life (the past and the future) and ask yourselves to where you are really headed.

As for me, three lines from the noble Quran keep running through my head as I write this –

“By Time. Verily entire mankind is in loss. Except those who believe [in a meeting with their creator] and thus do righteous deeds, and enjoin the truth and enjoin patience” [Asr (103):1-3]