17 Ways to Create Your Own Spiritual Space

Spiritual

After several conversations with friends and family members regarding their frustrations with the masjids in their communities and the lack of a community-feeling in their masjids really got me thinking about what the solution to this problem could be. I’ve studied masjids and tried to identify best practices, but realized that while best practices are important one’s spirituality and imaan (faith) is far more important.

It’s easy to build a masjid, but to build a community is another task all together. Many communities succeed in whatever way they can to at least have a physical structure for their masjid, but many fail miserably to build a community. This lack of community can virtually kill people’s connection to the Muslim community, Islam, and eventually with Allah all together. This trend of being unmosqued and more and more Muslims feeling alienated from the masjid is something that can have significant consequences for the future of our community.

As we continue to pray for and work towards building more warm and welcoming masjids it’s important for one to build their own masjid. No, I don’t mean a physical structure, but create your own spiritual space. What do I mean by this? I have a couple of tips below of how to create your spiritual space:

1) Pray Your Salah on Time

Start off simply by praying your salah on time. Schedule your work schedule or school schedule around the 5 daily prayers. If you need reminders download IslamicFinder’s athaan on your computer or on your phone. If you’re lazy for fajr set two alarm clocks, one on your phone and another on your alarm clock.

2) Slow Down Your Salah

A lot of us, including myself, speed through our salah without even thinking about what we’re saying and what we’re doing. After we pray we feel empty and regretful which further exacerbates our feeling of unease and lack of connection to Allah. Also, make it a point to dress appropriately when you pray. Make it an event—dress nicely, smell nice, and spend your time slowly doing wudhu and concentrate on each action. Try to also learn what you’re reciting in salah to make it more meaningful. Check out the following lectures for tips on how to improve your salah:

  • The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui(Short Imaan Booster)
  • Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)
  • Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman(Short Imaan Booster)
  • Sweetness in Prayer (Salah) – Moutasem Al-Hameedi(1 hour)
  • Salah in Focus-Abdul Nasir Jangda(1 hour)
  • Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas(1 hour)
  • Meaning of Tashahud-Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda(50 mins)

3) Create a Prayer/Dhikr Place at Home

In your home or apartment keep a prayer mat, dhikr beads and a Quran in one area to designate as a prayer/dhikr place. This will help you keep focused in salah as well as create an environment in which you can feel at peace when you pray. Below is my prayer/dhikr area.

IMG_2756

4) Create a Fajr Routine

 

What do I mean by a Fajr Routine?

  • Tahajjud: Try to get up 10-15 minutes earlier than Fajr to pray 2-4 rakahs of Tahajjud and also pray the 2 rakahs of sunnah before Fajr.
  • Read Quran Post-Fajr: Read a couple of pages of the Quran post-fajr
  • Duas: Create a dua list, you can find duas from the Quran and sunnah, simply copy and paste them onto a Word document, print them out, or you can buy Accepted Whispers (I highly recommend it):
  1. Accepted Whispers: http://www.amazon.com/Accepted-Whispers-English-Translation-Munajaat/dp/B0021IZYEQ

2. My Dua List: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101667123/Dua-List-Final

3. Dua by Muhammad Jibreel: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/worship/fasting-ramadan/a-gift-for-the-27th-night-ramadan-dua%E2%80%99-with-english-translation/

  •     Pray Salat-Ishraq: These are two rakahs of salah post-sunrise.

“Whoever prays fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two units of prayer, has a complete reward of Hajj and `Umrah [The Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, repeated ‘complete’ three times for emphasizing].” [at-Tirmidhi]

5) Pray Fajr and/or Isha at the Masjid

 

If you do have access to a masjid at least pray fajr and/or Isha at the masjid. It doesn’t matter how much you hate going to a particular masjid, but if you simply go to pray in congregation and make it a routine it’ll help you keep your imaan up and give you a imaan-boost. If you can’t make it for Fajr, at least make it for Isha.

6) Memorize Short Duas

 

Try to memorize short and simple duas. What I do is I post duas on my doors or in key areas where I’ll be sure to read them. Post daily duas for when you’re leaving home, after eating, etc.

DUAS

 7) Memorize and Understand Juz Amma (Short Surahs)

We all have memorized the short surahs in juz amma (maybe not all but some). Use this as a starting place to add meaning and purpose to your salah. If you want, try to get friends to review with or even make a weekly halaqa to go over the tafsir and meaning of the short surahs in Juz Amma. Make it a goal by the end of the year to memorize all of the surahs in Juz Amma. Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

-Juz Amma Tafsir by Nouman Ali Khan

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/juz_amma/

-Word for Word Translation:

http://www.islamicstudies.info/wordtranslation.php

  • Reconnect with the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

Listening to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)s seerah can help you increase your love and appreciation for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and truly understand who he was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMu_654ASDk&list=PL7839C1DDE0524207

9) Make Dhikr or Send Salawat on the Prophet SAW in Your Downtime

Make it a habit to make dhikr throughout your day. If you’re sitting in traffic, or studying, or working either make dhikr or send salawat on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

10) Create a Daily To-Do List and Spiritual Routine

Try to create a routine of self-improvement that includes not only spiritual self-improvement, but also personal improvement academically, professionally, or physically (Work out!). Creating a spiritual and workout routine are both good ways to keep your spiritual heart and physical heart healthy. Below is how I organize my to-do list. On the left hand side I have my tasks for the day. On the right side I have my regular daily tasks that I need to accomplish and below that I have a section (since I like blogging/writing) for article/blog or paper ideas.

IMG_2754

On how to create a daily spiritual routine I highly recommend getting Imam Ghazali’s The Beginning of Guidance and also purchasing Sh. Hamza Yusuf’s Purification of the Heart, both are great ways to start your journey of spiritual refinement.

BookPH

11) Listen to Lectures of Scholars You Enjoy

Yes, the masjid you may go to may have awful khutbahs, classes, and lectures (or you may not have a masjid close to you), but alhamdullilah for technology we have access to several scholars who we can benefit from. You can take classes on SeekersGuidance or you can simply or you can simply listen to lectures on HalalTube.com. Find lectures you’re interested in and can be imaan-boosters for you.

12) Start a Small Weekly Halaqa with Close Friends

If your masjid is failing to have quality lectures, classes and halaqas that cater to your spiritual needs create a small weekly halaqa with close friends who you can discuss Islamic topics with or make it focused upon a book or studying the Quran.

13) Reduce Unnecessary Socializing

This means reducing time spent with friends or acquaintances who bring no value into your life. You want to keep friends who bring value to your life and push you and encourage you to be a better person at every level (spiritual, emotional and personal). This’ll be a difficult task, but if you start categorizing people and start making quality friends.

Read: 10 Steps on How to Make Quality Friends

https://sabrshukr.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/10-steps-on-how-to-make-quality-friends/

14) Reduce Distractions

This means reduce your time on your smartphone, computer/laptop, and even music. I’m not saying any of these things are haram, but reducing our time on social media and technology can have an immense impact on reviving our imaan and spirituality. I remember taking a Facebook fast during Ramadan, it was the best feeling in the world and it’s amazing how much time you have once you cut down time on social media. Delete apps on your phone which are a distraction or time wasters (this includes social media apps, games and other time wasting apps).

15) Increase Your Dua

Start making dua more regularly and do so throughout the day. It can be a silent internal dua or a silent dua you say to yourself in any situation you’re in. This will help you keep spiritually fresh and help you feel closer to Allah.

16)Keep Clean and Organized

Having a clean and organized home and workplace will reduce stress and allow you to focus primarily on your dhikr, Quran-reading and will allow you to be more productive spiritually and work wise too.

17) Reflect on Events and Situations in Your Day

Use every moment, second, minute and hour of your day assessing, reflecting and pondering about events and situations. What lessons can you learn from them? What can you improve on? What can you do differently? How can you learn from these moments to become a better person? This isn’t to say you need to be obsessive about events or situations, but use every moment of your life to be a moment to learn from and improve yourself, your understanding of others, Allah and the world around you.

Advertisements

Raising Boys vs. Raising Men

FD

We’ve all heard the phrase “Boys will be boys” when a boy does or says something immature or silly. However, there comes a point when a boy becomes a man. However, having the characteristics and physical traits that a man has doesn’t make one a man it makes one a male. We need to make a distinction between men and boys. A guy can be well into his mid-20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s and still be a boy. This is due to the nature of his inability to emotionally, spiritually and psychologically mature. We cannot seriously say the phrase “he’s just a kid” for 18-40 year old guys. This phrase removes any responsibility or accountability for a guy’s actions by simply writing it off as “they’re just being boys” or “they’re just being kids.”  That argument won’t hold any water in the court of law and it most certainly doesn’t in our day to day dealings with others. Our actions and words have consequences. Every action has an equal or stronger reaction.

 

Yes, we’re all learning about life in every stage of our lives, but to not be in a mode of learning, self-reflection, self-improvement and introspection at every point in your life will not help you to mature. Many guys today simply live with their egos, lusts and desires. They seek to simply feed all three (ego, lusts, and desires) and don’t care if in their pursuit of self-gratification of harming others in the process. The guys I see today are obsessed with athletes, celebrities, movies, TV shows, food, and sports. This may not be the case for all youth, but is definitely a trend I see in our youth today. The question is how can we slowly transition these youth out of this mindset to a more mature mindset of thinking deeply about life, reflecting about how they’re living life, and how to better themselves every day? The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was surrounded by youth who took on positions of leadership, took initiative and were key figures in the early history of Islam.

The question is, do we see that same level of maturity in our male youth today?

Sadly, many youth are growing up with this mentality of fast and simple self-gratification. These youth then become college students, then young professionals, and then husbands of families. Yet, as they may have progressed academically and career wise they still are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at the level of a middle school kid. It’s scary to think that one day the youth that I see at the masjid and in our communities will be future husbands and fathers.

 

It’s easy to think and acts like a boy for all of your life. You can think that your actions and words have no consequences. You can think that everyone needs to respect you, demand respect from other and if anyone disrespects you you put them in their place by cussing them out or yelling at them. You can think that everything must come to you immediately. It’s sad to say though this type of behavior will not fly in the real world. If you have this boyish mentality in your school work, your work life, your family life, and with others you won’t live a very happy life. You’ll meet conflict after conflict, drama after drama and get yourself into more trouble than you want.

 

This is why I say there’s a difference between being a MAN and being a boy or simply thinking you’re a man because you’re male. A man is one who has good character, strong morals, ethics, and principles. A man is someone who is self-confident, respectful to others, builds people up and doesn’t tear them down. A man is someone who doesn’t demand respect, but earns it through his actions. A man is someone who respects women and doesn’t talk about them in a derogatory manner. A man is someone who doesn’t use bad language, yell at others or lose his temper. My question is where are the men today?

 

When I actually sat down to think about why there is such a level of immaturity in our male youth today I can only find one problem: bad parenting. Yes, there are different cases here and there that may be contrary to my finding, but at a core level the level of immaturity stems from bad parenting. If the father or mother doesn’t play a big role their son’s life by teaching him early on about ethics, morals, principles and values then how do you expect him to start adhering to them when he’s well into his teens? If a father doesn’t encourage his son to come to the masjid in his son’s early years and stress the importance of deen (Islam) in their lives how do they expect their sons to know the importance when they become 19 years old? We have parents going to imams, youth directors and the “cool uncle” and ask them “can you speak to my son? Can you encourage him to come to the masjid and remind him about Islam?” It’s sad that it’s come to this point where parents can’t even talk to their own children about their concern for the way they’re living their lives.

 

Another issue that leads to this immaturity is that we’re pampering our boys.We provide them early on with the latest gadgets, clothes, toys and demands early on and continue this trend into middle school, high school, and college. They learn to expect to get their demands at the drop of a hat. They feel entitled to certain things. They feel connected or attached to their gadgets and clothes. They feel that the latest brands are what make them better than others. They feel that can do whatever they want with no consequences.

 

This sets up our sons for failure in life. You can’t expect by giving your sons every luxury in this life at their fingertips while neglecting their Islamic education that they’ll be good human beings and successful in their lives. If you’ve given all the luxuries in the world to your son and not a firm understanding, appreciation and love of Islam then you’ve given your son nothing. We stress the dunya (this world) to such an extent to our sons that their entire lives are consumed by gadgets, clothes, TV shows, movies, etc. Lastly, as parents we can’t demand our kids to be more “religious” if we aren’t even practicing what we’re preaching. If you aren’t going to the masjid on a consistent basis, not reading Quran, not learning more about Islam how can you expect your son to take your request seriously?

 

We can no longer afford to continue this trend or it will hurt our community and our world. We cannot look and say in retrospect “where did I go wrong?” when our sons don’t listen to us, or they go down the wrong path or don’t listen to you when you tell them they should go to the masjid. We reap what we sew. “It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men” as Franklin Douglass said. We cannot easily reverse years of lack of guidance and nurturing after-the-fact of realizing the wrong we did. Sadly, for most of the immature boys we have in our community it will take a tragic event or a life-shaking event to open their eyes to change their ways, wake up and mature. I pray it doesn’t come to that and may Allah protect us from tragic events (ameen), but it will take something to shake them to wake them up to change their ways and become mature adults and men.

 

 

We need to begin raising men and not simply raising boys. We need well-balanced men who live their lives with purpose, with a vision, with a mission, and understand how to live their lives with balance. We need men who live with a strong understanding of their Islamic identity, morals, ethics and values. We need men who can become strong husbands for their families. We need men who can protect our women from the ugliness of the world. We need men who can become strong leaders for our communities.

 

We need men, not boys. No more “boys will be boys,” let them be MEN.

15 Ways to Recharge Your Imaan This Ramadan

Ramadan Recharge

So a few of my friends have asked how to make the most of this Ramadan and that they were feeling spiritually low. I sat down and thought about it and here are my simple ways to recharge our imaan (faith) this Ramadan and inshallah for year to come.

1. Tune out Distractions/Drama + Decrease Socializing

-Spend as much time as you can by yourself by making dua, dhikr, etc.

-This isn’t to say to not be nice to people and turn down invites to iftar dinners, but don’t make food the focus of your Ramadan

2. Read more Quran + Review the Meaning

-Find a Quran Translation You Find Easy to Understand

-Find a Quiet and Peaceful Place to Read Quran (I like to read Quran after fajr up until sunrise and then pray Ishraq after)

-The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever offers his morning (fajr) prayer in congregation, then remains seated making the dhikr of Allah until the sun rises, and thereafter offers two rak’ats, they will receive the reward of performing a Hajj and Umrah.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 586)

 

3. Make Dua Daily

-Create your own dua list

-OR buy: http://www.amazon.com/Accepted-Whispers-English-Translation-Munajaat/dp/B0021IZYEQ

-Dedicate a special time to make your dua with sincerity and focus)-After Fajr or Every Salah

-Here is my list of duas: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101667123/Dua-List-Final

 

4. Add one Small Sunnah to Your Routine

-Add the Sunnah Before Fajr

– 2 rakahs after Maghrib, Dhuhr, Isha

5. Slow Down Your Salah!

-We all rush through our salah, but try to slow down and understand what you’re saying and what position you’re in relation to Allah in your salah. Think to yourself: ok I’m in prostration to Allah, this means I am submitting myself to Him, I’m in Ruku, I am in a position of weakness and am proclaiming His strength.

-Great Lectures about how to gain tranquility in salah:

The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0efbrGqO1Os

Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGPCMJZ7zto

Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3k3ZkQUHYU

 

Sweetness in Prayer (Salah) – Moutasem Al-Hameedi(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O724d95udWg

 

Salah in Focus-Abdul Nasir Jangda(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhV4p0_QGxk

 

Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KRqNv22F6E

 

Meaning of Tashahud-Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda(50 mins)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IevbR3-SnSk

 

 6. Learn Daily Duas

-Post Duas Up On Your Fridge so whenever you open the fridge you read the dua

-Post Duas in Common Places like Your Front Door (Dua When Leaving the House and Dua when Entering on the Other Side of the Door)

IMG_20140306_092951

 6. Reconnect with the Seerah

-Seerah Series by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda: http://www.qalaminstitute.org/category/podcast/seerah/

-Omar Ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMu_654ASDk&list=PL7839C1DDE0524207

-Omar ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series Study Guide

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231024116/Omar-Ibn-Khattab-MBC-TV-Series-Study-Guide

 

 7. Learn Tafsir, Learn the Meaning and Memorize Short Surahs (Juz Amma)

-Juz Amma Tafsir by Nouman Ali Khan

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/juz_amma/

-Word for Word Translation:

http://www.islamicstudies.info/wordtranslation.php

 

8. Make a Dua List (of Things You Need in Dunya/Deen)

Make a dua list where you divide your needs for your dunya (immediate needs) and your deen (i.e. spiritual needs). Also, make a list of things you’re grateful for and thank Allah for them.

9. Ask Forgiveness for People You May Have Hurt

Write an email, text or call someone you may have hurt recently or in the past to ask for their forgiveness and also make a point to forgive others who have wronged you as well!

10.Make a Commitment to Repent for and Stop Any Sins You Are Engaged In

This is easier said than done, but if you look at the way your life is going you’ll begin to realize your sins have already caught up with you or will catch up with you one day or another. Key is to keep struggling against the sin(s) or temptation and never give up.

 11. Attend Tarawih Prayers

Here some tips to get the most out of your tarawih prayers:

http://www.atlantamuslim.com/2014/jul/05/5-ways-improve-tarawih/

12. Learn About the Stories of the Companions of the Prophet SAW

-Learning About the Companions can be a source of Inspiration for Us

-Here is a Great PDF: http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/books/compprophet.pdf

-Youtube Sh. Zahir Mahmood lectures on Youtube, he has some great short clips about the Companions that are Imaan Boosters. There are other lectures too so find them on Youtube.

 13. Make a Commitment to Fast Mondays and Thursdays

-Plan now to fast the extra 10 days after Ramadan–you’ll get used to fasting so why not fast Mondays and

Thursdays?

14. Try to do Ithikhaaf if You Can in the Last 10 Days

If you can’t go to the masjid and stay in the masjid for the full 10 days at least dedicate a few hours on weekends or evenings and make the intention of it counting as an ithikhaaf and inshallah you’ll get the reward for it from Allah. Dedicate the last 10 days of Ramadan just for you and Allah time to ask Him for any of your needs, forgiveness, and use it as a time to realign your life according to the Quran and Sunnah

15. Make it a Habit to Go to the Masjid for Salah

If you’re attending the masjid for Isha and tarawih then after Ramadan stick to at least coming

 

 

The Need to Build a Merciful and Caring Community

Heart

 

Note: This is a reminder to myself first and foremost. May Allah protect us all from the traits of hypocrisy and the acts of hypocrisy and may our words match our actions. Ameen.

 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” [Sahīh Muslim (2687)]

It’s apparent that Mankind is created imperfect and that we will fall, we will make mistakes and we may stray. The key however is to always turn back to Allah, repent and ask for forgiveness from Him.

 

“A servant [of Allah’s] committed a sin and said: ‘O Allah, forgive me my sin.’ And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: ‘My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.’ Then he sinned again and said: ‘O Lord, forgive me my sin.’ And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: ‘My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them.’ Then he sinned again and said: ‘O Lord, forgive me my sin.’ And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: ‘My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.’”

(Muslim, Bukhari)

 

Allah has created Mankind with proportion and beauty that He placed in us. We are unique beings that Allah created with Allah’s perfection, but what makes us imperfect is our nafs, desires, lusts and human needs and wants. We are not angels who are pure, but strive for purity and closeness to Allah.

 

Muslims are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and strive to better themselves every day. This is the very basic definition of a Muslim. Yet we are fallible, we make mistakes and will fall in our lives. However, our community makes it hard for those who sin, fall or make mistakes to forgive themselves and also seek the forgiveness of Allah. We’ve become a community that is quick to condemnation and anger, but slow to mercy, leniency and forgiveness. The Prophet Muhammad SAW was a mercy to all the worlds, yet we fail as a community to exhibit this virtue of mercy. We demand perfection from imperfect individuals and when they do slip up or make a mistake we jump on those individuals without even giving them a chance to explain themselves or defend themselves. We fail to look for excuses for our brothers or sisters. Thus, we see our Muslim brothers and sisters repelled from the masjid at first, then the Muslim community, then Islam all together.

 

Our community is facing immense pressures and is not immune to the challenges and problems other ethnic, racial and religious communities are facing. The Muslim community has issues ranging from domestic violence, drug addiction, pornography addiction, failing family structures, divorce, and the list goes on and on. We fail to understand that Muslims are not immune from these issues. We cannot naively think that “A Muslim would never do ______.” It’s a reality that Muslims are human beings with weaknesses just like anyone else. We will fall, we will make mistakes and we most certainly will sin. What makes it difficult for Muslims to recover from sin and their shortcoming is the quick condemnation or repulsion by their fellow brothers and sisters. This is further complicated and amplified by social media. A person can say one statement and it spreads like wildfire and may become a fitnah (trial) for someone’s faith in Allah or Islam. Thus, we need to watch what we say not only in person, but also online.

 

Imagine for a moment on the Day of Judgment Allah asking us about a fellow Muslim brother or sister who was seeking to come closer to Allah but through our actions we repelled them from Him and either stopped coming to the masjid or left Islam all together. This is the reality we are facing. The 10% of Muslims who are practicing Muslims who bicker over trivial issues, while the 90% of Muslims are struggling with their faith is not productive at all. Now the percentages aren’t scientific or based on research, but are only to illustrate a point. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t’ have discussions or education about Islamic rulings on certain topics regarding actions and worship, but at the same time we need to be ensuring we’re not insulating ourselves and making an exclusive club of practicing Muslims which totally neglects other Muslims who are struggling with their faith.

 

We need to have scholars talking and educating the practicing Muslim community, but scholars and the Muslim community shouldn’t have a Haram Police attitude towards the 10% practicing community and the 90% of Muslims who are non-practicing. This repels everyone away from Islam and Allah. This is not to say we need to totally ignore any haram actions or accept any non-Islamic actions, but we must realize that everyone is on their own spiritual path and is struggling in their own way, thus we need to be sure that we are bridges to Allah and not obstacles to Allah. When people see us they should be reminded of the Prophet SAW and not repelled and disgusted by Islam due to our actions.

 

We must take a nuanced approach to giving beautiful advice to correct our brothers and sisters in a way that is genuine and done with the intention of their well-being. Our community has a long way to go when it comes to discussing and creating safe spaces to discuss various challenges our communities are facing and creating warm and welcoming communities that welcome the 90% of non-practicing Muslims.

 

Below are a few tips on how we can create a more welcoming and merciful community:

 

1)      Work on Our Own Spiritual Condition

 

“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”
-Confucius

 

Before pointing fingers at anyone we need to start with ourselves and take inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and where we are on our spiritual path. Change comes from within and starts at the individual level. Educate yourself more about Islam via legitimate sources of knowledge.

 

2)      Think Well of Others

 

When we do step 1 we’ll realize that we have a lot of weaknesses we need to work on and the next brother or sister may be dealing with more or less the same weaknesses you are, thus sympathize or empathize with them at least and realize that we’re all on a spiritual journey and the key is to keep each other on that path of self-improvement and self-discovery.

 

3)      Realize We’re all Imperfect and at Different Levels of Understanding of Islam

 

We need to realize that we’re all imperfect and have different understandings of Islam. We all don’t have a perfect understanding of Islam and learn something new every day and should seek to understand the Quran and Sunnah better. However, if someone does an action that isn’t in line with the Quran or Sunnah we shouldn’t be quick to condemn them and repel them completely. Rather, advise with a beautiful reminder and do so privately without embarrassing them.

 

4)      Avoid Rushing to Issue a Fatwa or Condemnation/Avoid the Emotional Knee-Jerk Reaction

 

If you’re reading this chances are you’re not an imam, scholar or a mufti. If you are, then this advice doesn’t’ pertain to you!

Yahyaa ibn Sa’eed said: Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Everyone who issues fatwas to the people concerning everything that they ask him about is crazy” (Malik)

Sahnoon ibn Sa’eed said: the most audacious of the people in giving fatwas is the one who has the least knowledge; a man may have a grasp of one branch of knowledge and he thinks that all the truth is to be found in this branch. 

 Thus, most Muslims are in no position to issue a fatwa or condemnation of another Muslim without knowledge. If we truly want a fatwa from a legitimate scholar, go ask for one from various scholars and make your decision based on those fatwas. Also, we need to not react emotionally or in a state of anger towards certain issues, but must do so with wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

 

5)      Advise Your Brother or Sister with Sincerity (If You Care for their Well-Being)

 

The Prophet SAW said: “Religion is (sincere) advice.”They said, “For whom?” He replied, “For Allaah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders of the Muslims and their masses.” [Muslim]

 

We need to ensure that when we do give advice to others we are doing so with good intentions and with the intention to see our fellow brother or sister’s spiritual, emotional, psychological and social well-being. If our intentions don’t meet those criteria then it’s best not to give advice.

 

6)      Advise in Private

 

The Muslim for another Muslim is a mirror, but also shields his or her faults from public. Thus, if we truly love and care for our brother or sister we should advise them in private and not embarrass them in public. This is adab is lost quickly on social media with it being extremely easy to type a few words of spite or condemnation of our brother or sister.

 

 

7)      Realize There are Legitimate Points of Views on Different Matters

 

We need to avoid taking a “my way or the highway approach” when it comes to Islam. Obviously this doesn’t pertain to the core beliefs of Islam: Allah’s oneness, not associating partners, belief in the Last Day, etc. However, when it comes to other issues that are interpreted differently by legitimate scholars we need to humble ourselves and not become arrogant and flippantly try to say our way of thinking is correct and everyone’s is wrong.

 

8)      Keep it Humble

 

The biggest problem we have today is keeping ourselves humble and ensuring that we don’t become arrogant when dealing with others. This is easier said than done and is a constant and daily struggle. A simple way to keep it humble is to totally humble ourselves in front of Allah and increase our taqwa.

 

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “One who weeps out of fear of Allah, will not enter the Hell till milk returns back in the udder; and the dust raised on account of fighting in the path of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never exist together”.
[At-Tirmidhi].

 

9)      Avoid Backbiting, Slander and Gossip

 

This happens all too often on social media with one link or video which may be taken out of context or may outright be fake or false information. We need to ensure that we steer clear of these conversations online and offline as well.

 

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Quran 49:6)

 

10)  Speak Good or Remain Silent

 

Lastly, it’s best to always be aware of ourselves, our words and our actions because we don’t know the weight of our words or actions and the impact it may have on someone or ourselves.

 

Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor. And whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his guest.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]

 

.The Prophet (SAW) said: “A man might speak a word without thinking about its implications, but because of it, he will plunge into the Hellfire further than the distance between the east and west.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim ]

 

This is not to say we shouldn’t speak up for justice for ourselves or others or to condemn evil, but when it comes to criticisms of people it’s best to speak good or remain silent because or words very well may repel them from Allah and disgust them and have them reject Allah and His message all together.

 

11)  Discuss Don’t Debate

 

Debates are a waste of time and lead to ego-boosting and bad-blood. This is not to say we should totally throw out debates, but there is a time and place for them. Discussions however are much more productive than debating. We need to try to have discussions with those with opposing views than ourselves and seek to find where our brothers and sisters are coming from rather than approaching them with a heavy-handed approach.

 

12)  Be Quick to Forgive, Show Leniency and Mercy

 

Our initial reaction to an un-Islamic act is to ridicule, mock or condemn an individual. We need to avoid this.

Anas Bin Maalik said:

While we were in the masjid with the Messenger of Allah, a Bedouin came; he then urinated in the masjid.

The Companions of the Messenger of Allah said, “Mah Mah (An expression used to severly scold someone, to indicate the graveness of a matter).”

The Messenger of Allaah said, “Do not put a halt to his urinating, but instead leave him.”

They left him alone until he finished urinating.

The Messenger of Allah called him over and said to him, “Any kind of urine or filth is not suitable for these masjids. Instead they are only [appropriate] for the remembrance of Allah, the Prayer, and the recitation of the Qur’aan,” or this is near to what the Messenger of Allah said.

He (saw) then issued an order to a man from the people, who then came with a bucket of water, which he poured over the [effected] area [of the masjid].

[Related by Muslim in his Saheeh, 285]

Our brothers and sisters have done lesser than this, yet we’re quick to fight them, argue, debate, scold and condemn them. We must exhibit mercy, wisdom, love and caring as the Prophet SAW did. Reflect on his seerah, live his life. Be a walking Quran!

 

13)  Build Up, Don’t Tear Down

 

If you see a problem within an organization or a brother or sister don’t be quick to tear them down, ridicule or mock them. We will move nowhere as a community if we continually tear each other down, viciously criticize, mock, ridicule and condemn our own brothers and sisters. If we truly loved for our brothers (and sisters) what we love for ourselves we must give positive criticisms in a beautiful manner.

 

14)  Be Mature about Accepting Criticisms and Difference of Opinions

 

Lastly, we must show maturity when it comes to accepting criticsms and and differences of opinions and different viewpoints. We are all created differently, have different life experiences and yes we will have different points of views and opinions on things. The key to accepting criticisms is to accept them with grace and dignity. When one responds with rejection of the criticism or acts or responds defensively it isn’t productive at all. Regardless if the criticism is done in an inappropriate manner one must not stoop to the level of their critic. If the criticism is genuine and for your wellbeing say alhamdulllilah that one cares for your wellbeing and thank them.

 

15)  Don’t Hide Behind “Don’t Judge Me”

 

As a community we will get no where if we continually seek to ignore our weaknesses and faults and hide behind the phrase “don’t judge me.” For more information about this topic please read this article by Dawud Walid.

 

16)  Create Safe Spaces and Dialogues

 We must create safe spaces in our masjids or outside our masjids in our MSA and at our homes to discuss challenges facing our community. Communication and dialogue is key to solving challenges facing our community. We will never truly understand where we are as a community and what personal problems people are facing if we don’t create environments in which people can seek help and at the very least mercy, love and caring in a warm and welcoming environment.

17) Make Islam Relevant to the Lives of Muslims

Lastly, we need to begin making Islam relevant to the lives of Muslims and begin understanding Islam within people’s socio-cultural contexts and personal conditions. We cannot afford to give blanket statements regarding the entire Muslim community without fully understanding their spiritual, emotional, political, emotional, social and psychological conditions. We have so many youth who are confused about Islam’s relevance to their lives—-we need to start providing them solutions to the many problems they face on a daily basis and give them the confidence in their Muslim identity and their religion to face the world.

18) Pray for Your Brothers and Sisters (And Yourself!)

Lastly, pray for your brothers and sisters and yourself. Ask for guidance, understanding of the Quran and Sunnah, wisdom, strength, taqwa, sakeenah, peace and happiness for you and your brothers and sisters. We all need more duas in our lives and the world needs it too. It is the least we can do for our brothers and sisters.

 

 

Myths of Manhood*

Manhood

*As defined by modern society

We often focus on the negative impact of society, media, magazines, movies, and TV shows on women, but have forgotten that just as women have been affected men have been too. Men are told how to treat women, how to feel, how to conduct themselves, how to dress, how to talk, etc. The ugly consequences show themselves in the form of domestic violence, degradation of women, rape, and other psychological and emotional effects.

 With that said, let’s get to the myths of manhood in today’s society:

Myth #1: Men should never show emotions or affection, it’s a sign of weakness

 

Men are encouraged not to show emotions or even affection. To do so is a sign of weakness and not “manly.” We tell our boys to stop “acting like a girl” when they cry or show any emotion. We see some awful consequences of this are men’s ability to communicate how they feel to their parents, friends and future spouses.

Myth #2: Showing affection to another dude in the form of saying “thank you” or “I love you man” is considered gay or girly

There seems to be such a strong homophobia in guys today to be seen even remotely as homosexual in one’s words or actions is avoided at all costs. Saying “I love you man” or saying “Thanks man, I appreciate you” is neither gay nor is it girly. Showing appreciation for someone is great and we all need to show it.

Myth #3: Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness

 

Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is not a gender-specific problem, but for men our egos are a bit bigger thus, admitting to being wrong is a hard. Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is OKAY, it’s not the end of the world. You won’t lose any “Man Points” if you admit you’re wrong or apologize for a wrong action or statement you made.

Myth #4: Sleeping with/having many girlfriends is considered “good experience”

In a world where we fight so hard for women’s rights and respect for women it’s odd that we glorify and respect people who have had many girlfriends and slept around. In average gathering of guys you’ll see that some of the conversation will delve into ex-girlfriends, sex lives, and their relationships. The details can get pretty detailed and explicit. Sleeping around and having several girlfriends isn’t considered “macho” nor is it “good experience.” Why steal a girl’s virginity or let’s say she already lost it compromise her privacy by talking about her body and your intimate sexual actions you had with her? How would you like for your dad to talk about previous women he’d been with prior to your mother? How would that make you feel? Would it be respectful or honorable?

Myth #5: Calling women derogatory words is ok and manly

 

Calling women bitches, sluts, whores, etc. is wrong. Not even in a jokingly or seriously it’s plain wrong. If anyone spoke of your mom like that how would it make you feel? Would you be ok?

Myth #6: Commenting on girl’s bodies at stores, shopping malls, etc. is okay  

 

Gawking at a girl and visually raping her is wrong…please don’t tell me you’re “just admiring beauty.” Talking about a girl’s body is utterly screwed up and makes you look like a kid who just went through puberty. Just stop…

This also goes for the guys who have no honor and actually holler at girls too…please stop and have some self-respect and dignity.

Myth #7: Being crude, cussing and telling  sexually explicit jokes is fun, okay and makes me look cool             

 

Men who use bad language, tell explicit jokes, and have an overall dirty mouth are going the wrong way when it comes to becoming a man. Neither is it attractive to the ladies nor does it make you look cool. Yes, it may be a societal norm, but overall cussing and explicit jokes make you look like a complete fool and a person who has no morals, ethics or values.

Myth #8: Speaking loud and acting obnoxiously attracts the ladies

 

Being the loudest guy in the room will not attract the ladies. Being loud and obnoxious shows a signs that you’re immature, egotistical, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. Anyone who wants to be the focus of attention at all times and every time is like a dog looking for someone to play with him ALL the time.

 

Myth #9: Disrespecting women in front of your guy friends is cool and shows how manly you are

This is another example of immaturity and a sign of insecurity. If you need to put someone else down to feel better about yourself…you’ve got insecurity issues. Imagine someone talking to your mother the way you’ve spoken to the women you’ve verbally abused. Would you be ok with it?

 Also, calling a woman fat or ugly is NOT ok.

Myth #10: Sex jokes, jokes about rape, women’s body parts, jokes about beating women, and just derogatory and mysogynstic jokes about women are so funny and ok

 

Again, this type of behavior reflects one’s immaturity and state of their mind. If we constantly joke about women, their bodies, beating them, raping them, and disrespecting them and their bodies we’ll only continue to perpetuate the belief that rape and disrespect of women is okay.\

 Myth 11: Girls like money, cars, clothes and shiny things. The more I have of those the more girls I can attract

 

First, if you’re pursuing money or a career for girls you’ve got the wrong motivation. Secondly, if you’re attracting girls who are only into material things you’re pursuing the wrong girls. If you want a quality girl, you should pursue girls who are girls with character, morals, ethics, strong conviction, honor, integrity and confident. If you get a girl who’s just in “love” with you for your money you’ve got the wrong girl.

 

Myth 12: Bragging about my wealth, accomplishments, job titles, etc. is attractive and shows how cool and popular I am

 

This is another example of insecurity within men and men who want to seek attention. Bragging and being arrogant is not attractive, nor does it make you look cool or popular. Humility and proving yourself with your actions is far more powerful than just being all talk and no action. Also, people get tired of others talking about themselves…so switch up the conversation!

 

Myth 13: It’s ok for me to fool around, sleep around, and have a lot of girlfriends but my future wife needs to be an angel, unblemished and perfect

 

Men have this double standard when it comes to women. They become extremely judgmental when it comes to their future wives. Men seemingly have a green light to do whatever they want and not get blamed, but when a girl slips up or makes a mistake she’s condemned for life and blemished forever. Men: it’s NOT ok for you to fool around and expect your future wife to be an angel when you’ve been a devil in the past. If you’ve been able to forgive yourself for your mistakes, be prepared to forgive others for theirs. No one’s perfect—we all make mistakes.

Myth #14: As a married man, my only duty is to put food on the table and pay the bills

 

Many marriages and families are crumbling due to the lack of involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. It’s crucial for men to be active participants in the parenting process for their kids.

Myth #15: My wife has to be a supermodel, but its ok for me to be out of shape and live sloppily….I pay the bills anyways she should be happy

 

Having a double standard for beauty and cleanliness is a recipe for disaster in a marriage. If you want your wife to look beautiful, you should look handsome for her too. This isn’t a one-way street—it’s a two-way and mutual deal between two people to love, respect and care for one another. So fulfill your side of the deal!

Myth #16: Disrespecting and ordering my wife around in front of my family and friends is ok and shows who’s in control

Disrespecting and ordering your wife around your family and friends is not only disrespectful and demeaning but against every moral and ethical code of conduct. If someone were to order your mother around as a servant, slave or maid would be ordered—how would you feel? A woman’s role is not to serve you as a slave would a master.

Myth #17: Physically and verbally abusing my wife is okay and reminds her who’s in control

 

This is a problem that’s been growing in the Muslim American community and become more common in general. We need to stop domestic violence in all forms and stress to men that physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse is not acceptable in any situation or with anyone under any circumstance.

 Check out these short videos discussing manhood/machoness

http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood.html

Losing My Religion

Truth

Don’t worry, this isn’t a proclamation of apostasy. Alhamdullilah, I’m still Muslim and pray to be Muslim till the day I die and announce my shahadah (statement of belief) in Allah as the only diety worthy of worship and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being His Messenger.

What is happening is I am losing my religion to so-called “progressive Muslims,” extremists, Islamophobes, confused Muslims, Imams with ridiculous interpretations of Islam that are not in tune with current times and culture, anti-Muslim and Islam media, extreme Sufis and extreme Salafis and every deviant sect of Islam. With all of this confusion I feel that there seems to be an identity crisis occurring within the Muslim community. We have individuals speaking from a super progressive viewpoints where it sounds like a hippy version of Islam and everything goes and then we have the other side of the spectrum where everything is haram (forbidden) and bidah (innovation). Combining the clash of extreme groups with Islamophobia societal pressure and trends Muslims have become utterly and thoroughly confused about their Islamic beliefs and identity. We’re all ultimately losing our religion (and our minds :P).

In recent times Muslims have been under attack by a constant wave of Islamophobia from not only a governmental level, but virtually at every level of society. From the media, to our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and fellow students at school and others Muslims are under attack about their beliefs. Everything from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his seerah (biographical life story), verses from the Quran, to every aspect of Islam and virtually every Islamic belief is criticized. Muslims have been under attack to such a degree that Muslims begin to question their own beliefs and identity. Thinking critically of one’s faith is not discouraged in Islam, but is encouraged. Introspection, reflection and critical thinking are encouraged in Islam. Islamophobia in a way is a blessing for the Muslim community as it requires Muslims of all level of religiosity to reflect upon Islamic beliefs and their own identity.

Some Muslims have come out stronger from the constant waves of Islamophobia and reawakening of sorts has arisen in the world where Muslims have become more conscious of their identity and Islamic beliefs and their purpose. We’ve seen the rise in Muslim activism at all levels of society and seen several Muslims become excellent role models for the world and made amazing contributions to their communities. However, unfortunately for other Muslims, they’ve become more confused about their faith and began doubting their faith and have unfortunately either watered down their beliefs and Muslim identity to a point where the only thing that remains is their Arabic name or their “Islamic” dress or clothing.

I hope to focus on the latter group of individuals who water down Islam and their Muslim identity. We have several imams, scholars, and self-proclaimed experts about Islam and Muslims speaking on behalf of millions of Muslims and on behalf of Islam watering down Islam and removing certain Islamic beliefs or shy away from mentioning Islamic beliefs to gain acceptance by the overall society we live in. We are willing to remove , water down and totally ignore clear Islamic beliefs in our religion to gain acceptance. The question becomes at what cost? What will the repercussions become of Muslims watering down Islam and Muslim identity? We must make sure that individuals who are speaking on behalf of Muslims on a local and a national level are individuals who are qualified and educated enough to speak on topics dealing with Islam, Muslims and society. We must have individuals qualified, educated enough and mature enough to talk about issues that challenge the Muslim community These include issues of homosexuality, gay marriage, pornography addiction, domestic violence, and other major challenges. Also, we must be careful about how we talk about these issues especially the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. Some Muslims have gone to the extreme of totally accepting homosexuality as ok in Islam and valid. Others have taken the other extreme of totally calling for the killing of all homosexuals. We must as a community come up with a stance on this issue that is grounded in our Islamic beliefs, but also takes into account the society we live. We must ensure that we deal with these sensitive issues in a mature manner and educate our communities how to face these issues.

Here are some good resources  (Islam and Homosexuality) about to educate yourself about Islam and Homosexuality from a couple of scholars . We shouldn’t dismiss, harass and abuse homosexual individuals, rather we should conduct mature dialogues about the issue and ensure that our solutions and ideas to address the issue is grounded in our Islamic belief.

We must educate our communities in Islam, Islamic belief and cultivate their Muslim identity. This will ensure that we have a firm understanding of who we are, what we believe and why we believe what we believe. Currently, many Muslim youth (and Muslims in general) have become confused about how to deal with issues like homosexuality and gay marriage and other sensitive issues and have adopted stances that are totally against Islamic belief. We have Muslims advocating for things that are clearly un-Islamic with no knowledge of Islam. We either have become so scared of not being accepted or want to be accepted by our society that we totally turn a 180 on our beliefs or we’re so scared of Islamophobes. Either way, we’re not staying true to ourselves, our identity, and our covenant with Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him). How can we be representatives of the Prophet SAW when we don’t do our utmost to ensure that our beliefs and actions align with his sunnah (way of life and conduct)? How can we claim to represent Islam and be caretakers of the world when we aren’t educated about the basics of Islamic belief? We must go back to the Quran and Sunnah and study it in detail before we formulate beliefs and ideas on issues and ensure our beliefs align with our Islamic beliefs.

We must remind ourselves that Islam does not bend or change to the whims of societal beliefs or trends. It doesn’t change. Yes, we may interpret ayahs differently in various time periods and we have valid school of thoughts that have different interpretations, but when it comes to the core beliefs of Islam we cannot change them to please others. Unfortunately, a lot of Muslim activists and individuals in the interfaith field speak with little to no knowledge of Islamic core beliefs or water down Islamic beliefs in an interfaith setting to be more acceptable to the other faith groups. This is not to say we shouldn’t engage in interfaith dialogue, but what’s important when we do conduct interfaith dialogue is that we stay true to ourselves and our Islamic beliefs.

In addition to this, we must not get influenced by the trends of other faith communities who have bent to the whims of societal trends. Many Jewish and Christian communities have wholeheartedly accepted homosexuality and conduct gay marriages in their synagogues and churches. I love and respect my brothers and sisters of other faiths, but this is problematic as these institutions have made conscious decisions to clearly disregard their own Biblical teachings (i.e. God’s clear commandments and core tenets). When we start to chip away from our religious beliefs (no matter if you’re a Muslim, Jew or Christian) you lose your identity and you lose your religion. You begin to become God in a way. You begin to interpret religious laws and edit laws and commandments as you see fit. We should as faith communities interpret our religious texts in a modern light, but should not change core beliefs as commanded by God. If God says in our religious texts not to kill, we shouldn’t say “oh that was for the people back then, it’s ok to kill now” nor should we say “God says not to cheat, but now it’s ok to cheat.” Clearly universal principles in all religious traditions shouldn’t change to please society. It seems as if religious institutions have become so scared of losing relevancy and losing their flock they’re willing to literally sell their souls, reinterpret their texts, and change their religious beliefs radically to hang on to their congregations. This is not to say we shouldn’t call people to God, indeed we should, but should do so in a manner that ensures we are keeping true to God’s commandments and laws.

When the Prophet Muhammad SAW delivered the message of Islam and the many prophets (may peace be upon them all) they didn’t waver or give people what they wanted to hear. That is what individuals who hold Truth do, they speak the truth no matter what cost, even if it’s unpopular with people.

“Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people.” –The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

(Baihaqi)

         If in anyway the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) wavered in his mission or watered down Islam to please the Quraish we would not have the perfect and clear religion we have today. We wouldn’t have this blessing of Islam in our lives to guide us to a life that benefits not only ourselves, but society as a whole. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was given an offer by the Quraish in which they offered to worship Allah for a few months and in return the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would worship the idols. In addition to this the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was given an offer of money, status and women to stop his message, yet he refused all of these offers, because he had what they did not have. He had the Truth and stood to defend it with his life. If he wavered in anyway or changed any of it it would not be the Truth. You cannot take water and poison it and call it pure water. That is cheating the people and cheating yourself.

In a world so full of confusion and lunacy, we ask in our daily prayers for guidance at least 17 times day to the Right Path. To stray from Truth or to water down Allah’s words, commands, or teachings of the Prophet Muhammmad (SAW) is offensive to Allah and a HUGE disrespect to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) suffered, sacrificed along with his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) to deliver the message of Truth to us and to ensure we got it in the most pure form void of any blemishes, confusion or obscurity. The companions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) gave their lives for this beautiful way of life, yet today Muslims are so easily throwing it away or hiding it or feeling ashamed. We should start gaining our confidence in ourselves and our religion by learning more about the Quran and the Sunnah. Success only lies in these two ways of guidance anything less is doomed to fail us. The solutions to the problems in our own lives and in our communities lies in the Quran and Sunnah. We have the ANSWER book to our world’s problems and we simply use our own interpretations and flawed understandings with utterly no study or critical thinking of the Quran and the Sunnah and speak with no knowledge to non-Muslims and sing kumbaya to gain acceptance. We must be true to ourselves and our beliefs. Do your research prior to speaking on behalf of Islam and Muslims.  Your words may very well misguide and prevent someone from coming to God.

The world is yearning for Truth and searching for it. People are surrounded by all sorts of distractions and are wanting a way out. With our dilution of Truth we further confuse people and keep them from coming closer to God. We should be proud of who we are, proud of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and proud of our religion and its perfection and not be insecure about any beliefs or commandments. We should speak clearly, confidently, with knowledge and wisdom about our beliefs to others of other faiths and educate our communities (both Muslim and non-Muslim) about our beliefs instead of being bullied by societal trends and Islamophobes to bend to their will.

We must walk in the path of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and hold onto the Truth no matter what and become true representatives of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to the world. If we do this we will see our communities and the world change for the better.

         May Allah grant us knowledge, confidence, wisdom, and tie our hearts to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and may we always walk and be guided to the Straight Path. Ameen.

Religion Truth

 

 

Facebook Marriages

FB Marriage

In the Muslim community we have a marriage and divorce crises….one element that usually isn’t spoken about in detail is how we live our married lives on Facebook and other social media and  what a detrimental effect it can have on married life. With that said….let’s get started….

Marriage: A Sacred Trust

Marriage. Yes, we’ve all heard the many scholarly lectures, Quranic verses, hadith, and stories from the seerah regarding marriage.  We know it’s a sunnah and encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and many of us seek to get married or are already married. However, while many of us may intellectually know what marriage is and have an image of what marriage is, but truly don’t understand the essence and institution of marriage. We may be married, but may be struggling to piece together the marriage to make it work or maybe it’s working (alhamdullilah for those couples and keep them strong) or you may be seeking to get married.

Regardless if you’re single or married, we need to realize that in our community we have a severe lack of knowledge and understanding about the institution of marriage and thus, we have a marriage and divorce crisis in our community. Many marriages may be crumbling or not functional at all. We have emotional and domestic violence issues that are swept under the rug, we have miscommunication between husband and wife, we have anger issues, and the list goes on and on. There are several internal and external forces that seek to rip apart the sacred trust and bond of marriage. We must make sure we are not the cause to the best of our ability and ensure that our actions and words in our marriages are in accordance to Quran and Sunnah. Now that may sound vague, we hear “Quran and Sunnah” far too many times, but what is meant by that is that we need to fulfill each others’ rights and lower our wings and quell our egos. This goes for every relationship even with Allah and also with His creation. Thus, our relationship with our spouse (or future spouse) is a constant test and also a blessing for us to ensure we’re fulfilling the rights of our spouse, fulfilling the commandments of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and also ensuring our own spiritual development and connection with Allah is strong.

After your relationship with Allah, marriage is the most intimate relationship you can have with another being. It is a sacred trust and relationship that helps individuals complete according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) half of our deen. We are familiar with the oft quoted ayahs:

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

 [Al-Rum: 21]

It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 [AI-A`raf: 189]

Now, marriage is and can be a very beautiful and dynamic relationship in which both the husband and wife benefit from one another and grow spiritually and emotionally together. They learn about one another and learn about their Creator through their relationship. It can also be very challenging experience which both husband and wife can be tested severely with outside forces or internal forces in the form of weaknesses in both the husband and wife. What binds the husband and wife together is their sacred trust and commitment to one another and their duty to Allah.

As we mentioned before, there are several internal and external forces that seek to destroy marriages. We need to look at the institution of marriage like a fort. You and your spouse (or future spouse) are the guards and must ensure that no external forces breach your fort and cause chaos and destruction. At the same time, you need to ensure that you and your spouse (or future spouse) are working on your internal weaknesses and strive to become strong and build trust, caring, love, understanding, communication and mercy between one another. There are several doors of your fort that fitnah and challenges can enter through so it’s important to remain vigilant and also guard those doors jealously when it comes to your marriage. Our definition of jealousy can often be negative, but there is healthy jealousy in marriages when it comes to protecting the honor and dignity of your spouse and your marriage. Mutually agreed rules, regulations and modes of conduct must be agreed upon by you and your spouse to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and fitnah in the marriage.

Privacy, Facebook and Marriage

 FB Marriage 2

With that said, we come to the main point of this: privacy in marriage. Just as we used the analogy of the fort and several doors being entry points, privacy is one of those doors. There are several ways to destroy a marriage and removing the hijab of privacy from your marriage can destroy trust between spouses. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) elaborated on maintaining the privacy of a marriage:

“On the authority of Asmaa’ bint Yazid who narrated “that she was once in the presence of the Prophet and there were both men and women sitting. The Prophet then said:  “Perhaps a man might discuss what he does with his wife, or perhaps a woman might inform someone what she did with her husband?” The people were silent. Then I said: “O, Yes! O Messenger of Allah verily both the women and men do that.” Then the Prophet said: “Do not do that. It is like a male Satan who meets a female Satan along the way, and has sex with her while the people look on! “

[Reported by Ahmad]

Yes, marriage can be a very joyous occasion and merits celebration. However, when it comes to a point where your married life is starting to be lived on Facebook or other social media it becomes problematic. Several young couples (or even “veteran” couples) post various pictures, statuses, etc. about intimate events, moments or quotes of them or their spouse. When you share intimate moments freely and openly online or with anyone for that matter, it cheapens the value of it. As we mentioned before, marriage is a sacred trust and one of the most intimate relationships you have with another being. Thus, the love, mercy, compassion and feelings you have for one another should be considered a sacred trust. Facebook and other forms of social media you may be connected to on it who neither care about your marriage or may harbor ill-will, may backbite about you and your spouse, use that information against you in a vile way, or may be jealous and overall may hate you without you knowing it.

Imagine if we were to live our lives in real life as we communicated on Facebook. Would we literally go up to everyone we see on the street and tell them about what we had for breakfast with our spouse, what vacation you went on with your spouse, how cute/handsome/beautiful your spouse looked, etc.? The obvious answer to that is no. We would not. We value our relationship with our spouse too much to go tell strangers. When you do expose too much information about yourself and your spouse that is intimate it’s basically like opening every door to your house and letting complete strangers into your house and telling them everything that goes on in your house.

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t share our happiness or joy with others, but do so with discretion.

It’s funny, when we complain about the government spying on us or invading our privacy, yet when we put private lives out on the internet for all to see it isn’t a problem. Whenever we post something on the internet or any social media platform we need to make sure we are not exposing too much of ourselves to people who don’t care or don’t matter to us. Share your intimate moments with people who genuinely care for you and appreciate your comments, thoughts and ideas—not with a random social media network of thousands of people. You want to protect your fort from invaders who may spread rumors or seek to undermine your marriage in other ways.

Now, we mentioned the good stuff people share, but what about the bad stuff? When/if we have marital problems we shouldn’t share them with strangers period. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek the advice of counselors or trained therapists, but don’t go expose your problems with your spouse or their weaknesses to the world. As the Quran says, you are a garment for them and they are a garment for you, thus, you need to cover their problems and shortcomings just as you would expect them to. If you are going through marital problems and you do post them on Facebook or any other social media you may be causing more problems than solving them. When you use Facebook as your counseling tool you’ll realize it’s really not that effective and 99.99% of the time won’t solve your marital problem.

 

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard.

[Al-Nisa: 34]

The above verse addresses women, but also pretty much should be the same mode of thinking for men as well. Protect your spouse’s honor, dignity and character. There will be several shaytaans in the form of “friends” who may drop a rumor or make a comment to character assassinate your spouse. You must know and trust your spouse enough to defend their character, honor and dignity in public. Also, exposing your marital problems essentially opens the door to your house to complete strangers and allows them to literally know what’s happening in every inch of your house. That is the ultimate breach of privacy and allows for more invaders to come and destroy your fortress of marriage.

There have been several instances of how Facebook has broken marriages and caused divorces, so why expose yourself and your spouse to so much scrutiny and unneeded attention. If you value something or someone you should protect them and not put them unnecessarily in harm’s way and allow them to potentially become targets of jealousy and evil-eye.

Think Twice

FB Marriage 3

Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for good and education, however, as with any technology they can have terrible consqeuences. As much as social media has made us more connected it has the ability to make us more narcissistic, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. It also has the ability to make us waste a lot of time which many of us agree 🙂

  With that said, we must be careful about what we post on Facebook and social media in general, but also when it comes to information about our spouse or married life and make sure that what post or say be misconstrued, misinterpreted or used against us. We need to ask ourselves: is this information I am posting up too intimate? Is it private? Can the information or post or comment I put up be misconstrued or misinterpreted? Who is this being shared with? Am I sharing this information with people who genuinely care?

What we post and what we post about can also become the object of gossip and backbiting. Why put someone you love in that position to be exposed to such filth?

“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Qur’an 50:18)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”  ( Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #485)

All in all, we need to think twice about what we post, what we post about and be more protective of our character, honor, dignity and the honor, dignity and character of our loved ones and our spouse (or future spouse).

We need to stop being so concerned with our virtual connections and stop having Facebook Marriage lives and begin having more intimate in-person relationships with our spouse and Allah.