Travelers on the Path of Knowledge

Knowledge is an ocean and a few drops just aren’t enough. -Unknown

Levels by the moments. July 31, 2006

Filed under: Islam,Reflections — Lena @ 2:35 am

Ok, so since a lot of things don’t seem worthy of writing about now; and there are a lot of things my heart can’t bear reading, let alone writing, about, I felt I should share a story I heard from a halaqah (a religious circle) I attend.

At the time of the Prophet (sala Allahu ‘alayhi wa salaam), the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would send out armies of men for conquests, thereby spreading Islam. One of these conquests/campaigns is known as the Campaign of Mu’tah; sparked by the murder of one of the Prophet’s* messengers.

When in battle, the Muslim army would look to the Prophet’s* banner as a sign that they should continue and it stood as a constant reminder of what they were fighting for. The Prophet* knew the importance of the banner and had assigned Zaid bin Haritha to carrying it, and in the case of Zaid’s (radi Allahu anhu) fall, Ja’far bin Abi Talib would take over, and then Abdullah bin Rawaha was assigned as the third person. Unfortunately, the opposing armies were also aware of the banner’s importance and aimed for the man waving the flag.

Allah (subhana wa ta’alaa) granted the Prophet Muhammad* with visions so that he would be able to see the battle. The Prophet* sat with his Companions (ra) around him reporting each moment to them, live.

Zaid bin Haritha marches onto the field; the enemies attack him; and he (ra) is martyred; Allahu Akbar, the Prophet* sees Zaid in Jannah.

Ja’far bin Abi Talib immediately lifts the flag; the enemies cut off his right arm; so he puts the flag in his left; they cut off his left; so he attempts to carry any other way he can; the enemies murder him; Allahu Akbar, the Prophet* sees him in Jannah.

Then Abdullah bin Rawaha, encouraging himself with verses, lifts the banner of the Messenger of Allah*; the enemies attack him; Allah Akbar, Abdullah is a martyr and the Prophet* sees him in Jannah.

Now, the Prophet* speaks to his Companions of these three men in Jannah. He* says he sees Zaid bin Haritha at a level in Jannah; and he sees Ja’far bin Abi Talib at the same level, but instead of human arms, he (ra) has wings in their place, and has come to be known as Ja’far at-Ta’yar (Ja’far the one who flies). Both Zaid and Ja’far being Companions from Mecca, the Companions of Medina gather closer around the Prophet* to hear of their own Abdullah bin Rawaha, who was from Medina. The Prophet* sees Abdullah bin Rawaha in Jannah, but at a level lower than the others.

Why one man lower than the rest? Did he not die as a martyr holding the banner of Islam?

The Prophet* described it as simply as a hesitation of a moment (a fraction of a second). Before Abdullah (ra) lifted that banner he hesitated for not even a split second. After being moved by the verses he read:

“0 Soul, I have sworn that you will fight in battle deliberately, or that I shall force you to fight. When people assemble and shout the war cry, why do you not advance with them? Or do you hate to enter Paradise?”

he then could lift the flag.

So we wonder…if a man as pious as Abdullah bin Rawahah (ra), a man who died truly fisabilillah, a man who took up a task that he knew would result in his demise, was taken down a level in Jannah because of this moment of hesitation; how much do all of our hesitations and moments add up to? How can we continue to let time pass us by…we don’t know when our time in this dunya is up…and we can’t keep hesitating.

“If you do not act today and do not derive lessons from your past days, you will say on the Last Day: ‘Return us to our previous life and we will do good deeds,’ and it will be said to you: ‘O fool, it is from there that you have come.'” (Imam Al-Ghazali)

Campaign of Mu’tah

 

July 29, 2006

Filed under: Islam,Reflections — musaafir @ 7:56 pm

Giving Good Counsel to Fellow Muslims:

by Imam al-Haddad
Condensed from The Book of Assistance

You must be of good counsel to all Muslims. The highest point of this is that you conceal nothing from them which if made known would result in good or preserve from something evil. The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said, “Religion is good counsel” Part of this is to support a Muslim in his absence as you would in his presence, and not to give him more verbal signs of affection than you have for him in your heart. It is also part of this that when a muslim asks you for advice, and you know that the correct course does not lie in that which he is inclined to do, you should tell him so.

The absence of good counsel is indicated by the presence of envy of the favors God has given other Muslims. The origin of such envy is that you find it intolerable that God has granted one of His servants a good thing whether of the religion, or of the world. The utmost limit is to wish that he be deprived of it. It has been handed down that “envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes dry wood”. The envious man is objecting to God’s management of His dominion, as if to say “O Lord! You have put your favours where they do not belong.”

It is permitted to be envious without rancour whereby when you see a favor being bestowed on one of His servants, you ask Him to grant you the like.

When someone praises you, you must feel dislike for his praises within your heart. If he has praised you for something you truly possess, say: “praise belongs to God who has revealed the good things and hidden the ugly things.” And if he praises you for something you do not possess, say “O God! Do not call me to account for what they say, forgive me what they do not know, and make me better than they think.”

In your case, do not praise anyone unneccesarily.

When you wish to give advice to someone regarding any behaviour of his that you have come to know about, be gentle, talk to him in private and do not express explicitly what may be conveyed implicitly. Should he ask you to tell him who told you that which you know, do not tell him lest it stir up enmity. If he accepts your advice, praise God, and thank Him. If he should refuse, blame yourself.

If you are given something as a trust guard it better than if it was yours. Return that which was entrusted to you, and beware of betraying trust. The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“He who cannot keep a trust has no faith” and “Three things are attached to the Throne of God: Benefaction which says “O God! I am by you, therefore let me not be denied!” Kinship, which says “O God! I am by you, thus let me not be severed!” and Trust, which says “O God! I am by you, so let me not be betrayed!”.

Speak truthfully and honor commitments and your promises, for breaching them are signs of hypocrisy.

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, and when he is trusted, he betrays that trust.”

Beware of arguments and wrangling, for they cast rancour into the breasts of men, alienate hearts and lead to enmity and hatred. If anyone argues against you and has right on his side, accept what he says for truth must always be followed. If on the other hand he is wrong, leave him, for he is ignorant, and God has said

“And turn away from the ignorant.” [vii :199]

Renounce all joking, if very occasionally you do joke to assuage a Muslim’s heart, then speak only the truth. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

“Neither argue with your brother nor quarrel, and do not make him a promise and then break it.”

Respect all Muslims, especially those deserving of merit, such as the scholars, the righteous, the elderly.

Never frighten or alarm a Muslim, never mock or ridicule them, or despise them.

Be humble for humility is the attribute of believers. Beware of pride for God does not like the proud. Those who humble themselves are raised up by God, and those who are proud are abased by Him.

There are signs that distinguish the humble from the proud:

“that God may separate the vile from the good” [VIII:37].

Signs of humility include a liking for obscurity, dislike of fame, acceptance of truth whether it be from a lowly or noble person, to love the poor, associate with them, to fulfill the rights people have upon you as completely as you can, thank those who fulfill their duties to you, and excuse those who are remiss. Signs of pride include a liking for positions of most dignity when in company, praising oneself, speaking proudly, open haughtiness, arrogance, strutting, and neglecting the rights of others upon you while demanding your rights from them.

 

Filed under: Islam,Random,Reflections — musaafir @ 5:51 pm

“Allah does not change a people’s lot unless they change what is in their hearts(or translated as until they change their condition).” – Qur’an 13:11

So let us purify our hearts and change our condition. These trials and tribulations are a sign from Allah. A sign upon which we must reflect. We must check our intentions, concentrate on prayer, be cognizant of Allah in everything we do.

 

July 13, 2006

Filed under: News,Reflections — Lena @ 3:39 pm

At times, living in this country makes it so easy to forget the realities of this world. Halfway across the globe countries are terrorizing each other on this facade of defending themselves, but it all comes down to their fear of each other due to their differences.

Two rockets hit the Israeli city of Haifa. Israel bombed Beirut International Airport destroying all the runways. Where is the US in all this? Well, the only thing the President and the US Administration could say: Israel has the right to defend itself. And the only step the US will be willing to take is extracting any American citizens in Lebanon. (Source: BBC and CNN) Which I have to be happy with, because I would be more than concerned that the US would end up supporting the Israeli state more and then killing more innocent civilians in Lebanon and Palestine, and more than likely, in Syria.

So thousands have to die for the sake of three Israeli soldiers (one in Palestine, two in Lebanon)? The world’s supposed “sixth nuclear power” against a horribly oppressed and weak state, a region not even considered to be a country. I am not at all putting the blame on one state, but Israel being a rising world power, backed by the single most powerful country in the world, needs to know when to stop. I am just confused as to why only Hezbollah and Hamas are seen as the terrorists.

So as we live in the safety of our homes here, Alhamdoulillah, can we please remember to keep all these people in our dua’s…those on both sides (for protection and guidance).

My aunt and cousins live in Lebanon…please remember them in your dua’s, insha’Allah.

May Allah have mercy on us and protect us from the horrors of this world and protect the Muslimeen in the midst of the conflict and guide us all. Ameen.

 

The Future of Western-Islamic Relations July 9, 2006

Filed under: Islam,News,Random,Reflections,Saving the World — musaafir @ 3:07 pm

I went to a conference in the city this past Saturday. I went on behalf of a club on campus and my job. Its main focus was on the Future of Western-Islamic Relations. Are we on the right path? What part does media play into this? Etcetera, etcetera.
I must say it was very interesting. I remember knowing I’d have so much to tell people and to say, but now I don’t know what to tell you. The future is in our hands. That’s the message I got.

We have to stop politicizing events and acting upon our whims. We need to speak out against wrongs even if our own people are committing those wrongs. We need to stop being naive. We can’t ever think our efforts are enough. They’re not. We can always push harder, always strive for more.

So when that person yells “jihad” at you or tells you to go back to your country. Smile. Greet someone else’s ignorance with tolerance. Show them they were wrong by not allowing yourself to become angry. People desire a response. Give them one–let it be positive. When you are rude to someone, apologize. If for one moment you are deluded into the illusion that you are better than someone else, stop. Your ignorance of your faults is your greatest ignorance.

Yes, I took notes. But the nitty-gritty isn’t so important. One of the speakrs at the conference said that before we classify ourselves into these global terms like the ‘Western world’ and the ‘Islamic world’ (which by the way, many speakers agreed were misnomers and were used for lack of a better term), we are human. The unity we desire is independent of our differences. We can’t typify a people, we need to reach out and embrace our differences and learn to overcome these classifications. What the rest of the world does, inevitably affects us. In some way or another, it does. We can’t employ the isolationist policies of our prior history. This world is increasingly becoming interdependent.

A Gallup survey was done that asked Americans what they admired about their Muslim neighbors. 33% said nothing. 23% said “I don’t know.” That is a disgrace.

The problem is two-fold.

One, there is a lack of education and understanding. People see what they want to see. They will read the news they want to and not search for other sources. They will listen to what their teachers tell them without question(a teacher of mine told me Shia Muslims believe terrorism is sanctioned by their God- what garbage. Regardless of how people feel about Shia Muslims, their God is my God. He does not promote terrorism).

Second, Muslims aren’t putting the truth out there enough. This is in part due to media, since controversy sells and news is sensationalized. But there needs to be a stronger voice. Muslims aren’t terrorists. Muslims aren’t backward (funny thing, Muslims were the one who preserved the science that “Westerners” are so fond of. If they hadn’t we wouldn’t have the technology we do now). Muslim women aren’t oppressed (The media told the story of Mokhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who was raped, insinuating that when she spoke out about her rape she was going against cultural norms. Like women who are raped were supposed to sit at home and do nothing about it. The reality of the situation which was covered by much less media was that the Imam of her masjid protected her. He is the one who brought the media to present her case. He is the one who helped her. Islamic society is not misogynistic). Muslims do not “hate freedom.” Contrary to what President Bush likes to say, no person in their right mind hates freedom. And if you look at what bin Laden said is his famous fatwa to declare war against the West, not once does he state anything about hating Western freedoms. Warped as his ideology is, he talks about the West as imperialists and as an occupying state. He never says “Let’s bomb them because they’re free!”

We need to speak out. And though I do believe Muslims do need to be more proactive, I believe all of us should take greater responsibility in the world. We can sit here and blog and talk all we want, but what are we doing to actively change the future? Peace doesn’t come by sitting around idly. Understanding doesn’t come by wanting others to understand you when you are not willing to understand them.

Are we going to be the generation that did nothing? The generation that sat around waiting for change to happen? We have the resources, we have the intellect. We have the power. We have the drive. We can do as we wish. We can actively pursue a better world or we can pretend like we did. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you have an opinion about an issue,  you have accomplished something. Words without action are meaningless. Get up and do something.

Hoping for a better future,

Munzareen

 

Five Lessons

Filed under: Random,Reflections,Saving the World — musaafir @ 2:07 pm

An email I got:

1 – First Important Lesson – Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2 – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s.. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..

It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away… God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 – Third Important Lesson – Always remember those who serve

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

“I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 – Fourth Important Lesson. – The Obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who remove d the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Fifth Important Lesson – Giving When it Counts

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

 

Hardships and Prejudices. July 8, 2006

Filed under: Islam,Random,Reflections — Lena @ 1:32 am

I would like to start by saying that I absolutely love New York City. Nothing like it, subhan’Allah, the people, the cultures, all the life…especially on Broadway at about 11:30 pm when all the shows just let out. And I have to say, it always makes out for some interesting stories:

-So, we stopped at the nearby masjid to pray ‘Asr (afternoon prayer). And in the bathroom, after just making wudu (ablution), this sister started talking to me. She keeps coming to this masjid in hopes of finding a shaykh or imam to speak to for some financial help. The woman, now divorced, is stranded and in great financial need, and nonetheless 7 ½ months pregnant! Feeling at such a loss, she was simply trying to find someone to reach out to. She can’t manage to find some financial assistance—a basic right of hers from any masjid she seeks help from. It just makes me think of what we were discussing in one of the halaqat I go to—What are we doing for the Muslims? We should be able to build a better system that will be able to reach out to those who need our help. To have a pregnant woman in tears in front of you; La Hawla Wala Quwwata Illa Billah.

Verily, Allah is with the patient.

-Later that night, my sisters and I were standing on a street corner waiting for my dad. And being 3 hijabis (Alhamdoulillah :-)) it is obvious we are Muslims. So this Asian man passes us and says “Jihad.” I just turn and give him this dirty look and my sister smiles at him…her mentality is why show that they annoyed you, smile and show that their stupid remarks won’t bother you. I just kind of automatically reacted. Now, next time, do I give the same dirty look, smile, or just say something (although saying something wasn’t really an option if you have ever seen Broadway at night)…any input?…I haven’t seemed to exactly figured this one out, considering this isn’t the first time it’s happened, but I think it just shocks me every time so I’m never prepared.

Oh, and the only reason I mentioned him as being Asian was because the incident reminded me of something I thought while watching Crash the other day. You would think that being a minority in a country would only cause you to be more compassionate and less judgmental of other minorities (or other ethnicities or religions) in that country or throughout the world. But I feel as if it only engrains these prejudiced ideas more. “Why not pick on the Muslims?…their numbers don’t seem to be that great and they’re a pretty easy target…and all my life I’ve heard people making comments about me, nice to get to make comments to someone.”

I just want to know what pleasure and satisfaction did that man get after making that comment.

Lesson of the Day:

The world needs a whole lot more compassion. May Allah guide us.
(Sorry for the incoherence and length.)