Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bismillah Walhamdulillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam 'ala Rasulillah

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The Secret

One day, one friend asked another, "How is it that you are always so happy? You have so much energy, and you never seem to get down

With her eyes smiling, she said, "I know the Secret!" "What secret is that?" To which she replied, "I'll tell you all about it, but you have to promise to share the Secret with others."
The Secret is this:

I have learned there is little I can do in my life that will make me truly happy. I must depend on ALLAH (SWT) to make

me happy and to meet my needs. When a need arises in my life, I have to trust

ALLAH (SWT) to supply according to HIS riches. I have learned most of the time I don't need half of what I think I do. He has never let me down. Since I learned that 'Secret', I am happy."

In everything you do, put

Allah (SWT) first, and he will direct you and crown your effort with success

The questioner's first thought was, "That's too simple!" But upon reflecting over her own life she recalled how she thought a bigger house would make her happy, but it didn't! She thought a better paying job would make her happy, but it hadn't. When did she realize her greatest happiness? Sitting on the floor with her children, playing games, eating pizza or reading a story, a simple gift from


In everything you do, put

Allah (SWT) first, and he will direct you and crown your effort with success.

Now you know it too! We can't depend on people to make us happy. Only

ALLAH (SWT) in His infinite wisdom can do that. Trust in HIM! And now I pass the Secret on to you! So once you get it, what will you do?

YOU have to tell someone the Secret, too! That ALLAH (SWT) in His wisdom will take care of YOU! But it's not really a secret... We just have to believe it and do it... Really trust ALLAH (SWT) !

In everything you do, put Allah (SWT) first, and he will direct you and crown your effort with success.

Muslim girls have eating disorders too

Muslim girls have eating disorders too

The article hereunder was submitted by a sister who requested its publication for the benefit of the Muslim community.

When I was put to the task of writing an article related to counseling, I wracked my mind for an idea. What could I write, after possibly, a five year academic hiatus? I trawled articles, blogs and websites on the internet for inspiration. And then a thought: why not write an article on a problem that has plagued me for most of my teenage and young adult years. A problem that was, undoubtedly, a deciding factor in choosing my undergraduate field of study in psychology. Eating Disorders.

I did not want this article to be a regurgitating hash of psychological terms and textbook-style definitions. Open any book, magazine article or website on Eating Disorders and you will read this. Nor did I want this article to be about Mary* (pseudonym for a person that probably does not even exist) and how Mary manages to overcome her obsession with food. I wanted to share with you my story. The story of a Muslim woman whom struggled for many years with a mental illness that is commonly thought of as a disease of the west. 

Almost everyone has a love of food. Our gatherings and celebrations are often centered on mouth-watering, delicious dishes and calorific, sugar-laden desserts. Food has a universal appeal. It transcends religions and cultures. Nevertheless just about every person has said, at least once, that they need “to go on a diet.” For some people, however, this goes far beyond simply choosing a low-fat or non-fat version of a foodstuff in a bid to be healthier. It becomes a serious and life-threatening reality. An anxiety that consumes every second of their waking lives.

I know this obsession by its first-name. It was an unwelcome guest for a countless many breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I struggled day after day; often feeling like a war was being waged on my body and in my mind. And I felt very alone. A Muslim girl suffering from an eating disorder? Unheard of. There were definitely others like me, but we were blanketed by the disapproval of a society that assumes these are the problems of the “white girls.”
It was only after researching social network sites and the internet that I realized; Eating Disorders are prevalent amongst Muslim females and in certain cases, Muslim males. It is a growing phenomenon and is often overlooked. Do we presume that because a woman wears a hijab, she is immune to media and social pressures that dictate a certain standard of beauty? A Muslim woman may be the embodiment of modesty and reserve, but she is still just a woman. I am not sheltered in a cocoon, blissfully unaffected by a measure that values the lithe and slender.

I particularly remember an incident when I was in the awkward phase of puberty- a time of teenage angst and melodrama, and whilst visiting some family members, an old lady said to my mother, “she could be pretty if she lost some weight.” 

This comment, although it was probably well-meaning, was very damaging to my emerging self-esteem and it became the twisted motivation I used to starve myself.

Fast-forward a few years and I beat my body into submission. I became an emaciated version of my former self. At the peak of my struggle with my eating disorder, I felt at the lowest ebb of my Iman. The blessed month of Ramadaan became my enabler and often times I questioned myself, “was I fasting for myself or for Allah.” An eating disorder is a debilitating disease and it encumbers you from doing what you really want to do. Your spirituality is put to the test.

On the contrary, I finally received approval from the marriage police. You know the sort- those well connected aunties who rate you based on a number of factors: complexion, eye-colour, body size and social class. If you were fair, green-eyed, slim and from a good family, then you rated extremely high on the potential bride scale. You would hardly, if ever, hear about the girl that was an excellent match for so-and-so because of her good character. These are the unspoken rules of our society. A society that frowns upon anything remotely westernized yet uses these same shallow principals when discussing young Muslim women as prospective brides-to-be.

Therefore, we should not only blame the western objectification of women’s bodies, fashion and clothing. We are far too quick to lay fault on modern ideals. “These young girls are obsessed by movie stars,” is often our repetitive complaint. Perhaps we need to rethink the discourses of our own culture.

Through the immeasurable mercy of the Almighty, this story has a happy ending. I have thankfully, managed to overcome my eating disorder and my obsession with being a size zero. It is important to seek the help of a professional counselor or psychologist to defeat this mental illness. I also firmly believe in the power of supplication and in earnestly asking our Creator for help and forgiveness to supplement ones treatment. 

“There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He has also created its treatment.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is my sincere wish that this article will help, inspire and encourage others. After reading this, I hope they realize that they are not alone in their struggles. Muslim girls have eating disorders too.

The Play Dough

The Play Dough

She stared at the play dough in her hands. The different colours reminded her of the rainbow that her father had shown her just the day before. She was only four years old and doctors had given up hope of her motor-skills ever returning to her since that ghastly accident two years ago. Pushing the curls away from her eyes, she miraculously began pulling at it: twisting, rolling and shaping it into the house ... the house that she would always tell her father about whilst sitting on his lap and swinging in their sun-filled veranda. He would always twirl her baby-soft hair around his fingers and say:
“Darling, the happiest day of my life will be when you build me a house with your play dough.”
That evening, a plastic toy box lid lay on the doorway holding a house whose blue roof was ready to cave in, whose red walls were set in a shape other than a square, whose green door leaning on the wall appeared more like a warrior’s shield than a door. She waited in the guest room hiding behind the curtain until she heard the car pull into the driveway. The door banged, the alarm clicked and the sounds of footsteps crunching the gravel pounded her ears as he jingled his keys in his pocket to open the door.
Ah! It was a sight sweeter than the sweetest honey, more fragrant than the richest perfume, the dawning of a new era in the future of his baby, a sight that pieced together his shattered hopes, a sign that her neuro-motor-skills were slowly returning to her.
He shouted out for her. She stood behind the curtain grinning from ear to ear unable to contain her laughter, her pink shoes with their white bows peeping out from beneath. She let out a small giggle, then a bigger one until she burst out laughing. He rushed into the room and cried ‘I caught you!’ She ran out from the curtain into his strong arms which lofted her to the ceiling, spinning her around. He hugged her and tears of joy streamed down his cheeks and soaked his beard.
What joy and excitement! What happiness and elation! What delight!
All because of the SOFT dough!!!
Had the dough not been soft and pliable the house would never have been built and the return of her skills never proven. If the dough was hard and tough, her father may have never seen this joyous day. The pleasures of life lie in being soft and submissive, in being meek and obedient.
A cake can only be baked if the egg eventually cracks, the egg white allows itself to be whipped, the sugar granules slowly dissolve, the flour allows itself to mix and the chocolate eventually melts ... A car can only be built if the steel eventually softens and becomes a panel, the rubber allows itself to be moulded into a tyre, the petrol eventually burns to provide energy and the parts allow themselves to be restricted and bolted to one place ... and the list goes on and on.
Analyse the list of words in these examples: soft, pliable, crack, whipped, dissolve, melt, soften, mould, burn, restricted and bolted. Every single one of them indicates toward the meek nature and submissive character of the dough, the cake and the car. The pleasures and enjoyment of this world are the same. They could have only come about when someone or something was submissive.
Attaining the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala is the very same. It requires total commitment, loyalty and submission to the commands of Allah Ta‘ala and the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). It calls upon us to be soft and pliable, to be cracked and whipped, to dissolve, melt and soften, to burn, to be moulded, to be restricted and to be bolted. It demands that we be totally meek and submissive to his laws without any hesitation or reluctance.
This was the hallmark in the life of Sayyidah Haajar (‘alaihas salaam). When Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) brought Sayyidah Haajar (‘alaihas salaam) to the barren land of Makkah Mukarramah, she was, bluntly speaking, staring at her destruction. Such a land stretched out before her eyes, where there was no soul to be seen or even heard, where nothing edible grew ... a land that outwardly promised no future. She was, however, fully aware of the fact that this was the command of Allah Ta‘ala brought to her by the Nabi of Allah Ta‘ala. The command of Allah Ta‘ala and the way of His messenger as a rule is never beyond a person’s ability. All it requires is a bit of courage in the beginning. Then the road opens up. 
The response of Sayyidah Haajar (‘alaihas salaam) to this command of Allah Ta‘ala is worthy of being written in gold and etched onto the heart of every Believer. Her words echoed the very mindset that made her a celebrated member of a family chosen by Allah Ta‘ala. She said:
“How will Allah Ta‘ala ever destroy us when we submit wholeheartedly to His decree? I am happy with the command of Allah Ta‘ala.”
“It does not befit a believing man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (‘alaihis salaam), to have any option about their decision.” (Surah Ahzaab v 36)

Put the Horse Before the Cart

Submission entails that a person follows deen objectively. At every moment one should be maintaining the purity of the shareeah, without looking for any short-cuts or guise. Rephrasing the words, re-interpreting the meaning and altering the context of deen to suit our convenience would be equal and akin to putting the cart before the horse. 

The journey of Islam would never start in that event.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Masjid al-Aqsa in Islamic History

Masjid al-Aqsa in Islamic History

Masjid al-Aqsa has a rich history. It is intimately linked with Prophetic history, not of one but numerous prophets. It was first built by the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) years after he built the Ka‘aba with his first son Ishmael (pbuh). Muslims have always been its true custodians despite illegal Zionist encroachments.


Glorified by He [God] who transported His servant [Muhammad (pbuh)] by night from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa whose surroundings He has blessed, so that We may show him of Our [God’s] signs… (Al-Qur’an: 17:01).


Masjid al-Aqsa holds immense significance in Islamic religious tradition as well as history. It is known as the first qibla of Muslims—the direction toward which Muslims face to offer their salat (prayer) —as well as the third holiest site in Islam. It is built on the site where the noble Messenger (pbuh) led all the earlier Prophets in prayer when he was transported by night from Masjid al-Haram (in Makkah) before his miraj (ascension to Heaven) to the point referred to in the Qur’an as Sidrat al-Muntaha (53:10-16).


In contemporary history, it has become a contested place because the Zionists claim it is built on the site where their first and second temples originally existed. A great deal of myth is interwoven into this narrative despite the fact that the temple was destroyed repeatedly by invading forces. The Babylonian king Bakhtnasr (Nebuchadnezzer) attacked Jerusalem in 587 BC and destroyed the temple (Beyetel). The Israelites were enslaved and suffered greatly for more than 70 years.


There were several phases of rebuilding and destruction of the temple the last being the Romans’ destruction of it in 70 CE. No trace of the temple has ever existed. While the some hard-core Zionists are currently trying to encroach on the Haram al-Sharif (the noble Sanctuary) and are even demanding the right to worship there, Rabbinical law prohibits Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount for fear of desecrating the “holy of Holies” in Jewish religious tradition. There is in fact a board erected near the Haram al-Sharif that houses both the Masjid al-Aqsa as well as Dome of the Rock and numerous madrassas (religious schools) and other smaller structures, prohibiting Jewish trespassing of the Haram al-Sharif.


Let us first consider who built Masjid al-Aqsa: was it the father-and-son Prophets Dawud (David pbuh)and Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon pbuh), as claimed by the Zionists, or built even earlier? We know from the Qur’an (2:127-128) that the father and son Prophets, Ibrahim and Ishmael (pbuh) built the Ka‘aba in conformity with the command of God. The Ka‘aba in Makkah is the first House of worship for God on earth. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had settled his first son Ishmael (pbuh) and his mother, Hajar (pbuh) there, again according to the command of God.


Prophet Abraham (pbuh), however, did not live in Makkah; he lived in Palestine in the place that takes its name from him: al-Khalil (Hebron). Is it conceivable that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) would build a place of worship in Makkah but not have a place of worship in Jerusalem that is right next to Hebron? As the Patriarch of all the Prophets of God, Abraham (pbuh) also built a place of worship in Jerusalem. This came to be known as Beteyel (meaning the House of God in Hebrew).


When Ibrahim’s (pbuh) second son Is’haq (Isaac) was born and grew up in Hebron, he would go to worship in Beteyel. Interestingly, Is’haq (pbuh) who was also a noble Prophet of God, also prayed in the Ka‘aba in Makkah and performed the Hajj pilgrimage there together with his father (Abraham (pbuh) and brother (Ishmael (pbuh), again according to the commands of God. It was Abraham (pbuh) that named Beteyel as Masjid al-Aqsa—the farthest mosque—in deference to the Ka ‘aba, from which it was located far away to the northwest.


Yaqub (pbuh), known in the Bible as Jacob who was the son of Is’haq (pbuh), was also a noble Prophet who opened Beteyel as a place of worship for all those that accepted the One true God, God. Naturally in the land of Palestine many other tribes resided. The land takes its name from the Philistines, the people that lived there. Among the other tribes were the Moabites and Hittites. The latter tribe was the one to which the mother of Solomon belonged. It needs recalling that Abraham (pbuh) was born in Ur (present-day Iraq) and was forced into exile because of the oppression and persecution he faced at the hands of the tyrant Nimrood. After a long journey, Abraham (pbuh) finally settled in al-Khalil (Palestine).


Prophetic history takes many turns and it is no different with the Prophets from the lineage of Abraham (pbuh). Prophet Joseph (pbuh) [Joseph] was greatly loved by his father Yaqub (pbuh). This created huge jealousy among his step-brothers who plotted to kill him but finally decided to thrown him a well.


He was rescued from the well and sold into slavery ending in Egypt where the ruler employed him. The ruler’s wife had a crush on him because Joseph (pbuh) was a very handsome young man but God protected him from committing sin and despite being innocent, he ended up in prison where he spent many years. When he was finally released, the king appointed him to the important post of the kingdom’s treasury and he became the de facto ruler of Egypt. The story of Joseph (pbuh) is narrated in exquisite detail in the noble Qur’an in the surah by the same name (Surah Yusuf).


Once Joseph (pbuh) had attained power in Egypt, he invited his family—father, mothers and brothers—to live with him in Egypt. They readily accepted the offer as narrated in the chapter on Genesis 46 in the Torah. No one from Yaqub’s (pbuh) family was left to take care of Beteyel/Masjid al-Aqsa. Thus, he gave charge of the masjid to the local inhabitants, the Palestinians. The children of Yaqub (pbuh), referred to as Bani Israel in the noble Qur’an lived in Egypt for more than 400 years. There was never a hint that they should return to Palestine to reclaim ownership/custodianship of Masjid al-Aqsa.


Many generations later, the Bani Israel were taken as slaves by the pharaohs and it was not until God raised Moses (pbuh) [Moses] among them that he led them out of slavery and across the Red Sea into the Sinai Peninsula. When God ordered them to enter Palestine, they refused, incurring God’s wrath to wander in the desert for 40 years. During this time, Moses (pbuh) died and God raised another Prophet, David (pbuh) who was a soldier in the army of Saul. Because of his courage, David (pbuh) was made king and entered Palestine to establish his kingdom there.


It was Solomon who rebuilt the temple (Masjid al-Aqsa) with the support and help of the indigenous people, principally the Palestinians. The father-son rule, however, lasted a total of 73 years. Thereafter, his sons divided the kingdom and power once again slipped from their hands. A chain of Prophets emerged among their progeny but the Bani Israel (Children of Israel) were always argumentative and refused to abide by the teachings of the Prophets. The Qur’an narrates that they killed many of their prophets among them Zakariya (pbuh) as well as his son Yahya – John the Baptist (pbuh).


As mentioned earlier, the Babylonian king Bakhtnasr (Nebuchadnezzer) laid siege to Jerusalem and took over the city and Palestine in 587 BC. He destroyed the temple/Masjid al-Aqsa and enslaved all the people. This story is narrated in detail in the Bible in Kings 2 Chapters 24 and 25. The Torah also says that the Israelites were enslaved in both the Nile (Egypt) and in the Euphrates (by the Babylonians).


The Persian King Cyrus the Great rescued the Bani Israel after seventy years of slavery in Babylon. He also permitted them to return to Palestine from where the Babylonians had driven them out. The Persian Empire faced a rival in the Roman Empire and constant battles occurred between them. In the year 70 CE, the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the temple one more time. Barely 65 years later in what is referred to as the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Romans massacred the Bani Israel (Children of Israel) and even dug out the foundations of the temple in the year 135 CE. By now, the Romans had accepted Christianity as their religion and their enmity toward the Jews intensified as killers of Prophet Isa (Jesus - pbuh).


The Romans, however, faced a constant threat from the Persians and in the year 614 CE, the latter took control of Jerusalem from the Romans. In Makkah where the noble Messenger (pbuh) had started his mission of propagating Islam, the polytheists made fun of Muslims because the fire-worshipping Zoroastrians had vanquished the Christian Romans. The Qur’an narrates this in the opening verses of Surah al-Rum in which God says that not only the Romans but Muslims too would be victorious within a period of less than 10 years.


Given the plight of Muslims at the time—their numbers were small and they faced great persecution—the Makkah polytheist made great fun of the Qur’anic verses but God’s Word came true—as it was bound to—within the stipulated timeframe and not only the Romans defeated their Persian rivals but the Muslims also triumphed over their Makkah foes in the Battle of Badr.


It is also pertinent to note that when Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madinah, for the first 17 months, they faced toward Masjid al-Aqsa in their prayer. It was during dhuhr salat (the mid-day prayer) in the second year of the hijrah that God’s revelation about the change of qibla (direction of prayer) from Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to Masjid al-Haram in Makkah came. This is narrated in the Quran (2:142-43). The mosque in Madinah where the Prophet (pbuh) was leading the Muslims in salat is today called Masjid Qiblatain (Masjid of the two qiblas).


Jerusalem, however, came into Muslim possession only during the Khilafah of Umar (ra) in the year 638 CE. The Christian Patriarch, Sophronius had insisted that he would hand over the keys of Jerusalem only to the ruler of Muslims. The second Khalifah Umar was on a campaign in the Golan Heights and when word reached him, he hurried to Jerusalem to take possession of the keys without causing any bloodshed in the city.


When he entered the city, Umar located the place where the noble Messenger (pbuh) had led all the Prophets in prayer before his ascension of Heaven on his mi‘raj. After cleansing the place thoroughly, he led the Muslims in prayer and a makeshift mosque was erected there. This simple structure later developed into what is called Masjid al-Aqsa today and has been in Muslim possession ever since.


There is also another more impressive structure that emerged on the Haram al-Sharif. This is called the Dome of the Rock and has a huge gold dome. The Ummayyad ruler Abdul Malik built this about 50 years later over the rock where the Heavenly stead, the Buraq was tethered when the Prophet (pbuh) led the other Prophets in prayer. After mounting the Buraq that started to ascend, the rock followed. The Angel Gabriel asked the noble Messenger (pbuh) to order the rock from rising.


The noble Messenger (pbuh) put his foot on the rock ordering it to stop. To this day, there is a footprint on the rock and it remains suspended except for very thin metal rods underneath it. This is the place where the Dome of the Rock Mosque exists.


The Muslims lost Masjid al-Aqsa and Jerusalem to the Crusaders in the year 1099 CE. Muslim rulers surrounding Palestine had become corrupt, much like the rulers today and had lost the will to defend Islam or Muslims. It was not until another 88 years before Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin) liberated Masjid al-Aqsa and Jerusalem from the clutches of the Crusaders.


Unfortunately the decline in Muslim rule and corruption in their ranks has led to the loss of Masjid al-Aqsa one more time. It occurred in several phases. When the Ottoman Empire was defeated and dismembered, the British colonialists took control of Palestine and in typical colonial style started to disburse Muslim lands to others. The Europeans had never tolerated the Jews in their midst; the frequent pogroms against them being a constant reminder of the intolerance of the Europeans. In 1918, when Britain occupied Palestine, they conspired to hand it over to the Jews—actually the Zionists — as a permanent homeland totally ignoring the rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. At the time the Zionist state was created in Palestine in 1948, more than 60 percent of Palestinian land was handed over to the Zionists. The rest was grabbed by the Zionists in 1967 together with East Jerusalem that houses the Masjid al-Aqsa as well as the Dome of the Rock.


That is where the situation stands today: Masjid al-Aqsa, indeed the entire Haram al-Sharif is under Zionist occupation and threat of destruction. Even while Muslims throughout their history provided sanctuary to the Jewish people after they suffered persecution elsewhere, the Zionists have turned out to be the worst kinds of oppressors in history. They act with impunity and are extremely hostile toward the indigenous Palestinian people. Heavily armed, they shoot at the slightest pretext and have no regard for Palestinian life.


The corrupt Muslim rulers are totally subservient to the imperialists and Zionists. Reposing hope in them to rescue the Muslims is a waste of time. It would require a figure like Salahuddin Ayyubi to rise among the Muslims to liberate Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestine from another group of Crusaders, this time of the Zionist variety.


Until then, Muslims can pray and prepare for that day. A good starting point would be to become better informed about their history that seems to have been largely forgotten.