Learning was as serious as faith

09

The word ‘Jamiah’ in Arabic means ‘university’. The word ‘Jami’ stands for ‘Masjid’. Many scholars of the early Muslim civilization saw a clear connection between learning and faith. The first revelation, “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists).” (Al-Alaq 96:1), was a significant sign to urge the early Muslims to learn new things and share their discoveries.

Travelling teachers, known as Ahl al-Ilm (the people with knowledge), became the means to spread knowledge between towns and cities. By the late ninth century, almost every Masjid housed an elementary school for boys and girls. Kids began school at the age of six. Among the early skills school kids learnt were how to write verses from the Quran and the 99 names of Allah. They then went on to memorize all 6,239 verses of the Noble Book.

The affluent members of the society hired tutors to teach their children at home. Each Muslim school had an exclusive architecture with arched hallways leading to a courtyard for outdoor lessons, a prayer hall, living quarters for students, and an ablution room. Talking, laughing, or joking was not permitted in the classrooms. There were mainly four different types of Muslim schools: regular (primary schools), houses of readers (high schools), houses of Hadeeth (religious schools), and medical schools.

Most schools had libraries filled with books written in Arabic on such advanced topics as chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Education was free, and some students were even provided with books, stipends, and lodging facilities. An Awqaf was set up for building schools, paying salaries to teachers, and arranging meals for students. Much like college students today, students at universities in the Muslim world took entrance examinations, joined study groups, and had to pass final exams to graduate.

According to a travelling geographer, Ibn Hawqal, the city of Palermo in Muslim Sicily had 300 Masajid that taught various subjects in the late tenth century. By the fifteenth century, the Ottomans had revolutionized schools by setting up a kind of learning centre called a Kulliye. Each complex had a Masjid, school, hospital, and dining area.

A quest for advanced education among Muslim scholars led to the spread of universities throughout the Muslim world: Baghdad, Timbuktu in Mali, Fes in Morocco, Bayt al-Hikmah in Tunisia, and countless more.

The spark of learning lit up the Dark Ages in the European world, too. European students travelled back and forth to Muslim cities to study at colleges and to learn Arabic, in order to access the latest discoveries, intellectual advancements, and inventions. This contributed to the spread of Islamic knowledge and the exchange of ideas in the world at that time.

 

Loss – Punishment or Reward?

loss

Our life is shaped by two types of important events. The first one belongs to Q1 and is termed ‘urgent’, such as a heart attack that needs to be tended to immediately. The second is Q2, which is important but not urgent, such as a patient who shows high potential signs of coronary issues leading to a heart attack. If Q2 actions are delayed, ignored or not attended to, they turn into Q1 situations, distressing us and resulting in losses.

Q1s are further divided into two types: internal Q1s and external Q1s. Internal Q1 could be when my car has been troubling me for days and needs to go to the mechanic for repairs. I have an extremely busy schedule; hence, I defer this visit to the motor mechanic, believing it to be a secondary priority. Hence, one morning, as I am driving, the brakes of my car fail and I ram into another vehicle. This is followed by an ugly brawl with the other motorist. I end up paying him for the damages, cursing my fate, being late for an important official meeting and succumbing to my frustration.

In this scenario, do I deserve sympathy from people or help from Allah (swt)? It was my choice to pend the car’s maintenance job and jeopardize my own and others’ life. Hence, this loss will be a source of Zulumat (darkness) and not a reward from Allah (swt). I earned this destruction with my own hands knowingly. Good fortune doesn’t hold forever. We need to learn to prioritize our life and be prepared, as we can’t read the future. Other examples of internal Q1 behaviour could be:

  • Studying at the last moment for exams and failing later;
  • Ignoring signs of a weak body, resulting in serious ailments;
  • Deliberately misbehaving with or annoying family members, causing disputes;
  • Forgetting about an official project or customer’s task, leading to reprimand from the boss or, worse, demotion or termination.

Now, we flip the scenario and imagine that my car was standing at a traffic light and another vehicle crashed into me from behind. What could I have done to alter this fate? Nothing. It was destined to happen. If I bear that moment with patience and recite: “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon (I am from Allah (swt) and to Him is my return),” this loss is accompanied with Noor (light). It becomes an act of pleasure for Allah (swt), as I surrendered to His decree and remembered that my possessions are a trust with me that can be taken away at any time. I didn’t resist, realizing that what had happened was beyond my control. I saved myself and others around me from unwarranted stress, misgivings, self-beating and bitterness. This graceful response of a believer earns the highest ranks of honour not only in Paradise but also in the sight of those in this world, who perceive Allah’s (swt) magnificence. This is purely an external Q1. Other similar examples could be:

  • Saving yourself from disappointment, after learning that your best examination paper was not marked honestly;
  • Suddenly discovering that in spite of living a healthy lifestyle, you have been diagnosed with a terminal disease;
  • Despite behaving generously and in the family’s best interest, you are unappreciated;
  • You perform your best in the office, yet the promotion or salary increment goes to another peer.

In all such cases, when our plan is scattered like the leaves in the teeth of a cruel gale, know Allah (swt) has planned otherwise. Pray for patience and deliverance. And know that Allah’s (swt) plots are unmistakably based on His infinite wisdom and love for the believer. This should draw us closer to Him. We should refrain from hunting for logical answers we cannot comprehend, due to our limited mental capacity.

Internal Q1s, however, should be and can be consciously worked upon, as they are within our circle of influence and can reduce the stressors and Zulm we commit upon ourselves. List your most frequently occurring internal Q1s. Analyze where you are going wrong. Double your resolve to plan and prioritize your life. If a loss still intercepts you after that as an external Q1 situation, you can pray for Allah’s (swt) Noor to come and relieve you. It’s not a loss but a better deal!

Unlocking Horns – Conflict Resolution

conflict

Are you a member of the younger or middle generation, struggling to handle family and/or marriage-related problems resulting from familial ‘interference’ in your life?

The first thing to remember is that no matter what your elderly parents do, you have to honour them as much as possible and be patient with them. Never rebuke or snap at them. It is equally important to remember that, as Muslims, pointing out and stopping their injustices is also an obligation. Here are some tips to help you towards effective conflict resolution:

(1) If your parents or other family elders do something that causes chronic anger, hurt feelings or discord between you and your spouse, follow the method of arbitration, as outlined by the Quran (4:35), and request a trustworthy, Allah-fearing and sincere mutual relative to intercede on your behalf and convey to them your points of concern and complain. The most common issues, based on my limited experience, because of which the need for such arbitration might arise are: elderly parents giving blatant preference to daughters over daughters-in-law in terms of love, attention and treatment meted out to grandchildren; interference, manipulation and control that exceeds the boundaries of privacy and independence, especially in how and where the sons’ money is spent; coercing one married son to live with them in their house, but allowing the other sons to live as nuclear families; dictating the Tarbiyah of grandchildren, and so on.

(2) Contact a religious scholar and ask them to advise your elders. This might backfire, as your parents or parents-in-law might feel insulted or humiliated before a religious authority. As an alternative, write a letter to your elders, and/or print out relevant Fatawa by scholars to let them know how their actions are wrong in the eyes of Allah (swt). This method should be used especially for those elders, who unapologetically commit actions that are Haram (such as lying, Gheebah (backbiting) and slander), and who become very defensive in person, continuing to argue and answer back, until their adult child is silenced into grudging submission.

(3) If arbitration and writing doesn’t work, and your parents or parents-in-law continue injustice or any other action that is a sin in Islam, use the rights, freedoms and independence that Allah (swt) has afforded you through His Deen to incorporate a temporary distancing from them or a moderation of visits or interaction that will prevent further discord. Please note: this solution should be employed only in cases of necessity, when the level of marital discord between a husband and wife due to family interference has reached a ‘red-flag’ level (i.e., divorce or separation is imminent), or when a person starts to suffer extreme mental distress or depression because of the actions of their parents or parents-in-law.

(4) If nothing else seems to work, pray to Allah (swt) for guidance and relief. Acknowledge that this is a test from Allah (swt) and be patient. For the men, who find themselves sandwiched between their parents and wives/children – take this as your training to ‘become a man’ and learn to juggle/balance both sides of your family with tact and diplomacy.

Often bring to mind the tremendous debt you owe your parents for raising you. Never forget the Ihsan they have done towards you, which you will never be able to repay.

Recalling the way they tolerated your mischief throughout your childhood will soften your heart towards them and help you overlook their injustice, Insha’Allah!

Friendship with non-Muslims

09

There are many blessings in friendship. In his essay “Of Friendship”, philosopher Francis Bacon states that a good, honest friend is a source of constructive feedback. This idea was also stated by the Prophet (sa), as he was reported to have said: “A believer is the mirror of his brother. When he sees a fault in it, he should correct it.” (Bukhari)

The benefits above are universal and apply to all human societies. Let’s see what our Creator has advised Muslims about such a beneficial institution as human friendship.

“Verily, your Wali (Protector or Helper) is Allah, His Messenger, and the believers…” (Al-Maidah 5:55)

On the face of it, one may think that Allah (swt) wants Muslims to befriend only the people of their own community and have no friendly relations with the non-Muslims. If one studies the Sunnah, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.

The most general human relation possible is Muwasat. This entails wishing well for all creation, including all of humanity out of compassion.  After Badr, Muslims took the disbelievers as prisoners of war. They were kept in the Prophet’s Masjid and were treated in the best manner. They were given the best food, while Muslims had to do with little. During the reign of Umar (rtam), non-Muslims used to receive monthly stipends from the state treasury. Muslims were averse only to disbelief, not to the disbelievers.

The next type of relationship is Mudarat, where one deals with people of the other communities on a one-to-one basis. These interactions may take place if, for example, one has a non-Muslim guest or a neighbour or someone sitting next to them in a flight. Again, Muslims are supposed to show their best behaviour in such interactions. A Jew visited the Prophet (sa) once and was invited to eat there and sleep in his bed during the night. The next day, when he left, he forgot his sword. The Prophet (sa) kept it safe, until he came back to collect it later.

The third type of relationship is Muamalat, where Muslims associate with non-Muslims on the basis of some work – for instance, as an employer, employee, colleague, teacher, doctor, librarian, etc. The Prophet (sa) once borrowed money from a Jewish money lender by pawning his belongings to him.

The last category of friendship is Muwalat, in which people become close intimate friends with each other. They tend to support each other at all cost, even at the cost of their beliefs. It is this friendship that is prohibited for Muslims. Such friendships can influence one’s entire way of life. If a Muslim befriends non-Muslims intimately, there is a danger that the former will forget his responsibilities as a member of the Ummah. If a Muslim condones all actions of a non-Muslim friend, how can he invite him to the Deen?

Islam encourages Muslims to take full benefit of the institution of friendship. They must have compassion for all humanity, deal well with any non-Muslim they come in contact and work with them constructively for common objectives in society in an exemplary manner. However, they must reserve the intimate nature of friendship only for fellow Muslims.

Haya in Danger

haya in danger

By Uzma Jawed – Student of the Quran

“And (there will be) Houris (fair females) with wide, lovely eyes (as wives for the pious) like unto preserved pearls.” (Al-Waqiah 22-23)

When we look around us, huge billboards, movie posters, commercials on TV, and ads in magazines and on the Internet are not portraying our Muslim women as icons of modesty and Haya. In fact, indecency has become so common that it endanger our Iman.

I interviewed a number of people from different walks of life and here is what they had to say:

Sabah Yaseen, student of Arabic

When we create such ads, we are publicly defying our Islamic beliefs and values. We should try talking to the people who are involved. For instance, approach their marketing department and voice our opinions directly to them. Boycotting and not buying their products may not help, as the people who don’t believe in the way they are marketing their products are a minority.

Sara Naveed, student of Quran

Ads can be good, without being vulgar and going against our cultural Islamic values. Companies like Juanid Jamshed, Five Star and Icon are highly successful without defying Allah’s (swt) commands.

Tasneem Riaz, mother

I feel angry when I see Muslim women exposed in such a manner. The best way to speak up against this is by visiting their various outlets and informing them that what they are doing is wrong.

There was once a very pious man named Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. On his deathbed, he requested that the man who leads his funeral prayer has the following traits:

  1. His Tahajjud prayers had never been forsaken.
  2. He attended every prayer in the Masjid on time.
  3. He never missed his Asr Salah.
  4. He never looked at a non-Mahram woman.

Muslim king, Shamsuddin Altamash, reluctantly came forward and announced that he had such traits. He didn’t want to announce his good deeds but he wanted the man to be able to have his funeral as per his request.

While this incident was being related, one friend commented that in those days, there were no billboards with such obscene ads and hence, people could protect themselves from seeing non-Mahrams!

In addition, she quoted the verse of Surah An-Nur: “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” (An-Nur 24:19)

Dr. Zubeidah Channah, a practicing dentist and a teacher of the Quran

She believes that Fahishah can be curtailed by propagating the Quran. It is the ultimate solution. Creating awareness of the ill-effects of Fahishah in educational institutions, Masajid and in the print and visual media could be effective. People need to realize that the repercussions of such billboards are not limited only to one’s dress code – it also impacts one’s speech, character and how we choose to live.

A practical tip she suggests is that people need to be motivated enough to finance means that would be a substitute to the ones propagating it. For example, one can finance billboards that propagate the message of truth. Moreover for the silent bystander, an alternative ‘trend’ which is easily accessible could be the solution.

Muslim Awareness Programme (MAP) is attempting to educate the masses about the Islamic value system through billboards. Learn more about them here: http://www.facebook.com/muslimawarenessprogram and http://www.map.net.pk

Culturally Yours

culturally yours

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, Academic Coordinator and Freelance Writer and Umm Amal – Freelance Writer

Wikipedia defines ‘cultural Muslims’ as being religiously unobservant: “People who identify themselves with the Muslim culture, because of family background, personal experiences or the social and cultural environment in which they grew up.” They are born into a Muslim household, but do not tread the path of self-discovery. The world is alluring to them, and they think it is not worth their while to explore why they are Muslims.

“O You who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan (Satan). Verily! He is to You a plain enemy.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208) Allah (swt) commands that we commit ourselves totally to the way of life that Islam preaches. It does not allow us to deliberately reject an aspect of Islam, because we think it is outdated or rigid, only to accept another part we like and think is easy to practice. Entering Islam absolutely means that we have to follow its teachings without any exceptions and without any reservations.

The culture of Islam is universal. It means if adultery is a sin in Afghanistan, it is a sin in Germany, too. If gambling is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, it is prohibited also in Las Vegas. On the Day of Judgement, all people will be judged by the same standards. There won’t be a separate code of conduct for Muslims and non-Muslims. But Allah (swt) also celebrates diversity in many ways. For example, we all look different, speak in various languages, and possess unique abilities. Muslims all across the globe fast for 29-30 days but may enjoy their Iftar with Samosas or Hareesa or pancakes, etc. All are Halal and culturally relevant to Muslims belonging to different parts of the world. Where they unite is when they all pick up dates first at the call of the Adhan to follow the Sunnah to break their fast. This is the best amalgamation of Islam’s universal culture and a Muslim’s indigenous roots.

Similarly, Allah (swt) says: “O You who believe, eat of the lawful things that we have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” (Al-Baqarah 2:172) In this verse, we receive an important guideline about our sources of income: We must ensure our source of income is Halal (permissible) and blessed and it does not come from a prohibited (Haram) source. Thus, if we think as cultural slaves that an income earned through Haram activities, which might make a person wealthy and famous, is acceptable, we need to remind ourselves that the line between Haram and Halal is clear. There is no concept of Robin Hood in Islam; the end does not justify the means.

A trendy practice for show business stars is to thank and praise Allah (swt), and hold Him responsible for their successes, glory and honourable standing in society! Experience and common sense tells us that the lifestyle of entertainment contradicts most of the Quran and the Sunnah, in terms of illicit relations, drinking, shameless talk and attire. These are the signs of the transgressors, not those of the true believers.

Nevertheless, the road to Allah (swt) remains open: “And (commanding you): ‘Seek the forgiveness of Your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant You good enjoyment…” (Hud 11:3).

We have been invited to move from the darkness into the light. There are numerous examples of people giving up a disbelieving lifestyle for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. We have the examples of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) and Junaid Jamshed, the owner of a clothing line and in the process, a trendsetter in his own right. When he advertised his clothing line, he did not use models; a year later, other fashion houses emulated his concept. The latest ‘cultural Muslim’ coming of age is Shiraz Uppal, who tweeted, “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in the way your Creator wants it to be spent.”

If we admire any celebrity or icon, we can email or send them inspirational and informative write-ups as soft Dawah. Who knows? Maybe they have never had a conducive environment or access to the truth, and we become their means to salvation. Allah (swt) always has a way out. We must recognize that we have a serious crisis of self-esteem and should use Islam to improve our understanding of the ‘approved’ way of life. It is crucial that we enshroud ourselves with Islam, step out of the cultural enslavement, and become one of those who submit to Allah (swt).

“[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (religion) of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allah’s? And we are His worshippers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:138)

Beginning to Read

beginning to read

By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at yello.pk and perceptions.org.pk

Reading is a habit many people set out to cultivate and no wonder! Books can be extremely satisfying companions; they make you laugh, cry and, most importantly, they open up your minds to ideas and information you had never heard of before. Books are indeed our best friends!

Reading is a great habit to develop. If you’d like to cultivate a lifetime habit of reading, try some of these tips!

1 Set reading goals. An initial burst of enthusiasm for reading will not sustain the habit. You need to set goals for yourself, defining how long you will read every day. You can start with ten minutes a day and gradually increase the time. Or you can decide how many pages you will read every day. Find a quiet place where you can read uninterrupted for the time you have specified.

2 Find a book you love. Reading is highly enjoyable, but not if you are reading a book that is boring or one you can’t understand. Explore topics and genres that interest you and those to which you can relate. Make a list of books you would like to read – then, slowly and gradually go through them.

3 Have reading triggers. Every habit has a trigger – a regularly occurring event that immediately precedes the habit. Every time those triggers come up, read. Common reading triggers have been identified as eating, going to bed, travelling in the car, waiting somewhere (outside the school or in a doctor’s clinic), etc. Choose your triggers and read without fail. Also, always remember to carry a book with you whenever you leave the house. Chances are you might not need the book for nine trips out of the ten you make, but the tenth time you’ll be glad you brought the book along.

4 Have a library/bookshop day. Make a weekly trip to a library or a bookshop (second-hand bookstores are always great!). Browsing through different books is a useful way to spend some time and open up your mind to the variety of literature available for your reading pleasure. More often that not, you will end up buying amazing books that you can’t wait to read!

5 Make it pleasurable. Make your reading pleasurable and fun. Settle with a hot cup of tea/coffee or any other treat. But remember – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to read. Reading is for pleasure, and if you get stressed and push yourself too hard, you might give it up altogether. It might be a great idea to discuss books with your friends or join a book club to help you enjoy the reading experience even more.

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Qanat

roadblocks

By Tasneem Vali – Architect, freelance writer and Academic Coordinator

Dawn is that part of the day when you notice the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. Allah (swt) in His all encompassing Wisdom tells us: “(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89:27-30)

The believer’s soul is at peace with its Lord, certain of its way, confident of its fate. It is a soul which is satisfied with all eventualities: happiness or affliction, wealth or poverty.

Our dilemma is that we have no idea how to be the soul that is ‘in complete rest and satisfaction’. The answer is simple and logical. We need a wake-up call from our worries about money, jobs, kids and family; in fact, all the things that tie us to this world obstruct us from attaining true contentment.

There are four simple rules for bringing back contentment into our lives and overcoming any roadblocks to Qanat (being content with what you have):

(1) Free your heart from hatred

The Prophet (sa) said: “By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you submit. You will not submit until you love one another. Greet each other with peace and you will love one another. Beware of hatred, for it is the razor. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves away the religion.” (Bukhari) It’s as simple as that – submit yourself to Allah (swt).

(2) Free your mind from worries

Only Allah (swt) knows the precise moment, when we will take our final breath on this earth. “And no person can ever die except by Allah’s Leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in (this) world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.” (Al-Imran 3:145)

Part of our belief in Allah (swt) requires us to have absolute certainty about Qadr, so why worry? We will get only what Allah (swt) has predetermined for us – just work hard to please Allah (swt).

(3) Live simply (Zuhud – abstinence from the greed of this world)

Abul-Abbas as-Saidi said: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to such an action, that when I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me.’ He said: ‘Be detached from this world, and Allah will love you, and do not be attracted to what people have, and the people will love you.’” (Ibn Majah)

(4) Give more and expect less

Give freely of what you have – time, money, knowledge and energy – but expect a return only from Allah (swt). This world is not designed to be the venue for final judgements; accept Allah’s (swt) wisdom and defer to His logic and commands.

Getting rid of the roadblocks to Qanat is your decision. Are you going to get up each morning submitting to Allah (swt) or are you going to sulk in bed, mulling over all your worries? Use each day wisely and hoard good deeds for the Hereafter.

Changing the World at Seventeen

Changing the world at 17

It was 619 AD, when in the garden of Taif, the Prophet (sa), nursing his fresh wounds, prayed to his Lord. Nine years later, the entire Taif embraced Islam. And this is where our story begins.

Muhammad Ibn Qasim was seventeen, when he conquered Sindh. His sword struck the very heart of such false practices as idol worship, which prevailed in that era. He conquered not just a piece of land but an entire people living on the banks of the Indus River. It was his courage and persistent acts of goodness that caused his death – he was imprisoned, tortured and martyred.

He was born in Taif in 695 AD. Growing up in the care of his mother, he soon became a great asset to his uncle Muhammad Ibn Yusuf, the governor of Yemen. His judgement, potential and skills surpassed many experienced officers, thus, he was made the governor of Persia.

Interestingly, the Muslim rule he began was not for such worldly purposes as gaining land, power, or simply for satisfying the awe-inspiring leader inside him. He invaded Sindh for a truly humanitarian act.

In 712 AD, some Arab Muslim families were returning in a merchant ship to their homes to Iraq, including widows and orphans. The ship was intercepted at a Sindh port by some Hindu pirates, who looted the vessel and took the passengers as captives. These were men of Raja Dahir, the ruler of Sindh at the time. Qasim’s uncle wrote to Dahir, demanding the release of the prisoners and the due punishment of the pirates. As expected of a cruel ruler, Dahir refused point-blank. This prompted Muhammad Ibn Yusuf to dispatch his seventeen-year-old nephew to do what was required.

Qasim, of course, took the responsibility seriously. Displaying outstanding courage, he crushed Dahir’s troops. The people of Sindh rejoiced at Qasim’s entry. The cruel reign had ended, because Qasim was a promising ruler of commendable character, efficient administration, and a window into the Islamic system of law and justice, which was so fair and sufficient that it inspired the Hindus. He won both their lands and hearts.

There are two versions of his death. The first and most agreed upon account revisits his preparation for the attack on Rajasthan. Qasim’s father-in-law passed away, and the new governor took revenge against the family of the old governor. The new Khalifa Suleman called upon Qasim and made him captive. This imprisonment led Qasim to an early death. He was twenty, then.

Even his death could not diminish the magnitude of what he had done for the future generations. In 712 AD, conquering the area from its Hindu rulers, he extended Muslim rule to the Indus Valley. Just like Alexander the Great before him, he travelled endlessly and subdued the whole of what is now Pakistan – from Karachi to Kashmir within a matter of three years. He managed to do that with a small force of only around six thousand Syrian tribesmen. Allah (swt) was with him every step of the way.

Muhammad Ibn Qasim is a true inspiration for the leaders of all times. To this day, historians believe that had he lived longer, he would have brought the entire South Asian region into the folds of the Islamic empire.

The Wonder Boys Who Became Great Men

July 11- wonder-boys

They were like a couple of scattered pearls during the life of the Prophet (sa), running to and fro like naughty children at any place and time. As their loving grandfather prostrated during earnest prayer, one of them would playfully climb up on his head. Like any innocent child, fond of sweet treats and naturally curious about environmental stimuli, one of them would pick up a date lying on the ground in Madinah and innocently put it into his mouth.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of black camel hair. Al-Hasan Ibn Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in the cloak; then, Al-Hussain (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it, then Fatimah (rta) came, and he enfolded her in it, then Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it; then, he said: “Allah wishes only to remove Al-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet (sa)), and to purify you with a thorough purification.” (Al-Ahzab 33:33) (Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Al-Hasan and Al-Hussain are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise, and Fatimah is the chief of their women.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn-Majah and Ahmad)

The Prophet’s (sa) grandsons, Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta), grew up to be laudable leaders and heroes, who shunned worldly glory and honour. Despite their lineage, they didn’t feel “entitled” to occupying positions of authority and power over people. Their deaths as martyrs have raised their status and honourable mention even in this world. But we know that it is not just their blood connection that has earned them supreme success in the hereafter. As the Quran tells us, Prophet Nuh’s (as) pleas were of no avail for his son. He drowned because he didn’t submit to Allah’s (swt) commands.

Therefore, the question is: what did Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) do as youths that paved way for their lofty characters as adults?

  1. They were brought up on a solid foundation of Islamic morals.
  2. They had the correct Aqeedah in their hearts and witnessed it being confirmed by the actions of their parents and extended family.
  3. They were never denied the company and love of pious older people.
  4. Their chaste mother shunned the glitter and glamour of the life of this world.

Their mother will be the chief of the women of Paradise in the hereafter! Without a long string of intellectual achievements or accomplishments to her credit, she lived a life of hardship. She died very young, after living a life of forbearance in the face of abject poverty. Despite her short lifespan, she gave birth to and reared children, who not only carried forward her father’s mission, but also left notable marks in Islamic history.

Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) are role models for Muslim families today: reminders for new mothers that Tarbiyyah begins from conception and is pivotal in the early childhood years. For the youth, “Hussnayain” continue to belie the fact that “youth is wasted on the young”. Rather, when the foundation is strong, in very short lives, young people can achieve what the majority cannot accomplish in decades.

 

To Believe or not to Believe

Apr 11 - To believe or not to believe

Handling Information about the Dajjal

By Hafsa Ahsan

Go to any bookstore and there is a very good chance that you will find an assortment of books regarding the Dajjal. There are books exploring whether Dajjal is an individual or a system; there are booklets of Ahadeeth foretelling the coming of Dajjal, Imam Mahdi and Prophet Isa (as); there are volumes addressing the current world order and how conducive it is to the aims of Dajjal, and the list goes on. Being an avid collector and reader of most of these books, my sister and I have discovered that there are some books which are well-worth a read, while others contain theories which are too far-fetched to be authentic. So how do you, as an average reader, sift through this extensive information? How do you differentiate between what is fact and what has been fabricated? How do you ensure that you are not misled? Here are some pointers:

Make Dua

Before reading any book, sincerely supplicate to Allah (swt) that He would open your heart to what is authentic in that book and turn you away from all that is fabricated. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will guide you.

Reference

While reading any book, booklet or article, it is imperative to look at the references. Whom has the author quoted? Is this a reference from a Hadeeth? If so, what is the grade of this Hadeeth (reliable, authentic, weak, etc.)? Are all the references leading to other books and not a single Hadeeth? Answers to these vital questions will authenticate most of the information for you.

Generalizations

There are some books that contain nothing but sweeping statements and conspiracy theories, which are not supported by a single authentic reference. Such generalizations should alert you to their dubious nature.

Relevance

Some books clearly point out the relationship between the information that was foretold by the Prophet (saw) and the current world events, as they are unfolding. Even though they are the opinions of the authors concerned, it is refreshing to read them. This ensures that one does not treat the coming of Dajjal as a mere story and something too distant to consider. However, such books are scarce.

Concern

The coming of Dajjal is a definite event. We need to know how to protect ourselves and how he will affect us. However, some books digress to the point that they start debating issues which do not really affect us as common people. For instance, does it really matter if certain countries are “Dajjal”? How does it affect us whether or not the armies of certain countries are part of the Dajjal army? Reading books on these topics may be of interest to the more scholarly among us; however, for the vast majority of others, the basic questions are: how will we recognize him and how will we protect ourselves? Useless debates are just a waste of time.

Alright, so we have some idea as to how to sift the information that we read. What next? It is of great concern that a lot of people refuse to believe most of the authentic information given to them. Such people choose to remain in a state of denial, refuting the facts which are right in front of them. Try telling anyone that the money of the future is electronic money, for instance, and they will give you a blank look. On one hand, there is a lot of disinformation, and on the other hand, there is a complete denial of authentic information. It all boils down to the fact that most of us treat the coming of Dajjal as a mere story – something, which will not affect us.

A major step towards correcting our attitude regarding the information is to accept the fact that Dajjal will come, if not during our time then definitely during the time of our descendents. We have to equip ourselves with the right information and then pass it down through our children. Once we see this as our ultimate mission, it will become clear that we must have the correct information about Dajjal from authentic sources. And we must know how to handle this information.

Be my Guest

Jan 11- Be my Guest

By Tooba Asim

“Oh no! Not again,” I sighed, as I glanced at the clock and went ahead to check the main door. Sure enough, it was my next door neighbour. It was three in the afternoon, and no one else was brave enough to venture out of their homes in this sweltering heat. She was always an exception. Today was different, as my mother was visiting us as well. “Why the sigh? She’s your guest, and guests are a blessing from Allah (swt),” was my mom’s immediate response to my behaviour.

Guests indeed are among Allah’s (swt) blessings, but we can see from the Prophet’s (sa) example that there is a certain etiquette of visitation, which one must follow in order to fulfill the Sunnah. In our society, there are plenty of people like my neighbour, who make their hosts wary of guests instead of welcoming them.

The Prophet (sa) said: “A man visited a brother in another town. Allah (swt) sent an angel to lie in wait for him along his way. When he came upon the angel, he asked him: ‘Where are you going?’ He answered: ‘I am going to visit a brother of mine in this town?’ The angel asked further: ‘Is there any favour that you want to get from him?’ The man said: ‘No, it is only that I love him for Allah’s (swt) sake.’ The angel then said: ‘I am a messenger of Allah to you (to tell you) that Allah (swt) loves you, as you love your brother for His sake.” (Muslim)

The aforementioned Hadeeth makes it clear that visiting somebody for Allah’s (swt) sake alone and not for some personal reason is what Allah (swt) wants from us.

Keeping in mind the importance that Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa) have placed on visiting, we should certainly take some time out of our busy schedules for our family, neighbours and friends. This, however, should be done keeping in mind some important reminders.

Choose a suitable time…

…and day. Don’t pay a late night visit to someone, who is known to go to bed early or has school-going children. Don’t visit at mealtimes, unless you have been invited by your hosts.

Call before you go

It is better to give your hosts time to tidy up their place and be prepared. Also, it will save you time and unnecessary hassle, if your hosts are not at home or have other plans.

Do not grumble

If your hosts could not be contacted earlier and you had to return home, do not complain.

Take a gift

This does not have to be very extravagant or formal. You can take a home-cooked dish, a small box of biscuits or anything thoughtful that is likely to cheer up your hosts or their children.

Don’t stay too long

Respect the fact that your hosts might also have other commitments. If you’re visiting someone who’s staying at your host’s place, be extra careful.

Avoid indulging in gossip

Don’t pry about people’s lives. Everyone is entitled to privacy. Ask about their well-being, without being nosy.

Visit the sick

Visit the sick to help their attendants with some chores. This relieve them for a while and earn you Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

Appreciate

It is good manners to appreciate the effort your hosts put in for you, no matter how big or small. Anas Ibn Malik (rtam) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) visited some of the Anaar in their house and ate some food there. When he wanted to leave, he ordered that a place be prepared for him where he could pray. He then prayed there and supplicated for his hosts.” (Bukhari)

Good etiquettes go a long way in maintaining healthy relationships. A smile here and a kind word there are sure shot recipes for winning hearts.

The invocation of a guest for his host, as taught by Prophet Muhammad (sa):

“O Allah, bless them in what You have provided for them, and forgive them and have mercy on them.” (Muslim)

The Art of Complimenting

Oct 10 - The Art of Complimenting

“You look amazing!”

“Your eyes are so beautiful!”

“Masha’Allah, what a beautiful house!”

“You delivered this Dars so effectively!”

“I don’t think anybody can cook as well as you do!”

Sounds familiar? I’m sure it does, because either we hear such words from someone or say them to others.

Today, praise is the shortest route to popularity. Be generous with compliments and you are that person’s ‘bestie.’ Criticize, even if sincerely and positively, and you may be thought of as jealous. But is praising an Islamically accepted social exercise? One of the attributes of Allah (swt) is Ash-Shakoor – the Appreciative. As humans, we do need to appreciate others and at times, also need appreciation and encouragement. But how and why are important questions for a Mumin.

Everyone loves a sincere compliment or encouragement. But often encouragement moves on to become praise and exaggerated adulation. Although all the mentioned words are similar, they do have very different meanings. ‘Appreciation’ means ‘a favourable critical estimate, a sensitive awareness or an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude’. ‘Praise’ can mean anexpression of approval, commendation or admiration; but it can also mean the extolling or exaltation of a deity, ruler or hero. ‘Adulation’, however, goes a step further and means ‘excessive or slavish admiration or flattery.’

There is no doubt that Allah (swt) wants us to be appreciative and express gratitude. But in Islam, gratitude is expressed in the form of giving back something in return – a sincere Dua! The Prophet (sa) showed his appreciation for one of his generous hosts by giving him prayers of Barakah. Often, he showed appreciation not in words but by eating what someone got for him or wearing what was gifted to him. In the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, we do not see the exaggerated praise that people often shower on each other nowadays. In fact, according to Sunnah, excessive praise is not healthy, because our Muslim brother or sister can start losing humility. This is why praise even in matters of Taqwa can give a person a false sense of Kibr (arrogance), which can be detrimental to one’s Iman.

The Prophet (sa) did encourage his companions many a times. He praised the Haya (modesty) of Usman Ibn Affan (rta) and the Ilm and intelligence of Aisha Bint Abu Bakr (rta). He gave the title of the ‘sword of Allah’ to Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) for his bravery in the battlefield. He acknowledged the natural gift of a beautiful, strong voice Bilal Ibn Abi Rabah (rta) had by making him the first Muadhin (caller to prayers) of Islam. Abi Musa Al-Ashari (rta) was praised for his beautiful recitation of the Quran, and the women of Ansar were praised for the fact that they were not shy to ask questions for learning matters of Deen.

Intense admiration can sometimes result in Nazar (evil eye), as we see in this Hadeeth: Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab that Abu Umama Ibn Sahl Ibn Hunayf said: “Amir Ibn Rabia saw Sahl Ibn Hunayf taking a Ghusl and said: ‘I have not seen the like of what I see today, not even the skin of a maiden, who has never been out of doors.’ Sahl fell to the ground. The Messenger of Allah (sa) was approached, and it was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, can you do anything about Sahl Ibn Hunayf? By Allah, he can not raise his head.’ He said: ‘Do you suspect anyone?’ They said: ‘We suspect Amir Ibn Rabia.’” He continued: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) summoned Amir and was furious with him and said: ‘Why does one of you kill his brother? Why did you not say ‘may Allah bless you’? Do Ghusl for it.’ Amir washed his face, hands, elbows, knees, the end of his feet, and inside his lower garment in a vessel. Then he poured it over him, and Sahl went off with the people, and there was nothing wrong with him.” (Muwatta Imam Malik)

The one common factor that we see in the method of complimenting adopted by the earlier prophets, Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions is that the credit for any Khair (any praiseworthy attribute) is given to Allah (swt). A Mumin is well aware of the fact that all praise belongs to Allah (swt), Who is the source of all good. Isa (as) is reminded in the Quran that all the miracles he was able to perform were by the Izn (permission) of Allah. In Surah Yusuf, Prophet Yusuf (as) gives the credit to Allah (swt) for the gift of being able to interpret dreams and being able to resist a beautiful woman’s advances. The realization; that all good is actually from Allah (swt) makes a person humble.

In the light of Islamic principles, the following ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of complimenting would be useful to observe:

DO

  1. Encourage and appreciate, where appreciation is due.
  2. Appreciate the people closest to you. Often, we forget to appreciate our families, colleagues and servants, but praise people in our outer circle of friends and acquaintances.
  3. Make special effort to appreciate your spouse, children and parents in particular.
  4. Make sure that your appreciation or praise is genuine and true.
  5. Make sure that your appreciation is to the point.
  6. Appreciate where you think it will encourage a person to do further good. For example, when a child has started to pray or recite the Quran beautifully or when a sister has started wearing the Hijab.
  7. Check your Niyyah (intention) when you praise someone. Is it just so you can become popular? Is it just because you are in that habit? Will it help that person do further good?
  8. Find other creative ways, besides verbal praise, to show encouragement. Sometimes a smile, a single gesture or a gift can say more than words.
  9. Be careful about what you are praising. Rather than praising such inborn qualities as good looks, it is preferable to appreciate a good deed or a good habit someone has acquired, so that they may continue it.
  10. Always say “Masha’Allah La Quwwata Illa Billah” or “Tabaarakallah”, when you like something.

DON’T

  1. Avoid exaggeration in your praise, so that it doesn’t become an attempt to feed the ego and doesn’t border on adulation.
  2. Refrain from praising someone all the time, unless it would encourage them to continue a good deed.
  3. Don’t praise someone on doing something that displeases Allah (swt) or is forbidden in our Deen. For instance, appreciating the dress of a Muslim woman, who is not observing Hijab/Purdah.
  4. Don’t praise unless it is the truth.
  5. Avoid praising someone in his/her presence all the time!
  6. Never use praise as a social crutch to become popular.
  7. Don’t compliment someone with such adulation that they get afflicted with Nazar (evil eye). Instead, do Dua for them.
  8. Refrain from praising someone, even your children, excessively, as that person may start doing things to fish out praise, rather than for Ajar (reward) from Allah (swt).

As for when someone praises us, the Dua we are supposed to recite is: “O Allah, do not make me account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge, and make me better than they imagine.” (Bukhari)

The Wayfarer

Jul 10 - The Wayfarer

Maryam Sakeenah pays a humble tribute to Dr. Israr Ahmed.

As I walked through the dust and heat, threading my way through the throng of unfamiliar faces, I felt an indescribable kinship, an invisible bond that linked me to the faces I walked among. We were drawn towards the same – a personage, a symbol, a phenomenon, an institution, an era and a life larger than life. I was a nobody among the crowd, one among many – and yet I felt I needed to be there, to draw in the moment, to feel the meaning in the cool shade of the towering white minaret and the gentle wind’s whisper, to see it writ large, to savour blessedness and to understand what it meant to truly live, and to live well. That was one of the many realizations the departure of Dr. Israr Ahmed brought home to me. As I looked around at the silent, sombre crowd I felt we were all suddenly bereft, forlorn and derelict. There was a huge, gaping void that would take decades, perhaps centuries to fill.

He was rare – not just as a scholar, but as a person too. A family member tearfully confided in me how he had been the unifying factor, helping resolve differences, sorting things out, solving problems and strengthening ties; how he had been the advisor, guide, patron, father figure, guardian, comforter and confidante.

There were tearful eyes; one of them a friend’s, who reminisced of her time at the Quran Academy as a student. She said it had only struck her now that the personal revolution that had given her an entirely new orientation had been just one of the many, many transforming experiences thousands like her had undergone, made possible by the conviction and endeavour of a single ‘possessed’ man – a man obsessed with a Single Idea. I had never before understood with such crystal clarity the meaning of ‘Sadaqah-e-Jariya.’

In one of his interviews, Dr. Israr Ahmed, in his candid demeanour, had said he didn’t think he had been successful in any significant measure, except perhaps that his work had helped create religious awareness and inclination among the country’s educated middle class.

Understated indeed, considering the enormity and significance of the task. His tireless mission spanned decades, and his tenacity in pursuing the goal he believed in with all his soul was commendable. The depth of his knowledge and insight had been garnered over years of painstaking, unaided personal effort. The maturity of his seasoned vision, the sense of balance and the conviction in the face of formidable odds were a rare combination. His passion for the cause he held dear and strove tirelessly for was powerful and moving. He dreamt alone, and dared to act it out. He was thoroughly immersed in the Quran, thoroughly in love with it. You couldn’t doubt the love, it was so there. He had its glow on his face, its brilliance in his eyes, and its ring in his voice.

As I stepped into the place where he had lived for years, I was instantly struck by the simplicity, as it was so utterly shorn of any semblance of comfort and luxury. ‘Live in this world as a stranger or a wayfarer.’ The Wayfarer had lived it out, eyes firmly fixed on the greater beyond, and moved on.

His last Friday lecture, barely days before his passing away, was about the meaning of Shukr – gratitude to Allah I – for being chosen to discover and share and disseminate; for the man that he was, and for the legacy he left. In this last lecture, he mentioned at length the blessings awaiting the believers in Al-Firdous. Only on receiving that true and lasting reward would the actual meaning of ‘Alhumdulillah’ be experienced in its totality.

Alhumdulillah for your being there. Alhumdulillah for passing it on.

In class, when I shared the news with the students, I could not at first explain to myself the calm that suddenly overwhelmed me, perhaps out of a sense of comfort in the hope that he would be in that Happier Place. A student wrote of him, “I would go to Jannah and meet him there Insha’Allah. I would shake hands with him. I always wanted to do that but he has died, you know, so I can’t. But in Jannah, I shall shake his hands and he will smile and say, ‘My son, I am so proud of you.'”

The Dream lives on, beckoning us.

Cleansing our Interiors

Jul 10 - Cleansing our interiors

By Darakhshan Siddiqui

It is a beautiful spring morning. Javeria Sumbul, a homemaker, is on her wit’s end. Her elder daughter and son-in-law are coming over for dinner, and Javeria wants to make sure that her house is spick and span. Her younger daughters are extremely grumpy, as they know what their brother-in-law’s visit entails. Javeria is issuing instructions at top speed, and her daughters are running around, dusting, sweeping and de-cluttering the rooms. Javeria herself is taking out her best dinner set and aims to wash it herself, not trusting the maid to do so, lest she breaks even one piece and spoils the whole set.

By the time the family arrives, the house is sparkling clean, the furniture is glowing and the crockery is set out. As the elder daughter arrives, she is quickly surrounded by her mother and sisters, all eager to hear the latest goings-on at her in-laws. The son-in-law is happily sharing his office grievances with his all-ears father-in-law.

What an irony! A house is wiped clean of the last speck of dust. But the inmates either forgot or ignored to purify their hearts and souls along with it.

Islam stresses a lot on cleanliness and provides complete details regarding Taharah. Yet, at the same time, it equally emphasizes on inner cleanliness.

Our heart is also like a home, and it also needs to be purified, reflecting a warm, pleasing personality and portraying the true values of a Muslim identity.

A patient, kindhearted and knowledgeable person, who understands the importance of the relationship of one Muslim with another and is well aware of the modern-day challenges, is not only respected by his/ her family, but also has a wider horizon of relationships that are strengthened by his/her strong bond with Allah (swt) and the love of the Prophet (sa).

His simple living standard does not matter. His glow of Iman always keeps him at peace. Such is the hidden and beautiful power of Iman, which also needs constant nourishment and has to be protected against temptations of evil forces. A famous scholar once said that we should keep our thoughts as clean and pure as water, because our thoughts build our Iman, just as the drops of water make a river.

How many of us feel that our hearts are being polluted when we are thoroughly engrossed in backbiting, lying, taunting and committing other atrocities of the tongue?

By focusing more on these real issues, we will not be psychologically or emotionally disturbed if we are not able to maintain our predetermined criterion of outer cleanliness. We will not have heated arguments with anybody. I request you to recondition your Iman and purify your hearts through Dhikr. May Allah (swt) enable us to nourish our souls through our Prophet’s (sa) best teachings, Ameen.

Dawah in Cyberspace – Why and How?

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Dawah in CyberspaceBy Fiza Fatima Asar 

The first time that I cried at the wonder of Allah (swt) was when I witnessed the resilience of a sixteen-year-old shy Mexican girl converting to Islam in my college in the USA. Born and brought up in a strict Catholic household from a small town near Los Angeles, Rosario had never met a Muslim before. She was brought closer to Islam solely through research over the Internet, which she started at the age of fourteen. 

Discovering Islam Online

Rosa, as friends called her, would have faced serious repercussions at home, had her parents found out she was taking an interest in Islam. Since she could not bring books on Islam to her home, she spent her time on the Internet, preparing for a school project that led her to know more about Islam.

Every year during Ramadan, a few of us, Muslim girls at college, fasted and sent an email out to the entire college, asking if anyone else would like to join us for fasting during the holy month. It was Rosa’s first year away from home, and she came forward not only saying she wanted to fast with us but also that she wanted to convert.

Types of Spaces Discussing Islam in Cyberspace

Rosa knew that Islam spoke to her, but it was our responsibility now to ensure that she remained steadfast in her decision to convert. Young college students such as ourselves had the passion for our religion but not the right resources or knowledge. The Internet world was literally where college students lived, and it became also the place where we would research in order to get help for Rosa. Islam’s cyber world was a myriad of resources with unending amount of knowledge. It became our group effort to make sure that Rosa utilized the Internet world to her most advantage.

I would classify resources on Islam in cyberspace into the following:

  1. websites of organizations/institutions backed by scholars and teachers;
  2. individual blogs and personal websites for Dawah;
  3. Forums and chat rooms, discussing topics on Islam.

Comparison of the Above Classifications

Our number one source of information remained the websites that were run by known organizations/institutions or were backed by learned scholars and teachers. They include such resources as Quran translation, Ahadeeth, stories of prophets and Fiqh related questions and answers. They may even provide short courses or online seminars.

Individual blogs and websites can be less reliable, because the developer of the site may not be a learned scholar. However, because it is a more personal approach, it may deal with more of everyday stories or discussions that speak to a person surfing the net.

Forums and chat rooms, on the other hand, are interactive spaces, where a number of users discuss issues and topics. In such websites, a lot of opinions and information come up, and it is for us to choose what suits us most or what sounds most correct. The users are not always scholars or learned teachers with the relevant knowledge of Fiqh, but their various backgrounds and experiences may be a great source of learning.

Remembering Adab (Etiquettes) in the Cyberworld

We wanted to succeed at every level of the challenge, but we faced situations that we had not confronted before. Since Rosa still did not know the text of Salah, was it okay to lead prayer and recite each world of Salah out loud? On the days, when we were exempted by Allah (swt) from prayers and fasting, could we still assist the new Muslim in her prayer? If someone like Rosa found certain fasting days tough and ended up sipping a little water, was it okay to show her the merciful side of Islam or were we expected to teach her the importance of fasting laws?

We found the sites and forums useful, and our daily discussions at the Iftar table were more often than not based on the Internet findings. At times, we were so passionate about a discussion on a website that we decided to leave comments or join the discussion. This brought us closer to studying the Adab of Dawah, which is just as applicable in the real world as online.

The Lessons We Learnt

  1. It is best to present your case in a simple, straightforward manner, backed by Quranic verses and verifiable Ahadeeth.
  2. The aim should be constructive criticism with a view to reaching consensus.
  3. Politeness is the key to winning hearts. It is easy to be blunt, curt and rude online, because not much is at stake and you are not physically present in front of the other person. It should be remembered that we are communicating not with computers but with real people – politeness will win more hearts.
  4. Politeness can only be achieved by killing one’s pride. It is rude to demean other religions, especially when we have the strength of Islamic teachings to convince people.
  5. Do not ask such personal questions as age/sex/location. It is easy to cross the border online. Many young Muslim boys and girls, who otherwise avoid useless talking, begin chatting for the sake of Dawah and end up discussing personal lives and becoming friends. It is easy to break rules online; however, the limits of respect and honour in cyberspace are the same as in real life, and Allah (swt) is watching us everywhere.
  6. Answer in terms the questioner can relate to. It is best to emphasize commonalities, so that the questioner can understand more easily.
  7. Differentiate between an Islamic act and an act of a Muslim. Not all actions of Muslims are in line with Islam; therefore, acknowledge, if a Muslim has done wrong.
  8. Nothing justifies dishonesty, not even Dawah. Always speak truth or remain silent.
  9. Study to gain knowledge for answering more coherently and wisely.
  10. If someone is being unnecessarily argumentative, politely walk away from the argument.

Finding Enlightenment Online

After accepting Islam, Rosa understood that her faith will only be strengthened by officially accepting Islam and finding a community of her ethnic and linguistic background. She needed to stand strong against the family and peer pressure she would get on the announcement of her faith. Over the Internet, Rosa found a mosque, which was led by a Latino Muslim and attracted a great number of Latino converts.

After Ramadan, Rosa visited the Masjid for a Friday prayer and read the Kalima in front of scores of Latino Muslims. With an understanding of Islam, Rosa attracts new Muslims towards her every year, sharing her experiences online. Alhumdulilah, it has been four years since she accepted Islam.