Ramadan Rejuvenates the Faithful

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Image Courtesy www.abc.net.au

We are thankful to Allah (swt) the Almighty for we are fasting in- yet another holy month of Ramadan.

Keeping fast since dawn till evening, sitting with our brothers at overflowing tables during Iftar, performing Taraweeh prayers in congregation, and rising at pre-dawn for Sahoor are some of the characteristics of the month.

But, Ramadan is more than that. It was the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind, and to distinguish good from evil.

By reflecting on hunger and thirst, we can better understand the plight of the poor, and the importance of helping them; and we strive to do good works, acquire Taqwa for the hereafter, and earn the approval of our Lord. Our lower selves are curbed, our moral values are improved, and the light of our eyes responsible for all these benefits- continues to illuminate our hearts.

With the month of Ramadan that Muslims spend in a festive air, the acts of observance that believers perform throughout this month bestow very much on their souls in spiritual terms. Their sincerity and religious awareness also grow in direct proportion.

In addition, believers who control their lower selves, and rein in their desires, are careful to avoid such behaviour as lying, backbiting, speaking evil, offending others, anger and lack of submission; but instead, always seek to exhibit proper moral virtues.

Certainly, one of the finest characteristics of this virtuous month furnished with such goodness and felicity- is the reinforcement of the bonds of love, and brotherhood among believers.

Our Prophet (sa) says this about this holy month, when feelings of mutual love, respect and compassion, fortitude and mutual aid come to the fore: “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah (swt) has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)

Another of the countless blessings of Ramadan, in which we receive material and spiritual favours from Allah (swt), and for which we long with a deep spirituality deriving from the joy of religious observance, prayer, the giving of alms, and Iftar and Sahoor each year, is that we become aware of the blessings we possess.

Someone who opens his eyes to the world so immaculately created by our Lord, and who gradually becomes used to the perfection in the functioning of its systems; and who becomes familiar with the marvels all around, may fail to appreciate the blessings bestowed.

This veil of heedlessness is removed from his eyes in the month of Ramadan. He becomes more aware of the blessings ordained for him by Allah (swt), and starts to better comprehend His might and greatness.

When he sees the blessings set out at the Iftar table, the many different fruits and vegetables with their delightful aromas and flavours that emerge from the soil; and the different products obtained from animals- his amazement in the fact of the artistry of Allah (swt) grows.

He better understands what a miracle it is that bright yellow melons, red apples or strawberries, whose aroma still cannot be fully replicated by modern technology, should emerge from the odourless soil.

When he sits down to break his fast after a period, albeit a short one, of deprivation of these blessings, he better grasps the value of the blessings in front of him.

With the month of Ramadan, he once again remembers that Allah (swt) could have created only a single form of sustenance for us- if He so desired; and that, it could have been bitter, tasteless and dull in colour- much like the soil that produced it- but that because of Allah’s (swt) compassion and love for His servants, all foods possess their own incomparable tastes and esthetic appearances.

In this way, his submission and humility in the face of the manifestation of the titles of Allah (swt) as the All-Merciful and Most Merciful also grow.

As we again experience this great joy of the month of Ramadan, a month that increases our powers of reflection, and enables us to acquire many spiritual delights; and that allows us to enhance our closeness to Allah (swt) and to show, in a determined manner, the love and passion we feel for Him in our hearts. We also remember our brothers in faith who are being oppressed all over the world.

We remember the innocent people of the Middle East rocked by strife and affliction, under siege and bombardment; we remember our brothers subjected to persecution, slaughter, and mistreatment; and the threat of genocide in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Kashmir, East Turkestan, Pathani, Moro, Crimea and many other parts of the world.

We remember the importance of union, and unity- if they are to be saved. The images of innocent people wiped out by bombs, and machine guns, and of the bodies of children laid out in rows- never escape our memories.

We think of and pray for them at every Iftar meal; and once again, reaffirm our intentions to do all in our power to speed the coming of Islamic Unity in order that they may be saved.

Our wish is that our Almighty Lord will answer our prayers. As Muslims- with a passionate love of Allah (swt)- we fast with the love for Him, and break our fasts with the love for Him.

May He bestow salvation on our innocent brothers whom we never forget for a moment. May He make the Earth a place where the divisions and disputes of the Islamic world are set aside, and all Muslims embrace each other.

May the bloodshed cease- as quickly as possible; may the sufferings of the Ummah — and all mankind — come to an end; and may peace and security prevail. Ameen.

A Ramadan when Muslims don’t fight Muslims

 

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                                                      http://www.muslimmirror.com

 

 

‘Ramadan Mubarak’ to all the Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. I pray to my Lord that, this holy month which encompasses the Night of Qadr, the Night when the Quran, the guide to all of humanity was sent down, and which is as Allah (swt) said,,

The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).”

(Al-Qadr 97:3) This month will bring peace, happiness and welfare to the entire Islamic world Insha’Allah.

The holy month of Ramadan carries so many beauties and blessings, and it would be almost impossible to list them all here. In this sacred month, Muslims throughout the vast Islamic geography become united, put behind the resentments from the past and embrace the feelings of brotherhood, alliance, love, compassion and affection

. The poor and the needy are taken care of through the Iftar gatherings; and the aid of charity organizations and benefactors, creating a blessed environment for all the parties involved.

The month of Ramadan has very positive effects on people’s souls. The crime rates drastically drop during this month in the Muslim world. Many avoid telling lies, committing sins, and shun any activities that Allah (swt) wouldn’t approve of. They feel more empowered, and inspired to think and act better. Fasting makes them ponder upon matters that they never gave a thought to before, and this creates a fear of God Allah (swt), and a longing for the Hereafter in their hearts. They get closer to religion, and many of them continue to live a more devout and sincere life even after Ramadan ends. Therefore, Ramadan is a month of endless blessings and goodness.

However, the Islamic world has started this Ramadan amidst wars, conflicts and poverty. We started last Ramadan by praying that all the pains, suffering and wars that the innocent people of the Islamic world had to endure would end soon. This year, Muslims are facing even bigger difficulties. In the Middle East particularly, brothers have turned against brothers and Muslims are fighting Muslims. Innocent people are being killed for no reason, forced out of their homes and countries, our historical heritage is being destroyed and things escalate further with every passing day.

However, our Lord said in the fourth verse of Surah As-Saff, “Verily, Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in rows (ranks) as if they were a solid structure.” (As-Saff 61:4); and He made it very clear that it is an obligation for Muslims to be united.

Muslims are the guardians of each other, and as they are the friends of Allah (swt), the helpers of Allah (swt), they have the sublime moral values to bring peace and justice to the world. It is for this reason that Muslims need to love, embrace and help each other.

It is important that Muslims fail the plot of Satan immediately to bring an atmosphere of unity and love to the Muslim world- regardless of any ethnic, racial, sectarian, or other differences. Our Lord said, “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves…” (Al-Imran 3:103); and ordered Muslims to be united, help, love and cooperate with each other, and intellectually disperse the evil results of hostility.

Allah (swt) created destiny, and He showed us the way of salvation. The only thing we need to do is follow His words, and bring love and compassion to the Islamic world. Allah (swt) commanded Muslims to set aside all their differences; and love and help each other. We pray that this Ramadan will be a month when Muslims stop pointing guns at each other, and foil the plot of  Satan by extinguishing  the fires of hostility and strife; and becoming more loving, compassionate, understanding, and reasonable towards each other.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com

 

In Spotlight: Fiqh of Social Media

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In this exclusive interview with Hiba Magazine, Br Omar Usman, founding member of MuslimMattersQalam InstituteMuslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims, talks about his project, Fiqh of Social Media (http://fiqhofsocial.media/). Brother Omar is a regular khateeb and has also served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations.

1. For people who haven’t yet heard of it, what exactly is Fiqh of Social Media? It’s a blog, it’s an e-book, it’s definitely a fantastic idea to address pressing issues related to social media… but how would you define it?

Social media has transformed our lives within the span of a couple of years. It’s like it crept up on us when we weren’t looking, and now we are trying to figure out how to deal with it. Fiqh of Social Media is a niche project under the guidance of Qalam Institute, and the goal really is to provide guidance on how to use our faith to navigate this new era. With that in mind we do have the ebook and blog, and we hope to develop more material in the future insha’Allah.

2. How did Fiqh of Social Media come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

The internet and social media has always fascinated me in general. I made my first website about 20 years ago when I was barely 13 years old, and was making Islamic websites in university. There is no singular inspiration point, but over the years I have been keenly aware of how these new technologies are affecting us – religiously and with our families.

It’s always bugged me that the Muslim community seems to be behind one step technology wise. When the world shifted to CD’s, we were still producing audio cassettes. When the world shifted to the mp3 age, we started producing Qur’an recitations on CD’s. Social networks now have impacted us in ways we can’t imagine.

When I was growing up, it was considered rude to take a phone call at dinnertime. If someone called, you would answer and tell them you would call them back after dinner was over. Now, many families can’t eat a single meal without everyone being attached to a device.

Our Islamic tradition is timeless and contains the solutions to these pains and problems we face – I feel it is at the point where there needs to be a dedicated resource for this.

3. Initially, what were your aims & objectives? And have they changed over time with social media’s evolution?

We are at the first time in human history where people have an abundance of relationships, but no friendships. We are able to connect with thousands of people we could not before. Before, people had to wait and clear a gate keeper to get on TV, publish a book, or even write an editorial to the paper. Now anyone can have a platform. This opens a lot of doors – but it’s an entirely new situation that raises a lot of questions. For example, how do we understand Islamic principles of friendship in an age where people have 5,000 friends on Facebook?

The aim for me has always been to connect these dots. What are the Islamic principles, and how do they apply to social media? What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition? Those are the basic aims. What has evolved, though, is that connecting these dots is branching out into a number of subjects I never even imagined.

What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition?

4. What is the current vision of Fiqh of Social Media?

To provide thought leadership in this area. It’s not just Muslims struggling with these issues. In fact, most of the materials I am finding are from secular sources. So there is definitely a huge problem here; I want to spread the message of how our faith addresses these issues.

5. Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything? Also, is this a one-man show or do you have a team working with you?

I wish I had a team. Right now it is a one-man show. The primary content mechanism is the email list, so I do my best to send out at least 2-3 newsletters a month.

6. You write on things people at times don’t even think of, like Food Instagramming. What kind of response do you receive on such blog articles? Are people receptive or they lash out?

Alhumdulillah the response is really positive. In the case of this article specifically I wasn’t expecting backlash – particularly because I was criticizing and analyzing my own photos (as opposed to someone else’s). A lot of items like this one are things that everyone notices, I just happened to take the observation one step further and write the article.

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

7. Your content and ebook is all free – how do you arrange funding?

Alhumdulillah most of the cost at this point is nominal (it’s just a couple of dollars a month) so it has not been an issue.

8. What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to get your book 40 Hadiths on Social Media formally published (in print)?

So right now there are 2 major projects being worked on. The first is an online course that is specifically for parents and how to manage social media with their kids. This will cover a number of things like kids being addicted to screens to how to reclaim family dinner time.

The second project is a formal book on the Fiqh of Social Media. This is a larger and more comprehensive undertaking so it will take some time. Please make dua Allah (swt) grants tawfiq to both projects.

9. How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

The best thing is to subscribe to the email list at http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith – When they do this they will receive a copy of the 40 hadith as well as the new articles I am writing. The best way to help is to simply reply to those emails with your feedback. The hardest part about a project like this is understanding which material is useful or helpful, or how it resonates. So really if I had one wish, it would just be that people not just read the material, but let me know what they thought of it.

10. Any message for the Ummah

That is a really tough question. I’ll offer the advice here that I feel I need most for myself and that is simply to make more Dua to Allah (swt). It is so simple but cannot be emphasized enough.

18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

11. Any message for Hiba’s readers in particular.

I would say just be careful. The internet is forever. Even things like Snapchat where your photos are supposed to get deleted are not that private. 18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

12. Anything else you would like to share.

Jazakallahu khayr for doing this interview. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts with this magazine!

Brands to Boycott – With Alternatives

Back in 2012, in line with the information provided on Innovative Minds, Hiba Magazine circulated a flyer titled “Brands to Boycott” which provided a list of companies that heavily invest in Israel and also contribute to its economy. This list provided some handy alternatives, especially for Pakistani-based readers. With the current conflict in Gaza, we are again providing this list for those who feel helpless in the face of the situation and wish to do something to support their Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine.

If you are one of those who wonder whether boycotting is fruitful, we encourage you to check out an excellent article by our writer, Lamya Almas: Is Boycotting Fruitful?

There is another one titled: Shopping can kill.

The list is as follows (courtesy Innovative Minds)

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To find out why these companies are on this list, visit http://www.inminds.com/boycott-israel-2012.php

Another list circulated by Christian Science Monitor mentions the following well-known brands on the boycott list:

  1. P&G Pampers
  2. Victoria’s Secrets
  3. Volvo
  4. Intel
  5. Motorola
  6. Hewlett-Packard (HP)
  7. McDonalds

Alternatives for those who are based in Pakistan

Pasta: Kolson / Bake Parlour / Crispo

Milk  / Flavoured Milk: Olpers / Good Milk / Haleeb / Millac / Pakola Milk

Powdered Milk: Millac / Haleeb Skimz / Nutra Mil / Skimillac

Coffee: Coffee Break / Brazo

Instant Noodles: Shoop / Knorr / Indomie

Tea: Tapal / Kohinoor / Standard’s Prime Tea / Vital tea

Cooking Oil: Habib / Sunlight / Meezan / Seasons / Sufi / Eva / Coroli / Soya Supreme / Canolive

Soaps: Breeze / Capri / Tibet / Sufi Bath Soap / Bodyguard

Shampoo: Bio Amla / Medicam / Dabur Amla

Detergents: Sufi Soap Vermicelli / Pak Surf

Washing soaps: Safon Detergent Bar / Safon Detergent Liquid

Dish-washing soap: Safon dish-washing bar (Sufi), Aan soap

Soft Drinks: Pakola / Gourmet Cola

Toothpaste: Hamdard / Dentonic / English / Soda White / Dabur / Shield

Ice-cream: Igloo / Omore / Hico / Iceberg

Personal care products: Saeed Ghani / Olivia / Care / English / Tibet / Etude / Avon

Dairy products: Haleeb / Nurpur / Olpers /

Electronics: Waves / Millat / Super Asia / Pak Fan / Toshiba / Sony / Hitachi / LG / Mitsubishi / Samsung (printers)

Yoghurt: Al-Marai / Millac Yoghurt

Mineral Water: Eva / Pakola’s Vital / Sufi / Qarshi’s Springley / Osloo

Custard, Jelly and Jell-O: Happy Home / Delve Desserts

Juices and Instant Drinks: Maaza / Sunsip / Frooto / Tropico

Candies: Candyland / Hilal

Baby Products: Shield Blessings / Mothercare / Susu

Diapers: Canbebe / Susu / Diapy / EQ /

Toothbrushes / Mouthwash: Shield Products

Readers and local companies are requested to add to this list for public benefit.

We have tried our best to ensure that the above list is correct as of July 12, 2014. If you find any error in it, please email us at editor@hibamagazine.com and it will be corrected, Insha’Allah!

My Family on Fire!

unityImagine waking up one morning to the horror of finding your loved ones brutally killed. All of them, one by one, were slain like carrots. In every room that you peek – your brothers’, sisters’, parents’ and children’s – you find they’ve been tortured, heartlessly massacred and mutilated. What will be your reaction? Will you sit still? Or stay utterly optimistic that you will be spared? Or you won’t have time to think about them and you’ll just have breakfast and go about your daily routine like you always do? Or will you be cowardly and evasive, giving excuses that you can’t do anything?

If you think this is just a fictitious scenario, you’re wrong! Step out of the shell covering you – ‘my life and my world’ – and look around! A sister in Iraq, a brother in Palestine, a father in Philippines, a mother in Syria, a brother in Afghanistan, a son in Burma, a cousin in Xinjiang (China), another in North Pakistan, a brother in Yemen, sisters in Somalia, friends in Algeria, an aunt in Egypt… and so many others in the persecuted Muslim lands. My family, your family is on fire! Yes, they are our family!

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “In their mutual love, mercy and compassion, the believers are like one body: if one organ complained, the rest of the body develops a fever.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Do you feel for them, pray for them and shed tears for them, like you would have for a family member? Have you done anything practical to aid and support them?

Do give this a thought and draft an action plan, for on the Day of Judgment, you will be answerable before Allah Almighty (swt), the Judge. Do prepare an answer! Today is all you have.

Motivation for the Muslims (Part 1)

bigstock-motivational-concept-got-mot-30228101Any definition of a psychological process or concept is the result of the author’s perception. Even when a researcher carefully collects data and analyses it sincerely and objectively, that analysis is based on the researcher’s paradigm or perception. This is the reason why a definition given by a Western psychologist cannot be applied to the Muslim population because Western rationality and perception is based on assumptions that are completely different from the Muslim belief system. Therefore, it is extremely important to sieve the definitions and theories, coming from Western sources through the Quran and Sunnah and then accept, apply or reject them.

“In human perception, all experience is subjective and hence coloured by individual perceptions, as well as by unconscious motives. We can be certain that reports of our senses will be slightly distorted, viewed through individual prisms that have been shaped by unique genetic structures and cultural experiences.” (Kottler and Shepard129).

MOTIVATION

Western psychologists define the concept of motivation in several different ways. Some of the definitions are given below for analysis.

“Motivation is something that energizes, directs and sustains behaviour; it gets students moving, points them in a particular direction and keeps them going.” (Ormrod 472).

Motivation is… an internal state that arouses, directs and maintains behaviour.” (Woolfolk372).

Motivation is a force that energizes, directs, and maintains behaviour.” (Steers and Porter, 1975).

I on the other hand prefer to define motivation as:

“… an internal awakening that guides actions over a short or an extended period of time towards a goal.” (Waqar19).

TYPES OF MOVITATION

Traditionally, motivation is divided into two basic types, intrinsic and extrinsic.

For Muslims, however, both of these types will make all their efforts go awry.

Extrinsic Motivation

If a Muslim works solely to please a human being, be it the boss, teacher, parent, elder sibling, a relative or any other important person, the work will be labeled as ‘Riyaa’ or showing off because the intention was wrong.

The Prophet Muhammad (sa)said, “The one who prays and wants people to see him has committed shirk. The one who fasts and wants the people to know about his fasting has committed shirk. The one who gives Sadaqah (charity) and wants people to know about his charity has committed shirk.”

“O Allah! I seek refuge with you from associating partners with you knowingly and I seek your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.” (Bukhari) “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.  And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa 4:142)

Ar-riyaa is the minor shirk for which the Prophet (sa) warned that it is like the black ant on the black rock in a moonless night. So, extrinsic motivation cannot be a Muslim’s target. This is why the companions were very careful about their intentions.

Hazrat Ali (rta) was fighting a Kafir in one of the battles. During the battle Hazrat Ali knocked him down and raised his sword to kill him. As soon as the Kafir knew that he was going to be killed he spat in Hazrat Ali’s face, so immediately Hazrat Ali left him and went on his way. He was later asked, “Why did you leave him when Allah clearly gave you power over him?!”  Hazrat Ali replied, “I was fighting him for the sake of Allah, and when he spat in my face I feared that if I killed him, it would have been out of personal revenge and spite.”

If a Muslim aims for a material gain, the deed or action will still go wasted.

“Actions are (judged) by motives (Niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (Hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing that he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight … are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause , then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqun (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah). (At-Taubah 9:24)

Unfortunately, Muslim kids, who are born on the Fitrah, are trained to be motivated to please important others around them or are bribed to do things or perform actions. From the very beginning they are directed to a skewed course.

Intrinsic Motivation

For intrinsic motivation let’s study the following hadith:

“Knowledge from which no benefit is derived is like a treasure out of which nothing is spent in the cause of God.” (Tirmidhi)

Acquiring knowledge is an inherently noble pursuit. But the hadith tells us that one should pursue knowledge only if it is beneficial for the learner and the humanity at large. The knowledge when spent for the benefit of the Muslim community becomes a source of seeking Allah’s pleasure otherwise it is worthless and not worth being pursued.

Allah (swt) has taught us supplications for it as well.


اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِك مِنْ عِلْمٍ لا يَنْفَعُ، وَقَلْبٍ لَا يَخْشَعُ، وَدُعَاءٍ لَا يُسْمَعُ، وَنفْسٍ لَا تَشْبَعُ

Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from knowledge that does not benefit and from a heart that does not fear and from a supplication that is not heard and from a self that is not satisfied.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ لَا يَنْفَعُ

Oh Allah, I ask of You beneficial knowledge and I seek refuge in you from knowledge that does not benefit.

Thus we will not pursue knowledge just for the sake of it or just because we like acquiring it. We will do it only for its usefulness. Thus doing anything just because we enjoy doing it is not a way a Muslim thinks. A Muslim’s decisions are centred and are laid down by the principles of Allah and his messenger Muhammad (sa). A Muslim does not base his actions on his personal desires or whims.

(To be continued…)

[Infograph] Jannah-Focused Muslims

Here is a concise infograph detailing the characteristics of Jannah-focused and legacy driven Muslims. Image is courtesy Islamographic.com and here, it is posted with their consent. Do share with others, also!

JannahFocused

 

Review: Western Muslims and the Future of Islam

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Do they forge a new identity for themselves and their children or do they adhere almost to the pint of obstinacy to their ‘home’ culture?

 “…taking into account the social, cultural and political realities Muslims are facing, three questions are fundamental and urgently demand precise answers if we are to build a future for ourselves in the West: Where are we? Who are we? And in what way do we want to belong ?”

This book speaks not only to the future generation of Muslims who find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, their parents’ culture and western culture, but is a beacon of reformist thought that will appeal to Muslims in every situation.

Let’s face it, there is no longer a Dar ul Islam, so Muslims must refashion and rethink their stand on several issues. Ramadan offers new understanding and interpretation of what it means to be a Muslim, in a non-Islamic environment. He offers the principle of justice as the beacon that should guide our development as an Ummah, not our cultural bias which only leads us to withdraw into our shells.

“If for example Muslims in the West are called upon to participate in a war that is unjust and based solely on the desire for power of control (of territory, interests, other people), they should not…take part…they should under the ‘conscience clause’ plead ‘conscientious objection’…many people have pleaded this conscientious objection throughout history…”

Later in the book, Ramadan talks about how Muslims must and should integrate into mainstream society, obviously keeping in mind not to violate Islamic tenets. In this new context, interpreted keeping in mind that practising Muslims are a minority in most countries, they must participate fully in the civic life of the societies they call home. Western Muslims and the Future of Islam moulds a fresh Muslim Identity, one that refutes the idea that there is a Clash of Civilizations according to Huntington.

This book intelligently argues that Muslims in the 21st century must focus on ‘an Independent western Islam’ that is not held down by traditions rooted in culture, but should be lightened by Islam’s own traditions and the reality of living in the West (or other countries that are not traditionally Muslim).

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam is divided into two parts, the first part has an introduction with four chapters, and the second part includes six chapters and a conclusion. The introduction is a must read to understand the book and the methodology Ramadan used in deriving his conclusions. He has used traditional sources such as Quran and Ahadith, and interpreted them in the light of Western culture. The best part of the book is the way traditional problems that Muslims perceive are thought of as benefits in establishing a new identity at par with Islamic traditions. Isolation as a method to keep ‘our children safe’ is not acceptable any longer.

A book worth reading, even if I do not agree with all of its premises, I do like that it opened my mind to a new way of approaching and raising my kids, and living as a Muslim in Canada. No longer is the ostrich approach viable, it is time to venture where no Muslim has ventured before. May Allah give us Imaan.

Review: Islam and the Arab Awakening

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The Arab Spring began with a fruit vendor, a highly educated university graduate forced to sell fruit out of a cart on Tunisia’s streets, who burned himself in protest of unemployment and poverty in December 2010. This was the spark and soon the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region was on fire.

This revolt masquerading as a revolution began in Tunisia,overthrew Mubarak in Egypt and now Morsi, led to a Libyan civil war that saw Gaddhafi killed, massacre in Syria of innocents by Bashar al Asad, demonstrations in Bahrain, and elsewhere. Tariq Ramadan expertly takes the reader on a journey from how this internet revolution was actually masterminded by the West, how they cannot completely control the direction it has taken and what could result – explore the Arab Spring, its beginning, significance and consequence in a well written, impeccably referenced and insightful manner.

Islam and the Arab Awakening consists of four chapters, an introduction and a conclusion. Ramadan tells us that as early as 2003, the West offered training to young protesters already on social media about how to start peaceful movements using this platform.

“The uprisings that swept the Arab world did not come from nowhere. As early as 2003…there had been talk of democratization in the MENA zone. It had…become…Bush’s key argument for intervention in Iraq. One year later MENA cyber-dissidents were signing up for training courses in non-violent protest. Institutions funded by American administration…organized lectures…and set up networks that would provide training…in the use of the Internet and social networks.”

We read further on that in Egypt’s case Google provided satellite codes for internet access after the government shut down the internet, however in Syria Google was not so cooperative, why? Mubarak was on his way out, the US needed a new ally, Bashar al Asad is still useful? The first chapter “Made to order uprisings?” raises many such questions. Chapter two, “Cautious optimism” analyzes how the future cannot be controlled or predicted, and how the West didn’t account for young Muslims to try and provide a self-made solution, true to Islam and their culture. They do not want an imported democracy – one a media informs us will bring the ‘Arab world’ into the 21st century. ‘Islam, Islamism, Secularization’, debates the very premise of what this new wave means. Ramadan talks about the Arabs being absorbed into a Western alter ego. Arabs reject secularism, but the Islamist parties have offered nothing viable either. Finally chapter four talks about “The Islamic reference”. Ramadan calls for Arab Muslims to draw upon “cultural capital” to produce “something new, something original”. He denounces the dictatorships that have starved progress in all fields.

“A genuine, tangible process of reform, democratization and liberation cannot take place without a broad based social movement that mobilizes civil society as well as public and private institutions. It is precisely here that the reference to Islam assumes…an immediate, imperative and constructive meaning.”

Islam has the answer, we need to overlook our differences and work together. “The Arab world had shaken itself out of its lethargy.” This line begins the conclusion; let’s see what the future holds. The promise is there, the system (Islam) is in place, all that is needed is someone to follow it.