Muslim blogs

The Tampon Tax: Bleeding Us Dry

The Platform - Mon, 30/11/2015 - 17:55

George Osborne’s condescending solution to the tampon tax misses the point


In last week’s Autumn Statement to parliament, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the £15 million raised by the UK ‘luxury tax’ on sanitary products will go towards funding women’s charities.

On the surface, the benefit of this announcement felt inarguable. As a feminist and a passionate supporter of women’s rights, how could I oppose a £15 million investment in women’s health charities and support services? How could I oppose anything that would financially sustain excellent causes dealing with the domestic abuse such as The Eve Appeal, SafeLives, Women’s Aid and The Haven? Yet as a menstruating woman, burdened economically by a ConDem student loan, I refuse to see the chancellor’s logic in forcing women to fund their own support structures.

What the ‘tampon tax’ debacle really illustrates is not a chancellor, hands tied by bilateral EU laws, offering the best possible solution to benefit women. It illustrates a chancellor conflating two separate issues affecting women, and contemptibly refusing to acknowledge the deficit in funding for women’s services created by the government’s relentless gendered agenda of austerity.

Behind the self-satisfied jeering and backslapping of the Tory frontbenches and the gesture politics of the Autumn Statement 2015 is the real suffering of women unable to access the services whose funds have been slashed by this government. Women are being bled dry by the state when vital support services lose funding, when the budgets are cut for local government authorities, when 32 refuges for women have been closed down since 2010, and when up to 150 women a day are being turned away by full to capacity refuges.

Women live in a world where one in four will be the victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes. We live in a country in which two women are killed each week by a current or former partner. For many women, access to domestic violence services, refuges, counselling and care are the difference between life and death. Wednesday’s announcement on the tampon tax distracts conversation away from these issues and the severe underfunding of women’s services by the government, and seeks to erase the hand it has played in further threatening the lives and safety of women.

Not only does Osborne’s £15 million redirection of funds do very little to redress the truly devastating effects of government cuts on women, the continuance of the tampon tax threatens both our finances and our dignity. The average menstruating female will spend £18,000 in her lifetime on sanitary products. For some of society’s most vulnerable women, this economic imposition makes their use an impossibility.

As news broke that the tampon tax would not be cut, my Facebook feed filled with friends – women’s officers at my university – stating their intention to collect tampons to donate to local homeless shelters and food banks. This reflects a wider trend with campaigns such as The Homeless Period project, which collects donations of tampons and other sanitary products for homeless women. Essential help for vulnerable women has often come from the self-sustained, tireless work of women’s organisations and charities, as well as the kindness and donations of strangers. And yet much of this has sprung up where the government has refused to act to support women in their budgets.

As someone who always seeks to champion and aid women’s health and support charities, I donate to the Maya Centre which provides free long-term counselling and psychological assistance to some of the most vulnerable women in Islington, North London. But the survival of institutions like the Maya Centre – which aids female victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the recovery and rebuilding of their lives – is dependent on a government commitment to a long-term economic strategy to protect and invest in these vital organisations. Osborne’s £15 million barely scratches the surface. Moreover, the economic subjugation of women through a continuance of taxing tampons to fund women’s charities highlights how the government is willing to shirk responsibility in not offering legitimate channels of funding to these life-saving services for women.

If I have to pay a tampon tax, of course I would rather that revenue went to helping vulnerable women. Yet as Labour MP Jess Phillips reportedly shouted as Osborne’s plans were announced, “You’re not paying it George, I am!” While all of us need to be active in supporting these causes, the ultimate responsibility to protect the lives and safety of women lies not with the tax-paying, tampon-buying female – but with the government. The blood is on the government’s hands as long as it refuses to offer properly structured and extensive funding for women’s support organisations, as long as services are closed and women are turned away from refuges due to lack of resources. They cut, we bleed.

Image from:

Categories: Muslim blogs

Trapped in John Lewis at Christmas

The Platform - Sat, 28/11/2015 - 17:41

Wiping your tears with one hand, swiping your wallet with the other


Do you remember that John Lewis Christmas advert a few years ago? You know the one. There was a bear and a hare, and a big frozen lake. And at night all the animals would skate and dance on the frozen lake. Except the bear. He would sit in his cave, looking down at his big clumsy paws, and out at the hare having so much fun. And there was a sparse, delicate piano, caressed by the cutesy, vulnerable voice of Ellie Goulding, or someone like that: “We get it almost every night / When the moon is big and bright / It’s a supernatural delight.”

As a clock strikes midnight – Christmas – and all the animals exchange gifts and dance and skate and embrace, we find the bear once again sat in his cave, alone, with a tear forming in the corner of his eye. Suddenly, the hare pops his head round the corner, bearing a gift: a pair of shining-new, bear-sized ice skates. The piano expands and Ellie Goulding’s voice rises from a whisper to a whine. Euphoric. “Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight.” The bear and the hare look into each other’s eyes, then skate off to join the party.

Okay, I may well have imagined it. But it will probably be next year’s one. During The X-factor of 2016, you’re likely to see a five-second teaser advert with a frozen lake glistening in the moonlight. “#FrozenLake”. Everyone will say, “Now it’s Christmas,” and, “John Lewis is Christmas!”

You see, the public don’t even have to think of their own hashtag when the full advert drops, because social media will take care of distribution, and John Lewis can pay less to television broadcasters for advertising. The £7 million John Lewis spent on each of their last three Christmas ad campaigns is good value considering Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S each spent around £20 million on less effective rip-offs last year. All advertisers are shrewd and manipulative by definition, but John Lewis, better than anyone, shroud this trait in a cloud of sentimentality — and it is this that the big retailers are imitating.

With advertising company Adam & Eve DDB, John Lewis have shifted the whole style of Christmas advertising from selling specific products to inspiring trust in the brand, through what Craig Inglis, their marketing director, describes as “telling a story and making the emotional connection”.

To make that “emotional connection” John Lewis focus on loneliness: from a bear who has always spent Christmas alone, to a penguin who has no one to love. Loneliness has become a hot topic in recent years, from research indicating that loneliness has become an epidemic among young people, to the UK being named loneliness capital of Europe, and, on 3rd November, this Channel 4 News report on loneliness among the elderly going viral.

Just three days following  the report, John Lewis released their new Christmas ad, about an old man on the moon, isolated and alone. The ad helps raise awareness for Age UK – a fantastic charity battling loneliness in the elderly. While John Lewis recognise that the elderly are especially vulnerable, and that they draw the most sympathy, they also recognise that we all experience loneliness to some degree. Especially in the cold winter months, when we shut ourselves away and watch the John Lewis advert and empathise with that old man, and absorb the gospel of John Lewis. So when we buy great gifts from John Lewis we will feel so much more connected, so much more loved, and on Christmas day, we won’t wake up with the crippling sense of loneliness that accompanies each and every other day of the year.

“Scrooge!” you shout. “At least John Lewis convey a good, moral message. They use their advertisement to help a noble charity.” No, they use a noble charity to help their advertisement. They exploit the public’s good will and insecurities to make money.  In 1953, Mrs Santa Claus and Sexism were used to sell ironing boards; in 2008, Kerry Catona and Modern Celebrity were used to sell frozen food; and in 2015, Age UK and Insecurity are used to sell whatever it is John Lewis actually sell. Using Age UK to pull on people’s heartstrings is no less shameless than having Kerry Catona shove products down people’s throats. Christmas fell to consumerism decades ago; John Lewis aren’t trying to make things better, just make the honey trap look sweeter.

Over the next month, with pressure growing and time shrinking, I will spend my spare moments stressing over what would make good, thoughtful gifts, that will bring the family closer together on Christmas day. At 1pm on the 23rd December, three hours before my train home, I will be stood on Oxford Street with an empty bag over my shoulder, drenched in rain, bent double from guilt, delirious from stress.

What am I going to do? Why can’t I think of anything? “Oh God! … John Lewis!” In my head I will hear a sparse, delicate piano and a cutesy, vulnerable voice: “Dancing in the moonlight.” I will go to John Lewis, because John Lewis is Christmas! It will cost a fortune. I’m skint. But what option do I have? I can’t look like a bad son, and I don’t want to feel like a bad uncle, or upset my stepparents. Everyone knows my older, more organised, more thoughtful sister will give better presents than me, but they can’t be too much better. And I need to get her something, obviously. And her husband. And the dog. And … Well, there is no alternative. Christmas is about giving; that’s what the Bible says. I think. It’s definitely what John Lewis says, and who cares what the Bible says anyhow — John Lewis is god now. You can’t escape that. You’re trapped. See you there on the 23rd. I will be the one torn between anxiety and resentment, humming a mournful cover of Toploader.

Image from:

Categories: Muslim blogs

Brazil: The Other Half of the Orange

The Platform - Tue, 24/11/2015 - 10:16

The orange juice supply chain is an index of the development dilemma in Brazil


For many years now, giant orange juice producers Cutrale, Citrosuco and Louis Dreyfus have been engaged in heated, costly legal battles with Brazil’s Public Prosecutor’s Office. Their confrontation is a prime example of the dilemmas Brazilian society experiences today. It also serves as a memento of how thorny an equation emerging democratic countries have to face: they need to develop the country and protect social rights and the environment, while remaining highly competitive on a global scale. Finding the best way to solve this puzzle is one of the main challenges for Brazil.

The first piece of the puzzle is the new socio-political climate of Brazil. Since the return to democratic rule in the country and the enactment of the new 1988 constitution, a much more politically conscious population has increased its demands for effective legal entitlement. In this context, human rights and the right to a healthy environment have become particularly prominent. In tandem with such demands, government institutions such as the Labour Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPT in Portuguese) have been given extensive powers of investigation to hold both public officials and private actors accountable for offences in these areas.

The active role MPT has played in overseeing the labour conditions in three major orange juice companies is characteristic of this new mindset and the value Brazilians place in making rights count. Since 2000, MPT has started around 200 proceedings against Cutrale, 43 against Louis Dreyfus and 126 against Citrosuco. Together, these companies have recently been sentenced to a fine of R$ 455 million (around US$ 120 million) for violation of labour laws. More procedures are said to be forthcoming. MPT’s efforts have considerable popular support and signal a widespread desire to set clear rules for corporate activities, making sure that workers and the environment are protected.

The second piece of the puzzle is economic. The task of combining macroeconomic stability with social-environmental fairness only grows more difficult when economic activity slows down. This is especially true if agribusiness is staple to the economy as a whole, and indeed is the case Brazil faces today.

Agroindustry accounted for 23.3 per cent of Brazil’s GDP in 2014 and for 43 per cent of the country’s total exports. Orange juice is a key component in this sector. When MPT and producers come to the negotiation table, everybody is aware that the labour and ecological concerns of regulation have to find a way to co-exist with the economic rationale of business. Given the dire economic situation of the country, the Brazilian administration is wary of seriously antagonising some of its largest exporters.

This is understandable. After a decade of impressive economic and social gains, which catapulted Brazil to the fore of world attention, the country is witnessing a fast-paced deterioration of its socio-economic forecast. GDP is expected to drop by 2.7 per cent in 2015 with an inflation of over 9 per cent. Unemployment has reached 8.3 per cent in the third quarter, the highest rate since 2012.

To make things even more difficult, President Dilma Rousseff has seen her popularity plummet. A recent poll has shown that only 10 per cent of Brazilians approve of Dilma’s administration while 69 per cent consider it to be “bad or very bad” for the country. This is the lowest approval rate ever recorded in Brazil and has considerably hindered her ability to implement policies and face opponents.

It also makes the president more dependent on tax money for keeping inclusion programs afloat – a must if recent social gains are not to be corroded – and, thus, she is potentially more sensitive to the needs of those, such as the agroindustry, still capable of generating cash in a time of crisis.

On the eve of the of the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris (COP21), Brazil is a much less optimistic country than it was in May 2012 when, at the end of the United Nations conference on sustainable development (Rio+20), the prospects of a bright, ecologically sustainable future seemed well within reach.

However, there may be unseen benefits, and not negligible ones, in the present hardship. Too often the country has embarked in hyperbolic Manichean readings of its future, which was to be either of “absolute success” or “absolute failure” as dictated by the moment. Decades of democratic rule have contributed to the emergence of more nuanced approaches.

More and more, it is recognised that Brazil is facing formidable problems including corruption and poverty, but also that it has the institutions and capacity to deal with them. Part of this is its independent judiciary, sentencing even high profile politicians to jail, demonstrating that popular commitment to greater social inclusion is still strong and freedom of speech is protected.

A more mature approach to the country has also led to a rejection of a crude, shallow-minded opposition to both socio-ecological responsibility and economic growth. The firm response Brazilian institutions have been giving to accusations of foul play in the orange juice supply chain – as well as the political negotiations to end corruption, while respecting commercial concerns – bespeak this new understanding that the road to sustainable, inclusive development is long and bumpy. It also shows that Brazilians have made a commitment to follow it, even in hard times.

Image from:

Categories: Muslim blogs

British Sounds of Autumn… So Far

The Platform - Mon, 16/11/2015 - 08:02

Why you won’t be able to turn off these new albums from British artists 


The leaves are falling. The nights are getting longer. Christmas is around the corner. John Lewis has released their new divisive festive advert. It can only mean one thing: autumn is here.

But this time, the season joyfully coincides with the return of the all-conquering Adele to the musical fold, whose huge track ‘Hello’ has been covered countless times already. The spotlight is, once again, shining heavily on the British music scene.

Three bands have released albums this season that may not get the fanfare of Adele’s eagerly anticipated release, but certainly deserve some recognition. Rival Consoles’ ethereal electronica, Sexwitch and their blend of hybrid psych folk, and Chain of Flowers’ angry, harmonious take on post-punk.


Rival Consoles – Howl

River Consoles, aka Ryan Lee West, was the first signing to London-based electronic label Erased Tapes. West coaxes strange and otherworldly noises from synthesisers, which sound both human and atmospheric. He has honed his craft through a series of albums and EPs that have seen him quietly become one of the cornerstones of British electronica.

The electronic producer’s third album Howl is filled with reflective, layered soundscapes. ‘Pre’ is the highlight of the record , sneaking in and taking over your stream of thought through repeated listens, and reminiscent of early Boards of Canada.

The staccato drums and slow-building piano of ‘Low’ combine with lush electronics to culminate in an alluring wall of noise. The slinky groove and quirky bleeps of ‘Morning Vox’ can’t help but put a smile on your face.

‘Afterglow’ and ‘Howl’ are two of Rival Consoles’ more club-friendly productions, and although they may not have been created with the dancefloor in mind, they wouldn’t sound out of place there either.

Rival Consoles has the sensibilities of a classical composer, which when coupled with his in-depth knowledge of synths, creates a stark yet life-affirming record.

Best Track: ‘Pre’ is undoubtedly the highlight. Let it take hold with its enveloping melody.


Sexwitch – Sexwitch

A record comprising six covers of 1970s folk and psych songs from far-flung corners of the earth by two diverse British acts shouldn’t work on paper. But somehow it does indeed come together to form a beguiling but thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Sexwitch are a supergroup of sorts. Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes and the Brighton indie band Toy combine to make a surprisingly refreshing EP. Lead single ‘Helelyos’, originally performed by Iranian funk performer Zia, is a pulsating journey thanks to Toy’s hypnotic grooves that blend effortlessly with Khan’s otherworldly vocals.

‘Ha Howa Ha Howa’ is a reworking of a traditional Moroccan song by Cheikha Hadda Ouakki. It offers up an addictive tribal rhythm washed with a subtle electronic background. Khan’s effortlessly layered vocals bring the song home, creating an alluring arrangement.

The stirring ‘Lam Pleam Kiew Bao’ sees a sensual beat and vocals merge, and Khan cries out “when I die, I’ll go back to where I was” over the relentlessly pounding beat of ‘Kassidat El Hakka’.

Bringing this scintillating collection of rare and unknown Middle Eastern tracks into 2015 was a fine idea. The way that Sexwitch have created something wholly new, ridiculously charming and repeatedly listenable is even better.

Best Track: ‘Kassidat El Hakka’. Why? A pounding beat takes root while Khan’s banshee howl evokes the spirit of the song’s original performer, Abdellah El Magana.


Chain of Flowers – Chain of Flowers

Cardiff six-piece Chain of Flowers have just released their self-titled debut album on Alter, and it’s been a long time coming for the post-punk meets shoegaze troupe. Made over the last two years, Chain of Flowers have built up a stellar reputation on the live circuit and this record encapsulates everything that is visceral and beautiful in the band whenever they step on stage.

‘Crisis’ is brutal, lovely and jangly all at once. All six members shout “crisis” as the fraught, intense percussion takes hold. ‘Glimmers of Joy’ harks back to the heyday of 80s post-punk, once heard from luminary bands such as The Cure and Joy Division.

The whole record feels like it was recorded in a padded cell. A muffled echo seems to hang over the collection, and it makes for a thrilling listen. None more so than on ‘Death’s Got a Hold On Me’, which lifts off from the first second and doesn’t return until the song’s conclusion.

With the band comprising multiple vocalists, each track feels suitably colossal. This is especially true on ‘Follow’ and the nine-minute closer ‘Drained’, which is an apt title, but in the best way possible, for the listener after hearing Chain of Flowers.

This is an album that deserves to be celebrated and should rightly appear near the top of many of the album of the year lists.

Best Track: ‘Crisis’ stands out from the pack with its unrelenting pace and harmonies.

Image from:

Categories: Muslim blogs

This Is Why I Say Poverty Is Created

The Platform - Sat, 14/11/2015 - 12:09

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals do not question the role of human agendas and politics in the rise and spread of poverty


It has become a truism that the word “natural” should no longer be attached to disasters. We are living in the Anthropocene and these are human creations. This is the thought running through my head as I read George Monbiot’s riveting coverage of the fires in Indonesia. He clearly documents that this massive environmental calamity is the direct result of land use policies, fascist regimes and corporate exploitation of natural resources – all of which displace local peoples and create widespread human suffering.

The same is true for poverty.

We never hear how poverty is created.  There is a lot of talk about how it rises and falls, that people get trapped in it, that it is in need of eradication. But no one says who created it. We don’t hear anything about the role of human agendas and work guided by political institutions in the rise and spread of mass poverty throughout the modern era.

Let me step back for a moment and introduce myself. My name is Joe Brewer and I am research director at where our team is engaging in a multi-year effort to reframe global poverty.  The primary tool kit I bring to the table is frame analysis – the use of cognitive linguistics to uncover the hidden assumptions, tacit beliefs and core logics that people bring to their understandings of social issues. This means I study language and show how the meaning-making process of the human mind gives rise to blind spots and misunderstandings about topics that impact the daily lives for millions of people.

Last month, our team coordinated the only organised critique of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We based our approach on a detailed frame analysis I conducted on the guiding documents of the SDG framework. Among the key findings was the observation that poverty itself has been mischaracterised, creating a situation where several of the most basic assumptions guiding the entire process were never clarified or openly debated. As a result, the UN failed to ask the questions  that my analysis reveals to be the most important:


How is poverty created?

Where do poverty and inequality come from? What is the detailed history of past actions and policies that contributed to their rapid ascent in the modern era? When were these patterns accelerated and by whom?

Who’s developing whom?

The story of development is often assumed and unstated. What is the role of colonialism in the early stages of western development? How did the geographic distribution of wealth inequality come into being? What are the functional roles of foreign aid, trade agreements, debt service and tax evasion in the process of development? And most importantly, who gains and who loses along the way?

Why is growth the only answer?

The mantra that “growth is good” has been repeated so often that it has the feel of common sense. Yet we know that GDP rises every time a bomb drops or disaster strikes. Growth, as defined up till now, is more nuanced and complex than this mantra would have us believe. Why must the sole measure of progress be growth, measured in monetary terms? Who benefits from this story? What alternative stories might be told?


These are the questions that guided our campaign (see the full strategy brief for it here). We deliberately chose to ask questions instead of asserting our answers because we realised through prior research that people need to come to their own conclusions about poverty and inequality. The process of critical inquiry is therefore needed for unpacking deeply rooted, yet largely unquestioned, assumptions about the systemic drivers of poverty creation. People need to discover for themselves that economic growth as it occurs today is mostly a process of wealth hoarding through extractive processes. So more growth is just a kind of “smoke and mirrors” for continued poverty creation.

The single biggest problem revealed by my analysis is the complete absence of any discussion about political agendas. As the politics of development are completely removed from discussion in the SDG process, the very premise on which the SDG goals are based lie upon assumptions about power and money, adopted by default without any deliberation or debate. Add to this the myopic focus on growth (measured in monetary terms through unreliable metrics like Gross Domestic Product) as the only solution, and we get the antithesis of sustainability or inclusive economics as a result.

Our analysis reveals a nuanced picture – where many great ideas about gender equality, seeking harmony with the natural world, and efforts to bring human suffering to an end, are prominently included as desired outcomes of this process (showing how civil society organisations really are making contributions in a democratic way). And yet, at the same time, because politics has been removed from discussion, the increasingly unpopular neoliberal agenda remains fully in place. We don’t hear anything about austerity policies, unfair trade agreements, the use of tax havens to hoard wealth, or how corporate influence largely determines economic policy outcomes. These are the “rules” that need to change, yet they are nowhere to be found in the SDG process.

I might describe this as “pre-emptive capture” of politics. I noted in my frame analysis that corporations and banks are not mentioned anywhere. This omission is very telling in its own right. We know that multinational corporations are the most powerful political actors, and that they are profoundly concentrated vehicles for wealth consolidation. So the failure to mention them at all plays out similarly to when US elections fail to mention the influence of Citizens United or the vast network of right-wing think tanks that influence public opinion.

A more meaningful and authentic SDG process for identifying a shared framework for humanity and adopting it worldwide would do two key things differently. First, it would be fully systemic from start to finish. It would not break down issues into silos of distinction (for example, poverty is separate from prosperity; economic health apart from environmental wellness; gender issues separate from ethnic and racial issues; and so forth).

Secondly, agendas would be the central focus of the process.  Who wants to do what? How are they going about doing it? Who are the winners and losers? What does “we” mean in the phrase “future we want”? These are the most important questions. They are political questions, ethical questions and spiritual questions all woven together. The development agenda of 20th-century neoliberalism – as well as prior periods of colonialism and longer-range periods of empire-building – would all come into the fore for active discussion.

There needs to be a truth-and-reconciliation process for global development before it becomes possible to advance a truly sustainable and equitable development trajectory for our fledgling planetary civilisation.

This is why I say poverty is created. Because doing so shines a spotlight on a major blind spot in the development discourse – one that has kept us from seeing the true path to a world without poverty that operates within planetary limits.

Image from: 

Categories: Muslim blogs

Refuting the Idea That A Muslim (Amin al-Husayni) Prompted the Holocaust

Imam Zaid Shakir Blog - Sat, 14/11/2015 - 01:42

Refuting the Idea That A Muslim (Amin al-Husayni) Prompted the Holocaust

Note: This is an excerpt from a longer article I wrote refuting the idea that “Muslims are the new Fascists” and that the prompting of a pro-Nazi Muslim, Amin al-Husayni, led to the Holocaust. This allegation was recently advanced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who subsequently admitted the false nature of his claim in the face of scathing international condemnation.

The shameless allegation that Islam is the new fascism would be bad enough were it presented in isolation. However, it is coupled with allegations that Muslims supported Hitler and the Nazis during World War Two. Such allegations are a foul misrepresentation of the historical record and serve to dishonor the memory of all of the courageous Muslims who selflessly fought and died in defense of the European democracies, even though many of their own lands were still suffering under the yoke of European colonization.

At the heart of these baseless and base allegations is the fact that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, had close ties to the German leader Adolf Hitler, and even spent part of the war in Berlin. While this much is true, al-Husayni’s sentiments were not those of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, to say nothing of the rest of the world’s Muslims. To use al-Husyni’s ties to Hitler as a means to defame and discredit Islam and Muslims as fascists is misleading and has to be challenged. [1]

In fact, there were several Palestinian brigades and tens of thousands of Palestinians in the British Army who actively fought the spread of fascism. [2] The existence of these Palestinian brigades was more indicative of the mood of the Arab and Muslim masses, than al-Husayni’s misguided actions. Therefore, when al-Husayni issued his call for a Muslim “Jihad” against the allied forces his plea was largely ignored. The fascist “Jihad” never materialized.  The reason for that is simple. It had no significant support from the masses of Muslims, particularly, the Palestinians [3]

The Palestinian Muslims were not alone in terms of their participation in the anti-fascist effort. Hundreds of thousands of North and West African Muslims assisted in the liberation of France from the German occupation and the French Vichy government. Upwards to half of the free French forces that landed in southern France in 1944 were Africans, the overwhelming majority of them Muslims. Among their ranks is a group referred to as Senegal’s Secret Soldiers, a group of Senegalese Muslims who played a significant role in the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. [4]

One of this country’s staunchest Muslim allies in the struggle against the fascist menace was the Moroccan king, Muhammad V. He not only worked strenuously to insure that Moroccans supported neither the French Vichy government nor the Nazi effort in North Africa, but he also courageously supported Moroccan Jews during the war years, saving them from extermination at the hands of the Vichy regime. Muhammad V’s effort were so heroic in this latter regard that the Moroccan Jewish community has initiated an effort to have him become the first Arab to receive Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations award. [5]

Further east, hundreds of thousands of Muslims enrolled in the British Indian Army. On January 1, 1945, there were 447,580 Punjabi Muslims in the British Indian Army. This number constituted 32% of the army’s troop strength, a percentage tremendously greater than the percentage of Muslims in the overall Indian population. [6] These Muslim soldiers were deployed in all of the major theaters of battle in the fight against the Axis powers and performed admirably. They were firmly supported by the political leader of the Muslims in India, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, himself a staunch critic of Hitler. [7]

The claim of widespread Muslim support for Hitler is further belied by the fact that Turkey, at that time the strongest independent Muslim nation, maintained strict neutrality for most of the war. When the Turks did enter the war they did so on the side of the Alliance. The Turks broke all diplomatic and economic relations with the Germans in August of 1944, [8] and declared war against Germany, February 23, 1945. [9] These moves were instrumental in the defeat of fascism. Besides the political importance of Turkey’s declaration of war against the Axis forces, her entrance into the war on the side of the Alliance deprived Germany of one of its major supplies of chromite, an essential element in her steel production.

Perhaps the greatest testimony to the Muslims who actively opposed fascism is the work of the Paris Mosque in protecting Jewish children from the Nazis, who were sending French Jews: men, women, and children to perish in the death camps of Eastern Europe. The mosque itself was built by the French government in appreciation of the 500,000 Muslims who had fought for France during World War One, with 100,000 losing their lives in the trenches. It is estimated that the mosque helped to save over 1,700 Jewish children, by providing them with shelter, transit, and Muslim names. [10] Below is a copy of a pamphlet that circulated among Algerian Muslims in Paris at the onset of the Nazis’ campaign against the Jews in France:

  “Yesterday at dawn, the Jews of Paris were arrested. The old,  women, and the children. In exile like ourselves, workers like ourselves. They are our brothers. Their children are like our own children. The one who encounters one of his children must give that child shelter and protection for as long as misfortune - or sorrow - lasts. Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous.” [11]

The full extent of this particular historical chapter is of course much richer than what we have presented here. We cannot allow the effort and sacrifices of our forebears to be buried by an avalanche of propaganda and lies. We have to fight back with the truth. We have to organize to disseminate the truth, and to inform the citizens of this land of who we are as Muslims and the truth about our religion and history. Most importantly, we cannot allow the honor and dignity of our innocent coreligionists, whose sacrifices have enriched humanity, to be trampled on and violated by individuals who have placed themselves in the service of a sinister and nefarious agenda.

Imam Zaid Shakir

For the original article see:


1) The extent of Al-Husayni’s collaboration with the Hitler and the Nazis has been exaggerated by many propagandists and polemicists. For an objective and well-researched assessment of the extent of that involvement see Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin Al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement (Columbia University Press: New York, NY, 1998), 99-107.
2) For Palestinian support for the Allies see Ashley Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2006), 141. See also Orayb Aref Najjar, “Falastin Editorial Writers, the Allies, World War II, and the Palestinian National Question in the 21st Century,” SIMILE: Studies in Media and Literacy Education, 3, no. 4 (2003): 1-15.
3) Mattar, 104-105.
4) Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, “Senegal’s Secret Soldiers,”
5) Muhammad V -Righteous Among the Nations,
6) Noor Husain, “The Role of the Martial Races of Today’s Pakistan in British Indian Army in World War II,” Defense Journal,
7) Ibid.
8) George Lenczowski, The Middle East in World Affairs (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1980), 133.
9) Ibid., 134.
10) See Annette Herskovits, “The Mosque That Sheltered Jews,” Street Spirit, Feb2005/mosque.htm.
11) Ibid.

Categories: Muslim blogs

Begging Veteran

Imam Zaid Shakir Blog - Thu, 12/11/2015 - 20:39

I passed a begging veteran today.
Sitting on a bench.
No homeless stench.
He held an empty cup in his hand.
It pleaded for money to help the man.
He sat forlorn in military dress.
His face portrayed a life of stress.
Had he murdered the innocent?
Had he committed no crime?
His cup cried out.
Can you spare a dime?

Categories: Muslim blogs

The Pearl Button: Documenting the Shadow of Water and Tyranny

The Platform - Sun, 08/11/2015 - 02:51

The political documentaries of acclaimed Chilean director Patricio Guzmán culminate in the latest trilogy which considers the majesty of nature against the violence of history


Patricio Guzmán’s debut documentary trilogy The Battle of Chile (1975, 1976 and 1979) was a landmark portrayal of the left-wing Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) government. This coalition government in Chile, led by Salvador Allende between 1970-1973, ended abruptly after a military coup on 11 September, 1973. Guzmán made the film as an act of political commitment, shooting on the streets, in the countryside and in the factories, capturing the enthusiasm of the left as well as the attempts of the right to shut down the government. As the title of the first part of that trilogy expressed – The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie – Guzmán was aware of the proximity of the coup, but was powerless to stop it. Not even through his films. Released in the wake of Augusto Pinochet’s violent dictatorship, The Battle of Chile nevertheless became a masterpiece of the documentary genre. However, its warning was not able to stop the tyranny.

Three decades later, Guzmán is in the midst of creating another powerful trilogy. After years of dictatorship which was then succeeded by democratic administrations, the director turns his sights yet again to the people executed, disappeared and tortured by Pinochet’s regime in Chile. This time they act as a departure point to ask: how has Chile historically oppressed those who, at some point, were considered dirty, disposable enemies?

Nostalgia for the Light (2012) initiated this quest in the Atacama Desert, a region expressing the harsh ironies of Chile itself. Today it is home to monumental telescopes that observe remote stars, but which are incapable of locating the bones of the buried in the driest desert of the world.

Released earlier this year, The Pearl Button moves these ironies to the pristine waters of southern Patagonia. The documentary entwines two stories: one about the extermination of indigenous people in the 19th-century – the Kawéskar, Selknam, Aoniken, Hausch and Yamana – by settlers, and the other about people tortured, killed and dumped into the sea in the aftermath of Pinochet’s coup. In both cases, the sea expresses an irony. Water, the source of life, is a monumental graveyard for peoples, cultures, dreams and remains.

One of these remains helps Guzmán connect the extermination of indigenous people and the killing of left-wing partisans after 1973: a pearl button. He traces the story of a young Yamana taken by an English sailor to Europe to be “civilised” in exchange for a pearl button. After a year, the boy, nicknamed Jemmy Button, was returned to his people with his life and identity forever distorted. Almost two centuries later, another pearl button expressed a difficult story. Attached to a rail, a little flat and shiny button is the last remaining evidence of those dumped by the military into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Referencing both episodes, Guzmán knits together a brilliant film that is an essay and a poem, a journey through fjords, channels, islands and people – people like Cristina Calderón, the last Yamana woman alive. She provides one of the most memorable moments of the film when Guzmán asks her to translate some words from Spanish to her language, and she has problems with two particular words in her response: “police” and “god”. These concepts simply do not exist in her culture. The settlers brought them to the land.

The Pearl Button is an important work, but lacks something for those who have followed Guzmán’s other movies. Unlike Nostalgia for the Light, the second film of the trilogy seems to miss contemporary elements that could help untangle Guzmán’s questions regarding Chile’s long history of violence. I am talking, for instance, about the privatisation of water in Chile and the appropriation of the sea by seven of the wealthiest families in the country.

Perhaps the director thought that the core of his argument would not have changed with new information. And he might be right. As a whole, The Pearl Button concludes that violence has always been present in history, not as a consequence of nature – as the lens shows in all its majesty – but by the action of men, which means that it can be changed. In this regard, the second part of the trilogy – the third of which will explore Chile’s vast mountain range – serves as a warning for current and future generations. Unlike The Battle of Chile, Guzmán’s newest trilogy is in a position to send a message, to re-route a historical path that has taken away so much and so many – the many thousands of people whose bodies still lie somewhere in the country between the desert, the sea, the mountains and a perennial impunity.

Image from: 

Categories: Muslim blogs

2014 Year in Review

Imam Suhaib Webb - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 13:00

The following is a list of top 30 articles that were found to resonate most strongly with our readers this past year. It covers a full range of struggles and joys we have faced as a community and regularly bridges orthodox and contemporary Islamic knowledge. Articles covered Glimpses of Marital Bliss, inspired us about the Names of Allah, spoke to the unique struggles of our Black and Hispanic brothers and sisters, and stood up against the siege in Gaza. They discussed the role of women preachers, American holidays, how to overcome addictions and more. See the full list below.

There were many articles of significant impact that are not on the list for brevity’s sake. What was your favorite? Leave a comment to let us know!


IN THE MEDIA Your Facebook Posts, and why The Evil Eye is Real by Ubah

On social media, we are increasingly putting ourselves out there in ways that may promote envious feelings in others. Is it 100% our fault? Of course not. But here are a few important things to keep in mind.

Films Today – and How the Muslims Killed Dracula by Shibli Zaman

We often bemoan the negative portrayal of Muslims in film and television, including a recent movie that gets the story of Dracula wrong. But who is to blame when we have absolutely no presence in popular media?

An Imam’s Review of the Movie Noah by John (Yahya) Ederer

Potential benefits in watching this movie – and why it would be hugely advantageous to Islam and the Muslims if we made high-quality, well-funded, scripturally proper, and well-acted depictions of the prophets and our great history. Also see: Top Documentaries you Should Watch by Junaid Amjad

Know Thyself: Opinion on Hajj Selfies by Suhaib Webb

How to understand rulings on photography, and why Hajj selfies can be a form of remembrance of good: worshiping Allah alone, visiting sacred places, love and fraternity, and acts of worship.


WOMEN Female Scholars and Preachers in Islam by John (Yahya) Ederer

The beauty of Islam among religions is in its universality, its compatibility with science, and its versatile legal tradition which remains relevant across times and cultures. Here’s why the majority of our scholars throughout history have said that there’s nothing wrong with listening to a woman’s speech unless it is flirtatious or provocative.

10 Ways to be a Single and Content Muslimah by Ubah

Tip #2: Let Go of Entitlement. Remember that you are not owed a relationship. Just like the air you breathe or your eyesight and hearing, a decent and compatible spouse is a blessing from Allah (swt).

Is it Allowed for Women to Teach Mixed Gatherings? by John (Yahya) Ederer

A detailed breakdown of why there is nothing in the scripture that would prohibit a modest woman of knowledge and character to preach to the masses.


CULTURE, CUSTOMS, & FIQH Man’s Best Friend?: The Islamic View on Dogs by John (Yahya) Ederer

Reverts may have had a special relationship with their dogs growing up, or still do at the time of reversion. Sadly, the attitude of many Muslims towards dogs often alienates people from Islam. A closer examination of the issue debunks common misunderstandings.

American Customs – What is Permissible? by John (Yahya) Ederer

Understanding which American customs are permissible or not, and why, including birthdays,  anniversaries, halloween, and more. A practical, most highly read article every year it is posted.

Also see: Caught with My Foot in the Sink… Reasons to Be Proud of Wudu by Abdul Sattar Ahmed and Is the West Inherently Un-Islamic? by John Ederer

Can a Non-Muslim Person be in the Masjid? by Suhaib Webb

The stronger opinion on the issue of people of other faiths being refused entry into mosques is Abu Hanifa’s that this only applies for the Hajj and ‘Umra (meaning they are not allowed to make Hajj or Umra). Here’s why.

Is Saying Jummah Mubarak an Innovation? by Suhaib Webb

Custom is so important that it forms one of the five major axioms of Islamic law. Based on this important principle and the large number of general texts that encourage us to speak well and be gentle to others, it is a stretch to say that such a greeting in an innovation.

Can Muslims be Friends with Non-Muslims? by John (Yahya) Ederer

Qur’anic verses should not be mis-understood to prohibit us from making friends with our neighbors, co-workers, or schoolmates. On the topic of Muslim interactions with other faiths including Christians, see also: A Holiday Message from the Life of Omar by Shibli Zaman


PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Sinners Anonymous: 12 Steps for Overcoming Addictions or Sin by Reehab Ramadan

Remember the phrase “I am only the next 24 hours.” By the time the next 24 hours have been reached, hopefully our strength will have been regained, if not then we push ourselves a little further—24 more hours.

10 Things that Shouldn’t Happen Once you Become a More Practicing Muslim by Ubah

There a few key things that we must all guard against as a result of turning a new leaf or becoming a more practicing (or new) Muslim – such as becoming narrow minded, becoming isolated, or rebelling against family.

Beyond Romantic Love – Here’s What’s Missing by Reehab Ramadan

Beyond romantic or sexualized love, where’s the love that would allow me to go out of my way to buy my brother or sister in humanity a gift to bring a smile to his or her face during times of hardship?

How Two Words Changed this Man’s Life by Maryam Amirebrahimi

He had never prayed two rak`ah (units of prayer) in his adult life. Two words he heard at his first Friday prayer penetrated through his heart and embraced his soul. The true story of a man’s path back to Allah (swt).


QUR’AN & PRAYER Building Habits as Worship: A Year Spent Quantifying Devotion by Alex Arrick (Guest Author)

How to use free apps for the iPhone or Android such as LIFT to make a regular, daily habit for memorizing the Qur’an. Also see: Stay Focused by PRAYing by  by Marwa Abdalla

Is the Qur’an a Violent Text or is Your Reading a Tad Off? by Joe Bradford

A lack of context and qualifications lead to blatant misinterpretation. The shallow misinterpretations of religious and irreligious extremists almost always lead to one thing: the escalation of conflict and the promotion of violence, instead of leading to dialogue and mutual understanding.

Too Busy for Quran? Check these 3 Tips to Get Rolling by Mansoor Ahmed

Start off by making time after Fajr prayer or after `Isha’ (night) prayer, the two times you are most likely to be at home. Once it is a part of your lifestyle, it becomes easy to sustain. Remember, try a little by little, but with consistency!


OVERCOMING HARDSHIP Living with Depression and Islam by Anonymous (Guest Author)

Every morning I wake up and wish I hadn’t.  I want anyone suffering like me to know that there are others that are observant, struggling Muslims and that they feel the way you are feeling. Also see: How to Overcome Sadness and be Happy by Taheerah Alam

With Hardship Comes Ease: Embracing Discomfort by Ismail Shaikh (Guest Author)

A key lesson learned after a very stressful and long job search experience:  there is growth in discomfort, uncertainty and unpredictability. Why and how we should embrace discomfort.

Think You’ve Failed? Think Again by Jinan Bistaki

Some people always bounce back, but others always seem to crash down. Research has shown that the difference is the ability to see that a closed door somewhere means, at the very least, an open window somewhere else.


CURRENT EVENTS Erdoğan, AKP and their victory in the Turkish Municipal Elections by Shibli Zaman

Erdoğan, the world is watching you; but that pales to the fact that, above all, the Lord of the Worlds is watching you even closer. You can be the greatest leader the Muslim world has seen since the Ottomans whom you repeatedly invoke, or you can fall just like them when they lost their way. Which end of their history you resemble is up to you.


KNOWING GOD, THE MOST MERCIFUL When was the Last Time you Witnessed a Miracle? Al-Hayyiy by Jinan Bistaki

Whenever making du`a’ (supplication), have hope. Remember that “Verily your Lord is Generous (Kareem) and Hayyiy. If His servant raises his hands to Him (in supplication) He becomes shy to return them empty,” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

He has Your Back: Al-Wali by Jinan Bistaki

Allah is named Al-Wali, meaning the Protective Friend of all those who believe. It means that He has your back. He could have just been a ‘friend,’ but some friends are flaky. A protective friend will be there for you through hardship and bad times.

Does God Exist? by Salman Khan (Guest Author)

Every person must think for him/herself and find Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) in his/her own way. Don’t choose a life of unhappiness because you choose to be blind or perform our religion physically without spirituality.

Love is In Giving: Al Wadud by Jinan Bistaki

Allah is named Al-Wadud. When you are able to point out behavior that shows love, this kind of love is not called hubb in Arabic, because hubb is simply having a feeling of love. This kind of love – one that is apparent and shown – is called wud.


LOVE,  RELATIONSHIPS, & GENDER RELATIONS 10 Guidelines for Gender Relations in Islam by Muslema Purmul and Maryam Amirebrahimi

The code of inter-gender relations comes from a noble kind of love. It is generous in giving, while conscious of Allah. It is full of haya.’ Haya’ is sometimes described as ‘shyness’, but misunderstood to mean a desire to hide, to be nervous, overly self-conscious, and unable to communicate.

When you Marry for Four Reasons – Don’t Forget Your Reason by Karim Serageldin (Guest Author)

As a practicing psychologist, I was once consulted by a brother in Turkey in need of immediate relationship advice. In summary, the brother’s “emergency” was that he had met a nice religious girl from a good family but was not attracted to her at all. Here was my advice.

The Goodbye Hug by Maryam Amirebrahimi

Many of us only hear destructive marriage stories within the Muslim community. However, the reality is that there are so many incredible, beautiful, passionate, fulfilling and compassionate love stories in the Muslim community. Here’s one.  A number of the articles from “Glimpses of Marital Bliss” Series were also among the most-read this year. See also: A Love Letter, Will They Say Yes, and He Prayed instead of Fought

Categories: Muslim blogs

Ya Sabr Ayub

Imam Suhaib Webb - Wed, 24/12/2014 - 13:00

Photo: Tom Gill

I have been living in the Arab world now for almost 3 years. There are some really taxing things here, tiring and frustrating to say the least. But there are also some exciting and uplifting things that keep me going throughout the days. And then, there are the hidden gems. The things that can be overlooked without a second thought, yet if they are given a second thought, they require a third and a fourth thought for one to even begin to benefit from their beauty. It is those things that get me time and time again. It is those things that take my breath away and leave me thankful for being placed in the position that I am in, living in a place where I do not always fit in or feel at home. One of those hidden gems can be found in the phrases that are oft repeated, with little thought, on a daily basis. There are many that could be spoken about, like the wishing of “na’eeman” [lit. blessings] when a person takes a shower or cuts their hair. Like the prayer of “kulli sana wanti tayyiba” [“may every year find you well”] on any happy occasion that occurs yearly. But my favorite has to be one that carries behind it a great story of a great man whom I recently read about, and after reading his story in the tafseer [exegesis] of Ibn Ajeeba, the oft repeated phrase “Ya sabr Ayub” [“O patience of Job”] has never been the same again.

It would be best, before diving into the gem-filled story, to give some information on when this phrase, in the Arab culture, is used. It is used mainly in two situations: 1) When a person is going through something very taxing and is wishing for an intense amount of patience to be poured into them, as a prayer and 2) when a person witnesses someone being ever so patient and is impressed by their firmness upon this patience. Naturally, after hearing that, one would assume that this story is about to be really great and I assure you: it is. The key here, however, is that something very important is done while reading this story: don’t just read it as a work of fiction or non-fiction. Read it as if this story is about you. Read this story as if you have temporarily stepped out of your own shoes, and into those of this amazing man, Ayub, and try to actually feel what he must have been feeling. And with that, all that is left is for me to begin:

Ayub, `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him), was a great man and Prophet of the Lord many years ago. He was blessed with many great gifts that surpassed what others around him had been given. He had money in amounts (and some say types!) that surpassed those that were around him. He was given great amounts of land as well as many animals to graze on this land, and these animals varied in types and were of very high quality. He was kind and giving to the poor, he used to care for the widows and the orphans, he would be generous with his guests and accept any traveler into his home. He did all of this as an act of gratitude to God for giving him so much. This is something very unique to note, as for when a person is given such great wealth and great gifts, Satan then tries very hard to get him to be greedy and ungrateful. Satan tries very hard to get the person with such wealth to belittle that which has been given to him, or to become arrogant and not spread the wealth to those who may be in need of it. Satan however, was unsuccessful at whispering into the heart of Ayub (as) with regards to all that he had been given.

It is said that Satan heard the angels in the heaven praising Ayub (as) for all that he had done and was doing. Upon hearing this, Satan felt a twinge of envy (hasad) towards the state of Ayub. Satan, being one who acts upon these twinges of envy immediately, went and pleaded to the Lord of the heavens about his state. He complained to God: “O my Lord, you have blessed your servant Ayub, so he had thanked you. You have removed from him any affliction so he has glorified you. You haven’t allowed any hardship to befall him, but if you did then surely he would be an ungrateful servant.” This was a plea from Satan, and at the same time he was taking a shot at the honor and actual piety of Ayub. He asked God to just give him the ability to afflict Ayub with some hardship, and he told God that He would see the gratefulness of Ayub dwindle away. God then allowed Satan to have control over the wealth of Ayub, and nothing else—allowing him to afflict Ayub. At this Satan was joyous. He called together his troops of jinn and told them the “great” news. One of his troops said that he had been given the power to send storms of fire upon anything, and if Satan gave him permission, he could burn all of the wealth of Ayub by burning his lands. Satan agreed, and sat back and watched his troops burn down the wealth of Ayub. Once this was all over, Satan came in the form of one of the service hands of Ayub, dramatically recalling all that happened to the wealth of this Prophet. Telling him that God had allowed for his wealth to be destroyed. Ayub (as), with complete grace and gratefulness, informed Satan in the form of man, that God was the original giver of this wealth, so God could do as he pleased with this wealth.

Satan now was hit, not only with pangs of envy but also, pangs of despair. He had been sure that had this man who was so blessed, had some of his blessings taken away, he would break. He would not be such a great servant. But Satan, unlike many of us humans, does not give up that easily. When he has a goal, he does everything he possibly can to get to that goal. He went back to his troops for a brainstorming session. One of his troops had another idea. He informed Satan that he had been given the ability to blow harsh winds that would kill any animal that heard this wind. Satan jumped on that idea and sent him to kill all of the living animals that were left on the burnt grounds of Ayub. After all of his glorious animals had been killed, Satan appeared to Ayub as a different man, again telling him of what happened. He informed Ayub that the Lord that he had been worshipping for so long had killed all of his animals. Again, Ayub (as) with pure patience and love for God, replied that God was the one who had given him the animals in the first place, so He could do as He pleased with them.

Satan was hit again with deeper despair, feeling that he was certainly losing his grip on the battle that he had been fighting. Satan returned to God, again with another plea. He argued that God had blessed Ayub with his own health and the health of his children (some say he had 10 children), and this is why Ayub was still holding on, gratefully. Satan assured that if this was removed then Ayub would not remain a grateful servant and that his gratefulness was not based on Love but of contentment with that which had been given. Satan then requested to be given the ability to take away the children of Ayub to prove his point. God granted him this permission. Satan returned to the home of Ayub, and destroyed the home of Ayub, killing all of his children. He then appeared to Ayub as the teacher of his children, limping, as if he too had been hurt in the destruction. He then recalled for Ayub the detailed deaths that his children had faced, making certain to put emphasis on the pain that they may have felt. Ayub was instantly struck with sadness for his children. He fell to the floor and began to pour dirt over his head. Satan rejoiced, finally he had made Ayub be ungrateful. But after an instant, Ayub (as) realized what he was doing and looked up to his Lord, asking for forgiveness and returning to his state of patience. God instantly forgave Him, as He is The All-Forgiving.

Satan was furious. He felt that he had finally won, that finally this man that seemed to be over flowing with patience and gratitude had finally cracked. And before he could even rejoice, Ayub (as) returned to His Lord and His repentance was accepted. His sin was erased. (Take note at the Mercy of God. Take note at the persistence of Satan). Satan went back to God, again despairing and willing to try anything. He told God that the only reason that Ayub was so thankful and so obedient was that he had the most important thing, his health. Satan pleaded with God to allow him to take that away, to prove once and for all that Ayub was not, in his essence, an obedient servant. God allowed him this, but this time with some very important conditions. God allowed him to have rule over his body and health, but he was unable to touch two things: His tongue and his heart.

Satan descended down to Ayub and found him in prostration. He blew through his nose a wind that touched his entire body. It caused him to itch, with no relief. He itched his entire body with his hands, then with tools. The tools were so rough they tore at his skin, but the itch was so strong that he could not stop. His wounds began to fester, to be infected, and to even attract bugs. All of the people in his community who loved him so much began to look down upon him, unable to stand to see his appearance nor smell the stench of infected wounds. They kicked him out, ignoring all the good that he had done for him before. Everyone left him. Everyone. Except for one person, his wife. She cared for him in the trash dump that he had been cast to. She took care of him, and was his companion as much as she could. After much time she began to plead with him to ask God for help. I mean why not, he was a prophet. He in turn asked her how long they had lived in wealth. Her reply was 8 years. He then followed up with asking how long he had lived in sickness; she informed him that it was seven. His reply was that he was too embarrassed to ask God to heal him, if the time of ease overcame the time of hardship.

Satan, in his final attempt, appeared to Ayub’s wife. He told her that he (Satan) was the Lord of the world and that the reason why her husband, Ayub, had been afflicted for so long, was that he turned away from the lord of the earth and looked only towards the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. He told her that if Ayub were to “simply” make one prostration to Satan, then he could be restored to health and wealth. Ayub’s wife returned to her husband and told him what had happened. Ayub was furious. He knew exactly who she had spoken to, and was angry that his wife had spoken to Satan and that she had tried to act upon his words. She couldn’t take his anger, and she left him as well. Now Ayub was completely alone, with reference to human companions. He turned to God and made the famous du’a that we hear time and time again “Lord hardship has afflicted me, and you are the most Merciful of the merciful.” Ibn Ajeeba here says something interesting. He says that the hardship that Ayub was speaking about was that Satan had conspired against him to get him to prostrate to him (Satan). (Why is this the hardship? Because it is said that if we understood the true essence of sickness, we would know that it is an immense gift from God.) God immediately responded to the plea of Ayub and instructed him to go to the nearest water source and bathe in it. He did so, and was returned to his complete health and beauty. His wife, shortly after, returned looking for her husband. She found a handsome healthy man in his place. She asked him if he has seen a man that was rotting and in pain. He laughed and said, “It is me, I am Ayub.” She wouldn’t have believed him except that she recognized his laugh.

Ayub—not an angel, a man. He (as) went through an immense trial, and looked only at God. A man that God used to lay down a map for us to follow when we too are in pain, in sickness and in distress. Of course we don’t always react this way. Of course it may be harder at times to let go and let God. But what we can do is look to him as an ultimate goal. We can use his name when asking God for patience. We can strive to be as close to Him as God will allow. And whenever we are in hardship, we can know that we have someone to relate to. We have someone who went through pain and anguish, and we can see that even in the worst of situations, God can instantly redeem us and make everything more than perfect. May God grant us the Sabr of Ayub in the smallest of matters and the largest of matters.

“Lord, hardship has afflicted me, and you are the most Merciful of the merciful.”

Categories: Muslim blogs

Our Personal Hells

Imam Suhaib Webb - Tue, 23/12/2014 - 18:20

 “Sins need to be eradicated through the internal fire of regret in this life or the fire of hell in the hereafter.” – Ibn Al-Qayyim

Photo: Pankaj Kaushal

Years ago I came across this quote. I still can’t get over how true it is.

Muslim youth living in all corners of the world face similar struggles in our day-to-day lives. We strive to survive while being surrounded by the societal (and often times, cultural and familial) promotion, acceptance, and idealization of things that contradict the tenants of our faith: pride, lust, greed, extramarital relationships, alcohol/drugs, misogyny – just to name a few.

We are also surrounded by social practices and traditions that can also be pretty un-Islamic: issues such as racism, forced marriages, the withholding of education for females, and tribalism unfortunately exist on grand scales in Muslim societies all over the world.

As Muslim youth, most of us living in the diaspora, we have much to deal with. We struggle to maintain our Muslim identities while at the same time balancing our racial, national, and individual identities as well.

Sometimes it seems that everywhere we look, we are being called to sin. And inevitably, we answer that call.

We fall so many times only to fall again. We try so very hard to create our own, personal spiritual bubbles where Islam is the driving force in our lives, only to have it burst by things like temptation, other Muslims’ biases and discrimination, our own families making it hard for us, stress, our school lives, etc.

And slowly, as our hearts erode, a peculiar type of anxiety eats away at our souls and comes with a little voice in our heads. The voice tells us time and time again that what we are doing is haram (impermissible) or sinful, but we ignore it as we seek to numb the pain—a pain that has surfaced as a result of never being good enough. Never being “Muslim” enough, or “religious” enough, or “Western” enough.

How do we turn our faces from sin when it is everywhere? When it is adulated, respected, and upheld by our very own societies as a noble thing? We become confused – the bad becomes good. We go against our natural instincts. Eventually we become submerged in our own little hells, metaphorical places where internal suffering, sadness, disappointment, and self-loathing manifest. The “internal fire of regret”, as Ibn Al-Qayyim radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) puts it.

This quote teaches me that through one way or another, we will be purified of our sins. It’s up to us whether or not we seek purification in this life (through repentance) or we wait until the next (through the Fire).

I know. We’ve fallen so many times. We’re hurt, sore, and bruised. We are ashamed of our actions, and may even deem ourselves unworthy of seeking repentance. But something must quell that fire in our hearts. Something must quench our desires to be loved and accepted by the One whose love and acceptance is truly the only one that matters at the end of the day.

Say it – Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from God).

I know; it hurts. But it certainly cannot hurt more than what is to come if we let our sins remain in our hearts, our minds, our spirits.

We are more than the sins that we commit. Don’t let the devil fool you. Don’t let those people who are a negative influence in your lives or those who sin openly and proudly fool you either.

We may fall a thousand times, but as long as we try to get back up, there is always hope.

And Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) knows best.


Categories: Muslim blogs

To Whom Belongs Sovereignty? Al-Qahhar

Imam Suhaib Webb - Mon, 22/12/2014 - 13:00

Names of Allah Series:  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIXPart XXX |Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI | Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII

Photo: Joel Tonyan

In this journey through Allah’s Names, we have learned about both His attributes of Beauty and of Majesty. The intention is to inspire fear, hope and, ultimately, love. If we misunderstand Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), we may not see the wisdom behind the things that happen in the world or in our personal lives. We might not understand how Allah (swt) fits into our life. We may also find it difficult to love Him, because how can you love someone – deeply love someone – you do not know?

Thus it is hoped that these Names have increased our knowledge of our Creator, and have made apparent how Allah (swt) is with us in every moment.

Today’s Name should inspire in us ‘khashya’ and ‘hayba’. These words are sometimes both translated as ‘fear’, thus removing the important distinctions between the two words. In the ‘Sweetness of Prayer’ series, we explained the difference between the different types of fear:

‘Khawf’ is to flee from the thing that you fear, and requires no knowledge of that which is feared. You can be afraid, or have ‘khawf’, of the dark. ‘Khashya’, on the other hand, is fear with knowledge. The more a servant has knowledge of his Lord, the more ‘khawf’ turns to ‘khashya’. As Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge” (35:28).

‘Hayba’ is fear associated with respect, awe and glorification. You could, for example, fear fire. But the reason for your fear is that the fire may harm you, so fire earns no ‘hayba’; you do not glorify it. However, you could have a certain ‘hayba’ of your father; you could be afraid to do something wrong in front of him, but that fear is out of respect.

Al-Qahhar: The Dominator

Allah’s Name al-Qahhar comes from the Arabic root qaf-haa-ra (ق-ه-ر). It means ‘to dominate over’ or ‘to subdue from above’. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an in Surat al-An`aam;

“And He is the subjugator (al-qaahiru) over His servants. And He is the Wise (al-Hakeem), the Acquainted [with all] (al-Khabeer). (6:18)

Someone with this attribute might be considered a tyrant, which is why Allah (swt) tells us that this attribute is possessed by the One who is also the Most Wise and the One who is Best Acquainted with everything. This reference is also for the benefit of those who doubt this attribute, and might ask “why has Allah not overpowered the tyrants of today, of whom there are many?” Allah (swt) is reminding us that there is ultimate wisdom in whom He chooses to subdue at any point in time. This is where our understanding of the holistic nature of Allah’s Names should come in: we spoke before about how Allah (swt) is Forbearing and Patient, and He gives people – even tyrants – the opportunity to turn back.

Thus we see in the Qur’an that Allah sends Moses and Aaron `alayhimaa as-salaam (may Allah’s peace be upon them both) to Pharaoh – and calling Pharaoh ‘oppressive’ would be an understatement! – telling them initially to speak to him gently. Pharaoh rejects them. Moses then shows him proof of his prophethood. Pharaoh rejects him again, insisting on enslaving the Children of Israel. Finally, Allah (swt) overpowers him by drowning him, using someone from the very people that Pharaoh was oppressing, who grew up in his own house. Such is the way of al-Qahhar, who manifests His power by subduing tyrants through the objects of their tyranny.

This is why Imam al-Ghazali describes al-Qahhar in this way: “The Dominator is the one who breaks the back of the powerful among His enemies… Indeed there is no existing thing that is not subject to the domination of His power, and powerlessness in His grasp. That is all.”
Therefore, when we look at events today and wonder “where is al-Qahhar?”, we should remember the story of Moses. Remember that Moses prevailed. Remember that Pharaoh was overpowered.

Our role is to strive against this oppression, knowing that ultimately this is what we will be asked about, and everything is subjected to the Will of Allah (swt). Indeed, so many tyrannical powers eventually come crashing down, bowing to the will of al-Qahhar. Unfortunately, we may not attribute it to Him, but as Allah (swt) tells us:

“The Day they come forth nothing concerning them will be concealed from Allah. To whom belongs [all] sovereignty this Day? To Allah, the One, the Prevailing (al-Qahhar).” (40:16)

On that Day, all will be apparent. All those who oppressed, in both seemingly small and big ways, will be before Allah, al-Qahhar. Then, there will be no ambiguity.
Living with these Names

1 – Balance fear and hope

Today’s Name might cause us to be afraid. This is not a subject we like to talk to about, because it is so much more reassuring to focus on those attributes that enable us to relax. But remembering that Allah (swt) has attributes of Majesty should instill in us the ‘khashya’ and ‘hayba’ described earlier. Moreover, Allah’s Names are to be looked at holistically. He is al-Qahhar and He is also al-Lateef (the subtle, the most kind).

2 – Dominate your lower desires
In previous articles, we talked about how we should emulate the attributes of Beauty. But what about attributes of Majesty? How do we apply them? Al-Ghazali counseled: “The dominator amongst men is the one who subdues his enemies. The greatest enemy of man is his soul, which is within him. This soul is more of an enemy to him than Satan, of whose enmity he is wary. Whoever conquers his passions conquers Satan, since Satan lures him to ruin by means of his passions.”

3 – Use that fear to stop at least one sin

To know that Allah is al-Qahhar is to burn the desire for sin in the heart. Because Allah (swt) is the Dominator, we should fear that perhaps al-Qahhar, al-Mumeet (the Life-Taker) might take our soul as we are committing the sin. This should alert us that despite it seeming as though we are being allowed to oppress our souls, we may still face the fate mentioned in this verse:

“So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were [then] in despair.” (Qur’an, 6:44)

These people used the gifts of Allah (swt) in the opposite manner to that for which they were intended, and then they were seized. In another chapter, Allah (swt) describes to us the people of the garden, who took an oath that they would reap all of their fruits and leave nothing for the poor. Allah (swt) caused their garden to be completely burned to the ground, but the owners of that garden understood the lesson. They willed something, but Allah (swt) overpowered their will, and so they turned back to Him.

Hence, this fear should not paralyze us from doing good, but it should paralyze us from doing bad. We should try to choose at least one thing – like backbiting or lying – and do our best to use this Name to help us stop it.

4 – Do not oppress others

The surest way to earn the wrath of al-Qahhar is to oppress others. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him] (fa laa taqhar)” (93:9). The word ‘taqhar’ comes from the same root of the name al-Qahhar. We should understand that oppression is not simply for unjust leaders or cruel human traffickers. We may also be oppressing others in more subtle ways, and thus we should be diligent to avoid this.

Categories: Muslim blogs

Lessons from the Prophet Musa

Imam Suhaib Webb - Fri, 19/12/2014 - 13:00

Imam Suhaib Webb talks about lessons from the life of Prophet Moses `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him).

Categories: Muslim blogs

How Muslim Theologians Saved Islamic Science

Imam Suhaib Webb - Thu, 18/12/2014 - 13:00

Photo: Alby Headrick

By Macksood A. Aftab

The conflict between science and religion has posed a serious threat to religious authority in the contemporary era. Many advocates of scientism have used the tremendous success of science in modern times to question the usefulness of religion as a means of seeking the truth. For example, Stephen Hawking recently stated in a Huffington Post article, “Before we understood science, it was natural to believe that God created the universe, but now science offers a more convincing explanation.” More recently the harsh critique of religion based upon various forms of scientism by writers such as Richard Dawkins have escalated the conflict.

Their view assumes that both religion and science have the same purpose, namely of explaining the existence of the universe. Furthermore, the scientific method is considered a more reliable way to achieve this goal. This is primarily so because science deals with physical processes, which can be quantified and measured, whereas religion often resorts to metaphysical references, which cannot be “proven.” Professor Naquib Al-Attas, the celebrated Malaysian Muslim philosopher, summarizes the essential problem. He writes, “A gist of their [those who espouse science as the source for truth] basic assumptions is that science is the sole authentic knowledge; that this [scientific] knowledge pertains only to phenomena.” Excluded from science is anything that does not have a “physical” existence, anything that cannot be empirically studied. Therefore, implicit in a worldview that holds science as the highest authority of knowledge is a denial of God.

As the Nobel laureate Werner Arber, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, writes, “The natural sciences are in a steady search for truth, and so is theology.” This naturally creates two apparently competing methodologies of seeking and determining the truth, which inevitably leads to conflict between theology and science. Although the Catholic Church did generally support science, when the conclusions of scientists came in conflict with church dogma, problems arose. This can be seen in the experiences of Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin.

Islamic history, however, took a different course. Despite the existence of a sustained robust scientific enterprise in the Islamic world, an overt conflict between science and religion did not arise. Professor Walbridge of Indiana University points out that “the Islamic world produced no martyrs for science like Bruno and Galileo.” One of the achievements of Islamic civilization was the creation of a worldview in which both theology and science could be accepted in a comprehensive rational framework.

The Islamic tradition of scholastic theology is known as kalam. The two primary schools of kalam are the Ash`ari and its close cousin the Maturidi schools. Both are based upon a rational understanding of God and the Universe, which also seek to rigorously preserve salient features of the Islamic concept of God. This tradition, along with its larger place in the Islamic worldview, can best be understood through the works of one of its main proponents Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (d. 1111 CE). Richard Frank, a scholar of Islamic theology, describes Ghazali as, “The most important Sunni theologian at a crucial turning point in the history of orthodox Muslim theology.” During his time Islam was emerging from a period of intellectual schism. Ghazali contributed to the development of a consensus on this issue, which was to largely become the dominant Sunni doctrine. Thus the Ghazali scholar and translator Walter Skellie writes, “With him [Ghazali] the religious philosophy and experience of Islam reaches its zenith.”

Demonstrative Proof (Burhan)

The triumph of Ghazali’s epistemology lies in its successful reconciliation of reason with revelation. One key element of this was the allowance of figurative interpretations of scripture, particularly when it relates to assertions that may conflict with what is known via reason. Ghazali sets the bar very high for a scientific proof to over-ride scripture, something he calls burhan. Burhan is demonstrative knowledge or definitive logical proof. According to Ghazali, it held an even higher epistemic status than even scholastic theology (kalam).

Professor Al-Akiti of Oxford writes, “For al-Ghazali, burhan [definitive logical proof], and not kalam, is what he considered to be scientific knowledge, the ‘gold-standard’ in the art of reasoning – a judgment expounded in his Mi’yar al-’Ilm.” The late professor Marmura, a Ghazali scholar, summarizes Ghazali’s attitude towards definitive logical proof as follows:

“A science whose conclusions are not demonstrably true and which are in conflict with the literal assertions of scripture must be rejected. On the other hand, if what is demonstrably true contradicts the literal sense of scriptural language, then the latter must be interpreted metaphorically.”

Having firmly grounded his worldview in rationality, Ghazali proceeds to point out that physical science does not meet the standards of definitive logical proof unless God is added to the equation. This is because science is based upon a flawed assumption, namely that of natural causation. Causation, Ghazali argues, can only guaranteed if God is there to secure it. And importantly, according to Ghazali, God is there to secure it. Belief in God then becomes a prerequisite to the successful pursuit of science.

Causation, God & Science

Ghazali was able to reconcile the most important principle of science (namely causation) with Islamic theological doctrines (as articulated by the dominant Ash`ari school). Ash`ari theology developed in response to certain heterodox formulations of Islamic doctrine (such as those adopted by the Mutazalites and the Philosophers) which had the effect of diminishing key Divine attributes. Some of these formulations share a belief in necessary causation with modern secular scientists. Therefore Ghazali’s critique of their view is particularly instructive in tackling similar issues in the contemporary era.

Some of the main articles of faith in Ash`ari theology are that God is all powerful, He is all knowing and all events occur due to His express will. The Ash`aris therefore believed that all events are directly caused only by God, and not by anything else. God is not merely the first cause but also the immediate cause of every subsequent minor and major event that occurs in the universe. This appears to run contrary to our contemporary understanding of secular science, which rests on the principle of natural causation. Namely, that things (or events) cause other things (or events). For example, we think fire causes cotton to burn when they are brought near each other.

Ghazali questions the principle of necessary causation adopted by certain philosophers. According to Ghazali, this relationship between cause and effect is not necessary. To use his terminology, there is no definitive logical proof (burhan) that it is the cause that is responsible for the effect. He argues that all we observe is a quick succession of events, cotton being brought close to fire and the cotton burning. But a relationship based simply on proximity in time or space does not imply necessary causation. Ghazali famously states, “The connection between what is habitually believed to be a cause and what is habitually believed to be an effect is not necessary.”

David Hume in the Western tradition made a similar argument against causation. He asked, “Where is the causal glue” holding together the cause and the effect? Unlike Hume who was led to skepticism, however, Ghazali has an answer to this conundrum. For Ghazali, the causal glue is God. It is God who ensures that the relationship between cause and effect always holds. In doing so, Ghazali has made room for orthodox Islamic theology in which God is the direct cause of everything.

On its surface this line of thinking can be misunderstood to in fact undermine science, as several historians and scientists have thought. For example, the historian Tamim Ansary writes, “Take it however you will, the argument against causality undermines the whole scientific enterprise. If nothing actually causes anything else, why bother to observe the natural world in search of meaningful patterns?” Pervez Hoodbhoy, a preeminent Pakistani scientist, expresses a similar concern with the Ash`ari position, stating that in such a world, “even a speeding arrow might not reach its destination.” In other words, if the cause and effect relationship is not necessary then there would be no sure way to rely on our observations, predict natural phenomena or to do scientific experiments.

Conflict Averted, Science Flourished

This criticism, however, implies a dogmatic belief in science which sidesteps the very real problem of causation. Ghazali does not need to (nor does he) deny causation. He is merely denying necessary causation—namely, that there is no conclusive proof that things can influence other things by themselves. For Ghazali, God is required to ensure that the relationship between cause and effect always hold true. As Frank Griffel, a Ghazali scholar at Yale, writes:

“Trust in God (tawakkul) is a major condition for investigating the natural sciences. Such trust requires the certainty to know that God will not change books into horses or disconnect our knowledge from reality. Given that God habitually creates our knowledge to accord with reality, we can rely on our sense and our judgment and confidently pursue the natural sciences.”

According to this view God could suspend the laws of causation, but He never does and never will. So fire will always burn cotton but this is only true because in every instance of its occurrence God ensures that it is so. In effect, Ghazali has created a framework in which science can operate and the principles of Islamic theology (Divine power, knowledge and will) are also preserved.

Furthermore, Ghazali even located miracles – which he calls strange and wondrous phenomena – within the empirical world. Even miracles were then not Divine acts of suspension of the normal workings of the universe; rather they were unusual phenomena of nature due to causes not immediately clear to us at the moment. The possibility of additional causal chains other than those currently physically observed encouraged further exploration of the natural world. Ahmad Dallal, a historian of Islamic science at Georgetown University writes,

“The aspect that had the most influence on the development of science was the concept of multiple possibilities (tajwiz), the notion that specific natural philosophical explanations (or planetary models) are possible but not certain, and that there may exist alternative explanations for the natural phenomena… this idea was grounded in an epistemological criticism of Aristotelian metaphysics.”

After Ghazali, science in the Muslim world experienced a prolonged renaissance as documented by Yale historian George Saliba. His understanding had the effect of legitimizing science. Science was a discipline ensured by God. It also had the effect of effectively separating theology from physical science. Divine attributes are known through revelation, and science plays no significant role in informing us about these metaphysical matters. On the other hand revelation does not interfere with the workings of science; it is left as an independent discipline within the larger Islamic framework. Dallal explains,

“After Al-Ghazali, the need to invoke religion to vindicate science considerably decreased, not because science was not accepted but because it did not need vindication. Excluding final-cause explorations from science did not compromise the providence of God, which was simply assumed without questioning (bila kayf).”

This worldview rests on the premise that God exists and sustains the Universe. God is not the end goal of science, but rather the starting point. This created an organic and interdependent relationship between science and religion, which essentially eliminated the potential of conflict between the two disciplines. In fact, as professor Muzaffar Iqbal, a philosopher of Islamic science, writes:

“No one thought of them [science and religion] as two independent entities which needed to be related via an external mechanism… This relationship emerged naturally and because the scientific tradition was thoroughly rooted in the worldview created by Islam.”

This worldview was rational. It recognized the primacy of reason and in fact accorded burhan the highest epistemic status. Within this framework secular science is critiqued based upon logical fallacies assumed by its proponents. Science is then presented not as a competing force with religion, but rather as a viable enterprise, as part of a comprehensive worldview that encompasses God. In fact, it is grounded in the assumption of God. This delicate balance, which secured both science and theology, is one of the greatest achievements of medieval Muslim theologians.

Dr. Macksood Aftab is a neuroradiologist, and clinical assistant professor at both Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. He holds a Master degree in History of Science, and is an editor for the Journal of Islamic Philosophy. The author can be reached at:

Categories: Muslim blogs

A Victim of Speech

Imam Suhaib Webb - Wed, 17/12/2014 - 13:00

Part I | Part II

In the last article, we explored how Allah (swt) exonerated Aisha radi allahu `anha (may God be please with her) and Prophet Joseph `alayhi as-salaaam (peace be upon him) from unsubstantiated and untrue gossip, and we talked about the victims of slander. Today, it’s about the perpetrators of slander. It is about, quite possibly, you and me.

Sometimes in the name of “enjoining good and forbidding evil” we forget the sanctity of our fellow human beings and especially fellow believers. We spread things that are unsubstantiated in a bid to ‘warn others’ about possible deviancy. We are harsh in our words. We assume the worst. We forget that one of the best traits a Muslim can have is “thinking well of the servant of Allah” and for other Muslims to be “safe from his hands and tongue.”

We forget that the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) passed by a grave and he warned that the person was suffering in his grave because he would spread gossip. We forget that that person we are talking about may have our good deeds transferred to him simply because he is a victim of our speech.

Scary stuff? It is. The Prophet ﷺ said: “The majority of man’s sins emanate from his tongue.” (Tabarani)

To go back to the examples in our previous article, it was clear that those with power—the minister and the minister’s wife—knew the truth with regards to what was said about the Prophet Joseph (as). But they allowed the rumor to persist and put Prophet Joseph in prison. With Aisha (ra), we have even more details. The people who discussed the rumor were good Muslims. They discussed the scandalous nature of what was said, and in doing so, spread it far and wide. Shaytan created doubt: “Could it actually be true?” Allah admonished the Muslims when He informs us in the Qur’an about what happened:

“Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say, ‘This is an obvious falsehood?’” (Qur’an, 24:12)

Now some people might think this example is extreme. We would never spread such a rumor. But rumors and slander and gossip come in all shapes and forms. So if you hear something about someone that is unsubstantiated, do not fuel the fire. We are just as bad as those news networks we criticize, who pick up a story, and whether true or not, run with it.

This is not intended to shut down constructive criticism of public figures. There are ways of bringing people to account. There are ways of disagreeing and critiquing ideas and views, which are beyond the scope of this article. But in the age of the internet, anyone can write a piece and within an hour it is shared and read by many. And it would do us good to reflect on what our role is in this. We must remember that we will be held to account. So let us not put ourselves in a position to be asked about why we were careless in our research, harsh in words, and negative in our basic assumptions about others.

And remember that the Prophet ﷺ taught:

“A person’s eman (faith) is not upright until his heart is upright, and his heart is not upright until his tongue is upright.” (Ahmad)

Categories: Muslim blogs

The Man She Used to Pray For

Imam Suhaib Webb - Tue, 16/12/2014 - 13:00

Glimpses of Marital Bliss: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IVPart V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII

Many of us pray for the perfect spouse and imagine him or her being a certain way. Sometimes, what we pray for becomes most apparent in difficult times. In this account, a wife talks about the ways in which real life has helped her and her husband grow in their beautiful relationship.

Photo: Danna

“My husband and I are from two different worlds literally and figuratively, and the thing that binds us together the most is Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) and our undeniable faith in Him (swt). After looking in America for two years, I decided to marry someone from “back home,” i.e. Pakistan. When we first got married, we realized what a huge adjustment it would be for both of us. We had kids right away when he came. He went to school here and got his degree from here, and I supported him financially all during the time that I was a new mother and the only thing I wanted to do was raise my precious firstborn full-time.

Under such circumstances many marriages rightfully take a back seat and the relationship crumbles. We had many big fights over those first few years. Every time we fought I made du`a’ (supplication) to Allah (swt) to make it better, and He did. Our fights never lasted more than a day, and one of us always ended up saying sorry. We couldn’t go to sleep without making up. Throughout our good times and hard times I discovered that I married a very caring and generous man. I also discovered that I needed to accept him for who he was and that I had many bad qualities that needed to be worked out if I was going to stand in front of my Creator on the Day of Judgment. His love for me is shown in always hiding my faults in front of others, in picking flowers for me on the way home from the masjid, in taking care of the kids and giving me some time off, in cleaning up a messy house and in always sharing with me his day to day dealings at work or with his friends. As time has passed we have gotten closer and now I can’t imagine not having him in my life. The kids have really served to bond us together and it warms my heart when our eldest wants to pray because he sees his father praying. Alhamdullilah (praise be to God)!

My husband is not perfect and has many faults, but I know inside there is a light of goodness that gets dim at times and at times shines brightly, and I am committed to stand by him throughout all the times. I used to make du`a’ to Allah (swt) for a pious, kind, gentle husband and now that Allah (swt) has given me a slave of His to love, I must remain thankful, for if I am thankful He will give me more. We just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary, and I look forward to spending many more with him insha’ Allah (God-willing).”

Categories: Muslim blogs

The Vikings and Serkland: A Lesson in the Merits of Presentability

Imam Suhaib Webb - Mon, 15/12/2014 - 13:00

The Vikings referred to the Abbasid Empire as Serkland. There are a few theories regarding the origin of this name, but it likely originated from the Norse term serkr, which meant tunic or gown. The term was mentioned in the Ingvar Runestones, specifically in the Gripsholm Runestone (Sö 179). They were raised to commemorate those Vikings who died fighting the Muslims on the Caspian Sea under Yngvarr víðförli, whose Norse name and title meant “Ingvar the Far-traveled”.1 Interestingly related to the word serkr, the English word “berserk”—meaning to go crazy—comes from the Norse word berserkr which was a term for Viking warriors who fought in a trance-like rage. They were given this name because they wore the coats of bears, called ber in Old Norse. Thus, berserkr means “bear coat”.2 So the Vikings, or Rūs, as they were called by the Muslims (from which came the later ethnonym “Russian”), saw the Abbasids wearing their long tunics, cloaks, capes and coats and referred to their realm as “Serkland”, the land of the “Serkir”, those who wear long coats. The dignified appearances of the early Muslims left quite an impression.

The Muslims were known for always dressing impeccably regardless of what social class they came from. There was a dignity and respect in the way they presented themselves, and this was markedly observed by even their adversaries. In the famous French prose “The Song of Roland”, which lauds the heroic deeds of the “Holy Barbarian” King Charlemagne in his battles against the Muslims, the leader of the Muslims is described as strikingly handsome and a noble equal to Charlemagne. The song praises him thus:

“An Emir of Balaguet came in place,

Proud of body, and fair of face;

Since first he sprang on steed to ride,

To wear his harness was all his pride;

For feats of prowess great laud he won;

Were he Christian, nobler baron none!”3

In the end, the only way Charlemagne is said to defeat him is with the help of the Archangel Gabriel.

God says in the Qur’an:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ

“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer.”4

Do we care for our appearance, cleanliness and attire when visiting the mosque? Even if not daily, do we at least in our Friday prayers? Sometimes we do. I often see Africans in their brightly colored gowns and hats, the Indonesians and Malays in their perfectly pressed shirts, gilded hats and sarongs, the African-Americans in their best suits, ties and/or bowties. But what I also see alarmingly too often are sweat-pants, t-shirts, tunics which you know alternate as sleepwear, long faces and disheveled hair. Sadly, I fear that may be the majority in too many mosques.

There is a Prophetic saying:

إِذا أَتَاك الله مَالا فَلْيُرَ أثَرُ نِعْمَةِ الله عَلَيْكَ وكَرَامَتِهِ

“If God has given you an income then display signs of His blessings and generosity upon you.”5

So, there is an element of gratitude and acknowledgement of God’s blessings when you take care of your appearance and utilize what He has blessed you with to look your very best. Yet, the Ottoman era scholar al-Munāwī is also careful to qualify this saying:

“‘And His generosity’ – that which He has bestowed upon you. For in attire is an indication of one’s overall condition, self-worth, self-respect, and hygiene. And it is so those in need will know to go to him, but he must be careful with his intentions and avoid all forms of excess.”6

With this, he also relates an interesting story therein about the famous scholar and successor to the Prophet (ﷺ)’s Companions, al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, wearing a shirt costing 400 dirhams. One time he met Farqad al-Sinjī, a known Sufi of the time, which sparked a telling dialog. In the early days of Islam, the Sufis wore coarse wool garments and, for this, some have speculated that the word “Sufi” may originate from the Arabic word for wool, Ṣūf. Farqad said reproachfully to al-Hasan, “O Abū Sa`īd, how soft is your clothing!” To this, al-Ḥasan replied using a lexical diminution7 of Farqad’s name, “O Furayqid! The softness of my clothes does not distance me from God, nor does the coarseness of your clothing make you closer to Him.” Al-Ḥasan then went on to quote the saying of the Prophet ﷺ, “God is beautiful and He loves beauty.” In another narration al-Ḥasan rebuked Farqad’s spiritual arrogance with: “They have piety in their clothing, but they have arrogance in their hearts.”8 Whether relevant or not, Farqad al- Sinjī later became considered a severely defective narrator.

So while we may feel that our theology is sound and we are the people of the true faith, there is something seriously wrong when Christians are in their finest clothes when visiting church on Sunday but we look like we’re running errands when we go for Friday prayers. It reflects our overall attitude, which comes across as clear as day in how we present ourselves and how we allow ourselves to be perceived by those around us. As al-Ḥasan al-Baṣri said, there are those who may dress simply but their hearts are full of conceit. Don’t be content thinking you’re the people of Truth if you don’t even look the part.

A Cornell University psychologist who chaired the conference When to Judge a Book by Its Cover: Timing, Context, and Individual Differences in First Impressions stated, “Despite the well-known idiom to ‘not judge a book by its cover,’ the present research shows that such judgments about the cover are good proxies for judgments about the book — even after reading it.” This research is particularly focused on impressions that are made within mere seconds of seeing someone and the results are that any negative impression garnered within the first few seconds can outlast any and all efforts to dispel them later through explanation or amiable conduct. So we can exhaust every effort in trying to convince our non-Muslim neighbors that we’re good people, but if we don’t look it, they won’t believe it. Fair or not, that is plain science. Would you find it easier to change human psychology or simply pay more attention to how you present yourself?

So, while the Vikings raided our coasts along the Caspian Sea and Charlemagne drove us out of Western France and invaded Muslim Spain, they were so impressed by us that they actually wrote poetry about us. We need to ask ourselves a very serious question: enemies aside, do we even leave that kind of impression upon our non-Muslim friends? Let us answer that honestly in the quiet of our conscience and, if necessary, make changes in our lives accordingly.

  1. Runelore: The Magic, History, and Hidden Codes of the Runes, p. 38, Edred Thorsson
  2. Medieval Scandinavia: An Encyclopedia, p. 38, Phillip Pulsiano, Kirsten Wolf
  3. The Song of Roland, 228:3164, Translated from French by John O’Hagen
  4. The Holy Qur’an, 7:31, Yusuf `Ali translation, 1938
  5. Recorded by Aḥmad, al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dawūd, al-Nasā’ī, and many others
  6. Fayḍ al-Qadīr Sharḥ Jami` al-Ṣaghīr, al-Munāwī
  7. Called Taṣghīr al-Ism in Arabic lexical morphology wherein a word is made diminutive, or to indicate “smallness”, by conforming it to the fu`ayl consonantal skeleton.
  8. Kitāb al-Zuhd of Aḥmad bin Ḥanbal, Fayḍ al-Qadīr of al-Munāwī, Muḥāḍirāt al-Adbā’ of al-Iṣfahāni, and others.
Categories: Muslim blogs

Reflections of a Black Convert – All You Who Are Dreamers

Imam Suhaib Webb - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 13:00

Reflections of a Black Convert: Part I | Part II | Part III – All You Who Are Dreamers

By Anthony Hardy

Photo: Bethan

“I don’t understand,” said a friend of mine who happened to be an agnostic, “if Muslims here are just as racist as the Christians, why the Hell are you still Muslim?”

This question had never been posed to me in all my years of being Muslim. I had given it ample thought. I hadn’t, however, formulated a cogent, verbal response for it in the event someone asked me.

“I mean,” he continued, “if one of the reasons you converted was because of the race thing, you didn’t get very far. Seems like you may have regressed a bit actually. Just seems like you going through a lot of trouble for this Islam stuff.”

I conceded his point. While some phenomenal Muslims, Black and non-Black, had crossed my path along my trek in this great faith, I can say with unwavering certainty the vast majority of my time as a Muslim has been filled with hardship, isolation, and loneliness. Some converts break and fold under the immense pressure to which they are subjected at the hands of the community and their families. Some apostate as a result. I can’t say I blame them. I wasn’t broken – alhamduliLah (praise be to God) – but I was scarred and bent: the human heart is a fickle and fragile morsel of flesh.

There really was nothing on the outside anchoring me to Islam: with the exception of my younger brother, himself a convert, I didn’t have any Muslim relatives; my culture wasn’t enmeshed in Islam; though I have a strong affinity for the Black Muslim community, I didn’t belong to any community in particular; and because of my experiences and the experiences of loved ones, I didn’t even want to belong.

I responded to my friend’s inquiry, “True, in terms of race, I probably did backtrack a bit. Still, there are some existential considerations for which Islam provides sufficient explanations that no other system of thought I’ve come across has the potential to answer. For that reason, I stick around.”

Islam mandates upon those who embrace its inspiration to submit their ego as best as they can manage to a set of transcendent principles and confers nobility upon those individuals who make earnest attempts to uphold those dignifying principles. Unlike in our society, where one’s worth is determined by wealth, lineage, extent of education, occupation, gender, sexual orientation, physical beauty, physical handicap and – yes – even skin color and hair texture, the notion of submission and adherence to a set of divine principles as the ultimate measure of one’s value is largely independent of the circumstances surrounding one’s genesis into the world or current station in the world and thus lends itself to a humble agnosticism concerning the ultimate worth of others: under such an empowering paradigm, even the jettisoned pauper, pygmy, or orphan has the potential to be a prince or princess in the eyes of God by virtue of character, actions, and outlook.

Each soul is granted a story of its own from its Lord related to where and when He chose to author it. The purpose of those different stories is so that we might all learn and grow from them all and hence from one another. We are meant to be mirrors unto one another. I remain Muslim, among other reasons, because Islam dictates by virtue of tauhīd (oneness of God) that my story and the stories and experiences of my people have intrinsic value for humanity at large, even if many in the world, including and especially Muslims, fail to recognize that value for our skin color, class, culture, or whatever. We are lessons to be heeded and learned. As it stands, large segments of Muslims in America deign to perceive themselves as superior to us because of what Allāh, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), has bestowed upon them out of His Mercy and do not wish to educate themselves with our stories or even has us in their company or communities or families, quite possibly out of the very essence of kufr (disbelief of God) itself, for it was Allāh (swt) Himself who created us as we are.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

— Qur’ān, (49:13)

Unfortunately, Muslims have done themselves, their families, their children, their communities, and their religion a grave disservice in their folly. Until Muslims begin to realize the source of their honor is with God alone, until Muslims resume their slave status before God and not to the inventions of men, physical or otherwise, my mother will continue to be correct and Black Muslims or other communities who have contributed or have the potential to contribute so much to Islam in America and throughout the world will only always be just “niggers” or “thugs” or “gangsters” or “scary” or “dime a dozen” or “too dark” or ‘abd or zenci or whatever other derogatory term cultures may design. We must muster the courage to strive against the false gods and false regimes of validation that have taken residence in our hearts and minds for the integrity of the community, for our collective existence in this country, and for the integrity and purity of our eternal souls before our Lord.

I pray for a better way forward. I can’t do it without you.


To sit and dream, to sit and read,

To sit and learn about the world

Outside our world of here and now –

       our problem world –

To dream of vast horizons of the soul

Through dreams made whole,

Unfettered free – help me!

All you who are dreamers, too,

Help me make our world anew.

I reach out my hands to you.

– Langston Hughes, “To You”

Categories: Muslim blogs

Should I Celebrate Christmas with my Non-Muslim Family Members?

Imam Suhaib Webb - Thu, 11/12/2014 - 13:00


Photo: Ania Mendrek

Each year I let my family know I will not be celebrating Christmas with them. Last year my mother gave us gifts that said they were from Santa Claus. At the time, I was pregnant and it became even more important to me that we distance ourselves from non-Islamic religious holidays. I know growing up how great the time was each year, and I hate making my parents feel so bad. I am not quite sure how to explain it to them anymore. I am stuck between my mother with major anxiety and my husband who doesn’t quite understand why it is so difficult for them. Yet another year is coming, and I now have a little girl, and I have to explain to my mother why I cannot see her at this time of year. I just saw them last month, and my mother already told me she has purchased “Christmas” gifts.   What should I do or say to them that will make it easier?


You are having a difficult time reconciling the importance of Christmas for your parents while desiring to raise your daughter adhering to Islamic traditions. It sounds like your husband does not understand the tension you are feeling when disappointing your parents year after year. You and your husband may not have discussed in detail how you would celebrate holidays given that your parents come from a different tradition, before getting married. Since your experience is completely foreign to your husband, he may not understand the significance of the holiday for your parents and the traditions they created with you as a child. It can be very difficult for parents whose children convert to Islam to understand that “family traditions” will no longer be celebrated because of their child’s new beliefs.

You and your husband will need to discuss how you wish to approach holidays with your parents and share this information together with your parents. Every family chooses to manage the holidays differently and these opinions may change as their children grow older. Depending on what you are comfortable with, you may choose to distance yourself from your family all together during the holidays or you may choose to join your parents in their tradition. You and your husband will have to decide together what is the best approach for your family. If you have shared with your parents that you do not celebrate Christmas and they insist on giving you and your children gifts, then you and your husband need to reconcile the idea of accepting gifts from family. Is it a challenge to your faith or an expression of love and generosity from your parents? Emulate the love you have for your parents by understanding where they are coming from and communicating with them your thoughts and views. As your children grow and new traditions develop, your parents may learn to adapt their traditions to what is more comfortable to you and your husband and even join you in your religious traditions as well.

WebbCounselors is a collaborative advice column produced by two WebbAuthors, Amal Killawi, a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education, and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in premarital counseling. Please note that our counselors are not religious scholars and will not issue religious rulings. To read our full disclaimer, please visit our disclaimer page. To submit questions to the WebbCounselors, please email

Categories: Muslim blogs

All Praise is to Him: Al-Hameed

Imam Suhaib Webb - Wed, 10/12/2014 - 13:00

Names of Allah Series:  Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIXPart XXX |Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI | Part XXXVII

“Thank you so so much! I really appreciate it,” I wrote to a stranger I had never met. I was so grateful to that man. In my first visit to New York, I had lost my phone in a cab. This phone had all my numbers in it, pictures, saved messages… everything. As silly as it felt to be making du`a’ (supplication) for something seemingly so trivial, I asked Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), to return my phone. I tried to have conviction that, because I had said the remembrances that day, I had not lost my phone.

Photo: Lucas ()

Indeed, the next morning, I received an email from the man who had found my phone. A few arrangements were made, and I was reunited with my phone shortly after. As I thanked that man, I turned to Allah (swt) in my heart and said, AlhamduliLah – all praise is due to Allah.

Al-Hameed: the Praiseworthy

It is befitting to learn about Allah’s Name al-Hameed after having studied His Name al-Ghani, as these two Names come together in the Qur’an. Al-Hameed comes from the three-letter root ha-meem-dal (ح-م-د), which is the opposite of the word al-thamm, which means to condemn. Something that is complete and perfect deserves hamd,while something that has faults or is incomplete receives thamm. This praise is accompanied with feelings of adoration, gratitude and submission. Al-Ghazali states:

“God – great and glorious – is the Praised by virtue of His praise for Himself from eternity, and by virtue of His servants’ praise for Him forever. But this comes down to the attributes of majesty, of exaltation, and of perfection, as they are linked to the repetition of those who continually remember Him, for praise involves recalling the attributes of perfection insofar as they are perfect.”

This Name is closely associated with shukr, meaningful thankfulness. But hamd is much more encompassing than shukr. Thankfulness is expressed to someone for a particular deed or favor, whereas hamd is praise and gratitude not simply for overt favors, but for the inherent qualities the praiseworthy possesses. Thus it is said that hamd (praise) is the pinnacle of shukr (thankfulness). Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth. And indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy (al Hameed)” (Qur’an, 22:64).

Thus Allah al-Hameed is the One we go to with gratitude and humility, praising Him not just for those favors we feel thankful for, but for His very essence and all His decrees. Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi has said that al-Hameed is the only One deserving of true praise, which is why we repeat in every prayer:

الحمدلله رب العالمين

All-Praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds

The importance of this Name is that Allah (swt) teaches us not to be attached simply to His blessings, but to His essence. Yes, He gives us, and we thank and praise Him for what He gives. But when we think of al-Hameed, it ceases to be solely about the blessing. We are reminded of His inherent attributes, of al-Hameed Himself, and thus we praise Him when things are good or seemingly bad, because they all come from Him. When we realize that good came out of the calamity we were facing, or on the Day of Judgment when we see how we are rewarded not only for our gratitude for the good but for our patience with the hardships, do we embody the spirit of praise, and say wholeheartedly: al-hamduliLah!

And thus His Name: the Praiseworthy, the Praised.

The Prophet and Praising Allah
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) praised Allah throughout his life, whether he was in hardship or receiving many beautiful gifts from Allah. In a famous hadith (narration), Aisha, radi Allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), saw the Prophet ﷺ praying for so long that his feet became swollen. So she asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah, why do you undergo so much hardship despite the fact that Allah has pardoned for you your earlier and later sins?”

He ﷺ responded: “Afala akuna abdan shakura? – Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Bukhari)

And what did the Prophet ﷺ say as he was praying in the night? Ibn `Abbas relates that the Prophet ﷺ used to say when he stood for the tahajjud (late night) prayer:
“O Allah! Yours is the praise. You are the sustainer of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. Yours is the dominion of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. You are the light of the heavens and the Earth and all that they contain. And Yours is the praise. You are the king of the heavens and the Earth. And Yours is the praise. You are the Truth. Your promise is true. The meeting with You is true. Your word is true. Paradise is true and the Fire is true. The prophets are true. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is true. The Hour is true…” (Bukhari, Muslim).

The Prophet ﷺ, throughout his hardships, reflected on the nature of this world. And he saw the majesty of Allah’s attributes in all of creation, and in everything that happened. And with awe, humility and gratitude, he makes that du`a’ we see above from all of His heart.

Paired Names
We know that Allah pairs many of His Names and attributes in the Qur’an. One of the reasons is to show us how these Names relate to each other. Al-Hameed is paired with a few Names in the Qur’an: al-Ghani, al-Wali, al-Majeed, and al-Hakeem.

1—Allah says: “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need (al-Ghani), the Praiseworthy (al-Hameed),” (Qur’an, 35:15).

If a human being is seen as self-sufficient, that usually causes him to withdraw from people. Since this person does not need people, he may not see any reason to help or to give or to be nice—and he is certainly not perfect in his essence. But truly glory is that Allah (swt) does not need anyone, yet He still gives people, and acts with ultimate wisdom, and is praised.
2—”And it is He who sends down the rain after they had despaired and spreads His mercy. And He is the Protective Friend (al-Wali), the Praiseworthy (al-Hameed),” (Qur’an, 42:48).

You might assign someone to be your lawyer, entrusting him to protect you. But if this lawyer is careless, and loses your case, he would not be praised, neither for his action nor for his essence. But when Allah is your Wali, you cannot help but praise Allah, who defends and protects His intimate friends.
3—”They said, “Are you amazed at the decree of Allah? May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house. Indeed, He is Praiseworthy (al-Hameed) and Honorable (al-Majeed),” (Qur’an, 11:73).

Al-Majeed, according to al-Ghazali, is “one who is noble in essence, beautiful in actions, and bountiful in gifts and in favors.” Thus while Allah is the Lord and commands that come from Him do not need to be explained, out of His nobility and bounty He explains many things in the Qur’an. So He is praised for that.
4- “Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise (Hakeem) and Praiseworthy (Hameed)” (Qur’an, 41:42).

Here Allah (swt) is pointing out to us that if we reflected on His decree, we would praise Him for His wisdom. Because while Allah does as He pleases, He is also the Most-Wise and thus there is always the best wisdom behind His actions.
Connecting to Al-Hameed

  • Praise Allah through the good and the bad

The Prophet ﷺ tells us that “AlhamduliLah fills the scales,” (Muslim). One way of retaining blessings is thanking and praising Allah (swt) for them. And through the bad, we should remember that ultimately whatever occurs is out of Allah’s wisdom, He is both Hakeem (all-Wise) and Hameed (Praiseworthy), and therefore we should remember to humble ourselves and praise Him.

  • Write down Allah’s Name al-Hameed and then write down all of Allah’s blessings upon you

We know the verse in the Qur’an where Allah states: “And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful” (Qur’an, 14:34).

Interestingly, Allah uses the word “favor”—ni`ma—in the singular, as though saying: even trying to enumerate the blessings of one single favor is impossible! To reflect deeply upon just one favor, and to ponder over its impacts, can fill us with so much awe for al-Hameed.

  • Speak well to people

Allah says in the Qur’an, “And they had been guided [in worldly life] to good speech, and they were guided to the path of the Praiseworthy (Al-Hameed)” (Qur’an, 22:24).

In a beautiful reflection, Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi says that it is as though the path to Allah al-Hameed is through good speech, as Allah also says: “[…] And speak to people good [words][…]” (Qur’an, 2:83).

A beautiful hadith of the Prophet ﷺ states that: “A person’s faith is not upright until his heart is upright, and his heart will not be upright until his tongue is upright” (Ahmad).

  • Praise Allah by using His gifts in His service

The highest form of praise is to use those gifts He has bestowed upon us in His service and therefore in good. But do not be like those who Allah says about them:

“And whoever exchanges the favor of Allah [for disbelief] after it has come to him – then indeed, Allah is severe in penalty,” (Qur’an, 2:211).

Belief is a blessing, but this can apply to other favors as well. If we use those gifts in ways that are unbecoming, then this is the opposite of hamd. The result is that our favors could be taken away, or perhaps worse, we cannot find the joy or sweetness in those favors. If we look at the story of Qarun in the Qur’an, he was given many blessings. He was from the people of Moses `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him). And Allah says, “We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men…” (Qur’an, 28:76). Yet Qarun tyrannized his own people, and had the gall to say, “I was only given it because of knowledge I have.” He did not attribute His gifts to Allah AND he used them for corruption. And what was the result?
“And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves” (Qur’an, 28:81).

May Allah protect us.

“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of Pleasure. Their call therein will be, ‘Exalted are You, O Allah,’ and their greeting therein will be, ‘Peace.’ And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds!’” (Qur’an, 10:9-10)

Categories: Muslim blogs
Syndicate content