Muslim blogs

Sappy Love

Imam Suhaib Webb - Wed, 30/07/2014 - 13:00

Photo: slimmer_jimmer

We know about sappy love movies, where lovers have that star-dazed look in their eyes and are willing to do anything- anywhere- anytime- to be with their lover. Well, that does exist in Muslim marriages. And while the following narrative may not be possible for everyone because of time restrictions, every couple can do something special to go the extra mile and show their love.

And for those skeptics who may think this couple just got married yesterday and therefore are still head over heels for each other…. The writer mentioned they’ve been married for five years! May God increase their love with every day that passes!

Pay special attention to their conversation: He loves seeing her, and not only does she love to see him…she loves to see him because she knows Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), will be pleased with her and will reward her for making her husband happy.

Again, this little story does not have to be yours. But think: What can be your story?

“I don’t work on Tuesdays. I have the entire day to myself. My husband works an hour and a half away.

Every Tuesday, instead of sleeping in or whatever, I choose to drive out to my husband’s work and have lunch with him.

I love it because it means we spend more time together, alhamdulillah (praise be to God).

My husband sometimes feels bad that I have to drive so much just for lunch and says, ‘Don’t make it a necessity. Do it if you can. Of course, I look forward to Tuesdays because you come.’

To which I reply, ‘That’s it, that’s all I come for, because you look forward to it. Moreover, I get rewarded for making my husband happy.’”

*If you would like share sweet glimpses from your marriage with hopes of spreading awareness of positive relationships in the Muslim community, please email Maryam@SuhaibWebb.com with a short narrative. Your submission may be featured anonymously in this mini-series of Glimpses of Marital Bliss.

Categories: Muslim blogs

On Unrealistic Love: Marriage Among British Muslim Iraqis

The Platform - Tue, 29/07/2014 - 17:21

The desire to find the ‘all-round’ partner has made marriage among British Muslim Iraqis unrealistic 

 

“There is a marriage crisis in the Iraqi community. Both guys and girls need to make more of an effort with themselves.”

I couldn’t agree more with what this friend said. However, what they meant and what I meant were not the same thing at all. Today, we are faced with more young, single, British Muslim Iraqis floating free while waiting for their perfect match to fall into their laps than we know what to do with. There has been an insidious change in our thinking and our values. We want to be 100 per cent certain without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best person for the best version of ourselves. So we wait. And wait. And wait.

There is a marriage crisis in our community because we are waiting. Waiting to finish degrees, to move up in our careers, waiting for a house, to travel more, do more, live more, all before we tie the knot. Marriage seems to be the end point, something we all want but later, after, anywhere but here and now. We chase material things first because of a misplaced sense of individual development that we fool ourselves into thinking is necessary for marriage. We want to be the best we can be for our partner and we look for the partner that can do it for us. The worst of all is waiting until we’re ready, as if we will be wake up one day having acquired all the right qualities we need to make the most important decision of our life, and with this infinite wisdom we decide that we want someone who has it all and no less.

There is a marriage crisis in our community because we want it all. Guys want girls who are young, beautiful (and not the subjective we-are-all-beautiful-in-our-own-way kind, but the objective if-I-asked-a hundred-random-people-they-would-all-say-you’re-beautiful kind), dress well, have degrees, can work for a living (but will give it all up to raise their kids), raise kids, cook like their mum, run a household, be the spiritual beacon of the marriage, share the same interests and do charity. Did I leave anything out? Probably.

On the other side, girls are no better. They want tall, older but not too old, masculine but sensitive, funny but mature, clever but not geeky, kind but firm. Someone who gives them attention but not too much that they become clingy, who is brave enough to make the first move but not so bold that they’re sleazy, who dresses well but not like they’re trying to, who has a degree that girls can show off, money to spend on their weddings and rich parents to buy them a house. A man who likes art and poetry but who can change a light bulb and start a fire. The end result? Hopeless singles.

There is a marriage crisis in our community because we don’t know what to believe anymore. We’ve lost faith in marriage, in our community and, worst of all, we’ve lost faith in our faith. The irony for us Iraqi Muslims is that Islam provides us with the guidance and spiritual motivation for partner selection and happy marriages, yet the last thing many of us turn to now is that religion. Qur’anic verses about marriage are stamped onto our wedding invites but not paid heed to. I can’t help but call out to you all to turn to our book, our prophet, his companions and his family and to take comfort in our Islamic ideology.

For centuries our religion has protested the importance of family values, of modesty, generosity, humbleness, and faithfulness.  To be content with God’s will. To strive for the afterlife and spend this life serving God. To choose a partner acceptable in faith and morals who can hold your hand and guide you through the twists and turns of life and fight away the taunts and temptations of a material world. A partner who will love you for who you are and all you are, accepting your strengths as blessings from God and embracing your weaknesses as tests of their faith. A partner who believes that if something is broken you fix it, not throw it away. A partner who can help you raise a better generation of Muslims than our own and one who, above all, can walk with you towards the gates of paradise.

There is a marriage crisis in our community but we can fix it, because we have one common tie that binds us all; our faith. It all comes back to that. One day we will realise that it doesn’t matter how we look, what we studied or where we live. One day we will take off our perfection-tainted glasses, we will lift the veils on our hearts and we will clear the clouds of doubt from our minds.  One day we will look for and we will see each other’s souls, we will appreciate the essence of who we are and we will fall head over heels in love with that.

Image from: http://sarahcarlin.com/wedding-singer/
Categories: Muslim blogs

After Repentance Comes… Hardship?

Imam Suhaib Webb - Tue, 29/07/2014 - 13:00

“And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls confined them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” [Qur'an, 9:118]

We are taught that no matter we do, Allah’s doors are open. No matter how big your mistake or how far you have been, just return to Allah, subhanahu wa ta`’ala (exalted is He). He is there—and because He is at-Tawwab, He wants to accept your turning back to Him. It is like when we are taught as children to own up to our mistakes: “I won’t be mad at you,” our parents might say, “just tell me if you broke the vase.” But what happens if, after we turn back, or own up to our mistake, we suffer even more hardship?

Photo: Don Davis

This beautiful verse talks about that. Ka`b bin Malik, radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him), made a big mistake. He procrastinated at a time when the Muslims were in desperate need of everyone’s help and cooperation, until he could no longer contribute. He stayed behind during the Battle of Tabuk, and he had no legitimate excuse.

When the army came back more than a month later, Ka`b was worried. He contemplated lying to the Prophet ﷺ(peace be upon him). But he knew he could not do that, because he knew that even if he lied to the Prophet ﷺ, Allah (swt) knows that he did wrong. So he told the truth.

What do we imagine to be the response? He told the truth, so he should be let off easy, right?

This is where repentance shows its sincerity. The Prophet ﷺ told him (and two others who told the truth that they had no excuse not to join the expedition) to wait for Allah’s decree. In the meantime, none of the Muslims were allowed to speak to them. Ka`b felt terrible. He said to one of the Companions, “Do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?” This continued for a long time.

Many of us would feel disheartened. We would wish that we lied. We would feel that our repentance was not accepted, otherwise why would we be punished like this? To add to that, some of the Christian Arab tribes heard about this and invited Ka`b (ra) to join them, saying they would support him.

What would you do? Imagine if you committed a sin, then repented. But after the repentance, all you find is hardship. Then you are tempted to sin again. Would you give up?

This story of Ka`b bin Malik (ra) teaches us not to give up after repentance. He refused their invitation, even though as the verse tells us, they felt that “the earth closed in on them”. He continued praying to Allah (swt). And the reward for that was being remembered in the Qur’an for eternity in the verse quoted above, as an example to all those who struggle after repentance. Allah (swt) will accept you.

Sometimes we need to learn from our mistakes. Being let off easy doesn’t help us, especially if we committed a wrong knowing it is wrong. Allah (swt) shows us in this example that even when it seems like He is punishing you, it is only for your own good. And if you are patient, and turn to Him even in that scenario, you will get something you could not have even imagined. As Allah (swt) reminds us:

“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect.” [Qur'an, 65:2-3]

Turning back to Allah—repentance—only brings good. Do not allow Shaytan (Satan) to mess with your head and tell you the reason you are facing hardship is because your repentance was not accepted. Allah (swt) has named Himself at-Tawwab, meaning He accepts ALL those who turn back to Him. He would never reject you and Allah never turns away the broken-hearted. Just be patient, and remind yourself that Allah is teaching you, like he taught Ka`b (ra). And remind yourself that, just like Ka`b (ra), Allah (swt) will give you something better than you could ever imagine.

Categories: Muslim blogs

`Eid Mubarak

Imam Suhaib Webb - Mon, 28/07/2014 - 08:00

`EID MUBARAK | Have a blessed `Eid!

May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) accept your fasts, your prayers and your supplications; and may the blessings of Ramadan continue throughout the year! Ameen. Enjoy this joyous occasion with your loved ones and keep the Ummah in your prayers!

Categories: Muslim blogs

Last Ramadan

Imam Suhaib Webb - Sun, 27/07/2014 - 23:06

Photo: Colleen P

My wife says that this could be her last Ramadan.  I protest saying it could be, but it could also be mine, and it could be anyone else’s, and that no one is guaranteed anything, anyway.   This is half-hearted and she knows it.  We do indeed all know that we are going to die but my wife—age 32, and a year into her diagnosis of stage 4 kidney cancer with metastasis to multiple organs and bone—is keenly aware of this.

Ramadan is a time to reflect on death and to turn platitudes like “remember death” into spiritual cures.  For many—and ourselves included prior to the cancer diagnosis —death was not routinely on our minds.  We may think about it during Ramadan, then we forget, settling back into our comfortable routine.

But cancer disrupts routine.  There are appointments and scans and side-effects and drugs.  There are waiting rooms filled with other patients, seeing their frail bodies and strong souls and then whispering, “May Allah save us.”  Your own body, weakening and shrinking, testifies to its eventual demise; the cancer is literally waging a mutinous war.  We shudder when reading articles that talk about survival in months, not years.  A quickly evaporating sense of time races perspective forward, and forces you to focus on the finite period of time you have left.  We have learned some lessons along the way, although we ourselves have by no means fully implemented all of them.  We still struggle every day. Nonetheless, we hope that sharing some of these realizations may help others benefit without the trial.

We have learned that effective use of time starts with paying real, active attention—to be firmly attuned to your state and the blessings surrounding you.  Whether that is pondering the richness of the Qur’an, the power of the ocean waves, the beauty of your spouse, the soft caress of a summer breeze, the miracle of your mental and physical faculties… Doing this consistently takes effort.  This diagnosis has given us an opportunity to deeply reflect on the bounty of our Rabb (Lord). What is important quickly separates, like cream rising from milk.  Frivolity becomes lame and spending moments with loved ones and God becomes paramount. And diagnoses like these shows that life is a collection of moments, and our goal should be to make each of those moments an act of ibadah (worship), because that moment is itself a mercy of our Creator.  Recognition and attentiveness to your blessings are keys to happiness.  Even in this difficult time we realize that we are still so very blessed. Remember the refrain:

“Then which of your Lord’s blessings would you deny?” (Surah Rahman)

Know that however bad you think you have it, there are better people who are in worse conditions.  Be grateful: “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (Qur’an, 2:152)

Going though this make it abundantly clear that control is only an illusion.  The veil is lifted and you are reminded over and over again that the only one in control is the One. “Allah [alone] is sufficient for us, and He is the best Disposer of affairs [for us]” (Qur’an, 3:173). In the end no one can help you, not your degrees, connections, doctors, friends, or family, unless God allows them to.

And the main means of accessing Him is through du`a’ (supplication), genuine, heartfelt—and in our case, desperate—du`a’.  Remember:  “And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way,” (Qur’an, 2:186).  We make du`a’ and beg everyone we meet to make du`a’ for us as well.

We are also reminded that the outcomes that we pray for may not be the outcomes that He has planned. Remember:  “It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you know not,” (Qur’an, 2:216).  It is a humbling reminder, but we still must maintain hope.  We continue to pray for what we think is best, but know that God may have something better in store for us.

In the end, we are all terminal—a mitotic misadventure away.  But do not wait for a calamity to bring you to your knees to remind you of this and make the most of the precious, limited, beautiful time you have now.

May we humbly request that you remember us in your du`a’.

The author wishes to remain anonymous.  You can contact him at: CancerIslam@outlook.com

Categories: Muslim blogs

Allah is Greater

Imam Suhaib Webb - Sun, 27/07/2014 - 13:00

By Aisha Shahnaz

It is drizzling outside and the raindrops gently fall against my window. Though it is raining, the sunlight has remained undiminished during the downpour, leaving an ethereal landscape that is caught temporarily between sunlight and rain. God’s mercy pours down upon us this Ramadan, this month caught somewhere between who we were before it came, and who we will be after it leaves, this month, fostering contemplation and compassion, while quenching thirsty hearts across the globe. How blessed we are to have been granted this opportunity once again, to be in the midst of such a long awaited and beloved realm of worship, reflection, and renewal.

Photo: Emil Melgaard

This Ramadan, many of us have been fervently shaken by the plights of our sisters and brothers, in humanity and in Islam, who are facing severe and unexplainable oppression, discrimination, poverty, famine, and injustice. A picture of a beautiful toddler fills my computer screen and my heart overflows with a sense of helplessness. I cannot help but cry. ‘Darling baby brother, why wasn’t I able to save you? Why wasn’t I there to wrap my arms around you and shield you from harm? I reel inside from the pain of having lost your precious smile, and the smiles of so many pure souls.’ I search for something to quell the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy—something to rein in the turmoil—and then I remember three words we hear with every call to prayer, three words we say every time we pray, three words that every atom of the universe testifies to, three words spoken so eloquently by our Imam at a janazah (funeral prayer) in our community some years ago. Three words that bring stillness to our souls and cause our anguish to transform with renewed purpose. Three words: Allah is Greater.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) is Most Great, and acknowledging this, means recognizing that He is truly Greater than everything. He is Greater than our anguish. He is Greater than our fears. He is Greater than our sense of helplessness. He is Greater than our inadequate attempts to make sense of the world. His plan is Greater. His knowledge is Greater. His promise is Greater.

Let us use this last Ramadan day

to do whatever is in our capacity. Let us pray, make du`a’ (supplication) with sincerity, reflect upon the Qur’an and its relevance, and donate our time, money, and effort to make serious changes for a more just and peaceful world. Let us excavate pathways to the hearts we own, and glean treasures of love and renewal along the way. Let us shed the bitterness and cynicism we have held onto for so long, and realize there are so many more important things to attend to. Most of all though, let us acknowledge with the very depths of our beings that indeed: Allah is Greater. Only then can we truly clear away the clutter that has filled our lives until this Ramadan, and return with humility to the One who is Most Great, and Greater than everything.

May Allah (swt) help all those who are suffering and oppressed, and alleviate their burden. May Allah (swt) help all those who holding onto their last threads of hope, and enable us to assist them to the best of our abilities. May Allah (swt) bless the aunty who shares her prayer rug, the uncle who passes out plates for iftaar (breakfast), the children who fall asleep on the masjid carpet, the donators and the volunteers, the hufaaz (people who memorized the Qur’an) and imams, with their recitations and supplications swirling up towards the masaajid (mosques) ceilings, the believers who entreat and shed tears of gratitude in solitude, and the rows of worshippers standing shoulder to shoulder in congregation, with the moonlight spilling through the window, late into the night.

The rain has diminished outside and the water droplets left on my window from the brief shower sparkle in the sunlight, like believers that glow with renewed purpose after being showered by Allah’s mercy in Ramadan. How blessed to have this beloved month. How blessed to be a part of this amazing, indescribable ummah (community). How blessed to know: Allah is Greater.

Categories: Muslim blogs

“O Allah, Make us of Your ‘Few’ Servants!”

Imam Suhaib Webb - Fri, 25/07/2014 - 13:00

From Kitab al-Zuhd by Ahmad bin Hanbal | Translated by Jinan Bastaki

I received this in a text message and thought it was beautiful, so I thought it would be nice to translate and share. It can be found in Kitab al-Zuhd by Ahmad bin Hanbal, and also in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah.

((.مر سيدنا عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه ذات يوم برجل في السوق. فإذا بالرجل يدعوا ويقول: ( اللهم اجعلني من عبادك القليل… اللهم اجعلني من عبادك القليل ..)

((.فقال له سيدنا عمر : من أين أتيت بهذا الدعاء ..؟؟ فقال الرجل…ان الله يقول في كتابه العزيز ((وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ

.فبكى سيدنا عمر…….وقال : كل الناس أفقه منك يا عمر..اللهم اجعلنا من عبادك القليل

إذا نصحت أحداً بترك معصية كان رده: أكثر الناس تفعل ذلك لست وحدي !! وﻟﻮ ﺑﺤﺜﺖ ﻋﻦ ﻛﻠﻤﺔ ” ﺃﻛﺜﺮ ﺍﻟﻨﺎﺱ” ﻓﻲ ﺍﻟﻘﺮﺁﻥ ﻟﻮﺟﺪﺕ ﺑﻌﺪﻫﺎ ( ﻻ‌ ﻳﻌﻠﻤﻮﻥ – ﻻ‌ ﻳﺸﻜﺮﻭﻥ – ﻻ‌ ﻳﺆﻣﻨﻮﻥ ) ﻭﻟﻮ ﺑﺤﺜﺖ ﻋﻦ ﻛﻠﻤﺔ “ﺃﻛﺜﺮﻫﻢ” ﻟﻮﺟﺪﺕ ﺑﻌﺪﻫﺎ ( ﻓﺎﺳﻘﻮﻥ – ﻳﺠﻬﻠﻮﻥ – ﻣﻌﺮﺿﻮﻥ – ﻻ‌ ﻳﻌﻘﻠﻮﻥ – ﻻ‌ ﻳﺴﻤﻌﻮن)

ﻓﻜﻦ أﻧﺖ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻟﻘﻠﻴﻞ ﺍﻟﺬﻳﻦ ﻗﺎﻝ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ ﺗﻌﺎﻟﻰ ﻓﻴﻬﻢ : { ﻭﻗﻠﻴﻞ ﻣﻦ ﻋﺒﺎﺩﻱ ﺍﻟﺸﻜﻮﺭ } { ﻭﻣﺎ ﺁﻣﻦ ﻣﻌﻪ ﺇﻻ‌ ﻗﻠﻴﻞ } { ﺛﻠﺔ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻷ‌ﻭﻟﻴﻦ ﻭﻗﻠﻴﻞ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻵ‌ﺧﺮﻳﻦ } ﻗﺎﻝ ﺍﺑﻦ ﺍﻟﻘﻴﻢ – ﺭﺣﻤﻪ ﺍﻟﻠﻪ : “ﻋﻠﻴﻚ ﺑﻄﺮﻳﻖ ﺍﻟﺤﻖ ﻭﻻ‌ ﺗﺴﺘﻮﺣﺶ ﻟﻘﻠﺔ ﺍﻟﺴﺎلكين، ﻭﺇﻳﺎﻙ ﻭﻃﺮﻳﻖ ﺍﻟﺒﺎﻃﻞ ﻭﻻ‌ ﺗﻐﺘﺮ ﺑﻜﺜﺮﺓ ﺍﻟﻬﺎﻟﻜﻴﻦ ”

Photo: Denis Collette

When Umar bin al-Khattab radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) was walking in the market, he passed by a man who was supplicating, “O Allah, make us of Your ‘few’ servants! O Allah make us of Your ‘few’ servants!”

So ‘Umar said to him, “Where did you get this du`a’ (supplication) from?” And the man said, “Allah in His Book says ‘And few of My servants are grateful.’(Qur’an 34:13)” So ‘Umar wept and admonished himself, “The people are more knowledgeable than you, O Umar! O Allah make us of Your ‘few’ servants.”

Sometimes when you advise someone to leave a sin, they respond with “But most people do it, it’s not just me!” But if you look for the words “most people” in the Qur’an, you will find that most people “do not know” (7:187), “do not give thanks” (2:243) and “do not believe” (11:17). And if you look for “most of them”, you will find that most of them are “defiantly disobedient” (5:59), “ignorant” (6:111), “turning away” (21:24), “do not reason” (29:23), and “do not listen” (8:21).

So be of the “few”, whom Allah says about them:

“And few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13)

“But none had believed with him, except a few.” (11:40)

“In the Gardens of Pleasure, A [large] company of the former peoples, And a few of the later peoples.” (56:12-14)

Ibn al-Qayyim (ra) said, “Go on the path of truth and do not feel lonely because there are few who take that path, and beware of the path of falsehood and do not be deceived by the greatness of the perishers.”

Categories: Muslim blogs

Cornwall Beyond the Caricature

The Platform - Thu, 24/07/2014 - 01:04

Amid the cute cottages and lush river valleys there is a county with a distinct identity and challenges of its own

 

“A county where, it must be remembered, a stranger is doubly a stranger, in relation to his provincial sympathies; where the national feeling is almost entirely merged into the local feeling; where a man speaks of himself as Cornish in much the same way that a Welshman speaks of himself as Welsh.” Wilkie Collins

From an outside perspective, a rural Cornish childhood can seem like something from an Enid Blyton story. But holes in that idyllic narrative begin to form after moving to civilisation, accentuated by memories of walking half a mile up a hill to send a text, and of busses that only pass once a day. Some shops even continue, in an archaic fashion, to close at midday on Wednesdays. Life in a land of technological exile may sound familiar to anyone who’s experienced a rural upbringing, and who may wonder what makes Cornwall any different.

Despite sometimes being caricatured as a land of backwards bumpkins, being overlooked and less integrated has helped Cornwall to retain its character. Its ancient language and heritage is especially relevant in light of the acquisition of national minority status under European legislation, which dredges up debates about what being Cornish actually means. The question of Cornish identity is a controversial one: there are those who feel it has little relevance in the modern world, and others who believe it’s been deliberately suppressed. Sceptics may question what differences really remain between the Cornish and English: Cornwall has long been considered an English county. The idea of a separate ethnicity may therefore seem farcical and unwarranted in a predominantly white county, known for drawing wealthy city-dwellers who have romantic notions of living a quiet country life.

On the other hand, their new status will allow the Cornish to be acknowledged in the same way as people from other ‘Celtic’ nations, such as the Scots and Irish. It seems equally farfetched to suggest that a Welshman is Welsh but a Cornishman is English, despite the close linguistic and historical links between both Celtic nations. The population of Iron Age Britain originally consisted of individual tribal territories, and Cornwall is a remnant of this shared past.

Tens of thousands of people declared themselves Cornish in the 2011 census, despite no specific tick box allocation. In light of this, a distinction between the English and Cornish should be acknowledged, rather than offhandedly bundling together two groups who have historically considered each other foreign. To reject the idea of the Cornish as a British sub-group would misrepresent their heritage and their own self-identification, thus treating them as less significant than the UK’s other recognised groups.

Indeed society can be strengthened by its diversity, so minorities of any kind should be taken seriously. The campaign for a Cornish Assembly works towards a similar system to Wales, also faintly echoing Scotland’s impending referendum on independence. But with rumours of Britain pulling out of the EU, as well as the rising voice of right wing and separatist movements in the UK, insular thinking and further isolation would be unlikely to work in Cornwall’s favour.

Once considered the world’s most skilful miners, Cornishmen quarried their landscape for over 40 centuries. Yet with the assault of modernity and unification with England, Cornwall’s claim to local autonomy crumbled along with its redundant mines. The enduring engine houses now stand like empty skeletons on the horizon: iconic spectres of a more economically sufficient time.

Cornwall is known for its mysterious standing stones, prehistoric burial mounds and tales of smuggling, piracy and rebellion. It’s problematic to discuss the history of England and Cornwall as if they’re the same. The Tudors considered the Cornish a distinct nationality, many of whom did not speak English. This slowly diluted over time through the influence of Britain’s various invaders, Cornwall’s industrial decline and the emigration of much of its workforce. By the 18th century, the use of Cornish was taking a westerly retreat towards the Celtic sea, eventually drifting away on the tongues of elderly fishermen.

Its last native speakers may have died generations ago, but the language has since seen a gradual resurrection, with a growing number of schools now offering Cornish lessons. This revival was part-funded by the EU’s ‘Objective One’ programme, which aimed to reduce regional disparities in some of the poorest parts of Europe. Although there are those who feel there are more important projects in need of funding, the progress of the Cornish revival clearly demonstrates a flourishing interest in preserving its use.

These days, Cornwall is targeted by well-off second home-owners, while at the other end of the scale, local people scramble at the bottom of the property ladder. Cornwall also has the second worst rate for homelessness in the country, next to the borough of Westminster. Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys are now considered the UK’s poorest counties, ranking them as some of the most deprived areas in Western Europe. There are also serious limits on health care, despite the prevalent issues of drug abuse and mental health problems in Cornwall. Inhabitants can’t always get adequate medical treatment locally so end up travelling elsewhere, sometimes as far afield as Birmingham. In addition, low youth retention, high rural poverty, and a population that is both ageing and growing means that some people continue to work past retirement while the health services are pushed to capacity. Despite being a popular retirement spot, Cornwall’s councils pay some of the lowest rates towards residential care for the elderly, as well as recently ceasing funds for a number of care charities.

Earlier this year, major repair work took place on the storm-torn railway tracks which had effectively severed Cornwall from the rest of the country. David Cameron finally declared the South West ‘open for business’ in April, ahead of his annual Cornish holiday. But Cornwall and its 532,600 residents don’t just shut down as soon as the tourists disappear. Perhaps it’s easy to imagine the whole county as a whimsical holiday park that ceases to exist past July and August, while the inhabitants of its twee tourist traps retreat into a 10-month hibernation. Sir Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, described Cornwall as ‘one of the hubs of the creative industries in Britain’ but stressed the need for a better infrastructure.

Along with plans for large-scale rail improvements, additional funding is now working to improve ‘higher education infrastructure and better employment prospects’ which has led to ‘reductions of younger people leaving Cornwall’, according to the Council. It should be seen as a privilege to grow up in Cornwall rather than a detriment, so a boost to the economy may begin to change negative perceptions.

If its new minority status is taken seriously, this may help to highlight Cornwall’s place on the map and show that the county contributes something more to Britain than the legacy of the pasties that continue to grace the service stations of the nation. It’s easy to appreciate why Cornwall is an attractive holiday destination, serving people’s need to escape to somewhere evocative of a slower, simpler time. If Cornwall became too modernised it might compromise that appeal. So while this singular pocket of the West Country struggles to sustain itself in a limbo between its past and future, it is vital to establish a balance between preserving and improving it.

Image from: http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/
Categories: Muslim blogs

Boyhood: 12 Years of Growing Up

The Platform - Wed, 23/07/2014 - 23:09

Stripped of all the usual blockbuster tools, Boyhood succeeds as a thorough journey of intricate relationships and moments of awkwardness

 

WARNING: Contains Mild Spoilers

Rolling Stone calls it movie of the year, its rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a whopping 99 per cent and the only three films rated higher than it on IMDB are The Godfather I and II, and Shawshank Redemption. Most importantly, it made it to number one on our top five most anticipated movies of 2014. Boyhood is a coming-of-age drama by director Richard Linklater filmed over a period of 12 years, meaning we can literally watch the characters grow on the silver screen.

The film isn’t what you would typically call a box office hit, and for obvious reasons too. It doesn’t have explosions, car chases or even any real plot. The main character is played by an unknown actor. There is simply nothing blockbuster about it that would appeal to the general audience. The movie is comparable to a nearly three-hour long documentary that follows the life of Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane), capturing his growth in seemingly random moments. Nonetheless, the film sparked joy among critics, and Boyhood producer John Sloss is so confident in the film, he offered a ‘Time Back Guarantee‘ for those who failed to be pleased with it.

We meet Mason Jr in elementary school and track his journey as he transforms from an adorable, cherub-like five year old into an independent man going off to college. Along for the ride we have Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke), who comes back into the lives of our protagonist and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) to regain some sort of relationship with them. Patricia Arquette plays the children’s mother, trying to build a stable life for her kids, which is constantly disrupted by her failed attempts at romantic love. Among family drama there is teenage love and loss, the societal pressure to fit in but the need to stand out, and some really, really bad haircuts.

Boyhood equates to flicking through an old photo album. There are moments you reminisce and laugh about, and others that make you cringe and want to hit your head against a wall just to forget. The film proves to be a nostalgic ride, marking time lapses, through the obvious changes in age, and also through the use of music, and the evolution of fashion and technology. From Britney Spears to Lady Gaga, and buzz-cuts to hair so ridiculous, there are no words in the English dictionary that could do it justice; we get to revisit the noughties all over again.

The critical acclaim of the film is aided by the detail of the relationship between the immediate family members, it comes across effortlessly natural onscreen. That may be significantly due to the fact that these actors had the opportunity to build a genuine rapport with one another in the 12 years they came together to make this film. However, Coltrane and Linklater’s interactions with other characters were at times verging on painful to watch, and it isn’t clear whether this is because Mason Jr and Samantha are awkward characters, or their inexperience in the acting world is far too evident.

Additionally, the uncomfortable viewing was enhanced by Mason Jr’s view on life as he came into adolescence. His conclusive personality was at times annoying and pretentious when he constantly voiced how he felt humans were progressing into robots, living through machines via Facebook, Twitter and other sources. Though Mason may have a point in his ideologies, it loses credit owed to his unrelenting reiteration of his assessments. Soon it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the desire to grab him by the shoulders and shake him while saying, “okay, we get it!” He stops being a philosophical, deep thinker with an interesting perspective on life, and starts being one of the kids you used to hate in school because they thought they were so much wiser (but actually more disillusioned) than you.

With all Mason Jr’s profound beliefs, perhaps the most interesting line of the film was said by Hawke’s character when a young Mason asks his father if real magic exists. Mason Sr answers his impressionable son with the best response a father could give. He tells the young boy that if he didn’t know what a whale was, and someone told him that there was a giant mammal that lived underwater with a heart as big as a car and arteries one could crawl through, he’d find that pretty magical. The quote captures the essence of the entire movie and offers a clue as to its success with critics. There doesn’t need to be a plot with vampires and wolves and super humans, there doesn’t need to be a cinematic spectacle, because real life with its ups and downs is pretty darn special.

Big movies are amazing to watch with their manipulation of reality through the use of green screens and visual effects but, at times, human truths are heard through the little whispers offered by films such as this. The film scores a solid seven out of ten.

Image from: http://boyhoodmovie.tumblr.com/
Categories: Muslim blogs

Worship of the Heart

Imam Suhaib Webb - Wed, 23/07/2014 - 13:00

Qur’an Reflections

“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” [Qur’an 29:45]

Photo: Umar Nasir

Reciting this verse of Qur’an always makes me stop and reflect on my prayer.  Allah subhananhu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) tells us that “as-Salaah” – the prayer – that we perform five times a day prohibits immorality and wrongdoing. So I ask myself, when was the last time my prayer had a significant effect on my actions outside of prayer?

Every act of worship has an internal element, an external form and a lasting effect after the action itself ends. The internal element of prayer – the worship of the heart – is khushoo’ (devotion). It is to connect with every aspect of the prayer and thereby connect to Allah, being in deep conversation with Him. Fiqh covers the external form of prayer. And if those two are sound, or at the very least, we make an effort to make them sound, the effects will be lasting.

If we attend an inspirational talk, we leave feeling inspired. If we were really touched, we want to act upon the knowledge we gained and truly change. The inspiration might fade after a while, but the initial effect was there.

Prayer comes five times a day to give us that inspiration. It comes to remind us of what this is about ultimately. And if we truly connect, we will find that simply coming out of the prayer puts us in a state that keeps us away from immorality and wrongdoing. Because after connecting to the heavens, how can we come back to the earth to ruin it?

Categories: Muslim blogs

The End of Every Matter is Better

Imam Suhaib Webb - Tue, 22/07/2014 - 13:00

From Tareq Al-Suwaidan | Translated by Jinan Bastaki

Tareq Al-Suwaidan shared the following:

(قال الله تعالى (وللآخرة خير لك من الأولى
!! إن أول ما يخطر على أذهاننا في تفسير الآية أن الدار الأخرة خير لنا من الدنيا

.
..ولكن الآية تحمل معنى أوسع يقول : عاقبة كل أمر لك خير لك من أوله
ولذلك فإن بقية السورة كلها تأكيد لهذا المعنى
ألم يجدك يتيما) هذا أول الأمر (فآوى) هذا آخره)
ووجدك ضالا) هذا أوله (فهدى) هذا آخره)
ووجدك عائلا) هذا أوله)
،،فأغنى) هذا آخره)
.
, فذكر نفسك دائما أنك تتعامل مع رب كريم
من أوصافه سبحانه وتعالى أنه يختبر العبد بأول الضيق ثم لابد أن يفرّج وينتهي الأمر بالسعة
.
..لابد أن تكون الآخرة خير من الأولى في كل أقدار الله وتكون الآخرة خير من الأولى لمن رضي عن ال
(من احمد الهاشمي فرج الله عنه)

Translation:

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says:

“And verily the latter portion (al-aakhira) will be better for you than the former (al-oola).” [Qur'an 93:4]

The first thing that comes to mind is that the Hereafter is better than the dunya (this life).

But this verse carries another wider meaning: what comes after every matter is better than its beginning.

And that is why the rest of the surah (chapter) affirms this meaning:

“Did He not find you an orphan…”—that is the beginning of the matter—”and give [you] refuge?” and that is the end of it.
“And He found you lost…”—this is its beginning—”…and guided [you]” and this its end.
“And He found you poor…”—this is the beginning—”and made [you] self-sufficient” is its end. [Qur'an 93:6-8]

So remind yourself always that you are dealing with a generous Lord. One of His characteristics (swt) is that He tests His slave in the beginning with constriction and then it ends with an opening.

There is no doubt that the latter portion will be better than the beginning in all of what Allah has decreed, and the end will be better than the beginning for those who are content with Allah.

[From Ahmad al-Hashimi]

Categories: Muslim blogs

Give Peace a Chance

The Platform - Mon, 21/07/2014 - 21:20

Our search for peace should be paramount in the month of Ramadan and positive interfaith initiatives have paved the way towards this

“The number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s Book, the day when He created the heavens and the earth. Of these, four are sacred. That is the upright religion. So do not wrong yourselves during them.” The Qur’an 9: 36

“Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called children of God.” Jesus speaking in Matthew 5:9

I was keen to write on the subject of peace, because Ramadan inspired me to consider the centrality of it at this time of year. In the midst of national and international tensions, thinking about peace takes us to the heart of our traditions and the outworking of what we believe, especially during times of communal turning towards God.

It can be superficial, or unhelpfully competitive, to compare the Christian seasons of Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) with Ramadan. However, there are similarities and all have repentance at their core; with repentance comes seeking God and God’s peace for ourselves and others, rather than extremism, violence, terrorism and war.

This is why we must challenge strongly the assertions that religion is behind the majority of conflicts, or that Islam specifically is a dangerous religion. With that in mind, two years ago, also during Ramadan, we produced this statement highlighting the significance of peace in opposition to acts of violence, stating, “Peace with God and our fellow human beings is at the heart of Christianity and Islam. We acknowledge that believers do not always make clear that they are for peace and against violence.”

This year, three peaceful Ramadan initiatives have caught my attention:

1. Sarah Ager’s (@saritaagerman) Interfaith Ramadan blog series highlights the creativity and personal experiences of people of other faiths engaging with Ramadan, as well as Muslim openness to other faiths. The counter-intuitive message of this campaigning blog is its gentle emphasis that Ramadan is for everyone.

2. The Ramadan Tent project at SOAS University takes Ramadan – prayers and iftar – into the public space and the open air, with the same harmonious message. This is heightened with the setting of an outdoor central London location, sharing seating space on the grass with others, many of whom are non-Muslims. One particular feature of Ramadan Tent is that non-Muslim speakers, mostly interfaith activists, are asked to share their experience of Ramadan, which is both a sign and a fruit of real peace.

3. Similarly, the Big Iftar, this year with government funding (a welcome investment in the Muslim community), has been encouraging not only mosques, but also churches and synagogues to host iftars. Social media has treated us to the hugely peaceful sight, against the backdrop of renewed hostilities between Israel and Gaza, of Jews and Muslims sharing iftar at a synagogue in Golders Green. The event was so controversially peace-building that both Jews and Muslims commented that it was unfortunate that it took place during a time of appalling conflict and loss of life elsewhere. This is a reminder of how vital it is to work for peace, and express fully the significance of our most meaningful religious observances.

It could be coincidence, but positive messages in the media about Muslims working and praying for peace have been very noticeable during Ramadan (shared on Twitter using hashtag #RamadanPeace), emphasising spirituality and non-violence. This includes the Muslim Council of Britain’s statement on ISIS and Iraq, Muslims praying for peace in Nigeria and an open letter from Imams encouraging people to stay away from Syria.

Most recently, Christians and Muslims, actively involved in building good relations between both their faiths, were invited for iftar by Archbishop Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace. It is a sign of Ramadan coming of age in the UK that this first specifically Ramadan-related initiative was at the centre of the Church of England. The Archbishop spoke of the importance of friendship between Christians and Muslims and of reconciliation. He was followed by another man of peace, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, challenging us to see the real meaning of Ramadan as more than just fasting, but rather, spiritual refreshment and reconnection to God. Both led us in heartfelt prayers for peace, forgiveness and strengthening of relationships between people of both faiths.

As a friend of Islam, I echo that message of the great potential of Ramadan. As a Christian engaging with Muslims, I decided over 10 years ago that I could not do this work without becoming familiar with the Qur’an and investing time and energy into reading it, both to myself and within the masjid (mosque). To reiterate what I told the audience at the Ramadan Tent at the beginning of this Ramadan, I had spent a couple of days engaging in i’tikaf (retreat) in Nottingham. During a very intense first night, the last sixth of the Qur’an was recited for about six hours, and that experience of extended concentration on scripture has remained with me.

Ramadan gives time and space for focusing on the Qur’an, God willing, rather than boning up on “a manual of hate” as some have said, with a yearning for peace and harmony, and avoidance of fitna (dissension, unrest), a frequent Qur’anic injunction. What better time than Ramadan, which is nearing its end, to talk about peace and give it the profile it deserves, acknowledging that people of faith, for a large part, have not done enough or said enough about it.

Peace!

Image from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/ramadan-2014-photos_n_5543326.html
Categories: Muslim blogs

Henri Matisse: Between Clay and Paint

The Platform - Mon, 21/07/2014 - 02:00

Much like music and dance, Henri Matisse’s cut-outs show layers of motion at the Tate Modern exhibition

 

As an innovative 20th century painter, Matisse now has works adorning many a living room with a youthfulness and luminosity reflecting the environment in which he worked. In the last 17 years of his life he turned to an entirely new approach – cutting shapes from painted paper – a technique that is explored in this latest exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Extending over 14 rooms, the exhibition shows the journey of Henri Matisse using cut-outs. Whilst working on a painting, he would make sketches exploring alternative viewpoints or versions of the composition, and then use the cut-outs to explore how the objects within the painting could be combined differently. Allowing his imagination to reshuffle the shapes, Matisse found he could evoke a movement and dynamism to the work. As you move through the exhibition, the cut-outs start to take a life of their own, developing an increasing sense of motion. This reflects Matisse’s fascination with dance and, in fact, several of the artworks shown here display close links to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich which also involves strong movement. In 1937, he began to design the scenery and costumes for a ballet choreographed to Shostakovich’s Symphony #1.

Another purpose for Matisse layering cut-outs on top of each other was to convey something of a three-dimensionality and texture in the figures he was depicting. In the work, ‘Jazz’, where he uses this to full effect, the cut-outs gain real depth, moving from what could almost be seen as tools to help build his main art, to stand-alone works in their own right. What the exhibition conveys clearly is the way Matisse must have likened the paper he worked with to something of a cross between paint on a canvas and the clay of a sculpture. This notion comes across particularly in ‘Blue Nudes’, one of his best known cut-outs. He describes the process as “cutting into colour” in which the scissors carve out both an outline and the contours of something more solid.

The shapes then become an integral part of Matisse’s own environment as demonstrated by later rooms in the exhibition, where his cut-outs were stuck on and, effectively, became a wall paper in the outline of birds, fish, coral and leaves which adorned his Paris apartment and his home and studio in Vence, Southern France. They increased in scale, often nearly reaching from floor to ceiling and overwhelming the space.

For Matisse, though, it seemed important to also use shapes to give his environment a fluidity, so he would move the cut-outs around by pinning them to the wall in one position and then shifting them as the ideas behind his clusters altered. Today, these same shapes have been traced and glued to their final positions, preserving something of the concept that must have lain in his head.

The exhibition reveals what his bedroom and studio would have looked like, a space he turned into a replica of the Dominican Chapel at Vence, where he was once asked to advise on the design on a stained glass window. The airy atmosphere he managed to create suggests a lightness the artist must have had throughout his life, even to the very end, creating designs that could draw breath from everything he experienced, past and present; nature, people, dance, objects, Moorish mosaics and religious expression, but without becoming over-burdened with any subject.

While the exhibition depicts a prolific artist who had a wide-eyed absorption of the world, it nonetheless leaves the viewer with a feeling of art that never went particularly deep. Instead, you are left inspired to decorate your own space with cut-outs by Matisse that would inevitably bestow an optimistic joyousness to your own surroundings.

The exhibition continues at the Tate Modern until 7 September 2014. 

Image: Jean-Claude Planchet / Henri Matisse's "The Horse, the Rider, and the Clown," 1943-44, currently on view at the Tate Modern.
Categories: Muslim blogs

Stand for Gaza [Video]

Imam Suhaib Webb - Sun, 20/07/2014 - 20:15

Imam John “Yahya” Ederer explains the history of Zionism, its effect and its propaganda machine. He says the tide is turning, and it is time to act and stand for justice.

Stopping the Evil of Zionism – What We Can Do

Categories: Muslim blogs

Palestine’s Mountains of Blood and Shattered Bones

The Platform - Sun, 20/07/2014 - 17:08

Civilian casualties mount in Palestine from Israeli aggression, as western politicians and the press neglect the facts on the ground

 

Palestine has been faced with one of its worst attacks since 2012, with bombs pounding across the Gaza strip consecutively since the 8th of July, and a ground offensive since the 17th. Gaza is one of the densest cities in the world with a population of 1.7 million. The death toll now stands at over 400, with over 2500 injured. Many of those murdered are children, including four boys who were shelled to death on Gaza’s beaches in view of world media. The numbers are ever-growing into mountains of blood and shattered bones. Medical supplies are running low due to the vast number of casualties, homes are reduced to ashes and survivors are faced with psychological damage as a result of the constant fear of death.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comments that this is a war against Hamas and they are not bombing civilian territories. His words contradict the UN report which confirms that almost 80 per cent of the deaths in Palestine are of civilian citizens. A startlingly large number of the victims are children being slaughtered like lambs to feed Israel’s sadistic hunger for control of Palestinian land. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says, “Israel must go all the way… A full takeover of the Gaza strip is Israel’s only course forward.”

Israeli politicians propagate a warped definition of what it means to be violent extremists, and their actions openly violate international humanitarian law. Since when did schools, homes, refugee camps and even disability centres stop being civilian territories? When did infants, barely able to walk, become terrorists? This is collective punishment – and the only real risk Netanyahu and his supporters face is the risk of drowning in all the blood they are spilling.

While Palestinian children are constant victims of Israeli aggression, Israeli children are encouraged to visit the Armoured Corps Memorial in Latrun and envision themselves killing Arabs. This provides a perfect example of how hatred and racism is consciously taught, damning numerous Israeli children to a life devoid of compassion for their Palestinian peers. The extensive control that Israel enforces across its occupied territories hardens young Israeli hearts to resemble the rubble to which they reduce Palestinian homes.

Unfortunately, much of our most respected media outlets are complicit in Israel’s crimes against Palestine. The BBC, along with many others, have taken a pro-Israeli bias in reporting the current massacre in Gaza, misleadingly portraying the conflict between Israel and Palestine as an equal struggle. They have also failed to cover the mammoth protest outside the Israeli Embassy on the 11th of July, where ten thousand people of various backgrounds took to the streets of London in an effort to provide Palestine with justice. The BBC continues to have sympathetic ears solely for Israel’s 66-year-long reign of terror, exemplified in former emails from the newly-appointed Middle East online editor, Raffi Berg, which have shown a careful effort to downplay Israeli violence. Feet stomped against asphalt, fists ripped into the air and throats roared with cries for Palestine’s freedom, as flags of red, black, white and green danced in the wind. It is united campaigns, such as this, that restore hope for humanity every time Zionists so viciously crush it, but still, the shouts for freedom are static noise to the BBC, even when the protest on 15 July took place on their doorstep.

There have also been protests in many other cities in the UK and abroad, including Paris, Hong Kong, Karachi, South Korea, Netherlands and across the US. Some protests faced violent crackdown: Indian troops fired into a pro-Palestinian protest in Kashmir, killing a teenager. Nevertheless, mainstream news has overlooked the determined unity for Palestine, and France has become the only western country to ban pro-Palestinian protests.

Tragically, David Cameron has echoed BBC prejudice after a Downing Street spokeswoman stated that Cameron “reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel”. The prime minister also recently remarked that “Israel has a right to defend itself”, a statement uncannily similar to one made by President Obama. Amnesty International is now calling on the UK government to halt the supply of arms to Israel, which amounted to £6.3 million last year alone.

Further ignorance has ensued in the claims by some that the popular expression “Freedom for Palestine” is code for “Kill the Jews”, a false and deceiving assertion. Orthodox Jewish rabbis attended the London protests, declaring that they wish to see Palestine free, while waving Palestinian flags and quoting the Torah in Palestine’s defence. One rabbi made a speech against Israel’s violent actions, as the rest joined with the crowd declaring, “Israel is a terrorist state”.  These men, high authorities of their faith, could not possibly be wishing death upon their own people.

Yesterday, an estimated 100,000 participated in protests in London to increase pressure on David Cameron with regards to his alliances. It was an opportunity for people from all over Britain to come together, put their foot down and demand justice. BBC, surprisingly, produced a small online article on the event, but not without offering Israel’s excuse for its ground attack in Gaza. Palestine will be heard through the voice of thousands here in the UK, regardless of and the silence of our politicians.

It truly is a heart-breaking time for humankind when hundreds of protests must take place to spread the simple message that it is wrong to kill children.

Image from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/19/gaza-london-protest-pictures_n_5601766.html?utm_hp_ref=uk
Categories: Muslim blogs

Starting Anew—Al-`Afuww

Imam Suhaib Webb - Sun, 20/07/2014 - 13:00

Photo: Paul Oka

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

This article was originally posted on August 15, 2012 and has been modified.

Sometimes we make a mistake or commit a wrong that other people know about. We may have given up the sin, or it may have been a one-off, but we just wish that we could erase the memory of that mistake from the minds of those other people. Similarly, when we commit a sin only Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), knows about, even when we repent and hope for His forgiveness, we wish we never committed the wrong to begin with. We wish it would just disappear. Allah (swt), who is closer to us than our jugular vein, knows this. And so He has given us way of starting anew, insha’Allah (God willing).

The Last Ten and Pardoning

Subhan’Allah (glory be to God)—the last 10 days of Ramadan have begun. One of these nights will be Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) insha’Allah—a time for intensified reflection, worship and giving. Aisha radi allahu `anha (may God be pleased with her), realizing the magnanimity of this time, asked the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?” He said: “Say:

اللهمإنكعفوتحبالعفوفاعفعني

Allahumma innaka `afuwwun, tuhib al-`afwa fa`fu `anny

O Allah, You are the One who pardons, and You love to pardon, so pardon me.” (Bukhari)

 

Out of all of the things the Prophet ﷺcould have advised, he taught us to ask for ‘afw. ‘Afw is sometimes translated as ‘forgiveness,’ but so is maghfira [i.e. when we say astgahfirullah, I seek forgiveness from God]. Unfortunately, there is something that is lost in translation, because ‘afw is more expansive than maghfira—and here we will see why.

Meaning

One of the meanings ‘afw is the complete removal of something—removing its traces. For example,

هذهأرضٌ عَفْو

“This is a land with no traces on it, i.e. it is untouched.”

So what does this have to do with the du’a (supplication), “O Allah you are ‘afw, and You love al-’afw, so have ‘afw on me”?

When we ask for maghfira, we are asking for Allah(swt) to cover up our sin for us and to protect us from the effects of our sin. We ask Allah (swt) that even though we committed that sin, that He not punish us for it. When we ask for ‘afw, we are asking Allah (swt) to completely erase the sin, such that its traces are also removed. This means that our slate is literally wiped clean—there will be no questioning for those sins on the Day of Judgment insha’Allah. 

The Prophet ﷺteaches us about this difference in two ahadeeth (narrations). In the first hadith, the Prophet ﷺtells us about a person who is questioned by Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgment. Allah tells His servant, “O my servant, do you remember when you did such and such a sin?” and the servant will lower his head in shame, nodding, thinking that surely he will be of the people punished. Then Allah (swt) tells him, “I concealed these sins from people in dunya (world), and I will not shame you here. I have forgiven you (ghafartu lak).” (Ahmad)

That is maghfira.

In the second hadith, the Prophet ﷺis told that 70,000 of his ummah (global community of Muslim believers) will enter jannah (paradise) without reckoning because:

عفا الله عنهم

“Allah has pardoned them.”

And then the Prophet ﷺasks for more, so with every thousand people of those pardoned, Allah will pardon 70,000 more. And Allah is Al-’Afuww’- He name Himself this to let you know that indeed He is the One that completely erases your sin. He knows everything we do, yet He chooses to wipe our slate clean.

Laylat al-Qadr and ‘afw

Sufyan ath-Thawri said, “During this night [i.e. Laylat al-Qadr] the most beloved thing for me to ask for is what the Prophet ﷺtold us to ask for.”

This is a night of ambition. We don’t simply ask for forgiveness, but for removing even the traces of our sin. We ask for a clean slate. The Prophet ﷺtells us of a person who goes to the Eid prayer after Ramadan and he does not have one sin in his book—it was all pardoned.

When Allah (swt) tells us about ‘afw in the Qur’an, it is usually with something major—as if to tell us, there is no sin too great. It can all be wiped away.

When the Children of Israel worshipped the calf, Allah (swt) tells us:

“And [recall] when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights. Then you took [for worship] the calf after him, while you were wrongdoers. Then We forgave [pardoned/'afawna] you after that so perhaps you would be grateful.” (Qur’an 2:51-52)

Allah pardoned, wiped away the greatest sin—the sin of shirk (polytheism). So if you come to Allah (swt) sincerely in these last 10 nights, if you come to the One who loves to pardon, then insha’Allah He will erase that sin you are so worried about, and those many sins for you.

O Allah! You are the One who pardons, and You love to pardon, so pardon us!

Source: Lecture by Amr Khaled

Categories: Muslim blogs

In the Shade of Ramadan

Imam Suhaib Webb - Sat, 19/07/2014 - 13:00

In the Shade of Ramadan is an annual online video series produced by MAS Youth during the month of Ramadan. ISR is a series of educational and motivational reflections featuring various speakers across the country. This year’s ISR season is a continuation of last year’s, reflecting on the Forty Hadith of Imam Nawawi, and will feature 27 episodes (an episode every day).

Epsiode 1: Shaikh Jamaal Diwan introduces Season 7 of In the Shade of Ramadan with an explanation of hadith (narration) #2 from Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

Episode 11

Episode 12

Episode 13

Episode 14

Episode 15

Episode 16

Episode 17

Episode 18

Episode 19

Episode 20

Categories: Muslim blogs

Website Blackout: #LiftTheSiege

Imam Suhaib Webb - Fri, 18/07/2014 - 23:25

On Friday, July 18, SuhaibWebb.com joined a host of other Muslim websites in an online blackout in support of Gaza. Our press release, explaining the online protest, is below.

Prominent American-Muslim Websites Initiate Online Blackout
Internet Protest to Call Attention to Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

(7/18/2014) – Today, five of the largest American-Muslim websites are simultaneously participating in an online blackout to raise awareness about the ongoing Israeli incursion in Gaza that has claimed more than 200 Palestinian lives–most of them civilian according to the United Nations–and one Israeli life. The websites have shut down for 24 hours, and redirected viewers to a message prompting them to take action around the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

SEE: Four Out of Every Five Palestinians Killed in Gaza Have Been Civilians, UN Reports

The first-of-its-kind online protest organized by American-Muslims aims to mobilize community members to advocate for Palestinian human rights. The daily estimated audience of the websites is more than 80,000.

What: Onlineblackout to raise awareness about the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza
When: July 18, 2014
Participating Organizations(in alphabetical order):
HalalTube.com  | IdealMuslimah.com | MuslimMatters.org | QuranWeekly.com  | SuhaibWebb.com

The group of websites is calling for an immediate ceasefire to prevent the further loss of innocent lives, and advocating for a just, comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It condemns the violence that has led to trauma on both sides. Visitors to the sites are being urged to contact their local representatives in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in order to express their concerns over the growing humanitarian crisis.

Categories: Muslim blogs

Ex Nihilo – From Nothing

Imam Suhaib Webb - Thu, 17/07/2014 - 13:00

Photo: Jason Mrachina

By Zaheen Uddin

 

Sitting here, waiting, waiting for epiphany to strike.

Thinking in reflection, sinking in perplexion

Mind winds up, thoughts line up, time winds down understanding hikes

Sensation is in elation, reverberation in air particles’ perception

Suddenly everything is in slow motion.

Because logic, reasoning and problem-solving ability

Are clearer than a summer sky that knows no notion

Of a straggling cloud in the celestial sea of tranquility

Abstract materializes, realizes the vices

Of the hidden within that were veiled before

Synesthesia of the mind makes sounds dance in colorful silence

Violet vox, turquoise trills, lavender lore

Black and white are dark as the day, bright as the night

When shadows are cast behind and the eye of the night outshines the rest

And dark distinguishes danger from delight

With an inner eye that foresees beyond light of the West

Because the evanescent sun extracts the last tracks of day

In between gone and here it is a phantasmagoric sphere

Giving a clear criterion of what is on land and what remains at bay

Beyond which an unconscious ocean is near, so clear

Pristine it appears, but here, not a ray of light shines down

Complex in its contents, deep in darkness

Creatures deep within it are fatefully bound

By the confines of the abysmal harness

Deeper and deeper I plunge within

Pressure strengthens as complex composition concentrates

Steeper and steeper I delve into sin

Wetter, better yet more fettered as it palpitates

Blind now, deaf of sound and unable to comprehend

Light seems impossible in a place where hope dies

Empty, yet so heavy, there seems to be no end

To the evil, the deception, the ineptness, the lies

I crawl myself out with no known avail

It’s too damp and too dark to try

If only I had never set out to subconsciously sail!

At this point it’s so damp I can’t even cry

Too much thinking, too deep, abstract

The window of opportunity is long past gone

I’m lost, I lost black, I’m trapped

The perceptive lights that were once bright are no longer on.

I close my eyes to my impending doom.

I give up, forfeit, let the tides take me

Out of the ocean, out of the sky I zoom

Into the singularity of my soul, and it breaks me.

 

Silence, solitude, severance and sadness

Nothing, null, nada, naked

I’m left alone in the centroid of madness

Rotten, forgotten, hated, forsaken.

 

“Awaken,”  I hear a voiceless voice say

Within me, around me, surrounds me, intimately

Eyes flash open, body is frozen; I lay

On the bay. I once was in close proximity, infinitely

Ecstatic, erratic, emphatic tears wet my face

Once drier than the most monochromatic and mundane

Who brought me here, where was that place?

And how did I get back to the higher plane?

I knew the answer, yet I didn’t.

Closer to me than my jugular vein,

I felt my pulse, it beat to the rhythm

Of the universe’s call inside the walls of my brain.

Within me, about me, without me, intricately

Designing and planning a masterful plan

Refining and aligning, as I am so insolently

Denying, lying, and crying towards my hands

“Truth was made clear and falsification has left,”

Said once a noble amongst mankind

And the same I say after once being bereft

Of the blessing that was graced by the divine.

That man, that mercy, that messenger, that martyr,

Was a part of my heart, from end, from start

I remember his message, from a life that was harder

Than the toils upon which any one of us embark.

His message was this:  “Whatever is willed is never to miss

And whatever misses you was never to hit.”

And “Glad tidings to the righteous of perpetual bliss”,

And “Whatever wrong is against your soul, and good is merit.”

I remember this, and the ember’s hiss also known as desire

Dies down until the illumination of what surrounds

Stops flashing about and what was once furious fire

Is now doused by the waters to douse what’s aroused

Arise from the mist, determined, clenched fist

I realize my purpose in earnest and my wish

And the voice that was voiceless yet I so dearly missed…

Was one I always knew, true as the sea’s blue; I know this.

It wasn’t far, it was always near.

I just couldn’t hear, with my fingers in my ears

So close, so great, so compassionate, so dear

In my darkest moments, do You truly appear.

 

And so I want to remember You

Wherever I am, if I’m planning a plan You are planning too

With love unmatched I cry tears true

Because of fear, love, trust and weakness of man

You are the Friend I never knew

But always there, for eternity

No matter how dark it is, I can still see You

God, my God, you are always sought internally

 

Today though… everywhere…

will I look for You.

Categories: Muslim blogs

Space Travellers and Code Breakers of the 2014 Big Screen

The Platform - Thu, 17/07/2014 - 01:04

Five of the most anticipated and intriguing films of 2014 set to make an appearance on the big screen

 

Making a selection of films is always arbitrary, and perhaps never more so than when we think about the number of films produced across the globe that are not widely distributed. The summer of sport is almost over and the second semester of the year is nearly upon us. So in keeping with the festivals that took place this year, and the release dates, here is a timely preview of some of the most anticipated films of 2014. (There is a prevalence here of English-language films, as these are five you might find in your local cinemas.)

Along with the five listed below, it’s also worth mentioning Goodbye to Language (Adieu au Langage) in 3D, the 117th film by Jean-Luc Godard and winner of the Prix du Jury (Jury Prize) at Cannes Film Festival. Despite being widely reviewed in the UK, the release date of Goodbye to Language remains unknown.

Another one to look out for is Clouds of Sils Maria, a Swiss-German-French international co-production directed by Olivier Assayas, featuring Juliette Binoche as the protagonist and American actresses, Kristin Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz. Clouds of Sils Maria has been screened at a number of important festivals and selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Also look out for Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner which portrays the life of the British painter JMW Turner, played by Timothy Spall.

1. Boyhood

Richard Linklater, USA

Starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Marco Perella, Boyhood is the result of an experimental project by the American director, Richard Linklater, who is known for films such as Fast Food Nation, Before Sunset and Waking Life. Since 2002, Linklater has filmed leading actor, Ellar Coltrane, to narrate the growth process of Manson Jr from childhood through to college. The film has received enormous attention from film magazines and cinephiles, and thus heads the top of my selection of most anticipated films of 2014.

2. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan, USA and UK

This sci-fi epic by British director Christopher Nolan, who also directed critically acclaimed Memento, as well as blockbusters such as Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, centres on a team of space travellers’ interstellar voyage to explore a newly discovered wormhole. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine, Nolan’s Interstellar has already generated a lot of Oscar-buzz, making this intergalactic travel a key film of 2014.

3. A Most Wanted Man

Anton Corbijn, UK, USA and Germany

Known as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final film role (although his final big screen appearance will be in the forthcoming Hunger Games sequel), A Most Wanted Man is based on the novel of the same name by British writer John le Carré (who also authored the gripping spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Along with the late Oscar winner, this espionage-thriller features an impressive cast which includes Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright, Daniel Brühl and Nina Hoss. Set in Hamburg, Germany, A Most Wanted Man is about a German counter-terrorist, played by the late star, who is trying to capture a half-Chechen half-Russian immigrant. The reception of A Most Wanted Man at the Sundance Film Festival and its frequent association with Seymour’s legacy are indicative of its potential success.

4. Two Days, One Night  (Deux Jours, une nuit)

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne Belgium, Italy and France

The Belgian Dardenne brothers directed this festival favourite starring Marion Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione. Cotillard plays Sandra, a mother of two who, after a period away from her work at a solar-panel company, tries to return to her job. As an attempt to downsize the work force, the company lets Sandra’s co-workers choose between a 1000 euro annual bonus and Sandra’s permanence at work. The plot allows an exploration of issues pertaining to the Belgium workplace as Sandra begs each co-worker to renounce their bonus to save her job. This decisive situation poses ethical questions while leaving space for identification with different perspectives than that of the protagonist. The impressive critical reception of this film was a decisive element for its feature in this list.

5. The Imitation Game

Morten Tyldum UK, USA

The Imitation Game is the English-language debut film by Norwegian film director, Morten Tyldum. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode, this historical drama is about the British pioneering computer scientist and World War II code-breaker, Alan Turing. Although the film has not been released and little has been written in terms of criticism, the film trailer and actors’ interviews, combined with the fact that it is a biopic of a fascinating figure of the 20th century, The Imitation Game is bound to be an imminent success.

Image from: http://geektyrant.com/news/trailer-for-christopher-nolans-interstellar-is-coming-december
Categories: Muslim blogs
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