Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Reader's request

As salaamu alaikum,

I got the following from a reader :

Dear Amatullah Abdulla

First of all let me introduce myself—Iam Shagufta –currently working .Iam 23years of age. As you see iam at the age of getting married –like any other parents—my parents are also worried about my wedding.

I have been the victim of this dowry and know exactly how horrible it feels when somebody judges you in terms of money and break the engagement just for some amount.

When I read your article about Dowry —I thought this could be a right platform for me to raise my voice and to find justice to all those women who has also been the victim of dowry .

I could request you read my article (PFA) and help us to eradicate this system in Islam.

Sr. Shagufta wrote:

Your article dated Feb 2006 on “The Bride Price Dowry Abuse” ( also entitled Dowry in Islam!? ) have motivated me to raise my voice against the criminal act called DOWRY .In today’s world where every corner the priest are raising their voice for not demanding dowry, nor accepting dowry –still every second family demands the dowry and they are people who are also giving the demanded dowry. Families, who can afford the amount, have no problem but what about the families who cannot afford it. What are the priests doing with such matters? Is there is no law who can stop these people or punish them? Is there is no law in Islam?
Today if we don’t stop such people, nor punish them we can never stop dowry system .In all this cases the girl is the victim where as the boy escapes without any difficulty. Bridegroom’s families break the engagements and at times even the weddings for dowry. Is money is more important than somebody’s life. Does Islam permit this? If NO what are the steps are taken to stop this dowry system. To be honest-no efforts have been taken by any priest except few lectures.
In my opinion, strict laws have to be implemented for both the family who demands it and also to the family who encourages dowry. We have so many good priests who have transformed so many people by their teaching-Why can’t they all come forward and do something about it.
Today marriages is like barter system-if you are rich and can give maximum dowry, you will get better husband and a good family .Most of the Muslims seek fair and beautiful girls, incase they don’t demand dowry they want the wedding to be rich with all the world invited( large wedding parties) or need the maximum gold. Will all these people enjoy what they are doing; will they ever learn a lesson?
Why can’t we women’s have the authority to punish them, as per my knowledge in Islam-Both men and women have given the equal rights then why does the man enjoy the privilege of all the decision. We women who can’t even raise their voice against dowry as we are enclave by the bonds of parents respect. We are advice to stay away from all this. But I could like to put my step forward against dowry and could like to know if any laws-so that we can teach a lesson to all those people who believe in Islam, but never follow the true meaning of Islam.
Kindly let us know what the laws in Islam are for people taking dowry.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Julaybib, The Prophet's Companion: A Hope for Desperate Souls

Amatullah Abdullah
There are many outstanding Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who come to mind throughout Islamic history. Some are huge in stature, and others are humble, yet highly respectable or brilliant in some way. Julaybib was a beloved companion of Prophet Muhammad however, not a likely figure to make it in the ranks of celebrated heroes of Islam.

His life and deeds were not sung nor recounted with reverence as they should be but with the meager facts available one sees hope for humble souls through his life.

Julaybib was not tall, or handsome, he was not known to be a gallant warrior on the battlefield before the advent of Islam. His personal attributes appeared so contrary to the normal heroes of old.

Julaybib was an orphan, deformed and extremely short. He was brutally rejected by society because the people were more concerned with his physical appearance and status than integrity.

His story is significant and many lessons can be learnt from it. It shows us a lot about how a human being can be devalued based on superficial things. His life is an example and hope for souls filled with despondency because they do not measure up to the norms set by society. His story touches the hearts of many even today.

Julaybib was an orphan from Madinah and acquired his name before embracing Islam. His name means "small grown" in Arabic which denoted his physical appearance. He was extremely short and could be compared to a dwarf when considering today's definition. It is also noted that he was even described as "damim" in Arabic which means deformed, unattractive or of repulsive appearance. In addition to his physical appearance, another important factor in his mistreatment had to do with his lineage. Lineage was an essential part in the Arab society he lived in, just as it is still important today in many cases. One's lineage determined his or her status in the society. His physical appearance, and unknown lineage, made people shun and spurn him. He was an outcast which caused him much public humiliation and disgrace.

Facing such disdainful treatment, Julaybib was apparently a lonely soul yearning for love and compassion. As he was carrying the burden of prejudice on his shoulder from the time he was born, companionship, love and compassion became alien to him.

There were often times, a question as to whether this man would even taste any compassion or respect in his life. The question cleared with his acceptance of the Prophet Muhammad's message of Islam.

He became a devoted servant of Almighty Allah and beloved companion of Prophet Muhammad. He gained respect and affection from Prophet Muhammad, for his sincerity, integrity and strong Islamic belief. Julaybib earned the honor he yearned and became one of the most valued companions of the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad cared deeply for this soul. He was sensitive of Julaybib's needs, and this is evident from the hadith where the Prophet approached a man from the Ansar (Madinah Muslims who helped the Makkans when they emigrated to Madinah), seeking the hand of his beautiful daughter in marriage on behalf of Julaybib. The Islamic scholar, Imam Ahmad, has recorded this incidents in Julaybib life as follows:

The Prophet went to a man of the Ansar and said:"Give me your daughter for marriage."The man answered excitedly, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah , it would be an honor and a blessing."For which the Prophet said, "I do not want her for myself."The Ansari man asked, "Then for whom, O Messenger of Allah?"And the Prophet answered, "For Julaybib."When the Ansari man heard this, he was shocked and said, "O Messenger of Allah, let me consult her mother." So he went to the girl's mother (his wife) and told her, "The Messenger of Allah is proposing marriage for your daughter."The wife of the Ansari seemed overjoyed and said, "Yes, it would be a pleasure."The Ansari explained to his wife that the Prophet was not proposing to marry their daughter for himself but he is proposing on behalf of Julaybib.His wife was almost shaken and immediately responded, "What! Julaybib? No, by Allah, we will not marry her to him."

When the Ansari prepared to leave to meet the Messenger of Allah and mentioned to him his mother's disapproval, his daughter, a pious Muslim, asked her father, "Who is asking for my hand?"

Her mother told her that the Prophet was asking her hand on behalf Julaybib.

Their daughter instantly asked them, "Are you refusing to follow the command of the Messenger of Allah? Follow his command, for I will not come to any harm."

The following is illustrated in the book Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid:

Hearing her daughter's word, the Mother's heart being filled with remorse said: "Stop my daughter, don't say another word indeed I have erred I repent and I repent a thousand times over for as of this moment their is no one who I would prefer for you than Julaybib."

The following day the marriage was in place, Uthman and Ali, two of the Prophet's Companions, presented Julaybib a gift of money to help arrange the wedding reception, and to purchase necessary accommodation.

So the Prophet married the beautiful daughter of the Ansari to Julaybib who was once rejected by the whole society. The attitude of the daughter of the Ansari was that of a true believer.

The daughter's attitude shows her confidence of a Muslim woman who could not be influenced by the whims of the society. Unlike the parent's of today's world who are more concerned about status and money, her parents' reaction to her approval explains how Islam does not pressure a woman nor does it disregard her right to choose her husband.

Islam gave the happiness Julaybib deserved and he lived happily together with his beautiful wife until he was martyred.

The following hadith is another proof that Julaybib was indeed dearly loved and valued by Prophet Muhammad:

...After a battle, the Prophet asked his Companions:

"Is anyone missing amongst you?"

They said: "So and so and so."

He asked them again: "Is there anyone missing amongst you?"

They answered: "So and so and so."

He asked them for the third time: "Is there anyone missing amongst you?"

They said: "No."

Thereupon the Prophet said:

"But I see that Julaybib is missing."

The Companions searched for him amongst those who had been killed and found him by the side of seven enemies whom he had killed. He had been killed. The Prophet came there and stood by his body and said:

"He killed seven people. Then his opponents killed him. He is mine and I am his."

He then placed him upon his hands and there was none else to lift him but the Prophet Muhammad. Then the grave was dug for him and he was placed in it. ( SahihMuslim)

The man whose life was filled with despair and struggles won the hearts and admiration of many through his pure intentions, traits, and love for Islam and the Prophet. It is really amazing to note how this man of small stature managed to hold a sword and kill his opponent. He was able to accomplish much chivalry through the Prophet's encouragement.

There are so many lessons to be learnt from Julaybib's life. His story is a reflection of Islam. Islam ended his desolate world of disparagement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Houston Rockets unveiled a monument to honor the outstanding achievements of Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon,

By Amatullah Abdullah, Iqra Newspaper
The Houston Rockets unveiled a monument to honor the outstanding achievements of Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, on April 11, 2008. The ceremony took place outside of the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Olajuwon retired after 18 successful years in basketball. He was selected as one of seven basketball icons to be honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. There was something different about his Hakeem's monument. Instead of a towering statue with his image frozen in time, in keeping with his Islamic principals, the bronze monument displayed a huge image of Olajuwon's retired jersey number 34.

( Read full article by clicking here :

Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to make turkey


My friend Karema, who is an American wanted to cook a traditional American dish - Turkey. I have never cooked a turkey before and I was all excited. She instructed me how to prepare the turkey and guided me step by step. It was fun and a new experience for me. I couldn't wait to call my parents in India and let them know I cooked a whole turkey!. We had video taped the whole things and you can view it by clicking here: " How to Make a Turkey"

Cook the Turkey and let me know how it turns out!. Enjoy!

Orchids: Aren't they full of grace and elegance



Orchids are one of the most beautiful flowers I have seen. It is so amazing when we think about the beautiful creation of God! This was an orchid , which I saw at whole foods and got it as a special gift for my friend who is a nature lover. Subhan Allah! it is so beautiful to see its bud bloom one by one. This is a picture whick I took last week. There are three more buds to bloom!
A little about Orchids:
The term 'orchid' derives from the Greek ορχις orchis, The word "orchis" was first used by Theophrastos (372/371 – 287/286 BC), in his book "De historia plantarum" (The natural history of plants). He was a student of Aristotle and is considered the father of botany and ecology.
Orchids are cosmopolitan in distribution, occurring in every habitat, except Antarctica and deserts. The great majority are to be found in the tropics, mostly Asia, South America and Central America. They are found above the Arctic Circle, in southern Patagonia and even on Macquarie Island, close to Antarctica.
Orchid Care tips:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mother: A Soul to be Cherished

A woman fully attains womanhood when she becomes a mother. Mother is a beautiful word, incomparable beyond means! Regardless of the language used to say it, the beauty of the word ‘Mother’ never dies. In Islam the status of women is unambiguously unique and bears no comparison to any other depiction with regard to women, particularly mothers, in any faith known to mankind.

A mother's love for her unborn child is generally instinctive from the time she learns of her pregnancy. A mother loves and tries all that she can to keep the baby away from harm even before the baby’s arrival. She is ready to risk her life to shield her baby from harm. She is more concerned about the life, which came out of her than her own..

When a mother feeds her baby, she is ready to forgo her comfort and sleep for the baby. A mother sacrifices her comfort and sleeps when she is feeding her baby. This proves she is more concerned about her child than herself. A mother’s worth cannot be measured and her sacrifices for her child are inexhaustible. That is why Islam stresses so much on the importance of a mother.

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth" (46:15)

The following statements of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) refers to the apparent gentleness of mothers and the respect that ought to be paid to them, for in a patriarchal (before Islam), the focus was mainly on the man in his years of strength.

The Prophet Muhammad said, “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother” (Ahmad, Nasai).

Narrated by Abu Huraira:A man came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man said. "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man asked for the fourth time, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your father." [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Narrated by Asma bint Abu BakrDuring the period of the peace treaty of Quraish with Allah's Apostle, my mother, accompanied by her father, came to visit me, and she was a pagan. I consulted Allah's Apostle, "O Allah's Apostle! My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relation with her?" He said, "Yes, keep good relation with her." [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Every human, as a child , yearns for a mother’s touch and affection but the moment one walks into adolescence one tends to take their mother for granted. If they utter any word against our wish, we start to look at them as a rival instead of realizing that they are trying to protect us and guide us. We seem to forget all that they did right from the time Allah put us in their womb. I completely realized my mother’s worth only after I had a child. Can we imagine what or how our lives would have been without our mother? What would we have done? Who would have changed our diapers? Who would have fed us? Who would have kissed us ? Who would have hugged us? Who would have comforted us when we are going through hardship?…

Our Prophet Muhammad’s beloved mother, Amina, passed away when he was barely six years. His mother took him from his foster mother with the hopes of showering love and affection to her wonderful child. But he was not destined to enjoy the warmth, love and affection of his mother. Just imagine what that tender heart would have felt? With how much hope and dreams he would have left with his mother from his foster mother Halima. Just imagine how much he would have missed his beloved mother.

Reading Prophet’s Muahmmad childhood life would bring tears to people’s eyes.

**Even after losing his mother at such a tender age his perseverance never died. He bore everything patiently. Whenever He visited the grave of his beloved mother, tears used to stream down through his cheeks. Off and on he remembered his gentle mother on memorable occasions.

It is fard (obligation) for every Muslim to seek forgiveness for our parents and to pray for their well-being .

"Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood' "(17:23-24).

We have the privilege of enjoying the warmth and affection of our mothers right from our childhood and still lack gratitude for this wonderful soul, which our Creator blessed us with. We should be thankful to Allah for giving us this wonderful opportunity to be with our mother and take pleasure in her affection. Let us acknowledge this blessing and do our best for this beautiful soul. Indeed mothers are the souls to be cherished!


Copyright Amatullah Abdullah

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Racism in the Ummah?

Note: Caste System is still prevalent in India today (Though the Indian Government has otlawed the Caste system. )

It was lunch break. Shalini (of person belonging to the highest caste in hindu caste system) took out the vegetables from her lunch basket she usually carried to work. Anu a new employee and a colleague, asked Shalini for a cup with which to drink some water. Shalini held out a cup to Anu ( considered to be the lowest caste or "untouchables"), with her facial expression changing at once. When Anu left the room to get her basket, Shalini mumbled, "If I were not in a work environment, I would prefer not to let anyone use my utensils." Hearing this, my head joggled in disappointment. The thought of racism disgusted and saddened me. For me, it was definitely not acceptable to see this attitude from someone who works side by side with me.

When I arrived home, the mumbled comment echoed in my mind. I was thinking about the beautiful religion Islam and our Muslim brothers and sisters. My heart said, al-hamdu lillah, I am Muslim and there is no such thing as a caste system, but my mind jolted.

---From the dawn of time, even before man was created, Allah (swt) created the Angels, and Jinn. Angels were made out of light and Jinn were made out of smokeless fire. Adam, the first human, was created from clay. When Allah ordered both Angels and Iblis to prostrate to Adam, the Iblis refused, out of arrogance thinking himself (made from fire) to be better than Adam (made from clay).

"And (remember) when We said to the Angels: 'Prostrate yourselves to Adam', and they all prostrated except Iblis. He refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers" (Qur'an 2:34)

"(Allah) said: 'What prevented you (Iblis) that you did not prostrate?' Iblis said; 'I am better then him, you created me from fire and you created him from clay'" (Qur'an 7:12)

Man has undeniably fallen prey to Shaytan by adopting the attribute of pride and arrogance leading to racism.

Many Muslims of today believe that racism does not exist in our communities. We often hear how “there is no racism in Islam” and “Islam is a religion of tolerance and equality,” yet racism can be found in our Ummah unfortunately. Some forms of racism can be overt and others subtle all leading to un-Islamic behaviour. Racism in action causes individuals to develop into hostilities and superiority complexes against others based on many factors: skin colour, ethnicity, and nationality. Not only does it cause hurt and pain to individuals, it causes fitnah which divide and weakens our communities.

Racism and Islam is an oxymoron. The two just do not fit together. There are numerous stories of racism during the Prophets (pbuh) time. During jahiliyah period (Pre-Islamic), racism dominated many parts of the Arab world in different forms such as tribalism, cultralism, etc. After Islam entered into people’s lives, life started changing for many who were considered inferior.

Bilal, was an esteemed sahabah. He was the first Muazzin to perform the first call to prayer. This was great honor, when considering his humble background. He was a slave before coming a Muslim, tall, dark brown with thick coarse hair and thin cheeks. Imagine the uproar in today’s time if an immigrant worker appointed to be the Speaker of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington. It would seem shocking an odd. There were also shock waves in Bilal’s time. His position brought out the inner prejudices in people.

He lived during the time when tribalism and racism was at its peak. There were many wars and inter fighting among different tribes. Arabs considered themselves to be superior to Africans. The society was based on a tribal system. Anyone outside of the protection of their own tribe faced the harshness of a volatile world. Just as other societies were rules by the caste system, a person was identified by the tribe or caste they were born into. A person born into slavery, lived the life as a slave.

Islam gave individuals their equality. Because in Islam all people were considered equal. Regardless of race, skin colour and nationality.

"O' mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Indeed the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is the one with the most piety"
(Qur'an 49:13)

Many other sahaba kife changed because of Islam. Julaybib (r.a.) was one of them. Julaybib means small grown, the name indicated his stature being small and short. He was also described as being “damin”which means ugly, deformed, and of repulsive appearance. In addition, he was considered more inferior because his lineage was not known. This was a great disability in the Arab society in which he lived. Arabs usually placed a great deal of importance on family and tribal connections. He was always ridiculed and shunned by the society because of his disability. Some of them would not let him enter into their homes. A man called Abu Barzah of Aslam tribe once told his wife, “Do not let Julaybib enter among you, if you do, I shall certainly do something terrible against him.” He could not expect any compassion support or help from the society. At this time one might have wondered if there was any hope for Julaybib being treated with respect and consideration as an individual and a man. The noble Prophet gave him help confidence and encouragement. He was able to perform acts and make supreme sacrifice and deserve the commendation of the Prophet (saw) Prophet said “he is of me and I am of him.” ( extracted from Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid)

In spite of all the anti racist elements in Islam, Muslims have marred by individual behaviour, which is contrary to the ideals of Islam. Different forms of racism exist in today’s time: tribalism, culturalism and .xenophobia. Some Muslims are uptight and prejudiced about other Muslims who are from different culture or nationality.

Rabiah* , an Indian living in the UK who is having problems finding the right man for marriage, feels that if her family were not so strong about their culture, she would be married right now. She says that her parents are finding it difficult to find a good brother [groom] as "most of them want a dower from the bride's family." Rabia says, "There is a good brother-in-Islam from the UK who approached me for marriage and he said he would pay a mahr (dower), but my father was insistent about me getting married to an Indian and told me that he would rather borrow money from people to pay the dower to someone from my culture than to get married to a European."

It is very unfortunate that Muslims, to whom Allah has given and shown the perfect way of life, should ignorantly mimic the behaviors of those who choose not to follow Allah's guidance.

This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion; but whoever is compelled by hunger, not inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Al-Ma'idah 5:3)

Prophet Muhammad in his last sermon, which was the final admonition, warned the people:

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

Muslims should be the first to openly discuss and expose issues of racism. It is counter productive to treat racism as if it does not exist. The Prophet has cautioned Muslims in his last sermon, that racism is against Islam yet still today we hear stories such as the incident above. Racism is like a cancer in our society. It eats us at the core. Much fitnah in our community is attributed to cultralism and racism which often times goes hand in hand. This disease has impaired progress in many communities. We must come up with solutions that meets this problem head on.

We can try various methods to fight racism. First and foremost we should gain knowledge about Racism and accept and admit that Racism does exist in our society. As Muslims we should learn about other cultures, people, and nationalities. We should first start within our own communities learning about contributions various ethnic groups have made. We should encourage multi ethnic gatherings in the Masajid and no one group should dominate over the other. It is important to start by exposing our youth to diversity. We should ensure fairness and equality when selecting speakers, board members, imams, leaders within our community and put an end to board of directors of the Masjids totally controlled by one group. The leaders should try to concentrate on the welfare of the Ummah and avoid political fitnah. We should constantly be reminded about what the Quran and Sunnah says about racism and justice in khutbahs and halaqahs.

"O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well- acquainted with all that ye do." (Qur'an, 4:135)

Let there arise out of you
A band of people
Inviting to all that is good,
Enjoining what is right,
And forbidding what is wrong:
They are the ones
To attain felicity.'
(Qur'an 3 : 104)

* Names changed to protect privacy

© Amatullah Abdullah

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blessings & Test

Blessings = Tests, Tests = Blessings

As I lay across my bed with my eyes closed, an earlier conversation with my dear friend came flooding back.

Stress overwhelmed me, and I found myself needing someone to expel all the feelings which I had bottled up for so long.

"You don't sound your usual self. Is everything OK?" my friend asked.
Feelings of regret, anger, and pain poured out from my heart and mind almost as though I had anticipated the question.

"I am wondering why I meet people who hurt me in my life," I said quite disturbed. Before I continued, my friend interrupted, "Don't ever say that!"

She added, "Remember, everything and every person that enters your life, whether good or bad, serves a purpose. For example, you might wonder why you married someone you did not want to, but what came from the relationship was your son! Your son was destined to come into this world. Your marriage served that purpose."

"Now you are talking about someone who has humiliated you, but the humiliation and subsequent oppression are a part of what has made you a writer. So please don't ever think why you met such and such a person or why that happened. Everything happens for a reason," my friend wisely concluded.

Suddenly I realized how true my friend's words were. I opened my eyes and got up from my bed in search of a pen to capture this newfound knowledge on paper. I didn't want to forget those words, and I hoped to share with them with others.

As I started writing, I looked around and saw my son playing. Subhan Allah! What a great blessing in my life! Then I realized how ungrateful I had been for so many blessings in life.

We sleep and wake up in our homes and find ourselves untouched by harm, having enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep, but there are so many people who have lost everything in life and are homeless without even the most basic requirements for themselves. How much time do we spend thinking about all that we are blessed with in our lives?

Do we consider that if Allah Most High gives us everything, we are one of His most loved ones? Whenever we see someone with wealth, health, beauty, and knowledge, we immediately tend to think that Allah Most High has blessed that person with everything in life; but the moment we see an afflicted person, we think that person is undergoing a great test. What we fail to recognize is that there are two sides to every coin, and whether something is a blessing or a test, we need to look at every aspect of both sides of our lives.

We may consider something to be a great blessing in this life, but actually Allah Most High tests us through our blessings. Likewise, a hardship or a difficulty is a great blessing from Allah Most High.

The Test
The Qur'an narrates stories of the prophets as examples on which we reflect by which we amend. The stories of Prophet Sulayman and Prophet Yunus (peace be upon them) contain great lessons to be learned.

Prophet Sulayman was blessed with all the riches in the world. One day he was so engrossed in inspecting his fine horses that he completely forgot to recite his `Asr Prayer before sunset. Upon remembering the forgotten prayer, he repented, realizing that the blessing was nothing but a test. Sometimes we tend to indulge in blessings, forgetting that they are tests.

When Prophet Yunus departed full of wrath because his people would not believe, he neither sought Allah's permission nor did he fulfill his mission. He traveled by ship, but the ship was fully loaded and met with foul weather. The passengers decided to draw lots to see who would jump into the water. When Yunus drew the short lot, the other passengers stopped him and they drew lots again. The lot fell on Yunus. For the third time they drew lots, and it fell again on Yunus.

[So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief, and thus do We deliver the believers.] (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:88)

Prophet Yunus recognized his test as a blessing and was thankful that Allah Most High had blessed him with such a unique place — the belly of the whale — to worship Him.

These stories in the Qur'an are lessons for us to reflect upon and learn from. In spite of Allah's giving us the Qur'an as a mercy and a guide, we are more often than not most ungrateful. Through our lack of appreciation, we allow Shaytan to make us into ungrateful servants.

[Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and Thou shalt not find most of them thankful.] (Al-A`raf 7:17)

Allah Most High has showered His mercy upon us with guidance from the Qur'an, warning us of Shaytan, but despite these warnings, we remain unmindful of the words of the Almighty:

[And when your Lord made it known: if you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.] (Ibrahim 14:7)

We are all children of Adam, who forgot and did not realize that Allah Most High had blessed him with everything, only asking him to refrain from partaking from a single tree. Likewise, we also fail to recognize the blessings of Allah Most High in our own lives.

[And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life, he says: My Lord honors me.] (Al-Fajr 89:15)

Whether Allah Most High gives us everything or takes something away, it is a trial. Every hardship is a blessing, and we should look at everything from both sides. We should not ignore the other side when we are faced with an adversity or given a blessing, or we will miss an opportunity for appreciation and remembrance of Allah Most High.

[And among mankind is he who serves Allah (standing) on the verge, so that if good befalls him he I satisfied therewith, but if a trial afflicts him he turns back headlong; he loses this world as well as the hereafter; that is a manifest loss.] (Al-Hajj 22:11)

Blessings and tests are therefore both reminders that everything is from Allah Most High.

[Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.] (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

© Amatullah Abdullah

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Friendship – A Guiding Light

Aisha* and Nafisah,* both reverts to Islām had been friends for four years. Nafisah passed away a few months ago, and Aisha* says, “Before when my dear friend was with me, I used to feel what would I do without Nafisah*, but now Allāh made me realize after her death that only He would be there for us at all times and I should depend only on Allāh.”

“After I embraced Islām, I found myself bumping into both Muslims and non Muslim who were hostile towards me,” she adds. “Then it so happened that I bumped into this wonderful soul who guided me and encouraged me at all times and she always helped me to realize my flaws. Though she has left this world, her words of counsel are still living in my heart and will continue to live till I die.”

“Fathima* has always told me that I act silly when I am with her,” says Sumaya, who is in her twenties. “I can be like this only with her as she is my best friend and I tell her she acts silly when she is with me,” she adds with a grin.

“We have been friends for five years and I truly love her. She has always been a genuine friend. When we are in a lighter mood, we both act silly and when we face problems, we both counsel each other and I think that’s how friends should be. I really thank Allāh for her friendship and thank her for all that she did for me. I really wish Allāh would bless us with a never-ending friendship,” she concludes. They met in a Yahoo e-group and their little chats grew into a strong friendship.

Yameena,* 28, says, “Friends are a blessing. I always yearned to have a good friend but I consider myself unfortunate, as I have never had the right friends. The friends who I had were all temporary and misleading. Because of one of the so called friends I had, I always wished to be away from Islām and their shameful activities seemed incredible at that time but to be honest I think Allāh had mercy on me and showed me I was on the wrong path only when they broke my trust.”

“Before I used to choose friends based on physical appearance and lifestyle,” she adds. “The result was I became deceived. If I had continued my friendship with them I would have been a loser in this world and the hereafter. So thanks to God. Now I pray for a good companion who will be guide me and be there for me whenever I need her.”

*** *** ***
Every soul on this earth needs a companion to share both, happiness and sorrow. Friendship is one of the most beautiful and vital aspects of a person’s life. Friends are our truest treasures. The above-mentioned experiences should serve as a reminder to us to clinch the opportunity when we find good friends. True friends are rare to find nowadays. Yameena* thought a friend is someone whom you should have fun with. It is important to realize that a good friend in Islām is someone who encourages, supports and care for you at all times. A friend in Islām is someone who not only accommodates your faults, but also corrects them by giving you the right counsel. Therefore, in Islām, friendship holds an important place.

The Prophet y taught us how to choose our friends and also explained the importance of friendship in Islām. He also set an example of how to choose and treat our companions.
Narrated Abū Mūsa: “Allāh's Apostle y said, "The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof." [Bukhāri]

He y was also reported to have said, “None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.” [Bukhāri and Muslim]

Abū Hurayrah also reported that Rasulullah y said: “A person visited his brother in another town and Allāh deputed an Angel to wait for him on his way and when he came to him he said: ‘Where do you intend to go?’ He said: ‘I intend to go to my brother in this town.’ He said: ‘Have you done any favour to him (the repayment of which you intend to get)?’ He said: ‘No, excepting this that I love him for the sake of Allāh, the Exalted and Glorious.’ Thereupon he said: ‘I am a meesenger to you from, Allāh: (to inform you) that Allāh loves you as you love him (for His sake).’” [Muslim]

Abū Mūsā reported Allāh's Messenger y as saying: “A believer is like a brick for another believer, the one supporting the other.” [Muslim]

Nu'man ibn Bashir reported Allāh's Messenger y as saying: “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” [Muslim]

Islām encourages its followers to take righteous people as their companions and to avoid the company of the vicious, as one might tend to pick up their slipped qualities without knowledge.
"O woe is me! Would that I had not taken such a one as my friend." [Qur'ān 25:28]

Every Muslim should try to select the best companion for his/her life span. A companion should be a friend from the same gender. If the companion is from the other gender, then that companion should be a spouse with whom one can live with within the confines of the Sharee’ah.
When someone observes a friend taking a wrong and sinful course and, while possessing the capacity to restrain him, does not do so out of indifference, he has actually betrayed his friend.

Islām permits friendship with people in error, when one’s Īmān is strong - when one finds out that his or her friend is committing a sin, then it becomes obligatory for him or her to help to guide them to the right path and help them make amends. A friend is a person, who is there during grief and joy and who is willing to advise us when we are moving away from the right track.

Always remember that a friend is a person who will express what he or she feels. Friends should be honest with each other and should correct and guide each other when they are in the wrong. Encourage each other and take care of each other. Without friends life would be meaningless.

* Name changed for privacy sake.

**This article first appeared in An Nisa Magazine


© Amatullah Abdullah 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Islamic Writers Alliance Second Annual Poetry Contest

The Islamic Writers Alliance is holding its second annual poetry contest, also in April.

Our theme this year is the Prophet Muhammad, and was chosen because of unfortunate the cartoon incident. It is our intention to publish an e-book chapbook of the best poems as a dawah project, which will be free to the public and hopefully serve to inspire Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as well as educate them about the true nature of Prophet Muhammad.

We have three categories: One for youth (ages 6-17), one for adults (18 and older) and one for IWA members, so as to avoid any suggestion of unfair judging.

The contest is open to everyone. All forms of poetry welcome. One poem per author.

Submissions are due by April 30th, and should be emailed to Please include a cover page with the author's name and contact info, subsequent pages should have only the title and page number, with no labels to identify the author, to ensure blind judging.

Full guidelines are available at

I hope you will all support this worthwhile effort.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Care what the Creator would think! …

Care what the Creator would think!
Don’t care what the Creation thinks

When I make up mind to do something for Islam, something in my heart stops me. I ask myself, “What will others think if I do this? Will they like it or will they offend me?” But then a sister told me, ”Why should you be bothered about what others think when you are doing it for Allah’s sake?” She added, “Whether you get a positive remark or negative remark, don’t be bothered and just keep in mind that you are doing it for Allah’s sake.”

For one minute I thought that if I am bothered about any remarks, be it positive or negative, then I am not doing it solely for Allah. My aim should only be to win the pleasure of Allah and not anything else.

It is natural for any human being to wish to avoid negative remarks and always love to be praised. It feels really good when someone speaks well about us, but we should try not to become addicted to appreciation as this can lead us to commit Ar Riyaa.

The Arabic word Riyaa is taken from the word ra`aa (to be seen). Therefore, Riyaa is performing various forms of religious acts in order to be seen, to impress, and be praised. Deeds done to earn the appreciation of others destroys the benefits of the righteous deed and becomes merely a vain act.

Mahmood ibn Lubayd also said, "The Prophet (PBUH) came out and announced, ’O people, beware of secret Shirk!’ The people asked, ’O messenger of Allah, what is secret Shirk?’ He replied, ’When a man gets up to pray and strives to beautify his prayer because people are looking at him; that is secret Shirk.’"(Collected by Ibn Khuzaimah)

Mahmood ibn Lubayd reported, "Allah’s messenger (PBUH) said: "The thing I fear for you the most is ash-Shirk a’-Asghar (minor shirk)."The companions asked "Oh! messenger of Allah, what is minor Shirk?" He replied "Ar-Riyaa (showing off), for verily Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection when people are receiving their rewards, "Go to those for whom you were showing off in the material world and see if you can find any reward from them." (Ahmad at-Tabaraanee and al-Bayhaqee in az-Zuhd. See Tayseer al-’Azeez al-Hameed, p. 118)

Riyaa is a very dangerous sin because it is common for any human being to enjoy the praises of others, but we don’t always know when we have improperly succumbed to these praises. When one gets addicted to praise, it becomes a habit for the misguided one to do things to impress others rather than Allah.

Aboo Moosaa al-Ash`aree reported that Allah's Messenger delivered a sermon to them one day and said, "O People! Fear this Shirk (meaning riyaa), for it is more inconspicuous than the crawling of an ant." [Authenticated in Saheeh al Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, no. 33]

"He who allows the people to hear of his good deeds intentionally to win their praise, Allah will allow the people to know his real intention (i.e. on the Day of Judgment and he who does good things in public to show off and win the praise of people, Allah will disclose his real intention and humiliate him (i.e. on the Day of Judgment)." [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].

And Allah says,“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” [Qur’an 4: 142]

Now why do we say when a person does an act to earn the appreciation of others he commits shirk? We say that because any act should be done only to win the pleasure of Allah. When an act of worship is done to seek the pleasure or appreciation of others then the person is worshipping appreciation, not the Creator.

Riyaa is considered as a hidden shirk because when one does any deed of worship to seek the pleasure of the creation (that is, anything other than the Creator), then they are secretly either worshipping praise, appreciation, or the creation with the mask of trying to show others that they are trying to please Allah.

Allah says in the Quran:
"Verily, We have sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad) truth: So worship Allah (Alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah's sake only, and not to show off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship. Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only..." [Qur’an 39: 2, 3]

Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) has warned us about a severe “disease of the heart,” which praise causes in a human being. Over praising, he taught us, should be avoided as it destroys a believer and puts them at high risk of being infected with this “disease.” Once overtaken, we can become obsessed with pleasing other people also for the sake of appreciation.

Abu Bakrah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Mention of a man was made to the Prophet (PBUH) and someone praised him whereupon he (PBUH) said, "Woe be to you! You have broken the neck of your friend!'' He repeated this several times and added, "If one of you has to praise his friend at all, he should say: `I reckon him to be such and such and Allah knows him well', if you think him to be so-and-so, you will be accountable to Allah because no one can testify the purity of others against Allah.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: I heard Allah’s Messenger saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) heard a person lauding another person or praising him too much. Thereupon he said, "You killed the man,'' or he said, "You ruined the man.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Hammam bin Al- Harith (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A person began to praise `Uthman (May Allah be pleased with him), and Al-Miqdad (May Allah be pleased with him) sat upon his knees and began to throw pebbles upon the flatterer's face. `Uthman (May Allah be pleased with him) said: "What is the matter with you?'' He said: "Verily, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, `When you see those who shower undue praises upon others throw dust upon their faces.''[Muslim]

When our iman (faith) weakens we tend to become a prey to Riyaa. I.e., our iman weakens when our love for praise, fear of criticism, and greed of possession becomes stronger and rules us.

One thing I always noticed is that Satan sometimes uses this Riyaa as a weapon to stop us from doing good things. Many times I used to think that if I do this deed or that, and if someone appreciates me, I might be committing Riyaa myself. The very possibility would really scare me and I would stop myself from doing such deed.

Fortunately, the same sister who made me think about my positive or negative remarks also told me, “ Be conscious of Riyaa, but don’t ever let that ruin you from doing any Ibadaah [or the worshipping of Allah by performing an intended good deed]. Let your heart remind you that you are doing it for Allah sake “.

I realized this is indeed a jihad (struggle). When Satan comes to spoil your deed and you might be on the verge of giving in to Satan,it is only with Allah’s mercy that you will be reminded of Riyaa. At such a time, seek forgiveness and pray to purify yourself. (Remember, as it is a common human weakness to enjoy being praised and hearing good about oneself, we tend to commit riyaa unknowingly). We can seek remedy from this only by gaining our knowledge of Riyaa, purifying our intention by sincerely reciting the du’aa which the Messenger of Allah recited and taught his companions:

"O Allah! I seek refuge with You from knowingly associating anything with You and I seek forgiveness from You for that which I am unaware of." [Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2876]

© Amatullah Abdullah

This article first appeared in Al Jumuah

AL JUMUAH VOL 18 ISSUE 01 MAG 18.1 Page 48

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