Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Miracle of the Qur'an (REVISED)

-- I have added the remaining points I wanted to make in this post, and have also posted the information about Al Huda courses. Please read the revisions. 

"Those to whom We give the book, recite it as it should be recited, they are the ones who believe." Baqarah: 121

Alhamdulillah I have been Muslim for 2.5 years now, and will readily say that one of the most significant things when I converted was the truth and the miracle of the Qur'an. That it is the same as it was 1400 years ago, its beauty, that it has been unchanged and protected... I thought that I understood the miracle of the Qur'an. After all, I have read the translation numerous times, and its words have spoken to me at various times. Changing the way I live, think, act...
I realize now, I had (and really still have) no idea about the miracle of the Qur'an. I recently enrolled in the Taleem al Qur'an course (Online evening course-- which has 250 students enrolled from all around the world!!!) inshallah to learn the Arabic Meaning, the Tajweed (proper recitiation of the Qur'an) and the Tafseer (the reason of revelation and deep meaning of the Qur'an). I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY. By the end of the first two classes we had spent 8 hours learning about Al Fatihah only. This is 7 verses. 8 hours, for 7 verses! The following two classes we learned Verses 1-5 of Surah Al Baqarah. 8 hours on 5 verses!
As I am learning the Arabic, the roots, the meanings, that the order of the sentences even adds a contextual meaning to the Qur'an, I am beginning to understand the true miracle of this book. I get goosebumps when I think about it. I can't believe I have spent the last 2.5 years, not really understanding the words of Allah.
I want to tell you all this in the hopes that it would encourage all of us as Muslims to strive to understand the Qur'an. This doesn't mean read a translation. It means understand it in the way it was reavealed to our Prophet (SAW). Insallah it will bring a new focus and passion to the way you live Islam, increase your focus in prayer, and earn many good deeds.... May Allah (SWT) make it easy for all of us. Remember He promises to make it easy for us.

"We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember..." Al Qamar:32

Besides Allah (SWT)'s promise to make it easy, we must also consider the obligation on us as Muslims to learn the Qur'an. Not only is this the way Allah is preserving it for us, through the hearts and memories of the Believers, but we must consider how. It has been taught in Arabic, by those who knew the Qur'an from the beginning. Allah (SWT) revealed it to Muhammad (SAW) through Jibreel who thus knew the proper recitation. Muhammad (SAW) then taught it to the Sahaba (those who lived at the time of Muhammad (SAW). They with their proper knowledge taught it to the Taab' ieen (the generation which followed the Sahabah) and so on and so forth. Thus as we can see, the Qur'an should be learned in Arabic, with the proper Tajweed (rules of recitation.) It is easy to see the importance of this elsewhere in the faith, when we realize our 5 daily prayers must be performed in Arabic, and that there is a strong opinion by scholars that any supplication you make in those five daily prayers, must be done in Arabic. We also know that the best du'a were those made by the Prophet (SAW)--- said in Arabic. And lastly, the Qur'an in English is just a translation, and that the only true Qur'an is that in its Arabic form.  The Qur'an will either testify for or against us on the day of resurrection. We need to learn it properly in its true form, so it will testify for us. Not only do we need to learn how to recite it but we need to learn its meaning. This is why I strongly encourage everyone to take this course as it covers Word Analysis, Tajweed, and Tafseer. You come out of a lesson inshallah learning how to read the Qur'an properly, understanding not only the meaning in Arabic, but all of the root words within the verses. 

"Those to whom We give the Book recite it as it should be recited, they are the ones who believe." Baqarah:121

"Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that you may understand." Yusuf:2

The Messenger (SAW) said: "Read it as you were taught, for verily those before you were destroyed by their differing from their Prophets." Saheeh Al Jaami 2/389

Please check out Al Huda Institute-- Taleem Al Qur'an Course 2009. They offer a full time program M-F 9:30-3:30 for the duration of 1.5yrs  or the part time evening course W&Th 5:30-9:30pm for the duration of 3yrs. I have also heard about a weekend course they may begin offering. The full time course is offered at Al Huda or Online. The evening course is only online. Those outside of Toronto have no excuse! You can do this from the comfort of your livingroom. or you can find the same information on (the site of Dr Farhat Hashmi you teaches the course. I find this site more easy to navigate.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Last Three Years-- A Review.

Recently there have been a few comments posted on my earlier blog entries (2006). Comments requesting more details about reasons for my conversion and thought process along the way. It has caused me to spend some time reflecting about the last three years and inshallah this post will be just that... a reflection.

Although there was one conversation that lead to my initial investigation into Islam, Allah (SWT) threw more and more things and people at me that kept me interested in reading despite the fact that I was certain I would "Never Convert". My intention was always to "better myself as a human" and just learn about what Islam was about. Even as Allah was surrounding me with Muslims-- quality Muslims that were doing all that they could to show me Islam, I was somewhat blind to what was going on. I remember one night finally having a revelation (after I had converted) thinking, "if my grandfather had never died, I may never have become Muslim." Of course it is the will of Allah (SWT) that I am Muslim and He could have used any means He wanted, but my grandfather's death brought an email that lead to the discussion of Islam. But even as my faith in Christianity dwindled, and the faith of Islam made sense, and I no longer prayed with the name Jesus (AS) in my prayers I was still reluctant to give shahada. Of course it was all the plan of Allah (SWT) as He invites to Islam who He wills-- One of the key moments was when I talked to brother Abdur Raheem Green at a conference and the history of Islam vs Christianity was laid out for me. Of course that and the fact that the Christians that Allah put in my life during those critical times could never answer any of my questions or were simply living their life in a way that was hypocritical of the way God would want followers of a religion to live. Far differently from the way I was seeing Muslims dedicate themselves to their religion. I know this doesn't talk the specifics that maybe the reader asking the question was looking for, but a written post doesn't really allow for such detail. Maybe one day I will do a video post about my conversion. However, there are two major points here. One is, I didn't really know where my search was taking me until all of the sudden I was there. I never intended to find Islam, it found me, making perfect sense after an imperfect Christianity. And two-- That the most powerful display of Islam for me (besides the miracle of the infallibility of the Qur'an) was the manner of Muslims around me. If an individual lives Islam sincerely it is truly one of the best displays of Islam one can make. Especially in a time when people are so brainwashed by the media. Such a contrast would cause anyone to take the time to question what they think to be true.

As for my reaction to my family and friend's disapproval. Initially indeed I felt extreme hurt that they would have such opposition to my choice. Of course I didn't expect them to be excited, but I think at the time I felt like it was insulting to my intelligence. Didn't they think I had researched Islam? As an educated, independent woman did they really think I would jump into such a life change if it wasn't true? And I think that was part of Upon reflection, I still believe my thoughts however I believe there was far more to it. I think that because I was dealing with my own emotion--- feeling unsure about the future, afraid of others reactions, vulnerable to criticism, I was incapable in dealing with my friend's and family's emotion. What resulted was a selfish position where I became the "victim". That they weren't trusting me or respecting me, when all the while they felt the same way. That I didn't respect the religion they had raised me on, that I was betraying the family etc. Not to mention that they were grieving.I understood that at the time, however, I maintained that I was the "same person". That they had nothing to fear (either in me or in the religion). Of course to them they had everything to fear. It was a naive comment for me to have made, because it was me that had done the research, not my family/friends. While they were still believing the media about Islam-- a place I had been just months before, how could I expect them to understand the choice that I had made? Alhamdulillah things with my family are slowing getting easier all of the time. Of course they still want me to be Christian, I want them to be Muslim, and there are constant battles about covering, niqab, pictures, alcohol... the list goes on, however I believe that there is a respect present now. Alhamdulillah. As for friends... My closest girlfriends, are still very close friends. They were able to see past differences. They happen to be extremely open-minded and educated people that didn't buy into what the rest of the world said their response should be. However, many other friends I have "lost touch" with. In this sense they were really right, things were going to be different. Of course at the time of my acceptance of Islam I didn't have that foresight. I wanted to have the best of both situations, Islam and my past friends. However, naturally things would be different. Many of my relationships had been based in situations that were not appropriate for me to be in as a Muslim. Men and women spending time together, drinking, going to dance clubs... once those things were removed then for some relationships there wasn't much left. Besides that, although indeed I am still "me", many of my interests have changed. I spend much time studying about Islam, I have a daughter, I have given up a career to raise her and to wear a niqab. These aren't things many of my old friends can relate to or even find admirable. The tension from the time of my conversion, continued to grow with my inability to properly articulate my choice to them, and the fact their hearts were sealed to the truth of Islam. The more we didn't see eye to eye the more distance developed until sadly many relationships ended. Inshallah I will try to restore some of the friendships that Islamically are appropriate to have. What has stopped me in the past is simply the fear, and exhaustion that comes from the reactions. The criticism, the stares.
I know that the above sounds negative, however it is about priorities. That and I can talk until I am blue in the face, but that will only change something if others are willing to listen and get past the scarf, or the fact that I won't spend time with their husbands/boyfriends etc. And I don't feel sorry about that. Although I do want to communicate with some of my friends of old, I would much rather be where I am now, inshallah trying to do what is best for my religion than compromising in ways that would impact my faith but please others. Because if there is one thing that I have learned, is that if Allah has sealed the heart of someone, then it is sealed. We as Muslims really need to work hard to remember that. I think too often we think that we can change how they think. Yes we can convey a message, but we can't "change" anything. It is Allah who changes hearts. Our job is to serve Allah, Islam means submission. It is hard at times especially when we are living for the "hereafter", while living in the "here". However, by trying to make others feel comfortable at the expense of what Allah wants for us or commands for us, we aren't benefiting anyone. We just have to be obedient and Allah will do the rest. That being said, I want to clarify one thing explicitly. There is a big difference between compromising our religion and presenting it in a manner that will be more easily digestible to those we are showing it to. As Muslims we are being scrutinized all of the time. Our manner has to be nicer, more patient, more willing to help others, than ever before, but without doing anything that goes against our religion, or changes the message of Islam.
But more than anything, we are nothing without Allah. The best reflection that I can offer is that the more a person comes closer to Allah, remembers Allah, the easier things will be. I don't necessarily mean that life in a specific situation will become easier (people may still stare or say nasty things everyday), but what makes it easier is that there will be peace within your heart and at the end of the day, inshallah you are okay with your actions and serving Allah. That peace--- peace of the heart, it is what helps us to get through life on earth working towards the hereafter, it is what the brother was talking about in the earlier post about "feeling secure in Gaza", it is why people in Muslim countries generally don't file law suits when unfortunate circumstances arise... because there is peace that Allah is in control. That being said, there is a vast difference between being at peace, because of trust in Allah, and being complacent in the religion "because you have faith". The latter is something I saw all too often in Christianity. As Muslims we must be obedient and follow the commandments of Allah and the rules established by Muhammad (SAW). And even if a person doesn't realize in this world that "it isn't worth it" (see previous post from 2006) to live in disobedience and sin, Allah (SWT) will show us on the day of judgment.

I pray that Allah (SWT) guides us all to the straight path, shows my friends and family the truth of Islam, and uses me to do that. I pray that anything I have said in error will be forgiven by Allah, that He has mercy on Muslims, unites us, and shows us the way of the Prophet (SAW) and gives us a desire to follow it. Ameen

Friday, February 13, 2009

Unity of the Ummah- Said Rageah

I recently posted a link to a khutbah delivered by Br Said Rageah, and today found another one he recently gave. Click on the above link or cut and paste the address below.

A Letter from Palestine

Recently my husband's friend returned from Gaza. He was working with an Aid organization based out of Turkey called IHH. He wrote a letter about his account and sent it in an email to my husband and other friends. It is something worth sharing with all I people I believe. We have translated it into English, but I will post the Turkish copy as well for those of you who prefer Turkish. May Allah reward those fighting for the cause of Allah, our brothers and sisters being persecuted, those helping Muslims who have fallen victim to such crime, and may He bring unity to our ummah. Ameen.

Asslamu Alaikum

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam.
As of last weekend we returned from Gaza despite our desire to turn around stay. The first thing I can say about Gaza is the immediate sense of security one feels when they enter the city. It is a feeling that blankets you from head to toe despite the fact that there might be a bomb headed your way at any moment--- that sense of security is always there. This sense of security is something Allah (SWT) has bestowed on people in Gaza. It is this feeling—living without fear of death or apprehension, which enables the continuation of great resistance and unites the people of Gaza as if they are each other’s own flesh and blood.
Alhamdulillah 1.5 million Muslims in this small city, Gaza, defended 1.5 billion Muslims with their honour. Yes there are 45oo homes destroyed, 20 thousand homes damaged, 1500 business of varying sizes destroyed…all destroyed. We went into one production plant, Alwadaya, within its 17 sq meter area which had been destroyed by an F-16, and just to be sure everything was indeed destroyed Israel went into the building with their 20 or 30 tonne tanks to pulverize everything left causing 50 million in damage. We went into houses where swear words were Israeli soldiers had painted on walls “No Mercy”, “Either die or get out of this place”. Qurans had been destroyed and Israel’s “star” had been drawn onto the front pages. The olive and fruit trees had been destroyed. In short, they destroy everything to make life hard both financially and socially, so in turn, people will leave their homes and the region. The Israeli’s made every effort to accomplish this. Hospitals, schools, police stations, mosques, ministry buildings, structures and fertile lands… whatever you can think of got attacked and destroyed.
Now life is starting from scratch for the people of Gaza. The total damage is estimated at 4 billion dollars. Moreover the cruel embargo is still going on, making life even more brutal. Imagine such an enormous amount of destruction, but still not one single package of cement can be brought into the city, not to mention food, medications and other construction materials. It is basically saying “Die without any screaming.” But Alhamdulillah, Al-Jazeera and a few other media groups, IHH, Deniz Feneri, Kimse Yokmu, Cansuyu, Kizilay, Tika and Yeryuzu Doktorlari broke this nasty game. (I should add a note that, I haven’t seen any non-Muslim organizations helping people there. It has mainly been Turkish groups with other Muslim Organizations.) As we are continuing the embargo on Israeli products, we as Muslims have to work to lift the embargo on Gaza in some way. We should be pressuring the Egyptian ruler/government. Isn’t it possible that we collect enough money to give Egypt to compensate what they are given by the U.S.A. ? This is of course assuming that it is just about the money. Of course the real fear is that once the blockade is lifted, the pressure will come to Mubarak’s Castle to change the regime.

There is much to say for Gaza, but I will end this with the salams that the people of Gaza send us. Specifically, the son of Seyh Ahmad Yaseen, Abdulhamid Yaseen send his regards and salams in addition to that, all brothers and sisters send their warm thoughts.

(In the meantime, after Mr Erdogan’s “Davos movement”, there is a joke running that Gaza will be the 81st city of Turkey. The Palestinians say “Gaza is Turkish”. I had a chance to join the meeting organized after Davos. In one word, “amazing”. The president of IHH focused on being one “Ummah” in his speech. Thousands of people filled the Gaza’s streets with Hamas, Palestinian and Turkish flags on their hands.)
Fee Iman Allah.

slm. alykm. çok değerli kardeşlerim, hafta sonu itibariyle gazze'den ayaklarımızı geri geri gitse de geldik. gazzeyle ilgili ilk olarak ilk söyleyebileceğim şey ilk adımınızı atar atmaz sizi baştan uca kaplayan emniyet duygusu oluyor. ne zaman ve nereden başınıza düşebileceğini bilmediğiniz bir bombanın varlığı başlangıçta bir tenakuz olarak görünüyor olsa da böyle. Allah oradaki bütün insanlara, kardeşlerimize bu emniyet duygusunu vermiş. o nedenle korku ve ölümü çooktan öldüren bu insanlar başları dik direnişi sürdürebiliyorlar ve etle tırnak misali yekvucut olmuşlar.
elh. 1,5 milyonluk gazze, 1,5 milyarlık islam alemini alınlarının akıyla savundular küçücük gazze şeridinde. evet çok yıkım olmuş. sadece yıkılan ev sayısı 4500. hasarlı olan evlerin sayısı ise 20 bini buluyor. en ufağından büyüğüne 1500 tane işyeri yıkılmış. sadece bir fabrikaya girdik Alwadaya grup isimli bir firma. 17000 metrekare alan içindeki makinalarla birlikte f-16'larla vurulmuş ve israil tankları tüm makinaların kullanılmaz hale gelmesinden emin olmak için enkazın üzerinden 20-30 tonluk tanklarla geçmişler ve adamın zararı 50 milyon doların üzerinde. evlere girdik duvarlara küfürler yazmışlar. "asla merhametimiz yok", "ya ölün ya defolup gidin" gibi yazılar yazmışlar duvarlara. kuranı kerimlerin kapaklarına davut yıldızı çizip, paramparça etmişler. meyve ağaçlarını zeytin ağaçlarını köklerinden sökmüşler. yani ekonomik ve yaşamsal tüm alanları, hayatı daha da
zorlaştırmak ve insanları bölgeden uzaklaştırabilmek için neredeyse hemen her yolu denemişler.
hastanieler, okullar, karakollar, camiler, neredeyse bakanlık binalarının tamamı, tarım arazileri... aklınıza başka ne geliyorsa... artık hiçbiri yok. hayat yeniden sıfırdan kuruluyor. tahmini hasar 4 milyar doları buluyor. ve ahlaksız, aptal ve acımasız ambargo tüm şiddetiyle devam ediyor. bu kadar yıkım var ama tek bir çimento paketinin bile girişi yasak gazzeye. ilaç, gıda maddeleri, yapı malzemeleri. .. insanlara ölün ama ses çıkarmadan deniyo... ama hamdolsun el-cezire ve diğir medya kurumları, İHH, Deniz feneri, kimse yokmu, cansuyu, kızılay, tika, yeryüzü doktorları bu oyunu bozmuşlar. şunu da söyliyim gazzedeki on günlük programımda yardım dağıtan bir tane gavur kuruluş görmedim. hep müslüman ve özellikle türkiyeden gelen kuruluşlar.
israil ve abd mallarına boykot uygulamaya devam ederken, asıl bu hayasız ambargoyu delmemiz gerekiyo. birisinin şu mısıra haddini bildirmesi gerekiyo yanii. abicim aramızda para toplasak, arap ve tüm dünya şeyhlerine haber salsak, çocuklardan harçlıklarını istesek şu 'mübareğe' abd ve israilin verdikleri kadar toplayamaz mıyız??? tabii işin asıl tarafı gazze enerjisinin refah sınırını devirdikten sonraki ilk durağının mübareğin sarayı olması. yani rejim endişesi...
gazze için söylenecek çok şey var elbet ama selamlarla bitireyim şimdilik. şeyh ahmed yasinin oğlu abdülhamid yasının hepinize çok selamı var. ayrıca hamaslı, gazzeli tüm amca ve teyzeler sizleri bizleri bağırlarına basıyor, bu arada gazzenin türkiye'nin 82. vilayeti olma esprileri de yapılmaya devam ediyo. "buraların tapuları sizde burası türkiye" diyolar.
tayyip beyin davostaki yüreklerimizi kabartan çıkışından sonraki gazze mitingine katılmak da nasip oldu. tek kelimeyle muhteşemdi. ihh başkanı bülent abinin konuşması "işte ümmet olduk" dedirtti. her yerden ellerinde hamas, filistin, türkiye bayraklarıyla zuhur eden onbinler... ben böyle bişey görmedim diyerek artık bitireyim. Allaha emanet

Monday, February 09, 2009

Leaving Turkey

We are leaving Istanbul in the morning inshallah-- back to life in Canada. I am excited about returning home for numerous reasons, but especially since there are ,many courses and seminars being offered in Toronto when I return. May Allah (SWT) increase our knowledge and keep us on the straight path teaching us only what is of His religion. May He help us to remember what we learn and apply it to our lives and of course share it with others. For those of you curious about what is going on, Al Kauthar, Al Maghrib (Muhammad Al Shareef), Al Huda Institute and Abu Huraira Center are all offering courses within the next month.

As a traveller I will inshallah be making as many dua as I can for all of my brothers and sisters in Islam. Inshallah Allah will accept the dua of our family as we travel back home. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said; Three supplications will not be rejected (by Allah (SWT)), the supplication of the parent for his child, the supplication of the one who is fasting, and the supplication of the traveler. [al-Bayhaqi, at-Tirmidhi - Sahih]

Allah has really blessed us this winter. I had an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself, this religion, meet Muslims of many different backgrounds, go to Syria and spend time with my Muslim family. Alhamdulillah alhamdulillah alhamdulillah. The last months have been an incredible way of increasing unity between the ummah even if it has only been a small cirlce of people that I have met and grown closer to. I mention this because it is an issue I hope to discuss more in the future. Being out of Canada for so long and talking to so many people I have really had a chance to reflect about the unity (or lack there of) facing our ummah. It is a tragedy. All too often we would rather point out our differences than embrace our similarities. The result isn't changing the ummah for the better from what I see. It is feeding into the plot of Shaytan as he works to divide Muslims. The more we scatter the weaker we become. I pray that Allah unifies us, keeps us on the straight path, and protects us from sin.