Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Super Hero

For a long time I've been obsessed with Super Heroes, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, you name it, I was a fan. I think their unrealistic abilities to right the wrongs and protect the innocent from injustice is what did it for me. Those factors plus their human-ness (although Superman is Kryptonian) made me think twice about judging people at face-value, you never know what hidden potential (or evil) a person has underneath their unassuming demeanor.

A lot of people have been trying to figure me out lately. I have been trying to figure ME out, so I don't blame them. I am not perfect, no one is, and I have never claimed to be. Islam is perfect, Muslims are not, and more and more over the past few months I have come to the' shocking realization' that some of us Muslims are even less than that.

Over the last few months I have seen and heard cases among Muslims of spousal abuse, child abuse, fraud, drug abuse and things that made my head spin and my heart ache. If my faith had not already been shaken to the core and revived, I may have had a relapse. I have been treated unfairly by friends who I was only helping for the sake of Allah, and although I try not to take things personally, I am only human afterall, not Super like Kal-El (Clark Kent) of the TV show 'Smallville'.

I'm aware of my obsession in activities in my life, one day during self defense class, the instructor was recalling incidents where she had to go help women against their abusive spouses. She said that if she had more people like her , she could really do a lot for Jamaica. In my mind, I pictured a JJL (Jamaican Justice League) of women in superhero costumes kicking criminal butt at night and protecting the weak and helpless. She only meant that she could have more classes teaching people how to defend themselves against attackers. Her Motto 'Preserving Life By Any Means Necessary', sounds like a Super Hero code of conduct to me :)

I realize that I have thought of marriage as 'someone saving me' , saving me from myself? saving me from loneliness? saving me from what? Maybe NOT being married is saving me from heartache? abuse? abandonment? . I used to say things like, when I'm married I'll do this, or I'll do that or the other. Wakeup call !!!!......married people are NOT all happy and living in a perfect little bubble, naively I expected it of Muslims, but its not always what it should be. Why should I wait to do all these things that I want to do ?, travel the world, start my own business and other things, why wait? I think I'll try to save me.

So now I am no longer looking for a Superhero-Super husband-Super bestfriend-Super Dad of my Super future kids and I am not trying to be Super Anything, I just have to try my best to be a good Muslim, knowing that I may fall along the way, but the getting back up, dusting myself off, making taubah (repentance), and trying to be better again, knowing that ALLAH (Subhana wa ta'ala) will forgive me once I am sincere, thats Super !.

An-Nawawi’s Hadith No.42

On the authority of Anas (Radhiallahu anhu), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah(Sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam) say:

Allah the Almighty has said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.”

Related by at-Tirmidhi, who stated that it was a Hasan (fair) and Sahih (sound) Hadith.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

War-Cry ?

Last weekend we got a flier in the mailbox. An event called War Cry scheduled for today (March 21), arranged by some Christian groups. Their aim according to the flier was to take back the country from the criminal and immoral elements. A good cause? yes definitely. Good execution, definitly NOT. For example, in the road march which followed, there were no banners or placards stating their anti-crime message.

Let me give some background on this little island, we are a Christian country, we have the largest number of churches per square mile than anywhere else in the world. We also have one of the largest crime and murder rates in the world.

During Easter (The Christian holidays), we have Jamaica Carnival (Bacchanal), loud music, half naked people parading and gyrating to this music in a series of build up events culminating in the actual carnival. The carnival involves trucks with lots of loud music (some questionable lyrics, promoting all sorts of promiscuity etc, but that can take up another post), and of course the carnival revellers in glittery bikinis and tight shorts. The Christian community has always condemned the events but have never been able to stop it.

This War-Cry seems to be a pre-emptive response to the upcoming carnival and with all good intentions they have gone wrong. It seems like an 'if you can't beat them, join them' mentality. I am writing this while the music is pounding at my head, since they are just now passing my neighbourhood. The music sounds the same like a carnival or dancehall show, just different lyrics, I mean I heard them mention 'Jesus Christ' and 'war cry' a couple of times but the music itself is overpowering their message. I mean why do they have to imitate the people they are 'condemning'? What do they hope to accomplish? They are apparently trying to get the young people involved by enticing them with music and revelry, but imitation is only a form of flattery. This group, however, unlike their carnival counterparts, was uniformly dressed in modest tee shirt and jeans.

The next point is, what's with the name War-Cry? couldnt they have called it Peace-Cry? That seems more fitting . Imagine if us Muslims staged a march called War-Cry? I'm sure the police, the army and maybe even the CIA would be down on us trying to shut it down.

Christianity started out by trying to cater to the masses by changing the laws of Jesus and Moses to suit the pagan Romans and Greeks of the time, bringing in the concept of 'Son of God' and the 'Trinity' so it wouldnt seem quite so different than what they were used to with their many gods and sons of gods. It continues to pander to popular thought and behaviours to get people on their bandwagon. Come on people this is not a popularity contest. Truth is plain from falsehood and no amount of innovating and pandering will make a lie become the truth.

Like I said I am not condemning their intentions, and well-meaning Christians will say, that at least they are doing something, and ask what the Muslim community is doing in protest of crime and immorality. I am not making any excuses because I do think we need to be doing something, but right now we are less than 1% of the population. I think our best action is to do dawah and let people know that there is an alternative, remembering that the best dawah is our own actions and how we treat other people. Thats all for now, the war-criers have moved on and its quiet again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pray as you have seen me praying

The Prophet's Prayer Described by Shaikh Naasir-ud-Deen Al Albaani, answers all or most questions related to prayer. It is a compilation of the hadith (and their explanations) about prayer. It describes the prayer of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu alaihi wa salaam) step by step with evidences, and refutations of weak hadith. It also gives explanations on various innovations in prayer and shows why they are not to be followed.

A key element of Muslim life is the obligatory, ritual prayer. These prayers are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. Prayer in Islam, is the worship of Allah the Almighty, Praising and Thanking Him, acknowledging His Sovereignty and committing oneself to obey and remember Him at all times. It is the central part of a way of life, which is based on submission to the Owner of all and the Lord of the world.

Allah (Subhana wa ta'ala) says in the Quran:
“…..And establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt…..” (Quran, 29:45)

The Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wa salaam) said to:
...Pray as you have seen me praying.. (Sahih Bukhari Book 1 Vol 1, Hadith 604)
and with the information found in this book we can do just that.

Some Prayer issues from the book:

Obligation for a Sutra (Barrier)

He (sallallaahu a'laihi wa salaam) used to say: "Do not pray except towards a sutra, and do not let anyone pass in front of you, but if someone continues (to try to pass) then fight him, for he has a companion (ie. a shaytaan) with him" (Ibn Khuzaimah in his Saheeh (1/93/1) with a sound Isnad)

Placing Hands on the chest

"He used to place the right arm on the back of his left palm, wrist and forearm (Abu Dawood, Nasaai & Ibn Khuzaimah (1/54/2) ) "and he commanded his companions to do likewise" (Maalik, Bukhari & Abu Awaanah), and (sometimes) "he would grasp his left arm with his right" (Nasaai and Daaraqutni)

"He used to place them on his chest" (Abu Dawood, Ibn Khuzaimah, Ahmad & Abu Shaikh)

Going down in Sajdah on the hands

"He used to place his hands on the ground before his knees." (Ibn Khuzaimah (1/76/1), Daaraqutni & Haakim)

He used to instruct likewise, saying, 'When one of you performs sajdah, he should not kneel like a camel, but should place his hands before his knees" (Abu Dawood, Tammaam, Nasaai)

This book is pretty descriptive of the Prophet's prayer from start to finish and is recommended for every Muslim's bookshelf. It is available online at OnlineIslamicStore

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random Ramblings

  • The concessionaire at work has been replaced, the last one was Seven Day Adventists so they did not cook pork, and they had vegetarian dishes at times. People complained that there was lack of variety (they wanted Pork), but their food was generally good. Now, this new concessionaire serves pork, I am skeptical of their behind the scenes cleanliness. I mean, is there cross-contamination with the meats in the kitchen, do they cook their rice-n-peas with pig's tail ?( a common occurrence in Jamaica). I think I will be bringing lunch to work more often, or heading out to buy lunch from the seven day adventists vegetarian restaurant, its not too far from where I work Alhamdullilah.

  • The new Masjid in Kingston is almost complete, Alhamdullilah (I'll post a pic soon InshaAllah). But...and I hope I am sooooooo wrong, although the building is big, the sisters area seems tiny...I hope that what I think is walled off as the sisters area really is like an office or something...InshaAllah. Also, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did not have a partition in his masjid separating the sisters from the brothers, sisters were behind the brothers but there was no physical partition...so what's up with that????

  • My Boss confronted me the other day about what he called the 'Muslim Crusade' in 642CE, claiming that there was no religious tolerance and what not. As the resident go-to person for all things regarding Islam at my office LOL.. I had to do a little research, and this is what I got from a student of comparative religion.. (It's funny how people think that because you are Muslim you are an encyclopedia of all things Islamic and can explain all things that Muslims do...whether Islamic or not..but thats another post)

The two superpowers of the day, the Persian Empire (Sassanid dynasty at the time) and the Roman Empire (the seat of the Byzantiums) noticed the strong build up and growth of Islaam in Egypt and the readiness of the Nestorians and Qobtiyah (Coptic) people's willingness to accept the Monotheism of the Quraan by way of the Nubuwwah (Prophethood) of Muhammad (salla llaaahu alayhi wa sallam).
So they attacked them and Umar [caliphate 634- 644 AC] ordered a RESPONSE to the attack on the EMERGING MONOTHEISTIC society.

Its noted that Akhnaton, Photep, Imhotep and many other EGYPTIAN PHAROAHS were ALL MONOTHEISTS way before many of the 28 prophets mentioned in Quraan. PLUS the ancient scriptures of the BANEE ISRAAEEL were known to the Nestorians and Coptic People before the Quraan's revelation between August 610 to April 632 CE wherein a Prophet was expected to raised up by Allaah from Abraham's seed born at MAKKAH = BACA in Psalms 84 verses 4 - 6 and BAKKAH [Quran ,soorah 3 verse 96].

  • I and some other Muslims and Muslimahs attended the annual 'Roti Festival' here in Kingston last Sunday. Its a festival that highlights Indian culture and food. For all of you that have never had curried Mango...you are missing out, lol. We had a dawah booth (courtesy of another Muslim sister who had a booth there showcasing her business and food products...big up to homechoicejamaica) and got quite a few visitors and names and numbers for follow up. We gave out many pamphlets and qurans and had lively discussion with many of the patrons. Although the music and noise was unbearable at times it was a good experience bringing Islam to the fore, we were the second booth as you walked on the compound. Since it was mainly an Indian Festival highlighting Indian Culture in Jamaica, we displayed some posters about the Indian Muslims who came to Jamaica as indentured labourers back in the day and were free to practice and spread Islam. All in all it was a good day, and I hope those people are guided to Islam or at least more open minded InshaAllah.
  • Once again...and if I had a $1 for every time I get asked these questions, or been told these statements, I'd probably be rich...well not quite...but almost. 'When are you getting married?', 'How comes you havent found anybody yet?' , It's your turn next, and it goes on and on. And I get it from Muslims and Non-Muslims, there were a spate of pregnancies at my office....yes I say spate because it seemed like an epidemic...and of course the question always was ...you guess it ..'When are you going to have kids', lol, now half the people who were expecting babies were NOT Married, so it was clearly pick on the single muslim MONTH because it went on for a while. Now when they bring their babies pics to the office, that starts the whole annoying conversation up again. One lady said I'd have to move to Abu Dhabi to get married, its funny sometimes, other times NOT. A week ago a Muslimah friend of mine got married, and another is getting married next week...so the most recent question was 'how do you feel?' AAAAARRRRRRGH. Quit asking !!!!!!!!! I am happy for them...end of convo.

Ok lunch break is up...get back to work people :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Self defense class update

Am feeling good, feeling energized, Alhamdullilah. Its been 4 classes so far and Alhamdullilah its been going great. We are learning various self-defense techniques and how to get out of different choke holds, hand grips, and how to block weapons from an overhead attack, and last class we learned how to actually take an axe from the attacker.

The instructor brings actual weapons to class for us to get over the psychological fear of seeing the weapon. We have worked with a knife and a small axe so far, and a fake gun, but in the advanced class we will work with a real gun InshaAllah.

She also gives really good advice, for example, NEVER EVER leave from point A to point B with an attacker, the fact that they want to take you somewhere else means they do not want any witnesses, and you will probably be taken to some remote area where your chance of escape is minimal or none. You have a better chance of survival staying right where you are and making a lot of noise, scream FIRE, people are more likely to respond to a scream of 'FIRE' than to a scream of 'HELP'.

Always be aware of your surroundings, do not walk around on your cell phone all oblivious about what is going on around you, walk confidently like you know where you are going, don't look timid, attackers profile their victims and look for vulnerabilities, sometimes watching them for weeks and observing their habits. Confidence is key, and do not show fear. Only fear Allah.

May Allah Subhana wa ta'ala guide and protect us all. Ameen