Building from Blueprints

January 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Marium Zafar

IMG_0370 Over New Year’s weekend, the conference “Blueprints to Success: A Reflection of Adab for Our Modern Society” was held at the Tawheed Center of Farmington Hills. As the foundations of our new building are laid down for the beginning of this decade, we turn our attentions to establishing fresh and powerful spiritual resolutions for the rest of our lives as well. I was lucky to be involved in organizing this weekend retreat with the youth of Tawheed Center under the guidance of Imam Sohel Mangera. Spearheading the efforts, Shafi Ahmed, a graduate accounting student at Oakland University and Youth coordinator from IAGD, brought experience from noteworthy conferences, such as Organic Traditions, to the Tawheed Center. While there were many important figures involved in organizing this retreat, the real blueprint to the success of the conference was not any individual, but the consistent cooperation between all the members of our society together in the manner and Adab distinguished by the Sunnah of the Prophet (S).

Cooperation amongst our various communities had a very far-reaching effect. As I walked around our Masjid, I could see people from IAGD rushing to organize registration papers and chasing toddlers into the babysitting rooms, people from Canton offering to publicize, attend, and finance future events, as well as new faces from Canada and Kentucky giving us valuable advice throughout the weekend. Our Ulema, from Chicago to as far as the United Kingdom, brought refreshing perspectives from their communities to the Tawheed Center as well.

This immense diversity was also spread amongst the volunteers. While the University graduates completed errands in the early mornings and late into the night, the registration tables were staffed by middle school kids throughout the day; sitting on the stage reciting the Quran were students in the Hifz Program as young as six years old, all eager to have their share in the blessings of the gathering. It may have been the first time in my life that I saw the youth around me functioning as such a cohesive body. It certainly was the first time our elders saw us in this new light! Fundraising for the conference in the weeks running up to it was rather daunting, for no one was sure where the money was going to end up in the hands of “youth;” as the actual retreat progressed however, our request for donations was readily answered and the funds began to flow in. It was only through the blessings of Allah (SWT) due to the presence of our scholars and the approval of our elders that this conference was completely funded while remaining free of charge to attendees.

The feedback I received during and after the conference was nothing but positive. The ladies were grateful to no end that the girls sacrificed their time to babysit their children, ensuring that everyone in the Masjid could concentrate and benefit from the lectures. (Perhaps more grateful were their husbands, who were not beseeched with requests to take turns taking care of the kids.)  The men were amazed at the swift execution of the agenda as the brothers burned CD recordings within the hour. As we learned in accordance to the Adab of Seeking Knowledge, a general punctuality rule was upheld in regards to everything from transportation of the speakers to coordination of food and supplies. With the support and example of the board members and our elders, we, as youth, accomplished a great deal on our first attempt at such an endeavor.

Another oft-repeated and undisputed remark the volunteers heard was praise for the implementation of the program according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (S), especially in regards to segregation. With the program and food completely separated, both the men and women enjoyed a more liberated atmosphere during break times, while still being able to clearly see, hear, and communicate with the speakers during the lecture sessions. As our scholars quoted in their talks, Allah (SWT) says in Surat Al-e-Imraan,

“If you do love Allah, follow me [the Prophet (S)]: Allah will love you and forgive your sins, for Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful”

Ali Imran: 31

A palpable, almost surreal atmosphere of tranquility was felt throughout the weekend, for by following the Sunnah of the Prophet (S) as much as we could in all aspects of the program, the blessings of the gathering were showered upon everyone. The youth surrounded the speakers and took several pages of copious notes as the weekend went on. Even after the intense schedule of activities, young children convinced their fathers to stay in ‘itikaaf with them overnight in order to remain with the scholars, keeping them awake until three in the morning with contemporary questions. Piles of CDs sold out, a good deal of chai was consumed, and everyone seemed to be smiling contagiously.

The Ulema were readily accessible throughout the weekend, for men and women alike; through the separate brothers’ and sisters’ Question and Answer sessions, everyone was able to communicate with the scholars and gain from their knowledge. As well stated by a student of the Islamic Sciences in attendance, “We live in a country where we are bombarded by images, people, and an agenda all year long. If these are the only programs that observe the separation and enable Allah (SWT) to bless us, then we have to make sure it continues. Insha’Allah the fruits of this conference will become evident in the people who change for the better. Maybe it won’t be tangible in our eyes, but know that Allah (SWT) won’t miss it.” For this reason, I would like to specifically express gratitude to the Tawheed Center Shurah Board for allowing us the privilege of conducting such an event, as well as to Imam Sohel for expertly guiding us through it. Jazakumullahu Khairan.

As Imam Sohel advised us repeatedly, we should take what we learned from this weekend and apply it to our lives to benefit long term. Now that we have drafted out our blueprints, we have to build upon them together with proper Adab. Our task as a community has not concluded with this weekend, but rather it has just begun. Just like our Masjid’s building did not rise up in two days, we have to work now to raise the bar of our spirituality and build up a strong community. We, the youth, this weekend have gained a new admiration and deeper Adab towards our elders who have organized such events on a regular basis; we ask you now to keep us in your Du’as and support us in our future efforts, insha’ Allah.

For more information about this conference and future events, please visit www.thelightofdawn.org.

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Listen to Your Soul

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

With ALLAH’S name, The Merciful Benefactor, Merciful Redeemer

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

“He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book.  In it are verses basic and plain, clear in meaning: they are the foundation of the Book.  Others are not entirely clear.  But those in whose hearts is perversity or wickedness follow the part that is not entirely clear, seeking disharmony and searching for its hidden meanings.  But no one knows its true meanings except ALLAH.

And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it.  The whole of it is from our Lord:’ and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.”

Ali Imran:7

(Repeated from earlier column.)  Many people seek the magic formula for guaranteeing success and the pleasure of ALLAH.  After all, isn’t that what we all are seeking?  I think that most people, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or other, have this basic innate characteristic that has us seeking the pleasure of G-d, no matter what we call Him.

ALLAH says the plain and basic teachings of the Qur’an are what He desires us to focus on.  If we adhere to the basic tenants of the religion, we are virtually guaranteed paradise.

I’m talking about not imbibing intoxicants, not eating pork, not brutalizing your wife or children, not committing adultery and fornication, being charitable to your neighbor, and many other basic, common-sense directives.  These teachings are inherent in all of us.  They just have to be enhanced.

This brings me to the point of reminding us to revisit some of the teachings and tenants of our religion that we felt a special affinity for, or which was instrumental in sparking our faith in the first place.  Whether you were born into a practicing Muslim family, or you reverted, it was most probably the plain and basic teachings that ALLAH sent through His prophet, Muhammad (s) that endeared you to the faith.

When I first became Muslim in 1976, the teachings of Imam W. D. Mohammad had me spellbound most of my waking hours.  Granted, I was fresh from a different experience and therefore enthralled by the common sense explanations of Islam that were so explicit and plain – and remain so today.  Imam Mohammed is credited with almost single-handedly turning an entire community of people from false worship of Elijah Muhammad, to the clear universal teachings of Islam.

ALLAH, in His message to the world, constantly tells us that He is Lord and there is nothing equal to Him.  He further tells us that Adam (human beings) is next in line to Him.  He (ALLAH) tells us that we have nothing to submit to except Him.  This was great news to me.  It took a person who had bred-in inferiority complexes and elevated him to the lofty station right under the Lord, Master, Ruler, and Boss of all creation.  Imam Mohammed brought this point home beautifully utilizing the foolproof beauty of ALLAH’S Word.   I don’t believe there is anything in the worlds as powerful as this.

Read and listen to what ALLAH says in His Book.  Listen to ALLAH for true success.

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Harun Yahya – Secrets of the Hypocrites

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

They Imagine They are Destined for Paradise

One of the characteristics of hypocrites is that their belief in the Hereafter is very weak and distorted. Most of them do not believe that after death, they will have to account for crimes they committed in this world. And even if they do admit such a possibility, they regard themselves as destined to enter Paradise on account of having done everything necessary to do so. Examples of this flawed thinking are given in the Qur’an:

“I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.”

Al-Kahf: 36

According to their own flawed logic, simply because they live among believers, they must have performed various services, for better or worse. That being so, they will be rewarded for these in the Hereafter and will inevitably be admitted to Paradise. At the very worst, they think they will suffer punishment in Hell and then be admitted to Paradise. Allah reveals these misconceptions in the Qur’an:

That is because they say, “The Fire will only touch us for a number of days.” Their inventions have deluded them in their religion.

Ali ‘Imran: 24

As the verse informs us, this is an invention, on account of which hypocrites have been deluded in their religion. This verse, which follows on from the one cited above, reveals the kind of end awaiting them as a result:

But how will it be when We gather them all together for a Day about which there is no doubt? Every self will be paid in full for what it earned. They will not be wronged.

Ali ‘Imran: 25

Damage Wrought by the Disease of Self-Satisfaction

And so that He might punish the men and women of the hypocrites and the men and women of the idolaters—those who think bad thoughts about Allah. They will suffer an evil turn of fate. Allah is angry with them, and has cursed them and prepared Hell for them. What an evil destination!

Al-Fath: 6

Self-satisfaction is by itself a source of trouble for hypocrites. However, as you have seen in the preceding chapters, most of the time they are unaware of this. So self-satisfied and conceited are they that they are even able to ask, “Why does Allah not punish us for what we say? . . .” (Surat al-Mujadala: 8). As emphasized above, however, they are unaware that instead of the evident calamity they expect, they actually suffer numerous calamities, including physical and spiritual harm.

Allah refers in His verses to this harm suffered by hypocrites. Let us now examine these, one by one.

1. They are not Wise

Wisdom is one of the greatest assets a human being can possess. An unwise person is in a most wretched position, even though, being unwise, he is not even aware of this. He confuses wisdom with intelligence and so makes inaccurate decisions.

The same thing applies to the hypocrite, who may enjoy a particular level of intelligence. But he can never enjoy the wisdom that Allah bestows only on true believers, which allows them to distinguish right from wrong. They are thus deprived of one of the greatest blessings.

Wisdom is also one of a person’s greatest needs. At every moment of his life, a person needs it to be able to distinguish right from wrong and to protect himself from evil. The hypocrite’s devotion to this world leads to his being unwise. Therefore, he is unsuccessful when it comes to even the simplest matters requiring wisdom. The greatest proof of hypocrites’ lack of wisdom is how they imagine that Allah does not see what they do. (Surely Allah is beyond that!) Therefore, they seek to deceive believers and imagine that they can do so with impunity. They are addressed in the following terms in the Qur’an:

Don’t they know that Allah knows what they keep secret and what they make public?

Al-Baqara: 77

Another unwise claim they make is that Allah will not bring their iniquity into the light of day. However, on the Day of Judgment, Allah will round up and punish all the hypocrites who have ever lived. Before the Day of Judgment, He will also humiliate them in this world.

2. They are Unable to Comprehend the Verses

Sincere Muslims are, as set out in the Qur’an, “those who, when they are reminded of the signs of their Lord, do not turn their backs, deaf and blind to them” (Surat al-Furqan: 73). They are particularly sensitive to the verses of Allah. All believers know that all the verses of the Qur’an directly concern them and that they cannot remain unconcerned or distant from any of them. However, for possession of this state of mind, there is one very important precondition. An individual must be very humble, and not regard himself as free from any imperfections or defects. Only when a person has this sincerity and humility will Allah bestow the meaning of His verses in his or her heart.

Hypocrites, on the other hand, are very proud and a far cry from being sincere. They can never possess such an understanding due to their self-satisfaction. Although constantly exposed to the messenger’s message, they lack the ability to understand a single word he says. Their lack of comprehension is related in the Qur’an:

You will not make dead men hear; you will not make deaf men hear the call, when they turn their backs in flight. You will not guide blind men from their misguidance. You will not make anyone hear except for those who believe in Our signs and so are Muslims.

Ar-Rum: 52-53

The Qur’an also tells us how hypocrites, unaffected by the messenger’s words, possess a closed understanding due to the effects of their own self-satisfaction:
Who could do greater wrong than someone who is reminded of the signs of his Lord and then turns away from them, forgetting all that he has done before? We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though you call them to guidance, they will nonetheless never be guided.

Al-Kahf: 57

Again, as a consequence of the self-satisfaction that infects them and their inability to understand Allah’s Book, they misinterpret various of His verses. The reason for this is their pride and unfounded trust in their own limited wisdom. Allah warns believers beforehand against this disease carried by hypocrites by telling how they will seek to create strife in the community of the faithful:

It is He Who sent down the Book to you from Him: verses containing clear judgments—they are the core of the Book—and others which are open to interpretation. Those with deviation in their hearts follow what is open to interpretation in it, desiring conflict, seeking its inner meaning. No one knows its inner meaning but Allah. Those firmly rooted in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” But only people of intelligence pay heed.

Ali ‘Imran: 7

 

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Harun Yahya – Secrets of the Hypocrites

September 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

They Seek to Harm Believers and to Create Divisions

When those who disbelieve were plotting against you to imprison you or kill you or expel you: they were plotting and Allah was plotting, but Allah is the Best of Plotters.

Al-Anfal: 30

Harboring a subconscious hatred for believers, hypocrites seek to incite strife and division among believers in order to do them harm. As we’ve already made clear, their true aim is to divide believers, imagining that in this way, their community will be weakened and can be prevented from living by religious moral values.

Unity among believers of course constitutes a major support and strength for them. Yet believers draw their real strength from Allah. With the unity among them, believers fulfill the various responsibilities imposed on them, remember Allah, and wage a common struggle against deniers. The hypocritical mindset, which is unable to comprehend that believers draw their true strength from Allah, imagines that it can deal them a heavy blow by causing rifts between believers. Thus emerges one of the consequences of their perspective, in that they expend great energy on an endeavor that they regard as very important but which is actually fruitless and hollow. In their own view, this is the most effective way of weakening such a strong, unified community. After causing rifts among them, they continue their efforts to provoke strife against believers.

As already seen, hypocrites employ cunning methods to try to create such discord among believers. They never create strife by saying, “We will cause rifts to emerge among you.” On the contrary, they maintain that they are trustworthy people who seek to spread truth on Earth. With this cunning behavior, they seek to inspire trust and to create strife without making it apparent. They see this as a major opportunity, but as always, their endeavors come to nothing:

They will not harm you except with abusive words. . . .

Ali ‘Imran: 111

Their Beliefs Regarding the Hereafter, and Their Preference of This World Over It

For the believer, the goal of all his endeavors is the life of the Hereafter. Therefore, all the preparations in this world are in order to attain the life of the Hereafter in the best possible manner. When the subject is the Hereafter, having faith with a sure and certain knowledge becomes especially important. That is because people are reluctant to live for something in which they do not fully believe, which in their view seems illusory. In any case, the small number of believers and the presence of hypocrites is the result of this logic. Although what awaits them is a sure and certain fact, most people still live in constant doubt, despite the detailed accounts in the verses of the Qur’an and the countless proofs that they themselves witness. The reason for their doubts is that because of their earthly desires, they are reluctant to reflect on the truth about the Hereafter that they read in the verses of the Qur’an. Anyone who definitively believes in the Hereafter has understood that this world is of no great worth in comparison to the Hereafter, and will have turned his back on its deceptive baubles. For hypocrites, on the other hand, the world is their most valuable goal, and for that reason, they blind themselves to the Hereafter. Their situation is described in these terms in verses:

No, their knowledge stops short of the Hereafter. In fact they have doubts about it. In fact they are blind to it.

An-Naml: 66

The main reason why they harbor doubts about the Hereafter is the weakness of their faith and their worldly desires. Since they are unwilling to think about the Hereafter, they are unable to comprehend how imminent it is. As is revealed in the Qur’an in the verse, “They did not expect to have a reckoning” (Surat an-Naba’: 27), being called to account is something they never expect. The hypocrisy that dominates their desires manifests itself in this vitally important subject.

The reason, of course, is not unawareness of the Hereafter. They are merely unwilling to call to mind the Day of Judgment, the Hereafter and Hell. Not reflecting on these great truths, they are knowingly taken in by the deceptive nature of this world. By not thinking, they regard themselves as advantaged; and though they regard themselves as profiting from this, they are actually losing eternal Paradise.

They are Passionately Devoted to the Life of this World

The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the Hereafter—that is truly Life, if they only knew.

An-Ankabut’: 64

According to what Allah reveals to mankind in the Qur’an, the world has been created as only a temporary home. Our true home is that of the Hereafter, which is where our true lives will be lived. Moreover, those true lives will not be restricted to a mere 60 or 70 years, and people will remain there forever.

This is a great truth which everyone must bear in mind; and in this world, people must prepare for the true home to which they will go after death. Yet most people are unaware of this. To put it more accurately, they have no wish to think about it. They wish to live out their lives in this world, and avoid any ideas that might impinge on that. The existence of the Hereafter deals a heavy blow to their devotion to their worldly concerns. Since they are unwilling to accept this, they prefer to keep the idea as far away as possible. They disregard the information and spend their entire lives avoiding it. This is one way of not doing what they should.

The reason why they are so devoted to the life of this world is their failure to consider death. That is why, whenever the subject of death is brought up, they immediately try to change the subject: Because death will take away all they possess—their bodies, their goods, their money, their beauty, rank and station.

The fact remains, though, that no matter how they may seek to avoid it, death is a great reality. Every human being is born because Allah so wishes it, lives a destiny determined by Him and dies after an allotted period of time, in line with the destiny He has set out. Every rational human being must consider this with an open mind and at that point, fulfill the responsibility befalling him. That responsibility consists of not devoting oneself to the short, transitory life of this world but of living according to the bounds Allah has set.

But to the hardened hearts of hypocrites, life seems very bright and exciting, because the life of this world has been adorned with many baubles, as a requirement of the testing of human beings. By this, the deniers are deceived. People of faith, on the other hand, understand that these adornments are deceptive and that the life of this world will be over and done with in the blink of an eye.

Hypocrites avoid this reality. So strong is their devotion to this world that they ignore the reality of the Hereafter, even though they are very well aware of it. These people read the Qur’an, learn the true nature of events, and are of course familiar with the true nature of this world. Nonetheless, they never renounce it because, as revealed in the verse, they “prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter . . . .” (Surah Ibrahim: 3).

Love of the world has literally bewitched them and left them unable to accept the truth. Therefore, hypocrites engage in worldly calculations, as if they were never going to die. They make endless plans, and the cunning schemes they draw up against Muslims also lie within the framework of these worldly calculations. But being taken in by the adornments of the life of this world and forgetting about the Hereafter will in fact benefit them nothing. On the contrary, a worldly life full of difficulties, woes, humiliation and terrified suffering awaits them.

In their own minds, they have very good reasons for not reflecting on such exceedingly important matters as death, judgment, the Hereafter, Paradise and Hell. The main reason, however, is their hypocrisy. For them, life seems so long as never to come to an end, whereas they imagine that in the Hereafter, if they go there at all, they will merit the very best. The story of the vineyard owner in the Qur’an is an excellent example of this:

He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying, “I do not think that this will ever end. I do not think the Hour will ever come. But if I should be sent back to my Lord, I will definitely get something better in return.”

Al-Kahf: 35-36

The main barriers that prevent one from living by religious moral values, turning to Allah alone and living in the light of His wishes in order to attain His Paradise are his earthly desires—in other words, his passions. However, the common feature of all passions is that they distance people from Allah and His path. The important point is that sooner or later, worldly passions will leave them high and dry. When death comes, none of the values they so overvalued will prove of any use. They will leave behind everything they valued in this world and go alone into the presence of Allah.

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