Decadent Desserts Delight Kuwait

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first.”  ~Ernestine Ulmer

cupcakeDozens of cupcakes topped with miles of whipped frosting and dusted with colorful sprinkles, rich cheesecakes drenched with luscious berry sauce and towering parfaits topped with plenty of fruit and whipped cream. These are just a few of the decadent desserts available in bakery shops and restaurant menus all over Kuwait.

It used to be that traditional Arab desserts like Roz Bil Hilab, which is rice pudding topped with pistachios, or Kunafa, which is crunchy vermicelli noodles filled with sweet cream, were the perfect sweet ending to a meal. However, things have changed drastically in Kuwait and the dessert menu could not be sweeter.

Many blame it on the cupcake craze that took over America and soon the UK nearly a decade ago. The same fanatical food fad also invaded Kuwait and dug in its heels, thus never leaving. Today, cupcakes are sold just about anywhere people congregate such as food kiosks strategically stationed near recreational facilities and even school cafeterias. The love affair with cupcakes in Kuwait is so fervent that a handful of young Kuwaiti fashion designers recently designed an entire clothing line around the miniscule calorie-laden treats.

Once the cupcake craze grew to the gargantuan proportions that is today, businessmen in the Kuwaiti food industry became more proactive in providing other delectable western sweets to tempt the palates, and wallets, of the unsuspecting populous of the country. The result has been nothing short of miraculous, albeit a bit scary. Some of the most popular desserts that are currently challenging the cupcake in Kuwait today include pastel-hued French macarons and designer chocolate chip cookies larger than a human head.

Restaurants and businesses aren’t the only ones capitalizing on the dessert boom in Kuwait.  Hostesses all over the country are making a name for themselves based on the desserts they serve at their gatherings and dinner parties. Some simply pick up parcels of desserts at local bakeries, however others are whipping up their own concoctions right in the kitchen. A slew of dessert-themed recipe books and cooking shows have inundated Kuwait over the past few years giving momentum to a dessert obsession that simply will not die.

The downside to the decadent dessert initiative in Kuwait is, obviously, the sugar and calories. According to a 2010 report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 74% of the Kuwaiti population is overweight and 14% have already developed diabetes. The WHO predicts that those figures will rise unless individuals make more healthful food choices.

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Ramadan: Light Up My Life

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

ramadan2The celebration of Ramadan, in the Middle East region, is a spectacular affair full of worship, fasting and just being kind to your fellow neighbor. Restaurants, cafes and local businesses pull out all of the stops by offering special late night menus and a special dessert menu to tempt just about any palate. While food is a big part of the Ramadan tradition, since the breaking of the fast is one of the great joy’s bestowed upon Muslims by God Almighty, there is also another tradition that continues to grow bigger with each passing year.

The holy season of Ramadan heralds in a whole month full of blessings that fill the Muslim’s heart with joy, from the crack of dawn until the sun makes its serene descent towards the gilded horizon. However, once the sun sets, there is nothing dim about the auspicious nights of Ramadan.  From Cairo to Palestine, tiny lanterns and strands of brightly colored bulbs ensure that the Ramadan nights sparkle. The skies are set aglow with brightly colored lights that either hang effortlessly midair or are manipulated into grandiose shapes in all sizes.

While most Islamic nations in the region do trim city streets with Ramadan fare, there is one tiny municipality that just does it better. In Abu Dhabi, which is a municipality of the United Arab Emirates, the streets are decked out in thousands upon thousands of tiny bulbs. Each year, teams of workers hang and dangle countless numbers of lights, lanterns and decorations all around the municipality. This year is no different, as the Abu Dhabi government shelled out a massive $136,000 to light up parts of the municipality’s infrastructure.

In just over two weeks, workers completed the gargantuan task in record time. Bridges and tunnels around the Corniche serve as the foundation for the elaborate decorations which includes giant stars, golden crescents and “Ramadan Kareem” signs. Heavy-duty cables, that have been inspected and approved by Abu Dhabi authorities, were enlisted to guarantee that the decorations and lanterns hang safely above. The whole undertaking is environmentally friendly as well. Light-Emitting Diodes, or LED lights, have been used to conserve energy. LED lights use an estimated 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and produce less heat which is a vital safety measure in the arid regions of the Middle East. The decorations will remain in place until after the Eid holidays have been celebrated.

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Unity in Diversity

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aqeela Naqvi

TMO Editor’s Note:  This is the first-place essay, by Aqeela Naqvi.

COLOR Aqeela NaqviThe date is December 5, 2000, my birthday. I walk through the hallways to my third grade classroom, trying not to notice the butterflies in my stomach. People turn to say “Hi” and do a double-take. I walk into my classroom; even my teacher gives me a funny look. “Aqeela?” I look up at her and try to control the nervousness in my voice as I say “Good morning.” Throughout the day, some of my classmates shoot indiscreet glances in my direction, while others stare shamelessly. Today is the first day I began wearing the Hijab, a head-covering that is required to be worn in my religion for all girls at the age of nine. Today, I walked into school with palms sweating, ears burning, and a heartbeat so loud it could be heard a mile away.

It has been nearly nine years since that day – nine years in which I have received stares for looking different, been called “towel-head” and “terrorist,” been judged based on first impressions, and was once, after September 11th, a ten-year old scared to walk out her front door simply because of a cloth on her head. Throughout my life, I had always assumed that prejudice against people of other backgrounds was something that existed in the past: something that had been buried long ago by the dreams of people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who believed in a day where all people would be judged solely on the content of their character. It was not until I began to wear a hijab, however, and began to experience blatant discrimination, that I realized that the works of past human rights activists had not completely healed the defects in society–they had simply covered its wounds with bandages that were slowly beginning to peel away.

From the day I wrapped a scarf around my head, “diverse” became my middle name. The more I was told that I couldn’t participate in certain activities, the more involved in them I became. I strove to prove that no matter how different I looked, I was still the same as everyone else. I could still participate in athletic activities; I could still be involved in public speaking; I could still perform community service activities; I could still be me. I began to understand that Society was a machine that attempted to create perfect porcelain dolls: the chipped, the flawed, the ones that were the wrong shade or the wrong size, the ones that were different, were all regarded as useless and thrown aside. I understood that I was seen as one of those throwaway dolls, but I refused to let society’s definition of me as such rule my life.

When I first began wearing a hijab, that cold December day in third grade, I did not fully understand its symbolism. I took it simply as something I had to do for my religion. As the years passed, I slowly became involved in my local community, donating my time and energy to volunteer at places such as my local soup kitchen, and getting involved in interfaith dialogue and charitable opportunities, and I began to realize that the hijab I wore on my head was not just a cloth; it was a mark of my strength.

It forced the people I encountered to get to know and understand me on a mental level before they judged me on a physical level. To me, everything that the hijab entails, the long sleeves and pants, the piece of cloth I wrap around my head, the aura of modesty – is all a sign of inner beauty. I have come to believe that all of us, regardless of our race or religion, have our own “hijabs” that set us apart from the crowd. All of us come from different backgrounds and have different experiences that cause the canvas of our lives to hold colors unique from everyone else. We all have a hijab that allows each and every one of us, down to the most fragile and faded porcelain doll, to have something that makes us absolutely and irreplaceably beautiful.

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An Effective Tool to Save on Estate Taxes

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

With the limited free-time you have outside of work, drafting a sound estate plan is usually not the first thing on your list of chores.  However, a simple overlook can cost you money. When discussing an estate plan, more and more people have begun to inquire about Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT). An ILIT is a unique estate planning tool utilized to help minimize taxes – estate or gift, by reducing the size of your estate.

This trusted tool has saved individuals hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by limiting the amount of taxes paid upon their death. Although commonly used to effectuate a goal, many still hesitate to implement this tool as part of their overall estate plan.

With the ever-changing demands of society, it has become essential for you to carry some form of life insurance to ensure your loved ones are taken care. The amount of coverage varies depending on your family and your current lifestyle. However, there is no dispute that carrying life insurance is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity.

Many are unaware that without proper planning life insurance proceeds become subject to federal estate taxes. This is something often overlooked until you realize the sizable amount of estate taxes you pay. The State of Michigan includes life insurance proceeds in your estate if you claim “incidents of ownership” over the policy; for example, being able to change your beneficiary; borrow from your policy; or exercise any other right that is usually possessed by an owner. By giving up these rights you are assured to have your proceeds excluded from your estate.

Another option is to list your spouse as the beneficiary. This too, reduces the value of your estate, as the proceeds will be excluded, but don’t be fooled into thinking the planning stops here. What happens when your spouse passes away? The amount your spouse inherited will be counted in his/her estate. Therefore, although you possibly avoided estate taxes upon your death, you have not completely solved the problem. This is where the effectiveness of an ILIT is best illustrated.

An ILIT is an extremely useful tool used to help minimize your estate taxes. With the estate tax exemption being widely speculated to hit pre-2001 figures, $1 million exemption at a 55% tax rate, ILITs are increasingly becoming the most popular estate planning tool. Remember, planning for today will serve you no protection for tomorrow; but planning for tomorrow will serve you protection for today.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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Community News (V12-I19)

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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Two Muslim students named winners of  Spirit of Princeton Awards

PRINCETON, NJ–Two Muslims are in the list of eight winners of the 2010 Spirit of Princeton Award, which honors undergraduates at Princeton University for their positive contributions to campus life. The award recognizes eight seniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the undergraduate experience through dedicated efforts with student organizations, athletics, community service, religious life, residential life and the arts.

This year’s winners were selected from a group of more than 90 nominations and will be honored with a book prize at a dinner on May 5.

The profiles of the two students are as follows:

Muhammad Jehangir Amjad, from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, has worked to create awareness of Pakistani arts and culture. He is the founder of the student group Pehchaan and is a member of the Muslim Students Association. Amjad also has been involved with the International Relations Council, both as a delegate and as a conference leader. In Rockefeller College, he has served as a residential college adviser for two years and a residential computing consultant for three years. An avid cricketer, Amjad worked with other students to create an informal team that competed with Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is majoring in electrical engineering and pursuing a certificate in engineering and management systems. He was elected to Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society, and has worked as a teaching assistant for computer science and electrical engineering courses. Next year Amjad will be working for Microsoft Corp. as a program manager.

Mariam Rahmani, from Kent, Ohio, is majoring in comparative literature and pursuing certificates in Persian language and culture, and European cultural studies. Rahmani has been the president of the Muslim Students Association and a co-convener of the Religious Life Council. She has worked to create a healthy environment for Muslim students through interfaith iftars, Eid banquets, the annual Fast-a-Thon and the creation of an alumni community group. With the University’s Religious Life Council, she participated in a trip to India to study religious pluralism, spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, traveled to Tanzania in summer 2008 and participated in a Muslim-Jewish dialogue trip to Spain. Additionally, Rahmani served on the selection committee for the first Muslim chaplain at Princeton and for the new vice president of campus life. In her senior year, she spoke to the freshman class at “Reflections on Diversity” and is a residential college adviser in Butler College.

Vandals deface Ottawa mosque

OTTAWA, CANADA–Ottawa’s Muslim community has condemned the defacing of a sign in Barrhaven marking the future location of a mosque and community centre.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said local residents discovered on Friday that offensive words, phrases and symbols were spray painted in red and black on the sign.

“Such acts are offensive, hurtful and intimidating to local citizens,” the council said in a statement.

“While the recurrence of such incidents is deeply disturbing, CAIR-CAN does not believe that such acts represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians,” the group said. “Which is why we ask our fellow citizens to join us in condemning this and all such incidents.”

The group said mosques in Calgary, and in the Ontario cities of Hamilton, Waterloo and Pickering have also been vandalized in the last four months.

Dr. Zarzour delivers keynote speech at Lexington Islamic school

LEXINGTON, KY–Lexington Universal Academy (LUA) a full-time accredited K-8 Islamic school in the heart of Central Kentucky held its annual fundraising dinner at the local Marriot in Lexington, KY, on April 25. The dinner attracted close to 330 community members from diverse backgrounds. Addressing the guests, LUA President shared the school’s accomplishments for the academic school year.

The keynote speaker, Br. Safaa Zarzour, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America delivered a passionate speech on the importance of Islamic Education.

He shared his personal and professional experience with regards to the important role Islamic schools are playing in building future Muslim leadership.

“In Chicago alone, only 0.5% of Muslim high school graduates come from Islamic schools, yet 60 % of the Muslim student leadership at Chicago universities are graduates of Islamic schools”, said Br. Safaa. He invited the community members to support this noble and critical initiative and exceeded the organizers’ fundraising goal of $100,000.

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Leaf in His Hair

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent

I sat in my car being driven through the streets of Lahore and wondered what else I had to do after I was done with the task in front of me. I was going around running my errands since it was a Saturday. While I sat there in between getting the job done I thought about how much more I had left for today and how there was just not enough time. As my car stopped in front of the bank I sped to the ATM machine praying that I still have enough money left in the account. Exiting the ATM booth there was a lady ahead of me and was barely walking. First I tried to maneuver around her to get away quickly but there was no room to do that. Just then my eyes dropped to her spiked heal shoes and I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to say to her that lady, maybe if you had been a little bit more vigilant when getting ready and had worn sensible shoes you would not have such a difficult time walking over these uneven pavements. And maybe just maybe the rest of us who don’t have the whole day to waste, mind you, could go about our business a little bit faster. Once she was out of my way I was in my car once again and thinking of many other things that were more important than that woman and her shoes.

I was going along with my day trying to rush through time and in turn my life. Just then I had the most magnificent sight I could have with the kind of day I was having. A boy of about 12-13 years old was riding on his bicycle on the pavement next to my car. My car stopped for the red light ahead and I saw him. He was wearing dark brown shalwar qameez and had a mess of hair on his head about the same color. He was strutting along oblivious to his surrounding and to the fact that there was a leaf stuck in his hair. He was singing along to the beat of his own drum. He seemed so comfortable and happy even though it was hot and sunny outside and he was not sitting in an air-conditioned car like me. I couldn’t help but stop my car to talk to him. I guess for someone like me the idea of someone enjoying a casual day on a work day was completely absurd.

I waved at him and asked him to stop. He stopped on the side of the road a little surprised and said, “Madam I am not selling anything”, I told him I knew and also asked him where he was going, “home” he said. Then I couldn’t take it any more. I told him that there was a feather stuck in his hair. He caressed his hair and laughed when he felt the leaf there as though remembering good old times. He looked at the leaf and started telling me that he was playing with his friends they were throwing rocks at trees to see how high they could throw them. He said all this looking down at the leaf as though everything he was saying was written on it. Well it was a reminder any way. A little disturbed with the situation I asked him why he wasn’t in school. I was wondering why would parents let there little children roam around on streets rather then send them to school or have them do something else constructive. He looked at me with a glow in his eyes and told me that he does go to school. When? I said not believing him since it was 4 in the afternoon and he was on the streets and apparently playing with his friends. He said he goes to school in the afternoon. He said he has to work in the day and then late into the night so the only time he finds to study is in the afternoon. He said that his parents couldn’t afford to send him to school so one of the boys in his neighborhood who did his 10th class from a school was teaching him and a couple of his friends and making some money.

I was speechless after that. This little boy had taught me so much about my own life in a matter of minutes. Watching me quiet and unable to speak he asked me if he could go because he didn’t want to be late for his study session. I couldn’t say anything more to him. There was nothing I could tell him about life that he didn’t already know. In just the few minutes that boy was in front of me he taught me so much about life and how to live it.  As I watched him peddle off into the distance I thought about my life and everything I had wanted to be when I was his age. Trying to understand what I was feeling my eyes locked on the leaf on the ground. He had looked at it so carefully and I had felt a certain calm in him when he was holding it in his hands. I tried to look for that emotion but now it was nothing more than litter on the ground. Just then I heard my driver asking me if I was ready to leave. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wasn’t ready to go back to the same old hustle and bustle of my life. But unfortunately I did. Getting back into my car I realized we lived in two different worlds. His world was tough but was filled with innocence and charm. Yet my world is ugly and it renders one unable to move in front of the great jaws of what we call the wheel of life. That boy and the beautiful leaf in his un-kept hair is a distant memory now, just like everything else that is peaceful and lovable in this world that we live in.

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Young People

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

El-Amin portrait I am appalled as I learn more and more about some of the antics and activities some of our young adults are engaging in.  In what seems to be a quest to be “cool” or “regular”, (or what some have the audacity to call “normal”) some of our young people are going too far in emulating the ugly low-life they see in in the streets and the media.

I know that every generation looks at their offspring as crazy young kids.  My parents used to shake their heads at me too.  But I can honestly say that our values and morals were much higher than the young generation today.  Even the way the young people dress (and I’m particularly talking about the young men.  When I was coming up we prided ourselves on being nicely dressed.  We made sure we had creases in our pants and our shoes were shinned.  We prided ourselves on wearing nice fabrics and taking care of them.

Nowadays the young men seem to see how bad they can dress.  They go all day looking like they just got up out of bed and threw on the first thing they could grab.  And the irony of it all is they think they are looking good.  It bewilders me how someone can wear jeans with holes and tears in them and some hanging down exposing underwear and say it looks good.  Something is definitely wrong mentally if something so ugly can be perceived as being hip and cool.

But that’s not all.  The level some of them have sank to would boggle the mind of most civil-minded human beings.  There are youngsters (males and females) who use profanity that sounds like it comes out of a sewer.  There are some choosing places of ill-repute to party and have fun.  There are even cases of homosexuality, (males and females, and it seems to be more females than males), and on top of that it is so widespread that sometimes it doesn’t get a glance.

Some of these Muslim children have grown up in Muslim homes all their life.  Some of them have more Qur’an  in their little finger than I have in my whole body.   They can recite scripture from memory in beautiful rhythmic tones that make you want to cry listening to it.  So why this double life?

In the African- American community there were many reverts to Islam that witnessed  some of the same  negative lifestyles described above – myself included.  So this degenerate lifestyle of this society has no attraction for me and others my age.  But the youngsters, growing up in an environment where this type of behavior is forbidden or strongly discouraged,  feel the pull to experiment (as all youngsters do).  But these days are so dangerous because youngsters have access to so much technology that puts virtually anything decrepit within a finger click away.

10 and 11 year olds are watching hard-core pornography, sinister sadistic murders, and glorifying morally loose lifestyles.  It has gotten so bad that some people have given up on them and believe straightening them out is a lost cause.  But I don’t.  I believe we must work even harder pointing out to them the need for them not to stray too far.  And we must work even harder to try and be better examples ourselves.  Even though that negative media has a strong influence, the strongest influence is you.

I tell you we have a big challenge ahead of us.  Some of us have been asleep (including me) but it’s time to wake up and get busy.  Let us do more Dawah at the dinner table rather than at the masjid.   Let’s start back being parents instead of friends – which really would be the best friend they could have.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin

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It’s All in the Bag

April 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

handbag Already set to celebrate her ten year anniversary, savvy Lebanese businesswoman Sarah Beydoun has dedicated her life creating a happy medium of harmony between her social activism beliefs and her love of fashion. Through her business, “Sarah’s Bags”, she has found a way to use her skills as an artisan to make a difference in the lives of both the rich and the poor, annihilating social stigmas all along the way.

Born and bred in Lebanon, Beydoun’s modus operandi is none other than most women’s most coveted accessory, the handbag. After writing her thesis about the plight of female Lebanese prisoners languishing in prisons for some of the most heinous crimes, Beydoun recognized an opportunity to make an impact in their lives. She spent some time on the ‘inside’ of a rehab center for female convicts and got up close and personal with their daily struggles. It would be that first encounter that would set the future path for Beydoun and what would become her life’s purpose in “Sarah’s Bags”.

Beydoun sought out her own potential seamstresses in some of the toughest prisons and rehab facilities in Lebanon to create the bags, even teaching inmates how to embroider and sew beads herself. She also reached out to the poorest of the poor in Lebanon’s rural areas to give those women a chance to have a better future. “Sarah’s Bags” currently employs 100 designers who create its entire line of haute couture quality purses.

As Beydoun admits herself, each bag carries with it just a little bit of the impoverished or imprisoned woman who created it. The designs range from glittering spectacles of bling wear to socially aware pieces, like the ones featuring high ranking celebrities like Lebanese singers and even a queen or two. And the results have been outstanding and certainly a surprise to Beydoun. Everyone from top celebrities to the richest elite has clamored to have their own bag.

“Sarah’s Bags” can be found all over the Middle East and in Europe gracing the shelves of the most select boutiques. A single bag starts at $400, with more detailed bags fetching a handsome ransom. The company has also expanded over the years to include everything from shoes to belts to custom-designer jewelry and scarves.

Seeking to mark her tenth anniversary in style, Beydoun plans to handpick ten women to use her purses as their own personal canvas. Each woman will be allowed to share her personal trials and tribulations right on the handbag. In some small measure, they can use the power of the purse to let their voices be heard.

The awards and accolades Beydoun has begun collecting have been quite notable. Most recently, Beydoun’s line of socially aware purses were featured in Washington D.C. as part of the Kennedy Center’s International Festival. The future looks bright for Beydoun as an eager buzz, stretching clean across the globe, surrounds her company. However, the designer remains true to her roots promising to make employing less fortunate women the lifeblood of her company.

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Shakh Tahir Qadri’s Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and Terrorism

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Continuation, part two

Shaykh-Tahir-Qadri

1. The first question in this connection that bothers all relates to use of force to spread beliefs: Is it lawful for a group or organization to use force to promote and put into effect their own creed and beliefs in the name of reforming others’ beliefs and ideologies, presuming themselves to be on the right path? Does Islam allow, somehow, the killing of people maintaining ideological differences, looting their wealth and properties and destroying mosques, religious places and shrines?

• Islam is a religion of peace and safety that champions love and harmony in society. According to Islamic teachings, only such a person will be called a Muslim at whose hands the lives and properties of all the innocent Muslims and non-Muslims remain safe and unhurt. The sanctity of human life and its protection occupies fundamental place in the Islamic law. Taking anyone’s life for nothing and killing him is an act forbidden and unlawful. Rather, in some cases, it amounts to infidelity. These days, the terrorists, in a vain attempt to impose their own ideas and beliefs and eliminate their opponents from the surface of the earth, killing innocent people ruthlessly and indiscriminately everywhere in Mosques, Bazaars, governmental offices and other public places are in fact committing manifest infidelity. They are warned of humiliating torment in this world and in the hereafter. Terrorism, in its very essence, is an act that symbolizes infidelity and rejection of what Islam stands for. When the forbidden element of suicide is added to it, its severity and lethality becomes even graver. Scores of Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions have proved that massacre of Muslims and terrorism is unlawful in Islam; rather, they are blasphemous acts. That has always been the edict unanimously held by all the scholars that have passed in the 1400 year Islamic history, including all the eminent Imams of Tafseer and Hadith and authorities on logic and jurisprudence. Islam has kept the door of negotiation and discussion open to convince by reasoning, instead of taking up arms to declare the others’ standpoint wrong, and enforce one’s own opinion. Only the victims of ignorance, jealousy and malice go for militancy. Islam declares them rebels. They will abide in Hell.

2. The second question in this regard is: what are the rights of the non-Muslim citizens in a Muslim state?

• Islam not only guarantees the protection of life, honour and property of Muslim citizens of an Islamic state, but also assures the equal protection of life, honour and property of non-Muslim citizens and of those people too with whom it has entered into a peace treaty. The rights of non-Muslim citizens enjoy the same sanctity as those of Muslim citizens in an Islamic state. There is no difference between them as human beings. That is why Islamic law metes out equal treatment to both Muslims and non-Muslims in blood money and Qisas. Non-Muslims have complete personal and religious freedom in a Muslim society. Their properties and worship places also enjoy complete protection. Besides non-Muslim citizens, even the ambassadors of non-Muslim countries and others working on diplomatic assignments have also been guaranteed complete protection. Likewise, the protection of life and property of non-Muslim traders is the responsibility of Islamic state. Islam does not allow and recommend the use of violence against and killing of peaceful and non-combatant citizens under any circumstances. Those indulging in attacks on peaceful non-Muslim citizens, kidnapping them for ransom, and torturing them mentally and physically, keeping them under unlawful custody, are in fact committing serious violation of Islamic teachings.

3. The third question arises: does Islam offer manifest commands on the sanctity of human life? Is it lawful to kidnap and assassinate the foreign delegates and innocent and peaceful non-Muslim citizens to avenge the non-Muslim global powers’ wrongs and atrocities?

• The emphasis Islam lays on the sanctity and dignity of human life can be gauged from the fact that Islam does not allow massacre even when Muslim armies are engaged in the event of war against enemy troops. The killing of children, women, the old, patients, religious leaders and traders is strictly prohibited. Nor can those who surrender their arms, confine themselves to their homes and seek shelter of anyone be killed. The masses cannot be massacred. Likewise, worship places, buildings, crops and even trees cannot be destroyed. On the one hand, there is a clear set of Islamic laws based on extreme discretion, and on the other, there are people who invoke the name of Islam to justify the indiscriminate killing of people, children, and women everywhere, without any distinction of religion and identity. It is a pity that such barbaric people still refer their activities as Jihad. There can be no bigger discrepancy than that seen around on earth. This can no way be permissible to keep the foreign delegates under unlawful custody and murder them and other peaceful non-Muslim citizens in retaliation to their interference, unjust activities and aggressive advances. The one who does it has no relation to Islam and the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him).

4. The fourth and very significant question underlines rebellion: Is armed struggle permissible against the Muslim rulers to remove their governments because of their non-Islamic policies, or get accepted the demands, bring them on to the right path, giving up their impious activities? Is rebellion permissible against the constitutional government, its writ and governance? What should be the legitimate way to change the rulers or make them mend their ways?

• Islam is not merely a religion. It is a complete Din, a code of life. Providing a complete set of principles for every walk of life, it has also made arrangements for the protection of the collectivity of society. The rights and duties of state institutions have manifestly and clearly been spelled out. All citizens of Muslim state have been placed under obligation to abide by state laws, rules and regulations. One of these principles is that a Muslim state and society should be a paragon of peace, and mutual coexistence. That is why Islam strictly prohibits the taking up of arms against a Muslim state, challenging its authority and writ, and declaring war against it. Islamic law holds such an action as rebellion. God forbid if such conditions are created, then it is the principal responsibility of an Islamic state to take urgent measures to eliminate rebellion with iron hand and exterminate terrorism so that no individual or group can dare destroy the social harmony of society, ruin peace and shed innocent blood. Islam holds the peace and tranquility of a society, in general, and of a Muslim state, in particular, so dear that it does not allow people to raise the banner of revolt in the name of injustice, oppression and other vices of ruling elite. In the light of Prophetic traditions, the banner of rebellion against a Muslim state cannot be raised unless the rulers commit explicit, declared and absolute infidelity, and stop the performance of religious rituals like prayer through the use of force.

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Using our Adam to Control our Animal Nature

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

When Adam was created a very special being was created.  ALLAH actually put more of Himself into human kind than any other part of creation.  He told the Jinn, Angels, Devil, and everything else to submit to humankind.  This puts us directly under ALLAH with nothing in between.

It also gives us a great amount of responsibility to live our lives as Muslim human beings.  When you consciously accept to become a Muslim, thoughts and activities you did prior to accepting the highest station of creation (Conscious Muslim human being) should be suppressed with as much vigor as possible.

All ethnic groups and cultures of Muslim groups have their own cultural baggage that denigrates the religion as well as the individual.  There are cultural practices that automatically place women in an inferior, sub-class from men.  This is not from scripture.  It is from misogynist, chauvinistic ideas of men.  Nevertheless they are seen by non-Muslims, and some Muslims, as part of the religion.  These types of negative portrayals create a mindset that stifles the positive forward progress of the community.

There are other groups, primarily reverts to the religion, that have cultural baggage they brought with them from another life.

I witnessed a terrible example of this when two brothers in a disagreement actually went to fisticuffs – at the masjid – instead of using their religious instruction to solve the problem.  The altercation actually started over unproven accusations that they didn’t take time to discuss.  They just let violent, uncivilized behavior take over their minds and a worst situation developed.   Settling differences with brawn rather than brain is the result of a barbaric mentality that has no place in the life of a conscious Muslim.

When most reverts accept the religion it’s because they see a superior way of life dictated by the directives of the Almighty ALLAH through His human example, Prophet Muhammad (s).  We look at where we came from and the negative effects backward lifestyles had on us and vow to live a new, fruitful, productive, moral and peaceful life.  Some of us even make the journey to Mecca to perform the hajj to increase our spirituality and thus the tools to achieve this new life.

Human beings are animals.  The same physiological characteristics that make up our bodies are present in most animals, especially mammals.  We even use cats, dogs, and fetal pigs in laboratories to study our own human physiology.  The only difference between our brain and the brain of a cat is our brain houses “mind,” which makes us human.

So even though we have this animal nature, our human mind is supposed to control it.  This is true for ordinary human beings and is supposed to be especially prominent for those of us who have become Conscious Muslim Human Beings.  So whatever your ethnic or cultural baggage, whether misogyny or brutal aggression, Islam is supposed to free you from that.  And this freedom is yours regardless of your cultural or ethnic background.  The Qur’an speaks to all people.

It is understandable that these things are difficult to overcome but every effort must be made to make the change.  ALLAH made us (Muslim human animals) to be the cream of creation and endowed us with a piece of Him to take care of the creation.

Let us try to remember ALLAH the next time challenges confront us.  Let us think before we do an action whether ALLAH would approve of what that action is and the manner we are doing that action.  Remember Ihsan, “behave as though you see ALLAH, aware you can’t see Him, but also aware that He sees you.”

As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin

12-12

True Love for the Divine

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Azher Quader

i-love-allah As Americans go about serenading their sweethearts on Valentines Day each year in the middle of February, love often arrives gift wrapped as a box of chocolates or shows up as a vase filled with roses. Sometimes for the more adventurous ones it may announce itself through pajama grams or for some imaginative ones through cuddly teddy bears. Clearly this money-making commerce of love is good for the industry. How much good it does to strengthen commitments, affirm affections or even heal some hurts is of little consequence to our society which thrives on the make believe, where the outer is more important than the inner, where the image is more compelling than the reality and where the transient is more attractive than the enduring.

Indeed the joy of true love is far more elusive than what the commercials tell us or what the romantic creations of Hollywood depict, where the plays of passion as shown on the silver screen dominate our imagination and describe the way to live and love.

For true love is not so common, is very special, a lot more demanding and indeed life changing. It empowers the week, enriches the poor and transforms the ordinary to become the extraordinary.

True love for a spouse is in the exercise of unconditional love that gives without asking, that seeks no strings, that provides much while receiving little.

It is sitting near a bed holding hands when speech is lost to the silence of stroke. It is a commitment to nursing when sickness overtakes, when Alzheimer devastates, when cancer strikes and yes to caring even when cure is said to be not possible.

It is to do the chores that come at the end of a tiring day, with a smile. To do the dishes, to make the meals, to change the diapers and so much more without raising a brow, without voicing a complaint. It is to make time when there is little time. To listen when arguing is easier, to practice patience when tempers are hot, to forgive when the moment has passed.

It is the love built on trust. It is the love that is not threatened by the embrace of other affections. It is the love that triumphs over the tragedies of life. It is the love that lingers through good times and bad times. It is the love that never dies.

True love for country is in the willingness to fight for its freedoms, to bear arms against its enemies, to make the ultimate sacrifice if need be, in the defense of its borders.

It is to speak truth to power, to abide by the law, to preserve the peace. It is to demand representation, to practice civic engagement, to look for the common good. It is in the willingness to dialogue and seek common ground. It is in the ability to see the big picture, let go of personal agendas and promote the national interest. It is to recognize that whether we live in the north or the south, in the east coast or in the west coast, whether we are black, white, brown or yellow, whether we are new immigrants from distant shores or old natives, inhabitants of the soil, whether we came here in chains or we came here by choice, our lives are now inseparable, we now share a common destiny.

True love for country is not the special claim of one ideological group or another, whether they be on the right or on the left or anywhere in between. True love for country is found in those patriot souls whose loyalty is not divided, who march to a single drummer and who carry a single flag.

True love for the Divine expresses itself through submission to His Will in all aspects of our living. It is a love that transcends our love for family and country. It frees us from our tribal allegiances, it liberates us from our national bondages. It makes us citizens of a global village. It is a love that connects man to fellow man, indeed to all creation. It is a love that unites mankind by reminding us of our essential humanity.

True love for the Divine is engaging not reclusive. It is best manifest in society amidst people and problems, not in the mountains amidst solitude and tranquility.
True love for the Divine is more than the pursuit of devotional practices that lead us into a life of self-absorption. It is to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. It is to feed the hungry, care for the ailing, and speak for the silent. It is to spend for the welfare of the poor and needy, to teach and educate, to be good neighbors. It is to build trust among the distrusting, show compassion to the hateful.

True love for the Divine is a lot more than singing His praises or twirling in His remembrance. It is much more than memorizing His Words and reciting them every day. True love for the Divine is a state of being, a life of doing. True love for the Divine is tremendously empowering and life changing.

This Valentine Day let us find true love.

Azher Quader, Executive Director, Community Builders Chicago (CBC), www.mycommunitybuilders.com

12-8

Renewal of Yourself First

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

The tenets of the religion of Al-Islam emphasize constant renewal in our lives.  If we could just do something once and be done with it, our practice of the religion would cease to exist.  For instance, we are directed to fast every year in Ramadan.  This is because one time just won’t do it.  We will forget and/or lapse into other activities to divert our attention from the remembrance of ALLAH, so He orders us to fast each year.

There are many other signs from ALLAH for us to reflect on.  We breathe, eat and drink everyday to replenish our bodies.  If we did not…well you know the answer to that.  There is also constant renewal in education.  Our brains need activity to grow and be useful.

Similarly, our relationships must also be constantly renewed.  How many of us have heard the expression “What you did to get her, you must also do to keep her?”
But before we get to that; before reaching out to our spouses, we must reach out to ourselves.  In order to spread cheer to our families, spouses, and others, it must first come from a cheerful body and mind.  How is this accomplished?

Each day upon rising we must begin to renew ourselves by recognizing the great masterful work of art ALLAH formed when He created you.  You must look in the mirror and say to yourself how good you look.  Arm your mind with positive thoughts and keep the evil ones (Shatan) from convincing you that you are otherwise.

After recognition of your greatness, resolve to be grateful to ALLAH by taking care of this great creation – you.  Make sure you bathe and keep yourself clean.  Shampoo your hair and use conditioner to enhance its appearance and health.  Try to eat sensibly to reduce stress on your body.  Exercise at least moderately to keep your temple in the best shape.

Above all, try to live as uneventful a life as possible.  We learn in science that the brain responds to stress by secreting a hormone called cortisol.  This chemical balances the stress levels in your body and helps you to cope with the ups and downs of your life.  We know everybody has stress but it’s smart to keep it to a minimum because too much secretion of this cortisol is harmful to your body.  It causes excess plaque build-up in the blood vessels and contributes to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and many other ailments.  These are things that could be prevented by living a moderate life as dictated by your Creator, Almighty ALLAH.

So when you concentrate on this constant renewal of yourself, it will make you grateful and put you in the best possible position to reach out to others.  We will be able to love and see the benefit and beauty of our spouse and help them see the benefit and beauty of themselves.  This is very important because then everybody wins and ALLAH is pleased because you are carrying out His desires for creating you in the first place.  And if ALLAH is pleased with you, you can ask for no better reward.

12-3

Houstonian Corner V12-I3

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Bereavement for the Khan Family

We announce with immense pain and sorrow that Yasmeen Khan (Parro), wife of President of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) Shaukat Khan and sister of former City of Houston Councilperson Masrur Javed Khan, passed away after bravely battling with cancer for almost two years. Her funeral prayers were held at Hamza Masjid.

A special program of prayers was held for her on Saturday, January 16th, 2010 at 12:30pm. at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) Main Center located at 3110 East Side Street, Houston, Texas 77098. For more information, one can call 832-867-2522 / 713-398-4829.

Staff members and their families of our media institute would like to extend our heartiest condolences’ to the whole Khan Family, pray for the departed soul to enter into the highest paradise and that God gives strength to the whole family to bear this immense loss (Aameen).

Public Service Does Not Need Any Portfolio: M. J. Khan

Picture AO

Picture AN

Friends of Former City of Houston District “F” Councilperson M. J. Khan arranged a dinner to recognize and appreciate the services rendered by termed-out Councilman. Special congressional recognition was given by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on this occasion. Also present and who gave tremendous tributes to M. J. included Congressman AL Green, Former Mayor of Houston Bill White, City of Houston Councilperson District “A” Brenda Stardig; Harris County Judge Candidate Gordon Quan, Azam Akhtar; Ghulam Chisti; Ghulam Bombaywala, Ali Riza Candir (Turkish Community); Dr. Asaf Qadeer; Shamshad Wali; Haroon Shaikh; Dr. Yaqoob Sheikh; Attorney Nomi Hussain; Ahmad El-Yaseen; Mohammad Zaheer; Attorney Neiyyar Izfar; and others. Everyone said that people will soon see M. J. Khan at a high public service post.

M. J. Khan with heavy heart informed everybody that doctors have given up hope for his sister to recover from cancer, which she had been daringly fighting for 2 years and then proudly informed that God has given him a grandson Yousuf only two weeks ago. He said these are real life struggles and then joyous stories: Winning or losing elections have no meaning in front of the real life.

He said he never ever imagined that a stadium full of people like 70,000 would ever vote for him in his life. Masrur Khan informed about a saying of Gordon Quan: “A stadium full of people voted for me. But just as information, my opponent also got a stadium full of voters balloting in his favor.”

He said although he did not win City Controller Elections, it does not mean he has lost or he will sit on the sidelines. “One does not need a portfolio to serve fellow human being,” added M.J.

Talking generally to the Muslim Community, M. J. Khan said history is a proof that wherever Muslims went, they left beautiful legacy of human service and that is what the community needs to do in USA: We need to serve everyone without any discrimination.

M.J. mentioned about one internal challenge the Muslim Community is facing and that is the Youth in the community need good guidance and should not fall to misinformation of the extremists, who have capability of sending their message inside USA using various new technology and media. “Muslim Youth need to follow the middle path specified by God and His Messenger Mohammad and avoid any extremist inclinations. Allah SWT in Quran clearly has stipulated that if someone saves a life, it is as if he or she has saved the whole humanity; while if someone kills one innocent person, it is as if he or she has killed the whole humanity.”

At the same time, M. J. Khan mentioned that one of the biggest external challenges the Muslim Community has to face is the false propaganda of few that wrongly attribute violence with Islam. “If Muslim Community is openly involved in what Islam has asked us to do and that is we have to be at the forefront of the public service, we can take care of this tirade of propaganda. We may be students in schools & colleges; entrepreneurs; professionals; politicians; and so on: Our main task in life is to serve the humanity,” said M. J. Khan.

12-3

1st Annual IONA Islam Conference

January 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

Warren–January 2–IONA held its first annual Islam conference this past Saturday evening at IONA. 

Two speakers were invited to the event, Imam Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR Michigan, and Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a Muslim activist from Oakland California.

They both spoke on secularism and American democracy, Dawud Walif focusing on how American democracy and history includes elements of Islam, and Ali focusing instead on distinctions and points of conflict between the Islamic and Western worlds and world views.

Both focused on Islam as a non-religion, which may be a thesis that most people would disagree with.  The underlying argument is that Muslims must be involved in political life, because Islam is a “deen” which both speakers translated ast “way of life,” rather than as “religion.”

As a first such event from IONA, it was interesting that the underlying message echoed the previous speech at the center by a non-Muslim proponent of the thesis that Islam is not a religion, rather a kind of political awakening movement, Prof. Robert Shedinger (who spoke there on October 24th of 2009, reported on in TMO V11-I45).  Shedinger argues that Jesus was Muslim, as a corollary to his argument that Islam is not a religion. 

Shedinger’s companion argument is that the effort to define Islam as a religion rather than a way of life was imposed by non-Muslims in an effort to stem the efforts of Muslims to be politically involved, for example in combating colonialism.

It is surprising that the radical idea of Islam’s being just another worldly movement is gaining among Muslims, but apparently the IONA conference documents the spread of this idea.

12-2

Compassion Changed Robber’s Life

December 10, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Evan Buxbaum, CNN

Mohammad Sohail
Long Island Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail

December 3, 2009 http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/03/convenience.store.compassion/index.html

Shopkeeper Mohammad Sohail says he recited an Islamic oath over the would-be robber after he broke into sobs.

New York (CNN) — Six months ago, a Long Island convenience store owner turned a would-be robbery into an act of compassion. On Wednesday, the shoplifter made amends with a $50 bill and a thank you letter for saving him from a life of crime.

The story began in May 2009, when Mohammad Sohail of Shirley, New York, was closing his Shirley Express convenience store one night. Security camera footage from that evening shows a man wielding a baseball bat barging into the store and demanding money.

Sohail had a rifle ready and quickly aimed it directly in the robber’s face, forcing the man to drop the bat and lay on the ground. Unbeknownst to the man, Sohail never loads his gun.

According to Sohail, the man immediately started to plead with him, tearfully saying, “I’m sorry, I have no food. I have no money. My whole family is hungry. Don’t call the police. Don’t shoot me.”

“When I see him starting crying [those] things, I really feel bad for him,” said Sohail. “I say, oh man, this is something different.”

Sohail made the man pledge never to rob anybody ever again, then gave the man $40 and a loaf bread. Sohail, who is from Pakistan, said the man then wanted to be a Muslim like him, so he recited an Islamic oath and gave the would-be robber the name Nawaz Sharif Zardari.

Sohail went to get some milk, but when he returned the man had fled with the money and food.

Both Mohammad Sohail and Suffolk County Police have no idea who the man is. After the May incident, Sohail explained that he will “absolutely not” be pressing charges, though police are still investigating the case.

Over the past six months, Sohail’s story of sympathy and kindness has inspired many across the country.

The Shirley Express store has received numerous letters of admiration. “No person has ever moved my spirit the way you did. From your biggest admirer,” one letter says. “Great men are capable of great acts. You are a great American,” another reads.

He has also received several checks with such messages for “a couple hundred dollars” in total, says Sohail. He has made a point to give this money “to the people” by offering free bagels, rolls and coffee in his store every night after 9 o’clock.

But the envelope that arrived on Wednesday came as a surprise. Postmarked November 11 without a return address, it enclosed a $50 bill and a note apparently from the would-be robber.

The typed letter begins, “You change My Life (sic),” and goes on to say that the man is sorry for his actions six months ago.

“At the time I had No money No food on my table No Job, and nothing for my family. I know that it was wrong, but I had know (sic) choice. I needed to feed My family. When You had That gun to my head I was 100% that I was going to die,” reads the letter.

The letter says Sohail’s acts inspired him to become a “True Muslim” and that his life has changed dramatically.

“I’m very happy that somebody got to change his life,” Sohail said. “If he is a maybe criminal, maybe is not anymore. So now he is a good person in this community and I’m very glad for that. He’s staying out of trouble, he’s not in a jail, he’s taking care of his family.”

But the letter-writer said he actually did convert, “decided to become a true Muslim,” and turned his life around after Sohail, 47, spared his life.

The letter was signed in type: “Your Muslim Brother.”

“That’s the same guy I gave $40 to,” said Sohail, 62, displaying the typewritten letter at his Shirley Express deli yesterday. There was no return address. It was mailed on Long Island the week before Thanksgiving.

“I’m really thrilled,” said Sohail. “I’m very happy for that guy, because he is now doing good for the community.

“He has a job and he is a good person. I really feel great. Thank God he’s doing good. He’s got a new baby and he’s not in jail,” said Sohail.

11-51

Iraqi Widows Marry to Feed Kids

November 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Afif Sarhan, Uruknet

iraq-widow BAGHDAD – Haifa Ahmed Mua’alim, 32, is going to tie the knot in a couple of weeks.

She is marrying a man recommended by her sister-in-law to help feed her two orphan children of a previous marriage.

The young woman lost her husband, the love of her life, two years ago to the violence that has been plaguing her country since the 2003 US invasion.

“When he died I decided never to marry again. We had a stable and lovely relation,” she recalled tearfully.

For the past two years Haifa has been struggling to feed her kids, spending every penny they once had.

But without work or help from any one, she is accepting to remarry at the advice of her deceased husband’s sister.

“I’m being forced to change my mind in exchange for a better life for my sons.”

Haifa only saw the future husband once and never spoke with him, insisting it’s a marriage of convenience for both of them.

“My sister-in-law told me that he also lost his wife and he is a good man who carries four children in his baggage,” she said.

“Maybe it is too precipitated and latter on, I might regret, however, it is better to take care of six children than see your two sons hungry and unable to go to school,” Haifa reasoned.

“I’m glad to find someone willing to take care of them but being happy is another issue that I prefer to keep for my own.”

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs estimates there are nearly two million widows and five times kids living without fathers in the country.

“Widows are a serious case in Iraq. Our ministry is trying to help but the lack of proper budget is seriously affecting our work,” said a senior officer, requesting anonymity for not being allowed to speak to the press.

“More widows will be added to this group and to help them the parliament should focus on their problem, create enough conditions for them to work and feed their children.”

Debate

Haifa represents a new trend in Iraq which is encouraged by religious leaders who have been advising single and widower men to marry widows as a way to help them.

“Those women are victims of the violence in our country,” Sheikh Abdul-Kareem Rafel, a religious leader at Sadr City, told IOL.

“The government isn’t offering them enough help to raise their kids alone and advising Iraqis to marry them is a nice way to prevent millions of kids from being raised without a father and prevent women from becoming prostitutes to support them.”

Rana Lattif, a local woman activist, opposes such second marriage arrangements.

“Instead of encouraging women to remarry, we have to force the government to help them, offer stable living conditions and open job places as the majority became widows because of the unfair war in the country,” she told IOL.

“Of course there are women who prefer to be in such unacceptable situation but they are few and the majority is marrying again because it was the only choice found,” she contends.

“If the government takes responsibility towards them, I’m sure this number would decrease impressively.”

Sara al-Azza, a member of a charity that has nearly 1,200 widows registered with more than half willing to remarry, disagrees.

“We cannot keep waiting for the government to take an action,” she told IOL.

“The women come to us after deciding to remarry and what we do is just look for men who have a good background, true good intentions and are able to support her family,” she explains.

“No one is forced to marry but we have made many arrangements with the both sides happy to start a new life together.

“Since we started working on this issue, we never had a complaint from any of the parties. It is a serious matter and we are happy to help.”

Rhim Abdel-Rassoul Rabia’a, a 41-yrea-old mother of three who lost her husband three years in a Baghdad bomb attack, is waiting for a second husband.

“After years of looking for a job, I got desperate and that’s why I started looking for a second marriage even though that was the last thing I would like to do,” she told IOL.

“I was told that women over 40 take more time to find a husband but this is my only hope. I just want a man to look after me and my kids, even if I marry without love.”

Rhim says when she was a young girl she dreamed of a life of happiness, studying and working to become someone important in life.

“I know that none of my dreams can come true but at least I can help my kids become able to support themselves without the need to remarry for that.”

11-46

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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Carter Fasts with Gazans

September 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Carter, Religious Jews Fast With Gaza

Palestine Chronicle

jimmycarter

Former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife fasted in solidarity with the people of the Gaza Strip who are living under siege.

About going without for day Carter laughed it off and said, “I didn’t miss the food at all, but I missed water.”

He said, “I spent all day thinking of the people of Gaza and the harsh conditions of life imposed on them by the embargo.” The former US President said that he prayed for the Palestinians of Gaza while fasting for the first time in his more than 80 years of life.

Jimmy Carter said that he had received a call from Khahamat religious Jews in the United States who told him that they had already begun fasting once a week in solidarity with Gaza and its people, and asked him to join them, but he and his wife decided that they would do so alone and already had started to do so.

Carter’s speech came during iftar, the evening meal, held at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah. It included members of the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, and a number of Palestinian intellectuals, businessmen and representatives of civil society institutions.

During the meal to break the day’s Ramadan fast, the group exchanged views. Desmond Tutu said, “I’ve heard many Palestinian and Israeli youth. I have heard things that are very impressive, but I felt the presence of hope in spite of the occupation and the suffering of the Palestinians that it causes, which is very important.”

Speaking of politics, Carter said, “We must not forget that all the Israeli settlements to the east of the Green Line are illegal, how can you talk about a settlement freeze” in a clear reference to what is being talked about these days from the current US administration led by Obama.

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Musings–The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Note:  This article is part of a CD series.  Write for more information.

First of all you should know that when we say “Rich” we’re not simply talking about material or monetary richness.  Finance is certainly a part of it, but richness comes in many forms.  You can be “rich” if you only make $150 a week – and you can be a multi-millionaire and be the “poorest” of the poor.  You are “rich” when you have a balanced life brought on by a balanced lifestyle.  This balanced lifestyle begins with the belief in ALLAH, His Messenger… and prayer.

Of course, having ample finances to take care of your necessities plus a few luxuries, goes a long way to making one happy.  You cannot be happy and fulfilled if you don’t have enough food to eat or clothes to wear or a comfortable place to lay your head.  This is one of the main reasons that poor areas have more despair, stress, lawlessness, and family and societal breakdown.

This is not to say these things don’t exist in affluent neighborhoods.  They do.  But the proportion of despair in poor neighborhoods far exceeds that in richer areas.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a psychiatrist to understand that if a person grows up looking at broken bottles and empty boarded up houses everyday, he or she will not be as productive as those who grow up looking at and utilizing wealth.

However, ALLAH says if you follow some simple rules, you will be “Rich” enough to be happy in peaceful, productive surroundings.

First let us look at ZAKAT.  Prayer and zakat are two of the most often repeated dictates of ALLAH.  He puts so much emphasis on it that He has given an example of what you get back by charitable giving.  He says charity is like giving a grain of corn and each grain grows seven ears and each ear has another hundred grains.  Now add that up and see what your reward is.  I must warn you – you’ll need a mighty bi calculator.

This principle of giving is for everybody – not just “affluent Muslims.  ALLAH says for the believers (rich and poor) to pay zakat.  Some people who don’t have much money think they are exempt from giving.  This is not true and may very well be the reason they are in need.  If you only have a dollar and you give five cents, ALLAH will multiply what you gave.

The next key for getting “Rich” is saving a portion of what you have.  Again, it is irrelevant as to how much you have.  If you only make $150.00 a week, save some of it before you start spending.  First give charity and then, pay yourself.  This savings is not to be touched for anything except a dire emergency.  (And an emergency does not mean running out and buying that good looking coat you saw in the paper.)  Saving will make you independent.  You can rely on yourself for emergencies and needs rather than rely on the generosities of other people.

This is sensible living and allows you to live a life “Rich” in value, “Rich” in productivity and eventually “Rich” in finances – or at least being able to live comfortably and happy.  This is the type of life ALLAH wants us to live.  It’s the very reason He sent His message and Messenger to us.

Too many Muslims do not key in on the simple, but powerful benefits of obeying ALLAH.  But in case you don’t realize it, it’s the way to a perfect life.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin The Qur’an Can Advance You to “Riches”
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Houstonian Corner (V11-I34)

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Inspiring Graduation Party Of Aisha Khan: The Salutatorian From MCHS

Picture G A Grand Graduation Party was organized by the parents of Alsha Khan, daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan of Pakistan Chronicle / Pakistan Journal at Taj Hall.

Famous social, entrepreneurial and media personality of town Shamshad Wali, P.E. was the program coordinator of the event and motivated everyone present to excel in their field of expertise and education.

The evening was very inspiring, as brother and father of Alsha Khan gave accounts of her life and several of her class friends from various communities were present. Alsha gave a nice presentation to inspire everyone to excel in whatever one does in life and try to be among the top achievers.

On this occasion, Alsha Khan received Proclamations from the Congressional Office of Hon. AL Green and City Councilperson M. J. Khan, as well as Special Plaques from the hands of Khalid Khan President of the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) and Azam Akhtar & Ghulam Chisti of Karachi University Alumni.

Alsha Khan is moving forward in life with Biology as her Major in Pre-Med college studies at the University of Texas, with clear vision to become a Surgeon. She informed: “My motto in life is what I have learnt from Messenger Muhammad (PBUh) that seek education from cradle to grave. I am indebted especially to my parents and then to my relatives and friends, who have always encouraged me to excel. It is important for the Youth to listen to their parents as they have prudence and it is very fulfilling to achieve something and make our parents feel proud. It is indeed a happy feeling that all the hard work has paid off,” said a grateful Alsha Khan.

Mayde Creek High School (MCHS), a public high school located in unincorporated Harris County, Texas and is part of the Katy Independent School District, has produced several stars since its inception in 1984. One of them has been this year. Alsha Khan (18), daughter of Tariq Nehal Khan and Nasrin Khan, is the 2009 Senior Class Salutatorian from MCHS with a GPA of 4.7368.

People may ask: What is a Salutatorian? Just as information; Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, was ranked Salutatorian at Whitney Young High School, Illinois, Class of 1981). This is actually an academic title given, in the United States and Canada, to the second highest graduate of the entire graduating class of an educational institution. This honor is traditionally based on grades along with grade point average (GPA), but consideration is also sometimes often given to other factors such as extracurricular activities. The title comes from the salutatorian’s traditional role as the first speaker at a graduation ceremony, delivering the salutatory. The general themes of a salutatory are usually always of growth, outlook toward the future, and thankfulness.

Alsha Khan has received Baylor Presidential Gold Scholarship ($44,000) and the Top Ten Percent Scholarship ($1,000). She has been excellent at all Math and Science subjects and is the President of Math / Science Academy. She is also Vice President of Muslim Student Union and Treasurer of the Key Club.

Alsha’s success lies in proper goal setting; have an appropriate game plan and dedication to achieve the goals and be part of both the studies and the society around her through volunteering. She is an active member of the mosque and immensely assists her dad with the newspaper publication (Pakistan Chronicle).

First Event Of The Helping Hand For Relief & Development In The D-FW Region

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Garland, Texas: At the beautiful Garland Special Events Center, one of the leading international humanitarian organizations Helping Hand For Relief & Development (HHRD) arranged their first event in the D-FW area. Famous Scholar from India Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi and Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez from Michigan spoke at the program.

Due to not getting the final clearance from US State Department, famous Pakistani Nasheed Presenter Junaid Jamshed Khan could not attend the program, but sent a special recorded DVD Message and Nasheed for the attendees, which was quite moving and much appreciated by everyone.

Flagship project of HHRD is the Worldwide Orphan Support Program (OSP). About that, a special DVD Documentary was presented. Other HHRD projects include Health & Education Projects; Water For Life Projects; Emergency Recuperation Programs and much more. Recently HHRD Country Office in Pakistan received a Grant of $3.03 Million from the World Food Programme to distribute food to the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan. Also HHRD Pakistan has received a Grant of $130,000 from World Health Organization to establish Two Child-&-Mother Care Center in Pakistan.

Presently HHRD is involved in Recuperation and Rehabilitation of the IDPs in various areas of NWFP Pakistan.

Sheikh Mohammad Yousuf Islahi said world is waiting for someone to show them the path to harmony and serenity, which can be shown only by the Muslims, who have the divine medicine (which is not altered) from Creator of the Worlds God (Allah SWT): Only thing is that Muslims need to show this by action and not words.
Dr. Farhan Abdul Azeez conducted a fundraiser, where about $28,000 were received. Everyone promised to introduce HHRD to others in the community and some administrators from the community organizations pledged further support for HHRD in years to come.

For more information on HHRD projects, one can visit www.HHUSA.Org

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