Ramadan: Raising Spiritual and Financial Stocks?

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Fahad Faruqui

640x392_98063_158488Stock returns are nine times greater during Ramadan than the rest of the year, a recent study says. While I knew about the rise in spiritual stock and inner revolution that can result from abstinence and purification of the soul, the upside to a financial portfolio was news to me. It’s an intriguing way to balance faith and worldly affairs — it seems fasting pays dividends of all kinds.

“Ramadan is part of the Muslim culture of resistance to the mindless consumerism of our time,” Abdal Hakim Murad, a Muslim scholar and lecturer at Cambridge University, wrote to me in response to my question about the true meaning of Ramadan. “Only by a tough discipline of self-control can we learn detachment, thus experiencing inner calm, and challenge the ideology of greed which is threatening the planet.”

This got me thinking. In addition to causing stock rallies, Ramadan is mostly a month of internal battle against the desires of flesh. For me, abstaining from my usual dose of morning coffee is one of the many challenges I face. Fasting is not as simple as not eating and drinking from dawn to dusk — the practice helps break away from the enslavement of habit-forming vices.
Strengthening the will to abstain from what’s lawful during the month of Ramadan can be a precursor to being steadfast in refraining from what’s forbidden throughout the year. The effect of fasting on mind and soul varies, and it depends on one’s sense of purpose. A prominent scholar of Islam, Faraz Rabbani, made an interesting observation: “Some fast for God. Some fast because it is good. Others fast for the joy of breaking their fast. (Then, they indulge…).”

For those who understand fasting as a form of starvation, sundown is the time for indulgence. My journey through Ramadan and its meaning has changed over the years. The more I have thought through the reasons why I fast, the more I have come to see that the act of giving up morsel is a process of spiritual purification. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of purification of soul until I meditated on the nature of nafs (lower “self”) and its numerous manifestations. Now, the challenge is to reign over the desires that disconnect the “seeker” from the Divine.

This battle with nafs will continue until my cadaver is cold, but Ramadan is yet another opportunity to polish the soul. Besides my coffee dependency, hierarchy of wants and search for profitable stocks (pun intended), there are questions that I need to answer through meditation during Ramadan: Will I forgive those who wronged me and make amends to those I have wronged? Will I covet material things or be content with what I have? Will I restrain my glance from bodily allure? And, more importantly, will I help the needy, like the Pakistan flood victims, or cling to every dollar I have?

Reading the Parable of the Old Man and the Sock by Irving Karchmar, a dervish and novelist, made me reflect (once again) on the ephemeralness of life. It tells the story of a wealthy man who instructs his son to put a sock on his dead body, knowing the preparations for Islamic burial doesn’t allow more than a white shroud. The father wanted the son to learn a lesson that one should remember at all times: We come to this world alone and we depart alone, leaving behind each and every material thing we strive for, taking with us only the stock of deeds.

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Houstonian Corner (V12-I17)

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Stronger Darul Arqam School means Durable Future of the Community

Picture AAD

“There is a famous saying it takes a village to educate someone. Why it takes a village to educate someone? Because in order to gain knowledge and training over time, there is immense need of resources. And why village needs to take interest in education its population. Because a progressing, resourceful, enlightened and prosperous village is dependent of how we educated and knowledgeable its inhabitants are.” These were the basic feelings of several speakers at Darul Arqam Private School (North) Fundraising Dinner held at Marriott Greenspoint North Houston this past weekend. Emcee of the evening was one of the parents of student of the Darul Arqam School North Houston Wasif Khan. Present on the occasion were Shaikh Moustafa Mahmoud (Scholar of Islam and Imam of ISGH North Zone Masjid); Dr. Aziz Siddiqi President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH); Roger Yelton Director of North Zone ISGH; Ibrahim Badat Associate Director Adel Road North Zone; prominent members of the community; and administrative & teaching staff of the school.

Darul Arqam North is the only Islamic accredited school in North part of Houston. It is a full time Islamic School offering classes from Pre K to High school. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

Some of the speakers at the fundraiser included the first Superintendent for Darul Arqam School Dr. Shaikh Ahmad and Esteemed Principal Saboohi Adhami, who in a most enthusiastic presentation notified that Darul Arqam’s idea is not to just give a piece of credential to their students; their task is to give proper identity and direction about life to each and every student, so that they become role models for the community and society at large. Amidst applause, Ms. Saboohi Adhami informed about that with over 90% of students meeting the criteria of TAKS tests, Darul Arqam School (North) has achieved the coveted Exemplary School status. Over the past five years, Darul Arqam School North has also achieved excellent standings at the Islamic knowledge, literary and creative arts categories regional and national championship in the annual Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST). Darul Arqam North has finished among the top in the past five years in the annual city-wide Islamic School Quranic Memorization/Recitation competition in 2007.

Ms. Saboohi Adhami said over the years, people have come with several excuses and points against the Islamic Schools; but By the Grace of God and dedicated efforts by Administrators, Teachers, Parents and Students, we are able to point out to real examples of high standards achieved by students of Darul Arqam School in Grades up till High School & MIST Competition (where public and private all schools compete) and also dispelled the myth that beyond the High School, Islamic School students will feel left out when they will enter Mainstream American Colleges and Universities, but all that has been proven wrong by several shining examples (some of those confident students like Ayesha Patel and Sara Dar made short presentations at the fundraiser as well).

Facilitator for the fundraising on the occasion was passionate speaker Imam Manzar Taleb of North Texas, who informed about history of Darul Arqam, saying Hadhrat Arqam (18) in Mecca accepted Islam on the hands of Hadhrat Mohammad (Peace & Blessings of Allah SWT Be Upon him – PBUh). He had a vision and donated his whole home to Messenger of Allah SWT so that Muslims could get educated over there every day and that was the first School of Messenger Mohammad called “Darul Arqam”. Centuries later few Muslims in Houston came with an insane idea of making Islamic School in USA and named it the same Darul Arqam. People within the community and outside the community came with several negative thoughts, but the visionaries persisted and today we have this realty of four campuses of Darul Arqam in Houston and growing.

“Just don’t be only dreamers: With hard work and dedication comes Blessings of Allah SWT and achievements: Be an Achiever,” added Imam Manzar Taleb. More than $120,000 was raised By the Grace of God.

Elementary and Middle School Students were asked to create Scientific Projects’ for the evening and the Judge of these various science projects was Engineer Kaleem Khan, an able project manager with a prominent engineering company in Houston. Following students got the awards:

Elementary School: First Maryam Beyabani; Second Akrum Alameldin; Third Saman Ansari; Fourth Yusuf Sham; Middle School: First Ceyda Kural; Second Zaynab Khalifa; Third Saddiya Badat; Fourth Jowanna Siddiqui…

For more information, giving your kind support to this school of excellence and enrolling your children for August 2010 – May 2011 School Year, please visit http://www.north.darularqamschools.org/

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Nathan Brown: Arab Democratic Movements

September 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Today is a hot (unusually muggy day from a hurricane a [thousand miles south] off the Pacific Coast of Mexico).  I am looking back to  a discussion documented in my notebooks in Berkeley with Nathan Brown and Mohammed Hafez–Brown is not Muslim, but he is a great scholar of Islam.  Professor Brown spoke to those present on understanding Islamicist politics and their electoral opposition to the often corrupt parties in power in their nation states.

Islamist Arab Parties – especially in Egypt – have had great successes in elections, but they almost never win. 

Mainstream “democracy” is manipulated by Arab leaders.  This is why Islamist Parties mostly refuse to take part in elections and often react violently by resisting against their rulers and their pseudo-“Parliaments.”  On the other hand, examples can be had in the victory of the Islamic Parties in Algeria which the Party in power refused to  recognize the results leading to a protracted civil war.  Another instance can be found in the Gaza 2006 election that Jimmy Carter and his observation team described as the fairest that they had ever witnessed, but both Israel and the United States and Egypt refused to recognize! 

Outside the Islamic world political Islamicism is equated with Nazism, but “It is more like [European] ‘Christian’ Democracy in that it, too, makes a religious reference to its politics.”  The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Be prepared!” which resonates from the Koran itself, and is on the visual crest of the Party.  The Brotherhood began as a secular movement to help individuals to become better Muslims, but later its philosophy flowed into politics.

Dr. Brown maintained that “Elections in the Middle East have predicable results, but uncertain rules.”  For the most part they are designed for the government to win.  Those Islamists who contend find it  advantageous for them (see my article on Da’wa and Democratic Politics in a back issue of this  publication) although they are “not recognized as a full political party” by the establishment.  Yet they are able to weather a harsh political climate. 

They are “highly ideological, and enforce their principles;” so, that they “will not rupture into discordant fissures although debate and schism has arisen over minute issues.”

Hard decisions have to be made over elections.  Elections can raise the primacy of politics over religion which is always a concern amongst devout people.

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