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The Gitmo Guard Who Converted to Islam

guantanamoguard_in01_vl-verticalTaken from Newsweek

The Guard Who Found Islam
Terry Holdbrooks stood watch over prisoners at Gitmo. What he saw made him adopt their faith.

Dan Ephron
NEWSWEEK
From the magazine issue dated Mar 30, 2009

Army specialist Terry Holdbrooks had been a guard at Guantánamo for about six months the night he had his life-altering conversation with detainee 590, a Moroccan also known as “the General.” This was early 2004, about halfway through Holdbrooks's stint at Guantánamo with the 463rd Military Police Company. Until then, he'd spent most of his day shifts just doing his duty. He'd escort prisoners to interrogations or walk up and down the cellblock making sure they weren't passing notes. But the midnight shifts were slow. “The only thing you really had to do was mop the center floor,” he says. So Holdbrooks began spending part of the night sitting cross-legged on the ground, talking to detainees through the metal mesh of their cell doors.

He developed a strong relationship with the General, whose real name is Ahmed Errachidi. Their late-night conversations led Holdbrooks to be more skeptical about the prison, he says, and made him think harder about his own life. Soon, Holdbrooks was ordering books on Arabic and Islam. During an evening talk with Errachidi in early 2004, the conversation turned to theshahada, the one-line statement of faith that marks the single requirement for converting to Islam (“There is no God but God and Muḥammad is his prophet”). Holdbrooks pushed a pen and an index card through the mesh, and asked Errachidi to write out the shahada in English and transliterated Arabic. He then uttered the words aloud and, there on the floor of Guantánamo's Camp Delta, became a Muslim.

When historians look back on Guantánamo, the harsh treatment of detainees and the trampling of due process will likely dominate the narrative. Holdbrooks, who left the military in 2005, saw his share. In interviews over recent weeks, he and another former guard told NEWSWEEK about degrading and sometimes sadistic acts against prisoners committed by soldiers, medics and interrogators who wanted revenge for the 9/11 attacks on America. But as the fog of secrecy slowly lifts from Guantánamo, other scenes are starting to emerge as well, including surprising interactions between guards and detainees on subjects like politics, religion and even music. The exchanges reveal curiosity on both sides-sometimes even empathy. “The detainees used to have conversations with the guards who showed some common respect toward them,” says Errachidi, who spent five years in Guantánamo and was released in 2007. “We talked about everything, normal things, and things [we had] in common,” he wrote to NEWSWEEK in an e-mail from his home in Morocco.

Holdbrooks's level of identification with the other side was exceptional. No other guard has volunteered that he embraced Islam at the prison (though Errachidi says others expressed interest). His experience runs counter to academic studies, which show that guards and inmates at ordinary prisons tend to develop mutual hostility. But then, Holdbrooks is a contrarian by nature. He can also be conspiratorial. When his company visited the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Holdbrooks remembers thinking there had to be a broader explanation, and that the Bush administration must have colluded somehow in the plot.

But his misgivings about Guantánamo-including doubts that the detainees were the “worst of the worst”-were shared by other guards as early as 2002. A few such guards are coming forward for the first time. Specialist Brandon Neely, who was at Guantánamo when the first detainees arrived that year, says his enthusiasm for the mission soured quickly. “There were a couple of us guards who asked ourselves why these guys are being treated so badly and if they're actually terrorists at all,” he told NEWSWEEK. Neely remembers having long conversations with detainee Ruhal Ahmed, who loved Eminem and James Bond and would often rap or sing to the other prisoners. Another former guard, Christopher Arendt, went on a speaking tour with former detainees in Europe earlier this year to talk critically about the prison.

Holdbrooks says growing up hard in Phoenix-his parents were junkies and he himself was a heavy drinker before joining the military in 2002-helps explain what he calls his “anti-everything views.” He has holes the size of quarters in both earlobes, stretched-out piercings that he plugs with wooden discs. At his Phoenix apartment, bedecked with horror-film memorabilia, he rolls up both sleeves to reveal wrist-to-shoulder tattoos. He describes the ink work as a narrative of his mistakes and addictions. They include religious symbols and Nazi SS bolts, track marks and, in large letters, the words BY DEMONS BE DRIVEN. He says the line, from a heavy-metal song, reminds him to be a better person.

Holdbrooks-TJ to his friends-says he joined the military to avoid winding up like his parents. He was an impulsive young man searching for stability. On his first home leave, he got engaged to a woman he'd known for just eight days and married her three months later. With little prior exposure to religion, Holdbrooks was struck at Gitmo by the devotion detainees showed to their faith. “A lot of Americans have abandoned God, but even in this place, [the detainees] were determined to pray,” he says.

Holdbrooks was also taken by the prisoners' resourcefulness. He says detainees would pluck individual threads from their jumpsuits or prayer mats and spin them into long stretches of twine, which they would use to pass notes from cell to cell. He noticed that one detainee with a bad skin rash would smear peanut butter on his windowsill until the oil separated from the paste, then would use the oil on his rash.

Errachidi's detention seemed particularly suspect to Holdbrooks. The Moroccan detainee had worked as a chef in Britain for almost 18 years and spoke fluent English. He told Holdbrooks he had traveled to Pakistan on a business venture in late September 2001 to help pay for his son's surgery. When he crossed into Afghanistan, he said, he was picked up by the Northern Alliance and sold to American troops for $5,000. At Guantánamo, Errachidi was accused of attending a Qaeda training camp. But a 2007 investigation by the London Times newspaper appears to have corroborated his story; it eventually helped lead to his release.

In prison, Errachidi was an agitator. “Because I spoke English, I was always in the face of the soldiers,” he wrote NEWSWEEK in an e-mail. Errachidi said an American colonel at Guantánamo gave him his nickname, and warned him that generals “get hurt” if they don't cooperate. He said his defiance cost him 23 days of abuse, including sleep deprivation, exposure to very cold temperatures and being shackled in stress positions. “I always believed the soldiers were doing illegal stuff and I was not ready to keep quiet.” (Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said in response: “Detainees have often made claims of abuse that are simply not supported by the facts.”) The Moroccan spent four of his five years at Gitmo in the punishment block, where detainees were denied “comfort items” like paper and prayer beads along with access to the recreation yard and the library.

Errachidi says he does not remember details of the night Holdbrooks converted. Over the years, he says, he discussed a range of religious topics with guards: “I spoke to them about subjects like Father Christmas and Ishac and Ibrahim [Isaac and Abraham] and the sacrifice. About Jesus.” Holdbrooks recalls that when he announced he wanted to embrace Islam, Errachidi warned him that converting would be a serious undertaking and, at Guantánamo, a messy affair. “He wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into.” Holdbrooks later told his two roommates about the conversion, and no one else.

But other guards noticed changes in him. They heard detainees calling him Mustapha, and saw that Holdbrooks was studying Arabic openly. (At his Phoenix apartment, he displays the books he had amassed. They include a leather-bound, six-volume set of Muslim sacred texts and “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam.”) One night his squad leader took him to a yard behind his living quarters, where five guards were waiting to stage a kind of intervention. “They started yelling at me,” he recalls, “asking if I was a traitor, if I was switching sides.” At one point a squad leader pulled back his fist and the two men traded blows, Holdbrooks says.

Holdbrooks spent the rest of his time at Guantánamo mainly keeping to himself, and nobody bothered him further. Another Muslim who served there around the same time had a different experience. Capt. James Yee, a Gitmo chaplain for much of 2003, was arrested in September of that year on suspicion of aiding the enemy and other crimes-charges that were eventually dropped. Yee had become a Muslim years earlier. He says the Muslims on staff at Gitmo-mainly translators-often felt beleaguered. “There was an overall atmosphere by the command to vilify Islam.” (Commander Gordon's response: “We strongly disagree with the assertions made by Chaplain Yee”).

At Holdbrooks's next station, in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he says things began to unravel. The only place to kill time within miles of the base was a Wal-Mart and two strip clubs-Big Daddy's and Big Louie's. “I've never been a fan of strip clubs, so I hung out at Wal-Mart,” he says. Within months, Holdbrooks was released from the military-two years before the end of his commitment. The Army gave him an honorable discharge with no explanation, but the events at Gitmo seemed to loom over the decision. The Army said it would not comment on the matter.

Back in Phoenix, Holdbrooks returned to drinking, in part to suppress what he describes as the anger that consumed him. (Neely, the other ex-guard who spoke to NEWSWEEK, said Guantánamo had made him so depressed he spent up to $60 a day on alcohol during a monthlong leave from the detention center in 2002.) Holdbrooks divorced his wife and spiraled further. Eventually his addictions landed him in the hospital. He suffered a series of seizures, as well as a fall that resulted in a bad skull fracture and the insertion of a titanium plate in his head.

Recently, Holdbrooks has been back in touch with Errachidi, who has suffered his own ordeal since leaving the detention center. Errachidi told NEWSWEEK he had trouble adjusting to his freedom, “trying to learn how to walk without shackles and trying to sleep at night with the lights off.” He signed each of the dozen e-mails he sent to NEWSWEEK with the impersonal ID that his captors had given him: Ahmed 590.

Holdbrooks, now 25, says he quit drinking three months ago and began attending regular prayers at the Tempe Islamic Center, a mosque near the University of Phoenix, where he works as an enrollment counselor. The long scar on his head is now mostly hidden under the lace of his Muslim kufi cap. When the imām at Tempe introduced Holdbrooks to the congregation and explained he'd converted at Guantánamo, a few dozen worshipers rushed over to shake his hand. “I would have thought they had the most savage soldiers serving there,” says the imām, Amr Elsamny, an Egyptian. “I never thought it would be someone like TJ.”

With Dina Fine Maron in Washington

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/190357

About ibnabeeomar

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow him on Google+ or on Twitter @ibnabeeomar.

105 comments

  1. SubhanAllah.

    Even in a hellhole like Gitmo, the light of Islam shines through. Kudos to this guy for making such a courageous decision. May Allah guide others like him to the deen as well.

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  2. Allah guides whomever He wants!

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  3. May Allah (swt) keep him steadfast upon Islam, ameen.

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  4. Masha’Allah, tabarakAllah
    Inspiring.

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  5. SubhanAllah!

    This is the masjid that I attend with my family, and I remember the day that Imam Amr introduced this brother to the community a couple Fridays ago.

    A very touching story, masha’Allah. “he who Allah guides is the one rightly-guided” indeed.

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  6. MashAllah!

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story!

    May Allah continue to guide this brother and help him with his struggles as a new Muslim. AllahuAkbar!

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  7. SubhanAllahu wa Allahu Akbar… i wonder how many of us would have analysed ourselves, our lives, and reverted to Islam if we weren’t born Muslims. We take our being muslim so much for granted. May Allah make us better muslims, and erase our sins and may we earn atleast enough thawaab to make Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’Ala forgive us our sins and permit us to enter Jannah in His infinite mercy.

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  8. MaashaAllaah tabarakAllaah. BarakAllaahu feek for sharing this story.

    May Allah ta’ala keep him steadfast upon Islaam. Ameen.

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  9. Why are you celebrating this man’s conversion?

    He is clearly a troubled man, he had a troubled past, and he is still troubled.

    For one he thinks that Bush was a co conspirator on 9/11, that is absolute rubbish, Bush is a criminal and he mislead the public on Iraq and should be charged with treason, but he had nothing to do with 9/11.

    The article clearly states he feel back into heavy drinking after he converted and was discharged. Is that the model Muslim?

    Why does a White Man’s conversion please you so much? Do you really have that low self esteem.

    Why don’t we build a our community first, rather then being pleased that a troubled soul converted to Islam, lapsed from it, and will probably apostate in a few years.

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    • Brother , I myself am a convert of Bahamian American(black) origin. I believe that Bush had something to do with 911, and if you read the statement carefully it doesn’t say that this is his current belief rather it says it was something he thought about. But I guess that makes me distubed for thinking that even though the Quran told us when a fasiq brings you news to verify it first. Bush’s Administation qualifies as worst than fasiquun rather they are kafiruun. Does this man have a troubled past? Yes, but does that mean He is still troubled? I don’t get that from the story. Maybe three months away from alcohol is not enough for you but it is a good start and only Allah knows the end of it. His being white is not a factor in the joy felt by the believers regarding his conversion. I am delighted because for someone so far away from the truth, that he actually participated in the atrocities against it, to be guided is a testament in and of itself. He is like Umar somewhat. Insha-Allah He will not apostate from Islam and we owe it to him to encourage that he holds steadfast to this deen. I took shahadah in 1996 and didn’t change my lifestyle (ie stop drinking and etc.) until 1999, By Allah I know many people who have known me for years and either find it hard to believe that I was a non-muslim or how far in jahiliyah I was before I came to Islam. The final note is this lets just try to be a lil more optimistic.

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  10. I apologize in advance for the somewhat long comment – I suddenly find myself with a lot to say, all spurred by this article.

    Stories like this greatly inform my own spiritual seeking. Though practically an atheist for a long time (I was raised Christian and can be considered nominally Greek Orthodox, but I haven’t felt close to or cared for by God in many years and so have largely gone my own way though shaped by my early religious belief), I am fascinated by conversion stories like Holdbrooks’. I minored in religion in university (perhaps ironic for an atheist), and read much on religious experience and what drives a person to convert.

    I wish I had taken more classes on Islam, having only recently started investigating thanks to the generally favorable portrayal of Muslims in the film Kingdom of Heaven. I was fortunate to catch it on cable a few months ago. Even though it was of course heavily fictionalized, it made me begin re-evaluating what I thought I knew about Islam.

    Like Holdbrook, I found much that is admirable. Indeed, I am reconsidering the existence of God. Being of a scholarly bent I particularly appreciate the substantial scholarship and consideration of the historical diversity of opinion that is brought to bear in response to the questions of life.

    Lastly, Abd-Allah’s comment above makes me wonder if perhaps God would in fact want me. While my life isn’t anything like Holdbrooks’ (mine has generally been an unremarkable middle-class life), it seems that God wanted him, so there is indeed hope. That’s no mean thing to me, having long felt abandoned spiritually.

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    • Tim,
      If you have any specific questions about Islam or would like to discuss anything privately, feel free to send an email to info at muslimmatters dot org, and someone will get back to you.

      We have 2 converts on board here, so there have been enough people who have been in your shoes and can give you any information that settles your heart.

      Take care,
      Amad

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    • Hi Tim, I am Egyptian American and Muslim too, I have read your comment and I feel That you have very open mind and heart to understand. I feel that you never been true atheist you just angry lost man. My thinking comes form your studying of religion as minor, If you real atheist you will not think about religion at all. In Islam the best good deed a moslem can do is help somebody to revert to islam not because the moslems will increase by one but because that person will gain the peace in living in this life and will be safe of hellfire . In Islam God does not abounded people as long they ask him their needs and God does not reject any body who wants to repent and come back to god even he is drinker or junky or even killer as long he wants to repent. If You feel that you need something from God just ask him from the deep of your heart and further moor if you do it the last third of the night ( 2-5 Am) and he will accept you. Just ask god only who created you and the universe Not Jesus because he is Peace upon him just prophet of God.
      http://WWW.Islamweb.net

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  11. Tim, may Allah guide you to the straight path, anf may you find peace.

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  12. @Brother Tariq,

    It’s not about a white man. Here is the idea: every man/woman that comes to Islam brings something to with him or her. The more they bring, the better it is. Now, I am talking in context of the interpretation of Prophet Muhammad PBUH’s dua for Sayyidna Umar RA:

    “For example, on a Wednesday night Prophet Muhammad (SAW) made the Dua and on Thursday , H. Umar (RA) came into the fold of Islam. This was because H. Abu Bakr (RA) was beaten so badly that by evening he was near the point of death. When SAW saw his state he could not hold back the tears. So Prophet SAW made the Dua to Allah that give us Umar (RA) or Amr Bin Hishaam, commonly knows as Abu Jahl. Obviously his choice was H. Umar Ibn Khattab (RA) and the rest as they say is history to the effect that when Gibraeel (AS) came down he said, “Ya Rasoolallaah (SAW) even the angels are also rejoicing today. So H. Umar went on to rule for 10 years and during this glorious period Islam conquered from the large neo Persian empire to the north west’s Eastern Roman so called Byzantium Empire. Muslims swept across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean.” [source]

    About his lapse, leave it for Allah SWT to decide his fate.. Inshallah, he’ll be a better Muslim. How about we pray for him at least once? :)

    Asalamalaikum.

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  13. “Lastly, Abd-Allah’s comment above makes me wonder if perhaps God would in fact want me…. so there is indeed hope….”

    Dear Tim, the fact that you are here and have been learning more about islam is a good sign!

    “Being of a scholarly bent I particularly appreciate the substantial scholarship…”

    here is an online booklet that talks about islam, you might be interested in reading it:

    http://www.islam-guide.com/

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  14. Brother Tariq Mahmood,
    no one is celebrating this man’s conversion, as his conversion benefits none of us and he only saved himself by becoming muslim.
    However, this incident reminds us Muslims that Allah guides whomever He wants no matter who that person might be or in whatever situation he is in. So this should remind us to keep on giving da’wah and spreading the message of islam. How many times did we not talk to a person about islam just because we thought that he/she might not be interested or are not the type of person who would be open to becoming muslim? We should spread the message and not pass judgements on who might accept islam or not, because it is ultimately Allah who guides whomever He wants. So this is a reminder and encouragement for us all to tell everyone about islam, even if they don’t seem to be someone who will accept it. This also includes our enemies and the bad people whom we don’t like. Some companions fought and killed many muslims before they accepted islam themselves later on. So this incident should remind us to call everyone to islam and not pick and choose who we give da’wah to.

    So if this guard has problems and sins, that is his problem and he will deal with them insha’Allah, and his muslim community should try to help him. No he is not the model Muslim, but neither are you, and neither am I. The model Muslim is our prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. You make it sound as if islam if for perfect people only when the prophet tells us that all human beings are sinners and the best of sinners are those who repent.

    You are right, we should build our own community, but this “troubled soul” IS part of our community now. Who gave you the right to say that some people can not become Muslim? Would you like it if someone deemed you “unfit” for islam?

    You do not know the ghayb and what will be in the future, so do not even try to make such predictions about that brother. How would you like it if someone said that you will “apostate in a few years” ? For your information, I have seen many of the brothers and sisters who are converts practice islam much better than those who were born muslim.

    I might sound harsh on your comment here, and I am because your comment contains a lot of things that should not be coming out from the mouth of a muslim. You might have a point that this might be over reacting to one man accepting islam, but the point you missed is that we were reacting to the way he became muslim, which shows us the greatness of Allah and how He guides whomever He wants, He even guides some people that none of us would have ever thought that they would be interested in islam.

    On another note, talking about bush, it is funny how you completely deny that bush had anything to do with 9/11. How do you know? It is funny how you seem to think that you know everything, including the future….

    -Editor’s note: Abd-Allah, bold text is very annoying when it is used so generously. Pls refrain from it.

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  15. All Praise is for Allah

    Tim,
    Your comments are much appreciated. I’d really encourage you to keep learning. This is a great talk by brother Khalid Yasin called “The Purpose of Life” which I hope you will listen to: http://english.islamway.com/bindex.php?section=lessons&lesson_id=55&scholar_id=7) A good website also is: http://www.islamreligion.com
    Finally, I’d really recommend that you pray to God to guide you to what is best for this life and hereafter. If you pray sincerely, God willing, you will find the truth.
    Peace.

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  16. @ Abd- Allah

    “no one is celebrating this man’s conversion, as his conversion benefits none of us and he only saved himself by becoming muslim.”

    Many apostate out of Islam, I have read as many as 3/4 who convert leave in a few years, I have known apostates.

    As for Bush, he wasn’t behind 9/11, is it impossible that a Muslim can really do something amazing (but wrong).

    Many do not think this way, they literally fall over themselves when a White person converts, particularly the youth.

    “and his muslim community should try to help him. No he is not the model Muslim, but neither are you, and neither am I”

    Why don’t we first act to stop the 2.5 million born Muslim babies (an infant mortality rate of 6%, versus Chinas 2%, Indias 3-5%, and Americas 0.5%)that will die this year before their first birthday. This man is not in any life threatening danger, and even if he was he is a grown adult, he can take care of himself.

    I would rather see that we take care of our children, the 70,000 that will breathe their last breath in Yemen before they have lived on this earth for 365 days.

    “For your information, I have seen many of the brothers and sisters who are converts practice islam much better than those who were born muslim”

    Isn’t that a shame, we lack the infrastructure to lead our own in the right path, how can you expect to take care of the troubled?

    “Would you like it if someone deemed you “unfit” for islam?”

    They do, and it is of no consequence to me.

    I am not against people converting to Islam, however I have this to say, if you convert to Islam look to bring something to the community, and to the community I say this, let us focus on building the infrastructure to guide our born Muslim children, while building our home countries.

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  17. Tariq Mahmood,

    Your posts make no sense.

    What gives you the right to judge this man? Are you a better Muslim than him? Do you have Allah’s knowledge of the future to say that he ‘will probably apostate’. Who knows what condition he, you or I will end on in our dying breaths – pray that it is on His Oneness – because ONLY Allah knows what is in our fates. That you are fortunate enough to be a born a Muslim is only by the Grace of Allah and no design on your part.

    As for the implication of him being a burden to the Muslim community because of his troubled past – how have you measured his current and future contribution to the Muslim community versus yours to make such statements?

    May Allah save us from ignorance!

    Allah Knows best.

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  18. Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî
    “no one is celebrating this man’s conversion, as his conversion benefits none of us and he only saved himself by becoming muslim.”

    Many apostate out of Islam, I have read as many as 3/4 who convert leave in a few years, I have known apostates.

    Funny how your response does not at all respond to what Abd-Allah said. I’ve also heard about the 75% of converts leaving but the “study” it was based on was, as I remember it, was flawed methodologically. That’s not to say that people don’t apostate, but out of personal experience, out of the tons of converts I know personally, none of them has left Islâm and the vast majority of them are in fact much more religiously practicing then the average born Muslim.

    As for Bush, he wasn’t behind 9/11, is it impossible that a Muslim can really do something amazing (but wrong).

    Is it impossible for Bush to be behind it? I’m not saying that Bush was or wasn’t behind it, but the certainty with which you claim he definitely was not is interesting.

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  19. bismillah was salamu alaykum wa RahmatAllah.

    subhanAllah. the day since the start of fajr was beautiful and filled with promise. and alhamdolillah, here i read a man who was destined for the fire has been saved despite the hatred of his former masters for Islam. alhamdolillah.

    and then subhanAllah, i made the error of looking at the comments. for truly many of them are beneath the article in the lowest sense of the expression.

    this man did not convert in private. he has made himself a lightning rod, and may Allah strike down darkness from the hearts of his brothers and sisters in arms with the light of Islam that fills this man’s breast. and may Allah not be displeased with those of us who fail to rise above petty-mindedness. for Allah’s plan is sublime, and He does not disdain to use the mosquito as an example, so will some Muslim try to find faults with one of Allah’s slaves who has embraced Islam when he had been in misguidance before? will someone who says la ilaha illAllah do the work of shaytan and denigrate another Muslim?

    glad tidings to those who do the actions of the people of Jannah, and Jannah will have many slaves of Allah, and none of them were perfect in this life but all of them were sublime for having Iman. and in Jannah, alhamdolillah, laa yasma’oona feeha laghwaw wa laa kidhdhaaba. instead Jannah will be filled with salam and its proper reply.

    as salamu alaykum.

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  20. Mumajjad, Mu-ayyad, Muhammad:
    Glorious, Victorious, Muhammad.
    Ajmal min kulli jameel,
    Lam yakun ’anhu badeel,
    I love Muhammad.
    Ask Hamza Hanson or Michael Jackson,
    Ask Yusuf Islam or Ingrid Mattson,
    What’s in the world sweeter than a word
    From the mouth of Muhammad?
    Ask Suhaib Webb or Yusuf Estes
    Why they brushed aside
    Shakespeare and Cervantes
    And followed with pride
    The words of Muhammad?
    Ask Sheikh Qardawi and Sheikh Tantawi
    What but Muhammad’s Light
    Made them stars brighter than the cars
    In New York at night?
    Ask every new convert, be it Jane or Albert,
    Is there a man of whom you’d be a fan–
    But Muhammad?
    Sallo Ya Nass,
    Sallo ’Alalhabeeb Muhammad!

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  21. Why don’t we build a our community first, rather then being pleased that a troubled soul converted to Islam, lapsed from it, and will probably apostate in a few years.

    Fear Allah, akhi.

    Don’t delude yourself into feeling that you are safe and secure from apostasy. All of us have flaws, and just because he “relapsed” into his sins doesn’t mean anything.

    Converts rarely have the proper support in the first place, so his relapse isn’t surprising, though still unfortunate. In fact, it’s mainly convert Muslim speakers who help the born Muslims the most! Imams Siraj Wahhaj, Suhaib Webb, Johari Abdul-Malik, Zaid Shakir, Shaykhs Yusuf Estes, Hamza Yusuf…the list goes on. What if this brother has the potential to become one of these great callers to the deen? And you’re brushing him off like a fly, accusing others of becoming obsessed with the “white man” – as a half white born Muslim, I’m supremely offended at your initiation of race into this conversation. Maybe if the born Muslims and their parents showed an ounce of appreciation for the deen they were born with, they’d warrant an effort to help them. Every “group” within Islam deserves acceptance – no one has to earn it, they do that when they say the shahada. Once they have Iman, they are every Muslim’s responsibility.

    Omar ibn Al-Khattab once said, “You know who will lose Islam for the Muslims? The ones who are born with it – they will have never tasted kufr, so they won’t have an appreciation for Iman, and Islam will be lost by them like the unraveling of a turban from the head of a man.”

    This isn’t to hate on born Muslims (I’m one of them), but going to either pole of extremist thought is completely off base and makes one look like they would score less than 85 on the standard IQ test.

    I am not against people converting to Islam, however I have this to say, if you convert to Islam look to bring something to the community, and to the community I say this, let us focus on building the infrastructure to guide our born Muslim children, while building our home countries.

    Wow. I pray to Allah that, while maintaining this mindset, you never achieve a level of influence in the Muslim community. It’s people like you who hurt the Ummah rather than help. Why does helping the born Muslims necessitate having a cut-throat attitude with converts?! Is this how the Prophet was?? Go read some seerah books before you log on to this website to post your ignorant comments. Subhan Allah.

    I may have been a bit abrasive in this comment, I’ll admit – may Allah forgive me for that. But man, I hate how ignorant people can be.

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  22. Why are you celebrating this man’s conversion?

    Because he was a guard at Guantanomo, guarding “terrorists”, and he found Islam there. It’s amazing, who Allah will guide, and how he guides them. Neither his color nor his ethnicity are the focal points of the story – it’s his job.

    The rest of your glass-is-half-empty posts were mostly speculation not worth responding to beyond stating they’re not worth responding to.

    Siraajj

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  23. That’s no mean thing to me, having long felt abandoned spiritually.

    Tim – God wants you back. If you want guidance, God will give it to you. If you don’t, God will leave you to your own device. But, He does want you.

    The purpose for which we were created is pretty simple – to worship God, and God alone. At a minimum, it requires 5 daily prayers, and it spans a relationship that not only compasses maintaining a growing and positive relationship with God, but also with the rest mankind, and even the environment.

    Due to God’s merciful nature, whenever man has gone astray from that path, He has sent Messengers to correct us and bring us back to understanding the simple yet powerful purpose for which we were created – His worship, and His worship alone (no rocks, people, mythical creatures, symbols, etc). Prophet Muhammad was the last in that long line of Prophets that you know of from Jewish and Christian scripture, come down with the final revelation, the Qur’aan, to last us til the end of time.

    Would you like to become a Muslim?

    Siraaj

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  24. Asalamu Alikum

    Brother Tariq Mahmood, fear Allah in what you say. SubhanaAllah, how can you make a judgment against the brother and about the future of his Islam? Remember the hadeeth:
    On the authority of Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) related:

    “A man said: By Allah, Allah will not forgive So-and-so. At this Allah the Almighty said: Who is he who swears by Me that I will not forgive So-and-so? Verily I have forgiven So-and-so and have nullified your [own good] deeds (1) (or as he said [it]).” (Muslim).

    So how can we make assumptions about the future of the brothers faith.
    Perhaps Allah loves this brother and wants a lot of Khair for him. Yes, we are happy that he is a Muslim, a Muwahid, Alhamdulilah!

    Make du’aa for him instead of harshly judging him.

    May Allah keep this brother firm on the straight path and place ease in all of his affairs.

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  25. Hi Tim,

    If you are interested in Islam, I would also recommend that you visit the following website: http://www.leveltruth.com. You may find the “Big Questions” series, and the “Unpublished Chapters” sections, as well as the author’s account of his journey to Islam, to be particularly engaging. The author, a convert to Islam, and also a former Christian and atheist, has many excellent articles that I think may provide you with the sort of thing that you may be looking for. If you find the articles stimulating, I would highly recommend you buy the author’s books MisGod’ed and God’ed. The author lays out the case for Islam, providing all the proofs to back up his conclusion.

    I hope that this helps!

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  26. @ Nafees

    This man divorced his wife after he came back from the Gitmo as a Muslim and developed a drinking habit.

    Hmmmm so let me get this you are defending a man who used to be into Skin Head culture, who got married to a woman he knew for only 8 days, converted to Islam based on what background (did he even read a copy of the Quran prior to conversion?)

    He then is discharged early from the military, divorces his wife, and develops a drinking habit.

    Have you people no shame?

    Will you allow your daughter to marry such an unstable soul? I pray for her welfare that you would not.

    @ AbdelRahman

    You should have fear of Allah. You treat faith like a debit credit system.

    This is not a good man, after his conversion he divorced his wife and got addicted to alcohol.

    His wife may have been loyal to him for the years that he was in the military, while he just threw her aside when he came back, became a heavy drinker, and spiraled down.

    I too am half white, my mother converted to Islam 26 years ago, and she is a wonderful and decent Muslimah.

    However men like Hamza Yusuf, Yusuf Estes and Zaid Shakir are not good men.

    They play with Allah’s words, Zaid Shakir said in two different speeches that we are “children” of Allah, this is blasphemy.

    …This is from 2006–fast forward it the lecture to 24:00 and then let it play for about 40 seconds:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t5MK7Q9MCw

    That wasn’t a slip of the tongue in ‘06, for in 2007 he said:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ0Rfu4R_Qc

    Fast forward the lecture to 18:00 and let it play for the next 30 seconds.

    Hamza Yusuf plays with God’s words and utters blasphemy in most speeches. And Yusuf Estes is a fast talking preacher fraud if I ever saw one.

    Your “right hand of Allah” Hamza Yusuf openly admits that his Kuffar upbringing influences the way he perceives Islam.

    Hamza Yusuf:

    “I think things have crystallised for me. First of all, I’m a western person and I was raised in the West and I was raised in what probably would be called a liberal progressive background – those filters are there. So I come into Islam with those filters. The idea that I can simply remove those psychic filters from my mind it’s impossible.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/3087728.stm

    Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir will not be consulting with Allah on the day of judgement to determine who is admitted to heaven, these people and perhaps you as well treat Islam as a debit credit system and twist it to your needs.

    @sis

    Since when did Islam become the debit credit system that Christianity is?

    Relapsing from Islam and divorcing your wife who was probably committed to you as you were away from her and developing a drink problem are okay?

    I encourage all of you take a long hard look into what type of community you are building with your misguided notions of forgiveness and acceptance, Islam does not pity those who harm others and disrespect Allah.

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    • Wow, so how did we jump from questioning this brave man’s faith to questioning the faith of Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, Yusuf Estes… want to add any others?? You have obviously utterly misconstrued what you quote here, but I am not sure you are really interested in understanding the context or content of those lines. So, I’ll excuse myself from arguing with you. But I would ask you to refrain from attacking Muslim scholars, even if you disagree with them. This is not the correct way to criticize; we try to promote respect on these pages, not disrespect.

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  27. Thank you all for your kind words.

    UmmeAmmaarah – thank you!

    All Praise is for Allah – thank you for the links. I will indeed listen to Khalid Yasin’s talk and review the materials on the other page.

    Amad – I will very likely do so! I was introduced to Iesa through a mutual friend last summer, and he and I had some great back-and-forth exchanges while I was clinging to Orthodoxy.

    Siraaj Muhammad – thank you very much for your words of encouragement! Your question is a good one, and I don’t know the answer yet. Making that sort of commitment is not something to be done lightly, and honesty before God is paramount.

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  28. @ Amad

    I just happened to be on when your comment posted.

    Our engineers, entrepreneurs, and mathematicians should cast aside these cursed liars.

    They turn Islam into a debit credit system, encourage poverty over self betterment, and laugh all the way to the bank.
    How did I misconstrue what they said?

    Twice Zaid Shakir called us “children” of God. Watch the youtube clips.

    And what else does possibly mean?

    “I think things have crystallised for me. First of all, I’m a western person and I was raised in the West and I was raised in what probably would be called a liberal progressive background – those filters are there. So I come into Islam with those filters. The idea that I can simply remove those psychic filters from my mind it’s impossible.

    Worship Allah and not these self serving sheikhs who will only bring ruin to us. They are uneducated in the world around them and they will only say things that they think will increase their power.

    I will not cease speaking the truth, stop worshiping these people you are committing Sherik.

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  29. Oh, and Sharif – thank you for the links! I will look at the materials therein. When I started my post yours hadn’t shown up yet, so I’m sorry I missed you!

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  30. Also your beloved Mark Hanson probably never changed his name …

    http://www.implu.com/nonprofit/330720978

    Notice that the Zaytuna institute ‘s contact is LILIANA HANSON, his wife, she married him after he converted to Islam, and supposedly changed his name.

    Furthermore look at their revenue …. over $1.5 million, that is 7 times the next highest Islamic institution in the region, which includes Full Time SCHOOLS which are providing education to our children.

    He is clearly making good money from his little act, throw in his crazy priced “lectures” and his speaking fees and you have a modern day Charlatant.

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  31. “converted to Islam based on what background (did he even read a copy of the Quran prior to conversion?)”
    Brother Tariq Mahmood,
    it is funny how you mention “reading a copy of the Quran” as a pre-requisite for becoming muslim. Did the companions of the prophet peace be upon him “read a copy of the Quran” prior to them accepting islam?? I would like to ask you to look back into the seerah and see how people used to accept islam back then. It used to be so simple, as simple as the prophet peace be upon him asking the person to say the shahada and that person simply agrees, why because it makes sense and it is from our natural disposition and our fitra to believe in Allah alone and reject false gods. What happened here with this guard seems a lot like what used to happen back during the time of the prophet, when things used to be simple, when people accepted islam as soon as they were asked to and they realized it is the truth and so they accept it. It is just the (unfortunate) way things are today that people want to learn everything about something before adhering to it or believing in it, even if they realize it is the truth from the beginning or upon first contact with it. It is not from the sunnah of our prophet Muhammad peace be upon him to ask if a person has “read a copy of the Quran” before we “let” them become muslim.

    Since you brought up the question if that guard had “read a copy of the Quran” before becoming muslim, eventhough i don’t really want to put you on the spot here, then you probably don’t mind if i ask you the same question: did you, brother Tariq, read a copy of the Quran before becoming muslim?

    You are right about one thing, which is that our communities are not what they should be, but you are approaching this problem the wrong way. This is not how you will solve the problems in our communities. I suggest you use a different (and better) approach, preferably one that is from the sunnah, to try and make our muslim communities better. Maybe then, others will support what you are calling for.

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  32. Dear beloved brother Tariq. You must be hungry because you keep eating the flesh of your brothers! :-D Subhan Allah, akhi, you may want to contact a local social worker to talk out all of this pent up anger towards your brothers in Islam! This can’t be good for you to hold in :-).

    Besides the fact that you’re assuming everything about this guy (his wife was probably good to him, he threw her aside, blah blah blah), you’re really not approaching this brother’s situation with an objective mind. Come on man, take your box of tissues, put them aside, and get it together.

    Bottom line is this – Allah is The Judge, and you’re not (nor is anyone) in a position to make judgments about people, their pasts, their present, or their futures. You don’t have to like anyone, but you’ve made huge statements, flawed statements, that really are terrible things to say. I ask Allah to forgive you, for you are my brother and I hate to see anyone like this.

    Also, remember the story of Abu Mihjin during the battle of Qaadisiyyah – he was drinking alcohol DURING BATTLES in JIHAD. Wow. Considering the fact that it is one of the highest forms of worship, can you imagine the size of the sin a person would get for doing such a thing? Yet he was an integral part of the Muslims winning the battle. Read up on your seerah and history of Islam (a suggestion I posted before) – not every one was perfect. There were numerous times people would come to the Prophet [saw] saying, “I committed zina,” or “I drank,” or ,”I did this.” You’re being more harsh of a judge than the Prophet [saw] was, and they were telling him their sins to his face, openly! While you are simply reading a news story and interpreting the events based upon your own “crystalized” (*wink*) biases and ideas that have been with you since your childhood.

    Wow, dear beloved brother Tariq, I hope to God you change your ways insha Allah – either that or you never get married and procreate, cause Allah, the Wise, the Almighty, knows that we do NOT need people with your mindset. May Allah forgive you for the things that you say, may He shower you with mercy, may He guide you and make you amongst those who please Him and follow his Beloved Muhammad [saw], and may He give us all the same insha Allah. Ameen.

    P.S. stop coming to MuslimMatters, we’re clearly all committing shirk! You shouldn’t be associating with the mushrikeen, or else you might get kicked off of the manhaj!

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  33. Brother Tariq Mahmoud,
    the only thing that you have proved here by following the sins and shortcomings of other muslims is that no one is perfect, which is true and everyone would agree with you on that, because the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said that all human beings are sinners and the best of sinners are those who repent.

    And i would also agree with you that what some people have said might be wrong, but that doesn’t change anything.

    My only advice to you is the following hadeeth, insha’Allah it will be a good reminder for us all:

    The prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said “O you who believe with your tongues, yet Iman has not entered your hearts. Do not backbite the Muslims, nor follow their faults. For he who follows others’ faults, then Allah will follow his faults, and he whom Allah follows his faults, then Allah will reveal them and disgrace him even if he is in his own house” (Recorded by Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al- Albani)

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  34. @ AbdelRahman-

    So now the prophet’s companions are saints, they are prime examples and guaranteed heaven?

    You do realize that when the prophet Musa went to the mountain his followers strayed and they were killed because of this.

    Abu Mihjin may be sent to heaven, he may be sent to hell, it is all up to Allah, but he certainly is not my role model.

    As for your sunnah, I will not follow the many lies embodied in them.

    Please review

    Volume 4, Book 54, Number 539:
    Narrated Abu Talha:

    The Prophet said, “Angels do not enter a house witch has either a dog or a picture in it.”

    and

    Volume 4, Book 54, Number 541:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “If somebody keeps a dog, he loses one Qirat (of the reward) of his good deeds everyday, except if he keeps it for the purpose of agriculture or for the protection of livestock. ”

    and

    Volume 4, Book 54, Number 540:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:

    Allah’s Apostle ordered that the dogs should be killed.

    This contrasts with

    Volume 4, Book 54, Number 538:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.”

    http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/054.sbt.html

    So let me get this straight according Bukhari Allah wants us to kill dogs as supposedly ordered by the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, that keeping dogs is a sin, and also that adulterers who confess should be stoned to death even if they bear a child.

    Yet at the same time a whore was forgiven by Allah for giving water to a dog, which we good Muslims would have killed on sight.

    These are obviously forgeries.

    What type of society does this present? Some kind of cruel randomness?

    None of my points about Zaid Shakir were countered.

    And before anyone accuses me, I am not a Quranist, or Rashid Khalifain.

    I do not fully oppose the Hadiths, however I will be asked by my Lord on the day Judgement if I acted appropriately in this world, I will not turn to him and say that I followed the lies preached by Bukhari or Muslim and allowed for the propagation of evil, such as allowing the marrying off of pre pubescent girls.

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  35. Brother Tariq,
    one thing you have to keep in mind that these people that you have been mentioning and the wrong things that they have said, these people do not represent all muslims. Sure when they do or say something which is wrong according to islam you correct them and try to advise them, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are looking at the whole issue from a narrow angle which will not help you see the real problems that we have in our communities, let alone help you solve them.

    -Edited again. We have asked you a few times to go easy on bold. Future comments that use it sparingly could just be moderated.You should respect the wishes of blog-editors. That is just plain courtesy, even if you disagree with them. -MM

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  36. Brother AbdelRahman,

    just as a piece of advice, do not try to correct the wrong that brother Tariq is saying by saying wrong things yourself, and don’t get carried away by your emotions and don’t let the shaytan drag you.Your comment would have been better off without statements like these, so please keep dignity and respect when talking to your fellow muslims:

    “either that or you never get married and procreate, cause Allah, the Wise, the Almighty, knows that we do NOT need people with your mindset”
    “P.S. stop coming to MuslimMatters, we’re clearly all committing shirk! You shouldn’t be associating with the mushrikeen, or else you might get kicked off of the manhaj!”

    I would also appreciate it brother AbdelRahman if you provided a reference when you mentioned this story: “Also, remember the story of Abu Mihjin during the battle of Qaadisiyyah – he was drinking alcohol DURING BATTLES in JIHAD”

    Even though i am not an expert on the history of the battles that the muslims have fought in the past, i am pretty sure the story wasn’t simply a companion drinking alcohol during battles in jihad, because that would definitely not have been the case, or atleast not the whole story. If he drank alcohol he probably got his punishment for it afterwards because it is the law of Allah. I am sure the story isn’t as you made it sound that he was simply drinking alcohol during jihad and nothing else happened and that was the end of the story. Amputating part of a story will only give you an incomplete story which might be false.
    So please brother AbdelRahman if you would be kind enough to provide me with the REFERENCE for this story of “Abu Mihjin drinking alcohol during jihad” and if you can provide us with the AUTHENTIC HADEETH where it is mentioned, then perhaps that would benefit us all.

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  37. “And before anyone accuses me, I am not a Quranist, or Rashid Khalifain”

    Brother Tariq,
    I would never accuse you of being either, because to me it is obvious that you are Shi’a, or atleast you have their mind set. It is easy to see that you are Shi’a from what you said, and it is obvious that you hate the companions and are trying to attack our authentic books of sunnah, which is stereotypical Shi’a (unfortunately). Don’t be jealous that we have something which you don’t, which is ahadeeths with connected and authentic chains all the way back to the prophet peace be upon him. It is ok, we will allow you to share these ahadeeths with us! They are for free and for everyone!

    But these statements that you make clearly indicate that you are Shi’a, or if not Shi’a then just confused and have their mentality:

    “So now the prophet’s companions are saints, they are prime examples and guaranteed heaven? (yes as a matter of fact, go read the Quran, just like you wanted that guard to read a copy of the Quran before he became muslim)

    You do realize that when the prophet Musa went to the mountain his followers strayed and they were killed because of this. (the point you might be trying to eventually allude to is that a prophet’s companions may stray away after him, and then try to say that by the same token prophet Muhammad’s companions also strayed away after he died (all of them except 4 or 5 (?) according to the Shi’a). And let me tell you don’t even try to make that false argument to begin with, and save yourself some dignity and honor)

    Abu Mihjin may be sent to heaven, he may be sent to hell, it is all up to Allah, but he certainly is not my role model. (you, a muslim, are saying that a companion is not your role model… hmm, only a Shi’a, or someone who is very confused, would say that..)

    As for your sunnah, I will not follow the many lies embodied in them.

    These are obviously forgeries.”

    (only a Shi’a, or someone who is very confused, will try to make the claim that these are “lies” or “forgeries”. Your hidden agenda has been exposed brother Tariq, but remember you can always sincerely repent, follow the prophet and his companions and his true sunnah, and Allah will forgive you.)

    Now as for this “conflict” that you seem to have with these different ahadeeths, then insha’Allah i will clear this for you:
    This prostitute that gave the thirsty dog a drink of water was from the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, meaning it is a story from the time BEFORE the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Now, the other ahadeeths about the different rulings on dogs inside the house are what the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said which are about the laws by which Allah wants us to live by, and they are for muslims who are part of prophet Muhammad’s ummah to abide by, and they are in no way applicable to that prostitute from BANI ISRA’EEL, because many of the laws for them were different than the laws that prophet Muhammad established for muslims. This story about this prostitute from the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL has a main idea which is to show us the MERCY of ALLAH, and if you haden’t deleted that part from the hadeeth which mentions that she was from the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, then you wouldn’t have been able to twist around these different narrations to try and attack the sunnah of the prophet peace be upon him. Whether you kept that part out of that hadeeth intentionally to further your hidden agenda or whether you did it unintentionally by accident, only Allah knows, and it doesn’t matter, because i hope that this issue is clear for you in your mind.

    But tell me one thing brother Tariq, are you Shi’a? and please be honest, because even if you were Shi’a, or even if you were not, it won’t make a difference because you have that same mentality.

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  38. Ok so now Tariq has gone as far as calling Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim, two of the greatest scholars of Islam ever, liars??!!

    This guy is either:

    a) A troll, in which I would advise everyone to completely ignore his comments, bc attention is what such ppl crave

    b) Seriously misguided. Just post some links or books for him to read and then leave him to his own devices.

    c) Someone trying to purposefully misguide others. Again, just ignore him.

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  39. @ Ammar

    The Shiite and Ibadi do not believe in Bukhari or Muslim’s collections, are they “misguided” too?

    You want to believe that the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, consummated his marriage with a 9 year old girl?

    Have you ever seen a 9 year old girl? Do you have no soul?

    You can honestly believe that the Prophet Muhammad said to kill dogs, ordered a pregnant women to be stoned to death after she gave birth to her child for adultery, yet declared a prostitute was forgiven by Allah for giving water to a dog?

    Use your brains, these things are madness!!!!

    Do you believe that Allah declared that only Quarish can lead the community?

    -Edited…Blah, blah, blah. Thanks and bye-bye. -Editor

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    • I believe Tariq Mehmood has shown his true colors. It is obvious where he stands. Seems like he is from the “Quraniyoon” or the the Submitters. I don’t believe he is a shia because I haven’t seen a Shia who talks like this.

      His comments will be moderated from hereon, so we don’t waste our time and MM space on nonsense.

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  40. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-06-10-prison-book-ban_N.htm

    I only took my Shahada less than 3 years ago while in federal prison, Alhamdulillah, so may Allah (swt) forgive me for my ignorance as I struggle to learn my Deen.

    I was moved by this story because I know first-hand what it’s like when your captors are “Islamophobic.” In 2007, the Bureau of Prisons attempted to ban religious books in all US federal prisons that were not on a specific “book list” that they compiled. The Bureau even admitted that the policy was designed to stop the “radicalization” of Muslim inmates, but since they could not single out Islam legally, they went through every federal prison chapel library nationwide and removed volumes of books, from every religion, that were not on their book list.

    With Allah’s help, two other inmates and I brought an action against the Bureau and, after the fortuitous intervention of a whole host of Christian and Jewish organizations, the policy was scrapped and the books were returned, Alhamdulillah.

    I pray that Allah (swt) will accept our deed as a sadaqa, and may I be forgiven if posting this comment is boastful in any way. My intention is to be part of a conversation, with my Muslim brothers, about reverting to Islam. I don’t have much guidance in my struggle and I don’t really know many people to turn to.

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  41. Tariq,

    If Imam Zaid meant “children” literally, then you have a point. If he meant it metaphorically, then you don’t. Given his ‘aqeedah orientation, I’m going with metaphorical.

    As for the rest of what you said about the other teachers, the other da’ees, if you have proof that any of what they are doing is haraam (running a successful school, or being an amazing da’ee), please bring the evidence from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah (well, whatever of it you believe).

    As for Imams Bukhaari and Muslim, as well as their work, if you were not able to reconcile those ahadeeth when looking at them, then you ought to study more and write less until you are better positioned to redress what appear to be contradictions to you, but not us.

    Siraaj

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  42. Dear brothers and sisters, please do not reply to this person who is calling himself Tariq Mahmood. His arguments are a classic example of how people are diverted from their purpose by meaningless arguments. May Allah give him imaan and forgive the sins of our brother Holdbrook and of those on this forum, Ameen.

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  43. I agree wholeheartedly with shahgul!

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  44. Brother Douglas Kelly, I love you for the sake of Allah! Eventhough we have never met (insha’Allah one day i will see you in heaven where we will get to know each other better) but as my brother in islam i have this feeling of love for you in my heart even without ever meeting you, and i can’t really explain why it is so. As long as you are worshipping Allah alone, He will help you in your struggle to learn more about islam and practice better, and may Allah reward you for all that which you do in the service of islam.

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  45. It is obvious now that with his “Tariq” has overplayed his bluff. He is beginning to sound more like an silly evangelical Christian pretending to be a Muslim. If he was smarter he may of kept us stringing along for longer but he can only lie for so long before his true nature is revealed. If I was administrating this server, I would track the IP address of this individual down.

    He has diverted attention form this story – I think better moderation could have avoided most of the comments above. I am all for free speech for people who genuine in their views, but posts which maliciously seek to divert debate should be removed – it would be great Br. Amad if you could remove all the comments from Tariq including those who replied to him/her/it (and my post here).

    JazakAllah

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  46. *Here is Tariq’s last comment. I unmod’d it just to give everyone a glimpse of who we will not be missing here -Amad*

    Wow you guys are sick in the head. [sick in the heart is worse, that is what you should be worried about]

    Leave my comments, I don’t want to ever come back to this site again. [thanks!]

    But I want your sickness to be immortalized on the web. [actually, you have been spewing similar nonsense on other blogs too, pretty soon you'll be very lonely]

    You are against free speech and will bring the death of this community. You have no sense. All of you are filthy dogs. [we are not against free speech, we are against nutty, useless chatter and abusive language. Thanks for proving yourself once again]

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    • Salaam all,

      LOL going back and reading these postings after nearly two years has me laughing.

      The personalized attacks lodged at me by my “pious” brethren for questioning the logic in turning this man into a poster child of conversion and my subsequent questioning of support texts still shocks me.

      I am reminded of a lecture an estate attorney gave on proper Islamic inheritance laws.

      During the lecture he told us of a story in which a wealthy Muslim man from Southern California came to him seeking his advice on how to properly draft his will in accordance with the Shariah.

      The attorney informed him that it was obligatory for him to give his estranged son a portion of his estate.

      The man replied, I haven’t seen my son in 30 years, I haven’t even heard my grand children voices, I am not leaving him a dime, “Alhamdillauh I live in America and do not have to do this.”

      The man decided instead to will all of his millions to the local masjid (a sinner in the eyes of literalist no doubt, giving money to community comes second after your blood even if they have fallen into vice and would use such wealth for vice …)
      Bottom line, Alhamdillauh, we have the freedom, good or bad, to not follow the twisted crap shoot of randomness after we come in this world (we don’t have a choice on where we are born however).

      The laws and system proposed by these brothers is one that is complex, confusing, and easily exploitable for the benefit of the soulless.

      Alhamdillauh that I live in America!

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  47. *****”Hamza Yusuf:

    “I think things have crystallised for me. First of all, I’m a western person and I was raised in the West and I was raised in what probably would be called a liberal progressive background – those filters are there. So I come into Islam with those filters. The idea that I can simply remove those psychic filters from my mind it’s impossible.”*****

    I, for one, have liked most of Hamza Yusuf’s videos on youtube. May allah reward him for what he’s doing.

    Excerpt from a comment:

    ” know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy”(obama) the reason why am quoting this my dear brother is as folllow, what did you do for this umma or build for this umma that you want to criticize the likes of sheikh hamza and imam zaid and i quote you “However, while I am not pleased with where Zaid is today” bro your not pleased and your behind a computer screen doing this ? ? ? not please ? check there records and the change there making in people lives everyday before you choose to defame the ones that are making a diffirence!!! and i dont need to be a scientist or a harvard student to see this as for you i hope you can make changes the way they are making changes in your own way since you dont like there way be the change you want to see to benefit this umma insha allah for the sake of allah and may our hearts be united and make us people that will love each another for the sake of allah Hadith Qudsi 23:

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  48. I apologize for my fanning of the flame – at times I get a bit emotional :-P Allah forgive me for that. Jazakum Allahu khayran for the advice, shahgul, it’s the best comment on this post, and ameen to your du’aa.

    Brother Abd Allah – the story was mentioned in Muhammad Alshareef’s “Conquest” class, the history of the khulufaa. It was during the Khalifah of Omar. When they found Abu Mihjin drinking during the battle, he was placed in Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas’ “house” (the makeshift tent used during battle campaigns) under house arrest to be dealt with later. He, however, took his guilt from committing his sin, and turned it into motivation to help the ummah. He begged Sa’ad’s wife to let him out to help and even said he’d come back to the house arrest if he were still alive after the fight. After much pleading, she let him go and he went and acted as a turning point in the battle.

    I apologize for the lack of reference on this other than my taking of an AlMaghrib class – I don’t know if it can be found in the books of ahadith because of the fact that it happened during the time of Omar. Forgive my lack of reference, and if anyone else has any information on this, sharing of it would be much appreciated.

    P.S. didn’t you take the class with me, Abd Allah?? Br. Tariq from Houston, right? Or not right? PrayInJamat.com?

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  49. Brother Abd-Allah, it is brothers like you who strengthen my heart and my faith and let me know that this Islam is the true Right Path! For Allah’s sake, I love you too bro!

    As a man, it is hard to admit weakness, but when no one in your family is Muslim, you learned most of your Deen from a handful of worn-out books on a prison library bookshelf, and you want to marry but you live at home on food stamps and a disability check, Allah (subhana wa t’ala) is all you’ve got.

    But according to His Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wassalam), the Qur’an and Sunnah are all you need. Right?

    I think your explanation might be that Allah, the Exalted, knew I needed to hear words of encouragement. Masha’llah to you and all of you brothers and sisters who offer your insight to reverts like me and anyone else Allah (swt) guides through your wisdom.

    I am writing a book entitled “I Tried To Enter Heaven With a Fake ID” which is the story of how Allah (swt) brought me out of my ignorance and turned me to Him by allowing me to get rich in riba-financed real estate during the “housing boom,” then taking it all away when I got arrested for making someone fake documents so they could get a job, a car loan and a mortgage. It was when my celly gave me a copy of 40 Hadith Qudsi that my life in this world, and, Insha’llah, the next, changed forever.

    As an ex-stockbroker, it is my intention to simply tell a true story and use logic and reason to point out all of what is wrong with the world’s financial systems, as well as what is right with the Shariah. May Allah (swt) forgive me for any mistakes I make.

    http://itriedtoenterheaven.com/

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  50. Yes. Laurie Goodstein interviewed me by telephone, as I was the only one of the three of us who did not mind putting myself “out there.” It’s not that I’m a particularly thick-skinned individual, I believe Allah (swt) gave me strength I didn’t know I had!

    I would be honored to write a guest post for your website! I will send you a copy of the letter I wrote to Shaikh Suhaib Webb about the matter as well. SubhanAllah! I thank you so much for any opportunity to tell my story. May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything that could be construed as boastfulness, as my only intention is to tell the truth and grow closer to the community of Believers whom I love, for Allah’s sake, but I just haven’t really met yet.

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  51. My hunch is that Tariq was from the Nation of Islam pseudocult…

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  52. ComplexitySimplified

    Brother Douglas Kelly,

    As Salaamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi WaBarakatuh,

    May Allah (swt) forgive me for anything that could be construed as boastfulness, as my only intention is to tell the truth and grow closer to the community of Believers whom I love, for Allah’s sake, but I just haven’t really met yet.

    Ameen. May Allah forgive us all, guide us and keep us upon the truth and bring us close and unite us all. May the One for whose sake you love us, love you.

    For your comments – I too love you for the sake of Allah.

    Jazak Allah Khair for taking a stand and I’m sure there are many here who would love to hear your story.

    From a brother in England.

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  53. ComplexitySimplified

    Tim,

    May Allah guide and favour you to recognise and accept the Truth. Following the link from Shariff, I thought the below succint story is a good place to start:

    http://www.leveltruth.org/documents/convert.html

    May Allah help you in your search and open your breasts to accept and follow the path that leads to eternal success.

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  54. I find this story interesting, but not particularly inspiring – yes I know, that’s a subjective statement. Certainly it highlights that Allah can guide a lost soul in the darkest of circumstances, but does anyone need convincing of that? Even the Quraysh, sworn enemies of the Prophet (saws), eventually embraced Islam!

    Personally I’d like to see more attention paid to stories such as the recent act of bravery by the Nigerian Muslim Ulama who decided to stand up to misguided fellow “scholars” who attacked efforts by Western aid agencies to eradicate Polio as a conspiracy against Islam. These criminals posing as Islamic scholars are now being held accountable for their madness which led to the resurgence of Polio in Muslim-dominated parts of Nigeria. Now that’s a story of bravery and struggle that will lead to saving countless lives; true heroes of Islam in my opinion.

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  55. ComplexitySimplified – Thank you for the link! I will add that to the list of items I have been given in this thread.

    Thank you again to all of you for your kind thoughts and encouragement, as well as the materials! The hospitality I have encountered here is wonderful, and I’m very glad I spoke up.

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  56. -Edited again. We have asked you a few times to go easy on bold. Future comments that use it sparingly could just be moderated.You should respect the wishes of blog-editors. That is just plain courtesy, even if you disagree with them. -MM

    Sorry, i forget.

    Perhaps if you can explain to me what difference does it make if i use bold or not and why does it irritate you so much when i use it a lot, then perhaps it would help me remember your wishes and not use it.

    -Just use it sparingly pls. -Editor

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  57. “P.S. didn’t you take the class with me, Abd Allah?? Br. Tariq from Houston, right? Or not right? PrayInJamat.com?”

    hahaha, no brother AbdelRahman i think you have the wrong Abd- Allah. I wasn’t at that class with you.

    Thanks for telling us the whole story, inshAllah i will try look it up.

    JazakAllah

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  58. Salaam Alaikum, and greetings from New York to our dear brother from England, ComplexitySimplified!

    I echo brother Tim when I offer my sincere thanks for the help and support you give us. You just don’t know how encouraging and heartening it is to hear from brothers like yourself, Abd-Allah, Sharif, Siraaj Muhammad, and our hosts Saqib Saab and Amad (and may Allah (swt) forgive me for leaving out anyone in whose hearts are kind thoughts and good intentions).

    The excellent information you provide, as well as your interest in hearing about the struggle of those of us in the infancy of our Deen, is priceless. If I may speak for other reverts to Islam, just knowing you care is what keeps us going. Insha’llah, we will all greet each other in Paradise with a good word…Salaam!

    Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven, (14:24)

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  59. Peace be upon them those who follow guidance.
    Dear bro and sis.
    Let us think of ourselves. Ask ownself have I prayed five times today with IHSAN(with the full mind-set to ALLAH(SWT))? Ask urself prior to judge other on the basis of general ethics. Do I have any bad habit? Can I overcome it within one week? If the ans is “NO”,Plz don argue with irrelevant issues e.g the new muslims’ habit or character. See own face on the internal mirror.

    Let me share a shahih hadith with u. I’m sorry that I cannot recall the narrator at this moment but I am givin u the gist. “One day Prophet(pbuh) went to see one of his khadem(who serves) who was a jew and he was severely sick. Prophet(pbuh) caressed him and asked him to testify Allah(SWT) and his rasul(pbuh). The khadem looked at his father who was beside him for his consent. His father told him you testify whatever the Rasul(pbuh) says because he is the most trustworty. By this time, he embraced Islam. For this the prophet(pbuh) was so delighted and he(pbuh) said “Allah just saved one from hellfire”.

    Ya bro and sis. That was the condition for our prophet. He was very happy selflessly only for one soul. Do u know how many souls pass away everyday without the testimony of Islam. Wt is our duty? Do we fulfill others’ right to us? So plz pray for each non-muslim so that they can get guidance. Apart from this, everyone is responsible for his own deeds. May Allah(SWT) bless us all with His infinite mercy and forgiveness.

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  60. Anonymou said:

    “Certainly it highlights that Allah can guide a lost soul in the darkest of circumstances, but does anyone need convincing of that? Even the Quraysh, sworn enemies of the Prophet (saws), eventually embraced Islam!”

    I agree. Yet, this is remote history for us. Think of what the sahaba would have felt at that time. Think of when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reverted to Islam. Think of the surge of happiness and feeling of empowerment they felt at that time. They did not know that everyone was going to be Muslim in the near future. So, if Allah subhanahu wa taala gives us a little happiness, a little light in the dark, rejoice. You don’t know what may be the significance of one reversion to Islam. You don’t know, what kind of ulema, doers and thinkers will follow in the lineage of these new Muslims, so do not belittle this event. Think of how proud our beloved prophet (sws) would be on the day of judgement, when these little numbers will add up to his Ummah.

    Why don’t you take initiative and inform us about what is going on in Nigeria. I am sure everybody will be interested.

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  61. Douglas Kelly – would it be OK for me to contact you via the email address you list on your web site? If you’re willing, I’d like to correspond a bit about your experiences thus far in Islam.

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  62. I think this guy will eventually stop practicing Islam. I converted for a few months the gave it up, mostly because not knowing Arabic I had no idea what the religion really meant. Reading a persons translation of the Koran is not very helpful, as different people have different interpretations. So you basically have to rely on the beliefs of another person to build your understanding. Most of the English translations of the Koran are done by people who are non native Arabs, so they don’t have a full understanding of Koranic Arabic. So the English, Turkish, Urdu etc translation of the Koran is not the word of God, but the word of Shakir or Pickall, the translators.

    I thought Tariq Mahmood brought up a good point in regards to the treatment of dogs in the hadith. It is strange God would at one time would forgive a person for saving the life of a dog, then later declare all dogs should be killed, quite fickle if you ask me.

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  63. Tim,

    Please feel free to write at any time. I look forward to hearing from you. May Allah the Exalted reward your excellent manners in asking first. You certainly don’t have to ask.

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  64. ComplexitySimplified

    Frank,

    The fact that you have chosen to make a comment here indicates a number of possibilities. I will presume (and I may be wrong) the most optimistic and sincere reason would be that:

    You still have a latent interest in Islam and that Allah has guided you to comment here so that ithis can be the start of a fresh dialogue to help clear any ongoing confusions and misunderstandings you may have had about Islam.

    As long as your intentions are good and sincere and that is what is manifest from your comments, then I’m sure many here would be willing to respond to your questions and help clarify issues you are unsure or confused about. As such it is with this assumption, that your intentions are honourable and sincere, that I write to you and I pray that my efforts are not wasted.


    1) The future of the brother who accepted Islam in Gitmo

    You are guessing about the fate of another man without really knowing much about him, other than a few paragraphs of a newspaper article.

    The fact that a few years after this brother actually accepted Islam, he has now started taking practical steps to live more in accordance with the Islamic way prescribed by our Creator, gives me hope that he has bright future in Islam insha’Allah.

    You’ll note I say ‘insha’Allah’ because it is Allah that ultimately decides whom He favours to live and die in a state of submission to Him i.e. in state of Islam. I pray that we all die in a state of true submission to our Creator i.e. as Muslims.

    Islam meaning ‘Submission’ and ‘Muslim’ meaning one who submits to the Will of our Creator who is Allah (Allah = Arabic for the ‘One God’).

    So I pray to Allah (God) that your guess is wrong about the fate of this brother and that this brother and all of us die in a state of Islam.

    2) Turning to you

    You indicate you had no idea what the religion (of Islam) really meant and that’s why you gave it up after converting a few months before. That is understandable.

    The first conditions of bearing witness and declaring your belief in Islam to become a Muslim is KNOWLDEGE. Specifically, this means having KNOWLEDGE of what the general signicance and meaning of the words of the ‘Shahadah’ i.e.

    “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasoolulllah

    Translated:

    There is no deity worthy or worship except Allah and Muhmmad is his Messenger

    .

    The fact that you indicate you really had no idea what the religion of Islam really meant, seems to indicates perhaps you really did not appreciate and understand above as such were not in a position to fulfill the first condition of declaring your belief in Islam i.e. perhaps you did not acquire and have sufficient general KNOWLEDGE about the meaning of the above words to be able understand and to accept and declare meaningfully or truthfully and with certainty, sincerety and love the words “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasool ulllah’.

    These short words (7 words in total, but whose weight in meaning and significance in Islam, is more than the weight of the heavens and the earth put together) underpin the very foundation and essence of Islam.

    If you study and understand nothing else about Islam, and if you haven’t done so already, you owe it to yourself and your eternal future to study deeply the meanings and implications of these words.

    Perhaps this link would be a good starting point in trying to understand what “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasool ulllah’ means:

    http://abdurrahman.org/faith/faithmuttaqun.html

    That is the starting point. All the Prophet’s of Allah (God) including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad (peace be upon them all) were sent by Allah without exception to call the people first and foremost to “Laa ilaaha il Allah” – that there is abosolutely no deity in truth worthy of worship except Allah (the One who Created all that exists including you, me, the planets and stars etc).

    The meaning of the word ‘worship’ in Islam is broadly:

    Doing everything that which is Commanded, pleasing and made permissible by Allah and abstaining from all that is forbidden and displeasing to Allah.

    It is thus by submitting ourselves to the Commands and Prohibitions and Guidance of Allah (our Creator) that we are Muslims ‘i.e. those that submit to the Will of Allah’.

    So the question next is: how do we know what are the Commnds and Prohibitions and Guidance of Allah? Allah, our Creator, did not leave us mankind in the dark or to deduce these by ourselves. For this purpose, Allah (God) has sent Prophets like Abraham, Moses, Jusus, Muhammad (peace be upon them all) to teach and guide mankind how to worship Allah in ways that are pleasing to Allah and in way that are good for us a Allah’s created beings. Should not our Creator know what is best for us?

    To these Prophets, Allah also revealed His sacred scriptures such as the Torah, Psalms, Bible (Injeel) and the Final Scripture to mankind the Quran.

    Sequence of Prophets were sent to call mankind back to the truth and the obedience and submission and worship of Allah alone, after subsequnet generations adulterated and corrupted what was taught by previous Prophets. Likewise upon the passing away of each Prophet the scriptures that Allah revealed to them were adulterated and corrupted by subsequent generations – that is true for the Torah, the Psalms and the Bible (Injeel). The ONLY Exception is the Quran. Allah has Promised to preserve the Quran from being changed up until the Day of Judgement.

    Why?

    Just like the Muhammad (peace and belessing of Allah be upon him) is the last Prophet sent by Allah – thus the Quran is the last revelation of Allah that provides Guidance to mankind. With passing away of the Prophet Muhammad, mankind’s only guidance from Allah remains His revealed Words – the Quran – and the authentically recorded sayings, actions and deeds of the final messenger when he was alive i.e. the hadiths.

    3) This brings me finally to the issue of the Quran, and the translation in the various languages.

    You are abosutely correct when you state the the Quran as translated by individual into urdu, turkish, english languages etc are in those languages NOT the Word of God. At best they are the ‘translated/interpreted meanings of the Arabic Quran’. So yes, the translated versions are far from ideal.

    On the otherhand, a sincere and fair-minded, comparison of many of the common translations of the Quran in the English language will highlight that translators have not differed in their translation to any significant degree so as to lose the essence of the meaning of the Original Arabic, except in a few verses here and there and those to are few and far between. The safety net here is that, almost every translated copies of the Quran is accompanied by the Quran in its original arabic in which not a word or a verse differs to the original or between one copy of the Arabic Quran to another. So where there are noticable differences in translation, the Original Arabic is always there to be referred back to. So this is when you really need to understand or have access to someone trustworthy who can translate the Arabic for you. But that is like taking the study of Islam to like a PhD level.

    What is needed for a beginner is to understand the basics of Islam first and foremost and that does not require knowledge of Arabic. Indeed most the world’s Muslims do not speak or understand Arabic – the key to understanding Islam is as I indicated first a foremost getting a grasp of the meaning and significance of the words of the Shahadah above and studying the principles of Tawheed.

    It is of course a bonus and beneficial to try to start reading and understanding the message in the Quran. You can start to get a fair grasp of the meaning each of the verses of the Quran by reading the translated versions and where you are in doubt use a number of different translators and check the translations for consistency in meaning.

    Given as the Word of Allah is revealed in Arabic then for Muslims it is also obligatory to make due effort to learn arabic and I ask Allah that He grants us the honour of learning the language of the Quran asooner rather than later.

    4) There is no command from Allah to kill dogs. Tariq is clearly mistaken in his views and has proven to be someone who is quite uncouth so I would not take too much notice of him.

    May Allah grant you, me and everyone a better understanding of Islam and make us die in a state of Islam.

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  65. ComplexitySimplified

    Frank,

    The fact that you have chosen to make a comment here indicates a number of possibilities. I will presume (and I may be wrong) the most optimistic and sincere reason would be that:

    You still have a latent interest in Islam and that Allah has guided you to comment here so that ithis can be the start of a fresh dialogue to help clear any ongoing confusions and misunderstandings you may have had about Islam.

    As long as your intentions are good and sincere and that is what is manifest from your comments, then I’m sure many here would be willing to respond to your questions and help clarify issues you are unsure or confused about. As such it is with this assumption, that your intentions are honourable and sincere, that I write to you and I pray that my efforts are not wasted.


    1) The future of the brother who accepted Islam in Gitmo

    You are guessing about the fate of another man without really knowing much about him, other than a few paragraphs of a newspaper article.

    The fact that a few years after this brother actually accepted Islam, he has now started taking practical steps to live more in accordance with the Islamic way prescribed by our Creator, gives me hope that he has bright future in Islam insha’Allah.

    You’ll note I say ‘insha’Allah’ because it is Allah that ultimately decides whom He favours to live and die in a state of submission to Him i.e. in state of Islam. I pray that we all die in a state of true submission to our Creator i.e. as Muslims.

    Islam meaning ‘Submission’ and ‘Muslim’ meaning one who submits to the Will of our Creator who is Allah (Allah = Arabic for the ‘One God’).

    So I pray to Allah (God) that your guess is wrong about the fate of this brother and that this brother and all of us die in a state of Islam.

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  66. ComplexitySimplified

    Frank

    2) Turning to you

    You indicate you had no idea what the religion (of Islam) really meant and that’s why you gave it up after converting a few months before. That is understandable.

    The first conditions of bearing witness and declaring your belief in Islam to become a Muslim is KNOWLDEGE. Specifically, this means having KNOWLEDGE of what the general signicance and meaning of the words of the ‘Shahadah’ i.e.

    “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasoolulllah

    Translated:

    There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and Muhmmad is His Messenger

    .

    The fact that you indicate you really had no idea what the religion of Islam really meant, seems to indicates perhaps you really did not appreciate and understand above as such were not in a position to fulfill the first condition of declaring your belief in Islam i.e. perhaps you did not acquire and have sufficient general KNOWLEDGE about the meaning of the above words to be able understand and to accept and declare meaningfully or truthfully and with certainty, sincerety and love the words “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasool ulllah’.

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  67. Frank, i am going to be frank with you. You think that this guy will eventually stop practicing islam, but what you think doesn’t matter because you don’t know the future. If you converted for a few months then gave it up just because you don’t know Arabic, i must tell you that this was not the smartest thing you have done. You could have learned Arabic instead. But the problem wasn’t you not knowing Arabic, but rather islam didn’t enter your heart to begin with and you weren’t really a sincere muslim by heart. If you choose to argue otherwise that you did accept islam sincerely and it entered your heart, then you would have put in some effort and learned Arabic if that was the real problem. If you thought that “Tariq Mahmood brought up a good point” then i assume you are “Tariq” himself just using a different email and a different computer with a different ip address. If you are having trouble understanding the “dog” issue, it is because you aren’t comprehending the mercy of Allah.

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  68. ComplexitySimplified

    Frank

    2) Continued from above..

    These short words (7 words in total, but whose weight in meaning and significance in Islam, is more than the weight of the heavens and the earth put together) underpin the very foundation and essence of Islam.

    If you study and understand nothing else about Islam, and if you haven’t done so already, you owe it to yourself and your eternal future to study deeply the meanings and implications of these words.

    Perhaps this link would be a good starting point in trying to understand what “Laa ilaaha il Allah, Muhammad Rasool ulllah’ means:

    http://abdurrahman.org/faith/faithmuttaqun.html

    That is the starting point. All the Prophet’s of Allah (God) including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad (peace be upon them all) were sent by Allah without exception to call the people first and foremost to “Laa ilaaha il Allah” – that there is abosolutely no deity in truth worthy of worship except Allah (the One who Created all that exists including you, me, the planets and stars etc).

    The meaning of the word ‘worship’ in Islam is broadly:

    Doing everything that which is Commanded, pleasing and made permissible by Allah and abstaining from all that is forbidden and displeasing to Allah.

    It is thus by submitting ourselves to the Commands and Prohibitions and Guidance of Allah (our Creator) that we are Muslims ‘i.e. those that submit to the Will of Allah’.

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  69. ComplexitySimplified, I knew the basics I would say, but not knowing the language you really have NO idea what the Koran says. The Koran is in Arabic, I don’t know any Arabic. I have to get my information from a translation of Arabic, and that is an individuals interpretation, a person I don’t even know. So I have to trust their word, so much they become a prophet or God. From my understanding Arabic is nothing like English, a word in Arabic might have a dozen meanings, and there is not a word in English equal to it. You also just can’t repeat the Shada and become a Muslim. It is not that simple, you have to follow the Koran and Sunnah, which are both in Arabic, and can’t be properly translated into English. So I would basically be like a chicken with my head off.

    Abd-Allah, You’re a liar, I’m not the Tariq guy, I thought he made a valid point, and he wasn’t apologist, something I respect more then a blind follower. When you talk about Islam “entering my heart” you’re talking silly. That is nothng more than a saying, you can’t measure it or deem it true or false. I don’t have the time or ability to learn Arabic. It was one of the hardest languages in the world to learn.

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  70. ComplexitySimplified

    Hmm.. many of my post here seem to be getting lost….

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  71. ComplexitySimplified

    Ok the last one worked – I wont retype the several other lenthier posts just in case this doesnt go through either

    Frank, in short:

    1) Don’t let the lack of knowledge of arabic lead you to forfeit eternity. Many hundreds of millions of Muslims cope with Islam without having knowledge of arabic
    2) Many people have come to Islam after recognising the truth of Islam from reading translations of the Quran in langaugaes ther than arabic.
    3) I agree Quran in other than arabic is not ideal but it is not a barrier to not understanding the key aspects of Islam
    4) If the translations in e.g. English were wrong then our Arab brothers and sisters who also speak arabic would let us know and in fact many of the translated versions in e.g. English are printed in Arab countries
    5) Before trying to master the Quran in Arabic its important to get sound understanding of the basics of Islam start with exploring the meanings of the Shahadah in greater depth
    6) Explore and study Tawheed and what negates it in terms of Shirk
    7) Begin with small steps and study the fundamentals

    The below is a good article providing greater depath of understanding to the words of the Shahahdah

    http://abdurrahman.org/faith/faithmuttaqun.html

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  72. peace be upon them who follow guidance.
    Dear bro and sis from all communities. We are now on the verge of danger because we have started pointing and judging about each other. Ya Ikhwanul muslimun, plz don use the words “REVERT” and “CONVERT” to describe a new muslim instead plz use “embrace” because it has the most soothing meaning.
    For non-muslims, I strongly recommend you to read the translation and explanation of the al-Quran and Hadith(the sayings of the prophet(pbuh)) in ur mother tongue if u don know arabic. Personally, I don know arabic but I can recite the Quran provided some problems in tone. So wt to do in this case, should I leave Islam since I don know arabic? Ya bro. and sis. read one hour and try to think two hours what is the implication of this life? Is it mere for the pursuit of WORLDLY happiness? I hope you will find the answer if you really wish to…

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  73. Let me share a hadith of prophet regarding a jew prostitute who will enter the heaven.
    The story begins like the following, “one day a prostitute was passing by through a deserted way during a scorching sunny day. She found a dog on the way almost dead due to thirst. So she selflessly opened her shoe and poured water into it and helped the dog drink to revive. Thus Allah(SWT) became pleased with her deed and granted a place for her in paradise”.

    Now my questions to all who practise healthy knowledge. Do u know why that worldly whore would be placed in Paradise? Firstly, there was no existence of correct revelation at that time due to distortion. So the lady didn have any knowledge regarding her occupation whether it was bad. In addition, verily Allah(SWT) says in the Quran He will not punish anyone unto whom no prophet was sent. This clearly indicates that Allah(SWT) will judge everything according to His revelation.

    Moreover, someone can say ya taban akhi the prophet didn come to my country and even he didn know my language, so how come Allah will punish me? The answer is crystal clear that the prophet’s duty was to send the message to people and the the prophet did so. You will find Islamic books throughout the world if u really intend to. Now it’s ur duty to decide in which way u wanna proceed.

    Hope this will give u an insight in the “DOGS” matter. Again I urge to everyone, plz read 10 mins and think 20 mins.

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  74. Specially to bro Frank. Bro. if u r interested in Islam, plz read the tafseer and translation of th Quran that are available in ur mother tongue. U don need to know arabic to learn about Islam. If u see around the world, u will find most of the people who embraced Islam did not know arabic.
    So plz explore ur mind through proper way.

    I pray and hope Allah(SWT) will help u understand Islam if u try ur best to understand it.

    “A knowledgeable ignorant will never find the truth “

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  75. ComplexitySimplified and Tarique Hamid,

    You helped clear up a number of things I did not completely understand, although in my heart I knew that Allah’s Apostle (sallalahu alaihi wassalam), by his example, was fair and just, so I never had a problem taking him at his word and following his Sunnah as best I could, even where I was conflicted.

    I want to be among the successful, at the Right Hand of Allah (swt) and comfortable in the shade on the Day when there is no shade besides Allah’s shade. I’m also scared of Hellfire.

    May Allah (swt) grant you brothers a goodly reward for helping me learn my Deen as I EMBRACE Islam in the hope that I will, Insha’llah, be embraced by my Creator, forever, in Paradise.

    I realize your explanation of Qur’an and Hadith might not have been directed at me, but in making things clear to the other brothers (may Allah guide them rightly) you solved a number of my issues. Thanks, dudes.

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  76. I was actually told I was supposed to convert to Islam first, then start to really learn things. The people said I could die that day, and I should convert right there and then. I wanted to have a better understanding of things, but people gave me different advice. I had no idea how to do the prayers, and all the stuff based on the sunnah. I was told I wouldn’t have to change anything in my culture that didn’t go against Islam, but with the Sunnah you basically have to live like an Arab. You have to dress like one, eat like one, sleep like , go to the bathroom like one, etc. It feels akward using Arabic words and stuff like that, when it is not my language or culture. People here say read the Koran in English, I have , I just cant get passed the archaic English used in it. That is just the religious aspects, then you have to deal with the cultural stuff. As a white guy going into a mosque you get stared at like you are from another world….. LOL!

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  77. @Frank
    I just cant get passed the archaic English used in it.

    If you post your address, I can send you simplified english version of the translation done by Abdullah Yousuf Ali.

    May Allah bless you, Asalamalaikum.

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  78. Frank, the fact that you think that islam entering your heart is silly is the proof itself that islam never really entered your heart. Learning Arabic isn’t hard if you really want to, and by you saying that you don’t have the time and ability to learn says one thing, that you don’t really want to learn. I know many people who learned Arabic and became fluent in it in a very short period of time. You see, when you became muslim, you should have understood that you have to do good and put in the effort in this life to be rewarded for it in the hereafter, but it is clear from the way you understand things and the fact that you’re not a muslim anymore just because you don’t know Arabic, that you never really understood what islam is about and it never entered your heart. If Arabic was the real problem, you would have found the time and effort to invest in learning if you truely wanted to learn, but Arabic was never the real problem.

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  79. Hey, Frank:

    Dude, anyone who doesn’t welcome you to the Mosque with open arms and a great big smile is not doing what they’re supposed to do. I’m sorry you got what I called “Arab Culture Shock” when you tried to embrace Islam, but don’t worry. There are things you can do to make it easy for you.

    The first Qur’an translation I ever read was by M. H. Shakir. His English is more modern than the “thee…thou…thy” kind of Shakespearean English of the other translations. I also got a book called “The Everything Understanding Islam Book,” by Christine Dodge. It’s just a guide, from an objective observer (so may Allah, the Exalted, forgive me if anything I’m recommending is wrong), but it helped me out big time.

    However, once I had a basic understanding of what I was saying in the prayers IN ENGLISH, learning them in Arabic was just a matter of listening to tapes (and MP3s via the internet) until I had it down.

    Think of it this way: if you were a professional football player, you’d have to be at work at a certain time, every game day, and put on a uniform. You’d have to learn the language of the playbook, line up with your teammates, and help them make the plays, whether you were blocking, defending, tackling, running the ball, passing, catching or kicking it. You have a place in the community of Believers. Insha’llah (God willing), you will find that place, then ultimately take your place in Paradise!

    While I’m glad I don’t have to wear traditional Arab garb to the Mosque, it just makes sense, to me, to look presentable, like I’m going before God. If you were going before a judge, and your freedom depended on how you presented yourself, I’m pretty sure you’d rock a suit and tie. You don’t even have to be that formal at the Mosque.

    The coolest Imam I ever met was a white guy from Oklahoma named Suhaib Webb. Now, I love my Arab, Asian and African brothers just the same, for Allah’s sake, but this dude was like, “Yeah, one day I was smokin’ a blunt with one of my boys, and he said, ‘If Jesus was God, who did HE pray to?’ And that was what made me look into it.” I had already taken Shahada by the time I met Shaikh Suhaib, but that dude broke it down as only he could. I strongly recommend you go to his blog, suhaibwebb.com, go to where it says “contact Br. Suhaib” and send him an e-mail.

    I’m also quite sure the good brothers at this site, particularly Br. Amad, could help you out just as much. The Qur’an says God created us in all different colors, so that let me know Islam is not just for one race or one culture, but EVERYBODY.

    Take your time, Frank. One baby step at a time is all Allah, the Exalted, expects any of us to take. I read a Hadith that said that Allah, the Exalted, said “I am as My servant sees Me…if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” That, to me, means that the Creator is whatever you believe him to be. I, personally, believe He is the Most Merciful and the Most Forgiving. Which means He knows what’s in my heart and He knows this stuff is kind of hard to get used to, especially if you grew up in America. So, Insha’llah, He will forgive me if it takes a minute.

    May Allah (subhana wa t’ala) make it easy for you, and may He forgive me if I have in any way led you wrong.

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  80. Peace be upon them those who follow guidance(Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah)
    Thanks a lot bro Frank for sharing your ur experience and dilemma with us. Firstly, I wanna know whether you have any interest towards Islam at present? I am asking you because I found your writing in past tense. But I pray and hope Allah(SWT) has already instilled the zeal for Islam in your heart.

    Bro. I also find myself sometimes in trouble to read some translations and to listen to advices. But what to do? This is life we have to deal with them, do we? I think you know better answer than I do.

    The most remembered hadith is “Result depend on intention(Innamal a’malu binniyah)”. So if someone asks you to embrace Islam from his/ her core of heart, he/she didn do any mistakes because death is so imminent that we can not predict when we r gonna die. So isn it better to embrace Islam as earlier as possible if u hv inclination towards it. I shared a hadith earlier in my writing regarding a jew boy who embraced islam just prior to his death and there are also many authentic examples like that one.

    By the way you do not need to read the complicated translation, u had better manage some easy translation of the Quran and Hadith e.g. the NOBLE QURAN(with arabic and english text). The prime thing to realize Islam is to read and think of it alone. U don need to go here and there to ask some people regarding Islam since there are many authentic and easily explained books. Allah(SWT) has said several times in the Quran regarding reading and thinking. He(SWT) says He(SWT) surely shows the way to them who ponder over His creations. So dear bro. read and think of it with proper intention.

    Regarding culture, culture is a horrible thing because it makes people inherit some distinctive attitudes and attributes towards other culture. But, Islam has only one culture. it doesn necessarily mean that u gotta wear long robe and other staffs. In Islam, men need to cover from their navel to knee(compulsory). But can you go outside of your home wearing just a shorts. In this stage, we need to know Islamic etiquette which will show us how to dress, how to eat and so on. Let me share a story what I heard from a old man who went to America for his study. He told many amercian toilets didn have cleaning pipe or hand shower to clean arse after defecation. So he was in severe problem on the first day due to that condition. But he used to have shower from the next day after each defecation…

    Why did he used to shower each time after his excretion? Answer Islam. There is an authentic hadith that says’CLEANLINESS IS A PART OF FAITH’. So every practising Muslim is bound to keep himself/herself clean. For example, I use toilet tissue and water after each defecation and passing urine and so do my family members. But there are anomalies, for example if we go somewhere where there is no proper arrangement of water, we use only tissues. To be truthful I hv never faced this situation because water is available and ofcourse if u check my pockets, u will certainly get tissue papers.

    So cleanliness is up to you provided that u follow proper etiquette. After this, we need to focus on general Islamic ethics. Umm, wt does it say? It says about character and how to build it, but one of the most important things is the prophet’s saying. The prophet(pbuh) said:”A person who believes in Allah and the Hereafter should speak about good things or else should keep quiet”(Bukhari). Ti means either we should practise constructive things or keep quiet.

    So plz don mix up between cultures. Prophet(SWT) says, ” An Arab is not superior to non-Arab and an Arab is not inferior to an non-Arab”. So there is no cast system in Islam as well as there no black-white discrimination. Plz don judge the Islam seeing me and other rather than refer to the prescribed books for authentication.

    Hope that answer you.

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  81. Sorry for my encyclopedic writing. Basically what I pointed out in my prior writing are as followings
    a) If u find difficulty to read the translation of the Quran and Hadith, plz try to find the easy one e.g. the noble Quran(to me).
    b) if you wanna know about Islam, you have to read urself. Because Islam doesn have any priesthood system. So u have to explore urself.
    c) Practising islam does mean u gotta wear long robe and turban and so on. The basic covering for men is from navel to knee. I am writing to u wearing a shorts but I can not meet you with this dress. Why? Islamic etiquette.

    I am an aerospace engineering student in INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA and I think it is a great opportunity for me about Islam since we have very big library and a good number of world famous scholars. Pray for me plz because I am goin through my final exams.

    I apologize to you if I hurt you in any way and ask refuge to Allah(SWT) from unscrupulous and irrelevant things.

    Verily Allah(SWT) says in the first revelation,”Read by the name of your Lord”. So plz READ AND THINK

    Thanks
    Maassalam

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  82. Bro I found one copy translation of the al-Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

    TITLE:”The meaning of THE HOLY QURAN”
    I am just quoting a verse from chapter no 49.
    “O mankind! We created you from a single(pair) of a male and a female, and make you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other(not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well-acquainted(with all things)”(49:13)

    All the translation in this book is as much easy as above one. hope u will find a copy soon.

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  83. AbdAllah, your in the heart stuff is just plain silly. I didn’t go to a mosque, full of people I would never associate with for the life of me, because I wasn’t willed to go there. I was in the mosque today talking with an older guy who was born a Muslim and studied for a lot of years, it atleast appeared that. He knew a lot of Arabic phrases, so I asked him if he could read the Koran and actually translate words, he told me “No, I can’t.” So that shows you Arabic is not something you can just pickup on a whim. I don’t have the time to give up my life and study Arabic, I do have bills to pay and have to eat. The English translation of the Koran is not the Koran, it is just the translators interpretation. So I am learning from this guy today, and he never read the Koran in his life, because he don’t know Arabic.

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  84. Act like a GUEST

    Abd-Allah

    Perhaps if you can explain to me what difference does it make if i use bold or not and why does it irritate you so much when i use it a lot, then perhaps it would help me remember your wishes and not use it.

    Sorry to say this, but when you enter a house and the host tells you to take shoes off, do you keep insisting why host wanna u to take off shoes??

    its simple request that you keep ignoring… i also find annoying having so much bold text, it is like u r shouting.

    just stop it.

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  85. Frank:

    Peace be unto you.

    You can download the Oxford translation of the Quran here:

    http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?nkey2yqygyq

    It’s the best translation in English that I have seen, by far. It’s in simple English. Take a gander at it, God-Willing. I don’t like the Yusuf Ali translation either, and I don’t blame you for thinking it’s archaic, awkward, and cumbersome. On the other hand, I *love* this Oxford translation.

    Best of luck.

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  86. As salamallakum to all my muslim brothers.

    It is wonderful to see non-muslims taking their shahadah. May Allah reward them and keep them on the straight path.

    Muslims beware of shaton (devil) he is an open enemy to you. We are muslims and shaton hates that. Brothers keep believing in Allah.
    I love all muslims for the sake of Allah. My heart is filled with joy to hear muslims bloging about Islam. Keep up the good work.
    And don’t fall into the trap of shaton.

    Currently my brother is possessed with a jinn. When I start talking to my brother and tell my brother the jinn has no powerand and when I call the azan and recite al nas the jinn response to me. . The jinn will say you are reciting al nas wrong and then the jinn will correct me. The reason why I mention my brother is because the shaton is tricky so don’t fall into his trap.

    If I said anything wrong it is from myself, if I said anything good it is from Allah.

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  87. “I don’t have the time to give up my life and study Arabic, I do have bills to pay and have to eat.”

    Frank, this statement indicates that you lack the basic understanding of islam and what it encompasses. Enjoy your life!

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  88. Dear Brother Abd-Allah,

    I’m quite sure our brothers love you, for Allah’s sake, so don’t get frustrated by all the flak you’re getting.

    It is not my intention to make light of our host’s wishes that we not type in bold, and no disrespect to brother Frank, either. I just hope you don’t take their comments too hard and stop dropping jewels of information. Some of us ARE learning from what you say–bold type or not.

    I’m sure our host just wants us to stick to the rules, and as for Frank, I don’t think he understands what he’s REALLY giving up when he says, “I don’t have the time to give up my life and study Arabic, I do have bills to pay and have to eat.” I pray that he isn’t one of those with that dreaded seal, like in 2:7 and 63:3 Insha’llah, he’ll realize that he doesn’t have to give up anything but what’s haram, and he’ll take your advice.

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    • Frank, this statement indicates that you lack the basic understanding of islam and what it encompasses. Enjoy your life!

      Abd-Allah, this is not the way to advise people with condescending remarks. You have provided a lot of good information on these pages, but at the same time, we have to be careful in our dealings. Learning Arabic is an optional, albeit highly recommended part of learning Islam. But it is not mandatory. There are many things Muslims can and need to learn before learning Arabic. Many times we get so tunnel-visioned about learning Arabic, that we completely freeze in our quest for knowledge “until we learn Arabic”. Alhamdulilah, we have tons of material translated into English now. If Muslims who don’t know Arabic can just read and practice 50% of what is available in English, then that would be a great thing in itself.

      We have to take it easy and slow with our brothers and sisters. Converts have climbed a huge mountain to just take the shahadah. We suddenly want them to become sahaba overnight, while many of us born Muslims don’t start practicing properly, being in the religion from the day we were born.

      So, Br. Frank, take it easy. I do understand where you are coming from. Islam does not ask us to leave our worldly responsibilities aside and focus 100% on deen. In fact, earning a good living becomes a worship if done with the proper intention. First focus on the 5 pillars of Islam, when you can go beyond that, then start slowly on what you can and are able to do.

      wallahualam

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  89. JazakAllah kheir for the brothers that gave me advice, we all need it.

    If I was condescending then I do apologize as that was not my intention.

    As for the issue of Arabic, the only reason why I was emphasizing that the solution to Frank’s problem was learning Arabic is because he said that this was what made him stop practicing islam, because according to him, you need to know Arabic to be a muslim. I never meant that learning Arabic is something obligatory on all muslims, but if Frank wants to use the excuse that he doesn’t know Arabic therefore he can’t practice islam, then if that was the real problem he could have simply learned Arabic. That was all what I meant.

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  90. Peace be upon them those who follow guidance

    I hv already written not to follow any particular muslim like me or others. Because many Muslims by name don practise Islam now-a-days. So if u ask someone whether he can read Quran is redundant in a sense that he himself doesn know wt to do.

    So if u wanna know Islam, u gotta read books written on it. If u don like the “Translation” of the Quran on the basis of mere assumptions that translation and The Quran are not same, how u gonna learn it? Even many Arabian people don know how to read the Quran, let alone others non-practising muslims. So, u can not learn anything without mother tongue. So if gotta understand the concept in ur mother tongue first.

    Moreover, Allah(SWT) says in the Quran to argue in the best possible way avoiding any kind of harsh words. So we had better try our best to spread the message since the prophet(pbuh) says,”spread the message even if it is one verse”. then pray to the Most Compassionate and the Omniscient to show the right way to our beloved brothers and sisters. if u see around the world, u will find most of the best contributions for DAWAH are done by our most beloved and respected new-Muslim brothers and sisters.

    So, let us pray for them those who ponder over creation to know the real DEEN. May Allah bless us all with His infinite mercy and forgiveness.

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  91. This statement �There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet� is not the Shihadah.

    The Islaamic Shihadah is:
    ‘Ash-hadu ‘an laa ‘ilaaha ‘illallaahu
    wadahu laa sharika lahu
    wa ‘ashadhu ‘anna Muhammadan
    ‘abduhu wa Rasuuluhu

    ALLAAH SUBHANA WATA A’ALA created all the exists, the Heavens (galaxies) and the EARTH, of Jinn, woomen, children, and men.

    It’s ISLAAM, not Islam.

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