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Ramadan Sin-O-Meter: The Results




Now that Eid has come and gone, I thought it might be worth briefly revisiting my recent Ramadan: The Ultimate Sin-O-Meter post with a post-Ramadan self-assessment.

Ever since publishing the entry – first to a small, intimate audience on my personal blog, then to a much larger one here, on MuslimMatters – I have experienced such pangs of fear and dread; truly, I have never felt such a burden with any previous article, as I have with this one. All because I must take my own advice, else subhanallah, my punishment will be doubled: once for returning to the sin that I only temporarily gave up during Ramadan, and the second for my blatant hypocrisy.

So, to help prevent me from committing such a gross act, I have compiled a short list of things to definitely stay away from, or at least minimise, in relation to my behaviour during Ramadan, i.e, my own “what I didn’t do during Ramadan” list.

What iMuslim Didn’t Do During (Most of) Ramadan – and Should Not Do From Now On (insha’Allah):

  • iMuslim didn’t watch TV, except for the odd bit of News.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her e-mail 50 times a day, only to find junk mail/no e-mail.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her feed reader 60 times a day, only to find no new entries/entries worth reading.
  • iMuslim didn’t check her Facebook 70 times a day, only to… well, c’mon… it’s Facebook! Self-explanatory.
  • iMuslim didn’t write ridiculous, self-indulgent blog entries on her personal blog, that waste other people’s time, as well as her own.
  • iMuslim didn’t do several other things, that she will keep between herself and her Lord; May He envelop her in the Veil of His Mercy, in this life and the next. Ameen.

iMuslim also made many, many mistakes, which she prays will be forgiven. Ameen.

Returning to the first person narrative: the summarised version of my post-Ramadan resolution is to not waste so much time with TV and the net, insha’Allah.

The “no TV” thing is not as strict as it may sound. My TV watching habits were already limited to “family-friendly” viewing prior to Ramadan – though that is virtually impossible due to the lewd nature of far too many TV adverts, no matter what time of the day it is. Pretentious perfume ads are one of the worst culprits; does anyone actually buy these overpriced brands after watching their inane ads? I wonder if they are intentionally made to be the stupidest, twenty seconds of television ever dared to be broadcast? I think the producers compete in how lame and incomprehensible they can make them, as part of one massive industry in-joke that’s all on us, the viewers at home: “Nya-ha, they actually take in this rubbish!”.

Okay, mini-rant ends here.

My point is, TV is dodgy in its content, yes. But for me, the main problem lies in the fact that it is the hugest time-waster; even when I pretend to myself that what I am watching is really ‘educational’. Yeah, cos witnessing two grown men blow up a cement truck with a load of TNT teaches me a lot about life, the universe and everything (classic MythBusters).

Unfortunately, as is usually the case when trying to break free from addictions to mood-altering drugs, I have to come to rely on the TV in order to unwind my mind, thus making it harder to quit ‘cold-turkey’ under normal, non-Ramadan circumstances.

But I know I can live without it. I have done so in the past, at least for several months (a previous post-Ramadan resolution which eventually lapsed). And the thing I best remember about that brief period was all the time that suddenly became available to me – I didn’t know what to do with myself as first! I don’t think I was even blogging back then, or very internet crazy.

I am always claiming that I am “far too busy”, or “I don’t have the time” (sound familiar?); but previous experience has proven that I have a huge treasure trove of time at my disposal, if I simply choose to cut out the “shaytaan box“, as my dear mum calls it!

I mean, let’s look at the facts.

During Ramadan, I spent at least a couple of hours at the masjid each night for Eesha and Taraweeh prayers, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

TV Time!

And I spent a few more precious moments engaged in reciting Qur’an, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

TV Time!

And I found myself listening to more beneficial talks and reading several inspiring articles, masha’Allah – where did that time come from?

{waits for the audience’s response}

Yup, you guessed it: Shaytaan box time!

Perhaps folks are so used to hearing pious ‘uncle-gees’, and somewhat scary-looking mullahs (who most likely are the sweetest men around), telling them that “TV is haraam, TV is haraam, astagfirullah!“, it is immediately assumed that these well-meaning people are overreacting – as they always do – with the added thought: “Yaar, don’t you know I am a grown-up? Stop patronising me!”.

But maybe we are not as grown up as we’d like to think. If we really sat down and thought about such matters for a few minutes – without letting our egos get in the way – we’d come to a similar conclusion: if we dare. Just without so much of the dreaded finger-wagging (a humble note to the respected uncle-gees and mullahs who like to exercise that forefinger a little too much outside of the tashahud! hehe).

I can’t promise TV is gone forever from my life, as it is still in my house… waiting… ready to tempt me into its deadly, mind-numbing snare, as the wretched siren sweetly summons the weary sailor to his doom (erm, I got a little too poetic there, methinks!). Insha’Allah, I do hope to one day live in a TV-free zone. But then, clamping down on my internet time-wasting is also a goal that must be pursued. It’s all part of a bigger picture. But the good news is, it can be done!

As many a wise person before me has advised: the best way to give something bad up, is to replace it with something good. Thus I’ll be investigating such halal alternatives over the next few weeks, while the Ramadan spirit is still alive; any tips from recovering, ex-TV junkies are most welcome, insha’Allah!

So, what did you give up during this Ramadan? X-Box? PS3? Nintendo Wii? Doom (or whatever weird, crazed, first person, kill-everything-that-moves-type computer game is in fashion these days – I hate those things!)? You don’t need to share it here. Just take a brief time-out from all the rockin’ Eid festivities to think about what you’re potentially letting back into your life, now that Ramadan has passed.

Isn’t it time that you studied the results of your own personal Ramadan Sin-O-Meter?

Dr Mehzabeen b. Ibrahim joined MuslimMatters as a blogger in late 2007 under the handle 'iMuslim', whilst still a struggling grad student. Since then, she has attained a PhD in Molecular Biology and a subsequent Masters in Bioinformatics, and now works as a specialist in this field for a well-known British, medical charity, masha'Allah. Somewhere in between she found the time to get married, alhamdulillah. She likes to dabble in photo and videography, a sample of which can be found on her personal blog:



  1. Avatar

    Nihal A. Khan

    October 4, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    there was once a time i forced myself not to watch TV for 8.5 months straight, alhamdulillah….i really miss those days :)

  2. Avatar


    October 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM

    assalaamu ‘alaykum

    i gave up facebook during ramadhan also and now that i’m back on ( it’s v. useful for islamic events and activism and keeping in touch with other sisters ) I only log in 1 time a day alhamdulilaah so that is a better habit! :-) alhamdulilaah!

    gave up t.v. and movies for good after ilm summit and the habit continued during and after ramadhan alhamdulilaah.

    improved my relationship with al-qur’aan because i read from an arabic/english one so each ayah i read in arabic, I read the meaning right after and could connect so well with what Allaah was telling me.

    jazaaki Allahu khairen for sharing your experiences!

  3. Avatar


    October 5, 2008 at 12:58 AM

    we don’t even have a tv at our home!

  4. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 1:35 AM

    bismillah. alhamdolillah, after hurricane ike, we lost power and after power was restored we found we had still lost our satellite dish reception.

    alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal. until tonight. my sisters and their husbands were visiting our home, and their discontentment without TV was palpable. then Allah subhanahu wata ala gave the hours they spent trying to turn back on the dish success, and that evil has not been off since.

    may Allah guide my parents and my sisters, and their families, and those of all the Muslims to realize how evil it is to bring into their homes hundreds of channels filled with smut and obscene speech. and may He do so before they have great cause to regret it.

    anyone who has ever heard Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef’s khutbah “Regret” knows that the TV and music are causes for a Muslim to become so distant from his deen that he may die on other than la ilaha illAllah, and what good would regret be in that case? do the people of hellfire not “regret” their past lives when they realize the folly of it all?

    Allah Says in Surah an-Naba:

    إِنَّا أَنذَرْنَاكُمْ عَذَاباً قَرِيباً يَوْمَ يَنظُرُ الْمَرْءُ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ وَيَقُولُ الْكَافِرُ يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنتُ تُرَاباً
    Sahih International: Indeed, We have warned you of a near punishment on the Day when a man will observe what his hands have put forth and the disbeliever will say, “Oh, I wish that I were dust!”

  5. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 11:05 AM

    and as much as i stay away from TV, a new “time-suck” in my life has been, of all things, this site. subhanAllah. :) audho bilAllahi minash shaytanir-Rajim. wa audho bilAllahi min shururi anfusinaa wa min sayyiaati amaalinaa.

    and may Allah Guide the authors of this site, and those who visit it. and may He forgive the Muslims among us for our sins and excesses (including excess time spent here), strengthen them (in all good things, including things not done here), and give us victory over kufr (including the evil of the sneaking whisperer). ameen.

  6. Avatar


    October 5, 2008 at 11:26 AM

    In the name of Allah,

    I do not have a TV and I do not listen to Music obsessively. But usually after an hour or two of work I listen to a piece of music by the composer Yanni.
    I do not think music in itself can be called haram. You can waste your time listening to music or browsing the web, so why is music haram while browsing the web not?
    Also, why is it not haram to watch a movie that stimulates an awful lot of negative emotions within oneself and contains murder while it is haram to listen to some peace-bringing and inspiring music?

    I think our scholars should first understand the thing they want to make haram. Most things can be used for good and for bad.

    I rarely watch movies because most are stupid or boring, or they contain Zionist propaganda.
    And alhamdulillah I have made it my personal rule to read one Juz’ of Quran everyday, no exceptions. And I think that everyone who calls himself/herself a Muslim should do the same or more. In Surah Al-Muzzammil there is a mention of how the Prophet (saw) and his friends used to stay up one third of a night, or half the night, or two thirds of it, praying and reading Quran. Who does that these days?

  7. Avatar


    October 5, 2008 at 11:43 AM

    Music was not made haram by scholars but rather by Allah azawajal. Please see here inshaaAllah, jazaakallahu khairan for your good intentions and willingness to learn about the Deen of Allah:

    The End of Music by Kamal ElMakki

  8. Avatar


    October 5, 2008 at 1:41 PM

    I don’t even know why I have a tv, except for watching hockey (which is only half the year). I went through seven years without one, and the one I have now rarely turns on for anything other than sports… news, weather, and anything else somewhat interesting and informative is all available through the internet now, so I really think it’s only a matter of time before I can break away from tv ownership again. Of course, internet is an even bigger waste of time if we let it be, so perhaps it’s not the medium that’s the problem but ourselves..

  9. Avatar

    Bint Bashir

    October 5, 2008 at 2:32 PM

    I think the main difference is when Ramadan arrives we think of what we are going to do to improve ourselves that month and Alhumdulilah we do it, but when Ramadan finishes we start to return to our old habis, although i have never been a big fan of TV, the fact it is there i should change.

    I would like to try to have it so that, not watching tv etc is not a new thing for me, but that i never do it, not that when ramadan arrives we change it but only for a short time, so that it becomes the norm!!

    May Allah make this easy for us inshaAllah.

  10. Avatar

    AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    October 5, 2008 at 7:28 PM

    bismillah. so after thinking about my last post in this thread, i promised myself not to return to MM until i had done something good. and alhamdolillah, i did a few things including reading two pages from the mushaf.

    shaykh waleed basyouni mentioned in his friday khutbah at the end of Ramadan that one of the things that makes doing good deeds easier in Ramadan is that all the Muslims are doing good deeds at the same time. fasting is easier, for example, because everyone is fasting.

    alhamdolillah, we do not need to join the people of bidah who make difficult-to-fulfill pledges and burden themselves with ibadat that are not fard already. so i am not encouraging anyone to make bayah or to make a pledge to do extra fasts, etc. that would be wrong.

    but i will encourage everyone to think about the extra good deeds they did in Ramadan, and think about how to keep up with those good deeds now that Ramadan is gone. for me, for example, that means reading more Qur’an outside Ramadan. alhamdolillah, i am grateful to Allah that He puts it in my heart to read much more Qur’an in Ramadan. and i pray to Allah for steadfastness so that, even if it is less than in Ramadan, i still read a significant amount every day, inshaAllah.

    and i think that setting a personal benchmark each day would be good. as would increasing that goal from time to time.

    and i think that treating my time on this site as a reward for meeting my daily goals would be better than letting my time here delay me. and i will try to keep that in mind with other distractions, though i pray that Allah will keep me steadfast in avoiding TV and similar wastes.

    the difference between MM and TV as distractions is like the difference between a ripe and crunchy apple on the one hand, and a processed-milk-and-cocoa-byproduct-chocolate-bar sweetened with refined sugar on the other. one as they say will keep the doctor away, and the other is a prescription for diabetes.

  11. Avatar


    October 6, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    I sold my PS3 at the beginning of Ramadhan on ebay to stop myself from playing on it- its that addictive.

  12. Pingback: Ramadan Entry - Losing Track! « iMuslim

  13. Avatar


    October 7, 2008 at 5:47 AM

    MashAllah! What an inspiring post :-)!

  14. Avatar


    October 7, 2008 at 1:23 PM

    Thanks everyone for your interesting comments… I have to say, my personal problem now is how to prevent myself wasting time online. Most of my work is computer/online based, and so I don’t even know how to differentiate between useful and wasteful activities half the time!

    Plus it is so easy to be distracted by new e-mails, and people coming onto IM… argh. I think I should only have my necessary applications open – leave the Mail and IM apps closed until my dedicated “break” time. Plus I hate sitting in front of my laptop for so many hours straight… not good!

  15. Avatar


    October 8, 2008 at 9:56 AM

    Mashallah its a great article!
    Subhanallah this article applies to me so well! I alhamdullilah used to watch enough TV and never realize how many I wasted away in my day just watching that devil box. Ever since I stopped watching TV, things like lowering my gaze have become easier, and I have become slightly more immune to the evils around me, especially at university. It also allowed me to find more time for quran and taraweeh. Now, that shaitan has been unlocked the challenge lies in if we can actually persist in doing these so obedient acts, and I have already subhanallah felt shaitans attacks at me!….”its ok keep sleeping, pray fajr when you wake up”, “its JUST sunnah salah”, “just sit and loaft around on the internet, its so HALAL, and CHILLING”.
    Like subhanallah, his attach is full fledged.
    May Allah make it easy for us to fight the dreaded shaitaan for the rest of the year, and maintain the taqwa and piety that we attained during ramadhan.

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Do You Know Why Uzma Was Killed?

#JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

Fatima Asad



Last week, Pakistani society was struggling with the story of the horrific murder of Uzma, a teenager, who worked as a house maid in the city of Lahore. The 16-year-old was allegedly tortured for months and then murdered by the woman she worked for…for taking a bite from the daughter’s plate. #JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

By Fatima Asad

Living in Pakistan, my children realize that within the gates of our neighborhood, they will see no littering, they will not experience water or electricity shortages and certainly, no one will be knocking on the door begging for food or money. The reason they have this realization is because I make it the day’s mission to let them know about their privilege, about the ways they have been blessed in comparison to the other, very real, living, breathing little girls and boys outside those gates. Alas, my children come face to face with those very real people as soon as the gates close behind us.

“Why are there so many poor people in Pakistan, Mommy?” they ask, quite regularly now, unsatisfied with the answers I’ve provided so far. The question perpetually makes me nervous, uncomfortable, and I hastily make a lesson plan in my mind to gradually expose this world’s truths to them… ahista, ahista…(slow and steady).

But on days like these, when we find out about the death of yet another underprivilged young girl (they’re becoming redundant, aren’t they?), on days like these, I want to hold them, shake them, scream at them to wake up!

Wake up, my child! Beta jaag jao.

Do you know why that little girl we see outside, always has dirt on her face and her hair is in visible knots?

It is because, there are too many people who can take a shower anytime they want, who have maids to oil, brush and style their hair.

Do you know why there are children with no clothes on their backs?

It is because, there are too many of us with too many on ours. There are too many of us with walk-in closets for mothers and matching wardrobes for their infant daughters. We obsess about tailors, brands, this collection, last season. How often do we hear or say “can’t repeat that one”, “this one is just not my thing anymore…”

Do you know why there are children with their cheeks sunk deep in their skulls, scraping for our leftovers in our trashcans?

Because there are too many of us, who are overstuffed with biryani, burgers, food deliveries, dinner parties, chai get-togethers, themed birthday cupcakes, and bursting appetites for more, more, more, and different, different, different.

There are too many of us craving the exotic and the western, hoping to impress the next guest that comes to lunch with our useless knowledge of foods that should not be our pride, like lasagna, nuggets, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, pizza, minestrone soup, etc.

There are too many of us who do not want to partake from our outdated, simple traditional cuisines… that is, unless we can put a “cool” twist on them.

Do you know why there are children begging on the streets with their parents? Because there are too many of us driving in luxury cars to our favorite staycation spots, rolling up the windows in the beggars’ faces.

We are rather spent our money of watching the latest movies for family nights, handing out cash allowances to our own kids so they won’t feel left out when going out.

Do you know why there are mothers working during the days and sacrificing their nights sewing clothes for meager coins? Why there are fathers, who sacrifice their sleep and energy to guard empty mansions at the cost of their self-respect? Because there are too many of us attending dance rehearsals for weddings of the friends we backstab and envy. Because there are too many of us binge-watching the latest hot shows on Netflix, hosting ghazal nights to pay tribute to dead musicians and our never-ending devotion for them, and many more of us viciously shaking our heads when the political analyst on TV delivers a breaking report on a millionaire’s private assets.

Do you know why there are people who will never hold a book in their hands or learn to write their own names? Do you know why there will never be proof that some people lived, breathed, smiled, or cried? Because there are too many of us who are given the best education money can buy, yet only end up using that education to improve our own selves – and only our own selves. There are too many of us who wear suits and ties, entrusted with building the country, yet too many of our leaders and politicians just use that opportunity to build their own legacies or secret, off shore accounts.

Do you know why children, yes children, are ripped apart from their parents, forced to provide their bodies and energies so that a stranger’s family can raise their kids? Because, there are too many of us who need a separate maid for each child we birth. Because, there are too many of us who have given the verdict that our children are worth more than others’.

Because, there are too many of us who need a maid to prove to frenemies our monetary worth and showcase a higher social class.

Because, there are too many of us who enslave humans, thinking we cannot possibly spoil our youth, energy and time on our own needs, our own tasks, our own lives.

Because, there are too many of us who need to be comfortable, indulged, privileged, spoiled, educated, satisfied, excited, entertained and happy at the expense of other living souls.

And we do all this, thinking—fooling ourselves into believing— that our comforts are actually a way of providing income for another human being. Too many of us think that by indulging in our self-centered lifestyles, we are providing an ongoing charity for society’s neediest.

Too many of us are sinking into a quicksand that is quite literally killing us. This needs to stop immediately. This accelerating trend of possessing and displaying more isn’t going to slow down on its own- in fact, it’s become deadly. Too many of our hearts have hardened, burnt to char.

More of us need to sacrifice our comforts, our desires, our nafs so others can have basic human rights fulfilled. More of us must say no to blind consumerism, envious materialistic competition and the need for instant gratification so others can live. We may have the potential to turn into monsters, but we have exceedingly greater potential to be empathetic, selfless revolutionaries. Too many of us have been living for the here and now, but more of us need to actively start thinking about the future.

Do we want to raise generations that will break bread with the less fortunate or do we want to end up with vicious monsters who starve and murder those they deem unworthy? The monsters who continue to believe that they have been blessed with more, so others can be given less than they are entitled to.

It is time for change andthe change has to start from within these gates.

#justiceforuzma #justiceformaids


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OpEd: Breaking Leases Into Pieces

Abu Awad



Ali ibn Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)once said, “Know the truth and you’ll know who’s speaking the truth.” 

I am based in Canada and was recently having coffee with friends. In the course of the conversation, a friend (who I consider knowledgeable) said that it’s okay to pay interest on a leased car because interest doesn’t apply to lease contracts. This completely caught me off guard, because it made no logical sense that interest would become halal based solely on the nature of the contract.

I asked him how this can be true and his response was that the lease contract is signed with the dealer and the interest transaction is between the dealer and the financing company so it has nothing to do with the buyer. Again, this baffled me because I regularly lease cars and this is an incorrect statement: The lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company who is charging you directly for the interest they pay the car dealership. Therefore, any lease contract that has interest associated with it is haram. This is the same as saying your landlord can charge you interest for his mortgage on a rental contract and this would make it halal. I tried to argue this case and explain to my friend that what he was saying was found on false assumptions and one should seriously look into this matter before treating riba in such a light manner.

Upon going home that night, I pulled out all my lease contracts (negotiated to 0% mind you) and sent them over to my friend. They clearly showed that a bill of sale is signed with the dealer, which is an initial commitment to purchase but the actual lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company which is charging you interest directly. If this interest rate is anything above zero it is haram (anything which is haram in a large quantity is also haram in a small quantity).

To my dismay, instead of acknowledging his mistake, my friend played the “Fatwa Card” and sent me a fatwa from a very large fatwa body in North America, which was also basing their argument on this false assumption. Fortunately for me, my friend pointed out the hotline number and the day and time the mufti who gave the fatwa would be available to answer questions.

I got in touch with the scholar and over a series of text messages proceeded to explain to him that his fatwa was based on a wrong assumption and for this reason people would be misled into leasing cars on interest and signing agreements with financing companies which are haram.
He was nice enough to hear my arguments, but still insisted that “maybe things were different in Canada.” Again this disappointed me because giving fatwa is a big responsibility – by saying “maybe” he was implying that full research has not been done and a blanket fatwa has been given for all of North America.

It also meant that if my point was true (for both Canada and the United States) dozens of Muslims maybe engaging in riba due to this fatwa.

The next week I proceeded to call two large dealerships (Honda and Toyota) in the very city where the Fatwa body is registered in the US and asked them about paperwork related to leasing. They both confirmed that when leasing a new vehicle, the lease contract is signed with a third party financing company which has the lien on the vehicle and the dealer is acting on the financing company’s behalf.

It is only when a vehicle is purchased in cash that a contract is signed with the dealer. This proved my point that both in the US and Canada car lease contracts are signed with the financing company and the interest obligations are directly with the consumer, therefore if the interest rate is anything above 0% it is haram. I sent a final text to the mufti and my friend sharing what I had found and letting him know that it was now between them and Allah.

1. As we will stand in front of Allah alone on Yaum al Qiyamah, in many ways we also stand alone in dunya. You would think that world renowned scholars and an entire institution would be basing their fatwas on fact-checked assumptions but this is not the case. You would also think that friends who you deem knowledgable and you trust would also use logic and critical thinking, but many times judgment is clouded for reasons unbeknownst to us. We must not take things at face value. We must do our research and get to the bottom of the truth. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says to stand up for truth and justice even if it be against our ourselves; although it is difficult to do so in front of friends and scholars who you respect, it is the only way.

2. There are too many discussions, debates and arguments that never reach closure or get resolved. It is important to follow up with each other on proofs and facts to bring things to closure, otherwise our deen will slowly be reduced to a swath of grey areas. Alhamdulillah, I now know enough about this subject to provide a 360 degree view and can share this with others. It is critical to bring these discussions to a close whether the result is for you or against you.

3. Many times we have a very pessimistic and half hearted view towards access to information. When I was calling the dealerships from Canada in the US,  part of me said: Why would these guys give me the information? But if you say Bismillah and have your intentions in the right place Allah makes the path easy. One of the sales managers said “I can see you’re calling from Toronto, are you sure you have the right place?” I replied, “I need the information and if you can’t give it to me I don’t mind hanging up.” He was nice enough to provide me with the detailed process and paperwork that goes into leasing a car.

Finally, I haven’t mentioned any names in this opinion and I want to make clear that I am not doubting the intentions of those who I spoke to; I still respect and admire them greatly in their other works. We have to be able to separate individual cases and actions from the overall person.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to the truth and rid of us any weaknesses or arrogance during the process.


Ed’s Note: The writer is not a religious scholar and is offering his opinion based on his research on leasing contracts in North America.

Suggested reading:

Muslim’s Guide to Debt and Money Management Part 6

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#Current Affairs

Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah: A Genuine Muslim Voice for Peace

Mufti Mustafa Ceric



By Mufti Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D,

Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia

The essence of the faith of Islam comes from two primary sources: the Qur’an, which is God’s revelation, and the Sunnah, which is the teachings, traditions, and attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. But the nature of Muslims come from their many peoples and tribes:

“O men, God has created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. But, indeed, the most noble of you is the most morally correct among you. God knows and is well informed about everything.” (Qur’an, 49:13).

Thus, the experience of the faith of Muslims is as diverse as the nature of their national and tribal backgrounds. Therefore, both a specific God-given nature and a specific societal experience of Muslims must be recognized and appreciated within a global Islamic civilization, as long as the principle of tawḥīd (oneness of God), as is expressed in Lā il ā ha illa Allah, and the principle of an ultimate nubuwwah (prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him) are properly upheld. This diversity in the unity of the faith of Islam is a blessing for our ummah. Hence, Muslims must see the various natures and experiences of their fellow Muslims as a blessing from God that enriches an overall Islamic culture and civilization in the world.

Inspired by the reality of this blessing, I would like to share with you my perspective which stems from my God-given nature, my war and peace experience as a Muslim in Bosnia and a genocide survivor in Europe, and how I also see myself as belonging to the universal Muslim community today. Indeed, I would like to tell you why I believe that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi, UAE, led by the esteemed Muslim scholar Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, is a right path of Islam and a good program of peace for Muslims around the world.

My testimony is based on my personal nature and my own first-hand experience of war and peace in Bosnia without a need of apology to anyone. It starts from the fact that, during the war and postwar time in Bosnia, it was hard to find a peace initiative from a credible Muslim group or institution to help me engage in dialogue and trust building with others. All the peace initiatives were coming from Christian groups or institutions that, by this very fact, had an advantage in presenting their case. So, when a major Muslim peace initiative was introduced by Sheikh Bin Bayyah in 2014 in Abu Dhabi, I was delighted to be invited to join it. Indeed, I was praying for its success and continuity because rarely do genuine Muslim ideas survive the tremendous pressure of staunch opponents who oppose such initiatives if they are not in— if it’s not their own idea. Fortunately, it seemed that the Forum for Promoting Peace in Abu Dhabi was spared this destiny—until the last, and in my opinion, the best of all Forums so far—the Fifth Forum of 2018. We know from the Qur’an and Sunnah that right and constructive critique is an important aspect of the nature of Islam, but the recent hate-speech and false accusations against the Forum are not in accordance with the nature of Islam and as such are not of an Islamicʼ adab (ethics) and ʼakhlāq (morality).

Let me say that neither the esteemed Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah nor Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is in need of my defense. They are capable and upright people; their lifelong dedication to Islamic work speaks for itself. I feel the need to raise my voice clearly and loudly in defense of the importance of promoting peace, and the work of both esteemed scholars towards that goal. I humbly claim to be aligned with them in this purpose. And we should be grateful to the government of the UAE for supporting this project that has already engaged prominent religious, academic, cultural, and political leaders from around the world and earned their respect and commitment to this cause of peace.

First, no one has a monopoly on peace, but everyone has a duty to promote peace in their own way because, by its very definition, “Islam” is the concept of peace, and thus a “Muslim” is also by definition a peaceful man or woman. Therefore, the Forum for Promoting Peace is an application of this unique and powerful concept of Islam, namely the concept of peace.

Second, no one has a monopoly on tolerance, but everyone has an obligation to learn and teach tolerance in his or her neighborhood and surroundings because Islam is the faith of tolerance, made clear in the Qur’anic injunction: “there is no compulsion in religion” ( lā ikrā h a fī l-dī n) .

Third, no one has a monopoly on dignity, but everyone is entitled to enjoy the right of life (al-nafs), faith (al-dī n), freedom (al-ʿaql), property (al-māl), and dignity (al-ʿirḍ) because Muslim scholars defined these peace-oriented principles, and they did this long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These principles are based on the letter and spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as an amānah (trust) of the entire Muslim ummah, not just a part of it.

Fourth, no one has a monopoly on alliance, but everyone has the right to seek alliance with peace-loving persons and nations based on the example of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who participated in an alliance prior to Islam, known as the ḥilf al-fu ḍūl (the Alliance of Virtues) that he also approved in Islam.

Fifth, no one has a monopoly on democracy, but everyone has the right to speak about democracy, even if they believe it can sometimes lead to tyranny. The Greek philosopher Socrates had that right as well. He used to say that oligarchies become democracies for predictable reasons: “Democracy comes into power,” Socrates says, “when the poor are the victors, killing some and exiling some, and giving equal shares in the government to all the rest.” It’s an “agreeable form of anarchy,” Socrates tells us and adds that “the insatiable desire for freedom occasions a demand for tyranny.”

Sixth, no one has a monopoly on moral preaching, but everyone has a duty to improve his own morality before preaching to others. Islam teaches us that a right moral praxis is better than empty preaching.

And finally, no one has a monopoly on Islam, but everyone has the duty of farḍ ʿayn (personal responsibility) and far ḍkif ā yah (collective responsibility) to behave in such a way that does not corrupt the moral teachings of Islam and does not compromise the right image of Islam and Muslims in the world for the sake of personal gains. The work of Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is their due of farḍ ʿayn and farḍ kifāyah for repairing a damaged picture of Islam and Muslims in the world, due to some irresponsible and militant groups who have claimed to act on behalf of Islam. Those who don’t understand the importance of the message of these scholars are out of touch with reality, and thus, cannot claim to be the right guide for the Muslims, especially in the West. Those among the Muslims, wherever they are, who still support a catastrophic regicide that has happened recently in some major Muslim countries ought to be advised that suicide, individual or collective, is not part of the nature of Islam. Indeed, Islam has never been a religion of destruction. Islam has always been a religion of constructive and inclusive culture and civilization.

Let me say that no Muslim with a good heart and sound mind can be indifferent to what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Myanmar (Burma), and elsewhere, where our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer. But this pain will not be removed by additional destructive ideas that would cripple the rest of the Muslim countries just because some others are in an internal or external conflict. On the contrary, our duty is to do whatever we can to prevent further destruction of the Muslim states and societies. The Muslims today don’t need more Palestines. They need more hearts and minds like Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Indeed, they need more countries and societies like the UAE to support the promotion of peace and security among Muslim societies and others in the world.

And my final note to my Muslim brothers and sisters in the West is not to make a hasty judgment that is instigated by some people (and institutions) who do not have sympathy for Muslims who are suffering. If you cannot help the plight of Muslims today, then at least don’t make the Muslim situation worse than it is. Those who have not tasted the bitterness of war cannot fully appreciate the sweet taste of peace. I have tasted both. Therefore, my dear Muslim brothers, sisters, and friends, wherever you are, pray for peace and support those who work for peace, whoever they may be.

Mustafa Ceric, Ph.D.
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia

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