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Dawah and Interfaith

Dawah to Your Neighbors: Eid Sweets!

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Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM

Recently, a friend of mine and his family were eating at La Madeline. Another customer in the restaurant saw that and become very upset. You see, my friend and his family looked unmistakably Muslim. So, in order to right this “crime against humanity”, the customer vehemently voiced his disapproval of these Muslims having the right to eat in the restaurant. He openly expressed his disgust for these “terrorists” to his fellow customers. Sadly, none of the people in the restaurant stood up in defense of the right of my friend and his family to enjoy their meal. Instead, they continued eating in complacency. But shockingly, this same man complained to the staff about these Muslims being allowed in, and none of the staff denounced his attitude or criticized his prejudice. Instead, they too were complacent, perhaps even tacitly approving his remarks.

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Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. I too have been a target of such hatred on more than one occasion. A couple of times, this hatred directed at me very nearly became physical. If you are familiar with the statistics, perhaps you don’t find this shocking. Over 50% of Americans believe that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence and 46% of people have a problem with Muslims. Maybe you’re not shocked, but as a Muslim, you should certainly be disturbed by the ramifications.

Such an overwhelmingly negative view of Muslims in America and other countries cannot be healthy for our communities’ viability in the long run. Just as the staff of La Madeline was complacent with the notion that Muslims should not be allowed to eat at its establishment, popular opinion could just as easily be complacent with the notion that Muslims should not be allowed to live freely and securely in these lands.

We as Muslims can react in several ways:

  1. Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.
  2. Submit ourselves to the notion that we’re second hand citizens, bare our backs, and take our master’s whipping.
  3. Stand up for our rights, voice our disapproval against such prejudice, and attempt to change public opinion.

In my opinion, Option 3 sounds pretty good. I don’t know about other countries, but the American government guarantees us the right to practice our religion freely. However, if this right is ever threatened, it is up to us to voice our concern or risk living in a society that overlooks these rights when it comes to Muslims. The good news is that there are several segments of society, such as African Americans, that have fought through similar prejudices and have established institutions that are more than willing to help us in our cause. They understand the vital importance of safeguarding the rights of minorities in this country as do a number of Muslim-run organizations working to maintain our civil rights, may Allah aid them in their task. They truly deserve our support.

But what excites me the most is what you and I can do to change the public perception of Muslims at a grassroots level. We all know non-Muslims at a personal level be it at work, school, or in our neighborhood. If they know us to be peaceful, friendly people, there’s no amount of propaganda Fox News can spout to change what they know is the truth. To facilitate this, a number of Muslim organizations have teamed up to help you reach out to the non-Muslims you know: EidSweets.com

What happens next? Check it out at www.EidSweets.com!

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    September 2, 2009 at 1:37 AM

    Alhamdolillah, I think there are many good reasons to participate in EidSweets, for example, being good neighbors — to Muslim and non-Muslim alike, encouraging interest in Ramadan and Eid by bringing it to the attention of non-Muslims in a tasty way, and more.

    Yet, I would suggest that the example you offer in the article actually seems to make it the fault of the Muslim family that they were subjected to such treatment. If they (and all other Muslims) had been making enough effort to ingratiate themselves, perhaps this would not happen. That might build a false expectation among those who give: that the recipients hearts would be softened.

    The Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam was so well-known to and so trusted by the Quraysh that they continued after his prophethood began to entrust him with their amanahs while he lived in Makkah, even while publicly calling him a magician and worse. What Muhammad sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam strived for was good, his reward was from Allah, and that is the best of rewards, the one on which we should always be focused.

    Have that reward in mind when giving these sweets, and do be the best of neighbors regardless of your neighbor’s religion or his treatment of you.

    WAllaho’Alim.

  2. Amad

    Amad

    September 2, 2009 at 6:32 AM

    mashallah
    great idea

  3. Avatar

    DhkrofAllah

    September 2, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    My husband and I gave small gifts to our neighbors last Eid, and it was veryyyy much appreciated by them, alhumdulilah. Eid Sweets does the work for us and all we have to do is order it!! I think we should all support this project since no one is making any profit off of it, masha’Allah!

  4. Avatar

    Amatullah

    September 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    Beautiful mashaAllah :)

  5. Avatar

    MR

    September 2, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    If i was at the restaurant, I’d pull out my handy flip camera hd and record the person and then put it on YouTube (and of course blog it). :-D

  6. Avatar

    Shafique

    September 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    My husband and I gave small gifts to our neighbors last Eid, and it was veryyyy much appreciated by them, alhumdulilah. Eid Sweets does the work for us and all we have to do is order it!! I think we should all support this project since no one is making any profit off of it, masha’Allah!

    SO what exactly did you guys give as gifts to your neighbors last Eid?… Sometimes I find it difficult with food b/c they just might throw it away … and any reading material too might just be thrown away… what is a safe way about doing this…. JazzaKAllah-Khairun

  7. Avatar

    Bint Khalid

    September 2, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Great idea masha Allah!

    I agree with you Shafique…but really, food is one of the things people LOVE to get! I tried it last Ramadan with my neighbors in my apartment building. I didn’t have time to bake/cook so I just went out and bought small cakes and pies and everyone of them appreciated it. I know that can be costly too but it’s really hard to think of anything else. And another reason I bought cakes was so they wouldn’t suspect me putting anything into the homemade stuff I would’ve given them! :P

  8. Avatar

    mcpagal

    September 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Salaam, good idea mA, may Allah reward whoever thought of it! The website says to leave it on your neighbour’s door though… why not go over and have a wee chat?

    • Avatar

      UmA

      September 2, 2009 at 11:30 PM

      When my daughter heard of the Eid sweets idea, she ran with it and has now made like 40 little chiffon/cellophane baggies of wrapped candy with a note card giving a little info on Ramadan, it’ll be equally interesting to see the reaction or lack thereof: let’s see what happens in sha Allah. May Allah reward this effort. Only thing is, many of our neighbours are Chinese or non English speakers, next year we’ll have to have a multilingual notecard, in sha Allah.

      • Avatar

        HalfDate

        September 3, 2009 at 7:38 PM

        assalam alaikum,

        Contact us, HalfDaters (our members) speak different languages.

        We can help your daughter’s project, inshaAllah

        • Avatar

          UmA

          September 3, 2009 at 11:23 PM

          For sure in sha Allah, maybe for Eid ul Ad-ha. Contact via the halfdate.com website?

  9. Avatar

    midatlantic

    September 3, 2009 at 12:32 AM

    “We as Muslims can react in several ways:

    Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.”

    If non-Muslims can get candy this eid, surely the Muslim who goes to a Muslim country seeking Allah’s pleasure has a right to sweeter words than this.

    • Avatar

      EidSweets.com

      September 3, 2009 at 10:21 PM

      You’re totally right. My apologies to any who took offense.

      Jazaakum Allahu khairan for correcting me.

  10. Avatar

    UmmeAmmaarah

    September 3, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    Lovely idea…. ofcourse, I should’ve been doing this all along as part of ‘our neighbours’ rights upon us’, but better late than never :)

    …oh, and I totally agree with giving them something commercially packaged and something they’re more-or-less guaranteed to enjoy, rather than traditional sweets from a different culture (atleast to start with).

    The part that gets uncomfortable : your now-feeling-less-uncomfortable-with-you neighbors reciprocate and send you something, or invite you over, and you have to start the explaining about how you don’t eat certain stuff or launch a not-so-subtle investigation about the contents of the offering. Do lets share some ideas about how to go about it without putting them off…

  11. Avatar

    Bint Khalid

    September 3, 2009 at 6:51 AM

    UmmeAmmaarah:

    Last year, one of my neighbors wanted to bake me something and she straight up asked me if I’d like a home-baked rum cake….and I just politely told her we can’t have anything with alchohol or pork and she was happy that I told her. Afterwards, she kept sending me brownies, cakes and other baked goods and would always let me know that there was nothing haram in it.

    On another occasion, one of my other neighbors sent me something which I was just really weirded out by because I had this strong feeling she had used wine or rum to make it. Sooooooooo, this was probably wrong but I went and gave it as a gift to my other neighbor (knowing those two didn’t know each other!!) because I didn’t want to say no thanks and I didn’t want to ask her and have to explain everything (she was a sweet little old lady!) and I definitely didn’t want to throw it out! Ghetto as it might be, I did it for the sake of Allah :)

    • Avatar

      UmA

      September 3, 2009 at 11:25 PM

      If anyone can confirm, you’re not to give anything to a non Muslim that’s haram for a Muslim , is that correct?

      • Avatar

        Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

        September 4, 2009 at 11:12 AM

        Yes, that is correct.

        To reiterate, anything that is Haraam is Haraam to give nonMuslims as well.

        Wallahu A’lam

        • Avatar

          Bint Khalid

          September 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM

          So if I bought something that had lard or gelatin in it, I just have to throw it away in the trash and not give to those who already eat that stuff (the non Muslims)? Subhan Allah.

          Jazakum Allahu Khairan.

  12. Avatar

    Solomon2

    September 3, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    4. Do nothing in the face of such attacks, and thus demonstrate by example the falsehoods of the accuser.

    Which is what the family did. Doubtless the person yelling made a ridiculous impression. Finding no support, it may be a long time before he tries such a thing again.

    • Avatar

      EidSweets.com

      September 3, 2009 at 10:33 PM

      Actually, the person yelling was being received neutrally at best by the patrons and staff at the restaurant. Some even seem to have had an approving response. It was only until the family complained to the manager, who then voiced his disagreement with the man, that he felt a lack of support and fled the scene. Similarly, it was only until African Americans took (and continue to take) active measures to ensure their rights in America that they were granted the freedoms they enjoy today. Muslims too must do the same, much like how Jafar ibn Abi Talib (radi Allahu ‘anhu) took a stand in the court of Najashi. Our hope is that EidSweets.com may help in this regard, in sha Allah. And Allah knows best.

  13. Avatar

    Abu Yunus

    September 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM

    “1.Soil ourselves and run away crying to find asylum in the nearest Muslim country, where we often have far less rights to practice Islam freely.”

    This is a gross generalization. What rights are you talking about that we aren’t able to practice Islam freely in Muslims countries. In fact, in most Muslim countries, you can practice Islam far better than any dar ul kufr irrespective of how any of these countries glamorize their call to “freedom of religion” which is nothing but paying lipservice.

    Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) wasn’t joking when he said that one’s Islam will always remain deficient so long as one remains in the lands of the kuffar.

  14. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    September 4, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Ooohhhhhh man.

    I got a Jonesing for some EID SWEETS!!! :D

  15. Avatar

    Nadia

    September 4, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    Very good idea mashallah. Although I think I may be more inclined to take some baklava over and have a chat instead, but the concept itself is good mashallah. I know of some Muslims who do this but it’s great that it’s being advocated here. It really can make a difference as to how people see Muslims in our neighborhoods.
    I like the idea of a card though because a conversation can easily be forgotten, so I may give the sweets with a handmade card too. Jazakumullah khayr!
    Just a suggestion: I think a little more text should be added to the card on the website, it seems a little too formal. Maybe explaining the purpose of Ramadan and what Muslims gain from it and at the end signing off with something like ‘Salaam (may peace be with you!)” would be great. Just a little something extra to make it seem more festive.

  16. Avatar

    good neighbour

    September 9, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    This is one of the best and quiet effective way to do dawah. its the sunnah of our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) to share meals and gifts with others, especially with your neighbours. Alhumdulillah i have been doing a newsletter dawah that carries facts and clears misconceptions on Islam and i deliver them into the mailboxes in my neighbourhood, one of the neighbour actually said that how in church they are told not to touch Qur’an being from satan(astaghfirullah). He really appreciated the newsletter and said he looked forward to my next one!

    i share whatever i cook special, with a different neighbor each time and Alhumdulillah Allah Most High has put love in their hearts for us, the only muslim neighbour on the block. Infact the ladies (all non muslims) did a baby shower for me and it shows how Allah softens hearts and binds them. we were new neighbours and i was a newcomer to the country too!

    we must TRY & make an effort to spread the message of islam in whatever way Allah makes us capable of. I am a graphic designer and hence i thought of designing a newsletter with islamic info. The reason i am sharing my story here is i know how easy it is to do the newsletter dawah and wallahi Allah does everything easy for you. just start it and see how it works by His will!

    the link to my newsletter is here: http://myneighbours.wordpress.com/

    open to suggestions and corrections!

    ma’assalam
    sadia

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

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Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Islam

Swallowing Your Pride For A Moment Is Harder Than Praying All Night | Imam Omar Suleiman

Iblees was no ordinary worshipper. He worshipped Allah for thousands of years with thousands of prayers. He ascended the ranks until he accompanied the angels with his noteworthy worship. Performing good deeds was no issue for him. He thanked Allah with his prayers, and Allah rewarded him with a lofty station in Paradise. But when Adam was created and given the station that he was, suddenly Iblees was overcome by pride. He couldn’t bear to see this new creation occupy the place that he did. And as he was commanded to prostrate to him, his pride would overcome him and doom him for eternity. Alas, swallowing his pride for one prostration of respect to Adam was more difficult to him than thousands of prostrations of worship to Allah.

In that is a cautionary lesson for us especially in moments of intense worship. When we exert ourselves in worship, we eventually start to enjoy it and seek peace in it. But sometimes we become deluded by that worship. We may define our religiosity exclusively in accordance with it, become self-righteous as a result of it, and abuse people we deem lesser in the name of it. The worst case scenario of this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one who comes on the day of judgment with all of their prayers, fasting, and charity only to have it all taken away because of an abusive tongue.

But what makes Iblees’s struggle so relevant to ours? The point of worship is to humble you to your Creator and set your affairs right with His creation in accordance with that humility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in their heart would not enter paradise. The most obvious manifestation of that pride is rejecting the truth and belittling someone else. But other subtle manifestations of that pride include the refusal to leave off argumentation, abandon grudges, and humble yourself to the creation in pursuit of the pleasure of the Creator.

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Yaqeen

Hence a person would rather spend several Ramadan’s observing the last 10 nights in intense prayer seeking forgiveness for their sins from Allah, rather then humble themselves for a moment to one of Allah’s servants by seeking forgiveness for their transgressions against him, even if they too have a claim.

Jumah is our weekly Eid, and Monday’s and Thursday’s are our weekly semblances of Ramadan as the Prophet (s) used to fast them since our deeds are presented to Allah on those days. He said about them, “The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who is not a polytheist, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other”

In Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are opened throughout the month and the deeds ascend to Allah. But imagine if every day as your fasting, Quran recitation, etc. is presented to Allah this month, He responds to the angels to delay your pardon until you reconcile with your brother. Ramadan is the best opportunity to write that email or text message to that lost family member or friend and say “it’s not worth it to lose Allah’s forgiveness over this” and “IM SORRY.”

Compare these two statements:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who boycotts his brother for more than three days and dies during this period will be from the people of hellfire.”

He also said:

“I guarantee a house in the suburbs of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right.”

Swallowing your pride is bitter, while prayer is sweet. Your ego is more precious to you than your sleep. But above all, Allah’s pleasure is more precious than it all.

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Dawah and Interfaith

Can I Give My Zakat To An Islamic Educational Cause?

As Ramadan nears its end, many Muslims are thinking about paying their zakat in the last ten nights. But what is a worthy cause to which we can give our zakat and, in particular, what do the scholars have to say on this issue?

A number of Islamic educational and media institutions in the West have in recent years been highlighting their ‘zakat-eligible’ status. The list of these institutions is quite long. In the US, they include this website, the al-Madina Institute, the Yaqeen Institute, Zaytuna College, and the Ta’leef Collective. In the UK, they include Cambridge Muslim College. Some of these institutions focus on covering the cost of tuition for students who would otherwise be unable to pay, but others are focused on running an institution whose raison d’etre is Islamic education.

But some might wonder how such institutions can receive zakat? A common belief is that zakat is meant only for the poor and destitute and that such institutions would, therefore, be ineligible. This is sometimes reinforced by the way that a minority of scholars, including learned ones, might deal with these issues.

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Last year in the UK, a respected scholar stated emphatically that “none of the scholars” in Islamic history until modern times had ever said one can give zakat to causes like supporting institutions that promote Islamic education. He asserted that only modern scholars permitted the spending of zakat on such matters in the name of the fī sabīli-Llāh category (which I will explain below). The same British scholar reiterated a similar view in the past couple of weeks, but this time said that his view was the opinion of the “vast majority of scholars”.

The average Muslim may find such conflicting claims confusing. How is it that some scholars say zakat cannot be given to Islamic educational causes, while a large number of prominent Islamic educational institutions, presumably led by Islamic scholars, are directly soliciting zakat funds?

The main reason for this is the existence of difference of opinion (ikhtilāf) among scholars regarding who or what is deserving of zakat payment. The Qur’an (9:60) sets out eight categories of zakat-eligible recipients. While people today often think of zakat as being due to the poor and needy, they only explicitly form two of these categories.

The basis on which many of the aforementioned scholarly institutions claim zakat-eligible status is the category of fī sabīli-Llāh which translates to “in God’s path.” Historically, the more dominant interpretation of this zakat-eligible category was that it referred to jihād in God’s path, i.e. zakat was to be given to people engaged in military expeditions on behalf of the Islamic community.

However, some medieval scholars, and a remarkably large number of modern scholars, appealing to the fact that the Prophet highlighted that jihād was ultimately for the sake of making God’s word prevail (li-takun kalimat Allāh hiya al-‘ulyā), have argued for a far broader understanding of this zakat-eligible category.

Jihād, as a concept, is of course incredibly broad in Islam. For example, one finds in a sound hadith that the Prophet said: “Engage in jihād against the polytheists with your wealth, your lives, and your tongues.” Additionally, some of the verses in the Qur’an that enjoined jihād were revealed in Mecca where military jihād was not yet permitted.

Because of this, a minority of medieval scholars argued that the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat recipients could entail payments made to support any righteous acts, while others argued that the category was ultimately about upholding and strengthening Islam specifically through da‘wa initiatives that cause God’s word to prevail of which education is one of the most effective tools.

Indeed, giving seekers of sacred knowledge (ṭullāb al-‘ilm) was deemed a legitimate form of zakat payment according to all four schools of law. Clearly, the respected British scholar cited above was inaccurate in his claim that “none of the scholars,” or only a small minority of them, viewed the fī sabīli-Llāh category as referring to anything other than military engagements.

Among modern Arab ulama, the view that the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat recipients can apply to Islamic da‘wa and educational initiatives has perhaps become the dominant position on this issue over the last one hundred years. This is true of all major ideological orientations, whether Salafi, Neo-traditionalist, or Islamist.

Thus, for example, arguably the most important Salafi scholar of his generation, the first Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm Āl al-Shaykh argued that the most deserving recipient of the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat was the cause of da‘wa, and responding to sources of doubt about Islam. Reportedly it is also the final opinion of his most important successor, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz b. Bāz. Among living Salafis, this is the position of senior scholars outside the Saudi religious establishment as well, such as Shaykh Salmān al-‘Awda and Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Munajjid (may Allah liberate them from their unjust imprisonment).

It is also the position of senior scholars of the Azhar and Egypt’s Grand Muftis for many generations from the 20th and 21st centuries. In our own time, this includes Neo-traditionalist scholars like ‘Alī Jum‘a and Abdullāh b. Bayyah. While the latter prefers a more restrictive interpretation for the category, he permits the more expansive interpretation in his fatwas.

Among Islamist (Ikhwān) oriented scholars, one finds Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, author of what is perhaps the most comprehensive work to be written on the fiqh of zakat in Islamic history, promoting such an understanding as well. His two volume work, which addresses the major debates surrounding the fī sabīli-Llāh category in great detail, has also been translated into English. Among younger Islamist-leaning scholars, the encyclopaedic Mauritanian scholar and master of the Sharia sciences, Shaykh Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-Dadaw argues that the fī sabīli-Llāh category may even be used in the establishing of educational endowments.

The above is only a selection of voices among those who are supportive of promoting Islamic educational causes on the basis of the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat. With due respect to scholars who would argue otherwise, it is clear that this is not only a legitimate legal opinion on this question but may well be the dominant view of many of the leading scholars of modern times.

Our communities are best served by an Islamic discourse that acknowledges the richness and diversity of our great religious tradition rather than restricts it to a narrow range of opinions. As the Prophet said to the Bedouin who prayed for God to exclusively show mercy to himself and the Prophet, “You have constricted what is vast!” (laqad ḥajjarta wāsi‘an).

Since there are a very large number of scholars who have recognised initiatives that promote the sound understanding of Islam to be eligible for receiving zakat, our community is best served by the accurate portrayal of the valid difference of opinion on such matters in which members of the community may legitimately seek to follow either opinion without claiming that the position adopted by others is illegitimate.

In an era in which the sound understanding of Islam is threatened by Islamophobic forces from without and extremist forces from within, we all recognise the importance of Islamic education as a central concern for contemporary Muslims to prioritise. May we all support this cause, whether through zakat or by some other means.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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