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Ramadan 2010: MM Poetry Contest | Semifinalists, Day 5

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Day 1Day 2Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | The Finals

Welcome to day five! Now that we’re almost done publishing the semifinalists and the voting process is also underway, please do check out day 3 onwards’ poems and cast your vote.

Note: Voting for poems published on Day 3 closes today! Cast your vote if you haven’t yet!

Update 4/9/10: Voting for poems published on Day 5 closes today! Cast your vote if you haven’t yet!


A quick recap on how it’s going to be:

1) We’re going to publish four shortlisted poems a day, for five days.
2) Each day, you, the public, vote for the poem that you like best out of the four published.
3) The poems with the most votes from each day will go on to the final round, where a second poll will decide the winner and runners up.

Simple, eh?

As beautiful as the poems all are, and we are indeed experiencing the Holy month of Ramadan, the spirit of the competition can be pretty overwhelming. That’s why here’s a simple reminder to keep it clean, and wholesome, healthy competitiveness that adds to the fun but does not hurt anyone in anyway.:)

Without further ado, here’s the fifth group of semifinalists for your pleasurable reading.

Please don’t forget to vote!

__________________________________________________________________________

Ramadan Oh Ramadan
By: Zuha Mirza

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I miss thee

You come for one month and leave us for an 11 month spree

You bring us both blessings and control from the shaytaan,

But eventually leave us, anticipating next year’s Ramadan.

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I miss thee

Waking up with tired eyes for suhoor and some tea

Frying samosas and filling up our plates in time for iftaar with glee

The sweet and savory taste of the kajoor

Keeps me filled from iftar to suhoor

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I miss thee

Taraweeh and ibadaah, I perform with Allah’s decree

I make dua with immense faith and concentration

Hoping this Ramadan’s fasts will be accepted without any hesitation

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I miss thee

I hope to meet you this year, so I can welcome you contently

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I miss thee

I hope I can meet you the next year, so I can keep fasts in honor of HE

Ramadan oh Ramadan how I LOVE thee

That I keep missing you, even when you’re not here with me

_______________________________________________________________________

Where hope lies
By: Miriam Islam

Engulfed in the blackness of despair, drowning with deeds beyond repair

The sinner walks a lonely path

A desperate effort to heal the wounded aftermath

Chased by the demons of desire

The dunya led him closer to the fire

The glitter of pleasures and death never pending

Threw him into sins never ending.

So great is the shame, marred with emotions unnamed

How can he dare to call upon his lord again?

With a heavy heart and eyes downcast

Dreams of carefree days go past

A time when it was so easy to raise up hands and freely request

Innocent pleas and simple decisions, praying Allah would ease the rest.

Requesting from his Lord most high, most bountiful

Who made all good things seem possible, and the evil unthinkable.

So when did the light of goodness fade into darkness?

Was it through the extinguish of the conscience

Or did it diminish with the weak voice of reason

When overshadowed by the shout of Satan?

So the sinner walks a lonely path,

No longer seeking wrong or right, only hoping for a ray of light.

A light of purpose, a light of redemption

A lamp of guidance, leading to the road of salvation.

A way to repent for the time unspent

For the obligations unfulfilled and the book unread

The deeds which rendered the weak heart dead.

So what can revive the stricken heart?

Allah set a month apart.

A time of healing, a time of hope

A time when everyone can grasp a lifeline boat.

Drifting to Allah’s mercy, escaping to the plains of tranquillity

Wherein lies a night, better than a thousand nights.

Containing beauty and power concealed from sight.

A time to walk through a new door and emerge with vows of “no more”

And so the sinner walks a lonely path

Towards renewal and amendments for the past.

Through doors of repentance and levels of submission

Allah’s mercy leads him to the doors of admission

The promise of two gardens for taqwa for a lord unseen

In the prevention of a fearful deed.

For O son of Adam if your sins reached the sky

But you called on your lord just one time

You would be forgiven as if you had never turned to transgression.

So never despair of the mercy of Ar Rahman, turn the key in Ramadan.

Reignite the former glory of Eemaan.

_______________________________________________________________________

Untitled
By: Umm Anas
Today my pen truthfully writes,

And my heart through it speaks,

The gift of Rafeeqal ‘Ala,

In this blessed Ramadan it seeks.

The lips and throat may be parched,

The tongue’s dry yet under control,

O Allah! I need this Ramadan,

To ransom back my lost caged soul.

It trailed off knocking door to door,

Into the Ghostly Town of Desires,

Seeking happiness with security,

And a safe place to retire.

O Allah! My soul became Shaytan’s Puppet,

Jumping to whatever ‘advice’ he gave,

Dear Allah! Let me reach Laylatul Qadr,

To show you that I’m a worthy slave.

Mountains of sins stand threateningly united,

Blocking my view of Your Paradise,

O Allah! Your slave’s trapped in a Well of Darkness,

Pull her out before her spirit dies!

Tarawih’s heavy on the body,

Yet so light and refreshing for the burning soul,

O Allah! Help me cash out all my nights,

So that I can redeem all the nights my sleep stole.

In crowds of excited Muslims at Iftaar,

In a certain anxiousness I feel alone,

Wondering whether You granted me forgiveness,

For the sins in my Past’s Emotional Cyclone…

I admit! Drenched I am in Your Blessings,

I realize that everyday soon after Suhoor,

For it’s easy to pacify the growls in the stomach with the hope of an upcoming Iftar,

Unlike the many ever-fasting needy and poor.

A genuine smile can glue broken ties,

A hug can extinguish the hate,

The currency of Jannah is Ikhlaq,

Which ensures a clean slate.

But the motivation in me vanishes,

As I flick through the pages of my Past,

Ink of failure blackens them,

And also the blame of being a spiritual outcast.

Out of frustration:

My soul knocks at the door of Ramadan,

Hoping to benefit from its company,

It takes my hand and consoles my restless heart,

With words Promising of His Mercy:

“He directs the Creation in their matters,

He pardons the Seeker in the 3rd part of the night,

You think He cannot forgive YOU?

Or give you the Ability to fight?

Do not doubt His Promises,

And do not doubt His Might,

Enter the Paradise of Dunia,

By remembering Him in times of plight!

Increase in reciting the Quraan,

Ponder but Increase not in speed,

For the Plant of Taqwa grows slowly,

When you with the Quraan nourish it’s seed.

READ in the Name of Thy Lord,

Who created you and that girl who’s deaf and mute,

She memorized Quraan merely by reading lips,

Why does your Faith in Allah then lack resolute?

Control the Rein of your Nafs with His Words,

Devote a portion of it to memorize,

Do you not want to be clothed with the Heavenly ‘Robe of Honor’,

and majestically crowned In His Beautiful Paradise?”

At this my eyes moistened,

And I knew those forgotten words are true,

Has Allah gifted me with this Ramadan,

to start my journey anew?

As my pen finishes dutifully writing,

The narrations of my strengthened heart,

It suggests that if the browser of your spiritual life seems stuck,

Then it’s only YOU stopping YOU from a ‘restart’!

________________________________________________________________________

The Blanket
By: Mahfara Bakht

Ramadan

appears

When my soul

is hungry

Like a blanket made of

the softest wool,

It wraps itself

around me;

Whispers to me,

“I am here now,”

And I hold onto

This embrace

My heart—

Battered

From the blows of sin

Uncovers, and

in the light,

Feels safe again.

“Turn now,”

says Ramadan

To me

“Turn to Him

And His Mercy,”

I do.

I turn and feel

A load—

so heavy,

Rise up and

Burst

From my well

of tears:

Relief.

And then,

A sensation,

Like water down

A parched throat

The heart’s thirst—

Quenched;

The  soul’s hunger—

No more.

It now rests

In Ramadan’s embrace

Like nectar at

A flower’s core

And so it is

That my Lord knew

I needed Him

Before I

knew it myself.

_____________________________________________________________________

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Enjoyed Day 5? There’s more! Check out: Day 1 | Day 2Day 3 | Day 4 | The Finals

Links will activate as each day arrives!

Ameera is a final-year medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. Having been born and raised in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, her approach towards her Deen has always been rooted in a basic understanding from authentic sources, which was further polished during a three-year weekend course at Al Huda Institute. Her interests, though, seem to know no bounds and range from a passion for the culinary arts and travelling, as well as following current affairs and global happenings. She feels being able to be part of MuslimMatters is one of the major blessings of Allah(swt) upon her, for it has given her a chance to learn and grow. She also maintains her personal blog at http://duskanddawn.wordpress.com.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Pingback: Ramadan 2010: MM Poetry Contest | Semifinalists, Day 3 | MuslimMatters.org

  2. Pingback: Ramadan 2010: MM Poetry Contest | Semifinalists, Day 2 | MuslimMatters.org

  3. Avatar

    abez

    September 2, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    I missed Day Four, is there any way of voting for that day?

    • Amad

      Amad

      September 3, 2010 at 5:17 AM

      yes, just click on day 4 :)

  4. Avatar

    Rafa

    September 2, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Masha Allah!

  5. Avatar

    shiney

    September 2, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    masha’allah! really nice poems once again! I loved all of them but the last one was so touching! may Allah (SWT) reward you all for your efforts=)

  6. Avatar

    Hiba

    September 2, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Beautiful Poems Mash’Allah, a job well done everyone! I especially loved Ramadan Oh Ramadan, how cute! :)

  7. Pingback: Ramadan 2010: MM Poetry Contest | Semifinalists, Day 1 | MuslimMatters.org

  8. Avatar

    abez

    September 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Am I the only one getting a 404 error when I try to access Day Four?

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      September 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM

      Day 4 working for me. Day 5 was giving that error just now so I re-published the page. :S

    • Avatar

      saniya

      September 3, 2010 at 5:01 PM

      yeah, i’m getting that when i try to access it.

      • Amad

        Amad

        September 3, 2010 at 6:06 PM

        try a hard refresh.

  9. Pingback: Islamic Arts Feature: Pick of the Week 9/4/2010 | MuslimMatters.org

  10. Avatar

    Sana

    September 5, 2010 at 5:16 AM

    MashaAllah all of these were so awesome. I guess it’s a good thing I can’t vote anymore…would have been difficult to choose a favorite

  11. Pingback: MM Ramadan 2010 Poetry Contest: The Finals | MuslimMatters.org

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Featured Home

Stats not Stories: Problems with our Islamic History

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Admit it. You’re bored by Islamic History. Sure, you might say that you find it fascinating, but the likelihood is that you are far more likely to be enamoured by the idea of what Islamic history should be like rather than the history itself.

How can I justify saying this? Well, lets take any other aspect of life that you are definitely not bored by. The latest Star Wars movie perhaps, Super Bowl 50 or all 7 Harry Potter books. Anything at all. Odds are that you can remember a lot about them in vivid detail. But if you’re asked the same thing about pretty much any aspect of Islamic history, the details are likely to be nowhere near as clear or captivating.

islamic history book

Outsold by the story of a wizard kid by a factor of a Million to 1

Relax. For once, it is not your fault.

Islamic history is the poor cousin of the Islamic sciences. It can often be poorly taught, poorly understood and even more poorly preserved. The blame for this partly falls on the shoulders of the Islamic historians themselves. Apart from some notable exceptions, many Islamic history books are dreary affairs over-filled with numbers, dates and exceptionally long names of individuals who sound very similar.

history quote

It is not that Islamic history itself is boring. On the contrary, I would make the case that no other history is as palpitation inducing, full of giddy highs and dramatic – seemingly bottomless – lows. However, even the most amazing thriller can go from awe to yawn if the main focus is on the factual details rather than the story itself.

explainafilmplotbadly

If the Dark Knight was described like your average text on Islamic history

In 2007 Deborah Small at the Wharton School of Business conducted an experiment to see how people would react to a charity campaign that was presented primarily using facts and figures as compared to the same campaign presented as a story. The outcome wasn’t even close. Stories trump stats every time. Or, as Stalin would say “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” He should know. He was kind of an expert on the subject.

stalin

Hipster Stalin – now he’s taken things too far.

In fact, we don’t need to look to modern research to prove this. The Quran itself is full of stories and lessons, but short on details. How many animals made it on to the Ark? Where exactly did Khidr live? What was the name of the Pharoah that was the arch-nemesis of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)? The lack of facts and figures detracts nothing from the power of these stories and their ability to inspire and transform those hearing them.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was explicit on this point when it came to the stories of the Companions of the Cave. Allah admonishes those who debate on the exact number of those in the cave saying “Now some say they were three and the fourth one is their dog and some will say they were five and the sixth one is their dog, guessing randomly at the unseen.” It is unfortunate that we don’t heed this lesson when it comes to how we teach our own Islamic history.

stat-stories-vs-statistics

From “Made to stick” by Chip and Dan Heath

Maya Angelou said ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ If we want our Islamic history to be relevant and life-changing, we need to put away the facts and figures and bring out the monsters and legends.

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#Current Affairs

Five Courageous Ways To Respond To Anti-Muslim Hatred

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By Fatima Barkatulla

It was the day after the second Paris attack. Our local Muslim school sent parents a text-message telling them that security guards would flank the school gates the next day. Messages were flying around, complete with fuzzy CCTV footage of Muslim women who had been verbally or physically attacked in public places, in the climate of hatred and fear that seemed to hang like a cloud over us.

My sons, proudly wear traditional garments (thobe and white skullcap) when going to certain classes at the Mosque. It is the uniform for their Qur’an class. It’s of course not obligatory for them to wear it but they normally do. They were about to set out and catch a bus when a sense of dread came over me as I realised how vulnerable they looked and how so visibly ‘Muslim’. People had been fed a drip diet of negativity surrounding Islam and Muslims. The heinous crimes of some of our co-religionists, playing on 24-hour news channels had contributed to that climate. It would only take one angry person…

 

Muslim boys

 

In that moment I considered telling my sons to pop their jeans on instead, reserving their traditional garb for when they were safely inside the mosque. In that moment I was terrified at the power I wielded as a parent to influence their mindset with a word I might utter. And in that moment, I bit my tongue and decided to choose Tawakkul and empowerment and banish victimhood and fear.

There was no real danger. Most of our fellow citizens are not full of hatred. Most of them do know a Muslim well enough to know better. I believe much of the fear-mongering that goes on in Muslim circles, is manufactured and perpetuated by people continuously forwarding unconfirmed scare stories to one another (or perhaps people infiltrating our lists and groups, maliciously intending to spread panic).

In the aftermath of these attacks it’s important to continue living as you normally live day to day as much as possible and since my sons usually do wear these clothes to the mosque without issue, I didn’t want to introduce the idea of hiding being a Muslim to them.

It’s not about fanatically holding onto garments. Indeed if there is real and present danger we should take the precautions necessary and should not put our children at high risk. However, this was about the attitude we seek to instil in the next generation of Believers.

Over the Channel in France, with its aggressive secularism, it has become commonplace for many Muslims to hide their Islam. Britain’s Muslims, including my sons, are confident and very comfortable expressing our faith and culture, Alhamdulillah. This is home and we aren’t guests here. The vast majority of our compatriots are respectful towards us and, especially in the vibrant melting-pot that is London, we have grown up together, laughed, cried, learned and played together. We grew up being told to express our culture and be ourselves.

British Muslims

In the 80s racists used to abuse us for having a different skin colour – which we couldn’t hide. They would hurl insults at my mother for observing hijab. That overt racism is largely gone. But the point is this: Our parents didn’t persevere through the tough times that they faced, only for our generation to lie down as soon as we face some pressure!

By all means let us teach our children to take the normal precautions any child should. Teaching them the very powerful duas and supplications for going outside as well as the du’a when facing fear, and the du’a for resolve, were my first port of call.[1] But I refuse to instil cowardice in their hearts and will continue to teach them to hold their heads up high as Muslims in a world where their faith is misrepresented.

I see parenting as a calling. Children are the ultimate carriers of our values beyond our own short lives. Most of us still hear our mothers’ voices in our heads, giving us the occasion telling-off or reminding us to do the right thing. Most of us subconsciously ask ourselves what dad would have done. We may of course reassess some of those values, rejecting some and adapting others. However, a parent’s attitude and philosophy of life is no doubt a most powerful factor in setting a child’s direction in the world.

So how will I be teaching my children to respond to anti-Muslim hatred? What do I hope their attitude will be, growing up in 21st Century Britain?

The key messages I will be giving my children are:

First: Have faith in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan. Our tradition teaches us that everything, however difficult it may be for us to understand, happens for a reason and happens by the will of God. It teaches us that through Sabr – patiently persevering upon the straight path, through hard work and prayer, we will see the fruits of our efforts.

Second: Never be afraid to be different. Some of the greatest people in history went against the grain. They were immensely unpopular and often persecuted. In the end, their unwavering, patient, perseverance for justice shone through. We have an example of that in the great messengers of God such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them. And in recent times we have the likes of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X – who fought injustice, were persecuted or killed for their cause, but morally triumphant as eventually the world caught up with them.

Third: Be politically engaged. Outrage at injustices around the world is natural. But how you allow that to manifest itself is pivotal. The Qur’an tells us that we must live up to being “the best people extracted for the sake of humanity.” The conditions for being amongst the best of people are that we must enjoin the good, beginning with ourselves and forbid what is wrong and have faith in God. Loving ones country means sometimes holding a mirror up to it and with wisdom, speaking truth to power.

Fourth: Be socially engaged. Contribute and give to society positively with all your heart and with all of your talents. Serve your neighbours, serve your fellow citizens. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would go the extra mile to reach out to people and fulfil their needs, to feed, to clothe, to share a burden. He never encouraged us to live in ghettos, happy with our own piety. Mixing with people, sharing, caring, giving, getting involved with the issues of society is his example and your duty.

Fifth: Seek deeper knowledge of scripture from traditional scholars who are also forward-thinking. The Qur’an has a context to it. Reading ones own interpretations into it willy nilly gives a warped understanding. We see the catastrophic effects of that in lands where injustice is being justified by ignorant Twitter and Facebook muftis interpreting revelation. Our tradition is rich, it gave birth to one of the greatest civilisations in history. Don’t be rash. Don’t be a hothead. The energy of youth needs to be tempered by the wisdom of scholars and elders. Our faith needs a generation of leaders who have depth of understanding and a wealth of wisdom in order to traverse the murky waters that may lay ahead. Be that generation.

[1] Some of the supplications can be found in du’a books and on the website: http://www.makedua.com/ . A couple of examples are:

بِسْمِ اللهِ ، تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللهِ

“In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah and there is no might nor power except with Allah.”

The Prophet ﷺ told us, when we say this, an angel will say: “you shall be defended, protected and guided”. (Abu Dawud)

And this wonderful du’a which every one of us should memorise! It is protection from facing ignorance or harm when going out! Make sure your kids have memorised it!

 

اللَّهُمَّ إني أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَلَّ ، أَوْ أَزِلَّ أَوْ أُزَلَّ ، أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ ، أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَيَّ

“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip (i.e. to commit a sin unintentionally) or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.” (Abu Dawud)

Fatima Barkatulla is a seminarian and award-winning Islamic lecturer. Follow her on FacebookA version of this article was published in The Times and Times Online on Saturday 9th April 2016

[1] ‘thaub’ is sometimes called a dishdasha (it is a long, dress-like garment worn by men in the Middle-East). ‘Thaub’ is the more commonly used name for it in the Muslim community.

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Education

Science Not Art: Problems with our Islamic History

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Let me introduce you to Hassan. He is an artist with an imagination that runs wild with more creativity in his little finger than most of us have in our whole lives. He spends his spare time in art galleries and exhibitions. He enjoys experimenting with different pantones to find the right shade of green for his latest artwork. So far, he’s your typical artist, except for the small fact that he’s a medical student.

Like many children of first generation immigrants, Hassan was prodded towards a stable career in healthcare rather than the decidedly less secure world of being an artist. His innate artistry is out of place in the sterile world of Medicine, but he accepts this trade-off for the security that a career in medicine brings.

The-Art-Science-of-Content-Marketing

Much like Hassan, I contend that Islamic history is art trapped in the world of sciences.

While Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t being busy leading the Rough Riders or being President, he made the same case for history in general. Every civilization and culture views history through a different lens. While the Europeans classically treated History as a category within literature and the Hindus as often indistinguishable from mythology – Muslims took an entirely different approach. When it comes to fields of Islamic studies, we tend to classify the most important as sciences. Tafsir, Ilm al hadeeth, Tajweed and Fiqh are all researched and taught with the same precision and accuracy as physics or maths. There is relatively little room for artistic license or experimentation.

science vs art

This is a strength especially when it comes to the studies that make up the bedrock of the faith and are used to decide the rules and regulations that govern it. However, problems arise when subjects that don’t naturally fit into the scientific category are reclassified as such. One such example is Islamic history. Our history has often been subjected to the same rigorous standards as those applied to other Islamic sciences. Anything that doesn’t meet the highest standards of verification and authentication can potentially be downplayed or treated as suspect.

This view of history was pioneered by none other than the father of historiography Ibn Khaldun, who was frustrated by the “uncritical acceptance of historical data.” It comes as no surprise to find out that Ibn Khaldun was a jurist before he found fame in later life as a historian. However, history is not merely data to be proven or interpreted in a narrow set of ways. History is the art of putting together bits of information from the past and weaving together a narrative that gives us an insight into the motivations and actions of those that preceded us.

quiz art vs science

Translation: Artists tend to see boats first, scientists tend to see arches.

For instance, History as science will tell us that the Moghul Empire finally collapsed due to a range of socio-economic factors afflicting the corrupt Moghul state combined with the overwhelming military superiority of the British. While that may technically be accurate, History as art would explain the fall as a perfect storm of threats compounded by the tragic but unexpected outcome of an aging Emperor’s affections for his ambitious and treacherous young wife Zeenat Mahal. The former view is based on empirical evidence but wholly uninspiring and devoid of the human touch, while the latter is pieced together based on some facts, some extrapolations and based on the characters of the personalities involved.

zeenat mahal

Worth sinking an Empire over?

Skeptics from the scientific school of thought will read the above and fear that this is a call to legitimise superstition and fairytales. It is not. The reality is that the majority of our history, or any history for that matter, will fail to pass the benchmarks that we must necessarily use for our sciences. The result of this is that there are swathes of our history that are simply looked upon as second class and therefore not prominent.

Maria Konnikova argued the same point cogently in Scientific American. There needs to be a paradigm shift in how we see and classify Islamic history. Islamic historians should feel comfortable in the freedom to discuss and teach aspects of our history that may not be 100% verifiable, but that fit within the broad construct of our traditions. We need to explore and cultivate the vast fertile expanses between irrefutable evidence based facts and pure fiction. Should we do so, we will reap a rich harvest of engaged and inspired Muslims who can take lessons and inspiration from our past and use it to guide our future. That’s hopefully something that even the most dedicated scientist would find it difficult to argue against.

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