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Dawah and Interfaith

Neighborly Love | Ramadan Iftar Platters




By Lubna Dadabhoy

Alhamdulilah, through Allah’s Infinite Grace and Mercy, we have been fortunate to experience the blessed month of Ramadan this year.During this month of spiritual renewal, prayer, and of re-commitment to bettering oneself, we enjoy the increased opportunities to spend time and strengthen bonds with our families, friends, and the community.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has attached great importance to the rights and care of neighbors – that we live in peace and harmony with them and treat them with kindness.

Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “Gabrial continued to advise me to treat neighbors well until I thought he would make them my heirs.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2624


عَائِشَةَ تَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ مَا زَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْجَارِ حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَيُوَرِّثَنَّهُ

2624 صحيح مسلم كِتَاب الْبِرِّ وَالصِّلَةِ وَالْآدَابِ بَاب الْوَصِيَّةِ بِالْجَارِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ إِلَيْهِ

Not only does this act make us compassionate human beings, but insha’Allah, it will also open up the lines of communication, appreciation, and understanding between our different cultures and faiths – something so important for Muslims, especially in this day and age.


For the past three years, my family and I have been preparing and delivering Iftar platters to our neighbors as a way of spreading the Ramadan cheer and spirit; this year we continued the tradition. We made an eclectic mix of traditional savories from my ethnic background and American sweets, including chicken tikka (barbeque) with raita (yogurt dip), spinach pakoras (fritters), cholay (chickpeas), fresh fruit salad, California medjool dates, meat pies, and blueberry muffins. iftar_waafia2

We plated and wrapped up our platters with cello paper and ribbon. Strung from the ribbon were three note cards; a cover wishing everyone a Happy Ramadan from our family, a description of each food item we included, and an informational card with a short summary of what Ramadan means to Muslims. 

iftar6Here is the downloadable pdf for the note card we shared for those who would like to share with their neighbors –iftar_notecards

My children loved going door to door, carefully balancing each platter and beaming with excitement as they rang doorbells and wished everyone a “Happy Ramadan!”  Our neighbors were delighted with the gesture and were happy we included them in celebrating our holy month.iftar_waafia6

The next morning, we received the following lovely note from one of our neighbors (names have been changed for privacy purposes):


Thank you so much! The entire platter was delicious! Both “Bob” and I enjoyed every morsel! Loved the meat pie, the spinach fritters, the chickpeas, chicken, fresh fruits and dates, and the scrumptious blueberry muffin!

I especially liked the card that spoke about the purpose of Ramadan— it is very heartwarming.
You and your family have always been special, kind, and loving neighbors to us. Though the neighbors around us seem very nice, it’s really only you and your family that I feel I can trust. I hope all of you and your family know that we think very highly of you. Whenever I talk with my friends and family, when also there are instances of media bias about the Islamic faith and people, I do find myself defending and reminding anyone that they should not generalize nor make conclusions based on racism, bigotry, and lazy ignorance; that I know of a people of kind faith and devotion to their family and community—-our neighbor and his faith community.
Thank you for the continued and unconditional lessons you give your neighbors.

May all of you have the peace and renewal this Ramadan.

– “Shannon”

Subhan’Allah!  These kind words warmed our souls and brought smiles to our faces. Alhamdulilah, we were able to bring awareness about Islam through the simple act of sharing food. The beautiful impact this small form of Da’wah had in return is priceless.

If you haven’t already done so this Ramadan, please try to share something with your neighbors – be it samoosas, mana’eesh, cookies, fresh fruit, or dates. You too, will insha’Allah, feel closer to your neighbors and develop a better understanding between our different faiths.

Narrated Abu Shuraih Al Adawi raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him): My ears heard and my eyes saw the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he spoke, “Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously… [Sahih Bukhari]

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) purify our intentions, make us all amazing neighbors and accept all our good deeds.  Ameen!




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    August 1, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Adorable! I’m gonna try that inshallah

  2. Avatar


    August 1, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Outstanding job of illustrating solidarity and opening up channels of communication, Lubna! This is an excellent article.

  3. Avatar


    August 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Ramadan Mubarak to you and your Family !!
    Masha allah you are the such a Creative Soul . Its an inspiration for us L.D.

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    August 1, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    Excellent Dawah during Ramadan! JAK for sharing.

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    Abu Asiyah

    August 1, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    My wife and I use food as a da’wah method like you described outside of Ramadan too. The key is not to expect your neighbors to talk to you about religion – just bring them food once in a while. Muslim food is usually delicious and they love it! Our neighbors took a good half a year to start talking about Islam, but now they ask about it all the time. They also respect us as they are Christians and they see us taking the good neighbour commandment seriously. :)

  6. Avatar


    August 2, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    Good reminder – not sure about the US but this great tradition is sort of ‘old-hat’ in countries with a longer history of Islam.

    However in many countries and communities (such as my own in little old Cape Town, South Africa) the Iftar platters do no find their way to non-Muslim households. So it’s good that you’re emphasizing that as we are required to treat all our neighbours well, not just those who are also Muslim.

  7. Avatar


    August 5, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    wish this article was posted earlier and that i had read it earlier so i could have implemented it right at the beginning! jazakaAllah khayr for the idea + pdf files =)

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

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.


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?

Dr Usaama al-Azami



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.

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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#Current Affairs

#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan



Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar


A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source:

Muslim congregation writes letters of support to Dallas Jewish Community

The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News

Historic action: Muslims and Jews for Dreamers

“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Bend The Arc

Through Dialogue, Interfaith Leaders Hope North Texans Will Better Understand Each Other

“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Kera News


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

Source: The Carter Center

Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred

My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN


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