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5 Reasons Why Rain Was Not The Only Benefit of Prayers (Salat Ul-Istisqa) in the Bay Area

Social media is abuzz with the large congregational prayers for rain (salat ul-istisqa) held in Bay Area under the patronage of Imam Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Tahir Anwar and other esteemed scholars.

Most Muslims already know and are greatly pleased by the response from the heavens with rain showers hitting the Bay Area soon after the prayers, and grateful. And there is no doubt that such events help renew faith and trust in power of prayer. However, what we are not talking about enough is a more enduring back-story—Muslims taking center stage in sponsoring an event that affects their entire community, regardless of faith.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP4EbNgQYNE[/youtube]

The prayer for rain was thus inspiring and awesome at the same time for 5 more reasons:

1. United we stand

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What the prayer for rain did was to bring out Muslims in large numbers as a united community, leaving behind the internal politics and squabbles that Muslim organizations and masajid are beset by.

2. Walking the talk dawah

Amazing opportunity for dawah. How may times have we heard that a million speeches and presentations will not have the affect that walking the talk does. Gathering as a community for a cause that affects all the people in the area with no catches, no Muslim cards, no conditions presents Muslims, as truly concerned for humanity- as they should be.

3. Sunnah the way

Salat ul istisqa is an authentic tradition traced to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and as such practicing a sunnah is reviving the sunnah and reviving the sunnah at such a scale, in a communal manner only increases its affirmation. People can argue about bid’ah all the time, but when you affirm the sunnah, the bid’ah already takes the backseat

4. You have been heard

The obvious reason—rain after salat-ul-istisqa. Believers don’t need evidence for their faith, but believers can only have their faith renewed, refreshed and enhanced by seeing these minor miracles. Even Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) asked his Lord to show him how He brings to life the dead, not because he didn’t believe but to strengthen his faith [Quran 2:260]—the faith of one called “Allah’s close friend”.

5. Not the “other” anymore

In my opinion, this is the most important reason of all: Concern for the larger community, not being unconcerned about the drought-like situation in the area, and not acting like the “other.”

While we have had countless events on issues affecting Muslims around the globe, like Syria, Palestine, etc. (no doubt also important), we have generally been negligent of our responsibilities of giving back to the communities we live in, of remaining as the “others” in the society. As I discussed in my article on cognitive dissonance, the “other paradigm” may be a large cause for the media/public double standards towards Muslims.

What is the “other” paradigm? Acclaimed Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan has gone at great lengths describing it, of Muslims’ reliance on an “external” Islam, fraught with cultural baggage, leaves them feeling inadequate in their own faith, leading to alienation from the larger society.

And I argued in that same article, and close this one with the same:

Let there be a “Muslim Charities” working hand in hand with “Catholic Charities”, let there be Muslim mayors, judges and leaders, let there be Muslim CEOs, let there be Muslim Larry Kings and Jon Stewarts, let Muhammad and Aisha be names of men and women who are part of the American fabric at every level and at every rung. Only then will we stop being the “other”…

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ibn Percy

    February 3, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    God is greater! It is wonderful to see this prayer on such a large scale. I have read about it but never participated in it as there was never a need in the locality where I live, but to see it in action and the rewards is amazing.

    • Amad

      Amad

      February 4, 2014 at 3:20 AM

      This happened in Doha, Qatar as well recently. There were prayers in schools and mosques. Results were similar in that it rained.

  2. Avatar

    Rawa Muhsin

    February 3, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Very nice masha’Allah.

    I am really pleased by this. I hope Muslims start engaging in more activities like this besides doing oral da’wah.

  3. Avatar

    umm_moussa

    February 3, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Those who doesn’t live here can’t fathom the dire need of rain on california subhanallah. Last time we had drought that lasted for 20 years ! this time its supposed to be worse ! I am so glad that you did the prayer , I wish every where in california they would keep doing it . It is so important. Already the state are getting ready to conserve , all the food and specially water prices will soar soon , hundreds of farming are cut from water supply as each county embrace to conserve water to their community. the LA county has reserved water, the amount is equivalent to the water inn an olympic swimming pool . I am honored & humbled that Allah has responded to us sinners.

  4. Avatar

    Jon Solis

    February 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I will play a little “devil’s advocate” here. The formula you seem to be proposing is: Group prayer for rain. Rain comes. Faith in prayer is increased. What really happened here was that a group of people praying “beat the odds.” The likely result of this is that there will be more similar activities of group prayer for rather insignificant causes. When those prayers are not answered, will faith then be similarly decreased? I am reminded of the “psychic” Jeane Dixon who made hundreds of whacky predictions. One comes true and she is lauded as a great prognosticator, with everyone forgetting all the predictions that did not come true. Do we really wish to link our faith to the results of public prayers?

    • Avatar

      Abu Asiyah

      February 4, 2014 at 12:19 AM

      1) Prayer for rain is an established sunnah. It’s not insignificant.

      2) Allah is the Knower of everything. He knows what we need, He knows what we want to ask and what we will ask. As such, prayer is an expression of our need and a way to make our hearts realize the reality which is that all is subservient to Him, including rain.

      3) Allah is powerful of everything. Did He send the rain, regardless of whether people prayed or not? Yes, He did. Did He allow the gathering of people to pray for rain? Yes, He did. As such, is it possible that the two are linked? Obviously, yes.

      4) Nobody’s linking faith to results of public prayers; however, everything is a sign for a believer. If this is a means for strengthening one’s iman, then why not.

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      February 4, 2014 at 3:18 AM

      – This tradition of group prayer is SPECIFICALLY for rain and it was established and prescribed by Prophet Mohammed and it is’nt something new that was invented recently by a random group of muslims.
      It is only performed in the case of a drought and not for any other purpose.

      – Either you believe in miracles or you dont!
      – For believers in the power of God Allmighty, , EVERYTHING is a miracle. Not just rain after a group prayer..
      A childbirth for example. When a person holds his newborn child in his arms for the first time he will either think ” Wow! Nothing went wrong although so many things could’ve and here is this beautiful, perfect child! It’s a miracle! ”
      Or he could think ” I just got lucky!! This perfect ,cute kid is MINE!” .

      Even if something goes wrong or does’nt work out , believers KNOW that THIS was God’s original plan and whatever BAD happens , is not because SOMETHING WENT WRONG, but because it was MEANT to go wrong for a reason and ultimately that it is for something good.

      Whereas a non-believer will just have to say “Tough luck” !

      Muslims believe that prayers are never wasted . One of 3 things happen :
      1. They either get answered.
      2. God removes some other difficulty from your path in this life.
      3. You are compensated for unanswered prayers in the next life.

      So it’s true we pray all the time, individually and in groups , ONLY because there is nothing or nobody that can help us with any significant or insignificant thing, except God Allmighty.

      Not just the rain after a group prayer.

      For a non-believer NOTHING is a miracle. It’s just “beating the odds”.
      He will dismiss every miracle , small or big that he experiences as just a matter of chance.

    • Amad

      Amad

      February 4, 2014 at 3:19 AM

      Jon,
      this is a matter of faith, not as much of logic.

      And the crux of this article is about other social matters, not about the prayers being answered.

    • Avatar

      Ridhwaan

      November 8, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      We believe our success is in carrying out the command of Allah as shown to us by the prophet Muhammed (saw).By merely carrying out the command we have attained success.

  5. Pingback: Prayers for Rain | Nehemian Organizing

  6. Pingback: ‘Miracle’ of Salaatul Istisqa witnessed in California | Cii Broadcasting

  7. Avatar

    Juma Mohamed Mtema

    February 11, 2014 at 2:34 AM

    This is the fact that even as individual and you are Good Player and attend all sessions of Salat and Good deeds and dont leave behind Zakat and Sadaqa surely you will notice in very short time mirracles from Allah! Subhannah Allah! Allah Akber

  8. Pingback: Mistaken for Muslim | #Video | Pink & Green Blues

  9. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 2:28 AM

    Nice Article! Please keep it up.

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#Current Affairs

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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#Current Affairs

Confronting Internalized Islamophobia

internalized Islamophobia

Last semester, I was teaching Roxane Gay’s essay “Peculiar Benefits” to a class of college freshmen. Following Gay’s lead, I asked my students to reflect critically on their own lives, on when they benefited from certain forms of privilege and when they didn’t. Unsurprisingly, my students pointed out many intelligent things, such as how English-language skills and physical ability are often unacknowledged as forms of privilege. What surprised me was what all the Muslim students listed not as a privilege but as a source of marginalization: being Muslim.

My students are on to something. Being  Muslim American today means dealing with a president who recently expanded his travel ban to six new countries, all of which have sizable Muslim populations. Being Muslim American today means worrying if your own house of worship will be attacked by a white supremacist, as happened in New Zealand, and in states across America. Being Muslim American means belonging to a faith community that, according to the research, endures the highest levels of religious discrimination in the country today.

In other words, being Muslim means confronting an Islamophobia that is real, that is part of American government policy, and that can even be deadly. With this sober reality, you might assume that American Muslims  would be unified in collective opposition to the dangerous bigotry that is Islamophobia.

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New research, however, puts this notion into question. According to a study by the Institute for Social and Political Understanding (ISPU), a research organization that studies American Muslims in depth, Muslim Americans can themselves be Islamophobic.

The findings are as interesting as they are unexpected. Over the last two years, the ISPU and Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative have used a measure tracking anti-Muslim sentiment that they developed. Called the “Islamophobia Index,” the measure is based on answers to specific survey questions regarding Muslims and their assumed behaviors.

Over the last two annual polls conducted by ISPU, the findings reveal that white Evangelicals hold the most Islamophobic attitudes of any faith group while Jews are among the lowest. In the 2019 study, only Muslims were less Islamophobic than Jews, but some Muslims still endorsed Islamophobic sentiments.

Where does this internalized Islamophobia come from?

Some of it seems to be internalized shame. Muslims are the most likely faith community to “strongly agree” (44%) with the following statement: “When I hear that a member of my faith community committed an act of violence, I feel personally ashamed.” This compares to roughly a third of Jews (34%), Catholics (34%), Protestants (35%), and white Evangelicals (33%).

But that’s not all. Through crunching the numbers, the ISPU determined who’s more at risk in holding Islamophobic attitudes and what could protect someone from believing Islamophobic ideas. The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian. Risk factors, meanwhile, include being between 18 and 29 years old, having experienced gender discrimination, either from within the Muslim community or from outside the Muslim community, and having experienced sectarian discrimination from within the Muslim community.

The least likely Muslims to hold Islamophobic views tend to be Democrats, thirty years-of-age or older, and self-identifying as Arab or Asian.Click To Tweet

What does all this mean? A fully formed picture may have to wait until a qualitative study puts some flesh onto these numbers, but it’s not difficult to see where the research is heading. It seems statistically likely that both gender discrimination and sectarian discrimination are pushing some young American Muslims into internalizing Islamophobia. According to ISPU’s 2019 Annual Poll, “as many as 41% of Muslim women experience gender discrimination at the hands of other Muslims at some frequency.” We should also note that sectarian discrimination with the American Muslim community has a racial dimension. The ISPU study identifies Black Muslims reporting much higher levels of sectarian discrimination (43% report it) than Arab Muslims (at 26%).

What does this mean for the community?

It’s time to state this plainly. We Muslim Americans simply must get our own house in order if we want to vanquish Islamophobia. Sexism and sectarianism have no place in the Muslim-American community. While outside factors such as negative media portrayals of Muslims certainly play a role in normalizing and promoting Islamophobic ideas, it’s also true—as this latest study makes clear—that Muslims who have personally experienced discrimination from other Muslims are the ones more likely to internalize Islamophobia.

And internalized Islamophobia, like all Islamophobia, is disastrous for everyone. People who score high on the Islamophobia index, Muslim or not, are also more likely to support discriminatory policies (such as the Muslim ban and the surveillance of mosques), curtailing civil liberties, and even the military targeting of civilians. On the other hand, those with the lowest levels of Islamophobia also exhibit high regard for African Americans, Jewish Americans, and LGBTQ Americans, proving that Islamophobia is but one part of how racism and discrimination work in this country.

Faith as a source of happiness

While internalized Islamophobia is real, it is also true that most Muslim women (87%) and Muslim men (84%) report seeing “their faith identity as a source of happiness in their life.” All the more reason why the onus of defeating internalized Islamophobia is on no one but us Muslims.

After all, as every Muslim reads in the Qur’an, “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (13:11). Stopping internalized Islamophobia is also a necessary step to defeating all Islamophobia. And when that day comes, I suspect my Muslim students will consider their faith not as a stigma of difference but as a source of profound pride.

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#Current Affairs

A Warrior Against Genocide, Abubacarr Tambadou | Imam Omar Suleiman

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Attorney General Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, the Justice Minister of the Gambia and Imam Omar Suleiman at Honor Our Heroes in Washington DC. Imam Omar presented the Torch of Justice Award on behalf of Justice For All’s Burma Task Force and the American Muslim community to the Justice Minister for fighting genocide.

 I have been working on stopping this genocide in my role as the Director of Justice For All and the part Attorney General Tambadou has played in taking this evil regime to the world’s highest court on behalf of the Rohingya is the kind of leadership and courage we need to see on the global stage.

Here are Shaykh Omar’s remarks. – Hena Zuberi, EIC

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I would like to begin this presentation to His Excellency Abou Bakr Tambadou by reminding all of us of the greatest man to walk the face of the earth after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Bakr As Siddique.

It was narrated that Qais bin Abu Hazim said:

قَالَ قَامَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّكُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ هَذِهِ الآيَةَ ‏{يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ}‏ وَإِنَّا سَمِعْنَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ إِنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا رَأَوُا الْمُنْكَرَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُونَهُ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمُ اللَّهُ بِعِقَابِهِ ‏”‏ ‏

Abu Bakr stood up and praised and glorified Allah, then he said: ‘O people, you recite this Verse – “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves. If you follow the (right) guidance no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.”[5:105] – but I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: ‘If people see some evil but do not change it, soon Allah will send His punishment upon them all.’” 

When Abubaccar Tambadou made his way from Gambia in West Africa, to the Rohingya refugee camps in Southeast Asia, he knew he couldn’t turn away from the evil he had witnessed.“

Listening to survivors’ stories he said the “stench of genocide” began drifting across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar.

He said: “I realized how much more serious it was than the flashes we’d seen on television screens, Military and civilians would organize systematic attacks against Rohingya, burn down houses, snatch babies from their mothers’ arms and throw them alive into burning fires, round up and execute men; girls were gang-raped and put through all types of sexual violence.”

“It sounded very much like the kind of acts that were perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda.”

In that genocide, up to a 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed with machetes and rifles, about 70% of the country’s Tutsi population. Sexual violence was rife, with up to 500,000 women being raped. 

At that time, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou worked as a trial attorney, where he was responsible for prosecuting violations of international human rights law in Rwanda. He secured the prosecution of four war criminals, including former Rwandan army general Augustin Bizimungu who called his victims cockroaches. 

Here Abubaccar was now, a decade later, witnessing the Rohingya genocide. More than 128,000 Muslims remain in detention camps in Burma today, where they have been confined since 2012, arbitrarily deprived of their liberty. More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military campaign of ethnic cleansing began in August 2017

Their villages have been burned down, their bodies discarded like waste, and the world has remained unwilling and unable to support them in their plight.

Simon Adams, head of the humans rights organization, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said there was only one man with the courage, skills and humanity to try to hold Myanmar accountable for the alleged atrocities.

“Some were afraid of retaliation from the Chinese” (who tried to stop the prosecution of Myanmar knowing that it may set a precedent for them being taken to court for their Uyghur  concentration camps).

Simon Adams continued to say, “Others said it wasn’t a good time, was too politically risky. [But] I was impressed by his fearlessness. He realized what would be coming pressure-wise but he was developing a strategy to deal with it.”

Abubacarr Tambadou

What is a hero?

Is it “an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles? Is it “someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom? Is it someone who uses their power responsibly to support the powerless? Is it the man of resilience who is braver for 5 more minutes than his fellow man?

To us, a hero is one who recognizes the truth when others deny it, lives by it when others abandon it, pursues it when others obstruct it, and upholds it when others oppose it.

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was a hero because he not only refused to let falsehood stand in the way of his recognition of the truth when it was manifest to him, but also refused to let fear stand in the way of his pursuit of that truth when it challenged him. 

Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) ran to the defense of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he was being persecuted for his beliefs and shouted: 

أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ

Would you kill a man for saying his Lord is Allah?

Abubaccar Tambadou rushed to the support of the millions being persecuted for saying their Lord is Allah.

Abu Bakr As Siddique said: 

لا يحقرن أحد أحدا من المسلمين فان صغير المسلمين عند الله كبير

Do not belittle any of the Muslims, for even the lowest of the Muslims is great in the sight of Allah.

Abubaccar Tambadou refused to belittle those brothers and sisters who had been deemed too insignificant by even the wealthiest Muslim nations to uplift

Abu Bakr As Siddique raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: 

الضعيف فيكم قوي عندي حتى أريح عليه حقه إن شاء الله والقوى فيكم عندي ضعيف حتى آخذ الحق منه إن شاء الله

The weak among you is strong in my sight, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs God willing. And the strong among you is weak in my sight until I take from them what is rightfully someone else’s God willing.

Abubaccar Tambadou fought for the rights of the oppressed Rohingya to be returned to them, and refused to succumb to the intimidation of the government of Myanmar (Burma) and other strong governments that feared being held accountable for their own war crimes.Click To Tweet

When Abu Bakr As Siddiq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was with the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), it was only the 2 of them and the third was Allah. Imam Al Ghazali (ra) said the most blessed oppressed one to support is the one who has no one but Allah (man la naasira lahu ilAllah), and so when you choose to champion those who others find no political usefulness in supporting, you become a special agent of Allah sent to their aid in rare company.

Your Excellency Abubaccar, may Allah grant you a generous space under the shade of His Throne on the Day of Judgment, and a distinguished station next to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the highest level of Paradise.

Justice For All’s Burma Task Force has filed a case on behalf of the victims of the Rohingya Genocide in the International Court of Justice- support the case by donating here. The Rohingya want justice.

 

Photo: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of Burma Task Force, His Excellency Abubaccar Tambadou, Imam Omar Suleiman and Karim Yaqub, Rohingya activist at the presentation of the Torch of Justice.

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