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Ramadan: How to Welcome Ramadan in Turbulent Times

How does one live with the knowledge of recent events and still celebrate Ramadan? How does one connect with her or his spirituality, let go of anger and shame, and embrace the healing of this month?

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The month of Ramadan is upon us, by Allah’s grace. When we welcomed the month of Ramadan last year, Muhammad Ali (the legendary boxer) had just died, may Allah have mercy on him. It was a strange time, with everyone still emotional over his death.  I myself felt fragile, as I might break at a touch.

Ali’s death was not entirely unexpected: he was elderly, and suffering from Parkinson’s for decades. But there are people who are such towering historical figures that you almost expect them to always be there.

Muhammad Ali

24 Apr 1982, Cannes, France — Muhammad Ali Praying — Image by © Richard Melloul/Sygma/CORBIS

Muhammad Ali inspired an entire generation by standing up for what was right; he spoke out proudly as a Muslim, as an anti-war icon, and as a self-thinking black man at a time when that kind of strength was desperately needed.

But this is the nature of life. Everything and everyone ends, and in the ends are beginnings, though they may be hidden at first. In a purely chronological sense, Muhammad Ali’s life ended, and – like a soothing balm or a consoling embrace – Ramadan began. Could there be a better time to pray for his soul? A better time to be inspired by him? A better time to stand up for what is right?

Now, this year, we enter Ramadan under the shadow of recent terror attacks. Many of us are shocked, embarrassed, frustrated and angry. We are sick of our religion being demonized and defined by fools and devils who masquerade as Muslims.

At the same time parts of the Ummah groan under the weight of suffering, a suffering that receives little attention in the press: the killings of Muslims in Myanmar, the steady ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Central Africa, the ongoing hardship in Palestine… and of course Syria. The list goes on.

How does one live with the knowledge of all these events and still celebrate Ramadan? How does one connect with her or his spirituality, let go of anger and shame, and embrace the healing of this month?

I don’t have a complete answer, but again I say: Ramadan is the month of mercy. Is there a better time to pray? Is there a better time to ask for guidance, purification, inner peace, and relief? Is there a better time to humble ourselves? Is there a better time to stand for truth?

Hena Zuberi describes Ramadan as an old friend, familiar and comforting. “We will cry together,” she writes, “and I will give to her and she will give to me and even if it’s not all good, it’ll be good… She will change my routine and I will love the change because I love being with her. She knows I need it.”

This is a beautiful way to look at Ramadan: not commanding or demanding, but welcoming and kind.

Avoiding Anger

Every Ramadan I have a mission for myself, something I want to work on and change. My mission for this year is to let go of anger over things I cannot control. All I can do is speak the truth, set an example, give what I can in charity and strive to purify myself. Anger does not serve me. It does not bring me closer to Allah.

You might protest. “But,” you might say, “the events in the world are outrageous! We should be angry. How can I not be furious?”

In response I mention a hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him:

Abû Hurayrah relates that a man said to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “Counsel me.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request many times, but the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) kept saying: “Do not get angry.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]

Ibn Hajar, in his commentary on this hadith, observes:

The man stated his question repeatedly, hoping to solicit an answer that was more beneficial, or more explanatory, or more general; however he did not give him anything more than that.” [ Fath al-Bârî ]

I submit that there is a difference between righteous indignation and anger. Anger is a destructive emotion. It leads to rash choices and violent actions. Some terrorist attacks are undoubtedly motivated by blind anger. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) treated anger like a sickness. His prescription, as mentioned in various ahadeeth, was to stay quiet and sit down, or lie down, or perform wudu’.

In other words, self-control, contemplation and ‘ibadah.

Rather than anger, what we want is righteous indignation that leads to righteous action. We want to respond to evil by doing what we can against it, in a lawful way. Speak, write, teach, organize, and donate. Do, and do right, and the rest belongs to Allah. This is the path of inner peace.

Again I point to the example of Muhammad Ali, who was a strong voice for truth and justice, but who in his private life was, as his daughter Hana described him a “humble mountain.” He also devoted much of his time to philanthropy, earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Charity

Strife and trouble have existed from the beginning of time. Violence will always exist on this earth. These things are not new. What is new is that in the age of instant communications, every act of violence anywhere on earth is beamed without delay into our homes. The constant barrage of negative news and violent images is spiritually destructive. It is not natural for us to be exposed to this bombardment of negativity.

I personally have found that I am much more at peace when I do not watch or read political news. It does not benefit me to know the details of every attack, bombing or murder anywhere in the world.

That does not mean that I stick my head in the sand. I educate myself about broader issues, and I do what I can, but I do not allow my spirit to be traumatized.

Sadaqah and ZakatIt is also vital to donate what we can to those in need.

Allah SWT says:

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden whose width is that of the heavens and the Earth, prepared for the God-fearing. Who spend in times of ease and times of hardship and who restrain their anger and who pardon people. And Allah loves those who do good.” [ Sûrah `Âl `Imrân : 133-134]

Do you see the juxtaposition of anger and charity? Allah says that the righteous restrain their anger and forgive, and they spend in Allah’s cause.

Charity is a spiritual purifier, and it changes lives. Perhaps your donation will not change the world, but if it saves one life, then haven’t you changed the world for that one person?

Please donate generously to those for whom even a meal, or a roof over their heads, would be life-changing. Here are some organizations that assist Syrian refugees, Palestinians in crisis, people suffering from drought in East Africa, Haitians still homeless from the earthquake, hungry in the nation’s capital and others.

Will you help them? Remember that when you give to Allah Most High, He gives back more to you. It’s a guarantee, and I have seen it in action in my own life.

Global Giving Foundation

International Rescue Committee

Islamic Relief USA

Life for Relief and Development

American Refugee Committee International

Save the Children

UNICEF

RashidunDC

Together we can make a difference, Insha’Allah.

Oh Allah, make this Ramadan a time of peace and faith and safety. O Allah, for You do we fast, and in your name we break our fast. All praise is due to You, who fed us, and gave us to drink, and made us Muslims. Purify us during this month, relieve us from our burdens. You are the Most Forgiving, so forgive us and and guide us forward. Ameen!

 

Wael Abdelgawad is the author of the novel, Pieces of a Dream. To learn more about him, visit his website, Wael Abdelgawad.com.

Wael Abdelgawad's latest novel is Pieces of a Dream. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com, and various financial websites. Heteaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Don't wish to published

    May 31, 2017 at 12:27 AM

    ” Muslims in Myanmar, the steady ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Central Africa, the ongoing hardship in Palestine.” last year Ramadan Began with Killing Of three Innocent Believers , Jewish at Iftar Time. Or, Maghreb Times, in a Cafeteria, by Palestinian Muslims. Followed by Orlando’ Massacre! 20 lives slaughter in Dhaka, Bangladesh !!!
    Prior to that was series of attack,live lost ,here in the USA. St.Bernardino, California lost 13 lives.( Perhaps! ms. Zuberi should Speak on behalf of her Pakistani Muslim Community. Majority of which are Shitta)
    I can’t forget that Horror!! It is haunting me everyday !!!

    Don’t know when Burma has become a Muslim Nations?
    In Spite of That, I would Wish as a Muslim Scholar, You would Quote from Quran, at this Ramadan. Specially, Surah “YUNUS. Chapter#10.” Where Allah has Said to Prophet Moses(PBUH) to Leave Egypt and move to the Promise Land. Israel. ” Aya.. 93.

    So, as a Muslim Scholar, Writer, Social Activist If you would use your Mighty Sword, “The Pen” to write about that, I would be thankful to You, as a Fellow Muslim. Who is Frustrated ! Angry ! and Sad !!!!

    By the Grace Of Allah, I am Still living, while my Deadliest Enemy Stalk me Online and Offline. Here , In the USA! I laugh at them. Unfortunately they are GOD Believing !!!!?

    So,Please, brother Write. Speak up to the Middle Eastern Muslim Community; to the Palestinian.. that ,for the the sake of common good , to bring Peace in the Muslim WORLD, to Keep the Legacy of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)..they need to Stop creating their Self Inflicted Harm.. and Spreading it around the Muslims World. Which only has been destroy, the Faith, the Religion ISLAM, over the Past half century !!!

    Losing Islamic Faith,or Believers over Christian Missionary in central Africa is because of them. !!!!

    Muslims, have to realized that, Jews are our brothers too ! We all have to answer to Allah ! This is time for them to accept the Facts, ” State of Israel” for Jewish has been Commanded by Allah. They should follow that, to bring Peace in the Community and in the WORLD itself.

    Best Regards

    Unknown.

  2. Avatar

    saeed Muhammed lawan

    June 1, 2017 at 2:40 AM

    The best reminder that I read today , it was so beneficial may Allah rewards you and may the soul of legend Muhammad Ali rest in peace.

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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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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

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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

JazakAllahuKheiran


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: DMagazine.com


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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