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How Will You Impact 40?

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I should probably offer to help.  But then again, sitting in my car and watching this guy who looks like a professional wrestler try to tie a king size mattress to the top of a mini cooper on what the weatherman described as the windiest day of the year is about as entertaining as it gets.

My wife and I were just leaving IKEA and the halal pepperoni pizza we just ordered wasn’t going to be ready for another 20 minutes.  And as much as it would have been nice to spend those next 20 minutes watching this whole thing go down until the man decided to toss the mattress and go home, I thought about how much I would have loved an extra hand if I was in his shoes.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.” [Muslim]

“I think I’m going to stop and help that guy,” I told my wife. She agreed. So I drove up to him and got out of the car and offered to help.  There was a sigh of relief in his eyes that made me feel good about helping him.  We didn’t speak a whole lot, but we made a great team. First, I ran back into IKEA and got some twine. And over the next 20 minutes in the freezing cold, we engineered the best mattress to car connection this IKEA parking lot has ever seen. Not even a tornado would be able to knock this thing off.

As we worked on tying the mattress to the car, I was doing some thinking on my own. I thought about the bad rap that Muslims get in the media. I thought about how it was my Islamic faith that made me want to help this man. I even thought about the example of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and how quick he was to help others. Then I thought to myself, maybe there’s a way to let this man know that I’m Muslim. And that Muslims aren’t such bad people like I’ve been hearing about all over the media.

I know! Maybe I should ask my wife to come over as we put the finishing touches on our project and ask her to help tie this last part down with me, so he sees that she’s wearing hijab. Nah. I changed my mind.  I remembered the time that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) came rushing back to Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) after he received the first revelation and she told him that it could never be something evil because he is good to his kin, he feeds the poor, and he cares for the needy. He wasn’t doing that just so he could tell them all he was Muslim. He was doing that because he felt it was the right of humanity upon him. I remembered that the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that he was a mercy to all mankind, and I realized that he wasn’t a mercy to mankind just so he could tell them he was Muslim. And I thought of the story of the time that the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saw a woman who was struggling and then helped her carry her belongings and on the way learned that she was leaving Madina to escape a man named Muhammad, while he did not say a word about who he was until she was so thankful by all he had done for her and asked his name, and he had to break it to her that he was the one she had been complaining about and trying to escape from. Yes, I thought about all of this that freezing night while we worked on tying that mattress down.

We were finally done. We would part ways never to speak to each other again. He would never know that I was Muslim, but at least I helped someone in need. I knew that my reward was with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and I felt good about it.

As we were about to head our separate ways, I went to shake his hand and found that he had quickly grabbed a $20 bill from his pocket and tried to put it in my hand as we shook hands. I didn’t plan what I was about to say next, but the first words that came out of my mouth were: “Absolutely not.  But if anyone ever says something about a Muslim, tell him a Muslim helped me out one time.” A huge smile came to his face. “Alright!  You got it man.  You got it!”

As Muslims living in the United States, we have some work to do. While we’re making progress in getting out there, becoming more involved, and changing the perception of Muslims in America, we still have a ways to go. The good news is that a new Pew Research Center poll shows that in recent years, Americans have expressed an increase in warm feelings toward religious groups in general, including towards Muslims, which has one of the largest increase in perception over the last three years.

I’m not so naïve as to believe that there aren’t people out there who won’t have a strong dislike of Muslims no matter what we do. However, there are plenty of people who are more rational than that; people whose fears are based on what they’ve actually seen and heard in the media – be it logical or not. One thing is for certain though, the majority of these rational people with negative feelings towards Muslims have one thing in common: they’ve never met a Muslim before. A recent YouGov poll showed that hostility toward Muslims in America exists alongside a lack of familiarity with Muslims. The poll shows that there is a direct correlation between the percentage of respondents who say they know members of the faith and the percentage who say they have favorable attitudes towards members of that faith.

This all got me thinking. Approximately one out of every 40 people in the United States is a Muslim. What if every Muslim could have a positive impact on 40 people around them? What if every Muslim could touch 40 lives?  Perhaps they are great friends and coworkers to others. Maybe they bring a small gift to their neighbor. Perhaps they make sure they’re always approachable so they can answer questions about Islam to their classmates. Or maybe they help someone tie a mattress on his car. Let’s encourage each other to do good. A friend once told me he once brought muffins into work on Eid and sent an email out to his coworkers saying that it’s Eid so he put muffins in the break room. Then he went on to tell me all of the great and interesting conversations his coworkers had with him about Islam and the things going on in the world after grabbing a muffin. I thought to myself that sounds pretty simple. I’ll have to try that next Eid.

Go out there and have a positive impact on at least 40 people. And don’t just do it because of the bad rap that Muslims get these days. Do it because the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that he was sent as a mercy to all mankind. Impact 40. Here is the Facebook event, please join the social media campaign and share how you spread positivity.

Make sure you leave a comment about how you touched somebody’s life today – no matter how insignificant you think it may have been. Who knows how many people will follow your lead and add good deeds on your scale.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Usman

    November 1, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    A thought provoking article regarding an issue that I too have considered many of times. This article brings to mind the aggressive “dawah men” who I have met or seen on youtube. The intention that these Muslim proselytizers have may be good, but the method is cringe-worthy.

    Often, we focus on outwardly qualities such as the beard, kufi, hijab, and other external Muslim identity features. The inner Ikhlas and Ihsan of good etiquette, conscientiousness, sincerity, honesty, patience, love, forgiveness, and other such positive inner attributes tend to go by the wayside. It saddens me to see Muslims forget these inner qualities as so many Quranic ayats and Hadeeths focus on intention of action and not the action itself.

    In the author’s story, the sincerity of helping someone (irrespective of faith) for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is admirable. But, what I found even more admirable is the conscientious decision to not give forceful dawah, but rather keeping clean Ikhlas. The clean Ikhlas and Sabr (patience) actually led to the final part of the story where soft impactful dawah was accomplished. The moral of the story being that if one has good intention in an action, the reward will come in this life and InshAllah in the next.

    • Avatar

      Aronno

      November 1, 2017 at 6:09 PM

      beautifully put.

  2. Avatar

    F.A

    November 8, 2017 at 10:21 PM

    Jazakallahkhair brother, I’m just a young lad in high school who often has this type of thought flash through my mind as I assist someone with something: “maybe I should somehow tell them that I’m a Muslim so their view of us improves”. Strong reminder to remain sincere in our intent and in our actions. Thank you so much.

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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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