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14 Topics All Islamic Schools Should Address During High School | Dr Shadee Elmasry

Dr Shadee Elmasry

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If you or someone you know is involved in an Islamic school, please read this and pass it on. This is critical to our growth as a community.

The people in Islamic schools have been honored with the charge of teaching the deen to the next generation. Teachers have them for 180 days a year. If they have a deen or Islamic Studies class twice a week, that is 72 periods a year. If we multiply this by four years of high school, that’s nearly 275 hours of tuition.

By 7th grade, students should have completed Shamail, seerah, aqidah, and fiqh —basically the fundamentals of the religion. All of high school should then be spent wrestling hard with the shubuhaat (doubts and thorny issues) that will be thrown at them in college.

Here is a list of things that I believe can be covered by junior year, leaving all of senior year for it to marinate in their minds through a comprehensive review and a senior paper. Here’s the list (in no particular order). Please feel free to add to it in the comment section:

1 Myth or truth: The historicity of the sources. How the Quran and Hadith were compiled and preserved

2 The theology and cosmology of gender

3 Evolution: what are our beliefs regarding the creation of the first man. Animals? The concept of “Be and it is.”

4 Secular ethics: who has the authority to decide what’s right and what’s wrong? Can religion be boxed into only the home and the masjid

5 Universalism: are religions subjective? Do all paths lead to God? Or is one of them true?

6 Women in Islamic history. There is an eight volume work on female scholars of hadith. There were many more rulers and queens among and influential contributors in other fields.

7 Sexuality between fiqh, theology, and interaction. How do I interact with my gay colleague? Can I go to his wedding? How do my deal with my sister if she comes out as a lesbian?

8 Riba: what is is and how does it relate to loans and modern finance contracts

9 Marriage: the right ways and the wrong ways of going about it. Marriage related issues in the Muslim Student Associations.

10 Citizenry, Loyalty & Identity: Between faith and nationalism. How to balance our deen and it’s world-wide Ummah and our citizenry in a non-Muslim majority country, particularly one at war with Muslim countries

11 The Deluge of Temptations: the spiritual, psychological, physical, familial, social, and financial side-effects of pornography and drugs.

12 Philosophy: the “Problem of Evil,” “Can God create a rock He can’t lift?” And other failed coups. A high school senior in a Muslim school should be able to write an essay on these topics with their eyes blindfolded.

13 Liberal Reform in Islam: Is the Sunnah a source of legislation? What is usul al-fiqh? A high school junior in an Islamic school should be able to give a talk on the sources and methodology of Islamic legislation as well as the fundamental differences between the madhhabs.

14 Spirituality – students must learn to detect the signs of a dimming faith and spiritual atrophy,  as well as know the simple methods of haunting and reversing the downward spiral.

I would venture to say that thousands of American Muslims and  millions world-wide lose their iman in college. Islamic schooling is truly effective if it’s seniors graduate armed with deep and nuanced understandings of the challenges to come. We need to be a creative minority. Our seniors should enter into college with an agenda of their own (outlined in their senior thesis). We need to be the subjects of history not the objects. Instead of being the naive targets of someone else’s agenda, we need to have our own thought and our own agenda.

Be the predator, not the prey.

Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey and studied in the Muslim world in Fez, Hadramawt, Cairo, Makka, and Madina. He completed a Masters from The George Washington University in comparative religion, then a PhD from the University of London, SOAS on “Da’wa in the Works of Imam al-Haddad.”

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Osman Umarji

    January 17, 2018 at 3:21 AM

    JazakumAllahu khair for raising these important issues to be discussed in Islamic schools.

    While I agree that children should learn all the topics mentioned, we need to address who among the Islamic school staff is capable of discussing these topics. These are topics that academics and scholars struggle to explain, in addition to the lack of consensus on many of these matters.

    Before these matters can be taught to adolescent Muslim youth, both rich content needs to be available for educators and a pedagogy for how to teach these issues. This requires a fair level of collaboration among teachers and subject matter experts.

    • Avatar

      Nabeel Hasan

      January 17, 2018 at 4:04 PM

      Muslim children in addition to everything Dr ElMasry has mentioned, need to be taught Islamic history as well. They need to know how the Khilafa was abolished in Turkey, they need to understand the colonial history and how much of every single Islamic country was under the grip of the European powers and how that caused an erosion of much of our literature, history, culture, language and overall identity of being Muslim and the concept of Ummah. However, with the minimizing of the globe through globalization, I think we have a unique opportunity to really get our children to link with the Ummah. Only then will we rid ourselves of the secular aspects of nation states and the blind faith we place on this aspect.

    • Avatar

      Fatima Ahmad

      January 19, 2018 at 7:55 PM

      -Logic/Mantiq- the basis for critical thinking, is NOT taught in public schools, or Islamic schools

      –VERY important: the study and PRACTICE of Islamic Arts, the indifference to beauty is indifference to Allah, as one Islamic Arts professor put it very eloquently in his article, The Silent Theology of Islamic Arts. (a must read for us all).

      -I agree with the above comment of Islamic History, Ottoman/ Moghul Empires.

      May Allah help us in realizing these high aspirations!

    • Avatar

      Sami

      February 12, 2018 at 3:58 PM

      Completely agree.

  2. Avatar

    Imran

    January 17, 2018 at 2:47 PM

    Thank you for this list; it’s helpful, and unfortunately not brought up nearly enough. I would add the importance of encouraging the three physical components of education that comes to us by way of hadith: teach your children swimming, horseback riding, and archery. There is benefit in other sports, but these have particular spiritual benefits that we can be assured are prophetic.

    Another glaring problem in our curriculums is the lack of very good history books. I’d say Destiny Disrupted might be a good book for high schoolers, but the most important thing is understanding the roots and development of Western culture as well as the causes of decline of Muslim civilizations. It’s of critical importance that Muslims know at what point in history they stand, so that they may learn what it is they must do, bi’dnillah.

    And Allah knows best.

  3. Avatar

    Maryam

    January 18, 2018 at 10:35 AM

    What about purification of the heart?

    • Avatar

      Farid

      January 18, 2018 at 1:26 PM

      I appreciate this effort of making the issues available for teaching contemporary Islam in schools for students who are in a panic state. More importantly, caliber muslim intellectual borad dealing worldwide islamic issues should be set up to tackle the burning problems in muslim world. Backwardness of muslims is the cost of lack in group efforts. And we muslims have ideas but these ideas grow and exhibit without utilisation. Unity is what ummah atfirst place represents for.

  4. Avatar

    Usman Quraishi

    January 18, 2018 at 3:39 PM

    i think this is expecting too much from high school children. they should focus more on secular studies to get into good college and enhance their critical thinking skills. Nowadays, high school students have short attention span and are pretty immature

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      January 19, 2018 at 1:51 AM

      And covering these topics from a young age might exactly be the solution to the problem you are stating.

    • Avatar

      Raadiya Shardow

      January 29, 2018 at 11:52 PM

      Not only is that statement offensive, it is false. You have no idea the capabilities and intellect of high school students when they actually put effort into it. Look at other programs across the country, AP and IB classes all have this amount of rigor or more. Why can’t the same bar be applied to a crucial subject like Islamic Studies? When we start dumbing down our future, we have already lost.

  5. Avatar

    Muniba

    January 18, 2018 at 7:20 PM

    Although these topics are truly important and relevant, I must assert the importance of instilling the basics of faith and understanding of the deen both intellectually and emotionally in children in much younger stages.
    Although we focus a lot on the youth, part of the problem is that children are growing up only knowing Islam as a list of requirements, words recited in Arabic, and a list of prohibitions.
    Someone who grows up armed with only the above, yet emotionally vested in non-Muslim cultural norms may not find it worthwhile to sort through the more complex “youth” topics.

  6. Avatar

    Irfan Farooqui

    January 20, 2018 at 11:59 PM

    Masha-ALLAH the topics are very comprehensive. However along with them please provide the resources also.

  7. Avatar

    Md Nayeem

    January 23, 2018 at 10:06 AM

    You have pulled out some points, which are really need in our education institutions, even, not only for Islamic school but also in Islamic state school. Unfortunately it is happening alter, i.e. our Islamic schools have been following basic schools curriculum as to be modern. My brother!! you made some valid points, these are very essential to guide our advance mature child. These should be the very first tuition to get through our child as a decent human being in this growing secular & nasty society. Hope for the best in future,,,may Allah help us to imply these all….

  8. Avatar

    Amos

    January 23, 2018 at 1:30 PM

    They say that education is wasted on the young.

  9. Avatar

    LWR

    January 23, 2018 at 5:41 PM

    Several points come to mind after reading this excellent post and the comments which follow it:
    1. Many of the older Muslims in the U.S. were not born or brought up here, but our Muslim youth were born here and are being brought up in the United States. If we, as serious and caring Muslim adults, leaders, guides, and educators, truly want to prepare our youth to take pride in an identity which is often misunderstood, and which has been – especially recently – the subject of attack and concentrated misinformation, then we owe it to them to give them the wherewithal to do so. This very much includes the tackling of the post’s topics… and more.
    2. This should not be considered a “fluffy, liberal” extra tacked on to traditional Islamic educations. It is absolutely critical that these issues be addressed head on, in an atmosphere which is non-judgmental and non-threatening. I have been in Islamic education for many years and have witnessed first-hand the disillusionment, sense of betrayal – and bewilderment our Muslim youth face at college and beyond after leaving the protected confines of their Islamic school and/or community.
    3. It is NOT serving our Muslim youth, our Muslim Ummah, or even the future of Islam in the United States, to ignore these thorny issues. Bottom line: If they are not getting their answers from knowledgeable, conscientious, understanding adults, they most certainly WILL ask others! And they often don’t like the answers that they get. The Internet is a Pandora’s box of information, and misinformation. Shameful but true: American, anti-Muslim prejudice and discrimination is widespread. When we send our youth into such situations unarmed, uninformed, and/or under-informed, they SUFFER – a LOT!

  10. Avatar

    Habib of LWR

    January 23, 2018 at 7:40 PM

    having worked a number of years with troubled youth and being a father of three I can assure you that the muslim youth that are insulated from reality due to over protective parents (this not exclusively an issue with muslim parents) who feel they are preparing children for adulthood are preparing them to venture out into the world (college for instance) ill-equipped and thoroughly enabled setting them up for the harsh reality that their peers are going to challenge them to think and question their belief system. College is not only a time to continue academic studies to earn a degree in a subject that will hopefully translate into paycheck, college is a time when the student is trying out being an adult and socializing with their peers. A time when they are full of idealism and really think they are able to change the world. if they are unprepared to meet the inevitable struggle that awaits them they will indeed be prey and the predator will be able to smell their vulnerability as soon as they walk in the room.

  11. Avatar

    Rifat Islam

    January 28, 2018 at 7:17 PM

    I know another commenter has mentioned Mantiq/Logic but a science that’s both praised in the ancient and modern worlds is rhetoric and debate. Islamic high schools throughout the country have generally been absent from the state and national debate tournaments. Debating domestic and foreign policy trains them to think critically, argue fluently and persuasively, etc. So I highly encourage any Islamic high schools to register motivated students to their local debate tournaments.

    • Avatar

      Dr. Shadee

      April 24, 2019 at 7:02 PM

      Mantiq is critical.

  12. Avatar

    Maureen Newton

    February 2, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    Usman Quraishi has it in one. Education in Britain should be non religious. In Britain think British all are here to improve the country as a whole not be biased to a religious backwater.

  13. Avatar

    Uzma

    November 16, 2018 at 7:47 AM

    Thank you for your suggestions which I found very relevant and pertinent. The problem is now finding the right people and correct information to teach these topics. Could you recommend any books, online lectures, websites; which provide authentic knowledge on the topics you have listed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you again.
    Warmest salams
    Uzma Jung

  14. Avatar

    Senad Agic

    April 23, 2019 at 12:39 PM

    I would appreciate if a lesson about “Sticking to the Jama’ah” would be added. Our youth tend to distance themselves from the Jama’ah and the Imam to the point to declare that there is no need to follow any person or any authority or institutional religion. Some of them later become disoriented and religious in their own way. This way often leads to all kinds of deviations and extremism.
    The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has informed us in the hadith of Hudhayfah radiallahu ‘anhu in which he said: “The people used to ask the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about the good, and I used to ask him about the evil out of fear that it would reach me.” So I asked the Messenger of Allah: “O Messenger of Allah, we were living in ignorance and evil, then Allah brought this good to us. So will there be any evil after this good?” He replied: “Yes.” I then asked: “Will there be any good after this evil?” He replied: “Yes, but it will be tainted.” So I asked: “What will be its taint?” He replied: “A people who guide others to other than my way, you will approve of some of their actions and disapprove of others.” I further enquired: “Then is there any evil after this good?” He said: “Yes! Callers at the gates of Hell – whoever responds to their call, they will be thrown into the fire.” I then said: “O Messenger of Allah! Describe them to us.” He said: “They will be from our people and speak our language.” I asked: “So what do you order me to do if that reaches me?” He said: “Stick to the Jama’ah (the united body) of the Muslims and their Imam (ruler).” I further asked: “What if they have neither Jama’ah or an Imam?” He said: “Then keep away from all those sects, even if you have to bite upon the roots of a tree, until death reaches you whilst you are in that state.” Related by al-Bukhari (no.7084) and Muslim (no.1847)

  15. Avatar

    Farheen Khan

    April 23, 2019 at 5:21 PM

    I hate to disagree, but as someone with extensive experience in curriculum design as well as a mother of 2 high schoolers (a junior and a senior), this article shows a shocking lack of understanding in respect to educational psychology, child development, and general curriculum design. Most disheartening is the lack of understanding for the needs of high schoolers, especially seniors. At this point in their studies, the topics they study should be focused on action not theories. Especially as seniors on the cusp of entering the “real world”, they should be DOING not philosophizing. Of the 14 points mentioned in the article, only a few address the social issues that are inevitably faced by college students. The rest – philosophical. The emphasis needs to be shifted, drastically. Topics should be relevant, meaningful, and actionable from a student’s perspective.
    Additionally, students need to revisit topics periodically throughout their formative years. The idea presented that students should have completed their study of seerah, aqidah, fiqh, etc. by 7th grade might sound great in theory but not in reality. The changes that take place in a student morally, cognitively, physically, emotionally, etc. from 7th grade to 12th grade are astounding. There are also issues for implementing this schoolwide, which I will not get into on a FB post at the moment :) The solution: a spiral design curriculum, the reevaluation of student goals, and a more action-oriented pedagogical approach to achieving those objectives.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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Our Plastic Planet

Abu Ryan Dardir

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We travel through time and see the different times as a race that we have advanced through. A few of those times were identified by the materials used or that were life-changing. The stone age, the bronze age, and the iron age. If our time was to be identified, it is undeniable the plastic age.

Chemically, plastic is made up from organic compounds like such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, crude oil. When plastics were first introduced, it was a life-changing compound that littered homes (then the world). Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. It makes visiting beautiful sites created by Allah, disappointing. What does pollution, specifically plastic, has to do with our role as Muslims? and to what capacity?

Before understanding that, we have to see how plastics impact life on Earth.

Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.

44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.

Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).

Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.

These are just a few examples, the list is much longer. Before I go any further, I want to express my opinion first, as an environmental activist. Your individual actions in dealing with pollution are your duty as a Muslim, but the change we need for our survival needs to happen on an international level.

Abu Zarr Al-Ghafari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah).”

This simple hadith resonates with us due to the magnitude of its influence. Moving an obstacle is charity, we associate money with charity and tend to forget that other actions that can count as charity. What does removing an obstacle has to do with plastics? As I mentioned earlier 40% of the ocean’s surface is covered in plastic. That is a disturbance to other living creatures. As we remove the obstacles from the path of many creatures, we can work on ourselves to avoid putting it there, to begin with. This also relates to point number three of how many living creatures are impacted by our negligence. Not just plants and animals, but people as well. You can take a moment to google images of plastic in our world and see that they aren’t just neatly packed in garbage bags or recycling bins.

Imaams al-Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “There is a reward for service to every living creature.”

These are violations we commit and deeds we are prevented from by participating in this plastic culture. More importantly, we are harming ourselves and contaminating useable drinking water. Earlier I wrote an article about water its right upon us.

God’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) expressed this in the following way:

“It is a fact that in the next life you will render their rights to those to whom they are due. The hornless sheep even will receive its right by way of retaliation from a horned sheep that butted it.” Muslim, Birr, 60.

Our actions in this modern era echo around the world. My polluting habits may cause harm elsewhere. My spending habits may entice more harm than good. It may seem extreme, but science proves that we are all connected in a delicate chain or balance, a balance set by the wisdom of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). More importantly, it is documented from the words of the Prophet. An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5665, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2586

When water gets contaminated it is then rendered useless, depriving millions of basic survival. There are plenty of freshwater reserves completely useless due to toxic pollution from plastic manufacturing.

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ

عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَلاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ رَجُلٌ حَلَفَ عَلَى سِلْعَةٍ لَقَدْ أَعْطَى بِهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا أَعْطَى وَهْوَ كَاذِبٌ، وَرَجُلٌ حَلَفَ عَلَى يَمِينٍ كَاذِبَةٍ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ لِيَقْتَطِعَ بِهَا مَالَ رَجُلٍ مُسْلِمٍ، وَرَجُلٌ مَنَعَ فَضْلَ مَاءٍ، فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ الْيَوْمَ أَمْنَعُكَ فَضْلِي، كَمَا مَنَعْتَ فَضْلَ مَا لَمْ تَعْمَلْ يَدَاكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ عَلِيٌّ حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ غَيْرَ مَرَّةٍ عَنْ عَمْرٍو سَمِعَ أَبَا صَالِحٍ يَبْلُغُ بِهِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏

As narrated by Abu Huraira:

“The Prophet said, ‘There are three types of people whom Allah will neither talk to nor look at, on the Day of Resurrection. (They are): 1. A man who takes an oath falsely that he has been offered for his goods so much more than what he is given. 2. A man who takes a false oath after the ‘Asr prayer in order to grab a Muslim’s property, and 3. A man who withholds his superfluous water. Allah will say to him, Today I will withhold My Grace from you as you withheld the superfluity of what you had not created.” [Bukhari: 2370]

We do not want to be guilty of withholding water from other directly or indirectly. With the advanced technology and the thousands of websites providing information, there are plenty of ways to determine if your daily habits have an impact on others well being.

We only manage to recycle 5% of the plastic wasted, and 90% of the pollution in the ocean is plastic. Are we asked to recycle? Is it just good practice or a practice is preferred?

Asked about what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to do in his house, the Prophet’s wife, `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), said that he used to repair his shoes, sow his clothes and used to do all such household works done by an average person.

Recycling and reusing is a critical part of conserving and protecting what we have. You can start with yourself, but your goal is to expand these actions to other families, communities, countries. If the action is sincere this would bring us closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Saheeh Muslim)

 

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Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed

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A man passed by al-Miqdaad ibn al-Aswad raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), one of the most distinguished Companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The man said, “How lucky your two eyes that witnessed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)”. Ibn al-Aswad profoundly responded by saying,

Why should anyone wish to witness a scene that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) did not wish him to see? He does not know what it would have been like if he had witnessed it or which party he would have been among if he went back in time.

By Allah! Allah’s Prophet saw people who were thrown right into Hell, so you should thank Allah that you were spared such a trial and were honored by firm belief in Allah and his Prophet”.

As human beings, we all struggle with adversity especially in societies which are driven by competition and materialistic pleasure. This drive creates difficult expectations, labels, and stigmas that breed unhealthy communities which spur widespread stress and pain. As Muslims, many of us struggle to define our role and place in societies where Muslims are the minority. We are horrified and worried when atrocities seem to occur so often solely because of the faith we believe in, such as in Burma or Central African Republic. Across the world, many countries with Muslims as the majority population are crippled by war such as Syria and Yemen. Our faith is abused by twisted minds to create chaos. In addition, random terrorist attacks in Mali and New Zealand have us wondering whether we will be attacked at our local masjid, or even in public settings such as offices and schools.

Our Ummah has always faced adversity and we will continue to do so as we struggle to be on the path of Islam. However, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as a guide to this Ummah on how to deal with adversity and keep our optimism. His life is a means for us to be inspired and motivated to strive for excellence. Indeed, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was tested more than any other prophet that preceded him. The rapid spread of Islam and the change it brought to the world was built upon a prophet and his companions who endured an extraordinary amount of adversity, all in order to provide a means of salvation for the generations that would come after them.

Many Muslims know the basics of the Prophet’s life such as his birth in Makkah, the migration to Madina, some of the battles, and the conquest of Makkah. However, if one were to read the Seerah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in-depth, one would be astonished to the sheer amount of trauma, pain, and grief the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) experienced. He was subject to intense verbal/physical abuse, public humiliation, family deaths, and more. Depending on the physical and emotional toll, we know different people are more or less sensitive to adversity. For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the adversity of establishing the Deen was immensely troubling as he had the purest and softest of characters. In addition, the prophets who came before him were comforted in knowing that they had a successor. Some of them were their children in Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). But the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had no prophet to follow him, therefore his Message would be the last that mankind could benefit from.

The Quran says in Surah al-Ahzab:

مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَآ أَحَدٍ مِن رّ‌ِجَالِكُمْ وَلَكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيّـِينَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلّ‌ِ شَيْءٍ

عَلِيماً

Muhammad is not the father of (any) of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And God has full knowledge of all things. (Verse 33:40)

To proclaim the Divine Message to a resistant society has shown through the history of the Prophets to yield hardship and extreme difficulty. To be the final messenger was an increased burden. One example was when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was praying in front of the Kaaba and a member of the Quraysh named Uqbah ibn Abu Mu’ayt placed the intestines, dung, and feces on the back of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) while he was in sujood. The weight of the filth was so heavy that the Prophet could not get up until he received the assistance of his daughter Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), who was a pre-teenager at the time. How hurtful must that scene have been for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? How did he deal with the humiliation the leaders of his city displayed in front of his child? How disheartening must have it been for his resolve to establish the worship of Allah?

This type of treatment was a regular occurrence in the pre-Hijrah era of Islam. Eventually, the treatment spurred into a boycott against the Muslims and the Hashemites who were the Prophet’s clan. According to Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings:

A document was drawn up according to which it was undertaken that no one would marry a woman of Hashim or give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim; and no one was to sell anything to them, or buy anything from them. This was to continue until the clan of Hashim themselves outlawed Muhammad, or until he renounced his claim to prophethood.

In those three years of boycott, many of the followers of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) such as Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) lost their statuses in society. Public humiliation, poverty, malnourishment, torture, molestation, and even murder were perpetrated against the small community of Muslims around the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). There are narrations which talk about the fact that they would hear the cries of babies going to sleep at night. They buried so many children and babies at that time who died due to disease, malnourishment, and starvation. They could hear the mothers crying who had buried their babies the day before. It was a time of great suffering and sacrifice.

Shortly after the ban was annulled, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) increased the test of His beloved Messenger at a time called ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn (عام الحزن), the Year of Sadness. In 619 AD, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the wife of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for 25 years passed away. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in shock after the first revelation descended, it was Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) who comforted him and consoled him. She was one of the first believer, mother of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) children, and a caretaker to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) cousin Ali and adopted son Zayd (RA). She was his main confidante and his closest friend. Her death was considered to be the greatest personal tragedy to the Prophet (SAW). In fact, his later wife ʿĀʾishah bint Abī Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that she was never jealous of the co-wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) except for Khadijah who had passed before she had wed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who would usually stay quiet in disputes with Aisha, stated when ʿĀʾishah voiced her upsetness at the Prophet’s lingering love for Khadijah:

Make this clear Aisha, you are not better than Khadijah. She believed in me when no one did and she testified to my truth when people said I was a liar. She gave everything she had to give me support.

Shortly afterward, Abu Talib, the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) uncle and chief tribal protector in Makkah passed away. Abu Talib had been the caretaker of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) after the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mother and grandfather passed away. But the situation before the passing of both these allies to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was poor and it was now going to become unbearable. Abu Lahab, another one of the Prophet’s uncles and one of his bitter enemies, arose as chieftain of the Hashemites would not give the Muslims adequate protection.

When adversity brought the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to his knees, he put his trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and continued to push forward. It was in this moment of desperation that the Prophet was sent his ultimate test; the Day of Taif. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) described the Day of Taif more testing than the Battle of Uhud. In his desperation, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) traveled to the nearby city of Taif in order to seek the city’s protection. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) met with the three leaders of the city, they feverishly rejected him and decided to turn the public against him. The representatives of the community gathered the youth, slaves, and others and to stone the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). The people of Taif purposely targeted the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) feet, severely damaging them. His blessed body was profusely bleeding and the crowd pursued both the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah for an excruciating three to six miles until he settled in a private orchard. It was in this moment where all hope had vanished. Now pushed to his extreme limits of endurance, he raised his hands and called out to his Lord:

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس

ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين

أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي

إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم الى عدو ملكته امرى

إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي

أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض

وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره

أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك

لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.

Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak, and you are my Lord.

To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given power over me?

As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy.

I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger.

To You, I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support.

When we struggle with adversity, calling out to our Lord is one of the last things that comes to our mind. Even if it does, we struggle to motivate ourselves to learn how to make dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and we struggle to raise our hands. The amount of sincerity and power of this dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was so great that Jibril 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) came down to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and reported that the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) appeal shook the heavens. Here, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) seeks only the pleasure of his Lord and he will do whatever he can to fulfill his Lord’s pleasure. However, the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only comes with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) own support and we should be seeking it with every trial or tribulation that we face.

There are three lessons that we can take away the way the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) dealt with adversity. First, how can we sincerely put our trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give us guidance when we have little to no relationship with our Lord to begin with. Therefore, the struggling believer must consistently engage in self-reflection. He or she should be asking, “Am I praying my five daily prayers?”, “Am I consistent in my prayers?”, “How much attention and effort do I give my five prayers?”, “Do I engage in the remembrance of Allah in my daily actions?”, “How often do I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for help”, “Am I trying to learn what is halal and haram?”. “Am I trying to inculcate more good deeds in my life?”, “Am I trying to leave sinning?”, “If I am still struggling in my relationship with Allah (SWT), am I reaching out to someone more learned?”, etc. These are the first things we need to be fulfilling in our struggle to be optimistic. If we still need help, we should not have fear in asking a professional such as a counselor or mentor.

Second, we need to be active in making our society a better place. The prophets were not just scholars, but they were changer-makers. They sought to make society a better place. Not only is our duty as Muslims to others who are struggling, but it alleviates a lot of burden on us when we help others. We are reminded of the hadith,

“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter.”

Lastly, be comforted in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) everlasting control over all the affairs of humanity and beyond. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was there before us, when we die, and for eternity. Everything is in accordance with His Will. When we set our intentions right and make sacrifices in our lives to please Him, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will replenish the believer with something equal or better. After this painful period in the Seerah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gifted His devout Messenger with two things, the miraculous journey of the Isra wal M’iraj and the story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). The story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent down to show the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he was not the first prophet who experienced difficulty. In Surah Yusuf, the Quran reminds us that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is عَلِيۡمٌ and حَكِيۡمٌ, the All-Knowing and All-Wise. In the verses of the Surah, these words were mentioned before the adversities in Yusuf and Yaqub’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) life, during the adversity, and after Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had rewarded Yusuf and Yaqub for their resolve. There is light at the end of every tunnel of adversity and only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can give us the guidance to get there, we only have to turn to him.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us the ability to maintain our optimism in our adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us an understanding of Islam so that we may help others overcome their adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to relieve the adversity of the Ummah.

 

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, MI. Shaykh Abdullah commenced his studies at the age of 10 in Toronto, Canada where he went to memorize the Quran.  He completed the memorization of the Holy Quran by the tender age of 12 and then went on to study in the 7-year extensive Shariah program in Toronto, Canada. Shaykh Abdullah then continued his research and studies, which took him on global journeys, such as Pakistan, Kuwait, and England.

Shaykh Abdullah specialized in Tafseer of the Quran. Sheikh Abdullah spent years to study the details and beauty of our Holy book since understanding and mastering the language of Holy Quran was always the primary goal.

Shaykh Abdullah is serving as an Instructor at Miftaah institute and is also the Director of Islamic Affairs at Flint Islamic Center. Shaykh Abdullah travels across North America for khutbas, workshops, and seminars. He is known for his motivational and enthusiastic style of speaking which leaves the audience focused and learning.

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