Holy Quran

Prophet Ibrahim – Ever Inclined to God

Prophet Ibrahim blog

Arfa Yassir, Swindon

History has seen many successful people, from leaders to conquerors of large territories to the ones making ground breaking discoveries and inventions to the ones who have reached out to masses through their intellectual abilities. If we carefully examine their lives we find one thing in common i.e. all of them were focused on their aim. All other aspects of their lives were secondary to their goal. As a person of faith I believe when the focus of a person is God and His Unity then such a person cannot be removed from the pages of history and is bound to impact hearts.

Whenever God’s Unity or Tauhid, as it is called in Arabic, is mentioned, Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) is bound to be mentioned.  Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham is accepted and held in high esteem in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  The firm belief of a single All-Powerful Creator was engraved on his heart which made him fearless and brave. Even the strongest opposition, tribulation or trial could not shake his resolve. This is the reason why Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) has set such a high standard of sacrifice for God’s cause in the well-known account of his willingness to sacrifice his beloved son for God. The focus of his life was Allah the Exalted!

Though Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) has been mentioned in other Scriptures, the Holy Qur’an being the final and glorious Word of Allah takes the lead by awarding this Prophet of God with a very meaningful attribute. The word ‘hanif’ (حنیف) has been used for Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) in the Holy Qur’an. I found six verses in total wherein Allah mentions this word as an attribute of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace).

Consider the following verses with English translation where the word hanif has been translated as one who is ‘ever inclined to God’:

وَ قَالُوۡا کُوۡنُوۡا ہُوۡدًا اَوۡ نَصٰرٰی تَہۡتَدُوۡا ؕ قُلۡ بَلۡ مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

And they say, ‘Be ye Jews or Christians that you may be rightly guided.’ Say: ‘Nay, follow ye the religion of Abraham who was ever inclined to God; he was not of those who set up gods with God.’ (2:136)

مَا کَانَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ یَہُوۡدِیًّا وَّ لَا نَصۡرَانِیًّا وَّ لٰکِنۡ کَانَ حَنِیۡفًا مُّسۡلِمًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God. (3:68)

قُلۡ صَدَقَ اللّٰہُ ۟ فَاتَّبِعُوۡا مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ

Say, ‘Allah has spoken the truth: follow, therefore, the religion of Abraham, who was ever inclined to God; and he was not of those who associate gods with God. (3:96)

As every word of the Holy Qur’an is significant and as His Holiness Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad, second Caliph of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) emphasized that we must ponder over words and their sequence also, that is why a specific word is used instead of another word. When I started exploring the word hanif I found out for myself that the life of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) was indeed a living example of this attribute referred to him. The way he was ready to be thrown into fire or leave his hometown and his father but not let go of his faith in the Oneness of God tells us why he actually was ever inclined to God.

The word hanif can also means upright, one with pure faith, the focused. A Quranic dictionary[i] gives the following meanings for the Arabic root word for hanif:

“One on the right path; one who adheres firmly to Islam; one who is of religion of Abraham; who believes in One God; one inclining to or having a right state or tendency; one who turns or inclines from error to guidance”

This word hanif is also included in the niyyah, a brief Quranic prayer which Muslims say before offering Salat (Holy Quran 6:80) and it is interesting to note that this verse is also a statement of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace).

So the word hanif refers to one who gets rid of other distractions and sticks steadfastly to one well-chosen direction. That is what Allah demands from us when He asks us to be one of the followers of Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace). At this point we must question ourselves that when life presents us with fire, as it did Prophet Ibrahim (Holy Qur’an 21:69), wherein we have to throw our soul and  let go of our desires; do we have a faith strong enough to make us fall into it fearlessly? What is our focus in life? Is our focus this world? Or are we striving for Divine love? Are we ready to prove ourselves in tough situations that all we need is God’s love? This is only possible when the fire of Allah’s love being kindled within the heart is stronger than fires of worldly ambitions! Let’s fall into the fire of God’s love like Prophet Ibrahim (on whom be peace) did and see how it turns into flowers!

 

 

[i] Dictionary of The Holy Qur’an By: Malik Ghulam Farid M.A. (2009) page 206

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Features · Holy Quran

Explaining the Inexplicable: Science, Faith and Miraculous Events

Explaining the Inexplicable.png

Nabila Khalid, Bolton

I have come across atheists that fall into 2 categories –

– Those that dismiss miracles as fictitious fairy tales because they believe they go against the laws of nature.
– Those that are aware that the miracles referred to in religious scriptures can be proved through science and mathematics and can therefore not be classed as miracles at all.

I remember at the end of one of my lectures whilst studying Biomedical Sciences, the professor raving on about Richard Dawkins and how amazing his work is. How he proves that in a world of science – God is not only unnecessary but a delusion of the believers.

Am I the only one who is totally amazed by people who come to the conclusion that, because science can explain everything, it proves that there is no God? I wonder if my professor was aware that Dawkins himself stated “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist.”

Naturally one must look at the definition of miracles – there are so many variations and interpretations. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines a miracle as:

1. An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.
1.1 A remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences.

Ahmadi Muslims do not believe in the 1st definition. As His Holiness Mirza Tahir Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), the fouth Khalifa/Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community explains:

“Miracles are not seen in Islam as unnatural occurrences, but as natural phenomena that are concealed from human knowledge at that period of time. Otherwise, there would be many questions raised against the wisdom of God. If God created the laws of nature Himself, He should have made some provisions whereby without breaking them, He could bring about desired solutions to a problem.”

We can all agree that the human knowledge of the laws of nature is incomplete, if it was complete we would not be making new scientific discoveries all the time. It is due to this lack of knowledge that miracles such as those that occurred in the lifetime of Prophet Moses (peace be on him) as believed by not only Muslims but also Jews and Christians were ruled out by many as fictitious stories (some even go to the extreme that they deny Israelites ever lived in Egypt.) But both scientific and archaeological evidence is continuously emerging that give testament to the reality of the stories found in the scriptures.

“Then We sent upon them the storm and the locusts, and the lice, and the frogs, and the blood — clear Signs; but they behaved proudly and were a sinful people.” [Holy Qur’an 7:134]

This verse refers to the 10 plagues mentioned in the Bible (Exod. Chaps. 7-11) All of these can be explained scientifically. If we look at the sign of the blood which is referring to the water turning red when Moses (peace be on him) struck the river Nile with his staff, this can be explained by a phenomenon known as “red tide” in oceans which is when it suddenly appears red in colour due to a sudden red algae bloom. Red algae can be found in freshwater ecosystems and can be harmful to wildlife.

“Then We revealed to Moses, saying, ‘Strike the sea with thy rod.’ Thereupon it parted, and every part looked like a huge mountain. And We let others approach that place.
And We saved Moses and those who were with him. Then We drowned the others.” [Holy Qur’an 26: 64-67]

The splitting of the sea is another example of a miracle that has scientific explanations to it. Russian researchers have calculated that if there were strong winds of 67miles per hour overnight, in the time of Moses when the Red Sea would have been much shallower, it could have exposed the seabed. A Russian mathematician admits that there was still some miraculous intervention occurring adding “I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics.”
It is evident from both the Biblical account of the event as well as the Quranic account that when Moses and his followers reached the sea, it was time for the ebb-tide and the sea was receding, leaving a dry bed. Following the command of God, Moses and his people crossed it quickly. There is evidence that the part of the sea they crossed was only 2/3-mile-wide so the Israelites would have made it across during the low tide. When Pharaoh’s people reached they did not notice that it was almost time for high tide again. It appeared that Pharaoh’s people were heavily equipped with big chariots and heavy weapons, slowing them down so that they were still in the middle of the sea when high tide returned and drowned them all.

What is important to notice in these incidents is timing. Is it nothing short of a miracle that at the exact time when Pharaoh demanded a Divine sign from God, the river turned red? When the escaping Israelites were blocked by the sea and nearly over taken by Pharaoh and his men and facing death started to lose hope – God instructed Moses to strike the sea with his rod. Is it nothing short of a Miracle or Divine intervention that it was the exact time when the water started to recede?

“In this, verily, there is a Sign; but most of these would not believe. And surely thy Lord — He is the Mighty, the Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an 26:68-69)

 

References:

i. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/14/im-not-afraid-what-stephen-hawking-said-about-god-his-atheism-and-his-own-death/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.02894d66b306

ii. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle

iii. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/miracle

iv. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/christianity_facts_to_fiction/chapter_1.html#pgfId-1006068

v. https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=1646&region=E1&CR=E3%2CE2

vi. https://www.livescience.com/58638-science-of-the-10-plagues.html

vii. https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/759762/red-sea-moses-parted-bible-ancient-egypt

Exod. 14:21-28
Enc. Bib., col. 1437

Holy Quran · Islam

The Perfect Authority

The Perfect Authority Blog

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

In a recent RE class we studied the authority of the Bible in Christianity. The Bible is undoubtedly a most interesting text; at 5 billion copies sold it is the bestselling book in the world1 and holds a lot of fascinating information and wisdom as well as songs, poetry and historical accounts. Yet, it did come as a shock to me that the Bible has in fact been mistranslated and edited over the years; to the point where there are errors and contradictions found within the book.

Perhaps this surprise was naïve of me. After all, I am used to the Holy Qur’an; a text which was revealed around 1400 years ago and remains as intact as if it had been revealed yesterday. A text which came to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) through the angel Gabriel, from God Himself. A text which states, “Verily, We Ourselves have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.” (Al-Hijr, 15:10).

The gradual corrosion of the Biblical text seems inevitable, when we think of how long ago it was first written, and the amount of translations required to provide copies in over 2000 languages. This prompted me to wonder- what were the means by which the Qur’an has remained so perfect, and completely avoided corruption?

Well, as it turns out, through a number of interesting methods: 2

  • The revelation of the Holy Qur’an to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) took place over a period of 23 years, and was revealed in small segments by the Angel Gabriel. He then required the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to recite the revealed verses in his presence to assure they had been heard and memorised correctly.
  • Upon receiving the revelation, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) appointed four teachers, who he personally instructed in the memorisation of these revelations, thus ensuring the message was preserved- right down to the accuracy of the pronunciation.
  • Furthermore, the verses would promptly be read in Salat after their revelation. In this way, the main method of safeguarding the Quranic verses was via memorisation. By the time of the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) demise, there were over 100,000 Muslims and the memorising of the Holy Qur’an had become easy. [i]
  • On top of this, the verses were also recorded in written form; fifteen scribes were instructed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to preserve the revelations in writing, to serve as a backup.
  • During the revelation of the Qur’an, each Ramadan, the Angel Gabriel would recite all of the verses which had been revealed up to that point to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him)- and after the revelations completion, the angel recited the entire Qur’an to the Prophet twice. This served to arrange the revelations in their present order.
  • After the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passing away, Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) – the first Caliph of Islam- appointed a commission (largely consisting of the scribes previously employed by the Prophet) with the assignment of compiling the Quranic revelations into a single volume. The accuracy was checked by those Companions who had committed the whole Qur’an to memory. This was completed within two years of the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) passing.
  • The third Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), had the same group compile seven more copies which were checked for accuracy and distributed through the Muslim world. Those that were preserved have been used to check the accuracy of the current text.

And so, the authenticity, preciseness and preservation of the Holy Qur’an is something that has been greatly studied and accepted without a shadow of doubt. In a world of constant changes, shifts and development, there is something inherently comforting in always having an unchangeable constant to turn to for guidance; much like the One Whose Word it is.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books

2 https://www.alislam.org/library/articles/quran-history-of-text/

[i] https://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=-54&region=E1

 

Education · Hijab · Islam · Women

The Educational Potential of the Hijab: A cloth which can tie us together

educational potential of hijab (1)

Yusra Dahri, London

Recently in the news, Amanda Spielman, Ofsted chief inspector, has progressed with her previous comments about the hijab. It’s true that there is no necessity in primary school for a Muslim girl to wear the hijab. I didn’t wear a headscarf in primary school, but I don’t see the harm in wearing it either.

My classmates, genuinely curious, would have asked me why I wore it, and I would have explained to them why I liked wearing it and why my mother wore it. It could open up pathways for interfaith discussion and be an interesting supplement to RE, opening up the world for everyone present which is arguably, the purpose of school. Fast forward five or six years, when the hijab has been heavily politicised, perhaps my classmates would remember our discussions over what has been filtered down to them through the media.

Now, I try imagining what it would be like to be a little Muslim girl today. If I wanted to wear my headscarf, I would be questioned. Not by my friends, but by adults. I would be asked why I got in trouble by my friends and if I told them it was because of my headscarf, they would undoubtedly think it was something bad. By the time we reached secondary school, it would be a taboo topic. Instead of building a bridge between two parts of my life, I would begin to disrespect either religion or the establishment of education. Either would detract from my quality of life and personal enrichment.

I just have to wonder if this Ofsted policy would end up doing more harm than good. What’s the point in trying to relieve a child of family pressures when it is swiftly replaced by those of society and politics? School lays more and more pressure on children, year after year. As a student myself, I would say that my religion and prayer helped me more than anything my school could provide pastorally during my GCSEs. If I wanted children to fully succeed and enjoy their education, I would at least give them the freedom to think for themselves.

Personally, I feel the education sector has more to reconsider in regards to the restrictions placed on pupils propagated by the education system itself rather than diverting attention to the religion some students happen to follow.

Features · Islam

Finding Inner Peace

Finding Inner Peace Blog.png

Iffat Mirza, Raynes Park

Inner peace is not a destination. It is not as if we can find it one day and remain in the its bliss forevermore. No – reality likes to throw curveballs at us and keep us on our toes. It is important that we view inner peace as a state of mind that we can work towards and continue to work on. As we grow and acquire more experiences and world knowledge our definition of ‘inner peace’ will also change. In today’s hectic lifestyle it’s quite easy to forget to take care of oneself. Certainly, the self-care industry has made millions but is it possible to find inner peace without buying into large corporations? I certainly believe that Islam has the answer to this question.

Inner peace comes as a result of a personal relationship with oneself. This demands taking a step back and understanding who you are and what your priorities are. It is so easy to get lost in the world and forget what our ultimate goal is. As a Muslim, I believe that my purpose is to worship the Almighty. It is in His remembrance that we find peace as we are filled with a hope and a promise that here is indeed a Higher Power above us Who loves us at such an intensity that is unknown to human kind.

The Holy Qur’an states:
‘Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Aye! it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort;’ [13:29]
In just these words so much love is expressed as we see a personal relationship between each individual and Allah the Almighty.

Further, considering prayer as a form of meditation, there is undeniable scientific evidence of the benefits to one’s mental wellbeing which come as a result of prayer.

A study has stated:
‘Several reports on the application of prayers in psychotherapy illustrate the positive outcome in the individuals exhibiting pathological symptoms such as tension, anxiety, depression and anti-social tendencies.’ 1

Therefore, not only are the words of the aforementioned verse exceedingly comforting, they are also supported by scientific fact.

Along with building a strong relationship with yourself through building one with Allah, it is also essential to build a strong bond with your wider community. Through serving others we are able to come to terms with our own woes and worries. Through serving others and doing good works we spread a positive energy with those that surround us and indeed not only does this positive energy affect our exterior but also extends to the interior. Living a selfless life alienates anger and arrogance.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has stated:
The last and critical stage for great devout and truthful people is to avoid anger… Anger is generated when a person gives preference to his own self over the other. [Malfoozat vol.1 p.36]’
The importance of healthy societal relations is also emphasised in the Holy Qur’an:
‘A kind word and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury…’ [2:264]’

Such amiability in society inevitably is reflected within us and allows us to find comfort within ourselves, knowing that we are contributing members of society. Inner peace and outer peace are directly related. By creating a harmonious environment around us, we are creating one within.

This also extends to living a pious life in general. In remembering our Creator and serving others we are building inner and outer peace. These acts avoid the creation of disorder and mayhem in our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.

The Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us:
“Verily, God looks not to your figures, nor to your bodies, but He looks into your hearts and to your works of piety.” Then pointing to his breast, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Herein lies piety.’ This he repeated thrice.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Living a pious life, which as the Holy Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) reminds us is a matter of the heart, keeps us away from chasing material happiness. Material happiness is fleeting; we are trying to apply a tangibility to an intangible concept. Therefore, to find happiness or inner peace we must approach it with a concept similar in tangibility – that being piety.

Finding inner peace is imperative. Finding it is not an objective, rather a lifestyle. This lifestyle can be adopted with little acts that we perform every day and transform our lives. In trusting the Almighty our burdens are relieved. In serving others we create harmony. In living in piety we understand that inner peace is not material. In this process and a combination of these three interlinked practices, we can achieve inner peace.

 

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705686/

Customs and Rituals

Teenage Years: Keeping Faith in a Faithless World

Teenage Years and Faith poster

Nooresahar Ahmad, Hartlepool

In many ways, being a teenager is much harder than being an adult. We’re in the years when we have to make decisions that will impact the rest of our lives, even though most of us don’t really know what we want from our lives. Pressure is piled on what with exam results and parental expectations; having to balance our faith with our studies, our studies with our hobbies, and our hobbies with our rest. At a time when we need more sleep than ever, late nights are more often spent frantically completing homework than actually sleeping!

And then- on top of all that- there’s the peer pressure. Pressure from classmates and friends is something that weighs heavy on all teenagers. But when you’re a Muslim girl, and you stick out just a little bit (okay, a lot) more than everyone else, and the list of things you refuse to partake in (like wearing revealing clothing, socialising with boys or drinking alcohol) is much longer than others’, the pressure can be even harder to deal with. It is this very distinction that can make some people feel as though their religion and beliefs are becoming cumbersome; especially when their peers have no faith of their own, no religion that they are connected to, and cannot relate to their situation at all.

Some Ahmadi girls may well find it uncomfortable to enter discussions regarding their religion, drawing extra attention to themselves in an environment where they already feel (like all teenagers) self conscious. When they are asked questions about their faith they may want to shrink away from responding. However, as Ahmadi Muslim girls, we know this isn’t what we should do.

Looking towards the examples of the very accomplished, inspiring women in our Community, it is vital we calmly and kindly answer the questions of our classmates regarding our religion, stand our ground even if we are pressured to do otherwise, and learn that our unique identities as Ahmadi Muslim girls are not something to be ashamed of. Rather, we should take pride in who we are and what we believe. Doing so can often gain us more respect than changing ourselves to fit in.

To do this, however, it is vital that we have knowledge of our own religion. Otherwise, if we do not understand the reasoning behind the teachings, we can become confused and, when faced with a difficult question regarding our religion, may find we don’t know the exact answer. We do not have to blindly follow what our parents are telling us; instead, we should constantly ask questions and read religious books, articles and blogs so that we develop a faith in God, and an understanding of Islam, that is personal.

In short, no matter how busy we become, or how awkward we may feel, our faith isn’t something that we can afford to ignore or neglect. Because before long school will finish- and we will never see the classmates who once pressured us or made us feel uncomfortable ever again. The way we decide to act now will determine whether we can look back at our conduct with pride, or with regret. Even as teenagers, it is our responsibility as Ahmadi Muslims to put our faith first and prioritise our religion before anything else.

And once we have done that, we find that we are free to enjoy our adolescent days as much as-if not more- than the next person.

Holy Quran · Islam

A Colour That Never Fades

Arfa Blog

 

Arfa Niswan Yassir, Swindon

It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:

 صِبْغَةَ اللَّهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً ۖ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ

Translation: “Say, ‘We will adopt the religion of Allah; and who is better than Allah in teaching religion, and Him alone do we worship.’ (2:139)

Quranic commentary tells us that this verse is about colouring ourselves in God’s colour because His colour is the best. This indeed gives a new meaning to the word ‘colour’ and this is a beautiful expression everyone can relate to. It showcases the beauty of expression of the Holy Qur’an. ‘Colour’ is used so often in our lives in various contexts like the term ‘black or white’, then there are colours of races, flags are represented by colours and patterns. So Allah unites all forms of colour under one best colour that is the colour of Allah!

According to commentary of the Holy Qur’an the Arabic word in the verse صبغہ means dye or colour, mode of a thing, religion, baptism and code of laws.

The commentary also tells us that adopting the colour of Allah is the true baptism, that is, an initiation through which one can try to acquire Divine attributes on a human level and try and be a living manifestation of the same.

Like every other instruction in Qur’an this verse also demands thought and action. By reflecting on it and then putting it in practice we can fulfil the purpose of our existence i.e.  We colour our lives in His Colour. If we make this our goal, our objective and reason to be ultimately becomes our strength. Of course it’s difficult to maintain His colour in the presence of so many tempting colours of the world! However, we can pray and earnestly try for it! Though the colours of the world are tempting but their reality is nothing. So we need to strive to think, ponder and move from the superficial worldly colours to the enduring divine colours i.e. the attributes of Allah which we need to adopt on a human level and try and demonstrate in our lives.

Allah’s colour, His religion, His code of law is what constitutes the Holy Qur’an and it was also Allah’s colour that was demonstrated in the blessed life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

The process of adopting Allah’s colour is a wonderful journey, journey worth spending all our efforts on! So now is the time to take steps towards Allah before it is too late! To attain His colour should be the greater focus of life towards which all other intentions should be directed. This also means knowing how to keep moving in the right direction during the toughest of times, trying one’s best to keep one’s direction towards Allah.

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the fifth spiritual head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community mentioned and explained the aforementioned Quranic verse in one of his Friday Sermons a few years ago. He said:

“By adopting Divine attributes a person gains nearness to God. When a believer imbues God’s colour he or she attain his or her purpose of creation. He or she tries to practice that which God likes and tries and resists what God dislikes. The commandment ‘to adopt the religion/colour of God’ signifies that God has put the capacity in humans to adopt His attributes within their own sphere and to also demonstrate them. For example, man can adopt the Divine qualities of Malikiyyat (quality of being the Master), Rahmaniyyat (quality of being Gracious), Raheemiyyat (quality of being Merciful) and Rububiyyat (quality of being the Sustainer/Nurturer) on human level. Man can adopt the quality of being Sattar (One Who covers the faults of others) and of Wahab (the Bestower), in fact these qualities are sometimes demonstrated in the life of an ordinary person. A true believer imbues the colours/qualities of God to attract His love. It is essential to demonstrate these qualities to attract the love of God, to save humanity from sin and to attain the purpose of one’s creation. Ultimately, this demonstration becomes a source of merit in God’s sight.”[i]

Although this journey of adopting colour of Allah is a most fulfilling spiritual experience, it is not an easy way. It demands sacrifice of worldly wishes and desires, it demands a complete state of fanaa, a state where one is completely absorbed and devoted to Allah.

May Allah deepen HIS colour in our souls! AMEEN

 

[i] https://www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2012-08-10.html#summary-tab

Islam · Politics

Response to Anti-Islam Sentiment

Graphic-Navida blog on Wilders

Navida Sayed, London

There was widespread disquiet following Dutch politician Geert Wilder coming back on the scene yesterday announcing to hold a cartoon competition of our beloved Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The impact of Mr Wilders’ announcement has somewhat spiralled out of control among people from all walks of life on social media resulting in individuals instantaneously reacting without a pause for thought. Social media platforms were laden with hundreds of concoctions offensive, abusive, derogatory comments against Islam and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Enraged individuals who clearly don’t know the basics about Islam were exchanging deluded and distorted comments. Existing negative media content about Islam already drives such individuals and Wilders’ announcement gives it a big boost.

Surely freedom of speech does not mean creating disorder and chaos in the world. The antagonism Mr Wilders is breeding and expanding will harm peace of society by creating further divisions and barriers. Wilders’ interpretation of freedom of speech will open a gateway for further bigotry.

Prevention remains better than cure we can only pray and hope the relevant authorities will rethink and take responsibility.

Producing and publishing cartoons may be the asserted right of individuals wishing to express freedom of speech, however is it necessary at the expense of hurting the sentiments of others and jeopardizing peace in society? Will posting cartoons of our beloved Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) enable the world to become a better and peaceful place?  Surely this cannot be deemed as freedom of speech especially if it leads to strife.

As for our response, regardless of the surge of hatred against Islam, in these last ten days of the blessed and holy month of Ramadhan, we will continue to pray and won’t give up advocating peace, tolerance, love and understanding among followers of all faiths.

A humble message to all fellow Muslims in the world, let us all endeavour to put into practice the goodwill, piety and self-discipline acquired during Ramadhan, and  not be provoked by  Wilders of the world. Pray for unity among the Muslim Ummah and understand the Need for the Imam. I end with the words of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace):

‘Alas! Heaven is bearing witness and you do not hear; the earth is crying out: One is needed, one is needed, and you pay no attention! O unfortunate people! arise and see that in this time of distress, Islam has been trodden underfoot and has been maligned like criminals. It has been counted among liars and has been written down among unholy ones. Then would not God’s jealousy be aroused at such at time? Understand then that heaven is drawing close and the days are near when every ear shall hear the affirmation: ‘I am present’.

(Kitab-ul-Bariyyah, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 13, pp. 228 -330 – Essence of Islam, Vol. IV, pp. )

 

Freedom and Responsibility · Islam

Rights and Responsibilities of Free Speech

Iffat Mirza Blog-Free Speech

Iffat Mirza, London

In every walk of life, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. The two are inseparable. However, when it comes to freedom of speech people can be quick to forget this. Perhaps it is that they feel protected by the law or bolstered by their own convictions that they forget that actions have consequences. Freedom of speech seems to have become an increasingly complex concept in modern society. When it comes to attacking religion, it is easy to do so in the name of freedom of speech and often go overboard in patronising, and even abusive, terms, all whilst having no regard for the sentiments of millions of people across the globe.

It seems that Geert Wilders is one of these people. Having recently declared a contest to draw the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) he has made a calculated decision to offend the Muslim world. In Islam it is forbidden to draw the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). To justify this under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’ is a complete misunderstanding of the concept. To play with the sentiments of nearly 2 billion Muslims across the globe is to make mischief, not to protect the sacred rights of speech or expression. In fact, if Mr Wilders is so concerned with the freedom of speech, surely it makes no sense to then try to ban the Holy Qur’an as he famously alluded to in the past. Surely, to ban literature is the greatest violation of freedom of speech. In this Orwellian society that Mr Wilders is devising , the words ‘freedom is slavery’ are certainly beginning to seem increasingly true, as the state will inevitably believe that government approved religions and literature are ‘correct’ and anything else deserves silencing and banning. The hypocrisy of his ‘defence of freedom of speech is astounding’.

As a student of language and literature I am very passionate about the concept of freedom of speech.  I am even more so passionate about it because as a Muslim I believe that God has gifted us with the power to reason and therefore analyse situations and articulate them. The power that words and other art forms have is inspiring and it is for this reason that whilst freedom of speech must be defended, so must the sentiments of the populace.

John Stewart Mill, known to be one of the best thinkers of the 19th century, was a great pioneer of freedom of speech. In his 1859 work On Liberty, he writes:

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.

Mill explains the necessity to understand both sides of an argument in order to justify your beliefs. One must know the ins and outs of his opponents’ views to fully affirm why he is in opposition. It is not enough, in this right, to look towards the actions of a few so-called Muslims, nor is it enough to base his view on the stereotypes of Muslims.

Indeed, to criticise the teachings of Islam, as with any concept, one must first learn, and then understand the teachings of Islam. Perhaps then Mr Wilders would learn that he is not the first leader to defend freedom of speech, but in fact the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stood for the populace, and not only encouraged the minorities to live and worship freely, but also instructed all Muslims to allow them to do so.

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5836469/Anti-Islam-political-party-plans-hold-competition-drawing-cartoons-Mohammed.html
  2. https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Islam-and-Freedom-of-Conscience.pdf page 31
  3. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859.
Holy Quran · Islam

The Illuminating Verse

Illuminating Verse

Arfa Niswan Yassir, Swindon

Since the past one month this verse (or should I say part of a Quranic verse) remains somewhere at the back of my mind somehow, and every mention of light or Nur makes me think about it. The verse is as given below:

اَللہُ نُوْرُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الْاَرْضِ

Surah Al-Nur verse 36: “Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth…”

The word Nur is found in Arabic, Persian and Urdu. It can be translated as light, transfiguration, manifestation, beauty, gorgeousness etc.
‘The Light’ or Al Nur is also one of the names/attributes of Allah the Almighty.

Light as described by English dictionaries is an entity that stimulates sight, makes things visible. Physics suggests it as energy or particles called photons. But the light being mentioned in this verse requires ‘vision’ rather than ‘sight’. Light as a natural agent also requires us to have sight, similarly Allah’s light Nur also requires something from us i.e. vision!

In the spiritual world ‘light’ is precisely referred to as guidance and ‘darkness’ as absence of guidance or ” This light is not just illumination or brightness but energy as well; positive energy. So this light has a broader meaning than just illumination, it means that in order to make sense of anything in our world we need to absorb this Nur according to our capability and willingness. Just like in order to see anything around us we need the light of the physical world similarly through Allah’s Nur we can make sense of the things going on around us. Light travels in a straight line and for the spiritual path to seek Allah’s light we also need to tread the straight path, which in Quranic idiom is the ‘right path’ Siratal Mustaqeem.
Light in the broader sense can be understood in three contexts:

1. The light around us.
2. The light that is absorbed, i.e. we contain.
3. The light that is reflected (As by the Prophets and spiritually exalted people and through God’s holy books).

The Light Around Us
A true believer must strive to absorb & retain this light through thick and thin that is why the colour of the flag of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) was black! Black absorbs all light, all shades of light. We require a lifetime to absorb and retain this light. Reminds me of a quote by the celebrated 13 century Persian mystic and poet Maulana Rumi:

‘The wound is where the light enters your soul’

Well, basically this depends upon the person, the wound can also be the place from where the entire light could exit as well! Tough and trying situations would have different impact on two different hearts. So a willing heart might find light from any source experience or happening while an unwilling heart might chose to dwell in darkness. But it’s always around!

The Light We Absorb
Shown in our thoughts and actions.

It is written in Mathnawi, series of six books of poetry by Maulana Rumi:

The light which shines in the eye
is really the light of the heart.
The light which fills the heart
is the light of God, which is pure
and separate from the light of intellect and sense.

 Mathnawi 1:1126-7

Light That Is Reflected
Allah’s light is manifested as divine guidance through Holy books revealed by Him, His Prophets, spiritually exalted people who tread His path and reflect His light from which others can seek beneficence.

Further Quranic References of The Light:
In Surah Al-Baqarah verse 257 it is stated: ‘There should be no compulsion in religion…’ The verse goes on to say Allah has sent His religious law (Shariah) to distinguish between right and wrong and in the very next verse Allah states:

“Allah is the friend of those who believe: He brings them out of every kind of darkness into light. And those who disbelieve, their friends are the transgressors who bring them out of the light into every kind of darkness…’

So the believers are promised Allah’s help to move out of darkness into light Nur.

In Surah Al Taubah, verse 32 Allah states:

‘They desire to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths; but Allah will permit nothing expect that He will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may dislike it.’

Hence this light is always there around us, willing hearts can absorb it and reflect it as well. Allah explicitly states that no human activity can put this light out, this is an affirming statement for us.
This light, this Nur is the bigger purpose of life, this light is happiness, this light is the real beauty that we need to develop in ourselves and find in others, this light is the objective of life, this light is the destination. This light can be absorbed & retained with total surrender. Only then we can actually ‘reflect’ the light to others. Just disliking darkness is not enough to travel towards light we need to tread the straight path, which is the ‘right path’.