Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Islam & Terrorism

In less than 24 hours, ISIS took responsibility for terror in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris. Understandably, social media quickly lit up as people sympathized (mostly with the French), pontificated and pointed fingers. As the dust settles it's important not to lose sight of the following:
1) Muslims have roundly condemned these vile criminal acts and terrorism in general
Within minutes of the news, tweets and Facebook status updates queried why Muslims were not condemning the horrendous attacks in Paris. One Toronto couple even put up a lawn sign asking Muslims if they were sorry.
Even a quick Google search reveals that Muslims came out strongly against the Paris attacks. Those who bothered to pay attention or suppressed their observer bias would have seen extensive coverage of this outpouring of condemnation.
In fact, even major ultra-conservative groups around the world including the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars joined the chorus: "Terrorists are not sanctioned by Islam and these acts are contrary to values of mercy it brought to the world," said the statement.
Muslim clerics representing the broad spectrum of sects and schools have not only condemned the attacks in Paris, but have been condemning terrorism itself for years. Here is a sampling compiled by Charles Kurzman, a professor and co-director of theCarolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. If this is not enough, virtually every prominent Islamic group and religious leader has condemned ISIS in one way or another. Even books have been written challenging ISIS's Islamic claims.
Short of branding all newborn Muslims with an "I condemn all past, present and future violent acts committed by Muslims" tattoo at birth, there is not much else Muslims can offer.
2) Terrorists represent Islam no more than the KKK represents Christianity or other fringe groups represent their respective traditions
As Muslim basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar brilliantly summed up, "When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross in a black family's yard, Christians aren't required to explain how these aren't really Christian acts." Same can be asked about the Christianclaims of Apartheid proponents and even the mass suicide of 900 people underReverend Jim Jones.
The double standard is not lost on many who ask why only Muslims should be held collectively responsible for the actions of a criminal fringe. ChristiansBuddhists,HindusJewsSikhs and even animal rights and environmental activists are not expected to apologize for and distance themselves from terrorists among their ranks, and rightfully so.
Before atheists get all smug, they should not forget their own fanatics and the fact that some from their ranks are responsible for far more death and destruction than religious people over the course of human history.
3) Islam unambiguously opposes terror tactics -- terrorism is not a religious ritual but a military strategy
Muslims condemn terrorism because it is as antithetical to their worldview. Almost all iterations of Islamic law explicitly classifies hirabah (terrorism and highway robbery) as a major sin. Indeed, the Qur'an proclaims: "If anyone kills a person without justification, it is as if they have killed the whole of humanity."
Moreover, the Prophet Mohammed's strict rules of engagement even in times of hostility were blunt: "Do not kill women or children or non-combatants."
Of course, critics have latched onto to the fact that these are subject to interpretation. They then uncritically accept the readings advanced by terrorists while dismissing outright more grounded interpretations with mainstream credibility.
In doing so, these critics give credence to those who ignore centuries of jurisprudential methodology (and its inherent dynamism) and still claim to have on par status with those who stick to the established methodological tradition. This is intellectually akin to giving legitimacy to anarchists who claim to be upholding the Parliamentary common law system while ignoring constitutionalism, separation of powers and stare decisis (precedent), all of which are fundamental to the tradition.
As Islamic scholar T.J. Winter of Cambridge University observed, "Terrorism is to jihad what adultery is to marriage." Indeed, this explains why polls have shown that Muslims are more likely than Christians or Jews to object to the targeting and killing of civilians.
As CJ Werleman points out in a Salon piece, those who contend that terrorists are motivated by Islam while minimizing the economic, social, geo-political and military considerations are ignoring the facts. Interestingly, Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist who studies terrorism, says that most of us are guilty of "fundamental attribution error" (excessive emphasis on perceived internal motivation when it comes to judging the actions of others) whenever we look at what does or doesn't motivate terrorists. He says: "You attribute other people's behaviour to internal motivations but your own to circumstances. 'They're attacking us and therefore we have to attack them.'"
The reality is that it is politics not religious ideas that lead to terrorism. Numerous research centres, including the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Terrorism (UCPST) which was partly funded by the Defense Department's Threat Reduction Agency have confirmed this. Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman of UCPST have demonstrated that terrorism is overwhelmingly a strategic response to occupation, not an attempt to change our ways.
Most people who join terror groups have excellent grasp of their grievances, but very poor understanding of Islam. Understandably, the nuances of Islamic jurisprudence is well beyond most recruits whose grievances are reinforced through propaganda. Indeed, a 2010 United States Institute for Peace study of more than 2,000 people who were attracted to terrorism found that they "have an inadequate understanding of their own religion, which makes them vulnerable to misinterpretations of the religious doctrine."
4) Muslims are the main victims of terrorists
ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab and Taliban all have different goals and targets, but they all have one thing in common: They have all killed more Muslims than non-Muslims. Though exact figures are hard to muster, based on available data from a number of sources including a 2011 report of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) at the University of Maryland, we can safely conclude that the vast majority of victims are Muslims ("about half of all terrorist attacks, and 60 per cent of fatalities due to terrorist attacks, took place in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- all of which have a mostly Muslim population").
In fact, Muslims are victimized twice -- by terrorists and those fighting them. A conservative estimate by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War puts the civilian death toll at between 1.3 million and two million. All of this "collateral damage" and "bugsplat" translates to Muslim flesh and blood.
Muslims clearly have more reason to hate terrorism in all its forms.
5) Terrorism is not a 'Muslim thing'
Conventional wisdom will have you believe that Muslims commit most terrorist acts. In fact, according to Europol (the European Law Enforcement Agency), European figures suggest that only two per cent "of all terrorist attacks were committed by Islamic groups or individuals..."
Meanwhile in the United States, terrorism scholars Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer wrote in the New York Times that according to the FBI and other police agencies, "the main terrorist threat... is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right­-wing extremists." They further point out that "...terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than 215,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats."
To provide some perspective without minimizing the threat, you are more likely to get hit by lightning than be killed by a terrorist, and chances are that the terrorist may not even be Muslim.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The struggle is real : Patience

Many of you were able to read my struggle about wearing the niqab in the West, and I really wanted to thank you all for the endless support and encouragement! May Allah reward and bless you all ameen!!

I know I am not the only one who struggles, we all struggle. After all, what would this life be like if we were never being tested by our limits and strengths to know what we are capable of right? This life is nothing but a test and Allah has made it clear countless times in the Qur'an.

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested. 

And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).

[Surah Al Ankabut 29:2-3]

Many times I get lots in my struggles and I lose sight of who I am. Even though I converted to Islam four years ago, it is safe to say that I feel like I just starting my journey as a Muslimah . Sure, I learnt quite a bit when I became Muslim and I would write and write about endless topics that were stressing the Ummah, but until I was put in my own predicament, until I was the one struggling with my own hardships and trials then that was when the real learning began. I admit, I did not handle my situations the best as I could, and still to this present day I struggle and fight with my own nafs. I try my best not to complain but weakness overpowers me at times and I stumble. I realised just how weak I truly am and I finally understand what it is to be tested and how it feels to preserve with patience (or lack thereof). Patience is something very valuable and it is something that does not come naturally or easily for mankind was made to be hasty. I have probably failed miserably countless times because of my lack of patience. I always find myself feeling guilty after and realising I must have lost all the rewards of a test of a trial because of my lack of patience and reacting right away! I know I am not the only one! 

I have to constantly remind myself that I am being tested and Allah wants to See how patient I will be! He wants to reward me and yet I fail each time! My emotions sometimes overpower me and I just lose control and forget the whole purpose of my tests ! As I sit here writing, I reflect upon myself and my weaknesses. Do not get that confused with sins because some people have asked me "why are you exposing your sins online" when in reality, and Allah Knows Best, I am not exposing any sort of sins. It is not wrong to admit that we are weak and that we have faults. I know I am not the only one who suffers from countless weaknesses and I know many people can relate with me. I just wanted to write this post to remind myself and others that we should always try our best and keep fighting through the trials and the difficult times. I wanted to give up co many times yet I kept telling myself NO, this is just a test and I must get through this and Allah will reward me accordingly! It is not easy being patient, truly it is one of the hardest tests we all have to face. But while we try to be patient we should also reflect on the blessings we DO have and not to dwell on the things we don't have. I find every time I am surrounding myself too much with social media and I see how people always post themselves with their perfect lives, I always end up comparing myself to them and then I end up feeling miserable and so depressed! Subhana'Allah! Allah already tells us that we should always look to those who are less than us so that we will always be grateful! How wise!

I am going through a lot of things right now that are truly testing my patience and though it may not be hard for someone else, this test and struggle is catered perfectly to me and my abilities according to Allah and His Wisdom! I know that many of you are going through some tests and trials in your lives and even though they are not big to someone else they are to you and that is what matters! We should keep making duaa and ask Allah to make a way out for us and to increase us in patience and don't be afraid also to talk to someone who actually cares! A lot of the times we go to people for advice but many of them just brush it off and tell you the generic advice "don't worry, just have patience and make duaa".. (just like what I am telling you hahah!) but seriously, though that IS the best advice and the advice i give to myself, I don't know what you are going through but whatever it is, just know that it is really meant to shape you into a more resilient, positive and beautiful Muslimah! Our trials and hardships are meant to bring us closer to Allah and to help prepare us for Jannah insha'Allah! Just look at all the non-Muslim historical figures and the Muslims ! They did not get to where they were/are today overnight! They suffered, struggled, fell many times but they kept getting back up and kept going. It is so easy to give up but the best of those are the ones who get back up and keep going and keeping reminding themselves that this is all from Allah and that He WILL help me get through this since He put me in it in the first place! Let us reflect on the following verses about patience and the rewards Allah has promised! I hope that we can all encourage each other to strive harder and to never give up and help each other during times of hardship and ease! It is amazing you will find out who your true friends are when you are going through hardships. Some people just end up smiling in their glory because of your sufferings (astughfurAllah) and then there are some who truly care sincerely for you and wish to help you along your journey! Seek the latter and get rid of the prior because ain't nobody got timeeeee for that!!!! Please keep me in your duaas my sweetlings and I pray to Allah that He helps me and you through the hard times and the easy times and to never ever remove from us the blessings He has given us and to protect us from His Punishment! Ameen!!

“But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As‑Saabiroon (the patient)”
[al-Nahl 16:126] 

Verily, he who fears Allaah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allaah makes not the reward of the Muhsinoon (good‑doers) to be lost”
[Yoosuf 12:90] 

“And seek help in patience and As-Salaah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi‘oon [i.e. the true believers in Allaah — those who obey Allaah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise) and in His Warnings (Hell)]”

[al-Baqarah 2:54] 

“Verily, I have rewarded them this Day for their patience; they are indeed the ones that are successful”
[al-Mu’minoon 23:111]  

Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, "When (will come) the Help of Allah?" Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!

[Surah Baqarah 2:214]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Islam and Women

This is for non Muslim women who are trying to learn more about the truth about Islam and how Muslim women are treated. It really helps clear up any misconceptions you may have. If you ever have questions, please do not hesitate to actually ask a Muslim woman. You can also e-mail me (women only please).

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Canadian Elections

Many Canadian Muslimahs are now faced with an issue. We all know that we do not want Harper to be re-elected into office because he is not only a bigot but he is an Xenophobe and an Islamaphobe! I have seen countless Harper supporters on Facebook and the amount of ignorant comments that are being made are ridiculous and angering! But the sad thing is, I don't see ANY Muslims defending Islam or speaking out to clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings! Surely, we do not want to raise debates or arguments ! Of course not! But sisters, we can not just sit back and allow these ignorant people to be drowning in their Harper fever!? I am not into politics because it really does not concern me but as a Canadian citizen and living in Canada, I can't fathom the fact that there are so many ignorant Canadians who are misinformed because of the media yet we are not doing anything to educate them or answer their questions or reply to their uneducated responses! I know sometimes it is better to stay quiet and let them drown in their misery but with all the misunderstandings about Islam and with all the news about this niqab debate, we really need to step up our game and speak out to defend our religion and our rights. It all starts with your voice. Show the people your good manners and your patience and what Islam teaches you and educate the ignorant masses because if you don't then they will continue learning from the news and letting Harper dictate to them what Islam is and we all know, he clearly does not know a thing or two about Islam and Muslims. He hates them and he wants to see them fall! If you have Facebook or if you have seen anyone speak out wrongly or falsely about Muslims, please, do your deen a favour and educate them with the manners of rasulullah sallalahu aleyhi wasselam!

and just for the record :

It is permissible for a woman to uncover her face when she is giving testimony in court, whether she is a witness in a case or is there to witness a deal, and it is permissible for the qaadi (judge) to look at her in order to know who she is and to protect the rights of all concerned.
Shaykh al-Dardeer said: “It is not permitted to give testimony against a woman in niqaab until she uncovers her face so that it may be known who she is and what she looks like.” (Al-Sharh al-Kabeer li’l- Shaykh al-Dardeer, 4/194)
Ibn Qudaamah said: “The witness may look at the face of the woman against whom he is testifying so that his testimony will speak about her in specific terms. Ahmad said: ‘He cannot testify against a woman unless he knows who she is.’” (Al-Mughni, 7/459; al-Sharh al-Kabeer ‘ala Matan al-Muqni’, 7/348, bi haamish al-Mughnial-Hidaayah ma’a Takmilat Fath al-Qadeer, 10/26).
V – In court cases
It is permissible for a woman to uncover her face in front of a qaadi (judge) who is to rule either in her favour or against her, and in this situation he may look at her face in order to know who she is and for the sake of protecting people’s rights.
The same rules that apply to giving testimony or bearing witness also apply in court cases, because they serve the same purpose. (See Al-Durar al-Mukhtaar, 5/237; Al-Hadiyah al-‘Alaa’iyah, p. 244; Al-Hadiyah ma’a Takmilat Fath al-Qadeer, 10/26).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Advice to the YOUTH!

From time to time, I will receive quite a few e-mails from my lovely sisters in Islam who are looking for some advice and support (and that is why I started The Big Sister Little Sister project- be sure to check out the info here!) . What I noticed is that majority of them are from our youth! Many young sisters seeking advice about issues that are really affecting the adolescent today as well as sisters who are just looking for someone to talk to (and I loveeee these e-mails! Please keep them coming insha'Allah!)

As we try to catch up to the technology in this fast paced 21st century world we live in, we can't help but to fall into the powerful waves of fitnah which drowns us and brings us down to the bottom. We lose our self identity, our self respect and our longing for our Creator. I know how it feels to be living as a youth in today's world. I have been there, done that..and I know what the youth of today are facing. What was different with me was that I was not a Muslim during most of my youth so I was very lost. Often confused, and living life without a purpose, I chased the dunya as fast as I could. I chased, and I chased until I realised I could no longer keep up.

During my youth, I had very low self-esteem and this resulted in me doing things to always try to "fit in" and try to find that sense of belonging. I was often teased during middle school because of my weight and because of the teasing, in high school I suffered from a mild eating disorder ( Alhamdulillah, it did not become severe but I was VERY obsessed with self image) and I went through many identity crises and I seemed to never be content with myself, like, EVER. I thought I found my identity when I started to become OBSESSED with fashion. I ate, breathed, lived VOGUE magazines and I knew all the fashion designers by heart! I had dreams of become a designer myself and I started drowning myself in the materialist lifestyle. I even wanted to become a fashion model! Though I did some modelling for some local Toronto photographers, I had bigger dreams of hitting the runway (even though I am WAY below the minimum height requirement- Alhamdulillah Allah saved me from such oppression!) but those dreams later died out when I realised that I just could not live up to the 'druggie-anorexic' lifestyle. IMPOSSIBLE! I was always obsessed with body image and because I was overweight during my youth, I developed a true love for health and fitness. I joined countless gyms and became addicted with working out. The gym life was something else and it was just as dark and dirty as the fashion industry. Like most fashion models who do a lot of drugs, many people in the gym were no better (how ironic right?). Most of the men and women were "genetically modified" (lol) and I was naive to think that all personal trainers lead a healthy lifestyle. Most of them did not practice half the things they preached, i kid you not! I started to see all the ugly things that went on behind the scenes and I just felt so cheated and disgusted. I tried to escape the fashion industry because in my eyes, it was something too unrealistic for my lifestyle and I didn't expect that the "health and fitness" industry would be just as bad (if not worse)! I felt deceived. I was so let down because I had such high expectations of the worldly life. I expected the dunya to give me the same things I saw on television. Everything on television just seemed so perfect and I wanted to live that reality. I thought chasing the materialistic things of life such as money, body image, relationships, and latest fashion trends were THE things that were most important and the way to seek happiness. Was I ever wrong?!

(please take a few minutes to watch this quick clip and click CC for caption!)

You see my dear sisters, nowadays, we strive for things that are easily disposable. We think that looking beautiful and dressing fashionable are more important then what's on the inside. If we could take a selfie of our heart, how beautiful would it look? Most of us spend too much time worrying about how we look and which guy will notice us today, or tomorrow, or never. But how often do we think further than that? This life is not meant to please the guy at school, or trying to get married to Adam Saleh or Mohammed Zeyara. I have seen so many sisters throw themselves at brothers and it breaks my heart because if they only knew how sacred and beautiful their modesty was. Most men do not want girls that are freely throwing themselves (sometimes literally) at them. The women they want to take to their mom are the ones who are humble, shy, and modest. They want the mother of their future children to be good role models who can teach their children good morals, self-respect, and humility.

Chasing the worldly life will not bring us anywhere except down and it will only hurt us in this dunya and in the akhirah. I say this because I truly have been there, and done that. For my readers who follow me, you know I write a lot about my past life and I try my best not to expose my sins from my past because I know Allah conceals all our sins and we should not expose them , but I am only doing it merely for the sake of daw'ah and to let you all know that the things that you cherish now (romance novels, sad love songs, haram relationships, etc.) ...these are all things that are meant to deceive you and harm you in this life and the next. These very things are the tool of Shaytan and it is his way to lead us all astray (may Allah protect us all!)

“(Iblees) said: ‘Because You have sent me astray, surely, I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight path. Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You)’” (Quran, Al-Aaraf: 16,17).

". . . and follow not the footsteps of ‘Shaitan’ (Satan). Surely he is to you an open enemy" (Quran, Al-Anaam: 142)

No revert is particularly proud of their past life before they became Muslim but many of us have been able to experience the life of darkness and deceit before Islam and we realise just how truly blessed we are that Allah guided us. I often tell my readers, over and over, that the worldly life is just not worth the chase! It is so easy to become deceived because when you see everyone doing something, you become desensitized and you think that it is ok just because fulanah and fulanah are doing it! Well, remember my sisters! Just because sister a,b,c,d,e and the whole alphabet is doing it, it doesnt make it right and you should never justify their actions as being correct and in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah! Deep down, you know it is not right and it is not what pleases Allah. So be the leader and not the follower! You are strong and you are beautiful and you do not need random men and women to validate that! Know your worth and try to use your brains instead of your beauty to make it in this world! Be that successful Muslim doctor, that successful engineer, or a successful teacher who will touch the lives of many ! Be that successful mother who will raise righteous, well-mannered, modest children which this Ummah is lacking! Be the change you want to see in this world. We feel sad when we see what is happening all over the world and we cry and ask Allah to change the condition of this Ummah ! But when will we change our own conditions first before we expect the things around us to change? Do not attach yourself to this dunya, work hard to leave a legacy, something that will benefit you while you are in your grave. When you die, nothing will go with you except your deeds so make sure you strive your hardest to attain the comfort and spaciousness in that grave that you deserve! Imagine meeting Allah on the Day and He is pleased with you! All that hard working in the dunya and finally, alas! You have succeeded! You eternal abode is the highest level of Jannah! Seeing the Face of your Rabb! Just imagine this day and ultimately strive for this day of success !

Know that the life of this world (dunya) is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children… the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment. (Al-Hadid 57:20)
Verily, the Promise of Allâh is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allâh. (Luqman 31:33)