For Muslims worldwide, next month is Ramadan (the ninth month in the Islamic calendar); it’s a sacred month set aside for fasting from sunrise to sunset. At the conclusion of Ramadan, millions of Muslims worldwide will celebrate Eid Ul Fitr, one of their most holy annual celebrations.
In Philadelphia, thousands of Muslims from various neighborhood enclaves will unite for a huge citywide celebration of Eid.
Based on the Fiqh Council of North American, Ramadan will begin July 20 through Aug. 18 (dates may vary based on the lunar cycle). Ramadan fasting is intended to educate Muslims in spirituality, humility and patience, and is a sacred time used to cleanse the soul, focus attention on Allah and put into practice selflessness. At the conclusion of Ramadan, followers of Islam will wait for the sighting of the moon, the official sign of the end of Ramadan — the next morning is the start of the Eid Ul Fitr, or Eid celebration.
The other Eid celebration is Eid Ul Adha, which is celebrated about two and a half months after the end of Ramadan, and is a festival of sacrifice and pilgrimage to Mecca, a holy Islamic city in Saudi Arabia’s Makkah province.
Eid Ul Fitr is a holy celebration that brings Islamic families and friends together to make stronger ties with each other. The Islamic term Eid means festival or celebration, and is equivalent to the magnitude of Christians celebrating Christmas. This Eid is also designed to give praise and thanksgiving to Allah via prayer, an exchange of gifts, and usually a financial tribute/Islamic religious offering called “Zakat” (usually 2.5 percent of one’s wealth earned within a calendar year).
After celebrating Jumuah, a congregational prayer gathering that Muslims hold every Friday, The Philadelphia Tribune caught up with Brother Qasim Rashad, at the United Muslim Masjid, in South Philadelphia, to chat about Jumuah and the upcoming Eid. Brother Rashad is president of the United Muslim Masjid.
“We have a pretty good mix, a pretty good diversity of Muslims here,” Rashad said. “We have Muslims from Africa, from Asia and of course, African Americans — and Caucasian Muslims, as well.”
Rashad expects a very larger than normal gathering of Muslims for Jumuah during the upcoming Eid celebration, “We have two holidays in the Muslim faith called Eid (Eid Ul Fitr and Eid Ul Adha). Eid Ul Fitr — concludes or recognizes the conclusion of Ramadan,” said Rashad. He also commented that a massive unified Eid gathering of area Muslims for is being planned. A possible location for the celebration could be Belmont Plateau.
“That’s going to be a conglomerate of all the local masjids in the city,” said Rashad, who has been a practitioner of the Muslim faith for more than 20 years.
Brother Shadeed Muhammad is the current Imam of United Muslim Masjid. The Imam is a designated Islamic leader who leads prayers in a mosque. According to the United Muslim Masjid’s website, Imam Muhammad is originally from Montclair, N.J. He is a graduate from the Islamic University of Madinah in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Hadeeth (i.e. Prophetic Traditions) with a concentration in Hadeeth and its Sciences. Imam Muhammad has extensive experience in the field of Da’wah (i.e. Islamic outreach) and translation. Imam Muhammad has translated many classical Arabic works into the English language and has authored several books.
To educate and ease public fears and misunderstanding about the Islam faith, Imam Muhammad strongly believes in being transparent about the edicts of his faith, “Transparency builds trust. And I think the more transparent we become as an Islamic community, as Muslims in general, here in the city and other places, the more comfortable people can become, and kind of rid themselves of this so-called ‘Islam-phobia.’ I think people are in fear of what they don’t know, and to be honest — I don’t think non-Muslims have an accurate portrayal of the religion of Islam and Muslims,” said Imam Muhammad. He admits, just like in other religions, how individuals can misrepresent and tarnish their religious beliefs by committing wrongful acts.
Islam is a monotheistic 7th-century religion based on the word of Allah; Islam literally means peace, submission to Allah. According to ReligiousTolerance.org, they estimate the total number of Muslims ranges from 0.7 to 1.57 billion worldwide and 1.1 to 7 million in the U.S. About 23 percent of all people globally follow Islam. The religion is currently in a period of rapid growth worldwide. In comparison, Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world. It is followed by about 33 percent of all people on the planet, a percentage that has remained stable for decades.
Imam Muhammad was hired as the imam of United Muslim Masjid in December of 2010. Since becoming the imam, Brother Shadeed conducts a series of monthly workshops including marriage and family workshops, instructional Arabic workshops, regular weekly religious classes and Friday sermons (i.e. Khutbahs) between two mosques in the city; his outreach to the community is impressive.
According to Imam Muhammad, “The (United Muslim Masjid) mosque is open seven days a week, for all five prayers, the first prayer beginning at 4:05 in the morning, the last prayer ending at 10:05 at night.” He acknowledges that he sees his largest group of followers during Friday’s Jumuah.
“I’m the chairman of the Unified Eid Committee — we are trying to put together an event for the city of Philadelphia where we can have one Eid celebration,” said Ryan Boyer. Boyer, 41, is the local union business manager for Labor District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity. He concluded, “We’re going to be a little more proactive in building alliances with outside people that may not be Muslims.”
“I was born a Muslim to converted parents. My parents were both Baptist Christians, and converted (to Islam) in the mid-’70s,” said Aliyah Khabir. Sister Khabir, 32, is a publicist/public relations/communications expert. She is assisting in the mass promotion of the upcoming Eid event.
“During the month of Ramadan there will be a series of media opportunities for reporters — to educate the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area about Ramadan,” Khabir said.
For more information about local Ramadan and Eid celebrations, go to www.AZKcomm.com or aliyakhabir.com. The United Muslim Masjid is located at 810 South 15th St. The mosque phone number is (215) 546-6555.
More than 3,000 Delaware Valley Muslims gathered to observe Eid ul Fitr, the holiday marking the conclusion of the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar and during this month, Muslims observe a mandatory fast, abstaining from food, drink and sexual intimacy with their spouses from dawn to dusk. Muslims also engage in extra prayers during the evening and increase their good deeds to their neighbors (both Muslim and of other faith traditions).
Eid ul Fitr, which loosely translates to “breaking of the fast celebration,” includes a congregational prayer followed by a khutbah (sermon), celebratory meals, gift exchanges and activities for the entire family. The Eid ul Fitr festivities were held at George’s Hill in Fairmount Park. Takbirs began at 7 a.m. and the prayer began promptly at 8:30 a.m. The khutbah, given by Shadeed Muhammad, Imam, United Muslim Masjid in South Philadelphia immediately followed. Meals, and toys for the children, were available for all attendees.
This year’s unified Eid celebration is sponsored by the Unified Eid Committee, a division of the Majlis Ash Shura of Philadelphia and Vicinity, a governing body of Imams representing more than 71 masajids in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area.
The Unified Eid Committee was comprised of volunteers from each of the participating masajids working on hosting a citywide, unified Eid celebration at the conclusion of Ramadan. The Committee began meeting in September to plan Eid ul Fitr festivities. The Committee worked diligently to plan and execute a celebration that included activities for the entire family, all age groups and was open to any Muslim who wanted to participate.
“Our goal is to reclaim our youth, those young Muslims who are trying to balance their spiritual commitments to Allah and themselves and their secular responsibilities and hardships including the violence in their communities and the lack of knowledge that exist about Islam, Muslims and how we really live our lives,” said Dana Carter, volunteer administrator for the Unified Eid Committee.
The committee secured a wonderful buffet, video games buses, a petting zoo and games and free toys for children. The following masajids contributed to the Unified Eid effort: Masjid Mujahiddeen, Masjid Al-Qur’an, United Muslim Movement/Masjid, Masjid Taha, Masjid Razaqul Karim, Masjid Al Hashr and Masjid Freehaven (N.J.)
Imam Asim Abdur-Rashid, who also serves as the amir (leader) of the Majlis Ash Shura, was very pleased with the outcome of the committee’s efforts.
“It was time. It was time for me and my peers to trust in Allah and allow our young people, our young adults with skill sets and education that benefit the community, to exercise what we have taught them about organization and allow them to plan this wonderful event to mark the holiest month for the Muslim community,” he said. “I and the other participating Imams certainly applaud the committee and all their hard work.”
The following is a short excerpt from the Eid Khutbah offered by Shadeed Muhammad.
“Alhumduillah, today is the Day of Eid for the believers. However this day for us is not just about celebration and festivities commemorating the commencement of this blessed month. Rather, this day represents unification of the Muslims in this city who have for generations been fragmented by the various entities, all of which goes back to shaytan, whether directly or indirectly.
“Unification of the Muslims represents more than just a superficial exterior of consolidation between diverse/adverse hearts for that case we would resemble Bani Isra’eel when Allah said: They will not fight you all except within fortified cities or from behind walls. Their violence among themselves is severe. You think they are together, but their hearts are diverse. That is because they are a people who do not reason. The Holy Qur’an 59:14.
“Rather unification represents or is indicative of the true essence of brotherhood and sisterhood that we embody. And this strengthens the hearts of those with weak faith and their conviction about the decision they made to accept Islam as their religion and to give them a sense pride about being Muslim. Allah called the brotherhood of Islam a blessing.”
Members of the Islamic community gathered with others at the Philadelphia Masjid-Sister Clara Muhammad School in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 17 for a discussion on Islam and the media.
During the forum, panelists, who represented various media professionals, spoke on how Muslims are portrayed in the media and how they affect members of the Islamic faith.
Moderated by Aliya Khabir, the six-member panel took turns answering questions posed by members of the audience and shared their professional experience and observations.
“This is an opportunity to educate non-Muslims about Ramadan,” Khabir said.
The forum was hosted by the Unified Eid Committee. The group was built and crafted to educate the public about Muslims.
EID is the celebratory feast for Muslims held at the conclusion of Ramadan, the month long obligatory fast held each year. During Ramadan, Muslims who are physically able to do so are required to fast from sunup to sundown. This year, Ramadan starts Friday, July 20.
The first question posed to the panelists was, “what was your impression of Muslims?” to which those on the panel, including those who were of the Islamic faith, answered one at a time.
Shadeed Muhammad, Imam of the United Muslim Masjid said he converted to Islam before it became, according to him, unpopular in the media. His decision to become a Muslim was a result of the positive changes he said Islam had on the lives of other believers — some of whom were once criminals or lived other irreputable lifestyles.
“It is our responsibility to paint ourselves with our own brush,” he said.
Loraine Ballard-Morrill, news and public affairs director at Clear Channel radio, recalled the images of Muslims portrayed in such international trouble spots as Palestine and how the Islamic faith was portrayed by the media during conflicts abroad.
“There’s a wider community that needs to hear your story, that needs to hear you and that needs to be a two-way street,” she said.
While there may not be a lot of accurate information about Islam and Muslims, Morrill noted as a news director, she has not received a great deal of requests from Muslims announcing news stories that would let the public know about events happening in the Islamic community.
Nicole Newman, CEO of Newman Networks was another Muslim panelist, who stated despite some of the negative images of Muslims in the media, she was also influenced by the positive changes she observed in the lives of professed Muslims she met.
“I was influenced by my neighbor who had a husband who was there when all around her was single-female led households,” she said. “If we want to change what we think about ourselves, we have to change our information.”
Panelist Idris Abdul Zahir, of Nur Media, grew up in a Muslim household and was asked what it was like to be a practicing Muslim all of his life.
“My parents did an excellent job teaching me how to be comfortable with Islam,” he said. “The older I got the more I became exposed to what people thought about Muslims worldwide.”
While Zahir was different from other youth in the community, in that he didn’t eat pork and fasted during Ramadan, he experienced little difficulties or discrimination.
In fact, he participated in most of the activities without problem.
“Most people don’t know what they are rejecting,” Zahir said. “They reject Islam but don’t know any Muslims.” Zahir has studied other religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism as a student.
Other panelists included Darisha Miller, director and president of the Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society and Annette John Hall, columnist and reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
We begin with extended condolences on behalf of the Islamic community of United Muslim Masjid to the community, parents and family members of those who lost loved ones on that tragic day of Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The ongoing paradigm shift from traditional American values of family and education is now at unparalleled levels of ignorance, egocentricity and instant gratification. These extreme violent tendencies are perpetuated through violent movies, music and video games that America’s youth consume at alarming rates at the expense of their civility and their safety. The same humanity that was once as much a part of the American cultural fabric as cherry pie is lost in this sea of inexplicable violence.
The commercial exportation of violence and murder that saturates American culture today through the aforementioned is fueled by corporate greed and the media’s fight for higher ratings. This has created an unprecedented and intolerable level of hostility. When many of America’s youth approach pubescence and are unable to process the ill effects of violence on themselves, their families and their communities, they become obvious targets for the purveyors of these violent games and movies.
The world’s major religions promote nonviolence. Islam specifically promotes prevention as the best method of avoiding socially deviant behavior that interrupts the safety and security of our society. Instead of instituting regulations that may or may not be as effective as the prevention itself, Islam speaks to the approach of sin and crime. The religion also takes additional precautions when it comes to the parameters surrounding family and community– the fundaments of a socially healthy and morally functional society. The affront to us as a nation is that our ancestors toiled to establish with their blood, sweat, tears and in many cases their lives, the right to a peaceful existence. The terror and violent murder spree at Sandy Hook strike at the very core of these essential American rights.
For example, the Qur’an, much like any religious book, instructs its adherents to avoid fornication/adultery at all costs, considering them both a perilous door leading to the dysfunction and destruction of any morally ethical society. However, it is noteworthy to mention that the method the Qur’an employs in doing so is not necessarily as explicit as the exigency of this social dilemma would dictate. Primarily because the Qur’an takes into consideration the natural instinct of the human being to resist change, so in many instances the verses detour around direct prohibitions, and opt for indirect preventions. Hence, the applications of certain injunctions are done so with a delicateness that reduces the urge of resistance to change altogether. This allows the adherent to achieve the overall objective through his own will and submission to the religious tenets of Allah (God).
In a very clear verse the Qur’an instructs, “And don’t come close to zina (i.e. fornication/adultery), for indeed it is immoral and an indecent way.” [17:32]. The Qur’an instructs us not to “come close” to fornication/adultery, which implies anything that leads to fornication is as dangerous as the act itself. So when we look at this with respect to the violence that is perpetrated in America today, which is nothing short of the same terrorism we constantly characterize others with, we have to approach the dilemma with the method of prevention.
We permit drinking, but regulate it with blood alcohol limits. We permit courting among our teens who often lack self-restraint, but regulate the consequences with the distribution of free condoms in schools. We permit our children to watch movies and play video games with particularly violent content and regulate it with parental advisories that are ignored under the guise of entertainment. And finally, we minimize the heinous acts of terrorism committed by Americans that are a direct result of overexposure to violent games and movies by diagnosing perpetrators as mentally ill or deficient without taking responsibility or accountability for the causes.
Shadeed Muhammad is imam of United Muslim Masjid, Philadelphia.
All praise is for Allah, the mighty, the most high, and may his peace and blessings be upon his final prophet and messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah and upon his family and companions.
To proceed, in Islam, beauty is measured by the degree of faith in one’s heart and a person’s ability to communicate that beauty and grace through his or her character and demeanor. As the saying goes: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Contrary to what many believe, beauty is not determined by the orientation of the external appearance, which can be manipulated to give the impression of beauty, just as beauty is not the image of yourself that is reflected in the mirror when you look at it; but in fact, beauty is the perception of yourself that is in your mind when you look at yourself in the mirror. And no matter how many glimpses of yourself you take, no matter how many blemishes you are able to cover, you will never alter the true image of yourself until you change the condition of your heart. This is why Prophet Muhammad used to supplicate with the following when he would look at himself in the mirror: “O Allah (God), beautify my inward (i.e. heart) as you have beautified my outward (i.e. physical appearance).”
In the religion of Islam we are taught that Allah is beautiful — rather one of his names is Jameel (The Beautiful), and although we can’t see him in this life, for our eyes would never have the capacity to contain the magnitude of his beauty, we suffice ourselves with the beauty that manifests itself through his actions. There is a verse in the Qur’an where Prophet Musa (Moses) asked Allah: “O my Lord, show me yourself so that I can look upon you.” This was out of an ardent desire to witness the essence of his beauty, grace and grandeur, which is the direct source of the beauty he witnessed when pondering and reflecting on his creation.
Allah responded to Musa by saying: “You cannot see me (in this life), but look upon the mountain; if it remains in its place then you shall see me.” So when Allah showed a reflection of himself to the mountain equivalent to the upper part of the thumb, as Prophet Muhammad explained, it crumbled to dust, inept to contain the beauty of Allah, and Musa fell down unconscious. And when Musa regained consciousness he said, out of regret for his request and reaffirming his faith: “Glory be to you, I turn to you in repentance and I am the first of those who believe!”
The beauty of Allah manifests itself in his actions very clearly for the one who is in pursuit thereof. For every beauty there is an eye to see it. For every truth there is an ear to hear it, and for every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it. One of such manifestations is in the fact that Allah clarifies to the human being through revelation of the perilous nature of sin, and then instructs us to stay away from it. And even though we are given to our own weaknesses and succumb to the power that we give Shaytan (Satan) over us, Allah still guides us to repent and atone for what we did and then forgives us for the sin that he knew we were going to commit from the beginning. There is nothing more beautiful than this.
Another manifestation of his beauty is in the creation of Eve (Hawwah) the wife of Adam. Allah created her from the rib of Adam, and designed every inch of her, physically, emotionally and spiritually to complement any insecurity or inadequacy Adam may find in himself. The primary function of the ribcage is to protect the two most important and vital organs in the body — the heart and lungs. However, the dilemma with the rib is that it is curved in nature and fragile beyond measure, and the smallest amount of force will fracture it and straightening it will break it.
Consequently the only way to draw any benefit from the rib is by leaving it as it is, for you don’t love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her just as she is. However when we lose consciousness of this, focusing on the more superficial aspects of beauty that will eventually fade away with time, we objectify something that should have never become the standard by which beauty is determined. “Truly it is not the eyes that go blind, but the hearts that are in the chests.” (22:46)
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his final messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah and upon his family and companions.
Bro. Shadeed Muhammad is the Imam of United Muslim Masjid.
For many Muslims around the word, the month of Ramadan is a time to reflect on one’s personal and spiritual journey with the creator.
“I’ve been a Muslim for 17 years now, and I’ve fasted during Ramadan since I became a Muslim,” said Imam of United Muslim Masjid Shadeed Muhammad. “A lot of my fasting in the past has been done in Saudi Arabia as I lived there for eight years. My experience in Saudi Arabia was quite different than my experience here now, but my overall experience in the month of Ramadan has been one of refinement of character.”
“When this time comes around, everything kind of stops. In my home, we cut off the TV and we kind of cut ourselves off from the outside and concentrate solely on the objective of fasting. Ramadan teaches Muslims how to better practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity [zakat].”
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, thus Ramadan occurs 11 days earlier than the previous year. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root “ramida” or “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat or dryness.
Ramadan is a month of fasting, time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion and worship. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. The fast [sawm] begins at dawn and ends at sunset.
In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations with their spouses and sinful speech and behavior. The purpose of fasting is to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities.
“Ramadan is a joyous time in the Islamic community because it is a time of reflection,” said volunteer assistant to the Imam at the United Muslim Masjid Aliya Z. Khabir. “We devote extra time to our prayers and worship. We pray a minimum of five times a day on the regular basis and we increase our prayers during Ramadan.”
“We’re fasting all day, performing extra prayers at night, and focusing on things that you would like to change within yourself. These are all of the things that I’m accustomed to doing during Ramadan. Once Ramadan has ended, the objective is to carry on into the rest of the year with the same zeal we had during Ramadan.”
Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, chronic illness, pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, although this is not recommended by the hadith. Women who are unable to fast due to menstruation, breastfeeding or post partom bleeding, must make up the days after Ramadan is complete, but before the next Ramadan starts.
Each day before dawn, Muslims observe a pre-fast meal called suhoor. After stopping a short time before dawn, Muslims begin the first prayer of the day, the Fajr prayer. At sunset, families hasten for the fast-breaking meal known as iftar.
“I was born and raised in Islam, so I started fasting with other students in my Islamic school when I was about seven or eight,” Khabir said. “I would fast for half a day and my parents would also train me to fast properly. As I became older, I would fast the whole day and it became something that was very natural for me.”
“During the month of Ramadan, we fast from dawn until dusk. However, we are permitted to eat before the sun comes up, so Muslims in this area will be eating sahoor at about 4 a.m., stopping to pray at 5:45 a.m. and fasting until 8:30 p.m. Ramadan is a month of reflection and not a month of starving yourself. This is truly about reflecting on your relationship with your creator, Allah. Its purpose is to improve yourself, increase in spirituality, beg Allah for forgiveness and in the end, Insh’Allah [God Willing], the result is improvement of your practice of Islam.”
Charity is very important in Islam, and even more so during Ramadan. Zakat, often translated as “the poor-rate,” is obligatory as one of the pillars of Islam; a fixed percentage is required to be given to the poor of the person’s savings. Sadaqa is voluntary charity and is given above and beyond what is required from the obligation of Zakat.
In addition to fasting and charity, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Quran. Some Muslims perform the recitation of the entire Quran by means of special prayers, called Tarawih. These voluntary prayers are held in the mosques every night of the month. During prayer, 1/30 of the Quran [Juz’] is recited. The entire Quran would be completed at the end of the month. Although it is not required to read the whole Quran in the Salatul Tarawih prayers, it is common.
“Ramadan is a vehicle that we use as Muslims to help better and strengthen our relationships with God,” Muhammad said. “It’s not a strange practice. Muslims suffer from the same ills, weaknesses and human flaws as other religious groups. The more we became transparent to the larger community, the more people will fully understand Ramadan and our practices. Everyone will be able to see that we’re really no different than they are.”
All praise is for Allah, Al Malik (i.e. The King), Al Ghaffar (i.e. The Oft-Forgiving). May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his final prophet and messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, and upon his family and companions.
The pursuit of happiness has long been the overriding value of mankind. Almost everything we do as human beings is motivated by the desire to be happy. Peace of mind, emotional security/stability and alleviation from all forms of anxiety, grief, distress and sorrow, is the quest of every individual among us. However, the problem with wanting happiness is that most of the time we base it on circumstance, e.g. occupation, children, events etc. all of which are transient and impermanent, and subsequently fail at getting to the root of what genuinely makes us happy.
For some, the root of their happiness lies in material gain, and for others it is rooted in monetary gain. For some it is rooted simply in self-validation, and for others, happiness is rooted in the self-medicating element of instant gratification – no matter how absurd and self-destructive the behavior is or what they sacrifice in the process of attaining it.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are those of us who have bought into this bizarre notion that they are supposed to be unhappy. Some people believe they are destined for misery and failure. We buy into these subliminal messages that constantly nourish us with a diet of pessimism, economic obscurity and social disparity, all in the name of consumerism. They sell us misery in the form of beauty, and what most would consider the “American Dream” packaged in breast implants, weaves, bigger buttocks, male enhancement drugs, “women’s liberty” (from men), reckless lifestyles that involve – but are not restricted to – drinking, drugging and irresponsibility, and high interest rates that yield generational debt to be incurred by our great-grandchildren long before their existence.
Then these same subliminal messages turn around and sell you what is perceived to be the cure for all the misery you bought from them at the expense of your soul, packaged in the form of bank loans, unhealthy entertainment and all types of drugs and medical procedures to either reverse or counter the side effects of the drugs they sold you initially. Stop letting people project on you what they believe will make you happy and find out what you believe will make you happy. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, while the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Everyone is looking for fulfillment and happiness in their lives but often fail to tread the right path in order to attain it in a healthy way. As Muslims, we have a number of elements in our religion by which one can secure internal happiness in a healthy manner. First is through doing righteous deeds sincerely for the pleasure of Allah (God). When you do a good deed sincerely for Allah, you avoid the disappointment and frustration associated with doing good deeds for the purpose of adulation and public acknowledgement.
Second is through balancing our lives with Sabr (i.e. patience) and Shukr (i.e. gratitude). Our lives are saturated with all types of calamities and elements of prosperity, both of which require us to be patient and grateful. We are confronted in our lives with good and bad, life and death, calamity and prosperity, benefit and detriment, gain and loss. And the ironic thing about this is that in most instances we have no control over these things, but we do have control over how we respond to them. Prophet Muhammad said: “How amazing is the situation of the believer! His affair is always good. If some calamity befalls him, he is patient, and that is better for him. And if some good fortune befalls him, he is grateful, and that is better for him. And this is only in the case of the believer.” [Collected Sahih Muslim].
There is an axiom frequently used in the clinical counseling field that has some truth to it; it reads, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it.” Thus we meet the elements that confront us in life with the components of patience and gratitude and we will attain and maintain a level of happiness, despite life’s mishaps and/or seemingly good fortune.
Third is through doing good to others and taking the focus off ourselves for a moment. When you do good to someone else, Allah will remove any pain, anxiety or grief that you are experiencing. The late author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything you want in life if you just give other people what they want.” When you do good to others it comes back to you in many more ways that you can imagine. In Islam when you supplicate for your brother or sister in faith, the angels make the same supplication for you, as Prophet Muhammad mentioned. And there is nothing more rewarding and satisfying to the heart than seeing the look on someone’s face when you do something good for them. And until we understand this, we will spend our lives selfishly worried about what makes us happy, utterly drowning in our own egocentricity and self-centeredness, while we fail to see that it is, in fact, the main source of our own misery.
The Fourth is through preoccupying yourself with the things that are going to make YOU happy. Many of us spend our lives trying to please everyone else, and we end up forgetting about ourselves. The unhappiest people in the world are those who care the most about what other people think. We become instruments of our own unhappiness and then look for everyone else to take the blame for it. Prophet Muhammad said: “Be diligent about what is going to be of benefit to you and seek assistance in Allah and don’t render yourself incapabl” [Collected Sahih Muslim].
There is an old adage among the Arabs that reads: “Every individual is his own doctor!” Meaning only you know what your problems really are and only you can provide the remedy for them in a manner that will give you the outcome that will make you happy. It is okay to be just a bit selfish when it comes to the things you would like to do in life, because no one understands how important they are to you as you do.
The Fifth is through constant remembrance of Allah, which has a tremendous impact on the healthy heart. When we remember Allah and all of the endless bounties and blessings he has bestowed and continues to bestow on us through his infinite mercy and grace, we are overcome with internal gratitude and spiritual pleasure. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Those who believe in their hearts find tranquility with the remembrance of Allah. Indeed it is with the remembrance of Allah that hearts find tranquility.” (Holy Qur’an 17:28)
Remembering Allah preoccupies us from the pain and frustration that tend to overcome us when we are constantly remembering and reminded of our own situation. The Sixth is through seeking refuge with Allah from grief and distress, the antithesis to happiness. On one occasion Prophet Muhammad saw a young man sitting in the Masjid (i.e. Mosque) overcome with grief and distress and he inquired as to why. The young man replied by saying that he was stricken with severe debt, so Prophet Muhammad instructed him with these words: “Before you go to sleep, or when you wake in the morning, you should say: “O Allah I seek refuge with you from grief and distress, and I seek refuge with you from incapability and laziness, and from cowardliness and stinginess and from debt that is overwhelming and from giving another man authority over me.” , and Allah will remove the grief and distress you are suffering from.” [Collected Sunan Abu Dawud]
The Seventh is through looking at those who have less than you instead of those who have more than you. Prophet Muhammad instructed us, “Look toward those who have less than you and not toward those who have more than you, for indeed it is more likely to protect you from depreciating the blessing of Allah upon you.” [Collected Sahih Muslim]
And lastly is to put your affairs in the hands of Allah. This is something we say all the time – simply because it is the politically correct thing to say, as a Muslim. But not often do we find ourselves truly leaving our affairs in the hands of the only one that can manage them in a manner that is commensurate with our level of happiness – Allah. And this is why Prophet Muhammad used to supplicate: “O Allah, your mercy is what I desire. Don’t leave me to manage my affairs by myself, not even for a blinking of an eye. Rectify all of my affairs for me. There is nothing worthy of worship except you.” [Collected Abu Dawud]
In conclusion, contentment and happiness with your health, wealth, children and personal endeavors are all in your hands. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And every soul we have fastened his fate to his own neck” (Holy Qur’an 17:13) And if Allah placed something as significant as where we will end up in the hereafter (i.e. Paradise or hell) in our hands; anything less than that (i.e. our happiness in this life) is without a doubt in our control. We strip ourselves of the inherent power given to us by Allah (i.e. God) when we place our happiness in the hands of someone else. Life is too short to spend it miserable. If you are unhappy and dissatisfied with your life…change it, because you are in control.
Shadeed Muhammad is the Imam of United Muslim Masjid at 810 S. 15th St. Philadelphia.
All praise is for Allah, Al Malik (i.e. The King), Al Ghaffar (i.e. The Oft-Forgiving). May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah and upon his family and companions.
Every now and then an extraordinary individual enters this world with a persona so rare and profound, in the most arduous of circumstances, determined to leave their mark in history. Such a rarity of being almost always leaves a distinguished impact on the lives of the people around them, as well as succeeding generations that there are not enough volumes to capture the many lessons contained in their legacy.
Roses have long been used to symbolize beauty. The rose, in its elegance and graceful appearance evokes a wide range of sentiments, the like of which no other flower can produce. The most interesting thing about the rose is that with all of its fragility and beauty, it has the propensity to grow in just about any place, in any climate and under rather unique circumstances, attracting the attention of every observer.
We are confronted with situations in our lives for which we can never adequately prepare. We simply seize the moment believing we did the right thing in our hearts, trusting that Allah will arrange for us a favorable outcome. We hope ardently that He will provide us with qualities such as: strength, tenacity and resilience to make it through the ordeal, allowing it to propel us to a higher place than we were previously.
Ramlah Bint Abu Sufan was a rose that was nurtured in a climate of obscurity and bloomed in difficulty. And much like the dying rose, she was beautiful in life and beautiful in death.
Brother Shadeed Muhammad is the Imam of United Muslim Masjid.
When we consider the community of the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam, we would like to believe it was complete utopia but the fact of the matter is that it was multi-cultural due and economically diverse. Multi-cultural in the sense that the companions came from very different environments with diverse cultural practices and customs.
The Muhajireen were from Makkah and the Anasar were from Medina. In addition to this, there were three different tribes of Jews living in Medinah during the initial stages of its development as a community: Bani Quraydha, Bani Qayna Qa’ah and Bani Nadhir, who also had their own religious and cultural customs dissimilar to that of Islam and the Muslims.
There was also another more precarious, yet equally perilous, element that existed in his community, which was the presence of the Munafiqoon (i.e. hypocrites). These were individuals who outwardly exhibited belief in Islam but inwardly detested it and in essence they are disbelievers as Allah describes them:
“And from amongst mankind are those who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” but they are in fact not believers. They seek to deceive Allah and those who believe however they only deceive themselves and realize it not. In their hearts is a disease and Allah increases their disease and for them is a painful punishment because of the lies they used to forged” (2:6-10)
The chief of the hypocrites was Abdullah Ibn Ubay Ibn Salul, the same individual who spearheaded one of the greatest scandals in the history of the prophets and messengers—the slander of A’isha Radiyallahu anha. The danger in this is that many of the community members did not know who the hypocrites were, evidenced by the statement of the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam to Umar Radiyallahu anhu when he asked to chop off the head of the individual who disrespected him by saying, “Fear Allah Muhammad and be fair!”
“No Umar! I fear that people will say that Muhammad kills his companions.” (Collected in Sahih Al Bukhari)
This individual was obviously not his companion however, others in the community were not aware of this. So by allowing Umar to kill him, the people who deemed him a believer would have thought that the Prophet was killing his own companion. However the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam hand selected an individual from his community and secretly disclosed to him the names of all the hypocrites and he was Huthayfah Ibn Yamaan Radiyallahu anhu.
The matter was so secretive but, at the same token, one of great concern that even Umar Radiyallahu anhu came to Huthayfah after the death of the Prophet and asked him, “I ask you by Allah! Did the Messenger of Allah mention me amongst the hypocrites?!” Nonetheless this added another dynamic to the community which prompted the fathers/guardians of the women to take additional precautions to ensure their protection.
Fast forward to the communities we reside in currently wherein people accept Islam for a number of reasons and create an environment within our communities reminiscent the lifestyle[s] they came from previously because they have yet to commit themselves to real change.
This fundamentally conflicts with the spiritual dynamic the legislation of Islam came to establish irrespective of time, place and circumstance. The women in our communities are literally preyed upon by men who come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some of whom we are not able to ascertain whether or not they are even Muslim because there is no systematic structure in the local Islamic institutions and Masjids by which an individual’s Islamic identity can be verified.
It seems that, as Muslims, we tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in matters wherein conviction should be top priority — like giving away our daughters, sisters and mothers in marriage — and we give precedence to conviction in matters wherein the benefit of the doubt should be extended effortlessly — such as the honor and dignity of every Muslim.
There should be a more efficient and organized process for individuals wishing to take Shahadah (i.e. testimony of faith) in which their Islamic identity can be officially affirmed through the leadership of our communities. This is not just for the sake of marriage but for other important religious obligations such as Hajj and Umrah. Even the Saudi consulate in Washington, D.C. requires an official “Shahadah Certificate” from the local masjid of the individual before they will issue him/her a visa for Hajj or Umrah — for Islamic identity verification purposes. This is also important for other social and communal obligations such as keeping a standardize record of community members etc.
Nonetheless fathers have to take the necessary precautions to ensure the protection and preservation of the women in our communities, just as the companions of the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam did with the women in their communities. Therefore when it comes to matters such as marriage in Islam, the woman has to have guardian, which is known in the legislative terminologies of the Shari’ah as the Wali. This term derives its meaning from one of the lofty and beautiful names of Allah, Al Wali (i.e. The Guardian). Allah is the guardian over His obedient servants and shoulders the responsibility of their guidance, provision and protection in the life of this world as well as in the hereafter. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Allah is the Wali guardian over those who believe He brings them from darkness to light while those who disbelieve their guardians are the false gods (i.e. Taghut), who take them from light to darkness …” (2:256)
And although Islam gives some degree of autonomy to the matron, considering the fact that she has experience in the realm of marriage and should be a bit more decisive about what she wants in a spouse, as the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam said:
“The matron has more right to herself than her Wali (i.e. male guardian).” (Collected in Sahih Muslim)
However it does not completely absolve her of the responsibility of having a Wali. The dilemma we are faced with today in our communities with many women who have either recently converted to Islam, or who have lost faith/ trust in the Islamic leadership, or whose fathers are not at all concerned with whom they select as a potential mate, is that they have had their own individual experiences with men and relationships.
Albeit some of the relationships have not been Islamically sound and in many instances completely haram, nonetheless it was a previous exposure that creates an attitude of callous disregard for the Islamic instructions that have been given to them in regards to the process of selecting a potential mate — namely that of the Wali.
The Sahabiyaat (i.e. female companions of the Prophet) who were converts to Islam and had no Wali from the male members of their families turned to the leadership of their community (e.g. the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam for advice and direction in these very delicate matters. One example of this is an incident with a woman by the name of Fatimah Bint Qays who came to the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam and informed him that Mu’awiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahm both proposed to her. She trusted that the Prophet would guide her in the right direction with the impartiality and fairness that a leader should be characterized with. The Prophet instructed her with the following:
“As for Mu’awiyah, he’s a poor man who has no money and as for Abu Jahm, he beats his wives, but marry Usamah Ibn Zayd!” (Collected in Sahih Al Bukhari)
Although the Prophet was no kin to Fatimah Bint Qays other than being her Wali — by default of being the leader of the community — he still instructed her with what he saw to be the best choice for her. The religion of Islam is one of sound and sincere advice: The Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam said:
“The religion is sincere advice.” They asked him, “To whom O Messenger of Allah?” So he said: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, to the leaders of the believers and the general masses of the Muslims.” (Collected in Sahih Muslim)
The Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa salam also said:
“The rights of a Muslim over another Muslim are six: … If he seeks your advice and counsel, then advise him …” (Collected in Sahih Muslim)
Guardianship (i.e. Wilayah) in Islam should be viewed as a responsibility just like any other religious obligation and not as an opportunity to exploit the vulnerability of someone who trusts that you have their best interest at heart. Every responsibility comes with accountability before Allah, therefore the men in our respective communities who take it upon themselves to shoulder this task should understand the magnitude of it. The ironic thing is that it is intrinsically characteristic of us as human beings to take on responsibilities that are above our moral capacity. Allah mentions in the Qur’an:
“Indeed We offered the Ammanah [e.g. trust of free will] to the heavens and the earth and the mountains but they all declined to bear it and were afraid of it, but man bore it, verily he was unjust [to himself] and ignorant [of the accountability].” (33:72)
And we hope that the concept of the Wali will be taken more seriously in our communities as a protection for the women who embraced the Religion of Islam — or raised in it — and preservation of their honor and integrity as the backbone of our communities.