The Latino Muslim Voice
The July-September 2004 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
Islam is Here
By Jawad Ahmed
Islam is peace; Islam is ease.
Islam implores you with affection.
Islam gives you power when you surrender.
Islam is giving openly in charity.
Wake up, people, Islam is here.
Women in Islam
By Hasan Rabani
How do women fit into Islam? What is their fate?
Women can pray at the mosque or even at home.
A woman after marriage becomes a wife.
Islam shows equality my sisters and brothers.
Women can work and lead a happily married life
Confraternidad, el 4to Annual de las Latinas Musulmanas en Chicago
Por Rebecca Abuqaoud
(The English translation follows.)
Assalam Waleikum, Warahmatulla Wabarakatuhu!
La confraternidad de las hermanas latinas musulmanas en Chicago, el 4to anual del 2004 fue exitoso, alhamdulillah!. Este evento se llevo a cabo el pasado 26 de Junio a las 4pm en el Banquete Salon del Muslim Community Center. En este dia especial, un promedio de treinta mujeres latinas de diferentes partes de Illinois e inclusive fuera de este estado, se reunieron para dar la bienvenida a las nuevas hermanas en Islam. Se reunieron tambien para compartir un tema candente, para saborear la comida latina y luego al final se aprendio a usar el HIJAB de diferentes estilos, fue un dia innolvidable de fiesta.
En esta reunion anual el programa fue en espanol con excepcion del segmento de APRECIACION Y RECONOCIMIENTO a nuestra hermana Mary Ali que es Americana y que estuvo con nosotras. Las otras pasadas reuniones anuales, los programas fueron en ingles o bilingue. En esta ocasion se hizo en nuestro idioma a pedido de la mayoria de las hermanas, que en otras ocasiones habian traido a sus invitadas on musulmanas y ellas no entendian el ingles a la perfeccion. Se vio esta necesidad y la otra razon es que aunque otras entendian el idioma a la perfeccion lo preferian en espanol por lo calido que nos haria sentir.
El objetivo primordial de estas confraternidades anuales de dar la bienvenida a las nuevas hermanas en Islam surgio a raiz de que varias de ellas no eran comprendidas por sus familias cuando ellas abrazaron el Islam. Por consiguiente, ellas no tenian el respaldo en su nueva religion. Otras habian asistido a diferentes comunidades islamicas y no se sentian acogidas y muchas compartieron experiencias que sentian la indiferencia de ciertos grupos. En esta necesidad en la busqueda de apoyo mutuo en la nueva fe islamica, las hermanas latinas se comenzaron a reunir. Varias hermanas que ya habian sido musulmanas por varios anos se hicieron presente para brindar su apoyo y bienvenida a las nuevas hermanas.
En esta confraternidad anual tuve la oportunidad de dirigir el programa como ya lo habia hecho en las reuniones anteriores. Se abrio el programa dando la bienvenida a todas las damas presentes. Luego se dio lectura del SURAH FATIHA en arabe y espanol. Esta parte de la lectura en lo personal fue una experiencia unica pues al momento de leerla senti un alivio puesto que al inicio del programa la hermanas designadas para cuidar a los ninos estaban ausentes. El programa estaba a punto de empezar con la algarabia de los ninos que eran muchos. Afortunadamente, dos hermanas se levantaron voluntariamente para cuidar a los ninos en otro salon, asi entonces el programa tomo su tono amable como se habia planeado.
Despues de la lectura de SURAH FATIHA, se hizo la presentacion de las nuevas hermanas que habian abrazado el Islam durante el 2003 y 2004. Eran seis nombres en la lista de presentacion, sin embargo solamente dos hermanas estuvieron presente. Una dama Puerto Riquena, la hermana Idalia Nieves se puso de pie para contarnos que estaba feliz de ser musulmana y que ya era un ano de serlo. Muslimah, una joven Mexicana tambien nos compartio su alegria de ser musulmana.
Despues de la presentacion de las hermanas nuevas en Islam, se hizo una APRECIACION Y RECONOCIMIENTO a nuestra hermana Mary Ali porque en otras reuniones anuales empezando desde el 8 de setiembre del 2001 nos habia traido temas para la mujer en el Islam con excepcion del ano pasado 2003 que fue el tema EL CONCEPTO DEL JIHAD. Por su excelente preparacion y presentacion en los temas fue una inspiracion para muchas que oimos sus discursos. Muchas despues de las reuniones salian motivadas para ser lideres en la comunidad latina musulmana. No me olvidare cuando en el 2do Anual, que fue el 14 de setiembre del 2002, una senora dijo:"No entiendo lo que esta diciendo yo pense que esto seria en espanol" mientras la hermana Mary Ali daba su tema, pues la hermana Ali lo decia en ingles. Entonces una hermana dijo:"Es hora que nosotras nos preparemos", "Es verdad" dijo alguien.
Despues del 2do Annual, varias hermanas mostraron interes de reunirse mas seguido e inclusive tener clases una o dos veces al mes. Y porque este interes de las hermanas surgio, se solicito un salon en el Muslim Community center, fue la hermana Mary Ali quien nos tendio la mano, pidio salon al presidente de Da'wah de la MCC. A partir del pasado marzo del 2003, las hermanas tienen sus clases en espanol. La hermana Mary Ali fue ese puente de coneccion para que las hermanas latinas pudieran tener ese espacio, puesto que el presidente de la MCC no sabia de esta necesidad. Se expreso gratitud, reconocimiento y apreciacion a nuestra hermana Mary Ali por su gran contribucion y apoyo al grupo de las latinas musulmanas.
Despues de agradecer a la hermana Mary Ali, llego lo esencial del programa que fue el tema: LA MUJER EN EL ISLAM, OPRIMIDA O LIBERADA?. Nuestras hermanas Ruth Saleh y Vilma Lopez hicieron una presentacion excelente. La hermana Ruth Saleh toco tres puntos importantes, ella explico COMO LA MUJER ERA TRATADA ANTES Y DESPUES DEL ISLAM; HIJAB, menciono el significado de usarlo y los beneficios que trae a la mujer. El punto es que aparte de ser proteccion para la mujer, el HIJAB inspira respeto. El tecer punto fascinante que ella menciono fue LAS MUJERES EN EL CORAN. El Coran explica los deberes y derechos de la mujer.
La hermana Vilma Lopez tambien toco tres puntos del tema. IGUALDAD ENTRE HOMBRE Y MUJER; MATRIMONIO Y DIVORCIO; LA VIDA FAMILIAR. Explico que la mujer parte de su deber es educarse, menciono la palabra IKRA, que muchas de nosotras estan familiarizados con esta palabra. Que fue ordenanza de Allah al Profeta Muhammad (la paz y bendicion sean sobre el) a traves del angel Gabriel. Buen punto que enfatizo 'Ikra' que significa lee. Me encanto esa parte poque pienso que uno tiene que leer, pues asi uno se informa y se educa de muchos aspectos. Otro punto que menciono parte del matrimonio es el CONTRATO. Menciono la palabra 'Maher' que significa dote. Despues de la conclusion del tema presentado por las hermanas Ruth y Vilma, la audiencia tuvo la oportunidad de hacer sus preguntas. Una de las preguntas fue si era correcto que el esposo no le permitiera ir a Jumah. La hermana Ruth Saleh respondio que la mujer no esta obligad ir a Jumah, sin embargo no se sabe cual es la intencion del esposo al no permitirla ir a Jumah, quiza el no quiere que ella socialize.
The 4th Annual Gathering of the Latina Sisters in Chicago
By Rebecca Abuqaoud
Assalam Waleikum, Warahmatulla Wabarakatuhu!
The 4th Annual Gathering of the Latina Sisters in Chicago was successful, alhamdulillah!. The event took place June 26th at 4pm in the Banquete Room of the Muslim Community Center. In this special day, an average of thirty Latina women from different parts of Illinois and out of state came together to welcome the new sisters in Islam. They also learned a hot topic; had dinner with latin seasoning; learned to wear the hijab in different styles. It was an unforgettable day of joy.
In this annual gathering, the program was all in Spanish except the segment of recognition and appreciation. At the other past annual gathering, the programs were in English or bilingual. In this occasion, the program was in Spanish due the request of the majority of the sisters who brought their nonMuslim guests, and many of these guests did not understand English perfectly. Thus, we found we needed to reach the guests in a language that they knew best. The other reason was that even though there were sisters that understand English perfectly, they preferred the program in Spanish.
The major objective of this annual gathering is to welcome the new sisters in Islam. The need for the gathering emerged because many new Muslim sisters were not understood by their families after they embraced Islam. Therefore, they did not find the support of their families in their new Islamic faith. Some sisters who visited different Islamic communities did not feel welcomed, and they felt their indifference. The sisters started to get together as a means of supporting each other in their new religion. Many sisters who already were Muslim for many years were present to welcome and give support to the new Muslim sisters.
In this annual event, I had the opportunity to host the program as I had done in the past sisterhood gatherings. The program started by welcoming all sisters. After the opening of the program, I read Surah Fatiha in Spanish and Arabic. While I was reading the surah, I had a feeling of relief. This was a good and necessary feeling because the program almost started with the children's cheerfulness. The sisters assigned as baby sitters were absent. Fortunately, two sisters volunteered to take care of the children in another room. After the quick arrangement, we were able to easily start the program as planned.
After the reading of Surah Fatiha, it was time to introduce the new sisters who embraced Islam during the years 2003 and 2004. Six sisters were on the list of presentation. However, only two of the sisters were present. A Puerto Rican sister, named Idalia Nieves, stood up to express how happy she was in being a Muslim since a year ago. Muslimah, a young Mexican lady, also shared her enthusiasm in being a Muslim.
After the presentation of the new sisters in Islam, it was time to give our recognition and appreciation to sister Mary Ali, who in past annual gatherings since September 8, 2001, brought topics for the women in Islam. One of her brightest presentations was last year about 'The Concept of Jihad.' Due to her excellent preparation and presentation of Islamic topics, many of us who heard her speeches were inspired and motivated to become leaders in the Latina Muslim community. I will never forget what happened in the 2nd Annual Sisterhood Event, which was on September 14, 2002. A lady said, "I don't understand what she is saying. I thought this was supposed to be in Spanish." This comment was made while sister Mary Ali gave her speech in English. Another sister said, "It is time for us to better prepared, educated." "It is true," someone replied. After the 2nd Annual gathering, many sisters showed interest in getting together regularly. They suggested that we have Islamic classes once or twice a month. Because the sisters' interest emerged, a room was requested for the sisters in the Muslim Community Center. Sister Mary Ali extended her support to the Latina sisters, and she requested a room to the President of Da'wah of the MCC. Since last March 2003, the sisters have had their Islamic classes in Spanish. Sister Mary Ali was the bridge of connection between the Latina sisters and the staff of the MCC who did not know about this need. Words of gratitude, recognition, and appreciation were expressed to sister Mary Ali. Her support to the Latina sisters was a great contribution.
After the segment of appreciation to sister Mary Ali, it was time for the most important part of the program. Sisters Ruth Saleh and Vilma Lopez made their excellent presentation entitled: "The Women in Islam, Oppressed or Liberated?" Sister Ruth Saleh discussed three points. She explained how women were treated before and after Islam. The second point was the hijab. She mentioned the benefits that it brings to the woman who wear it. One of the benefits of wearing the hijab is the protection for woman against evil. The other benefit is that wearing the hijab inspires respect for the woman. The third fascinated point discussed was the women in the Quran.
The Quran explains the duties and rights of the women. Sister Vilma Lopez also discussed three points about the topic - equality between man and woman, marriage and divorce, and the familiar life. She explained that one of the women's duties was education. She mentioned the word 'ikra', which many of us were already acquainted with. Ikra means to read. Ikra was a command of Allah to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through Angel Jibrail. She emphasized the importance of reading; so a woman can become educated. I was fascinated about this point, because I believe reading is important to be well informed and educated on many aspects of life. Another point that she mentioned about marriage was the contract. She mentioned the word 'maher', which means dowry. Indeed, many Latina sisters are unfamiliar with the word 'maher'.
After the conclusion of the topic presented by sisters Ruth and Vilma, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. One of the questions was if it was acceptable for a husband not to allow her wife to attend Jumah prayer. Sister Ruth Saleh answered that the woman is not requested or obligated to go to Jumah. However, the intention of the husband is unknown for not allowing her wife to go to Jumah; perhaps he doesn't want her to socialize.
Most of the questions were written on paper. This was a request to the sisters, so they can stay focused on the topic. It was surprising to know that many of the sisters did not know about the "famous contract" in marriage. The sisters learned many aspects of the Islamic marriage that were ignored due to the lack of information on this matter. It would be great to share more about what we learned that day; some sisters shared their experiences as wife. However, this is kept reserved because it is exclusive for the women.
When Asar time arrived, the sisters went to pray. After the prayer, it was time to eat the delightful and tasty dishes with Latino seasoning. On the buffet table was Mexican food: enchiladas - a mix of chicken, jalapenos, and vegetables. Besides the enchiladas, there was lasagna, malukva, an arabic dish, yuca, borrego, and arroz con gandules. Refreshments and much dessert was available to complete the enjoyment of our delicious meal.
The formal program changed its mood to a party when an Arab sister showed sisters how to wear the hijab in different styles according to face shapes and the places they go. This was a moment of joy. The sisters had fun in trying the different ways of wearing a scarf. This was a great idea for many of them, to help break down the routine of getting dressed. We left the event with smiling faces, with a feeling of joy, and knowing this event will happen again. A complete program where sisters have the opportunity to meet their new sisters in Islam. In addition to learning about complex topics, the sisters enjoyed having the Latino dinner, or should I say Latino Muslim dinner?
InshaAllah, the next program will be better and as blessed as this sisterhood event was, and that we continue to meet our new sisters in Islam. The Muslim family is increasing, alhamdulillah!
Comments: ISNA Latino Muslim Conference
By Juan Galvan
"Muchas gracias por esta mas buena noche! Thank God for your efforts and may Allah bless you and your families. Please, please, please, we need more sessions and lectures about Islam in Latin America and how other Muslims here can help. Jazakom Allah Khayr."
"Este es mi primera vez de los tres dias de la conferencia de ISNA que escucho una lectura de Musulmanes Hispanos. Mi impression, MashAllah, todo 'perfecto.' InshAllah, que en las conferencias anuales de ISNA se incluyen nuestra comunidad Hispana Musulmana. Fi Amanillah."
"All the sessions in the Latino Muslim portion were greatly beneficial. Having the sessions in Spanish allowed me to relate so much more because it was in my own language. It also allowed for those who understand Spanish more to finally be able to learn in their language. Overall, each session demonstrated just how Islam is growing among Latinos in America and those in South America. More sessions like this would continue to bring more Latinos into Islam, insha'Allah."
"I just wanted to say thank you for having Imam Yahya Suquillo at the conference. He is an amazing brother, and I look forward to a day when the Latino Muslim community has more knowledgeable Latino Muslims, because Allah knows we need more Muslims like Br. Suquillo in our dawah efforts."
"Bishmilah. Todo muy bien? Alhamdulilah. Creo que lo unico que falta es mas material en espanol. Aparte de eso, todo bien. Necesitamos mas hermanos/as, inshAllah."
"Allah sabe que hay calidad spiritual en los Hispanos Muslims. Podemos dar mucho, usando la technologia. Se necesitan videos, audios, libros en espanol, etc. Pero sobre todo, aunar o unir esfuerzos y mantener intercambios entre nosotros. Creceremos en la fe. InshAllah!"
"The reversion stories were very moving. The translation to English was much appreciated. I wish that there was a more diverse crowd - such stories are inspiring to all people."
"Alhamdulillah, all the brothers and sisters are very serious about Islam. It seems that many of us have already studied Islam for a long time already. I would like to see a workshop where we can introduce each other, where we live, what activities/dawah we would like to see in our communities, or those activities we are working on."
"Very insightful talks."
"Me siento muy bien el haber escuchado a dos ustedes hablar de lo hermoso que es el Islam. Sigan asi sin tanto protocolo y con la sensibilidad que carceteriza a los verdaderos musulmanes. Que Allah los bendiga."
"For the first time, I have enjoyed a well done, organized Spanish meeting (conferences) that invites all Spanish brothers to propagate Islam, and overall to be historically, the first Spanish conference on this area, in Dallas, or maybe the whole USA. And, we thank Allah for this blessing that has been pouring on this Spanish community. May Allah bless all us."
"Wonderful sessions, but I feel you would reach a broader range of people if the sessions were in Spanish and English."
"The conversion/reversion stories were very touching. If nonSpanish speaking Muslims knew more about our reversion stories, maybe, they could have tools in which to better understand what has to be done dawa-wise. Also, I believe that Spanish speaking Muslims could benefit from our reversion stories. Perhaps, some of our brothers could speak at a main session. Other Muslims need to be inspired and help us with the dawah movement in the Latino community."
"It would be useful if we could exchange our phone numbers and email addresses so we can keep in touch. I would like to see a lecture on eeman, ibadah, and purification of the soul. I would definitely attend Spanish sessions again and help in any way I can. Masha'Allah for all the organizers on a job well done. May Allah (swt) increase us in eeman and in numbers."
Weapons of Mass Destruction
By Ghadah Ali Gutierrez
It has recently been reported in the media that the alleged weapons of mass destruction that were the impetus for an entire war do not exist. While top U.S. officials, including the President himself, are busy trying to deflect the blame, the bottom line is, this war should not have been fought.
Since the very inception of George W. Bush's term as President, it has been obvious to myself and other members of the Muslim Community that Bush's sole purpose in getting elected was to finish what his daddy couldn't, namely the capture of Saddam Hussein. It has been a personal vendetta that has cost untold lives, not only of Muslims, but of Americans and non-Americans as well.
Few know of George Bush's policy of promising citizenship to Mexican nationals who fight in the war. Basically, if you fight for a country that is not yours and live to tell about it, you can apply for citizenship. Nearly every day the Spanish-language channels report on young men and women killed in the line of duty. Somehow, these losses are seldom reported on the American television channels. Just as Shoshanna Johnson's contribution to the U.S. was all but ignored by the press in favor of Jessica Lynch, the non-reporting of the deaths of our non-citizen soldiers reeks of blatant racism.
While there is no denying that Saddam Hussein should have been removed from power, how can the President possibly rationalize spending billions of dollars and utilizing all of the resources of this country to engage in this war? The war against Iraq was and is, unnecessary. President Bush's "War on Terrorism" has, from its inception been a thinly veiled excuse to further ravage already poverty-stricken Muslim countries. The few terrorists caught cannot possibly justify the number of innocent lives lost to his personal agenda. This is not a war on terrorism; this is George W. Bush's revenge.
How many Muslims have had to register with the newly formed Dept. of Homeland Security? Why is this being perpetuated upon all Middle Eastern immigrants, yet not upon Europeans? Terrorists can come from any country, yet Bush has deliberately focused his efforts on countries with dark-skinned inhabitants.
Coincidentally right before an election year, George Bush decided to grant work visas to Mexican immigrants. Bush has consistently instituted policies detrimental to immigrants, both legal and illegal. His track record has not, in any way, indicated that he cares one whit for our brothers and sisters across the border. President Bush has done nothing to stop the senseless killings by ranchers in Arizona of illegal immigrants. To my knowledge, he has done nothing but tap dance around the issue. Additionally, he has consistently ignored the dangers immigrants face in crossing the deserts, he has not assisted nor supported any of the humanitarian organizations active in leaving water and food in the desert for the survival of immigrants. He has repeatedly snubbed Mexican President Vicente Fox's attempts to engage in dialogue that would mutually benefit both countries. But now that an election is coming, suddenly George W. Bush is the friend of our raza!
Despite his frequent appearances on Spanish-language shows such as Sabado Gigante, George W. Bush does not care about Latinos, either in this country or in Mexico. The recent talks to provide work visas are nothing more than a pathetic re-election ploy. The likelihood of this plan actually being instituted is minimal, and the chances of it continuing past election year are even less.
I encourage all Muslims, both Latino and non-Latino to register to vote this election year. While in some circles, it is considered haram to vote for a non-believer, in this case, it may be the lesser of two evils. There are approximately 6 million Muslims citizens of the United States. If even a portion of the U.S. Muslims voted, it would perhaps be a substantial enough number to oust Bush and elect a president that would be more receptive to immigration reform and less receptive to bombing countries for the good-ole-boy fun of it. If all Muslims voted, it would be enough votes to ensure that this time, the election is conducted legally and fairly. It would be enough to ensure that someone more suitable would be in charge of running this country.
The bottom line is that we have to live in this country, and with Bush in power, our rights will continue to erode until we find ourselves in another holocaust situation. Our children and grandchildren have to live here as well; there is no guarantee that our current power-hungry president will not eventually eliminate our right to practice our own religion. George W. Bush has already been responsible for the deaths of at least ten thousand Iraqis. Don't let him be responsible for any more killing! Please consider taking some responsibility in the political future of our country and get out and VOTE!
Spain's Islamic past
By Gerald Butt
"When the Christians recaptured Granada, they burnt all 80,000 books from the palace library - as if to expunge the memory of Islamic rule."
When the Arab and Berber armies crossed from North Africa into Spain in the eighth century, they thought they'd discovered heaven on earth.
By the time they were finally driven out in 1492 they'd actually created an earthly celebration of paradise - the Alhambra palaces and gardens in Granada.
For desert Arabs, water is luxury. And in the melting snow of the Sierra Nevada mountains they found what they wanted. By a series of intricate channels they directed water into the palace grounds and onto the dusty plains below.
Still today at the Alhambra you get a glimpse of paradise. Small streams take the water hither and thither to innumerable fountains and ponds - at one point rushing down channels in the balustrades of a stone stairway. Everywhere, splashing and gushing water. And great splashes of colour under the conifers - roses, lilies and sweet-smelling jasmine.
Not to mention the luxury of the palaces themselves with their courtyards shaded by trees and cooled by fountains and with the walls decorated by elaborate Arabic inscriptions and patterned tiles.
For an Arabist like me, a visit to Alhambra should have been the experience of a lifetime. But I came away slightly disappointed. Not at the beauty of what I'd seen - rather with a sense that the Arab and Islamic character had been somewhat down-played.
When the Christians recaptured Granada, they burnt all 80,000 books from the palace library - as if to expunge the memory of Islamic rule. Then they built a cathedral on the site of the great mosque and put a baroque facade around the main palace.
Today the Alhambra is marketed very much as a major Spanish tourist site. One Spanish guidebook says that the Alhambra is to Granada what St Peter's is to Rome or St Mark's Square is to Venice.
What the guidebook doesn't say is that the Alhambra is a legacy of nearly eight centuries during which the Arabs not only occupied Spain but also introduced into Europe mathematics, philosophy and Greek scholarship. Furthermore, the Arabs brought into Spain oranges, lemons, rice, sugar, date palms, cotton and much more.
And then there was the elaborate irrigation system, bringing water to the plains of Andalusia and giving it the landscape it has today. Even when the Arabs had been expelled en masse, two families were required to stay in each village to operate the irrigation system.
In other words, the Christians of Europe were happy to inherit the legacy of the Arab occupation of Spain, but were reluctant to acknowledge its Islamic origin. The American traveller, Washington Irving, noticed this when he visited Granada at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Spanish, he said, considered the Muslims nothing more than "invaders and usurpers". And that still seems to be the case today.
Does any of this matter? I believe it does. Arabs feel bitterly resentful at how they're portrayed in the West - as ignorant people, lacking the advantages of our history and civilisation. As I drove away from Granada, I remembered what a retired Jordanian diplomat Hazem Nuseibeh once told me.
For him, history was like a medicine. Whenever he felt depressed by the sense of inferiority and failure that haunts the Arabs today he escaped into history books and read about the glories of the past, not least the glories of Andalusia.
But escapism can't hide the fact that the Arabs as a whole feel they've lost their way and lost their self-esteem. They live, for the most part, under corrupt and incompetent regimes, and - as they see it - in the shadow of the West.
"The West calls the tune to which we dance," Rabee Dejani, a Palestinian businessman in Jordan told me, "We hate the tune and we hate ourselves for dancing".
The accumulation of this resentment is creating new generations of Arabs who are hostile to the West. With no political platform on which to vent their anger, they're increasingly turning for comfort to Islam and to Islamic fundamentalism. And the violent acts that militants carry out blacken the name of Islam in the West.
Thus the anti-Muslim slogans I saw daubed on the walls of the ancient caravanseria in the centre of Granada - and the look of anxiety and suspicion on the face of Hassan, the caretaker of the small centre nearby, when I knocked on the door.
Mutual suspicion is increasing. It's a vicious circle that won't easily be broken. But a start would be for the West to give credit where it's due.
Yes, the Alhambra is a tangible legacy of a great Islamic civilisation. But there are many other intangible legacies from the days of Arab rule in Spain, ingredients of our daily lives that we take for granted. If those debts were acknowledged, Arabs, I believe, would still go to their mosques in large numbers. But they'll be less attracted than they are now by the angry rantings of anti-Western fundamentalists.
Etiquette guide for being the ideal guest
By Sound Vision Staff Writer
Whether it's your uncle in the Middle East, your aunt in the Midwest, your friend in Malaysia, or your nephew in Pakistan, invitations from relatives to visit for most Muslims are not scarce, Alhamdu lillah.
And why not? Welcoming guests is a part of our way of life as Muslims. But being a good guest is the other side of this coin. Below are some tips to keep your hosts happy and your visit virtually problem-free.
Tip #1: Don't overstay
Khalid ibn Amr relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) saying: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should honor his guest as he deserves.
He was asked: `And what does he deserve, O Messenger of Allah?' and he answered:
`A day and a night of what he deserves, and hospitality for three days. More than this is charity.' (Bukhari, Muslim).
As the above-mentioned Hadith indicates, guests are to be welcomed. But this openness and generosity should not be abused so as to be a burden on the hosts.
This factor should be taken into consideration for those of us who come from families back home who may not be well off financially. We should act wisely and judge for ourselves how long is too long for our hosts.
Tip #2: Give gifts
It is narrated by Aisha that the Messenger of Allah said: `Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the hearts.' (Tirmidhi).
What better way to bridge the gap between relatives hundreds or thousands of miles away than to give a gift? In particular, encourage kids to give gifts to relatives of the same age and gender. This may be the springboard to developing a deep, meaningful friendship, not just a blood relationship. But these gifts should not become an excuse for extravagance or showing off, both of which are condemned by Islam.
Tip #3: Receive gifts graciously
Giving gifts is only one part of the equation. Receiving gifts is the other. Adults and young people coming from North America may have become used to the idea of exchanging gifts they may have too many of or may not like.
This is not acceptable when visiting friends and relatives, especially those in a Muslim country or from one. Such behavior could be considered obnoxious and ungrateful.
Accept all gifts graciously. Even if it's the 100th leather wallet you've received, don't make a fuss about it.
Tip #4: Respect your elders
Abu Musa Ashari related that the Messenger of Allah said: `It is part of glorifying Allah to show respect to a grey-haired Muslim, and to a person who can teach the Quran.' (Abu Dawud).
Respecting your elders is a requirement of Islam, whether you're in North America or in the Muslim world. Certain behaviors need to be avoided in this regard: speaking with disrespect, even if you disagree with an older person; stretching your legs or putting your feet up on the table in front of everyone present when there are elders there, for example.
Tip #5: Know the local customs
For example: no does not always mean no amongst some relatives and friends in Muslim countries. In other words, if you're no longer hungry after a fantastic meal at your aunt's and she asks you to take more dessert, your answer may be no, but that may translate as yes. For every one of your no's, she may spoon more dessert into your bowl.
Find appropriate ways to respond to this, whether it's by using a truthful excuse (i.e. I really will get very, very sick if I eat any more), or even better, tell her the Hadith about eating in a way that you have one-third water, one-third food and one-third air in your stomach.
The ideal guest will be polite, discreet, grateful and respectful. He or she will also make sure not to hurt the host's feelings or be hostile.
Tip #6: Know the customs of the house
This means for example, sleeping and waking up earlier than normal if your host family is used to getting up and going to bed early. Maintaining the same schedule as you normally do at home in this case, may disrupt your host's home life and cause problems.
Tip #7: Respect the family's Islamicity
If you try your best to practice Islam, Alhamdu lillah. But this may not be the case with your host and their family. While your visit may be a great way to increase their Islamic awareness, it's important to respect their privacy and not to humiliate them. That means not hitting them over the head with incessant lectures about how this and that are Haram (forbidden) in their home or how they are not practicing.
So if you wake up for Fajr, and not all members of the host family do, make Wudu and pray without disturbing others. Perhaps later in the day, you can talk about how much you enjoyed going to pray Fajr at the local mosque, or the peace and tranquility you felt praying in the silence before sunrise.
That said though, this does not mean you give up Islamic duties to please guests. Prayer, wearing appropriate Islamic attire in front of the opposite sex, for instance, must be maintained, regardless of the level of Islamicity of the host family.
Abu Huraira: The Beloved Narrator
By Hamzah Qassem
From Nida'ul Magazine
" 'An Abi Huraira radiyallahu anhu qal, qala Rasul Allahi, sallallahu
alayhi wa sallam...."
Through this phrase millions of Muslims from early history of Islam to the present have come to be familiar with the name Abu Huraira, who you expect to find his name in most Hadith, Sirah or Fiqh books.
Abu Huraira (r.a.a) enjoyed a great talent, he was gifted with an extraordinary long term memory to the extent that he would hear a discussion or a speech and be able to reproduce the identical discussion or speech years later without changing or deleting one single word from it.
This great gift that Abu-Huraira enjoyed could have been the worst thing that could have happened to him as some people used his well known and authentic name to make up false Ahadith about our beloved Prophet, and link these false Ahadith to Abu Huraira (r.a.a). However, through hard and sincere efforts put in by some of the pious scholars who sacrificed their lives to preserve and save our beloved Prophet's Ahadith (sayings) and save them from any harm by the enemies of Islam who tried to mislead Muslims by adding to them thing that were never said by the Prophet of Allah (s.w.t), Abu Huraira's reputation was saved from their wrong doing until our present day.
Abu Huraira became a Muslim at the hands of At-Tufayl Ibn Amr who as the chief of the tribe to which he belonged. When he submitted to the truthfulness of this religion, he accompanied At-Tufayl to Makkah and had the privilege of meeting the noble Prophet (s.a.w.). The Prophet (s.a.w) asked Abu Huraira what his name was, "Abdu-Shams" (the servant of the sun), Abu Huraira replied. So he was introduced by the holy Prophet (s.a.w) to change his name to "Abdur-Rahman" (the servant of the Beneficent). However, he continued to be known among people as "Abu Hurrah" (the kitten's father) because of his love for a cat he looked after and fed, and which used to stick to him wherever he went.
Abu Huraira lived with his mother who was still a Mushrik. He prayed for her and tried hard to convince her to join Islam, but she adamantly refused. One day when he was telling her about Islam she uttered some words about the Prophet which saddened Abu Huraira greatly. He went to the Prophet (s.a.w), his eyes full of tears and told him about what had happened between him and his mother. He also asked the Prophet to make supplication to Allah (s.w.t) for her to make her heart respond to Islam. The Prophet responded to Abu Huraira's request and prayed for his mother. When Abu Huraira returned home he was delighted to hear his mother, who had just taken a shower, testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger. So he rushed back to the Prophet with his eyes glowing with joy, and informed him that Allah had answered his prayers, and guided his mother to Islam. He then said: "O Allah's Messenger, Ask Allah to make me and my mother lovable to the believing men and women". So he (s.a.w.) said: "O Allah, make this servant of yours and his mother lovable to every believing man and woman".
With his great gift and talent, Abu Huraira realised that he was able to serve this religion a great deal. He realised that, because many of the early companions who had the most knowledge died in the battles in Allah's cause, this religion needed people to preserve it, as in these days the companions used to write only the Qur'an fearing it might get mixed with the Hadith of the Messenger, if the latter was to be documented too. Even among those who had a great deal of knowledge, many of them were occupied by their trades and didn't have as much free time as Abu Huraira to spend with the Prophet (s.a.w). Also the fact that he had an extraordinary long term memory meant that he could hear the Prophet's teachings and be able to ask a writer to write them later knowing that he will not forget any of them. Therefore, during the four years Abu Huraira stayed with the Prophet (s.a.w) in Madinah, he set himself to accompany the holy Prophet to gain knowledge and memorise his sayings and teachings in order to preserve the word of Allah (s.w.t) and the teachings of his beloved Prophet (s.a.w). The Prophet (s.a.w.) himself directed Abu Huraira to an effective way to memorise his Hadiths, Abu Hurrah said: Allah's Prophet one day said to us: "whoever spreads his dress until I finish my talk, and then takes hold of it, will not forget anything from what he heard from me".
The fact that Abu Huraira set himself to preserve the teachings of the noble Prophet, meant that he was always close to the Prophet (s.a.w) in his stay in Madinah, as he had free time at his disposal, unlike the Muhajirin he did not work in trade and unlike the Ansar he did not have a land to look after. This enabled Abu Huraira to stay with the noble Prophet at Madinah and to go with him on journeys and expeditions.
He loved the Prophet a great deal, he was never tired of looking at the Prophet nor was he tired of listening to him. Often he would praise Allah for his good fortune and say "Praise be to Allah who has guided Abu Huraira to Islam, Praise be to Allah who taught Abu Huraira the Qur'an, Praise be to Allah who has bestowed on Abu Huraira the companionship of Muhammad (s.a.w)".
Abu Huraira underwent much hardship and difficulties as a result of devoting his life to knowledge and companionship of the holy Prophet (s.a.w): "One day, my hunger became so severe that I placed a stone on my stomach. I then sat down in the path of the companions. Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about an Ayah of the book of God. I only asked him so that he would invite me but he didn't".
Despite the fact that Abu Huraira set himself to preserving the word of Allah and the teachings of his Prophet, he by no means neglected his other duties as much of his time was spend in prayers and devotion to God. He often rotated staying up at night with his wife and his daughter, as he would stay up for a third of the night, his wife for another third and his daughter for a third, this way in the house of Abu Huraira no hour of the night would pass without Ibadah and Salat. Abu Huraira's presence was also felt in the battlefield when needed to protect and establish the religion of Islam by the sword, as he lived all his life, since becoming a Muslim, as a soldier of Islam not missing a single battle with the holy Prophet (s.a.w).
After the death of the holy Prophet (s.a.w), Abu Huraira continued his duties in conveying the teachings of the Prophet (s.a.w). He went on preaching a great number of Ahadith, which made some of his friends curious of the large amount of Ahadith that he memorised in such a short time. Although the fact that he was able to memorise so many Ahadith was justified by the fact that he was dedicated to staying with the Prophet and due to the extraordinary ability to memorise speeches from the first time.
During the caliphate of Umar (r.a.a), Umar appointed him as a governor of Bahrain where he became quiet rich. Umar, being very scrupulous about the type of persons he appointed as governors, he was concerned that his governors should live simply and frugally and not acquire much wealth even through lawful means. When Umar (r.a.a) heard about Abu Huraira's wealth he recalled him to Madinah, thinking that Abu Huraira had acquired his wealth through unlawful means.
When Abu Huraira arrived in Madinah, Umar questioned him about the way he acquired such a fortune. Abu Huraira replied "from breeding horses and gifts that I received". Umar then ordered him to hand his fortune over to the treasury of the Muslims. Abu Huraira did as he was ordered and raised his hands to the heavens and prayed "O Lord, forgive Amir ul-Muminin". After a while Umar called upon Abu Huraira and offered him to regain his position as the governor of Bahrain but Abu Huraira refused the offer. When he was asked by Umar why he refused his offer he replied "So that my honor would not be besmirched, and my wealth would not be taken and my back would not be beaten". He then added "I also fear to judge without knowledge and speak without wisdom".
Abu Huraira continued to live a righteous life, devoting himself to serve the religion of Islam and being kind to his mother as well as encouraging others to be kind to their parents. One day when Abu Huraira's health was deteriorating quickly and his friends were praying for him to recover, he looked to the heavens and said "O Allah I love meeting you and ask you to love meeting me". He then died in the year 59 after Hijra when he was seventy eight years old.
He died after having accomplished his duty and his desire to preserve and transmit the teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w), leaving Muslims a great debt of gratitude for helping to preserve the teachings of the noble Prophet (s.a.w) and setting them a perfect example and platform to follow in preaching and conveying to the humanity what he and others had worked relentlessly, facing all sorts of hardships, in order to preserve. We ask Allah (s.w.t) to reward Abu Huraira and grant him the companionship of the holy Prophet in the hereafter just as he was granted his companionship in this world.
A Penny and a Minute
A man is trying to understand the nature of God and
God answered, "A million years is like a minute."
Then, the man asked, "God, how much is a million dollars to you?"
Finally, the man asked, "God, could you give me a penny?"