The First Muslim-American Scholar: Bilali Muhammad
By Lost Islamic History
24 February 2014
An unfortunate misconception among today’s American Muslim community is that Islam has only been present in America for less than 100 years. Many American Muslims are children of immigrants who came to the United States from the Middle East and South Asia in the mid-nineteenth century, and thus wrongly assume that the first Muslims in America were those immigrants. The reality, however, is that Islam has been in America for far longer than that. Besides possible pre-Colombian Muslim explorers from al-Andalus and West Africa, Islam arrived on America’s shores in waves through the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. While hundreds of thousands of slaves arrived in America during this time, the stories of only a few have been preserved and are known today. One of the…
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Reasons to read Surat Al-Khalf (the Cave) on Fridays.
by Amr Khaled, Translated by Dar al Tarjama, source
Surat Al-Kahf is a Makkan surah. It was revealed after surat Al-Ghaashiyah, but in the order of the Qur’an it comes after surat Al-Isra’. It consists of 110 ayahs.
Threads for One Fabric
Surat Al-Kahf consists of four stories: The story of the people of the cave; that of the man with the two gardens; that of Prophet Musa (AS) (Moses) and Al-Khidr; and that of Dhul Qarnain. Several ayahs follow each story for further comment. Thus some questions are to be raised : What do these stories then have in common? Why is the surah named surat Al-Kahf? Why should it be read every Friday?
The Advantages and Rewards for whoever reads surat Al-Kahf
The Prophet (SAWS) said, “He who reads surat Al-Kahf on Friday, Allah will light for him radiance that stretches from his feet to the holy Ka’ba.”4.
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I posted a comment –
Thank you for the post Huma. I am sorry that your faith has been shaken by the kidnapping of these girls and the forced marriage that you had to endure. But as I understand my religion, these kidnappings and forcing a woman to marry against her will, are not of Islam.
But that still does not help really. You wonder why Allah (swt) has not saved these girls, or even saved you. From what I understand is that life is a test, it is like a dream we will wake up from and then have to stand and face judgement on the choices we make. It seems to me a very individual journey and some have safety, wealth and beauty, while others have a terrible struggle. Each situation is a test. I do believe this.
As a woman myself, I have felt anger and dismay at the situation with those kidnapped girls, with FGM, with forced marriage. But I recognize that it is not about Islam, it is about ignorance and following ‘culture’. And Boko Haram, well, they know what they fight for, but I do not recognize Islam in it, or I should say, not Islam as I know it. They are like strangers to me. They are humans who I believe are in error.
So they have shaken your faith. Then this is the time to pray to Allah (swt) to strengthen your faith and ask for patience, to be steadfast and that you and all the believers persevere in these trying times for surely we are being tested. And we have to depend on Him. Really depend on Him to get us through it and learn lessons from what is happening around us.
Anyone can say they are Muslim, but that does not make it so.
by Huma Munshi
As a Muslim woman, I have some things in common with atheists. I wonder where God is when people are being murdered and brutalised. Where is God when theyoung girlsin Nigeria were kidnapped? Where is he when young people all over the world are being abused? The vulnerable being exploited shakes my faith to the core.
The case of the kidnapped Nigerian young girls is gut-churning horror played out in real-time on rolling twenty-four hour news scenes. They have been taken by the militant group Boko Haram who have threatened to sell these girls into slavery. It makes me wonder (for the umpteenth time) how it is possible to misunderstand the meaning of being Muslim and use it to legitimise the oppression of the most vulnerable.
It has got me thinking about faith and being a Muslim feminist, something I alluded tolast week.
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In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
[7:10] We have established you on earth, and we have provided for you the means of support therein. Rarely are you appreciative.
[7:11] We created you, then we shaped you, then we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Iblees (Satan); he was not with the prostrators.
[7:12] He said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?” He said, “I am better than he; You created me from fire, and created him from mud.”
[7:13] He said, “Therefore, you must go down, for you are not to be arrogant here. Get out; you are debased.”
[7:14] He said, “Grant me a respite, until the Day of Resurrection.”
[7:15] He said, “You are granted a respite.”
[7:16] He said, “Since You have willed that I go astray,* I will skulk for them on Your straight path
[15:26] We created the human being from aged mud, like the potter’s clay.
[15:27] As for the jinns, we created them, before that, from blazing fire.
[15:28] Your Lord said to the angels, “I am creating a human being from aged mud, like the potter’s clay.
[15:29] “Once I perfect him, and blow into him from My spirit, you shall fall prostrate before him.”
[15:30] The angels fell prostrate; all of them,
[15:31] except Iblis (Satan). He refused to be with the prostrators.
[15:32] He said, “O Iblis (Satan), why are you not with the prostrators?”
[15:33] He said, “I am not to prostrate before a human being, whom You created from aged mud, like the potter’s clay.”
[15:34] He said, “Therefore, you must get out; you are banished.
[15:35] “You have incurred My condemnation until the Day of Judgment.”
Racism, I have always found since I am a child, to be quite puzzling and abhorrent. Not normal. Ugly and degrading to the perpetrator and the victim.
I am taking a class on the Mission of the Prophets and we are studying the creation of man and the Prophet Adam. Very good stuff. And the teacher mentioned it in his notes and it really stood out.
He said, My Lord, since You made me go astray, I swear that I shall beautify for them (evils) on the earth, and shall lead all of them astray,
except those of Your servants from among them who are chosen (by You).
So racism is one of those things that Iblis beautifies for us for it to exist in the world to such a degree. It is insidious and undercurrent in many instances so much so that Allah speaks about it to us in the Quran 49:13.
O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into races and tribes, so that you may identify one another. Surely the noblest of you, in Allah‘s sight, is the one who is most pious of you. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
The Quran is such a Mercy to us. The more I learn, even at this slow pace, the more it just makes me weep with the knowledge that Allah (swt) gave us this book of guidance.
Iblis will use every trick in the book to get us off the right path to Allah (swt) and we have to use just as much effort to be resistant to it. But first we have to recognize it.
As a new Muslim, there are many joys and many challenges. Knowing that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving helps quite a bit and gives me peace when the going gets rough. Not that is this is something to fall back on as you struggle because one is lazy, but that He is my rock, my steady ground when there is the shifting.
I categorize this as a shifting because what I was before, and what I am now has definitely moved. What was normal behaviours and perceptions are viewed differently.
Let me give you a for instance.
Over the years, I struggled with writing novels. I read quite a lot of books, mostly in the last years, Paranormal Romances. Quite juicy ones filled with all manner of creatures and their interactions with humans. There was mystery, love, sex, death and all the elements that make up that genre of fiction. But anytime I tried to write such fiction, I would get out to an excellent start, but something inside me would give me pause. And I asked myself, deep inside, do I really want to write such a subject.
Now this was quite puzzling to me and it took me some years to think about this. My main problem was, if I had a daughter, would I want her reading such writing. As much as I enjoyed it, it was a guilty pleasure that had become quite normal. If you look at Paranormal Romance lists on a site like Goodreads.com, there are many, many books. It is quite the mainstream genre and there are times that the novels make the bestseller lists. And in addition, the desire and attention spent on anticipating took much time. I would fall in a sort of ‘love’ for the hero and the heroine or even the writer who brought such wonderful distraction to me. Time would past as I read the books and then it was done. And off I went to look for another fix.
This behavior happened over the course of years as I would start writing, then I would stop. I was uncomfortable about writing about Angels and Jinn with such interaction with humans as if it were a normal thing.
As I look back on it, I believe that Allah was already working on me, even before I embraced Islam. And soon, I lost my taste for the books.
When I look back at all the money and time I spent in this world of the paranormal, I am a bit stunned, to be honest. So much time wasted when I could have spent that time and money, on something pleasing to Allah, like knowledge that would uplift me and not knowledge that was geared towards my baser instincts and in fact did absolutely nothing to benefit me.
So before I took my Shadahah, Allah the All Knowing was working on me, shifting me to look at things differently.
And here is another instance.
For many years I had wondered about media and culture. I was a sort of couch cultural student. There was a wonder about the worship of celebrity or even in ourselves via reality shows and how one could completely waste time watching and thinking about such persons who basically were like prostitutes, selling themselves for money. I know that may be a bit harsh, but that is what I thought. I enjoyed them none the less.
I had an incident when I went to a Rock Concert and I can tell you, I was a huge fan of the artist and I was so moved by one of his performances, that I said that I would cut my hair, dye it blonde and follow him barefoot around the world.
After I thought that, I was a bit stunned that I would be so swept away and I took a step back and really thought about that feeling. It is easy to fall in love with the one who gives so much joy, or by their beauty. It is understandable that they have a bunch of followers.
But really, there is no human that should such idolizing followers. I should only love Allah that much. That is what I thought and curbed my enthusiasm so to speak.
There was a thought that came to me from that experience. What if all his talent was geared towards worshiping Allah. What would it be then. Allah gave him that voice and reciting the Nasheeds would uplift the Ummah.
This was quite a few years ago. It was a shifting inside me and I was able to look at the Entertainment business quite differently.
These are a few things that has been shifting within me and around me. Not all at once, just revealing a little bit at a time until I am where I am today.
It was not hard for me to become a Muslim because Allah over the years just stripped things from me a little bit at a time. The small build-up and my life’s circumstances allowed me to notice them. For His purpose.
So when the shift happened in my perspective, while still very challenging in regards to many things, little things; they were not as jarring and it seemed as if all I had to do was step in that place of shift and nothing went out of focus, in fact, things became much more clear.
But there was travel to get from there to here. There were hillocks, flooding, mountains and debris in the road. I made wrong turns and still probably will do so in this journey.
I am thankful that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving because one of my major struggles is smoking. I am desperately trying to lean on Allah and not tobacco when things get rough. Sometimes I am successful and other times not.
But there is clarity about what is happening and why. My struggles are never the end of me, just the life of journey. My intentions, I strive for them to be good and I lean on Allah, for Allah knows best.
In learning not to waste time, I am seeking knowledge.
Many years ago, I went to University and graduated. It could very well be a lifetime ago for some people. Then I had the University of Life. I thought that would be enough but it is not. Sometimes I feel quite overwhelmed with what I think I need to know.
A friend has told me to take it slow. One step at a time.
And I pray to Allah, “O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge”.
The Internet is an amazing thing, if used wisely.
I can tell you that I have had many adventures on the Internet. Some not so nice. Some very nice. It is a tool to be used.
And finally, I am using it to better myself. Not something to entertain myself with. That makes for wasting time. Take it from me, from someone who knows about wasting time. Do not get lost in the Internet. There are many traps. But for knowledge about Islam, I am finding it very helpful.
What would be ideal is if I lived near a Mosque and could meet Muslim people. At present, that is not the case. So I have been on You Tube and have to sort out what to watch. I am still struggling with how to pray properly. But that is another story for a later time.
I have a friend who has made some suggestions and I am taking it from there, listening to speakers and I pray that I do not go astray, Inshallah.
So I put in search, the burning tags that are first on my mind. Women and Islam.
I found this video very enlightening and helpful. There is a sadness that I did not have this information earlier in my life. Maybe my life would have been different. But I have it now and Allah knows best. And I am thankful I am learning it now. I do this to be pleasing to Allah, not for my own edification.
I was a time waster.
I am a time waster.
As I am reverting to Islam, I find that I am so much more in this place of flux. It is like a path in the forest. South is what I was and North is what I will be. This path is a bit rocky, but there is sun shining from all directions, puddles of sunlight dot the road. The road is not straight, it winds back in on itself before straightening to go forward. That is how I am finding this walk.
Does the caterpillar know that it will turn into the butterfly? Is there anticipation?
My breath catches in my chest.
I live in Europe, though I am not European by birth. At my so called middle age, my friends are all settled in their belief or non belief of a higher power. It is not something that we discuss generally. But I know that they would have a hard time with this. So I do not really discuss it.
I have given up pork.
It is not good for me.
Look how much weight I have lost since I stopped eating pork.
Now is this being dishonest?
For me, no. I stopped eating pork a few months before I started looking into Islam. I gave up drinking around the same time, though I drank very little for a few years. Now I will not touch the stuff.
Many people in my family have problems with drugs and alcohol. I have had a brother, a father and many other relatives who died from chronic alcoholism and high blood pressure and blockage of artieries.
So Islam spoke to me on what I had already chosen to do. I looked twice. Pork just brought too much disease and some people have a problem with alcohol so it is best just not to drink.
It seems very reasonable to me. It makes sense.
So as far as my friends know, I have stopped eating pork and do not drink anymore.
This is a big deal I believe.
My friends love pork and love to drink wine and smoke. They like to have a good time.
So do I.
Only time will tell if I can still hang with them.
But what I think will happen is that I will have to make some new friends as well.
This is the thing. I just do not see how I will fit in with a nice Muslima. I have no children. I am a bit wacky. And… well I imagine them to be quite pious and I am working on getting there, but I am sooooo not there yet.
So I feel really alone right now. Not sad and alone. Just alone.
My husband is totally not into it; this change in me. I can see the strain as he tries to be supportive.
He just does not want to be a Muslim. At least it does not seem to me that he wants to be.
I do not live in a city, in this part of Europe, there are very few Mosques.
So why am I doing all of this; making hardship in my social life, in my married life and in my life all around?
I believe in one God and Mohammed (PBUH) was his Prophet.
From there, it just took off. And I am trying to pick up my sanity somewhere.
Oh did I mention that I am also stopping smoking? Well, if not, I am. So I am a bit crazed right about now… though I must say, not as bad as prior attempts.
Smoking is Haram (very bad) in Islam. I really did not need Islam to tell me that though. But it is best just to never start smoking. Like it is best to never eat pork and drink. Best for our health.