Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Looking to God for Guidance

[Yesterday I was reading a sister's story about her conversion to Islam from Christianity, and I found in her story an amazingly inspiring part that I want to share, It came just when I needed it most]

Some religious people get angry when I say that God guides me, and claim it is impossible. First of all, the Quran begins by stating that we should go to God for guidance. Secondly, just because they (the angry person) have never had this experience, does not mean it does not exist.

It does happen, and I will be happy to try to explain how to get started, as far as I understand it.

1. First of all, remember, that God knows every iota of our intentions. So, we must begin with utterly pure intentions. You cannot want God's guidance for some reason or power, ego, etc. It must be for wholly unselfish reasons. God recognizes the impure heart, no matter how successfully someone might try to disguise it among the general public.

2. You must let go of all the things that you try and control in your life and recognize that God is in control. I think so often God is trying to guide us towards what he wants us to do, however, we are too busy, trying to make things go the way that we want, that we are not able to hear Him. A good way to let go of our control, so that we can hear God, is to visualize a barge floating down a river in front of you. Imagine placing everything you have in your life on that barge as it floats away from you, to God.
Image you have no say or input as to what happens to these things, situations, people, etc., and honestly saying to God that you fully accept and embrace whatever it is He decides to do with all of the things in our life. Even if it is the opposite of what you desire - that is a very hard part. Imagine if He decides that everything is best for you, if it is the opposite, of what you are trying to achieve. This is where you have to truly trust God one hundred percent.

3. Next, you must be still and recognize God and all of His attributes.

4. Next, you must be silent and still and just "be" with God.

5. You must not expect anything to happen, because it is the grace of God when He guides you. However, if you do this daily, my experience is eventually something happens. Sometimes it happens during the prayer, but other times it occurs while you are in the ordinary situations.

6. The thing that happens is that you will sense a strong direction of guidance. You have to learn to distinguish between your own ideas and Gods. The way that I usually know that it is God, is that His guidance is usually the opposite of what I want to do. For instance, since I am not a good person, there are certain people that I do not like, and would not mind if they disappeared from this earth. Sometimes, I will sense God telling me to go to them and comfort them. It is a struggle because sometimes my only desire is to go up and kick them. I remember once I sensed God asking me to pray blessings for my least favorite person on the planet. I could not believe it. I was arguing with God saying, "come on God? Blessings? Can I just pray that he gets in a car accident and suffers pain and becomes very sorry for being so evil." (I told you that I am bad, didn't I?) Anyway, needless to say, He did not find that acceptable, so I pray the way He requested. When I have a strong sense that I need to do something good that I do not want to do, and this action falls in line with all the teachings of Allah, it is usually God's guidance.

7. The way that I confirm that it was God's guidance is that something significant and Godly happens as a result. For instance, the day I prayed blessings for my least favorite person, he made a dramatic turn around in his behavior toward me from that time forward.

8. Again, the key, is all in the honesty of intention. Your intention must be to behave in a pious way, serve Allah and His purposes with no desire for personal gain. Again, I have many interesting stories about this, but I want to limit the length of this.

In the end she asks for prayers for herself, especially due to the hardships she has been facing after converting, please make prayers for her and for me, they are highly needed.

And here is the link to her full story

Friday, February 17, 2006

An Image of the Prophet Muhammad


Here is a very precise lifelike image of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by somebody who saw him for the first time and didnt know him before at all. Its not an image of him drawn on canvas depicting some artist's imagination, but a vivid description by a lady called Umm e Ma'bad.

She was an old Arab lady, very hospitable and kind and the Prophet was travelling from Makkah to Madinah with his companion Abu Bakr (ra) and two others, and was thirsty. When they stopped by her house she offered her hospitality.

Later when her husband came home and she told him about the travellers. He became very keen to hear more from her about the young man she was describing, as he thought he had heard about him before.

This is what she told him about the manners and looks of the Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him], of all what she saw.

Pious in habit; smart in appearance; appealing in etiquette; proportionate in physique; luxurious in hair; handsome in countenance.

Eyes black and wide; hair long and full; voice deep and rich; neck long and strong; forehead wide and brilliant; eyes filled with modesty; eyebrows thin and long; hair black and slightly curled; with a silent dignity that makes a place in the heart.

Appears very attractive from afar; but is ever more so handsome from close; sweet, enchanting, manner of speaking; speaks clearly, without excess or deficiency of words - as if pearls have been joined into a necklace.

Medium in height, so that appears neither short nor too tall - like the fresh stem of a fresh tree; impressive and magnetic presence; cynosure of his companions; he speaks, and they listen with intent silence; he orders, and they hurry to obey; stately, regal, neither reticent nor talkative!"

On hearing this, her husband exclaimed," This was the man from Quraysh that I have been hearing about. If I ever have the opportunity, I will join his followers."

That is how the Prohpet was, and there are a lot many authentic accounts by his companions about the way he looked and acted. He was of the finest manners.

A companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described him by saying:

Anyone who saw him suddenly stood in awe of him, and anyone who made his acquaintance loved him. Those who described him said they had never seen anyone like him before or since." [Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1524]

But why is this that in Islam any depiction or drawings or statues of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], and for that matter any prophet or God, are not allowed?

One simple reason is that, all those drawn images would be mere imaginations of the people who draw them, and not real representation as those noble personalities were [And even more so for God].

Second and the more important reason is that, becaue of the reverence for those personalities, and honor and love given to them, it has the danger of people eventually ending up worshipping their images or statues, i.e practicing idolatory, the very same thing that all those prophets were sent to banish, i.e worshipping false dieties besides God.

In Islam only God is worthy of worship, and He sent the prophets, from Adam till Jesus and Muhammad [peace be upon them all], so as to be taken as perfect role models by the people. And this is what they are given honor for.

More on What the Prophet looked like ,

Manners of the Prophet [Beautiful Flash presentations]

The Teacher [A beautiful islamic song in praise of the Prophet pbuh]

Also: Why we Muslims are angry


Monday, February 13, 2006

Muslim Response

[This is basically in response to a comment posted by Omar, a Christian reader in response to my previous post 'What Makes Me a Muslim'. Wanted it to be read by more people, so I make it as a post, its about how Muslims feel in these circumstances and also some advice for the Muslims.]

Omar, thanks for ur precious comment.

Yes true, this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught and also he himself wouldn’t have acted in ways many Muslims are, on the contrary his life is full of instances where he responded with kindness even to the people doing worst against him, which consequently led most of them to Islam due to his own beautiful character.

Now there are more than a billion Muslims, all kinds of them, whether they practice Islam fully or not, whether they completely practice the control taught by the Prophet pbuh or not, but all of them take it very PERSONAL when it comes to the Prophet Muhammad, because of his greatness, and our closeness to him.

All the Muslims aren’t going to act in the same way as the Prophet pbuh would have, even though taught so. Many would be naturally violent over this and we can’t stop the reaction. There will be Muslims protesting peacefully and in an organized manner to make an impact, and there will be others who will do otherwise.

And in no way is it right to promote violence and bloodshed, but the ppl who have set it all ablaze by creating those insulting images, should be ready to face all sorts of reactions from all kinds of Muslim that there are. Its a deep deep hurt to each and every Muslim. It is a fact that we are ready to sacrifice our lives for him.

How come the cartoonists and the people with them were not aware at all how more than a billion people on this globe honor the Prophet and that they would be infuriating them by insulting him? Before, it was the desecration of the Quraan and now our Prophet and we know it will go on.

But all that said, now it’s the responsibility of those Muslims who understand how we should react properly, and as you said, our religious scholars should direct them to appropriate and peaceful ways.

We are very rightful in this protest and we must sound it off over the disgrace of our Noble Prophet, who is sent for all mankind. BUT..

But Muslims must remember to do it in an organized way, dont forget patience. And it is important to do it that way not because we fear the western criticism over that, but because that is how we should be, and because Islam stops from such violent protest.

THINK over it and find guidance in Islam itself as to what way it teaches us to act in such situations.

LOOK into your own lives, you are rightfully rising up against it, but are your own lives an example of the same man who you claim your love with, and take him as a role model for yourselves?

Also it is another chance to show the world how beautiful and honorable is the man they have scoffed, and they dont know.

Please read the article at the following link for a variety of ideas how you can respond to this. Read it and go down for a list of ways you can support your Prophet.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

What Makes Me a Muslim

If I have to tell the world what makes me a Muslim, I will use the very same words that one of the companions of the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) used when he was asked the same thing by the King of Abyssinia, Negus.

It is a compelling description of what Islam really is, and what the true message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is for ALL mankind, as a Messenger of God. And the world should also know why any attempt to disgrace our Noble Prophet is so sickening and exasperating, and why we regard him the most after God and respect him in a way no one else is. You will know once you read it:

"We were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols and eating the flesh of dead animals, committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, breaking the ties of kinship, treating guests badly and the strong amongst us exploited the weak.

"We remained in this state until God sent us a Prophet, one of our own people whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness and integrity were well-known to us.

"He called us to worship God alone and to renounce the stones and the idols which we and our acncestors used to worhip besides God.

"He commmanded us to speak the truth, to honour our promises, to be kind to our relations, to be helpful to our neighbours, to cease all forbidden acts, so abstain from bloodshed, to avoid obscenities and false witness, not to appropriate an orphan's property not slander chaste women.

"He ordered us to worship God alone and not to associate anything with Him, to uphold Prayer, to give Zakat and fast in the month of Ramadan.

"We believed in him and what he brought to us from God and we follow him in what he has asked us to do and we keep away from what he forbade us from doing.

"Thereupon O King, our people attacked us to make us renounce our religion and take us back to the old immorality and the worship of idols.

"They oppressed us, made life intolerable for us and obstructed us from observing our religion. So we left for your country, choosing you before anyone else, desiring your protection and hoping to live in justice and peace in your midst."

These are the words of Jafar ibn Abi Taalib who was among the first who became Muslim when the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave out the message in Makkah. And well, King Negus also accepted this message and became a Muslim, (after also asking what Muslims thought of Jesus (peace be upon him).

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to all mankind, and this was his message, that's the reason his companions stood for it, and always defended it. And this is what makes me a Muslim.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fasting Today?

It is 9th Muharram of the Islamic calendar today. So plz dont forget to fast today and tomorrow as it is recommended by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashoora’ [10th Muharram].

He said, “What is this?”

They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day.”

He said, “We are closer to Moosa than you.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast.

It is best to fast not just on the day of Aashoora but also adding a day before or after it fasting. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'If I am (still) here next year, then certainly I shall fast the ninth (day of Muharram).' [Muslim]

We fast on this day out of respect for it, and it is Sunnah not obligatory. But the reward is GREAT. Again in the Prophet's words, (peace be upon him).

“Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashoora’ I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Muslim]

That is, forgiveness from all the (minor) sins commited during the year before it inshaAllah. And the thing to remember is that all the major sins will still need repenting.

Have a great day, May Allah forgive us all of our sins, and make us do deeds that He loves, aameen.

Don't go, read some more here :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Linking Up With God

"And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me, tell them I am very close to them. I answer the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me . Therefore they should respond to me and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided". 2:186

A heart touching verse from the Quraan, where God is so lovingly telling each one of us, you can call on Me directly and I reply, you dont need anyone in the middle in order for your call to be conveyed to Me. You are never alone, and I listen to you direct whenever you call out for help and I respond and I guide.

Allah said elsewhere `I am as My servant thinks of Me, and I am with him whenever he invokes Me.' [Hadith Qudsi]

This is how each human being has a very direct link with God, a God-man relationship on one to one basis, without the need of having any middleman. It is a relationship of love and fear, and the fear is that of having God get angry because of our bad deeds. But as we confess to Him, feel guilty and vow never to repeat those things again (and sincerity of the heart is the key) we are forgiven and become as pure as a newborn.

“Whoso does evil or wrongs his own soul, then seeks pardon of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.” 4:110

This is the relationship that all the prophets were sent to establish between the people on the earth and their Creator in the heavens. To help them understand God and to remove all the misconceptions they kept forming about the nature of God.

As like in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the people of Makkah were worshipping stone idols, even though being the followers of prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) this was all far from making any sense. When asked why they worship and pray to these stone statues who cant even move or respond, their response used to be that we worship the one true God but these idols are our way to him, as these statues are those of the people who were righteous and closer to God, while we are imperfect. This was their self justification without having any proof to support their notions.

But Islam again established the right idea about linking with God, based on absolute belief in Him and His ordained way of life. You want to talk to him, you feel bad, you are hurt, or may be guilty for doing something really wrong, just raise your hands and ask him humbly and sincerily to help you and forgive you. You will find him ever Merciful.

God doesnot expect perfection from us, He accepts us as we are. Aren't we created by Him? He knows our sinful nature, BUT He wants us to keep making ourselves better and keep turning back to Him because that is the test.

Who has created death and life that HE might try you -which of you is best in deeds; and HE is the Mighty, the Most Forgiving. 67: 2

And this is how close God is to us:

And assuredly, WE have created man and WE know what his mind whispers to him, and WE are nearer to him than even his jugular vein. 50: 17.

So never get tired of praying to God and seeking His forgiveness. We can only find peace by being close to God and making a conscious effort towards that. Doing all the stuff we do daily in our busy lives, stay linked with God. Keep calling on Him as He says 'I am near'.