April is Autism Awareness Month, so I’d like to use this post to shed some light on what is becoming an increasingly-diagnosed condition in our world today. My hope is that you’ll get a better understanding of autism and the challenges faced by those on the autistic spectrum. Continue reading
Why do Muslims starve themselves during Ramadan? What do they get out of it? And why is the moon so important to them in this month? If you’ve never really heard about the deeper meanings behind this sacred month of Islam, read on to find out all you need to know. Continue reading
In honour of tomorrow night’s blessed occasion of the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.’s miraculous night journey and ascension (Isra and Mi’raj), masjids worldwide will commemorate it by holding a special programme. Remember that there are no special acts of worship specified for … Continue reading
As part of the South African leg of the 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week, the film “Roadmap to Apartheid” is currently being screened in different parts of the country. The film explores, in detail, the apartheid comparison as it is used in the enduring Israel-Palestine conflict. As much a historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa, the film shows why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today – under Israeli occupation, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them. It features interviews with South Africans, Israelis and Palestinians, and the film winds its way through the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel moving from town to town and issue to issue to show why the apartheid analogy is being used with increasing potency. It analyses the similar historical narratives of the Jewish people and the Afrikaaners, the tight relationship the two governments shared during the apartheid years, and everything in between.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has seen the film, and commented: “Roadmap to Apartheid is very powerful and compelling, and the visuals of house demolitions are appalling. Religion is repeatedly misused by politicians. One of the lessons of Jewish history is that God is always on the side of the oppressed. Another is that those who dehumanise others dehumanise themselves. Israelis will pay a heavy price for their callous mistreatment of Palestinians.”
It’s a must-see for all who feel strongly about justice in the world, and especially South Africans – who know very well the experience of such a cruel and divisive system.
You can view the trailer here, and if you’re in SA, there are still a few screenings remaining in the country:
Sunday, 11 March @ 14h30 (Joseph Stone Auditorium, Klipfontein Road, Athlone)
Thursday, 08 March @ 19h30 (Factory Cafe, 369 Magwaza Maphalala Street (Gale Street), Glenwood)
Sunday, 11 March @ 14h00 (Al Ansaar Hall, West Road, Overport, Durban)
Thursday, 08 March @ 13h30 (L2-69, Graduate Centre, University of Pretoria)
Click here for details of screenings in Soweto, Modimolle/Nylstroom, Ermelo, and Polokwane; and here for details of further events around the country for this cause, including a panel discussion with cartoonist Zapiro, Professor Allan Boesak, Ronnie Kasrils on Thursday evening.
Other important documentaries and resources on the subject are:
With all the war talk about an Israeli attack on Iran, let’s not forget about the silent war that happens each and every day in the occupied territories.
Look beyond the political rhetoric, and think about the people that are suffering as a result of this absurd, inhumane occupation – and imagine what it would be like if you or your family were the victims.
It’s through ventures like this 2012 campaign that the reality of the situation can be exposed, and more and more people are awoken to the shocking truth of just what is going on.
As mentioned in my last post, I’ll be going for Hajj very soon insha-Allah. And that means that I won’t be posting until at least late November. So until then, I wanted to leave you with something that I hope would be of benefit.
Many of you may not be fortunate enough to go on Hajj this year, but it’s an event that encompasses the entire Ummah – even those who aren’t there. Actually, more people DON’T go than those that do – since, mathematically, we’re over a billion strong in numbers, but only 3 to 5 million make it for Hajj each year.
So, to get you in the spirit, and also hopefully inspire you to make the best use of these coming days, I’d like to share with you the following:
- Audios: Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar
Remember that these are the best 10 days of the Islamic year (“There are no days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days…” – related by Bukhari and Tirmidhi) – so take advantage of them to boost your spirituality and draw closer to Allah. (For tips on how to do that, see the Yaser Birjas article referenced above).
Maybe you’ve slipped since Ramadan ended, or maybe you’ve maintained a steady level of consistency. But whatever the case, these coming days gives you the amazing chance to step up and recapture, in some way, the dedication and striving that Ramadan brought.
Again, thank you for reading. And do come back to visit in a few months. I hope to return to this blog in a few months with some pictures and other good things, insha-Allah.
Many of us take this month for granted – the fact that we can fast (as we’ve been commanded to do), perform taraweeh, and do all the other, communal things that come packaged with this ‘month of the ummah’.
But while we have it easy – while we have this freedom – our brothers and sisters in some places are being subjected to tremendous oppression – in that they are actively discouraged, or even banned, from fulfilling these great Ramadan activities.
For example, take the Muslim majority country of Tajikstan – whose secular government has banned Muslim youth from the masajid. This legacy of the country’s former Soviet rulers – who banned and punished the practicing of religion – also includes the government imposing sermons on imams to deliver at mosques – publishing a collection of 52 sermons that must be preached during the weekly Friday prayers. Additionally, a government campaign includs the arrest of men with beards, and ordering them to shave. All this in the name of countering “religious extremism”. For more info on the Tajikstan situation, see this article.
Another example is the plight of the Uighur Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Chinese Muslims already face severe restrictions, but Muslim members of the government throughout Xinjiang must sign “letters of responsibility” promising to avoid fasting, taraweeh, and other religious activities. The Communist government says “Party members are not allowed to fast for Ramadan, and neither are civil servants.” Other individuals are allowed – as it’s a “traditional ethnic custom” – according to the government – but they aren’t allowed to hold any religious activities during Ramadan.
With regard to Muslims working for private companies, while there isn’t an outright ban, there are still consequences. Uighur Muslim employees are offered lunches during fasting hours; and anyone who refuses to eat could lose their annual bonus, or even their job – according to one account.
And schoolkids and the youth are also not free. Officials target Muslim schoolchildren, providing them with free lunches during the fasting period. Another report, from an Uighur resident ofBeijing, said that students under 18 are forbidden from fasting during Ramadan.
For more info on the Uighur situation, see this article.
These are just two examples of political oppression – but there may be others. And in addition, there are Muslims in other places that are being deprived of a ‘normal’ (in our sense) Ramadan by other issues – poverty, famine, war, and more.
So while we enjoy our Ramadan and attempt to draw closer to Allah through fasting, taraweeh, and everything good that the month brings, let’s stop to feel the pain, try to help, and at least make dua for our suffering brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.
And let’s appreciate the religious freedom we have, while we have it. Because if we don’t, we may lose it, and then we’ll look back to these times of freedom with fondness and longing – but without the ability to practice and enjoy our religion the way we are able to right now.
I hope everyone’s having an awesome Ramadan so far. Ramadan in South Africa usually means that our esteemed guest, Mufti Ismail Menk (from Zimbabwe) performs taraweeh in one of our cities – each night following the salaah with a talk based on some aspect of the Quran.
This year, he’s in Cape Town – at Zeenatul Islam (Muir Street – District Six), and the talks are about the stories of the Prophets (peace be upon them all).
Cape Town radio station Voice of the Cape is broadcasting the taraweeh and lectures this week; and I think Channel Islam International also broadcasts it every night (not sure though). For those who can’t pick up those stations, click on the links and they both have audio streaming via the Internet.
You can find the videos of these inspirational talks – updated regularly – on YouTube. And for those interested in downloading the talks, you can find days 1 to 5 at:
This site is updating it regularly, so they’ll hopefully keep adding more until the month is done. I’m aware that at least some of the audios on that site have a problem – with sound in one channel only. For an alternative, which might be better, try this link.
Note that Mufti Menk does allow his talks to be downloaded for free from the Internet – just as long as you don’t alter them. (And also don’t try to make a profit from them!)
For those who prefer / want rough transcripts of the talk, Du’aa a Day on Facebook is publishing daily / regular transcripts. And for those without Facebook (perhaps better to keep off it this month for some of us 😉 – Muslimah (Life)Style is posting the transcripts on their site.
For older lectures by him, visit www.muftimenk.co.za– which has the complete sets of most of his South African Ramadan talks for the last few years.
Feel free to pass this message on to anyone that’s interested. Many, many, South Africans benefit from these lessons each year – and even though we can listen to / see / read it at any time of the year; Ramadan is a time when our hearts are much more open and accepting of these beautiful advices – so take advantage of them now, while you’re in these blessed moments.
For those South Africans hoping to go next year, you can begin the process already – by registering with SAHUC online:
On the registration page, choose the year 1432.
Registration opened Friday, 29th October 2010 – and the sooner you put your name down, the better.
As a reminder to watch what we say, I thought I’d put up a collection of Islamic quotes and more with regard to backbiting. It has been covered before, but we can never get too many reminders when it comes to matters of such importance.
I hope these serve as reminders to us all about how careful we need to be with our tongues.
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O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed, some suspicions are sins. And spy not on each other nor backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.
(Quran 49: 12 – Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 12)
Various ahadeeth and sayings:
- “…Backbiting is to say something about your brother that he would dislike…If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” [Muslim]
- “When man wakes up in the morning each day, all parts of the body warn the tongue saying, ‘Fear God as regards us, for we are at your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we become crooked.’” [Tirmidhi]
- It was narrated in the Hadith relating the story of Mi’raj (Ascent): “The Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by people with copper fingernails – with which they scratch their own faces and chests. He asked: “Who are those, Gabriel?” It was answered: “Those are the people who eat the flesh of other people and vilify their honor.”
- It was narrated that a man brought two fasting women to the Prophet (pbuh) – for they were dying of thirst. The Prophet (pbuh) turned away, silently refusing to give permission for them to break their fast. So, the man begged him again, mentioning that the women were on the verge of death. The Prophet then said, “Bring them to me and bring along a bowl.” When they turned to him, he turned to one and told her to vomit in the bowl. She complied, spitting up a mixture of vomit, blood, pus and pieces of flesh which half filled the bowl. He then turned to the other and had her do the same. After the bowl was filled, the Prophet (pbuh) reportedly said, “Verily these two have fasted from what Allah has made halaal for them; and broken their fast from what Allah has made haraam. They spent their fast eating the flesh of others.” [Ahmad]
- “… Do not backbite Muslims, and do not search for their faults – for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault; and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in the open for everyone to see – even if he hid it in the innermost part of his house.” [Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi, others]
- “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbour…” [Bukhari]
- “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” [Bukhari]
Scholar Hasan al-Basri reportedly said:
“I swear by Allah: backbiting is swifter in consuming the religion of a Muslim than a gangrenous infection is in consuming the human body.”
Two particular audio lectures come to mind, when I think of this topic:
- Guarding the tongue (30 minutes) [Stream | Download]
- Truthful and Straightforward Speech (18 minutes) [Stream | Download]
And, for a lighter look at the issue, watch Baba Ali’s video: “Little backbiter”.
If you’d like a printable version of the quotes, you can download the Word document below: