Islam in Colombia

Updated 26 January 2013
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Islam in Colombia

Over the years we have traveled to different countries throughout the world to revive the effort of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and remind the Muslims of their responsibilities and good qualities. The word 'dawah' (invitation) is actually a term that originates way back to all prophets of mankind and to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Many times, Muslims who have relocated to other countries have forgotten Islam. So, by our visiting these countries we hope to correct ourselves, remind the local Muslims to establish five amals (activities) and reintroduce the essentials of Islam, and be better Muslims and establish the local effort.
Although many brothers representing a vast array of ethnicities have been fortunate to take part in this dawah effort of visiting and spreading the Word of Allah, I was part of the group travelling to Colombia, which consisted of 7 brothers from the Bay Area. For the next 10 weeks, these brothers and I would form a bond together; we would share the same small living space, we would cook together, eat together, experience the same hardships and tribulations and along the way, forge a friendship and brotherhood that many times can last a lifetime. So, when we finally got our visas and scheduling taken care of, the brothers and I said our goodbyes to our families. We departed from San Francisco to Mexico and arrived in Colombia.
We were the first group ever from the Bay Area to have visited Colombia so we were a bit apprehensive. Not having any contact information or prior routes to our destination, we were quite aware of the fact that Colombia has a huge drug cartel that patrols the streets. Our looking different was sure to take notice. But we put our trust in Allah that everything would go well. Being that we have had our share of discrimination in the United States, we were not quick to condemn a people by the actions of a few. Judging the country of Colombia by the drug cartels was wrong, and we would not permit ourselves to become prejudiced with fear.
The statistics for Islam in Colombia estimates a total Muslim population of 10,000, representing 0.02 percent of the population. There are a number of Islamic organizations in Colombia, including Islamic centers in San Andrés, Bogotá, Maicao, Guajira, Nariño, and Santa Marta. There are also primary and secondary Islamic schools in Bogotá and Maicao. Maicao plays host to the continent's second largest mosque, the Mosque of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab.
The Muslim presence in Colombia is vast and varied. A large wave of immigrants came from the Middle East in the 1940s, making their permanent home in the town of Maicao in northern Colombia. These immigrants were mostly Muslim and were attracted by the thriving commerce of the town, which was benefiting from the neighboring Venezuelan oil bonanza. It is estimated that Colombia has a population of 840,000 Lebanese immigrants.
We arrived at 11pm in Bogata. The next morning we went to the mosque. It was here that we spent the next 5 days of our trip. The days here were busily involved visiting the local Muslim community. In addition to Colombian Muslims who were of Middle Eastern descent, there were also Indo-Pakistani Muslims and Muslims who were native Colombian. We were fortunate to meet and befriend Brother Nelson, a Colombian convert, the President of the Islamic Center in Bogata. Brother Nelson was an extremely hospitable host, showing us around the city and taking us to visit the Muslims that he knew. Another Colombian convert, an English teacher named Brother Luis, was our guide throughout the rest of our stay in Colombia.
When news spread throughout the community that visitors had arrived, Muslims from America, Muslims from near and far were eager to come and listen to talks about Islam and the reviving of the effort of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Other Muslims from neighboring cities invited us to visit them. So we rented a large van and decided to travel to Medellin. It was decided that Brother Nelson and three other local Colombians would join us on our trip; we were appreciative of having Brothers who were familiar with the country to navigate our way around. The local brothers cautioned us that the problem of guerrillas was very real that we would need to travel by day to avoid any danger, and that the government would close many of the roads and highways at dusk to further protect the citizens. We prepared ourselves to be leaving the next morning after prayer. In all, we felt very successful of our short time spent in Bogata. In addition to meeting and befriending a great Muslim community, four Columbians converted to Islam, including a Flamingo band leader David (Dawud) and a 70 year old grandmother.

To be continued next week Courtesy of www.islamicbulletin.com


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.