Islam deep inside Colombia

Updated 01 February 2013
0

Islam deep inside Colombia

Just before leaving, a young Colombian man who had recently accepted Islam came to the mosque accompanied by his father. His father said that since his son had converted to Islam, his son started respecting him and behaving differently — kinder and more thoughtful. The father mentioned that he had wanted to see for himself the reasons behind this change in his son. This young man ended up traveling with us on our journey and by the end of our trip, he was so thankful for the knowledge that he had gained and for the experience that made him a more patient person — qualities he said were sure to please his father.
Now accompanying our group as we traveled was Nelson and four other Colombian brothers. We were now a group of 12 brothers traveling by van to the city of Medellin. Some brothers slept in the van while others put their sleeping bags outside and slept. We continued on our journey and saw a sign that said San Francisco.
We finally arrived in the city of Medellin. We were warmly welcomed by the local Muslims who were so excited to have a foreign group visiting them. Our stay in Medellin was busily spent visiting the Muslim community which consisted of families from the Caribbean and some native Pakistanis, in addition to native Colombians. The community in Medellin is very active. We continued by van on our way to Cartagena and passed by the city of Bucaramanga. We finally arrived in Cartagena and then took small canoes to the nearby island of Playa Blanca, which was inhabited by Muslim fishermen. We were surprised to see how Islam had reached this island in Colombia. The island was beautiful, with the reflection of the brilliant sun shining on the sand and sea. The ocean had the most striking colors of blue you had ever seen. Located on this island, there was a small house that had been converted to a mosque. The local imam there was a Colombian convert who had donated his house for a mosque. Brother Carlos was so strong in his dawah efforts that he had introduced 40 houses in a radius around the mosque to Islam. He had even been interviewed by the local TV station. Brother Carlos said if a person had good qualities and was honest and generous, then your friends and neighbors will look to those qualities and want to emulate them. His house got too small to accommodate the growing population of Muslims so he built a larger prayer place (musala). We visited the local Muslim fishermen and they were so happy to see us; the fact that we had come to visit them from so far had truly touched them. They constantly supplied us with fresh coconuts and other delicious tropical fruit. We passed the warm evenings gathering with the local Muslims, sipping delicious coconut juice and reminding the Muslims about their duties and obligations to keeping Islam active. Most of the people on this island were fisherman by profession and very humble people. Their main diet consisted of fish. Since we were considered their special guests, they crossed the island just to bring back halal meat so as we would not tire from eating fish. This has been an experience that we'll never forget.
When we were leaving, the fishermen were in tears and asked us to stay longer, but our remaining days were few and we had already extended our stay on the island of Cartagena. We said, "Ojalá we will come back." "InshAllah we will return." Ojalá is a term used in the Spanish language which was originated by the Muslims of Spain about 800 years ago. The Spanish phrase, ojalá (que), and the Portuguese phrase, oxalá (que), both meaning "I hope (that)," "would (that)," "would to God (that)," etc., are both derived from the Arabic insha'Allâh. When asked why they use the word "Ojalá," they will say that they use it as an expression for something in the future. When the Spaniards shout olé at the bullfighter or the flamenco dancer, they echo the Muslim invocation of God, Allah! In fact, thousands of Spanish words have their origins in the language of the Muslims whose stay in Spain lasted eight centuries. Examples which can be easily appreciated without much knowledge of Spanish are sugar, azúcar, originally assukar; and cotton, in Spanish algodón, from al-qutun. Olive in Spanish is aceituna, and olive oil aceite, from the Arabic for olive, alzeitun. When Spaniards bid one another farewell and say "Hasta mañana" they are, quite unconsciously as with most of these words, using the Arabic hattá which still means what it did in the Middle Ages when it entered Spanish — "until." Many of the brothers were surprised to discover that the people of Colombia were using so many words as part of their language.
From Cartagena, we were expected to visit the Muslims in Maicao. There are about 10,000 Arabs in this city — both Muslims and Christians. However, due to limited time we would not be able to visit them. We had to think of getting back to Bogota, which was about 1046 km from where we were. We had limited daytime travel and police blocks, so we made consultation and decided to head back south and stopped in Barranquilla. We went through security checkpoints; the government has set up these programs aimed at eradicating drugs. Although 90 percent of the cocaine entering the US is processed in Colombia, Colombia has made real progress to weaken drug trafficking organization.
Throughout our trip the Colombian Muslims were beautiful people to meet — friendly and hospitable. The Islamic quality of honoring the guests has surely not been lost in this beautiful country. We were welcomed, embraced and made to feel at home. From our wonderful experience in Colombia, we now have a love and attachment to Colombia and can't wait to come back!

Concluded

- Courtesy of www.islamicbulletin.com


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
0

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.