I misunderstood Islam due to media image

Updated 17 July 2014
0

I misunderstood Islam due to media image

Lara was a Canadian-born Scandinavian who became Muslim at the age of 23. She was never affiliated with any religion nor was she atheist. In mid-teens she began to think about religion. After coming into contact with Muslim students she ultimately embraced Islam.

MY first contact with Muslims occurred when I was introduced to some Muslim international students in 1988. Through them I learned a bit about Islam, such as Ramadan fasting. Some time back a Canadian newspaper had published a series of articles attacking Islam by using examples of anti-Islamic behavior of some Muslims in an attempt to vilify Islam itself. Non-Muslims tend to judge Islam on the basis of the behavior (which is not necessarily Islamic) of Muslims. I was not yet a Muslim but the articles were so outrageous that I sent a letter to the editor in defense of Islam.
I became curious about Islam. I re-read some articles I had picked up several months earlier from the MSA Islam Awareness Week display at my university. One was about Isa (Jesus) as a Prophet of Islam. Also, I asked a Muslim to get me some books about Islam; they were about the overall ideology of Islam and were written by two famous Muslim authors. Impressed, I thought, “This is Islam? It seems so right.” Over the next few months in my free time while attending university I continued to learn about Islam from authentic Islamic books, for example The Life of Muhammad (peace be upon him) by Muhammad Haykal.
One certainly does not learn the truth about Islam from the mass media! Also, newcomers to Islam especially must be careful to avoid the writings of deviant groups, which claim ties to Islam so as not to be misled. And just because the author has an Arabic name does not necessarily mean that he or she is a knowledgeable Muslim or even Muslim at all. Also, I learned about Islam from some kind, knowledgeable Muslims who did not pressure me. Meanwhile, I had begun to Islamize my behavior, which did not require huge change. I already avoided consuming alcohol and pig meat. Also, I always preferred to dress conservatively/modestly and not wear makeup, perfume, or jewelry outside my home. I started to eat only halal slaughtered meat. Also during this time I visited a masjid (mosque) in my city for the first time.
Until I discovered Islam, I knew almost nothing about it. I say discovered because the “Islam” that I had always heard about through the mass media was not true Islam. I had always assumed that Islam is just another man-made religion, not knowing that it is the Truth. I had also assumed that a person had to be raised as a Muslim to be one. I was not aware of the fact that all humans are born Muslim (in a state of Islam, submitted to the Creator).
Like many “Westerners” I associated Islam with the “East” and did not know that Islam is universal in both time and place. However, I never had negative feelings about Islam, Alhamdulillah. The more knowledge that I acquired about Islam, the more I felt that I too can actually be Muslim as I found that many of the beliefs that I already had were actually Islamic not merely “common sense.”
So after familiarizing myself with what Islam is basically about and what are the duties and proper conduct of a Muslim person, as well as thinking and reflecting, I felt ready to accept Islam and live as a Muslim. One day while at home I said the Shahada (declaration of faith) and began to perform the five daily salawat (prayers), Alhamdulillah.
That was several days before the fasting month of Ramadan began. I did not want to miss the fasting this time! I found the fasting to be much easier than I had anticipated; before I fasted I had worried that I might faint. At first there was a bit of an adjustment period getting used to the new routine of performing salah and fasting, and I made some mistakes, but it was exciting and not difficult.
I started to read the Qur’an (Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation) when I was given one soon after accepting Islam. Before that I had read only excerpts of it in other books. Also in the beginning, I found The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to be a useful guide.
In the month of Ramadan (January 1996) I started to wear the Islamic head scarf (hijab). I realized that I could not fully submit to Allah Almighty, which is what being Muslim is about, without wearing it. Islam must be accepted and practiced in its entirety; it is not an “alter-to-suit-yourself” religion. Since becoming a Muslim I was aware that the headscarf is required of Muslim women and I had intended to wear it eventually. Also, it is interesting to note that Christian nuns are never criticized for covering their heads. A couple of weeks prior, in du’a I began asking Allah Almighty to make it easy for me to wear it.
The day I finally put it on permanently I had reached the point where I felt that I could no longer go out with a bare head, and I thought “tough bananas” if others do not like me wearing it since I alone am accountable for my actions and am required to perform my Islamic duties, and I could never please everyone anyway. Sometimes opposition to hijab is a control issue: Some persons just plainly do not like those who are determined and independent especially if it is their child.
Upon wearing it I immediately felt protected and was finally able to go out and not be the target of stares/leers from men. At first I felt a bit self-conscious but after several weeks I felt completely used to wearing hijab. Sometimes other persons look puzzled/confused, I think because they are not used to seeing pale-faced, blue-eyed Muslim! By the way, wearing hijab is da’wah in a way as it draws attention to Islam.
Since accepting Islam I continue to seek knowledge about the Deen (religion), which is a lifelong duty for all Muslims — male and female. Currently, I am learning Arabic and hope to be able to read the Qur’an in Arabic soon, inshaAllah. Reading, discussing Islam with other Muslims, and the Friday sermon are all educational. Striving to be as pious as one can be and fighting against one’s own evil traits (Jihad Al-Nafs) takes effort and is continuous and never ending for Muslims.
I find Islam ever more fascinating, and I enjoy living as a Muslim.

Courtesy: islam-universe.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.