Muhammad was most perfect man on earth

Updated 30 July 2015

Muhammad was most perfect man on earth

Rap music has seen more than its share of influence from the religion of Islam. With groups such as Public Enemy rapping about their respect for the Nation of Islam, to people such as Q-Tip of a Tribe Called Quest embracing mainstream Islam, the religion seems to be a recurrent theme in the genre, both impacting lyrics and lives. One artist more recently touched by Islam is Eric Schrody, better known in music circles as Everlast. Following is his concluding part of his narrative based on an interview in which Everlast discusses his journey to Islam and the challenges he faces as a new Muslim.

My family tried to. I just can’t understand that. But you know what? That’s a trial. Although I’ve changed my name for like 8 years now, they still run up calling me by my birth name. Then it’s, “Oh I forgot that you’re Muslim.” Then it’s the pork jokes. It never stops.
It’s one of those things where people laugh at what they don’t understand. Or they fear what they can’t grasp. The thing is that nobody can pretend that they don’t understand it. Because I’ve never come across anything more simple in my life.
Like I remember that when I sat down and asked, “So, what does a Muslim believe,” and I got the list run down to me. I was like, “You don’t put up the wall between Christianity and Judaism.” They were like, “Nah, it’s all the same story.”
If when you finally get down to reading the Qur’an, the Bible and the Torah, which is pretty much just the Old Testament, you find that the Qur’an is just an affirmation of what is correct and isn’t correct within those books (the Bible and the Torah). And then you say to yourself, “How did that go down when these cats were all from different parts of the world?” But they are all confirming each other’s story.
I’m reading a book right now called ‘Muhammad: The Life of the Prophet,’ by Karen Armstrong. It was written by a non-Muslim. So far, I’m only about a quarter of the way through; but it starts out telling you how they originally tried to paint Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a most negative sketch; that he established Islam under the sword. But then you learn that Muhammad (peace be upon him) only fought when he had to. ... to defend Islam. It’s a very good book. We’re telling you as Muslims that he was the most perfect example of a man to walk the earth so far. And from what I’ve read he is the last one to come of his kind.
When you get beyond being scared of Farrakhan and what he’s sayin’ — and here as a white person I’m speaking — when you get beyond the ignorance of believing that Islam has anything to do with just people that are blowing up things, that doesn’t have anything to do with Islam. They might do it in the name of Islam. But it has nothing to do with Islam. You can’t argue with it.
When I explain Jesus to a Christian, he can’t argue with me. And I don’t mean argue, saying, “Jesus isn’t God!” I mean, how much more sense does it make that he’s a man? If I was Christian, which to me means to be Christ-like, and God asks me, “Hey how come you weren’t more like Jesus?” I’ll say, I wasn’t more like Jesus because you made him half of a God [and] I’m only a man?” That doesn’t make any sense.
God doesn’t want things hard on us. God wants things easy as possible. If you ask and you are sincere, God will bring it to you. He might throw some rocks on your path, to make you trip and stumble. But it’s gonna come to you.

Taking Shahadah
The first time, it was right after I had heard a tape from Warith Deen Muhammad (son of Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad, who took most of the Nation of Islam into mainstream Islam). That just kinda broke down the whole Jesus thing. He explained that we (Muslims) do Christians a great favor by bringing Jesus (peace be upon him) down to the level of a man. Why would God create a man who is half a God and compare us to him? And it just sent off a bomb in my head. So I took Shahadah (profession of faith). And then the initial high wore off.
It was almost like a Christian who says that they accept Jesus. Then they say, “No matter what I do now I’m saved.” ‘Cause I was raised with that kinda mentality. Like, “OK, I accept the truth so let me just go out here and sin my butt off and I’m saved.”
I didn’t really claim to be a Muslim at that time. I picked and chose what I wanted to believe. God gave me leeway for a time. But eventually it was time to fish or cut the line. I was coming to a point where I was unsatisfied emotionally, and spiritually. I had money in the bank and a $100,000 car, women left and right, everything that you think you want. And then just sitting there being like, “Why am I unhappy?” Finally that voice that talks to you, the voice said, “Well, basically you’re unhappy because you’re living foul and you’re not trying to do anything about it.” My stubbornness at that time wouldn’t allow me to talk about it at that time. You get in that state of mind where you’re like, “I can figure this out all by myself.”
I finally got humble enough to talk to Divine and Abdullah about it. They asked me, “How do you feel? What do you think it is?” So finally I’m sittin’ there taking Shahadah again. From that point on I’ve made a commitment where I’m going to try my best. I’m gonna do my best to make my prayers, let’s start there. Let’s not beat ourselves up because we went out last night and had a drink. Let’s make our prayers and pray for the strength to stop doing one thing at a time. That’s what I’m still dealing with.
You know, once you get over the big things, it becomes very subtle. It can be as subtle as looking at a man, and not even speaking bad about him, but back-biting him in your mind. The easy ones to beat — well I shouldn’t say easy — the big ones are easy to notice. It’s the subtle psychological stuff that helps you get into who really you are. You gotta be able to face the truth of who you are. If you are not able to face that truth of who you are, you’re gonna crumble, man.

The narrative is based on an interviews taken by Adisa Banjoko, a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

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.