Use media to spread the faith, says Indian preacher

Updated 28 June 2013

Use media to spread the faith, says Indian preacher

The Hyderabad-based Islamic Academy for Comparative Religion (IACR) has been working for the past 15 years to spread the message of Islam in India, removing misconceptions about the divine religion and bringing followers of different religious faiths closer to promote communal harmony.
IACR is also working to confront the massive campaign of missionaries in Andhra Pradesh to convert Muslims into Christianity, said Asifuddin Muhammed, president of IACR. “The missionaries have been exploiting poverty and economic difficulties of Muslim families,” he told Arab News.
He called upon all Muslim organizations in the state to set out a joint strategy to protect the Islamic faith. “Not only the poor, but also many educated and rich Muslims including doctors and engineers have been converted to Christianity,” he pointed out.
Muhammed, who holds MBA and LLB degrees, introduces himself as a student of comparative religion. He was inspired by the dawah works of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat and Dr. Zakir Naik. As a result of his organization’s work across Andra Pradesh, hundreds have embraced Islam. IACR has a special section for women.
“Muslims in India are facing a serious challenge from Christian missionaries,” he said, adding that the missionaries have been receiving full support from politicians. “In some remote districts of Andhra Pradesh, especially coastal areas, as many as 1,000 families are being converted every year. We have documented proof for that,” he said.
Missionaries have six TV channels in the state while Muslims do not have even a single one, Muhammed said, emphasizing the need for launching a television channel as early as possible for the propagation of Islam, with the support of Muslim businessmen and philanthropists.
IACR intends to hold a series of lectures and workshops in various districts after training some 700 preachers, each of them taking the message to at least 50 people in a year. “This will help 35,000 non-Muslims to receive the message of Islam every year,” he said.
“We’ll also establish a network to take care of Muslims all over the state. If any person needs any kind of help including money or medical aid we’ll provide them,” Muhammed said. More Islamic lectures are to be given in Telugu being the language spoken by the majority, especially in the remote areas of Andhra Pradesh.
“Qur’anic Arabic course is a unique program being held by our organization to teach Arabic as a language to schoolchildren as seriously as math and science,” Muhammed said. IACR has designed a set of books and trained several teachers for the purpose. “The nine-year course will help students understand the Qur’an and Hadith without any translation.”
IACR has published a book on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), compiling what has been stated by prominent dignitaries like Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy and Michael Hart about the last prophet.
The book quoted Gandhi as saying: “I wanted to know the best of life one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind…I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission.”
The organization intends to distribute copies of the book among media persons, politicians and other influential people as well as TV channels and newspapers to remove the misconceptions about Islam and its Prophet. “Many non-Muslims have responded favorably after reading the book, saying they never knew that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a multifaceted personality known for his kindness and tolerance.”
He pointed out that a substantial number of Muslims are not interested in listening to Islamic lectures, including Jumah sermons, a reason that makes them ignorant about their religion and easy prey to missionaries. “Other religions spread their message through films, TV serials, dramas and other attractive programs. We should also follow the same methods to make Islamic teachings more popular and appealing,” he explained.
According to IACR, there are many reasons for the growth of Christianity in the state: The support of prominent Christian politicians, negligence of Muslims toward their poor, Muslims are not well organized and lack good network and capable scholars. “We have lot of Muslim businessmen, professionals, engineers and doctors but we don’t have a vision to bring these resources together to make an impact and change our situation to the better,” the president said. “IACR is not associated with any Muslim groups and tries to bring together all Muslims together on the basis of Islamic principles,” he added.
Speaking about strategies to be followed for the propagation of Islam in the country, Muhammed said: “We have to address individual and regional concerns about our religion by removing their misconceptions, and change the general feeling that Indian Muslims are not patriotic. Some fascist forces try to create a fear psychosis among the Hindus about Muslims in order to provoke them to attack Muslims and we have deal with such situations in a reasonable and convincing manner.”


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.