Archive | April, 2013
Video

Advertising’s Image of Women

10 Apr

This is what women have to look, and the truth is that it’s all photoshop! May Allah grant us knowledge, and deviate us from those paths that will deteriorate us as women.

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Things that stopped me from becoming a Muslim

10 Apr

Bismillah hirRahman nirRaheem

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

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May Allah (subhana wa’tala) grant us guidance, knowledge and strengthen our emaan (faith). May Allah (swt) bless all Muslims that seek refuge in His Mercy alone, and may Allah (swt) protect us from any evil or harm.

As-salaam alaikum! (May Allah bless you) Islam is indeed the most beautiful religion there can be. It gives you responsibilities, humbleness, takes away that horrendous ego that limits us from submitting to God and so much more.

However, my journey to Islam has been one that took longer than what I would have wanted it to. Looking back, I truly wish I had taken advantage of so many opportunities to change my life and become Muslim. However, Allah (swt) knows why we become Muslim and why those non-believers turn away from Islam.

Why did I prolong my Shahada (declaring that you are a Muslim) so much? Despite the fact that my aqeedah (knowledge) was growing, I lacked salaah (practicing Islam by praying). I felt Muslim for a long time before I finally took my Shahada under the eyes of Allah.

Here are the reasons as to why I didn’t become a Muslim immediately after knowing about Islam.

Fearing the unknown. 

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Prior to learning and researching up on Islam, I knew nothing about the religion. I didn’t even know what a Muslim worshiped, what they believed in, or anything! (Looking back, I’ve learned so much in one year Subhanallah).

 Despite that most people associate Muslims with terrorism or any of these false claims, I never had this idea about Muslims Alhamdulillah. I didn’t even know that the Qur’an existed! Oh Mash’Allah that I became Muslim because Allah (swt) wanted me to become a believer.

When I was told about Islam, I didn’t want to read up on it. I was somewhat afraid of it. You see, when you don’t know about something, you will fear the unknown. Especially in religious matters.

Even after I researched into Islam, I didn’t want to read the Qur’an. I knew that some way or another, this religion would “sneak up” on me, grab me by the feet and throw me into its “cobweb”. And I didn’t want that at the time being. I was happily a Catholic, and didn’t want to explore unknown territory.

However, there was something that really caused curiosity in me. Why is that people don’t like Muslims? This I knew quite well: the media was always attacking Muslims. They were always saying how racist Muslims were, how terrorism was accepted and how these women had to be forced to cover their faces and body.

But, when I read about Islam it felt like such a peaceful and beautiful religion. “These Muslims!” I would think, “How they get on all fours and put their heads to the ground and worship God! I’d like to see those people at my church bow down that way to God! Never!” I would think, “Never, as long as there big fat egos are in the way.”

However, these thoughts were all kept to me, and I never discussed it with my family or my close friends. When I did bring it up, my friends were shocked and told me to stay away from those “terrorists”, to find God in some other Bible, like the Baptist Bible or another Christian sect. Just don’t go into that book! They would warn me, believing they were doing good.

I was “letting my religion down.”

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Another reason that made me turn back from becoming a Muslim was the feeling that I was turning down not only my religion, but also my identity, my community and my family. After several months of reading into the religion, I felt betrayed by my own community.

I would think to myself, Jesus wasn’t crucified? These saints we worship are all wrong? Why wasn’t this explained to me during Bible school? And most importantly, why hadn’t I realized all this before?

So I would put the book I was reading down and continue my pagan life.

However, I never truly stopped researching about Islam. It just made sense. No religion, not even Catholicism, had even made so much sense before. Worship one God. Period. No idols involved, no weird rituals, no intermediaries between me and God. It was like a breath of fresh air, from all this nonsense I was being fed at in church.

So I read about Islam, read about God, read about the Prophets, and about revert stories and the more I read about Islam, the more I wanted to become Muslim.

What would my friends think?

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As shameful as this might be to admit, I was in fact afraid of what my society would say. You see, we live in a world where the society decides what you can and cannot do. It tells you what to think, how to dress, what career you should pursue, how you should treat others, etc.

So becoming a Muslim meant going against – well – everything!

The way I was dressing was completely inadequate. The way I thought was poisoning my heart. I was in a stage in my life where wealth was the only concern I had for my future.

When I would sit down and read about God’s oneness and what our purpose in life was, it felt reassuring. I didn’t fear death anymore. I could stand up to the world and not fear being turned down. More than ever did I want to reject these disgusting and ridiculous people shown on the television and heard on the radio that brainwash adolescents into thinking this is how you will be happy – with money and cars and fame – and how you should be.

Islam is liberating. It’s not like anything you could ever imagine it to be. You find peace in it, and these worldly desires are nothing but – worldly desires!

However, at this moment I was more concerned about my family and friends than about what I really wanted. So I kept Islam closed and shut in my heart and continued living that life my society expected me to. Unfortunately, silencing my beliefs was rather more saddening than I thought it would be.

The hijab.

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One of the main reasons that stopped me from taking my Shahada and becoming a Muslim was this thing Muslim women wrap around their heads.

I didn’t really know that Muslim women had to wear this on a daily basis. In fact, when I read about it from a traveling website, I had read that it was a sign of respect to wear this when entering mosques. So I believed for quite a while that the hijab was only worn when entering mosques.

It wasn’t until several months later that I read about the hijab being something compulsory. When I read that it was mandatory, I began frantically looking for more information as to oppose this truth. I wanted an article to yell out to me, “Relax, it’s not mandatory. Muslim women don’t have to wear the hijab.”

But I never came through an article like this Alhamdulillah and it made me hesitate on my quest for the truth. Despite that this was a disappointment to hear, since my mother’s a hair stylist and I’ve been around the impression that women look beautiful with long, pretty hair, my search for the truth didn’t stop there.

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In fact, as I read about the hijab, it actually started to make sense. I read about how we live in a society where men are allowed to look at women however they want, and that we as women allow them to! And this is in fact the perfect description of my country. Costa Rica is a wonderful country, but unfortunately women grow up with this idea screwed into their head that you are a sex symbol. If you don’t look sexy and attractive and show as much skin as possible, no man will ever lay eyes on you. Because there will always be hotter and more attractive looking women around you, and you have to “beat” the competition.

What a loud of – erm, nonsense! It felt reassuring to know that if you cover and dress modestly, you are in charge of who looks at your body. And I loved the idea of only being attractive to my future husband insha’Allah. It sounded safe and comforting and, something a pious woman would do – someone who loves Allah and will not submit to Shaytaan.

So after many months of debating whether or not I should be against the hijab or not, I listened to the scholars of Islam and of course, the Qur’an foremost. I actually find the hijab beautiful and would love to see more women in my country cover up a bit more.

This is in itself a topic on its own, so I’ll cover more of it in the near future insha’Allah.

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En fin…

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So these are the reasons as to why I didn’t take my Shahada until almost a full year after my quest began.

I struggled with mainly the outer contexts of Islam, such as the society around me and their opinions, the hijab and dressing modestly and the church that has so much power in my country.

Mash’Allah Islam entered my heart and I never doubted it. Yes, you may go through the phases of wondering why eating pork is haram or why men should grow a beard, but these are all external points that are insignificant when it comes to what truly lies in your heart.

Remember that Islam is not just about obtaining knowledge (aqeedah). Why you may ask? Because the one that knew the most about Allah (swt) was, who? Shaytaan. But, he had no emaan (faith) and therefore his knowledge turned into satanic knowledge, which we still have nowadays in people.

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So Islam is not just about the “obtaining knowledge” part. Yes, we as Muslims MUST obtain knowledge. It’s not a decision. It’s mandatory to know our religion, to know what we say in Salaah, to know about other religions, to question this earthly life, etc. (This is what I love about Islam, there are no secrets in it and nothing is hidden from us Muslims Alhamdulillah!)

But there is also the emaan that we cannot ignore. Without it, our religion is not a religion. It’s just an empty belief.

Never underestimate the power of your Salaah. Praying is our relationship with Allah; directly, no intermediaries, no one looking, nothing. It’s just you and Allah (swt). Praise your Creator, thank Allah for the life you have, for the calamities and tests He has put in your life.

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And most truly Allah knows best.

Chao.

Video

Walking in the Light of the Quran – Mufti Menk

6 Apr

Beautiful lecture by Sheikh Mufti Menk this March 2, 2013 at Bradford University, England.

All praise be to Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

May Allah (subhana wa’tala) guide on the straight path, those whom believe in the unseen, perform regular prayer and give Zakat (because materialism has a lot of magnetism to unnecessary things).

Ameen.

How to Survive a Non-Muslim Country

3 Apr

As-salaam alaikum (May the peace and blessing of Allah be on you)

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 As you all may already know, I live in the wonderfully gorgeous tropical lands of Costa Rica. Living here is definitely not something you can ever get used to; the weather has a mind of its own, government issues will always prolong far too long than expected and evil-minded tourists will continue to overflow in our territory nonstop.

However, despite the urges to exploit the haram factors in my country, I’ve decided instead to post an article on how we as Muslims can practice our religion peacefully and adequately on non-Muslim territory.

First off, I’d like to say that what I’m referring to as “non-Muslim” is the country in which Islam is not the dominant religion.

What drew me into the religion is its universal message. The prophet Muhammad (salalahu alayhi wa’salaam: peace be upon him) came as the final messenger for ALL of mankind. As is mentioned in the Sacred Qur’an:

And We have sent you (O Muhammad SAW) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists) (21:107)

So as you can witness, there is no cultural or ethic tag on Islam. Islam is in fact a religion sent to all of us, whether we are Chinese, Indian, Pakistan, Norwegian, Costa Rican, Argentinean, Turkish, etc.

However, our society may not accept it. This is why it is futile for us to know how we can practice our religion and at the same time, be able to do it in a peaceful-like manner.

Pacience, patience, patience

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This is by far the best approach. Muslims are subconsciously taught to obey Allah (subhana wa’tala: Glorified and Exalted be He) over everything else. This requires patience from us, since Shaytaan is in every corner of our thoughts and actions. As we are already learning to seek patience in our own hearts, it won’t require you much strength to adapt it to your everyday life.

On a daily basis, I get tested on my patience. Living with Christians, it’s rather difficult to hear them when they will say things like “In the name of Jesus” or “the blood of Christ!” (usually they’ll say this out of surprise) and not overreact from it.

It’s even harder when they will debate you and try to defeat you in illogical manners. However, patience must always come before everything.

Nobody has ever become a Muslim by force. Islam is in the heart, and even though you may know that Islam is the right path, this won’t mean that everyone around you has the same opinion.

And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly. (12:103)

What also caught my attention of the religion was the peace and goodness in Muslims. This was something that made me, as a non-Muslim at the time, want to learn more about Islam.

So make the difference and be as patient as the prophet (saws) was.

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good. (28:54)

Obey Allah. Period.

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We have all been tempted to disobey our Lord. As a Catholic, I remember thinking about God almost – well, almost never actually. It’s hard to remember Allah (swt) when you are not obliged to on a daily basis. And thus, easier to fall into sin.

In non-Muslim countries, haram will be halal, and halal will be haram. Alcohol is permissible, pork is very common, partying and touching the opposite gender is quite normal and other things that are haram will be allowed in these countries as well.

Furthermore, your family and friends will have a huge influence on you. If you don’t go out with them at nights, they’ll start to push you into joining them. If your family realizes you’re Muslim, they will try to convince you to leave the religion.

But in the end, what only matters is to please Allah (swt). These desires, these people, they will never give us Jannah. Only our Lord (swt) will. So think before doing things, and ask yourself: Can I say Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before this, and Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah) after this action or thought?

If you can’t, then don’t do it. It will not please Allah (swt).

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. (33:36)

If Allah (swt) has ordered us through His messenger (saws) for us to pray 5 times a day, will you really try to contradict your Lord? Allah (swt) knows what is good for you, and we know not!

So remember that we as Muslims submit to Allah (swt) despite our circumstance. Thank Allah each and every day for making us Muslims and giving us the religion that will be the ONLY one accepted on the Day of Judgment to enter Paradise: to our original state. The Qur’an says:

Inna deena indalahil-Islam.”

Certainly, the only acceptable way which Allah will accept is Islam. (3:19)

And Allah knows best.

Chao 🙂