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Yeah, the food was good, the stage was nice, and the couple’s outfits were spiffy; MashaAllah. With those formalities out of the way, I shall now attempt to reconcile my years of conventional wedding experiences, my recent spiritual awakening on the sacred institution of marriage, and my lack of experience (since I am still currently without a ring on my finger) to inshaAllah leave you with something meaningful for your reading pleasure (or displeasure).

I’ve been to plenty of weddings before, they used to be real fun when I was a kid primarily because it was a chance to see all of my friends and play in a hotel. For little Faizan, going up and down the elevator, knocking on random doors, and trying to take the little shampoo bottles from housekeeping carts was my idea of an amazing wedding. When I got a little older, the ideals of a wedding changed – it was all about the biryani and the sherwaani. It was my chance to attempt to look good (as feeble an attempt they were), to eat some really good food, and at the risk of ruining my reputation maybe to scope the scene if you know what I mean (yeah I know you did too). Now that Alhamdulillah I’ve gotten older (although not yet old) the shampoo bottles have become meaningless, the biryani tastes the same, and the scene… well it was never really all that anyways.

Weddings have always been the pinnacle of the parents’ career, and the beginning of the newlyweds’ career. It has been throughout history a cycle of rearing & educating of one generation after another. The wedding marks that passing of the torch of responsibility on to the younger generation. It is as much of a celebration of the conclusion of their duties of raising a child, as it is a celebration of the commencement of your duties of raising a child. All of their years of struggle are on this day highlighted and appreciated by not just them, and their children, but the entire community.

So at this past weekend’s wedding of two people whom I know and hold dear, I searched hard to find some meaning. I searched all throughout the wedding, in the buffet, on the stage, and even in the little pouches of candy. I didn’t find it anywhere, although I came pretty close with the Gulab Jamun. So without too much effort I gave up, concluding that there’s really nothing in these weddings for me.

The moment I stopped aimlessly directing my search , the things I was looking for slowly began to come to me. One by one I began to understand what had previously never breached that stubborn layer of ignorance around my brain. For years I had been told this but was never able to comprehend, much less get a taste of it. I guess you could say it was a “duh” moment for me, when the obvious – finally became obvious.

A marriage is much more than the fusion of two people or two families, but it is how the entire society is constructed and preserved. A family is the perfect model for micromanagement, and a marriage helps to maintain the broader vision and mission needed to understand the big picture. Allah says in Surah Hujurat, Ayah 13: O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” A marriage reminds us that we do not just exist in small units but are interconnected with common threads of kinship and interests.

A marriage constructs and preserves society because it provides clear avenues and paths in life. If marriage had not been ordained then our society would be in chaos. Just think about it, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. It provides goals for our life, and the means to attaining what we need: love, support, compassion, mercy, care, shelter, and the fulfillment of our desires.

To fuse two people together takes much energy. It takes energy in not just making two people compatible with each other and having them live together for the rest of their lives, but in creating from this marriage the various roles and responsibilities that arise. It takes much effort for one to become a husband or a wife, not just on paper, but to be able to exhibit mercy and compassion is not as easy as it may seem. It takes much effort for one to become a son or daughter to another set of parents, not just by name, but to fulfill their rights upon you the same way you do for your own. It takes much effort to become a parent, not just having a child, but to foster and nurture that child until they become righteous adults. It takes much effort to be a shepherd, as Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Each one of your is shepherd. And each one of you will be asked about your flock. A ruler also is a shepherd and he will be asked about his flock. And every is a shepherd to his family. And a woman is the custodian of her husband’s house and his children. Thus each one of you is shepherd, and each one will be asked about his flock.”

Another amazing thing about marriage and why it was ordained is because it preserves a person’s religion. Our beloved Rasoolullah (salAllahu alayhiwassalaam) said: “The whole world is a provision and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman.” What an amazing thing, that the entire world and everything in it is a rizq from Allah SWT and the greatest rizq to get is a pious woman, wether it be your mother, your wife, etc. Abu Bakr (RA) once asked Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) what was the best thing to be treasured and he replied: “The tongue in rememberance of Allah, the heart filled with thanks to Allah, and a pious wife who helps in virtous deeds.”

In Surah Furqan (Surah 25) Allah SWT speaks of the people who will be averted from Hell and their qualities. It is an amazing part of the Surah near the end (last 15 verses or so) that you shold definitely read when you have a chance. Allah says about them, “And those who say:” Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqoon (pious).” (25:74) Aameen!

The realities of our condition as humans beings and Muslims are becoming clear to me and now through this recent wedding so is the importance of marriage and what it does for a person (spiritually, emotionally, etc), a family, and society and so on. So Alhamdulillah a wedding is a reminder to all of this goodness and more, a reminder to those who are currently single and those who are already married. I shall conclude for now, perhaps i’ll resume with more details when I have the experience of my own inshaAllah.

written for a newspaper:

Once again the Muslim world is under the spotlight, this time in regards to Pope Benedict’s recent comments on Prophet Muhammad. He quoted a Byzantine emperor stating that Muhammad has brought nothing new to the world that wasn’t “evil and inhumane”. However, his comments are not unusual, as they fit into a centuries old stream of anti-Islamic rhetoric coming from those solely seeking to provoke a negative reaction from Muslims. In the midst of the “war on terror,” it was only a matter of time before religion became entangled on both sides of the front. It now seems that Islam is not only being pinned against democracy, but Christianity as well. This meditated agitation of Muslims seeks only to showcase Islam as a series of violent protests and riots.

Despite the worldwide condemnations and calls for apology of the Pope’s irresponsible comments, there has not been an answer to the question: HAS Muhammad brought anything new that wasn’t “evil and inhumane”? It is however one of the many questions that Muslims have been forced to answer in recent years.

To see the goodness and humanity in what Muhammad brought we need only to look at his words. In his final sermon, shortly before his death he addressed his followers, “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you […] Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers [… ] All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non­Arab nor a non­Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” These words may seem to belong in the era of the Civil Rights movement, but were uttered over 1400 years ago.

Muhammad left us a way of life that sought to return people to a state of virtue and righteousness. Islam was only a return to these ideals and not a beginning because it is a continuation of the same inherent message that Judaism and Christianity brought to the world.

If we review history we find that Muhammad used Islam’s doctrines of peace, brotherhood, and humanity to clear the darkness that had settled over pre-Islamic Arabia. In a time and place where new-born girls were buried alive for their lack of social value, Islam gave women the right to live, inherit wealth, and be equal members of society. Women’s rights, is a concept that has only recently taken hold internationally. Islam brought justice and peace to places of extreme corruption and lawlessness. The city of Madinah was on the brink of being destroyed by tribal warfare, when it’s leaders sought Muhammad and the humanity in his message to bring peace to the ravaged city. Not only did he bring stability but also he united in brotherhood tribes and factions that had previously fought each other for centuries. It is clear to see that Muhammad’s words and his actions embody the same ideals and principles that we all value here in the West.

There are no crimes unique to Islam, not even terrorism. To say that terrorism is rooted in the fundamental teaching of Islam is just as ridiculous as saying that child molestation is rooted in Catholicism. Which of course is not true. Islam does not hate freedom nor does it fight against it. All violence is reactionary, and it is impossible and irresponsible to take the events taking place in the world today out of their political and economic context. There is no sole reason for something happening, and there is no one catalyst of change. Instead of fanning the flames of hate and animosity, instead of working against promoting a peaceful world, we can all accept our responsibilities toward one another. The same responsibilities that have been enjoined on all people of faith, to respect, honor, and care each other.

There is a lot to learn from the history of Pakistan and India’s independence. It has many important lessons we can take into consideration in our present day situation here in the United States.Muslims had ruled the greater part of India from the 7th Century all the way up to the fall of the Mogul Empire in the 19th Century. During the British rule of India, Muslims lost a great deal of power and influence in the subcontinent. The legendary esteem and might of the Muslim empires in India was quickly demolished.

Muslims were at a critical point in the early 20th Century in India. Most Muslim leaders felt that Islam faced the threat of extinction in India due to the strengthening of Hindu nationalist groups. It was during this time when Hindi started to become the official language of India. Hindu nationalism flourished calling their struggle ‘a to return Hindu ideals and customs in India after hundreds of years of Muslim oppression.’

What put the Muslims in such a weakened state was not only their lack of unity or at least solidarity but how they reacted to pressure from the British and Hindu nationalist during the 100 years prior to Independence. Instead of struggling to maintain or improve their condition, most Muslims submitted to the fear of being socially ostracized. They gave up excelling in education, business, and politics because this might yield retribution. When the time came to decide the fate of Muslims in India, they had no leverage. This is why Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal, and the others saw a separate Muslim state as the only solution for Muslims to save them from extinction (at least in India).

Had Muslims continued to be successful in all areas, religious, economic, political, and social; and if they had maintained their influence in India who knows maybe India today could have been one of the largest Islamic countries.

In the United States we have a similar situation brought on by different circumstances. Muslims are at a pivotal point right now. With the majority of the country disliking Muslims, and in case you haven’t noticed there is some hostility here towards us. In fact there have been many calls to kick out Muslims from the US. Never would you here people saying to kick out Catholics, because of all the contributions they have made to society. There are so many Catholic hospitals all over the country that at least 20% of the population goes to one at least once in their life. If we haven’t contributed anything to society than we are of no value here. Now, I don’t mean to make it sound as if we need to please people. However, if we are expecting to be accepted and liked here, lets face it most of us are, then we should learn from the mistake of the Muslims in India. We should strive for excellence in every way. I’m not advocating assimilation, but active participation in society; leaving what is forbidden but enjoining fully in what is good.

Now going back to the problems the Muslims had prior to independence; the biggest thing that held them back was the disunity. Unity is a powerful concept that cannot work overnight. Even during the time of the Prophet SAW unity among the Muslims took time. From my observation before there can be unity there must be solidarity. Before we can move as one, we must all be walking in the same direction. Once we realize and accept that we have common goals, responsibilities, and purpose then we are headed in the same direction. When we can start to solidify on these ideas of commonality, then we can more easily forgo our rights and our desires for the sake of the group. Unity almost seems like an abstract concept that is almost utopian. I think that comes from our misunderstanding of what unity is. It’s not so much being the same people entirely or even achieving synthesis in a group, but just being able to work together for a common cause. And even unity doesn’t mean freedom from problems, just the ability to solve them together.

Virginia Senator George Allen, a potential 2008 Republican Presidential candidate, called out an Indian student at one of his campaign rallies on the Kentucky border of Virginia. Allen reffered to the student as “Macaca,” which according to Webster’s means “a genus of Old World monkeys including the rhesus monkey (M. mulatta) and other macaques.” He also said, “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia”

It’s pretty sad if you ask me, just goes to show Allen’s arrogance. Being a Virginian, I really hope this sets his campaign back. By the way his opponent is Jim Webb.

So it seems stress is no longer reserved for corporate drones or single-moms, at least thats what a new report in The Journal of Muslim Mental Health tells us. Yea, that’s what I said too, now they have a journal to publish any scientific evidence that we are crazy. Apprently 9/11 shook the imbalance of stress in America, allowing more people, including the Muslims, to enjoy this fundamental part of Americal life. The reason? Well, it seems to stem from the little known fact that most Americans hate or at least fear us. To be honest, I just can’t grasp how my shaved head and fist-long beard would intimidate somebody. Jerry curls and a fu man shu, now that’s scary combination.

Muslims really seem to be afraid of discrimination whether it’s at work, school, or Gap. They have good reason, a recent poll stated that more than 31% of Americans felt prejudice against Muslims (the same amount said we should carry ID cards) and 22% said they wouldn’t want Muslim neighbors. I bet you anything they interviewed my neighbors for that poll, who ironically are Muslim too.

So now imagine this scenario: you walk into the Gap, looking for a pair of faded jeans, and the 3 guys at the counter stare at you funny. That means that at least one of them hates you because your Muslim, the other two are gay so just try not to give any mixed signals. Either way your destined for bad service. The way I see it, it’s just our turn to be the victims of American society’s indiscriminatory hate. It happened to the Blacks in the South until recently, it happened to Chinese on the West coast, and to Jews in the Northeast. It was only a matter of time.

Now all joking aside anxiety is really taking a toll on us American Muslims. The USA Today reported on this recent study saying, “Muslims, who made up 70% of the study’s participants, had poorer mental health than Christians.” Can you believe it? And an even more shocking conclusion, “[…] Arab-Americans, they had much worse mental health than Americans overall.” Another scare tactic, watch out for the mentally-imbalanced American Muslim; just when we thought we were in the clear.

I think the remedy for this problem is fairly simple. We need to take it easy on our self. We have it hard as it is, just trying maintain as a Muslim is difficult. If despite being in a environment that isn’t exactly Shari’ah Compliant, we are still able to hold on to our deen, then that is something to be thankful of. The world’s going to be full of “playa-hataz.” As humans we tend to hate what we can’t understand. As long as there is this ignorance amongst the general public, discrimination is going to exist. If we think we have it bad, just remember how bad the Prophet (peace be upon him) had it when he went to Ta’if.

There is a comforting fact however, and that is that more and more Americans are embracing Islam, despite what may be said about the pre-exisiting Muslims here. More and more Americans are realizing that Islam is not what they see on CNN but something that can bring peace not only to hearts, but societies as well. If our goal in this country is for da’wah, then we should realize that we are still in good shape and not let anything phase us. If we’re just here to benefit from the value of the American dollar, then don’t feel bad if they don’t hire you because your name is Mohammad. So before you start poppin Prozac, just remember our purpose here; and if that doesn’t help just remind yourself of the struggles the Prophet (peace be upon him) went through to spread Islam.

By the way, I’m going to bill you for this counseling session.

This is adapted from my notes from a short talk I did at a graduation party, I apologize if they are kinda rough.

“In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah”, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not!” (they suggest), “Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), the which ye were promised!

“We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall ye have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall ye have all that ye ask for!-

“A hospitable gift from one Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!”

“Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness, and says, “I am of those who bow in Islam”? ” (Surah Fussilat, Ayahs 30-33)

In this world if we examine the most successful people by whatever standard, whether they are millionaires or CEOs; Professional Athletes or president’s, you will find in them one common trait, One thing that they share. And that is that these people are goal-oriented. They have a set goal, and they strive hard to achieve that goal and do not let anybody stand in the way. They set up their life around them so that everything they do is bringing them closer to that goal. We can take the example of a that goal we are all familiar… if there is someone who wants to be a doctor then they set up the next 6-7 years of their life in such a way that at the end they will be a doctor. They get into a good college, work hard to maintain a good gpa, study hard for the MCATS, apply for medical schools… and so on. And InshaAllah at the end if they stay focused, and if they have ‘Istiqama Steadfastness they will be a doctor. Read More »

So I’m sure many of you have seen the video of that cute Italian kid reciting Qur’an, well I got something to match that.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 3 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve determined Earth’s gravity changed as a result of the giant 2004 Sumatran earthquake.

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8:2 For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a
tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find
their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord;

17:44 The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare
His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet ye
understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear,
Most Forgiving

41. O ye who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often;
42. And glorify Him morning and evening.
43. He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may
bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full
of Mercy to the Believers.
44. Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be “Peace!”; and He
has prepared for them a generous Reward.
Read More »

There is no excuse for any sort of hate crime no matter who commits it. What happened at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle was a tragedy. However, I think it should be noted for the AM radio talk show hosts (ie. Glen Beck) and other purported experts on “Islam” who had a fanfare with this that the shooter was in fact, NOT a Muslim.

Shooting suspect was baptized Christian
Just part of the enigma he proved himself to friends
Seattle Public Inquirer

RICHLAND — Those who knew Naveed Haq said Saturday that to them he was an enigma, a puzzle that they wish they could have solved before his deadly rampage in a Seattle Jewish center.

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