Wednesday, February 28, 2007

High school students bored, risk dropping out: survey

Wed Feb 28, 8:17 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - High school students in the United States say they are bored in class and many have considered dropping out, according to a new survey.

In the report conducted by Indiana University, 75 percent of the 81,000 students who participated said they were bored in class because the material wasn't interesting and 31 percent said they had no interaction with their teacher.

"I think what is happening is students are not being involved in interactive ways in the teaching and learning," Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, project director of the university's Center for Evaluation Policy, said in an interview.

Instead of providing lectures, Yazzie-Mintz said teachers should consider other methods of teaching such as discussion and debate and group projects.

Yazzie-Mintz said teaching style, rather than class size, is largely responsible for this problem.

"I think great teachers, and there are many of them across the country, have big classes and do a great job of interacting," he said.

The questionnaire, which included results from 110 public and private schools, also found that 22 percent of students said they have considered dropping out and half of the respondents said they have skipped school.

Students who miss school are far more likely to consider dropping out, said Yazzie-Mintz, adding the findings may suggest a reason for schools to reconsider how they handle discipline for students who skip.

"Given there is such a dropout problem across the country this data can help principals look at ways to address this problem," he said.

Yazzie-Mintz recommended school leaders take the opportunity to talk to students and find out why they're skipping as opposed to punishing them with suspensions or detentions.

Among the other findings, while 80 percent of students said doing homework was important, less than half reported doing an hour or less of it each week.

What can we as teachers, parents and members of society do about this?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pure Eloquence

A Remarkable Story!
by Anonymous

The undermentioned incident is narrated by Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak
(RA). He was a man of great learning and he lived in the era of the
Abbasids. This incident reflects the love and attachment with the Noble
Quran. It also Manifestates the comprehensiveness of the Noble Quran.

An elderly Arab lady was sitting at the trunk of a tree, on the way to
Haj. Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) happened to pass that way. He was
also heading for Baitullah, for Hajj, and to the Sacred tomb of the Holy
Prophet (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam). Seeing this lady very disturbed
and in a state of despair, (distressed) he spoke to her. The discussion
is recorded as follows:

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah

The lady: "The word from a merciful Lord is Peace" (Surah 36 Aayat 58).
She meant that the reply of salaam is from Allah, Most High, Himself.
She said further: "Those whom Allah sendeth astray, there is no guide
for them." (Surah 7 Aayat 186). She meant that she has lost her way.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Where are you coming from?

The lady: "Glorified be He who carried His servant by night from the
Musjid-e-Aqsa (invioble place of worship) to the Musjid-e-Haraam" (Far
distant place of worship) (Surah17 Aayat1). She meant that she had come
from Musjid-e-Aqsa.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): How long are you in this place?

The lady: "For three nights" (Surah 19 Aayat10).

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): What arrangements are made for your

The lady: "And who (Allah) feedeth me and watereth me" (Surah 26 Aayat
79). She meant that somehow or the other, her food is provided to her by

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Is there any water for Wudhu?

The lady: "And ye find not water, then go to high clean soil and (make
tayammum) rub your faces and hands." (therewith) (Surah 4 Aayat 43). She
meant that she makes tayammum, due to not finding water.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Here is some food. Partake of it.

The lady: "Strictly observe the fast till nightfall" (Surah 2 Aayat
187). She indicated that she is fasting.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): This is not the month of Ramadaan.

The lady: "And he who does good of his own accord (for him) lo! Allah is
responsive, aware". (Surah 2 Aayat158) meaning that I have observed an
optional (nafl) fast.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): It is permitted to break the fast
when in a journey.

The lady: "And that ye fast is better for you, if you did but know."
(Surah 2 Aayat 184)

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Speak like how I speak.

The lady: "He (man) uttereth no word but there is with him an observer
ready" (Surah 50 Aayat 18). She meant that since every word of a person
is observed and recorded, she is taking precaution by speaking only in
the words of the Holy Quran.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Which clan do you belong to?

The lady: "Follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge, lo! The
hearing and the sight and heart of each of these it will be asked"
(Surah 17 Aayat36). She meant those things that you have no knowledge
of, nor do they concern you, you are wasting your strength (senses) by
enquiring about them.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Forgive me. I have certainly made a

The lady: "Have no fear this day. May Allah forgive you" (Surah 12 Aayat

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Would you like to travel on my camel
and meet your caravan?

The lady: "And whatsoever good ye do Allah knoweth it" (Surah 2 Aayat
197). Meaning that if you will do this good deeds towards me, Allah will
recompense you for it.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Well, then you may mount it.
Saying this he made the camel to sit down.

The lady: "Tell the believing men (when confronted by women) to lower
their gaze". (Surah 24 Aayat 30). Hadhrat Abdullah understood and
(turned) looked away. While she was mounting, the camel jerked and her
clothes got estrangled in the saddle (dorsers) and she proclaimed:
"whatever of misfortune striketh you, it is what your hands have
earned." (Surah 42 Aayat 30). In other words she was drawing Hadhrat
Abdullah bin Mubarak's (RA) attention towards this mishap.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) understood and he tied the legs of the
camel and he straightened the straps of the saddle (or dorser). She
applauded him for his proficiency and capability by saying "And we made
Sulaiman to understand" (Surah 21 Aayat 79). When the journey was about
to begin, the lady recited the Aayats which are read when undertaking a
journey "Glorified be he who hath subdued these unto us, and we were not
capable (of subduing them). And lo, unto our Lord we are returning."
(Surah 43 Aayat 13).
Hadhrat Abdullh bin Mubarak (RA) held the bridle (or nose string) of the
camel. He began to hum the (Huddi) famous Arabic song for travelling,
and he started walking very fast.

The lady: "Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice" (Surah 31
Aayat 19). Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) understood. He began
walking slower and he lowered his voice.
The lady: "Recite of the Quran that which is easy for you." She meant
that instead of humming the Huddi, he should rather recite the Holy

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) began reciting the Holy Quran.

The lady became very pleased and said "but none remember (accept advice)
except men of understanding" (Surah 2 Aayat 269).

After reciting the Holy Quran for a while, Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak
(RA) asked (the lady if she had a husband) (if he was alive) "O Aunt,
have have you a husband? (meaning is he living)

The lady: "O you who believe, ask not of things which if they were made
known unto you, would trouble you" (Surah 5 Aayat 101). She meant that
no questions should be asked regarding this matter which indicated that
her husband has most probably passed away. Finally they (caught up) met
the caravan.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Do you have any son or relative
(friend) in this caravan who has connection (contact) with you?

The lady: "Wealth and children are an ornament of life of the world"
(Surah 18 Aayat 46). She meant that her sons were with this caravan and
he has provisions with him.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): What work are your sons doing for the
caravan? (Hadhrat Abdullah's object for asking was to make it easy for
him to recognise her son).

The lady: "And landmarks, and by the star they find a way" (Surah 16
Aayat 16). She meant that he is a guide for the caravan.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA): Can you tell me their name?

The lady: "Allah chose Ibrahim as (for) a friend" (Surah 4 Aayat 125).
And Allah spoke directly unto Moosa" (Surah 19 Aayat 12). By reciting
these Aayats the lady informed him that her sons names were Yahya,
Ibrahim and Moosa.

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) called out these names in the caravan
and immediately three young people came forward.

The lady: (addressing her children) "Now send one of you with this your
silver coin unto the city. And let him see what food is purest there and
bring you a supply thereof" (Sura 18 Aayat 19) In other words she
instructed them to feed Hadhrat Abdullah (RA).

When the food was brought, she told Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA):
"Eat and drink at ease for that which ye sent on before you in the past
days." (Surah 69 Aayat 24), and with this Aayat she recited another
Aayat, the object of which was to convey (show) her gratefulness to him
for his good conduct and courtesy. The Aayat was: "Is the reward of
goodness aught save goodness?" (Surah 55 Aayat 60).

Their conversation terminated on this Aayat. The lady's son informed
Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mubarak (RA) that his mother has been speaking in
this manner, i.e. using only the Aayats of the Holy Quran in her speech,
for the last forty years.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Absolutely sickening

Subhan'Allah. What next?

BBC News:
Room where rape and killing took place
The house in Mahmudiya where the rape and killings took place
A second US soldier's plea of guilty to the gang rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her and her family has been accepted by a judge.

Sgt Paul Cortez admitted four murders, rape and conspiracy to rape. His plea means he will avoid the death penalty.

The Reward For Good Husbands and Fathers

We always read about the virtues of good wives and mothers but hardly come across articles or Q&As that specifically speak about the virtues of good husbands and fathers. Mufti Abdurrahman sheds some light on the above. May Allah (swt) reward him and preserve him. Ameen

Assalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful

Allah says in the Glorious Qur'an:

"And live with [them] in a beautiful manner. If you are then displeased with them, [then know] perhaps you like something which Allah has created abundant goodness in it (al-Qur'an 4:19).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

"The believer with the most perfect faith is the one who has best character and the one who is kindest to his wife"
(Sahih Muslim).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

"The believer should not harbor hatred towards his wife. If he dislikes something in her, then surely he will be pleased with another quality in her"
(Sahih Muslim).

Shaykh Asharaf Ali Thanwi said, commenting on the above verse:

"Brothers! when Allah has ordained these rights for women, then who can change them."

If a man fails to fulfill these rights, he will be guilty of not upholding the rights of the creation. Man should ponder over how Allah has interceded on behalf of women in the above verse.

While there may be many reasons for being displeased with One's wife, the main reason is usually bad character; this becomes a source of grief for the husband.

Nevertheless, Allah has promised that even this bad character can become a means of attaining goodness for He is All-wise and capable of doing anything. For example, she could bear you children who become the means of your salvation come qiyamah. Just ponder over how clearly the rights of women are emphasized in the above Qur'anic verse.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

"The best of you is the one best to his wife. I am the best among you to his wife" (Tirmidhi, Darimi).

A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) relates that a desert Arab came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and remarked:

"Do you kiss your children, for we do not"" The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, "What can I do if Allah has taken mercy out of your heart""
(Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Anas (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

"Whoever brings up and nurtures two young girls until they reach maturity will appear on the Day of Judgment in a state that he and I will be like this (and he joined his fingers together)."
(Sahih Muslim)

It is easy to gauge from here how Islam has granted so many incentives upon actions necessary for the upkeep of society.

The Spiritual Care of One's Family

Furthermore, just as it is necessary and rewarding to see to the physical and monetary needs of One's family it is even more important and rewarding to see to their spiritual (ruhani) development.

Allah says in the Glorious Qur'an:

"O people of faith, save yourself and your families from the Hellfire."
(Al-Qur'an 66:6)

Likewise, the rewards for a women are also many if she interacts well with her husband.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said in a hadith narrated by Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with him):

"Any woman who dies with her husband pleased with her shall enter Paradise."
(Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said in a hadith narrated by Anas radhiyallahu anhu:

"If a women performs her five prayers, fasts the month of Ramadan, protects herself from immorality, and is obedient to her husband, she will enter into Paradise from any door she desires." (Hilya)

It is greatly rewarding to treat all the creation of Allah with gentleness and kindness. This reward (along with the responsibility) only increases when there is kinship and closeness. This makes the person into a complete believer, and he is rewarded in this life and the Hereafter.

Much of the above information was gleaned from Ashraf"s Advice on Marriage available from and the Mishkat al-Masabih, the great hadith collection by "Allama Tabrizi" in Arabic.

This is just a sample of what rich heritage we have been left by our pious predecessors. Other marriage books and relevant chapters in hadith works like the Riyad al-Salihin (translated) and the al-Adab al-Mufrad by Imam Bukhari (translated) can be consulted for more information.

Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf

Friday, February 23, 2007

Advanced geometry of Islamic art

Medieval Muslims made stunning math breakthrough

A study of medieval Islamic art has shown some of its geometric
patterns use principles established centuries later by modern

Researchers in the US have found 15th Century examples that use the
concept of quasicrystalline geometry. This indicates intuitive
understanding of complex mathematical formulae, even if the artisans
had not worked out the underlying theory, the study says. The
discovery is published in the journal Science.

The research shows an important breakthrough had occurred in Islamic
mathematics and design by 1200. "It's absolutely stunning," Harvard's
Peter Lu said in an interview. "They made tilings that reflect
mathematics that were so sophisticated that we didn't figure it out
until the last 20 or 30 years."

The Islamic designs echo quasicrystalline geometry in that both use
symmetrical polygonal shapes to create patterns that can be extended
indefinitely. Until now, the conventional view was that the
complicated star-and-polygon patterns of Islamic design were conceived
as zigzagging lines drafted using straightedge rulers and compasses.
"You can go through and see the evolution of increasing geometric
sophistication. So they start out with simple patterns, and they get
more complex," Mr Lu added.

He became interested in the subject while travelling in Uzbekistan,
where he noticed a 16th Century Islamic building with decagonal motif
tiling. Mr Lu, who designs physics experiments for the International
Space Station, was in the region in order to visit a space facility in
Turkmenistan. Islamic art traditionally uses a mixture of
calligraphy, geometric and floral designs because of a prohibition on
the portrayal of the human form.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Story from Reuters:

Medieval Islamic artisans developed a pattern-making process for designing ornate tiled surfaces that allowed them to produce sophisticated patterns not seen in the West until centuries later, a new study suggests. Many walls of medieval Islamic buildings have ornate geometric star-and-polygon, or “girih,” patterns, often overlaid with a zig-zagging network of lines. This undated picture shows an archway from the Darb-i Imam shrine, Isfahan, Iran ( built in 1453 ) with two overlapping girih patterns. REUTERS/handout/K. Dudley and M. Elliff.

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Medieval Islamic artisans developed a pattern-making process for designing ornate tiled surfaces that allowed them to produce sophisticated patterns not seen in the West until centuries later, a new study suggests. Many walls of medieval Islamic buildings have ornate geometric star-and-polygon, or “girih,” patterns, often overlaid with a zig-zagging network of lines. This undated picture shows an archway from the Darb-i Imam shrine, Isfahan, Iran (built in 1453 ) with two overlapping girih patterns. REUTERS/handout/K. Dudley and M. Elliff.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sargento Cheeses

Assalamualaykum wa Rahmatullah

For those of us who are cautious in regards to which cheeses we eat (due to the presence of animal derived ingredients, enzymes, rennet, etc) I was able to find out from the Sargento Cheese company (1-800-cheeses) that all of their cheeses use purely vegetable based or synthetic derivatives, except for the following four which do contain animal derived ingredients:

We should avoid these cheeses from Sargento:

1. Romano cheese
2. Provolone cheese
3. Assiago cheese (sp?)
4. Yarlsburg cheese (sp?)

May Allah (swt) increase us in Taqwa and Tawfiq. Ameen!


Letter to the Editor

A Masjid goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to Masjid.

"I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 Lectures. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the Imams are wasting theirs by giving Lectures at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher.

"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to Masjid for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

When you are DOWN to nothing... Allah is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank Allah for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!

-source unknown

A Muslim Woman with her Lord (Allah)

From the Book, An IDEAL MUSLIMAH!

The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah

- Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi.


She accepts the will and decree of Allah! The Muslim woman who is obedient to the command of her Lord naturally accepts His will and decree, because this is one of the greatest signs of faith, obedience, taqwa and righteousness in a person. So the Muslim woman who is guided by the teachings of Islam always accepts whatever befalls her in life, whether it is good or bad, because this attitude of acceptance is good for her in all cause this attitude of acceptance is good for her in all cases, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained: "How amazing is the affair of the Muslim! His affairs are all good. If he experiences ease, he is grateful, and that is good for him. If he experiences hardship, he faces it with patience and perseverance, and that is also good for him."

The Muslim woman is convinced that whatever befalls her in life could not have been avoided, and whatever does not befall her could not have been made to happen. Everything happens according to the will and decree of Allah (SWT), so her affairs are all good. If something good happens to her, she voices her praise to Allah (SWT), the Munificent Bestower, and she becomes one of those who are grateful, obedient and successful; if something bad happens to her, she faces it with patience and fortitude, so she becomes of those who are patient, redeemed and victorious. With this deep faith, the Muslim woman faces the upheavals and calamities of life with a calm soul that accepts the will and decree of Allah (SWT). She seeks His help with patience and prayer, and hoping for reward from Him. She voices her praise to Allah (SWT) for what He has willed and decreed, as al-Khansa' did on the day when she heard the news about her four sons and said: "Praise be to Allah (SWT) Who has honoured me by their martyrdom; I hope that Allah (SWT) will gather me with them under His Mercy."

She goes to the places where she usually prays, and seeks Allah's (SWT) help with prayer and patience, as Asma' bint `Umays used to do when disasters and tragedies stuck one after the other. She lost her first husband, Ja`far ibn Abi Talib (RAA), then she was stricken by the death of her second husband, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RAA), and of her son, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr (RAA). There are many other examples in history of Muslim woman who had faith, hoping for reward from Allah (SWT) and facing difficulties with patience and fortitude. Allah (SWT) will reward them greatly: ( Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!) (Qur'an 39:10)

She turns to Allah (SWT) in repentance The Muslim woman may find herself becoming neglectful and slipping from the Straight Path, so she may fall short in her practice of Islam in a way that does not befit the believing woman. But she will soon notice her error, seek forgiveness for her mistakes or shortcomings, and return to the protection of Allah (SWT): ( Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, Bring Allah to remembrance When lo! They see [aright]!) (Qur'an 7:201)

The heart that is filled with love and fear of Allah (SWT) will not be overcome by negligence. It is those who ignore Allah's (SWT) commands and guidance who will be led astray. The heart of the sincere Muslim woman is ever eager to repent and seek forgiveness, and rejoices in obedience, guidance and the pleasure of Allah (SWT).

Become Like Flexible Water

Become Like Flexible Water

The following incident took place last year when I was travelling with an elderly Muslim brother. We call him "Brother Wali". We met a Muslim family and the family told brother Wali to give them some advice. Here is what brother Wali told them: A Muslim is like water. Water is so flexible that where ever you place it, it takes the shape of that object. For example, if you put some water in a glass, it takes the shape of the glass. If you run the water through a tangled hose, it will take the shape of that also. The same way, a Muslim should be flexible to the orders of Allah. He should fit into whatever Allah wants. If we put an iron into the glass, then either the glass will break or the iron will break. The same way, if we are not flexible to the orders of Allah and become hard like iron, then either we will break or we will break the orders of Allah.

A hadith states: The believers are very obedient (to Allah), gentle, and kind, like an obedient camel which when led follows and when made to sit, even though on a rock, does so obediently. (Tirmidhi)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Allah knows best!

A story is told about a certain King in Africa who had a close friend that he grew up with. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) by remarking, "This is good, Allah Almighty knows best"

One day the King and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the King. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the King fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is good! Allah Almighty knows best." To which the King replied, "No, this is NOT good!" and ordered his soldiers to put his friend into jail.

About a year later, the King was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured the King and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake.

As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the King was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So after untying the King, they chased him out of the village. When the King reached his palace, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.

"You were right" the King said, "It was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No," his friend replied, "this is good...Allah Almighty knows best"

"What do you mean, 'this is good'! How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"
The King's friend replied: "Remember that the Almighty knows best and if I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you on that hunting trip!"

As Muslims, we should never question the decision of Allah in anything, and we should bear our afflictions with patience. Allah says: "He knows what is before them and what is behind them: And to Allah go back all questions (for decision)" (Surah Al Hajj 22:76)

Do Not Judge Things or Events by its Immediate Outcome!

Almighty, the Most High is the All-Knowledgeable, the All-Knower. He chooses to show us things, but sometimes we are not shown the wisdom behind some things. When we are confronted by circumstances that are not very pleasing and we are quick to say: "This is not good..." but is it really? We might not know the purpose behind it. Thus, when we are faced with any situation, we should not be too quick to judge and always remember that this life is a test and there is nothing that happens for no reason.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gender Interaction On Campus

Answered by Shaykh Suhaib Webb

Gender relation questions are a constant on campus. What are the guidelines and limits for interaction between non-mahrams on campus?

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

The question of gender interaction on campus is one of great importance. Unfortunately, at least in many cases, it has been handled from one or two extremes. I remember visiting an MSA and finding the entire MSA was shut down because, at the first meeting a brother stood up, pointed at the sisters and said, "Why are they here? It is not allowable for you to be here!" On the other side of the coin I've heard of MSA's who conduct their meetings at Starbucks! Thus, while enjoying the latest frappuccino, Fatima and Zaid are sitting together with no respect for our sacred texts and principles. Insha'Allah, it is our hope to answer this question from the perspective of Islamic activism and dawa using a few very important verses from the Book of Allah Most High.

The Responsibility of Islamic Activism

Allah Most High says:

"The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and they establish worship and they pay the poor-due, and they obey Allah and His messenger."[1]

Imam Al-Tabari (may Allah be pleased with him) said, commenting on this verse, "They invite humanity toward faith in Allah and His Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him) and everything that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) was sent with by Allah." [2] The scholars have said that, because of the wording of this verse, it is clear that the responsibility of dawa and Islamic work falls upon both males and females.[3]

The Scope of Inter-Gender Relations:

In Sura Al-Qasas we find a very interesting example of inter-gender relations found in the story of Sayyiduna Musa (peace be upon him).

Allah Most High says:

"And when he went towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: "It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way." And when he arrived at the water of Madyan he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: "What is the matter with you?" They said: "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man." So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: "My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!" Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: "Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us."[4]

By taking a quick glance at these verses we can garner a number of lessons related to Islamic work, the personality of the Islamic caller and rules and adab for inter-gender relations:

1. The importance of d'ua. If we look at this story as large structure, we can see that supplication forms its foundation and roof. Thus, Prophet Musa began his actions with a du'a and completed it. For this reason the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Nothing is more honorable (most liked) before Allah Most High than Supplication."[5]

2. The great mercy and compassion of the Prophets. Prophet Musa felt compassion for the two women and went to assist them. It is important for the Islamic worker have mercy and concern for those around him. For that reason the poet Ahmed Shawqi wrote:

وإذا رحمتَ فأنتَ أمٌ, أو أبٌ هذان في الدنيا هما الرحماء

"And if you (Muhammad) implement mercy, then you are a mother or father. And they, in this life, are the exercisers of extreme mercy."[6]

3. The importance of obeying and serving one's parents: Prophet Shu'ayb's daughters not only served him in his old age, but obeyed him by carrying themselves with great fidelity and morality in his absence. The same can be said for the campus. Many of us live away from our parents on campus and it is important to respect them in their absence by being pious and righteous children. It is sad to see many university students drooling at the opportunity to escape to the campus environment just to disobey their parents. However, the truly righteous slaves of Allah obey their parents even in their absence. Of course, this obedience is in the good and not the evil.

4. It is well known that both of these women were eligible for marriage with Prophet Mosa. In fact, we know that later he married one of them. Thus, these verses are used to prove that interaction between non-marhams is permitted as long as they observe certain adab which will be explained shortly, inshallah.

5. Inter-gender interaction is an exception, not the rule. Meaning that such interaction should take place only under situations which are clear necessities. The proof is the statement, "Our father is a very old man." Meaning that Musa (peace be upon him) saw them under severe duress and spoke to them in an effort to remove their hardship, and their response was based on the necessity of getting water to drink. Thus, it can be said, that the call to Islam and its propagation fall under such a necessity however, such work must be done observing the following adab.

a. Remember that any encounter involves the eyes, tongue and limbs. However, the most important component for this encounter is the heart. Thus, before any gathering check your heart and make sure that it is with Allah Most High, full of love for Him and in submission to the sunna of the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him). A great du'a to say before such a gathering is the following supplication of the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him):

اللهم مقلب القلوب ثبّت قلبي على دينك

Allahumma muqallibul Qulub thabit qalbi 'ala deenek.

"O turner of the hearts! Establish my heart upon Your religion."

b. After one's heart has submitted and his whims have been crushed, it is logical the rest of his body will follow and this would entail:

· Lowering the gaze as everything has an entrance and one of the entrances to the heart is the glance.

· Avoid speech or actions which could be taken as flirting. I was told by one of my sheikhs that laughing and joking should be avoided between non-mahram couples. For that reason Allah described the daughter of Shu'ayb, when she approached Mosa, "Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly."

· Avoid being alone as Shaytan will be the third amongst you. Try your best to meet as a group as private meetings amongst a brother and sister who are non-mahram are strictly prohibited. In addition, during group meetings there should be a good amount of distance between brothers and sisters.

· Observe the correct Islamic dress code and remember to ask yourself an important question. "Am I making dawa to myself, or to Allah and the call of His beloved (may peace and blessings be upon him)?"

· There is no better solution than asking. Thus, it is important to refer any specific questions or issues to local scholars as they are your life source for survival in the campus jungle.

I ask Allah to bless our questioner, plant her feet firm upon his obedience and make her a great caller to Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him). I would like to express my gratitude to two of my early Sheikhs, Abu Mustafa of Senegal and Shaykh Abdul Jalil of San-Diego. Most of my humble attempt at an answer came from the questions I asked them while in my university days. May Allah bless them and continue to use them as a source of benefit to the shabab in the West.

In need of your prayers and happy Eid,

Suhaib D. Webb


[1]Qur'an 9/71

[2]Tafsir Al-Tabari, surah 9/71

[3]For and excellent Arabic reference on this refer to Sh. Faisal Malwais Darul Mara Fe Al-A'mal Al-Islamiy."

[4]Qur'ana 28/22-25

[5]Reported by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim graded it Sahih

[6]Al-Shawqiyat pg. 193

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sultans of Science

1000 years of knowledge rediscovered

Renowned female Scholar: Aminah Assilmi

Renowned female Scholar: Aminah Assilmi

Aminah is a renowned female scholar of Islam she travels around the United States to give lectures , her personal story has admired hundreds of individuals ,she is also President of International Union of Muslim Women , the organization that has many achievements under its belt.

"I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive." Aminah

It all started with a computer glitch.

She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast journalist. She was a girl with an unusual caliber, who excelled in school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and were competing with professionals and getting awards – all these while she was going to college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted into something opposite and changed her life completely around.

It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-register for a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation. She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no problem for her, but she was surprised to find that the computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students would be required to perform in front of others. She was a very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for it was too late

Failing the class was also not a choice, for she was receiving a scholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an ‘F’ would have jeopardized it.

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc. Assured by the teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the next class and was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs and “camel jockeys”. That was enough for her. She came back home and decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for her to be in the middle of Arabs. “There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!”

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has a reason for everything and that she should think about more before quitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about. When she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity.

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates. “I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts.” They still did not convert, and so she decided to do something else: “I decided to read their own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false Prophet”.

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which she was to continue for the next one and half years. She read the Qur’an fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the Qur’an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use to prove that Islam was a false religion.

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not escape the attention of her husband. “I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant.” She stopped drinking and eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another man, for “it was only for a man that a woman changes”. Ultimately, she was asked to leave, and she soon found herself living in a separate apartment

"When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam."

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a “man in a long white night gown with a red and white checkered table cloth on his head”. His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pajamas. She was further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she waited to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions and objections that she noted down while she was researching. “I will never forget his name”, she said of Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person. “He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid.” Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it within the proper context. “He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding.”

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had already been submitting to internally during the last one and half years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger.” It was May 21, 1977.

Conversion to Islam, or to any other religion for that matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate ones, a new Muslim usually face consequences. The convert may face isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the family faith. Sometimes, a convert may even face sever economic hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue to be well respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor to severe hardship especially during the first few years after the conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices, and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around with the beauty of what she found and believed in.

She lost most of her friends, for she was “no fun anymore”. Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it. Her “mental health expert” sister thought that she lost her mind. She attempted to put her in a mental health institution.

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her. “It is better that she be dead rather than suffering in the deepest of Hell”, he said.

She was now without friends and without family.

She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was denied her job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest sacrifice was yet to come.

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes. She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were visible to him and he suspected her of having affair with another man, for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what was happening. “There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.” Eventually he asked her to leave and she started living separately.

After she openly accepted Islam, it went worse. A divorce was now inevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully be given to her. But in a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes to make a decision.

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child - not for one day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite? “It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life”, she said in an interview. Those of us who are mothers and fathers, especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20 minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications. “I prayed like I had never done before … I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah.”

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband.

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this – a sacrifice that is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction?

“I left the court knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing” . She found comfort in the following verse of the Qur'an:

There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory). (Quran 2: 255)

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps there was a plan in Allah’s greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her religion.

Indeed Allah’s love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim.

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such changes in her. Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as the Qur’an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse from the Qur’an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a positive influence among her family members.

The first to become Muslim was her grand mother. She was over 100 years old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died. “The day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her “book” was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such a joy!”

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of Umar ibn Khattab. Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur’an that his sister was reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and accepted Islam.

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger. “Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?”, she asked again. She replied that if that is what she believed, then she was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said, “Well … OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet”.

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi’s step father) had the same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other was also a Muslim. Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most healthy and sound thing to do.

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim.

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentlemen and Assilimi had forgiven him long ago.

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that she could never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him “Barakah

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt) was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted Islam, and now by Allah’s mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many. “Friends who loved came out of nowhere”, she said. Allah’s blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes people are touched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counseling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that successfully lobbied for the “Eid Stamp” and had it approved by the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work. She is now working on making the Eid Day as a national holiday.

She has tremendous trust on Allah’s love and mercy and she never looses faith on Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago. Doctors said that it was in an advanced stage and that she would live for another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong. We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.” As a brilliant example of how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named Kareem Al-Misawi who died of cancer when he was in his 20’s:

"Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah’s love. He said: “Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book.” His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy."

All praise is due to Allah, she continues to live in good health. She now thinks that having cancer was the greatest blessing that she ever had.