Wednesday, December 19, 2007
“Every soul will taste of death, then to Us you will return” Quran, 29:57
“Say: The death from which you flee will surely overtake you, then you will be returned to Him who knows the unseen and the seen, and He will inform you of (the truth) of what you used to do” Quran, 62:08
We might live until we’re very old, but yet we don’t know how well we’ll be living then. If you live too long, you’ll be getting weaker and weaker. There is a limit; no matter how healthy you are, you will decline.
“It is Allah who created you in a state of weakness, then He gave you strength after weakness, then, after strength, He gave you weakness and a hoary head” Quran, 30:54
“He whom We grant long life to, We cause him to reverse in nature. Will they not understand!” Quran, 36:68
Eternity on this earth is not the aim of any wise person. This life is not even enough interesting to remain in it forever! If you live forever, you might just go insane! Death brings balance to our lives. Without it, Life will be out of balance.
Luckily, we still have the accounts of many of the teachings of Muhammad, thousands and thousands of his sayings and teachings. Once he was educating his followers, when he said: “A person’s (good) actions stop after death, except for three things”.
See, he is talking about the only eternity that a person can have on this earth. We are told in the Quran that we will be rewarded for all our good deeds, which makes sense. Muhammad wanted to point out that there are three ways for a person to keep adding to his “reward account” (the bank account of our actions, be it positive or negative!), even after this person has been buried.
Here are the three things that Muhammad mentioned:
1. When you have a righteous child who keeps praying for you after you’ve passed away.
Well, you need some knowledge to accomplish that! You need to know how to educate your children, to protect them from their own weaknesses, to give them strength, both physical and spiritual. You can only do your best, then your effort will remain after you in a living good deed of yours. For every prayer that your child will do for you, God will give you more of his gifts in your next life!
2. A “running charity”.
This means a charity that keeps producing results. You can think of a non-profit that was established by the good will and efforts of some kind, smart and determined persons. They die, but the fruit of their work doesn’t. Say we have a scientist who invented something beneficial to mankind. In the Islamic tradition, we know that every single time that a human being benefits from this invention, the one who created it is rewarded. Every time one single person is cured thanks to the works of any who wanted to help and cure people, this person is rewarded for the good fruits of his works. While buried under the ground, every day new rewards keep adding up in his account. This is how well God rewards those who worked to benefit others!
3. Knowledge that keeps benefiting people.
This can be part of the “running charity” mentioned above. But knowledge has a very important place in the teachings of Islam, so it had to be mentioned by itself. Someone wrote a book a thousand years ago to transfer his knowledge and improve people’s life. Well, you know it. When you read that old book, and you benefit from it, God will be rewarding the writer for what his words have done for you!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Muhammad said to his companions:
“Assist your brother Muslim, whether he be an oppressor or an oppressed. “But how shall we do it when he is an oppressor?! Inquired a companion. Muhammad replied, “Assisting an oppressor consists in forbidding and withholding him from oppression.”
Because if you really love your people, your country, your nation, you'd want the real good for them, and you'll protect them from their own stupidity and self-destruction. Like all we do, injustice always comes back.
Muhammad expressed the same meaning in other words:
“That person is not of us who invites others to aid him in oppression; and he is not of us who fights for his tribe in injustice; and he is not of us who dies in assisting his tribe in tyranny”
The expression: “not of us” simply means: not Muslim. I beg you, read this again: “he is not of us who fights for his tribe in injustice”. Need I say any more?
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It's very interesting how more and more people are turning to Islam, when in fact it is the religion that has the most bad press EVER. Muslims are not the greatest media people in our world today, and those who have the media power are not, in many cases, neutral or objective as far as Islam and Muslims. Why is the religion that is the most attacked, misrepresented, criticized...etc., is the fastest growing religion in the world?! I am not giving answers in this post. I am just posing an interesting question that should be considered!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Today I will not go into any details other than an artistic one. I love music. But if you go into any mosque (place of worship of Muslims) you will not find any musical instrument, and you will never find one in the near or the far future. In a mosque, we can get our music from the recitation of the Quran. See the video below as an example of the music of the Quran. The language of the Book is so unique and special, and it's very common among Muslims to see people who memorize the whole Quran by heart since a very young age. It is certainly the only book of its size that is known by heart by millions all over the world. This is explained in the Quran itself, where God says that He made it easy to be read and recited. Beauty makes things easier and more accessible. I myself see any truth as inseparable from being beautiful!
"And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?"
Sunday, October 7, 2007
The reason I am mentioning this issue today is a recent online experience that I had with the very common accusations that Islam is so used to get in this culture. I was reading a post by Donald Trump in Trump University blog (it's really good, check it out), and in one of the comments, a reader says things about how Muslims are involved in wars and killing Christians, etc. Frankly, I was irritated and decided to comment on the comment, and I am copying here what I have said. I was somewhat overwhelmed and wasn't sure how to give a brief but good answer. I just wrote what came to my mind, without planning. You can see the post written by Trump and the comments, including mine and the one I was replying to, here.
"So the question is who what envy as long that as far as Pakistan the christians are killed?"
I know this was not a post about religions. But reading the comment written by our friend Daniela and approved by the moderators of the blog made me think of commenting on her comment.
First, I did my best to understand the comment. English is not my first language and I cannot know if this is what caused the difficulty I had in understanding the comment. So hopefully I didn't misunderstand what Daniela exactly meant.
I am a Muslim and I know exactly why I have chosen to be Muslim (you can check out why in my blog dedicated to this subjject: http://whybemuslim.blogspot.com/).
Daniela is talking about the 1000 years of war in the Middle East Muslims have been part of. The question gives me the impression that our friend is implying that Muslims loves war. Then the second question is implying the same, it's talking about Christians being killed in Pakistan.
It can take a book to reply to these questions. I will try to use my "right to answer" as a Muslim in the most brief of ways.
I suggest that our friend be open minded to the truth and the truth only. We all have been raised up believing certain things about "the Others". We should read and learn and find out for ourselves how true is anything we believe in by listening to the media or whoever.
I suggest our friend read a translation of the Quran itself, the holy book of Muslims, which we have in the original language of the book, Arabic, and of which we have only ONE version, and see what it says about war and other values. The Quran states, for one example, that killing ONE SOUL is like killing all of humanity. We as Muslims are not allowed to go war UNLESS WE ARE BEING ATTACKED.
Now here is something else that can be a pleasant surprise. Muslims are ordered, if going to war, not to kill a woman, a child, an elderly, a person retired to worship God, no matter what religion they follow, and not even to destroy a tree or destroy a house. They are only allowed to kill those in direct war with them.
Muslims were killed, by thousands, in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Sometimes up to 8000 Muslims were killed at once by Christians. We, Muslims, never said that Christians killed us. We are ordered in the Quran never to accuse one person of what another person did, even if they belonged to the same group.
Muslims paved the way for the civilization that we are living today. All that is found in history books for whoever wants to read and learn. I will briefly mention that sciences like Algebra and Chemistry take their names from Arabic, they were born in the time of the Islamic civilization. The Islamic rule in Spain, which lasted 800 years, is known as the Golden Age for Jews and Christians. Arabs and Muslims were the first in history to invent hospitals, the first was established in Baghdad.
I can't really go on, it takes books. I would just like to remind Daniela and others who think that Muslims are the only terrorists that in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone more than a quarter of a million CIVILIANS were killed. This was not done by Muslims. In the dark ages of Europe, scientists were BURNT alive if they said something that the priests didn't approve!!!!
I would love that everyone will consider carefully what they believe about whose who are different from them, especially what they believe about Islam. They are keeping themselves from knowing and understanding a treasure.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Then at some point, I realized that this wasn't really great news. A simple and well known fact made its real appearance into my conciousness; I am Muslim because I was born so! I thought of what I'd be like by now, if I was born Christian or Jew, or follower of any other belief system. Truth is, Islam didn't seem illogical in itself to me, but I had no way of confirming if any other religion would seem the same to me if I was born into it. Sometimes I even wished that I was born any other than Muslim, or, even best, that I was born atheist! I thought this would have been a good way to start with a free mind. Problem is, even being born an atheist is being conditioned and raised up into a belief system, even if not a religion. It seemed that we are all destined to this conditioning, and it's on us to set our minds, our hearts and our souls free.
I am not sure when exactly this happened. No one event really caused me to think this way. I think it was all gradual, it was all going on in my mind, but still, I was ok being Muslim.
Then something happened. To tell this brief little event, I have to explain a few things about the Muslim society I lived in. I wasn't praying regularly as I mentioned earlier, however I was still going to the weekly collective prayer on Fridays. Going to the mosque for the Friday Prayer is not like going to church on Sundays in a western country, where people don't really look badly at those who don't. In my society in Egypt, it was really a bad thing being seen at home during the time of the Friday prayer, especially for a male ( females aren't being required to do this collective prayer in the mosque, and they can do it at home).
So one day, here I was, walking to the mosque one Friday. I wasn't really happy about going to the Friday collective prayer every week. You basically go and listen to a speech then perform the prayer. Preachers weren't always that brilliant, and they didn't, in most cases, make it really attractive to me to go listen to them every week. I was walking, feeling that I'd rather stay home. Then I suddenly realized that I was doing something that I don't really want, and more important, I wasn't doing it for God or for the religion, I was going because I was just following what is "seen" to be good in my society, and avoiding being looked at very badly if I didn't go. I thought, how stupid and how indign was what I was doing, even in the eyes of God, to do that just for people, when I knew I didn't really feel like doing it that day.
I took a quick decision then. Well, sometimes I would take really quick decision that are to change the course of my life. I even did it when I decided to immigrate to the United States, it was a real quick decision. However quick decision are not really quick. Their seeds have been slowly growing in our hearts and minds, even though it might only take a few moments for them to go above the ground and be seen in the world.
I turned around, and I went back home. And a new era of my life started, and a new self was forming. I decided to go the hard way, because I was fed up losing myself to others, to my society and my traditions. My little questions and realizations transformed into a firm decision and a radical change in the way I approach religion. I am still thankful to this until today. It set my mind free, and I feel that I came out of darkness into light. The darkness of blindly following, and the light of placing the Truth above anything else, even my own culture, family, society, and religion...
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
"Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, We believe, and not be tried?
And certainly We tried those before them, so Allah will certainly know those who are true and He will certainly know the liars."
This verse was one of the first, if not actually the first to draw my attention to how the message of Islam approves my own feelings and common sense about the whole religion thing. I could easily say to my fellow Muslims that I am just like them, I am a Muslim and a believer, this is all I needed to put everyone at ease, especially my parents, who were sad and upset thinking that I was no longer a believer. When having a debate about religion, my fellow Muslims would easily jump to the conclusion that I had gone astray, and they still think the same sometimes when I say something that is not so "familiar" to them, although in everything I said and say, I always thought to be closer to the true message of Islam than they believe.
It is easy to "say" that we believe. But I thought that it was far better to try to name my feelings as close to what they are as possible. Instead of saying that I am a believer in God, I would say that I would be stupid to say that there is no God. I know how limited our human knowledge is, and it's silly to decide that there is no God when we didn't even leave the planet Earth. I like those who say: "we don't know", or "we are not sure." They are being honest, and I think that they are closer to God than someone who says loud: "I BELIEVE IN GOD" out of a heart that still seeks refuge in a lie, gets scared from a fellow human being, thinks that he is really in control of everything or feels deeply depressed for missing a pleasure or enduring a difficulty ("and despair not of the Spirit of Allah; surely none despairs of Allah's mercy except the unbelieving people" Joseph, verse 87).
The first step that would allow us to be accepted by God is honesty and true words. Whoever knows a little about God knows that He sees what's in our heart, and how insulting to God's knowledge is saying "We believe" while knowing we didn't exactly get there yet!
When this verse reached me, I felt assured that what God really cares about is for us to be honest with ourselves. And even after we really believe, here is what we are told in the Quran:
"O you who believe! why do you say that which you do not do?
It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do."
Chapter 61, Verse 3
"O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point; (the right word)
That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins."
Chapter 33, Verses 70-71
See how "saying" the right words results in God's help "doing" the right actions?!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I had the idea to create this new blog just a few days ago. I am not yet sure if creating a new blog for this specific subject is the best decision. I already have an Englisg blog, which I named "Egyptian Mind". After all, I can't think of myself as a "fluent" writer in English. I studied French in college, and all my English comes from my school years back in Egypt (not even language schools), then my readings once I found myself in the USA, where buying English books was the easiest of options. In this blog, I want to share my experience with religion. I am a Muslim born, but I seem to be closer to a Muslim convert in heart and in mind. When I was about 20 year-old, I had an experience and I made a decision, which led to completely renew my relationship with my religion. I will talk about that in this blog, and I will try to explore and share with others why I have chosen to revert to Islam and why I am still chosing to remain a Muslim. I am not teaching anything to anyone, I am sharing what I know and what I believe. It's a way of self-discovery. It's also a little bridge to non Muslims who want to understand Islam from an insider, from a regular Muslim who knows why he has chosen to be so.