Thursday, July 2, 2009

Learn what evil is

ONE of the aspects of seeking Islamic knowledge is learning what evil is to avoid falling into it. Hudayfah Bin Al-Yaman (may Allah be pleased with him) said that while other companions would ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) about good deeds, he would ask about evil so he could stay away from it. Islamic scholars have devoted several books on topics like Shirk – the greatest sin, Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance), refutation of deviant sects and more for this purpose.

Sheikh Saleh Al-Fowzan mentions in his book Explanation of the Days of Ignorance the purpose of this study:“So we mention and study them for the sake of knowing what they are in order to avoid them and beware of them. A poet said:“I learned evil, not for the sake of evil, but in order to avoid it, And whoever is not aware of evil, will fall into it.”

This is one perspective. And from a second perspective, if you become aware of the aspects of the Days of Ignorance, you will then become aware of the great virtue of Islam, as the poet said:“The beauty of a thing is made apparent by its opposite.And it is through its opposite that things become clear.”

Umar Bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “It is imminent that the handhold of Islam will be destroyed piece by piece. This will be when one is raised in Islam while not being aware about Jaahiliyyah.” – SG

Benefits Blog: Rich, famous and influential Muslims

DURING a vacation in Marrakesh, Morocco, Steven Demetre Georgiou aka ‘Cat’ Stevens was haunted by the sound of the Athan (the Muslim call to prayer) that rang out at random times of the day. Intrigued, he asked someone about the strange call and was told that it was ‘’music for God.”

Years later, Yusuf Islam recalls that trip and remembers thinking, ‘’Music for God? I’d never heard that before – I’d heard of music for money, music for fame, music for personal power, but music for God!”

A series of incidents fueled his quest for faith further – while recovering from a bout of tuberculosis during his heydays as a pop star, he began to question aspects of his life and spirituality. He later recounted, “(t)o go from the show business environment and find you are in hospital, getting injections day in and day out, and people around you are dying, it certainly changes your perspective. I got down to thinking about myself. It seemed almost as if I had my eyes shut.”He experimented with some of the more esoteric elements of spirituality in an effort to find peace of mind, until he was given a copy of the Qur’an as a birthday gift by his (non-Muslim) brother – a souvenir from a trip to Jerusalem.

In an interview later, Yusuf recalled reading the Qur’an and strongly identifying with the story of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), which is called “the best of stories” in the Qur’an, and talks about “a man bought and sold in the market place” – which is how Yusuf felt in the music business.

When he accepted Islam in 1977, he was content: he said he had found inner peace, answers to the questions that had troubled him, and “the spiritual home I’d been seeking for most of my life.” For more go here.

Like pearls on a broken string

THERE was heavy uncomfortable silence in the room. Offering condolences is never easy. I sat quietly with my gaze fixed on the carpet motif. In front of me was the mother of the deceased – a 26-year-old only son. She was a woman who is memorizing the Qur’an and had so far preserved one-third of the Book in her memory. I wanted (and hoped) to see the impact of this Qur’an in her response to her loss. And, as expected, Masha Allah, she was a picture of composure and patience.

I couldn’t offer any solace. No words seemed suitable enough to encompass the magnitude of her loss or the gravity of her pain. I imagined what she must be going through and tears trickled down my cheeks. I tried to wipe them discreetly but, perhaps, was unsuccessful. She passed me the tissue box on the table. No, this isn’t right! I’m supposed to comfort her. Not the other way round. I disliked the fact that I had no control over my emotions. Had to do something to stop the tears. I took a deep breath and forced my mind to think of something different and totally unrelated. I wondered at the traffic noise that was occasionally filtering in through the open balcony. Alhamdullilah, I found poise again.

She mentioned about the righteousness of her son. She described how happy he was with his newly-married status, his prestigious job as a pilot of an international airlines, his various humanitarian projects. He seemed to be the golden boy of their large extended family. He was loved by all. Yet, at the peak of his health and life, he died suddenly of a heart attack. She reminded us, and herself of how we are constantly making long elaborate plans and how Allah is making different plans for us. Allah’s plans prevail.

On my drive back that night, death, naturally, was on my mind. Yes, we know we’ll die one day, but we really don’t think of ‘that day’ being anywhere around the corner. ‘We aren’t old yet,’ whispers the soul to fool us. But when we witness the passing away of a person our age (or younger), that foolish supposition gets a good earth-shaking jolt. For more read here.

The abaya shines on a Parisian catwalk

AHEAD of the Paris couture shows, top designers have joined a tricky exercise to glam up one of the world’s most traditional pieces, the abaya - the long black overgarment worn by millions of Arab women.

Unveiled the same week that French President Nicolas Sarkozy unleashed a storm across the Arab world for criticising the head-to-toe burka for women, the score of just-completed jazzed-up designer abayas are to be offered to the Saudi royal family by Saks Fifth Avenue of Riyadh and Jeddah. The presentation of the madeover abayas, held this week at the luxury George V hotel owned by a Saudi prince, seemed just another catwalk show in the world’s fashion capital, but within minutes morphed as a scene out of the Arabian Nights.

To music and amid a cloud of smoke, a mighty grey Arabian horse pranced into the ornate underground reception hall mounted by a Russian red-head riding side-saddle and clad in a rhinestone and sequinned shawl designed by John Galliano for the Saks collection. Following the horse came a score of models parading the abayas, each of them black but each very different. Other couturiers taking part in the scheme include French houses Nina Ricci and Jean Claude Jitrois, Italy’s Blumarine and Alberta Feretti, Australian Martin Grant and US designer Caroline Herrera. For more read here.