Archive for October, 2004

How to increase your faith

October 20, 2004
How to increase your faith


Causes Of Increase In Iman And Our Shortcomings
Shaykh `Aa’id Abdullah al-Qarnee
From “Especially for the Youth”

Causes of Increase in Iman

1. Praying to your Lord, Glorified and Exalted, in secret, supplicating a lot to Him, hoping in His reward, and engaging in much remembrance of Him.

2. Contemplating His Book, for nothing helps the recovery of the heart except the Book of Allah Mighty and Sublime. There are many youth who busy themselves even with sciences of the Shari`ah at the expense of reciting the Qur’an until their hearts eventually harden. So if this happens with acts of obedience, what about one who occupies his heart with sins?
3. Regularly performing your obligatory prayers in congregation, for Allah guaranteed the one who guards his obligatory prayers in congregation that he will neither abandon him, nor humiliate him, and that He will guard him in this world and the next.
4. Regularly performing as-sunan ar-rawatib (acts of Sunnah that were stressed and regularly performed by the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), and doing plenty of them, for whenever you prostrate to Allah with a prostration, He raises your level.
5. Accompanying and loving the righteous. “The person is with one he loves.” [Al-Bukhari] “Do not befriend except a believer, and let no one eat your food except a taqiyy (a pious, God-fearing person).” [Hasan, related by Ahmad, At-Tayalisi, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and others]
6. Knowing that Allah al-Wahid al-Ahad watches over us, and knowing that He is with you: “Does He who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?” [al-Mulk (67):14] Knowing also that He knows what you hide and what you make apparent: “Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is no private conversation of three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them [in knowledge] wherever they are. Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing.” [Al-Mujadilah (58):7]
How to keep account of our shortcomings in Iman
1. Taking oneself to account as the Salaf used to do; they used take themselves to account in detail prior to sleep:
What did we put forth from good so that we thank Allah?
What did we do from evil so that we repent to Allah?
2. Seeking guidance and advice from the people of knowledge and callers to Allah.
3. Visiting graves, for it is a means of remembrance of the hereafter, and it guides a slave to the Straight Path.
4. Reading biographies of the Salaf. Exemplary biographies are those lived by the Sahaba, at-Tabi`een and imams, such as Ahmad, ash-Shai`i, Malik, ath-Thawri, al-Awza`i and many others.
5. Praying upon Allah in secret and supplicating to Him in the last third of the night.

Achieving Success Through Salah

October 19, 2004
Achieving Success Through Salah;action=display;num=1098125113;start=0#0

By: Imam Magid Bin Hammad Hagmagid with Sam Ross from Islamic Horizons

“Allah promises to take ten steps toward us if we take just one step to Him, so let us try to improve the quality of just one aspect of our worship in every prayer.

In our previous article we introduced the famous Qur’anic verse: “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (2:152) In this article, we hope to realize its fruits by exploring a potential wellspring of remembrance in our lives: salaat. Allah (subhanahu wa Ta’ala) commands in the Qur’an: “Establish prayer for My remembrance.” (20:14) Yet, unfortunately for many of us, our salaat is not as refreshing as we would like.

What can we do to improve the quality of our worship? A good place to being is with a short self-diagnostic. Take a moment to answer the questions below, reflecting on your own relationship with salat.

To what extent do you value your salaat? Is it one of the most important activities in your day? Is it one activity among many? Or, is it a burden, that you perform as time permits?

In Surah Al-Ankabut, Allah declares: “Prayer restrains from shameful and evil deeds.” To what extent does your prayer protect you from disobedience?

If you found your answers less than ideal to any of the questions above know that it is always possible to improve and that we have encouragement from Allah to this end. Allah states: “Those… who are steadfast in prayer…they are on true guidance from their Lord and it is they who will prosper.” (2:3-5)

In the remainder of this article we hope to explore some mental and physical aspects of prayer and discuss some ways we many improve them.

One reason many of us may fail to enjoy our prayer is that we are not sufficiently conscious of what it actually means. That is, we fail to internalize the reality of whom we stand before when we pray — Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, the Creator, the Provider, and the Judge.

Consider the following scenario. Suppose a letter arrived in the mail addressed to you from a great dignitary. He or she could be a statesman, an author, a star athlete, etc. Upon opening it you discover that he or she has personally invited you to be a guest of honor at his or her banquet. What would you do by way of preparation? Most of us would fuss about, donning our best wardrobe, anointing ourselves with oils and scents, all the while monitoring the hour, lest we be late. Yet when given the opportunity to stand before the greatest Dignitary of them all, Allah, many of us fail to exert a comparable effort, let alone one becoming unto Him! To fully appreciate prayer, we must endeavor to prepare ourselves for prayer by first recalling and responding to His attributes; humbling ourselves before His exalted stature; elating ourselves with His love and beneficence; and criticizing ourselves before His impending judgment. If we do this, we can enable our prayer from mere physical action to an interaction between the Divine and mankind.

In wudu, we should similarly try to become mindful of Allah. It is said that the face of Ali (Radhiallahu anhu) would change color when he performed wudu. When asked why, he explained that it was because he had become aware of before whom he stood. Does our disposition change when we perform wudu? One way we can seek to perform dhikr in wudu is to remember that our blessed Messenger (salla Allah alayhi wa sallam) said that when a person performs wudu he or she is purified of a sin. When we rinse our hands, let us watch as the sins we committed rinse off our hands and disappear down the drain. When we wash our mouths, let us feel the foul words we may have uttered flushed away; our eyes, the haram things we may have seen; our ears, the haram things we may seen; our ears, the haram things we heard; our heads, the thing we thought; our feet, the places we traveled – all the while making repentance to Allah. In this manner, we can complete our wudu feeling not only refreshed but also freed from the burdens of our disobedience.

Within prayer there are, also, several things we can do both physically and mentally to increase our success. Prior to praying, we must select a location free from distractions such as television, radio, telephone or computer.

Next, as we utter the takbir, let us absorb its words into our very marrow so that we may not only utter them verbally but also feel them physically. Some scholars have stated that it can even be an act of hypocrisy to say “Allahu Akbar” without conviction, for if Allah were truly the greatest we could not be distracted with other matters! Then, while standing, let us remember the future day upon which we shall again stand before Allah — the Day of Judgment — and harness this awareness in order to keep us focused. During the recitation of Surah Al-Fatiha, we should reflect upon its verses. Prophet Muhammad stated the we only receive reward for the portion of our prayers for which we are conscious. In prostration let us savor the moment of maximum humility during which we connect with all of creation, for “to Allah (also) prostrates whatever is in heavens and earth.” (13:15)

For those of us out of the practice of praying, we should reflect upon our intentions towards prayer. “Why don’t I pray?” “Did not Allah bring me life?” “Did He not create me, provide for me, and will He not judge me?” Allah warns in Surah Al-Qalam, that on the Day of Judgment those who did not pray in this life will try in vain to do so; “They shall be called upon to make prostration, but they shall not be able, their eyes will be cast down, ignominy will cover them; seeing that they had been summoned before to bow in adoration, while they were whole, (and had refused).” (68:42-43)

Islam is a way of life. Our frailties must not discourage us. Allah promises to take ten steps toward us if we take just one step to Him. Let us try to improve the quality of just one aspect of our worship in every prayer. In the box below you will find a checklist of aspects to work upon. If shaytan prevents us from improving in the first rakat, then try again in the second. If he succeeds in the second, then try again in the third. When we have mastered it, move on to another aspect. Eventually we can, insha’Allah, be among those praised in the Qur’an: “They prostrate themselves in adoration…they are in the ranks of the righteous.” (3:113)

Below is a checklist to help you improve the quality of your prayer:

Did I concentrate on washing away my sins during wudu?

Did I select a peaceful praying environment, free from distraction s (i.e. TV/radio/telephone/computer)?

Did I strive to become conscious of Allah’s majesty and beneficence prior to praying?

Did I feel the power of the words Allahu Akbar?

Did the quality of my prayer improve with each rakat?

Do I remember which verses I recited?

Do I feel better about myself after salaat than before?

What can I improve upon for next time?

true story: 003 – grab, grab, grab…..

October 13, 2004

Grab, grab, grab…..This is what the world is all about 😦

The prophet (saw) said something like: if a person grabs hold of a piece of land belonging to someone else, that piece of land will be made into a tauq (yoke) and put around the grabber’s neck, and he will have to go around with it.

There was a time when people had a sense of what is theirs, and what is not, and they were careful not to touch what did not belong to them, but alas, no more. Now people want to grab, grab, grab…..

This is a little story of how me, one weak and frail person, fought not just the high and mighty in the land but almost everyone else to restore some land rights to the common man. True story, of course.


I was reasonably happy.I had a government job, which paid me enough for a respectable living. Although the atmosphere at work was more of persecution, I had determined that this was the best place for me. I lived in rented accommodation with 4000 square feet covered area on a 500 sq. yard plot. The house was much larger than my needs, in an elite locality, where most people were educated officers. The area was clean; at the front there was no construction, so there was greenery around me. From the verandah on my house’s first floor the hills were visible, and they were hardly 2.5 km away. Any problems with utilities like electric or gas supply breakdowns, telephones, etc, were immediately attended to. My wife and I did not earn enough to live lavishly, not even enough to visit my mother on a yearly basis, but my life was comfortable. I had a new small car, bought on installments. I was married, and we had two kids. While my wife also worked, my mother-in-law also lived with us, and took care of the kids during the day until my wife returned home.

When there was load-shedding of electricity, I made an alternative 12-volt system for my kids, so while the rest of Pakistan suffered mosquito bites and heat, my children slept peacefully through electricity blackouts.

Then one day, after eight years of living in that rented accommodation, my landlord asked me to vacate the house.

“But why?” I asked, “you told me I can live in this house for the rest of my life”.

“You believed me!” the landlord exclaimed in disbelief.

What could I say? I speak the truth, and I mean what I say, and I expect others to be the same. Here was someone telling me he did not mean what he had said!

“But why, what have we done to incur your displeasure?” I asked again.

“Oh, you are a perfect tenant. I wouldn’t normally want you to leave but the market rent for this house is now double what you pay, and I know you are already paying more than you can afford. You cannot afford the rent”, came the reply.

He was right.

“Give me time”, I asked; and as he was a gentleman, he agreed.

So my wife and I went house hunting. I had been spoilt. I have always lived in clean localities, with large open spaces but with all municipal facilities. So I looked for similar accommodation in residential sectors that were newly being built, where the rents were likely to be lower.

Those experiences are also worth relating, but maybe some other time, insha’Allah. What I learnt was that these houses were also out of reach for me.

One day while worried about where to go, I passed by the chief of my organisation, and he asked what was wrong with me. So I explained that I was about to be evicted, and the rents had now gone too high in the localities where people like me would prefer to live.

“Why don’t you get a house of your own? You can get a loan from us. Bring me an application, and I will sanction your loan”, he said.

That was very kind of him, I thought. I immediately went to my office, wrote an application for a house-building loan, took it to the chief for sanctioning, and got it signed. That evening, my landlord came to ask about when was I going to vacate the house. I told him excitedly that a loan had been sanctioned to me, and I will buy a house and move. He didn’t respond with any happiness or excitement. Instead he asked, “how much money has been sanctioned to you?”

I told him the amount.

He shook his head; “You won’t be able to buy a reasonably sized plot even in the new sectors with this money, let alone a house.”

And then he told me to go check the market for plots/houses on sale. I did that for the next few days, and my heart sank.

My wife looked at me one evening, and said, “ask your father-in-law for a loan”.

That was a thought. Before my marriage, I had it conveyed to my father-in-law that from our side there was no demand for dowry. This was unusual, as generally in the settled areas of the Indo-Pak subcontinent, the bride’s side gives a lot of dowry to the bride, and that can include a car, a house, cash etc. which is of course made use of by the bridegroom.

Totally unIslamic, but a custom from the Hindus, and I had broken that custom so that my marriage would be more Islamic.

I was still hesitant, so my wife said, “Shall I ask?” I told my wife to go ahead.

She did and came back with the requirement that I submit a feasibility study and repayment schedules.

F-in-L had been the Finance Director of a large industrial cum commercial empire, and so I understood his requirement. All through his life he had dealt with feasibility studies and payment schedules! So I prepared and submitted the feasibility with a schedule of repayments. The loan was promptly sanctioned, 🙂 and the money transferred to my wife’s account.

Armed with this money, I went into the market to buy a house. There I discovered that I had to lower my expectations, and even then all the money I had been able to muster was somewhat short of the price, which was climbing literally every day. Then my neighbor, who was in the same boat as me, told me that with the same money we could buy a plot jointly, subdivide it, and build our houses on the subdivided plot.

The experiences of that will be related some other time, insha’Allah. Let us fast forward to the topic of this story.

This new sector where I built my house, was soon flooded with people with a lot of money. They were feudal lords, who do not pay taxes, instead collecting from the government, benefiting from every government scheme, and being at the forefront of all politics, democratic or otherwise. Or they were very highly placed bureaucrats, similarly benefiting from government schemes. The children of this elite have no respect for the law, and would fly their four-wheel drive Pajeros on the roads.

Normally, when you have housing schemes in the developed world, all facilities and amenities are in place before the owners are expected to take up residence. In the third world, generally facilities follow the residents. A sector for development is opened up, and there is a very poorly constructed narrow road. When the sector is nearly fully populated, and people press for facilities and if they are influential, those facilities are provided. Fortunately, in my sector, electricity and gas were available from the start and telephone followed shortly, and the roads were also paved properly, three years after I had moved in.

Even the President built a house in my area. He was the chief of a very large tribe.

At the side of the paved roads there is land which house owners are required to maintain, without restricting its public nature. However, I found that almost everyone had encroached upon this land, grabbing it upto the edge of the paved road, and erecting fences or even walls, thereby leaving the pedestrians no space to walk. This I saw happening all over the place, and could do nothing. Then one day the owner of the corner house being built at my street’s junction with the main road also put a fence around the land meant for pedestrians.

That was a serious traffic hazard. So I asked people if a vehicle breaks down where would the other vehicles go?

Or if there is need for a lot of vehicles to be parked in our street, where would these be parked?

Or if a pedestrian tries to save himself from a flying vehicle, how would he do it? In fact, while going for walks, three times I had nearly been run down by vehicles at that junction.

I discovered that there are laws and directions governing this land, and how the owners can make use of it to beautify the surroundings of their houses, without restricting the public’s right to use it.

I approached the offending gentleman, who simply refused to remove that encroachment, instead relating how he had been shortchanged by the system. If he had complaints against the system why was he punishing us, I asked. He did not consider this question worthy of reply.

I asked my neighbors on the street, and they agreed with my objection to that particular gentleman, but no more. They weren’t prepared to remove the encroachments they had themselves made, or make a representation against that particular encroachment, or even talk to the gentleman about the traffic hazard he had created.

I asked my colleagues and friends, and their responses were similar.

My family was upset with me for being so civics minded, and for making enemies in the neighbourhood. You are making it difficult for us to live here, my family told me. Why don’t you mind your own business, every one said?

But this was my business, I protested!

I went to the municipal authorities, and they agreed with me, yet expressed helplessness at this breach of the law. The high and mighty were doing it, and it would be wiser for me to join them, rather than make any protests. Many of their Directors were also doing the same.

One of my colleagues got angry with me: “First get the President to remove his encroachment, and then maybe I will listen to you”, he said. Great, I thought, everyone here thinks he is above even the President.

I wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper, and it was published. I mentioned this issue to the Executive Director of a think-tank, who told me I was wasting my time on small worries. I should be concentrating on changing the government. Apparently that is the issue this think tank specialised in. Change the government, and everything will be all right. They had struggled all their lives to make governments fall, and had succeeded umpteen times. Yet I could not see any improvement in the conditions of this nation. So, I did not agree with the approach of that think-tank. To the Executive Director, however, I was a friend who had helped him in the past, and he hoped to keep me interested in his own organisation, so he gave me some practical advice. He told me one letter wouldn’t do. There had to be many letters, and in many newspapers, for any notice to be taken.

When everyone else was opposed to any activism who would write letters in my support, I wondered?

Still I asked around for help, and got refusals. I then asked if I could use names and addresses, and fortunately, from those who weren’t owners themselves, but were resident tenants, that permission was granted. My friend in the think tank also provided me with a list of his supporters and sympathisers, whose permission to use their names for writing letters had already been obtained by his organisation.

So I wrote many letters from my relatives and friends to the newspapers, as much as twenty-five letters a day to five daily newspapers. Soon it looked as if the thinking population of this city was grossly upset with encroachments.

All this must have worried the municipal authorities. They eventually moved in the face of such a campaign. They first issued notices to house owners to do these themselves by a certain time. When there was no compliance, the authorities began to remove the encroachments from the city. Everyday I looked, and was happy with the results. Soon it would be my street’s turn. I waited with pleasure. Ramadan was coming, and the authorities were near my street, and then the work stopped.

I asked why, and they said they would renew their campaign after Ramadan.

Ramadan came and went, and I waited.

Eid-ud-duha came and went, and nothing happened.

I asked again, and was told yes, it would soon start. But how soon is soon? Eight months passed after Ramadan, and no activity.

I learnt that just the day before the encroachments were to be removed from my street, one of the employees of the authorities had been murdered in a commercial market while removing the encroachments, so the unions wouldn’t let the authorities begin their drive again, or the authorities wouldn’t do it themselves.

I was stuck with the encroachments on my street, and the rest of the city.

Then one day, in desperation, I wrote a letter to the Federal Ombudsman. I received a very courteous reply that my complaint had been registered, and had been allotted a complaint number, which I should use in future correspondence. Soon my complaint would be looked into.

After nearly a month, I received a letter again from the Ombudsman. Enclosed was a letter from the local municipal authorities. That letter explained that the authorities were alive to such violations, and had been taking steps. It pointed out how the authorities had started a campaign nearly a year ago, etc. etc. – basically singing laurels of the authorities.

It was a very standard sort of reply. I wrote back to the Ombudsman that the campaign had stopped in the middle, before it reached my street, whereas I was one of the earliest complainants, and I enclosed copies of newspapers cuttings with my letters on this subject.

The Ombudsman again sent my letter on to the authorities and intimated to me what he had done.

In due course, I received a letter again from the Ombudsman, with an enclosure, which was another letter from the municipal authority, detailing how civic that body was, and how alive it was to the needs of the residents, and it would be doing something about the issue.

I waited, and then asked for a time frame, and the letters flew back and forth through the good offices of the Ombudsman. This went on for another year, until I sat down and reviewed the entire correspondence, and got very angry.

So I wrote a very nice and courteous letter to the Ombudsman, asking him if he was supposed to act as a glorified post office, or was his function to see that the complaints of a citizen, if genuine, are attended to. Here, I pointed out, the authorities were taking us in a merry-go-round.

I think the sarcasm got him. Any way, the Ombudsman’s office called the municipal authorities and me to his court – he had the powers of a Federal Supreme Court Judge. I was a little apprehensive, because of the sarcastic language I had used. The authority sent an inexperienced deputy director to represent its case. The poor guy could offer no defense of his organisation’s procrastination, instead almost weeping at not having any authority himself. He propmptly got rebuked for his employers sins. He said he had no manpower to do the job. He was told by the Ombudsman to hire daily wage laborers and do the job. Or to hire a contractor and get it done to the complainant’s satisfaction. And to get it done within a fortnight, although it was hardly a day’s job. This extra time was being given to him as a grace, the Ombudsman added.

That gentleman whose fence was the straw that broke the camel’s back, noticed that I had reactivated my attempts to get the street cleared of encroachments. One day he came to my house and threatened me of dire consequences. I told him to go to the law, as what I was doing was trying to get his usurpation of public land redressed through the law. He said unmentionable things about the law, about the Ombudsman, etc. and threatened that he would abduct my family, mentioning that his tribe had just become famous for the notorious activities of some of its members in politics and bureaucracy. That was true, so I worried about it. I said the ayatul kursi, and asked Allah (swt) for help, putting my family in His care. Then I sought links in the law-enforcement department, and told them of this threat. I was told not to worry.

The gentleman received a visit from the said law-enforcing department. It must have been quite a visit :), for after that he became very subdued, and although he kept complaining about the removal of his encroachment, never issued any more threats, or even come to me.

The job was done, and reported to the Ombudsman who wrote to me to verify that it was satisfactory. I wrote back that it wasn’t, because the contractor had dumped the earth by another main road, which had become an eyesore. The authority received another rebuke, and that eyesore was also removed.


This is how a meek, frightened weak person had his city cleared of encroachments despite opposition from the President of the country down to his own family.

btw, the encroachments are coming back, and I don’t have the energy or strength for another campaign.

Anyone wants to renew or restart this campaign?


copyright ©

copyright ©

the story of prophet Yunus (as)

October 11, 2004
I relate this story, which may contain some details about the origin of which I am not sure. If you find something that disturbs you, please tell me.
We know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa, sent prophets (peace be upon them) to guide the human population to HIS deen (al-Islam). The Qur’an tells us of many such prophets, their people, & what happened to those people. In HIS book, Allah says that HE has exalted the names of these prophets, and HE says “salaam” on these prophets, sometimes by name, sometimes on all of them (e.g. see the 37th Surah: as-Saffat). And when you read what Allah has to say about HIS prophets, you cannot help but love them as well. I love reading about the prophets in the Qur’an. & Allah says that in paradise the residents will be addressed by Allah with “salaam”. [Surah Yaseen, Ayah 58]. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be told Salaam by Allah (swt)?
Yunus bin Matta was such a prophet sent to people of Nineveh (near present day Mosul in Northern Iraq). He is called Jonah in the Bible. Like many other non-believers before them, the people of Nineveh refused to recognize the prophet as such, & made fun of him and the message brought by him. So, after preaching for several decades, Yunus (as) complained to Allah that these people have hearts of stone, and do not listen, and they deserved Allah’s wrath. Allah told him to say to these people that Allah’s punishment will visit them after three days. They again made fun of him, so he got so annoyed that he left the town for the river Euphrates.

On the next day the people of Nineveh woke up and decided they would have fun with the “so-called prophet” as they called him. Well, they could not find him, so they came back. The day after that, again they looked for Yunus (as), & when they did not find him they were a little worried that maybe the prophet was right after all, & they may be punished. On the third day, the sky filled up with dark clouds, & they realized that the Allah’s wrath will be upon them after three days, as promised. Now they remembered Yunus (as) & how he used to admonish them, & that he was telling the truth and that a prophet never lies. So, they got real frightened, and went out to the desert with their wives and children and cattle and flocks. They separated the mothers from their children, and then they beseeched Allah and pleaded to Him, with the camels and their young groaning, the cows and their calves mooing, and the sheep and their lambs bleating, so Allah spared them from the punishment.

This is the only exception in the history of mankind that a punishment once seen by a people as coming to them, and as promised to them with a deadline, has been annulled by Allah.

Allah says: Was there any town that believed (after seeing the punishment), and its faith saved it except the people of Yunus. When they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while [Surah Yunus 10:98].

Yunus (as), meanwhile, went and traveled with some people on a ship, which was tossed about on the sea. The people were afraid that they would drown, so they cast lots to choose a man whom they would throw overboard. The lot fell to Yunus, but they refused to throw him overboard. This happened a second and a third time. Allah says:
(Then he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.) [37:141]
meaning the draw went against him, so Yunus stood up, removed his garment and cast himself into the sea. Then Allah sent from the Green (Mediterranean) Sea — a large fish (this could well be a whale) which cleaved the oceans until it came and swallowed Yunus when he threw himself into the sea. Allah inspired that large fish not to devour his flesh or break his bones, (as if HE said) Yunus is not food for you, rather your belly is a prison for him.

Yunus (as) had already realized that he had transgressed, & when he found himself in darkenss (in the belly of the fish, he cried out: “There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.”) [Surat Al-Anbiya’ (21:87)]
& then Allah says: (So `We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress.) meaning, `We brought him forth from the belly of the fish and from that darkness.’ (And thus We do deliver the believers.) [Surat Al-Anbiya’ (21: 88)].

So Yunus (as) was relieved of his prison, & the fish gurgled him on shore.
(And thus We do deliver the believers.) means: when they are in difficulty and they call upon Us and repent to Us, especially if they call upon Us with these words at the time of distress.
The leader of the prophets encouraged us to call upon Allah with these words. Imam Ahmed records this Hadeeth

the supplication of Dhun-Nun when he was in the belly of the fish:
(There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.)

No Muslim ever prays to his Lord with these words for anything, but He will answer his prayer.)”

This Hadeeth was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and by An-Nasa’i.
So, the dua of Yunus (as) is one of four duas that are in the Qur’an as well as in the Hadeeth.

Now for some questions:
Q1. why was the prophet Yunus (as) punished?
A1: He was punished because he, as prophet of Allah, should not have assumed that he should go, but should have waited for Allah to send him instructions to leave.

Q2. does anyone know how the people of Nineveh come to realize that the prophet Yunus (as) was right?
A2: They found their prophet missing, which was uncharacteristic. The prophet Yunus would start early & start calling people of Nineveh to repent & fear Allah, but this did not happen for two days, & on the third day the sky started showing signs of Allah’s wrath.

Q3. tell us the moral(s) of the story.
A3: The moral is that one should always keep an eye on one’s own faults. If one cannot figure out why a particular hard time is being had by one, one must always be sure that it is a punishment from Allah, & one must cry out the dua of Yunus (as), and ask Allah to forgive. & the leaders must take all living beings out in the open & really cry hard, & beseech Allah to remove HIS wrath.

idealism, leadership and education

October 4, 2004
First let me talk a little about idealism. Idealism is good, but at some stage one must be able to know what is wrong, to be able to identify the imperfection in ourselves and in those we trust that may lead to a trampling of other people’s rights, for only God is perfect. And when we know what we and are colleagues and those we employ are imperfect, we will put in place a watch to catch out any deviation before much damage is done.

It is here that I think Bush fails. He thinks he has a mission. That is good. People without missions do their jobs and retire. People with missions make that extra effort to make the world a better place.

But he blindly trusts his business friends, and he wants blind trust from everyone. I was struck by a discussion between Jazper and Wagar on IoL. Wagar says the Republicans are lax on business morality and Jazper says the Democrats are lax on sexual morality. Why can’t there be leaders who are big on both types of morality?

Now I will talk a little about the effects of this blind trust. Bear with me. It is to understand the world around us so we know what to do, that I am developing this argument.

As a result of this blind trust on Bush’s part, Halliburton/ Kellog/ Bechtel get juicy contracts. No one watches how the contractor executes these contracts. I have given you an example of the type of swindling that went with it. I think Wagar is right here.

As a result of this blind trust in one’s own people, the fundamental rights are suspended. Anyone anywhere can be seized and held incommunicado for an indefinite period. A special name is given to them – enemy combatants. A special place is built (actually there are several) where these “enemy combatants” are to be held, where no laws apply. The Attorney General assures the world that although they are not prisoners of war in the Geneva Convention sense, they will be treated as such. We hear otherwise from our sources. Lawyers for the Justice Department express their concern. Questions were asked. Allegations were made about torture. The attorney General dismissed these as propaganda. There is denial all around. Then what happens?

The abu Gharaib scandal breaks out. It transpires that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been complaining about these, and no action was taken. A female inmate’s letter finds circulation in the world, an internal report is ordered and finds the accusations true, including rape and murder. The media is told to hold off publication of photos. It is only when others plan on publication, that the media reluctantly releases thes photos, but it still holds back those of rape, for fear these will inflame the Arabs and the Muslims even further, and endanger American lives.

That is the only concern. American lives should not be endangered. Iraqi bodies are not to be counted.
So the world sees is that US is concerned only with itself.

Do you see now how mistrust of the US has multiplied.

The Supreme Court decides that those held in Guantamao and other places can now sue the government. We know now these prisoners were tortured.

What happened was that in their certainty that they were right, the President and his men helped create an atmosphere and a lawless environment where human beings of the wrong nationality could be dehumanized, tortured and raped and killed.

That is the danger of blind conviction in oneself and one’s cause.

The Americans in the Bible belt have such simple and blind faith in America, that almost 50% of the American population dismisses any accusation as propaganda, and takes the word of its media and its government about the “others” at face value.

Knowing that our leaders are human, that they may have selfish motivations, will keep us watching, and we will not be taken in by mere declarations that everything is being done according to the law and to morality.

We in the third world know that we live in an in perfect, even cruel, world. We know our leaders. We know they are corrupt and that they lie. We take their pronouncements with a grain of salt. And we do the same with the pronouncements of the West’s leaders.

Growing up is of course learning that one is not the centre of the universe. It is also learning that no human is that centre. God is. God put humans in charge here and put all resources of the universe at his disposal, giving him gifts such as reason, industry, empathy, etc.

What we make of it is our test on this earth.

and the accomplishments of civilisations past and present, are indeed in which God takes pride when He talks to angels about us humans.

Today, the advances in space technology, in medical care, in communications, etc. all have become possible because of universal education, rewards of taking risks, etc.

Karen asked:
“What can we do to begin to assure that all citizens of the world will have available to them all of the educational opportunities that God would want them to have?”

Education is not enough. Many educated people commit fraud, and even murder. And many uneducated ones are wonderful humans.

What is most important is internalization of certain values, of a common humanity, of loving and giving and caring, of standing up for justice, and of forgiving.

Education or knowledge by itself is not enough. There must be a mechanism of putting this knowledge into practice.

Incomplete knowledge should not be put into practice.

When do we know that there is enough knowledge for us to put it in practice?

There were the Thalidomide babies. Nuclear power has resulted in a colossal problem of disposal of nuclear waste. Use of CF refrigerants has resulted in a big hole in the Ozone layer. Burning of fossil fuels has improved our standard of living, but it has given rise to the greenhouse effect, endangering many people – many lands may go under water. And of course, the oil wars are for control of this commodity.

In every thing you can think of, excess or a large scale, causes an upset in the natural order of things that brings catastrophe imminent.

So, we must recognize limits on allowing certain human endeavors – business, yes, but under certain rules: no monopolies, no cartels for example, but associations to safeguard against undue persecution. Labor unions, yes for collective bargaining and protection against unfair dismissals etc, but watch against blackmailing employers. Build cities, yes for community identity and bringing together efficiency of services, but do not let them grow unwieldy.

What is the keyword here?


This is what Islam has taught us, but we Muslims have also got sidetracked and failed to internalise many things.

Why does that happen? Why do we forget some basic principles that previous generations had passed on as their collective wisdom?

It is because on the Day of Judgment we will stand alone to answer for our deeds. So we face tests here in this world.

This forgetting of wisdom and common humanity is also a test.

The Utopia we seek will not come by itself. Remember, Cain murdered his brother out of jealousy. We are all descended from Adam and Eve. The Jews and the Arabs are cousins. All the religions of the world teach that there is but One God.

Yet there continue to be wars and every human rights violation that one can think of.

A religion that taught love and turning the other cheek has been used in the Inquisition and colonisation. Religions that teach peace have been used to make wars. There have been many -isms that promised peace and prosperity on this Earth. Nationalism should have united people within one country towards bettering the lot of all people within that area. Instead it developed into a colonial mentality. Scientific socialism, or communism, was used to establish an empire run by a privileged bureaucracy. So, whatever the ideology, it can be used to persecute the “other”, and where the other does not exist, to create it within one’s own brothers and sisters. It comes from the certainty of being right, of being better, of being superior to the others who can then be dehumanized.

The Socialists brought many things under the government so that food, shelter, medical care and education became the state’s responsibility. It helped. Many people, who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get education, were able to do so. Many countries introduced continuing education, projects that put education available in spare time, so that it became available to those who had to work full-time.

But socialism killed off individual initiative, and an individual’s responsibility.

Capitalism worships money. It rewards entrepreneurship; it rewards business acumen; but many bright ones are unable to develop their potential to the most because of lack of money or opportunities.

Education has become a business in many parts of the world.

What we can do is to ensure we do not succumb to rhetoric.

We do not get misled. We remember and remind others of our humble origins. We do not seek positions of power but seek help from the Almighty, and we open our actions to scrutiny, so that our mistakes are pointed out, and we should learn to accept and correct our mistakes.

The Utopia will only come with the Messiah. We call him the Mehdi. Jesus (as) will also come back. And then evil will be eradicated for a while from this Earth.

But there will be lasting peace only in Heaven.