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Become a Morning Muslim!

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People ask me :  What is the hardest change you had to make when you became Muslim?

 

Was it not eating pork?

Nope.

Was it fulfilling the dress guidelines and covering in public?

Not at all.

Was it praying?

Yes. And no.

 

I had no issue performing my ritual devotions during the day when I was awake….

But the hardest thing I had to change about myself after accepting Islam was:

Waking up for dawn as that’s the first daily ritual devotion time.

I used to LOVE to sleep. LOVE.

 

Now, I am awake before my children each day, getting things done, especially since I learned this wonderful report from the Messenger of God:

He would make a supplication like this: “Oh God, bless the mornings of my community and make them productive.”

 

Here are some things that were the habits of the early Muslims:

  • Waking up in the early morning hours before dawn to reflect, remember God and recite scripture in voluntary night time vigils

  • Staying up after dawn, and taking a power nap in the afternoon

  • Beginning business and work in the morning

Honestly, when you become a ‘morning person’, you are more productive. I don’t need to quote all the self-improvement specialists about that. It’s totally self-evident!

 

The answer to that supplication by the Messenger of God is that our mornings are blessed if we take advantage of them.

New Year, new beginnings

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New Year, new beginnings

New Year? Whaaa….

You’re thinking maybe I’m REALLY early or impossibly late with this, right?

While I try to be a punctual person, I’m not talking about January 1, I’m referring to the first of the Islamic (Hijri) Lunar calendar, the 1st of God’s Sacred Moth (Muharram) which falls around September 21 this year, depending on the moon sighting.


The Islamic Calendar is Decreed By God

The Islamic calendar is not like any man made one. Although, most calendars have twelve months, God has decided on how humans should calculate time and he taught His messengers throughout history about this. There is an amazing reason for this:

“God decrees that there are twelve months – ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and earth…” 9:36

What I personally find fascinating about this is that God is teaching us to honor time and gives us the framework to structure our days, weeks, months and years. How cool is that?

The new year gives us an opportunity to renew ourselves spiritually as we are aware of the passage of time. It also helps us do some introspection on how we spent our last year and how we plan to improve for the coming year.

But that’s not all.


There are Four Sacred Months

God continues in this same verse by saying, “…four months of which are sacred, this is the Upright Religion and Way of God”

Not all months are created equal.

But what does a sacred month even mean to us?

You may remember not long ago, we talked about the virtue of the Month of Pilgrimage (Thul-Hijjah) – and the best day of the year (Arafah) which landed in the same sacred month.
There are several regulations in Islam related to these Sacred Months which should not be violated.

God tells us some of the regulations the same verse, “Do not wrong yourselves in these months.”

Now of course, that does not give us free rein to do as we please in the non-sacred months. It just means that there is extra value to the good we do in these sacred months and more offensive to violate the time by sinning and breaking the commands of God.

Introducing the Month of God

This begs the question! What are these four months and what comes next?

The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three are in succession, the 11th, 12th and 1st named the Month of Putting Arms Down, the Month of the Pilgrimage and, the Sacred Month. The fourth one is the 7th month named Rajab.

If this sounds confusing (and I’m sure it does), don’t worry. The names of the 12 months and their order are not the focus of this post nor is it a priority to learn. Phew.

We’re nearing the end of Thul-Hijjah (one of the sacred months and the last month of the year). The next month, God’s Sacred Month, Muharram, is also sacred as its name suggests.

God has given us yet another chance to do more good, overcome our mistakes, and raise our standards.

Here’s what the Messenger of God said about the month of Muharram.

“The best fast after Ramadan is in the Sacred Month of God, Muharram.”

Woah did you notice that. While Thul-Hijjah is the Month of Pilgrimage, Muharram is dubbed the Month of God. Surely, there’s a special day within this month as there was in the last?

Absolutely.

The Messenger of God told us, about fasting the 9th day of the Month of Pilgrimage Arafah, “God will expiate as a reward for it the year before it and the year after it”. As for fasting the 10th day of God’s Sacred Month ‘Ashura’, he said, “God will expiate as a reward for it the year that came before it.”

‘Ashura’ is the 10th of Muharram (we will let you know when it falls exactly as we await the moon sighting).

Summary

Let’s sum this post up real quick in case it got a little overwhelming.

  • God tells us to honor time and decreed for us 12 months in a year.
  • Four of these months are sacred.
  • Sacred months are opportunities for us to do more good and pay extra attention to our habits.
  • We are nearing the end of Thul-Hijjah (the Month of Pilgrimage) – a sacred month and the last month of the year.
  • In a few days, the new month of the new year will begin – also a sacred month.
  • God’s Sacred Month, Muharram, is the best month of the year to fast voluntarily.
  • Specifically, fasting the 10th of Muharram- also named The Tenth Day, ‘Ashura’ – erases the sins and mistakes of the year that came before.

 

5 Ways to Make Time for your Prescribed Daily Ritual

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5 ways to make time for your prescribed daily ritual

 

The prescribed ritual was the very first thing the messenger Muhammad was taught after receiving initial passages from the Quran.  

 

They take up, in total, approximately 30 minutes of your day.

 

Even still….

 

Those five can seem like a lot, when you’ve never offered them before.

 

You’ll see.

 

Taking a little time out each day for this course leads to a balanced, successful life.

 

Here are five ways you can make time as a new Muslim to offer the prescribed ritual devotion:

 

  1. Beg God to help you make offering the ritual devotion easy for you. God answers prayers and will facilitate things for the sincere servant striving to give Him thanks on His terms.
  2. Take note of the times, write them down, or set a calendar reminder through your cellphone or computer. Maybe download a call to prayer (Athan) app! Make a habit of offering the devotions as soon as you can within the prescribed time period.
  3. Begin rearranging your day to accommodate. The early dawn ritual will always mean waking yourself up, but the midday one can be made at lunchtime. Depending on your location, the late afternoon ritual can be made at breaktime or supper. The two evening rituals at sunset and night can fit around common leisure activities easily as you the day comes to an end.
  4. Brief periods to stop and offer the prescribed ritual devotions take up a  total of approximately 30 minutes of each day. When you are struggling to make them a habit, it may help to remind yourself of this fact.
  5. When you make God first, everything else will fall into place. God will reward you for your intention and your striving to be punctual and consistent, even if life doesn’t let you. Know that while God has commanded His devoted servants to perform this course of daily Thanksgiving Rituals, He is Merciful, All-Knowing and fully Aware of your condition. God does not burden us beyond our means. He gives us concessions depending on what we can or can not physically offer, and He always rewards generously those who struggle for His sake.

 

A Guide to the Day of Sacrifice for New Muslims

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A Guide to the Day of Sacrifice for New Muslims

Day of Sacrifice[1]

The tenth day of the Month of the Pilgrimage [2], is the second Islamic holiday of the year. Muslims around the world celebrate it just as they did a few months ago after the completion of Ramadan. This year the holiday will correspond with Friday the 1st of September.

The history of the Day of Sacrifice goes back to the time of Abraham.  The annual celebration commemorates the great event when God commanded Abraham in a dream to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. 37:102

As Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, God revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had been fulfilled.  He had shown that his love for his Lord superseded all others, that he would make any sacrifice in order to submit to God.  If you are a convert to Islam from Christianity or Judaism, you may know a different version of the same story also appears in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Some people are confused as to why God asked Abraham to slaughter his own son.  The purpose was not for Abraham to kill his son; rather it was to sacrifice the attachment to his son from his heart so all his love belonged to God alone.

Thus, it is a part of our tradition that during the blessed Ten Days of the Month of Pilgrimage and on the Day of Sacrifice we remember the sacrifice of Abraham by reflecting over the story and reliving some of the rites.  We reflect on what made him such a strong believer, one who was beloved to God, someone God blessed and made a leader and example for all the nations that were to follow.

Sacrificing one’s son was a test of Abraham’s faith.  To commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, Muslims slaughter an animal such as a sheep, goat, cow, or camel.  The practice is often misunderstood by those outside of the faith.  Therefore, several points must be understood here:

  1. The animal sacrifice is not a pagan ritual as some may assume. It is nothing like pagan rituals as there is no use of the spilled blood to rub on objects or icons as a blood ritual. There are no superstitious beliefs. There is also no false belief that the blood or meat goes to feed a god or is used to avert such false god’s anger as pagans believe.

Quite the contrary as the One True God tells us the point behind the sacrifice.

“We have made sacrificial animals (camels/cows) part of God’s sacred rites for you. There is much good in them for you , so mention God’s name over them as they are lined up for sacrifice, then, when they have fallen down dead, feed yourselves and those who do not ask, as well as those who do. We have subjected them to you in this way so that you may be thankful. It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God but your piety. He has subjected them to you in this way so that you may glorify God for having guided you. Prophet, give good news to those who do good.” 22:36-37

Performing this ritual sacrifice in the name of God is a sign of obedience to God, piety. After the blood is drained and discarded, the meat of the animal is to be distributed to the poor, one’s family and friends.

  1. There are no special rituals involved, other than the animal meeting certain requirements.  The animal is slaughtered in the same way it is slaughtered any other time in the year to be lawful to consume.  The only difference is in the intention.  For regular slaughter, the intention is to consume the meat or feed it to others, but for this occasion, it is to worship God by commemorating Abraham’s trial and in obedience to God.
  2. God’s Name is pronounced since God has given us power over animals and made them subservient to us. He allowed us to consume their meat, but only in His Name.  By saying the Name of God at the time of slaughter, we remind ourselves that even the life of an animal is sacred and we can only take away its life in the Name of the One who gave it in the first place.
  3. Good acts atone for one’s sins.  Offering the animal sacrifice is a ritual of devotion that also expiates one’s sins.  Muhammad the messenger of God taught that the most beloved deed on this day is offering the sacrifice and that it will bear witness for the devotee on the Day of Resurrection.

Regulations related to the Sacrificial Animal

  • Type of Animal

The only animals which are allowed to be sacrificed are those mentioned in the Quran as cattle and livestock lawful for consumption, namely camels, cows, goats and sheep. A single sheep can be offered as a sacrifice for a single person or a family.  At the time of the Messenger of God, a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others. A camel or cow is sufficient for seven people.

  •  Age of Animal

The animal should be of a certain age to be fit for sacrifice.  The minimum ages are:

  1. a) 6 months for a lamb or sheep.
  2. b) 1 year for a goat.
  3. c) 2 years for a cow.
  4. d) 5 years for a camel.
  • Characteristics of the Animal

It should be free of any faults or defects as one should choose the best offering to gift to God. The blind or one eyed animal, a sick animal, a lame animal, and an emaciated animal will not qualify for the sacrifice.

There are milder defects that do not disqualify an animal, but it is disliked to sacrifice such animals, like an animal with a horn or ear missing, or with slits in its ears, etc.

  • Time of Sacrifice

The animal should be sacrificed at the specified time which starts after the congregational service (prayer and sermon) on the Day of Sacrifice has concluded and lasts until before sunset of the 13th day of the Month of Sacrifice. The three days following the Day of Sacrifice are called the Days of Sunrise.[3]

The meat from the sacrifice is eaten by family and relatives, given away to friends and neighbors, and donated to the poor.  We recognize that all blessings come from God, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

Advice for the Day of Sacrifice

  1. Take the day of off from work or school, if possible. If you cannot, try to make arrangements for time off to try to attend the congregational service if it is close by.
  2. Make arrangements for the sacrificial animal ahead of time. You can go with local Muslims to a ranch or a slaughter house or go by yourself if you have prior experience. It will be an experience you will not forget! You may want to slaughter the animal yourself or you can have a fellow Muslim do it for you. If no Muslim is available, a Jew or a Christian may do it as long as they slaughter the animal properly by cutting the jugular veins and letting the animal bleed out. You can also transfer money to an Islamic charity to do it on your behalf and they will distribute the meat to the poor. For millions of poor Muslims around the world it is the only time in the year they get to eat meat.

As a new Muslim,  you might not live in an area with a Muslim community, so it is recommended that you donate money to a charity to do the sacrifice on your behalf and to feed poor Muslims through one of the online Islamic relief organizations.  Costs of doing the sacrifice will vary based on the country you want it to be performed in. A few organizations are listed below, you can find many more online:

http://www.islamic-relief.org/category/seasonal/seasonalcampaignqurbani/

http://irusa.org/udhiyahqurbani/?gclid=CL-llYOA-c4CFQpsfgod1A8Cfg

https://umrelief.org/campaigns/qurbani/

https://pennyappealusa.org/campaigns/qurbani

  1. Connect with your local mosque or Islamic center at least a week before to find out the time and place where the congregational prayer will be held. After the prayer, sweets and light refreshments are usually served. Most mosques will hold Eid dinners either in the evening or within the next few days. Find out when and where they are and try to attend them.
  2. Do not get lonely or feel isolated. Make arrangements with your Muslim friends or families ahead of time to visit them for Eid. Invite Muslim friends and cook for them. If you can’t cook, eat out with them. Try to involve your non-Muslim family members by taking them to the Eid prayer with you or have them visit you for dinner with your Muslim friends. It will take some planning. Do it ahead of time. You have four days to celebrate!
  3. Families give gifts to children on Eid. Prophet Muhammad said: “Exchange gifts with each other, you will love each other.” You may like to give gifts to your non-Muslim and Muslim family members and friends.
  4. Volunteer on Eid day at your local mosque. They will need volunteers for parking, food set-up, clean up, children’s activities, and more.
  5. Dress up for Eid. Buy some new clothes and be in ‘celebration’ mode!

To sum up the proceeding…

On this day, a Muslim who is not performing the Hajj pilgrimage engages in the same activities one normally does on the Day of Breaking Fast[4], with the exception of not paying the charity of breaking fast, which applies only after Ramadan.

A distinctive feature in this Celebration is the slaughtering of a sacrificial animal, which is considered to be a highly recommended act of worship for those who can afford it financially.

Another feature is the extension of the feast for several days. The Day of Arafa, the Day of Sacrifice and the three Days of Sunrise are five consecutive days of celebration which come around annually, hence the name Eid[5]. These days are designated to be a time to ‘eat, drink, joy, and remembrance/devotion to God’ as the messenger Muhammad taught. The Day of Sacrifice along with the three days after it are days that are forbidden to fast as they are days of celebration.

A sacrificial animal refers to any of the pastoral animals (sheep, goats, cows or camels) that are slaughtered during the Festival of Sacrifice with the intention of seeking closeness to God.

Slaughtering a sacrificial animal during the Festival of Sacrifice is a practice which the messenger Muhammad regularly did and encouraged for those who can afford to do so. The head of the household may offer a sacrifice for himself and on behalf of his dependents.

It is not lawful to offer a sacrifice of any animal or bird except pastoral animals, namely sheep, cows or camels.

One sheep or goat would suffice for a household, and seven different households may share in sacrificing a cow or a camel.

The sacrificial animal must be of the right age. A sheep must be at least six months, a goat one year old, a cow two years old, and a camel five years old. It should also be free from apparent defects.

What Should Be Done with the Sacrificial Animal?

It is forbidden to sell any part of the sacrificial animal.

It is recommended to divide it into three parts: one part for personal consumption/eating, one third to be given as gifts and one third to be given in charity to the poor and the needy.

It is permissible to delegate someone to slaughter a sacrificial animal on one’s behalf, such as trustworthy charitable organization that undertake the slaughter of sacrificial animals and distribute them to the needy.

It is, of course, permissible to slaughter more than one animal on behalf of a single household or person as it would count as extra good deeds.

May God bless you and accept your worship and sacrifice.

[1] Day of ‘Adha’ Sacrifice

[2] Thul Hijjah

[3] Days of ‘Tashreeq’ Sunrise as people would have the meat from their offerings dried under the sun during these days.

[4] Day of ‘Fitr’ Breaking Fast

[5] Eid means a recurring and repeated event

5 Ways the Hajj Pilgrimage Is More Familiar Than You Think

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5 Ways The Hajj Pilgrimage Is More Familiar Than You Think

“Hajj” and “Mecca” may be new words to you. And as experiences go, they’re likely as foreign as “volcano boarding” or “sand yachting”.

 

(yeah, those are real things)

 

So how about we bring the Pilgrimage experience a little closer to home… your home.

 

These are 5 ways you already have a head start on what most would call – the experience of a lifetime.

1. You found your calling

 

What made you accept Islam in your heart? There was something missing, wasn’t there? Some part of your life just seemed to need filling up, and accepting Islam did that for you. This happened through Divine Guidance.

 

God invites people to the Pilgrimage and guides them to it, just like He called you to Islam – this inner itch that you couldn’t ignore, like something was missing, something bigger than yourself.

 

The moment you accepted Islam – you may have felt whole again. That calling came from inside of you.

 

That’s exactly how pilgrims describe their experience. It doesn’t come suddenly, but it grows slowly from beneath the surface. God will soon call to you, too – your heart will know when it’s ready. And when it is, everything else will fall into place as it did with your Islam.

2. You proclaimed that God is One

 

When you became a Muslim, you said the statement and testimony of faith “Shahada”. These words mean that you will now live your life trying to please the One True God. It’s what makes Muslims different from everyone else in the world: sincerely worshipping the One True God on His terms.

 

Pilgrims at Hajj also call out their devotion to God alone. The formula used is declaring service and responding to the invitation “Talbiyah”. It’s meaning is, “Oh God, I am here responding to your invitation, at your service, there is no God but you…”  The pilgrims are in Mecca to submit to God alone, just like you have tried every day since you said the testimony of faith.

 

3. You made some sacrifices

 

When you accepted Islam, there were some sacrifices that came along with it. Giving up certain foods, certain habits, certain places to hang out, are part of many converts’ experience after becoming Muslim.

 

Sacrifice. It’s hard to give up stuff you’re used to, but the reward is a whole lot sweeter.

 

The Pilgrimage might as well be synonymous with sacrifice. You intend a journey to serve God by leaving the luxuries of life behind. From start to end, the Pilgrimage is an experience of letting go for the sake of God.

 

4. You may have endured some difficulty

 

It may have been hard since you became a Muslim. God asks in the Quran if the people who believe think they will not be tested. The trials of life don’t stop. Sometimes, it feels like the hits just keep on coming, but God loves those with grit. You’ve already passed some of the tests of life, and you will keep on keeping on.

 

The Pilgrimage is also a challenging test. From the paperwork, to the finances, to the physical strain in the hot desert heat, Hajj offers test after test. You and pilgrims go from one place to the next, experiencing difficulty for the sake of God with each step.

5. You experienced a rebirth of sorts

When you became a Muslim, you got a clean slate. Your life before, the mistakes you made are left behind, and forgiven by God. Did you know that this same forgiveness is granted to those who perform the Hajj pilgrimage?

 

The Messenger of God said, “Islam erases all the previous sins and so does migration for God’s sake and the Pilgrimage to Mecca.”

 

God wants us to succeed, so He offers us many chances to start fresh.

 

 

Your Head Start

 

Now maybe you can see how Hajj wraps up the Muslim experience, and draws out of the Muslim their very best. You are already sharing in the Hajj experience without ever having lifted your eyes off this blog post.

 

So, when you consider Hajj in the future consider these points. Get excited about going there yourself one day. You’re already on the path.

Life lessons associated with the different rites of the Pilgrimage

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Life lessons associated with the different rites of the Pilgrimage

Life lessons associated with the different rites of the Pilgrimage

The Messenger of God told us that if our pilgrimage is performed correctly and is accepted by God, all our previous sins will be erased. Imagine, total and complete forgiveness. We would be born again spiritually and return to the pure state the day our mothers gave birth to us.


That’s a huge and delightful reward.


But it doesn’t come without a cost.


First, there is the financial sacrifice. It costs money to travel to Mecca, no matter where you are in the world. You have to part with your money for this trip. It’s a trip that will not send you to a relaxing vacation, or allow you to indulge in desires. It is a trip of restrictions and devotion.


You learn that serving God means that you must let go of some wealth which is dear to you. Everything you own including the money you spend truly belongs to God. The financial cost of the pilgrimage helps you prioritize and put things in perspective.


You are going to one of the hottest, most crowded destinations on the planet. No matter if you’ve paid for the fanciest hotel room with the most refreshing air conditioning, you will spend time with those less fortunate pilgrims walking and exerting yourself in the desert heat.


You are reminded, as we all should be, of the heat of hell. How unbearable it must be if the desert heat is this intense.

The multitude of Muslims surrounding you as you go around the Ka’ba is overwhelming. You could marvel at just how many Muslims there must be left in the world, if just a fraction of them are at the pilgrimage sites alongside you. If things get confusing and people mill around you left and right, you can consider the Day of Judgement, when people will be behaving like scattered moths.


Just seeing the Ka’ba, the first and original Temple and House of God, is exhilarating. Reflecting on its age and origin, you might be filled with gratefulness that you are fortunate to answer God’s invite, following in such an age-old tradition, still kept alive and pristine from the time of Abraham.


Abraham pelted stones at Satan many years ago, as Satan met him on the path, trying to convince him to leave obedience to God. Collecting a set number of pebbles, and stoning the set location as Abraham did, reminds you of the daily battle you have with Satan. As you announce that God is the greatest with each pebble thrown, you reflect on your inner battle against satanic whispers in life, and you renew your intention to seek refuge in God from his suggestions in the future.


Each soul that has ever been born was already at the valley of Arafat, at the dawn of man’s creation when God took a testimony from us all, accepting God as our Lord and Master. Standing at Arafat, you reflect on the fact that every living person knows deep down that God is their Lord. You also renew your covenant with God to fulfill your purpose of devotion and service to the Lord.


In making the sacrifice, you remember Abraham and his son, and their willingness to go through with the command of God even if it meant sacrificing one’s life. How dearly we all cling to life, yet they both submitted to the command of God and showed God their genuine dedication and willingness even if it meant the ultimate sacrifice. Both father and son were rewarded for their commitment with the gift of a sheep to slaughter instead.

God rewards sacrifice for His sake.


Performing the pilgrimage is full of reminders about this life and the next life. It is also a recipe for success for life after returning from the pilgrimage.

Some Ways to Get Sins Forgiven

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Some Ways to Get Sins Forgiven

Some Ways to Get Sins Forgiven

and to Erase the Aftereffects and Consequences of Bad Deeds

 

Did you know that the sound of a believer asking God’s forgiveness is very beloved to God?

 

The first way a believer can avoid punishment for committed sins and negate their negative consequences, is to sincerely ask God for forgiveness. Truthfully acknowledge the wrong that you have done, take ownership of it, have remorse and regret for it, and ask God to forgive you for having done it. Try your best to not return to that sin again by having the resolve not to relapse. Someone who has this habit is like a person who has never sinned.

 

God will either erase and/or conceal the sin when the believer asks God to pardon it. Out of His mercy, He loves to pardon those who request clemency.

 

When you perform good deeds, it eliminates the bad consequences for sins. The Messenger of God told us “Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out.” So, for example, if you’ve said a bad word or cursed, repent, and say something good instead to wipe your slate clean.

 

Someone pious can pray for you and supplicate to God to forgive you. This can come into play when you request someone righteous to pray for you, but will happen more naturally if that person knows you well and keeps you in their prayers. That is why it is great to know good people who will pray for us especially in our absence. Their prayers to God may be a way for our sins to be forgiven, whether we are alive, or even after we have passed away.

 

The challenges of life can also be a means to expiate sins. God tests us through all the different aspects of our lives, to see if we are grateful. Tests remind us of the purpose of our existence which is to know God and to love Him through dedication and service. If these tests are passed through perseverance and forbearance any consequence of sins is avoided. This is not limited to the tests of life but continues after death.


Everyone is tested in their graves. The tests and trials of the grave and on the Day of Judgement are also ways that God can alleviate punishment for the believer. Sins are washed away by the difficulties of the grave, and the sweating, discomfort and waiting of Judgement Day.


That being said, God has no prerequisites to mercy. If God decides to have mercy on you, then He will, and that will be sufficient to keep the punishment for your sins far away from you.


God never tires of forgiving and pardoning our sins. It may occur to a person that it would be better not to sin at all! Consider this quote from the Messenger of God on the matter:


“If you people did not fall into sin, God would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek God’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.”


Let us always remember that God is forgiving and merciful and He loves it when His servants turn to Him in repentance.

Best Answer to non-Muslim Family about World Events

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Best Answer to non-Muslim Family about World Events

Best Answer to non-Muslim Family about World Events

 

One of the first things I did when I accepted Islam was to continue a family tradition of sending a newsletter to my family (yes, snail mail).  It was to inform my family members that I had accepted Islam. It was also an invitation to have them contact me when they had questions about Muslims or Islam, instead of going to news media or others who were not Muslim for answers.

 

This may have been ok in my situation (may not be wise for others to do) but it also opened the door for some of my family and their friends to forward me any number of weird news stories about crazy stuff happening around the globe.

 

Even the most intelligent and well-informed political analyst will get it wrong sometimes when discussing world politics. So it’s best not to go there at all. All you are responsible for is to be the best Muslim that you can be, to learn and practice as much as you can.

 

But sometimes those questions come, anyhow.

 

One of the main reasons that my mind was convinced about Islam, is because a tragic event occurred, and I got no satisfying answers from anyone, of any faith, until I asked a Muslim.  Without hesitation, she replied that God knows the reality of what and why things happen. Everything that occurs is according to His plan. Humans show arrogance when they assume that they know best or they have figured things out.

 

God is Perfect and flawless and His plan is what happens. This is such a comforting idea and gives us great relief. It reminds me of visiting a valley surrounded by mountains.

Dad Tests: Lessons on Dealing with Dad from the Story of Abraham

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Dad Tests: Lessons on Dealing with Dad from the Story of Abraham

Dad Tests: Lessons on dealing with Dad from the Story of Abraham

If we conjure the image of someone who is diametrically and entirely opposite of a Muslim, who can you think of? It’s a pretty grim picture and something that many Muslims may not think of often.

How about if that person was in your family? How about if he was your own father?

Abraham was a Muslim and a great messenger of God but his father was such a man. Not only did he reject the exclusive right of God for worship and associated partners in worship with him, he was actually the idol-maker for his people. He rejected the worship of God alone, and knew first-hand (pun intended) that the idols of clay and wood were man-made.

So how do you think Abraham, who was the closest of men to God, dealt with a man who was so far away?

Was he harsh due to his father’s rejection of his message of worshiping the One True God?  Did he consider himself above praying for the guidance of such a man?

No. Not at all.

Check out the language and the attitude of Abraham (the the first of two men called the ‘Friend of God’ the second being Muhammad), used when addressing his father on religious issues:

 

“Father, why do you worship something that can neither hear nor see nor benefit you in any way?

Father, knowledge of the Divine that has not reached you has come to me, so follow me: I will guide you to an even path.

Father, do not worship Satan (by obeying him) – Satan has rebelled against God the Gracious.

Father, I fear that a punishment from God the Gracious may afflict you and that you become Satan’s supporter and companion in Hell.” 19:42-45

 

Abraham used delicate and kind language with his father, the idol-maker!

Can you imagine anyone rejecting such a kind and well-mannered invitation?

Well, he did and his reply was:

“Abraham, do you reject my gods? If you do not stop this, I will stone you. Keep away from me for a long time!” 19:46

Abraham did not become rude even at this point. His reply was just as kind as his invitation:

“I pray for your protection from evil and your well-being and will beg my Lord to forgive you – He is always gracious to me – but for now I will leave you and the idols you all pray to and worship, and I will pray and worship my Lord and trust that my prayers will not be in vain.” 19:47-48

 

What an excellent conversation on the part of Abraham. The Father of Prophets (a name given to Abraham because many of God’s prophets were from his progeny) was so nice to his dad, even when he kicked him out.