I, on behalf of everyone at Ekhlas, would like to express our deepest sense of gratitude for the immense success Allah has given this blog in that we have gone over 100,000 visitors – AlHamdulillah. Despite our unworthiness, Allah has blessed this meager effort with such success – may Allah forgive our shortcomings, for they are only ours.
Finally, as the Prophetic statement says, “The one who is not grateful to people is not grateful to Allah“, we would like to thank all those who have in any way supported this effort, specifically all the visitors who have supported us again and again by giving Ekhlas their precious time.
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I completely agree with Sidi Ayaz Hyder (Deenport) in that it’s “nice to see this in mainstream media”:
London, England (CNN) — Think of the origins of that staple of modern life, the cup of coffee, and Italy often springs to mind.But in fact, Yemen is where the ubiquitous brew has its true origins.Along with the first university, and even the toothbrush, it is among surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in today.The origins of these fundamental ideas and objects — the basis of everything from the bicycle to musical scales — are the focus of “1001 Inventions,” a book celebrating “the forgotten” history of 1,000 years of Muslim heritage.“There’s a hole in our knowledge, we leap frog from the Renaissance to the Greeks,” professor Salim al-Hassani, Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, and editor of the book told CNN.“1001 Inventions” is now an exhibition at London’s Science Museum. Hassani hopes the exhibition will highlight the contributions of non-Western cultures — like the Muslim empire that once covered Spain and Portugal, Southern Italy and stretched as far as parts of China — to present day civilization.Here Hassani shares his top 10 outstanding Muslim inventions:1. SurgeryAround the year 1,000, the celebrated doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery that was used in Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years. Among his many inventions, Zahrawi discovered the use of dissolving cat gut to stitch wounds — beforehand a second surgery had to be performed to remove sutures. He also reportedly performed the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps.2. CoffeeNow the Western world’s drink du jour, coffee was first brewed in Yemen around the 9th century. In its earliest days, coffee helped Sufis stay up during late nights of devotion. Later brought to Cairo by a group of students, the coffee buzz soon caught on around the empire. By the 13th century it reached Turkey, but not until the 16th century did the beans start boiling in Europe, brought to Italy by a Venetian trader.3. Flying machine“Abbas ibn Firnas was the first person to make a real attempt to construct a flying machine and fly,” said Hassani. In the 9th century he designed a winged apparatus, roughly resembling a bird costume. In his most famous trial near Cordoba in Spain, Firnas flew upward for a few moments, before falling to the ground and partially breaking his back. His designs would undoubtedly have been an inspiration for famed Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci’s hundreds of years later, said Hassani.4. UniversityIn 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Her sister Miriam founded an adjacent mosque and together the complex became the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, Hassani says he hopes the center will remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.5. AlgebraThe word algebra comes from the title of a Persian mathematician’s famous 9th century treatise “Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala” which translates roughly as “The Book of Reasoning and Balancing.” Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebraic order was a unifying system for rational numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.6. Optics“Many of the most important advances in the study of optics come from the Muslim world,” says Hassani. Around the year 1000 Ibn al-Haitham proved that humans see objects by light reflecting off of them and entering the eye, dismissing Euclid and Ptolemy’s theories that light was emitted from the eye itself. This great Muslim physicist also discovered the camera obscura phenomenon, which explains how the eye sees images upright due to the connection between the optic nerve and the brain.7. MusicMuslim musicians have had a profound impact on Europe, dating back to Charlemagne tried to compete with the music of Baghdad and Cordoba, according to Hassani. Among many instruments that arrived in Europe through the Middle East are the lute and the rahab, an ancestor of the violin. Modern musical scales are also said to derive from the Arabic alphabet.8. ToothbrushAccording to Hassani, the Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.9. The crankMany of the basics of modern automatics were first put to use in the Muslim world, including the revolutionary crank-connecting rod system. By converting rotary motion to linear motion, the crank enables the lifting of heavy objects with relative ease. This technology, discovered by Al-Jazari in the 12th century, exploded across the globe, leading to everything from the bicycle to the internal combustion engine.10. Hospitals“Hospitals as we know them today, with wards and teaching centers, come from 9th century Egypt,” explained Hassani. The first such medical center was the Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital, founded in 872 in Cairo. Tulun hospital provided free care for anyone who needed it — a policy based on the Muslim tradition of caring for all who are sick. From Cairo, such hospitals spread around the Muslim world.
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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has strong medicine for American Muslims — and their critics.
American Muslims “should really stop complaining,” start contributing more to society, get to know your neighbors and oppose the dangerous versions of Islam that have migrated to this country.
To critics: Stop demanding Muslims apologize for every act of violence committed by someone in the name of Islam, and recognize that Muslims throughout the world have suffered tremendous violence in recent decades.
One might think such messages would shrink Yusuf’s audience, yet the Islamic scholar has become a much-sought speaker among Muslims — particularly young ones seeking American-accented expressions of their faith.
He delivered these messages to several hundred earlier in November at the annual banquet of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Kentucky. He drew strong applause from the crowd, and many lined up afterward for his book signing.
Yusuf is an American-born convert who studied Islam and Arabic in the Middle East. He founded Zaytuna Institute, an Islamic college in California, and has drawn attention beyond the Muslim world especially after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when he hailed the murdered firefighters and police officers as the true martyrs of that day.
Yusuf quipped during his Louisville speech that as a convert, some view him as “the most dangerous kind” of Muslim and that like many Muslims he’s been subjected to extensive airport screenings.
But past American immigrants such as Yusuf’s Irish ancestors would love to exchange their struggles for “a little searching at the airports,” he said.
“Of all immigrants — with the possible exception of the Hindu migration after the 1965 immigration act — nobody has had it easier than the Muslims,” he said. “If you want to talk about difficulties, talk to the Chinese Americans about their history. Talk to the Japanese Americans about their history. â€¦ If you think everybody’s going to embrace and help you and say, ‘Welcome to America,’ you have not read American history. â€¦ You have to prove yourselves.”
Catholics, he said, built hospitals, charities and schools so good that Protestants began sending their children to them.
“Now Catholics are part of this country,” he said.
And Muslims will be, too, he said, “when we open the free clinics in the worst part of town, when we start feeding people, when we start taking care of our African-American brothers.”
He lamented that many Muslim immigrants are “milking the cow” — getting wealthy while “we have inner-city mosques that can’t pay the electricity bill.”
But not all the criticism was inward.
“A community is enfranchised when that community is not blamed for what individual members of that community do,” he said, speaking just days after the Fort Hood massacre of 13 soldiers, which authorities said was carried out by a Muslim Army doctor.
“The fact that I must have to apologize or say anything about Fort Hood as an American Muslim — that this has anything to do with me or anything to do with my community” shows that enfranchisement hasn’t arrived yet, Yusuf said.
“I don’t know people who go into a room and shoot everybody up, and I certainly don’t want to meet them and I certainly hope I’m not praying next to somebody like that,” he said. “Every religion has these problems.”
He cited Baruch Goldstein, an American-educated Israeli medical doctor who massacred 29 Muslims at a West Bank shrine in 1994.
No one, he said, claims that Goldstein represented Judaism or that Jews needed to explain themselves.
“People say it seems like the Muslims have more problems than other people,” Yusuf said. “First of all, there are a lot more Muslims than other people, so we’re going to have a higher count of nut cases than other groups, just statistically.
“But we’re also under siege in many places,” he said. “We’ve got Muslims that are being humiliated in Palestine, in Kashmir, in certain parts of the Russian republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, â€¦ Albania, China. Muslims have been victims of a lot of human suffering.” Somalis and Afghans, he said, have suffered decades of warfare rooted in Cold War politics.
But understanding causes of violence doesn’t justify it, he said.
“We have versions of Islam out there that are deeply troubling, that are very dangerous. Some of them have been brought to these shores. If people want to adhere to those things, they need to go other places.”
But, he said: “There are so many Muslims who are dying to get here, literally. They don’t want to blow up America. They want to work at 7-Eleven.”
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Inspiring and simply beautiful.
We had just finished dinner and had 20 genay [Egyptian currency] left over from the pool of cash we had put together. While discussing what to do with the money, one of the sisters suggested, “There’s a boy who sleeps outside Awlad Ragab [the local grocery store]. You know, he’s got that puppy! And whenever he’s with that puppy, he’s like the happiest kid in the world.”
I remembered who the sister was speaking of. There was a teenage boy who slept on the grass across the street from the grocery store. There was no trace of family, no trace of money, no trace of anything – just a boy, and the stray puppy who kept him company. “Let’s give the money to him!” the sister exclaimed. Our group began to head over.
From our dinner location, taking into account the number of girls who were with us and the fact that the streets of Cairo are crazy busy at night (Allahu Akbar – God is the Greatest – Egypt, I miss you!), it took us about twenty minutes to get to the location of the boy. But subhan’Allah [God is above all things they associate with Him], he was nowhere to be seen. His puppy, however, was there…and he was thirsty. The puppy had his paws around a closed water bottle, and he was unsuccessfully attempting to open it. Imagine the torment of intense thirst – staring at water at a paw’s length – and not being able to access it despite immense struggle. Realizing his dilemma, we quickly opened the bottle of water we had and began to pour it out for the puppy. The puppy came immediately, drinking the water in huge gulps, not stopping for some time. Finally, relieved, the puppy ran off to play.
We did not find the boy that night. As we walked back to our apartments I began reflecting on what had taken place. We had walked about twenty minutes in search of a specific boy. We could not find him but instead we found a puppy in extreme thirst, making a great effort to access water. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had written for us to have extra money, helped us remember the boy in that moment, given us the strength, ability and time to take the twenty minute walk to find the boy, and guided us to a puppy who needed our help to drink water. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had written for us, a group of foreigners from across the world, to have been in that place, at that moment of time, to help a puppy quench its thirst.
Ya servant of Allah who is struggling to please Him, stumbling upon blocks of heedlessness and difficulties… Ya Muslim or Muslimah who is trying to keep it straight, find a job, get married, do well in school, study overseas, deal with domestic issues at home or societal pressures all around… Oh one who struggles to make your prayers, makes effort to complete your fasts, fights to lower your gaze and preserve your chastity… If that is the Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala on a small puppy, that He subhanahu wa ta’ala would put all these things into place to help quench the thirst of a creature amongst His Creation – then what about the Mercy of Allah, The Most High, The One in control of everything, on you, His worshipper?
“So flee to Allah…”
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Much is said about the first two of the three components in our relationship with Allah: fear, hope and love. But less is said about Allah’s Love. And this is important to know, because by realizing Allah’s Love, those of us whose hearts are hard are softened; those of us who feel deep inside that we can never be forgiven will be awoken with hope; and those of us whose relationship with Allah is mechanical will be enriched.
Not Just Fear
For many people, the relationship with Allah has become either that of fear or of something ritualistic: “I have to pray, so let me just get up and do it. If I don’t pray, I’ll go to hell.”
Fear is important, but at the base of our relationship with Allah is love. In the following Hadith Qudsi, Allah demonstrates the nature of His relationship with us:
“Myself, Mankind and Jinn are in a great serious state. I create them, then they worship other gods that they make for themselves; I bless them with my bounties, then they thank someone else for what I sent them; My Mercy descends to them while their evil deeds ascend to Me; I endear them with my gifts even though I have no need for any of them while they alienate themselves from Me with their sins even though they are desperate for My help.
Whoever returns to Me, I accept him no matter how far he is; and whoever turns away from Me, I approach him and call on him. Whoever leaves a sin for my sake, I reward him with many gifts and whoever seeks to please Me, I seek to please him. Whoever acknowledges My Will and Power in whatever he does, I make the iron bend for his sake. My dear people are those who are with Me (i.e. whoever would like to be with Me, let him supplicate to Me and remember Me). Whoever thanks Me, I grant him more blessings; whoever obeys Me, I raise him and endear him more. Whoever disobeys Me, I keep the doors of My Mercy open for him; if he returns to Me, I bestow him with My Love since I love those who repent and purify themselves for My Sake. If he does not repent, I still treat him by putting them in hardship to purify him.
Whoever favors Me over others, I favor them over others. I reward every single good deed ten times over or seven hundred times over to countless times over. I count every single bad deed as one unless the person repents and ask for My Forgiveness in which case I forgive even that one. I take into account any little good deed and I forgive even major sins. My Mercy supersedes My Anger; My Tolerance supersedes My Blame; My Forgiveness supersedes My Punishment as I am more merciful with My slaves than a mother with her child.” (Madarij As-Saalikeen by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziya)
What is amazing is not a servant who seeks to get closer to his Lord, but that the Lord endears His servant to get closer to him. Many of the ahadeeth that I will recount are those ahadeeth that we already know; yet reading them one after the other shows us the extent of Allah’s Love and Mercy. Allah says, “If my servant comes closer to Me a hand span, I come closer to him or her an arms-length; and if he or she comes to Me walking, I come to him or her at speed.” (Bukhari)
Sometimes we despair, yet the above ahadeeth show us how silly that is. All we have to do is turn to Allah, return to Him and remind ourselves of these words: If we go to Allah walking, He will come to us with speed. The Prophet (pbuh) told us of another way Allah shows His love to us:
“Our Lord (glorified and exalted be He) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?” (Bukhari)
We have to see – Allah doesn’t need to be like this with us. All He has to do is command, and we should obey. If we don’t obey, it’s our loss. And many of us do not even deserve to have such a relationship with Allah; yet we are told this in order for us to strive to build this relationship of closeness with Allah. We are told this so we never despair and so our hearts fill with love, awe and amazement at our Creator’s Love and Mercy. Ali (R) truly understood this relationship, and this is why he said that if he were given the choice to be judged by his parents on the Day of Judgment, he would refuse. Why? “Because Allah is more merciful to me than my parents.”
When Allah loves a servant
“When Allah loves someone he calls to Jibreel (as) saying, ‘O Jibreel, I love such and such a person, so love him.’ Then Jibreel will call to the (angels) of the heavens, ‘Allah loves such and such a person so love him.’ And the angels will love [that person]. And then Allah will place acceptance on earth for that believer.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
It would have been enough for Allah to say that He loves a person, for what more could someone want? But because Allah is Al-Wadood (the Loving) and Al-Kareem (the Most-Generous), He declares this love to the Angels, which does not stay in the heavens but descends to the earth because Allah puts acceptance of this person in the hearts of people.
So who is eligible for this love?
“…God loves those who do good” (Surat Al Baqara, 2:195) ”
“…God loves those who repent to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean” (Surat Al-Baqara, 2:222) ”
“…God loves those are mindful of Him” (Surat Aal-Imran, 3:76)
“…God loves those who are steadfast” (Surat Aal-Imran, 3:146)
“…God loves those who put their trust in Him” (Surat Aal-Imran, 3:159)
“…God loves the just” (Surat Al-Maida, 5:42)
So not only does Allah love the Prophets (as), the Companions (ra) and the scholars, but all the people listed above as well. And though those who repent are those who committed sins, maybe even grave sins, Allah loves them because they return to Him. By being one of those people above we are eligible to be loved by Allah.
Look at another manifestation of Allah’s love. He says in a hadith qudsi: “Whosoever acts with enmity towards a closer servant of Mine (wali), I will indeed declare war against him.” (Bukhari)
And who are the awliya? ”Now surely the friends (awliya) of Allah – they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve – those who believe and are conscious of God.” (Surat Yunus, 10:62-63)
Allah continues in the same hadith qudsi, showing us how we can be of the awliya: ”Nothing endears My servant to Me than doing of what I have made obligatory upon him to do. And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with the supererogatory(nawafil) so that I shall love him.”
That’s it? Start with the obligatory and then add the things that are sunnah? Then what happens?
“When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.” (Bukhari)
Our problem is that we invest so much in people’s love, yet forget that the everlasting love is that of Allah. Some of us are taught to believe that because of our sins, we can never be eligible for this love, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The examples above are only a tiny glimpse of Allah’s dealings with us. May we always be of those who have hope in Allah’s Love and Mercy and seek to get closer to Him. Ameen.
The above was adapted from a lecture by Amr Khaled.
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A. Silence (الصمت) is to refrain from speaking falsely; not truthfully.
الصمت إمساك عن قول الباطل دون الحق – الكفوي الكليات
Silence (الصمت) differs from not speaking (السكوت) in three ways:
1. Not speaking is to leave off speech despite being capable of it. Capability is not a consideration in defining silence.
2. Silence (الصمت) also involves a relative period of time. If someone were to close his lips for a brief moment he would be described as not speaking (ساكىت). He would only be described as silent (صامت) if the period of his being closed-mouthed endured for an extended period of time.
3. Not speaking (السكوت) involves a failure to speak, whether one refrains from uttering truth or falsehood; whereas silence (الصمت) involves refraining from speaking falsehood.
Protecting the Tongue (حفظ اللسان) is protecting the tongue from lying, slander, tale-carrying, false speech and other things that have been forbidden in the Divine Law.
A.1. Imam al-Marwardi mentions four conditions for protecting the tongue from slipping into sin:
1. There has to be an issue that calls for the speech; either to secure a benefit or to repulse harm.
2. To speak in a manner appropriate for the subject and to speak at the proper time.
3. To limit the speech to exactly what is needed.
4. To carefully choose ones words.
A.2. Some Etiquettes Related to the Tongue
1. Not to engage in exaggerated praise.
2. Not to allow fear or hope to push one to make promises or threats one will not be able to fulfill.
3. That ones actions are consistent with ones speech.
4. That ones tone is consistent with the topic one is addressing.
5. That one does not raise ones voice to a repulsive level.
6. That one avoids direct mention of indecent subjects. Rather, one should use allegorical speech when discussing such matters.
7. One should avoid the slang of lowlife, riffraff elements. Rather the jargon of scholars and literary figures should be employed when appropriate.
A.3. Texts From the Hadith Concerning Silence and Holding Ones Tongue
The Prophet, peace upon him, said, “From a person’s Islam being good is his leaving what does not concern him.” *Note: This includes leaving speech that does not concern him.
The Prophet, peace upon him, mentioned, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak well or remain silent.”
The Prophet, peace upon him, was asked, “Which Muslim is best?” He responded, “One who the other Muslims are safe; from his tongue and his hand.”
Ibn Mas’ud mentioned that he asked the Prophet, peace upon him, “Which action is best?” He replied, “Prayer performed on time.” He asked, “Then which, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “That people are safe from your tongue.”
Mundhari, al-Targhib, 3:523
The Prophet, peace upon him, said, “All of the speech of the Child of Adam will be held against him, it will not be in his favor; except commanding good, forbidding wrong, or the remembrance of Allah.”
The Prophet, peace upon him, mentioned, “Do not speak excessively in other than the remembrance of Allah, for verily excessive speech in other than the remembrance of Allah hardens the heart, and the heart most distanced from Allah is the hard heart.”
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