Watching the watchers

When news media chooses to give coverage to divisive organizations, it only further legitimizes said organization. Without media coverage, it’s just background noise.

Daily Mirror (mainly, among others) was my go to source for news in Sri Lanka. It used to be. Then I switched to Asian Mirror. Now, I’m considering switching away from Ada Derana.  Why?

In Sri Lanka, we have notoriously divisive organizations stirring up communal violence, now and again. And, I’d like to NOT contribute to the presence of articles that give coverage to such organizations, which in turn give legitimacy.

When news media chooses to give coverage to divisive organizations, it only further legitimizes said organization. Without media coverage, it’s just background noise.

In the past three years, Daily Mirror, Asian Mirror, and now Ada Derana (among English medium sites) have been increasingly, giving voice (a.k.a coverage) to otherwise non existent extremist organizations.

During my short stint in the news media, I was able to understand how the industry operates. It all boils down to profit for the company. And like the sale of a printed copy of a newspaper counts as profit, so too, does a page view.  I don’t want to be counted on as a page view, which in turn drives up revenue due to advertising on these sites.

Why would news sites carry articles of such a nature? Well, it sells (more views, shares, etc…).

A decade ago, expressing negative sentiments regarding a particular religion or community would have been seen as uncivilized, or uneducated. What changed?

The next time you see a link to an article about some fellow claiming that Muslims are becoming extremists or that Muslim culture is against national interests, please, think twice before clicking on it or sharing. Most likely, the headline is just click bait.

In this age where information is freely available at the press of a button, we need to be more responsible in the information we choose to consume. I haven’t visited the Daily Mirror site in three years. I have chosen to not visit such news sites. And if enough of us start doing this…. Insha Allah.

In a crowd of people, who are all talking, the one that gets the most attention ends up influencing the rest.

 

PS. Insha Allah, I hope to post another article on alternative sources for staying up to date with current events.

 

Who created Allah?

Allah SWT has no end and no beginning, since, He is the creator of all things, including time. For lack of better words, he is without (as opposed to ‘within’) time.

Warning: This article might cause headaches. (Knowledge of cosmology might lessen the headaches.)

Context (Al Big Bang)

The Big Bang Theory puts forward that 13.7 BILLION years ago, all the matter in the universe (watch the video) was concentrated into a single INCREDIBLY TINY point. This began to enlarge rapidly in a hot explosion, and it is still expanding today.

Also, when watching the video, notice that there’s an edge (boundary) to the expanding universe. Whether we can observe it or not, there’s going to be an edge to the universe (because it’s finite).

Here’s the question, though. “Where was this blob of matter in/on before Al Big Bang?”

Space and Time

So, there’s thing concept of space and time (space-time). For us to say that, the book is on the table means, among many things, that there is something beyond the thing called the book, and that it is currently there (i.e., present tense) = space and time.

Okay, close your eyes and imagine what this ‘space’ or ‘time’ is beyond our universe. Imagine that you’re at the borders of this universe (which is continually expanding). Like on the tip of the waves of a sea that is expanding. Now, picture what you see beyond this universe (whats the sea expanding onto?). Can you?

What images you end up imaging will most probably be a result of what you know and have experienced in your life AND WHAT YOUR BIOLOGY ALLOWS YOU TO IMAGINE.

No Space No Time

All of us can entertain the possibility of ‘no space’ and ‘no time’, but what that will ‘look’ like is something beyond our comprehension/capacity.

So, when people ask questions like, “Who created God” or ‘Who created Allah” they are only using cognitive capacities limited by our biology.

It’s impossible to ‘imagine’ a situation where (or how?) time doesn’t exist.

“Nor There is to Him any equivalent” (Holy Quran 112:4)

So, the answer to the question, ‘Who created Allah,” is that the question, in itself, is invalid.

Allah SWT has no end and no beginning, since, He is the creator of all things, including time. For lack of better words, he is without (as opposed to ‘within’) time.

Why is praying obligatory?

There are many benefits to performing obligatory acts, and they fall under spiritual and material categories. But why make some things obligatory over others?

Allah is Ar Rahman, Ar Raheem.

Have you ever wondered what the wisdom is behind certain things being Wajib/Fard (obligatory) in Islam? For example, why are the five times prayers wajib? Or why is it obligatory to fast in Ramadhan?

Note: What is a wajib? Wajib/Fard is any action that you are rewarded for performing, and punished for abstaining from. i.e., obligatory.

There are many benefits to performing obligatory acts, and they fall under spiritual and material categories. But why make some things obligatory over others?

The answer is connected to the first line in this post. It’s because, Allah (SWT) is Ar Rahman, Ar Raheem.

Allah loves these actions so much, He wants every Muslim to perform it, to the extent that He has made it a point of disbelief if anyone was to deny it (a Fard). What this means is that, performing fard acts draws a believer close to Allah (SWT). Isn’t this a blessing? On the other hand, to deny an obligatory act is just plain spiteful, arrogant and shows ingratitude. Hence, it being a point of disbelief.

The All Mighty loves us so much that, He has made it the bare minimum that we, as believers, get on his good side by performing acts that he loves A LOT! If you, O believer, wish to reciprocate that love (which is impossible, but it’s the intention that matters), then the mustahab/sunnah is the way to go to make Him love you even more.

So my brothers and sisters in Islam, the next time you stand for a Fard salat (prayer), fast in Ramadhan, tell the truth, obey your parents, earn honestly, lower your gaze and guard your chastity, give charity, or perform Hajj, give thanks to Allah (SWT) for making these obligatory on you in His infinite mercy (*hint: Sajdah Shukr).

Relax

I encourage you to share something that makes you feel as relaxed as these cats.

Life is full of tests. Family responsibilities, neighborhood responsibilities, work commitments, debts, social media posts which test sabr, and the list goes on.

That’s why it’s important to relax. And as this post suggests, I’ve decided to share a photo that makes me feel relaxed.

Ihsan, in Islam, is the ability to see Allah SWT through His attributes (Asma ul Husna), e.g., His creations and the qualities that He’s blessed each with.

Rahma (mercy) is one of the greatest Blessings of Allah (and probably one of the most importatnt attribute of Allah SWT) that He could have bestowed on his creations.

This word is derived from the root letters ra, ha, meem, which means the the womb of the mother. When he hear Rahma, what ought to come to mind is the protection, compassion, mercy, and providence that we all experience in the womb.

So, when I feel Rahma towards my family, fellow humans, and animals it is indeed a Blessing that Allah SWT has bestowed me with. When I see these two cats sleeping next to each other, and experience the love and compassion in my heart it helps me relax. It is a sign of Allah SWT.

What would the world be without Ar Rahman and His Rahma?

I encourage you to share something that makes you feel as relaxed as these cats.

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Where is the ‘salam’ in Assalamu Alaykkum?

One of the biggest fears the Rasoolullah (SAW) had for his Ummah (a.k.a us) is that we would fight amongst ourselves based on differences of opinion. This is why he said that Islam has come to liberate the people from the ignorance of tribalism, nationalism, etc… Islam is about diversity, and tolerance.

assalamu alaykkum.” It’s something you hear from another Muslim (or from a savvy non-Muslim). But what does it mean actually? Are you parroting it just because it’s expected? Or do you actually mean it?

And what does it mean to actually mean it?

At the least, it means you don’t mean any harm to your brother/sister in Islam. At the most you are making dua that this person should be blessed with peace.

It a world filled with fear, mistrust, and hate, it is important to understand the hikmah (wisdom) behind this prayer to one another.

Why did the Rasoolullah (SAW) instruct his followers to use this instead of an Arabic equivalent of ‘Hello’ or ‘Greetings’?

When you actively train your heart to intend well to another person, you develop tolerance and unity, and, ultimately, brotherhood.

One of the biggest fears the Rasoolullah (SAW) had for his Ummah (a.k.a us) is that we would fight amongst ourselves based on differences of opinion. This is why he said that Islam has come to liberate the people from the ignorance of tribalism, nationalism, etc… Islam is about diversity, and tolerance.

But, wait.

Isn’t that exactly what we have fallen into, as an Ummah? Each group with one ideology is at each others’ throats. Islam doesn’t need enemies from the outside, Muslims themselves have become the enemy to each other. Even shaythan might feel envious of this state.

Please, for the sake of Allah (SWT), let go of any animosity you may have towards another point of view among Muslims. So long as they believe the Fard (compulsory) as Fard, and mustahab as mustahab, and nafl and nafl, then see them as someone who has said the same shahaadah (“la ilaha illallah muhammadur rasoolullah”) as you have, and belonging to your extended family. Don’t do shaythan’s work for him.

I speak from experience when I say, the day you intend salam on another person (Muslim or not) is the day you will begin to see salam in your own life.

We say salam to one another, but where’s the salam?

Don’t we want Allah SWT to judge us with Mercy? So, show mercy and compassion to one another in this life.

surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition; and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides Him they have no protector.” (13:11)

Are you better than the Best of Creators?

Do you feel that women can’t control their emotions? They talk too much? Seem irrational? Cry a lot? Take forever to say something? Can’t walk/run fast? Can’t do things men can? If so, do you also believe that you could have done a better job at their creation than Allah SWT?

Do you feel that women can’t control their emotions? They talk too much? Seem irrational? Cry a lot? Take forever to say something? Can’t walk/run fast? Can’t do things men can? If so, do you also believe that you could have done a better job at their creation than Allah SWT?

Do you feel that men don’t listen? Are stupid? One-track minded? Can’t control their ‘urges’? Quick to action? If so, do you believe that you could have done a better job at their creation than Allah SWT?

Do you feel cockroaches are hideous? Worms are nauseous? flies are a nuisance? rats are filthy? are some animals just plain ‘ugly’? Do you, then, feel that you could have done a better job than Allah SWT?

Do you feel that Chinese are ‘yellow’? and Indians are ‘brown’? If so, how would have created them better?

Do you feel you’re ‘fat’? or ‘skinny’? or your face looks ‘ugly’? If so, how would you have created yourself better than your Maker?

These feelings and thoughts are sometimes slipped in under the radar, but we must be very careful of such things. All of us, including the animals and the plants, have one fundamental commonality: we are all created by the same Maker. So, don’t fall into one of Shaythan’s traps.

The first racist was Shaythan. How? Shaythan felt superior to Adam AS because he was created with fire while, Adam AS was made from clay. There are many lessons from that incident, but I wanted to highlight just one in this article, insha Allah. To criticize anything based on naturally occurring characteristics is to question your Maker. Shaythan, was not only being proud and arrogant, he was questioning Allah SWT’s:

  1. Choice in His creation
  2. Wisdom in His creation

The next time Shaythan whispers such nonsense, ask yourself this, “Oh, so I could have done a better job than Allah SWT?”

“Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah , the best of creators.”

 (AL-MU’MINUN:14)

Forgive like Abu Bakr (RA)

Even after all this, if I couldn’t bring myself to forgive, then I need to ask myself: Is my grudge greater than entering Jannah (Paradise)? Greater than Allah’s (SWT) Mercy?

Who here knows how to actually forgive someone? to actually forgive ‘wholeheartedly’ , i.e., with no ill feelings or grudges afterwards, and be like nothing ever happened.

This was a question I was struggling with until recently. I wanted to forgive. Just didn’t know how to.

In Arabic, there are 2 sets of root letters that denote forgiveness. One of them is ʿafā (عَفَا). And one of Allah’s (SWT) names is Al Afuw. ‘Afûw is said to be like the desert wind completely obliterating footprints in the sand. This is an image of the wind blowing across the desert vastness and completely erasing all the tracks in the sand. It is as if no one had ever walked there. Such a fundamental image in the root of the word shows us that with al-‘Afuw, you do not even notice the fault.

So, ideally, if we are to forgive it must be like there’s no trace of any fault, whatsoever, left in our hearts.

How on earth are we to do that??

Well, this is what I discovered, by the Will of Allah, and pray that it helps you realize what I did, and help you move forward in life by letting go of all the baggage we’ve accumulated.

  1. Learn about Hellfire and how horrible it is. We may joke about it by saying things like, ‘Go to Hell!’ or ‘See you in Hell,’ but it’s no laughing matter. I, for one, would not like to even spend one second in it, let alone go anywhere near it. If there’s any goodness left in my heart I’d not wish such a horrible fate on anyone. Not even my sworn enemy.
  2. I would want Allah SWT to spare me from such a fate by seeking His forgiveness. By forgiving someone, as per the metaphor of  ‘Afûw, I am eligible to earn His Forgiveness and Mercy. Allah knows best, but what if that one instance of mercy on my part is my ticket into Paradise (Jannah)? And what is better than Allah’s (SWT) mercy?
  3. Also, the only being who’ll never want any Son of Adam to escape Hellfire is Shaitan. By holding onto grudges I am putting myself extremely close to his character (sunnah) of seeking vengeance, and wishing ill on others.
  4. Even after all this, if I couldn’t bring myself to forgive, then I need to ask myself: Is my grudge greater than entering Jannah (Paradise)? Greater than Allah’s (SWT) Mercy?

Mercy is a fundamental aspect of Islam. When Allah SWT suggested that it was better for Abu Bakr (RA) to forgive Mistah for the Al Ifk incident which involved his own daughter, A’isha (RA), it highlights the importance of mercy and forgiveness in Islam. Nothing is greater than Allah’s (SWT) Mercy.

Forgive others, wholeheartedly, and earn Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness for yourself.