The Man Who Has Played Role of God Sets Out To Study Him


In the Name of God: The Eternally and Extremely Loving and Caring

“I have always been fascinated by God.”

So says Morgan Freeman, the Academy Award-winning actor known, among many other things, for playing the role of God in films such as Bruce Almighty. Now, he sets out on an amazing journey to study God and how He is worshiped all across the globe.

Premiering Sunday April 3 on National Geographic Channel, “The Story of God”:

seeks to understand how religion has evolved throughout the course of civilization, and in turn how religion has shaped the evolution of society. Although in our current geopolitical landscape, religion is often seen as something that divides, the series illuminates the remarkable similarities among different faiths, even those that seem to be in staunch contrast. This is a quest for God: to shed light on the questions that have puzzled, terrified and inspired mankind, not to mention Freeman himself.

Said Morgan Freeman himself about the series:

Over the past few months, I’ve traveled to nearly 20 cities in seven different countries on a personal journey to find answers to the big mysteries of faith. I’ve sung the call to prayer at a mosque in Cairo, taken meditation lessons from the Buddhist leader of the oldest line of reincarnating Lamas, discussed Galileo with the head of the Papal Academy of Sciences and explored the first instructions for the afterlife rendered in hieroglyphs inside the pyramids. In some places I found answers, and others led to more questions. The constant through it all is that we’re all looking to be part of something bigger than us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we certainly are.

Read the rest and see the trailer at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/02/the-man-who-has-played-role-of-god-sets-out-to-study-him.html#ABXaEfev1udQvV1A.99

Pillar of “Native Deen” Goes Out On His Own


In the Name of God: The Everlastingly and Extremely Loving and Caring

Native Deen is one of the oldest and most popular American Muslim hip hop groups. It is my absolute favorite, and I have grown up listening to their songs. In fact, way back in the 1980s group member Joshua Salaam and I went to the same religious summer school, and I remember listening to him drop hip hop rhymes with effortless mastery way back then. Their songs are at once educational, inspirational, and consoling, all the while treating listeners with amazing hip hop beats and lyrics. If you haven’t heard of them, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Yet, it is natural to wonder: what are their musical talents individually? What would they do if they broke up?
Read the rest at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#iFJFaRJsOEEUSur0.99

Join Me on “The Doc Is In”


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I am grateful to our Lord to announce my new blog, “The Doc Is In.” I have been wanting to write a blog that focuses mainly on medicine and the practice of medicine today for a long time now. By the grace of God, I have finally done so.

The blog is at: http://www.chicagonow.com/doc-is-in

It will mainly be about health and medicine, and I plan to share some of my perspective as a medical professional.

Of course, I will still maintain this blog (and my column at Beliefnet). But, make sure to check out my stuff there too.

My first post is: “Tragedy’s Silver Lining.”

Look forward to seeing you there and all my blogs and columns.

God bless you and all of us. Amen.

One Is Too Many, But “Islamic Terrorism” Threat Is Small


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Don’t get me wrong. Even one American Muslim either thinking about, or planning, or trying to commit an act of terror is too many. Each case is a failure, on multiple levels. Yet, if one hears pundits, so-called “terrorism experts,” and politicians – especially those in the GOP – speak, he or she would think that there is a Muslim waiting on every corner of this beautiful country ready to pounce and kill at will.

The truth, thank God, is very different than the rhetoric…
Read the rest of the post here: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/02/one-is-too-many-but-islamic-extremist-threat-is-small.html#ixzz3z8RmO9zy

ISIS Cannot Be Reading The Same Qur’an As The Rest Of Us


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I could not believe my eyes when I read the headline: “ISIS Militant ‘Kills His Own Mother’ In Public Raqqa Execution.”

A member of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) killed his own mother in a public execution in the city of Raqqa on Thursday, according to activists.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the Syrian civil war using a wide network of sources on the ground, and Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, an activist group inside the ISIS-held city, both reported the execution.

Ali Saqr, 20, reportedly killed his 45-year-old mother Leena Al-Qasem “for apostasy” in front of an audience of hundreds of people outside a post office building where she was employed in the city.

I didn’t think the savages of ISIS could stoop any lower than killing innocents in Paris or Istanbul. Clearly, however, I was wrong.

Yet, such savagery shows that these monsters cannot be reading the same Qur’an as the rest of the Muslim faithful…

Read the rest at: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2016/01/isis-cannot-be-reading-the-same-quran-as-the-rest-of-us.html#ixzz3xBc81RPI

Let Us Be People of Impact in 2016


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I heard an amazing talk by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan of Bayyinah Institute at the recently held MAS-ICNA Conference in Chicago. I wanted to summarize the excellent points he made in this post, all the while acknowledging that these words here do not even begin to do justice to the eloquence of the speech Ustadh Nouman gave.

He began his talk speaking about our American Declaration of Independence, which mentioned certain unalienable Rights:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, the pursuit of Happiness is perhaps the easiest one to achieve. For many people, eating a piece of chocolate can make them happy (including yours truly). There are other pursuits that are “higher” and take more work to achieve.

There is a pursuit for “Cool.” People pursue “being cool,” doing whatever the “cool kids” are doing so he or she can be like them. The song “Cool Kids” by Echosmith taps into this age-old pursuit on the part of many young people.

Others wish to pursue Popularity. They will do whatever to be the center of attention, to get the most “likes” on Facebook or the most “retweets” on Twitter. They thrive on being in the limelight all the time.

Others strive to pursue Prestige. They want to wear the nicest clothes; drive the fanciest cars; live in the most exclusive zip codes; and be counted among the most elite of people.

Still others work to pursue Money. They will do whatever it takes to make more and more money, to accumulate more and more wealth. They may look like paupers, but they are in fact worth millions. They could care less about anything else…except money.

Then there are those who pursue Excellence. They want to be the very best of the best; they are the ones who are not happy with a “B+,” but only want and expect an “A+” of themselves. They are those students, we all know who they are, who ruined the curve for the rest of us and would argue over the one point they missed on the exam.

Finally, over and above these, are those who pursue Impact. These people want to make a difference in the world around them. They want to make wherever they set foot a better place.

Of course, there are other pursuits that are not mentioned here. Nevertheless, these seven pursuits form a sort of pyramid, with each level requiring more and more work and containing fewer and fewer numbers of people.

Ustadh said that we should strive to be people of impact. We should strive to have an impact in the world around us, to make wherever we are a better place. This is the spirit of this hadith, which was reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad:

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.”

Clearly, the person in the hadith will not see the sapling become a tree, but the Prophet (pbuh) still said to plant the sapling anyway.

In fact, that is the challenge of being people of impact: it is very likely we will not see the results of our work. Yet, that is not the point: the point is the effort itself, and God the Beloved will see that effort to its end. And, with His will, He will reward us handsomely for it.

Remember the prayer of Abraham (pbuh):

O our Lord: Behold, I have settled some of my offspring in a valley in which there is no arable land, close to Your sanctified Temple, so that, Our Lord, they might devote themselves to prayer. Cause Thous, therefore, people’s hearts to incline towards them and grand them fruitful sustenance, to that they might have cause to be grateful. (14:37)

He made this prayer when Mecca was empty desert. Look at Mecca now. Did Abraham see the fruits of his efforts? No. But he made them anyway.

The very mission of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was also the result of the prayer of Abraham, made at the very same time when Mecca was desert:

O our Lord! Raise up from the midst of our offspring an apostle from among themselves, who shall convey unto them Your messages and impart unto them revelation as well as wisdom, and cause them to grow in purity: for, verily, You along are Almighty, Truly Wise (2:129)

The Prophet (pbuh) came centuries later, and again, Abraham never lived to see the fruits of his efforts. He still made them anyway. So should it be with us.

Whatever it is that we can do: writing, speaking, volunteering, supporting financially, etc., we should use the talent God gave us and try to make a positive impact on the world around us. No effort is too small because, when we do the work and ask God for His help, the results will be both blessed and amazing.

Moreover, the pursuit of Impact will give us amazing byproducts. It will necessarily make us people of Excellence. And, God willing, He will make the earth and whatever is in it subservient to us during our quest to make this earth a better place. It is truly a win-win situation for all.

And so, as we mark the end of one year and the beginning of another, let us resolve to make 2016 the year when we begin on the path of the pursuit of Impact. And may the Beautiful, Beloved Lord our God bless our path on that pursuit and make our impact on this world as amazing as it could be.

A very Happy, Blessed, and Prosperous New Year to you and your family.

Let Scripture Be Your Guide To A Better You In The New Year


In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Whenever a transition in time occurs, such as the passing of the New Year, it is natural for human beings to reflect over the past and look forward to the future. Hence, many people will be making New Year’s resolutions, and there will be no shortage of people telling  you and me how best to improve ourselves in the coming year. This is all well and good.

Yet, the best “expert” on self-improvement is looking straight at us in the mirror. We know ourselves the best, and we are the best judge of what flaws we have that need improvement. And we can let Scripture help us on this journey of self-betterment.

Just as I wrote during the Islamic New Year, the Qur’an offers several verses and passages that can be used as “personal improvement checklists.” Here is such a verse…