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.

In Praise of the Prophet: Poem for the Mawlid

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring
In honor of the Mawlid of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (pbuh), I penned this never-before-seen poem:


The sun, and day, are hot yet still ’twas dark
The brute and bully reigned with no regard
The lack of light shined forth and was so stark
The lack of light made life so rough and hard

And in this muck of being came His light
Before his coming, father passed away
Along the way, his mother sees great sight
And told to call His Name as she did lay

And then he came, in splendor large and grand
The son of chieftain grand, who basked in glow
As breath was taken slow, she held his hand
And he with Grace and Light of God did glow

“The Praised” became the name of this pure child
At last! The world will bask again in light
On path of Jesus Christ he tames the wild
And brings the Light of God for all in sight

My Lord, My God! I am not worthy true
To have his face become of dust and blood
And yet, shed blood he did as message grew
With wisdom flowing as fast as Great Flood

For God so loved the world that He me sent
A Bearer true, the son of Patriarch
With Word of Truth and Love that can’t be bent
Who calls that we, to God with love, embark

And thus, we must each day to all proclaim
The Grace in which we bask all day and night
And We must never feel at all ashamed
That we are blessed inside Muhammad’s light

How Can Islam Be “Inspired by Satan” When It Honors Jesus So Much?

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

“Make no mistake about it,” he said from the pulpit in downtown Dallas, “Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself.”

These are the words of Rev. Robert Jeffress, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. This church is one of the largest and most influential members of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he uttered those words on the Sunday after the ISIS attacks in Paris. He received a standing ovation at the end of the sermon.

At first, this disturbs me deeply because, if such words were uttered at a mosque anywhere in this country about Christianity or Judaism, it would be (rightly so) condemned vociferously. It is not befitting a house of worship to attack another faith as “inspired by Satan.”

On the other hand, however, such comments also baffle me because, as a Christian Pastor, Rev. Jeffress should know that Islam greatly honors Jesus and his mother Mary.

Take this passage from the third chapter of the Qur’an:

O my Lord! Behold, to You do I vow [the child] that is in my womb, to be devoted to Thy service. Accept it, then, from me: verily, You alone art all-hearing, all-knowing!

But when she had given birth to the child, she said: “O my Lord! Behold, I have given birth to a female”— while God had been fully aware of what she would give birth to, and [fully aware] that no male child [she might have hoped for] could ever have been like this female — and I have named her Mary. And verily, I seek Your protection for her and her offspring against Satan, the accursed.

And thereupon her Lord accepted the girl-child with goodly acceptance, and caused her to grow up in goodly growth… (3:35-37).

These verses are full of praise for the Virgin Mary, where God says that no male child that the mother of Mary may have hoped for could ever be like this female Mary.

Does this sound like a faith “inspired by Satan himself”?

In another passage of the Qur’an, God sets forth none other than the Virgin Mary as the best example a believer can follow:

And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed of Our spirit into that [which was in her womb], and who accepted the truth of her Lord’s words—and [thus] of His revelations—and was one of the truly devout (66:12).

In fact, the Virgin Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

Does this sound like a faith “inspired by Satan himself”?

The Qur’an has even more praise about her son, Jesus Christ.

The story of Jesus’s birth is told twice in the Qur’an (3:42-27 and 19:16-33). The Qur’an recounts the miracle of Jesus speaking in his infancy (3:46 and 19:29-33) and of Jesus healing the blind, curing lepers and raising the dead (5:110). The Qur’an also talks about how Jesus used to fashion birds out of clay and breathe life into them, by the permission of God (3:49). There may even be a reference to the Last Supper in the Qur’an as well (5:112-116).

Could this be from a faith that is “inspired by Satan himself”?

Jesus in the Qur’an is “honored in the world and the hereafter, and one of the intimates of God” (3:45). Jesus in the Qur’an is “in the ranks of the righteous” (6:85). Jesus in the Qur’an is described as a “word, from God, which God sent down to Mary [and] a spirit from Him” (4:171). The Qur’an even says that Jesus was strengthened with the “Holy Spirit” (2:253, 5:110), although classical commentators have interpreted “Holy Spirit” to mean the Angel Gabriel or divine inspiration.

Could all this praise for Jesus Christ be “inspired by Satan himself”?

No, Muslims do not believe that Jesus is divine or that he is part of the Godhood. Neither do Jews. But, how can this then mean that Islam is “inspired by Satan himself”?

If more people, especially some in the Christian community, would just learn more about Islam – from real, unbiased sources – they would see how much honor and praise Islam has for Christ and his mother. They would see how much more Islam and Christianity has in common, the disagreement about Jesus notwithstanding.

If more people knew the truth about Islam, they would see that Muslims are not “the enemy,” but rather brothers and sisters under the very same God who love Jesus and his mother so very much. If only more people knew the truth…

Shame on Wheaton College: Muslims and Christians DO Worship Same God

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

I was quite surprised when I read the news.

Tenured Wheaton College professor, Larycia Hawkins, was suspended because she claimed that Muslims and Christians worship the same God:

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she wrote in a Facebook post on December 10. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

In response, the College issued this statement explaining its actions:

Wheaton College faculty and staff make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity,” the college stated in announcing the decision. “As they participate in various causes, it is essential that faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college’s evangelical Statement of Faith.

There is a common contention among many evangelical Christians that Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God. Yet, as the Professor said herself, this contention goes against a great deal of historical and religious evidence…

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2015/12/yes-christains-and-muslims-do-worship-the-same-god.html#ixzz3ugOcRS6L

“Shining Bright” in God’s Love

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

There are many times that the songs I may happen to hear will cause me to frown. So much of popular music today is comprised of lyrics that are questionable (at the absolute best) in their morality and message. Yet, sometimes, a song will come along that strikes a deep chord in me. Such is the case with Echosmith’s song, “Bright”:

I think the Universe is on my side/Heaven and Earth have finally aligned/Days are good, and that’s the way it should be

You sprinkle stardust on my pillowcase/It’s like a moonbeam brushed across my face/Nights are good, and that’s the way it should be

And I see colors in a different way/You make what doesn’t matter fade to gray/Life is good, and that’s the way it should be

I also really like the chorus: 

Did you see that shooting star tonight?/Were you dazzled by the same constellation?/Did you and Jupiter conspire to get me?

I think you and the moon and Neptune got it right, ‘cuz now I’m shining bright/So Bright. Bright, so bright.

Now, the song’s narrator feels this way because she is in love. In fact, she says to her lover: “I get lost in your eyes.” When I hear this song, however, I think of my “shining bright” in the love of God.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2015/08/shining-bright-in-gods-love.html#ixzz3kPQ8Rg1h

“Go And Cling To Her Feet, Because Paradise Is There”

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

The title of this post is the response of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to a man who expressed a desire to perform jihad in the path of God. It is likely that this man was thinking about a military battle. The Prophet (pbuh) instead asked him, “Is your mother alive?” When the man replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Go and cling to her feet, because Paradise is there.”

The duty we have to our parents in general, but to our mothers in particular, is enormous in Islam. The Qur’an is full of references to the duty we have to our parents:

For your Lord has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [your] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in your care, never say [even] “Ugh” to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech and spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: “O my Lord! Bestow Your grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was a child!” (17:23-24)Now [among the best of righteous deeds which] We have enjoined upon humanity [is] goodness towards parents…(29:8)

AND WORSHIP God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents…(4:36)

Say: “Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: “Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents…(6:151)

Read more:  http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#ixzz3ZeQrXItA

Between God’s Love And Mercy

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

This was first published in The Muslim Observer.

Although it is true that God’s Mercy is balanced by God’s Justice, it is still very important to remember the very first thing God highlighted when introducing us to Himself:

All praise and thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God, the Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring. (1:1-2)

God could have used anything to describe Himself in the Fatihah. Yet, He purposefully used these two beautiful words: Al Rahman, Al Raheem. Because of these two attributes of God, we get food to eat and water to drink. We get the warmth of the Sun, the cool breath of the breeze, the soft feel of grass on our bare feet.

Because God is Al Rahman and Al Raheem, we wake up each day and live our lives to the fullest. We stand breathless at the majesty of the blue ocean, its waves gently breaking on the soft sand. We marvel at the unlimited expanse of the Universe, wondering about other worlds that have yet to be discovered.

It is impossible to avoid living and breathing God’s attributes of Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

Thus, the most natural response to all this goodness is gratitude. When one realizes how much she benefits from the goodness of God’s Love and Caring, she cannot help but be grateful. In fact, one can look at the first two verses of Al Fatihah in that manner: “All praise and thanks is due to God” [because He is] The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring.”

And out of this gratitude come our ritual worship and good works. The Prophet (pubh) said this to his wife A’isha, saying that he stood in prayer until his feet swelled because he wanted to be a “grateful servant.”

We pray five times a day because it reminds us of Him, the One to Whom we are so grateful. We refrain from doing what He prohibited, because we are so grateful to Him for all His wondrous gifts. We spend out of the wealth with which He blessed us, because we are so grateful for His blessing us with that wealth in the first place. And it can go on and on.

In fact, when one is grateful, then God has no need for punishing that person. He said it himself in the Qur’an:

What purpose does God fulfill in punishing you if you are grateful and believe, seeing that God is always responsive to gratitude (or, Grateful) and all knowing? (4:147)

The order of the words in the verse is not an accident: God purposefully put gratitude before belief, further indicating that our belief (and subsequent actions) directly come out of our gratitude. When one is grateful to his Lord, then doing what He asks is not a burden. And when one is grateful to her Lord, her love for Him will only grow and blossom.

That is why, truly, “All Praise and Thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God.” And we praise and thank Him always because we are so grateful to Him for all that He has done; we are so grateful for His being Al Rahman, Al Raheem.