“Value five things before five, youth before old age, health before sickness, wealth before poverty, leisure before preoccupation, and life before death.” (Tirmidhi)
In recent years, certain developments have taken place which have brought the subject of music as an extremely significant issue. Music has spread to such an extent that it is afflicting every muslim in this modern era. The increasing popularity of music, which is prevalent in our society poses a tremendous danger for muslims.
Da'wah Tips on Campus
With the new semester underway, campuses all across the nation are welcoming back students eager to learn, explore and define themselves. This is a perfect environment for any Muslim dedicated to fulfilling the obligation of sharing the message of Islam with others.
Chances are, if you are involved in a campus-based Islamic organization you have already begun to plan various activities and effective ways to draw non-Muslims into the fold of Islam. While this is essential in presenting Islam, the role of the individual is extremely vital as well.
Here are some tips for conveying your Muslim identity on campus:
1- Be willing to let others know that you are a Muslim.
The first day of class usually involves introductions where you can at least let people know you are Muslim. By simply letting people casually know your religion, will allow Islam to become less foreign to them. When introducing yourself, if you toss in that you are a Muslim, you immediately solve a problem for those who have never met a practicing Muslim or heard of Islam.
It is definitely not a situation where you want to preach to people, but it does allow you to indirectly urge people to keep you in mind if they ever have any questions. If you are a sister wearing Hijab, it will also immediately answer questions, and further down the road encourage those that are interested to approach you.
2- Do not be ashamed of practicing your religion.
If it is prayer time, do not think to yourself that you will simply wait till you get home and pray late. Be willing to find a quiet clean spot, perhaps in the union building and make Salat.
Do not make a show of it, but if others happen to see you and ask questions, you will have accomplished a positive first step by achieving dialogue. If someone is willing to ask questions, chances are they are willing to listen to an answer. By providing insight and being an example, you will have given someone something to think about at the very least.
3- Don not be afraid to quote the Quran in your writing.
In nearly every paper you have to write, you are required to include outside sources. Whether it be a business class, a philosophy class or a science class, chances are, the Quran makes some statement or reference that could provide a useful quote.
People of other faiths are constantly quoting their religious text and with Islam being a complete way of life, this allows it to be a useful tool and should be presented as such. Dropping quotes from the Quran will most probably spark some interesting discussions and provide an intellectual environment to share basic Islamic knowledge with teachers and classmates.
4- Take responsibility in following up with those that seem interested.
There are few things as tragic as when someone is interested in Islam and there is no one willing to take the time to help them and answer their questions.
If someone approaches you and begins asking questions, get contact information, something as easy as an e-mail address can keep you in touch with them. Invite them to the Masjid or J.K which could help provide more insight into Islam and introduce them to more Muslims.
5- Get involved.
Getting involved in campus activities allows you to meet new people and gives you the opportunity to share your beliefs with them as you get to know them and work with them.
Bringing awareness to Islam through your actions will not only open doors for you to share Islam with others, but will also keep you from straying or from getting involved in something unIslamic.
It is also important to get involved in Islamic organizations. If your school has an� Islamic group or organization on campus, be willing to dedicate some time to it.
If they have a table where they distribute literature, sit at the table and answer questions. If even one person remembers you and asks you questions later, or listens to your explanation of Islam, that will be one more person you will have helped.
If your group has regular meetings, make posters or stick signs on bulletin boards inviting others to attend. It may catch someone’s attention who has been looking for a place to learn more about Islam and has had no idea where to begin looking.
6- Always consider yourself an example of Islam.
Whether people know you are Muslim or not, if you are always working to please Allah, sooner or later those around you will question why you do what you do and what dictates your moral behavior and modesty.
People believe what they see, and if they see you being a good example of a Muslim, they will take what you are saying and the religion itself more seriously.
7- Keep it simple.
Once you get the dialogue going, remember to keep it simple. You don’t want to scare people away with things that they are not going to understand the first time you approach them. If things seem difficult, people generally do not pursue them. You may want to think in advance what you would tell someone if they asked, it sounds silly, but you may only get one opportunity to share the beauty of Islam with them.
8- Do not pretend to know everything by being disrespectful.
While you are trying to present Islam, other religions are out doing the same and confrontations can get ugly.
If you are approached by someone of a different faith, working to inform you, you may want to listen with the condition that they in turn listen to you. By understanding each other and respecting one another both parties can grow.
If done in a manner to increase understanding, rather than see who can yell the loudest, the truth of Islam may enter their hearts and change them. By seeing everyone with the potential to be a Muslim, you will be less condoning and disrespectful in your encounters, and hopefully more successful.
Are you one of those people who rarely touches the Quran? Or do you read daily, but don't find it is having the impact on you that it should? Whatever the case may be, these are some simple tips that can help you connect with the Quran.
Valentines Day, Birthdays,
and Other Daze
What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.
There is a group of practices that we can consider as the twin sister of bid'ah. Like bid'ah they flourish on the twin foundations of ignorance and outside influence. Like bid'ah they entail rituals. But unlike bid'ah the rituals have not been given an Islamic face. They are followed because they are considered an acceptable cultural practice or the hottest imported "in" thing.
Most of those who indulge in them do not know what they are doing. They are just blind followers of their equally blind cultural leaders. Little do they realize that what they consider as innocent fun may in fact be rooted in paganism. That the symbols they embrace may be symbols of unbelief. That the ideas they borrow may be products of superstition. That all of these may be a negation of what Islam stands for.
Consider Valentine's Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries.
Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine's Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for "entertainment and pleasure"--until the next year's lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the "sacred" thongs by these "holy men" was believed to make them better able to bear children.
As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing inRome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.
The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a "lovers'" saint, who had himself fallen in
love with his jailer's daughter.
Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine's Day cards called--- what else--- valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth--when $5,000 was a lot of money--the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.
It is the same story with Halloween, which has otherwise normal human beings dressing like ghosts and goblins in a reenactment of an ancient pagan ritual of demon worship. Five star hotels in Muslim countries arrange Halloween parties so the rich can celebrate the superstitions of a distant period of ignorance that at one time even included the shameful practice of human sacrifice. The pagan name for that event was Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Just as in case of Valentine's Day, Christianity changed its name, but not the pagan moorings.
Christmas is another story. Today Muslim shopkeepers sell and shoppers buy Christmas symbols inIslamabad or Dubai or Cairo. To engage in a known religious celebration of another religion is bad enough. What is worse is the fact that here is another pagan celebration (Saturnalia) that has been changed in name ---and in little else--- by Christianity.
Even the celebration considered most innocent might have pagan foundations. According to one account, in pagan cultures, people feared evil spirits - especially on their birthdays. It was a common belief that evil spirits were more dangerous to a person when he or she experienced a change in their daily life, such as turning a year older. So family and friends surrounded the person with laughter and joy on their birthdays in order to protect them from evil.
How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti- Islamic ideas and beliefs? Islam came to destroy paganism in all its forms and it cannot tolerate any trace of it in the lives of its followers.
Further, Islam is very sensitive about maintaining its purity and the unique identity of its followers. Islamic laws and teachings go to extra lengths to ensure it. Salat is forbidden at the precise times of sunrise, transition, and sunset to eliminate the possibility of confusion with the practice of sun worship. To the voluntary recommended fast on the tenth of Muharram, Muslims are required to add another day (9th or 11th) to differentiate it from the then prevalent Jewish practice. Muslims are forbidden to emulate the appearance of non-Muslims.
A Muslim is a Muslim for life. During joys and sorrows, during celebrations and sufferings, we must follow the one straight path --- not many divergent paths. It is a great tragedy that under the constant barrage of commercial and cultural propaganda from the forces of globalization and the relentless media machine, Muslims have begun to embrace the Valentines, the Halloween ghost, and even the Santa Claus. Given our terrible and increasing surrender to paganism the only day we should be observing is a day of mourning. Better yet it should be a day of repentance that could liberate us from all these days. And all this daze.
By Khalid Baig