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How much are you willing to spend?

Previously we talked about the companions spending their wealth in the cause of Islam, mainly to support the work of spreading Islam and helping  those in need.  We have pointed out that although the companions spent their wealth for others, it doesn’t mean that Islam forbid us from pursuing wealth.

But what inspires the companions and people of faith to give their wealth, possessions and assets to others? , the wealth that they had  worked so hard to acquire? 

Reading surah al-Hadid from beginning to end, we will discover a great secret that we ourselves may have been groping to find  before.  How to give birth to a generation that gives all their possessions in the cause of the ad-deen?

What was the great motivation from heaven that had caused them to want to help the government led by Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم without the slightest feeling of loss or regret  from the  properties that were spent?

ءآمِنوا بِاللهِ وَرَسولِهِ وَأَنفِقوا مِمّا جَعَلَكُم مُّستَخلَفينَ فيهِ ۖ فَالَّذينَ ءآمَنوا مِنكُم وَأَنفَقوا لَهُم أَجرٌ كَبيرٌ    

 “Believe in Allāh and His Messenger and spend out of that in which He has made out successive inheritors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward.” (Al-Hadid: 57)

May we be among those who will spend in the cause  of deen.

Source:  Ustadh Syaari Ab Rahman

Islam and material wealth

We’ve always been bombarded with stories of the prophet’s companions donating all their money and material wealth.  Prophet Muhammad SAW himself is known to being poor.  Does this means Islam is against wealth and into poverty?

According to Ustadh Kamilin Jamilin, PhD, Islam is never against the ummah seeking and exploring the world for wealth as we are  actually encouraged to find wealth through ways that are  guided and permitted in Islam.  Making an effort to gather wealth would be one of the many ways to help others in need, as long as we put Allah first.  Allah Himself has instructed us to seek for His overflowing rizq.  

فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةُ فَٱنتَشِرُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱبْتَغُوا۟ مِن فَضْلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱذْكُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

And when the prayer is ended , then disperse in the land and seek Allah ‘ s bounty , and remember Allah much , that ye may be successful . (AlJumuah verse 10)

This is why in Islam,  we have zakat  as  one of the Five Pillar of Islam . It denotes  a duty for every Muslims who  meets the criteria of wealth to contribute back to those in need.  All wealth comes from Allah so that we would be able to share with others from what was made through us.  In our wealth, there is the rizq of others too.

نِعْمَ الْمَالُ الصَّالِحُ لِلْمَرْءِ الصَّالِحِ

“O ‘Amr! How excellent lawful wealth is in the hands of a righteous person!”

(Sahih. Ahmad and Al-Bukhari).

One of Prophet Muhammad’s companions, Umar al-Khattab initiated the Bayt al-Mal (Malay:  Baitul Mal), or House of Weatlh in 634CE, to administer the society’s  wealth distribution.  Uthman al-Affan who ruled the Islamic Caliphate after Umar even instructed the Bayt al-Mal  institution to administer savings for the future generation.  

This shows the importance of wealth in Islam and the vital instruction that  wealth is not for the greatest benefit of certain individuals and exclusive groups only.  In this light, Islam preaches equitable  distribution of wealth and abhors a socio-economic system that  breeds and condones wealth inequality between members of society.  Wealth sharing in Islam  is for the nurturing and strengthening of social solidarity, and not for social disintegration which will weaken a society.

May Allah make us among those who spend our wealth for charity.  Ameen.

Sources:  sunnah.com, https://today.salamweb.com/

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Women’s empowerment: Western vs Islamic Worldview

Given that Muslim societies generally have been slow to give women the empowerment that the Quran and the sunnah had granted them, it is not too farfetched to say that in the face of this systemic weakness it is women themselves who have to always be on the alert, to come forward, and do whatever they can to protect and defend themselves. In short, to mobilise themselves in order to restore the empowerment that is their God-given right.

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Forgive to be Forgiven

“How could you do this to me?”

“I will never forgive you.”

There must be a time when we’ve been hurt by someone. Whether it’s the words that wound the heart or the action that wound the body, it’s  part of life. Nevertheless, these wounds can leave us with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But, wait. Those ill feelings, are they really worth it?

Calm down. Firstly, life is short. Let us not waste our energy on being angry at our adversaries and seeking revenge against them. If we can gradually minimise our spite every day, then soon we will cease to bear hatred or malice in our hearts.

Know what? There is a direct correlation between the way we treat others and how Allah treats us. We all know the Prophet’s hadith: 

Have mercy on those on the Earth, and the One in heaven will have mercy on you” [Tirmidhi].

 Of course, Allah is incomparably greater and more merciful than us. Therefore, whatever we do to and for others, Allah will multiply it for us. If we are sincere in wanting Allah to forgive us for our many mistakes and sins, we should be prepared to do the same for others.

Yes, there will be situations in life that will make you angry or rattled. But our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us that true strength is when you can overcome your anger. He said,

“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger” [Sahih al Bukhari].

Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was so kind and forgiving with all, no matter if he is a believer or non-believer. We have so many inspiring examples from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about his forgiving others and showing kindness to even those who were so rude to him. Cool, right?

It is said: “To err is human and to forgive is divine.” Both parts of this statement are true. As human beings we ought to be responsible for what we have done, but we ourselves do also make mistakes and are constantly in need of forgiveness.

Here is a simple question to ask yourself. Don’t you want forgiveness from Allah? If forgiveness from Allah is what you’re looking for, let us rush into forgiving others. We only give forgiveness that is finite and what Allah can give us in exchange is infinite, as His mercy and forgiveness are infinite. What a beautiful exchange!  So, it’s your choice: either your anger weighs more or your love for forgiveness from Allah weighs more!

We cannot change the past, but we can certainly use it to empower ourselves and become a better person going forward. Let’s forgive to be forgiven!

Going to the Masjid (Part 2): A First-Time Guide for Reverts

Yeay! You’re finally going to the Masjid (mosque) for the first time. There are things you need to know about how visitors are expected to conduct themselves upon entering and while being in the mosque: 

1. You have to take off your shoes

Please note that you have to take off your shoes before entering the mosque. There have been  many cases where new Muslims, or interested non-Muslims, accidentally entered the mosque without taking off their shoes. This is especially true of visitors from non-Asian countries where taking off shoes and leaving them outside the door is not part of their culture.

The reason for requiring visitors to take off shoes before entering the mosque is hygiene, an aspect which is much emphasised in Islam, especially for a holy place such as the mosque. This is how the floor of the mosque is kept clean, especially for prayers, such that you can even sit and sleep on it.

2. There are separate areas for men and women 

Don’t go to the wrong entrance! There are separate areas for men and women in the mosque. Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder in line but within the same gender group, not intermixed. They either have an entirely separate area between the sexes, or in the case of a very big prayer hall, a shared but divided space to prevent free mixing of males and females. Please beware of which area you’re going to. 

3. Attire inside the mosque

If you’re a non-Muslim, or a newly reverted Muslim, please note that you must dress properly while in the mosque. The mosque is a holy place for Muslims to perform their sacred rituals. Females must cover their heads and wear full length, all body-covering, and non-body hugging attire. Likewise, guys ought to dress decently. 

Going to the Masjid (Part 1): Knowing the Masjid

You’re a new Muslim and you’re going to a Masjid? Yeay! It’s going to be fun. You’re going to meet new friends, you’re going to learn more on Islam, and maybe there’s even free food there. LOL. But wait a minute. Before you go, please take note of several things. Now, let’s go to the Masjid!    

As a new Muslim revert, there are so many things you will learn and do for the first time. And these first-time things in your new beautiful religion will always stick in your memories. 

You’ll always remember how your heart raced the moment you said Shahadah (your declaration of belief in the oneness of God and on Muhammad as his final Prophet) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the moment you raised your hands and said the Takbiratul Ihram in your solat (prayer) for the first time. 

You’ll always remember the satisfaction of  withstanding the hunger and hardship in completing your Ramadhan fast for the first time, or how hard it was to memorise the al-Fatihah verses for the first time.

But how about your experience of going to the mosque for the first time? 

It may be easy to visualise in your mind about the mosque if you are a born Muslim. You may have been there since the time you learned to walk.  But as reverts, non-Muslims and those who have never been inside a mosque, have you ever imagined what the mosque is like?

Reverts going to the mosque for the first time have varied experiences. Some are fun and exciting experiences, some enlightening,  and some even awkward. Before any untoward experience happens to you, it is advisable that you get to know some basic things about the mosque. 

What is a mosque?

If you have been in a typical  Muslim country, you must have heard a loud calling for prayers five times a day. The sound comes from the mosque (masjid), as a sign that the praying time has come.

The Arabic term masjid simply means “place of prostration”. A mosque is a building in which Muslims worship Allah by performing the congregational (jama’ah) prayers . It is also a local  community centre for Muslims. 

The role of the mosque has frequently been misconceived as a place for spedific worship rituals only. Ideally, a mosque should also be a centre of Muslim development, knowledge and welfare. 

It is a symbol of unity and strength of the Muslim community. Muslims praying in neat rows (saff), shoulder to shoulder, regardless of rich or poor, old or young, black or white, signify  that everyone is equal before Allah.

What do mosques look like?

Mosques come in all shapes and sizes, based on the density of the Muslim population in a certain area. A distinct feature common to most mosques is the minaret, a slim tower  normally used to make the daily call (adhan) to prayers. Some mosques have more than one minaret.

Other features common to mosques are a dome, a mihrab (an indention in the wall for the imam who leads the prayer, and marks the direction of qiblah (the Holy Mosque in Mecca),  and a mimbar (a raised platform on which the khutbah or speeches are delivered).

What does the interior of the mosque look like?

The most significant area inside a mosque is of course the praying hall. This is where the Muslims pray. Depending on the size of the mosque, and the number of people in the local Muslim community, some mosques do have a big and vast praying hall, while some others have a smaller one. At the front side of the praying hall is where the mihrab is, which indicates the direction of qiblah

A qiblah refers to the direction faced by Muslims performing prayers. Muslims are instructed to face in the direction of the Kaabah in Mecca while praying. One important aspect to be understood here is that  Muslims do not worship the Kaabah. Rather, the Muslims direct their worship only to Allah. The Kaabah is merely a symbolic unifying focal point for the entire Muslim world:    

To Allah belongs the East and the West. Wherever you turn, there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is all-Pervading, all-Knowing” (Quran 2:115)

So, basically no matter where the mosque is, it will always face toward the qiblah, as a symbol of universal unity among Muslims in worshiping one God. Thus, a qiblah in London will face to the south east and a qiblah in Kuala Lumpur will face to the west. 

Another thing you’ll see inside the mosque is the ablution area. Muslims are commanded to make ablution (wudhu’) as a part of preparation to pray. In some mosques , a separate space for ablution is set in a restroom or washroom. In others, the place for ablution is a fountain-like structure along a wall or in a courtyard.