Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween in Islam

Halloween: To say "hello" to it or not?

By Abu Muhammad Yusuf

Islam is a complete way of life. Its wisdom is profound. What Islam prescribes and what it prohibits is always of tremendous benefit for humanity as a whole.

Every year, on the evening of October 31st, millions of children in the Western world paint their faces, dress up in costumes, and go door to door collecting treats. The adults often decorate their houses with ghostly figures, carve scary faces on pumpkins, and put candles in them to create "Jack-O-Lanterns." Unfortunately, among the millions of people indulging in this custom, some are also Muslims.


Halloween originated as the Eve of Samhain, a celebration marking the beginning of winter and the first day of the New Year among ancient pagans of the British Isles. On this occasion, it was believed that supernatural forces gathered together, that the barriers between the supernatural and human worlds were broken. They believed that spirits from other worlds (such as the souls of the dead) were able to visit earth during this time and roam about. They also believed that on October 31st, the lord of the dead gathered all the souls of the people who had died that year. The souls upon death would dwell in the body of an animal, then on this day the lord would announce what form they were to take for the next year.


When Christianity came to the British Isles, the church tried to take attention away from these pagan rituals by placing a Christian holiday on the same day. The Christian festival, the Feast of All Saints, acknowledges the saints of the Christian faith in much the same way that Samhain had paid tribute to the pagan gods. The customs of Samhain survived anyway, and eventually became intertwined with the Christian holiday. Through social networking, mass media, television etc this custom has become popular internationally.




In Islam any practice which does not have its origins in Divine Scripture and The Sunnah is totally prohibited. This applies to many Pagan practices such as Halloween, Valentine's Day etc.


Virtually all Halloween traditions are based either in ancient pagan culture, or in Christianity. From an Islamic point of view, they all are forms of idolatry (shirk). As Muslims, our celebrations should be ones that honour and uphold our faith and beliefs. How can we worship only Allah, the Creator, if we participate in activities that are based in pagan rituals, divination, and the spirit world? Many people participate in these celebrations without even understanding the history and the pagan connections, just because their friends are doing it, their parents did it ("it's a tradition!"), and because "it's fun!"

So what can we do, when our children see others dressed up, eating candy, and going to parties? While it may be tempting to join in, we must be careful to preserve our own traditions and not allow our children to be corrupted by this seemingly "innocent" fun. When tempted, remember the pagan origins of these traditions, and ask Allah to give you strength. Save the celebration, the fun and games, for our 'Eid festivals. Children can still have their fun, and most importantly, should learn that we only acknowledge holidays that have a religious significance to us as Muslims. Holidays are not just excuses to binge and be reckless. In Islam, our holidays retain their religious importance, while allowing proper time for rejoicing, fun and games.


Allah Ta'ala, The Most Wise says in the Qur'an :

"When it is said unto them, 'Come to what Allah has revealed, come to the Messenger,' they say, 'Enough for us are the ways we found our fathers following.' What! Even though their fathers were void of knowledge and guidance?" (Qur'an 5:104)

"Has not the time arrived for the believers,  that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and of the Truth which has been revealed to them? That they should not become like those to whom was given the Book aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors." (Qur'an 57:16)

"We have sent them the Truth, but they indeed practice falsehood" (Qur'an 23:10).

The Noble and Last Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

"Whoever imitates a nation is one of them!" (Hadith-Abu Da'oud).

"The Final Hour will not come until my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations
and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit (inch by inch)"

 "You must keep to my Sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly-guided Caliphs; cling to it firmly. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misleading." (Hadith-Bukhari)


As Muslims we should not participate or condone such evil customs as Halloween. It is the duty of every Muslim parent to educate their children to refrain from practising falsehood and not to imitate the non-Muslims in their customs and festivals. If the children are taught to be proud of their Islamic heritage, they themselves will, if Allah wills, abstain from Halloween and other non-Muslim celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc.  

As Muslims let us be convinced of our Deen that it is indeed the best and purest way of life…so do not say "hello" to Halloween!

 May Allah Ta'ala guide us onto the straight path…Ameen.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finding the One!

Finding the One!


By Sister Taaiebah Ebrahim


As a pretend statistician, I'll say it's statistically proven that females are more prone to being caught up in idealistic romantic notions of love especially since we tend to be more emotional beings and brainwashed by fairytales of damsel's in distress and the knight in shining armour hype. Naturally, as a young girl, I had far too many self-edited fairytale re-runs constantly playing in my head.  My excitement was always in anticipation of when my prince would romantically woo me, with me being obviously unaware, just as it was in those fables.  

Truth be told, I was always aware that those fables were indeed far from reality, so nothing surprised me and every person seemed fairly predictable. But even so, I hoped for a miracle - someone original to sweep me off my feet.

And then I was approached…I was given the longest love letter, ever. I was flattered that Someone had taken the time to write to me and was most definitely intrigued. But - I didn't really know Him. So I thought, at least let me, hear Him out, after all, there was a great amount of effort put into this letter.


In all honesty, it was quite entertaining. The letter reflected warmth, beauty, bravery, it was so inspiring. It was like a dream sometimes where good battled and won over evil. There were heroes overcoming their weaknesses, there were love stories (my favourite) and other stuff, but really, the whole thing was about me. I knew this because my name was written all over the place. I was totally in tuned with the Author and was taken aback at how He knew so much about me.

Everyday I got presents from Him too. Now, I'm not the type to get bought over, but these gifts were too nice to return to sender, if you know what I mean.

So, I'd read portions of His letter everyday...and to be honest, gifts aside, He really started growing on me and the more I'd read His letter, the more attached I became to Him. Even though I didn't meet Him yet, I really started to like Him. The more I read, the more love I felt . He seemed to tick all the right boxes; He was knowledgeable, spoke about every topic relevant from animals to society and its challenges. He always made me feel so special by making reference to me, all the time. He would go on and on about how He would do anything for me… I just had to ask. So that was nice.


He got me thinking. I mean this was it. It's the moment we wait for our whole lives. The magic moment that reroutes your future in a simple decision. But as my eyes got bigger, I'd keep reading things in this letter, that I wasn't sure I was ready to hear. There was a commitment, yes indeed a BIG one!

I was at a crossroad. Take Him or wait for someone else. The decision, however, was clear and there was no real choice to be made. It was more like a one way street than a crossroad. He promised to listen to me, when everyone failed to understand me.


 He'd appreciate my humour, understand my emotions and my demeanour. He promised to never break His promises. Could I really believe Him?

He said this whole world and everything in it was nothing compared to me. His words kept on taking my breath away. He seemed so perfect and I felt so honoured and fortunate. I realised I found the One! As the letter began to conclude, He then beautifully and eloquently said…

"Qul huwa laahu Ahad" (Say: He is Allah, the One.) (Quraan 112:1)

This love letter was the Qur'aan, obviously, and the perfect One indeed is. ..ALLAH, THE GREAT.

You see, before I wrongly assumed this craving for love and understanding needed feeding from a human. And while being fully aware of humans and their flaws and predictabilities, I never saw the One who was always there.


 I realised it was Allah that was always will be my first and true love.


The point is that we all have this insatiable gap that needs feeding and we're always craving to feel complete. It's an unsettling feeling knowing something's missing. And until we begin to realise that it can only be filled with accepting Allah's love, we'll forever be searching for temporary fixes that promise no certainty.


Without any judgement, it's understandable in our modern life age to blindly hunt for short-lived reliefs to numb the nagging aching in our chests – after all, we've been coached since young to seek out quick fixes. But it's no reason to your life's betterment to insist on this sort of addictive cycle.

We don't have to wait until we all eventually reach the moment of 'Heeeelp! My cup runneth over!'. It'd be a good idea to nicely sit your sub-conscious down for a no-nonsense one-on-one family meeting, and make it realise that so long as it goes on autopilot in search of completion in anything or anyone outside of yourself, it and you will always feel unfulfilled and super sucky. Being consistently strong in a new way of thinking, trains your sub-conscious to new automatic patterns. Look for permanent freedom - not temporary relief peeps.

Another point to note is to avoid placing the unrealistic expectation of finding perfection in a partner. Everything we've been conditioned to look for in a spouse, is in Allah in perfection, so rely on Him alone to see to your needs, and share your joys with your spouse.


Allah is indeed the Only True Love, He is First and Last, His Love is a beginning without an end, His promises are all true, all we need to do is Love Him  and love for His Sake and when every other Love dims the Love of Allah will still shine bright!

The Umbilical Cord...

The Umbilical Cord …

By Sister Jasmine Khan

When we emerge from the womb at birth we are attached to our mothers by the umbilical cord. The first thing the doctor or midwife does is to sever this cord so that we can make it on our own in the world. However, the umbilical cord has significance besides the purely physical. This metaphorical connection to our birth mother will make its influence felt throughout the life of both child and mother. This bond between mother and child is so powerful that however hard outside agents may try to break it, and even succeed to a certain extent, the connection will stay and re-surface, no matter how frayed the cord may become.

There is another umbilical cord which will make itself felt, if we allow it to. That is the invisible cord which connects us to our Creator, the true source from which all of us come into this world. No matter how many outside influences we may have in life, that connection stays, and will eventually clamour for attention. As we turn to our mothers for love and nurturing, our souls will constantly yearn for the love and mercy of our true Creator. We may ignore it, deny it, or be too blind, deaf and dumb to acknowledge it, but it will remain the one constant in our hearts, our souls, in the very essence of our being.

As we enter another season of Hajj, we look at family, friends and neighbours scurrying around with last minute chores that have to be completed before departing for the Holy Land. One cannot help reflecting about the whole concept of Hajj, and why it is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. When we declare the Kalimah Shahadah and Testify that there is only One Allah and that we believe firmly in our Creator, we move to the next pillar which commands us to perform the Salaah. We do this out of obedience initially, but there comes a point when we perform our Salaah out of gratitude for all the bounties that Allah has given us; the greatest being the gift of life. We fast to inculcate Taqwa and because we crave Allah's mercy and forgiveness for our transgressions. We pay Zakah (compulsory charity) and give Sadaqah (voluntary charity) because we want others less fortunate to share in the rizq (provisions) that we have been blessed with. Once we have fulfilled the first four pillars of Islam we feel content to a certain extent.

It is now that our heart and soul starts to crave nearness to Allah, whether we are aware of it or not. We feel a subconscious yearning to meet Allah. We know that someday we will be re-united with our Creator, we will return to that from which we came. This inexplicable longing persists and grows. When we are truly in touch with our heart; when that heart is free from all that is impure, negative, and ugly, the longing will be felt. Our soul will crave to be ever closer to Allah, just as a child turns to his mother for comfort and love. Consider how very merciful Allah is; even more merciful than the best mother. Allah knows what we need and has granted us the opportunity to meet that innate need, by giving us the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj(Pilgrimage).  We do not have to wait for death to fulfil our yearning. It has been said that the gathering on the plains of Arafat is like a miniature Qiyaamah(Day of Resurrection)  and during our lifetime we are granted this unique opportunity to experience this magnificent favour from our Creator.

We often hear people commenting on those who have performed Hajj: "look at that, she/he has been to Makkah, but has not changed at all".  Going for Hajj does not change us; the change has to take place before undertaking the journey. In fact, change is the wrong word, we do not change; we grow and develop. If we change today, we can change back tomorrow. Life is a process of moving from not knowing, to knowing, it is a process of evolving. We do not change from a baby to a child and then to an adult. We grow from one stage to another, developing the necessary skills to cope with each stage.

Similarly our faith needs to grow and develop; it must grow from believing in what we cannot really conceive of as a child, to what we possibly cannot conceive of as a young adult, until we reach a state of clarity. At this point we see and feel the workings of Allah as a constant in our life. We need no proof other than what is taking place in our life. When we are connected to our inner core, the core which comes from Allah, we experience Allah's influence from moment to moment. Faith is not an object that can be taken up and put down at will.  True faith means to believe in Allah every second of the day, it is active and dynamic, not passive.

When we truly believe, unconditionally and with total commitment, trust must follow. We cannot say: "I believe, or I have Imaan and Taqwa", and then worry about the outcome of certain things. Total trust in Allah means the having the conviction that nothing happens without Allah's permission, that Allah wants only good things for us. Once we believe and trust, we will flow. We acknowledge and accept that only Allah is in charge, and we submit. Once we have done everything we can to ensure a good outcome, we release. This is the real power of flow. Nowhere is the power of flow more convincingly portrayed than during the rites of pilgrimage. Many of those people have been known to leave babies, young children and elderly parents to perform the pilgrimage. Some have left their jobs, even sold their homes to pay for the trip. They are the ones who have submitted to an inner yearning to meet Allah, to beg for forgiveness and to re-establish connection to their source. They are the ones who have translated faith into action. Their trust in Allah is absolute, and when they say: "I leave my family in the hands of Allah," it is evidence of absolute trust.

When we look at the Hajj portrayed we see millions of people moving like a river in flow. They have truly felt the tug of the invisible cord that joins them to Allah, and have given in to the longing to re-connect. Like a child returning to a mother for succour and comfort, all of us have this yearning for the ONE who is even more Merciful. Whether we know it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, that cord is there. When the heart is pure, when the longing to re-connect is so great, that is when the invitation to be a guest of Allah comes!

May Allah Ta'ala make us amongst His chosen guests…Ameen