Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hardship

The news today is full of heart wrenching news from the Muslim world. The orgy of violence inflicted by non-Muslims on Muslims, Muslims on non-Muslims, and Muslims on Muslims is horrific. Why is this happening to us? Doesn’t the Quran promise us that “God wants ease for you, not hardship” Quran 2:185

Allah makes it clear in the Quran that the practice of our religion should not create hardship. In 2:185 Allah is actually referring to an easing of the rules for fasting in Ramadan. Allah makes this principle of Islam being an easy religion very clear:
Believers, bow down, prostrate yourselves, worship your Lord, and do good so that you may succeed. Strive hard for God as is His due: He has chosen you and placed no hardship in your religion, the faith of your forefather Abraham. God has called you Muslims—both in the past and in this [message]—so that the Messenger can bear witness about you and so that you can bear witness about other people. So keep up the prayer, give the prescribed alms, and seek refuge in God: He is your protector—an excellent protector and an excellent helper. Quran 22:77-78
Having an easy religion, however, makes no assurance that Muslims will lead an easy life, free from harm.

After the early Muslims successfully defended Medina at the Battle of the Trench, the earliest Muslim historians Qatadah and al-Suddi described them as “stricken with exhaustion, hardship, heat, fear, cold, tightness of living and all kinds of harm.” Allah’s revelation after is telling:
Do you suppose that you will enter the Garden without first having suffered like those before you? They were afflicted by misfortune and hardship, and they were so shaken that even [their] messenger and the believers with him cried, ‘When will God’s help arrive?' Truly, God’s help is near. Quran 2:214
Allah promises us that hardship of this world is a temporary thing “God does not burden any soul with more than He has given it—after hardship, God will bring ease.” 65:7 This is a recurring theme: 
So truly where there is hardship there is also ease; truly where there is hardship there is also ease. The moment you are freed [of one task] work on, and turn to your Lord for everything. Quran 94:5-7

Indeed, torment is a fleeting thing. Whether Crusaders, Mongols, or even the ignorant among us, we have always survived and persevered. This is Allah’s promise and our reward for our faith & actions. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Concept of Nazar (Evil Eye) in Islam

Turkish Evil Eye talisman
Ibn 'Abbas reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath. Sahih Muslim Book 26, Hadith Number 5427.
The concept of "evil eye" has existed for several thousand years, and can be found in ancient Greek myths and Jewish folk stories. It is based on the idea that if someone is envious of another's good fortune, their envy can cause that good fortune to end. Many Muslim cultures express this belief using the concept of nazar (evil eye). The Quranic roots of nazar come from two verses in the Quran:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homosexuality in Islam


Mukhannathun in Pakistan
Note: I am extremely interested in feedback on this blog entry. Please provide constructive feedback below

Despite the pronouncements of many Muslim scholars, Islam’s stance on homosexuality is extremely complicated. Allah clearly has a preference for believers to engage in heterosexual marriage based on his praise of it, yet neither Allah nor the Prophet ever overtly banned homosexual relationships for Muslims, nor did Allah condemn alternative sexual identities.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Disparaging the Prophet

"Muhammad" by Photos8.org
Over the past few years, many Muslims have decided that it is there personal responsibility to avenge insults to the Prophet and Islam by burning down their own neighborhoods, imprisoning children with mental impairments, and killing innocent bystanders. This activity is more insulting to our religion than the original insults they seek to avenge.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Quran and Marriage

Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquillity: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect. Quran 30:21
The relationship between husbands and wives in the Quran is truly sacred. As Allah describes men and women originating from the same original soul:
People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another… Quran 4:1

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Deeper Dive into Islamic Finance

Ahmad recorded that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that Umar said, "The Ayah about Riba was one of the last Ayat to be revealed, and the Messenger of Allah died before he explained it to us.'' Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Clarifying the meaning of Riba

A few weeks ago I summarized Allah’s guidance on commerce. Allah’s guidance is centered on the principles of truthfulness and fairness. Built into the doctrine of fairness is the idea that Muslims should not take advantage of people in distress. To that end, Allah banned riba. Today I am going to take a much deeper dive into that topic. The key takeaways are:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Contextualizing the Quran

This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God, who believe in the unseen, keep up the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them; those who believe in the revelation sent down to you [Muhammad], and in what was sent before you, those who have firm faith in the Hereafter. Such people are following their Lord’s guidance and it is they who will prosper. Quran 2:2-5
Although all Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God, interpretations of the Quran have evolved and changed over time. As I have blogged about my reading of the Quran over the past few weeks, I have received comments and emails both praising and criticizing my interpretation. Here are the primary sources I am basing my reading on.