Islam Essentials

Explore Islam through articles on Unity of God, Pillars of faith, Articles of faith, Quran, Hadith, Seerah and related topics.

A List of Book Recommendations

The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most.

Recommended Documentaries

These documentaries encourage the viewer to think critically about the arena of mass-media, propaganda, management, capitalism, religion, politics, science, ecology, etc.

Finding the Balance - Deen and Dunya

Articles packed with advice, tips and naseeha for both the young and the adults in finding moderation and the middle-path to success both in Deen and Dunya

Person of the Month

Learn about a fellow brother or sister every month from around the world about their inspiration, success and their passion of being a Muslim or Muslimah.

12 Tips for the Convert (Revert) Muslim

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficial
  1. Practice Islam as much as you can “He who loves my Sunnah has loved me, and he who loves me will be with me in Paradise.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Tirmidhi)
    As a new Muslim, you will have trouble keeping up with prayers every day, fasting during Ramadan, and the many other practices in this religion. The struggle that we face, with such a radical change in lifestyle, is difficult and will take some time. Awkward moments are bound to happen, don’t fret. You are not expected to wake up at 4am every morning to pray tahajjud (extra night prayers). If you have problems with certain practices, then gradually work yourself into the mindset of worship. A counselor once told me when I was young, “How do you eat an elephant? Just One bite at a time.” Think of it as one step at a time. Pray to Allah (swt) and ask for Him to make it easy for you and the rest will come naturally.
    Keeping up with your devotional practices is something that will strengthen your faith immensely. Read the Qur’an whenever possible. Find a collection of hadith, such as Riyadh us-Saliheen, and read it often. You will start to feel a connection to Allah (swt) and you will become used to Islam as a religion and way of life.
  2. Respect your parents “Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Ahmad, Nasa’i)
    Keeping up a good relationship with your family is essential. Try to avoid bringing up or taking part in controversial subjects regarding religion. This is almost unavoidable, but your parents will eventually accept that Islam is not going to turn you into a terrorist if you stay calm during these tense moments. Gradually, your parents will gain some respect and understanding of Islam and may start to become genuinely interested. This is a great sign and insha’Allah, God will make a way for them to accept Islam.
    What you do not want to do is act like you know everything, attempt to debate everything, or overly defend yourself in a way that might make you angry or upset. This will just cause heartache and uneasiness. Your priority now should be to work on yourself.
  3. Find a teacher “For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the path to Paradise.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)
    Finding a teacher to bounce ideas off of is a great way to learn your deen (religion). I found it is good to find someone with as much knowledge as possible who also has an understanding of the English language and American culture. It is difficult to listen to someone with a thick accent or someone with a back-home mentality. When I first accepted Islam, I would drive every day to visit my teacher and I would ask him what seemed like an endless stream of questions. Sometimes he seemed overwhelmed! This is a great way to clarify things you hear on Sheikh Youtube or Google or any part of the Qur’an you are reading at the time.
    This will also help you have a real grounding in the Islamic tradition. You will eventually have spent more time learning Islam than most people from Muslim families. Maintain a sense of humility if you do gain a lot of knowledge, as there will always be someone who will be more knowledgeable than you. Learn everything you can in small chunks, no one is asking you to be a scholar!
  4. Keep away from debates and arguments “Verily anger spoils faith as aloe spoils honey.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
    Trying to constantly defend your religion is something that will cause you a lot of stress. I remember when I first accepted Islam, it seemed like the whole world was after me. This may happen to different people at different levels, but it was a very overwhelming experience for me. The best thing to do is avoid these arguments at all costs. If you are mature about your religion and display a desire to explain yourself without refuting others, then many doors will open for you. You are bound to give someone a refreshing view of Islam, which is what so many people are hungry for after seeing Islam in such a negative light in the media.
    Staying away from these discussions will put you at peace and give you breathing room. A lot of converts are not really comfortable with bringing up their religion because of the backlash they receive. Personally, I recognized that if I just mention it when necessary, I get a more positive reaction. You’ll be surprised to hear “Oh that’s cool dude, what made you pick that religion?” This is always an opportunity for da’wah (inviting to Islam).
  5. Gain a connection to the Arabic language “Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.”
    -The Holy Qur’an, 12:2
    This is one of my favorite parts of becoming a Muslim. To be honest, I’m a language-lover and I realize everyone is not the same in this regard. Just because you failed high school Spanish though doesn’t mean you will have trouble with Arabic. There are many tricks to learning the language that I won’t go into here, but there are ways to make this easier on yourself. These methods can be found online or in books; with a little research you can pave your way to gaining an understanding of Arabic.
    Start by learning the alphabet and connecting letters together. You can learn this in an afternoon if you know someone that is a native Arabic speaker (but go at your own pace). Sit on that for a while and eventually you will be able to follow along in the Qur’an if you listen to a recitation on your computer or MP3 player. You will start to recognize words, after which you can get into simple grammar rules. I recommend learning common nouns and prepositions first (words like “in”, “on”, “for” and “with”).
    Arabic can be really enjoyable, and you are bound to gain an Islamic vocabulary after listening to talks or lectures. Eventually you will know meanings of words like “furqaan” and “sajdah” and you’ll be able to use them in conversations with Muslims. Sabr (patience) is essential!
  6. Understand Islam’s organic nature “Those who make things hard for themselves will be destroyed. (He said it three times.)”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)
    Coming to Islam will sometimes put you in a situation where you are overwhelmed with opinions that are hard to follow. As an example, one might be told that you have to wash your feet every time you make wudhu (ablution) unless you wipe over leather socks that have been worn from your previous wudhu. For most Americans, the idea of wearing leather socks is something that we find extremely unusual. If we do a little research, we find there are opinions of scholars that mention the permissibility of wiping over cotton socks (even ones with holes in them!). To an American convert, these opinions can cause a huge sigh of relief.
  7. Maintain your Identity “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
    -The Holy Qur’an, 49:1
    Being a Muslim is a huge part of your identity now. That doesn’t mean you can’t barbeque with your friends or watch football on Sundays. If there are things in your culture that do not directly contradict with basic Islamic creed, then you are welcome to keep those things in your life. You do not need to start wearing Arab or Indian clothing. As long as your clothes cover what they are supposed to cover, you are in the clear.
    Many converts are also exposed to really weird food that is overly spicy or funny tasting. This might lead us to think that eating curry is sunnah or something righteous. We can still have our own culture and tastes in food: pot roast and beans are still halal!
    There are many other examples of things that you will be exposed to that are from foreign cultures and do not necessarily have anything to do with Islam. Our goal as new Muslims is to worship Allah (swt), not to add a Pakistani or Arab identity to our persona.
    It is good to have a teacher who understands the subtleties of different opinion in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and can inform you of differences among the scholars on issues that are of concern. Most people in masajid will have a very limited view of the juristic possibilities inside the Islamic tradition. Islam is a vast tradition and we should not make it small. These diverse opinions are there to help us, not cause strain on ourselves.
  8. Force yourself to go to the masjid “The person who receives the greatest reward for the Salah is one who lives the farthest and has the farthest to walk.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari, Muslim)
    Going on Fridays is a given, but I would also recommend trying to fit a few prayers (at least) per week in the masjid. This will open many doors for you and will insha’Allah grant many good deeds to your account. You will meet people who are connected to Islam; networking opportunities are more readily available; and you are bound to make long-lasting friends. This is one of the things that I really love about Islam, that you can almost always find people in the masjid.
    Although this may be hard initially, try and go to the masjid. The payoff will be huge, even if you just pray and leave right after. You will eventually warm up to the community and you can feel more comfortable going to the masjid whenever you like.
  9. Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties “On the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty will proclaim: “Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade where there is no shade but Mine.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)
    Saying “As-salamu ‘Alaykum” ( “Peace be upon you”) to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe.
    Also, don’t sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who Allah (swt) will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.
  10. Avoid Loneliness “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)
    This is a major problem in the convert community. We are lonely. The best thing we can do to fight the feeling of loneliness is to spend as much time as possible with good company. Having dinners with people a few nights a week is a sure way to maintain a good attitude. The practice of becoming a nun or a monk is alien to Islam; we are social creatures and Islam recognizes this.
    Try not to lock yourself away in your apartment to avoid the world. This will just cause a vicious cycle that will cause deep depression and can lead to searching for solace in haram (unlawful).
    Make it an obligation on yourself to remain a sociable human being. It takes a lot of work but the result is happiness and contentment in life.
  11. Stay away from extremism “And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people.”
    -The Holy Qur’an, 2:143
    Most converts do not enter Islam looking for an extremist point of view. Unfortunately, we have seen some converts do end up overseas working for terrorist organizations. This is something that can happen from a person feeling victimized or ostracized by their own culture and being overcome with anger.
    I personally have not had a problem with anyone trying to “radicalize” me. It does happen enough though that it should be a concern. It will be best for you to keep your head on your shoulders and not get caught up with extreme points of view. Know that all of the scholars overseas and in America have absolutely refuted terrorism in their fatawa (legal rulings). Extremism is on the very edges of the Islamic thought. Do your best to stay on a middle way.
  12. Do not despair “So know that victory is with patience, and relief is with distress and that with hardship comes ease.”
    -The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
    Being a convert to Islam, you will face a lot of tribulations. There is not anything that you cannot overcome though, and never despair in Allah (swt).
    Allah (swt) guided to you to Islam, you searched for the answer and you found it. Be happy and constantly remind yourself of the blessings in your life. There are a lot of good things that will happen to you and you are on the straight road to Jannah (paradise). Rejoice in being Muslim. Remember the Sahabah (companions) were all converts to Islam and they were human beings that came from Adam and Eve just like you! Be strong and find comfort in your prayers and worship to Allah (swt). The first six months were the hardest for me, and insha’Allah we will all continue to grow as a convert community in America.


    Source: [islamicquotes.org] Published: Dec 07 Link: Click here

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Muslims

The 7 Habits

Independence or Self-Mastery

The First Three Habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self mastery):
  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
Synopsis: Take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with life's principles) are the primary determining factor for effectiveness in your life. Take responsibility for your choices and the subsequent consequences that follow.
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Synopsis: Self-discover and clarify your deeply important character values and life goals. Envision the ideal characteristics for each of your various roles and relationships in life.
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
Synopsis: Plan, prioritize, and execute your week's tasks based on importance rather than urgency. Evaluate whether your efforts exemplify your desired character values, propel you toward goals, and enrich the roles and relationships that were elaborated in Habit 2.

Interdependence

The next three have to do with Interdependence (i.e., working with others):
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Synopsis: Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a "win" for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten his way.
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Synopsis: Use empathetic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving.
  • Habit 6: Synergize
Synopsis: Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone. Get the best performance out of a group of people through encouraging meaningful contribution, and modeling inspirational and supportive leadership.

Self Renewal

The Last habit relates to self-rejuvenation:
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Synopsis: Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. And learn from the mistakes




Source: [en.wikipedia.org] Published: NA Link: Click here

The Orphan


Seest thou one who denies the Judgement (to come)?
Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness),
And encourages not the feeding of the indigent.
So woe to the worshippers
Who are neglectful of their Prayers,
Those who (want but) to be seen (of men),
But refuse (to supply) (Even) neighbourly needs. 

In his first khutba given after the Winter hiatus the Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad begins with a recitation of Surah Ma'un, that Surah that would 'strike at the heart of the one with sincerity'. These verses cover the vices of boastfulness and pride, miserliness and hypocrisy, but before all of these harmful vices Allah in this chapter mentions the active repulsion of the orphan. To be an orphan is to be without the warmth, shelter and security that a parent's care provides naturally. That this should stir our compassionate instincts is understandable, as is Allah's stern reprimand to the one who would repulse them, especially since their condition in this life mirrors all of ours' on the Day of Judgment. The Sheikh goes on to explore the early life of the greatest orphan of them all, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who was orphaned three times over, of his father, mother and then grandfather. 

What is striking in the life of the Prophet is that in society's eyes he had nothing, and yet Allah used him as an instrument to evoke the greatest changes in society the world has ever seen. This is why the sermon ends with a urgent exhortation to avoid the lassitude of being idle spectators and try as a community to care for those children who may then go on to change the world for the better. This cannot be done with the cold failing approach of the care home but with the prime Islamic virtue of mercy, evoked by the first hadith that scholars are asked to memorise when embarking on their studies:
"Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, the One in heavens will have mercy on you."
Download link of this sermon: Link

Source: [cambridgekhutbasetc.blogspot.ca] Published: 3, March, 2012 Link: Click here

Reflections - The Middle Path

There are essentially two forces happening simultaneously within the human being. There is a positive attraction, coming from the Qalb (heart) which directs us toward our Maker, and a negative force which induces us to follow our whimsical Nafs (ego).

The Qalb is constantly God-oriented, nostalgic for the Day of the Primordial Covenant as Allah the Exalted says:

“And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] - lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware." (1)


The Nafs, a vital force and go between for the heart and the earth we live in, is also preoccupied with disorienting us from God, desiring itself instead, as Allah the Exalted says:

“Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him?” (2)

The successful one is he or she who strikes the balance between these two forces. The positive tension that is born from such equilibrium between the Qalb and the Nafs creates the power needed to move us forward for God’s sake, alone. This is as He said, be He exalted:

“Guide us on the straight path” (3)

This Straightness, is also about positive tension. Neither too far to the left nor right and not excessively forward or back. This individual is not committed to anything but God who is always found in the middle.

“Indeed, my Lord is on a straight path.” (4)

That attribute is mentioned in its polar opposite, regarding the hypocrites who also are not committed to any extreme but lack the quality of the essentially heart-felt attachment to God:

“Wavering between them, [belonging] neither to the believers nor to the disbelievers” (5)

May Allah give us Allah.



Footnotes:
1 Quran. 7:172
2 Quran. 25:43
3 Quran. 1:6
4 Quran.11:56
5 Quran. 41:43




Source: [facebook.com/pages/ImamMuhammadAbdulLatif] Published: 13, February, 2012 Link: Click here

10 steps towards becoming Allah's beloved

Praise be to Allah.

We ask Allah to make ourselves steadfast in adhering to the truth, and to make our hopes come true, and to make us one of those who turn to Him and who know the truth, defend it and adhere to Islam.

There are great hopes that can be achieved through faith, as it was narrated that Sufyaan al-Thawri:
"Faith is not wishes or pretence, rather it is what settles in the heart and is proven by actions.”
So we will discuss the matter of faith and how important it is in becoming a devoted slave, pleasing and honouring one’s parents and achieving the victory of Paradise.

The sincere believer has a heart like a burning coal, hence it was narrated by al-Haakim in his Mustadrak and al-Tabaraani in his Mu’jam with a saheeh isnaad that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
“Faith wears out in your heart as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.”

The believer’s hearts may sometimes feel overwhelmed by clouds of sin. This was portrayed to us by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he said:
“There is no heart that does not have clouds like the clouds that cover the moon. When the cloud covers it, it is dark, and when the cloud moves away it shines.”

So the believer has to come back to faith. If one comes back to faith and do as it requires, then he may achieve what he desires insha'Allah.
If a person seeks to know how he stands before Allah and where he stands in relation to His commands and His prohibitions, one has to be aware of himself and see what he is preoccupied with. If he is busy with deen and is concerned with saving people from Shaytan's traps, striving to attain Paradise, helping the weak and needy, honouring his parents, then he may insha'Allah rejoice to the fact that he is close to his Master, for Allah does not help anyone to do good except those whom He loves.

  • Do you want to be one among those loved and befriended by Allah?
  • Do you desire to enter Paradise ?
  • Do you want to control your nafs?
  • Do you want to keep yourself away from Shaytan's temptations & whispers?
  • Do you desire to love the ummah as your own brothers and sisters?

Insha'Allah, a response for these questions, as discussed below:

1 – You have to revive the faith in your heart:

 Faith is the key that will insha'allah bring the Muslim everything he seeks in this world and in the Hereafter. Faith is the gate to all goodness and shuts the door to all evils. The means of reviving and strengthening faith in one’s heart are many and varied, including doing a lot of acts of worship and righteous deeds.


2 – You must turn to your Lord sincerely: 
As it says in the report:

If My slave turns to me inwardly and outwardly, I will turn the hearts of My slaves to him with love and mercy.
Allah has made worship the ultimate aim and loftiest purpose of man:

And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)
[Al'Quran: al-Dhaariyaat 51:56]
3 – You should always set your sights on the highest degrees:
Make your goal in life to earn the pleasure of Allah, and strive to attain the gift of Paradise, or to attain the highest Firdaws. You should strive as hard as you can to achieve these lofty aims.



4 – You should follow the examples: 
Love and admiration for historical Muslim figures such as the Prophets(peace be upon them), Sahaba, Tabi’un, Tabi'al-Tabi'in, the pious Leaders and Saints could open doors for evergreen examples of those loved, tested and rewarded by Allah subhanawatala.


5 – You should make the most of every minute:  
Every moment and every heartbeat to use it in such a way as to increase your faith, show gratitude and be thankful. Allah subhanawatala reminds us,
By (the token of) time (through ages),
Verily man is in loss,
Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

[Al'Quran: al-Asr 103:1-3]
6 – You should try to keep company with righteous people:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “A man will follow the religion of his close friend, so let each one of you look at whom he befriends.” Narrated by Abu Dawood and al-Tirmidhi with a hasan isnaad. Good friends are one of the best means of helping you to obey Allah and to avoid sin and error.



7 – Doing a lot of righteous deeds: 
This is a practical way of expressing your faith, and it brings you the much desired inner-peace in this world and insha'Allah would benefit the Hereafter.


8 – Praying qiyaam al-layl:  
Making du’aa’ in the time just before dawn. The feets of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to swell because of his desire to be a thankful slave, even though Allah had forgiven his previous and future sins.


9 – Persisting in reading a portion of Qur’aan daily:  
Adding to it Daily-Dhikr that may insha'Allah help you to think and ponder the meaning of the grorious message of the Qur’an.


10 – Striving to spread the word and make da’wah for the sake of Allah:
If you want to reach the status of devoted slave for which you long, then be as Allah commanded His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
Say (O Muhammad): Verily, my Salaah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)
[Al'Quran: al-An’aam 6:162]
Being a devoted slave of Allah means declaring one’s devotion and belonging to the Lord, which can only be achieved by applying this aayah, so that we are for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, in all our affairs.
Being a devoted abd(slave) of Allah can be insha'Allah achieved in this manner; it can therefore be achieved by worshiping Allah in the fullest sense of the word, which means making our life, death, intentions and actions, for Him alone. So we only speak that which is pleasing to Allah; we only do that which is pleasing to Allah; we focus our intention in these words and deeds only on Allah. Worship therefore, should not be reduced to merely raising and lowering our heads at certain times, or giving a few pennies every once in a while, or fasting a few days each year, or moving our lips to say a few words and dhikrs - Worship should become being aware of Allah subhanawatala in every breath.
Hence the deeds that lead to this status – of being a devoted slave – are innumerable and may take many shapes in all aspects of our lives and the places where we live. This is by the bounty of Allah towards us and towards all people.
Just look, in every place where you find yourself and every moment that comes to you, for that which will please Him, and what you think He wants to see you doing, and do it. Then you will be a devoted slave.

Finally, we ask and pray Allah to accept righteous deeds from us and from you, forgive our mistakes, and to gather us and you in His mercy with the Prophets, Siddeeqs, Martyrs, Pious and Righteous, and those who are the best of companions.


Source: [islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com] Published: 02, November, 2010 Link: Click here

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