Killing in the name of Islam

Recently, many incidents have occurred that makes it necessary for me to speak about them. From Sydney siege, Peshawar school massacre and the war Boko Haram is continuously raging on my country Nigeria particularly in my region (North). As a Muslim, I don’t understand what part of Islam these people are following because Islam is totally different religion from what these people are practicing.

In Peshawar, Last week Tuesday began with the promise of a sunny winter day. Several hundred students between the ages of ten and eighteen arrived at the Army public school. They wore their uniforms—green sweaters for girls, green blazers for boys—and tin badges printed with the school motto: “I shall rise and shine.” That morning, some of the students were in class, some were taking their examinations, and some were in the school auditorium, where a visiting group of soldiers were training them in first aid. Nine Talibans entered the school and killed over more than 140 students and left many students with various degrees of injuries.

In another clime, Haron Monis held 17 people hostage for more than 12 hours in a coffee shop which culminated in the death of two hostages as well as Monis in Sydney, Australia. Both during and after the hostage standoff, considerable attention focused on Monis’ Islamic ties and purported religious extremism. In other places like Iraq and Syria, Islamic state fighters have killed and are still killing many innocent lives and same thing applies to Al-shabab in Kenya and Somalia.

Back home here in Nigeria, the news is not different. Boko haram has turned the North into a graveyard with killings, suicide bombings and abduction of girls in schools and villages. They have declared a war against the Nigeria state. I’ve seen the pains of families who had lost their loved ones due to insurgency. After two bombs exploded in Jos two weeks ago, I immediately rushed down to the hospital to help the casualties. The next day, I was at the mortuary where some corpses were kept. A mother who couldn’t reach her son since after the blast saw his lifeless body lying at the mortuary. His name was Ibrahim. I saw tears rolling down her face and I felt her pain. She kept on repeating “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayli raji’un” which translates to “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return”.

All these do have unfortunate consequences on how followers of others religions would view and define our religion. It provides the world with yet another bat to bash our religion. Islamophobes will use these as to examples as to why Islam is the “the mother-code of bad ideas”. To be clear, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Taliban in Aghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Shabab in Kenya and Somalia, Alqaeeda and Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria are not representing Islam and Muslims. Islam has been hijacked by some minority elements that are using the name of the religion to achieve their selfish and extremist agenda. Islam is an easy religion made complicated and simple religion turned simpleton by some elements who have deliberately and knowingly using it in order to bring unrest in the world.

In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah condemned the killing of innocent lives when He said “If you kill one life, it’s like you kill the whole of humanity. When you save one life, it’s like you save the whole of humanity”. So if killing of innocent person is equal to killing all humanity, so what does that mean in the case of children? What does that meaning in the case of helpless women? So what does that mean in the case of the elderly (the old)? Islam is an entirely different religion and as a Muslim, I want to join other Muslims around the globe to disassociate myself from all these extreme groups. The Prophet prohibited the killing or harming of innocent lives especially killing of children, women and the elderly. He even prohibited the destruction of infrastructure or the ecosystem. So anyone engages in any of these acts is not a Muslim.

Abduction of school girls in Chibok, Borno villages and in the killing of over 100 school children in Peshawar, Pakistan is not the teaching of Islam. Of all God’s creatures, it is children who warrant the greatest protection due to their helplessness and innocence, which is why the punishment for violating them is severe. The Prophet (PBUH) loved children and honoured them on many occasions, such as calling them honorific epithets or patting young ones on the head, leaving the scent of musk them for the rest of the day. In fact, the Prophet, God bless and grant him peace, visited one child whose pet had died in order to offer condolences and cheer him up. It shows how compassionate the Prophet was towards children. Savage killing of children, who are the epitome of finest human values, in a temple of learning was an assault against the entire humanity and against the teachings of Islam.

Islam and Muslims are today blamed for all the religious extremism going around the world by these minority extreme groups. After the Sydney siege, there had been questions on the backlash against Australian Muslims and immigrants. A woman named Rachael Jacobs recounted on Twitter watching as someone on the train next to her “Silently removes her hijab” presumably out of fear. Jacobs continued: “I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on’. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute –then walked off alone”.

A local television editor, Tessa Kum, was apparent the one who proposed a hashtag, #illridewithyou and social media proceeded to work the way one always hopes it will, inspiring a mini-movement in Sydney’s public transportation system and reflections on how Australians can move forward, though it might not be simple. Australian Muslims resoundingly condemned the attack on the café.

Just like Hamza Egal, I am a Muslim first and foremost, I understand my religion and I adhere to its teaching s of peace. Nevertheless, naturally I am not a passive human being by any means. I find it repulsive that my faith is being used as a scapegoat by every Tom, Dick and Harry on side and Abu this Abu that on the other side. I will not allow my religion or my community to be tarnished by equally extremist groups who oppose peace and communal civility. We have to reclaim our religion from these carnages and redefine it according to the true tenets of our religion Islam.

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Friday message: Let’s take advantage of 5 before 5

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said one of the signs of end of time is that time will fly so quickly, it will be crumpled. Where one year will pass as though it was just a month, a month will pass though it was a week and a week will pass as though it was a day. No matter how badly we want the time to slow down it just moves forward, one second, one minute, and one hour at a time.  Days go by and it feels like minutes.  Before the day’s work even starts it is night time. Allah mentions this phenomenon in various places throughout the Quran;

They will say: “We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who keep account.” (Quran 23:113)

…A speaker from among them said, “How long have you stayed (here)?” They said, “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said, “Your Lord (alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here)…  (Quran 18:19)

Time passes swiftly, and when we stand before Allah on the Day of Judgment, it will seem as if we have lived, dreamed and hoped for less than a day.  It will seem as if we have worshipped our Allah for only the briefest of time and in only the most lackadaisical way.  We know that many of us will beg Allah for more time, time to correct our actions and time to worship in a better way. Allah said;

Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with God), he says: “My Lord! Send me back, (Quran 23:99)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reiterated this for us. Time will not slow down and we cannot go back to fix the mistakes we make therefore he advised us to take advantage of five, before five. In an Hadith Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim, The Prophet (saw) advised to: “Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death”.

This lesson from the Prophet Muhammad reminds us of the importance of being thankful for our blessings and making the most of the time we have been given. We are constantly reminded, throughout the Quran and the Hadith that time is passing faster than we realize, so we must make wise choices.

What are these five things?

1: Take advantage of your youth before your old age: As young people, we take our youthfulness for granted. Youthfulness is a time when a person is the most energetic, when he lays out the foundations for his future, and when he plans his life. So the Prophet (PBUH) said to take advantage of this time before the time comes when you do not have that enthusiasm, when you do not have that zeal, or that outlook. The enthusiasm and energy that you have been blessed with will never again be given to you after this age. Therefore, the Prophet (PBUH) said to seize the moment and take advantage of it. A person should exercise this energy for the sake of Allah by procuring knowledge of Allah, obtaining halal (lawful) sustenance, and worshipping Allah through acts that he might not be able to do later on in life. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Seven are the people that will be sheltered on the Day of Judgment, the day in which there is no shade except the shade of Allah (S.W.A)”

One of the seven people, the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned was a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah (SWA). One who stayed away from all the harams (forbidden) and did the halals (lawful). Likewise, the Prophet (PBUH) said in an authentic Hadith that Allah (SWA) is pleased with and amazed at the youth who does not have any evil inclinations. This means he does not do evil or any forbidden act.

2: Take advantage of your health, before you fall sick: The fact that one lives a normal life and is not afflicted with diseases and plagues, represents a person’s health. Take advantage of this before diseases and plagues come because mankind, being mankind, will fall sick. Everyone falls sick. It is part of our mortality as humans.

There will come a time when we will fall sick. Some of those times the sicknesses will be more severe, and for certain people even more severe. So the Prophet (PBUH) is reminding us that we do not know when we will have full possession of our faculties, of our strength, of our mental powers, before we will fall sick. Therefore, take advantage of it before that time comes. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “There are two blessings the majority of mankind have been deceived concerning.” The majority of mankind do not appreciate these two blessings. They are “health,” good health, “and free time.”

How about one who has been blessed not just with eyesight, but with hearing, health, arms, limbs, energy, vitality, enthusiasm, and many other things. Should we not appreciate the blessing from Allah (SWA)? Do we not realize how sweet health is? It can be used for the worship of Allah and doing righteous deeds. When we are blessed with these bodies, why do we not use them in the worship of Allah?

3: Take advantage of your richness before poverty: One day we might not have anything, and the next we might have much more than we need. One day, a person might have the best of jobs and the largest of salaries, yet, the next day, something happens and he does not have that job anymore and loses his source of income. So the wise person uses his richness before he becomes poor. He invests for his future. But while we are doing this, let us not forget that we also need to invest for the Akhirah (hereafter). Should we not think about investing this money so we can pick it and pluck it in the Hereafter when we need it far more than we need it in this world? We need to invest for the real future, our real life after our death.

The Prophet (PBUH) once asked his companions, “Who amongst you loves his inheritors’ money more than his own money?” The meaning of this Hadith is that the Prophet (PBUH) is asking for example, does the father love the money of his son or does he love his own money? Of course, the father loves his own money. Likewise, every person will love his own money more than he loves the money of other people. The Sahabah said, “Yaa RasulAllah, all of us love our own money more than we love the money of our inheritors. We all love our own money. We guard it and protect it more than the money of our inheritors.” Then the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Verily, the money that you spend in charity is your money, and the money that you leave behind is the money of your inheritors.”

Remember that feeding your family is an ibaadah (act of worship) if you are doing it for the sake of Allah. If you are doing it for the sake of Allah, you will be rewarded. The Prophet (PBUH) said that, “A morsel of food,” one morsel of food, one handful of food, “if you put it in your wife’s mouth, this will be a reward for you on the Day of Judgment.”

4: Take advantage of your free time before you become busy: This is yet another great treasure that every single one of us possesses. Every single one of us must use our free time before we become busy. How much free time do we have and what do we waste it on? Think about it. Think about how much free time all of us have been blessed with. We have hours and hours every day and they go by. What do we waste it on? Primarily, in this country at least, television/internet. It is also wasted on gossip and socialization of which there is no benefit whatsoever, in this world nor the hereafter.

Spending time wisely does not necessarily mean purely religious deeds. But spending your time wisely and even is by doing something useful in this world. Learn a trade. Learn something that can benefit you in this world and that can benefit other people as well. Islam is a complete way of life, a complete code. Do not forget that all of the acts a mu’min (believer) does can be transformed into acts of worship if, and only if, he does them for the sake of Allah (SWA).

5: Take advantage of your life before your death: This one phrase summarizes it all: “take advantage of your life before your death.” Every one of us has a life. That is why we are here right now. Every one of us without a doubt will die. Allah says: You are going to die and they too are going to die”. And it is as Allah said, the Prophet (PBUH) passed away and so did the people that opposed him and believed in him. They all have passed away. And the turn came for those after them, and then those after them, until it is our turn.

The Prophet (PBUH) therefore reminded us, “Take advantage of your life before your death.” This is the greatest of foresight. Hence the Prophet (PBUH) concluded the hadith with this phrase.

How are we going to use this life before death comes? Every morning we should thank Allah for another day. Each day is a chance to do well; to spend in charity, to worship longer, harder, or in a better way.  It is a chance to spread good cheer, smile, and pay that extra dollar or two in charity. It is a chance to perform countless random acts of kindness.  We have become relaxed about the reality of death.  At some point, perhaps in a matter of hours, minutes, or even seconds, our life will be taken away from us.  Prophet Muhammad advises us to take advantage of the time we have.  Do what you can now, not tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.

In conclusion, this reminder from the Prophet Muhammad deals with responsibility, wisdom, foresight and time management, but it is not the only time he reminded us of the importance of being aware of our blessings and using them to our own advantage.  We are constantly reminded, throughout the Quran and the Hadith that time is fleeting and that every little thing we do is able to become a source of great reward.  Prophet Muhammad also said, “Three things follow the deceased [to his grave], two of them return and one remains with him. His family, wealth and deeds follow him, while his family and wealth return, his deeds remain with him.” So let’s take advantage of 5 before 5 to worship Allah and do righteous deeds before it’s too late. May Allah make it easy on us, amin.

@muntaseeer – on twitter

I am lost

I am lost

I got missing the day I first saw you

Oh, I can still remember your petal innocence

I immediately lost my faculty of reasoning

The whole world now makes no sense

 

I don’t know how lost and confused I am,

Does the crazy man know how crazy he is?

Does a wild man tell how wild he is?

My scenario is no different

 

Truth be told, I am lost

To tell it truly, I’ll be found only by your side

By your side is where I belong

Only by your side, that’s when the world makes perfect sense