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Black Lives Matter: Racism, Social Activism, Justice | A Reader

SeekersGuidance is always committed to provide clarity, answers, and guidance, especially when new issues emerge.

We feel that in these times it is important for us to listen to our black leaders. In this reader we are featuring the voices of some of our most impactful black Muslim leaders, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Dawud Walid, Shaykha Zaynab Ansari, and others.

May Allah make us of those who stand up for justice, truth and equity with principles. In the spirit of the Quran:

People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (49:13)

You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly- if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do. (4:135)

Articles

Blackness, Racism And How The Arabic Language Rises Above It All

  • When “Black” is good. An insight to what “blackness” truly means in the Arabic language

Black Lives Matter: If You’re Right With God, You’re Right – Imam Zaid Shakir

  • Imam Zaid Shakir has led funeral prayers (janazas) due to blue-on-black crime and black-on-black crime. In this video he touches on the history of the black struggle and sheds some spiritual light on the issue. Allah tells us our lives matter, we don’t need a movement.

Race To The Top – Imam Zaid Shakir – New Islamic Direction

  • It’s okay to get involved. Racism existed, and still does. Let us talk about it.

Spiritual Activism and the Tradition of Salawat in West Africa

  • Imam Dawud Walid discusses the inspiring story of a west African scholar, Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba

 

On Demand Courses

Social Justice In The Islamic Tradition: How to Approach Justice and Uphold Truth with Wisdom and Principle

  • Islam is a truly complete religion; a way of life. Does it lay down foundations for social justice? Of course!

Islam in Blackamerica

  • BayanOnline, an online Islamic seminary, is offering this insightful course for only three easy payments of free, yes, FREE.  Check out this beneficial course with Dr. Sherman Jackson.

 

Answers

How Do I Deal With My Racist Spouse?

  • It’s easier to avoid problems outside your home, but what do you do when the problems lie within?

Hadiths on the “Bad Traits” of Black People

  • How do we understand hadiths which seemingly describe black people negatively?

Would it Be Wrong To Avoid Interracial Marriages For Cultural Considerations?

  • Are you racist if you don’t want to marry someone from outside your race? The following answer discusses some prophetic direction in marriage.

How Do I Deal With Racist Attitudes at Gatherings?

  • Self-hate will lead to a dull fate.

Are the Islamic Rulings Regarding Marriage Racist?

  • Islam doesn’t teach us to be racist. Many people, including Muslims, are simply misinformed.

 

Regarding Sincerity: A Conversation About Truthful Intention and Self Accountability – By Dr. Mahmoud Masri

Dr. Mahmoud Masri

There’s a story in ‘al-Risala al-Qushayriyya’ of a young man who regularly attended a gathering (majlis), when he heard a shaykh discussing sincerity: how is it, how should it be when performing actions, etc. The young man found this heavy upon himself, and from that day forward he made a firm intention that he would not attend the gathering anymore, and refrained from going until the point he was harmed because of that. The Shaykh noticed his absence and asked regarding him. He eventually met with him and asked him why he was absent; he answered, “I heard from your words and was afraid for myself”. The Shaykh replied to him, “My son, that’s not the solution. We point you to sincerity (ikhlas) in actions, not to abandoning actions!”

Act! Thoughts such, “I’m doing this pious act and I fear the interest of people and their interest in my actions” may come to a person. One must not pay attention to this and should correct their intention. Even if he is actually one of the ostentatious, he should remain upon the action, and continue the deed. Like when they said, “We sought knowledge for other than Allah, and knowledge refused to be for any but Allah.”

Every action is such! Just like prayer may not be perfect because of what comes to the person of thoughts and notions; the solution isn’t to abandon prayer all together. Rather, the solution is in rectification, and this is done with training.

It is upon the person to adhere to actions, even if notions, whispers, or thoughts come to him. Thoughts of the self are like whispers of Devil: their remedy is to disregard them.

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In the issue of the person who doesn’t like notoriety, and in this state, thoughts of people noticing this come to him.  This is from the hidden and intricate matters that are warned against in spiritual training.  As mentioned earlier, the approach here is to disregard these thoughts and to continue the actions he was doing. This is how these thoughts and things which resemble them go away.

One thing that helps the person in this is clarity (as-Safaa) and of the means of obtaining it are:

  • remembrance of Allah (dhikr)
  • good companionship (suhbah)
  • self striving (mujahadah)
  • self training and exercise (tadreeb wa riyadhatu-nafs)

You cannot remove darkness, but you can bring light. When light becomes present, darkness disappears. 

Whoever knows Allah is not the slave of fame nor of obscurity; rather, he will be a slave of Allah. Whatever state Allah places him in he submits to Him, outwardly and inwardly, and he doesn’t pay attention to anything else.  If he places him in one situation he is content, if he places him in another, he is content. He doesn’t look back on these matters.

As for the issue regarding people venerating a person for his work in da’wah while he doesn’t see himself deserving such treatment from them since there are people more knowledgeable than him, deserving something comes from Allah. If we were to look at worthiness then none of us would actually qualify by ourselves. What occurred is that which the divine will selected, so it’s from Allah’s decree and we have no control over the matter.

Furthermore, don’t look at the external and apparent. Rather, look at the fact that Allah is the one who moves them and their hearts; and that you are similar to them in that you are in Allah’s possession. You exchange the same love and respect. See in everything that it is from Allah, and say, “All praise is due to Allah” and this will push you to many things.

It is said, “Whoever has good opinion of you, work towards realizing it.”

Not by saying, “You spoke the truth” or “What you said regarding me and your good opinion of me is true, I am exactly what you say and think of me”.

Rather, the meaning is to act in accordance with their good opinion, make them truthful by actually doing the actions; that you are actually like that!

It has also been said:

When a rumor spread that Abu Hanifah used to pray Fajr with the wudu of ‘Isha he forced that upon himself and took it as a sign for himself from Allah. 

O Allah grant us sincerity.

 

Taken from the words of Shaykh Dr. Mahmoud Masri, click here to read the Arabic original.

Translated by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Can We Talk About Biryani For A Moment? by Asma K Arif

“We got to feed them after the event otherwise no one will come” goes the mantra in the lead up to many Islamic programs. Asma K Arif questions why it is that Muslims struggle to organize successful programs without the element of food.

 

Disclaimer: Though the intention to offend is not present by the author of this article, this could seriously offend those who like eating briyani, fried food, pilau every day or love their intake of fizzy drinks. Read on with caution.

Otherwise No One Will Come

“We got to feed them after the event otherwise no one will come”

The first time I heard this was in my first year of university, sitting in an Islamic Society meeting. The suggestion that an hour-long lesson by a local Imam did not warrant food was very quickly refuted. After all, when dozens or hundreds of people have come out of their homes to sit in a hall to learn or expand their knowledge, the mind will start stirring and so will the digestive juices. It is only right to placate these digestive juices so that the participants do not need to worry about cooking or eating when they return home.

That was back in 2003 and we are now in 2017.

I get the logic and that this line of thinking comes from a place of generosity. I really do. I also appreciate the long hours, sleepless nights, and anxiety that goes into running community events.

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Now keeping the above points in mind, I want us all to picture the following scenario.

It is Rabi al Awwal, the blessed month on the Islamic lunar calendar when Muslims come together to increase their celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Most Muslims already, on a daily basis, honour and emulate the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, but during Rabi al Awwal there are more frequently held community events commemorating his birth, peace and blessings be upon him.

Venues are kitted out with prophetic food workshops, arts and crafts activities tailored around learning something about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him; singing praises, story time sessions, bouncy castles or archery sessions outside and some even are fortunate enough to have real life relics from the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him…all of this to instill love in the hearts of all, young and old. No doubt, knowing the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is a worthy and enjoyable goal.

The energy at each session is electric and colourful, everyone from the children, parents and organisers are on a spiritual high, all eager to learn more. Even though the event is now coming to an end and everyone is ushered to the food hall, the energy is still high as children share their happiest moments from the day with their parents or the new friend they have just made.

The attendees enter a hall and are advised to sit down in rows. In front of them: Spicy fried or roasted chicken, fried lamb samosas, spicy chicken biryani, with a spicy yoghurt and fizzy pop. And let us not forget the “sweet dish”, usually overly saturated in refined sugar. Oh, and there is a salad, cucumbers at best.

The mixing of two meats, the deluge of spices, the clash of hot and cold foods together, the fizzy pop, etc. all enter the stomachs of each participant and something changes: the electric and colourful energy from the events prior to the meal is turning dull and torn.

There is a stressful tension in the air…but it cannot be the roasted chicken or lamb, or the incorrect food combination of rice and meat which is causing our brain confusion as to which enzyme to release to digest it all… no, it must be the tension we are feeling from the organisers running around trying to serve us. Yes, let us blame them.

The children who were just a few moments ago singing about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, are now talking like the animals they are eating (some swearing, some inaudible and others screaming at another). Did someone just shout out goody bags? Yes, there are going to be goody bags! Red cherry carbonated pop, sweets filled with artificial colours (one even with the warning that it can cause change of behaviour in children), sugared cakes with that extra bit of icing on top (because no cake is worthy of being called a cake if it does not have a mountain of sugar on the top of it), and a marketing pen with sticky notes.

After the event, parents rush into the cars with a headache and the need for a cup of caffeine to survive the journey home. Children are munching on the “goodies” filled with artificial colours, refined sugar, emulsifiers, preservatives and a whole lot of things they cannot even read let alone make sense of… till eventually, they recall their day was great because they got a goodie bag, which tasted so good.

This Needs To Stop!

This is a real-life event that has happened repeatedly for a very long time. Please, it needs to stop.

I am a mother of three and I know children (let alone us adults) need to eat after a lot of activities. However, my question to you is: would it have been better to give the children a meal that embodied the meal of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to continue the theme of these celebrations? Don’t we want to nourish the children physically, emotionally and spiritually?

Imagine filtered or spring water being offered to participants throughout the activities so that by the time they are at the “meal table” they are well hydrated and so may have already satiated their hunger pangs. As they have drunk water before their meal they gain reward for following the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. And hey, look at this scientific fact, since they are no longer drinking water with their meals they diminish the process of putrefaction to occur in the digestive system and thus, the person reduces their risk of digestive issues.

Imagine some barley bread with a vegetable based soup, olive oil, vinegar, beetroot, dates, cucumbers scattered across the rows for everyone to try as and when they wished. A lesson being taught whilst they eat to allow the congregation to reflect and appreciate the food in front of them and its link to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. The parents taking mental notes of what non-prophetic food they can dispose of in their kitchen and what food is aligned with the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and thus needs to be welcomed into their home. Surely this would have left the participants in a better spiritual, physical and emotional state?

Eating Right…Too Expensive?

For those arguing it is more expensive to eat organic or Prophetic foods, I would like you to try it because it does not have to be more expensive. Traditionally, the rich ate meat and the poor ate fruit and vegetables or wait for it… fasted… so applying this principle, eating meat would be the most expensive option.

Here is another handy tip: if you cut out the meat from the events all together (because newsflash: the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, barely ate meat) then you will reduce your expenses. That money could go towards better goodie bags – children love post it notes, pictures to colour in, pens, jigsaws, books, or some form of construction.

Cutting out the meat will also give the participants a spiritual, physical, and emotional benefit. In certain cultures,  unmarried men or women who had anger issues were prohibited meat in their diet. Some cultures even limit certain meats amongst women, believing that it causes them hormonal problems.

But the Kids Won’t Eat It…

For those arguing children will not try food that is different to what they are used to at home, I would like to argue two points.

Firstly: there was a convert family at one of the events and I heard the child ask her mother what the rice was called. She clearly had never eaten a biryani before and she still managed to eat it, albeit with difficulty due to all the spices.

Secondly: there are a lot of children who attend these events who also go to a school where a variety of dishes are given that may not be the staple menu of what they eat at home… and yet they try it.

We as adults, in so many ways, deprive our children of using their curiosity to learn something new. We put them down before they have even tried these new foods. Let us take a step back and see what happens when they are offered prophetic food with an explanation of what each is. Let us also be proactive in introducing the prophetic foods and learning about the prophetic way of eating and drinking in our households so that it is not alien to them when they go to the Islamic events. This in turn will make it a lot easier for the event organisers to not succumb to the existing fear “if there is no food, the crowd will not come”.

What About “The After Party”?

It has to be said – many event organisers look forward to “the after-party” at the local steak house – a non-prophetic meal of beef, depleted of any nutrition, followed by a gelato dessert – all in celebration of the hard work one has put into an event before slumber overtakes them. Amazingly the effects of this “after party” meal are instantaneous since there is a link between the food we eat and our mental state. For the sake of one’s physical, emotional and spiritual state, is it not time to accept the steak house meal is not benefiting you, take the blinkers off, and make an intention to change?

To conclude, it takes one cog in the wheel to get the rest of the cogs moving, so let us be proactive and understand it is a moral responsibility for the event organisers and parents to educate themselves on the food they are eating; to monitor how far or close it is to the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him; and to make active steps to change their diet so that they can gain the proximity they seek with the best of mankind, peace and blessings be upon him. This, I assure you, will result in them gaining a stronger physical, emotional and spiritual being; and the fear of “We got to feed them after the event otherwise no one will come” will naturally diminish. Who knows, it may even become an extinct fear in the next year or so. It is possible. And Allah Knows Best.

 

Asma K Arif is an advocate for the earth, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother of three creative souls. She nurtures wombs as a mizan abdominal therapist, and is pursuing the knowledge of prophetic medicine.

Feature photo by Pranjal Mahna.

Be A Mercy Warrior (30 Deeds, 30 Days), By Shaykh Yahya Rhodus & Imam Amin Muhammad

Be A Mercy Warrior, By Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Amin Muhammad & Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

30 Days, 30 Deeds
Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Every night, our scholars in residence explore one simple deed that could have far reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Every day we’ll make the intention to put that teaching into practice. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or putting service to others at the top of our list of priorities, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎  gave us: the best of character.

Daily at 8:10 pm EST. Attend in person at SeekersHub Toronto or watch live.

Let’s #GiveLight to Millions More

We envision a world in which no one is cut off from the beauty, mercy and light of the Prophetic ﷺ example. A world where the dark ideology of a few is dwarfed by radiant example of the many who follow the way of the Prophet ﷺ. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support. This Ramadan, we need you to help us #GiveLight to millions more. Here’s how.

 

Muslim Communal Obligation: Stories That Will Have You In Tears

Imagine spending years saving up for hajj. And then imagine, not being able to go because you gave all your money away, but Allah accepts your hajj anyway. This is the story of Ali, a humble cobbler from Damascus whose random act of sacrifice fulfilled the Muslim communal obligation – fard kifayah – of hundreds of thousands of others.
Imagine facing Allah on the Day of Judgement, while standing next to a man, woman or child from your community who suffered neglect, abuse, injustice hunger and deprivation. What will our excuse be? “I thought someone else would take care of it” might not cut it.

Every single Muslim needs to hear this khutbah by Imam Khalid Latif.


Imam Khalid Latif - Muslim Communal ObligationImam Khalid Latif is a University Chaplain for New York University, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at NYU, and a Chaplain for the NYPD. He is also the co-founder of Honest Chops, the first-ever all-natural/organic halal butcher in NYC, the Muslim Wedding Service, an agency specializing in providing charismatic and inspirational marriage officiants for wedding ceremonies. Sincere thanks to ICNYU for the recording of his Friday prayer sermon on Muslim communal obligation, or fard kifayah.

Resources on Muslim communal obligation:

Show The World What It Means To be Muslim – Linda Sarsour

At a recent UMMA-Centre gala dinner, American-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour says the time has come for us to show people what it means to be Muslim. She asks her audience, Allah has given each of us so much – homes, families, livelihood and much, much more so what will we say when Allah asks us on the Day of Judgement, what have you given back? We all love the countries our families come from, our “home-countries” or where Muslims are suffering but what does it say about us that we have done so little for those suffering on our very doorsteps?
Watch her passionate call to a live of service and hopefulness.

Linda-SarsourLinda Sarsour is an American-Palestinian activist best known for her media appearances, campaigns for human rights and in particular, her efforts toward  greater justice for those unfairly treated by the American legal system. Sarsour is currently the Executive Director of the Arab-American Association of New York, USA. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Resources for seekers:

“Only The Dead Stand Still” – Dr Bano Murtuja on Muhammadan Activism

Dr Bano Murtuja on Muhammadan Activism

Bano-MurtujaDr Bano Murtuja argues that being an ‘activist’ is the natural state of a believer, the one Allah ‘brings to life’ – and being alive is to change as necessary. However, Dr Bano warns that we have collectively failed in this responsibility. Find out what she means in the above video.

Dr. Bano is a co-founder and the first managing director of SeekersHub Toronto. Her training includes successfully completed the three-year Micro Madrasa Program in the United Kingdom, with direct study under Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa, Ustadha Nagheeba Hayel, and Shaykh Haroon Hanif.

Dr Bano is the mother of several young children and is the Managing Director of Nader Khan’s First Spring Records company. She is a contributor to the SeekersHub Answers service and has extensive experience as a counselor and mentor, as a community leader and activist and is an experienced public speaker. She is an engaging and effective teacher, whose intelligence, insight, commitment, and concern have benefited countless troubled and sincere souls.

Dr Bano Murtuja’s writings on SeekersHub include

Resources for seekers:

Do You Want to Learn More?

Consider taking an online course with SeekersHub. It’s free for everyone, anywhere in the world. There are over 30 titles to choose from, including Understanding the Prophetic Way: Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith Explained.

Activism & Social Change: Q&A and Closing Dua

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, and Ustadha Shireen Ahmed answer critical questions about activism, social change, and the true spirit of service in Islam.

This podcast is from a recent seminar at SeekersHub Toronto, on Activism & Social Change.

About the Activism & Social Change seminar:

Want to save the world? Given the troubling nature of events around the globe, many of us are turning to activism in order to bring on positive social change. Learn how to root your activism in Prophetic tradition, make a positive impact on society and uphold excellence in your concern for others.

In this timely and important seminar Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore what activism and service mean and share practical guidelines and keys of how to express one’s concerns and serve with excellence.

All SeekersHub classes and programming are free. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Why Do We Serve? What is Prophetic Concern? by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Who was the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and what was his concern for his community? In this powerful talk, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin describes the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his deep concern for the well-being of all of Allah’s creation.

Using anecdotal examples, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin paints a beautiful picture of what it means to be a concerned Muslim who reflects Prophetic concern in the modern context.

This podcast is from a recent seminar at SeekersHub Toronto, on Activism & Social Change.

About the Activism & Social Change seminar:

Want to save the world? Given the troubling nature of events around the globe, many of us are turning to activism in order to bring on positive social change. Learn how to root your activism in Prophetic tradition, make a positive impact on society and uphold excellence in your concern for others.

In this timely and important seminar Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore what activism and service mean and share practical guidelines and keys of how to express one’s concerns and serve with excellence.

All SeekersHub classes and programming are free. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Prophetic Principles for Serving With Excellence, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

What is the purpose of serving humanity? Why has Allah made us responsible for ensuring the preservation of good for other people? Listen to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani as he answers these and other fundamental questions, which shape our view of service and ultimately decide how and why we serve.

This podcast is from a recent seminar at SeekersHub Toronto, on Activism & Social Change.

About the Activism & Social Change seminar:

Want to save the world? Given the troubling nature of events around the globe, many of us are turning to activism in order to bring on positive social change. Learn how to root your activism in Prophetic tradition, make a positive impact on society and uphold excellence in your concern for others.

In this timely and important seminar Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed and Ustadh Amjad Tarsin explore what activism and service mean and share practical guidelines and keys of how to express one’s concerns and serve with excellence.

All SeekersHub classes and programming are free. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.