Posts

Four Obstacles to Obedience to Allah

We’ve all been through the moment where we’re ready to make change and get right with God, but when we try, we just can’t seem to follow through. Either our plans aren’t sustainable, or our old ways are just too tempting. In this series of lectures, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, chaplain at the University of Toronto, tells us about the four obstacles to obedience:

Ignorance, Weakness of Faith, Long Hopes and Illicit Food

Take Ustadh Amjad’s free SeekersHub course: The Prophetic Call: Imam Haddad’s Counsel on Calling to Allah Explained.

Resources for Seekers

We are grateful to the Muslim Chaplaincy at UofT for these recordings. Cover photo by Darwin Bell.

Sunnahs for a Healthy Community

Is your community torn apart by petty jealousies, conflicts and apathy? Do you feel like you don’t belong, or have nowhere to turn to for spiritual fulfillment?

Our friends from SeekersHub Perth Point composed a list from the One Body Study Circle, where Ustadh Amjad Tarsin offered from practical tips of how to rejuvenate those community bonds and nurture healthy communities.

The greatest crime: Apathy of good people & spiritual cannibalism

  • The greatest crime is not the evil of evil people, it is the apathy of good people.
  • One of the great scholars (ulema) of our times, Murabit Al Hajj, could never handle backbiting. When it occurred, he would stop it, or walk away.
  • The Prophet said, whoever relieves a tribulation or difficulty for a believer, Allah will remove a calamity from them on the Day of Judgement. We have a degree of duty of mercy to all of humanity and all of creation.
  • Whoever veils the faults of another Muslim, Allah will veil their faults in this world and the hereafter, and whoever exposes the fault of another Muslim, Allah will expose their faults.
  • A lot of people commit sins, then they feel like they can never get close to Allah. That is from the devil (Shaitaan), not from our faith.
  • Backbiting is like spiritual cannibalism, and it’s very easy to fall into.

Prevention of harm…or establishing the good?

  • A principle of sharia is the prevention of harm is of a higher priority than the establishment of benefit. The Prophet ﷺ, said at the end of times there would be a lot of bloodshed. He gave us advice: to keep our tongue and keep our hands away from evil. This means not to incite not to incite things verbally, and to not actually engage in the harm of others.
  • The Prophet ﷺ said to assist your brother whether he is the oppressor or the one being oppressed. Assisting an oppressor means to stop them.

I was sick and you did not visit Me…

  • Visiting the sick builds love, and the Prophet ﷺ said the one who does not show compassion to the elderly is not one of us.
  • Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection, “O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.” The person will say, “O my Lord, how can I visit you when you are the Lord of the Worlds, You are unlike your creation, You are free of any possibility of even having something like this.” Allah will say, “Did you not know my servant was sick and you did not visit them?” If you had visited that person you would have found Me with them.”

Watering the tree of love…not macho enough?

  • Imam Al Haddad said brotherhood and sisterhood is like a tree; you water that tree by visiting each other from time to time.
  • According to hadith, a man was walking on a path for the sake of Allah to visit a brother. An angel appeared before him and asked, “Where are you going?” The man said, “I’m visiting someone who is beloved to me.” The angel asked, “Is there something you need from him, like a favour?” The man said, “No, I’m just doing it for Allah. “The angel said, “I bring you glad tidings from Allah, that Allah loves you for you going to visit your brother.”
  • The Prophet ﷺ said that if you love someone you should tell them. Nowadays, people feel too macho to tell each other that they love them.
  • Another thing that cultivates love is giving gifts; gifts that they would like.
  • Nowadays people give nicknames that are offensive or silly. Give people nicknames that are beautiful.
  • Defend the honour of people even if they don’t know about it, and make duaa for people in their absence. Make duaa without them even asking you.
  • Make excuses for people, look for their good qualities. It’s easy to look for the bad qualities of any human, however, we should be searching for their good qualities.
  • Reconciling between people is very important, as people are able to hold a lot of grudges against each other. It’s so important that it’s even permissible to lie to reconcile between people.
  • Habib Ali Jifri mentioned that a good way to know your place in another’s heart, is look inside yourself and see how much you love them.
  • A teacher’s love for their students is far greater than the students love for them. The teacher may not express it in words however their love and concern is greater.
  • Cornell West said that he has seen a lot of people who are successful in life because they were supported by someone who gave them a lot of love. In contrast, many people who have difficulty in life were not shown much love. That’s why the Prophet ﷺ said, “You will not enter paradise until your faith is complete and your faith is not complete until you love one another. Should I tell you what will build love between each other? Spread the Salaam (greetings of peace) between each other.
Feature photo by IIOC Masjid Omar AlFarouk.

 

Resources for Seekers

 

“A night worth 80 years in worship and 80 years in sins forgiven” – Laylatul Qadr

Be prepared to feel your heart swell with hope and tears well in your eyes with this stunning elucidation of Laylatul Qadr. What is it? When is it? What do they say about it? And perhaps most importantly, how do you and I beneficially capture it?All the essentials in this concise 25 min recording.Ustadh Amjad Tarsin is a brilliant young scholar, a teacher at SeekersHub and Muslim Chaplain at the University of Toronto.

Join us for an all night program on the 27th of Ramadan, 13th July 2015, in Mississauga, Canada – it’s FREE and everyone including families with children is welcome. Details are here.

Bringing Certainty to the Heart: A Step-by-Step Guide by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

amjad tarsinThe original link can be found here
Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad of Tarim, known as “The Pole of Inviting and Guiding to Allah” (Qutb al-Da‘wah wal-Irshad), was the reviver of the 12th century A.H. He was known to be a master of the inward and outward sciences of Islam, and he had a special gift for being able to convey complex meanings in a way that was understood by all.
He had a deep knowledge of Allah that only comes through the spiritual struggle of having a pure heart that is not distracted from Allah. He describes the path to such knowledge by saying,

“We have found knowledge, not by means of words and phrases, nor by jostling with other men, but by a heart freed from the world, by weeping deep in the night, and constant vigilance of the Almighty.”

Below are some pieces of guidance taken from his work, The Book of Assistance, on three ways to attain certainty (yaqīn). He begins his book with this chapter, stating that,

“…Certainty (yaqīn) is the essential thing, and all other noble, praiseworthy traits of character and good works are its branches and results.”

Certainty, as defined by Imam al-Haddad, is

“power, firmness and stability of faith so great that it becomes as a towering mountain which no doubts can shake and no illusions can rock.”

1. Allah’s Majesty & Perfection
The first and most essential way to attain certainty, according to the Imam, is for the servant to:

“listen attentively with his heart as well as his ears to verses and hadiths relating to God, His Majesty, Perfection, Magnitude, and Grandeur…”

The first advice here is to strengthen one’s certainty by listening with one’s heart and ears to the way Allah describes Himself, and the way His Beloved Messenger describes Him. Through constant reflection on the Quran and hadiths that relate to the Attributes of Allah, one gains certainty and light in their heart.
Here are a few verses we can ponder:

“God is the Light of the heavens and earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it– light upon light– God guides whoever He will to his Light; God draws such comparisons for people; God has full knowledge of everything.” (Qur’an 24.35)

“Believers, respond to God and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life. Know that God comes between a man and his heart, and that you will be gathered to Him.” (Qur’an 8.24)

“Can man not see that We created him from a drop of fluid? Yet–lo and behold!–he disputes openly, producing arguments against Us, forgetting his own creation. He says, ‘Who can give life back to bones after they have decayed?’ Say, ‘He who created them in the first place will give them life again: He has full knowledge of every act of creation. It is He who produces fire for you out of the green tree–lo and behold!–and from this you kindle fire. Is He who created the heavens and earth not able to create the likes of these people? Of course He is! He is the All Knowing Creator: when He wills something to be, His way is to say, “Be”– and it is! So glory be to Him in whose Hand lies control over all things. It is to Him that you will all be brought back.’” (Qur’an 36.77-83)

2. Marvels of Creation
The second method recommended by Imam al-Haddad is to reflect on the creations of the heavens and earth. As Allah mentions in the Quran,

“We shall show them Our signs in every region of the earth and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the Truth.” (Qur’an 41.53).

Being people of reflection (tafakkur) helps us ponder the marvels of Allah’s Power, which also brings about a deeper knowledge of Allah’s Attributes and Acts, once again strengthening the certainty in one’s heart.
Allah mentions those who reflect in the Qur’an:

“There truly are signs in the creation of the heavens and earth, and in the alternation of night and day, for those with understanding, who remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth: ‘Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose–You are far above that!–so protect us from the torment of the Fire.’” (Qur’an 3.190-191)

3. Faith & Action
The third method mentioned by Imam al-Haddad to attain certainty is for one to firmly and passionately perform the actions related to belief, both inward and outward. One of the ways that faith becomes firm in the heart is through putting it into action.
Seeking knowledge is not meant to be the pursuit of information to be used in intellectual debate, but rather as a path to knowing Allah and worshipping Him properly. Imam al-Haddad says that the proof that this brings certainty is Allah’s saying,

“But We shall be sure to guide to Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause.” (Qur’an 29.69)

These are three ways that bring certainty to the heart and below is a diagram that breaks these steps into parts. Every believer is capable of seeking certainty in this way.
Let us make time in our day to read the Qur’an with attentiveness so that it pierces our hearts; reflect on the marvels of Allah’s creation in nature; and strive to express our servitude in action and worship.

May Allah reward the Imam for his sincere concern and counsel to the believers.
We ask Allah for an increase in iman and the highest levels of certainty so that we may worship Him as though we see Him.
And success is from Allah and His assistance is sought.
Relevant resources:
Certainty vs uncertainty: Thoughts on the Occasion of the Middle Night of Shaaban – Shaykh Jihad Hashim Brown
Key Principles Relating to Certainty, Doubt, and Baseless Misgivings (waswasa)

On the Sacred Journey: Meeting at the Oasis of the 2014 Seekers Retreat “Awakening the Heart”

arabic-calligraphy35
Reflection by Maryam J. Mathieu

During the drive to Camp Couchiching for the annual SeekersHub Toronto retreat, all I could think about was what questions I could ask the scholars to help me figure out how to make hijra into a new life. For years, and especially since I converted to Islam a year and a half ago, I’d obsessed about where I want to go, besides where I am, and what I want to do, besides what I’m doing.
I thought the answer to my happiness and my salvation was just around the corner. I believed that somewhere else is where I needed to be in order to be who I want to be and do what I’m meant to be doing. I felt like the friends and community I yearned for were somewhere else, and the work I longed to be doing was something else. I believed that in order for me to be happy and beloved to All Mighty Allah, I needed to go find that community where I belonged and that work for His sake that I longed to be doing.
My mind turned and turned on these questions, but within hours of arriving at the retreat, that changed. In one of the very first lectures, before I could think of the right questions or find the opportunity to seek counsel from any of the scholars, the questions I couldn’t even articulate were answered with finality, Praise be to God.
In his lecture from the Hikam of ibn Ata’illah, Shaykh Ahmad Saad warned us of the barriers that prevent our hearts from waking up to hear All Mighty Allah’s Call and the Messages He Sends everyday to Guide us on our Journey to Him. One of these barriers, Shaykh Ahmad told us, is the danger of attachment to states, the belief that another state of being, whether it’s a place or way of living, is the key to our happiness and salvation.
Rather, he explains to us, the state we are in at the moment is the state we are meant to be in, and yearning for another state, believing it is the key to our happiness and salvation prevents us from achieving that very happiness and salvation. Our mission is in the moment, and we need to trust All Mighty Allah to bring us to successive beautiful states while we focus on navigating the terrain He lays at our feet and heeding His Guidance as we travel terrain we can only see with our hearts.
As Muslims, we understand that this life is temporary; it’s a bridge between worlds, and we’re travelers on a Journey to our eternal Home, insha’Allah. And as Muslims, we know we’re traveling together. We’re on a sacred caravan through the worlds, and we have a responsibility to help each other on this Journey. We are instructed by the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) to feed each other when we’re hungry, support each other when we’re weak and protect each other when we’re in danger. Our strength is in community, and it’s in unity and coming together to guide, protect and shelter each other from the ravages of the dunya that our success in the akhira, both individually and as an Ummah, depends. The question is not, who do I want to be helping on the Path, but rather, who has Allah put on my Path to help?
Being at the SeekersHub retreat, I realized that my mission as a Muslim is to be where I am, on the terrain that All Mighty Allah has placed me. I need to be here with excellence, and while I’m focusing on what is at my feet, I need to put total trust in All Mighty Allah to Guide me to the next state I am meant to be in, God Willing. I realized also that retreats like this one, and like the Al Maqasid retreat I was at just a couple weeks prior, are oases on this Journey. I may not be where I long to be, but here are the people I love all gathered in remembrance of The Most Merciful, preparing to return to their homes to do His work, God Willing.
As Muslims, we all recognize this Journey, on some level, but it is easy to forget our mission and the responsibilities of the trusts that All Mighty Allah has put in our care. We get transfixed by the kaleidoscope of our fears, desires, conflicts, jealousies, resentments and other fleeting impulses meant to divert our gaze from the Face of Allah. In the daily grind of life in the dunya, our internal map becomes shredded and worn out and our compass, our heart, becomes unbalanced. We focus on our own needs, or the needs of those we love, rather than focusing on our neighbors’ needs and our community’s needs. But this retreat reminded me that we’re all in this together.
That’s why retreats like this one are vital to us, as individuals and as an Ummah. They are an oasis on the Journey where we can pause from the frantic pace of life and have our scholars help us repair and update our maps while they help us re-calibrate our hearts. The Qur’an with the Sunnah is our map and our hearts are our compasses, and without both in working condition, we are lost.
These oases are also a place to meet up with fellow travelers and seekers who remind us of what it means to be a Muslim. They offer the kind of companionship that is the promise of Islam, but which is so often lacking in our communities, so much so that we can forget it even exists. I’ve begun to meet friends at these retreats who I hope will be reminders on my Path and who I pray will be my neighbors in the akhira, God-willing. It’s also an opportunity to drink deep from the Spring of faith and prophetic guidance, which we will need for the next leg of our Journey, before we reach the next oasis retreat.
So as my map was filled in and updated, my compass calibrated and my heart warmed by the fire of companionship with gentle and soft-hearted Muslims, I’m reminded of my sacred mission on my Journey. I’m given renewed faith and energy to undergo the trials and tribulations that are the nature of the Path through life, because it’s not where I will end up on my Path that is important. Rather it’s where I am now that matters, and my sacred mission is to navigate the terrain at my feet with faith, patience and excellence, and to trust Allah to take care of the rest. Ameen.

Welcoming the Sacred Month of Rajab – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

For original article: Click here
THE RAJAB LETTER
– compiled and translated by Sidi Amjad Tarsin (Allah preserve and increase him)
amjad tarsin[Treasures of Success and Happiness]
This is an excerpt from the book Kanz Al-Najah wa As-Suroor (“The Treasures of Success and Happiness”), a book highlighting the special qualities of each month. As the blessed and holy month of Rajab approaches (please check your local sightings or mosques to know when the month of Rajab begins in your area – http://www.crescentwatch.org/cgi-bin /Cw/cw.cgi ), hopefully this information will be of use in allowing us all to appreciate it and benefit from it:

So, my dear friend, put forth a great effort in the month of Rajab, may Allah have mercy on you. It is the season of great profits, so take advantage of your time! Whoever is spiritually sick due to their sins – know that the medicine has come.

[Virtues of Rajab]

  • Know that Rajab is a virtuous month in which worship is gloriously rewarded – especially fasting and seeking repentance (istighfar).
  • Also, making du’a during the eve of the first of Rajab is highly recommended. The Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, said, There are five nights in which du’a (supplication) is not rejected: the eve of Rajab, the 15th night of Sha’aban, the eve of Friday, on the eve of Eid Al-Fitr, and on the eve of Eid Al-Adha.”[Al-Suyuti in his Al-Jami].
  • On the 27th night of Rajab, the Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, was taken on the Isra wa Mi’raj (The Night Journey and Ascension to the Heavens). This was a great and glorious night, as is known to most Muslims, in which the Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, met his Lord and was given the commandment to perform the 5 daily prayers.
  • Rajab is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Quran (the four months are : Rajab, Dhul Qi’da, Dhul Hijjah, and Muharram):

إن عدة الشهور عند الله اثنا عشر شهرا في كتاب الله يوم خلق السموت والارض منها اربعة حرم

{The number of months is twelve according to Allah, in the decree of Allah, on the day Allah created the heavens and the earth; and four of them are sacred} (9:36)rajab

  • Rajab is Allah’s month in which He pours His Mercy upon the penitent and He accepts the actions that people have done for His sake. The Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, said, “Rajab is the month of Allah, and Sha’aban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.” (Imam Al-Suyuti in Al-Jami )
  • Scholars say: Rajab is the month of repentance ( istighfar ), and Sha’aban is the month of sending peace and mercy (salawat/durood shareef ) upon the Prophet, and Ramadan is the month of Qur’an.
  • One highly recommended act to do is say 70 times after the Fajr and ‘Isha prayers every morning and night of Rajab:

ربّ اغفر لي وارحمني وتب عليّ

Transliteration: “Rabb ighfir li w’ arhamni wa tub ‘alayya.”

Translation: Oh Allah forgive me, have mercy upon me, and grant me repentance.

  • Sayyidna ‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, used to allocate extra amounts of time for worship on four nights – the first night of Rajab, the nights before the two Eids, and the 15th night of Sha’aban.
  • It is also highly recommended to say the following Prophetic prayer (known as Sayyid Al-Istighfar or the Master of Repentance) 3 times every morning and every evening in Rajab:

الَّلهُمَّ أَنتَ ربِّي لا إِلهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ، خَلَقْتَنِي وأَنَا عَبْدُكَ، وأَنا عَلى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ ما استَطَعْتُ، أَعُوذُ بِكَ

مِن شرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ، أَبُوءُ لَكَ بنِعمَتِكَ عَليَّ وأَبُوءُ لَكَ بذَنبِي فاغفِرْ لِي، فإِنَّه لا يَغفِرُ الذُّنوبَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ

Transliteration: Allahumma anta rabbi la ilaha illa ant, khalaqtani wa ana ‘abduk, wa ana ‘ala ‘ahdika wa wa’adika ma astata’at, ‘audhu bika min shar ma san’at, abu’u laka bi ni’matika ‘allaya wa abu’u bi dhanbi, faghfir li fa’innahu la yaghfir al-dhunuba illa anta.
Translation: O Allah, you are my Lord, and there is no god but you. You created me and I am your servant, and I am upon the convenant to the best of my ability. I seek refuge in you from the evil I have brought upon myself. I admit all the blessings you have given me and I admit my sins, so forgive me, for no one can forgive sins save You.
And success is from Allah
——–
Relavent resources:

Habib Zayn’s Counsel on Syria and Burma

Habib Zayn’s Counsel on Syria and Burma

Translated by Sidi Amjad Tarsin

Download PDF or read below

This is a general counsel from Habib Zayn bin Sumayt to all the Muslims, especially the people of Syria and Burma, and all the lands of the Muslims in general—for relief and lifting of oppression, for the great victory and the rectification of states, protection from enemies, and for safety, security, and peacefulness:

Read these four sūrahs once in the morning and once in the evening:

1. Al-ʿAlaq (Sūrah 96)

2. Al-Qadar (Sūrah 97)

3. Al-Zalzalah (Sūrah 99)

4. Quraysh (Sūrah 106)

The benefit of reading these is that it brings about protection from the evil of the seen and unseen.

Also, read these sūrahs three times in the morning and evening:

1. Quraysh (Sūrah 106) 3x

2. Al-ʿAṣr (Sūrah 103) 3x

3. Al-Falaq (Sūrah 113) 3x

The benefit of reading these is so great that it suffices.

Our general counsel to our brethren who are distressed in Syria and anywhere else is to read the following verse 12,000 times:

Innā kafaynāka al-mustahziʾīn

“Indeed We are sufficient for you against the mockers.”

Qurʾān 15.95

We specifically request that this be distributed to all people, especially our brethren in Syria and Burma. Spread this information to everyone, may Allah protect you.

وصية عامة من الحبيب إلى جميع المسلمين ولأهل الشام وبورما خاصة وسائر بلاد المسلمين عامة


للفرج ورفع الحرج والنصر الكبير وصلاح الأحوال والحفظ من الأعداء والأمن والأمان والإطمئنان

قرآءة هذه السور الأربع مرة صباحاً ومرة مساء :
العلق __ إنا أنزلناه __ إذا زلزلت __ قريش
فائدتها : تكفيك شر أهل الظاهر والباطن

وقرآءة هذه السور الثلاث مرة صباحاً ومرة مساء :
قريش ٣ مرات __ العصر ٣ مرات __ الفلق ٣ مرات
فائدتها : ليس فيهن كاف وما فيهن كافٍ
___________________
والوصية العامة لإخواننا المكروبين في الشام وفي كل مكان
قرآءة هذه الآية { إنا كفيناك المستهزئين }١٢٠٠٠
الرجاء الخاص :
نشرها عاجلاً للناس قاطبة ، ونشرها بين إخواننا المكروبين في الشام وفي بورما
عمموا الخبر للجميع يرعاكم الله

Internationally renowned for his expertise in the sciences of jurisprudence and grammar amongst others, al-Habib Zayn b. Sumayt is sometimes known by the title “the young Shafi’i”. His journey began in Bogor, Indonesia, where he was born into a pious family, descending from Imam al-Husayn, grandson of the Messenger of Allah, salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam. Aged 16, he travelled and settled down in Hadramawt (Yemen), where he studied numerous legal and spiritual treatises with the region’s most renowned scholars. Foremost amongst them were the Mufti, al-Habib Muhammad b. Salim b. Hafiz and al-Habib ‘Alawi b. Shihab ad-Din.

8 years later, he was sent to al-Bayda’, where he assisted al-Habib Muhammad al-Haddar in teaching and da’wah duties, often travelling on horseback to neighboring villages, calling its inhabitants to Allah. It was here that his path crossed with that of al-Habib ‘Umar b. Hafiz, who benefited from Habib Zayn’s encyclopedic knowledge, in addition to engaging in calling to Allah together. 21 years later, Habib Zayn travelled to Madinah, where has since settled. May Allah preserve him and spread his benefit.


My Heroes: A Libyan Story – Amjad Tarsin

My Heroes: A Libyan Story

Amjad Tarsin

Bismillah

Now I understand. As I see waves of protesters breaking the muzzle of fear Gaddafi has put on the people for 42 years, now I understand. As I see young men and women sacrificing their lives to give other people a fighting chance to live a dignified existence, now I understand. As I see solidarity from all over the world calling out to Gaddafi with one voice: “Enough!” now I understand.

These events have affected me deeply, and have made me thankful to my people for their struggle. My heart swells with honor for them. My heart swells for the sacrifices of Umar al-Mukhtar and the truemujahideentoday who have dignified our Libyan existence, giving up their lives to Allah so others could be free. My heart swells at their firm resolve and their every call of, “La ilaha illa Allah!”

But my heart swells the most for my parents. My heart swells for every gray hair that has set itself upon their noble heads. My heart swells for every heartache and tear that has flown from their eyes. My parents who have sacrificed their lives fighting against the oppression of Gaddafi. Who have given up home and family to stand up for their principles. My parents who lived everyday with hope that they could one day return to a free Libya.

I never understood their struggle. I sometimes thought they were just holding on to the dreams of their youth, not living in reality. I would tell them, “Gaddafi has won. Let’s just accept that fact.” Several times I would even try to persuade my father to go back. “Just say a couple nice things about Gaddafi and we can go back.” He would look at me with a gaze with wrinkled eyes that had seen more than I could possibly imagine. It was a look of sad, but unshakable determination. Then, he would say, “I will not go back to Libya while Gaddafi is in power.”

I thought it was pride that stopped him. I thought it was some personal vendetta against Gaddafi. How wrong I was! My father gave up his entire world for Libya. In the years fighting against the monstrous regime he lost his father, his mother, his two brothers, and even his land. I would think to myself, “Why does he still care about Libya? Nothing’s even there for him.” I never understood why he fought so hard.

Now I understand.

Because it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about his family. It wasn’t about his land. It was about Libya. I think back to his gaze. It was a gaze of someone who would stand by his principles at any cost. A gaze of someone who would never give way to oppression. A gaze of a warrior carrying many scars. A gaze of a man. A man I wish I could be even half of.

I remember the look on my mother’s face when I went to Libya for the first time. She said to me, “Take my heart with you.” She would pray night and day to return to her country and see her elderly parents again. She would write articles against Gaddafi and poetry about her love for Libya. She would post her writings, as many others of those in opposition to Gaddafi would, on a Libyan blog. I would think to myself, “What good is this ever going to do?” In a way, I felt sorry for her. That was then. Now, I am inspired by her undying hope. Her resolve tonever give up. Her fight to the very end. She would fight for her people with whatever she had, even if it meant that she would never feel the sweet ocean breeze of Tripoli kiss her face again.

Now I understand.

So many times I did not understand that struggle of my parents. I did not understand their obsession with Libya’s politics. I did not respect their sacrifices. But now I understand. Now I understand that they would give every drop of blood in their bodies for the freedom and dignity of the Libyan people. My parents make my heart swell. In them, I see the dignity of my ancestors. In them, I see the courage of the youth supporting this new uprising. In them, I see the warrior saints. They are my heroes, and I am honored to be their son.