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Advice in Times of Hardship, after the Chapel Hill shootings and other incidents

habib-umar.pngAnswered by Sayyidi al-Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) on Muwasala.org

These are difficult times for Muslims in America. Recently young Muslims have been killed and an Islamic centre has been burnt down. What advice do you have for us?

These are some of the tribulations that occur at the end of time. Following the correct moderate path is what deflects these tribulations.

Muslims should follow the example of those that Allah describes in the Qur’an:

“Many a prophet was killed[1] with a number of devoted men beside them but they never lost heart due to what befell them in Allah’s way. They were not weakened and they did not give in. Allah loves those who are steadfast. All that they said was: ‘Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our transgressions, make our feet firm and assist us against those who reject faith.’ So Allah gave them a reward in this world and the best reward of the Hereafter, and Allah loves the people of excellence.” (3.146 -8)

Just as Allah gave the previous nations the reward of this life and the next, Allah; out of His generosity, will give a similar or even better reward to someone who says the same thing and attains the same state.

Muslims should beware of doing anything that contravenes the Sacred Law or of denying anyone their rights. Their actions should reflect the true teachings of Islam. Allah will give them support in the face of what they are suffering. Those who are involved in calling to Allah should remind people of what we have just mentioned and try to make people’s faith firm. They should aim to prevent things like this happening.

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[1] Another reading of the Qur’an would translate as: ‘Many of the pious fought with the Prophets..’

Distorting Islamic tradition in our responses to the Chapel Hill shooting – Sh Hamza Yusuf

hamza-yusuf.pngOn behalf of the board, faculty, staff, and students of Zaytuna College, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the parents, family, and friends of the three beautiful young Muslims—Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha—who were tragically and callously murdered last week in North Carolina. I had met Suzanne Barakat, Deah’s sister, some years ago when she attended a Rihla program in Maryland. Since the murders, she has represented her family in an exemplary manner on different programs on national television, voicing her love and her great loss with dignity and intelligence.

Unfortunately, some of the reaction in the Muslim community has been to see the death of the three young Muslims who were killed as somehow fortunate for them, with one imam going so far as to say in his Friday sermon that he “envied these martyrs” who were now in Paradise. This is a complete distortion of the Islamic tradition’s understanding of unjust violence and it plays into the disturbing and inaccurate narrative that Muslims love death. A perverse death cult in the tradition of the Hashashin (from where we get our English word “assassin”) has emerged today among a small minority of heterodox Muslims. In these trying times, it is important that we remember that all life is precious and that grief, as displayed and articulated by Suzanne Barakat, is not only natural but prophetic.

Our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, grieved. He cried out of sadness when his son, Ibrahim, died. He did not say, “I’m happy for him.” Instead, he said, “The eye weeps, and the heart grieves, but we say only what pleases our Lord.” This is the natural and prophetic response to tragedy. Furthermore, the year the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, lost his beloved wife, Khadijah, and his protector and uncle, Abu Talib, is known in the biographical literature as the “Year of Depression.” Feeling grief over the loss of those beloved to us is human nature.

Our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, told us not to wish for death but to ask for a long life that enables one to serve God through devotion and serve God’s creation through charity, kindness, and productive labor. This is exactly what these three young people were doing. They met their Lord in the best of states despite the terror inflicted on their young and innocent souls.

Our prayers are with their families at this difficult time. We hope that the wrongful loss of their lives becomes a catalyst for positive change on many fronts. We hope that all Americans begin to better understand the deep prejudice being perpetrated under the guise of patriotism—a prejudice ironically against patriotic American Muslim citizens who love their country and want to give back to a land that has provided them with great opportunities in education, work, and service.

“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor Abu-Salha said in an interview months before her tragic death. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There are so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions—but here, we’re all one.”

We have a window of opportunity now to educate people about who these three young people were and what they were committed to in their lives: feeding and medically serving the homeless, helping refugees, displaying the best neighborly qualities, and most of all living a true and accurate life of devotion, prayer, and charity.

Sincerely, with tears and condolences,
Hamza Yusuf
President
Zaytuna College

Imam Zaid Shakir’s khutbah on the Chapel Hill shooting

Imam Zaid Shakir addresses the Chapel Hill shooting in his Friday khutbah in Michigan.

See also, his comments shortly after the tragedy unfolded,

“May the deaths of these beautiful young people, and all others who have perished as a result of senseless, inexcusable violence, anywhere, not be in vain. May they motivate us all to do more to stop this insanity, because all of their lives do truly matter.”

…and advice for parents who are struggling to explain the incident to their children

Resources for Seekers:

Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice
As He Breathed His Last – Imam al-Ghazali’s Last Poem
Do Something about it!
Anger, Restraint, Wisdom and the Prophetic Message in Our Times (Interview with Habib Ali)
The Soul’s Journey after Death and The Day of Judgement
On the killing of three young American Muslims

Explaining the Chapel Hill shooting to children

A moving and age appropriate guide for parents struggling to explain the Chapel Hill tragedy to their children, written by California-based teacher, Hina Khan-Mukhtar:

Image: Namee Barakat and his wife Layla Barakat, parents of shooting victim Deah Shaddy Barakat, react as a video is played during a vigil in Chapel HillMany parents have been asking how to talk about the Chapel Hill homicides with their children. Here is what I wrote to a Facebook friend today. I am focusing on the lives of the three who were killed, not their deaths. I discussed this with my 7th graders today as well. I reminded them that death is inevitable whether we live five days, 25 years, or a 100. Every single one of us will experience death – it is a guarantee.

The point is what was the total sum of our lives? These three martyrs lived full lives of service and benefit to others in their “short” lives. There are many witnesses who testify to their inherent goodness. Their last FB posts were about feeding the homeless and taking care of refugees. Deah’s tweet was about wanting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I shared the interview Yusor did with her Islamic school principal and pointed out how grateful and kind she was in her manners and in her speech. We talked about how do we want to be remembered? If we die tomorrow, what will our friends and our social media friends say about us? Will the poor and the hungry miss us? How many people will want to come to our funerals? Yes, we live our lives to please Allah, but how we affect people matters too.

I reminded them to pray for safety and to know that no one can harm us unless Allah wills it. People say that those three had “their whole lives in front of them” and that “their futures were taken from them”. No, they didn’t and, no, they weren’t. This is exactly how much life Allah had written for them. None of us know when our end is coming, but we need to prepare for that inevitable day when it does.

I told them that it is still our duty to do whatever we can to ensure that this type of heinous crime doesn’t happen again, insha’Allah, but in the end, we know that Allah has created both demonic people and angelic people, and we pray that we are of those people who are most pleasing to Him.

We are either benefiting people and the world or we are harming people and this world…there is no neutral ground. It’s one or the other. We have to all assess our own lives and see what kind of impact we are making on our friends, family, and society at large.

Hicks’ first wife left him, citing cruelty on his part (it’s in the official records). His neighbors say he was a belligerent man and many people had reported him to the apartment complex HOA as a nuisance. He loved those tools that can be used to harm and kill (i.e. guns).

Deah, Yusor, and Razan are spoken about by everyone with nothing but the highest of praise. Two were in dentistry and the other was in architecture. Their tools of choice (dental instruments and architect’s materials) were used to heal and bring beauty to people and the world. What do we love? What do ppl have to say about us? Will it be a relief to others when we are gone, or will the world mourn our passing?

 

Resources for Seekers:

Imam Zaid Shakir on the Chapel Hill shooting

zaidshakir1As-Salaam Alaikum,

Our condolences to the families of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and her sister Razan, the three young Muslims who were murdered yesterday in North Carolina.

May their entrance into Paradise be swift and sure, as is the case for the martyr (a martyr is an innocent victim of violence, not a suicide bomber).

Many are complaining of the lack of media coverage around this event. The sad fact is that the mainstream media that recently brought us “I am Charlie” has no interest in humanizing Muslims. The deceased were too full of life and positive energy to meet the stereotype of the evil, sneaky, not to be trusted Muslim. Why provide free humanizing coverage to the adherents of an evil ideology, hellbent on taking over the country. The smiles, vitality and genuine concern for others exhibited by the deceased will likely be dismissed as Taqiyya, self-serving deception.

As for their self-proclaimed atheist killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, there is no way he could be an adherent of an evil ideology. He probably never heard of Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens or their humanized atheist ilk who openly call for the indiscriminate mass murder of Muslims. He’ll likely be declared insane, perhaps he went to view American Sniper and lost it.

May the deaths of these beautiful young people, and all others who have perished as a result of senseless, inexcusable violence, anywhere, not be in vain. May they motivate us all to do more to stop this insanity, because all of their lives do truly matter.

‪#‎MuslimLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎ChapelHillShooting‬

Imam Zaid Shakir
11th February 2015

 

Resources for Seekers:

Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice
As He Breathed His Last – Imam al-Ghazali’s Last Poem
Do Something about it!
Anger, Restraint, Wisdom and the Prophetic Message in Our Times (Interview with Habib Ali)
The Soul’s Journey after Death and The Day of Judgement
On the killing of three young American Muslims

On the killing of three young American Muslims

ChapelHillThree young American Muslims, a husband, wife and sister, were killed in their North Carolina home today.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oun.

May Allah grant Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21 and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, His Pardon and Mercy, and may He grant their families beautiful patience, ameen.

Law enforcement authorities have charged a 46-year-old male suspect, who turned himself in.

Suzanne Barakat, the sister of Deah Barakat, gave this interview to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Just under a year ago, Razan Abu-Salha helped produce this video on Optimism, the lost Sunnah.

Resources for Seekers:

Imam Zaid Shakir on the Chapel Hill shooting
Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice
As He Breathed His Last – Imam al-Ghazali’s Last Poem
Do Something about it!
Anger, Restraint, Wisdom and the Prophetic Message in Our Times (Interview with Habib Ali)
The Soul’s Journey after Death and The Day of Judgement