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How Do We Fight Shaytan? By Getting Married – Imam Zaid Shakir

zaid marriage

Imam Zaid Shakir visited SeekersHub Toronto on the evening of January 1st, dropping in for the marriage ceremony of a dear Hub student. Imam Zaid emphasized being agents of good in times when forces of corruption spread harm against families. One of the key means of good in creation is marriage.

Imam Zaid said, “Four things are from the Prophetic tradition: using the tooth-stick, perfume, shyness, and marriage. Marriage is a great sunna that we should strive to keep together and alive in the world. We should try to get married young. I got married when I was 21, but I was ready at 15. I just had to wait for the right young lady to come along.”

“Parents, if your children want to get married let them get married and if they can’t afford it, let them live in your home until they get on their feet. Don’t discourage them because there are all sorts of temptations out there. And Shaytan’s greatest delight is preventing people from staying married,” he continued. “And if he can do that by keeping them from getting married in the first place, then for him it’s all the better. He strives for that 50% divorce rate. But I think Shaytan wasn’t satisfied with just that; he figures that if he can get that other 50% who stay together to hate each other… then he’s happy.”

Imam Zaid concluded by sharing, “We are a community that fights back against Shaytan. Allah says in the Qur’an, ‘So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak.‘ (4:76) And how do we fight back? By reviving and keeping alive Prophetic traditions in the world, and one of the greatest of these traditions is marriage, which is the foundation of our families.

“Our marriages should be a source of great tranquility. Allah says in the Qur’an ‘And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.‘ (30:21) Love and mercy from Allah the Exalted facilitates the peace and tranquility.”

We have to take our marriages seriously, work on ourselves so that we make our marriages work, and resist the negative, satanic influences that harm and/or break up wholesome relationship. May Allah the Exalted pour His love and mercy into our marriages and make them a means of drawing closer to Him. Amin.

The Importance of Being a Very Public Muslim – Imam Zaid Shakir

The Importance of Being a Very Public Muslim

This post first appeared on Imam Zaid Shakir’s facebook page.

In the climate of fear and mistrust of Muslims being carefully cultivated by some elements in this country it is extremely important to be a very public, very visible, very talkative Muslim. Some Muslims would tend to shun this advice thinking that by “laying low” and being almost invisible they can get by or pass unnoticed.

This is exactly what the anti-Muslim forces want. They want Muslims to disappear from our society and when sisters take off hijabs, brothers take off their kufis or shave their beards and everyone silences themselves they are actually advancing the program of the racists by helping to create a society “without” Muslims.
As people become accustomed to not seeing Muslims, not hearing from Muslims not sensing a Muslim presence in their lives or communities, it becomes easier for the racists to enact policies that lead to the actual eradication of Muslims. This is a lesson history has taught us concerning the ways tyrannical regimes are consolidated. Hence, be very visibly Muslim!
Some will argue that it is very dangerous to be very assertively Muslim right now and will point to the recent attack on the Muslim girl and her friend on the Portland MAX. That incident supports rather than argues against the point I am making. To clarify, because one of the girls was identifiably Muslim, there was a massive public rallying to defend her right to be herself, a valued member of her community. If Muslims “disappear” what is the basis for anyone rallying on our behalf?
Challenging times are always fraught with danger, however, heroes are those who face the danger of their time and by so doing represent a challenge in their own right which others must respond to. Now is the time for heroes not cowards. Tyranny draws its life from a society of cowards and is eradicated by the courageous.
As the warning signs of tyranny begin to rear their despicable heads in our society let us starve them of air, cut off their roots. For insight into the nature of tyranny, I encourage everyone to read Timothy Snyder’s brief but very insightful book, “On Tyranny.” May these middle days of Ramadan be blessed.
Imam Zaid Shakir

What You Need To Know About Standing Rock

The Native American tribes of Standing Rock are protesting the construction of a pipeline to transport shale oil from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico across their land. This pipeline threatens their sacred sites and their way of life, their water and very livelihoods. The situation brings to mind countless like confrontations, but this time, with global support, the Sioux of Standing Rock may have turned history’s tide.

“Perhaps you have noticed that even in the slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.”—Black Elk

Since the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the Sioux of Standing Rock and other Six Nations Tribes have seen a great number of promises broken with devastating consequences. One of the most well-known battles of the Great Sioux War of 1876 between the Sioux, allied with Arapaho and Cheyenne, and the US Government was the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The war is also know as the Black Hills War due to the central object of contention between the Sioux Tribes and the Government, namely, the Black Hills—a site sacred to the Sioux. What sparked off the war was a 1874 violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty by General George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry. They entered the Black Hills and found gold, which started a gold rush on Sioux Lands. The Standing Rock Protests of today are, in a similar way, the result of a contemporary gold rush.

The Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota (Montana, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) were discovered in 1951. But only recently, with the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, has oil production boomed since 2000. This kicked off a modern day gold rush, and marked improvements in the economy of North Dakota.

“You have to follow your heart and it will tell you what you can do to help. It’s not for me to say, we need this, we want this, or we have to have this. It’s up to you. Just being here is enough for me: to know that you are here, and that you’re supporting us.”—Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II, to Imam Zaid Shakir

As a result of this oil production increased and shipment of Bakken Oil from the fields to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico became necessary. The solution to this logistic problem was pipelines. The main one being the Keystone Pipeline. However, several plans for new pipelines that can accommodate the volume produced have been on the table for years. One of the more notorious of these is Keystone XL, which has also been met with a great deal of resistance. This was, however, rejected by the Obama administration in 2015.

An alternate plan, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Bakken Pipeline, was made public by Dakota Access, LLC in July 2014. This plan, in turn, gave rise to the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests (NoDAPL) we see today. At the center of these protests are various Native American Tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux. A protest camp was established by a tribal elder in April 2016.

Mainstream media coverage of the protests has been very limited until recently. It seems clear that the coverage is nowhere near that given to the Keystone XL protests in their time. Despite that the protests have received a great deal of international attention and support from other tribal and religious communities throughout the world. Many Muslim leaders and groups have stepped up in support of NoDAPL, among them, Imam Zaid Shakir, who visited the camp in October 2016.

Sources and further reading:

1. From a local protest to a Global Movement: What Standing Rock is about and how it grew
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/standing-rock-standoff-how-north-dakotas-native-protest-became-an-americanmovement/article31764530/

2. Imam Zaid Shakir visits the protest camp.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xxt_0rnu-KE

3. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe History.
http://standingrock.org/history/

4. The bigger picture: “The Bakken is the most dangerous oil field to work in the U.S. The energy producers never pay for their mistakes.”
https://www.revealnews.org/article/in-north-dakotas-bakken-oil-boom-there-will-be-blood/

5. Bad News For The Bakken As Obama Administration Blocks Pipeline
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Bad-News-For-The-Bakken-As-Obama-Administration-Blocks-Pipeline.html

6. A Special Report on Standing Rock: The Environmental and Social Justice Consequences of the Dakota Access Pipeline
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/special-report-standing-rock-environmental-and-social-justice-consequences-dakota

7. Standing Rock protests: this is only the beginning. The world has been electrified by protests against the Dakota access pipeline. Is this a new civil rights movement where environmental and human rights meet?
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/12/north-dakota-standing-rock-protests-civil-rights

8. Standing Rock Sioux Pediatrician: Threat from Fracking Chemicals is “Environmental Genocide”
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/10/18/standing_rock_sioux_pediatrician_threat_from

9. The Injustice At Standing Rock Is An American Story
http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/10/29/the-injustice-at-standing-rock-is-an-american-story/

http://www.countercurrents.org/tag/standing-rock-sioux-protest/

10. Boom and Bust in the Bakken Oil Fields
The discovery last decade that fossil fuels could be tapped from rock deep beneath the windswept prairies of North Dakota acted like a magnet on American working people. By the thousands they came, from as far as Texas and California, fortune-seekers in a modern-day Gold Rush.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/photo-essays/2015-11-30/boom-and-bust-in-the-bakken-oil-fields

11. Muslims Defend the Sacred – Solidarity with Standing Rock
https://mpowerchange.org/blog/post/muslims-defend-the-sacred-solidarity-with-standing-rock-1

Catching the Dunya Is Mission Impossible – Imam Zaid Shakir

What’s the problem with having a materialistic, dunya-centered world view? You become instantly poor no matter how much wealth you have.  You graduate from a Camaro to a Masarati to a Rolls-Royce, going through object after object but never being at peace with yourself, says Imam Zaid Shakir.

In this funny and captivating video clip, Imam Zaid Shakir opens our eyes to the flawed views that we have oftentimes grown up with, and encouraged us to look deep within and search for true and lasting happiness.

We are grateful to Nueces Mosque for this recording.

Resources for Seekers

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

Imam Zaid Shakir has had to bury people who were shot by cops and those who were shot by their peers – predominantly young, African-American men. He concludes, if you’re right with God, you’re right. If some racist thinks you’re not right that’s their problem.

Black history is filled with injustice. The actions of Rosa Parks, Brown vs. Education, and Malcom X all are long-standing proof of that. But, Imam Zaid explains, we don’t need anyone external to tell us that our lives matter.

The internal dignity that tells us that we do matter, is what can get us through anything. That was what enabled generations upon generations of African slaves to love, to laugh, and to enjoy life with their families,  even knowing that their happiness was temporary. It was what taught black labourers working menial jobs, that their lives mattered.

Dignity can’t be taken, he says. It can only be forfeited.

We are grateful to Festival of Faiths for this recording.

Resources for Seekers

Dr. Ramon Harvey’s “The Secrets of Hajj” Now Online

Dr. Ramon Harvey’s exposition of Imam Ghazali’s Book 7 of the Ihya Ulum al-Din, The Secrets of Hajj, is now online, thanks to Travelling Light.

The Hajj is very much the final frontier for the Muslim; the only pillar of Islam that requires a single execution. Yet the journey to the House of Allah symbolizes man’s true end: a return to the Divine Creator. Dr. Ramon Harvey explores Imam Ghazali’s “The Secrets of the Hajj” explaining the pilgrimage’s essential elements, its properties, its merits, and its mysteries. The lecture is delivered from the Trebbus Mevlevihane in Germany. For more lectures on the Ihya Ulum Al-Din, please visit Classes | Travelling Light.

Resources for Seekers

Photo by Azfar Ahmad.

Should Muslims "Apologize" For The Orlando Shooting? Imam Zaid Shakir

In the aftermath of the Orlando murders many Muslims are adamant that they will not apologize for anything. Imam Zaid Shakir argues, this is a proper stance as our religion does not advocate collective guilt, nor collective punishment. However, clarifying Muslim teachings is also being condemned and this is wrong.

We are informed in the Qur’an, “No bearer of burdens (a sinner) can bear the burdens of another.” No one needs say, “I am sorry” for crimes they did not commit. On the other hand, many are viewing clarifying Muslim teachings, attempting to manage popular perceptions, or condemning criminal actions as unacceptable “apologizing.” Such a view is misguided.

We Do Not Have The Luxury Not To

It is fitting, in fact it is imperative, that we announce to the public that acts of vigilante violence, mass murder, wanton mayhem, and targeting innocent people have no place in our religion. This is true if such violence takes place in Muslim majority countries, as happens almost daily in places like Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Yemen, and sporadically elsewhere in the Muslim world. It is especially true for those of us living here in the United States, where there is a propaganda machine in place, which capitalizes on the unique aspects of each massacre to distort basic Islamic teachings, over time with numbing effect. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we do not have the luxury of saying nothing.

Nefarious Forces

Such clarification is especially needed now because nefarious forces are using Omar Mateen’s (and his possible accomplices’) vile actions to further the idea that Islam is a violent, irrational, barbaric religion, and then translate the ensuing fear, hatred and anger into policies, which even now, are having devastating consequences for Muslims all over the world. I have seen firsthand the damage such misperceptions are causing among non-Muslim family, friends, and associates, and I have also seen how welcome clarifying words are.

Managing Perceptions is from the Prophetic Character

As for managing perceptions of the religion, ask yourself a couple of questions. Why did the Prophet (peace upon him) announce that a woman walking with him was his wife, Safiyya bint Huyayy? Why did he resume praying for deceased debtors? In the first instance he did not want people to think that the moral character of the Messenger of God (peace upon him) was flawed in any way, as that would have devastating implications for the integrity of the entire religion. In the second instance he did not want people to think that he abandoned his Companions at the time of their deaths. There are numerous incidents of this sort that illustrate the ways in which the Prophet (peace upon him) managed the public perception of himself, his community and his message. Hence, working to ensure that people view Islam in the most positive light is from the prophetic way (Sunnah).
Again, when there is a machine in place that wants to create extremely negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims, we do not have the luxury of remaining silent. A well-known marketing principle states, “Unchallenged perceptions become reality.” We should not even wait until there is some odious, headline-grabbing attack before we begin speaking up to define our reality. It should be an ongoing process. Hence, far from becoming frustrated and refusing to challenge the memes that are accentuated in the aftermath of attacks such as those in Orlando, Florida, we know what those memes are and we should be relentless in attacking them on a constant, ongoing basis.

It Is A Religious Duty

As for the condemnation of criminal actions, we are commanded by our Prophet (peace upon him), “Whoever among you sees a vile action, then let him change it with his hand; if unable to do so, then with his tongue (condemn it); if unable to do so then let him hate it in his heart, and that is the lowest level of faith.” What could be viler than a Muslim (nominal or not) committing mass murder against unsuspecting people at a time when this country, in fact the world, is celebrating the life of an American Muslim hero –Muhammad Ali? I do not know who is calling the shots of criminals like Omar Mateen, I serious doubt if they are Muslim, but, God-willing, I will condemn those crimes as long as they continue to occur. May Allah protect us.
Follow Imam Zadi Shakir on Facebook and visit his blog, New Islamic Directions.

Resources for seekers

Why the Lahore Bombings Show that Ignorance is Folly

A proverb reads, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” In the wake of the Lahore bombings, Imam Zaid Shakir argues the opposite; that an age of rampart confusion, this ignorance can become the cause of religious extremism. the cause of religious extremism

We are grateful to the Islamic Centre of Irvine for this recording. Cover photo by Shawn Carpenter.

Resources for Seekers

"Born Muslims Are Stuck! Why Would Anyone Convert to Islam?"

Convert To Islam IZSWhen Imam Zaid Shakir lived in Syria, he met a gentleman and they struck up a conversation. When the man learnt that Imam Zaid had knowingly embraced Islam, he was incredulous, “Why would you do that? I was born Muslim so I’m stuck. Why would you choose this?”
This is an increasingly common phenomenon – not just amongst Muslims but with regards to faith in general. Watch – and share with your friends, this brilliant lecture from Imam Zaid at the Islamic Center of Irvine. As always, he offers a great deal of clarity and guidance.

Ever get caught out on these issues? Thinking of becoming a convert To Islam? Deepen your understanding by taking a short course with SeekersHub.

Resources for seekers

Cover photo by ynrozturk.

ISIS: More About Meaningless, Dysfunctional Lives Than Jihad – Imam Zaid Shakir

A Norway Town and Its Pipeline to “Jihad” in Syria

When a known group of young trouble-makers from a small Norwegian town stopped having run-ins with the local police, law enforcement authorities were relieved but unfortunately, this was short-lived. The boys had moved on from their dysfunctional lives in  straight into the hands of ISIS henchmen in Syria. There, amidst the anarchic murder and destruction, most of them have now died.
Imam Zaid Shakir reflects on this deeply disturbing phenomenon in this video, courtesy of Al Madina Institute.

Resources on ISIS and Jihad for seekers:

Cover photo by Daniels Lee.