Tag Archives: muslims

Home is Where the Fires Are

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most mercifu

A few days ago I woke up to the news of the bush fires in Victoria. Hour by hour I heard of the growing death toll and I read of the death and destruction. It is difficult for me to comprehend that such a peaceful place is currently facing so much devastation. It feels strange for me to be away at this time, almost like being away from your family at their time of need. It has forced me to realise that no matter what happens, Australia is, and always will be the place I call home.

I know for most this would go without saying – the country where you were born and lived your entire life, would naturally be the country you would call home. For the vast majority of my life I would have agreed. However, after September 11th that all changed. Its difficult to truly feel at home when you don’t feel welcome. When your government seems to go against everything you believe in, when you are regularly told to go back to where you came from, and when you constantly hear stories of those like you, Muslimah’s in hijab, being abused, both verbally and physically, merely for their attempts to live their lives modestly and piously.

I have always known that some people hate Muslims, that has never been in doubt. But occasionally, when I hear or read the opinions of not only one or two people, but sometimes that of the majority…I am truly in shock. I sometimes find myself walking in the streets and shopping centres, looking around and wondering how many passers by despise me just because I am Muslim.

Its not that I ever stopped thinking of Australia as my home, but it wasn’t quite the same. Like many other thousands of other Muslims in Australia, whether we are migrants, born here, or our families have been here for generations – we have all been made to feel unwelcome.

However, news of the bush fires, and the desire to return home in our hour of need has made me realise that despite everything, despite what anybody thinks and feels about me, Australia will always be the place I call home.

Beyond the ashes there is hope. Hope that we can put our differences aside and try to make life that little bit easier for those mourning the loss of loved ones. Hope that we can put our differences aside and unite to help the thousands left homeless. And hope that we can unite to do everything in our power to plan and prepare to try to avoid this scale of destruction from ever occuring again.

Let not the deaths be in vain. Not only do we need to review our fire procedures and learn from what has occured, but also this is an opportunity to become a pivotal moment in our history and to learn to put our difference aside to work together for a greater cause.

I hope that through this ordeal, others who may have previously viewed us with disdain, will come to realise that we are humans, and like them we have also shed a tear for those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their homes. We have been just as affected and touched by the current events as the next person, and just as both individuals and community groups in Australia have pulled together to donate and help in whatever way they can, so too has the Muslim community within Australia.

The Prophet (may Allah’s peace & blessings be upon him) said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.” Let us be among those who are the most beloved to Allah, and hopefully our attempts to fulfil our Islamic obligations will help the wider community realise that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.

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One body?

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

There’s a hadith that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  Day and night – I cant stop thinking about it.  I wish I could say otherwise, but the thought of it pains me.  Not because of the hadith itself –  on the contrary, it is a beautiful hadith that shows the special bond between believers, the love we have for eachother, the dedication to one another, and the unity of purpose.  The real reason behind my sadness is because as an ummah today we fall so very short of this ideal.

The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. (Muslim)

I can’t help but ask me self over and over again…how many of us are aching..truly aching??  How many of us feel pain??  And more importantly, as an ummah, what are we doing about it?

Its with a heavy heart that I sit here, in the country that once boasted of its military might, still calls itself the “mother of the world” and yet I see nothing but apathy.  Yes, most people are not happy about the situation in Gaza…many are making dua, many are donating, and some are striving in the cause in whichever way they can.  But where is the so called mighty Egyptian army?  Not only do they not help their brothers and sisters, but they are actually policing the border to ensure that no Palestinians can escape the massacre, and no goods can be brought in to help their brothers and sisters.  I honestly don’t know how they can sleep at night.

People aren’t happy…but really feeling pain would entail the willingness to make some sacrifices to eliminate the pain, but that’s just not happening here.  I speak to people, and I hear the same sentiments.  ‘If the other Arab nations think that opening the border is such a great idea, why don’t they open their borders??’  ‘Its just the excuse that Israel is looking for to attack Egypt.’  Although they are not saying it directly, I keep reading the same words between the lines  “better them than us”.  

My Arabic teacher was telling me an interesting story the other day.  I can’t remember it exactly word for word, but it goes something like this.

There was a wolf and three sheep; a red sheep, a black sheep, and a white sheep.  The wolf naturally desired to devour the sheep, but as they were three and he was one, he was powerless to do so.

One day when the black and white sheep were grazing alone, he approached them.  “The red sheep is so bright, he will attract the attention of preditors…he is putting your lives at risk!  Why don’t you let me help you and get rid of him for you?”  The black and white sheep thought about it, he was right, the red sheep was rather bright, and it was possible that he would bring them danger.  And so they agreed.

The next week the white sheep was grazing on his own when the wolf approached him:  “You know that black sheep is a bit eye catching as well, you’d do much better if you were on your own without having to worry about any attention he may attract.  How about you let me take care of him for you?”   Fearing for himself the white sheep thought he may have had a point.  And so he agreed.

Then there was only the white sheep.  The wolf approached him one day, ready to devour him. Alone and vulnerable the white sheep realised that he would be powerless against the wolf.  “But we had a deal!” he cried.  The wolf replied “You made this possible the day you allowed me to kill the red sheep”.

Let us not be like the white sheep, plotting with our enemies, and sitting idly while our enemy devours and slaughters our brothers and sisters.  All the while we take comfort in the fact that it is not us that they are after.  But we need to ask ourselves…who do you think they’ll come for next?

It reminds me of a famous quote, ironically written about Nazi Germany:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.

They have successfully divided us through artificial borders, nationalism, sects, and petty differences.  Each group focuses on themselves and disassociates themselves from one another in order to acheive some imaginary benefit, and thus we become  weaker and weaker.

I don’t care what colour you are, where you’re from, or if you have a differences of opinions – we need to stand together and unite.  We have a common book, a common belief, and a common cause. We need to once again remember the words of our beloved prophet, we are but one body, now how about we start acting like it?

Kalimat

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

Kalimat…or words as the term is known in English carries with it great importance in Islam. Obviously words are important to all people, regardless of race, religion or location. However, in Islam it carries an extra special significance.

Words and knowledge are central to Islam and we are ordered to seek knowledge. In fact, the very first word revealed in the Qur’an was a command to read.

Read! In the name of your Lord who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the most generous. Who has taught (the writing) by pen. He has taught man that which he knew not. (Quran 96:1-5)

Further evidence of the importance of learning in Islam can be found in a hadith or saying of the prophet Muhammed (saw) who said “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to paradise easy for him.” (Bukhari, Kitab al-‘Ilm, 10)

Despite the claim that Muslims are backwards and encourage ignorance this is far from the truth. If we look back in time, the periods where Islam was at its strongest were periods of great advancement. Many crucial discoveries and contributions were made by Muslims in the areas of medicine, algebra, geometry and astrology just to name a few. It is true that Muslims today are not at the forefront of technology and scientific discovery as Muslims once were, however this has a lot more to do with the state of our ummah (community of believers) than it does with any type of inherent ignorance that is a result of being Muslims and following our faith. The causes of this are many and complex, and a whole other topic.

The term ‘kalimah’ or ‘word’ also has another significance to Muslims. It is a term often used to descibe the first pillar of islam, that is the proclamation of faith “La ilaaha ill-Allah, Muhammadun Rasool-Allah”, there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. It is a phrase that we Muslims utter at least nine times a day in our daily prayers, most of us not stopping there, and repeating it further in other prayers or throughout the day. It is a phrase which all our actions are based upon. The food we eat is chosen because there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and thus we avoid haram (forbidden) things such as meat from pigs or dogs, and do our utmost to ensure all our food is halal (permissible). Similarly our dress is based on this statement, everything we do is. What we say, what we watch on television, our entire lives. It actually has a lot more to do with what we don’t do, the vast majority of things are permissible with only a small minority being forbidden (haram), and naturally we strive to avoid that which is forbidden. To those who are not Muslim, particularly atheists this sometimes seems a bit strange, but as Muslims its completely natural. If you believe in a creator, and believe that He sent down a book and guidance for mankind, its only natural that you would strive to follow the guidance of your creator. Similarly, when purchasing a car, we expect the manual of the car written by the creators of the car to be a reliable source of information. If we want to do whats best for the car, to prevent problems with it, and keep it running well, we try our best to follow instructions in the manual.

Words are such a powerful force and can never be underestimated, a power which was highlighted by the famous saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”. And a power which has not been ignored by today’s governments. Today we see words and propaganda play a major part in politics and wars, perhaps in a more sophisticated manner than ever before. Clearly today the powers that be are very aware of the tremendous influence and the dangers that can be found in words, and they are also aware of the importance of controlling words in assisting them to secure their goals.

We often hear about freedom of speech, but I’ve often thought of it as a farce. We have no freedom of speech, nor do I believe we should. We teach our children to grow up not saying certain words…is this freedom of speech? I’m not for one second suggesting that we should live in a police state where people are not able to speak openly and have healthy debate. Being able to debate important issues relevant to ones society is a sign of a healthy society. But on the other hand some words should be left unspoken. Some words are nothing but hurtful and completely inappropriate, people should not be free to say them. This includes racism, discrimination, and words that would mentally torment others. Other words should not be spoken as they are sacrilege, other things are private and should remain so. The irony is that those who purport to espouse these values of freedom of speech are the very same people who go out of their way to gag those who speak words they do not agree with. Its akin to saying “we believe in free speech, as long as it is in accordance with our views”. That is not free speech, that is merely using the concept of free speech to control speech.

So this is my blog, in the end like all blogs, and the majority of the information out there, its just words…or kalimat. I’m not sure why I decided to start this, nor am I sure what I hope to achieve. Perhaps its my way of ‘being heard’, saying my piece, or venting my frustrations. Maybe i’m just hoping to find a way to exercise my brain a little, between trying to run a household and caring for 3 young children I don’t get much opportunity.

I think part of the reason is hoping that it will allow people to catch a glimpse of what life is like for people like me. Perhaps by doing so people will realise that us Muslims are really not as strange and threatening as the media would have people believe. Whilst we may differ in some areas through our dedication and belief in the ‘kalimah’ or our proclomation of faith, in other areas we are just the same. Like everybody else we are trying to raise our kids as best we can, contribute to society in positive ways, and just fit everything we need to do into our busy days.

I don’t expect many to read it, and I know theres a lot more interesting things to be read. Its just my humble contribution to all the words out there.