Category Archives: New Muslims

John Fontain | Young Smirks PodCast EP37 – Sheikh Abu Usamah

Sheikh Abu Usamah about the BLM Protests, the permissability of protests in the light of Islamic teachings, Malcolm X, Colin Kaepernick and racism in the Muslim community.

Gained a lot of benefit from this disussion, so happy to see Muslims starting to make full use of the medium of podcasts to benefit the Ummah.

The back and forth on marriage, race and societal position was especially good, people do not understand matters of compatability.

Interview by John Fontain for the podcast Young Smirks

Saajid Lipham – Muslim Twitter, Protests, Born Muslims vs. Converts

An excellent reminder on the problems of using twitter, of protesting being the first thing on people’s minds in the current crisis and how for many Muslims, especially born Muslims in America (and I would argue the UK also) social activism is their connection to the deen and the problem with this.

He also covers the necessity of returning to Allah if we want to enact a positive change, may Allah reward the brother for his efforts, ameen.

MEMORIES OF SHEIKH NAZIM’S NAQSHBANDI TARIQA

Shortly after embracing Islam and moving to Sheffield, back in 2002 I started attending a dhikr circle run by a mureed of Sheikh Nazim in Sheffield, which was held in an old converted nunnery they owned in Nether Edge.

OK, I’ll bring up the good points first, they were friendly nice people, their leader Kamran was often smiling, especially when talking about Sheikh Nazim who it was clear he loved very much and the brothers and sisters from Sheffield would sometimes make the pilgrimage to visit their Sheikh in Cyprus and then come back and share his ‘wisdom.’

The Biryani was also excellent, one thing you can say about ahlul bidah in Sheffield is they cook some truly wonderful food and they even offered to find me a wife to cook for me, nice people in that sense.

But…

Even as a very new Muslim it was clear these brothers and sisters (they sat behind the curtains and barriers) were very messed up in their understanding and practice of the deen.

Not only would they do group dhikr, but as they sped up the pace of their chanting some of them would start rocking, either side to side (hippies) or backwards and forwards (head bangers), going faster and faster.

I found this very odd, but hey what did I know? I mean I’d only been in the deen for 5 minutes, maybe this really was the way to spiritual enlightenment?

They would often also mention other odd teachings, regarding Allaah, his Messenger (saw), pious men of the past which just didn’t sit right with me.

I’d embraced Islam because it was pure and clean from contradictions but these guys contradicted the Quran and what I knew of the Sunnah on a regular basis.

What finally killed off my relationship with Naqshbandi-Haqqani’s in Sheffield was when one night, another brother asked why Sheikh Nazim was better than all the other Naqshbandi Sheikh’s out there.

The reply was shocking, and I never went back again.

You see explained Kamran, when Sheikh Nazim’s teacher was dying, all the students got together to witness his death and started arguing over who was going to be the next leader but not Sheikh Nazim.

No, he stayed at the side of his teacher, mopping his dying brow, looking after him and then at the moment he died, squeezed the dead man’s sweat into a cup and drank it all! so absorbing all the secret knowledge held by him, going all the way back to Abu Bakr!

Later on, as I learnt more about the deen, I heard other strange things about these people and on reading their own books found so much misguidance and kufr I warned people away from them as it is my sincere belief they are far from Islam in their beliefs and how they practice the deen.

Scraped Clean / Scraped Bare

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu my few readers,

I am writing this primarily for myself, few people come to this blog anymore, well even fewer than before and that’s okay, this is being written mostly for my own benefit, to get my thoughts in order, set them down so I can read this later in life and if I help others sort out the mess in their own heads that is a bonus.

It’s been over a year since I semi-retired from this blog,  as well as most of my da’wah activities and events and withdrew myself somewhat from life to reflect and think about where I am going, how I am moving forward or not in life.

Gingerbeardman - I’m Not Running Away But…
Gingerbeardman – I’m Not Running Away But…

I did at the time write a long ish post on the matter, linked in the pic here –>

Since then it’s been been dark but interesting times as I’ve gone through every section of my life, evaluated it and ruthlessly thrown out everything which was not True or didn’t bring any genuine benefit to me.

But on the truth, it’s so often the case that we’re all lies, deceptions, built upon half truths, built upon misconceptions and we rarely truly do anything of real value  because we are not willing to admit how much of that surface stuff and even a lot of the under surface stuff is just false facing for others and more often to ourselves.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Quran translation, Surah An-Nisa, 4:135

So I’ve scrapped, pulled, cut and at times ripped mask after mask away to see the person within. Peeling back layer after layer to see new layers of lies underneath because Allah knows all this other stuff was not true and how much I was harming myself and being unable to help others around me because of the years of crap built up which just wasn’t me and wasn’t true.

It’s also been a painful time, lying is always wrong but I have found the hardest lies to admit to are the ones we tell ourselves. Some of them really didn’t want to go, they seemed a part of me and in a way they were, they’re comforting but anything not true had to go.

So I told myself I was a da’ee, a caller to Allah and that this may compensate for my shortcomings in other areas of the deen. Now when I look back, I’ve examined my actions truly and deeply so much of it was riya, showing off either at the time or I would destroy my deeds later by talking about them to draw attention to myself, or allow others to do so on my behalf and big me up in a way which was not at all justified.

These stories we tell ourselves and tell others are how we interact with the world, but that doesn’t make them true or useful and they can often be the barrier holding us back from doing anything meaningful.

I told myself I was morally a good man, but much of the good I did I did out of an expectation that others would behave likewise towards me, it was selfish and often self destructive emotionally when it was not reciprocated, causing me to lash out and hurt others which in turn I think showed people at times on some level my good deeds lacked sincerity.

How often can we say we truly do a good deed just for the sake of seeking the reward of Allah and not in seeking reward or praise from others? In that I would also include self-praise, self-deception, fooling ourselves, flattering and fattening up our egos which is one of the most long term damaging forms of showing off.

In failing to be a ‘good man’ I also admit I was also not much of a man, falling short in my obligations to myself, my family and my community. I am not a good man, or much of a man at all, and I am okay with that because acknowledging that is the first step to changing and learning what manhood really is again then living that.

I am having to slow things down for a time, I have to reexamine every deed I do now to see if I am genuine or not,  then correct my intention and if I cannot then don’t do it because there is no reward in this action.

 

Now for the last couple of months after what has seemed like an age of effort I finally feel I’ve hit bedrock, the real me below all the other crap and hitting rock bottom is actually not such a bad place to be if you’ve prepared for it and aimed for it deliberately and there is a purity of vision, a simplicity that has it’s own beauty and attraction.

I can also with out all the fluff in the way see the hurt and damaged parts of myself I need to fix, and more easily see negligence and even malice that caused or still causes me that hurt and I have become much less tolerant of it.

I am cold, naked and vulnerable, it’s kinda uncomfortable but it is the real me. Being uncomfortable is valuable, it tells us something is off, we shouldn’t be avoiding such feelings or smothering them down but embracing them, contemplating them and finding out how to change ourselves to make sure we’re not uncomfortable with that aspect of ourselves in the future because we’ll have achieved permanent change.

An easy example of this is my physical health, my body itself is not just a bit out as I would convince myself previously for many years. I am not just fat, I am technically in the obese range, I am a fat man’s fatty. I have to lean forward to see my toes.

I was gifted with a frame which allowed for physical strength, fought my way through school, played rugby but I have done nothing since, I am not strong or tough and the inner impression of who I was was off, way off with who I actually was in reality.

I absolutely should feel that is wrong, it’s uncomfortable knowing I’ve let things go so far, so do I allow myself to push such feelings down, go for good quick emotional highs with time with others, or food or escape in a book, documentary or computer game or do I get out walking, do some jogging on the spot or some weights?

I am not who I should be. I know now given I’m in my early forties I will never be the man I could have been but now I must concentrate on being the best man I can be from here on out.

For those who know me personally I may seem withdrawn but that is because all the other stuff I did or said was not me and now I am ready to start growing again in a more productive way.

This time without all the lies, to others and to myself.

I am going to try to write more, on this blog and elsewhere to document my growth and it is this potential growth that allows me to see my failures, my product of past lies and see a way forward, that I am going to be able to choose a different path this time if I keep myself spiritually, emotionally and mentally strong.

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman

I’m Not Running Away But…

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I’ve been going through a period of introspection lately, as I often do, every few months or year or two but this time it’s been much deeper and broader in scope than anything I’ve probably done since I said my Shahadah nearly 16 (lunar) years ago and indeed has lasted months not the days or weeks it has before.

Normally I pause, I reflect, maybe do a bit of research and ask people I trust around me and I correct my course slightly but still moving onward and upward again in the same direction more or less but this time it I find myself unable to move on again, I am frozen in place, and think I must choose a different path to what I’ve been on before.

Do they not think deeply about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
Quran translation, Surah Ar-Rum, 8:8

I’ve come to realise the image of myself I have in my head, which in some ways is a reflection of what others think of me in the community and that I’ve taken their word for is not actually true. It is not me as I know me truly or a accurate reflection of how I feel in my interactions with others and I am not being honest with them, or my family or myself to continue this lie, and it is a lie in part at least.

Until now I thought myself in some ways a deep thinker, an activist, a Da’ee, a caller to the truth, the community reformer, even if only on a very modest scale but the truth is I am far from these things, I barely have mastery of my own household and it’s development or reform, or indeed of myself which is where the heart of this problem I think comes from.

Like many other reverts, almost since I said my Shahadah I’ve been pushed into this role, and that’s not to blame others, I’ve relished it,  and ran with it from the beginning, and the mistake of faking becoming this thing I am not, of fooling myself is my own and no one else’s.

This has really hit home this ramadhan and especially last night at a community iftar meal, when I was speaking to an elderly brother who I know thinks a great deal of the work I do in the community. We spoke about family, and also homeschooling and he made mention how it must be good for the kids to benefit from a father who is able to teach them so much in terms of the deen and life.

I had to be truthful, tell him straight up this is not me, I do a little, but barely anything in terms of my kids Islamic education, or indeed other educational needs other than offering words of advice as any father would, that such lessons are taken up by my wife, my children’s devoted mother who has in her efforts to become a better home-schooler educated herself in ways I have not over the years.

This conversation, though brief prayed upon me all night, stopped me sleeping even the little hours I had to sleep, though the migraine which came in the middle which jammed the on-switch on my brain probably didn’t help, but this discussion played over and over in my mind summed up neatly my thoughts through many wakeful nights these past few months.

I know my own weaknesses, I cannot allow the assumptions of others that I am someone good or great at what I do to hide the truth, at least to myself that I am not that person they think I am. Allah knows the truth, I know the truth and I am not really helping anyone, least of all myself to continue to pretend otherwise.

In the past I’ve fooled myself I would change, become this person as time went on as I lived it, but looking back to my recent past this has just not happened, and I think for the past few years I’ve known this and hidden it deep within myself.

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII

I am only child in the fields I dabble in, fundamentally lacking in anything more than basic knowledge and so unable to enact change in anyway like the effectiveness I wish I could achieve.

My self development over the years has been severely lacking, forget learning arabic I am still struggling with reading the Quran fluently after 16 years of Islam and though languages is the one major area of learning I struggle with, I’ve allowed this difficulty to stop me even trying in anything like a meaningful way.

This Ramadhan has been the first time in years I have regularly prayed my sunnah prayers, rather than just the fard ones, my practice and knowledge is severely lacking yet the classes, the access to knowledge and skills was out there, I allowed myself to be distracted by being busy, but in an ineffectual manner.

In other fields I have a cursory understanding and knowledge, and being the one eyed man I’ve allowed myself to be setup as a ruler or at least and adviser among the blind when I know I can be, and should be far more.

In every aspect of my life I am falling short, deeni and other education, health and fitness, character and moral fibre, family and home, community and social life, career and wealth.

I am spread thin, running from area to area, helping this person or that project at an individual or small scale yes, but failing to build systems which could help enact change on the level on which it needs to take place.

It’s just not enough. I need to withdraw, reeducate myself, strengthen my being, redefine who I am internally and then have that reflected externally, so I become the man I know I could be, which others now wrongly think I am.

If I don’t the alternative is to know I ultimately fail in life. Myself, my family, my community and ultimately Allah who has the parameters of my being and how far I could truly go if only I pushed myself as I should and who knows how short I fall in reaching those limits.

So I am not running away, not exactly. I cannot stop everything which I have been doing, the need is too great and others are not yet willing to pick up those burdens but I am over the coming months going to be withdrawing from some activities where I can, taking up less new projects, freeing up the time I need, the space I need to grow and learn and become who I know I need to be.

I need my space each month, my time away in the cave of Hira, relaxation and reflection and not to be so busy with life and activism that I am stuck in being the role rather than becoming the man who can truly fulfill it as it needs to be filled.

For those worried about such things, I am not burned out, far from it, I am more determined than ever but I know continuing the way I have been for so long would ultimately lead me to that end, I’ve seen enough activists fall over the years to see the warning signs in myself and to take steps to avoid them if Allah wills it.

Writing is also something which I have neglected and I’ll probably be blogging more over this time also, I find I need to vent, and find the truth in what psychologists say, that far from thinking before we speak, instead giving word to my innermost thoughts helps me clarify what is true and good for me and others. I need to hear the words, or see them written to see the truth in them or not.

It is my sincere hope, that if Allah wills it, I can come back in a few years as a better man,  someone people can genuinely look up to but I am not willing to keep living right now as someone I am not and if not at least I will have tried.

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman

Victim Blaming… Kinda

Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,

I saw the above image on my facebook feed and it really struck me as being totally true and the answer to so many of our problems in life, whether with others or even ourselves.

Yes, often people are stuck in terrible situations they just cannot get out of, either ones they’ve made themselves, or been trapped in by others, and in such situations sabr is the solution alongside turning to Allah in du’a and other means.

But too often, when we are looking at a problem objectively it not becomes clear there are opportunities along the way to stop the abuse, or evils taking place, to actively remove a harm but that the victim’s sabr in the face of problems actively contributed to it’s continuation or even makes things worse.

Advising sabr in such a situation as a long term ‘solution’ is not helpful, it’s absolutely harmful but it’s the first response, almost the default response from so many imams, community leaders, elders etc.

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman

Arab Nationalism in the Masaajid

Assalaamu Alaykum,

I help out in a Masjid in my local area, they give me a spot to run new Muslim activities, mentoring etc, as well as store Dawah materials and I help them out in terms of admin tasks in the Masjid. It’s a pretty good relationship for everyone.

However several times in the past couple of years of helping out some brothers have asked for help or favours or leniency from those involved in the running of the Masjid, implying they are more deserving as Arabs.

Leading to them perhaps getting a little more terse a response than perhaps they are used to from myself.

Ahmad (22978) narrated from Abu Nadrah: Someone who heard the khutbah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) on the second of the days of at-Tashreeq told me that he said: “O people, verily your Lord is One and your father is one. Verily there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab or of a non-Arab over an Arab, or of a red man over a black man, or of a black man over a red man, except in terms of taqwa. Have I conveyed the message?” They said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) has conveyed the message.
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Saheehah (6/199).

We need to clear to the ignorant among us, that our Masaajid and Islamic centres are upon the Quran and Sunnah, even better to be upon the best of understanding of that, the Salafi Manhaj.

We can be pretty tolerant of others as well, but if they wish to have a place of worship for their arab nationalism I suggest the Masaajid is not the right place for them to push that ignorance upon the rest of us.

Now here is a fatwah from a person of knowledge, who has used his understanding of arabic as a language to push back against asabiyyah in the arab community.

https://islamqa.info/en/182686

Is the Arab Muslim better than the non-Arab Muslim?

A while ago I read a hadith from the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): It was narrated from ‘Utbah ibn ‘Abd that he said: A man said: O Messenger of Allah, curse the people of Yemen for they are tough fighters and great in number, and their fortresses are well fortified. He said: “No.” Then the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) cursed the non-Arabs, and the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If they come to you, with their women and carrying their children on their shoulders (then show kindness to them), for they are of me and I am of them.” Narrated by Ahmad, and also by at-Tabaraani, except that he said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) cursed the non-Arabs, the Persians and Romans (Byzantines), and the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If the people of Yemen pass by you, with their women and carrying their children on their shoulders (then show kindness to them), for they are of me and I am of them.” The isnaads of both reports are hasan, and Baqiyyah clearly stated that each narrator heard it from another.

My question is:

Why did the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) curse the non-Arabs, the Persians and Byzantines? Didn’t many of them become Muslim after the conquest of Syria and Iraq, and even as far as China? Is the hadith proven to be sound and of a high level of authenticity? Why did he not say, O Allah, curse the disbelievers, and leave it at that? Is the Arab Muslim considered to be better than the non-Arab Muslim? I am from Syria and am not fully Arab; does this mean that my Islam is less than the Islam of those who are fully Arab among you? Were there any of the Sahaabah who were not Arabs?

Praise be to Allah

Firstly:

We have explained previously that Islam does not pay attention to differences in colour, race or lineage. All people are descended from Adam, and Adam was created from dust. Rather according to Islam, superiority of some people over others is measured by faith and taqwa (piety, mindfulness of Allah), doing what Allah has enjoined and refraining from what Allah has forbidden.

At-Tirmidhi (3270) narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) addressed the people on the day of the conquest of Makkah and said: “O people, verily Allah has taken away from you the arrogance of Jaahiliyyah and its pride in forefathers. People are of two types: righteous and pious, who are dear to Allah, and doomed evildoers, who are insignificant before Allah. People are the descendants of Adam, and Allah created Adam from dust. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted’ [al-Hujuraat 49:13].”

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.

Ahmad (22978) narrated from Abu Nadrah: Someone who heard the khutbah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) on the second of the days of at-Tashreeq told me that he said: “O people, verily your Lord is One and your father is one. Verily there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab or of a non-Arab over an Arab, or of a red man over a black man, or of a black man over a red man, except in terms of taqwa. Have I conveyed the message?” They said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) has conveyed the message.

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Saheehah (6/199).

Al-Bukhaari (4898) and Muslim (2546) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We were sitting with the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and Soorat al-Jumu‘ah was revealed to him: “And [He has sent the Prophet to] others of them who have not yet joined them” [al-Jumu‘ah 62:3]. I said: Who are they, O Messenger of Allah? He did not answer him until he had asked three times. Among us was Salmaan al-Faarisi and the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) put his hand on Salmaan and said: “If faith were at the Pleiades, some men from among these people [the Persians] would get it.”

Al-Bukhaari (5990) and Muslim (215) narrated that ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say, out loud and not secretly: “The family of Abu Fulaan (the Father of So and so) are not my friends. My friends are Allah and the righteous believers.”

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was speaking of a clan that was closely related to him, and pointed out that mere lineage did not make them his friends; rather his friends were Allah and the righteous believers of all backgrounds.

End quote from Iqtida’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (144).

See also the answers to questions no. 12391 and 3793.

Secondly:

Imam Ahmad (17195) narrated: Haywah ibn Shurayh told us: Baqiyyah told us, Baheer ibn Sa‘d told me, from Khaalid ibn Ma‘daan, from ‘Utbah ibn ‘Abd that he said: A man said: O Messenger of Allah, curse the people of Yemen for they are tough fighters and great in number, and their fortresses are well fortified. He said: “No.” Then the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) cursed the non-Arabs, and the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If they come to you, with their women and carrying their children on their shoulders (then show kindness to them), for they are of me and I am of them.”

The commentators on Musnad al-Imam Ahmad (ar-Risaalah edn., 29/194) said:

Its isnad is da‘eef (weak). Baqiyyah – who is the son of al-Waleed – is mudallis [i.e., he engaged in tadlees, which is when a narrator narrates a hadith that he did not hear directly from his shaykh, without mentioning the name of the third party from whom he did hear it, using wording that may or may not give the impression that he heard it directly], and narrated by saying ‘an (“from”, without clearly stating that he heard the hadith himself from another narrator). His hadith cannot be accepted unless it is clearly stated that each stage of the isnad that one narrator heard it directly from another.

It was also narrated by Ibn Abi ‘Aasim in al-Aahaad wa’l-Mathaani (2280); at-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer(17/304) and in ash-Shaamiyyeen (1139), via ‘Abd al-Wahhaab ibn Najdah al-Hooti; and by Ibn Abi ‘Aasim (2280) from Hishaam ibn ‘Ammaar, both of whom narrated it from Baqiyyah ibn al-Waleed with this isnaad. In ash-Shaamiyyeen it mentions Ismaa‘eel ibn ‘Ayyaash instead of Baqiyyah, and we think it most likely that this is an error on the part of the copyist. End quote.

Even if we assume that the hadith is saheeh (sound), it is to be understood as referring to those among them who are deserving of being cursed, namely the disbelievers, evildoers and their ilk. These people were only singled out for mention because in most cases they were disbelievers and were misguided, especially at that time.

Thirdly:

In the answer to question no. 115934, we noted that Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah are unanimously agreed that the Arabs are superior to others in terms of descent and lineage, and that regarding the Arabs as superior is in general terms, and does not apply at the individual level. So a non-Arab who is pious and righteous is better than an Arab who falls short in his duties to Allah, may He be exalted.

Therefore an Arab Muslim cannot be superior to a non-Arab Muslim just because he is an Arab. Rather superiority is based on taqwa (piety, mindfulness of Allah). So whoever is more mindful of Allah and obedient to Him is better than his counterpart, regardless of whether he is an Arab or a non-Arab.

So the fact that you are not fully Arab does not mean that you are less than one who is fully Arab in terms of virtue and status simply because of that. As is clear from what we have mentioned above, the real standard is faith and righteous deeds.

Fourthly:

There were some of the Sahaabah who were not Arabs, such as Salmaan and Miqsam, who were Persians, Bilaal al-Habashi (who was Ethiopian) , Zunayrah ar-Roomiyyah (who was Byzantine), Barakah al-Habashiyyah (who was Ethiopian) and others such as Suhaym the freed slave of Banu’l-Has-haas, Ya‘eesh the slave of Banu’l-Mugheerah, Khaalid ibn al-Hawaari, and Tamaam al-Habashi.

Al-Haakim (8194) narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “I saw (in a dream) many black sheep who were joined by many white sheep.” They said: How did you interpret it, O Messenger of Allah? He said: The non-Arabs will join you in your religion and your lineage.” They said: The non-Arabs, O Messenger of Allah? He said: “If faith were at the Pleiades, some men from among the non-Arabs would get it.”

Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Saheehah (1018).

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The confirmation of that is seen in the many Persians, both free men and freed slaves, among the Taabi‘een and those who came after them, such as al-Hasan, Ibn Sireen, ‘Ikrimah the freed slave of Ibn ‘Abbaas, and others, and those who came after that of people who were prominent in faith, religious commitment and knowledge, until these prominent figures became better than most of the Arabs.

Similarly, among types of non-Arabs, such as the Ethiopians, Byzantines, Turks and others, there are people who excelled in faith and religious commitment, too many to be counted, which is something well known to the scholars, because true virtue is in following that with which Allah sent Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) of faith and knowledge, both inwardly and outwardly. So the more strongly a person adheres to it, the better he is, and virtue is only in terms of the praiseworthy qualities mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, such as Islam, faith, righteousness, taqwa, knowledge, righteous deeds, ihsaan and so on.  There is no virtue in a person simply being an Arab or non-Arab, or being black or white, or being a city dweller or desert dweller.

End quote from Iqtidaa’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (p. 145)

And Allah knows best.
Islam Q&A

ISLAM21C – AUSTRALIA’S FORGOTTEN ISLAMIC ROOTS

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Written by Ayshah Syed for Islam21C

Australia Day; a day of progress, a day of fireworks and laser shows, a day of communities gathering, unified in celebration of what makes Australia great – or so they would have us believe.[1] The truth of the matter is that Australia Day marks the anniversary of conquest, slaughter and invasion. For the indigenous people, January 25th is Invasion Day and marks 228 years of genocide.[2] It is a Day of Mourning.

For the British powers, Australia was terra nullius – land belonging to no-one (read: no one important), and they therefore felt justified in colonising the country without a treaty or any recognition of the rights of indigenous people to their land.[3] In 1788, the First Fleet of British Ships arrived, and Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British Flag in a symbol of British Occupation.[4]

On this day, 228 years ago, British fleets invaded what is now known as Australia, beginning a systematic extermination of its indigenous people that was to last hundreds of years. Like other victims of Western imperialism, the indigenous people were regulated under legislation until the 1960s and legally hunted like animals. Their children were also often taken from their families and put into abusive residential schools to ‘integrate’ them into ‘modernity’ and instil within them ‘superior’ Western values.[5]

In an abhorrent display of their colonial blood-lust, Britain stole the indigenous people’s land, exterminated the indigenous people’s identity and repressed the indigenous people’s independence. With a global history of foreign relations such as this, it is no wonder that people view the idea of a borderless world with such trepidation. “They come because they hate our freedom; they come because they want to change our way of life; they come because they want our jobs, our resources, our land; they come with malintent.” It sure does sound like you’re projecting, oh Saintly Colonisers. But, I digress.

In an article titled ‘Black History did NOT start with Slavery’, Dawwud Loka emphasises the rich history of a native people before colonial rule.[6] Such is the case with the indigenous people of Australia. Theirs is a history of tradition, beliefs, progress, foreign trade and hospitality. Trade? Hospitality? Who would deign to trade with the ‘lowly natives’? Which naval fleet would come upon this terra nullius and see people, deserving of their own land and equals in terms of business, and leave without propping up their flag? It was the Muslims. Anthropologist John Bradley from Melbourne’s Monash University explores the success of their international relations pre-British colonisation.

“They (the Muslims and the Aboriginal people) traded together. It was fair – there was no racial judgement, no race policy.”[7]

Few Australians are aware that the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers. Muslim fishermen rode over on Indonesian fishing boats from the trading city of Makassar.

They made annual trips to gather the sea cucumbers, which fetched a high price because of their important role in Chinese medicine and cuisine.  The Makassan Muslim cucumber traders stayed, married Aboriginal women and left a lasting religious and cultural legacy in Australia. Alongside cave paintings and other Aboriginal art, Islamic beliefs influenced Aboriginal mythology.[8]

The first Muslims to settle permanently in Australia were the cameleers, mainly from Afghanistan. The Muslim camel men worked the inland tracks and developed relationships with local Aboriginal people. Intermarriage was common and there are Aboriginal families with surnames including Khan, Sultan, Mahomed and Akbar. Muslim Malays worked as labourers in the pearl-shelling industry. They, too, formed longstanding relationships with the indigenous people they met. A significant number married local Aboriginal women, and today there are many Aboriginal-Malay people in the top end of Australia.[9] Unfortunately, Muslim trade with the indigenous people ended when heavy taxation and government policy restricted non-white commerce.

John Bradley describes his findings of the Aboriginal tradition infused with Islamic heritage, a memento of a peaceful, progressive time before Western Colonisers took their land, took their women and established themselves as superior.

“If you go to north-east Arnhem Land, there is [a trace of Islam] in song, it is there in painting, it is there in dance, it is there in funeral rituals… It is patently obvious that there are borrowed items. With linguistic analysis as well, you’re hearing hymns to Allah, or at least certain prayers to Allah.”

And Islam continues to exercise an appeal for some Aboriginal peoples today.[10] Muslim conversion is growing in indigenous communities. In the 2001 national census, 641 indigenous people identified as Muslim. By the 2006 census the number had climbed by more than 60% to 1,014 people.[11] In a research paper on Islām and its role in returning pride to the indigenous Australian people, Dr Peta Stephenson, Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne, found,

“The Indigenous Muslims […] perceive a neat cultural fit between their traditional Indigenous beliefs and the teachings of Islām. Many hold that in embracing Islām they are simultaneously going back to their Indigenous roots.”[12]

A participant in Stephenson’s study said that Islām does not just say “you’re Muslim, that’s it. It recognises we belong to different tribes and nations. So it doesn’t do what Christianity did to a lot of Aboriginal people, [which] was try and make them like white people.”

Stephenson continues,

There are also gender-specific reasons why Islām appeals to indigenous women and men. Indigenous women have long been stereotyped as sexually available, and suffer disproportionate levels of abuse. Wearing the hijāb is a practical as well as symbolic deterrent to unwanted attention. As a public expression of the importance Islām accords the family, it also appeals to indigenous female converts who, against the backdrop of a long history of family break-up, want to offer their children security and stability.

A similarly nuanced set of arguments surrounds the appeal of Islam for indigenous men. The Islamic notion of “universal brotherhood” and its disavowal of racial distinctions lead to a growth in self-esteem that has a significant influence on the way they think about their roles as husbands and fathers. The attraction of Islām for many indigenous men is that it recognises the importance of defined leadership roles for men in their families and communities. These roles have largely been lost through racism and the ongoing legacy of colonisation.[13]

For some Aboriginal converts, Islām offers a fresh start; a detachment from the horrors that have stripped them of their inheritance and the crisis of identity and dependence they experience as a result. One gentleman was once homeless and an alcoholic, but he found the Islamic doctrines of regular prayer, self-respect, avoidance of alcohol, drugs and gambling all helped him battle his addictions. He has now been sober for six years and holds down a steady, professional job.

“Where is my culture?” he asks. “That was cut off from me two generations ago. One of the attractive things about Islam for me was that I found something that was unbroken. When I found Islam it was the first time in my life that I felt like a human,” he says. “Prior to that I had divided up into ‘half this, quarter that’. You’re never a complete, whole thing.”[14]

Regardless of whether it is the new hope it offers people now, or the goodness it brought in the past, what is clear is that across generations and across land and sea (Australia included), Islām has existed as a light; a beacon of peace, progress and enlightenment. It was not Islām which left a legacy of enslavement and exploitation; this is the legacy of Western Colonisers. Islām left a legacy of tolerance, integration and trade. Skin colour was not an issue for the Muslims; this was a sickness which existed in the minds of the Western Colonisers.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) taught the Muslims,

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white [person] has no superiority over a black [person] nor does a black [person] have any superiority over a white [person] except by piety and good action.”[15]

The Muslim people honoured the indigenous people in pre-colonial Australia, and the Muslim people mourn with them today. Australia Day, by all moral accounts is not a day of joy. On this day we mourn the stripping of their independence, the loss of their land, the violation of their rights, and we condemn the celebration of their suffering.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/about-our-national-day/

[2] http://www.islam21c.com/special/web-posts/australia-day-celebrating-228-years-of-genocide/

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[4] http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/history/beginnings/

[5] http://www.islam21c.com/special/web-posts/australia-day-celebrating-228-years-of-genocide/

[6] http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/black-history-did-not-start-with-slavery/

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[8] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[9] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[10] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[11] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[12] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[13] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[14] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[15] http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/islam-is-the-cure-to-racism/

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