Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله

Imamology

  • entries
    38
  • comments
    386
  • views
    12,679

What We Should Learn From the Nation of Islam

Sign in to follow this  
Qa'im

885 views

  150213162305-15-malcolm-x-restricted-sup

 

When Elijah Muhammad went to court and the judge asked him about his aim and purpose, he said he was going to make Black America Islamic. The judge said that making black people Muslims was like putting pants on an elephant. Elijah Muhammad said, "I got one pant-leg on already."[1]

 

In 2012, my student society invited the late grandson of Malcolm X, Malcolm El Shabazz, to speak at our university. I had some knowledge of his grandfather’s history, having watched Spike Lee’s legendary 1992 biopic, but I did not have a thorough understanding of the history of Islam in America. His appearance at the University of Toronto drew in a large audience.

We spoke briefly before his speech about the cold Toronto weather and his seminary studies in Syria, and I bought him two coffees – a double-double and an iced cappuccino. It was probably too cold for the iced cap, but it was a signature Canadian beverage at Tim Hortons that we felt he may enjoy. After the speech, Malcolm expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome, and even called me “a sincere brother”.[1]

Although Malcolm El Shabazz had the tenacity of his grandfather, he was a troubled young man. After a life of run-ins with the police, Malcolm was killed in 2013 at a night club in Mexico under peculiar circumstances.[2] At the time I had just finished reading The End of American Lynching by Ashraf Rushdy, which details the history of racial oppression in America. The loss of this new friend prompted me to devote some time to studying the Civil Rights Movement – a story of persecution, loss, and eventual healing and rejuvenation.

I was skipping university readings to flip through books, papers, and videos that pertained to contemporary black history. I found the topic to not only be socially relevant, but spiritually uplifting and inspiring. The story of suffering ex-slaves fighting fearlessly for their inalienable rights spoke to me. The Nation of Islam taught that the black man was robbed of his name, language, culture, country, God, and religion. Their spirit and valour could only remind me of the Israelite bondage in Egypt, or the Arabian Age of Ignorance. Nations are born out of trial and tribulation. Eventually, people pull together in tough times for a greater good, and they can find success even when all they have on their side is a kernel of truth.

There are some obvious and irreconcilable differences between traditional Islamic theology and the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Sunni and Shia Muslims feel queasy at the suggestion that God’s attributes were manifest in Master Fard Muhammad, that all whites are devils, and that Elijah Muhammad was the messenger of God. These issues aside, there is much to learn from the Nation of Islam’s example. They were arguably the most successful and the most socially-relevant Western Islamic movement in history.

Social Relevance

By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam had nearly two million members, almost all of whom were converts from a Christian background. The fact that many victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade were Muslim[3] perpetuated the idea that Islam was the proper religion of the African American. Malcolm X was able to present the Nation of Islam’s enigmatic teachings to the public in a way that highlighted the need for separation, independence, and sovereignty for black people. Within a few short years, Malcolm X’s wit, charm, and hard work brought hundreds of thousands of people to the organization. The organization was still growing exponentially even after the controversy surrounding Malcolm’s assassination.

In 1974, the Nation of Islam owned enough assets to create a budding, self-sufficient community: over one hundred and fifty mosques, over forty schools, a newspaper plant, farms, a bank, apartment complexes, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, a national trucking system, and an aviation department.[4] Whether or not territorial independence was viable, the Nation of Islam created an independent subculture and economic unit. This frightened the U.S government. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover actively tried to sabotage the movement and “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.”[5] In 1996, then-Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi offered to give the group one billion dollars, until the donation was blocked by the Clinton administration.[6] Still, the unmatched coordination of the Nation of Islam attracted the brief support of the D.C. Department of Public and Assisted Housing.[7]

In 1995, the Nation of Islam held the historic Million Man March rally in Washington DC, which brought leading African American figures together to demand justice and reproach, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Jesse Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright.

Diet

The group’s unique diet was one of the primary means by which Master Fard Muhammad and the Nation of Islam were able to hook-in African American converts. The diet not only cut down food expenditures during the Great Depression, but it purported to have improved the general health of adherents.[8]

Master Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad developed a strict diet that makes a traditional Muslim diet look easy. Not only did the Nation of Islam fast and abstain from pork and alcohol, but they only ate one meal per day. This was done to prepare adherents for the possible severity that national independence or apocalypse may cause.[9] To improve their general health, Black Muslims mostly ate vegetables, fish, whole-wheat bread, and chicken; and they would avoid all non-halal and non-kosher meats.[10] Even beef and potatoes were to be avoided for being too coarse and too starchy respectively.[11]

Realism

Every member of the Nation of Islam is put into one of two institutions: males became part of the Fruit of Islam (FOI), and females became part of the Muslim Girls’ Training (MGT) program. The FOI is a paramilitary force with its own hierarchy that is trained to protect and provide provision for the Nation of Islam. They wear distinct blue uniforms and provide security for social and religious functions. The MGT educates women on home economics, housekeeping duties and self-defence.

There is a strong sense of responsibility in the sect that reportedly commands respect and better job opportunities for black people.[12] Indeed, devotees to the movement were encouraged to be clean, well-spoken, obedient, fearless, and abstinent from intoxicants and other vices – all traits that employers would give preference to, especially during tough economic times.

The emphasis on self-knowledge and self-emancipation, which was probably borrowed from Marcus Garvey, gave an urgent sense that black people should not wait for America to do for them what they can do for themselves. They would commonly ask, why rely on your ex-slave masters when you could pool in your own resources to build a future for your people?

The Nation of Islam was undoubtedly a realist organization that did not buy into Martin Luther King’s “dream” of an integrated America. After all, they believed that Caucasians were flesh-and-blood devils that Allah would soon destroy, and so whites were to be seen as rivalling competitors rather than potential allies.

Furthermore, unlike Black Lives Matter, the Nation of Islam puts a special emphasis on uplifting African American males from drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence, and hook-up culture. The perceived downfall of black men due to social ills was the primary motivation for the Million Man March.

 

What could traditional Muslims learn from this example?

The Nation of Islam proved that Muslims could be brazen and unapologetic; and not have to rely on co-opting forces in the political system to thrive in the West. Despite governmental censures on the organization and its leaders, the Nation of Islam produced Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Warith Deen Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan, who collectively introduced millions of people to the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. The subculture the sect created heavily influenced the worlds of sports, music, and intermittent dieting in America.

The Nation of Islam sought to give a religious hue to the issue of civil rights. As people of faith, we don’t see all suffering as simply a result of natural or systemic causes. Rather, some suffering has a divine function that includes trial, refinement, and chastisement. The Million Man March’s major themes included “Affirmation and Responsibility” and “Atonement and Reconciliation”, which emphasized that a return to traditional values and religious duties would bring about Allah’s succor and uplift legitimate grievances. Malcolm X’s example in particular shows that daʿwa cannot exist in a vacuum; but rather it has to be complimented with a socially-relevant message.

The reformative power of our religion is something that many traditional Muslims are forgetting. The Nation of Islam targeted addicts, sex-workers, inmates, and broken families, and turned them into productive and upright citizens. They knew that their teachings, which are heavily influenced by the Quran, could “resurrect” their people. On the other hand, immigrant communities often neglect and ostracize Muslim individuals for their marital status, education, poverty and past crimes or sins. One must remember that the Prophet Muhammad never walked away from his people, despite the debauchery that they took part in jahiliyya.

Muslims in North America and Europe should not only be passport-carrying doctors and engineers, but a self-sufficient international community with its own sense of purpose, loyal only to our own values and worldview. The Umma is the true shining city on the hill, and that light could foist the second pant-leg on.


[2] Mitchell, John L., and Jack Chang. “Searching for Mecca.” Vice, Vice, 13 Dec. 2013, www.vice.com/en_ca/article/dpwpz7/searching-for-mecca-0000178-v20n12.

[3] Austin, Allan. African Muslims in Antebellum America, A Sourcebook. New York: Garland Press, 1984.

[4] Saviour's Day 1974. YouTube, YouTube, 17 Feb. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh8VnhCjzbQ.

[5] Farley, Jonathan David. “Preventing the Rise of a 'Messiah'.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Apr. 2008, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/preventingtheriseofamessi

[6] Dorothy Gaiter, “Nation of Islam Tries to Accept gift of $1 Billion from Libya, The Wall Street Journal, 26 August 1996, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB841007141275125500

[7] “D.C. HIRES NATION OF ISLAM GUARDS FOR SE COMPLEX.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 May 1995, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1995/05/04/dc-hires-nation-of-islam-guards-for-se-complex/04352e30-6ad8-48fc-8de5-57a1283b7647/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f2b7a21a48a5.

[8] Beynon, “American Journal of Sociology.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 43, no. 6, 1938, pp. 895, 906.

[9] Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 89

[10] Ibid

[12] Sahib, H. (2018). Contributions in Black Studies, Vol 13 No. 1, pp. 87

 


[1] “The Final Call.” Willie Lynch Letter: The Making of a Slave, www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml. http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Minister_Louis_Farrakhan_9/Death_Stands_at_the_Door_-Pt_II_973.shtml

Sign in to follow this  


3 Comments


Recommended Comments

What's always struck me as interesting is how the Nation of Islam's prominence in the 20th century fuelled an image of an American Muslim as an ethical, virtuous figure who would abstain from the societal debauchery that exists around him (before this characterisation was reversed post-9/11). The NOI brought Islam to the forefront of American public consciousness for the first time, and its mission of giving Blacks respectability and a sense of purpose was the catalyst for Americans to formulate a notion of 'what' a Muslim was for the first time. To America in the '60's and 70's, a quintessential Muslim was Black, native-born, often a convert, and always socially-driven and self-disciplined. You can see examples of this in pop culture as late as the 1990's, such as Tupac Shakur rapping about how his homies that converted to Islam gave up on 'living large' for a more chaste lifestyle.

"Oh you a Muslim now, no more dope game / Heard you might be comin' home, just got bail / Wanna go to the Mosque, don't wanna chase females / I seems I lost my little homie he's a changed man / Hit the pen and now no sinnin' is the game plan." (1996)

It's easy to see how these stereotypes have shifted in the last few decades with waves of immigration reducing the proportion of African-American Muslims (although they still constitute almost 30% of Muslims in the USA) and the War on Terror demonizing the communities that have grown since. 

Share this comment


Link to comment

As Salaam Alaikum

Ashura, Karbala

What's important in the Lost Found Nation of Islam in the West to learn is first the knowledge of self and secondly the presence of God in being (person) or existence. These two subjects Self and God is the knowledge that was stripped away from the so-called African slaves and their descendants the so-called American Negro or African American as they are called today. 

Mentioning W F Muhammad twpadf, I wanted to give you a understanding of what the W means in his name something, that a minister like Malcolm X may not or would not have expounded on because those who he would have been teaching would not have been prepared to understand the meaning. That kind of teaching the student would have gotten after the student was initiated into the school or University of Islam and by way of studying the meaning.

The W means wilayat.

Edited by Maki D Cabarete

Share this comment


Link to comment

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Latest Blog Entries

    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      and even if we are not perhaps we should try to be and if we can't are there other ways of understanding the world around us in order to make informed decisions that are necessary for survival?
      A hoax?
      I was inspired to think about this. by yet another post on ShiaChat asking about the numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19 compared to the numbers dying annually from other causes e.g. malaria or car accidents. The motivation behind the observation was that maybe the fuss around Covid-19 was a hoax perpetrated by those who want to benefit themselves at our expense.
      Driving people to science ...
      A 'positive' outcome from this crisis is that people are trying to engage with the science and statistics behind the virus, even though they may not be doing so perfectly. But at least it demonstrates a desire to understand the world rather than spend time in idle frivolity. And perhaps as a result of better understanding acquired by such means we may be better able to cope with the next, more virulent virus. At the same time there are clearly attempts by some to mislead to further their own agenda.
      Epistemology for the masses
      But I also believe that God allows for information and knowledge to take a number of different forms and if we cannot understand one, there is always something else that may take us in the right direction.
      Salvation for those who can't add up
      There are many different measures of how deadly or not the virus is and based on that information what the imperative should be on us to take any action. There is the argument about no more deadly than flu, more people die in road traffic accidents and whether someone died of CV19 or with it so on. 
      However I think that it is instructive that we have quantitative information about deadliness that is very easy indeed to understand, it can not be easily manipulated or changed for propaganda purposes. It the data on excess deaths. In all developed countries and many developing ones we know how many people die each year. We just look at the number for this year and you can see the impact. Of course if there is more than one pandemic happening then it's not so good, but at the moment we only have one.
      https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/04/16/tracking-covid-19-excess-deaths-across-countries?gclsrc=aw.ds&gclid=CjwKCAjwtqj2BRBYEiwAqfzur2tUrpRWyXzItjBIDYv-RFBwlzlIBVnQk1155kR7aHJPymSI5DGvcRoCKvkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
      I think the importance of this measure for theists is an important one. Ultimately God creates everything. A just God who created CV19, would also offer us reliable and valid tools to measure its impact.

      https://www.ft.com/content/f6a11fcd-0445-4643-9d3c-24d5fc0611da
      So even if our maths and science are not good enough to understand the technical perspective, I think the qualitative narratives provided by doctors and nurses in many different countries about their daily experiences should be evidence enough to show that this is not some existing cause of death like malaria. Clearly health professionals in many different countries are overwhelmed in a manner that the common flu does not cause. 
      Did China lie? But does it matter?
       A common refrain from President Trump in late April 2020 has been that the Americans were caught off-guard because the Chinese lied about the nature and extent of the virus. In some ways each of us has been in the same position as the American government. To what extent has the information that has been provided to us been accurate and a reflection of the real situation? I don't think it matters. Because it has been easy enough to observe, almost in real time, what the impact has been on peoples' behaviour. People can lie about their opinions and their analysis of reality but they tend to behave in a manner that reflects their true understanding of a situation.
      There were enough videos coming out of China about the hospitals being built, the roads being disinfected, the guards at the ground level of apartment blocks restricting who could enter or leave, to tell anyone regardless of cognitive ability that this was a serious virus. This was not flu.
      So we did not need to rely on what the Chinese said, all we needed to do was observe what they did.
      So you did not need to know the R value of the virus, you did not need to know the difference between different types of mortality rates and so on. All you needed to know were the extreme measures those on the front line were taking because they were terrified and act appropriately.
      Conclusion
      Of course anecdotes are not a substitute for statistics for policy makers, but in terms of the decisions that we need to take in our daily lives, the former are good enough to understand that the risk is real and the need to change behaviour is imperative.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         3
      Whether Covid-19 is a naturally occurring virus or whether as some claim (unconvincingly, so far) it is a bioweapon, in my opinion its spread is the result of free will [15]. If it is naturally occurring, then it was human actions that led to its migration from animals to humans. We know that some viruses can do this and we have had previous experience with ones (e.g. SARS) that have created far less havoc [1]. By the same measure this one could be seen to be a dry run for worse epidemics to come, that too is eminently predictable [2,17].
      Warnings
      A theist could argue that the 2003 SARS outbreak was a warning. SARS showed us that the consumption of certain animals and/or their close proximity to humans can be dangerous. The death toll was relatively low but the message was clear. The fact that people still pursued lifestyles that could lead to such transmission is an expression of their free will. They are exercising their right to pursue cultural practices (eating haram wild animals) while ignoring science [3]. Similarly this is not the last virus that we will face, no doubt there will be another one along at some point which will be deadlier and more difficult to contain. If the lessons from this one are not learnt then the number of dead with the next one will be even higher. That is not the result of God being unjust, it is the result of various human injustices, the socio-economic dimension of the current outbreak has been observed I.e. the poor are much more likely to die than people who are better off [4], but such observations are rare because that would challenge the existing order.
      Taking informed personal control
      But just as people can blame people in other nations and cultures for their own demise, so we are now facing the tests for our own understanding of risk and willingness to change established behaviours. Two weeks prior to my writing this the Western press was full of stories about how religious Iranians were responsible for helping spread the virus [5]. Those gloating articles [6] have now been replaced by those which are lamenting the behaviour of people in the West and the slow behaviour of western governments.
      How the virus transmits, what counts as risky behaviour and what does not is all information that is available and has been for some time now. Some people may choose not to observe nature, they may choose to ignore science and they may choose to live lives as they have always done but they cannot escape reality. And that goes for people who are visiting shrines when they should not as much as those who go to restaurants or evangelical churches [19].
      Inequality and viral transmission
      There are those who are unable to comply with the scientific advice because of the constraints of their employment, those who get paid by the hour and nothing if they don't work are in a very invidious position. If they carry on working who is to blame? In that situation I think the rest of us carry some responsibility for having elected political leaders who have created economic systems that allow such practices to exist. But luckily and perhaps something that may offer us some redemption in some countries at least even the most economically liberal people are recognising the need to be more communitarian with for example, people who are renting being able to stay in their apartments even if they do not pay their rent [7]. Singapore stands out as a country with an exemplary record in containing Covid-19, but their Achilles heel? The relatively poor care they take of Indian migrant workers and it's been the accommodation such people are offered that has been a more recent cause for concern [16]. The solution has been to 'improve' housing conditions and people recognise that having dozens of workers sharing the same toilets or men living 12 to a room is ideal for viral transmission, the inequality will need to be addressed in order to reduce the transmission of the disease and thereby protect those who are better off.
      Incidentally the Singapore example is also worth remembering for all those occasions where people woe the fact that their country is not more like Singapore (I know Pakistanis like doing this). Singapore is one of those countries that enjoys a very favourable international press, and if you are a tourist it is indeed paradise. But it stays that way because of a large underbelly of South Indian manual workers and Malaysians commuting from Johor. There are also other countries (a number ex-British colonies), with similar labour models and all will have problems when you have a disease that spreads more easily where people are being treated unequally.
      The Singaporean situation stands in contrast to the Indian state of Kerala whose Covid-19 figures are exemplary, why? Because socialist governments have clamped down on inequality [20]. They may not have the best medical facilities in the world, but good socio-economics have helped them to cope better than richer and better equipped countries. There is a similar story in Vietnam, a country that has learnt not to put economic gain at the very top of the national agenda was able to take strong pre-emptive action and has suffered only a few hundred deaths, despite having a long border with China [21], almost counter-intuitively such emphasis on health may allow such regions to resume economic activity more quickly than those places which were to put it bluntly 'greedy'.
      There is another way to look at this. The information was always out there, regardless of claims with hindsight that the Chinese hid the scale of the situation. Some countries (poor ones) acted on it and some (amongst the richest) did not. Possible reasons for the difference? Wealth itself blinkered the vision of decision-makers. A rich country simply has too much to lose if it locks down, despite the fact that it can afford to do so if it wanted to. It's analogous in my opinion to the reason why often it is small companies that innovate and larger ones don't. The latter have too much invested in the status quo.
      Economic solutions for medical problems
      Those of us who believe in a forgiving and generous God understand that viruses and other diseases are part of the ecosystem in which we live. How we deal with them is, to a large degree, up to us. And to that end it is interesting to note how various commentators are recognising that economic systems that are built on the adoration of the individualistic entrepreneur can be ill-fitted to dealing with such situations, which invariably require self-sacrifice for the social good and where problems are exacerbated when people act selfishly. There are now Twitter campaigns singling out pharmacies that have over-charged for medicines. There are loud complaints about billionaires whose businesses are being baled out with taxpayers' money [8]. Societies that have maintained at least some ability to self-reflect will recognise that although this is a virus the solutions are not going to be wholly medical, they will have to have an economic and social dimension and the latter will involve following precepts embodied in religious texts. Comparisons have been drawn with WWII about how such calamities make societies more social [9].
      Whatever the defences people make of the United States healthcare system the fact remains that in order to deal with this virus at least, the system cannot cope with existing payment practices [10]. While the uninsured can go untreated for various other illnesses, they can't be left to their own devices when the result of non-treatment will be an even worse epidemic. Viruses reinforce religious precepts of charity, seeking knowledge and looking after others.
      Beliefs, behaviours and survival
      Viruses are not kind to those people who believe in blind faith [11] or who feel they can carry on partying [12]. Viruses are not kind to those people who believe in quack cures [13]. Viruses don't care about economic, political, social or religious ideology. Viruses present us with a reality and it is up to us whether we accept it, accommodate it into our worldview and live or challenge it and die. Those people protesting at the Michigan capital about 'liberty' may be making a political point [22], but the virus does not care about liberty and it is certainly not intimidated by the fact that they are carrying AR15 rifles.
      This virus, at least from what we know has a clear basis for prevention - social distance, and better still self-isolation [14]. Respecting its transmission is in my opinion respecting nature and the laws of God. The ability to perceive the reality of the situation is essential and something whose importance we've previously discussed [18]. Given the Islamic imperative on preserving life both one's own and that of others - following these rules becomes a must. To that extent we are empowered and God has given us hope and His mercy. This is no apocalypse waiting to happen, it always could be averted, there have been enough warnings over the past several months to encourage those who are willing to listen and prepare.
      Hope for people
      As a result of the outbreak science is attempting to catch-up and there will likely be a solution. There always is. Again theists and Muslims in particular have their beliefs to give hope in this specific regard. Hope manifests itself at two levels, there is what society can do as it manages and comes out of lockdown and there is what we can do as individuals. At a societal level questions are beginning to be asked about whether lifestyles that we had taken for granted are necessary, do people have to travel long distances to work, when teleworking is possible? Now that people are no longer taking flights were they essential in the first place or should some airlines be allowed to go bust? Of course this is going to cause tremendous upheaval, unemployment and social costs but for those of us who believe in man made climate change, this is a heaven sent opportunity to make the radical changes that would otherwise have been economically unthinkable and perhaps avoid much larger social and economic devastation if we had continued with the same business models as before.
      Hope for the individual
      In the meantime we are locked down to varying degrees depending on where we are in the world. Some of us may be locked down, but saving time commuting as we work from home others may have no other choice but to stay at home and wait it out.
      The lockdown as I see it is an opportunity. Our daily lives can be an impediment to religious study with more material concerns taking precedence. Lockdown can be seen as a heaven sent opportunity to refocus, while at the same time having the impetus of seeing at first hand the proximity of death.
      This is the time when we can
      Re-open the books that may have not be read for some time. Remember the prayers for which people may ordinarily feel they do not have the time Revisit al-Islam.org and access the resources they have available Sign-up to online Islamic courses For all the occasions where people are led astray by having haram easy to access, its misperceived benefits available in abundance, death seemingly improbable, unlikely and far away and the ability to choose the right path made more difficult by these impediments - the virus and its social and behavioural implications is a reset that loads the dice in the favour of those who are inclined towards the right path. Death is nearer, it is entirely possible and we have the time and the resources to prepare for it. Over the course of human existence, this is a luxury that few people have had.
      [1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sars/
      [2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/emerging-viruses
      [3] https://www.healthline.com/health/zoonosis#list-of-diseases
      [4] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/09/media/emily-maitlis-bbc-coronavirus-scli-intl-gbr/index.html
      [5] https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-Iran-became-a-new-epicenter-of-the-coronavirus-outbreak
      [6] https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/24/how-Iran-botched-coronavirus-pandemic-response/
      [7] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
      [8] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/31/bailouts-coronavirus-state-aid
      [9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/11/coronavirus-who-will-be-winners-and-losers-in-new-world-order
      [10] https://www.ft.com/content/00017d02-5f39-11ea-b0ab-339c2307bcd4
      [11] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-51706021
      [12] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/cheltenham-festival-defends-decision-coronavirus-a4406906.html
      [13] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/Iran-coronavirus-methanol-drink-cure-deaths-fake-a9429956.html
      [14] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30190-0/fulltext
      [15] https://www.al-Islam.org/God-and-his-attributes-Sayyid-mujtaba-musavi-lari/lesson-19-free-will
      [16] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/3-pronged-strategy-in-place-to-stop-virus-spread-in-dorms
      [17] https://www.ft.com/content/6e9b4fe7-b26e-45b9-acbd-2b24d182e914
      [18] https://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235033293-quran-social-science-natural-science/
      [19] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/bible-belt-us-coronavirus-pandemic-pastors-church-a9481226.html
      [20] https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/13/999313/kerala-fight-covid-19-india-coronavirus/
      [21] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52628283
      [22] https://www.npr.org/2020/05/14/855918852/heavily-armed-protesters-gather-again-at-michigans-capitol-denouncing-home-order?t=1589550976807
    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
         0
      This story is about a tea party, but actually it isn't about the party.
      It isn't about the party that Anna Pavlovna holds, the one that many people know about but about whose subsequent events they remain unfamiliar. In fact if I wanted to I could try really hard and remind myself of the time I attended, but as I said that's not really the purpose of this story.
      You see Sakina many people arrive at Anna Pavlovna's party with high hopes and expectations. They have a self-image of their literary prowess and they want to be able to tell everyone else that not only did they attend but that they experienced everything else that happened afterwards as well.
      I was a bit like that to be honest. The first time I went I was about your age. I'd heard a lot about Anna Pavlovna's world and I wanted to be able to casually mention to friends and associates that I'd been. And so I would try so very very hard to get to know the attendees and to be honest it was impossible. I made many attempts and never got further than the entrance to the party itself.
      So I tried a different tack.
      I'd try less hard.
      Instead of trying to get as far into this world as I could and meet as many people as I could, as quickly as I could, I would take the opposite approach.
      I would only spend so much time at the party and I would stop, no matter how engaging the characters and no matter how interesting the stories that they had to tell.
      And the next day I would come back to where I had left off and the people and the stories would still be there and slowly but surely I'd have the impetus to find out a little more about them and the following day a little bit more and so on.
      In fact their lives became a little soap opera for me that went on for over a year and that's how I finished War & Peace.
    • By GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         6
      [In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful]

      Some people may object to my embrace of Islam. "Oh, Islam is such a difficult and demanding religion" they will say "It's too difficult to be a Muslim, especially in the West". I wholeheartedly disagree.

      Islam is not difficult at all, unless you allow it to be. Submission to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the natural state that humans were created for, so I have not found it terribly difficult at all thus far and even if it was, that doesn't mean that it's not worth pursuing (actually, challenges are good for us because they force us to persevere and grow in the process of overcoming). Religion and faith are not toys to be played with and put away on a shelf until the next time that you have a job interview, wind up in jail, or face an illness- Religion and faith are aspects of the human experience that should fundamentally change us as people, and always for the better.

      This is the difference between a fulfilling life and a life of constant desire for the cheap thrills of this world (which never satisfy), religion is the difference between heaven & hell; as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) sees all we do + his judgment of us will ultimately come down to how perfectly we submitted, how closely we followed his commands, and the weight of our sins of both commission & omission in this life (sins of omission would be neglecting salah, charity, or treatment of his creation, etc).

      I honestly never thought I was going to be able to embrace Islam. There are enough posts on SC where I sound apprehensive and lean in that direction. What I have noticed is that within the past week, I have thrown myself into developing my practice of Islam with a much greater sense of mindfulness than I ever did with my Christianity. I believe that this is because in Christianity, we expect God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to "work within us" and change us without having to put in much effort ourselves besides reading the bible and praying daily. If we expect someone else, even our concept of God, to do this work for us it will likely not be done. We have to put forth the effort to change ourselves and develop our religion and Insha'Allah, we will become better, more complete human beings. In just a week, I have gone from near-total ignorance of the Quran, inability to pray without reading off a sheet, and praying "when I remembered" to keeping salah, memorizing the process of offering my five daily prayers, and setting five alarms on my phone (complete with an adhan for added immersion). I've even been able to commit short surahs to memory (in Arabic nonetheless!) so that I can offer my prayers properly as they were modeled by the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). I never in my wildest dreams even two weeks ago, imagined that I would be capable of doing this, so I am both excited and at the same time, feeling a sense of serenity- that this really is "it" and that I have found the path that I belong on in order to develop as a person.

      Today, I received my misbaha (dhikr beads) and have begun to offer dhikr, starting with the tasbih of Fatima (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) this afternoon. I have also ordered a modest prayer rug. Now I find myself wondering what my next steps are to improve my practice of Islam; namely what other parts of my religion can I begin to practice and what parts of myself I can work on improving. Although I am just a "baby Muslim", I truly feel as if I am changing for the better and that perhaps I should give myself just a bit more credit than I do for how far I have personally come in such a short period of time.

      However, as easy as practicing Islam has been for me + as natural as it feels, I realize that my experience is just that- my experience. Brothers and sisters all across the planet, many in this nation of mine (America), may not have such an easy time adhering to their faith. For some (Uyghurs in China, Bosnians), the practice of Islam comes with the very real risk of persecution & death from the unjust & tyrannical, but nonetheless they keep the faith without probably ever making blog posts like this one. I believe that all of us, including the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) can learn something about fidelity, devotion, perseverance and not least of all courage, from these brave brothers and sisters in these countries that are much more hostile to Islam.

      How do you think I can improve my religious practice from here on out?

      How can you improve yours?
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
         17
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
    • By GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         0
      There has been a lot of talk about confessing of sins in my life experience so far. I'm not going to do that here since we aren't supposed to, but allow me to give a little background on my specific situation in regard to confession. Coming from the Christian tradition, the idea of not confessing ones' sins sounds very alien & almost as some sort of a cop-out to not have to face up to the wrong you have done. Whether it is the Catholic form of confession to a priest (either face to face or hidden behind a curtain) or the protestant scene's insistence that we confess to as many members of our local church as possible-- We who were raised in Christianity had the idea of confession pounded into our heads like a post into dry, hard earth since at least the earliest we can remember. Our every moral failing, character flaw, and vice must be shared with the wider Christian community for the purposes of "accountability"-- the idea being that by talking about our sins, we will feel shame and not commit them anymore (Catholic) & that confessing these negative thoughts/behaviors can help other Christians to encourage us in our spiritual journey. Normally, this doesn't work out this way and you as the individual Christian become the object of gossip in your congregation... which we understand to be sinful in and of itself. The idea of "covering up" your sins is treated as if you were voluntarily refusing to use the toilet to eliminate waste from your body.

              While I do see some value in confessing sins, I do not now and have never seen much value in confessing them to more than your parish priest/congregational pastor & any parties who might have been directly wronged by your actions; and certainly see no benefit to confessing to the entire church. People have their own vices, failings, and flaws; thus they usually aren't in a great position to counsel others on modifying their behavior and perfecting their spiritual practice. Of course, this has been argued to me by many a well-meaning church lady as "Think of it that you aren't confessing for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others who have their own sins that they need to repent of, but feel too much fear of judgment to do so". As referenced above, this normally doesn't work out in that way. My general rule now is that if you absolutely must "come clean" about sins, that the better practice would be to confess this to your spiritual mentor/religious leader (ideally one you have a close relationship with).

             Initially, I had assumed that this Christian practice of reconciliation would also apply to Islam, so at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I will "confess" that I have done this prior to being clued-in as to why Islam doesn't have a reconciliation ritual practice. However, the logic was something that took me a little while to make sense of, as it has to do with "honor culture". "Honor culture" is something that we do not really have as American cultural Christians. Bearing that in mind and my continuing to work through the Christian dogma of original sin, I have to remind myself frequently on SC to NOT approach others as an "open book". Think of it in the same way as oversharing on social media: not everyone needs to (or even wants to) know about my sins & failures.
            This is not for my benefit, as I do not have a concept of "honor" aside from keeping my word to others (we are taught that the actions of others have no bearing on us as individuals). I have chosen to modify the Christian motivation of "responsibility to the church" that would encourage confession, to a view that does NOT encourage it for the sake of sparing others discomfort-- to not break a taboo that may make my brothers and sisters feel awkward or "put them on the spot" with a false, pharisaic piety that may make them feel lead to open up about shameful things from their own life, as well as not propagating the concept that "sin is OK provided you confess publicly". I am a guest here and I am no longer among my own culture, after all. To borrow a term from the Gospels, I don't want to place a "stumbling block" in the path of my brothers and sisters.

              It's much better to not speak of my sins to anyone aside from Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) , as he is the ONLY one who can forgive our sins.

             I'll admit that having to completely relearn everything I was so certain of in regard to faith & spirituality can, like any training or exercising of mind or muscle, be uncomfortable at the outset. However, we take these journeys and diverge from the walk of our native culture and our parents because the peace that comes with finding truth wherever it objectively lies is greater than providing ourselves a momentary balm for our troubled souls that something that is not necessarily beneficial can bring (like using a substance when we are emotionally hurting).

             Insha'allah, this week and from here on, I will work extra hard to remain mindful and not overshare, offer forth Too Much Information, and thus protect both my honor and that of my brothers and sisters who have lived this deen from birth or at least prior to my pursuit of universal truth & perfect submission to my awesome and all-powerful creator.

       
    • By GD41586 in Chasing Islam
         0
      Have you ever been fascinated by something? I mean truly fascinated-- wherein you find yourself pondering, daydreaming, and even neglecting your hobbies to research the topic in question?

      I attended three separate high schools from 1421-1425 (2000-2004 CE), so one might think that Islam would have been very topical during this period. I'll be the first to admit that my high school didn't cover Islam at all. We had no units on Islam or Muslims in World History nor did we speak of Islam in any sort of current events units in social studies (my schools didn't even offer World Religions as an elective). Although we had Muslim students, the only information we ever received on Islam was from an Evangelical Christian Language Arts teacher that I will refer to as Mrs. B. Mrs. B did not take a very favorable view of Islam at all & would semi-regularly sneak in mean-spirited verbal barbs about the faith itself. These usually were ignored by everyone or written off as “Oh, there Mrs. B goes again!” while we pondered whether what her proclamations regarding her specific flavor of Christianity somehow violated the prohibition on public school employees promoting their religious views. We also knew nothing of Islam except what the American media (usually through right-wing pundits) was trying to pound into our heads. That is, until an incredibly well spoken and gifted classmate came along: Massomeh.

      Massomeh's came from a Muslim family and they had moved to the US from Tehran a few years prior to our sophomore year. She was a straight-A student who played on the girl's soccer team, never was so much as “shushed” by a teacher, and did her best to fit in socially while maintaining a level of integrity in her faith that not even the Southern Baptist students (who would act up outside of school), as vocal and virtue-signaling as they were, could hope to maintain during this period of American history, when the moral sentiments of previous generations began to “circle the drain”. Massey (how she preferred to be addressed by classmates) was the student that a lot of us wished we could be... until Mrs. B and a few other teachers began making their broad generalizations and giving false information about Islam, Iran, and Muslims in the wake of the attacks on New York City. As the idiom goes: “Sista don't play dat”, and we watched in awe as this peer of ours respectfully and concisely refuted, contradicted, and dismantled every claim that these faculty members made about Islam & Muslims (and occasionally Iran). She ended up becoming so popular with the students after these statements that she was voted as the head of our Student government (and also because her skill at persuading adults got us the few concessions in the cafeteria that we had wanted from the day the brand new high school opened its doors).
       
      Massey's mini-lectures on Islam had a major impact on me. I was already well into almost an obsessive interest in religions by that point, and it was refreshing to be able to hear one of my peers deliver expertise on something aside from school gossip, gangster rap, or football. I heard her elaborate on what Islam was, what Islam taught (remember that she was not an Islamic scholar), and subjects like the Hajj & what it entailed. When she inevitably gave a presentation on Islam during a current events segment of social studies, she had prepared a PowerPoint presentation complete with graphics; and that's where I saw a picture of a structure that would come to dominate my imagination and interest to this very day: a large black cube in the middle of the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

      The Kaaba. The “House of God”.

      After the presentation in which she explained to the puzzled students that this grand, black cube structure was built by the patriarch Abraham (the root from which monotheism was reestablished) & it was believed to be the first house of worship ever constructed; I began to search out whatever pictures and information about this fascinating structure that I could. Of course, I was (nominally) Christian, so it made no sense to me why I was so enamored with this ancient structure when my own (nominal) religion had sacred sites and holy places of its own. My family didn't understand, and my teachers were uneasy with this fascination for whatever reason (likely politically motivated, as this was during the first presidential term of George W. Bush). I didn't look into Islam as a religion at this time, all I knew was that there was something about this large, black granite cube that captured my attention. Whether it was the shape, the Masjid al-Haram that surrounded it, or the ritual of the Hajj itself has been forgotten to me over the years; but I began daydreaming about its significance and even put a photo of it as the wallpaper on my 1998 IBM Aptiva PC (which troubled my mom and got me in a bit of trouble, as I was clearly “only doing this to rebel & get attention”). I had even printed a picture of It and glued it to the inside of my creative writing binder. This made no sense to anyone, least of all me: After all, I was the video-gaming, Magic: the Gathering-playing, anti-authoritarian punk rocker teen who was bored in school & had no plans on going to university or college after I escaped what amounted to little more than a government funded indoctrination daycamp. Why was I so star struck by this sacred structure, particularly as I was going through a period of doubting the existence of God and a general belief that “all religions have gotten it wrong”?

      Fast forward to the present day (1441). As my life changes in so many ways, I am more fascinated than ever before with this amazing, beautiful geometric house of God. However, I still cannot give a good explanation of exactly what it is that piques my interest to the point where I dream of and draw pictures of this monument, I tear through the internet for any articles, scholarly or otherwise, that I can find (and access) that will reveal the history, purpose, and significance of the Kaaba to me. The argument will likely be made that this is another case of the “white man fetishizing a non-white culture”, but such a limited hand-wave of my interest in the Kaaba betrays a painfully ignorant view of Islam and Muslims that is almost ironic in its naivety, as Islam is a religion and a way of life (deen) for all people of earth, regardless of their native language, skin color, or national origin. After all, it was upon making the pilgrimage to this most sacred place that one of my heroes, Malcolm X, repented of his Black Supremacist views and left the Nation of Islam (which is “Islamic” in the way that White Supremacist hate groups in America claim they are “Christian”). Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad ((عليه السلام).) repudiated the idea of race in his farewell sermon:

      “O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam was from the ground. The noblest of you in Allah’s sight is the most godfearing: Arab has no merit over non-Arab other than godfearingness.” (from the report of Al-Jahiz (translated), forgive me if I have made an error)

      I wonder if the Kaaba and my obsessive interest in it was what drew me into pursuing Islam, or more appropriately (and truthfully), if this was the “introduction” to the Islamic way of life that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) used to begin to undo my ignorance in regard to the perfect path that he has ordained for ALL mankind through His final prophet & messenger Muhammad ((عليه السلام).), to draw me away from the imperfect, tainted “cultural Christianity” that I was born into & subsequently was my sole religious exposure until that fateful day in class. Since this period of my life began, I have moved closer and closer to Islam like a comet being drawn toward the sun. I do not know what the future holds for me, nor can I pretend to & doing so would be both absurd & presumptuous on my part; but what I DO know is that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has created me for both his pleasure and to fulfill a specific destiny, no matter how insignificant it may seem to me & the world I occupy.

      Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is THE BEST of planners & Inshallah, I will eventually be able to live a proper and functional Muslim life. It's just a matter of arriving at that point.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Blog Statistics

    79
    Total Blogs
    435
    Total Entries
×
×
  • Create New...