American Sharia in Brisbane!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

I recall the kick-starter project raising funds for the first ever Halal Action Comedy a few years ago and was intrigued by the trailer released a few months later. I forgot all about it until a few weeks a go when my preferred Muslim Charitable Organisation, Muslim Aid Australia announced details of the Australian screenings of American Sharia.

The Brisbane Premiere last weekend went pretty well and I’m sure everyone who attended had a good evening and enjoyed the Halal Entertainment. In true Brisbane fashion, the theatre was less than full and the mood slightly sombre. Thankfully, someone warned Omar Regan about this so he was prepared for the lack of enthusiasm from the audience.

Getting to meet the producer and star of the show was exciting. The funny-man who’s had a few Hollywood appearances was extremely humble and truly appreciative of our support. Selfies ensued.

The movie itself was entertaining and gave us a few good laughs. I must admit, given the nature of the production and the budget constraints, I didn’t have high expectations. Despite the shaky camera scenes and a few too many sub plots through the story, the movie was very entertaining and the message was very clear.

It’s not all comedy, the movie takes you into the life of the protagonist whose character and personality is evolving through the story so there is a fair bit of grief, self-reflection and drama which adds to the depth of the story. I found the story of the Imam who was actually based on Regan’s father to be extremely heartbreaking and almost needed the Comedy to change-up the pace.

It provided an insight into the challenges and trials faced by everyday Muslims living in the West and America in particular. Many of the issues were inspired by actual events that have taken place over the last few years which is a sad reality. As an Australian, I felt a sense of relief that we aren’t subjected to such prejudice and discrimination – though I am sure some would disagree with me on this.

If you don’t watch movies at all then this probably isn’t for you, so step away from the Haram-gun and just avoid the movie all together. If you do enjoy movies and are looking a for a more family friendly, modest yet entertaining production minus the foul language and obscenities, then American Sharia is a good fit for you.

Regan is working on a few more scripts to add to the Halalywood banner and I hope for the sake of our children that these initiatives are supported by the Muslim community so they become viable alternatives to the mainstream.

In Sha Allah!

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Ramadan Reminders: What Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

The best reminder yet, a Ramadhan sermon by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W):

“O People! Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered. So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite his book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month.

Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honour your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, show compassion to the orphans of people, so compassion may be shown to your orphans. Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if he is asked …

“O People! Indeed your souls are dependant on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by his might: That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.

“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven. Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”

The Prophet replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.” “One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the ‘Siraat’ … on the day that feet will slip … “One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgement … “As for one who honour an orphan; Allah will honour him on the day of judgement, “And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgement. “As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him … “Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him … “Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month. “And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of measure. “He who recites one verse of the Holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the whole Quran during other months.

“O People! Indeed during this month the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.”

May we All benefit from this month Insha Allah!

Ramadhaan Reminders: Dinner Parties & Iftaar…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Many people use the following Hadith to justify and encourage Dinner/Iftaar parties during the month of Ramadhaan:

“Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, will have a reward equal to his, without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person” – Tirmidhi.

I think it’s important to see the wisdom behind such inspiration and not to abuse it. Dinner/Iftaar parties can often distract people from the real virtues of Ramadhaan and may even facilitate and encourage Back-biting, gossip, etc. The key is to avoid any situation that would distract you from attaining the pleasure of Allah.

Charity is very closely associated with the month of Ramadhaan and some scholars are of the opinion that the above Hadith relates to the food/Iftaar provided to the poor and needy. I’m not in any way implying that providing Iftaar to people who can afford it won’t earn you the reward but what I am saying is make sure the Dinner/Iftaar is done for the right reasons and in the right environment. Invite a different person over for dinner everyday instead of hosting a Dinner/Iftaar party for a huge group of people in one sitting.

May Allah allow us to benefit from this auspicious month…

Ibrahim Ad’ham and the 10 things that prevent our prayers from being answered…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Allah says in the Holy Quran: Call upon Me, and I will answer your prayers. Why then are some of our prayers not answered?

Ibrahim Ad’ham who was once the ruler of Khurasan was asked this question and responded with: “Because of ten things your hearts are dead; if a person has these ten bad qualities in him, how should God accept his prayer?’

The ten qualities are:

  1. You acknowledge Allah, you pretend to acknowledge Him, and yet you do not give His due
  2. You read the Quran, yet you do not observe it’s commands and prohibitions
  3. Although you say that Satan is your enemy, you follow and obey him
  4. You call yourselves members of the Ummah of Muhammad (S.A.W), yet you do not follow his examples
  5. You claim that you will go to paradise, yet you do none of the deeds required to gain entrance therein
  6. You wish to achieve salvation from the Fire of Hell, yet you throw yourselves into it by committing sin
  7. You know that death is inevitable, yet you make no preparation for it
  8. You pay a lot of attention to the faults of others, yet you do not see your own faults
  9. You consume the bounty of your Lord without showing gratitude
  10. You bury your dead without taking warning
Check yourself before you wreck yourself!
O Allah, graciously afford us the gift of faith and spirituality, and include us among those who achieve success and find salvation from the Hell fire… Ameen!

Backbiting & Gossip…

I read an interesting article on backbiting and gossip recently which I’d like to share as a reminder to us all. It is something we can all relate to and unfortunately something we very often participate in. The issue is not the nature or severity of the sin, I believe the real issue lies in our failure to acknowledge and recognise the fact that backbiting and gossiping are sinful acts. The recognition of certain acts as sinful or haraam is embedded in our minds from childhood and are therefore easier to reflect upon and acknowledge even as we grow up, however, the acts that are overlooked in our early years can easily be overlooked and even justified as we grow up. Unfortunately, backbiting and gossip are easily overlooked and pose a greater threat to us as we develop and grow. I hope this article serves as a reminder to us of the severity of these sins and also allow us to recognise and acknowledge them as sins so we are better able to avoid and resist them.

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Many gatherings produce nothing but gossip about other Muslims and slander of their honour. This is something which Allah has forbidden His slaves, and has drawn the most repulsive analogy to put them off. He says (interpretation of the meaning): “. . . neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it . . .” [al-Hujuraat 49:12]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained the meaning of this aayah. He said: “Do you know what gheebah (gossip or backbiting) is?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said: “To say something about your brother that he does not want to be said.” He was asked, “What do you think if what is said about him is true?” He said, “If what you say about him is true, this is backbiting, and if what you say about him is not true, this is a lie.” (Reported by Muslim, 4/2001). Gossip or backbiting means saying something about a Muslim which may be true but which he does not like to hear spoken, whether it be about his physical appearance, his adherence to religion, his worldly affairs, his self, his behaviour or his character. There are many forms of gossip, including talking about a person’s faults and imitating him to make fun of him. People take the matter of gheebah very lightly, although it is very serious in the sight of Allah, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “There are seventy-two forms of riba, the least of which is as bad as a man having intercourse with his own mother, and the worst of which is when a man slanders the honour of his brother.” (Silsilah al-Saheeh, 1871).Whoever is present in a gathering where gossip takes place should “forbid what is evil” and defend his absent brother. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged us to do this when he said: “Whoever defends the honour of his Muslim brother, Allah will protect his face from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by Ahmad, 6/450; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6238).  

Some people go about repeating the words of others to cause trouble between people; this is one of the greatest causes of broken relations and stirring up feelings of hatred among people. Allah condemned the one who does this (interpretation of the meaning): “And obey not everyone who swears much, – and is considered worthless, a slanderer, going about with calumnies.” [al-Qalam 68:10-11]Hudhayfah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No eavesdropper will enter Paradise.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, see al-Fath, 10/472; “eavesdropper” here refers to a person who eavesdrops on others without their knowing, then goes and tells others what he has heard)

Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed by one of the gardens of Madeenah, and heard the sound of two people being punished in their graves. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “They are being punished, but they are not being punished for any major sin; one of them used never to clean himself properly after urinating, and the other used to spread malicious slander . . .” (Reported by al-Bukhaari; see Fath al-Baari, 1/317).

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I hope this article has highlighted and reiterated the severity and consequences of backbiting & gossip. My intention was not to scare or depress anyone, but rather to serve as a reminder and hopefully a deterrent towards these sinful acts. It is important to teach our children about theses acts so they grow and develop with the acknowledgement and recognition of these acts as sinful. Don’t promote backbiting and gossip by asking children about other kids at school and don’t backbite or gossip about others in the presence of your kids. What we learn as children and the habits we develop as kids will be reflected in our actions as adults, we need to encourage an Islamic upbringing in order to promote an Islamic lifestyle. I think a good start would be to stop backbiting and gossiping ourselves and Insha Allah the people around us will follow.

Thanks for reading, may Allah make us among those who are guided and among those who guide. Ameen.

Stolen time…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

I was inspired by the following article titled “Shaytan called a worldwide convention”:

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In his opening address to his evil Jinns, he said, “We can’t keep the Believers from going to Masjids. We can’t keep them from reading their Qur`an and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience with Allah”. Once they gain that connection with Allah, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their Masjids; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can’t gain that relationship with Allah.

This is what I want you to do Jinns. Distract them from gaining hold of their Lord and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day! “How shall we do this?” shouted his Jinns. “Keep them busy in the non essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered. “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!” “Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-Qur`anic recitation constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Allah.” “Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so their husbands will believe that external beauty is what’s important, and they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives. That will fragment those families quickly!” “Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week. Don’t let them go out in nature to reflect on Allah’s wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, and busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning; but crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Allah.” “Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!” It was quite a convention. The evil Jinns went eagerly to their assignments causing Believers everywhere to get busier and more rushed, going here and there.

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If you’re chasing your tail from morning to evening, waking up early, working late, not sleeping enough, studying hard and pursuing all the luxuries of this world, how much time do you devote towards you Lord? Apart from the 5 daily prayers, (I’m assuming we all manage that much at least) are we able to spare a few minutes everyday to read Quran? 5 minutes a day to read a Hadith? 5 minutes at the end of each day to thank Allah for his bounties? 5 minutes each morning to pray for guidance? A few minutes after each prayer for the remembrance of our Lord?

Why don’t we have time? Why can’t we spare a few minutes of our lives to remember and thank our Lord? From a young age we are moulded to pursue this lifestyle. Go to school so you can study, go to uni so you can get a job, get a job so you can make money, make more money so you can afford the house, the car, the holidays, the gadgets… and once you’re in the system, it ain’t easy to unplug. We are all guilty of it, unfortunately the lifestyle many of us pursue is not conducive to our Islamic way of life, however I don’t believe they are completely incompatible.

As I mentioned in “The jar of life”- Sometimes the less important things in life can distract us, filling up our time and keeping us away from what really matters. If we get our priorities in order, we can fit everything in. The  key is to prioritize, do what’s most important and Insha Allah you will see Barakah in your time and Barakah in your life. As a Muslim, prioritize your faith, be punctual and sincere in your prayers, devote some time each day to your Lord. Spend time with your family and do charitable work, fulfil your religious obligations and seek knowledge in your Faith. Your career, no matter how important it may be, must come after your religion and family. You will find that if you are able to maintain this balance, your work, studies and other responsibilities will find a way to work around your faith and Insha Allah you will succeed in them too.

A few things I’ve learnt to aid in better time management and pursuing a more Islamic way of life:

  • wake up early and pray Fajr
  • read Quran, exercise, study, etc, early in the morning – (stay up after Fajr)
  • stay focussed and set targets
  • make notes and use a diary
  • work hardest in the first half of the day
  • take breaks and pray on time
  • eat regularly, eat healthy
  • take time out to de-stress
  • skip the music – listen to Islamic lectures or nasheeds
  • avoid unnecessary distractions (facebook, twitter, aimless surfing) – there’s a time and place for this!
  • remember Allah and reflect upon his bounties (even the small ones)
  • when doing for others, make a sincere intention – sometimes the only difference between a random act and a spiritual act is the intention
  • make time for your family
  • avoid gossip
  • thank Allah for his provisions
  • read a book (Quran, Hadith, Islamic Stories, etc.) No good deed will go unnoticed
  • avoid excessive tv, movies, gaming
  • pray on time and preferably at the Mosque
  • renew your faith by visiting the Mosque daily
  • if you watch tv, don’t let it be the last thing you do before bed
  • make a sincere intention to wake up for Fajr
  • sleep early

I ask Allah to guide us and allow us to pursue an Islamic way of life. Its harder to achieve this in today’s secular environment but if we are successful, the reward will be greater… Insha Allah!

Muhammad al-Shareef has an inspiring lecture on time management which is available for download at http://www.kalamullah.com/muhammad-alshareef.html

I leave you with a quote by Imam Anwar al-Awlaki… “be mindful of Allah and Allah will be mindful of you”.

The farewell sermon…

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

The Hajj season is upon us and I believe every Muslim should reflect upon this sermon at least once year. It signifies the completion of our faith and contains numerous lessons from which we can benefit.

“Today I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor to you and have chosen for you Al-Islam as your religion.”

The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) delivered this sermon on the 9 Dhul-Hijjah in the valley of Mount `Arafat, during his final Hajj, known as the Farewell Hajj:

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O people, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether, after this year, I will ever be among you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present today.

O people, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take interest; therefore, all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all interest due to al-`Abbas ibn `Abdul-Muttalib shall henceforth be waived.

Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived, and the first such right I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi`ah ibn Al-Harith [a relative of the Prophet]. O mankind, the unbelievers indulge in tampering with the calendar in order to make permissible that which Allah forbade, and to forbid that which Allah has made permissible. With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these (holy months) are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumadah and Sha`ban.

O people, beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O people, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never commit adultery.

O people, listen to me in earnest. Worship Allah, say your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and give the share of Zakah in your wealth. Perform Hajj if you can afford to. 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 has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim and that Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim that belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O people, no prophet or messenger will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand my words that I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed Your message to Your people.

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The Sermon reiterates the basic belief in one God, establishes the Islamic rule of Law and promotes basic human rights, Economic Domestic Justice including equality and better treatment of women.

Lessons from the Sermon:

  • Prohibition of shedding innocent blood, and taking of wealth without right, which stresses Islam’s protection of souls.
  • Nullification of validity of actions of Jahiliyyah or Pre-Islamic Era.
  • Prohibition of taking Riba (usury and interest), which is an increase on the principal, whether small or large.
  • Admonition to fulfill and give women their rights, and to deal with them in goodness.
  • Seek guidance the Book of Allah, in which lies the honor of Muslims and their victory.
  • Testimony of the Companions that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) conveyed the message and discharged his trust.
  • Order to take rituals of Hajj and other rituals from the Prophet’s sayings and actions.
  • Subtle indication that the Prophet’s farewell would soon come.
  • Warning against fighting and killing among Muslims, which is disbelief in action, which does not take one out of the fold of Islam, as in his: “Cursing a Muslim is fusooq, and fighting him is kufr.”

This sermon addresses some of the major religious issues faced by Muslims today and is a perfect summary of our religion. It should serve as a reminder to Muslims and a source of guidance for mankind. I pray that we benefit from these words and are able to implement even the smallest change in our lives to live in accordance with the basic fundamentals of Islam.