A SMILE JUST WON’T CUT IT ANYMORE: BREAKING DOWN WALLS, BUILDING BRIDGES

So many of us are understandably upset about the rhetoric of Trump – trying to build a wall, trying to divide us. But a thought that occurred to me recently was, haven’t I been putting up walls all along?

One of the biggest regrets I have now in my mid-20s, is not making enough, nor keeping in touch with many of my non-Muslim friends I made throughout school. If I were to count how many of them I still keep in contact with (if saying “Congrats” and “Mazel Tov” for their marriage and new baby counts as being in contact) then I’d be able to count them all on my fingers, of one hand… make that half of one hand. Considering I’ve lived most of my life in a country where 99% of the population is non-Muslim, that number is downright pathetic. The truth is, I’ve been putting up walls for much of my life, living in my comfortable Muslim bubble. But the situation today calls for us as Muslims in America to get out of our comfort zones, break down those walls, and start building bridges.

I WAS A WALL BUILDER

I wasn’t always building walls. When I was younger, I had plenty of friends of all colors and religions. I was invited to Catherine’s house, Rebecca’s birthday party, I went with Nicole to the museum, and hung out with Rinum at lunch. Jessica even reminded my friend Asma and I to pray one day after school, knowing we hadn’t performed Dhuhr prayer yet. We were all great buddies, and I appreciated their friendship a lot.

Then around the end of high school and into my university years, a shift happened that I didn’t quite notice at the time… I started putting up walls. No longer did my friends list contain Christine, Anna, and Linda… but rather Aisha, Hafsa, and Mariam. I found a calling in the MSA (Muslim Students Association) and surrounded myself entirely with other Muslim students. I was comfortable, these were my people, we were all in this struggle together. No doubt, it was great for my Iman, however it took a hit to my da’wah. I started to think that I couldn’t relate to non-Muslim much anymore, and I stopped making an effort.

By the time I graduated university, my interactions with non-Muslims was limited to smiling at the clerk in the check-out line, and I’ve got to admit I was pretty proud of myself for it – I thought I was fulfilling my da’wah responsibilities.

But boy, was I wrong. After the recent election results came in, I’ve been smacked into reality. No, it was not enough. Just smiling at the clerk at the grocery store, or saying “Have a nice day” to the barista at Starbucks is no longer enough as Muslims living amongst non-Muslims in America.

A TIME Magazine poll in 2010 found that more than 4 out of every 10 Americans hold an unfavorable view of Muslims. What’s more important is that 60% of Americans in the poll said they’d never even met a Muslim before. That’s on us.

By no means am I saying to give up your Muslim circles or put yourself in a place that compromises your faith. What I’m saying is that if we’ve chosen to live as a minority in a non-Muslim land, isolating ourselves and turning inward is not going to work out as a long term plan. It’s actually arguably incumbent upon us to mix and socialize with the general population, to show them the reality of Islam, the humanity of Muslims. Think about the countless number of revert stories that begin with, “I had a Muslim friend…”

Perhaps if more Americans actually met a Muslim, not just for a few seconds in the store or at school, but actually sat down, talked with them, built a relationship with them – then perhaps they wouldn’t see all Muslims in as much of an unfavorable light. Perhaps the next time they hear someone bad-mouthing Muslims, they’ll say, “Well I have a Muslim friend, and she isn’t like what the media has made them out to be.”

WE HAVE TO BUILD BRIDGES

We’ve been building walls for years, and now it’s time to build bridges. Bridges are in no way simple to build. You’re taking two separate entities, and putting in time and effort to create a link between them. Building bridges will require us to be brave, creative, and proactive in reaching out and building meaningful relationships with those outside of our faith. The time has expired for just smiles, we have to follow up our smiles with words, and follow up our words with action.

Unfortunately, there is a huge misconception held by both non-Muslims and Muslims alike that Islam preaches hatred and enmity towards all non-Muslims. This could not be farther from the truth, and the life of Muhammad attests to that.

He was kind and compassionate to all he met, including non-Muslims. He would visit non-Muslims when they were ill, give them counsel when they sought it. He helped a non-Muslim woman with her heavy load even though she openly talked ill of his religion. When a funeral procession of a Jewish man was passing by, he stood up out of respect. He called upon us to be kind to our neighbors, whether Muslim or not. He stressed this so much to the point that Abdullah ibn Umar, after slaughtering a sheep, asked his servant “Did you give some meat to our Jewish neighbor? For I heard the Prophetsay, “‘Jibreel kept on enjoining the good treatment of neighbors to the extent that I thought he would include neighbors as heirs.’” (Bukhari And Muslim)

Not only was he kind to others, he stood up for their rights. In his youth, the Prophetparticipated in Hilf ul-Fudhul, a pact amongst many of the Makkans that fought to uphold the rights of anyone who was oppressed, regardless of race, religion, or origin. Even after prophethood, he praised the pact and said he would uphold it if he were ever summoned to.

As Muslims, we must take a lesson from the life of RasulAllah– that regardless of a person’s religion, race, or gender – we should be kind and respectful, and we should fight for the rights of all who are oppressed.


HOW TO BE A BRIDGE BUILDER

The Prophetwas a bridge builder, a compassionate human whose care for people of all faiths went beyond a smile. Building bridges is not going to be easy, but dire times calls for dire measures.

There are plenty of ways to start building bridges; here are some you could try out:

1) PARTICIPATE: Find something that sparks your interest and join the local group in your area. It could be the soccer club at your YMCA, the local Mommy and Baby play group at Gymboree, a book club at your library, the debate club at university, or the soup kitchen downtown. It’s likely that you’ll find you’re the only Muslim in these groups, which allows you an amazing opportunity to build relationships, clear up misconceptions, or even just have a down to earth conversation.

2) ENGAGE: At your workplace, don’t hide inside your shell. Engage with your co-workers, ask them about their families, talk about current events. Bring cookies on Eid and dates in Ramadan, everyone loves the guy who brings food! Perhaps it will spark a conversation about Eid, and the questions may keep rolling. After several years of working there, would you rather be the person that leaves without a single person knowing your name, or would you prefer to be that Muslim guy that was so nice, so funny, so generous, that broke down the stereotypes they previously had of Muslims?

3) BE NEIGHBORLY: Get to know your neighbors. A “good morning” on your way out of the driveway won’t cut it anymore. Invite them over to your home for tea, share Eid gifts with them, and when you make a surprisingly tasty dish, send some over to them. Your neighbor is the closest person to you (literally steps away), so there’s no excuse, you know exactly where they live – give their door a knock.

4) EDUCATE: Often we invite people of other faiths to our mosques for inter-faith events, which is great, but how about trying the reverse? We could contact every church, synagogue, and temple in our local area, and ask if they’d be interested in a Muslim guest speaker to come to their place of worship, offering to answer any and all questions, nothing is off-limits. Non-Muslims who voluntarily come to inter-faith events are often already quite open-minded. If we go to them, we’re hitting a larger audience, and allowing clarity for those who’ve always had questions, but never known a Muslim to ask.

Another great opportunity to educate is high school. In Texas, 9th grade World Geography class is typically where all students are introduced to the world religions. If we reach out to every geography teacher in the high schools in our locality, and offer to send a Muslim guest speaker to introduce Islam and answer any questions, perhaps we could change the minds of the next generation about what Islam really is.

5) TAKE ACTION: Get involved in organizations and movements that promote social justice. Islam stresses the importance of fighting against injustice of all forms, whether against Muslims or others. Don’t limit your support to Muslims who are facing injustices – support battered women who have nowhere to turn, march with African Americans who are being incarcerated because of the color of their skin, stand up for people with disabilities, protest alongside the Native Americans whose resources are being usurped. At the end of the day, we are all humans, and injustices done to anyone is a problem for all of us.

______

The wake up call has come- the time is now. Let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s start building.

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Questions

CAN A WOMAN STAY IN THE MASJID DURING MENSES?

CLICK HERE for video response.

The scholars’ 2 OPINIONS:
1) NO SHE CANNOT STAY IN THE MASJID UNLESS PASSING BY FOR A NEED (MAJORITY)

Evidences:
-The junub (sexually impure person after intercourse) is told explicitly in the Quran (Nisa: 43) not to stay in the masjid. And the junub, by analogy, is similar to the menstruating women because they both have an impurity that requires ghusl.
– Rasulullah (S) said to tell all women (menstruating and not) to come to the Eid prayer, but he said “let the menstruating women avoid the prayer place.”
-Rasulullah (S) in said, “The mosque is not permitted for menstruating women or anyone who is in a state of janabah (sexual impurity).”

2) YES SHE CAN STAY IN THE MASJID
(minority opinion held by Ibn Hazm, Al-Muzani a scholar of the Shafi’I madhab, Dawud Ad Dhaahiri, and modern day scholars such as Shaykh Yusuf al Qardawi and others)

Evidences:
-The hadeeth mentioned above (“The mosque is not permitted for menstruating women or anyone who is in a state of janabah (sexual impurity).”) was classed as da’eef (weak) by Shaykh al-Albaani as well as other scholars, so it is not permissible to make a ruling of fiqh based on a weak hadth.
– The ayah talking about the junub cannot be applied to the menstruating women because they are not analogous.
When Aisha is on her period during Hajj, Rasulullah (S) told her “do everything but don’t do tawaf of the kabah” which indicates she could stay at the Kabah and do worship, dua, etc.
-A slave woman who was freed set up a tent and lived in the masjid. And Umm Mihjaan (the caretaker of the masjid) would regularly take care of the masjid, and was not told to avoid it during menses.
-Therefore, these scholars are of the opinion that if it were really impermissible for a woman to not stay in the masjid, there would be an authentic direct hadith or ayah about it, as women around the messenger regularly had their period. The evidences brought by the majority are not strong enough to make it haram upon her to stay in the masjid.

CAN A WOMAN TRAVEL BY HERSELF?

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Did you know that the wives of the Prophet (S) traveled together WITHOUT a Mahram from Madinah to Makkah to make Hajj?

In short – there are two opinions on the matter. 1) No, she has to have a Mahram. 2) Yes, she can, as long as her safety can be ensured, and that she uses safe public transportation where others are around.

CAN I DO 6 SHAWAL BEFORE MAKE UP FASTS?

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Rasulullah (S) said “Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal will be (rewarded) as if he had fasted the entire year.” [Muslim]

So CAN I DO 6 SHAWAL BEFORE MY RAMADAN MAKE UP FASTS?

2 Opinions of the scholars:

1) NO, FINISH RAMADAN FASTS FIRST: Some scholars, amongst them the Hanbalis, say that one must finish the obligatory fasts of Ramadan first before you do any other voluntary fast, as obligations are more important than voluntary fasts and because the Hadith says “Whoever FASTS Ramadan and follows it up with 6 of shawal…” indicating one must finish all 29/30 of Ramadan first and foremost. Some of this group say, if one cannot do all of Ramadan make up fasts in Shawal, then they can complete their 6 Shawal in the next month (Dhul Qa’dah).

2) YES, YOU CAN DO 6 SHAWAL BEFORE RAMADAN MAKE UPS:
The other opinion of scholars (amongst them the Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki madhhab) is that the obligation of finishing off Ramadan is an obligation that is given an extended amount of time to fulfill. So since it is given a wide time of 11 months to finish the Ramadan fasts, it should NOT be limited to finishing them off in the very next month (shawal). Shawal is a limited amount of time, and Ramadan is given a long time, and therefore it would be permissible to fast 6 shawal first as long as the Ramadan fasts are accomplished throughout the next 11 months. This is from the mercy of Allah in giving us a long time to make up all the Ramadan fasts.

The precedence that we have in the seerah, is that of Aisha (R) who said that she regularly made up her Ramadan fasts in the month of Shaban, which is the month right before Ramadan. But it is also known that she did many voluntary fasts throughout the year. Scholars conclude that she thererfore saw it acceptable to do voluntary fasts, EVEN though the Ramadan make up fasts had not been completed yet.

It is also very difficult for women to make up Ramadan fasts (maybe 7-8 days) & finish shawal (another 6 days) within one month – because obviously her menses will come (maybe 7-8 days). That almost requires her to fast another WHOLE month minus her period just to accomplish Shawal. And that is definitely a great difficulty.

**Majority of scholars say you cannot combine Shawal and Ramadan make up fasts with one intention. They should be separate intentions and separate days.

NOTE: Know yourself! If you find it difficult to make up your fasts, PRIORITIZE Ramadan fasts over Shawal fasts, because an obligation is like a debt!

May Allah allow us all to fast the 6 of Shawal to get the reward of an entire year! Ameen

CAN WOMEN READ/TOUCH THE QURAN DURING MENSES?

CLICK HERE for video response.

RECITING QURAN – there are 2 opinions:
1) She CANNOT read/recite the Quran.
Most scholars prohibit women from touching the Quran based on the hadith “The menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of sexual impurity (janaabah) should not recite anything of the Qur’aan.”

2) She CAN read/recite the Quran.
This is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah, ibn Qayyim, Imam Malik, Bukhari, and one opinion of Imam Ash Shafii as well as many other scholars. Their argument is that the hadith mentioned above is Daeef (weak). In fact, the hadith is considered weak by almost all scholars of Hadith and therefore cannot be used in order to make a fiqh ruling. So women may recite or read the Quran, either from memory or from the Quran mushaf (book) itself.

TOUCHING THE QURAN

Scholars of fiqh agree that someone who is not purified CANNOT touch the Quran because Allah says in the Quran “None shall touch it except the purified” (Waqiah: 79). This includes the junub (sexually impure), the menstruating woman, as well as someone without wudhu.

So how can she read the Quran?
1) Use a barrier (glove, towel, pen) so that her hand doesn’t directly touch the Quran
2) Read it off of a tablet or phone as these are not considered the Quran, but rather devices that have the Quran in them.
3)Read a book which has Tafseer/translation in it – as that is not considered the Quran mushaf (book) either. Even if it contains the Arabic, if half is tafseer/translation, it is permissible for an impure person to hold.

WOMEN’S FASTING FAQ

CLICK HERE for video response.

Q:If you fast all day, and your period starts a few minutes before Maghrib, do you have to make that day up?
A: Yes.

Q: If I didn’t make up all my fasts before next Ramadan, what do I do?
A: If you had no excuse, you have to pay the penalty, Fidya as well as make them up later. (Fidya: feeding a poor person a full day’s meal per day that you missed).

Q: Do pregnant and breastfeeding women have to fast?
A: They are exempt if they fear for themselves or the baby. However, if they feel well enough, they can fast, after consulting a doctor.

Q: How do pregnant/nursing moms make up those fasting days if they have years of make ups?
A: There are multiple opinions of scholars:
1- make them all up over the years (majority opinion)
2- pay the fidya only (opinion of Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar (R))
3- pay the fidya AND make them up over the years

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Suhbah Institute

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One day, you will explode…

#PreMaritalTraining
Next session Nov 22nd – Suhbah.com/marriageprep
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1 month ago

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MashaAllah, over 35 couples made it out last night for Suhbah’s first Couples’ Night Out at ROIC! The masjid was filled to the brim with couples and families, eating together and working on nurturing their relationship. We are so excited to see you all again next month for Session 2!

Safiya
MashaAllah, over 35 couples made it out last night for our first Couples’ Night Out at ROIC! The masjid was filled to the brim with couples, eating together and working on nurturing their relationship. We talked about Marriage Expectations and Marriage Myths. Couples discussed with their spouse what expectations they had about marriage, why they had them, and whether they were realistic tangible expectations or not. Ended the night with a fun Marriage Game Show! We are SO excited to see you all again next month for Session 2. Stay tuned with Suhbah Institute for the next event.
-at ISGH River Oaks Islamic Center
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1 month ago

Suhbah Institute

Engaged and Married Couples, Come Out To:

*Monthly Couples’ Night Out!*
This Friday, October 25th, 7pm-10pm

Once-a month Potluck, Game Night, and Marital Enrichment Activities

*FREE Babysitting* will be provided!
Come out to have fun, socialize with other couples, and strengthen your relationship!

Imam Mahad and Ustadha Safiya (certified marriage enrichment facilitators)
will lead the *"Love and Marriage"* series utilizing engaging activities to nurture a couple’s relationship including: Languages of Love, Communication, Conflict Resolution and much more!

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Potluck Food Sign up: www.perfectpotluck.com/LXSP6951
RSVP: www.facebook.com/events/485987465290034/
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2 months ago

Suhbah Institute

New couple in Houston? Or you are from Houston but haven’t been to the masjid since getting married? Or since having kids? Feel like you are sorely missing a social circle? Want to nurture your relationship in a fun way? These reasons are EXACTLY why we have created the following FREE monthly class…

ROIC and Suhbah are excited to present:
Couples’ Night Out!
Starting Friday, October 25th, 7pm-10pm

Once-a month Potluck, Game Night, and Marital Enrichment Activities
For Engaged and Married Couples
Babysitting will be provided!
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Imam Mahad and Ustadha Safiya (certified marriage enrichment facilitators)
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About 24 Hours Ago

This past Ramadan, the community showed a lot of generosity and helped us raise enough funds to grant 15 scholarships for #SuhbahSeminary. http://bit.ly/2nG9rH2