Center of the Milky Way galaxy, as seen from Cherry Springs State Park, one of the darkest places in the USA.
By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
The last ten nights of Ramadan are here. This is an amazing, powerful, unique time. These days are the most spiritually charged days of the year, more full of power than a great star or the mighty ocean. And one of these days is Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, equal to a thousand months. Every prayer is magnified, every good deed is multiplied exponentially.
What to say during Laylat al-Qadr? It is recommended to supplicate a lot during this night.
It is reported from ‘Aisha (ra), that she said: “O Messenger of ALLAH! What if I knew which night Lailatul-Qadr was, then what should I say in it?” The Prophet (PBUH) said.- “Say.-
(Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee.)
“O ALLAH You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.”
[reported by at-Tirmithi]
I also wish to remind everyone that all difficulties pass, all troubles pass. Hard times don’t last, but strong people do! Worry if you must, but do not fear. Allah is with you. He is The Forgiving, The Merciful, The Loving, and the Giver of Peace. Call upon Him, especially during this blessed time.
As one of my readers said, call upon Allah using His beautiful Names…
Ar-Rahman – All Compassionate
Ar-Raheem – Most Merciful
Al-Wadood – All Loving
You have no idea how much your worship at this special time is valued. More than any of us can count. SubhanAllah.
By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com
Someone posted this question recently on an Islamic forum that I belong to:
There all kinds of people coming to Islam. There are some that even convert in huge masses (20+ people). It’s the fastest growing religion in the UK and USA. Just visit Youtube. How is that a religion that is put down in the media constantly is the most popular choice today?
Let me put it in marketing terms to start. I don’t want to cheapen our deen which is the most beautiful way of life, ordained for humanity by Allah. But most people in this consumer culture of the West understand marketing concepts.
In the marketing industry they say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. That may or may not be true, but I do believe it is true when you have a quality product. Islam is a quality product.
I have heard of many people who initially wanted to learn more about this “terrible religion” that gets so much bad press. So they picked up a book on Islam or a copy of the Quran, began reading, and SubhanAllah, were guided to the truth.
That’s the way of it.
Throwing a rubber ball at the ground
This deen is a clarion call, it is the sunlight through the clouds. It is manifest truth. As much as the enemies of Allah try to badmouth Islam, they only serve its cause. As Allah says (paraphrasing) in the Quran, they desired to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will complete His light, though the disbelievers may detest it.
Someone once said to me that those who try to damage Islam are like someone throwing a rubber ball down on the ground. The harder they throw it, trying to smash it, the higher it bounces back in the air.
When I say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, that doesn’t mean that I am happy about things like terrorist attacks, “honor killings”, female genital mutilation and other bad actions that bring bad publicity to Islam. I despise those acts and I utterly condemn them, not only because they damage the image of Islam and make life harder for Muslims, but because they are evil in themselves, and they bring suffering to innocent people.
No, when I say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I am thinking more of the lies that are told about Islam. Hateful preachers who insult the Prophet (peace be upon him); or the often-made false claim that Islam was spread by the sword; or the bigoted epithets (like “Islamofascists”) that are used to try to discredit Islam in the eyes of the public. In the end, all these lies will fail, because truth is clear from falsehood.
(8) They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.
(9) It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.
(Umm Muhammad translation)
The enemies of Islam think that Allah’s light is like a candle that can be blown out with the breath from their mouths, by propagating false rumors and lies about this deen. They might as well try to blow out the light of the sun. Allah’s light is far more powerful even than that.
Quran is a light
“O humankind, there has come to you a conclusive proof from your Lord, and We have sent down to you a clear light.” (Quran 4:174)
Allah has manifested His light in the revelation of the Quran. It is an eternal book, protected by Allah, unchanged, shedding light like a lamp that never runs dry. It illuminates the souls of those who read it and practice it, and so light spreads in the world, purifying it.
That’s why the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “The best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.” [Al-Bukhaari] Because the Quran is the source of guidance and a light, and by spreading it we ensure the victory of Islam over oppression, we perpetuate Truth in the world, and we offer guidance to the lost.
The Quran is also a source of internal peace. Recitation and contemplation of the Quran soothes the heart and carries away the stresses of life, and it brings one closer to Allah. That’s why the Prophet (pbuh) said, “No people assemble in one of the houses of Allah, and recite and study the Book of Allah, except that tranquility prevails over them, mercy encompasses them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes a mention of them in the presence of those near Him.” [Muslim]
So it’s not surprising when you hear stories from people who were non-Muslims; became curious about Islam due to the constant fear-mongering in the media; decided to pick up a Quran and check it out for themselves; and found themselves moved, and their hearts touched, so that they accepted Islam. It’s a very common story.
Trust in Allah
I started out by answering the question, “How does Islam continue to grow in the West in spite of all the negative press and lies?” Now I want to add a final message for my Muslim readers: Don’t despair when you see the forces of falsehood arrayed in all their power against Islam. When you read about Muslims being oppressed in Palestine, Chechnya, East Turkestan (a Muslim province of China) and so many other places, you should feel pain and sympathy for your brothers and sisters, but don’t let your heart be filled with rage or hatred.
Don’t despair! Hatred and despair are the opposites of faith; they lead to corruption and are the fuel that drives evils like terrorism, where people cast aside the principles of their religion, and allow themselves to be seduced into blind violence, justifying it to themselves because they are so angry.
Trust that Allah will perfect His light. Do your part to serve the cause of Islam (that is key!), and then trust that Allah will manifest the Truth over all, no matter who stands against it. Trust also that Allah will guide you, and bring you into the light, and reward you in this life and the next.
In these next two verses there is a double message, one for the People of the Book (the Christians and the Jews), calling them to the light that Allah has revealed; and one to the believers, calling on them to “pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace…”, in other words to seek Allah’s pleasure through compassionate and righteous action on the paths of peace.
“O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book; By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.” (Quran 5:15-16)
Bogor Botanic Gardens lily pond
By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com
“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” – Arab proverb
A book in your pocket is like a secret treasure. It is a magical means of transportation, a source of knowledge, a historical record, and a treasure chest containing the knowledge of human minds and hearts, or in the case of the Quran, the message of Allah to humanity.
You can take the book out of your pocket and lose yourself in it, forgetting about all the worries of the world, just as you can do in a beautiful garden.
Fozia, a Muslim sister from the UK, points out that a book helps one develop through acquiring knowledge, as a garden blossoms through the growth of its flowers and creatures…
Making the Impossible Possible
Indeed, to carry a garden in one’s pocket is impossible, but that’s the thing about books, they make the impossible possible. A family that has been stuck in poverty for generations can break that cycle by sending one child to higher education. Someone who comes from the most desperate circumstances can achieve the seemingly impossible and become a doctor, engineer, or even President, all through the power of education. The power of books.
That reminds me of a quote by Cesar Chavez, the famous campaigner for farm workers’ rights, who is now deceased. He said,
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”
This process of social change that he describes starts with a book. It starts with education. The ultimate Book is the Quran, and it is a world-changing book. It brings light where there was darkness, and changes human beings from the inside out.
The First Revelation of the Quran
Does anyone need proof that the processes of personal growth and social change both start with books? Consider the first revealed verses of the Quran itself, in Surah 96, Al-‘Alaq:
1. Read in the name of your Lord Who created.
2. He created humankind from a clot.
3. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable,
4. Who taught (to write) with the pen
5. Taught the human being what he knew not.
The moment of the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a moment of immense significance for all humanity, possibly the most significant moment in human history. It follows that the message is one of great significance as well.
What is this message of great significance, these first few profound and powerful words?
Read, and write, and do it in the name of Allah.
Allah exalted and honored human beings by giving us knowledge, the capacity to acquire more knowledge, and the tools to record and share our knowledge, whether verbally or in print. He commanded us to make use of these tools, and to do it in Allah’s name so that our motives and methods remain pure, and so that the results will be beneficial to humanity and not destructive or oppressive.
We are supposed to use our knowledge to create vaccines for diseases, not to create deadly viruses for biological warfare. We should use nuclear power to generate clean energy, not to design bombs that can destroy nations. We must use robotic technologies to create artificial limbs for victims of war or accidents, or to explore the depths of the sea, or to clear old minefields without loss of life, or to rescue miners trapped deep underground… not to build hunter-killer drones that destroy innocent human lives while the operator moves a joystick a thousand miles away.
Knowledge must be employed “in the name of your Lord Who created,” not in the name of greed or vengeance.
This is especially important today, when fantastically powerful technologies are being developed every day. Supercomputers, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, cloning, quantum physics… If these technologies are not tempered with faith and wisdom, humanity could unleash horrors on the world that will make previous wars and genocides look like a bad case of the measles (no disrespect intended to victims of past conflicts).
A New Course for the World
The Quran was also a message that the time had come to change humanity’s meandering course. Human beings all over the world had been creating societies, customs and laws based on superstition. Some societies were based on artificial castes. Others were based on worship of human beings, or worship of the dead, or cult-like religions, or collections of taboos and myths.
The revelation of the Quran signified the beginning of a new course for the world, a lighted path based on scholarship, science and the systematization of knowledge. The engines of this new period would be literacy, scholarship, Tawheed (Oneness of God), and righteousness.
Human history, with its long and bleak stretches of ignorance and suffering, like a vast desert with only a few small oases, was given a permanent garden in the form of a book: the Quran.
A book is a garden in your pocket. It’s natural, inspiring, and life-changing. It’s your own personal haven. But only if you read it and let it into your heart.