Archive for January, 2009

The power of du’a (supplication).

Man, despite his pride, recognizes that fundamentally he is a weak and limited creature. At times of great despair and distress there is a deep-rooted primordial instinct in man to turn towards an omnipotent, all-hearing power who will help him. We call this power “God”, in Islam “Allah”. Examples of such times are if a man is drowning, or very close to death, or a loved one is sick and dying. Man, no matter how wealthy, successful, intelligent or proud he might be then realizes how powerless he is and turns to a greater power.

In Islam, praying as in the daily act of worship performed 5 times a day is called “salah”. The act of praying, as in supplicating to Allah and asking him for something is called “du’a“. However the act of asking the all-powerful one is something universal to all and usually done in times of great need.

According to Islam, Allah does not get tired of us turning to him, calling him for help. Humans however are the opposite. If we have a friend, no matter how close, they will eventually have some frustration if we constantly ask them for help.  Allah is the opposite, the more we ask him, the better. Du’a is an act of worship. It is an act which emanates from man’s realization that he is weak and limited and that the creator is not. Every time we turn towards him we are thus saying he is all powerful.

The Quran says: “And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer)!” ( Surah 40 Verse 60)

Anyone can turn to the creator and ask him in any language. However in Islam there are guidelines.

Best manner of du’a.

Islam tells us that the best way to do du’a is to raise your hands and to:

-Praise Allah and call him by his names in Arabic, i.e. “Ya Rahman” (Oh Merciful one) or “Ya Razzaq” (Oh provider)

-Ask for peace and prayers on his beloved prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

-To make the du’a three times. It is preferrable to do a du’a which the prophet himself (peace be upon him) did, but any du’a in any language is fine as long as it does not ask for something which is wrong.

– Then to finish the du’a by praising Allah and asking for peace and prayers on his prophet (peace be upon him) once again.

Best times for du’a

There are times or situations when du’a is more likely to be accepted or is stronger. These include

–  In the last third of the night, when pious Muslims often stay up engaged in prayer.

–  When one is a traveller.

– When one has been oppressed. The du’a of the oppresssed is very powerful, this is why in history many tyrants and mighty rulers have faced a humiliating end.

– When one is sick, or are visiting a sick person.

– After one has finished doing wudhu’ (ablutions to perform prayer).

– Between the time of the adhan (call to prayer) and the iqamah.

– When prostrating during prayer.

– Also du’a done in a group e.g behind an Imam after prayer is stronger than if it is done individually.

“Why is my du’a not answered?”

Du’a will only be accepted if a person’s income, the food he eats, and his clothing are not earned in a way which is against Islam. If a person sold drugs, which is against Islam, then his du’a would not be accepted.

Allah is the lord of the worlds, and the master of all. He is our master and we are his servants. He is not our servant and cannot be ordered by us. Du’a is not like going to a vending machine and putting in a coin and then getting a soft drink. This attitude is disrespectful to the lord of the worlds. Du’a requires humility and sincerity and at times can be likened to growing a plant. It will take time for the plant to come into full fruition, but we must be patient, water the plant and wait. If a person becomes impatient for his du’a to be accepted and even says “Allah does not grant my du’a” then his du’a will be rejected by Allah. If we are patient, and make du’a regularly and have trust in Allah and never doubt him and accept whatever his decision is, we will ultimately see the fruits of this and that du’a that we made will come to be, it will blossom as the trees do in spring.

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Allah may chose to:

1. Give us what we ask for.

2. Not give it to us, but give us something else – maybe that particular thing which we have asked for – instead in the next world.

3. Avert hardship or problems from us.

However there is no obligation upon the lord of the worlds to accept all du’as. For example if a man is abusive towards his wife, this is against the teachings of Islam which encourage tenderness and love between couples. Here are some sayings of the prophet, peace be upon him, related to this.

“Allah is not merciful to he who is not merciful to people “. 

“The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character, and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

(Hadiths – sayings of the prophet, peace be upon him, from Bukhari and Tirmihdi).

Allah does not love anyone being abused, the prophet informed us of an incident when a woman from the children of Israel who was a whore was thirsty and went to a well to drink. After quenching her thirst she saw a dog which was thirsty like her, seeing this she felt moved and climbed the well, put water in her shoe and then climbed back out and fed the dog. For this act, the prophet (peace be upon him) told us that this woman was given paradise by the lord of the worlds.

So if a man is abusive to others, cheats, commits sins, and steals and then turns towards Allah supplicating towards him, then Allah may reject his du’a due to his sins.

Making your du’a stronger.

We can make our du’a stronger by mentioning something which Allah loves. For example on a human level we can make a request to a friend stronger by saying things such as “Do you remember when I helped you?” or “I am your brother’s friend”. We can do a similar thing with Allah and in Arabic this is called tawassul.

The three universally accepted forms of tawassul in Islam (this is a deep and complex issue in Islamic jurispudence) are:

1. To ask Allah by his names and attributes.

So we can say “Ya Allah (Oh Allah), Ya Rahman, Ya Hakeem (Oh merciful one, Oh wise one) and then make our du’a.

We can also see this in our daily lives, if we address someone by his title or role then we will get a better response, for example instead of “Dear Leader, please help us” we could say “Dear Leader, you are the one who is the defender of this nation and its values, please help us”.

2. To ask someone more pious than us.

We can go to a Muslim whom we feel is a good person and closer to Allah than us. For example if someone was a weak Muslim and would do things which were wrong he could ask someone to make du’a for him. In our own daily lives we see that a person in authority would respond to the request of someone they were closer to, than us.

3. To mention your good deeds.

In our du’a we can say things such as “Oh Allah, I pray regularly, please accept my du’a.” or “Oh lord, by my fasting in Ramadan, accept my du’a”. Whether it be praying, fasting, even smiling at someone (which counts as a good deed in Islam), helping an old lady across the road and so on, the mention of a good deed makes our du’a far stronger, as it would do in our daily lives.

Reading the Quran.

The Quran is the most extraordinary book in the history of mankind. There is no other book which is held in as much reverence as it is. No other book memorized by heart by as many people as it has. Despite all the conflicts, differences between Muslims, this book has been preserved for 1400 years and is the same all across the world whether it be from Morocco or Indonesia. Years ago a man mentioned how the Muslims are like a man in a forest looking for his way out, whilst he has the map in his pocket. The Quran is such a map. One’s du’a can be made far stronger with the reading of the Quran. Aside from du’a however, the Quran should be read and recited anyway. The Quran is only in Arabic and no other language, everything else is merely an attempt to translate the meaning. After reading the Quran one can make du’a, and one can make one’s reading of the Quran a form of tawassul. The true nature of the Quran is not understood by many. It is not only a book for reading and contemplation but it is also akin to medicine or a perfume from which a sweet and fragrant odour emanates. The reading of the Quran in a house revives the house, and where there may have been conflict, bitterness and strife before, the fragrance of the Quran brings in happiness, peace and tranquility if recited regularly.

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The recitation of the Quran bring in blessings to a home as we were informed by the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) when he told us that reading the second chapter of the Quran, i.e. Al-Baqarah led to shaytan being absent from the house for three days.

“Do not turn your houses into graves. Shaytan is barred from any home where Surah Baqarah has been recited.”

(Muslim).

So just as putting flowers or perfumes in our houses bring in a pleasant smell, the recitation of the Quran can be like an air freshener which removes or decreases the foul smell of sins. Every sin is something dirty and unclean. A child being rude to his parent, a woman not being respected by her husband, constant arguments and fights are all forms of sin and are all dirt. The way to end them if one is to turn to Allah and to do good deeds including the recitation of the Quran, especially Suratul-Baqarah (the 2nd “surah” i.e. chapter of the Quan).

The Quran is like a treasure full of precious jewels. There is a saying in the English language that “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. The Quran is full of diamonds and other jewels and is far superior. It can be the best friend of those who recite it in times of need. Just as precious stones have their own special qualities and properties, so do the surahs (chapters) of the Quran.

mc-oval-stoneset-ring

Fatiha

First Surah of the Quran, if recited properly can cure any sickness.

I myself read this surah once for a problem and soon after someone showed me a cure for a problem I had.

Yusuf

12th chapter of the Quran which is about the life of the prophet Yusuf  (Joseph, peace be upon him) and his trials and tribulations. It gives its reader happiness. It was revealed in what is called in Islam, “The Year of Sadness”, when the prophet (peace be upon him) saw both his wife and uncle, a supporter of the oppressed Muslims, die. I read it once whilst going through some problems and after a day or two inexplicably felt rejuvenated and happier.

Ya Seen

36th Surah of the Quran and can be used when there is some affliction or trouble which has befallen you. I have read it and it caused my problems to either lessen greatly or to be removed entirely.

Waqiah

56th Surah of the Quran. The prophet (peace be upon him) said of it:

“The one who reads Surah Waqiah at night will not face poverty.” 

(Bayhaqi)

I read it after a contract of mine had finished and I was looking for work. A few hours later I recieved a phone call regarding employment.

Ayatul Kursi (The verse of the Throne).

The Quran is the greatest book in the world, and ayatul kursi (ayah = verse, kursi = throne) is the greatest verse in the entire Quran and has huge power.

Ayatul Kursi, ‘The Verse of the Throne’.

Here is the transliteration: Allahu la ilaha illa Huwa, Al-Hayyul-Qaiyum La ta’khudhuhu sinatun wa la nawm, lahu ma fis-samawati wa ma fil-‘ard Man dhal-ladhi yashfa’u ‘indahu illa bi-idhnihi Ya’lamu ma bayna aidihim wa ma khalfahum, wa la yuheetuna bi shai’in-min ‘ilmihi illa bima sha’a Wasi’a kursiyuhus-samawati wal ard, wa la ya’uduhu hifdhuhuma Wa Huwal ‘Aliyul-Adheem

Translation:

 There is no god but He,
The Living, the Everlasting,
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep,
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there that can intercede with His, except by His leave?
He knows what lies before them and what is after them,
And they comprehend not anything of His Knowledge save as He wills.
His throne comprises the heavens and the earth,
The preserving of them fatigues Him not,
And He is the All-High, All-Glorious.

I have read this verse in times of need and Allah helped me on many occassions, for which I thank him.

Verse 9, Surah Yasin.

The transliteration is:

Waja’alnaa mim bayni aydeehim saddan wamin khalfihim saddan faaghshaynaahum fahum laa yubsiroon.

Translation: And We have put a bar in front of them and a bar behind them, and further, We have covered them up; so that they cannot see.

This verse is recited and then one blows into their hands and wipes over themselves. It makes others not notice you or oblivious to your presence. It is often used by practising Muslims with beards or hijab who encounter prejudice, hostile looks and so on.

 Taha

20th Surah of the Quran. Frequent reading of this, for example tens of times, with du’a can help one find a marriage partner for yourself or for members of your family.

To conclude du’a (supplication) universal to all human cultures across time and space and stems from a very fundamental awareness of man’s weak nature, his impotency and that there is one who unlike man is all-powerful. In our lives we are constantly asking and requesting for things, however the fundamental giver of all things is Allah. Whereas if we ask friends for something, if done frequently, then it can lead to annoyance. You are asking your friend to divert their own time and effort onto helping you, whilst your friend is busy with other things. Therefore we are accustomed to not asking too much. However with Allah it is different, every time we ask him something this counts as an act of worship, and the more we ask him, even if it be something as supposedly “trivial” as a shoelace (as mentioned in a statement of the prophet peace be upon him). Du’a has been described by the prophet (peace be upon him) as the weapon of the believer. With it he or she is able to overcome difficulties and hardships that he or she faces in this life, and this life is fundamentally a test. Du’a is something neglected by many Muslims and so is the reading of the Quran. The pious Muslims of the past would read around 20 pages of the Quran every day. For many of us, if we are new Muslims, or do not know Arabic this is difficult. However it should be done gradually, even if it’s just reading two verses every day for a year. With increased reading of the Quran and du’a we will see blessings flow into our lives and not just ourselves, but if many of us do this and pray for other suffering people we will see the state of the Muslim world and the world in general improve.

– Faatih.

Addition: Many have sent me emails to my email which is faatih1@hotmail.co.uk to ask me for du’as (prayers) that can help them with their problems. I am more than happy to give them advice. However they must also understand that one thing which will make them very successful and help them with their du’as and the alleviation of their problems is to love the one loved by Allah, whose love is truly majestic, powerful and incomparable to any other form of love, that is the messenger of Allah, Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم.

Not only to love him but to encourage others to love him.

So please read and then spread this blog by email, facebook, twitter etc: loving the prophet Muhammad, part I

Also this: Prayers upon the prophet.

Thank you and may Allah give you and your family goodness and blessings.

– Faatih, 2015.

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“Religion is the cause of all wars.”

“Religion is the cause of all wars” is an often repeated phrase and is the subject of this article. The people who assert this are of course secular anti-religious people. This idea therefore comes from a wider viewpoint which considers religion as something inherently irrational. I discussed this a while earlier in a previous article where I said the following:

“This in a very simplified form is the way many atheistic or secular people view religion. Something almost hallucinatory and delusional. For them all that exists is the tangible, the material, that which we can see and touch. I will call this position “Materialism” or “Naturalism”. Some people just grow up with an inherit disposition to rejecting anything beyond the material (5 senses) world and some of these people become scientists and carry this prejudice into the field of science.” 

https://faatih.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/why-do-many-scientists-disbelieve-in-god/

Religion therefore is something irrational in the minds of such people, and thus any belief or action which emanates from religion is itself irrational. Believers are in a state of delusion and thus their actions are likewise deluded. However the inconsistency with this opinion is that often they view violence for secular purposes as being perfectly justifiable and “more rational”. I will come back to this later, however first let’s look at the statement “religion is the cause of all wars” in more detail.

There have been countless wars in history and we cannot look at them all to see if they were based on religion but however we can look at major wars, or major powers which engaged in a lot of war.

The British Empire.

The British Empire is the biggest empire the world has ever seen, unrivalled by any other in terms of sheer size and also in terms of the many parts of the world it covered. The world today is still seeing the legacy of this huge empire in many ways, from the dominance of the English language, to the administrative systems it left behind in countries such as India with its population of over 1 billion people. The British Empire did not conquer territory for the sake of religion but for economic and political reasons.

The American war of independence where the 13 colonies of what is now America fought the British government was not about religion but about what the settlers in America viewed as being able to govern themselves as they wished to. One of the key phrases of the independence movement was “no taxation without representation”. 

The British did not conquer India, the “jewel in their crown”, for religious reasons but for economic ones. One of the most bloody parts of British rule in India has been described by British writer George Monbiot.

“In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis tells the story of famines that killed between 12 and 29 million Indians. These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. When an El Niño drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England” [1]

This policy resulted in the deaths of millions of people but had nothing to do with religion, but just sheer human greed.

Another major war during the British Empire was the Boer war, noticeable, since that is the first time concentration camps were created.

Boer guerilla fighters. The Boers were white settlers in Africa of Dutch origin who fought the British.

The Boer war was about a variety of different things including about control of valuable territory which contained valuable mineral resources.

The British Empire was not a Christian fundamentalist empire and never sought to forcibly impose Christianity, so its wars in Africa, the Carribean, America, Asia and Australia had nothing to do with religion but to do with conquering new land, economic reasons and geo-politics.

The Mongols

The British Empire was the biggest empire in history and the Mongol Empire came second. However it is the biggest contiguous land Empire stretching from the yellow sea in China to eastern Europe.

The Mongols were bloody and brutal and massacred whole cities. They sacked the capital of the Abbasid Empire, Baghdad in 1256 destroying huge numbers of books on many different subjects thus causing the world to be deprived of valuable works from an Arab civilization which not only transmitted the works of ancient Greece to Europe but had many great intellectual, engineering and literary accomplishments of its own. Centuries after the Mongol conquest, Iraq was still recovering ecologically due to the destruction they had bought.

The Mongols were a nomadic people who loved war and conquest and fought not for religion but to extend their power.

Alexander and Rome.

Alexander of Macedonia, often called “the Great” is also one of history’s great warriors. His conquest of a huge territory comprising many lands of different races, languages and cultures was not inspired by religion but by the desire to conquer to realize personal greatness. Many of the rulers of the ancient period conquered, merely for the sake of conquering. The greater the territory they controlled and the more people, the greater they themselves were. This was a case of territorial and personal self-aggrandizment often driven by a masculine need to increase the personal glory of a certain ruler, to show his virility. A ruler in some cultures of the ancient past who was not a warrior, was not a true man and in some cases was seen as a weakling not fit to rule.

Actor starring as Alexander.

Whereas Alexander conquered south-west Asia and Egypt, the Romans conquered Europe and the mediterranean. They have left a huge impact on western civilization and their Empire lasted for centuries. They did not conquer their Italian neighbours the Etruscans, or their rivals the Carthiginians and conquer France, Spain, England and other countries due to religion but once again for political and economic reasons. When the Romans conquered Carthage, which was then their rival for supremacy of the mediterranean, they burnt every single house and building in the city and killed and enslaved all its people, this was not done since they felt that their gods would told them to, but to prevent Carthage from once again ever being a threat to the Roman domination in the Mediterranean.

If we look at the wars of the ancient past, and also of the past millenia we can see that wars were not carried out primarily for religious reasons whether it was the native American Indian tribes that fought each other prior to the arrival of Europeans, or the Ming, Tang and other dynasties of China, or wars carried out by the Bantu-speaking kingdoms of Africa.

Let us now look at some more recent examples of war.

The first and second world war.

These wars took place due to tensions between the major European powers. Religion was not the reason, but the interests of different nation-states. When the Japanese bombed pearl Harbour they did not do so because of Shintoism but since they saw the US as a threat. When the US dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they did not do so because they thought the bible taught them to do so.

The atom bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

The superpower conflict that followed the defeat of Nazi Germany, between the US and USSR, called “The Cold War” was not about religion either but about two competing secular ideologies, capitalism and communism. One way the cold war manifested itself was in the Vietnam war.

The Vietnam War.

This war saw a communist North Vietnam seeking to take control of the whole of the country with western powers such as the US opposed to it. It has become embedded in the collective psyche here in the west and especially in the US since it happened during the 1960s that great period of cultural change. Many young people who may not have been that politicized went out on the streets rallied to action by what they felt was an unjust and pointless war which was causing many young Americans to die, as well as the suffering of the Vietnamese. In this war agent orange which has horrific results such as deformities to newly born babies was used.  Laos and Cambodia were also bombed during this war.

“From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance over Laos during 580,000 bombing missions – equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years.” [2]

One of the key men responsible for this appalling savagery was war criminal Henry Kissinger. Kissinger never ordered such bombings due to any religious belief but out of a desire to thwart communism.

War criminal, Henry Kissinger.

Communists also murdered many people through out the world including in Stalin’s USSR which also saw things such as mass deportation of whole ethnic groups and the creation of gulags in Siberia, as well as the 1 million Cambodians killed by the atheist Khymer rouge.

Children who were victims of the Khmer rouge communists. Estimates of the number of people killed by the Khmer Rouge range from 850,000 to 2 million.

Even those conflicts which are ostensibly based on religion are often in reality about different things. There are of course conflicts which have been caused due to religion, abuse of religion and so forth. However they do not compare to the amount of wars and lives lost due to secular reasons. The biggest example is of course the greatest bloodbath that humanity has ever witnessed, the second world war, which saw the death of over 50 million people. The Nazi party was not a religious organization, and nor were any of its major enemies such as the US, UK or the Soviet Union, religion-based states, Nazism is a race-based ideology believing in the superiority of the Nordic race.

The world since time immemorial has seen countless wars in every part of the world. However wars are just one form of human conflict and violence. Violence can manifest itself in the form of a man abusing his wife, or football fans fighting each other. At such a level no one argues that it is caused by religion. Divorces do not occur due to religion but because two people cannot live with each other. This maybe a myriad of different reasons, such is the case when two nations or states cannot resolve their differences and resort to war. The phrase “religion is the cause of all wars” is clearly false as can be seen by any objective study of war.

The irony is that the same type of people who say this false claim are also sometimes the same ones who regurgitate what Karl Marx said about religion, that is “religion is the opium of the masses”. There is a huge contradiction here.

1. “Religion is the cause of all wars” – it causes people to rise up and fight.

2. “Religion is the opium of the masses” – it causes people to sit down and be quiet.

As we can say they are contradictory.

Marx said his famous phrase in a certain context. The vast majority of people in Europe at the time were peasants, or in Russia, serfs were they basically slaves to a landowning elite. The Church did not call for the restructuring of this social system but legitimized and perpetuated it. It called for obedience to the monarch or the status quo and said that hardship in this world would be compensated by happiness in the next. This statement of Marx’s came from a certain reality which existed. However this labelling of religion as causing people to be violent on the one hand, and then labelling it to be the cause of people to be submissive and quiet on the other is a reflection of the inherent prejudice against religion held by certain people. This prejudice is so strong that they utter commonly regurgitated phrases such as “religion is the cause of all wars” in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary.

There is a certain annoyance that people believe in anything beyond the material, at some times even an anger at such “irrational” beliefs. People believing in the existence of things beyond the material world are “stupid”, and in a form of insanity. Thus the supposedly rational and intellectually superior atheist or agnostic due to his hatred of religion say it is the cause of all wars, ignoring the fact that Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Alexander, Hitler, Stalin Kissinger never killed due to religion but for secular reasons.

We can point to religious extremists who wage war in the name of religion. Their existence is undeniable.

However the reason why people kill, whether it be on a personal level or on a collective level is primarily nothing to do with belief in the divine.

Columbine killers, who massacred individuals.

Hitler, who massacred whole nations.

The belief in a creator, the belief in the divine, and that the world is not merely confined to the material, pensensory (5 senses) world does not automatically cause one to be violent or to wage war. Religions such as Islam or Christianity as much as some may claim to the opposite with misuse of certain verses out of context do not call for killing for no reason. The desire to vilify religion as something malevolent by those who merely belief in the material, that which is tangible  is fruitless as belief in the creator and in the soul and in the hereafter will always exist. Religion can not be potrayed as a wholly malevolent phenomenon when it has been the cause of much good in the world, be it from those who restrain themselves from doing things they wouldn’t normally do, causing racial barriers to come down for the sake of a trans-racial brotherhood, those who go out and help others inspired by a message of abandoning greed and personal self-fulfillment and changing the lives of others.

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– Faatih.

 

1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/dec/27/eu.turkey

2.http://www.legaciesofwar.org/traveling-exhibit/history/history-bombing-laos



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