Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bi Kidude (pre 1910s-2013)

Fatuma Binti Baraka aka Bi Kidude was born in Zanzibar sometime in the early 1900s. She was a famous Taarab singer in Tanzania, and one of the oldest remaining singers of her time.Her career started as a young child in the 1920s after being inspired by Siti Binti Saad, she started singing locally with popular cultural troupes and her career skyrocketed from there. Her band traveled to major towns in the coast and went as far west as the towns in Lake Tanganyika and lake Victoria.

She won a WOMEX award in 2005 for her contribution to music and culture in Zanzibar. She was nominated in 2011 for the Tanzania Music Awards and awarded Sports and Arts award in 2012 by the president of Tanzania.Her songs told stories and carried messages that taught life lessons and carried deep meaning, that some of them got remade by other famous artists today.She did sing throughout her life, up till her old age.Sadly, she passed away on April 17th 2013, she had no children of her own.

Many came to her funeral, starting from the President to the people from her hometown.

To Allah we belong and to him is our return. May Allah rest her soul and grant her Janna.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dawah in Mexico

I always feel converts have the toughest experience. You find yourself in situations where you are constantly in the defensive mode and it can get daunting. Below is a story of Nahela Morales-Essouiri a convert of Islam and her experience with her family and her native country Mexico. Interesting read, I nabbed this from Message International.

On June 26, 2012, as Nahela Morales-Essouiri stepped off her plane and she and her son Andrew walked through the arrival gates in Mexico City, she was unsure of what to expect from the place she once called home. Visiting her country for only the second time as a Muslim woman wearing hijab, Morales was on a special mission.
Visiting her country for only the second time as a Muslim woman wearing hijab, Morales was on a special mission.  She was unsure of what to expect from the place she once called home
Morales, like other immigrant Latinos in the US who have accepted Islam, was eager to introduce Islam to her family members in her native country and dispel common stereotypes and misconceptions. She had also volunteered to take essential Islamic materials and monetary donations to the emerging Muslim community in Mexico City. Her journey began at 3 a.m. in her home in Union City, New Jersey where she prepared to go to Newark Airport to board the 6 a.m. connecting flight to Detroit, Michigan which would take her to her destination.
Prior arrangements were made with the religious leader of the Islamic Center, Al-Hikmah, in Mexico City to pick up the seven extra bags Morales had packed with educational materials and clothing donated by Muslims in the US, especially for this trip. She met Imam Isa Rojas and his wife, Moserratt Pimentel, for the first time in the airport and presented them with the luggage loaded with the Islamic provisions. She was then greeted by family members who drove her to her grandparents’ home, where she would be staying during her three week vacation.
The following day after performing her morning prayer in her guest room, she recalls, “I sat there for a while crying, reflecting on every aspect of my journey the previous day… the struggle to get everything on and off a cart at the airport while people stared and still being able to smile at them as our Prophet told us, making sure that the missing luggage would get there on time, hearing people whispering, ‘wow, she speaks perfect Spanish,’ and the hundreds of stares… that was all super easy.”The hard part, according to Morales, was her family’s immediate response to her attire.“My grandmother saying she does not want to see me with ‘that thing on my head because they don’t wear that here’ the night before in front of the cousin who had physically attacked me a few years back because of the hijab was not .”
Her 103-year-old grandmother’s comment brought back bitter memories for Morales, who had received criticism four years prior for embracing the Muslim faith which obliged her to pray five times daily and don a headscarf and flowing garments to cover her shape. Although Morales was raised for years in her grandparents’ home in Cuernavaca, Morelos, she was now a stranger in her homeland because she is Muslim.
In 1979, Morales’ mother took the risk of entering the US illegally and alone, leaving her infant daughter behind in Mexico under her grandmother’s care, to search for a better way of life. When Morales was 5-years-old, she was finally reunited with her mother who had settled in Los Angeles, California. After the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed in 1986, the family was able to apply for amnesty and obtain US citizenship.
Even as a US citizen, however, Morales still felt like a foreigner. At the age of 12, she revisited the land that gave her the most memorable years of her life, and she continued to visit often thereafter, even after moving to the East Coast in 2001.
One of the highlights of the trip, according to Morales, was having the chance to pose side-by-side for a photo with a Mexican nun, a wonderful way to show that modesty is an integral part of both Catholicism and Islam
However, this most recent visit was unlike any other. “I promised myself that I was there with a purpose and was going to carry it out no matter what,” Morales said. “The purpose was to show my family that my faith was here to stay, not a trend or phase like some thought, but very strong, true, firm, and most importantly, that I was only there to convey the message, and not to convert anyone.” As an Administrative Assistant and National Spanish Dawah Coordinator for WhyIslam, a project of the Islamic Circle of North America, Morales was more than prepared.
One of her daily tasks in the WhyIslam office in Somerset, New Jersey, is to take calls from the  1-877-WhyIslam hotline, where people of all faiths in the US and Canada are encouraged to call to ask questions about Islam. The project advertises all over the nation, online, through mailings, and billboards inviting Americans to get answers. Such projects are unheard of, or perhaps only in the very beginning stages in Mexico; but Morales hopes to change that.
Last year, when Morales began to plan her trip to Mexico to visit relatives, she called the mosque near her home. During her conversation with Imam Rojas, she learned about the resources that were lacking at the Al-Hikmah Islamic Center. She then spoke with friends and colleagues and formed an online network called “United for Dawah in Mexico/Unidos para Dawah en México.” Along with WhyIslam, seven other Islamic organizations volunteered to assist Morales on her trip and provided numerous resources including Islamic clothing for the new converts in Mexico City, pamphlets and audio CD’s about Islam, Islamic children’s books, and toiletries.
This was an unprecedented collaboration of Islamic organizations in the US with the aim of assisting a growing Muslim community in Latin America. With Hispanic converts to Islam on the rise in the US since 9/11 —according to statistics in The American Mosque Report 2011 —many of these new converts, like Morales, are becoming involved in Islamic propagation and reaching out to their families back home.
Tanya Cantu, a Spanish convert and mother of four living in San Antonio, Texas, is the founder of Muslimahs Covered With Care (MCWC), one of the organizations which joined “United for Dawah in Mexico.” MCWC specializes in providing Muslim converts around the world with modest attire. They provide monetary and clothing donations and have distributors in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Through MCWC, Cantu wishes to reach out to new converts to comfort them during a time, she knows, they are at their most vulnerable. She relates, “When I converted to Islam from Catholicism, my family accused me of rejecting our culture because of their misconceptions about Islam.” Cantu remembers receiving her first Islamic dress from a Muslim friend after her conversion in June 2006, during the month of Ramadan, a gesture which inspired her work.
After hearing about Morales’ trip to Mexico, she was immediately on board, “We have been working together on a few projects and early this year, Sister Nahela shared with me the news about going to Mexico to visit her family. We discussed her huge desire to provide the Masjid Centro Al-Hikmah with much needed items. This was one of our many goals; to visit remote countries where the demand is high. It was a great opportunity for MCWC to reach out and assist the Muslim women in Mexico.”
Some of the other organizations that contributed material were Islam in Spanish, Hablamos Islam Niños (We Speak Islam, Kids), Radio Islámico (Islamic Radio), and NHIEC, who raised $1000 for the Hikmah Center and presented them with a plaque commemorating their dawah efforts in Mexico.
In addition to bringing the donations and Islamic educational materials for the Islamic Center, Morales spent time with Imam Isa Rojas and community members, offered the female worshippers classes on Islamic hygiene, provided advice to the Muslim women on various issues, and participated in an educational expo in the capital to diffuse negative stereotypes about Islam. Morales also encouraged the members of the mosque to set up an outreach committee. She felt her involvement within the safe haven of the small Mexican Islamic community was successful, but dealing with her own family was the bigger challenge.
Eventually, however, during her three week stay, things began to change. Her uncle surprised her when he confessed that he had purchased a Quran weeks before her visit, and other relatives began asking her about Islam.“Within a few days of my stay, I felt everyone was more at ease and questions began to flow from every direction. The questions never stopped or maybe it felt that way because I was always stuck in a conversation to clear up as many misconceptions as they had.” The cousin who had insulted her a few years previously and ripped off her hijab, now bought her some scarves as gifts. And when her 8-year-old niece tried Morales’ head covering on out of curiosity, family members smiled and said she “looked beautiful.”
The opportunities to talk about Islam did not stop at her family’s home. While sight-seeing in Mexico, Morales was also approached by strangers who wanted to learn about Islam. “I did notice when I flashed a huge smile, the women’s faces would light up and they would admire my attire by pointing at it or they would come to me and in their limited English they would tell me ‘muy beautiful’ .” She carried WhyIslam brochures and educational Islamic CD’s in Spanish to hand out to anyone who was curious. One of the highlights of the trip, according to Morales, was having the chance to pose side-by-side for a photo with a Mexican nun, a wonderful way to show that modesty is an integral part of both Catholicism and Islam. The photo went viral after Morales posted it on Facebook and she hopes that it will serve as a reminder of what Muslims and Latinos have in common.
Since returning to the US, Morales continues to collaborate with the community in Mexico and Islamic organizations like MCWC, to facilitate dawah and the distribution of resources to Muslims in Mexico

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Building Collapses in Bangladesh

We really have to police our own laws, instead of waiting for a government official to take action of a wrong, local citizens need to report on these wrongs and make enough noise for things to be done. In this world today of technology, the internet can be very useful. This building collapsed, according to witnesses, it had cracks and they were assured it was perfectly safe by management. Also when the building started shaking, the guard wouldn't let them leave the building. Really?This is very serious, enforcing rules in an emergency?

Below is a report from Aljazeera on this tragedy.

Inna lillahi Waina Illahi Rajiun. To Allah we belong and to him is our return. I pray that God gives peace to the family members left behind and to accept the souls that passed into his Jannah.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prophet: Say I am only a mortal like you

Interesting Read, article written by Javeed Akhter Author of of the book "The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life,". I nabbed this from Islamicity. Enjoy!

Respond to hate with love.
A reading of Prophet Muhammad's life, and the life of his companions, teaches us how to react to real and perceived insults. Whenever the Prophet was insulted he responded with stoic calm, answered hate with love and hostility with graciousness. He was called names, trash and even thorns were thrown in his path. Enemies would surround him and talk loud to drown him out when he spoke in public. It is reported that the fellow who negotiated the Hudaybia treaty with him would touch his beard in an unwelcome show of familiarity infuriating the Prophet's companions. But for all of the real and perceived insults his response was to remain calm and ask his companions not to get angry. His logic was simple; even the worst offenders could turn around and become friends and even followers. An angry response would be counterproductive. 
The way to show love for a person you admire is to emulate his behavior and not get emotional and angry to the point of killing someone or getting killed. Those who promote this type of angry response need to go back and read and reflect on the Seerah (Biography) of the Prophet. The strongest among people, he taught, is one who can overcome anger.

The near deification of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

The visceral reaction some Muslims have to denigration of the Prophet may have to do with how his persona is looked upon by many Muslims. As seen in the yearly Milad-un-Nabi celebrations amongst South Asians, the veneration of the Prophet reaches the level of near deification. He is the perfect man (insane-e-Kamil), sinless and flawless. The sinless part is true but there were minor errors that the Qur'an alludes to as in the Chapter "He Frowned" (Abasa). I have met intelligent, educated folks who with a straight face have stated that Prophet Muhammad is alive and also present (Hazir wa Nazir) and listening to the supplications of his followers. This cult like veneration of Prophet Muhammad that includes periodic viewing of his hair, is exactly the opposite of how he wanted to be remembered. That is why he was so against any depiction of him in art or sculpture. He was fearful of being turned in to a deity. There are no renderings of him but the veneration that is behind the blasphemy laws in several Muslim countries belies his hope to be viewed and followed as a human.

Prophet Muhammad human.

One can almost hear the Prophet's protestation as recorded in the Qur'an; "Say: I am only a mortal like you (Qul innama ana basharun mithlukum). My Lord inspireth in me that your God is only One God. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none share of the worship due unto his Lord." (Qur'an 18:110)
The Qur'an repeatedly stresses his mortality; "Muhammad is no more than an Apostle. Apostles before him have passed away. If he dies or is slain, will ye then turn on your heels? And he who turneth on his heels shall not in the least injure Allah. And Allah will soon reward the grateful." (Qur'an 3:144)

Abu Bakr in his wise and poignant speech at the Prophet's death made this point clear; "O men, If you have been worshipping Muhammad , then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping Allah, then know that Allah is living and never dies."
The Qur'an points out that not just Prophet Muhammad but all of the messengers were human; "And We sent none before thee, but men to whom We made revelation -- question the People of the Remembrance, if you do not know -- nor did We fashion them as bodies that ate not food, neither were they immortal." (Qur'an 21:7-8)

The Qur'an makes it clear that he is not an angel, or an incarnation of God but a human being who would live and die like other humans ; "What kept men back from Belief when Guidance came to them, was nothing but this: they said "Has Allah sent a man (like us) to be (His) Messenger? Say "If there were settled, on earth angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for an messenger." (Qur'an 17:94-95)

A thoroughly modern argument.

In the same vain Allah avoids giving him the type of supernatural miracles that were given to earlier messengers. "They say: "We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or (until) thou have a garden of date trees and vines, and cause rivers to gush forth in their midst, carrying abundant water. Or thou cause the sky to fall in pieces, as thou sayest (will happen), against us; or thou bring Allah and the angels before (us) face to face. Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou mount a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy mounting until thou send down to us a book that we could read. Say: "Glory to my Lord! Am I aught but a man, a messenger?" (Qur'an 17:90-93)
When people asked the Prophet to show "signs" to support his claim to messenger hood, the Qur'an uses thoroughly modern arguments to support the presence of a purposeful and divine design for human existence. It repeatedly draws our attention to the balance in nature and the marvel of our own creation; when nature itself is so miraculous, the argument goes, why do we need supernatural miracles?

Much to emulate in the Prophet's life.

The excessive veneration of the Prophet Muhammad and the violence as a way of showing devotion to the Prophet shreds these Qura'nic teachings and Seerah lessons. Muslims need to love and respect him, analyze his acts, learn from his words and emulate him the best they can. Muslims are particularly fortunate to have the example of Prophet Muhammad to emulate. The various phases his life went through make it easier for us to understand the teachings of the Qur'an and give us a model to emulate. In Qur'an's own words; "Indeed there is for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern." (Qur'an 33:21) Two such lessons are to remember he was a human and that overcoming anger is a high virtue.

Muhammad never took personal revenge and forgave easily and quickly. He forgave even his worst enemies. His forgiveness and grace toward Hind, on whose urging Hamzah was murdered and mutilated, stands as a witness to his extraordinary compassion. He was always courteous to his enemies and those who pretended to be allies. He knew that some of the pseudo allies would participate in congregational prayer. He was fully aware of their hypocrisy, but never confronted them.

Any faith with more than a billion adherents, over 1400 years of history, varied cultural heritage and experiential diversity is bound to have differences in how it is understood and practiced. This diversity and even heterodoxy is understandable and completely predictable. It is when some of these heterodoxic ways of thinking that seem to become main stream then it is time to worry. Unfortunately this appears to be true with the blasphemy laws in countries like Pakistan.
So if someone maliciously insults the Prophet react with calm, try and befriend them, have them volunteer time with a Muslim charitable group, or NGO, or live in a Muslim household that is following his precepts and educate them on his Seerah. Let common sense prevail.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Islamic Art

Today we celebrate Islamic Artists.

Fuad Kouichi Honda was born in 1946 in Tokyo, Japan. He is a contemporary visual artist and has incorporated Quranic calligraphy into his work. He is a Professor in the Faculty of International Relations at Daito Bunka University of Japan, and has done great works in promoting Islamic Calligraphy and the Quran.

The Blue Mandala by Fuad Kouichi Honda
There is a pull to it, its like your peeking through a doorway to another dimension.

Get this, his artwork is sold in auctions and his pieces sell for $50,000+.
Ijumaa Mubarak everyone!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Building Collapses in Mumbai, India

It is reported atleast 40 are dead. My prayers are with the families of the victims. 

Inna lillahi Waina Illahi rajiun

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This Tree

Very interesting read by Abid Mohammed from Suhaib Webb. Enjoy!

“Daddy!” I said.
“Yes, son?” my father replied.
“Why do people only work five days a week and not seven?” I asked.
“Well, because most people need a break from all the hard work that they…”
“But why?” I asked again.
“If you’ll just let me finish, I’ll tell you wh..”
“But why?” I pressed.
“Abid!” my father exclaimed.
“But why daddy? Why? Why? WHY?!”
*SLAP* “That’s why son. Feel free to ask any more questions and I’ll be happy to explain why again.”
Somewhere in my metamorphosis from child to awkward teenager and eventually incredibly handsome young man, I stopped asking why. Like the vast majority of us, I had resigned myself to make do with the relatively more mundane words of who, what, where and when. There are a few that I have seen that do continue to ask why, but soon you realize they are merely questioning for the sake of questioning. On the other hand, questioning for the sake of learning and understanding is something that the Qur’an highlights as being an essential prerequisite for deriving benefit from it. [Qur’an 4:82] Therefore, it is with great pleasure that in this article, I decided to choose a verse from the Qur’an and see where the journey of asking why takes me.
“And ‘O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.’” [Qur’an 7:19]
Interesting, why did Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) say “this tree” and not “that tree” in the verse above? Also, why is there no mention of any unique qualities concerning this tree in the verse or in the Qur’an for that matter?
Whenever I think of the location of the treeI imagine it being far away from Adam and Eve, peace be upon them—maybe in the middle of nowhere or some obscure part of Paradise that they rarely, if ever, visited. I definitely did not imagine it to be in their immediate presence. That is exactly what the verse implies by using “this” instead of “that. In fact, it goes so far as to give the impression that tree is literally right next to Adam and Eve. 
The same goes for the description of the tree. Personally, the image that comes to my mind is one of a howling banshee tree, guarded by the Naazgul from the Lord of the Rings,  wreathed in flames, its branches twisting uncontrollably and its roots devouring all those that lie in its path. After all, this was the tree right? The tree with which Allah (swt) tested Adam and Eve, that resulted in their removal from Paradise and subsequent placement here on earth. Of all the trees, this tree should have been the most fear-inducing, awe-inspiring, blood-curdling tree that had ever been created. Yet, there is no description of the tree in the Qur’an, other than the fact that, well, it’s just a tree.
Then it hit me, in just one verse, Allah (swt) is teaching us two important lessons about the nature of the tests we will face in this world. Firstly, the majority of trials and tribulations Allah (swt) will test us with will be using the trees that are right next to us and to which we have easy access. These trees can take any form: items, people, or even situations – be they YouTube videos, pornography, the guy in your class, the girl next door, the way in which many of us behave with our friends or even the manner in which we take care of our parents at home. Secondly, these trees will not appear like fire-breathing dragons in the night sky—they will look entirely normal and perfectly harmless.
Why are these two facts important? It is a result of this combination, that we get lured into a false sense of security. As a consequence of their disarming appearance and their proximity, most of us become oblivious to the fact that these treesare tests sent by Him, for us, taking place in real time. Like the tree mentioned in the verse above, they don’t look or feel like tests, at least the kind of tests that we have in mind. And even if they did look like tests initially, because we’re exposed to them on a daily basis, eventually we become desensitized.
Incidentally, it is this same mentality that is behind the alarming statistic that we are much more likely to have a road traffic accident within a five mile radius of our home, then driving in a narrow country lane in the darkness of the night. And yet for most of us, it is these very trees that will be our undoing.
For those of us desiring the Garden, let us therefore strive to look for the trees in our lives, to stay away from anything that brings us close to them, and if in our weakness or ignorance we do go near them, let us immediately turn back to Allah (swt) as our parents did. “They said, ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers,’” [Qur’an 7:23]. Or else we find ourselves asking why for all the wrong reasons on the Day of Judgment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How well is your City Prepared for an Emergency?

A building collapsed in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on March 29th 2013 and they have come to the conclusion of the rescue mission. 

The death toll went up from 2 to 36 with only 17 survivors. The numbers are disappointing, really when you hear stories like there were kids playing in the mosque courtyard, although no one is reporting how many of the dead are children vs adults. This brings us to a good topic of how well is your city prepared for search and rescue in case Allah forbid a building collapses. 

Here are the three main questions that should be tackled:
1. How quick is your response time?
2. How do you search for survivors?
3. How do you rescue them?

1. How quick is your response time?

The sooner you can get to a disaster area the better, IRIN states they try to deploy their volunteers within 24 hours of notification. Well for Dar Es Salaam to answer the first question, its sad that the volunteers and the Commissioner Saidi Meck Sadick got there before the fire truck and more professional rescue missions arrived. I say Sad, because the building collapsed in the city center, I expect no more than 20 minutes of a response time.

2. How do you search for survivors?

Do you go beyond basic spotting of limbs and calling out for survivors? What about your unconscious survivors that are still breathing? How invested in rescue tools is your city? 
Some of the common technological tools and methods rescue missions use are:

a. Camera Poles.
You put a camera at the end of the pole for your eyes in tight spaces in areas you think people might be stranded. Like so...
Or you can buy a ready made one. This also helps with the safety of rescue workers.

b. Sound Location Devices
Before you send the grader, where you can't hear people calling out, you use a sound location device that is connected to a Microphone system. This device bangs on the rubble and if people shout for help or bang back, you can track their location.

c. Thermal Image Cameras
These show areas of body heat.
d. Carbon Dioxide Analyzer
To detect people who might be unconscious but are still breathing?

 Are you using your sniffer dogs to their full potential? Those babies are really good with scents, and almost every police force has one.

Well do these tools exist in inventory? If not, they need to be, with regular weekly tests to ensure they work on the day of.

3. How do you rescue them?

What happens when you do find these survivors that are trapped under the rubble. Do you dig them out? Do you have the proper tools that can cut through concrete? The Concrete saws, chainsaws and bulldozers? How about the more sophisticated air bags that get inflated under heavy objects to lift them for easy passage. Do you have ambulances waiting to immediately take them to ER? Is first aid administered immediately? 

These are all questions that need to be addressed. Sadly, after this building collapse in Dar, a Mine Collapsed in Moshono, Arusha. It is suspected 20 people are dead and so far only 14 bodies have been retrieved. As investigation is going on for the collapsed building, the mining owners in Arusha need to be checked as well.
Rescue workers taking out a dead body from the ruins.

I do have to give it up to the Volunteers and rescue mission in Dar. Folks worked day and night for search and rescue, May Allah reward you guys greatly.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. To Allah we belong and to him is our return. May Allah Accept and rest the souls of the deceased in his heaven.

Source: OshaIRINMwananchi