Saturday, 15 October 2016

Book review: Struggling to Surrender, by Jeffrey Lang

Excellent read. Really enjoyed reading the author's journey to Islam and his take on what it means to be a Muslim. Also enjoyed reading the author's attempt at understanding and explaining various contentious issues such as the use of imagery in the Qur'an, the authenticity of Hadith, the role of women in Muslim communities, apostasy, the People of the Book and many others! Of course not everyone will find the author's opinions agreeable and sometimes his opinions are not in line with the Muslim status quo but you can feel his sincerity and his strong desire to maintain objectivity throughout. Here are some quotes from the book:

"... I learned very quickly that no one knows loneliness like an atheist. When an average person feels isolated, he can call through the depths of his soul to One who knows him and sense an answer. An atheist cannot allow himself that luxury, for he has to crush the urge and remind himself of its absurdity..."

"...'I do have one question.' I paused, not sure how to formulate it. 'Can you tell me what it feels like to be a Muslim? I mean, how do you see you relationship with God?'..."

"... To me, praying the dawn prayer in the mosque is one of the most beautiful and moving rituals in Islam. There is something mystical in arising while everyone else sleeps to hear the music of the Qur'an filling the darkness. It is as if you temporarily leave this world and commune with the angels in extolling God's praises at dawn...

"... You cannot simply read the Qur'an, not if you take it seriously. You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously, directly, personally; it debates, criticizes, shames, and challenges. From the outset it draws the line of battle, and I was on the other side..."

"... the Qur'an has no beginning and or end… its fundamental concepts can be ascertained regardless of the order in which it is read. But for one who is about to respond to its call, the arrangement of the Qur'an is pivotal, for the further you progress through it, in the correct order, the more intense and emotive is its expression. As a result, the closer one comes to conversion, the more magnetic is the summons..."

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Arabic courses in and around the Waltham Forest area

I get asked every few months for suggestions on where to study Arabic in or near the Waltham Forest area and I have to dig around to remind myself of the options. So I thought I'd up a list of options that I'm aware of and I'll add to this list as I become aware of more options...

Arabic Courses - Leyton

Al-Shateri: Al Ehsan Institute - Leytonstone

Ebrahim College - Whitechapel

Tayyibun Institute - Whitechapel

As well as the above in-person courses, another option is self-study. If you have the discipline and persistence to put in the hours required working alone here's a couple of options:

Bayinnah TV - well worth the £7 per month or whatever it is for access to the Arabic, Qur'an and other courses available.

Mastering Arabic book series by Palgrave Macmillan publishing - buy all the different books in the series and get cracking!

Muhammad: Man and Prophet, by Adil Salahi

This book — Muhammad: Man and Prophet, by Adil Salahi — is hands down my favourite in the English language. Just the right level of detail and good, simple language. I'm going through it with my niece chapter-by-chapter and in the process I'm creating a summary of each chapter for future use. Links below to the slides summarising each chapter:

Chapter 3 – From Youth to Maturity
Chapter 4 – The Makkan Scene at the start of Prophethood
Chapter 5 – Up There in the Mountain
Chapter 6 – A Community in the Making
Chapter 7 – The Call to Islam Goes Public
Chapter 8 – Objective Containment
Chapter 9 – Misrepresentation
Chapter 10 – Moving Out
...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Qur'an: Be patient

"O you who believe,
be patient,
be more patient than others,
guard your frontiers,
and fear God
so that you may be successful."

(Al-Qur'an, Surah Aal Imran, Verse 200)

Sabr... to be patient... to hold down and restrain one's self against lashing out at what is undesirable in ways one would later regret.

There is Sabr in executing one's duties. There is Sabr in resisting sin. There is Sabr in facing moments of distress.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Qur'an: People of Understanding

Surely, in the creation of the heavens and the earth,
and in the alternation of night and day,
there are signs for people of understanding,
who remember God
standing, sitting and [lying] on their sides,
who ponder on the creation of the heavens and the earth:
'Our Lord, You have not created all this in vain.
You are far above that!
So save us from the torment of the Fire.'

(Al-Qur'an, Surah Aal Imran, Verses 190-191)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Qur'an: Gentleness

So it is through Mercy from God that you were gentle to them.
Had you been rough and hard-hearted,
they would have surely dispersed from around you.
So pardon them, seek forgiveness for them,
and consult them in the matter.
And once you have taken a decision,
place your trust in God.
Surely, God loves those who place their trust in Him.

(Al-Qur'an, Surah Aal Imran, Verse 159)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Qur'an: Those who do good

"... Those who spend in prosperity and adversity
and who control their anger and forgive people.
And Allah loves those who do good.

And those who,
when they commit a shameful act or wrong themselves,
remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins
- and who is there to forgive sins except Allah? -
and do not persist in what they have done, knowingly.

Their reward is forgiveness from their Lord
and gardens beneath which rivers flow
where they shall live forever.
And excellent is the reward of those who work.

(Al-Qur'an, Surah Aal Imran, Verses 134-136)

We see here in this sequence of verses that qualities relating to the rights of men are mentioned together with qualities relating to the rights of God. It's important to remember though that the rights of God are not meant to benefit God in any way! God does not suffer in any way if they are not fulfilled. The one who worships Him is the one who gains.