A new blog

By the will of Allah, I’ve launched a new blog. I will take a different approach in the new website by going into more practical levels while dealing with issues of concern to almost every Muslim. I will be offering some fresh perspective on pressing issues, daily challenges that face Muslims on individual, organizational, and global levels.

https://rashidoon.wordpress.com

Unlike this blog, I will be taking more political risk by openly expressing my personal views and experience after doing sufficient research. I will also be updating the blog on a nearly daily basis.

Check it out, subscribe, and share it with your friends. I will be offering a series of free e-books and exclusive training videos inshaAllah. Below is the general philosophy underpinning my work on the new blog:

Rashidoon aims at helping every Muslim live true to Allah, authentic to his/her true self and relevant to world.

We believe there is intention behind everything in the world; it is a purposeful universe and we are meant to be in tune with it. Islam is not a system of rigid instructions that are out of place and time as the bahaviour or many Muslims seems to suggest, rather it is a dynamic system and way of life that captures the essence of human nature and the reality of existence. The world as it is today is intended to be as it is for a purpose, and we were intended to live in it too. Seeing ourselves out of place and out of time, even if acknowledged only tacitly, is a sure way to relate poorly to Islam and the to the world.

The beauty of Islam is manifest when Muslims are able to capture the spirit of this religion and live true to it while still being relevant to this world. There is a thread of truth in every circumstance, and goodness in every situation and we can only tune to it when we have invested in Islam to grow our inner self just as we strive to shape our actions with the outward teachings of Islam.

The universe as it is now is an open source of divine wisdom that permeates everything in existence. Living in an imaginary world of virtue and Utopia makes us defensive and thus prevents us from realizing the full potential that lies dormant in the teachings of Islam. Islam is not under threat and will never be, but Muslims surely are. We turn ourselves vulnerable when we think deep down that circumstances can stand between us and Allah. They can’t unless we let them do so!

Living true to Allah is a choice that can persist and survive despite adverse circumstances. The principles and teachings of Islam on the one hand, and the actual worldly circumstances on the other couple together to reveal the profound wisdom of Allah in His creation and His legislation. Trusting in Allah’s wisdom gives one the resilience and strength to stay connected to Allah and relevant to the moment. Islam is designed to lead humans to Allah at all times. Thinking that Islam requires only certain circumstances to be lived and practiced is an insult to the One who designed it. It is a figment of our imagination that the case could be so. It is we who fail to stay connected to the essence of Islam and thus prefer to remain in our comfort zone.

Islam and human nature are perfectly compatible and in a sense identicical. In actuality it is true to say Islam was sent down for one reason: to help humans take their humanity to its full expression.

It is the ultimate goal of Rashidoon to contribute towards restoring the true spirit of Islam among Muslims around the world. Through research, education, training , and real life examples we hope to offer living examples of how Muslims could possibly live true to Allah and their true self and remain relevant to their times. We strive to keep our instruction grounded in the Quran and authentic Sunnah while benefiting from every legitimate source of information and wisdom regardless who it comes from.

We welcome everyone who wishes to contribute or benefit. All interactions are to be guided by the eternal ethos and ethics of Islam.

Da’wah that is meaningful (6) Why meaning?

All praise is due to Allah, peace and blessing be on our Prophet (PBUH),Image

Humans are creature of meaning; we seek meaning in everything. In fact, we deal with the meaning of an object rather than dealing with the object itself. This is why humans differ about the same issue.

Meaning is central in our experiences and it defines our quality of life. Most people go through life unaware of the dynamics of their meaning system; this is a great pity!

Allah established this world on meaning. He says He didn’t create the heavens and the earth for no purpose. His creation is meaningful. This universe is profuse with meaning and purpose. This is why Allah built in us systems able to connect to that meaning and process it so as to be in tune with it.

We understand the world, people -including ourselves-, we decide, act, and react based on meaning. Even our feelings, our aspirations are meaningful (Allah didn’t create a thing for no sound reason)!

Most relevant to our topic is the fact that the core motivation in human life is the will to meaning. Thus, what spurs human on to act is their search for meaning. We’re not controlled by our instincts, our behavior is not a product of mechanistic drives such as pain and pleasure. If you search deep, you’ll realize that every human being is seeking to live a meaningful life.

People are drawn into meaningful aspects of any situation. What is meaningful for a person is not necessarily so for the other. Therefore, if we can connect with people on a meaningful level in our da’wah, we’re likely to be more influential and successful in our attempts. If we can offer a meaningful conversation to the invitee, we’ve connected with their deepest drives and touched them on a profound level.

when people encounter meaningful features, they’re interested, intrigued, motivated, open-minded, willing to expose themselves to new experiences and adopt new perspectives. Meaning controls even people’s unconscious and intuitive behaviors such as attention. so when you make sense in your da’wah, you’ve got people attentive and interested.

Islam in its own nature is meaningful. It is our presentation of it, in word and action, that blemish its nature. Yes, some people have corrupted their own nature that even when they see the truth they turn away from it. But still there are many people out there searching for meaning, and there is nothing that gives meaning to life better that the reason purpose behind its existence.

Thus, a main characteristic of successful da’wah is in the ability to connect with people’s sense of meaning. When people find meaning, they pursue it out of their own initiative; they take personal responsibility for its fulfillment. Da’wah needs to be presented in a more human way, rather that a robotic, mechanistic delivery of certain cliches.

It hurts to see that often Islam is depicted in the form of constraints and prohibitions, or even punishments, even sometimes by Muslims. Islam is about the reality of this life, is about making the best investment of one’s days and years, it’s about reaching the full potential of human existence and establishing good, justice, love, mercy in one’s own life and in others’. Islam is about making life an enriching and rewarding experience. It does a lot of injustice to reduce Islam to a set of rules (that are part and parcel of Islam). It is some Muslims’ deficient misunderstanding of the Deen that deters people from Islam, and then these Muslims have the guts to say those people rejected the truth!

In a future post insha’Allah I will elaborate on the concept of meaning, deriving insight from earlier Muslim scholars and them from modern sciences of psychology and sociology. Please share your thoughts by commenting on this post, JZK

Da’wah that is Meaningful (5) Turning Enemies into friends

Probably no one would have expected this man to do what he just did. I believe most of you are aware that Arnoud Van Doorn embraced Islam a few months ago. For those who don’t know yet, this man was one of the producers of the film (Fitnah) produced in the Netherlands to misrepresent Islam and Muslims, as part of the campaign waged by the right-wing anti-Islam so-called party for Freedom! led by Geert Wilders. Van Doorn, being a member of this party, was an active member in the campaign against Islam.

Now he’s a Muslim and below are his pictures with the Imam of al-Masjid al-Haraam Sheikh Abdur-Rahman as-Sudais, and with Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Huthayfi Imam of the Prophet’s Masjid, and also with Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad from London. Another photo show Van Doorn praying in ar-Rawdah ash-shareefa in the Prophet’s (PBUH) Masjid.

I am sure there are many lessons to be leaned from this story, may Allah increase us in knowledge and eemaan.

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Da’wah that is meaningful (4) an example of what interest does

Assalamu alaykum wa rahamtullaah,

Since we’re talking about how to generate interest and that the real value of da’wah is in creating a genuine interest in Islam. Here is an example of what interest does; it’s like a chain reaction as the drive and curiosity is generated from within and is thus more sustainable. This is quoted from FB page of a bookstore in Toronto Canada (Jannat bookstore). This happened recently.

Meet Kenny. A 63 year old man who walked into our doors looking for the truth.
Subhan’Allah its never too late to have an open heart.

Kenny spent 3hours in our store and ended up spending $200 on books to learn more about Islam.

Ask yourself. How much time and money have you spent looking for the truth.

May Allah guide him to the truth and make him amongst those who say: I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is his slave and final messenger (PBUH)

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Da’wah that is meaningful (3) generating interest in Islam

All praise is due to Allah, and peace and blessing be on Prophet Muhammad,

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Based on the previous post we saw how a successful da’wah attempt ends with creating interest in Islam. Opposite to conventional wisdom, successful da’wah is not in getting the invitee to utter the testimony of faith. Rather it is in being able to stir genuine interest in Islam by connecting deeply with the invitee and being able to relate to their deepest concerns and interests. Again this works both with non-Muslims and with non-practicing Muslims.
Some studies conducted on converts (I remember IERA conducted a few) show horrifying numbers of new Muslims give up their new Deen. Obviously more research is needed to spot the different factors, but personal observations point to lack of genuine interest or being pushed to say shahada before one’s interest and conviction have matured.
how is interest created?
This is probably the most important point in this series of posts. It requires a deeper understanding of our Deen and of human nature.
The first building block in this answer is the concept of fitrah. And this will constitute the substance of this post. This is the innate nature Allah created us upon. There are a few opinions among the Muslim scholars to to the nature of this fitrah. A common denominator among all opinions seems to be an innate tendency to learn and grow. It is the essence of what we call intrinsic motivation and deep sense of curiosity to understand who we are, what the world is, and how we fit within the general scheme of things. As humans, the deepest motivation that underlies what we do, how we think, and all human activity is to make sense of ourselves and the world.
Islam by its own nature makes full sense and answers this need for meaning. However, there are barriers that keep people from coming to this conclusion. Some of those barriers are stereotypes about Islam and Muslims that block one’s mind from coming to see Islam for what it is. Some those stereotypes are unfortunately founded on cultural and personal practices and attitudes that permeate Muslim communities around the world.
Another barrier that keeps others from connecting with Islam at such a pure level of experience is the fact that the majority of Muslims don’t even understand how Islam puts their life in perspective. For them Islam is merely a bunch of theoritical tenets and robotic practices. Yet for their livelyhood and other affairs, they see Islam as a set of prohibitions and constraints they shouldn’t transgress, without seeing any of Allah’s wisdom in all of this. There is much to be said about this but this is enough for now.
Unless we connect with Islam at a more vital and more human level, we won’t be able to properly share an accurate understanding of Allah’s Deen. It doesn’t do Islam much favour that we just follow without delving deep into the wisdom of Allah present within the rulings and the general frame of Islam as a whole. In fact many rulings – in order for them to be applied correctly – require a deep understanding of their intent and of the present reality and state of affairs. Ibn Taymiyyah pointed out that there two types of following in Islam: one if following the apparent image of an act only. The second is following the intent of the act along with its apparent manifestation. Them he says that the latter is much more loved by Allah ( the book of Istiqamah). This does not mean people can start abandoning the acts of worship, this classification can only be handled by scholars who’ve mastered sciences of the Quran, Sunnah, and spent a long time in scholarly activities.
So in order to generate interest, we need to find out a way to connect with that innate nature of the invitee and help them see the connection between what they’re dearly looking for and what Islam has to offer.
Pushing people to do the right thing will only add more barriers between them and Islam. Humans have an innate need to originate their own behaviour, and this is why Allah says (translation): let there be no compulsion in religion.

Who can we connect with this fitrah? Have you had any experience or read or heard about one? What would instigate your interest in a certain subject?

Da’wah that is meaningful (2) What are the outcomes?

All praise is due to Allah, peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad,

To help understand meaningful da’wah, it is necessary to consider the possible outcomes of da’wah attempts in general. As far as I can see, the outcomes of a da’wah attempt could be one of three:dawah3

First: resistance, here the invitee displays refusal and disagreement with the content of the invitation and shows annoyance and may just withdraw or argue against the message being presented.

Second: courtesy and politeness. The invitee is not really interested and the message doesn’t seem t appeal to him/her but they still listen and show no resistance. this might take the shape of compliance and pretense (this is likely when the da’ee has strong presence and charisma, or sometimes the da’ee is simply pushy).

Third: interest, the invitee shows genuine interest and seems willing to find out more. This could lead the person to accept the Deen with conviction or set him off on a journey of investigation that may lead to Shahadah. It is this outcome that resembles a successful meaningful da’wah.

As a matter of fact, invitees sometimes display one of the first two outcomes, yet after a while they move on the third (interest).

Based in the above, we can roughly define a meaningful da’wah attempt as one that ultimately succeeds in creating interest with invitee in the message the da’ee (one who gives da’wah) is trying to share.

While there are many reasons that could potentially contribute to final outcome of da’wah endeavors, it would be useful to classify them into categories to facilitate appropriate treatment of each. A possible classification is to say that factors affecting da’wah outcomes can be ordered into three classes:

1) factors pertaining to the overall environment (culture, general attitude, norms, etc) and how Islam is perceived by the general public (the media plays a major role in this category, and so does the overall conduct of the Muslim population in that country)

As individuals were don’t have an immediate impact on these factors, especially in the short term. However, collectively, the Muslim population can make a difference if they unite upon a clear strategy and action plan.

2) factors pertaining to the invitee as a person such as personal preferences, character, education, etc. As individuals we don’t have much of an impact here, but paying attention to this class of factors helps one know how better to handle a person; what works with one person may not work with another.

3) factors pertaining to the style of da’wah and the da’ee as a person. It is this category where we have the biggest influence. The question is though: how can one make a compelling case for his message that could engage the invitee and generate genuine interest!

I argue that acceptance of or resistance to da’wah is a behavior, and there are many ways to influence human behavior. In the realm of da’wah, how can we build a model of a framework to make our da’wah meaningful that we increase chances that invitees will be able to relate to it and find it meaningful, and this generate interest?

Please share your thoughts and let’s exchange insights and help each other grow! JZK in advance