Charlie Hebdo and The Prophet Muhammad SAW

It is safe to say that unless you have been living in a cave for the past week – everyone has heard about the attacks on the French Magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ in their Paris office on Wednesday 7th January 2015.

Why did the gunmen target Charlie Hebdo?

In 2006, Charlie Hebdo had reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which were originally printed in a Danish daily – Jyllands-Posten.

Unlike other religions where there are sculptures and pictures of the various Gods (for Hindus) and of other religious figures such as Jesus (Christianity), Guru Nanak (Sikhism) or Buddha (Buddhism), it is not the case for Islam. Not only do we not have pictures or idols of our God but even the prophets who we believe were sent down from Allah.

In Islam, we believe that the final messenger of Allah – Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent from Allah to restore an unaltered, pure religion that the previous prophets who came before him, had tried to teach the people. As Muslims, if we are able to blindly trust the words and follow the footsteps of this great man that had once walked the earth, then it is disrespectful and completely unnecessary for people belonging to other faiths to then create cartoon images of the Prophet (peace be upon him). I genuinely cannot understand the reason behind why cartoon images of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was printed in the first place in Denmark let alone being reprinted in France. It is disgusting behaviour from both countries. If as Muslims, we have accepted the teachings of our religion without any imagery or cartoons of our Prophet then it is simple courtesy that as people belonging to other faiths that you respect this and do not publish offensive images.

It is because of this that these two terrorists: Cherif and Said Kouachi thought that they would take it upon themselves to get ‘revenge’ for what had happened in 2006. I hope you have noticed how I mentioned ‘terrorists’ and not ‘Muslims.’ Why? Because quite frankly after what they have done – it would be a disgrace to call them Muslims. I have mentioned this in my previous posts, but for those who haven’t read it – I’ll say it again: In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion. In our Holy Book. Our Holy Qu’ran. It tells Muslims not to kill other people. Therefore whatever justification these two men had, makes no difference. They might have thought they have done a ‘good deed’ by getting revenge for the Prophet but they’re wrong. There is no justification.

In fact it is because of these terrorists – my religion, my Prophet (peace be upon him) is once again going to be disrespected as the Charlie Hebdo magazine are publishing 3 million copies tomorrow (Wednesday 14th January) with a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the front cover.

What makes this worse is that a columnist, Zineb El Rhazoui told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “Our friends died because of small drawings, because of a joke… And they must accept humour also.”

The killings should not have happened. They were completely unacceptable and in any way am I not condoning what has happened.

But, to call cartoons of our Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘a joke’ is preposterous. If it was a ‘joke’ then many Muslims around the world would not have been horrified and disgusted as well as being deeply offended by this. This is essentially mocking and disrespecting our religion.

When at school, children are taught about ‘Freedom of Speech’ yet they are still punished if they make offensive remarks. If the children of this generation are being taught to respect other religions that may be different to their own then why is it such an alien concept some adults.

To conclude, I think that the murders that the two terrorists have committed is absolutely disgusting and completely against the peaceful religion of Islam. However, I strongly believe that the cartoons that have been published and that are yet to be published tomorrow by the Charlie Hebdo magazine, is absolutely disrespectful and unnecessary.

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The Islamic State (ISIS)

Firstly, I want to begin this post on a positive note and say Happy New Year to my readers. I hope you all have a prosperous 2015.

The fact that it has been over 9 months since I wrote my last post is crazy! I guess, the only thing I can really blame it on is my inability in multi-tasking (looks like it’s not just males who cannot multitask). Concentration on revising and doing well in my exams took over my life for the last 9 months and now today I had some free time, so I decided to write another post.

I hate to start the New Year on such a negative note, but I have been meaning to write a post about this topic for a few months now. Today’s post will be about the Islamic State or ISIS as they are more commonly known as.

I have very strong views against this group which is why I am going to be blunt and straight to the point.

ISIS DO NOT REPRESENT ISLAM.

I cannot stress this point in any other way. Just because they have the word ‘Islamic’ in the name does not mean they represent the religion in any way. I personally believe ISIS are a group full of terrorists who are absolute cowards! To be perfectly honest, there has been a rise in the number of terrorists who feel they have the power to take lives away in recent years but what upsets me the most is when I hear stories about British born Muslims going to Syria to fight on behalf of this terrorist group.

I am a British born Muslim and I take my religion very seriously (due to my upbringing and weekly lessons with a teacher of Islam) but there is no way I would ever even think about running away to go to Syria. Why? Because I have studied and I am in the process of continually learning about my religion well enough to know that what these people are doing in the name of our religion – is not in any way Islamic.

In October, a report came out that the fourth British Jihadist has died at the age of 19. What is going on Britain? Why are there people sacrificing their lives for the wrong reasons? I wish I could understand what is possessing some people into thinking that what they are doing is correct. Truth is, there is no explanation for the murders that have taken place.

Innocent people are dying in the hands of people who call themselves Muslim.

In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion.

As well as this, I have heard stories about girls flying to Syria as ‘Jihadi Brides.’

I honestly am finding it hard to understand what makes these girls to do this.

Radhika Sanghani wrote a very interesting article for The Telegraph, after fifteen year old Yusra Hussein fled to Syria, about how British Muslims feel about this which I highly recommend.*

Here is a short extract from the article.

“Fifteen-year-old Yusra Hussein is the latest British girl thought to have joined Islamic State fighters. The “intelligent, beautiful” student – who dreamt of being a dentist – is now believed to be in Turkey preparing to cross into Syria and join up with jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

She isn’t the only young British Muslim girl to have done so. Twins Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Manchester, are believed to have travelled to Syria in July. Aqsa Mahmood, 20, was a student in Glasgow who dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now she’s understood to be part of an all-female militant group in Syria, along with 60 other young women.

It seems that every month there are new headlines telling us that another bright young Muslim girl has left Britain to become a ‘jihadi bride’ by marrying an Isil fighter. It’s a huge concern for Muslim parents, whose children could be radicalised from their bedrooms via the internet and ‘Sheikh Google’.”

All these girls who appear to be ‘intelligent’ with bright futures ahead of them, yet this one decision that they made will ruin their life.

What is happening Britain?

I wish there was a way to knock some sense into these senseless individuals.

I wish.

* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11133324/British-Muslim-girls-Were-sick-to-death-of-these-jihadi-brides-going-to-Syria-its-disgusting.html

The Portrayal of Muslims in the Media

Since the September 2001 9/11 Terrorist attacks in America, Muslims have found themselves increasingly in the media for essentially all the wrong reasons. Although, this is partly the fault of the minority of the religion, it is also the fault of the media who have basically used this tragic incident as a reason to accentuate the portrayal of Muslims in a negative light.

Terrorism is one of the main reasons why Muslims are being presented in the way they are. However what people do not realise is that those terrorists who take it upon themselves to take the lives of hundreds and thousands of innocent people are not really following what their religion tells them to do, therefore it is debatable whether they can be classed as ‘Muslims.’

In verse 5:32 of the Qur’an, it states: ‘If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.’ This is because as Muslims, we believe that no- one is permitted to take a life except for God himself, therefore killing another innocent is as if you’re almost taking the power of God into your own hands, which is a major sin in the religion.

However, in this day and age, people (especially the media) do not care about this and continue to paint Muslims as the ‘evil people.’ It’s as if indirectly the media is trying to show the world that because of what a few people who lost their way did, it really means that every other Muslim would follow in their footsteps and become terrorists. What people need to realise is that there is approximately 2 billion Muslims in this world and if you are to believe everything in the media, it is therefore saying that there are almost 2 billion suicide bombers in this world. How ignorant.

In 2007 on the BBC News Website, one of the subheadings of an article: Muslims are being “demonised” by the British media, with 91% of reports being negative, research commissioned by the London Mayor has found.’ This clearly shows that even the people who aren’t Muslims themselves have realised that nearly all reports that have anything to do with Muslims are negative.

Thus meaning that when someone in the Muslim community does something wrong then they immediately get a lot of media coverage, however if the roles were reversed and that same person was doing something beneficial then it would be most likely that it would be overlooked. In 2012, Christopher Bail wrote an article about the negative portrayal of Muslims in the Media, below is a snippet of what he had to say after conducting thorough research into this:

‘When Muslim organizations put out many messages condemning terrorism, in response to nearly any incident, these press releases were usually dispassionate or mournful, and they received little media coverage.

However, when Muslim groups put out angry and emotional messages in response to various cases of discrimination against other Muslims; these messages got more media attention. To the newspaper-reading and TV-watching public, the impression is that Muslims care little about condemning terrorism and are over-sensitive to Islamophobia,’

Why is it that the world would rather see the negative side to Muslims than anything else?

Where is the ‘equality’ that the Western world seem to always encourage?

It just goes to show how biased the media can be when it benefits them most.

If you’re looking to stereotype – then look at the majority, not the minority.

Not all German people are supporters of Adolf Hitler.

Not all Irish people are supporters of the Irish Republic Army.

Just like that, not all Muslims are terrorists.

The English Defence League & Islam

So, I know I haven’t written a post in while, over a month now. I’ve just been so busy with school work and other stuff, I had some free time today and I thought I would write one.

Today I just want to talk about a something that frustrates me immensely, however also accentuates the ignorance of many people in the 21st century.

The English Defence League (EDL). Many of you around the world may not know what the EDL is so here is a little history for you. To make sure that you are given a clear understanding and unbiased point of view of what they think they are about I have copied a paragraph or so from the mission statement on their website (http://www.englishdefenceleague.org/mission-statement/)

The English Defence League (EDL) is a human rights organisation that was founded in the wake of the shocking actions of a small group of Muslim extremists who, at a homecoming parade in Luton, openly mocked the sacrifices of our service personnel without any fear of censure. Although these actions were certainly those of a minority, we believe that they reflect other forms of religiously-inspired intolerance and barbarity that are thriving amongst certain sections of the Muslim population in Britain: including, but not limited to, the denigration and oppression of women, the molestation of young children, the committing of so-called honour killings, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and continued support for those responsible for terrorist atrocities.

Whilst we must always protect against the unjust assumption that all Muslims are complicit in or somehow responsible for these crimes, we must not be afraid to speak freely about these issues. This is why the EDL will continue to work to protect the inalienable rights of all people to protest against radical Islam’s encroachment into the lives of non-Muslims.’

I apologize for all that reading, I just didn’t know where to stop copying from the mission statement. It honestly fascinates just how ‘evil’ my religion is portrayed as.

The mission statement says ‘… these actions were certainly those of a minority’ which clearly shows that they seem to understand that those actions were by a minority. So why do they feel the need to disrespect the religion as a whole? Mosques are targeted, Muslims are targeted. Where is the humanity? There is even a picture of a man with a tattoo of a mosque blowing up on his body (As you can see below). Is that necessary though?

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Furthermore, the mission statement mentions a list of reasons as to what they believe is wrong with the religion. What makes me laugh is that they feel that women are oppressed in Islam! In fact, if you study the Qu’ran in more depth, people would actually understand the truth.

 ‘When she is a daughter, she opens the door of Jannah for her father. When she is a wife, she completes half of the deen for her husband. When she is a mother, Jannah lies under her feet.’

People need to understand the difference between what the religion says, and what different cultures teach. People are quick to misjudge Islam for horrific attacks against women, such as honour killings but what they do not realise that it is the various cultures that teach us all of this, not our religion.

I am originally from Bangladesh and I can say that most people over there would rather have a son than a daughter; someone who would carry their name to the next generation. However, this is not because of what the Qu’ran and Islam teaches us but it is the cultural beliefs that have been passed down from our ancestors.   

Furthermore, people do not understand the real meaning as to why women wear the hijab which leads them to think that women are oppressed.

It has been exactly 1 month and 10 days since I started wearing it. Do I feel oppressed?

No of course not!

So if I, wearing it, don’t feel oppressed, then how can someone (or a group of people) who do not wear it say that I am being oppressed?

It doesn’t really make any sense to me.

Every citizen of the UK has a ‘freedom of speech’ therefore to some extent what the EDL are doing seems legal to them, however there is a limit to everything and when it gets to a point when they are not just portraying their point across but using violence against ordinary Muslims and places of worship – that is where the line should be drawn.

 

 

The Hijabi Life

Well, it has been just over a week since my last post on the blog. I keep meaning to write another one, but then something pops up and I completely forget all about it. But here I am, writing another one, it’s about the ‘life-changing’ decision I made which I briefly mentioned in my last post. I hope many of you will be able to relate to it as well.

So, Basically…

TODAY WAS THE DAY I STARTED WEARING THE HIJAB!

This was not a decision I made out of the blue, it has actually been something that I have been thinking about for quite a long time. During Easter 2012, it was the first time I tried wearing it in the school holidays when I went to the library to revise for my GCSE exams. However, I thought it would be weird for me and my friends at my non-multicultural school if they suddenly see me in a hijab after 4years so I decided against wearing it to school after the Easter holidays. After being in this habit for not wearing it for so long, I stopped wearing it completely.

September last year I moved to a new Sixth Form (Year 12), one which was a lot more multi-cultural than my last one, so I decided to wear it again on the very first day of school. However, that decision didn’t come from the heart and I kept trying to make these excuses in my head to discourage myself from wearing it again after the first day. I was telling myself things like:

‘The headscarf hurts my head and its giving me a headache,’

‘The hijab isn’t comfortable’

‘People are looking at me weirdly because I’m wearing the hijab’

And so on. Anyway, although I had many supportive family members and friends around me who showed me a solution to each of my issues, in the end they simply just asked me if I was ready in my heart. Honestly, back then it was a no. I hated it! I thought I was a freak which made me paranoid every time someone looked at me. Anyway, on the second day of school I took it off.

As the year went on, I made my fair share of mistakes which I regret from the bottom of my heart. Mistakes which I wish I could go back and change but unfortunately I can’t. Although, it is not the most ideal situation, I cannot deny the fact that I have actually learnt some valuable lessons from these stupid mistakes which has taught me to never go down that route again. It was then that I thought about how different, perhaps even better my life would have been if I had just kept it on.

In addition, as time went on, I felt that my knowledge in my faith was increasing from valuable weekly Islamic lessons with a tutor. Although people underestimate the importance of the hijab (as they do not realise that it is in actual fact compulsory in Islam for women), it has never actually been forced upon me. In actual fact I am glad and thankful to my family for this because I would much rather want to wear it instead of being forced to.

Anyway, as the academic year was coming to an end, I felt that I was finally ready to wear it, so I decided that at the start of the new academic year I would turn up at school with it on. However, after thinking it over I realised that I didn’t want to wait that long to start, so what better time than the day my AS results were coming out. Today.

I had so many people around me who were supporting me for my decision, and although there were some people who tried to discourage me from going through with this I realised that I wasn’t wearing the hijab for their satisfaction or their needs, I was wearing it for my faith and Allah (swt). This is why I simply ignored them and continued with what I thought was right.

Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Obey your parents unless they ask you to disobey Allah.’ It is your duty and right to wear Hijab therefore you are not sinning if you have to go against your parents’ wishes (when it comes to Islam). Furthermore we are all tested by Allah (swt) especially the ones who start practicing Islam. No matter how small or big the test is, if you are going through a hard time or a rough phase, always know that this is simply a test and it is a sign that Allah (swt) loves you. You may be confused, why would Allah (swt) put you through a hard time if he loves you? Well, think about it like this: Medicine is bitter and disgusting (most of the time) but we still offer medicine, despite its bitterness to the people we love! According to a hadith, ‘The greatest reward comes from the greatest trial. When Allah loves people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it gains the pleasure of Allah and whoever complains earns His wrath.’ (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2396; Ibn Maajah, 4031; classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani.)

Some may support me, some may not. Some may think I have an ulterior motive but honestly I know what my intentions are and so does my lord. In the hereafter I will not have to face those who doubt my intentions, I will have to face Him instead therefore whatever I do is to please Him and no one else.

Also I just want to take this time to clarify one thing, me wearing a hijab does not mean that I’ve become a ‘good Muslim’ overnight. Only Allah (swt) knows the extent of our sins, we as people have no right to judge others upon their actions as for all we know they may have repented to Allah (swt) who may have already forgiven them. What right do we have to judge when our god has forgiven them already?

I am not perfect. Nobody is. But one thing I do believe is that the hijab will help me become a better Muslim (Insha’Allah) than I was before because now if I ever want to do something  stupid I will think twice as by wearing a hijab I am representing my faith and I would never ever want to give my beliefs a bad name.

To conclude, I would say to all you Muslim Sisters out there, if you are thinking of wearing the hijab then firstly make sure that it is something that you want to do and then once your mind is fixed, don’t let anyone stop you! Whenever you do something to please Allah (swt), just know that He is on your side regardless of the amount of hardship you have to go through! Also, if you are thinking of wearing the hijab, I would recommend you read a book called ‘Does My Head Look Big In This?’ by Randa Abdel-Fattah. The story is about a 16 year old girl who decides to wear the hijab resulting in different reactions from different family and friends and how she copes with it. Such a brilliant book!!

Insha’Allah, for me, today is truly the beginning to the rest of my life.

Also in the UK, the AS/A2 results came out today, I hope everyone got what they wanted and deserved. If you didn’t do as well as you would have liked, don’t forget whatever happens, happens for a reason! So keep smiling! 🙂

‘What’s the point starving yourself for a whole month?’

As the Islamic month of Ramadan comes to an end, I just wanted to take this time to explain the real reason behind fasting. Most of you may already know, but we are always in the learning process. I’m sure at some point in a Muslim’s life they have been asked why they fast by people belonging to other faiths. Before I begin, let me take this time to clarify that this is not me criticizing those people. The point of this post is to simply teach those who may not know.

In Islam there are 5 pillars which are the foundations of the Muslim life thus making it compulsory for every Muslim to follow. These are: Shahadah (the belief/confession of faith), Salat (prayer), Sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan), Zakat (charitable giving) and Hajj (pilgrimage in Mecca).

As you can see from above, fasting is also one of the five pillars of Islam, therefore every Muslim around the world is obliged to fast (unless of course they are ill or have a legitimate reason as to why they are abstaining from fast). Fasting means not eating or drinking anything from dawn (Fajr) to sunset (Maghrib). Although in the winter it is a lot easier as the days are shorter, it is still obligatory in the summer heat. For example, this year in the United Kingdom; Muslims had to fast for over 18 hours in a heat wave which lasted for over two weeks. But why? What’s the point starving ourselves all day long?

Well, fasting is not all about just starving ourselves in daylight! There are many reasons why Muslims fasting such as learning self-discipline, becoming spiritually stronger, giving thanks for the Holy Qur’an, which was revealed in this month but the most important reason I would say is that we start to appreciate the shelter and food and drink that Allah (swt) has provided for us and makes us more conscious and aware about the hunger and discomfort that is felt by the less fortunate (currently 1.4 billion people living in poverty in the world). These people have to starve on a daily basis throughout their entire lives. At least when Muslims fast they know that they will eat eventually at sunset, these people living in poverty through their whole lives do not have anything to look forward to. This therefore is meant to enkindle a spirit of sacrifice in the Muslims which leads to giving charity towards the people who are suffering.

Ramadan means something different to every Muslim; whether it helps them become a better person afterwards, if it simply opened their eyes to make a difference to the less fortunate or even if it has helped you make certain life choices that you would probably not think about before (the last one applies to me). However, even Muslims sometimes need reminding that this month means a lot more than just ‘starving’ yourself and as this month comes to an end; close your eyes, think what you have achieved in this past month and try to make a difference in the future.

 

 

 

 

Although we do not know when Eid-Ul-Fitr 2013 is yet, in the United Kingdom, it is either tomorrow (Thursday) or the day after (Friday). If it is tomorrow, an early Eid Mubarak to you all! May Allah (swt) bless you and your families