How I Turned a Simple Trip Into a Long-Term Relationship

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A snap of Mt. Fuji on our way by Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto

About two years ago, an opportunity to travel to Japan emerged from some of the consultancy work I do. Since my approach to preventing violence and extremism is unique and effective (I hope to share something about this soon), and since my background in comparative religions is well known amongst the people I work for and with, there was interest for me to travel and meet with Japanese religious leaders, especially Muslims, and share information and lessons learned. It was supposed to be a simple, straightforward trip, and from a business point of view it was. However, even though I travel frequently, at that point I had never been to Japan, and since this seemed like a onetime opportunity, I decided to make the most of it. …


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The Meknez Hadith Collection-my go-to edition for hadith

I hope that the brevity of this post will be compensated by its great benefit. The Hadith is a vast body of literature within the Islamic sciences and it is all too easy for a student/scholar to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume. For some, unfortunately, this means that they don’t approach it all. For others, tragically, they reject the importance of it all together. However, we know that the two primary sources of our religion are the Quran and the Hadith traditions of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), and therefore we need a roadmap to access them. The list below is such a map produced by one of the Hadith’s greatest servants of the 20th century, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Siddīq al-Ghumārī (d. 1993). This list is not 100% exhaustive, there are other collections of hadith that one could add, but this list as close as you can get to “reading it all.” Even though it might take upward of 4–5 years to get through, reading this list at least once a lifetime should be the goal of every student and every scholar. …


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For many people life is an endless quest for the elusive. We seek success, advancement, and wealth. We crave ultimate and unending happiness through the acquisition of material things. We desire the perfect companion, friend, and lover. The list goes on, and on. Without having a map, however, and without having rules and principles to guide you along the way, this can oftentimes lead to the opposite desired effect: frustration and grief. You never seem to actually get what you want, so you give up believing that the quest is impossible, and the dream is unachievable. However, if you understand that the quest itself is the reward, you can shift your paradigm and dramatically alter your relationship with the things you want. The key is in understanding how to be mindful of the process instead of the goal. …


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Salafis in Egypt protesting……well, whatever….

From the wisdom of David is that the believer knows what they need for their own affairs and is aware of the time in which they live.

Prophet Muhammad (Ibn Ḥibbān)

In the first part of this series I introduced the concept of the Islamologist based on Robert Pirsig’s notion of the philosopholigist articulated in his book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Following this, I began to outline one type of Islamologist; the western academic who studies Islam. My choice in so doing reflects not the chronology of various types of Islamologists, but rather a personal belief that this particular type of Islamologist is the most dangerous kind and that their threat will emerge as the most pressing in the coming generation. With regards to the beginning of the making of fake Islam, this ignoble prize belongs to the fundamentalist/salafi Islamologist. From the first generation of Islam until our time today, this type of fake Islam has plagued, tormented, defiled, and sought to destroy our faith. …


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‘Art Critic’ (close up) — by Norman Rockwell, 1955

Sacred knowledge is religion, so look to who you take your religion from.

Muhammad Ibn Sirīn (Saḥīḥ Musilm)

The American writer and philosopher Robert Pirsig (author of the cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) introduced the term “philosophology” in his book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. He defined it as:

Philosophology is to philosophy as musicology is to music, or as art history and art appreciation are to art, or as literary criticism is to creative writing. …


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The gate surrounding the blessed grave of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

Celebrating the birth of our beloved Prophet ﷺ has been a custom of Muslim communities ever since the time of the Companions. To celebrate and commemorate his birth is to ultimately show thanks and gratitude to God for sending him ﷺ to us as a mercy. There is much to be thankful and happy for on this blessed occasion and over the ages it has served as a source of great spiritual outpouring from scholars and sages to the average pious Muslim. …


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Ṣafar is the second month of the Islamic lunar calendar. There is a weak hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbās that states, “On the last Wednesday of the month [of Ṣafar] there is a continual calamity.” In other hadiths it is mentioned that this is the day during which Pharaoh and his army perished, and the people of ‘Ād and Thumūd were destroyed. Accordingly, there emerged from these texts various supplications and prayers to meet these historic, calamitous events with prayers and devotion. It should be made clear that these devotions, prayers, and supplications are not necessarily based on a specific Sunna, but are themselves compliant with the Sunna since we are allowed to engage in extra devotions and supplications. …


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Shaykh al-Azhar Abdullah al-Sharqawi meeting with Napoleon during the French invasion of Egypt

Inside the field of Islamic law (fiqh) there is a sub-field that deals with Islamic governance (al-siyāsa al-shar’iyya). Sunni Islam is known for a type of quietism in the face of partisan politics, largely structured to ensure the ‘ulamā’s role in high politics and to warn them from becoming entangled in low politics. This is a subfield that rarely gets attention, but whose issues have come more and more to the forefront in recent years. While not the most comprehensive treatment, I find the excerpt below to very interesting and infused with great wisdom if understood properly.

The selection below is taken from the book, al-Manār al-Hādī fī Khaṣā’is Shaykhuna al-Qāḍī, a hagiography of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ al-Qāḍī (d. 1964) written by his khalifa Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jalīl Qāsīm (d.1998). …


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When I was at Princeton, one of my advisors warned me, “earning a PhD is a solitary process.” While writing my thesis indeed was solitary, nothing has been as solitary and lonely as starting a business (or two!). While at times it can be therapeutic, at other times (most unfortunately) it can drive you down a lonely hole of despair. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way! However, one thing I learned along the way is that the lows don’t have to be despair-give-up-and-die lows. You can actually use these moments as lessons and fuel to keep going. One tool I found to aid me through the more challenging times was asking the right kinds of questions. I never really thought about the type of questions I asked myself before until I studied Usul al-Fiqh (the main discipline behind what I call Usuli Islam). When I realized that the early Muslims excelled at asking difficult, challenging, and thought-provoking questions, I realized that the quality of their answers was directly related to the quality of their questions. So, I started asking myself what sort of questions do I ask myself and are there better questions I could ask? …


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The purpose of this article is to provide guidance for Muslims on three topics that present challenges vis-à-vis zakat payments, especially when large amounts of money are involved.

1. Paying zakat on retirement accounts.

2. Paying zakat on women’s jewelry.

3. Giving zakat money to Islamic institutions.

(1) Zakat on US based Retirement Accounts

With regards to zakat on money, the Sharia stipulates three conditions: The minimum zakatable amount (niṣāb) defined as the current dollar (or other local currency) value of 85 grams of 21 karat gold, the passage of one lunar year (al-ḥawl), and complete ownership (al-milk al-tāmm). …

About

Tarek Elgawhary

Reflections on Islam, life, and wellness. www.makingsenseofislam.com

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