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BECOMING BETTER MUSLIMS. what ’ s with the colors?. A PRESENTATION BY SALIM YUSUFALI. al-hasnain youth conference 2002. How to become a better Muslim. But why. pray more. shelter an orphan. fast more. be good to your parents. go to mosque. go for Hajj. don’t lie.

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what’s with the colors?


al-hasnain youth conference 2002

how to become a better muslim
How to become a better Muslim

But why

pray more

shelter an orphan

fast more

be good to your parents

go to mosque

go for Hajj

don’t lie

recite lots of qur’an

did we mention stealing?





B U T W H Y ?

3rd Annual Al-Hasanain (a) Youth Conference

Salim S. Yusufali

September, 2002

mu min meets martin
Mu’min Meets Martin
  • Adapted from Even Angels Ask by Jeffrey Lang:
  • Martin:"I don't think that the two major religions in America make much sense.”
  • "I don't think that ANY religion makes much sense. For example, from your religion's viewpoint, what is the purpose of life? Why did God create us to SUFFER here on earth?”
  • Mu’min: (Thinking back to Sunday School Lessons): “Umm…I believe He created us to test us."
mu min is struggling
Mu’min is Struggling
  • Adapted from Even Angels Ask by Jeffrey Lang:
  • Martin: "So your religion rejects the omniscience (Allah has all knowledge) of God, for otherwise, what could He possibly learn from testing us that He does not already know?”
  • "No, that’s not quite it…Yes!! We are created toworship Him!"
  • (With a smile of victory): "Then you must believe that God has needs and weaknesses, for why else would He demand our worship? When a human demands our devotion, we label him a tyrant or a psychopath. Do you hold that God has character flaws?"
sorry you lose try again
SORRY. You Lose. Try Again.
  • Go back to the basics and ask WHY?
  • Ameer al-Mu’mineen, Imam Ali (a), says:
    • Allah’s mercy is upon…the one knows:
      • where he is from,
      • where he is now,
      • and where he is going!
where are we from
  • Allah (swt) created us for a purpose:
    • Do you suppose that We have created you in vain? (Qur’an 23:115)
    • I created jinns and humankind only so that they may worship me. (Qur’an 51:56)


  • What is “worship” (`ibadah)?
  • How do we worship Allah?
  • Why should we worship Allah?
where are we from what is worship
WHERE ARE WE FROM?What is worship?
  • Worship of Allah involves:
  • BELIEF: that we are absolutely, 100% creatures that are grateful and dependent upon a Creator who controls all aspects of our life, but who gave us FREEDOM in this world to fulfill a RESPONSIBILITY
  • PRACTICE: living our lives in accordance to our beliefs

Belief Practice

where are we from how do we worship allah
WHERE ARE WE FROM?How do we worship Allah?
  • Imam al-Husayn (a) explains the verse
    • I created jinn and humankind only so that they worship Me (Qur’an 51:56)
  • as
    • I created jinn and humankind only so that they know and understand Me
  •  True worship of Allah (swt) = gaining knowledge of Allah (swt)

Knowledge of Allah

where are we from how do we worship allah1
WHERE ARE WE FROM?How do we worship Allah?
  • How to gain knowledge of Allah (swt):
  • Reflect upon His most perfect Names
  • Following the guidance (Qur’an, Prophet, Ahlul -Bayt) He has given us and understand where we are (more later)
  • Practice those acts of worship which he has prescribed that will help us to believe in Him
where are we from why do we worship allah
WHERE ARE WE FROM?Why do we worship Allah?
  • Worship does not benefit Him.
  • Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an:
    • He who PURIFIES his soul/spirit/self is SUCCESSFUL (Surat al-Shams)
    • (The one who is successful) remembers the name of his Lord and says his prayers. (Surat al-A`ala)
  • Worshipping Allah (swt) leads us to:
    • Self purification,
    • Success,
    • Fulfilling the GOAL OF LIFE (more later)
the whole works
  • No picking, no choosing
  • Belief in Allah
  • Belief in the oneness of Allah
  • Belief in the Qur’an and its rules
  • Belief in Prophet and Imams
  • Pray, fast, give charity etc
  • Be a good person
where are we now
  • At least 10 times a day, we say to Allah:
    • GUIDE us to/along the straight path: AL-SIRAT AL-MUSTAQEEM (Surat al-Fatiha)
  • What is Al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem?
  • What forms of guidance of Allah (swt) can we enjoy?
  • If we are free to walk along the Path, what is our responsibility?
  • What is the eventual destination of the Straight Path (that is, WHERE ARE WE GOING?)
where are we now what is the straight path
WHERE ARE WE NOW?What is the Straight Path?

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. (Your math teacher & Common Sense)

  • Al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem is that particular way of life that makes the most sense and that takes us most directly from where we came and where we are going
  • As we walk upon it, our belief and practice get stronger and stronger UNTIL…
  • Took a wrong turn? Al-Tawbah is the solution.
where are we now what is guidance
WHERE ARE WE NOW?What is Guidance?


  • Allah (swt) has answered and will answer our prayer from within and without:
  • Inner guidance: aql (intellect): ability to think and come to conclusions
  • Outer guidance: Guides and examples in the form of prophets and Imams (a)
  • Imam Ali (a) says:
    • I am al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem.
where are we now what are our responsibilities
WHERE ARE WE NOW?What are our responsibilities?
  • Allah (swt) says:
  • Surely we have guided human being to the path. It is up to him whether he will be grateful or disbelieving (Qur’an 76:3).
  • With freedom comes responsibilities:
  • Fulfilling the purpose of our existence
  • Fulfilling the trust put on us
  • Establishing justice
  • Working towards the perfection of this society
  • To be human
  • Be grateful to God and serve Him
where are we going
  • The average life span in the United States in 1990 was about 75 years (National Institute on Aging).
  • Everyone shall have a taste of death. (Qur’an 3:185)
  • The hereafter (al-aakhirah) is a REALITY that has already been created. Allah (swt) has described two extremes:
    • JAHANNAM (Hell)
    • AL-JANNAT (Garden of Heaven)
    • What is the goal of life?
where are we going jahannam hell allah forbid
WHERE ARE WE GOING?Jahannam (Hell) (Allah forbid!)
  • …As for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies as well as their skin. And for them are whips of iron. Every time they wish to run away in anguish, they will be forced back in, being told, "Taste the doom of burning!" (Qur’an 22:20-22)
  • Eventual destination of one who steps off of al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem in this life. Al-Rahman gives what is requested…
  • Inspires fear and a longing to escape from such a punishment – enough fear to prevent one from doing certain things in life, even if one would otherwise want those things
  • Is the purpose of life to ESCAPE from Jahannam?
where are we going al jannat garden of heaven insha allah
WHERE ARE WE GOING?Al-Jannat (Garden of Heaven) (insha’Allah!)
  • Allah will admit those who believe and do good deeds to Gardens beneath which rivers flow. There, they shall be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their garments there will be of silk. (Qur’an 22:23)
  • Eventual destination of one who walks along al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem in this life. The reward given by Al-Raheem.
  • Inspires desire to gain such pleasures – the more worship we do, the better the rewards
  • Enough to prevent one from doing certain things in life, even if one would otherwise want those things
  • Is the purpose of life to gain ENTRANCE into Al-Jannat?
where are we going the purpose of life
WHERE ARE WE GOING?The Purpose of Life
  • Worship of the elite is done not solely out of fear of hell or desire for heaven
  • Allah is worshipped because He deserves to be worshipped – whatever is with Allah is BETTER than what we can get anywhere else
  • Imam Ali (a) said:
    • I have not seen anything except that I saw Allah with it, before it, and in it.
where are we going the purpose of life1
WHERE ARE WE GOING?The Purpose of Life
  • Peace of paradise not restricted from those who live in this world
  • Allah (swt) says:
    • The one who is among those who are near to Allah (al-muqarrabeen) is happiness, bounty, and a garden of delight (Qur’an 56:88)
    • Indeed in the remembrance of Allah lies the tranquility of the heart (Qur’an 13:28)
  • Imam Ali (a) says of the Ahl al-Bayt (a):
    • Our bodies are in this world, but our hearts are in the gardens.
  • Story of Prophet (s) and companions who feared being hypocrites
where are we going the purpose of life2
WHERE ARE WE GOING?The Purpose of Life
  • What does the Qur’an say?
    • Surely we belong to Allah, and to Him is our return.(Qur’an 2:156)
    • And to Allah is your eventual destination (Qur’an 35:18)…
    • O’ human being, it is to your Lord that all your efforts are directed, and you will meet Him (Qur’an 84:6).
  •  The goal of life is ALLAH (swt).
where are we going the purpose of life3
WHERE ARE WE GOING?The Purpose of Life
  • What does human nature (Fitrah) tell us?
    • Human being always craves MORE.
      • More beauty
      • More power
      • More knowledge
    • What is the extent of this search and desire? PERFECTION.
    • Where can the Ultimate Perfection be found?
  •  The goal of life is ALLAH (swt).
where are we going the purpose of life4
WHERE ARE WE GOING?The Purpose of Life
  • Since Allah is the goal of life:
  • Increasing Belief/Faith + Practice is what we do along the way
    • Gain a perfect understanding of Tawheed and put that understanding into practice
  • We work towards human perfection by yearning towards the Most Perfect, and attaining all that the soul can aspire to
    • Perfect balance of powers and instincts – individual justice
    • When we ask, Allah will help us attain this goal
okay so what s next
OKAY…SO,What’s next?

Remember Allah during salat

Read and reflect on the Qur’an

Fast, and be a guest of Allah

Give charity and be purified

Establish a just society

Become better Muslims!