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Building Bridges: Islam and the West

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  1. Islamand the West?!: More in Common Than You Think Image by: Frits Ahlefeldt

  2. According to Wikipedia, “As of 15 May 2010, the human population of the world was estimated by the United States Census Bureau to be 6,821,000,000”. Of these, more than 1,500,000,000 are Muslims. That’s almost 5 TIMES the population of the United States (309,276,458). That’s a lot of people. In fact, it means that out of every 5 people, 1 is Muslim. * Isn’t it time, then, that we start focusing on what we share in common? Isn’t it time to start building bridges? Shocked? Check out BBC’s article “One in Four is Muslim, study says” published 8/10/09 at

  3. Freedom of Religion • 'Had thy Lord willed, everyone on earth would have believed. Do you then force people to become believers?’ (10: 99) • “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error…” (Chapter 2, Ayah 256)

  4. Equality of the Races O mankind, verily We have created you from a single (Pair) of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous (49:13). Prophet Mohammed said, "O people, indeed your Lord is one and your father is one. Behold, there is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for a white person over a black person, nor for a black person over a white person, except through piety." (Musnad Ahmad)

  5. Justice • “O you who believe!  Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor...” (Quran 4:135) • “Let not the hatred of a people swerve you away from justice.  Be just, for this is closest to righteousness…” (Quran 5:8) • “God commands you to render trusts to whom they are due, and when you judge between people, judge with justice…” (Quran 4:58)

  6. The Sanctity of Life “We ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone slew a person, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole of mankind. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of a whole people.” (al-Ma’ida, 5:32) “ Nor take life which God has made sacred, except for a just cause" (al-Isra', 17:33)”.

  7. Animal Rights • When Prophet Muhammad was asked by his Companions whether kindness to animals would be rewarded in the life Hereafter, he replied, “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature” (Al-Bukhari). • The Prophet also said, “One who kills even a sparrow or anything smaller, without a justifiable reason, will be answerable to God.” When asked what would be a justifiable reason, the Prophet replied, “To slaughter it for food—not to kill and discard it” (Ahmad). • The Prophet is reported to have said, “All creatures are God’s dependents and the most beloved to God, among them, is he who does good to God’s dependents (Kashf al-Khafa’).

  8. Animal Rights Continued… • In different hadiths, the Prophet: - forbade hunting for sport - strongly condemned cursing an animal or hitting an animal on its face • ordered camel owners not to overburden their animals • scolded his Companions for separating a baby bird from its mother • explained to his followers that a person who mistreats animals, no matter how pious s/he may be, may earn the punishment of Hell and that a person who treats animals kindly (no matter how immoral they may be) may earn the reward of heaven • forbade sacrificing an animal in front of another • told farmers to cut their nails lest they accidently scratched their cows while milking them • ordered his followers to sharpen their knives when getting ready to sacrifice an animal for food in order to make the death as painless as possible Stop hunting. No time to delay.

  9. Environmental Rights The Prophet said, “There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift [for which there is great recompense].” [Al-Bukhari, III:513]. He also said, "If the Hour is about to take place while any one of you has a sapling in his hand, which he can cultivate before it takes place, let him cultivate it for he will be rewarded for it.” • Conservation in Islam: “Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (Himself) ungrateful.(Al-Israa: 27)“ "Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) happened to pass by Sa'd as he was performing ablution. Whereupon he said: Sa'd what is this extravagance? He said: Can there be any idea of extravagance in ablution? Whereupon he (the Prophet) said: Yes, even if you are by the side of a flowing river.“(Al-Termithi 427)

  10. The importance of seeking/teaching knowledge (Scholars agree that this is not limited to religious knowledge) • “and say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge’’[Ta-Ha 20:114]  • Prophet Muhammad said: “One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by God…” – (Riyadh us-Saleheen, 245) • He also said: • "God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.“ ( Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422) • “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three – an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1631)

  11. The importance of being moderate • “And We have willed you to be a community of the middle path” (Qur’an 2:143). • Narrated Anas bin Malik: A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, "Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven."Then one of them said, "I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, "I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.“ The third said, "I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever." Allah's Apostle came to them and said, "Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers)."

  12. Rules on engaging in war • "Permission [to fight] is granted to those who are being persecuted, since injustice has befallen them, and God is certainly able to support them [with victory]…” (22:39). • "And if ye do punish them, punish them no worse than they punished you: but if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient." (Surah 16, Verse 126). • "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, and do not transgress; for Allah loveth not transgressors." (Surah 2, Verse 190). •  The Prophet said:“Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people,'' and he mentioned priests, nuns and rabbis. And he said, "Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees and do not poison the wells of your enemies."

  13. Hygiene in Islam • (O you who believe! When you rise up for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads (with wet hands), and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. And if you are in a state of major ritual impurity (janaba), purify yourselves (by taking a bath). (Al-Maidah :6) [Note: Muslims pray 5 times a day at minimum] • The Prophet said: • "Had I not found it difficult for my followers, I would have ordered them to cleanse their teeth before every prayer." (Bukhari) • “Food is blessed when one washes his hands before and after it." (Tirmidhi) • "Five things are in harmony with nature: cutting one's mustache, removing hair of the armpit, shaving the pubic region, trimming one's nails and circumcision.” Once the Prophet passed by a graveyard and heard two people being tortured. The Prophet said, “Indeed, one of them never saved himself from being soiled with his urine while the other would go about with backbiting (to make enmity between friends).” Thus, cleaning oneself after using the bathroom is obligatory in Islam.

  14. “Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The ruler who is in charge of people is a shepherd and is responsible for them. The man is the shepherd of his household and is responsible for them. The woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and child and is responsible for them. The slave is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.”  Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2416; Muslim, 1829.  Rules for Society

  15. Of the rights of parents • [And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve any but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) "ugh," nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord, bestow on them Your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood."] (Al-Israa' 17:23-24) • A man asked Prophet Muhammad "What kinds of deeds are best in the sight of God?" He replied, "To pray on time, to be good and kind to parents, and to struggle in the path of God" (Al-Bukhari).

  16. Of the rights of mothers (in particular) • A man once came to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Your mother’. The man said,’ Then who else?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your mother’. The man said, ‘Then who else?’ The Prophet said, ‘Your mother’. The man asked, ‘Then who else?’ Only then did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, ‘Your father’. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). • It is related from TalhahibnMu'âwiyah as-Salamî who said: I came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I want to perform Jihad in the way of Allah. He asked, "Is your mother alive?" I replied, "Yes." The Prophet then said: "Cling to her feet, because paradise is there." (at-Tabarânî).

  17. Of the rights of children • “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is a great sin.” (17:31) • "Fear Allah and treat your children with equal justice." (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim) • Once a Bedouin saw the Prophet kissing a small kid. Out of wonder he said, “I have eight children but I never kiss them”. The Prophet remarked, “What can I do if Allah has taken away love and compassion from your heart”?

  18. Of the rights of wives • "And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect." (30:2 1). • “And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to those of their husbands) over them as regards to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them.)” [2:228]. • The Prophet said, “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396) • He also said, “The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.”

  19. Of the rights of neighbors • Ibn `Umar and `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Jibril kept recommending treating neighbours with kindness until I thought he would assign a share of inheritance". [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] • Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him not harm his neighbour; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent". [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. • Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) commanded me thus, "O Abu Dharr! Whenever you prepare a broth, put plenty of water in it, and give some of it to your neighbours“.[Muslim].

  20. Of the rights of workers • “ Woe to those that deal in fraud. Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure. But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account? On a Mighty Day.”(Surah Al Mutafifeen; 1) Prophet Mohammed said, "Your brothers are your responsibility. Allah has made them under your hands. So whosoever has a brother under his hand, let him give him food as he eats and dress as he dresses. Do not give them work that will overburden them and if you give them such task then provide them assistance" (Al-Bukhari). He also said, “Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in SaheehIbnMaajah. 

  21. Of the Rights of the Vulnerable in Society • Have you seen the one who denies the Judgment? (1)That is the one who repulses the orphan, (2) and urges not the feeding of the poor (3). (Chapter 107) • The Prophet said: “The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah’s Cause or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all the night”. (Volume 008, Book 073, Hadith Number 035). • Prophet Mohammed said, “"Have mercy on those who are on the planet earth and you shall have the mercy of He who is in heaven." • He also said: “Whoever does not show mercy to the young and honor the elderly is not one of us.”

  22. Of the rights of Non-Muslims in society • Caliph Abu Bakr as-Siddiq wrote to the non-Muslims of Najran: • ‘In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  This is the written statement of God’s slave Abu Bakr, the successor of Muhammad, the Prophet and Messenger of God.  He affirms for you the rights of a protected neighbor, in yourselves, your lands, your religious community, your wealth, retainers, and servants, those of you who are present or abroad, your bishops and monks, and monasteries, and all that you own, be it great or small.  You shall not be deprived of any of it, and shall have full control over it… • The Prophet said, “Whomever kills a person with whom we have a treaty, will not come close enough to Paradise to smell its scent, and its scent can be found as far as forty years of travel [away].” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari) Will Durant writes: ‘At the time of the Umayyad caliphate, the people of the covenant, Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Sabians, all enjoyed a degree of tolerance that we do not find even today in Christian countries.  They were free to practice the rituals of their religion and their churches and temples were preserved.  (Durant, Will: ‘The Story Of Civilization.’ vol. 13. p. 131-132.)

  23. Of the Rights of Fellow Muslims • “The Believers are but a single Brotherhood”(49:10) • The Prophet (pbuh)said: “The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy, and compassion is that of the body; if one part of it complains, the rest of the body joins it in staying awake and suffering fever” (Muslim). • The Prophet also said, “None of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”.

  24. Part II: Morals and Manners in Islam Abu Darda’ reported that the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) said, “Nothing is weightier on the scale of deeds than one’s good manners”. (Bukhari) Abu Huraira said the Prophet said, “If one has good manners, one may attain the same level of merit as those who spend their nights in prayer”. (Bukhari)

  25. Honesty • “O you who believe!  Fear God, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” (Quran 9:119) • “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise.  In addition, a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person.  Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before God, as a liar”. (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

  26. Humbleness • Give good news to the humble-hearted." ( Al-Hajj; 34) “Do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exulting overmuch; surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster;” Quran 31:18 • “Nor walk on the earth with insolence: for thou canst not rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height”(17:37) • Prophet Mohammed said, “Anyone who has an atom of pride in his heart will not enter the Garden." A man then asked, "What about the one who likes to wear a handsome robe and good shoes?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, "Surely Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride is to reject the truth and to view other people with contempt.”   (Abu Dawud).

  27. Patience • Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, (155) Who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return":- (156) They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance. [2; 155-157] • "By (the token of) time (through the ages),verily man is in loss except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and exhort people to truth and to patience and constancy" (103 : 1-3)

  28. Forgiveness • "...who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).'' (3:134) • "Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don't punish them).'' (7:199) • "The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (41:34) • The Prophet said to Ashaj Abdul-Qais (May Allah be pleased with him), "You possess two qualities that Allah loves. These are clemency and tolerance.”[Muslim].

  29. This is just a glimpse of what Islam is about. So….are we really that different, after all?