Monthly Archives: January 2014

Qalam Seminary Blog: The Major League Mindset

By Aatifa Shareef

We started upping our game this week. We started both Uloom ul Qur’an and Aqeedah, two advanced subjects that are actually really basic: they are the sciences behind the Qur’an and our beliefs. We also started our student-led MSA events, events beyond the regular weekly halaqas and khutbahs. This is taking place right after the Stand & Deliver Khateeb and Public Speaking Workshop, so our speaking skills are expected to be top-notch. And a few of the students just participated in the Rad Talks event, a Muslim version of TED talks, a conference for sharing bright ideas and collaboration with other activist-minded Muslims. We’re no longer just sitting and being spoon-fed information, but we’re working hard to research, learn, and then present information to the rest of our classmates and others. Our world is expanding, and it’s both frightening and exhilarating to know that we are able to tackle it head on.

The only way we’ll be able to be effective though is to actually understand people. The majority of the people we interact with willingly attend whatever events we attend, so it’s important to know where they are coming from. Up until now, we’ve been attending the halaqas and MSA events, meeting and talking to the people around us. At Stand & Deliver, each of us was given a group to work with. We introduced ourselves to each other to know what other kinds of activities people are participating in to do their part in serving Islam. Some people were newly religious Muslims taking the workshop to talk to their friends more effectively about Islam. Others were doctors who wanted to feel comfortable talking to their patients about Islam. And others were students trying to build the confidence to stand up to their classmates and teachers and present the correct image of Islam. Seeing so many people all working to bring people closer to Allah makes my efforts seem not so isolated and frightening anymore. But I realize that each of us is just a player on the same team, passing the ball amongst ourselves, all working towards one goal. May Allah reward all of our efforts in this world and the next.

 

Qalam Seminary Blog: Rebirth

By Wasif Khan

We had just completed the “chapter of I’tikaaf” in our study of Fiqh. Next up was Kitabul Hajj, and the Shaykh gave us a beautiful introduction to the book. I enjoyed the introduction, as I was able to relive some of the moments I had just experienced from Hajj, Alhamdulillah. Until the point where Shaykh mentioned, “So inshaa Allah, we will have Wasif give us an overview of the rituals of Hajj tomorrow!”

The preparations began; Mina, Arafaat, Muzadalifah, Jamaraat, Tawaaf, etc. It was great to relive the experience all over again. The following day, I was able to present the timeline of Hajj and also shared some of my own personal experiences with the class. Below, I’d like to share one of those reflections with you.

It was the 7th Day of Dhul Hijjah, the day before Hajj officially begins. We were stationed in Azizia, just a couple of miles from the Ka’bah itself. Where our group leader, Shaykh Omar had shared with us the following similarities between “Birth & Hajj”. He termed it the “Rebirth”. This reflection was based upon the Hadith of the Prophet Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam.

حَدَّثَنَا آدَمُ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا سَيَّارٌ أَبُو الْحَكَمِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا حَازِمٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ
‏ “‏ مَنْ حَجَّ لِلَّهِ فَلَمْ يَرْفُثْ وَلَمْ يَفْسُقْ رَجَعَ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ ‏”‏‏

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 1521 | Book 25, Hadith 9 | Vol. 2, Book 26, Hadith 596

The Shaykh eloquently depicted the similarities between the birth of a newborn and Hajj, and how this time around it was a better “rebirth”. Of how it wasn’t the first time we were at Arafaat. Before we were born, and before we were sent to this world we had already been on the plains of Arafaat where Allah SWT took the covenant from each and every soul as it is recorded in Surah Al-A’raaf – “Am I not your Master?” And we all replied, Of course you are, and we testified”. However, this time around during Hajj as we stood on the plains of Arafaat and begged for forgiveness it was much more meaningful. This time around, it was only by special invitation. And those who made the trip, answered the call of Ibraheem A that was made centuries ago.

After Arafaat we all headed over to Muzdalifah, where all the Hujjaaj are obliged to spend the night under the sky. This resembled when all the souls gathered in the skies after taking the covenant. The next step in Hajj was to return to Mina and head over to the Jamaraat to stone the pillars that symbolize Shaytaan. This step in Hajj resembles the time of birth, where Shaytaan pokes the newborn to show his enmity. At that time, we were vulnerable to Shaytaan. However, as we walk towards Jamaraat to stone the Shaytaan as we say Allahu Akbar “Allah is greater”, Shaytan is now the vulnerable one!

After a baby is born, the parents shave the head of the newborn. Likewise, the Hujjaj make their way to the Barber shop to have their heads shaved/trimmed. Lastly, we offer the Udhiyah/Sacrifice for the newborn and this is also resembled during Hajj as one of the last rituals.

SubhanAllah, what a beautiful rebirth! Now, the wise words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad S, are so much more meaningful…”Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.”

 

Qalam Seminary Blog: Perfection in Imperfection

By Afia Baig

This past week at the Qalam Seminary we started the tafseer of Surah Noor by Imam Al Qurtubi. This is our third tafseer out of the five we plan on covering throughout the year. As we discussed the consequences of zina [adultery/fornication] and what Allah (SWT) decreed for those who commit zina, we also discussed the time this was revealed and who it was revealed for. It was obviously at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S), but it’s important to remember that his immediate audience was our beloved sahaba, the people who in our eyes did everything right. But they were human too, so they did make mistakes. It was their recovery after these mistakes and their tawba, their turning back to Allah after having turned away from Him, that made them remarkable. Even in times of great adversity, as we learned in the context of this surah, they still showed restraint and they forgave without compromising justice for the greater good.

The Qur’an is a timeless book. It is just as relevant to us today and as it was relevant to the sahaba at the time of the Prophet (s). The most amazing part is that the rules in the Quran are less than 10% of the Quran. The remaining 90% is building character, community, and emphasizing the importance of reaching our potential as human beings. It is important when reading about the rules in the Quran to not take them out of context without appreciating it as a whole in terms of human development. This is what we learn from the sahaba. They internalized the Quran as a whole and used it to better themselves as they applied the rulings. They weren’t perfect beings, but that’s exactly what makes them perfect examples for us. They were perfect in seeking forgiveness for their mistakes when they did make them, a great reminder for us to never forget that Allah (SWT) is The Most Forgiving and The Most Merciful.

 

Qalam Seminary Blog: The Educated Activist

By Muaz Inam

Many responsibilities rest on the shoulders of American Muslims. We struggle with balancing the needs of upholding a tradition of scholarship while remaining relevant in the face of modernity. Often the lines are blurred and our attentions are misappropriated. We are faced with two distinct classes—a class fixated on upholding a very scholarly tradition, but devoid of relevance and incapable of addressing the social challenges of a modern American Muslim community; and a more prevalent class of American born Muslim activists with an unparalleled passion towards social reform, however because they are not grounded in the traditional normative religious sciences, they are ill-equipped to meeting those challenges in an Islamic light.

Qalam Institute’s full-time program seeks to fill the gaping hole and bridge this gap. The program is designed to attract students who are activists in their communities, and equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the challenges of the American Muslim community. By no means will our students be proclaimed scholars of the religion, rather activists and leaders in their communities who are well-versed in the normative tradition and well-equipped to address the social needs of their communities in an Islamic light.

This is achieved through the triumvirate of normative Islamic scholarship, community service, and leadership workshops, all of which are indispensable for the development of the American Muslim activist. Under the tutelage of Sheikh Abdul-Nasir Jangda, every class increases and broadens our understanding of the normative religious sciences (Qur’anic exegesis, jurisprudence, the prophetic biography, etc.). We are also familiarizing ourselves with the community through weekly sermons and talks to local community centers and college campuses, as well as engagement with local service initiatives like the Ma’ruf Refugee Center. Qalam Institute’s students are often visited by Muslim activists from countries and cities all over the world who share with us their initiatives and projects. We learn of their challenges, benefit from their insight, and grow inspired by their success.

Qalam Institute also hosts weekly workshops for the students which are themed around community leadership. Workshops will cover topics ranging from Managing Debt and Public Speaking to Event Planning and Conflict Resolution. These workshops shed light on the Prophetic tradition of service. It provides for us a holistic understanding, and brings relevancy to the traditional sciences of Qur’anic exegesis, jurisprudence, prophetic biography, etc.

The first few months of the program have been overwhelming, but they were incredibly insightful. I pray that through the completion of this program I and my fellow students will be a means of great benefit to our communities. We pray that this initiative will be a means of bridging the gap and creating a new class of well-grounded activists who are well-equipped to address the pressing social and spiritual needs of Muslim communities across America.

 
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