Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An intellectually stimulating night with Professor Tariq Ramadan

Have u ever been so inspired and intellectually stimulated that u feel your spine is tingling??Ha3....sounds exaggerating but seriously I am NOT. Last night was one of those moments. And I am pretty sure I am not the only one feeling so enlightened.

Alhamdulillah, last night we had the privilege to listen to Professor Tariq Ramadan's lecture in UIA.
Together with 2,500 people. MasyaAllah. Kudos One Heart Creative Solution. We look forward to more lectures with great speakers ;-)
The topic was "In the footsteps of the prophet; How Muslims should contribute to the world".
I am a huge fan of Tariq Ramadan. I love his straight forward no nonsense style. The speech was so inspiring. Apart from him looking so suave like James Bond, and sounded 100x more intellectual that James Bond.....ahakkkksss...sorry can't help it ;-), plus some French accent peppered with fluent Arabic, it's difficult not to listen to the man. I am just so grateful to listen to him in person. There is so much wisdom.

I am sharing some of the stuffs. Bits and pieces that I managed to gather. In between waking up Hajar and waking up Emily. And answering Medina's questions. It is definitely not be the same with listening to his lecture. I hope the recording of the lecture will be uploaded soon. Nevertheless, here are some of the points from his lecture.

We have in the prophet the best example. Rasulullah's success in spreading the message of Allah involved few stages.

1. Before getting his first revelation, Rasulullah (pbuh) was known as the "Sadiqul Amin". Which means The Truthful & Trustworthy. He was trusted even before he became a prophet. Which emphasizes the importance of great character.

2. He was chosen because he was consistent in every steps. He was a good man even before he became a prophet. He was very humble. Humbleness is the true state of humility. And he was not happy with all the wrong stuffs that were happening in his community. Hypocrisy is being content with not doing. Being complacent.

3. He has specific objectives. He knows what he wanted to achieve. He wanted to deliver the message.

Following the example of Rasulullah (pbuh), we need to follow a few steps to contribute to the world.

STEP #1;
Change the way u look at things in a spiritual way.

Change the way we look at nature.

Have u ever wondered why most of the earlier Quranic verses, eg. those in Juz Amma (the last chapter of the Quran) revolves around nature? Waddhuha...the morning sun, wasshams...the sun, etc etc. Allah is calling us to look around us. To observe nature. Observe nature as a GIFT from Allah. The more u see, the more humble u feel. The more u thank Allah.

Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which God sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds subjugated between the sky and earth — [here] indeed are signs for a people who thinks.

Observing and appreciating nature is the starting point of humility. People who abuse nature are not treating nature as a gift. They are treating it as their own property.

Taking heed from this, teaching kids (or non Muslim) about Islam should start with nature. Show them the signs of Allah's existence. Allah's mercy and Allah's knowledge. Not the halal and haram. The do's and don'ts. It's very common for us to start teaching Islam to our kids by reprimanding.
"Don't do this"
"Don't do that"
"U will go to hell fire"
"If u do behind my back Allah knows. Allah is watching u. U will go to hell fire"
We need to change our approach. I have heard this from Imam Afroz Ali too. Do not start teaching Islam with the gory stuffs. Not only it will freak out your kids, it will freak out anybody!! Allah is the MOST merciful. There is so much great things to talk about our Creator before we get to the subject of hell fire and punishment. Talk about the good stuffs, about heaven, about Allah's mercy etc etc. Feel the love first. Islam is not just about halal and haram. Rasulullah (pbuh) didn't start spreading his message with halal and haram. He started with himself. He walk the talk.

Allah is NOT monitoring your mistake. He is watching closely your INTENTION. Which is a HUGE difference. Coz sometimes, your intention is good, but it doesn't translate into great outcome. Or good deeds. And sometimes your action got misunderstood and criticized by human. But Allah knows your intention. And He rewards you according to your intention.

Change the way we look at poor people.
The poor people are neglected by the powerful. The way u r loved by the poor is the sign u r loved by Allah. Think about the story of Bilal ibn Rabbah. The black Muslim. A black slave in an Arab community. Think about his position in jannah.

We all come from the same source. We are all children of Adam. We are all created from dust. So we are all the same. GET IT? This was his exact words BTW ;-) 

There's no racism in Islam. So those of u who still thinks Malay should be treated special because we r Malay, do u get it?? The best among us is the one with the deepest faith (taqwa). That's the only thing that can increase our level in the eyes of Allah. Not our race. Or our wealth. Or our lineage.

Rasulullah (pbuh) did so many things that weren't the norm in his society. He challenged the status quo even before his prophethood. He changed the way the Arabs look at things.
Rasulullah (pbuh) changed the way the Arabs look at women.

Before the advent of Islam, the Arab Pagans had no respect for women. They buried their daughter. They considered the birth of a daughter an evil and bad omen.

Rasulullah (pbuh) changed that. He has so much respect for woman. He married a divorcee. A woman much older than him. Khadijah was his pillar of strength. The first person he looked for when he received the revelation was his wife.

Rasulullah (pbuh) changed the way the Arabs look at children.
Rasulullah (pbuh) used to kiss children and loved them very much. Once he was kissing children when a Bedouin came and said, "You love children very much. I have ten children and I have never kissed one of them." Rasulullah (pbuh) replied, "What can I do if God takes away love from you?".

Behave accordingly.

Once our perspective changed, our heart will change, and our behavior will change.
Understanding with heart breeds humility. Understanding with mind breeds arrogance. The classic example is the story of iblees. Iblees refused to bow to Adam coz he's made out fire and Adam was made out of clay. He think he's better. Rationally, he was right. Spiritually, he was wrong. I can so relate to this. In my line of work, I see so many people become arrogant with knowledge. A Muslim must strive to understand with heart. The more knowledge u acquired, the more humble u become. As it show u the greater power of Allah the Almighty.

There are few misconceptions about Islam among Muslim.
1. When it's against the West it's Islamic.
2. When it's difficult, it's Islamic.

This is not right. Islam is not about being HARSH. Islam is the message of mercy. Rasulullah's way of da'wah was about making things easy for people. He educated people by the way he was. His character. His good manners. Not by preaching the halal and haram.

He spoke indirectly about the brouhaha on the usage of the word Allah by the Chritians in East Malaysia. He asked the audience; Why so insecure?? It doesn't matter which word u use.
God in English
Dieu in French
Allah in Arabic
Why must we get unnecessarily emotional when somebody used the word Allah? To a Muslim, there is only ONE God. There is no God but Allah. The one and only. My God is your God. Allah is not just God for the Muslim. He said, we have so much inferiority complex that we need to make a big brouhaha to monopolize the word. Lets monopolize the good deeds instead.

Rasulullah (pbuh) has 4 qualities;
We need to continuously assess each of these qualities in ourselves to be the best ummah.

Not confidence in himself. It's good to doubt ourselves from time to time. Confidence that Rasulullah (pbuh) had was the confidence in Allah. The concept of tawakkul alallah. Not doubting Allah. We need to nurture this confidence in our heart.

His first reveleation was Iqra'...Allah said READ. Being illiterate he answered I cannot read. But eventually he read. With the help of Allah. Anything is possible. We have to have the confidence in Allah in everything that we do.

Prof Tariq shared his story. After 20 years of giving lecture, he's always asked doesn't he get tired?
He answered; Yes I am tired. Muslim community is tiring. There's always someone who is not pleased. Someone who is not happy.

He sarcastically said; I bet in this hall tonight, there are some people who come here solely just to find out how good I am. Whether I am up to their expectation.

It can be very disheartening, but in the end, he will go back to Allah. And his trust in Allah. That keeps him going.

Be ambitious. 1400 years ago, Rasulullah (pbuh) defied the odds and unite the mankind. He changed the world. With Allah's will we can change the world too. In our own capacity. Whatever skills u have, be the best in whatever u r doing. 

Ask ourselves; In which way am I contributing to the society?

The best jihad is word of truth in front of tyrants. Tyrant here means those with authority. Be at the forefront of your kid's education. Nurture your kids to be courageous to speak up for justice.

In striving to make a difference, there are 2 things we need to remember;

1. The concept of khilafahtullah fil ard. Man as the steward of Allah on earth.
Remember we don't own ANYTHING. The air we breathe, the nature around us, the animal around us, the house we live in, our materialistic wealth, our family, our kids, etc etc etc. NEVER think it belongs to us. It belongs to Allah. Given to us on loan. And we will be accountable for every single thing.

2. Remembrance of death.
It reminds us this life is limited. It reminds us to live life the best way we can.

And along the journey, there are challenges ahead;

1. Education
Without education, there will be no humanity. The root word of Rabb, (God) is tarbiyyah. Which means education. The first education of Rasulullah (pbuh) was changing his perspective. When educating our kids, stress on meaning. NOT just ritual. Educate them to dig in the meaning of doing things. Not just excel in knowing how to. He spoke about discernment. Knowledge + Understanding = Discernment. The essence of education is not only to master the know how. But to understand the meaning of it. Then only we will be able to produce a "dignified citizen". Parents need to be at the forefront of the kids' education. There are so many challenges in raising kids nowadays. In the era of pornography and social media. We need to protect the kids with knowledge. NOT with ignorance.

2. Be at the forefront.
Regardless of whatever skills u have.

3. Brotherhood.
We are all brothers and sisters. We need to serve the humanity. Regardless of religion. It's important to show solidarity for people who suffered and being oppressed. One of the problem with Muslims nowadays is our antenna only spike up when it concern our fellow Muslims. Singularity is wrong. It's not right for us to support marginalised Muslim ONLY. If a Jews is innocent, he is innocent. If a Muslim is guilty, then he is guilty.

Reaching out is a responsibility. We are all brothers and sisters in humanity. Before condemning people and asking what would happened to them, ask ourselves about our responsibility of reaching out. Have we done enough? Get busy fixing our weaknesses and leave Allah to decide the fate of others.

4. Nature.
Where are we when people are discussing about global warming? Have we forgotten the concept of stewardship on earth? The concept of khilafahtullah fil ard. Start in our daily life. Go green. Recyle. Reduce wastage. He thinks fast food is problematic. Eating too fast is problematic. Eating too much is problematic. Ramadhan is coming. He thinks the fundamental philosophy of Ramadhan is resistance to consumerism. Make it a point to eat less in Ramadhan. Eat less and think more. Not eat more and sleep more. We think Xmas is being too commercialized. We don't realize that's exactly what we are doing with Ramadhan. It's no longer spiritual. It's all about ritual, cultural and excessive consumerism.

5. Culture
What is our culture? As a Malaysian. This becomes very challenging with globalization. Everything is mixed. We hardly knows our culture anymore. He believes culture is important. He thinks not all music is haram. He argues that rejecting music put us in denial. We are colonizing ourselves. He thinks a bit of entertainment is OK. Balance is the key. To feel good is halal. As we strive for the here after, we should not forget our share in this world.

Muslim should not nurture the victim mentality. And we must believe God is not far from us. The fact that we r thinking whether God loves us or not, or the fact that we were in the lecture hall listening to his lecture, are signs that we r not far from Allah.

He ended the lecture with the beautiful recitation of du'a. I actually missed this coz we left during the Q&A. My friend was talking about it. I found the link today. Very beautiful indeed.
There were moments during the lecture when people get very inspired and started clapping. He was very upfront. He said; Stop clapping. Start doing something. If there is one thing that he repeatedly asked throughout the lecture, it must be his plea for us to do something. The world is plagued with so many issues. Everybody can do something. Start the journey by being kind to ourselves. Learn to forgive ourselves. Pray Allah will grant us rahmah. Let's make a difference. InsyaAllah.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rays of Faith; Day 2. Day of debunked beliefs.

Day 2;
Pillar 4; Belief in Allah's messengers. 

It's also the day where the sheikh debunked some of my beliefs.
Here's the thing. It's not a blame game but my parent only started talking to me about religion aggressively when I reach adulthood. A tad too late really. And I am pretty sure many of us are in the same boat. The boat of ignorance and taking religion for granted coz we were born Muslim. So my Islamic foundation was shaped from what I learned from the teachers in school. All this while I never really give a thought to most of the stuffs being taught. Especially pertaining to religion. Just swallow whatever the teacher said and regurgitate the exact facts & figures during exam. And I always aced my Islamic studies' exam. If u memorized all the facts, u will ace the exams. No critical thinking needed for Islamic studies. U don't question. U don't challenge. U don't verify. U just accept. Coz it's religion. Sighhhhh....it's so wrong.

Debunked belief #1:
In school, we were taught there were 315 messengers (rasool) and 124,000 prophets (nabi). And we memorized that there is a difference between prophet and messenger. Prophet is the one who received the revelation from Allah but not obliged to spread them. While messengers received the revelation and were responsible to spread the message to the people.

And it's very common for us to hear people citing the following hadith;

In Saheeh al-Bukhaari it is narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
Convey from me, even if it is a verse.

So have u ever wondered, if it's highly encouraged for us to spread whatever knowledge that we have, even if it's a verse from Rasulullah (pbuh), would it be weird for a prophet to receive revelation from Allah and just kept it to himself?
We discussed in details the hadiths and Quranic verses related to this matter, and we concluded that there is no difference between a messenger and a prophet. A prophet is the one who's been told. Once they received the revelation from Allah there were a prophet. Once they started spreading the message, they become the messenger. So all prophet IS a messenger.

The number of prophets and messengers come from this hadith:"Hadeeth of Abu Dharr: The Prophet (saw) was asked about the number of Prophets and messengers. He replied that there were 124,000 Prophets among whom 315 were Messengers. [Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, At-Tabaranee]

But most scholars agreed this is a very weak hadith. Some considered it a munkar type of hadith because it includes (Ali son of Yazeed) as one of the narrators and he is a weak narrator.

Anyway, there are 25 prophets named in the Quran.
Pic is from here.

There are difference of opinion on the status of Luqman and Khidr whether they are prophets. Based on the evidence, Sh Waleed think Luqman was a wise man and Khidr was a prophet. But the actual total number of prophets is not known. There are also some scholars who think Maryam, Hawa and Sarah were prophets. But based on the evidence, the syeikh didn't agree.

Debunked belief #2:
I am sure some of u have heard the teachers telling our kids the Muslim will go to heaven the non Muslim will go to hell fire. Sounds familiar?
Well, now u can tell your kids, that's not right. Check out this verse.

Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger. (17:15)

The verse clearly said that disbelievers will not be punished until they receive the message. On the day of judgement, Allah will send them a messenger. And they will be rewarded accordingly based on whether they accept or reject the message. Besides, we are not the judge to tell who go to heaven or hell fire. Only Allah knows. I remember Sheikh Hussein Yee said, we shouldn't call a disbeliever non Muslim. They are just not Muslim YET. We never know how they will end. For all we know, they might end up better than us. Should always remind ourselves and be careful not to have this "holier than thou" mentality. Imam Afroz Ali said, instead of thinking a disbeliever or a sinner will go to hell fire, we should instead ask ourselves: "Will I go to hell fire for not doing anything to bring him to the right path?"

Why did Allah send us messenger?
They were sent to guide us. To help us make a life while making a living. To help us make sense of our life. To protect humanity from humanity. To help us put justice in place.

We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice.

One important thing to remember is all the prophets and messengers have NO divine attributes. There are many verses in the Quran stressing on the divine issue because throughout history human is known to worship idols.

And We did not send before you, [O Muhammad], any of the messengers except that they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you [people] as trial for others - will you have patience? And ever is your Lord, Seeing.

They were given miracles to support them. They were infallible (maksoom). But they did make mistake. Because they were human after all. In the Quran, Allah corrected Rasulullah (pbuh) at least 5 times. So how can they be infallible when they made mistakes? Due to their infallibility, Allah will correct them immediately. Infallibility means Allah protect them from continuing doing the mistake.

Syeikh Waleed spend quite a bit chunk of the day discussing the last messenger, our Rasulullah, Muhammad (peace be upon him). 
We discussed about the prophet and his actions (sunnah). This is important coz we need to understand, do we follow everything Rasulullah did? Or we only follow certain things? If we selectively follow, where do u draw the line between what and what not to follow.

The sunnah (action) of Rasulullah (pbuh) is divided into 3;
1. Action related specifically to him.

eg; He married 9 women. Or he used to do continuous fasting. For several days without breaking his fast.
These were actions granted permissible specific to him due to his status as the messenger of Allah. BTW, Sh. Waleed did elaborate about the wisdom behind Rasulullah (pbuh) marrying 9 women. Some of the women were chosen by Allah. Not by him. And many were married to him for a specific reason. One the wisdoms behind the marriages was we have 9 personal documentation of the personal life of Rasulullah (pbuh). One of his greatest assets was his beautiful character. He was one person whom his personal life was more beautiful and much greater than the person that he potrayed to the outside world. Just because he married 9 women, it doesn't mean everybody can start doing the same too.

2. Action done for specific reason. Due to his position in the community or due to specific circumstances.

eg; Rasulullah (pbuh) declared war. Due to his position as a leader. So if u r a leader, and faced with similar circumstances, then u can follow his sunnah. But if u r not a leader, and do not have the authority u cannot simply declare war anywhere anytime. Another example is Rasulullah (pbuh) wore a ring. Coz the ring was his stamp seal. So if u r a leader who need to use the stamp seal, u can follow. But if u r not a leader, then there's no point to follow him wearing a ring.

3. Action done as part of his culture or his personal preferences. 
It is not sunnah to eat with hands, or ride a camel to the masjid, or dress in a certain way UNLESS there is a hadith stating it is recommended or has a certain reward.

Rasulullah (pbuh) said that dates are the best food to break fast with.
He also told people to grow their beards.
He also said not to drag clothes and that it will be punished.

These are sunnah to be followed because Rasulullah (pbuh) clearly recommend us to do so.

According to Sh Waleed, the sunnah that we need to follow are the sunnah that Rasulullah (pbuh) did as part of explaining the religion. How he live his life as a Muslim. We should honor and respect the sunnah.

He told us a very interesting story about one of his teachers. While giving lecture to a group of students (which include the sheikh) in a mosque, the teacher was summoned by a VVIP. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Instead of scurrying to the Crown Prince, the teacher just turned to the Crown Prince and made a signal for him to come over and sit next to him. And the Crown Prince obliged. Sh. Waleed was in awe of the boldness of his teacher. And later he found out from the teacher..."How can I stop and attend him (the Crown Prince) when I am teaching u about Rasulullah (pbuh)? No human should be honored greater than him. if I am teaching u other subjects I would have stop, and go and attend the Crown Prince".

Another story he related to us was also about one of his teachers. Who was in great pain, on his death bed dying due to cancer. And while Sh Waleed was helping him putting on his shoes to go to the toilet, the teacher reminded him..."Right feet first, then left feet". Such a trivial matter to us. But not to them. It's sunnah. They honor the sunnah so close to their heart until their last breath. Rasulullah (pbuh) is their role model in every part of their life.

Hmppphhh...I should really put more effort in this. Over the weekend, Luqman went to a youth camp in Janda Baik with Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim. Coincidentally, one of the short lecture was Sunnah: The Natural Way. Check it out. Less than 10 minutes ;-)
Over the weekend, we attended a family wedding. After the solemnization ceremony, the bride's family invited Sheikh Hussein Yee to give a short tazkirah (lecture). It was the first time I saw people did tazkirah in  a wedding.
I am a HUGE fan of Sh. Hussein Yee. My kids are a fan too. He believes very strongly in living your life according to the Quran and sunnah. No innovation (bidaah).
After the short lecture on the rights of the wife in Islam, he spoke about some sunnah that was practised by Rasulullah (pbuh) during a wedding. One of the sunnah is the husband should, at the time of consummating the marriage with his wife or before that, place his hand on the front part of her head, mention the name of Allah Most High, and pray for Allah's blessings.
Sheikh Hussein Yee guided the groom reading the prayer. "O Allah, I ask You for the good in her and the good with which You have created her, and I seek refuge in You from the evil in her and the evil with which You have created her."
{Allaahumma innee as'aluka min khairiha wa khairi maa jabaltaha 'alaihi wa a'oodhubika min sharriha wa sharri maa jabaltaha 'alaihi}
[Aboo Dawood and others. Al-Bukhari in "Af'aalul-'Ibaad", Aboo Dawood, Ibn Majah, al-Haakim, al-Baihaqee and Aboo Ya'laa with hasan isnaad ...]

So simple. Yet so beautiful. Don't u think so?? Sniff2 ;') We should strive to make the sunnah of Rasulullah (pbuh) natural. And once it become part of our life, it's really a beautiful thing. Insyaallah.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Learning the phases of the moon with OREOS

Today, we kick started our Ramadhan campaign with learning about the phases of the moon.
As I explained to them the different phases, Medina had a surge of creative juice flowing and started scribbling.
The earth, sun, moon (with craters), stars and Medina the astronaut.
Emily learned the phases in a yummier way. I got the idea from here. So cool right?? ;-)
Kids had fun. Especially the Oreos part.
This is our version ;-)
So now, what do u do with all these Oreos? Chuck them in the Shimono blender of course and have a very tasty Oreo smoothie.

Rays of Faith; Day 1

As a born Muslim, I memorized The Pillar of Faith ever since I was very2 little. I think most people do. And I "think" I know what it means.

After attending Rays of Faith, I realized I knew very little. Almost close to nothing. Rays of Faith: Doctrines of Faith III is a 4 days course spanning over 2 weekend. It explores in details the last five of the six pillars of Islamic faith:

1. Belief in Allah (this is not covered in this course)
2. Belief in Angels
3. Belief in Divine Books
4. Believe in the Messengers
5. Belief in the Day of Judgment
6. Belief in Al-Qadar.

It's my first time attending a course by Al-Maghrib Institute. And the journey to understand matters of the unseen began.
The instructor for the course was Shaykh Waleed Basyouni. He's really great. He's engaging enough to hold my attention for the whole day on such a complex matter of the unseen. I particularly love his style of teaching. There was a very thorough discussion on all the available evidence from the Quran and hadith on each pillars. It make me think critically before accepting and believing. In the era where there is so much information available, especially pertaining to faith and religion, it's very crucial to verify the source of the information.

BTW the shaykh is a licensed scuba diver too. Awesomeness huh?? ;-)
The venue; Faculty of Business & Accounting, University of Malaya.
I have learned so much from this course. So the great stuffs really outweighed the shortcomings. But if I can suggest some improvement to the organizer, one of the things that get on my nerve was probably the venue. No offence to UM people, but this place is soooooo vintage lah weiii!! I know this makes me sound so diva, but seriously...sitting on that bench from 10am-7pm is no joke okay!! :P

Anyway, back to the course. There is no way I can share everything. Especially when I was trying to absorb every single thing Sh.Waleed was teaching. And some of the stuffs were really2 deep to me. By afternoon, my head was throbbing. Info overloaded...hahaha. Nevertheless, it was a very mind blowing session to me. I learned loadsss. Learned new stuffs that challenged my present belief.

So although I am very2 nervous to share, I am writing down my key takeaways here to help me remember better. To keep the momentum going. And to make it easier for me to cascade the knowledge to my children. It's definitely by no means an indication of me knowing lots of stuffs. The truth is probably the contrary. As I am writing strictly from my notes, and am definitely no expert in such matter, please verify the source of the information.

So here we go. Bismillahirrahmaanirrahim.

Day 1 ;
Pillar 2; Belief in the angels.

Angels are created from light. One of the most common misconceptions is angels have no physical attributes. Based on the Quran, they do. And we learned how others view the angels. The views of the philosopher, the pagan Arab, the Christian & the Jews.

One of the interesting thing I discovered is theologically, scholars like Avicenna and Al-Farabi have a very different view on existence of Allah and angels. It caught me by surprise...I was like...say whaaaaatttt??especially when I named my son after him...and I used to think he was a very pious Muslim. Some scholars like Ibn Taimiyyah considered them deviated from Islam due to their views. I tried to read more on Avicenna's metaphysical philosophies. It's just too deep for me. For now, I will just take it as he has a different view, which might not be right. Having said that, despite his theological differences, we cannot deny his vast contribution in the field of knowledge. He is still one of the greatest product of Islamic civilization. And one of the most significant and influential philosopher of the pre-modern era.

So Mr O, we are keeping the young man's name as it is okay?? ;P

Generally, all angels are created to worship Allah. Angels are never tired of their worship. They commit no sin and have no free will. Specifically, each of them have their specific functions. eg; Jibreel reveal the messages of Allah to all the prophets, some of the angels are responsible to get the world going....the rain, the wind, the mountain. There are also angels to protect the human. Every one of us is assigned with 4 angels to protect us. From every harm in this world. We are exposed to dangers in this world 24/7. These angels keep us safe and protect us from harm.

They are of an enormous number. Beyond our comprehension. One hadith quoted that the number of angels descending to earth on Lailatul-Qadr alone is as many as the number of sands on earth.
Pic is from here.

Then Sh Waleed asked us an interesting question; "Considering the enormous number of angels (and other beings) in this world who do nothing besides worshiping Allah, has it ever occur to u how amazing it is that Allah still have space to love and shower us with his mercy & blessings?? Despite our shortcomings? And our insistence to remain a sinner?"

Have u ever thought that way?? Why Allah is so kind to us? If u consider the vast number of the angels and Allah's creatures, we are so unimportant right? Why bother with us? The recalcitrant one?

Because Allah is the most merciful. It's just another proof of the vastness of Allah's mercy. To add on to the blessings that we get from Allah, Allah also created angels to pray for us. Angels love the righteous and pray for them. Angels pray for u for doing simple things like teaching and seeking knowledge, visiting friend for the sake of Allah, act of charity, coming early to the mosque and praying on the first row, consistently going to the mosque, filling the gap in the praying row in the mosque, eating sahur before fajar (dawn) during fasting month, taking wudu' (ablution) & reciting ayatul-Qursi before sleeping, istighfar after prayer...etc etc etc. Simple stuffs really. Only if we know. And bother to do.

And angels pray against the wrongdoers. e.g; Those who badly treated their parents. Disbelievers and hypocrites. Those who curse the companions (prophets). etc etc. We also discussed some hadith pertaining to the angels. I learned that in every house of a believer, there will be angel of "rahmah" whose job is to pray for your blessings and forgiveness. And if u have statues & pictures of human in your house, this particular angel will not enter your house. U can put up the photos, it's not a sin. As long as it's not for worshiping purposes. But the angel will not enter. So u will be deprived of the extra prayers from the angel of rahmah.

We also discussed about jinn and shaytan (satan). Is shaytan an angel or jinn?

Shaytan is a jinn who disbelieve. Allah created jinn from fire. Like human, the jinn is created to worship Allah. And just like human, the jinn have free will. Means they make choices. Hence, there are believers and disbelievers among jinn. The good jinn and the bad jinn.

Every human has a qareen from the jinn--i.e shaytan, the intimate companion.

"If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of (Allah) the most merciful, We appoint for him a Shaytan, to be an intimate companion to him" (43;36).

The best weapon to ward off qareen (shaytan) is zikrullah.

Iblees, is the father of jinn. Who refused to bow to the father of man, Adam. And is doomed to hell.
And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam." And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah).(2:34)

Have u ever wondered, isn't it a bit too much for shaytan to be punished with the worst punishment in hell fire for refusing to bow to Adam? He was very pious in worshiping Allah to the point that Allah actually raised his level similar to angel. After all the goodness he has done, he is doomed to hell fire just because of one sin? Is it fair?

Sh Waleed answered; It's not just one sin. It started with one sin i.e arrogance--> refusal to bow--> challenging Allah he will deviate as many human beings as possible--> and eventually the refusal to repent (remember shaytan has the free will, the choice to repent). Each sin leads to a bigger sin. Hence, never under estimates little2 sin. It will only lead to bigger sins.

We also discussed about evil eye and jinn possessing human through magic and revenge. What are they, the difference between them, how to deal with them etc etc etc. The best way to deal with these is the Quran.

Al-Fatihah, An-Nas and Al-Falaq are the most powerful surahs to ward off the jinn and evil eye. Other surah/verse include Ayatul Qursi, Al-Baqarah, Suratul Jinn and As Saffat; 1-15.

Pillar 3; Belief in the book

As a Muslim, we believe in all Allah's books. This include the scriptures of Ibrahim, the Zaboor, the Torah, the Injeel and the Quran. And we believe the Quran is Allah's LAST revelation and the BEST of His speech. Quran is the greatest miracle of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Quran is a miracle in many ways. Interestingly, all the miracles bestowed upon the prophets were relevant to their time. To prove the divinity of Allah. At time of Muhammad (peace be upon him), it's the literature. Being an illiterate, it's impossible for the book to be written by the prophet. Language wise, the structure of sentence and choice of words are of the highest standard. U can definitely tell the difference between verses from the Quran and poetry. The Quran can touch your soul even if u don't understand Arabic. And after listening to the beautiful recitation of Quran by the syakh, I can vouch for that. The syakh shared with us, from his experience in the US, the top reason non Muslim convert to Islam is reading the Quran. One of the example of our time was the conversion of Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens).

There are also precise descriptions of unknown stuffs. eg. scientific stuffs which were discovered only in this millenium.

For example; The 2 ocean that don't mix.

Verses from the holy Quran;
(55:19) He has set flowing two seas that appear to meet.

(55:20) Whereas there is a barrier between them so they cannot encroach upon one another.

(25 : 53) And He is the One Who joined two rivers, this (one) very sweet and freshening and that (other one) very salty and bitter. And He set a barrier and a strong partition between them.

Pic is from here.
These phenomenon can be observed in few places on earth. U can google it up. This particular merger is in the Gulf of Alaska. The phenomenon is due to the different densities of the melting glaciers being composed of fresh water and the ocean which has a higher percentage of salt. Hence, causing it more difficult for the 2 bodies of water to mix.

Then, there is also the detailed description of the fetal development in the Quran.
Man, We did create from a quintessence (of clay). Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest firmly fixed. Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature: so blessed be Allah, the Best to create!

Pic is from here.
How could Muhammad (peace be upon him) have possibly known all this 1,400 years ago when scientists have only recently discovered this using advanced equipment and powerful microscopes which did not exist at that time?

Anyway, the shaykh stressed that it's important not to get carried away with the scientific miracles of the Quran. Quran is a guidance to the soul. Not a science text book. Or Maths textbook. All the interesting discoveries in the Quran is just to prove one point. That the book come to Muhammad from Allah, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. And this proves that Muhammad must have been the messenger of Allah.

Towards the end of Day 1, Shaykh Waleed announced that a non Muslim sister wished to say her shahadah. Masyaallah, this was my first time witnessing this kinda thing.
Pretty surreal. Pretty emotional too ;') What a way to finish the day. May Allah bless u sister.
"I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One, without any partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger."