Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How To Become A Muslim

All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe. May peace and blessings of Allah be upon Mohammad, His last messenger.
The purpose of this hand-out is to correct a false idea spread among those willing to adopt Islam as their faith. Some people have a wrong notion that entering into the Islamic fold requires an announcement from the concerned person in the presence of high ranking scholars or shaikhs or reporting this act to courts of justice or other authorities. It is also thought that the act of accepting Islam, should, as a condition, have a certificate issued by the authorities, as evidence to that effect.
We wish to clarify that the whole matter is very easy and that none of these conditions or obligations are required. For Allah, Almighty, is above all comprehension and knows well the secrets of all hearts. Nevertheless, those who are going to adopt Islam as their religion are advised to register themselves as Muslims with the concerned governmental agency, as this procedure may facilitate for them many matters including the possibility of performing Hadj (Pilgrimage) and Umrah.
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion ordained by Allah for all human-beings, then, one should pronounce the "Shahada", the testimony of faith, without further delay. The Holy Qur'an is explicit on this regard as Allah states:
"The Religion in the sight of Allah is Islam." (Qur'an 3:19)
In another verse of the Holy Qur'an, Allah states:
"If unyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire)."(Qur'an 3:85
In addition, Islam is the only religion prevailing over all other religions. Allah states in the Holy Qur'an:
"To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety:..." (Qur'an 5:48)
Mohammad, the Prophet of Allah (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him), said:
"The superstructure of Islam is raised on five (pillars): testifying that there is no God (none truely to be worshiped) but Allah, and that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayer, paying the Zakah (poor-due), fasting the month of Ramadan, and performing Hadj".
The Shahada can be declared as follows:
The English translation is:
"I bear witness that there is no deity (none truely to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah",
However, it would not be sufficient for anyone to only utter this testimony oraly either in private or in public; but rather, he should believe in it by heart with a firm conviction and unshakeable faith. If one is truly sincere and complies with the teachings of Islam in all his life, he will find himself a new born person.
This will move him to strive more and more to improve his character and draw nearer to perfection. The light of the living faith will fill his heart until he becomes the embodiment of that faith.
What would be next after declaring oneself a Muslim? One should then know the real concept underlying this testimony which means the Oneness of Allah and meet its requirements. One must behave accordingly, applying this true faith to every thing one speaks or does.
What do the words of the "Shahada" signify? The significant point which every Muslim must know very well is the truth that there is no God (deity) to be worshipped other than Allah. He - glory be to Him - is the only true God, Who alone deserves to be worshipped, since He is the Giver of life and Sustainer and Nourisher of mankind and all creation with His unlimited bounties. Man must worship Allah, Who alone is worthy of worship.
The second part of the Shahada (i.e., Wa ash-hadu anna Mohammadan rasul-Allah) means that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the servant and chosen messenger of Allah. No one must have two opinions about this matter. In fact the Muslim has to obey the commands of the Prophet (PBUH), to believe him in what he has said, to practice his teachings, to avoid what he has forbidden, and to worship Allah alone according to the message revealed to him, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by Allah.
What is the meaning of worship? It simply means rendering sincere service, showing reverence for Allah. In a deeper shade of meaning, it implies total submission and complete obedience to Allah's commandments both in utterances and actions of man whether explicit or implicit.
Worship fall into two categories:
Visible (manifest or outward)
Invisible (concealed or inward)
Visible worship includes acts such as uttering the two parts of the "Shahada", performing prayers, giving Zakah (the poor-due), recitation of the Holy Qur'an, supplication, adoring Allah by praising Him, purifying our bodies before prayers, etc.
This type of worship is associated with movement of the parts of the human body.
Invisible worship is to believe in Allah, in the Day of Judgement (in the Hereafter), in the Angels, in the Books of Allah, in the Prophets of Allah, in the Divine Decree of destiny (that good and bad are determined by Allah alone).
This type of worship does not involve movement of parts of the body but it surely has bearing on one's heart which subsequently affects one's way of life.
It should be borne in mind that any worship not dedicated to Allah alone will be rejected as one form of polytheism and this causes apostasy from the Islamic fold.
The next step for a newly revert to Islam is to purify himself by taking a complete bath. He should then resolve to comply with the principles and rules of Islam in their entirety. He should disown all forms of polytheism and false beliefs. He should reject evil and be righteous. Such rejection of evil and being righteous is one of the equisites of the motto of Islam - that is, Laa Ilaha Illallah.
Allah states in the Holy Qur'an:
"... whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy Hand-hold, that never breaks..." (Qur'an 2:256).
We have to consider that when we declare from our heart that "there is no god (deity) worthy to be worshipped but Allah", it implies on our part love, devotion, faith and obedience to the rules of Islamic legislations which are legally binding on all Muslims. It is a requirement of "there is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allah" to love for the sake of Allah and to reject for the sake of Allah.
This is the firmest anchor of belief which materialise the meaning of "AL WALA" and "AL BARA". It means that a Muslim should love and be loyal to his Muslim brothers. He should, as a practice, dissociate himself completely from the unbelievers and refuse to be influenced by them, both in worldly and religious matters.
We conclude with a humble prayer to Allah that may He cleanse the hearts and souls of those who are genuine seekers of truth and may He bless the community of believers. Aameen.
This is an ammended copy of "HOW TO BECOME A MUSLIM" originally prepared & published by Cooperative Office for Call and Guidance - Riyadh.
For more detailed information about Islam, please contact the nearest Islamic center in your area.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Aren't We Being Over-sensitive?

The publication in The New Straits Times of the Non-Sequitur cartoon strip showing an image of a cartoonist advertising “Caricatures of Muhammmed While You Wait”, with the caption “Kevin finally achieves his goal to be the most feared man in the world”, has brought such a tremendous reaction from the Malaysian Muslim public that you start to wonder if most people understand the cartoon at all.

To me the cartoon wasn't making fun of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) nor did it display any sign of deriding Muslim sensitivities. It was actually lampooning the whole caricature episode that is gripping the world.

The cartoon's creator Wiley Miller is well renowned for satirising the American right wing establishment in his cartoons. He has never displayed any antireligious leanings in his work.

Our wholesale banning or censorship of any cartoon or writing which happens to mention the name of the prophet is sending a confusing message to those in the West trying to understand the Muslim sensitivity. If we give a knee jerk reaction to every little prod, the message they are getting is that Muslims are over-sensitive, or worse still, have no sensitivity at all.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

If They Could Have Their Way.
The dress code for female staff.
Click here for animation

Picture by Mydigisatire

Here? In Malaysia?

I couldn't believe it at first. A multinationally owned five star hotel forcing its female accounts director to resign just because she decided to fulfill her religious obligation of covering her hair while at work.

In France, maybe. USA? Yeah, they're scared of female suicide bombers. But here in Malaysia? You better believe it. It's in the papers.

After Habsah Jaafar told the circumstances of her dismissal to the public the Renaissance Hotel management issued a statement saying she was not sacked because of the tudung issue but because of another matter between her and the Hotel management which shall remain secret because revealing it would put her in a bad light.

What rubbish. How convenient. While denying the allegations they cast aspersions on the character of a Muslim lady. If what she had done was so bad why did the hotel offer to take her back?

Why not come all out with it? After all these are serious allegations of religious discrimination at the workplace. It looks like they've been caught with their pants down and are clutching at straws to cover themselves up.

The hotel chain has been operating here in Malaysia for a long time. The management should be well aware of the religious obligations of its employees. Why does it insist on being Islamophobic?

Actually the whole episode is just the tip of the iceberg. Many have complained about the hotel industry.

When an female applicant who wears a tudung go for a job interview a question she'll be asked would be, 'would you be ready to take off your tudung when you're at work?' If the answer is no, that would usually be the last question for the applicant. Thank you, we'll get in touch.

Discriminated against in a country where the Official Religion is Islam. Here? In Malaysia? You better believe it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Breath Of Fresh Air

It is most refreshing to read the letter written by Dr. Sarah Haniza Abdul Ghani from Muslim Professionals Forum to the New Straits Times (16th Feb 2006) addressing the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Amendment Bill 2005.

As she rightly pointed out, criticisms and comments on Syariah or Islamic Law should only be made by those who are well versed in the sources of the Syariah.

Too often these days you find that just about any Hassan, Ah Kow or Sammi is freely allowed to air his comments in the media when a Syariah issue is in the limelight. I mean, you don't ask just anyone you meet on the street about the effect of cracks on a support structure of an overpass on its ability to withstand stress do you? You consult a qualified structural engineer for that.

So shouldn't we leave the matter of Syariah law implementation in the hands of the experts?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Here's a site Muslims might find handy. You know sometimes you come across a food product like a chocolate bar or something and you're wondering if it's halal.
Usually you look for the Halal logo on the label. If it's there you can be fairly confident that it's okay to eat. But sometimes you wonder if the certification has expired or if the logo is genuine.
All you need to do is to surf to the Halal Jakim website, and click on the Halal Directory link. From the menu on the left hand side of the page click Barcode. Just enter the barcode of the product in question(this is usually a 13 figure number) and voila...you get the name of the product, the name of the manufacturer, the halal status and its expiry date.
If the product has no Jakim certification it will give a "no record found" message even if it has a certification from another Islamic body.
You can also do an enquiry on the list of halal products manufactured by a company by clicking on the Syarikat (Company) button. This will also give the details of the company like its office and e-mail address. This might come in handy in case you have a complaint or suggestion about a product.
But suppose you don't have a computer handy. And I don't think you would be lugging your laptop around with you when you're shopping at Giant or Carrefour unless you're an ultra nerd (in which case you would'nt be wasting your time shopping offline anyway).
Relax. Everyone's got a handphone, right? (Yes, even ultra nerds!). I have to salute Jakim for getting this spot on.
With SMS just type out HALAL<>(Barcode of product) and send to 32728(DAPAT). You'll get the Halal status of the product within a few seconds. Cool.
But watch out though. I still haven't found out the cost of each SMS sent or received.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Over 36 years ago the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was established in Rabat, Morocco by the leaders of the Islamic world with the aim of liberating Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa from Zionist occupation. This was in the wake of the torching of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Zionist elements in occupied Jerusalem on 21 August 1969.


Among the aims of the Organization under its Charter is to:-
"Coordinate action to (a) safeguard the Holy Places and
(b) support the struggle of the Palestinian people and assist them in recovering their rights and liberating their occupied territories."


After 36 years the Palestinians today remain oppressed and Al-Aqsa Mosque is under the threat of demolition. To top it off there is the Wall shutting out the livelihood of these forgotten people with the ultimate aim of making Jerusalem the Capital of the state of Israel.


Malaysia has been closely linked to the OIC since the very beginning of its formation. The late Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first Prime Minister was also the first Secretary General of the OIC. Malaysia's Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar is now the term Chairman of the Islamic Summit.


No we don't. No, we don't see anything being done about Palestine, not Jerusalem not even Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The OIC Charter remains just another charter...That's what I see.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Muslims all over the world know when they must make a stand. When the Prophet (SAW) is made the subject of ridicule and caricature in some newspapers in Europe, millions all over the world rose up to protest. Except in Malaysia that is.
Being a group of exemplary moderates that we are, the Muslims here (or should I say the Malays) tsk..tsk..around and announced that we must 'remain calm'. While neighbouring Indonesians shouted their lungs out at the Danish Embassy we Malaysians waited for our leaders to come out with some statement of protest or something. As usual none was forthcoming from any of our Muslim ministers.
The West talk about 'freedom to exercise free speech' when asked why the papers published the provocative anti-Islamic cartoons. What a load of bull! Would these same people make fun of the Jewish Holocaust or even suggest that they doubt its claims publicly? I don't think so. Why? Because in most Western countries publicly challenging Jewish 'Holocaust' claims will lead you to a prison sentence.
You don't believe this? Just ask Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front Party who challenged Jacques Chirac for the French Presidency in 2002. Le Pen was fined twice (among other punishment) to the total amount of US$250,000 for saying that Hitler's 'gas chambers' was a 'minor point' in the history of the Second World War. That's what you get for treading on Jewish toes in Europe.
Not satisfied? Ask David Irving, the British war historian who is sitting in prison in Austria accused of denying the Holocaust. And there are many others.
The point is this is not about freedom of speech or freedom of the press as the Danish Prime Minister Russmussen claims. Should he be talking about freedom when the Danish government has got more than 500 troops occupying Iraq together with Bush's butchers? There seem to be a bigger agenda here.
Christopher Bollyn of American Free Press thinks the whole thing has a more sinister motive of advancing the 'clash of civilizations' among Europeans. His article can be read here. The indications are he is spot on. The aim seems to be to increase European polarization and hostility towards Islam. The only winner to emerge out of a clash between Western and Muslim sides would be the Jewish Zionists. In other words Israel will be stronger just as the September 11 event has shown.
At this moment, for Muslims the wisest way to respond is to take a leaf from the Jewish book. Through the pocketbook. Get the Denmark goods off the store shelves. Notice how quickly the Danish government reacted when some of their international firms complained of the drastic drop in sales in Muslim countries. In the West Big Business dictates to the government. You don't believe me? Just look at the U.S. The Jewish Businessmen have got Bush by the balls.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Muslim New Year.
In between my 12 hour day job and 7 hour sleep time I get about a couple hours to let my little brain roam free. Sometimes this can be a little dangerous. Why? Because I tend to muse on subjects which are of no economic benefit. Which means it's not going to help put food on the table. However there is one particular topic which keeps bugging me every year. It's about the Muslim calendar.
Yes, that Islamic calendar that most of us lay Muslims know about, use regularly, but hardly know how it came about.
Ya, ya I knew the second Khalifah Umar Bin Khatab (RA) had it drawn up and used extensive throughout the Islamic world by the year 638 CE. But by that time it was already 16 years after the Hijrah or the Journey that the Prophet (SAW) made from Mecca to Medinah. Which means it was already the Muslim year 16 A.H.(Anno Hegirae, Latin for 'in the year of the Hijrah').
So Umar's administration did not actually invent or start the use of the Islamic calendar. The people of that area were already using lunar months to indicate dates well before the Prophet's time. What Umar actually did was to standardise and rationalise the various, and at times conflicting, dating systems used during his time. He did this by fixing the starting point for indicating actual dates and start numbering the years.
So Muharram 1, 1 A.H. or the first day of the Islamic calendar was calculated back to correspond to July 16, 622 C.E. Many people confuse this date as being the date of the Migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medinah. From Hadiths or Traditions the day that the Prophet arrived in Medinah from Mecca was 12 Rabie Al Awal which corresponds to September 23, 622 C.E. For conversions between C.E.(Gregorian) and A.H.(Hijrah) dates click http://www.islamicity.com/PrayerTimes/convert.asp.
So what's the significance of all this, you may ask. Nothing much really except it gave me a chance to read up on things. You get a few side information like the earliest date of Islamic calendar for which a Julian (Gregorian) calendar date is exactly known is 9th Dhul-Hijjah, 10 AH, which corresponds to March 6, 632 C.E. (Friday), when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) performed his last and farewell pilgrimage to Mecca.


In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
I started this blog as a way of putting my two cents in on dicussing current events affecting Muslim life in Malaysia in particular and in the world in general. Now not at any time do I claim to write as an expert in Islam. I leave that to the Scholars and Ulamas on websites like Islamonline.net, Islamweb.net and other similar sites. Mine is just a layman's view on things affecting my life as a Muslim.
If any of my views are shown to be against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the tenets of Islam I hereby rescind it and seek Allah's forgiveness. Comments are most welcome but give the lad a break, ok? No nasties or name calling.
Aw, thanks.