Bismillah walhamdulillah,

I recently visited www.digg.com, a website where people can share content from anywhere on the web, and found this article. Very interesting, check it out. (To go to the original article click here)

— Quote

I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome
By: Steven Swinford

THE scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome is to publish a book explaining why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real.

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”.

His book, The Language of God, to be published in September, will reopen the age-old debate about the relationship between science and faith. “One of the great tragedies of our time is this impression that has been created that science and religion have to be at war,” said Collins, 56.

“I don’t see that as necessary at all and I think it is deeply disappointing that the shrill voices that occupy the extremes of this spectrum have dominated the stage for the past 20 years.”

For Collins, unravelling the human genome did not create a conflict in his mind. Instead, it allowed him to “glimpse at the workings of God”.

“When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it,” he said. “But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.

“When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind.”

Collins joins a line of scientists whose research deepened their belief in God. Isaac Newton, whose discovery of the laws of gravity reshaped our understanding of the universe, said: “This most beautiful system could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Although Einstein revolutionised our thinking about time, gravity and the conversion of matter to energy, he believed the universe had a creator. “I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details,” he said. However Galileo was famously questioned by the inquisition and put on trial in 1633 for the “heresy” of claiming that the earth moved around the sun.

Among Collins’s most controversial beliefs is that of “theistic evolution”, which claims natural selection is the tool that God chose to create man. In his version of the theory, he argues that man will not evolve further.

“I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution. If God chose to create human beings in his image and decided that the mechanism of evolution was an elegant way to accomplish that goal, who are we to say that is not the way,” he says.

“Scientifically, the forces of evolution by natural selection have been profoundly affected for humankind by the changes in culture and environment and the expansion of the human species to 6 billion members. So what you see is pretty much what you get.”

Collins was an atheist until the age of 27, when as a young doctor he was impressed by the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients.

“They had terrible diseases from which they were probably not going to escape, and yet instead of railing at God they seemed to lean on their faith as a source of great comfort and reassurance,” he said. “That was interesting, puzzling and unsettling.”

He decided to visit a Methodist minister and was given a copy of C S Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which argues that God is a rational possibility. The book transformed his life. “It was an argument I was not prepared to hear,” he said. “I was very happy with the idea that God didn’t exist, and had no interest in me. And yet at the same time, I could not turn away.”

His epiphany came when he went hiking through the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. He said: “It was a beautiful afternoon and suddenly the remarkable beauty of creation around me was so overwhelming, I felt, ‘I cannot resist this another moment’.”

Collins believes that science cannot be used to refute the existence of God because it is confined to the “natural” world. In this light he believes miracles are a real possibility. “If one is willing to accept the existence of God or some supernatural force outside nature then it is not a logical problem to admit that, occasionally, a supernatural force might stage an invasion,” he says.

— End Quote

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Bismillah walhamdulillah,

Growing up in Jakarta, in a Muslim family, it is not unusual for me to see Muslims doing a congregational prayer. At least in every Friday prayers and Ied prayers, especially Ied prayers where there are a lot more people gathering including Muslim women and children. But when you really look into it and think about it, you realize that congregational prayer really is such a wonderful tradition.

Muslims from every walks of life, lawyers, accountants, teachers, janitors, doctors, barbers, policemen, scholars, farmers, all standing shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction, bowing, prostrating together at the same time. And that is just in the local mosque, and if you look into the Masjidil Haram in Mecca, you’ll find Muslims of all races, from all nations, praying to Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala under one roof, facing one direction. And when it comes to the verse “wa laddhaaaliinn,” they all say “aaamiiiinnn.” Masha Allah.

In one hadith regarding the congregational prayer, Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Make the rows straight, stand shoulder to shoulder and close up the gaps. Give way to your brothers and do not leave any openings for Shaytan. Allah will connect with anyone who connects up the row and Allah will break off from anyone who makes a break in a row.”

In one of his speeches, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, said that the Shaytan or the devil mentioned in the above hadith is actually the devil within ourselves. Of course that is the devil of racism, of disrespect, and of prejudice.

When we talk about there is no racism in Islam, we automatically will quote this verse from The Glorious Qur’an,

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Q 49:13

What a beautiful and meaningful verse, Masha Allah.

Let us take that example from the congregational prayer tradition, and apply it in our everyday lives, respect others, no prejudice, no racism, we are all equal in the face of Allah.

Muslims unite, and spread the truth of Islam, spread the message of peace to all mankind. Barakallah.

Salam alaikum.

Congregational prayer.

Bismillah,

This is my second post regarding music in Islam. The first one is here.

Quote from Shabir Ally regarding the status of music in Islam. I edited the format of the paragraph for better reading.
The following text were taken from http://www.islaminfo.com/new/qa.asp

Question: I play guitar for almost ten years now im trying to become religious and now i am in a fix whether i have to leave the total music? Or will be a sinner if i continue with music. I have read the whole Quran but didn’t find anything straight about leaving music /haram as it is declared about “WINE”. But in some hadis it is told that music is prohibited but specially for instruments with strings.So Please make my confusion clear if there is any qouts /ayat from QURAN about denying music then please let me know.

Answer: A basic principle in Islam will serve as a background to the answer. Classical scholars, in order to guard matters relating to worship from innovations, have adopted the principle that in this area of Islam nothing is permissible unless proven so in a text from the Quran or the Sunnah. On the other hand, in order to allow for growth and change in other areas, they have also held that things are permissible unless proven otherwise by a clear and authentic text of revelation. Hence if music is to be declared impermissible it must be done so on the basis of a clear and authentic text.

As you noted there is no such in the Quran on this subject. As for the hadith, although some texts have been advanced in this regard, as far as I am aware none of them are authentic. Hence we cannot on this basis declare music to be forbidden. On the other hand, we can look at the content, effects, and associations related to various sorts of music and form an opinion of them on that basis, though such a formulation of opinion will not have the force of a clear textual ruling. Some music have clearly bad content, others clearly good, yet others somewhere in between.

The same may be said of the effects the music has on an individual. Does it propel you towards goodness as nasheeds do, or prompt you towards evil? Or is the effect not clear? I mention effect separately from content only to provide another window of analysis, otherwise there is obviously a close connection between content and effect.

Associations also matter. Some music is associated with people who live very unislamic lifestyles. Others with good people. When one is attracted to good people one also becomes attracted to things associated with them. As a corollary to this, when one is not attracted to unislamic lifestyles, one is not attracted to the music and other paraphernalia associated with those lifestyles. Looking at it from the other angle, one may want to avoid the sort of music which may help foster an attraction for people who live very unislamic lifestyles.

In short, if we are to rule something impermissible then it must be done so on the basis of a clear and authentic text, none of which exists on this subject, and individual judgement aided by scholarly advice must play a greater role. As an illustration of this, consider the eating of bananas. We do not have to prove that eating bananas is halal. But if anyone were to claim that it is haram such a claimant will have to furnish the evidence from a text. Yet individuals will have to judge how much and which types of bananas to consume. Too much is bad for health. Individual tastes will prefer some bananas over others. Some bananas are sweet, as are the sweet figs and honey bananas. Others are sour. More to our point, some bananas are as rotten as are some sorts of music. Let the listener beware. Shabir

END QUOTE

Shabir Ally is one of my favorite scholar in the field of comparative religion. If you’re interested in that field and you want to see some videos of the discussions and debates that he did, just search his name on youtube and you will find plenty. I’m not big on debates but those videos are a rich source of information.

Wassalamu alaikum.

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillahi rabbil `alamin, washshalatu wassalamu `ala Asyrafil Anbiya wal mursalin, wa ba`du,

Islam in Indonesia

I’m an Indonesian, I grew up and live in Jakarta until now. I love Indonesia, and alhamdulillah, Indonesia even though it’s not a Muslim country, Islam is Indonesia’s dominant religion with approximately 88%, over 200 million (wikipedia), of its population identifying as Muslims, making it the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world.

The Pancasila [Five Principles] has been Indonesia’s state ideology since independence in 1945. The first principle of the Pancasila promotes belief in the one and unique God, but does not endorse any particular religion.

Islam came to Indonesia through Muslims merchants from Gujarat and Persia in the 13th Century. The merchants established trade links between Indonesia and India and Persia. Along with the trade, they propagated Islam among the people.

Before Islam came, Indonesians were Hindus, Buddhists, and a variety of other spiritual practices that are not recognized as religion but as faith. One of these faiths, Kejawen [literally, “Javaneseness”], is widely practiced. Kejawen refers to the principles for the conduct of life in harmony with society and nature, and is rooted in the pre-Islamic culture of South Central Java. (Mulder 1998)

Black magic and superstition

Indonesians, not all, but many, from modern businessmen to traditional farmers, are very superstitious. Here are some of the local “superstitions” in Indonesia regarding everyday life and the meanings of the omens of Nature:

  • Avoid sweeping the house at night as this would make it difficult to attract luck.
  • If you have a bad feeling when you are about to leave the house–then don’t! As this is a sign that something disastrous might occur while out.
  • Avoid disliking someone intensely while pregnant as this would cause your child to adopt the features of the disliked person.
  • Avoid opening umbrellas in the home as this would result in difficulties in life.
  • Avoid wearing red or green swimwear at beaches as this would result in the wearer becoming a bride or bridegroom to spirit entities (incubus, succubus).
  • It is advisable to keep sacred objects in the home to protect one’s family.

Those mentioned are only a few of them. To add more regarding superstition and black magic. Many Indonesians:

  • Believe in praying to the grave of a certain person to get what he or she wants in life. (i.e. money, love, power, etc.)
  • Believe in sacred objects can give good luck, charm, protection, and wealth.
  • Believe in black magic or “santet” in Indonesian.
  • Go to a “dukun” or medicine man for various purposes, from treating illness, hurting a business rival (voodoo style), or even for duplicating money (of course this doesn’t work, not even with strong suggestion and belief but strangely enough today some people still try it.)

Very superstitious, that when the Asian tsunami and Java tsunami strikes Indonesia in 2004, it was interpreted as evidence that the Gods are not happy with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Islam, Superstition And Black Magic

Yes we learn about ghaib (the unseen) in Islam, but not in a science fictional sense. Many Indonesian horror movies, or any movie that contain a monster, depicts an Islamic cleric who can fly and throws fireballs at the villain. I know how it sounds, but it happens even today. There’s also a reality show here about an Islamic ghost busters, showing a group of people wearing Islamic attributes like turbans performing martial arts moves to cast away the ghosts. How could all those things be on national television? simply because people buy them. There are also magazines and other prints that put news about how the clerics kill a zombie. And since the media plays a very important role in educating the people, it all adds up to the superstitious-ism.

Qur’anic verses are sacred, yes of course, they are the words of God. But many Muslims here treat them as if they are some kind of magic mantra to cast spells like Harry Potter’s “wingardium leviosa.”

In one of the majlis ta’lim (learning house) I studied, the ustadz (teachers) use some kind of inscents for praying, until the room is full of fragrant smoke. They say it’s a means to make the room aromatic and so the angels will come and stay while we’re praying. The majlis also recommends people to take some rocks from the majlis and spread it around their homes, because the rocks in the majlis area is full of prayers and that it will give protection. I studied many great things in that majlis, and I love my guru there (rest in peace), but if using inscents is good for praying and using rocks as some kind of sacred object, surely our prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would’ve promoted them in the Hadiths.

The good stuff is in the basics

There is a big Islamic association here in Indonesia that focus on the preventing of further accretion and superstition of Islam, but we would touch a political discussion if I write about that.

I hope that in this information era, and that the internet has reached most of the people here or at least the leaders, people will stop exposing Islam in a superstitious perspective, and stop thinking that Islam came from Javanese faiths. And people will learn about Islam in the global view. Because really, Islam is a world religion.

For everyone learning about Islam, every scholars would agree, let’s use the Qur’an and Hadith as our foundation, if anything you learn about is not in there, that’s a big question mark.

Bismillahirrahmaanirrahiim.

In the name of Allah most gracious, most merciful.

It is very easy, to say “Laa ilaaha illallaah, Muhammadan rrasuulullaah,” which means “there is no God but almighty God, and Muhammad is His messenger.” It is also very easy to do the testimony to Islam or what we call the shahada and that is to say, “Asyhadu anlaa ilaaha illallaah, wa asyhadu ana Muhammadan rrasuulullaah,” translated “I bare witness that there is no God but almighty God, and I bare witness that Muhammad is His messenger.” Anyone can do that, no problem. But what comes with it, now that’s a different story.

Sheikh Yusuf Estes once puts it like this, when other religions say “join us and you will go to heaven, guaranteed” Islam does nothing like that. It is the only religion in the world that guarantees that it’s followers can go to hell. Well, he’s right, but Islam says there is a way, but it won’t be easy.

Muslims pray five times a day, and must do ablution before each prayer, Muslims fast in Ramadhan for the whole month, Muslims must pay zakah to the poor, Muslims don’t drink alcohol, don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t gamble, don’t eat pork, and must do this and that, yes, it’s not an easy way of life, especially for someone new to Islam.

So in my mind, I wonder…

What if I decided that I want to choose another religion, maybe they have an easier way to worship God. Okay, there are couple of choices that looks promising, but, wait a minute, every time I look closer into that religion, I found no satisfaction. I studied the basics of it, and just through the basics, I knew that there’s something not right in it, either the holy book isn’t in it’s original form, there are contradictions in it, or the system of belief is not personal, you don’t have a direct relationship with God, or you have to pay money, or the concept of multiple Gods, pantheism, etc. I just couldn’t be satisfied, how can I worship the one and only God that way?

I looked and looked and looked, only to find more and more errors and contradictions and I was disappointed.

What happens after that…

Then I got frustrated, started questioning religion, maybe I should just give up religion, stop believing in God, and start to rationalize everything, and think that religion doesn’t make any sense, and think that God is imaginary. Oh it feels good, I feel freedom, for a while.

When life feels empty…

Then I got confused, I got nothing to hold on to. Why am I here? How can the world possibly create itself, by chance? Who created the universe, the sun, the moon, the planets? Who designed our body to work like this, who programmed our brain, who planned our blood flow, can anything in this whole world create itself? ask yourself that question, and honestly, can it possibly?

Those questions are so much stronger and more torturing than asking why God don’t heal amputees? or why prayers sometimes don’t work? or why there are bad things in this world?

I had no choice but to believe in God…

But I still think that Islam is not an easy faith, so I tried to disprove Islam, I looked for mistakes in the Qur’an, yet there are none, I tried looking in the Shari’a, yet everything makes sense, I tried finding bad teachings of Islam and bad teachings of Muhammad (pbuh), yet I just couldn’t find any.

Okay, so I couldn’t fight Islam, I guess I’ll just take a closer look…

I dug deeper into Islam, only to find beauty, and peace. I found beauty in it’s sincere ways of worship, in it’s traditions, in it’s way of life. Suddenly, it becomes easy to do what Muslims do, because you want to do them.

I had no choice, but to become a Muslim. Not an easy way, but a fair and balanced way. Alhamdulillah.

Bismillaah,

I used to be very cautious when it comes to discussions (or debate) about religion, because I was afraid that it might give my iman (faith) a negative impact. I was afraid that I might find and realize the negative side of religion, and as a result, I might leave Islam behind. And yes, the discussions did bring up questions, in my mind, some of them are very difficult to answer at the time. And yes, the questions damaged my iman, a little.

Now, I realize why those questions damaged my iman. It’s simply because of ignorance and I didn’t care enough to find real answers. When somebody told me that hijab is an oppression to women, or when somebody told me that Islam gave no positive contribution to the world, or when somebody told me that Muhammad (pbuh) was a liar, or even when somebody misquoted the Qur’an, I took that information, tried to process it, but there were missing ingredients and one of them was knowledge. When the processing is done, the result was iman damage, for certain.

My iman, weakened, by my own ignorance…

When you replace ignorance with curiosity, you will find knowledge, and when you have knowledge, you will look at things differently. You will look at the world through the glasses of knowledge, and things will be so much clearer. Now with that knowledge in possession, discussions regarding religion becomes a media to strengthen the iman rather than to weaken it. You now know how to separate blasphemy from the truth.

There are some bits and pieces of information about Islam that, without proper knowledge, perspective, and idea of the whole picture of the religion, are easy to manipulate and they can be used against Islam itself.

Some of them are bits and pieces of the history of Islam, some are from the shari’a (law of Islam), and some from Muhammad’s (pbuh) life story and sayings.

There are some issues in Islam that some people call controversial, but when you look deeper into it, it makes perfect sense. If you need some examples, you can start with this book (or free ebook available) called “Answers To Non-Muslims’ Common Questions About Islam” by Dr. Zakir Naik. In that book, Dr. Zakir Naik gives very logical explanations to some of the common questions like polygamy, the veil, and sects in Islam.

Da’wah is a duty

Da’wah, or to invite others to Islam, is our duty as Muslims. In the Qur’an it says:

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” 16:125.

Now, how in the world can we do that without enough knowledge. How can we invite people to Islam when we ourselves have doubts?

Defending our faith

Today it’s so easy to post something anonymous on the internet. Muslim-haters from all over the world write and publish hate posts and spreading lies about Islam. We as Muslims need our knowledge to defend our faith, or at least to guard our own iman.

Acquiring knowledge

There are so many resources you can pick, some are even for free. You can spend more time with your ustadz or Islamic teacher, ask questions in your local Muslim community, read more books, download free lectures available on the net (so many!,) or you can use one of my favorite resource, and that is http://www.youtube.com, believe me, alhamdulillah, our brothers and sisters has made ready for us videos worth watching.

The Qur’an encourages Muslims to learn and acquire knowledge. “He has taught you that which [heretofore] you knew not.” (2:239)

Shadaqallaahul aziim. Wallaahu alam.

Following my last article;

Recently in Bandung (09 Feb 08), West Java, Indonesia, 10 people were killed in a rock concert. A new rock/trash metal band called Beside Band held a concert in a small venue, designed for only 500 people, but more than a thousand showed up. Rumor says the band personnels distributed alcohol to the audience before the concert begun. Can you imagine what happened next? With all the ingredient for chaos available, followed heavy moshing, diving, whatever they call it, people fell down and got trampled.

The 10 people dead were very young, age around 20 years old. That’s just so sad. This is exactly why Islam says be careful when it comes to music.

story in Jakarta Post.

Quote:
“The victim, identified as Entis Sutisna, 23, was a friend of Diki Zaelani Shidieq, who also died in the stampede. They worked together at the Gicitex textile factory in Leuwigajah, Cimahi.

Entis suffered extensive injuries in the stampede, including bruising to his torso and chest.

The stampede occurred during a concert at the Asia Africa Cultural Center (photos of the venue) on Jl. Braga in the West Java capital, held to launch BESIDE‘s latest album, “Against Ourselves”.

Eleven people died when gatecrashers reportedly forced their way into the hall, which was already packed with paying customers.
End Quote
from here

I pray for all the victims, and pray that nothing like this will ever happen again in the future. Amen. Innalilllaahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun.