Saturday, January 26, 2019

Making Faith Make Sense: Presentation

( Note: The video below is a presentation in which we explore the questions regarding the place of faith in the modern world, in an age when faith can be viewed as irrational and unscientific. )


Saturday, January 19, 2019


Below you will find recordings of our recent presentation in Las Vegas community on different aspects of Islam. Descriptions are at bottom of videos.

Grace in the Desert presentation part 1

Summary: An introduction to the five pillars of religion, fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam, the role of the Qur'an. At minute 11:12 sound quality improves due to use of microphone. Some of the laws of Islam are also explained, such as dress code, dietary guidelines, Jihad, terrorism.

Grace in the Desert presentation part 2

Summary: Q and A session, which explores Islam in different cultural contexts, reasons for the spread of the faith ( minute 1:25), charity (3:35), recommended English translations of the Qur'an ( 4:28), prayer method during situations such as flying ( 5:50), Non Muslims being prohibited from being in Makkah and Madinah ( 7:47), is it necessary to learn Arabic? ( 9:32), Sunni-Shiite differences (10:42), gender segregation in worship ( 12:55), religious freedom in the Muslim world and as expressed in the religion itself ( 16:10), the initial revelations to the Prophet ( 19:20), , addressing the idea that Islam borrowed from Judaism ( 21:33), Qur'an being a difficult, repetitive book ( 24:40), addressing war and relationships with Non Muslims (26:56), Explanation and demonstration of the Adhaan or prayer call ( 28:49)

Saturday, January 5, 2019


( Note: The following is an edited version of our Salaat al Jumu'ah Khutbah delivered 1/4/19 at Masjid Ibrahim, Las Vegas, Nevada. The opening Hamd, as well as the expressions of peace for the Messengers of God, have been omitted here.)

The Path as described by the Qur'an

لَہٗ مَقَالِیۡدُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ۚ یَبۡسُطُ الرِّزۡقَ لِمَنۡ یَّشَآءُ وَ یَقۡدِرُ ؕ اِنَّہٗ بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عَلِیۡمٌ
 شَرَعَ لَکُمۡ مِّنَ الدِّیۡنِ مَا وَصّٰی بِہٖ نُوۡحًا وَّ الَّذِیۡۤ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ وَ مَا وَصَّیۡنَا بِہٖۤ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ وَ مُوۡسٰی وَ عِیۡسٰۤی اَنۡ اَقِیۡمُوا الدِّیۡنَ وَ لَا تَتَفَرَّقُوۡا فِیۡہِ ؕ

In the Tafseer field, there is a principal known as Tasfeer ul Qur'an bil Qur'an, meaning that the Qur'an is best explained or understood by referencing other places within the Qur'an. Often, this practically means studying the context in which a particular verse or assertion is placed, rather than developing a stand-alone understanding based on a single text. Here, we have a beautiful example of this principal.

" To Him ( i.e. Allah) belongs the keys of the heavens and the Earth. He widens provision to whom He wills, and limits ( as well). Indeed, He is the One knowing all things." ( Q 42:12)
In other words, God is the "owner" of the universe, and as the one who possesses the keys, to open and close doors, Allah does that for whom He wills, in accordance to His plan and wisdom, according to his own schedule. Other texts to recall in these regards include Ayatul Kursiyy (ft.1) and Ayah An-Noor(ft.2).

Next, we are told " He ( Allah) has made you ( O followers of Muhammad) traverse on the same path, in terms of deen (Shara'a lakum min ad deen) which We (Allah) enjoined on Noah, which has been sent to you (O Muhammad), and what has been enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus-establish deen, and do not place division therein.." ( Q 42:13).

These verses are to be read together, as they clearly indicate that Allah opened the doors of spiritual provision to the followers of Prophet Muhammad, the same doors He (soobhaanahu wa ta'alaa) opened for four other prophets.

These four prophets are all associated with safety on some level. Noah and his ark, Abraham's teachings, which-when followed, "save" a person from idolatry, Moses, who led his followers away from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and Jesus, who was leading people away from the traps of anger and self-deception.

To be on that path, the path of maximum benefit and safety, is truly a blessing This is why we should be consistent in  proclaiming praise to Allah for the blessing of Islam (Alhamdulillaahi 'ala Ni'matil Islaam).

The operative word is "path". On this path, there are people ahead of us and people behind us. In this ayah, Allah says to "establish deen, and don't create division therein" (Aqeemud-deen, wa Laa Tatafarraqoo feeh.). 

"Establish" means to build, and building takes patience, intelligence and planning.  It takes team work as well, to establish firmly deen, be it in personal or communal application.

In whatever stage of the journey we are on, we should help each other and remember that it takes patience, commitment, and planning. So have the Niyyah to build up your deen, not only in practice but in particular in thinking right.

Addressing sectarian divisions

The verse (42:13) also asserts that there should be no breaking apart or divisions with regards to deen. This assertion can be taken in a number of ways. We can take it as a command (amr) for unity, meaning not to break up into sectarian denominations, or it can be taken as instructing us to recognize that the prophets and messengers all taught the same deen, and thus, we should not view them as teaching different things, also implying that we should make no distinctions between God's messengers ( Q 2:285).

A reply to the above can be made, pointing out that there are divisions among the Muslim community. This is true, among the Ahlus Sunnah we have different Madhaahib (ft.3), and of course the main sectarian difference being with the Shiites. However, in general these divisions are on secondary points (furoo') and not on fundamental principles(usool) . Thus, all Muslims, of all theological colors, have the same Qur'an, the same pillars of faith, same prayers, and same ethical and behavioral principles.

This is a reflection of Allah's blessing for the deen, a deen which has been completed and protected ( Q 5:3). Thus, in the big scheme of things, the sectarian divisions among Muslims should not be exaggerated.


(1) The "Throne verse" ( Q 2:255), for which see here

(2) ''The verse of God's light" ( Q 24:35) , which describes the reach of Allah's guidance. See here

(3) The schools of jurisprudence only differ in terms of applications of legal methodology, and not really on theological points. There are theological differences between the Sunnis and the Shiites, some of them important, however in terms of fundamentals, both groups share that in common.