Friday, July 11, 2008

Islam, Key to Peace and Happiness (33rd ICNA-MAS Convention 2008 @ Hartford, Connecticut) - Day 1st (Friday, July 4, 2008)

Peace & Happiness: Two Sides of The Same Coin

The first day of the convention started off with main session; Peace & Happiness: Two Sides of The Same Coin. The speaker spoke about what Islam offers to this chaotic world; as a system to eliminate racism issue where real example occurred in Southern India (1981), hundreds of thousands people there embraced Islam in order to expel the caste system existed. In other words, Islam is the global solution and a perfected system of life which bring unity in the society as well as peace and harmony in lives. The speaker, Dr. Muhammad Yunus also mentioned that, Islam means submission to Allah's will, where if one is able to commit it, he/she is entering in Islam completely. Submission also means to believe in Allah and Allah alone, verily, everything comes from Him and will return back to Him, and thus this leads to the status of a submitted believer in which; there's always good for him/her in everything, if it's truly good, he's/she's grateful to Allah, but if comes toil and hardship, he's/she's patient and submissive. A submitted believer, said Dr. Muhammad Yunus, will be in peace with Allah, with him/herself, with person around him/her. He/she will only emanates goodness, and when die, everyone will shed tears, even the earth he/she walked on shed tears for the loss.

As recorded in Al-Quran [Ar Ra'd:15] "And to Allah prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, and their shadows [as well] in the mornings and the afternoons."

Humans are given choice in life which is to choose between right and wrong, hence Allah tests us in many situation to see our judgment. Many of us choose the easier path; living to fulfill lust and unending desire, many too choose to fully submit to Allah, in quest for true happy and happiness in this worldly life and of course the hereafter. One could rose the question: What is true happiness? And the answer lies in the quality of the soul, where it depends ultimately on the degree of development attained by the soul. There will of course no peace and happiness for materialistic mind and heart.

As recorded in Al-Quran [Fajr:28-30] Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], And enter among My [righteous] servants, And enter My Paradise." [8:28] "And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward."

From this we know that, the way to peace and happiness is through Ibadah to Allah and Allah alone..

[61:10-14] "O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment?; [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know., He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence. That is the great attainment., And [you will obtain] another [favor] that you love - victory from Allah and an imminent conquest; and give good tidings to the believers."

Dawah Series; To Educate or To Evangelize

In this session, Sh. Yusuf Estes had talked about the objectives and measures of success in dawah. He initiated his speech by provoking people who give Islam such hard time. He debated that, even though Islam is attacked violently in many ways nowadays, there are still many who embrace Islam, accepting it as a way of life. This make Islam, instead of being diminished and despite setbacks, it comes up roses in the long run. In his speech also, he divided Muslim as a dai'e in three categories. Muslims with information, Muslims with knowledge, and Muslims with wisdom (hikmah). The first Muslim has only information on something that he himself is not doing anything to benefit from it. The next category of Muslim is one who has knowledge thus the ability to do something with it and the last and the best Muslim is he who has the wisdom (hikmah) in dawah and benefit from it and to others as the famous prayer goes "O Allah, grant me patience to bear the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and grant me wisdom to know the difference." The Sheikh also gave an analogy to stress the importance of knowledge in Islam and dawah; just like driving a car, one has to know the rules really well and the consequences of every action he had taken, which can lead to injury and even death. Every knowledge from Al-Quran and hadith have to be understood with knowledge and proper knowledge should come from real scholars, not just books and 'googling'. We should not 'shop' for fatwa, said Sh. Yusuf Estes, by trying to find the best fatwa which fits our desire and needs.

Another speaker who talked in this session and I found very intriguing was Chaplain Yusuf Yee. He is an ex-military who served in Guantanamo Bay in 2003. He was arrested on September 10, 2003, in Jacksonville, Florida, when a U.S. Customs agent found a list of Guantanamo detainees and interrogators among his belongings. He was charged with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. These charges were later reduced to mishandling classified information in addition to some minor charges (source: Wikipedia). He was once being held as prisoner for some time, and was treated Guantanamo-prisoner like. Being the first Muslim Chaplain (Imam) in Guantanamo Bay, he had seen prisoner being tortured physically and mentally, by using religion as weapon. He saw Al-Quran being torn, kicked and urinated and a Muslim prisoner who was told to prostrate in a circle where a satanic-symbol was drawn. He left the US military with an honorable discharge in January. He is active in giving speech about his experience to the public, Muslims and especially non-Muslim ever since and he even wrote a book called 'For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire' to spread the word even further. In this session he said, whenever one is in contact with non-Muslims, there's always opportunity for dawah, and so technically, every Muslim has the opportunity to spread the word to people around them, in any way.

The Happiness Solution: Finding Joy & Purpose

Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan said in his speech, happiness is always misjudged with illusion and success. Whereas, no sufficient success in this world can make us happy. Happiness, should be something ongoing and permanent whereas there is none in this world that is such, in which everything declines when it reached perfectness. Thus, the one and only answer is paradise, as the ultimate happiness. We have to always be in state of preparation for this destination where we should seek not freedom FROM Allah, but freedom FOR Allah. A wise person will always watch his desire while a dumb person always wish his desire can be fulfilled. The Sheikh said, filthy rich people are more filthy than rich, like the story of Qarun, and he was definitely not happy.

Sh. Yassir Qadhi's speech really touched my heart as I've never meet such a good speaker like him. Alas, I didn't get much from him because I felt so drowsy and tired that time of the day, which I really really really hope I won't but I did..=(. Well, in my scribbly note, Sh. Yassir Qadhi spoke about the nature of a human, which was created from 2 combined elements; clay and spirit. The soul needs food like the body, in which worldly materials pleasure the body, whereas anything that has to do with Allah feeds the roh. Our ultimate goal in this world is for the roh to live forever in jannah, and our aim is to pleasure Allah only.

to be continued InsyaAllah...

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