How to respond to Bullying

Bullying, Suicide and High School with Belal Assad

In a new series titled “Conversations”, we are joined by Sheikh Belal Assad who shares his thoughts on the recent spike in bullying incidents against Muslim teenagers.

Belal Assad is a high school teacher based in Melbourne, Australia with many years of experience dealing with Muslim teenagers and social issues.

In this episode he touches on the Islamic perspective of bullying and abuse from the Quran and Sunnah.

He also specifically delves into the Quranic verse;

“Woe to every scorner and mocker”

(Quran 104:1)

and it’s relevance to bullying discourse.

The talk also reveals some unfortunate truths regarding suicide and self harm in the community as a result of the increased bullying and abuse in today’s society.

We hope you benefit from this short discussion and we invite your feedback for future episodes in the future.

 

Anti-Islam Dutch Politician converts to Islam

Anti-Islam Dutch Politician converts to Islam.

A former Dutch Politician has just accepted Islam after spending years campaigning against the religion.

Joram Van Klaveren, a former member of Geert Wilders’ Anti-Islamic Freedom Party, PVV, announced his conversion to Islam earlier this week.

Van Klaveren said he made the decision last October whilst writing a book initially intended to demonise the religion.

“During that writing, I came across more and more things that made my view on Islam falter,” he said in an interview with Dutch Radio.

Van Klaveren was a member of the PVV Party from 2010 to 2014. During this time, he campaigned harshly against Islam, stating that “Islam is a lie” and “Quran is poison”.

In a recent interview, he expressed his guilt over these past statements and stated that he was “simply wrong”. He also added that it was part of the PVV policy to link all negativity to Islam in one way or another.
Van Kalveren however left the PVV in 2014 after hearing Geert Wilders make racist remarks regarding Moroccans. He then went on to set up his own party, however he quit politics in 2017 after failing to win a seat in the national elections.

Van Klaveren is in fact not the first person to convert to Islam from the right wing PVV party. Arnoud Van Doorn, a former PVV official, had also converted to Islam in April 2013.

Van Doorn had also campaigned heavily against Islam during his stretch with the PVV, even going to the extent of filming an anti-Islamic documentary. However this all changed after he visited a Mosque one morning and was warmly welcomed by the Muslims present. He ended up staying the entire day. This triggered his spiral into learning more about Islam until he eventually accepted the religion and performed the pilgrimage to Hajj, that same year.

Van Doorn congratulated Van Klaveren on his Twitter and offered him a free trip to Umrah in celebration of his new found decision.

He also posted “[I] never thought that the PVV would become a breeding ground for converts.”

The story of both brother Van Klaveren and Van Doorn are an incredible real life depiction of the Quranic verse:

“Perhaps Allah will put, between you and those to whom you have been enemies among them, affection. And Allah is competent, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

Quran 60:7

May Allah bless our brother on his journey and grant him steadfastness along this path.

Muslim Kids React to Bullying videos

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These Muslim Kids React to Video of Bullying

OnePath Network has invited kids to sit down and watch viral videos of Muslims from around the world being bullied. They tell us about how they feel about these horrific scenarios and also explain what they think they should do when confronted by a bully. They also share their own personal encounters with bullies in their schools and what they have done to stop them.

Bullying is common worldwide and most likely every one of us has encountered a bully at one point in our life. The Muslim youth must be able to feel comfortable when talking to a parent or teacher. This video encourages the youth to speak openly about their troubles to someone that they trust and also it encourages parents and teachers to sit down and listen to what they have to say.

May Allah keep our youth safe from any harm.

There are Two Types of People: The Salih and the Muslih

There are Two Types of People: The Salih and the Muslih

There are two kinds of righteous people in this world.

One is a صالح and the other is a مصلح.

One is a righteous person while the other is a reformer who aspires to bring about righteousness in others.

They might sound the same, but the truth is they are worlds apart. For starters, righteous people are loved, while those who try to reform society are quite often despised.

Just look at the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Before Prophethood, he was loved by all and praised for his righteousness, but the second he became a Prophet and attempted to bring about righteousness amongst others and called them away from evil; his people started to turn against him.

Nevertheless, the truth is, reformers who establish righteousness will always be far greater in the eyes of Allah than those who restrict their righteousness to themselves.

In fact, Allah in the Quran states:

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَىٰ بِظُلْمٍ وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ

“And it is not for your Lord to destroy the cities in oppression while their people were reformers.”

Quran 11:117

Allah specifically makes mention that so as long as reformers are present amongst a disbelieving people; they will not be destroyed.

He didn’t say so as long as there are righteous people صالحون, but rather reformers of righteousness مصلحون.

For this reason we should always aspire to be of those who are not only righteous, but also those who bring about righteousness amongst those around us.

Tips on how to make your iPhone kid-friendly

How to set up your iPhone to be kid-friendly

Kids today have access to more phones, tablets, computers and other tablets that have access to the Internet than any other generation. Babies can navigate their way through a tablet device better than some adults. Although children use these devices on a daily basis, they still do not know how to handle them responsibly. Here are some tips on how you can set up your personal iPhone device so that your children may use it safely without any worries giving you peace of mind.

Setup YouTube for safe browsing

No doubt our children spent a large portion of their time on YouTube browsing through their favourite content. So it is important for parents to make sure that their kids are not exposed to any harmful content. Here are the instructions on how to properly configure YouTube for your children’s iPhones or other mobile phone devices:

  • Open the YouTube App.
  • Tap the ‘Account’ icon on the top right-hand corner.
  • Tap ‘Settings’.
  • Turn ‘Restricted Mode’ on.

Setup Safari for safe browsing on iPhone

Safari is the iPhone’s main Internet browser. Parents need to pay close attention to what their child browses on the Internet as many of us already know the potential dangers on there. These are the steps to configure your iPhone device for safe Internet browsing:

  • Go ‘Settings’.
  • Scroll down to ‘Screen Time’.
  • If you don’t have ‘Screen Time’ then turn it on and set up the iPhone either as your’s or your child’s.
  • Go into ‘Content & privacy restrictions’ and turn it on.
  • Move onto ‘Content Restrictions’.
  • Tap ‘Web Content’.
  • From the three options, ‘Unrestricted Access’ is the default mode. Switch this to ‘Limit Adult Websites’.  ‘Limit Adult Websites’ option is the fastest option from the three as it allows automatic restrictions on adult-oriented websites.
    • If you want to allow only certain websites and block everything else switch to ‘Allowed websites only’. However, if you want to allow everything else and block specific websites then type it in the ’Never Allow’ section.

Disable In-App purchases on iPhone

This is very common for every parent with an iPhone. Sometimes kids purchase things in the apps that use without even noticing. This can lead to enormous credit card bills that you plain and simply cannot afford. Here are some simple instructions on how to set up your iPhone to avoid this:

  • Go ‘Settings’.
  • Scroll down to ‘Screen Time’.
  • Go into ‘Content & privacy restrictions’ and turn it on.
  • Now to go the ‘Itunes and App Store Purchases’.
  • Tap on ‘In-app Purchases’ and switch it to ‘Don’t Allow’.

Restricting App downloads and deletion

Kids may sometimes delete or downloads apps on your personal iPhone device which is very frustrating for parents. This can either lead to full storage memory consumption or just losing that favorite Islamic prayer app. In order to prevent this from happening, here some simple instructions on how to do that:

  • Go ‘Settings’.
  • Scroll down to ‘Screen Time’.
  • Go into ‘Content & privacy restrictions’.
  • Tap ‘Itunes and App Store Purchases’.
  • You can choose to not allow ‘Installing Apps’ and ‘Deleting Apps’.

Now you have your personal iPhone device setup to be kid-friendly.

Enjoy!

Five Inspirational Muslim Stories of 2018

The year 2018 was full of memorable moments for Muslims. While some moments were sad, Other moments inspired change in the Muslim community. We have compiled a list of stories that inspired the Muslim Ummah in 2018.

Ali Banat passed away from cancer, after years helping the needy.

Ali Banat, a 32 year Muslim from Sydney, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer three years ago and passed away in Ramadan 2018. Upon diagnosis, he was given seven months to live but instead, he was blessed to live for another three years. He spent those three years getting rid of his lavish possessions in order to give it all back to the needy of Africa. He setup his own charity organisation to build orphanages, mosques and schools in Africa. The lesson we can draw from his inspirational story is that he used his “gift” to devote the remaining time he has left to serve his religion. May Allah grant him Jannah.

 

More than £150,000 raised for Syrian schoolboy.

A Syrian schoolboy was the victim of a brutal assault at his school in Huddersfield. Shortly after the video went viral, a crowdfunding page was launched by a Muslim who wanted to “put a smile on their faces”. So with the help of the Muslim community around the world, they raised an astounding £150,000.

Mohamed Salah never forgetting his Muslim roots.

2018 was a big year for this sports star. Mohamed Salah did the unthinkable by breaking the premier league record for goals in a thirty-eight-game season, and he also won the Golden Boot for the most goals in the Premier League. But that’s not what was so inspiring about his story. What is so inspiring about Mohamed Salah is that he has reached such international success and fame and still continues to practice his religion openly and proudly. We have seen Muslim celebrities in the past reach momentous success but unfortunately, they have seemed to drop their Muslim identity. But not with Mohamed Salah, he continues to be himself which is a devout Muslim.

Palestinian medic died trying to save Palestinian lives.

Although this story is tragic, all Muslims can draw inspiration from Razan al-Najjar. This Muslim Palestinian medical worker was the front lines of the protests on the border at the end of March aiding those who have been wounded by the IDF. She understood that she needed to put her life on the line in order to help her Palestinian brothers and sister protesting for something much greater than themselves. May Allah grant her Jannah.

Khabib stands in the face of Islamophobia in the UFC.

The fight between Khabib and Mcgregor was no doubt the biggest event this year. There was so much hype for this fight to be the biggest of all time in UFC history. However, during the hype and marketing, some boundaries were crossed by Connor’s side.  Mcgregor had made some racist and Islamophobic slurs but despite all that, Khabib remained calm and respectable. Even when Mcgregor offered Khabib alcohol at one of the press conferences, he refused to partake in any drinking. But It was Khabib’s fight outside the octagon that mattered. He knew how to represent Islam in an environment as volatile as the UFC and that is why this story is inspirational for Muslim in 2018.

How NOT to treat your workers

How you should NOT treat your workers

This short skit is a hilarious look at how you should never treat your workers in the workplace.

When it comes to the rights of workers, Islam has always been very clear on how they should and shouldn’t be treated. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ always emphasised the importance of looking after those who are under your authority, and the employee is definitely no exception.

Many narrations of the Prophet stress the importance of paying your workers on time, avoiding overburdening them, treating them with respect and of course being lenient when need be.

Abdullah ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said,

“Pay the worker his wages before his sweat has dried.”

Sunan Ibn Majah (Sahih)

Jabir bin Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“May Allah have mercy on a person who is lenient when he sells, lenient when he buys, and lenient when he asks for payment.”

Sunan Ibn Majah

When we look at the treatment the Prophet ﷺ showed towards those under his authority, we see he displayed the epitome of gentleness and mercy.

Anas Ibn Malik narrates that “I served the Prophet ﷺ for ten years, and he never said to me,

“Uf” (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, “Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?”

Sahih Al Bukhari

Kind and fair treatment, of course, extends to both the employee and employer. It is important that both parties are just in their dealings with one another and uphold the trust that exists between them both.

As Allah mentions in the Quran

“Those who are faithfully true to their Amanat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts etc.) and to their covenants”

Holy Quran 23:8

May Allah allow us to embody the principles of honesty, trustworthiness, and uprightness in the workplace in all our dealings.

Suicide is a growing problem in our community

Suicide in the Muslim community is a real problem

Talking about mental health issues is a very difficult thing to do in the Muslim community. Whilst national data around deaths by self-harm do not indicate the race or religion of those deceased, many doctors, social workers and mental health professionals have noted a worrying increase in Muslims self-harming and attempting to take their own lives.

This is by no means only a Muslim issue. In 2017 intentional self-harm was a leading cause of premature mortality in Australia. While intentional self-harm accounts for a relatively small proportion (1.9%) of all deaths in Australia, it accounts for a high proportion of deaths among younger people. Suicide accounted for over one-third of deaths (36%) among people aged 15-24 years of age, and over a quarter of deaths (30.9%) among those aged 25-34 years. There were 108,081 years of life lost to intentional self-harm in 2017.

For Dr Mohamed Helmy, an academic lecturer and mental health clinician at South West Sydney Mental Health Services, one of the major pathways towards suicidality can be found in drug and alcohol abuse.

“We’ve seen many people who have reached the stage of ‘drug-induced psychosis’, which means they have consumed illicit drugs and alcohol excessively. Their mental world becomes deteriorating rapidly, and the also become disconnected from reality. At that point, anything can go, and that’s where see a lot of suicide.”

One major factor around suicide in the Muslim community is the religious prohibition of the act of taking one’s life. According to Dr. Helmy, this is a major deterrent for many Muslims, who may engage in self-harming but do not go so far as to take their own life due to the religious teaching.

However, the prohibition has also resulted in strong resistance to and discomfort when talking about the issue. “That feeling of shame actually may drive the person to and other family members and friends to mask those feelings rather than getting them address,” says Dr. Helmy.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with these issues, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or visit beyondblue.org.au.

How Islam saved the lives of Women

How Islam saved the lives of Women

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

Pre-Islamic Arabia was brutal in its treatment of women. Women were not viewed as people with essential, independent value.

From the time of their birth, they were already in danger. One of the most horrific practices of Pre-Islamic Arabia was the custom of burying infant girls alive.

But the advent of Islam brought a paradigm shift.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ fully understood where his society’s disregard for women had come from and addressed the root of the problem to completely revolutionize the treatment of women:

He ﷺ demonstrated women’s inherent value since birth through the way he treated his own daughters.

When his beloved daughter, Fatima, would walk into his home, he ﷺ would stand up to receive her, kiss her on the forehead, and seat her in the place he had been sitting.

He said of her, “She is a piece of me.”

He fully reversed the negative cultural implications attached to daughters by saying: “Whoever raises two daughters and does well with their upbringing will be with me in paradise like these two fingers (holding together his index and middle finger).”

The new outlook transformed the role of a father to daughter(s) to one of serious responsibility.

And the Prophet ﷺ demonstrated by example how the Shari’ah flatly invalidates a marriage conducted without the woman’s consent, whether expressed or implied, by giving the choice to several women to anul the marriages they had been forced into by their fathers previously.

By recognizing the inherent value of a daughter, the Prophet ﷺ was recognizing the inherent value of a woman since birth, a total upheaval of the status quo that carried through generations.

So whenever someone would complain to him about having daughters, the scholar Ahmad b. Hanbal would say: “The prophets were fathers of daughters.”

Read more in “We Used to Have No Regard for Women”: Gender Equity & the Advent of Islam by Maryam Al-Dabbagh, Omar Suleiman, Roohi Tahir and Mohammad Elshinawy

Possessed (Fraud, Deception and Abuse)

Possessed (Fraud, Deception and Abuse)

When it comes to the topic of Jinn possession – we’ve seen it all before.

The frightening voices, the horrific looks and the superhuman strength that comes out of people under the influence of demonic spirits; all while they are being treated with verses of the Holy Quran.

It’s a terrifying topic, yet it somehow manages to arouse the interest of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world; with videos amassing millions of views online.

The practice of removing such evil spirits and treating those who are affected is known as Ruqya and it is an Islamic form of spiritual healing. It is based on an authentic tradition of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself; whereby verses of the Quran would be used to heal those afflicted with sickness, black magic and evil spirits.

Abu Sai’d Al Khudri narrates:

Some of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ went on a journey till they reached some of the ‘Arab tribes (at night). They asked the latter to treat them as their guests but they refused. The chief of that tribe was then bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and they tried their best to cure him but in vain. Some of them said (to the others), “Nothing has benefited him, will you go to the people who resided here at night, it may be that some of them might possess something (as treatment),” They went to the group of the companions (of the Prophet (ﷺ) ) and said, “Our chief has been bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and we have tried everything but he has not benefited. Have you got anything (useful)?” One of them replied, “Yes, by Allah! I can recite a Ruqya, but as you have refused to accept us as your guests, I will not recite the Ruqya for you unless you fix for us some wages for it.” They agreed to pay them a flock of sheep. One of them then went and recited (Surat-ul-Fatiha): ‘All the praises are for the Lord of the Worlds’ and puffed over the chief who became all right as if he was released from a chain, and got up and started walking, showing no signs of sickness. They paid them what they agreed to pay.

Some of them (i.e. the companions) then suggested to divide their earnings among themselves, but the one who performed the recitation said, “Do not divide them till we go to the Prophet ﷺ and narrate the whole story to him, and wait for his order.”

So, they went to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and narrated the story. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ asked, “How did you come to know that Suratul- Fatiha was recited as Ruqya?”

Sahih Al Bukhar

The practice has continued to be upheld in the Muslim world for centuries on end, whereby a person suffering would employ a Raqi or a spiritual healer to read over them in the hopes that they would be cured.

However, despite the noble origins of this Prophetic Sunnah, the practice has recently found its way into the hands of fraudulent spiritual healers, as a tool of abuse and corruption.

The issue has in fact found itself the subject of a recent press release by the Australian National Imam’s Council, warning the wider public to be cautious of corrupt spiritual healers feigning religious authority.

OnePath Network has recently undergone an investigation into the malpractice of the Ruqya industry, and what we have uncovered will not only shock you but leave you deeply disturbed. Viewer discretion is advised.

Our investigation reveals stories of physical violence, financial exploitation and psychological abuse towards the most vulnerable members of our community.

We interviewed three separate women on their experiences with fraudulent spiritual healers. Their accounts revealed painful and horrifying stories of abuse and exploitation.

Throughout the course of our interviews, a common theme kept recurring – and that was the naivety of family members in placing their unconditional trust in spiritual healers. It was as though the appearance of the spiritual healer, who dressed in Islamic garb and spoke a few words of Arabic, was enough to convince family members that he was a person of religious authority – despite his clear, grievous violations of Islamic law.

Another malicious practice employed by these corrupt individuals was to convince family members that the victim was not in pain while they operated, and rather that it was the demon or evil spirit that was suffering. This deceptive technique further manipulated family members, and led to the victim feeling abandoned and helpless at the hands of their abuser.To make matters worse, in some instances the spiritual healer would be in seclusion with the female patient without the presence of any Mahram or male relative. This not only contravenes Islamic guidelines, but also opens the door to potential sexual harassment.

Another common theme amongst all victims was the absence of any medical evaluation prior to spiritual treatment. There is no doubt within Islam that people are susceptible to being affected by evil spirits and black magic, however by the same token, we do not deny the importance and necessity of first evaluating whether or not one has a valid medical condition that can explain one’s sickness.

The truth is, there is nothing new about what is happening today. For centuries, corrupt individuals have manipulated and abused religion to achieve their own corrupt personal agenda. It’s an old business that is marketed upon the vulnerabilities of people. In fact, many of our interviews proved that these fake spiritual healers were nothing more than businessmen, seeking to make a profit off of vulnerable individuals.

However what matters today is that we raise enough awareness to bring such tainted practices to an end and revive the true Prophetic Sunnah of Ruqya that befits its noble purposes of achieving spiritual healing for those that are affected.

Needless to say, Muslims should never forget that the strength of Ruqya will always stem from the Quran itself and not from the one reciting it. In fact by constantly surrounding ourselves with the book of Allah and reciting the Prophetic supplications against evil, we will ensure that we are sufficiently protected from the harms of any Jinn or evil spirit.

It was narrated that Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to seek refuge with Allah from the Jinn and from the evil eye until the Mu’awwidhatayn were revealed, and when they were revealed he started to recite them and not anything else.”

(Al-Tirmidhi)

We should never undermine the importance of reciting the appointed supplications for leaving the home, entering the bathroom, upon waking up, prior to sleeping, prior to intimacy etc. All these supplications play a major role in protecting us without the need of going to see a Raqi to begin with.

Other specific ways one may protect himself or herself from evil spirits include:

  1. Seeking refuge in Allah from Satan (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  2. Reciting Surah Al Falaq and Al-Nas (Al-Tirmidhi)
  3. Reciting Ayat Al Kursy (Al Bukhari)
  4. Reciting the last two verses of Surah Al Baqarah (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  5. Calling the Athaan (Muslim)

Muslim families must remain vigilant when employing the services of a spiritual healer and only do so when absolutely necessary. Scrutiny must be applied and we all have a duty to equip ourselves with the appropriate knowledge to deal with such matters. Healing will always come from Allah ﷻ and we shouldn’t place too much reliance upon spiritual healers to the point that they are able to take advantage of vulnerable members of the community.

May Allah protect our community from all those who have brought harm and may the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger of Allah ﷺ be safeguarded and protected from all those who have abused it.