Beliefnet
Muslim Youth USA

by Nayyar Ahmad 

Almost all major religions and cultures around the world believe in fasting; Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism etc. Likewise, Islam also enjoins its followers to fast during the month of Ramadhan. Now a week into Ramadhan, Muslims are observing fast from sunup to sundown for 30 days.

Apart from abstaining from food and water, Muslims must exercise an extraordinary level of patience, humility, and kindness towards other human beings. There are no exceptions to this rule. Quoting a tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) on the topic of Ramadhan he states, “If any one of you is fasting, let him not utter obscenities or act in an ignorant manner, and if anyone insults him or wants to fight him, let him say, I am fasting”. The Quran, unequivocally declares that killing a life is akin to killing of mankind. With such practice before us it is unbelievably sad to see the likes of ISIS push a violent narrative, creating resentment for Muslims and Islam in the West.

The bombing in Manchester, the van attack in London, the bomb explosion in Afghanistan, all of which killed dozens of innocent souls, goes against the very essence of Islamic teachings. As member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I strongly condemn these grossly inhumane attacks and stand in solidarity with the victims.

What is propelling this ideology of hate among Muslim youth? Must we blame religion for the actions of a few lone wolves?

A common practice among terrorists is cherry-picking verses of the Quran and placing them out of context. By this deliberate act of distorting the teachings it is easy to manipulate young impressionable minds. For example, the word “Jihad” is now synonymously used with “holy war” which is completely wrong. The correct translation of the word “Jihad” is “struggle”. This struggle is precisely explained by the supreme head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who says,

“Our Jihad is not a Jihad of swords, guns or bombs. Our Jihad is not a Jihad of cruelty, brutality and injustice. Rather, our Jihad is of love, mercy and compassion. Our Jihad is of tolerance, justice and human sympathy. Our Jihad is to fulfill the rights of God Almighty and of His Creation”.

In retrospect, no such violent act of so called ‘Jihad’ is evident in Islamic history. The Prophet Muhammad enjoined the highest level of kindness towards the creation of God so much so that it was even forbidden to treat animals with cruelty, let alone human beings. Often critics of Islam level allegations against the character of Holy Prophet Muhammad, and out of ignorance discredit his otherwise compassionate nature. For example, during the early days of Islam, Muslims were subject to severe persecution by leaders of Quraish, a ruling tribe of Mecca (now Saudi Arabia). The leaders, blinded by their hate, were so adamant on destroying Islam that they finally decided to slay the Holy Prophet. But Divine intervention saved his life and Muhammad (PBUH) finally migrated to Medina to escape this persecution. Post-migration to Medina, Prophet Muhammad and his companions penned ‘The charter of Medina’, a classic example of pluralism found in Islam. Believe it or not, even non-Muslims enjoyed a cordial protection under a secular rule of law which allowed them to freely practice their beliefs.

However, the Quraish tribe was not content with this migration and believed that Muhammad (PBUH) was still a threat to their regressive, pagan beliefs and customs. The ensuing years lead to battles and skirmishes that were waged against Muslims. It was only during this time that the Jihad of the sword became a necessary tool to defend the honor and rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike! The distinction being, this Jihad was only for self-defense rather than the Jihad we see in the media today which only takes life and pushes humans to the last frontiers of uncivilized conduct.

While we acknowledge and condemn such acts of violence committed to defame Islam and promote a hateful ideology, it is equally important to understand the counter-narrative presented by peaceful Muslims, who by the way are the majority. ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, and all terrorist networks can only be defeated if our youth fully comprehend the concepts and dispel any misconceptions.

Using this Ramadhan as a point of departure, we should all strive to learn about true Islam (alislam.org) and fight the fallacies that have taken root in the hearts of our youth. A pragmatic approach is needed to deal with this conundrum whereby Muslims should take charge of their legacy and raise a voice which echoes a narrative of peace, not war!

by Zohaib Zafar 

On Monday, ISIL claimed responsibility for another terrorist attack, this time in the city of Manchester, England. We do not know for sure if so called Muslims committed this terrorist attack but we should condemn all terrorist attacks no matter who orchestrates them and those who believe in the power of prayer should pray for peace and justice. We must also pray for the victims and their families. Everyone though must also do their part to help stop these terrorist attacks from occurring in the first place. While terrorism has no religion, unfortunately, this past week has probably taken us in the opposite direction than the direction we intend to be taking in order to counter extremism. President Trump gave an important speech this past Sunday in Saudi Arabia. Although, many praised his speech, the speech will result in more harm than good. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism. Evidence suggests that oil money is used to finance hate filled madrasahs(Islamic schools) all across the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia is also committing what many believe amounts to a genocide in Yemen. Executions are regularly held to punish dissenters, atheists and other minorities. Furthermore, this speech took place at a summit where a historic $350b arms deal took place. America selling weapons to Saudi Arabia will only lead to more war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has already killed thousands of innocent people in Yemen and because of this arms deal, it will only become worse. If this will not create resentment against America in the Middle East, I do not know what will.

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide supreme head of the largest group of Muslims led by one leader, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has repeatedly raised the issue of ISIL and its creation and the supply of weapons originating from Western countries. As His Holiness points out, preventing ISIL from acquiring these weapons is the key to fighting them. According to the Amnesty International, ISIL uses weapons that come from over 25 countries including the United States. Perhaps the weapons we sell to Saudi Arabia will never reach ISIL’s hands but if history has shown us anything, it is that they will. And even if they do not, when Saudi Arabia kills the entire family of a 17 year old boy using weapons that were exclusively manufactured in the United States, it would not be all that surprising if that boy becomes resentful of our great country. The Trump administration is helping a vicious cycle of violence to continue that can be stopped if instead of investing in weapons, Trump invests in education in the Middle East. Trump conceded in his speech that terrorists “do not worship God, they worship death.” Trump also said that 95% of the victims of terrorism are Muslim. These are promising signs that the more Trump learns about terrorism, the more his policies will shift towards pluralism and acceptance of Islam as a peaceful religion.

by Haris Raja 
     In the first week of May 2017, nearly 300 young Muslim men from the US went to visit the Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad in London, UK. The event was organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association USA. Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the Head of the world wide Ahmadiyya Muslim community. For the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, His Holiness is the spiritual leader and guide. The purpose of this visit was to inspire the young members of the community and provide them an opportunity to develop a strong bond with His Holiness.
     The group had an opportunity to offer congregational prayers behind His Holiness. Islamic daily prayers are obligatory on men to perform in congregation.  The three-day visit served as an excellent reminder for all group members to offer their prayers in congregation.  Islamic prayer is a way of meditation through which believers reflect on improving their spirituality. It teaches them self control, unity and discipline. Portions of the Holy Quran are also recited during the prayer to reflect on the teaching of the Holy book for Muslims. His Holiness’ marvelous recitation of the Holy Quran during the prayers penetrated the hearts of the followers and many shed tears in a highly charged spiritual environment.
     The group also had a blessed audience exclusively with His Holiness. This was a remarkable opportunity for the group to ask questions and seek guidance. During the session, His Holiness put a special emphasis on the daily recitation of the Holy Quran and admonished the attendees to reflect on the real meaning of the Quran. He encouraged the youth to acquire the true understanding of their faith and become adherents of the peaceful teachings of Islam.  His Holiness told the youth that they need to become model citizens of the their society and should attract others towards their faith through their strong and decent character.
     Finally the group had an opportunity to renew their pledge at the hands of His Holiness. This pledge of allegiance is to declare that the adherents will obey His Holiness in every thing good. There are ten conditions in the pledge of allegiance. All of these conditions are related to the spiritual well being of the adherent. For example, Believing in the Unity of God, offering daily prayers, understanding the true meaning of the Holy Quran, staying away from all kinds of vices and evils, serving humanity to one’s maximum ability, being gentle and kind to others, becoming a peaceful human being are among these conditions. The pledge of allegiance took place in the historical Fazal Mosque, the oldest Mosque in London. Although its not a very big mosque, it was overcrowded and group members were fervently waiting for the arrival of His Holiness to lead the pledge of allegiance. There were cries of repentance from sins and prayers to achieve the pleasure of God all over. It was an ecstatic atmosphere worth remembering for everyone who was taking part in the pledge.
     The hospitality shown by the host Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK was marvelous. They welcomed us with warm greetings, treated us with sumptuous meals and took great care of us for which we are grateful.
     This visit to see His Holiness was a life changing experience for many. In today’s political climate where young Muslim men are often portrayed in a bad light, young men of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are proudly adhering to their faith. Their trip to London was an assurance that they are safeguarded from the wrong influences and are peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the country they live in.

By Ahsan Jattala 

With Mother’s Day here, we can use this opportunity to remind ourselves of the respect that is due to to all mothers. Mother’s Day isn’t just meant to celebrate our mothers once a year, but rather it reminds us of the respect due to our mothers every day. We live in a fast-paced society where it’s sometimes very easy to get consumed in our own lives and forget to check on how our mothers are doing. Let’s take a second to pause on our lives and let our mothers know how much we appreciate them for all that they have done for us. A mother is due the highest of respect. This is what my faith has taught me since I was a child.

As a Muslim, I have been taught that kindness to both parents is of the utmost importance. In our holy book, the Quran, it is stated, “Worship God and join not any partners with Him; and be kind to your parents(4:37).” Respect and kindness to parents are spoken of in the same verse as not associating partners with God. This emphasizes the weightiness of the issue since associating partners with God is the ultimate wrong in Islamic teachings.

The Prophet of Islam has said that a mother is worthy of kindness three times before anyone else. This is not by any means a knock on the fathers out there, but rather an elevation of the status of mothers to such a high level. Our mothers are our first teachers and they are also our first vessel for food and shelter. They have been biologically entrusted with carrying us before birth until we are ready to enter the world. For this reason, mothers are given three times the respect before fathers. It is said that paradise lies at the feet of the mother and this analogy is meant the illustrate how important Islam sees mothers and overall women in the wider scope. They are, after all, the ones who teach us love, respect, and honor. Women are the backbone of society and a vital part of securing a future for life overall.

To all of the mothers out there, I commend you for all that you do and I know you have the toughest of jobs on this planet. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and future moms to be.