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Archive for June, 2008

New video is up by our brother Hamza (Andreas) Tzortzis about his talk in Canada, “The White Hat Approach to God”, which is about the existence of God and the inimitability of the Quran.

 

The Intellectual Basis of Islam by Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

Br. Hamza resides in the UK.  For more information about him and his resources, you can visit:

www.inimitiblequran.com

http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com

www.hamzatzortzis.com

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The most dynamic web portal about Greek Muslim life

 

p.s. This is my first video, ever, and it was fun putting it together.  🙂

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With the recent discussion on Greek-Turkish relations, I think you will find this video interesting. 

Here’s a brother from our city who converted after having ingrained in him the societal acceptance to hate Muslims or Turks.  Although he is from Romania, his upbringing towards the idea of hatred for Turks is very similar to that of Greeks.

Romanian and loving Islam

 

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While Wiki does a fine job of providing information about Greek Muslims in the vicinity of Greece, I found that there was nothing said about Greeks around the world who convert to Islam.  I mean Greeks who can date back to Greek ancestry, not Turkish or other.

So, I thought I would make Wikipedia right on by first adding our website to the external links (yay, we’re famous now!) and then also adding a new section: Greek Muslim Converts around the World”.

The problem is that I’m having a hard time deciding what to actually include in this section or how much detail I should go into.  Here’s what I started off with:

There is an increasing trend of Greeks converting to Islam around the world. These Greek people are 100% Greek either living in Greece or outside of Greece, who after researching religion, have chosen to convert to Islam.

I know, pretty pathetic.  What do you suggest we write?

 

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(photo taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtbphoto/124430789)

Often times, I find we particularly have a hard time with family because they look at us like traitors.  In their minds, we’re now Turks!  We’ve gone over to the OTHER side. 

And for Greeks, that’s just about the worst thing you can do!  I’m serious.  You can come home pregnant (outside of marriage) or basically become an atheist and still look better to your mom than if you become the baboolas, the big monster Muslim.

See, for many of us Greek Muslims, we still want to keep our culture along with our Islam.  And there is no problem with that as long as we don’t indulge in forbidden acts.  But how do we find that middle path? 

When I think Greek, I think of a Big, Fat, Greek Wedding.  Seriously.

A big loud, traditional dancing party with food for the entire village.   Drinking, music,  pure wildness and kissing from cheek to cheek. Everyone knows everyone.  And a place where really, anything goes. 

Try finding the middle path now!  As you can see, it’s hard at times.  Eventually, I came to grips with it and learned to take the good and throw out the bad.  Obviously, no more Greek weddings for me!  I now spend a lot more time with family, choosing the environment carefully. 

I’m very careful not to admonish others about their lifestyle choices but make it very clear to them how I choose to live my lifestyle and they cannot sway me otherwise.  In fact, I learned to give dawah through my actions and not my tongue, and now I’m a lot more respected than ever before.  In fact, my mom coined my new nickname, ei kaloygria (the nun).

So, the best advice I can give to new converts is to seek knowledge first.  Find a good mentor and group of friends who are pious and knowledgeable in Islam that you can emulate. 

Islam is compelling because it’s so simple and natural.  With further prodding, Islam can also be very deep and complex because it covers every single aspect of our lives.  So, when learning more about the details of Islam, it’s always best to go to people of knowledge.  As they say, you are who your friends are.

What are your experiences or advice about culture and Islam?

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Over and over again, I hear about converts (or reverts) to Islam swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other and most of the time, after a while, they land in the middle path somewhere.  I think it’s become a natural cycle:

 

Before Islam (no knowledge, no action):

         leading the crazy life

Right after Islam (little knowledge, lots of action):

        abandoning the crazy life and strictly admonishing others from keeping it

Years after converting (lots of knowledge, lots of action):

        abandoned the crazy life and being more wise in speaking with others about their lives

 

I recently came across this quote, which sums it up: 

When knowledge exceeds action, arrogance prevails.  When actions exceed knowledge, innovated matters (bidah) prevail. 

 

And really, it’s true.  Right after I converted to Islam and abruptly stopped my bad habits, I started to arrogantly admonish my family members for continuing to do those actions.  Eventually, they just got really sick of it, until years down the road, I realized what a big mistake I had made.

I learned two things over the years:

1. Give dawah by my actions and manners, not by admonishing

2. Concentrate on matters of belief and not on fiqh (what actions are allowed and what are not)

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A couple of days ago, I came across a blog of a minister of the Christian faith.  What caught my eye was that he had included a post called “The Most Important Verses of the Qur’an” but what made me comment on it was that he inserted the translation of the word “kitab” or “alkitab”  as “The Bible”.  So, basically he was saying,

kitab = the Bible  (<—- incorrect)

but, it is common knowledge to Muslims (and is easily proven) that

kitab = book, and is another name for the Qur’an  (<—- correct)

So, for example, he included the following:

3:3, “It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book [the Bible], confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).”

He displayed the same error for 35:31, 29:45 and 10:94.

So, after correcting it and letting him know Allah is referring to the Qur’an and not the Bible and this is a grave error to include something like this on a whim, he quoted me 3:23 and insisted that there must be two books that Allah is referring to.  In fact, it’s quite ironic, because 3:23 is not working for Christians, it’s actually exposing them.  Let me explain.

Verse:
Have you not seen those who have been given a portion of the Book. They are being invited to the Book of Allah to settle their dispute, then a party of them turned away, and they are averse.

His Perspective:

We should follow the Book and Book of Allah (which in his perspective in both cases are the Bible). 

 

 

Summarized Explanation from www.tafsir.com:
Allah criticizes the Jews and Christians who claim to follow their Books, the Tawrah and the Injil, because when they are called to refer to these Books where Allah commanded them to follow Muhammad, they turn away with aversion. This censure and criticism from Allah was all because of their defiance and rejection.

 

My Notes:

The first book is referring to the past scriptures.  The Book of Allah is the Qur’an. And this is proven.  Also, there are passages in the old and new testament of the prophecy of the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

From the old testament:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him”. Deuteronomy 18.18 

 

From the new testament:

“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, send in my name, he will teach you to your remembrance all that I have whom the Father will all things, and bring said to you”. John 14.26

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”. John 16.7
In fact, you can find a detailed account here (click on “Christianity” then, “Muhammad (pbuh)” to the right for the article) that these verses are certainly referring to the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

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