Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Imam Zaid Shakir's essay on the Ft Hood shootings.

Part 1 of Shaykh Jihad Brown thoughtful essay "A Call to Reflection" on the Fort Hood incident.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The brothers and sisters at Stonybrook MSA graciously posted video recordings of three (3) of the presentations that I made during a visit in Winter 2008. One is an informal lesson on some excerpts from the introduction to Imam al-Nawawi's (d. 7th/13th) al-Adhkar ("Litanies"), a Friday sermon (khutbat al-jumu`ah) on praiseworthy and blameworthy personality traits and an extemporaneous admonitory address (wa`z) touching on some of the etiquettes of family member-family member interactions. May Allah reward MSA President Munzareen Padela, Omar Shareef and the other leaders and members of the community for there hospitality.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In light of multiple reports of the sighting (ru'yah) of the crescent moon of Shawwal overseas and in N America, as well as the announcement to be released shortly from the New England Imams' Council, the Harvard and MIT Muslim communities recognize tonight/tomorrow as Shawwal 1, 1430 i.e. `Id al-Fitr (The Feast of the Fast-Breaking). Taqabbala llahu minna ajma`in. May Allah accept from all of us!

Suheil Laher and Taha Abdul-Basser
Muslim Chaplains at MIT & Muslim Chaplain @ Harvard (respectively)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Text of my remarks at the Harvard Islamic Society, Opening Event, Aug 31, 2009:

Bismilahi r-rahmani r-rahim. As salamu 'alaykum. As Harvard Islamic Society Chaplain and Muslim Chaplain at the Harvard Chaplains, I would like to echo what the President, Hafiz Na'eel, and his fellow officers have said by welcoming you to Harvard and to this open house. I apologize for not being able to attend as I have a family related medical matter to attend to that took me out of town. Nonetheless I pray that your time at Harvard is beneficial and fruitful, for yourself and for others, in this life and the hereafter.

Before I became Muslim Chaplain, I was an undergraduate and then a graduate student here at Harvard. I can remember the excitement and eagerness that I felt; and therefore can relate to the similar feelings that I am sure you and your fellow first years must feel. Of all of the impressive resources and networks that I encountered at Harvard during my time here as an undergraduate--and you have no doubt seen that Harvard has a truly awe-inspiring array of resources to offer its students--I myself found the brothers and sisters at the Islamic Society, and the internal growth that resulted from my relationships with them, to be the most lasting and impactful aspect of my Harvard experience. As Chaplain during the last decade or so, I have witnessed first hand similar growth in contingent after contingent of students who have come from around the country and the world to Harvard. I therefore encourage you to take advantage of the Harvard Muslim community, embodied by the Islamic Society, while you are here. Get to know people, participate in activites and balance the growth that you will experience in other aspects of yourself with ethical and spiritual growth. I can assure you that you will find a warm and welcoming community of highly talented individuals who have also managed to fit the Islamic society, somehow, into their busy lives. In the Prophet traditions we find: "The best companions are those who, when you think of them (or are with them), remind you of God!" I encourage to encounter the experiental reality of this tradition in the Islamic Society.

Finally, let me point out to you yet another University resource: namely myself. As Islamic Society Chaplain and a Harvard Chaplain, think of me as resource who is available for personal consultations on various aspects of Islamic thought and practice. Feel free to grab me after jumu'a, track my blog, attend my study sessions, set up an appointment to see me during office hours (which are Fri 2-3 this semester), drop me a line by email at the Chaplain's e-mail address or call me at any time of day or night. From basic questions of Islamic devotional practice to inquiries into points of contact between Islamic thought and post modernist ethics, I am at your service.

May Allah bless us with guidance and decorate our endeavors with Success. Ameen. Wa 'alaykum as salam.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Al-hamdu li-llah, as promised, a more robust Harvard Islamic Society Ramadan Program (including communal fast breaking [iftarat] and performance of salat al-tarawih at the Harvard Prayer Space) will begin on Mon 8/31. Please consult the HIS website for more details.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In sha'Allah, there will be salat al-tarawih starting tonight, Tuesday 8/25 @ the prayer space. Salat al-`Isha will start @ 9pm and Salat al-Tarawih will begin @ 9:15pm.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In light of the numerous reports of the sighting of the crescent moon of Ramadan (including in N America) that have come to our attention and as per the decision of the New England Imams' Council, in sha'Allah, we will be gathering to pray salat al-`isha and then salata al-tarawih in the Harvard Prayer Space (Canaday E Basement) in 30 min.

May Allah accept our fast, prayers and other good deeds during this blessed month!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

As-salam `alaykum wa-rahmatullah

The Imams' Council of the Islamic Council of New England has once again decided this year, by a majority vote, to continue to use moonsighting to determine the start and end of Ramadan. We advise and encourage members of the community to follow this decision, by way of following this local leadership body in an opinion that reflects the view of the majority of contemporary and classical Muslim jurists. Insha'Allah, a Council decision on the start of Ramadan should be announced by Friday night.

We are aware that a few mosques/Islamic centers in the Greater Boston area have chosen to follow pure calculations, a minority juristic view which has been adopted by ISNA since last year. It is possible that different methodologies will coincide on start and end dates for fasting. In any case, we caution against making these disagreements a cause for barren argumentation (such as that which led to the knowledge of Laylat al-Qadr being lifted up), stereotyping or questioning of the intentions of those involved. Let us instead focus our energies on reaping the spiritual fruits of Ramadan.

Wa s-salam
Suheil Laher and Taha Abdul-Basser
Muslim Chaplains at MIT & Muslim Chaplain @ Harvard (respectively)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Reaching for Low Hanging Fruit: Preparing for the Blessed Month of Ramadan" (nasa'ih/qa`z). Islamic Ctr of New England. Sharon, MA. Fri Evening. after Salat al-Maghrib)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Today in sha'Allah I will be attending the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the invitation of Mr. Brint Frith, President of Javelin Investment Managment, manager of the JETS Dow Jones Islamic Market International Index Fund (NYSE Arca-Listed JVS). (I am member of the Shari`ah Board for Javelin Investment Managment.) A live webcast (@ 9:29am EST) as well as an archived version thereafter will be available here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

May Allah reward Shaykh Muhammad Walid bin Hassan al-Dido al-Shanqiti for his just and balanced answer and Shaykh Suhaib for the translation and distribution.

Such answers buttress the effort to stomp out the regrettable and mostly manufactured fitna between students of knowledge in the West (and elsewhere) about certain matters of `aqida (creed), matters of long standing difference of opinion between the mutakallamin and the ahl al-hadith trends among the ahl al-sunna wa-l-jama`a!
DNA could illuminate Islam's lineage - The National Newspaper

The use of genetic testing to confirm the paternal ancestry of descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (salla allahu `alayhi wa-sallam).

Interestingly, the article features an extensive quotes from our teacher, colleague and friend, Shaykh Musa Furber.

Shared via AddThis.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The brothers and sisters at U Penn MSA have generously posted some of the presentations from MSA East Zone 2009. My contributions are: The first part of "Pursuit of Perfection Exploring Ethical Constructs" and the second part of "Ithar: Preferring Others Over Oneself." May Allah reward Dr. Rameez Qudsi for bringing this page to our attention.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

`Allamah Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Advice on Time Management.

This is advice Mufti Taqi Usmani gave someone seeking counsel:

The Shaykh told him:

“Recognize the importance of time. That it is an invaluable wealth. Spend it very wisely and precisely in virtuous actions.”

Next day while the Shaykh was sitting in Masjid al-Haraam facing the holy Kab’a (‘s Rukun-e-Yamani) an individual requested some elaboration on this advice. That is, as how to practically incorporate it in to one’s daily life.

Obviously pleased on the question, Shaykh replied;

“Firstly one has to recognize the importance of time per se.

Secondly, one has to organize one’s schedule to fully maximize the benefit of available time, such that not a single moment is wasted. Being wasted meaning that it is not utilized appropriately even for a worldly purpose, may it be sleeping or moderate lawful entertainment or being busy in helping another fulfill his essential obligations, etc.

Wasting time includes indulging in activities having no benefit for this life or here-after (akhira).”

The Shaykh continued:

“Develop the habit of planning.

That is, plan for the future.

If I was to get 5 or 10 minutes break between my tasks how will I spend it?

For example, while commuting to work.

Think and decide in advance.

How I am going to spend these 15 minutes besides doing the driving?

Only if one has thought of these in advance he will be able to utilize this time appropriately.

My father (Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Hazrat Mawala Mohammad Shafi’i ra) used to inform us that, “Even the time I spent in toilet I try to make use of it. If there is nothing else I scrub and clean the water jug (lota) kept in there.”

All praise to Allah, due to his training I also try to enact on this advice. When I come home from my classes I know there will be at least a 5 minute interval before the lunch is served. I have planned in advance the use of this time. Such as, to return someone’s telephone call, etc.

When a person develops this habit of utilizing the time precisely, Allah facilitates immense actions for him and also puts blessing (barakh) in time. (That is, in short duration a lot is achieved.)

Remember, heedlessness (gaflah) is a bane!”
Al-hamdu li-llah. There is an AP press statement announcement about the forthcoming Zaytuna College.

PLAINSBORO, N.J. (AP) — A group of American Muslims, led by two prominent scholars, is moving closer to fulfilling a vision of founding the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States, what some are calling a "Muslim Georgetown."

Advisers to the project have scheduled a June vote to decide whether the proposed Zaytuna College can open in the fall of next year, a major step toward developing the faith in America.

Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheik Hamza Yusuf of California have spent years planning the school, which will offer a liberal arts education and training in Islamic scholarship. Shakir, a California native, sees the school in the tradition of other religious groups that formed universities to educate leaders and carve a space in the mainstream of American life.

"As a faith community our needs aren't any different than the needs of any other faith community," Shakir told the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, as he sought donations at a recent conference near Princeton, N.J. "As Muslims, we need to develop institutions to allow us to perpetuate our values."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ustadhah Najah Nady via MEISG List:

Dar Al-Iftaa in Egypt announcing its first Islamic studies program for women scheduled between Sunday 12th July 2009 and 9th August in Cairo, Egypt.


To provide an avenue for Muslim women students and professors specializing in Islamic Studies to study the traditional Islamic sciences and advanced classical texts in a methodical and intensive manner with trained scholars from Azhar.

This course and the next courses would be cumulative--meaning that the second year's summer program would build upon the first and so on.

Confirmed Teachers:

Shaykh Ali Joma'a (Grand Mufti, Egypt)
Dr. Seif Eddin Abdulfattah (Cairo University)
Dr. Abduallah Rabiea (Al-Azhar University)
Shaykh Amr Al-Wardany (Secretary, Dar al-Ifta)

Deadline: 15th June.

Fees: $230 including materials and Coffee break.

For more information about teachers, subjects and requirements see the attachments below.

Contact for more information.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The resolutions of the 19th Session of the OIC FA have been published! More to come...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Shaykh Suhaib Webb mentions a statement attributed to the 18th century Maliki legist, Imam al-Sawi (may Allah have mercy on him): هذا الزمان زمان السكوت ولزوم البيوت ومن يقول الحق فيه يموت i.e. "This time is a time [for] silence and clinging to [your] houses: [for] whoever speaks truth, dies." The statement is reminiscient of a hadith: The Prophet (salla llahu `alayhi wa-sallm) said: "The best form of struggle (jihad) is a truthful word [uttered] in the presence of a tyrannical authority".

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Islamic Society Halaqa Series: The Essentials, II (Devotions and Basic Halal/Haram) @ 7 PM, Friday, May 1, in the Harvard Islamic Prayer Space (= Musalla) went well, al-hamdu li-llah! May Allah accept.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MIT MSA and Harvard Islamic Society present a panel discussion on

"Fiqh of Personal Finance"

Imam Suheil Laher (MIT Muslim Chaplain) & Taha Abdul-Basser

Have you ever had questions like:

Are my earnings halal (permissible)? Is it OK to take out loans for med school? Are life insurance policies OK Islamically? What does riba (usury) mean?

If so, then this panel discussion is for YOU!

Thursday, April 30th @ 7:00 PM
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 4-231

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shaykh Suhaib Webb has posted a precious translation of `Allama Muhammad Taqi Usmani's contribution to an anthology of essays in appreciation of the famous Egyptian Muslim religious scholar, Shaykh Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi. As many will know, Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani is one of the world strongest and most respected fuqaha'.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Shaykh Suhaib Webb has posted audio and notes for the first of a series based on Imam al-Muhasibi's Risalat al-Mustarshidin. The text is a gem for any one concerned with internal purification.

Imam Zaid Shakir has translated and annotated the original text. It is available here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here is the transcript of a lecture, "The Incoherence of Claims of Incoherence: Some Remarks on Internal Consistency and Legitimacy in Contemporary Islamic Financial Ethics" that I recently gave at Wharton (U Penn), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 15, 2009.
A must read Newsweek article on a military guard at the US Guantanamo detention center who reverted to Islam at the center.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The text of a lecture that I delivered at Wesleyan University on February 16, 2009 entitled "The Road Ahead?: An Islamic Financial Ethicist's Observations on the Current Economic Crisis and Possible Recovery Strategies is available here as a PDF. May Allah reward Chaplain Ustadhah Marwa Aly and the Wesleyan MSA who invited me.

The following is the conclusion of the text of the speech:

To conclude, the Islamic ethicist would call for deep structural changes to the prevailing financial system [namely]...1) the elimination of interest-based debt financing mechanisms in favor of asset-based financing mechanisms and 2)the elimination of risk-shifting risk management tools in favor their risk-sharing, tangible asset-based counterparts. This evolutionary path, while it may seem radical and strange to some, is, in fact, not. Rather such changes, to a large extent, are consistent with what several economists and finance academics have already been calling for and are likely to continue to call for in the...future.

I look forward to your questions. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Guardian (UK) is reports that Amnesty is suggesting a US arms embargo against Israel in its recent report on the alleged war crimes that occured during Israel's raids on Gaza last month.

Monday, February 23, 2009

According to a letter circulating by Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Imam Siraj Wahhaj is out of the hospital and doing well, al-hamdu li-llah. May Allah preserve him, reward him for all his efforts and continue to benefit us by him!

Follow up (4/3/2009): There is an effort to raise funds for Imam Siraj Wahhaj's treatment. He has been diagnosed with a highly treatable form of cancer.) I encourage people to donate. (

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A statement from our teacher, Imam Mohammed Hamagid Ali, in the wake of the murder of Aasiya Hassan (inna li-llahi wa-inna ilayhi raji`un ["To God do we belong and to Him do we Return"]).

The letter reads:

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is saddened and shocked by the news of the loss of one of our respected sisters, Aasiya Hassan whose life was taken violently. To God we belong and to Him we return (Qur’an 2:156). We pray that she find peace in God’s infinite Mercy, and our prayers and sympathies are with sister Aasiya’s family. Our prayers are also with the Muslim community of Buffalo who have been devastated by the loss of their beloved sister and the shocking nature of this incident.

This is a wake up call to all of us, that violence against women is real and can not be ignored. It must be addressed collectively by every member of our community. Several times each day in America, a woman is abused or assaulted. Domestic violence is a behavior that knows no boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, or social status. Domestic violence occurs in every community. The Muslim community is not exempt from this issue. We, the Muslim community, need to take a strong stand against domestic violence. Unfortunately, some of us ignore such problems in our community, wanting to think that it does not occur among Muslims or we downgrade its seriousness.More...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

While President Obama's recent alArabiya interview (see transcript) has left some even more enthusiastic about the prospect of a substantive change in US policy toward the Muslim world, in a recent essay, M. Junaid Levesque-Alam tackles the dissonance between President Obama's rhetoric and the actions of the US government immediately prior to and following his inauguration. While there is a sentence or two in the essay that goes too far (e.g. "Pity that it was not the Palestinians experiencing this apparent upswing...", which is, from an Islamic point of view, indefensible), Levesque-Alam's main contention is difficult to rebutt.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here is an insightful post from Imam Zaid Shakir on some of the psycho-spiritual dimensions of an ideal Muslim response to the most recent Israeli raids on Ghaza.

Another article by Shaykh Zaid on the application of Islamic ethico-legal principles to modern warfare.