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It has been some time since I last did anything with this blog…..there are many reasons for that I guess.  Reality had the audacity to intrude and demand of me that I actually do things!  I’ve also generally reduced my online life as it had become a distraction from more important things.  But it seems there are still a few people out there who stumble across my little piece of online serenity and when one does I hear the tinkle of bells to alert me to their presence (just in case one was thinking of borrowing the silverware!).  Such an occurrence (the silverware is all accounted for by the way) prompted me to log back on and it seems the last time I was here was in December of 2009.  How do I know this?  Well, it seems that on that day I actually started a post that I never finished and the draft was saved.  All I had written was:

When Allah(swt) created Paradise he directed Jibrail(as) to go and look at what had been created.  Jibrail(as) went and saw the beauty and bounty of Paradise and returned to Allah(swt) and said , Oh Allah anyone who hears of the beauty of Paradise will not be able to help but enter it.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

This post takes a slightly different tack to my normal blogging but I have had reason to consider this issue, our pursuit of happiness, in recent days for a number of reasons and it always helps me to clarify my own thinking if I write things down – this means you have to put up with these odd musings every now and then.

 You know you are starting to get old when you find yourself thinking about why ‘young’ people do what they do and now that I’m on the other side of 40 I guess there is no escaping from this.  But this is what I have found myself thinking about over the last few days – why it is that young people do some of the things that they do and as a parent with children who will soon be at the age when they want to ‘make their own decisions’ it becomes even more important.  Because on what basis do they make these decisions?

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ٱلرَّحِيمِ

ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِين

إِيَّاكَ نَعۡبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسۡتَعِينُ

 والسلام والصلاة على سيدنا محمد وأهله وصحبه والتابعين لهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.  All Praise to our Creator and Sustainer, He whom we Worship Alone and He in whom we seek Refuge.

  And peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad, his Family, Companions and those who follow them with excellence until the Day of Reckoning

 In recent times there has been a trend within some parts of the Muslim community to question the practice of praising the Prophet  or, to be fair, praising him ‘excessively’.  The reciting of poems, the singing of qasidas and the practice of holding mawlids, have all been challenged and in some cases labeled as blameworthy innovation (bid’a). It is not my intention to get into a debate about sufism or salafism or wahabism or any other ‘ism’ in relation to this issue.  Let us put all that nomenclature aside for the moment. 

 What I want to discuss is the practice of praising the Prophet  and whether this claim of ‘excessive’ praising is a valid one or not. It is common ground that praise is due to the Prophet , the only real question is how much and what form should this take.

[For the full article click  Mahaba]

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.  All Praise to our Creator and Sustainer, He whom we Worship Alone and He in whom we seek Refuge.

 Prayers and Blessings upon our Master Mohammad, his family and companions.

 In writing this work I do so as a reminder to myself first and foremost and then to all my brothers and sisters in Islam, intending through such advice to benefit the ‘Umma of Allah(swt)and allow each and every one of us to better meet our obligations to He whom we owe all Praise and Thanks.

 

This will be the first of a series of articles, insha’Allah, which will look at fundamental structural issues within the Australian Muslim community with a view to providing both an explanation for some of the current inhibitors to community development and ultimately to recommendations for moving forward.

The topic I’d like to cover in this discussion is Structure and Strategy – even a cursory knowledge of the issues confronted by the community over the last decade and the manner in which those issues have been responded to will show an approach which is anything but strategic.  One of the factors, and I wish to make it clear that it is only one, that contribute to this failing on our part is the representative organisational structure and a lack of clarity of the role that organisations at different levels of that structure should and do play.

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The Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, an initiative of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, published in its most recent journal an interview with Jeremy Jones, a well known identity within the Australian Jewish community.  The subject of the article was the Muslim-Jewish Relationship in Australia: Challenges and Threats.  Given recent events and the subsequent increase in tensions between the communities, as evidenced by the break in relationship between the two peak bodies, it seems an admirable subject to be talking about it. The full article can be read here:

 http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=4&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=623&PID=0&IID=2974&TTL=Muslim-Jewish_Relations_in_Australia:_Challenges_and_Threats

 Islam is the second largest non-Christian denomination in Australia comprising 1.7% of the population as recorded in the 2006 Census, some 400,000 people.  While the Jewish community is significantly smaller in size it has a long and active history in Australia.  It is only right therefore that the two communities should identify those matters which pose a challenge or threat to ongoing harmony and seek to overcome some of those issues.

 In hindsight I probably should not have had high expectations given the publication and the audience it is aimed at but I am ever the optimist.   The disappointment stems essentially from the following:

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In Parts I & II of this discussion we explored the concept of Justice in Islam and how it may apply to non-Muslims and our dealings with them.  What we saw was a general obligation to treat non-Muslims justly.  The question we left open was did this apply to the ‘enemies’ of Islam and who or what constitutes an ‘enemy’.

This issue of who is an ‘enemy’, I must admit, had been a hard one to grapple with and the experience is just another reason why we should leave these matters, ultimately, to the scholars.  Without having a deep understanding of the primary sources it is far too easy to draw the wrong conclusions.  I guess I am saying this as a disclaimer in relation to what comes next.  As I deepen and broaden my own knowledge I may very well return to this issue and revise the situation.

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There are many programs out there these days which are billed as ‘Leadership’ programs but which are in fact nothing more than just glorified development sessions.  Not that there is anything wrong with them, they do in fact provide some very good tools and insights.  But they are not ‘Leadership’ programs.  There is a saying that goes, if something sounds too good to be true it generally is.  Well, the same applies in leadership – any program that says it can turn you into a great leader over a day or a weekend or even a month or two, sound too good to be true – and it generally is.

What these programs generally cover off are some good fundamental personal skills – presentation, communication, negotiation and the like.  All excellent skills to have and skills which all good leaders have.  But they are not the ONLY skills that leaders have and in the absence of anything else they may make you better at your job but wont really progress you very far along the leadership road.

To genuinely build your leadership skills you will need to have 3 elements:

  1. The theory – an understanding of what it is that makes good leadership;
  2. The practice – an opportunity to practice the theory in a staged approach; learn from that experience and then use it to move on to the next stage of development;
  3. A Mentor – someone who can guide you along the journey.

Obviously there are those rare individuals who have the inherent ability to become great leaders on their own but for the vast majority of us it will take time and hard work – not something that you will get in a 1 day workshop or even a week intensive.

So the first piece of advice if you want to develop your leadership potential is to find a structured program that builds on the learned knowledge, provides an opportunity for you to implement the learnings before moving the next stage and which also provides the possibility for you to access a mentor along the way.