Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Guidance Residential and like minded mortgage companies doing riba-free business?

One of our brothers in Islam was looking to buying a house by the help of Islamic finance. But he was confused and curious about the existing Islamic home finance companies. There are many other brothers like him.

Guidance Residential is a company that boasts about financing billions of dollars worth of houses in USA. Besides, they are helping people working with them, by providing jobs, Guidance's activities are being questioned.

Ulema say that they are not following Islamic shariah law about financing houses. Many brothers already bought their houses with Guidance Residential. Many others with limited ability, are trying to buy houses with Islamic finance. Both these groups of brothers are now in dilemma about what they should do.

The general explanation the company gives us is - it is kind of rent to buy. The portion of ownership between Guidance and the home-buyer is calculated. According to the agreement the home-buyer is buying back the ownership of the house with monthly installments or mortgage payments, plus paying rent to Guidance for the company's portion of ownership. This explanation seems to be good as far as Islamic finance is concerned.

But ulema say, they're not doing, what they're saying. First of all they are calculating home-buyers' payments by interest rate. So, different home-buyers get different interest rates. Second accusation is - Guidance resells their mortgages. And also offer refinance for the same house that is under their account. Third accusation against Guidance is - they are working for conventional banks, i.e. they are investing money in Islamic home finance from Bank of America or other such banks.

Because of these accusations common Muslim brothers are suffering from confusion and dilemma as they want to buy houses with limited ability. Others are staying away from companies like Guidance Residential because they fear Allah and don't want to take any chance about it.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Hifz Academy calls for parents-meeting exactly at the time of Jumu'ah prayer !

It has been observed for long that Hifz Academy is calling parent meeting at the time of Jumu'ah prayer on Friday. No matter if any guardian says his Jumu'ah prayer or not; can the school call parents meeting at that time? It's completely prohibited. 'Ulema said when the khateeb steps on the mimbar to give the speech, everything you do other than sitting in the Masjid and listening to the speech is haram.

People that fear Allah are trying to find a school that will teach their kids Islam as a complete code of life; not Islam as a new fashion, which might make them 'modern Muslim' but a Muslim. Our Lord - The Creator of haven and earth and everything in between - is giving us an example of what kind of Muslim we should be; when He mentioned about Ibrahim (peace be upon him) in the Holly Quran,"When his Lord said to him Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)! He said, I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)." (2:131)

How can Hifz Academy work towards Islamic teaching if everything they do is not going towards that goal? The school is not truly depicting the Islamic ideology as we can see from this example of calling parent meeting exactly at the time of Jumu'ah prayer. Actually they are mixing up values and trying to give us potpourri of ideologies. Many people in the past trod to the derailment from the path - in Islam and before Islam. That's why it was mentioned in The Holy Quran:

 "They have purchased with the Ayat of Allah a little gain, and they hindered men from His Way; evil indeed is that which they used to do." (9:9) 

Doing wrong in the guise of religion is easy. People from all religious groups, sects and doctrines are doing it and did it in the past. Should we do the same to achieve nothing but Allah's anger!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

We learn disciplined knowledge to make our life in the world better; how about using same knowledge to do better in hereafter

One of the professional opinion about our goal setting - is to write SMART goals.

What is SMART goals? It is an acronym where S stands for 'Specific', M stands for 'Measurable or meaningful',  A stands for 'Actionable', R stands for 'Relevant' and T stands for 'Time-bound'. Why should we write SMART goals? We should write SMART goals so that we can be successful in achieving those goals.

Usually, in our everyday life we are successful most of the time if we aim at an achievable goal. Some people make mistakes and correct them as we would say they go through a trial and error process and finally achieve the goals. But that actually takes long time and there is uncertainty.

It is important to set SMART goals to help us clarify ideas, focus efforts, use resources productively and increase our chance of achieving success.

Now these professional approach is to be successful in everyday business of our worldly life. I was thinking about it - how I can take a professional approach in achieving success in our spiritual goals. All wants to get the garden of paradise in the life hereafter. But are we really trying hard to achieve success in that kind of effort. The same way we try to achieve success in our business - not really.

Why do we have to write specific goals? Because I want to have a concrete idea about what I am trying to achieve. In this case salvation in the Day of Judgement. What is the Day of Judgement or the Day of Standing in front of Allah the Almighty God - the Day of Reckoning. That day no person would be able to help or support another person. People will be completely powerless on that day and only Allah (The Creator of Haven and Earth and everything in between) will have the Supreme Authority, which actually is the eternal truth. If our idea about that day is clear and specific then we can set a goal very specific to achieve salvation on that very day.

First thing first. Be a believer in Allah and the other six categories - such as: angels, books of guidance from Allah, messengers of Allah, Day of Judgement, Kadr of Allah and the day of resurrection. Now if you're a believer first thing is Salah. Never compromise with Salah if you want to 'die a Muslim'. So, being specific about your goal setting needs to be that you'll never compromise with Salah. Never compromise with time of Salah and never with importance of Salah. That is what you need to be specific. The goal is saying five times Salah in time in the Masjid with jama'ah. So, it is measurable that five times Salah with perfect timing needs to be performed. In here I can definitely measure it if I miss one Salah I am failing. What issues I might encounter in achieving five times Salah in a timely manner? My job, my shopping, my family life, my personal life - eating, sleeping and time to keep personal hygiene that is taharah. Everything mentioned here can be the barrier to perform five times Salah in a timely manner.

There comes the Actions require to take to achieve the goal. The challenges that I will face needs to be actively overcome. Here again comes what resources shall I use to remove these barriers. First thing is very easy to overcome. My job. In US there is no job that will stop you saying your Salah in time. To overcome this barrier all you need to do is be prepared for the Salah before the time. Other thing is explain your boss what it is and no one will say no to your Salah in USA.

Then comes shopping. Never go to shopping just before the Salah time. Say your Salah first and then start. Again if you're ready, make your wudu before you start for the shopping mall the next Salah time comes and say your Salah anywhere on this earth. For a Muslim any ground is a musallah. Just the place needs to be free  of filth. Remember everything else can be compromised for Salah. But Salah cannot be compromised for anything.

The next quality of SMART goals is 'Relevance'. Since our goal is to fare equity and straightforwardness and no crookedness in the Day of Judgement. It would be relevant to work towards that goal.

Last but not the least is goal has to be set to achieve success in a timely manner. If one works toward achieving timeliness in his Salah he should set a time in front of him. Let's say in a month I will achieve getting all my Salah in congregation in the masjid. First week he can plan to get his 'Isha and Fajr prayer in jama'ah. This is the first and foremost two Salah that will make sure you're doing quiam all night from Magrib to Fajr. That would be a huge achievement. And to do this one has to do some sacrifice. Sacrifice is not only slaughtering animal. Real sacrifice is waking up early morning to say your Fajr Salah in jama'ah. The next three weeks you'll be able to find a way either to pray your Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib in the masjid or at work in jama'ah with other brothers there.


Hopefully, this professional approach to setting your goal will also work in your religious life as well. Set your SMART goals to achieve success in the life hereafter.

Monday, January 10, 2022

New construction of ISTABA Masjid

Behold the new construction preparation for the expansion of the Masjid at ISTABA. Before such work we didn't see any construction board or any signage depicting the current plan. 

If we look back the previous important construction done at ISTABA was the Hifz Academy part of which is being used as office and party center. Look at the buildings design and construction. This kind of construction need foresight and farsight in it. The school is not a temporary business. The whole community is related to the school and the Masjid. The construction was also not makeshift construction. It is a permanent construction. So why is the school look like a party center in the likeness of the tomb of the Tajmahal or Ajmer in India.

A school, especially an Islamic school must have it's plan. We don't see an Islamic school everywhere in US. Did anyone ask for the best architectural design to call for the school. A pre-K to 12th grade school has to have a lot of accommodations. It will have library, science laboratory, activity clubs, teachers' lounge, office, gymnasium, classrooms, bathrooms, cafeteria, meeting hall etc. This was suppose to be a complex building built to plan - at least a 100 year plan.

Now there is this Masjid expansion construction which was not done with a plan. A civil engineer can draw a plan but since a civil engineer is not an architect, his plan is not going to be an educated plan. A plan by civil engineer has never been a real construction plan. If you look at the construction now you'll clearly see how unplanned it is. They are running the sewerage line under the new construction. These sewerage pipes are going to be inaccessible once the construction is over. This is the current scenario. We are actually undergoing a Masjid construction without proper plan.

As for the school, they have got a few mobile units put together as if it is a school in the jungle of Africa - one room here, one room there! Because the main school building was built unplanned, now they are seeking school accommodation sporadically and in a more chaotic manner. So, the fund the ISTABA authority is using in this purpose, they think it's their money but which is not. It is public money for which they are not ready to be held accountable. What a shame !

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Why can't I talk about HIFZ ACADEMY !

HIFZ ACADEMY, a specialty private elementary, middle and high school dedicated to the memorization of The Holly Quran has a different point of view while parents' opinion comes into consideration. They have declared that any parent or guardian of the students of HIFZ ACADEMY cannot openly criticize the activities of the school or it's authority- about any mismanagement, educational flaws or other concerns of guardian interest.

In this regard they have a page in their school pamphlet threatening guardians or parents about disciplinary action be taken against the students whose parent do any such criticism of the school's quality of education, environment of education, moral and religious integrity of the teachers, administrators, coach, principal or the governing body of the school.

I am opening this discussion to all concerned parties and the authority of the HIFZ ACADEMY to write their comments and concerns in the comment section of this post. Also I am opening this discussion to all and any member of the community who is sending their precious children for education to the HIFZ ACADEMY or any such private schools in Tampa Bay area. Anybody is open to write in this blog his or her concerns or any suggestions on the title of this article.

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