Sample of Riad’s  Other Writing

       Translating the word “Deen” to religion greatly reduces its magnitude and magnificence.  The word DEEN is much greater than just a belief or ideology which is what is usually meant by the word RELIGION.

       DEEN in Islam is not just a dogma or an ideology; it is a comprehensive way of life.

       Islam is not just a religion to believe in, not just worships that we do and rituals that we carry out.  Islam is an integrated approach to life that we should exercise 24/7.  Every breath we take and every second that goes by.

       When we walk and when we talk, we are Muslims

       When we work and when we play, we are Muslims

       When we eat and when we sleep, we are Muslims

       No vacation from Islam and no retirement from Islam

       It is a “Minhaj” or an approach that must be integrated in all aspects of our lives.

       To be able to live Islam, we must (MUST) understand it:  fully comprehend it the same way we understand and comprehend 1+1=2.

       If I raise two fingers and ask how many these are, we all would recognize them as 2.  This is a sign of understanding the fact that 1+1=2.  Only a beginner in Math would count them and say 1+1=2.  To us it became so understood that we did not need to count them or add them. 

       The answer 2 was at the tip of our tongues when the question of how many was raised.  This is the level of comprehension that we need in understanding Islam.  To be fully ingrained in our systems, and to be fully imbedded in our souls.

       It should become second nature to us (better yet, first nature).  No need to think about it, we simply live it and live by it. 

       Islam as a way of life is designed to bring out the best in us human beings.  It is the optimum approach to this universe.

       The early Muslims understood Islam and used it to lead the world.

       As we lost this understanding, the world leads us.

       If we regain the proper understanding of Islam, we would regain the proper position for Islam and Muslims in this world. 

       We would overcome the weakness that we suffer as individuals, the weakness of the Muslim communities and the weakness of the Islamic Ummah.

       So, it is upon us to do our best to understand this DEEN.  To comprehend all its aspects.  To make it our way of life.  Simply put:  TO LIVE IT 24/7.

       Yes, Brs. And Srs., To live Islam, we need to understand it and to understand it; we need to love it and love to study it.

       We need to seriously study it, the way we study the knowledge we need in our professions and even the knowledge we busy ourselves with in our hobbies and in our trivia pursuit.

       We need to study it the way physicians study medicine and the way engineers study engineering

       We need to love it the way we love our hobbies and spend our wealth, time, and energy indulging ourselves in

       We need to take our learning of Islam as serious as we take school and college education

       We go to colleges and universities and learning institutions to become professionals in our fields.

       We take classes, listen to the lectures, read the book, go to the library and get more references and reading material, and we ask the professors to help us with what we could not understand the first time

       We do the extra credit assignments and we discuss class material and homework solutions with our peers.

       We practice what we learn, do the drills and exercises and we go through quizzes and exams.

       We sweat it to get that grade at the end of the course and we struggle to get that degree at the end of our schooling, and we feel proud of our education.

       We feel proud of our understanding and we become eager to put our knowledge to use.

       We love our professions and excel in implementing our knowledge in the field.

       One can not be a good engineer if he/she does not understand engineering

       One can not be a good physician if he/she does not love and understand medicine

       One cannot be an accountant if he/she does not love and understand accounting

       So, to live it, we need to love it and understand it.  Then and only then, do we derive the full benefit of this Deen, and then and only then, that we expect to be at our best and that this Deen would bring out the best in us.

       In the Hadeeth, the Prophet, pbuh, tells us: “Whomsoever Allah would like to guide him to goodness and wellness, Allah would make him understand and comprehend the Deen (of Islam)”

       This Hadeeth is telling us that if we understand Islam then we are on our way to good life and to happiness.

       That is exactly what Islam is for:  a way of life to bring out the best in us and to provide us with the best.  To give us guidance and happiness.  The true happiness that we all dream of.

       The understanding that goes beneath the surface.  The understanding that goes beyond the rules and regulation.  The understanding that goes beyond the rituals.

       We need a true understanding that corrects the immense misunderstanding that killed the Islamic momentum and distorted the Muslim identity.


       Let us test our understanding by examining a Hadeeth that we all know very well and we all assert that we understand and implement.

       Buniyal Islam 3ala Khamsin === Islam was built on FIVE.  These are the exact words narrated to us as a Hadeeth of our Prophet, pbuh.

       Typical understanding of this Hadeeth implies that Islam consists of five pillars: The testimony (Shahadateen), prayer (Salat), Zakat, fasting (Siyam), and Hajj for able adults.

       The picture that comes to mind as a result is that of a structure of five pillars or five columns labeled with the five things: The testimony, prayer, Zakat, fasting, and Hajj.

       In fact, this is how most of us present Islam to others... whenever we are asked about Islam; we quickly and proudly talk about the five pillars of Islam.

       Non-Muslims are always asking and wondering about the five pillars of Islam, the fascination and obsession of now-a-days societies with numbers, counting, and categorization gives the five pillars that prominence in the media.  And we Muslims fall in the trap and we focus on the trivia as opposed to the essence. 

       Moreover, the five column picture is typically used to educate our children about Islam and we see the graphic illustration on posters in our Islamic schools

       In presenting this image, we reduce the beauty of the wholistic and comprehensive scheme of life that Islam brings to humanity to a mere count of five things

       We lost the bigger picture and we lost the objective

       Examining this image of the five pillar structure, we recognize that the testimony should be in fact the foundation to this structure and not just another column

       The correct image is a foundation of Lailah illa Allah, Muhammadun Rasulullah, with the four other columns of prayers, fasting, Zakat and Hajj erected on this essential and fundamental foundation

       As we correct this aspect of the presentation, we discover that the picture is still short of conveying the message.

       We discover that we are in fact presenting Islam as a skeleton structure to a building that was never completed.  A deserted building that is not livable and was never inhabited

       A building that looks like the ruins and remnants of a past.

       Foundation and four columns and no walls, no ceiling, no, furniture, no yard … no life.

       Guess what, that picture truly portrays our limited understanding of Islam.

       We have reduced the way of life (Islam) to rituals.

       We treated Islam as the deserted skeleton of ruins and we do not live there.

       Yes, we erect this bare bone building and we go live somewhere else.

       Who would like to live in a bare bone building of foundation and columns, no walls, no ceiling, no doors or windows, no furniture, no heating or cooling, no garden, … no life?

       We established for ourselves different living quarters with different foundation and different columns and different environment.

       We adopted a completely different lifestyle founded on non-Islamic values and we made it our Deen and our way of life.

       And we maintain the deserted Islamic structure as a place we claim ownership to.

       When we have to, we go visit the Islamic bare bone ruins and rush back to our “more comfortable” habitat as soon as the visit ends.

       We visit to do our prayers and snap right back.

       In Ramadan, again we visit the Islamic “ruins” just like tourists and we return back to our normal life soon afterwards

       We do the same for Zakat and Hajj.

       Yes, it is more like a tourist visit where we get “temporarily” engaged in the event or visit, but we go back to “normal” once the event or the visit is over

       If we were to complete the Islamic building beyond the foundation and columns.  If we were to add the walls, the ceiling, the doors, the windows, the furniture, the heating and cooling, the garden, … and live in it.

       Then and only then that we can claim that we appreciate the meaning of Islam as a way of life.

       If were to build this Islamic house right, with solid foundation, columns that are well founded and well cemented to the foundation, walls and ceiling that are well bonded to the foundation and columns, a structure with integrity and strength, comfortable environment and homey furniture, a pleasant garden with a view, who would not want to enjoy living in such house.

       We would live in this house with joy and pride.

       We would be always looking for opportunities to invite others to visit our house and we would be anxious to show it off.

       But with us living in a different house and maintain the Islamic house as a bare bone skeleton, we have no pride to show the Islamic house to others.

       What are we telling them?  Look how beautiful this skeleton is.  Look at these columns, they truly mean something.

       The natural reply would be: if you truly believe in this as the house to live in, how is it then that you are not living in it.  If this is the mode to adopt, how come you are adopting a different model?

       So, Brs. & Srs., let each one of us ask himself/herself a simple question: Are we truly in full command of this Hadeeth?  Do we really understand and comprehend our Deen?