Saturday, December 24, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
First and foremost, we need to emphasize the obvious fact lost on so many that the Qur’an is in Arabic. The Holy Qur’an itself has proclaimed in several places that it has been revealed in the Arabic language (12:2, 13:37, 16:103, 20:113, 26:195, 39:28, 41:3, 41:44, 42:7, 43:3, and 46:12). The reason for the Qur’an being in Arabic is that it should be perfect in every respect:
And indeed We have put forth for men, in this Qur'an every kind of similitude in order that they may remember. An Arabic Qur'an, without any crookedness (therein) in order that they may avoid all evil which God has ordered them to avoid, fear Him and keep their duty to Him. (Qur’an, 39:27-28)
It is obvious that any translation of the Qur’an is NOT the Qur’an. The translation will necessarily be imperfect and will contain some degree of “crookedness”. Thus, the argument that the Qur’an says that a man is allowed to scourge, beat, or be violent towards his wife just because an English translation has used those words, is a reflection of the contender’s ignorance or prejudice. To deal with the issue at hand, we will have to turn to verse 4:34 of the Qur’an as it is in the original Arabic:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاء بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّهُ وَاللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا
The verse has sometimes been translated as follows:
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend [to support them] from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient [to God and to their husbands], and guard in the husband's absence what God orders them to guard [e.g. their chastity, their husband's property, etc.]. As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them [first], [next], refuse to share their beds, [and last] beat them [lightly, if it is useful], but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means [of annoyance]. Surely, God is Ever Most High, Most Great. (Qur’an, 4:34)
The Arabic phrase adh-re-boo-hun-na has been translated to mean “beat” them. The root verb employed here is dharaba, which is used in the sense of “to strike”, but it can be used to mean anything from a gentle tap to a fatal blow, as is evident from its use in the Qur’an at other places:
So We said: "Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow)." Thus God brings the dead to life and shows you His Signs so that you may understand. (Qur’an, 2:73)
Then he turned upon them, striking (them) with (his) right hand. (Qur’an, 37:93)
And indeed We inspired Moses (saying): "Travel by night with My slaves and strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken [by Pharaoh] nor being afraid (of drowning in the sea)." (Qur’an, 20:77)
Then We inspired Moses (saying): "Strike the sea with your stick." And it parted, and each separate part (of that sea water) became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain. (Qur’an, 26:63)
And (remember) when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: "Strike the stone with your stick." Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Each (group of) people knew its own place for water. "Eat and drink of that which God has provided and do not act corruptly, making mischief on the earth." (Qur’an, 2:60)
And We divided them into twelve tribes (as distinct) nations. We directed Moses by inspiration, when his people asked him for water, (saying): "Strike the stone with your stick", and there gushed forth out of it twelve springs: each group knew its own place for water. We shaded them with the clouds and sent down upon them Manna and the quails (saying): "Eat of the good things with which We have provided you." They harmed Us not but they used to harm themselves. (Qur’an, 7:160)
(Remember) when your Lord inspired the angels, "Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes." (Qur’an, 8:12)
And if you could see when the angels take away the souls of those who disbelieve (at death), they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the punishment of the blazing Fire." (Qur’an, 8:50)
Then how (will it be) when the angels will take their souls at death, smiting their faces and their backs? (Qur’an, 47:27)
So, when you meet [in military engagement] those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly. Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity, or ransom [according to what benefits Islam], until the war lays down its burden. Thus (you are ordered by God), but if it had been God's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight) in order to test some of you with others. But those who are killed in the Way of God, He will never let their deeds be lost. (Qur’an, 47:4)
The million-dollar question here is, “In what sense has the verb dharaba been used in verse 4:34?” It is over this question that all the dust is raised. To answer this question, we will turn to the fundamental rule of Qur’anic exegesis, which is that the exegesis of the Qur’an is carried by the Qur’an itself, or al-Qur'an yufassiru bacduhu bacdan (different parts of the Qur'an explain one another) and yuhmal al-mutlaq cala-muqayyad (unqualified statements should be interpreted in the light of qualified ones). Since the implied intensity of the strike mentioned in 4:34 has not been qualified there explicitly, we will interpret it in the light of the qualified statement made at the only other verse in the Qur’an that categorically refers to “wife-beating”:
"And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath. Truly! We found him patient. How excellent (a) slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance (to Us) (Qur’an, 38:44)
Obviously, the kind of “beating” implied is one which does not cause emotional or physical injury but at the same time vents the husband’s anger and frustration, and also passes a strong signal to the wife that the marriage is in serious jeopardy. In this context, the verb “beat” is misleading and treacherous because wife-beating usually has the connotation of involving physical and/or psychological abuse. The word should perhaps be replaced by the relatively more accurate word "hit" or maybe "strike".
The second fundamental rule of Qur’anic exegesis is that the exegesis is carried out in consonance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him. In this connection, the following authentic hadith from Sahih Muslim is indeed a direct exegesis of verse 4:34 from none other than the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, himself:
The Prophet, peace be upon him, in his Farewell Pilgrimage said: "Lo! My last recommendation to you is that you should treat women well. Truly they are your helpmates, and you have no right over them beyond that – except if they commit a manifest indecency (fahisha mubina = adultery). If they do, then refuse to share their beds and beat them without indecent violence (fadribuhunna darban ghayra mubarrih). Then, if they obey you, do not show them hostility any longer. Lo! You have a right over your women and they have a right over you. Your right over your women is that they not allow whom you hate to enter your bed nor your house. While their right over them is that you treat them excellently in their garb and provision."
This is the correct, final, and binding explanation / interpretation / exegesis of the verse in question. Note that the following conditions apply for the beating to be done:
- The wife should have been treated with kindness before.
- The wife has been indulging in manifest indecency (fahisha mubina means openly lewd behavior).
- She has not heeded to verbal admonishment.
- She has not heeded to the refusal of sharing bed with her.
- The beating has to be done without indecent violence (fadribuhunna darban ghayra mubarrih). This certainly does involve the command that the face should not be hit, as is evident from several hadiths.
Continuing with our theme that the second fundamental rule of Qur’anic exegesis is that the exegesis should be in consonance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, the obvious and natural question to ask is, “What is the practice of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, in this regard?” The simple and straightforward answer to this question is that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, never beat any of his wives. Thus, we infer that “beating”, under the conditions stipulated above, is permitted but discouraged.
Now I will turn to an interesting comparison of Islam’s standpoint on wife-beating with the contemporary criminal law on that issue. The following crimes are related to wife-beating:
An abusive relationship is defined as one that is characterized by the use or threat of physical or psychological abuse.
Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause pain, injury, or other physical suffering or harm.
Psychological abuse refers to the humiliation or intimidation of another person, but is also used to refer to the long-term effects of emotional shock.
Domestic violence is any violence between current or former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever and whenever the violence occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse.
Battery involves an injury or other contact upon the person of another in a manner likely to cause bodily harm.
Assault is a crime of violence against another person.
Violence refers to acts —typically connotative with aggressive and criminal behavior —which intend to cause or is causing of injury to persons, animals, or (in limited cases) property.
Injury is damage or harm caused to the structure or function of the body caused by an outside agent or force, which may be physical or chemical.
The common denominator in all these crimes is physical or psychological pain, injury, harm, and damage. The Prophetic commandment of darban ghayra mubarrih (without indecent violence) certainly absolves Islam (and protects Muslims) from the crimes quoted above. Indeed, it is noteworthy that the Islamic and modern concepts of violence are remarkably similar (though there are subtle differences).
Having cleared up the issue of wife-beating as far as Islam is concerned, we may well question, “Why do our antagonists make such a fuss about the verse in question when it is clear that no crime is being committed and the moral high ground, as set out by the beautiful method of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, is to never beat one’s wife?” This is an important question, for it underscores a number of points regarding the psychodynamics of the Islamophobe. You will notice from any Islamophobic article on the Islamic viewpoint of wife-beating that the writer is hell-bent on proving that Islam enjoins or allows violent wife-beating. To that effect, he is ready to use any device through which he can achieve his required aim. He certainly does not believe in the first two fundamental rules of Qur’anic exegesis outlined above. Therefore, he will use meanings and interpretations of words and phrases that are in keeping with his diabolical agenda, rather than use those meanings and interpretations that are in keeping with the rule, “The Qur’an is its own exegesis.” He will also tend to ignore the prophetic Sunnah as a practical exegesis of the Qur’an. Instead of viewing the Qur’an and Sunnah as complementary, he will view them as independent entities and will even seek to prove a contradiction where all that is meant is supplementation. He might even use a hadith with weak authenticity and pit it against a Qur’anic injunction, totally ignoring of course several authentic hadiths which prove the contrary. Such a methodology is entirely understandable since he doesn’t quite love the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him. His final aim is to demonize Islam as a misogynist religion and ultimately prevent women from entering the fold of Islam because, ironically, more women than men are entering Islam (1, 2, 3).
It is unfortunate that some of our Muslim brothers have had to resort to apologetics that are usually the domain of Christian missionaries. This is probably because the level of knowledge has fallen very low these days, just as moral relativism has reciprocally increased exponentially, so we have forgotten the basic fact that Qur’anic exegesis is done through (1) the Qur’an itself, (2) the Sunnah, and (3) the exegesis of the early exegetes. These sources clearly show that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, understood the phrase adh-re-boo-hun-na to mean "strike them" as explained in the foregoing discussion. The other meaning of dharaba as “to leave” (i.e. to get separated from one’s wife) is a valid meaning and even makes sense here, but it is not consistent with the sources of exegesis outlined above. We should be careful and vigilant that in trying to protect our religion from the slander of the Islamophobes, we shouldn’t get caught in their trap of moral relativism.
Reference: “Wife beating”, by G F Haddad (I strongly recommend that you read this article.)
Thursday, December 01, 2005
God has been exercising his Power of Veto since time immemorial. It was God who majestically turned down the angels with the immortal words, "I know that which you do not know". It was God who saved Abraham from the fire, Joseph from the well, Jesus from the cross, and Muhammad from the Quraysh - peace and blessings be upon them all. It seems that God has the habit of throwing in the Ace at the last moment when you least expect it.
Do you seriously think that He will let the Muslim community wander endlessly in the wilderness and die of genocide?
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Overview and Epidemiology: Islamophobia is a syndrome caused by infection with a virus called the Human Islamophobia Virus (HIV, not to be confused with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the causative agent of AIDS). Though the syndrome has been officially recognized for the past fourteen centuries, it is thought to have existed since pre-historic times. The first documented case of Islamophobia was a patient named Abu Lahab who lived in the Arabian city of Makkah circa 1400 years ago. The syndrome soon spread into an endemic in the aforementioned city, but it became pandemic and has now assumed the proportions of a worldwide epidemic.
Symptoms and Signs: The patient may present to the clinic on his own with a neurotic phobia of Islam, but more often than not he is brought to the clinic in a state of psychosis with manifest paranoid persecutory delusions often associated with delusions of grandeur. The patient may give a history of hypnopompic hallucinations involving visions of horses and swords. The symptoms start in early adolescence and last for a lifetime (see Treatment below). Physical examination reveals a high level of distress, irritable mood, and pathetic affect. Cognition is severely impaired; and speech is circumlocutory and filled with hate. Personality tests are noncontributory.
Treatment: The neurotic form of the syndrome can be cured with exposure therapy. Gradual increasing doses of Islam can lead to tolerance with excellent results. In such cases, therapy with antiviral treatment is not indicated and may even be counterproductive due to the occurrence of side-effects. In contrast with the neurotic form of the syndrome, the psychotic form has evaded cure so far. In the patient who suffers from the psychotic form of the syndrome, the virus is known to treacherously mutate itself when challenged with standard antiviral medication. The microbe has developed several specific types and strains, and it is thought that prevention is the best cure for this evasive virus. In this connection, trials are underway for a promising new vaccine at the Wahabbi Research Laboratories (WRL, also known as What-the-hell Research Laboratories). The new vaccine, called HBV (Hate Bush Vaccine, not to be confused with hepatitis B virus), has successfully passed the rodent stage and is now all set for trial on human subjects.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Now, I know that one will find similar qualities across different religions and peoples, but to find all these qualities in the same religion, and sometimes in the same individual, is a unique phenomenon. So, what makes a Muslim tick? They say that money makes the mare go. But what makes the Muslim go? Surely not money! For if it were money that made the Muslim "go", then your Saudi Sheikhs would have been some of the greatest people on Earth. Anywayz, I will pose this question to my readers, and let's see what the verdict is ...
Monday, November 14, 2005
A List of US Military Interventions in Various Countries
- China, 1945-51
- France 1947
- Marshall Islands, 1946-58
- Italy, 1947-70s
- Greece, 1947-49
- Phillipines, 1945-53
- Korea, 1945-53
- Albania, 1949-53
- Eastern Europe, 1948-56
- Germany, 1950s
- Guatemala, 1953-90
- Costa Rica, mid-1950's, 1970-71
- Haiti, 1959
- Western Europe, 1950s-60s
- British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64
- Soviet Union, 1940s-60s
- Vietnam, 1945-73
- Cambodia, 1955-73
- Laos, 1957-73
- Thailand, 1965-73
- Ecuador, 1960-63
- The Congo/Zaire, 1960-65, 1977-78
- France/Algeria, 1960s
- Brazil, 1961-64
- Peru, 1965
- Dominican Republic, 1963-65
- Cuba, 1959 to present
- Ghana, 1966
- Uruguay, 1969-72
- Chile, 1964-73
- Greece, 1967-74
- South Africa, 1960s-80s
- Bolivia, 1964-75
- Australia, 1972-75
- Portugal, 1974-76
- East Timor, 1975-99
- South Korea, 1980
- Fiji, 1987
- Bulgaria, 1990-91
- Albania, 1991-92
- Philippines, 1950s
- Italy, 1948-70s
- Lebanon, 1950s
- Vietnam, 1955
- British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64
- Japan, 1958-1970s
- Nepal, 1959
- Laos, 1960
- Brazil, 1962
- Dominican Republic, 1962
- Guatemala, 1963
- Bolivia, 1966
- Chile, 1964-1970
- Portugal, 1974-5
- Australia, 1974-75
- Jamaica, 1976
- Panama, 1984, 1989
- Nicaragua, 1984, 1990
- Haiti, 1987-88
- Bulgaria, 1990-91 & Albania, 1991-92
- Russian, 1996
- Mongolia, 1996
- Bosnia, 1998
U.S. Interventions in the Muslim World
- Iran, 1953
- Middle East, 1956-58
- Indonesia, 1957-58
- Iraq, 1958-63
- Indonesia, 1965
- Iraq, 1972-75
- South Yemen, 1979-84
- Libya, 1981-89
- Afghanistan, 1979-92
- Somalia, 1993
- Iraq, 1990s
- Indonesia, 1955
Thursday, November 10, 2005
- you think that Islam is some Arabic religion
- you want your wife to wear the hijab and/or niqab, but you can't help watching that sexy girl on television
- you don't want to know that a time will come when you will be very ugly indeed
- you think that tasteful nudity is not vulgar
- you don't want God to reveal Himself to a man who thrives in a desert and lives in a mud house
- you think that God has lost His case because someone in Guantanamo Bay blasphemed the Qur'an
- you think that Islam is a great religion, but you don't want Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be your master
- you think that Islam needs modification to suit modernity
- you feel that God is wonderful when something happy happens to you, but you feel that God is not-so-wonderful when something unhappy happens to you
- you want to own a better car than your colleague's
- you have a very good excuse for not praying when the time for prayer comes
- you think that religion is the antithesis of science
- you don't want to know that your beautiful body converts your good-smelling food into bad-smelling shit
- you think that science is the antithesis of religion
- you are ok with your wife not wearing hijab, but you complain about the nudity on television
- you consistently fail to shed tears in remembrance of God
- you think that God is currently on the losing side because apparently there is more evil than good in the world today
- you do not shave your armpits and pubic hair regularly
- you think that you can deliver a scholarly discourse now that you have access to a searchable online index of the Qur'an and/or Hadith
- you think that since your parents christened you when you were born, you would like to die as a Christian
- you think that it is ok for you to cheat on your spouse because you know that he (or she) has also cheated on you
- you think that Islam is some third-world religion
- you are not comfortable with the idea of some people being doomed to Hellfire, because God "isn't cruel"
- you think that a woman should have the right to expose her body completely, but should not have the right to cover her body completely
- you are not often lost in thoughts about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
- you turn to spirituality when you feel physically ugly
- you think that shirk is an Islamic invention
- you say the word f*** at least ten times in a day
- you think that you will go to Heaven because you have never even as much as violated a traffic signal
- you think that your good deeds will take you to Heaven
- you think you can bring a revolution in your country, but you consistently fail to bring a revolution in your own self
- you think that tasawwuf (sufism) is a heresy
- you think that Islam has encouraged polygamy
- you want to look at beautiful women because the Hadith says that "God is beautiful and He loves beauty"
- you want to be the most famous person in the world
- you think that shirk only means believing in more than one God
- you think that homosexual marriages should be allowed since it is somebody's own private business
- you think that it is ok for a woman to lead men in congregational prayer
- you think that Islam is an ancient religion
- you are not a practising Muslim because the Qur'an says, "There is no compulsion in religion"
- you think that Muslims worship an idol named Ka'bah
- you don't want to know that you are the product of a filthy liquid
- you fail to see what is so damn sinful about drinking alcohol
- you know five reasons why the chicken crossed the road, but you are still trying to figure out why God created Man
- you want to look sexy because it makes you feel good about your body
- you want to own a better car than your neighbour's
- you think that all men are equal
- you tell your kid to say to the man on the line that you are not at home
- you have been disrespectful to a Muslim scholar at some point in your life
- you think that since sex is a natural desire, it is ok for you (though you aren't married)
- you don't want to apologize to that man because it makes you feel that you are inferior to him
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
1. Eid should NOT be the harbinger of an eleven-month period of forgetfulness.
2. There are people who deserve the same happiness in Eid as you, but are not as gifted as you. So DO make sure that they are as happy as you on Eid day.
Monday, October 31, 2005
It is no wonder then, that the Qur'an announces at its very inception that it is the book in whose credibility there can be absolutely no doubt:
"This is the Book in which there is no doubt [about its authenticity or authorship]..." (Qur'an: 2,2)
In these days of uncertainties, it is heart-warming to know that there is a helping hand out there which is a sure hand and is never mistaken. Perhaps we should revert back to this 1400-year old ancient document that will never betray us, ever.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
"Is an ideal Islamic state any more possible than the ideal communist society (in real life, communism is a totalitarian nightmare), or the ideal individualist anarchy (in real life, anarchy means rule by gangs of thugs)?
After all, three out of the four Khalifah Rashidun were assassinated... "
Due to the importance of the question, I have decided to answer it in a separate entry. Here is my answer:
You have asked a very pertinent and important question. You may not have noticed it, but the answer to your question lies in the question itself: Communism and individualism are two opposite extremes, and in the middle of these two extremes lies Islam. The ideal Islamic state is the perfect balance between totalitarianism and anarchy. As such, the ideal Islamic state is very much possible, as has been borne out by experiment. The "role-model" Islamic State is, of course, the State of Medina that was ruled by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). The State of Medina was an incredible reality, for, apart from containing all the ingredients of an ideal Islamic state, it also was an incredible success, having survived against all odds. This state was expanded and worked upon by the Khulafa Rashideen, who ensured the guaranteed delivery of human rights to the general population. Afterwards, we have had "near-ideal" Islamic states at various points in history. Cordoba, Cyprus, Baghdad, Samarkand, and Bukhara were all Islamic welfare states at different times in history.
The problem in creating an ideal Islamic state is that forces of totalitarianism and forces of individualism automatically align themselves against the Islamic state, making survival an issue. Thus, any ideal Islamic state will find itself at odds with imperialistic powers from without and anarchic rebellions from within. This creates extreme strain on the nascent Islamic state, which is an otherwise beautifully balanced society. It is no wonder then that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had to fight several battles during his ten-year stay at Medina. Likewise, the Khulafa Rashideen were constantly engaged in military conflict with the imperialistic Roman and Byzantine empires. They also faced individualistic rebellion from within the Islamic state, which they had to crush with force. It was their engagement with these internal rebellions that led to the assassinations of the Khulafa Rashideen.
It would, however, be cruel to deduce that since three of the four Khulafa Rashideen were assassinated, the ideal Islamic state is "not possible". To understand how monstrous this error is and how great this blunder is, consider the assassination of American president, John Kennedy. I do not intend to compare Kennedy's worth with the Khulafa Rashideen, but one can draw lessons from analogy. Should one deduce that the reforms instituted by Kennedy are "not possible" in today's world because Kennedy was assassinated? Does Kennedy's assassination mean that he was an unpopular ruler? Should Kennedy's assassination be a lesson for us that Kennedy's ideas or ideals were unworthy? The clear answer to all these questions is "No". It turns out that some people have drawn perverse deductions from the assassinations of the Khulafa Rashideen. Foremost among these are the Western "orientalists", who have been spewing propaganda against Islam for the past several centuries. These "orientalists" claim to be specialists in Islam. As such, they are specialists in the art of maligning Islam, specialists in the art of mixing truths with lies, and specialists in the art of throwing dust in people's eyes. God protect us from the evil of the prejudiced historian of Islam.
Monday, October 24, 2005
In response to a previous post titled "On the Hijab ...", Mr. George Carty has asked me in his comment why the hijab provokes such a strong reaction in non-Muslims. I have attempted to give an explanation at the comments section of the "On the Hijab ..." entry, but Mr Carty is right in noting that my reply is comprehensive enough to warrant a separate entry, so here is my reply.
To understand why the hijab provokes such a strong reaction in non-Muslims, especially Western non-Muslims, one must consider the history of Europe. It may be noted, as I have noted in my original posting, that Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon him), preferred to wear the hijab, as can be attested by the fact that virtually all portraits of the blessed lady have depicted her with the hijab. At some point in history, Christian women got rid of the hijab, even though portraits of Mary (may God be pleased with her) continued to depict her with the hijab. The hijab, which was originally meant for all women, became confined only to a select group of women called the nuns. It was the historic battle between the Church and Science during the European Renaissance that finally helped to make the hijab so unpopular in Europe.
Everyone knows about how the Church was a great impediment to the progress of Science. The reason for this unfortunate conflict was the injection of Greek philosophy into the Bible centuries before the Renaissance even started. A significant portion of this Greek philosophy was unscientific and simply nonsense, but the upholders of the Church, unaware of this historic reality, sought to uphold the Bible as sacrosanct and thus vehemently opposed anything that was opposed to their set beliefs and patterns of thinking. In the battle between the Church and Science, the latter emerged victorious. While this victory paved the way for scientific progress and technological advancement in Europe, it also ensured the separation of the Church from the State. The Church, having thus lost its influential power, became an object of attack by the upholders of Science. Atheism became increasingly popular and morality levels plunged. Religion became "unscientific", faith became "blind", and secularism became the new religion of the European. Practices associated with religion became unpopular and frowned upon. One of these practices is the hijab, which, because of its association with nuns, became a symbol of oppression reminiscent of the oppression of the Church to advancement and progress. Thus, the woman who wears the hijab came to be considered as backward, conservative, or fundamentalist.
A very different story is found when one considers the history of Islam. It is important to note that while Christianity did away with the hijab, Islam did not. At the same time, while Christianity found itself at odds with Science, Islam found itself to be the impetus for Science. While Christianity lost its alliance with the State, Islam presented a framework for the establishment of the State. Thus emerges the modern Muslim woman, smart, confident, educated, and professional, with her all-too-conspicuous hijab. The European non-Muslim fails to come to terms with this combination of qualities because history seems to tell him, "There is something terribly wrong with that combination". Hence the strong emotional reaction.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Our response to the Western use of the term "dark ages" has been regrettably lukewarm. When answering the prejudiced Western writer, we tend to make statements such as "Islam was enjoying its Golden Age at a time when Europe was drowned in its Dark Ages". Such a well-meaning statement may seem quite ok at first sight, but implicit in that statement is the fact that we have come to accept the term 'dark ages' that Western historians want to use. This is a monstrous error and should never be made. If Northern Europe was in a dark period of its history, one shouldn't say that they were in "their" dark ages, for by analogy, we Muslims are in "our" dark ages today, yet we hardly use the term "dark ages" for the present times. I will add in parentheses that if Rome and Greece are a part of Europe, then so is Spain, and it would be outright hypocritical to say that Europe was in glory during the Roman and Greek civilizations, yet it was "in its dark ages" during Islamic Spain's 800-year wonderful civilization.
The civilization spurred by Islam in the medieval ages was undoubtedly the greatest civilization witnessed by humanity. The Islamic civilization of the medieval ages produced a social system that guaranteed the rights of the individual, including women’s rights and minority rights – something which has not yet been achieved fully by the West. The literacy rate reached an unparalleled 100% in Islamic Spain, which is unmatched by present-day America, which stands at 99%. One should study in detail about the banking system, the military system, the sewerage system, the education system, and what not, developed by the Islamic civilization of the middle ages. One will come to the straightforward conclusion that the Islamic social system of the medieval ages was the most advanced system ever developed.
(Adapted from a posting I made on the Muslim Heritage website. Please see the Muslim Heritage website for information about the rich intellectual Muslim heritage that has been stifled in history books.)
Monday, October 17, 2005
The other day, Geo TV aired the 1976 movie, The Message, as part of its Ramadan package. I have seen this movie quite a few times before, yet I felt the same sense of wonderment while watching it now that I had felt when I had watched the movie for the first time. The movie seeks to depict in a highly summarized manner the 23-year prophetic struggle of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). While the movie does a good job of what it portends to do, namely portray the reality of the times of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), I am nevertheless struck by the question of why the movie never seems to lose its attraction for people. It is just as popular today as it was some thirty years ago and it would be no exaggeration to say that The Message has been one of the most watched movies. One wanders what is so deeply attractive about a movie that is neither a love story nor an epic adventure, but is only the story of the personal ambition of a single man for an achievement that is next to impossible. Perhaps it is the fact that that the movie allows one to imagine one were there at the time all those events happened. The swords, the battles, the dialogues, the treaties, the conspiracies, the blessings, the people, the desert, the horses, and the camels, all combine to create a very real atmosphere that is devoid of any surrealism or false hypnotism. As such, the movie is a must-see for all Muslims (and non-Muslims too). Watch it!
Friday, October 14, 2005
Yet, amidst this greatness, this brotherhood, and this generosity, there were people, quite well-to-do people, wealthy, rich, affluent people, who have not had a single rupees' worth on their credit to the quake victims. They may have listened to the news on the television and cast a pitying glance at the faces of the tormented victims, but they could not be motivated enough to actually do something for the victims. Their love of wealth prevented them from spending their wealth, their love of comfort prevented them from going out of their way to help those in need, and their love of power prevented them from heeding to the cries of the powerless and the helpless.
Earthquakes are an unusual time in history, for they tend to bring out the good and the bad in people. In this respect, it is instructive to study what the Qur'an says about the Final Earthquake, the harbinger of the Day of Reckoning:
1. When the Earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake.
2. And when the Earth throws out its burdens.
3. And Man will say: "What is the matter with it?"
4. That Day it will declare its information [about all what happened over it of good or evil].
5. Because your Lord has inspired it.
6. That Day humankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
7. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.
8. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.
May God grant us with more than a mountain's weight of good and less than an atom's weight of evil.
Monday, October 10, 2005
The lesson to be learnt for all of us is that the rebirth of Islam from the current state of ignominy will necessarily entail some amount of military conflict. Those people who discount the role of the Sword in the name of pacifism do a great disservice to Islam. I would also like to mention as a disclaimer the fact that Islam is the most pacifist religion; the killing of innocent civilians is expressly prohibited in Islam and the present-day acts of terrorism cannot find their motivation from Islam.
A Question from Thoughts & Readings
A dear brother of mine posted this at ‘Thoughts & Readings’:
Hatim Al-Asamm asserted, ‘Do not be deceived by righteous places, for there is no place more righteous than Paradise, and consider what Adam [peace be upon him] met with in a righteous place! And do not be deceived by abundant acts of worship, for consider what Iblis came to after so much worship. And do not be deceived by large quantities of knowledge, for Balaam knew the Greatest Name of God, and consider what he met with! And do not be deceived by meeting the pious, for there is no person with a greater destiny than Mustafa [may God's blessing and peace be upon him], and meeting him did not benefit [some of] his relatives and enemies.’
And brother Fayyaz Khan posed a very good question as such:
‘If one isn't to be deceived by righteous places, abundant acts of worship, large quantities of knowledge, and meeting with the pious, then how is one supposed to follow the right path? What is the foolproof method to get rid of this network of deception?’
In my humble opinion, the great Hatim al-Asamm (may God be pleased with him) said such to prevent negligence on the part of seekers, when it comes to realising that total dependance on God is the ultimate cause of salvation and the attainment of the Divine Truth.
Performing abundant acts of worship, attaining large quantities of knowledge and regular meetings with the pious are all extremely beneficial means to a greater end. But all that, not complemented with the dire need of God's grace will deceive the seeker into assuming that he is progressing on the right path, causing him to be fully satisfied with his current state and actions.
That particular state of self-satisfaction is the deception, not the acts of worship, abundant knowledge and meetings with the pious.
We have heard and read of extreme acts of worship and self-mortification by the Sufis while failing to see that these Sufis do not actually take into account what they have done and how much, all they consider is Who all that was for. They are never satisfied with themselves, always satisfied with God and seek only His satisfaction.
Therefore, the proper method of approach to God must always be based on fear and utter need of His grace. If one is in a state which is deemed good, one must always be aware that God has the ability to remove him/her from that state, if He so chooses.May God bless and protect us!
Posted by Shaik Abdul Khafid at 10/10/2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
`O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I don't know whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be here. O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.'
'Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things. O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with his permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never be unchaste. O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in zakat. Perform hajj if you can afford to. All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.'
'Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim, and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not go astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone. O People, no Prophet or Apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to all others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.'
The sermon summarises the Message of Islam in a nutshell. As such, the words, 'All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to all others and those to others again', mean that the sermon was meant for an unlimited audience. Besides, the prophetic statement, 'All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action', is a clear indication that the intended audience is not only the Arab nation but in fact it is the whole of humanity.
The Last Sermon gives us the specialist's prescription by which an Islamic Renaissance can be achieved in an individual, in a family, in a community, in a nation, and finally, in the Ummah. The formula has the advantage that it has the full endorsement of God and His Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, it is the only viable working algorithm that can lead to success. The formula constitutes the following main points.
- Belief in the Finality of Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): There will be no prophet after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Any claimant to this position will be considered nothing more than a crook and the religion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will be considered final and binding.
- Belief in the sanctity and utility of the Qur'an: The Qur'an will be considered the final, unaltered Word of God and will be followed in letter and spirit.
- Belief in the sanctity and utility of the Sunnah: The prophetic example will be followed as the "gold-standard".
- Belief in the Reckoning: God will undoubtedly reckon our deeds, so we should be prepared for it.
- Fundamental rituals of Islam: The five daily prayers (salah), the daily fasts of Ramadan, the wealth tax (zakat), and the Hajj (pilgrimage), will be obligatory and binding on all Muslims.
- Position of women in Islam: Women have the right to be fed and clothed in fairness and be treated with kindness. Those people who think that Islam is "unfair" to women think so only out of ignorance or sheer prejudice.
- Equality of the human race: The fact that the Qur'an is in Arabic and that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) preferred to speak in Arabic does not make Islam racist or myopic in any sense.
- Equity within the human race: There will be zero tolerance for injustice; neither will we allow ourselves to be unjust nor will we allow injustice to be done upon us.
- Brotherhood within Islam: The more than one billion Muslims in today's world are all one brotherhood. Like brothers, we should be concerned for each other's welfare; like brothers, we should help each other; and like brothers, we should be united as one family.
- Be honest: Do not hurt people's trusts.
- Do no harm: 'Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you' is a universal statement that extends to non-Muslims too; that is, a Muslim is not allowed to hurt a non-Muslim under normal circumstances. Those people who think that Islam is out there to hurt non-Muslims should shut up their mouths after listening to this prophetic statement.
- Interest (usury) is outright illegal: No matter what the gurus of today's economics say, the fact remains that interest is illegal. Interest is one of the most heinous means to enslave humanity, as can be witnessed by the plight of nations that are under debt to the big financial institutions. The brilliant success of Islamic banks has proven through experiment that Islamic banking is a better alternative to interest-based banking.
- Islam is for all times: The prophetic statement, 'And may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly' clearly indicates that the Last Sermon is meant to be passed on to future generations till eternity. It is meant to be understood and followed by all who listen to it.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Where art thou, Andalusia?
Friday, September 30, 2005
In his ground-breaking book, Creation of Man, A Review of the Qur'an and Modern Embryology, Professor Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, one of the most eminent scholars of Islam, has clearly shown how the Qur'an unambiguously discusses the chemical and biological stages of the creation of Man. Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri's book is a must-read for students who are seriously interested in researching the relationship between Islam and Science. For the benefit of knowledge-seekers, the book is available online free of cost.
In Chapter 2 of his book, the learned professor has completely demolished the unscientific myth of Darwinian evolution in the light of unassailable and overwhelming modern scientific evidence. The book is an eye-opener for those who do not believe in the concept of "intelligent design". Check it out!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Col Sahb's email:
Dear Dr. Fayyaz
LETTER TO EDITOR
September 23rd, 2005
Yaum e Tahreem
Maulana Hamid Ali Mousavi has called to observe Yaum e Tahreem in the memory of recent deaths of some Shias of eminence. Though I am a Shia myself yet, I feel that the Maulana is given such mourning calls rather too often. We are called upon to observe the Shahadat of most Imams and their Ashaab & Ahbaab on certain days by allocating each one of them a special name. I was seventeen at the time of partition and had never heard of such days. It all started with the influx of more knowledgeable and “superior” Syeds and Shias migrating from central India who brought with them such ritualistic practices to Pakistan. This has made Shias altogether a distinct community of Muslims and has distanced them from the main stream. Needless to say that it is not at all in the interest of Pakistan and its one nation.
Our Sunni Ulema too do not fare much better in the matter of merry making in Islam. Any thing entertaining is Makrooh if not Haram in their eyes. So much so, that even laughing joyously and whole heartedly is not approved by them. Of course, music is satanic to them. Shias go one step further. Not only that they deny themselves any merry making but they must mourn. Weep and cry remembering the sufferings of the Imams and their families before any thing which can bring them some happiness - such as Eid, marriage of the children or any other celebration entail! ing happiness.
When are we going to really enjoy the bounties that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us? When are we going to spend happily in the name of Allah (swt) and enjoy it ? I would request the Maulana and all other Ulema to give some call for the joyous merry making also some day, such as Jashan Fatah e Makka, when the Muslims all over could come out of their homes, in their best dresses, and sing and dance in the streets and cities. Let’s also enjoy something and be happy about it.
Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
Salam Col Sb...
That was a very thought-provoking email. You have hit upon one crucial point in your analysis, and that is:
Why do the self-styled "ulemas" emphasize upon one virtue of religion at the expense of another point of the religion?
This is an extremely important question and I think that in the answer to this question lies the answer to ALL our contemporary questions about religion. The fact of the matter is that Islam is the religion of moderation par excellence. Despite present-day claims of "enlightened moderation" that some stooges of Westernism make, the moderation prescribed by Islam is just as applicable today as it was 1400 years ago. But unfortunately, Islam has been taken hostage by a heterogenous group of self-styled pseudo-scholars who have made every attempt to interpret Islam with their own myopic lens. I call these ulemas as "self-styled" because, instead of following the moderate path set out in the Holy Quran, practised by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), and followed on by a legacy of 1400 years of Islamic scholarship, these ulemas have twisted, tortured, and corrupted Islam to suit their own whims. There are, for example, those ulemas who think that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was "bashar" (human) but not "noor" (light), when in fact he was the perfection of both bashar and noor. Then there are those who emphasize on the "fear of Hell" (khauf) at the cost of the "hope of Heaven" (umeed). There are also those idiots who think that the role of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was only to transmit the Divine message and that love and personal attachment with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has no place in Islam. The truth is that love and personal attachment with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is what Islam is all about! Finally, as you mentioned, there are those who stress upon the sad days of the year at the cost of the happy days of the year. These ill-advised pseudo-scholars do not realize that they are preaching this pessimism at the cost of Islam itself. The bottomline is that one should modify one's whims to suit the preachings of Islam and not modify the preachings of Islam to suit one's one whims.
Having said that, I would like to say that there ARE, even in these days of ignorance, true scholars of Islam to whom the the Holy Prophet's (peace be upon him) saying, "The scholars of my Ummat are like the Prophets of Bani Israeel" could be applied very aptly. It is our responsibility to search for and follow these gems of the Ummah so that we can make the World a better place to live in.
Dr Fayyaz Khan
Col Sahb's response to my response:
Dear Dr. Sahib:
You have summed up beautifully and all encompassingly when you say,"The bottom-line is that one should modify one's whims to suit the preachings of Islam and not modify the preachings of Islam to suit one's whims." Regarding your second point that "there are even in these days of ignorance, true scholars of Islam", I agree that there are such scholars but unfortunately there are dubbed as the 'renegades' or heretics by the 'established' Ulemas of stereotyped schools of thought.
Dr. Taha of Egypt was one such scholar. He was one of nine children of a poor farmer, became blind in infancy. Studied in mosques and madrissas. Wrote his first paper at the age of nine. Kept studying and found himself in a French university. Married the lady who helped him with is studies. Got his doctorate from France in some Islamic discipline - that I don't remember now. Came back to Egypt. Rose to be the Rector of Al-Azhar and later Minister of Religious Affairs in the Federal cabinet. Wrote a number of books, papers on Islam - focussing of early Islamic history and causes of its degeneration. He was declared heretic and once when in Iraq was sentenced to death for his such views. More than 100,000 telegrams were sent in a day from all over the world to the Iraqi govt., who spared his life but banished him from Iraq. Egypt had already exiled him. Died some time back in Beirut. A series of his four books on the four Khulfa-e-Rashideen makes a very illuminating and thought provoking study.
Col. Jafri (Retd)
Well, I'll reserve my views on the personalities mentioned by Col Sahb in his emails, but Col Sahb is one very interesting person, isn't he?
Friday, September 23, 2005
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً
Indeed in the Messenger of God (Muhammad) you have a beautiful example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) God and the Last Day and remembers God much. (33:21)
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character. (68:4)
How can one attempt to follow the "gold-standard" character of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) without the Hadith literature?
قُلْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ
Say (O Muhammad): "Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad)." But if they turn away, then Allah does not like the disbelievers. (3:32)
وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
And obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad) that you may obtain mercy. (3:132)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً
O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. (4:59)
وَمَن يُطِعِ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاء وَالصَّالِحِينَ وَحَسُنَ أُولَـئِكَ رَفِيقًا
How can one obey the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) without access to the Hadith literature?
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The French authorities may have banned schoolgirls from wearing the Hijab on the pretext that this was tantamount to advertisement of religion - which is not permitted in French schools. But if Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon him) could wear a hijab, then why not our sisters and mothers?
Note: I have censored the depiction of the face of Mary, may God be pleased with her, according to the beautiful method of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), who immediately covered a portrait of the blessed lady with his hand when he noticed it inside the Ka'aba at the occasion of the Conquest of Makkah.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The United States has launched an alleged war against terror. This is the newest link in a chain of events that have been unfolding for quite a while. Nine/eleven was a single terrible event that is now serving as a scapegoat for a whole new series of terrible events in the world that are almost always targeted against Muslims. Irrespective of who is responsible for 9/11, there can be no doubt about the fact that there have always been a small number of extremist elements amongst us who have created mischief while the Muslim community as a whole remained pacific. These extremist elements have restricted themselves in the past to terrorist activities within the Muslim community, but of late they have expanded their horizons and thought it more advisable to play the enemies' own dirty game against him. Ill-advised as such a manner of thinking is, it has only served to sandwich the Muslim community between the terrorist extremist element within itself and the terrorist of the World, which is America. It is admittedly difficult to manouevre in such a tight situation, but there sure is a way out of it. As the final Ummah, it is imperative that we unite against both enemies - the enemy on the right, as well as the enemy on the left - and affirm our position with an assertive stance (and I am NOT talking about General Pervez Musharraf's sycophantic attitude here!).
Anywayz, one wonders how terrifying this war would be that is supposedly pitched against terror. God protect us from the terrors of this terrible war.