Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Was Lifetime Member of Minhaj-ul-Quran International ...

"Benazir Bhutto was a gallant daughter of a dauntless father."
"It is a heinous conspiracy and a dangerous maneuver of hidden hands to dismember Pakistan."
"It is a serious failure of the government and law-enforcing agencies."

Dr Qadri’s telephonic press conference at Lahore Press Club from Canada

Chairman PAT Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri says his heart is filled with grief and sorrow over the brutal murder of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto. May Allah bless her with forgiveness and peace. Expressing solidarity with the family members of the late Benazir Bhutto, PPP workers, leaders and the nation at large, Dr Qadri strongly condemned her assassination saying: It is the murder of democracy and political freedom and a heinous conspiracy and a dangerous maneuver of hidden hands to dismember Pakistan. Paying tributes to the dynamic leadership of Banazir Bhutto he called her a gallant daughter of a dauntless father whom the unforeseen forces have removed from the scene. She was a political leader of high stature. Dr Qadri was addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club telephonically from Canada. Nazim-e-Aala MQI Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi, Naib Nazim-e-Aala Shaikh Zahid Fayyaz, Anwar Akhtar Advocate, GM Malik and Director Media MQI Dr Shahid Mahmud were present on the occasion.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also removed from the scene by the hidden hands for his Nuclear Programme and holding Islamic Summit Conference at Lahore and now Benazir Bhutto has also been targeted and eliminated in continuation of the same antagonism of the hidden forces. But it is also a serious failure of the government and the law-enforcing and peace-keeping agencies, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said. He told the conference that he and Benazir Bhutto worked together on the platform of Pakistan Awami Ittihad and in GDA political struggle. ‘She visited Minhaj-ul-Quran Secretariat and my place on many occasions and I also visited Bilawal House, Karachi. She was a leader with a political vision,’ Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said while talking about his political contacts with Benazir Bhutto. He told the press that a funeral prayer in absentia for the late Benazir Bhutto was offered in MQI’s Islamic Centre Jami Masjid Al-Mustafa, Toronto, Canada which was attended by the local PPP leaders.

He said that Benazir, greatly impressed by the social, welfare, and educational projects of Minhaj-ul-Quran, came to the MQI Centre, London, filled the membership form in my presence, and became the life member of Minhaj-ul-Quran International.

Answering a question, Dr Qadri said it is premature to say who has murdered Benazir. The wave of terrorism has hit the country in the recent years so strongly that it is unprecedented in our history. I have not seen this extreme of terrorism in my life. Pakistan is a victim of the worst terrorism of its history. Answering another question, Dr Qadri said: I have traveled two-thirds of the world; the name ‘Al-Qaida’ was never heard over the globe before 9/11. But now the situation is so worsened that whether it is Pakistan or some other location on the earth, wherever an act of terrorism is committed it is attributed to Al-Qaida. How far it is true is a question to ponder over. Replying a question he said: There are many Mulla and Amir-ul-Mominin in Pakistan nowadays. Nobody’s life, property and prestige is safe and secure. The government’s strategy to eliminate terrorism has badly failed. The culture and values of Northern and tribal Areas have not been understood with the result that their reaction has reached an intolerable extreme. Talking about elections he said: Democracy does not exist in the country. So I tabled my 80-page resignation from National Assembly 3 years before which is a history. About federation he said: Allah bless and protect our country and federation. Our enemies want to weaken us while although small we are a country with great potential and we are in a position to make progress. Our enemies are concentrating on Sindh, Frontier and Baluchistan. They are creating hatred against Punjab to undo our solidarity.

Later Nazim-e-Aala MQI Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi said while talking to the newsmen that PAT flag will fly at half mast; PAT has already announced to mourn the assassination of Benazir Bhutto for seven days and has given her the title of Martyr of Democracy. All our centres round the world have suspended their activities; they will stage a peaceful protest on Sunday in-country and abroad. The contradictory statements being given by the government agencies are creating doubts about the murder. It is therefore inevitable that impartial inquiry be held of the tragic incident. He said that PPP was a patriotic party and was a symbol of federation. He said: We pay tribute to PPP leadership and workers that they have not gone impatient in this moment of extreme hardship. The world-wide mourning on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a manifest proof of her popularity. No leader has been paid such a homage at global level in the recent past. The PAT leaders held that the government has badly failed in maintaining law and order and eliminating terrorism from the country. Benazir’s assassination is the failure of the present regime. The security measures must have been stringent and foolproof. They urged the people that they should keep a watch over the miscreants and mischief-mongers to avert losses of life and property of the people. They appealed to the workers of the PPP and other political parties to remain peaceful. At this juncture the miscreants will attempt to damage the solidarity of the country. The nation therefore must remain united to face this great tragedy with patience, perseverance and firm resolve.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Murder of Democracy ...

Minhaj-ul-Quran International is in a seven-day mourning after the heinous assassination of Benazir Bhutto. All activities and programs will remain shut down for seven days.

I remember the time when Sheikh-ul-Islam, Professor Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, was active in field politics. He had joined hands with Benazir Bhutto against the horrendous exploitation by the regime of that time. He would refer to her as "my sister". Now that she has been assassinated, he has dubbed her murder as "the murder of democracy".

This is a terrible tragedy at all levels. Let us pray to Almighty Allah to grant her a place in Heaven and to give her orphaned children the patience to bear the loss of their mother.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Second Largest Collective It'kaaf in the World ...

For several years now, Minhaj-ul-Quran's It'kaaf has been the second largest collective It'kaaf in the World, second only to the It'kaaf held at Haram Sharif in Saudi Arabia. We were expecting about fifteen to twenty thousand participants this year, but all were pleasantly surprised by the actual turnover: thirty-seven thousand men and women, about one-third women (12,000) and two-thirds men (25,000), all gathered for the remembrance of Almighty God. Participants came from every corner of Pakistan. We also had several hundred participants from all over the world - from Europe, America, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and India.

I could not sit in the It'kaaf due to an evil combination of professional and family issues, but I did sit as a volunteer doctor in one of the dispensaries for the Mu'takifeen from Asr to Isha. There is something special about serving the guests of God: one becomes a guest himself. For me, the most memorable time of the It'kaaf came when Qibla Shaikh-ul-Islam said that he was pleased with the performance of the Medical Committee and announced a special gift for the doctors who gave voluntary services at the dispensaries. Can you guess what that gift was? It was Irfan-ul-Quran, which is Qibla Shaikh-ul-Islam's translation of the Quran in Urdu along with the Arabic text. I have never received a more beautiful gift in my entire life.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Crisis of Faith …

I never liked Mother Teresa’s guts. To excel in positive deeds and be hailed as one of the foremost humanitarians of the age and yet not have even a mustard seed of imaan, that is the kind of person she was. She has given empirical evidence for what is already known in Islam, that a person could be saturated in the glamour of good works and yet be among those who have lost favor with God. I will not claim to know the ultimate fate of Mother Teresa but the darkness she describes is certainly the darkness of disbelief:

As for those who disbelieve, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing, but he finds God with him, Who will pay him his due [Hell]. And God is swift in taking account. Or [the state of a disbeliever] is like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed with a great wave topped by a great wave, topped by dark clouds, darkness, one above another, if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! And he for whom God has not appointed light, for him there is no light. (Qur'an: The Light, verses 39-40)

When one turns away from the darkness of disbelief towards the brightness of Islamic Enlightenment, one comes across three layers of enlightenment, as described in the Hadith of Jibreel, namely Imaan (Faith), Islaam (Practice), and Ihsaan (Islamic Renaissance).

Many people falter at the step of Imaan. Some move on to Islaam. And a lucky few achieve the stage of Ihsaan. But why would a person who was practicing Islaam bang his head against the wall?:

The tergiversations of her faith reminded me of my own, I guess. Although I’m outwardly religious, I’ve never had the intimate relationship with Allah that I see others possess- I envy those brothers. So many times I’ve wished I was more like them, and so many times I’ve wished for death. Sometimes I hope that my execution might redeem me- maybe Allah would forgive me if I suffered a painful and ignominious death. I remember praying fajr many, many times and hitting my head against the wall, and praying to Allah desperately for faith. I’ve never prayed more sincerely in my life.

So I understand where she’s coming from. A mind wracked by doubt- to the point that it’s painful. I’m pleased with Allah as my Lord, Islam as my religion etc- but I’m weak.

(An anonymous comment at this page.)

Apparently this person had Imaan and was practicing Islaam, but he (or she) consistently failed to achieve that spiritual state called Ihsaan, so he banged his head against the wall.

Question: Why could he not achieve Ihsaan?
Answer: Because he was suffering from a Crisis of Faith.

We live in an age where Islam is under vicious attack from all sides and angles. We live in an age where Wahhabism and Qadyanism are making inroads. We live in an age where the Muslim community is thoroughly fragmented. We live in an age where we are surrounded by enemies from all sides, enemies who have incredible economic, military, and media power at their disposal. We live in an age where extremes of poverty and prosperity are making people lose their Imaan. We live in an age where women are being encouraged to lose their veils and the billboards are displaying pornography instead of displaying advertisements. We live in an age of excellence in science, technology, and secular knowledge, yet the Muslim countries are those who are most lagging behind in these fields. We live in an age where the mullah has done everything possible to destroy the image of Islam.

Faith enters a stage of crisis when one is living in such an Islamophobic milieu. For someone aspiring to achieve Ihsaan, it is extremely important that he should know what Faith is. Faith (Imaan) begins with the statement:

There is no deity but God
Muhammad is the Messenger of God

In fact, Faith (Imaan) is more than just a statement - it is a belief. It entails belief in not one but two personalities:

1. God (glorified He is)
2. Muhammad (peace be upon him)

In the age in which we live, people have concentrated on the first part of the Statement of Faith, but have forgotten the significance of the second part of the statement. In other words, people do realize that God is the only deity, but they have underestimated the supreme and beloved status of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). That this happened is not surprising when one observes the fall of scholarship in the Muslim lands coupled with the rise of orientalism in the non-Muslim lands.

Talking about the Prophet, saying nasheeds in his remembrance, remembering his voice, his manner of speaking, his way of walking, his way of talking, his way of smiling, his exalted character, his intelligence, his intellect, his beauty, his hair, his eyes, his fingernails - this is Islam. I remember during my college days, no one talked about Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. All they talked about was girls, girls, and girls. They had their excuses candy-coated by the enemies of God - that sexual attraction was normal, that it was okay to talk about girls (and not okay to not talk about girls), that it was also okay to have sex with them (as long as you used a condom) and blah blah blah. I yearned for someone who would talk freely and enthusiastically about Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him.

Islam is not only about the Worship of God, it is also about the Love of Muhammad. In fact, the Islamic creed does not differentiate between the Worship of God and the Love of Muhammad. That is indeed what the Statement of Faith is: the belief that the Worship of God and the Love of Muhammad are one and the same thing.

For those wanting to know more about the Beloved, here is an interesting article about him.

I will end this rant with one of the most beautiful verses of nasheed in the whole of Urdu poetry:

شوق ترا اگر نہ ہو میری نماز کا امام
میرا قیام بھی حجاب میرا سجود بھی حجاب


If your Love is not the Imam of my Prayer
Then my standing is a veil, my prostration is a veil
(Allama Iqbal)

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Lal Masjid Tragedy …

Minhaj-ul-Quran's press release on the Lal Masjid tragedy is in Urdu, so here is my English translation of the press release for my English-speaking readers:

Shaikh-ul-Islam, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, has said that the Lal Masjid tragedy has caused severe damage to the image of Islam and Pakistan on an international level. Those who work to clarify the real concept of Islam will have to move forward with wisdom and foresight, and in this connection, the scholars especially will have to recognize their responsibilities. He said that the damage incurred to the international image of Islam due to the Lal Masjid issue should be a cause of concern to every Muslim. There is no place in Islam for extremist and terrorist methodologies or myopic viewpoints. He was delivering a telephonic address to the monthly congregation of the Majlis Khatam Salat-un-Nabi (peace be upon him) at the ground opposite the Central Secretariat of Minhaj-ul-Quran yesterday, which was attended by thousands of men and women. Shaikh-ul-Islam, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the difficulties of expatriate Pakistanis and the Ummah would increase due to the Lal Masjid tragedy. The baseless conception of Muslims as extremists and terrorists will get stronger. In these conditions, the responsibility falls on the Ummah and the scholars to play their role in spreading the true teachings of Islam based on peace, forbearance, love, and religious tolerance. To meet the challenges faced by Islam on an international level, it is imperative that an organized effort be made on a collective level against the evil conspiracies bent upon associating negative extremist methodologies with Islam so that the negative propaganda against Islam is countered. He said that the picture of Islam the world saw with respect to the Lal Masjid issue has no link whatsoever with the real teachings of Islam. Minhaj-ul-Quran Movement is playing an important role in spreading the real teachings of Islam in the whole world, and in five continents of the world, people are playing their peaceful and constructive roles in their respective societies after coming into contact with the Islamic message of love and peace. Shaikh-ul-Islam said that struggle should be done on individual and collective levels against the false anti-Islamic propaganda so that the real peace-loving face of Islam is shown to humanity. In this connection, the scholars of Minhaj-ul-Quran are playing their roles effectively as ambassadors of peace and harmony. He said that Pakistan is an extremely important country of the Muslim world that has the full potential to provide leadership to the Muslim world. That is why anti-Islamic forces are bent upon weakening it in every respect. Events like the Lal Masjid have severely damaged its image as potential leader of the Muslim world. In the future, the public will also have to play their role in preventing such irresponsible, negative events. Shaikh-ul-Islam, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, said that Minhaj-ul-Quran is a worldwide movement for the Renaissance of Islam. The rejuvenation of the culture of Knowledge is a responsibility that falls on Minhaj-ul-Quran. Knowledge does not bring positive results without Practice. Prostration changes Knowledge into Light. So it is important that apart from the Practice of always sending blessings to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the seeking of Knowledge and the Practicing of that Knowledge should be kept uppermost in one’s priorities. He said that the Muslim Ummah should put its efforts in the quest of Knowledge. Minhaj-ul-Quran Movement is working in the whole world on raising awareness about the acquisition of Knowledge. Knowledge becomes Gainful Knowledge after Practice and the Practice of getting up in the night to prostrate before God changes Knowledge into Light and confers an inner light to a person that gives him or her success in this Life and the Hereafter.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Do You Recognize This Man? ...

Do you really know who Muhammad is? (Alayhes salat o wassalam.) Muhammad is the man whose sweat was used as the best perfume you would come across. Muhammad is the man whose stool was more fragrant than the food he ingested - such was the effect of contact with his heavenly body. Muhammad is the man whose face radiated beauty like the full moon so that Mother Ayesha could locate her lost needle in the night. Subhanallah!

Oftentimes I hear people - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - speaking of the Holy Prophet, sallallah-o-alaihe-wassallam, never really knowing who they are talking about. But anywayz, who can dare know who Muhammad is? "The reality of your Prophet is known by God alone", so said the Prophet, upon whom be infinite blessings and peace. The glorious Qur'an reciprocated: "Wa Ma Muhammad Illa Rasool" ("And what is Muhammad but the Messenger?" - Qur'an, 3:144). I have always been struck by the fact that the Qur'an used the word Ma ("What") and not Man ("Who"). Subhanallah!

As we celebrate God's Gift to Mankind, let us take all the time to know more about who the Prophet is - sallallah-o-alaihe-wassallam. Death is just round the corner, and I can't wait for the time when they will ask me, "Do you recognize this man?", and - hopefully, hopefully, hopefully - I'll respond with the words, "Wa Ma Muhammad Illa Rasool".

Peace and blessings be upon you, O icon of beauty and wonder, and upon your family, your companions, and all those who love you.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise …

The Day of Ashura is drawing near. Some people will come decked out in black clothes and hurt themselves in an act of sadomasochism that has no link whatsoever with the patience and sacrifice of Hussain (alaihes salam) at the Battle of Karbala. Empty vessels, it is said, make the most noise. If we want to love Hussain, let us do what he did and stand up against the Yazids of our times. Let us be those who fought under Hussain and not those who betrayed him at the last moment. For a change, how about starting off with fighting the rebellious nafs that we have developed within our own selves?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Tragedy of the Human Condition …

Surah Fatiha (“The Opening”), the first surah of the Holy Qur’an, can be thought of as an introduction or preface to the Qur’an. It is also the best summary of the Holy Qur’an. Because of its ubiquitous use in various prayers, a practicing Muslim will typically recite this surah about one million times in his or her lifetime. It is a must-read for all people, regardless of their faith:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds

الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
The Beneficent, the Merciful

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
Master of the Day of Judgment

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You [alone] we worship; and You [alone] we ask for help

اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ
Show us the straight path

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
The path of those whom You have favored; not the [path] of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray

Surah Fatiha contains a vast store of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. But my thoughts get concentrated on its most poignant verse, the last one:

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ
The path of those whom You have favored; not the [path] of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray

It means that there are three categories of people:

1. Those who have earned God’s favor
2. Those who have earned God’s disfavor
3. The lost souls

I look around myself in this world of six billion souls and I see people belonging to the latter two categories. Then I take a telescope and manage to see a few men and women - just a few - who belong to the first category. Then I take a mirror and I see myself. I stand rooted to the spot, thunderstruck by the reflection that stares back at me. I am horrified. Stupefied. And finally disgusted. I turn away from the mirror. The world inside me is a reflection of the world outside me.

Man has lived in vain.