Pakistan: Islamic Social State

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi (Abdul.Kundi@GMail.Com)

In the West and most of the Muslim world there is a wrong perception that the struggle to establish Caliphate is mandated by the Quran. The reality is far from that. There are many verses in Quran which points to formation of local governments while there are none that mandate a Caliphate. Ummah itself is not a political concept but rather a social one where people from diverse cultures share a set of common spiritual and social values. That is the reason we find common cultural traits in food, clothing, family rituals and celebrations of Muslim countries around the world. Many of Pakistan’s political party’s manifesto include establishment of an Islamic social state. If this is the objective then it is very important to understand what it entails and what the society will look like if we achieved it. We have already covered the Islamic economic model in last article (published on November 2, 2011), this article will focus more on the social aspect of it.

The first order of business to establish an Islamic Social state will be to change the current Westminster form of parliamentary system to an American style Presidential system which is quite close to an Islamic concept. Islam emphasizes election of individuals who then have executive authority to run the state in consultation with a shura comprising of professionals with knowledge of government, administration and law. In Pakistan, we don’t have to write a new constitution rather amendments to existing one will achieve the objective. In Turkey the ruling AKP party in the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it part of their election manifesto that a presidential form of government will be introduced through constitutional amendment. In Pakistan many leading politicians have already expressed their preference for a Presidential system.

Majority of Muslims go to great lengths to tell the world that Islam is the religion of peace. But in reality the essence of Islam is justice. Peace and harmony are the outcome of a just society. Promotion of justice is an active persuasion while peace is more passive approach to society. In an Islamic state introduction of an affordable and efficient system of justice is one of the top priorities of the state. The procedures for the discharge of cases should be such that decisions does not cost so much that people can’t afford it or take so long that it is a hindrance for people to seek justice. Independence of the judiciary is important. State has to ensure that life and property of judges are protected as well as their verdicts are executed without delay.

In an Islamic state the security policy will be oriented towards defensive rather than aggressive posture. This should become corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy position to initiate negotiation to sign non-aggression and non-interference bilateral agreements with its neighbors and focus more inward than outward.

Prophet Muhammad (s) in his last hajj sermon to Ummah clearly stated that in an Islamic state there will be no preference given to anyone based on their ethnic identity. Quran makes it clear that God, the ultimate sovereign, does not differentiate based on ethnicity among its creation to bestow its blessings on them. Quran does not mention that punishment of Shirk or Kufar is awarded in this world rather that it is a sin judged on the Day of Judgment which in a way is an opportunity for an individual to find the truth. Quran mentions that people were divided in tribes and nations to be identified rather than discriminated or preferred. In an Islamic social state everyone will be allowed to practice their cultural heritage without any discrimination or hindrance from the state. At the federal level decisions will be taken only considering the well being of the people. In this scenario provinces will be created not on ethnic lines but administrative basis as Islam gives preference to the well being of individual citizens. In the same vane the quota system has to be abolished and only merit should be the basis of all appointments in state and private enterprises. Similarly, Islam recognizes that non-Muslims are full citizens of the state and have the right to practice their faith without recrimination from the State which has to ensure safety of their prayer places.

The very first verse of Quran Iqra was to encourage acquisition of knowledge of life, universe and the spirituality. Islam looks down upon ignorance and mandates that everyone should seek knowledge which means that the state should ensure that adequate educational institutions are available throughout the country. In an Islamic state the religious seminaries will be required to provide education in science and technology. As centers of learning and prayers mosques will be required to hire religious scholars that can provide spiritual enlightenment to the people. These religious scholars should be educated not only in science, social sciences and anthropology but also aware of the spiritual difference between Islam and other religions.

Quran does not differentiate between men and women in terms of their participation in the society. Islam encourages that all members of the society regardless of their gender should participate to establish a just and equitable society. Islam acknowledges that women have much higher responsibility than men because of their critical role in development of a nation as mothers. But this domestic role does not preclude them from pursuing a career to express their talent and exercise their capabilities. In an Islamic state the role of women has to be recognized as full participant. This was evidenced from the lives of Khadija (RA) and Aisha (RA) who took active roles in business and politics respectively.

Many Muslim countries are now realizing the true meaning of a social state and embarking on reformation. Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia are good examples from which other countries can learn. Pakistan seems to be waking up to its true potential as freedom of speech is encouraging debates to create greater understanding of our religion, history and social values at the same time destroying dogmas.

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Dealing with Hypocrites

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

In this world, there are many people who do not speak the truth. Even more alarming, there are people who speak in half-truths, using linguistic details to mislead, while not technically lying. Just as the Disbelievers read the Quran looking for corruption within it, certain people make agreements in bad faith, seeking loopholes. Like the Quranic description of Satan, this person makes a promise, but then when you ask him about it, he claims he never promised that thing! Such people can make us want to beat our heads against the wall.

The Prophet (s) said: “Most of man’s mistakes and sins are committed by his tongue, and the worst sin is to lie!”

How can we navigate ourselves safely in a world where things are often not as they are explained? One thing we must do is give less space in our minds to the hypocrites. “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head,” as the saying goes. It is important to let go of the fantasy that we can control others. All we can do is control how we react to them, and make sure we don’t fall into their trap.

“Because hypocrisy stinks in the nostrils one is likely to rate it as a more powerful agent for destruction than it is.” wrote Rebecca West in 1928.

Promise-breakers generally have a pattern of behavior. At a certain point, nobody believes what they say. The Quran states in Surat al-Nur:

And of mankind, there are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day’’ while in fact they do not believe. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!

There are some people who are outwardly religious, but you still cannot trust them because they have developed an internal dialogue that justifies their transgressions against other people. A terrible example I can give is an outwardly devout Muslim man who married three wives without clearly explaining his marital status to his brides. When I asked him why he did not inform his third wife of his other two wives, his reply was, “She did not ask!”

In light of this admission I feel obliged to advise those seeking to enter into a marriage with anyone to do three things:

1.    Ask questions! Never trust someone blindly or withhold questions in fear of offending.

2.    Talk to people who know this person and ask very specific questions about their past.

3.    Ask for the person’s credit report

In this day and age where we arrange marriages with near strangers from other parts of the world, it important to check out anyone we plan to marry. A credit report will tell you a lot about a person, in particular: does this person honor his or her agreements? If a bank would not loan money to this person, it would be wise for you not to invest too much trust in this person.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, the Prophet (s) said: “There are four traits which, whoever possesses them is a hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.”

Nobody is perfect. Some innocent people break promises just because they have personal weaknesses, not because they were intending to deceive. A friend of mine who was going to Germany asked me what I wanted as a gift so I asked her to bring me some marzipan. She faithfully bought the marzipan, but during the journey could not control her sweet tooth and ate it all! I was disappointed of course but I did not hate her for this because she did the honorable thing: She admitted she had made the promise, admitted she broke the promise, and felt genuinely sorry.

There is a huge difference between this and those who purposely trick people, who backbite, cheat, or bluff their way through life, and when you confront them they become hostile to avoid further discussion. One woman found out shortly after marriage that her fiance had lied about his ethnic background, his financial status, and even his source of livelihood! When she asked him why, he said, “If I had told you the truth, you would not have married me.”

A true liar lies in order to seek personal gain. It is not just a reflexive action like that of a teenager whose father asked her, “Have you been smoking?” Real hypocrites actually enjoy torturing truthful people with confusion, considering themselves above others.

Imam Ali stated about the hypocrites: “They are jealous of other people’s prosperity, interested in other people’s misery and are a source of hopelessness and stress.”

I have learned as I have grown older to trust others less and myself more. I have learned that my body never lies. If a certain person causes me to have headaches and stomachaches, or causes my heart rate to increase, that person is probably unhealthy for me as company. I should even refrain from arguing with such a person because they only respond with lies to my attempts to appeal to their higher self.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer. karinfriedemann.blogspot.com

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Phoenicians Partner for Peace

September 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nidah Chatriwala

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8426551As the nation united to peacefully acknowledge the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Arizona State University (ASU), held an interfaith service, inviting Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Partnering For Peace was a program encouraged by President Obama for schools to participate in an interfaith worship in remembrance of 9/11 and ASU was one of them to accept.

The service was held at Tempe campus of ASU, attracting a large diverse crowd, which sung along the chorus or stood silently in respect to religious recitations performed.

The event began with Sue Ringler introducing TEAM-Tempe Interfaith, who organized the service, saying their mission used to be limited to collecting and donating canned foods but 9/11 changed everything, and they began giving hope through service of love in the community.

Partnering for Peace was also represented by a group of young adults called iMagine, who shared their goal of breaking down interfaith barriers to help teach each other the richness of diversity.

Soon the chorus sang “Where Can I Turn for Peace” on a candlelit stage with an enlarged photograph of a glittering white dove, represented peace in the background. 

The audience was encouraged to stand in silence as the three Holy Scriptures: Bible, Torah and the Holy Quran’s title covers were displayed on the screen, followed by each person reciting excerpts from them.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro read Isaiah from the Torah, then Pastor Chris Gonzales read Luke from the New Testament and Ayman Alhadheri recited verses from the Quran, which were translated by Elena Coassolo.

To help the interfaith audience understand the meanings of the holy recitations, three speakers shared stories of peace from their Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions.

Susan Schanerman performed her Jewish tradition story called “A Talmudic Tale of Peace” as she created pictures with her hands and directed audience’s mood to various tones of her voice.

Following Schanerman’s performance, Doug Bland connected his Christian tradition story of “The Saint and the Sultan” to the Muslim influence of building Christianity and extracting the greeting “peace be upon you” from Muslims to saying it among Christian followers as well. He credited Islam’s teachings, especially to be more merciful to each other, to improving Christianity’s message among its followers.

To build on Bland’s story, Saiaf Abdallah told the “Musa and the Good Things to Come” Islamic story about Moses and Khidr’s journey of seeking knowledge through patience. At the end of the story he added that we must learn to see wisdom in atrocities such as 9/11 that united us all.

As the event came to a close, iMagine group members painted a rainbow representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim unity, as the audience stood up arm-in-arm chanting freedom and peace.

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If Islam is Foreign, so is Christianity and Judaism

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

Dr.Aslam AbdullahA Jewish attorney supported by a few pro-Republican Christian religious fanatics and fueled mainly by some top notch neo-con hawks are behind the movement to stop the so called Islamic Sharia being applied in the United States. In several states the anti-Sharia bill has been introduced as anti-foreign law. In other words, when someone talks of foreign law, he or she is referring to Islam.

There is so much venom against anything that is related with Islam, specially after our withdrawal from Iraq, that not many have bothered to explain or understand the Sharia as defined in Islam’s main source of guidance, the Quran as Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet (s)), which is often described as the second source of the Islamic guidance is based on and controlled by the Quran.  Many Muslims are defensive, often apologetic on this issue and the opponent of Islamic Sharia are deceptive and provocative. Politicians find in it a vote-grabbing opportunity without any relevance or sense to what they are saying and talking about.

Often labelled anti-foreign law, the so called anti-sharia bill, inadvertently claims that Islam is foreign to the US, hence, laws rooted in Islam are also foreign. However, they do not realize that ant-foreign law bills (anti-Sharia bill) goes against Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and almost every religion with the exception of the religion followed by the native Indians before Christianity imposed itself on America and Mormonism. Christianity or Judaism were not born in Washington or Kansas, not even in Europe. They have their origins in what we now call the Arab lands such as Iraq, Egypt and Hijaz (known as Saudi Arabia).

Thus, under what is defined anti-foreign law, family laws having their roots in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism or any other religion may fall under its preview. The oath of allegiance to the Pope that Catholic nuns and priests take can be considered its part. The allegiance to the state of Israel expressed strongly by over 6 million Jewish American population can be described a practice based on foreign laws. Not only Eid ul Fitr or Eid ul Adha, but Christmas, Hanuka, Diwali or Buddha Jayanti can be termed as foreign. Circumcision based on Semitic religious laws can also be a foreign law as well as the practice of non-circumcision. There is no limitation in describing what is foreign.

A Hindu wearing a sacred thread around his waist can be described a foreign practice. A Jew wearing a cap can be considered a foreign tradition. A Christian baptizing a child can also be described as foreign. A husband having legitimate physical intimacy after the wedding in a Hindu or Buddhist temple can be considered violating the anti-foreign law. Perhaps, the Mormons may qualify to be one of the few indigenous religions as Joseph Smith seems to have initiated this tradition in America. Perhaps, the practice of polygamy by a few of them can be considered real patriotic as it is based on ideas that were evolved endogenously. But the irony is that Mormonism is not even considered a religion by many mainstream Christian churches.

To save the nation from such crazy people specially insane politicians and Christian and Jewish fanatics, the founding fathers specially had the first amendment saying, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Fearing that states governed by fanatics who through political manipulation may capture the power, the founding fathers also passed the 10th amendment saying that, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Matters pertaining to freedom of religion, definition of religion and foreign and native religions do not fall under the jurisdiction of states. Hence any state law related to religions that overrides the constitutional guarantees can and must be thrown out.

What is happening in Michigan as well as other states is anti-constitution and anti-people. It is happening because a few religious wolves wearing the garb of patriotism are inciting people who do not share their religion. The struggle against such people is no different than the struggle for freedom and civil rights.

These legislation must be challenged by those who take their pledge of allegiance seriously. Besides political action, one must be prepared to challenge these legislative initiatives legally. A movement against anti-Sharia bill is not Muslim, it is American and national.

For Muslims the debate about Sharia is yet another opportunity to explain to the country what the Sharia is about. However, this is an alley, which is not very illuminated. Most Muslims naively feel that the answers to all the issues that Muslims and non-Muslims have been facing in modern world, have already been answered by scholars born in 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries. They do not find any room for any new ideas or arguments in understanding the divine guidance.

Seemingly, those Muslims who have spoken on the media on behalf of Islam have often come up with half cooked explanations based on their understanding of the stagnant jurisprudence of medieval Muslim states and outdated historical anecdotes promoted by a sectarian understanding of Islam.

Even though most Muslim leaders and groups continuously speak about Sharia, few attempts have been made in our modern times to develop an understanding that can be understood not only Muslims but by non-Muslims too. As usual, the Sharia issue has become a fund collecting means on behalf of those who want to present the Sharia opponents as yet another danger to Islam and Muslims.

The opportunity presented by hate mongers should be used by thinking Muslims to develop a better understanding of Sharia through discourses among all sections of educated Muslim American community. Since the Sharia is mainly be defined by the Quran and since this last and lasting divine book of guidance is meant to give guidance to all Muslims, everyone who can contribute to this debate should be involved to ensure that no viewpoint is missed. If the divine message is dynamic in its essence so is be the definition of sharia. If the divine guidance is applicable in all times, so is its sharia.

(A separate article as to how the Quran defines the sharia will follow)

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Encouraging Program For Young Ones By Masjid At-Taqwa

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (3) Unique Youth Quran Recitation Night At ISGH Synott Road Masjid (4)
   

It all started with the volunteers like Mahmood Marfani, Irfan Ibrahim, & Hanif Samana; and tireless efforts of Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Abdur Rahman Siddiqui, that the first Quran Qirat Competition for young boys and girls, could become a reality By the Grace of Allah SWT. First time in the history of MasjidAttaqwa at Synott Road, in Sugar Land near Houston, on the 21st Night of Qadar, more than seventy talented and amazing young boy’s and girl’s participated in this Quran Qirat Competition and recited one after another in a beautiful voices – the verses of the Holy Quran which they have memorized by heart.

Masjid was filled up with parents and others, who love Quran and want to encourage the young stars, who were shinning until 3:30am. The Judges, Hafiz Tauqer Shah and Hafiz Arsalan Majid, were following the criteria of memorization, pronunciation, and tajweed to choose the winners of the competition.

Parents and children were excited and anxiously waiting as Abdur Rahman Siddiqui pronounced the results of the competition. The Qirat Competition came to an end with twelve winners, who were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes in four groups.

First place was awarded with a cash price of $100, second place was $50, third was $25, and every participant was awarded with a cash price of $10 each. The program ended with Tahjjud Prayer and Suhoor.

Administration of Synott Masjid want to thank Allah SWT and the generosity of the Brothers who supported this event financially and morally. InshaAllah, They will have more Quran Qirat  Competition in the near future. For comments/suggestions, please visit www.masjidattaqwa.com

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Hunger and Starvation in Somalia?

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Are We doing Enough?

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

In this month of Ramadan, those who listen to the huffaz reciting the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and those who read the Quran on their own will come across some of the verses that perhaps might be the most relevant ones for us in the times we are living.

We would read the verse four of Sura 106 that describes Allah as the one “who has given them food against hunger, and made them safe from danger.” We will also read the verse eight of sura 76, “And they fee, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captives. And in sura 90 verse fourteen describing the most challenging task for human beings and believers specifically, we are reminded of a group of peole who feed people on a day of hunger.

Doubtless Allah has given abundant food against hunger. Yet millions are suffering from hunger all over the world. In Somalia alone, hundreds are dying each day of starvation. So where is the food that Allah has provided the people with?  In Italy alone, 1.5 million ton of food is wasted every year because farmers do not want to sell their crops at a cheaper price. Estimates of how much food we toss in the US vary, but according to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), we’re wasting around 40 percent of the total. The leading English magazine the Economist recently wrote the following:

[T]he average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. That amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the country as a whole—about 40 percent of its food supply, up from 28 percent in 1974. Producing these wasted calories accounts for more than one-quarter of America’s consumption of freshwater, and also uses about 300 million barrels of oil a year. On top of that, a lot of methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) emerges when all this food rots.

These figures are about just countries out of 200 plus countries in the world. Obviously, when the food is not brought in the market due to cheap prices and some 40 per cent of what is cooked is wasted, one cannot blame God for failing in his promise.

The blame can certainly be placed on those who speak in the name of God. Why are they not raising the awareness about hunger and disproportionate distribution and known wastage of resources. More specifically the Muslim religious leadership can be questioned for failing to transmit the divine message to its followers and others. There is hardly anyone talking about the unjust distribution system that exists in our world. No one ever brings up the issue of wastage of food in our homes and religious institutions. How much food the Muslim community is wasting? All you need to do is look at the dumpster at a mosque that is serving iftar and dinner to the community. You will not be surprised to find the similarity between the national and Muslim pattern of wastage.

Hardly anyone is talking about sacrifice for the betterment of the world.

Economists describes the situation in terms of world food prices and its impact on future economy. Politicians, depending on whose money they are using to get re elected, would talk about the poverty without ever doing anything to change the situation and the religious leadership is talking about issues that are totally irrelevant to the life of people. They are still talking about the differences in fajr and isha times whether the time of fajr arrives when the sun is at a 15 degree angle or 18 degree angle.

Hardly anyone is acting on the Divine message that those who prefer the needs of others over their own comfort are indeed the one successful in the life and the life hereafter. It is the quality of sacrificing for others that is the foundation for a better world and better commitment to Allah.

For a rich man who does not know the limit of his wealth, spending a few hundred thousands is nothing. For the filthy rich Muslim leaders, feeding the poor and needy from Somalia and other starving country for an entire month is almost nothing. However, when the responsibilities are limited to only two and a half percent of one’s savings regardless of the savings and regardless of the means of earning, the results would not different. How come we rarely question those dictators who have usurped the national wealth of people about their fiscal policies. How come we do not talk in our masajid about those issues?

The crisis in Somalia can be resolved in a month if even a quarter of all the money that has been looted by leaders in the Muslim world is spent on developing projects to eliminate hunger.

But that is not going to happen. Within the religious framework even the biggest cheat would offer two and a half percent of his savings to qualify for Divine blessings.

It is now left to us, the people to do sacrifice even more for the sake of humanity. We are capable of doing that. But we need to get organized which often we are not.

We need to do the following to help improve the situation in Somalia and other places.

1. On an emergency basis our relief organizations survey the availability of food at a low prices in a world market.

2. On a longer term basis, a proper survey of putting an irrigation system with the possibility of growing new high yielding crops can be made to plan for the future.

3. Our entrepreneurs work in coordination with these agencies to produce and prepare cooked nutritious food to serve those who are in need.

4. Our masses demonstrate the quality of sacrifice in their life style. Every time we eat a meal, we make it a habit of donating amount at least half or one quarter of the amount of the meal we eat and give it to an organization that knows how to do the job right.

If the 4 plus million US Muslim community saves a quarter each meal, it alone can generate resources to do everything that is mentioned above. But this would happen only when we are willing to sacrifice and willing to heed to the divine call beyond the call of our duty.

One of the steps that American Muslim relief organizations should have taken is to organize a summit to discuss this humanitarian crisis so that all could coordinate their resources and direct them to appropriate actions. But then that would require sacrifice on the part of the leadership. If they want people to sacrifice their monetary , they have to show they are willing to tame their egos and willing to sacrifice their organizational popularity for a goal much bigger than that: serving the creation of God on a day when some of it may be hungry. (90:13)

A worrying alarm arrives now from the Italian Farmers Association (CIA): mass amounts of food is sitting and rotting in their fields because sale prices don’t cover all of the costs of production. The result is a 1.5 million of tons wasted every year and 4 billion of Euro frittered away. All this with rising costs for Italian consumers and farmers. (Source: EcoLocalizer (http://s.tt/12uez))

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Ramadan: the Month of the Quran, the Last and the Lasting Divine Guidance

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah

Before it came to be known as the month of Fasting, the companions of the Prophet (s) knew Ramadan as a month of the Quran, the last and lasting Divine guidance to humanity.

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong) So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and he does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. (2:184).

The revelation began in the month of Ramadan. The night in which the Quran began to be revealed is referred to in the Quran the blessed night: We sent it (the Quran) down on a blessed night, (44:2) or the night of Decree, Verily, we have sent it (this Quran) down in the Night of Al-Qadr. (97:1). It was the strength, clarity, simplicity and universality of the message that the night was described an extraordinary night.

With its 6332 ayas (verses) spread in 114 suras (chapters) divided in seven stages and 30 parts, the Quran was finalized and compiled in the life time of the Prophet (s) who alone among human beings knew what it was. Only the Prophet (s) could testify, verify and approve what the Quran consisted of as no other human being in his time shared that experience. He put his seal of approval on the finality of the divine message and gave his instructions on its arrangement.  The Prophet (s) ensured that every verse revealed to him was recorded and written at the time of its revelation.

In one of the several ahadith mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, one of the companions, Bara’a narrates that “when the verse “not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame),  and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives, Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with  their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home0 to each Allah has promised good, but has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home by a huge reward.” (4:95) was revealed, the Prophet (s) immediately called one of the scribes of the Quran to bring in the ink, pen and the tablet so that it could be written down. 

It is also mentioned in Masnad Ahmed, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Nasai, Jami Tirmdhi, Ibn Habban, and Musdark Hakim that Usman bin Affan, the third Caliph, narrated that whenever a verse was revealed, the Prophet (s) used to call scribes immediately and instruct them to write it in the sura whose part is was meant to be.

Zaid bin Thabit is reported as mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, that in the life time of the Prophet (s) there were at least four from Ansar of Medina, Abi binKaab, Maadh ibn Jabal, Zaid, and Abu Zaid who had the entire Quran written with them.

It is also reported that in Medina Abdullah bin Saeed bin al-As, who was a calligrapher was specially instructed to teach the art of writing the Quran to the citizens of Medina.

Besides other material, paper was also used to write the Quran. The scriptures refers to the word paper twice:  But even if we had sent down unto thee [O Prophet] a writing on paper, and they had touched it with their own hands – those who are bent on denying the truth would indeed have said, “This is clearly nothing but a deception!” (6:7), “For, no true understanding of God have they when they say, “Never has God revealed anything unto man.” Say: “Who has bestowed from on high the divine writ which Moses brought unto men as a light and a guidance, [and] which you treat as [mere] leaves of paper, making a show of them the while you conceal [so] much – although you have been taught [by it] what neither you nor your forefathers had ever known?” Say: “God [has revealed that divine writ]!” – and then leave them to play at their vain talk. (6:92) The Quran also uses the word Riq, “In a Scroll unfolded; (52:3), a kind of paper made from the skins of animals.

In the books of ahadith, we come across the names of at least 45 more companions who knew how to read and write the Quran. They are (in alphabetical order):

Aban,
Abdur Rehman,
Abdu Rehman bin Hur bin Umr bin Zaid,
Abdulla Saeed bin al As,
Abdullah bin Arqam Zahri,
Abdullah bin Rawah,
Abdullah bin Saad bin Ab Sarh
Abdullah bin Zaid
Abdullah in Abdullah bin Abi Salool,
Abu Abas,
Abu Bakr,
Abu Yunis Maula Ayesha,
Ala bin Hadhrami,
Ali ibn Talib,
Aseed bin hadheer
Aus bin Khauli
Ayesha bint Abi bakr,
Fatima bin Muhammad,
Hafsa bint Umar
Handhala bin Rabi
Hundhala al-Asadi,
Jaheem binal Salt,
Khalid bin Saeed bin al-As,
Khalid bin Walid,
Muaqaib bin Fatima,
Muawiya bin Abi Safiyan,
Mughaira bin Shaaba,
Muhammad bin Salma,
Munzr bin Umr
Nafe bin Tareeb bin Umr bin Naufal,
Najiatu Tafawi,
Rafe binMalik
Sad bin al Rabee,
Sad bin al-As,
Sad bin Ibadah
Shahar bin Saad
Sharjeel bin Hasna,
Ubi ibn Kaab,
Umar bin al-Khattab,
Umme Habiba bint Abi Safiyan
Umr bin Al-As,
Umr bin Rafe
Usman bin Affan,
Zaid bin Thabit,
Zubair bin Awwam,

He was so particular about preserving the Quran in writing that even at the time of his migration from Makkah to Median, he had a scribe with him with ink and pen.

The Quran described itself as a book, a word that appears in 230 times in various contexts.

Even though there are narrations in many books that suggest that the Quran in the form that we have it today was compiled during  the Caliphate of Abu Bakr at the insistence of Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab and later finalized at the time of third Caliph, Usman bin Affan, the verdict of the Quran about its finalization, preservation, authenticity and compilation is overriding. “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (15:17) “And (moreover) We have guarded them from every evil spirit accursed.” (15:17). Or “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (5:3).

It is obvious that the efforts of the Caliphs were to make copies of the Quran from the original for wider distribution in the Muslim world. It is evident from the writings of Ibn Hazm in his book Kitab ul Fisl that over 100,000 copies of the Quran were present in the entire world at the time of Umar bin Al-Khattab

The Quran describes itself as a book that proves the commonality of the Divine messages previously revealed to earlier prophets that were not preserved in the original form by their followers. It also asserts that the Divine message has essentially been the same revolving around three main principles;

a); monotheism in the sense that the source of all divine messages is Allah, the initiator and the creator of the universe,

b); the guidance from a higher and neutral source is needed by human beings to lead a simple and disciplined life. It is only through following the divine guidance human beings can discipline their lives the same way as every thing else in the universe runs in a perfect order.

c); the life is in constant evolution and the death would not end the life but move in a difference stage of existence where individuals and groups would be held accountable for every thing that they do and say in their limited life in this world.

The greatest miracle of the Quran is the consistency of this message throughout evident in all its suras and ayas.

The linguistic beauty and style are evident to only those who understand the language but the clarity and consistency of the message is for everyone regardless of their linguistic skills and they relevant for all times.

In other words every sura of the Quran is connected with its overall message with variations in emphasis and every aya is related with a particular aspect of the message within the context of the total guidance.

Thus the month of Ramadan offers the believers a unique opportunity to refresh their understanding of the guidance and live it for an entire month so that the life in coming months could be disciplined around that. Thus, the first task for every believer is to get connected with the divine guidance in a disciplined, consistent and regular basis.

The fasting enables a person to live the principle of self control and self discipline, which is essential to realize the strength and relevance of the Divine message.

Seemingly, a large number of Muslims do not know the Arabic language and hence find it hard to understand when the Quran is recited to them. Moreover, we also have the traditions informing us that the reading of the Quran gives us the reward of reading one letter to the equivalent to the 30 letter reward. The mercy and the divine measurement for good deeds are limitless and this narration should be read in that context.

Besides earning reward for reading the Quran without understanding, we can also make efforts in the month of Ramadan to read it with understanding. This may even double or triple the reward. It is no harm to read the Quran with translation. Non-Arabic speaking believers can recite the Quran in Arabic and listen to its pronunciation during the taraweeh prayers besides, reading the translation in their own languages to understand the essence of the divine message. This understanding will enable us to get closer to the guidance of Allah.

Often it is argued that it is difficult to understand the Quran in any other language. The Quran, on the other hand repeats the following verse four times: “And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (54:17) Besides, the Quran also says: “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (30:22)

The reading of the Quran with meaning would give us an opportunity to understand the Divine message as is and inspire us to appreciate its relevance for us in our times. Thus in addition to reading the Quran, we can also make efforts to live it.

We spend much of our efforts in correcting our pronunciation of the Quran. This is good and the proper sound of every letter and word must be perfected authentically. However, the main purpose of perfecting the pronunciation must never be ignored: I, e, to understand so that we could live the Quran, the way our Prophet (s) lived it.

During the month of Ramadan we arrange lavish functions for the breaking of fast, a good practice to bring people together. However, if in these functions, we make it a habit to focus on understanding one of the passages of the Quran, probably we can make better use of these gatherings. It would not take us more than 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on the message of the Quran in these functions, but it would help us understand the divine guidance, the main reason for decreeing fasting in this month.

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong) So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and he does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having to guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. (2:184)

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Fulfilling Our Destiny is Like Surfing the Waves

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Every living thing has an ideal destiny, because God created us to grow, learn, enjoy life, and improve our intellect, so that we may understand Reality, just like He wants the flowers to bloom. God made every living being with a blueprint of its true nature within its DNA. Sometimes flowers wilt, sometimes people become depressed, but that is not their true nature. Some kind of deficit has occurred, like lack of rain prevents the flower from living up to its natural potential. Unlike flowers we have choices, and the moral responsibility for those choices. We also have human rights.

In Islam, a woman has the moral responsibility for the spiritual status of herself, and her children. On the Day of Judgment a man will however be asked about the level of his wife’s faith. A woman will not be held morally responsible to the same degree if her husband went astray. That is because man has a degree of power over his wife that she doesn’t have over him, by nature. A parent only has moral responsibility up to a point. When the child becomes of age, he is responsible for his own choices. Prophet Noah (as) had to go through the heartbreak of enduring a disobedient son and then, he had to live with the knowledge his son had drowned in the Flood. What a terrible burden! But Allah relieved him of that burden. 

He (God) said, “O Noah, in fact, he (your son) is not a part of your family. Indeed, he is (a man of) bad deeds. So do not ask Me something of which you have no knowledge. I exhort you not to be among the ignorant.” (Quran 11:46)

Allah said it is ignorance to love and consider as family a man of bad deeds. The most sacred bonds such as between a parent and a child can be destroyed by bad deeds. When we continue to pray for something in a relationship that is not possible, we are living in ignorance. Yet, at other times, when we should be doing something quite possible, but we did not make the effort, we are also living in ignorance. How do we know if a situation is salvageable? How do we know when to give up on a person or whether to try harder to reach them? As long as we are acting from ego, we will never know.

Even our Prophet (s), as an example for us, asked for protection against his own ego, even for the blink of an eye; although he is perfect and preserved from sin by God, he taught us to be careful of our own egos. Prophet David (as) used to follow his prayers with supplications begging forgiveness for the inadequacy of his previous prayers, in case there was any pride mixed in for having performed them.

Every struggle, whether a relationship problem, cancer, or a war, presents us with opportunities to learn and grow, and to purify our souls. There is a special dwelling place in Paradise for those who are able to praise God in every circumstance no matter what. We will always experience hardship and loss and fear. Our ego can get in the way and make us afraid to take risks or conversely, make us react emotionally and destructively. Real devils will interfere in our lives and zap our ability to understand what’s going on.

Everyone has something that they are destined to fulfill in this life. Sometimes we stop the process of our own growth and degrade ourselves; sometimes we allow someone else to degrade us – because we have been allowing our ego to cover up the Truth deep inside that God wants us to be happy and healthy. It’s a delicate balance we must maintain, and it has to move with every wave, like a surfer. But if we can maintain that balance within, we can then with a clear head make the best decision for what will help us blossom in our true lives.

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said the struggle will go on until the Day of Judgment, like the ocean waves. There will never be a time when we don’t have to face trouble and make decisions about how to deal with these challenges. Until we get our own egos under control, we will face the same trouble over and over and over, regardless of how many times we run away from our problems.

All human beings are in a state of total confusion until we accept Grace. Verily all men are in a state of loss! Except those who accept that sunshine and rain from the sky, and share this Truth with others. They are the ones who can bloom. They are the ones who have learned to collect Power from the universe, circulate it within, and emit Light. They are the glowing ones.

When you see someone who is glowing, you know they are not wasting their day nursing resentments, you know they are keeping their minds clear and clean. They probably have a regular spiritual practice, because glowing takes regular practice. It doesn’t just “happen” just like music doesn’t just “happen.” Unless a musician regularly exercises the tiny muscles in his fingers, he will not be able to play you a song, let alone put feeling into that song. We must constantly work on perfecting ourselves, but we will never be perfect. We can never give up trying to be the best we can be, because that is the whole point of our life’s journey.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

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Examining the Evil Eye

April 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan MMNS Middle East Correspondent

hamsa_pattern002
The hamsa (also called a hamesh, Hand of Fatima, Hand of Miriam, or Hand of God) is an ancient Middle Eastern symbol for protection from the evil eye.

You woke up to a flat tire in the morning. You spilled a steaming hot coffee on your leg on your morning drive to work. A large tree branch fell on you as you took a stroll on a sidewalk. Most people would chalk these events up to mere coincidence or simply a bout of bad luck. But a trip across the ocean to the Middle East reveals that it is a whole other ball game.

Often labeled ‘fatalists’ by the heavily biased western media it’s true that most Muslims in the Middle East,as well as the rest of the world, put their lives wholeheartedly in the hands of God. However, for Arab Muslims there is an equally intense belief in the ‘evil eye’ and a plethora of preventative measures to ward it off, depending on the culture. In a nutshell, the evil eye basically means that someone covets something that you have and thus taints it. Soon after you, or the aforementioned item, typically faces some sort of calamity. It’s not uncommon for every ill to befall someone to be intensely scrutinized to find the exact moment that the evil eye contaminated it.

For this reason, amulets of various sorts adorn objects that would otherwise be left ‘unprotected’. It’s not uncommon to see brand new, or even passably nice, sports cars with decals in Arabic that read, “In the name of God” or “Praise God”. Other places for the amulets to reside include the front doors of apartments and mansions, sometimes in every room of the house. Even newborn babies often are adorned with a small gold brooch on their night suits with the words “In the Name of God” before they are brought out to visitors. The concept is to basically ensure that someone recognizes the gift the person possesses as coming from God before they can desire it.

To the person unfamiliar with Islam, it might seem like a whole lot of hocus-pocus. But the evil eye is a reality that is mentioned in the Holy Quran and something that the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself was very well acquainted with. The recommendation from the Sunnah of Muhammad (s) is to recite certain verses from the Holy Quran and to pray for sincere protection from God Almighty. For many Muslims, just the thought of the evil eye is enough to send a cold shudder right down the spine.

As a result, some clever opportunists have seized the opportunity to make a profit off the fear and suffering of others. In most of the Gulf countries there exists some people, who by all appearances are extremely religious, who claim to be specialists in treating the effects of the evil eye. Many offer their services albeit for a price. Most charge cash money for reciting verses of the Holy Quran over the afflicted person while others will recite the Quran for free so long as the person purchases one of their homemade homeopathic remedies. Since the belief in the evil eye is so widespread, and the people seeking to profit from it even wider, authorities can not do much to eradicate the supposed remedy which is often much more evil than the cause.

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Ladies’ Qur`an Class By Fatimah Murad

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

P1040696 A delighted chatter permeates the room, occasionally an effusive call of “Assalamu-alaikum,” or “Alhamdulillah,” rises above the general murmur as two sisters greet each other for the first time. The setting is the Qiyam-ul-Layl program, organized by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) sisters-wing’s Chicago-land unit.

The majority of the participants are the regular attendees of a Quran Tafseer Class, also organized by the ICNA sisters. The class takes place in the morning after fajr prayer in a conference call room, throughout the year it takes place every Saturday and focuses on select Surahs but during Ramadan it becomes a daily occurrence so as to complete the reading of the entire Quran, in English translation, within the blessed month. This is the third year that it is taking place and, where it started as a local meeting involving sisters from the Chicago metropolitan area, it has now grown to include sisters from various states including Michigan, Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina and even from as far as Bahrain. There is diversity not only of location but also of background, there are revert Muslimahs and born Muslimahs who hail from various different nations. Many are of African American or South Asian background but there are also sisters from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and the Philippines.  

Every morning, the sisters take turns reading a few of the ayahs punctuated by brief explanations and insights into the Surahs by Huma Murad and Amina Jaffer-Mohsin, the two moderators. Roll is called every class by the ever reliable Amidah Burton, to acknowledge the nearly forty participants. Through sharing their love for the Quran and Allah, the attendees have come to know and love each other as well. One sister, Afsheen Khan summed up the shared sentiments of many participant in commenting that though she had physically attended similar classes before “…this was special because of meeting so many sisters and [feeling such] spirituality.” Sister Shahina Begg who has been a regular attendee for all three years continued in a similar vein when she commented that she felt blessed in being introduced to the class because it “brought me closer to Islam and my sisters,” she added that though she initially only met her fellow participant on phone she felt compelled to “keep in touch throughout my life and inshallah stay spiritually connected.”

It was in hopes of fostering this bond, and to reap the most benefits from the blessed odd nights of the last third of Ramadan, that the Qiyam-ul-Layl event was organized. The class participants are given a chance to meet face to face, some sisters travelling from out-of-town to take advantage of the opportunity, and share a night of spirituality and sisterhood. As sister Jameela Karim explained, “The Qiyam-ul-Layl is the glue of the class, and having the program helps us put it all together. Seeing the people you hear every morning, you are fully connected.” Many sisters said they felt it created something akin to family ties.

The program allowed the sisters to share food and each other’s company, but also to join together for congregational prayers of Taraweeh and Tahajjud, and group discussions on spirituality and remembrance of God. Revert sisters, who constituted a majority among the nearly fifty attendees, shared stories of their early struggles with their families in the way of Islam, while their companions reminded the group that the greatest struggle took place within and that we all had our own hurdles to overcome. One of the greatest examples of triumph that the sisters witnessed at the Qiyam-ul-Layl was in meeting sisters Habiba Castulo and Hina Altaf, both legally blind from birth, who regularly attend the class and diligently read the Qur’an in Braille.

Jamila Yusuf commented to great agreement how she was “inspired by Habiba and Hina’s dedication to the Quran.” It was one of many instances where the sisters felt their faith had been strengthened by their fellow Muslimahs.

Though initiated as a rather humble project in hopes of sharing the knowledge of God’s word, the Quran Tafseer Class has grown into something unique and transcendent. It is difficult for any of the participants to explain exactly why this class, among so many similar ones, feels special. Moderator Huma Murad has a theory that it is due to its timing, the Prophet (s) spoke many times on the blessings of reading Quran after fajr. The greatest factor in its success, however, is the dedication and enthusiasm of its members. Newcomer Vonzella Matin called being introduced to it the “best gift I could have been given,” by sister Amidah, but she and her fellow participants have, with the help of Allah, given this gift to each other many times over.

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