Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Only Allah knows how much we like sport; nay, we love it. It has to take something pretty special to get us to miss the big games and the like.

Alhamdulillah, this Deen is very much one of those special things.

Going off track for a minute, we were discussing in our Wednesday Fiqh class the other day that we’ve never seen a proper Champions League Final – like ever. Can you believe that? Maybe you can, but for football fanatics to miss United’s famous victory, Liverpool’s jammy fluke last year, and Arsenal’s great effort this year, needs serious commitment – I guess that Fiqh has achieved a greater closeness to the hearts in the last decade than we could have ever dreamt of!

But back to tonight – it was particularly poignant for me to meet the blessed Shaykh again after so many years. Many moons ago, one dreary night in London, I received a message that a great scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan “al-Dadu” al-Shanqīti, was giving a halaqah for that evening only. Even back then in the 90’s, he was well known to be one of the up-and-coming Fuqaha’, with wide experience in Fiqh and Usul at an international secular level as well, alongside of course the Mauritanian ‘Midas’ touch which means that anything read or heard, from either Qur’an, Sunnah, Poetry or whatever, is all completely memorised and stored ready for access at the blink of an eye.

To say I was excited would be a slight understatement.




Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Dadu


Anyway to cut a long story short, I was totally amazed with his lesson, asked him his advice on what to do next in my search for knowledge, to which he advised me to go and spend some time with his illustrious uncle, the world’s leading Nahwi (grammarian) and one of the Kibār ‘Ulema, Shaykh al-Allamah Muhammad Sālim wald-‘Udūd al-Shanqīti. I remember that “Dadu” (as Shaykh Muhammad Hasan is known) asked me for a pen and paper and then using my back (in one of those magical moments), the Shaykh wrote me a quick referral letter alongside permission for me to use his house to stay in en-route to the Mahdhara of his uncle.

And then he was gone.

And I’ve not met him again since all that time until tonight.

Much has happened in that time. I followed his advice, spent a few blessed days with Shaykh Muhammad Sālim, the greatest scholar I’ve ever had the privilege to meet, learning about the principles of Arabic, Usūl and most important: how to understand the relationship between the Creator, His Creation and between the Creation themselves. Despite my little time there, it was this opportunity that has most shaped and benefited me to this day in my religion.

Other than that, life has been very easy and enjoyable for me by the immense blessings of Allah.
As for Shaykh Muhammad Hasan in this time? Subhanallah, it’s so true that the most beloved to Allah are severely tried and tested – the Shaykh went through much difficulty, jailed by the Mauritanian oppressors in power on trumped up charges, trying to break his honourable name and family. But Alhamdulillah, Allah ‘azza wa jall always supports his Awliyāh’ and his release not long ago was my highlight of last year.

It was simply wonderful to be meet the Shaykh again; his memory is phenomenal, his reminder simply stunning, the experience tonight overwhelming. I think that not only was the place Mubārak, but the Angels were enjoying themselves as well – the Malā’ikah love to be with the friends of Allah!

I hope to get a recorded copy from Shaykh Salim Sheikhi of the greatest moment of the evening – Shaykh Muhammad Hasan’s recital of hadith with his own sanad back to the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) followed by a beautiful Du‘a to finish off the evening…





I hope to post a few points of benefit that the Shaykh made during his reminder in the next few days if Allah gives us tawfeeq. Oh, the other highlight was Idris’s heroics on the camera, catching a classic picture of “the other” – the greatest teacher, friend and man I have ever known and still have the privilege to know, masha’Allah tabārakallah, may Allah preserve all the scholars, Ameen!




The Two Shaykhs


So all in all, “Dadu” 5

… England, Football, Sport, Entertainment, wal-Dunyatu wa mā FīhāNil.

:-)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unsubstantiated rumours of the day have Shaykh Muhammad Hasan al-Dadu al-Shanqiti in town tonight. Apparently, he is to give a lecture at 8pm in Didsbury Masjid, Manchester.

If true, and this will be confirmed later today insha'Allah by the admin brothers or myself from sunny Llangefni, then do not miss out on a rare opportunity to meet one of the present day Awliya' of Allah and a real source of hope for the future, may Allah preserve him.

Monday, May 29, 2006



Be there, or be an aloo paratha...

(and do remember the golden Avari rule, don't make your life like an aloo paratha, where sometimes all you actually get ... is aatha)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The cricket this week has been nothing short of fascinating in all if its aspects - batting, bowling, fielding and very importantly, the umpiring.

Sport produces certain nuances that really bring fans like us the utmost of escapism and enjoyment, yet will leave others totally bewildered at what all the fuss is about. I'd love to have that bemused feeling of indifference at someone else's appreciation of something amazing, but the sad truth is that I seem to find everyone's happiness exciting!

In view of batting, Pietersen's now famous reverse sweep for six was something simply unbelievable. Not simply just that, it required immense skill which is one thing, and it required immense physical strength which is wholly a different thing. Also, it was taken off the world's greatest off-spinner and not some Sunday league has-been. Finally, it was unbelievably cheeky as well - the closest common example I can think of that non-Cricket fans could relate to was that Thierry Henry penalty chip of the goalkeeper. That chip was amazing wasn't it? Well, this Pietersen shot was the cheekiness of the chip, the strength of Roberto Carlos's World-Cup free-kick goal of eight years ago, the skill of Ronaldinho's foot-over, against the best opposition player on the other side, all rolled into one totally mental moment of sporting history.

So there.

As for Murali's bowling then my goodness, the skill and pressure he applied was astonishing - I cannot believe this guy has more ten-wicket hauls that Warne in far fewer matches, and he will almost undoubtedly overtake him one day to the greatest number of test wickets haul. I nearly laughed my head off when the pundits thought that 150-200 was a minimum needed to worry England. Try a hundred runs instead and half a bowler on the other end of the track with Murali, and Sri Lanka would have swept home with their pressure and star bowler.

Collingwood's fielding also deserves a mention - the world's greatest fielder at the moment? I think so.

Finally, I want to bring attention to Umpiring. In current times, with hundreds of cameras, amazing slow high-definition that shows the most incredible details, and then all this 'hawk-eye' technology that tells us exactly where the ball would hit the stumps in LBW decisions, the pressure on the Umpires to continually get it right is incredible.

Step up Super Pak.

Aleem Dar has taken the Umpiring world by storm - it's almost as if he has cameras showing him replays in his eyes! The amount of decisions that he has got right has been phenomenal, not to say that the other umpires are not being equally proficient, but it's great to know that Dar Saab is now the greatest Umpire in the game, and for a country that doesn't have a clue about justice, impartiality, equality and respect for the law, the world's greatest judge in cricket is our very own Aleem Dar.

What a sport...

:-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A final reminder for all students:

* al-Adab al-Mufrad is now at 8pm again from Friday 26th May 2006.

* Shaykh Kehlan's Tafsir lesson is at 8pm from Saturday 27th May 2006.

(practically speaking, it means everyone can go to Wilmslow Rd again for a scran after their lessons just like the good old days...)

:-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I sensed that a few people wanted to hear more about Abu Bakrah and the status of Mughīrah b. Shu'bah (may Allah be pleased with them all) after last week's Adab class. As always, no need to worry; here is one of my favourite incidents involving Mughīrah and is a snippet from next week's Adab class - they didn't refer to him as from the Duhat'l-'Arab for nothing...

His [Mughīrah's (r)] skill and especially his political acumen lead him to be chosen as governor of a number of cities. ‘Umar appointed him the governor of Basrah until the incident with Abu Bakrah (r) and then he left, to become governor of Kūfah, which he remained during ‘Uthmān’s time until he left it during the fitnah only to be re-instated there by Mu‘āwiyah (r).

On his being a leader, one famous incident occurred when ‘Umar (r) appointed Mughīrah governor of Bahrain, but the people there didn’t warm to him and complained against him, trying to remove him.

They hatched a plan where their tribal leader gathered together 100,000 dinars from the rest of the tribes and then went to ‘Umar and said, “Mughīrah has betrayed you; he took 100,000 dinars (from office) and left it with me!”

Mughīrah said, “You’ve lied! In fact, it was 200,000.”

‘Umar was astounded and said, “What on Earth made you do that?!”

Mughīrah replied, “My family is getting too big.”

This shocked the criminal so much with everything now turned against him that he immediately owned up and swore by Allah that he made it all up, and that Mughīrah had never even taken a single dirham.

‘Umar was still shocked. “What made you do that?”

“He lied against me, so I wanted to get him back!” replied Mughīrah.

:-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You will have no doubt heard about this shocking Christian exorcism story developing over the last few months, here in the UK.

The whole problem that various Christian Churches are going through with all these 'exorcism' scandals is not just a disgrace and an outrage, but also something that Muslims need to be wary about; all religions have received bad press in dealing with their respective exorcism cases, especially when the exorcist gets it wrong.

Who remembers that shocker expose (wasn't it Panorama?) about that Maulvi from Barking, London, who was nothing but a pervert trying it on with girls that he told were possessed?

Anyway, there are only two people that I personally trust (and know) who can truly deal with exorcism cases in the right way: Shaykh Abu Abdullah Talib from Leeds and Shaykh Abu Haneefah from London. It's nice to see that the latter will be passing on some of his expertise in London soon.

One wonders though, if you were to look like this...



...how on Earth was it that you weren't the first to be exorcised...

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm the world's biggest opposer of conspiracy theories - they drive me mental, especially when you have us Muslims blaming everything and anything on anyone else but ourselves. This is probably because we see this so clearly from our day-to-day lives and our refusal to control this despised aspect of human nature which Allah 'azza wa jall constantly reminds us about.

But I have a problem. And I reckon some of you might have the same after you've watched this new video:

Loose Change 2nd Edition

We've all been here before I think, you know, all the 9-11 rubbish and whatnot but I never really took much notice of the theories flying around. Why? Because I know for 100% sure that there are Muslims out there, who we've all seen and heard, who actually believe in the permissibility of killing innocent civilians in the West as such. Not just that, but even if they didn't actually carry out something like 9-11, they would have loved to have done it given the opportunity.

We know that for a fact.

So why is it then that this video (it's an hour and 20 minutes, but probably worth it) has got me thinking so much? Sure, I have no doubt that the USA suffers the moral and ethical bankrupty to, "kill a few thousand of their own, to lead to the killing of a few hundred thousand more outside, to ensure the flow of billions of dollars remains constant...", but am I getting more naive in my old age or is there something actually not right here and I've just refused to open my eyes to it all?

Someone either refute this or tell me I'm not going crazy!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Alhamdulillah, and then again alhamdulillah - although my backside and legs are hurting more than I could have thought possible, I actually completed the run, in a time of 56 minutes and 16 seconds.

:-)

The story?

Well, when I got up this morning (still aching from last Monday's practice run!), the last thing I felt like doing was legging 10km around the city of Manchester in the pouring rain, but the threats of all the boys as well as a promised spread by Q if I finished before lunchtime egged me on to the start line where big Freddie and Fergie did the honours and we were off.

Now let me just make this clear: this is the first time I have run in a race, the second time I have ever run on the road, and the third time I've attempted 10km. I found the start really difficult due to the massive throngs of people (25000 odd!) and it was only after a couple of kilometres when the road opened up a bit, once we got on to the old Chester Rd. By the time I reached the East Stand of the Theatre of Dreams, things were looking comfortable, and by the time we reached Salford Quays, it started to pour down even further and I started to move out of my comfort zone of 5km. Now, things started to become seriously difficult for an old fat lad like me!

Anyway, I pulled through somehow, ones fellow runners keeping you motivated, especially when you see those older and fatter than you burning right past! I think the main problems of back and shoulder pain are the real threats to the run (any massage experts out there?) but the runners and especially the amazing crowd are the big pluses and will get you across the finishing line.

I want to echo the words of Bill Turnbull the Newsreader, running just in front of me: "The real stars were the crowd today. For us runners it was perfect running weather but it takes a great deal to stand out there and cheer for hours upon end. What amazing people."

Honestly, I couldn't put it better myself if I tried.

In conclusion, it was a win-win situation for all right? St Ann's will get a bit of paisa, I can't believe that I'm a 10km medal holder, the Manchester lot enjoyed my baistee with my cheesy grin in last week's ME News (and no, I have no idea where they got half those details from!) and everyone else enjoyed my even bigger baistee on BBC TV today as I huffed and puffed over the finish line right into that dratted camera - and I didn't even blow the house down.

:-)

Finally, my thanks to all those who supported this crazy idea which has helped raised your sadaqah for a great cause and the money is still trickling in so keep it going and may Allah reward you all with good!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Please note that from next week, all evening lessons will be at 8pm instead of Maghrib (except the Wednesday Fiqh class which remains at Maghrib).

This means Shaykh Kehlan's Tafsir will be at 8pm from the 28th of May, and likewise the Adab class will start at 8pm from the 27th of May insha'Allah.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Keeping in mind that sport is our small bit of dunya which we enjoy and lose ourselves in, there can be no better news than the conclusion to the biggest debate in world football this year:

Henry to stay a Gunner until 2010

Honestly, this guy is the best thing football has at the moment. He plays with honour, respect and quality - everything that the Premiership needs to maintain it's position as the best league in the world, something which has been severely threatened with the deluge of foreign footballers collapsing and diving all over the place.

Viva Henry!
Read this article carefully and reflect upon it. Most of it seems very obvious to 'practising' Muslim parents with their children but I just wonder sometimes whether it really is so obvious...

What We Should Be Teaching Our Children
By Imam Zaid Shakir

When we talk about Islamic education and our children, the discussion usually revolves around strictly academic issues related to technical aspects of curriculum development, testing standards and methodologies, balancing between secular and religious education, and similar concerns. Sometimes we miss the greater objective of an Islamic education. That objective, in terms of what is necessary for the immediate success of our children in this world, and their ultimate success in the next, is nurturing balanced, wholesome, honest human beings who live lives based on principle and who exemplify good character in their dealings with other people.

The basis for the obtainment of this objective is captured in the following prophetic tradition, “Be mindful of God wherever you are, and follow up any misdeed you might do with a good deed that will wipe it out (being weightier in the scale). And deal with people on the basis of good character.”[1] I will endeavor to expound on some of the relevant lessons from this tradition in the balance of this article.

This tradition mentions three very important things that should be fundamental to our educational endeavor. The first is endeavoring to instill a healthy fear of God in the child. Part of that endeavor lies in imparting to our children some of the aspects of what Americans refer to as “that old-time religion.” Many aspects of what actually constitutes that old-time religion are sometimes viewed as prudish or unfashionable in today’s society. However, they involve religious themes that have been instrumental in guiding people for millennia.

One of the bases of “that old-time religion” is a healthy fear of God. That fear, which has to be balanced by hope for God’s mercy, revolves around the awareness that God’s punishment is real. Hell and its torments are real. The retribution of those who have behaved wrongfully in the world is real. Sometimes we can become so engrossed with intellectualized discussions of our religion, so steeped in philosophical discourse, that we forget, at the end of the day, the hard realities mentioned above. If as adults we are heedless concerning these things, it is difficult for us to realize their importance for our children, especially during their formative years.

Cultivating a healthy fear of God is rooted in mindfulness of Him. Mindfulness is a prerequisite for fear. For this reason, one of the initial goals of the spiritual path is cultivating fear of God. This is the initial thrust that propels the aspirant through subsequent stages of true human development. As one wise man once mentioned, “The fountainhead of all wisdom is the fear of God.” It is mentioned in the Qur’an, Rather it is His righteous servants who fear God. {Al-Qur’an 35:28] This fear is one of the keys to Paradise. God says, As for one who fears the station of his Lord, and guards his soul against the things it inclines towards, Paradise will be his refuge. [Al-Qur’an 79:40-41]

Hence, the fear of God is something we should endeavor to instill in our children. One way to do that is to remind them that transgression incurs punishment. That punishment can occur in ways great and small. For example, we might tell our children “Don't touch that stove! You're going to burn your hand.” Despite this warning they touch it. We follow up, "See? You disobeyed me, and you burned your hand." We can then suggest, “One day, if we disobey God in this world, we're going to burn our entire body.” They might not understand this latter warning, but as they grow, the message will increasingly resonate.

Someone might consider such a warning harsh or inappropriate. However, this is one of the essential messages of the Qur’an. Namely, disobedience can have painful consequences. If we do not try to instill that message into our children at a young age, we may inadvertently be depriving them of the conceptual basis to subsequently understand one of the most critical messages of the Qur’an.

Of course such messages have to be presented with gentleness and wisdom. Our intention should never be to overwhelm our children. However, we should take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves in everyday life.

While every responsible parent endeavors to keep their children’s hopes and dreams alive, we have to also let them know that there is something to aspire towards beyond this world. Just as our life in a real sense, did not begin with our physical emergence from our mother’s womb, it does not stop with our entrance into the grave. When we journey to the next life, we will suffer or enjoy the negative or positive consequences of the actions we did in this world. By using situations we find everyday, we can emphasize, according to our experience and our children's cognitive abilities, this message.

The second point emphasized by the tradition we are discussing is encouraging a spirit of repentance in our children. As we mentioned, sins and transgression involve consequences. With sincere repentance those consequences can be eradicated. Emphasizing this point and further emphasizing other manifestations of God’s mercy provide a balance that mitigates the harshness that might accrue by focusing on the reality of divine retribution and punishment. God is most willing to accept repentance. He is most merciful.

Again, we can take advantage of situations occurring in our everyday lives to cultivate a repentant spirit in our children. If they tell a lie, we can mention how inappropriate and harmful lies are. We can then add, “You are going to have to ask God to forgive you.” Not only do situations such as this introduce the child to the idea of repentance, they also encourage them to get in the habit of communicating with God. One of the things missing from many of our Muslim homes is active communion with God.

Many of us who have converted to Islam from Christianity remember how we were in the habit of saying our nightly prayers. Such devotional acts provided sweetness to our faith. Although we may have found a superior creed when we adopted Islam, in some cases we find that the sweetness to be found in intimate discourses with God gradually leaves our lives. Prayerful repentance is one way we can begin to recapture that sweetness, and to encourage it in our children’s lives.

Another advantage to be found in using everyday situations to convey meaningful lessons to our children is that they allow us opportunities for informal lessons. We can teach without stopping everything to sit down for a formal “lesson.” If we tell our children when they tell a lie, for example, “We are going to sit down and have a little lesson on repentance. First of all, you have to immediately stop your sins. Secondly, you have to vow to never repeat the sinful act. Thirdly, you have to express remorse for having committed the sin. And fourthly, if the sin is associated with the right of another human being, you have to restore that right.” Children generally dislike being lectured to, and the lesson probably will not be too effective.

It would probably be more effective to emphasize, informally, how bad lying is, the need to ask God’s forgiveness, and conveying a firm threat to wash out the child’s mouth with soap if they tell another lie. Of course, such threats have to be credible. They might not involve soap, but they should involve something that will be remembered by the child, without being harmful. What is important is conveying the gravity and seriousness of lying or other negative speech or behavior. Repentance is a desirable at both the individual and at the communal level. God says in the Qur’an, So turn in repentance altogether, you believers, in order that you be successful.
[Al-Qur’an 24:31]

Hence, this particular point is relevant for all of us, not just the children. Repentance is very important and has to be constantly encouraged in order to become a natural action for a developing child. In addition to reminding our children to repent and asking God’s forgiveness when they slip, we should also encourage them to ask His forgiveness when they say their nightly prayers.

This brings up another very important point. We should try to get our children in the habit of saying nightly prayers. As they become older, they can be taught the prophetic supplications and invocations to be said at night and before retiring. However, at younger ages cultivating a free and open communion with God is a very powerful practice. Sleep itself is our lesser death. Our children reminding themselves that God alone can bring them safely through the night; that He alone restores their consciousness after sleep; that He alone has the power to take our soul whenever He chooses, are all messages that cultivate a healthy god-consciousness.

Another very important part of our children’s Islamic upbringing, something we generally neglect as a community, involves their participation in “fun” activities that involve a cross section of the community. One such activity is hiking. Hikes are accommodating to the young and old. Hence, children and adults can get involved together. Furthermore, while outdoor activities such as hiking are not religious activities per say, something appreciated by the older children who may be struggling with their Islamic identity, they provide great settings to involve the children in group devotional activities such prayer, Qur’an reading, Dhikr, or testimonials.[2]

Such activities also provide a setting where children can interact with community elders in an informal, nonreligious setting. Many children may not appreciate the fact that the local Imam has studied Islam for twenty years and is a master of Arabic rhetoric. However, when they see that the elderly gentleman can climb a hill much faster than they can, or jump over a stream unscathed while their boots are filled with water, they have an accessible basis for respecting the Imam. This opens up doors for a deeper personal relationship that will facilitate their subsequent willingness to benefit from his religious knowledge and experience.

Such activities are very positive because they also allow children to see that they have an Islamic identity group that is larger than their individual and possibly isolated family. They are with fifty Muslims trekking through the woods, calling cadences, singing songs, telling stories, stopping in a meadow for a football or soccer game, and the food is pretty good also. Such activities can leave an indelible positive mark on a child’s life.

The third point raised by this prophetic tradition is to treat people with good character. We should constantly emphasize this. Our Prophet, peace upon him, has said, “I have only been sent to perfect good character.” Muslims have historically been people known for their upstanding character. One of the greatest threats to Islamic character and manners is our contemporary youth culture, and one of the most destructive means conveying that culture is television.

One of the greatest things we can do for our children in terms of trying to instill good character in them is to get them away from the television. To be effective, we have to also endeavor to keep them away from children who watch television. This may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, when they are younger and their universe is smaller and more controllable, this may not be as challenging as it appears. However, it is a communal task that requires a tremendous commitment on the part of many families.

Parents should encourage one another to form television-free communities. Islamic schools should consider an enrollment policy that requires homes to be television free for children to be admitted. This is very important, for if your child is going to an Islamic school and does not watch television, while his or her classmates are constantly reminding him or her what Brittney Spears is up to, or how great the Rolling Stones were during halftime at the Super Bowl, much of what you are trying to accomplish will be readily and easily undermined.

Saying this, I am not advocating an absolute ban on viewing motion pictures. Families can promise their children a weekly movie if they do well in school. They can gather their children to watch documentaries, nature shows, and other commercial-free fare that is controlled by the adults. Having some televised entertainment and education help to prevent the deep longing for the medium that can develop in children that are totally cut off from it.

The main thing to avoid is commercialized network television. The overt and subliminal messages involving everything from the glorification of criminality, to the belittling disrespect of elders, crass sexual exploitation, blatant inducements to become involved in a destructive consumer culture, and the irreverent denigration of religious themes, make viewing commercial television arguably questionable from a religious perspective. Many programs clearly have hidden agendas involving normalizing practices that Muslims hold forbidden, such as witchcraft or homosexuality. I would argue that any parent who allows their children to watch network television is derelict in their parental duties.

As we mention above, we can provide alternatives to network television. We can gather our children for a weekly movie with their friends, complete with the popcorn. We can select wholesome films whose content we have previewed. Hence, we are not talking about draconian measures that leave the concerned parent with no viable options for their children.

One of the most destructive effects of television is that it reinforces the false idea that between childhood and adulthood there is an increasingly longer adolescent phase, during which what are functionally adults are permitted to continue to act like children. When we travel to visit the Muslim world, we are amazed to see that in the villages and other areas not deeply affected by modernity, there is no adolescent phase. Older children are working the fields, selling in the marketplace, and taking care of younger siblings just like little adults. The silliness, giddiness, and irresponsibility we see even amongst many college students here in the West is totally absent.

That used to be the case here in America. Marriages between thirteen and fourteen year olds were once common. Thomas Edison was a self-made millionaire before he was fifteen years old. George Washington was an accomplished social and political thinker at the age of fifteen. Grammar schools equipped children with the tools to engage in the formation of mature thoughts before completing grade six. Now many university graduates have absolutely no exposure to logic, nor any of the other basics of a classical education.

We should also understand that America became great on the basis of significant and tangible characteristics and principles. If the generality of people in this country abandon those characteristics, as a community, we should try to retain them. These include a sound work ethic, willingness to sacrifice, hard work, thriftiness, respect for authority, courtesy, etiquettes, sound manners, empathy for the weak, and many other traits. Not only are these principles being undermined by many aspects of popular youth culture, in many instances the exact opposite values are being encouraged.

We have to constantly encourage good character and manners in our children. “Did you say please?” “You didn’t say thank you.” “You should have held the door for the lady coming into the store after you.” Such urgings have to be constantly repeated until the desired traits become ingrained in our children. Repetition in many situations is a great pedagogical tool. It goes without saying that constantly repeated instructions also have to be diligently reinforced by adult example.

Again, is important to emphasize that this type of training should be carried out in a pleasant manner. We should try to avoid raising our voices and nagging. We should convey messages such as those mentioned above in a subtle, gentle way that almost sneaks up on our children. However, we should not avoid being firm in situations that demand firmness. God-willing we will be able to raise a generation that acts on the basis of good character.

The three points emphasized by this prophetic tradition should clearly be goals in our child rearing and education programs. A fourth thing that is also extremely important is to teach our children the love of the Prophet, peace upon him. We should start by taking the time to remind them who the Prophet, peace upon him, was, and what he looked like. We should inform them what his height was, how he kept his hair, what color his hair was, what his build was, what color of his eyes was, how his complexion was, etc. By educating them about his physical characteristics, he becomes more than an abstraction. We must endeavor to make him real for them.

Many of our Muslim children can tell you how tall LeBron James is, how much he weighs, what color his eyes are, where he went to high school, and how much his sneakers contract is worth. But they cannot mention a single attribute of their Prophet, peace upon him. This is an unacceptable situation we should strive to remedy.

Perhaps we could develop cards about the Prophet and the companions, just as we have baseball, and basketball cards featuring sports figures. Valuable information about our important personages could be conveyed in this way. Who was the tallest companion? Who lived the longest among them? They could trade these cards among themselves. Again, this would be an informal way of conveying information that we usually limit to formal settings. Familiarization is a key ingredient in the cultivation of love. It is difficult to love someone you do not know.

We should also praise our children when they display prophetic character. That praise should be directly linked to the Prophet, peace upon him. For example, “The prophet will love what you did for that cat because he taught us to be kind and merciful to all creatures.” Perhaps your child will come one day and relate an incident like he following: “The kids found a bird at school today, it could not fly. Everyone was throwing rocks at it, but I didn’t throw any rocks. I tried to stop them.” We should enthusiastically respond, “That was so great! God and His Prophet, peace upon him, will really love you for that. God will show you mercy one day for your mercy to that bird.” Now they not only feel good because they did something pleasing to you, they feel good because they did something pleasing to God and His Prophet, peace upon him.

Once again, these are practical lessons that occur in the context of our everyday life, and not formal lessons, abstracted from any meaningful context. If we merely related to them in a classroom, the Prophet, peace upon him, did this, or said that, we deny them any agency in their education. The former, more informal approach emphasizing that they themselves did this or that in a manner consistent with prophetic teaching, allows them to take agency in their religious life. This is empowering for them and can go a long way towards fostering a healthy Islamic identity.

Another bit of beneficial advice, culled from the prophetic teachings, is avoiding feeding our children the very best of food all the time. This teaching is a reflection of the fact that the way of the Prophets, peace upon them, is moderation. For example, we should avoid constantly giving them ice cream, pizzas, and other types of food they find particularly enjoyable. We should try to give them ordinary food as much as possible. Then, when we do periodically give them something they really like, it is so much more enjoyable for them. This is one way to get them to appreciate the blessings of God. If we constantly give them the best of food and constantly give them the food they like, they’ll take the blessings of God for granted. That is something that can make their hearts become hard or cold.

Similarly, we should not give our kids the best of clothes even if we can afford to do so. Doing so could also lead to them taking the blessings of God for granted, and it might cause them to arrogate themselves over poorer children. Dressing them in the very best and finest of clothes might also make poorer children jealous of them and then make fun of them to attempt to belittle them because they see them as being better than themselves. On the other hand, one should try to avoid dressing them shabbily as that might lower their self-esteem. We should try to maintain the balance that is characteristic of our religion. This balance will help them avoid developing arrogant, condescending, or insecure personalities.

We should get them accustomed to manual work. I recently asked a group of Muslims if anyone of them had ever changed a flat tire. No one in the entire assembly answered affirmatively. These are the sort of things every child should learn how to do. At Islamic schools we can have local mechanics come in to give short courses on the basics of automobile maintenance. When our male children reach their teenage years we can arrange for apprenticeships for them at a local Muslim mechanics shop during summer vacations. We can make arrangements to pay for the child’s “salary” ourselves. Gardening is a great activity for both boys and the girls. Our children should learn to get their hands dirty.

We might also consider sending our high school and college age youth to work in Muslim refugee camps. This is a great way to help develop a healthy social consciousness in them. It also gets them close to the earth. Children who have visited such areas generally become a lot more appreciative of the blessings they enjoy here. Our Prophet, peace upon him, knew the value of work. He was a shepherd; and he guided caravans across the desert. These activities were integral in shaping his character.

We should start training our children in the martial arts at an early age. If they grow up practicing a particular art it will become easy and natural for them. If a child started a particular martial art at six or seven years old, when he or she is twenty-one, they would have studied that art for fifteen years and would be an absolute master. Studying the martial arts is not to enable them to bully other children. It is a means for them to have healthy self-esteem. That makes it easier for them to be Muslim in a sometimes hostile environment. If they know they can defend themselves, it makes it easier to deal with the pressure and potential intimidation that comes from being different.

That is something that is very important for our children. A person who is confident in himself would never start a fight. The best martial artist is the one you would never suspect, not the one beating on his chest, flexing his muscles and elbowing people. This is something that is very important in the healthy development of our boys and girls.

In conclusion, we should try to make the space for the children to be children, to enjoy their childhood years. However, we must let them know that these years are preparation for adult life, and that adulthood is very serious. That coming seriousness though should not be used as a justification to overwhelm them. Moderation provides a golden means. Respecting that means helps us to avoid the extreme of an overindulgent childhood followed by a period of perpetual adolescence, just as it helps us to avoid stultifying, rigid, overbearing child rearing practices that can effectively rob our children of a rich childhood . Hopefully we can remain balanced, giving our young generation the space to be children, but letting them know that they’re preparing for a serious life.




[1] Imam Abu ‘Isa Muhammad bin ‘Isa at-Tirmidhi, Jami’ at-Tirmidhi (Riyadh: Dar As-Salaam, 1999/1420), p. 460, no. 1987.


[2] Testifying is another activity the many converts from Christianity are familiar with. Believers, in a public setting, testify to the affect the Gospel has had on their lives. This is a great group activity that Muslims should encourage. Stories of how a person converted to Islam, why another began serious about the religion after a life of sin or other personal narratives can have a tremendous impact on Muslim children, especially those who may be struggling trying to live a righteous life.

> This article was originally published in America's Muslim Family, Spring 2006

> Listen to the Audio version of this article

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Look very very closely, carefully, and ... err ... well, hard I suppose, and tell me what can you see?



Wa anta khayru al-Raziqeen?

Thought so.

Now, look very very closely, carefully and hard again at this picture and tell me what do you see:



You silly fish?

Thought so.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

As a Man Utd fan, let me tell you that the only reason I follow all of Arsenal’s games is because of one jinn…err…sorry…player: Theirry Henry, the greatest footballer in the world.

Yep, the best. Without doubt.

Sure, Ronaldinho is the greatest player you’ll see in the modern game on the ball, and he’s got the best passing and he’s quick and he can place the ball anywhere and all the rest of it.

But Henry is all of that, not so magical on the ball, but a genius off the ball and the more natural striker. And he’s quicker too. And I like him too much, so there.

This debate could go on and on – but it looks as if England are unfortunately going to lose the best player they’ve seen for years to Barcelona who will have such a team, that I’m going to inevitably have to support them; you know, be the best and all that…

;-)

But until that happens, come on you dirty Gunners!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So, good news at last alhamdulillah.

I did it.

My second attempt at the 10km distance, on the road, varied conditions, without any breaks, blah blah blah ... has been successful. And it took just over one hour, which was a whole lot better than Saturday's 75 minutes (with one break in the middle).

Also let me add, this was without water and without any carbohydrates or any bakwas like that, so I reckon that's got to be a new World Record, 'innit'?

No?

The bad news is that my legs are killing me, my shoulders (for some bizarre reason) are killing me, my hips are killing me, in fact my whole body seems to be trying to assassinate the one remaining part left - my big mouth. Oh, my fingers too actually.

I also wanted to comment on my new found fraternity - the new brotherhood that I'm now a member of, namely all the other saddos who seem to be running around. Some would give me a smile as I puffed past, some a little wink, some just a polite British nod, others a rather un-British scowl, and then there were those who just totally ignored me pretending to be looking down at the road in front concentrating.

How do I know that this was their ignoring me? Because that's exactly the tactic which I was using so they can't fool me.

Ay na'm.

C'mon folks, I was sweating and struggling like anything - there was no way I was going to look up and make eye contact with all the super athletic men and women whizzing past and have my baistee done.

No, I only looked up to acknowledge the pensioners, the obese ones and those who were even bigger beginners than I was - now they were my kinda people.

:-)

PS: if you want to have the laugh of the day, then make sure you watch the video in this article. It's absolutely hilarious...

Monday, May 15, 2006

A rather splendid article by a rather thorough author...

Apostasy and Islam: The Current Hype
Jamaal al-Deen Zarabozo


Much has been said in recent months concerning the law of apostasy in Islam. In particular, the recent case in Afghanistan has highlighted, once again, to many in the Western world that the Muslim world is neither civilized nor respective of human rights. Repeatedly one hears cries that the Muslim countries must change in order to join “the family of civilized countries” in today’s world. In fact, the Islamic law of apostasy seems to be one of the most obvious cases where a “fundamental” human right is violated by Islamic law, bringing up the question of whether Islamic law is even suitable for modern times or must Muslims be compelled to modify and change their religion and laws.


Indeed, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the vast majority of today’s countries, reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

On the other hand, Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,

لا يَحِلُّ دَمُ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ إِلاَّ بِإِحْدَى ثَلاَثٍ الثَّيِّبُ الزَّانِي وَالنَّفْسُ بِالنَّفْسِ والتَارِكُ لِدِيْنِهِ المُفَارِقُ لِلْجَمَاعَةِ

“It is not legal [to spill] the blood of a Muslim except in one of three cases: the fornicator who has previously experienced legal sexual intercourse (i.e. with one’s husband, wife, etc.), a life for a life and one who forsakes his religion and separates from the community.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also reported to have said,

مَنْ بَدَّلَ دِينَهُ فَاقْتُلُوهُ

“Whoever changes his religion is to be killed.” [2] (Recorded by al-Bukhari and others.)

These texts from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have led the vast majority of Muslim scholars to conclude that the punishment for apostasy from Islam in Islamic Law is death. It is true that there are some, especially contemporary writers, who opt for very different conclusions and argue that such a death penalty is a misunderstanding of Islamic Law. This is not the proper place to enter into such a debate. Instead, this author shall presume that the opinion that has been held by the vast majority of the scholars is the correct opinion. This entire discussion, therefore, shall be in the light of that conclusion. If the harsher punishment can be “defended” from the current onslaught, any lesser punishments will, obviously, be even more so defensible.

This opinion held by the vast majority of Muslim scholars of the past puts the contemporary Muslim into quite a quandary—especially given a “modern” view of religion that believes that religion must be changed if it does not meet the rational requirements of the times. However, before one immediately jumps to resolve an issue of this nature, one has to realize that there are a number of unstated premises that are in the background.

Furthermore, if one is being asked to give up the dictates of his faith, there should be rather strong compelling evidence demonstrating that his faith (or some aspect of it) is simply unacceptable. In other words, nobody should be asked to give up something that they believe in unless there truly is strong proof that what he believes in must be wrong or unacceptable. Otherwise, on what basis should an individual—any individual, be he Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, whatever—compromise on something that he believes is demanded by or beloved to his very own creator and lord?

At this point, it is necessary to inject a further comment, because issues of this nature are often the result of different worldviews and perceptions. Many in the West have the understanding that “faith” means to believe in something that one cannot prove. This is not the approach of Islam.[3] In general, Muslims hold that there are very strong, rational reasons for them to believe in their religion. It is not simply a matter of “blind faith.” Instead—and this is obviously not the proper place to go into this in detail—Muslims think, for example, that the excellence of the Quran, its unquestionable historical authenticity, and the numerous miracles[4] related to it all point to this book being a true revelation from God. Thus, before a Muslim is asked to override something found in his religion, there had better be very strong evidence that something is mistaken or unacceptable in the religion of Islam. Furthermore, from a Muslim’s perspective, the burden of proof in such a case would be upon the one who claims that there is something superior or more suitable than what is found in Islamic law. (It must be stressed that this seems to be an issue that many in the West simply cannot comprehend because they think that faith is just a matter of blind faith and they do not realize that Muslims have rational reasons for believing in Islam and Islamic Law.)

The question that the Muslim must pose, therefore, is the following: Do those who promote “human rights” or “civilization/modernity” have such evidence and strong proofs? Without jumping too much ahead, it would seem that they do not.[5] In fact, one can question, based on their own statements about civilization, whether those who call for “civilization” are actually civilized themselves. What are the criteria by which a country is to be judged to be among “the family of civilized nations” today? Is it, for example, the acceptance and respect for those vaunted “human rights”? This would seem to be the underlying premise of many statements heard in the media today. If that is the case, then the list of human rights need to be studied in further detail.


The “Family of Civilized Nations” and Human Rights

One would expect that those who make a great fuss over the human rights of a Muslim accused of apostasy are themselves people who fulfill many, if not all, of the agreed upon human rights. It is interesting to take a glance at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed over fifty years ago and see how many “civilized nations” of today are actually fulfilling the rights that they devised, agreed to and exhort the rest of the world to adhere to—especially, it seems, the Muslim world.

Here is a sampling of some of the rights of that original convention (for the sake of brevity the later conventions that were also agreed to shall be ignored here[6]):


Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment.

In the history of mankind, two sets of people are well known for compiling manuals and research on the art of torture: the members of the Inquisition and the CIA. In recent times, perhaps everyone is familiar with the current debate in the United States about the use of torture on “terror” suspects.

Although it is a very general reference source, it is interesting to note what the 2004 Microsoft Encarta has to say about torture:

Until the 13th century torture was apparently not sanctioned by the canon law of the Christian church; about that time, however, the Roman treason law began to be adapted to heresy as crimen laesae majestatis Divinae (“crime of injury to Divine majesty”). Soon after the Inquisition was instituted, Pope Innocent IV, influenced by the revival of Roman law, issued a decree (in 1252) that called on civil magistrates to have persons accused of heresy tortured to elicit confessions against themselves and others; this was probably the earliest instance of ecclesiastical sanction of this mode of examination… In the 20th century the use of torture was revived on a major scale by the National Socialist, Fascist, and Communist regimes of Europe, usually as a weapon of political coercion. In addition, the Communist governments made use of the so-called brainwashing technique, a form of psychological torture in which mental disorientation is induced by methods such as forcing a prisoner to stay awake indefinitely. Brainwashing was practiced extensively on prisoners held by the Communists during the Korean War. Complaints about the use of physical and psychological torture have also been lodged against many other regimes in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.[7]

The nerve of those fascists and communists! The nerve of those uncivilized countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia! This is not the proper place to enter into a critique of the use of torture by the “family of civilized nations” who first and foremost uphold “human rights.” The interested reader may consult, just to name a few books, Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture or Jennifer Harbury’s Truth, Torture and the American Way as well as two books more specific about the recent debate Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture and The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. The amazing aspect to mention is that during this debate in the media, there has been very little or no mention that freedom from torture is, according to what the United States’ government signed, a fundamental human right.

It should be noted that for decades now Muslim activists have faced torture in prisons throughout the world with, for the most part, the West turning a blind eye to such activities. Indeed, some Western writers—even one who claims to be Sufi—defend such practices. For example, in Stephen Schwartz’s The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa’ud from Tradition to Terror, he states that Nasser’s regime’s “brutal repression of the Muslim brotherhood…was both necessary and justified.”[8] Of course, he never notes that it was this brutality and torture in Nasser’s prisons that truly led to the emergence of extremism in the Muslim world.[9]


Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any
discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal
protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and
against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 9

No one
shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair, and public hearing by
an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and
obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11

1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed
innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has
had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

These “fundamental human rights” are very interesting in the light of the manner in which both the United States and the European Union have responded in their “war on terror.” This point and the earlier comments seem to make it very clear that these fundamental human rights, which these very same nations speak so highly of, are by no means absolute. The “family of civilized nations” is more than ready to deny these human rights for the sake of “national security,” in other words, for the purpose of state. This is very telling. It clearly demonstrates that even from these countries’ points of view, the interest of the state is the most compelling factor. One simply has to understand and realize that his human rights can be suspended if necessary in the interest of the well-being of the state.


Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers.
Obviously, freedom of religion and opinion is something that the West stands for—or does it really? In March 2006, David Irving, a British historian, was sentenced to three years in prison in Austria for denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz during the Nazi holocaust. The Austrian law states that it is illegal to deny or “grossly play down” the Nazi genocide.[10] This is a crime that has landed someone in prison. Yet where is the outcry from the “pro-human rights” governments of the West. Why are the Western leaders not asking in relevant forums, “When is Austria going to join the ‘family of civilized nations’”? The EU, perhaps the most vocal supporters of human rights, does not seem to have a problem with a law of this nature from one of its own.


Article 23

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of
employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to
equal pay for equal work.

3. Everyone who works has the right to just
and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence
worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of
social protection.

4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade
unions for the protection of his interests.
Aren’t these the kinds of things that people demonstrate for outside of the World Trade Organization’s meetings? If the powerful nations (along with their friends in the powerful corporations) were fully in favor of these agreed upon human rights, wouldn’t they be embracing the demonstrators with open arms? Is that what occurs or are they met with the largest battalions of riot police the world has ever seen?[11] Could it possibly be the case that, according to the “family of civilized nations,” if “noble” profits are involved, then one may ignore human rights?

Today, there is a movement in the United States demanding the institution of a “living wage” as opposed to a “minimum wage.” The movement, so far, has not met with much success or acceptance.

Incidentally, beginning in 1923, Congress introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, to give equal rights to women, including the right to equal pay for equal work. Although the deadline to ratify that amendment was extended all the way until 1982, it was not ratified by enough states and has never become part of the US constitution.


Article 22

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social
security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and
international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources
of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 25

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing,
housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age
or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
These are truly amazing articles. It can be argued that anyone who believes in or promotes free market, liberal capitalism is, in essence, stating and showing that they do not believe in this human right. Free market capitalism, due to the violation of its essential assumptions, is not geared to producing “the best of all possible worlds” and only produces what the skewed market demands. A mixture of capitalism and socialism, at best, can provide something but probably not all that is needed. But it is this very mixture of capitalism and socialism that has been the target of attack in recent years. The policies of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO, which are nothing but tools in the hands of the “family of civilized nations” have been nothing short of an assault on any such “socialist” practices on the part of governments, especially those of lesser developed countries. The “liberalization” policies are in complete contrast to the “fundamental human rights” of the individuals of those countries.

The point of the above discussion is not to argue that “two wrongs make a right” and that, if those civilized countries can violate “human rights,” Muslim countries should be allowed to do the same. (True, such a stance on the part of Western nations can be seen as very hypocritical, and nothing breeds hatred and resentment like hypocrisy in action. However, again, that is not the main point here.) The point being made here is that it is rationally understood that there may be some issues that take precedence over what one understands to be fundamental human rights. In other words, as stated above, these rights cannot be considered absolute and defensible under all circumstances. This is true even for those countries who accept these fundamental human rights in principle. Thus, rights are good and important but they are not the end all of the issue. Other important and overriding factors may also have to be considered. Perhaps nothing highlights this point more than the recent debate on torture—even though the same countries who are debating the legality of torture have agreed that torture is clearly considered a violation of fundamental human rights.


Could God Legislate Death for Apostasy?

Many Christians, in particular, seem abhorred by the fact that Muslims could believe that God has legislated death for apostasy. This author has personally heard Christians claim, once again, that Islam must be some barbaric religion to believe in such a penalty. This attitude is very perplexing to this author. It is one thing to say, “We no longer believe in such a law” and quite another to say, “We do not believe in a God that would legislate such a penalty.” In the former case, the individual is simply turning his back on what may have been part of his religion. Such an approach is common for modernist Jews, Christians and Muslims. However, the latter approach clearly denies what is stated in their holy books. (Unfortunately, this is also not uncommon for modernists. However, many less-extreme Jews, Christians and Muslims do not allow themselves to go that far.)

An in-depth study of all of the relevant Biblical texts is well beyond what is needed here. Hence, only one or two verses shall be commented upon.[12]

Exodus 22:20 reads, “He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” Famed and widely respected Biblical commentator Matthew Henry had the following to say about this verse:

IV. Idolatry is also made capital, v. 20. God having declared himself jealous in this matter, the civil powers must be jealous in it too, and utterly destroy those persons, families, and places of Israel, that worshipped any god, save the Lord: this law might have prevented the woeful apostasies of the Jewish nation in after times, if those that should have executed it had not been ringleaders in the breach of it.[13]

Numbers 25:1-5 reads:

1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.

Another passage, Deuteronomy 13:6-11 is also quite telling:

6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; 8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

2 Chronicles 15:8-19 has the law being applied even to the young among the apostates. The relevant verses in that passage are verses 12-13 which read,

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

From the New Testament, one finds in Romans 1:20-32 that Paul approves of the death of idolaters, homosexuals and other sinners. This passage reads,

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

The above examples should be sufficient. The interested reader may further consult Deuteronomy 13:12-18 and Deuteronomy 17: 1-7.

Actually, as is well-known, the history of the official Christian church and many of its leaders on issues of this nature is very dark indeed. One did not need to be an apostate to be killed in the history of Christianity. Apostasy is to be distinguished from heresy, as is clear in the following passage from the Encyclopedia Britannica,

[Apostasy is] the total rejection of Christianity by a baptized person who, having at one time professed the faith, publicly rejects it. It is distinguished from heresy, which is limited to the rejection of one or more Christian doctrines by one who maintains an overall adherence to Jesus Christ.

Two examples from the history of Christianity dealing simply with heretics—not apostates—should suffice here. The Cathars, a pacifist heretical group of southern France, were crushed. Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against them. Here is how two Christian authors described part of that crusade:

In 1209, Arnold Amaury, abbot of Citeaux, called for the collective slaughter of all Cathars in the town of Beziers. His motto, which has carried forth into modern expression, stated, "Kill them all, the Lord knows those who are his." Only a small minority of the town, perhaps five hundred, was made up of Cathars, but all the city paid the price for guilt by association. Twenty thousand were killed. Thus began the wholesale slaughter of thousands of Cathars in the thirteenth century.[14]

Non-Catholics, of course, may respond to the above by putting the blood of those deeds on the hands of the evil Catholics. However, one should not forget Martin Luther’s ruling concerning the Anabaptists, another pacifist heretical group who had the audacity to have themselves re-baptized when adults.[15] Martin Luther stated that such heretics are not to be tolerated and the only fitting punishment for them was hanging.[16]

This approach is in compelling contrast to the legacy of Islam. Not long after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the caliph Ali had to face the crisis of the heretical group known as the Khawarij. Although he sent people to preach to them to correct their misunderstandings, his approach was that they were not to be physically attacked by the state as long as they did not commit any acts of violence against the Muslims. The Khawarij did become violent, and it became necessary for Ali to fight and defeat them. Afterwards, he was asked about them. He was asked if they were polytheists, and Ali replied that they, by holding the beliefs they held, were attempting to flee from falling into polytheism. When he was asked if they were hypocrites, he replied that hypocrites rarely remember and mention Allah. Finally, they asked him, “What are they?” He replied, “They are our brethren who revolted against us and we fought them only due to their revolting against us.”[17]


For God or For Country?

The history just referred to is actually very relevant for the contemporary discussion. It was this history that led to revulsion among Western thinkers to the idea of killing for the sake of God. There was so much killing of Christians by Christians in Europe that the great thinkers of Europe finally concluded that it makes no sense to kill “in the name of God.”

It did not take long for what occurred in the particular circumstances of Europe to be accepted by Western thinkers as “universal principles.” Nothing highlights this fact more than a short treatise prepared by the Institute for American Values shortly after 9/11. This paper was entitled, “What We’re Fighting For.” It was signed by many of the leading intellectuals in the United States, including Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and many others—including some of the leading just war theorists of today, such as James Turner Johnson, John Kelsay and Jean Bethke Elshtain.

In the opening passages of that paper, they state the following:

We affirm five fundamental truths that pertain to all people without distinction:

1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

2. The basic subject of society is the human person, and the legitimate role of government is to protect and help to foster the conditions for human flourishing.

3. Human beings naturally desire to seek the truth about life's purpose and ultimate ends.

4. Freedom of conscience and religious freedom are inviolable rights of the human person.

5. Killing in the name of God is contrary to faith in God and is the greatest betrayal of the universality of religious faith.

We fight to defend ourselves and to defend these universal principles.


Points numbers four and five are of most interest here. This author has to admit that the logic of this preamble escapes him. For example, how did Point 5 become a universal principle?[18] It definitely goes against what the West believed in for centuries. In reality, to this day, it is not a “universal principle” within the West—as can be seen by Christians who have been fighting each other in Northern Ireland and those who have committed murder at abortion clinics in the name of God. It is astonishing to see that after mentioning the basic principles, they then say that they fight “to defend these universal principles.”

At the very least, they should have said that they believe that these principles are good for all of humankind and deserving of the greatest amount of support. They way they have stated their case—and as signed by numerous dignitaries—has a fundamental logical flaw in it. How can they “fight” to defend the “universal principle” of “killing in the name of God is contrary to faith” while also fighting to defend the principle of “religious freedom” as one of the “inviolable rights of the human person”? From what they stated, one could argue that it is acceptable to fight for the sake of God against those people who kill in the name of God because killing in the name of God is contrary to faith in God, as they have stated!

But what have they done in reality? All they have done is replaced religion—for which one is not allowed to fight—with some principles that they have concluded—for which one is allowed to fight! Why should more weight be given to their devised principles rather than the principles that one believes has been revealed from God? Isn’t fighting for man-made principles nothing more than a “secular holy war”? In one of his numerous writings, James Turner Johnson made a valuable comment that highlights the self-contradiction of the stance that these signatories have taken. He wrote,

However, when the state itself develops a state ideology, something very much like holy war reasoning reasserts itself in secular guise. Examples include the ideologies of nationalism, nazism, communism, ethnicity, and even democracy. The West, then, has not completely rejected war for religion, for something very like it lives on in the form of wars for various justifying ideologies.[19]

Now comes a very perplexing question for anyone who believes in God, which, it seems, is still the majority of humankind today: How is it that one is not allowed to fight for the sake of God’s religion—God who created and nourished all of humankind—yet it is considered acceptable today to fight in the name of man-made ideologies, such as “democracy” or “freedom”? Indeed, it is considered completely acceptable today to fight in the name of man-made “nations.” People get together and form a nation, sometimes a result of most arbitrary historical events, and yet it becomes considered acceptable and logical for the people of that nation to kill others in wars carried out in the name of that nation. The same people who defend those types of wars, including many of the signatories to the above mentioned treatise, will condemn killing or fighting in the name of religion or for the sake of God. Which one should make more sense to the one who believes in God, regardless of whether he be a Jew, Christian, Muslim or whatever?

The issue becomes even more perplexing for those who believe in God: An individual can be jailed for life and even put to death for treason, all in the name of the state, yet at the same time, in the name of freedom of expression, anyone is allowed to say anything they wish about God, religion or virtually any other subject. The man-made entity called the state—which may not even exist tomorrow, such as Yugoslavia, or may even give up its overriding ideology, such as the USSR—has the right to put someone to death but God has no right to call for the death of any individual.[20]

The result is a rather hypocritical situation. If such rights for states are accepted then they must also be accepted for God, especially when one’s view of God embodies state, society and personal devotion, as in the case of Islam.


The Paradox of Human Rights and the Freedom to Believe

Those who object to the law of apostasy in Islam in the name of “human rights” have fallen into a very interesting paradox. According to the principle of freedom of belief, nobody should be asked to give up anything they believe in, however today, it is being demanded of Muslims that they not believe in or implement the Islamic law of apostasy. In other words, in the name of human rights and the freedom to believe, they are saying that one does not have the right to believe that someone should be put to death for denying the religion of Islam. This is very much similar to Henry Ford saying, “You can have the Model T in any color you like, as long as it is black.” They are actually defining the limits of one’s belief and they are doing that in the name of freedom of belief.

Proponents of human rights have openly voiced their view: If there is any conflict between human rights—that is, what they claim to be human rights—and any religion or way of life, then human rights takes precedence. In other words, one has the freedom to do and believe what one pleases as long as it is in accord with what the propagators—or dare one say, false gods—of human rights approve of. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, for example, writes,

Muslims may have the sincere conviction that their religious tradition requires deviations from international law, and such private beliefs must be respected. However, the situation becomes different when beliefs that Islamic rules should supersede human rights are marshaled to promote campaigns or measures for stripping others of rights to which they are entitled under international law or when such beliefs are cited to buttress governmental policies and laws that violate the International Bill of Rights. The resulting curbs on rights and freedoms go well beyond the realm of protected private beliefs and enter the domains of politics and law.[21]

Mayer claims to write more from an international observer of law. So now, she has gone from declaring freedom of religion to declaring what types of religion will be free to exist and be actually put into practice. Obviously, any religion that claims any say in “politics” or “law” is not an acceptable religion.

In a work entitled Women’s Rights Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives, Meyer wrote an article in which she delineated some of what must be removed from the Islamic world due to its contradiction with the concept of human rights. Note how many of the following clearly and without question violate direct texts of the Quran or Sunnah,

Laws [in the Muslim Middle East] commonly provide that the wife must obey her husband, that wives are not allowed to work outside the home without their husbands’ permission, that men may take up to four wives, that a Muslim woman may not marry outside the faith, and that women are entitled to only one-half the inheritance share that men inherit in the same capacity. Depending on the country involved, one may find that women are compelled to wear concealing garments in public… that their testimony in court is excluded or valued at one-half the weight of a man’s, that they are not allowed to travel without the permission of a male relative or unless accompanied by a male relative… Obviously it would be hard to justify the retention of such laws if one took seriously international norms such as Article 2 of CEDAW [Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, in force since 1918], requiring all states “to pursue all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women.”[22]

Similarly, after the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June 1993, the New York Times stated that Washington warned “that it would oppose any attempt to use religious and cultural traditions to weaken the concept of universal rights.”[23] At that conference, Secretary of State Warren Christopher stated that the U.S. will defend the universality of those rights against those who hold, in his own words, “that human rights should be interpreted differently in regions with non-Western cultures.”[24]

It seems that what they are saying is clear: Although freedom of belief is a fundamental human right, according to the article quoted above, before one is truly allowed to believe in or practice any religion, one must check with the human rights experts to ensure that the beliefs and practices of that religion are compatible with fundamental human rights. If this is not a paradox, nothing is.

The following question remains: What “right” do they have to force such paradoxical thinking upon the Muslims, requiring that the Muslims actually alter their faith? It seems that there is no such “right” as such a right could only be invoked by contradicting the Muslim’s “fundamental human rights”!


Conclusion

It is beyond the scope of this article to touch upon all of the relevant points related to the question of the law of apostasy in Islam[25] in the light of contemporary thought and attitudes. However, the above has been sufficient to demonstrate that there does not seem to be any logical, historical or philosophical argument that proves that Islam’s law of apostasy is unacceptable or irrational, especially when applied within the strict confines of the principles of Islamic Law.

The belief in the Islamic law of apostasy stems from the Islamic belief in God, the Creator. It stems from the belief that God has the right to lay down laws for His creatures and that, in fact, He is the best in laying down such laws. This should be considered logical by anyone who believes in God. Even though it can be considered logical, this argument is repugnant to many of the West, even those who believe in God. However, this fact has more to do with the West’s unique history than with the logic of the argument being made. The West experienced a period in which many were killed in the name of God and they also experienced a period in which they realized that their scriptures are not truly from God, due to their manifest contradiction with science. Both of these facts led the West to move away from “God’s law” to man-made laws. One, though, cannot derive “universal principles” from the experience of this small portion of human beings. In fact, those phenomena have no relevance whatsoever to Islam.

Thus, there is no logical reason for a Muslim not to trust in Islam’s scripture, the Quran, as being a true revelation from God.

Hence, there is no reason for a Muslim to abandon God’s law.

Similarly, there is no reason for a Muslim to stop believing in the fact that the best lawgiver is God Himself.

Therefore, there is no logical reason for a Muslim to stop believing in the Islamic law of apostasy as explained by the Prophet of God, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is there anything as boring as running?

(Sighs and returns to the mother of all monotony.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Update 12:34am 13/5/06: You can now donate online if you don't wish to use the sponsorship forms by going here.


Many of you already know about my attempt to complete the Great Manchester Run next week insha'Allah and I've been busy attempting to train for it.

'Attempting' because I haven't actually run 10 kilometres before in one go - I once ran a total of 10km in two parts with a 15 minute break in the middle. Be fair though guys, I'm not exactly an athlete and running isn't my forte, leave alone the fact that I'm not the fittest guy in the world.

But anyway insha'Allah, this is where it starts and I'd love to be able to get to a level where I could run the London Marathon - that race which you watched as a kid on the BBC and thought, "Who on Earth would be that stupid to run so far?" to "Man, can you imagine doing that one day?"

Naturally, you can't waste such a run without getting sponsorship for a good charity. Personally, I like and support my three favourite local charities which are Human Appeal International, St Ann's Hospice and The Royal School for the Deaf.

For this race, I'll be supporting the Hospice, which really does a great job of looking after the terminally ill; you might remember it from a few posts last year which you can remind yourself about here and here.

Really, I've witnessed the fantastic work these guys do there; the respect, concern and gentleness that they show for their patients, irrespective of religion, ethnicity and race is unbelievable. And as for ethics? Try their statement on the whole 'assisted suicide/euthansia' debate:

"The real debate should be centred on increased access to "assisted living" not assisted dying."

Ay na'm.

Don't be someone who donates to an organisation only after they help you, or because it might help you one day, but be the bigger and more magnanimous person, helping simply because you know they help others.

I urge you all to support this project, and would be grateful for any sponsorship ideas you may have (I'll be giving out some forms in the Adab class tonight) and any other assistance people might be able to give, especially those who are experienced in fund-raising in this crazy kind of way. All ideas welcome!

Below is a sponsorship form for those who can print it off and do a collection or come up with any other ideas.

May Allah reward you all abundantly and turn your efforts and donations into a shield from His Anger and a Proof of your place in Paradise, Ameen!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Today's ethical dilemma: does one accept an invitation tonight by the Islamic Bank of Britain to discuss current products and direction in the market - over a full buffet dinner at Nawaabs of course. Note: dinner at home tonight looks pretty ordinary too.

Hmm. Sounds a bit dodge doesn't it...

Tell you what - let me know your thoughts tomorrow.

:-)

PS: I got the England eleven spot on of course (give me at least that one guys!) and you are about to witness a Lankan battering.

PPS: Minus the lad behaviour, you've got to have a soft spot for our local Red Rose, Freddie Flintoff:

"Matthew Hoggard called the Prime Minister a knob when we were celebrating winning the Ashes at a Downing Street function, and you know what? That's the first thing Hoggy's got right in a while. Blair is a knob."

England captain Andew Flintoff shows what he lacks in diplomacy he makes up for in having his finger on the pulse of the nation

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'm a total sucker for Supermarket deals. I went to Morrisons the other day and found loads of offers so go and check it out - Kelloggs Chocolate Crunchy Nut thingymajigs on two for the price of one and are running out fast.

Tescos has got buy one get one free on loads of good lines - Chocolate Frijj Milkshake one of many.

Oh, silly me! I forgot the best deal of all!

Didsbury and Leeds Masjid for a limited time only - Buy Maghrib and get Isha Free.

:-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

After watching this just now, I'll tell you what Iman needs.

She needs the belt, that's what.

Yeah.


(Excellent programme by the way; Briers and the couple did the Sunnah proud)
So, the dilemma of the next few weeks:

1. Accept an invitation to attend an American conference in Copenhagen on the weekend 7-10th of July...

or

2. Stay at home and watch you know what (although can you believe that I forgot the final was on the 9th and I had to be reminded of it by guess who of all people...Usama Hasan!!!)

Baistee I know - call myself a footie fan?

Anyway, so that's the dilemma. Kasmai, these Yankees can't get anything right...

Monday, May 08, 2006

So, things are getting serious re: England team selections, both footy and the beautiful game itself...

Starting with the footy then - Eriksson is a chamcha anyway, so it doesn't matter what he thinks. How on Earth this man chose Owen Hargreaves I will never know. How on Earth he chose Jenas I will never know. How on Earth he wasted a space on Walcott I probably will know (when he comes off the bench and scores the winner in the Quarters after doing an impression of a greyhound at the good old Hackney raceground behind the Sunday Market)...

He should have definitely taken Marlon Harewood as cover for Rooney; he's the only big, bully type of striker we've got other than Rooney, with two good feet and he's in form as well which helps. With only Crouch looking like he's going to be our Sheringham, there's a major disaster looming up front for England, and there'll be a massive responsibility on Joe Cole especially and then Gerrard and Lampard to try and score all the goals.

Anyway, assuming the current squad and no Rooney/Owen, my starting eleven:

Robinson,
A Cole, Ferdinand, Terry, Neville,
Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard,
J Cole,
Crouch, Dafoe.

That's a 5-3-1-2, based on a lame squad, lame Manager and a little bit more than just a wing and a prayer.

I don't think England can do it without Rooney, but I reckon we'll still give it a bash...


As for our more honourable pastime, then again assuming the injuries and the available squad at the moment, I'd go for:

Trescothick, Strauss, Cook, Pietersen, Flintoff, Collingwood, Jones, Plunkett, Mahmood, Hoggard, Panesar. (batting order)

That's of course based on the fact that we've no wicketkeeper-batsmen and hence we're stuck with Jones, we've no spinners so we get to take Panesar miskeen, all our fast bowlers are mashed so we have to take Mahmood miskeen (and trust me, these two are lame I'm very sorry to say and I'm a Red Rose remember?), Bell is rubbish so Cook can't be any worse and yet again, the whole team will revolve around Flintoff. Collingwood was always my pick for the test team and should have no worries for the Ashes even and I think we'll batter Sri Lanka in all honesty.

Naturally, the "we" will have to change in a few months time with the arrival of the apnas; then it'll really be time to sort out team selection...

;-)
Times Online - For God and Country

For all those who goes to our circles, then this is our Nafisa.

Yeah, that Nafisa.

Disclaimer: I had nothing to do with any of her final fiqhi conclusions.

And I'm definitely not an American revert...

;-)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A bit out of date, but hey...



Ok, so the BNP got a few seats here and there but what happened to the freaks from UKIP who were a bigger danger for all intents and purposes...



And folks, you've got to have seen like 5 minutes of this chat-show just to realise how utterly lame it really was:



Finally, can I make my position very clear despite the recent resurgence in the whole second wife jazz amongst some brothers: I have absolutely no hopes, aspirations or dreams of doing anything like that.

Period.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Alhamdulillah, thumma Alhamdulillah.

Indeed by His Grace and Mercy, are the people guided and the hearts opened.

By His Mercy at tonight's Adab circle, we welcomed brother Josef into Islam.

Alhamdulillah 'ala ni'mat'l-islam wa kafa bihi ni'mah.

May Allah 'azza wa jall make his path easy and mubarak, Ameen!

This in addition to our other recent revert Ayman from the circle, is really bringing a nice European flavour to our affairs. Who'd have thought this was what happens when the EU opens its borders!

Does anyone know of any good Deeni and Qur'anic resources in Slovakian, Czechoslovakian and Russian? I'd appreciate anything, either here or to my email before Saturday Maghrib time so I can pass them on to our new brothers at Shaykh Kehlan's halaqah bi-ithnillah.

Please continue to keep our new brothers and sisters around the world in your du'as, and indeed your du'as for the rest of our people who still haven't yet received the light...

All views and opinions expressed on this website and its attachments do not reflect
the views and opinions of Prophetic Guidance or any of its associates.
free hit counter javascript