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Muslim Scholars Letter to Al-Baghdadi of ISIS or ISIL— a Missed Opportunity

Muslim Matters - 1 October, 2014 - 06:06

Recently, with much fanfare, 122 scholars (as it is being reported in the media) issued an open letter to Al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph and leader of the 'Islamic' State of Iraq and Levant/Syria (ISIS or ISIL). This is yet another in the litany of letters and fatawa that have targeted terrorists or terrorism. For example, renowned salafi-oriented Saudi scholar Shaykh Salman Al-Oudah wrote a letter to Osama Bin Laden in 2007 [bookmark this excellent collection of fatawa/letters in this post on TAM].

But based on the media reaction to this latest letter, one would not be blamed for thinking this is the first ever such effort.

First it is important to say that the effort should be appreciated, regardless of its drawbacks. Undoubtedly, such a letter will have positive impact for Muslims in the West because the average individual in the region will see this as an effort undertaken by Muslims to reclaim their own narrative.

Also, the letter raises several excellent points and is an obligatory reading for anyone involved in Muslim community affairs, be it imams or youth leaders. This is because it is important for such community leaders to familiarize themselves with textual Islamic proofs to provide a counter-narrative to the “jihad-cool” narrative that some disaffected youth may be attracted to. That is, Muslims policing their own to prevent any individual from seeking a violent path in response to legitimate grievances.

From Letter to Al-Baghdadi-“Who gave you authority over the ummah [Muslim people]?” the letter asks. “Was it your group? If this is the case, then a group of no more than several thousand has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion and a half Muslims. This attitude is based upon a corrupt circular logic that says: 'Only we are Muslims, and we decide who the caliph is, we have chosen one and so whoever does not accept our caliph is not a Muslim.' “

Because we bemoan the lack of coverage of Muslim condemnation of terrorism, one would expect that most Muslims would welcome such significant media attention. However, that has not been the case as discussed below:

Who is the Audience?

While the target audience is Al-Baghdadi and his followers, one can safely assume that this audience that is primarily of jihadi-salafi orientation will ignore it, coming from scholars that are of mostly sufi leaning. This is especially important because of the deep sectarianism that ISIL engages in.

So if ISIS will not receive it, who will? According to CAIR's Nihad Awad, “even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans”. So if it is not for Americans (or Europeans), then it seems we have an awful audience problem.

Many times these letters are meant to serve the signatories, to tell the world, “look we are not with the enemy, but we are the good guys”. And it appears to me that this is the real purpose of the letter, along with some media coverage that pits Muslim scholars against ISIS.

The Messenger Matters, sometimes more than the Message

It is one thing to include scholars such as Shaykh Bin Bayyah who is respected almost universally, but quite another to include controversial figures that completely mar any chance that the letter might have had on reaching those that most need to read it with an open heart and mind.

The two individuals whose inclusion is most alarming is Shaykh Ali Gomaa of Egypt and Ed Hussain, a British citizen currently working in the USA.

As most Muslims are vividly aware, Gomaa was one of the key scholarly voices who justified the massacre of Egyptian people by coup-enabled President Sisi. The following are Gomaa's despicable words, which one could in fact say, are not very different from the type of rhetoric employed by ISIS:

Shoot them in the heart … Blessed are those who kill them, and those who are killed by them . . . We must cleanse our Egypt from these riffraff … They shame us … They stink. This is how God has created them. They are hypocrites and seceders … Stand your ground. God is with you, and the Prophet Muhammad is with you, and the believers are with you … Numerous visions have attested that the Prophet is with you. May God destroy them, may God destroy them, may God destroy them. Amen!

Imagine an ISIS supporter receiving the letter signed by Gomaa, and then comparing its contents to the words above. It is not difficult to imagine that such an individual would take the letter's contents seriously.

The other individual whose presence as a signatory is also disturbing in addition to being alarming is Ed Hussain. Initially, how is it that a person who is shy of using his first name Muhammad can be an activist for Muslims? Can one imagine a Jewish activist who changes his last name from Cohen to Cain? While this might seem a minor point, it becomes important when Ed Hussain wants to portray himself as a defender of Muslim rights!

Ed's associations are also disturbing. He was part of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, a much-despised government-funded organization that has almost no support in the Muslim community of UK. This is partly due to the organization's enabling of anti-Muslim bigotry by taking up neoconservative positions, including for example indirect support of Israel's Gaza incursion. While Ed has moved on from Quilliam, he has kept his most despicable UK-related association—he is still a senior advisor at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

Not much explanation is not needed to make the point that any person associated with one of the most destructive global voices today, Tony Blair, is hardly someone who should be taken seriously as a voice for peace. In fact, it can be said that Blair is one of the key enablers in the creation of ISIS, because it is he who justified the invasion of Iraq and its subsequent destruction. Blair is now pushing a new war on Islam, with an ever-expanding definition of radical-Muslims.

How do we expect Al-Baghdadi or any of the ISIS followers to take such a letter seriously when it involves the same people who justified the murder of 3000+ in Egypt and who in various positions or associations have enabled Israel's attacks in Gaza, the invasion of Iraq, etc.

President Obama, defender of drone attacks and extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens, recently quoted Sh Bin Bayyah, “We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace”. Yet the presence of some enablers of war and killings in the letter's signatories means that the this is yet another opportunity missed for peace through the battle of hearts and minds.

post script-I am fully aware that one of the founders of MuslimMatters and our scholar, Dr. Yasir Qadhi is also one of the signatories. And it is important to point out that I am not criticizing anyone for signing the letter and joining Muslim luminaries such as Sh. Bin Bayyah and Sh. Hamza Yusuf. My points are simply related to the efficacy of the letter due the presence of some controversial figures and the absence of some important figures. The latter is something I did not choose to delve in.

The post Muslim Scholars Letter to Al-Baghdadi of ISIS or ISIL— a Missed Opportunity appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Tony Abbott finds burqa 'confronting' and would not oppose parliament ban

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 October, 2014 - 04:45

PM says: I wish it was not worn but we are a free country ... and it is not the business of government to tell people what they should and shouldnt wear.

The prime minister has made it clear he would not oppose a parliamentary ban on the burqa, saying he found it confronting and, although people should be free to wear what they want, the rules of secure buildings needed to be obeyed.

The issue of banning the burqa in Parliament House was raised last week by the Liberal senator Cory Bernardi as the government introduced national security reforms to the parliament.

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NFL Admits Husain Abdullah’s Penalty For Prayer Was Wrong

Muslim Matters - 1 October, 2014 - 04:03

Already trying to maneuver its way out of accusations (and evidences) of insensitivity toward women and racial minorities, the last thing the National Football League needs is a religious discrimination controversy.

So it makes sense that the league acted quickly in attempting to put out the social-media firestorm that started when Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah was given an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty during the Sept. 29 “Monday Night Football” game for performing an Islamic prayer following a touchdown.

“Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth-quarter touchdown,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora, the league's vice president of football communication, said in a statement sent to the Reuters news agency on Tuesday morning that he also posted on Twitter. “The officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play.”

In the fourth quarter of the Chiefs' eventual 41-14 win over the New England Patriots, Abdullah intercepted a pass thrown by superstar quarterback Tom Brady and returned it 39 yards for a score. After crossing the goal line, Abdullah went to his knees and slid to a stop, where he prostrated in sajdah.

His actions drew a penalty flag, which drew the ire of Muslims and non-Muslims following the game on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Many observers pointed out that football players who practice other religions and perform acts of prayer and religious expression on the field — such as devoutly Christian quarterback Tim Tebow and Hindu running back Arian Foster — are never penalized.

For his part, Abdullah told reporters after the game that he thought he got the penalty for the slide before the prayer and not for the prayer itself. “I just got a little too excited,” Abdullah said. “I think it was for the slide.”

He added that before the game he'd planned to “prostrate before God” if he scored a touchdown.

Abdullah is the league's most visible Muslim player. He is known as much for his faith as he is for his skills on the field. Abdullah observes the Ramadan fast without fail, whether it falls during the season or not, and two years ago he received some mainstream media attention when he essentially risked his NFL career for his religion: Husain and older brother Hamza, also an NFL veteran, sat out the 2012 season so they could make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and then travel the United States visiting mosques and Islamic centers. Players who spend a year out of the league often don't make it back. Husain was signed by the Chiefs after his sabbatical and had to prove himself again playing backup and special-team roles often reserved for rookies and fringe players. Hamza has not signed with an NFL team since the hajj.

The NFL is already in damage-control mode in the midst of recent public-relations crises surrounding domestic violence incidents and the ongoing debate over the Washington Redskins' team nickname. Bad press isn't the only consequence, either; corporate sponsorships and the millions of dollars they bring are also on the line. The league and embattled commissioner Roger Goodell cannot afford to offend another marginalized minority group.

Monday's incident appeared to me as more of an issue of religious ignorance than a clear case of religious discrimination. I don't think the official who threw the flag spotted a Muslim player praying and decided that was more unsportsmanlike than a Christian player praying. I believe the official did not recognize Abdullah's sajdah as an act of prayer because it wasn't something typically seen on the field. Abdullah did not raise his arms and eyes to the sky or drop to one knee (remember “Tebowing”?). He did not perform a “Namaste” bow, as Foster does when he scores a touchdown. I believe the official probably thought Abdullah was instead doing some kind of celebration to call attention to himself or perhaps even taunt the Patriots.

Ignorance is not an excuse; that's just my best guess at an explanation.

If the NFL is going to have a rule that outlaws celebrating while on the ground, but makes an exception for acts of religious expression, than its officials should be exposed to the variety of forms of religious expression they might encounter. I don't expect every NFL referee to keep a list of which players are Muslim, which are Christian, etc., but being aware of the different ways in which different religions pray would've likely prevented another potential PR problem for the league.

 

Watch Husain Abdullah's interview with Muslimmatters after his Hajj

The post NFL Admits Husain Abdullah’s Penalty For Prayer Was Wrong appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

NFL says Husain Abdullah should not have been penalised for praying

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 September, 2014 - 16:43

Flag thrown after Kansas City Chiefs player dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception in Monday night game

The NFL said on Tuesday that Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception.

The leagues rule book prohibits players from celebrating while on the ground, but spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email on Tuesday that the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play.

Outcry over Chiefs player Husain Abdullah's post-touchdown prayer penalty - http://t.co/mu04r1evSQ pic.twitter.com/x6Mw6fsUhh

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US anti-Islam ad showing murdered journalist James Foley to be taken down

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 September, 2014 - 16:31

Controversial blogger Pamela Geller to remove ads from New York City buses and subways after protest from Foley family

An anti-Islam ad depicting American journalist James Foley immediately before he was beheaded is being removed from New York City buses and subway stations, after a protest from his family.

A picture of Foley from immediately before an Islamic State (Isis) militant beheaded him was one of two pictures used in an ad by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a rightwing group run by blogger Pamela Geller.

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Anti-Islam, but pro-gay? How mosque opponents tie themselves in knots | Connor Tomas O'Brien

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 September, 2014 - 08:12

Wherever Islam spreads, homophobia follows thats the rhetoric mosque opponents use against their leftwing foes. The real issue is the bigots own inconsistency

The left seem to be very stupid, I suppose, Mike Holt says. The Queensland-based former One Nation candidate is bemused when I ask him why he believes some progressives support both the expansion of rights to LGBT people, and the building of mosques in regional Australian centres.

Holt is one of the key figures in the anti-mosque campaign. He takes credit for launching the Concerned Citizens of Bendigo organisation that emerged to fight the construction of a mosque in that town, but denies any involvement with the near-identical Facebook pages that have cropped up in the wake of announcements to build mosques in Maroochydore, Kalgoorlie Boulder, Kalgoorlie, and Currumbin.

hoping that the LGBT movement is going to ride in like a knight in shining armour to save the day is exactly that: wishful thinking ... it also fails to recognise the seemingly bizarre alliance between Islam and homosexuality that is fostered by political correctness.

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Family of Abdul Numan Haider have been sent death threats, police say

The Guardian World news: Islam - 30 September, 2014 - 06:33

Police condemn threats and say family of teenager shot dead by police in Melbourne must be left alone to grieve

The family of a teenager shot dead by police in Melbourne last week have received death threats, police said on Tuesday.

The parents of Abdul Numan Haider, who stabbed two officers outside Endeavour Hills police station last week before he was shot, were threatened over the weekend. Haider,18, was being investigated by a terrorism task force, and had had his passport cancelled.

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Hassan’s Tale, Part 16 – Kidnapped

Muslim Matters - 30 September, 2014 - 05:05

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

I began pulling treasures from the safe one by one. There was an envelope that contained loose diamonds – large ones that sparkled brilliantly even in the low light of the cottage. A leather case contained plastic sleeves that held gold coins, including South African Krugerrands, Swiss Francs and Canadian Maple Leaf coins – all pure gold. A separate box contained actual gold ingots in fifty gram weights.

A small cardboard box contained five carved figurines cushioned by foam pellets. Each was about the height of my hand. They were made either from ivory or bone – I couldn't tell – and depicted various historical figures that might have been Maronite saints. The only one I recognized was Saint Maron himself. I examined the Saint Maron figurine. On the bottom, in tiny Arabic script, were the words, “Khaleel Haddad. 1502.” I realized that I was looking at an artwork created by one of my own ancestors over six hundred years ago.

I was stunned. These assorted treasures must be worth a small fortune. Where had they come from? Were they my father's share of the Haddad family fortune? Had he already been wealthy when he left Lebanon? But then why did he live so simply, running a gas station while mom sold purses through the mail? Was he in hiding? Or hiding his assets from the government?

I shook my head, having no answers to these questions.

Aside from the treasures, there were four more things in the safe: a photo album, an envelope containing documents, a blue canvas-bound journal, and at the very bottom, a battered black briefcase with a combination lock. I tried the latches on the briefcase, but it was locked. Great. Yet another combination to figure out.

I examined the photo album. It contained exactly what I had hoped for: family photos of me, Charlie, our parents, and some of our relatives in Lebanon. Gold and diamonds were fine, but this was the true treasure.

There were photos of me and Charlie playing, including one of me, dripping wet, and chasing Charlie in the backyard. I stared at it for a second, then I remembered and smiled. I'd been practicing forms in the backyard when Charlie had sneaked up behind me and dumped a bucket of ice water on my head.

There were photos of my school graduations and belt promotions, and Charlie's as well; all of us at Swensen's, eating ice cream; family outings to the beach, and even photos of my aquarium and the beautiful tropical fish I had nurtured so carefully. The funny thing was that we'd had a family photo album. I remembered browsing it on summer afternoons, with Charlie fighting me for control over it. And I remembered seeing many of these scenes, but not these particular photos. Apparently every time we'd developed a roll of photos my father had divided them in two. One group went into the family album, and the rest into this secret album. As if he had known that the other might not survive.

I stared at each photo for long minutes. It had been so long since I had seen my parents' faces. My father, with the laugh lines around his eyes, always using a cane to walk. My mother, with the serious grooves alongside her mouth, mitigating her movie-star beauty. I felt a combination of wonder and heartbreak. Sitting here, looking at her face in the photos, I wanted so badly to see her again. I would hug her as tightly as I could, and tell her that I was okay, and that I was so sorry about Charlie.

I put the album aside and took a deep breath. I picked up the envelope full of documents and emptied it on the kitchen table. It contained papers that one might expect to find in any homeowner's safe, with a twist. Interestingly, there were two sets of identity documents for my entire family, one under the name Haddad, and another under our assumed name of Ibrahim. There were birth certificates for myself and Charlie, old passports, and social security cards, though the latter were under the name of Ibrahim only.

Two property ownership deeds were clipped together. The first was the deed of ownership of the house, indicating that the house had been paid for in cash. I'd always assumed that my parents had taken out a mortgage like everyone else, but obviously with the kind of savings my father had possessed, that would not have been necessary. For the first time, it occurred to me to wonder what had become of the house after my parents' deaths. Who had taken ownership of it? Who had profited? I shrugged. The Porters owned it now, and that was fine with me.

The second property deed bore the name of an entity I had never heard of – Red Day Incorporated. The deed was for a section of land in Riverside County, zoned for industrial use. I puzzled over that for a minute, until I realized that it was the abandoned rail yard where my mother had taught me to shoot. So my father had known about that all along. Or my mother had told him at the end, after they reconciled. But what was Red Day?

That question was solved as I sorted through the papers. I found incorporation documents for Red Day. It was a foundation based in the Cayman Islands. The officers were listed as – to my surprise – my entire family, under our surname Ibrahim.

I was not about to revive my old identity in order to access the foundation, but I did want to know if the property still belonged to Red Day. If the property taxes had not been paid, the state of California would have repossessed the land and re-sold it. I was thinking about my mother's guns. If they were discovered it could lead to a police investigation. Or perhaps they'd been discovered long ago and the case was filed away in a cold-case box in a police warehouse. It might be better to leave it alone.

I was tired of examining documents, but there was only one left. It was an account statement from an Austrian bank called Volks Group. No name on the documents. Only a long account number, a series of alphanumerical characters handwritten by my father, and a phrase:  “Share the house.” It was a numbered account. I'd heard of these from a guy I knew in El Reno who'd been sentenced to thirty years for his role in the savings and loan scandal. All you needed was the account number, the access code and the code phrase, and you could access the account and wire money out. Even the bank employees did not know who had opened the account.

The opening balance, according to the documents, was fifty million Austrian schillings. I had no idea how much that equaled in dollars. It could be a thousand dollars or enough to buy a small country, for all I knew.

I'd saved the blue canvas-bound journal for last because I knew what it was. I'd seen my father writing in journals like this many times, and I'd sneaked a peek over his shoulder occasionally. If this was like the others, it was a combination of diary, poetry and philosophical musings.

I opened it randomly. Printed on the page in my father's neat handwriting was a poem:

Water in the Well

There will always be water

in the well for you,

even when my lips are parched.

There will be an ark

when the troubles rise

and you don't know where to stand.

There will be strong hands

to lift you, and smiles,

and a heart split wide,

with the sea

rising and falling inside.

There will be rain

from a clear sky.

There will be water in the well

for you, my love.

 

Kamal Ibrahim, 1980

I read it three times, soaking up the words. It was written for my mother, no doubt. My father had loved her so much.

With trembling hands, I leafed through the journal. I found diary entries, more poems, and thoughts on non-violence, sincerity, defeating racism, the meaning of justice, and more. As I neared the end I saw something that made me go utterly still. My father had written me a letter. It was dated only a few weeks before his death. I'm paraphrasing, but this is more or less what it said:

 

My beloved son Simon,

It's my hope that you have discovered this journal late in life, along with the others that I have yet to write. I hope that I lived a long and fruitful life, and that you and I came to know each other as men.

I am proud of you. Sometimes I watch you when you don't notice. I observe you teaching a junior student in Hapkido class, playing with Charlie, or tending to your fish, and I see a boy with a huge heart, boy brimming with love and faith in himself and the world. Watching you is like seeing a piece of my soul, grown into a new person. I love you. And I know your mother feels the same.

Your mother and I sometimes disagree, but she is my angel. Everything she does stems from her deep love for her family. I pray that when you grow up, you find a woman as fiercely protective and loyal as she. That's no easy task.

There are two great challenges in life, Simon. The first is life itself – the blows it deals you, the setbacks, the hurricanes that knock you off your feet, no matter how strong you are. The way people can betray and disappoint you. Lost love. Sickness. Death.

My plan has always been to wait until you are eighteen to explain the family history. So by now you know. I chose the name Ibrahim for our family because the Prophet Ibrahim was the father of us all.

Being a descendant of Antoine Haddad carries a burden of guilt, shame and fear. Aside from that, we each carry our regrets like anchor weights on our hearts. We have our private shames, moments of failure, and times when we lost control and said or did something we shouldn't have.

This brings me to the second great challenge in life, which is forgiveness.

Simon, I don't worry about your ability to weather the storms of life. You are a fighter. You're stronger than me; stronger than your mother, even. You're a superhero in the making, son. I see it.

True strength, though, lies in forgiveness. Whatever anger you harbor against others, let it go. Anger and resentment make us brittle and cynical, and narrow our vision, making our world small. We become bitter and quick to judge. These negative emotions are poisons that kill us day by day, from the inside out.

Forgiveness opens the lungs and lets us breathe. It releases our hearts to beat freely, and lets the weight fall from our backs.

I know that this is easy to say and hard to do, but we must search our hearts for every vestige of bitterness and resentment, and forgive.

Ask God Almighty for forgiveness for anything you've done that you regret, then, let it go. Others have erred against you because they are human; you have harmed others because you are human. Breathe in and out, and let your regrets escape with each breath. Do this as often as you need.

Forgive me Simon, for any way in which I've hurt you, embarrassed you or let you down. Forgive your mother. She's not perfect, but by now you know that no one is. Forgive your brother. Brothers fight sometimes, but you are Charlie's hero. Forgive your wife, if you have one, and your children. When families forgive each other it creates a safe, peaceful space. That peace ripples out into society, touching everyone we encounter. By that means we change the world.

This last one is hard. Being a Haddad means having enemies by default. People will hate and fear you because of your name. I'm asking you to forgive the ones who denounce and injure you. Do it not for their sake but for your own heart, and for God.

Simon, be gentle with yourself and others. The world is bursting with hatred, divisions, and suffering. It is torn by war and conflict. Let us change this by starting with ourselves. Go into the world today and be gentle, and forgive, because when you forgive, you live.

Love,

Your father,

Kamal Ibrahim

 

The post Hassan’s Tale, Part 16 – Kidnapped appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Hajj: A Culmination of a Lifetime’s Work

Muslim Matters - 30 September, 2014 - 05:00

Ḥajj is the journey of a lifetime. This popular statement has become somewhat of a cliché. There was a time when people would save for a lifetime to fulfil this dream and ambition, and for many it remained unrealised. This is still the case for people in many parts of the world. Along with this, for many people Ḥajj is not necessarily that turning point in life, not all people will necessarily become more religious post Ḥajj, and yet for others it is more a status symbol and a prestigious title; Ḥaji.[1]

I do not mean by the above that people no longer value Ḥajj or take it seriously. On the contrary, they do. Yet even for these people, Ḥajj often has a limited effect which wears off after a while. This is perhaps because in this fast paced world where we are accustomed to life in clicks and swipes (smartphones, tablets etc.), we expect that Ḥajj will solve all our 'piety' needs like a pill. What we fail to realise is that in order for Ḥajj to be a catalyst for change and a turning point, it has to be something into which we put much effort and work, often years worth.

You may well ask here, what I mean by all this? It is interesting to note that there are two Prophets who are closely related to the Ḥajj and from whom the rites of pilgrimage are taken. The first is the Prophet Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)[2] and the other is our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). When studying both of their lives, we see that for them the Ḥajj was the culmination of a lifetimes work, effort, sacrifice and achievements, and not just something which happened after a few weeks or months. Let us analyse this in more detail.

It is said that the Prophet Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was born in Babylon where he grew up in a society prevalent with paganism and idolatry. According to some historians, his father Āzar, used to make and sell idols for a living. The Prophet Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) being upon the natural way of tawḥīd shunned the practices of his people. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) throughout the Qur'an chronicles the different challenges Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) faced.

First, he approached his father, and with utmost respect and wisdom gently exhorted him to leave the worship of idols. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions this in Sūrah Maryam, verse 41 onwards, “And mention in the Book Ibrāhīm. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet. When he said to his father, 'O my father, why do you worship that which does not hear and does not see and will not benefit you at all?'”[3] Despite his numerous pleas to his father, his petitions fell on deaf ears. Instead his father responded, “[His father] said, 'Have you no desire for my gods, O Ibrāhīm? If you do not desist, I will surely stone you, so avoid me a prolonged time.'”[4] Thus, Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) faced his first challenge; being disowned by his own father.

Undeterred, Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) continued with his mission of Islam by next calling his people to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and when they rejected his call he waited to show them the futility of their beliefs. We then have the famous story of the smashing of the idols. “So he made them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it”[5] When Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was brought before his people for questioning, he answered, “He said, 'Rather, this – the largest of them – did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak.'”[6] Despite attesting to the inherent weaknesses of their gods, his people remained obstinate in their beliefs, instead choosing to cast Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) into a raging pyre. “Allah said, 'O fire, be coolness and safety upon Ibrāhīm.'”[7] Thus, Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was not only disowned by his father but was then exiled from his land.

Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) next travelled to another land, the Levant according to some historians and came across the celestial worshippers. He then engaged in a debate with them using logic just as he had done with his father and his people. “And thus did We show Ibrāhīm the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain.”[8] Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) mentioned to these people the futility of worshipping the stars, moon or sun as each one cannot control when it is visible or invisible to the naked eye, let alone anything more substantial. Instead he proclaimed, “Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah.”[9]

As such, the Prophet Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) moved from challenge to challenge including facing the tyrant ruler of his time, Nimrūd. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) finally bestowed upon Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) the son he craved for so long in old age. Yet shortly after this, Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was commanded to take his wife and newborn son to the barren desert land of Mecca and leave them there. A land in which there was no food, water, shelter or people. It was not even on a normal travelling route whereby people would pass from time to time. Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) obeyed the command of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), sacrificing for His sake. An almost impossible task to perform under any circumstances, but such is the strength of Ibrāhīm's faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) provided for Ismāʻīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and his mother, and a group of people came upon them and settled there. Mecca grew into a town and the baby Ismāʻīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) grew into a boy. His father, Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) returned this time having seen a dream in which he is slaughtering him. “And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, 'O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.' He said, 'O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.'”[10] Once again, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) rewarded Ibrāhīm's submission by replacing Ismāʻīl with a ram. These are just some of the challenges that Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) encountered in his life's journey.

Years pass and by now Ismāʻīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) had grown into a man. Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) returns once more, now in very old age, with the command to raise the foundations of the Ka'bah. He asks Ismāʻīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) for his help. “And [mention] when Ibrāhīm was raising the foundations of the House and Ismāʻīl, [saying], 'Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.'”[11]

Thus the culmination of a lifetime of achievement, sacrifice and submission to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was the building of the Ka'bah. Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was then ordered to proclaim the Ḥajj.

Our own Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) received revelation in the Cave of Ḥirā'. He was then ordered to call his family to Islam, “And warn, your closest kindred.”[12] After this, he stood on the Mount of Ṣafā and openly invited his tribesmen to Islam. This then began a series of attacks, assassination attempts and wars.

The Companions (ranhum) were oppressed, some were tortured, others were killed, others were split from their spouses and children and yet others were stripped of their possessions. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself was attacked, spat at and the entrails of camels placed on his back. He was mocked, ridiculed and assassination attempts were made. The Muslims suffered economic sanctions and underwent much difficulty.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) lost his uncle Abū Ṭālib, his wife Khadījah, two daughters and all of his sons during his lifetime. His other uncle, Ḥamzah was martyred. The Muslims fought a number of battles and many other smaller skirmishes. He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was poisoned, lived with very few material possessions and weeks would pass by in his house without a fire being lit.

To expand on the biography of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) here would take too long. It can perhaps be best summarised in the following narration on the authority of our mother, ʻĀ'ishah (ranha) who asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “O Messenger of Allah, has there ever come upon you a day more difficult than Uḥud?” He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied, “I have faced many things from your people, but the most difficult day was the day of 'Aqabah, when I went to the people of Ibn 'Abd Layl ibn 'Abd Kilāl.[13] They did not respond to my call so I left feeling distraught until I reached Qarn al-Thaʻālib without realising. I raised my head and there was a cloud above me. I looked and saw Jibrīl who called me. He said, 'Indeed Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has heard the response of your people and what they said, and He has sent the angel of the mountains so you may command him as you please.' The angel of the mountains gave salāms to me and said, 'O Muhammad, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has heard the response of your people and what they said, and I am the angel of the mountains. Your Lord has sent me to you so that you may command me. What do you command? If you wish, I will crush them between the two mountains.' The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, 'Rather I hope that Allah will extract from them those who will worship Him alone and not associate anyone with Him.'”[14]

Thus, as a result of the Prophet's ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) faith and trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), his patience, determination, sacrifice, mercy and good character these same people of Ṭā'if would accept Islam in his lifetime, just as the Makkans accepted Islam after the Conquest of Mecca. After over twenty years of striving for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) performed his first and only Ḥajj, telling the people, “Perhaps I will not meet you again after this year.”[15] Similar to the life of the Prophet Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ḥajj was once again the culmination of a lifetime's work.

Upon reflecting on the life of these two great Prophets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and when the Ḥajj occurred in their lifetimes, we realise that in order for us to get the most out of Ḥajj we need to put in just as much. Ḥajj cannot simply be about those two or three weeks in Saudi Arabia, but our preparation must start as many weeks, months and if possible years before our actual pilgrimage.

Let us reflect on the lives of these two Prophets, contemplate on the magnitude of this great pillar of Islam and prepare ourselves for that honour of being the guests of Allah so that our Ḥajj is truly a journey of a lifetime.

 

 

 

[1] I realise that these statements are somewhat sweeping generalisations but I would opine that this is still the case for many Muslims, although I recognise that there are many for whom this is not the case.

[2] His son, Ismāʻīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is included with him.

[3] 19:41-42.

[4] 19:46.

[5] 21:58.

[6] 21:63.

[7] 21:69.

[8] 6:75.

[9] 6:79.

[10] 37:102.

[11] 2:127.

[12] 26:214.

[13] This is the name of the tribe of the people of Ṭā'if who stoned the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) when he went to preach Islam to them.

[14] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, no. 1795.

[15] Sunan al-Nasā'ī & Sunan Ibn Mājah.

The post Hajj: A Culmination of a Lifetime’s Work appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Michele Bachmann to Obama: Islam is the problem and you need to ‘declare war on it’

Loon Watch - 29 September, 2014 - 21:48

michele-bachmann-at-value-voters-summit-800x430

Can you believe Rep. Keith Ellison has to deal with these people?

By Scott Kaufman, Raw Story

At the 2014 Value Voters Summit, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann (R) claimed that there is no such thing as “moderate” Islam, and that President Barack Obama failed the American people by deciding not to declare war on it.

Speaking of her appointment to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, she claimed that she “had a front-row seat to a world set on fire,” she said, “from Islamic jihad. And what we’ve seen is one disaster after another for the Obama-Clinton policy team.”

“In their fantasy world, being a smaller, diminished, less-powerful United States is somehow supposed to bring about global tranquility.

“Well, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, we want our 1980s foreign policy back!” she shouted. “Peace through strength! Peace through strength! We don’t want your failed ‘Russian reset’! We don’t want four Americans dead in Benghazi!”

“Nothing will change the world more than your foolish lifting of sanctions on Iran as they are racing to complete nuclear weapons — and they will,” she said to Obama, “if you stay the course.”

“Unbelievably, we have the first anti-Israel president in American history,” Bachmann said, continuing to address the absent Obama. “That’s your legacy!”

“It’s no wonder Hillary Clinton couldn’t think of an answer when asked on her book tour to name her greatest accomplishment as Secretary of State,” she continued. “Well I have one — permanent retirement!”

“Quite simply, because she basically fails to inspire confidence in just about anything, and don’t forget — she’ll be Barack Obama’s third and fourth term as president.”

Bachmann bemoaned “the rise of radical Islamic jihad — though that’s redundant,” she said, conflating all forms of Islam with its most radical elements, much like Oklahoma state senator Mike Bennett did last week.

She claimed that Muslims are engaged in “spiritual warfare, and that what we must do is defeat Islamic jihad. Sadly, our president has the wrong prescription. He even fails to acknowledge their motivations for bringing out jihad.”

“Yes, Mr. President, it is about Islam!” she said as the audience applauded wildly.

“And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously. You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”

“You kill their leader,” she continued, “you kill their councils, you kill their army until they wave the white flag of surrender. That’s how you win a war!”

“We’re going to have to answer to the next generation — why we failed to defeat the totalitarian evil of our day.”

“Here is the ugly truth” about moderate Muslims like the Syrian rebels the president considered arming, she added.

“They will never be vetted. And they certainly aren’t all moderates. Nearly half of the Syrian rebels we trained have already taken up the cause of Islamic jihad. Half! So why in the world are we giving them American weapons?”

Her entire speech can be viewed on the Values Voter Summit feed via YouTube below.

Arkansas Firing Range: “No Muslims Allowed”

Loon Watch - 29 September, 2014 - 21:40

jan-morgan

Something tells me Jan Morgan craves attention. Apparently, every nobody has received unverifiable “death threats.” Why hasn’t she informed the police if that is the case?

In an act that will no doubt result in lawsuits, The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has declared itself a “Muslim free zone” due to concerns over domestic Islamic terrorism. The ban was announced yesterday by range owner Jan Morgan in an article posted to her web site where she cites ten points justifying her position.

Among the points cited are prior attacks in the United States that the federal government refuses to classify as terrorism, including the Fort Hood attack, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the last week’s Oklahoma City beheading. Morgan has also received death threats in the past for her writing about Islam.

Dead pig left outside French mosque

Loon Watch - 29 September, 2014 - 21:08

Pontarlier-mosque-desecration

via. IslamophobiaWatch

The mosque at Pontarlier in Franche-Comté in eastern France was subjected to an attack on Monday, when a dead pig was left outside the building.

Le Nouvel Observateur reported that Tahar Belhadj, president of the regional federation of the Great Mosque of Paris, had condemned this deliberate desecration of a place of worship and denounced the “chronic Islamophobia” at work in Franche-Comté.

Mosques in the Franche-Comté capital of Besançon were repeatedly targeted with racist, fascist and Zionist graffiti last year – in February, August and November – and in December a pig’s head and pig’s ears were left outside a mosque.

See also “Pontarlier: Un porc jeté devant la Mosquée”, Islam & Info, 22 September 2014

And “Le cochon, outil de profanation préféré des islamophobes”, Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France, 23 September 2014

Schoolgirl jihadis: the female Islamists leaving home to join Isis fighters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 September, 2014 - 20:52

Hundreds of girls and women are going missing in the west, reappearing in Iraq and Syria to bear children for the caliphate

Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East, causing increasing concern among counter-terrorism investigators.

Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadis, bear their children and join communities of fighters, with a small number taking up arms. Many are recruited via social media.

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Guardian Live: Hatreds Old and New as it happened

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 September, 2014 - 17:21

Should Britains Muslims and Jews feel constrained by the events in the Middle East? Are Islamophobia and antisemitism at all time highs? The Guardians Jonathan Freedland and the Huffington Post UKs Mehdi Hasan came together to talk about the current atmosphere in the public sphere and what each community needs to do to be heard

Just weeks after the latest direct conflict between Israel and Gaza dominated headlines, The Guardian and The Huffington Post UK brought together Jonathan Freedland and Mehdi Hasan - two of Britains leading commentators to talk about the current atmosphere between British Muslims and Jews; their relationship prone to be held hostage to events happening in the Middle East.

Mehdi Hasan wrote for the Guardians Comment is Free section until he left his role as a senior editor the New Statesmen to become political editor of the Huffington Post UK in 2012. In his final article, he wrote about British Muslims feeling alienated from participating on the public stage because of the prejudice Muslim commentators, like himself, encountered:

I used to encourage Muslim students to get involved in the media or in politics, but I now find it much harder to do so. Why would I want anyone else to go through what Ive gone through? Believe me, Muslims arent endowed thicker skins than non-Muslims.

Each time I come across the kind of abuse he cites I mentally replace the word Islam with Judaism and Muslim with Jew. I know how I would feel if I was bombarded with long screeds denouncing Jewish faith and customs as sinister, alien, backward or bonkers, just as I know how I would feel if I were told Jews need to change their ways if they are to be accepted into polite society... So yes, Im glad to stand with Mehdi Hasan, even when we dont see eye to eye.

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