intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Monday, January 23, 2006

Islam, Muslim families, Islamic societies, Khilafa

I am going to try to write some basics. Will be obliged if offered corrections, additions or subtractions. :)

What are Muslims?
First of all, we give witness that that there is only One Deity, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Merciful, the Just, ... and that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the last prophet.

When we say, we are Muslims, what does that imply as to our behaviour and duties?

o living Islam,
o building Islamic societies,
o raising Muslim families,
o establishing the Khilafah.

That is what we have to do. Of course, these can be consecutive.

How do we live Islam?
I am going to write out a few things. These will seem like a lot of learning to do, and a lot of ways to mould ourselves in, and we may think it is too much, but actually it is easy. I will give a key at the end, and that will open the way, insha`Allah.

The first is aqeedah (belief). Aqeedah is:

o the concept of Allah,
o His attributes;
o the concept of Risalah (prophethood),
o of the last prophet Muhammad ;
o of the revealed Books,
o of the last revealed Book (alQuran) and its preservation by Allah;
o of Qiyamah (Day of Judgement),
o ...

We need to know what these beliefs mean and require from us. It is counterproductive to give witness that there is only One Deity, who has no son, yet to go on believing that Jesus is God's son. It is a contradiction to believe in Allah, yet to believe that He has abrogated His powers in favour of some men (and women, dead or alive) who are intermediaries between us and Him, and who can stop or facilitate our approach to Him. We must learn and believe (and that belief should be reflected in our actions).

It is necessary to know that the prophet was not a postman who delivered us the Book (alQuran) and vanished, but that he lived as an example of the life we are required to live (except in those things where he was special), and that obeying Allah also requires us to obey the prophet. It is important to read Allah's last revealed Book, to understand it, to act upon it, and if we find more than one set of instructions, either to learn to understand where the different rulings apply, or to ask those who know.

It is very, very important to get it right, but it does not mean that we pick a quarrel with those who haven't got it right. We are to discuss with them in a calm and logical manner.

It is part of the beliefs to know why we are here in this world, and what will become of us.

Why are we here?
We are here to establish that we have deserved the trust Allah placed in us when He created us as His viceregent in this Universe. For that we have to live by His rules, and to spread His word, as there will be no more prophets coming to correct human errors. The last prophet has come and gone, and the last Book has been revealed.

We offer Salaah (prayers) five times a day, in each of which we follow a series of body movements indicating our attention, obedience and communication to Allah. A set of these series of body movements is called a rakaah. The Salaah for each time consists of several such sets. In every rakaah, we recite the Surah (Chapter) al-Fatihah (the Opening). That Surah starts with the person reciting it praising of Allah, appealing to His attributes of Sustainenace and Mercy to All, and supplication to show us the right path, of those He has favored, not of those who were forsaken or who went astray.

And immediately after that comes Surah Baqarah wherein the opening verses Allah says:
Verily this (Book) is without any doubt. It shows the path to those who are pious. So, our supplication to show us the right path is answered, and we are given the Book which shows the path to follow. But there is a qualification - the path is shown to those who are (or want to be) pious. And we will have to read this instruction manual.

You see Allah created the Universe and mankind, to whom He entrusted His viceregency. He gave man the Universe to decipher and use.

When we get an instrument or appliance, we often get a manual with it. The more complex or powerful the appliance, the more need of a manual. Allah gave us life, and viceregency, so it is natural that we should have been given a user manual to go with it. Quran is our user manual for living this life. And as with all user manuals, we have to read and understand it to get the functions right, and not to short-circuit or blow up the appliance.

Now that may seem like a tall order - a book in Arabic, not written in the form we are accustomed to. First we will have to learn Arabic, then try to understand the verses which, at first reading do not follow any logical order, and which sometimes seem to contradict each other.

Well, may Allah be pleased with all who have brought this Deen (way of life) to us, that meanings of the Quran have been translated and explained by the Ulema (scholars), and it is not necessary to be able to understand Arabic to know what is required of us. Of course, it is still better if we learn the language, and many scholars have also devised ways to impart that learning to us.

The wonderful thing is that most beliefs, and most dos and don'ts are very clear. On reading the Quran, we see some beliefs stated and explained in many ways - the Oneness of Allah, His attributes of Power, Sustenance, Mercy, Justice, etc., the purpose of mankind, reason for its straying away, of the prophets sent to set erring mankind to the right path, of the Books revealed, of punishment meted out to those who persisted in their evil ways, of the blessings in sending the last prophet .

What then is the key we talked of earlier?

That key is the Sunnah of the prophet . After the death of the last prophet, some Muslims approached Ummul Mumineen Aisha (ra), and asked her how the prophet lived. She exclaimed: "Haven't you read the Quran? He was living Quran".

Subhanallah! Not only did Allah send us His last revelation which He has undertaken upon Himslef to preserve, but He also sent His last prophet as an example for us to follow, and by deduction it follows that the prophet's Sunnah is also preserved.

the second of the things we are to do is establishing Salah (prayer). Establishing means:
offering the prayers with all the requirements in the prescribed manner:

o the niyyah (intention)
o purifying ourselves - ghusl (bath), wuddu or tayyamum, as applicable
o adhan (call to prayer) if someone hasn't done it before us
o offering the prayer in jamaah (congregation, establishing it if it does not exist, and joinig it where it does).

o the niyyah intention)
o body movements an positions,
o reciting with the words, phrases and Surahs in Arabic
o understanding, feeling and responding to the words uttered,
o making supplications (in Arabic or any other language)
o ...

We have talked of establishing Salaah. This requires places of worship properly cared for, where the adhan is said at the time of Salaah, where Jumma prayer is established together with the khutba (address), and where Muslims are in sufficient numbers to participate in these prayers. There should be arrangements for Eid prayers, attended by all Muslims in the city. There should be arrangements for dhabeeha, for washing and burying our dead.

Is it sufficient to be a self-contained Muslim in submission to Allah, who prays five times a day, keeps fast every day from dawn to dusk in the month of Ramadan, pays his wealth purification tax (Zakaah) every year, performs the Hajj at least once a lifetime, if he can afford it?

From the story of the Bedouin who asked that question about what will take him to Jannah, and was told the Ibadah, we must realize that the Islamic state had already come into being with the Prophet [saw] as head.

We can find a lot of articles on what constitutes ibadah (worship) in Islam. Perhaps I will add a few sentences to what I have previously written, but there is something more.

It is also necessary to try to establish an Islamic society.

[b]What then is an Islamic society?[/b]

In an Islamic society one shouldn't have to worry whether one's living, one's earnings or investments are halaal or not. At present, there is so much mixing of halaal and haraam, that our living incorporates much of the haraam.

For example, loans needed for buying houses, transport, establishing businesses, carry interest, which is haraam (forbidden).

We are addicted to participation or watching entertainment that is haraam. Quite frankly, watching TV in which we see pictures of non-Mehrams, is haraam, more so because the living depicted is unIslamic.

Islam is submission to Allah (swt), and that means a lot of thing besides worship. Every act in life that is allowed can be an act of worship, but I want to distinguish between HUqooqullah (the Rights of Allah over us), and Huqooqul Ibaad (the rights on people over each other).

Let us see if we meet the criteria for Islamic societies, and if we can improve our lot.

From time to time we hear of acid throwing on the face of women, Muslim or non-Muslim – totally unIslamic.

Theft, shoplifting, violence in any form outside of warfare, are totally unIslamic, yet we hear of revenge attacks, killings and rapes – totally unIslamic.

Our pursuit of money and power, at work and in politics is unIslamic.

Our spending, our consumptions, follow unIslamic routes.

Where is this coming from, both in the Muslim countries and in the West where the Muslims have settled?

Ignorance? but if so, is there an attempt to remove ignorance?

There are Muslim countries where a leader commands obedience whether by virtue of descent from the chief’s family, or of a spiritual leader of the past, or because of his landholding or as an employer or facilitator of employment, or other favours.

We know that the Iran-Iraq war was brutal. True that it was engineered by the West, but why did two Muslim populations fall for it?

We know that either Iran, or Iraq, carried out the chemical weapons attack on the Kurds. Why was that?

We are told that the Arab Janjaweed attacked another Muslim group in Darfur, Sudan, with murder, rape and plunder as weapon of ethnic cleansing.

There are areas in the West where the Muslim population is ghettoized in a locality, and a supposed village atmosphere from back home is envisaged and enforced.

I am thinking of cases of forced marriage in Pakistani, Morrocan, Kurd etc. communities. It seems the Moroccan youth in France are particularly prone to violence. If this is true, where does this unIslamic behaviour come from?

Then, our living is unIslamic. Most of our time is taken up in efforts to earn more, punctuated by entertainment.

I look at my life, and am sad, for it has been so far from Islamic. After coming back to Pakistan, I had the mosques so much near me, but I did not spend time in them. I took my son to Jummaa, but always ridiculed the Maulvi, and so he had this instilled in him that the Maulvis are somehow not up to the mark, and not worth listening to. I did not sit down with him and study the Quran and Hadith, I did not make him stand with me in Salah, which would have made him understand the importance of praying in Jama`a.

It is I who introduced TV, tape, cassette and video players in the house, so now if I want the Quran tapes to be played in the house, how can I expect the rest of the family to do the same. It is the man of the house who is responsible, but if he spends his young days in enjoying himself, he cannot expect his family to give it up when he does.

A Major retired from the army, and after a few years turned to the Tablighi Jamat. His was a very impressively full beard. He confided in me that when he started a beard, his wife told him the family would not object to him, but he also should not expect the to become so overtly religious as him.

He knew that was logical, and although it hurt him to see his family not observing Islamic norms, there was nothing he could do.

We should consciously Islamise our lives immediately with our families. We should try things that set us apart from non-Mulims, and are pleasing as well. Say, if we use atr (perfume), specially on Fridays and Eid days, make Fridays special days for our children. If the man of the house isn’t taking his responsibility in this regard seriously enough, the one who does understand should make every effort.

alHuda International has worked wonders. There has been a sea change in the condition of the women, the girls and the children here.

It is important to make our children realize that we use only what is halaal for us. We should make them learn the value of sacrifice for others, the value of working in unison, of obeying the leader, of respecting other people’s rights. The reason Muslims have been in a mess is the tendency to excommunicate those who are different, whether in terms of ethnicity, sect, tribe or anything else.[I] I often think we operate on the exclusion principle[/i].

Thursday, January 19, 2006

human cost to UK for Halliburton

98 UK service personnel killed, 4,017 medically evacuated from Iraq.

MoD must already hold records on the natures of injuries, but the details are not being released. Defence minister Ivor Caplin said in Jan '2005 that 790 service personnel had been injured in hostile action and accidents. but the department could not provide an equivalent figure for the past 12 months. However, it insisted that the number categorised as wounded in action at the main field hospital at Shaibah Logistics base, south of Basra, was less than 200.
comments from the UK effectees:
Sue Smith, whose son, Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, was one of three Staffordshire soldiers killed by a roadside bomb last July, described the injured as the "forgotten soldiers of the Iraq war".
Reg Keys, whose son Tom was among six Royal Military Police officers killed in 2003, added: "Both the American and the British don't want people to know about them."Corporal Dave Corrigan, a Territorial Army Para, who has undergone four operations on his knee since injuring it while serving as a field ambulance commander during the initial war phase, said: "We are a statistic and they try to hide it and it is so easy to hide the TA because we melt into the background."

Extent of soldiers' injuries in Iraq 'hidden by MoD'

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Understanding the Long Term

Here is an article by bro. Yahya Emerick. I think there is good sense here.

Understanding the Long Term
By Yahiya Emerick

I have been an avid reader of history for all of my adult life. It’s what I studied in college, and even when I was in grade school I always found social studies classes to be the most intriguing. Tales from long ago gave me a sense of my own time. I felt grounded in a historical period that was just one of a succession of time periods. The teachers were my guides and I was a sponge.

As a teacher in a school today, I can appreciate what it means to sit “on the other side of the desk.” Imagine being the one to influence generations of people- simply by influencing one child! Parents know this and alternately fear and hope for their children. If their child becomes a loser, then it will affect grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on. But if their child excels and becomes successful, then it will have a positive affect on their descendants likewise.

Oh, the travails of youth and their parents! Think about it: when we were all young energetic students, our view of the world was so one-dimensional. Our main concerns were social relationships, sports, buying things, fashion and how best to defy our parents’ authority. As adults, however, we have come to see things in a different light: we want to live in a safe neighborhood, get a good job, set ourselves up comfortably both now and for retirement- and we certainly don’t want our children to play the same kinds of tricks we played on our own parents! The view of youth is shorter in nature, that of adults is, by necessity, longer term.

One of the things that has occurred in the last four years, (with all the world-turned-upside-down events that seem to be falling one after another in a cascade,) is that a few more people than normal are beginning to step away from their little insulated lives and are starting to take a look, albeit from different perspectives, at the “Big Picture.” That there is a wider perspective on life and its meaning is something not new to history buffs, and it is certainly not a new concept for Muslims either. Isn’t the Qur’an chock full of demonstrative stories of the past and exhortations to look at ancient peoples and their mistakes to learn lessons? But still, it’s hard, very hard, for people to lift their eyes away from the ground before them and look to the horizon.

When I entered into Islam, I plunged into the understanding that I was joining a civilization, not just a religious community made up of many immigrants from exotic foreign lands. To even think so narrowly is out of the question. No, Take a stab right back through time and see the rise and fall of the Ottomans, the Seljuks, the Fatamids, the Abbasids and the Umayyids! The Silk Road was the highway of da’wah and the waterways of the Spice Islands were the haunts of great Muslim sailors and adventurers. The mythical Sindbad and the colorful stories of the Arabian Nights were the reflection of the imagination of a far-flung world that produced such opposite characters as Omar Khayyam and Ibn Taymiyah. Swirls of intrigue, achievements in science, the great rulers and lonely poets who dotted the landscape from Timbuktu to Samarqand all compete for our attention in the history books as we consider the flow of our great civilization.

Yes, we still talk of the art and the advancements in culture, though we don’t preserve much of either. We extol the literature and the poetry, but almost no Muslims today read it, (and we certainly aren’t creating much in that department these days except for maybe imitating rappers, comedians and other shallow pursuits!)

People ask me why I’m so cheery all the time. Well, besides the fact that Eman is supposed to make you happy, I am not depressed about the current state of Muslims. No, I have always taken the long view. Sure, Muslims are stuck in a pickle right now, but 200 years from now when (unknown) revival sweeps over the Muslim world, or five centuries from now when the (somebodies) come to power, or 1000 years from now when the great Khalifa (who knows) rebuilds the Muslim heartland with a new vigor and energy after the old (as yet unnamed) empire fell into decay…

Do you get the point? We are not the end-all and be-all of Islamic history. We don’t need to panic and have a heart attack that somehow we will drop the ball and Islam will disappear forever. So we’re losing the youth, so some people are having a hard time struggling for their status in the Masjids, so the Department of Homeland Security is arresting every Muslim taxi driver and tennis player they can find. All of these things are the problems of the moment, but they are not the long view. If all of us are only looking at the dashes on the road and arguing about whether or not they are crooked, painted right, or too bright, then our collective car will slam into a brick wall and we’ll look around dumbly and ask, “What happened?”

Islamic civilization was old before us, and one day we will be part of the past. Schoolchildren will be reading about our time in future classrooms, and innocent young faces will be asking their teachers, “So why didn’t they do this or that?” To which the teacher will reply, “Well, Fatima, I guess they were too busy being caught in the moment to think up new and novel solutions to the many problems they faced.”

Have you ever driven by a graveyard and seen the big monuments and mausoleums? Did the thought ever occur to you: “Why did those fools make such structures over their graves? Did they think it would make them remembered?” For really, no matter the size of the monument, you will only be remembered as long as there are people around who knew you. How many of you go to the graves of your great-great grandparents and reminisce about them? I would venture to say none of you do this, for you never met them. One day your grave (and my grave) will be in some forgotten corner somewhere, awaiting the day when future people decide to pave over the graveyard to build a new parking lot or luxury condominium complex, or even spaceport!

There is a think-tank called the Rand Corporation, which has some loose ties to the U.S. government. Besides trying to come up with policy suggestions for them, this group has a department that projects current trends into the future to try and predict events of interest to the U.S. 50 years, 100 years, even up to 300 years from now, so that policy makers today can tweak their decisions to get more favorable results for future Americans. Besides the fact that, as a historian, I laugh at the idea that the future can be so micro-managed, I do appreciate the effort that at least somebody has seen the value of looking at the wider picture; not just worrying about the war in (fill-in-the-blank) or the repeal of the state tax, but trying to see what they can do today to make their country more stable in the future.

This is not a new concept for Muslims either. The hadith literature abounds with predictions and suggestions for future generations of Muslims, while the Qur’an gives us the example of how charity can have a ripple effect, likening it to a corn plant that produces more and more kernels. Even Muslim rulers and scholars knew that their actions would affect Muslims for countless generations. Listen to this story:

Once there was a famous Seljuk Muslim ruler by the name of Malik Shah, who had a very able prime minister called the Nizam ul Mulk. While Malik Shah was the muscle behind his kingdom, it was the Nizam who demonstrated his superior intellect and foresight. The Nizam traveled all over the land not once, but seven times to check on the condition of the people. From North Africa to the borders of India he caused innumerable Masjids, orphanages and schools to be built. To top it all off, he established the University Nizamia of Baghdad to which all the brightest young scholars were attracted to.

When Malik Shah noticed these things and thought about it, he called to his prime minister in alarm and said, "What are you doing, minister of mine? To support all these institutions you began, my treasury is almost empty. Why, you haven't even built a single fortress nor have you built up a powerful regiment of soldiers to defend the empire if need be!"

The Nizam became very serious in his tone and replied, "The fortress you speak about is perishable and temporary. But the fortress I have built for you will defy the ravages of time and prove unbreakable. You have spoken of increasing the numbers of soldiers, but the arrows of those soldiers won't travel beyond 100 yards. The arrows of the army which I have built up will ascend into heaven itself and make your name imperishable."

This has always been one of my favorite nuggets of wisdom, for in these times when we’re having to combat any number of idiotic challenges from every dark corner, we need to be reminded that we are only a small footnote in a grander story. Islam will not perish, for Allah has promised to protect it. Too many Muslims forget this and they fill themselves with stress and worry, thinking that somehow they were the protectors of Islam, and thus, whenever there is a setback or things are unbearably tough, they take it as a personal defeat.

It’s not that we have to stop doing what we are doing. No, because Allah calls upon us to work actively in His cause. What the problem is is that our attitudes are focused only on the now without the hope for the future and the satisfaction that Islam, will, yes, prevail over all other lifestyles. It’s when we have this kind of attitude that we can take a fresh look at what we’re doing and free our minds up from defeatism to come up with ingenious solutions, bold initiatives, creative concepts and long term goals.

I’ve seen too many good brothers and sisters running from one crisis to another like a fireman working alone to contain a forest fire. Not every problem needs to be addressed right away and with a knee jerk reaction. I like the fact that we have an organization like CAIR, for example, because it allows national coordination and action on many issues of hatemongering, whereas in the past, individuals ran themselves silly trying to do everything themselves. Now CAIR can approach major news organizations and get them to adhere to standards that are not Islamophobic, and in turn they filter these guidelines down to the countless newspapers and radio stations they own.

This is creative thinking with long-term impact. Now what about other areas? What can Muslims do to solve other headaches, keeping in mind goals for 50 or even a hundred years from now? This is where you come in. Whether it’s saving the youth, getting sisters their equal Islamic rights or how to make (and keep) converts- there are better ways to do things that will outlive and outlast our own fragile lives. The key is in two things:1) remembering that you are part of a greater process of history, and that you will die and not be a physical part of that history, and, 2) you can still be a “player” in the grand drama that leads humanity back to its Lord by setting your sights a little higher and trying to see what you can do today that will alter the course of generations to come.

Think long term. Do things smarter. Influence the lives of your great, great grandchildren that you will never meet for the better. Make sure they will have access to the only path that will bring them true success- the path of Islam. You won’t be with them in person, but wouldn’t you love to see them in Jennah! Be prepared to sacrifice a lot of time and money because your life is the blink of an eye, yet our history is ageless.