Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
In today’s edition of the Gulf News, there is an interesting article entitled “An end to Islamophobia” and the attempts by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference [OIC] to address the distorted perceptions of Islam in “the west”. Dr. Ahmad Mustafa [a London-based Arab writer] points out: “…you can never persuade those politicians or media in the West to turn from Islamophobia to Islamophilia, let alone hundreds of millions of ordinary people around the globe intoxicated by the vilification campaign. That does not mean Muslims have to give up and surrender to the fate the West wants for them. It seeks to portray them as the main enemy of modernity and civilisation”.
Just yesterday, I stumbled across some blog sites where the same kind of ignorant blarney is spouted from cyber soap boxes. One thing is sure, since my reversion to Islam, I have personally experienced the painful liberation of my own prejudices against Muslims. Religious belief is not something that is on the periphery of our sense of self. It is smack in the middle of who we are, since it defines our essential human nature and, in this sense, it becomes our point of reference for a theoretical and practical anthropology. It is just plain irresponsible and unintelligent to propagate anti-religious sentiments of any sort. Those who do so should expect an instinctive knee-jerk jab on the jaw. The Holy Qur’an reminds us that we are all the creatures of a benevolent and generous God, and it seems high time that we all remind ourselves of this noble truth: “O mankind! Remember the Grace of Allah upon you! Is there any Creator other than Allah who provides for you from the sky (rain) and the earth? La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). How then are you turning away (from Him)?” (سورة فاطر, Fatir, Chapter 35, Verse 3).
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
IslamOnline reports on 19 March, 2008, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considering the building of the first church on Saudi soil. This follows a visit by King Abdullah to the Vatican in November, 2007. At this moment, the only thing that is certain is that “discussions are under way”. The Papal envoy to the Gulf, Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hashem, points out that “We cannot forecast the outcome”. It is estimated that there are between 3-4 million expat Christians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The need for places of worship is self-evident. Currently, Christians are neither allowed to worship in public nor are they allowed to openly display Christian symbols. Some countries in the Gulf have allowed the building of places of worship for Christians. On 14 March, 2008, the first church in Qatar was inaugurated. Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait already have churches. Naturally, this makes me think about my own Christian past, and it makes me want to share with others how I reposition myself as Muslim in terms of the Christ who is worshipped by Christians as a member of a "three-in-one" God. I do this with sincere sensitivity and only with the desire to be on record for how I reflect on this matter.
Wherever this discussion goes, I am reminded of the hadeeth recorded by Muslim and Bukhari: "Do not eulogise me as the Christians eulogised the son of Mary, I am just His servant, so say, 'God's servant and His messenger'". These are the words of God's Messenger, Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In some parts of the Bible, Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) makes similar claims. Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came as a Messenger to people of Israel. Here are his own words as recorded in the Gospel of John: "My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honour for himself, but he who works for the honour of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him" [John 7:16-18]. Further in the same Gospel, Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) points out: "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me" [John 14:24]. Although there are already clear signs of corruption in the teaching of Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the Gospel of John [for example the Father-Son analogy between Jesus and God], the true message of Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is still found in its pages. Without any doubt or contest, these words of Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) put paid to any claim that he was the "Son" of God or even that he was "god" himself: "...the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does...By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me" [John 5:19, 30]. It is within this context, that we need to proceed with an understanding of Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the economy of God's revelation to humankind.
For example, in the Gospel of John, Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remarked: "I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" [John 20:17]. Furthermore, in the Revelation to the same Apostle John [3:12], Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) again points out: "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God". What is simple and clear from these statements is that Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) HAS a God - the same God that is worshipped by his followers. Of course, this is nothing new to the followers of Jesus who had also received the divine teaching that embodies the entire revelation of God in the Taurat (Torah): "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one" [Deut. 6:4]. Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fully understood the meaning of this shema', and he personally reiterated its meaning and proclaimed its truth. Even the Apostle Paul (a Pharisee-turned-Christian) taught his young protege, Timothy: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" [1 Tim. 2:5]. It can hardly get clearer than this!
When asked by a teacher of the Taurat which of the commandments was the most imporant, Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered: "The most important one...is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one'" [Mark 12:29]. Answering the teacher of the Taurat in this manner demonstrated to all that Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was a Messenger of God, as Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was. 'Ubada narrated an hadeeth: "The Prophet said, 'If anyone testifies that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is Allah's Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few'" (Junada, the sub-narrator said, " 'Ubada added, 'Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.") (Book 55, Hadith 644). Essentially, the kinship between Jesus and Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them) is encapsulated in the following hadeeth: "Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, 'Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one'" (Abu Hiraira - Book 55, Hadith 652).
So, in answer to the question I ask myself at the begining of the posting, the answer is abundantly clear in the Holy Qur'an: "Surely, disbelievers are those who said: "Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity)." But there is no ilah (God) (none who has the right to be worshipped) but one Ilah (God -Allah). And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall the disbelievers among them" (Al-Maeda, 5:73).
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
From the Khaleej Times, here are some articles:
UAE protests to Denmark over cartoon
SMSs call for boycott of Danish products
Cartoon fury in Muslim world
In the Gulf News, the following articles were published:
Denmark must do more to stop attacks on Islam - UAE
FNC condemns offensive cartoons
Afghans protest over cartoons and film
And here is an excellent Islamic response to the debacle, from www.askimam.com
CARTOON OF RASULULLAH [SALLALLAAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM] - HOW SHOULD WE REACT ?
Q: How should we react to the cartoon that has been made of the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]? What is the Sunnah way of acting in this situation?
A: The honour, greatness and love for Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is deeply entrenched in the heart of every Muslim and is the core of Islam. Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and every Prophet of Allah is Ma’soom (sinless). They are sent as guides for mankind and direct the people to the Oneness of Allah and His obedience. The Prophets of Allah possess the highest level of knowledge of Allah. They also possess the highest level of spirituality and sound character. Every Prophet of Allah condemned disrespect and violence. They condemned Kufr (disbelief) and Shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) in a dignified manner. In Islam, we revere every Prophet of Allah and we do not tolerate any disrespect to any Prophet of Allah. If a Muslim shows any disrespect to any Prophet of Allah and hurls disgraceful remarks against him, such a person comes out of the fold of Islam. In fact, according to many Fuqahaa, the apology of such a person will not be accepted. (Rasmul Mufti)There are two angles in the printing and publishing of the cartoons of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], a) The image of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], and b) DisrespectRasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] prohibited making pictures of animate objects. He even stated that the angels of mercy do not enter a house in which there are pictures of animate objects. (Bukhari). One of the reasons for the prohibition of making and taking pictures of animate objects is that it leads to idolatory. The desciples of Nooh (alayhimus salaam)were deeply revered and respected by their followers. After their demise, they made pictures of the desciples and placed them in their places of worship. Gradually over a period of time, the people started worshipping the disciples. Since the background of this was making pictures, and it has a potential of committing Shirk, Islam has prohibited anything that has to do with Shirk directly or indirectly. The Sahaaba [radhiallaahu anhu] should not take or draw pictures. There is no picture of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] or any Sahaabi [radhiallaahu anhu].The second angle of the cartoon of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is the utmost disrespect shown to Rasulullah in the name of ‘freedom of expression’. This has caused great pain and anger to every Muslim around the world. Every Muslim has a right to express his pain and anger. What else should Muslims do? Just feel the pain and keep quiet? This will lead to the enemies of Islam to continue such blasphemy. We cannot allow that. We do take cognisance of the fact that this act is carried out by just one or few individuals to stir up the anger of Muslims for whatever reason. It may not be appropriate for us to give in to the hands of our enemies and conduct ourselves as they want us to, but this issue does not fall in that category. We will have to stand up to such mischief and stop it.Freedom of expression is not absolute. It has overarching principles. If freedom of expression is absolute, then freedom of religion in a democratic dispensation should also be absolute. Why does freedom of religion has overarching principles. Why are Muslims not allowed to fully practise on every aspect of Islam without any restriction whatsoever? The reason is obvious. The rights of others living as equal citizens must be considered. What then about freedom of expression and right of dignity and religious honour?Nevertheless, Muslims living as Muslim minorities around the world should act in a responsible manner and the following is suggested:
1. Consult with Ulama and responsible people before doing anything. Do not do anything by yourself. Shura and consultation is vital in such an issue.
2. Express anger and disgust within the framework of the law of the country. Use the law of the country to its full capacity.
3. Do not be violent in any way and do not burn buildings, cars, etc.
4. Boycott all Danish products and products of anyone else who support Denmark in this issue or even sympathise with Denmark.
5. Do not confine expression of anger to the cartoon issue. Use the opportunity to express the disgust on Islamophobia in general and highlight some pertinent issues.
6. The most important in this is the issue of Da’awah. Use the opportunity to explain to the world the great personality of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. His lifestyle and character should be printed and published all around the world. This will be an eye opener to many ignorant people and a means of guidance. Take out the positive aspects from a negative one and use the situation to our advantage. Every Muslim should say and write something about our beloved Rasul [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam].
7. It is of utmost importance that we engage in lots of du’aa and Dhikr, Fasting and Sadaqaat. Make du’aa that Allah guide the Ummah in this trying times.
8. Do not conduct ourselves with our fellow non-Muslim citizens in a way that offend them and look for an opportunity to get back at us. We will then be the cause of them showing disrespect to Islam and Islamic values. Always express good character and conduct to all.
9. The most important issue in expressing our love and honour for Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is following his Sunnah. Expressing our anger at the disrespect to Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is important but it will be hypocritical if we do not emulate the outward appearance, beard, dressing, etc. and noble character of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. Every one should obtain a kitaab on the Sunnats of Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and implement that in our lives and pass this over to others.
10. Forward this email as wide as possible.and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
Muslim and Al Bukhari transmitted an hadeeth about the profound mercy of God: “When God completed the creation, He wrote down above His Kingdom – my mercy precedes my wrath”. It is the mercy of God, not His wrath that pervades His creation. It is by His mercy that God wants to be called into remembrance, most of all, not by His wrath. God associated with one word all that He had created – mercy! It is the undeserved favour, love and tolerance of God that is written as His signature across the length and breadth of creation.
This mercy of God is not only in His creation – it is also a personal characteristic of God. Ahmad transmitted a beautiful hadeeth that embodies the mercy of God: “O child of Adam, if you mention Me to yourself, I mention you to Myself. And if you mention Me to a group, I mention you to a group of angels or to a group that is better than them. If you approach Me by a hand’s span, I approach you by an arm’s length. If you approach Me by an arm’s length, I approach you by a fathom length. And if you come to Me walking, I come to you running”. God wants us to approach Him for mercy and forgiveness. His willingness to be near us far exceeds our willingness to be near Him. An arm’s length for a hand’s span. A fathom for an arm’s length. When we walk to Him, He runs to us! Alhamdulillah!
The Holy Qur’an proclaims: “He selects for His mercy (Islam and the Qur’an with Prophethood) whom He wills and God is the Owner of great bounty” ( سورة آل عمران , Al-e-Imran, Chapter 3, Verse 74). God is bountiful in mercy and forgiveness. Abu Huraira recorded a hadeeth: “I heard God's Apostle saying, God divided mercy into one-hundred parts and He kept its ninety-nine parts with Him and sent down its one part on the earth, and because of that, its one single part, His creations are Merciful to each other, so that even the mare lifts up its hoofs away from its baby animal, lest it should trample on it”. The mercy of God that we experience on earth is only one hundredth part of His great bounty of mercy, which He reserves for us for the Day of Resurrection.
God is always way ahead of us in the desire for mercy and forgiveness. When we approach God for mercy by a hand’s span, He approaches us by an arm’s length.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The government segregated education, medical care, and other public services with inferior standards for blacks. The black education system within "white South Africa", by design, prepared blacks for lives as a labouring class. There was a deliberate policy in "white South Africa" of making services for black people inferior to those of whites, to try to "encourage" black people to move into the black homelands, hence black people ended up with services inferior to those of whites, and, to a lesser extent, to those of Indians, and 'coloureds'. With this in mind, why are you suprised at the level of primitive, thugish behavior going on in your country? You reap what you sow. I too am in UAE, sick to my stomach with you lot of self exiled South Africans trashing your homeland. Have you no pride? or is sticking your country flag to the back of your car and cheering for the Springboks the extent of your pride?
Thank you, Duane, from wherever. Let me see if I actually understand you correctly…In the article on my blog that you refer to, I mention the tragic death of a 22 year old victim of car-jacking, the death of a 12 year old girl who was killed in the crossfire between security guards and robbers, the serious injury of a 29 year old victim of car-jacking, the professional opinion of an outstanding academic that “South Africa is in big trouble”, and the thug rule of criminals who impersonate police officers. And, in your humble opinion, we self-exiled South African expats in the UAE should stop whining and just offer our children and families to the fires of Moloch? After all, you argue, we are only reaping what we sowed! The essence of our bad, bad attitude, you suggest, is a lack of national pride.
Here’s the picture of you that emerges in my mind. You are the father of the 22 year old student who died tragically as a victim of car-jacking. You are informed of this tragedy by the Police Services. You smile, shrug your soldiers and say: “Ah well, you win some, you lose some. All in the name of my national pride!” You are the father of the 12 year old girl who dies in a spray of bullets by thugs and criminals who rob houses and who don’t hesitate to kill as they ransack the property of others. Your response? “Ja well, I am a proud white South African, and I happily offer my daughter’s innocent life. I am reaping what I sowed. Life for life. I am proud to be South African!”
You seem to miss the fact that I cry for every life that is lost to crime in South Africa, regardless of creed or colour. Are you maybe suggesting that crimes against me are justified merely because I am a white (Afrikaner) victim? Would you still argue for the acquiescent pacifism of national pride if a black citizen is killed or if you were personally the victim of crime?
Please consider the following…
9 years ago, on Thursday, 27 May, 1999, the BBC ran an article entitled “South Africa’s crime crisis”. The writer, Jane Standley, remarked: “I talk to black and white South Africans and they are all afraid of guns, of crime. They are all afraid of the violence which all too often accompanies even a straightforward burglary or mugging” [underlining mine]. The ideas I write about on my blog that elicited your response represent the reflections of a white, Afrikaner male who is also one of the “all” in the above comment.
But, you seem too irritable with white (Afrikaner) expats in the UAE, so I shall let the mouth of another speak for me: “To live with the statistics is not easy. A serious crime is committed every 17 seconds in South Africa and Johannesburg is the epicentre of the crisis. The reality behind the statistics means that I live behind a high brick wall, topped with an electric fence. I cannot see the street outside: I cannot see the horizon. My house is alarmed day and night: so is my garage. I pull in and out of it fast: most armed carjackings take place in people's own driveways” [underlining mine].
You are too eager to assume that I am yet another example of a disillusioned white Afrikaner who has fled the land of my birth in protest against a post-apartheid society. I acknowledge the fact that there are many such examples in the UAE, but I suspect that your own racial prejudice against white Afrikaners is the source of your comments about my views. I shall let Jane Standley continue my case for me: “For a people so traumatised, the fact that there has been so little revenge since the first all-race elections five years ago, is nothing short of miraculous. But nothing can excuse the unnecessary loss of life every day in this country through violent crime. It adds new traumas onto the old - for black people as well as whites are the victims” [underlining mine]. Yes, Duane, it is not only white South Africans that are the victims of the crimes that I wrote about. We are all held at ransom by criminal mobs that destroy the beautiful land of our birth. Please notice that the BBC article was written 9 years ago!
CNN Interactive Writer, Beat Witschi wrote in 1998 of South Africa: “South Africa can be a very dangerous place, both for natives and visitors alike. That is the perception -- and perception, as many politicians can attest to, is almost as important as reality. Media coverage of crime is intense in South Africa, reflecting growing public concern that crime is rampant and that the government is not doing enough to curb it” [underlining mine]. The writer reports the case of Rob Kaplan which I remember very well: “Then there are the particularly gruesome and headline-grabbing crime cases, such as that of Rob Kaplan. He nearly died last year after an armed robbery at his Johannesburg home. He received more than a dozen puncture wounds, some 30 blows to the head and was tortured with a burning clothes iron. Miraculously, he survived and his case became the country's best-publicized crime of brutality. He didn't flee, and is trying to fight back. "Why should I leave this country that I love so much?" he said last year. So he launched his own anti-crime group”.
STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA’S “VICTIMS OF CRIME SURVEY” IN 1997
The survey conducted by Statistics South Africa was a “countrywide, household-based survey, it examines crime from the point of view of the victim” [i]. The survey points out that: “South African studies show similar trends to those in other developing countries. For example, property crime is the most frequently-occurring type of crime in South African cities. This is followed by violent crimes against individuals, such as robbery and assault” [underlining mine]. The article on my blog is not a pseudo-intellectual exercise in impotent Afrikaner nationalism (which I despise, for the record!), but the perspective and heartfelt agony of a victim of crime in South Africa. Here are some statistics from this survey that you need to know about:
§ Forty-four per cent of all households in South Africa claimed to have experienced at least one crime during the five-year period 1993-1997.
§ Approximately 29% of individuals in South Africa aged 16 years or more indicated that they had experienced at least one crime during the five-year period 1993-1997.
THE INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES - THE SECOND NATIONAL VICTIMS OF CRIME SURVEY IN SOUTH AFRICA
“The survey was designed to ensure comparability with the 1998 national Victims of Crime survey conducted by Statistics South Africa for the Department of Safety and Security and the United Nations International Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). It was conducted between September and October 2003. Information on public perceptions about crime and safety; crime levels in South Africa; and overview of selected crime types available”. http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~wcjlen/WCJ/stats/safrica.html
You can see for yourself that in some cases there have been a welcome improvement in reported crime statistics for 2001/2002-2005/2006, and all South Africans are grateful for this! But, the overall picture remains decidely grim and ominous! http://www.issafrica.org/cjm/stats0906/_pdf/category/rsa_total.pdf
UNITED NATIONS – 7th SURVEY OF CRIME TRENDS AND OPERATIONS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS
The 7th United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1998 - 2000 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Centre for International Crime Prevention) compared South African crimes statistics with other countries and it reports that, compared to 65 other countries, South Africa had the highest incidence of rapes per capita. Out of 32 countries, South Africa also headed the list for murders with firearms, per capita. In terms of total crimes, South Africa was 5th out of 60 countries, and in terms of total crimes per capita, South Africa was 10th. I would dare to say that these statistics are sufficient grounds for my tears and my weeping. But, just in case this becomes a futile numbers-quoting game, let me conclude with the real and agonising stories of those for whom I weep.
I conclude with a list of examples of victims of crime, reported in the Sowetan on 28 February, 2008. This newspaper reflects the views of a predominantly black readership. The reason why I choose this article as my conclusion, is that its title “Read and weep” echoes the “Cry my beloved country” on my blog. You can read for yourself what proud and nationalist South Africans like me are crying about: http://www.sowetan.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=716561
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
In today's Khaleej Times, on the front page, there is an article titled: "Pope to host Muslims in Nov". This forum will take place from 4-6 November, 2008, and will centre on the theme "love God, love your neighbour". The article points out that: "The pope will also meet the participants, who will debate the theological and spiritual foundations of the chosen theme, as well as 'human dignity and mutual respect'". This initiative is part of an organised effort on the part of Muslims to engage with Christians and other religionists in a sincere dialogue that aims at creating a better understanding and appreciation of each other.
Let us be certain, however, that in dialogues such as these, we Muslims do not engage with a sense of uncertainty of the Islamic testimony that we bear. Goodwill and sincere dialogue do not require us to compromise the eternal truth of Islamic monotheism. The Holy Qur’an points out: “Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur’an), then you would have against Allah neither any Walee (protector or guardian) nor any helper” ( سورة البقرة , Al-Baqara, Chapter 2, Verse 120).
Islam is the fulfilment of the revelation that was given by God to all His messengers (peace be upon them!) before Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!). God warned the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him!) that if he were to compromise with Jews and Christians, after he had received the revelation of the Qur’an, then he would have not protector or helper against God Himself. The Muslim believes, simply: “Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam” (سورة آل عمران , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter 3, Verse 19).
Here is the Islamic perspective in a nutshell, I think: “We should have invented a lie against Allah if we returned to your religion, after Allah has rescued us from it. And it is not for us to return to it unless Allah, our Lord, should will. Our Lord comprehends all things in His Knowledge. In Allah (Alone) we put our trust. Our Lord! Judge between us and our people in truth, for You are the Best of those who give judgment” (سورة الأعراف , Al-Araf, Chapter 7, Verse 89).