Sunday, 19 May 2019

You know India’s democracy is broken when millions wait for election results in fear

Rana Ayyub is an Indian journalist and author of “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up."

In 2015, the first full year of Narendra Modi’s administration, a Muslim man named Mohammed Akhlaq and his son Danish were attacked by a mob of Hindu men in Dadri after being accused of storing beef in their refrigerator. Akhlaq died on the spot; Danish, who was preparing for the Indian administrative services, survived the lynching after two brain surgeries.

In an interview published last year, an exasperated Danish asked our leaders: “You want to make India a Hindu country? Would you kill all the Muslims or turn them out of the country? Please tell us to what extent you would go to finish Muslims?”

He added: “I’m very uneasy. I have a feeling that if the BJP comes back then something big will happen. I cannot say what it is. I feel as if something will break in our country and we will not be able to fix it.”

Danish’s fear permeates life for all Muslims in India. In recent years, we have seen an explosion of ethnic and religious mob violence. This year’s election campaign is fanning the flames.

On April 11, the first day of voting, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party sent out a tweet: “We will ensure implementation of NRC [National Register of Citizens] in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs.”

The tweet was a quote from the party president, Amit Shah, who said it at an election rally. The NRC has been one of the most divisive and dangerous policies the BJP has backed in recent years. And the use of the word “infiltrators” was a not-so-veiled reference to Muslims. Soon after, Shah took his invective against Muslims a step further, promising to throw the “termites” in the Bay of Bengal.

The outrage and hate against Muslims are not just spreading like an epidemic on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms; they seep into our daily lives.

My brother, who works for a multinational corporation, was recently forced to vacate his apartment in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Mumbai. The proprietor offered him a rate higher than the market price because his Muslim family was making other tenants uncomfortable. A boycott of his family from all social events and engagements followed. He eventually had to leave his house — in the city where he grew up — simply because of bigotry.

This was not the first time our family felt like outsiders. In 1993, when Mumbai was rocked by anti-Muslim riots led by mentors of Modi in the BJP, we had to leave our apartment overnight to relocate to a Muslim-dominated town.

But the hate and discrimination are now policy. In the last year, I have heard Muslim friends, relatives and acquaintances discussing plans to relocate to friendlier countries or sending their children away to foreign universities if Modi is reelected. Certainly these are options only available to a privileged minority within the the community.

But for most of the 190 million Muslims in India, roughly 14 percent of the population, India remains home. And the choice laid out before them by the political leaders is to accept living as second-class citizens in their own country. A victory for Modi on May 23 will be seen as a mandate to amplify this hate and the “othering” of Indian Muslims in a way that will affect our secular democracy beyond repair.

With each day of this election campaign, Modi’s BJP has moved from dog whistle to brazen anti-Muslim polarization. Last month the party fielded Pragya Thakur, a candidate endorsed by Modi who has been charged in a terrorist attack that killed 10 Muslims and has been investigated in other attacks targeting Muslims.

Unlike other populist movements across the world, the BJP and Modi are being transparent in their messaging and policies against Muslims.

In 2002, I visited the western province of Gujarat as a relief worker in the aftermath of one of the worst riots in the history of the country. Thousands of Muslims were killed. Modi was the chief minister of the province and was criticized for his role in handling the bloodbath. Many of us passed through relief camps, met women who were raped, children who witnessed mobs murder their family members with swords and spears while chanting Hindu-nationalist slogans. When we went home, we felt a surge of relief to be back in our cosmopolitan cities, away from all that division.

But that hate, that anxiety is now all over the country that Modi rules.

In the past five years, Muslims like me, who had placed our faith in this secular democracy, are unable to recognize India. Something fundamental is broken, in the words of Danish, the lynching survivor.

It is not just the excesses of the ruling party and its marginalization of Muslims. It’s that many citizens have found this new language of hate liberating and acceptable. If they allow themselves to be blinded permanently, Indian democracy will cease to exist. And that is reason enough for each one of us to heed Danish’s words. Because if the world’s most populous democracy goes under, ripples will be felt across the world.


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Wali vs Mawlaa.

Allah عزّ وجلّ says in suratul Baqarah ayah [2:257]:

اللّهُ وَلِيّ الّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ الظّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النّورِ
‘Allah is the Wali of those who believe, He brings take them from the darknesses into the light.’

وَالّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُمْ مِنَ النّورِ إِلَى الظّلُمَاتِ
‘and those who disblieve their Awliyaa’ are taghoot, they bring them out of the light to darknesses.’

Wali is a special type of friend, who expresses the will to help to you and support you. A wali is a friend that you turn to for help, protection and support. The wali is the primary in the relationship, they are the dominant party.

Take for example, if a father is the wali to his son, then the father is the primary in the relationship.

Allah عزّ وجلّ says in the beginning of the ayah that He is the Wali for the believers. Those who disbelieve have Taghoot (anything and everything that is worshipped besides Allah) as their Awliyaa (plural of wali).

There are two comparisons taking place in this verse:
  1. The believers and those who disbelieve, and
  2. Allah عزّ وجلّ and taghoot [those worshipped besides Him].
Looking at the verse again, we see that there is a different arrangement for each comparison:
  • When Allah عزّ وجلّ says He is the Wali of the believers, He comes first.
  • But for those who disbelieve, their wali [those who are worshipped along with Allah] is mentioned last (as a sign of humiliation to them).

Why is the arrangment different?

Allah عزّ وجلّ is being ‘compared’ to taghoot [i.e. the disbelievers attempt to take their taghoot as equals to Allah], yet: there is NOTHING like Him, NOTHING can be compared to Him. These taghoot do not deserve to be mentioned in the same place as Allah عزّ وجلّ was mentioned. They do not deserve to be mentioned in even the same sentence. So the Taghoot are placed the furthest away from Allah's Name.

Allah عزّ وجلّ says in Surat Muhammad ayah 11,
ذَ*ٰلِكَ بِأَنّ اللّهَ مَوْلَى الّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَأَنّ الْكَافِرِينَ لَ مَوْلَىٰ لَهُمْ

‘That is because certainly Allah is the Mawlaa of those who believe, and indeed the disbelievers have no Mawlaa.’

Mawlaa is more than a Wali; a Mawlaa is someone who can protect you and actually does so; they are protecting you, while a Wali is someone who is willing to protect you. When it came to Wali, both the believers and disbelievers had one, but when it comes to Mawlaa – someone who CAN protect you – only the believers have One, and the disbelievers have no Mawlaa [Protector].

From a lecture by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan on An-Nasr. Watch the lecture here:

Did the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Seek knowledge even in China” ?

Pic source

There is a famous Hadith where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "Seek Knowledge Even Onto China". There are various discussion fora where this is discussed if it's genuine, weak or fabricated. We won't go into details here but just want to mention other Hadiths that talk about seeking knowledge. Here are some of them:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by God…” - Riyadh us-Saleheen, 245

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "A servant of God will remain standing on the Day of Judgment until he is questioned about his (time on earth) and how he used it; about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth and from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body and how he used it." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 148

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: "Knowledge from which no benefit is derived is like a treasure out of which nothing is spent in the cause of God." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 108

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: "Acquire knowledge and impart it to the people." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 107

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion. - Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 1631

Source: Knowledge

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The meaning of 'Abd

Allah عزّ وجلّ is referred to as Rabb or Master in the Qur'an while we are referred to as 'Abd. A simple definition of 'Abd is slave but it is more complex than that. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمة الله lists 5 conditions in his definition of being an 'Abd of Allah:

1) 'Abd needs to have obedience to Allah عزّ وجلّ. This implies that obedience to Allah عزّ وجلّ trumps obedience to anything else. One cannot obey Allah's creation while also obeying Allah عزّ وجلّ. If you obey the creation, you are disobeying Allah عزّ وجلّ in the process and this is shirk, you are no longer an 'Abd.

2) Love (Hubb). We have to love Allah عزّ وجلّ more than anything else. "Those who believe are intense in their love for Allah" (2:165). We love different things, our family, assets, etc. but for believers all of that comes after love of Allah عزّ وجلّ.

3) Tawakkul: We have to trust and rely on our Master. We have embody this attitude: I've accepted myself as a slave, I've accepted Him as the Master, so whatever instructions He gives me I have to trust that they are better for me. Whatever situation He's putting me through, I have to trust Him, in that no matter how hard obeying Him is in that situation, it is better for me. We have to trust that that's true.

4) Sincerity. When we do something, especially an act of 'Ibadah, we have to do it sincerely for the sake of Allah عزّ وجلّ alone. We can't mix other things with Allah عزّ وجلّ. If we're giving sadaqah to the masjid, we can't think yeah it's a good tax writeoff, AND it's good sadaqah. We can't mix those intentions. This sincerity is talked about in the surah Al-Kauthar as well (fa Sallee li rabbik), and in other places as well (6:162). We serve the deen in many capacities. In the beginning it's for Allah عزّ وجلّ, but soon frustration and discontent kicks in and we start thinking we need to be in charge and our ego kicks in. We don't realize it but over time we begin to do it for appreciation. We have to maintain Ikhlas.

5) Terms of slavery. When we get a job, there's a contract with the company. It spells out what each owes other. It's an understanding. For example between a husband and a wife, or parent and child, or government and citizen. Usually these contracts are a result of compromise, and spells out each other's rights. With Allah عزّ وجلّ, these terms are not a result of discussion and compromise. These come from above, we just take them. We are in no position to define or discuss these terms, we can't define what it means to worship or obey Allah عزّ وجلّ. Those definitions are coming from Allah عزّ وجلّ, and that's what makes us a slave.

During Jahiliyah, the kuffar were making tawaf, making sajdah, etc. but the terms of their worship were not as specified by Allah. They came up with it themselves. But Allah عزّ وجلّ says if you do that it's unacceptable. The only way it's acceptable is if it comes from Allah عزّ وجلّ, and the only way it comes to us is through the Messenger. If you worship Allah عزّ وجلّ the way you want, you're not a slave.

'Uboodiyyah is not just worship but also slavery. Two terms, combined in Arabic. So when the Messenger (pbuh) says laa a'budu ma ta'budoon, it doesn't just mean I will not worship, also I will not be enslaved to. Worship is specific acts, but we are always slaves of Allah whether we are doing those acts or not. This is a powerful concept - we are not supposed to live our lives according to how Allah عزّ وجلّ wants us to only in Jumuah or specific times, we are enslaved to Allah  عزّ وجلّ in between the prayers too. A lot of the time people worship Allah عزّ وجلّ but don't act like His slave. Partial English definitions contribute to this confusion. 'Ibadah includes both, worship and slavery.

From a lecture by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan on Surah Al-Kafirun. Watch the lectures here:

The incredible journey of an African Muslim Slave

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Ustadh Brother Nouman Ali Khan: Relationship between Surah Al-Maa'oon (The Daily Necessaries) and Surah Al-Kauthar (Abundance)

From a talk by Ustadh Brother Nouman Ali Khan

In surah Ma'un, Allah عزّ وجلّ gives us 4 attributes describing the hypocrites. Any of these things is true hypocritical behaviour;
1- Bukhl - greed/miserliness and pushing the orphan away and not encouraging feeding the poor: Because otherwise people will ask him why he doesn't feed the poor himself, so he doesn't encourage it. Extreme state of miserliness because he sees the poor around him but due to greed and fear of losing his respect, he does not encourage feeding them.
2 - Abandonment/Delaying of Prayer/Salah. Sahoon - Sahwa - forget something when it doesn't seem important to them: He delays the prayer near the time of its end and rushingly prays it then, or he doesn't care if he misses it. Be cheap, be heedless and delay or abandon the praye, and third;
3 - Showing off in Prayers (yura'oon) - so people see them.
4 - They are Not even willing to Give the smallest acts of charity. i.e., Zakah etc. Or small items like a water, a bucket, salt, sugar, a pen etc: Ma'un = the item which you're not supposed to refuse, ever. Something like a glass of water. But they even refuse that much.

Allah عزّ وجلّ relates the above 4 attributes in Surah Ma'un to Surah Kawthar by mentioning 4 positive attributes in the surah;
1 - Bukhl/miserliness in that surah, to ayah 1 of Surah Kawthar - Allah عزّ وجلّ has given ALOT (a'ta), so because Allah عزّ وجلّ gives alot, you should also give alot. If you are given alot from Allah, you should also give alot to the needy.
2 - In surah Ma'un - they don't care about the prayer = Sahoon. In this surah; fa sallee [so Pray] - Allah عزّ وجلّ is commanding for His Messenger and the believers to be constant/consistent in prayer.
3 - In surah Ma'un - they; Yura'oon - show off in prayer. In this surah - Pray - Li Rabbika (for your Master) - a matter of Sincerety.
4 - Surah Ma'un - they would not give the smallest amount of charity to anyone. In this surah; Allah عزّ وجلّ orders - waNhar - and sacrifice. Which costs money. Part of the sacrifice involves giving some of the meat in charity. Which removes miserliness and greed.

The comparison beautifies the relation between the lessons of these two surahs.

To learn more about Surah 107 - Al-Ma'un / Al-Maa'oon (The Daily Necessaries), see:

To learn more about Surah 108. Al-Kauthar (Abundance), see: