Monday 30 August 2010

Children of the Flood

Children line up for food in a camp set up for displaced people in Nowshera. —AP Photo

Sunday 29 August 2010

Hadith of the Day:Dua

Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA) Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him)said,"Whoever says, Subhan Allahi wa bihamdihi, one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea." [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 8 Hadith No.414]

Eating less meat is more Islamic

The Qu'ran reminds us animals and birds are 'communities like you'. So why do so many Muslims break their fast with meat?

For most of the billion-plus Muslims who sit down each evening to break their Ramadan fast, meat will be on the menu. Lots of it. But how Islamic is eating meat?

Not very, according to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, who argues that historically Muslims ate so little meat they were almost vegetarian. "Meat is not a necessity in sharia, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat – if they were wealthy, like middle class – once a week on Friday. If they were poor – on the Eids."

In today's world, meat-eating has taken on a new fervour, with many Muslims demanding animal flesh as part of their daily diet. Just the other day, an Egyptian journalist was relating to me how he attended a dinner at a local organisation here in Cairo. When people arrived, questions began to fly across the hall: "Where is the meat? We aren't going to have enough for everyone."

According to a recent study by the Egyptian cabinet's Information and Decision Support Centre, 89% of Egyptians eat more than 2kg of meat monthly. This figure rises along with social class. The study revealed that wealthy Egyptians often consume more than 8kg of meat each month.

The prophet Muhammad was not an advocate of daily meat-eating. Instead, the Islamic Concern website says, he warned his followers against constant meat consumption as it could become "addictive". It seems that 1,500 years later his concerns are not being heeded.

Early Islamic leaders and scholars repeatedly emphasised that animals were to be cherished and treated in a humane manner, but many Muslims nowadays view animals as the dominion of people. A sheikh at the Egyptian ministry of religious endowments told me: "Animals are slaves for human purposes. They were put here for us to eat, so talk of vegetarianism is un-Islamic."

This statement by the ministry official goes against everything the prophet stood for, in the opinion of Gamal al-Banna, a prominent Islamic scholar who has come under attack in recent years for his "liberal" stance. Al-Banna told me that being a vegetarian and Muslim does not break any tradition and is in no way un-Islamic.

"When someone becomes vegetarian they do so for a number of reasons: compassion, environment and health reasons," he began. "As a Muslim, I believe that the prophet would want the followers to be healthy, compassionate and not destroy our environment. If someone believes not eating meat is that way, it is not like they are going to go to hell for it. It may be the right thing to do."

Al-Banna continued, when I asked him about the Eid al-Adha sacrifice (which many argue is obligatory), that any Muslim who believes in being vegetarian does not have to slaughter a sheep. "In today's modern world, ideas and religion change and Islam is no different. We must not remain rigid in our understanding of faith to mean the blind acceptance of anything, killing living beings included. There is no obligation to kill."

Others disagree, arguing that meat-eating is part of the Islamic tradition and, thus, vegetarianism is a foreign notion for the Middle East. Muslims who eat meat at every iftar (fast-breaking evening meal) this month undoubtedly believe they are doing the right thing. On the other hand, the idea that animals are merely slaves to humans is not only abhorrent to animal-rights advocates, but seems to be at odds with the prophet's teaching.

Some would argue that the prayer said before halal slaughtering is part of Islam's humanity when animals are killed for food. This may have been true historically, but in today's "halal" slaughterhouses, a pre-recorded prayer often blares nonstop as the animals are lined up and killed. That is a cop-out from what Islam teaches about "humane" slaughter.

Ultimately, the argument is simple. The Qur'an reveals that all living animals are sentient beings, just as human beings are.

"There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings – but they are communities like you." (Qur'an, 6:38)


Dont Be Sad: Be content with that which Allah has given you and you will be the richest of people

Wealth, appearance, children, house, and talents — you must be content with your share in these things:

{So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.}

(Qur’an 7:144)

Most Islamic scholars and pious Muslims of the early generations of Islam were poor; needless it is to say, then, that they did not have beautiful houses or nice cars. Yet, despite these disadvantages, they led fruitful lives, and they benefited mankind, not by some miracle, but because they used all that they were given, and spent their time in the correct way. Hence they were blessed in their lives, their time, and their talents.

On the contrary, there are many people who have been bestowed with wealth, children, and all forms of blessings, yet these blessings have been the very reason for their misery and ruin. They deviated from what their inborn instincts were telling them, namely, that material things are not everything. Look at those that have obtained degrees from world-renowned universities, and yet they are paragons of obscurity. Their talents and abilities remain unused. Meanwhile, others who are limited in the scope of their knowledge have managed to make mountains out of what they have been given, benefiting both themselves and society.

If you are a seeker of happiness, be satisfied with the looks Allah has favored you with, with your family situation, with the sound of your voice, with the level of your understanding, and with the amount of your salary. Certain educators go further than this by saying that you should imagine being contented with even less than you actually have now.

Here for you is a list of those who have shone from our Islamic heritage despite each being challenged by various disadvantages:

‘Ataa ibn Rabah was a world-renowned scholar of his time. He was not only a freed slave and snub-nosed, but he was also paralyzed.

Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays was famous among the Arabs for his singular level of patience. He achieved that fame despite being emaciated, humpbacked, with crooked legs and a fragile frame.

Al-A’mash was among the most famous scholars of hadith in his time. He was a freed slave, he had bad eyesight, and he was poor. His clothes were ripped, his appearance was disheveled, and he lived in straitened circumstances.

In fact, every Prophet was at one time or another a shepherd. Dawood (David) was a blacksmith, Zakariah (Zacharia) a carpenter, and Idrees (Enoch) a tailor; and yet they were the best of mankind.

Therefore your value is in your abilities, good deeds, manners, and contributions to society. Do not feel grief, then, over that which has passed you by in life in terms of good looks, wealth, or family; and be content with what Allah has allotted for you.

{It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this World.} (Qur’an 43. 32)

Remind yourself of Paradise, which is as wide as are the Heavens and the Earth.

If you are hungry in this world, if you are sad, ill or oppressed, remember the eternal bliss of Paradise. If you do this, then your losses are really profits and the hardships you face are really gifts. The most wise of people are those that work for the Hereafter, because it is better and everlasting. And the most foolish of mankind are those that see this world as their eternal abode — in it reside all of their hopes. You will find such people to be the most grief-stricken of all when faced with calamity. They will be the most affected by worldly loss simply because they see nothing beyond the insignificant lives that they lead. They see and think only of this impermanent life. They wish for nothing to spoil them in their state of felicity. Were they to remove the veil of ignorance from their eyes, they would commune with themselves about the eternal abode — its bliss, pleasures, and castles. They would listen attentively when they are informed through the Qur’an and the Sunnah about its description. Indeed, that is the abode that deserves our attention and merits our striving and our toiling, so that we may achieve the best of it.

Have we reflected at length about the description of the inhabitants of Paradise? Illness does not befall them, grief does not come near them, they die not, they remain young, and their attire remains both perfect and clean. They are in a beautiful home. In Paradise is found that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has imagined. The rider travels under a tree in Paradise for one hundred years and yet he still does not reach its end. The length of a tent in Paradise is sixty miles. Its rivers are constant, its castles are lofty, and its fruits are not only close-by, but are also easily picked.

{Therein will be a running spring. Therein will be thrones raised high, and cups set at hand, and cushions set in rows, and rich carpets [all] spread out.} (Qur’an 88: 12-16)

The happiness of Paradise will be absolute. So why do we not contemplate this fact?

If Paradise is our final destination — and we ask Allah for Paradise — then the hardships of this world are less heavy than they may seem, so let the hearts of the afflicted ones find solace.

O’ you who live in poverty, or are afflicted with calamity, work righteous deeds so that you shall live in Allah’s Paradise.

{Peace be upon you, because you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!} (Qur’an 13: 24)

Source: Don't Be Sad - By Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

Saudi employers Ramadan gift to Sri Lankan maid: 13 nails and 5 needles

Doctors extract nails stuck into Sri Lankan maid

Thirteen nails and five needles removed from woman who says they were hammered into her by Saudi employers

Doctors have removed 13 nails and five needles from a Sri Lankan maid who said her employers in Saudi Arabia had hammered them into her.

LG Ariyawathi, who returned home from Saudi Arabia on Saturday and was hospitalised in severe pain, said the family she worked for had punished her by heating the nails and needles and sticking them into her.

X-rays showed she had 24 nails and needles in her body, said Dr Keerthi Satharasinghe, of Kamburupitiya hospital. The nails ranged in length from 2.5 to 5cm (one to two inches), and the needles were about 2.5cm. They were removed from Ariyawathi's legs and forehead.

"The surgery is successful and she is recovering now," Satharasinghe said after a three-hour procedure. He said six more needles in her hands could not be removed because the operation might damage her nerves and arteries, but they would not be harmful to her.

Ariyawathi, 49, has described the abuse meted out by her employers. "They did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body," she was quoted as saying by the Lakbima newspaper.

She said she went to Saudi Arabia in March and was paid only two months' salary, with her employer withholding the rest to buy an air ticket to send her home.

About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, many as maids or drivers, to earn more than they can in their own country. Nearly 400,000 work in Saudi Arabia.

Sri Lanka's foreign employment bureau said Ariyawathi had been too afraid to complain to Saudi authorities, fearing that her employers might not let her return home. The deputy minister of economic development, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, said the government would report the matter to the Saudi government and provide her with compensation.

Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment. Nimal Ranawaka, at the Sri Lankan embassy in Riyadh, said the embassy had requested a meeting with Saudi officials. "We informed Saudi authorities. They have to take action against the employer," Ranawaka said.


Saturday 28 August 2010

Islamophobia in USA in Photos

View all the photos here.

Mark Steel: If anyone is fanatic it's Sarah Palin

How far away is it permissible to be a Muslim? Maybe there should be special guidelines - for example, three blocks before you can whistle anything by Cat Stevens

To give yourself a stressful and futile day, try telling people there are no plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero. You'll get nowhere, although the truth is there are plans to build an Islamic centre, with a swimming pool open to everyone, two blocks away from Ground Zero. So if this is a continuation of the terrorist agenda as claimed, it's been a peculiar plan, and Bin Laden must have started by telling his followers "First we will destroy their buildings – and then, oo it's so deliciously evil, we will get people to swim near to where the buildings were... mwaHAHAHAHAHA."

The centre will include a memorial to victims of the attack on the towers, but even so Sarah Palin has called upon "peaceful Muslims" to reject the building. So, as she's asking Muslims to oppose a centre open to everyone, and that commemorates the victims of 9/11, it seems likely she's a militant Jihadist who thinks the building will be a betrayal of true radical Islam. She's certainly got experience of being filmed with rifles so she's probably sat by one while making a video up a mountain right now, leaning into the camera and booming "The front crawl is the agenda of the infidel, my friends."

The centre will also include a basketball court, but that doesn't convince these people because it won't be proper basketball, it will be Muslim basketball, and there's bound to have been some senator on Fox News howling "We've got to ask ourselves why these guys want to learn an American sport like this. Now, you imagine you've got the tallest Muslims learning to jump up high, next time you want to bring down a tower you don't have to fly planes to do it, you just get these guys to jump up with whatever bomb they've smuggled in through Mexico and whack, you've got five million dead."

And it's two blocks away, which in Manhattan is another district. So how far away is it permissible to be Muslim? Maybe there needs to be specific guidelines, for example three blocks before you can whistle anything by Cat Stevens, five blocks away before you can stop eating during Ramadan and so on, so as not to offend the families of the victims.

One persistent argument of those who oppose the mosque that isn't a mosque on Ground Zero that won't be on Ground Zero is that Ground Zero should remain a special place of sombre tranquillity.

So instead of this centre there should be more buildings such as The Pussycat Club, which is next door to where the towers were, and boasts of being the area's premier strip joint. But that must be in keeping with the sombreness, presumably because the girls start their slide down the pole in a fireman's uniform in honour of the heroic firefighters of that fateful day.

Then there are the salesmen who hover round Ground Zero. As you contemplate the poignancy of the site, someone from this franchise stands soulfully by you, taps your shoulder and opens a leather-bound collection of photos of the Twin Towers on fire.

"Hi, I'm offering souvenirs of 9/11," I was told when I was there. What are you supposed to say to that? Are you meant to go "Oo yes, you've caught the contrast between the fire and the clouds on that one, what a delightful shade of crimson?" So wait until Fox News and the Tea Party hear about that level of dishonouring the victims. Oo they'll be cross.

A philosophical argument against the new building came from Mark Williams, chairman and spokesman for the Tea Party, who said "The mosque would be for the worship of the terrorists' monkey god." To start with he appears to have mixed up Islam with Hinduism, so it may be when he finds that out he'll change his mind, and say "Oh it's Hindus with the monkey god. Silly me, well in that case go ahead with the mosque, it's Hindus I have a problem with, it's all to do with being squeamish about monkeys."

Similarly, Newt Gingrich, who hopes to be Republican candidate for President, said "The folks who want to build this mosque are radical Islamists."

And this is where they're more honest, because they seem to believe all Muslims are terrorists. In which case they don't really care where a mosque or Islamic centre is built, just as if the Continuity IRA applied for planning permission to build an explosives-testing plant, you wouldn't say "Well alright but not if it's less than half a mile from Canterbury Cathedral as that would be insensitive."

So there have been protests across America against mosques, in places such as Tennessee and Wisconsin. Presumably the argument there is "Imagine if someone who was in the Twin Towers on 9/11 was still so traumatised that they sleepwalked, and by chance one night they dreamily ambled into Grand Central station and got a train to Wisconsin and got out and wandered through the state and woke up just as they were by the new mosque, well it could be quite a shock."

More likely is there's a section of America that hates Muslims, and those like Palin and Gingrich are delighted to lead them. According to the latest survey, 24 per cent of America believes that Barack Obama is Muslim, and the Tea Party politicians promote that nonsense.

Obama seems willing to try and placate characters such as Palin, but he might be better off saying "Alright then – nothing Islamic near Ground Zero, but that principle applies to everything. So every Catholic Church within two blocks of a school is being shut down, as it would be grossly insensitive to allow an institution with such a record of child abuse to worship near its victims.

"We're withdrawing every branch of Macdonalds and Starbucks from Vietnam, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama or anywhere else we've ever bombed, and we're telling Wall Street that it has to move to New Jersey, as the Twin Towers were called the World Trade Center and the bankers were the ones that stopped the global economy in it's tracks."


Friday 27 August 2010

Islamophobia USA: Man Mistaken for Muslim Harassed at NY Anti-Mosque Rally

An African-American man who was mistakenly thought to be Muslim was harassed at an anti-mosque rally yesterday in New York City. A crowd shouting "no mosque here" confronted the man and called him a "coward." The man is led away by rally organizers while one man shouts "Muhammad is a p*g." One person shouted "he must have voted for Obama." When some rally participants seek to defuse the confrontation, one man says, "we're against the Muslims, not each other."

Allah says:

"(Since) good and evil cannot be equal, repel (the evil deed) with one that is better. Then you will see that he with whom you had enmity, will become your close friend."

The Holy Quran, 41:34

Timothy Winter: Britain's most influential Muslim - and it was all down to a peach

It was the sight of peach juice dripping from the chin of a teenage French female nudist that led a Cambridgeshire public schoolboy to convert to Islam. Thirty-five years later, Timothy Winter – or Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, as he is known to his colleagues – has been named one of the world's most influential Muslims.

The hitherto unnoticed Mr Winter, who has an office in Cambridge University's Divinity Faculty, where he is the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer of Islamic Studies, has been listed ahead of the presidents of Iran and Egypt, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Mahmoud Abbas. "Strange bedfellows," he concedes.

Tall, bookish, fair-skinned and flaxen-haired, a wiry beard is his only obvious stylistic concession to the Islamic faith.

To the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), which is based at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Winter is "one of the most well-respected Western theologians" and "his accomplishments place him amongst the most significant Muslims in the world". Winter is also the secretary of the Muslim Academic Trust, director of The Anglo-Muslim Fellowship for Eastern Europe, and director of the Sunna Project, which has published the most respected versions of the major Sunni Hadith collections, the most important texts in Islam after the Qur'an.

He has also written extensively on the origins of suicidal terrorism.

According to the RISSC, the list highlights "leaders and change-agents who have shaped social development and global movements". Winter is included because "[his] work impacts all fields of work and particularly, the religious endeavors of the Muslim world".

In the 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010, Mr Winter is below the King of Saudi Arabia – who comes in at number one – but ahead of many more chronicled figures. He is ranked in an unspecified position between 51st and 60th, considerably higher than the three other British people who make the list – the Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi; the UK's first Muslim life peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, who was briefly jailed last year for dangerous driving; and Dr Anas Al Shaikh Ali, director of the

International Institute of Islamic Thought – making him, at least in the eyes of the RISSC, Britain's most influential Muslim.

"I think that's very unlikely," says Winter, seated in front of his crowded bookshelves. "I'm an academic

observer who descends occcasionally from my ivory tower and visits the real world. If you stop most people in the street they've never heard of me. In terms of saying anything that makes any kind of sense to the average British Muslim I think they have no need of my ideas at all."

The son of an architect and an artist, he attended the elite Westminster School in the 1970s before graduating from Cambridge with a double first in Arabic in 1983. His younger brother is the football correspondent Henry Winter. Tim says: "I was always the clever, successful one. Henry just wanted to play football with his mates. I used to tell him, ‘I'm going to make loads of money, and you'll still be playing football with your mates.' Now he's living in a house with 10 bedrooms and married to a Bond girl." (Brother Henry insists on the telephone later: "She was only in the opening credits. And it's not as many as 10.")

If this seems an improbable background for a leading Muslim academic, his Damascene moment on a Corsican beach is unlikelier still.

"In my teens I was sent off by my parents to a cottage in Corsica on an exchange with a very vigorous French Jewish family with four daughters," Winter recalls. "They turned out to be enthusiastic nudists.

"I remember being on the beach and seeing conjured up before my adolescent eyes every 15-year-old boy's most fervent fantasy. There was a moment when I saw peach juice running off the chin of one of these bathing beauties and I had a moment of realisation: the world is not just the consequence of material forces. Beauty is not something that can be explained away just as an aspect of brain function."

It had quite an effect on him: "That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. It was an unpromising beginning, you might say.

"In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist."

After graduating, Winter studied at the University of al-Azhar in Egypt and worked in Jeddahat before returned to England in the late eighties to study Turkish and Persian. He says he has no difficulty reconciling the world he grew up in with the one he now inhabits. "Despite all the stereotypes of Islam being the paradigmatic opposite to life in the west, the feeling of conversion is not that one has migrated but that one has come home.

"I feel that I more authentically inhabit my old identity now that I operate within Islamic boundaries than I did when I was part of a teenage generation growing up in the 70s who were told there shouldn't be any boundaries."

The challenge, he feels, is much harder now for young Muslims trying to integrate with British life.

"Your average British Asian Muslim on the streets of Bradford or Small Heath in Birmingham is told he has to integrate more fully with the society around him. The society he tends to see around him is extreme spectacles of binge drinking on Saturday nights, scratchcards, and other forms of addiction apparently rampant, credit card debt crushing lives, collapsing relationships and mushrooming proportions of single lives, a drug epidemic. It doesn't look very nice.

"That is why one of the largest issues over the next 50 years is whether these new Muslim communities can be mobilised to deal with those issues. Islam is tailor-made precisely for all those social prolems. It is the ultimate cold turkey. You don't drink at all. You don't sleep around. You don't do scratchcards. Or whether a kind of increasing polarisation, whereby Muslims look at the degenerating society around them and decide ‘You can keep it'."

It is not this, though, that contributes to some young Muslim British men's radicalism, he says, since their numbers are often made up of "the more integrated sections".

"The principle reason, which Whitehall cannot admit, is that people are incensed by foreign policy. Iraq is a smoking ruin in the Iranian orbit. Those who are from a Muslim background are disgusted by the hypocrisy. It was never about WMD. It was about oil, about Israel and evangelical christianity in the White House. That makes people incandescent with anger. What is required first of all is an act of public contrition. Tony Blair must go down on his knees and admit he has been responsible for almost unimaginable human suffering and despair."

He adds: "The West must realise it must stop being the world's police. Why is there no Islamic represenation on the UN Security Council? Why does the so-called Quartet [on the Middle East] not have a Muslim representative? The American GI in his goggles driving his landrover through Kabul pointing his gun at everything that moves, that is the image that enrages people."

Is there a similar antagonistic symbolism in the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero?

"If the mosque represented an invading power they would have every right. Muslims in America are there as legitimate citizens with their green cards, with jobs, trying to get by. They are there in humble mode.

"Would you oppose the construction of Shinto Shrines at Pearl Harbour, of which there a number? How long must the Muslims of lower Manhattan have to wait to get a place to pray five times a day? With Islam there are certain liturgical requirements. It's not like a church that you can build on the top of a hill and say, we've only got to go once a week and it looks nice up there. Muslims need to pray five times a day, they can't get the subway out and back. It should be seen as a symbol of reconciliation not antagonism."

Last year Winter helped set up the Cambridge Muslim College, which offers trained imams a one year diploma in Islamic studies and leadership, designed to help trained imams to better implement their knowledge and training in 21st-century Britain. This year's first graduating class have recently returned from a trip to Rome where they had an open audience with the Pope.

In an increasingly secular Britain, sociologists suggest with regularity that "football is the new religion". Winter understands the comparison. "Football has everything that is important to religion," he says. "Solidarity, skill, ritual, the outward form of what looks like a sacred congregation. Except it's not about anything." Just don't tell his brother.

Converts to Islam

Muhammad Ali

Cassius Clay, widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers, shocked America when he revealed in 1964 that he had converted to the Nation of Islam (becoming a Sunni 11 years later) to discard the name of his ancestors' enslavement.

Yusuf Islam

Born Steven Demetre Georgiou in London, the singer, best known as Cat Stevens, converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977. Two years later he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes.

Yvonne Ridley

The British journalist was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September 2001 having crossed the border anonymously in a burqa. After her release 11 days later, she explained that she had promised one of her captors that she would read the Koran and it changed her life. She converted to Islam in the summer of 2003.

Alexander Litvinenko

The ex-Russian agent, who fled to London, fell ill in November 2006 after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. Two days before his death on 23 November he told his father he had converted to Islam.


Saturday 21 August 2010

Dont Be Sad: Do not be crushed by what is insignifIcant

Many are those that are distressed not by pressing matters of great import, but by minor trifles.

Observe the Hypocrites and how weak they are in their resolution. The Qur’an relates to us some of their sayings:

{Those who stayed away [from Tabuk expedition] rejoiced in their staying behind the Messenger of Allah; they hated to strive and fight with their properties and their lives in the Cause of Allah, and they said: March not forth in the heat’.} (Qur’an 9: 81)

{‘Grant me leave [to be exempted from Jihad] and put me not into trial.} (Qur’an 9: 49)

{And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet [Muhammad] saying: ‘Truly, our homes lie open [to the enemy]’. And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.} (Qur’an 33: 13)

{‘We fear lest some misfortune of a disaster may befall us.’}

(Qur’an 5: 52)

{And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: ‘Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusions!’} (Qur’an 33: 12)

How wretched are the souls of such people!

Their principal concerns are for their stomachs, cars, houses, and castles. They never once raise their eyes to a life of ideals and virtues; the extent of their knowledge is their cars, clothes, shoes, and food.

Some people are distressed day and night, because of a disagreement with their spouse, son, or relative, or because they have had to forbear criticism, or because of some other trivial event. Such are the calamities of these people. They have no aspiration to higher principles or goals to keep them busy, and they have no noble ambition in their lives to an end for which they can strive day and night. It has been said, ‘When water leaves a container, it is then filled with air’. Therefore reflect on that which gives you cause for concern or anxiety, and ask yourself this: does it merit your energies and toils? This is an indispensable question, because whatever it is that causes your anxiety, you are, with mind, flesh, and blood, giving it energy and time. And if it does not merit your energy and time, you will have squandered a great deal of your most precious resources. Psychologists say that you should judge everything in proportion to its true value and then put it in its proper place. More truthful than this is the saying of Allah:

{Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.} (Qur’an 65: 3)

So give to each situation according to its size, weight, measure, and importance. And stay away from immoderation or from exceeding the proper bounds.

Take from the example of the Prophet’s Companions, whose sole concern was to give their pledge of allegiance under the tree and thus obtain the pleasure of Allah. With them was a man whose concern was focused on a missing camel, a preoccupation that caused him to miss the pledge of allegiance — and consequently, he was deprived of the rewards that were reaped by the others.

Therefore do not be preoccupied with matters that are insignificant. If you follow this advice, you will find that most of your worries will have left you.

Source: Don't Be Sad - By Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

Friday 20 August 2010

Pakistan Floods

  • Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who alleviates the suffering of a brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allah would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Resurrection, and he who finds relief for one who is hard pressed, Allah would make things easy for him in the Hereafter, and he who conceals (the faults) of a Muslim, Allah would conceal his faults in the world and in the Hereafter. Allah is at the back of a servant so long as the servant is at the back of his brother.
Sahih Muslim :: Book 35 : Hadith 6518

Thursday 19 August 2010

Ramadan is not an excuse for gluttony

An estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are marking the start of one of the most important months in the religious calendar, Ramadan. We believe that it was during Ramadan that the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. So, for the next 30 days Muslims will abstain from water and food from sunrise to sunset. The sound of rumbling tummies will echo from Milton Keynes to Mecca.

Fasting is a humbling but rewarding experience. It's also exhausting and testing, a necessary reminder of the struggle that the majority of the world's population face every day to find food and water to nourish themselves and their families.

As I write this it's nearly 4am. I've prayed and finished eating suhoor, which is the Arabic word for the meal that Muslims eat early in the morning before beginning their day of fasting. This morning my husband and I munched on hummus with warm pitta bread, yoghurt and a handful of blueberries, and drank tea and water. Our cats seem to have got into the spirit of Ramadan. One of them ta

pped me on the leg as I made my blurry-eyed way to the kitchen to tell me she wanted an early breakfast too.

As we sat down to suhoor we were reminded that in much of the Muslim world people would be starting the fast with much less than us, including the almost 14 million people whose lives have been devastated by the floods in Pakistan. It's a sobering thought.

In stark contrast, there are some parts of the Muslim world where Ramadan has become an excuse to gorge on lavish, artery-choking foods and party like its 1431 (which it is, according to the Islamic lunar calendar).

Around the Arabian Gulf, hotels are decked out to look like halal hip-hop videos, with more bling than you could shake an abaya at. The filthy rich hire out hotels and garden tents to throw gluttonous parties after sunset as Indonesian and Filipino maids sit in the corner bouncing their employees' babies on their laps.

When I worked for a well-known Arab news network in the Gulf, staff were treated to the most spectacular iftar (the evening meal that breaks the daily fast during the month of Ramadan). Forget about the standard British egg-and-cress or mayonnaise-drenched prawn triangle sarnies with a sprinkling of kettle crisps provided for awaydays and meetings. These gut-busting affairs resembled wedding banquets, with five different starters, main courses and at least three desserts. The whole experience left me feeling spiritually starved and unclean.

On one occasion, while working a night shift, I stumbled across a waitress emptying trays of iftar food into a black bin liner. I asked her what she was doing. She said it was leftover food and she had been instructed to throw it out. In that moment, all the excitement and joy that I had felt in my heart for Ramadan that year drained away. I encountered the same thing when I spent Ramadan in Mecca two years ago. At suhoor time guests in the hotel would carry mountains of lasagne and fried foods to shovel down their throats before making their way to pray at Islam's holiest site.

My brother has just called to tell me that my six-year-old niece Iman – her name means faith – woke her parents up excitedly at 2.30am to tell mum and dad it was time for suhoor. She joined them for a yoghurt in solidarity and then skipped off to bed. That kind of beauty and simplicity is what Ramadan is really about – getting back to basics.


Wednesday 18 August 2010

Palestinians refused entry to Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadhan

Dont Be Sad: Do not carry the weight of the globe on your shoulders

In a certain class of people there rages an internal war, one that doesn’t take place on the battlefield, but in one’s bedroom, one’s office, one’s own home. It is a war that results in ulcers or an increase in blood pressure. Everything frustrates these people: they become angry at inflation, furious because the rains came late, and exasperated when the value of their currency falls. They are forever perturbed and vexed, no matter what the reason.

{They think that every cry is against them.} (Qur’an 63: 4)

My advice to you is this: do not carry the weight of the globe on your shoulders. Let the ground carry the burden of those things that happen. Some people have a heart that is like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of fallacies and misconceptions. It is troubled by the most insignificant of matters; it is the kind of heart that is sure to destroy its possessor.

Those who are principled and are upon the true path are not shaken by hardship; instead, hardship helps to strengthen their resolve and faith. But the reverse is true for the weak-hearted: when they face adversity or trouble, it is only their level of fear that increases. At a time of calamity, there is nothing more beneficial to you than having a brave heart. The one who has such a heart is self- possessed — he has firm faith and cool nerves. On the other hand, during the course of any given day, the coward slaughters himself many times with apprehensions and presentiments of impending doom. Therefore, if you desire for yourself a stable life, face all situations with bravery and perseverance.

{And let not those who have no certainty of faith discourage you...}(Qur’an 30: 60)

Be more resolute than your circumstances and more ferocious than the winds of calamity. May mercy descend upon the weak hearted, for how often it is that they are shaken by the smallest of tremors.

{And verily, you will find them the greediest of mankind for life.}(Qur’an 2: 96)

As for those who are resolute, they receive help from their Lord and are confident of His promise.

{He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them...}

(Qur’an 48: 18

Source: Don't Be Sad - By Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Gaza doctor writes book of hope despite death of three daughters

On a cool but sunny December day in Gaza, Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish took his eight children to the beach for the simple pleasures of paddling in the Mediterranean and playing in the sand.

Two months earlier, the children's mother had died from acute leukaemia, and Abuelaish was comforted to see his older daughters laughing and chatting as they wrote their names in the damp grains close to the water's edge: Bessan, Maya, Aya. "It was as close to heaven and as far from hell as I could get that day," he later wrote.

But within five weeks the Abuelaishs were to suffer a second tragedy: those three girls, aged 13, 15 and 21, were killed, and another daughter, Noor, 17, seriously injured, when an Israeli shell was fired at the family home during the brief but bloody war in Gaza in 2008-9. One of Abuelaish's nieces also died; a fifth girl, another niece, suffered terrible injuries.

Many in his situation would have descended into a dark, lonely pit of grief and bitterness. But Abuelaish not only rebuilt a life for himself and his surviving five children, he has written a moving and powerful book about his experiences with a central message of hope and reconciliation.

I Shall Not Hate – published in Canada in April, and out in Britain in January – has had an extraordinary impact. Sitting in the home of his extended family in Jabalia, northern Gaza, Abuelaish – back on a month-long visit from Canada where he now lives and works – reads out emails on his BlackBerry from strangers expressing their sympathy, gratitude and support.

The book has been translated in 13 languages, from Finnish to Turkish – but most importantly copies will soon be available in Hebrew or Arabic. A book tour in the US is scheduled for January; proceeds from sales and appearances will go to Daughters for Life, the charitable foundation Abuelaish set up.

He explains his choice of title. "I'm against any violence. Violence and the military approach proved its failings decades ago and that will never, ever change. No one evaluates; we just continue blindly.

"As Palestinians and Israelis we have failed to change course. We just continue with the same approach which aggravates, escalates and widens the gap of hatred and bloodshed. It's easy to destroy life but very difficult to build it."

Would it not be understandable to feel hate after what has happened to him? "There is a difference between anger and hate. Anger is acute but transient; hate is a poison, a fire which burns you from the inside. We need to be angry, but direct it in a positive way."

Abuelaish, an obstetrician and gynaecologist specialising in infertility, spent years working in Israeli hospitals where, he says, patients were surprised to find a Palestinian doctor delivering Jewish babies. After his wife, Nadia, died in September 2008 he went back to work following encouragement from his elder daughters, returning to his family in Gaza at weekends.

He was at home when the onslaught on Gaza began on 27 December that year. There was a "symphony of weapons, shelling" around the extended family's home in northern Gaza, where much of the action was concentrated. Everyone's nerves and emotions were constantly on edge, he says.

Throughout the conflict, Abuelaish was in regular contact by phone with Israeli friends, including journalists. His accounts, in fluent Hebrew, of what was happening inside Gaza – closed at the time to foreign journalists – were broadcast in Israel and beyond.

On 16 January 2009, at 4.30pm, a shell struck the house. He ran to the room that had been hit. "I saw my girls drowning in a pool of blood," he says, tears in his eyes. "I saw their body parts, a decapitated head, brains on the ceiling." A second shell followed.

Desperate for medical assistance, he called his friend Shlomi Eldar, a presenter on Channel 10 in Israel. His cries for help in a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic were broadcast live. Within an hour, with the help of his Israeli friends, Abuelaish's injured daughter and niece were evacuated from Gaza.

At the time, he could only think of the catastrophe that had befallen his family. Later he realised the impact of that live phone call. "It opened the eyes of the Israeli public. The secret about the war in Gaza was disclosed," he says.

The then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, watched the broadcast. "I read that he said: 'Who can see Izzeldin and not cry?'" says Abuelaish. "Two days later he announced the ceasefire. I hope that at least the blood of my daughters was not in vain, that it saved others."

The doctor was already considering a job offer in Toronto and within six months he had begun a new life as a professor in global health at the city's university. Back home for the summer holidays, Abuelaish says Gaza is "getting worse and worse".

"People are frustrated and hopeless. Wellbeing is not just dependent on having food. We are hungry for freedom, a brighter future, a secure life, for feeling our humanity."

But, he says, Gazans must not simply blame others, but take responsibility themselves. "Everything is possible in life, even peace. The only thing that is impossible is to bring my wife and daughters back. You have to keep moving. Tragedy does not define my life, but these tragedies have made me move faster."

Abuelaish's book and the foundation are his monument to his dead daughters. "I swore to God that one day I will meet my daughters and tell them their blood was not wasted," he says.

The foundation is dedicated to promoting health and education among girls and women in the Middle East. "My life is in debt to my mother, my wife, my daughters," he says. "All change starts first with the mother. If we want to change, we must start with women."

Abuelaish thinks back to the day on the beach, a picture from which graces the cover of his book. "Two weeks before the war came, [the girls] wrote their names in the sand. Where are their names now? Written in stone on their tombs. But I tell you one day their names will be written in metal and stone at schools and medical institutions dedicated to their memory. Words are stronger than bullets. We have to offer a message of hope to those who believe in hate and revenge."


Monday 16 August 2010

Muslim women in India “have had enough of mullah interference.”

The Muslim women are beginning to demur with patriarchal notions of bias and control. At least this much was evident when 100-odd angry women marched down the congested alleys of old city here, waving placards and shouting slogans. It was a sight none must have ever seen before.

The 1.5-km walk in this uber conservative neighbourhood ended at the residence of Abdees' and marital home of Hina and Arshi, the two among three women who had roughed up some maulvis of the Shariat court in June for issuing ex-parte talaqnama. Amid tight security and after much drama, the two muscled their way in, leaving their morose looking in-laws with no option but to watch them in silence. The fierce army of chaperones then left, promising to keep in touch.

"The incident proves that Muslim women have had enough of mullah interference,"declared state convener of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan Naaz Raza, who led the march. This could just be the beginning, warned her colleague Naish Hasan. The feisty lady spells big trouble for the maulvis with her outspokenness. This year has seen at least a dozen anti-women fatwas from Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband. Women are forbidden to ride bicycles, join public office without hijab, talk loudly, join judiciary or even talk to their fiance before marriage. And now they have one question, said Naish, "Just why not?''

"When a woman puts a 'daliya' (wicker basket) on her head and carries bricks, no mullah advises her not to work beside men. But the moment she dons a stethoscope or a black coat, there are restrictions galore,"complained Shahnaz Begum.

The semi-literate chikan worker from Bansmandi says, "Maulvis are scared they may lose their importance once women begin to exercise their brains. And each issue, from condoning triple talaq to pronouncing anti-woman fatwa, only shows their insecurity."