Saturday, 20 October 2018

My grandfather Nelson Mandela fought apartheid. I see the parallels with Israel



 My grandfather, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would have turned 100 this year. The world is marking the centenary of his birth and celebrating his leadership in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. But while my country has long been free from racist minority rule, the world is not yet free of the crime of apartheid.
Like Madiba and Desmond Tutu before me, I see the eerie similarities between Israel’s racial laws and policies towards Palestinians, and the architecture of apartheid in South Africa. We South Africans know apartheid when we see it. In fact, many recognise that, in some respects, Israel’s regime of oppression is even worse.
Apartheid is defined in international law as an “institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other”. It is about unequal racial power relations upheld by unjust laws that are intended to deny oppressed groups their rights.
 Even before Israel passed its “nation state law” (stipulating that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country) it was easy to see, for anyone willing to look, that the country’s government was committing the crime of apartheid. Its segregation wall, discriminatory admissions committees, ID-card systems, roads built for settlers which are not accessible to Palestinians, and the bantustan-like fragmentation of the West Bank gave the game away.

The nation state law made that reality undeniable. Apartheid is the context for a litany of state crimes. Take most recently, for example, Israel’s decision to demolish the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and evict its residents. The aim of this ethnic cleansing is to make way for illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Yet despite seven decades of apartheid, ongoing theft of Palestinian land, military occupation and massacres of unarmed protesters in Gaza – rightly called the “Palestinian Sharpeville”, after the mass killing in Transvaal in 1960 – each new generation of Palestinians continues the liberation struggle.

Young Ahed Tamimi turned 17 in prison this year, illegally incarcerated for confronting occupying soldiers in her backyard. But just as my grandfather spent 27 years in prison only to become a global icon of freedom, Ahed has become a powerful symbol of Palestinians’ resolute determination to resist. She and her family represent the courageous spirit of Palestinians everywhere who stand defiant in the face of immense brutality. I salute their bravery.

Although Ahed is now free, thousands of Palestinians – including hundreds of children – still languish in apartheid Israel’s jails. In this Nelson Mandela centennial celebration year, we should recall his avowal that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people” and work relentlessly to demand that all Palestinians – whether living in exile, as citizens of Israel or in the occupied territories – are accorded their inalienable human rights.

For we South Africans also know that effective resistance to apartheid requires international solidarity. Just as allies around the world were vital in our struggle for freedom, the spirit of internationalism lives on in the non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah




As the frail body of 12-year-old Nassir Al-Mosabeh fell to the ground on Friday, September 28, history was repeating itself in a most tragic way.

Little Nassir was not just another number, a 'martyr' to be exalted by equally poor refugees in Gaza, or vilified by Israel and its tireless hasbara machine. He was much more than that.

The stream of blood that poured out from his head wound on that terrible afternoon drew a line in time that travel back 18 years.

Almost 18-years to the day separates Nassir's recent murder and the Israeli army killing of Mohammed Al-Durrah, also 12, on September 30, 2000. Between these dates, hundreds of Palestinian children have perished in similar ways.

Reports by the rights’ group, B’tselem, are rife with statistics: 954 Palestinian children were killed between the Second Intifada in 2000 and Israel's war on Gaza, the so-called Operation Cast Lead in 2008. In the latter war alone, 345 child were reportedly killed, in addition to another 367 child fatalities reported in Israel’s latest war, ‘Protective Edge’ of 2014.

But Mohammed and Nassir - and thousands like them - are not mere numbers; they have more in common than simply being the ill-fated victims of trigger-happy Israeli soldiers.

In that single line of blood that links Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah, there is a narrative so compelling, yet often neglected. The two 12-year-old boys looked so much alike - small, handsome, dark skinned refugees, whose families were driven from villages that were destroyed in 1948 to make room for today’s Israel.

Young as they were, both were victims of that reality. Mohammed, died while crouching by the side of his father, Jamal, as he beseeched the Israelis to stop shooting. 18 years later, Nassir walked with thousands of his peers to the fence separating besieged Gaza from Israel, stared at the face of the snipers and chanted for a free Palestine.

Between the two boys, the entire history of Palestine can be written, not only that of victimization and violence, but also of steadfastness and honor, passed from one generation to the next.

“Who will carry on with the dream,” were the words Nassir’s mother repeated, as she held a photograph of her son and wept. In the photo, Nassir is seen carrying his school bag, and a small bottle of rubbing alcohol near the fence separating Gaza and Israel.

“The dream” is a reference to the fact that Nassir wanted to be a doctor, thus his enthusiasm to help his two sisters, Dua’a and Islam, two medical volunteers at the fence.

His job was to carry the alcohol bottle and, sometimes, oxygen masks, as his sisters would rush to help the wounded, many of them Nassir’s age or even younger.

In a recent video message, the young boy - who had just celebrated the achievement of memorizing the entire Holy Quran - demonstrated in impeccable classical Arabic why a smile can be considered an act of charity.

Protesting the Israeli siege and the injustice of life in Gaza was a family affair, and Nassir played his role. His innovation of taping raw onions to his own face to counter the tears induced by the Israeli army tear gas garnered him much recognition among the protesters, who have been rallying against the siege since March 30.

So far, nearly 200 unarmed protesters have been killed while demanding an end to the 11-year long blockade and also to call for the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees.

Nassir was the 34th child to be killed in cold-blood since the protests commenced, and will unlikely be the last to die.

Palestinian Children and Israeli Discourse
When Mohammed al-Durrah was killed 18 years ago, the images of his father trying to shield his son’s body from Israeli bullets with his bare hands, left millions around the world speechless. The video, which was aired by France 2, left many with a sense of helplessness but, perhaps, the hope that the publicity that Mohammed’s televised murder had received could possibly shame Israel into ending its policy of targeting children.

Alas, that was never the case. After initially taking responsibility for killing Mohammed, a bogus Israeli army investigation concluded that the killing of Mohammed was a hoax, that Palestinians were to blame, that the France 2 journalist who shot the video was part of a conspiracy to ‘delegitimize Israel’.

Many were shocked by the degree of Israeli hubris, and the brazenness of their mouth- pieces around the western world who repeated such falsehood without any regard for morality or, even, common sense. But the Israeli discourse itself has been part of an ongoing war on Palestinian children.

Israeli and Zionist propagandists have long claimed that Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews.

The likes of Elliott Abrahms raged against Palestinian textbooks for "teaching children to value terrorism." “That is not the way to prepare children for peace,” he wrote last year.

In July the Israeli army claimed that Palestinian children deliberately “lure IDF troops”, by staging fake riots, thus forcing them into violent confrontations.

The US-Israeli propaganda has not just targeted Palestinian fighters or factions, but has done its utmost to dehumanize, thus justify, the murder of Palestinian children as well.

“Children as young as 8 turned into bombers, shooters, stabbers,” reported one Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon, citing a “new report on child terrorists and their enablers.”

This is not simply bad journalism, but part of a calculated Israeli campaign aimed at preemptively justifying the killing of children such as Nassir and Mohammed, and thousands like them.

It is that same ominous discourse that resulted in the call for genocide made by none other than Israel's Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, where she also called on the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to "little snakes."

The killing of Nassir and Mohammed should not then be viewed in the context of military operations gone awry, but in the inhuman official and media discourses that do not differentiate between a resistance fighter carrying a gun or a child carrying an onion and an oxygen mask.

Nor should we forget that Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah are chapters in the same book, with an overlapping narrative that makes their story, although 18 years apart, one and the same.




 Link

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Trifecta of Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Muslim Communities – Debunking False Statements




“If she just wore hijab/niqab, she wouldn’t get harassed or raped …”

This line, often uttered to dismiss cases of rape where the victims did not observe hijab, is one that is not only false, but completely fails to understand the true meaning, role and purpose of hijab.

No doubt, hijab is indeed an obligation in Islam; it is a command from Allah and should be observed by believing women[1]. There are Divine Wisdoms behind its obligation, and in some cases, it can deter a certain type of attention.

However, it is not a force field that physically prevents a rapist from raping his victim. Modest dressing cannot prevent rape or lewd behavior from the abuser. Nor should we ever expect a person whose heart and soul are so corrupted that they would dare to commit such a crime in the first place, to feel deterred merely by some extra layers of fabric. Numerous women have been sexually assaulted and raped while wearing their hijab.

One sister — a convert who wears the hijab and relied upon a small group of other Muslims to be her “community” — shared the following:

“… I thought it was weird for him to sit so close to me, but I didn’t really think anything of it. He’s a “good boy.” Prays five times a day. Ten years my senior and a PhD student at my university. Super intelligent. Calls his mother (who lives overseas) every day despite time zone differences. Meets all the markers of a good person. But I don’t think I’ve ever been alone with him before this.

We were just talking, he paused and pulled me on top of him. Suddenly I was laying on him, and he was holding me against him tightly. I was super freaked out, but I laughed and was like, “[name], stop! What are you doing?” Obviously, I tried to push against him to get off, but he flipped me, so I was pinned underneath him in a matter of seconds, and he was straddling me. He ripped off my hijab, pulled up my shirt and bra and started to bite my breasts.

I was completely in shock and tried to reason with him to stop. He said something like he’s seen how I look at him (???) and he knows I want him (?????). Completely, absolutely, disgustingly false.

He held my hands down when I tried to push him off, and I began to fight him with everything I had in me. He pulled down my pants and started to penetrate me with his fingers. By then I was crying, and I kept on telling him over and over to stop, but he said to just let him do it. “If you really don’t like it then why are you so wet?”

I was terrified and never felt so much like I’ve lost control of my body before. I remember just repeating his name endlessly, as if he would somehow hear his name and wake up and realize what he’s doing. I’ve never been intimate with a man even consensually, so it was beyond overwhelming. Eventually he said, “Relax, it’s not like I’m going to rape you.” And he stopped.

I never figured out what the heck he meant by that. Did he not realize what he just did?!? I put my clothes back on as fast as I could, and I left. I haven’t told anybody. I saw him once on campus by chance, and I felt like I was having a heart attack. For a few weeks after, he kept on texting me and asking how I was and stuff. I never responded. Throughout the entire ordeal and after, I get the feeling that he truly doesn’t think he did something wrong.

This was about three months ago, and none of my friends who were there with me even know. I feel like maybe I should tell the girls at least, so they can watch out for him, but they would never be so stupid to hang out with a man alone in his apartment. I do worry that they would judge me for it. My friends think I’m weird for never hanging out with them whenever I know he’s around, but I don’t know if they’ve put it together. It’s certainly distanced me from them in some regards. I’m a convert and my closest family lives a plane flight away, so these friends are really the only community I have.

I’ve thought about it literally every day. All the time. I’ve prayed and tried to find the same peace in my body as I did before, but it’s so difficult. I find myself wanting to make wudu over and over, and I never really feel pure again.”


Full article 

Monday, 15 October 2018

What Can I Do If I'm Being Forced To Marry Someone? | Ustadha Taimiyyah Zubair



Forced marriage is a crime a sin and means parents are destroying the lives of their own children. It has to stop! Say No! Seek Help!

Monday, 8 October 2018

Minister hits out at Zakir Naik-style Islamic preaching


 The minister in charge of Islamic affairs today hit out at Indian Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, saying his combative style of propagating the religion by putting down other beliefs is not suitable for Malaysia.
Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Naik, who has sought refuge in Malaysia amid an investigation by Indian authorities, has a penchant for insulting other religions.
“We don’t want a debate that ridicules others. We need a more intellectual and composed method of Islamic propagation without the need to ridicule other religions,” he said in his speech to launch a seminar today on Islam and the challenges in a multiracial society.
Naik is accused of giving provocative speeches, which were cited as a reason by Bangladesh for an attack in Dhaka in 2016 which left 22 people dead. India’s National Investigation Agency is also investigating Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation, over allegations of money laundering.
Naik has denied the charges, saying he is a victim of the Indian media whom he accuses of sensationalising the issue in their quest to get a bigger audience.
The 52-year-old televangelist, who was close to leaders of the previous government and was granted Malaysian permanent resident status, is fighting attempts to have him deported.
Mujahid said as the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, he was also responsible for defending the rights of other religions.
He said Islamic missionary work in the past was successful because it did not attack other beliefs.
“When has Islam been spread by insulting other religions? If Islam is compassionate, there is no need for insults,” he added.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

History of Imam Husain And His Martyrdom



When we invite strangers or guests and make them free of our family circle, that means the greatest out-flowing of our hearts to them. The events that I am going to describe refer to some of the most touching incidents of our domestic history in their spiritual aspect. We ask our brethren of other faiths to come, and share with us some of the thoughts which are called forth by this event. As a matter of fact all students of history are aware that the horrors that are connected with the great event of Kerbela did more than anything else to unite together the various contending factions which had unfortunately appeared at that early stage of Muslim history. You know the old Persian saying applied to the Prophet:

Tu barae wasl kardan amadi; - Ni barae fasl kardan amadi.

"Thou camest to the world to unite, not to divide."

That was wonderfully exemplified by the sorrows and sufferings and finally the martyrdom of Imam Husain.

I propose first to give you an idea of the geographical setting and the historical background. Then I want very briefly to refer to the actual events that happened in the Muharram, and finally to draw your attention to the great lessons which we can learn from them.

Cities and their Cultural Meaning

The building of Kufa and Basra, the two great outposts of the Muslim Empire, in the 16th year of the Hijra, was a visible symbol that Islam was pushing its strength and building up a new civilization, not only in a military sense, but in moral and social ideas and in the sciences and arts. The old effete cities did not content it, any more than the old and effete systems which it displaced. Nor was it content with the first steps it took. It was always examining, testing, discarding, re-fashioning its own handiwork. There was always a party that wanted to stand on old ways, to take cities like Damascus readymade, that loved ease and the path of least resistance. But the greater souls stretched out to new frontiers - of ideas as well as geography. They felt that old seats were like dead wood breeding worms and rottenness that were a danger to higher forms of life. The clash between them was part of the tragedy of Kerbela. Behind the building of new cities there is often the burgeoning of new ideas. Let us therefore examine the matter a little more closely. It will reveal the hidden springs of some very interesting history.

Vicissitudes of Mecca and Medina

The great cities of Islam at its birth were Mecca and Medina. Mecca, the centre of old Arabian pilgrimage, the birthplace of the Prophet, rejected the Prophet's teaching, and cast him off. Its idolatry was effete; its tribal exclusiveness was effete; its ferocity against the Teacher of the New Light was effete. The Prophet shook its dust off his feet, and went to Medina. It was the well-watered city of Yathrib, with a considerable Jewish population. It received with eagerness the teaching of the Prophet; it gave asylum to him and his Companions and Helpers. He reconstituted it and it became the new City of Light. Mecca, with its old gods and its old superstitions, tried to subdue this new Light and destroy it. The human odds were in favor of Mecca. But God's purpose upheld the Light, and subdued the old Mecca. But the Prophet came to build as well as to destroy. He destroyed the old paganism, and lighted a new beacon in Mecca - the beacon of Arab unity and human brotherhood. When the Prophet's life ended on this earth, his spirit remained. It inspired his people and led them from victory to victory. Where moral or spiritual and material victories go hand in hand, the spirit of man advances all along the line. But sometimes there is a material victory, with a spiritual fall, and sometimes there is a spiritual victory with a material fall, and then we have tragedy.

Spirit of Damascus

Islam's first extension was towards Syria, where the power was centered in the city of Damascus. Among living cities it is probably the oldest city in the world. Its bazaars are thronged with men of all nations, and the luxuries of all nations find ready welcome there. If you come to it westward from the Syrian desert the contrast is complete, both in the country and in the people. From the parched desert sands you come to fountains and vineyards, orchards and the hum of traffic. From the simple, sturdy, independent, frank Arab, you come to the soft, luxurious, sophisticated Syrian. That contrast was forced on the Muslims when Damascus became a Muslim city. They were in a different moral and spiritual atmosphere. Some succumbed to the softening influences of ambition, luxury, wealth pride of race, love of ease, and so on. Islam stood always as the champion of the great rugged moral virtues. It wanted no compromise with evil in any shape or form, with luxury, with idleness, with the seductions of this world. It was a protest against these things. And yet the representatives of that protest got softened at Damascus. They aped the decadent princes of the world instead of striving to be leaders of spiritual thought. Discipline was relaxed, and governors aspired to be greater than the Khalifas. This bore bitter fruit later.

Snare of Riches

Meanwhile Persia came within the Muslim orbit. When Medain was captured in the year 16 of the Hijra, and the battle of Jalula broke the Persian resistance, some military booty was brought to Medina - gems, pearls, rubies, diamonds, swords of gold and silver. A great celebration was held in honor of the splendid victory and the valor of the Arab army. In the midst of the celebration they found the Caliph of the day actually weeping. One said to him, "What! a time of joy and thou sheddest tears?" "Yes", he said, "I foresee that the riches will become a snare, a spring of worldliness and envy, and in the end a calamity to my people." For the Arab valued, above all, simplicity of life, openness of character, and bravery in face of danger. Their women fought with them and shared their dangers. They were not caged creatures for the pleasures of the senses. They showed their mettle in the early fighting round the head of the Persian Gulf. When the Muslims were hard pressed, their women turned the scale in their favor. They made their veils into flags, and marched in battle array. The enemy mistook them for reinforcements and abandoned the field. Thus an impending defeat was turned into a victory.

Basra and Kufa

In Mesopotamia the Muslims did not base their power on old and effete Persian cities, but built new outposts for themselves. The first they built was Basra at the head of the Persian Gulf, in the 17th year of the Hijra. And what a great city it became! Not great in war and conquest, not great in trade and commerce, but great in learning and culture in its best day, - alas! also great in its spirit of faction and degeneracy in the days of its decline! But its situation and climate were not at all suited to the Arab character. It was low and moist, damp and enervating. In the same year the Arabs built another city not far off from the Gulf and yet well suited to be a port of the desert, as Kerbela became afterwards. This was the city of Kufa, built in the same year as Basra, but in a more bracing climate. It was the first experiment in town-planning in Islam. In the centre was a square for the principal mosque. That square was adorned with shady avenues. Another square was set apart for the trafficking of the market. The streets were all laid out intersecting and their width was fixed. The main thoroughfares for such traffic as they had (we must not imagine the sort of traffic we see in Charing Cross) were made 60 feet wide; the cross streets were 30 feet wide; and even the little lanes for pedestrians were regulated to a width of 10.5 feet. Kufa became a centre of light and learning. The Khalifa Hazrat Ali lived and died there.

Rivalry and poison of Damascus

But its rival, the city of Damascus, fattened on luxury and Byzantine magnificence. Its tinsel glory sapped the foundations of loyalty and the soldierly virtues. Its poison spread through the Muslim world. Governors wanted to be kings. Pomp and selfishness, ease and idleness and dissipation grew as a canker; wines and spirituous liquors, skepticism, cynicism and social vices became so rampant that the protests of the men of God were drowned in mockery. Mecca, which was to have been a symbolical spiritual centre, was neglected or dishonored. Damascus and Syria became centers of a worldliness and arrogance which cut at the basic roots of Islam.

Husain the Righteous refused to bow to worldliness and power

We have brought the story down to the 60th year of the Hijra. Yazid assumed the power at Damascus. He cared nothing for the most sacred ideals of the people. He was not even interested in the ordinary business affairs of administration. His passion was hunting, and he sought power for self-gratification. The discipline and self-abnegation, the strong faith and earnest Endeavour, the freedom and sense of social equality which had been the motive forces of Islam, were divorced from power. The throne at Damascus had become a worldly throne based on the most selfish ideas of personal and family aggrandizement, instead of a spiritual office, with a sense of God-given responsibility. The decay of morals spread among the people. There was one man who could stem the tide. That was Imam Husain. He, the grandson of the Prophet, could speak without fear, for fear was foreign to his nature. But his blameless and irreproachable life was in itself a reproach to those who had other standards. They sought to silence him, but he could not be silenced. They sought to bribe him, but he could not be bribed. They sought to waylay him and get him into their Power. What is more, they wanted him to recognize the tyranny and expressly to support it. For they knew that the conscience of the people might awaken at any time, and sweep them away unless the holy man supported their cause. The holy man was prepared to die rather than surrender the principles for which he stood.

Driven from city to city

Medina was the centre of Husain's teaching. They made Medina impossible for him. He left Medina and went to Mecca, hoping that he would be left alone. But he was not left alone. The Syrian forces invaded Mecca. The invasion was repelled, not by Husain but by other people. For Husain, though the bravest of the brave, had no army and no worldly weapons. His existence itself was an offence in the eyes of his enemies. His life was in danger, and the lives of all those nearest and dearest to him. He had friends everywhere, but they were afraid to speak out. They were not as brave as he was. But in distant Kufa, a party grew up which said: "We are disgusted with these events, and we must have Imam Husain to take asylum with us." So they sent and invited the Imam to leave Mecca, come to them, live in their midst, and be their honored teacher and guide. His father's memory was held in reverence in Kufa. The Governor of Kufa was friendly, and the people eager to welcome him. But alas, Kufa had neither strength, nor courage, nor constancy. Kufa, geographically only 40 miles from Kerbela, was the occasion of the tragedy of Kerbela. And now Kufa is nearly gone, and Kerbela remains as the lasting memorial of the martyrdom.

Invitation from Kufa

When the Kufa invitation reached the Imam, he pondered over it, weighed its possibilities, and consulted his friends. He sent over his cousin Muslim to study the situation on the spot and report to him. The report was favorable, and he decided to go. He had a strong presentiment of danger. Many of his friends in Mecca advised him against it. But could he abandon his mission when Kufa was calling for it? Was he the man to be deterred, because his enemies were laying their plots for him, at Damascus and at Kufa? At least, it was suggested, he might leave his family behind. But his family and his immediate dependants would not hear of it. It was a united family, pre-eminent in the purity of its life and in its domestic virtues and domestic affections. If there was danger for its head, they would share it. The Imam was not going on a mere ceremonial visit. There was responsible work to do, and they must be by his side, to support him in spite of all its perils and consequences. Shallow critics scent political ambition in the Imam's act. But would a man with political ambitions march without an army against what might be called the enemy country, scheming to get him into its power, and prepared to use all their resources, military, political and financial, against him?

Journey through the desert

Imam Husain left Mecca for Kufa with all his family including his little children. Later news from Kufa itself was disconcerting. The friendly governor had been displaced by one prepared more ruthlessly to carry out Yazid's plans. If Husain was to go there at all, he must go there quickly, or his friends themselves would be in danger. On the other hand, Mecca itself was no less dangerous to him and his family. It was the month of September by the solar calendar, and no one would take a long desert journey in that heat, except under a sense of duty. By the lunar calendar it was the month of pilgrimage at Mecca. But he did not stop for the pilgrimage. He pushed on, with his family and dependants, in all numbering about 90 or 100 people, men, women and children. They must have gone by forced marches through the desert. They covered the 900 miles of the desert in little over three weeks. When they came within a few miles of Kufa, at the edge of the desert, they met people from Kufa. It was then that they heard of the terrible murder of Husain's cousin Muslim, who had been sent on in advance. A poet that came by dissuaded the Imam from going further. "For," he said epigrammatically, "the heart of the city is with thee but its sword is with thine enemies, and the issue is with God." What was to be done? They were three weeks' journey from the city they had left. In the city to which they were going their own messenger had been foully murdered as well as his children. They did not know what the actual situation was then in Kufa. But they were determined not to desert their friends.

Call to Surrender or Die

Presently messengers came from Kufa, and Imam Husain was asked to surrender. Imam Husain offered to take one of three alternatives. He wanted no political power and no revenge. He said "I came to defend my own people. If I am too late, give me the choice of three alternatives: either to return to Mecca; or to face Yazid himself at Damascus; or if my very presence is distasteful to him and you, I do not wish to cause more divisions among the Muslims. Let me at least go to a distant frontier, where, if fighting must be done, I will fight against the enemies of Islam." Every one of these alternatives was refused. What they wanted was to destroy his life, or better still, to get him to surrender, to surrender to the very forces against which he was protesting, to declare his adherence to those who were defying the law of God and man, and to tolerate all the abuses which were bringing the name of Islam into disgrace. Of course he did not surrender. But what was he to do? He had no army. He had reasons to suppose that many of his friends from distant parts would rally round him, and come and defend him with their swords and bodies. But time was necessary, and he was not going to gain time by feigned compliance. He turned a little round to the left, the way that would have led him to Yazid himself, at Damascus. He camped in the plain of Kerbela.

Water cut off; Inflexible will, Devotion and Chivalry

For ten days messages passed backwards and forwards between Kerbela and Kufa. Kufa wanted surrender and recognition. That was the one thing the Imam could not consent to. Every other alternative was refused by Kufa, under the instructions from Damascus. Those fateful ten days were the first ten days of the month of Muharram, of the year 61 of the Hijra. The final crisis was on the 10th day, the Ashura day, which we are commemorating. During the first seven days various kinds of pressure were brought to bear on the Imam, but his will was inflexible. It was not a question of a fight, for there were but 70 men against 4,000. The little band was surrounded and insulted, but they held together so firmly that they could not be harmed. On the 8th day the water supply was cut off. The Euphrates and its abundant streams were within sight, but the way was barred. Prodigies of valor were performed in getting water. Challenges were made for single combat according to Arab custom. And the enemy were half-hearted, while the Imam's men fought in contempt of death, and always accounted for more men than they lost. On the evening of the 9th day, the little son of the Imam was ill. He had fever and was dying of thirst. They tried to get a drop of water. But that was refused point blank and so they made the resolve that they would, rather than surrender, die to the last man in the cause for which they had come. Imam Husain offered to send away his people. He said, "They are after my person; my family and my people can go back." But everyone refused to go. They said they would stand by him to the last, and they did. They were not cowards; they were soldiers born and bred; and they fought as heroes, with devotion and with chivalry.

The Final Agony; placid face of the man of God

On the day of Ashura, the 10th day, Imam Husain's own person was surrounded by his enemies. He was brave to the last. He was cruelly mutilated. His sacred head was cut off while in the act of prayer. A mad orgy of triumph was celebrated over his body. In this crisis we have details of what took place hour by hour. He had 45 wounds from the enemies' swords and javelins, and 35 arrows pierced his body. His left arm was cut off, and a javelin pierced through his breast. After all that agony, when his head was lifted up on a spear, his face was the placid face of a man of God. All the men of that gallant band were exterminated and their bodies trampled under foot by the horses. The only male survivor was a child, Husain's son Ali, surnamed Zain-ul-'Abidin - "The Glory of the Devout." He lived in retirement, studying, interpreting, and teaching his father's high spiritual principles for the rest of his life.

Heroism of the Women

There were women: for example, Zainab the sister of the Imam, Sakina his little daughter, and Shahr-i-Banu, his wife, at Kerbela. A great deal of poetic literature has sprung up in Muslim languages, describing the touching scenes in which they figure. Even in their grief and their tears they are heroic. They lament the tragedy in simple, loving, human terms. But they are also conscious of the noble dignity of their nearness to a life of truth reaching its goal in the precious crown of martyrdom. One of the best-known poets of this kind is the Urdu poet Anis, who lived in Lucknow, and died in 1874.

Lesson of the Tragedy

That briefly is the story. What is the lesson? There is of course the physical suffering in martyrdom, and all sorrow and suffering claim our sympathy, - the dearest, purest, most out-flowing sympathy that we can give. But there is a greater suffering than physical suffering. That is when a valiant soul seems to stand against the world; when the noblest motives are reviled and mocked; when truth seems to suffer an eclipse. It may even seem that the martyr has but to say a word of compliance, do a little deed of non-resistance; and much sorrow and suffering would be saved; and the insidious whisper comes: "Truth after all can never die." That is perfectly true. Abstract truth can never die. It is independent of man's cognition. But the whole battle is for man's keeping hold of truth and righteousness. And that can only be done by the highest examples of man's conduct - spiritual striving and suffering enduring firmness of faith and purpose, patience and courage where ordinary mortals would give in or be cowed down, the sacrifice of ordinary motives to supreme truth in scorn of consequence. The martyr bears witness, and the witness redeems what would otherwise be called failure. It so happened with Husain. For all were touched by the story of his martyrdom, and it gave the deathblow to the politics of Damascus and all it stood for. And Muharram has still the power to unite the different schools of thought in Islam, and make a powerful appeal to non-Muslims also.

Explorers of Spiritual Territory

That, to my mind, is the supreme significance of martyrdom. All human history shows that the human spirit strives in many directions, deriving strength and sustenance from many sources. Our bodies, our physical powers, have developed or evolved from earlier forms, after many struggles and defeats. Our intellect has had its martyrs, and our great explorers have often gone forth with the martyrs' spirit. All honor to them. But the highest honor must still lie with the great explorers of spiritual territory, those who faced fearful odds and refused to surrender to evil. Rather than allow a stigma to attach to sacred things, they paid with their own lives the penalty of resistance. The first kind of resistance offered by the Imam was when he went from city to city, hunted about from place to place, but making no compromise with evil. Then was offered the choice of an effectual but dangerous attempt at clearing the house of God, or living at ease for himself by tacit abandonment of his striving friends. He chose the path of danger with duty and honor, and never swerved from it giving up his life freely and bravely. His story purifies our emotions. We can best honor his memory by allowing it to teach us courage and constancy.


Abdullah Yusuf Ali is a renowned English translator and commentator of the Holy Qur'an. He died in 1952 in England. Little would he have known that his English translation and commentary of the Qur'an would become so popular in the West and East alike, wherever English is read and understood. This article has been excerpted from a longer version that was published in the Progressive Islam Pamphlet No. 7, September, 1931. The complete article can be viewed at al-islam.org.


Link

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Martyrdom of Imam Hussein as a day of unity




Muharram, the 10th of the Islamic calendar brings out fissures in the Muslim community. Its a day when a segment of Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet and the other segment that equally loves the Prophet and his family, minimize or ignore the martyrdom. While one segment fasts on the day commemorating a Jewish tradition that says that on this day Prophet Moses saved his people from the tyranny of Pharaoh, the other grieves, laments and remembers the martyrdom of Imam Hussein by self-flagellation.

History is still haunting us and the event that took place some fifty years after the death of the Prophet still divides us. Yazid ibn Muawiya and Imam Hussein are the two characters around whom the entire story revolves. One segment of the ummah considers Yazid a legitimate ruler and the Imam a rebel, the other considers Imam a freedom fighter and Yazid a tyrant. In the continuation of the controversy that has resulted in the emergence of different versions of Islam, the dream of making the faith a unifying force for Muslims is irrelevant.

History has to be seen in its right perspective and should be analyzed according to the explanation of people who were involved in it.

Based on how Imam Hussein presented his case and the horrific ordeal he and his family went through, it is clear that his martyrdom is one of the most revolutionary moment in the history of humanity when an individual decided to sacrifice all that he had to preserve the divine ideals of justice. Those who were fighting against him knew the fate of the opponent. They knew that he was the grandson of the Prophet.

The people who claimed to be defenders of the principles of justice betrayed Imam Hussein and watched him as bystanders pursue the struggle on his own. The Imam fully knew the value of his stand, but mourning or grieving would not serve the purpose or give right tribute to him.

Rather than observing this day of 10th Muharram as a day of mourning and tragedy, all Muslims regardless of their sect, must observe it as a day of justice and freedom. They must make this a day to remind the world that tyranny must be challenged, abuse of power must be questioned, usurpation of power by turning political office into a throne to be passed on one's progeny must be defied and coercion to force people to succumb to political authorities must be responded. This will bring meaning to the sacrifice of the great martyr Imam Hussein for Muslims and people of all faith.

The Muslim world is in fact divided between those who usurp the rights of people and those whose rights have been usurped. We have falsely tried to cover this basic division through imposing sectarian, ethnic, cultural and tribal differences so that the real issues can never be brought up. The existing divisions are preventing Muslims from bring about positive changes in the society. Any time people question the legitimacy of those who unjustly violate people's human rights, the shia sunni differences are brought up by the special interest group. Often these differences are escalated to devastating violence.

Unless, Muslims go back to their history and read it correctly to draw necessary conclusions, they will continue to be played by special interest groups among themselves. Perhaps, we can begin by reevaluating our attitude to the most tragic event of our history, the Karbala.


Link

Monday, 24 September 2018

The Mothers of Rinkeby: Last Night in Sweden | This is Europe



It's 7pm and Ardo is getting ready for her shift. She puts on her orange jacket and makes her way through Rinkeby town centre, passing under its famous Rinkeby Centrum arch.
It's bustling on a Friday evening with elderly men sitting on benches, chatting and watching passersby, young people making their way to and from the nearby gym and families heading out to eat in the Pakistani restaurant or pizzeria.
In this neighbourhood where many of the residents are first, second or third generation migrants, she passes people from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chile, Syria, Turkey and the country where she was born, Somalia.
A nursery teacher during the day, Ardo is a well-known face around here and her orange jacket a familiar sight.
She is one of the neighbourhood's night patrol mothers, a group of Somali mothers and grandmothers who, following the deaths of several boys in gang-related violence in the area, decided to act.
Every Friday and Saturday night, they put on their orange jackets and walk through the community in groups of two or three.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Abu Ayub Ansari, a prominent companion




HIS name shines on the horizon of Madinah. He was the first who offered full hospitality to Holy Prophet (peace and mercy of Allah be upon him) when he arrived in Madinah. Later he proved that he was not only an extraordinary host and a warrior, but also Katib-e-Wahi, a Hafiz Qur’an and a Faqih whose fatwas were trusted. Abu Ayub Ansari also served as imam of the Prophet’s Mosque during the Caliphate of Uthman bin Affan. He took part in all the famous battles including Badr, Ohud, Khandaq, Hunain, Khayber and Tabuk.

Abu Ayub Ansari belonged to Bani Najjar tribe. It was not a new relationship for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). His great-grandfather Hashem married a lady named Salma from Banu Najjar of Madinah, later he went to Shaam for trading and died at Ghazza and was buried there. Salma gave birth to a boy. Later when Thabet bin Manzar (father of Hassan bin Thabet) visited Makkah he informed Muttaleb about his brother Hashim’s marriage in Madinah and the birth of a boy. Muttaleb visited Madinah and brought his nephew. This boy was named Abdul Muttaleb, later to become the grandfather of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah the whole city erupted in jubilation with young boys and girls welcoming the Prophet (peace be upon him) with noble songs.

The residents stood on the way asking the Prophet to stay with them. The Prophet said, “I will stay at the place where my camel sits.” The camel moved for a while and sat at an open place. He asked whose house is nearby. Abu Ayub Ansari burst with joy and said: “This is my house, this is my house, I am here to serve you.” Asad bin Zararah took the camel to his house. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stayed at Abu Ayub’s house for about seven months until the Prophet’s Mosque was built on the open space where his camel had stopped. Thus Abu Ayub became the Prophet’s closest neighbor who always served him during his life. This house was later known as “Maktaba Aarif Hikmat Bey” about 10 meters from the present Bab Baqie of the Prophet’s Mosque.

It is reported that once Abu Bakr and Omar came out of their houses because of acute hunger. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also joined them and they went together to the house of Abu Ayub. He was filled with joy to see the honorable guests. He rushed to the garden and brought dates. He later slaughtered a goat and offered it to them. They ate it and thanked Almighty Allah for His great bounties. In the meantime Prophet (peace be upon him) took a piece of meat, placed it in a loaf and said, “Abu Ayub, take this to Fatimah, she has not tasted the like of this for days.”

Abu Ayub devoted his life and property for the sake of Islam and participated in most of the campaigns during and after the life of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). He was born in around 590 AD. He had three sons — Khalid, Ayub and Mohammed and a daughter named Umrah. Their descendants are found in Egypt, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

During the rule of Ameer Muawiya when a call was made for jihad against Constantinople, he raised his sword and participated in it. Though he was one of the favorites of the Holy Prophet, he preferred to leave Madinah and fight in distant lands for the sake of Islam. During this campaign he fell sick and instead of returning to Madinah he said before his death: “Convey my salaams to the Muslim army and tell them: ‘Abu Ayub urges you to penetrate deep into the enemy territory as far as you can so that you carry me (my dead body) with you and that you bury me under your feet at the walls of Constantinople.’”

Then he breathed his last. The Muslim army fulfilled the desire of the companion of the Messenger of God. They pushed back the enemy’s forces in attack after attack until they reached the walls of Constantinople. There they buried him.

Later, Ottoman Caliphs built nice tomb and a mosque. The locality is now called Ayub Sultan on the European part of Istanbul. Besides the grave of Abu Ayub Ansari there are 28 more companions buried in Turkey who laid their lives for the sake of Islam on this land. Ayub Sultan has become a sacred locality and many Ottoman caliphs were crowned at this place and later many nobles were buried near him.

This is a Hadith narrated by Abu Ayub Ansari (May Almighty Allah give him high ranks in Paradise), Allah’s Messenger said, “It is not lawful for a man to desert his Muslim brother for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first.”

Link

Thursday, 20 September 2018

I lost my mum to domestic violence but I won't let fear or racists keep me silent




At Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney's west, Islamic Burial Section 8 is by the telegraph tower and the train line.

As I pull over, I notice other people conversing quietly with God by the graves of their loved ones. It looks like a funeral has recently taken place. I remind myself, inna lillah wa inna illayhi raji'un: we belong to God and it is to Him we return.

I'm here to visit the grave of my mum, Salwa Haydar, who was just 45 years old when she was murdered by my father in 2015. She was preparing her dinner in the kitchen after a long day's work when he attacked her with a knife.

My sister, who was 18 at the time, fought him with her bare hands and was injured in the attack. My father's actions were cowardly, merciless and unrelenting: my mum died at the scene from about 30 stab wounds.

Arriving at my mother's resting place, I empty the vases that flank her tombstone and fill them with fresh water and blooms — daisies and dahlias — before turning to her neighbours.

In an adjacent row, 16-year-old Mahmoud Hrouk is buried. I take my spare flowers to him.

Mahmoud was sexually assaulted and murdered in 2015 by Aymen Turkmani who left his body in an abandoned house in Villawood. Turkmani was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Mahmoud's youthful face is never far from my thoughts — his funeral happened soon after my mum's and the sadness of their two stories seems to have fused in my mind.

I notice that the lilies by his tombstone are still in the bud. I think of his mum.

I then wander towards the back of Section 8, where, right by the fence line, lays baby Omaira: "Born without breath, but not without love".

Omaira died at 5 months' gestation when her pregnant mother was attacked by her abusive male partner. Omaira's tiny, humble grave has been decorated with pebbles and rainbow windmills. I remind myself to bring more flowers next time.

Children without parents, parents without children. Who else is here because of male violence? I ponder the question as I drive away with a heavy heart.

Why don't we talk more openly about the effects of male violence on our families? For Muslim women in particular, the answers are complex.

Recently, however, I've noticed a growing number of us are standing up to the forces that keep us quiet and I'm energised by the community's willingness to listen.

The double bind Muslim women find ourselves in
In its ongoing series, ABC News has been investigating the role of religion in influencing the behaviour of perpetrators and victims of domestic violence in different faith communities.

The most recent piece reported on the confusion and harm being caused by popular translations of verse 4:34 in the Quran, which some Islamic scholars argue permits men to beat "disobedient" wives.

Such interpretations hinder the work being done by Muslims to tackle gender-based violence. Meanwhile, contemporary, non-violent interpretations of the same verse have not yet gained consensus.



Full article

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

In my homeland of Pakistan, women aren’t seen as people




In Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, a 14-year-old girl is abducted by a gang while out with her cousins to fetch water from a nearby well. She is then made to parade naked through her own neighborhood in Garahmat Village.

It’s later found out that the reason behind all this cruelty is a century old one: honor.

The girl’s brother had been engaged in a love affair with another woman from the village. When the village council found out, they ruled that the sister of the fornicator be punished for her brother’s sins.

nother such incident took place in Multan, Pakistan, where a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped by the men of another family, residing in the same village as her. And just like the first incident, this tear-jerking one was a matter of family honor.

The teen victim’s brother had raped a 12-year-old girl.

Following that assault, the members of the victim’s family decided that the fitting punishment was to brutally rape the sister of the perpetrator, too.

When will this abhorrent mentality of revenge-rape come to an end?

I simply don’t understand why the lives of women are ruined for the faults of their family members. For as long as I can remember, women in Pakistan have been known more as the flag bearers of the family name than their own person. They are treated like badges if they achieve something in life, and stains if anyone around them dares to break the norm. We are NOT anyone’s possessions.

Why burden us by linking everyone else’s honor to us?

In rural areas of Pakistan, women’s bodies are treated like battlegrounds to resolve disputes.

The brash village councils (panchayats) ruin thousands of lives every single day despite not even being registered as proper judicial establishments. These councils are usually run by the utterly inhumane and illiterate “elders” of the village and are not bound by any rule of law. These so-called leaders can do whatever they want, to anyone at any given time.

And they are not at all fearful because they are fully aware of the prevailing lawlessness in Pakistan.

They know that if anyone dares to lodge a single complaint against them at a local police station, all it will take to close the case forever is a few thousand rupees worth of bribe money in the already-brimming pockets of the police station’s head.

The plights of our women are trivialized by everyone around them. They are told to “get over it” and “just pray no one finds out” so they can live happy lives.

But thankfully, our media is now active enough to come to the rescue of women who have had to bear with such atrocities.  And like countless others, these women’s voices found solace in confiding to the media.

Our inefficient Pakistani authorities finally took notice of these heinous acts and detained the allegedly involved men.

Rape, in the 21st century, continues to be one of the greatest fears of women in my dear country.

Women fear their voices will be muffled to a point where they lose all sense of self and let go of the reins of their lives, altogether. They know that no person around them will have the balls to defend their honor.

Instead, she will be belittled over and over again for something that was completely out of her control.

Men from her vicinity will refuse to be seen around her and so all her chances at a normal life will cripple because of the quest of every man on Earth to find his own pure little Virgin Mary.

The revenge factor in these rapes will become non-existent the day all potential perpetrators realize that society will let women integrate regardless of what has happened to them in the past.

And this will only happen if men and their families stop making women feel like trash because of something that’s completely out of their control. They need to see beyond girls’ pasts and must get to know them for who they really are in lieu of baselessly passing judgments.

Trust me, this is the only thing survivors of rape need and it CAN be done. So play your part: stop labeling them as baggage, and start letting them thrive.

For if a woman grows, so does an entire generation.


Link

Monday, 17 September 2018

Never Judge People By their Appearance | Nouman Ali Khan |



Important message from Ustadh NAK. Look at peoples deeds, actions and intentions. Do not concern yourself with the external and superficial.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Happy Islamic New Year


“The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve (in a year). So ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred: That is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves therein.” (At-Tawbah: 36)

While all of us know the names of months as January, February, March,..., they belong to Roman or Julian calendar. Most people are not aware of the names of Isamic months and the Islamic calendar.

As mentioned in the Qur'anic verse above, we have 12 months as well, based on the lunar calendar.

"They ask thee, (O Muhammad), of new moons. Say: They are fixed seasons for mankind and for the pilgrimage…" (Al-Baqarah 2:189)

So what are the names of the Islamic months?

Muharram
Safar
Rabi' al-awwal (Rabi' I)
Rabi' al-thani (Rabi' II)
Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I)
Jumada al-thani (Jumada II)
Rajab
Sha'ban
Ramadan
Shawwal
Dhu al-Qi'dah
Dhu al-Hijjah

I have copied the names along with the links from Islam Awareness Homepage.

We have just started the year 1440 A.H. A.H. stands for After Hijrah. The dating of the Islamic years was introduced by the second caliph, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, in 638 CE (16 AH) in an attempt to circumvent all the various conflicting dating systems used during his time. After consulting his companions, he set the Hijrah—the flight of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah—as the most appropriate reference to the new Islamic era. The Hijrah, historically speaking, is the central event of early Islam, the turning point in Islamic history that led to the foundation of the first Muslim state.

Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, its year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year. This means that Muslim months fall in different seasons. For example, Ramadan and Hajj can fall in the summer as well as in the winter. It takes about 33 years for the Islamic dates to rotate through the solar seasons.

So what are these sacred months Allah عزّ وجلّ refers to? According to the authentic traditions are the months of Zhul Qa’dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, has declared:

“One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Zhul Qa’dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”

The Holy Prophet  has said:

“The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.”

Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most reward-able ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.

So lets plan to learn the names of Islamic months this year and hopefully we will learn more about Islam and Qur'an this way.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The dark secret of Thailand’s child brides




 Absolutely disgraceful, we fail our own children.:(
The legal loophole has also created what Thai children’s rights activist Anchana Heemmina described as the “big business of cross-border marriage” – Malaysian men crossing into southern Thailand to easily engage in underage or polygamous marriages for which getting approval in Malaysia would be impossible or a very lengthy process.
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Mohammad Lazim runs one such business, helping arrange cross-border marriages for Malaysian men. He works with more than 50 bridegrooms a year, mainly wanting a second or third wife – but insists never with underage brides. He says that his business is tiny compared with some.
“People come from all over Malaysia to do this,” he said. “Business is booming: instead of applying to a sharia court in Malaysia and answering all their difficult questions – a process that takes sometimes a year – the shortcut is to come to Thailand. Here there is no law.”
The practice is also particularly lucrative for imams practising on the Thai side of the Golok river, who charge four times as much to conduct a marriage for a visiting Malaysian as they do for people from their own community. In Malaysia, Che Abdul Karim would have found it difficult or impossible to obtain permission to marry Ayu; in Thailand, he simply paid the imam 4,500 baht (£105), and it was done. He has since been fined 1,800 Ringgit (£340) in a sharia court in Malaysia after pleading guilty to polygamy and conducting the marriage without the court’s permission.
Wannakanok Pohitaedaoh was forced into a violent marriage when young and now runs Luk Riang, a children’s shelter in Narathiwat. She said: “The biggest problem with child marriage in Thailand is that nobody wants to talk about it – not the Islamic Council, not the imams and not the government. It has always been swept under the rug, and that’s where they want it to stay.”
Her opposition is deeply personal. Wannakanok, now 34, was just 13 when she was forced into marriage by her parents and says the experience “haunts my soul to this day”.
“When he asked me to have sexual intercourse, I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t even know really what that meant, so I refused, and then he raped me,” she said, sobbing at the memory. “He was very violent and every time he wanted to have intercourse, he would use violence. We were living at home, and my parents would hear me screaming.
“And it was the same for so many of my friends. Many of my friends who were 12 or 13 had been married to men who were a lot older than them, maybe in their 30s or 40s. But the girls were young like me and didn’t want sex, so violence was very common. We had no idea about sex at that age.”

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Jewish Woman Wanted To See Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)



I'm reading this wonderful scholar's book 'The first Muslim' at the moment and would very much reccomend it.