Thursday 30 March 2023

Uncle who murdered niece and dumped body 'like rubbish' jailed for life



An uncle who murdered his 20-year-old niece before dumping her body "like rubbish" has been ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years of a life sentence behind bars.

Repair man Mohammed Taroos Khan, 53, killed Somaiya Begum in an attack at her home in Binnie Street, Bradford, on June 25 last year, Bradford Crown Court was told.

Her decomposing body was found 11 days later wrapped in a rug, tied up with string, on land used as a dumping ground on Fitzwilliam Street, Bradford.

Prosecutor Jason Pitter KC  said she was “dumped and left to rot and decompose on wasteland like rubbish, such that she was not recognisable”.

He said her body was so decomposed it was not possible to find a cause of death but there was an 11cm long metal spike embedded in her chest which had punctured her lung.

Miss Begum had been living at the property with another of her uncles and her grandmother under the terms of a forced marriage protection order, following attempts by her father, Mohammed Yaseen Khan, to force her to marry a cousin from Pakistan “by threat of violence”, a jury heard.

However, the judge refused to speculate on the motive behind the brutal killing.

Khan had denied murder but admitted a charge of perverting the course of justice by disposing of Miss Begum’s body and burning her mobile telephone.

However, he was found guilty of murdering her on Tuesday.

Sentencing Khan to life in prison on Wednesday, Mr Justice Garnham said: “It is not possible to identify a motive for this dreadful attack by you on an innocent young woman.

“It is said you did not support her forced marriage to the cousin in Pakistan.

“It is said you did not share the view of your brother, Yaseen, about the role of women or the obligation of Somaiya to obey her father.

“Moreover, it is pure speculation to consider whether this murder was part of some appalling family agreement.”

He told Bradford Crown Court: “All that matters for present purposes is that the jury have found you guilty of the heinous crime of murder.

“I decline to speculate on your motive and I reject the prosecution’s suggestion that I should treat this as any form of so-called honour killing."

The grey-haired defendant sat in the glass-fronted dock wearing a grey fleece and a black body-warmer and flanked by two security officers as the judge outlined the callousness with which he disposed of his niece’s body.

Mr Justice Garnham told him: “You showed absolutely no respect for the dead body of your niece in the way you dumped it unceremoniously, wrapped in carpet and covered in scrap material, amongst rubbish on waste ground.

“You left it there to rot in the summer heat and, when it was found, Somaiya’s face had been eaten away by maggots.

“Inevitably the loss of this bright, vibrant young woman is felt acutely by other members of her family.”

The judge described Miss Begum as “an intelligent young woman of real spirit and courage” and recalled that her uncle, Dawood Khan, had referred to her in court as the “light of his life”.

The jury heard that Miss Begum’s family had already been split in two by a previous dispute before her father’s attempts to force her to marry when she was 16.


Thursday 23 March 2023

Fasting: Training for the Believer


It is only natural that fasting should be decreed to the nation that is duty bound to launch a campaign to establish the Islamic way of life that Allah has laid down for mankind, to call people to accept it, and to testify against them in respect of their attitudes to it. Fasting is a manifestation of man’s determined will and his relationship with his Lord, which is based on total obedience and submission to Him. Fasting is also a demonstration of man’s deliberate disregard of all his physical needs. He willingly forgoes these needs in order to achieve his aim of winning the pleasure of Allah and earning His reward. These are necessary elements in the training of the believers so that they are able to bear the pressures and hardships of the way they have chosen. It is the thorny way, full of obstacles. 

On both sides of it there are all sorts of pleasures and temptations that beckon the travelers, trying to force them off their course. We may add also that fasting has numerous advantages for health that continue to be discovered as time passes. I am personally not inclined to relate religious duties and directives, especially in matters of worship, to their apparent physical advantages. The underlying purpose of all such duties and directives is to equip man adequately to fulfill his role in his life and to prepare him for the achievement of the standard of perfection designed for him in the hereafter. Nevertheless, I do not deny any benefit that we may observe or that scientists may discover to result from the fulfillment of such religious duties and directives. It goes without saying that Allah takes into consideration the physical constitution of man before He lays down his duties for him. We must not, however, relate our religious duties solely to what our human knowledge discovers. Our knowledge is, after all, limited and cannot comprehend fully the divine wisdom behind everything that relates to man and his education and training, let alone comprehend everything that relates to the universe.

Allah realizes that man requires help and motivation in order to respond to duty and fulfill it regardless of its benefits. It takes time for man to get used to a certain duty and to be convinced of its wisdom. Hence, the decree of fasting starts with the address made to the believers, which reminds them of their essential quality, that is, their belief in Allah. They are then told that fasting has always been a duty required of the believers in all religions. Its principal aim is their education and training so that their hearts acquire a high standard of sensitivity and purity and that the fear of Allah is well established in them: (Believers, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.) To fear Allah, then, is the great aim of fasting that looms large before our eyes. As the believers fulfill this duty, in total obedience to Allah and in pursuit of His pleasure, they feel the quality of fearing Allah to be a life within them. 


This is, indeed, the quality that guards their hearts against spoiling their fasting by indulging in sin. Those who are addressed by the Qur’an are fully aware of the value Allah attaches to this quality of fearing Allah and being conscious of Him. Its acquirement is something for which they yearn. Fasting is a tool with which it is achieved, or we may say, a way that leads to it. Hence, the Qur’an raises it before them as a noble objective that they try to achieve through fasting. They are then told that fasting is prescribed only for a certain number of days. It is not to be practiced every day in their lives. Exempted from it, however, are the ill until they have recovered, and the travelers until they have settled: ((Fast) a certain number of days. But whoever of you is ill, or on a journey, shall fast instead the same number of days later on.) Taken at its face value, the statement concerning the exemption of the ill and the travelers is general, unrestricted. Hence any illness or journey is a good reason for exemption from fasting, provided that compensation is made when the case that justifies the exemption no longer obtains. This is my understanding of this general, unqualified Qur’anic statement. Moreover, it is more in line with the Islamic concept of relieving the strain and causing no hardship. The exemption is not related to the severity of the illness or the hardship of the journey; it is related to sickness and traveling generally. The purpose of the exemption is that it is Allah’s wish to make things easy, not hard, for man. We cannot claim to have full knowledge of the divine wisdom behind relating this exemption to sickness and traveling generally. There may be some considerations known to Allah and unknown to man in these two cases. There may be some hardships that may not immediately appear to us or we may tend to overlook. Since Allah has not attached this exemption to any particular reason, we refrain from making any judgment concerning it. We obey any statement Allah has made, even if its wisdom does not appear immediately to us. 

What is certain is that there is a wisdom behind it, although we may not necessarily recognize it. Some people may fear that such an opinion may cause people to be lax or to neglect their worship duties for any reason. Indeed, this is what has prompted Islamic scholars to adopt a more strict attitude and to lay down conditions. This argument, however, does not justify, in my opinion, attaching any restrictions to an unqualified statement made by Allah. Islam does not compel people to be obedient. Its method is to implant in them the fear of Allah so that they obey Him. The acquirement of the quality of fearing Allah is the particular aim of this type of worship. He who tries to make use of a certain concession made by Allah in order to evade fulfilling a duty is, in the first place, devoid of goodness. With such an attitude, the aim behind the religious duty cannot be fulfilled. We must not forget that Islam is a religion laid down by Allah, not man-made. Allah knows best that this religion achieves a perfect balance between the relaxation of certain duties and strict adherence to duty. A certain exemption or concession may serve a certain interest that cannot be served otherwise. Indeed, this must be the case. Hence, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has ordered Muslims to make use of the concessions and exemptions Allah has allowed them. If it so happens that people in a particular generation have become corrupt, their reform cannot be achieved through an extra-strict application of Allah’s rules, but through their education and motivation to acquire the quality of fearing Allah. 

If a strict application of the rules that govern human transactions may be used as a deterrent or as a means to prevent evil when corruption spreads, the same cannot be applied to matters of worship. Worship is a relationship between man and His Lord that has no direct effect on the interests of human beings, in the same way as the rules governing human transactions have. Appearances in matters of worship are irrelevant, unless worship is based on fearing Allah. If this quality is present, no one would try to evade a duty or utilize a concession except when he is fully satisfied that making use of it is preferable, in obedience to Allah, in the particular case in which he finds himself. A strict application of the rules that govern acts of worship generally or a tendency to restrict the exemptions that have not been qualified originally may cause some people to refrain from using them when they need them. Moreover, it has little effect in checking those who want to be evasive. It is far better to handle matters in whatever way Allah has made clear to us. He has far more wisdom than us and He knows best the interests, immediate and not so immediate, served by all His rules that lay down duties or relax them. As for the exemption from fasting in cases of illness, it appears to me that the exemption applies to every case that may be reasonably described as illness, regardless of its nature or intensity. It is compulsory for anyone who makes use of this exemption to compensate for the days of Ramadan that he does not fast because of illness or traveling. Each day is compensated for by fasting one day at any time during the year [except for those days in which fasting is originally prohibited such as the two `eids]. The weightier opinion is that there is no need to fast on consecutive days when one fasts in compensation for the days he did not in Ramadan. By Sayed Qutb

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Wednesday 22 March 2023

Ramadan: The Month of Mercy to Muslims


Mercy is a favor from Allah that He puts in the hearts of whomsoever He wills of His servants. Verily, Allah will have mercy on His servants who show mercy to others, as He is the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful. He loves the merciful and calls to mercy. He orders His servants to enjoin patience and mercy. A person may lack mercy for some reasons, such as the abundance of sins and disobedience. This is because sins stain people’s hearts to the extent that they ultimately blind them until their hearts become harder than stones. 

 Allah, speaking about the Children of Israel, says: {And yet, after all this, your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder}. (2: 74) Allah also says about them when they opposed and rebelled against the Divine law: {Then, for having broken their solemn pledge, We rejected them and caused their hearts to harden}. (5: 13) Among the things that cause a loss of mercy is arrogance with wealth and pride with riches. Allah says: {Nay, verily, man becomes grossly overweening whenever he believes himself to be self-sufficient}. (96: 6-7) The day the heart is disciplined with faith and good deeds it fills with mercy and kindness. Another reason for the weakness of mercy is the abundance of gluttony and saturation, because they give rise to contempt and recklessness. Hence, the month of fasting was prescribed to crush this unruliness and ill discipline. The fasting person is naturally among the most merciful people. That is because he has tasted hunger, experienced thirst, and endured hardship. Therefore, his soul is enveloped with mercy, care and gentleness for Muslims. 

 Mercy is something that every Muslim is required to show to his brother Muslim. It is a requirement from every responsible custodian toward those under his care. He should feel sorry for them and be lenient towards them. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said: “O Allah! Whoever is entrusted with authority over any affair of the Muslims and made it difficult for them, make it difficult for him. And whoever is entrusted over any affair of the Muslims and is kind towards them, be kind towards him.” 

 In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, also said: “Whoever oversees an affair for my nation and disappeared or abandoned them without fulfilling their needs while impoverishing them, Allah will debar him from his needs and impoverish him on the Day of Judgement.” Mercy demands that the scholar and teacher should be gentle toward his students and lead them to the easiest and best ways to love him and benefit from his teachings. If he does this Allah will decree for him the most excellent and abounding reward. Listen to the manner in which Allah praises His Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him: {And it was by God’s grace that thou [O Prophet] didst deal gently with thy followers: for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee}. (3: 159) 

Mercy further requires from the imam that he should not make worship difficult for his followers or cause them harm. On the contrary, he should be merciful, kind and wise. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever leads the people in prayer must make it easy because among them are the old, the sick, the young and the needy.” It was narrated that when Mu`adh once extended the prayer the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said to him: “Are you a troublemaker O Mu`adh? Are you a troublemaker O Mu`adh? Are you a troublemaker O Mu`adh?” In the same manner, when `Uthman Ibn Abu Al-`As Ath-Thaqafi requested: ‘O Messenger of Allah, make me an Imam of my people.’

 The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘You are their Imam so lead the prayer according to the weakest of them and take a caller to prayer who would seek no payment for doing so.’ Mercy dictates that the one who calls to Islam must advise those whom he is inviting with tenderness. That he should, moreover, clarify issues to them with concern. He should not hurt, defame people or even revile the disobedient in public. Allah advised Moses and Aaron to employ the following methods in their call to the tyrant Pharaoh: {But speak unto him in a mild manner, so that he might bethink himself or [at least] be filled with apprehension}. (20: 44) He also says: {Call thou [all mankind] unto thy Sustainer’s path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner}. (16: 125) 

The eminent jurist and Islamic scholar, Imam Ash-Shafi`i wrote: Support me with your advice in private, and avoid advising me in public. Surely giving advice among the people is a kind of reproach, which I would rather not listen to. If you disobey and ignore my wish, don’t be saddened if you are not obeyed. Mercy is required from a father to his children. The mercy of the father or mother towards their children has the greatest effect on their integrity, well-being and obedience. Self-praise and harshness only open the door to despair. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Kindness was never bestowed upon something except that it beautified it, and it was never removed from that thing except that it made it ugly.” O you who fast and cause hunger to your stomach, there are thousands of stomachs more awaiting a meal. Will there not arise from amongst you those who would feed them? O you who fast and cause thirst to your liver, there are thousands more who await a mouthful of water. Will there not arise from amongst you those who would quench their thirst? O you who fast and wear the finest garments, there are naked people out there awaiting only a piece of cloth to cover their bodies. Will there not then come forth from amongst you those who would clothe them? O Allah! We implore to you to bestow on us your extended mercy that will forgive our sins and erase our misdeeds and errors. 

By Sheikh `Aa’id `Abdullah Al-Qarni

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Tuesday 21 March 2023

Huge fire at Rohingya refugee camp leaves thousands without shelter


An estimated 12,000 Rohingya have been left without shelter after a fire tore through part of a cramped refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Sunday, destroying health centres, learning facilities and mosques.

The fire broke out at Camp 11 of Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, which is home to more than 1 million Rohingya refugees, including 700,000 who fled their home country, Myanmar, after a brutal military crackdown in 2017.

Tin Lwin, whose home was destroyed in the blaze, said the fire began at about 2.40pm on Sunday afternoon. His two young children were out playing at the time, he said, adding that it was two hours before the family was reunited. “There was a huge crowd. I was also busy trying to save my house,” he said. “It was a very bad time.”

The family spent Monday morning cleaning the burned debris that was once their shelter, and fixing a temporary roof. “We are still in fear, honestly, that this might set fire again. There is no safety or security here,” he said.



Monday 20 March 2023

Hadith: Good Neighbours


The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "By God, he does not believe!..." When asked who he was referring to, the Prophet replied: "That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his (or her) evil." Sahih Al-Bukhari 

Friday 10 March 2023

India: Why Muslim women are at risk of losing it all


Amid the desk-thumping cheers of the lower house of the Indian parliament, detrimental decisions were rattled off as part of the 2023 budget process this month, marking yet another step towards disempowering Muslims in the country. This is the same house where the ruling right-wing government often fashions itself as the messiah of Muslim women, even as they endure a potentially devastating assault on their social, economic and political rights.

Amongst myriad cuts to budgets affecting minorities and women, the government has cut funding to help students from minority communities pass preliminary exams, while slashing the budget for madrassas.

From the right to choose what to wear, to the right to education and work, Indian Muslim women are at risk of losing it all

From the right to choose what to wear, to the right to education and work, Indian Muslim women are at risk of losing it all. Yet, despite this urgency, the public outcry is not nearly as pronounced as it should be.

Ongoing global debates around the right to education (in the context of Afghanistan) and the freedom to choose how to dress (in the context of Iran) have comfortably ignored Indian Muslim women - and this is hardly a new phenomenon.

Backlash against the Taliban, one would like to believe, stems from their clear negation of women’s rights. Yet, much of the international outcry actually stems from the legacy of US military intervention in Afghanistan and the Orientalist inclination to “save” Muslim women.

Along the same lines, the leader of India’s right-wing government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, insists that he has “freed” Muslim women. But Muslim women - fearless and with their fists raised - would disagree.

She stood alone, fearless and veiled head-to-toe, heckled by men in saffron scarves. This is how Muskan Khan, the “poster girl” for last year’s hijab-ban protests in the Indian state of Karnataka, subverted the stereotypical representation of a Muslim woman in the Indian imagination.

She was educated and indomitable, a subversion of the essentialised label of victimhood accorded to Indian Muslim women that is often incorrectly blamed exclusively on Muslim men. A year later, women like Muskan are facing the brunt of the Indian state’s harmful legislation, as well as a climate of violence and intimidation.

Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani was among many admirers of the newly released budget, which she praised for its focus on “inclusive development”. Ironically, the government has significantly slashed the budget of the ministry she heads - and the scale of these cuts is hard to ignore.

For minority educational empowerment, the budget allocation has been reduced from Rs 2,515 crores ($304m) to Rs 1,689 crores ($204.5m). The allocation for skills development and livelihoods was cut by 99 percent, while incentives for free coaching and other allied schemes were reduced by around 60 percent.

Indian Muslims have been fashioned within the Indian nation-state through a legacy and language of violence

This follows a trend that started last year. In December, the government discontinued the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, a scholarship for students from minority communities pursuing higher education. The fellowship was initially implemented more than a decade ago upon the recommendations of the Sachar committee, which highlighted the abysmal state of social, economic and educational conditions for Muslims in India.

Such steps are incongruous with government data. Indian Muslims continue to have relatively low access to education, particularly with regards to higher education, where enrolment numbers for Muslim students have been on the decline. Muslim students also tend to rely more on government institutions than non-Muslims. With little-to-no government support, students from Muslim communities will find it increasingly difficult to access education.

Interestingly, the enrolment of Muslim women in higher education has been growing in proportion to that of Muslim men. But this discouraging package of legislation is set to undo these strides, compounding the disadvantageous position that Muslim women in India occupy within the matrix of their religious, gender and class identities.

The ruling government insists that Muslim women “feel safe” under the BJP, and in justifying the hijab ban, it asserted that “misguided” Muslim women need to be brought into the “mainstream of education”.

If this is the case, why are Muslim women dropping out of colleges in Karnataka? A recent report by the Karnataka branch of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties found that more than 1,000 female Muslim students dropped out of schools in five districts during the hijab row.

The fallout of anti-Muslim legislation is not restricted to Muslims from economically underprivileged backgrounds; there is also an ongoing exodus of urban Muslims. Many young Muslims, especially women, are finding that safe public spaces are disappearing for them. Muslim women have been targeted through sexist mock “auctions”, while also facing significant hiring biases.

This wholesale assault is a recipe to intimidate and disempower Muslim women in India, buttressed by a culture of communalised rhetoric, in which convicted rapists are prematurely released and go on to receive a hero’s welcome. A language of intimidation, along with open calls for violence against Muslim women, are being normalised by mainstream news media, popular culture and vigilante internet trolls. Hate is being manufactured here.

The tepid reactions to this urgent crisis show that the foundations from which this project draws its strength are not new. Indian Muslims have been fashioned within the Indian nation-state through a legacy and language of violence, wherein Muslim women exist only as victims who need to be saved from violent Muslim men, or as sexualised objects on which wars of religious nationalism are to be played out.

In videos about the Karnataka hijab controversy, while Muslim teachers had to remove their veils before entering schools and Muslim students who refused to do so were sent home, the only woman allowed to exist on her own terms was a teacher imposing “discipline”. She wore a sari and a bindi - the only acceptable image of an “Indian” woman in the populist imagination. 


Thursday 9 March 2023

Sha`ban Fasting: Any Specific Days?


No doubt that Muslims are urged to strive hard in getting close to Allah with all forms of acts of worship; they should take that as a top priority. However, they are instructed that whatever they do, they should not deviate from the teachings and principles set by the noble Prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He has set for us a shinning model that we should follow in order to keep firm on the right path. Therefore it’s very important for a committed Muslim to make sure that his acts of worship have basis both in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In this regard, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al- Qaradawi states: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was keen on fasting in the month of Sha`ban more than he was in other months. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never fasted for a whole month except in Ramadan. This refutes what some people do; observing fast for three consecutive months: Rajab, Sha`ban and Ramadan, followed by six days of Shawwal . That is, they start fasting at the beginning of Rajab until the seventh of Shawwal, leaving nothing but the Day of `Eidul-Fitr.

 Neither the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) nor his Companions or even their successors were reported to have done so. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast some days of every month. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sometimes would observe fasting continuously, to the extent that his Companions thought he would never break fast, and in other times he would refrain from fasting to the extent that they thought he would never fast again. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) usually observed fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and three days of each month (the 13th , 14th and 15th). He sometimes used to fast every alternate day, following the pattern of Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him). He even made this clear: “The best way of fasting in Allah’s sight is that of Dawud, who used to observe fasting every alternate day.” 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to observe fasting in Sha`ban more than he did in other months. This was a kind of self-preparation for the coming of Ramadan; that is, to act as some sort of girding oneself for Ramadan. But there are no textual evidence that there are specific days in Sha`ban in which fasting is commendable. It is, by and large, impermissible for one to prefer certain days to observe voluntary fasting or certain nights to perform Night Prayers, lacking any juristic basis for that action. Religious acts are not left for man’s whims. Rather, they are subject to Divine legislation. Thus, specifying certain times and places for worship and the description of different acts of worship are the matters of the Divine, not that of human.

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