December 5, 2006, - 4:37 pm

The Farting Lady vs. The Flying Imams: No in-Airport Smell-Ins for the Flatulently Profiled

By Debbie Schlussel
Who would make you feel less safe on a flight?:
a) a farting lady with body odor due to a medical condition beyond her control; or
b) six extremist Muslim imams who imitate the 9/11 hijackers, ask for seatbelt extenders that could be used to strangle passengers, take unauthorized seating patterns suitable for hijacking, verbally attack America, and have ties to HAMAS, Al-Qaeda, and other groups whose raison d’etre is “Death to America.”
I’d pick the smelly chick. Personally, I’ve been on planes with flatulent passengers, and it smells putridly bad. I’ve had to put my nose under my crewneck collar and smell mint balm (before terrorists kept us from taking that on the plane, outside of a quart-sized bag).
But, still, I’d pick the smelly chick. Why? Well, for one thing, I like a couple of hours or more of malodor far more than I like death.
But that’s not what American Airlines and the FBI think. Nope. US Airways hasn’t banned the flying imams. Nor has any airline (though we’d bet they never set foot on El-Al). Yet, a woman who lit a match on American Flight 1053 from Reagan National to Dallas/Fort Worth is banned forever from American.
The woman farted and had body odor. She lit the match to conceal the smell. Then, there are the lying, flying, scheming, whining, disruptive, disobeying, belligerent imams. They did all the things outlined above and in this letter by US Airways Flight 300 passenger Pauline Klemmer. They were testing the system, conducting a dry run, or who knows what else. Either way, they were deliberately jeopardizing our safety.
And the anonymous woman from American 1053 wasn’t trying to do any of those things. She has a foul-smelling medical condition and was just trying to save other passengers’ olfactory senses and sensibilities.
Who’s more dangerous? We know the answer. And it isn’t the woman banned by American, questioned by the FBI and TSA, and very embarrassed even though we don’t know her name.
Nope, the dangerous are the brazen Islamic men who don’t care about our noses or any other organ. They cheer on those who would murder us. And unlike them, we don’t see the farting lady with the medical condition holding a smell-in at Reagan National to show us how the malodorous are wrongly profiled when they are “Flying While Smelly.”
Yet, the FBI is questioning the farting lady. And American’s banning her. And the Flying Imams live to fly another day, another day when they make sure we don’t live to fly another day.
I’ll take a stinkbomb over their real bomb on my flight, any day.

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28 Responses

You honestly sicken me. The only person that seems to be a “lying, flying, scheming, whining, disruptive, disobeying, belligerent” IS YOU. I can’t believe how much hate you have towards the Islamic community. I have never seen anything more pathetic. All of your hate towards Muslims just makes you seem more immature with every word you’ve written. And this is coming from a 15 year old girl. People like you are the reason this world will never see world peace. It’s disgusting.
I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time reading your pathetic articles.
You’re just another racist person full of hatred trying to hypnotize the minds of ignorant people, just so they can see things from your point of you. Your vulgar words in every article you’ve written are just lies running through the ears of close-minded idiots in this country.
I don’t see what could’ve made you hate a group of people so much. Maybe you should get help for that. It’s seriously sick. I can’t even believe people are supporting you. That’s the only thing more sickening than having to read your crap.
It’s sad that I’m writing this. I know arguing over the internet won’t make a better impact in your disgusting mind at all. I’m just glad our generation is learning to be more open-minded, and we won’t have to deal with this bullshit anymore. That’ll be the day.

Hajjar on December 5, 2006 at 7:20 pm

Yea Hajjar,
your Islamic allies have been real open minded this generation. There are more young homicide bombers now than there ever was in recent history. There are now more beeadings of christian boys and girls and church burnings around the world headed by young and old muslims alike, performing their dirty deads in the name of Islam. and here in America we have Imams who like to prey among american sensitivities and claim BS bigotry and racism when Americans report extremely daming evidence of suspicious behavior, and we have people like you defending these BS artists.
Go read your “tolerant” and “peaceful” (cough Cough) Quran and STFU. As a fifteen your old girl, I’m sure the part of Mohammud having relations with nine year old Aisha is something that gives you excitement as you type on your 55 year old husband’s computer.

Avatar on December 5, 2006 at 8:55 pm

Hajjar, it pains you and other Muslim extremists to see the truth of Debbie’s words. You and others of your ilk have stupidly assumed you can slowly and patiently exploit this country’s freedoms to your advantage. It ain’t working. There’s a big pot of whup-ass working to a slow boil in these here United States. If I was you, I wouldn’t want to be around when it finally boils over. Americans are the definition of tolerant, but we have our limits.

AynaydaPizaqvick on December 5, 2006 at 9:24 pm

Avatar, I’m not going to waste my time arguing with you.
You’re sick and ignorant. You’re talking out of your ass. SOME ARAB-AMERICANS HAPPEN TO AMERICANIZED. I’m not married, nor am i thinking about such a thing at my age. You should really read more. FROM BOTH POINT OF VIEWS, NOT JUST DEBBIEíS. All you do is waste your time hating Muslims. Itís pathetic. GET OUT AND GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE INSTEAD OF WASTING YOUR TIME READING ABOUT WHAT DEBBIE IS TRYING TO GET INTO YOUR HEAD. SHE OBVIOUSLY EXTENDS THE TRUTH AND MAKES THINGS MORE WORSE THEN THEY ACTUALLY ARE. You must be freaking blind not to see that.
Why is it when a Muslim person commits a crime, itís in the name of Islam? Even if it was, youíre still focused on thinking that Muslims are bad people. Look in the past, there are numerous of deaths caused by Christians and Jews, and for the same damn reason. Why donít you look into that more?
Respond all you want, Iím done.

Hajjar on December 5, 2006 at 9:28 pm

LMFAO THIS IS SO PATHETIC. YOU’RE ALL THE SAME. This is sad.

Hajjar on December 5, 2006 at 9:29 pm

I happen to love this country the way it is. There’s not one other religion here that ANYONE must accomdate. Yet praying Muslims expect me to give them space and respect while they go through their prayers, no matter where they are. Well, get a grip. It ain’t happening here. Learn to pray to your god without making a spectacle of yourself. If this is all so pathetic and if we are all the same, why don’t you move to the Middle East where you don’t have to see and hear us filthy infidels and you don’t have to have your landscape poisoned with sight of crosses rising from churches.

AynaydaPizaqvick on December 5, 2006 at 9:48 pm

I never said you didn’t love America. And neither did I. This country belongs to NO religion. That’s something EVERYONE needs to get through their head. Muslims have every right as everyone else. If we want to build mosques, why shouldn’t we? Christians have built churches in the past, and still are. Heck, isn’t there a church in EVERY neighborhood? What makes other religions better than ours? I’m not saying that Muslims are the better than everyone else, because i’m not judging upon religion like you seem to be doing. I judge people on there character, which something this country has lost touch with. Or maybe we never actually judged people by their character in the first place. Too bad, i guess. I don’t want to move to the Middle East, i happen to love it hear. And i’m not a close-minded moron, i wouldn’t mind seeing a few churches here and there, it wouldn’t kill me. Not one bit. It’s unbelievable that it’s bothering you this much to have people express their freedom of religion.
Oh, before i leave.. AIN’T IS NOT A WORD!

Hajjar on December 5, 2006 at 10:01 pm

first, i don’t need debbie to tell me how to think, i do that just fine by myself. and… oh, yea… i don’t agree with debbie… she agrees with me.
second, i don’t mind if you pray just as long as you don’t mind if i fart. i think i’ll be having a few chilli-cheese buritos and cheap beers before i fly next time… just in case.

piker on December 5, 2006 at 10:13 pm

Hajjar, you obviously haven’t gotten the memo. Any non-Muslim is bad, is an infidel, and should be wiped off the face of the earth. You may not mind seeing a few churches here and there, but your Arab brethren in other countries actually require high fences to be built around the few churches they allow there so they don’t have see them. It’s your “religion of peace” that is cutting off heads of infidels, flying planes into buildings, and teaching its children to hate Jews and other infidels. You have the head of Iran saying he’s going to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I have a mosque just down the street from me. I have some Muslim acquaintances. I’ve never heard any of them speak out against any of this. It appears to me that all of this is going on while so-called “moderate” Muslims look away out of fear. It is making all of us infidels very nervous in this country. If the majority of Muslims are peaceful, when are they going to take back their religion from the extremists? When you don’t speak out against the extremists and instead become unhinged because Debbie Schlussel speaks the truth, you have told me where you stand.

AynaydaPizaqvick on December 5, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Hajjar: You are obviously Lebanese or Syrian, so I’m going to make this short and not waste my time. If you think there’s too much hate in this country, fly back to wherever you came from. I’m sure in Lebanon or Syria, you’d find less hateful people. Shalom.

anonymous twit on December 5, 2006 at 10:51 pm

No Hajjar,
This isnt about ARAB-AMERICANS as you put it or muslims in general. It’s about Islam, a religion whose followers called Muslims (race being irrelevant) who feel they are above the law and deserve special treatment for the simple fact they are muslims.
Your are the blind and ignorant one. Christians and Jews do not kill in the name of their religion unlike your prophet mohammud and its followers 1600 years and counting.
Christianity and Judasim has reformed. Islam has not nor ever will becasue it is incapable of reforming. Jews do not look for special treatment like Muslims do in this country or any other hosted western country in the world they live in.
Muslims have only become masters in blaming Israel and western culture for all their problems.
And Debbie is not one to teach me about Islam and the worlds most intollerant religion. I leave that to Robert Spencer. Debbie just has an unbelievable abilty to research and find out all the facts about particular muslims that support hatred and intolerance of infidels day in and day out and the liberal western hating infidels and muslims alike who defend them.

Avatar on December 5, 2006 at 10:53 pm

Excellent blog. I didn’t quite agree with your other post about Citgo/Valero, but I can reach past that. :)
You’ve taken a lot of heat it looks like for this post… but that’s what the truth gets you sometimes.
I’d like to give the citizens who advised the flight staff of these men a pat on the back.

tradingnoise on December 6, 2006 at 12:52 am

Hajjar, I believe we are upset with Muslims purposefully training for another plane take-over or just doing a sick practical joke to stir up trouble.
Your rant is laughable. I wonder how Jewish people standing up on a UAE plane and stating Muslims are pigs would be accepted.
Hajjar, I got a suggestion for you. You will be closer to Allah if you stop swearing.
You will be a much happier person if you remove your head from your colon.

Hank Dagny on December 6, 2006 at 9:19 am

Let me get this straight.
None of the 6 Imams were smelly?

There is NO Santa Claus on December 6, 2006 at 9:39 am

Debbie, I have to disagree with you on this one.
You know, in Islam, farting is evil.
So if the Imams farted, they would’ve been punished, not by our secular American law, but by Sharia. It is a grave sin to fart in Islam because farting is from the Shaytan (Satan).
Read the following from the Hadith:
Sahih Moslem and Bukhary;
Abu Hurayra said, the prophet said;
” When the call for prayer is made, Satan turns around to leave farting very loud so that he would not hear the azan (call for prayer), When azan is finished Satan returns back……”
See? Satan farts very loud deliberately (and I’m sure its fart stinks) to avoid praying to Allah.
(Satan praying to Allah?? Umm)
Satan must have a deafening fart considering how loud the azan (call for prayer) usually is.
So if a Muslim farts, it is an escape route, a distraction if you will, caused by Satan and that farting smell can cause other fellow Muslims to run away from the Mosque. So the farting fella will not only invalidate his prayer but the prayer of his “brothers.”
Of course, not to mention the nauseated natural smell that is genetic to every Muslim, with or without farting.
I hope I got my point across and have a good fart, err, day!
Shit! That blog starts to smell!! :-)

Independent Conservative on December 6, 2006 at 10:09 am

The biggest problem is that alot of people on this site focus on gross generalizations. Think about this way…Islam has around 2 billion followers, right? Even if we took all the insurgents and terrorists in the middle east…ALL of them….there can’t be more than, and I’ll guess HIGH even…5 million. Now, that’s REAL high. So, 5 mil out of 2 bil….not so much. There are bad people that fight in the name of Islam. But all Muslims aren’t bad people because of it. Otherwise, we’d be really screwed by the 2 BILLION people that are Islamic.

FSM-FTW!(descent) on December 6, 2006 at 10:16 am

Independent Conservative, that is one of the best comments I’ve ever read on any blog; worthy of the Comment Hall of Fame.

AynaydaPizaqvick on December 6, 2006 at 10:19 am

Or, another interpretation, as you know there are many schools of thoughts in Islam:
Satan farted so loud to deafen Muhammad so he couldn’t hear the call for prayer.
Although I don’t think Satan’s fart was louder than the moaning of the slaves and “wives” Muhammad was “doing” as part of his “revelation” and “conversion” of his concubines to his new cult.
Islam is the only cult that I know of that started converting people in bed, by sex, through sex.
For those who don’t know, Muhammad “received parts of his revelation from Allah” while he was sitting on Khadiga’s lap, his so-called “wife.” And to verify the revelation, she asked him to switch from one thigh to the other.
You think I’m making this up?
Absolutely not. Every Muslims knows it. Go check it yourself.

Independent Conservative on December 6, 2006 at 10:27 am

Independent Conservative, that is one of the best comments I’ve ever read on any blog; worthy of the Comment Hall of Fame.
Posted by: AynaydaPizaqvick [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 6, 2006 10:19 AM
—————————————————-
Thank you brother.

Independent Conservative on December 6, 2006 at 10:31 am

Hajjir or Hajib or whatever your name is,
You don’t like to hear the truth and you especially don’t like to hear it coming from a woman. The flying freak imams are probably trying to undermine our travel security and we are on to you. You can call us all the names you want but we know what your death cult religion is all about. I think you should go on a plane with the freak imams and have to deal with their terrorizing all the passengers. Or, maybe we should put you and the imams and let the lady fart all over you.

CarpeDiem on December 7, 2006 at 4:52 am

Hello everybody,
First off all Killing innocent people is not an Ideal Muslim?s agenda, Christianity or for that matter any other religion. Islam is a religion of peace. U may mock me for that but it?s true. Just because some extremists kill innocent people you can’t blame the entire religion. I can completely understand how you would be feeling about Islam, especially when it is propagated by the wrong set of people. Mindless Killing is condemned in Islam. What we need is unity. Hating and degrading each other?s beliefs is not the solution. I respect your beliefs and thats what Islam teaches: tolerance that is not humiliating someone who defends his beliefs. I am from India and believe me you can all learn from us Indians. India has Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh other 18 different religions with a population of 1,129,866,154. We speak 31 different languages and thousand of dialects and I must say that?s huge. Come to India and you will be amazed how we live here. We treat each other like brothers. I have best friends who are Hindus, Muslims and Christians and expect for the name nothing else is different in us. We welcome all migrants with open arms because Indian Culture regards Hospitality in the highest regards. We never degrade any religion. I definitely feel to stop the racist poison from choking you to death in your misunderstandings you need to learn more about humanity.
Please read the following articles and I hope it opens your clogged up minds. (Especially your idiotic thoughts about forceful conversions) Please also visit this link in case you want to check your facts before you post your comments next time. About Islam For Today.com – for Westerners seeking a knowledge and understanding of Islam.
An in case , comments have hurt your feelings I sincerely apologize. I?m just being honest.
PS: – English is not my first language so please excuse the errors.
No offence, but Muslims love Jesus as much as Christians do
“The Muslim Jesus is not divine, but a humble servant of God. He was not crucified – Islam insists that the story of the killing of Jesus is false. He is, as it were, Jesus as he might have been without St Paul or St Augustine or the Council of Nicaea.”
By John Casey, Daliy Telegraph (London) 19 December 2001
Some years ago, an agnostic friend of mine married a Jewish woman who practised her faith seriously. He took instruction in Judaism and seemed quite likely to convert – but eventually did not. His chief reason was that he remained agnostic. But there was another obstacle that surprised even himself: “I found that I just did not want to give up Jesus.”
In European culture, there is no getting away from Jesus even if you are agnostic. True, Nietzsche tried to reject him with detestation and contempt, calling him an “idiot”, a purveyor of a sick, decadent view of the world. Nietzsche thought that the only figure in the New Testament who commands respect is Pontius Pilate. Yet the very ferocity of Nietzsche’s onslaught on Jesus showed how strong in his heart was the image he wanted to destroy.
Now, what if my friend had married a Muslim? The interesting thing is that he could have kept Jesus – not the Jesus who was the Son of God, admittedly, and who was crucified, but certainly the Jesus who was Messiah and miracle worker, who conversed regularly with God, who was born of a virgin and who ascended into heaven.
Jesus is referred to quite often in the Koran, six times under the title “Messiah”. Yet I had long supposed that the importance of Jesus as prophet in Muslim tradition was not much more than a matter of lip-service, something to which Muslims gave (to use Cardinal Newman’s distinction) “notional” rather than “real” assent.
This impression was strengthened when I went to Ur of the Chaldees in southern Iraq and visited the so-called house of Abraham. It is only a few piles of sun-baked mud bricks, but you would have expected hundreds of Muslim Arabs to be visiting the birth-place of their Patriarch. I saw none – whereas the shrines of Muslim martyrs in Najaf and Kerbala were thronged. I assumed, therefore, that Jesus must be a marginal figure in the Muslim world.
How wrong this assumption was I have learnt by reading a fascinating and instructive book, The Muslim Jesus, by the Cambridge academic Tarif Khalidi. Professor Khalidi has brought together, from a vast range of sources, most of the stories, sayings and traditions of Jesus that are to be found in Muslim piety from the earliest times.
The Muslim Jesus is an ascetic, a man of voluntary poverty, humility and long-suffering. He literally turns the other cheek, allowing his face to be slapped twice in order to protect two of his disciples. He teaches the return of good for evil: “Jesus used to say, ‘Charity does not mean doing good to him who does good to you . . . Charity means that you should do good to him who does you harm.’ ” He loves the poor and embraces poverty: “The day Jesus was raised to heaven, he left behind nothing but a woollen garment, a slingshot and two sandals.” He preaches against attachment to worldly things: “Jesus said, `He who seeks worldly things is like the man who drinks sea water: the more he drinks, the more thirsty he becomes, until it kills him.’ ”
Many of the sayings of the Muslim Jesus are clearly derived from Biblical sources – “Place your treasures in heaven, for the heart of man is where his treasure is”; “Look at the birds coming and going! They neither reap nor plough, and God provides for them.” Sometimes there is a sort of gloss on words of Jesus from the Gospel: “Oh disciples, do not cast pearls before swine, for the swine can do nothing with them . . . wisdom is more precious than pearls and whoever rejects wisdom is worse than a swine.”
He is certainly a wonder-worker. He often raises the dead, and gives his disciples power to do the same. More than once he comes across a skull and restores it to life, on one occasion granting salvation to a person who had been damned. The skulls, like everyone else in these stories, address Jesus as “Spirit of God”. Once he is even addressed as “Word of God”.
I once had a conversation with members of Hizbollah in Beirut. One of them said this: “The greatness of Islam is that we combine Judaism and Christianity. Jesus freed enslaved hearts, he was able to release human feeling, to reveal a kingdom of peace. Jesus’s realm was the realm of soul. Jesus is soul; Moses is mind, the mind of the legislator. In Islam, we interweave both.”
This is certainly the Jesus of these stories – the Jesus of the mystical Sufi tradition. The great Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali actually called Jesus “Prophet of the heart”.
The Muslim Jesus is not divine, but a humble servant of God. He was not crucified – Islam insists that the story of the killing of Jesus is false. He is, as it were, Jesus as he might have been without St Paul or St Augustine or the Council of Nicaea. He is not the cold figure of English Unitarianism, and he is less grand than the exalted human of the Arians. As you read these stories, what comes across most powerfully is that the Muslim Jesus is intensely loved. There is an element of St Francis of Assisi.
It is good to be reminded, especially now, of the intimate connections there have been between Islam and Christianity, and how close in spirit Muslim and Christian piety can come to each other. Curiously enough, the Muslim Jesus, shorn of all claims of divinity, could be more easily held on to by my agnostic friend than the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
One other thing: since Muslims deny the Crucifixion, their emphasis has been on the wonders surrounding the birth of “Jesus Son of Mary”, born as his mother sat under a palm tree, and miraculously speaking from within the womb. There really is no reason why schools that put on Nativity plays, or anyone who wants to insist on the Christian meaning of Christmas, should fear that they may offend Muslim sensibilities, for Jesus really is shared by both faiths.
The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi (Harvard University Press) is available from Telegraph Books Direct at ?15.95 plus ?1.99 p&p. To order, call 0870 155 7222
John Casey is a fellow of Gonville and Caius, Cambridge
How Did You Accept Islam?
As enthralling as many present-day conversion stories may be, it is to the first converts to Islam, the Sahaba that we should look for inspiration, writes American convert, Yahiya Emerick.
Many people have asked me lately how I came to Islam. It is not an unusual question for a convert to be asked. Every person who accepts Islam has a unique story and tale to tell. I remember getting one of the books filled with “convert stories” and being enthralled for days at the variety of experiences people have.
Many “born” Muslims, as they call themselves, take a great interest in such convert stories as well. It reaffirms their faith and strengthens their resolve. After all, if people are accepting Islam in droves today, even though Islam has been stigmatized in popular and secular culture all over the world, there must be a hidden value. Reading what others see in accepting the Islamic Way of Life reinforces our awareness of this value.
There is another valuable source of convert stories as well. A source which can have an even greater effect on your Eman and Taqwa than contemporary sources. I would recommend that people spend more time reading these stories than those of modern converts. This other source is the stories of the Sahaba (Companions of the Prophet ).
Did you know that almost all of the Sahaba were converts to Islam? Every last one of them has a unique story and quite a few have suspense-filled adventures on their way to the truth. Sometimes when I read about one of them, I find parallels in my own journey to Islam. Other times I find myself amazed at the power of the human spirit to overcome even the most insurmountable obstacles.
My personal favorites among the Sahaba are Fatimah, Salman al Farsi, Abu Darda, Abu Dharr al Ghiffari, ‘Umar, Mu’adh ibn Jabal and Umm Ammarah. (My wife holds the story of Julaybib close to her heart.) In my humble understanding, I feel every Muslim should make it a point to be familiar with the stories of at least ten of the Sahaba. Skim through a book of their biographies, pick a few that seem to interest you and then read in detail. Compare their examples. How did they interact with the Prophet and others? What lessons are there for our own lives today?
I sometimes find myself wishing that in study circles and Tarbiyya sessions that Muslims would move away from repeating the same worn-out old topics (lessons of the Hijrah, significance of Surah al ‘Asr) and explore other, deeper themes that are more relevant. The struggles, achievements and trials of the Sahaba have a timeless relationship to what people face in every age.
Is it any wonder that the Blessed Prophet advised us to follow the example of his Sahaba and even Allah, Himself, praises the Sahaba in many places in the Qur’an. Today our children’s heroes are basketball players, fashion models, singers and movie stars. People who do nothing important. All they are is entertainers. They teach nothing good in a real sense, they contribute nothing to society and all they do is present an example of a wild and wealthy lifestyle which makes our children want to duplicate it.
What of the Heroes of Islam? Time and time again I have seen Khatibs, lecturers and scholars mention the names of Sahaba and others to an audience which was filled with people who didn’t know anything about those names. The speaker may feel flushed with pride mentioning those names, but his or her listeners don’t know the deep implications and significance.
That’s a whole other topic, of course: the gap between the scholars (who live in a dream world) and the masses of the Muslims (who are cut off from most Islamic knowledge). I’ll save that for another column. Suffice it to say, by reading the stories of those who have accepted Islam, we ourselves can learn jewels of wisdom which can permeate our own experience and make us better Muslims.
Every parent, school and teacher must make certain that our children know at least ten Sahaba stories in a meaningful and relevant way. Then our children will look to the real giants of history as their heroes and born Muslims can get a sense of pride in their way of life that goes beyond, far beyond what stories those of us converts of today can tell.
Do I have any suggestions for you to begin? Of course, that’s the whole reason I write this column month after month. I want improvement. Business as usual may be fine in a dilapidated Muslim country, but the Islamic movement is alive and kicking in America. I want to see it stabilize and become a permanent part of this nation’s fabric.
As far as books to read for the stories of the Sahaba, there are three main sources I recommend: “The Beauty of the Righteous and Ranks of the Elite” (Akili) “The Companions of the Prophet” (Hamid) and “Hayatus Sahaba” (Kandhalvi). These three sources are available just about everywhere. If you don’t know where to get them you can call a Muslim bookstore and they can send them to you. Here’s a couple of phone numbers you can try: 1-800-337-4287 or 1-718-721-4246.
There you have it! The names of three great sources for learning and the numbers where to get them. It just doesn’t get any better than this! After reading one or all of these books, choose ten Sahaba which you feel most drawn towards and then accept this further challenge. Sit down with some paper and a pen and write a short essay to yourself about what impresses you most about each Sahaba and what lessons you can draw for your own life.
Save those essays and read them again every few years or months as you need to. If you’re feeling down or helpless or stressed you can center yourself by reading the examples of others who had even tougher struggles than us and who came through with flying colors. Let’s not be like the people that Allah spoke about, the people who are like donkeys carrying piles of books. Let’s apply our reading, make it meaningful for our lives and do something with it. Will you accept this challenge? I will.

Shagufta Yergatti on April 8, 2008 at 10:43 am

Islam, Culture and Women
by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
How can anyone justify Islam’s treatment of women, when it imprisons Afghans under blue shuttlecock burqas and makes Pakistani girls marry strangers against their will?
How can you respect a religion that forces women into polygamous marriages, mutilates their genitals, forbids them to drive cars and subjects them to the humiliation of “instant” divorce? In fact, none of these practices are Islamic at all.
Anyone wishing to understand Islam must first separate the religion from the cultural norms and style of a society. Female genital mutilation is still practised in certain pockets of Africa and Egypt, but viewed as an inconceivable horror by the vast majority of Muslims. Forced marriages may still take place in certain Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, but would be anathema to Muslim women from other backgrounds.
Indeed, Islam insists on the free consent of both bride and groom, so such marriages could even be deemed illegal under religious law.
A woman forbidden from driving a car in Riyadh will cheerfully take the wheel when abroad, confident that her country’s bizarre law has nothing to do with Islam. Afghan women educated before the Taliban rule know that banning girls from school is forbidden in Islam, which encourages all Muslims to seek knowledge from cradle to grave, from every source possible.
The Koran is addressed to all Muslims, and for the most part it does not differentiate between male and female. Man and woman, it says, “were created of a single soul,” and are moral equals in the sight of God. Women have the right to divorce, to inherit property, to conduct business and to have access to knowledge.
Since women are under all the same obligations and rules of conduct as the men, differences emerge most strongly when it comes to pregnancy, child-bearing and rearing, menstruation and, to a certain extent, clothing.
Some of the commands are alien to Western tradition. Requirements of ritual purity may seem to restrict a woman’s access to religious life, but are viewed as concessions. During menstruation or postpartum bleeding, she may not pray the ritual salah or touch the Koran and she does not have to fast; nor does she need to fast while pregnant or nursing.
The veiling of Muslim women is a more complex issue. Certainly, the Koran requires them to behave and dress modestly – but these strictures apply equally to men. Only one verse refers to the veiling of women, stating that the Prophet’s wives should be behind a hijab when his male guests converse with them.
Some modernists, however, claim that this does not apply to women in general, and that the language used does not carry the textual stipulation that makes a verse obligatory. In practice, most modern Muslim women appreciate attractive and graceful clothes, but avoid dressing provocatively.
What about polygamy, which the Koran endorses up to the limit of four wives per man? The Prophet, of course, lived at a time when continual warfare produced large numbers of widows, who were left with little or no provision for themselves and their children.
In these circumstances, polygamy was encouraged as an act of charity. Needless to say, the widows were not necessarily sexy young women, but usually mothers of up to six children, who came as part of the deal.
Polygamy is no longer common, for various good reasons. The Koran states that wives need to be treated fairly and equally – a difficult requirement even for a rich man. Moreover, if a husband wishes to take a second wife, he should not do so if the marriage will be to the detriment of the first.
Sexual intimacy outside marriage is forbidden in Islam, including sex before marriage, adultery or homosexual relationships. However, within marriage, sexual intimacy should be raised from the animal level to sadaqah (a form of worship) so that each considers the happiness and satisfaction of the other, rather than mere self-gratification.
Contrary to Christianity, Islam does not regard marriages as “made in heaven” or “till death do us part”. They are contracts, with conditions. If either side breaks the conditions, divorce is not only allowed, but usually expected. Nevertheless, a hadith makes it clear that: “Of all the things God has allowed, divorce is the most disliked.”
A Muslim has a genuine reason for divorce only if a spouse’s behaviour goes against the sunnah of Islam – in other words, if he or she has become cruel, vindictive, abusive, unfaithful, neglectful, selfish, sexually abusive, tyrannical, perverted – and so on.
In good Islamic practice, before divorce can be contemplated, all possible efforts should be made to solve a couple’s problems. After an intention to divorce is announced, there is a three-month period during which more attempts are made at reconciliation.
If, by the end of each month, the couple have resumed sexual intimacy, the divorce should not proceed. The three-month rule ensures that a woman cannot remarry until three menstrual cycles have passed – so, if she happens to be pregnant, the child will be supported and paternity will not be in dispute.
When Muslims die, strict laws govern the shares of property and money they may leave to others; daughters usually inherit less than sons, but this is because the men in a family are supposed to provide for the entire household.
Any money or property owned by women is theirs to keep, and they are not obliged to share it. Similarly, in marriage, a woman’s salary is hers and cannot be appropriated by her husband unless she consents.
A good Muslim woman, for her part, should always be trustworthy and kind. She should strive to be cheerful and encouraging towards her husband and family, and keep their home free from anything harmful (haram covers all aspects of harm, including bad behaviour, abuse and forbidden foods).
Regardless of her skills or intelligence, she is expected to accept her man as the head of her household – she must, therefore, take care to marry a man she can respect, and whose wishes she can carry out with a clear conscience. However, when a man expects his wife to do anything contrary to the will of God – in other words, any nasty, selfish, dishonest or cruel action – she has the right to refuse him.
Her husband is not her master; a Muslim woman has only one Master, and that is God. If her husband does not represent God’s will in the home, the marriage contract is broken.
What should one make of the verse in the Koran that allows a man to punish his wife physically? There are important provisos: he may do so only if her ill-will is wrecking the marriage – but then only after he has exhausted all attempts at verbal communication and tried sleeping in a separate bed.
However, the Prophet never hit a woman, child or old person, and was emphatic that those who did could hardly regard themselves as the best of Muslims. Moreover, he also stated that a man should never hit “one of God’s handmaidens”. Nor, it must be said, should wives beat their husbands or become inveterate nags.
Finally, there is the issue of giving witness. Although the Koran says nothing explicit, other Islamic sources suggest that a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half of that of a man. This ruling, however, should be applied only in circumstances where a woman is uneducated and has led a very restricted life: a woman equally qualified to a man will carry the same weight as a witness.
So, does Islam oppress women?
While the spirit of Islam is clearly patriarchal, it regards men and women as moral equals. Moreover, although a man is technically the head of the household, Islam encourages matriarchy in the home.
Women may not be equal in the manner defined by Western feminists, but their core differences from men are acknowledged, and they have rights of their own that do not apply to men

Shagufta Yergatti on April 9, 2008 at 2:27 am

Christian Extremism
According to the evangelicals so influential in today’s America, only ‘born again’ Christians are on their way to Heaven, the Jews are doomed and the rest of us including non ‘born again’ Christians are not really on God’s ‘radar screen’ at all until He calls us forth to be slain at Armageddon. And extremely worrying for Muslims, one of the things that has to happen before the time of the end can come, is not only the re-establishment of Israel but also that the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem must be rebuilt on its ancient site. This necessitates destroying the Haram ash-Sharif and the al-Aqsa mosque.
by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
During my stay at ISNA headquarters in Plainfield, I was granted the opportunity to read through Grace Halsell’s startling book ‘Forcing God’s Hand’, Crossroads International Publishing, Washington DC, 1999.
The effect upon me was to leave me in a state of some shock – for what was being presented in these pages as an increasingly common form of Christianity in the USA had virtually nothing to do with the Christianity I had grown up with and studied as a university student reading Christian Theology. I managed to graduate in that field, with my main interest being Trinitarian Studies and Doctrine, in 1963. I am also English, and I should imagine from what I read that the kind of Christian background we have in the UK is very different from that in the USA, if we can assume that Grace Halsell has presented her case fairly.
According to Dale Crowley Jr, a Washington religious broadcaster whom she quotes, ‘There’s a new religious cult in America. It’s not composed of so-called ‘crazies’ so much as mainstream, middle to upper-middle class Americans. They listen – and give millions of dollars each week – to the TV evangelists who expound the fundamentals of the cult. They read Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. They have one goal: to facilitate God’s hand to waft them up to heaven free from all trouble, from where they will watch Armageddon and the destruction of Planet Earth. This doctrine pervades Assemblies of God, Pentecostal, and other charismatic churches, as well as Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, and countless so-called Bible churches and mega-churches. At least one out of every ten Americans is a devotee of this cult. It is the fastest growing religious movement in Christianity today.’
It comes as a great shock to me, for when I read the accounts of their major tenets and beliefs, it really just seemed like a great deal of nonsense. It had virtually no point of contact whatsoever with the church teaching, mission work and theology with which I have been involved one way or another for over fifty years, firstly as a Christian theologian myself, and then as a Muslim.
I give just one quote from Hal Lindsey’s ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ to give a flavour of what I am talking about:
‘Think of it! At least 200 million soldiers from the orient, with millions more from the forces of the West…..Messiah Jesus will strike those who have ravaged His city in Jerusalem. Then He will strike the armies massed in the valley of Megiddo (or Armageddon). No wonder blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a distance of 200 miles from Jerusalem. …This whole valley will be filled with war materials, animals, bodies of men, and blood! It seems incredible! The human mind cannot conceive of such inhumanity of man to man, yet God will allow man’s nature to fully display itself that day. Every city of the world will be destroyed – London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago – obliterated!’
Bible references are sifted for prophecies of a future world-wide nuclear war. The Antichrist due to come before all this has been ‘recognised’ already, many times, in such people as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Milosovic. There is presumably another ‘Beast’ to come.
Some of this may sound familiar to Muslims who have considered how the end of the world will come, with the prophecies of the Dajjal and so forth.
However, ‘born-again’ Christians will have the good fortune to escape all the suffering of nuclear holocaust, because God will cause them to be taken up alive into the heavens before all this takes place, where they will have a grandstand view of everyone else being destroyed. Christ will descend and ‘snatch away’ his true followers. This belief is not actually any part of the teachings of Jesus, but is based on a couple of verses of St Paul’s, namely, First Thessalonians 4:16-17.
This, naturally, is the great appeal of the entire notion. ‘It’s wonderful to know,’ said one of Grace Halwell’s interviewees, ‘that those of us who are Saved do not have to suffer one moment of agony in the final days.’
It results in a great deal of religious and spiritual blackmail. Those who believe in it are absolutely certain that God will mete out to most of the dead and currently alive – in fact, all who are not and were not ‘born again’ – a fearful destruction and an everlasting punishment.
There is another aspect that is extremely worrying for Muslims. One of the things that has to happen before the time of the end can come, is not only that the kingdom of Israel must be re-established, (which may refer to the setting up of the state in 1948), but also that the Temple must be rebuilt on its ancient site. This necessitates destroying the Haram ash-Sharif and the al-Aqsa mosque, of course. Until I read Grace Halwell’s book, I used to scoff in the UK at what I regarded as extra-ordinary fears and suppositions I heard from some Muslim quarters. Now, I am nowhere near so complacent.
For example, to quote Hal Lindsey again: ‘There remains but one more event to completely set the stage for Israel’s part in the last great act of her historical drama. This is to rebuild the ancient Temple of worship upon its old site.’ Not only that, but the rare red heifers are already being bred in readiness to restart the sacrificial system.
It is a strange mix, for most of these ‘born again’ so-called Christians seem to have a very hearty dislike of Jews. They are only really using them as a means to an end. Needless to say, they have an extremely hearty dislike of Muslims, who have inconveniently somehow got themselves in the way of the whole thing.
So, what is the point of my article? It is this – as we have entered the new century, many enlightened Muslims, Jews and Christians have all realised at last the most important aspect of our Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) teaching about our relationship is that we should come together as all worshippers of the same One True God, whether we name Him Jehovah (Yahweh), Our Father, or Allah. He is the same Almighty One, the same Creator, the same Compassionate and Merciful One. The Jews and Christians have all followed their revelations from this same God, through the same line of prophets as are named and accepted in the revelation of the Qur’an. Yes, we have differences of beliefs and theology – which are inevitably based on the limits of our own intellects, and faith in what has seemed reasonable to us and, these days, in accord with the principles of science. We have differences of practice and the ways we worship. But our moral code is the same, our desire to please our Lord by right and compassionate and just living is the same, our wish to follow the right path is the same. We were urged to come to accord, and concentrate on that which is common between us – for it is really scandalous that so much blood has been shed, and so much hostility engendered, between people who are all servants of the same One True God.
We must remember that our real enemy is not other people, but Shaytan, and that Shaytan is extremely clever and can come in any disguise. He is also extremely religious. Don’t forget that the original sin of Shaytan was to refuse to do what God wished him to do, because he thought he knew best. That is, better than God Himself.
When Shaytan insinuates himself into a person’s mind, whether it be to promote ignorance, or extremism, or hatred, one of the main signs is the manifestation of what Muslims call takfir – the insistence that the individual is right and is completely following the ways of God, and that all others who disagree in any detail are kafirs or unbelievers, and will be condemned to Hellfire. This is a very prominent feature of the Christian Fundamentalism Grace Halwell talks about. We Muslims have to realise, of course, that it is also a prominent feature of Islamic Fundamentalism too; I have found that a useful ‘rule of thumb’ in identifying extremism is to listen out for the word kafir or kuffar (pl), and to be aware that to these zealots the kuffar are not only ‘the West’ (whatever that means), or non-Muslims, but large numbers of Muslims too.
Similarly, these Christian Extremists do not identify other Christians as being real Christians. Only these ‘born again’ will be saved. And what is the experience of this being ‘born again?’ It is usually an emotional moment, even a trance-like state, brought about by hypnotic fiery sermons and religiously seductive music. It appeals to a certain type, and is generally a great ‘turn-off’ for more sober academics and down-to-earth people.
Muslims can easily point to similar problems with immature sufis and ignorant pretenders of spiritual excellence giving wide publicity to trance utterances and inspired pronouncements, along with their grandiloquent claims.
Thus it is a simple matter for fascinating preachers, money-grubbing pastors, hypocritical dervishes and cunning traders of religion to take full advantage of the popular relish for esoteric matters, miracles, supernatural performances, inspired dreams and prophecies. It can all too easily be seen that simple pious people can be led into accepting every new fantasy. It all appeals strongly to those who want to feel they are on the ‘inside’ of a group, with secrets, profound knowledge and revelations.
But really, they have an exceedingly narrow view of the ‘nature’ of God, or His purposes for His created Earth and the six billion people on it. Their ‘tribal’ God is only concerned with these ‘special’ Christians, and the Jews. However, the 14 million Jews now estimated to be on earth are doomed, whereas only the billion or so ‘born again’ Christians are on their way to Heaven. The other 5 billion peoples of the world are not really on God’s ‘radar screen’ at all until He calls them forth to be slain at Armageddon.
Rotten luck for us – and for all who genuinely believe in another sort of Divine Being. Direct conflict with these types is usually a waste of time and energy, so what should we do? I think, what we do best. Carry on presenting the realities of the noble faith of Islam, trying to reconcile geniune Jews and Christians with ourselves in genuine faith in God, perhaps by downplaying our differences, as the Prophet (saw) advised. We are not here to force, or bribe, or brow-beat, like these Fundamentalists. We are here to guide, to set an example, to display the sunnah in the way we live. And then leave intelligent people to think for themselves, and make their choice
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English convert to Islam, Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, is the author of over thirty books on Islam and other subjects.

Shagufta Yergatti on April 9, 2008 at 2:33 am

Islam, the Religion of Peace
by
Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Islam always seems to get a bad press. It is hardly surprising, seeing what has made the news recently, that Muslims are thought of as fanatical, cruel, vengeful, and full of hatred for non-Muslims and in particular the West, especially America. One impression given is that if people will not accept Islam, they will be attacked by Muslim zealots who want to force them either to accept it, or be wiped out. Our screens are full of angry, bearded armed fanatics, and unless we happen to know something about the politics of the wider world, they seem to be determined to hate us and attack us for no good reason at all. To many people in the west who contribute to charity and aid programmes for underdeveloped countries or people facing disaster, it makes them also seem very ungrateful and grossly unfair. The usual ignorant response from people who are ignorant about real Islam and the real situation, is to cry: ëWe donít want them here ñ send them all back home.í
The trouble comes in identifying ëweí and ëthemí. I, of course, am one of ëthemí, although I dare say if you looked at me without hijab you might think I ought to be one of ëweí. Letís take me as an example of a typical English Muslim. I am not brown or black, am not an Arab or an Asian, and was born here, and am now an old-age pensioner, having been the Head of a Religious Studies department in some of the UKís toughest schools all my life. Since September 11th, and some articles in the papers, I have received anonymous letters suggesting that ëI go backí, or at least pick a third world country of my choice and go and live there, if I am so keen to defend abusers and terrorists. What has driven me mad about these letters is that they never give a name and address that I could reply to, for nearly all their objections to Islam are objections I would heartily agree with ñ I would love to be able to show them that when one takes a good look at all the criticisms of Islam that crop up in the media ñ the violence, fanaticism, bigotry and abuse ñ these are not actually criticisms of Islam at all.
It is the old trap of judging a faith with all its ideals and principles by the behaviour of some of its worst, or most eccentric, or most biased devotees. It is rather like judging Christianity by the behaviour of certain individuals such as IRA and UFF terrorists because they are Roman Catholics or extreme Protestants. The problem for Islam is that Muslims ñ like Christians – are not all the same, and some do indeed choose to interpret the Qurían and hadith in ways that horrify the mainstream. They follow a weird type of Islam promoted by certain bigots who really seem to enjoy embarrassing all other Muslims with their narrowness of vision and crudeness of sentiment. Being totally convinced and fervent in their own beliefs, they are quite unconcerned that many of their preoccupations and statements that misinterpret Islam only serve to make all Muslims look irrational, hateful, oppressive, abusive and downright odd. It all gives Islam a very bad name.
Just as objectionable for us Muslims is that most of their bigotry is directed at fellow Muslims! Ever heard of the saying: ëDivide, and conquerí? If Muslims become divided, who is it that will conquer, if not Shaytan? Being told what to do, and having it forced upon us, when we are not convinced that it is right or right for us, is extremely negative and divisive. Allah actually taught us most clearly that there was to be no compulsion in religion. Surah 2:256 is the most forthright: ëThere is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has been made clearly distinct from error, and whoever (chooses it and) renounces the forces of Satan and believes in Allah has grasped the firm hand-hold that will never break. Allah, Whose hand-hold you have grasped, hears all and knows all.í
As it happens, we Muslims do have the duty to point out when we think something is wrong, and to explain our point of view in such a way as will convince ñ but this pointing out is to be done without arrogance or sense of superiority, and our explanations are to be given in the best possible way, polite and gentle ways that will not drive people away from Allah, but will hopefully attract them.
There are two highly unpleasant characteristics about extremists in any religion. The first is that these fanatics firmly believe that what they believe is right, and that what everyone else believes is inadequate, or just plain wrong. This shows up in the practice known as takfir ñ accusing all those who do not agree with their interpretation ñ even people known to be practising Muslims – of being kuffar. The second is that fanatics claim they do what they do because God wills it, and being devout worshippers of God, they are prepared to die for Him should He demand it. This is a gross and arrogant claim – God wills nothing of the sort.
History has thrown up hundreds of misguided religious people who think they are doing the will of God, when it is more likely the will of the Devil. Think of the example of the Yorkshire Ripper, who claimed that he thought he was doing Godís will by cutting the throats of prostitutes. There have been cases of Islamic extremists committing exactly the same crime (and even worse, for some of the girls killed by Muslims were actually innocent of any sexual activity at all, and were no more than family members, daughters or sisters, who had simply spoken to a man in public and been informed on). Did the Prophet (pbuh) ever meet a prostitute, and if so, how did he react? He did indeed, and recommended that this particular lady was worthy of Paradise, in spite of her profession, because she had been kind to a cat; he compared her to another woman, one of prayer and piety, but who had starved her animal, and would therefore face punishment from the God of Compassion who sees everything, and judges everything.
What extremists do is to project their own hatreds or interpretations on to what they dislike, and ignoring the compassion of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). And in so doing, although they may be highly religious people, they unfortunately take on the role of aggressors not of missionaries for the faith (which is what they think they are!). No-one doubts their sincerity or fervour, but something has happened to their characters which makes them blind to other highly important principles in Islam which have to be taken most seriously.
Islam is not a religion of war but a religion of peace. It is true that Muslims sometimes have to take up arms and do battle, just as Christians sometimes have to do likewise, but it is not a religion of war. It is true that Jesus never ever fought in battles, and taught people to turn the other cheek, whereas the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was involved in fighting. However, when we make a fair comparison, we see that Jesus died when he was in his early thirties, and had not been dragged into confrontation with the major enemy of the time ñ the Romans. If what Christians believe is true, the first time he actually challenged them publicly, they arrested him and he was dead by the end of the week.
The Prophet (pbuh) on the other hand, lived to be 63, and was involved in ruling a kingdom and acting in its defence. Some people think he was always fighting, but actually, if you tot up all the days he was occupied in defensive warfare, it comes to less than one year. His most famous battles lasted only one day, and not only were there few slain, but with very few exceptions (by a handful of zealous believers who went beyond the bounds of what they were ordered, and were taken severely to task for it) the captives and enemy wounded were treated with compassion and decency. None of this warfare was started by him, or was aggressive, or for nationalistic or political reasons, or out of personal ambition. Even when the Prophet (pbuh) a few months before his 60th birthday gave his army permission to capture Makkah, the only people slain were a group that attacked his general Khalid, and only ten of his enemies were condemned to death for previous crimes which had legally earned them the death penalty (and not simply because they had been captured in war), and only four of these were actually executed.
The Prophetís (pbuh) warfare began when he was over 50, after he and his companions had migrated away from the hostility of Makkah and gone to Madinah. In spite of this move away from their old homes, the Makkans were still not appeased and were still working on ways and means to destroy them and wipe out Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) had only been in Madinah a couple of years when his guiding angel revealed something that proved to be a turning point for him. He had always taught that he himself and all those who accepted the faith should bear the persecutions they faced with fortitude and patience, and not strike back. Now, in Madinah, he received permission for Muslims to defend the faith and themselves by force of arms if necessary. The words were: ëLeave is given to those who fight because they have been wronged ñ and surely God is able to help them ñ those who were expelled from their homes without justification, simply for saying ëOur Lord is Godí (Surah 22:40-41).
If the call to arms was the only way to satisfactorily put an end to the opposition and persecution from Makkah, then so be it. Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat that include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good people were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
If warfare became necessary, it was only to be defensive, as a result of provocation, and to last only until the enemy agreed to make peace terms: ëFight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors.í (Surah 2: 190).
ëAnd fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease let there be no more hostility except to those who (continue to) practice oppression.í (Surah 2.193).
“If they seek peace, then you must seek peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things.” (Qur’an 8:61)
Allah told His Messenger to value human life above all else: ëWho so ever kills a human being for other than murder or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all of humanity, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all of humanity.í (Surah 5:32).
There was, however, no question of Muslims being given permission to go out to harass or attack people, or try to co-erce non-believers into accepting their faith.
Allahís words in the Qurían were quite clear: ëThere should be no coercion in the matter of faithí (Surah 2:256), and Surah 10:99-100: ëIf it had been the Lord’s Will for all who are on earth to believe, they would have believed! How do you, therefore, think you can compel people to believe against their will? No soul can believe except by the Will of Allah, and He Himself places doubt (or obscurity) in the minds of those who do not wish to understand.í
ëProclaim: This is the Truth from your Lord; whoever will believe, let them believe, and whoever will, let them disbelieve.í (18:29).
Co-ercion is, and always has been, totally contrary to the will of God, and abhorrent to the nature of the gentle and peace-loving Muhammad (pbuh). The word for ëstrivingí or ëstruggleí is ëjihadí. It applies to the whole of a personís daily striving to do the will of God by living in the best possible way, and only becomes connected with military activity when force becomes necessary to defend the oppressed and to preserve the True Faith in times of persecution. At those times a Muslim would be shamed if he or she did not rush to the defence of the right. There is no question of jihad meaning innocent people being attacked, or of any people being coerced into becoming Muslims by force – a logical impossibility in any case, for Islam is a matter of the heart and of personal conviction. People cannot be forced to believe something they do not believe, any more than Muslims can be forced to pray or fast, or perform any of the compulsory acts, or be unselfish, or courageous, or truthful, or compassionate, or generous. If they choose to do so, out of love for Allah, then that is their wonderful dedication and service to Him, and nothing to do with force.
When he later sent letters to Jewish and Christian rulers the Blessed Prophet put it very clearly in writing that: ëIf Jews or Christians become Muslims, they are then believers with rights and obligations. But those who (decide to) hold fast to their (old) religion are not to be turned from it. They (only) must pay the jizya (poll tax for rights of protection).í Ibn Ishaq p.643. As regarded the synagogues and churches of the People of the Book, far from Muslims being asked to attack them it became a Muslim duty to protect them, for these were also places of worship of the One True God.
ëIf God did not sometimes drive back some people by means of others, many cloisters and churches, oratories and mosques where Godís name is called upon, would have been destroyed.í (Surah 22:40).
All his life the Prophet (pbuh) had hated hostility, and had spent so much of the less-public side of his mission healing rifts, calming down opponents and putting things right, solving disputes and healing marriages. Permission to fight was only granted for one reason ñ the same that had been the impetus for the order of chivalry that he joined in his youth, the Hilf al-Fudul ñ that no matter how reluctant one might be to get involved, it was cowardly and dishonourable to see injustice and tyranny and do nothing about it. The necessary stand for justice and freedom against the bitter hostility of oppressors, tyrants and aggressive bullies is always a matter that one might be proud of and not ashamed. The state of war with the Quraysh of Makkah and their allies arose solely because of the Quraysh persecution of Muslims which had driven them to abandon their homes, status, property and in many cases, hopes of inheritance. The Muslims did not seek this warfare, but the Quraysh had brought it upon themselves.
The Prophetís (pbuh) angel stated: ëWhy should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed? Men, women and children, whose cry is: Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us one who will protect and help us.í (Surah 4:75).
He also stated: ëO believers ñ be seekers after justice; witnesses for God, even though it be against yourselves or your parents or kinsmen, or whether the person be rich or poor, for Allah is the protector of both. So do not follow the base desires of your hearts lest you become ëbentí; for if you distort or decline to do justice, truly (you will not be able to hide it from) Allah (who) knows very well all that you do!í Surah 4:135.
The Prophet (pbuh) was calm but firm. ëAnyone who walks with an oppressor to strengthen him, knowing that he is an oppressor, has gone forth from Islam.í He taught that ëhe who sees something abominable should strive to alter it with the help of his own hand; if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not the strength enough for that, then he should at least abhor it in his heart.í Muslim 16.
When Allahís Messenger (pbuh) appointed anyone as leader of an army his instructions were clear: ëFight in the name of Allah and in the cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. But wage your war in a holy manner: do not embezzle the spoils, do not break your pledge, do not mutilate (the dead) and do not kill the children. When you are faced with enemies who are non-believers, (before any warfare you must first) offer them three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, then you also must accept it, and restrain yourself from doing them any harm.
The first is to invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to this positively, then accept it from them and do not fight against them. Also explain that if they then leave their nonbelieving communities and go to a place of believers, they shall immediately share all the privileges and also the obligations of the others who have done this. If they do not wish to migrate, then tell them that they will have the status of Muslims who are not living in a Muslim society (like ourselves in the UK), and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not receive any share from the spoils of war or tributes unless they actually join with the Muslims (against the nonbelievers). However, if they refuse to accept Islam altogether, demand from them the community tax. If they agree to pay (for the privileges it will bring them), then accept this decision and hold your hand. Only if they refuse to pay the tax, must you seek Allah’s help and fight them.í Muslim 804.
These are just some of the texts that the extremists have picked out and twisted to justify their terrorist campaigns. They point out the clear command to do something about evil, but make full use of the legal loophole here to identify evil how they will, and ignore Allahís desire to spread peace and goodwill and compassion, and temper justice with mercy.
Hereís an account of what happened to Sheikh Suhayl when he was captured, one of the Prophetís (pbuh) bitter and outspoken enemies. He was a man who had a cleft lower lip. Umar threatened to pull out his two front teeth too – ëThen his tongue will hang out, and he will never be able to speak against you again!í The Prophet (pbuh) was not pleased, rebuked the future Caliph, and gave a reply which was so revealing of his modest, compassionate and wise nature. ëI will certainly not mutilate him,í he replied, ëfor if I did, surely Allah would mutilate me, even though I am His Messenger. Think – it may be that one day this man will make a stand for which you will not be able to find fault with him.í
Suhayl did indeed become a Muslim hero, and died a Muslim martyr in the Battle of Yarmuk. The Prophetís (pbuh) forward-looking and generous attitude is an important sunnah for those zealots who regard non-Muslim territories (such as ëthe Westí ñ whatever that may mean) as Dar al-Harb (House of War), full of enemies who need conquering. The Prophet (pbuh), on the contrary, saw such territories as Dar al-Dawah (House of Missionary Preaching), full of potential converts.
It should not need saying that the Prophet (pbuh) never suffered from the malicious desire to attack enemies for revenge or to loot people for their wealth, or to set warfare in motion in order to extend his frontiers. ëHe is not one of us who fights the cause of nationalism,í said the Prophet (pbuh). ëHe is not one of us who dies in the cause of nationalism. Nationalism means helping your people in unjust causes.í
Once he was asked whether anyone fighting to display courage, or out of a sense of family or tribal prestige, or in order to show off skills, or for the sake of spoils, or any other worldly motive could be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah. ëCertainly not,í he replied. ëOne can only be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah when it is a question of putting an end to the tyranny of unbelievers when they are actively trying to suppress Islam.í Those who fought for any other motive disentitled themselves to any spiritual reward. Hot-blooded young men often had a desire for glory gained through various kinds of military activity, but tended to ignore the heartbreak and waste of life and resources. In Islam, warfare was regarded as a destructive activity, something to be taken up only in the last resort. It was a ëconflagrationí, which those on the side of Allah would struggle to put out. Surah 5:65 ñ ëWhenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder on the earth, but Allah loves not those who create disorder.í
Muslim warfare ñ as all other aspects of Muslim life ñ is to be conducted with honour, and every effort made to limit its horror and bring hostilities to a close as swiftly as possible. The Prophet (pbuh) utterly forbade torture, killing the weak ñ women, children or old people, or cruelty to prisoners. Muslims were not to kill the wounded, hunt down fleeing enemies, or kill captives. Savage practices from pre-Islamic times such as mutilating the enemy dead or torturing prisoners-of-war were prohibited altogether.
Of course, the Prophet (pbuh) did not always get the chance to control all the actions taken by every individual on his side. Sometimes women and children or prisoners were harmed or killed, but the Prophet (pbuh) always made it very clear that he totally disapproved, and that all prisoners were to be treated with compassion and respect. He always did his best to repair any damage caused, or to settle blood-money.
Whatever he might have felt personally, it was his duty as one submitted to Allah not only to protect those who had entrusted themselves to his leadership, but also to be kind and compassionate to the defeated. ëIt is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. If you are severe and hard-hearted, they will break way from you; so pass over their faults and ask for Godís forgiveness for them.í (Surah 3:159)
Muslims were urged not to let personal animosity interfere with proper justice: ëO believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Deal justly, that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for lo! Allah knows very well all that you do.í (Surah 5:9).
The word jihad does not necessarily even imply military action. The Prophet said, “Any person who looks after widows or the destitute is a mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or the equivalent of one who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” Bukhari 7.265.
The definition of a jihad according to Qurían and sunnah is a struggle or an effort that is exerted in some undertaking in order to attain some end or result. The latter can be a personal one, or if it is ëfi sabiíl illahí ñ it means it is in the cause of Allah. A personal jihad for oneís own cause might involve some form of hard work to accomplish something of value ñ such as learning for an exam, or trying to eliminate some unwanted personal habit such as smoking or obesity. A jihad or struggle in the cause of Allah does not really mean fighting, but trying as hard as one can to do His will, the unceasing effort to counter the activities and influence of Shaytan in the form of wrong beliefs, ideas, values etc that are inflicted on us through thoughts, words and deeds. Things like racism, abuse, cruelty, selfishness, laziness, miserliness, aggression, and oppression.
While the true struggle or jihad ëwith the swordí is a great act of unselfishness and courage on occasions when it has become necessary to defend the innocent and defenceless from unjustified aggression, especially, of course, if it requires the mujahid to sacrifice his or her own life – the jihad ëwith the wordí (dawah) to spread the teachings and values of Islam really has greater significance in practical terms. Jihad through the word was the first command to the Prophet (pbuh), and he kept up doing it throughout the rest of his life until he had successfully transformed a large population of initially ignorant people into a wonderful community.
Many people are trapped in ignorance. It seems to me that ignorance, followed by arrogance and lack of compassion lies at the root of all evil, the causes of all corruption, and the sources of all suffering. The opposite of ignorance has to be knowledge (ilm) that gives rise to wisdom (hiqmah). This jihad is therefore an act of devotion with the same significance as the Five Pillars of Islam, so much so that it is often called the Sixth Pillar. ëStriving after knowledge,í said the Prophet (pbuh), ëis the sacred duty of every man and woman.í (Ibn Majah).
And even more important than the jihad with the word is the inner jihad, the jihad al-akhbar ñ or the Major Battle, the struggle with oneís own self to give up bad things, and practise the pillars of Islam ñ the bearing of witness, prayer, fasting, charity and hajj, even if it is a tough and difficult struggle ñ and do oneís utmost to develop a kind, compassionate, unselfish and generous way of life. One of Aliís sayings was: ëTo fight against one’s desires is the greatest of all fights. The strongest amongst you are those who conquer their own selves.í Actions usually speak louder than words. If we do not practise what we preach, people soon notice that we are hypocrites. This Islamic way of life cannot be forced on people; no-one can be compelled to be kind, generous, prayerful and so on.
The Prophet (pbuh) was never told to force people to believe anything, or to condemn them, or be nasty to them, or fight them if they did not agree ñ so long as they kept the peace.
Allah told him: ëYour duty is only to convey the message.í 3.20, 5.92,99.
ëThe delivery of the message is the duty for you, and the judgement is the duty for Us.í 13.40.
ëEven if they turn away, you are responsible only for the delivery of the clear message.í 16.82.
In fact, it is impossible to force anyone to believe anything without education. However, if you present the evidence, show the results and the consequences of actions, present the proofs ñ then some people will choose to believe. If certain Muslims are keeping the Five Pillars just because they have been told to, or are scared not to, they have not really arrived at the stage of belief. They may be trying hard, and being good, but Faith is not complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly. If you try to force a belief on someone, the attempt is really ridiculous, and can only work through tyranny and aggression, and the fear of the person forced of the consequences of upsetting you.
The way of dawah in Islam is to make as clear as possible the evidences and proofs ñ then leave people to believe or disbelieve what they want. They have their rights. They may not be ready to believe or follow the Muslim way. Nowhere does Allah give permission to force or kill people who refuse to accept the message. Let us see His word again: ëTo deliver the message is the duty for you, and to judge is the duty for Us.í 13.40. Allah is the Judge. It is for Him to decide, in ultimate terms, what the fate will be of those who reject the message. It is up to us to show that everything in the message is good, and promotes goodness and happiness and progress and peace. Remember, Allah never asked anyone to promote anything that was evil, or harmful, or hurtful verbally, physically, mentally or morally. The message was and is all good.
Bigotry is the sign of ignorance and lack of ethical sensitivity. Moderate Muslims must rebel against the ignorance of intolerance. We cannot force the extremists to shut up, for censorship is not Islamic. But each time bigots speak out, moderate and responsible voices must immediately condemn them. Let them know that those who espouse intolerance will never be our heroes.
I suppose that one good thing that might come out of last yearís horror could be that people can begin to realise that the word ëMuslimí does not just equal ëArabí or ëPakistanií. It is a faith, not a nationality. There are multitudes of Muslims of all nationalities from Aborigine to Eskimo. Many brown people are not Muslims ñ they could be Hindu or Buddhist or no religion at all, or, like Dr Nazir Ali, a candidate for the job of next Archbishop of Canterbury. Some Arabs are not Muslims at all ñ not least the many Palestinian Christians, such as the PLO spokesperson Dr Hanan Ashrawi and the families of Bethlehem. Some who get labelled as ëIslamic extremistsí are actually Christians ñ for example, the Palestinian group Hamas was founded and led by a Christian, George Habash. And there are millions of Muslims who are not Arab, Asian, or any particular shade of brown. Islam is a world-faith, and involves a decision to submit oneís own will to the will of God. It is not a national or cultural feature.
The USA is not the Great Satan ñ it is one of the places where Islam has not only made its home, but seen the most rapid and successful strides made in recent years. It is rapidly becoming a teaching centre for Islam. The USA was just about to issue its first postage stamp commemorating Eid! There are now some 7 million Muslims living in America, of many ethnic origins, but most of them now of American nationality. Last year I attended the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, which attracted some 35,000 Muslims under one roof ñ an inspiring occasion, full of hopes for the future of Islam in America. And in the European countries Islam is making enormous strides too, especially in the UK. I believe the UK is the only country in the world where non-religious examination boards have set up the opportunity for any person to study Islam to GCSE, AS/A level and degree level, and where a non-religious government has paid me personally the honour of ordering a copy of my dawah book ëWhat Every Christian Should know about Islamí to hand to all the MPs!
However, I know from long experience that just when one begins to be in hopes of some religious progress and success, something crops up to oppose it. I guess this is how the Devil works. I would certainly equate the works of extremists and terrorists with the works of the Devil ñ and most definitely not of God – whether you wish to call God Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah or Our Father in Heaven. I remember being called up by our local radio after the extremist attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut in southern Egypt, and asked to explain the Muslim actions and point of view. The interviewer was quite surprised when I suggested that the Muslims involved were not the terrorists but the police trying to protect the tourists, the ambulence men and nurses quickly on the scene, the villagers who rushed to help. Oh ñ were they Muslims? Of course they were. The terrorists were the very opposite of Muslims ñ they were terrorists and murderers.
They were also surprised when asking me about the Muslim leaders and people of influence in this country. They were thinking in terms of Asian Muslim Imams coming here as experts in the Qurían to run local mosques, who might possibly not even speak English; I was thinking more of the ëMuslims in suits and white coatsí ñ the brain surgeons and medical and scientific experts we see so often on the TV ñ who the general public might not even realise were Muslims.
The Devil takes many, many disguises, and the Devil in holy disguise is the most dangerous form there is ñ his followers are so righteous, so devout, so self-sacrificing for the cause, so determined that nothing will stand in their ëway of serving Godí, and they usually have the personality to browbeat others into silence, especially when they come in gangs rather than individuals.
To quote a friend: ëPeople do not accept the word of Islam by being shouted at by some demagogue at a speakerís corner, or by reading some angry little pamphlet pushed into their hand by a wandering distributor of tracts. They convert through personal experience of Muslims who are living in the right way.í But extremists ëhaunt our mosques and shout at any form of disagreement, and are either ignorant of Muslim history or dismiss it as a gigantic mistakeÖ.They are the elect, and all disagreement with them is blasphemy against God.í (From ëBritish and Muslimí by Abdal Hakim Murad). They cannot, for a moment, understand that this attitude is actually blasphemy.
Their brand of Islam is not Islam, and it is high time for them to be properly labelled for what they are. They do not have an identifying name at the moment ñ the word Fundamentalist is not accurate, neither is extremist. I would like to call their faith something like Islamiolatry. They are not Muslims but Islamiots or Zealotologists. Once a sectarian can be identified by a name, then people find it much easier to understand that these are at least deviants from the faith, and might even be a kind of ëfifth columní of enemies to the faith.
We Muslims should accept honestly that once a person can be labelled by a sectarian title, then it follows they should admit openly that they have left the mainstream and become something else. It may be that the members of the Ulster Volunteer Force or the IRA are all Christians, but once they can be referred to by their particular label, then that is what they represent, and not Christianity, the faith. If you are a Taliban, or a Deobandi, or an Ahmadiyyah, or a Hizb ut-Tahriri, or a Salafi, or a Sufi, or a Hizbollahi, or al-Qaeda or Bin Ladenist or any other title ñ then good luck to you, you are being open about what you are, but you must not claim to be representative of Islam, the faith. A sectarian may be a fervent believer, but is no more representative of Islam than the equally fervent believers of the Ku Klux Klan or other extreme sects represent Christianity.
The UK leader of a group called the Muhajirun apparently declared after September 11th that ëMuslims throughout the country and across the world are celebrating today.í Do you see the point? That person boldly made that statement, claiming to speak for Islam, while Yasser Arafat gave his own blood, 100-odd Muslim medics rushed to give their services at the scene, and the spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain declared on the contrary that ëthere are no adequate words to express our condemnation of this act of terrorism against innocent people. Those evil persons responsible will stand guilty and condemned for all eternity.í
May God bless and soothe all the souls of the newly departed, and grant their new state of being to be a blessed one, in which they perhaps may even somehow be able to help their bereaved loved ones not to grieve for ever, but to live in faith and hope. May the bereaved find courage to treasure their memories of the departed, and continue their own life-spans here on earth with patience, and faith that the Afterlife is Real, and that one day they will all, inshaíAllah, meet again. None of us knows when the hour of our death will come, or where, or how ñ we must live every moment we are granted as best we can, and love those granted to us while we have the opportunity to do so, and not waste a second of our precious lives. Amen.
May God bless you all, wasalaam, Ruqaiyyah.

Shagufta Yergatti on April 9, 2008 at 3:20 am

Islam, the Religion of Peace
by
Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Islam always seems to get a bad press. It is hardly surprising, seeing what has made the news recently, that Muslims are thought of as fanatical, cruel, vengeful, and full of hatred for non-Muslims and in particular the West, especially America. One impression given is that if people will not accept Islam, they will be attacked by Muslim zealots who want to force them either to accept it, or be wiped out. Our screens are full of angry, bearded armed fanatics, and unless we happen to know something about the politics of the wider world, they seem to be determined to hate us and attack us for no good reason at all. To many people in the west who contribute to charity and aid programmes for underdeveloped countries or people facing disaster, it makes them also seem very ungrateful and grossly unfair. The usual ignorant response from people who are ignorant about real Islam and the real situation, is to cry: ëWe donít want them here ñ send them all back home.í
The trouble comes in identifying ëweí and ëthemí. I, of course, am one of ëthemí, although I dare say if you looked at me without hijab you might think I ought to be one of ëweí. Letís take me as an example of a typical English Muslim. I am not brown or black, am not an Arab or an Asian, and was born here, and am now an old-age pensioner, having been the Head of a Religious Studies department in some of the UKís toughest schools all my life. Since September 11th, and some articles in the papers, I have received anonymous letters suggesting that ëI go backí, or at least pick a third world country of my choice and go and live there, if I am so keen to defend abusers and terrorists. What has driven me mad about these letters is that they never give a name and address that I could reply to, for nearly all their objections to Islam are objections I would heartily agree with ñ I would love to be able to show them that when one takes a good look at all the criticisms of Islam that crop up in the media ñ the violence, fanaticism, bigotry and abuse ñ these are not actually criticisms of Islam at all.
It is the old trap of judging a faith with all its ideals and principles by the behaviour of some of its worst, or most eccentric, or most biased devotees. It is rather like judging Christianity by the behaviour of certain individuals such as IRA and UFF terrorists because they are Roman Catholics or extreme Protestants. The problem for Islam is that Muslims ñ like Christians – are not all the same, and some do indeed choose to interpret the Qurían and hadith in ways that horrify the mainstream. They follow a weird type of Islam promoted by certain bigots who really seem to enjoy embarrassing all other Muslims with their narrowness of vision and crudeness of sentiment. Being totally convinced and fervent in their own beliefs, they are quite unconcerned that many of their preoccupations and statements that misinterpret Islam only serve to make all Muslims look irrational, hateful, oppressive, abusive and downright odd. It all gives Islam a very bad name.
Just as objectionable for us Muslims is that most of their bigotry is directed at fellow Muslims! Ever heard of the saying: ëDivide, and conquerí? If Muslims become divided, who is it that will conquer, if not Shaytan? Being told what to do, and having it forced upon us, when we are not convinced that it is right or right for us, is extremely negative and divisive. Allah actually taught us most clearly that there was to be no compulsion in religion. Surah 2:256 is the most forthright: ëThere is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has been made clearly distinct from error, and whoever (chooses it and) renounces the forces of Satan and believes in Allah has grasped the firm hand-hold that will never break. Allah, Whose hand-hold you have grasped, hears all and knows all.í
As it happens, we Muslims do have the duty to point out when we think something is wrong, and to explain our point of view in such a way as will convince ñ but this pointing out is to be done without arrogance or sense of superiority, and our explanations are to be given in the best possible way, polite and gentle ways that will not drive people away from Allah, but will hopefully attract them.
There are two highly unpleasant characteristics about extremists in any religion. The first is that these fanatics firmly believe that what they believe is right, and that what everyone else believes is inadequate, or just plain wrong. This shows up in the practice known as takfir ñ accusing all those who do not agree with their interpretation ñ even people known to be practising Muslims – of being kuffar. The second is that fanatics claim they do what they do because God wills it, and being devout worshippers of God, they are prepared to die for Him should He demand it. This is a gross and arrogant claim – God wills nothing of the sort.
History has thrown up hundreds of misguided religious people who think they are doing the will of God, when it is more likely the will of the Devil. Think of the example of the Yorkshire Ripper, who claimed that he thought he was doing Godís will by cutting the throats of prostitutes. There have been cases of Islamic extremists committing exactly the same crime (and even worse, for some of the girls killed by Muslims were actually innocent of any sexual activity at all, and were no more than family members, daughters or sisters, who had simply spoken to a man in public and been informed on). Did the Prophet (pbuh) ever meet a prostitute, and if so, how did he react? He did indeed, and recommended that this particular lady was worthy of Paradise, in spite of her profession, because she had been kind to a cat; he compared her to another woman, one of prayer and piety, but who had starved her animal, and would therefore face punishment from the God of Compassion who sees everything, and judges everything.
What extremists do is to project their own hatreds or interpretations on to what they dislike, and ignoring the compassion of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). And in so doing, although they may be highly religious people, they unfortunately take on the role of aggressors not of missionaries for the faith (which is what they think they are!). No-one doubts their sincerity or fervour, but something has happened to their characters which makes them blind to other highly important principles in Islam which have to be taken most seriously.
Islam is not a religion of war but a religion of peace. It is true that Muslims sometimes have to take up arms and do battle, just as Christians sometimes have to do likewise, but it is not a religion of war. It is true that Jesus never ever fought in battles, and taught people to turn the other cheek, whereas the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was involved in fighting. However, when we make a fair comparison, we see that Jesus died when he was in his early thirties, and had not been dragged into confrontation with the major enemy of the time ñ the Romans. If what Christians believe is true, the first time he actually challenged them publicly, they arrested him and he was dead by the end of the week.
The Prophet (pbuh) on the other hand, lived to be 63, and was involved in ruling a kingdom and acting in its defence. Some people think he was always fighting, but actually, if you tot up all the days he was occupied in defensive warfare, it comes to less than one year. His most famous battles lasted only one day, and not only were there few slain, but with very few exceptions (by a handful of zealous believers who went beyond the bounds of what they were ordered, and were taken severely to task for it) the captives and enemy wounded were treated with compassion and decency. None of this warfare was started by him, or was aggressive, or for nationalistic or political reasons, or out of personal ambition. Even when the Prophet (pbuh) a few months before his 60th birthday gave his army permission to capture Makkah, the only people slain were a group that attacked his general Khalid, and only ten of his enemies were condemned to death for previous crimes which had legally earned them the death penalty (and not simply because they had been captured in war), and only four of these were actually executed.
The Prophetís (pbuh) warfare began when he was over 50, after he and his companions had migrated away from the hostility of Makkah and gone to Madinah. In spite of this move away from their old homes, the Makkans were still not appeased and were still working on ways and means to destroy them and wipe out Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) had only been in Madinah a couple of years when his guiding angel revealed something that proved to be a turning point for him. He had always taught that he himself and all those who accepted the faith should bear the persecutions they faced with fortitude and patience, and not strike back. Now, in Madinah, he received permission for Muslims to defend the faith and themselves by force of arms if necessary. The words were: ëLeave is given to those who fight because they have been wronged ñ and surely God is able to help them ñ those who were expelled from their homes without justification, simply for saying ëOur Lord is Godí (Surah 22:40-41).
If the call to arms was the only way to satisfactorily put an end to the opposition and persecution from Makkah, then so be it. Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat that include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good people were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
If warfare became necessary, it was only to be defensive, as a result of provocation, and to last only until the enemy agreed to make peace terms: ëFight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors.í (Surah 2: 190).
ëAnd fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease let there be no more hostility except to those who (continue to) practice oppression.í (Surah 2.193).
“If they seek peace, then you must seek peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things.” (Qur’an 8:61)
Allah told His Messenger to value human life above all else: ëWho so ever kills a human being for other than murder or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all of humanity, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all of humanity.í (Surah 5:32).
There was, however, no question of Muslims being given permission to go out to harass or attack people, or try to co-erce non-believers into accepting their faith.
Allahís words in the Qurían were quite clear: ëThere should be no coercion in the matter of faithí (Surah 2:256), and Surah 10:99-100: ëIf it had been the Lord’s Will for all who are on earth to believe, they would have believed! How do you, therefore, think you can compel people to believe against their will? No soul can believe except by the Will of Allah, and He Himself places doubt (or obscurity) in the minds of those who do not wish to understand.í
ëProclaim: This is the Truth from your Lord; whoever will believe, let them believe, and whoever will, let them disbelieve.í (18:29).
Co-ercion is, and always has been, totally contrary to the will of God, and abhorrent to the nature of the gentle and peace-loving Muhammad (pbuh). The word for ëstrivingí or ëstruggleí is ëjihadí. It applies to the whole of a personís daily striving to do the will of God by living in the best possible way, and only becomes connected with military activity when force becomes necessary to defend the oppressed and to preserve the True Faith in times of persecution. At those times a Muslim would be shamed if he or she did not rush to the defence of the right. There is no question of jihad meaning innocent people being attacked, or of any people being coerced into becoming Muslims by force – a logical impossibility in any case, for Islam is a matter of the heart and of personal conviction. People cannot be forced to believe something they do not believe, any more than Muslims can be forced to pray or fast, or perform any of the compulsory acts, or be unselfish, or courageous, or truthful, or compassionate, or generous. If they choose to do so, out of love for Allah, then that is their wonderful dedication and service to Him, and nothing to do with force.
When he later sent letters to Jewish and Christian rulers the Blessed Prophet put it very clearly in writing that: ëIf Jews or Christians become Muslims, they are then believers with rights and obligations. But those who (decide to) hold fast to their (old) religion are not to be turned from it. They (only) must pay the jizya (poll tax for rights of protection).í Ibn Ishaq p.643. As regarded the synagogues and churches of the People of the Book, far from Muslims being asked to attack them it became a Muslim duty to protect them, for these were also places of worship of the One True God.
ëIf God did not sometimes drive back some people by means of others, many cloisters and churches, oratories and mosques where Godís name is called upon, would have been destroyed.í (Surah 22:40).
All his life the Prophet (pbuh) had hated hostility, and had spent so much of the less-public side of his mission healing rifts, calming down opponents and putting things right, solving disputes and healing marriages. Permission to fight was only granted for one reason ñ the same that had been the impetus for the order of chivalry that he joined in his youth, the Hilf al-Fudul ñ that no matter how reluctant one might be to get involved, it was cowardly and dishonourable to see injustice and tyranny and do nothing about it. The necessary stand for justice and freedom against the bitter hostility of oppressors, tyrants and aggressive bullies is always a matter that one might be proud of and not ashamed. The state of war with the Quraysh of Makkah and their allies arose solely because of the Quraysh persecution of Muslims which had driven them to abandon their homes, status, property and in many cases, hopes of inheritance. The Muslims did not seek this warfare, but the Quraysh had brought it upon themselves.
The Prophetís (pbuh) angel stated: ëWhy should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed? Men, women and children, whose cry is: Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us one who will protect and help us.í (Surah 4:75).
He also stated: ëO believers ñ be seekers after justice; witnesses for God, even though it be against yourselves or your parents or kinsmen, or whether the person be rich or poor, for Allah is the protector of both. So do not follow the base desires of your hearts lest you become ëbentí; for if you distort or decline to do justice, truly (you will not be able to hide it from) Allah (who) knows very well all that you do!í Surah 4:135.
The Prophet (pbuh) was calm but firm. ëAnyone who walks with an oppressor to strengthen him, knowing that he is an oppressor, has gone forth from Islam.í He taught that ëhe who sees something abominable should strive to alter it with the help of his own hand; if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not the strength enough for that, then he should at least abhor it in his heart.í Muslim 16.
When Allahís Messenger (pbuh) appointed anyone as leader of an army his instructions were clear: ëFight in the name of Allah and in the cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. But wage your war in a holy manner: do not embezzle the spoils, do not break your pledge, do not mutilate (the dead) and do not kill the children. When you are faced with enemies who are non-believers, (before any warfare you must first) offer them three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, then you also must accept it, and restrain yourself from doing them any harm.
The first is to invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to this positively, then accept it from them and do not fight against them. Also explain that if they then leave their nonbelieving communities and go to a place of believers, they shall immediately share all the privileges and also the obligations of the others who have done this. If they do not wish to migrate, then tell them that they will have the status of Muslims who are not living in a Muslim society (like ourselves in the UK), and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not receive any share from the spoils of war or tributes unless they actually join with the Muslims (against the nonbelievers). However, if they refuse to accept Islam altogether, demand from them the community tax. If they agree to pay (for the privileges it will bring them), then accept this decision and hold your hand. Only if they refuse to pay the tax, must you seek Allah’s help and fight them.í Muslim 804.
These are just some of the texts that the extremists have picked out and twisted to justify their terrorist campaigns. They point out the clear command to do something about evil, but make full use of the legal loophole here to identify evil how they will, and ignore Allahís desire to spread peace and goodwill and compassion, and temper justice with mercy.
Hereís an account of what happened to Sheikh Suhayl when he was captured, one of the Prophetís (pbuh) bitter and outspoken enemies. He was a man who had a cleft lower lip. Umar threatened to pull out his two front teeth too – ëThen his tongue will hang out, and he will never be able to speak against you again!í The Prophet (pbuh) was not pleased, rebuked the future Caliph, and gave a reply which was so revealing of his modest, compassionate and wise nature. ëI will certainly not mutilate him,í he replied, ëfor if I did, surely Allah would mutilate me, even though I am His Messenger. Think – it may be that one day this man will make a stand for which you will not be able to find fault with him.í
Suhayl did indeed become a Muslim hero, and died a Muslim martyr in the Battle of Yarmuk. The Prophetís (pbuh) forward-looking and generous attitude is an important sunnah for those zealots who regard non-Muslim territories (such as ëthe Westí ñ whatever that may mean) as Dar al-Harb (House of War), full of enemies who need conquering. The Prophet (pbuh), on the contrary, saw such territories as Dar al-Dawah (House of Missionary Preaching), full of potential converts.
It should not need saying that the Prophet (pbuh) never suffered from the malicious desire to attack enemies for revenge or to loot people for their wealth, or to set warfare in motion in order to extend his frontiers. ëHe is not one of us who fights the cause of nationalism,í said the Prophet (pbuh). ëHe is not one of us who dies in the cause of nationalism. Nationalism means helping your people in unjust causes.í
Once he was asked whether anyone fighting to display courage, or out of a sense of family or tribal prestige, or in order to show off skills, or for the sake of spoils, or any other worldly motive could be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah. ëCertainly not,í he replied. ëOne can only be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah when it is a question of putting an end to the tyranny of unbelievers when they are actively trying to suppress Islam.í Those who fought for any other motive disentitled themselves to any spiritual reward. Hot-blooded young men often had a desire for glory gained through various kinds of military activity, but tended to ignore the heartbreak and waste of life and resources. In Islam, warfare was regarded as a destructive activity, something to be taken up only in the last resort. It was a ëconflagrationí, which those on the side of Allah would struggle to put out. Surah 5:65 ñ ëWhenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder on the earth, but Allah loves not those who create disorder.í
Muslim warfare ñ as all other aspects of Muslim life ñ is to be conducted with honour, and every effort made to limit its horror and bring hostilities to a close as swiftly as possible. The Prophet (pbuh) utterly forbade torture, killing the weak ñ women, children or old people, or cruelty to prisoners. Muslims were not to kill the wounded, hunt down fleeing enemies, or kill captives. Savage practices from pre-Islamic times such as mutilating the enemy dead or torturing prisoners-of-war were prohibited altogether.
Of course, the Prophet (pbuh) did not always get the chance to control all the actions taken by every individual on his side. Sometimes women and children or prisoners were harmed or killed, but the Prophet (pbuh) always made it very clear that he totally disapproved, and that all prisoners were to be treated with compassion and respect. He always did his best to repair any damage caused, or to settle blood-money.
Whatever he might have felt personally, it was his duty as one submitted to Allah not only to protect those who had entrusted themselves to his leadership, but also to be kind and compassionate to the defeated. ëIt is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. If you are severe and hard-hearted, they will break way from you; so pass over their faults and ask for Godís forgiveness for them.í (Surah 3:159)
Muslims were urged not to let personal animosity interfere with proper justice: ëO believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Deal justly, that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for lo! Allah knows very well all that you do.í (Surah 5:9).
The word jihad does not necessarily even imply military action. The Prophet said, “Any person who looks after widows or the destitute is a mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or the equivalent of one who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” Bukhari 7.265.
The definition of a jihad according to Qurían and sunnah is a struggle or an effort that is exerted in some undertaking in order to attain some end or result. The latter can be a personal one, or if it is ëfi sabiíl illahí ñ it means it is in the cause of Allah. A personal jihad for oneís own cause might involve some form of hard work to accomplish something of value ñ such as learning for an exam, or trying to eliminate some unwanted personal habit such as smoking or obesity. A jihad or struggle in the cause of Allah does not really mean fighting, but trying as hard as one can to do His will, the unceasing effort to counter the activities and influence of Shaytan in the form of wrong beliefs, ideas, values etc that are inflicted on us through thoughts, words and deeds. Things like racism, abuse, cruelty, selfishness, laziness, miserliness, aggression, and oppression.
While the true struggle or jihad ëwith the swordí is a great act of unselfishness and courage on occasions when it has become necessary to defend the innocent and defenceless from unjustified aggression, especially, of course, if it requires the mujahid to sacrifice his or her own life – the jihad ëwith the wordí (dawah) to spread the teachings and values of Islam really has greater significance in practical terms. Jihad through the word was the first command to the Prophet (pbuh), and he kept up doing it throughout the rest of his life until he had successfully transformed a large population of initially ignorant people into a wonderful community.
Many people are trapped in ignorance. It seems to me that ignorance, followed by arrogance and lack of compassion lies at the root of all evil, the causes of all corruption, and the sources of all suffering. The opposite of ignorance has to be knowledge (ilm) that gives rise to wisdom (hiqmah). This jihad is therefore an act of devotion with the same significance as the Five Pillars of Islam, so much so that it is often called the Sixth Pillar. ëStriving after knowledge,í said the Prophet (pbuh), ëis the sacred duty of every man and woman.í (Ibn Majah).
And even more important than the jihad with the word is the inner jihad, the jihad al-akhbar ñ or the Major Battle, the struggle with oneís own self to give up bad things, and practise the pillars of Islam ñ the bearing of witness, prayer, fasting, charity and hajj, even if it is a tough and difficult struggle ñ and do oneís utmost to develop a kind, compassionate, unselfish and generous way of life. One of Aliís sayings was: ëTo fight against one’s desires is the greatest of all fights. The strongest amongst you are those who conquer their own selves.í Actions usually speak louder than words. If we do not practise what we preach, people soon notice that we are hypocrites. This Islamic way of life cannot be forced on people; no-one can be compelled to be kind, generous, prayerful and so on.
The Prophet (pbuh) was never told to force people to believe anything, or to condemn them, or be nasty to them, or fight them if they did not agree ñ so long as they kept the peace.
Allah told him: ëYour duty is only to convey the message.í 3.20, 5.92,99.
ëThe delivery of the message is the duty for you, and the judgement is the duty for Us.í 13.40.
ëEven if they turn away, you are responsible only for the delivery of the clear message.í 16.82.
In fact, it is impossible to force anyone to believe anything without education. However, if you present the evidence, show the results and the consequences of actions, present the proofs ñ then some people will choose to believe. If certain Muslims are keeping the Five Pillars just because they have been told to, or are scared not to, they have not really arrived at the stage of belief. They may be trying hard, and being good, but Faith is not complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly. If you try to force a belief on someone, the attempt is really ridiculous, and can only work through tyranny and aggression, and the fear of the person forced of the consequences of upsetting you.
The way of dawah in Islam is to make as clear as possible the evidences and proofs ñ then leave people to believe or disbelieve what they want. They have their rights. They may not be ready to believe or follow the Muslim way. Nowhere does Allah give permission to force or kill people who refuse to accept the message. Let us see His word again: ëTo deliver the message is the duty for you, and to judge is the duty for Us.í 13.40. Allah is the Judge. It is for Him to decide, in ultimate terms, what the fate will be of those who reject the message. It is up to us to show that everything in the message is good, and promotes goodness and happiness and progress and peace. Remember, Allah never asked anyone to promote anything that was evil, or harmful, or hurtful verbally, physically, mentally or morally. The message was and is all good.
Bigotry is the sign of ignorance and lack of ethical sensitivity. Moderate Muslims must rebel against the ignorance of intolerance. We cannot force the extremists to shut up, for censorship is not Islamic. But each time bigots speak out, moderate and responsible voices must immediately condemn them. Let them know that those who espouse intolerance will never be our heroes.
I suppose that one good thing that might come out of last yearís horror could be that people can begin to realise that the word ëMuslimí does not just equal ëArabí or ëPakistanií. It is a faith, not a nationality. There are multitudes of Muslims of all nationalities from Aborigine to Eskimo. Many brown people are not Muslims ñ they could be Hindu or Buddhist or no religion at all, or, like Dr Nazir Ali, a candidate for the job of next Archbishop of Canterbury. Some Arabs are not Muslims at all ñ not least the many Palestinian Christians, such as the PLO spokesperson Dr Hanan Ashrawi and the families of Bethlehem. Some who get labelled as ëIslamic extremistsí are actually Christians ñ for example, the Palestinian group Hamas was founded and led by a Christian, George Habash. And there are millions of Muslims who are not Arab, Asian, or any particular shade of brown. Islam is a world-faith, and involves a decision to submit oneís own will to the will of God. It is not a national or cultural feature.
The USA is not the Great Satan ñ it is one of the places where Islam has not only made its home, but seen the most rapid and successful strides made in recent years. It is rapidly becoming a teaching centre for Islam. The USA was just about to issue its first postage stamp commemorating Eid! There are now some 7 million Muslims living in America, of many ethnic origins, but most of them now of American nationality. Last year I attended the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, which attracted some 35,000 Muslims under one roof ñ an inspiring occasion, full of hopes for the future of Islam in America. And in the European countries Islam is making enormous strides too, especially in the UK. I believe the UK is the only country in the world where non-religious examination boards have set up the opportunity for any person to study Islam to GCSE, AS/A level and degree level, and where a non-religious government has paid me personally the honour of ordering a copy of my dawah book ëWhat Every Christian Should know about Islamí to hand to all the MPs!
However, I know from long experience that just when one begins to be in hopes of some religious progress and success, something crops up to oppose it. I guess this is how the Devil works. I would certainly equate the works of extremists and terrorists with the works of the Devil ñ and most definitely not of God – whether you wish to call God Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah or Our Father in Heaven. I remember being called up by our local radio after the extremist attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut in southern Egypt, and asked to explain the Muslim actions and point of view. The interviewer was quite surprised when I suggested that the Muslims involved were not the terrorists but the police trying to protect the tourists, the ambulence men and nurses quickly on the scene, the villagers who rushed to help. Oh ñ were they Muslims? Of course they were. The terrorists were the very opposite of Muslims ñ they were terrorists and murderers.
They were also surprised when asking me about the Muslim leaders and people of influence in this country. They were thinking in terms of Asian Muslim Imams coming here as experts in the Qurían to run local mosques, who might possibly not even speak English; I was thinking more of the ëMuslims in suits and white coatsí ñ the brain surgeons and medical and scientific experts we see so often on the TV ñ who the general public might not even realise were Muslims.
The Devil takes many, many disguises, and the Devil in holy disguise is the most dangerous form there is ñ his followers are so righteous, so devout, so self-sacrificing for the cause, so determined that nothing will stand in their ëway of serving Godí, and they usually have the personality to browbeat others into silence, especially when they come in gangs rather than individuals.
To quote a friend: ëPeople do not accept the word of Islam by being shouted at by some demagogue at a speakerís corner, or by reading some angry little pamphlet pushed into their hand by a wandering distributor of tracts. They convert through personal experience of Muslims who are living in the right way.í But extremists ëhaunt our mosques and shout at any form of disagreement, and are either ignorant of Muslim history or dismiss it as a gigantic mistakeÖ.They are the elect, and all disagreement with them is blasphemy against God.í (From ëBritish and Muslimí by Abdal Hakim Murad). They cannot, for a moment, understand that this attitude is actually blasphemy.
Their brand of Islam is not Islam, and it is high time for them to be properly labelled for what they are. They do not have an identifying name at the moment ñ the word Fundamentalist is not accurate, neither is extremist. I would like to call their faith something like Islamiolatry. They are not Muslims but Islamiots or Zealotologists. Once a sectarian can be identified by a name, then people find it much easier to understand that these are at least deviants from the faith, and might even be a kind of ëfifth columní of enemies to the faith.
We Muslims should accept honestly that once a person can be labelled by a sectarian title, then it follows they should admit openly that they have left the mainstream and become something else. It may be that the members of the Ulster Volunteer Force or the IRA are all Christians, but once they can be referred to by their particular label, then that is what they represent, and not Christianity, the faith. If you are a Taliban, or a Deobandi, or an Ahmadiyyah, or a Hizb ut-Tahriri, or a Salafi, or a Sufi, or a Hizbollahi, or al-Qaeda or Bin Ladenist or any other title ñ then good luck to you, you are being open about what you are, but you must not claim to be representative of Islam, the faith. A sectarian may be a fervent believer, but is no more representative of Islam than the equally fervent believers of the Ku Klux Klan or other extreme sects represent Christianity.
The UK leader of a group called the Muhajirun apparently declared after September 11th that ëMuslims throughout the country and across the world are celebrating today.í Do you see the point? That person boldly made that statement, claiming to speak for Islam, while Yasser Arafat gave his own blood, 100-odd Muslim medics rushed to give their services at the scene, and the spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain declared on the contrary that ëthere are no adequate words to express our condemnation of this act of terrorism against innocent people. Those evil persons responsible will stand guilty and condemned for all eternity.í
May God bless and soothe all the souls of the newly departed, and grant their new state of being to be a blessed one, in which they perhaps may even somehow be able to help their bereaved loved ones not to grieve for ever, but to live in faith and hope. May the bereaved find courage to treasure their memories of the departed, and continue their own life-spans here on earth with patience, and faith that the Afterlife is Real, and that one day they will all, inshaíAllah, meet again. None of us knows when the hour of our death will come, or where, or how ñ we must live every moment we are granted as best we can, and love those granted to us while we have the opportunity to do so, and not waste a second of our precious lives. Amen.
May God bless you all, wasalaam, Ruqaiyyah.

Shagufta Yergatti on April 9, 2008 at 3:21 am

Islam, the Religion of Peace
by
Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Islam always seems to get a bad press. It is hardly surprising, seeing what has made the news recently, that Muslims are thought of as fanatical, cruel, vengeful, and full of hatred for non-Muslims and in particular the West, especially America. One impression given is that if people will not accept Islam, they will be attacked by Muslim zealots who want to force them either to accept it, or be wiped out. Our screens are full of angry, bearded armed fanatics, and unless we happen to know something about the politics of the wider world, they seem to be determined to hate us and attack us for no good reason at all. To many people in the west who contribute to charity and aid programmes for underdeveloped countries or people facing disaster, it makes them also seem very ungrateful and grossly unfair. The usual ignorant response from people who are ignorant about real Islam and the real situation, is to cry: ?We don?t want them here ? send them all back home.?
The trouble comes in identifying ?we? and ?them?. I, of course, am one of ?them?, although I dare say if you looked at me without hijab you might think I ought to be one of ?we?. Let?s take me as an example of a typical English Muslim. I am not brown or black, am not an Arab or an Asian, and was born here, and am now an old-age pensioner, having been the Head of a Religious Studies department in some of the UK?s toughest schools all my life. Since September 11th, and some articles in the papers, I have received anonymous letters suggesting that ?I go back?, or at least pick a third world country of my choice and go and live there, if I am so keen to defend abusers and terrorists. What has driven me mad about these letters is that they never give a name and address that I could reply to, for nearly all their objections to Islam are objections I would heartily agree with ? I would love to be able to show them that when one takes a good look at all the criticisms of Islam that crop up in the media ? the violence, fanaticism, bigotry and abuse ? these are not actually criticisms of Islam at all.
It is the old trap of judging a faith with all its ideals and principles by the behaviour of some of its worst, or most eccentric, or most biased devotees. It is rather like judging Christianity by the behaviour of certain individuals such as IRA and UFF terrorists because they are Roman Catholics or extreme Protestants. The problem for Islam is that Muslims ? like Christians – are not all the same, and some do indeed choose to interpret the Qur?an and hadith in ways that horrify the mainstream. They follow a weird type of Islam promoted by certain bigots who really seem to enjoy embarrassing all other Muslims with their narrowness of vision and crudeness of sentiment. Being totally convinced and fervent in their own beliefs, they are quite unconcerned that many of their preoccupations and statements that misinterpret Islam only serve to make all Muslims look irrational, hateful, oppressive, abusive and downright odd. It all gives Islam a very bad name.
Just as objectionable for us Muslims is that most of their bigotry is directed at fellow Muslims! Ever heard of the saying: ?Divide, and conquer?? If Muslims become divided, who is it that will conquer, if not Shaytan? Being told what to do, and having it forced upon us, when we are not convinced that it is right or right for us, is extremely negative and divisive. Allah actually taught us most clearly that there was to be no compulsion in religion. Surah 2:256 is the most forthright: ?There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has been made clearly distinct from error, and whoever (chooses it and) renounces the forces of Satan and believes in Allah has grasped the firm hand-hold that will never break. Allah, Whose hand-hold you have grasped, hears all and knows all.?
As it happens, we Muslims do have the duty to point out when we think something is wrong, and to explain our point of view in such a way as will convince ? but this pointing out is to be done without arrogance or sense of superiority, and our explanations are to be given in the best possible way, polite and gentle ways that will not drive people away from Allah, but will hopefully attract them.
There are two highly unpleasant characteristics about extremists in any religion. The first is that these fanatics firmly believe that what they believe is right, and that what everyone else believes is inadequate, or just plain wrong. This shows up in the practice known as takfir ? accusing all those who do not agree with their interpretation ? even people known to be practising Muslims – of being kuffar. The second is that fanatics claim they do what they do because God wills it, and being devout worshippers of God, they are prepared to die for Him should He demand it. This is a gross and arrogant claim – God wills nothing of the sort.
History has thrown up hundreds of misguided religious people who think they are doing the will of God, when it is more likely the will of the Devil. Think of the example of the Yorkshire Ripper, who claimed that he thought he was doing God?s will by cutting the throats of prostitutes. There have been cases of Islamic extremists committing exactly the same crime (and even worse, for some of the girls killed by Muslims were actually innocent of any sexual activity at all, and were no more than family members, daughters or sisters, who had simply spoken to a man in public and been informed on). Did the Prophet (pbuh) ever meet a prostitute, and if so, how did he react? He did indeed, and recommended that this particular lady was worthy of Paradise, in spite of her profession, because she had been kind to a cat; he compared her to another woman, one of prayer and piety, but who had starved her animal, and would therefore face punishment from the God of Compassion who sees everything, and judges everything.
What extremists do is to project their own hatreds or interpretations on to what they dislike, and ignoring the compassion of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). And in so doing, although they may be highly religious people, they unfortunately take on the role of aggressors not of missionaries for the faith (which is what they think they are!). No-one doubts their sincerity or fervour, but something has happened to their characters which makes them blind to other highly important principles in Islam which have to be taken most seriously.
Islam is not a religion of war but a religion of peace. It is true that Muslims sometimes have to take up arms and do battle, just as Christians sometimes have to do likewise, but it is not a religion of war. It is true that Jesus never ever fought in battles, and taught people to turn the other cheek, whereas the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was involved in fighting. However, when we make a fair comparison, we see that Jesus died when he was in his early thirties, and had not been dragged into confrontation with the major enemy of the time ? the Romans. If what Christians believe is true, the first time he actually challenged them publicly, they arrested him and he was dead by the end of the week.
The Prophet (pbuh) on the other hand, lived to be 63, and was involved in ruling a kingdom and acting in its defence. Some people think he was always fighting, but actually, if you tot up all the days he was occupied in defensive warfare, it comes to less than one year. His most famous battles lasted only one day, and not only were there few slain, but with very few exceptions (by a handful of zealous believers who went beyond the bounds of what they were ordered, and were taken severely to task for it) the captives and enemy wounded were treated with compassion and decency. None of this warfare was started by him, or was aggressive, or for nationalistic or political reasons, or out of personal ambition. Even when the Prophet (pbuh) a few months before his 60th birthday gave his army permission to capture Makkah, the only people slain were a group that attacked his general Khalid, and only ten of his enemies were condemned to death for previous crimes which had legally earned them the death penalty (and not simply because they had been captured in war), and only four of these were actually executed.
The Prophet?s (pbuh) warfare began when he was over 50, after he and his companions had migrated away from the hostility of Makkah and gone to Madinah. In spite of this move away from their old homes, the Makkans were still not appeased and were still working on ways and means to destroy them and wipe out Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) had only been in Madinah a couple of years when his guiding angel revealed something that proved to be a turning point for him. He had always taught that he himself and all those who accepted the faith should bear the persecutions they faced with fortitude and patience, and not strike back. Now, in Madinah, he received permission for Muslims to defend the faith and themselves by force of arms if necessary. The words were: ?Leave is given to those who fight because they have been wronged ? and surely God is able to help them ? those who were expelled from their homes without justification, simply for saying ?Our Lord is God? (Surah 22:40-41).
If the call to arms was the only way to satisfactorily put an end to the opposition and persecution from Makkah, then so be it. Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat that include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good people were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause.
If warfare became necessary, it was only to be defensive, as a result of provocation, and to last only until the enemy agreed to make peace terms: ?Fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors.? (Surah 2: 190).
?And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease let there be no more hostility except to those who (continue to) practice oppression.? (Surah 2.193).
“If they seek peace, then you must seek peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things.” (Qur’an 8:61)
Allah told His Messenger to value human life above all else: ?Who so ever kills a human being for other than murder or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he has killed all of humanity, and who so ever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all of humanity.? (Surah 5:32).
There was, however, no question of Muslims being given permission to go out to harass or attack people, or try to co-erce non-believers into accepting their faith.
Allah?s words in the Qur?an were quite clear: ?There should be no coercion in the matter of faith? (Surah 2:256), and Surah 10:99-100: ?If it had been the Lord’s Will for all who are on earth to believe, they would have believed! How do you, therefore, think you can compel people to believe against their will? No soul can believe except by the Will of Allah, and He Himself places doubt (or obscurity) in the minds of those who do not wish to understand.?
?Proclaim: This is the Truth from your Lord; whoever will believe, let them believe, and whoever will, let them disbelieve.? (18:29).
Co-ercion is, and always has been, totally contrary to the will of God, and abhorrent to the nature of the gentle and peace-loving Muhammad (pbuh). The word for ?striving? or ?struggle? is ?jihad?. It applies to the whole of a person?s daily striving to do the will of God by living in the best possible way, and only becomes connected with military activity when force becomes necessary to defend the oppressed and to preserve the True Faith in times of persecution. At those times a Muslim would be shamed if he or she did not rush to the defence of the right. There is no question of jihad meaning innocent people being attacked, or of any people being coerced into becoming Muslims by force – a logical impossibility in any case, for Islam is a matter of the heart and of personal conviction. People cannot be forced to believe something they do not believe, any more than Muslims can be forced to pray or fast, or perform any of the compulsory acts, or be unselfish, or courageous, or truthful, or compassionate, or generous. If they choose to do so, out of love for Allah, then that is their wonderful dedication and service to Him, and nothing to do with force.
When he later sent letters to Jewish and Christian rulers the Blessed Prophet put it very clearly in writing that: ?If Jews or Christians become Muslims, they are then believers with rights and obligations. But those who (decide to) hold fast to their (old) religion are not to be turned from it. They (only) must pay the jizya (poll tax for rights of protection).? Ibn Ishaq p.643. As regarded the synagogues and churches of the People of the Book, far from Muslims being asked to attack them it became a Muslim duty to protect them, for these were also places of worship of the One True God.
?If God did not sometimes drive back some people by means of others, many cloisters and churches, oratories and mosques where God?s name is called upon, would have been destroyed.? (Surah 22:40).
All his life the Prophet (pbuh) had hated hostility, and had spent so much of the less-public side of his mission healing rifts, calming down opponents and putting things right, solving disputes and healing marriages. Permission to fight was only granted for one reason ? the same that had been the impetus for the order of chivalry that he joined in his youth, the Hilf al-Fudul ? that no matter how reluctant one might be to get involved, it was cowardly and dishonourable to see injustice and tyranny and do nothing about it. The necessary stand for justice and freedom against the bitter hostility of oppressors, tyrants and aggressive bullies is always a matter that one might be proud of and not ashamed. The state of war with the Quraysh of Makkah and their allies arose solely because of the Quraysh persecution of Muslims which had driven them to abandon their homes, status, property and in many cases, hopes of inheritance. The Muslims did not seek this warfare, but the Quraysh had brought it upon themselves.
The Prophet?s (pbuh) angel stated: ?Why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated and oppressed? Men, women and children, whose cry is: Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors, and raise for us one who will protect and help us.? (Surah 4:75).
He also stated: ?O believers ? be seekers after justice; witnesses for God, even though it be against yourselves or your parents or kinsmen, or whether the person be rich or poor, for Allah is the protector of both. So do not follow the base desires of your hearts lest you become ?bent?; for if you distort or decline to do justice, truly (you will not be able to hide it from) Allah (who) knows very well all that you do!? Surah 4:135.
The Prophet (pbuh) was calm but firm. ?Anyone who walks with an oppressor to strengthen him, knowing that he is an oppressor, has gone forth from Islam.? He taught that ?he who sees something abominable should strive to alter it with the help of his own hand; if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not the strength enough for that, then he should at least abhor it in his heart.? Muslim 16.
When Allah?s Messenger (pbuh) appointed anyone as leader of an army his instructions were clear: ?Fight in the name of Allah and in the cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. But wage your war in a holy manner: do not embezzle the spoils, do not break your pledge, do not mutilate (the dead) and do not kill the children. When you are faced with enemies who are non-believers, (before any warfare you must first) offer them three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, then you also must accept it, and restrain yourself from doing them any harm.
The first is to invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to this positively, then accept it from them and do not fight against them. Also explain that if they then leave their nonbelieving communities and go to a place of believers, they shall immediately share all the privileges and also the obligations of the others who have done this. If they do not wish to migrate, then tell them that they will have the status of Muslims who are not living in a Muslim society (like ourselves in the UK), and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not receive any share from the spoils of war or tributes unless they actually join with the Muslims (against the nonbelievers). However, if they refuse to accept Islam altogether, demand from them the community tax. If they agree to pay (for the privileges it will bring them), then accept this decision and hold your hand. Only if they refuse to pay the tax, must you seek Allah’s help and fight them.? Muslim 804.
These are just some of the texts that the extremists have picked out and twisted to justify their terrorist campaigns. They point out the clear command to do something about evil, but make full use of the legal loophole here to identify evil how they will, and ignore Allah?s desire to spread peace and goodwill and compassion, and temper justice with mercy.
Here?s an account of what happened to Sheikh Suhayl when he was captured, one of the Prophet?s (pbuh) bitter and outspoken enemies. He was a man who had a cleft lower lip. Umar threatened to pull out his two front teeth too – ?Then his tongue will hang out, and he will never be able to speak against you again!? The Prophet (pbuh) was not pleased, rebuked the future Caliph, and gave a reply which was so revealing of his modest, compassionate and wise nature. ?I will certainly not mutilate him,? he replied, ?for if I did, surely Allah would mutilate me, even though I am His Messenger. Think – it may be that one day this man will make a stand for which you will not be able to find fault with him.?
Suhayl did indeed become a Muslim hero, and died a Muslim martyr in the Battle of Yarmuk. The Prophet?s (pbuh) forward-looking and generous attitude is an important sunnah for those zealots who regard non-Muslim territories (such as ?the West? ? whatever that may mean) as Dar al-Harb (House of War), full of enemies who need conquering. The Prophet (pbuh), on the contrary, saw such territories as Dar al-Dawah (House of Missionary Preaching), full of potential converts.
It should not need saying that the Prophet (pbuh) never suffered from the malicious desire to attack enemies for revenge or to loot people for their wealth, or to set warfare in motion in order to extend his frontiers. ?He is not one of us who fights the cause of nationalism,? said the Prophet (pbuh). ?He is not one of us who dies in the cause of nationalism. Nationalism means helping your people in unjust causes.?
Once he was asked whether anyone fighting to display courage, or out of a sense of family or tribal prestige, or in order to show off skills, or for the sake of spoils, or any other worldly motive could be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah. ?Certainly not,? he replied. ?One can only be considered as fighting for the cause of Allah when it is a question of putting an end to the tyranny of unbelievers when they are actively trying to suppress Islam.? Those who fought for any other motive disentitled themselves to any spiritual reward. Hot-blooded young men often had a desire for glory gained through various kinds of military activity, but tended to ignore the heartbreak and waste of life and resources. In Islam, warfare was regarded as a destructive activity, something to be taken up only in the last resort. It was a ?conflagration?, which those on the side of Allah would struggle to put out. Surah 5:65 ? ?Whenever they kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder on the earth, but Allah loves not those who create disorder.?
Muslim warfare ? as all other aspects of Muslim life ? is to be conducted with honour, and every effort made to limit its horror and bring hostilities to a close as swiftly as possible. The Prophet (pbuh) utterly forbade torture, killing the weak ? women, children or old people, or cruelty to prisoners. Muslims were not to kill the wounded, hunt down fleeing enemies, or kill captives. Savage practices from pre-Islamic times such as mutilating the enemy dead or torturing prisoners-of-war were prohibited altogether.
Of course, the Prophet (pbuh) did not always get the chance to control all the actions taken by every individual on his side. Sometimes women and children or prisoners were harmed or killed, but the Prophet (pbuh) always made it very clear that he totally disapproved, and that all prisoners were to be treated with compassion and respect. He always did his best to repair any damage caused, or to settle blood-money.
Whatever he might have felt personally, it was his duty as one submitted to Allah not only to protect those who had entrusted themselves to his leadership, but also to be kind and compassionate to the defeated. ?It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. If you are severe and hard-hearted, they will break way from you; so pass over their faults and ask for God?s forgiveness for them.? (Surah 3:159)
Muslims were urged not to let personal animosity interfere with proper justice: ?O believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Deal justly, that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for lo! Allah knows very well all that you do.? (Surah 5:9).
The word jihad does not necessarily even imply military action. The Prophet said, “Any person who looks after widows or the destitute is a mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or the equivalent of one who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” Bukhari 7.265.
The definition of a jihad according to Qur?an and sunnah is a struggle or an effort that is exerted in some undertaking in order to attain some end or result. The latter can be a personal one, or if it is ?fi sabi?l illah? ? it means it is in the cause of Allah. A personal jihad for one?s own cause might involve some form of hard work to accomplish something of value ? such as learning for an exam, or trying to eliminate some unwanted personal habit such as smoking or obesity. A jihad or struggle in the cause of Allah does not really mean fighting, but trying as hard as one can to do His will, the unceasing effort to counter the activities and influence of Shaytan in the form of wrong beliefs, ideas, values etc that are inflicted on us through thoughts, words and deeds. Things like racism, abuse, cruelty, selfishness, laziness, miserliness, aggression, and oppression.
While the true struggle or jihad ?with the sword? is a great act of unselfishness and courage on occasions when it has become necessary to defend the innocent and defenceless from unjustified aggression, especially, of course, if it requires the mujahid to sacrifice his or her own life – the jihad ?with the word? (dawah) to spread the teachings and values of Islam really has greater significance in practical terms. Jihad through the word was the first command to the Prophet (pbuh), and he kept up doing it throughout the rest of his life until he had successfully transformed a large population of initially ignorant people into a wonderful community.
Many people are trapped in ignorance. It seems to me that ignorance, followed by arrogance and lack of compassion lies at the root of all evil, the causes of all corruption, and the sources of all suffering. The opposite of ignorance has to be knowledge (ilm) that gives rise to wisdom (hiqmah). This jihad is therefore an act of devotion with the same significance as the Five Pillars of Islam, so much so that it is often called the Sixth Pillar. ?Striving after knowledge,? said the Prophet (pbuh), ?is the sacred duty of every man and woman.? (Ibn Majah).
And even more important than the jihad with the word is the inner jihad, the jihad al-akhbar ? or the Major Battle, the struggle with one?s own self to give up bad things, and practise the pillars of Islam ? the bearing of witness, prayer, fasting, charity and hajj, even if it is a tough and difficult struggle ? and do one?s utmost to develop a kind, compassionate, unselfish and generous way of life. One of Ali?s sayings was: ?To fight against one’s desires is the greatest of all fights. The strongest amongst you are those who conquer their own selves.? Actions usually speak louder than words. If we do not practise what we preach, people soon notice that we are hypocrites. This Islamic way of life cannot be forced on people; no-one can be compelled to be kind, generous, prayerful and so on.
The Prophet (pbuh) was never told to force people to believe anything, or to condemn them, or be nasty to them, or fight them if they did not agree ? so long as they kept the peace.
Allah told him: ?Your duty is only to convey the message.? 3.20, 5.92,99.
?The delivery of the message is the duty for you, and the judgement is the duty for Us.? 13.40.
?Even if they turn away, you are responsible only for the delivery of the clear message.? 16.82.
In fact, it is impossible to force anyone to believe anything without education. However, if you present the evidence, show the results and the consequences of actions, present the proofs ? then some people will choose to believe. If certain Muslims are keeping the Five Pillars just because they have been told to, or are scared not to, they have not really arrived at the stage of belief. They may be trying hard, and being good, but Faith is not complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly. If you try to force a belief on someone, the attempt is really ridiculous, and can only work through tyranny and aggression, and the fear of the person forced of the consequences of upsetting you.
The way of dawah in Islam is to make as clear as possible the evidences and proofs ? then leave people to believe or disbelieve what they want. They have their rights. They may not be ready to believe or follow the Muslim way. Nowhere does Allah give permission to force or kill people who refuse to accept the message. Let us see His word again: ?To deliver the message is the duty for you, and to judge is the duty for Us.? 13.40. Allah is the Judge. It is for Him to decide, in ultimate terms, what the fate will be of those who reject the message. It is up to us to show that everything in the message is good, and promotes goodness and happiness and progress and peace. Remember, Allah never asked anyone to promote anything that was evil, or harmful, or hurtful verbally, physically, mentally or morally. The message was and is all good.
Bigotry is the sign of ignorance and lack of ethical sensitivity. Moderate Muslims must rebel against the ignorance of intolerance. We cannot force the extremists to shut up, for censorship is not Islamic. But each time bigots speak out, moderate and responsible voices must immediately condemn them. Let them know that those who espouse intolerance will never be our heroes.
I suppose that one good thing that might come out of last year?s horror could be that people can begin to realise that the word ?Muslim? does not just equal ?Arab? or ?Pakistani?. It is a faith, not a nationality. There are multitudes of Muslims of all nationalities from Aborigine to Eskimo. Many brown people are not Muslims ? they could be Hindu or Buddhist or no religion at all, or, like Dr Nazir Ali, a candidate for the job of next Archbishop of Canterbury. Some Arabs are not Muslims at all ? not least the many Palestinian Christians, such as the PLO spokesperson Dr Hanan Ashrawi and the families of Bethlehem. Some who get labelled as ?Islamic extremists? are actually Christians ? for example, the Palestinian group Hamas was founded and led by a Christian, George Habash. And there are millions of Muslims who are not Arab, Asian, or any particular shade of brown. Islam is a world-faith, and involves a decision to submit one?s own will to the will of God. It is not a national or cultural feature.
The USA is not the Great Satan ? it is one of the places where Islam has not only made its home, but seen the most rapid and successful strides made in recent years. It is rapidly becoming a teaching centre for Islam. The USA was just about to issue its first postage stamp commemorating Eid! There are now some 7 million Muslims living in America, of many ethnic origins, but most of them now of American nationality. Last year I attended the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, which attracted some 35,000 Muslims under one roof ? an inspiring occasion, full of hopes for the future of Islam in America. And in the European countries Islam is making enormous strides too, especially in the UK. I believe the UK is the only country in the world where non-religious examination boards have set up the opportunity for any person to study Islam to GCSE, AS/A level and degree level, and where a non-religious government has paid me personally the honour of ordering a copy of my dawah book ?What Every Christian Should know about Islam? to hand to all the MPs!
However, I know from long experience that just when one begins to be in hopes of some religious progress and success, something crops up to oppose it. I guess this is how the Devil works. I would certainly equate the works of extremists and terrorists with the works of the Devil ? and most definitely not of God – whether you wish to call God Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah or Our Father in Heaven. I remember being called up by our local radio after the extremist attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut in southern Egypt, and asked to explain the Muslim actions and point of view. The interviewer was quite surprised when I suggested that the Muslims involved were not the terrorists but the police trying to protect the tourists, the ambulence men and nurses quickly on the scene, the villagers who rushed to help. Oh ? were they Muslims? Of course they were. The terrorists were the very opposite of Muslims ? they were terrorists and murderers.
They were also surprised when asking me about the Muslim leaders and people of influence in this country. They were thinking in terms of Asian Muslim Imams coming here as experts in the Qur?an to run local mosques, who might possibly not even speak English; I was thinking more of the ?Muslims in suits and white coats? ? the brain surgeons and medical and scientific experts we see so often on the TV ? who the general public might not even realise were Muslims.
The Devil takes many, many disguises, and the Devil in holy disguise is the most dangerous form there is ? his followers are so righteous, so devout, so self-sacrificing for the cause, so determined that nothing will stand in their ?way of serving God?, and they usually have the personality to browbeat others into silence, especially when they come in gangs rather than individuals.
To quote a friend: ?People do not accept the word of Islam by being shouted at by some demagogue at a speaker?s corner, or by reading some angry little pamphlet pushed into their hand by a wandering distributor of tracts. They convert through personal experience of Muslims who are living in the right way.? But extremists ?haunt our mosques and shout at any form of disagreement, and are either ignorant of Muslim history or dismiss it as a gigantic mistake?.They are the elect, and all disagreement with them is blasphemy against God.? (From ?British and Muslim? by Abdal Hakim Murad). They cannot, for a moment, understand that this attitude is actually blasphemy.
Their brand of Islam is not Islam, and it is high time for them to be properly labelled for what they are. They do not have an identifying name at the moment ? the word Fundamentalist is not accurate, neither is extremist. I would like to call their faith something like Islamiolatry. They are not Muslims but Islamiots or Zealotologists. Once a sectarian can be identified by a name, then people find it much easier to understand that these are at least deviants from the faith, and might even be a kind of ?fifth column? of enemies to the faith.
We Muslims should accept honestly that once a person can be labelled by a sectarian title, then it follows they should admit openly that they have left the mainstream and become something else. It may be that the members of the Ulster Volunteer Force or the IRA are all Christians, but once they can be referred to by their particular label, then that is what they represent, and not Christianity, the faith. If you are a Taliban, or a Deobandi, or an Ahmadiyyah, or a Hizb ut-Tahriri, or a Salafi, or a Sufi, or a Hizbollahi, or al-Qaeda or Bin Ladenist or any other title ? then good luck to you, you are being open about what you are, but you must not claim to be representative of Islam, the faith. A sectarian may be a fervent believer, but is no more representative of Islam than the equally fervent believers of the Ku Klux Klan or other extreme sects represent Christianity.
The UK leader of a group called the Muhajirun apparently declared after September 11th that ?Muslims throughout the country and across the world are celebrating today.? Do you see the point? That person boldly made that statement, claiming to speak for Islam, while Yasser Arafat gave his own blood, 100-odd Muslim medics rushed to give their services at the scene, and the spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain declared on the contrary that ?there are no adequate words to express our condemnation of this act of terrorism against innocent people. Those evil persons responsible will stand guilty and condemned for all eternity.?
May God bless and soothe all the souls of the newly departed, and grant their new state of being to be a blessed one, in which they perhaps may even somehow be able to help their bereaved loved ones not to grieve for ever, but to live in faith and hope. May the bereaved find courage to treasure their memories of the departed, and continue their own life-spans here on earth with patience, and faith that the Afterlife is Real, and that one day they will all, insha?Allah, meet again. None of us knows when the hour of our death will come, or where, or how ? we must live every moment we are granted as best we can, and love those granted to us while we have the opportunity to do so, and not waste a second of our precious lives. Amen.
May God bless you all, wasalaam, Ruqaiyyah.

Shagufta Yergatti on April 9, 2008 at 3:22 am

Greetings,

This is pretty old, and so I doubt anyone will read this, but because of the slight chance that some may, I must express some thoughts.

Firstly, let me state that I’m an Atheist. I do not believe in God or any other gods. However, I must point out that the author of this article appears to be utterly bigoted and prejudiced in her views. Countless logical fallacies are made here.

1) You equate the actions of a few Muslims to ALL Muslims – even worse, you fail to judge Islam by its own merits, its foundations: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Instead, you insist on building a direct correlation between the actions of some Muslims (and of course forget the state of Islam during its Golden Ages, when it was not suppressed by political agendas, or manipulated by the elite for their own agendas) and Islams virtue as a whole.

2) You fail to cite ANY quotes from the Sunnah or Qur’an (authentic ones) that are in textual and historical context. You fail to even use Muhammad as a model (he’s supposed to be the “model Muslim” is he not?) From what i’ve read that’s authentic(refer to Martin Lings: Muhammad A Biography, and Tarik Ramadans: Walking in the Footsteps of the Prophet: A Biography), nothing in Muhammad’s character appeared to reflect the “Savageness and barbarism so inherent in Muslims.” Interesting…

Oh and btw, I have also read “Prophet of Doom” by Craig Winn – lacks complete scholarship. It’s nothing more than a poor polemical piece. Very poor historical citations (forget that they aren’t even in context).

And although I do not agree with everything Islam has to offer, it is by far a more compelling intellectual force than Christianity. Do not equate faulty examples with a model you have yet to prove is inherently “violent, savage, barbaric etc…”

The individual who posted before me seems to have it right. As for the rest of those who responded to the first individual’s post, let go of your prejudice and bigotry. Learn to be objective, otherwise you’ll get no where in life. I understand that you have all be conditioned to hold certain views about specific belief systems or ideologies (ex. communism = DEVILS work for many Americans – even without studying it objectively, many in the west assume it’s all BS).

Humans are very easy to fool, this occurs all over the world. When they are afraid, they will believe in anything – any form of false hope. It’s sad. I’m not that great myself, but hey, at least I try to be open-minded.

James Kowba on March 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

OH:

In addition —> before you reiterate this ridiculous “IZLAMIC Terrorists are responsible for America’s devastating situation” or “IZLAMIC terrorists hiijack planes constantly” understand something – this is NOT fact. It’s connected with what I originally stated, the whole occurrence itself is controversial (that and the fact that the Bin Laden family is very close to the Bush family).

There are a lot of inconsistencies with the facts presented by the media and government as well. I’m not big conspiracy theorist, however, it’s generally accepted by most well-educated engineers who’ve investigated the claims, that something was not right with the destruction of the World Trade Centers. Now, this is debatable of course.

Even so, it’s interesting how quickly the USA’s foreign relations shift; those who were once friends quickly become enemies (of course only when the USA’s political agendas, and imperialistic ideals take on new forms). Saddam Hussein *cough *cough. I also wonder why they’re so close to the corrupt Arab Monarchy? Who knows…who knows, of course it’s those “IZLAMIC TERRORISTS’ fault!!!”

Ciao.

James Kowba on March 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm

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