Age of Jahiliyah

A blog of wide and varied interest, including Islam, Muslims, Poetry, Art and much more.

Archive for the day “October 28, 2006”

Defender of the Flag: In Memory of Alia Ansari

By Imam Zaid Shakir

This past Tuesday, Muslims celebrated ‘Id al-Fitr, one of Islam’s two great festivals. For me, it was a beautiful day that began with a truly warm and vibrant ‘Id gathering at the Zaytuna Institute. God afforded me a wonderful opportunity to see friends who had been “missing in action,” to meet enthusiastic new converts to Islam, and to kiss so many babies I felt like a politician. During that time, I was also able to break away from the gathering to visit the graves of some distinguished Muslims buried in a nearby cemetery. Visiting the local Muslim cemetery on ‘Id day is a practice I have been able to maintain since my earliest years in Islam. They serve as a solemn reminder that all of us have an appointment with the Angel of Death.

I was blessed to stay at Zaytuna until the early afternoon when I departed to attend a meeting at a local school, a reminder that we are in America and sometimes, despite our best efforts to clear our schedules on the day of our festivals, the requisites of our everyday duties intervene. After that meeting, I was able to visit some of the Muslim families in the area. All of those visits filled my heart with awe at the simple dignity of ordinary Muslims, many of whom are struggling valiantly to survive in this sometimes cruel, always challenging and complicated society.

The last of those visits was to the family of Alia Ansari, the Afghani-American mother of six who was gunned down in central Fremont last Thursday as she walked to pick up her children from school. The Ansari family are everyday people—and, they are proud people. As I talked with Alia’s husband, brothers, and cousins who were gathered in the family’s humble apartment, it became clear to me that, most of all, they were proud to be Ansaris, descendants of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and the great Muslim mystical sage, Khawaja Abdullah Ansari. In Afghan society, they are people who are identified with piety and they endeavor to live up to that identification, in their various ways.

Alia Ansari migrated from war-torn Afghanistan at the age of 17. When her father died shortly thereafter, she became a second parent to her younger siblings. A life of hardship could not suppress her inner beauty, expressed most readily in an irrepressible smile. Her husband, Ahmadullah Ansari, an auto mechanic struggling to make ends meet for a family that includes six young children, five of them girls, spoke glowingly of Alia’s martyrdom and the place God has reserved for her in Heaven. Her story impressed on me the truth embodied in the words of a poet who said, “Be yourself beautiful, and you will find the world full of beauty.”

Her husband, contrary to the caricature of the vindictive, hateful, enraged Muslim, mentioned how the family did not wish her martyrdom be treated as a hate crime, because he did not want her death to be a source of agitation in the area’s large Muslim community. He also mentioned that the family would not want the murderer executed, because that would not bring his wife back. His wife was a martyr, her place in Paradise secure—for him that was enough.

Read more…

Is One Offensive Cleric More Important Than 38 Reasonable Ones?

From Islamica Magazine

By Firas Ahmad

On October 12th 38 highly respected and theologically diverse clerics from the Muslim world wrote what is widely considered a respectful and engaging “Open Letter” to the Pope in response to his controversial comments about Islam made during his Regensburg address in September. Not only was the letter of historical significance, but it also represented an articulate and reasoned invitation to dialogue from Muslims with the Papacy on matters of theology and faith. The signatories included top scholars from Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, the United States, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Kosovo, Oman, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Iran.

Around the same time, a single Muslim cleric in Australia, Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, delivered a sermon to about 500 followers where he allegedly compared some women who do not dress modestly to uncovered meat being left out for a cat.

I wonder which story received more news coverage.

If we follow the Google news aggregator as a gauge, at the height of the news coverage of the Open Letter to the Pope, the story appeared in about 220 different news sites across the world. The only major English language news web site to carry the story on the front page was BBC. Most notably, the major US media outlets almost entirely ignored the event. With the exception of a front page story that week in the Christian Science Monitor and a small story aired on CNN, the letter came and went without much fanfare.

As the fury over Hilali’s remarks continue to gain momentum, according to Google there are currently over 800 news services carrying the story. That is quadruple the coverage of the Open Letter. I would expect this to increase before it subsides. The cleric’s remarks are drawing furious reactions from around the globe, and the life of the story is likely being extended by the already tense debate over Muslim women who wear veils in the UK.

The open letter signed by 38 scholars, who represent all eight major schools of thought in the Islam, is more representative of the global Muslim community than this one lone Australian cleric. However, judging by the prevailing media coverage any casual reader would think the exact opposite.

When Pat Roberston or Jerry Fallwell make embarrassingly ignorant comments, they are dismissed as the rantings and ravings of old senile men. When any Muslim cleric does something similar, in the court of public opinion Islam is guilty of the offense until proven otherwise. When it comes to the media, Muslims can hardly catch a break.

The sad reality is that if the 38 scholars who wrote the Open Letter really wanted the world to hear what they had to say, they should have first congregated in Cairo and burned an effigy of the Pope.

Firas Ahmad is Senior Editor of Islamica Magazine

Mishary Rashid Al Efasi Recites Surah Al Araf Part 1

Islamic Art: God (Allah and Muhammad [pbuh] in Arabic Calligraphy)

Photo uploaded by EEY

The Quran Leads the Way to Science Part 2

Hadith: The strong man…

Narrated Abû Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The strong man is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong man is one who controls himself in â fit of rage.” (Al-Bukhâri and Muslim)

The Concept of Justice in Islam

by Charles Le Gai Eaton

Those who enquire about the basics of Islam are usually told about the “Five Pillars” of the religion. These relate to faith and to practice, but at a deeper level it might be said that there are two great pillars which support the whole edifice. These are Peace and Justice. They are clearly connected since there can be no enduring peace without justice. The very word °Isläm comes from the same verbal root as saläm meaning “peace” and, since the religion is based upon total submission to the will of God, Muslims believe that real peace is out of reach unless it is based upon this submission within the universal order. They believe equally that there can be no real justice except as an aspect of submission to the source of all that is just and well ordered. Although God in Himself is beyond comprehension or analysis, the Qur’an gives us hints as to His true nature through what are sometimes called “the 99 names” and one of these is al-ªAdl, “the Just”. Another of these names is al-Muqsiö, “the Dispenser of Justice” or “He who gives to each thing its due”.

The Qur°än praises those who always act “in the light of truth” and tells us: “Perfected are the words of your Lord in truth and justice”. It tells us also: “Behold, God enjoins justice and good actions and generosity to our fellows….”, and it commands us never to let hatred lead us into deviating from justice: “Be just! That is closest to God consciousness”. This, of course, applies to all believers who must fear divine justice if subjective factors or personal emotions lead them to deviate from the path of justice which is also the path of Islam, but it weighs heavily upon those who are required to adjudicate in disputes or to give judgment in criminal cases. There were cases in the early history of the religion when men whom the Ruler intended to appoint as judges fled from Court rather than assume this terrifying responsibility and we read of one who did accept the burden that his whole body trembled when he was called upon to give judgment, believing that a single mistake might carry with it the threat of damnation. The divine Judge stands over the human judge, observing all that he does, and human justice, even at its best, can never be more than a poor imitation of divine Justice. The Prophet Muhammad himself when he was called upon to adjudicate in civil actions warned the litigants that one of them might be more eloquent in putting his case than the other and thereby achieve an unjust settlement. “In such a case,” said Muhammad, “I will have given him a portion of hellfire”. This is clearly a grave matter indicating that those who seek justice must themselves practise it without deviation even to their own hurt. Under all and any circumstances a victory which is contrary to justice is a poisoned chalice.

Of special significance too is the relationship between justice and wisdom in the Arabic language. The words åukm, “judgement”, and åikmah, “wisdom” come from the same root, and al-Åakïm (the “All-Wise” is another of the names of God in the Qur°än.

In the Christian tradition St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that, among all human pursuits, “the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more full of joy” than any other human enterprise. The Muslim might amend this slightly by emphasizing that one cannot “pursue” wisdom as one might a rare butterfly since it is a divine quality and out of reach of the human seeker as such. It is for us to lay ourselves open to this gracious gift by making ourselves fit and ready to receive it. Read more…

Muslim Couples Sign Contracts to Protect Women’s Rights


The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Should anything go wrong in her marriage, Zaynab Abdul-Razacq is confident her rights will be well-protected. Her husband has guaranteed it — in writing.

The young Muslim couple chose a path advocated by Islamic scholars concerned about women’s rights: drawing up a Muslim marriage contract that takes into account modern needs.

Abdul-Razacq’s agreement states that she is in charge of the household finances and that if her husband abuses her in “any dimension of wellness” she can automatically divorce him. He stipulated that he could make household decisions without interference from in-laws and other relatives.

“At the outset, we agreed these are things that are pretty important to us,” said Abdul-Razacq, 29, who lives in Decatur, Ga., and married three years ago…

Read more…

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