Age of Jahiliyah

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

Archive for the month “March, 2011”

On Libya

From Sandala Productions

Hamza Yusuf

I want to share some quick thoughts and recollections inspired by the current turmoil taking place in Libya, which pains me deeply. Ghaddafi reminds me of Shakespeare’s tyrant, Richard III: conniving, mutant, dark, and absolutely cruel, with no concern for his family, friends, or companions, let alone the people he rules over. He kills to get to power and maintain it, but as power diminishes before his eyes, he unleashes his fury and decimates his own army, only to end up alone, condemned to die a traitor to his country and people.

I hope Ghaddafi’s reign comes to an end soon for the sake of Libya’s beautiful people. They deserve much better and, in sha Allah, they will get better. In each of our daily prayers, we should all pray for their succor and divine aid. God answers prayers, and there is no barrier between the oppressed and God. The iniquitous suffering Ghaddafi has ravaged upon Libya’s cities and towns is worse than reprehensible and reveals his low nature. I have personally known some of those who were closest to him at his career’s outset and then fled Libya as a result of his unspeakable treatment of his coterie; they know too well how evil this man is and has been.

I have visited Libya once, which was in 1979 and was quite a bizarre experience. Ghaddafi had been in power for just a decade, seizing control through a military coup in 1969 while King Idris was out of the country for medical treatment. On this trip, I accompanied a British convert to Islam who was raising money for a mosque project in England. I had been Muslim for only a few years and was just starting my studies in Arabic, so I was not yet fluent. Everywhere we went, I saw posters that read, “Alijan fi kulli makan” (Committees in everyplace) based on the “Colonel-leader’s” legerdemain of a true “people’s democracy” in which local committees decided their own fates. But after seeing through the illusion, Libyans, I was told, interpreted it to mean “Al-jan fi kulli makan,” (Devils in everyplace).

At the outset of the coup, in their misguided support, some of the less perspicacious Libyans actually chanted, “Iblis wa la Idris” ([Give us] the devil and not Idris). Beware of what you ask for; sometimes you actually get it.

While in Libya, I visited the home of a delightful and cultured Libyan named Sidi Abdal Hamid Ben Halim, now deceased, may God have mercy on his soul. He had been a student at al-Azhar University before becoming a politician and went on to become an ambassador to Italy for Libya. At that time, his was the single most important Libyan diplomatic post. His brother, Mustafa, had been the prime minister under King Idris, who ruled Libya in the post-colonial period until the 1969 coup. From his close and personal knowledge of King Idris, Sidi Abdal Hamid recounted that not only was King Idris a just ruler, he was also a pious and erudite Muslim who dreamed of building Islamic schools and colleges throughout Africa with the newly acquired oil revenue. The King was of the Sanussi tradition and represented the best of the benign monarchies of the old Muslim world that crumbled throughout the twentieth century, only to be replaced by malevolent dictators, all of whom came in the name of progress, freedom, and democracy; despite their claims to reform, they became tyrants aspiring to the very monarchies they had supplanted by setting up their sons for ascension to their newly acquired “thrones.”

In a classic example of his feigned madness, Ghaddafi actually stated that “democracy” was a hybrid Arabic word from dema and karasi, and hence that “democracy” really means “the thrones continue.” Most probably this nugget of “Ghaddafism” will end up in Bartlett’s, alongside the Bushisms. Never “misunderestimate” tyrants. (By the way, one who thinks Ghaddafi is certifiably insane is not paying enough attention. He is an excellent executor of the special interests that put him into power in the first place. He has worked well with BP, Occidental, Halliburton, and others for decades. The British Government has military contracts with Libya and trained Ghaddafi’s soldiers. Those beneficiaries of his “madness” don’t seem to be bothered by his quirks and idiosyncrasies. Moreover, his sanity makes him perfectly responsible for his actions. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu writes, “Feign ignorance [insanity?], and send your enemies into disarray.” Or, perhaps more apropos is an English phrase that Ghaddafi may have learned during his training at the British military academy, Sandhurst, “Crazy like a Fox.” A CNN reporter was recently surprised at how “lucid” Ghaddafi was in his private interview with her.)

Some time after that visit, my courageous Libyan friend, Fathi – who was from a very prestigious Benghazian family – and I had a brush with Ghaddafi’s hospitality in Granada, Spain, in 1984. While on a visit from the Emirates, I was staying at Fathi’s apartment in Granada, and one morning we went out intending to drive to a café for breakfast, only to find the inside of his blue Mercedes completely destroyed from a firebomb, courtesy of the Colonel, who had ordered the assassination of dissident Libyan expatriates all over the world. The two of us felt as if we just had a brush with our own mortality. All that remained intact from the firebomb were my Warsh Mus’haf, from which I had been memorizing the Qur’an, and a leather-bound copy of Ibn Abi Zayd’s al-Risalah (The Epistle) in Maliki jurisprudence that I was studying at the time. While the outside covers of the two books were charred, all of the pages inside them were miraculously intact and unblemished. Both the reminder of the fragility of life as well as the clear sign of providential care for God’s Book and the Prophet’s shariah, as embodied in The Epistle, were a cogent proof for me that I was spending my life studying what will, God-willing, save me from the Fire, and this had a profound impact on me. God is my Witness for what I relate here.

Fathi had been part of the resistance movement of Libyans who were living in Morocco, and many of his friends and associates had been successfully eliminated by Libyan hit teams. Between 1980 and 1987, at least 25 Libyan dissidents were assassinated worldwide, most of them highly educated and decent people. Thirty years later, most of them are dead, and Ghaddafi himself is in the death throes, losing power.

In my experience, Libyans are some of the most wonderful, loyal, and deeply religious Muslims that I have met. In my youth, my dream was to end up in Misurata, where Sidi Ahmad Zarruq’s school is and where he is buried. I used to talk with my Libyan friends about getting a plot of land there. Sidi Ahmad Zarruq loved the Libyans, and despite being a widely celebrated scholar and highly desirable resident anywhere in the Muslim world, he chose to live among the Libyans. The greatest commentator of later Maliki tradition was from a Libyan family of scholars known as al-Hataab.

My dear friend of many years, A.R.M., his wife Amnah, and his family are in Tripoli right now, and many of my other Libyan friends have family and friends who are now in terrible circumstances. Libya is a place of much significance for Muslims, and Libyans deserve our heartfelt prayers and tears during this trying time. I don’t remember having ever imprecated against anyone by name since becoming a Muslim, but now I find myself asking God to give Ghaddafi what he deserves for the terror and suffering he has inflicted upon “his people.”

My friend and teacher through his works, Shaykh Sadiq al-Ghiryani, who in my opinion represents the highest example of a scholar-warrior with his intrepid statement on al-Jazeerah, chose to speak the truth despite being in Tripoli, hence putting his life on the line. He is now in hiding and posting videos from his hideout to encourage the resistance. I recommend watching his post to see a true scholar fulfilling his duty. This is indeed the greatest jihad: to speak the truth in the presence of unjust tyranny. May God reward and protect him and his family during these trying times.

The recording of the Du’a al-Nasiri recited by the Fes Singers is posted here on the Sandala website. (The text of the prayer along with my translation will also soon be posted.) I advise people to recite it with the intention of succor for our brothers and sisters in Libya. This prayer is noted for its power and the effects it has on removing troubles due to the sincerity of its author. It was used by Moroccans as a means to ask God to expel the French during the colonial period and was proscribed by law under French authority.

Core Lessons from My Beloved Rehab

by Zaied Abbassi <> on
Monday, March 7, 2011 at 3:04pm

May the Peace and Blessings of God be Upon You

On Sunday night (March 6th, 2011) I gave a very brief reflection on core
lessons I learned from the life of my beloved wife. I have tried to
transcribe that message as accurately as possibly here for those around the
country, and the world, who would have liked to be there but could not.

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

I have spoken publicly many times in my life but I have never been as
nervous as I am tonight. I was not sure if I wanted to speak tonight – and
let me explain my nervousness for a moment.

A few months back, Rehab learned of a close friend who had an illness in her
eyes that needed an operation that costs roughly $16,000. The girl’s
father had recently passed, and I believe her brother had also recently
suffered a tragedy – in short the girl had little support.

Rehab decided she wanted to help collect the $16,000 and planned to do a
bake sale after Friday prayers. Most people thought “it’s sweet, but no way
you’ll raise $16,000 from a bake sale. If you’re lucky and people are
generous, you might get to $2,000 – but even that is a stretch”. The bake
sale generated over $20,000 in sales and donations, and Rehab drove the
money to her friend in Baltimore the next morning.

You see there was a strange barakah (blessing) in her deeds near the end of
her life. Things would just work for her. And, as I sat here earlier
listening to Islam (Dr. Islam El-Fayoumi – a local speaker and teacher) give
his talk, I thought “How perfect! This is exactly how Rehab would want this
gathering to be. People coming together to understand the Book of Allah, and
from Islam – whose classes she loved to attend” I figured Allah was
protecting this gathering for Rehab. Islam would go until 8:00 and I
wouldn’t have the chance to ruin it. But, Allah has Willed that I speak and
I hope there is some benefit in it.

In my almost 6 years of life with Rehab, I learned quite a bit. The lessons
cannot be counted. But I wanted to share today two profound lessons, and I
want to explain them by telling you two stories from the last few months of
her life.

First – In October of last year, Rehab and I were driving to Memorial Sloan
(the cancer center where she was treated) for an appointment and Rehab was
talking to me about wanting to give up many of her projects and
responsibilities. For months the news on the cancer was getting
progressively less optimistic – we found more than 20 tumors in her brain,
new tumors in her ribs, etc – and Rehab was thinking she needed to focus on
her health. When we met with her oncologist that day, we received the first
piece of optimistic news for as long as we could remember – the tumors in
her brain had been stabilized (they had stopped growing) by her radiation
treatment, and we had some hope – some more time to wait for a new drug to
become available that could systemically treat her illness. As we walked
towards the elevator after the appointment, I looked at Rehab, and with
tears in her eyes she said “Wallahi [I swear by Allah] life is about ridaa
Allah [seeking the pleasure of God], everything else is just circumstance” I
immediately knew what she meant. She felt guilty that on the car ride over,
her goals had changed. Her goal became trying to get healthy – now there is
absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on her health, mind you – but she was
guilty that her end goal had changed. On the way back to the car she kept
repeating “Life is about ridaa Allah, and everything else is circumstantial”

Second – This past week in the hospital, the Muslim Chaplain at Memorial
Sloan would stop by Rehab’s room several times a day hoping to get in to see
her and praying for her. He would come sobbing, and would bring her gifts to
keep her comfortable even though we knew we were just waiting for her to
pass. He was so emotional, yet if you wanted to stretch it you could say
Rehab and the Imam had spoken for maybe two hours in their entire
lives. Now, as I observed on Rehab’s Facebook page this past week, and
through all the phone calls, emails, and text messages we have received it
became abundantly obvious that Rehab touched people in a unique way, and I
thought the Imam at Memorial Sloan was a perfect example.

A few months back, during one of Rehab’s hospital stays in the summer; the
Imam came into her room and sat with us for roughly an hour. He talked to us
about his strategies for the hospital, challenges he faced, how he handles
working with people of other fatihs etc – a very unusual visit for a
Chaplain to make in the middle of his rounds. It was obvious during the
conversation that the Imam held Rehab in high regard. Wanting to know why
this man was so enamored with my wife while practically ignoring me in the
room, I brought up the question of “why” – why did he feel so strongly about
her. His response was simple…

A month or so before that visit, the Imam was telling Rehab and I about a
program they do every Eid where they buy gifts for all pediatric patients in
the hospital and make a celebration of it. Every year, he explained, they
would fall short in financing and would have to skimp on the gifts and
decorations. Rehab, completely exhausted, with IVs running into every
possible vain looked up at him and promised she would get him the money.
Less than three weeks later, she handed him a check for $1,500. The imam had
a surplus of cash to hold over for next year’s celebration.

So, when I asked him why he was so enamored with my wife his response was
simple “She said she would do something, and she did it. Not many people are
like that” The lesson I pulled from this was – 3amal (action) trumps
everything. When you can combine the intention I mentioned from the first
story with action – Allah will make remarkable things happen.

Believe me; these two lessons were at the core of who Rehab was. If I was to
ask you for anything today, it would be that you take heed of these lessons
and live them out in your life.

Thank you, and if I may I will end with a small prayer for my wife.

Oh Allah, all Thanks and Praise are due to You until you are pleased with us

And all Thanks and Praise are due to you if you become pleased with us

Oh Allah you are the only one to forgive sins and accept repentance –
forgive us our sins and accept our repentance

Oh Allah we ask of you Paradise, and seek refuge in you from Hellfire

Oh Allah forgive Rehab’s sins and accept her repentance

Oh Allah you have tested your slave with a difficult trial, and she was
patient and content through out so accept her as one of the martyrs.

Oh Allah accept her as one of the martyrs

Oh Allah she lived her life only seeking your pleasure so be pleased with

Oh Allah her greatest du3a [prayer] near the end of her life was to be from
among the “sabiqoon” so accept her as one of the sabiqoon.

And we end by saying All Thanks and Praise are due to Allah, the Lord of the

Former MU Student and ABC Reporter Opened Door for Diversity

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 9:17 p.m. CST; updated 7:29 a.m. CST, Wednesday, March 9, 2011
BY Lindsay Roseman

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Joanna Jennings’ name.

COLUMBIA – Rehab El-Buri aspired to become a journalist to demonstrate that a person of any faith could make an impact on the profession.
Friends and family say she did far more than that. She broadened their world.
El-Buri, a radio-television graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, died of cancer Sunday, March 6, 2011. She was 26.
Her success, openness and positive attitude at the Journalism School and at ABC News, where she was an investigative reporter, helped many understand her Islamic faith.
Jennifer Reeves, a faculty mentor and friend at the journalism school, said she admired El-Buri’s strength. She went through the entire broadcast program wearing her hijab, Reeves said.
Whether it was on TV doing live shots, or hanging out in the newsroom, she never downplayed her identity. Reeves said she particularly remembers El-Buri fitting her hands-free cell phone into her hijab.
“She was incredibly brave and so open to people asking her questions about her lifestyle, her religion and her family,” Reeves said. “I think she taught so many people so many things that we would never have the opportunity to learn.”
El-Buri’s family lived in Columbia, and she was a graduate of Rock Bridge High School. She graduated from MU in December 2006 and began working the next summer at ABC News in New York.
She worked as a desk assistant with Bradley Blackburn, now an ABC production assistant at “World News.” Although they worked together for just two years, he remembered her fondly.
“When you’re a desk assistant, you’re just starting in the company, and it can be a very competitive job,” Blackburn said.
“But the thing about Rehab was that she was always a kind person, always willing to share advice and her experiences, and she smiled — which people don’t always do in newsrooms.”
After a short period of time, she began working in the investigative unit with chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross.
“She was wise beyond her years,” Ross said. “She was a quiet yet strong force in our newsroom who took an entry-level job and turned it into a pivotal role. It is tragic she did not live to see the day when, I am sure, she would have been a senior management person at ABC News.”
Ross said that El-Buri played a crucial role in helping to shape ABC’s coverage of the Arab world.
“I relied on her heavily to guide me through some of the thorny issues raised during our coverage of al-Qaeda terrorism-connected stories,” Ross said. “She was no friend of the extremists but fought valiantly to make sure we did not paint the Arab world with too broad a brush.”
In addition to her journalistic success, friends say her open, friendly demeanor helped teach others about the Islamic community.
“I think what she taught me was about a community I would have never ever been able to feel like I was a part of without her openness,” Reeves said. “I’m honored that I can say that she was my friend.”
Asa Eslocker, associate producer in the investigative unit with Brian Ross, also worked closely with El-Buri.
“What she taught me was this incredibly beautiful lesson about the way a devout Muslim lives her life in a stressful, past-faced environment like breaking investigative news,” Eslocker said. “She was an incredibly beautiful and professional and graceful human being I’m going to miss so much.”
Joanna* Jennings, another coworker and friend of El-Buri, said they became close while working together. Jennings called herself a strong member of the Christian faith but added that it did not stand in the way of their friendship.
“We were in two jobs that were very stressful, and it’s difficult,” Jennings said. “We both relied on our faith, and we would share that with one another. It didn’t bring out the differences; it really brought out the similarities.”
El-Buri had a prayer rug in the office, and regardless of what was going on in the background, Jennings said she always made time to pray.
Zaied Abbassi, El-Buri’s husband, posted a Facebook note at 7:04 a.m. Monday with words he shared at her service the previous night.
He recalled his memory of a friend who needed a $16,000 operation. She was unable to come up with the funds on her own, so El-Buri stepped in and planned a bake sale to raise money after Friday prayers.
It raised more than $20,000.
“You see there was a strange barakah (blessing) in her deeds near the end of her life,” Abbassi said. “Things would just work for her.”
Even near the end of her life, she never lost the commitment to her faith and always remained positive.
“I miss her so much, but take comfort in the fact that she left an important and enduring legacy at ABC News,” Ross said. “It will help shape our reporting for millions of Americans who may never have heard of Rehab but will benefit from her time here nevertheless.”

Remembering Rehab al-Buri

A Trailblazing Member of the ABC News Investigative Team Passes Away

March 7, 2011

A former ABC News staffer who helped shape the network’s coverage of the Arab world, Rehab El-Buri, died Sunday at the age of 26. A trusted colleague in the ABC News Investigative Unit and cherished friend, Rehab left her position last year to devote her energies to fighting a courageous battle against cancer.

Photo: rehab 2 

ABC News
Rehab El-Buri was a trailblazing member of the ABC News Investigative Team. She was committed to… Expand
Rehab El-Buri was a trailblazing member of the ABC News Investigative Team. She was committed to reporting on the plight of those who could not speak out on their own. Her work was defined by giving a voice to the voiceless, steadfastly working behind the scenes to tell their stories. Collapse

“Rehab was wise beyond her years and brought important insights to all of ABC News,” said Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent.

“She was a fighter,” recalled Jon Banner, executive producer of ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.

Beginning as a desk assistant and working her way to the Investigative Unit, Rehab was committed to reporting on the plight of those who could not speak out on their own. Her work was defined by giving a voice to the voiceless, steadfastly working behind the scenes to tell their stories.

In 2008, Rehab was instrumental in developing a 20/20 report that investigated how some high-ranking international diplomats in the U.S. would abuse and exploit the domestic workers brought with them from their home countries. The most challenging aspect of this report was finding workers from poor and underprivileged backgrounds who were willing to speak out against their powerful employers.

“Rehab combined a strong drive to uncover the facts with a calm and reassuring presence,” said producer Joseph Rhee. “This proved invaluable in finding a way to crack this difficult story.”

Rehab was able to contact a young Indonesian woman named Siti Aisah who worked for the then-ambassador to the United Nations from Qatar. Rehab gained Aisah’s trust, meeting her on weekends and gaining permission to shoot footage of Aisah on her own with a small video camera. When Aisah finally spoke on-camera to ABC News, she told a powerful and heart-wrenching account of being treated harshly by the extremely wealthy and privileged family of the ambassador.

“I feel like what is that called, less than human. I feel like I’m like a dog or something. I don’t know I feel so small in front of them, almost invisible,” Aisah told ABC News. Rehab’s efforts helped bring this serious international issue to light, and helped lead to strong action against the abuses by the U.S. State Department.

Rehab was determined to become a journalist after her family was interviewed so often as devout Muslims living in Missouri. She decided she wanted to be the one to ask the questions, and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2007 as a radio-television journalism major.

Outside of her career, Rehab was an active community leader who continually put others before herself. Just a few months ago, despite her own illness, she raised over $20,000 through a bake sale for a friend who needed an operation. And when she learned from a chaplain at Memorial Sloan-Kettering hospital, where she was treated, that a program for pediatric patients was short on funding, she snapped into action.

“Rehab, completely exhausted, with tubes coming out of her chest and IVs running into every possible vein, looked up at him and promised she would get him the money,” her husband, Zaied Abbassi, said. “Less than three weeks later, she handed him a check for $1500.” The money ensured the program would be funded for not only one year, but two.

“She said she would do something, and she did it,” Abbassi said.

Along with her husband, Rehab was survived by her parents, both of whom were champions of human rights and free speech and fled repressive regimes to raise their family of daughters in the U.S., and her sisters.

She will be forever missed by the ABC News team, whose work was made better because of Rehab’s passion and integrity as a colleague and friend.

“Rehab was a special young woman who not only profoundly influenced our journalism but warmly touched our lives,” said Rhonda Schwartz, chief of investigative projects. “We’ll carry her memory with us.”

On the Passing of Sister Rehab al-Buri

On the Passing of Sister Rehab El Buri

On March 6th 2011 Sister Rehab El Buri died of cancer at the age of 25.  Rehab, an Islamic activist, was loved by all those who knew her and a cause of inspiration for those who didn’t.  We would like to share some of Rehab’s own reflections on her trial taken from her personal blog.  We ask Allah to shower his mercy on Rehab, enter her into the company of our beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family).  We leave you with Rehab’s words:

I know I ended my last post pretty abruptly. At the time I was writing it, going through the play by play was difficult.

It took me about three days to accept my death. On the first day, as you read, my mind was in chaos. On the second day, I was numb. And on the third day, my husband and mother began talking sense to me, and I finally came to some important realizations:

1. We are all going to die. The people who took the news of my disease calmly and those who panicked- they are going to die one day too. Death is one of the few realities we can be certain of in this life, and yet we somehow slip into thinking that we are exempt.

2. We live this life for the next. I was living my life as a Muslim…praying and fasting, but I had somehow allowed my real goal in life to be swallowed by buying salad plates for my next dinner party, and trying to get free shipping on my next jcrew order, and finding pillows that popped against my cream sofa. In between being a consumer and entertaining myself to death, I let what really matters in my life slip away from me. If I was truly living my life for the Hereafter, I should not be so fearful of the future I had created for myself. The Quran says, “And this life of the world is nothing but a sport and a play; and as for the next abode, that most surely is the life- did they but know!” [29.64]

3. I am in the same boat as everyone else. None of us are given anyguarantees in life. Our health, our wealth, and our families are trusts give to us by Allah- and they are His to take when He, in his infinite wisdom, deems fit. We all claim to believe this, but in practice we often falter. I don’t know why I thought I could push the thought of death out of my mind for at least a good 30 or 40 years. Allah (SWT) could claim any of us at any time. I am in the same boat as everyone else- I have no idea when my time is, but I should try to live everyday as if it is my last.

4. Each day is a gift. Receiving this wake up call is such a blessing in that each day Allah grants me is an opportunity to do some more good and try to make up for some of the mistakes I made in the past. For some reason, the mornings are usually a little rough for me. I think it’s just waking up from my dreams and realizing that I still have to live with this disease. But every morning I try to tell myself, “Alhamdulilah, I feel good today, what good can I do today?”

These realizations, and the support of my mother, husband, his mother, my sisters, his sisters, my father, his father, my friends, and my community have helped me not merely cope with what I’m going through, but actually seek the reward of going through this trial, and try to sincerely accept what Allah wills for me.

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