Age of Jahiliyah

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

Archive for the day “April 23, 2011”

Did Islam Spread by the Sword? Myth and Reality in World Today

From Gulf Times

By Dr. Sharif Mohammad

Among the most widely believed myths about Islam in the West today is the myth of forcible conversion to Islam.

Many Westerners believe that Islam is so widespread in the world today simply because of a “holy campaign of terror” carried out by the early Muslims to convert non-Muslims to Islam. They believe that non-Muslims were offered the freedom to choose between two things: Islam or death.

During a discussion, a Baptist Minister said: “Muslims tend to kill non-Muslims and anyone who disagrees with them”. In a syndicated column appearing in over 30 papers (on July 23, 1994) entitled, ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians Increasing’ the author blames many Muslim countries for persecuting Christians, then he quotes the Qur’an (which means): “There is no compulsion in religion” [Qur’an 2:256] and ends the quote by rudely writing: “Really?”

How to confront such misconceptions? First, there is no need for us to be apologetic. As Muslims, we should search for the truth and present it as it is. This is how we have been instructed by Allah Almighty (which means): “Say: The truth from your Lord and let him who will believe and let him who will reject” [Qur’an 18:29]

Islam is the religion of the Truth and the Qur’an is the Book which testifies to the Truth; Allah Says (what means): “We sent down the Qur’an in Truth and in Truth has it descended” [Qur’an 17:105]

And (what means): “Put your trust in Allah for you are on the path of the manifest Truth” [Qur’an 27:79]

Therefore, we should ask ourselves first, before we are asked by anyone else: what is the truth? Did Muslims really force others to convert to Islam? Is there any evidence for consistent forcible conversion throughout Islamic history? In fact, there is no such evidence anywhere in the history of Islam. Many distinguished Western historians have attested to this fact — foremost among whom is Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his book, The Preaching of Islam. Similarly authors like, Marshall G. Hodgson, in his book The Venture of Islam, Albert Hourani in his book, A History of the Arab People, Ira Lapidus in his book, History of Islamic Societies, L.S. Starorianos in his book, A Global History: The Human Heritage, and many others have testified to this.

On the contrary, there is substantial evidence that Muslims were often seen as liberators of the oppressed people everywhere.

The question that remains to be answered is: why have so many people chosen Islam in the 1,400 years of its history? Islam has penetrated the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, West Africa, East Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Western China and the Malay Archipelago. In all these regions, Islam replaced so many other well-established religions: Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism and Animism. What are the reasons behind the triumph of Islam over all these religions?

First, Islam is an amazing blend of simplicity and rationality, as Professor Hodgson explains: “Muslims made a personal appeal to people’s religious consciousness. On the level of straight argument, they often put forward the populistic intelligibility of Islam. Muslims commonly ridiculed, in the name of intellectual good sense, the more mythically convoluted teachings of older traditions. This could seem attractively straightforward to people dissatisfied with taking things on faith from a learned priest whose mysteries they could not comprehend.

A single Creator, to be worshipped by each person for himself, based on revelation that had been given to a famous prophet whom millions already acknowledged. This was at once intelligible and plausible.”

The unambiguous and uncompromising belief in the Unity, Greatness and Wisdom of God, the Creator of the universe, is unparalleled among other religions. The French professor Edouard Montet said: “The dogma of the unity of God…has always been proclaimed in the Qur’an with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of pure conviction which is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvellous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.”

Besides its simple and rational creed, Islam offers an impressive set of rituals, which has gained the admiration and, subsequently, the conversion of many non-Muslims. The second pillar of Islam, Salaah [prayer] has been described as follows by Sir Arnold: “The religion of the Muslim is continuously present with him and, in the daily prayer, manifests itself in a solemn and impressive ritual which cannot leave either the worshipper or the spectator unaffected.”

In addition to the prayers, the other pillars of Islam, Zakaah [alms tax distributed to the poor], Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah), Siyaam (fasting in Ramadan), have always been factors in attracting many hearts to Islam. To this day, one still meets converts who were impressed by the social justice of Islam, brilliantly expressed in the payment of Zakaah, the unique congregation of the Haj and Siyaam. Thus, it is the union of rationalism and Divine rituals that explains the power that Islam has exercised over the hearts and minds of so many people.

Islam simply presents the truth in a tangible form, with the help of a miraculous book: the Qur’an. The marvellous power and beauty of the words of the Qur’an have also been a decisive factor in the conversion of many people to Islam.

The famous Jewish American convert to Islam, Maryam Jameelah, cited the Qur’an as the major factor of her conversion. After a deep study of both the Old Testament and the Qur’an, the contrast between the two scriptures became increasingly evident to her until she firmly believed that the Qur’an was indeed God’s message to the human race.

A conference of Christian missionaries in 1887 was discussing why Islam has almost swept away Christianity from the Middle East. What did Islam offer these people to forsake Christianity for good? One of the missionaries was insightful enough to say the following: “Islam brought out the fundamental dogmas of the Unity and Greatness of God, that He is Mindful and Righteous. It proclaimed the responsibility of man, a future life, a Day of Judgment and stern retribution to fall upon the wicked, and enforced the duties of prayer, alms giving and fasting. It replaced monkishness by manliness; it gave hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind and recognition to the fundamental facts of human nature.”

The formidable rationalism and clarity of Islam not only led the Christians of the Middle East to forsake Christianity and embrace Islam in the past, it continues to do so with Christians in the West to the present day.

A Muslim sister, from California, who was a practicing Christian and an active member in her nearby Presbyterian church, wrote in her conversion story. She said that in spite of her active affiliation with the church, she always had serious questions about the fundamentals of Christianity, which did not make sense to her. She debated her questions with her friends but they never came up with reasonable answers. The church could not give them answers either, but only told them to “have faith”. All her questions were answered when she took a course about Islam. Listen to her words:

“This class brought back all of the concerns that I had about Christianity. As I learned about Islam, all my questions were answered. All of us are not punished for Adam’s original sin. Adam asked God for forgiveness and our Merciful, Loving God forgave him. God doesn’t require a blood sacrifice in payment for sin. We must sincerely ask for forgiveness and amend our ways. Jesus wasn’t God; he was a prophet like all of the other prophets. This answered all of my questions about the trinity and the nature of Jesus. I found a teaching that put everything in its proper perspective and appealed to my heart and my intellect. It seemed natural. It wasn’t confusing. I had been searching and I had found a place to rest my faith.”

Islam is so strong and so self-assured that it does not need to use force to attract others to it. The moral and intellectual superiority of Islam over all other religions has manifested itself clearly throughout the history of Islam. Despite the ills that Muslims are facing everywhere, Islam continues to be the fastest growing religion on earth. Professor Huston Smith of the MIT in his book, The Religions of Man, says:

“In some areas where Islam and Christianity are competing for converts, Islam is gaining at a rate of 10 to 1.”

Article courtesy: http://www.islamweb.net

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Consider Own Deeds Before Asking Muslims to Condemn Terrorism

From the Tennessean
Written by
Rubel Shelly

Christians of all stripes and varieties have expressed dismay over the failure of some Muslim clerics to decry and condemn terrorism.

From the World Trade Center to the bombings in Delhi to suicide bombings in multiple locations, there are extremists associated with Islam who cause some people to fear all Muslims. That is unfair to Muslims. But outsiders to Islam have wanted to hear its leaders speak clearly about the fanatics.

Muslims have a similar reasonable expectation of Christians. They have the right to listen expectantly for us to decry and condemn bigoted extremists who claim to represent Christianity. When the pastor of the World Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., burned a Quran recently, he was both morally wrong and spiritually misguided. His action sparked days of deadly rioting in Afghanistan and gave credibility to the anti-Christian rhetoric of Muslim terrorists.

Have you noticed how many people dismiss Jesus, curse Christianity, and resent churches? Ever wonder why? The answer lies in the behavior of pedophile priests, huckster televangelists, Fred Phelps’ protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers, and Terry Jones’ repulsive Quran-burning.

The issue here isn’t the compatibility of Christianity and Islam. They are quite distinctive in their views of Trinity, the deity of Jesus, human redemption, and what to regard as Sacred Literature. Although cousins because of Abraham, the two religions are notable for their differences. As a Christian, I affirm the unique and exclusive role of Jesus as Savior. But I also affirm the obligation of his followers to treat Muslims, Buddhists or atheists with respect.

Jesus made the right-wing religionists of his era unhappy because his heart was big enough to reach not only to Jews of other parties but to Samaritans and Gentiles. He was smarter than some of his followers. He knew he could not even talk with those he wanted to win over by insulting them and demeaning the things they held sacred.

Christian Scripture says: “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:24). “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

People who think they are honoring God by burning the Quran — thereby confirming the worst of prejudices toward Christians, closing the door to fruitful dialogue, and precipitating riots — only make Christianity look hateful, bigoted, and boorish. Don’t talk about motive here. Think instead of obvious outcomes.

Jesus’ would-be representatives are making him look bad again.

Rubel Shelly holds a doctorate in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and is a former minister at Woodmont Hills Church in Nashville. He is president of Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Shaykh Hajjaj Hindawi Recites Quran at Lakemba Mosque 25th of September

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SP Answers: Is it Wrong to Praise the Prophet too Much?

From SunniPath

Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

Question:

Some of our Muslim brethren are “hypersensitive” to excessive praise of the Prophet. They claim that excesses were
committed with regard to the prophet(s) and saints at a widespread
level a few hundred years ago in the islamic world, and
that we must adopt an exaggerated over cautious approach with matters
of the prophet(s) and our ulama. Is this claim correct?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Thank you for your question. Scholars explain that every Muslim has explicitly affirmed that that there is no god but Allah and that our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the messenger of Allah. In the first part of this testification, they have explicitly negated the existence of any god besides Allah.

Whenever Muslims praise the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),  their praise must be understood in the context of the explicit negation of the existence of any god besides Allah. Praise is not the same as worship. To accuse someone who praises the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) of worshipping him based on “hypersensitivity” comprises harbouring a bad opinion of one’s Muslim brother or sister and accusing them of lying in their explicit negation of the existence of any god besides Allah. To harbour such suspicions is an act of sin: “O ye who believe! Shun most suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a sin.” (49:12)

The approach that mainstream Sunni scholars take with Muslims is to give them the benefit of the doubt and to try their utmost to include them within the fold of Islam by interpreting their statements in an Islamically acceptable manner. The ease with which certain groups excommunicate other Muslims is the mark of a sectarian and intolerant mentality that is far from the way of mainstream Sunni Islam.

And Allah knows best.

Hamza.

Losses by Randall Jarrell

It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes– and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.)

In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores–
And turned into replacements and woke up
One morning, over England, operational.

It wasn’t different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.)
We read our mail and counted up our missions–
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school–
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, “Our casualties were low.”

The said, “Here are the maps”; we burned the cities.

It was not dying –no, not ever dying;
But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
And the cities said to me: “Why are you dying?
We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?”

Shaykh Hajjaj Hindawi Recites Quran at Lakemba Mosque 27th of September

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Shaykh Hajjaj Hindawi Recites Quran at Lakemba Mosque 11th of Sep

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SP Answers: Shirk in the Qasida Burdah?

From SunniPath

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question:

Some learned scholars say that there is “blatant shirk” in many parts of the Qasida Burda-that it goes against Allah’s Oneness of Lordship, His Oneness in Names & Attributes, and also His Oneness in Divinity…

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, his noble folk, righteous companions, and all followers

No, the Qasida Burda doesn’t contain “shirk” (associating partners with Allah) or other deviations from sound Islamic belief. Rather, it is a pure expression of deep and passionate love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), whose love is a condition of faith.

The Qasida Burda has been accepted by the mainstream of Islamic scholarship as one of the greatest statements of love for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). It is recited across the Muslim world, from East to West, as it has been for centuries. There are dozens of commentaries on it, by many of the greatest scholars of Islam, none of whom saw any “blatant shirk” in its beautiful praise of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). However, given its eloquence and depth, certain verses-such as those criticized by our respected critic-need to be understood as the author meant them. It is unfair to interpret others’ words in ways they did not mean.

[1] The critic cites the opening of the verse as an example of “shirk” in the Oneness of Allah’s Lordship (tawhid al-rububiyya):

“From our generosity is the world and its partner [the Hereafter]…”

Our respected critic claims that this refers to the creation of the world and there hereafter-as if Busiri is claiming that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his generosity created them! The Arabic text if this verse doesn’t mention “creation” in it.

As Imam Ibrahim al-Bajuri makes clear in his commentary on the Burda, what this means is that the best of this world and the next is from the gift the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) gave-by Allah’s granting-to humanity.

The best of this world is the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), by which alone this worldly has any meaning; and the best gift of any human to humanity in the Hereafter is the intercession the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) makes-as established in rigorously authentic hadiths, as we will see below.

There is a basic principle in knowledge that, “Ruling on a matter comes after sound understanding of it.” To criticize someone’s words, one must first soundly understand them as the author intended them-not as one’s own understanding determines.

[2] The critic then cites the following verses as example of shirk in Allah’s Names & Attributes,

“And from your knowledge is knowledge of the Pen and Tablet”

It is established that Allah commanded the Pen to write the details of all matters until the Last Day-namely, before the Resurrection and Hereafter-as related in authentic hadiths in Ahmad and Tirmidhi. These hadiths were considered mass-transmitted by al-Amir al-Kabir in his commentary on Laqani’s Jawharat al-Tawhid, as Kattani relates in Nadhm al-Mutanathir.

In this hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The first of Allah’s creation was the pen.” Then he mentioned that Allah commanded it to, “Write everything that will occur, until the Last Hour.” [Ahmad 21649, from Ubada ibn Samit (Allah be pleased with him)]

It is authentically established that Allah granted His Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) knowledge of the events of this worldly life.

There is no “shirk” in this: (1) it is authentically established in the sunna; (2) it is by Allah’s granting, so there is no point of comparison between the Absolute, Infinite, and unacquired Knowledge of Allah and the acquired, and limited (though inimaginably vast) knowledge of the Best of Creation (Allah bless him and give him peace).

The knowledge of the Pen and Tablet-being this knowledge of worldly events until the Last Day-is “from” the knowledge of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) because he was also granted tremendous knowledge of matters of the hereafter, and of Allah and His Attributes-the greatest of all knowledge.

What we need to understand is that Allah granted His Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) tremendous knowledge of the Unseen, including details of matters of this life and the next; and He granted His Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace) greater knowledge of Himself than any of His creation.

Thus, there is no element of shirk in this verse. It simply affirms what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself affirmed, not more and not less.

[3] Our respected critic then cites the following verse as an example of “shirk” in Allah’s Oneness in Divinity (tawhid al-uluhiyya):

” And who else there, besides you, who I can call out, at times of distress and problems?”

This is our critic’s suggested translation. A sounder translation is:

“O Most Honored of Creation! Whom can I turn to

But you when the Encompassing Event befalls?”

The “Encompassing Event” (wrongly translated us “times of distress and problems”) refers specifically to the distress that befalls all creation on the Day of Resurrection. As authentic hadiths in Bukhari [3092], Muslim [287], and elsewhere affirm, all of creation will go from one prophet to another, each of whom is busy with themselves-out of absolute awe of Allah-and tells them to go to another prophet. Finally, all of creation goes to our Beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), seeking respite from the tremendous tribulation and distress of that Day. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) answers their call, affirming that this is from what Allah granted him, and turns to Allah seeking respite for creation, and this is granted to him by Allah.

There is no suggestion in this verse that a believer shouldn’t turn to Allah Himself when distress and problems occur. Rather, it is simply affirming something the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) affirmed: that Allah has granted His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) general intercession for all creation from the intensity of the tribulations of the Day of Judgment, and that on that Day all creation will find none in creation to turn to for assistance but Allah’s Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace).

This also shows that seeking the assistance of creation-whether in material or spiritual matters-does in no way negate one’s understanding that Allah alone is the ultimate granter. But our Giving Lord has shown us that there are both material and spiritual means one seeks, while fully aware that the Giver and Granter is none but Allah.

This is the aqida of the mainstream of Muslims: we affirm the taking of material and spiritual means, and affirm that the granter is only Allah Himself. This is the understanding of the great Companion of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Rabi`ah ibn Ka`b al-Aslami (Allah be pleased with him), who said, “O Messenger of Allah! I ask you for your company in Paradise!” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Assist me concerning yourself with much prostration.” [Muslim (754)]

[ref: The commentaries on Busiri’s Burda by Bajuri, Hamzawi, Ibn Hajar, and Shaykh Zada]

And Allah alone gives success.

Effort at Speech Between Two People by Muriel Rukeyser

Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit
who died, in the story, and I crawled under a chair :
a pink rabbit : it was my birthday, and a candle
burnt a sore spot on my finger, and I was told to be happy.

Oh, grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open:
Now I am thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

Speak to me. Take my hand. What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitily sentimental,
fluid : and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I bent my head to the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would
link the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
on what a tragedy his life was, really.

Take my hand. Fist my mind in your hand. What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had dreams of suicide,
I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward death :
if the light had not melted clouds and plains to beauty,
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth : I love you. Grow to know me.

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle . . . yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving . . . Take my hand. Speak to me.






For My Contemporaries by J. V. Cunningham

How time reverses

The proud in heart!

I now make verses

Who aimed at art.

But I sleep well.

Ambitious boys

Whose big lines swell

With spiritual noise,

Despise me not!

And be not queasy

To praise somewhat:

Verse is not easy.

But rage who will.

Time that procured me

Good sense and skill

Of madness cured me.

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