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Archive for November, 2012

Issue 79

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Issue 79 [@1:21:07]: Video – with a title displayed – “London, England May 2005”
[Crowd/demonstration of about 150-200 people of various ages and ethnicity chanting and displaying placards]
[Speaker leading and crowd repeating with camera panning –] La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullahAllah-o-Akbar (various images from the crowd, a policeman, 3 men with masked faces with Keffiyeh)
[Placard carried by a child –] Allah cannot be defeated oh America!
[Two women in black veils with forehead bands of Kalima Shahada, one of which holding a placard –] Islam will dominate the world
[Speaker holding the microphone recites Darood/Darud wearing a Chitrali brown cap–]
[a voice from crowd yells and some small numbers repeat ] Jihad! Jihad!
[Apparently, the keynote speaker of the video clip takes over the microphone, wearing white thawb with Middle Eastern accent –] Its time for whole West to realize Islam is a truth. As a matter of time, Islam could be implemented. And the giant of Islam and giant of the Islamic state is going to rise up again…and it is going to be a fact…and is going to be a true fact in reality…look, the Muslims in Egypt, they go for Islamic state. Look at the alim-e-Jihad (inaudible). Look in Iraq. Look in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, even in Europe people calling La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah. (Inaudible) It is matter of time, Shariah will be implemented. And the Muslim Ummah will be united.

Rebuttal 79: It is difficult to contextualize the purpose and goal of the demonstration as shown in the video clip. If we tease out the chants and the placards of the demonstrators, we come across the following main messages in Quranic context:

* Allah-o-Akbar
* La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah
* Jihad
* Darood
* Shariah (see Issue 78)
* Islam will dominate the world


These foundation stones of Islam will be elaborated upon below.

* Allah-o-Akbar simply means ‘God is Great‘ or ‘God is Greater (than everything else)’.

29:45. Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer. Surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil; and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest (force). And Allah knows what you do.

[Footnote] This verse invites the followers of all religions to accept the Quran on account of its purifying effect upon life, as the previous scriptures had ceased to effect deliverance from the bondage of sin. The verse also lays down the right principle for getting rid of the bondage of sin in the words the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, i.e., the most powerful and effective restraint upon sin. It is a living belief in the Divine power, knowledge, and goodness that restrains people from walking in the ways of His displeasure.

The recitation of the Book, the keeping up of prayer, and the remembrance of Allah are really identical; for the Quran is recited in prayers, and the Quran is the best means of the remembrance of Allah. The Quran is pre-eminently a Book that manifests the glory, greatness, grandeur, goodness, love, purity, power, and knowledge of the Supreme Being. While, as generally understood, by the remembrance of Allah is meant His glorification and praise in prayer, it is also here meant Allah’s remembrance of man or His raising him to a place of eminence. Thus the significance would be that through prayer to God, not only is man freed from the bondage of sin, but (which is greater than this) he is raised to a place of higher eminence.

The phrase Allah-o-Akbar are the first words whispered in the ear of an infant even before s/he opens the eyes to the world and the last sounds when the same eyes close and the person returns to his Maker. These are the first words by which Muslims are awoken in the morning from their cozy comforts by the call to prayers for them to humble themselves before the Almighty and to continue this unpretentiousness through the day in pursing their social, economic, academic and all the chores of livelihood. These words are uttered by a Muslim on the average more than a 360 times a day, aloud or in silence, during the five times a day call to prayers, while lining up in ranks for prayers and during the prayers with every change of posture. These are the spontaneous words from the tip of the tongue which imprint on a Muslim mind of one’s humbleness in success and failure, in prosperity and poverty, in ease and adversity. Alas! Spencer will never hear these silent utterances of God is Great nor understand their significance, whereas these words create meekness in each Muslim when s/he treads in footsteps and example of Jesus Christ, a notion that is the corner stone of Islam.

“…no careful observer, no student of religion can withhold his tribute of admiration and of reverence toward that faith which holds as its first creed “God is Great,” and which depends every day upon submission as the hall-mark and custodian. Submission in Arab character does not mean submission passive to inherent forces. Submission of Islam is submission in co-operation with great forces of nature, which operates on the spirit of man to produce the result toward which the universe is working. This submission toward the will of God, the brotherhood of man, and the fatherhood of God is the contribution of that great Prophet to the sum total of the human thought…” [ref: “League of Faith: A Message From Islam” excerpted from opening address by the Chair – Mr. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer, B.A., B.L., given at Victoria Public Hall, Madras, India, on February 25, 1920, as quoted in Islamic Review and Muslim India, Vol. VIII, No. 5, May 1920, p. 180, The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England – pdf link]

As how to bring out the full spiritual nectar of Allah-o-Akbar, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writes in his essay – A Living Religion and a Living Prayer p. 26-27:

… [while praying] to establish such a connection [with God], for unless all worldly connections are severed and the heart is dead to the love of the world, the nature of the man must remain devoid of zeal for the love of God. It has been said that the Companions of the Holy Prophet used to be so engrossed in their prayers that when they were ended, they could hardly recognise one another. In fact, every true believer should be engrossed in his prayers. According to the Muslim law when a man meets his companions after separation, he must say Assalamau-Alaikum: “Peace be on you.” In this lies the secret of ending prayer with Assalamau-Alaikum wa Rahmatullah: “Peace be on you and the mercy of God.” When a man stands up for prayers and begins his devotions by saying Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great), he stands in the Divine presence and is, as it were removed into another world being absorbed in the contemplation of Divine Glory and Majesty. When the prayers are ended, he comes back into this world and hence at the end he says Assalamau-Alaikum wa Rahmatullah: “Peace be on you and the mercy of God”, having met his friends after separation. But if only dull ceremonies are gone through without realising their deep significance, no good can result. Ceremonies are shells in which there is no kernel, and if the deep truths that underlie them are not realised, they may turn out to be ways of destruction. It is when such a truth is realised that a true love for God is generated in the heart and the soul flies to God and is completely engrossed in the contemplation of Divine glory. Every particle of the body in that state serves and obeys God…

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* Jihad

The term Jihad has been addressed from its many angles in previous issues: 26, Muhammad Ali –27, Pickthall –27, 28, Zahid Aziz –33, 34, 35, Nooruddin –36, G.W. Leitner –37.

Spencers in the West (and the West in general) has been programmed to war cries whenever name of God is mentioned. “Deus vult! (God wills it) became the battle cry of the Crusader and the red cross became its symbol that is still on the flags of many modern European and South Pacific nations.

When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, “It is the will of God! It is the will of God!” When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:

Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God! [Medieval Sourcebook: Urban II (1088-1099): Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, Five versions of the Speech, as quoted from – Dana C. Munro, “Urban and the Crusaders”, Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, Vol 1:2, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1895), 5-8]

Ever since the war cry of Council of Claremont, the Middle East has been attacked by the West under one pretext or another in a major way at least 16 times – Nine medieval Crusades between 1095 and 1272, the Alexandrian Crusade of 1365 and the Crusade of Nicopolis of 1396. Three intermediate “Christian invasions” of the Middle East namely, Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798, the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, and the British and French mandates after World War I. Thereafter, Iraq I & II. This does not include its abetted occupation and wars by Israel. Thus, the use of the word “crusade” rings lots of bells in the Middle East of foreign aggression, ironically of the same West which found the likes of Spencers amongst its midst in each period of history.

As if the coinage of the term ‘Holy War’ was not enough by Pope Urban II to justify Crusades, President Bush set it in stone to wage “crusade” (read holy war) against the menace of our times:

September 16, 2001, at South Lawn of the White House: “We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven’t seen this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft — fly U.S. aircraft into buildings full of innocent people — and show no remorse. This is a new kind of — a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the American people must be patient. I’m going to be patient. But I can assure the American people I am determined, I’m not going to be distracted, I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are these brought to justice, but anybody who’s been associated will be brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century.” [White House – archives]

February 16, 2002 – US President George W. Bush, from a rally for the troops in Alaska, “I want to tell you something, we’ve got no better friends than Canada. (Applause.) They stand with us in this incredibly important crusade to defend freedom, this campaign to do what is right for our children and our grandchildren.” [White House – archives]

Bush and his neocon advisers missed a historic opportunity to turn a tragedy into a permanent victory for peace in the world, while they could, but they did not. It was a time when there was a global ground swell for unity and sympathy for the United States. Muslim world was equally mourning the victimization of thousands of innocent and their families and were equally aggrieved for the loss of a nation whose food, fashion, movies, music, technology was accepted as a symbol of bliss in the world. If Bush would had used the word “Jihad” instead of “crusade” and acted in spirit of what Jihad stands for in Quran, the results would had been different in much shorter span of time, rather than the ongoing apologetic retractions, withdrawal and licking of the wounds inflicted on the body, psyche and pocket book of the world in general and West in particular. Bush sought revenge, and the world got ongoing inconclusive Bush’s wars of more than a decade, trillions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands humans dead and maimed. Jihad means striving, to be conducted foremost with the intellect outlined in the Quran itself. Such a course would had taken the wind out of the sails of the extremists and deprived them of their argument. The extremist elements would had been weeded out of their sanctuaries as religious duty by their shielders. But, the arrival of marching steps of ‘crusaders’ on the door steps, churned out an even further twisted and distorted Jihad among the fringe elements. No matter how much those elements may be in minority, but would get the most press coverage in the West. Ironically, the current meaning of Jihad was given and funded by the West itself. West created Jihadis of today when the enemy was the Soviets and the Jihadis were toasted in the White House [see picture] by none other than a Republican President, Ronald Reagan. It is from these fringe elements and their internet videos; the West hears the war cry of Allah-o-Akbar. Neither Jihad of Quran stands for such deeds nor does Allah-o-Akbar.

In sum total, Allah-o-Akbar is anything but the war cry Deus vult!

The gargantuan human and monetary toll of the ‘crusades’ of our times may be judged in a report by Reuters, Wed Jun 29, 2011– Cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting:

In human terms, 224,000 to 258,000 people have died directly from warfare, including 125,000 civilians in Iraq. Many more have died indirectly, from the loss of clean drinking water, healthcare, and nutrition. An additional 365,000 have been wounded and 7.8 million people — equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky — have been displaced.

In one sense, the report measures the cost of 9/11, the American shorthand for the events of September 11, 2001. Nineteen hijackers plus other al Qaeda plotters spent an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 on the plane attacks that killed 2,995 people and caused $50 billion to $100 billion in economic damages.

What followed…For every person killed on September 11, another 73 have been killed since.

In the 10 years since U.S. troops went into Afghanistan to root out the al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11, 2001, attacks, spending on the conflicts totaled $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

Those numbers will continue to soar when considering often overlooked costs such as long-term obligations to wounded veterans and projected war spending from 2012 through 2020. The estimates do not include at least $1 trillion more in interest payments coming due and many billions more in expenses that cannot be counted, according to the study.

The US currently spends over 1.2 million dollars a minute on militarism and war. That’s 20,000 dollars every second [link]. Of course, that very biblical treasure trove is for none but defense industry:

“The Last Supper has become part of the lore of the military industry — though partly that’s because Mr. Aspin’s prediction about tighter Pentagon budgets turned out to be so wrong. “On the day George W. Bush took office,” said Loren B. Thompson, a well-known military consultant, “defense spending was around $300 billion.” Today it is more than double that amount, around $700 billion. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention the Pentagon’s voracious appetite for expensive weapons systems, and the lack of competition among the remaining contractors — have been a gold mine for the Big Five…the so-called primes: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman and Boeing.” [From Pentagon, a Buy Rating on Contractors – Joe Nocera, The New York Times, Feb 11, 2011]

A characteristic that is common to crusaders, medieval or current, they all started by dividing the world into good and evil. “This is about good vs. evil” is famously attributed to George Bush, a born-again Christian. All crusades of past, present and even possible future start with initial idealistic determinism, which soon transforms into loot and plunder of their own people first and then everyone else that came their way, be it the land or the people.

One is pained to ask a fundamental question to the West that is under the influence of Spencers – What is so holy in your Holy War? Look no farther than your own scriptures which answer the insanity of Bush’s crusades, rather the sanity underlying the Defense industry – Matthew 6:21 (NIV):

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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* La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah

47:19. So know that there is no god but Allah…

48:29. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah…

From a very early Islamic tradition, the elements over two verses are compounded into a declaration:

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah
“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”

This declaration is the fundamental oath of a Muslim. It identifies the source of belief (Allah) and the messenger (Muhammad). According to Quran, this is a declaration of Believers since eternity – the believers in Allah and the followers of the prophet of the time, the Muslims, the submitting ones:

5:111. And when I inspired the disciples [of Jesus], (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger [– Jesus], they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee) “we are Muslims [– the submitting ones].

By declaring Allah as one’s only God one is barred from taking others as gods, including any person, entity, or resource. Along the same lines, it prevents one from thinking or acting like a god toward others, yet, the very objective of Islam is to revive godly attributes in oneself. This declaration fundamentally makes one humble, unburdening one from the shackles of arrogance, myths, dependency and fears and thus unleashing human potentials.

By declaring Muhammad the Messenger, the oath assigns human status to Muhammad and prevents the Muslims from attributing super human qualities to him. In other religions, their followers, out of love for their respective messengers, coupled with their ancestral and inherent idolatrous traditions, over a period of time started attributing godliness to their messengers. The Muslim oath preserves the fundamental immaculate monotheistic nature of Islam.

Given the unity of the Message from Adam to Muhammad, and the universality of the Message of Muhammad, the above declaration is further extended for Muslims to believe not only in all the previous Messengers but also in all the previous Books:

4:171. …Believe, therefore, in Allâh and in all His Messengers…

2:136. Say, `We believe in Allâh and in that (the Qur’ân) which has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismâîl, Isaac, Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and (we believe) in what was given to (all other) Prophets from their Lord. We (while believing in them) make no discrimination between anyone of them, and to Him do we submit ourselves entirely.’

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* Darood

Besides, Allah-o-Akbar, Darood is a ubiquitous part of daily Muslim prayers, which besides creed of Prophet Muhammad, is also directed for the creed of Abraham:

Allahu-mma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala ali Muhammadin kama sallaita ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala ali lbrahima inna-ka Hamidum Majid. AIIahumma barik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala’ ali Muhammadin kama barakta ‘ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala’ ali Ibrahima inna-ka Hamidum Majid.

[Translation] O Allah! exalt Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham; surely Thou art Praised, Magnified. O Allah! bless Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst bless Abraham and the true followers of Abraham; surely Thou art Praised, Magnified. [The Muslim Prayer Book, p. 24, Muhammad Ali]

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SALAT-UN-NABI OR DAROOD
Id-ul-Adha Khutba [– Sermon] at Darus Salaam, London, 16 March 2000
By Dr. Zahid Aziz
Published in The Light & Islamic Review, March-April 2000, p. 6-8 [pdf – link, webpage – link]

And when his Lord tried Abraham with certain commands he fulfilled them. He said: Surely I will make you a leader of mankind. Abraham said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the wrongdoers, said He.” — The Holy Quran, 2:124

And when Abraham said: My Lord, make this city secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols. My Lord, surely they have led many people astray. So whoever follows me, he is surely of me; and whoever disobeys me, Thou surely art Forgiving, Merciful.” — The Holy Quran, 14:36.

I will return shortly to an explanation of the verses quoted just now. Before that, let me read the well-known prayer taught to Muslims known in Urdu and Persian as the Darood and in Arabic as Salatun-Nabi

O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham, Thou art the Praised, the Magnified. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the true followers of Muhammad as Thou didst bless Abraham and the true followers of Abraham, Thou art the Praised, the Magnified.

The words of this prayer in Arabic are recited by Muslims, both within the set daily prayers and at other times, and are believed to be a source of blessing. But unfortunately, Muslims generally are either unaware of what the Arabic words of the prayer mean, or if they do know the meaning they are unaware of what is the “exaltation” and “blessing” that they are asking to be bestowed upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers, which were also granted to Abraham and his followers.

The Bible mentions the promises of exaltation and blessing given from God to Abraham and his progeny as follows. God said to Abraham:

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you… and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” — Genesis, 12:2–3.

“You shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.” — Genesis, 17:4, 6.

“I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore…and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves.” – Genesis, 22:17– 18.

Unfortunately the followers of the Bible, that is to say the Jews and the Christians — the first group being the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, and the second group having arisen out of the Jews – considered this promise to be unconditional. Their belief was that no matter how they behaved, well or badly, they would still be great and blessed nations because of being Abraham’s descendants. But the Holy Quran puts this promise in a different way, as in the verse quoted at the beginning of this khutba [–sermon]. When Abraham asked God about his progeny, God said: My promise does not include and extend to the wrongdoers.

Also according to another verse in the Holy Quran as quoted above, Abraham prayed to God as follows:

­­­­“So whoever follows me, he is surely of me; and whoever disobeys me, Thou surely art Forgiving, Merciful.” – The Holy Quran, 14:36

Two points are made here:

1. It is whoever follows the path of Abraham who is “of him” or his progeny, offspring or issue. The same applies to any other spiritual leader. It is not by mere physical descent but by following in their path that you become their real descendants. This is a great and deep principle revealed by Islam, and if we bear it in mind it can save us from going wrong many a time.

2. As to those who disobey or do not follow Abraham, he prays for their forgiveness. This teaches us to constantly pray to Allah to show forgiveness and mercy to the rejecters of truth by bringing them into the fold of truth.

After Abraham, in the long course of time, two main religions developed among the followers of the Bible: the Jewish and the Christian religions. But both deviated from, and in fact, went contrary to Abraham’s path, while considering themselves to be the blessed nations springing from him.

The Jewish religion became a religion of rites and rituals only, so that the priests and the masses stuck to the letter of the religious teachings but lost the true spirit. They lost the spirit of sacrifice of one’s desires that Abraham demonstrated, and indeed what he is famous for. So they became a morally corrupt people while sticking most rigidly to the letter of the religion.

The Christian religion invented wrong beliefs about God, making a mortal Jesus into a part of God, going against the Oneness of God which was so dear to Abraham and which he preached so fervently, and coining the doctrine that your sins are forgiven if you believe that Jesus died for your sins. Abraham’s belief was that to have your sins forgiven the only way is to lead a righteous life with belief in One God.

So how could these nations be the blessed heirs of Abraham when they go against his teachings?

That is why God then raised the Holy Prophet Muhammad, from the descendants of Abraham through Ishmael, in order to revive the beliefs taught by Abraham. That is, belief in One God, sacrificing your lower desires in order to reach God, and leading a righteous life.

Apart from reviving Abraham’s beliefs, in the physical and material sense too, Islam arose in a place, Makka, whose foundations were laid by Abraham, and Islam made as its religious center the Ka‘ba which had been rebuilt by Abraham from a state of ruin. Further, Islam instituted a remembrance of the incident of Abraham’s act of sacrifice to be done at the Hajj, and by all Muslims throughout the world.

This shows that it is the Muslim nation which is the heir to Abraham, and it is through this nation that the promise of God given to Abraham is fulfilled that “I will make a great nation out of you and will bless those who bless you, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves”.

The significance of the Darood prayer, or Salatunnabi, is that we pray that the promise of the blessings of God coming to Abraham and his followers be fulfilled through the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers.

But we must beware that merely by copying Abraham’s example of sacrifice in a symbolic way, or by just going to the Hajj to the place that Abraham is associated with and performing the outward rites, we do not become his heirs and heirs to the promised blessings. This is just like the fact that the Jewish and Christian religions, while arising among Abraham’s descendants, are not his spiritual heirs because they have gone against his teachings.

To be Abraham’s real heirs, so as to be worthy of inheriting the promised blessings, we have to make sacrifices of our own desires, just as Abraham did, which needs to be done in order to attain a higher goal.

This is why our Darood is couched in the form of a prayer: “O Allah, exalt…O Allah, bless…”, so that we realize that it is a goal for which we have to work and pray. Muslims are not taught to refer to these blessings as something which is guaranteed to them by God, regardless of their behaviour, even though it is true that the followers of the Prophet Muhammad have been destined to inherit those blessings.

Abraham was promised, in the words of the Holy Quran, that he would be made “a leader of mankind”. What does that mean? The word for “leader” is imam, which means one who sets an example. He was selected by God as an example because of his willingness to sacrifice what he loved most in the path of God. Similarly, if his heirs are to become leaders of all mankind, they have to set the same example of self-sacrifice. A leader, according to Islam, is not someone who just has power and gives orders. A leader is one who sets the greatest example himself of what he wants and requires others to do, and then people follow his example. That is the kind of leader that the Holy Prophet Muhammad was, one who has left behind his own actions and life as an example. That is the kind of leadership of the nations that Islam wants Muslims to have.

Also, the promise contains mention of making a “great” nation from Abraham. What is a great nation? According to the Quran, it is not one which rules over the most lands, has the biggest empire, possesses the most wealth and resources, or is the most powerful in weapons and armaments, but the greatest nation is the one which upholds truth, goodness and justice more than anyone else.

Note: The khutba [–sermon] ends above, but in this written version I deal with a question related to the Darood which was once asked by a friend. He asked: Since the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the greatest of all prophets in rank and status, why do we Muslims pray that Allah may bestow those blessings on him, and on his followers, which had already been bestowed upon Abraham and his followers? Are we saying that Abraham held a higher rank than the Holy Prophet Muhammad and we are praying for the Holy Prophet to reach that same rank and status?

The answer is that the words of the Darood, “as Thou didst exalt Abraham and the true followers of Abraham” and “as Thou didst bless Abraham and the true followers of Abraham”, do not refer to any exaltation or blessings that had actually been attained in full measure by Abraham and his followers prior to the time of the Holy Prophet, so that we could be said to be praying for the same now to be given to the Holy Prophet and his followers. Rather, this was a promise made by God to Abraham relating to the future. That promise had been fulfilled only very partially through the Israelite prophets and kings of the Bible who came after Abraham, and by the time the Holy Prophet Muhammad arose the followers of the Bible had lost all those blessings as a result of deviating completely from Abraham’s teachings. Therefore the promise to Abraham and to his followers was destined to come true through the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers: that there would be great nations in the whole of the world following Abraham’s message, blessing him, and through whom his name would be made great. So the Darood is the prayer to say that may the promises of God made with Abraham come to fulfillment in the fullest and most complete manner through the Holy Prophet Muhammad and his followers.

Darood and the propagation work of our Movement

On a second point, since we pray in the Darood for the Holy Prophet Muhammad to be exalted and blessed, it means that we must also work towards this goal. For the Holy Prophet to be exalted in the world it is absolutely essential to strive hard to present a true picture of his noble life and character, particularly to counteract the false image found in hostile Western writings as well as in certain Muslim books written by foolish friends. Only then will the image of the Holy Prophet, and along with him that of his followers, be raised high or exalted in the world. Only then will people realize what a great blessing for the world he was, and they will send their blessings on him. Just repeating the Darood in words, without any action to bring about the exaltation and blessing which is being prayed for, cannot achieve anything.
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* Islam will dominate the world

The opponents of Islam and the current documentary in particular try to make Islam synonymous with certain races. They just cannot help it because their only experience of “domination” is their own history of one race colonizing, enslaving and exploiting other races and faiths.

What this placard is drawing attention to is not the domination of one race over another, but domination of better ideas over the inferior ones. This challenge has its source in Quran:

61:8. They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, though the disbelievers may be averse.

61:9. He it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though those who set up partners (with Allah) are averse.

[Footnote] Verses 8 and 9 contain two different prophecies. The first is that all attempts to annihilate Islam will fail, and they did fail. In the second it is affirmed that Islam will be made the predominant religion, the truth of which was witnessed by Arabia in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. But both prophecies have a wider significance. Attempts are still being made to annihilate Islam, and the Divine promise is that all these attempts shall be brought to naught; while the predominance of Islam over all the religions of the world would in time be established, as clearly as it was in Arabia.

41:53. We will soon show them Our signs in farthest regions and among their own people,

[Footnote] The word afaq means borders or extremities of the earth, or its remote sides, and the great message conveyed here is that Islam will spread to the most distant regions of the earth, the words their own people denoting the Arabs. What is stated here is that Islam will quickly spread, not only in Arabia but in the remote regions of the earth, and this prophecy is contained in a chapter revealed early at Makkah, when Muslims were being severely persecuted and the message of Islam had apparently little hope of finding acceptance anywhere. If the prophecy is so clear, its fulfilment is clearer still. Within twenty years of its birth, Islam spread through the whole of Arabia, and within a hundred years, it reached the farthest regions of the earth, both in the East and the West. Both the prophecy and its fulfilment are thus two of the most amazing facts of history.

until it is quite clear to them that it is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a Witness over all things?

As to who is bearer of the said superior ideas, Quran speaks of it:

53:6. …So he attained to perfection,

[Footnote] The Holy Prophet is spoken of here as having attained to perfection because the Almighty Himself was his Teacher.

53:7. and he is in the highest part of the horizon.

[Footnote] The Prophet’s being in the highest part of the horizon is in reference to the resplendence of his light, which was to illuminate all corners of the world — a prophecy that he will shine out in the full brilliance of his light as the midday sun.

Even though the early Islamic history, till a few centuries ago bears testimony to the truth of all the above verses for their prophecies, still the documentary can make the claim that Islam is at present confined predominantly to certain races and regions only. For such proponents, Quran has the prophecies of our times, which are quite vivid and not ‘Nostradamusically’ vague. Chapter 81 deals with events of our times as outlined in its introductory commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali“…The chapter begins by speaking prophetically of certain events of the distant future fulfilled in the modern age. It concludes by making clear that the Holy Prophet’s light will reach the remotest horizon and the Quran will reach all nations…”

81:1. When the sun is folded up,

[Footnote]For the folding up of the sun, see the introductory note above. Verses 1–13 speak of twelve signs, some of which undoubtedly relate to this life and the rest may therefore also be taken as referring metaphorically to this life. The Resurrection of the dead in another life may often contain a deeper reference to the spiritual resurrection which was to be brought about by the Prophet in this very life, and hence the combination of the real with the metaphorical, as here.

81:2. and when the stars are dust coloured,

[Footnote] The darkening of the stars indicates complete darkness. Not only would the light of the day disappear, but even the smaller lights would become dark, and so the opponents of Truth would be left in utter darkness.

81:3. and when the mountains are made to pass away,

[Footnote] The passing away of the mountains signifies the passing away of the greatest obstacles to the spread of Truth; see 20:105 footnote [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section]. [the verse also alludes to modern highways]

81:4. and when the camels are abandoned,

[Footnote] Ishar is plural of ushara, meaning a she-camel that has been ten months pregnant. It is applied to the she-camel until she has delivered and also after she has delivered, and to a camel that is milked. Such camels are undoubtedly the most precious, and their being abandoned may stand for the abandonment of camels generally. Bearing on this subject is a hadith of the Prophet: “Camels will be abandoned so that they will not be used for going swiftly (from one place to another)” (Mishkat, 26:5). This clearly refers to a time when swifter modes of going from one place to another will come into existence, so that camels will no more be needed.

81:5. and when the wild animals are gathered together,

[Footnote] The gathering together (hashr) of wild animals seems also to be a prophecy relating to the distant future, when the wild animals were to be gathered together from all corners of the world into big towns [in the zoos]. It may refer metaphorically to the gathering together of barbarous people into towns and cities.

81:6. and when the cities are made to swell,

[Footnote] The word bihar is the plural of bahr, which means sea or river, as well as of bahrah which is synonymous with baldah or a town. The swelling of cities is a clear indication that advancing civilization will result in people gathering more and more in cities. The next verse corroborates this significance, as it speaks in clear words of the uniting of people.

81:7. and when people are united,

[Footnote] The uniting of people is one of the greatest achievements of modern civilization. The time is not far distant indeed when the whole world will be united and may become as a single nation [as it has started to happen with globalization of economies, human rights, communications, travel, United Nations etc.].

81:8-9. and when the one buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed,

[Footnote] The reference here is to the burying alive of daughters, a practice common among the pre-Islamic Arabs who, either for fear of hunger or disgrace, buried alive their female children. The questioning refers to the future when, with the predominance of Islam in Arabia, this barbarous practice was to be abolished. But the one buried alive may stand generally for the female sex, and the reference here may, therefore, be to the general tyranny of the male over the female. (Editor’s Note: Killing of girls at birth still takes place in some parts of the world. Abortion of foetuses for the reason of being female is a modern extension of the same barbarous practice.)

81:10. and when the books are spread,

[Footnote] This is also a prophetic reference to the distant future, with the circulation of books and papers to an incredible extent. The Muslim world did immense service to the cause of the circulation of literature, and the revival of learning in the West, which has brought about the great spread of books and papers, was a direct result of the impetus which Islam gave to the study of letters. [the verse also refers to modern print and electronic media, internet etc.]

81:11. and when the heaven has its covering removed,

[Footnote] The removal of the covering of the heaven signifies the unveiling of the mysteries relating to the heavens, which is one of the great achievements of modern science. Compare 99:2 where the earth is spoken of as yielding her treasures [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section].

81:12. and when hell is kindled,

[Footnote] Just as the righteous are promised heaven in this very life, the wicked are told that hell would be kindled for them even here, if they had only the eyes to see it. Compare 79:36 [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section]. The forces of materialism have already engulfed the world in a burning hell in the form of modern wars.

81:13. and when the Garden is brought near

[Footnote] God has not doomed this world to utter destruction, but when it has tasted somewhat of the evil consequences of its own doings, Divine mercy will take it by the hand and bring the Garden of bliss near to it by bringing about a spiritual awakening. Thus the solace of mind which man can attain to through realization of the Divine in him is here described as the bringing near of the Garden.

81:14. every soul will know what it has prepared.

[Footnote] Man will then become conscious that there is a higher life, which is his real goal, and he will know what to do to attain that goal. [the verse also draws attention to accountability in the modern world]

81:15-18. Indeed, I call to witness the stars, running their course, (and) setting, and the night when it departs, and the morning when it brightens,

[Footnote] The calling to witness of the stars that run their course and set also draws attention to the disasters that awaited the opponents of the Truth; see 53:1 footnote [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section]. The departing of the night and the rise of the bright morning is clearly the disappearance of the darkness of ignorance, giving place to the bright light of the sun of Islam.

81:19-21. surely it is the word of a bountiful Messenger, the possessor of strength, established in the presence of the Lord of the Throne, one (to be) obeyed, and faithful.

[Footnote] Verses 19–21 refer to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He is the
bountiful Messenger (Rasul Karim), the one to be obeyed (see 4:64) [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section], and the faithful (al-Amin). His being possessor of strength prophetically refers to his future career and to his ultimate triumph over his enemies.

81:22-23. And your companion is not mad. And truly he saw himself on the clear horizon.

[Footnote] This means that his light would shine in the remotest corners of the world. See also 53:7 and footnote [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section].

81:24. Nor is he miserly (with knowledge) of the unseen.

[Footnote] This shows that there are some great prophecies relating to the future in what has gone before.

81:25-26. Nor is it the word of an accursed devil — where then are you going?

[Footnote] Wonder is expressed that despite the clearest evidence of Truth, humanity has been so slow to accept it.

81:27. It is nothing but a Reminder for the nations,

[Footnote] This, one of the earliest revelations, clearly shows that the foundations of the universality of the message of Islam were laid on the very first day.

81:28-29. for whomever among you who wishes to go straight. And you do not (so) wish, unless Allah please, the Lord of the worlds.

[Footnote] See 76:30 footnote for explanation [reader: refer to the original publication link in references section].

Fruition of the claims and prophecies in Quran of success of Islam as an ideology are not based upon just a fanciful wish and “me too” of any faith out there, but it is based upon its intellectual strengths. Quran does not shy away from having a discussion, dialogue and debate for its fortes versus any other idea. Factually, Quran encourages such a discourse:

27:64. Or, Who originates the creation, then reproduces it, and Who gives you sustenance from the heaven and the earth? Is there a god with Allah? Say: Bring your proof, if you are truthful.

6:148-149. …Say: Have you any knowledge so you would bring it forth to us? You only follow a conjecture and you only tell lies. Say: Then Allah’s is the conclusive argument;…

References:

Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources]
League of Faith: A Message From Islam – Islamic Review and Muslim India
A Living Religion and a Living Prayer – Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Deus vult! – Merriam-Webster
Medieval Sourcebook: Urban II (1088-1099): Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, Five versions of the Speech, as quoted from – Dana C. Munro, “Urban and the Crusaders”
Pope Urban II – Wikipedia
Remarks by the President Upon Arrival – South Lawn – White House – archives – President George Bush
President Rallies the Troops in Alaska – White House – archives – President George Bush
Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen – Wikipedia
Cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting – Reuters
I Apologize for Inaccurate Statistics on US Gov’t War Spending – Red Letter Christians
Matthew 6:21 (NIV) – Bible Gateway
From Pentagon, a Buy Rating on Contractors – Joe Nocera, The New York Times
The Muslim Prayer Book – Muhammad Ali
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SALAT-UN-NABI OR DAROOD, pdf – link – Dr. Zahid Aziz, The Light & Islamic Review, March-April 2000
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

Islam and Human Rights

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

At this link you can read my presentation at a meeting at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, England, on 17th November 2012, on the subject of Islam and Human Rights, which I was invited to give.

Issue 78

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Issue 78 [@1:19:45]: Robert Spencer – “Muslims who come to the United States and come to Western Europe, with an idea that Shariah is the law of Allah, they look upon our freedom of religion and they look upon the fact that non-Muslims are empowered in the United States and in Western Europe, making laws, making laws not on the basis of the law of Allah, but on the basis of consensus and free elections. They look upon all that as a manifestation of Jahaliyya, or unbelief, the pre-Islamic period of ignorance as the times in any nation’s history before it became Muslim is referred to. So that you have Pakistan and Iran and so on, they refer to the period of their history before they became Muslim as the period of Jahaliyya. They also consider the United States and Western Europe to be in periods of Jahaliyya today. Then many Muslims coming into the United States and Western Europe will work to establish Islamic states here on the basis of the idea that the secular state and the state based on elections has no legitimacy. You do not have elections about the law of Allah, you simply obey what God says.

Rebuttal 78: There is a simple answer to this rant of Spencer and that is plain NO, and what part of NO does he not understand? When was it even possible in history for a minority of no more than 0.8% of the population [of Muslims in USA] to be able to assert its interests and point of view on the rest of the 99.2%, unless and maybe the said minority controls the banks, stock market, media, the universities, the senate and the congress? Muslims in West do not control any of these assets. If he is still not convinced then he has to look no farther than August 30th, 2011 report of Pew Research entitled – “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.”

Spencer et al. have a special knack to not only distort and misquote verses of Quran and the Hadith, but he even goes further. He even distorts the meaning of a single word Jahaliyya. He equates it with “unbelief”, which is absurd, wrong and malicious as he tries to mould it to mean non-Islamic and with that he implies the West. This is a curse from his mouth to the West, not from Muslims. By any standards, West of today is not Jahaliyya. Jahaliyya means ignorance and refers to the state of lawlessness and barbarism rampant in the time period before Islam in Arabia, when male gender was exploitative of the females who essentially had no rights; lighter skin were enslavers of dark skin; non-Arabs were looked down upon as inferior; a few rich ruled and exploited the majority of poor; there was no check on the mighty; internacine warfare was pervasive; occupation and enslavement of enemies was common; there were no rules of war, every atrocity was fair game; usury, gambling, alcoholism, prostitution and debauchery were endemic etc.

Spencer is fabricating his assertion. He is preaching Xenophobia even against four-in-ten American born Muslim citizens, while the total population of all the Muslims in United States is less than 1%. Such an insinuation against its citizens would be a crime in any “modern” democracy as it is not “free speech” but “defamation.” He is equating Islam with non-Caucasian races. That is the fundamental malice of a lie that he is trying to imprint in the minds of the “Western” audience. Irony is that if he asks a Muslim immigrant in the West about his/her experience of Shariah in their country of origin, he might draw a blank as Shariah is hardly in place in any of the Muslim countries, which is a foremost failing. He might find fragmented distortions in the name of Shariah, but not Shariah of Quran. A failing, which for the lack of a better word is in itself Jahaliyya – ignorance. Shariah in its letter and spirit is far advanced and equitable in legal terms than the best of the Laws and Constitutions in the West. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations is the closest that any man made effort can approach Shariah, whereas Shariah is much more than that. Shariah provides a framework that encourages good and prevents evil in the society both for the individual and collectively for the masses, in all their spheres of living – personal, gender, age, marriage, family, education, workplace, trade, business, finance, transactions, inheritance, crime, justice, punishment, health, war, peace, freedoms, human rights, animal rights, faith, environment, international relations etc. etc.

Fact of the matter is that the roots of “good” in the Western society and its laws originate directly from the influence of Shariah, and this is not an empty assertion. To enjoin good and forbid evil in all its shades and contexts is the core purpose of Shariah. In secular terms if nothing else, Shariah not only confronts crime but also prevents it as well, while it encourages good citizenship:

3:104. And from among you there should be a community who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful.

3:110. You are the best nation raised up for mankind: you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah.

9:71-72. And the believers, men and women, are friends of one another. They enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and give the due charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, Gardens, in which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in Gardens of perpetual abode. And greatest of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure. That is the mighty achievement.

31:17-18. [Prophet Luqman addressing his son –] My son, keep up prayer and enjoin good and forbid evil, and bear patiently whatever befalls you. Surely this is a matter of great resolution. And do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exultingly. Surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster. And pursue the right course in your going about and lower your voice. Surely the most hateful of voices is braying of donkeys.

24:55. Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will surely make them rulers in the earth as He made those before them rulers…

Until recently there was no concept of human rights in the West. Discrimination based upon skin color was the law of the land. Exploitation of the weak, be it of the individuals amongst their midst or the countries in farthest corners of the world was the right of the mighty in the West. Reverend Martin Luther King had to invoke marches just so that people of color could drink from the same fountains as the whites in the West, while they are still struggling even now for equal opportunities. Women too had to march and ask for their voting and property rights. Countries had to fight for their independence to rid the white rule. Middle East struggled for decades against their tyrant rulers that were and are still abetted by the West. Palestinians are a prime example of occupied and displaced people by no other than the West. What would Spencer term such a recent history, but Jahaliyya? It is this fundamental lack of equity, individually and collectively that dissipates under Shariah. If one looks at the state of affairs in the recent world history through the lens of Shariah with its high moral standards in Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet, one can quite confidently attribute – Jahaliyya to the East and Jahaliyya to West, though some more than the others.

In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson composed a draft of the Declaration of Independence that was adopted on July 4th the same year. When he wrote – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, it was for sure agreed upon only for the White males to the exclusion of white women, African slaves, Native Americans and Chinese laborers. A great declaratory statement when separated from corresponding actions through the prism of history sounds so hollow. Such exclusive declarations only suit the fancies of their writers who belong to the group that it benefits. Same values were held by the white prime ministers of South Africa of yesteryears and now by the prime ministers of Israel. Just to remind Spencer in his own words, these assertions by former slave masters in the West and current apartheid upholders in the Middle East are “making laws not on the basis of the law of Allah, but on the basis of consensus and free elections.”

What Spencer is ignorant of is that what Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Declaration of Independence above is factually nothing but reflection of Shariah, with the difference that it applies to all genders, races, ages, social and economic classes, then, now and in the future. Surprised! (see Issues 65, 71)

Shariah is not a term or a practice to please a deity, but is the fabric into which is woven the equity and harmony in the society, where the ruler, the powerful and the wealthy are held to equal if not much higher accountability, yet individual responsibility is fully expected from each citizen, because a Muslim by the very definition of the word is ‘submitter’ to not only the Laws of the land, but to all the moral, spiritual and scientific laws, the source of all of which is God Himself.

West has tried every conceivable ism – Paganism, Hellenism, Catholicism, Monarchism, Colonialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Capitalism and now Atheism. One after another, each one of them has failed the mankind. One common trait of most of these isms is their servitude of the masses that they tried to serve. Before it was bondage of person, now it is bondage of debt under Capitalism. One has to ask as to why it is okay to speak of Caucasian as a race in the West, but it is a derogatory term to mention Negro as people. Is it the fault of the latter for their skin color or the moral repentance of the West for its institutions of slavery and apartheid? It is against the backdrop of such exploitation and inequality of the masses that we see “Occupy Wall Street” movements globally. One aspect that sets apart Shariah from all these isms is the freedom from servitude that it guarantees, because if God made man free, so must His laws as well.

This documentary which was made in 2006 was one of the orchestrated preludes in the anti-Sharia fear mongering. This concerted wave of phobia ultimately resulted in passage of anti-foreign law (read anti-Sharia) constitutional amendment in Oklahoma in 2010. It was struck down this past January [2012], with a federal court ruling that lawmakers failed to “identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve.” This legalized anti-Sharia attempt is dealt with for its detail and context in the following article which can be read from the link. Only the excerpt of its summation is reproduced below:

The True Story of Sharia in American Courts by Abed Awad, June 13, 2012, The Nation

The US constitutional system is built on managing the tensions in our pluralistic society between strong religious and secular principles. Whether through reasonable religious accommodation in the workplace or treating religion as a form of freedom of expression, our legal system is well equipped to balance conflicts between church and state.

Of course, the anti-Sharia crusade is not about the careful consideration of constitutional principles; it is about discrimination and bigotry. Take the Oklahoma anti-Sharia statute, which was written in a way that makes it clearly unconstitutional. In a New York Times profile of attorney David Yerushalmi—“The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement”—Yerushalmi openly admitted that his anti-Sharia campaign had an ulterior motive that went beyond the statutes themselves. “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would have not served its purpose,” he said. “The purpose was heuristic—to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’” This question was meant to render Muslims suspect and their faith threatening to the rest of us.

In addition to trying to pass anti-Sharia laws across the country, Yerushalmi and his allies are busy clogging the federal courts with frivolous lawsuits. In one, filed on behalf of former US Marine Kevin Murray, Yerushalmi alleged that the Treasury’s bailout of AIG violated the establishment clause of the Constitution because of the corporation’s sale of Sharia-compliant financial products. The lawsuit argued that Sharia “forms the basis for the global jihadist war against the West and the United States” and “sends a message to [Mr. Murray], who is a non-adherent to Islam, that he is an outsider.” On June 1, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the lawsuit.

As November approaches, the anti-Sharia movement is likely to play a role in attempting to defeat President Obama. While a 2010 Pew national survey found that nearly one out of five Americans believed that Obama is a Muslim, among Republicans the number was around 31 percent.

The far-right rhetoric of the GOP, with its Islamophobic fictions highlighted during the primary debates, lives on in Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team. Walid Phares, one of Romney’s key terrorism policy advisers and a Fox News regular, has been touting the “mortal threat” posed by Islam. Commenting on the danger of Sharia last year, he said, “The most concerning to me is not the actual Sharia document. What is concerning to me are the networks that are using it.” Through front groups, NGOs and lobbying, he explained, these networks are not only spreading Sharia but seeking to exert political influence at home and abroad. “This influence that the Islamists have in the United States is an issue,” he said, “and it should be an issue raised in the debate, including in this very hot presidential contest this year.” In other words, fabricate a “mortal threat,” then stoke the flames of ignorance and hate in order to win elections—that’s the real truth behind the anti-Sharia movement.

One wonders as to how the documentary can speak for a homogenous West, while the laws that govern their societies are so varied and opposite. For example, it is crime to possess Marijuana in the United States, while it is legal to smoke it in Holland. Same goes for the prostitution. It is acceptable to hoard anonymous wealth in Switzerland, but not so in other European and North American countries. These simple examples prove that there is no uniformity of moral thinking, ethics and justice in the manmade laws of Spencer’s West. This paradox of laws in the West and the influence of Islam on its legal systems, while explaining Sharia, are discussed by Dr. Doi in a two part paper, of which the first part is reproduced below:

Shariah and the Common Law – I by Dr. Abdul Rahman I. Doi [The Light, p. 16-20, 22-25, September 24, 1983 – pdf download]

I have carefully tried to avoid the use of word “comparison” while discussing the definitions and role of the Shariah and the Common Law since there is absolutely no comparison between the two. One is man-made while the other is revealed by Allah, our Creator. In a world still reeling from a bloody war, the thought that Shariah, a system of law, which came into existence through living Revelation, could reorder the universe seems just short of miraculous simply because it has never been fully tried except in the glorious period of the Righteous Caliphs and then in the times of Umar bin Abdul Aziz of the Umayyad dynasty who is rightly given the status of a Righteous Caliph. However, the recent interest in the Muslim world to try Shariah once again may turn out to be a blessing, and that Shariah may prove to be a peace-maker in individual, collective, national and international lives of men.

Shariah literally is the path leading to the right path, path towards Allah, the Creator, path to justice to fellowmen and to Allah. Real justice in Islam lies in going ‘right’ (maruf) and avoiding ‘wrong’ (munkar) as laid down by Allah through Divine Revelations and through the conduct of the Prophet, the most ideal man (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Shariah thus becomes the ultimate criterion of justice and mercy given to the Prophet of mercy: “We have not sent you but as a Mercy for all the worlds”{1}. The Shariah thus aims at creating a most humane and just society once its basic concepts, objectives and framework are understood.

The Common Law, English and American, the continental law like French, Greek, German or even Russian law are all products of human imaginations according to the need of their societies, reforming them through trials and errors as time passed. It goes without saying, though I will say it anyway, that even the most lofty and respectable theories of human motivation from psychiatrists, biologists, legal theorists and philosophers of all kinds must always be treated by serious scholars as suspect. The basis of all their thoughts, discussions, arguments, contributions and innovations is nothing but imagination, pure and simple. They work out in their imagination “what would happen and why,” which may coincidentally come true but not always. The theories they may put forward to reform a man may debase him, disgrace him or make him feel free that he may overdo what he did before. Hence, those who base all their writings on human imaginations and experience accept unquestionably someone else’s formulation of how and why people behave, thus dramatising someone else’s theory, that of Aristotle, Plato, John Austin, Hans Kelsen, Roscoe Pound, Salmond, Savigny Ehirich, Karl Marx, Lauterpacht, Dicey, Ghering, Oppenheim and hordes of others.

At times, it is argued that Muslim jurists also use their reasoning and hence make their imaginations very very active at Ijtihad through the employment of Qiyas, analogical deductions, and taking into consideration Masalih al-Mursalah or public good. It should be understood at the outset that the judges (Quddat) differ merely in the interpretation of law and not in the revealed body of law. The differences of opinion are discussed by the ‘Ulama, the learned, and an Ijma, consensus is then struck. “Christianity” on the other hand; says Huston Smith, “is such a complex phenomenon that it is difficult to say anything significant about it that will carry the assent of all Christians” {2?}. The same is true of other religious and religious scholars.

Ijtihad must not be misconstrued as merely a matter of imagination, personal belief and conscience, it is a process based on the ultimate authority derived from some rule either from a Quranic injunction or some Sunnah of the Prophet, which may have some bearing on the case in question. Since Revelation is not opposed to reason, reason is employed to explain the rule derived from the injunction. Allah has Himself praised those who possess intelligence and reason. This is the reason why Imam Muhammad Idris al-Shafii has used the word Ijtihad synonymously with the word Aql, meaning intellect or reason {3?}.

Real Difference

Shariah, in reality, is the body of rules of conduct revealed by Allah to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) the Last of the Apostles of Allah. It is through the practice of this body of Law that people are directed to, lead their life successfully in this world as well as achieve Allah’s pleasure and be successful in the Hereafter. The Shariah is not given by any ruler or king. It always remains valid whether or not it is recognised by any state. It is comprehensive and encompasses all aspects of law, personal, constitutional, criminal, mercantile and international law. The sources of the Shariah are the Quran and the Sunnah and not the traditions and customs of the land.

As against this background, we shall quote some definitions of common law experts who are respected in the realm of law and are quoted constantly by lawyers throughout the world:

Salmond says: “Law may be defined as the body of principles recognised and applied by state in the administration of justice.”

John Austin says: “Law is the rule of action which is made by a ruler for his subjects.”

Savigny says “Law is the collective conscience of the society. Their main emphasis is on customs and traditions.”

The above definitions of law are grossly inconsistent and misleading. With these definitions at the back of one’s mind, law becomes merely “a part of the political system of nation” {4?}. These definitions suit more a legal system of a tribal society or a definite nation. Shariah on the contrary has a global application, applicable to all Muslim societies and non-Muslims living with them, irrespective of time and place.

I won’t address the paradox of searching the religious law in all religious systems that raises doubt about ‘law’ itself. Suffice it to say that I think the question interesting to those obviously, who research on various legal systems in different religions, I should add that I am thinking primarily of ‘great religions’ of the world although much of what say is relevant to all religions and religious movements. After the decline of Hamurabi’s law and Roman law, the Mosaic Law and then Biblical law based on Jewish and Christian scriptures occupied very prominent position in the world. But soon, these laws appeared too harsh. They kept on changing as they were fused with Roman law which ultimately overshadowed the religious law. Roman law was manmade law in which imaginations and experience played an important role. The other national and International legal systems which developed later and whose definition we have examined before are based on Roman law and are devoid of religious teachings, either of Judaism or Christianity except for a low semblances here and there.

Dawn of Islam

At the dawn of Islam, the world scene changed with the teachings of the Prophet. It is essential here to draw a picture of the condition of the surrounding nations in relation to the city of Makkah and the city state of Madinah established by the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, after the Hijrah, in 622 C.E. This Muslim State had its own legal system, the Shariah, with complete provisions for law and order. The Muslims and non-Muslims were, treated so justly that on many occasions Muslims were punished if they were found guilty in the litigations brought against them by the non-Muslims.

Marmaduke Pickthall, an English Muslim, depicts the condition of the surrounding states who professed Christianity, Judaism or Zoroastrianism in the following words:

“The surrounding nations, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Mesopotamians and the Persians were ninety per cent slaves. And they had always been in that condition. The coming of Christianity to some countries had not improved their status. It was the religion of the rulers and imposed upon the rank and file. Their bodies were still enslaved by the nobles, and their minds still enslaved by the priests. Only the ideal of Christianity, so much of it as leaked through to them, had made the common people dream of freedom in another life. There was luxury among the nobles, and plenty of that kind of culture which is symptomatic not of progress but of corruption and decay. The condition of the multitude was pitiable. The tidings of our Prophet’s embassies to all the neighbouring rulers, inviting them to give up superstitions, abolish priesthood and agree to serve Allah only, and the evil treatment given to his envoys, must have made some noise in all those countries; still more the warlike preparations which were being made for the destruction of the new religion. The multitudes were no doubt warned that Islam was something devilish and that Muslims would destroy them. And then the Muslims swept into the land as conquerors, and by their conduct won the hearts of all those peoples”{5}.

“In the whole history of the world till then, the conquered had been absolutely at the mercy of the conqueror, no matter how complete his submission might be, no matter though he might be of the same religion as the conqueror. That is still the theory of war outside Islam. But it is not the Islamic theory. According to the Muslim Laws of War, those of the conquered people who embraced Islam became the equals of the conquerors in all respects. And those who chose to keep their old religion had to pay a tribute for the cost of their defence, but after that enjoyed full liberty of conscience and were secured and protected in their occupations”{6}.

As time passed, the Jews, Christians and the Zoroastrians abandoned their religious laws, and framed secular legal systems in which the teachings of Islam played an important role. While looking at the manmade law it comes to one’s mind that an essential factor for any legal system to be accepted and effective globally is its unanimous and uniform standard of right and wrong without which verification will become impossible. Once such standard exists then it becomes easier to draw knowledge from that standard. The Shariah has this standard which is unanimously accepted in the entire Muslim world and which provides the criteria of truth and falsehood. This standard is the Quran and the Sunnah which are to be accepted by every Muslim jurist if at all he is a Muslim. When one looks at the definitions of Common Law given by Western scholars like the one propounded by John Austin, it categorically says: “Law is that rule or action which is made by ruler for his subjects.” This pronouncement may hold true in respect of statutory law only but certainly would not cover the personal law and other aspects of law.

The Shariah, on the contrary, is a comprehensive legal system which takes care of all aspects of law, in spite of various schools of Islamic jurisprudence practised in it. The four Sunni Schools of law, the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Shafii and the Hanbali schools as well as the Shia schools are all alike and none of them will transform what is unlawful (Haram) into lawful (Halal) or what is not obligatory into obligatory. The marginal differences would only be found in supererogatory matters. The Shariah not only aims at goodwill and beneficence towards all men but also encourages to develop a worldwide outlook. There is not one standard and one law for the Muslims and another for the outsiders. In the kingdom of Allah there are no favourites. “The sacred law is one for all, and non-Muslims, who conform to it, are more fortunate than professed Muslims who neglect or disobey its precepts. In Islam all men are judged by conduct both in this world and the next”{7}. The other problem which is obvious in the manmade law is the hairsplitting division in the theories of law like Positivism and Idealism. The former concentrates on “what law is” while the latter insists on “what law ought to be.” While studying the words of the champions of the positivism like Austin, Kelsen, Jhering, Jellinek and others one gets the impression that the law is divorced from justice and has been rendered merely an apparatus of compulsion to which no political or ethical value is attached. Another limitation of positivism theorists is its acute characterization of criminal law only while ignoring private litigation and prosecution. This has built an artificial tension within the circle of positivists. The Shariah, on the contrary, is free from this intellectual jargon because it sticks to its standard, the revelation from Allah.

Islam’s Contribution

While reading the preface of Salmond’s Law of Torts, one comes to realise how inhuman and unjust a law was prevalent in Europe in the 18th century of Christian Era. If an accident occurred by a horse drawn cart, the horse, the driver, the cart and the passenger sitting in it were all to be punished. The later introduction of the famous Magna Carta about which English jurists take so much pride was gift of King John to the Barons since he had witnessed a lot of dissatisfaction among them. It was prepared in 1215. While it spoke of the benefits of the Barons, it even failed to mention the common man in the street. The real achievement was to come in the 17th century of the Christian Era when the Declaration of the Rights of Man was introduced during the French Revolution speaking of man’s right to Equality before the law, Right to hold property and Right of Freedom. These rights were not new to the Shariah, Islamic legal system {8}. The Quran, the Sunnah and the Holy Prophet’s famous Farewell Pilgrimage Address (Khutbah Hajjat al-Wida) have spoken of these rights in a very great detail, and which were fully put into practice in the Islamic state of Madinah before 632 C.E., the date of death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It is not merely a conjecture nor a bright idea to please the Muslim world of today, but it is a fact of history that Muslims had come up to France, Gibralter (Jabal al-Tariq), and had established their long drawn rule in Spain (Andlus) and later in Malta ruled by the Aghlabides. Long before the French Revolution, Granada (Gharnata) and Cordova (Qaratbah) had become famous as great seats of Islamic learning. The writings of the Maimonide schools established by the Jewish scholar Musa bin Maimun, who was tutored by Muslim scholars, bears a stamp of Islamic thought and culture. Likewise, Islamic Philosophy, Law and Science made a great impact on Europe through great Spanish Muslim scholars’ writings {9}. Guillaume, a Jewish scholar, often attacking Islam, has still to say the following about the contribution of Islamic scholarship on European thought:

“Scholars from the, West visited Spain to learn Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy and Medicine. The oldest European Universities owe an enormous debt to those scholars who returned from Spain bringing with them the knowledge they had gained at the Arab Universities of that country” {10}.

A lot has been written about Islamic contribution to the development of the social philosophy of 18th century Europe. Here we are specifically concerned about the contribution of Shariah to the development of the modern European legal system. Going through the Muwatta of Imam Malik bin Anas, the founder of the Maliki school of Islamic Jurisprudence and then comparing it with the modern French Law, one comes across striking similarities in most of its provisions. It should be remembered that Imam Malik’s Muwatta is not only a book of Jurisprudence but it is one of the most authentic collections of the Ahadith of the Noble Prophet. Whatever the legal issues are discussed by Imam Malik in Muwatta are based on the Ahadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Thus, the influence on the French Law is not only that of Muwatta of Imam Malik but that of the Hadith, the second most important source of Shariah. How did this influence of Muwatta come on the French Law? There are two sources, one, the predecessors of the modern French jurists learnt jurisprudence in Spain where, during the Muslim rule, the Maliki system of Islamic jurisprudence and law was practised and the Muwatta of Imam Malik was read with the highest esteem by the jurists, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Two, Napoleon Bonaparte, during his conquest of Egypt especially read Muwatta of Imam Malik among other Islamic literature {11}. The code Napoleon which came to be compiled later bears a great deal of resemblance with the Shariah Law.

When one engages in tracing and clearly delineating the role that religion has played during successive epochs of the cultural life of the European people, it becomes quite evident that Reformation was initiated as a revolt against the universal authority of the anachronistic Catholic Church. It was launched purposely to purify the church of all evil practices. Later on, it assumed the form of rebellion against everything which claimed to put any restrictions on man’s activities. Man was encouraged to apply the critical power of reason without theological predications and restraint to all his thoughts, beliefs and institutions, and to reject everything which came into conflict with his materialistic view of life and universe. The real contribution in bringing about positive attitude towards life rather than living under the burden of corrupt monasticism was brought about through the teachings and preachings of Martin Luther {12}. Martin Luther rebelled against the evils of the Catholic Church as a result of his deep study of Islam and Muslims living in neighbouring countries. It is a well-known fact, that Martin Luther read constantly Islamic History and was a good scholar of Arabic language” {13}.

As John William Draper has rightly observed, “the Muslims overran the dominions of Science (all branches of scientific studies) as quickly as they overran the realms of their neighbours” {14}.

The focus of Muslim scholars’ scientific studies was only one: “The ardent desire to gain a deeper understanding of the world as created by Allah; an acceptance of the physical universe as not inferior to the spiritual but covalid with it”{15}. Thus, in Islam, Religion, Philosophy, Law and Science did not go their separate way; in fact, Islam provided one of the main incentives for these studies. Justice was hence not to be meted out to individuals and societies alone, but it was to be done to reform one’s very thought pattern also. Apart from the application of all branches of law with equity and justice in the Muslim state it was essential that justice was to be done in respect of Muslims’ dealings with non-Muslims, non-Muslim states, non-Muslim neighbours and so on and so forth. Following this line of thought, a number of books were written by Muslim scholars. The masterpiece on this subject was Imam Muhammad bin al-Hasan al-Shaibani’s famous work Siyar al-Kabir which was further embellished by its first commentary named Sharh al Siyar al-Kabir written by Al-Sarakhshi {16}.

When compared, the work of these great Muslim jurists with the works of Grotius on International Law, written in the 17th century, and claimed to be the first book on this subject, and the famous Oppenheim’s International Law, one discovers that the works of Imam Shaibani and its commentary by Sarakhshi are far more comprehensive although the latter were written as early as in the 11th century of the Christian Era. On the subject of the conflict of Laws {I7}, Ibn Qayyum’s work Ahkam ahl al-Dhimmah has no parallel till today. One can quote many other works on Islamic law written by great Muslim scholars which have influenced the Western legal systems but it is beyond the scope or this paper.

1. The Qur’an, 21:107.
2. Smith, Huston, The Religions of Man, p. 301.
3. Al-Shafii, Muhammad Idris, Risalah Translated by Majid Khadduri, Baltimore 1961.
4. Wright (Lord), Interpretation of Modern Legal Philosophies, p. 794.
5. Pickthall, Marmaduke, Cultural Sides of Islam, Lahore 1976 p. 25.
6. Pickthall, Marmaduke, Cultural Sides of Islam, Lahore 1976 p. 26.
7. Ibid., p. 23.
8. For a detailed study on these rights under Shariah, see Doi, A. R. I., Non-Muslims under Shariah, Maryland 1979.
9. For further details, see Averroes et Averroism.
10. Guillaume, A., Islam, p. 85.
11. Ch. Abdullah, Al-Muqaranat al-Tashri’yyah 4 vols. Cairo (undated).
12. Ch. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethics and the spirit of Capitalism, Translated from German by Talcott Parsons.
13. Gilani, Riazul Hassan, The Reconstruction of Legal Thought in Islam, Lahore 1977, p. 5.
14. Draper, J. W., The latellectual Development of Europe, London 1875, vol. 1, p. 335.
15. London, Room, Islam and the Arabs, London 1958, pp. 165-166.
16. Al-Sarakhshi, Abubakr Muhammad, Shark Siyar al-Kabir, 4 vols.
17. For further details cf. Doi, A.R Non-Muslims under Shariah, Maryland 1979.

Shariah and the Common Law – II by Dr. Abdul Rahman I. Doi [The Light, p. 11-14, October 8, 1983 – pdf download]

In Religion of Islam, p.263-587, Muhammad Ali elaborates on the Laws and Regulation of Islam, under major headings of Prayer, Zakat or Charity, Saum or Fasting, Hajj or Pilgrimage, Jihad, Marriage, Acquisition and Disposal of Property, Inheritance, Debts, Food, Drinks, Hygiene, Penal Laws, The State, Ethics.

References:

{curly braces, enclose the footnote reference. Use of “?” is a best guess location of footnote that is missing in the original referenced material}

The Future of the Global Muslim Population – Pew Research
Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism – Pew Research
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – The United Nations
Declaration of Independence – United States
Occupy Wall Street – Wikipedia
The True Story of Sharia in American Courts by Abed Awad, The Nation
Shariah and the Common Law – I by Dr. Abdul Rahman I. Doi, The Light, September 24, 1983 – pdf download]
Shariah and the Common Law – II by Dr. Abdul Rahman I. Doi, The Light, October 8, 1983 – pdf download]
Religion of Islam by Muhammad Ali
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

Nine or Ten Commandments of Moses

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Submitted by Ikram


While perusing the web site http://www.abdulhaq.info/ dedicated to late Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi sahib I came across an article by him – “70 or 72 followers of Jesus in Gospels?” He wrote it in 1964 as a reply to an accusation by a Christian missionary against HMGA. The missionary wanted to prove HMGA wrong as the latter had mentioned 72 disciples of Jesus (PBUH) in his writings, instead of 70 as claimed by the former based upon his bible sources. Vidyarthi sahib on the premise alone that Imam of age cannot be wrong, sought original Greek Bible and proved that 72 was the original number and the translated versions, the sources of the missionary were wrong. An interesting read that brings to forth the truthfulness of Divine sourced HMGA and the conviction of one of his humble follower who believed in the ilham of the Imam – “We shall not leave behind you anything which can humiliate you

With the above in mind, in Quran we come across 9 commandments not 10 as commonly believed. The pertinent verses below are bracketed by other verses with reference to Jews and Moses. Therefore, can we say Moses was given 9 commandments, provided the verses below refer to him to begin with?

6:151. Say: Come! I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you: [1] Set up no partner with Him, [2] and do good to parents, [3] nor kill your children for (fear of) poverty — We provide for you and for them, [4] nor go near to indecencies, open or secret, [5] nor kill the soul which Allah has made sacred except in the course of justice. This He enjoins upon you that you may understand.

6:152. [6] And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner, until he attains his maturity. [7] And give full measure and weight with equity — We do not impose on any soul a duty beyond its ability. [8] And when you speak, be just, even (against) a relative. [9] And fulfill Allah’s covenant. This He enjoins on you that you may be mindful;

6:153. and (know) that this is My path, the right one, so follow it, and do not follow (other) ways, for they will lead you away from His way. This He enjoins on you that you may keep your duty.

It seems that after the initial moral priming of the followers of Moses with the above 9 commandments, full Torah was subsequently given to Moses:

6:154. Again, We gave the Book to Moses to complete (Our blessings) on him who would do good, and making plain all things and a guidance and a mercy, so that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord.

The above is just an academic exercise, as the Message irrespective of being given to Prophet Moses or Prophet Muhammad, it is the same Islam.


Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources]
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

Issue 77

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Issue 77 [@1:18:45]: Video – with a title displayed – “New York City 2002”
[peaceful neighborhood demonstration by about 100-150 participants of various ages and ethnicities, men, women and children, chanting and displaying placards, during winter as is obvious by the snow on the sidewalks and participants wearing warm clothes]
[placard –] Media be Responsible
[placard –] Masjid Al-Salam means Mosque of Peace
[rhyming repeating chants –] There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his Messenger
[placard –] We shall not tolerate prejudice
[placard –] Islam is not terrorism
[rhyming chants –] La ilaha ill-Allah – Jihad il fi sabeel ill-Allah…(some non-decipherable references to Quran)
[rhyming chants –] There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his Messenger….(some undecipherable references) Neigh Muslim everywhere…(women and children faces in the crowd) La ilahaAllah-o-Akbar…(adult faces with repeated chants) Takbeer…Allah-o-Akbar…

Rebuttal 77: This is a tacit placement of a video clip in the build up by the documentary to subliminally put a human face on its targeted rancor and for the mostly Western audience to identify the ‘ethnicity’ of the Muslims amongst them. This is tantamount to putting Star of David on Jews under Hitler. Its intended implications are far beyond a casual reference to Islam. It is a venomous effort to seed hate amongst the Western audience against common citizen passerby on the street who is ‘foreign’ looking. It is another classical case of Nazism that not only identifies the Jews amongst them, but also has the intention to target them – “Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people… Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea.” Adolf Hitler wrote these words in his book Mein Kampf (1926), in which he first advocated the use of propaganda to spread the ideals of National Socialism — among them racism, antisemitism, and anti-Bolshevism [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]. Like Hitler, this documentary too is an effort to vilify Muslims in an attempt for public acceptance of the malice of this production. This documentary in its hate seems to have taken a leaf out of Nazi book which is summarized in Wikipedia under “Themes of Nazi Propaganda.” In order to cover up its clever agenda, the documentary itself uses ‘foreign’ experts of its own, who obviously are more loyal than the king. Their efforts are clearly an effort to please their funding sources, most of which have been identified to ultimately originate from Zionism.

If we play this short video clip on mute, we will only see the following placards written with:

* Media be Responsible
* Masjid Al-Salam means Mosque of Peace
* We shall not tolerate prejudice
* Islam is not terrorism

What is quite obvious by the demonstration is that Muslims are protesting against ‘Islamophobia‘, an old term in the West, pervasive before the Crusades, now with a new name given to it after 9/11, which is just another garb for racism, succinctly outlined in the published report of Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia:

Racism is not in the minds of black people, nor is Islamophobia in the minds of Muslims, nor antisemitism in the minds of Jews. Racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism are in the minds of white people, non-Muslims and non-Jews, and in the institutions, organisations and cultures that they mould and lead. [Islamophobia – issues, challenges and action, p. viii, pdf link]

This ‘neo-racism’ that reeks hate under its pseudo-intellectual camouflage in the current documentary is aptly summarized as:

‘It’s mindblowing, because nobody seems to mind. Islamophobia is a societal thing and it’s as though people aren’t aware how bad things are. Muslims are an easy target because we are visibly different. And people always need some focus for their hatred.’ [Islamophobia – issues, challenges and action, p. 4, pdf link]

Since the current issue is the climactic moment of Islamophobia, the main purpose of the documentary, it begets to understand the role of media in perpetrating this prejudice. This is pertinently explored in the research thesis “Islamophobia and the media : the portrayal of Islam since 9/11 and an analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy in South Africa” – Asmal, F., Thesis (MPhil (Journalism)) – University of Stellenbosch, 2008 [download the pdf at bottom of this link].

The seething falsehood of Spencer et al. would carry no punch unless they are provided a platform by the media. Besides, various broadcast outlets, cable channels, websites (JihadWatch.org etc.) this documentary itself is a prime example of role of media in creating and spreading prejudice, bias, hate, bigotry, intolerance, half-truths and plain simple Xenophobia. The above thesis is based upon this very hypothesis that is confirmed by its conclusion. Following is an excerpt from its pages 4-8 that dissect the underpinnings of such manipulation by the media:

1.3. HYPOTHESIS

It is this researcher’s hypothesis that the media is mainly responsible for propagating Islamophobia. If one were to view this according to the theories of the press, no one, single theory would apply. Instead one could describe it as an application of a matrix of theories. A brief discussion of some of these theories follows:

1.3.1. Marxist Theory:

Before proceeding further, one needs to define the meaning of political economy. According to Fourie (2001: 121) the political economy is an umbrella term for all those theories and analytical approaches which have the purpose of understanding how economic and political relationships, interests and affiliations determine the functioning of social institutions (including the media as a social institution), and the impact or lack of impact of these relationships on social transformation and development. In terms of Marxist theory, it is believed that all means of production, including media production, determines the nature of a society and that the economy is the base of all social structures, including institutions and ideas (Fourie. 2001: 122).

According to this theory, the working class is oppressed by those individuals and groups in society who own the means of production and whose sole purpose is to make a profit. In addition, Fourie writes that the economic and political control of the media determines the content and thus the ideological power of the media.

“By ideological power we mean the power (and means) to form, direct and influence the thinking of people. This power is mainly vested in those who own the media and who have the financial means to own and manage the media” (Fourie. 2001: 122).”

The global media trend seems to be one that is dominated by political agendas as well as profit- making. This follows in the footsteps of trends set by First World Western countries where profit motives direct the business, where the media is controlled by a small group of entrepreneurs whose primary, focus lies in generating capital. It seems that internationally, the media is mainly controlled by a small, elite capitalist group, who can exercise the right to control issues relating to content, propaganda, agenda-setting, etc. This was precisely what happened when the events of 9/11 occurred (Lewis. 2005).

The small, elite capitalist groups worldwide exercised their power in carefully selecting the footage and information they wanted the masses to consume (Lewis. 2005). According to Fourie (2001: 123), the concept of power is central to the critical political economy. Thompson (as cited in Fourie. 2001: 123) distinguishes between four types of power: economic, political, coercive and symbolic. The latter, i.e. symbolic power, is the real and potential power vested in all cultural institutions such as the church, educational institutions and the media. These institutions possess the power to influence people’s thinking and behaviour. They produce symbolic forms of expressions that guide people to understand and think about the world in certain ways. According to Fourie (2001: 136) the underlying assumption that is made in terms of Marxist capitalist theory, is that economic ownership leads to the control of content that promotes the interest of the ruling class at the expense of the masses. However, Functionalist theorists tend to disagree.

1.3.2. Functionalist Theory:

Functionalism views society as an integrated, harmonious, cohesive whole in which all parts (for example, institutions such as the school, the church, economic, political and cultural institutions) function to maintain equilibrium, consensus and social order (Fourie. 2001: 240). Furthermore, society can be viewed and analysed similar to a human body consisting of different organs all functioning together. Should one of these organs become sick/dysfunctional, it affects the whole body. Functionalism sees the media as one of the instruments in society, that should contribute to the harmonious and cohesive functioning of society (Fourie. 2001: 240).

The media can generally be held responsible for social attitudes. According to Fourie (2001: 265), the media can be viewed as a powerful instrument of socialisation whether it is through education, information or entertainment. The media holds society together in all spheres, whether social, economic, political or technological. In Fourie’s view, the media’s responsibility to society, is in providing information that the public has a right to know (2001: 265). As part of functionalist theories, the media has a role in contributing towards the development of society, as an agent of social change. Functionalists also believe that the public have a role to participate in the media in the form of opinion. In terms of functionalism, the media plays a somewhat authoritarian role in propagating the State’s interests to the public. Also, functionalists believe that the public is capable of formulating its own opinion about issues. Overall, the media is the glue that allows society to function in a systematic manner, creating a social order of sorts.

In terms of the Western media’s coverage of Islam or issues events relating to Islam, especially in terms of 9/11 and the cartoon controversy, it scents that the American media perpetuated its government’s stance. Even though the public was allowed to participate in responding to the events, the media still shaped societies’ opinions on Islam. This will be explored in Chapter Three.

1.3.3. Critical Media Theory

In terms of critical theory, the media are seen to be the most pervasive ideological agent in late twentieth and early twenty-first century society. This is according to Fourie (2001: 241) who adds that there is hardly a person who does not come into contact with media of one kind or another and the ideas and values they convey, be it newspapers, radio, television, advertisements, popular music or the internet. Fourie writes that the possible ideological implications of that media is what gave rise to critical media theory.

“Mass society theories were formulated at the turn of the twentieth century as a critical reaction to the rise of technology that in turn gave rise to industrialisation. urbanisation and what is referred to as the ‘mass man’ and ‘mass society’. Radio, film and the press of the day, and after the Second World War, television, were seen by critics on both sides of the political spectrum as products of technology used by a minority to manipulate the majority” (Fourie. 2001: 242)

This theory is brought forth in Chapters Two and Three, where it is described how society relies on some form of media, whether it is print, broadcast or the Internet, as a source of information and formulation of opinion on a particular subject.

Underlying assumptions of this theory include:

– Seeing the media as forms of symbolic expression, i.e. the communicator expresses his, her values, beliefs and attitudes on a particular topic/subject, thereby assigning a meaning to reality.
– The recipient understands and interprets the message fit her own manner, the meaning that he/she attaches to it being a result of the confrontation between the viewer and what he/she views on screen, hears on the radio or sees in the newspaper.
– Critical theory stresses the circumstances of the communicator. It is also concerned with how the ideologies of media owners influence content that is produced in the media. The theory also argues that the media mainly support the interests (political. economic and social) of one group at the cost of another group. (Fourie. 2001: 246)

1.3.4. Pluralist Theory:

Pluralism refers to the variety of media in a democracy.

“The underlying premise in pluralist media theory is that in view of the variety of media (various newspapers, television station, radio stations, films, videos, publishers, advertising agencies. all looking at reality from different perspectives) it is impossible to make one-sided and limited claims about the way the media function” (Fourie. 2001: 248).

According to Fourie (2001) pluralists argue that if one newspaper or television station adopts a particular ideological perspective, another newspaper or television station is free to propagate an opposing ideology. He adds that media users are free to be selective about their exposure to the media and the ideologies propagated.

In terms of coverage of 9/11 and the cartoon controversy, although media users were free to choose the type of media they were exposed to, they were limited in the sense that the news that was disseminated originated from one country. i.e. the USA, a hegemonic force in the international news arena. This will be discussed in Chapters Two and Three.

In order to understand how the various theories apply to the topic of this paper, one needs some historical background on key concepts which will be discussed after the methodology.

Those readers living in the West, who have reached this far in the current Project Rebuttal will be able to see the definitions and implications of Islamophobia unfold before them from this documentary that come to the fore in the said thesis (p. 12-15):

1.6. DEFINING ISLAMOPHOBIA

Simplistically, Islamophobia can be defined as the fear of the religion of Islam, or a fear of Islam’s followers who are referred to as Muslims (Islamophobia: a definition: 2004). However, one needs to delve beyond this definition in order to understand the term better.

According to a publication by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia entitled Islamophobia: Issues, challenges and action (Richardson, 2004: 7) manifestations of anti-Muslim hostility include:

– Verbal and physical attacks on Muslims in public places
– Attacks on mosques and desecration of Muslim cemeteries
– Widespread and routine negative stereotypes in the media, including the broadsheets, and in the conversations and “common sense” of non-Muslims – people talk and write about Muslims in ways that would not be acceptable if the reference were to Jewish people, for example, or to black people
– Negative stereotypes and remarks in speeches by political leaders, implying that Muslims in Britain are less committed than others to democracy and the rule of law – for example the claim that Muslims more than others mast choose between “the British way” and the “terrorist way”
– Discrimination in recruitment and employment practices, and in workplace cultures and customs
– Bureaucratic delay and inertia in responding to Muslim requests for cultural sensitivity in education and healthcare and in planning applications for mosques
– Lack of attention to the fact that Muslims in Britain are disproportionately affected by poverty and social exclusion
– Non-recognition of Muslims in particular, and of religion in general, by the law of the land, since discrimination in employment on grounds of religion has until recently been lawful and discrimination in the provision of services is still lawful
– Anomalies in public order legislation, such that Muslims are less protected against incitement to hatred than members of certain other religions
– Laws curtailing civil liberties that disproportionately affect Muslims (Richardson. 2004: 7)

Islamophobia also means that (Islamophobia: a definition: 2004):

– Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change
– Islam is seen as separate and “other”. It does not have values in common with other cultures, it is not affected by them, and it does not influence them
– Islam is seen as inferior to the West. It is seen as barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist
– Islam is seen as violent, aggressive and threatening supportive of terrorism and engaged in a “clash of ‘civilisations’
– Islam is seen as a political ideology and is used for political or military advantage
– Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand
– Hostility towards Muslims is used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims and exclusion of Muslims from mainstream society
– Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal (Islamophobia: a definition: 2004).

The report, Islamophobia: issues, challenges and action (Richardson. 2004: 7) states that Islamophobia is a new word for an old fear, which has been recorded and can historically be traced back to eighth century European societies.

This antagonistic historical relationship between Islam and Western societies will be briefly analysed in the next section of this paper.

Since the last century, more specifically after 1960, Islam posed a threat to the world in other ways, including the economic leverage it held on the world stage of oil-rich countries, many of which were Muslim in their culture and traditions (Richardson. 2004). The West also became afraid of the emergence of political movements claiming to be motivated by Islam and that used terrorist tactics to achieve their aims (Richardson. 2004). The abuse of human rights by repressive regimes that claimed to be motivated and justified by Muslim beliefs was an additional reason to the animosity that existed between Islam and the West (Richardson. 2004: 7).

Henzell-Thomas (2004) identified the following problems which were created by Islamophobia:

– Prejudice, fuelled by unbalanced media representation in the following areas: the association of Islam and Muslims in general, explicitly or implicitly, with fundamentalism, terrorism and intolerance
– The use of biased language to stigmatise Islam and Muslims
– The reduction of the richness of Islamic tradition to a few simplistic clichés around controversial issues which tend to stigmatise Islam as “backward’ or oppressive – e.g. hijab, jihad, ritual slaughter, etc
– The misleading association of Islam with specific cultural identities and practices. especially Asian and African, e.g. female circumcision, forced marriage, honour killings
– Blatant and unchecked dehumanisation of Muslims, including abuse and incitement.

Sajid (2005: 9) further defines Islamophobia as follows:

“Islamophobia is the fear and or hatred of Islam. Muslims or Islamic culture. Islamophobia can be characterised by the belief that all or most Muslims are religious fanatics, have violent tendencies towards non-Muslims. and reject as directly opposed to Islam such concepts as equality, tolerance and democracy. Islamophobia is a new form of racism whereby Muslims, an ethno-religious group, not a race, are nevertheless, constructed as a race. A set of negative assumptions are made of the entire group to the detriment of members of that group. During the 1990s many sociologists and cultural analysts observed a shift in racist ideas from one based on skin colour to one based on notions of cultural superiority and otherness.”

According to Sajid (2005: 9), Islamophobia derives from Xenophobia and is concerned with culturalism and identity politics. It initially referred to inhumane conditions suffered by Muslim immigrants to the West, but has recently broadened in reference to ostracism suffered by Muslims globally.

There is a natural and inadvertent blow-back from the acts of Islamophobes whether in this movie or any other forum, they unknowingly foster unity amongst the mega-majority of peaceful Muslims, which in a comedy of errors is farthest from the initial intention of the documentary:

‘In a strange way, Islamophobia is bringing us together. Muslims have no common language and come from many cultures with their own traditions that have nothing to do with Islam. They will stand side by side in the mosque, but there are divisions. But now we are the common enemy and that is fostering relationships. The Pakistani, the Nigerian, the black convert from Jamaica – we are starting to see each other as brothers.’ [Islamophobia – issues, challenges and action, p. 4, pdf link]

Let’s revisit the placards in light of the Quran. The capitalized comments in verses below are from Issue 71 in context of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations :

* “Media be Responsible” – and by implication refrain from any rumor mongering and falsehood.

6:152. …And when you speak, be just…

6:6. O you who believe, if an unrighteous person brings you news,look carefully into it, in case you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you did.

24:15-16. When you received it on your tongues and spoke with your mouths what you had no knowledge of, and you considered it trivial, while with Allah it was serious. And why did you not, when you heard it, say: It is not worthy of us to talk of it. Glory be to You! This is a great slander.

* “Masjid Al-Salam means Mosque of Peace” – and so is the very purpose of every place of worship of all religions in Quran.

22:39-40. Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is Able to assist them — Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others [so that people can profess and practice their faith in freedom], surely cloisters and churches and synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered, would have been pulled down.

5:2: …And do not let hatred of a people — because they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque [i.e. place of worship] — incite you to transgress [and become a source of DISCRIMINATION]. And help one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression, and keep your duty to Allah. Surely Allah is Severe in retribution [– thus conclusively in Islam ALL ARE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW AND ARE ENTITLED WITHOUT ANY DISCRIMINATION TO EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW. ALL ARE ENTITLED TO EQUAL PROTECTION AGAINST ANY DISCRIMINATION IN VIOLATION OF THIS DECLARATION AND AGAINST ANY INCITEMENT TO SUCH DISCRIMINATION ].

* “We shall not tolerate prejudice” – because Quran forbids it:

30:22. And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours. Surely there are signs in this for the learned.

49:13. O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you [and not by mere association with certain RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS]. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.

3:103. And hold fast by the covenant of Allah [i.e. Quran] all together and do not be disunited. And remember Allah’s favour to you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren [WITHOUT DISTINCTION OF ANY KIND, SUCH AS RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS.]. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire [of mutual hate, enmity and wars], then He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes clear to you His messages that you may be guided.

49:11-12. O you who believe, do not let a people laugh at (another) people [i.e. mock, ridicule or DISCRIMINATE on basis of RACE, COLOUR, SEX, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, POLITICAL OR OTHER OPINION, NATIONAL OR SOCIAL ORIGIN, PROPERTY, BIRTH OR OTHER STATUS], perhaps they may be better than they; nor let women (laugh) at women, perhaps they may be better than they. Neither find fault with one another, nor call one another by (offensive) nick-names. Evil is a bad name after faith; and whoever does not repent, these it is that are the wrongdoers. O you who believe, avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is sin; and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor it! And keep your duty to Allah, surely Allah is returning (to mercy) again and again, Merciful.

* “Islam is not terrorism” – because preservation of life is one of the core articles of faith in Islam:

5:8. O you who believe, be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice; and do not let hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably. Be just; that is nearer to observance of duty. And keep your duty to Allah. Surely Allah is Aware of what you do.

5:29. O you who believe, do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means except that it be trading by your mutual consent. And do not kill your people [or yourselves by suicide].

17:31. And do not kill your children [by infanticide or keeping them ignorant by not providing them education, because EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON] for fear of poverty — We provide for them and for you. Surely the killing of them is a great wrong.

17:33. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause [because EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON]. And whoever is killed unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority — but let him not exceed the limit [of the Law] in [committing extra-Judicial revenge] killing. Surely he will be helped [by the due process of the Law].

81:8-9. and when the one buried alive [as a child] is asked for what sin she was killed [while her RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON was trampled at the altar of false societal prejudices],

5:32. …whoever kills a person, unless it is for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind [because EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON]. And certainly Our messengers came to them with clear arguments, but even after that many of them commit excesses in the land.

6:151-153. Say: Come! I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you: Set up no partner with Him, and do good to parents, nor kill your children for (fear of) poverty — We provide for you and for them, nor go near to indecencies, open or secret, nor kill the soul which Allah has made sacred except in the course of justice. This He enjoins upon you that you may understand. And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner [with the object of improving it or making it profitable], until he attains his maturity. And give full measure and weight with equity — We do not impose on any soul a duty beyond its ability. And when you speak, be just, even (against) a relative. And fulfil Allah’s covenant. This He enjoins on you that you may be mindful; and (know) that this is My path, the right one, so follow it, and do not follow (other) ways, for they will lead you away from His way. This He enjoins on you that you may keep your duty.

16:90-91. Surely Allah commands (the doing of) justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the near of kin, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion. He instructs you that you may be mindful. And fulfil the covenant of Allah, when you have made a covenant, and do not break (your) oaths after making them firm, and you have indeed made Allah your surety. Surely Allah knows what you do.

2:83. …And do good to (your) parents,and to the near of kin and to orphans and the needy, and speak good (words) [i.e. do kind dealings] to (all) people…

28:77. And seek the abode of the Hereafter by means of what Allah has given you, and do not neglect your portion of the world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land. Surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

References:
Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources]

Nazi Propaganda – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Themes of Nazi Propaganda – Wikipedia
“Islamophobia – issues, challenges and action” [pdf] – Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia
Islamophobia and the media : the portrayal of Islam since 9/11 and an analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy in South Africa – Asmal, F. (recommended)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – United Nations
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Zahid Aziz

Ibn Al-Haytham: “The first true scientist”

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

In connection with their series History of the World by Andrew Marr, the BBC asked for “suggestions for often overlooked moments in world history”, and published the top 10 suggestions.

See this link.

The suggestion ranking number 3 is “3. Alhazen and his work on optics”. He is described as the first true scientist because he seems to have been the first to use the scientific method. I quote:

Ibn al-Haytham was born in about 965 in what is now Iraq, and is regarded by some by some as the real father of the scientific method, predating Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes in the 17th Century.

Al-Haytham was the first to disprove the theory that we see objects by rays of light emitted from our eyes, realising instead that we see because light enters our eyes.

No other scientist before him had used maths to prove this process, says Prof Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey.

“When the great scientific revolution took place in Europe, science had advanced so much that people forgot it was built on previous knowledge.”

Al-Haytham was part of the golden age of Arabic science, and while Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages, he filled the gap, says Al-Khalili.

The above item also refers to an article entitled The First True Scientist.

I looked up more information about him and found two interesting in scientific journals about the use of his discoveries even now:

Ibn al-Haytham and the origins of computerized image analysis (Conference paper in 2007 at the International Conference on Computer Engineering & Systems; website of ieee.org)

The remarkable Ibn al-Haytham (The Mathematical Gazatte, March 1992).

(Note: If you have problems reaching these links, please let me know.)

In the first paper above, it is stated in the abstract (bolding is mine):

“Haytham made intellectual contributions that subsequently were incorporated throughout the core of post-Medieval Western culture. His seminal work on the human vision system initiated an unbroken chain of continuous development that connects 21st century optical scientists with the 11th century Ibn al-Haytham. The noted science historian, David Lindberg, wrote that “Alhazen was undoubtedly the most significant figure in the history of optics between antiquity and the seventeenth century.” Impressive and accurate as that characterization is, it significantly understates the impact that al-Haytham had on areas as wide-ranging as the theology, literature, art, and science of Europe.”

 

I wonder how many Muslims, let alone non-Muslims, had heard of him.