21 October 2011

Qaddafi's executioners break the Third Commandment

There is no doubt that Qaddafi was a dictator and a ruthless human being. However, as I watched the video of his death I thought of the Third Commandment, revealed to the Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, at Mount Sinai:
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
The Ten Commandments also show how Allah guided mankind in small albeit profound steps.

Qaddafi's executioners dropped on him in a blood-thirsty mob chanting Allahu Akbar (God is Great). The cruelty of the scene is beyond words, not simply in the act itself but also in the signal that moral progression of the nation would not come easily as those who aim to stand in Qaddafi's stead have shown themselves to be opposed to tribunal justice, and subscribe to naked violence, much like the dictators they shun. Their racist violence against black members of their continent in the so-called Libyan revolution has been well recorded. They considers themselves Arabs, true Muslims, haughty in their tribal disregard for Allah's family. Thus one dictator follows another, cruelty continues, the strongest, the hyper-masculine victimise and brutalise without pondering Allah, they use His name as a slogan, squeezed tight in their rage.

At Asr I sat down to read the Qur'an to assuage and get an answer for why things were as they were, why were these Muslims behaving contrary to Islam, what were we to do, and then it came -- in fact it says all over the Qur'an -- for indeed the Book endears itself not to Muslims but "believers who do righteous deeds". And in the faces of many Muslims all around the worlds there is light, for it has to be if they help the poor and infirm, take care of their parents, be kind and encourage and be full of love toward their husbands and wives, and struggle for social justice for everyone and be good to Allah's creation. That is proof that they have understood His message.

01 June 2011


An extract from Yahya Emerick's article The Confusion of the Scholars:

So where does the stupidness come in? There are several areas to look at and the first is on the issue of who is a "Scholar" or "Shaykh?" Allah is very harsh against the Jews and the Christians for considering their priests and rabbis as people who could make religious judgments without consulting Allah's revelations. The priests made the eating of pork allowed for Christians, with no authority from Allah or from Prophet Jesus, while the rabbis made laws such as a woman could not be in the house during her period and that milk and meat could not be eaten together. In this respect, the people "worshipped" their leaders besides Allah.

Sadly, this is exactly what Muslims have done for the last thousand years. In the early days of Islam, no one went around with ostentatious titles, as if they were somehow set apart from the rest of the people. Everyone was usually addressed as brother or sister. No one earned overly glorified titles, either, just because they studied with a Sahabi. The only real special term that I have ever come across which was frequently used by the Prophet to describe others is 'Alim (learned person). And this term was never used in the sense of a "priest" or Holy man. It was just that: a person who is learned.

In Madina, everyone was "learned" to one extent or another. The trader knew how to practice Islam, the housewife knew how to practice Islam and the traveler knew it too. If someone needed to ask a question about Islam that they didn't know, they would go to a friend or neighbor. For really detailed questions, they might consult someone who was known to be a teacher. But they wouldn't fawn all over the teacher nor would the teacher dress or act in such a way as to set him or herself apart from the rest of the believers.

Centuries passed and a funny thing happened. The Islamic world spread in so many different directions and millions of people were becoming Muslims. The common knowledge of Islam was not so common anymore. If a Muslim teacher went to any area where Islamic knowledge was scarce, suddenly, everyone was wanting to be around him. The teacher became special. (Think of Sufi-style Shaykh worship for example.) Fast forward many more centuries. There are millions of Muslims, but few know much about Islam. Teachers have become "holy" men and have such titles as "Shaykh" or "Maulana". They are a special class, or caste, of people who are sought after and revered by people who want to see their "god" in the flesh because the concept of an unseen Creator is too intellectual for most. (Hence, Muslim "Saints!")

So what of the world today? Any person who learns a few dozen ahadith and one or two ajza is calling himself a scholar and making pronouncements about Islam to his flock who knows little. I have met people who knew little about Islam calling themselves Imam, or Shaykh or whatever. Who made them Imam? Who promoted them to the role of a guardian of the Deen? Was it their ignorant followers? Was it by virtue of the fact that they attended some madrasa in another culture? Is it because they're rich? Who knows? All I know is that a real scholar doesn't call himself by a title. He doesn't need it. A real knower of Islam realizes he knows so little and is humble. A title makes him feel uncomfortable. That is a real Muslim leader. But what we have mostly is a clergy class. (Think of that hadith about the Day of Judgment where the pretentious scholar is thrown in Hell.)

And what do the self-appointed scholars say? The stupidity is amazing! These are all actual Fatwas One scholar will say that chewing gum does not break the fast. Another says that using a fork is haram. A third says that eating McDonald's meat is okay while a fourth says of it, no way. One scholar says human cloning is halal, while another says it's haram. One local scholar in New York says the Sunnah is not important and that most ahadith are fabricated. One in Egypt says that wife-beating is okay if the wife doesn't make an effort to look pretty while another says that mortgages are allowed under duress. (Have you ever heard the Fatwa that living in America is haram? It's there.) Each one of these scholars backs up their arguments with Qur'an and hadith, in a usually twisted way, and then says anyone who does otherwise is a kafir.

25 May 2011

"Beauty" is Irrelevant in Theology

Some Muslims place a great emphasis on what they consider to be "beauty". Beauty, of course, is a subjective marker and there's nothing wrong with it. How we treat others is an entirely different matter. It is with grace that the world began and it is with grace that we must move. The fondness of relaying how physically beautiful the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was is entirely irrelevant. The claim that he was the most handsome man is an unnecessary slogan of cultural realisation than anything touching the message of the Qur'an or the pious, humble way of the prophet.
When the ambassadors of Bani Amir went to Muhammad, they said, "You are our master." He said, "God is your master." Then they said, "You are most excellent of the highest degree." And when he heard this he said, "Say so, or less, and do not exceed reasonable bounds in praise."
In many ways it signals the poverty of theological discussions. To follow anyone based on his/her appearance or eloquence bears no weight upon truth. While there could be a genuine historical need to draw up the physical characteristics of individuals from the past to situate them more firmly within the narrative, anything outside it seems to be to be of no use at all.

In all honesty we do not know what prophets and their disciples looked like other than scant written descriptions. Given present-day celebrity obsessed media culture, it is not a bad thing. In a nutshell, it does not matter.

A moral of the story of the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) is not that he was "beautiful", though some prevalent gossip totally obscures the moral with elaborations on his "beauty", but the power of Divine guidance and his will to resist the power of seduction. It was his grace that was beautiful, the preservation of his "beauty" through the strength of his will which drew upon Divine grace.

When people say this or that person is beautiful, it implies something purely physical and in relation to others. Yet true beauty is not referential. It does not deny others equal worth and is not oppressive. This is but one pearl of wisdom from Muslim theology that explores this issue:
Muhammad said, "That person will not enter Paradise who hath one atom of pride in his heart." And a man present said, "Verily, a man is fond of having good clothes, and good shoes." Muhammad said, "God is Beautiful and delighteth in the beautiful; but pride is holding man in contempt."
There are many others that enlighten the seeker, from the Prophet's response to Lady Aisha when she commented on Lady Safiyyah's short stature to the complete absence of aesthetic morality in the Qur'an. To believe is to love all of Allah's creation and to undertake a path of critical self-reflection of the ideas we inherit from forces that we meet and are surrounded by, from bogus eugenics to friendly dialogues. To believe is to respect each human being and to fall in love with good everywhere. It is to compare our own beliefs and values as Muslims with the sublime truths expressed in the Qur'an and to sincerely face the unfortunate fact that we linger far, far away from "beauty".

05 January 2011

Other pictures from Somalia:Somali capital wins regional soccer tournament

Fifteen Somali regional teams competed in a football tournament in Punt Land State of Somalia (the North East Province).

According to Somali Football Federation statement, the holding of this tournament marked the reassembling of the once disunited Somali youths and it was the first of its kind held in Somalia since 1987.

I just cannot upload the pictures!