By Adil James, TMO
Bloomfield–April 16–Imam Al-Masry of the Bloomfield Muslim Unity Center gave an educational lecture Saturday evening about the things that Allah likes and dislikes.
The imam focused on honoring and respecting parents, neighbors, saying that Prophet (s) had said that being good to a neighbor was a clear sign of iman. The imam spoke about avoiding pride and arrogance, saying that harsh proud men are men of hellfire.
He gave the example of a man who in the time of Prophet (s) evicted another man from his home for not paying rent, and threw all of his furniture into the street–the man who evicted the renter complained to Prophet (s) because people were cursing him as they encountered the furniture in their way in the street, and Prophet (s) said that Allah had cursed him first for what he had done.
Another good characteristic the imam emphasized was that of serving others–he said that â€œwe should not be embarrassed to serve others,â€ illustrating this with an example from the Prophetâ€™s (s) life of when he helped an old woman by carrying her belongings. When she spoke against him (not knowing who he was) and then realized who he was, she said â€œYou were given the best of manners,â€ and immediately said shahada.
The imam encouraged people not to expose the good that they do, saying Allah doesnâ€™t like that. He said the hadith that seven will be shaded on the Day of Judgment, including those whose left hand doesnâ€™t know what the right hand does,â€ meaning they hide their sadaqa.
The imam also quoted a hadith showing that hidden sadaqa is extremely powerful.
Another disliked action, the imam explained, was transgression–he said there is a line beyond which you must not go.
The imam spoke at length against betrayal. He also spoke against waste and extravagance, and against looking slovenly.
Throughout his lecture the imam illustrated his arguments with examples.
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS
â€œHOLD TO FORGIVENESS; COMMAND WHAT IS RIGHT; BUT TURN AWAY FROM THE IGNORANTâ€ 7:199
â€œTELL THOSE WHO BELIEVE TO FORGIVE THOSE WHO DO NOT LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAYS OF ALLAH: IT IS FOR HIM TO RECOMPENSE (FOR GOOD OR ILL) EACH PEOPLE ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY HAVE EARNED. 45:14
Has someone done you wrong? Does it seem that someone has or is going out of their way to do harm to you? Do you seem to be consumed with the thought of these acts of injustice to you? Before you lose your mind, stop and assess your situation, and know this – NOW IS THE TIME FOR FORGIVENESS.
You might say, â€œwhy should I forgive someone who hurt me? After all, I didnâ€™t do anything to them. They should ask me for forgiveness.â€ That might be true to a certain extent, but look at it this way. Your human qualities are far above what Satan and the Jinns desire for you.
You should forgive because it takes the burden of someone elseâ€™s problem off your shoulders. Forgiveness releases the heavy yoke of self-oppression from you. If your adversary knows that he/she has consumed your thoughts with their wicked deeds, it only adds to their delight to see you squirm.
Let us look at our human example, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (s), who was full of forgiveness. One strong enemy of the Prophet (s) used to throw feces and sharp thorns in the prophetâ€™s walkway every day. The Prophet (s) would calmly sweep it up and say nothing. Then one day he noticed that his walkway was clean. No one had thrown anything on it. Seeing this, the Prophet (s) promptly went to the man and inquired of his health. The humble character of the Prophet (s) so impressed the man that he eventually accepted Al-Islam.
And of course we all know that we would not breathe another breath if it were not for the ever-present forgiveness of ALLAH on us. ALLAH says all through the Qurâ€™an that He is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. If He were to punish us according to our deeds, there would be no one left on the earth. Now since ALLAH is so forgiving, (ultra-forgiving) and Prophet Muhammad (s), following the direction of ALLAH, exercises the ultimate human level of forgiveness, doesnâ€™t it behoove us to follow their lead and attempt to do the same? As in all directives of ALLAH, the purpose of the directive is to uplift the human being. When we attempt to follow ALLAH and emulate the Messenger (s), there is a promised benefit in it for us â€“ and that benefit is peace of mind.
Walk up to a brother or sister who you believe has done you a disservice and ask them to forgive you for anything you might have done to them, either knowingly or unknowingly. Instantly you will feel a great lifting of doom and ugliness from your heart if the right intention was there (the pleasure of ALLAH). And of course, if you are aware that you have wronged someone, be big enough to approach that person and ask them to forgive you – then go and strive to be upright after that. If they accept your apology you have made peace in that particular relationship. If they donâ€™t accept your apology then at least you have lifted the cloud from yourself and you will go about your day with less of a burden on your shoulders.
If we just follow these simple rules of Islamic etiquette, our minds and hearts will be light and peaceful. We will also be responsible for remaking the world into one of peace.
This is also showing Almighty ALLAH that we are grateful to Him for making us a human being â€“ the greatest of all creation â€“ and puts the bad Jinn in his place â€“ under you.
As Salaam alaikum
Al Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin
By Sadia Dhlvi
Feb.15 : I grew up in an Irish convent boarding; regularly attending the school church and studying the Bible. Since then I have felt connected with Prophet Jesus and Virgin Mary. It is amazing how understanding another religion can bring one closer to oneâ€™s own faith, traditions. I love Jesus for He is Ruh Allah, the Spirit of God, and like Adam carries the Breath of Divinity.
I love Mary, the beloved friend of God who in Islam stands at the summit of the hierarchy of women.
Every faith depends upon the Divine word, which may manifest itself in a book or man. In Christianity the word is Christ, and the New Testament is an inspired history of the Word made Flesh, whereas Judaism and Islam are based on the word made Book.
Today, if the followers of Jesus, Moses and Mohammad are at odds, it is not because of the their teachings, but despite their unifying message of the Oneness of God. Islam, the last of the three Semitic monotheistic religions, incorporates all the prophets from the lineage of Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus). According to the Quran there has never been a time when God did not send messengers who did not speak the language of the people. â€œNothing is said to thee that was not said to the apostles before theeâ€. (41:43) Interestingly, there exists more references to Mariam (Mary) in the Quran than in the New Testament.
Prophet Muhammad (s) said, â€œBoth in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The Prophets are brothers of the same father with different mothers, and their religion is one. I am the closest in relationship to Jesus, the son of Mary, because there was no prophet between him and me. Jesus will descend. If you see him, then know him. He is a man of a moderately ruddy complexion. He will be wearing two faintly yellow garments. His hair will seem to have drops of water upon it, even though it will not be wetâ€.
Sufis have forever expressed profound reverence for Jesus, regarding him a perfect Sufi Master and knower of Divine mysteries. Jesus said, â€œIt is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I tell my mysteries. I took my place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And my soul became afflicted for the son of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. Whoever has come to understand the world has found only a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world. Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world. Become passers-by.â€
Jesus declared, â€œI am the Master, I am the wayâ€. As the Spirit of God, Jesus is pure compassion, a Godly attribute that Sufis seek to manifest in their own spirits. Through the centuries, Jesus and Mary have played significant roles in Sufi thought and poetry.
The hermitage of Jesus
Is the Sufiâ€™s table spread
Take heed, O sick one,
Never forsake this doorway.
Fariduddin Attar praises the Spirit of God:
When God shadowed grace on the breath of Jesus
The world was filled with passion.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.
By TMO Stringer
The highlight at the event from the students was the presentation of skits from boys and girls. The consensus of those in attendance was that the girlsâ€™ skits were better.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Sherman Jakson, who exhorted MSA students and other Muslims not to despair despite the present anti-Muslim climate, because they have a legacy to carry.
He reminded the audience that the Holy Prophet (s) faced terrible terrible hardships, but that he never relented in his mission.
Professor Jackson also emphasized to the students that they should trust people based on thier actions, and not based on their religion. He gave the example of when our Prophet (s) left Mecca for Madina, among others was one mushrik whose trust Prophet (s) valued, based on his honorable actions and deeds.
Thirdly, Professor Jackson said that MSA is an important institution. Citing his own example he said â€œI am one of its beneficiaries.â€ When he accepted Islam in 1977–when the Iranian revolution was at its height, the Palestinian issue and other similar problems were just creeping up–when we turn to MSA, he said, that was our source of inspiration. We put our intellectual resources, physical resources and financial resources–that provided us focus and solace. He concluded by saying; â€œMSA is the future of Islam in America and elsewhere.â€ He further said: â€œ Every one in MSA has a place to work and each one of you is important for the vision and mission of MSAâ€.
When the five TMO Foundation scholarships were announced, students cheered it with approval and appreciation.
For more information about the scholarships visit http://www.tmofoundation.com.
By Muqtedar Khan, Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware
Muslims and Christians together constitute over 50 percent of the world. If they lived in peace, we would be half way to world peace. One small step we can take towards fostering Muslim-Christian harmony is to tell and retell positive stories and abstain from mutual demonization.
In this article I propose to remind both Muslims and Christians about a promise that Prophet Muhammad (s) made to Christians. The knowledge of this promise can have enormous impact on Muslim conduct towards Christians. Muslims generally respect the precedent of their Prophet (s) and try to practice it in their lives.
In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherineâ€™s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammad (s) and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, which I reproduce below in its entirety. St. Catherineâ€™s Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the worldâ€™s oldest monastery. It possesses a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1,400 years under Muslim protection.
The Promise to St. Catherine:
â€œThis is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslimsâ€™ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil Godâ€™s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).â€
The first and the final sentence of the charter are critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. Muhammad (s) asserts that Muslims are with Christians near and far, straight away rejecting any future attempts to limit the promise to St. Catherine alone. By ordering Muslims to obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future attempts to revoke the privileges. These rights are inalienable. Muhammad (s) declared Christians, all of them, as his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating Godâ€™s covenant.
A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of rights without any duties!
The document is not a modern human rights treaty, but even though it was penned in 628 A.D. it clearly protects the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and security of the person.
I know most readers, must be thinking, So what? Well the answer is simple. Those who seek to foster discord among Muslims and Christians focus on issues that divide and emphasize areas of conflict. But when resources such as Muhammadâ€™s promise to Christians is invoked and highlighted it builds bridges. It inspires Muslims to rise above communal intolerance and engenders good will in Christians who might be nursing fear of Islam or Muslims.
When I look at Islamic sources, I find in them unprecedented examples of religious tolerance and inclusiveness. They make me want to become a better person. I think the capacity to seek good and do good inheres in all of us. When we subdue this predisposition towards the good, we deny our fundamental humanity. In this holiday season, I hope all of us can find time to look for something positive and worthy of appreciation in the values, cultures and histories of other peoples.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
(click below items for full tour of Prophetâ€™s (s) mosque with history and more!)
Muslims are 1/3 of the world. How can they contribute to saving the earth? I am trying to focus on worldâ€™s one third population who are not paying attention about their claim in associating themselves with their beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while He was the staunch advocator for the cause of environmental protection. According to Prophet (s) (hadith-by Al-Bukhari) â€œThere is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable giftâ€[for which there is great recompense].
On various occasions, itâ€™s been reported that the Prophet (s) had given plenty of importance toward cultivation of land…
See better treatment for animals; special concern for the preservation of water, plant and birds.
Importance of Planting a Tree in Islam
Citing the Prophetâ€™s (s) concern about plants, Qumruzzaman Azmi-Secretary General of the World Islamic Mission, Manchester(UK), said that Prophet (s) says, if a person is dying and he or she gets the chance to plant a tree then do it before dying. Azmi further quoted the Prophet (s) â€œif the people knew the importance and benefit of planting a tree, there wouldnâ€™t be a single place on earth left treeless.â€
According to a prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Al-Qaradawi, Prophet (s) said â€œHe who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire.
(this is a much needed tree found in the desert area with scarce vegetation)
This Hadith gives value to even one tree so we can figure out that how much destructive it is in destroying millions of trees; spoiling the earthâ€™s resources; causing destruction for ozone layer etc.
Encouraging to Cultivate Wasteland
In order to protect the natural resources and preserve the balance existing between the diverse elements of nature in the environment, Al-Qaradawi further quotes the Prophet (s) who not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile lands, He also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds. â€œWhoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.â€
Essentially, it is prohibited by Islam to let the land set idle for a long time without working it out, quoted by Iqbual Nadvi from ICNA(Islamic Circle of North America).
For the purpose of saving water, the Prophet (s) strictly abstained His followers from wasting a single drop of water while making Wadu( a ritual of removing impurity) . He also recommended repeating each thing not more than three times while performing Wudu, even if they are sitting near lake, river or a flowing spring.
In fact, there are innumerable instances which substantiate the intimate relation of the Prophet with Earth, Water, Land and Animal.
In the context of treating birds, He says â€œIf anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face Godâ€™s interrogationâ€ [Mishkat al Masabih].
Reducing Animal Cruelty
Prophet Muhammad (s) taught his followers to be gentle and cautious at the time of slaughtering animals. He advised to use sharp knives following a civilized method in slaughtering the animals so that it could minimize the risk of hurting and facilitating them to die quickly with little pain.
However, He forbade sharpening the knives and slaughtering any animal in the presence of other animals which, essentially, shows the dignity toward the animal. Prophet used to give special consideration to camel and horses as the most useful animal for journey and battle.
Addressing in Cairo, US President Barack Obama inspired the Muslim World by inculcating them:â€ As a student of history, I also know civilizationâ€™s debt to Islam. It was Islam â€“ at places like Al-Azhar University â€“ that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europeâ€™s Renaissance and Enlightenment.â€
The Qurâ€™an says, mankind holds a privileged position among Godâ€™s creations on earth: he is chosen as khalifa (vice-regent), and carries the responsibility of caring for Godâ€™s earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of Godâ€™s trust. But the Qurâ€™an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance: they are no better than other creatures.
â€œNo creature is there on earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you
â€œSurely the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not.â€
In the thesis, submitted into UNO, Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan-President
Pakistan Ecology Council, says: protecting the environment and eco-systems of the earth are a major concern of the Islamic Faith. If the situation of the environment keeps deteriorating at the present rate, there will ultimately be no life, no property and no religion left.
As we face the effects of pollution and water scarcity in some parts of the world and floods and violent storms elsewhere, now itâ€™s time for the world
community as a whole, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, to take a leaf out of the Prophetâ€™s book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely.
â€œUntil 9 December 1917 for more 400 years the city and Palestine lived peacefully under Pax Ottomana. Despite this 400 year long rule of Turks in Jerusalem there are not many visible Turkish Architectural Works. No slender minarets or Royal Mosque as in Balkans was build. The reason for this was respect for the local traditions and because there was a congregational Mosque of Masjid el-Aqsa. No other Mosque could be built that could surpass the holy shrine. Never the less, the City of Jerusalem has still a visible Turkish Presence. â€
Suleiman had a special relationship with Jerusalem. Evliya Ã‡elebi describes Sultan Suleimanâ€™s special relationship with Jerusalem as follows:
â€œIn the year 926/1520 Sultan Suleiman acceded to the throne and conquered the fortress of Belgrade 927/1521 and later on the island of Rhodes 928/1522 and accumulated thereby intense wealth. The Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w) appeared to him in a blessed night and told him: â€œO Suleiman you will make many conquests You should spend these spoils on embellishing Mecca and Medina, and for the fortification of the citadel of Jerusalem in order to repulse the unbelievers, when they attempt to take possession during the reign of your followers. You should also embellish its sanctuary with a water basin and offer annual money gift to the dervishes there, and also embellish the Rock of Allah and rebuild Jerusalem.â€
â€œSuch being the order of the Prophet (S), Suleiman sends from his spoils one thousand purses to Medina and another thousand purses to Jerusalem. Together with required material he dispatched the master architect Koca Sinan and transferred Lala Mustafa Pasha from the governorship of Egypt to that of Syria, this latter having been ordered to carry out the restoration of Jerusalem, gathered all the master builders, architects and sculptors available in Cairo, Damascus and Aleppo and send them to Jerusalem to rebuild it and to embellish the Holy Rock.â€
Ottoman Soldiers in Palestine
Ottoman Passport Palestine
Palestinian Wedding Procession 1904
Visiting of King of Germany to Ottoman Palestine 1898
Ottoman Railway, First Train to BIâ€™RÅ¡SSEBA BETWEEN HAIFA DERâ€™A
Ottoman Railway Haifa Train Station, Opening Prayer 1905
Ottoman Jerusulem 1898
OTTOMAN PALESTINE [BETWEEN 1898 AND 1917] SQUARE FACING DAVIDâ€™S TOWER
Interview of Harun Yahya
By Adil James, MMNS
American audiences may not know the name Adnan Oktar, although they may be familiar with the plentiful writings of Harun Yahya. In fact Adnan Oktar and Harun Yahya are one and the same, Harun Yahya being merely the English pen-name of the famous writer. This is the print version of The Muslim Observerâ€™s February-March 2009 interview with Mr. Adnan Oktar, who graciously agreed to a lengthy interview with us through the medium of an interpreter, Ms. Seda Aral, who translated our questions into Turkish and his responses into English.
Our questions and some of his responses have been abbreviated for easy reading, but the meaning of his responses has of course not been altered.
A. ADNAN OKTAR: This case began with a police operation against the Science Research Foundation (BAV) community in 1999. That was an operation initiated due to certain false claims made by the communist deep state organization and directed by it. Indeed, the director of the Organized Crimes branch of the time who conducted the operation against us is currently detained and on trial facing charges of membership of the Ergenekon terror organization. Again, a famous journalist who constantly produced hostile reports about us during the course of that operation and who waged a serious psychological warfare campaign against my colleagues and me is also now in prison, charged with membership of the Ergenekon terror organization, and the legal proceedings against him are still going on. Following trial proceedings lasting 8 years, the court brought in a guilty verdict against me and 3 female colleagues on charges on leading a running criminal enterprise. I have the greatest respect for the courtâ€™s decision and I wish the members of the court the very best. But, on the other hand, nobody believes the allegation that I am the leader of a criminal gang. I must be the only gang leader who has written 300 books and has millions of readers. As a matter of fact, the public prosecutor in the case even said that the allegations were false and there was not a single piece of evidence to support them over those 8 years, and he twice requested that my colleagues and I be acquitted.
Let me briefly summarize the public prosecutorâ€™s legal opinion for you; he says, â€œThere is no evidence against the defendants in that collected by the court.â€ In other words, he says there is no evidence against us.
[Even the prosecutor in my case] sets out his conclusion in the words: â€œIn the absence of any evidence to show that Adnan Oktar established an enterprise for criminal purposes and that the other defendants committed the crimes of managing the enterprising and engaging in activities on its behalf, it is requested in the public name that the defendants be individually acquitted of all charges, under Article 223/2E of the Criminal Code.â€ The public prosecutor said there was no crime and no evidence of any offense. But the court board decided differently. There is definitely goodness and wisdom in this and it is all for the best, inshaâ€™Allah. If Allah has seen fit to consign me to the School of Yusuf (Madrassa of Yusuf), I am honored by that.
Q: What is your response to the backlash against you from Muslim writers who believe in evolution?
A: Ask these people how the angels and djinn were created. Will they be able to say they came into being through evolution? No, of course they will not. Or ask them if they can account in terms of evolution for how the Prophet Musaâ€™s (as) staff turned into a fully formed snake with digestive, motor and reproductive systems when he threw it down on the ground. When the Prophet Jesus (as) breathed on a bird-shaped object made out of mud, it turned into a living, flying bird. How do they explain that?
The fact is that behind the efforts of some Muslims to reconcile Islam and evolution in their own eyes, lie an element of ignorance and an element of defeatism, a fear of being unable to respond to Darwinism. These people imagine, with the knowledge of the 1900s, that evolution is a scientific theory and that opposing evolution means opposing science. But they are unaware that science refutes evolution. Evolution is a theory unable to explain even how a single protein came into being by chance, a theory at a complete dead-end. Moreover, not one of the 100 million fossils unearthed confirms evolutionistsâ€™ claims. Darwin admits that himself, saying, â€œWhy, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined? Everything is highly regular and perfectâ€, he says. Because Allah creates them, that is why. â€œBut, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?â€ he asks. Because evolution never happened, that is why. Does that not finish Darwinism right from the outset? There are 100 million fossils and they all prove Creation. So can one speak of Darwinism under such circumstances? Of course not.
Q: What is your reaction to anti-evolution movie â€œNo Intelligence Allowedâ€ by Ben Stein, showing the ostracism of scientists who reject evolution?
A: It is perfectly obvious that Darwinists have established a global dictatorship. Under official protection in 95% of the countries of the world, the theory of evolution has had its invalidity scientifically proved, and despite being a false theory that violates reason and logic, it is still imposed as an official ideology. In middle and high school and university exams it is obligatory to answer questions about the theory of evolution as if this false theory were true and correct. No academic or scientist who even hints he does not believe in Darwinism is allowed to continue with his work or to enjoy any promotion. And it is arranged that the majority lose their jobs. It is almost the first time in the history of the world that such an ideology is officially protected and imposed in just about every country of the world. This system, which manifests itself as a social dictatorship, has established a hugely repressive regime. They have even tied the Vaticanâ€™s hands with the pressure they made. The Vatican issued a statement about Darwinism just the other day, and the terrible nature of the situation is evident from that. They have made the Vatican incapable of saying, â€œThere is no evolution.â€ European materialists and Darwinists imagine they can resurrect Darwinism by making the Vatican issue statements in favor of it. But the fact is that Darwinism is dead, and no initiative can bring it back to life. It is now time to bury Darwinism for good.
Q: Believers believe in a world that is intrinsically unseen, therefore how can believers argue against unbelievers?
A: Using a genuine, rational and clear style, one based on evidence, has always been a very important and effective method, inshaâ€™Allah. Everyone can explain and understand things to the extent ordained by Allah. When someone is guided to the true path, he is guided so because it is ordained by Allah in his destiny, not because we explained anything to him. Of course the things we say are an instrument, but if Allah does not open someoneâ€™s heart, then he cannot understand what he hears or see what is before his eyes. You can show him thousands of proofs and explain things in countless ways, but he will still not change. Of course, one has a responsibility to strive and tell people the truth, but one can only preach to the extent Allah permits. However, we must not forget that when a Muslim preaches, he is not preaching to the person opposite him, but to an entity Allah creates in his brain, in an area the size of a lentil. That person does exist on the outside, but we can never have direct dealings with that person on the outside. We have direct experience of images established by an electric current of a few amps. This is a very great secret, a great blessing to grasp the depth of faith. This is knowledge that enormously deepens and strengthens a Muslimâ€™s preaching power.
Q: What is the best way for Muslims to study science? Are there books available in English that you would recommend to Muslims studying science in America or Europe?
A: A Muslim intellectual is someone who thinks broadly and freely. In the Qurâ€™an, Allah commands us to reflect deeply, research and investigate. As Allah reveals in the Qurâ€™an, Muslims will also think and enquire and investigate. Someone consumed by a love of Allah will investigate the artistry, knowledge and manifestations of Allah with great excitement, determination and passion. All scientific and cultural progress throughout history has been led by believers. The way that Muslims today are depicted as having no idea about or are kept away from science, knowledge, art or cleanliness is a tactic employed by materialists and Freemasons. Muslims must not fall for that snare, but will raise their levels of knowledge. They will enhance the joy of seeing Allahâ€™s artistry through scientific enquiry. I recommend that my Muslim brothers read the works of Harun Yahya. These have been translated into 67 languages and are all available free of charge on the Internet.
Q: What avenues should Muslim scientists pursue?
A: Someone with a passionate love of Allah will draw enormous pleasure from His artistry and the manifestations of His sublime mind. Anyone enquiring or reading with that love and fervor will obtain most excellent results and this will be instrumental in great advancement. In the same way that religion encourages scientific research, so scientific enquiry conducted in the light of the truths revealed by the faith will produce very rapid and definite results. Because the faith is the only source able to provide an accurate and certain account of how life and the universe came into being. Science can only produce accurate findings so long as research in conducted along the lines of investigating Allahâ€™s omnipotence and the proofs of creation in the universe. Only if the right course is taken, if it is accurately directed in other words, can science achieve its true objective in the shortest possible time.
By Allahâ€™s leave, we will all see in the time of Hazrat Mahdi (as) the enormous advances in science that fervor and joy of faith will be instrumental in bringing about. The spiritual strength Hazrat Mahdi (as) is instrumental in bringing about will lead to the greatest scientific and technological developments in the history of the world, and will be more delightful, beneficial and effective than people have ever dreamed.
Q: You have argued these are the Last Days–what advice do you have for Muslims in this time?
A: What our Prophet (s) tells us is the truth. He acts in compliance with Allahâ€™s revelation. He described the portents of the End Times through Allahâ€™s revelation, and they all have come to be truth. These portents can all be found in the Kutub-u Sitte (the Six Books). In addition, the Qurâ€™an makes it very clear that the moral values of Islam will rule the world. This is crystal clear in verse 55 of Surat an-Nur. There are various other verses of the Qurâ€™an regarding the domination of the moral values of Islam over the world, and they can all be seen on my www.awaitedmahdi.com website. The subjects of Hazrat Mahdi (as), the coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) and the End Times are matters on which all four schools are in agreement; the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliqi and Shaâ€™afi schools are unanimous on the subject. The appearance of Hazrat Mahdi (as) and the return of the Prophet Jesus (as) are absolutely certain. That is also the case in Shiism. Indeed, the Shiite and Sunni schools make up 95% of the Islamic world. Nobody has ever maintained anything different. The hadith I have set out in my works and writings are hadith that have been verified and found completely trustworthy. Had they not been verified, there might have been doubts as to their reliability, but they have been confirmed. Our Prophet (saas) says that the portents of the End Times will happen one after the other, like the beads on a necklace. When one ends the next will start, he says. He says wondrous things will happen one after the other. Note how wondrous things are now happening in the world, the portents of the End Times have all taken place within 20-30 years. The eclipses of the Sun and Moon during Ramadan, for example, is something highly detailed. It happened in 1400 by the Hegira calendar. The Prophet (saas) says the waters of the Euphrates will be severed. And the Euphrates was cut off by a dam and the flow of its waters stopped. The newspapers carried reports saying the Euphrates had been severed, and the truth of our Prophetâ€™s (saas) hadith thus emerged. Our Prophet (saas) says there will be carnage in the same region. The massacres by the PKK are clearly set out. The Prophet (saas) said that blood will be shed in the Qaaba at the beginning of the century in which Hazrat Mahdi (as) appears. He says the Qaaba will be occupied. And that all happened.
A great economic crisis is described in detail, and that has also happened. There are hundreds of other portents, and people can read these on my web sites. It appears from all these portents that Hazrat Mahdi (as) has begun work and that the coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) is close at hand, inshaâ€™Allah. That is why I always say that Muslims will seek Hazrat Mahdi (as) and pray for the coming of the Prophet Jesus (as). â€œWe sought but could not findâ€; this is out of question. A Muslim must pray for them. And then Allah will create them, bring them into being. I keep on saying that. Because the coming of Hazrat Mahdi (as) is certain. The coming of the Prophet Jesus (as) is certain. The global dominion of Islamic moral values is certain. I do not concentrate on an event unless there is something wondrous about it. I am someone who looks at everything rationally. I evaluate things in the light of the evidence, I sign up to rational and correct ideas and follow the truth 100%. I go along with what is 100% true. The portents of these happy days have come about, and Muslims have a duty to experience that joy. They will see the abundant blessings of this age and experience all its beauty, inshaâ€™Allah.
Q: Who else is doing such work to build the ummah, like you and Ahmad Deedat before you?
A: Fear constitutes a grave form of corruption for Muslims in the End Times. They hesitate, saying, â€œBut what if I am imprisoned, or beaten, or sworn at, or slandered or killed?â€ But whatever happens, they will earn merit accordingly. Is our aim not to earn Allahâ€™s approval? Most Islamic countries have been unnecessarily afraid and experienced terrible suffering. Had they been courageous and rational, Allah would not have inflicted that suffering on them. Strength belongs to Allah. Nothing apart from Allah has any strength. Allah bestows fear and troubles. Allah bestows afflictions on cowards. Allah protects the brave. Muslims have a duty to be brave. For example, when it comes to the establishment of the Turkish-Islamic Union, some Muslims say nothing out of a fear of â€œWhat will they say?â€ The fact is, however, that it is a sin for Muslims not to be united and act together. Sin is a spiritual burden. In other words, it is obligatory in the eyes of the Qurâ€™an for Muslims to act as one, as brothers. The door is open to all kinds of scourges so long as they do not do this, so long as they are not united. But some Muslims carefully avoid this, out of such fears as â€œSuch-and-such will react like this, so-and-so will not want it, what will they say?â€ or are even unable to raise the subject at all. But no matter what they say, we will obey Allahâ€™s command, we will be united.
Muslims fear only one thing; they fear Allah. Anything apart from Allah should not be feared. If Allah wishes He can make the world a very different place and easily have the Turkish-Islamic Union accepted. And we will then want it and strive with all our might and cry out â€œThe Turkish-Islamic Union must be established.â€ Once the Turkish-Islamic Union has been founded, no harm will come to even a single hair on Muslimsâ€™ heads. And then letâ€™s see whether they can line up the bodies of dead Muslims, children and all, and take photographs of them. Will they then have the courage to crush the Muslim world underfoot like ants? The bloodshed will stop instantaneously, all the oppression will immediately come to an end, inshaâ€™Allah. And why should the world not want a Turkish-Islamic Union? The union we espouse is a union of love and friendship, that will protect and embrace all with affection and compassion. Why should anyone not want that? I cannot conceive of any society, any government not wanting a union that will resuscitate the global economy, bring about an end to terror and bring prosperity to all.
For that reason, I always tell my brothers to concentrate on union at every available opportunity, in their writings, or talks or conversations. They must constantly demand that their governments establish the Turkish-Islamic Union; inshaâ€™Allah, those demands will be of the nature of a prayer to Allah. When I talk about a Turkish-Islamic Union under Turkish leadership this is not something resulting from any pretension to racial superiority. The Turkish nation is willing to bear troubles and difficulties. Assuming the role of elder brother is a hard job requiring sacrifices. But both historic circumstances and also social conditions make Turkish leadership essential. As the descendants of a nation who gave order to the world for 700 years in the time of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish nation will again be willing to act as elder brother to and be the protector and servant of its Muslim and Turkic brothers, inshaâ€™Allah.
Q: Do you believe the hijab ban will be stopped in Turkey?
A: Some people in Turkey have an unfounded fear, and that must first be put right. The fact is that democracy and secularism lie at the heart of Islam. Islam allows people the right to believe and express their ideas as they wish. It is a rule in Islam that there must be no pressure in religious matters. Freedom of thought is a requirement of Islam. It has taught mankind democracy and secularism with the reason and conscience brought about by religious moral values. People must be told that. They must be told that their fears are groundless, that everyone, no matter what they may believe, is a first-class citizen. But the stipulation about the hijab in the Qurâ€™an is perfectly clear. It is also set out in the hadith. There is nothing to argue about. These young people are very devout, our young girls want to turn up wearing the hijab. So what? Nice, polite ladies turn up. Of course there may be a diverse range of opinions. Everyone can think in different ways. Just so long as all our citizens are given the right to live as they wish and are given guarantees of freedom and democracy. Let young girls wear the hijab if they want. A laic regime, the republic, is embedded in Turkey. I regard it as totally inappropriate to make such a fuss within such a system about a handful of young girls wearing the hijab.
Q: What advice do you give to people who feel lazy, unable to help good people to do good work like you?
A: I am madly in love with Allah. Allah must be loved with a mad intensity. That Allah we love with such joy with love must enter our minds the moment we get up in the morning. We must start the day with the joy and delight of Him, with a joyous, festive air. Because we are under the control of an infinite mind, an infinite power and infinite compassion. This is an extraordinarily delightful thing, and we constantly see His blessings everywhere. Our lovely Allah has prepared His eternal paradise for us. Of course the joy of that pervades our hearts and we must not forget it for a moment. We must spend every moment of our lives, from morning to evening, in the festive joy and fervor of Him, and must even experience the joy of Allah in our dreams. He will even influence our dreams if we experience that great joy. So no sloth or idleness can ever be possible, inshaâ€™Allah.
Local Muslims Gather for Annual Celebrations of Prophetâ€™s birth and life
At locations throughout South Florida this April, traditional Milad-un-Nabi programs were held to celebrate the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad. The events coincided with the Prophetâ€™s birthday on the 12th day of Rabbi-ul-Awwal, third month on the lunar Muslim calendar, which this year fell on April 12.
In Muslim countries, the event is marked by numerous festivities, including devotional song, poetry reading, religious devotion, lectures and get-togethers and feature large scale TV and media coverage. In the states, though overseas TV coverage is now present thanks to satellite TV channels, broadcasting Milad-un-Nabi coverage from back home, events here tend to be more subdued, owing in part to the views of some communities and community members that such celebrations are unlawful innovations, religiously speaking.
Despite the misgivings by some, though, manyâ€”perhaps the majorityâ€”continue the colorful and joyous observances of what all in the community agree was one of the pinnacle moments in human history, the prophetâ€™s birth.
One such program was held at the Miami Gardens Masjid in Miami-Dade County on Saturday evening, April 8, which annually marks the occasion with either lectures, traditional Urdu-poetry in praise of the prophet, or dinners.
Open to men and women, the program featured a lecture by visiting speaker Faisal Abdur Razzaq of Toronto, Canada. Hundreds of families and community members were in attendance for the annual event which included dinner after the sunset prayer of Salat-ul-Maghrib.
Abdur Razzaq received his Islamic studies at the Umm-Al-Qurra University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah from 1977 to 1986. He is currently the President of the Islamic Forum of Canada, and the Vice-President of the Islamic Council of Imams of Canada. He served as Imam Khateeb of several mosques and Islamic Centers there including the Islamic society of Peel, the Islamic Centre of Brampton, and the Toronto and Region Islamic Center (TARIC).
Razzaq also conducted a workshop for Muslim Youth on Sunday April 9th at Miami Gardens entitled â€œSacred Knowledge Training Program concentrating on Fiqh and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.â€
The mosque has been hosting a number of guest lecturers since the departure of its regular imam Abdul-Hamid Samra in March.
Zaid Shakir Speaks in South Florida
Tall and soft-spoken with a slow, deep, and rhythmic speaking style, Zaid Shakir is an African American Muslim community leader perfectly at ease amongst the immigrant origin segments of the community. Over the years, on his journey from an urban northern California youth to Muslim convert and toward the highest rung of Muslim community speaker and leader, Shakir has continually earned respect though humility, hard work and community efforts around the country.
But that doesnâ€™t mean he canâ€™t get loud and passionate when he needs to. Now at the head of one of the most well-known Muslim educational groups in the countryâ€”the Zaytuna Institute in his native northern Caliâ€”this past month, Shakir visited South Florida for a number of events.
On Thursday, April 6th at 7 pm Shakir spoke on the subject of â€œMuslims in America: Challenges and Opportunities,â€ at the University of Miamiâ€™s Learning Center building, co-sponsored by the schoolâ€™s Department of Religious Studies and the Islamic Society at UM.
Then on Friday, April 7, the Madinah Foundation presented â€˜A Night of Reflection; The Ethical Standard of the Prophet Muhammad; Controlling Anger, Promoting Understanding Through Wisdom,â€™ a lecture by Shakir. The free event was that time held at the Darul Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines.
Both events were well-attended with positive reaction from attendees.
At UM, Religion 101 students received extra credit for attending the Shakir lecture thanks to longtime ISUM supporter and head of the schoolâ€™s Religious studies department, Dr. Stephen Sapp.
ISUM president Sarah Uddin greeted the Shakir visit with excitement and praised the turnout.
â€œWe had an awesome turnout! Iâ€™m really happy with the program last night. Imam Zaidâ€™s speech was super engaging. He was able to reach so many non-Muslim students and ISUM alumni, in addition to the rest of the ISUM gang, who all came out,â€ she said.
A mainstay at such prominent national Musilm community events as the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North Americaâ€”where he often speaks at the main stage in front of tens of thousandsâ€”Shakir was born in Berkeley, California. He accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force and obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at the American University in Washington D.C. and an MA in Political Science from Rutgers University.
Spending time overseas in Egypt, Syria, and Morocco, Shakir studied Arabic as well as the traditional Islamic sciences including Islamic law, Quran, and Islamic spirituality. Upon returning, he co-founded Masjid al-Islam in Connecticut and taught Political Science at the Southern Connecticut State University. He has translated several books from Arabic into English including â€œThe Heirs of the Prophet.â€
Since 2003, he has acted as a professor and scholar-in-residence at the Zaytuna Institute & Academy, alongside fellow well-known Muslim community speaker, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, also from Northern California.
The Madinah Foundation, which was largely responsible for Shakirâ€™s visit, is the local Zaytuna Affiliate in South Florida, staffed by former community youth and college activists who grew up attending Islamic studies programs around the country and listening to speakers such as Shakir and Hanson as role-models, and also organizes annual Islamic study retreats in Zaytunaâ€™s â€œDeen Intensive Styleâ€â€”part nature retreat/camp, part traditional Islamic educational experience trying to recreate pre-Colonial modes of Islamic educationâ€”throughout the state.
CAIR-FLORIDA: â€˜Urge Legislators to Oppose Billâ€™
â€˜BILL WOULD CUT FUNDING FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTSâ€™
CAIR-FL, along with groups such as Florida Immigration Advocacy Center (FIAC) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa called for the withdrawal of proposed legislation that would prohibit state funds from being used to provide financial aid to university and college students on visas. The statement came on April 24.
Florida House Bill 205 and Senate Bill 458 target students that hold visas and receive financial support from Florida to attend state schools. A similar bill 2003 HB 31, introduced by Rep. Dick Kravitz, R-Jacksonville three years ago targeting some Muslim countries was defeated during the senate hearing.
FAU Students hold Annual â€˜Scholarâ€™s Nightâ€™
The Muslim Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University held itâ€™s seventh Annual Scholarâ€™s Night on Saturday, April 22nd, at the Life Long Center Auditorium on the FAU Campus in Boca Raton. Entitled: â€œBelieve it or not, you were born Muslim!â€ and featuring a lecture by local speaker Fadi Kablawi, the event was of a preaching nature, its flier posing the question: â€œWhat do you call a religion whose beliefs, practices and followers are being bashed and bad-mouthed in practically every sphere of activity, in almost every corner of the globe, yet it attracts ever-increasing number of people? A Miracle? A Paradox? or simply THE TRUTH: ISLAM.â€ Such straightforward, declarative and reactionary themes have become more rare in Islamic events in the post-9/11 environment. The lecture featured free admission and dinner and was open to all interested. The FAU MSO has seen a resurgent past semester of activity.
Imam, Leadership, & Respect
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin
â€œO ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before ALLAH and His Messenger; but fear ALLAH: for ALLAH is He who hears and knows all things. 2. O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. 3. Those that lower their voice in the presence of ALLAHÃS Messengerâ€”their hearts has ALLAH tested for piety. For them is forgiveness and a great reward. 4. Those who shout out to thee from without the Inner Apartmentsâ€”most of them lack understanding. 5. If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them: but ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
On July 4, 1976, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, leader of the Muslim American Society, delivered a stirring talk entitled â€œThe Need For Leadership.â€ In the talk were references to how leadership is subtly and overtly disrespected. This is done in many ways such as constantly finding fault with the leader, putting obstacles in his path or refusing to remove obstacles from his path, or treating him like â€œone of the boys.â€ When the Prophet (s) was among us physically, ALLAH had to remind the believers to treat him with respect. Looking at where the people came from (Jahyliaâ€”ignorance) it is no wonder they had to be reminded. Can you imagine having the Messenger of ALLAH (s) in your midst and shouting into his house like he was your street running buddy?
We may wonder why ALLAH put these ayahs in the Qur`an. The Prophet (s) is no longer physically with us so He couldnâ€™t be talking to us about shouting into the Prophetâ€™s (s) dwelling. That is not physically possible. But since we believe that every word of the Qur`an is meant for our guidance, then, without doubt, ALLAH intends this as a sign for human beings in our dealing with each other.
Does this mean that we are to treat our leaders as kings and princes? No, not at all. But it does mean that we are to be intelligent and respectful to those ALLAH allows to be in charge. You may notice when the President of the U.S. enters the halls of Congress, everybody jumps to their feet to give him a standing ovation until he reaches the front. Then when the Speaker of the House formally announces him, the applause starts all over again. It is a respect for the officeâ€”not necessarily the man.
ALLAH reminds us of this because the community cannot prosper with such behavior. Yusef Ali says in his commentary that to behave in such a manner can destroy the good intentions of any service you may have wished to perform. You might be looked upon with disfavor without you even realizing your action was disliked. ALLAH says â€œmost of them lack understanding,â€ but nevertheless the damage is done.
In order for us to be successful, we must take on the spirit of the Qur`an. We must drop cultural and ethnic hang-ups and adopt the plain and simple, but strong language of the Qur`an. Itâ€™s the only way to be Muslim and be successful.
As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin
Arabiaâ€™s Ancient Past Alive at Mada`in Saleh
By Siraj Wahab, Special to Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
It may sound strange, but the first time I heard about Madain Saleh was when I was visiting Jordan in the summer of 2000 on a media junket organized by the Jordanian Tourism Board. The JTB guide, Odeh Al-Shobakiâ€”I remember his name because he was a diehard Bollywood fanâ€”while leading us through the beautiful valley where Petra is, said: â€œThis is an extension of your Mada`in Saleh. The structures are similar to what you have in Saudi Arabia. The Nabataean tribes lived and flourished in this area around 500 B.C. Petra was their northern capital, while Madain Saleh was their southern one.â€
We, or rather I, was clueless. Still, we nodded our heads. Mada`in Saleh remained in the back of my mind until one fine morning last month when Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the Indian consul general in Jeddah, and his No. 2, Dr. Suhel Ejaz Khan, wondered if I had been north of Jeddah. If not, would I like to be part of a three-day diplomatic trip to Madain Saleh? â€œYes,â€ was my instant response.
It is not every day that you get to travel with diplomats. Along with being a diplomat, Dr. Sayeed is also a geologist. In fact, he is a geologist first and a diplomat second. It was in geology that he did his doctorate and then joined the Indian Foreign Service. The unique rock formations of Madain Saleh thus hold a special attraction for him. He visited the area years ago when he was stationed at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.
We were a group of five families and we left Jeddah at 5 on a Wednesday evening. As the sun went down, we kept traveling until we reached the SASCO stop, which is midway between Jeddah and Madinah. We prayed maghreb there. It was cold and windy. The childrenâ€”Shin, Malak, Aiko and Sania â€”came out of the vehicles but then scurried quickly back inside. We gulped down refreshing cups of tea.
It was here that we asked each other what we might expect at Mada`in Saleh. I had no idea. My friend, Danish Abdul Ghafour, was as clueless as I. Dr. Suhel Khan had only heard about it from the consul general. Saleem Quadri had some idea, thanks to what he had seen on the web. The only person who had been to Mada`in Saleh before was Dr. Sayeed but he and his wife, Farha, sons Faateh, Faaleh and Azhaan and another couple, Mr. and Mrs. Shafiq and their son, Ubair, were already in Madinah. They had started earlier and we planned to join them for dinner in the holy city. About 6:45 p.m., the caravan started for Madinah.
Madinah is the city of peace, the city of radiance and the city of our most beloved Prophet (s). For some reason, your eyes get moist the moment you enter the cityâ€™s holy precincts. We were cracking jokes and having fun all the way, but the moment we entered the Prophetâ€™s (s) city we were in a different world. By the time we got to Madinah, â€˜isha was over. Unlike the Grand Mosque in Makkah, which is open 24 hours every day, the Prophetâ€™s (s) Mosque in Madinah is closed after â€˜isha. We prayed the night prayers in our hotel rooms and had a delicious dinner at an authentic Hyderabadi restaurant called Meraj. During dinner, Dr. Sayeed told us the plans for the next day and what we should expect at Mada`in Saleh.
At 5 a.m., we heard the call to prayer. We performed our ablutions and headed to the Prophetâ€™s (s) Mosque. A cool breeze was blowing across the city. Praying in the Prophetâ€™s (s) Mosque so far has been the most moving experience of my life. We prayed fajr and said our salaams to the beloved Prophet (s) and his Companions who rest next to him under the green dome. We then came out of the gate named after the Angel Gabriel, and it was a great sight. The minarets stood out against the light blue sky. Danish and I spent time in the area around the mosqueâ€™s majestic courtyard, sipping tea from a nearby â€œboufiya.â€
By 8.30 we were ready to leave for Al-Ula. At this point, we were joined by our guide and his two daughters. Obaidullah Abro is a Pakistani working for a Makkah-based tourist company. He has a passion for Mada`in Saleh and all the Islamic sites and, in addition, he is very well-read. He had all the relevant Qur`anic and literary references about the area. It was he who informed us that Al-Ula is 380 km northwest of Madinah. And, at legal speed limits, it would take us about three hours to reach our destination. What we had not factored in was that long stretches of the road to Al-Ula were single track, and driving can become both hazardous and slow. Abro said plans were under way to build an airport at Al-Ula. Quoting local authorities, he said the airport would promote regional business and tourism and should be operational within three years.
We thought we would drive nonstop to Al-Ula, which is what Abro told us, but he and Dr. Sayeed had charted a different course. Our vehicles suddenly veered off the main road and we got into an area of ancient, crumbling mud houses. They were baking in the scorching sun. As we rolled along, in the distance we saw an imposing fort perched high on a cliff. As we got closer, cameras clicked away. This was Khaybar. It was here that a very important battle between non-Muslims and the Companions of the Prophet (s) was fought. The fort was almost impregnable and had given the holy warriors a tough time. After many failed assaults by different Companions, Prophet (s) finally asked Sayyidina Ali (ra) to lead the final battle and he was victorious. The spring where he performed his ablutions is still flowing. The shade of the palm trees was indescribable. The peace and tranquillity there has to be experienced to be believed.
Our caravan then rolled on, and soon we were in Al-Ula. It was an amazing landscape. The mountains had a red hue while Al-Ula was green. There were plenty of date farms, and the tall trees swayed in the wind. We soon arrived at the beautiful Mada`in Saleh Hotel (www.mshotel.com.sa), which sits in front of a huge mountain. The hotel is relatively new. Asghar Baig Younes, the hotel manager, was waiting for us. We were welcomed with cool drinks and then we had lunch. We were tired but excited.
That evening, we explored Al-Ula. Abro took us to the place where the Prophet (s) stayed after returning from the Battle of Tabuk. It is said that the Prophet (s) prayed at one of the mosques in Al-Ula, which is unfortunately now closed.
As the sun was about to set on the town of Al-Ula, we saw haunting silhouettes of the mountains. One particular peak looked as if it were a woman begging for mercy. From the other side, it gave a completely different impression, but an eerie one nonetheless. â€œCaravans never stopped here in ancient times,â€ Abro explained. â€œThey scheduled their trips so that they would cross the valley before sunset.â€ When we returned to the hotel, we prepared for the next morningâ€™s trip to Mada`in Saleh.
The word mada`in comes from the Arabic word madina. Madina means city, and mada`in is its plural. Many expatriates from the Subcontinent confuse the Arabic word mada`in with the Urdu maidaan, meaning a plain stretch of land. We were visiting â€œMada`in Saleh,â€ (the cities of Prophet Saleh (as)).
We got up early on Friday, and by 8:30, we were on our way to Mada`in Saleh, 22 km north of Al-Ula. The area was once the location of a significant city located on a major trade route from Yemen to Damascus. During the early Islamic period it became an important pilgrimage station for Syrians and Egyptians traveling to the holy cities of Madinah and Makkah. We saw tombs with massive facades decorated with eagles; there were dozens of tombs carved inside the rock. Someone has rightly mentioned that the first thing that strikes you is the Nabataeansâ€™ skill at carving mountains into burial chambers. The symmetry of their work testifies to their knowledge of geometry. Outside each tomb there is an inscription.
Before arriving at Mada`in Saleh, we saw billboards telling people to discover Islam rather than discovering Mada`in Saleh. We were curious to know what was wrong in visiting an ancient Nabataean city. According to scholars, Prophet Saleh (as) was the son of Thamud. He came from the tribe of â€˜Ad. Salehâ€™s tribe moved from Yemen and had moved to a place called â€œHager.â€ This is what is known as Mada`in Saleh today.
Like the tribe of â€˜Ad, the Nabataeans built their homes on mountaintops. They learned the art of building from the tribe of â€˜Ad and they were also blessed by God as the tribe of â€˜Ad before them had been blessed. They had power, riches and gardens rich in plants. However, they too, like the tribe of â€˜Ad, worshipped idols. God sent them Prophet Saleh (as), who was one of themâ€”from a good family and wiseâ€”people often came to him for advice. They admired and liked him, and had hopes that one day he would become one of their leaders. They were disappointed, however, when he began preaching to them about one God. They were so disappointed with him and angered by his teachings that they began to turn from him. They told him that they would believe in him if he performed a miracleâ€”but not just any miracle. They pointed to a huge rock and told Prophet Saleh that they wanted to see the rock split in two and that they wanted a she-camel to come out of it. They wanted the she-camel to be 10 months pregnant, tall and beautiful. God allowed Prophet Saleh (as) the miracle and as the rock broke into two pieces a magnificent she-camel appeared from within. Some of Prophet Salehâ€™s people believed and became his followers, but most continued in disbelief.
There are a number of accounts of this camel and her miraculous nature. Some mention that she used to drink all the water in the wells in one day, and that no other animals could approach the wells. Others claim that the camel produced milk sufficient for all the people to drink, on the same day that she drank all the water and left none for them.
For a while, Prophet Salehâ€™s (as) people let the camel graze and drink freely but in their hearts they hated her. The unbelievers now began complaining that this huge camel with its unusual qualities drank most of the water and frightened their cattle. They hatched a plot to kill the camel. They watched her closely, observing all her movements. As she came to drink at the well, one of them shot her in the leg with an arrow. She tried to escape but was slowed by the arrow. Another followed the camel and struck her with a sword in the other leg. As she fell to the ground, he stabbed her with his sword. The killers were given a heroâ€™s welcome, cheered with songs and poetry composed in their honor. They mocked Prophet Saleh (as), but he issued a warning. â€œEnjoy life for three more days, then the punishment will descend upon you.â€
Prophet Saleh hoped that they would see the folly of their ways and change their attitude before the three days had passed. Instead, they plotted to kill him. Nine men were sent to kill him, but God protected him by sending large birds from the sky, killing all the nine assassins.
After three days, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by a rumbling noise and severe earthquakes that destroyed the entire tribe. The land was violently shaken, destroying all living creatures in it. Neither their strong buildings nor their rock-hewn houses could protect them. All were demolished before they realized what was happening. As for the people who believed in the message of Prophet Saleh (as), they were saved because they had left the place.
It is said that while Prophet Muhammad (s) was passing through the area on his way back from the Battle of Tabuk, he stopped to meet with the people there. The people fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamud used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water-skins from it (the water from the wells). The Prophet (s) ordered them to empty the water-skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she-camel (of Prophet Saleh) had drunk. He warned them against entering the area where the people had been punished, saying: â€œI fear that you may be affected by what afflicted them; so do not enter upon them.â€
In other `ahadith, it is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (s) warned his people that should they enter Mada`in Saleh, they should think about what had happened to the unbelievers.
This is why people have not been encouraged to visit Mada`in Saleh. Now, however, the Supreme Commission of Tourism (SCT) is putting emphasis on tourism and in the future, tourist traffic to Mada`in Saleh is expected to increase considerably.
When we got back to the hotel, it was nearly 1 p.m., and we headed straight to the biggest mosque in the center of Al-Ula to say our Friday prayers. The imam had a sonorous voice, and the Qur`anic verses reminded the believers of the life in the Hereafter and Godâ€™s punishment for those who disobey. I was again reminded of the community of disbelievers who met such a fate in the mountains in Mada`in Saleh.
We got back to our hotel, had lunch and said good-bye to the hotel staff before setting off for Madinah. It must have been four in the afternoon. Abro wanted to take us to the exact place from where the she-camel had emerged and so we went, thanking him profusely for his knowledge and his skills as a guide. We were in Madinah by 8.30 and back in Jeddah by 1 a.m.
Mada`in Saleh is an excellent place to visit and learn about Saudi Arabiaâ€™s pre-Islamic past. One also can actually walk in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (s). The modern accommodations and good people in the area will welcome visitors who, I suspect, will hope as I do to return.
For those who are interested in a trip to Mada`in Saleh, Obaidullah Abro can be reached at 0502509688. His firm also organizes field trips for schoolchildren. The manager of the Mada`in Saleh Hotel, Asghar Baig Younes, can be reached on 04-8842888. The hotelâ€™s e-mail address is: email@example.com. –
Mawlid Fills Hearts of IIK Worshippers with Love for Prophet (s)
Dearbornâ€”April 15â€”The Islamic Institute of Knowledge (IIK) in Dearborn celebrated the blessed birth of our holy Prophet (s) this past weekend at a very popular meeting attended by about a hundred Muslims who sang praises and rejoiced at his coming into this world with the message that is the light of our lives.
The event was by open-invitation to the community. There were three main speakers at the event, being Imam Abdul Latif Berry, Imam Baquir Berry (the son of Imam Abdul Latif Berry), and the Chairman of the IIK, Dr. Ali Sobh.
The elder Imam Berry spoke on the importance of education, emphasizing that the first revealed verse was â€œIqra,â€ read. He also spoke on world events, discussing the impact of Islam on those events, and saying that it is important for Muslims to be educated, to participate in politics, education, and the media. In support of this he quoted Qur`an and `ahadith.
Imam Baquir Berry and Dr. Sobh echoed this theme, the first saying that those closest to God are those who are well-educated, and the doctor emphasizing the hadith to â€œseek knowledge even if it is in China.â€ Imam Baquir Berry said that it is important to raise children in the ethnical and moral way that Islam was founded on. There were many children at the event, and one of the speakers mentioned a hadith that when your children look at you with love in their eyes, it is as if you are paying charity. Candy bags and balloons were given to the children to make them happy on the blessed occasion of the birth of the holy Prophet (s).
Womenâ€™s Mawlid at IIK Dearborn Heights
April 12â€”The women of several mosques gathered at the IIK to celebrate Mawlid together on Friday. About 75 women were in attendance at the event, at which Imam Baquir Berry spoke.
The event began with a brunch of fruit and other nice food. Then Imam Baquir Berry spoke.
He spoke on different issues of how Prophet (s) wasâ€”as a role model, how forgiving and compassionate and understanding he was. He spoke for a few minutes.
Then two women, Linda and Hanan, read anthems or songs of praise including Talaâ€™al Badru â€˜Alayna and other songs. A first-grade class from the neighboring Islamic academy also sang songs of praise for Prophet (s).
Following this, the ladies had a raffle event, for which they competed in answering questions about the life of Prophet Muhammad (s) and Companions, wives and descendantsâ€”the winners receiving different prizes.
Hajja Khalida Beydoun, when asked about the event, quoted a hadith of Prophet (s) that â€œLive howsoever you like but you will surely die; love whatsoever you like but you will surely depart from it; do whatsoever you like but you will certainly meet it (and receive its reward). The honor of a Muslim believer is his midnight prayers, and his nobility is his refraining from ruining the reputations of people.â€
Cantonâ€”April 15â€”A packed house greeted IIKâ€™s Imam Baquir Berry this past weekend in celebration of Shiâ€™a-Sunni unity.
This event was held at the Canton Mosque, the Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs, on 40440 Palmer Avenue, in Canton. This mosque is a huge and sprawling center with a large mosque, cafeteria, and school, with until now signs of recent constructionâ€”unfinished landscaping and some building debris close to the mosque.
About 130 people were in attendance in total, roughly evenly split between men and women. MCWS is primarily considered, in its communityâ€™s eyes, as a south-Asian mosque composed of peoples from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.
The evening began with words of welcoming and an introduction of the evenings main speakers, firstly MCWSâ€™s own imam, Shaykh Ali Suleman Ali, and then of the visiting imam, the guest of honor at the evening, Shaykh Baquir Berry, the son of Imam Abdul Latif Berry and an imam in his own right at the Islamic Institute of Knowledge in Dearborn. Their topic, chosen by the mosque, was â€œShiâ€™a-Sunni relationsâ€”how to keep unity.â€
Imam Berry spoke first at the behest of MCWS. He said that he was impressed by MCWS, and reflected that it is the result of 100 years of hard work by Muslim immigrants to this country. He quoted an ayah of Qur`an that Allah made Muslims the best nation to grace human beings. He said that Allah made this ummah appear as the best. He said that Prophet (s) had one mission, which Imam Baquir Berry emphasized was to lead people from â€œdhulumaty `ila nurâ€ to guide people from darkness to light.
In view of this single mission that Prophet (s) did, we must continue his work of bringing guidance and nur to humanity. He said that in order to accomplish this we must work, hand in hand with other Muslimsâ€”by means of this ayah he emphasized the importance for all Muslims of all different forms of practice to come together to further this message.
He emphasized Prophetâ€™s (s) example of bringing brotherhood between people by means of pairing the ansar with the muhajiroon. He emphasized that although the Companions disagreed over things at times, they would set aside their disagreements in light of their respect for and love of the Holiest Messenger (s).
He emphasized that we should, firstly, focus on this overriding mission rather than on the minor differences between Sunni and Shiâ€™a, and secondly, that we should come closer together in order to know one another because just opening enough knowledge to bridge gaps of ignorance will solve by itself many problems.
He minimized differences of practice between Sunni and Shiâ€™a, saying that even the differences between the Jaâ€™fari madhhab and the Sunni madhahib is not that much, and emphasizing that the founders of the madhahib used to keep mutual respect and used to pray behind each other without disputing differences of practiceâ€”even following the practices of another madhhabâ€™s imam when in his presence rather than arguing with him.
Imam Ali Suleman Ali also emphasized similar issues. Imam Ali is a Ph.D. holder who received his doctorate from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
He emphasized that in his early days in Michigan, decades ago, he and other Sunni imams including Shaykh Musa, now of the Bloomfield Unity Center, used to visit Shaykh Berryâ€™s father on Fridays and sit and joke together and spend pleasant time with one another.
He said that in fact there are no problems between Sunni and Shiâ€™a here in the US, but that historically there have been some differences. He said we should bury these issues and focus on whatâ€™s good for Muslims as a community. He emphasized shahada, of clinging to â€œhablil Lah jamiâ€™an,â€ and emphasized that there are many efforts today to divide Muslims based on sex, race, and differences of practice and belief like Sunni and Shiâ€™a.
He thanked Shaykh Berry for coming, and emphasized several definite plans for Sunni Shiâ€™a cooperation in the immediate future.
In their questions and answers the people of the mosque asked questions for which there are not easy and clear-cut answers, (1) trying to establish universal acceptance of an â€˜ied day, (2) to establish that Sunni and Shiâ€™a zabiha-halal meat is mutually acceptable (Shaykh Ali said unequivocally that Shiâ€™a zabiha halal meat is acceptable for Sunnis), (3) how to prevent the terrible division between Sunnis and Shiâ€™a in Iraq from spreading here and to other places (Shaykh Berry said that in fact America is the shining example for the rest of the Muslim world, because we have held so many mutual Sunni-Shiâ€™a gatherings since the terrible Samarra boming, and Shaykh Ali said that no Muslim could have bombed that shrine), (4) what we can do as Muslims to come together (Shaykh Berry said that religious people are open to come together, but that some people in the community are not religious and therefore not open to relations with people of different ethnicities), (5) asked whether Sunnis and Shiâ€™a can pray behind each other.
Shaykh Berryâ€™s response to this last question was very nicely worded, emphasizing again that the founders of the madhahib used to show respect to one another by following the rulings of the other major jurists when in their presence in order to show respect and mutual love and honor, and would pray behind one another even in a manner out of keeping with their own practices for the sake of mutual respectâ€”therefore we also should adhere to this practice of mutual respect despite differences of opinion and law.