August 29, 2010
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Al-Tabari narrates in Tārīkh’l-Tabari (4/72):
Fātimah the wife of ‘Umar b. ‘Abd’l-‘Azīz said about his illness, “That night, his shivering became uncontrollable and he couldn’t sleep, so we kept a vigil over him and didn’t sleep either. In the morning, I told a servant of his known as Marthad, “O Marthad, stay with the Amīr’l-Mu’minīn and if he has any single need then at least you are at hand.”
We left and fell into a deep sleep due to the previous night spent awake. It was well into the day once we awoke and we went to see (‘Umar) and found Marthad sleeping outside the house. I woke him up and said, “What are you doing outside Marthad?!”
Marthad replied, “He told me to get out! He said to me, “Marthad, leave me! By Allāh, I see something which is neither human or jinn!”
When I came out, I heard him recite:
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآَخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
We grant the Home in the Hereafter to those who do not seek superiority on earth or spread corruption: the happy ending is awarded to those who are mindful of God. (al-Qasas, 83)
So I entered the room again and I saw his face turned and his eyes were closed. He had passed away.””
May Allāh have mercy upon him.
August 28, 2010
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Abu Eesa Niamatullah – The Message of Islam, August 28th 2010
Okay, so I made the last name up myself seeing as everyone else is doing it, but it’s certainly no worse than the other two!
Despite actually being officially known as “Cordoba House”, the first name of the “Ground Zero Mosque” was a right-wing creation fed to the USA by some parts of the media which helped to create the frenzy that has now become mainstream news all over the world. I’m not going to bore you with a story that all of you know but in summary it seems many Americans are very worried, insulted and scared (choose any one or all three) about this building at 45-51 Park Place, Manhattan, going up near Ground Zero posing as an Islamic centre thingamajig.
The centre’s advisors by naming it “Cordoba House” clearly didn’t anticipate that some Americans would read in to such a title: war, murder, treason, taqiyyah, domination, consolidation, the Khilafah and then finally the Muslims taking over the United States of Absurdity.
Clearly a Mosque at such a location would make people suspicious of what goes on inside, especially as those guilty Muslims might be up to: secret military research, creating weapons of mass destruction, hatching assassination plots, developing loads of conspiracy theories etc. Obviously.
So what did the advisors do? They changed the name to Park51.
Yes. You heard it right first time. Of all the million alternatives they could have chosen to reduce tensions, they named the building Park51. Like that’s going to stop the haters? The advisers name the new Islamic centre after the most secretive and controversial area in the entire country – Area 51 – and they thought that’s good PR? Are you like kidding me?!
Of all the numbers from 45-51, they chose the one number which represents Aliens, Roswell, Time Machines, WMDs, the Ark of the Covenant, the X-Files, and virtually every other official secret, scheme and freaky thing or idea that the universe contains. All hidden deep inside Area 51.
So that’s alright then from a new PR angle, because now all Americans will think that the Muslims inside are getting up to: secret military research, creating weapons of mass destruction, hatching assassination plots, developing loads of conspiracy theories etc.
You just couldn’t make it up.
In fairness though you could have named the centre the “Teletubbies Mosque” or the “Big Apple Islamic Centre” and someone would find a suicide bomber link somewhere.
But enough of the jokes because some of the world’s best have had a field day with this topic, notwithstanding the brilliant Jon Stewart, our own Charlie Brooker and about a thousand other commentators who are thanking God that some real life quality comedic material has come their way for free. Actually no, at the cost of Muslims. Again.
Yes, there is a serious point to this entire discussion, most excellently summed up in my opinion by the tireless Keith Olbermann in his own unique way. Put simply, America has to change its constitution if they don’t want this Islamic centre to go ahead.
In my own personal opinion, I heard about this proposal quite a while back from Daisy Khan and I just assumed that they had polled the local community for their support because it certainly seemed to me at first hearing that it might prove a bit controversial. And they did get general support of course, before freaks like Geller, Palin and the Chai Party Wallahs got involved.
Early on in this saga when I noticed that quite a large number of people were genuinely opposed to the centre (as opposed to just being hate-mongers), I personally thought it would be better that another site was chosen because I genuinely believe that it is fair and correct that if many people in a foreign country or indeed the authorities of said country refuse permission for a new Mosque, then so be it. “I guess we mustn’t grumble, I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.” She said.
But after following this story in a bit more detail, I wish to support the building of this centre. It has now become clear that America needs to ensure that it allows the Muslims behind Park51 to give it their best shot, as both Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama have clearly stated. It would be going against every American value, indeed every Western value, if such a project were to be denied – if the complete freedom of religion is what the West has signed up to then that is what they must also prove, especially if other states or religions wouldn’t do the same. Like I said before, either that or either change the constitution to avoid charges of islamophobia and discrimination.
Likewise it seems that a lot of the opposition noise isn’t as genuine as it may seem, but rather a lot of loud voices busy in their hating and refudiating. Regardless of our religion or background, speaking out against such acts of racial intolerance and/or crimes against the English language must not be left to others.
The final reason why I support this project is because I teach people the value of unity, and that one of the special characteristics of the Muslims of Ahl’l-Sunnah wal-Jamā‘ah (the People of Orthodox Tradition & Community) is that they defend the rights of their brothers and sisters despite their differences. This is a time where unfortunately the Muslim community is under attack, and regardless of who is wrong or right, we shouldn’t be contributing to the voices of hate, even if our own personal opinions and objections against said project are valid. Perhaps we might advise the people behind Park51 in private, but in public they deserve our support because their dream has been hijacked by not just enemies of Muslims, but indeed enemies of the free world. Gosh, I sounded distinctly American there didn’t I? (Shudder!)
Anyway the really ironic thing here in my opinion is that I am extremely doubtful that the Cordoba Initiative and ASMA can raise anywhere near the sums being mentioned for the completion of this project, especially if they are going to restrict themselves to American Muslims only. Many people won’t touch this project with a barge-pole I’m afraid due to the massive negative publicity surrounding it all.
To the Muslim community specifically, I wanted to offer some advice and suggest a few lessons that we can perhaps reflect over during this entire episode.
The first lesson is to reflect over who it really is that the right-wing are hating upon specifically: Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf. You might very well click on the wiki link under his name but let me tell you about him myself.
I’ve known Imam Feisel for a number of years now and I consider him a friend. I’ve lectured at his conferences and I’ve lectured with him at external conferences – he’s one of the nicest and most noble men you will come to meet. And the most infuriating thing about all of this is that the kind of associations that are being created around his name with extremists and links to X, Y and Z yadda yadda is about as far away from the truth as possible. It’d be a million times easier for someone like myself to be made out to be such a bogey man but that’s because I was born carefree like that, don’t usually give a monkeys about what other people think about what I say or do or who I like or dislike, and also because I don’t need to try and convince the entire United States of Absolutely Hard Work to support my $100 million dollar dream centre.
Imam Feisel I can tell you (and as he will proudly tell you himself!) is a Sufi, very liberal and far too “progressive” for my liking as well. I mean progressive in the regressive sense as I like to maintain, about which he of course will beg to differ. Most of the Muslims I roll with on a daily basis would be shocked at his liberalism – what I’m trying to say is that every stereotype you might have of a lovey-dovey fuzzy-wuzzy “sellout” kinda Muslim guy, he’d fit. And I hope I still remain on his Eed card list after that.
But this just goes to show that when it comes to hate, no one is safe; because it isn’t just a hatred of a beard or a niqab which many people mistakenly think, but rather it is the right-wing and xenophobe’s hatred of simply your religious identity.
In fact perhaps worse, it’s racism and intolerance of a horrible kind. Who can possibly forget the tragic killing of a few members of the Sikh community post the 9/11 attacks, just because “they looked the same”? In this kind of environment, anything goes.
This is why what Keith Olbermann stated, should be spread far and wide, and really reflected over. His warning – drawing strength from Pastor Niemöller’s famous words – is a reminder not just to Muslims but a reminder to all people of all religions.
The second lesson I wanted to point out is to realize that post 9/11 it became super-fashionable to criticize the bogey man “Wahabi” entity so that they and all their affiliates and associates – indeed anything or anyone remotely connected to Saudi Arabia or the Ahl’-Hadīth school – became the root cause of every single evil upon God’s green and luscious Earth.
The unfortunate thing was that it came from a number of Muslims, most sadly – and let me be frank here – by a few extreme (and perhaps some not so extreme) leaders and spokesmen associated with the Muslim Sufi community. Yes, sad, because these were from Muslims within the Sunni fraternity.
Then as things started to move on, the “progressive” or “modernist” movements started to take shape, characterized by their ultra-liberalism, distortion of traditional texts and orthodoxy, topped off with an unhealthy obsession of blaming all the world’s new evils on any Muslim group – be it the Wahabis, the Salafis, the Sufis or just Mango Kulfis. In fact, very few Muslims that were associated with the word “Sunni” have been able to escape their misguided wrath and secretly funded agendas.
If the haters can ruin such a man’s life such as Imam Feisal, then believe me they can do the same and much worse to any other Muslim from the dazzling array of Islamic groups and sects that are out there living in the West, proving once and for all that the story of the white bull will come back to haunt you one day whether you like it or not.
So the final moral of the story: we must stick together and stop selling our brothers and sisters out who are trying to practice their Deen peacefully in the West, despite our slight jurisprudential and theological differences.
This reminder also goes to all those who used to be from our good and close people who are under pressure to change their Deen during such difficult times and jump ship to failed and humiliated organisations and ideologies such as the Quilliam Foundation or Hargey’s MECO or the Canadian Muslim Congress or Schwartz’s Centre of Islamic Pluralism – it’s better to feel a bit of pressure now rather than to fold up and dissolve away. We must stick to our religious principles because this was exactly what gave our Deen its respected image in the first place. Once we lose this, we have become like some of the Christian groups that have now disappeared off the face of the Earth, in fact there will be nothing left for us. Those who stand firm now, remain as beacons for the future, and not just for the Muslims but for humanity in general.
And if it takes a bit of shenanigans in the USA to make Muslims realize and reflect upon this point then my concluding words of this piece should aptly be:
God Bless America.
August 26, 2010
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So finally the first official Niger appeal video focusing on WATER has been prepared by director Lewis Arnold. Check it out and more importantly, HELP out!
August 24, 2010
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With only a week odd left until the last ten and the fact that Laylat’l-Qadr could be any of its odd nights, it’s time to get serious about the quality of our love for the Divine. Start the search for your better self now in time for the big night approaching…
August 22, 2010
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Abu Eesa Niamatullah, The Message of Islam, August 22nd 2010
The great thing about finding the right place for Tarawīh prayers during Ramaḍān is the opportunity to deeply reflect upon verses of the Qur’ān that you might not hear every day, recited in a slightly more quicker fashion than normal which also adds that little bit more reality to the occasion too. Often, in the normal obligatory prayers, the Imām might recite so slowly – in fact too slowly with more focus being on Tajwīd etc – that one starts to enjoy more the voice and musical sound as opposed to reflect instead about what is actually being said, and indeed finds it more difficult to remember the previous verse so as to give context and feeling to the current verse being recited.
It was quite ironic that my Tarawīh reflection tonight as the verses were being recited (I’m currently at a place which is doing only half a juz’ a day, and so we’ve only just got to Ṣūrat’l-Mā’idah!) was none other than the verse of the moment:
“We prescribed for them therein: A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear and a tooth for a tooth; and for wounds, an equal retaliation. But, if one forgives it, then that will be expiation for him. Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed are doing grave wrong.” (al-Mā’idah, 45)
This story below of a Saudi judge trying to ensure that just the spinal cord is severed as part of a Qiṣāṣ (I prefer the translation “fair retribution”) case has unfortunately caused many Muslims to make ignorant and pathetic statements against their own religion, a fact made all the worse because it is only done in response to the sensitivities being offended of those who don’t accept any verses of the Qur’ān, let alone those verses which might be more gory in nature. Which begs the question: exactly how much more of the Qur’ān will such Muslims throw behind their backs as well?
Amnesty International has urged Saudi authorities to stop any attempt to medically paralyse a man as a judicial punishment.
A Saudi judge is reported to have asked hospitals if it is possible to cut the spinal cord of the man, found guilty of paralysing another man in a fight.
Amnesty said intentionally paralysing someone would constitute torture.
Under Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, retribution sentences can include eye-gouging and, for murder, beheading.
“We urge the Saudi Arabian authorities not to carry out such a punishment, which amounts to nothing less than torture,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, of Amnesty International.
“While those guilty of a crime should be held accountable, intentionally paralysing a man in this way would constitute torture and be a breach of its international human rights obligations.”
The UK-based human rights group quoted reports that a court in the north-western town of Tabuk had approached a number of hospitals enquiring about a spinal operation.
The man in question has already been sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment for the offence, which happened more than two years ago, Amnesty said.
The brother of the victim told the Associated Press news agency that the injuries had been caused in a fight involving a meat cleaver.
He said his brother, who was left paralysed and later lost a foot, had asked a judge in Tabuk to impose an equivalent punishment on his attacker under Islamic law.
Correspondents say the case highlights attempts by Saudi Arabia to balance religious traditions with a push to modernise the country.
The verses concerning Qiṣāṣ and the Hudūd (prescribed punishments) do confuse many people so let me just say briefly concerning Qiṣāṣ in particular that firstly, Allāh ‘azza wa jall never wishes at the first instance for people to punish and retaliate against each other as has been made manifestly clear by His statement, “But, if one forgives it, that will be an expiation for him” as well as His statement in Ṣūrat’l-Baqarah, “But if the culprit is pardoned by his aggrieved brother, this shall be adhered to fairly, and the culprit shall pay what is due in a good way. This is an alleviation from your Lord and an act of mercy” meaning that the original criminal has been let off and you as the injured party will have your sins erased for such a noble act.
This is what the original status quo is i.e. to pardon the assailant. And this is no doubt whatsoever what the Judge will have begged the claimant’s family to do (I know some Sharī‘ah Court Judges personally, have seen Qadhā’ in action, and this is exactly what happens). And folks, I really do mean beg – with everything possible exhorting to forgiveness and mercy found in the Qur’ān and Sunnah. To witness this happening in a court can actually be quite an emotionally overwhelming experience.
This is of course the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as narrated by Anas b. Mālik (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu) who said, “Never was a case of retaliation ever raised to the Prophet except that he would order the claimants to pardon (the assailant).” (Abū Dāwūd)
And likewise this was the Sunnah of the Companions afterwards as well – despite the fact that many of the narrations that describe the reward for the one who pardons in such a manner are actually considered to be dha‘īf (weak) – yet the consensus of the Muslim nation is upon the fact that one should try and encourage the claimant to forgive and pardon his assailant at the very least from having to take retribution against him by causing a similar injury. This is generally supported by a number of encouragements from the Qur’ān and Sunnah, for example as Allāh ‘azza wa jall says in Ṣūrat Āle-‘Imrān (v. 134), “Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the righteous; those who give, both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger and pardon people. God loves those who do good.”
Similarly the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Wealth is not diminished by giving in charity, the one who pardons is not increased except in honour, and one doesn’t humble himself in front of Allāh except that Allāh will raise him.” (Muslim)
It should be made clear here that there is discussion amongst the Fuqahā’ that if such a blow was delivered by the injured party against the original assailant (such as with a meat cleaver!) and of course it is near-impossible to recreate the exact same spinal injury inflicted by the same kind of blow, then Qiṣāṣ is not an option anymore and blood money is insisted upon instead. In fact it would be fair to say that the majority of the scholars hold that if someone suffers any internal injury in an attack, the judge cannot offer Qiṣāṣ to the claimant’s family because of the uncertainty and risk involved of further and greater injury than that incurred in the first place.
I would contend that it is rather unfortunate not to say this judge in question actually receive more praise for taking his job so seriously. It would have been far easier for him to just say, “This is a seriously complicated internal injury in which there’s no way of having exact fair retribution for so I rule for blood money!”
Said statement would have been the norm from the scholars a thousand years ago but what the judge is investigating is whether our current medical advancements allow for an exact replication of the injury in question, which is in essence the exact letter of the law – a law which is to be found still today in the Old Testament and has been maintained for the Muslims to follow until the Final Day. And what must be remembered is that the judge has gone to all this effort solely in pursuit of justice for the injured party for it is his right to forgo blood money and choose the exact same horrific injury that has ruined his life upon the assailant despite the fact that to pardon would be better.
In summary then: the judge is quite right Islamically to explore the possibility of establishing the desire of the claimant for the letter of the law if the claimant has rejected the spirit of the law. And we likewise should respect that.
And it’s for that final reason that I felt compelled to write this piece: respect. As Muslims we should respect our scholars more than what some detractors and antagonists would like us to do. It is a very serious issue to question people’s intentions without the full facts or to do so from a position of ignorance of Islamic Law.
Yet it is altogether far worse to disrespect and question the authenticity and finality of God’s word in His final Book gifted to mankind to lift them from their darkness into the light of guidance. And all because of what? Because one is being made to feel uncomfortable about the divine nature of one’s faith due to the dissatisfaction of those who couldn’t care a single jot about faith in the first place. That truly is shameful and a measly price and reason to sell one’s religion for!
Let me in closing gently remind my brothers and sisters of what Allāh jalla wa ‘alā told the Jewish nation in the verse preceding our Qiṣāṣ verse that we’re looking at, which could very well be a wake-up call to us as well:
“So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers.” (al-Mā’idah, 44)
August 19, 2010
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We mustn’t forget the massive effort by the Uni of California to pass a bill of divestment against Israel and change the status quo; we should never let up in this battle for justice for the Palestinians, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do, you can always help make a difference…
BDS campaign: hopes and disappointments at UC Berkeley
by Humza Tahir
On March 18th this year, the University of California at Berkeley became the first major University in the USA to pass a bill that requires the divestment of university funds from companies that “materially support or profit from Israel’s occupation” of the Palestinian territories. The historic bill came after a long campaign by students to have the university sign up to the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was a call on behalf of 171 Palestinian civil society organisations calling on people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel “until it fully complies with the precepts of international law”. While similar bills have been passed at universities around the world, including, in the UK, the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, the current bill was undoubtedly the largest success of the campaign so far in the US.
The senate meeting to discuss the bill attracted unprecedented levels of interest, with the meeting having to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate people. The meeting, which began at 9pm on Wednesday the 17th of March, also went past the usual cut-off time of 1.30am and finally ended at 4am early on Thursday morning. The meeting had to be extended to accommodate the 76 speakers who argued both for and against the bill and also for the senators to discuss proposed amendments to the original bill. The speakers ranged from undergraduate students to Vietnam War veterans, rabbis and church ministers. Israeli and Palestinian nationals also took part. The bill garnered support from Israeli and Jewish voices, not least from one of the bill’s co-authors, Tom Pessah, a Jewish citizen of Israel. After some amendments, the bill was passed on a 16-4 vote.
The bill’s authors were both members of the UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which had been working on a divestment campaign from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine since 2000. UC Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine played a central role in researching the legal issues and the international laws pertaining to Israeli human rights violations. The bill provided references from reputable international sources such as Amnesty International and the United Nations to construct its compelling case of persistent and deliberate human rights violations by Israel against both the Palestinians in Gaza and the West bank and Lebanon.
One of the main charges against the bill was that it unfairly singled-out Israel but ignores other countries that also commit war crimes and human rights abuses. However, as pointed out by the bill’s authors and many of the supporters who spoke at the meeting, both South Africa and the Sudan have had similar bills passed against them in the past. The concern was also specifically addressed in amendments made to the bill before it was passed so that it included the call for future action against all companies that aid human rights abuses the world over.
The bill specifically named and targeted two companies, General Electric and United Technologies for providing military technology used against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians during recent military campaigns. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. The bill also made the provision for future divestments from other companies that are shown to have participated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. In this respect Morocco and Congo were two other countries named in the bill as committing war crimes and benefiting from UC investments and a committee was to be set up to monitor and promote university progress in divesting from companies that take part in these countries’ abuses.
According to Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, co-author of the bill, “this vote is an historic step in holding all state and corporate actors accountable for their violations of basic human rights. The broad cross-section of the community that came out to demand our university invest ethically belies the notion that the American people will tolerate the profiting from occupation or other human rights abuses.”
While Hampshire College in Amherst, MA became the first US educational institution to divest from companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 2009, an action also advocated by the SJP; the reputation and standing of Berkeley is such that this bill garnered much more national and international coverage, and so was a hugely important step for the BDS campaign.
And yet, a week after the vote, and after a sustained period of lobbying from both sides, the student body president, Will Smelko, vetoed the bill on the basis that “It is the role of the ASUC to balance all voices, perspectives, and views in the most fair, honest, ethical, and comprehensive way possible.” This definition of “fair” and “ethical” disregarded previous precedents of divestment against South Africa and Sudan, not to mention the fact that the bill targeted US weapons companies. Ultimately, in the name of “fairness”, the democratic will of the majority was ignored.
Proponents of the bill attempted to get the veto overturned in two further senate meetings that both went on the entire night. Attended by over 300 people on each occasion, both sides brought in high profile speakers to articulate their case. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were present in force and the Israeli Consul General also attended and spoke in defence of his country, and declared the bill to be against a peaceful resolution of the occupation; significantly, using the word “occupation” in relation to Israel’s military presence in the West Bank.
The pro divestment campaign called upon statements from international figures such as the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Noam Chomsky, the writer and activist Noami Klein and four former Nobel Peace prize laureates. There was also moving testimony from Hedy Epstein, an 85-year-old holocaust survivor who pleaded with the senate to back divestment to help prevent the human rights crimes committed by the state of Israel. Testimony was also provided by a phone link with Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, who spoke about the experiences he had witnessed of human rights abuses committed by Israel in the occupied territories and Lebanon. Campus support included a diverse grouping of over 40 student organisations including, amongst others, the Muslim, Sikh, Philipino, Arab, Iranian and Afghan Student Associations, the Queer Alliance and Resource Centre, Berkeley Stop the War Coalition and the Hispanic Engineers and Scientists. The bill also had the support of 114 University of California faculty members and also over 40 off-campus support organisations including Jewish Voices for Peace and Gush Shalom.
In the month that passed between the first meeting and the second the senators who voted for the bill were subjected to intense lobbying from the anti-divestment pro Zionist lobby. This lead to two senators who had previously voted for divestment to change their vote and, crucially, one senator changed her vote to abstain, citing a threat to campus harmony and inadequate knowledge of the situation to make a decision. The bill thus failed to garner the required 14 votes in the senate, falling just one short, a feat only achieved through the anti-majoritarian veto by the student body president and a well financed lobbying campaign putting pressure on three senators whose votes proved decisive.
At the end of the third and final meeting where the veto was upheld, hundreds of students walked out of the meeting with tape over their mouths and their left fist raised in the air. The tape represented the silencing of their views and, as put by Senator Rahul Patel, their raised fists symbolised “The seeds of truth and freedom that we have sowed tonight.” The students reconvened outside to share their feelings about the vote and pledge to keep working towards divestment.
While the bill was ultimately vetoed, the movement gained massive media coverage and sparked similar divestment campaigns across University of California campuses. The student association at UC San Diego is currently debating such a bill and more will follow. The current battle may have been lost but the Boycott and Divestment Strategy has gathered an immense amount of support and momentum and the prospect of divestment across University campuses throughout North America is now an achievable goal. As put by UC Berkeley and SJP alum Sophia Ritchie speaking after the veto: “Something has shifted — in the discourse, in the sheer numbers of people who are concerned, in the solidarity work and coalition building amongst a broad and truly diverse range of student and community groups, in the energy around Palestine — that cannot be ignored. In this way, we are winning.” Just as the movement against Apartheid South Africa took time but was ultimately successful, it is no longer a matter of if but when student groups and organisations will stand up for innocent Palestinian civilians against the serial human rights violations of the state of Israel.
For more information see:
Humza Tahir is an academic and activist. He is a post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkely and is involved in the University’s BDS campaign.
August 16, 2010
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Get it all from here at the 1st Ethical CT site including a short video webtorial, a simple pdf guide and an online calculator too.
August 12, 2010
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Tarawih Recitation: A Message to all Imams
Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad, Islam21c
Imāms should respect the Qur’ān when leading the Tarāwīḥ Prayer
All praises be to Allah and may the blessings and salutation be upon his messenger Muhammad.
The greatest favour bestowed upon humanity is the revelation of the Qur’ān as it is the only way human beings can be in continuous touch with their Creator. People can easily measure their level of attachment to their Lord by measuring their level of attachment to the Qur’ān – recitation, study and contemplation of it.
This divine writ was not revealed to be a book of hymns for aural enjoyment, but instead as a book of guidance, for Allāh says in the Qur’ān, “(This is) a Book (the Qur’ān) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may remember.” As the Qur’ān is the unique and inimitable speech of Allāh, reciting it is a tremendous act of worship. However, its reward and comprehensive benefit can only be achieved once we put into practice what we understand. In fact, not putting enough attention to understanding the Qur’ān is condemned as Allāh the Most High says, “Do they not then think deeply about the Qur’ān, or are there locks upon their hearts (from understanding it?)” Many early scholars also condemned those who read the Qur’ān without putting enough effort into understanding it, for example, it is narrated from Ibn Masʽūd that he said, “Do not scatter it (i.e., recitation of the Qur’ān) like the scattering of cheap dates, and do not ramble with it like the rambling of poetry. Stop at its marvels and stir your heart with it. None of you should let his concern be to reach the end of the chapter.”
The way many Imāms recite during the Tarāwīḥ prayer is inexcusable and should be condemned in the strongest of ways by the people of knowledge, and in fact, any individual who respects the words of God. These Imāms recite the Qur’ān as if they are competing with the allocated time in order to finish the set amount and be rid of a heavy burden placed on their shoulders. In listening to some of them it is extremely difficult to make out what they are saying, whilst simultaneously, they make constant mistakes. There are reports of some mosques completing both twenty rak‘ah (units) of the Tarāwīḥ prayer and a whole juz’ of the Qur’ān in thirty minutes. This means that each rak‘ah takes ninety seconds in which one page of the Qur’ān is recited! What justification can such Imāms (and consequently the committees of such mosques) possibly give?
I would like to pose the following question to individuals who legitimize such conduct and deem it acceptable: Imagine that you are standing before God and that He is looking at you while you are praying, do you think Allāh is happy seeing and hearing His words read in this manner without giving them their due rights in terms of recitation and contemplation? Furthermore, I wonder if any of these Imāms or committee members are bold enough to allege that the Prophet would endorse this kind of prayer.
This kind of recitation is exactly what has been condemned by many of the scholars of the early generation. In fact, of one the characteristics of the Khawārij, a deviant sect, the Prophet informed us of is that their recitation of the Qur’ān will not go beyond their throats, i.e., they only pay lip-service to it; we should be very concerned not to have this trait within us. It was reported that Abῑ Jamrah, a scholar of the second generation, informed Ibn ʽAbbās that he recited very quickly and read the Qur’ān in three days, Ibn ʽAbbās replied by saying. ‘That I recite al-Baqarah in a night and reflect on it and reciting it slowly is more beloved to me than to recite in the manner you mention.’
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy on him) summarised what the Muslim has to do in order to remedy the hardness of his heart with the Qur’ān. He said, ‘There is nothing more beneficial for the heart than reading the Qur’ān with contemplation and reflection. The Qur’ān encompasses all the levels of the travelers, the conditions of the workers, and stations of those possessing knowledge. It is the Qur’ān that generates love, desire, fear, hope, repentance, reliance, pleasure, entrustment, gratitude, patience and the rest of the different states that are life to the heart and perfection of it. Likewise, it repels all the rebuked characteristics and actions that cause the corruption and ruin of the heart. If people were to possess a realization of what the recitation of the Qur’ān with contemplation contains, they would devote themselves to it at the expense of everything else. When the person reads it with reflection and he comes across an āyah (verse) that he is in need of for curing his heart, he repeats it, even if he does so a hundred times or the whole night. Hence, to recite a single āyah of the Qur’ān with contemplation and reflection is better than reciting the Qur’ān to completion without any contemplation. It is also more beneficial for the heart and more conducive to attaining īmān (faith) and tasting the sweetness of the Qur’ān.’
The Prophet used to read in a very slow style and stop at verses that mention paradise or the hell fire. Once he repeated the verse where Allāh says ‘If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise’ for the whole night. Muhammad Ibn al-Kaʽb al-Quraẓῑ (d. 120H) preferred to read Sūrah al-Zalzalah and al-Qāriʽah and repeat them a number of times over reading the whole Qur’ān in a very hasty way. Imām Abū Ḥanῑfah once kept repeating Sūrah al-Zalzalah for the whole night.
Many of our acts of worship (ʽibādāt) have lost their spirit and have been transformed into meaningless ritual images where the focus is on completing them irrespective of whether they leave an impact on our souls or not and if they were perfected or at least performed in a truly satisfactory manner. That is why our worship does not change us for the better; our commitment to the dīn (religion/way of life) of Allāh is very weak and our willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Allāh is even more so – our morals and manners are not improving. Many of us want to be rid of the Tarāwīḥ prayer, no matter how it is offered. Humility, tranquility and reflection are insignificant elements for such Muslims. This is the opposite of what Allāh wants from us; we have removed the very elements from our acts of worship that have been purposely placed there to better us and focus instead on quantity rather quality – for those of us who have any focus at all.
I believe it is time we should put a stop to this and mend our relationship with the Qur’ān as Allāh has commanded: “O mankind! There has come to you a good advice (i.e. the Qur’ān) from your Lord, and a healing for that (diseases of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences, etc.) in your breasts, – a guidance and a mercy for the believers.”
I call upon committee members and Imāms to seek the pleasure of Allah and not the pleasure of their congregation. I call upon Muslims to advice such Imāms and committee members who do not manifest enough respect to the Qur’ān and to consider appointing other Imāms who recite according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We should also remember that completing twenty Rak’ah or even the whole Qur’an during Tarāwīḥ is not compulsory, yet listening to it attentively and reciting it with moderate speed is. If the Tarāwīḥ prayer has to be completed in a specific time, then the amount set to be recited should be reduced so that a better quality of worship is achieved.
I ask Allah to guide us all to follow His Book and the Sunnah of his Messenger and to pardon our shortcomings for He is the Oft-Forgiving Oft-Pardoning.
Sūrah Ṣād, 38:29
Sūrah Muḥammad, 47:24
Reported in various places such as Akhlāq Ḥamalah al-Qurʽān by al-Ājurrῑ and al-Baghawῑ in his Tafsῑr.
Sūrah al-Mā’idah, 5:118
Reported by Ibn Abī Shaybah and Aḥmad in his Musnad.
August 4, 2010
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As pieces of writing go – and Warren Buffett is renowned for his literary skill – this has to be one of the best and most stylish short letters I have ever read. Sheer class. I’ve read it ten times already and there’s not a single thing I disagree with in what he has said.
As for the spirit behind the pledge (yeah yeah, cheap shot I know but I couldn’t resist that one folks!), then sure most of this money was earned in a haram fashion and you couldn’t find a better example of someone who uses and abuses the Economy, but he’s preceded plenty of other Muslims with equally dubiously-sourced mega-dollars who could learn a lesson from Buffett’s and Gates’ dream.
My Philanthropic Pledge – Warren Buffett
In 2006, I made a commitment to gradually give all of my Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations. I couldn’t be happier with that decision.
Now, Bill and Melinda Gates and I are asking hundreds of rich Americans to pledge at least 50% of their wealth to charity. So I think it is fitting that I reiterate my intentions and explain the thinking that lies behind them.
First, my pledge: More than 99% of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death. Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day.
Millions of people who regularly contribute to churches, schools, and other organizations thereby relinquish the use of funds that would otherwise benefit their own families. The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge.
Moreover, this pledge does not leave me contributing the most precious asset, which is time. Many people, including — I’m proud to say — my three children, give extensively of their own time and talents to help others. Gifts of this kind often prove far more valuable than money. A struggling child, befriended and nurtured by a caring mentor, receives a gift whose value far exceeds what can be bestowed by a check. My sister, Doris, extends significant person-to-person help daily. I’ve done little of this.
What I can do, however, is to take a pile of Berkshire Hathaway stock certificates — “claim checks” that when converted to cash can command far-ranging resources — and commit them to benefit others who, through the luck of the draw, have received the short straws in life. To date about 20% of my shares have been distributed (including shares given by my late wife, Susan Buffett). I will continue to annually distribute about 4% of the shares I retain. At the latest, the proceeds from all of my Berkshire shares will be expended for philanthropic purposes by 10 years after my estate is settled. Nothing will go to endowments; I want the money spent on current needs.
This pledge will leave my lifestyle untouched and that of my children as well. They have already received significant sums for their personal use and will receive more in the future. They live comfortable and productive lives. And I will continue to live in a manner that gives me everything that I could possibly want in life.
Some material things make my life more enjoyable; many, however, would not. I like having an expensive private plane, but owning a half-dozen homes would be a burden. Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.
My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.
The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.
August 3, 2010
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So then all you Premier League Football Chumps, here’s the new Fantasy League to join where we shall solemnly commit to war on a daily basis for the rest of the season: the AE Chumpions League. Use the code: 445971-109766.
Fantasy Premier League – Click Here
Thanks to Lewis for setting it up, yes it’s FREE (you stingy bunch of WAGs), a prize will be given for the eventual winner, haters please stay away and don’t even try leaving a comment or face certain death by football asphyxiation, and please expect no quarter to be given to friend, foe or woman. Oh and I’ll give you all you losers a few weeks head-start when I get busy with stuff.
Tell all your friends, spread the love and let the baistee begin…