Mercy to all Mankind


Allah Subhanoho wa-T'ala Says to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) in The Holy Quran:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِين

"And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind." (The Prophets 21:107)

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Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze

{slide=Beautiful or Ugly} 

What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.

By Khalid Baig

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Consider Valentine's Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine's Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for "entertainment and pleasure"--until the next year's lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the "sacred" thongs by these "holy men" was believed to make them better able to bear children.

As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.

The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a "lovers'" saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer's daughter.

Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine's Day cards called--- what else--- valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth--when $5,000 was a lot of money--the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

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{slide=Halloween and Christmas} 

It is the same story with Halloween, which has otherwise normal human beings dressing like ghosts and goblins in a reenactment of an ancient pagan ritual of demon worship. Five star hotels in Muslim countries arrange Halloween parties so the rich can celebrate the superstitions of a distant period of ignorance that at one time even included the shameful practice of human sacrifice. The pagan name for that event was Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Just as in case of Valentine's Day, Christianity changed its name, but not the pagan moorings.

Christmas is another story. Today Muslim shopkeepers sell and shoppers buy Christmas symbols in Islamabad or Dubai or Cairo. To engage in a known religious celebration of another religion is bad enough. What is worse is the fact that here is another pagan celebration (Saturnalia) that has been changed in name ---and in little else--- by Christianity.

Muhammad-the White Cloud of Mercy

Jesus went into the wilderness beyond Jordan with his disciples, and when the midday prayer was done he sat down near to a palm-tree, and under the shadow of the palm-tree his disciples sat down. Then Jesus said: 'So secret is predestination, O brethren, that I say to you, truly, only to one man shall it be clearly known. He it is whom the nations look for, to whom the secrets of God are so clear that, when he comes into the world, blessed shall they be that shall listen to his words, because God shall overshadow them with his mercy even as this palm-tree overshadows us. Yes, even as this tree protects us from the burning heat of the sun, even so the mercy of God will protect from Satan them that believe in that man.'

The disciples answered, "O Master, who shall that man be of whom you speak, who shall come into the world?" Jesus answered with joy of heart: 'He is Muhammad;, Messenger of God, and when he comes into the world, even as the rain makes the earth to bear fruit when for a long time it has not rained, even so shall he be occasion of good works among men, through the abundant mercy which he shall bring. For he is a white cloud full of the mercy of God, which mercy God shall sprinkle upon the faithful like rain.'

Reference: The Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 163

The Ship and the Lifeboats by Khalid Baig

  

The Ship and the Lifeboats

Although the pen and the sword are arrayed against it, Islam is spreading. But there are also problems within the Muslim reawakening.

By Khalid Baig

We are living at a time when the daily news about the world, especially about the Muslim world is quite depressing. In Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places Muslim life, property, and honor have been declared fair game by those who wield worldly power. It is not just armies waging this war. A whole gamut of institutions, from sophisticated research centers to slick media, is dedicated to the campaign to sow doubts, to spreads confusion, and to denigrate Islam. In hot spot after hot spot around the world, the sword is busy prosecuting a war on Islam. The pen is busy in both conducting a war on Islam and in trying to foment a war within Islam. While the unprecedented and unexpected momentum gained by the anti-war movement in the middle of February has given some hope that the mad rush to slaughter may be deflected, overall picture remains grim.

And yet these are also the times when people all over the world are coming to Islam in unprecedented numbers. At a time when Muslims have lost control of the sword and the pen, Islam is finding new followers everywhere everyday. (It is quite revealing that even as Islam continues to spread despite the sword, some people should continue to insist that it spread by the sword. As Qur'an repeatedly reminds us, the opponents of Islam are a very closed-minded lot).

Within the Muslim world also there are signs of awakening. Muslims are coming back to Islam after having toyed with one false ideology after another. Colonialism had hit them hard. It subjugated them physically, politically, economically, culturally, and mentally. An education system that they embraced as a ticket out of their miseries during that period of oppression compounded their problems by producing self-doubt and self-hate. It produced generations of perfect strangers within the house of Islam, who were then --- for this 'achievement' --- given leadership roles in all areas of Muslim societies. They hated their languages, their culture, and their religion. It is such people who rule the Muslim world today.

Yet, the scene is changing. More women are choosing hijab and are becoming more assertive about it as a symbol of their Islamic identity. There is a greater interest in Islamic knowledge. Qur'an lectures are attracting crowds that were not seen in the past. The nature of the questions people ask about Islam is also changing. There are more 'how to' and 'what to' questions than 'why' questions coming from the secular educated groups. The last Biswa Ijtima (annual gathering of Tablighi Jamaat in Bangladesh) attracted some two million attendees. What is more, they came from widely varying segments of society. A parallel growth can be seen in Islamic activism. Politics, media, relief and charity, education, and community service are all attracting new workers and new organizations. There is a new enthusiasm, new energy, and new awareness.

Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind.

But there are also problems within this awakening. The period of colonialism was a big crash in which our ship was destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, survival was the main goal, and people came with whatever lifeboats they could. Now is the time to pick up the pieces and build the ship again. The problem is we have been living in the lifeboats for so long, we are confusing them with the ship. The schools for secular education were one such lifeboat. They imparted some skills necessary for survival in a changed world, although they impoverished Muslim education and society tremendously in so many ways. But today so many well-meaning people who get excited about spreading education in the Muslim world think of nothing more than establishing more of these same schools. Campaigns for 'democracy', whatever it means, were another such lifeboat, aimed at returning control of Muslim affairs to them thereby seeking liberation. Today, democracy or no democracy, nowhere do Muslims have any control over their affairs, but this lifeboat has become a ship and Khilafah, the Islamic system of governance, remains a strange entity. Islamic organizations were such a lifeboat, aimed at gathering like minded people so they could focus their resources and energies on some of the important things. Yet each of them is considered to be the ship by its occupants and captains, thereby creating new lines of cleavage within the Ummah.

There is another issue. Most of our new activism thrives on sincerity, concern and drive but not on knowledge or guidance. There are Islamic relief organizations providing much needed support for the destitute millions. But many do not show a sensitivity to check whether their fund raising methods are Islamic; whether they are distributing the zakat according to Shariah; whether their operation meets the Islamic guidelines. There are organizations focused on media and political activism --- certainly very important fields --- that sometime say things that the media or political establishment they are talking to would like to hear, even if they are totally wrong and un-Islamic. They seem to be doing as much damage as good through ignorance and carelessness.

The same observation can be made about our efforts at spreading Islamic knowledge. It is embarrassing how many of those giving lectures, issuing 'fatwas' (not necessarily calling them so but issuing legal opinions nonetheless), and conducting Qur'an lessons have no qualifications for the job. Yet they find a ready audience among those who confuse eloquence with scholarship.

Our renewed interest in our religion is great but it is good to remember that Islamic revival will not take place through the blind leading the blind. All Islamic work --- whether Dawah, or Jihad, or relief work or political or media activism --- requires guidance from the Shariah, which in turn requires knowledge and understanding. Recognizing the need for such guidance from true scholars is the first step in getting it. The questions we need to ask may not have ready-made answers but that does not justify not asking them or accepting answers from unqualified sources. There is a very good example in the work done in the field of Islamic finance during the last decades. It was the collaboration of religious scholars with experts in economics and finance that produced the body of knowledge today that did not exist before. A similar effort is needed in other fields. Muslim journalists working with scholars can help evolve an Islamic protocol for Journalism. Muslim activists working with scholars can help evolve Islamic protocol for media and political activism. Relief organizations can establish Shariah advisory boards to ensure their operations are within the bounds of Shariah.

Bringing our own house in order is the only response we can and must have to the threats, challenges, and fears we face today.

ref url: http://www.albalagh.net/current_affairs/ship_lifeboats.shtml 

ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION AS DEPICTED IN THE QUR'AN

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The Qur'an on Self-Discipline

Indeed, even if we were to limit ourselves to a discussion of only a portion of what the Qur'an contains by way of self-discipline and morality, much more would be needed than a mere chapter of a book. Suffice it to say, therefore, that no writing has ever called man to do the good works and elevated the virtuous life as the Qur'an has done; that no book has elevated the human soul to the level to which the Qur'an has raised it; and that no book has emphasized virtue, mercy, fraternity and love, cooperation and harmony, charity and kindness, loyalty and trustworthiness, sincerity and good intention, justice and forgiveness, patience and forbearance, humility and submission, virtue and goodness, the commandment to good and the forbiddance of evil with as much power, persuasion, and sublimity as the Qur'an has done. No book has ever spoken against weakness and fear, favoritism and jealously, hatred and injustice, lying and libel, avarice and prodigality, false witness and perjury, aggression and corruption, cheating, treason, and all vice as profoundly and persuasively as the revelation which came to the Arab Prophet. The reader will find no surah in the Qur'an in which the call to virtue, the commandment to good, the forbiddance of evil, and the pursuit of perfection are not central. Every surah raises the reader to the highest level of moral awareness and tension. Let us mark well God's statement regarding tolerance: "Respond to the evil deed with a good one . . . . The good deed is certainly not the equivalent of the evil one. Repel the evil deed with the good one. Instantly, your enemy will be transformed into a warm friend." [Qur'an, 23-96; 41:34] This toleration to which the Qur'an calls, however, does not proceed from weakness but from magnanimity of spirit, a will to compete in good deeds and to avoid lowly ones. God says: "And if you are greeted, respond with a better greeting or, at least, with the same." [Qur'an, 4:86] Further, God says: "And when you punish, inflict the same punishment as was meted out to you. But if you refrain out of patience, it is better for you." [Qur'an, 16:126] All these verses clearly establish that the Islamic call to tolerance is at the same time a call to virtue unspoiled by any weakness. It is indeed the consequence of a self-transcendence that is pure and unalloyed.

Tolerance from strength and virtue, to which the Qur'an calls, is founded upon brotherhood which Islam places at the root of its civilization and which it holds to be absolutely universal. Islamic brotherhood integrates justice and mercy without weakness or sufferance. It arises from equality in right, goodness and virtue, unaffected by utilitarian advantage. Under its aegis, the Muslim prefers his fellows to himself even though they be far inferior to him. He fears God and none other; consequently, the Muslim is the model of pride, dignity, and self-respect. And yet he is the model of humility and modesty. He is truthful and fulfills a covenant once he has entered into it. He is as patient when tragedy strikes as when he receives good fortune and new power. Faced with calamity, he thinks, feels, and prays "We are all God's, and to Him we shall all return." He never abases himself to anyone, and yet he has no false pride. God has protected him against avarice and stinginess when they are directed toward himself. He never reports falsely about God or about His servants; he never approves of adultery and always seeks to avoid transgression and crime. If he ever goes into a rage, he seeks God's mercy and forgiveness, sublimates his rage and fury, and forgives his offenders. He avoids suspicion, spying, and reporting secretly about his fellows. He does not violate the wealth of his fellows, nor allow the rulers to do so unjustly. He stands beyond jealousy, strategy, deceit, gossip, and every kind of misdemeanor.

Short Quotes

Cleanliness is ...

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: 'Cleanliness is half of faith, and [saying] 'Praise be to God' fills the scale, and [saying] 'Glory be to God' and 'Praise be to God' fill up what is between the heavens and the earth, and prayer is a light, and charity is proof [of one's faith], and patience is a brightness, and the Qur'an is a proof for or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, some setting themselves free and others destroying themselves.'(Narrated by Muslim)