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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{slide=Valentine's Day}

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.

Superiority Only in Righteousness


Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) asked people to shun notions of racial, family or any other form of superiority based on mundane things and said that righteousness alone was the criterion of one's superiority over another. It has already been shown how he mixed with everyone on equal terms, how he ate with slaves, servants and the poorest on the same sheet (a practice that is still followed in Arabia), how he refused all privileges and worked like any ordinary labourer. Two instances may, however, be quoted here:

Once the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) visited Saad Bin Abadah. While returning Saad sent his son Quais with him. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) asked Quais to mount his camel with him. Quais hesitated out of respect but the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) insisted: "Either mount the camel or go back." Quais decided to go back. [Abu Dawood]

On another occasion he was travelling on his camel over hilly terrain with a disciple, Uqba Bin Aamir. After going some distance, he asked Uqba to ride the camel, but Uqba thought this would be showing disrespect to the Prophet (s.a.a.w.). But the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) insisted and he had to comply. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) himself walked on foot as he did not want to put too much load on the animal. [Nasai]

The prisoners of war of Badr included Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s.a.a.w.). Some people were prepared to forgo their shares and remit the Prophet's (s.a.a.w.) ransom but he declined saying that he could make no distinctions. [Sahih Bukhari]

During a halt on a journey, the companions apportioned work among themselves for preparing food. The Prophet (s.a.a.w.) took upon himself the task of collecting firewood. His companions pleaded that they would do it and that he need not take the trouble, but he replied,

"It is true, but I do not like to attribute any distinction to myself. Allah does not like the man who considers himself superior to his companions." [Zarqani, Vol. 4 pg. 306)]

by Athar Husain

An excerpt from the book entitled "The Message of Mohammad," by Athar Husain.

http://muslim-canada.org/muhammadatharhusain.html

The Holy Quran on Muhammad (s.a.a.w.)


Some selected verses from the Holy Qur'an about his life, status, morals and manners

compiled by Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad

On one occasion when mother of the faithful, Aisha (radi-Allah Anha) was asked about the morals and manners of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.), she replied: "His morals are the Qur'an." This meant that the Holy Prophet's actions and sayings were a practical commentary of the Holy Qur'an, or, in other words, the Holy Prophet was the embodiment of action based upon the Holy Qur'an.

Read more...

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 Power of Iman

Such is the nature of iman, or religious conviction, to which Islam has called. It has nothing to do with blind faith. Instead, it is involved with the conviction of the enlightened mind, the instructed reason which has considered and weighed the alternatives, pondered and reconsidered the evidence on all sides, researched and rediscovered and finally reached the certainty that God-may He be adored-is. Surely any man who considers the evidence with both heart and reason will be guided to religious conviction. Indeed, the more closely a man looks at the evidence, the longer he contemplates and the larger his scope of investigation becomes so that his awareness considers the whole of time, space, and all the eternally changing universes which they include, the more he will be convinced of his littleness vis-୶is the well patterned, well-ordered, and well-governed worlds, of the shortcoming of his knowledge to grasp them or to enter him into meaningful relation to them without the assistance of a power surpassing his senses and reason, the more capable he will become of defining his place within the total realm of being. All this is the precondition of his entering into relation with the universe and of his encompassing with his consciousness and vision the whole of being. This enlarged vision is the strength given by religious conviction alone.

 

Iman in God

Iman, or religious conviction, then, is a spiritual intuition by which man's consciousness is filled whenever it seeks the universe and realizes that the infinity of space and time is unreachable, and whenever it seeks to encompass all being within itself, realizing that every species in existence lives, changes, and dies in accordance with laws and patterns, and that all existence realizes the divine pattern and fulfills the cosmic laws of its Lord and Creator. To look for God-may He be adored-as immanent in all existence and in contact with it, rather than as absolutely separate from it, is a futile search leading to error rather than to truth, harming rather than blessing the investigator. Moreover, it does not add to man's knowledge. Writers and philosophers have often exhausted themselves seeking evidence for God's immanence without avail, while others have sought to grasp the essence of the Creator Himself-all to no purpose. Some writers and philosophers have acknowledged that the success of such searches are forever impossible.

But if our reason falls short of achieving such knowledge, that very shortcoming can be the source of a greater realization, namely, the certain religious knowledge of God: This certitude of ours that God exists, that He knows, provides for, and governs everything, that He is the Creator, the Forgiver unto Whom everything returns, can also convince us that it cannot ever be possible for us to know the nature of God Himself. If to this day we do not understand the nature of electricity, even though our very eyes have seen its effects, nor the nature of ether, though we grant that its waves or quanta carry sound and light, how vain it is not to accept the existence of God when we constantly behold His original creations and effects, or to go about denying Him until we can know His very nature! God is transcendentally beyond anything anyone may say in description of Him. As a matter of fact, those who try to describe God under one form or another are precisely those whose consciousness is incapable of rising to the level requisite for grasping that which lies beyond human life. It is they who should be accused of seeking to measure being and the Creator of being with their own relative standards gathered from their own little knowledge of being. On the other hand, those who have true knowledge and wisdom will pause at these divine statements: "And when they ask you concerning the Spirit, answer, `The Spirit belongs to God.' Given the little knowledge that you have, your minds must fall short of understanding its nature." [Qur'an, 17:85] The consciousness of such men becomes filled with certitude and conviction regarding the Creator of the Spirit, the Maker of the whole universe. They do not allow themselves to become involved in futile and vain controversy.

 

Short Quotes

Do you not know

 أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللّهَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ

Do you not know that Allah has full power over everything? Do you not know that the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone and that you have neither any protector nor helper beside Him? (last part of 2:106 & 2:107)