Archive | May 19, 2010

Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts 

Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts

By Hwaa Irfan

Al-jihad al-akbar the greater jihad, is the inner battle; the invisible war towards self development and unity of mind, body and soul. Many Islamic scholars view this as the prime ambition in Islam, for without this inner jihad, man’s will over his personal and public life is meaningless as man’s physical tendencies and weaknesses cannot be overcome. The modern exterior of life created by man has added ugliness where the signs of Allah (SWT) through nature once added beauty, meditation and reflection. The Qur’an states:

{Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition} (Surat ul Ra’d 13:11).

However, before the external changes (political and social) can take place, the internal must transpire first; otherwise it is all short lived.

In the past for Chinese Muslims, the martial arts were a means to bring the inner jihad into a tangible method of self development.

Many reports have shown that the proper learning of martial arts has helped troubled youths claim and earn self-respect and understanding. The enemy within is thus tamed and understood.

    “A man’s enemies can be of more benefit to him than his brothers, for they draw attention to his faults from which he can then turn away.” – Ali ibn Abi Talib

Mind-Body-Spirit Union

Martial arts is seemingly a physical art form that has undergone many transformations over the years making it appear to focus on defense and attack. Yet in its truest form, as in Islam, it uses the physical world of man to understand the non-physical world to create a mind-body-spirit union.

Christian educator and theosophist Rudolph Steiner once pointed out that a great debt was owed by western natural science to the spiritual stream of what he called ‘Arabism’. He argued that Western natural science was the product of the Christian Crusades and Muslim Holy War in a martial age. It was during the battle for Christendom in Northern Spain that the works of ibn Sina (Avicenna) and others’ overwhelming belief in the transcendence of Allah (SWT) affected and influenced such prominent Christian scientists of the times such as Roger Bacon. Crusaders perceived Muslims as having a spiritual power and sense of unity that moved them with elemental force.

Kung fu is part of our long history as Muslims in seeking to learn and develop within ourselves. The word “Kung fu” actually means the ‘mastery of a difficult task to a standard of excellence’. It is the origin of most of the Asiatic martial arts, but focuses on the development of the complete person mentally and physically. The art of energy management, however, is not confined to Chinese martial arts forms which Muslims have helped to develop and even originate as some might claim!

Energy as in the life force directed through the human energy field in Chinese is called chi and shan. In Islam it is nafas and ruh. Used in spiritual cultivation, the direction of the life force plays a different role – the inner jihad.

Islam and the Martial Arts

Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia practice Muslim forms of martial arts like Silat. In China, where the Muslim place of worship is called Qing Zhen Si (Temples of Purity and Truth), Muslims have contributed to the development of chi kung and kung fu.

Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was the founder of the famous Ming Dynasty, and although he never proclaimed to be a Muslim, his six most trusted commanders were. They were Chang Yuchan, Hu Dahai, Mu Ying, Lan Yu, Feng Sheng and Ding Dexing. They were all wushu (Chinese for martial arts) masters. As commanders they defeated rebellious activities including that of the Mongols. A significant number of Muslims died between 1644 –1911 AD in the attempt to restore the Ming Dynasty, which was instituted to bring harmony and fellowship amongst all the different groups of China.

The leaders of the Hui, a Muslim minority of five million, called on the people to learn wushu as a “holy practice in the struggle for survival and self-improvement.” During the Lesser Bairam (Eid ul Fitr) and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) birthday, the Hui local mosques held wushu contests or exhibitions. The Chinese martial arts technique called “Tan Lui” (spring leg) was actually developed by a Hui Muslim named Chamir from Xingjiang during the Ming Dynasty (1368 –1644 AD).

Cha Kungfu is a Muslim technique from Northern Shaolin also named after a Muslim Kung Fu master – Cha Mi Er. Another Muslim master was Cheong Ho, an admiral of the Ming Dynasty.

The Baijiquan (8 extreme fists – rake hand) was first practiced by Wu Zhong, a Chinese Muslim from the Mong village in Kang country. In 1936, Zheng Wen Guang, a Muslim, attended the 11th Olympic Games as a specially invited member on the Chinese Wushu team.

This is a glimpse at what once was. Last August, China’s military completed a large-scale ‘exercise’ in the Muslim region of Xingjiang.

Not acknowledging our religion and the wealth that has been offered to us is a reflection of our inability to bring into focus the inner jihad, as we seek to develop understanding and further control over our lives.

This was orginally written in 2002…


Boardman. Terry. “ ‘Asia’ and ‘The West’ at the End of the 20th. Century. 01/31/00. 1-9. Monju.pwp. 08/30/01. “Chinese Muslims Developed What We Now Call ‘Kung Fu’. 08/08/99.1-2. 08/16/01. “Answers to Readers Questions – August 2000. Pt.2”. 1-18. Wong Kiew Kit’s Home Page. 08/30/01.

Haeri, Fadhlalla. “The Sayings & Wisdom of Imam ‘Ali”. Britain & N. Ireland. Muhammadi Trust & Zahra Publications. 1992.

Kabiling. Karen. “History of Chinese Muslims Discussed”. Spartan Daily. 03/15/01. 1-3. News. 08/16/01. “About Kung Fu”. 1-3. Kung Fu History. Lohan 08/30/01.

McGregor. Richard. “China Completes Military Exercises in Muslim Region”. 08/14/01. 1-2. Asia Pacific: News & Analysis/World. FT.COM. 08/20/01.

Stark. Michael, J. “Chinese Martial Arts and the Hui”. 01/06/97. 08/16/01.

Xianging. Ma. “Han Chinese Muslims Developed Many Forms of Wushu”. Singapore News Forum. 07/01/01. Singapore. 08/16/01.

Zheng Dao Lo Martial Arts Academy “Zheng Dao Lo Martial Arts”. 1-4. 08/18/01

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Meat By Any Means 

Meat By Any Means

By Hwaa Irfan

America needs Mexico, because Mexico is the U.S’s second biggest trading partner after Canada. Mexico threatened sanctions against the U.S., when Obama was struggling with an economy in the early days of the global economic crisis, which was triggered by the U.S. This was one week before the 2009 pseudo-pandemic H1N1 broke out in Mexico forcing closure of the Mexican borders, after Hilary Clinton rushed down to Mexico to smooth the impending crisis in trade by admitting to the U.S. being complicit in the Mexican drug war. Away from the mainstream press, it was a case of flu, not H1N1, but that did not matter by then.

Mexico has much to be dissatisfied with about when it comes to its gang-ho neighbor the U.S. having been forced to become a long term money spinner for the U.S. (cheap labor and products). However it was in 2008 that Mexico had to refuse to take U.S. meat or beef to be more precise. The level of copper in the beef exceeded levels safe enough for human consumption, but rather than dispose of the meat, the meat is returned to the U.S. for sale and consumption by American consumers. This all at a time when hunger has graced the homes/homeless of many Americans, and Wall Street is blind to the consequences of its actions.
The effect of consuming too much copper is copper toxicosis the result of which is:

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Renal tubular necrosis

• Cardiac arrhythmia

• death

Food monitoring in the U.S. is done by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), whilst the Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting the standards for human tolerance and pollutants. “Limits have not been set by the EPA and FDA “for many potentially harmful substances, which can impair FSIS’ enforcement activities,” the 2010 audit by the Department of Agriculture found. The national residue program was activated to protect the American consumer from meats processed containing residual veterinary drugs, pesticides etc from the farm to the supermarket, however the program has failed. Thresholds had not been set, therefore limiting the consumer of American meat to the hazards of drugs and pesticides used to raise process and trade in the meat of cattle. The audit found between July 2007, and March 2008:

    “… four carcasses that were adulterated with violative levels of veterinary drugs and that the plants involved had released the meat into the food supply”. Although the drugs involved could result in stomach, nerve or skin problems for the consumers, FSIS requested no recall”

The residues found in meat were:

Flunixin, which can lead to blood in the faeces, gastrointestinal lesions/ulcers, and renal necrosis.

Penicillin, which can lead to “life threatening allergic reaction” (the throat shuts down), serious damage to the nerves, serious inflammation of the colon, swelling of the lips/tongue/face/, bleeding, and diarrhea.

Arsenic, which can lead to skin lesions, skin malignancy, internal malignancies, vascular disease, and hypertension.

Copper, which can lead to hemolysis, jaundice, renal dysfunction, death
Ivermectin, alters the way in which the nervous system works to the extent that it causes damage to neurons and key cells that transmit messages to the brain.

However, the means (technology) that is recommended to ensure compliance in the testing and screening of meat before entering the market, will more than likely increase the price of meat to the American consumer, whether the meat is Islamically halal or not all because in place greed (i.e. profit) instead of ethics. As Ramadan approaches there are implications for the Muslim consumer who in recent years offer meat as charity to the non-Muslim poor.

Food for Thought

Despite our obsession for meat, we consume far too much than is needed by our bodies. Our consumption far exceeds our physical and biological needs to the extent that it can lead to chronic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. The level at which some people consume meat is on addictive proportions. By reducing consumption of meat one would not only make budgetary savings, but one would make savings on one’s health. The effects of high consumption of meat includes:

• Women with a high consumption of meat risk hip fractures

• Clogs vessels and organs

• Makes the muscles slack and joints stiff due to the excess calcium high consumption of meat produces

• Increased acidity of body fluids

• Increased accumulation of toxic by-products which over taxes the kidneys

• Hormonal imbalances due to the sex hormone used to fatten cattle.

By reducing one’s consumption of meat, one reduces the almost manic way in which meat cattle is produced. This mania adds to the increase in pollutants in our food supply, our soil, and the water we drink. Cattle would be respected more albeit not as one of Allah’s creation, and our environment would be less stressed, and more able to produce the healthy food our bodies need. Eating meat is only really beneficial for those who do physical work, and as we are in an age that is more sedentary, the benefits are minimal.


Colbin, A. Food and Healing. 1986. Ballantine Books, U.S.

Commission on Life Sciences “Copper in Drinking Water”

USDA FSIS National Residue Program for Cattle

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Watch What You Eat!