Tag Archive | Islam

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of Forgiveness*

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of  Forgiveness*

Faithful on Thursday night observe “Shab-i-Barat” with great religious reverence and fervour across the country.

With the setting of the sun, the faithful started gathering in mosques to offer special prayers for peace, progress, and prosperity of the country besides seeking forgiveness for their sins.

An illuminated view of Badshahi Mosque decorated with colorful lights on the eve of Shab-i-Barat.

 

Women release oil lamps and candles in the water of Ravi river, seeking forgiveness and repentance.

 

The people also organised several gatherings and Mahafil-i-Naat to achieve Allah Almighty’s blessing in the world and the life hereafter.

Religious scholars in their sermons highlighted the teachings of Islam and various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) so that the followers could lead their lives in line with the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Family members light lamps and pray at a grave of their relative. —AP

 

A woman reads the holy verses besides a grave of her relative at a graveyard in Karachi. —AP

 

Special prayers were offered to get rid of the menace of terrorism besides showing the right path to disgruntled people, playing in the hands of anti-state elements.

On this occasion, houses, streets and especially mosques were decorated with colorful pennants and bunting whereas at night these were well illuminated by means of electric lights, candles or even oil lamps.

People read holy verses near the graves of their relatives to mark the night of forgiveness. —AFP

 

Besides, people visited graves of their near and dear ones, seeking Allah’s blessings for the departed souls.

Special security arrangements were made for peaceful observance of “Shab-i-Barat”.

People attend a sermon at a mosque in Karachi.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Layla-tul Bara’at

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadhan From Now*

Ramadhan Journey Across the Desert of the Sinai*

Freedom in Ramadhan*

Working and Staying Sane in Ramadhan*

A Sufi, a Sikh and Their Message of Love — A Journey from Lahore to Amritsar*

A Sufi, a Sikh and Their Message of Love — A Journey from Lahore to Amritsar*

By Taimur Shamil

Sufi music and architecture has always fascinated me. Consequently, I have taken it upon myself to explore the tribal areas of North Pakistan and the remote areas of Sindh to learn as much as I can about the Sufi culture.

During recent travels, I happened upon the shrine of renowned Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir of the Qadariyyah Sufi order in Lahore.

Pigeons are attracted to the serenity of shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

The mosque area attached with the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

The shrine is situated in what T.S Eliot calls, “streets that follow like a tedious argument”.

The saint’s life history, however, contains clear messages of peace. His times were soon to be followed by cultural degradation and “insidious intents”.

Surrounded by a populated area, the shrine is home to many poor people to whom it provides free shelter, and food on Thursdays.

“Thursday evening is considered to be a Mubarak day for Sufis,” explained Ghulam Fareed, a Qawwal vocalist.

Him, along with other Qawwals, have been regular visitors at this shrine. He sings here because he feels the act gives him a sense of belonging.

“This shrine has given us an identity.”

Devotees at the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Singing qawwalis here also helps them make a living. After interacting with a few Qawwals, I realised that it’s not just mere appreciation and money; these Qawwals spoke with a sense of purpose as well.

To them, Sufi singing is a way to spread the message of unity and harmony, and they take immense pride in it.

Here, every Thursday, Qawwals sing in the courtyard of the shrine, while men and women clap and sway to the rhythm. Some men dance in ecstasy, some sing along, while others pay their tributes to the saint by bowing in front of his grave.

The air is filled with the mixed scent of roses and locally-made incense. Salvers of sweets and other food items are distributed among the crowd, both inside and outside of the shrine.

There are certain food items that are specific to the Sufi shrines in Lahore and can be found around Mian Mir; for instance, Qatlaammay (desi pizza) and Doodh Badam (milk with nuts).

Vendors selling food. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

On the outskirts of the shrine, vendors swarm the place. They sell dahi baray, chaat, sharbat and samosas to the visitors.

One of the samosa vendors, Akbar Shakir feels he doesn’t belong in the posh areas of Lahore, only here in the street next to the shrine.

“Quality is not ensured at these rairrhis but is it ensured at the hotels?” questioned Aleem Khan, a visitor to the darbar.

“After seeing what’s going on in expensive food chains that people dine in, I think we are better off over here,” he added, pointing to the samosa carts close by.

A woman lighting up a chiraagh — a ritual mostly seen at Sufi shrines in the sub-continent. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Women constitute a huge number of devotees here.

“I was sick for the last two years,” said Sakeena, 32.

“I went to many doctors and hakeems but no one knew what my problem was. I took medicines but nothing worked. Then one day, my mother asked me to go to the shrine and pray for myself. I am much better since then. I believe that Awlia (friends of God) have the power to make things work for you,” she added thoughtfully.

Women at the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

People reciting the Qur’an inside the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Historically, I learned, Mughal royals and nobility would frequent the Shrine of Mian Mir religiously.

According to local and British historians, Dara Shikoh had given orders to build the mausoleum of Mian Mir Shikoh. He was a Mughal prince with Sufi and mystical inclinations. He strongly believed in social harmony and a peaceful co-existence.

Shikoh authored several books on Sufism, and wrote a treatise on Bhagavad Gita (a sacred book on Hinduism). His book Sakinatul Aulia is dedicated to the life and works of Mian Mir.

Shikoh’s intellectual pursuits made him strive for a heterogeneous culture and harmony in the subcontinent — an important ingredient that was much needed in the 17th century as much as it is required now.

Students of history, who are proponents of a pluralistic society, mourn the execution of this philosopher prince who was killed by his puritan brother Aurangzeb Alamgir. Many modern-day historians are of the view that Shikoh was the bearer of the legacy of King Akbar whose stance was Sulh-e-Kul (Peace with all) — a stance that Sufis, too, have taken.

On my most recent visit to the shrine, I met many Sikh yatris who had come to pay homage to this great saint. Many of them were from Pakistan, while some had come from India. Mostly Sikh Yatris come here during the birthday celebration of Guru Nanak.

What makes the Sikhs visit the Shrine of Mian Mir? I was curious to know. I met a group of Sikhs and asked them.

Mian Mir’s grave covered with flowers while people recite the Quran. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

“To us, Mian Mir Sahab is as divine as the saints of Sikhism,” replied Diljeet, who came to visit the shrine from Ferozepur, India.

Sufis and Gurus, and their message, transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. “They are the beacons of light,” added Gursavek, another devotee.

The Golden Temple. —Photo by Fatema Imani

 

Mian Mir was an icon of unity, tolerance and love during and after the Mughal era. According to Sufi as well as Sikh traditions, Mian Mir laid the foundation of, what is now known as, the Golden Temple Amritsar, also known as Harminder Sahib.

Mian Mir is said to have travelled from Lahore to Amritsar on the invitation of Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, who asked Mian Mir for his blessings.

The story goes that Mian Mir was revered by Guru Arjun Dev. Both were divine figures of their respective religions, had mutual respect for each other and also had a similar notion: respect for humanity.

The goal of human life, according to Sufis, is to realise the divinity within; irrespective of cast, creed and religion. Harminder Sahib, in this sense, is more of a cultural hub for the people of Punjab; it is a place where self-actualisation is promoted. It is also marked as a Gurdawar — literally meaning Lord’s door or the door of the Guru.

On these grounds. Mian Mir laid the foundation of a worship place of a nascent religion.

It is noteworthy that Garanth Sahab, the holy book of the Sikh faith, includes the kalaam (poetry/works) of renowned Sufis like Baba Fareed of the Chishtiyyah Sufi order.

And hence, aptly, the kalaam of popular Sikh poet Ravidas jee resounds at the Shrine of Mian Mir in Lahore today as a reminder of humanity and tolerance, echoed by this shrine’s existence.

In today’s era of chaos and war, such places of religious and ethnic harmony always manage to leave the heart at peace, if only for a little while.

Source*

Related Topics:

My Experience as a non-Muslim going Undercover with Britain’s Sufi Muslims*

Sufism Healing the Soul in Gaza*

The Love of Spring Equinox, Nowruz and the First Male Convert, Sufi Style*

The Symbols of the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order*

China Increases DNA Testing of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Region*

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation

pThe Centre of Consciousness is One’s Heart*

China Increases DNA Testing of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Region*

China Increases DNA Testing of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Region*

China has began the logistical groundwork for the mass collection of DNA from Uighur Muslims of the Xinjiang region, human rights observers have said.

Police in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region confirmed to The Associated Press that they are in the process of buying more than $8.7 million worth of equipment to analyse DNA samples.

Human Rights Watch observers said they have witnessed evidence of almost $3 million in extra purchases related to DNA testing.

They added that such a collection programme could be used for authorities to justify increase their political control.

The decision comes after Chinese authorities allegedly required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples in 2015, as well as voice records and fingerprints.

Chinese authorities who are determined to counter “Islamist extremism” among Uighur Muslim have implemented very draconian measures to fulfil their political objectives.

Policies included banning women from wearing the hijab and niqab, prohibiting men from keeping beards, forcing Muslims in the public sector not to fast in Ramadan and mandatory satellite tracking devices for vehicles.

Source*

Related Topics:

Modern Day Colonnialism: The Uyghurs versus China*

China orders Muslim Businesses to Sell Cigarettes and Alcohol*

Islam and Martial Arts: China’s Hui Muslim Tradition*

China punishes Uyghur’s for Studying their Religion Outside State Control*

China Criminalizes 25 more Uyghurs*

The West’s Engineered Buddhist-Muslim Conflict in Thailand*

U.S, U.K., Israel, China, Saudia behind Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide*

China Continues to Repress Ramadhan*

Muslims Arrested for Joining Terror Group That Doesn’t Exist*

 

Muslims Launch the World’s First Islamic Sign Language Book*

Muslims Launch the World’s First Islamic Sign Language Book*

Did you know nine out of ten deaf children are born to hearing parents? Well, meet Zakariyya, a 19-year-old deaf teenager who was also born to hearing parents. For many children like Zakariyya, although he grew up in a loving and supportive home his communication and language barriers have affected his ability to enjoy a normal life.

Zakariyya attended primary specifically catering for his needs who supported him with much of his language development. However at his first secondary school, like with many other deaf and hard of hearing children, had very low self-esteem and confidence. Zakariyya was often a sadly a victim of bullying and it was unfortunate that his peers would tease him, run away with his hearing aid or simply wind him up knowing that he could not verbally respond and react.

Zakariyya also had additional learning needs, which his first secondary school could not fully cater for. Though he had a chance to integrate in mainstream school with his hearing peers, his parents made a conscious decision to send him to a specialist deaf boarding college to meet his tailored learning needs.

However, although now he was settled, interacting with fellow deaf peers and his learning needs were now being catered for at the boarding school, Zakariyya unfortunately severely lacked many of his core social skills. Like many others, he would be taken and brought home in a special school bus arranged specifically for students with special needs.

This is the case for many deaf children and adults, as they have grown up only experiencing limited interactions beyond their own communities. Thus many tend to grow up feeling isolated, neglected, and frustrated with limitations on many aspects of their everyday lives and in fact eventually suffer from depression, anxiety and other similar conditions.

Alhamdulillah it was fortunate that Zakariyya, through his local council disability service was paired with a family link supporter named Aminul Hoque who was trained in BSL (British Sign Language). Aminul was responsible for delivering stimulating play and social activities such as football and bowling, as well as introducing new ‘first time’ life experiences to Zakariyya, like travelling by train, going shopping and eating in public restaurants. His parents were so happy with the impact this had on their son: 

“We are grateful for such encounters, which have enormously contributed to the progressive development of Zakariyya’s routines, behavior and positive interactions at home and school.”

However many children across London and the U.K. don’t have access to such services due to Government funding cuts. Four in ten parents (38%) said their disabled children ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ have the opportunity to socialise with non-disabled children. (Source: Scope & Mumsnet)

Aminul continued to mentor Zakariyya and maintain relations with his family, as Zakariyyah and his sister Suraiyah were chosen to feature in a ‘deaf-friendly’ special campaign video by Amin & Yasmin.

ABOUT AMIN and YASMIN

Amin and Yasmin themselves are also brother and sister, whom many years ago both embarked on the pursuit of learning British Sign Language (BSL). During their journey and interactions with members of the deaf community and their families, they realized the growing concern and limited access globally for deaf friendly Islamic educational resources.

They have launched an incredible campaign to raise funds for the World’s first Islamic Sign Language Book series in BSL along with a digital app and other educational resources.

They want to empower Deaf Muslims and improve family bonds through fun, interactive ‘deaf-friendly’ resources and bridge the communication and social skills gap between communities.

YOU are invited to support this awesome campaign by following this link;

  • Contribute & Donate – Sponsor part of the campaign even if just one book, with a generous donation today!
  • Gift a book to child, sibling, parent, cousin or nephew/niece.
  • Share – Please spread the word about this unique project through your personal social media and in conversations with family, friends and colleagues.

Source*

Related Topics:

The aql is not Reason – it’s Consciousness*

The Healing Power of Fasting*

Ramadhan a Beacon of Light in Jerusalem*

Slow Ramadhan Foods: Health Benefits of Yoghurt

Muslim Schoolboy Rejects £5mn from American Investors for Money-Saving Website*

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

New Licenses Awarded to Muslim Radio Stations*

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

Austrian President calls on All Women to Wear Hijab in Solidarity with Muslims against Islamophobia*

President Alexander Van der Bellen

 

The Austrian President has called on all women to wear the hijab in solidarity with Muslims to counter “rampant Islamophobia”.

President Alexander Van der Bellen, the former left-wing Green Party leader who just about beat a far-right candidate to take office earlier in January, said freedom of expression was a fundamental right.

He told an audience of school pupils that,

 “It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants, that is my opinion on the matter.

“And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”

President Van der Bellen’s comments were in response to a question from a schoolgirl who argued for a hijab and niqab ban that she believed would reduce women to their physical appearance and isolate some out of the labour market.

The comments which were made in March amid debate in Austria and neighbouring Germany about “burqa bans”.

The President’s office said he supported bans in specific circumstances, such as for female judges, where religious attire could raise concerns over their professional impartiality.

Mr Van der Bellen would apply prohibitions to all religious symbols, including Jewish kippas and Christian kippas.

But the coalition-led government also agreed to prevent judges, magistrates, public prosecutors and police officers from wearing the hijab in the interest of appearing “ideologically and religiously neutral”.

Source*

Related Topics:

Middle-aged White Men Like Me Have no Right to Tell Women not to Wear the Burkini*

Silencing the Expression of Faith

Kenya overturns Hijab Ban*

Hope for Womanhood as Non-Muslims Sympathize with Attacked Pregnant Muslimah

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

Major UK Department Store to Sell School Hijabs*

E.U.:Employers can Ban Wearing of Visible Religious Symbols*

International “modest clothing” Firm to Launch Brand in Debenhams Birmingham*

Burkini ban in France Sparks Worldwide Sales, even among non-Muslims*

European Company sells Miswak for £3.90 Calling it a ‘groundbreaking’ Raw Toothbrush*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

By Fatima Muhammad

When the Panama papers broke, social justice activists rejoiced. They thought there would be a huge, sustained reaction, a real movement. Surely, people would be so outraged, that they would stand up for their rights! But they were wrong. There was little outcry. Instead, there was sarcasm, resignation, weariness, and cynicism. “Corrupt leaders are corrupt. So what?”, sums up the reaction.

Global violence and bloodshed triggers similar exercises in shoulder shrugging, and the reason is the same – we’ve given up. People feel they can’t make a real difference because they can’t physically stop the violence, or because, other than the occasional donation, they can’t stem the flow of misery coming out through the wounds on humanity. We feel powerless. We’ve accepted the script, and we’re fatigued. Clickbait that makes us chuckle is easier on our minds than being obliged to think about how we’re slowly losing our freedom, our rights to privacy, our natural resources, and our expectations of safety for people in other parts of the world.

This fatigue has more malignant an impact on our morality than the sum total of all the evils being brought to bear on us. It’s a kind of moral obesity – it makes you want to sit on the sofa and stuff your brain with junk food rather than roll your sleeves up and take the world on. Even worse – it makes you exhausted to the point that it becomes difficult to fight temptation. Here are some ways to tackle that fatigue, and keep our sense of outrage alive and pure…

  1. Don’t give up on people – give up on corrupt social structures

“People are corrupt.” “Don’t trust anyone.” “People from that background are always like that.” These are loser concepts.

Sure, always operate with caution, but know where the blame lies – at the doorstep of unusual circumstances. In extreme situations, ordinary people wind up dehumanising both themselves and others. To combat this, we should celebrate humanity on every level. It has become so easy to objectify and strip agency from real human beings.

Labels do no favours, instead they distract from the real issues. This is what people in power have always done: they demonise immigrants; people of other faiths; people of different skin colours, they know better than we do this kind of thinking is critical to keeping the power imbalance alive and well.

Rather than resigning ourselves to that way of thinking, we should be true revolutionaries and embrace everyone’s potential for goodness – and be properly outraged at injustice… not accept it as inevitable.

  1. It wasn’t always this way. It can get better again, but only if we see the value in ourselves and stop dismissing the things we do as “small.”

No era in history has been perfect, but matters have never deteriorated on a global level to the extent it has today.

Most crucial to having a vibrant, energetic resistance is to realise evil is temporary. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 81,

surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).”

We usually attribute this to the advent of the Mahdi, or to the Day of Judgement, but what we fail to realise is that in this verse Allah has given us a clue to the nature of evil – its time runs out eventually. Prod it with the truth, and it’ll curl up and die.

We can never embody the full power of Haq that is present in the Mahdi, but even our attempts to live the Truth in our daily lives on “minor” levels, will obliterate injustice on all levels. When Haq or Truth is brought out into the battlefield, injustice cannot remain.

This can’t happen if we don’t value ourselves and our moral decisions. If we truly value ourselves as individuals, as humans, as people who trust in a higher power, we must be convinced that every good action we do, no matter how small, will have that ripple effect.

  1. Understand the value of dismantling systems

When we campaign for women’s rights or the rights of minorities, it’s usually with the focus to grant them the same rights as everyone else. This overlooks a glaring problem – becoming just as good a prop as everyone else in the real problem – an inherently broken system. A system that will always find someone or the other to oppress.

Instead of realising that giving vulnerable groups a place at the table is only the first step towards true equality, we think that it’s the entirety of the struggle. We don’t explain to ourselves and to others how that table is just a bad table to be at in the long run. A table that will invite you to sit at it if you make enough noise, but then expects you to engage in the same oppressions as were inflicted upon you.

Inevitably when let down even after being part of the same structures we aspired to, we are afflicted with disappointment and weariness. It makes it feel as though injustice is inevitable.

It isn’t. We just need to build a better table.

  1. Don’t contribute towards glamourising power

We all remember those halcyon days when our only exposure to Trump was via “The Apprentice.” The show had a lot of followers and fans, and was in a similar vein to “American Idol” and other shows that were enamoured of the Simon Cowell habit of degrading and bullying others.

Today wherever you see glamour, it’s most often built on the backs of someone, somewhere being oppressed. Keep empowering those people and that mindset, and watch how quickly orange faced angry toddlers fill up the White House.

Part of our complacency in being oppressed is because we know we will always be, in some way, complicit in aiding those systems. Why? Because we can’t see ourselves distancing our hearts from ostentatious power. It’s the physical worldly companion of what we often hear will happen on the Day of Judgement – everyone will be raised with the people they love. This isn’t just a metaphysical scare tactic by some invisible man in the sky, it’s a permanent reminder that we sink or swim with the people we invest in emotionally. The more we adore those who oppress on one level or another, the less we will be moved to call out their injustices. On the contrary, seeing through this facade will keep us alert and less liable to give up on resistance.

  1. Don’t encourage fear

Society will always reward people who bow to fear. They lead trouble-free lives. Even within our communities, when we see domestic problems, we sometimes see people giving advice to submit to the situation rather than rock the boat. This mentality tries to teach us that if you submit to oppression you will be rewarded in other ways. The irony is, having absorbed this belief, victims often find justifications to become oppressors themselves later in life.

To such minds primed to accept and glorify hurtful behaviour at a household level, it is only to be expected that the higher up the ladder you go, the greater the scale of oppression. Resisting tyranny not only seems laughable – but even wrong. This leads to more complacency.

  1. Keep educating and being educated

Fatigue is only inevitable when the knowledge of problems isn’t translated into actionable solutions. The Prophet has a brilliant saying extremely relevant to social justice:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”

We have so many platforms today where we can talk out about injustice. There are so many specialised areas with an assortment of related issues that impact all of us, yet unless those from our community who are knowledgeable in those areas create a platform, or write or speak about those issues, we won’t even know. People who are educated in areas like technology, medicine, education, journalism and meteorology are more aware of critical issues in that particular realm that will impact the rest of world. They should blog, write, bring those issues to us in terms we can understand.

When we see injustice, when the “truth becomes alone and sad,” we’re encouraged to remember Imam Hussain ibn Ali. This isn’t simply an act of reverence, it’s a refresher on how if, in the climate of our own time, we see social injustice, then no matter how bad things get we are expected to have a response – and that it will ultimately have an impact.

We must remember resignation to the sadder facts of life is antithetical to real change. When we give up on the idea of a better world, evil digs its roots in deeper.

Source*

Related Topics:

How to Resist From a Place of Love: Self-Care for the Long Haul*

The Disappearance of Silence*

We were Made for these Times*

Men tired of Gang Stereotypes Launch cook for refugees’Campaign*

How One Small Tribe Beat Coal and Built a Solar Plant*

Nepal’s Military Set to Use Transcendental Meditation to Relieve Global Collective Stress and Stop War*

This shameless western power Legalised Colonial-era Child Torture – and its Citizens have had Enough*

U.N. Praises Iran’s “Exemplary” Leadership in Hosting Refugees*

Citizens Fight Back, Move to Impeach Judge for Letting Paedophile Cop Off Easy*

Immigrant Designer Goes From Homeless to Wealthy, Then Sells Everything to Help Others*

They Lost their Jungles to Plantations, but these Indigenous Women Grew them Back*

Swedish Developers offer a Way to Delete Yourself off the Internet*

U.K. Judge ‘being driven from the public service’ for Backing Natural Marriage*

One Man’s Quest to Save the Forests of Tanzania*

Unity on U.S. Hands Off Syria Coalition*

 

 

 

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

By Sheikh Walead Mosaad

As I sat in the main hall at an Islamic conference hosted by a large national organization I had difficulty making out what the speaker was saying.  Perhaps it was the alternating purple and red strobe lights, or maybe the replaying video of a mosque from Shiraz or Isfahan projected on an enormous screen situated some twenty feet behind the speaker.  It felt similar to what I felt when I toured the Dolmabache palace in Istanbul this past summer, a 19th century European style place of residence for the last Ottoman sultans, replete with lion sculptures adorning manicured gardens, and English chandeliers towering over French style ballrooms within its halls. And not so dissimilar from a mosque I sometimes attend that has placed in its foyer a collection box for mosque improvement, zakat, and one labelled “Imam fund”, presumably to go towards the salary of the yet to be hired full time imam.

While all three experiences appear dissimilar, the common thread between all was a sense of alienation.

Offensiveness and tastelessness rather than entreaty and allure.  Dispiritedness rather than restoration.  Ugliness rather than beauty.

Beautiful, endearing, and appealing

Islam – and everything connected to it, even by the most remote of connections – should be beautiful, endearing, and appealing to both body and soul.  The Prophet Muhammad was the embodiment of such beauty, both outwardly and inwardly, from the softness of the palm of his hand, to the mercy shown to his adversaries, but it is as if the community has in some fashion detached itself from this profound and penetrating truth.  The means and mode should be as beautiful as the ends.  Or as one of my teachers remarked: the means are the ends.  Utilitarianism is anathema to the pristine Prophetic teachings.  Noble ends cannot be achieved except through noble means.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

 

Muslims created civilizations that projected this beauty, from the acoustic balance and perfection in the Sultan Ahmet mosque, to the melodies of the Andalusian muwashshaḥ (form of poetic litany). No aspect of human endeavour was left to a worldview alien to Prophetic inspired paradigms.  Yet, here we are.

Oversimplification of tradition

Our inability to retain and transmit the aural imperatives of the Prophetic teachings, that is, what is the purely human element of the Islamic tradition, has no doubt contributed to such a lack of refinement.  The sacred texts themselves, as well as the corpus of scholarly literature, including all of the Islamic disciplines such as tafsīr, fiqh, theology, and so forth, are widely available and are no further than a keystroke. In earlier periods, a costly commission of the warrāq (manuscript copyist) would have been necessary to obtain a manuscript of Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, or the Risāla of Imam al-Shāfi‘ī.  Yet, despite the unprecedented ease by which the texts can be obtained, shallow and vacuous representations of the Islamic intellectual tradition persist.   The oversimplification of this tradition, as enforced by some via their unwritten endorsement, has led to a paralyzing lack of appreciation for the sophistication of the Islamic teachings.  Many are the dilettantes who troll social media querying those with whom they disagree for the all-powerful dalīl (textual evidence) that will sanction a particular devotional practice or point of view, not knowing that the understanding of textual evidence is not so simple as citing a single Qur’ānic verse or ḥadīth, but requires trained experts to properly invoke and interpret.

Loss and humiliation

Hence, one is forced to conclude that the transmitters of these texts – the ‘ulamā’ – are the lone variable that must account for the shortcomings.  The dismantling of the institutions and systems by which scholars were trained during the colonial era no doubt played a large part in contributing to this situation, but the colonization of the Muslim mind perhaps reveals the greater story.  In the reaction to this colonization, or perhaps as a direct result of it, Islam became an ideology, where the main objective became the capturing of power, whether political, or otherwise, in order to reinstate Islam at the top of the intellectual, social, and cultural pyramid. The formation and proliferation of the “Islamic group” often in direct opposition to state power, attests to this new reality.  These groups were often at odds with one another, but they shared a common genealogy predicated on the notion of solicitation of power and influence as a means to reform a community that had lost its way, evidenced by the ease in which colonial powers had humiliated them, and the perceived ease by which they had installed puppet despots to preside over them.

Amidst this changing landscape and redefining of Islamic polity, the state of the Muslims prior to colonization was often cited as the culprit, and more specifically the state of Islamic understanding and practice in these pre-modern communities.  The community had slipped into decadence and forgotten the pristine teaching and practice of the Prophetic and early period.  Terminologies, pedagogies, and devotional practices that had developed since the early period were dismissed as reprehensible innovations that summoned God’s wrath and led us to this pitiful state.  As such, Islam had to be cleansed from these innovations and purged of all its egregious representations.  An accompanying demonization of the “other” also ensued, as their corrupting influences were also to blame.

Yet, here we are, nearly a century removed from physical colonisations, but the Muslim mind is as colonised as ever, burdened and embossed by the quest for validation and a seat at the table of influence.  But how successful are we if the price for such a seat is if all we are is a mirror reflection of those sitting to the left or right of us? I agree with the reformists that Muslims are in need of a return to its apodictic foundations. However, this return cannot be the recreation of an epoch firmly planted in the past, but rather the resurrection of timeless foundational imperatives that have been abandoned in favour of pragmatism and expediency, retaining only a simulated outer shell.  The Muslim mind must return to the Prophetic model in the manner that it observes and interprets the book of creation, to discern its signs, and abide by its prompts and commands, to see the divine attributes manifested in all that is, was, and ever will be.  Our epistemological system must be revived: verification and criticism in dealing with the khabar, the report of another one was not witness too, rather than seamless dissemination if the right identity dynamics are invoked.

Our theological system must be revived: acceptance of the divine decree, without despair, and the recognition of the direct correspondence between that which our hands sow and divine correction.  Our system of jurisprudence must be revived, recognizing the sophistication of the four schools, and the still relevant juristic tools that guide the qualified jurist to address the complex societal issues of contemporary life.  And perhaps most importantly, our ethical system must be revived, as it is our principal contribution to the world.  Ethics, morals, and just interactions with all our relationships are that which distinguishes us from our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity.  The Islamic tradition has a vibrant and time tested system for human development, i.e. for each human being to reach his or her full human potential, as this is manifested in their understanding of reality, their ability to follow the divine commands and avoid the divine prohibitions, and their morals and ethical behaviours.  A revivification of the foundational principles and their application and contextualization for our tumultuous times is what is desperately needed, but such a project cannot be carried out by self-proclaimed “mujtahids” and “reformists” who advocate simple realignment of Islam with tempestuous and ever-changing Western norms, or advocate literalist and vacuous interpretations of the sacred texts to justify sectarian agendas.  It can only be carried out by true Muhammadan heirs, who resoluteness is tempered by their mercy and desire for well-being for all of God’s creatures.  Perhaps many Muslims are not ready to hear their message just yet, but that does not change the pertinence and urgency of its significance.

Source*

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