The first World Award of Monotheistic Religions has been designed on the assumption of the basic unity of religious faiths in the worship of God Almighty, the rejection of the demon of pride and oppression, and the ideal of bringing about a moral and just society inspired by the teachings of prophets.
Allah has made obligatory upon you the pilgrimage (hajj) to His sacred House which is the turning point for the people who go to it, just as beasts or pigeons go towards spring water.
Allah the glorified made it a sign of their supplication before His Greatness and their acknowledgement of His Dignity.
He selected from among His creation those who, on listening to His call, responded to it and testified His word. They stood in the position of His Prophets and resembled His angels who surround the Divine Throne securing all the benefits of performing His worship and hastening towards His promised forgiveness.
Allah the glorified made it (His sacred House) an emblem for Islam and an object of respect for those who turn to it. He made obligatory its pilgrimage and laid down its claim for which He held you responsible to discharge it. (Imam Ali (AS))
I saw this news item over on Malangbaba's blog, about the American military wanting to recruit more Muslims:
"The effort is also part of a larger outreach. Pentagon officials say they are striving for mutual understanding with Muslims at home and abroad and to win their support for US war aims. Among the efforts to attract and retain Muslim cadets. "
"In December, 1863, Morgan led Negro (sic) troops in the battle of Nashville. He declared a new chapter in the history of liberty had been written. "It had been shown that marching under a flag of freedom, animated by a love of liberty, even the slave becomes a man and a hero." "
"...Yet this was the proof of manhood required of the Negro. He might plead his cause with the tongue of Frederick Douglass, and the nation listened almost unmoved. He might labor for the nation's wealth, and the nation took the results without thanks, and handed him as near nothing in return as would keep him alive. He was called a coward and a fool when he protected the women and children of his master. But when he rose and fought and killed, the whole nation with one voice proclaimed him a man and brother. Nothing else made emancipation possible in the United States. Nothing else made Negro citizenship conceivable, but the record of the Negro soldier and a fighter."
Bottom line: to prove your American citizenship, your very humanity, you must prove that you will kill for the man.
some interesting thoughts for mosques to keep in mind, too..
Ayatullah Khomeini's Christmas Message to the Christian World
Ayatullah Khomeini gave his Christmas message to the Christians of the world on December 24, 1979. To have it reach you on Christmas Day we planned to print it in the WASHINGTON POST. But the Post refused the message unless we changed some words. Therefore, this message, meant for the holy day of Christmas itself, is reaching you after Christmas. ------------------------------------------------------------------
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
O Believers, rise up and be steadfast witness for God in equity and justice, and do not let hatred of any people turn you away from justice. Deal justly, that is nearer to righteousness. Observe your duty to God. For God knows what you do. - Holy Quran, Sura Ma'idah, aya 8
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice for they shall be filled. - Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 6
Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. - Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 10
Merry Christmas to the oppressed nations of the world, to the Christian nations and the Christians of Iran. Christ was a great messenger whose mission was to establish justice and mercy, and who with his heavenly words and deeds condemned the tyrants and supported the oppressed.
You priests and clergy, followers of Christ, rise up and give your support to the oppressed of the world against the oppressors, and for the sake of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ, ring the bells of your churches just once in support of the oppressed of Iran and in condemnation of the oppressors.
Carter, vanguard of the world's oppressors, called for the bells to be rung throughout the United States in support of his agents against the deprived Iranian nation. How good and appropriate that you ring the bells according to the order of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ in support of the oppressed nations crused under the boots of Carter's soldiers.
Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for justice and strive after it. Woe to those who strive against the teachings of Jesus Christ and all the prophets, for the sake of spies and oppressors of the rights of nations.
And O Nation of the Messiah, and followers of Jesus, the spirit of God, rise up and defend the dignity of Jesus Christ, and the nation of Christianity, and do not let the enemies of the divine teachings and the opposers of godly orders give false impression of Christianity and its clergy to the oppressed peoples of the world. Do not be deceived by the presence of the super powers in churches, or by their prayers for spies and traitors. They think of nothing but more power, or supremacy over the world, which is against divine teachings. Our nation suffered from this hypocrisy of the oppressors for many years.
O Christians, what happened that Mr. Carter did not rise up against the massacres in Iran, Vietnam, Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere; and he did not request the ringing of the bells? But now he has begun to pray, and has called upon the churches to ring the bells, for another term as President and for a few more years' continued suppression of the weakened nations.
O fathers of the church, rise up and save Jesus Christ from the clutches of these executions, since that great prophet dislikes the oppressor who uses religion as a tool of tyranny and prayer as a tool for reaching the throne of oppression over the creatures of God, since the heavenly teachings were sent down to release the oppressed.
And you, the oppressed of the world arise and unite to be rid of the oppressors, for the earth belongs to God, and its inheritors are the oppressed.
And you, the American nation, do not listen to the propaganda of Presidents who think of nothing but power, and be sure that our youth will treat the spies in a manner pleasing to God, because Islam orders us to have mercy on captives, even if they are tyrants and spies.
You the American nation, ask Carter to return the criminal deposed Shah to Iran because the key to the release of spies is in his hands.
And you who ring the bells, pray and ring the bells and beg God Almightly to confer a sense of justice and fairness on your presidents.
Happy are those who strive after justice and pray.
I have a lot of experience with bullies. As a child who was by nature introverted, quiet and meek, I often became a target of bullying in my early childhood. It didn’t help that my mom told me to get along with everyone and not to fight with anyone. The bullies bullied, and I obeyed my mom’s order faithfully by not opposing these bullies. I spent miserable two years in my first and second grade. It was only when I finally stood up to these bullies and said no to their demands that everything stopped. I learned a very hard lesson and a lesson that lasted throughout my life.
Shortly after this, my mom took me and my younger sister to our aunt’s new home for a get together. I was delighted to see my cousin there, who was 6 months older than I was. As our ages were so close, we always had tremendous amount of fun every time our relatives got together. My cousin, who was taller, extraverted and exposed to popular culture was always a leader in our play. My sister and I always admired her for all the things she knew and the ideas she had to make our play more fun.
On that cold winter day, three of us kids ran out to play in a nearby playground. While we were running around and having lots of fun, there appeared two girls of our age with a cutest Maltese puppy on a leash. How cute! Three of us immediately ran towards the puppy to pet him, as you know, how can anyone resist the temptation of a soft, fluffy puppy?
At that moment, one of the girls, the owner of the puppy, yelled, “YOU TOUCHED OUR DOG!” as if it was a crime. It was THEIR puppy and we needed their permission to touch it. Unfortunately or fortunately, none of us even got close enough to stroke the puppy. It would have been worth it if we had petted that adorable puppy, but this was a total lie and a false accusation.
I said, “No, we didn’t.” The girls insisted, saying, “Yes, you did!” They ordered us to go up to the top of the slide that was in the playground. I looked towards my cousin, and saw that she was obeying them. Feeling a little confused, I went along with her. Sheepishly three of us were backed up on top of the slide, blocked by one mean girl on the stairs and by the other mean one on the slope of the slide.
There they demanded that we admit that we touched the puppy and to apologize. I repeated, “We didn’t.” At that moment, I felt something come up within me and knew that I was not going to let them have their way. I was not going to let them bully me. I will not submit and I will not apologize for something we didn’t even do.
The bullies insisted that we touched the puppy. I said again, “We didn’t.” As these girls talked about nasty plans as to what to do with us next, my cousin who has been silent till then stepped forward to speak. I felt a sense of relief, feeling that our strong cousin will now speak for us and get us out of the situation.
What came out of my cousin’s mouth completely took me by surprise. She took a subservient position and offered to do anything they wanted her to do. She pleaded and appeased. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. I never saw it as a part of her character. Where did this come from? With this new ‘weakness’ that I saw in my cousin, she was now a different person in my eyes.
I stubbornly refused to obey the mean girls. My loyal younger sister stuck by me silently glaring at them. Pretty soon, the mean girls invited my cousin to go with them and left us behind. We went back to our aunt’s home, reported what had happened, and wondered whatever had happened to our cousin.
A few hours later, our cousin returned to aunt’s home with lots of excitement. She told us how those girls took her to their home, played with her and showed her their treasures; how they were so nice to her and gave her gifts. She was happy. Even in my childish mind, I was able to figure out that my cousin gained the bullies’ favors by becoming their servant and a pet, not as their equal friend. In return, they bestowed on her their special treatment and wonderful material rewards for her obedience, subservience and willing acknowledgement and acquiescence to their power, while my sister and I were ‘cast away’ for opposition, resistance and disobedience. For a second, I wondered if I should have done what she did, but even in 8 years of my short life, I knew that it would not have felt right.
Why am I telling this story? In face of bullies, I think adults react more or less in the same way as we did as children. We all have our own style. Some of us are like me, become stubborn, obstinate and resist. Some are like my cousin, and volunteer to serve the bully, cooperate with them hoping to secure safety. In return, they receive acceptance and favors from the bullies. In this, they find happiness. Others may stay silent and just watch from behind, just like my little sister did at the time. I must say that my sister turned out to be quite a fighter as she grew older. So there are some brave people who take action, and are willing to face negative consequences of speaking up against injustice.
Many American Muslims and Islamic organizations after 9/11 behaved much like my cousin. The U.S. government acted much like those bullies who told us that we touched their puppy. The government accused us of something with which we personally never had anything to do, suspected that we were up to no good, and instituted oppressive, unjust policies against Muslims.
In return, many Muslims and Islamic organizations in the U.S. chose to cooperate with the government agencies, FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security, who were enforcing those unjust laws. Some even went to the extent of ‘condemning’ all those ‘bad Muslims’ in public statements (because that’s what Uncle Sam wanted us to do) while never before publicly condemning any acts of oppression and injustice either by Muslims or by the U.S. or any other country.
We now try very hard to be ‘moderate,’ as we feel the pressure from the U.S. government to be nice and agreeable. Some individuals and organizations even run programs for “moderate Islam” on funding that they receive from the U.S. and British government. The imams who were recently harassed by American Air for praying in the airport lobby, said that they notified the police and FBI about the conference they were attending in advance. Since when did it become necessary for law abiding citizens to notify FBI before they attended a meeting? To avoid ‘problems,’ these imams voluntarily cooperated with the system and still ended up being harassed.
The experience of Japanese Americans during World War II should be a lesson enough for us Muslims now. They cooperated fully with the authority, were obedient model citizens, died for the U.S. fighting against the Japanese, and still ended up in concentration camps in California, Washington, Arizona and elsewhere.
Children know that bullies become more powerful and more arrogant when we obey them, cooperate with them and when we consent to their power. Bullies only stop when we stand up and say no more; when we stand in front of them and oppose them with an equal sense of power and strength.
A DECADE of primary and secondary education at an evangelical Anglican school was enough to get me addicted to church music. Each Christmas, I try to join friends at Midnight Mass at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral. It is an extraordinary experience, with both organs playing simultaneously as the choir roams among the congregation in procession singing carols.
This year, I'm joining my partner and her family for Christmas on the Sunshine Coast. It will be my first Christmas in the land of the cane toad. It will also roughly coincide with Eid al-Adha, the most important feast of the Muslim calendar coinciding with the annual pilgrimage known as the Haj.
This year hasn't exactly been a bumper year for relations between the nominally Christian and Muslim sections of the planet. Muslims accuse Christians of taking hypocritical stands in the Middle East, and Christians accuse Muslims of behaving like drama queens in response to a dozen Danish cartoons and one papal speech.
Yet a recent report by a United Nations-sponsored High-Level Group of the Alliance of Civilisations has found that the apparently deplorable state of relations between Christians and Muslims has more to do with politics than theology.
And even the most cursory analysis of the message of Christmas and Eid will reinforce this simple point.
According to Islamic tradition, Abraham had two wives. He first married Sarah, who offered her Egyptian servant named Hajira (Hagar) to Abraham (Islamic tradition says Hagar was from royal stock and became Abraham's second wife). They had a son named Ismail (Ishmael). Eventually Sarah did have a son, despite her advanced years. The Koran describes this as a miraculous process, evidence of God's power to bend His own laws of nature to achieve His purpose.
Abraham's second son was Ishaq (Isaac). Sarah isn't exactly fond of Hagar. Poor Abraham feels Sarah's wrath and takes Hagar and the baby Ishmael in a remote desert wilderness named Bakkah.
Like all mothers, Hagar's primary concern is the survival of her toddler. But where will she find water in this wilderness?
That search for water is what provides the Muslim pilgrimage rituals with much of their meaning. Hagar heads for a hill, finds nothing and so heads in the opposite direction to another hill. She again finds nothing. In desperation, she runs back and forth seven times before setting eyes on her young boy kicking the dirt to uncover a rich spring.
Quickly she builds a makeshift well. Within a short period, the well attracts the attention of other travellers.
Hagar watches her son become a grown man, and receives a visit from Abraham again. The Koran says God orders Abraham and Ishmael to build a temple a simple cubic structure known as the Kaaba. The temple was a symbol of God's throne on Earth, with humans circling it in the manner angels were believed to circle the actual throne in the heavens.
The valley of Bakkah eventually became known as Mecca . The Kaaba (an Arabic word which means cube) is traditionally draped in a black embroidered cloth. The well kicked to the surface by the infant Ishmael is known as the well of Zam Zam.
Muslims on the pilgrimage also run seven times between the two hills, as well as circling the Kaaba and drinking from the well of Zam Zam. Hagar and Mary were both Middle Eastern women.
The Koran also mentions the Christmas story in some detail in a chapter named in honour of Mary. The chapter begins with John the Baptist (named Yahiya in classical Arabic), born to Zachariah, with both father and son revered as Prophets.
Mary is introduced as a chaste woman withdrawing from her family "to a place in the East", locking herself away from the rest of society. A man mysteriously appears in her private chamber. The following dialogue ensues:
MARY: I seek refuge from thee to God Most Gracious: come not near if thou dost fear God.
MAN: Nay, I am only a messenger from the Lord, to announce to thee the gift of a holy son.
MARY: How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?
MAN: So it will be: Thy Lord saith: 'that is easy for Me: and We wish to appoint him as a sign unto men and as a Mercy from Us'. It is a matter so decreed.
The man was in fact an angel. Christ was conceived miraculously. Following birth, Mary took her son back to her family. Her father was a respected rabbi and Mary was always known for her modesty and chastity. Further Mary had made a vow not to speak to any man for a fixed period of time.
When she was first publicly accused of sexual impropriety, she pointed to the baby Jesus. The Koran thus describes the first miracle of Christ his speaking from the cradle in defence of his mother. His exact words were:
I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet. And he hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. He hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable. So peace is on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised up to life again!
I'm not sure if Joseph or the Three Wise Men appear in the Koranic account. But a number of Jesus' miracles are mentioned. These include healing lepers and restoring life to the dead. Also mentioned is Christ's ascension. The sayings of Prophet Muhammad mention Christ's return to earth to establish the kingdom of God toward the end of time.
Both Mary and Hagar were women ostracised by and from family and community. Both were humiliated by social mores that were essentially inimical to the far greater purpose their creator had chosen for them to play. In the end, God provided the means for each of these women to overcome family and social stigma Hagar through her son's miraculous discovery of a well and Mary through her son's miraculous defence from the cradle.
Both Christmas and Eid stories show how God doesn't judge his creatures by the standards they use to judge each other. Even if these same standards are applied in the name of divine religion.
Genuinely religious people, on the other hand, recognise that their creator's mercy is for every person. God sees the hearts of all, whether they be accepted or rejected by the society of men.
Muslims and Christians have a joint responsibility to ensure this message of hope and mercy is not lost. The message should remind us of our shared Abrahamic spiritual roots. Indeed, the things that unite us are far greater in number and importance than those which divide us.
Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer and columnist for AltMuslim.com
(This article was first published in the Canberra Times on 23 December 2006.)
Disappearances in the War on Terror have formed an integral part of the Bush administration’s programme of secret detention. This latest report by Cageprisoners: Beyond the Law: The War on Terror’s Secret Network of Global Detentions, highlights the wide-reaching extent of those countries that house these detainees, generally at the behest of the US government. The report shows that out of the 120 prisons identified worldwide, 72 have been, or are currently being used by the US to interrogate detainees. By piecing together statements of released detainees, work of investigative journalists and human rights organisations, we provide the most definitive and up to date list of prisons used in the ‘War on Terror.’
The release of the report aims to catalyse the process of bringing transparency to a situation deliberately shrouded in obscurity. Deliberately denying prisoners access to open courts or any semblance of justice, whilst being tortured and coerced into giving false confessions is not befitting of any civilised society. It is imperative that transparency swiftly be brought to this process, so that the innocent can pick up the remains of their shattered lives and be returned to their loved ones. The report consists of a list of detention facilities, an accompanying document to explain the terms and provide analysis of the findings, and finally a map, pinpointing the network of ghost detention sites worldwide:
Over the last few months, particularly in the wake of the conviction of three Asian men in Scotland for the racist murder of Kriss Donald, there has been numerous mutterings on blogs and elsewhere about ‘black-on-white’ racism, suggesting that such prejudice might be as common in Britain today as white racism. These mutterings were given further volume by a discussion on Radio Asian Network, during which a number of Asian people phoned into to admit either they were racist against whites or believed that such racism was widespread or both. My immediate response was to question the significance of such racism within society. I generally invoke the picture of a school run by 100% Muslims where pupils are all white and non-Muslim. Would the teachers in this school develop low expectations for the white children? Clearly, there is compelling evidence that the reverse is often true with regards to black pupils. Moreover, one has to consider how unlikely such a scenario is, given the under-representation of blacks and Muslims in education. Institutionalised racism excludes people from social and economic opportunity.
Bitching about ugly gooras generally does not.
Now I would go a step further. I’m not sure referring to white people as stupid honkies and treating white people with suspicion counts as genuine racism. Of course, calling a white person a honky or kicking him in the teeth whilst saying it are racist as defined under the law. But that kind of racism is, I would suggest, uncommon and perhaps not what people on Radio Asian Network were talking about. What they were referring to, I would suggest, was a widespread mistrust and dislike of white people.
That doesn’t count as racism, in my book.
Take the example of institutionalised racism against black pupils in British schools. What were the authors or the report Getting It. Getting It Right referring to? They were talking about the kind of racism defined by writers like Modood (2005), whereby black people’s physical characteristics are a trope for associating all young black with a “street culture” that it is violent and anti-authoritarian. The result is that, statistically, black children are far more likely to be permanently or temporarily excluded from school compared to white children committing exactly the same offence. In short, white teachers have stereotypical views of black culture and take it out on the kids.
However, it would be more difficult to argue that black and Asian people have stereotypical views of white culture – and if they do, it is far from clear what these stereotypes are. The implausibility of this notion is down to the fact that, not put too finer point on it, ‘white’ (middle class) cultures get shoved down the British peoples’ throats from the birth to the grave. In education, schools staffed disproportionately by white professionals teach a curriculum that marginalizes non-European and working class history and thought. At home, outside of specific genres such as music, British people are presented with a visual media where whites are similarly over-represented and are more likely to appear in positive roles (the first black person on Eastenders was a burglar). It is simply a lot harder to have essentialized, monolithic views about white people because – well – British society is just so white!
This is not to suggest, of course, the ethnic minorities are huddled in some grim ghetto invisible, wretched and unable to speak. Far from it! Indeed, Britons do live in an increasingly multicultural society which is vibrant and gives voice to a multiplicity of different world views. It is not a issue of variety, however, but of dominance, especially of key public institutions. Only this week, the Muslim Council of Britain finally issued a national teaching package on Islam to schools, in order to challenge some of Orientalist and just plain inaccurate textbooks on Islam still in use, even though for many years Islam has simply not been taught. This is down to the way Religious Education has been locally organised such that it was frequently excluded from the curriculum in schools of Local Authorities where number of Muslims residing locally were few or none. This is just one example of a structural racism whereby knowledge of minority groups is marginalised and even excluded from the public sphere.
Such exclusion, in the above example, is symptomatic of a statist, monocultural approach to education. The multiculturalism that argues for the value of people living comfortably with more than one deeply felt identity cannot work as long as the dominant culture is so paranoid about its own identity that it is afraid to educate its citizens about the depth of variety of alternative identities in its midst. This paranoia is especially evident in the mass media, most recently in the bogus brouhaha over liberals trying to ‘ban Christmas’, a non-story better seen as an attempt by self-appointed cultural custodians to adopt Christmas (and Christianity) as nationalist emblems, despite the festival's much derided commercialisation.
As Stone (2004) argues cogently, Islamophobia is a serious and persistent problem in the criminal justice system, in employment, in education and in the media in Britain today. And as organisations such as the Institute for Race Relations persist in saying, other forms of racism are similarly pervasive throughout society. Racism may have reformulated itself, it may have become more polite, it may even be on the decline, but it nonetheless continues to exclude ethnic minorities, not white people, from opportunity in Britain today. This is real racism.
Anything else, I would suggest, is a phantom. That might not be the message Tony Blair, his token black friend Trevor Phillips and their apologists want us to hear, of course.
But understanding their views is not a matter of race, I would suggest, but of simply learning to tell your left from your far right.
Host UmmAli talks to Ibrahim Mousawi Al Manar TV’s Chief Editor of Foreign News about Hizbollah’s emergence as a force in Lebanon’s democracy and the U.S.’s. role in Lebanese politics.
It’s about Islam. It’s about our voice. It’s about time.
The Muslim Street
Too often media coverage of issues dealing with Islam and Muslims ignores the voices of believing Muslims entirely; non-believers, ex-believers and Orientalists define us. The Muslim Street is a series of radio shows focusing on various aspects of Muslim belief, culture, global politics and Muslim life from the perspective of believers. The hosts and guests are people engaged in activism, academia and grassroots work within the local, national and international Muslim community.
This interview was broadcast on the Houston Pacifica station, KPFT, on a new show called The Muslim Street: You can listen live every Monday at noon (US Central Time) in Houston on 90.1FM or online at www.kpft.org.
In language that would have made George Orwell shudder, one of the world's leading organisations for the protection of human rights ignored the continuing violation of the Palestinians' right to security and a roof over their heads and argued instead: "There is no excuse for calling [Palestinian] civilians to the scene of a planned [Israeli] attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful."
There is good reason to believe that this reading of international law is wrong, if not Kafkaesque. Popular and peaceful resistance to the oppressive policies of occupying powers and autocratic rulers, in India and South Africa for example, has always been, by its very nature, a risky venture in which civilians are liable to be killed or injured. Responsibility for those deaths must fall on those doing the oppressing, not those resisting, particularly when they are employing non-violent means. On Human Rights Watch's interpretation, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would be war criminals.