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Islamic Society

There has been a perpetual conflict between the forces of virtue and evil since the creation of this world. The Battle of Karbala is indeed an iconic symbol of this sort of conflict. This battle was not merely a conflict between two individuals- Hussain ibn Ali (AS) and Yazid ibn Mu’awiya. But it was essentially a clash between two conflicting ideologies i.e. Hussainism and Yazidism. This clash of ideologies lies at the very root of what has been dubbed a “Resurrection of Islam”. Yazidism posed an existential threat to Islam. It tried to suppress and subjugate the Muslim polity. So Hussainism instantly appeared to confront and counter Yazidism....

 

“I learned from Hussain how to be wronged and be a winner, I learned from Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed.”? Mahatma Gandhi

The story of Hussain (as) is a time that invokes abundant grief and sadness among the Ummah (nation) who remember the Battle of Karbala and heinous acts of Yazid’s army. Today, tens of millions continue to visit the shrines of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) beloved family....

 

The Sharia emerged as a legal corpus at the same time as the Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence, at the end of the 8th century. And it is unsurprising that the few rules established to govern life in society in the small community of Medina were no longer sufficient by the time of the conquests. This was not just as a result of the breadth and complexity of the questions posed by the administration of far-reaching territories as the Islamic world expanded. It was also necessary to respect personal status as dictated by the main religions, and to take into account a whole host of local customs....

It is amazing to note how he drew one’s attention to verses or their other possible meanings one ordinarily hastily passes by. For instance he often asked whether the verse stating that the Christ’s true believers would prevail over the unbelievers till the Day of Resurrection (3:55) implied God’s endorsement of certain dominance of the Christian West and if not why not. It is true that Muslims truly follow the Christ but are they alone in thus following him? Is it possible to deny the share claimed by Christians? ...

 

All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Sayyidna Husain (RA), shortly before his Shahadat, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab (RA), at not to mourn over his Shahadat in this manner. He said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.”...

 

Haj, it has been said, is a powerful experience, and a catalyst for change like no other. And it is. There was much I learnt being part of a global community of more than two million people. We trekked under the scorching heat of the desert sun, and waded through the crush of people together, sharing not just succulent Ajwa dates and refreshment, but tears and laughter....

 

And so, underneath the world of appearances, shapes, dogma and law, there exist an inward reality (Haqiqa) which is its true foundation and gives it meaning. This reality is what the Sufi tends to perceive, starting from the outward and peripheral norm, the Sharia, for a journey across the road of initiation (Tariqa) which connects appearance to essence - the shell to the core. This introspective process is outlined in the Quran (51:20)...

 

I find it easy to immerse myself in outer planning and needs, but this can sometimes be a distraction from my internal work. All practices on the Sufi path are connected to developing the soul, so serving outwardly affects us inwardly. It is difficult to look at how I serve myself, what aspects of my inner world need clearing, what burdens I happily shoulder, and which bitter thoughts I shrink from....

 

But if Saudi Arabia withstood the storms that the Arab Spring caused in its neighbourhood, credit must also to the House of Saud which enjoys awe and respect among the civilians. Or are the citizens too afraid to raise a voice against the House of Saud? The same House of Saud concluded a pact in 1733 with Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the preacher whose dangerous ideology would be known as Saudi-funded Wahhabism. The good thing is that bin Salman acknowledges the mistakes the kingdom made in the past....

 

Islamic fundamentalists are not anti-imperialists because they are not anti-capitalists. Whereas anti-imperialism symbolises liberation, Islamic fundamentalism is oppressive. In fact, it theologises oppression of women, religious minorities, ‘heretical sects’, sub-nationalisms and every kind of opposition. But it is also not Islamic fascism – as fashionable academics or Islamophobic politicians in the West lazily label it....

 

There are Sufists with different identities. Someone can be peaceful Sufi in a mosque and violent Jihadi with the feeling of the Ummah being oppressed outside it. Someone can give Fatwas of war using Hanbali School of jurisprudence in the circle of his students and be devout Sufi when in isolation. But most of the Sufists are peaceful with the thinking that lesser Jihad (taking arms) is not for everyone. The greatest Jihad is personal struggle, for everyone....

 

The blood money demanded by a victim’s family recently reached 55 million riyals, which is really shocking. It is a huge amount and there is no way a murderer’s family could raise this. It is like blackmailing for some. Some people have turned blood money into something like public auctions. Such thing is unacceptable in our Muslim society....

 

The Prophet, whom Muslims are trying to protect, was — in his lifetime — cursed, abused and ridiculed. However, there is no historical tradition of him ever subjecting to death the people who abused him. On personal attacks, he just looked the other way and, in fact, forgave his persecutors. Ironically the so-called “protectors of the faith” will kill in the name of the very faith they call the religion of peace...

This is where Muslim leadership comes in. Unfortunately, that leadership is nested within often sensationalist activists who scream the loudest, or with imams who are not scholars or experts in field. To be very clear, activists who represent a Muslim identity are often not informed sufficiently on the faith they’re advocating for. Similarly, imams are also not well-studied theologians; yet they are expected to serve as scholars.....

Three years ago was when Aceh implemented stricter Shariah laws, including on adultery, homosexuality, gambling and public display of affection outside marriage. Even non-Muslims can be punished. So far, at least five of them have been caned in the province for violating Islamic criminal laws. Now, almost 20 years after Indonesia granted Aceh the right to apply Shariah law, questions are being asked about how far the country’s most conservative province will go in its efforts, and whether more harm than good has been done.....

 

The major character of the Medina state was that it despite all resistance and odds of tribal, religious and ethnic differences defined the existing population as one community (Ummah). Medina was a ethnically, tribally and religiously divided with Muslims, Jews and Pagans living in it. Jewish and Pagan tribes were always at neck to neck with one another. By being defined as one Ummah it restored not only law and order situation but enhanced its protection against outside intruders in years to come. The notion of Ummah centuries later on assumed the concept of national integration. It was designed to promote pluralism....

Why isn’t it possible, I wonder, to spend less money on Qurbani and do something to alleviate poverty? It is said that the regular prayer is the command of Allah, which is the first pillar of Islam. Those who passionately sacrifice animals to the name of Allah, what fraction of them actually prays five times?...

 
Haj: Mixing With Millions Is an Incredible Experience
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Haj: Mixing With Millions Is an Incredible Experience
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

You just never know what to expect when you get eye-to-eye and shoulder-to-shoulder with people from all over the world. All follow the same call and move towards the same goal — at the same time. It is an amazing feel of unity of purpose and strength of attachment. I admired the way most security men treated us. They were helpful, kind and understanding. An Egyptian elderly person was distributing cups of cold water. When done, his smile was shining like the sunny day of Arafat....

 

Other critics say Mecca is already at capacity during the hajj, and expansion efforts have come at the cost of Islam’s cultural heritage and the spirituality of the pilgrimage. Several historic Islamic sites were destroyed in recent years to make way for luxury high-rise hotels and malls that cater only to wealthy pilgrims. These developments dominate the Kaaba, the cube like structure at the centre of the Grand Mosque that is circled by pilgrims and that is considered to be the House of God....

The fact that millions of Muslims, transcending geographical, linguistic, level of practice, cultural, ethnic, colour, economic, and social barriers, converge in unison on Mecca attests to the universality of the Hajj. In this regard, a lot is expected from Ethiopian pilgrims, who are take part in the rituals, to make efforts in getting a proper place in the world for the noble contribution the country has made for Islam....

 

But while Muslims in Sweden may be rejoicing over the decision, the prospects for no-handshake Muslims are not looking quite so good in Switzerland. So it is in the small city of Lausanne, where a Muslim couple case came up for consideration. In the interview the couple refused to shake hands with the opposite sex. The canton voted to reject their application for citizenship because they felt that their views revealed an inability to integrate into Swiss society. They would never become Swiss citizens because they did not want to shake hands with the opposite gender....

Mr. Alam’s work over the decades has captured some of the most important political and ecological questions in Bangladesh and the region around it. A friend remembers waking up to the tragedy of the Rohingya people from Myanmar after seeing an exhibition of Mr. Alam’s photographs in New York. I first encountered his work after a cyclone in Bangladesh in 1991. I was involved in the relief effort and visited the affected area after the storm. Mr. Alam’s photographs captured the reality of my experience...

 

He wrote in Urdu which I am translating into English, “No religion can be greater than fellow-feeling and empathy. You were our esteemed guest and we knew that you never touched meat in your life. It would have been terribly uncomfortable for you, had we sacrificed a goat during your stay at our place. Allah understands the intentions and makes concessions. Moreover, we sacrificed our ardent wish to sacrifice on Eid-al-Adah because Allah says in the Quran, ‘Sacrifice what is closest to your heart and dearest to you.’”...

 

Makkah is constantly going through changes. The biggest is the expansion of the Holy Mosque itself, but many advancements have been made in the form of logistics, hospitality, security, and medical care. Some traditions and methods, however, have remained the same. A balance of tradition and progression that has the Saudi government recognizing Islamic customs while taking into consideration pilgrims’ primary needs of safety and security....

 

Few Saudis are brave enough to tell Prince Muhammad when he is making mistakes. His allies ought to speak up, but they are silent too. This is a grave mistake. Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab economy and home to Islam’s holiest sites. Successful reform there would help stabilise the whole Middle East. Foreign leaders should advise Prince Muhammad to calm down and stop damaging his country and his reputation. ...

 
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