Monday, October 31, 2005
- One detail from Tabari’s vast collection of historical material. The Book of News on Prophets and Kings, gives some indications about the position (and role) of the woman in the early period of Islam.
A detailed description of the battle of Kadesi that was to decide the destiny of the Persian Empire includes the following lines:
”The sun rose on the third morning, all troops were in their positions, both Arabs and Persians. The muslims had already lost two thousand soldiers, severely wounded or killed, while the pagans had lost ten thousand of theirs. Saad said: You can bathe the killed, or bury them with their blood on. Gatherers carried bodies to the graves, while the wounded were committed to the woman’s care. Majid ebu Zaid supervised the work. Women and children were digging graves during the two days of Agwat and Armat, on both coasts of Mushariq; two and a half thousand soldiers who were killed on Kadesi were buried there” (Gabrielle, ibid, pp 198-199).
Thursday, October 27, 2005
"The history of Islam is yet to be written. What exists now under that title is everything but true history, which is not surprising. It was not written by an objective mind and with expertise, but either from passionate hatred or passionate love! Hatred and love write poetry, not history. In more than a thousand years, there were so many of those who reached for pen in order to slander, devaluate, or at least cover up. A lot of black paint was used to picture some events, or even entire ages, much darker than they had been.
Later on, some more objective minds occurred, but how could they get a real picture of a time that they were not able to know themselves (directly) and if all information that was available to them was full of bitter hate? Could they make objective and realistic judgements, even if they wanted to? On the other hand, devout and enthusiastic believers exaggerated in their way - glorifying successes of all kinds. But the real truth was most likely somewhere in between, because life as it is the case, had its ups and downs, its moments of light and shade. However, negative exaggeration was much more frequent and significant, so that it had a decisive influence upon the picture that was created on the developments that had taken place in the territories of the modern Islamic world"
The Islamic fast which is the union of asceticism and joy - and even pleasure in certain cases - is the most natural and most radical educational measure that has ever been put into practice. It is equally present in the king's palace and the peasant's hut, in a philosopher's home and a worker's home. Its greatest advantage is that it is really practiced.
-adapted from Islam between East & West, by Alija Izetbegovic, p.210
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
His crime? Being a real Muslim, under Tito's communist regime in Yugoslavia, during the 1980s.
His fate after prison?
-President of Bosnia during the war-torn years and massacres of the 1990s.
-signed the famous Dayton Peace Accords in the mid 1990s.
-passed away from this world in 2003
His prominent works?
-Islam Between East & West (his magnum opus)
-Inescapable Questions: Autobiographical Notes
-Notes from Prison, 1983-1988 (a treasure chest of insights)
Here's one of his prison notes:
"In literature, the greatness of a hero is not in his social significance, but in the greatness of the moral dilemma he represents. A character is great if he represents the good and the evil in a novel, irrespective of his social ranking, his title or position. This is why, in a novel or a drama, a king may be an insignificant character and a servant may be a hero. Why is it not so in life? The reason is that in writing the writer introduces us to the soul of a hero, and in real life we get to know people only by their outer side. A man may be in our vicinity for years (at work or in the neighborhood) and we may believe that we know him, and what we know, in fact, are exactly the things that bear no moral value: name, profession, financial situation and social standing, etc. What is truly important and what no one but a writer could tell us about that person, usually remains unknown"
Allaaama Iqbal (rh) once said in a couplet:
'As for crows, they fly everywhere, freely
but the Shaheen (the eagle who soars high), everyone wishes to imprison him'
Our Bosnian amir flew to great heights by Allah's Grace. Unfortunate indeed, that so few Muslims today know of him, or read his works.
His masterpiece, Islam Between East and West, was PIVOTAL in my acceptance of Islam. A mentor of mine once expressed that there has been no Muslim contribution so broad in its scope, so unique and unconventional in its thrust, save this work.
Muslim thinkers & activists in southern India are now translating his "Notes from Prison" into two different languages. One of them is circulating each prison note on a daily basis in his newspaper, and the reader feedback has defied expectations.
So, read in the name of thy Lord, if you wish to know more:
(Izetbegovic: hero of Sarajevo)
(a review of his autobiography)
(a conversation with Dr. Mustafa Ceric, his close friend)
(an obituary & scenes from his funeral)
Friday, October 21, 2005
The 17th of Ramadan marks the day of the Battle of Badr.
A moment when the earliest believers and the Chosen Messenger (saw) who led them were granted a poignant & crucial military victory so glorious & so unfathomable, given the sheer odds. When the 313 persecuted, hungry yet zealous and spiritually indomitable Companions of the Messenger of God (saw) were severely tested by our Lord - and fought like warrior poets, against the Quraish tribes who vastly outnumbered them.
60 of them were Muhajirs. The rest were Ansars. And they did not fight alone. God was indeed pleased and reinforced this humble batallion of faith with legions of Angels!
Those veterans of Badr, have a very high rank amongst all of the Companions themselves (may Allah be well pleased with them all). During the rule of Hz Umar (ra), the highest pensions were awarded to the Badriyeen from the Bait-ul-Maal.
O soldiers of Badr! We salute you, and we Love you. God forever be pleased with you all.
Ya Rabb ul Izzah! Bestow upon us the resolve and goodness they had.
More on Badr, below:
www.geocities.com/badr_313/ (comprehensive history)
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Personally, du'as have worked wonders for me by His grace. It's also had the added benefit of increasing my grasp of Arabic words, despite my illiteracy. This really helps, when I hear the same roots being used in tilawah (Qur'anic recitations).
I've also noticed that when one follows the etiquettes of making supplications (adab ad-dua) , it makes a real difference. There must be lists of etiquettes in the classical tomes that I remain unaware of, yet I do know this much:
1) One should begin with awareness of His majesty and one's own utter dependence on Him & mention His praise (eg. Alhamdulillah ar-rabbil Aalameen)
2) Then one should recite prayers on Rasulullah (saw)
3) Then one should make prayers for oneself FIRST (istighfar, especially) and then for others.
4) Upon closing this appointment with our Lord, one should again praise Him and then end with prayers on Rasulullah (saw).
Imam Tirmidhi narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) said ‘Verily, supplications are stalled between the heavens and the earth, and are not lifted up until the supplicant invokes blessings upon the Prophet (saw).’
Of course there are other 'obvious' etiquettes in du'a, such as being in wu'dhu, facing the Ka'bah, invoking His Beautiful Names in relation to what we ask Him for, etc.
There are also the favorable TIMES in which du'a is usually heard by Allah (swt). In our prostrations during prayer. While fasting. The month of Ramadan. During rainfall. In the depth of the night. While we are struck with illness or other calamities. And whenever we feel intense emotional pain, thus propelling our hearts to seek Grace.
It's said that du'a is the weapon of the believer. With that in mind, let us truly be comrades in arms and share our spiritual artillery.
Here are a few du'as I especially love (pardon the crude translations):
1) From Rasulullah (saw):
Allahumma inni audhu`bika min ilm la yanfaa
wa audhu `bika min qalbi la yakshaa
wa audhu `bika min nafsin la tashbaa
wa audhu `bika min dawaat la yustajaad
(Oh God! I seek refuge in you from knowledge which has no benefit
and from a heart which does not fear
and from a self that is not satisfied
and from prayers which go unanswered)
Allahumma inni as`alukal hudaa wat-tuqaa, wa`l afaafa, wa`l ghina
(Oh God! I ask you for guidance, for piety, for chastity & for wealth)
2) From Imam Sufyan at-Thawri (ra):
Ahmad ibn Yunus relates that he used to hear Sufyan say countless times:
Allahumma sallim sallim. Allahumma sallimna `warzuqna al-aafiyata fid-dunya wa`l akhira
(Oh God, keep me safe. Oh God grant me security and enrich me with utmost good in this life and the hereafter)
Come on people, share your du'as! Allah will smile on us all. Perhaps if we're fortunate, He shall grant us more than what we ask.
wa sal`Allahu a`lan-Nabiyy.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
He's someone I've known for years. When I took my shahadah, he was by my side. A junior med school batchmate of mine, he's now working as a house surgeon in one of rural Karnataka's busy hospitals.
So if his blog isn't updated enough for your attention span, understand there are 2 reasons for this:
-he's a doctor
-your nafs is impatient
He recently became a father too - hence, Abu Unaysah. Isn't she adorable? Yes, she is.
Yes, he's american like me. And yes ladies, he's married.
I pray that he & I be under Allah's shade, at a time when there is no Shade except His. I'm certain he makes du'a for this more consistently than I do.
Welcome aboard, bro.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Another Earthquake strikes. Qadr`ullahi wa masha`a fa`aala...
The BBC-World has been reporting on this non-stop over the past 24 hours, calling it "the South Asian Quake", since it's affected not only Pakistan, but neighboring India and Afghanistan as well. Delhi and Rajasthan, and Srinagar in particular, sustained serious damage.
Death and destruction is rampant in all three regions, but especially Pakistan, particularly the Muzaffarabad & Azad (also known as Pakistan-occupied) Kashmir region. As of Sunday morning, the BBC-World put out an estimate of 18,000 feared dead in Pakistan ALONE.
There is Fitan all over the world now. It's scary, especially that it's happening in the holiest of our Months. Not just the South Asian quake.
Not just the hurricanes’ Katrina/Rita (and now, Stan?) which has now reached saturation in our souls & media.
Not just the fact that worshippers in Iraq have to be extra careful a bomb doesn't go off in their masajid while they pray Tarawih.
Central America, now has major flooding, and many are dying & left homeless.
The CDC and WHO fear a real flu pandemic, that may kill tens of millions - and these are relatively conservative estimates. It’s rare that both of these agencies issue warnings simultaneously, and in alarmist fashion. There are already established human cases in China and Canada.
It is self-evident to anyone with an ounce of Iman & Khawf in their hearts, that all of this is a sign from al-Muntaqir, al-Sareeul`Hisab. (the Avenger, the Swift in Reckoning). When earthquakes strike, they come swiftly and take everything that is dear to us, away. All that we hoard up. The earth also shakes, because *she* is releasing her Burden, as Surah Zalzalah so clearly illustrates. What burden is this?
Our sins, and our ghaflah (heedlessness). Individual, familial, societal, regional, global.
Sh Nuh relates in an online lecture, that Imam Junaid al-Baghdadi (ra) once said:
Al-aarifoon are asleep..! wa`l-Jahiloon amwaat.
(the Knowers of God are asleep!...and the ignorant ones are DEAD).
Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum.....awaken us from our dying slumber. Help us to defeat the dirty intrigues of our Selves.
Ya Allah - bring us back to LIFE (say Ameen with me, and MEAN it)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
I'm in Gondor now. Crack open your maps of India, use a little imagination and some analysis of what Tolkein's descriptions of what Gondor was like, and you might just pinpoint my current 'residence.'
Why Gondor? 'Coz my mushrik relatives are there. We also know that maintaining ties with our relatives is a vital part of our deen. Even, and perhaps especially, when they are non-Muslim.
Yet I'm on Safr (long journey) now, which technically exempts me from fasting. While I am maintaining my fard and du'as thanks to His tawfiq, saum is a TRUE shield. One which I've forgotten how to wear. The psychological guilt of consuming food/drink while you know the ummah is on empty stomach can sometimes overwhelm.
But I know Allah is the Most Understanding, and the Truly Merciful.
My wise mentor, who some consider 'the beloved of the Beloved', said:
"I'm not fooled by spiritual speculations. Don't fret about a 'compromised' Ramadan, Allah will give you TEN Ramadans.'
When Neo (Keanu Reeves) met the oracle in 'The Matrix,' she knew the advices given would disconcert him. She said: 'Sorry kid - you've got the gift. But it looks like you're waiting for something'
As Neo left her abode, Morpheus smiled and said:
'What was said, was for you - and you, alone'
The sincere 'ulamah & shuyook (learned, God-fearing scholars) are our oracles. Pragmatic wise men also guide us, when He feels we need nuts & bolts advice. Even a drunk man, or a helpless newborn, can impart lessons to us our parents or other well-intentioned souls, cannot.
Ultimately, no one has a monopoly on 'Irshad, save Him. Towards Hikmah then. Towards Afiya, Sahl, Sabr & the firmest maqams of Iman.
Oh Allah, I can only TRY, to Run to You alone. Show me the meaning of Haste to your Pleasure...
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
As I read my earlier post, ‘Rajab, Ramadhan & Tolkein,’ I now realize that I'm forced to eat my words. Why do I say this?
Read what Imam Zaid Shakir says in his latest piece (http://www.zaytuna.org/articleDetails.asp?articleID=63#_ftn2):
Those who have failed to take advantage of the months of Rajab and Sha’ban to prepare for the blessed month of Ramadan should be especially careful to take full advantage of the latter month.
Reflect on Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali's words:
Harken! O you who was not content to sin throughout Rajab.
His rebellion against his Lord had to continue the duration of Sha’ban.
The month of fasting has now come to shade and shelter you,
Do not transform it also into a month of sinning.
Recite the Qur’an and glorify [God], with diligent assertion.
Indeed! It is a month for glorification and the Qur’an.
Deny your bodily appetites, seeking your soul’s salvation.
Eventually, the earth will consume the body.
How many deceased people have you known who fasted?Amongst your family, neighbors, and brothers.
Death has erased them, leaving you behind.
Get serious [about your religion], for the living are quite close to the dead!
You take delight in the ‘Eid outfits being cut out now for the festival.
But soon they will be your burial shrouds.
How long will the person be happy with his worldly home?
Knowing that his ultimate home is the grave
(Source: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Lata’if al-Ma’arif [The Subtleties of Knowledge], (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1997/1416) p. 282.)
I humbly thank all of you who've made this blog possible & continue to visit and give me feedback. Please continue to do so, and don't be afraid to be harsh in your criticism. I welcome it.
And spare me a moment in your du'as to Him, because once again, this revert of a mushrik family will not be able to enjoy a full Ramadhan this year...
Ya Rabb ul Izzah - grant me Refuge and embrace me tightly...
And exalt and bless Rasulullah and his family, wives, zurriyat & ansars, for eternity...