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Two hundred and forty Trinidadians who journeyed to Mecca for Hajj have survived yesterday’s stampede which killed more than 700 people and injured 800 others in Saudi Arabia.

T&T Guardian’s sales executive Acklima Mohammed and her husband Mobarak Mohammed who are in Mecca had just performed the Jamaarat ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina and had moved to the third floor of the building, when the stampede occurred.

Video footage provided by Mohammed showed bodies piled upon bodies. Few were moving. Ambulances rushed to the scene while Muslims gawked at the pile-up of still bodies. While international media reports said the cause of the stampede was still being investigated, Mohammed said she believed the chaos occurred when a group of Muslim faithfuls tried to stone the Jamaarat at an unscheduled time.

“There are pilgrims who come here on a low budget for Hajj and they camp out on the streets or anywhere where they can get shelter. They do not have the Saudi government’s schedule for pelting the Jamaarat. These pilgrims use the local transport. In this case they used the train. This train system is sort of new. When they got out they rushed to the first floor to pelt the Jamaarat. It was madness,” she said.

Mohammed added that the building that has the Jamaraat now has four or five levels. 

“It is huge. It has huge air-conditional blowers and many escalators. The Saudi government spent a lot of money to make it safe,” Mohammed said.

She added that leaders of the various Muslim groups did a count of the 240 Trinidadians who attended the festival and everyone was accounted for.

Asked to describe the scene of the stampede, Mohammed said, “What I saw was the helicopter hovering downwards and the ambulances. At first I thought nothing of it. We were on the third floor. It was not crowded as expected. The Saudi government had a new system in place. There was a schedule for all group leaders and you had to be there to pelt the Jamaraat at a certain time.”

She added, “ There are four to five different entrances to enter the building. There was no way that groups will crush into each other.”

Maulana Sheraz Ali, Imam of the Nur-E-Islam Mosque in El Socorro said most of the groups who had organised local pilgrims for Hajj had so far reported that no T&T nationals were hurt or killed in the stampede.

He said most pilgrims would have undergone some type of Hajj training in their respective country before the journey.

“But often this is only centered on how to perform the rituals and not how to deal with a mass of more than a million people moving at the same time. With so many people in one place trying to move around, stampedes can happen easily, sometimes set off by a loud noise that people might mistake for an explosion,” Ali said.

He added that although there was usually security in the form of hundreds of officers and guards, with so many different people speaking different languages, sometimes instructions could be misunderstood and cause confusion or even result in hundreds of people to start moving in another direction.

Contacted yesterday, President of the Trinidad Muslim League Dr Nasser Mustapha said the stampede was unfortunate.

Founder and chairman of Caribbean Hajj Limited Zabar Mohammed Baksh also expressed relief at all the local Muslims were safe. He said yesterday’s stampede occurred because a group of “harden” [undisciplined-editor] pilgrims had blocked the pathway where the Satan is stoned.

“The entire crowd had to go to one point instead of three. Some of the pilgrims don’t listen to the authorities. They don’t understand the seriousness of the issue,” Baksh said. Saying the Saudi government should not be blamed, Baksh said the leaders of world Muslim groups should be encouraged to train all pilgrims and give them certification before they are allowed to attend Hajj.

“If they don’t have the certificate, they should not come. The Saudis have tried their best to keep things safe. They have deployed hundreds of thousands of troops and they have people helping the pilgrims. The new facility has prevented a lot of chaos. I was surprised that this happened but maybe this is how God wrote their ticket. They will go to heaven and this is how things have to be,” Baksh said.

He added that two groups of Trinis will return from Hajj on Sunday while two more groups will return in two weeks time.
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Unity against deviants, terror stressed in annual Haj sermon

MINA: Enemies of Islam are plotting to destroy the Islamic nation, warned Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh during his annual Arafat Day sermon on Wednesday.
“Some of them are non-Muslims while others want to exploit Islam posing as Muslims, falsely raising the slogans of defending the Islamic nation to deceive the ignorant and common people. They only want to bring evil and disintegration to this nation,” he said, addressing the pilgrims.
The grand mufti said: “Evil sons have grown among us who are known for their deviant thoughts and recklessness. They shunned the Muslim community, profaned their blood through suicidal attacks in mosques, falsely attributing them to Islam, and Almighty Allah knows they are liars.”
He called on Muslims to fight these deviant groups because their presence in the Muslim community has done a great harm.
He said Islam came with a fair system under which all people are equal. It rejects infringement and injustices on others and, in this context, he explained a hadith quoting Prophet Muhammad in which God Almighty said: “O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have it forbidden amongst you.”
He appealed to the media to serve Islam by freeing itself of any deviant ideas and, rather, make it a means to unify ranks and call toward Allah.
He stressed that Islam is the religion of faith, the faith that is closely related to speech, action and behavior. Faith (belief) alone will not be sufficient unless associated with good deeds, he said. He called on the Islamic nation to stick to the fixed (and accurate) Islamic doctrine from where they can embark on the call to Allah.
Addressing Islamic propagators, he called on them to explain to the Ummah that Islam is for all mankind. It has a global message that Islam is not bound by color or language, but what matters is the faith, as Allah, the Almighty, said ‘the one who fears Allah the most, is the one who is the most faithful to Allah’.
Nearly two millions pilgrims from 164 nations gathered on the plains of Arafat, about 20 km from Makkah, for what is described as the most important and central element of the five-day annual Haj pilgrimage. The pilgrims, packed the massive Al-Namira Mosque to listen to the Haj sermon delivered by Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh.
Outside the mosque, hundreds of thousands had lined up row after row in order to pray the combined Dhuhr and Asr prayers. It was a very dense crowd with every pilgrim lost in contemplation and reflection. They were beseeching Allah to forgive their sins of omission and of commission.
Most of the pilgrims, with their voices quivering, eyes moist and foreheads beady with perspiration, were praying for an easy life in the hereafter. Many women pilgrims also prayed for their children and grandchildren.
The pilgrims were thanking Allah for having provided them the means and the physical strength to undertake the journey of a lifetime.
Hassan’s wife, Maimoona, was also ecstatically happy. “I feel as if a big load has been lifted from my back,” she said. “I feel light and exactly like a newborn. I have cleaned the slate of my past life and all that I do henceforth will be a new life. I will spend my life in the service of Allah who blessed us with seven children, all of whom are happily married and settled.”
Akram Ghannam, 45, from war-torn Syria, said that being in Arafat is a feeling that cannot be described. “I pray to Allah to ease the pains of all those who are oppressed,” he said.
Naimatullah Jagirdar, from India, came to perform Haj for his late father. “He wanted to come for Haj three years ago. He applied but his name was not among those drawn in the lottery which selects the limited number of Indians who come. That very year, he died and while he was on his deathbed, I promised him that I would perform Haj on his behalf. And today I did.”
As he said those last words, he cried inconsolably. “This is the least I could do for my late father,” he said, burying his face in his hands to hide his tears.
Yawar Ali Qureshi, from Pakistan, was busy praying and meditating on Jabal Al-Rahma, the Mount of Mercy. He recited verses from the Holy Qur’an. “There are so many people here. Millions. But everyone is lost in himself or herself. This is what it will be like on the Day of Judgment,” he said. “Everyone will be worried because he/she will be accountable for what they did in this world. Being here on this day is a blessing from Allah. Now we get a chance to repent and to start a new life of piety and good deeds,” said Qureshi.
“I got goosebumps, a feeling that cannot be explained, when I got to the top of Jabal Al-Rahma,” Ruhaima Emma, a 26-year-old Filipino pilgrim, told AFP. “I pray for a good life for everyone,” she said.
As the pilgrims stood in prayer at Arafat, millions of Muslims around the world prayed for their safety and well-being. Photos of pilgrims from Arafat and the live feeds on television channels moved the entire Ummah and they turned to social media to congratulate the pilgrims on having made it to Arafat. “O, Allah accept the prayers of the pilgrims,” wrote Ziyad Muammar, a Twitter user from Egypt. “Just as the Muslims are united on the plains of Arafat, may they be united everywhere on this planet.”
As the sun went down, the pilgrims began the journey to Muzdalifa which is about 9 km from Arafat. They will spend the night under the open skies, collect nearly 50 pea-sized pebbles and return to Mina on Thursday morning to perform the other rituals, including the stoning of the devil.
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Coffee A Shared Legacy of Muslim Culture


Western historians and commentators generally trace the beginnings of globalization to the second half of the 20th century. However, globalization is neither a very recent nor an absolutely unique phenomenon. The distinguished economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen argues that globalization’s history spans several centuries and that the active agents of globalization have sometimes been located quite far from the West. He points out that around 1000 AD, some of the most important technological inventions and innovations such as the clock, magnetic compass, paper, printing, gunpowder and the wheelbarrow were invented by the Chinese and subsequently spread across the world, including Europe.

Three points about the genesis and antecedents of globalization are note-worthy. First, one needs to look at globalization not as an isolated phenomenon that emerged in the West in recent times, but as the outcome of historical, social and cultural processes that took place in many non-Western contexts and that preceded contemporary globalization by many centuries. In other words, we should look at globalization from the perspective of social and cultural history and as the product of a process of cumulative progress and development. Second, a distinction needs to be drawn between contemporary globalization and proto-globalization or incipient globalization. Third, the current discourse on globalization, which is manifestly Eurocentric or West-centric, needs to be deconstructed and decentred.

Some historians, like A. G. Hopkins and Christopher Bayly, have used the term proto-globalization to describe the phase of increasing trade links and cultural exchanges that characterized the period from 1600 to 1800, which preceded modern globalization. It may be pointed out that the span of proto-globalization or incipient globalization needs to be extended beyond the 17th century. Proto-globalization or incipient globalization should not be looked upon as merely an earlier phase of globalization, but as an important precursor or forerunner of globalization which significantly impacted processes and linkages that have become a hallmark of contemporary globalization.

What is it like to be a Muslim in Cuba?

There are just 4,000 people in Cuba's small, but growing Muslim community.

But how easy is it to follow the Islamic way of life in a country with no halal butchers, where alcohol and pork are popular and - crucially - with no Mosque?

The Islamic Council of Jamaica

Propagating the true message of Islam

ISLAM IS one of the world's largest religions, with much of its converts living in the Eastern Hemisphere. Islam is also strong in some Western hemispheric countries.

And right here in Jamaica, regarded a Christian country, Islam has taken root. There are 12 places of worship, including the masjid (mosque) at the Islamic Council of Jamaica (ICOJ) headquarters, located at 24 Camp Road, Kingston 4.

This lecture, A Young Soldier of lslam: Haji Ruknudeen Sahib, examines the contributions made by this indentured immigrant who came to these shores some 120 years ago and spent 75 years in service to the Muslim community. A humble man, dedicated to the cause of lslam he joins the legions of other men such as Syed Abdul Aziz, Yacoob Ali Meer Hassan, Beekham Syne, Zahoor Khan, lshmile Khan, Hafiz Naziruddeen, Baboo Meah, Abdul Ghany (Gany), Yacoob Khan, Subrate Meah, Mohammed Ibrahim, John Mohammed, etc. who made sterling contributions to the consolidation and propagation of lslam in Trinidad and whose stories also need to be written and understood by my generation and younger generations. Like many of my generation, had it not been for the legacy I grew-up surrounded by, the trials, the tribulations and the triumphs of the Muslim community would have been largely ignored, for I benefited from the struggles of our fore parents and did not need to interrogate what existed. It is also a struggle that takes on new twists and turns in my generation and those after me.  How to be Muslim in a globalized world with its distinct myriad images of individuality and modernization, with attendant norms and values that runs counter to the very principles of Islam; submission to the will of Allah, humility, goodwill, community, cooperation and service? This challenge is made even more acute as we also live in an lslamophobic (as defined by Runnymede Trust, 1997) world. The struggle to constantly adapt, to live a life in service of lslam in a new world by Ruknudeen provides lessons for all of us even fifty years after his death.

Causes Of Extremism

Occupation with Side Issues:

Intellectual shallowness and lack of religious insight result in an intense interest in marginal issues like giving excessive importance to the growing of beard, the wearing of cloths below the ankle, so on and so forth. What is more dangerous is attempting to impose these on others. Sometimes what is fard (obligatory) is superseded by what is recommended, and this is against the spirit of Islam.

Excessive Extension of Prohibitions:

An extremist, due to lack of knowledge, may be seen to force others to drink while sitting. Since the hadeeth, which permits drinking water while standing, are more authentic as cited by Bukhari. It is mainly due to lack of thorough knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence and of Shariah.

Emphasis on Allegorical Texts:

Ignoring the Qur’anic verses which are straightforward and clear and giving more stress on the allegorical ones is another cause of extremism. (ref. Qur’an, 3:7)

Lack of Respect for Specialization:

One of the causes of extremism is a reluctance to listen to people who hold different views. Extremists have little interest in dialogues, as they never imagine that their views could be tested in the light of others, and be either contradicted or refuted. They may have received SEMI-knowledge. These devout young people ignore the fact that if they want to study Shariah, they must SEEK help of reliable Muslim scholars.

Lack of Insight into History, Reality and the Sunnah of Allah:

Some people continue to seek or demand the impossible and the unavailable, want to change the whole fabric of society by illusory means and imaginary methods. Prophet (SAWS) spent 13 years in Makkah, performed salah and tawaf on the premises of Ka’bah, though it was surrounded at that time by more than 360 idols.

Two Important Sunan:

1. Gradation: Allah created the universe in stages. In dawah, initially, Prophet (SAWS) gradually introduced the basic teachings of Islam.
2. To achieve targeted goals, giving the allowance of due time is important.

Extremists seem to ignore these two important ways.

Islam: A Stranger in Its Homeland:

Perhaps the most alarming and unbearable factor for any ardent and devout Muslim is that in many Muslim countries, perversion, corruption, and falsehood are rampant. Their opinion is that all the rulers of Arab Muslim countries are mere Pieces On A Chessboards and puppets in the hands of the secret powers that rule the world. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Muslims to be indifferent to the tragic mishaps that beset this Ummah (or to watch their brothers in Islam being SLAUGHTERED like animals, and their sisters being abused and raped). This state of affairs also contribute to the generating of extremist views.

Impediments Imposed On Da'wah And Du'at:

This cause of extremism pertains to the freedom to CALL people to Islam. Islam does not want a Muslim to work alone. Islam not only teaches a person to be pious and righteous but also enjoins them to try to reform others. So Muslims regard this vocation of calling people to Islam as a religiously mandated duty.  The gravest sins committed by some of the Muslim Governments are the censorship on the freedom to call people to Islam as a deen and a system of beliefs and a way of life. The intimidation of du’at and of those who call for the application of shariah, the establishment of the Islamic state, the unity of the Ummah, the liberation of the Muslim land, and the support of all Islamic causes leave few options open for Muslim youths other than desperate measures. This pressure generates extremism. Is it logical, therefore, to blame the youth who – despairing of being allowed to call for Islam with wisdom and nice preaching – have resorted to violent means? In Egypt, in 1954 and 1965, devout Muslims were subjected to nightmarish, hair-raising, unbelievable tortures in the military prisons: they were lashed, exposed to flames, their flesh burned with cigarettes; men and women were being hung upside down like slaughtered animals, while the executioners took turn scorching them until their bodies swelled up in heaps of blood and pus. Why? Why are they subjected to this torture? What crime have they committed?

 ... these cause extremism.

(Source: 'Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism', by Yusuf al Qaradawi, summary by Atiq Ahad) This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Above author takes full responsibility of it. 

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