Last evening we visited the Convention Centre where the Caribbean Food Expo is currently in progress (Wed-Fri). And what a contrast to Guyexpo (otherwise known as the Loud Music & Vulgarity & Nastiness Expo...where people were robbed by bandits and exhibitors were robbed by the organizers...it is ROBBERY if you have paid for a booth and then you are paralyzed by the NOISE).
The Food Expo was simply amazing because without the NOISE there was a free interchange of thoughts. Schoolchildren should flock there. The amount of info available was mind-boggling.
I met a woman from the FAO based in Barbados. They were exhibiting breadfruit flour...and yes we got sample BF cake. And she told us how to make the flour...cause it's not for sale.
The Guyana School of Agriculture had some exciting products on show. Pumpkin jam, plantain drink, passion fruit cheese, veggiefruits and a host of other mouth-watering items. And lovely packaging.
NARI: I met a Cuban guy, Roberto, and he was so interesting, that we ended up chatting for about 1 1/2 hours. Discussing different mulches, GMO food, schooling in Cuba (where he was taught for FREE from kindergarten to his PHd...hey, Cuba is where we need to go...we're being gouged here in Guyana with all these exorbitant school & lesson fees) & Guyana where our system is so backward. We cannot feel strongly toward the totally unlike because it is unimaginable, unrealizable; nor yet toward the wholly like because ... it is stale--identity must always be dull company. The power of other natures over us lies in a stimulating difference which causes excitement and opens communication, in ideas similar to our own but not identical, in states of mind attainable but not actual.
Hydromet: Zahir & I got an explanation of the Doppler system and Sutron Weather Info Network (real time weather data). It was done by 2 very pleasant individuals. Thank you so much.
Now without loud music the atmosphere was simply breathtaking. You saw people smiling, chatting and carrying on communication in a civilized manner. Unlike the barbaric scenes at Guyexpo.
Shamal...go and get a quality experience.
What a Performer...What a Performance!!! Unforgettable
It was sheer excellence. Sometimes one sees a video production...and then the live performance pales in comparison. Not so with a man who does not have one mediocre cell in his body.
The night was ohhh sooo perfecttt. Stars took up their place in the firmament in a clear tropical sky to accompany a star as he took his place on stage. The skies over the National Stadium were in for a treat...as a cornucopia of Praises to God & to His Prophet (p) burst into the air from hearts & lips throbbing with excitement.
We were treated to nearly two hours of a high-octane performance. Every song delivered with PASSION & LOVE. Love for God; love for the Prophet (p); love for humanity; songs urging us on to social justice.
The English, the Arabic he sung...the instruments he played...the lovely byplay with the audience ...he is a reminder that musical excellence can coexist alongside prodigious
Met a Jewish woman in NY in the 90s who taught me excellence in the written word. She knew 20 languages written & spoken. And also an extraordinarily decent woman. The fire that she lit in my soul burned brighter as I watched this transcendent performance by a master.
O Sami, thank you so much...for we do need these periodic infusions & injections of spiritual joy into our individual & societal veins which have become clogged with the plaque of rigidity & stupidity.
Music is a Medicinal Narcotic. I have read of music therapy for pain management...but never thought seriously of it. There just aren't words to aptly describe what happens to a person when they encounter the likes of Sami & his gift of spiritual music which brings rays of hope, comfort and sunshine into the lives of those who are sick. His moving versions of all his songs has the capability to lift sagging spirits and dispel fear & depression. I saw that in my 74-year-old mom. She was broadly smiling, laughing, even though for the past several weeks she has been in pain. When I looked at my rejuvenated mother with tearful but joyful eyes my voice cracked when I gently asked: "Did you enjoy the show, Mom?" And she was as excited as my 12-year-old son. Her perception of pain had decreased at his heartfelt songs. Sami's music acted as the well of eternal youth....bridging the gap between the aged and the very young. It takes you to a place of peace, offering for just a brief moment, a glimpse of Paradise.
Music allows us to laugh, cry, remember, walk, sing, clap and dance and can bring wisdom and humanity to this fragmented world. In Sami's spiritual songs, which are a form of music therapy, art and science intertwine in a natural way. When integrated, music and prayer, music & medicine, music & chores make a perfect combination. Life gets back its colour, life gets back its vibrancy.
I met a group from London & a group from New York that were amazed at the brochures. They took copies of all with promises to be in contact.
The top 6 students were each given awards for their excellent performance at CSec & Common Entrance. Hopefully their teachers were there holding their heads high...
It was truly a night of "excellences"...being there has guaranteed memories that will never dim with the passage of time...when one gets sick one draws upon memories of beauty & positive vibrations. This event charged with "Allahu" will be the number one therapeutic "remembrance"...
Thank you Sami, thank you...a million thank yous. May God be with you as you travel this earth taking the much-needed "waters" of Peace, Love & Unity to a thirsty humanity.
We were well & truly satiated last evening...there's a glow on my soul & a full feeling in my heart..am sure this could be said for everyone who attended
Shamal...it was a taste of utopia...hugs to you all
They are quoting verses from the Quran and sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, out of context in order to declare Yusuf’s music as “forbidden” (haram) or disliked (makruh) according to the Islamic legal tradition.
These dour individuals wish to convince Muslims that the music of Sami Yusuf, Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens), Zain Bhikha, Maher Zain, Native Deen, Aashiq Al-Rasul and a lengthy list of popular Muslim singers and composers are deviants hellbent on corrupting Muslim youth.
Listening to their arguments one assumes that Sami Yusuf might be performing an Arab version of Miley Cyrus’ twerking to a rowdy crowd of badly behaved men and women who egg him on as they chug back a few bottles Banks beer.
The lyrics of Sami Yusuf songs praise God for his countless bounties, the foremost of which is His sending the noble Prophet, peace be upon him, as a mercy to all of mankind.
A similar genre of music in the form of Urdu naats and qasidas has sustained Muslim religious life in Guyana for nearly 200 years and no one has ever suggested, except an ignoramus, that this practice prevents believers from listening to or memorizing the verses of the Quran.
To argue that modern music, even religious songs like those of Sami Yusuf, is prohibited, is to go where no other scholar of law has ever ventured. Citing verses of the Quran as proof that music is prohibited (haram) according sacred law is contrary to the opinion of vast majority of classical and contemporary scholars such as Imam Al-Ghazali, Ibn Hazm, Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-Arabi, Ibn Taymiyyah, the famous Hanafi jurist, Shaykh Abdul Ghani al-Nabulusi and Shaykh Mahmud Shaltut, the late rector of al-Azhar university who passed a formal ruling (fatwa) declaring music which does not involve reprehensible acts censored by the Quran and the Prophetic tradition, as permissible, not prohibited.
Read full article by clicking here.
The pinnacle of belief is what Allah says about His Holy Prophet Muhammad (pboh); that is he never said anything out of his own desire. Everything was on the basis of Divine revelations. Because of this we can conclude that Prophet (pboh) had complete faith and trust in Allah.
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah categorizes man into three groups. Those who believe in the Oneness of Allah, those who reject His Oneness and those who openly say they believe but in reality they don’t; i.e. the munafiq or hypocrites.
Amongst the first category, i.e. the believers, they are further categorized. Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said “Imaan (faith) increases or decreases”. Now we are going to look at a practical example of this hadith as it pertains to us.
Allah says in Surah Hajj;
There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see! They call on such deities, besides Allah, as can neither hurt nor profit them: that is straying far indeed (from the Way)! (Perhaps) they call on one whose hurt is nearer than his profit: evil, indeed, is the patron, and evil the companion (or help)! (22:11-13)
Some believers have faith in Allah but it fluctuates. They are like sitting on a fence when it comes to belief in the greatness of Allah. Allah is saying in the ayat above that if good comes to them they are most contented and happy. But if a trial comes to them they become agitated, disappointed and nervous. And out of this emotional unrest they become so desperate to alleviate the trial that they go to other sources for help instead of the Lord of the worlds. Allah says about such that they are losers in both worlds.
Allah is The One who cures, helps and protects us. We call on His Beautiful Names and Divine Attributes, yet the last thing people do when they are undergoing some sort of difficulty is to turn to Him. It demonstrates the level of faith they have.
For example, whenever a person gets sick they would visit a doctor because he understands something of the working of the human body. That is all well and good; but keep one thing clear, cure comes from Allah and not the doctor. The same medicine that can cure you of some ailment may not work on another, who shares the same ailment. It is Allah Who allows and grants cure, etc.
The sincere and true believers turn to Allah firstly, and then seek some way of dealing with the stressful matter knowing full well that it is only Allah Who can grant a positive conclusion. Those with little faith will run by all the creatures for help and not The Creator. And sometimes after they’ve realised that all their efforts are proven futile then they will leave the matter to Allah. This is not the way of expressing true faith in our Creator. Turn to Him firstly and not lastly!
This is also one reason why He sent His Beloved (pboh); to show how to have true faith in the Allah. And his entire personality demonstrated this, from his childhood to adulthood. For example Allah says;
Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)? And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent. (93:3-8)
The real advice and message I wish to put forth is to have true, unwavering faith in the Creator. It is not easy especially when you are faced with trying moments. Put your faith and trust in Him and after you can seek help from His creatures knowing full well that all help, cure etc. comes through Allah and He can choose to bestow His mercies through whatever medium He chooses.
Insha Allah, He will appoint a way for you to get pass the difficulty and tests. He is so Great that He listens to all of His servants at one and the same time. This is part of His Greatness. He doesn’t put you on-hold when you supplicate to Him.
He says in His Holy Words; ‘Call on Me and I will respond’. Talk to your Lord especially in the trying times. A lot of people don’t know how to communicate with Allah. Talk to Him and seek His Help and Guidance; and rest assured He listens to us all. He is most Compassionate and He truly loves you.
This is part of the perfection of our faith, i.e. to have unwavering trust in our Merciful Lord. Yes, He will test you and there will be times of difficulty and anxiety, but always remember that if you put your faith and trust in Him, He will never let you down.
May Allah enable us to be from amongst those who will have strong and steadfast faith, trust and reliance in Him, and may He take care of all our affairs in this world and the next.
- By HABIB ALI ZAIN AL-ABIDIN AL-JIFRI
- Published 09/23/2013
Three years ago in the Southern Turkish city of Mardin, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah’s Global Center for Renewal and Guidance, in association with Artuklu University, convened a conference. It had two primary purposes: first, to carefully examine and review the classification of “domains” (diyar) in Islamic law and how this pertains to the concepts of jihad, loyalty and enmity (al-wala wa al-bara), citizenship and emigration; and second, to discuss the fatwa of Shaykh Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya, commonly known as “The Fatwa of Mardin,” in which he deduced a new ruling for a jurisprudential classification of the world into domains of Unbelief (Kufr), Islam, and Covenant (‘Ahd). Ibn Taymiyya considered Mardin to belong to both a domain of unbelief and domain of Islam – unbelief due to its being ruled by the non-Muslim Tartars, and Islam due to its residents being Muslim. During the course of the conference Shaykh Bin Bayyah proposed a reevaluation of the traditional jurisprudential classification of domains. In light of modern political developments governing international relations and a global acceptance for United Nations’ treaties that have helped the world transition to a period of relative peaceful coexistence he suggested that the traditional classification would need to be reviewed.
Shaykh Bin Bayyah expressed his concern over a particular word found in the Arabic printed edition of the fatwa.[i] He requested that it be reviewed for its authenticity as it appeared (linguistically) to be unsuitably placed in the context of the text. Dr. Ahmad al-Raysuni, a member of the Islamic Fiqh Council at the Muslim World League in Makkah, objected, on the grounds that this request will open the door for skepticism and doubt in the traditional sources of knowledge. Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s response was that such a request was sanctioned and reviewing the text to ascertain its accuracy is in fact a service to the Islamic tradition.
Thus, we requested a copy of the only available manuscript of Ibn Taymiyyah’s Compilation of Religious Edicts that is found in the Zahirriya library in Damascus. Upon reviewing the text we found that Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s reservations regarding the word “yuqātal” were correct. The text in question as found in the printed editions of the fatwa reads:
Yu’amal al-Muslimu fi-ha bi-ma yastahiquhu wa yuqātal al-kharij ‘an shariat al-Islam bi-ma yastahiquhu.
“(Mardin is of a third category) in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the sacred law (sharia) shall be fought as he merits.”
Whereas the text in the manuscript read:
Yu’āmal al-Muslimu fi-ha bi-ma yastahiquhu wa yu’āmal al-khariju ‘an shariat al-Islam bi-ma yastahiquhu.
“(Mardin is of a third category) in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the sacred law (sharia) shall be treated as he merits.”
The appearance of this distortion in printed editions of the fatwa over the last 100 years has provided takfirists with one of their most important justifications for the shedding of blood and taking of life. The former mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, wrote an article on this issue and the Dar al-Ifta of Egypt issued a related fatwa.
Despite the fact that this amendment ensures Ibn Taymiyyah’s innocence from that which is falsely ascribed to him, the response from takfirists was unsurprisingly vehement. Amidst a relentless campaign to smear the conference and throw accusations at it in its aftermath, takfirists wrote three works refuting the conference’s proceedings. Al-Jazeera, expectedly, was at the head of this smear campaign via its reporting. Its local correspondent used the “low” attendance at the conference to criticise it as not having gained acceptance among the people of Mardin, ignorant of the fact that the conference was specialist in nature and not for public attendance. Likewise, he was oblivious to the participation of local scholars. Some of the attendees who contributed to drafting the conference’s final declaration took part in the smear campaign after having been subjected to criticisms by zealous fanatics.
Despite this, institutions that proclaim to fight terrorism are in a deep slumber and obliviousness to the important outcomes of this conference. Similar is the state of our fiqh councils, faith-based institutions and broadcast and print media.
Thus, the most pressing question today is: are we serious in confronting takfirist thought and ideology? If we are, I propose the following suggestions:
1.That governing bodies and political entities immediately halt dealings and interaction with takfirist ideology as and when it is employed as a tool in balance-of-power politics. At times we see some support it and at others they attack it; at times they will cultivate a fertile climate for its growth and spread to later exploit its use in political trade-offs, not minding therein to fight it (if the trade-off requires). This has been the case in many Arab countries over the last twenty years.
2.That our educational and da’wa faith-based institutions earnestly and publicly oppose this erroneous ideology through the commissioning of sharia-based studies that are strong in their argument and firm in their jurisprudential precision. These studies must tackle those specious issues which takfirists use to mislead our youth and seize their membership and loyalty, turning them into temporal bombs that will eventually explode here and there.
These studies must be widely disseminated, studied and analysed in schools, mosques, and the different media platforms. They must be discussed through dialectic seminars in which the main exponents of this ideology are invited to discern the right from wrong and for the sincere from them return to the truth. The heretics among them must be publicly silenced through argument. Media outlets must not host them alone without also having someone to respond to them.
3. Religious scholars and leaders should openly declare their rejection of this corrupted ideology. They must fulfill their duty to create awareness without hesitance or fear from threats. Allah took an oath from us to clarify the truth and warned those who conceal knowledge; He said: “As for those who conceal the evidences and the guidance We have sent down, after We made them clear to humanity in scripture, God curses them, and those who can curse them.” (2:159). When masses of ulama and faith leaders continuously promulgate the truth, followers and exponents of takfirist ideology will be powerless to respond.
4. We: scholars, intellectuals, governments, organisations and media, must have the courage to acknowledge our own unintended involvement in creating the climate for the spread of takfirist ideology. By being derelict in our duty to educate the youth of this umma in the understanding of their religion they became prey to all who falsely claim jihad in Allah’s way. This is especially the case when we consider the anger people feel at the weakness, defeat, retardation and corruption we live and experience on a daily basis.
5.We must be earnest in working towards the restoration of high regard for time-honoured Sharia seminaries like Al-Azhar in Egypt, al-Zaytuna in Tunisia, al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco, the Hadramawt and Levant traditions and the seminaries of Mauritania, the Subcontinent and Sudan. Sufficient support to ensure their financial and administrative independence must be made available. Any attempts by adherents of conflicting persuasions to tamper with these institutions or their time-tested curriculums must be prevented. We must withdraw these institutions from the realm of political competition for power. Their role should be as independent advisors who offer guidance in politics as they currently do with economics, society and other affairs of life.
6.We must stop confining ourselves to quick fix, superficial solutions. For example: (a) yielding responsibility for dealing with extremist and takfirist ideology to the security apparatus alone[ii]; (b) searching for ready-made solutions; and (c) adopting singular, independent options when it comes to decision making regarding the correction of devious thought. These all serve only to increase the complexity of existing dilemmas and corroborate delusions held by the youth.
7.We must dispose of the idea held by some, deluded as it is, that they can possibly derive benefit from the failures of the Islamists. They think they can use these failures to raise a generation of youth who’ll throw religion behind their backs to enter into the melting pot of a Western-oriented paradigm. Followers of this paradigm think that it represents the end of history and that they’ve succeeded in imbuing the world with its hue. They say that to dispute it only leads to the inevitability of the “clash of civilisations.” Continuing to jog behind this mirage will not bring prosperity to any endeavour. Rather, it will only deepen extremism, religious or non-religious, and add the catastrophe of atheistic extremism to the calamity of takfirist extremism.
8.Paradigms and cultural perspectives that are native to our identity and embrace the variables of our time must be renewed. By such we can proceed to construct a spring from which future generations can be watered and inspired to interact with the wider human community with confidence.
This confidence should free them from the dualism of rigidness[iii] and solubility[iv] towards an eagerness for coexistence that is based on participation and ambition to contribute to the development of human society.
I remind myself and all who read the words of Allah of the verse: “And let there be a people among you who invite to good and enjoin what is fair, and forbid what is repugnant; it is they who thrive” (3:104). And the verse: “Do not be like she who breaks what she has spun, after it is strong, into untwisted strands. You exploit your trust to defraud each other, lest one people become more numerous than another. God is only testing you thereby, and will clarify for you on the day of resurrection what you differed about” (16:92).
Oh Allah let us be from those who guide and are guided, and not from those who misguide and are misguided, by Your mercy oh Most Merciful of those who grant mercy.
This article was originally published in Arabic by the author on the ‘El-Watan News’ website:
- By Khalim Ali
- Published 09/15/2013
As I made my way into the convention Hall, I was greeted by throngs of people milling around in the bazaar area. Hardware, electronics, clothing, books, toys, food, drinks-you name it, they were all on display and on sale.
But I wasn’t interested in the commercial aspect of the convention. I had come to listen to the speakers- Shaykh Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, Dr. Munir El Kassem, Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Shaykh Alaa Elsayed, and Mufti Ismail Menk.
Over the next two days I would thrill to the discourses of the various speakers. They were powerful and passionate, edifying and enlightening. The call to Allah was sincere and the desire for unity was real. In fact, prior to the Question and Answer session, Chairman Hisham Muhammad, Imam of the Santa Cruz mosque, announced that no questions pertaining to “fiqh” or “madhab”- schools of thought, will be entertained. This was the clearest indication yet of all desire to keep the convention free of controversy.
There is no doubt that this convention has fired up the imagination of the Muslim community in Trinidad. Many were moved emotionally. There was a large presence of young people, the vast majority of them being hijab-wearing, women.
It was Dr. Quick who pointed out that he last visited Trinidad in 1983 and there were not so many women wearing the hijab then nor were there so many Muslims in attendance at that time.
The choice of topics for the various lecture sessions were commendable and relevant to the 21st century Muslim: Remaining Steadfast in Times of Crisis, Creating A Wholesome Community, The Role of Muslim Youth, Revival of the Ummah were some of the lecture topics and every speaker was able to present the discourses with statistics and data relevant to the contemporary Muslim.
There is no doubt that the speakers were all inspirational and motivational. But which group is going to build on and sustain the emotional “high” the Muslims are currently experiencing.
Who will co-ordinate all this positive, emotional energy to build God consciousness (Taqwa) and move to rally the Muslims to hold fast to the rope of Allah so that the Muslims will become united?
The ROU itself has taken the initiative to do just that. A ten person committee, comprising of seven men and three women, under the chairmanship of Alyasa Abdulla has been set up to seek ways of bringing the various Muslim bodies to co-operate in their various activities.
Already I am hearing that the response of a particular group doesn’t want to be part of this steering committee because of the presence of women in the group. I hope this is not so. I hope the committee will sit and discuss and come to common ground and present proposals for the Muslim to at least begin to co-operate with each other.
I must pay tribute to the dozens of young people who worked long and hard to put the entire convention together. These young Muslims were able to bring all the various Muslim organizations together- a feat I can’t recall ever happening before. May Allah grant them immense blessings.
And so, as the curtain came down on the ROU 2013, I look forward to the 2014 edition of the convention. Maybe- just maybe, we might see a much more united Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago. Insha Allah.
- By Kwesi Atiba
- Published 09/5/2013
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful
As salaamu alaikum, peace be upon you.
All Praise is for Allah the Lord of the Worlds.
I begin in the Name of Allah the Lord of the Worlds and the Lord of the People.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to address this audience of the Department of Sociology at this function, to mark the occasion of ‘Id ul Fitr, which was commemorated two weeks ago when the month of Ramadan ended. And it is so good to see the academic community in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago interested in Islamic affairs.
There are those who say that Islam is the last of the great monotheistic religions, coming after Judaism and Christianity, and many Muslims are happy to hear that. However I wish to take this opportunity to put this idea to rest, in fact put it in the grave.
Islam is the final manifestation of the original message from the Creator of the Universe to the humanity and this began with Adam (peace be upon him). When mankind strayed and forgot who is the Lord of the Universe, this message was renewed from time to time, and brought by men like Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them), among others.
This final renewed message was brought by Muhammad ibn Abdullah (pbuh), and the fundamental statement is “O mankind, worship the One God, you have no other god but Him.” In the language of Arabic the name of the One God is Allah.
This message was revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) in Arabia early in the seventh century CE and during the twenty – three years of revelation which followed, what was delivered was memorized and eventually compiled as the Qur’an.
The message is all embracing and in the early stages some of the persons who became the close companions of the prophet were other that Arabs, like Bilaal from Abyssinia, Salman from Persia, Suhayb from Persia etc.
Those who are aware of the history of the region will know that the message of Islam entered the space of Trinidad and Tobago in the late eighteenth century CE, when the Spanish government encouraged French planters to take up residence in Trinidad under the Cedula of Population of 1783 CE.
Trinidad was seized by the British in 1797 CE and names like Muhammad Jonas Bath and Muhammad Sesei were part of the Muslim population of Port of Spain. These were two Afrikan slaves who became leaders in the post slavery period.
The message of Islam had entered the Afrikan continent, when number of Muslims sought protection in Abyssinia, from the Negus to avoid the persecution of their Arab brethren, who opposed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his supporters.
Over the last years of the life of the Prophet, and especially the last ten, Islam spread rapidly and by the time of his death most of the people of the Arabian Peninsula, had embraced the message. The successors of the Prophet used their missionary zeal to carry their understanding and vision out of Arabia.
The influence of Islam went into Egypt and across North Afrika, Syria and Persia, and by 711 CE Tariq bin Ziyad was crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, and the island in the waterway was named Jabal Tariq (mountain of Jabal), now anglicized to the Rock of Gibraltar.
By the eleventh century CE, Islam was spreading in West Afrika and Bilad us Sudan (Land of the Blacks) was the land from Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, from Senegal to present day Sudan. In 1324 CE the then leader of Mali, Mansa Musa made his famous pilgrimage to Mecca.
By the time the European slave trafficking was at its peak during the 16th to 18th century CE, Muslims were a major portion of the population of Bilad us Sudan, from where many slaves were taken, and some historians estimate that 10 to 15 percent of Afrikan slaves were Muslims. However, there were very little or no opportunities to pass on their way of life to their descendants, in the colonies of the Americas and Caribbean.
From the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to this 21st Century CE, the message of Islam has reached every continent, in a number of different ways and has impacted on every society, directly and indirectly.
Some societies have embraced the message fully, and some are still coming to terms with their encounters with the understanding that Islam expresses, and as the norm with every message from the Creator, there are some rejecting and opposing the way of life.
From Malaysia and Indonesia in the Pacific, China, India, Russia, Asia Minor (sometimes referred to as the Middle East); Eastern and Western Europe; East, North and West Afrika; there are countries with Muslim majorities and others with significant Muslim minorities.
Islam has been spread by preachers, teachers, merchants, by military personnel, slaves and indentured labourers.
In the Americas and Caribbean, there are growing Muslim communities who are using the same call as all the prophets, their supporters and followers: “O mankind, worship the One God, you have no other god but Him.”
Allah says in the Qur’an 30:22, “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the variations in your language and your colours, verily in that are signs for those who know.”
Muslims guide their lives by the directives of the Qur’an and the example left by the final Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh). This means that there is some level of standardization however, geography, history and social conditions play a large part in the evolution of different Muslim communities.
The role of Islam is to guide a people to a culture which advances righteousness in a general way by removing elements that are negative, while preserving those elements that are on the correct path.
For example, no Muslim cuisine will include pork or alcohol, but it does not mean that all Muslim foods are the same, since there are differences in taste among different people.
The dress code for men and women require modesty in clothing and this is referred to as hijab. Hijab is not the head covering of the Muslim women but the state of being properly clothed, even for men.
The women of Iran and Iraq are usually dressed in black coloured clothing, the women of Saudi Arabia are usually dressed in white or pale coloured clothing. However, women of the Afrikan and Asian continent are usually attired in colourful clothing. However, the obligation to properly cover the body remains the same.
The architecture of the desert differs vastly from the architecture of the rain forests and many of the mosques of the east take on pagoda style roofing. What works in the temperate climes will not necessarily work in the tropics.
The principles of Islam have always encouraged open-mindedness and thinking. On issues that are not revelation from the Creator, nor directives from the Prophet, the community has the obligation and the responsibility to seek the best answers which do not violate the standards of Islam.
The call to mankind since the creation has been a singular, clear one and a firm reminder of submission to the Lord of the Universe. “O mankind, worship the One God, you have no other god but Him.”
Notes of a speech delivered on Thursday 22nd August 2013 at University of West Indies at a joint celebration of Emancipation Day and Eid ul Fitr hosted by the Faculty of Social of Sciences.
- By Dr. Waffie Mohammed
- Published 08/27/2013
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
On the 29th night of Ramadan, 1434 (Wednesday August 7th, 2013) the Muslim community upheld their duty and looked for the appearance of the new moon at dusk, the sighting of which would signal the start of the month of Shawwal and therefore the end of the month of Ramadan). Specific mention must be made of the following that set the tone and theme for this activity, viz.:
· From the advice of those University collaborators in Astronomy, it was recognised that moon sighting would be difficult given the age of the moon and its relative position and angle to our location in the western hemisphere.
· On the basis of precedent, the general practice by the Ulamaa was the acceptance of the regional sighting from countries in close general proximity, specifically Guyana and Grenada – two of our immediate neighbours in the region.
· Based on historical trends, the Ulamaa would be notified from their respective followers of any local moon sighting and they would communicate amongst themselves for a final position and agreement.
· It must be noted as well that there have been controversy in the past by some groups (those based locally and also from those international groups with or without local representation) who have advocated for Ummah-based sighting – so that when the moon is sighted in Mecca we can accept their sighting and our calendar dates would be consistent. This has generally been rejected by the local Ulamaa since the longitudinal and basis for declaration of the start of the month vary.
THE PROBLEMS THAT AROSE
On the night in question, no one locally saw the moon, but it was advised that the moon was sighted in Guyana by a small number of Muslims from various organisations. Contact was made with known Muslims in the community and those contacts were among the persons who saw the moon. They declared Shahada, and testified that they in fact saw the moon – a practice of acceptance established in Hadith.
On the basis of this sighting, some of the Ulamaa announced that the next day – Thursday August 8th, 2013, would be the Start of Shawwal and the observance of the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations. Others adopted a more cautious stance and decided to withhold their announcement until their connections in Guyana could verify the sighting. All the while, Imams at the various Jamaats were waiting with their congregations to either declare Eid on Thursday or pray the Taraweeh salaat.
PROGRESSIVE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND ADVICE
One organisation in Guyana reportedly advised their members (and their contacts in Trinidad) that the moon sighting was not being accepted, and that they (i.e. the organisation) were observing Eid on Friday August 9th, 2013. A prominent local Muslim organisation and Individual Ulamaa decided to accept this position and declared Eid was to be observed on Friday. They proceeded to observe the Taraweeh salaat – which derivatively meant they were in effect unavailable to their followers and other inquirers to offer their considerations. Amongst these awaiting groups included the media – seeking to advise the public and other Ulamaa seeking clarification of the position. Another Guyanese organisation advised their public that they were not accepting the moon sighting, and that Eid would be on Friday. This was also communicated to the Trinidad Ulamaa.
All of this – being imposed within the already uncertain context of acceptable moon sighting, led to further confusion within the community. Within one national Muslim organisation, some of the Ulamaa and Executive issued contrasting positions and thereby gave contradictory advice on the day of Eid.
Unavoidably, a number of issues which surfaced were identified, including, amongst others:
· the issue of the acceptability of regional sighting
· the confidence of various personnel in the various Ulamaa
· the reliability of the witnesses – some members of the public, sadly, even profiling the nationality as a basis for justifying rejection of the sighting
· the various Islamic guidance on the start and end of Ramadan and the sighting of the moon
Some of these relate to diverse positions in Fiqh based on the different schools of thought, and in this regard the overwhelming majority of persons locally and throughout the world follow the Fiqh of Abu Hanifa – by which we as members of the Ulamaa are also guided.
A FINAL POSITION
At or around 9.00 pm the Ulamaa were able to establish communication, and the justification for the non-acceptance of the sighting was stated by an individual Ulamaa – essentially brining into question the reliability of the witness accounts. The specific refutation was “perhaps they saw a star or another planet and mistook it for the moon.” The other prominent institution following the deference of Eid gave no justification, and subsequently advised they take the Guyana organisation’s stated position without question.
The Ulamaa and the Executive of the organisations involved in this matter agreed that the internal disputes in Guyana was a basis for Trinidad defining their own position, and as such were able to define the final position – The month of Ramadan had only 29 days, the moon was not sighted locally and there was controversy in Guyana as to the acceptability of the moon sighting. As such, it was decided that Eid would be observed on Friday August 9th, a consensus agreed upon by the local Ulamaa and which was then issued by the various persons involved to their respective audiences, through the available media channels online and offline. Those who previously advised that Eid would be on Thursday retracted their statement and reissued the revised position.
The matter was further pursued by myself and it was determined that those who sighted the moon included six Muslims in one location and five Muslims in another – some of these being Imams and heads of their organisations, and known to be upstanding individuals within their territories.
This then brought into question the basis on which their sighting of the moon was rejected. The contacts within the organisations were approached, and the question was posed.
To date, the responses gave some indication of the process used to determine moon sighting, but no specific rationale for rejection of the sighting of upstanding members of the Muslim community within Guyana was given.
It was further learned that the Guyanese organisations in question were involved previously in legal contentions, which made the rejection a seemingly inter-organisational political stance and not necessarily a position based on Islamic Shariah.
Reports also surfaced on the morning following this debacle that the moon was in fact sighted in Mayaro, Trinidad, by two Muslims who failed to report the sighting to their Imam or to any person or position in authority, or media house.
In a similar vein, information in the public domain is that one organisation who initially rejected the moon sighting, reversed their position and informed their community that although they would be observing Eid on Friday August 9th, this was being done on the second day of Shawwal, and that the moon sighting on the night of Wednesday August 7th was accepted as valid.
It is my conclusion that in this instance, the persons who rejected the moon sighting on the night of Wednesday August 7th in effect allowed themselves to be misguided, misguided their members, and by extension misguided those in Trinidad who follow their lead and evidence.
It is also my conclusion that those local scholars who are aligned to specific organisations in other countries need to revisit the Islamic Shariah that guides in this instance moon sighting – and pay particular attention to the Shariah that informs the examination of evidence and the declaration of Eid, since it would serve them and the entire Muslim community well in future.
The recurring issue of moon sighting and acceptability requires institutionalised infrastructure among the decision makers to collaborate proactively and communicate – among themselves and to the wider publics. It needs to be noted that some measures have already been initiated and have progressed to an advanced degree to provide the required institutionalised support. The public is assured that further statements on this will be forthcoming as developments unfold, Inshah Allah.
It must be noted that these aforementioned measures would only relate to those committed to a unified, integrated Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago (and by extension the region), but unfortunately these measures would not quell the issuing of already unaccepted positions of persons intent on following minority factions in other parts of the world, or in other iterations creating mischief within the community.
Finally, this issue also surfaced the need for the members of the Muslim community to recognise and defer to the authority of the scholars in such issues, show some restraint as the collaboration progresses, and not issue their own misguided or misunderstood positions in the heat of the moment and risk the same mistakes that manifested in our regional counterparts.
WE ARE ONE UMMAH, and the way for this to be realised and sustained is the adherence to the Quran and Sunnah. This can only be achieved if the esteemed Ulamaa – who are versed in advanced study of the Islamic sciences and schools of thought, and all of whom I hold in high regard – are allowed to lead the community in the ways which are defined within Islam, and in those areas to which they committed themselves, their lives and those of their families.
May Almighty Allah continue to Guide us and have Mercy on us all.
Brothers and sisters, welcome back after the blessed month of Ramadhan, and we pray that Allah would have blessed us tremendously for all our efforts made in the blessed month; and today we would have been much better as a believer, both morally and spiritually.
Allah has established a law regarding His connection with the believers and how we can get closer to Him. He says good erases evil. We have a good example of the application of this in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (pboh) regarding the month of Ramadhan where he is reported to have said “whoever fasts Ramadhan with faith and seeking the reward of Allah will have his past sins forgiven”.
So good removes evil. What is important for us to keep in mind all the time is that faith does not stay static. Nothing in this world is static. Even Allah says about Himself;
Every day He manifests Himself in yet another wondrous way. (55:29)
So nothing remains stagnant; even our faith. Our faith can increase or decrease. In connection with this Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said; “Imaan (faith) increases or decreases”.
Ramadhan is that occasion where Allah allowed the believers to increase their faith tremendously through the fast, extra worship and trying to be careful of thoughts and actions for His sake. Our reason for doing all of this is to get Qurbay Ilaahi – getting closer to Allah.
When Allah wanted to show mankind how they can get closer to Him, He invited Prophet Muhammad (pboh) in His Divine Presence on the night of the mir’aj. And he, (pboh) being our model and that one who demonstrated real success in this life, if we were to follow him and engage in much of the actions that he used to do we would insha Allah also increase our faith and gain closeness to our Lord.
But if after the blessed is over, we fall back into some thoughts and actions that would bring about dark spots on our heart we would be reducing our faith.
It all depends on the individual and their intention, their desire and their activity. The reason for saying this is because Allah says in the Holy Qur’an that those who try to keep their soul bright and shinning are the real successful ones.
It is those who believe and clothe not their beliefs with wrong - they are (truly) in security, for they are on (right) Guidance. (6:82)
Scholars are of the opinion that at the time of doing a wrong deed your faith is not strong because at that time you are not mindful that Allah is with you. This does not mean to say that we are free from faults and mistakes. Allah says;
And if Allah were to seize mankind for their wrong-doing, He would not leave on it (the earth) a single moving (living) creature. (16:61)
What does this ayat tell us? That we do a lot of wrong, knowingly and unknowingly. However, Allah has given us this great blessing that even if we falter we can wipe out the blemishes through repentance and engaging in good deeds.
The point is that we have a good head start coming out of the month of Ramadhan, therefore don’t lose it and keep building on it.
Some people can’t understand life so they behave like the spider. Invest all their efforts and recourses to build a big ‘web’ paying no heed to returning to their Lord and without warning it can all come crashing down leaving them destitute and back at square one.
For us it is a simple reality; if when we exhale and the oxygen doesn’t go back in that is it! All your work and aspirations come to an end. And what next? What about the meeting with your Lord?
And this is the message of life. Be careful all the times. We want that when our last breath comes out our soul will be transported to a beautiful place and the Messenger of Allah (pboh) is reported to have said;
“The soul of the believer is in a bird hanging from a tree in Paradise until Allah returns it to his body on the day He resurrects him”.
Work for it. Try your utmost to have good intentions and don’t harbour hate and malice, etc. Islam wants us to be part of the beautiful universal family. Let us try our best, so our faith will continue to grow and our personality would become brighter and brighter.
So as we have started back on this program, try your best and work hard against the baser desires as Prophet Muhammad (pboh) told his Companions “I have returned from the small Jihad (Jihad Asghar) to the big Jihad (Jihad Akbar)”. The Sahabas enquired “what is the big Jihad?” Prophet (pboh) said “the Jihad al nafs (inner desires).”
One mistake can destroy all your life’s work just as a married couple can destroy their loving relationship through one moment of ill treatment.
This is why we engage in the zikir and try to culture or spiritual stations to resound Allahu. If you have Allah in your heart Satan cannot come and whisper to divert your intentions and emotions.
We beg Allah to forgive us for our mistakes, wipe out our evils and cover up our faults. Keep conscious of your responsibilities and duties, and guard your faith so that when you leave this world you will have no room for regrets.
May Allah forgive us, bless us, guide us and protect us all insha Allah.
- By Pepe Escobar
- Published 08/15/2013
'Bloodbath that is not a bloodbath': Why Egypt is doomed.
It’s quite instructive to read what Sisi thinks of "democracy" – as demonstrated when he was at the US War College. He’s essentially an Islamist – but most of all he craves power. And the MB is standing in his way. So they have to be disposed of.
Sisi’s "war on terror" is arguably a roaring success as a PR stunt to legitimize his run for a popular mandate. He’s trying to pose as the new Nasser. He’s Sisi the Savior, surrounded by a bunch of Sisi groupies. A columnist wrote in Al-Masry Al-Youm that Sisi doesn't even need to issue an order; it’s enough to "just flutter his eyelashes". The Sisi-for-president campaign is already on.
Anyone familiar with US-propped 1970s tin-pot Latin American dictators is able to spot one. This is no Savior. This is no more than an Al-Sisi-nator – the vainglorious tin-pot ruler of what my colleague Spengler bluntly defined as a banana republic without the bananas.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.