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RIP Hajj Muhammad Yaqoob – father of Rashad and Salma Yaqoob

November 14, 2014

Bismillah. A touching piece by Rashad Yaqoob:

Please circulate to all concerned parties. It is very difficult to inform all my friends relatives and acquaintances of the passing of my dear father. Please spread the word . We ask all of you to make dua for him as many people have expressed concern that the news did not reach them. Public meeting at Paigham-e-Islam mosque Stratford Rd Sparkhill Birmingham where dad was Chairman, this sat at 630 pm

My dear father Hajj Muhammad Yaqoob born on 10th July 1935, left this world on Sunday 2nd November 2014 at zuhr time whilst making ablution for prayers in his local mosque.

It is at times of such loss that the importance of our contribution to humanity becomes the only issue of importance and business and work important yet a means to an end.

My father provided me with the earliest memories of an activist, a revolutionary, a thinker and someone who refused to accept the status quo.

I have vivid memories of buying him his daily Jang to keep him informed of his homeland in a language I was yet to perceive. He was unrelenting on his questioning of the printed and more recently televised world. Despite his linguistic talents in English Urdu Farsi and Arabic , often quoting Iqbal, Rumi and Shakespeare to my ignorant ears he displayed a passion for the mystical as well as the pragmatic revolutionary in his Bond of Mayfair threadbare red tartan nightgown.

I don’t recall him ever with hair on his head, always bald despite a picture in noire which shows a dashing young 60s man with thick jet black hair whom I never reconciled with my older looking dad.

I recall the thickness of the skin on his feet as we massaged them after his overtime shifts at the Royal Mail, and walking on his back and legs to ease his pain, a routine which as a 12 year old I never questioned as mom instructed us and as a teenager I reluctantly executed due to selfishness and teenage sloth.

He forced us on a diet of English Grammar and literature to practice the 11 plus at a time when holidays for were an opportunity for time and a half , and like all rebellious youth i resented his obsession with all things academic, a frustrated headmaster from Gujarkhan who had emigrated to England for medical treatment alone and traded scholarship with factory labour.

A trade off which he never complained about or requested acknowledgement. The respective strains of massaging him were I supposed the confirmation that we all 7 of us did acknowledge our debt, and his sacrifice.

He named me in true theatrical fashion after Rashad Minhas, a Pak airforce pilot who downed his aircraft to prevent a saboteur co pilot from stealing the jet across to enemy territory. They say names are important as they set the tone … He wanted Rashad’s martyrdom and valour perhaps to imbibe my soul.

As the eldest son of 3 sisters and four brothers I know as I am sure my other siblings will challenge that I was his favourite even though he was too busy working to attend my birth, delegating the azaan to my mamoo in Bradford where mom was visiting her sis while they were resided and settled in St Albans.

He walked with a noticeable limp something my siblings and I secretly emulated and I possibly was embarrassed about as a kid. It took several decades to appreciate that limp which followed rickets as a child and a 20 ft fall off a roof in Pak was a sign of this man’s stoic resilience. He came alone to the land of hope and glory to fix his leg saving his last few headmaster rupee earnings without any wife, father or friend.

Instead of returning due to extended medical treatment to break and fix the bow of his leg he had to take labour jobs in lister mills in Bradford in jobs which as an academic he was ill-equipped to handle . He was never one of the lads, always preferring the company of heavy books rather than ‘fazool baathe’ [idle talk]. However his language skills caught the gaffer’s eye and he moved quickly into translatory roles and documenting the applications and immigration requirements of his unlettered comrades.

Thus this gave him the lofty title of ‘Maaster Sahib’ from St Albans, Birmingham to Bradford from those he served .

He established a mosque in Sparkhill, he established a school by offering his house in Gujarkhan to the AlHijra school charity which he was visiting this week for orphans and talented youngsters in the neighbourhood who can’t afford private fees yet he still failed up pass his driving test 7 times until he deferred to mom’s superior navigation abilities and preferred to be a co-driver from the passenger seat with a supreme judge authority of how one should drive a motor car.

He was the last of the Godfather generation, he was 82, he said to me overdue to visit his maker since his bypass 15 yrs ago. I used to stress to my other half that I fear his time is up and we should not move to london back in the day yet he outstripped all his younger siblings bar one.

My last encounter was approximately a week and a half ago in his bedroom in the house he always referred to as Rash’s house because of my attempts to have moved him from our terraced Victorian maze of a house to a corner plot next to my sister Sally’s [Salma Yaqoob] following a good spell in earnings. Reality was this short yet stoic man never borrowed a penny from a bank, devoured a pound of interest and saved his meagre Royal Mail income to buy one, then two, properties in cash after years of slum dog property renting often sharing bathrooms and kitchens with other ‘undesirables’ such as the Irish and blacks in the 60s and 70s.

He being a model tenant impressed his only landlord who happened up be Muslim. Tekdaar sahib who having witnessed the loss of Pakistani immigrants to teddy boy culture decided this quiet and pensive man befitted his daughter.

Dad obliged and in true 60s style bought an Austin Cambridge new and got his then hoodlum bus driver brother Ayub (chaacha) to drive him to Pak by road where said Austin made it without drama until it ditched in the village mud road.

There he married mom that led to the genetic expansion that straddles two decades of 7 siblings.

I took him on umrah in April and to Palestine where he shed tears in front of the martyrs’ wall and translated his vista of book knowledge into architectural history before my eyes. The accurate picture was that he did not allow me to even find his trip instead insisting he pay as for me as he was my father and he was still a man of means Mashallah with his Royal Mail pension. Now I treasure those small narrations, walking him to the mosque, managing his toilet breaks with a weakening bladder, tolerating his frustrations at not being able to reach the black stone with his fraying limbs.

As he rocked on the edge of the bed and asked me for the last time a week and a half ago to do his back almost in a child like manner, the penny finally dropped. His job was done in this world, his battered frame had taken him to ends of the world that the young, wide eyed and flat nosed mohammed could not have imagined, he had been my father, my protector, my provider, my educator, my facilitator and now he was my friend, under my protection wanting only to know I was ok and that my life was happy and moral.

I never saw him miss a prayer, a fast, [omit to] pay his welfare tax or lie, cheat or misrepresent or resort to hyperbole. Understated and humble his motto was ‘kar ke dakaoo’ lead by action…. And ‘aage dekaw peeche Nehru’. Look ahead not backwards.

I am in a good place with him despite my heart trembling as I get off this plane and embrace my mother who is now without companion. This is because my massaging tired hands told him I loved him, I acknowledged my debt to him, that I respected him for all he had done and the prayers he continues to make.

He forced me to leave, full of concern always for my welfare and I leaned in and kissed his shiny forehead and hugged him close without a word and tucked him in and wished him safe travel to Pakistan saying enjoy your trip to your motherland .

The mother land decided her child should return and took him at 2 pm whilst making wudu at a mosque I am yet to visit.

A most befitting last act for a man who is in my veins, my heart and my soul. I carry his mantle of trust with his name and hope to be a befitting emissary to pass on his legacy to my children.

I look forward to seeing you dad in a few hours where I know you will be in the the best of sleeps, without any arthritis pain and in a rush to meet your Sustainer.

From Him you came and into Him we humbly deliver you.

Salaam my father.

May your example inspire us all to express our feelings to parents we still have x

May I live up to the words of one of your favourite intellects and poets Allama Iqbal who inspires me to attempt to live a life which is limitless and to rock the world just a little towards a path of justice and equilibrium:

‘Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har Taqdeer se Pehle
Khuda bande se khud pooche bata Teri Raza kya hai’

‘Elevate yourself so high that even God, before issuing every decree of destiny, should ask of his created being, tell me what is it that you desire ?’

‘Tundi e Band E Mukhalif de na ghabra, Uqaab
Yeh to chalti hai tujhe uncha udane me liye ‘

‘Don’t you get frightened of these furious, violent gusts of wind O Eagle! These blow only to make you fly higher’

Phir milenge inshallah [we will meet again, God-willing] under the ‘shady tree’

Your son

I am back in london receiving people at home by appointment.

Make dua [prayers] for him and his surviving family:

Mrs Gulzarda Yaqoob
Dr Najma Siddiqui
Salma Yaqoob
Rashad Yaqoob
Farrukh Haroon
Dr Fozia Yaqoob
Khurram Yaqoob
Dr Hassan Yaqoob

Regards

Rashad Yaqoob

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Open letter to ISIS from UK Muslims

September 11, 2014

Bismillah.  – Please add a comment if you would like to add your name to the list of signatories.  Thanks!

With the Name of God, The Compassionate, The Merciful

Friday 5th September 2014

To Mr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,

Leader of the self-styled and so-called “Islamic State,” being neither Islamic nor a state.

 

Peace be upon those who follow true guidance.

We, a group of British Muslims, would like to remind you on this holy day of ours (Friday) that the actions of your group are utterly wrong and evil according to the religion of Islam.

Your brutal massacres of innocent people (Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis) and your enslavement of women and children run totally contrary to the Qur’an, which teaches that murder is like genocide (5:32) and that “there is no compulsion in religion,” (2:256) as you must know.

Your horrific violations of justice are totally anti-Islamic in spirit, betraying the peaceful message of Islam and of the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide, who do not subscribe to your hateful ideology.

Your group is an affront to the noble and holy name of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was “a mercy to the worlds” (21:107) and who taught that “All of creation is God’s family, and those most beloved to God are those who are kindest to His creation.”

We demand that you stop your vile crimes against humanity, disband your group and stop threatening the civilised world that Muslims and non-Muslims, in partnership, have spent centuries building.

Stop all these monstrosities, and stop carrying them out in the name of God, and in the name of following Islam and the holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and all of God’s messengers.

We, as British Muslims, are clear that being loyal citizens and contributing fruitfully to society is at the core of our faith.

We also demand that you stop the psychological grooming of our naïve and vulnerable young men and women into joining your bloodthirsty gangs, destroying their lives and those of their hard-working British families.

Know that your so-called “Islamic State” is doomed to failure because of its tyrannical nature, and that we, along with the rest of the civilised world, will continue to oppose and resist your madness in every possible way. “Truth has arrived, and falsehood has perished: for falsehood is, by its nature, always bound to perish.” (Qur’an 17:81)

 

Signed

  1. Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan – Imam, London
  2. Khalid Mahmood MP – Labour Member of Parliament for Perry Barr
  3. Ms. Sughra Ahmed, President, Islamic Society of Britain
  4. Sheikh Dr Hafiz Ather Hussain al-Azhari – Imam, Leicester
  5. Cllr Yakub Hanif al-Naqshbandi – Imam, Luton
  6. Ms. Sara Khan, Co-Director, Inspire
  7. Sheikh Irfan Chishti al-Azhari MBE – Imam, Greater Manchester
  8. Fiyaz Mughal OBE – Director of Tell MAMA (Monitoring Anti-Muslim Attacks)
  9. Mohammed Amin – mohammedamin.com, Manchester
  10. Ms. Kalsoom Bashir, Co-Director, Inspire
  11. Dilwar Hussain, Chair, New Horizons in British Islam
  12. Mohammed Abbasi – Director of the Association of British Muslims
  13. Ms. Khola Hasan, religious scholar, Essex
  14. Haras Rafiq – Co-Founder and former Executive Director Sufi Muslim Council
  15. Sheikh Dr Irfan al-Alawi – Executive Director, Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, Birmingham
  16. Ms. S. Patel MA – Scholar in Near and Middle East Studies, London
  17. Sheikh Osman Saeed Dar al-Azhari, Imam, Greater Manchester
  18. Maajid Nawaz – Chairman of Quilliam and LibDem Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, London
  19. Mufti Abu Layth, founder of The Islamic Council UK, Birmingham
  20. Syed Mohsin Abbas, Muslim Community Development Network, London
  21. Nadeem Afzal, social worker, Birmingham

 

When does Ramadan start? 1435 / 2014

June 21, 2014

Bismillah. Please refer to the UK Moon Watch project: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/moonwatch/nextnewmoon.html

Astronomical new moon (conjunction) occurs on Friday 27 June 2014 at around 8am UT (GMT), God-willing.

The first naked-eye visibility of the new crescent moon, apart from a few Pacific islands, is over Australasia on Saturday 28 June, followed by Asia (partial), Africa and the Americas on the same date. The rest of the world follows on the next day.

Hence, the first day of Ramadan 1435 in the UK occurs on the following date, depending on which method you use:

1) Conjunction-based methods: 27 or 28 June

2) Global crescent-visibility method: 29 June

3) Local (UK) crescent-visibility method: 30 June

The corresponding possible dates of Eid al-Fitr are:

1) 26 or 27 or 28 July

2) 28 or 29 July

3) 29 or 30 July

Of these methods, I prefer no. 2.

Praying for all of humanity to gain blessings of Ramadan,

Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan (imam & astronomer), 21 June 2014

Usama Hasan, https://unity1.wordpress.com

A Good Friday? Protests, Prayers and Peace at the Park – 18 April 2014

April 20, 2014

Bismillah. We often go as a family to Regent’s Park Mosque (RPM aka London Central Mosque) for prayers around Easter, since it’s a rare Friday with schools and offices shut, no congestion charge for driving around the city centre and the car parking in the park being at holiday rates: just over half the normal rate at £1.40 per hour rather than £2.40, significant when you wish to stay the whole day.

Approaching the mosque from inside the park, we noticed several police vans parked around the corner. Unusual, since there are normally only a couple of police officers outside the main entrance of the mosque in Park Rd.

Being a public holiday, the mosque congregation was much larger than usual, perhaps by 50%. We could only find parking near London Zoo and walked back, past the usual armed officers guarding Winfield House, the US Ambassador’s residence, literally a stone’s throw from the mosque’s rear entrance. On the way, I told my 7-year-old son about the Islamic tradition that spiritual reward earned for travelling to mosque is proportional to the effort required, even measured by the footsteps taken: several hadiths speak of this in a literal commentary on Qur’an (Surat Y.S. 36:12), “We write down their traces: everything have We recorded in a Clear Source.” When a particular tribe in Medina wished to move closer to the Prophet’s Mosque since they walked daily to it five times a day for prayers, he (pbuh) had replied, “Stay in your homes: your footsteps are written in tomes.” (Diyarukum, tuktabu atharukum) Ibn ‘Uthaymin once commented that the equivalent of a footstep for a car or bike was a wheel revolution.

The mosque was full, so we listened to the sermon after squeezing into the main courtyard, also full, all the way back to the car park: I counted about 40 rows, with about 40 people per row, hence over 1500 males here. The main hall holds at least 2000 males, plus the women’s sections and basement halls were all full, so I estimate at least 5000 worshippers. It’s always nicer to pray in the open air when the weather is nice, as it was on Friday: God’s wonderful dome beats any man-made one, even if it’s golden. As the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The entire earth has been made a place of worship.”

Islamic tradition demands that worshippers listen to the imam’s Friday sermon in absolute silence, which is why we easily heard the sounds of protesters, who must have been close to the main entrance. The Azhar-trained imam, Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat, had chosen his topics carefully, and probably in response to some of the protests, about which the mosque must have been informed by police: in both Arabic and English, he preached about justice (quoting Ibn al-Qayyim: “God upholds just societies and destroys or allows the self-destruction of unjust ones”) and condemned the evil crimes of sexual grooming gangs, although the latter wasn’t a great topic for a very family-oriented congregation. Listening to an Egyptian imam preaching about just society in a courtyard with one or two thousand people, I thought of Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Straining to hear the imam’s soft-spoken voice, even through the loudspeakers, was made more difficult by the loud chants of “E, E, EDL” and rendition of “Jerusalem” (accompanied by music) by William Blake coming from the other side of the main gates. I spotted one leader of a Muslim fascist group in the courtyard, and feared trouble. The irony was that many of us British Muslims would be quite happy to sing “Jerusalem,” although not in mosque, where the ascetic atmosphere is quite rightly one of worship and devotion that transcends even spiritual music and song. Furthermore, Blake is possibly England’s greatest mystical poet (as well as Shakespeare, judging by Martin Lings’ phenomenal book about the latter), and arguably would have felt at home with the Remembrance of God in a beautiful mosque inside one of London’s prettiest Royal Parks. As the Prophet (pbuh) said, “God is beautiful and loves beauty.”

Prayers after the sermon were also disturbed by chants and another musical score that my teenage son told me later was something called “Hearts of Courage” that he liked from school.

I have uploaded short video extracts of the sermon accompanied by the sound of protest, here: and here:

Others have uploaded videos of their protests. Had I been alone, I would have gone over to see the rival protests, but there was potential for serious trouble and we took no chances with our 7-year-old twins. Furthermore, we had come to mosque for inner and outer peace, not for childish, angry protests. Police sirens also disturbed prayers, but their helicopter crew had the courtesy to only bring their noisy flying machine over once prayers were over. The chopper slowly flew above Park Rd later towards Baker St – we learnt afterwards that this to police those marching for a mediaeval Caliphate and Sharia, dutifully protected by Western freedom of expression and the “kufr (infidel) law” that they so despise providing dozens of police to keep the peace at our collective taxpayers’ expense. (The truth is, of course, that Western and Islamic law have the same basis: justice and mercy, so such protests are misplaced.)

Of the 5000 Muslims at mosque, no more than about 1% joined this march. We are the 99%. Alhamdulillah.

As ever with Friday prayers at RPM, hundreds of families streamed into the park afterwards. My wife told me about journalists trying to interview worshippers. There were a couple of Orthodox Jewish families also in the park, no doubt fresh from celebrating Passover and enjoying the sunshine before the Sabbath later. I hope they didn’t feel intimidated by the hundreds of Arabs and Muslims – I don’t think they were.

There were long queues for cake, ice-cream and boating lake tickets. Tulips were in full bloom in a gorgeous array of colours. We saw a heron amongst the ducks and swans, and came across a RSPB stall with birdspotting telescopes (spotting scopes), and got to see two different triplets of baby heron chicks nesting in the trees of the boating lake. We also saw a number of delightful ducklings snuggling up to their Mother Duck. We imagined the excitement of these herons and ducks at their new arrivals, remembering our own when our babies were born. “Every crawling creature in the earth, and every bird flying with its two wings, comprise communities and nations like your human ones. We have not omitted anything from the Record: then, to their Lord, shall they be gathered.” (Qur’an, 6:38)

We joined the RSPB as a family: they have no fixed fee, only a suggested donation of £5-10 per month: you get a membership pack with gifts and benefits including free entry to their nature reserves around the country. I encourage others to do so also, here: http://www.rspb.org.uk

After a 3-hour walk around the park, we came across a young, well-intentioned masked Muslim man on a bicycle, wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. He was from “London Anti-Fascists” and had been riding around in an anti-EDL op, and asked whether we had had any trouble. Nice of him. I should have asked him why LAF don’t take on Muslim fascists who avowedly want a global totalitarian theocracy and to execute any dissident or non-conformist.

So come on please, EDL-ers and Caliphaters: please stop being at each other’s throats and let’s have civilised interaction rather than offending each others’ sacred symbols, such as by disturbing prayers or abusing the bases of Britishness. And let’s all help with forming trust, mediation and reconciliation, that we may yet build Jerusalem and Medina in England’s green and pleasant land.

Usama Hasan, https://unity1.wordpress.com

Saliba lecture: “Late Arabic Scientific Commentaries” (includes online link)

April 17, 2014

Public lecture event organised by Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation on Friday 4th April 2014.
After the reception and the opening words, Mr. Sharaf Yamani, member of the Al-Furqan Board of Directors, gave a short brief on Al-Furqan’s work and efforts in uncovering and studying the Islamic written heritage.
The keynote speaker at this public event was Professor George Saliba, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Science at Columbia University in the city of New York. His lecture on “The Role and Originality of Late Arabic Scientific Commentaries” was very well received.
In his lecture, Professor Saliba gave an insightful view on the scientific importance of the commentaries – with a special focus onthe field of astronomy – produced between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century, the period considered to be “the Late Classical Period” of Islamic civilisation. He demonstrated that particular commentaries that were produced during this period, did not only produce new scientific thinking, but also produced a level of astronomical mathematical sophistication that could outmatch any of the earlier works that were produced within the Islamic civilisation, and could, in some instances, even outmatch the contemporary scientific works that were produced in Europe at the time.
According to Professor Saliba, the main reasons why late commentaries have not received the scholarly attention they deserve and are still wrongly considered to be mere copies of previous works, are:

1. Late commentaries are very difficult to read: the text on the page is often very dense and small.

2. They often lack illustrations: it is very difficult to find a scribe (nasikh) that was also an illustrator (naqqash). Today there are very few examples of manuscripts where the illustrator and the copyist are the same person.

3. There is still an imposed traditional misconception that considers that, after the classical or golden age of Islam, there is nothing worth studying in terms of cultural products.

The lecture was followed by several questions from the specialised and distinguished audience regarding various aspects covered by Professor Saliba.

To watch the recorded lecture, please click on the following link:
Thank you once again for coming to the event. We will inform you of future Al-Furqan events and hope that you will be able to join us.
Best wishes,
Sali Shahsivari, Managing Director
Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation

Usama Hasan, https://unity1.wordpress.com

Hadiths on Female Circumcision (FGM)

March 19, 2014

Bismillah. Further to Quilliam’s press release last week against the call to reintroduce female circumcision (FGM) in the Maldives, here are further thoughts on the issue, including a discussion of hadiths about the subject:

1. FGM is a cultural practice that was known in pre-Islamic Arabia. It is also found in parts of Africa.

2. FGM has no religious Islamic sanction – there are just two traditions on the subject, both of which are strongly disputed, with many jurists throughout history discounting them as having nothing to do with the Prophet of Islam.

There are two hadiths in the Sunan collections (medium-level authenticity) relevant here. To paraphrase, these two hadiths say, “Cut, but don’t cut too much” and “Female circumcision is a way of honouring (!) women.”

The isnads (chains of narration) of these two hadiths are acknowledged to be weak, including by the Sheikh Albani. However, regrettably, Albani judged that the two hadiths support each other and that they are therefore sound (hasan). This judgment is quoted by many writers, including the influential Saudi scholar al-‘Arifi/’Urayfi in his “Etiquettes of Welcoming the Newborn in Islam” (Adab Istiqbal al-Mawlud fil Islam), to support FGM. [Note that thousands of copies of the latter book in Arabic were distributed for free in the UK by salafist organisations.]

However, the UK-based British-Iraqi Sheikh Abdullah al-Judai vehemently disagrees with Albani about this, declaring these hadiths to be seriously weak and FGM to be a custom not approved by Islam. [See Postscript below for more details.]

Here, it is worth analysing three claims made in the recent Lapido Media article on Maldives FGM (http://www.lapidomedia.com/node/3987):

(a) “the four Sunni schools approved of female circumcision”

This may well be the case, because of the above hadiths being accepted by jurists without scrutiny, although many Hadith scholars pointed out their weakness. Like the blasphemy and apostasy laws of medieval Islam, FGM became a theoretical juristic position even though it was rarely practiced. These issues need to be addressed by the proponents of so-called “traditional Islam” (that is actually mediaeval Islam), of both the madhhabist and salafist varieties.

(b) “one reason for this was to reduce women’s sexual appetite”

Ibn Taymiyyah certainly says so, and endorses it. He goes on to claim that “non-Muslim women, being uncircumcised, have excessive sexual desire.” (Ibn Taymiyyah, Fatawa al-Nisa’ or Jurisprudential Pronouncements relating to Women.) Other mediaeval jurists, also known for their xenophobia and misogyny notwithstanding positive qualities in other aspects, probably agreed with him.

(c) [A Maldivian cleric] quotes a hadith of the collection by Prophet Mohammed’s wife, Aisha, as saying, ‘A bath becomes obligatory if one sleeps with your wife and the circumcised parts touch each other.’ The cleric concludes: ‘The word circumcision has been applied to both men and women here. The hadith demonstrates that women must be circumcised as well.’

This hadith may be more sound but, as Sheikh Judai states, it contains no approval of (male or female) circumcision, merely providing a factual description. To claim that this hadith obliges FGM (“women must be circumcised”) is an example of very poor and flawed logic and juristic reasoning.

3. The fact that FGM is cultural, not religious, is obvious from two matters: (i) it is/was known in non-Muslim communities in Arabia and parts of Africa; (ii) female circumcision is a very rare practice in the Muslim world, unlike male circumcision that is universal in Muslim societies.

4. The hadith (of 40 Nawawi) and fundamental Sharia principle of outlawing harm (la darar wa la dirar), that is based on numerous Qur’anic verses, dictates a total Islamic ban on FGM today, now that the medical, physiological, sexual, emotional and psychological harms are indisputable. This is the position of Al-Azhar and other institutions.

5. We should welcome the recent tougher legislation and enforcement against FGM in the UK and commend the campaign of the young British-Somali woman from Bristol in this regard. We should note also that there a number of British clerics who are stuck in a mediaeval mindset and poor understanding of the hadiths and fiqh (jurisprudence) who openly promote FGM and regard it as “preferable” because of what is written in centuries-old human texts. I hope that these clerics will reconsider their positions, both intellectually and societally.

6. The literalist, fundamentalist thinking behind this call in the Maldives has also given rise to the same cleric’s insistence on the reintroduction of ancient hudud punishments such as amputation and flogging, that have no place in modern society. These punishments were abolished by the scholars and sultans of the Ottoman Empire in the 1850’s, but have been reintroduced in Muslim-majority countries by literalists in the 20th and 21st centuries.

7. An example of the danger of the above is the case of the 15-year old Maldivian girl who was sentenced to flogging for fornication, even though she was the victim of rape and sexual abuse by her stepfather. This sentence under the regressive hudud laws was only overturned after a year-long international uproar and campaign (eg https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/maldives-girl-rape-victim-be-spared-outrageous-flogging-sentence-2013-08-21), in which I served as Avaaz’s consultant on Islamic law in 2013. And, of course, there have been many similar contemporary cases under hudud laws in Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries.

Usama Hasan
London, UK
19th March 2014

Postscript: In 2004 I attended some sessions near Watford (UK) of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, as an observer. The scholars present included Sheikhs Ibn Bayyah, Qaradawi, Judai, Faysal Mawlawi, Qarahdaghi, Anas Abu Ghuddah, Suhaib Hasan and others.

The FGM issue came up. A French-Arab cleric had written in his submission that FGM was recommended, based on the hadiths discussed above (no. 2). Sheikh Judai disagreed vehemently, stating that FGM is not a sunnah and declaring that “These hadiths are utterly weak, even though Sheikh Albani, whom I venerate in Hadith studies, authenticated them!” No other scholar contradicted Judai in that session. I asked him afterwards about the “circumcised parts meeting” hadith: he immediately replied that it contains no promotion of FGM, being merely a description (cf. 2c above).

As Imam Ghazzali said, as quoted by Ibn Bayyah, nine-tenths (90%) of juristic understanding is to understand society and other contextual realities. Even total mastery of the scriptural texts (Qur’an and Hadith) comprises no more than one tenth (10%) of jurisprudence.

Muslim clerics and jurists need to develop deeper understanding of scripture as well as human nature and society before pronouncing on critical issues and promoting harmful rules and laws for entire populations in the name of God.

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone http://www.blackberry.com

Al-Mas’udi: The Meadows of Gold (Muruj al-Dhahab)

January 21, 2014

Bismillah.

The following selections (many paraphrased) are from the traveller and historian Al-Mas’udi “Muruj al-Dhahab” or The Meadows of Gold, translated by Paul Lunde & Caroline Stone, Penguin Great Journeys No. 2, 2007. A good, light read, like all the 15-20 books in this Penguin series.

Mas’udi was from Baghdad and lived c. 276-344 H / 890-956 CE.

ON THE STATE OF ISLAM IN HIS TIME

Islam has weakened and declined. The Hajj is in peril. Jihad has ceased. Islam has always been triumphant until this year 331 H [943 CE].

ON SOME CAUCASIANS

The Kashak [Circassians] are Zoroastrian, most handsome of the Caucasus inhabitants. The women are famous for bedchamber delights.

ON MASUDI’S ENCOUNTERS WITH JEWS & CHRISTIANS

I debated leading Jewish scholars: Abu Kathir and his student Fayyumi (Rabbinical); Yehuda b. Yusuf, student of (the Sabian) Thabit b. Qurra.

All the churches of Syria, Egypt and Byzantium owe their origin to Queen Helena, mother of Constantine. Her Greek name is Elena, having a numeric value of 100.

I met the earliest Christian Arab historian, Ibn Faraj, in Egypt. I debated the Trinity with Dankha (a Christian theologian) in Baghdad and Tikrit in 313/926.

ON THE TRAVELS OF THE GREEK ACADEMY

Athens
Alexandria/Rome (Augustus/Theodosius) Antioch (Umar bin Abdulaziz reign) Harran (Mutawakkil reign).

ON THE MOST LEARNED MEN OF HIS TIME

The most learned men of my time are the philosophers al-Farabi & Ibn Adi (Christian). Ibn Adi has the same Pythagorean philosophical system as Muhammad Zakariyya al-Razi.

ON THE FIRE-TEMPLE AT PERSEPOLIS

The Persian temple at Istakhr (Persepolis) had idols, then just a fire. It has huge stone pillars and horses, and is said by some Muslims to be Solomon’s Temple.

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS ON ASIA (FROM EGYPT TO INDIA, CHINA & SE ASIA)

I saw peacocks in India: these have beautiful plumage. Those brought west to the lands of Islam: the plumage is dulled. [Evolution/adaptation]

Oranges were first brought from India c. 912 to Oman, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. They lost their original sweet smell and nice colour due to changes in the air, soil and water.

On an Indian war elephant: when his keeper died, he didn’t eat or drink for days, showing grief or sorrow like bereaved man, with constant tears.

The rhinoceros is found in India. Some of its bones are fused, so it is unable to bend its knees and therefore to lie down. So it sleeps standing, leaning against a tree. It chews the cud. Indians, including Muslim, eat its flesh.

Upper Egypt exports dates, raisins, grapes, alum and vitriol. [Alum = potash = potassium aluminium sulfate, KAlSO4. Vitriol = sulfuric acid, H2SO4]

Indians are fond of music and singing. They forbid wine, not due to religion but to protect the mind and reason. If a king drinks wine, they hold that he deserves to be deposed since it is impossible for him to govern with clouded reason.

Most Tibetans are of Himyarite Yemeni origin. Their kings are called Tubba’, a Yemeni title [cf. Qur’an 50:14]. The rest of the Tibetans are Turkic, and there is no more populous group of Turks anywhere in the world.

The Nicobar and Andaman Islands have cannibals and elephants. Descriptions of Sarandib [Sri Lanka], Sumatra, Kalahbar [Kedah, Malaysia], the Spice Islands.

Spices that come from SE Asia include: camphor, aloes, cloves, sandalwood, nutmeg, mace, cardamoms and cubebs.

The Ring of Fire is a series of volcanic islands near China.

The “island of music” is also here [SE Asia]. The sound of drums, flutes, lutes, rhythmic beating of feet and hand-clapping is heard from a distance. Some sailors claim that the Antichrist has taken up residence there.

The people of Qimar [Cambodia] have fresh breath because, like Muslims, they use toothpicks. Qimaris abhor adultery, indecency and alcoholic drinks.

The story of Habbar bin al-Aswad, an Arab notable of Basra who left during the Zanj [black slaves’] rebellion there, is entertaining. He went to China via India. A Chinese king showed his Arab visitor portraits of prophets including Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. The king stated that Noah’s flood didn’t reach India or China.

He further showed him portraits of Indian and Chinese prophets’ portraits, depicting them as pointing the index finger to the heavens, warning of the power of God, or making a circle with the thumb and index finger, to indicate that creation is a circle.

[Muslims daily indicate the unity of God with the right index finger (cf. Michaelangelo’s famous painting depicting God and Adam). During prayer, they also sometimes make a circle with the thumb and middle finger, following the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Furthermore, according to a sound hadith: Umm Salama emigrated to Abyssinia with her first husband Abu Salama as part of the early sacred migration (hijra). In the churches there, she saw images of prophets with index fingers raised (cf. Michaelangelo again), a feature of daily Islamic prayers. See Albani, Sifah Salah al-Nabi or The Prophet’s Prayer Described, for these hadiths. – U.H.]

The people of China are the most skilful in painting and arts. No other nation can compare with them in any craft whatsoever.

China was prosperous due to its justice until the Huang Chao rebellion of 878. He attacked Khanfu, massacring 200,000 Muslims, Christians, Jews and “fire-worshippers.” [Zoroastrians/Parsees]

The “Meadows of Gold” (Muruj al-Dhahab) was completed in 947, during the Buwayhid reign. The book is like a necklace of scattered pearls strung together. I have not sought to support any particular sect or doctrine, but to report human history as it has unfolded.

END

[Categories History]

Usama Hasan, https://unity1.wordpress.com

Abdal Hakim Murad on Jihad, Apostasy and Rights of Muslim Women

November 27, 2013

Bismillah. Reblogging this due to another BBC Radio 4 programme today on Muslims leaving the faith.

Age of Jahiliyah

From OnFaith (washingtonpost.com, Newsweek)

Muslims Speak Out

Abdal Hakim Murad

1. WHAT IS JIHAD? UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS DOES ISLAM SANCTION THE USE OF VIOLENCE? WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SUICIDE BOMBERS WHO INVOKE ISLAM TO JUSTIFY THEIR ACTIONS?

In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful

Jihad is an Arabic word meaning ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’. In religious teaching, it denotes any struggle against the lower, selfish tendencies of the ego. One dimension of this may be to struggle against one’s own selfishness and cowardice in order to defend one’s people. One form of this was indicated by the Blessed Prophet when he said: ‘the best form of jihad is to speak a true word to a tyrannical ruler’. In doing so one risks one’s life, but is serving the weak and the oppressed; the Prophet therefore describes it as a form of jihad.

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The Siege of Mecca – a brief book review

November 23, 2013

Bismillah.

The Siege of Mecca – The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine by Yaroslav Trofimov (Penguin, 2008)

A must-read book for anyone interested in its topics. Based on detailed journalism (the author is a WSJ writer and lists his detailed sources at the end, including classified CIA material obtained via FIRs and interviews with eyewitnesses and participants in the bloody drama), yet written like a novel. Gripping, unputdownable.

Featuring Juhayman al-Utaybi (leader of the rebels, whose father or grandfather had fought in the Battle of Sbala for the puritanical Ikhwan against their former ally King Abdulaziz), Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Qahtani (“The Mahdi”), Sheikhs Ibn Baz and Subayyil (Subeil in the book), the Saudi King Khalid and senior princes, an Arab League Summit, President Carter and Brzezinski, General Zia, Ayatollah Khomeini & others.

The rebels took over the Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) at the beginning of the new Islamic year on 1 Muharram 1400 / 20 November 1979, i.e. 35/34 yrs ago this month/week, depending on which calendar we use. The siege lasted two weeks until Saudi forces recaptured Islam’s holiest site. Hundreds of civilian pilgrims were killed, caught in the crossfire. At least 127 Saudi soldiers were killed, including a bloodbath in the Safa-Marwa gallery where they were ambushed during their initial, failed attempts to defeat the rebels. Dozens of rebels were also killed; 63 of those who were captured were beheaded publicly in 8 Saudi cities. The rebels included a son of the Pakistani hadith scholar, Sheikh Badiuddin Sindhi. A few teenage rebels, who had accompanied their older brothers, were spared execution but served long jail sentences, and are now back in Saudi society. Some of them were sources for Trofimov’s account.

Contrary to widespread rumours, French commandos did not fight in Mecca, but three of them planned from nearby Taif the final operation for the Saudis to recapture the Sacred Mosque.

For those who have been to Mecca, this book will forever change your memory of the place. Some of the details of the slaughter are very painful.

Anti-American feeling, fuelled by rumours that the Mecca outrage was a US-Israeli conspiracy, swept across the Muslim world, with US embassies attacked in Islamabad and Tripoli. Sound familiar?

1979 was a dramatic year: the Iranian Revolution had happened in Feb and there was a Shia uprising in Eastern Saudi at the same time as the Mecca incident, inspired by Juhayman and Khomeini. Some of the Shia spoke of “Mujahid Juhayman,” not knowing that he hated them for sectarian reasons. The USSR invaded Afghanistan at the end of the year (25 December 1979).

Some of the seeds of Al-Qaeda were sown in 1979: the rebels had essentially the same ideology as their counterparts who rose to prominence two decades later on 9/11. In salafi/jihadi circles, Muqbil bin Hadi (the Yemeni hadith scholar, in his book al-Makhraj min al-Fitnah [The Way Out of Strife]) and Bin Ladin accused the Saudis of being more oppressive than the rebels.

Khalid Islambuli, who assassinated President Sadat of Egypt two years later, was inspired by his brother who was with Juhayman in Mecca. Sadat was assassinated on 6 October 1981, which corresponded to 9 Dhul Hijjah 1401, i.e. the Day of ‘Arafah during the Hajj. (Last year, our Hajj group included a British-Egyptian medical doctor who had last performed the Hajj in 1401/1981. He told me that the pilgrims had received the momentous news about Sadat at ‘Arafah and had been split, especially the Egyptian pilgrims, between mourning and rejoicing.)

According to Trofimov, Saudi Arabia was actually liberalising in the early 1970s under King Faisal (with female TV presenters etc) but in return for ulama support for government action against the rebels, they reversed that after 1979.

One minor factual error: Trofimov describes the C-shaped low wall on the opposite side of the Kaaba to the Black Stone, Yemeni Corner and Station of Abraham as the “Rukn.” This is incorrect: the wall is called the “Hateem.” The rebels pledged allegiance to their Mahdi “between the Rukn [Pillar] and Station [of Abraham]” in accordance with a prophecy found in hadiths of dubious authenticity. My father, whose PhD thesis at Birmingham University was on the Sunni concept of the Mahdi, confirmed that the “Rukn” in this (dubious) hadith refers to the Black Stone, so the pledge was done between the Black Stone and the Station of Abraham.

This minor error aside, the book is brilliant.

Rare footage of some of the siege may be found in videos available online.

Usama Hasan, https://unity1.wordpress.com

Ibn Tulun, the Fatimids and feeding the poor during Ramadan

August 17, 2013

Bismillah. I have just returned from a brief visit to Israel & the West Bank. The visit was the first half of the excellent Study Tour organised by FODIP UK (www.fodip.org) with Mejdi Tours of Jerusalem. More on that later, but here is a short extract from a 2013 publication by the White Mosque, Nazareth (al-Jami’ al-Abyad, al-Nasirah), that we came across during our travels:

It is said that the Emir Ahmad bin Tulun, founder of the Tulunid state in Egypt, initiated the Dining-Spread of the Merciful (Ma’idat al-Rahman) in Egypt during the fourth year of his reign. He invited leaders, merchants and notables to an iftar party during the first days of Ramadan and addressed them thus:

“The only reason I have gathered you here is to teach you how to be kind to people. I know that you do not need the food and drink that I have prepared for you, but I find that you have forgotten your duty of kindness during Ramadan. Thus, I command you to open up your houses, extend your dining-spreads and stock these with your favourite foods so that deprived poor people may also taste them, throughout Ramadan.”

Others say that the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu’izz
Li Dinilllah was the initiator of charitable banquets: he established a daily Ramadan dining-spread for the congregation of the ‘Amr bin ‘As Mosque to break their fasts: 1100 pots of different foods would be sent from his palace daily to be distributed amongst the poor.

(From Jami’una al-Abyad or Our White Mosque, Nazareth, 2013)

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