Monday, November 23, 2009

Can there be peace for a ‘Palestine in Pieces’?

The American writer Kathleen Christison and her husband Bill have made long personal journeys over the past three decades in becoming outspoken critics of Israel and of US Middle East policy. In their youth they were political analysts in the CIA where, they recall, they failed to gain an adequate understanding of “Zionism’s true meaning or its inevitable impact on the Palestinians.” It was only after leaving the CIA and “the insular Washington bubble” in 1979 that they developed wider perspectives on US policy.

They started to question their earlier assumptions, and their views on the Palestine-Israel issue gradually changed. The latest manifestation of their concern for the Palestinians is their book “Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation”, published by Pluto Press of London and New York.

Kathleen is the author of two previous books. “Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy” (1999, updated 2001), and “The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story” (2002).

The latest book was launched in London a few days ago at an event at the Kensington Hotel hosted by The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) and Middle East Monitor (MEMO). Kathleen and Bill, who had traveled from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, appeared on a panel of speakers along with TCF’s founder and chief executive officer Anas Al-Tikriti, MEMO’s director Dr. Daud Abdullah, the chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, John McHugo, and the co-founder and director of Forward Thinking, Oliver McTernan.

Since 2003 the Christisons have made eight visits to the West Bank, staying three to four weeks each time. Bill said he and Kathleen wrote their book with two aims. “One was to give the best analysis we could of what was actually happening in the Israeli occupation. The other was to tell as many individual stories of people who live in the West Bank and Gaza as we could.”

The 212-page book includes 52 full-page black and white photographs with detailed captions, and a number of maps. The photographs present a generally grim picture of checkpoints, destruction, house demolitions (a form of “slow ethnic cleansing”), the ugly eight-meter high separation Wall, military harassment, suppression of demonstrations, economic deprivation and the humiliations of Palestinian daily life.

The few shots of the Palestinian countryside show the beauty of the terraces and olive trees – but a caption states that this landscape is fated to be the site of a segment of the separation Wall, and that sewage from Israeli settlements is being dumped on Palestinian farmers’ fields.

For more read here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dramas on British Muslim - Your Opinion Please?

The play “What Fatima Did...”, which ended its two-week premier run at the Hampstead theater in North London last Saturday, is the latest example of a British Muslim-related play to have gained favorable attention from critics and theater goers alike.

The author of the play, 21-year-old Atiha Sen Gupta, is the youngest playwright ever to have had a work staged in Hampstead theater’s main auditorium. Her play deals with the fallout of the decision of a British Muslim, on the eve of her 18th birthday, to start wearing the hijab. Up to then, Fatima had behaved like a typical British girl of her age – drinking, smoking, and partying – and had a white Irish boyfriend, George (Gethin Anthony). But after donning the hijab she turns her back on her former way of life.

Atiha Sen Gupta is not herself a Muslim, but as a young Asian Briton growing up a multicultural environment she is close to Muslim issues. She is the daughter of a Sri Lankan father, and an Indian-born mother, Rahil Gupta, who is a writer and an activist with Southall Black Sisters.
The play, directed by Kelly Wilkinson, is set in and around Fatima’s multicultural secondary school. The performances are full of vitality and humor, and the engaging characters include Fatima’s classmate Craig, played by Simon Coombs.

Fatima’s twin brother Mohammed (Arsher Ali) tries to defend her against the reactions to her decision to take the veil. Her mother, played by Shobu Kapoor, who had fought with her ex-husband for the right to wear Western dress, is angry with Fatima. George finds it near-impossible to come to terms with Fatima’s decision, and her feisty best friend Aisha (Farzana Dua Elahi) is also perplexed. But others, including her teacher, defend Fatima’s right to have made what she considers the right choice. For more read here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don’t restrict yourself in marrying only from your clan By Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz

An evil trend among some who claim to be from Banu Hashim (the Prophet’s family) is that they do not get married outside their clan, nor do they allow anyone else to get married into their clan. They say there is no compatibility between them and other people.

This is a great error; ignorance; oppression against women; and a legislation that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have not prescribed. Instead, Allah said:
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes; that you may know one another, Indeed the most noblest of you with Allah is the one who has the most taqwaa (piety, fear, and obedience of Allah).” (Qur’an, 49:13)

“Indeed the Believers are but brothers.” (Qur’an, 49:10)

“The Believers – men and women – are allies and protectors, one to another.” (Qur’an, 9:71)

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed there is no excellence for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over on Arab, nor for a white person over a black one, nor for a black person over a white one, except through taqwa (piety). People are from Adam, and Adam was from dust.” Ahmad (5/411)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Indeed my Awliya (friends and allies) are not the tribe of so and so. Rather my friends and allies are the pious – wherever they may be.” (Al-Bukhari, 10/351 and Muslim, no. 215) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If there comes to you a person whose Religion and character are pleasing to you, then marry him (i.e. give the girl in marriage to him). If you do not do this, there will be Fitnah (trial and discord) and greet fasad (corruption) upon the earth.” (Al-Tirmidhi, no.1085)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) married Zainab Bint Jahsh of the Quraish (i.e. the Prophet’s clan) to Zaid Bin Haarithah, his freed slave. He married Fatimah Bint Qays from the Quraish clan, to Usamah, the son of Zaid. Bilal Bin Rabah, the Ethiopian, married the sister of Abdul Rahman Bin Awf of the Quraish.

The claim that marrying outside the clan or tribe is forbidden or detested is false. The religion should be the main compatibility factor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) distanced from Abu Talib and Abu Lahab (his uncles) because they were not Muslims but drew near Salman the Persian, Suhaib the Roman, and Bilal the Ethiopian because they possessed Iman (faith) and piety.

Whoever adopts this false and ignorant practice of barring Hashimi women from marrying from outside their clan or tribe will only achieve faulty results – such as corruption of the people or adversely affecting the birthrates.

O Muslims! Fear Allah with regard to yourselves and the daughters, sisters, and other women whom Allah has been placed under your charge and authority. Realize what is good and what brings happiness to the society. Remember that you will all be questioned and held to account about your actions, as Allah said: “By your Lord! We shall call them all to account for all that they used to do.” (Qur’an, 15:92) – Majmoo Fatawa (3/100-103)

Friday, October 30, 2009

13 tips to memorize the Qur’an

Realize that memorizing the Qur’an is a spiritual and physical project. It’s a miracle and blessing from Allah that we are able to memorize the Qur’an.

If we want to take advantage of this blessing, we should be in a position to receive it. Therefore, let’s strive physically to achieve it and spiritually to get the maximum benefit. Here are 13 tips for memorizing the Qur’an

1. Sincerity
The first matter we must pay attention to is our intention. If we intend good we will get good. Make sure that the intention is for the sake of Allah alone. With this memorization, hope for Allah’s reward in the hereafter. It is not to show off in front of others that you have memorized a lot of the Qur’an. Sincerity is not a one time thing. It’s a continual battle that we always have to renew.

2. Consistency
The more frequently you memorize, the easier it becomes. It is very essential to be consistent, and not to skip even one day. There is no week-end in worship. The minimum that one should memorize is three lines – five is ideal. If we are consistent, Insha Allah, we will be able to be memorize the whole Qur’an within 5-6 years.

3. Timing
The first thing we should do in the day is memorize. Do this even before breakfast because this is our spiritual breakfast. The best time to memorize is right after Fajr.

4. Atmosphere
Go to a secluded place. Memorize in a place that is quiet. We can’t memorize properly with distractions, so turn off all your devices (like cell phones).

5. Familiarity
Start at the same time, at the same place and use the same mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) every day. We need to have our own mushaf, it will later become very dear to you.

6. No magic trick
Repeat, repeat, and repeat over and over again. It is only repetitive recitation and/or listening that will help us memorize with perfection. For more read here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

‘They have taken away all rewards’

“O, Prophet of Allah! The rich among us have taken away all the rewards,” complained the poor Companions. “They pray as we pray, they fast as we fast, but they also give wealth in charity (while we have no wealth to spend).” (Refer Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith for the full narration.)

The poor among the Ummah deserve a special mention because they are more often than not overlooked, their interests disregarded and their voices ignored. Throughout human history, they have always been the first to believe in the Messengers of Allah, and they will enter Jannah 500 years before everyone else.

During Ramadan last year, at the initiative of a friend, we stood at a traffic signal giving away dates, water and laban just before Iftar time for commuting people who may not have a chance otherwise to break their fast with food. We distributed all the food packs without realizing we had kept none for ourselves, which left us with no other option than breaking our fast at a masjid nearby. The adhan was called while we were heading to the masjid.

We joined the “banquet” of a people who would seldom – if ever – join ours. They were those whose names would never find place in the sprawling invitations we give out for our lavish feasts. Yes, they were all there – the African children and the Asian laborers.

Yet they welcomed us with a smile and made space for us. They shared their Iftar, which was no more than some dates, a piece of bread that they broke into half for us, and some drinks. Being used to excess, we couldn’t imagine how the already small meal would be sufficient for them if they divided between us.

The African children, stereotyped for crimes and what not, were wonderful. A boy turned to me and passed on his can of soft drink. What should I do? I refused. “Children they are after all, who not just love, but crave for sweet drinks,” I thought. He pushed the can towards me and gestured he would share his friend’s.

These are people who we don’t even say our salaams to. The Black women scavengers are seen all around the country. They stop with their trolleys and children at the time of Salah and pray on pavements. Nevertheless, we pass them by as if they don’t exist, as if they are excluded from the obligation of saying salaams to our fellow Muslims. For more read

Go earn it now, Mr. President

"Listen to this,” my boss said compulsively scanning his inseparable BlackBerry for a zillionth time. “Barack Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize!”

I laughed out loud. He was obviously kidding me, once again mocking my exaltation of Obama.

We were standing at a traffic signal in front of the magnificent Town Hall building in Copenhagen. Along with us patiently waited dozens of Danes with their bicycles, an overwhelming majority of them women.

There was a pleasant, coquettish nip in the air. The breathtaking square in the Danish capital is not far from the hotel where Michelle and US President Barack Obama had flown in last week for a couple of hours to plead Chicago’s case for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago of course lost the race to Rio.

“No, seriously! Obama is this year’s winner of the peace Nobel,” he insisted shaking his head with his characteristic, bemused smirk in place. I was stunned — too stunned for words. Despite being one of the early faithful of the Obama phenomenon, the news came as a huge surprise to me. So has it, it seems, to the world at large.

Reactions from both those attacking him and hundreds of millions of ordinary folks like me, touched by Obama’s message of hope, have been both swift and vociferous.

The issue has come as a godsend to the self-righteous pundits weary of the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear hide-and-seek and the economy. Just about every wonk on both left and right is going for the president’s jugular as if it was entirely his fault being chosen for the Nobel after only 265 days in office. He had been in the White House barely two weeks before the Feb. 1 deadline for the Nobel nomination.

No wonder everyone is suitably surprised or shocked, according to his/her worldview or lack of it. A beloved friend of mine who tries to keep my missionary zeal in check from time to time called up angrily demanding, “What’s this? Some kind of joke?” as though I had been on the Nobel jury.

But no one has been as bewildered by the Nobel panel’s life-changing decision as the winner himself. The shock was writ large on his ashen face as Obama talked of being “humbled” by the honor. He wasn’t being polite in protesting he didn’t deserve the honor.

Every wonk worth his salt is rushing to point out that Obama has yet to deliver on his promises. He has, they argue, nothing to show for his 10 months in office except for his soaring, uplifting rhetoric. His friends and foes — whose ranks have multiplied over the past few months — seem to agree on one thing: That the Nobel has come too early for the first black man in the White House. Too much too soon!

My favorite Maureen Down of the New York Times got it perfect when she made a furious Bill Clinton blurt it out in her hilarious piece: “It’s a case of premature adulation!”

Then what is it that earned Obama the Nobel? The answer lies in this rather telling cartoon in the International Herald Tribune. The cartoon shows the Nobel panel chief making the much-awaited announcement as Alfred Nobel benignly smiled down on him: “The Nobel Peace Prize goes to Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts in not being George W. Bush”.

For more read here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pray for our sisters around the world

We are in an era of trials and tribulations, as foretold by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Al-Fitan – tests of faith, confusion between truth and falsehood, mutual dissensions, obscurity between right and wrong, widespread killing, war, and natural disasters – are rampant. Not to mention that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Muslims to be able to freely practice their faith without facing some form of persecution, disdain, discrimination, humiliation or verbal assault.

Those of us who are living in countries where the Shariah is openly adhered to have no idea what it is like to be discriminated against. The alleged statements of Sheikh Tantawi of Al-Azhar University caused an outcry in the international media, perhaps blown totally out of proportion and context, to cause yet another furor against the niqab. Circles of so-called “progressive” Muslims, who wish to see the growing trend of young Muslim women willingly donning the face-veil banned, particularly in western countries, have jumped at the chance to denounce this trend, which they claim is an ancient “custom”, and not a part of Islam.

A case in point is the 2006 incident of British politician Jack Straw voicing his personal opinion against the face-veil of Muslims, which prompted British Muslim presenter and media personality, Saira Khan, daughter of Pakistani immigrants, to appeal for a ban on the niqab in Britain. She did this again when French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a similar anti-niqab public statement this year.

Whether the alleged statements made last week by the respected Sheikh Tantawi are true or not; whether he was misquoted to cause an unnecessary controversy, is something that might never be known for sure, as is always the case with reporting today. However, what is more disconcerting is the ripple effect that is evident on a global scale. Within just a few days of this incident, groups from Italy to Canada are appealing for a niqab ban. For more read

Friday, October 9, 2009

10 Lessons Ibn Al-Mubarak taught us

Abdullah Bin Al-Mubarak was a scholar known for simultaneously combining numerous traits of virtue. In fact, his friends would sit and count all of the good things that were part of his character and personality. Reading through his life story, one cannot help but derive brief yet heavy lessons from how this man lived:

1- No matter how bad you think you are, you can always become better.
In Tartib Al-Madarik (1/159), Al-Qadi ‘Iyad mentioned that Ibn Al-Mubarak was asked about the circumstances in which he began studying. He replied: “I was a youth who drank wine and loved music and singing while engaging in these filthy acts. So, I gathered some friends to one of my gardens where there were sweet apples, and we ate and drank until we passed out while drunk. At the end of the night, I woke up and picked up the stringed oud and began singing: Isn’t it time that you had mercy on me; and we rebel against those who criticize us?

“And I was unable to pronounce the words as I intended. When I tried again, the oud began speaking to me as if it were a person, saying the verse: ‘Isn’t it time for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allah’s reminder?’ (Qur’an, al-Hadid:16) So, I said: ‘Yes, O Lord!’ And I smashed the oud, spilled the wine, and my repentance with all its realities came by the grace of Allah, and I turned towards knowledge and worship.”

2 – Associate with honorable people.
In Sifat As-Safwah (2/323), Ibn Al-Jawzi mentioned: “Ibn Al-Mubarak’s home in Marw was vast. It measured 50 square yards. There was no person known for knowledge, worship, manhood, or high status in Marw except that you saw him in this house.”

3 – Be a helpful guest. In Sifat As-Safwah (2/324), it is narrated that when An-Nadr Bin Muhammad’s son got married, he invited Ibn Al-Mubarak, “and when he arrived, Ibn Al-Mubarak got up to serve the guests. An-Nadr did not permit him and swore that he would tell him to leave until Ibn Al-Mubarak finally sat down.”

For more read

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Windows Live Writer


I’m writing this post on Windows Live Writer. I just read it on another blog that it’s a good tool for customizing a blog post and so I wanted to try it. If this post comes out good then I’ll try using this software whenever I’m making a post.

Has anyone from among my blogger Pals or followers tried this software before? Please just let me know your experiences if you’ve tried it already.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Benefits Blog Learning from the lives of rich Muslims

We’VE all heard stories from the lives of the early Muslims with regard to their patience in poverty, their Zuhd (abstinence) and their general disdain for the trappings of this worldly life.

Yet in this age of plenty, our problem is dealing with excess, not figuring out how to make do with less, and this is why most of us fail to identify with the stories of want and deprivation. An alternative way to relate to the lives of early Muslims and inculcate some of the values they lived by, is to examine the lives of the rich among them.

• Khadijah Bint Khuwailid: Humility and service

She was the Mother of the Believers upon whom Allah Himself sent salutations through the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who told the Prophet (peace be upon him): “ Khadijah is coming to you with a dish (of seasoned food or drink). When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, and on my behalf, and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise wherein there is no noise and no toil. (Sahih Muslim)
Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was among the wealthiest women of her time, who spent her considerable fortune in providing succor and support to the emerging community of Muslims.

During the three years of boycott suffered by the Muslims in Shi’b Abi Talib (a ravine near Makkah where the Muslims were isolated), she almost single-handedly got her agents to procure food and other essentials.
Certainly, she must not have lacked for household help or servants, yet the fact that she carried the Prophet’s meal to him herself, speaks volumes about her humility and the esteem and love she had for her husband, the Prophet (peace be upon him).

• Uthman Bin Affan: Transactions with Allah

He was the Companion about whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From this day on, nothing will harm Uthman (regardless of what he does).” What prompted the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) outfitted a woefully under-equipped army (called the Jaysh Al-Usrah, Army of Hardship) that was setting out to confront the Romans who were amassing near Tabuk in the year 9 AH, with around 300 camels, a hundred horses and weapons (besides contributing thousands of dinars in money and gold).

In another instance, Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the rescue of the community when there was a severe shortage of water in Madina and the Muslims were obliged to purchase water at very high prices. He purchased a well of sweet water, called Ar-Rumah, and placed it at the disposal of the Muslims. For more read

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MWL to organize interfaith forums around the world

GENEVA: Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary-general of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL), announced on Monday the MWL’s plan to hold an international interfaith conference in Southeast Asia within a year. He also disclosed plans to hold similar conferences in North America, Latin America and Africa.

“We have not yet decided on the country where the interfaith conference in Southeast Asia would be held,” Al-Turki told reporters at Geneva Inter.Continental Hotel, where a two-day international conference on the Impact of the Interfaith Initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah opens on Wednesday.

He said King Abdullah’s initiative, which began from the holy city of Makkah, is having a great impact on world peace and stability.

Al-Turki said the Geneva conference aims to take the initiative to the general public and remove misunderstandings surrounding the initiative. President of Switzerland Hans-Rudolf Merz is expected to open the conference on Wednesday in the presence of religious leaders, academics and intellectuals from different countries.

Al-Turki spoke about plans to establish an international center to promote King Abdullah’s interfaith dialogue initiative. There is also a plan to set up an international committee on interfaith dialogue including prominent personalities from across the world.

“We want to give a message to the world that Islam and Muslims stand for peace, and Saudi Arabia, its leadership and people want to make their contributions to world peace by promoting dialogue among the followers of different faiths,” he said, hoping that these efforts would help stop the smear campaigns against Islam and Muslims. For more read here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The drama and the farce

No point denying it: In the first round of the match between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama was beaten.

Obama had demanded a freeze of all settlement activity, including East Jerusalem, as a condition for convening a tripartite summit meeting, in the wake of which accelerated peace negotiations were to start, leading to peace between two states — Israel and Palestine.

In the words of the ancient proverb, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Netanyahu has tripped Obama on his first step. The president of the United States has stumbled.

The threefold summit did indeed take place. But instead of a shining achievement for the new American administration, we witnessed a humbling demonstration of weakness. After Obama was compelled to give up his demand for a settlement freeze, the meeting no longer had any content.

True, Mahmoud Abbas did come, after all. He was dragged there against his will. The poor man was unable to refuse the invitation from Obama, his only support. But he will pay a heavy price for this flight: The Palestinians, and the entire Arab world, have seen his weakness. And Obama, who had started his term with a ringing speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, now looks like a broken reed.

The Israeli peace movement has been dealt another painful blow. Obama’s victory and the settlement freeze were to show the Israeli public that the refusal policy of Netanyahu was leading to disaster.

But Netanyahu has won, and in a big way. Not only did he survive, he has proven to his people — and to the public at large — that Obama is nothing but a paper tiger. For Netanyahu, the threat of peace has passed. At least for the time being. It is difficult to understand how Obama allowed himself to get into this embarrassing situation.

Before entering into such a campaign, a statesman must weigh up the array of forces: What power is at my disposal? What forces are confronting me? How determined is the other side? Obama has a host of able advisers, headed by Rahm Emanuel, whose Israeli origins (and name) were supposed to give him special insights. George Mitchell, a hard-nosed and experienced diplomat, was supposed to provide sober assessments. How did they all fail? For more read here.

I wonder how long this puppet show will go on?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Belated Eid To Ya'll


id a blessing from Allah .......
It's a day of Happiness ........
Day for family and friends to gather and share the joy .......

May Allah(SWT) accept from us and you. Ameen.

Whishing You All A Very Happy Eid.

Please enjoy this Eid song by Zain Bhikha too :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Embracing Islam

For 39-year-old Edward, now Imran, May 27 of this year was the most significant day, as on this day he embraced Islam.

“I was passing by a da’wah center and decided to go inside. The same day I read the Shahadah and became a Muslim,” said the Filipino electrical engineer residing in Jeddah.

Many non-Muslim expatriates in Saudi Arabia have been entering the Islamic fold of life. Around 1,392 expats of different nationalities embraced Islam at the Cooperative Da’wah and Guidance Office in Riyadh’s Suwaidi District recently.

“As converts, if we are explained the various tenets of Islam, it will be easier to understand. The da’wah center provided reasoning and this is important as you just don’t embrace Islam but you also need to learn it,” said Imran, adding that his Muslim colleagues, Saudis specially, are “very happy” with his conversion.

“Earlier also, I was never left in isolation and felt I was one among them,” said Imran.

In the past five to seven years, there has been a 20 to 30 percent rise in the number of expats embracing Islam, said Mohammed Aqil of the Jeddah Da’wah Center (JDC).“More people are coming to the Kingdom, including non-Muslims, to observe Islam closely.

Also, with the help of new media, such as e-books, social networking sites, online videos, Muslim organizations are better able to spread much more Islamic awareness,” he said.

The JDC has seen 450 conversions in nine months since the last Muharram, with 55 people on an average embracing Islam every month. Last month, 64 conversions took place with most of the new Muslims being Filipinos and Indians.

“However, this is nothing as compared to the number of people coming to the Kingdom,” Aqil said. He estimated that there are seven da’wah centers operating in Jeddah under the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da’wah and Guidance.

Of the eight million expatriates residing in Saudi Arabia, over one-quarter of them are non-Muslims.

The close interaction between the foreigners and Muslims often provides increased level of Islamic awareness among the former.

“As a non-Muslim, I respect the Qur’an and wish that every Muslim reads it and follows it,” said S. Narendra Babu, 39, an Indian accounts executive in a travel company in Riyadh. He has never observed fast but, follows the general routine during the month of Ramadan which helps him to adapt a healthy diet.

“I have Muslim friends who invite me and my family for Iftar parties,” Babu added. Ye Ruan, a Chinese national, 39, hopes to become a Muslim and has started reading the Qur’an. He doesn’t fully understand it and communicates his doubts to his Muslim friends. He finds the atmosphere in the Kingdom more conducive to learning Islam than in his homeland, where the recent riots involving the Muslim minority ethnic group have raised concerns about China’s level of religious tolerance.

“Muslim people have a strong desire to help. I wish to learn more Arabic and, have also subscribed to an Arabic newspaper here to do so,” he said.

However, it should be noted that Islamic da’wah does not aim to convert people. It seeks to spread Islamic awareness and leave it to individual discretion whether to choose Islam or not. –

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Islam and the West: A partnership for the future

Dr. Francis Lamand, president of the Paris-based "Islam and the West" nongovernmental organization, is a man on a mission - to promote understanding between Islam and the Western world. Since the organization's inception in 1980, the former French diplomat and international law expert has sought to develop cultural, social and economic relations between the Islamic and Western worlds, both in France and overseas.

"For the last 30 years my organization has been working vigorously in favor of rapprochement between Islam and the West in religious value as well as cultural, social and economic values," Lamand told Arab News in Jeddah. "I may add that when we established our association in February 1980 with the objective and mission of acting to better the understanding between the two worlds, the public opinion in Europe followed us with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. We felt the need to establish bridges between the two parties rather than seeing Islam and the West confronting each other and viewing one another as a threat."

Lamand is busy preparing for the international conference and debate that his organization has planned for Nov. 10-12, 2009 in Brussels. The theme of the conference is "Islam and the West: a Partnership for the Future," which is being supported by the European Commission, the Pontifical Council for the Inter-religious Dialogue, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Muslim World League (MWL), the World Muslim Congress (Karachi), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Islamic Institute of the Paris Mosque, the Al-Azhar University (Cairo), the Oxford Center of Islamic Studies and the Jeddah-based International Islamic Forum for Dialogue.

"This is not just another conventional forum but rather a valuable encounter that seeks to build a genuine partnership founded on common international, social, cultural and economic values that are shared or could be shared, with a view to generating real cooperation between Islam and the West," Lamand said of the upcoming conference. "In a world which is in the grip of the globalization- related hazards and turmoil, this encounter may be a gateway to a new era of mutual understanding, fellowship and solidarity."

Invitations for the conference have been extended to all those seeking a mutually beneficial rapprochement between the two worlds. "Come, let us join this debate on the future and participate in the construction of a great arch of reconciliation and exchange between Islam and the West, which aims to bring together in the same spirit of concord Jews, Christians and Muslims," he said.

It is an ambitious goal, but Lamand and his organization have accomplished much in the last three decades. During that time "Islam and the West" has played important roles in representing the interest of European mosques and creating an atmosphere in which the European Muslim community could have its own religious television programming. The organization also helped to organize the first tête-à-tête at the Vatican between Pope John Paul II and Dr Abdullah Omar Nasseef, secretary-general of the Muslim World League.

For more read here.

Fight terrorism jointly: Al-Sudais

MAKKAH/MADINAH: More than three million Muslim faithful attended juma, taraweeh and Qiyamullail prayers at the Two Holy Mosques on Friday as the imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah called for joint efforts to combat terrorism.

The Haram in Makkah overflowed with worshippers as tens of thousands of faithful had come to perform Umrah and attend special prayers seeking Lailat Al-Qadr, the night of power.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, accompanied by senior princes, ministers and officials, is in Makkah to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the vicinity of Haram.

The king has instructed government departments to mobilize their resources in the service of the guests of God who have come from different parts of the world to perform Umrah and spend the blessed days of Ramadan at the Two Holy Mosques.

Security and traffic departments have deployed more officers around the Two Holy Mosques to maintain law and order and ensure smooth flow of pilgrims. The Health Ministry has made precautionary measures to protect the health of pilgrims from contagious diseases such as swine flu. For more read here.

Should pregnant women fast in Ramadan?

The holy month of Ramadan may bring new challenges for pregnant women as they encounter a period of acute difficulty. According to the Islamic perspective, there is no obligation on pregnant women to fast in Ramadan. They can opt not to and make up the days missed later. However, if a woman is able and willing to fast - providing there is no harm to her unborn child - then she can do so.

From a purely medical perspective, doctors and health specialists believe that fasting offers physical benefits as it keeps body in a perfect state while helping to burn out unnecessary fats and additional calories.

Therefore, if a woman is healthy and there are no such complications, she can adhere to her daily routine of fasting.

In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Dr. Sumaiya Banu, a consultant gynecologist at Badr-As-Samah Clinic in Jeddah mirrored this opinion. “Fasting does not cause any problems to a child who is in the development stage of its growth and is not affected by the fast,” she said. “It all depends on how much the pregnant woman can endure; some can even fast the whole month.”

She added that those women who do plan on fasting, however, should consult their doctor before embarking as the doctor will review her general and obstetric health before approving.

“It is imperative that you consult your doctor as the doctor will monitor the growth of the baby, your weight, and only then give the green signal for fasting, considering there aren’t any complications,” she explained.

Another issue she highlighted was women in their first trimester (first three month of pregnancy) might find fasting much harder, as they will be dealing with morning sickness: nausea and excessive vomiting.

“Such women can fast on alternate days - if they are not suffering from any complications - or whenever they feel up to it. In this way, they will feel healthier and more refreshed,” she remarked.

The issue of fasting also needs to consider the pregnant woman’s built. Dr. Banu advised those women who have a slender built to not fast, as well as those who have high blood pressures, low levels of hemoglobin and suffer from epilepsy. The list also includes those who require regular medication, like insulin and vitamin injections. Pregnant women must also be aware of the risks of dehydration, which can lead to urinary tract infections, so they need to drink enough water. Dr. Banu advises the consumption of at least 2.5 liters of water to detoxify the digestive system and organs. Oily and spicy food must be avoided, like in normal days, as well as gram flour delicacies that are a regular feature at Iftars in Asian homes.

In those cases where there is a risk or possibility of premature labor, twin babies and severe morning sickness, fasting should be avoided altogether. However, any fasting woman who experiences symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision, palpitations, burning in the urinary tract or sever vomiting, should break her fast immediately and consult her doctor, advised Dr. Banu. - SG

Thursday, September 10, 2009

660 Chinese Haramain train workers embrace Islam

MAKKAH – Six hundred and sixty Chinese nationals working on the Haramain train construction project have embraced Islam in a ceremony in Makkah.

Abdul Aziz Al-Khudhairi, Makkah Governorate Undersecretary, who witnessed the declaration of the shahada described the event as a “direct response to critics of the government for contracting Chinese company.”

“We received hundreds of letters opposing the signing of a contract with the Chinese company and demanding that Muslims be contracted,” Al-Khudhairi said. “Six hundred and sixty of them have now embraced Islam.

Now those who were calling for them to be dismissed are happy at their embracing Islam. The numbers will also go up, as this is only the beginning, and represents around ten percent of the 5,000 working on the Haramain train.”

Al-Khudhairi demanded that “our conduct reflect the teachings of our religion and our words should match our deeds to have an effect on people”. “We must also respect human rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, as many as 2,722 people have embraced Islam at the Cooperative Office for Call, Guidance and Awareness of Communities in Al-Taif Governorate.

The Office’s Director General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Sawat pointed out that the office has also distributed during that period 1,247,694 copies of the Holy Qur’an, religious books and pamphlets as well as 225, 901 religious cassettes. –

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ramadan 2009: America and Islam

I HAD the distinct honor of being invited to address this year’s Iftar dinner at the Pentagon, together with Ms. Farah Pandith, the State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and Ms. Dalia Mogahed, of the Gallup Corporation. In attendance were over 125 American Muslims, members of every branch of the US military, and their guests from the White House, Congress and other government agencies.

The evening provided an opportunity for reflection on the changes that are occurring among American Muslims and in the US’ relationship with Islam.

When I first came to this city, over 30 years ago, there were no Iftars, nor was there any formal recognition of Ramadan or the Eids by anyone, anywhere. I can recall going to the Reagan White House to propose a presidential Eid message and being asked to write it. And then reminding them each year after that.

The practice was broadened and institutionalized during the Clinton years, with President Bush adding an Iftar dinner, which he hosted each year of his presidency.

At this point, there are Iftars all over this city — the White House, State Department, Congress, National Security Agency, and more.

A primary factor accounting for this change and the growing recognition being given to Ramadan, is the presence and vitality of a growing Muslim community. There are thousands of Muslims serving in the US military and hundreds serving in every branch and agency of the US government.

It is not just that the US is heavily engaged in the Muslim World, it is that America’s Muslim community is no longer invisible. Their presence, hard work and contributions to our country are being recognized. And with that, their faith is being appreciated. A tribute to American Muslims, yes — but also a tribute to the capacity of America to grow and change.

In many ways, this is a unique country. One of our most enduring qualities is our openness and the absorptive character of our national identity. Despite the persistent rantings of some bigots, no one religion, ethnicity or culture defines us or limits who can be one of us. For more read here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What nourishment does the body need in Ramadan?

Make your Ramadan this year special, fruitful, and life changing.. It is a time to eat less not more food, helping the needy, organizing a food or gift drive for poor families, and strengthening family ties.

Fasting promotes healing and rejuvenation of the body, mind, and spirit. In fact, it frees up energy that your body normally spends on digesting food. The liver can break down toxic chemicals circulating in the bloodstream now with a lighter work load.

As long as you do not end your fast in a large feast, you can gain many health benefits: clearer skin, overcoming addictions, improved immunity, mental creativity, better attitude and motivation, weight loss, and lower blood pressure. Follow these steps to get through Ramadan with better health, some weight loss, and an elevated spirit:

Breaking the fast
At the call for maghreb prayer, start with a glass of water to replenish fluids, several dates, and a short prayer. A glass of water before mealtime diminishes your appetite. The sugar in dates will give you a quick boost of energy, which are much needed after a long fast. Dates are easy to digest and rich in B vitamins, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

It is difficult to get enough vitamins, anti-oxidants and fluids during Ramadan. Drink one cup of freshly squeezed orange or grape juice to stimulate digestion. Try a glass of water with the fresh juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey to cleanse the liver and help break down fat. Pineapple juice can promote weight loss and improve digestion. An excellent refreshing cold beverage common in Ramadan is licorice drink. Licorice is a mild laxative, a remedy for fever, coughs, lung problems, and ulcers, and is low in sugar. Use with caution if you have hypertension.

For more read here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Need for balance and moderation in religion

It is well-known occurence when people gather together on some matter, and that the group which becomes strong and has many followers. You will find among them the pure and the impure, the justly-balanced and the imbalanced, the extreme and the moderate.

And a well-established fact is that the extremists are more vocal and have greater acceptance, since the ones who are justly-balanced follow a middle course.

And those who seek this balanced approach are few in number, in every age and group. As for extremism, that is what most people thrive upon, and what the overwhelming majority incline towards - and this has been the path of the various sects and religions as well.

So the extremists try to monopolize their hold among people and seek to be single out in their Da’wah. Such people did not find any way to gain dominence over people except through extremism, which they achieve by degrading people and belittling them at every possible opportunity, either by their tongues, or in other ways.

And the first to open this door - the door of unleashing their tongues against those who oppose them - were the Khawarij.

This is the route through which they came to the masses, through the door of takfeer (declaring a Muslim to be an unbeliever), in order that the masses would flee from people other than them, so that they could then secure a following with the people for themselves.

Then this disease was transmitted to others, such that the extreme elements of each group started unjustly declaring Muslims to be either unbelievers, sinners, innovators or deviants ...”

1.Dealing with those who are in err or deviate

Ibn Taymiyah (d.728H) said: “The Imams of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah, and the people of knowledge and Iman (faith) have in them qualities of ‘adl (justice), ‘ilm (knowledge) and rahmah (mercy), and they know the truth which conforms to the Sunnah and which is free from innovations.

They do justice to those who deviate from the Sunnah and the Jama’ah, even if they have been wronged, just as Allah said:

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allâh and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is Well­Acquainted with what you do.” (Qur’an, 5:8)

Likewise, they are merciful to Allah’s slaves, wishing for them good, Allah’s guidance and knowledge. They never intend for them any harm or evil. Rather, when they criticize them and explain to them their error, ignorance or wrong-doing, their purpose in doing so is only to clarify the truth, and to be merciful to Allah’s slaves, to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and to make the word of Allah uppermost so that the way of life becomes purely for Allah.”

For more read here.

The inner secrets of fasting

Know, that in the fast (Sawm) is a special quality that is not found in anything else. And that is its close connection to Allah, such that He says: ‘‘The Fast (Sawm) is for Me and I will reward for it.’’

This connection is enough to show the high status of fasting. Similarly, the Ka’bah is highly dignified due to its close connection to Him, as occurs in His statement: ‘‘And sanctify My House.’’

Indeed, the fast is an excellent act of worshipd due to two significant reasons:

1. It is a secret and hidden action, thus, no one from the creation is able to see it; therefore riya‘ (showing off) cannot enter it.

2. It is a means of subjugating the enemies of Allah. This is because the road that the enemies (of Allah) embark upon (in order to misguide the son of Adam) is that of desires. And eating and drinking strengthens the desires. There are many Prophetic traditions that indicate the merits of fasting, and they are well-known

Recommended acts of fasting

The pre-dawn meal (suhoor) and delaying in taking it are preferable, as well as hastening to break the fast and doing so with dates. Generosity in giving in charity is also recommended during Ramadan, as well as doing good deeds and giving more and more in charity. This is in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

It is also recommended to study the Qur‘an and perform I‘tikaf (seclusion for worship) during Ramadan, especially in its last 10 days, as well as exerting in doing good deeds in it. In the two Saheehs, ’Aa‘isha said: ‘‘When the last 10 days (of Ramadan) would come, the Prophet would grid up his loins’’

The scholars have mentioned two views concerning the meaning of ‘girding up his lions.’ The first is that it means the turning away from women.

The second is that it is an expression denoting his eagerness and diligence in doing good deed. They also say that the reason for his making an extra effort the last 10 days of Ramadan was due to his seeking of the Night of al-Qadr (Laylatul-Qadr). For more read here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Toward a higher level of fasting

It is Allah’s mercy, may He be glorified, that He placed no restriction on our eating and drinking during the rest of the year as long as what we consume is (i) Halaal, (ii) Tayyib (nutritious and clean), and (iii) not to be extravagant. We can eat or drink at any time, choosing from a wide variety of cuisines and delicacies: meats, dairy products, spices, herbs, leafy greens, fibers, staple grains, or frutis and vegetables, in whatever combination we like, because indeed the list of Halaal food is endless while the Haraam is only a restricted few.

The fact that Allah has made fasting obligatory is also a mercy from Him. Man’s nature is such that he takes for granted all good things that are easy to access and abundant in supply. He demeans their importance, and many a time, misuses them for his selfish needs.

Fasting from dawn to dusk with a conscious effort to abstain from sins of the tongue, ear, hands, eyes, or heart re-charges our faith and piety every year. Standing in prayers late at night while repenting our sins makes us more conscious of Allah throughout this month.

Think about it this way: Had this fasting not been obligatory, how many of us would have voluntarily fasted 30 days without any break? How many of us would have voluntarily listened to the Qur’an in prayer at night? How many of us would have willingly given a fixed portion of our wealth in charity to the needy? An honest answer shows us where we really stand as weak humans devoid of discipline and self-control. So definitely the obligation of fasting in Ramadan is a great mercy incurred upon us.

Muslims’ attitudes during Ramadan can really be divided into three types:

Only hunger
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned this type of a person who leaves his eating, drinking and conjugal relations with his spouse, but does not give up indulging in sins like lying and backbiting. For example, you will see such a Muslim greet Ramadan with an attitude of dread, instead of excitement. They look forward to Eid with desperation as Ramadan goes on. You will notice them deliberately missing Taraweeh because “it is not Fard!,” lighting a cigarette as soon as the Maghrib adhan goes off, then missing the Salah in the Masjid as they stuff themselves to the hilt with food. Ramadan, to them, is a burden they cannot wait to offload from their backs. “Many a person who fasts, gets nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst.” (Ibn Majah, Ahmad)

For more read