Friday, June 19, 2009

Israel: Road map to nowhere

Former US President Jimmy Carter is one of those rare birds who have retained their humanity even after four years in the world’s most powerful job. The architect of the first Arab-Israel peace accord was moved to tears when he visited the ruins of Gaza this week, comparing the condition of the Palestinians to “worse than animals.”

Granted, most Americans are not familiar with the Palestinian way of life, I often wonder what the Israelis themselves think of the people living next door in a permanent hell. Are the Israelis ever moved by the Palestinian suffering, as Carter has been and rest of the world often is? If they are, it is yet to be seen. No matter what happens to the Palestinians and what the rest of the world thinks of their suffering, Israel and its leaders remain as indifferent and as unreasonable as ever. When Benjamin Netanyahu promised his own road map, after President Barack Obama gave him those stony looks in the Oval Office with the world media watching, even the most hardened cynics began nursing hopes of peace.

We thought, maybe, Israel, prodded by its faithful ally and biggest backer, finally has had a change of heart. Maybe, we hoped, it’s finally time for the doves of peace to descend on the Holy Land. Perhaps, the time has come for Palestinians to find themselves a home — even if moth eaten — of their own.

But Israel is nothing if not consistent. Netanyahu did unveil a “road map” in his much-hyped speech but you do not know what to make of it. Having refused to acknowledge the existence of Palestinians all these years, Netanyahu has finally agreed for “peace” and a Palestinian state, if it can be called one. However, his one hand takes back what the other proffers. The “sovereign and independent” Palestine envisaged by Israel will have no military or security forces of its own. It is not permitted to possess or import any weapons. It cannot control its own airspace. And, yes, the borders of this Bantustan will be controlled by the able and efficient forces of the great state of Israel. His Imperial Majesty Netanyahu is kind enough though to grant the future Palestinian state the right to have its own flag and currency. In return, all Israel asks from the Palestinians is the surrender of their rights over their lands and homes in what was once Palestine. They must recognize Israel as the Jewish state and the divine right of Jewish people to the Holy Land. So what if this means the Palestinians can never dream of returning to their homes and lands from which they were driven out or even hope for recompense? In any case, where’s the land and where are the homes that the Palestinians dream of returning to? For more read this.


Fajr prayers on Fridays

Q- Is it permissible to habitually recite Surah As-Sajdah and Surah Al-Insan in the Fajr prayer on Friday?

A – It is prescribed to recite Surah As-Sajdah and Surah Ad-Dahr (i.e. Al-Insan) in the Fajr prayer on Fridays, and there is no objection to one habitually doing so. However, if it is feared that some of the people will think that it is obligatory to do so, then it is lawful for him (i.e. the Imam) not to recite it sometimes.

– Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Verdicts; Fatawa Islamiyah, vol. 2, pg. 458

For more read here.

Winning gold through intentions

1. Intention before the act: Use the golden touchDaily acts can be converted into acts of worship by making our intentions pure for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. This is Ikhlas (doing our deeds sincerely for the sake of Allah).

2. Intention during the act: Spend it wiselyThis means accomplishing our acts of worship in the right manner, i.e. as per the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).Scholars say the above two are conditions for any act of worship to be valid, i.e. Ikhlas and having been done according to Sunnah.

For more read this.

The Pearl Necklace – I: ‘I cannot accept your reward’

Qazi Abu Bakr Muhammad Bin Abdul Baqi Ansari is an illustrious personality of Islamic history. He was one of the most pious persons of his time. His biographers tell a number of stories about his honesty and reliability but the one that affected his whole life is full of strange and unique events. He has narrated this story in his own words and it adorns the pages of history books:

IN the middle of the 5th century Hijrah, I was a student of the Qur’an and Hadith in Makkah. I once became jobless and my means of income came to an end. I managed to subsist for a few days but soon it became hard to obtain even two square meals. My studies were discontinued and I had to sell a few of my books to support myself. I was at the edge of starvation but self-respect did not allow me to borrow or beg.

One day, hungry as usual, I went to the Ka’ba to pray to Allah to save me from my sad plight. On my way back I saw a velvet cloth pouch lying near the road edge. I picked it up and looked around to find its owner but the road was deserted and nobody was in sight. I carried the pouch to my house.

I was curious to know its contents. As I untied the silk cord, a very precious necklace of pearls slipped into my hand. The luster of the spotless pearls almost lit my room. It was a radiant beauty and I was thrilled to hold the valuable ornament. My thoughts went to the unfortunate owner who had lost the precious jewelry. He must be sad and very worried. The course of action which I instantly decided on was to look for the owner and give him back his necklace to relieve him of this mental suffering. Leaving the bag behind, I went straight to the place were it was found. For more read here.