و رفعنا لك ذكرك

اللهمّ صلّ و سلّم على سيدنا و مولانا محمّد

After a month of the losing of hearts and minds over the attempted ridicule and assassination of the character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) the world should have learnt that there is a silent majority of Muslims, who though may not have demonstrated the anger shown on the streets of many of the worlds capitals, are more dangerous that the passionate amongst them. Continue reading و رفعنا لك ذكرك

Reflections of Ramadan in the Middle East: A Journey of Faith and Hope

Malick Elias

I looked forward to the arrival of the Holy month of Ramadan with excitement and jubilation and hoping that I would be able to build upon my achievements from last year.

Last year, 2011, I began the Holy month in London of which I spent the first ten days living out of suitcases and having to break and begin my fast in a hotel. The whole atmosphere for me was less than spiritual. I made several visits to nearby mosques for the Taraweeh prayers and to catch up with old friends, but a mixture of factors led me to catch the earliest flight back to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to experience the rest of Ramadan there and I did not regret it. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of Ramadan in Dubai and at the end of the month I was left with the feeling that through my prayers and fasting I was blessed. Six to seven months later those feelings remained with me. Continue reading Reflections of Ramadan in the Middle East: A Journey of Faith and Hope

Can the Will of the People find a place in Islamic Political Discourse?

Malick Elias 

Can the will of God be ever expressed through the will of the people? Some may think that this question is new to Islamic political thought; but quite to the contrary. Evidence suggests that this question was relevant to the earliest companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon them) as it is important today. In the year 624 CE, the second year after Prophet Muhammad (saw) migration from Mecca to Medina and during the Holy month of Ramadan, the Prophet was facing his greatest challenge yet, when force of some 1000 warriors from the tribe of Quraish were on their day to attack Medina and purge it of the influence that Islam had over it. The holy prophet and his companions poorly equipped and ill prepared for their first real conflict with the Quraish, had to decide where best to face the enemy. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) had previously consulted the people of Medina, as they were all signatories to a constitution, which obliged all parties to protect Medina if the city was ever under attack. The results of the war consul was that they would meet the enemy at the watering holes of Badr, which was on route to the city and would have been an important watering place for the warring forces of Quraish of Medina. There were other strategic decisions which the Holy Prophet (pubh) had made himself, which were questioned by his companions as to their strategic value and which showed that his companions could distinguish between the prophet’s leadership role both as their leader in worldly matters, as a Human and his capacity as an agent of the Divine. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) had decided to fight his enemies taking up positions from the first set of wells he had encountered. Hubab Ibn al-Mundhir al-Ansaari al-Khazrajee asked the Prophet (pbuh): “O Messenger of Allah, is this the location that Allah ordered you to fight from, that we should not go beyond it? Or is this the opinion (you have taken) and the war strategy? The Holy Prophet replied: ‘The opinion and the war strategy.’ Hubab then added, that it was not the best place to fight from and explained what he saw was a better fighting position and strategy, to which the Holy Prophet accepted and refined his approach. What is indicative from the story of Hubab Ibn al-Mundhir’s questioning was that the prophet’s companions understood that the Holy Prophet acted within both human and divine agency. This meant that the Prophet (pbuh) exercised human judgement (Ijtihaad) on a range of worldly affairs, which he saw, without self interest or gain, that was in the interest of his followers. Hadith reporters tell us of an incident in which the Prophet (pbuh) suggested to some date farmers of Medina not to manually cross-pollinate their date palms, which was the custom of the local farmers, but to leave the dates to be naturally pollinated. This later resulted in the harvesting of a bad crop. They complained to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding his advice and he said to them: “… I only offered my opinion. Do not hold me account to what I think. However, when I speak to you about anything regarding Allah, then accept it, for indeed I never speak falsely about Allah the Almighty.” [Hadith Talha Ibn ‘Ubaydullah mentioned in Sahih Muslim] Continue reading Can the Will of the People find a place in Islamic Political Discourse?

Can Citizens of Muslim Societies ever be Free? A critical analysis of M.J.Thompson’s Islam, Rights and Ethical Life

Malick Elias

Micheal J. Thompson, in his ‘Islam, Rights, and Ethical Life: The problem of Political Modernity in the Muslim World’ (Theoria: vol.57, ps.100-125, 2011) identified two broad theories which he states seeks to explain the lack of political modernity in Arab Islamic societies. First, there is the economic development approach which argues that the lack of it in Arab Islamic societies has prevented the domain of civil society from forming providing no opposition to authoritarian institutions (Zubaida 1992, 2001a; Bellin 1994a; Anderson 1995; Ibrahim 2002) The second explanation is that the value system of Islam as a religion is ‘anathema’ to modern forms of politics, thereby shaping non democratic and even authoritarian institutions. (Fish 2002; Barakat 1993; Korany 1994; Zakaria 2003). Thompson explains that both of these theories taken on their own are ‘inadequate’ and set about exploring ‘modernity’ in a different way, to offer an alternative explanation of Islam’s relationship with political modernity. It is important to note here that the real question that Thompson is exploring here is Islam’s relationship with Democracy. To what extent does Democracy represent ‘Political Modernity’ or ‘Modernity’ in the realm of politics is the sum of a form of ‘Democracy’ are questions needed to be explored in themselves. Continue reading Can Citizens of Muslim Societies ever be Free? A critical analysis of M.J.Thompson’s Islam, Rights and Ethical Life

Who says that there is no Freedom in Being a Muslim?

Who says that in Islam the concept of ‘Freedom’ does not exist? Let me break it down for you.

Being Muslim is just promising God that you would be good. That’s the general idea. Good to who?

Good to God, I guess in the first instance. In fact, finding Him is sort of finding yourself – being good to Him through being good to yourself and your fellowman. Thats it. Now that was not hard is it, to deduce was it? Yeah, yeah, I know many people don’t look at their calling to God that way.

Anyway, too often, people think, and this includes Muslims, that anyone that identifies with Islam is a ardent Believer. Wrong! Well, every Believer is a Muslim, but not every Muslim is a Believer. You see, being Muslim is the act of bearing witness to a set of truths and obligations, such as:

(1) testifying that there is only One, Unique God (Allah, in Arabic) and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is this last Prophet and Messenger

(2) promising to establish prayer at proscribed times

(3) redistributing a proscribed amount of wealth to poor and needy Muslims

(4) abstaining from food, drink and copulation during the daytime hours of a proscribed month

(5) and making pilgrimage to the first house built for the worship of God, in your lifetime, if you can afford to.

And you know what? A Muslim is not obliged to do any of it, he or she can choose to adhere or break their promises, but – and there is a BIG BUT – that will be breaking a most solemn oath with God and with that comes consequences in this life and in the life to come. Well, one is not even obliged to believe in those consequences at all; because if you did, then you’d be a ‘Believer’ for that moment.

Now here is another aspect of believing. The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) promised that adherence to those five aforementioned acts is sufficient for anyone to be rewarded entry into Paradise. He once told one of his followers, Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘Whosoever, says ‘There is only One, Unique God, with sincerity, will enter Paradise.’ Bemused with the news, he said, ‘Shall I tell the people? The prophet then replied, ‘No, they will rely on that alone.’ http://www.abc.se/~m9783/n/lail_e.html

Now you would have to believe that Prophets and Messengers once walked the earth and bring revealed books of guidance to many and that these men preached in the existence of a Unique God and a promise of a life after this world. Well if you could agree with that you’d be halfway there to earning the title of being a ‘Believer’.

Wait up, not so quick. There are three more articles of belief: to accept that all ones actions are accounted for by supernatural beings called angels and that they are only collecting evidence against you because Allah already knows all of the choices and non-choices you will make.

Aha! I know what you’r thinking now. If I am free why are all of my choices not really choices because they are already preordained by a God? Well, you don’t have to believe and then you’d already been preordained to be a non-believer. Not everyone can be a believer you know and today you maybe and tomorrow you are not. That’s why you got to keep living the good life in the hope that you please your creator and fulfilled your promises. Its a tough life, but don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes.

The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) on another occasion when the Prophet said that ‘anyone who acknowledged that there was only One Unique Creator, sincerely from his heart will enter Paradise, was asked by one of his companions, Abu Dhar al-Ghifaari (ra) thrice: ‘Even if he committed fornication, adultury or stole?’ The prophet (pbuh) replied, ‘even if he fornicated or did adultery and stole … The Prophet (pbuh) sensing Abu Dhar hesitations said, despite any objections you may have Oh Abi Dhar (raghima anfak).”

Don’t get excited. You will obtain Paradise after paying for the price for your transgressions against the rights of others. Now, if you ended up in prison, don’t ask, why are there laws that persecute me for my injustices – why there are laws that violate and dictate the extent of my freedoms. Lol.

Well, someone knew that you would violate the rights of others and that you’d have to be curtailed. Someone knew that someone had to set the example of evil and its consequences. That doesn’t have to be you? If you are already in such a position – role-playing evil that is. You must really be enjoying it, not to want to change what you are? If you feel that you have no power to change your situation, then you are a danger to you and me.

Now if you are not on the wrong end of justice, then you are making the right choices until now, aren’t you?

What if you didn’t get caught? What if someone is doing you injustice, did not get caught?

Look, the bottom line is, you don’t have to be a Muslim, if thats what you ORDAINED for yourself. You don’t have to be a Believer also. Be anything you want to be. You prefer hell over heaven, that is your choice. Just don’t break the laws that keep you and me safe.

Malick Elias