“Da Vinci” unites Indian Muslims and Christians

May 15, 2006

A powerful organisation of Indian Islamic clerics promised on Monday to help Christian groups launch protests if the authorities did not ban the screening of the controversial film, “The Da Vinci Code”. [read the entire article]



May 2, 2006

Once Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ilyas [RA] said to me (Zafar Ahmad Thanvi): “Maulana! Ulama are not coming to this work. What should I do? O Allah! What should I do?” I replied: “All of them will come; you make du’aa.” He said: “I cannot even beg du’aa. You make du’aa by yourself.” The he recited these couplets of Qasida Burdah:

I beg of God forgiveness
for my words which carry no deeds.
What’s my advice
but attribution of offspring to a barren dame!

I left the habit of Him [Rasulullah (SAW)]
who kept awake in pitch-black nights
praying while standing on his feet.
Till the pain of weariness
reflected itself in their swelling.

After this, Hazrat Maulana’s eyes became filled with tears, and he said: “In our circle, Qasida Burdah is included in the syllabus of ulama, but not for its literary attributes; it is brought in rather to soften the hearts and for promoting love of the Holy Prophet [SAW]”

Art of Fatwa 2: Photography & Terrorism

April 29, 2006

I was wasting time this morning and happened to bump into some excellent fatwas at www.daruliftaa.com by Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam. I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised by their depth and comprehensiveness.

Photographs: Please clarify the position of Islam

There are two positions of contemporary scholars on the issue. There are great scholars of knowledge, wisdom and piety on both sides of the fence; hence, it would be wrong to criticize anyone for following any one of these positions. It is a matter of genuine and valid difference of opinion. It is not an issue where one may condemn another, and one must respect others’ right to follow their conscience.

Islamic stance on the bombings of 7/7

The recent tragic events in London and elsewhere have unfortunately prompted many non-Muslims to associate Islam with violence and terrorism. Muslims worldwide are experiencing a very difficult stage of their existence, and facing many trials and tribulations. We are being accused of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism. The idea that Islam is a violent religion is becoming more and more widespread to the point that even some ignorant Muslims are being affected with this propaganda.

The Art of Fatwa

April 18, 2006

I recently spent some time with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. I observed something that I have found to be true of all true 'ulama. Myself and Salman, whenever we would ask the Shaykh anything related to fiqh, would be treated to a stratified answer. Such was also the case when I met with Shaykh Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf last year. In many situations, a simple haram/halal answer treads of insensitivity. Also, we cannot discount the fact that in regards to some issues, a haram/halal binary does not and cannot exist. It is entirely plausible that one thing may be allowed for one and prohibited for someone else; and this is inline with fiqhi maxims. Our time with Shaykh Faraz was memorable, inspirational and most of all, had a good effect on myself and Salman's spiritual states. Regrettably for Shaykh Faraz, he may have inadvertantly rekindled my once lost love for Deoband and its institutions. Also, anyone who meets Shaykh Faraz will realize that he has an excellent (and I mean excellent) sense of humour. He had me laughing on plenty of occasions (Salman of course, being the obedient and respectful student controlled himself and limited himself to a smile everytime). The vibe that I got from him was that of happiness. To me, he was the perfect example of a man who chose to do with his life what his heart truly desired. I think that anyone present in his company would agree that we saw someone who enjoyed waking up in the morning because he chose to pursue his dreams. In him, we can find an example worthy of following.

Saudi Arabia’s baby boomers are redefining the kingdom’s relationship with the modern world

April 8, 2006

Scented smoke from dozens of water pipes mingled with Lebanese pop music at Al-Nakheel, a seaside restaurant in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. Saudi men in white robes and women in black abayas, their head scarves falling to their shoulders, leaned back on red cushions as they sipped tea and shared lamb kebab and hummus. Four young Saudi women, head scarves removed, trailed perfume as they walked past. Nearby, a teenage boy snapped photos of his friends with a cellphone. At an adjoining table, two young men with slicked-back hair swayed their heads to a hip-hop song echoing from the parking lot. [read the entire article]

Another take on madrassa life

April 4, 2006

Pakistan’s decision to expel foreign students, as India’s policy of limiting student visas to foreign madrassas students, will destroy a natural international network system that took decades if not centuries to build. Pakistan’s decision to expel more than a thousand foreign students from its madrassas should not surprise or bewilder anyone of us. [read the entire article]

The problem isn’t with Islam, but with wackos

March 30, 2006

I wish every Christian in America could have heard what I heard the other night. Two of the nation's most learned and respected religious scholars came to Memphis to talk about Islam and civic responsibility, two topics that don't always seem to go together. Honestly, don't you sometimes wonder — even the most open-minded and big-hearted among you — if there's some inherent flaw in Islam?

Honestly, don't you sometimes wonder — even the most open-minded and big-hearted among you — if there's some inherent flaw in Islam?
Something in the Koran that turns devoted believers into homicidal maniacs? Something about "Allah" that turns faithful followers of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, into terrorists and suicide bombers and angry mobs?

"There are a lot of crazy Muslims out there," one of the scholars acknowledged the other night.

"Wacky" was the word the other scholar used.

Such comments might have seemed inflammatory, except that they came from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, both American-born converts to Islam, now two of the West's most influential Islamic scholars.

Before 9/11, both men were outspoken critics of American policy. Since then, both men have become two of the strongest and sanest Islamic voices for peace and civilized discourse.

Yusuf, 45, who grew up as Mark Hanson, a Greek Orthodox kid in suburban California, has become an adviser to President Bush.

"We Muslims have lost theologically sound understanding of our own teaching," Yusuf told The Guardian during the recent cartoon controversy.

"Islam has been hijacked by a discourse of anger and the rhetoric of rage. We have lost our bearings because we have lost our theology."

Shakir, 49, who grew up Baptist in inner-city Atlanta, served four years in the Air Force before his conversion.

"If we Muslims are going to contribute to changing how Islam and our Prophet are viewed in the West, we are going to have to change what we ourselves are doing to contribute to the caricaturing of Islam," Shakir wrote last month in a widely distributed essay.

"That change can only be affected by sound knowledge coupled with exalted practice, and reviving the lofty ethical ideal of our beloved Prophet."

Both men spoke extensively about the ethics of Islam the other night at the program sponsored by Muslims in Memphis.

They said the Prophet Muhammad would abhor the violence that is committed in the name of Allah. They called on true believers to defend the faith with love, compassion and humility, not anger, hatred and violence.

"The disgraceful behavior of many Muslims is a failure of adherence to the faith, a failure to live up to the true ideals of Islam," Yusuf said.

They referred often to the sayings of Muhammad, which include: Love for humanity what you love for yourself.

That's how most Muslims here and around the world practice their faith. There are more than a billion Muslims in the world. Nearly all of them are good, decent, kind, sane, faithful and law-abiding folks.

Yes, there are some crazy, wacky Muslims out there. The world has known more than a few crazy, wacky Christians, too. So-called Christians who sicced dogs on black children or lynched black men, who burned crosses or fellow Christians at the stake, who massacred Jews or annihilated native civilizations.

The inherent flaw in Islam is the same inherent flaw in all religions.

Divine instructions must be interpreted and applied by mortal beings.

(David Waters: Commercial Appeal) 

German Muslims ignoring government help?

March 20, 2006

In Germany billions of Euros have been poured into work and education programs for immigrants — without much success. The daughters of the 4 million Turks are often prevented from taking advantage of the free higher education that the German state still lavishes on its citizens. Even if the parents grew up in Germany, they still speak Turkish at home. Their children often have difficulties in school as many do not know sufficient German to follow the lessons. More than one-third leave school without even the lowest certificate. With a 10 per cent unemployment rate in Germany you do not need a lot of imagination to foresee the dangers. Even in sheltered and peaceful Austria 53 per cent in a recent survey declared that they expected a clash between the Christian world and Islam. [read the entire article]

Relevancy of fiqh

March 19, 2006

Fiqh is not merely a question of picking up rulings recorded in old texts and throwing them down on new realities. Rather, the application of fiqh, especially on more sophisticated matters, requires a sophisticated understanding of the texts of the fuqaha, as well as the primary sources, the general foundational principles and goals of the Shariah, and, very importantly, the time, place, and people the fiqh will affect. This is why fuqaha such as Imam al-Haskafi stated that, “Whoever does not understand the people of his times is ignorant.” (Durr al-Mukhtar, 1: 47)

-Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Germans tolerant of Islam, ask for reciprocation

March 17, 2006

A new survey probing German attitudes towards Islam has thrown up surprising results — many Germans are tolerant towards the religion, but wish Muslims living in the country would reciprocate the feeling. A survey commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Germany to study how people here perceive Islam is set to shake the foundations of the widespread view that western societies are uncomfortable with the religion. Called “What do the Germans Think about Islam?” the study, which involved 1,000 western Germans and just as many eastern Germans, found that almost two-thirds of those questioned believed Muslims living in Germany should be allowed to practice their religion without any restrictions. [read the entire article]