Tag Archives: Egypt

95 dead in Egypt on ‘day of rage’, Muslim Brotherhood calls for daily protests

17 Aug

CAIRO: Violent clashes broke out across Egypt when supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi staged a “day of rage” to protest against the killings of more than 638 by security forces on Wednesday. At least 95 people have reportedly been killed by armed men. TheMuslim Brotherhood has called on its supporters to stage daily protests.

Tens of thousands of people marched towards Ramses Square in downtown Cairo after the iconic Tahrir Square was cordoned off by the army. The pro-Morsi camp is defying the military-imposed state of emergency.

In Cairo, clashes broke out on the May 15 Bridge and the sound of gunfire could be heard coming from an area near the front of a large column of pro-Morsi supporters.

A man in civilian clothes with a gun was seen occasionally firing at pro-Morsi supporters as he walked with protesters on the bridge. Later, crowds of people appeared to be trapped on the bridge by occasional bursts of gunfire on one side and tear gas on the other. There were reports of people jumping from the nearby October 6 Bridge to the ground below to escape live bullets. The corniche that leads to Ramses Square saw a lot of violence.

Heavy machine-gun fire could also be heard ringing out periodically in other parts of central Cairo. An eyewitness said, “Armed men were shooting from helicopters and I lost my friend to the live firing. There were people also shooting the protestors from roof tops.”

When a military helicopter flew low over Ramses Square, protesters held up stones shouting, “We will bring Sisi to the ground” and “traitor”.

As the security forces began firing tear gas, protesters which including young and old, men and women, donned surgical masks, gas masks and wrapped bandannas around their faces. Some rubbed Pepsi on their faces to counter the gas.

“Allahu akbar!” the crowd chanted.

Egypt’s military has stepped up security around Cairo after at least 638 people were killed and nearly 4,000 injured on Wednesday when security forces cleared sit-in protests by supporters of deposed Islamist president Morsi.

Armoured personnel carriers and tanks could be seen at several places in central Cairo and the military announced it would deploy troops to guard “vital installations”.

The army deployed dozens of armoured vehicles and tanks on major roads around the capital after Morsi’s Brotherhood movement called for demonstrations. The interior ministry said police would use live ammunition against anyone threatening public buildings. The endowment ministry calls on powers to avoid using mosques in the struggle.

“In light of the Muslim Brotherhood’s targeting of some police and state institutions in several cities, the law permits policemen to use measures to secure the national and stop attacks on citizens and public and private property,” the ministry said on its Facebook page on Thursday.

The Muslim Brotherhood called for a nationwide march of millions on Friday to demonstrate anger over the deaths by security forces. The only mortuary in Cairo is struggling to record the number of deaths and bodies are lying outside on the streets waiting to be recorded.

A statement on the Muslim Brotherhood’s website said, “We call on the great Egyptian people to gather in all revolutionary squares on the Friday of rage.”

“The struggle to overthrow this illegitimate regime is an obligation, an Islamic, national, moral, and human obligation which we will not steer away from until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered,” it said.

It further said, “Our revolution is peaceful, and … violence is not our approach.”

Violence spread on Thursday, with government buildings set ablaze, policemen gunned down and scores of churches attacked. An angry crowd stormed the governor’s office in Giza, the city next to Cairo that is home to the pyramids. State TV blamed Morsi’s supporters for the arson and broadcast footage showing firefighters evacuating employees from the larger building of Giza’s government offices.

Emergency services also said eight protesters were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean town of Damietta, and four people died in the northeastern city of Ismailia. Violence was also reported in Egypt’s second largest city Alexandria and ten people have been reportedly killed there. The security forces also clashed with pro-Morsi supporters in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

A Pakistani and Syrian national have been arrested in Azbakya police station in Cairo reported Egyptian state television. egypt

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Egypt:Salafi/Wahabis attacking Sufi Mosques

14 Apr

Egyptian extremism sees Salafis attacking Sufi mosques

Sufi leaders have called for government protection and are forming local committees to protect sacred sites under attack

Irfan al-Alawi 
guardian.co.uk,

Friday 15th  April 2011 14.59 BST 

A resident looks at damage to the Sidi Abdel Rahman shrine at a mosque in al-Qalyubiya, north of Cairo. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/REUTERS

In the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution, many moderate Muslims have expressed anxiety over the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country’s political and social life, while human rights monitors have warned against discrimination and attacks on the Coptic Christian minority.

But something else long feared has happened there as well. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by Salafis. The newspaper notes that Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people.

Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi, al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas. Born in the then-Muslim city of Murcia in southeastern Spain, al-Mursi emigrated to Alexandria. He was a disciple of and successor to the Sufi sheikh Abu’l Hassan al-Shadhili, founder of the powerful Shadhili Sufi order, which remains influential throughout north Africa, south Asia, the Muslim communities of the Indian Ocean, and Indonesia.

Salafis have alleged that Sufis are agents of the west as well as heretics. The extremists want to take control of Sufi mosques, after they destroy shrines within their precincts. One object of their manoeuvres is the Qaed Ibrahim mosque in Alexandria, which was the site of mass protests, involving thousands of people, co-ordinated with those in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, during the movement against ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

The Alexandrian Sufi leader sheikh Gaber Kasem al-Kholy has said: “Coptic Christians are a main target for those extremists, but we need to speak out about the suffering of the Sufi people. We have a considerable number of followers, and we are willing and able to protect Egypt’s legacy.”

The devastation of Sufi shrines in Alexandria has already led to counter demonstrations in the city. Al-Kholy has announced that local committees would be formed to protect Sufi sites, and has distributed forms soliciting youth to serve as volunteers. He said the Sufis have submitted a memorandum to the Egyptian military enumerating 20 Sufi institutions that had been attacked.

On April 5, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sufi sheikh Mohamed Alaa Abul Azayem, of the Azeemia Sufi order, announced that it would found an “Egyptian Liberation party” to combat both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi fundamentalists if either took power and threatened the Sufis. The political project has also involved members of the National Association for Change, the reformist Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, and the Islamic Popular Leadership Organisation.

In addition, Sufi residents of the Egyptian governorates of al-Minufyia and Aswan have entered complaints with the government’s Ministry of Islamic Endowments and public prosecutors, demanding state protection for Sufi structures, against radical encroachment. Radicals in Al-Minufiya had previously assaulted Coptic citizens. Violation of Sufi rights has also been reported in the al-Buharya governorate.

In the governorate of al-Qalyubiya, two Salafis were arrested at the end of March after a group of their followers razed five local shrines. Fighting broke out with townspeople who gathered to protect the tombs.

Egyptian Sufis have described themselves as “soldiers of God” responsible for the defence of shrines and tombs. A protest against radical violence was called last week by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, at the Hussein mosque in Cairo, and was joined by a leader of the Shia Muslim minority, Muhammad al-Derini.

Egyptians mourn Germany’s ‘hijab martyr’

7 Jul

CAIRO — Dalia Shams was counting the days to welcome home her pregnant daughter, her husband and their four-year-old son.

But she only got a closed casket with the body of her daughter Marwa al-Sherbini, who was stabbed to death by a German racist in a courtroom last week.

“My daughter was pregnant in her third month,” the heartbroken mother told Egypt’s Al-Masri Al-Youm daily on Sunday, July 5.

“I never imagined she would be a victim of terrorism and we would see her pictures in the media.”

Sherbini, 32, was stabbed to death by a 28-year German of Russian origin, in a courtroom in the eastern city of Dresden on Wednesday.

He stabbed her 18 times while her husband, who was preparing to discuss his Masters next month, was injured when he tried to intervene to protect her.

He is still in hospital, recovering from stab wounds and an accidental police gunshot.

Sherbini’s body has been taken back to her native Egypt for burial on Sunday. Senior Egyptian officials and German diplomatic staff attended the funeral on Monday in Alexandria along with hundreds of mourners.

“I never imagined that I will lose my daughter like this,” said her mother, with tears rolling down her checks.

“Instead of taking her into my arms and kissing her, I’m now receiving her in a casket.”

Hijab martyr
Many believe Sherbini was killed because of her hijab, an obligatory code of dress that every Muslim woman must wear.

“My sister was a martyr of hijab,” Tareq al-Sherbini told Al-Doustour, an Egyptain opposition daily.

He said his sister was harassed several times by the killer, who tried to remove her hijab by force.

The brother repeated accusations by Sherbini’s husband for the German police of leniency in protecting her.

The Egyptian woman was reportedly warned before the trial that she should take off her hijab to avoid being targeted.

“A day before the murder, a friend told Sherbini that she should remove her hijab as it poses danger to her life,” said Hisham Al-Askari, a Physics professor at Alexandria University and a friend of the family.

“She was told that she could lose her life because of her religiosity.”

Hijab has been the subject of heated political debate in Germany, home to 3.5 million Muslims.

Several German states have banned hijab for school teachers.

Dresden prosecutor Christian Avenarius said the killer, who immigrated to Germany in 2003, harbored a deep hatred of and contempt for Muslims.

“It was very clearly a xenophobic attack of a fanatical lone wolf.”

Egypt

Sheikh Habib Ali Zain al-Abideen al-Jifri;Our message is for people of underst anding who live amongst the angry masses.”

29 May

Habib Ali Zain al-Abideen al-Jifri:
“It is difficult for people who are angry to listen to a message. Our message is for people of underst anding who live amongst the angry masses.”


Interviewd by Saeed Al-Batati albatati88@yahoo.com

Al-Jifri stated that everyone holds some responsibility for distorting the luminous message of Islam.

Habib Ali Zain al-Abideen al-Jifri was born into a family of noble lineage extending in an unbroken chain to Imam Hussien, the Grandson of the Prophet (PBUH). Habib Ali is from the majestic city of Tarim in Southern Yemen. Nestled in the ancient valley of Hadramout, Tarim has been a center of learning and spirituality for centuries.Habib Ali received a classical Islamic education from illustrious scholars of Hadramout, embodying a methodology which crystallizes the middle way of Islam, Islamic jurisprudence, a respect for the difference between jurists and a spiritual education drawn from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Habib Ali is the founder of the ‘Tabah Foundation for Islamic Studies and Research ‘based in the United Arab of Emirates. He is also lecturer at Dar Al Mustafa, Tarim, an educational institute established for the study of traditional Islamic sciences.

He is continually invited to lecture in many countries across the globe and appears regularly on a variety of network television and radio programmes.

Saeed Al-Batati from the Yemen Times visited Habit Ali’s house in Tarim and conducted the following interview.

YT: Why has there been an increased interest in the Moderate Religious Discourse?

At its origin our Religious Discourse is moderate but the Muslim Community has experienced circumstances at different periods of its history, these circumstances have caused the more extreme voices to rise to prominence over the voices calling for moderation. The inclination within certain individuals to take on extreme position is present in every nation, society, and way of life because one of the peculiarities of human society is the existence of moderate and extreme individuals and this is dependent upon circumstances and the psychological make up of a person be it a balanced or imbalanced personality.

However in the presence stability in the Muslim Community individuals holding extreme views find no room to extend their opinions to those around them, they find themselves severely limited and unable to have an impact on the reality of the Muslim community, unless the Muslim community goes through a period of weakness.

During periods of weakness, and instability those holding extreme position take advantage of the situation and use it as an opportunity to spread their opinions. If one was to take a look back through Muslim History one would find that groups such as the Qaramitah, and the Khawarij had no real impact except during periods of weakness.

It is the Custom of Allah that extremes do not continue for long, because extremism by its very nature does not contain the qualities that insure permanence and continuity.

These opinions spread when there is a void, but are then unable to continue. The voices calling to moderation have a background which is dual faceted: firstly that which relates to what is called the war on terror and what it entails. But there is a second reason one which is deeper and has a more profound relation to the human soul and it is the fact that extremism by its very nature is repugnant to people with a healthy psychological make up, and because moderation is the Foundation of the Islamic Discourse. The voices of moderation were unheard because some of the Powers which are now calling for a War on Terror were the very same Powers which once supported the extremists during the Cold War. Were it not for this support the voice of extremism would not have being prominent for all that time. But once the Powers that backed the extremists turned on them, the voices of moderation began to be heard, they were never absent it is just that now the loudspeaker was brought closer to them.

YT: Who is responsible for distorting the luminous message of Islam? And what is the way to bring it back?

Everyone holds some responsibility for this. The magnitude of the burden each one carries depends on his position in society, so the ruler has a responsibility, government advisors have a responsibility (as indicated in the Prophetic saying: “You are all shepherds, and each shepherd is responsible for his flock.”). Therefore the responsibility is shared, but the weight of the responsibility differs. The responsibility of the Scholar for example is to raise people’s awareness, the responsibility of the ruler is to provide a platform for the moderates to educate the people, and it is also the rulers’ responsibility to take the extremist by the hand and admonish them so that they leave their position. The responsibility of the cultured elite is to insure that the moderate position is prominent in the public domain, instead of just sufficing themselves with polemics against those holding extreme views.

YT: What is the impact of the events of September 11th upon your work in disseminating knowledge on Islam? And where were you on that day?

I was in the state of Virginia on my way to New York, and we went past the Pentagon about 45 minutes before the building was hit, at the time I was on my way to deliver a lecture at one of the Islamic Centres in New York . We then received a call telling us what had happened so we turned back to the place we were staying and saw for ourselves the negative impact of this event upon the lives of Muslims living in America. We then saw the negative impact of this event in the East, with what followed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is no doubt that these actions by the extremists gave those on the extreme fringes of Western politics a golden opportunity to use these events against the Muslims.

YT: You said in a TV interview broadcast on Iqra’ and on your weekly TV program (Al-Mizan) that you were better able to carry out the work of disseminating knowledge on Islam in non-Muslim then in some Arab Muslim countries. What are the pressures that you experience in some Muslim Countries?

It is the truth. Whoever wants to serve Islam should expect to experience suffering wherever he is. But what I intended by this statement is that in some Muslim countries extremely atheistic ideologies, and narrow security concerns dictate the decision making process and dealings with Islam are still based on superficiality and an absence of understanding that Islam is a comprehensive way of life.

The upshot is that there is no way to insure national security except through the presence of a Moderate Religious Discourse, but some of the regimes in the Muslims world are unaware of this fact. This absence has overshadowed the religious discourse, to the point that some scholars cannot even hold a lesson on grammar with four or five students without exposing themselves to being questioned and investigated. The woman who wears Hijab cannot walk in the street in some Muslims countries without compromising her security or being harmed, whereas a Muslim woman would not have any such problem in many Western countries.

YT: The centres of learning in Hadramout had a huge role in spreading Islam to the four corners of the earth. But in the last few years some people have been demeaning the huge role Hadramout played. What is your response to this?

As I am a product of this centre of learning I do not want to praise it too much, but as they say the facts and the numbers speak for themselves. A third of all Muslims on the face of the earth are so as a result of the missionary activities of this school and as a direct result of the way Islam was taught in this centre of learning. It was taught in a way that was and still is peaceful, morally rectifying, sublime and moderate. You begin to realise the greatness of this school when you realise that many areas of the world map were changed from non-Muslim into Muslim lands at the hands of men who were the product of this school.

You also realise the greatness of this school when you come to realise that this school has been around for more then a thousand years – something truly rare in this time. When one looks back at the crimes committed during the last political era (by the Communists of Yemen) against the men who belonged to this school and see that this school still has plenty to give, you will realise the greatness of it.

The elements that have contributed to the success of this school are sincerity, the unbroken chain of transmission, moderation & balance, in addition to benevolence in dealing with people coupled with addressing them with clear proofs. Those who repeat these demeaning remarks about the school of Hadramout are not the first people to stand against it and if they understood anything they would look back at those who preceded them in doing this historically, and how they only had a superficial success in their endeavour before they disappeared while the school remained. Those who had good dealings with this school, whether as individuals or groups, disappeared yet their good memory remained.

YT: Among the things held against the callers to Islam is that they permit themselves to call to Islam in the West yet they would not permit a Christian Missionary to call people to his faith in the Muslim lands, and the fact that Mosques are built in the West yet th

Habib Ali Zain al-Abideen al-Jifri with Yemen Times’ repoter.

e building of churches is not allowed in some Muslim countries, is this not a form of hypocrisy?

The answer to this question is multi-faceted:-

Firstly: the West cannot really be considered Christian so the comparison does not really exist… you build a Mosque we build a church. Western governments are largely secular in outlook, and secularism accepts the mutual coexistence of different faith communities, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, so the comparison is flawed from the outset. I do not think there is a need to bring up the historical facts surrounding how the Church dealt with Islam and other faiths in Europe .

Secondly: The building of Churches in Muslim lands which have an indigenous Christian population is permitted, and if you were to visit Egypt or Syria you would find Churches which are attended by worshippers and which are very apparent. All this talk of how the Christians or other faith communities were persecuted in Muslim Lands is not without exaggeration.

Thirdly: the problem with the work of the Christian Missionaries is that it is not based on proofs and convincing arguments. If that were the case we would not have stopped them but rather have allowed them to come, and had open dialogue based on factual proofs and persuasion so that it would become manifest which side holds the truth. Missionary work is usually based on taking advantage of a situation such as poverty, the need for medical help, educational needs and suchlike.

These are the means used to facilitate the process of conversion to Christianity. This is something totally rejected by us as it is based on taking advantage of someone’s misfortune as a pose to convincing a person. Whoever has a convincing argument is welcome to come and try to persuade people. The history of Islam is full of examples of open dialogue between the Muslims & Christians, Muslims & Jews and even Muslims & Atheists. The Christians and Jews lived an honourable existence in the Muslims states.

There is no problem in this regard between us and those who differ with us in matters of faith. What we reject is someone taking advantage of the weakness we are going through. There is something quite disgusting in taking advantage of the dire straits of another human being to bring him round to your way of life or thought.

YT: What is your evaluation of the freedom to call to Allah in the Western World?

There is no doubt that there is a freedom to call to Allah in the West, despite the existence of a minority belonging to the political extremes in the West who stand against anything Islamic and look for faults in every caller to Islam in an attempt to place him on the Terror List. It would also be a mistake to say that there is absolute freedom of opinion anywhere; be it America, Europe or any other place. But there is a greater proportion of freedom in those countries, and this allows the Muslims to make their faith better understood by the people they live with. The problem is whether or not the Muslims know how to deal with this. The misuse of these liberties by certain Muslims has given rise to a negative image of Islam; this is what must be dealt with.

YT: Is it true that you were barred from entering into or were asked to leave certain Arab countries?

It is true that I was asked to leave certain Arab countries. They are countries which I love and hold in high regard.

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Quran Shooting!!! New Fitnah by America

23 May

Koran Shooting!!!

Written by Mustafa Khan  May 21, 2008 · 193 views

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UselessDon\'t Agree MuchAgreeExcellentEnlightening (22 votes, average: 4 out of 5)

May 21, 2008

In a highly charged situation shooting the Koran is tantamount to shooting the albatross, the bird of good omen. The war in Iraq is purportedly fought also for winning the hearts and minds of the people. When the wind of anti insurgency seems just to have started blowing shooting the holy book could wreck the very ship in which the Americans and the Iraqi government are sailing.. This is not a theological perception of any presentiment but rather a gauge of geopolitical realization of the facts on ground.

An enlisted soldier of the US army used the holy book to practice shooting target. This incident has come full several years after the flushing of the same holy book in the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. Both are contemptible outrageous deeds. Instead of winning hearts and minds such odious acts would create cataclysmic reaction. It is like carrying gunpowder for the al Qaeda cannon aimed at the so called crusaders besieging the Muslims.

In the fist place it is a symbolic action. A thin wire far away or gravel would have done the job better. But choosing the thick book with hundreds of pages the American soldier wants to signify certain things that are fixated in his mind. It is objectification of his hate. He can shoot even without bothering the crossed hair in the view. In the words of Najam Sethi such deliberate wilful act of vandalism is seen ‘as evidence of how America and the West make the war against terrorism synonymous with the war against Islam.’ [Somini Gupta and Salman Masood, “Guantanamo Comes to Define US to Muslims” New York Times, May 21, 2005]

It also lends credence to the fact that there is design behind all the incidents of desecration. It was no other than a two-star general in charge of the hunt of Osama bin Laden, William G ‘Jerry” Boykin who told in 2003 a gathering of Christians that America was cast as a Christian nation locked in a battle with Satan. The general made such a statement wearing full military uniform. He also described his god as greater than the god of the Muslims. It is for nothing that some 4000 Christian missionaries landed in Baghdad after the invasion began in 2003.

On May 9, 2008 American soldiers were practicing target shooting in the police station of Radhwaniya on the western outskirts of Baghdad. They had clearly marked the centre of a copy of the Quran for this purpose. Afterward the bullet ridden copy was retrieved by an Iraqi policeman, Abdullah. There were fourteen bullet marks and the pages of the holy book were scrawled with graffiti. Since then the Americans have pulled the particular sniper soldier out of the country and flown him to US.

In the past US officials were dismissive in their attitude and did not tender any apology. Their attitude is summed up what the soldier in charge said when US planes had bombed a marriage party. A senior officer had remarked: “Hey, bad people can have parties too.” In the case of the shooting the Koran the New York Times reporter described the reaction of the people as irrational popular anger [May 20].

The blogger site Abu Muqawama devoted to fighting insurgency merely called the soldier stupid and the American response to apologize: quick.

A meeting of tribal leaders was called on May 17 where a grim looking officer, General Jeffrey Hammond said: “I come before you here seeking your forgiveness, In the most humble manner, I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.”

President Bush who was lecturing the Arabs on democracy and asking for more oil around the same time spoke to the Iraqi Prime Minister Noori al Maliki and expressed his concern. There was no extraordinary effort on his part as was in evidence during his visit to Israel. He ignored to dilate on the kind of attitude his soldiers had for Islam and the Muslims. He had won the hearts and minds of the people of Israel when on that foreign soil of the ally he had castigated Barack Obama for daring to speak with radicals and terrorists. The Americans know whose hearts and minds they really want to win.

Many others in America justified saying that shooting the holy book is of the same class as beheading Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg. For them Jehovah was guidance: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. They did not bother that such attitude puts the soldiers in the rank of the terrorists. Of this Matthew Arnold had said of armies clashing in the dark of the night when the sea of faith was ebbing. But now it is full.

So full that every event has a biblical justification. Some took strong exception to American soldiers kissing the Quran by way of tendering apology. They also felt angry at army officers’ submission to the tribal leaders and their demand. Submission as a metaphorical substitute of Islam is a bete noire to many.

However, when all is said and done, what really matters is that US is a secular country and yet such regrettable incidents happen, that too in the army. Another is the absence of chain of command in the episode. The higher officers on duty enjoy the cloak of anonymity. No one seems to question what they were doing when the incident transpired. Call it what you will, debasement or demoralization. Occupation of a foreign land has queer ways of recoiling on the occupiers.

President Bush had attacked talking to radicals or ‘terrorists’ as appeasement. What else were the army officers in Baghdad doing when they met the tribal leaders? True, real politick is necessary, but the Americans and their allies in the Noori government have much longer to stay together, if at all staying the course is feasible. It is for this that many people recall how Britain had to deal with the IRA for a hundred years. In a world where IRA, yes, but Hamas and Iranisns, no, the Reformation is still needed in the West.

Embodiment of syncretic traditions; Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A)

20 May

By Mohammed Iqbal /EOM, “Embodiment of syncretic traditions” – The Hindu – Chennai, India
May , 2008

Founded after the arrival in India of one of the most outstanding Sufi saints, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the Ajmer dargah continues to be at the centre of a way of life born of the human heart

The aesthetic and stunning white dome that crowns the main tomb of the historic dargah of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer stands out as an illustrious embodiment of Islamic mysticism of the Chishtiya order founded in India after the arrival of one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Sufism from West Asia.

The dargah at Ajmer Sharif today attracts lakhs of people – Muslims, Hindus, Christians and others – from the Indian sub-continent and from other parts of the world, depicting a rare blend of religions.

People assemble at the shrine during the week-long Urs every year to beseech for fulfilment of their prayers.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (protector of the poor), was born in 1141 A.D. at Sanjar in the Sistan province of Iran. He was a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. His parents died when he was only 15 years old and he used to look after the orchard and windmill that he inherited from his father.

During his childhood, young Moinuddin was different from others and kept himself busy in prayers and meditation. He was sober, silent and serene.

Legend has it that once when he was watering his plants, a revered monk, Sheikh Ibrahim Qandozi, came to his orchard. Young Moinuddin approached him with all humility and offered him some fruits. In return, the monk gave him a piece of bread and asked him to eat it.

The Khwaja got enlightened and found himself in a strange world after eating the bread. This was a turning point in his life. He disposed of his property and other belongings and distributed the money thus received among the poor and the needy. He renounced the world and left for Bukhara in search of knowledge and higher education.

In those days, Samarkand and Bukhara were great seats of Islamic learning. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti visited the seminaries of the two cities and acquired religious learning at the feet of eminent scholars of his age.

He visited nearly all the great centres of Muslim culture and acquainted himself with almost every important trend in the Muslim religious life.

He became the disciple of the famous Dervish, Khwaja Usman Harooni, and remained under his guidance for nearly 20 years. They travelled in West Asia extensively together and also went to Mecca and Medina.

Khwaja Gharib Nawaz turned towards India reputedly after a dream in Medina in which he received the directions to go to Hindustan. After a brief stay in Lahore, he reached Ajmer along with his 40 followers and camped near Ana Sagar lake.

The place from where the Khwaja’s extensive missionary work was taken up is now known as Chillah of Khwaja Saheb. The residents of the city admired the wisdom, purity and grace of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and people from various walks of life cherished to be his disciples.

The vast number of his followers, both Hindus and Muslims, emulated him and symbolised his dictum of “Sulh-i-Kul” (peace with all).

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s firm faith in “Wahdat-al-Wujud” (unity of being) provided the necessary ideological support to his mystic mission to bring about the emotional integration of the people among whom he lived. His teaching lay stress on renunciation of material goods and tolerance and respect for religious differences.

He interpreted religion in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples to develop a “river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality”.

The highest form of devotion, according to him, was to redress the misery of those in distress and fulfil the needs of the helpless and feed the hungry.

Sufism in Islam is akin to Vedanta in Hinduism. It believes in non-dual Absolute and looks upon the world as the reflection of God, who is conceived as Light. Sufism is claimed to be a way of life born of the human heart against the cold formalism and ritualism.

Ajmer Sharif emerged as one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in India during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605). Akbar undertook a journey on foot to accomplish his humble wish to reach the place and presented a big cauldron for cooking food after his conquest of Chittorgarh.

A small cauldron was later presented by Emperor Jehangir in 1646.

Some of the books authored by Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti are Anis-al-Arwah and Daleel-al-Arefeen, dealing with the Islamic code of living. His most famous disciples were Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Hamiduddin Nagori.

The week-long Urs, observed every year in the dargah, commemorates the event in 1236 when Khwaja Gharib Nawaz entered his cell to pray in seclusion for six days, at the end of which he died.

When his devotees opened the door, the Khwaja was found dead, and on his forehead were written these words: “He was a beloved of God and he died in the love of God.”

He was buried, according to the traditions of the prophets, in the same tenement which he occupied in his life and in which he breathed his last. During the Urs, attended by people from far and wide, devotional music and recitings from the Khwaja’s own works and other Sufi saints are presented in the traditional Qawwali style and in chorus.

The Urs – observed between the first and sixth days of the Hijri month of Rajab – is also the much sought-after occasion when “Jannati Darwaza” (door to heaven) is opened for the devotees. People from all religions offer chadar at the grave of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

(…)

Pilgrims visiting the shrine in large numbers every year can look forward to finding themselves in spruced up surroundings with an ambience promoting spiritual contentment and fulfilling the mystical yearning to find the true purpose of life.

Evidently, the message of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz does not admit of time. It is as true today, as it was when delivered centuries ago.

Mother’s Day ; Islamic Perspective! Mother and Islam

11 May

 

The Islamic Perspective – Honouring the Mother

”In Islam Each Day is Mother’s Day So Muslims Respect their Mother’s More than any Community of the World ” Anonymous

Muslim women

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Worship Allaah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masaakeen (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allaah does not like such as are proud and boastful” [al-Nisa’ 4:36] And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him.

And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour” [al-Isra’ 17:23] It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, who among the people is most deserving of my good company?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Then your father.'” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5626; Muslim, 2548) Al- Haafiz ibn Hajar said: “Ibn Battaal said: what this means is that the mother should be honoured three times more than the father. He said, that is because of the difficulties of pregnancy, then giving birth, then breastfeeding.

These are hardships that are experienced only by the mother, then the father shares with her in raising the child. This is also referred to in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years’ [Luqmaan 31:14] So the recommendation to be dutiful and good refers to both parents, but the mother’s share is greater because of the three things mentioned above. Al-Qurtubi said: what is meant is that the mother deserves a greater share of her child’s honour, and her rights take precedence over those of the father in cases where a choice must be made. ‘Iyaad said: the majority of scholars were of the view that the mother takes precedence over the father in terms of honouring one’s parents.

And it was said that both must be honoured equally, and this was narrated by some from Maalik, but the former view is the one which is correct.” (Fath al-Baari, 10/402). Indeed, even if one’s mother is a mushrikah (polytheist), the wise and pure sharee’ah of Islam encourages one to uphold ties of kinship with her: It was narrated that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “My mother came to visit me at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and she was a mushrikah. I consulted the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), saying, ‘My mother has come to visit me for some purpose, should I uphold ties of kinship with my mother?’ He said, ‘Yes, uphold ties of kinship with your mother.'” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2477) It is extremely unfortunate that Muslims throughout the world have begun to adopt and practice western ideas and understanding when it comes to the quality of relationship between the mother and child.

For Muslims to begin to selfishly adopt a single day out of the whole year to express gratitude and show a materialistic form of affection. Islam has no need of things that are innovated by others, be it Mother’s Day of anything else. Its teachings on the honouring of mothers mean that it has no need for an innovated Mother’s Day. Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas issued a statement: It is not permissible to celebrate the so-called Mother’s Day and similar innovated festivals because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.” He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not celebrate Mother’s Day and neither did any of his companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) or the salaf (earliest generations) of this ummah. Rather it is an innovation (bid’ah) and imitation of the non Muslims.

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [al-Maa’idah 5:2] Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 3/86 In light of this, Muslims should be aware that honouring and showing sincere affection and gratitude to the mother is a full time duty that should be practiced each and everyday of ones life, to merely set aside a single day and feel you have fulfilled their rights is a gross misconduct to the parents and the teachings of the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). “And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination” [Luqmaan 31:14] And Allaah knows best.

 

Paradise Is At the Feet of Mothers

From Joshua Brockwell, CAIR

Loving their Baby

A man once consulted the Prophet Muhammad about taking part in a military campaign. The Prophet asked the man if his mother was still living. When told that she was alive, the Prophet said: “(Then) stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet.” (Al-Tirmidhi) On another occasion, the Prophet said: “God has forbidden for you to be undutiful to your mothers.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

One of the things I have always appreciated about my adopted faith is not only its emphasis on maintaining the bonds of kinship, but also the high regard in which women, particularly mothers, are held. The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, states: “And revere the wombs that bore you, for God is ever watchful over you.” (4:1)

It should be obvious that our parents deserve our utmost respect and devotion – second only to God.

Speaking in the Quran, God ays: “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final Goal.” (31:14)

The fact that God has mentioned parents in the same verse as Himself shows the extent to which we should strive in our efforts to serve the mothers and fathers who sacrificed so much for us. Doing so will help us to become better people.

In that same verse, God says: “We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him.”

In other words, the debt we owe to our mothers is magnified due to the difficult nature of pregnancy – not to mention the nurturing and attention paid to us in infancy.

Another narration, or “Hadith,” from the life of the Prophet Muhammad again shows us just how much we owe to our mothers.

A man once asked the Prophet to whom he should show the most kindness. The Prophet replied: “Your mother, next your mother, next your mother, and then your father.” (Sunan of Abu-Dawood) In other words, we must treat our mothers in a manner befitting their exalted position – and, again, revere the wombs that bore us.

The Arabic word for womb is “rahem.” Rahem is derived from the word for mercy. In Islamic tradition, one of God’s 99 names is “Al-Raheem,” or “the Most Merciful.”

There exists, therefore, a unique connection between God and the womb. Through the womb, we get a glimpse of the Almighty’s qualities and attributes. It nurtures, feeds and shelters us in the early stages of life. The womb can be viewed as one manifestation of divinity in the world.

One cannot help but make the parallel between a Loving God and a compassionate Mother. Interestingly, the Quran does not portray God as exclusively male or female. As a matter of fact, by revering our mothers, we are paying respect to God.

Each of us should appreciate what we have in our mothers. They are our teachers and our role models. Every day with them is an opportunity to grow as a person. Every day away from them is a missed opportunity.

I lost my own mother to breast cancer on April 19, 2003. Though the pain of losing her is still with me and her memory lives on in my siblings and me, I sometimes worry that I might forget what a blessing she was for me.

For me, Islam is the best reminder of my mother’s presence. With daily encouragement from the Quran and the living example of the Prophet Muhammad, I know I will always keep her memory close to my heart. She is my rahem, my connection to the divine. On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the occasion to reflect on that.

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