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Thursday, December 18, 2014

To kill the Swine..

From the book 'Revelation Rationality, Knowledge and Truth'

The real task assigned to the Promised Christ in this prophecy was to purify the human society from inhuman behaviour and some evil habits which the swine symbolizes. There are many animals and birds which steal the fruits of the farmer's labour for the sake of their survival but do not destroy the crops and trees just for the fun of it. The swine stands out among all the animals in this destructive tendency. The swine is also notorious for eating the corpses of its young ones. No other non-marine animals are known to devour their young ones when they die. A bloodthirsty lion, or even a ferocious wolf, will rather die of hunger, woefully sitting beside the dead bodies of their brood, than to even dream of eating their flesh. Dogs do not eat the corpses of their dead puppies either. Pigs and boars, it should be remembered, are vegetarians, yet by some devilish instinct they relish eating the corpses of their young ones. Evidently therefore, the message implied in this prophecy has to be to wage a Holy War against the perverted habit of humans to be inclined to genocide and to feel free to usurp the rights of the weak. The pig's habit of eating its own piglets could be likened to the child abuse of the modern age. Child abuse may be directed against one's own children or against the children of others, either way it is swinish in character. Recently it has become a subject of common talk in modern society, so needs no further elaboration. No other animal can match humans in this ugliness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peshawar Massacre: Who will avenge our children, and how?

In Peshawar, the Army Public School must have been a prestigious institution. A place in the school will ensure good education fit for middle-class children. Today the school was attacked by seven Taliban terrorists who probably never saw the inside of a proper school. They went around asking who were the children of Army personnel and shot them dead. This must have been tiresome and slow as many children were not from  military families. Then, they killed indiscriminately.

In anger and desperation, I followed the twitter feed and various websites for more details. With each update, the count increased, my heart sank lower and lower.

I  remembered today a retired Christian officer from Pakistan Army and two civilians who I met a long time ago. He was a proud cavalry man if I remember correctly, the two civilians were much more intriguing.

In the early-1990s, in my college days I had the opportunity to spend some days in a Pakistan Army guest house in Rawalpindi. It was adjacent to the 'Artillary Mess' which offered lounging and dining for the officers. Here I met Major Anthony. He must have been in his late 60s then. He told me the stories of his younger days, when he used to study at Gordon College, run by the Christian missionaries in Rawalpindi. He used to be a long distance runner in his college days. The college was famous for its sporting and academic excellence. He remembered fondly how the students finally persuaded an ageing professor to get married. They found him a match, another teacher from Lahore. They celebrated the marriage in style. The whole college went to Lahore and brought Mrs Professor back in the best wedding precession he Anthony ever took part in.
'Those were the good old days'. He used to say.

He never mentioned the nationalization of the college in the 70s and its inevitable decline. Anthony also remembered vividly his great luck, when as a young officer in the Army, he was appointed as the protocol officer to the visiting Queen Elizabeth during the Ayub Khan dictatorship.

'Those were the good old days', he would say.

Then his conversation would move to how he lives his retired life in peace and how his wife is still enamoured with the Royal family and collects all the memorabilia she can get her hands on.

I remember him well, because I never met anyone like him since. I met other Pakistani Christians, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds. And I felt ashamed to see their plight. Post-Islamization era Pakistan is no place for minorities. No respect, no life.

In the same Army mess, I once saw two young men. Confident, educated and civilians. One day, they dropped by for a cup of tea with a friend, and they found me in the sitting room watching TV. Greetings were exchanged. They wore shalwar qameez and waist-coats and had beards. I knew the type from my personal experience. Middle class, religious types. 'Jamaat-e-Islami' types. I sat with them while they chatted away with their friend. One of them mentioned the conspiracies being hatched against the Ummah by the Jews. It was a common excuse for all the misfortunes of Pakistan.

One of the bearded gentlemen mentioned the Protocol of the elders of Zion. 'They (Jews)  buy out all the copies of the book as soon as it is published'. I had heard of the book and must have read about its content by that age, but never took it too seriously. But this man was making his argument with such force that I still remember the whole meeting. Both of the visitors believed in a global conspiracy, Pakistan being its prime target. They left after tea. Their friend who remained behind mentioned that both his friends were in ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence agency.

There was a Pakistan where Major Anthony thrived, made a life and retired with honour and dignity. And then there was a Pakistan of conspiracy theorists, religious zealots who fantasized themselves to be playing a great game.

And these middle-class Jamaatia types had now a foothold in Pakistani deep state. ISI was swamped by such ideological zealots, both uniformed and civilians. Zia era Islamization had a profound impact on the composition of the ranks in Pakistan Army. Megalomaniacs like ISI's DG, Gen. Hameed Gull inherited the hubris of Afghan 'Jihad' victory and created a monster which no one could tame, even the ISI.

As a college and university student, I witnessed the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and its slow creep into Pakistan from the frontier region. Like a damp patch on a wall, it keeps growing, gathering mould. Taliban  were now accepted as genuine and rightful rulers of Afghanistan. ISI had its allies providing the much needed strategic depth against India, while they kept mutilating and maiming the minds of a whole generation of Afghans and Pakistanis.

The generals who resisted a coup during the successive, spineless democratic governments had kept a strong control on all the things that mattered to them. They nurtured a poisoned generation which fought a proxy war in Kashmir. I knew another middle-class Jamaatia-type in university who trained for Jihad over the summer holiday and was killed while crossing the line of control in Kashmir. I knew many more who didn't want to go, but were happy to glorify those 'brothers' who went and became martyrs.

There are Jamaatia types and then there are the Taliban types. Jamaatias are middle-class, educated, from the urban centers of Punjab and KPK. They are happy to facilitate the lesser classes to pick up the gun and fight for whichever Jihad is underway at the time, the Taliban types; from the tribal belt or rural Punjab. They are the side product of a village welfare system, where the Madrassah takes on the surplus child from a poor family. The child eats leftovers, gets abused and radicalized.

The same abused, radicalized children grew up, and in the name of a fantasy cause, murdered over a hundred middle-class children in cold blood in Peshawar yesterday.

Pakistan seems to have woken up after this massacre. Only a year ago, the same city saw over 120 Christian worshippers killed in a similar attack on All Saints Church. But no one cares for them. No revenge for the Christians. Almost 100 Ahmadis perished in Lahore in 2010, and it went unpunished even when one of the assailants was handed over to the police.

There will be revenge for the children, for right or wrong reason. This will bring an end to the Taliban fundamentalist at least in the tribal areas for now.

But who will punish the middle-class Jamaati types who have caused this mess in the first place?


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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Quran and the West - A history of prejudice.

When UKIP’s Lord Pearson says that Muslims should address the violence in the Quran, he is most definitely not pretending to be ignorant. He should know that there is a counter narrative available for those who wish to listen; that of a peaceful, non-political Islam in which Quran and the Sunnah (conduct of the Prophet of Islam) still hold a central, fundamental position.

Even Lord Pearson’s critics can’t help but defend his ‘intellectual’ message.

Andrew Brown says that in a ‘literal sense’ the Quran does contain an ‘unpleasant and violent political message’. I wonder what exactly he means by the phrase ‘in a literal sense’. What is literal? Is it ‘taking words in their usual or most basic sense without metaphor or exaggeration.’ as Google informs us?

Or in the case of the Quran it must mean contextomizing the text?. i.e., the literal reading of the Quran which teaches its readers a violent political message can only be done if each ‘problem’ verse is read in its usual and most basic sense… without any context: Both historic and textual.

Let us discuss a bit of historic context.

The first contact of the Muslims with the West was a hostile one. The Byzantine Empire shrank and eventually retreated under the onslaught of Muslim armies from the time of Umar, the second Caliph. Since then, misrepresenting Islam has become an age old western tradition.

We have a Greek-Syriac text from the time of Umar which informs its readers of a ‘false prophet of the Saracens’ whose armies have invaded Palestine.

That was an inevitable, unavoidable war. Empires did not suffer barbarian tribes for too long before sending armies to neutralize them. But these were no barbarians. They were a society of converts to a religion which taught morality and required its followers to proselytize it to the world. A clash was inevitable. And for the Byzantines, it resulted in a defeat.

By now you must be wondering why I am digressing from the issue of context to the problematic Quranic verses. If you want that discussion, pick up a copy of the Quran and a book on the Sira of the Prophet.

I want to discuss the historical context of these periodic statements put out by politicians and academics about revising the Quran, discarding some of it, denouncing it, even banning it. That is the real problem here.

So where were we? Yes, Islam’s encounters with the Byzantine empire...

Centuries later, by the time Islamic civilization was in decline, Orientalist missionaries started producing literature on Islam. They belonged to many denominations of the Christian faith, but had one thing in common. They could not bear to accept any virtues in the Holy Prophet or his message.

According to them the rise of Islam had nothing to do with the actual message of the Quran. Socio-economically speaking, Islam was a product of an Arab renaissance of sorts. With a culture in love with its language and tribes taking pride in their poets – A nation was aching to unite under a cause to challenge the Byzantine and Persian Empires who had dismissed them as illiterate nomads for too long.

Add to the mix a poet who aspired to be a prophet the same as those who came to the Israelites.

D C MacDonald writes about how Quran came into being;

‘Muhammad’s brain had for long been treasuring up such things (sic. segments of Old Testament); but treasuring them up with the most singular, most unparalleled inaccuracy; and then making them over with the utmost freedom of imagination.’

Take SW Koelle for example, another 19th century Orientalist who faithfully reproduces passage after passage from Ibn e Ishaq’s Sira while commenting on the person of the Prophet with the aim to negate any heroic quality that was apparent or implied in those writings.

In the 17th Century, George Sale translated the Quran into English and in his opening notes introduced it as ‘the Book what that false prophet very grosly invented’.

Title page of Sale's translation of the Quran

With such a rich history of academic prejudice, no wonder that the western scholarship never could look at the Quran in a neutral light. They hated and feared both the book and its bearers.

The same thought process has been inherited by the present day Orientalist-Historians. No longer burdened by Christian faith, they do not want to glorify Christ the Saviour and demean all the false prophets who came after him. But because Islam challenges the perceived notions of those who research it with an open mind, it does take a lot of effort to oppose it.

The first reaction is to reject the text as a forgery; something post-scripted to fit a changing geo-political landscape of Arabia. Any parallels with the older scriptures are considered plagiarisms and interpolations by unknown editors of the Quran. Any departures from the Bibilical narratives are just mistakes and evidence that the author of the Quran must have taken any apocryphal stories and adopted them for their new book.

Patricia Crone accepts that the Quran was indeed uttered by a person called Muhammad, but she is not convinced if Mecca ever existed. Similar doubts have been raised by Tom Holland in his recent work. Another attempt to discredit the Quran was made by Luxenberg,who thinks that it originated as a Syriac text outside of Arabia and transformed into classic Arabic over a period of time.

One of the new theories states that Islam was in fact a doomsday cult which just carried on growing. Early Muslims were awaiting the Armageddon imminently. Maybe this explains the fanaticism of the Muslim armies who conquered the world.

However, the message of the Quran, its conviction on absolute justice, equality of human kind, rights of women and social justice, has all been ignored due to prejudice. Muslims did not come out of Arabia with a nationalist cause; they came out because they had something to share with the world. And they made sure the world knew of this treasure - the Quran.

We cannot deny that there is a problem with the Muslim world today. It is a problem of literal reading: but not of the Quran itself. It is of the disparate Hadith texts which require even more context and validations than the Quran. The creed of Salafis and Wahabis, the two factions of Sunni Islam providing almost all the fighters in ISIS and Al-Qaeda, are Hadith-centric. i.e. They believe the Quran to be the word of God, but they dare not understand its words without a Hadith reference. This means that if a verse’s explanation is not accompanied by an alleged explanation by the prophet himself or his esteemed companions, or those who came immediately after them - it is not a valid interpretation.

In fact, in Orthodox Sunni Islam, the Quran has been the secondary source of doctrinal authority for many centuries.

This approach restricts the understanding of the Quran to a particular era of history which is only remembered for its violence. Nations were at war with each other, slavery was still a common practice and society was still being ruled by very tribal traditions. The ideas of citizenship, loyalty and national identities were very different then.
In fact it was the Quran which spurred on the Muslim civilizations around the world to take huge leaps in philosophy, science, arts and culture which benefited the whole of mankind.

How strange it must be to live in the 21st century; in the era of the Internet and smartphones and idealizing a medieval lifestyle at the same time.

So the next time someone blames Quran for the punishment of beheadings and hanging for apostasy, blasphemy and heresy, or stoning to death for adultery or homosexuality, please remember that Quran does not prescribe such punishments at all.

This debate on how to interpret Quran has been going on among theMuslims for many centuries, and it will continue for the time to come. But if history has taught us anything, it is that reform is an ongoing process which may take centuries.

The problem is not the Quran, it never has been. The problem has been those who twisted the meanings of the Quran to create suspicions, and those who ignored its message. And above all, those Muslims who were given this gift and they chose to replace it with the opinions of men.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Mahdi cometh!

The first ever person to be known as Mahdi was called Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph. After the tragic events of Karbala, there was no one the Muslim masses could see as their spiritual leader. Imam Hussain’s only surviving son was too young at that time. As is the case with all political intrigues, a gap needed to be filled by opportunists. Muhammad ibn Ali was proclaimed the rightful heir to the Prophet. He was called the Mahdi, the Promised Guided Leader as was foretold by the Holy Prophet himself.

This did not last for long. Muhammad ibn Ali vanished from Madina one day. A famous poet of his time wrote a eulogy, calling him to return and take his rightful place as the leader of Muslims. The story of a hidden Imam in a cave began from this Mahdi, the first one but not the most famous one.

Since then, the title of Mahdi has been used by many people in the hope to gain popular support. Revolutionaries used it to overthrow the incumbent Caliphs. Caliphs used it to cement their authority. Various religious sects used it to attract converts into their cults. But none of these so-called Mahdis ever fulfilled the propehcised purpose of his advent.

Then there was the boy-Mahdi who also vanished into a cave. Shia Muslims await for his triumphant reappearance even to this day.

The Boy Mahdi. Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdī

Shah Waliullah was a scholar and Sufi who witnessed the post-Aurangzeb decline of the Mughal empire.

He was known as the Muhaddath of Delhi. A great scholar of Quran and Hadith as well as a Saint. And in his case, he also claimed that God spoke to him.

He could not bear to see political and moral decline of his people. It is said that he received visions and revelations about the imminent arrival of the Mahdi. One of these revelations even said that if Waliullah was to affect a revolution, he may well be the Mahdi himself. But he was not very comfortable with this idea.

He knew that Mahdi is supposed to appear in Arabia, fulfilling many prophecies mentioned in Hadith. We don't know if it was the ernest desire of Shah Waliullah to find the rightful Mahdi or failing that, be that Mahdi himself: He left Delhi for Hejaz. He would remain in Makkah and Madina for almost a decade.

Shah Waliullah was certain of the coming of the Mahdi whose arrival would begin a new era of glory for Islam. His estimates placed the Mahdi during his time, as a famous Hadith had foretold that the signs for Mahdi would start appearing after one thousand years. But no Mahdi appeared in his life time. Shah Waliullah wrote that he received instructions in various visiions to go back to India and continue his religious leadership for the Indian Muslims. He died in 1762.

The beginning of 19th century saw a failed claimant of Mahdi in India. It was before the British had taken full control over the subcontinent. A man calling himself Ahmad and Rajah Nukluk sent a letter to the English governor or Surat to accept him as the Imam. The governor sent his army as the response, and he was killed along with a handful of his followers.

Syed Ahmad of Bareli, the famous freedom fighter and a follower of Shah Waliullah was also hailed as the Mahdi by some of his followers. But he also vanished mysteriously after the Battle of Balakot in 1831, never to be seen again.

Muhammad Ahmad of Sudan, a famous scholar of the Qadri order of Sufis arose as the next Mahdi. He claimed to have received revelations and visions confirming him to the status of the promised Imam. He rose against the Turkish as well as the British Colonial rulers. Inflicting defeat after defeat to his adversaries, he finally succumbed to the British onslaught. Muhammad Ahmad had all the hallmarks for a successful revolutionary. Like Shah Waliullah, he was educated and pious. He had a fanatical following and influence over a vast territory. Even the Sharif’s of Makkah feared him.

In order to fulfil the prophecies regarding the Mahdi to the letter, Muhammad Ahmad even planned to go to the Hajj in 1882 to claim his leadership over all Muslims. He either abstained from going through with his plan or was prevented from it due to his military campaigns.

Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahamd of Qadian India, also claimed to be the Mahdi. He founded the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1889. He did not have a political agenda or a military solution for the Muslims. His defense of Islam against he onslaught of Christian and Arya missions stood the test of time. Even the sun and the moon eclipsed in his time in a particular order as foretold in a famous Hadith. If there was ever a Mahdi prophecised, and I believe there was, it was bound to be someone who fulfilled the prophetic words not only in his person, but also in deeds. Most importantly for an outside observer it is the outcome of his deeds which have started a revolution.

One of his followers and companions was Abdul Latif of Afghanistan. A high ranking official of the court of Kabul and a well known scholar of his time. He once told that before he had known about the claims of Hadhrat Ahmad, he had received so many revelations from God about the immediate appearance of Imam Madhi that he feared that it could even be him. Like Shah Waliullah, he also knew the significance of these revelations. So he also started his Journey to Arabia for Hajj, only to discover that a Mahdi has appeared in Qadian. Abdul Latif never went to Hajj, instead he pledged his life to the Mahdi. Soon after his return to Afghanistan, Abdul Latif was charged with apostasy and stoned to death in Kabul.

Success is the best proof of Divine support. Where all the other claimants of Mahdi failed, Hadhrat Ahmad's success despite intense persecution and opposition around the world shows that he was true in his claims. All those prophecies about the guided one were true all along.

Friday, August 8, 2014

On The Real War Front Against Islamist Extremism

What do you imagine the front line against Islamist extremism looks like?

Will this war fix anything? Image courtesy Stars and Stripes.

Does it comprise of  NATO led troops, security agencies and hired guns fighting against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan?

Or is it the Iraqi and Kurdish military forces retreating against the
rising tide of the Salafist terrorists in the Middle-East?

Is it the unmanned drones raining fire upon the militant hideouts in tribal Pakistan or in far-flung areas of the Yemen? Or is it yet another battlefield getting ready in Sub-Saharan Africa?

What if I told you that none of the above have anything to do with fighting extremism. These wars have everything to do with the world economy and its dependence on oil and arms trade.

But the righteous soldiers who fight the real war are not armed with any weapons. Most of them haven't committed a single violent act in their lives. And another thing, bad guys don't die in this war. Good guys do.

Three of its latest casualties were a 60 years old lady, a 7 years old girl and an 8 months old baby. They all died fighting the good fight against a blood thirsty mob in a city called Gujranwala, in Pakistan. The mob, charged in religious frenzy, angered by the false accusation of blasphemy torched the houses of Ahmadi Muslims and in the process, killed three of them.

The War has been on for over a hundred years. Since then, the world has seen cycles of pointless destruction the latest of which is being conducted in the guise of 'war on terror'. This senseless violence is bringing us closer to a nuclear apocalypse.

The only way to save the world is to join the real struggle. The quest for Absolute Justice. The real Jihad to reform ourselves to change the world around us, one person at a time. I know it is cliched and perhaps too boring for those who wish to see the good triumph against evil in a fairytale fashion.

But for those who join the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community find themselves pitched against all forms of adversity on a daily basis.

From Abdul Lateef, who stood buried waist deep in a Kabul square in 1902, telling his executors that he will never renounce his belief in the Living God; to 7 year old Hira Tabassum, who recited the Kalima while she choked to death in the toxic smoke of her burning home in Gujranwala, hundreds have laid down their lives for this cause.

The Gujranwala mob: Dancing and celebrating after murdering two little girls and their grandmother. Courtesy:

Ahmadiyya Muslims believe in true Islamic teachings of freedom of concience, thought and speech. They understand Quran and the Islamic tradition through the prophetic guidance of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the Divinely Guided Imam Mahdi who will reform the world.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian.

Through his claims and extensive writings, Hazrat Ahmad declared Jihad on the false beliefs and doctrines which had caused mankind to forget God and to follow their own vain desires.

He also announced that the false notion of violent Jihad has no place in Islam. Surely enough, religious leaders from various faith groups started opposing him. Soon, this opposition turned into hatred and widespread persecution followed.

The first and foremost indicator of militant, extremist Islamist activity is 'Takfir', the declaration of a person, group or community to be lesser humans, worthy of persecution and even death.

Ahmadis were perhaps the first victims of a global Takfiri movement facilitated and funded by those who think that they have monopoly over Islam.

After 125 years of valiant and constant struggle, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is now established in almost all countries of the world. It is the fastest spreading Islamic sect in the world and is gaining adherents from all nations of the world, including the Arabic speaking communities.

It may not be so apparent, but the war against bigotry and injustice is being won, one person at a time. Those who are too eager to partake in the violent wars are destined to be forgotten by history.

Each year an English country town, Alton, Hampshire receives over 30,000 delegates who attend the three day Jalsa Salana.. It is the annual gathering of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which becomes the spiritual focal point for the millions around the world.

Over 30,000 delegates, men, women and children attend the 3 day event every year.

When some misguided Muslim youths raise black banners in London while demonstrating for Gaza, news media is quick to point out the creeping Islamist agenda among the mainstream British Muslims. The black banner of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam has been flying over  the UK Jalsa Salana for almost half a century. This banner represents the peaceful, spiritual and unifying message of Islam.

Liwa-e-Ahmadiyyat, the black flag of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community flies over the Jalsa Salana.

The Khalifatul Masih, fifth successor of the Promised Messiah takes the pledge of allegiance from the thousands who join the community. Existing members also renew their ba'iyah (pledge). The pledge binds each of them to promise their lives for the cause of God and the Jihad for the soul of Islam until the final victory.

Ahmadi Muslim delegates at Jalsa Salana waiting for the Khalifatul Masih to pledge their allegiance

If you want to see the real front line of the real 'War' against terrorism, extremism and injustice.. Come visit Jalsa Salana UK.

Our weapon of choice: Books.

Follow the event on twitter @JalsaUK

On TV on or sky channel 787

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Block a Mosque

The website Mosqueblock offers a wide range of advice on how to fight mosque planning applications.

It asks its readers to steer clear of stating any racial or religious reasons while objecting to the mosque plans at their local council.

In a recent news announcement, it states

‘Our message to you is to get organised , and use the council planning process to your advantage. It`s your community , and your choice. Silence implies assent !!’

The site runs a methodical breakdown of a mosque blocking project.

Do your homework!!’, it says.

Its time to run your street petition’.

Speak to the local residents’

Don’t bother with the MPs, they will only refer you back to the council’.

Some articles go in great detail on describing the planning permission applications, the hearings and how to effectively present an Anti-Mosque case.

The site also features news on the recent ‘victories’ by various local residents who have successfully petitioned and campaigned against new Mosques in various British towns and cities.

Great News!
The latest news is from the town of Halesowen, where residents rejoice at the rejection of a plan to add minarets and a dome to the Baitul Ghafoor Mosque, run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association.

The local paper, Worcester News thinks that the Mosque organizers may have considered the anti-mosque campaign to be racist in nature.

When I read further, I read a disgruntled local woman resenting the fact that she has been branded a racist for only speaking her mind.

What were the remarks Dr. Muhammad Ashraf which may have insinuated racist motivations behind this organized campaign? A campaign supported by the local councilors, but mostly by UKIP's Stuart Henley.

Dr. Ashraf had only said that the locals misunderstood the religion of Islam and that may have caused their opposition to the Mosque.

If anything, Dr. Ashraf suggested that Islamophobia is a fuelling the campaign, not racism.

One of the petitions signed by dozens of residents states

Local residents will be very unhappy to be overlooked by the minarets’ and ‘the logical progression might be loudspeakers for calls to prayer…five times a day’

Having seen the proposed maps of the changes, it appears that both the dome and the minaret were only symbolic to identify the building as a mosque. No Muezzin was to go up the minaret five times a day for call to prayers, neither was there any plans to use loudspeakers on them.

Obviously the objectors had imagined their neighborhood turning into down-town Istanbul within days of the minarets going up.

Almost every petition against the Mosque stated that the change will not be in keeping with the local area.

It will be totally out of character for this part of Halesowen North’. Writes Councillor Hillary Bills.

Despite being progressive, are we to disregard our heritage for a welcome?’ Asks one gentleman

But, why can’t you accept a Mosque as a new addition to your heritage? There are Mosques in this country which can truly be called heritage buildings. Fazl Mosque in Southfields or Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking are two such examples.

Fazl Mosque. The first Mosque built in London is almost 100 years old
Would you allow an alteration to the building if the Minarets were in line with the architecture of the building and in keeping with the surrounding area? Or is it the idea of the Minaret, symbolizing a Mosque which bothers you?

Then there is the argument that in this day and age Mosque do not need to have any identifying features, as Mr. Henly (of UKIP) argues on his facebook page.

Mosques are not only spaces for worship; they are also converging points for a Muslim community. They are part of their identity. A Muslim is required to attend the mosque five times a day. Just as you cannot ask a bearded Jewish or Muslim man to do away with facial hair, just as you cannot tell a nun or a hijab wearing lady to discard their head covering, you cannot tell Muslims what their mosques should look like. (I am hoping that I am right in my assumption of tolerance here)

Yes, aesthetics are also very important, and keeping the building in harmony with its surroundings is a matter of common sense, but refusing to allow minarets is an extreme act.

Pakistani Government does not allow Ahmadi Muslims (who own the Halesowen Mosque) to build Mosques which look like Mosques as it hurts the sentiments of the Muslims.

Should a Mosque not have its identifying features? Yes, you can put up a signboard in front of any building to call it anything you like, but is that aesthetically pleasing?

The problem here is that the British people are being fed a constant diet of suspicion, hatred and paranoia by the media and various political interests.

According to the How to block a Mosque Course 101, the objectors should ask questions

Where would worshipers park?

Is there any on site parking?

How many will attend?

And at what times of the day?’

And sure enough, some Halesowen residents suggested that the minarets will attract more traffic in the street.

Minarets don’t emit homing beacons for any cars carrying Muslim drivers to converge at that spot. It is already a functioning Mosque, having minarets won’t change the attendance levels.

One comment summarizes it all for me. One lady, who apparently works in a Muslim majority school, opined that she knows about ‘their faith’, and she knows that the minarets are for cosmetic reasons only.

It appears that everyone in Halesowen have an opinion on how its Muslims residents should practice their faith, apart for those Muslims who wish to worship in the Baitul Ghafoor Mosque.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Immigrant apocalypse : The next Intifada

True Story:

Two ships were intercepted by the authorities, laden with almost 2000 illegal immigrants.

Both ships were barely seaworthy, and it was a miracle that they made it to their destination in one piece.

Those on board had escaped violence, racism, religious discrimination in their country of birth. They had surely been incarcerated and made to live in abject poverty by their tormentors.

But the authorities at their port of arrival did not let them disembark. 'We've had too many of your lot here already. We can't afford to have more of you here.'

There were widespread protests against such unkind attitude of the government. Finally it was decided that rather than letting these people disembark here, they would be taken to a tropical Island, and kept there as refugees until the situation improved back home.

The decision was an unpopular one when announced on board the ships. The persecuted thousands had not escaped from a despotic regime to be incarcerated by a benevolent one. They wanted to live free.

They were ordered to move to the larger of the two ships to be taken to the refugee Island. But many of these passengers had barely set foot on the ship when alarm was sounded. Everyone off the ship! Danger! Danger!

They all jumped into the water just before a loud explosion was heard. The ship sank right there in the docks, taking along with it 300 people.

Those who survived were granted asylum in the country of their choice.

It was in fact some of the passengers who blew up the ship. They could not bear to live another day in confinement, no matter how open their next prison was promised to be.

This incident happened in Palestine, in November 1940. The ships were carrying Jewish immigrants escaping Nazi atrocities in Europe.

The British had tried to stop the influx of hundreds of thousands of illegal Jewish immigrants into Palestine, which resulted in acts of violence by the Zionist movement against the British authorities.

70 years on, the very same immigrants have created another concentration camp in which to confine their host nation. And if acts of resistance were committed by the Palestinians, no different in nature than those perpetrated by their immigrant grandfathers, they would be punished by unprecedented and seemingly unmeasured brutal force.

The state of Israel has demonized the Palestinian so much that now its citizens cheer on while the military sends deadly missiles and rockets into the most densely populated urban areas in the world.

Whatever Mr. Nethanyahu is trying to achieve, it surely is not peace. He has successfully run the best recruitment drive for Hamas and its likes. And by defending Israel's right to 'self-defence', and by not condemning and trying to stop the loss of civilian lives, Europe and USA have more to worry about than just the middle-east.

Another crop of wannabe western jihadis must surely be ready.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Caliphate of the Damned

As Muslims around the world start the month of Ramadan, ISIS, a group of Salafist militants have announced the re-establishment of Khilafah, the Islamic form of government as idealized by the orthodox Muslims.

One Abu Bakr Baghdadi has been chosen as the Khalifa (Caliph) who is in the process of accepting the Bay'ah, the pledge of allegiance from his followers. He is now the head of state and the undisputed religious leader of this new country being carved out of Iraq and Syria.

Baghdadi uses the same name as the first Khalifa of Muslims, Abu Bakr, who was elected as the leader of the faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). He was followed by three more caliphs, Umar, Uthman and Ali. After Ali's assasination, Muslims could never agree on a single leader. Khalifa became a title used by various dynasties who ruled the Islamic world until the fall of the Ottomans in the last century.

It is no surprise that a Khalifa has emerged from amongst the militants. If anything, it has taken them two decades longer than it should have. Usama bin Laden was rumoured to be accepting the bay'ah from Al-Qaeda recruits in the build-up to his call to arms against the West. He was never proclaimed as the Khalifa. There must have been some theological expediencies as Al-Qaeda was trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of Sunni sects. ISIS have discarded all such shackles.

Political Islamism has always been fantasizing about Khilafah for a long time. Even Gandhi had joined the Indian Khilafat Movement in early 1920s. Qutb and Maudoodi, the two major 20th century ideologues for political Islamists saw Khilafah as the only viable solution for returning the Ummah to its glory days.

Hizb-e-Tehrir, the torchbearers for the return of Khilafah have also issued a statement defending their beliefs and mildly disagreeing with the violent group's methods of achieving what they have been dreaming for decades.

Regardless of the means of attaining it, or how they define the objectives of this institution, this caliphate will fail. As will any other which harbours the ambition of political leadership of the Muslim world.

The Holy Quran contains a verse called the Ayah of Istikhlaf. (the Verse of Khilafah) which describes the institution of Khilafah in these words

Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors (Khalifah) in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then who so is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious. (Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)

According to this verse

a. Khilafah is a promise made by God for the Muslims.
b. It will be established amongst those who do good works.
c. It will be established for spiritual guidance
d. Khilafah will bring peace and remove fear.
e. Those who forsake this Khilafah will be the rebellious ones.

There are many more finer points which can be inferred, but I will keep my discourse to the most obvious ones stated in the verse. Islamic Khilafah is not a political institution. The first four Caliphs were also the political leaders for the nascent Muslim community as they had inherited it from the Prophet (Peace be upon him).

Those who are flocking to pledge their lives to Al-Baghdadi should reflect on this verse and seriously ask themselves these questions:

Is Al-Baghdadi claiming to be a Khalifah made by God Himself?

Are they doing the 'good works' as defined by the Holy Quran. i.e., charity, saving lives, serving mankind and above all, keeping away from all forms of rebellion?

Is their Khalifa guiding them on how to achieve spiritual excellence through prayer and contemplation on the deeper meanings of the Quran?

Is this Khilafah removing fear and establishing peace?

Obviously, the answer to all these questions is NO. This so-called Khalifah is nothing but a murderer who is gathering around him a bunch of killers to spread fear and terror in the name of Islam. Quran informs us of the fate of such rebels in these words

So when they deviated from the right course, Allah caused their hearts to deviate, for Allah guides not the rebellious people.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

'There should be no compulsion in religion'

Mariam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag is a Christian who is facing the death penalty in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. Mariam claims that she never was a Muslim, bur raised as a Christian from her childhood. I admire her courage for standing firm on her faith and refusing to bow to the immense pressure she has been put under by the Sudanese authorities. I also hope that the judicial system in Sudan sees some sense and drops all charges against her. Whoever she choses to marry regardless of her faith or that of her husband is no business of the state.

This judgment is inhumane, un-Islamic and beyond doubt, an insult to the Quran and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

As always, such incidents generate a lot of media attention, and rightly so. Thankfully there are people in this world who give their time and energies for the sake of freedom and human rights. But sadly there are also those who take this as an opportunity to push ahead with their anti-Islam agenda under the cover of protest.

According to Elizabeth Kendal, a Canberra-based Christian rights activist, the death sentence for Mariam Yahya is in accordance with Islam and must be condemned as Islam's 'inherent inhumanity'. She further states that the real reason for the exponential growth of Islam is due to its apostasy laws.

The article in question also makes some fantastic assumptions about Islam.

Lets begin with her comment on the Quranic verse 13:15.

'And to Allah prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, and their shadows [as well] in the mornings and the afternoons.'

According to Kendal, this verse is the evidence that Quran supports compulsion in the matter of faith.

The particular passage of Quran in question is describing the Majesty of God. i.e., everything in the universe follows the laws He has created, just like the shadows which submit to the movement of the sun in the mornings and in the evenings. There is no mention of apostasy here.

In fact, Quran does not deal with any worldly punishment for people who abandon their faith in Islam.

There is an unequivocal commandment in the Holy Quran 'There should be no compulsion in religion' (2:256) which should remove any doubts about the Islamic position on this matter.

But Kendal finds another concept in the Quran which proves that the Sudanese court is following the true Shariah.

She states that apostasy is equal to 'Fitnah' which according to the verse 2:217 is worse than killing. This surely means that apostates must be killed.

Lets start with the word 'Fitnah' first. According to this verse, Fitnah is

'but to hinder men from the way of Allah, and to be ungrateful to Him and to hinder men from the Sacred Mosque, and to turn out its people therefrom..'

i.e., stopping Muslims from performing pilgrimage and declaring war on them is the 'Fitnah'.

Thus, Fitnah clearly means Persecution.

The verse further states that 'and persecution (Fitnah) is worse than killing.’

And what of the persecutors, the Meccan chiefs who had vowed to finish Islam and a handful of its followers? The verse continues,

'And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can.'

And what happens to any apostates?

'And whoso from among you turns back from his faith and dies while he is a disbeliever, it is they whose works shall be vain in this world and the next. These are the inmates of the Fire and therein shall they abide.'

i.e., their fate rests is with their Lord in the afterlife. No worldly punishment has been recommended for them whatsoever. In fact the verse guarantees them the freedom to live out their life in disbelief.

Kendal then tries to use the next source of Islamic jurisprudence, the Hadith, sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to prove that he founded a totalitarian religion which should be feared by the world.

For example she quotes a Hadith, '
"Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him'
Firstly, the narration is highly dubious and has been rejected as weak or even fabricated by many scholars, and secondly the Hadith in question has been mistranslated by inserting the word 'Islamic' which doesn't exist in the original text. One argument which has been used to dismiss this narration as a fabrication is that if it the commandment was taken based on the actual text, no one would be allowed to change their faith. i.e., a person converting to Islam would deserve death as much as someone apostasizing from Islam.

There is no sound basis for any penalties for apostasy in Hadith literature. Many jurists and classical scholars have made the error of equating apostasy with treason and declaration of war; an error which should have been rectified long time ago. But thanks to the medievalist regimes that still exists in many Islamic countries, we find ourselves lamenting the plight of human rights there almost on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, the scattered and disconnected leadership of the orthodox sects of Islam is still busy pushing the Muslims back into the dark ages. Such judgements against religious freedom only expose their insecurities about their own faith and its place in the modern world. It is astonishing to see them openly contradicting the clear commandments of the Quran and the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

But people like Kendal are also guilty of misleading their readers about their own religious texts and the skeletons (often stoned to death) hidden in them. Unlike the Quran which allows complete religious freedom, the Bible is very clearly against such notions.

For example Deuteronomy says;

'but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God'
Many Christians may object to this as not applicable to them anymore, but St. Paul wasn't so fond of apostates himself. He condemned them to death too, and the Church complied gladly for many centuries.

What the contemporary orthodox Islam is suffering from is the same malaise which the medieval Christianity suffered for a long time; a departure from the source of guidance and the politicization of religion. If anything, such punishments are only the artefacts of Judeo-Christian ideas which seeped into the Islamic thought during the early centuries of Muslim expansion.

I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which has been striving to correct such errors for more than a century. Under the guidance of the Khalifatul Masih, Ahmadiyya Muslims are working tirelessly to educate not only their fellow Muslims, but other communities as well, about the true and peaceful message of Islam.

I advise Elizabeth Kendal to seek the correct information about the real message of the Quran and help the persecuted Christians like Mariam by putting forward a logical and forceful argument against those transgressors who claim to follow Islam. There is nothing more logical and forceful than the Word of God.

'There should be no compulsion in religion'.

Further Reading: Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, by Sir. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan


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