Nato fears over Dutch Islam film


Nato’s secretary general says he fears the airing of a Dutch film criticising Islam will have repercussions for troops in Afghanistan. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer’s comments came after Afghans protested on Sunday against the film being made by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

The Dutch government has warned Mr Wilders that the film will damage Dutch political and economic interests.

Mr Wilders says the film is about the Koran but has given few details.

In the past, he has called for the Koran to be banned and likened it to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The project has already been condemned by several Muslim countries, including Iran and Pakistan.

Nato’s secretary general said he was concerned about his troops after the protests against the film in Afghanistan.

“If the [troops] find themselves in the line of fire because of the film, then I am worried about it and I am expressing that concern,” he said in a television interview.

‘Kick out forces’

On Sunday, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to protest against the film.

Demonstrators burned Dutch flags, and called for the withdrawal of Dutch troops from the Nato force.

The demonstrators say they will step up their protests unless the Afghan government expels the troops.

The protesters also criticised the recent republication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in several Danish newspapers, and called for the withdrawal of Danish troops.

“We don’t want our government to have any diplomatic relations with these two countries,” Maulawi Abdul Hadi, one of the protesters, told the Associated Press news agency.

“We don’t want Danish and Dutch troops in Afghanistan. They should be kicked out of the Nato forces here.”

Mr Wilders has said he expects his 15-minute work will be shown in the Netherlands in March and released on the internet.

Dutch authorities have told him he may have to leave the country for his own safety amid reports of death threats.

Submission

Mr Wilders’ film is called Fitna, an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord.

He has said his film will show how the Koran is “an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror”.

Mr Wilders leads the Freedom Party, which has nine seats in the Dutch parliament.

He has had police protection since Dutch director Theo Van Gogh was killed by a radical Islamist in 2004.

Van Gogh’s film Submission included verses from the Koran shown against a naked female body.

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Traditionalist ulema lead educational revolution in Kerala

Written by Yoginder Sikand · December 13, 2007 · 452 views

December 13, 2007

Kerala’s Muslims are unique among their co-religionists in India in fashioning a system of education that enables their children to attend both religious as well as regular schools at the same time. Muslims account for around a fourth of Kerala’s population, and the state’s Muslims, known as Mapillas, are among the most literate of the various Muslim communities in the country. Madrasas and schools run by literally hundreds of Muslim religious organizations in the state have made this possible. A recent study by Zubair Hudawi, himself a madrasa graduate from Kerala and presently a doctoral candidate at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, titled ‘Development and Modernisation of Religious Education in Kerala: The Role of the Samastha Kerala Jameyyat ul-Ulama’, discusses this contribution in great detail.

The Samastha Kerala Jameyyat ul-Ulama (SKJU) represents a traditionalist theological position, quite opposed to Islamic modernists on numerous points. Yet, as Hudawi argues, it has not hesitated from championing modern education. Hudawi, who spent several years studying at the Dar ul-Huda Islamic Academy, the SKJU’s leading centre for higher Islamic education, seeks to explain this enigma through an in-depth analysis of the organisation’s evolution and development, arguing against the notion that the traditionalist ulema are necessarily and wholly opposed to ‘modernity’. He argues that the SKJU is an excellent example of a traditionalist Muslim religious organization that, rather than opposing ‘modernity’ outright, actually facilitates it, albeit selectively. Thus, today, he writes, the SKJU runs not just several thousand madrasas but also numerous English- and Malayalam-medium schools, and scores of women’s and technical colleges. Continue reading “Traditionalist ulema lead educational revolution in Kerala”

How $30 Billion US Aid package to Israel impacting Gaza Siege, and Southland Muslims.

Press Release – Believers Vs. Unbelievers: The Manipulated Clash

  For Immediate Release
Press contact :
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January 25, 2008 Temecula, California.  While our country is completely preoccupied with the election and the looming recession of our economy, Israel — our American government’s close ally who just received our generous $30 billion aid package — is engaging in what has been called a war crime and genocide against the Palestinian population in Gaza.

Human Rights organizations of all religious persuasions have been speaking out against the Gaza siege, joined by an expanding outcry from non-governmental and governmental organizations throughout the world.    While leaders of the Muslim community in the US are calling for a special prayer during the Muslim Friday Prayers today, MuslimBridges.org is calling on all Churches and Synagogues to join with Muslims in prayers, and denounce the Israeli siege during the Jewish services on Friday night and Saturday, and the Christian services on Sunday.

Israel has imposed a complete lock-down of Gaza, this most densely populated place on earth. That means not only sealed borders and no access to food or medicine, but gas and electricity are also shut down. It is more than a miserable existence; it is a slow death.   Many are now calling it a war crime.  This siege intensified immediately after the $30 billion generous aid package was handed to Israel during the recent President Bush visit to Israel.

“Israel thinks it can get away with it because we are too busy with our problems, but this time it is different. Now people are fed up and recognize that Israel is often the aggressor behind our mess.  What really concerns us now is that other crises may surface, such as a war with Iran, or another scandal bigger than the Mohammed cartoon, just to shift the attention away from the Gaza Siege,” said R. Shahman, an activist with MuslimBridges.org.

In anticipation of a potential scandal, MuslimBridges.org is looking to the Interfaith community to publicly denounce hate and slander against Muslims, and communicate to all people of faith that slander is not a result of “clash of religions,” Rather it is a clash of “Believers Vs. Unbelievers,” often manipulated for political reasons to avert attention from the real challenges facing all of us.

MuslimBridges.org applauds the support of all believers from Churches and faith-based organizations such as the Rabbis of NETUREI KARTA in Monsey N.Y., who make a clear distinction that Judaism absolutely rejects Zionism and speak out against the brutal occupation of Palestine by Israel.   This is in complete contrast to the so called “Top Rabbis of Israel” who are advocating genocide and carpet bombing against all Christians and Muslims in Gaza, “ruled that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings” said Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu — one of the most senior theocrats in the Jewish State (The Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2007).

“We hope and expect our friends in Churches and Synagogues will denounce the Israeli siege, and any possible slander, just as every Islamic Center and Muslim organization in the US is providing a clear position standing against terrorism, putting it in writing and signing the Fatwa against terrorism,” stated Mrs. Shahman

Leaders of Churches and Synagogues are encouraged to participate in the following actions:

  1. Power of prayer:  To Join with Muslims in prayers for Peace and Justice in Palestine, the occupied Land.   May God ease the suffering and bring about a peaceful solution.
  2. To denounce the use by Israel of American taxpayers’ money to starve Gaza into a slow genocide and to demand a freeze on all aid given to Israel paid for by our tax money. The following Links are offered on MuslimBridges.org so that every member of a church or synagogue can simply send a clear message to our elected officials demanding immediate intervention.
    Contact White HouseContact your SenatorContact your Representative
  3. To educate congregations that slander, hate and siege and slow death of a rival group has no place in faith.  Educational tools, articles and books are available through MuslimBridges.org.

###

MuslimBridges.org is a non-profit faith-based California Corporation founded in December 2006, and run one-hundred percent by volunteers.  It was founded with the mission to help spread peace, and to build bridges between people of all faiths-Jews, Christians and Muslims.  The website, launched on Jan 22, 2007, is non-commercial, not-for-profit and does not accept donations.  For additional details on the organization and the programs please visit:  http://www.muslimbridges.org/.

Dutch Muslims urge calm over Quran film

Freedom of expression is Secularists screaming & shouting criticisms of Islam & Muslims, making insulting movies, music, plays, etc. & its against Freedom of Expression when Muslims protest the injustice being done & standing up for their RIGHTS.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch Muslim group appealed Thursday for calm at home and abroad in reaction to an anti-Quran film a right-wing politician says he is making.

Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Freedom Party, says his film will portray the Quran as a “fascist book” that incites violence and intolerance of women and homosexuals.

The Dutch director of a previous film critical of Islam was murdered by a Muslim radical on an Amsterdam street in 2004, prompting a backlash that included the torching of several mosques.

The moderate National Moroccan Council said Thursday it will try to “neutralize the threat” posed by the upcoming film, which Wilders says is still under production.

“At the moment, practically all Muslim groups … are working to ensure a peaceful and responsible reaction” to the film, said the group’s chairman, Mohamed Rabbae, at a news conference in The Hague.

“We will have succeeded if, after the film, Mr. Wilders is frustrated,” Rabbae said. “If he sees there are no riots and Muslims are cleverer and more democratic than he thinks.”

Wilders has yet to find a broadcaster prepared to air the film once it is finished. But he has said that if he cannot find one, he will post it on the Internet.

Even though it is uncertain the film will ever be broadcast, the government has put cities on alert for possible violence. It has also warned its overseas embassies about a possible reaction similar to the one that erupted across the Muslim world over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper in 2005.

“That a 10-minute film that’s never been shown may lead to riots, boycotts and other bad things, says everything about the nature of Islam,” said Wilders in an open letter Thursday. “Nothing about me.”

Wilders’ party holds nine of the Dutch parliament’s 150 seats.

In the past, he has said that half the Quran should be torn up and has compared it with Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.” He has claimed the Netherlands is being swamped by a “tsunami” of Islamic immigrants.

Wilders said his film will not closely resemble “Submission,” the short film written by right-leaning former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

“Submission” criticized the treatment of women under Islam, citing Quranic verses that appeared to justify abuse.

The film’s director, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered in 2004. A Muslim extremist shot him numerous times, slit his throat and used a knife to pin a letter to his chest threatening the life of Hirsi Ali. She now lives in the United States under 24-hour guard.

Rabbae said his group represents the majority of the more than 850,000 Muslims living in this nation of 16.3 million.

The group also will call on Dutch Muslims who feel victimized or insulted by the film to file criminal complaints against Wilders for racial or religious vilification.

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Islamic Renaissance now


By Hamid Golpira

The Islamic world is at the crossroads — either we have an Islamic Renaissance now or we will experience many years of backwardness.

The Islamic world has been in decline for over five centuries.

Once we experienced a golden age, and there is good reason to mourn its loss.

But the Moor’s last sigh shouldn’t last 500 years.

Something must be done to rectify the problem now.

It seems that we need a bit of etherealization, which is an expression used by historian Arnold Toynbee to describe what takes place when a civilization is flourishing.

So how do we etherealize the Islamic world?

Well, first we have to understand what we got right in the golden age.

To start an Islamic Renaissance, we have to return to our roots, but this does not mean returning to the past as Taleban-type elements would like to do.

We have to balance modernity and tradition.

And this is what we got right at the advent of Islam and during the golden age.

We understood and adapted to the times we lived in while maintaining our religious ideals.

We had spirituality and also academic scholarship and science.

Muslims never had a great Dark Ages where science was superstitiously rejected like the Europeans experienced.

However, we are in the middle of a 500-year decline that is like a dark age.

We Muslims have to understand that we live in the Information Age.

Yet, we must learn how to balance Information Age modernity and Islamic tradition.

We should not become materialists with little or no spirituality, like the Westerners, but we should also not try to become spiritual people disconnected from the times we live in.

Everything is in the balance and we must learn to strike that balance.

The new Islamic Renaissance must be an Information Age Islamic Renaissance because this is the era we live in.

The beauty of Islam is that it is adaptable to every era.

When the Europeans were in the middle of their Dark Ages, the Islamic world reached the heights of art, culture, science, philosophy, literature, architecture, and many other fields.

Many historians say the Islamic civilization actually inspired the European Renaissance.

So what went wrong in the Islamic world?

The answer is obvious.

We forgot who we are. We lost our identity.

We lost sight of that beauty of Islam which is adaptable to every era.

Most of the Islamic world was colonized by the Europeans, and our identity crisis became exacerbated.

After the colonial era ended, we became the victims of neocolonialism.

Even the minds of most Muslims have become colonized in the ongoing cultural war.

South African revolutionary Steve Biko once said: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

The Muslims broke up into different groups.

One group is influenced by the Westerners and tries to be secular materialists like them. They are sometimes called moderate Muslims but most of them are not very Muslim at all in reality.

Another group rejects the West and has adopted a form of Islamic traditionalism that is sometimes called fundamentalism but which is really not fundamentalism because they are out of touch with the modern world, whereas the fundamental teachings of Islam require Muslims to be in tune with the times we live in.

A third group rejects both of these approaches and opts for a form of Islamic mysticism disengaged from the world, which is not really Islamic mysticism because true Islamic mystics are engaged with the world and seek to help people, especially the oppressed masses and those who are spiritually lost.

All of these groups are going in the wrong direction, but each of them also has a piece of the answer.

We Muslims must synthesize these three approaches to regain our identity and start the new Islamic Renaissance.

We must utilize Information Age technology, but avoid getting lost in materialism.

We must hold fast to the Islamic tradition and the Islamic law, the sharia, but avoid stiff interpretations of the law, arrogant self-righteousness, and intolerance.

And we must understand mysticism and live the mystical life, but avoid selfish individualism and narcissistic fantasy.

If we can do this, we can reconnect with the beauty of Islam which is adaptable to every era, balance modernity and tradition, regain our Islamic identity, and start the new Islamic Renaissance.

Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement

Internal causes led to the decline of Islam’s scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.

Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy

August 2007, page 49
This article grew out of the Max von Laue Lecture that I delivered earlier this year to celebrate that eminent physicist and man of strong social conscience. When Adolf Hitler was on the ascendancy, Laue was one of the very few German physicists of stature who dared to defend Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity. It therefore seems appropriate that a matter concerning science and civilization should be my concern here.

The question I want to pose—perhaps as much to myself as to anyone else—is this: With well over a billion Muslims and extensive material resources, why is the Islamic world disengaged from science and the process of creating new knowledge? To be definite, I am here using the 57 countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a proxy for the Islamic world.

It was not always this way. Islam’s magnificent Golden Age in the 9th–13th centuries brought about major advances in mathematics, science, and medicine. The Arabic language held sway in an age that created algebra, elucidated principles of optics, established the body’s circulation of blood, named stars, and created universities. But with the end of that period, science in the Islamic world essentially collapsed. No major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven centuries now. That arrested scientific development is one important element—although by no means the only one—that contributes to the present marginalization of Muslims and a growing sense of injustice and victimhood.

Such negative feelings must be checked before the gulf widens further. A bloody clash of civilizations, should it actually transpire, will surely rank along with the two other most dangerous challenges to life on our planet—climate change and nuclear proliferation.

First encounters

Islam’s encounter with science has had happy and unhappy periods. There was no science in Arab culture in the initial period of Islam, around 610 AD. But as Islam established itself politically and militarily, its territory expanded. In the mid-eighth century, Muslim conquerors came upon the ancient treasures of Greek learning. Translations from Greek into Arabic were ordered by liberal and enlightened caliphs, who filled their courts in Baghdad with visiting scholars from near and far. Politics was dominated by the rationalist Mutazilites, who sought to combine faith and reason in opposition to their rivals, the dogmatic Asharites. A generally tolerant and pluralistic Islamic culture allowed Muslims, Christians, and Jews to create new works of art and science together. But over time, the theological tensions between liberal and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam—such as on the issue of free will versus predestination—became intense and turned bloody. A resurgent religious orthodoxy eventually inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mutazilites. Thereafter, the open-minded pursuits of philosophy, mathematics, and science were increasingly relegated to the margins of Islam.1

Ottoman Empire astronomers

Figure 1

A long period of darkness followed, punctuated by occasional brilliant spots. In the 16th century, the Turkish Ottomans established an extensive empire with the help of military technology. But there was little enthusiasm for science and new knowledge (see figure 1). In the 19th century, the European Enlightenment inspired a wave of modernist Islamic reformers: Mohammed Abduh of Egypt, his follower Rashid Rida from Syria, and their counterparts on the Indian subcontinent, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Jamaluddin Afghani, exhorted their fellow Muslims to accept ideas of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution. Their theological position can be roughly paraphrased as, “The Qur’an tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” That echoed Galileo earlier in Europe. The 20th century witnessed the end of European colonial rule and the emergence of several new independent Muslim states, all initially under secular national leaderships. A spurt toward modernization and the acquisition of technology followed. Many expected that a Muslim scientific renaissance would ensue. Clearly, it did not.

What ails science in the Muslim world?

Nasser Hamdan/AUS

Figure 2

Muslim leaders today, realizing that military power and economic growth flow from technology, frequently call for speedy scientific development and a knowledge-based society. Often that call is rhetorical, but in some Muslim countries—Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Nigeria among others—official patronage and funding for science and education have grown sharply in recent years. Enlightened individual rulers, including Sultan ibn Muhammad Al-Qasimi of Sharjah, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, and others have put aside some of their vast personal wealth for such causes (see figure 2 and the news story on page 33). No Muslim leader has publicly called for separating science from religion. Is boosting resource allocations enough to energize science, or are more fundamental changes required? Scholars of the 19th century, such as the pioneering sociologist Max Weber, claimed that Islam lacks an “idea system” critical for sustaining a scientific culture based on innovation, new experiences, quantification, and empirical verification. Fatalism and an orientation toward the past, they said, makes progress difficult and even undesirable.

In the current epoch of growing antagonism between the Islamic and the Western worlds, most Muslims reject such charges with angry indignation. They feel those accusations add yet another excuse for the West to justify its ongoing cultural and military assaults on Muslim populations. Muslims bristle at any hint that Islam and science may be at odds, or that some underlying conflict between Islam and science may account for the slowness of progress. The Qur’an, being the unaltered word of God, cannot be at fault: Muslims believe that if there is a problem, it must come from their inability to properly interpret and implement the Qur’an’s divine instructions.

In defending the compatibility of science and Islam, Muslims argue that Islam had sustained a vibrant intellectual culture throughout the European Dark Ages and thus, by extension, is also capable of a modern scientific culture. The Pakistani physics Nobel Prize winner, Abdus Salam, would stress to audiences that one-eighth of the Qur’an is a call for Muslims to seek Allah’s signs in the universe and hence that science is a spiritual as well as a temporal duty for Muslims. Perhaps the most widely used argument one hears is that the Prophet Muhammad had exhorted his followers to “seek knowledge even if it is in China,” which implies that a Muslim is duty-bound to search for secular knowledge.

Such arguments have been and will continue to be much debated, but they will not be pursued further here. Instead, let us seek to understand the state of science in the contemporary Islamic world. First, to the degree that available data allows, I will quantitatively assess the current state of science in Muslim countries. Then I will look at prevalent Muslim attitudes toward science, technology, and modernity, with an eye toward identifying specific cultural and social practices that work against progress. Finally, we can turn to the fundamental question: What will it take to bring science back into the Islamic world?

Measuring Muslim scientific progress

The metrics of scientific progress are neither precise nor unique. Science permeates our lives in myriad ways, means different things to different people, and has changed its content and scope drastically over the course of history. In addition, the paucity of reliable and current data makes the task of assessing scientific progress in Muslim countries still harder.

I will use the following reasonable set of four metrics:

  • The quantity of scientific output, weighted by some reasonable measure of relevance and importance;
  • The role played by science and technology in the national economies, funding for S&T, and the size of the national scientific enterprises;
  • The extent and quality of higher education; and
  • The degree to which science is present or absent in popular culture.

Scientific output

A useful, if imperfect, indicator of scientific output is the number of published scientific research papers, together with the citations to them. Table 1 shows the output of the seven most scientifically productive Muslim countries for physics papers, over the period from 1 January 1997 to 28 February 2007, together with the total number of publications in all scientific fields. A comparison with Brazil, India, China, and the US reveals significantly smaller numbers. A study by academics at the International Islamic University Malaysia2 showed that OIC countries have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1000 population, compared with a world average of 40.7, and 139.3 for countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (For more on the OECD, see http://www.oecd.org.) Forty-six Muslim countries contributed 1.17% of the world’s science literature, whereas 1.66% came from India alone and 1.48% from Spain. Twenty Arab countries contributed 0.55%, compared with 0.89% by Israel alone. The US NSF records that of the 28 lowest producers of scientific articles in 2003, half belong to the OIC.3

The situation may be even grimmer than the publication numbers or perhaps even the citation counts suggest. Assessing the scientific worth of publications—never an easy task—is complicated further by the rapid appearance of new international scientific journals that publish low-quality work. Many have poor editorial policies and refereeing procedures. Scientists in many developing countries, who are under pressure to publish, or who are attracted by strong government incentives, choose to follow the path of least resistance paved for them by the increasingly commercialized policies of journals. Prospective authors know that editors need to produce a journal of a certain thickness every month. In addition to considerable anecdotal evidence for these practices, there have been a few systematic studies. For example,4 chemistry publications by Iranian scientists tripled in five years, from 1040 in 1998 to 3277 in 2003. Many scientific papers that were claimed as original by their Iranian chemist authors, and that had been published in internationally peer-reviewed journals, had actually been published twice and sometimes thrice with identical or nearly identical contents by the same authors. Others were plagiarized papers that could have been easily detected by any reasonably careful referee.

The situation regarding patents is also discouraging: The OIC countries produce negligibly few. According to official statistics, Pakistan has produced only eight patents in the past 43 years.

Islamic countries show a great diversity of cultures and levels of modernization and a correspondingly large spread in scientific productivity. Among the larger countries—in both population and political importance—Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan are the most scientifically developed. Among the smaller countries, such as the central Asian republics, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan rank considerably above Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Malaysia—a rather atypical Muslim country with a 40% non-Muslim minority—is much smaller than neighboring Indonesia but is nevertheless more productive. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and other states that have many foreign scientists are scientifically far ahead of other Arab states.

National scientific enterprises

Conventional wisdom suggests that bigger science budgets indicate, or will induce, greater scientific activity. On average, the 57 OIC states spend an estimated 0.3% of their gross national product on research and development, which is far below the global average of 2.4%. But the trend toward higher spending is unambiguous. Rulers in the UAE and Qatar are building several new universities with manpower imported from the West for both construction and staffing. In June 2006, Nigeria’s president Olusegun Obasanjo announced he will plow $5 billion of oil money into R&D. Iran increased its R&D spending dramatically, from a pittance in 1988 at the end of the Iraq–Iran war, to a current level of 0.4% of its gross domestic product. Saudi Arabia announced that it spent 26% of its development budget on science and education in 2006, and sent 5000 students to US universities on full scholarships. Pakistan set a world record by increasing funding for higher education and science by an immense 800% over the past five years.

But bigger budgets by themselves are not a panacea. The capacity to put those funds to good use is crucial. One determining factor is the number of available scientists, engineers, and technicians. Those numbers are low for OIC countries, averaging around 400–500 per million people, while developed countries typically lie in the range of 3500–5000 per million. Even more important are the quality and level of professionalism, which are less easily quantifiable. But increasing funding without adequately addressing such crucial concerns can lead to a null correlation between scientific funding and performance.

The role played by science in creating high technology is an important science indicator. Comparing table 1 with table 2 shows there is little correlation between academic research papers and the role of S&T in the national economies of the seven listed countries. The anomalous position of Malaysia in table 2 has its explanation in the large direct investment made by multinational companies and in having trading partners that are overwhelmingly non-OIC countries.

FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS

Figure 3

Although not apparent in table 2, there are scientific areas in which research has paid off in the Islamic world. Agricultural research—which is relatively simple science—provides one case in point. Pakistan has good results, for example, with new varieties of cotton, wheat, rice, and tea. Defense technology is another area in which many developing countries have invested, as they aim to both lessen their dependence on international arms suppliers and promote domestic capabilities. Pakistan manufactures nuclear weapons and intermediate-range missiles. There is now also a burgeoning, increasingly export-oriented Pakistani arms industry (figure 3) that turns out a large range of weapons from grenades to tanks, night-vision devices to laser-guided weapons, and small submarines to training aircraft. Export earnings exceed $150 million yearly. Although much of the production is a triumph of reverse engineering rather than original research and development, there is clearly sufficient understanding of the requisite scientific principles and a capacity to exercise technical and managerial judgment as well. Iran has followed Pakistan’s example.

Higher education

According to a recent survey, among the 57 member states of the OIC, there are approximately 1800 universities.5 Of those, only 312 publish journal articles. A ranking of the 50 most published among them yields these numbers: 26 are in Turkey, 9 in Iran, 3 each in Malaysia and Egypt, 2 in Pakistan, and 1 in each of Uganda, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Azerbaijan. For the top 20 universities, the average yearly production of journal articles was about 1500, a small but reasonable number. However, the average citation per article is less than 1.0 (the survey report does not state whether self-citations were excluded). There are fewer data available for comparing against universities worldwide. Two Malaysian undergraduate institutions were in the top-200 list of the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006 (available at http://www.thes.co.uk). No OIC university made the top-500 “Academic Ranking of World Universities” compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (see http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/en). This state of affairs led the director general of the OIC to issue an appeal for at least 20 OIC universities to be sufficiently elevated in quality to make the top-500 list. No action plan was specified, nor was the term “quality” defined.

An institution’s quality is fundamental, but how is it to be defined? Providing more infrastructure and facilities is important but not key. Most universities in Islamic countries have a starkly inferior quality of teaching and learning, a tenuous connection to job skills, and research that is low in both quality and quantity. Poor teaching owes more to inappropriate attitudes than to material resources. Generally, obedience and rote learning are stressed, and the authority of the teacher is rarely challenged. Debate, analysis, and class discussions are infrequent.

Academic and cultural freedoms on campuses are highly restricted in most Muslim countries. At Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, where I teach, the constraints are similar to those existing in most other Pakistani public-sector institutions. This university serves the typical middle-class Pakistani student and, according to the survey referred to earlier,5 ranks number two among OIC universities. Here, as in other Pakistani public universities, films, drama, and music are frowned on, and sometimes even physical attacks by student vigilantes who believe that such pursuits violate Islamic norms take place. The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics. The Ahmedi sect to which he belonged, and which had earlier been considered to be Muslim, was officially declared heretical in 1974 by the Pakistani government.

Ishaque Choudhry

Figure 4

As intolerance and militancy sweep across the Muslim world, personal and academic freedoms diminish with the rising pressure to conform. In Pakistani universities, the veil is now ubiquitous, and the last few unveiled women students are under intense pressure to cover up. The head of the government-funded mosque-cum-seminary (figure 4) in the heart of Islamabad, the nation’s capital, issued the following chilling warning to my university’s female students and faculty on his FM radio channel on 12 April 2007:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. . . . Sportswomen are spreading nudity. I warn the sportswomen of Islamabad to stop participating in sports. . . . Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women.6

The imposition of the veil makes a difference. My colleagues and I share a common observation that over time most students—particularly veiled females—have largely lapsed into becoming silent note-takers, are increasingly timid, and are less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. This lack of self-expression and confidence leads to most Pakistani university students, including those in their mid- or late-twenties, referring to themselves as boys and girls rather than as men and women.

Science and religion still at odds

Science is under pressure globally, and from every religion. As science becomes an increasingly dominant part of human culture, its achievements inspire both awe and fear. Creationism and intelligent design, curbs on genetic research, pseudoscience, parapsychology, belief in UFOs, and so on are some of its manifestations in the West. Religious conservatives in the US have rallied against the teaching of Darwinian evolution. Extreme Hindu groups such as the Vishnu Hindu Parishad, which has called for ethnic cleansing of Christians and Muslims, have promoted various “temple miracles,” including one in which an elephant-like God miraculously came alive and started drinking milk. Some extremist Jewish groups also derive additional political strength from antiscience movements. For example, certain American cattle tycoons have for years been working with Israeli counterparts to try to breed a pure red heifer in Israel, which, by their interpretation of chapter 19 of the Book of Numbers, will signal the coming of the building of the Third Temple,7 an event that would ignite the Middle East.

In the Islamic world, opposition to science in the public arena takes additional forms. Antiscience materials have an immense presence on the internet, with thousands of elaborately designed Islamic websites, some with view counters running into the hundreds of thousands. A typical and frequently visited one has the following banner: “Recently discovered astounding scientific facts, accurately described in the Muslim Holy Book and by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 14 centuries ago.” Here one will find that everything from quantum mechanics to black holes and genes was anticipated 1400 years ago.

Science, in the view of fundamentalists, is principally seen as valuable for establishing yet more proofs of God, proving the truth of Islam and the Qur’an, and showing that modern science would have been impossible but for Muslim discoveries. Antiquity alone seems to matter. One gets the impression that history’s clock broke down somewhere during the 14th century and that plans for repair are, at best, vague. In that all-too-prevalent view, science is not about critical thought and awareness, creative uncertainties, or ceaseless explorations. Missing are websites or discussion groups dealing with the philosophical implications from the Islamic point of view of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, superstrings, stem cells, and other contemporary science issues.

Similarly, in the mass media of Muslim countries, discussions on “Islam and science” are common and welcomed only to the extent that belief in the status quo is reaffirmed rather than challenged. When the 2005 earthquake struck Pakistan, killing more than 90 000 people, no major scientist in the country publicly challenged the belief, freely propagated through the mass media, that the quake was God’s punishment for sinful behavior. Mullahs ridiculed the notion that science could provide an explanation; they incited their followers into smashing television sets, which had provoked Allah’s anger and hence the earthquake. As several class discussions showed, an overwhelming majority of my university’s science students accepted various divine-wrath explanations.

Why the slow development?

Although the relatively slow pace of scientific development in Muslim countries cannot be disputed, many explanations can and some common ones are plain wrong.

For example, it is a myth that women in Muslim countries are largely excluded from higher education. In fact, the numbers are similar to those in many Western countries: The percentage of women in the university student body is 35% in Egypt, 67% in Kuwait, 27% in Saudi Arabia, and 41% in Pakistan, for just a few examples. In the physical sciences and engineering, the proportion of women enrolled is roughly similar to that in the US. However, restrictions on the freedom of women leave them with far fewer choices, both in their personal lives and for professional advancement after graduation, relative to their male counterparts.

The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countries is also not an especially important reason for slow scientific development. It is certainly true that authoritarian regimes generally deny freedom of inquiry or dissent, cripple professional societies, intimidate universities, and limit contacts with the outside world. But no Muslim government today, even if dictatorial or imperfectly democratic, remotely approximates the terror of Hitler or Joseph Stalin—regimes in which science survived and could even advance.

Another myth is that the Muslim world rejects new technology. It does not. In earlier times, the orthodoxy had resisted new inventions such as the printing press, loudspeaker, and penicillin, but such rejection has all but vanished. The ubiquitous cell phone, that ultimate space-age device, epitomizes the surprisingly quick absorption of black-box technology into Islamic culture. For example, while driving in Islamabad, it would occasion no surprise if you were to receive an urgent SMS (short message service) requesting immediate prayers for helping Pakistan’s cricket team win a match. Popular new Islamic cell-phone models now provide the exact GPS-based direction for Muslims to face while praying, certified translations of the Qur’an, and step-by-step instructions for performing the pilgrimages of Haj and Umrah. Digital Qur’ans are already popular, and prayer rugs with microchips (for counting bend-downs during prayers) have made their debut.

Some relatively more plausible reasons for the slow scientific development of Muslim countries have been offered. First, even though a handful of rich oil-producing Muslim countries have extravagant incomes, most are fairly poor and in the same boat as other developing countries. Indeed, the OIC average for per capita income is significantly less than the global average. Second, the inadequacy of traditional Islamic languages—Arabic, Persian, Urdu—is an important contributory reason. About 80% of the world’s scientific literature appears first in English, and few traditional languages in the developing world have adequately adapted to new linguistic demands. With the exceptions of Iran and Turkey, translation rates are small. According to a 2002 United Nations report written by Arab intellectuals and released in Cairo, Egypt, “The entire Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth the number that Greece translates.” The report adds that in the 1000 years since the reign of the caliph Maa’moun, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.8

It’s the thought that counts

But the still deeper reasons are attitudinal, not material. At the base lies the yet unresolved tension between traditional and modern modes of thought and social behavior.

That assertion needs explanation. No grand dispute, such as between Galileo and Pope Urban VIII, is holding back the clock. Bread-and-butter science and technology requires learning complicated but mundane rules and procedures that place no strain on any reasonable individual’s belief system. A bridge engineer, robotics expert, or microbiologist can certainly be a perfectly successful professional without pondering profound mysteries of the universe. Truly fundamental and ideology-laden issues confront only that tiny minority of scientists who grapple with cosmology, indeterminacy in quantum mechanical and chaotic systems, neuroscience, human evolution, and other such deep topics. Therefore, one could conclude that developing science is only a matter of setting up enough schools, universities, libraries, and laboratories, and purchasing the latest scientific tools and equipment.

But the above reasoning is superficial and misleading. Science is fundamentally an idea-system that has grown around a sort of skeleton wire frame—the scientific method. The deliberately cultivated scientific habit of mind is mandatory for successful work in all science and related fields where critical judgment is essential. Scientific progress constantly demands that facts and hypotheses be checked and rechecked, and is unmindful of authority. But there lies the problem: The scientific method is alien to traditional, unreformed religious thought. Only the exceptional individual is able to exercise such a mindset in a society in which absolute authority comes from above, questions are asked only with difficulty, the penalties for disbelief are severe, the intellect is denigrated, and a certainty exists that all answers are already known and must only be discovered.

Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or “butterfly-collecting” activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked.

Religious fundamentalism is always bad news for science. But what explains its meteoric rise in Islam over the past half century? In the mid-1950s all Muslim leaders were secular, and secularism in Islam was growing. What changed? Here the West must accept its share of responsibility for reversing the trend. Iran under Mohammed Mossadeq, Indonesia under Ahmed Sukarno, and Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser are examples of secular but nationalist governments that wanted to protect their national wealth. Western imperial greed, however, subverted and overthrew them. At the same time, conservative oil-rich Arab states—such as Saudi Arabia—that exported extreme versions of Islam were US clients. The fundamentalist Hamas organization was helped by Israel in its fight against the secular Palestine Liberation Organization as part of a deliberate Israeli strategy in the 1980s. Perhaps most important, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US Central Intelligence Agency armed the fiercest and most ideologically charged Islamic fighters and brought them from distant Muslim countries into Afghanistan, thus helping to create an extensive globalized jihad network. Today, as secularism continues to retreat, Islamic fundamentalism fills the vacuum.

How science can return to the Islamic world

In the 1980s an imagined “Islamic science” was posed as an alternative to “Western science.” The notion was widely propagated and received support from governments in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere. Muslim ideologues in the US, such as Ismail Faruqi and Syed Hossein Nasr, announced that a new science was about to be built on lofty moral principles such as tawheed (unity of God), ibadah (worship), khilafah (trusteeship), and rejection of zulm (tyranny), and that revelation rather than reason would be the ultimate guide to valid knowledge. Others took as literal statements of scientific fact verses from the Qur’an that related to descriptions of the physical world. Those attempts led to many elaborate and expensive Islamic science conferences around the world. Some scholars calculated the temperature of Hell, others the chemical composition of heavenly djinnis. None produced a new machine or instrument, conducted an experiment, or even formulated a single testable hypothesis.

A more pragmatic approach, which seeks promotion of regular science rather than Islamic science, is pursued by institutional bodies such as COMSTECH (Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation), which was established by the OIC’s Islamic Summit in 1981. It joined the IAS (Islamic Academy of Sciences) and ISESCO (Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) in serving the “ummah” (the global Muslim community). But a visit to the websites of those organizations reveals that over two decades, the combined sum of their activities amounts to sporadically held conferences on disparate subjects, a handful of research and travel grants, and small sums for repair of equipment and spare parts.

One almost despairs. Will science never return to the Islamic world? Shall the world always be split between those who have science and those who do not, with all the attendant consequences?

Figure 5

Bleak as the present looks, that outcome does not have to prevail. History has no final word, and Muslims do have a chance. One need only remember how the Anglo–American elite perceived the Jews as they entered the US at the opening of the 20th century. Academics such as Henry Herbert Goddard, the well-known eugenicist, described Jews in 1913 as “a hopelessly backward people, largely incapable of adjusting to the new demands of advanced capitalist societies.” His research found that 83% of Jews were “morons”—a term he popularized to describe the feeble-minded—and he went on to suggest that they should be used for tasks requiring an “immense amount of drudgery.” That ludicrous bigotry warrants no further discussion, beyond noting that the powerful have always created false images of the weak. Progress will require behavioral changes. If Muslim societies are to develop technology instead of just using it, the ruthlessly competitive global marketplace will insist on not only high skill levels but also intense social work habits. The latter are not easily reconcilable with religious demands made on a fully observant Muslim’s time, energy, and mental concentration: The faithful must participate in five daily congregational prayers, endure a month of fasting that taxes the body, recite daily from the Qur’an, and more. Although such duties orient believers admirably well toward success in the life hereafter, they make worldly success less likely. A more balanced approach will be needed.

Science can prosper among Muslims once again, but only with a willingness to accept certain basic philosophical and attitudinal changes—a Weltanschauung that shrugs off the dead hand of tradition, rejects fatalism and absolute belief in authority, accepts the legitimacy of temporal laws, values intellectual rigor and scientific honesty, and respects cultural and personal freedoms. The struggle to usher in science will have to go side-by-side with a much wider campaign to elbow out rigid orthodoxy and bring in modern thought, arts, philosophy, democracy, and pluralism.

Respected voices among believing Muslims see no incompatibility between the above requirements and true Islam as they understand it. For example, Abdolkarim Soroush, described as Islam’s Martin Luther, was handpicked by Ayatollah Khomeini to lead the reform of Iran’s universities in the early 1980s. His efforts led to the introduction of modern analytical philosophers such as Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell into the curricula of Iranian universities. Another influential modern reformer is Abdelwahab Meddeb, a Tunisian who grew up in France. Meddeb argues that as early as the middle of the eighth century, Islam had produced the premises of the Enlightenment, and that between 750 and 1050, Muslim authors made use of an astounding freedom of thought in their approach to religious belief. In their analyses, says Meddeb, they bowed to the primacy of reason, honoring one of the basic principles of the Enlightenment.

In the quest for modernity and science, internal struggles continue within the Islamic world. Progressive Muslim forces have recently been weakened, but not extinguished, as a consequence of the confrontation between Muslims and the West. On an ever-shrinking globe, there can be no winners in that conflict: It is time to calm the waters. We must learn to drop the pursuit of narrow nationalist and religious agendas, both in the West and among Muslims. In the long run, political boundaries should and can be treated as artificial and temporary, as shown by the successful creation of the European Union. Just as important, the practice of religion must be a matter of choice for the individual, not enforced by the state. This leaves secular humanism, based on common sense and the principles of logic and reason, as our only reasonable choice for governance and progress. Being scientists, we understand this easily. The task is to persuade those who do not.

Pervez Hoodbhoy is chair and professor in the department of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he has taught for 34 years.

References

  1. 1. P. Hoodbhoy, Islam and Science—Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, Zed Books, London (1991).
  2. 2. M. A. Anwar, A. B. Abu Bakar, Scientometrics 40, 23 (1997).
  3. 3. For additional statistics, see the special issue “Islam and Science,” Nature 444, 19 (2006).
  4. 4. M. Yalpani, A. Heydari, Chem. Biodivers. 2, 730 (2005).
  5. 5. Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries, Academic Rankings of Universities in the OIC Countries (April 2007), available at [LINK].
  6. 6. The News, Islamabad, 24 April 2007, available at [LINK].
  7. 7. For more information on the red heifer venture, see [LINK].
  8. 8. N. Fergany et al., Arab Human Development Report 2002, United Nations Development Programme, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, New York (2002), available at [LINK].

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Islam’s Path East: China

One of Islam’s main entry points into China was the Pearl River port of Quanzhou.

The majority of China’s Muslims are Turkic peoples living in the vast Xinjiang region of northwest China. The rest are mainly Hui – either descendants of Chinese converts to Islam or the offspring of Chinese intermarriages with Muslim immigrants whose appearance is distinctly Chinese. They live in sizeable communities in the former Silk Road oases of western and central China, in the southern province of Yunnan, and in the industrial cities and ports of the east. 

Contacts between Muslims and Chinese began very early. Arab merchants traded in silk even before the advent of Islam, and tradition has it that the new religion was brought to their port-city trading colonies by Muslim missionaries in the seventh century.

In 755, a contingent of 4000 soldiers, mostly Muslim Turks, was sent by the Abbasid caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur to help the Chinese emperor Su Tsung quell a revolt by one of his military commanders, An LuShan. Following the recapture of the imperial capital, Ch’angan (today’s Xian), these soldiers settled in China, married Chinese wives and founded inland Muslim colonies similar to those established by the traders on the coast. 

Islam made its first real inroads into what is now western China in the middle of the 10th century, with the conversion of Sultan Sutuq Bughrakhan of Kashgar and his subsequent conquest of the Silk Road oases of Yarkand and Khotan in southwest Xinjiang. 

During the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), China experienced spectacular economic growth. This stimulated expansion of the Muslim mercantile communities – particularly in Ch’ang – an, the eastern terminus of the Silk Roads, and in the port cities of Quanzhou and Guangzhou, where Muslims largely governed the internal affairs of their own neighborhoods, building mosques and appointing qadis to adjudicate according to Islamic law.

But although some Chinese merchants involved in international trade did become Muslims, other converts were few, and Islam in China was confined largely to Muslim immigrants and their descendants. Until, that is, the Mongol invasion overthrew the Song Dynasty and ushered in what Chinese Muslims regard as the “golden age” of Islam in China. Continue reading “Islam’s Path East: China”

Islam Without Muslims; Muslims Without Islam

“What happens if a woman goes to court here [Saudi Arabia]?” asked my father.

“What do you mean?” I counter-questioned.

What I mean is that if a woman goes to court is she treated as an individual or are her rights based on her gender?”

Depends on the case, I guess,” I said.

“Come on,” he interjected sarcastically. “Don’t start telling me that women are treated in the manner that has been commanded by God. According to His Law they should be treated as equals. You know that that’s not the case here.”

“You just have to look around at the horrific miscarriages of justice to know that that’s definitely not the case,” he emphasized. “My point is that as much as we try to find fault with the West, one thing is for sure: I would feel far more secure with their system of justice if I were a woman than I would with the one we have here.”

Yes, in a way you’re right,” I began, “but Islam did give women rights over 1,400 years ago that the so-called civilized world has only started to recognize recently.” Continue reading “Islam Without Muslims; Muslims Without Islam”

Correct Hijaab

 
 
 
  Question:

I wanted to know about a matter consurning the RIGHT hijaab
What is the proper hijaab? I mean so many differnt hijaabs are to choose from, And I have this friend from Denmark and she converted to Islam for a while now, and she’s pleased ( ALhamduli_Allah) and she want to wear the right Hijaab.
Could you please tell us wear it says that the hijaab SHOULD be LONG (JILBAAB) over the cheas! she really needs this! thank you

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

The conditions of hijaab:

Firstly:

(It should cover all the body apart from whatever has been exempted).

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

This aayah clearly states that it is obligatory to cover all of a woman’s beauty and adornments and not to display any part of that before non-mahram men (“strangers”) except for whatever appears unintentionally, in which case there will be no sin on them if they hasten to cover it up.

Al-Haafiz ibn Katheer said in his Tafseer:

This means that they should not display any part of their adornment to non-mahrams, apart from that which it is impossible to conceal. Ibn Mas’ood said: such as the cloak and robe, i.e., what the women of the Arabs used to wear, an outer garment which covered whatever the woman was wearing, except for whatever appeared from beneath the outer garment. There is no sin on a woman with regard to this because it is impossible to conceal it. Continue reading “Correct Hijaab”

Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence?

 
 

 

 

     

 

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Audio Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence?

Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence?

By: Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
IslamiCity* –

 

Toward Understanding Muhammad:
Some issues in peace and violence

 

In the aftermath of September 11 when President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington DC, both to reassure the Muslims in America and to create public awareness against prejudice, he remarked: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” Of course, Bush is, first and foremost, a politician and therefore his remarks should be taken with a grain of salt – actually, a lot of salt.

 

The American President was quickly rebuffed even by a number of his compatriots, who vehemently disagreed with the President’s diplomatic stance. “… a large number of foreign policy hawks — some of them with advisory roles in the Bush administration — have joined religious conservatives in taking issue with Bush’s characterizations. … they say the claim is dishonest and destined to fail.” [Conservatives Dispute Bush Portrayal of Islam as Peaceful] A pro-Israel, conservative or neocon, Daniel Pipes, sermonized that since calls for “Death to America” in 1979 in Iran, “… some 600 Americans have been murdered by militant Muslims. And still the U.S. government fails to ‘proclaim militant Islam our strategic enemy’ but instead goes along with blandishments about ‘good Muslims’ and ‘true Islam’ being a religion of peace.” [Militant Islam Is Still Enemy No.1]

 

In contrast to the above two categories of non-Muslim stance, there are two parallel camps within Muslims. One camp on the fringe has no qualms in taking a public position that Islam enjoins fighting and subduing the non-Muslims, and this is a sublime religious duty. They urge the Muslims to take up a combative struggle – armed if necessary – to resist the evil of the “infidels” (kuffar) and to facilitate Islam’s victory over others. They cite the example of the Prophet as to how under his leadership the world of the unbelievers was subdued.

 

Repudiating this group of extremist Muslims, there is the broader Muslim community that finds an echo of their own position in what President Bush said and they would like the world to know that Islam means peace and Islam is peaceful. Period. This group is very much troubled by the hate-mongering and violent posturing of the fringe extremists among Muslims. Thus, they would like to underscore and highlight the essential dimension of Islam, which in their view is peace.

 

So, is Islam essentially intolerant and violent or is it essentially tolerant or peaceful? The fact of the matter is that in presenting Islam as essentially peaceful or violent, there is a false and an unacceptable reductionism, and trying to cast Islam in such reductionist framework inevitably leads to either misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

 

A few premises

 

At the center of this whole debate are three aspects: the Qur’an, the life of the Prophet, and the historical experience of Muslims. But first let me identify a few pertinent premises.

 

(1) Muslims hold the Qur’an as the ultimate source of divine guidance. Even the Prophet could not have contradicted the Qur’an, let alone anyone else. (2) The Qur’anic verses should not be taken in isolation from other verses or from the Prophetic experience. (3) The Qur’anic verses, commands or otherwise, have different levels of priority; some are general in scope and are to be treated or upheld as norms, while other verses might be contextual, delimited or transitional. (4) Life is an integrated whole, and Islam is a guidance for the whole life in a comprehensive or holistic manner, where a sense or goal of balance is of supreme importance. And (5) life needs to be treated as life, which from the Islamic viewpoint should be understood as based on Fitrah, the innate human nature.

 

Some historical observations Continue reading “Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence?”

President Jefferson’s ‘Will’- a discussion

Jordanian Professor and Saudi Islamist Discuss President Jefferson’s ‘Will’

May 27, 2004 Al-Manar TV (Lebanon)

The Hizbullah television station, Al-Manar, hosted a discussion between Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Professor of Political Science at Jordan University, and Dr. Muhsen Al-‘Awaj from Saudi Arabia, Spokesman for the World Campaign for Resisting Aggression, in which they discussed the right of the Jews to reside in the Jerusalem. Dr. Rabab’a mentioned an alleged declaration by President Jefferson calling on the American people to expel the Jews. This false declaration is commonly attributed in the Arab media to “President” Benjamin Franklin. Following is a verbatim translation of excerpts from their discussion, broadcasted on May 27, 2004.

Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a: In the Pact of Omar, which was translated and signed by (Jerusalem archbishop) Sophronius and ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, Sophronius set one condition to ‘Omar – that no Jew will live in Jerusalem.

Meaning, this demand came from Sophronius, who was the Christian representative at the time, because he knew that only Islam would protect the holy places, while the Jews will be disloyal to them. The Pact of Omar, which was given by ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, the leader of the believers, to the residents of Aelia –its name then changed to Aelia – stated that the Muslims would protect their crucifixes and churches, that not one of them would be harmed and that no Jew would live in Aelia.

This is why today, when we appeal to Christian public opinion, we should say that we must revive the Pact of Omar and stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of this Jewish attack, which claims that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. There is an Islamic-Christian agreement that no Jew will live in Jerusalem.

Dr. Muhsen Al-‘Awaji: (Today, we face) a group of people, a gang, which gathered, or more accurately, which were purged from all the countries of the world. They have become loathsome in European eyes and that is why the Europeans vomited them onto our occupied land. They have become loathsome in the eyes of America and a moment ago the Doctor reminded us of the American president who advised the American nation to rid itself of the Jews so they will not enslave them.

So did the English and French who purged society – Excuse me for saying this but it’s their documented world view…

Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a: Yes, the Ghettos.

Dr. Muhsen Al-‘Awaji:…Saving their societies from the quote unquote Jewish “plague” amidst them. Our brothers from all over the Islamic world know that a Jew or a Christian from their country has the right to live there, just like the Arab Muslim has the right to live there. But, gathering those from Poland, Holland, Russia, the North Pole, the South Pole…gathering them here and forcing them like a cancerous tumor into the center of the Arab Islamic body…

They have no common language with those who surround them, nor do they share their political platform with their surroundings… And then they come with this arrogance and enslave the entire world in order to allow them to violate these rights and commit these official assassinations, approved by their highest ranking officials, and after all this we are told we must discuss their legitimacy? No!

Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a: Our brothers, the Christians in these countries, are being persecuted by the Western Christians, whose Christian faith has Judaized them. 200 years ago, -President Jefferson told the American people in an official speech, “If you do not expel the Jews from your land, they will enslave you and turn you into slaves in your own lands.” Today, in American cinema and television, they broadcast that whoever is against Israel is also against God. In films, produced by Jews, Our Lady the Virgin is depicted whoring with the soldier Panthera. This is an extremely grave issue.

If we open the Talmud, the Jews’ false book, we see that they say about Jesus that he was crazy, the deceiver of the Israelites, they tried to kill and crucify him, but they could not…

What If Iran Had Invaded Mexico?

5 April 2007
by Guest Blogger

by Noam Chomsky

Unsurprisingly, George W. Bush’s announcement of a “surge” in Iraq came despite the firm opposition to any such move of Americans and the even stronger opposition of the (thoroughly irrelevant) Iraqis. It was accompanied by ominous official leaks and statements—from Washington and Baghdad—about how Iranian intervention in Iraq was aimed at disrupting our mission to gain victory, an aim which is (by definition) noble. What then followed was a solemn debate about whether serial numbers on advanced roadside bombs (IEDs) were really traceable to Iran; and, if so, to that country’s Revolutionary Guards or to some even higher authority. Continue reading “What If Iran Had Invaded Mexico?”

Some Hadiths

On the authority of Abu Hurairah ra, who said that Rasulullah saw said : Allah swt said : ” I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself. And if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a greater length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed ” .

(Hadist Qudsi: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

The Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught the supplication: “O God, join our hearts, mend our social relationships, guide us to the path of peace, bring us from darkness to light, and save us from obscenities both outward or inward.” Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 367 .

The Prophet sws said : The ones who loved/practised my sunnah will be near to on Judgement Day. ( someone pls quote where)

Holy Prophet said:
Were it not for fear of troubling my disciples, verily I would order them to clean their teeth before every prayer.

God is pure and loveth purity and cleanliness.

Prophet Mohamed (sas) has said ,

“1.Every bone of men’s fingers and toes must give sadaqa every day the sun rises.

2.If one gives justice between two men it is sadaqa.

3. If one helps a man with his beast, loading or lifting his goods on it, it is sadaqa.

4.A good word is sadaqa.

5.Every step one takes towards prayer is saaqa.

6.Anyone removes anything injurious from the road it is sadaqa.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

History of Siamese stance to Terminate Islam in the South of Thailand

The beheading of a Buddhist village leader in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south has provoked worry across Southeast Asia. The murder committed by the Islamic separatists was believed to be in response to the deaths of 84 Muslims at the hands of Thai authorities. Although the level of violence is new, the conflict has a long history. In 1832, Thailand annexed the independent Muslim sultanate that now makes up its southern provinces, writes Bertil Lintner, and separatist tensions have persisted since then. Yet as modern telecommunications technology has enabled Islamic radicals to spread their message more easily, Thai separatists have also developed ties with Islamists across the region. For Thailand and its neighbors, the union of separatist and radical Islamic groups constitutes, Lintner says, “a much greater threat to regional stability than the local, isolated separatist movements of pre-Afghan war days.” – YaleGlobal

A New Battlefield in Thailand

Old grievances of an Islamic minority, reawakened in post 9/11 world, are set aflame by government brutality

 
 
On a slippery slope: Thai security forces subdue suspected Islamic militants. Many died of suffocation herded in trucks.
 

BANGKOK: In early November, a Buddhist village leader was beheaded in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south. It is too soon to say whether this incident was an isolated outrage or the beginning of a wave of revenge attacks for the October 25 deaths of at least 84 Muslims in the hands of Thai security forces. But the bloody incident in Narathiwat has exacerbated the already tense situation in the south – and caused a rift between Thailand and its Islamic neighbor and partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Malaysia. Many now fear that the Thai Buddhist majority may be drawn into a broader Islamic struggle. Continue reading “History of Siamese stance to Terminate Islam in the South of Thailand”

Muslims fooled by April Fool’s Day Internet Urban Legend- Answered

Sister Anisah of South Dakota

Recently a Young Sister’s Group passed on a questionable story to my daughter in which the claim was made that Fool’s Day had to do with the unthrowing of the Muslims of Spain. Being that my husband and I are history buffs & I have studied the history behind holidays we knew this “claim” to be false.

It is sad that it is “dangerous” for our young Muslims to even enter in to “religious” discussion on supposedly serious Muslim chat groups (even gender-segregated) due to the rampid gossip that is spread under the cloak of “truth”. This story is a clear example of how willing many Muslims are willing to make a “boogy man” out of others, rather than face the fact that the Loss of Spain was due to the corruption of the MUSLIMS who fought amongst themselves, as is often the case today in the Ummah. Continue reading “Muslims fooled by April Fool’s Day Internet Urban Legend- Answered”

Nikah Khutbah Translated

Thanks be to Allah that we praise Him, pray to Him for help; ask Him for pardon; we believe in Him, We trust Him; and ask Him to guard us from the evil of our own souls and from the evil consequences of our own deeds. Whomsoever He leaves straying no one can guide him. I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He has sent with truth as a bringer of good news and a warner.

Now, after Hamd-o-Salat, the best word is the book of Allah, and the best way is that of Muhammad, on whom be peace. The worst of all things are innovations and every innovation leads astray, and every thing that leads astray leads to Hell. Continue reading “Nikah Khutbah Translated”

PRESCRIPTION FOR SPIRITUAL ILLS

Hazrat Shibli (r.a.) went to a Hakim (Indigenous doctor) and asked if he could cure a patient who commits sins regularly.

Nearby a saintly person was sitting and collecting the straws and was murmuring: “Those who adore You (Allah) collect straws.”
He called Hazrat Shibli (r.a.) and gave him the prescription.

“Take the flowers of shyness, the fruits of contentment, root of submissiveness, young shoots of grief, leaves from the tree of truth, the bark of civility and the seeds of politeness. Start grinding them in the grinder of devotion. Add daily the tears of shame. Put this mixture into the pan of your heart and bake it in the oven of fondness. When ready strain it in the strainer of the purity of the heart, mix the sugar of sweet words, cook it on the high flame of love. When the mixture is ready cool it with the air of fear of Allah. Then use it.”

source: 20 Lessons for Muslim Women by Maulana Aashiq Elahi

Springs of Islamic civilization

Springs of Islamic civilization

By: J. L. Berggren

Al-Khwarizmi

The springs which fed Islamic civilization sprang from many lands. Symptomatic of this is the fact that the family of its greatest early scientist, the Central Asian scholar Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, came from the old and high civilization that had grown up in the region of Khwarizm. This is the ancient name for the region around Urgench in the U.S.S.R., a city near the delta of the Amu Dar’ya (Oxus) River on the Aral Sea.

Al-Khwarizmi served the Caliph al-Ma’mun in the House of Wisdom and is connected to a later caliph, al – Wathiq (842 – 847), by the following story told by the historian al – Tabari. It seems that when al-Wathiq was stricken by a serious illness he asked al-Khwarizmi to tell from his horoscope whether or not he would survive. Al- Khwarizmi assured him he would live another fifty years, but al-Wathiq died in ten days. Perhaps al-Tabari tells this story to show that even great scientists can make errors, but perhaps he told it as an example of al- Khwarizmi’s political astuteness. The hazards of bearing bad news to a king, who might mistake the bearer for the cause, are well known.

Al-Khwarizmi’s principal contributions to the sciences lay in the four areas of arithmetic, algebra, geography and astronomy. In arithmetic and astronomy he introduced Hindu methods to the Islamic world, while his exposition of algebra was of prime importance in the development of that science in Islam. Finally, his achievements in geography earn him a place among the ancient masters of that discipline.

His arithmetical work The Book of Addition and Subtraction According to the Hindu Calculation introduced the very useful decimal positional system that the Hindus had developed by the sixth century A.D., along with the ten ciphers which make that system, the one we use today, so convenient. His book was the first Arabic arithmetic to be translated into Latin, and its influence on Western mathematics is illustrated by the derivation of the word algorithm. This word is in constant use today in computing science and mathematics to denote any definite procedure for calculating something, and it originated in the corruption of the name al- Khwarizmi to the Latin version algorismi. Continue reading “Springs of Islamic civilization”

MIDDLE EAST: PAKISTAN HAS KEY ROLE IN SAUDI-SPONSORED ‘SUNNI-BLOCK’

MIDDLE EAST: PAKISTAN HAS KEY ROLE IN SAUDI-SPONSORED ‘SUNNI-BLOCK’


Karachi, 16 Feb. (AKI) – (Syed Saleem Shahzad) – Pakistan will play a pivotal role in a Saudi-devised strategy to build a strong Sunni block to counter the perceived growing influence in the Middle East of Shiites led by Iran, diplomatic sources in Islamabad have told Adnkronos International (AKI). The strategy includes the creation of a multinational Muslim peacekeeping force comprising troops from core Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) member states, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonimity. Also central to the initiative is a policy of rapprochement with Israel aiming to resolve the Palestinian issue, through United States mediation.

Foreign ministers from the core OIC nations – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and Malaysia – will meet in Islamabad next month to agree on a plan aimed at the peaceful and speedy resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the sources told AKI. Continue reading “MIDDLE EAST: PAKISTAN HAS KEY ROLE IN SAUDI-SPONSORED ‘SUNNI-BLOCK’”