Discovering the “Demons” of Islam: A Crash Course in Understanding the Djinn, From Multiple Perspectives.

First Posted: May 27, 2013 by LVCIFER (sharing his work) https://diabolicalconfusions.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/discovering-the-demons-of-islam-a-crash-course-in-understanding-the-djinn-from-multiple-perspectives/

Within my own research into the world of the paranormal, I began to start digging into anything I could to find out details in regards to malevolent hauntings and/or certain spirits. And at first, myself being Roman Catholic, obviously began to look inwards to my own religion for answers, but unfortunately, the topic of demonology pre-dates even my religion. So, my answer, it seemed, was to begin digging into other faith systems. I began to start studying the Hebrew religion of Judaism, and as you could imagine, that took up quite a lot of my time. Then, however, I came across something that made me take a step back, and reassess some patterns of thoughts that I had been forming.

This article is going to be a special one, because it is going to contain contributions from people who are more familiar with certain matters of faith than I am. They are not authors for the site, but simply people, both of which who choose to remain anonymous, who either have insight or personal experience in regards to this topic.

We are going to go in-depth the “demons” of the Islamic faith, the Djinn.

Now, I myself will openly admit that I am not particularly familiar with the Muslim religion, however, in the past few months, I have become increasingly interested in it from an academic point of view. You should also know that while this article is being published to coincide with the new year of 2013, I have been specifically researching this topic wince the year 2010, digging into forums, and weeding out people who I believed to be telling mistruths, etc., This article will be a collaboration between myself, sharing what I have learned, one other woman who has given her insight to this field from the point of view of a devout and faithful muslim, and a man, who, due to circumstances early on in his life with the Djinn, witnessed an honest-to-goodness exorcism of the Djinn, performed in Jordan. Both of these people have chosen to use the media of simple text to express themselves and offer their inputs, but this comes as the result of many phone interviews, facetime video calls, e-Mails and text messages, to make sure that during the fabrication of this article, I got every detail correct. In regards to their input, nothing has been changed, and every detail I included was given to me by these people. I have not changed a single thing, nor have I “beefed it up” to make it more entertaining or “commercialized”. When you read their contributions, it is 100% exactly how they intended for you to understand it.

With that being said, let me start off by explaining my understanding of the Djinn. I am going to be explaining this from the point of view of a Westerner, who is of Roman Catholic faith, and my views may not reflect those of Muslims or Hebrews. However, being that I have my hands into so many aspects of multiple religions, I personally feel that I have made some connections which others may argue and contest. Note that nothing I say should be taken as hard, concrete proof or evidence. I will state a great many facts, and then offer my insight to this, so please be warned.

For an extended view into what these entities are, you can watch videos by one of the authors who wrote a book or two on the topic, a Ms. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. Here are the links:

WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE DJINN?

From my understanding, the Djinn are sentient beings created by God/Allah. They were the masters of the Earth before mankind was, and it was taken away from them because God/Allah was displeased with how they were utilizing it. They do not remain on the same plane of existence as we are, and I will not even begin to try to tackle why that is. I do not pretend to know the answers to that, and anyone who does should be treated with skepticism.

The Djinn were beings, who were created from smokeless flame, and as such, are alleged to be extremely hot tempered. They are impulsive, intense, and very focused on their task at hand. At one point, they were the preferred species of God/Allah. As explained below by “Hana”, they were a vast and expansive race of beings. They engaged in much of the same function that we do: they had a purpose (“job”), they had families, they had communities and clans, and they had rulers (“kings”). One of these Djinn, named Iblis, forms a direct parallel to the Judeo-Christian Character of Haylel (הילל), otherwise known as Lucifer, or the Greek Phosphoros. The one main difference is that he was never an Angel. He was however, the most powerful of all of the Djinn, and he was even granted access to walk amongst Heaven “with the angels”, and he was also the only Djinn allowed to do this.

When God/Allah created man, Adam, he commanded all his angels and all of the Djinn to bow and kneel before this creation, and to love him. And at first, all did – except for Iblis, much like the story of Lucifer.

It is We who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis;

He refused to be of those who prostrate.

(Allah) said: “What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?”

(Iblis) said: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”

(Allah) said: “Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures).

Be thou among those who have respite.”

(Iblis) said: “Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way: Then I will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left. Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies).”

(Allah) said: “Get out from this, degraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all.”

So as you can see, Iblis, once again prideful and arrogant, rebelled against the desires of God/Allah, and was forever cast out of Heaven, but also given the opportunity to terrorize mankind as a test to see who was loyal to the holy ways of the Lord, and who would stray.

Now, on top of that, there are other correlations between the demonic, as well as the Djinn, and Angels. While in my opinion, encountering ANY angel would be a terrifying experience due to their dual-existence being some of the holiest of creatures but always having one wing dipped in blood to enforce the wrath and vengeance of God/Allah as well, I could imagine that encountering one of these Djinn, being bitter envious of mankind in general would be quite a horrifying experience.

There are different “classes” of the Djinn, with each one having unique identifying traits. Some of the notes I have taken would explain these, so I’ll just simply dive into it and explain what those classes are: to “simplify” the information, I will not be referring to them in their native language, I will be using the “western” definitions here.

WHERE DOES “AZAZEL” COME INTO THIS?

There have been numerous claims that the fallen angel Azazel (עזאזל) was actually the name of Iblis before he was distorted and cast from heaven. As a matter of fact, the book The Vengeful Djinn, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip Imbrogno, ISBN 978-0-7387-2171-2, pages 17 & 18 address this issue. Let me first say though, that I have heard this numerous times before this book published it, however, I will quote them, as they did a rather decent job of explaining this.

In some early Islamic accounts, Iblis was once a powerful angel named Azazel. The name “Azazel” means “God strengthens” and this angel may have originally been a Semitic god of shepherd’s flocks who became demonized as Abrahamic religions flourished. Azazel is associated with the ritual of scapegoating as an expiation of sin, as described in Leviticus 16. In verse nine, God tells Moses that his brother Aaron shall take two goats and sacrifice them: one is to the Lord for sin and the second is for AzazeI, to be presented live for atonement, and then sent into the wilderness supposedly to the demon. This reference to the wilderness has led to beliefs that Azazel was a demon of the desert. Coincidentally, the desert is also considered to be Iblis’ home when Allah permits him to enter our world.

In the apocryphal story The Apocalypse of Abraham, Azazel is mentioned as the angel of disgrace, lies, evil, wrath, and trials. He is the lord of hell, confined to earth by God because he became enamored with it. In Judaic lore, AzazeI figures prominently in folk tales, along with another fallen angel, Samyaza (sometimes spelled Shemihazah or Shemhazai). Azazel refuses to bow to Adam when presented to God and the heavenly hierarchies. Islamic lore also tells of Azazel refusing to bow to Adam, and God casting him out of heaven and changing him into Iblis as a result. Although the angelic origin of Iblis contradicts Islamic beliefs, it is still considered by some scholars as a possible origin for this rebellious spirit.

According to Islamic belief, the evil that exists everywhere is due to corrupt humans and djinn who have turned their backs on Allah. Demons, fairies, ghosts, demonic possession, and even sightings of extraterrestrial aliens are believed to be the work of djinn, or in some cases, spiritually corrupt humans who have joined Iblis. If we take into account the reality of the existence of djinn, we can understand the paranormal’s great diversity. Rarely do djinn present their true identity to us. Instead, they enjoy taking on many disguises. Many djinn merely play a harmless game with us for their amusement, but some have a more deadly agenda.

Stories about the djinn reveal a long history of perceived injustices and indignities from their perspective, creating valid reasons (in their minds) for many of them to plot against humanity. Believing themselves to be wronged by God in favor of human beings, some djinn have carried a deep grudge for millennia. Add to that the abuses they believe they’ve suffered at the hands of one of the few men to ever have dictatorial control over them – King Solomon. In order for us to understand the djinn and their feelings about humans, we must study both their past and present interactions with our race.

Further than that, not that this is any type of authority, you can also view the entry on Wikipedia for Azazel, where even in there, it states basically the same information as above, under the “Azazel in Islam” section. You can view that informationhere.

THE DIFFERENT CLASSES / VARIANTS OF THE DJINN

THE GREEN DJINN

The classes of the djinn or divided amongst many, the first and weakest being that of the green djinn. They are the youngest of them all, and are not actually green, that is just how they’re classified in levels of rank and power. They can do many things such as manipulate the physical universe, but they are all different. It would be the equivalent of the youngest, and the most naïve. They can be playful, vengeful, sometimes kind, and most of the time cruel. As with people, they have different areas of expertise and talent. Some are better at different areas of skill such as the sciences, math engineering, art and other things.

It is been said that the green djinn only enter our world because they are curious about us. It is like a temporary vacation, from their world. One of the more common Islamic beliefs is that they live in holes.

One of the worst things that a person can do is to somehow find a way to offend this hole. That means any littering, disturbance, urination, or any other type of offensive activity that involves this hole could eventually wind up leaving a person to severe emotional, spiritual, and physical woes at the hands of the djinn. It is also said that these holes, which these djinn live in, eventually lead into an entire subterranean network otherwise known as the djinn world. Others believe something similar, such as these holes are simply entrances to portals which will lead us into the world of the djinn. As stated in The Vengeful Djinn, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip Imbrogno, ISBN 978-0-7387-2171-2, it is believed that just to enter into one of these portals will bring you into a different plane of existence. A different dimension in which the djinn are allegedly the masters in control.

Throughout history, these entities have taken on many different shapes and forms. Some of those shapes all depended on what type of mood this entity was in at the time that it chose to materialize. The shapes include: dogs, elves, a fairie, and even in some instances, they were known to take on the shape and form of an angelic entity.

THE BLUE DJINN

Then, there is the next class up ladder, the blue djinn. They are also called the marid, but despite their jump in class, there are not very many of them. Surprisingly, they are considered by many to be the most powerful of all of the djinn. They are known for being extremely reclusive, and if given the choice, they would rarely if ever interact with the human race. It is said in is Islamic believes and folklore, that the blue djinn, As heinous as they are, are responsible for saving the entire race of the djinn in a battle between all of them and the red djinn. For those of you who do not know, the red djinn are a different class of entity, and we will talk about them soon. Just for inclusion in this section of the article, the red djinn are worshipers of the Islamic equivalent to the Roman Catholic devil, Iblis.

In terms of strength and power, it is said that the blue djinn are the oldest and most powerful of them all, with their strength lying on a scale just that below the strength and power of an angelic being.

It is also said that the blue djinn were involved in a war. A war against heaven. According to the Islamic religion, when Allah ordered them to leave the physical world because they had to submit it to Adam, the blue djinn resisted and put up arms. They decided that they were going to literally launch a war against the Angels, and fight for their right to stay within this physical world. In the end, it is said that this war lasted a millennium, and the Angels eventually overtook the blue djinn. Not all of them agreed to go quietly, however, and many of the blue djinn chose to stay in our world, with their clans.

As time goes on, the blue djinn sit and wait, quiet, and calculating, and as they get stronger, their only purpose it is believed is so that they can use that strength and engage in a second war with the Angels so that they can fight to regain and retain their ability to live in our world.

THE RED DJINN

The red entities seemingly have only one reason to exist: to bring forth the destruction and the downfall of humankind. In Islamic folklore and belief, these entities would be the closest thing to the Roman Catholic and Judeo-Christian demons. They have abandoned all previous ties to their leaders, their families, their clans, and their God, in order to follow Iblis. They are most commonly described as being either the voice of reason, or the voice of destruction. As a matter of fact, a very common depiction of this particular breed of entity, is the popular notion of having one demon sit on your shoulder, and one angel sit on your other shoulder, and throughout your life, at every action, one or the other of them will whisper in your ear and sway you to make a decision of either good, or bad.

It is also believed that these entities, being the closest to the demonic, throughout history have been confused with such. The issue is, they are known for appearing in the form of reptilian-like creatures, and because they have no allegiances to anyone or anything other than that of pure evil, they are also allegedly responsible for many things such as possession, physical illness and some severe/intense hauntings.

THE BLACK DJINN

Not much is known about these reclusive entities, but in one mention, it has been said that they are the leaders and the rulers of the blue djinn. They are also known to rule over other large clans and it may in fact be possible that they are kings or in the least, a ruling class of entity over others. As I said, not much is known about this particular entity. It may be so simple that there is only one black djinn, and that he is the ruler of them all. This is not as far-fetched as you would think. However, not much is known so it cannot be proven one way or the other.

There is one very, very famous legend, known as the Testament of Solomon. In this testament, at the side of King Solomon, there was a black djinn. King Solomon had complete control over this entity, and whenever a green or a blue djinn defied their orders, it was the black djinn’s responsibility to punish these entities. In any event, regardless of who or where these legends came from, you can view the Testament of King Solomon here.

The other thing that is note worthy, is that at the current time, with what little is known about these particular entities, it seems that no matter what their status is, they are very important amongst the food chain in the djinn world. They are in positions of power, and it is power that has been gained by the rule of an iron fist. This is not something that they are elected to, this is something that they seem to have deserved, possibly by birthright, possibly by the natural selection. Unfortunately, we just don’t know.

THE YELLOW DJINN

There are different types of classes as we mentioned above and as you can tell from the writing of this article, not much is known about very many of them, but the least known of all of them is the yellow class of djinn. Quite honestly, there is nothing that I can tell you about them. The issue is, is that they are reclusive not only from humankind, but from their own kind as well. They seem to be the hermits and the recluses of their species.

THE BEHAVIOR OF THE DJINN

Apparently, they are very sensitive entities. They take offense very, very easily. They are known for being vindictive, and if the situation arises, they will try to get revenge against anyone who engages in any activity against them regardless of what the or original intent was. For example, if a human being has the audacity to try to exorcise these entities from a person that they have possessed, these entities will literally take offense and even though the exorcism may be successful if the conditions are right, just like in Roman Catholic and Judeo-Christian faiths, they may leave temporarily, but come back with a much greater tenacity and a larger force. In Roman Catholic and Judeo-Christian belief, it is said that when a demon is exercised, if the demoniac does not do something to change their life and live for the better, then that demon will return and it will be seven times as strong as it was, and it will bring seven times as many demons with it then were originally present. This is interesting to me, because it shows such a mirror in the three different faiths. So I guess we could chalk this up to being one of the many similarities that the djinn share with the classical definition of a demon.

Another similarity that I have noticed, between these djinn and the Roman Catholic/Judeo-Christian demons is that while neither one of them can actually perform genuine miracles, what they can do is perform the illusion of a miracle. Meaning, that they can make everything seem as realistic as possible, and they can confuse everyone into believing that they had just genuinely witnessed a miracle, but in fact in the end it was all just an illusion designed to get them closer to their goal, whatever that may have been. Another famous example of what the Roman Catholic/Judeo-Christian demons are guilty of, in this regard, is sickness and disease. What they are known for doing, is they will intentionally get a person sick and cause all types of physical ailments, and then when the person is at their spiritual and mental breaking point, this demon will suddenly appear as their miraculous savior, and agree to make them “better“, in exchange for something. Usually, a grant of permission of some kind. Sometimes, it will even be so bold as to promise the person perfect health, until the day they die, in exchange for “a piece of their soul“, their entire soul, or just a declaration stating that they turn away from or abandoned God. So in essence, the game is very simple: they create the problem, and then show up to fix it. Once they do take away what they had given in the first place, they wind up looking like the good guy and someone that you can trust, and in the end you wind up getting screwed. This is Manipulation 101. And they are masters of it.

It is said that these entities can influence a person’s thoughts, and dreams simply by whispering into its ear. It has also been said that they can even aggressively enforce suggestions that eventually become actions from this person that they are oppressing. Well they cannot actively engage with the physical world, they have been known to do small and minor yet distracting things that could affect a person, especially during a critical moment. For example, a man can be cleaning a firearm in his home, and when he puts it back together, a very loud crash could be heard in his house that startles him, accidentally forcing his finger to pull on the trigger which would eventually cause his death and look like a suicide. They can also lightly influence the environment causing you extreme stress and lack of sleep. What do I mean? Imagine going to bed, getting under the covers, and preparing to fall asleep. Now just as you are about to fall asleep, imagine that you hear a noise in or outside your bedroom. Imagine a phantom footstep that walks across your door’s threshold, or someone clearing their throat in the corner of your bedroom where you know there is no person there. Imagine hearing a whisper, or a whistle sound from within the room that you are currently in. Your eyes show you that there is no one there, your nerves start to wind up, setting you on edge. Your sixth sense kicks in, and all you can do is sit there panicking, and getting ready to run like hell. Now, imagine this every single day, for months at a time. It would be safe to assume that you would be constantly tired due to your lack of peaceful sleep at night. This would drain you, and force you eventually to both your mental and physical breaking point. For whatever reason, this is exactly what their endgame is.

Also noteworthy, the symbol of an evil djinn is a camel. They appear in many dreams.

NOW, MORE ON THIS “POSSESSION” BUSINESS…..

As stated at the beginning of this article, the djinn have been known to take possession of a person. The exact reasons for why they do this or how they are allowed to do this are currently unknown, but the fact remains that many times, this does in fact happen, and it crosses over throughout multiple religions. What do I mean by this? Many times, the activities of a djinn in your home will be naively classified as having a “poltergeist” when it is not the case. The same goes for possession. Many times, people not of the Muslim faith will be undergoing the entire ordeal of possession, and often times, once it escalates to the point where the Roman-Catholic church is involved, they will send out an exorcist to conduct the rituals, but upon completing multiple exorcisms, there will be no effect. Usually after much investigation, and much time being expended, the Priest-Exorcist will conclude that the possessing entity is not one of the Roman-Catholic faith, and but either of the Hebraic faith or of the Muslim faith, and at that time, the Priest-Exorcist has to contact and involve the clergy of those respective faiths. It is not uncommon for Priest-Exorcists to work with an Imam or a Rabbi to evict the possessing entity from it’s victim.

One of the most interesting things about the possession involving these entities is the fact that they claim to enter the body, and then travel through the person while being in the blood. This is, of course, after a period of what the Roman Catholics/Judeo Christians described as “diabolical oppression“. Just like possession in other religions, these entities are responsible for causing all types of physical ailments, such as problems speaking, problems hearing, problem seeing, and other events such as the inability to stand up straight, or chronic pains. Anyone who is familiar with the topic of possession in any of the previous religions I had mentioned will know that one of the set signs are of such possession is the nonsensical and maniacal activity that happens from a person who can no longer control themselves. They will appear to be genuinely insane, such as tearing their clothes off, or laughing hysterically. There are reports of the possessed being known to dance wildly, and engage in extreme sexual promiscuity. These entities can also be responsible for uncontrollable fits, loss of control of bodily functions, spasms, paralysis temporary or permanent, and many other physical ailments as well. Other forms of emotional assault, much like the Roman Catholic/Judeo-Christian demon, involves a severe depression of the person which can cause long-term depression, and consistent thoughts of suicide. Another issue, is that these entities can also enforce their own will upon a person they are possessing, which could result in acts of violence and or homicide. In time, this form of inflicted insanity can be used as their weapon, and as stated above, can push a person towards all sorts of crime and dangerous activity.

In the event that you were ever possessed by a djinn, the first thing that you would have to do is to try to figure out which religion this entity believes in. Much like people, they have a complex belief system. They are not bound to one particular religion, as they have been granted free will. Just like people, they can believe in many different forms of religion or belief. So, for example, if this entity believes in the religion of Islam, obtaining the help of a Priest–Exorcist will be useless to you, because this entity does not believe in the God that this agent is trying to force it out in the name of. The same goes with the Jewish religion. If this entity believes in the Jewish religion, that Priest or Imam would not be able to expel this particular entity from a person, because that would not be appealing to the faith of the actual entity. Once you obtain an idea of what faith this entity believes in, then you would have to get a type of religious clergy from that particular religion to take care of this problem. And, as with most cases, that cannot be guaranteed to be successful, but your chances would greatly increase.

A QUESTIONABLE GENESIS?

Now, scholars have argued over the fact of whether or not the Prophet Muhammad was visited by an Angel, or a Djinn at first. This is in reference to the event that awakened him to begin acknowledging the visions that he was experiencing, and writing them into what eventually became the holy Quran. The Prophet Muhammad was known for going off into caves and meditating, and engaging in trances. Djinn are known cave-dwellers, and many of the Muslim religion believe that caves house portals into the realm that the djinn reside in. The story is as follows:

In the year 610, while in the cave one night during Ramadan, Muhammad was visited by a “creature” who ordered him in an authoritative, almost threatening voice, “READ!“. Muhammad replied to the creature, “I do not know how to read.”

The creature grabbed him with such a great force that he almost suffocated. It released him, and repeated the same command three times. On the third time, the creature gave him what later became the opening lines of sura 95:

Recite in the name of thy Lord who created,

Who created man of blood coagulated.

Read! Thy Lord is most beneficent,

Who taught by the pen,

Thought that which they knew not to men.

Now, even further, this “entity” followed the Prophet around for some time after this event, and this is the rest of that story:

Tradition holds that after issuing its commands, the creature disappeared. Muhammad went to sleep and awakened in the morning to hear words that seemed to be written on his heart: “O Muhammad, you are the Apostle of God and I am Jibril.”

According to the Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya, a biography of the Prophet by Ibn Kathir, written in the fourteenth century, Muhammad ran from the cave, all the way back to Mecca, trembling with fear. He ran into his house and found his wife and implored her, “Cover me, cover me.” His wife asked him what was the matter. He told her of the creature he encountered in the cave and said he had to leave because he feared for his life. It is not clear at this point whether Muhammad thought the creature was a djinni or angel, but it was obvious he was very afraid of the creature that had accosted him.

From historical accounts of djinn and demons, we know they often make people do things they don’t want to by threatening them or using physical force. In Biblical accounts of angel encounters, people often feared the angels because they usually appeared when God was unhappy with a person; the angel was sent to chastise or punish. In the Arabic world, however, djinn would have been even more feared than a powerful angel.

Muhammad was able to see the creature from any angle he looked, implying it was multidimensional in nature. However, there is no record of an exact description of the entity. Muhammad was skeptical of the creatures true identity. He saw it on several occasions after the first encounter, but no one else could see it. The creature followed him from the cave and often appeared in his home.

Muhammad’s wife, Khadija, wanted to discover the true identity of the creature and so told her husband to inform her when the entity was present. When the creature finally appeared, she asked Muhammad to sit on her left thigh and asked him, “Can you still see the creature?”

He replied that he did. She then threw off her veil and asked Muhammad to sit on her right thigh. Khadija then asked him, “Can you still see the creature?” He replied, “No, it is gone.” Khadija then told Muhammad, “Be firm, by the name of Allah, he is an angel and not a demon.”

Islamic scholars interpret the test above as meaning that an angel would not stay to look at the uncovered part of a female body, but a demon would. Also, the creature was visible only when he sat on her left thigh and not her right. The pre-Islamic people believed that the proper sequence of things was from right to left. If the creature was also visible on the right, this meant to them that it would have been moving from left to right and against the balanced movement of the universe and against the will of Allah. Only evil djinn can do this – angels can’t. This test convinced Khadija that the creature was an angel, and not just any angel, but the Archangel Jibril. Muhammad still remained skeptical.

The Angel “Jibril” is also known in Judeo-Christian religion as “Gabriel”. And in this situation, since even the Muslim religion/community has decided that this creature was not a djinn or demon, it is to be taken as fact (for the intents and purposes of this story) that in this one case, an Angel did indeed appear in the form of a demon, or a djinn. Muhammad’s validity was questioned by his own people ferociously after this encounter, because they believed that this creature was indeed a djinn, and not an Angel, and accused him of retroactively fitting this part of his story to be told as if it were an Angel, to “clear the air“, I guess.

An interesting note though, is that many of the people in the day of Muhammad believed that he was in fact djinn-possessed due to his hobby of traveling to caves and meditating in an area that was known to house the djinn.

BUT WAIT, THEY CAN SHAPE SHIFT?!?

Yes. You read that correctly. They can change forms, and manipulate their appearance, just like demons can, in order to accommodate their purposes. One of the most identifying traits of the Djinn is the fact that ultimately, they are extremely insidious, and mischievous. They have been referred to throughout history as being “tricksters”, and they “get off” on completely confusing the minds of mankind. Many, many cultures throughout history have their own version of the “trickster”, but as time will attest, this is an instantly identifying feature that should begin to raise red flags if you begin to experience these types of things.

This is also one of the reasons that Muslims caution their children not to throw water, rocks, sticks, or other projectiles at black dogs or cats, because those are some of the preferred forms of the transforming djinn. They are also known famously for taking on the forms of birds, goats, mice, and even humans, depending on their agenda. Extremely interesting to note, the djinn cannot take the form of the Prophet Muhammad, but they can take the form of other prophets, especially in dreams.

Most of the time, however, the particular class of djinn that takes on a habit of using shapeshifting are the young, “green” djinn. Make no mistake though, when I refer to them as young, I mean that they are the youngest of the djinn, but they can still be hundreds and in some cases thousands of years old, and even though they are the “weakest” of the djinn, they are stronger than any human, and should be treated with caution. And some of the things that these types of djinn enjoy doing are haunting people who they feel deserve it for whatever reason. They will appear as apparitions in the middle of the night, if the opportunity arises, they will distort your vision, affect your reality, they will terrorize you through mirrors or other reflective surfaces, they will take on the form of animals to scare the hell out of you, they will appear as shadow figures, and so on. They will engage in such activities as banging on the walls, giving the appearance of a disembodied voice, whisperings, having particular items move from one place to another unexplainably, etc. They will also appear as creatures which are grotesque and intimidating in order to scare the living hell out of you. A rather common belief is that the djinn have seen how people react to hauntings, so they mimic the activities to further conceal their identities, and enforcing their existence of being “the hidden ones”.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DJINN, ANGELS, AND DEMONS

In the book The Vengeful Djinn, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip Imbrogno, ISBN 978-0-7387-2171-2, they offer a rather interesting take on the connection between the djinn and other paranormal entities. While this book is not widely accepted by Muslims, the connections that they offer are interesting to say the least. The chart that they offer can be found on pages 122 and 123, and has been re-created below:

DJINN ANGELS DEMONS
Have gender Have no gender Shape shift their gender
Live for thousands of years, eventually die into oblivion Live until the end of the universe Live longer than humans, eventually die and wither to their primordial state
Had original ties to angels Closest beings to God Had original ties to angels
Outcasts from God’s favor Enjoy God’s favor Outcasts from God’s favor
Inhabit dirty, polluted places Inhabit heavenly realms Inhabit dirty, polluted places
Eat and drink Do not eat or drink Eat and drink
Organized in families and clans Organized in hierarchies of powers and duties Organized like the military
Have sex with each other Do not have sex with each other Have sex with each other
Have sex with humans; can impregnate Some have sex with humans; can impregnate Have sex with humans; can impregnate
Shape shift to any form Shape shift to any form Shape shift to any form
Usually invisible unless they choose to be seen Usually invisible unless they are directed to be seen Usually invisible unless they are directed to be seen
Follow their own wills; some of the will of Iblis; converted follow the will of Allah Follow the will of God Follow the will of Satan
Duty is to self and own agendas; some to Iblis; some to Allah Duty is to glorify God Duty is to Satan to subvert humans
Do not speak directly to God Speak directly to God Do not speak directly to God
Deceitful, Trickster nature Messengers of God Deceitful, Trickster nature
Opportunistic interference in human affairs No intervention without direction from God Opportunistic interference in human affairs
Cause illness, bad luck, misfortune Provide support and help Cause illness, bad luck, misfortune
Possess humans and animals Do not cause possession Possess humans and animals
Can enter dreams Can enter dreams Can enter dreams
Knowledge of present and past but not future Knowledge of past, present, and future Knowledge of past, present, and future

So, as you can see, the similarities are striking and sometimes shocking. While there are more similarities and differences, the above chart provides a great “quick reference” visual to help you out in the event of a quick, basic question.

While there are many other connections that people have suggested or proposed, such as the connection to the djinn and extraterrestrials, ultraterrestrials, and other entities, I will not be including those due to the official content of this blog being almost exclusively dealing with matters of religious faith. And now, with that being said, that is the basic, Westerndescription of the Djinn. Now, I will include the beliefs of the Muslims directly from one of their faithful, a woman who only wants to be referenced as “Hana”. The below is in her own words, with no changes to her original contributions except to otherwise format it to “flow” with the rest of the article.

A WORD FROM THE FAITHFUL

The Mischievous Djinn: A Muslim View of the Paranormal

In recent years, thanks largely impart to the work of “PRS” (the Paranormal Research Society) and the show ‘Paranormal State’ on the A&E television network, there has been a growing discussion of spirituality and the paranormal. People are now asking questions about the origins of the experiences they have had, and the things they are seeing. After all of the “debunking” is done and evidence has been collected, sometimes you are still left with something that cannot be explained with known science. In those cases, we are left to wonder: is it the spirit of a dead loved one, a demon, a nature spirit (“elemental spirit”), or something else? How do you live with it, get rid of it, or understand it? The answers almost always return to the person’s religious beliefs. Each of us will carry our own answers to those questions based on what we believe in. What one person will accept as a deceased loved one coming by to say “hi” is viewed as a dark and evil entity trying to trick mankind. The reality though is that we may never know the complete answers. But, that does not stop us from seeking that knowledge.

I find it fascinating to learn from other people’s view points and sources of information. It is a comparative religions study; a mix of attempting to break modern misconceptions, going back to scriptural texts, exploring deep rooted mythologies, and opening new doorways of understanding; all to try to answer the questions which still elude concrete answers. To offer one more view point, one more color palette in the mosaic of religious understandings, I am sharing the teachings of my own faith: Islam.

As Islam is an Abrahamic religion (monotheistic religion that worships the universal God of Abraham), there are many similarities with Judaism and Christianity. Yet, for all that is so similar, there are always details that are very different. One of the most obvious areas of similarity and difference is right at the beginning of the story… the creation of intelligent life.

The Three Intelligent Beings

The Quran (the Muslim book of Scriptures) tells us that God (Allah) created three beings of great intelligence: Angels, Djinn and Humankind.

The Angels are described as beings made from pure light, most likely the first of God’s creations. In the Quran, Angels are said to be completely obedient to God as they have no free will. Thus, Angels are assigned all sorts of tasks according to the will of God.

Djinn, however, are described as creatures made of smokeless fire. These are the first of God’s intelligent beings to be given the gift of free will. Like Angels, the Djinn exist on a separate plane of existence from Humankind. They can see and interact with us, but we cannot see them in their natural state.

Humankind was the third of God’s intelligent creations. It is described that God made Adam from the mud of the earth and also bestowed him with the gift of free will.

Iblis and the Resentment of Humanity

When God created Adam, God commanded all of the Angels to bow down to Adam and all did except for Iblis. This part gets a little confusing for many. This basic statement is given twice in the Quran (Quran 2:34 and Quran 18:50). In both, Iblis is listed as being with the Angels during this event. In the first passage (Quran 2:34), Iblis is said to be proud of being among the disbelievers who have disobeyed God. In the second of the two (Quran 18:50), Iblis is said to be (or become, depending on the translation) a Djinn. Most scholars accept Iblis as being a Djinn as he obviously, from both passages, had free will and was thus able to choose to disobey the commands of God.

Because of this disobedience, Iblis is sent away from God and cursed to Hell for eternity. He begs God for a respite to his punishment and is granted the time to wait until Judgment Day. During his time on Earth waiting for his final judgment, Iblis is granted permission to test Humankind to sin.

Basically, this is an Islamic version of the Judeo-Christian story of the Fallen Angel (Lucifer), but in this version the culprit is Djinn rather than Angel. Because so many people correlate the story of the Fallen Angel with Lucifer, Lucifer is a common translation for Iblis. However, the Biblical scriptures do not assign any name for the Fallen Angel, so there is some debate. I have recently read from several sources that Samael, Azazel, and other names have also been connected to the Fallen Angel story. As I am not a scholar, so, I will not attempt to argue one way or the other. These are just the facts.

But, from this beginning, Iblis holds anger toward God and Humanity, in much the same way that a middle child will show resentment toward their parents and new baby sibling. But, the anger grows even more so for Iblis as he is punished for his disobedience. And like the story of the Fallen Angels in the Bible, many chose to follow Iblis in this show of anger and new purpose to tempt Humankind to sin.

In this rebellion against God’s command, Iblis then earns the title of Shaytan (Satan). In Arabic, Shaytan means “mischievous, insolent or rebellious one”. It is a title given to all who rebel against God. Thus, all of the Djinn that follow Iblis are also called ‘Shaytans’. Though the word is actually a direct version of the English word Satan, in context it is much more similar in use to the word Devil, with Iblis being THE Devil, and his minions are little, lesser devils. And it is here, knowing the Devil and his minions, that we then venture into the world of paranormal experiences.

Djinn, Demons and the Paranormal

Remember here that Djinn are beings with free will. Not all Djinn follow the leadership or desires of Iblis. There are Djinn that are said to be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or other religions. Some are nice toward Humankind while other are ambivalent or mischievous. But, many have chosen to follow Iblis and show malice and/or malevolency toward Humans. But, what does any of this mean for the paranormal?

Well, let’s look at their role in the religious mythology of Islam as well as their capabilities.

Djinn are said to fall into five (5) main categories: dwellers, souls, devils, evil spirits, or strong spirits (rough translations of the actual categories). The “dwellers” (also called haunters) are those that choose to live with or around Humans, and these are the weakest. Think of these ones as the basic ghost hauntings. The “souls” are the ones that specifically attach themselves to children. I understand these to be more of the “imaginary friend” types. The “evil spirits” are stronger than the typical “devils” and just as malicious in intent. The strongest are the “strong spirits” (Ifrits), and these are possibly the most famous for being written in the “Jinni of the Lamp” stories from the Arabian Nights. They are strong, ill-tempered and rather slow in intelligence.

The “devils” are a bit more interesting. As we commonly hear from some Christian groups, many believe that there are no human spirits wandering the earth, but rather they are all Demons or Angels and nothing in between. From there, you have some people who have expressed a view that Demons are the Fallen Angels that chose to follow the “Fallen Angel” that was caste out of heaven. Others say that Demons are creatures created by Satan to do his bidding. I certainly will not argue either way on that one either. But, in both cases, Demons are viewed as evil beings doing the bidding of Satan and working to tempt Humankind into sin. In this way, the “devils” (Shaytans) of the Djinn are holding the same role as Demons.

Now, as I mentioned before, Djinn are beings that God created of smokeless fire. They exist on a separate plane of existence from us so that they can see and interact with our world, but we cannot see them unless they choose to show themselves. The very name “Djinn” basically translates to “those who are hidden or concealed from sight”. They quite literally can live in our homes, our places of work or anywhere else and we would not know unless they choose to make themselves known. Because they are naturally not very fond of Humanity, they tend to prefer to live in places with less Human traffic, such as forests, cemeteries, warehouses, abandoned buildings, attics, closets, and even restrooms.

Djinn are reported to be able to move objects in our world without us seeing them, as they are exceptionally strong, can live for hundreds, sometimes even thousands of years, can learn several languages, are incredibly fast, capable of speaking to us or making noises that we cannot see where they originate, able to show themselves to us as they choose (changing shapes to look like animals, deformed beings, or even like Humans depending on their goals), with some that are able to fly, able to invade a Human’s mind and affect their dreams, or speak to them personally, even affecting a person’s health.

Right here, you can see why this can be interesting in the field of paranormal research. These beings are connected to reports of object levitation, phantom noises, disembodied voices, strength, speaking in tongues, looking like deformed creatures or dead Aunt Betty, and possession… and they tend to live in cemeteries, attics, and other creepy abandoned places. So yeah, this seems to sum up a large percentage of paranormal reports.

Impact?

Should we fear Djinn? Well, honestly, it seems that those Djinn who are ambivalent about Humankind are simply not as likely to interact with us. So, those that do interact are mostly going to be those of strong feelings one way or the other. And as even the nice ones can get pissy if they feel insulted or if they fall in love with a human (yes, there are reports), then I would say you just don’t want to interact with them. Better to be safe than sorry.

Can Djinn control us? No. Djinn have been permitted by God to interact with us and to tempt us. They cannot force anyone to do something they don’t want to do. But they can, however, much like the demons of the Judeo-Christian world, take possession of our bodies.

Can Djinn be controlled? Yes. The Quran tells stories of King Solomon controlling the Djinn and forcing them to work for him. They helped him court the Queen of Sheba, build palaces and more. There are many other reports of controlling Djinn, but it is mostly seen as witchcraft and thus shunned by most Muslim communities. However, there is still the common use of Quranic verses being carved or painted on walls, amulets, blue clothing, and other things being used to try to keep Djinn away. That in itself is an attempted form of control.

Once again, you can read the ‘Testament of Solomon’ in it’s entirety HERE.

Can we exorcize Djinn? Yes. As with many religions where possessions are reported, there are Islamic exorcisms. However, it is interesting to remind everyone here that Djinn can be of any religion. Some possessions can occur where the Djinn doing the possessing is not of the same faith as the person they possess. This can complicate things when the exorcist tries to remove them in the name of X, Y, or Z faith and the Djinn does not acknowledge their authority, based on the faith of the individual Djinn conflicting with that of the holy person conducting the exorcism. This is, however, very rare. Most possessions tend to be by Djinn who are serving Iblis. They do not follow a monotheistic religion as they have rebelled against God. In those cases, it is the power of God himself that casts them out. Remember, they most likely believe in God, as they are choosing to defy him. So, a Priest, a Rabbi, or an Imam could all effectively exorcize the Djinn through strong faith and the will of God.

There are a lot of other interesting facts and folklore stories of Djinn to talk about. But, I hope this helps everyone to understand just what Djinn are and how they relate to the paranormal. If you would like to learn more about Iblis or Djinn, I would suggest some of the sources listed below at the end of the article:

SO, YOU’VE BEEN POSSESSED BY A DJINN….

We touched upon this a little bit higher on in this article, but we didn’t go into too much detail about this, because what it all boils down to is the fact that there is not an incredible amount of information that is offered to people outside of the Islamic faith. For thousands of years, the Djinn have been successful in staying hidden from the prying eyes of mankind, and it is this exact reason why most people – those who have not come into contact with them – only pass on verbal stories of them, oral tradition, folklore and superstition. I personally know that I have not given all of the details I couldhave given, because ultimately, I feel that it would be straying off the topics and by delivering more statements and facts, they would only raise more and more questions, much like in the topic of demonology, and this article would be written with no end in sight, as it would be constantly updated indefinitely. So in regards to Djinn possession and exorcism, I decided that instead of writing about suppositions and guesswork, I would attempt to get the story straight from the horse’s mouth. I have conducted interviews with a few people, and listened to their stories. There is one interview that will be posted here, as an update to this article in the near future, but let me tell you, “chilling” is the proper word to use for this descriptive encounter.

Even further than that, there are quite a few YouTube videos depicting what is allegedly an authentic Islamic exorcism of the Djinn. While I cannot verify the authenticity of said videos, I can state that just as with Catholic and Hebrew exorcisms, information such as this is extremely hard to come by, if not completely impossible. Video of such an event – authentic video – is a rarity that you should be considered lucky to come by. Here are a quick few that you can take a look at:

CONCLUSION

After everything is said and done, as with most things involving faith, no one can tell you what to believe. These entities are manipulative, vindictive, playful, mischievous, envious, vengeful, irrational, violent, and most importantly, powerful. There are very specific ways on how to remove one of them from your home, life, or body, but in each one of those situations, it is extremely plausible that on their way out, they will do something to severely damage you, as a last act of defiance. These are not entities to be played with, and I certainly do not recommend summoning them to do your bidding, as things almost always turn out badly. There are literally so many things that I opted not to include in this article, as I stated above, because it can all be found out via your own research. Such things could potentially be dangerous to the reader who becomes excited at the things the djinn can do for the amateur conjurer. I did not go into the magic they possess, or how they can affect someones lives if you can “properly control them”, as King Solomon did. These are things that I have left out with good reason, and I hope that you, reader, can understand that.

There is no denying that these entities seem to have an uncanny similarity to the demons of other religions. They share too many of the same traits to be ignored, or to be simply discarded. While the fact remains that the djinn are not the same entities as demons, their trickster nature allows them to portray themselves as demons by simply mimicking them perfectly. Since the Djinn were never angels, they could never properly be referred to as demons. Many people will generally refer to them as “demons” to avoid taking the time to properly explain what and who they are. Unfortunately, I myself have been in this exact situation, where I had to dumb myself down, and simplify the terminology so that people could understand better, but I hated referring to the djinn as a demon. This is my response to that, because from this point on, whenever I am asked what the djinn are, I can refer them to this article. And now, so can you. Once again, I truly hoped that you enjoyed learning about this elusive and intense collection of entities that have been around much longer than we have. And also, please take the time, if you are genuinely interested in the topic, to read some of the books and resources listed below. They are literally chock full of knowledge and information.

FURTHER READING:

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Medical Prescription

Meaning to get a rifle for a while now. A high powered sniper rifle with an equally powerful scope, so I can see the look in the eyes of my prey, the moment the bullet hits their forehead. You should get one too, all of us should. We should also get accesories of battle fatigues, hunting knives, handguns, the works. Why? Why the hell not?

Then its practice, practice and some more practice. No need to practice on dumb targets or bottles, there’s plenty of crows for our benefit. If you miss, just keep practicing till you start seeing some blood oozing from your prey’s body parts. Armed and dangerous Bangladeshis should then proceed to any border town and there are many on the menu. Get a comfortable position, stock it with the essentials and start shooting anything Indian that moves. The hunt is on, it’s open season for us too. Haven’t you heard, it’s now illegal for Bangladeshis to sit idle when their fellow countrymen are being killed left, right and center. It’s illegal to be an inactive spectator and its specially illegal to feel helpless to oppression & injustice. Our elected officials are too busy lining their pockets and shipping it abroad, so stop being naive thinking that its their job. The Army is too busy making money also; check out the Trust Banks, Sena Kalyan Trust, (Destiny 2000) & the UN Peace keeping missions. I don’t want to get started with the criminals.. i meant the Police Force. They are too busy to think about lil’ ol’ you.. the common, helpless, innocent man/woman! So wake up and make your own bed, breakfast & coffee, your maid isn’t gonna clean your house for you.

If you want something done right, then do it yourself. Get yourself some machines of destruction, for the sake of defense if offense is not your cup of tea. Why? Have you looked at the newspapers recently or for a decade or so? Take a sabbatical from the world of social media, parties, hollywood, tv serieses and glamour and bite into reality. There is no security in your country. You are more llikely to die of unnatural causes at home, on the roads, in Masjids or in public places than naturally dying in bed. The Police might kill you or a speed-freak driver or your servant or a politician or even a businessman or even a student leader. It’s open season on you, because the population has boomed & life expectancy is at its highest, thus you are just another statistic. No one cares, not even the ones you pay with you taxes to protect you! So what do you do? Buy a weapon today or become a dead statistic.

Protest peacefully! haahaa, what a joke! The government goons will sweep onyou with machetes & barettas while unarmed, civilian you get a good beating or give your life on the streets. Protest with a gun and they’ll sit up and take notice. Protest by killing a corrupt cop a day or better yet a government official but the best targets would be a politician. Kill a politician a day to keep anarchy away! ACT NOW!

Australia Muslim school rejected

From the BBC

Anti-Islamic immigration slogan on protester's hat

The New South Wales town does not have a large Muslim population

Authorities in an Australian town have rejected proposals to allow an Islamic school to be built there.

Councillors for Camden, a small town on the outskirts of Sydney, unanimously voted against the proposed school for 1200 pupils.

The councillors said they based their decision solely on planning grounds, citing an internal report about its environmental impact.

The proposed development had met with fierce local opposition.

Camden’s authorities received some 3,200 submissions from the public about the school and only 100 in favour.

Tensions reached their height last November when two pigs’ heads were left on the site of the proposed school. Pork products are forbidden for consumption according to Islamic dietary laws. Continue reading “Australia Muslim school rejected”

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.

What if Rajiv Gandhi hadn’t unlocked the Babri Masjid in 1986?

This article first appeared in the online version of the newsmagazine
‘Outlook India’ (issue dt. 23 August 2004) at the URL
http://outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20040823&fname=UCol+Koenraad&sid=1

In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave in to Muslim pressure in the Shah Bano affair. Overruling a secular court�s decision that the repudiated wife Shah Bano was entitled to alimony from her ex-husband, he enacted a law abolishing the alimony provision in conformity with the Shari�a. Since India, unlike secular states, already had religion-based Civil Codes, this concession merely brought the minor matter of alimony under the purview of the prevailing arrangement. More importantly, it prevented riots.

Only months later, Gandhi restored the balance by giving the Hindus something as well: he ordered the locks on the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid in Ayodhya removed. Until then, a priest had been permitted to perform puja once a year for the idols installed there in 1949. Now, all Hindus were given access to what they consider as the birthplace of Rama, the prince posthumously deified as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Fundamentally, this decision didn�t alter the Ayodhya equation. Architecturally, the building was and remained a mosque, while functionally, it had been and continued to be a Hindu temple. That is why in my opinion, not taking this decision wouldn�t have changed the Ayodhya developments except in their timing. The different players, their strategies and goals, and their resolve to pursue these, all remained the same. The Babri Masjid Action Committee and the Vishva Hindu Parishad would have gone about their �business� just the same.

However, the VHP would have been forced to continue pushing the rather petty demand for removing the locks, rather than move on to the more ambitious and more mobilizing next step of planning the construction of a new temple. Most probably, the BJP would likewise have reaped smaller dividends from such a campaign. In 1989, it might not have jumped as high as 86 seats. Conversely, Congress might not have lost the North-Indian Muslim vote to the Janata Dal. In 1989, it could have remained just strong enough to cobble together a coalition rather than leave the initiative to the unwholesome and unstable Janata-BJP-Communist combine. So, at the level of party politics, Rajiv Gandhi�s decision may have made a big difference. Continue reading “What if Rajiv Gandhi hadn’t unlocked the Babri Masjid in 1986?”

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”

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.

Fears for daughters’ rights lead some Sunnis to adopt Shiaism

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Fears for daughters’ rights lead some Sunnis to adopt Shiism
Vast difference in inheritance formulas causes many couples to convert – and not everyone approves
 
By Agence France Presse (AFP)

 

Ines Bel Aiba

Agence France Press

BEIRUT: Nada had no choice. The Sunni Lebanese woman decided to become a Shiite because that branch of Islam guarantees that her daughters will one day be her sole heiresses.

“If I became a Shiite it was not out of conviction,” Nada told AFP. Had she not converted, the girls’ uncle would receive the bulk of her inheritance when she died, in line with Sunni laws.

Shiites, a minority community in Islam, have sometimes been at odds with the Sunnis in the Arab world, but in Lebanon conversions between the two branches are easy and mostly done for practical purposes.

In Lebanon, religious tribunals rule on marriage, divorce and inheritance. For both Sunnis and Shiites, women receive one-third and men two-thirds of an inheritance.

Problems arise when a Sunni couple only has girls. They would inherit just a small part of the assets, while the larger part of the inheritance would go to the closest male relatives – grandfathers, uncles or cousins.

One solution for Sunni couples in such a situation is to become Shiites, as the sect’s religious regulations allow daughters to be the sole heiresses in the absence of male offspring.

Sunni couple Hassan and Sana Tawil became Shiite about 30 years ago because they had two daughters.

“We saw atrocious things happening in the family, such as an uncle who wanted to take everything from a cousin. It made an impression on us when we were children,” Hassan said.

They may be Shiites on paper but the Tawils remain deeply Sunni in practice.

 “I stayed profoundly Sunni,” said Sana, confirming that she raised her daughters “in line with Sunni values.”

“Even famous Sunni politicians became Shiites for the same reason,” she explains, citing Riad Solh, who was prime minister at the time of Lebanon’s independence in 1943 and who had five daughters.

In line with Lebanon’s confessional political system, the country’s prime ministers are Sunni – although at least four of them became Shiites because they did not have sons.

Like other couples in the same situation, the Tawils went to a Shiite court, where they converted before a sheikh who, they said, seemed to be very aware of the real motives behind their conversion.

“The sheikh looked at me and asked: ‘Do you have children?’ I said yes,” recalled Sana.

“He said: ‘How many?’ I said two. He asked: ‘Boys?’ I said no.

“Then he just looked at me and nodded. And I became a Shiite,” the 63-year-old woman said with a smile.

Sheikh Mohammad Noqari, director general of Dar al-Fatwa, the highest Sunni religious authority in Lebanon, confirmed that some Sunnis were becoming Shiites – but expressed disapproval.

“It is true that some Sunnis are doing this,” he said. “But if someone converts from one Muslim confession to another for material reasons, it is not really correct.”

But for Sheikh Jaafar Fadlallah, from the Shiite Sharia Islamic Institute, converting is “an issue of personal choice.”

“Nothing should prevent a Muslim from converting to the  branch that suits him best,” Fadlallah said.

Shiite authorities say that about 350 Sunnis become Shiites every year.

According to sociologist Marlene Nasr, the ramifications of such decisions are not always pleasant. “There are sometimes cases where people are ostracized” after converting, she said, “but not by the religious authorities – rather by their own families.”

Talal Khodari, a lawyer specializing in family legal affairs, said such conversions were “common,” although often “not accepted and not taken very well” in Lebanese society.

He also said that the issue sometimes causes additional family problems because male relatives feel that they are being accused, by implication, of being willing to take what rightfully belongs to their female relatives.


Copyright (c) 2007 The Daily Star

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”

Pagans as Patriots: Freedom vs. Prejudice

The U.S. Air Force recently released new data indicating that Pagans (sometimes called Wiccans) have nearly 1,000 registered members, more than Muslims or Jews. Of course they should have their own chaplain in the military since there are Pagan adherents serving their country. Pagans are as entitled to having their religious needs met as are Southern Baptists. Religious freedom is religious freedom is religious freedom. That cannot be said too frequently today.

Paganism is very poorly understood. It is sometimes called “the Old Religion” as it claims to be a revival of indigenous religious traditions violently suppressed by Christianity as it spread throughout Europe. Contemporary Pagans or Wiccans celebrate diversity and put a high premium on personal responsibility and not doing harm. Feminists such as Feminists have been prominent in contemporary Wicca or Paganism and emphasize the repressed Goddess traditions and the spirituality of women as expressed in witchcraft.

Paganism has an important role to play in American religious culture as it explicitly regards women as capable of embodying the sacred. It has been my personal experience that conservative Christianity in particular regards all women, regardless of their faith, as vaguely Pagan. Christian conservatives do not value women’s religious leadership as highly as that of males. Women are called the “weaker vessel” and considered less capable of embodying the sacred. This is why women are not ordained by Catholics and conservative Protestants. Women are deemed incapable of “imagining Christ” despite the fact that Genesis 1:27 clearly states that both female and male are created in the image of God. Continue reading “Pagans as Patriots: Freedom vs. Prejudice”

The original sin in Islam

According to Wikipedia

Unlike Christianity, which teaches that all the children of Adam are sinful for Adam’s sin, Islam teaches that all humans are innocent by birth and they become sinful only when they consciously commit a sin. Islam regards the concept of “original sin” and the need for atonement by God Himself – via dying on the Cross – as a pure invention of those who came after Jesus Christ, declaring themselves as Christians.

Another important point to bear in mind about the Islamic concept of sin is that one man’s sin cannot be transferred to another; nor can the reward due to a person be transferred either. Every individual is responsible only for his or her actions, for God is never unjust. This is made clear in the following in Surah 17, verse 25:

  • {Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit: who goeth astray doth so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We punish until We had sent a messenger [to give warning].}*

[edit] Excerpts from Qur’an

Is it certain that it was Adam and not Eve who was tempted? Irrespective of this, both are forgiven together, the concept being that Man and Woman were created equally, by God, of the same material and therefore have equal rights to redemption.

This episode is mentioned in the Qur’an in several places. Amongst them are:

  • But the Satan made them both fall from it, and caused them to depart from that (state) in which they were; and We said: Get forth, some of you being the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time. 2:36
  • But the Shaitan made an evil suggestion to them that he might make manifest to them what had been hidden from them of their evil inclinations, and he said: Your Lord has not forbidden you this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals. And he swore to them both: Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you. Then he caused them to fall by deceit; so when they tasted of the tree, their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden; and their Lord called out to them: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Shaitan is your open enemy? They said: Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers. 7:20-23

Adam and Eve are forgiven by God after they repent:

  • Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful. 2:37

Therefore, the idea that the sin propagates to their offspring is categorically refused by Muslims, citing verses such as:

  • Say: What! shall I seek a Lord other than Allah? And He is the Lord of all things; and no soul earns (evil) but against itself, and no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another; then to your Lord is your return, so He will inform you of that in which you differed. 6:164
  • Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of its ability; for it is (the benefit of) what it has earned and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought: Our Lord! do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; Our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us, Our Lord do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people. 2:286

That is to say, all children are born without sin in the state of purity.

Muslims challenge Christians’ use of Cordoba mosque

 

Europe Features

By Sinikka Tarvainen Jan 3, 2007, 8:29 GMT

‘; var PageContent= ‘Cordoba/Madrid – Few buildings are as emblematic of Europe\’s Muslim past as the Great Mosque in Cordoba.

\nThe southern Spanish city was once the capital of Moorish Spain, where the mosque was promoted as the third Islamic pilgrimage site after the Kaaba of Mecca and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

\nDeclared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1984, the stunning mosque pays tribute to the architectural and artistic achievements of Muslim Spain, which also shone as a beacon of science and scholarship in 10th-century Europe.

\nCordoba residents still often call the building \’mezquita\’ (mosque), though it has in fact been used as a cathedral since the 13th century when Christian troops conquered the city from the Moors.

\nA mysterious dim light typical of Catholic churches now surrounds the forest of pillars ending in red-and-white-striped arches, which has been compared to a Muslim tent in the desert.

\nA Catholic altar, a choir stall and chapels have been erected inside, mingling with Islamic features such as the mihrab or prayer niche.

\nSo who does the building, with a prayer hall measuring 23,400 square metres, belong to?

\nIs it the heritage of Arab-Berber-Spanish Moors, who ruled large parts of Spain for some 800 years and for whom emir Abd ar-Rahman I started building it in the 8th century?

\nOr does it belong to Christians, who completed their Reconquest of Spain from the Moors in 1492 and whose King Charles V financed the mosque\’s definitive conversion into a cathedral in the 16th century?

\nUntil recently, few Spaniards questioned the Catholic Church\’s exclusive use of the building, but the arrival of some 800,000 mainly Moroccan Muslim immigrants over the recent years has raised new questions about the sanctuary.

\nThousands of Spaniards have also reclaimed their Muslim roots, converting to Islam in cities such as Granada, once a Moorish stronghold.

\nMansur Escudero, a convert who heads Spain\’s Islamic Board, prayed in front of the mosque recently to claim Muslims\’ right to use it for prayer.

\nThe board has written to Pope Benedict XVI, proposing that the mosque be turned into an ecumenic temple where Christians, Muslims and representatives of other religions could pray together and \’bury past confrontations.\’

\nIt has sent a similar letter to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

\nSpain\’s Islamic organizations have distanced themselves from Osama bin Laden\’s call on Muslims to \’reclaim Al-Andalus,\’ the traditional name for Moorish Spain.

\nThey condemned the 2004 Madrid train bombings, staged mainly by Moroccan Islamists, which killed 191 people.

\nThe mosque, a building with an \’enormous symbolic power,\’ could show the way for a \’universal spirituality,\’ Audalla Conget, secretary of the Islamic Board, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone interview.

\n\’Spain could be the key that opens the door to peace,\’ he says, recalling the Moorish period when Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in a relative harmony.

\nAfter the Reconquest, however, Spanish identity was largely based on a militant brand of Catholicism as a sign of differentiation from Islam.

\nIt is only recently that Spaniards have begun toning down traditions which could be offensive to Muslims, for instance removing a statue of Saint James \’the Moorslayer\’ from Santiago de Compostela cathedral.

\nSome villages have modified traditional plays or spectacles in which \’Christians\’ kill \’Moors.\’

\nRicardo Blazquez, the head of Spain\’s Episcopal Conference, initially showed sympathy towards the idea of Muslims praying at the Cordoba mosque, but the conference quickly issued a statement saying he had not authorized any Islamic prayers at the cathedral.

\nCordoba bishop Juan Jose Asenjo rejected the Islamic Board\’s request, saying joint use of the temple would confuse believers and promote religious indifference.

\nThe Vatican has rejected earlier petitions by Muslims to pray at the Cordoba mosque, but Conget was hopeful that Benedict XVI would have a more favourable attitude.

\nThe Cordoba bishop\’s negative answer contrasts with \’interesting gestures\’ by the pope, such as praying at an Istanbul mosque, he said.

\nA spokeswoman at the Cordoba bishop\’s office declined to comment, saying the office had \’nothing to add\’ to what the bishop said earlier.

\n© 2007 dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur‘; PrintArticle();//–>

Cordoba/Madrid – Few buildings are as emblematic of Europe’s Muslim past as the Great Mosque in Cordoba.

The southern Spanish city was once the capital of Moorish Spain, where the mosque was promoted as the third Islamic pilgrimage site after the Kaaba of Mecca and the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Declared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1984, the stunning mosque pays tribute to the architectural and artistic achievements of Muslim Spain, which also shone as a beacon of science and scholarship in 10th-century Europe.

Cordoba residents still often call the building ‘mezquita’ (mosque), though it has in fact been used as a cathedral since the 13th century when Christian troops conquered the city from the Moors.

A mysterious dim light typical of Catholic churches now surrounds the forest of pillars ending in red-and-white-striped arches, which has been compared to a Muslim tent in the desert.

A Catholic altar, a choir stall and chapels have been erected inside, mingling with Islamic features such as the mihrab or prayer niche. Continue reading “Muslims challenge Christians’ use of Cordoba mosque”

Islam’s Claim on Spain

The white minaret of the new Great Mosque of Granada doesn’t overshadow a nearby church but is nonetheless a testament to Spanish Muslims’ pride in their history in “Al Andalus,” the region of southern Spain now known as Andalusia

GRANADA, Spain – Across a valley of fragrant cedars and orange trees, worshipers at the pristine Great Mosque of Granada look out at the Alhambra, the 700-year-old citadel and monument to the heyday of Islamic glory.

Granada’s Muslims chose the hilltop location precisely with the view, and its unmistakable symbolism, in mind.

It took them more than 20 years to build the mosque, the first erected here in half a millennium, after they conquered the objections of city leaders and agreed, ultimately, to keep the minaret shorter than the steeple on the Catholic Iglesia de San Nicolas next door.

Cloistered nuns on the other side of the mosque added a few feet to the wall enclosing their convent, as if to say they wanted neither to be seen nor to see.

Many of Spain’s Muslims long for an Islamic revival to reclaim their legendary history, and inaugurating the Great Mosque last year was the most visible gesture. But horrific bombings by Muslim extremists that killed nearly 200 people in Madrid on March 11 have forced Spain’s Muslims and non-Muslims to reassess their relationship, and turned historical assumptions on their head.

“We are a people trying to return to our roots,” said Anwar Gonzalez, 34, a Granada native who converted to Islam 17 years ago. “But it’s a bad time to be a Muslim.”

Spain has a long, rich and complex history interwoven with the Muslim and Arab world, from its position as the center of Islamic Europe in the last millennium to today’s confrontation with a vast influx of Muslim immigrants. Continue reading “Islam’s Claim on Spain”

Does the Quran or Muhammad promote violence?

 
 

 

 

     

 

1


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?”

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”

Why I am saying sorry for London’s role in this horror

The state failure to issue an apology for a crime as monstrous as the slave trade diminishes Britain in the eyes of the world

Ken Livingstone
Wednesday March 21, 2007
The Guardian

Next Sunday marks the bicentenary of the abolition of one of history’s greatest crimes – the transatlantic slave trade. The British government must formally apologise for it. All attempts to evade this are weasel words. Delay demeans our country. Recalling the slave trade’s dimensions will show why. Conservative estimates of the numbers transported are 10-15 million; others range up to 30 million. Deaths started immediately, as many as 5% in prisons before transportation and more than 10% during the voyage – the direct murder of some 2 million people.

Conditions imposed on survivors were unimaginable. Virginia made it lawful “to kill and destroy such negroes” who “absent themselves from … service”. Branding and rape were commonplace. A Jamaican planter, Thomas Thistlewood, in 1756 had a slave “well flogged and pickled, then made Hector shit in his mouth” for eating sugar cane. From 1707, punishment for rebellion included “nailing them to the ground” and “applying fire by degrees from the feet and hands, burning them gradually up to the head”.

When in 1736 Antigua found there was to be a rebellion, five ringleaders were broken on the wheel, 77 burned to death, six hung in cages to die of thirst. For “lesser” crimes, castration or chopping off half the foot were used. A manual noted: “Terror must operate to keep them in subjection.” Continue reading “Why I am saying sorry for London’s role in this horror”

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”