The Mercy of God

Narrated `Umar bin Al−Khattab:

Some Sabi (i.e. war prisoners, children and woman only) were brought before the Prophet. A woman amongst them was milking her breasts to feed. And whenever she found a child amongst the captives, she took it over her chest and nursed it (she had lost her child but later she found him).

The Prophet said to us, “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).”

The Prophet then said, “Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

Volume 8, Book 73, Hadith #28)

The Ramp, the Judgment and the Earthquake

Not long ago, a friend of mine had this as her status on Facebook.

“When half dressed women with Muslim names parade in an enticing gait up and down the ramp, flaunting everything they’ve got and when Muslim men ogle at them defying anything and everything their Creator has to say about this bare-all, dare-all “mega” excitement and that too on Friday, then wait for an earthquake of unprecedented proportions.”

(Thoughts of a Muslim Sister about a Fashion show starting tomorrow)

Though God didn’t send any earthquake, but I wondered how could one just be so judgmental! No believing Muslim can deny that it is Allah (SWT) who causes all natural occurrences. But one fails to understand why God would send earthquakes to an entire country or a city only because a small number of women (crudely dressed) are walking down the ramp while a crowd, including men, is looking at them. And who are we to judge God’s behavior? God does as He wants. And it’s wrong to assess or predict His behavior according to human ideas of what made sense. To me God should send tremor when an innocent girl is raped, when an innocent girl is sold in marriage to an elderly man, when an innocent girl is killed in the name of honor. The same way, to someone else acts like telling lies, cheating, gambling, and consuming alcohol should attract God’s wrath. But these are all our own ideas of justice as God has not listed down things doing which may attract His fury of what kind.

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But then again, who are we to judge others to the extent that we even attribute coming of natural catastrophe to their obvious acts of ‘immodesty’? Do we forget that the very trait to judge others is quite opposite of what Islam teaches us to be? We only see one aspect of these models’ lives, that is catwalking, but we have no idea what good deeds they might be doing in their respective lives. Apparently they are doing something unislamic, but only Allah knows what’s outside and inside their hearts, He knows their good deeds might just be more than bad deeds to attract His forgiveness. Having negative opinions of others are baseless assumptions which often lead to backbiting, and backbiting can be in unspoken form too. Needless to say that Allah (swt) has equated backbiting to eating one’s dead brother’s flesh in Quran.

“O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 49: 12)  

Before we judge anyone, Muslims or not, we should look at ourselves first. I’m sure we can all find a number of things to improve upon. On the Day of Judgment we will be judged by our Creator, and each person will be responsible only for her or his own faith and actions. So we have no right to judge people. Let’s leave judgment only to Allah (swt).

“Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit; who goes astray does 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”. (Qur’an 17:15)

May Allah forgive us for any judgments we have made on others, and help us not judge others in times to come. [Ameen]

On our heads

“Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man was still slave in both these countries — slave of prejudice … slave of religious fanaticism … slave of barbarity and inhumanity.”

 ― Saadat Hasan Manto

What Manto said over 65 years ago, holds true here in Pakistan even today.

The killing spree of Shia (Hazara) community in Quetta continues without break, and without even a single arrest of the people who claimed responsibility. While the people, with some understanding of the dynamics and the role of politics, religion and state actors in this carnage, very well know about the perpetrators behind all this and about their helping hands, but a common citizen is blindfolded by conspiracy theories he loves to listen. Majority of the people do not accept the fact that all theses religious extremists are a reality and enemies of Pakistan, rather they see ‘foreign’ hand in all the mayhem taking place here. Nevertheless, when they are confronted with the religious extremist groups’ acceptance of carrying out such barbaric and savage acts, they then advocate apologetic reasoning such as the non-existence of extremists before 9/11, and that such acts of terrorism are reaction to the government’s pro-US policies, specifically being an ally in ‘war on terror’. Ironically though, they fail to realize that these sectarian killings have nothing to do with Pakistan’s alliance with the US, but rather with the ideology of a group of people who follow a particular version of Islam (sect) whose teachings declare Shias ‘Kafirs’ (non-muslims); and thus for them it becomes an act of ‘jihad’ and virtue to slay such people who, according to them, are harming their version of Islam.

Our obsession with religion has in fact made us less human. We seem to be more concerned with the condition of muslims living in non-muslim countries than the muslims and non-muslims living in our own country. The Shahrukh Khan episode brought a hell of Pakistani-muslimness out of us and suddenly we became convinced that the state of Muslims in India is deplorable and they are being victimized for being a minority. Our Federal Interior Minister asked Indian government to provide security to Mr. Khan, whereas an Ameer (Commander/Leader) of a religious organization went farther and, quite sarcastically, invited Mr. Khan to come to and live in Pakistan. However, both the minister and the ameer were silenced by Mr. Khan when he clarified his stance and said muslims were safe and happy in India. Interestingly, no other muslim country took note of state of muslims in India in general or Shahrukh Khan in particular. On twitter, I asked the same Ameer what country he’s going to advise the minorities of Pakistan (both muslim and non-muslim) to go to and live in, but haven’t yet received a reply from him. Almost all the religious organizations went rampant about condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru by throwing innumerable tweets, speeches, meetings and protests; however their condemnation of Shia massacre came in a single sentence, nothing more. A friend of mine was fooled into retweeting a tweet by one tweeple named ‘Sharia for India’ who claimed to have been beaten by BJP hooligans while going for namaz, and asked all tweeples to RT what he experienced to let the world know India’s real face. While one person told him that he was lucky to have been beaten only because in Pakistan people get killed for being Shia, most of my country fellows didn’t waste a second in hitting RT before having fallen flat on their faces only a few minutes later when that user mockingly said that he was a Hindu and was only trying to troll.

The hatred for India and America is overshadowing our love for our own homeland and our own people. There is a big fat hue and cry and rage if our army soldiers get killed by Indian or US forces; or civilians killed by Drones, but there is a pin drop silence if religious militants behead our soldiers and civilians. The apologists rather justify their acts of terrorism by saying that if Pakistan gets out of war on terror then such attacks will be no more. It is quite appreciable when all the Sunnis condemn the execution of Shias, however it is high time they should join in the protests and openly call for action against extremist outfits responsible, and become louder in criticism of LeJ, LeT, ASWJ, SSP etc etc.

God bless Pakistan!

Declaration: Before I may be accused of being pro-US/India/Israel, let me put this in crystal-clear words that; I strongly condemn US’ imperialistic policies and its invasion and slaughter of innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan, also the killings of innocent civilians in Drone attacks in Pakistan and anywhere in the world. I also condemn the illegal occupation of Palestine and Kashmir and homicide of their people by Israel and India respectively. I denounce every act of violence (state or otherwise) anywhere in the world against any people of the world. 

Exhibition of Religiosity

Disclaimer: I am not against performing rituals nor I judge any religious practice to be right or wrong.

The other day, kids were playing Cricket in the street in our neighborhood (like they always do). One kid hit a shot and the ball fell inside a home. The home had recently been decorated with green icicle lights in commemoration of the birth of our Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The kids rang the bell and a young bearded man came out on the door with ball in his hand. He twisted his face, rolled his eyes and told children (in a threatening tone) that he won’t return them the ball if it again got inside the home. Anyone who grew up listening to the stories of the prophet’s kindness and love with children could imagine how compassionately and kindly the prophet would have acted here. The incident made me realize that when it comes to doing anything that doesn’t require us to act justly, we leave no stone unturned in exhibiting our love and respect for our religion and religious personalities, whereas, at the same time, giving lip service to the injunctions of the holy book and the very teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in shaping our attitude and behavior towards life.

In our society the exhibition of religiosity has increased manifold. The emphasis on the performance of religious rites with all their pomp & show sans their very purpose has just gone overboard. During Ramadan/Ramazan, the month of fasting, we stay hungry throughout the day, offer prayers regularly but do very little [or nothing] to understand the very spirit of fasting and reform our personalities likewise. Whereas the month signifies the attaining spiritual strength and eating/drinking less, we however defeat the noble purposes of fasting every year. Traffic jams become more usual, the consumption of foods increases manifold accompanied with a significant push in prices.

The same kind of showoff is witnessed during the month of Hajj wherein the Great Sacrifice offered by the prophet Abraham is repeated by sacrificing the animals as required by the Quran. This one injunction of the Quran is so proudly acted upon only because all it requires is a couple of thousand rupees. That’s it. Though Allah says, “Their flesh and their food reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reacheth Him. Thus have We made them subject unto you that ye may magnify Allah that He hath guided you. And give good tidings (O Muhammad) to the good.” ( Quran 22:37) Otherwise no other injunctions are followed with such enthusiasm because they require reforming our character to attain piety; such as not to lie, not to cheat, to be just and fair etc. We buy the best animal at maximum price, where does the money come from is least bothered about.

Then comes the month of Muharram. On 10th of Muharram 61 (October 10, 680 AD) a The Battle of Karbala between Imam Hussain [peace be upon him], the grandson of the Prophet of Islam, and Umayyad ruler Yazid I took place wherein Imam Hussain was martyred along with his companions. The event also strengthened the earlier division among the muslims. The day is mourned throughout the world by muslims in general and Shias in particular. The first ten days of Muharram are accompanied with a number of ceremonies associated with the incident of the Battle of Karbala. The message and the spirit as to why Imam Hussain rose against Yazid (ruler of the time) and why he gave his life along with his family and companions are well forgotten and skipped over by the narrators of the event, all that remains today are customs.

There is no denying to the fact that religious rituals are necessary to keep our faith alive, but the spirit should never be lost, in fact the message of justice, compassion, humility, love, tolerance, forgiveness and kindness which is at the heart of every story should be put emphasis on.

Peace be upon you all.

Muhammad: The Prophet of Islam

This was not the first time that Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] was attacked. And this is not going to be the last time, I’m sure. In past, a number of insults were hovered at the most revered prophet of Islam, but as such cheap attempts proved to be more futile and were only successful in attracting the Muslim-rage and disrepute on account of being controversial, people who didn’t know Muhammad [pbuh] before, started reading about the Prophet of Islam and came to respect him in the end.

In response to a mediocre and el cheapo film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ which was based purely on lies about and hatred against the prophet and Islam, the thousands of Muslims around the world took, quite contrary to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh], to the streets and protested violently by damaging the properties of the persons (who even condemned the film) and even killing innocent non-muslims and Muslims alike (as happened in Libya, Pakistan, Egypt). On the other hand, a million more protested peacefully in different countries and on social media, they grabbed this opportunity to spread the word about Muhammad [pbuh] who he really was and the one they have known, loved and respected throughout their lives. The anger and furore was justified, however the violence can never be.

I also would like to tell you about the Muhamad [pbuh] I’ve come to adore.

“Hi father died six months before his birth and his mother passed away while he was just six years old. In his teens he did trade along with his uncle Abu Talib, and due to his upright character he earned titles of Al-Amin (trustworthy) and Al-Sadiq (truthful). Having heard of his noble persona and business acumen, a strong woman of Mecca asked him to work for her. When she proposed him, he married her even she was a widow and 15 years older than him. He did most of everyday life chores himself, mended his shoes and sewed his clothes. He was courageous and fearless at the same time kind and loving. He was moderate, open-minded and tolerant. Even when faced with the sharpest and most insulting questions, he always responded with thoughtfulness and compassion. He was the most respectful to women and more often than not asked men to be just in treating women. He treated all people equally, irrespective of their cast, creed and color. He had good relations with his neighbors who also happened to be Jews and Christians. Even during battles, he never allowed his men to fight with the non-combatants. He was beaten and exiled when he was helpless, but turned out to be merciful and forgiving to his worst enemies when he became stronger and powerful. “

Yes, an arid act by one person in no way represents the whole of America or Christianity or Europe, the same way Americans and Europeans alike should not blame Islam and put the entire Muslim population on hit list because of dull and absurd acts by few Muslims.

Calling Spade a Spade

In 2005 a French Court banned a clothing advertisement based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Christ’s Last Super” by ruling that the act was “gratuitous and aggressive act of intrusion on people’s innermost beliefs” because it depicted the female as Christ. Now, since it has become quite clear to the West that the sentiments of Muslims get hurt by such offensive acts in the name of freedom of speech, it is high time for the West to penalize anti-Islamism on the lines of laws against anti-Semitism. You see the West’s double standards in the name of freedom of speech while it’s a crime to mock The Holocaust because it hurts Jews, but it’s freedom of speech to make fun of the prophet and the book of Islam. This must change now.

This is what the Prophet of Islam said 1400 years ago:

The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr

He who deals unfairly with others can never become a useful member of the society

God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your mothers, daughters, aunts.

Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people.

A Muslim must not hate his wife; and if he be displeased with one bad quality in her, then let him be pleased with another that is good.

The most excellent Jihad is that for the conquest of self.

The strong man is not the good wrestler; the strong man is only the one who controls himself when he is angry.

For more, please read;

The Farewell Sermon

Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

The Life of Muhammad by Ibne Ishaq translation by A. Guillaume