JUST GUIDER IS ABOUT MONOTHEISM, ETHICS, SPIRITUALITY, SCIENCE & PEACE
According to Oxford Dictionary; one meaning of ‘Just’ [adjective] is based on or behaving according to what is morally right and faifighting for a just cause. The verb ‘guider’ is from French for ‘guide’ meaning; lead, direct, steer, shepherd, pilot. Hence “JUST GUIDER” is equivalent of “JUST GUIDE” i.e. Morally right guide leading to the correct path for spiritual, moral, ethical and physical peace.
Those who call themselves Muslims while simultaneously disowning political aspects of Islam are in a strange dilemma: they do not want to leave the fold of Islam and they do not want to fulfill its rights. Instead, they choose to talk around the matter and find a way out of their collective obligations as Muslims by finding scapegoats. By Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal
A very large number of Muslims now openly express disenchantment with Islam. This is a global phenomenon: one can witness it in Islamic Republic of Iran as well as its name sake republic called Pakistan just as easily as it is apparent in the geographical region where Islam first appeared on the world scene to the shocking bewilderment of the custodians of the two sanctified houses. These men and women are not angry young men of a bygone era; they are mature, responsible adults in their middle ages and beyond. Most of them are educated professionals, although a small minority comes from working classes.
This disenchantment with Islam is expressed in many ways but it mostly takes the form of expressing a strong disillusionment with “political Islam”. It targets the character of men and women who do politics in the name of Islam: the so-called Islamists of Turkey; bearded men of Pakistani politics, the “Ruhanis” of Iran—as the Islamists are called in Iran—and gilded, often fat, and always self-proclaimed kings, emirs, princes and princes of the Arab lands.
During a recent visit to Iran, I asked the professor in a famous university: would you despise and disown wealth because most rich people are corrupt? He looked at me in astonishment and when he grasped the meaning of my question, he explained that it while it is true that he cannot equate Islam with the character of mullas, yet, he cannot ignore the fact that he is being watched for his religious obligations. “If I do not go to the mosque for my noon prayers, because I am busy in the lab, it does not mean that I do not pray; I take time to pray in my office. But the point is: why are they watching me? Why do I not have the free choice to practice or not to practice?
“You do have the choice,” I said, “as far as religion is concerned; there is no obligation on anyone, because Islam is a matter of choice, there is no compulsion in religion,” I quoted verse 256 of Surat al-Baqra, but explained that it means that no one is forced to take Islam as religion, but anyone who proclaims the two testimonies of faith, comes under obligation of fulfilling the rights of religion, otherwise, he or she is either a hypocrite who has pronounced the two shahadas or is simply a sinning believer. This much he granted. Honesty demands that one fulfills the rights of one’s beliefs.
But those who call themselves Muslims while simultaneously disowning political aspects of Islam are in a strange dilemma: they do not want to leave the fold of Islam and they do not want to fulfill its rights. Instead, they choose to talk around the matter and find a way out of their collective obligations as Muslims by finding scapegoats.
While it is true that many mullas of Iran have become corrupt and most Pakistani politicians who have been politics in the name of religion since the early years of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are inefficient, corrupt, and have often served as stooges of the dictators, but how does it absolve the self-proclaimed liberals of their duties? Or do they not consider themselves part of the collective Ummah or do they not believe at all in the Qur’anic concept of Ummah of the believers?
Where do they stand in terms of their political beliefs and practices as Muslims? Why do they not show their commitment to a worldview based on political thought that stems from the Qur’an? Why do they, instead, seek refuge in some imaginary “liberalism” or “humanism” which does not exist anywhere?
The worst case is that of intellectuals who are Muslim by faith, but utterly lost in the wilderness when it comes to the foundation of their “liberal” beliefs. Recently, when I proposed a Union of Muslim States (The News, February 03, 2012), the knee-jerk reaction was to label it an attempt to “take its subscribers back into an imagined past where Muslims were strong, united, uncorrupted and followed Shariah law” rather than look at the political, economic, and social benefits of the proposal. There was not an iota of idealization in the proposed Union; no one ever said that there was an imagined past when Muslims were uncorrupted. Indeed, they were strong; even a freshman course in history will teach that Muslims held the balance of global power from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries. Not only that, they were the most advanced in science and technology, and it was their gilds, artisans, and poets who stood head and shoulders above any other collectivity.
But that is not the point. The weight of such a proposal against an imagined “humanism” is simply naïve; and then to side track by giving an example of “Christian Aid”, which supposedly works universally across the globe whereas “Islamic Relief” does not, shows a cloudy mind which is trying to escape from the thrust of the original proposal. First of all, the spectrum of work of “Christian Aid” and “Islamic Relief” has nothing to do with the proposed Union. Second, both organizations are working within certain material constraints and they have their own goals and agendas which are decided by the people who have established them. Furthermore, to claim that “a Muslim who has a claim to piety and religiosity will be charitable for Muslims alone” is to deny history: numerous documented facts about the wealthy Muslims of Baghdad, Cordoba, and Saville would easily dispel that erroneous claim.
But what is most puzzling in the argument is that the proposed Union of Muslim States was taken indicate that my approach was somehow “narrow” and I was urged to be “more inclusive and humane”. What does it mean to be more inclusive and humane in a world dominated by brute force? Have these liberals not seen the face of humanism in next door Afghanistan during the last eleven years?
Let it be said, once again and even at the cost of repeating oneself: a political philosophy based on the Qur’an does not mean politics of a Fazalur Rahman and to live in denial because Fazalur Rahman is a corrupt politician is childish absurdity. No one owns Islam and the current global realities demand that those who have proclaimed that there is no god except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger are all responsible for the collective state of the world’s 1.6 billion believers. If a sizeable number of them, and especially the educated, cannot come up with solutions based on their faith, there is no hope for a turnaround in their individual or collective lives.
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During last few years, celebration of Valentine’s Day has become a social and cultural phenomena among Muslim societies. People have found it to be an easy way to express love to their near and dear one’s. They consider it to be a just social phenomena which has nothing to do with religion. The oldies and religious scholars are in habit of resisting every thing which is enjoyable. There is a need to look at this issue rationally. Enjoyments and pleasures are not forbidden in Islam, if they are with in bounds of morality. Allah says:
قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ ۚ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٣٢﴾ قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٣٣﴾
Say, `Who has forbidden the adornment of ALLAH which HE has produced for HIS servants and the good things of HIS providing?’ Say, `They are for the believers in the present life and will be exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus do WE explain the Signs for a people who have knowledge. Say:My Lord has only prohibited indecencies, those of them that are apparent as well as those that are concealed, and sin and rebellion without justice, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down any authority, and that you say against Allah what you do not know.
Valentine’s Day is a modified form of old Roman festival, which continued to be celebrated until after the Romans became Christian. This festival became connected with the saint known as Valentine who was sentenced to death on 14 February 270 CE. The non believers still celebrate this festival, during which immorality and evil are practised widely. It is not permissible for a Muslim to celebrate any of the festivals of the non believers, because festivals come under the heading of shar’i issues which are to be based on the sound texts.
“To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way”
[Quran; al-Maa’idah 5:48]
“For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow”
[Quran: al-Hajj 22:67]
— such as the qiblah (direction faced in prayer), prayer and fasting. There is no difference between their participating in the festival and their participating in all other rituals. Joining in fully with the festival is joining in with kufr, and joining in with some of its minor issues is joining in with some of the branches of kufr. Indeed, festivals are one of the most unique features that distinguish various religions and among their most prominent symbols, so joining in with them is joining in with the most characteristic and prominent symbols of kufr. No doubt joining in with this may lead to complete kufr.
Partially joining in, at the very least, is disobedience and sin. This was indicated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “Every people has its festival and this is our festival.” This is worse than joining them in wearing the zinaar (a garment that was worn only by ahl al-dhimmah) and other characteristics of theirs, for those characteristics are man-made and are not part of their religion, rather the purpose behind them is simply to distinguish between a Muslim and a kaafir. As for the festival and its rituals, this is part of the religion which is cursed along with its followers, so joining in with it is joining in with something that is a cause of incurring the wrath and punishment of Allaah. End quote from Iqtida’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (1/207).
He also said (may Allaah have mercy on him): It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in anything that is uniquely a part of their festivals, whether it be food, clothing, bathing, lighting fires, refraining from a regular habit, doing acts of worship or anything else. It is not permissible to give a feast or to give gifts, or to sell anything that will help them to do that for that purpose, or to allow children and others to play games that are part of the festivals, or to wear one’s adornments.
To conclude: the Mulsims should not do any of their rituals at the time of their festivals; rather the day of their festival should be like any other day for the Muslims. The Muslims should not do anything specific in imitation of them. End quote from Majmoo al-Fataawa (25/329).
Al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: If the Christians have a festival, and the Jews have a festival, it is only for them, so no Muslim should join them in that, just as no Muslim should join them in their religion or their direction of prayer. End quote from Tashabbuh al-Khasees bi Ahl al-Khamees, published in Majallat al-Hikmah (4/193)
The hadeeth to which Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah referred was narrated by al-Bukhaari (952) and Muslim (892) from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: Abu Bakr came in and there were two young girls of the Ansaar with me who were singing about what had happened to the Ansaar on the day of Bu’aath. She said: And they were not (professional) singing girls. Abu Bakr said: “Musical instruments of the shaytaan in the house of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?!” and that was on the day of Eid. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O Abu Bakr, every people has a festival and this is our festival.”
Abu Dawood (1134) narrated that Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to Madeenah, they had two days when they would play. He said: “What are these two days?” They said: “We used to play on these days during the Jaahiliyyah.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has given you instead of them two days that are better than them: the day of al-Adha and the day of al-Fitr.” This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
This indicates that festivals are among the characteristics by which nations are distinguished, and it is not permissible to celebrate the festivals of the ignorant and the mushrikeen (polytheists).
The scholars have issued fatwas stating that it is haraam to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
1 –Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked:
In recent times the celebration of Valentine’s Day has become widespread, especially among female students. It is a Christian festival where people dress completely in red, including clothes and shoes, and they exchange red flowers. We hope that you can explain the ruling on celebrating this festival, and what your advice is to Muslims with regard to such matters; may Allaah bless you and take care of you.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not permissible for a number of reasons.
1- It is an innovated festival for which there is no basis in Islam.
2- It promotes love and infatuation.
3- It calls for hearts to be preoccupied with foolish matters that are contrary to the way of the righteous salaf (may Allaah be pleased with them).
It is not permissible on this day to do any of the things that are characteristic of this festival, whether that has to do with food, drinks, clothing, exchanging gifts or anything else.
The Muslim should be proud of his religion and should not be a weak character who follows every Tom, Dick and Harry. I ask Allaah to protect the Muslims from all temptations, visible and invisible, and to protect us and guide us.
End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (16/199)
2 – The Standing Committee was asked: Some people celebrate Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth of February every year. They exchange gifts of red roses and wear red clothes and congratulate one another. Some bakeries make red coloured sweets and draw hearts on them, and some stores advertise products that are especially for this day. What is your opinion on the following:
1- Celebrating this day
2- Buying things from the stores on this day
3- Storekeepers who are not celebrating it selling things that may be given as gifts to people who are celebrating it?
The clear evidence of the Qur’aan and Sunnah – and the consensus of the early generations of this ummah – indicates that there are only two festivals in Islam: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Any other festivals that have to do with a person, a group, an event or anything else are innovated festivals, which it is not permissible for Muslims to observe, approve of or express joy on those occasions, or to help others to celebrate them in any way, because that is transgressing the sacred limits of Allaah, and whoever transgresses the sacred limits of Allaah has wronged himself. If the fabricated festival is also a festival of the kuffaar, then the sin is even greater, because this is imitating them and it is a kind of taking them as close friends, and Allaah has forbidden the believers to imitate them and take them as close friends in His Holy Book. And it is proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Valentine’s Day comes under this heading because it is an idolatrous Christian festival, so it is not permissible for a Muslim who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to observe it or approve of it or congratulate people on it. Rather he has to ignore it and avoid it, in obedience to Allaah and His Messenger, and so as to keep away from the causes that incur the wrath and punishment of Allaah. It is also haraam for the Muslim to help people to celebrate this or any other haraam festival by supplying any kind of food or drink, or buying or selling or manufacturing or giving or advertising etc., because all of that is cooperating in sin and transgression and is disobedience towards Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Help you one another in Al‑Birr and At‑Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment”
The Muslim must adhere to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah in all his affairs, especially at times of fitnah when evil is widespread. He should be smart and avoid falling into the misguidance of those who have earned Allaah’s anger and who have gone astray, and the evildoers who have no fear of Allaah and who do not have any pride in being Muslims. The Muslim must turn to Allaah and seek His guidance and remain steadfast in following it, for there is no Guide except Allaah and no one can make a person steadfast but Him. And Allaah is the source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
3 – Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allaah preserve him) was asked:
Among our young men and women it has become common to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is named after a saint who is venerated by the Christians, who celebrate it every year on February 14, when they exchange gifts and red roses, and they wear red clothes. What is the ruling on celebrating this day and exchanging gifts?
Firstly: it is not permissible to celebrate these innovated festivals, because it is an innovation for which there is no basis in Islam. It comes under the heading of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected.”
Secondly: it involves imitating the kuffaar and copying them by venerating that which they venerate and respecting their festivals and rituals, and imitating them in something that is part of their religion. In the hadeeth it says: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
Thirdly: it results in evils and haraam things such as wasting time, singing, music, extravagance, unveiling, wanton display, men mixing with women, women appearing before men other than their mahrams, and other haraam things, or things that are a means that leads to immorality. That cannot be excused by the claim that this is a kind of entertainment and fun. The one who is sincere towards himself should keep away from sin and the means that lead to it.
And he said:
Based on this, it is not permissible to sell these gifts and roses, if it is known that the purchaser celebrates these festivals or will give these things as gifts on those days, so that the seller will not be a partner of the one who does those innovations. And Allaah knows best. End quote.
And Allaah knows best.
The unique character & amazing exemplary life of Prophet (peace be upon him) is in itself testimony of his prophethood. The two miracles granted to the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are: firstly; the Holy Qur’an and secondly; the unique qualities which made him pre-eminently deserving of prophethood (Though he did perform many other miracles, but they are not being referred here). His life history was a miracle in itself! He was a human being, like all other human beings and God commanded him to declare this fact and make it clear to everyone, in case people made a god of, or ascribed Divine attributes to him: “Say (O Prophet): “I am but a mortal man like all of you. It has been revealed unto me that our God is the One and Only God”(Qur’an;18:110). However, it has been proved that no other human being is similar to him in his greatness, even though he had all the physical and mental characteristics of a human being. God Almighty has not created any unique human being from among the children of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus – and on all the other prophets save Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It would be both untrue and grossly unfair to Muhammad (peace be upon him) if we were to compare him with all the thousands of great men throughout history. Every great man has been known only for a certain aspect of greatness: some have been known for their wisdom, but notorious for their lack of sensitivity and difficulty in expressing themselves; others were noted for their eloquence of speech and their power of imagination, but the ideas they expressed were banal. Still others were most able administrators and distinguished leaders, but corrupt in their personal lives.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the only great man who can be described as the epitome of greatness. All the others had a blind spot, maybe a guarded secret regarding their moral behaviour – some sort of perversity or weakness. Only Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has a life history which is an open book, for everyone to read and scrutinize.
He is the only one who permitted his companions to tell the public everything about him. They therefore described every detail of his behaviour both during his hours of tranquility, as well as times when he was open to human weakness; when he showed signs of anger, desire or was prey to emotional reactions. We can also read all about his private and domestic life, as told by his wives. With his permission, Aysha narrated every detail regarding his family life. Nothing has been left out as all his actions were carried out in accordance with the Divine path and guidance. All aspects about his personal life can be read in the books about his life and in those on Islamic jurisprudence. One can even read about strictly personal aspects of his life: his habits with regard to personal hygiene, the way he ate, dressed, slept, etc.
Is there any other great man who has dared to say to the public, “Look – here is my life history, -everything I have done. You can read it and tell others about it – friends and enemies! “And I am open to criticism from anyone!”. Has anyone else’s life history been recorded and kept intact for so many centuries? A man may be great for his intrinsic qualities, noble disposition and personal charm, and he can also be revered for his intellectual brilliance, which he leaves behind as a heritage for his own country and the world.
Every great man has only one such dimension of greatness in him. But Muhammad’s greatness represents every aspect. We should also consider the fact that most great men are great only among their own people. They may do well for them, while harming others who do not belong to their category. The life histories of statesmen, warriors and conquerors all show this. Or a man may be well known and respected all over the world, but his fame may be due to a limited area: discovery of one of the many laws of nature which God laid down for our universe, or a certain medicine for a particular disease. He may have come up with a new theory of philosophy, or written a masterpiece or the life story of a literary genius.
However Muhammad’s (peace be upon him), greatness was comprehensive in both range and scope, and he practiced what he preached. He was unlike the many missionary zealots of the past and the present, who fail to practice what they preach at the top of their voices! Those whose true colours were exposed during moments of weakness: desire, fear, anger, need and hunger. At moments like this they might completely forget what they teach. Maybe I can hold myself up as an example. Sometimes I rise to sublime heights when I am writing an article, or delivering a lecture encouraging people to abide by truth, goodness, and righteousness. But as soon as I reach these heights, my ego interferes! I start to long for some sort of glory. In fact, man’s inner self does try to lead him away form God. So, within a few minutes I come down to earth again, to an ordinary existence. Because people notice this very same attitude among preachers and religious men, they do not take much notice of what they say.
As for our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he practiced whatever he taught. He exhorted people to do what is right, and shun temptation; what’s more, he translated his words into actions, using the Holy Qur’an as his guiding force. He was tireless in his effort to reform people by his words and deeds. He was not invited to give lectures and seminars at universities and such places. He carried out his mission wherever he was: at home, in the mosque or in a public place. He really demonstrated everything that the Holy Qur’an pleads for and exhorts people to do, in his everyday life. He used to offer night prayers for such a long time that his feet became swollen. He always sought God’s forgiveness. Someone once asked him “Hasn’t God forgiven you for all your sins (then why do pray such long hours)?” to which he replied; “Shouldn’t I be a thankful servant of God?” Every single action was like a prayer, because he always sought to do good and banish evil, and he unceasingly sought to serve the common good.
I would like to quote just one incident to show how he practiced what he believed and adhered strongly to the principles he held high, and kept above all other considerations. But before I relate the incident, let me preset the following prelude. If a girl from a distinguished family was caught stealing, would she get the same sort of punishment as a girl from a working class background, accused of a similar crime? Probably not! In most cases, many secret efforts would be made to see that the whole matter was hushed up, or the legal punishment was not severe. A similar incident happened during the Prophet’s lifetime. A young woman coming from one of the most distinguished and noblest Muslim families committed a theft. She was found to be guilty and the verdict was announced. Immediately some people tried to intervene, hoping that the Prophet, well-known for his magnanimity and love of forgiveness, would grant pardon in this case. Not at all! In fact he was angry that he had been approached in this way, and reminded people of how earlier generations had been ruined because crimes committed by people of influence and position went unpunished, while the weak and humble were punished. He then made a remarkable statement which came to be accepted as a firm principle of Islam: “Indeed – by God, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, her hand would be amputated.” This statement put an end to interference in legal verdicts. The above attitude was natural for the Prophet, because his whole life was a life of Dawah (spreading the message of Islam).
His personal likes and dislikes, and his friendships with people were governed by the Divine Message. He did not hesitate to break any bonds which conflicted with his mission. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had elevated himself above all desire for the good things of life which human beings usually crave for. However, he did not live like a hermit and deprive himself of food or become mystic wearing strange clothes.
Food: He ate whatever good food was served to him, provided it came within the confines of Divine Law. He was never seen to look down on any kind of food. He had tremendous willpower which enabled him to be patient at all times, and stay without food for days on end. If hunger pangs overwhelmed him, he would tie a stone over his stomach to suppress his hunger.
As regards his clothes, he did not stick to one particular way of dressing himself. He sometimes wore both a cap and a turban at the same time, or at times one or the other. He usually wore an under-garment, with a robe and an outer garment over it. The jubba (long outer garment) he wore sometimes had narrow sleeves, not the wide sleeves we see today. His turban consisted of a length of cloth tied round his head, which he would drape over his shoulder when it was not being worn. This type of turban can be used for other purposes during times of peace, or for tying up prisoners in times of war. At times he made a tuft for it. It is necessary to wear turbans in the Arabic peninsula due to climatic reasons and to protect oneself form the intense heat. This has given rise to the saying, “Turbans are the Arabs’ crowns.”
Regarding colours, the Prophet did not stick to any particular one, but wore a black turban on the day of his victorious re-entry into Mecca. Only clothes which show parts of the body which should be covered are forbidden in Islam, or styles which are not in harmony with decency and modesty. Muslim women should only expose their faces and the palms of their hands, and Muslim men should not wear anything made of silk. No Muslim – male or female -should wear any type of clothing associated with other religions, such as a monk’s robe or the clothing of a priest. Clothes should not reflect extravagance or be ostentatious. Apart from these rulings, Islam permits any type of clothing.
While the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not forbid people to enjoy the beautiful and good things of life that God has bestowed on mankind, he did not indulge in them himself. He had risen above the desire to have lust or wealth. It is a well-known fact that the tribe of Quraish offered him wealth, power and the position of leader, and tried to tempt him with many other offers in order to persuade him to give up his mission. But he firmly refused all these offers, and felt pity and concern for the people who had made them.
The Prophet was also above the temptations of sexual desire. However, the, subject of women is one which is exaggerated by orientalists who have researched his life and sought to tarnish his image and mislead the public. They use the fact that he married nine wives as a case for him being “a man of lust”. But they have judged him in the same way as they judge other great men eminent writers or brave warriors. For example: Napoleon was a notorious womanizer and made the whole nation of Poland act as pimps in order for him to gain the hand of Mary Valvdka, with whom he was madly in love. He forced her father to offer her to him as a price to be paid for the independence of Poland. The life histories of many great men, such as Alexander Dumas, Byron, Goethe and Bodlieare – and many others, abound with scandals of sexual pursuit. And these orientalists have judged our Prophet (pbuh) by the same standards, drawing the conclusion that he, like the others, was sensuous and a man of lust.
These people (orientalists) did not study Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life in great depth, nor did they take certain psychological factors into consideration. Furthermore, their judgments were partial and showed no respect for moral behaviour. The sexual urge manifests itself in people from the age of puberty until the age of twenty five. A person is considered to be most vulnerable at this age, and sex can become an obsession which leads to all sorts of pitfalls and deviation. This is why free mixing of girls and boys at this age, even for academic purposes, is discouraged.
Now let us consider the Prophet’s life at this stage of his life. Did he get misled and enjoy the pleasures his contemporaries indulged in? After all, he was a free man living in a free country and in a society which, at that time, was not governed by any religion or law. He was therefore absolutely free to do as he wished. As we said before, our Prophet’s life history is an open book, which anyone can read. Can anyone prove, therefore, that he was, in the full flush of youth, a man who indulged in sensual and immoral pleasures? It is narrated that he was almost led into temptation by his contemporaries, but luckily God saved him. He made him fall asleep, and when he woke up he had forgotten what he had wanted to do. Had he indulged in any such acts of pleasure, his enemies, the polytheists, would not have hesitated to publicize the fact and blackmail him.
When our Prophet (peace be upon him) got married at the age of twenty-five, did he marry a beautiful virgin? Not at all. He married a widow who was his mother’s age. Most of his other wives were also widows, and he only married them for tactical reasons. God had granted him permission to marry more than four wives – and this right was not granted to other Muslims. However, God did not give him the right to divorce them, a right which is given to Muslims. Of course, the sexual drive is not a human flaw. How could a characteristic of man become a fault of mankind? But it can be harmful when a man becomes sexually obsessive, making it his sole occupation, and seeking to satisfy himself in ways which are not permitted.
The story of Zainab is a favorite among the critics of Islam. They try to find fault with it, through distortion and misinterpretation, and their views do not, therefore, deserve any attention. Zainab was a good-looking girl and closely related to the Prophet (peace be upon him). If he had so wished, he could have married her – an act which would have been the greatest honour her family could have wished for. But the Divine Will had ordained that her marriage would be the cause of two important social reforms which were to come about in Islam. Firstly, she was the subject of a test case, and secondly the Prophet was made to set an example to others. In the first instance God Almighty sought to put an end to aristocratic pride and class consciousness. So Zainab, a girl belonging to the noblest Arab stock, was married to Zayd, a man from a humble background, a fugitive and an adopted son of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Society at that time considered him totally unworthy of her. But she married him all the same, against the wish of her family. Subsequently it was difficult for her to adjust to her new life, and she and her husband were constantly bickering. Both partners were ill at ease with each other and wanted to separate. But the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to advise Zayd: “Retain your wife and fear God.” But the couple had reached the end of their tether and divorce became inevitable.
What happened next involved the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was put to the most difficult test. He had to marry Zainab in order to put an end to the practice of adoption and show the world that it is lawful for a person to marry the wife of his adopted son. [Islam forbade to call adopted son with name of man adopting him, rather he was to be called as son of his real biological father] This was extremely hard for the Prophet (peace be upon him) who did not want to bear the stigma of society as one who had married his (adopted) son’s wife. However, he carried out this duty with patience and in obedience to the Divine Will. However, the above incident should be seen in perspective, and not in the way in which it is presented by critics of Islam. The conclusions they draw are nonsense and do not deserve any attention.
Physical strength builds up our physical resistance, whereas moral strength – the courage of conviction of the heart – brings us victory over our enemies. Yet the most powerful strength of all, more powerful than the might of our enemies or of any material force, is the strength of the willpower to overcome the self and its cravings impulses, desires and inclinations. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has, on different occasions, exhorted the believers to cultivate such strength: “Strong is not the one who is good at wrestling. Indeed strong is the one who controls himself at the time of anger.” It is well known that controlling the anger is the most difficult of all tasks!
The amount of energy needed to keep our temper is far greater than that required to knock down our opponent in the boxing ring. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the ratio is 1:100. You can try this theory out in everyday life by asking someone who is at the peak of his fury to abide by the principles of good behaviour. You may not even find one in a thousand men who would respond to your suggestion. Say you are a religious person engaged in the task of spreading our religion and someone murders a very dear relative of yours and then comes to you to confess his crime and respond to your call to religion. How would you react? Our Prophet (peace be upon him) pardoned the man who had brutally murdered his uncle when that man accepted Islam. But even then our Prophet found it hard to suppress his human instinct in such a way so as not to violate the principles of Islam. He therefore said to the man, “Don’t let me see you!” So this person never appeared before the Prophet.
The story of Hind is also worth mentioning in this context. Hind was the wife of Abu Sufyan, the arch enemy of the Prophet and his mission. She committed a horrible crime which no human being or wild beast would commit. She cut open the Prophet’s uncle’s chest, took out his liver and chewed it, but the Prophet forgave her, in spite of all her sinful acts, and accepted her into the fold of Islam. The inhabitants of the city of Taif carried out many wicked deeds against the Prophet, yet when they embraced Islam he pardoned them.
Then we have the most magnanimous act of all-and a most important event in the history of Islam. That was the general pardon the Prophet (peace be upon him) granted the people of Mecca, they who had caused him the greatest possible distress and suffering, both personally and to his mission in general. They spared no effort whatsoever in their attempts to pull him down. They boycotted him, abused him, imprisoned him, threw camel’s filth at him while he was praying and placed thorns on the streets through which he passed. All these events did not take place over a few days – but over a period of thirteen years. They also fought pitched battles against him and massacred his relatives and companions.
Then came the hour of retaliation – although this word does not truly reflect this situation. It was time to impose lawful punishment in answer to that long chain of aggressive and humiliating actions. It was at this point that the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the people of Mecca, “What do you think I’m going to do with you all?” The record of what they had done was always at the back of their minds which meant they were aware of the punishment they deserved, but they did not forget what a noble character Muhammad was. So they answered, “You are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother.” Then they stood in silence, waiting for his verdict. If it had been a death sentence to them all, no one would have objected in the least – and no historian in later years, whether a friend or a critic of Islam, would have been able to find fault with his decision. But Muhammad(pbuh) gave a different verdict; it was one that took them by surprise, and continues to surprise every generation. “Freedom is granted to you all!” he declared.
It is a pity that I have only been able to give such a brief account of this incident. I would have preferred to devote a whole chapter to it in order to present the facts and the Prophet’s magnanimity in its true perspective. Indeed his attitude would have needed the energy of ten thousand wrestlers! I wonder why the later day biographers of our Prophet (peace be upon him) were so concerned with the miracles he performed. In fact, they sometimes gave exaggerated versions and filled in details on their own. This was sheer fabrication – why did they need to do this? Wasn’t every stand our Prophet (peace be upon him) took and every aspect of his personality a miracle in itself? Which brings us to the definition of the word miracle. Does it mean achieving something that others have been unable to achieve? The Prophet’s honesty and trustworthiness were miracles in themselves.
Alas, it is impossible to give many examples because of the limitations of space, but I would like to mention just one incident from his life. I have read about it hundreds of times and have always regarded it as rather an ordinary story, until suddenly one day, I realized it was a miracle. When the Prophet migrated to Medina he left one of his companions, Ali, behind to take care of the money which the Quraish tribe had entrusted him with. These were the cash assets of the tribe, and Muhammad (pbuh) was the only person they trusted enough to leave them with, even though he and they were not on good terms. He returned them to the Quraish tribe and not to the Muslims, because all Muslims had migrated, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the last to leave Mecca. He stayed there till the last moment, like the captain of an abandoned ship; he did not leave until all the passengers had disembarked and got into life boats. This is another great quality of our Prophet (peace be upon him) which I have only mentioned briefly.
Can you imagine two different parties, who have -been engaged in fierce battles, both verbal and on the battlefield for the sake of faith and the Divine Message, entrusting the opposing party with their assets and valuables? Have you ever heard such a story? How could they trust their opponent unless his personal character, integrity and honesty were, beyond any doubt, a miracle? To doubt him in any way was impossible. This was what the personality of Muhammad was like.
Another incidence which shows yet one more aspect of his character. On the day of the battle of Badr, the Prophet was inspecting the infantry. He was carrying a shaft of wood in his hand, and thrust it gently into the abdomen of a soldier named Sawad ibn Ghizya, who was standing apart from the troop formation. The Prophet (peace be upon him), wanted to alert him and make him take his place, but as the prod of the shaft of wood had hurt him, he said to the Prophet, “Oh Prophet of God, you have hurt me. Indeed, God has sent you in order to spread the message of truth and justice!” How do you think the Prophet (peace be upon him) reacted to such an affront from an ordinary soldier? Did he take any disciplinary action; – did he ignore him or forgive him? Or did he apologize to the soldier in the usual way by saying, “I’m sorry.” He did none of these things. The Prophet did what no one else would do, and something that may not even occur to anyone to do. He uncovered his own abdomen and said, “Thrust the shaft and inflict pain on me as I inflicted it on you!” This was what he was like. He caused retaliation to himself, in spite of his exalted position among all mankind.
Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life history consists of a series of actions and achievements unparalleled in the history of mankind. No other eminent person has left such a record of greatness and glory in every aspect of his life, behind him. This greatness included personal courage and valor, magnanimity, patience at times of defeat and self restraint at times of anger.
Fearless Warrior: He was a firm and fearless warrior in the battlefield, to such an extent that his companions always rushed to him at critical moments to seek comfort and solace. Even the bravest of men were no challenge for him.
Man of Extreme Compassion: He was also a man of extreme compassion. He gave a helping hand to the poor and the needy, and stood by the widows and the aged. The Prophet (peace be upon him) always upheld truth, faithfully conveying every verse of the Divine Revelation, including the verses that mentioned his mistakes and reprimanded him.
Honorable and Trustworthy: He honored the treaties he made and kept his word, despite the difficulties and hardships he had to face on that count. He honored his commitments, whether they concerned personal dealings or matters of the state.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was meticulous in his personal conduct and behaviour. It was he who laid down rules for table manners and personal hygiene. He educated his companions with regard to these matters, setting himself up as an example for them to follow. His standard of living was in no way different from theirs. He was never aloof from them, always consulting them and listening to their views. He was self effacing and whenever he met his companions he took his seat wherever there was an empty place, even if it meant sitting in a corner, away from everyone else. In fact, visitors had sometimes to strain their eyes in order to spot him. It is said that at one such gathering, a visitor found that everyone who was seated looked identical, and therefore asked, “Who among you is Muhammad?” The Prophet never distinguished himself from others. He was one of them: he dressed like them and resembled them in every way.
His attitude to women was very courteous, and his conduct with the members of his family and at home was remarkable for the unrestrained love and affection he showed. He was close to everyone, because he never let people feel that he was superior to them, like a king. He never allowed his companions to stand up in reverence to him when he called on them. He used to attend personally to the requirements of his household and even mended his shoes himself. The Prophet preferred to lead a frugal life, though he could, if he had wanted, have lived in grand style in a fabulous palace with all the ensuing display of ostentatious living. But he shunned all forms of show because his thoughts were always engaged in the afterlife.
The house where he lived with his wives was only twenty five meters long. Aysha’s house consisted of one room made of clay and mud, and it was so narrow that there was not enough room for her to stretch out while the Prophet prayed, so that whenever he prostrated he had to push her feet to one side. As for his eating habits, Aysha tells us that he had a very light appetite and that, “a month or two may pass without a fire being lit in the kitchen in order to make bread.” When she was asked, “Then what did you all eat?’’ she replied, “Dates and water.” This was the staple diet of the Prophet and his family.
Regarding his eloquence and clarity of speech, he was always known for expressing himself clearly and simply. All the qualities we have discussed prove that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was an extraordinary man and that God Almighty chose him for the tremendous task, only after preparing him fully for that responsibility.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last prophet was granted two living miracles; The Holy Qur’an and the unique qualities of a perfect human being. It has been proved that no other human being is similar to him in his greatness in qualities. Indeed God knows best upon whom to bestow His Message.
[Extract from book: “Islam: A General Introduction”; “Ta’rif-e-Aam bi-Din il-Islam” By: Shaikh Ali Al-Tantawi]
Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram – which has caused havoc in Africa’s most populous country through a wave of bombings – is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: “Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors”. Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it “haram”, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society. This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president. But residents in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, where the group had its headquarters, dubbed it Boko Haram.The group’s official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, which in Arabic means “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”. Read full >>>>
CNN Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah is a comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Axis of Evil” special, ABC’s “The View,” CNN’s “What the Week” and HLN’s “The Joy Behar Show.” He is executive producer of the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and the Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival. Follow him on Twitter.
There are two Rick Santorums: The first one I might not agree with, but the second one truly scares me.
“Santorum One” pushes for less government regulation for corporations and shrinking the federal government. You may or may not agree with these positions, but they are both mainstream conservative fare.
Then there’s “Santorum Two.” This Santorum wants to impose conservative Christian law upon America. Am I being hyperbolic or overly dramatic with this statement? I wish I were, but I’m not.
Plainly put, Rick Santorum wants to convert our current legal system into one that requires our laws to be in agreement with religious law, not unlike what the Taliban want to do in Afghanistan.
Santorum is not hiding this. The only reason you may not be aware of it is because up until his recent surge in the polls, the media were ignoring him. However, “Santorum Two” was out there telling anyone who would listen.
He told a crowd at a November campaign stop in Iowa in no uncertain terms, “our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.”
On Thanksgiving Day at an Iowa candidates’ forum, he reiterated: “We have civil laws, but our civil laws have to comport with the higher law.”
Yes, that means exactly what you think it does: Santorum believes that each and every one of our government’s laws must match God’s law, warning that “as long as there is a discordance between the two, there will be agitation.” I’m not exactly sure what “agitation” means in this context, but I think it’s a code word for something much worse than acid reflux.
And as an aside, when Santorum says “God,” he means “not any god (but) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” So, if your god differs from Rick’s, your god’s views will be ignored, just like the father is on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Some of you might be asking: How far will “Santorum Two” take this? It’s not like he’s going to base public policy decisions on Bible passages, right?
Well, here’s what Santorum had to say just last week when asked about his opposition to gay marriage: “We have Judeo-Christian values that are based on biblical truth. … And those truths don’t change just because people’s attitudes may change.”
Santorum could not be more unambiguous: His policy decisions will be based on “biblical truths,” and as he noted, these “truths” will not change regardless of whether public opinion has evolved since the time the Bible was written thousands of years ago.
Imagine if either of the two Muslim members of Congress declared their support for a proposed American law based on verses from the Quran. The outcry would be deafening, especially from people like Santorum.
One of the great ironies is that Santorum has been a leader in sounding alarm bells that Muslims want to impose Islamic law — called Sharia law — upon non-Muslims in America. While Santorum fails to offer even a scintilla of credible evidence to support this claim, he continually warns about the “creeping” influence of Muslim law.
Santorum’s fundamental problem with Sharia law is that it’s “not just a religious code. It is also a governmental code. It happens to be both religious in nature and origin, but it is a civil code.”
Consequently, under the Sharia system, the civil laws of the land must comport with God’s law. Now, where did I hear about someone wanting to impose only laws that agree with God’s law in America?
So, what type of nation might the United States be under Rick Santorum’s Sharia law?
1. Rape victims would be forced to give birth to the rapist’s child. Santorum has stated that his religious beliefs dictate that life begins at conception, and as a result, rape victims would be sentenced to carrying the child of the rapist for nine months.
2. Gay marriages would be annulled. Santorum recently declaredthat not only does he oppose gay marriages, but he supports a federal constitutional amendment that would ban them, invalidating all previous gay marriages that have legally been sanctioned by states and thus callously destroying marriages and thrusting families into chaos.
3. Santorum would ban all federal funding for birth control and would not oppose any state that wanted to pass laws making birth control illegal.
4. No porn! I’m not kidding. Santorum signed “The Marriage Vow”pledge (PDF) authored by the Family Leader organization, under which he swears to oppose pornography. I think many would agree that alone should disqualify him from being president.
To me, “Santorum Two” truly poses an existential threat to the separation of church and state, one of the bedrock principles of our nation since its inception. Not only did Thomas Jefferson speak of the need to create “a wall of separation between church and state,” so did Santorum’s idol, Ronald Reagan, who succinctly stated, “church and state are, and must remain, separate.”
While there may be millions of Americans who in their heart agree with the views of “Santorum Two,” it is my hope they will reject any attempts to move America closer to a becoming the Afghanistan of the Western Hemisphere.
Read: Islamic Shari’a
Missionaries to Muslims Agree to Soften Criticisms of Each Other
Ten years after 9/11, the heated debate over contextualization is about to get more civil.
By Warren Larson
Evangelists and missiologists have long debated how best to contextualize the gospel within Islamic contexts. The debate over “insider movements” revolves around a key question: Should converts from Islam be allowed or encouraged to remain in their Muslim religious and social networks after conversion?
Past discussion on this topic has proven hurtful to Christians on both sides. However, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I believe we are finally going to see real changes in the way Christians write about fellow-Christians in regard to contextualization. This is good news in an arena where there has been a lot of bad news.
In an effort to promote reconciliation and facilitate healthy discussion, a group of 50 scholar-practitioners gathered in June to discuss the challenges of contextualization. Bridging the Divide was hosted by missionaries-in-residence Don Little and Benjamin Hegeman of the Intercultural Studies Department at Houghton College in New York. Attendees included five former Muslims and represented a wide spectrum of views on appropriate ways to reach Muslims.
Bridging the Divide’s goal was to clear up misunderstandings, identify points of agreement and disagreement, and strive for mutual respect and understanding. Disputes over contextualization have a long history, and serious difficulties remain, but progress was made through face-to-face interaction, frank discussion, and a commitment to talk rather than throw darts at each other from a distance. As a participant, I saw three key signs pointing to this trend:
During introductions on the first night, many said they had come to listen. This paved the way for positive interaction. There was open sharing and prayer for one another throughout the meeting, and even tears of repentance over unkind things that had been said or written, often without understanding or accurate citation. Evelyne Reisacher, assistant professor of Islamic studies and intercultural relations at Fuller Theological Seminary, put it this way: “I’ve wondered before if we really love one another, but this time I’ve seen it in action.” An engaged couple from Houghton College, preparing to serve in the Middle East, said they were privileged to witness how veteran workers modeled love and forgiveness.
A final declaration was drafted to summarize the issues that had both united and divided us. We expressed our repentance for the hurtful things we had written about each other in the past, as they contributed to a “divisive spirit” that was harming our ministry. We promised to encourage unity amongst ourselves and committed to “intentionally seek out opposing peer review for our proposed publications that attempt to characterize the views of those with whom we disagree.” Ultimately, we reminded ourselves that as Christians, our ultimate end was to work together so that “all may know the gospel.” (The full text of the declaration can be read at the end of this article.)
It is apparent from the declaration that the consultation succeeded in fostering greater understanding of opposite points of view on the C1-C6 scale used by many missiologists to describe Muslim background believer (MBB) affiliation with Muslim culture. The scale can be summarized as follows: C1: MBBs in churches radically different from their own culture; C2: same as C1, but worship is in the MBBs’ mother tongue; C3: MBBs in culturally indigenous Christian churches that avoid cultural forms seen as “Islamic”; C4: MBBs in culturally indigenous congregations that retain biblically permissible Islamic forms (e.g., prostrating in prayer), investing these with biblical meaning; C5: Muslims who follow Jesus as Lord and Savior in fellowships of like-minded believers within the Muslim community, continuing to identify culturally and officially as Muslims; and C6: secret/underground believers.
J. Dudley Woodberry, senior professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, expressed a desire for irenic interaction: “I see God working through the whole spectrum of identity, and having students on both sides of the issue doesn’t bother me, but I am troubled by the tone of some of the discussion.”
Kevin Higgins, international director of Global Teams, clarified his position on the C1-C6 scale. “I prefer not to use the C Scale, as it tends to suggest tight definable boundaries,” he said. “But if I had to use it, I would say I know [God] uses and blesses churches or believing communities that are so-called C1, C2, and C3. I believe he loves C6 believers, though I don’t know anyone who suggests this is his perfect will for the long term. The actual C5 movements I know of are best described as a mix of C4 and C5, since intentional gatherings of believers in some form of house-church model are a norm.”
Another speaker, mission strategist Len Bartlotti, presented a number of theological “lenses” or ways of viewing C5 “insider” missiology in order to understand where proponents and critiques are coming from. Drawing a line on the blackboard as a continuum, he said that under an evangelical umbrella, Christians have different understandings of the church, the work of the Holy Spirit, conversion, history, Islam, authority, ways of doing theology, and approaches to other religions. For example, some insiders have a minimalist view of “church”—two or three gathered in Jesus’ name—while others insist on organization, including elders, sacraments, leadership, and direction. Thus, one objection to insider movements is actually based on these differing presuppositions related to “church.”
In reference to culture, Bartlotti said some would emphasize continuity and (in Richard Niebuhr’s terms) the “Christ of Culture,” relating to Muslims on their own terms; others emphasize the discontinuity of the gospel vis-à-vis Islam—Christ “against culture,” and Christ “transforming” aspects of prior belief and culture. Bartlotti noted that one’s views of history and the Holy Spirit also affect one’s assessment of insider missiology. Some emphasize the Spirit’s work in the “here and now” as the gospel breaks out into new contexts and cultural spheres. The opposite side sees the Holy Spirit at work in history: they value how the Spirit has guided the church “into all truth” via Christology, creeds, and the development of doctrines over time. Some view Islam in terms of its “essence” as a religious system, whereas others think of multiple “Islams” and how Muslims in local contexts vary in their religious commitment.
Finally, how do MBBs express their commitment to follow Christ? Yes, there is invariably a journey, a process whereby people individually or in groups move toward Jesus. But how they travel down that path, and at what speed, is often disputed, as are the “markers” of that new identity. Many at the consultation found themselves somewhere in the middle of the continuum on each issue.
Topics that generated the most discussion were ethics, translation, identity, and hermeneutics. A survey taken in preparation for the gathering revealed that there were roughly a dozen participants who were strongly pro-insider and just as many on the other side. Ninety percent said it was normal for believers to keep their Muslim identity for a time following conversion. Few participants felt it was ever acceptable for non-Muslims to convert to Islam in order to reach Muslims. No one thought it was a good idea for Christian workers to take on a Muslim identity for the sake of spreading the gospel.
Our failures to seek to honor brethren above ourselves; and
Our contributing to a divisive spirit, since God has called us to be co-laborers in declaring his glory among the nations.
The insistence that the particular ways God has worked with our community are the only or preferred ways he must work with others in his great harvest ingathering; and
The practice of encouraging cross-cultural workers from a Christian background to take on a Muslim identity.
God is moving globally in a variety of ways to draw Muslims to Christ;
The primacy of the Word of God for all aspects of faith and practice guided by the Spirit of God for the people of God; and
Practicing fidelity in Scripture translation using terms that accurately express the familial relationship by which God has chosen to describe himself as Father in relationship to the Son in the original languages.
We commit to
Examine the Scriptures and our own hearts diligently to renew and transform our theological, missiological, and ethical understanding and practice;
Love those in the global community lifting up the Lord among Muslims, pursuing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;
Intentionally seek out opposing peer review for our proposed publications that attempt to characterize the views of those with whom we disagree; and
Promote unity and understanding between new and existing expressions of the church, the body of Christ.
To the end that all may know the gospel so that, when Jesus returns in power and great glory, as many as possible will enjoy the new heaven and new earth, for the glory of God alone. Even so, come XXXx Jesus!
Copy Rights ‘Christian Today’reproduced for Education, non commercial, interfaith harmony: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/octoberweb-only/missions-muslims-criticisms.html
Throughout the history of religion, the question that arose from time to time was whether religion should evolve according to social, political and economic needs of society or should it retain its original teachings. Those who are in favour purity of religion argue that despite changes in society, believers of a religion must observe its original teachings which should be retained in their original form and shape.
But generally the result is that such people alienate themselves from other sections of society by living in their own world with a separate identity. On the other hand, progressive thinkers point out that if religion cannot respond to emerging challenges, its utility is lost and it becomes stagnant. Therefore, in order to survive, it should be reinterpreted and reconstructed in view of the requirements of the modern times. The two trends are seen in every religious movement. Puritans emphasise on the textual meaning of revealed books or revered scriptures. According to this view, nobody has the right to change the meaning and interpret them in view of one’s own time and ideas. Modernists, on the contrary, believe that they could reinterpret religious texts and adjust according to the changing ideas and thoughts of their time which would make religious teachings more workable and useful to society. The two trends remain in conflict. Puritans accuse the modernist of distortion of religion and polluting its purity by interpretation which benefits or is in the interest of the ruling classes. One can find examples in Islamic history when jurists and ulema interpreted religion to fulfill the wishes and demands of rulers.
For instance, when the institution of kingship was introduced, religious scholars justified it on the basis of religion. When aristocracy accumulated wealth, private property became sacred. Being in the service of the monarch, the jurists validated their actions by issuing fatwas and it became a norm for the rulers to consult jurists and ask them to find religious justification for their debauchery and exploitation.
The modernists believe that by reinterpreting religion they could protect it against the onslaught of modernity, so that outdated traditions in religion could survive new challenges. When a society passes through a crisis and modernists or secular ideologies fail to solve problems of the masses, puritans gain support and popularity. At this stage, puritans attracted the deprived and the poor by offering them solutions for their grievances to make them believe that it would end class differences and restore their dignity in society.
Puritans regard themselves as the custodians of original teachings and look down upon others as misguided heretics. They believe modernists or progressives are against religion which creates in them a sense of arrogance. It is interesting to note that the puritans’ teachings were more suited to the economically well off classes. For example, their women could observe purdah, while women belonging to lower classes had to go out and work in the fields and in the houses of rich people to earn some money. This created a gulf between the rich and the poor.
The masses generally favour religious interpretation that bears religious and spiritual recreational value for them. They participate in festivities at shrines of Sufi saints where people can sing, dance and listen to devotional songs as well as partake in food and sweets being distributed as offerings to the shrines.
The two trends are known as puritan and popular religious culture. The former is led by religious scholars who study religion minutely while a popular religious movement is led by ordinary mullahs and Sufi saints. The puritans are always in a minority while popular religion has a large following. In the subcontinent the puritan and the popular trends are represented by the Deobandi and the Barelvi schools of Islamic thought respectively.
By Mubarak Ali: http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/08/past-present-puritan-and-popular-religion.html
Jang Group Killed Salman Taseer, earlier Irfan and other Kaatibs of Jang like Kamran Khan, Ansar Abbasi, and Hamid Mir were creating Hype against …
Jang Group Killed Salman Taseer, earlier Irfan and other Kaatibs of Jang like Kamran Khan, Ansar Abbasi, and Hamid Mir were creating Hype against …
Jang Group Killed Salman Taseer, earlier Irfan and other Kaatibs of Jang like Kamran Khan, Ansar Abbasi, and Hamid Mir were creating Hype against …