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REFLECTIONS: Clouds and Smoke… Part II

In Islam on July 14, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Continued from Part I (in which I shared some of my random and vague anxieties about the Sawat situation).

The second phenomenon with which my mind has been continually preoccupied has not happened yet. But for all appearances, it may come about very soon. At least the makings of the phenomenon are well under way…

Dajjal, the Anit-Christ.

Signs of Qayamah and Dajjal

Nearly all the minor signs (derived from authentic  ahadith) to appear before that Last Day are now complete. All kinds of immoralities are the order of the day, being happily engaged in and promoted; while the people – muslim or not – willingly choose the corrupt and the hypocrite as their leaders. Even some of the more specific minor signs such as competing for the heights of buildings, and the female hairstyle of wearing hair-buns on the top of the heads) have been realized for years.

picture at the back of a dollarThe one minor sign which I’m particularly interested in and which so keenly reminds me of the approaching Dajjal is the prophecy that Christians will reach Khyber. [I haven’t been able to find a proper online reference to this hadith, but I have read it in an other reliable source.] This Khyber refers to the one in Saudi Arabia, of course.

The same hadith contains the general prediction that Christians will govern the whole world – the Khyber prediction seems to be one specific manifestation of it. A manifestation which is not too far from being realized. A manifestation to which the whole current scenario involving the Middle East, Iran  and, of course, Pakistan is speedily leading up.

Among the major sings preceding Dajjal, there are but two – the appearance of Mahdi and the famine of increasing extensiveness over a period of three years. The appearance of Imam Mahdi is the first major sign of qiyamah to surface. There is doubt as to the exact duration of his reign on the ummah but the more popular view seems to be seven years. It is towards the end of his reign that Dajjal will appear, followed later by Hazrat Isa to kill Dajjal and to take over the leadership of the ummah after Mahdi’s death.

Dajjal, the System

Ahmed Thomson's book on Dajjal, the SystemThere are three aspects of Dajjal. There is Dajjal the individual. There is Dajjal as a world wide social and cultural phenomenon. There is Dajjal as an unseen force. [Ahmad Thomson in Dajjal: the King Who has No Clothes]

Ahmad Thomson is a Muslim scholar who has taken pains to describe how the forerunners of Western civilization have been paving the way for the One Currency, One Government, and One Leader, a dream which is speedily coming true before our very eyes and whose pinnacle will be the appearance of Dajjal, the ultimate Leader of the system.

freemasonry symbolAhmed Thomson points out the Freemasons as the real organizing (the unseen) force underlying the System that has been firmly implanting its feet in societies and governments for the past few centuries. Many have come to believe this  (for example see here) and have attempted to show the connections between masonic history and more  current world politics. On youtube some interesting videos on the topic may be found, though the authenticity of every aspect of their presentations cannot always be gauranteed.

The focus of Thomson’s enlightening book, however, is neither the history of freemasons nor its secretive role in the world politics. Rather, Thomson attempts to analyze every manifestation of that typical Western progress and civiliation – their medical, legal, financial, educational, etc. systems – and to show how these very systems [indeed the very science on which these systems are based] lead to results quite opposite to the values taught by the Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam)  and inculcated by him with a great labor of love in the Madinah society that he had founded. [Read the text of the first few pages of Ahmed Thomson’s brilliant exposition on Dajjal, the system here.]

I myself have often wondered at the workings of these systems to the limits of my knowledge and have related them to the increase in the very things these systems are claimed to eliminate – disease, unrest, crime, ignorance of the profound values of life, lasting peace of minds and hearts…

Another interesting point is how some of the crowning achievements of the Western progress make  some of the very specific characteristics of Dajjal, the individual very plausible to us, the satellite communications, the airplanes, the striving for the global village. An interesting article of old by the Islamic Party of Britian expresses this much better than I can.

So when does he come?

In plain and simple words (which all skeptics will call oversimplified) when the New World Order is finally realized, when the One Currency and One Government dream is  achieved, when the political centre of the governance of the world shifts at last to the freemasonist jews in Israel.

In short, very soon in the decades to follow.

I remember in school when I was told about the signs of Qayamah I always used to think ‘oh that must be far far away, centuries hence, no need to worry my mind over it’. Today, I’m fearfully waiting for the first major signs of Qayamah to appear. The stage is nearly all set. We only wait for the hour to be sounded…

Seriously, there are 91 years yet to go in this century. It has only taken us the headlong rush of the past 8 years since 9/11 to bring us face to face with the reality of the approaching Qayamah. And if not myself, then my children will in all probability live in the era of Dajjal.

How to cope?

Our Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) has prepared us well in this respect. He has painstakenly revealed to us details of Dajjal’s background, his physical appearance, the seemingly magical but really scientific feats in his repertoire with which he will lure people into following him, and the details of his era on this earth: his emergence, deceptions, encounters and finally his end.

Like any prescription of the doctor forgotten upon the shelf, our prohpet’s pains will be wasted if we don’t make use of the knowledge he has given us.

So what are we doing with the prescription? Dajjal the individual is nearly upon us, but how many of the muslims are really thinking about it? Do we care to access the treasure trove of authentic ahadith on this topic and familiarize ourselves with it? Do we speak to our children (by which I mean any members of the young generation that we are in touch with) about it, for they indeed might be the ones who face Dajjal in the prime of their adult lives?

My fellows, it is NOT JUST about identifying him and his actions. It is REALLY about the depth and the firmness of our belief in God.

Already the western way of making science and society has allured many of our current generation away from a real belief on the One and Only and on His Word. You have to read any of the myriad modern blogs by ‘enlightened’ bloggers to learn that. A majority of the Muslim population seem  hypocrites and a significant number are, or stand the risk of, turning atheists at heart. It is these very kinds that Dajjal’s cunning will be keenly successful with.

DO NOT you CARE?

The only real solution must be to acquaint ourselves and our children with the most authentic sources of our religion; to return repeatedly to the Quran with a thinking, pondering heart; and to approach all we are being given in the name of  science, culture, society, progress, and modernity with a thinking, independent and skeptic mind whose deepest emotional connection must be with Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam).

Al-Qur'an

May Allah make us succeed in our hefty goals.

NOTE:

  • In times of active conflict with kuffars, our Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to recite Qunut-e-Nazila instead of the usual Qunut prayer recited in the third rak’at of witr, the last prayer of the day after Isha. These are indeed high times to engage in the practice and to recite both the versions of the nazila qunut that we find in authentic ahadith as general prayers. These qunuts may be found commonly in collections of wazaif and of masnoon prayer pieces.
  • The hadith in which our Prophet mentions recitation of Sura Kahaf as an antidote to the evils of Dajjal is really about the first 10 verses of the sura. The hadith is to the effect that whosoever recites the first 10 verses of Sura Kahaf on successive Jummas (Fridays) will be saved for the duration from the evils of Dajjal. It is high time we make it into a practice and teach both these noble traditions (the qunut and the lines of sura kahaf) to our young.
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WORDS OF GOLD: The Intentions behind Actions – II

In Islam, Words of Gold: The Quran on March 13, 2009 at 6:04 am

In the first part of this post, I laid out what it means to have (or not to have) pure intentions behind good acts. These good acts are ones which our God, Allah, commands us to perform or encourages us to do. The diametric opposite of such acts are the prohibited ones. [Read here a list of the major acts or sins prohibited or condemned  in Islam.]

Unfortunately, we wrongly apply the ‘intentions behind actions‘ hadith in this case too, often distorting facts of our religion to suit our purposes. A common misapplication is when our mistakes end in wrongdoings. For e.g. forgetting to fulfill a crucial promise meaning serious harm to the other party or inconvenience at the least. Often, we attempt to save our face in such a situation by saying that our intentions had been good, ‘it was just a mistake’. The assertion serves as a quick cover for guilt feelings. Instead, the guilt should  have led to a healthy acknowledgment of our responsibility for the bad result.

Another serious misapplication  is attempting to justify the outright bad or prohibited acts by claiming good intentions, using an ‘ends-justify-the-means’ sort of logic. Sometimes we are weak and knowingly engage in a sin: Some external pressure is too great and we are just not courageous. Some internal urge is pushing and we succumb. Will we repent, ask for forgiveness from Allah, get stronger, stay away from the sin in the future? These are crucial issues. But the issues become far-fetched if we start believing  in some rationalization for the sin that apparently ‘redeems‘ its badness. This is self-deception and distorting one’s own religion for one’s sake.

Many people today cannot keep all their money-dealings totally free from interest. Does it mean interest is no longer a major sin, one upon which Allah has announced war in the Holy Quran? No! We have been unable to purge our society of interest, but this doesn’t change the facts of the case.

I have seen many people arguing intensely to the effect that no, hijab is not Islam. Okay, you don’t feel like doing hijab, have no understanding for the significance of hijab in a true muslim society. But who gave you the right to redefine our religion?

The same applies to those who have invented new rituals (bid’aat) in the name of religion propped up with elaborate arrays of explanations and justifications to prove them right. The Prophet’s warning on promoting fabricated ‘acts’ in the name of religion is very clear. No amount of flaunting the act as sacred, an act of piety, or an expression of love to the Prophet or some other religious figure can make the innovation authentic. It remains squarely beyond and outside the domain of Islam. Your proclaimed niyyat will not earn you any profit in the hereafter.

The same goes for being unnecessarily careless or innovative with the clearly described procedures of worship and social dealings such as marriage and divorce. “Good intentions do not repair a bad act” [Khalid Baig, First Things First, p. 169]. If we do not perform our Hajj the way it’s instructed to be, well, it’s no Hajj. If we do not pay zakat as per the detailed guidelines, the zakat is not paid.

The moral of this little discussion is:

Let us not use our alleged intentions as excuses or shields to commit the bad that we are weak enough to engage in!

Stay with me to read about the third part of this post. Jazakallah!

WORDS OF GOLD: The Intentions behind Actions – I

In Islam, Words of Gold: The Quran on March 9, 2009 at 7:49 am

One of the most oft-quoted hadith (Prophet Mohammad’s saying) is the following meaning that rewards of deeds depend upon the intentions.

innamal aamal-u bin-niyyaat

It is also one of the most misapplied hadith, relied upon  in the wrong places, and totally side-lined in the right ones. In order to understand the rights and wrongs in applying this hadith, we must first understand that there are three types of actions in Islamic terms.

The first type of actions is those which Allah has asked us to perform. These encompass not only the musts but also the oughts of Islam: the basic forms of worship, serving the rights of others, and contributing relief to the needy are major examples. A second type of activities are those mundane ones which are the necessary part of daily living: eating, drinking, , raising a family, earning for sustenance and so on. The final type of actions is the prohibited ones.

Now the hadith about intentions stands in a different relation with each of these. Let us begin with the first type.

All of the actions in the first category are GOOD DEEDS. Religiously, socially, morally, some-how or the other, they are good acts. Now when our Prophet (salla-Allahu alaihi wa sallam) reminds us to analyze our real INTENTIONS behind a GOOD DEED, he teaches us an important psychological distinction: There’s a difference between a genuine and a fake act, between a real kindness and an apparent one.

Allah only accepts genuine acts of goodness, not posed or contaminated ones. And why should He? If you were given a gift where you knew the giver was merely fulfilling a formality, showing off, intending to obtain some gain in return, or partronizing you in some way, would you like such a gift? I bet not!

Note, it’s very EASY to mix our intentions behind these good deeds. They are so attractive because they attract others’ attention and earn us a quick good name. A string of speedy rewards follows those who successfully engage in one good act after another. There is the name, the fame, the good talk behind the back, the praise and appreciation on the face, the attention. Temptations to ‘indulge’ in piety merely for the sake of enjoying this good name are numerous. Those who have even slightly tasted  the admiration following the public performance of a moralistic act know it can be addictive. Soon it can be a lust of its own, all the time so subtle we may succeed in deceiving ourselves we are being good for sake of pure goodness.

At first glance we may not recognize the symptoms of this subtle behind-the-facade contamination. But wait…. Do you remember the time when you were rather irritated with the gift you received on your last birthday? You thought it should have been at least at par with the one you had given to the giver on her birthday! Remember the fight you ended up having with that friend whom you realized failed to live up to your expectations after eliciting favors from you first? Remember the lady who chastised her maid on her shortcoming after all the material help the lady had given her so far? The greater the favor before the more the irritation later!

It is difficult to detect the trail of impure intention while we are attempting the goodness. But the scent can be easily picked up in the aftermath.

There’s another key issue linked to this aspect of Intentions that deserves clarifying. What about the non-Muslims who commit good acts? What about them, particularly when they are presumably free of the kind of impurities I have mentioned above? Will Allah accept their deeds? The answer depends on which perspective you are taking, this world or the one to follow.

As far as this world is concerned, the return for a good deed is a good consequence. And in that there’s no distinction among people. Sure, Allah tests everybody with unexpected setbacks and disappointments, but sooner or later the good is returned to us in some form. The point of distinction is the afterworld: No matter how pure and good the good deed, its usefulness in the afterworld rests SOLELY upon the pivotal aspect of intention: Did we do it for the sake of the ONE TRUE GOD?

Consider it like this: You are the principal  in a certain college and unbeknown to you, an unregistered person not only attends all the classes as a student but plays the role very well. He is a highly capable person with genuine talent and uses it well in assignments and presentations and projects. He reaps all the immediate and positive consequences for his efforts: he is learning at the highest rate and acquiring a geniune reputation among the faculty and the class-fellows. Both things which will be definitely be of use to him later.  At the end of the program, however, he comes up to you with a rather frivolous expectation: that you should award him the degree as a result for his untiring and spectacular performance! Absurd, isn’t it?

So Allah will return the goodnesses of the non-believers in this world. But why should He do so in the afterworld when He has made it clear from the outset for whom the Heaven is reserved? In fact this aspect too applies to all of us, Muslims or not. The terms for gaining admission into that pleasant eternal life are clearly set out in the Quran. Our Muslim name doesn’t make a difference. Fair!

As a clarification and authentication of this last point, I refer to you to that famous Hadith-e-Qudsi detailing that the first three to be entered to hell-fire on the Judgment Day will be a martyr, a Quranic scholar and a philanthropist, all three of whom had engaged in their respective noble activities for sake of wordly rewards. Read the full hadith here.

IN the second part of this post, we shall turn to the third category of actions, the prohibited ones. I wish to discuss about this one before the second class of activities (the mundane, daily life ones) because of the widespread mis-use of the concept of intention in its case.

Thanks for being with me so far.

Extremism and Counter-extremism…. Whatever happened to moderation? Part III

In extremism and counter-extremism, Islam on February 25, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Linked to Part I and Part II

Extremism in people’s reaction?

To be extreme means “to be very far in any direction”, to be “farthest from the centre or middle”, and “exceeding the bounds of moderation”.  I recognize extremism in the views of people when they begin with the example of  a  limited group of people and make a sweeping generalization that Islam is a terrorist religion. They ignore the everyday example of the masses of Muslim peoples who form a significant community in a number of non-Muslim countries today. As an example I refer you to a google search using some of the keywords from the terrorism drama and to read some of the postings and comments on blogs and other sites which allow comments. One blog proudly announces as its tagline “know islam, know terror; no islam no terror”.

Apart from the evidence in the authentic sources of Islam cited above, past surveys have  explicitly established that Muslims do not support violence. For instance, surveys in 2006 established that the consensus of the world’s  Muslim population (whether resident in Muslim or non-Muslim countires).  Interestingly, most of the country-wise figures reported are actually higher than the opinions of Americans regarding the issue: A contemporary survey by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Public Attitudes found that 46% of Americans believed that bombing and attacks that were intentionally aimed at civilians were ‘never justified’.

A Gallup poll of Londoners similarly found that the number of Muslim Londoners who renounced violence (81%) was higher than London’s general population (72%). In the same survey, 82% of the Muslims expressed respect for other religions as compared to 54% of the general public. The renown Gallup poll, by the name of Who Speaks for Islam?, found that religiously extremist views were only 7% across the total population surveyed. Contrast with this finding from a poll of Americans by  The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that nearly “one-in-four Americans believes that Islam is a religion of hatred and violence”. This despite the fact that 60% of the sample acknowledged not being knowledgeable about the religion.

A concept of moderation

My inspiration for this series of posts has been a piece of writing by Mr. Khalid Baig. Khalid Baig has been a columnist for the monthly Impact International in South Africa. His columns were published in book form titled First Things First and the piece I’m referring to is one of his republished columns ‘What does Islam teach about justice?’. Below I quote extracts from his column which serve to illustrate the concept of moderation I wish to highlight here.

There is one word that captures the essence of all Islamic laws and all Islamic teachings; one word that describes the overriding value that permeates all Islamic values. Justice. The Qur’an says:

We sent aforetime our messengers with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may stand forth in justice. [Al-Hadeed, ayah 25]

Then:

Under normal circumstances many people can be just. But Islam commands its followers to be just even in the face of strong conflicting emotions. In dealing with other human beings, two major impediments to justice are love and hatred. See how the Qur’an teaches us to overcome the first impediment when we are dealing with out closest relatives or even ourselves.

You who believe, stand our firmly for justice, as witness to Allah, even though it is against yourself, your parents and near relatives; whether it concerns a rich or a poor man, Allah (stands) closer to them both. Do not follow any passion so that you may deal justly. If you swerve about or turn aside Allah is still informed about whatever you do. [An-Nisa, aya 135]

Then, turning to that other impediment, hatred…

Here again Qur’an commands:

You who believe, stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. [Al-Ma’idah, aya 8]

Finally:

Justice does require retribution and Islam does call for “an eye for an eye.” But it does not mean an innocent eye for an innocent eye; it means the eye of the perpetrator for the eye of the victim. It is amazing how those who call the latter as barbaric, actually rally for the former when a real crisis develops.

He wrote these lines many years before the world know terrorism as it knows since 9/11. Yet how aptly this last line applies to the cases of USA and Israel reviewed in the Part II of this post.

This world is full of the lore of terrorism today and the issue is real. Yet, has the world been JUST and MODERATE in its own reactions?

Judge for yourself.

Extremism and Counter-extremism…. Whatever happened to moderation? Part I

In extremism and counter-extremism, Islam on February 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Extremism is a word which truly dominates the world’s political scene today. While  extremism  increasingly  refers to terrorists who use the name of Islam, the reactions to extremism are also extreme if you examine closely. Among governments and societies, the attitudes, the policies and the actions of a majority of those who fight terrorism are no less extreme  as the so called terrorists. Reminds me of the swing of a pendulum which can be either to the left OR to the right, but it will be a SWING any way, as extreme as you push it, only the direction will be different. To be extreme is to far from the centre or the middle, to exceed the bounds of moderation.  So if we sincerely wish to oppose extremism, what shall we rely on? Of course, moderation.

There! I have laid out my thesis. Now let’s develop it more logically…

How come terrorism is  simply that and NOT “Islamic”

We need no reminders that all forms of terrorism are extremist, but we DO need a set of well-rounded arguments that such acts are NOT Islamic even if the perpetuators associate the pure name of Islam.

Here are some:

  1. Terrorists inflict harm and violence upon innocent civilians and non-combatants. On the other hand, Quran states in Ayah 126, Surah Nahal: “If you punish, let your punishment be proportionate to the punishment you received. But if you are patient, it is better for the patient.”  Thus where the central theme of terrorism is intolerance, the counsel of Quran is patience.
  2. Terrorists are indiscriminate in their killing, playing with and ridiculing the sanctity of human life. On the other hand Quran equates illegal killing of ANY individual with killing off the whole humanity; while saving a life is tantamount to saving the human race (Ayah 32, Sura Maida). Also: “The recompense for he who kills a believer deliberately is Gehenna (Hell), he is eternal there. Allah will be angry with him and will curse him and prepare for him a great punishment.” (Ayah 93, Sura An-Nisa). The Islamic law of Qisas is not just for when a Muslim is killed, it holds as much for unjust killing of non-Muslims in a Muslim state.
  3. Terrorists have repeatedly employed suicide-bombers often luring them with promises of “instantaneous admission into Heaven”. The reality is that  suicide is clearly despised according to  several Ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Alehi Wassallam) with the promise of variously defined punishments in Hell [E.g.: No.s 445, 446, Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23]. In one, a hadith-e-qudsi, Allah says “My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him” [No. 445]. In another, the Prophet warned that “if somebody commits suicide with anything in this world, he will be tortured with that very thing on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, No. 73].

Read Part II here.

Read Part III here.

Possibly related in this blog:

On the Sharia deal in Pakistan