(IP) –The Dominican Republic Customs Director, Miguel Cocco, is urging actions to increase Dominican regional exports, saying the DR has been the big loser in regional trade, as reported by DR1. “For every US$10 the country exports to Central America, it imports US$90 from those countries. And for every US$18 exported to the Caribbean, Dominicans import US$82,” he was reported to have said at a trade export summit.
According to Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez, the island nation entered 2009 with a strong economy after small increases in remittances and tourist arrivals. “GDP grew 5.3 percent last year, slightly higher than the average for Latin America, he added. Remittances reached $3.1 billion, a 2.1 percent growth from 2007, while the number of tourist arrivals –nearly 4 million– grew 7 percent and generated $4.2 billion in revenue,” Dominican Today reported.
In commenting on the global crisis, Dominican Today reported the president as saying: “The Dominican Republic has been affected by the accumulation of adversities and calamities that extend across the planet as if it were a modern version of the Seven Plagues of Egypt.”
Dominican Today further reports the country is set to rely on an estimated $1.8 billion in loans from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and others to pay for projects related to education, health and energy, as noted by President Fernandez in his annual Independence Day address earlier this year.
Sources: DR1, Dominican Today
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags: France, Pyranees
By Razia A. Muqit
Islamic Post Contributing Writer
France. Most people, when they think of this country, have visions of city life with bright lights and big tall towers. But that is not what I saw in the French Pyrenees, when I arrived from the small Spanish village in which I had been staying the previous week. What I saw was peace. The mountainous area exuded a feeling of calm serenity. People moved here and there in the markets, but the countryside called me home.
“Wow. Is this where we are stopping?” I asked Abuela (or grandmother –for me she wasn’t blood, but that is a title used for the local older women). “Not here, but a little ways further up we will. I want to buy some fresh baked bread and I know a good stall about 10 kilometers from here where it tastes the best.”
“Okay,” I replied, looking off at different pictures displayed on the post cards that covered a stall directly outside my window.
“Allah’s majesty is ever present throughout the entire world,” I thought to myself. Just look at these flower and mountains, vibrant colors bursting from them the way light bounces off a shiny surface and gleams on everything. Allah Almighty’s grandeur was also very noticeable in the streams we passed, their crystal clear water running quickly over the smooth surface of various rocks that sparkled, reflecting His might and majesty. “France and I are getting along well so far,” I mused in my mind, as the car came to a screeching halt.
Abuela decided since the pedestrians in front of us didn’t have the slightest idea of how to NOT walk in front of the car; we would all just walk from here on. So we walked. We walked past brightly painted portraits of lilacs that sat perched upright on the vendor’s tables. We walked past the murmur of a few smiling people who were all staring at me, my religious clothing separating me from the rest. We walked past twirling children and the smell of roses; past goat cheese that had a faint odor and shoppers all babbling on in French about what to buy and where to buy it; we walked through a picturesque scene that made me realize how blessed I was.
Finally we bought the bread and some fresh cheese, along with some other food purchases that I couldn’t eat, such as a spread made from duck meat. After that, we all trekked back to the car and continued our drive through France, to an ancient French monastery. While driving, my little cousin began asking me about being Muslim.
She said, “Is it like being a nun? If it’s not, then why do you dress like nuns do? Do you believe what mommy believes? Or what Abuela believes?”
And the questions continued on until Allah Almighty allowed us to arrive at the little village where the monastery was located.
Walking around the monastery, although strange to me at first, soon began to seem like a trip through history. Islamic influences were visible everywhere. The structure of the monastery, the archways of some of the entrances, and most of all: the way many of the people dressed in the various portraits on the walls. But where do long robes and covered heads come from? Not Rome or Greece, where the fashions tend to bare. Not England, nor Germany, nor even France. Religious people dressed the same in the time of Mary, mother of Jesus, as they do today.
The Pyrenees, which are located between both Spain and France, have much, if not the same, Islamic influence that the Spanish side received during the Muslim rule. The influence didn’t just stop at the border and say, “Oh, well. This is the end of Spain so…I guess that’s it.” No. It spilled through that little French village with defiance and pride, boasting of itself.
The walk took us through more than just the monastery. It took us around the village, through beautiful lush gardens, and to a park; where we had lunch. It was approaching Asr time now, the time for late afternoon prayers, and my mind began to think of places where I would be able to pray. Nothing came up. I decided I would make my decision when the time for prayer actually arrived and, for the time being, I would just savor my crisp French bread and delicious Spanish cheese. For a while we stood around that park under the shade of an old wooden gazebo. Next to me, a fountain trickled and I saw more influences from Muslims.
“The Muslims who came here came from the desert, and they believed water was a relic to be persevered and respected as a gift from God.” My tour guide at Al Hambra had told us, when a fellow tourist asked why there was water running constantly everywhere we went. Even now in the middle of a small village there was a fountain of water. Near here I prayed. The unique design of these fountains was that there was no outlet for the water to escape, the water was simply kept flowing at a rhythmic pace in a complete circle of fountains so that the water was always fresh and never stale or settled.
After completing lunch, we headed back through the town to the car. On the way to the car, a group of people were passing us. They were definitely French because they were chatting together in their own native languge. Before they made it past us, I said in a booming, excited voice, “Bon Jour!” and, that quickly, France was gone, in a whirl of bread, monasteries, fountains and flowers.
The following passage is the introduction of M.A. Gillani’s historical accounts called, “Some Mystifying and Enigmatic Events,” originally published in Defence Journal. Therein are narrated unexplained events that Mr. Gillani,encountered during his army career:
Sometimes in our lives we experience strange and, at times, baffling events which often keep on haunting us. In this article, some such events, experienced during my army career are being listed below for the interest of the readers. All these events are based on facts but, as they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
First night in Abargarh Fort- Bhimber Sector, Dream or Illusion?
During January 1949, I was commanding a company which was deployed in defence of the fort situated on a commanding feature. The fort was a few centuries old, built by the Mughals, but later occupied by the rulers of Kashmir. The outposts of the fort had decayed with the passage of time. The fort itself was in good shape and looked majestic from a distance. It commanded the Dadabad valley, facing the enemy-held heights called Mandak and Reech. An old sarai (resting place for caravans), also built by the Mughals, existed short of the Sadabad Gala, and below the famous feature, Shaheen (pt. 3350).
The ceasefire in Kashmir was effective on the first of January in 1949, and there was no exchange of fire but troops remained alert in battle locations. I had two platoons deployed on the forward slope of the effort. My company headquarters was in the upper tier of the fort. An artillery observation post and intelligence detachment were also located there for keeping constant watch over enemy movements. On the left of the fort was a dominating height facing the valley, occupied by a volunteer force called the Furqan Battalion. On its left, the hill was defended by the Lashkar of Kashmira Khan.
The Mughal commander’s room, located in one corner of the top tier of the fort, was selected by the senior JCO as my residence. A look inside disclosed that it had not been used for a long time. The room was then cleaned and the floor and walls washed. It was a small room with a canopy type roof, having an opening to the courtyard. There were two slits in the wall facing the valley, and the whole area was visible through the slits.
Before my company shifted to the fort, there used to be only an observation post, defended by a regular section and a detachment of Kashmira Khan’s Lashkar. The enemy often shelled, but the damage was negligible.
The weather was cold, the night was dark, and it was drizzling. The bed had been neatly arranged on the floor. The dim light of the hurricane lamp was my only companion in the room. The cold breeze often entered the room with a whirring sound. I suddenly had the thought that many Mughal commanders must have resided in this room during their stay in the fort.
At times, I felt as if someone was present in the room. I tried to shake off the feeling, but an unknown fear gripped me, and I started reciting the kalima, and Ayatul Kursi (blessed words from Holy Qur’an by which are sought the protection and refuge of the Almighty), and tried to sleep. Suddenly, I heard the clashes of swords and cries of some wounded person. At the same time, I felt as if someone was sitting on my chest. With a loud yell, I managed to shake off the weight. I opened my eyes, and in the dim light of the lamp, I saw someone’s shadow. As I got up, someone hurriedly left the room – I distinctly heard the swish of heavy clothes.
The nearest guard was about 15 yards away, but I did not call anyone. In order to hide my fear, I went out in the wet night to check the sentries, whom I found alert. I remained awake for the rest of the night, and the next day I shifted to a place closer to the men’s quarters. I did not disclose my experience to anyone, and to this day, I often wonder whether that was only a dream, or an illusion? This experience remains unexplained and mysterious in my memory box.
-Editor’s note: Out of the creation of Allah Almighty, there are human beings, angels, and also jinn beings. Jinns are mischievous by nature, frequent uninhabited spaces, and enjoy playing tricks on human beings.
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, International, travel, World | Tags: IQOU, Pakistan Consulate, Racial Profiling
By Muhammad Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
In the third week of November, staff and students of the International Quranic Open University (IQOU) received “unjust treatment” at the hands of the Pakistani Consulate General’s office in New York City.
Upon application, Islamic Post Senior Reporter, Khadijah Smith, Nuriyah Nisaa Brooks, staff writer and teacher; along with her assistant, Saminah Abdul Jalil, were denied visas of more than 30 days for their assignments.
On Monday, November 17, IQOU staff members experienced a “tremendous amount of difficulty” upon their visit to the Pakistani consulate where the correspondents were denied the 3 month visas. In what seemed a display of showmanship, the staff were then told to return the following day, with promises of a 45 day visa, which the consulate said would be issued “at the very least.” However, upon returning on Tuesday, only 30 day visas were issued.
IQOU staff and students remain awestruck at the way the diplomatic representatives of Pakistan rendered their thanks to the University. After having fostered decades of understanding and common ground between the United States and Pakistan, IQOU received shortened lengths of stay; whereas –according to the Pakistan Interior Division website– American correspondents normally receive the three month time period that had been requested by the IQOU division, the Islamic Post. On the other hand, tourists are allowed stays up to six months.
The deputy director insists that this is not the first incident in which IQOU staff and students were ill-treated at the consulate for no apparent reason. “This is ingratitude, the same ingratitude with which the University was treated in 2005 when we came to the consulate, supplies in hand, to help victims after the first earthquake,” IQOU Deputy Director, Khalifa Muhammad Hussain Abu Bakr told the Islamic Post. “What does it say about the diplomatic efforts of those on the receiving end to behave in this manner? It is unbecoming,” The American Muslim Medical Relief Team, which operates under the auspices of IQOU, sent doctors and nurses who left their families in 2005 to assist victims in Pakistan. The team rendered medical treatment, free of charge, to innumerable earthquake victims at the Ayub Medical Hospital Complex in Abbottabad. Working tirelessly, and without salary, team members became heroes of the day in Pakistan, and back home as well. The three men and five women dispatched to Abbottabad brought with them much needed medical supplies, food, army-type canvas tents, woolen blankets, sweaters, and other warm clothing for the thousands of men, women, and children who were left without homes, shelter, or a means to keep warm as cold temperatures swept the mountainous regions, which had been hardest hit. The supplies were distributed in Azad Kashmir and the Mansehra area. IQOU saved lives in areas from which other, perhaps more well-known, workers pulled out in despair regarding the devastating medical crisis and constant subsequent deaths. The American Muslims, clearly visible and in uniform, won over the hearts of patients and set an example for the local staff. Eid found them distributing sweets and juices to the patients.
For their part, IQOU staff and students, in the USA, launched diligent telethon fund-raisers in the United States and Canada; most even went door to door soliciting donations. Given the manner in which Pakistan is represented in the media, this was no easy task; yet, American and Canadian non-Muslims and Muslims gave generously, their hearts having been struck by the overwhelming human catastrophe which, as the weeks ensued, was becoming a humanitarian failure.
Staff members repeatedly asserted that the New York consulate should be able to differentiate between friend and foe, and insist they “would be in Balochistan right now helping the people,” but insufficient support is being lent by the consulate.
Clothing and other non-perishables were to be delivered by journalists of the Open University for the 20,000 displaced victims of October’s Balochistan earthquake. The Pakistani Embassy issued a general request for aid for Balochistan in the beginning of November; it is inconceivable that the consulate in New York, while subordinate to the embassy, would not be of the utmost assistance to the University staff in their quest to aid the people of Pakistan,
IQOU is already taking further steps to address the matter. The Honourable Saqib Rauf, Vice Consul General, is currently being contacted directly with the grievances of the University; if necessary the University intends to contact the Embassy directly to rectify the matter. -Aisha Abdallah contributed to this report.
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Education, International, Religion, travel, World | Tags: IQOU
By Abu Rashid Qadri, Islamic Post Staff Writer
The International Quranic Open University (IQOU) takes great pleasure in announcing that three of its most advanced students will travel to Egypt, in late September, with the intent of entering the most renowned Islamic University in the world, Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
Muhammad Mahmud AbdusSabur, Durdana Amatullah Shakir, and Safiah A. Salaam will study Tafsir of Holy Qur’an, AHadith, Fiqah, and Language at the highly acclaimed institute of learning. Their academic pursuits abroad are scheduled to begin with their entrance into the university in October of 2008 for the fall semester.
For over two and a half decades, the Vice Chancellor of the International Quranic Open University, His Eminence, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, has worked unceasingly to raise the standards of both Islamic and secular education for Muslims here in America. The very first courses and programs initiated concentrated on the very basic rudiments of learning. Today, through the efforts of this very special pioneer, American Muslims, in particular, have sought and earned certificates, diplomas, and various degrees in a vast variety of subjects, while studying both in the United States, and abroad.
The achievements of these gifted students, and the International Quranic Open University, will serve as a stepping stone to greater academic accomplishments, and Insha’Allah, will result in contributions of greater significance to the global society, for generations to come.
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags: Egypt
By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Egypt is a land of many beauties. This nation is home to more than 80 million people. The vast majority, roughly 90% are Muslims, while the rest are Coptic Christians. Though all the cultures are dominated by common Islamic practices, they do vary in many ways from region to region; the north being influenced by Europe and the Middle East, and the south with more Habashi and Islamic practices.
Egypt is most widely identified by the great pyramids at Giza, but there is far more to see in this country of many faces; and when it comes to fun and interesting tourist destinations, Egypt ranks among the best in the world.
The north coast, which lies on the Mediterranean Sea, is lined with breathtaking beaches and resorts. Alexandria is probably the most well-known northern destination to outsiders, with its popular beaches and sea-front resorts and condos. The Mediterranean, with all its history and mystery is a favorite stop for surfers wanting to catch the steady slow of good waves,;families looking to spend wholesome time together, and the occasional romantic simply becoming lost in thought and imagination while staring into its powerful, soothing motion. The city of nearly five million people, which is locally nicknamed “Alex,” is also home to a huge library, built in the spirit of the historical Library of Alexandria, once the academic center of the world. Its beautiful architecture and variety of indoor activities make it a popular stop for families and group visits as well as intellectuals.
If calmer, salty seas and more peaceful beaches are your preference, than Marsa Matruh, a seaside city, is most welcoming to those seeking a little more privacy. As in any of the northern coastal towns, you can find fine Mediterranean cuisine, at prices that don’t upset your stomach.
Egypt’s entire eastern borders, as well as the southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, are formed by the Red Sea. Perhaps the most frequented areas of the country are along the Red Sea coast. This famous area is where Nabi Musa –who is Moses the Holy Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace– crossed on foot, bringing his people out from under the oppressive grip of the pharaoh, Ramses II.
These days the coast is more popular with tourists, foreign and domestic alike; though historians and theologians still abound in the area. People come for the snorkeling, calm crystal blue water, colorful corals and all manner of activities.
Luxor and Aswan are the two largest cities in Upper Egypt (though it’s actually in the south, its called “upper” because the Nile runs from north to south). In these places you will find many ancient temples like Karnack and Luxor. Many travelers come to this area to visit the Nubian people, who are world-famous for their excellent manners and hospitality. The beauty of the landscape in Upper Egypt is also breathtaking.
Then there’s Cairo, simply called “Egypt” by many here; perhaps because this sprawling city of over twenty million inhabitants contains the many flavors of this diverse country within its boundaries. Located directly on the Nile River, Cairo bustles at all hours. There is no shortage of places to go and things to do here. Its rich history, from the pharaohs to the Uthmanian Turks is on full, open display everywhere you go. From the pyramids of Giza, to the museum of antiquities, which contains the naturally preserved body of Fir’oun, or Pharoah of Quranic scripture, one could spend a lifetime seeing and reading all that’s available.
The Egyptians are warm friendly people, and their capitol, which reflects them as a whole is, in comparison with other big cities around the world, fairly peaceful. And though over-pricing for foreigners is common, outright crime is relatively non-existent, which makes for a nice stay anywhere.
Cairo, being nicknamed the City of a Thousand Minarets, is probably not much of an exaggeration. There is a mosque, or masjid, at nearly every turn; and one can find detailed stories of the rich Islamic history here. The Muhammad Ali Masjid, surrounded by the Citadel of Salahuddin Ayyubi, is the most prominent in appearance, and towers over the entire city.
Islamic Cairo, a district within the city walls, is an open-air museum straight from the Middle Ages. With its crowded, narrow, winding streets, and vendors who have changed little with time, one can easily lose tract of the current century. The beautiful masjids of Islamic Cairo, which are still in everyday use, are fascinating both spiritually and esthetically. The most prominent of these is that of Sayedina Hussein Bin Ali, may Allah be pleased with him and his father. After being slain along with his family and children in the desert sands of Karbala, his blessed head was brought to Cairo by his sister Sayeda Zeinab and only surviving son Imam Zain ul Abideen, may Allah be pleased with both of them, and buried where the masjid stands today.
The Egyptians had been persuaded at some point to allow the blessed head of Sayedina Hussen bin Ali to be buried along with his body at Karbala, but the Egyptians have been reluctant to depart with the blessings sought due to its presence.
Popular Egyptian Cuisine
The most common and distinctly Egyptian food is a dish called koshary. This mixture of chick peas, onions, noodles, and rice is served with a special tomato-based sauce and an optional flaming-hot sauce. Other popular foods are fool mudammas stewed beans eaten with pita bread and tamaya, otherwise known as falafel (shown above).
Fool Mudammas – Dry Broad beans, stewed
There are three main types of dry broad beans:
1) Fool Rumi, or Greek beans: are large flat and whitish.
2) Fool Hamam, or pigeon beans: are small, round and dark brown.
3) Fool Baladi Sa’idi, or Local Upper Egyptian beans: are whitish and mid-size.
1. 2 cups dry broad beans (fava beans)
2. 1/2 cup split lentils
3. Optional: 1 tomato, 1 carrot, and 1 onion.
1. Place beans and lentils in a dammasa, or stewing pot, with at least three times their measure in water.
A dammasa is a metal, vase-shaped pot with a tight lid and narrow neck used chiefly to stew dried broad beans, or fool, but a regular stewing pot may be used.
2. Boil over a high flame, then add any or all the optional vegetables.
3. Bring to boil, cover very tightly, and simmer over very slow flame for 6-9 hours, or overnight, adding more boiling water whenever the water is absorbed and beans are dry (cold water will shrivel the beans, change the taste, and make them hard). This is the basis of fool mudammas.
4. Then mash the beans with oil (cottonseed, olive, linseed, or corn oil), lemon, salt, and any of the following ingredients: crushed garlic, grated onions, chopped tomatoes, and cumin.
A quicker but less attractive way to cook Fuul is to use a pressure cooker. Though the taste of the beans will remain the same, the color tends to turn much darker.
Filed under: July Volume II - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, National, Religion, travel | Tags: Events
Under the auspices of His Eminence, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, an invitation is extended for you to please join us at the Banaatun Noor International, Incorporated,
2008 Ladies’ Summer Camp,
From August 2nd through August 30th, 2008 in Holy Islamberg, New York.
As Salaamu Alaykum
Here lies an opportunity to strengthen Iman, cultivate the spiritual self, and in so doing effect change within and without.
The 22nd Annual 2008 Banaatun Noor Ladies Summer Camp [Invitation] has been, and continues to serve as, a retreat through which ladies can discover, then bequeath, an enriched Islamic identity with confidence and without reserve.
Come participate in strengthening the bonds of love and unity that can only be found in coming together for Allah’s pleasure, and learning His Deen and the sunnah of the Holy Last Messenger, Our Master, Syedina Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Strength is Iman; and Iman is the foundation of life. We, the Banaatun Noor Staff, anticipate providing a service that, Allah willing, will bring every participant success. Please take special care in preparing for this camp. Purify the intentions; open the heart and mind; and prepare to receive all that Allah, the Most High, has in store.
Make intentions clear to travel, study, and absorb the knowledge that will be made available to all for the pleasure of Allah, who is Glorified and the Most High. By seeking knowledge, one may then adhere to the commands of the Holy Quran, and sunnah of our Holy Master, Syedina Muhammad, peace be upon him and his family.
The BNI Camp Staff sends its warmest regards, and is looking forward to your response.
For more information please contact Khadijah Smith or Tahirah Khaliq.
Filed under: July Volume II - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags: travel
By Asma Younus, Special to the Islamic Post
To view the pdf of the print pversion of this paper, click here
The Shaqaiq al Naumaan (sisters of Naumaan) are waving at me. I stop to stare at them. In this wilderness of ruins of a powerful castle, I feel they want to tell me the story of Sultan Salahuddin.
This is what brings me here.
Salahuddin’s castle is on top of a mountain, flanked by two ravines. You enter through the south gate by ascending 144 steps. It is approached by traveling up the mountain on hairpin bends, and looking down at the possibility of sure death with the slightest miscalculation of the road edge.
I think of Salahuddin and his family, emigrating on the night of his birth from Mosul to Aleppo. He spends his first sixteen years being educated in Islam by the Sufis, those masters of the science whose objective is the reparation of the heart, and turning it away from all else but God.
Suddenly all the stories that I have heard about him come to life for me; that he possessed Ehsaan, a high level of Awareness of the Almighty and resulting good behavior, which is an integral part of Islam. It is a virtue that is contained in the Holy Last Messenger, and Mercy to Mankind, Muhammad, (may the Peace of the Almighty and His blessings be upon him).
Ehsaan is a quality so difficult to imbue into one’s actions as a victor with the power to hurt or desecrate.
I see Salahuddin as a young boy, learning to forgive, to give more than is being asked, to take only what is needed, and to give away the rest for the pleasure of Allah. I can see the little boy who grows up to be a powerful strong soldier, and the Sultan that spares the Crusaders when he conquers Jerusalem. Those very Crusaders, whom, on conquering Jerusalem, had massacred so many, that it is recorded in history books that their horses waded in blood up to their knees. And yet when he (Salahuddin) enters Jerusalem as a conqueror, and has those very Crusaders at his mercy, he lets them go.
Extreme faith had entered his very being. He was the epitome of a true Muslim, one who surrenders his will to the Almighty, sincere faith exuding from every cell of his heart.
Why was he a soldier then? The thought occurs to me as I walk the paths in Salahuddin’s castle. Every Shaqaiq e Naumaan, as the red poppies of the desert are affectionately called, waves to me gently in the breeze, reminding me of their frailty and their temporary stay this spring, in this stronghold.
I look around; the scene is breathtaking. The breeze blows, laden with memories of the past glory of the Muslims.
There is an underlying assurance of the impermanence of life, power, and even, for some, sincere belief.
All things must end, good or bad, with the final judgment: punishment and reward meted out by Allah, Glory be to Him, on The Day – the final Day of Judgment whence everything and every part of us will give witness to our past actions, and there will be no shade for the sinner.
Nowhere else am I more acutely aware of this than in Salahuddin’s powerful castle, now in ruins.
Something turned him into what he became: The knight for the defense of the defenseless.
As we roll back the pages of history, we realize that power changed hands when one king decided that he could attack Makkah and Madinah, the holiest of places for Muslims, and massacre a ship full of pilgrims.
Anyone with as strong an ego as most rulers and leaders possess would have punished Balian and the Franjs of Jerusalem with a vengeance, but not Salahuddin. His earlier training of reining in the lower desires with prayer and fasting stood him in good faith.
Perhaps his leniency sprouted from the knowledge that there was outside incitement by the globalists of the day, who urged the Crusaders on, in an effort to annihilate both Christian and Muslim. Some things don’t change.
From The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf:
“He entered Jerusalem on Friday October 2, 1187 or Rajab 27, 583 by the Muslim calendar, the very day on which Muslims celebrate the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad’s( may the Peace of The Almighty and His blessing be upon him) nocturnal Journey to Jerusalem (Isra wal mi’raaj- when the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, traveled during a part of one night to the ‘Aqsa Mosque, where he ascended into the heavens and was called into the Divine Presence). The Sultan’s emirs and soldiers had strict orders: No Christian, whether Frankish or Oriental, was to be touched. And indeed there was neither massacre nor plunder.”
The fact that the Christian shrines and churches still stand today in Jerusalem bear witness to Salahuddin’s level of faith when entering as the Conqueror of Jerusalem.
“Most of the Franj (Frankish Crusaders) remained in the city after Salahuddin conquered it. He (Salahuddin), surrounded by a mass of companions, went from sanctuary to sanctuary weeping, praying, and prostrating himself. He allowed the rich to sell their property to Orthodox Christians and Jews who planned to continue to stay on.”
His extreme level of faith, and fulfilling his pact with the vanquished patriarch of Jerusalem, was demonstrated when the patriarch of Jerusalem drove out of the city accompanied by numerous chariots filled with gold, carpets and all sorts of precious goods. Imad al Din Asfahani was scandalized, and the treasurers of the Muslim state became angry:
I said to the Sultan (Salahuddin): “The patriarch is carrying off riches worth at least two hundred thousand dinars! We gave them permission to take their personal property with them but not the treasures of the churches and convents. You must not let them do it!” But Salahuddin answered, “We must apply the letter of the accords we have signed, so that no one will be able to accuse the believers of having violated their treaties. On the contrary, Christians everywhere will remember the kindness we have bestowed upon them.”
The red poppies swaying in the wind smile at me, baring their chests to show me the black covering on their hearts. Is the black cover on their hearts waiting to be polished by the Believers of the Muslim world? Their petals are deep red with the blood of Muslims soaking the earth all over.
I detect no sadness in their demeanor, as they sway with the breeze, their delicate petals red with the central black covering on their hearts.
They seem to say, as they gently wave to me, “Powers greater than those who are now bent on the destruction of Muslim homes and countries have perished in the past, by the power of the Almighty, without even one human being taking part. Do not grieve, this too shall pass!”
An Adaptation of “How Sing the Andalusian Poets,”
By Juan José Ceba
The subject of poetry is always ether to us.
It spells love, solitude, time, death or destruction.
It is known to inherit gorgeous richness in form, with the refinement and aesthetics of overflowing purification: metaphors, comparisons, hyperboles, personifications and an inexhaustible technical show.
Thus, our poetry sings on a current of the light, the air, the aroma and the essence of beauty, thinking of Paradise, a garden that burns at night, the flowering of love; nature in its totality. These live on in the ardor of the soul of the poet, until oneness and aroma of the earth forms within him.
They urged on the free, wittingly powerful critic, with a fine humor that touched the core. They were loving in the end of an improvisation. It is from them, as it observed Garcia Gomez, that “everything can be turned into the matter of art.”
They go deep, and they find the route mystical. Into fusion with the Loved one, go these Sufis. They were the poets.
Filed under: July Volume I- 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags: Gilani, Pakistan, thoughts, travel, World
By El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, Vice Chancellor International Qur’anic Open University, Chief Editor Islamic Post
Introduction by Islamic Post Staff Writer
Bismillahir Rahma nir Raheem
The Vice Chancellor El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani was the first person to give a scientific demonstration on the healing powers of the Holy Quran from 1976 – 1977. In the 1980’s, he spent his life conducting khalwas (retreats) in the desert and mountains where talibs beheld the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, who told them what was to happen in the upcoming century of Islam. This is recorded in Futihat-e-Muhammadiya. However, during his school days, he spent his entire life in the mountains leading national and international expeditions. He established mountaineering and hiking clubs based on character-building through adventure. Students and army personnel from all over Pakistan were trained. From the very beginning of his life, each and every minute has been spent in serving and achieving. Many talibs (seekers) will be amazed to learn the type of life he led and the world he faced. He undertook expeditions to explore Northern regions in the range of the Karakoram Mountains which have some of the highest peaks and longest glaciers in the world. At that time very little was known about that area. By writing articles and stories about his expeditions, he inspired the youth to be adventurous and to explore the unknown regions of Pakistan. He established a youth hostel association which eventually built hostels in many attractive mountainous regions, including the Kaghan Valley. He imparted courage, boldness, fearlessness, a sense of enterprise and a passion for adventure to the youth of Pakistan. El Sheikh and his companions were the bravest, most adventurous, and most fearless people on the face of the earth. Their expeditions produced maps and routes to unknown places and information on various cultures. After he left mountaineering, he felt saddened that no-one continued exploring the unknown areas; he was very sorry that adventure died in Pakistan. All that he and his companions had accomplished through exploration became a legend. The following article reprint from the Pakistan Times is the result of El Sheikh and his companions traveling with full pack, in burning heat, 16 to 20 miles per day. El Sheikh had hardly come out of high school; his command of language, the graphic description of the new region, Nagar Valley, previously unexplored in Pakistan, is plain to see. In the 90’s, our own mountain and hiking club of Islamberg passed through Nagar and Hunza when going to China. Of course, the Islamberg Hiking Club went by jeep but previously, the Vice Chancellor walked.
“Journey to the Land of Gold and Apricots” is reprinted on the occasion when El Sheikh celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of friendship with Brigadier Sher Khan, a lifelong friend and partner in adventure, along with a few others such as Dr. Farakh Ahmed Khan. Friendship is something, also, to feel happy and proud about; for it to be valued and unbroken continuously for fifty years is remarkable. Brigadier Sher Khan has just celebrated his fortieth wedding anniversary. This is a good lesson, for people should celebrate their 40th, 50th wedding anniversaries. We all wish Muhammed Sher Khan, Dr. Farakh Ahmed Khan, and others, a happy, prosperous and blissful life and continuation of friendship in this world and the hereafter as well!
Journey To The Land Of Gold And Apricots
By Mubarik Ali Gilani
Secretary, Climbers Club of Pakistan
Brigadier Sher Khan receives an award and certificate of honor for climbing and exploring from Lieutenant General Bakhtiar Rana.
This summer the Climbers Club of Pakistan sponsored a mountaineering expedition under the patronage of Lieutenant General Bakhtiar Rana. On their way the expedition passed through the State of Nagar which forms the subject of this article. The flight to Gilgit is well known as a daring feat of flying. Usually the route follows the Indus river gorge and the Babusar Pass. Our Dakota at Rawalpindi was stuffed with many odd things. When it was air-borne, we were rather impatient for a sight of the Nanga Parbat. Most of us occupied the seats near the windows facing the mountain. Down below, the view was partially curtained by heavy clouds. Thick, black forests bordering snowy summits heralded the approach of Kaghan Valley. The tiny, irregular shaped terraces on the banks of the river presented a beautiful pattern of many colors. The narrow, winding road running along the turquoise-green Kunhar River seemed more enchanting than usual. The view changed abruptly and the scene was now dominated by the peak of Nanga Parbat. This solitary peak has fortified itself with its steep icy precipices which fall almost vertically for more than 16,000 feet over the Diamir Glacier. This summer, the Nanga Parbat has repelled another assault by the German team.
I saw its familiar contours. I could see the last ridge on which Herman Buhl’s successful climb was accomplished in 1953. Then, down below, I saw the fatal camp site over the Monk’s Head where almost the entire German expedition vanished in 1937. I could guess that from here F. Mummery, one of the earliest Europeans, vanished in 1892. Haramosh dominated the scene when we turned west from Bunhji for Gilgit. It had defied many attempts before it was scaled. Then Rakaposhi appeared from her veil of clouds.
The Dakota landed very smoothly and we were in Gilgit, to see the old familiar faces and friends. We headed for our usual Garden rest house. There is a small island platform in the river, beside the rest house. I guess it is the favorite rendezvous of the Gilgit elite. After some days, one cloudy morning we left on our long journey towards our mountain which is situated in the Nagar territory. Nomal, the first stage from Gilgit, is about 16 miles, and is dreaded by travelers due to scarcity of water and the absence of shade and shelter. Usually, people prefer to travel on this route at night.
Chalt is the next stage from Nomal and the distance is about 15 miles. It is situated in a large bowl-shaped valley rich in orchards and crops. It is also the winter capital of the Mir of Nagar.
We traveled its long, narrow, poplar-flanked lanes for some miles which led us on to a road; this further ran along a stream, which we crossed.
About six miles up, along Hunza River, a very dangerous rock-cut track offers thrilling trekking. Usually, people get down at this extremely steep, precipitous stretch. A helper runs with a piece of stone along it in order to put it behind the tyres to check the back skid, which can result in a plunge into the river hundreds of feet below. No doubt it is risky to travel by jeep on this route.
At Khazirabad we crossed once again into Nagar territory and reached Sikandarabad. This is a large village whose source of water is the nullahs coming down from the Rakaposhi glaciers. The land is extremely fertile and the scenery magnificent. Forests high above provide these people with timber which is a rarity in Hunza.
As compared to Hunza, Nagar is much more fertile, but Nagarites have not developed a liking for outsiders yet. Since we arrived in the fruit season, we had apricots and mulberries in evidence everywhere. In the beginning we enjoyed taking fruits very much but gradually we were satiated with them.
Fruit is the staple diet of these people. Even goats, cows, dogs, and horses enjoy these fresh or dry fruits. I was told that, in the apple season, the cows are fed on apples. Rakaposhi is one of the most precious gifts of nature to the people of Nagar. Without Rakaposhi, Nagar would be reduced to desert. The most impressive view of Rakaposhi, however, can be had from Hunza. Mike Bank, a well-known British mountaineer, who led the joint Pak- British expedition which climbed it in 1958, believes that this peak is much more difficult than Everest. After having a look at its steep frozen massif and precipices and walls, I am also of the same opinion. Perhaps Nanga Parbat offers the only comparison. It is a blessing for the Nagarites. It lends eternal beauty to the valley and its sweet streams irrigate their fields. Its pastures supply them with milk and meat and its forests yield a generous supply of wood and timber.
From Sikandarabad we hired mules and donkeys to carry our equipment up to the next stage-Minnapin. All along the way, for more than sixteen miles, we passed under a canopy of fruit trees flanking the roads. We were told that every tree which grows on the roadside is dedicated to travelers. Nobody owns these trees. Our march was interrupted several times when we had to distribute medicines to the ailing people of the locality. Most of the people were suffering from dysentery. Our doctor told us that they get it from the wells they use for water storage. Cases of malaria and eye sore were also fairly common.
All Beauty is Music
I believe all the beauty in nature can be translated into music, and the mountains produce music for those who have “ears” to listen to this music. For appreciating this music, one needs to develop a hearing power which can only be acquired through communion with nature.
It was moonlight when we reached Nagar and were led towards the royal guest house. We were astonished to find that our meal was ready and that it had been arranged by the order of His Highness. Next morning we met the most illustrious and colorful personality of Nagar – the old Wazir. Although he is seventy and keeps a long white beard, he enjoys robust health.
The town of Nagar lies on the right bank of the Nagar River and to the west of Baltit, the capital of Hunza. The Nagar River is formed after the confluence of Nispar with Hopar above Nagar from where it is known as Nagar River.
From here there is no regular approach to Hunza except a rope bridge, which is considered the nightmare of travelers. Perhaps it is due to this that Nagar is very little known to outsiders. This bridge is supported by two cables which are bound together and covered by small wooden planks set at irregular distances. And a pair of cables is supposed to offer hand support to the traveler. One of my companions had a very narrow escape while crossing the bridge. Nagar is situated on a high plateau which guards approaches to the interior of the Karakoram. Routes to Hispar, Baifo, and other glaciers lead from here. Among the peaks, Dastigil Sar, Kunyang Chhish, and Ghani Chhish, all are approached from Nagar.
I was told that there were no police and all the affairs were looked after by the headmen of the villages, themselves, who keep in touch with the Ruler. Few crimes are committed, and there was only one murder, 18 years ago. There is no set code of laws.
An average Nagarite is tough, well-built, fair, and sturdy. They do not belong to the same race as the people of Hunza. The people are very religious and do not have many colorful customs and rites. The women are very shy and observe strict purdah. After marriage, many discard it in order to be able to look after the fields. The rosy, chubby children are pretty and seem to be well fed.
An average Nagar house is built with boulders and mud, which is plastered with a thin layer of hard clay. Most of the houses are double-storeyed. The lower storey is used for cattle and the upper for family members.
The Golden Peak
The Golden Peak is the most romantically carved mountain I have ever seen. It dominates the view from every ridge, spur, field, or any place in Nagar. It shoots up into the blue heaven more than 24,000 feet. For myself, I found there was no better pastime than to watch it during evening hours.
Nagarites are, by nature, peace-loving people. They have not indulged in war against any people. The royal house of Nagar is closely related to that of Hunza, due to many inter-marriages which have strengthened the relations between the two.
Songs and Dances
Nagarites dance when they wish to honor their guests, or on weddings and festivals. It is considered a necessary education for a gentleman. The better a man can dance, the more respected he is in society. It is a tradition that the wazirs of the Ruler should be fully conversant with dances. Their dances are altogether different from our dances. And there is no link between these and the Khattak dance of the Frontier. The Nagar dances closely resemble the dances performed in Tashkent. The music is simple yet very enchanting indeed. It consists of drums of various sizes, flutes, sarods, and the audience usually takes part in rhythmic clapping, howling and whistling.
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Filed under: July Volume I- 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Poetry, Religion, Touring | Tags: Dominican Republic, Islam, love, poetry, Religion
By Maryam A. Latif,
the Dominican Republic
(Click on the original link above for the Spanish of this post.)
Sometimes, I have thought…
Here with the most humble remembrance,
that awakens during the night, when I’m sleepy;
He soothes me, He overwhelms me, matchless,
covering more than half my thoughts, those that
turn around in my mind and finally turn to You…
I hold on, in hope of some sign that will end
the uncertainty of that longing, for You, and what
You represent to me.
You love me with a pure love, sincere and with
compassion, and this is in what I hope.
You make me happy with each small thing, You give me
everything and at the end, after finding You and
knowing You, I will not have to hope nor desire,
for You are here.
You turn my shadow, in the light it travels, and
returns to me filling me with hope, an immense
serenity of peace that clothes my being, my soul
flaming to have found You, and to be taught by
What happiness is this which overwhelms
the uncertainty, arriving at Your path and coming
to know You?
So I come to understand that You are the
most pure and beautiful, all that I hoped for.
Never does it matter the stones, rocks, voids in
my path, every pain is worth you in the end. I
will come back to You and I place my hope in you
because You have filled me with life and flashes
of light, having fallen upon a dry earth, which
made me into Spring, for You.
For You are who I love in truth, Who has made me happy, so…
Can I live my life to Your desire, because
of You and for You, and renounce that which I
thought at one time was happiness?
Can I accept a way of living created by You which will bring me
nearer to You?
The answer is, yes, ya Allah
From me to Thee, oh Merciful One.
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