Filed under: Magazine/ Culture, May Volume I - 2009, Religion | Tags: Gilani, Jilani
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Reciting naat and qasidahs, Muslims of the Americas (MOA) pay tribute to International Quranic Open University Vice Chancellor, Perfect Sufi Master, His Eminence, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani Hashmi, a direct descendant of the world-renowned saint and scholar of Islam, Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani.
(IP) –The Muslims of the Americas gathered to pay tribute to His Eminence, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Gilani in April when MOA founding mothers, Zahidah Faruq and Umm Shafi (Aisha Begum) were invited to recite special naats they had written many years ago that have inspired generations to follow the ways of love, peace and selflessness set out by El Sheikh Gilani. The two ladies graced the occassion with a joint recitation. For one naat, Umm Shafi was accompanied by two of her sons, one of whom sings for the up and coming group Ansaruddeen. Songs by founding mother Baji Halimah Sahar were also recited. Baji Halimah has written over 100 such songs and poems and published her work via Zavia Books entitled:A Journey of Love In Na’ats and Poetry.
After releasing “Ya Ilahi” last year, Ansaruddeen is expected to record their next album later this year. Many of the songs recited by Ansaruddeen also pay tribute to El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, who is greatly loved by the group members and their fans. The group, which consists of three young men –Ibrahim Caba, Abdul Manaan A. Hakim and Muhammad Hussain A. Khabir– gave their most recent concert during a fundraising dinner at Abu’s House of Halal, a restaurant in Binghamton, NY. Fans of the group and devotees of El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani were able to hear a live Ansaruddeen performance in an elegant setting, and guests enjoyed traditional curry chicken with grilled spicy vegetables and flat bread, and also American classics such as filet mignon, rice and a specially prepared cake.
Filed under: Education, Magazine/ Culture, May Volume I - 2009, Religion | Tags: Jamal al Quran
Appeal to Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to Take Immediate Action to Bring Culprits ForwardPRESS RELEASE
To: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
Supreme Court of Pakistan
and the Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs
From: United Muslim Advocates Guild
Re: Your Attention to Inaccurate References in Jamal ul Quran Regarding Our Holy Last Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)
Date: May 6, 2009
Dear Your Honors:
I write to you on behalf of the United Muslim Advocates Guild headquartered in the United States of America. This letter concerns a current injustice taking place in your country. Approximately four years ago, members of our staff purchased four dozen Holy Qur’ans published by Zia ul Quran – The translator of the English/Arabic edition of Jamal ul Quran is Professor Anis Ahmad Sheikh and the proofreading was done by Professor Muhammad Shaffi.
Upon review, we were shocked to discover the most insulting commentary regarding our Beloved Holy Last Messenger (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him). Specifically, the line to be scrutinized is the seventh ayat of the 93rd Surah, Ad-Duha, hereinafter (“the ayat”). The use of the word “distracted” for the Arabic term dalaala in the ayat when referring to the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) is incorrect and surely a gross insult to him, to his blessed and pure family (peace be upon them all) and to the entire Muslim world!
We contacted the publishers without hesitation to inform them of this gross error. Our staff strongly suggested the publishers: Pizada Muhammad Hafeez-ul-Barakaat Shah, and his brother Pizada Muhammad Ibrahim Shah place an editor’s slip or notation into each Holy Qur’an detailing the distortion and correcting the inaccuracy of the translation. Shamefully, both made little of the maligning of the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and treated the whole issue as though it was of no importance and insignificant. Their arrogant, remorseless response was, “We don’t have time for this matter.” The two refused to address the issue further. It is unconscionable to think this matter is occurring in a Muslim country where those in control claim to be Ahli Bait. They profess to be family of our Holy Last Messenger (May Allah be pleased with him) but none has stepped up to protect his Honor.
The correct meaning of the ayah concerned is “We found you absorbed in love of Allah and we show you the way.” This is the same interpretation of the word dalaala as it was used in Sura Yusuf when referring to Hazrat Yaqub (peace be upon him) in order to express the extreme love for his son Hazrat Yusuf (peace be upon him). The Almighty Allah states that: “My Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) is not insane, nor a liar, nor a confused person.” The Arabic/Urdu Dictionary published in Karachi and Lahore concurs that the word used in translation to mean “distracted” is used to describe someone who is weak-minded or one with a mental flaw. The words Pagall (insane , distracted) and Jhoot (meaning lies and insane) were used. To even suggest such derogatory characteristic could exist in the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) is an unspeakable affront to the most perfect of creation and a fraudulent portrayal of Rasooli Akram’s (peace and blessings be upon him) impeccable character. This is a grave offense and may Allah forgive us for having to even associate these words in within the same paragraph of Our Holy Last Messenger!
Further, the United Muslim Advocates Guild and the International Qur’anic Open University have jointly sponsored a newspaper correspondent to travel to your country to personally deliver this letter and to monitor the situation.
To this end, we are respectfully requesting that you exercise your influence to order the publishers to rectify this problem with all urgency. Sirs, you have the authority to rectify this injustice suo motto and we implore you to do so.
If our demand is ignored by the government of Pakistan, then we will be forced to rally and protest against the arrogant and blasphemous statement contained in the publication.
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Attorney at Law
Filed under: Business/Economy, Interfaith, International, May Volume I - 2009, National, Religion, World
(IP)– This month, regulatory bodies are reviewing the excessive interest, or usury, being charged by credit card companies. After being pursued in an antitrust case for “non-compliance” to European Commission rules regarding cross border fees, MasterCard settled out of court. While, according to European Union regulators, the credit card company agreed to reduce fees that raise costs for retailers, the New York Times reports MasterCard said the reduction was simply provisional and that it would continue a broader battle over the level of the fees in court. Here at home, United States lawmakers moved, in turn, to provide people with credit card debt relief from abusive rate and billing practices, as reported by Market Watch. A new Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights would restrict retroactive rate increases on existing balances, double-cycle billing, and “due-date gimmicks,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, who has spearheaded the legislation. Market Watch further noted, “The proposals approved by a House subcommittee are similar to final rules passed late last year by the Federal Reserve and other regulators… [In addition] a Senate committee approved its own set of credit card restrictions.”
This issue at stake for the European Commission and American lawmakers and regulators is the age-old question of controlling the flow of usury –the excessive rate of return charged by banks and lending institutions on interest-based loans. Financial experts recently criticized the wildfire spread of usury as being one of the major factors that led to the current economic crisis.
Usury had been strictly regulated in most countries until the late 1600s when usurious practices were first officially sanctioned by a head of state, William of Orange in Britain, who supported the establishment of the Bank of England –a private institution at the time. The practice of high rates of return gradually spread, but the institution was nevertheless widely viewed with distaste. Because it is easy for anyone –but particularly poor people and those in desperate circumstances– to find themselves in a reciprocating pattern of debt due to compound interest and the like, usury has been taken as a form of oppression. In this sense, secular and religious norms are in agreement. The major religions have been against such banking practices since their inception.
The First Council of Nicaea in 325, forbade clergy from engaging in usury which, at the time, meant interest of any kind. Pope Clement V made the belief in the right to usury a heresy in 1311. Islam has always forbidden interest, whether by modern definitions of usury or not, and continues to uphold the same prohibition. The Torah also carries prohibition of usury.
But in 2009, after many centuries, usurious practices seem to have overwhelmed religious awareness, as creditors consistently offer credit cards, mortgages and loans at extremely high rates of interest to people who are known to be unable to repay the principle, let alone the interest. The global economy has been headed toward its present state for many years, with few preventive measures having been taken against such forms of predatory business. Beginning in the 1960s deregulation of usury began to occur in the United States, and individual states initiated their own individual practices and laws regarding what were deemed usurious and illegal and what was not. In some states, debtors have been known to be charged in excess of 300% interest in extreme cases.
Author Thomas Geoghegan, was interviewed recently on DemocracyNow! regarding his work which recently appeared in Harper’s Magazine entitled “Infinite Debt: How Unlimited Interest Rates Destroyed the Economy.” In this excerpt from the interview, Mr Geoghegan explains in a simplified form how the “real economy,” or manufacturing, was in essence destroyed over time by the financial sector.
“If you’re able to charge 30 percent or, in a payday lender case, 200 or 300 percent, you don’t care so much if the loan —in fact, you actually want the loan not to be repaid. You want people to go into debt. You want to accumulate this interest. And this addicted the financial sector to very, very, very high rates of return compared to what investors were used to getting in the real economy, the manufacturing sector, General Motors, which would give piddling five, six, seven percent returns.
“So the capital in this country began to shift in the financial sector. That’s why the financial sector began to bloat up. That’s why we ended up, by 2006, having a third of all profits going into the banks and the financial firms and not into the real economy.”
If Mr Geoghegan’s “real economy” is based in the manufacturing and sale of physical goods, the financial sector would then be a virtual economy –one whose primary method of trade and profit are loans that, having scant basis in monetary gold or silver, are based upon the trustworthiness (credit) of the financial institution granting the virtual money.
But the hardship endured by honest people struggling to make a variety of monthly payments is not make-believe. The interest (sometimes called late fees) on car payments, business loans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and even hospital bills and cell phones is generally billed first and compounded with each failed due date until the full debt could become impossible to repay. The creditor is often able to recover the original debt, even with a decent profit, but the debtor doesn’t always get out of the clear. If not, before the creditor writes off the remaining debt on company taxes, the institution may then sell the remaining balance to a third party collection agency. At this point, the debtor must pay the transferred balance plus any additional collection fees (more interest).
While some loan practices are being reviewed by US lawmakers in favor of the consumer, a range of consumer, community and civil rights groups recently objected to the leading bill in Congress set to deal with the issue of payday loans. Consumers Union, Americans for Fairness in Lending and six other groups say the Payday Loan Reform Act of 2009, would actually protect the “predatory payday loan business model and will stall or stop the significant progress that has been made at the state level to curb usurious lending.” In a letter to members of Congress, the groups state “Although this bill shares the same title as H.R. 2871 in the last Congress, it will have the exact opposite impact on consumers.” The Washington Independent alleges the new bill to be “loophole-ridden” and faults lobbyist influence.
The Center for Responsible Lending says interest rate caps are the only solution to a worsening predatory situation, and will cost taxpayers nothing. “Payday loans carry annual interest rates of around 400 percent. They trap people in debt to the extent that the average borrower has nine payday transactions a year,” the Center reported. “[While] Barack Obama has… proposed a combination of cutting taxes and encouraging spending to aid in economic recovery… predatory lenders are stripping cash from the earnings of working people who fall into this same demographic –at astounding rates.”
This may not bode well for an already struggling US economy.
Filed under: Interfaith, May Volume I - 2009, National, Religion, Science, World | Tags: H1N1
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced the United States federal government declaration of a public health emergency due to the swine flu outbreak. Secretary Napolitano asserts the declaration is part of a standard operating procedure, which was also done for the 2009 presidential inauguration and for flooding. The influenza strain “is obviously a cause for concern … but it is not a cause for alarm,” President Obama has noted.
Health and Religion.
Knowledge is coming to the forefront that people who work with swine, especially those with intense exposures, are at increased risk of infection with the influenza virus if the animals carry the strain that is also able to infect humans. It is believed to be spread between humans through coughing or sneezing of infected people and touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also declared that swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted if it has been cooked “to an internal temperature of 160°F” as this process “kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.”
Nevertheless, Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy books all prohibit the consumption of pork, which is a staple in the Southern Unites States and south of the border as well, although the majority of residents in these areas are widely known to be religious:
Old Testament: “ As for any beast that is a splitter of the hoof but is not a former of the cleft and not a chewer of the cud, they are unclean for you. Everyone touching them will be unclean.” –Leviticus 11:26
Holy Qur’an: “Forbidden to you for (food) are: dead meat, blood and the flesh of the swine and that which hath been invoked the name other than Allah.” –Holy Qur’an 5:4
It is also worthy of note that Jesus (peace be upon him) has been recorded as stating in the New Testament: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill them.” –Matthew 5:17. However, this is disputed by followers of Paul, who exclude themselves from the law based upon his teachings.
By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
News agencies are reporting U.S. lawmakers will continue sending some Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia. General Mansoor al Turki, interior ministry spokesman for the Saudi government, told CNN, “Such a re-education program will help the police to make sure these people get rid of the ideology that penetrated their brains [and to] make sure, when they leave prison, [they] can lead [a] normal life.”
There are approximately 240-250 detainees left at Guantanamo, most with little to no evidence of terrorist involvement. Nevertheless, a reform program is still seen as appropriate and the Care Rehabilitation Center in Riyadh, which focuses solely on ‘religious education,’ claims a 95% success rate. While the two Saudis who were said to have gone back to Al Qaeda, Said Al-Shihri and another man, bring that rate down by only about one percent (218 processed with 9 rearrests), there are more pressing questions regarding whether ‘religious education’ of the Saudi Arabian government is rehabilitating, or debilitating, for their Islamic morality.
The first thing which weakens Islamic principles of men is the common teaching of Wahhabism, which originates in Saudi Arabia, that it is not necessary to follow the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Although there is a general outward appearance of flowing robes, the code which is largely followed is tribal custom. There is no harm in local customs as long as they do not transcend the laws of decency and human brotherhood. When these laws are bypassed, as is happening in many so-called Islamic countries, the result is an extremist stance that results in violent acts and the oppression of women justified with false interpretations of Islamic texts.
One of the publishing houses which caters to the raising of an intolerant mindset is Darussalam Publications which uphold distortions of Islam, even mistranslating the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, to suit their ends (See Darussalam Publications: Enjoining Wrong, Forbidding Right, Islamic Post January Volume I.)
Another primary source of misinformation is the translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Yusuf Ali, which is the main Qur’anic text available in the West, in particular, as millions of copies are donated freely to mosques, Islamic centers, campuses and libraries. Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom cites no less than $75 billion dollars leaving the Saudi monarchy in donations to locations abroad. These monies are used for mosque-building assistance and salaries for those who agree to preach Wahhabism in their locales. For those who accept this assistance, the Yusuf Ali translation, Wahhabi books and literature are all mandatory to be placed therein and the teachers are given them as textbooks.
Majlis Ulema of South Africa published a book in the 1980s titled Errors of Yusuf Ali in which was listed 16 major mistakes in translation and commentary. Majlis Ulema asserts that in his erroneous commentary, Yusuf Ali promoted that following the Holy Messengers of Islam is unneccessary. If following the broad minded tolerance of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his interpretation of Qur’an (which is, in fact, his lifestyle) is not mandatory, but optional, it surely leaves room for a different, fallacious interpretation. This is the interpretation which originates from the Saudi Arabian government and religious bodies. Sending people who have already been accused of extremism to Saudi Arabia for reformation may not be the correct route to take.
A reformer is a scholar, not one who rejects the scholars for his own vain interpretation of Islam. It is also imperative that scholars know the entire text of Holy Qur’an, and above all, possess thorough understanding of the occasions for which various sections and lines of Holy Qur’an were revealed, including the abrogated verses, and those that replaced them. This can only be done by someone who has spent his life studying the science of the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and knows them by memory, as well as the Holy Qur’an itself. Also he should be well versed in the historical events that precipitated revelations.
He must also be well acquainted with the character of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Holy Companions and also the enemies and allies of the believers. Foes and friends existed outside the Islamic community and also within. As is today, there were many hypocrites who had apparently followed the religion, but only with a view to riding on the power of Islam. Needless to say, being fluent in classical Arabic and the shades of meaning used by Hijazi Arabs of the time is absolutely essential. Finally, the scholar to be must be infused with knowledge of God, awareness of Him, and a profound dislike to commit errors or do what the Almighty dislikes. To embrace all these qualities and profound knowledge can prove very challenging. Because of their love of and spiritual connection to the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him), his descendants have, throughout history, become the finest and most prolific scholars of Islam.
Therefore, not every Tom or Abdullah can pick up Holy Qur’an offhand, and begin to explain the text therein according to his own opinion. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are impressed upon to seek knowledge of Islam, its Messenger (peace be upon him), history, language and culture to enhance his or her understanding of Islam’s Divine text, which was sent for the entire human race. This can be done by sitting for lessons with a scholar of Islam or, failing this, reading his books and discourses. In Islam, it is only the deviates and arrogant people who say they will only follow Holy Qur’an or Hadith (authenticated, recorded traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him) while dismissing the work of scholars who spent their lifetimes studying and writing on the same in detail.
All this being said, there are very specific circumstances which occasion jihad, or defensive warfare, in the Holy Qur’an and Islam, just as there are injunctions for the same in the Bible. It is not befitting for those who are not scholars of the Word of God, whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim, to misinterpret such injunctions for any reason, least of all to advocate wanton bloodshed. On numerous occasions Wahhabi teachings have been found to be lacking in this regard.
However, for some, extremism provides opportunities. According to Newsweek: “There have also been concerns that Bush administration holdovers were deliberately playing up the [recidivism] cases in recent weeks in an effort to undercut Obama. One former senior U. S. counter-terrorism official noted to Newsweek that the Pentagon waited until the day after Obama signed his executive order mandating the closure of Guantanamo to confirm Mr Al-Shihri’s renewed Al Qaeda ties.”
Hazrat Imam Ali once said to his son Hazrat Imam Hasan, My son, learn four things from me and through them you will learn four more. If you keep them in mind your actions will not bring any harm to you: The greatest wealth is wisdom; the greatest poverty is stupidity; the worst unsociableness is that of vanity and self-glorification; and the best nobility of descent exhibits itself in politeness and in refinement of manner. The next four things, my son, are: “Do not make friendship with a fool because when he will try to do you good he will do you harm; do not make a miser your friend because he will run away from you at the time of your dire need; do not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you and your friendship at the cheapest price; and do not make friend of a liar because like a mirage he will make you visualize very near the things which lie at a great distance and will make you see at the great distance the things which are near to you”.
We ask that Allah, the Most High, bestow countless blessings upon the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family members of that time and today, who continue to grace us with their presence, and allow young and old to benefit from the leaders of the Ummah who come from this most blessed family.
The Muslims of the Americas (MOA) are proud to announce the birth of the newest light of the most honored family, the Ahli Bait, Syed Abdul Qadir Shah Gilani (also shown in the Eid collage above), son of our beloved Imam, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani.
“The moment rose water was sprinkled on me [at the ceremony], I felt better,” said Muneerah Abdul Adl of Holy Islamberg. “All my worries at that moment went away. Khalifah Hussein Abu Bakr’s discourse made me more knowledgeable about the whole experience as well as the importance of motherhood. I was so happy to be there and I didn’t want to leave.”
Although of immense glad tidings, it was not surprising to hear quotes from the discourse given on this special occasion that there will be a time when the rulers of nations will be Syed, from the family of the Holy Last Messenger, may the peace of Allah be upon him and his noble family. One sign of this has been the President of the United States Syed Barack Hussein Obama. It was also cheering but, again, not shocking to now be told during the discourse that many Syeds have come from MOA families, although we are unaware of who they are.
In fact, due to the high numbers of Muslims who were brought to the Americas as slaves, and even the numbers of Cherokee and other Native American tribes who had converted to Islam before the arrival of the well-known colonial settler, Christopher Columbus, it is not a mystery why Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, as many Americans are simply returning to their roots and embracing the religion and culture of their forebears. Also, because the vast majority of African Americans were systematically cut off from their African roots and heritage, it is unknown to most which are blessed with the distinction of Syed forebears.
“Blessed we are and we pray to remain so! I witnessed the Aqiqa [ceremony of blessing] in all its happiness and noor!
In Holy Islamberg. “Generation after generation, we steadily build our nation!”
May Allah, the Most High, bless the Holy Family, their Syed sons and daughters and may our families serve them now and forever more…
For to serve them is to be like the siddiqs [truthful and loyal] who stood by Imam Shah Hussein, Noori son of Muhammad (peace be upon him)- May Allah bless his name!”
-Poetry: Umm Shafi