The Islamic Post Blog

Touring: In the Mountains, a Day on the French Side by Khalida
February 2, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags: ,

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.


Reflections: Sleep in an Old Fort Brings a Mysterious Experience by Khalida
January 2, 2009, 8:26 am
Filed under: January Volume I- 2009, travel

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.

International Quranic Open University Decries Pakistan Consulate by Khalida
December 1, 2008, 1:04 am
Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, International, travel, World | Tags: , ,

By Muhammad Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer

Part One

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.

Students of the International Qur’anic Open University to Commence Fall Semester at Al Azhar University, Cairo by Khalida
September 26, 2008, 1:23 pm
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Education, International, Religion, travel, World | Tags:

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.

Touring- Egypt of My Heart by Khalida
August 15, 2008, 11:35 am
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags:

Muhammad Ali Mosque. From whatever vantage point in the city of Cairo, the minarets of this masjid remain visible.

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque, the lights of which are arranged in a mathematical algorthm (above).

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque, the lights of which are arranged in a mathematical algorthm (above).

By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Staff Writer

A visit to a Cairo perfumery (right) unearthed delicate hand-blown Egyptian perfume bottles of all sizes, which are only a part of the innumerable local crafts.

A visit to a Cairo perfumery (right) unearthed delicate hand-blown Egyptian perfume bottles of all sizes, which are only a part of the innumerable local crafts.

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

Falafel served with tahini, tomato, cucumber and pita bread.
Falafel served with tahini, tomato, cucumber and pita bread. (Roboppy Photo) Falafel (Tamaya)Ingredients
1. 2 cups skinned white broad beans.
2. 1/2 cup fresh dill leaves.
3. 1/2 cup coriander leaves.
4. 2 onions.
5. 10 garlic cloves.
6. 1/2 cup parsley leaves.
7. 1 small leek, stalk only.
8. 1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate or baking soda.
9. 1 teaspoon cumin.
10. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. (optional)
11. 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds.
12. cooking oil.
13. salt.

1. Soak beans overnight.
2. Drain and mince with dill, coriander, onions, garlic, parsley, and leek.
3. Add spices, seasoning, and sodium bicarbonate, then, knead.
4. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
5. With a wet spoon or wet fingers, scoop a small amount and shape into flat discs about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick.
6. Sprinkle one side with sesame seeds and deep fry in sizzling oil until brown.
7. Remove onto absorbent paper.

It is best eaten hot with tomato salad.

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.

Invitation: The Banaatun Noor International 2008 Ladies’ Summer Camp by Khalida
July 26, 2008, 1:23 am
Filed under: July Volume II - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, National, Religion, travel | Tags:

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.

Touring: The Sisters of Naumaan by Khalida
July 25, 2008, 7:52 pm
Filed under: July Volume II - 2008, Magazine/ Culture, Touring, travel | Tags:

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!”
-Always Ether

Always Ether

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.