Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Magazine/ Culture, Poetry | Tags: Inauguration, obama
By Afifa Begum
Islamic Post Staff Writer
For the bodies like apple orchards, on trees did they sway some even remaining until they rotted away
May they be allowed to attend this inaugural day.
For the bodies tossed into the Atlantic Ocean
To life under the sea as human feed
On this day in the parades and in front may they lead.
Separated from their country, their culture, their names unknown they had to become John, Jones, June and James
This day they are seated on the inaugural throne.
Men, women and children by the millions they were transported and journeyed only to be harnessed like animals –their skins branded with masters’ initials burning
Clerics, architects, scholars and nobles from all walks of life on a voyage to unknown shores; years of appealing on vaulted doors.
On this day their presence carpets the white house floors.
Their blood flowing bodies have fertilized our American soils; for centuries our fields they did till and toil; may they be recompensed this day for their unforgettable turmoil….
President Barack Hussein Obama
All races, religions and continents lie within you
As do the martyrs looking on from their “sacred view”
This day they arrive to commemorate with you.
On January twentieth, two thousand and nine
The Constitution and Declaration of Independence
Was finally for all fulfilled on Capitol Hill
For millions to see you had fulfilled God’s will.
Like the Seal of the Prophets and ancestors –an orphan you became
By the removal of parents –the universe did you gain
Are your legacies one and the same: to return the lost
Flock back to one God again?
‘Tis a well known fact the martyrs never die or retire
At “high noon” descend in their traditional martyrs attire
As president Barack Hussein Obama raised one hand towards the heavens and the other facing the earth, all and everything bore witness to this oath throughout the universe.
President Obama galvanized different races, religions and creeds within 24 hours. On that day four million attendees converged on the mall and 1 1/2 million framed the outside of the mall. At the final event, all faiths were represented and allowed to offer a prayer at the national prayer service.
Parallels Drawn Between Islam and Christianity
President Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, attended an invitation-only prayer service at Washington National Cathedral on his first full day in office, January 21. Seated next to the Obama’s were Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill. Also in attendance were former President Bill Clinton and the, then unconfirmed, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As is the inaugural tradition dating back to George Washington- Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu clergy took part in the service recognizing an interfaith society.
“President-elect Obama’s faith is a central part of his life and he will begin the first full day of his Administration with a service of interfaith prayer and reflection,” said Presidential Inaugural Committee Communications Director Josh Earnest prior to the inauguration itself. “The National Prayer Service, which will embody the themes of tolerance, unity and understanding, is a worship service for all Americans.”
The following are some excerpts from the prayer service:
The Reverend Andy Stanley led the congregation in a prayer: “Grant to Barack Obama, President of the United States, and to all in authority, your grace and goodwill,” he said. “Bless them with your heavenly gifts, give them wisdom and strength to know and to do your will.”
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Disciples of Christ urged the new President and Vice President to be mindful of the moral compass when embarking on the long road of work ahead: “What you are entering now, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, will tend to draw you away from your ethical center. But we, the nation that you serve, need you to hold the ground of your deepest values, of our deepest values. Beyond this moment of high hopes, we need you to stay focused on our shared hopes, so that we can continue to hope, too. We will follow your lead.”
Rev. Watkins continued, “…We need you, leaders of this nation, to stay centered on the values that have guided us in the past; values that empowered to move us through the perils of earlier times and can guide us now into a future of renewed promise.”
“Recently Muslim scholars from around the world released a document, known as “A Common Word Between Us. It proposes a common basis for building a world at peace. That common basis? Love of God and love of neighbor!” Rev. Watkins exclaimed.
To illustrate the point of what is needed within oneself to foster community service, in the case of President Obama that being the service of his country in a very broad sense, the Reverend offered a folk tale which spoke about a concept that, in Islam, is known as purification of the nafs, or lower desires.
“There is a story attributed to Cherokee wisdom:
“One evening a grandfather was teaching his young grandson about the internal battle that each person faces.
“There are two wolves struggling inside each of us,” the old man said.
“One wolf is vengefulness, anger, resentment, self-pity, fear . . .
“The other wolf is compassion, faithfulness, hope, truth, love . . .”
The grandson sat, thinking, then asked: “Which wolf wins, Grandfather?”
His grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”
There are crises banging on the door right now, pawing at us, trying to draw us off our ethical center—crises that tempt us to feed the wolf of vengefulness and fear.
We need you, Mr. President, to hold your ground. We need you, leaders of this nation, to stay centered on the values that have guided us in the past; values that empowered to move us through the perils of earlier times and can guide us now into a future of renewed promise.
We need you to feed the good wolf within you, to listen to the better angels of your nature, and by your example encourage us to do the same.”
President Obama has long insisted that change for America will come from the American people. According to the Islamic maxim, “Your deeds are your rulers,” the votes of the citizens of the United States reflected a turnabout in sentiment that has apparently already occurred in this great land and manifested itself in his election.
Drawing parallels between Muslim and Christian teachings, Rev. Watkins asked, “So how do we go about loving God? Well, according to Isaiah, summed up by Jesus, affirmed by a worldwide community of Muslim scholars and many others, it is by facing hard times with a generous spirit: by reaching out toward each other rather than turning our backs on each other.”
President Obama listened intently as Rev. Watkins once again encouraged steadfastness by the new administration to maintain values, hope, and encourage reaching out to neighbors both near and far, “In international hard times, our instinct is to fight —to pick up the sword, to seek out enemies, to build walls against the other… But on the way to those tough decisions, which American promises will frame those decisions? Will you continue to reason from your ethical center, from the bedrock values of our best shared hopes?”
Barack Obama later emphasized this same sentiment during his first television interview as president –for which he specifically chose a Muslim outlet– when he claimed late last month, “my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world.” (See, “President Obama: ‘No Enmity with Muslims,’ on A2).
As the U.S. economy struggles, and consumer confidence freefalls, the Reverend encourages President Obama and his cabinet, “In financial hard times, our instinct is flight—to hunker down, to turn inward, to hoard what little we can get our hands on, to be fearful of others who may take the resources we need…In times, such as these, we the people need you, the leaders of this nation, to be guided by the counsel that Isaiah gave so long ago, to work for the common good, for the public happiness, the well-being of the nation and the world, knowing that our individual well-being depends upon a world in which liberty and justice prevail.”
The President of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, was also in attendance representing American Muslims in the prayer service, “Muslim Americans join their fellow citizens in praying that our country will continue to realize, ever more fully, the American dream of freedom, justice and equality for all people.”
Other clergy in attendance: Rev. Suzan Johnson-Cook, Senior Pastor, Bronx Christian Fellowship, New York City; Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Director, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, New York City; Rev. Carol Wade of the Washington National Cathedral; Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President, Hindu Temple Society of North America, New York City; Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners, Washington, D.C.; Rabbi Haskal Lookstein, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurunm, New York City; Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Houston, TX
-Excerpts compiled by Yasmin A. Atheem
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Front Page News, National, World | Tags: Inauguration, IQOU statement
By El Sheikh, Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, Hashmi, Hassani wal Husseini
IQOU Vice Chancellor, Islamic Post Chief Editor
We have been asked by many people the position or view of the International Quranic Open University and the Muslims of the Americas Inc. with regard to the recent changes in the direction of American politics.
Very few could have foreseen how the Almighty Creator, who is the Ruler of rulers, has chosen to exercise His decisions. However, as true believers we are not overwhelmed nor are we shocked by the manifestation of His will and decision.
In light of the closet racism and religious bias that is still very much a live current running through the fabric of American society, even the most optimistic of Americans would not have realistically imagined that Senator Barack Hussein Obama, whose father was African and a Muslim, had any chance of becoming the Democratic candidate for the Presidency let alone win the election. The fact that this unlikely scenario did unfold before our very eyes gives strong credence to the old adage, “What is meant to be will be” for it is easy for the Almighty to display His Will –despite what mankind believes to be difficult or even impossible.
Somebody asked Hazrat Ali (may Allah ennoble his blessed countenance) about perfection of faith, and he replied to the effect that if he witnessed the skies opening up, and the throne of the Almighty Creator being carried down, it wouldn’t increase his faith. Whatever Almighty Allah allows to come to pass, that is the reality. With this calmness of faith, we are not shocked. Any Muslim that believes in Isa Bin Maryam (Jesus, son of the chaste Mary), Musa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham) (peace be upon them all), all the way to the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)–indeed all of the prophets, and he does not also believe that the Almighty is the ruler of the rulers he has not perfected his deen, religion/professed way of life.
One must always remember that the One Almighty Allah had already taken this decision before hand, and He revealed it to us at a time He chose as appropriate.
It is He, the One Almighty Creator that brings about all of the kings, governors, chiefs and when He disposes, He does send His wrath on the cruel rulers, be they of the East or the West. Similarly it is written that He holds all rulers by their forelocks and keeps hold of the geopolitical balance of power. We are all citizens of His Divine Kingdom. Not a seed is thrown nor can it grow, (trees) without His knowledge and permission. In the darkness of night He knows ALL and wherever we are He is there.
If there can be said to be a glimmer of hope for a society of justice, mercy and peace, it would reside in the fact that it is a Divine rule that a people receive the leaders that they deserve. The deeds of a people rise up to the heavens and are returned to them in the form of the leaders decreed for them. It remains to be seen what has been decreed for the American people with this new President.
Therefore, whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or other,, Allah’s Will was and is done and these people (elected officials etc.) He uses to carry out His command; be it Divine Justice or Divine Wrath. There is no escaping Divine Law and Decree: Whatever you sow this you shall reap. Even in the Christian Bible, it states, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Hence for true believers there is no room to feel any sense of exhilaration or euphoria about the recent turn of events. Rather, we maintain an even keel. All rulers function through His Will and His Will is always carried out.
Nobody can give you honor nor debase you nor give provisions to you, save Him! Therefore each cell in your body must remain steadfast, He has no son, no partners and there is none like unto Him. Glorify, praise, and love Him so He in turn will love you, and everybody around you will love you. Remember everything in creation glorifies Him, birds etc. only man forgets. Look at the fate of the Titanic when some arrogant person said: even God could not sink it- it never returned from its maiden journey. They forgot He has power over all things.
For the rulers, do they think that by committing acts of genocide they shall prevail? He is aware of all what they do. As history reveals, He is Ruler of rulers, very swift in punishing arrogant, haughty oppressors; in many cases within days His wrath fell. He never spares the oppressors. His law is unchangeable. He has categorically declared that His wrath and curse is upon oppressors. He has declared: I have made it compulsory upon Myself to be merciful.
Therefore We again repeat, for a true believer, the change of rulers, government etc. should not bring any worry, hope or hopelessness because every ruler is in the all controlling grasp of Almighty Allah. Almighty Allah is a living, loving and all seeing all hearing Creator. May He be glorified.
Therefore, don’t worry about anything, do not fear them, fear Him. Only then will a nation prosper.