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ISSUE 01 / JULY 2006


Celebrating Spirituality
Amir Khan and Chico deal a knockout punch to extremism

04 07 08 10 12 14 18 20 22 24 25 28 30 33 34 38 40 42 43 46 47 What on earth is the PM talking about? Freedom of Religious Beliefs What is Sufism? Resurgence of Sufism in Saudi Arabia Tazkiyyat an-Nafs (Purifying the Self) Statement by SMC Islam: Suspended in Centuries past? Islamic declaration of Peace Celebrating Spirituality Failure is part of Learning Usama bin Laden: a Legend gone wrong (part 1) Democratic election of Leaders The destruction of Holy Sites in Mecca and Medina Essence of abstinence Escape from Srebrenica Coming to Islam despite muslims A historic meeting between two Sufi Masters A wise young Muslim Boy Amr bil munkar - ordering what’s bad (comic strip) Acknowledgements We want to here from you

ISSUE 01 JULY 2006


Salaam, and welcome to the very first edition of SPIRITthemag – The Voice of the silent majority. The Prime Minister and others are suggesting that the government and authorities cannot solve the problems of ever increasing radicalisation within the Muslim Community on their own and that Muslims need to do more. The recent polls are showing that over 13% of Muslims are justifying the criminal acts of 7th July 2005, and over 50% of Muslims believe that the Government is not doing enough. So what on earth is going on? Does anyone have a handle on the real issues? What is it that makes someone want to blow themselves up? Why is it that the more radical minority seems to have “taken over the microphone” and is ever increasingly , becoming viewed by many as the mainstream version of Islam. The main aim of is to help answer some of these questions and to counteract the people and ideologies that are aiming for the destruction of the very way of life that Muslims hold dear and focus on giving a voice to the “Silent majority” that is being drowned out by the very vocal Minority. In this issue we have articles and submissions from around the world that present classical, scholarly, Islamic perspectives on global issues. Whilst at the same time, try to discourage and disrupt the promulgation of extremist ideology within the Muslim community both nationally and abroad through exposing and differentiating the purveyors from everyday Muslims. This will be the first of many issues (God Willing), that will help to educate UK Muslims, policymakers, agencies, academia and media outlets on the distinct, irreconcilable differences between classical Islam and the radical tenets of contemporary extremist groups.

It is time for the middle ground to stand up and be counted before it is too late.
However Muslims cannot do it alone. There is a clear need for greater more focussed dialogue, which delves into the root causes of the problem, and together we need to challenge those that are the vehicles for this ideology. The Muslim Communities also need re-assurances from government that Ministers are actually running the agenda and not civil servants that will only engage with the very same people that have not so far delivered.

It is also time for the Government to stand up and be counted before it is too late.


“The extremism may have started through religious doctrine and thought. But soon, in offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, supported by Wahabi extremists and taught in some of the Madrassas of the Middle East and Asia, an ideology was born and exported around the world” -Tony Blair 2006 “...Its roots are not superficial, but deep, in the madrassas of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia” - Tony Blair 2005
I remember talking to a Minister in July 2005 just after a television programme discussing the aftermath of the bombings in London. Upon mentioning the Prime Minister’s remarks at the Labour party conference and the support that he could muster up around the community; I was met with a very coy smile. “You do know who a Wahabi is, don’t you?” I questioned, upon which I received an even more bashful shake of the head. It was at this moment that a quotation from a film came to my mind – “the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled, was convincing people that he does not exist” . So for all of you Ministers or anyone else that may be interested, here is some background information 04 on the two terms that are mentioned above (If you read further issues, you will see more info as to who these guys are in the UK).

The Wahabi sect was founded by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab ibn Suleiman al-Najdi (1703 – 1792 AD). In 1735, Muhammad ibn (son of ) Abdul Wahab called upon the people of Najd (in Arabia) to follow a new doctrine that he had devised. However, his father and religious teachers vehemently opposed him and publicly refuted his ideas. Consequently, his mission remained unpopular until his father’s death ten years later. He was thus, forced to flee to another town, Uyayna, where he won the favour of its ruler by marrying his sister. He remained there preaching his new doctrines until the indignant population drove him out. In al-Daria in eastern Najid he finally found permanent refuge. It was there that his ideas fell on fertile ground and its ruler, Muhammad ibn (son of ) Saud, and most of its inhabitants converted to the new doctrine. At that time Ibn Abdul Wahab behaved as if he had absolute monopoly over ijtihad, i.e. the ability to arrive at logical deductions on religious questions. There was great disbelief at his rulings and his brother,

Suleiman, authored a book refuting his brother’s like the KKK teaching Christianity.” invocation and demonstrating its falsehood. His book includes the following passage regarding the Wahabism is today regarded as a “catch-all” phrase and has spawned many groups such as Al Qaeeda,and new doctrine - Wahabia and its founder. Since the 1950s, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan One of the consequences of this new doctrine was al-Muslimeen), an organization founded in Egypt in that it enabled the followers in the Middle East to 1929, has been the main instrument for propagating fight against the Ottoman rulers as any Muslims Wahabi influence internationally. that were not of the same doctrine as “Wahabia,” was pronounced as non Muslims or apostates thus justifying Holy War against them, and ah le kitab (people of the book – Jewish and Christian) were pronounced as “non-believers” – kafir. This was the “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The start of a relationship that would eventually yield Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” the independent state of Saudi Arabia. The Muslims’ lands in the Middle East were under Ottoman rule and after the defeat of Germany (and The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in its allies – Ottomans), their governor was driven out 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949, grandfather of Makkah, and the area around Makkah was known of Tariq Ramadan (advisor to the Home Office on Preventing Extremism and Radicalisation). Alas Hijaz (1920). Banna was very critical of western civilisations, and The House of Saud (now fully indoctrinated with commented that “It is a civilization which carries in “Wahabia”) was now leading the tribe of Najd, and its own body the viruses of its own destruction”

The Muslim Brotherhood

they were now constantly at war with Hijaz to gain control of the holiest site for Muslims (the Kabah) in Makkah. In 1926, the House of Saud gained the upper hand and in 1932, the region was renamed as Saudi Arabia. In 1933, Oil was discovered in the Kingdom, and now everyone was interested in the area, and through the 1950s, the Saudi government built its infrastructure around the oil industry, and the wealth of the region grew exponentially. Today, Wahabism is strong in Saudi Arabia, and is regarded by many as the forefathers of the modern Islamist threat that the world is currently facing, as indicated by Dr Zeyno Baran, Director of International Security and Energy Programmes – The Hudson Institute, in her recent statement to Congress.

Emerging from the Wahabi/Salafi movement, it was the first of the plethora of radical Islamic organizations which exist today, those which are often called “fundamentalist” or – as their followers prefer – “Islamist” . Al-Banna aimed to seize political power by a gradual process which began with education, recruitment and training.

The main ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood was Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) whose writings became an important reference for many radical Islamic movements, especially with regard to how to assess the Islamic credentials of societies and governments. Qutb promoted the Khariji doctrine of takfir- the process of judging Muslims (individuals, regimes, “It is now widely known that, since the oil boom of societies and states) to be apostates and infidels the 1970s, one middle eastern country has spent (non Muslim) if they did not wholly conform to over $80 billion to promote Wahabism—money their version of shari‘a. This condemnation justifies that has been spent on funding leading terrorist combatitive jihad against them. and other extremist organizations that disseminate hatred in “educational centers,” charities, mosques, He also took the term hijra (emigration) and and even prisons. Although Wahabism’s place developed its meaning from a simple description in Islam is sometimes considered similar to that of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) migration to an of American Protestantism within Christianity, in ideological goal in the staged process of developing reality it is only a minority radical religious cult, fueled by petrodollars. As historian Bernard Lewis more correctly contends,“Wahabis teaching Islam is 05

true Islamic societies. He held that all Muslim societies had reverted to pre-Islamic paganism (jahiliyya), so that true Muslims were living in a context similar to that of Muhammad (PBUH) in his early career i.e. surrounded by idolatry.

frontline). Azzam claimed that this obligation of jihad has been forgotten, and its neglect is the cause of contemporary Muslim humiliation.

Most violent Islamist groups today were born out of the Muslim Brotherhood as reinterpreted by Qutb saw three definite stages in the hijra process: Qutb. The Brotherhood itself has become a global Proclamation (da‘wa) of the message to jahili (the institution and is very influential in Europe including state of pagan ignorance and immorality in pre- the UK. Islamic Arabian) society. Separation (mufassala) from unbelievers and all jahili society. This stage Qutb conceived of not as total physical separation, but as a spiritual separation while remaining in society to proclaim, recruit and organise. Finally the fight (jihad) to implement God’s new society on earth, similar to Muhammad’s (PBUH) victorious return to Makkah. Jihad is aimed first at Islamizing Muslim societies, toppling apostate Muslim rulers and establishing Islamic states under Shari‘a; these Islamic states are then able to extend jihad to the whole world. In its early years the Brotherhood worked for evolutionary change through institutional renewal. During the 1930s, however, it developed an ideology of belligerent jihad directed against colonialism, cultural modernity and the Jewish presence in Palestine. By the 1940s the Brotherhood had established a special secret paramilitary branch, al Tanzim al Khas, which initiated a campaign of terror against the proWestern Egyptian government and assassinated a number of political personalities, including two prime ministers. Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), Osama bin Laden’s mentor during the Afghan jihad, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Azzam was active in recruiting Arab mujahidin for the jihad in Afghanistan and he was the main promoter of the internationalisation of Jihad which led to the creation of al-Qaeda and to the Salafi-Jihadi movement. Abdullah Azzam saw jihad as the greatest religious obligation after faith (Iman), an act of communal worship, God’s ordained method for establishing Islam in the world. Azzam claimed that jihad is the apex of a staged process that includes hijra, preparation, and ribat (defensive living on the 06

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) freely propagated the message of Islam, yet gave all people the freedom to choose any other religion. Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were contractual members of the Muslim community. The Quran states, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Accordingly, Muslim jurists have concluded that while Islam is the preferred belief and way of life, it cannot be imposed on anyone. In fifteen centuries of Islamic rule throughout the globe, there are no incidents in which Islam was imposed by force according to Islamic law. When non-Muslims became members of a Muslim nation, they were free to practice their beliefs. Furthermore, special consideration was given to believers in heavenly revealed religions: the Jews, Christians (known as “People of the Book”) Zoroastrians, and later, other faiths. They were afforded not only freedom of religious belief, but were allowed to maintain their own religious law and practices, even when these conflicted with the teachings of Islam. Islamic civilization is firmly founded on the concept of ‘rule of law.’ For that reason, the law is published and known, and citizens and courts are expected to uphold it. In addition, Muslim citizens must adhere to Islamic law. If a Muslim citizen commits a religious violation, he is judged according to Islamic law. A nonMuslim citizen is judged in religious issues by the laws of his own faith. Further, it was deemed unlawful in Islam to desecrate or destroy non-Muslim houses of worship. At first restricted to certain faiths, this category was later extended to include the Hindus of India and other beliefs. A traveler in Muslim lands should not be surprised to see in them churches, synagogues and temples of other faiths, often erected in places of prominence. Shaykh Ahmad al-Jurjawi writes: “From the beginning of the history of Islam until today, you cannot see that the Muslims come against the Jews or the Christians living among them. ...during the Crusades, we saw that Salahuddin al-Ayyubi would even have his physicians treat Christian soldiers and later send them home to England safely.” Salim Afifi 07

Freedom of Religious Belief

What is Sufism?
Non-Muslims (and some Muslims) often mistake Sufism as a sect of Islam. Sufism is more accurately described as an aspect or dimension of Islam. Sufi Tariqas can be found in Sunni, Shi’a and other Islamic groups Ibn Khaldun the 14th Century Arab historian described Sufism as: “... dedication to worship, total dedication to Allah most High, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth, and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.” Islamic asceticism flourished in the first century since the advent of Islam and developed into schools of thought, firmly rooted in the traditions of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and the Shari’a or Islamic law. Its scholars became known as the Sufis because of their loyalty, sincerity, and purity of heart. One of the meanings of the word “sufa” in Arabic is purity. There are two other meanings including Ahl Suffa translated as “the people of the bench” for which a verse in the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) advising him not to ignore the people who sat outside his home remembering their Lord and showing great sincerity towards Him and His message. The third interpretation of the word Sufi refers to a wool fabric worn by these ascethetics. Some of the most famous early Sufi scholars include the great leaders of the Sunni four schools of thought known as Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, Shafi’I and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal – These are also known as the four great Imams of Ijtihad and from whom we have the four schools of Fiqh (Law). Doctrinally, the practice of Sufism is the pursuit of moral excellence. It is founded in the tradition of the Prophet (PBUH) where Angel Gabriel asked him what is Islam? The Prophet (PBUH) explained that Islam must be understood in three stages:• First is Islam or the physical rules of the religion, which includes the Sunni four schools of thought, and the Shiites. • Second is Iman or belief in the unseen including all Prophets, angels, the holy books and the Day of Judgment. • Third is the state of Ihsan or perfection where the believer must worship his Lord as if he sees Him and knowing that he cannot see his Lord, he must know that his Lord is always seeing him. This third stage has developed its own set of rules and practices that have been known throughout Islamic history as “taskiyyat nafs” or purification of the self. The teachers of this discipline of purification organized their students into what is now known as Sufi Orders and are named after the Shaykh who had the most influence on their theology and development. So the most important thing to understand from this history of Sufism is not only is it an integral part of Islam itself but it has existed since the early time of the Prophet (PBUH). The Muslim who chooses to follow the third level of Islam must first accept the first two levels and cannot be considered a Sufi without having first understood the rules of shari’a and of faith. Some practices commonly associated with people who observe Sufism: • Taking initiation with a Shaykh or guide: the early teachings of the great scholars of Islam required that any believer who wanted to learn how to be someone who is “God conscious” at all times, they must seek a teacher who has succeeded in this journey already and who displays the qualities of the Prophet Mohammed(PBUH) who Muslims believe to be of Perfect character. As a result of their devotion, their followers and community members often consider them holy and enlightened. For this same reason, Islamists are able to scare believers into avoiding a guide by accusing them of making shirk or “ascribing partners to God” . Sufism is an apprenticeship just like many other disciplines such as Buddhism or the martial arts, and the teacher or Shaykh as he or she is known, is a central


source of the knowledge for the students. Since early times, it was important to find a living Shaykh who could trace his lineage of knowledge all the way back to the time of the Prophet (PBUH) ensuring that they were still connected to the Divine inspirations. The old educational structure- there were no modern degrees, students would gather around the boarding schools and learn Islam then go back to their own communities to teach Islam. • How to achieve God consciousness: The student or seeker as he/she is known goes about their daily life and rituals in what outwardly appears to be like any other person, however internally they struggle to display character traits associated with Divine Attributes. It is a dual practice of controlling bad desires or negative traits of the ego such as oppression, anger, greediness, or cruelty on the one hand, and showing the greater qualities of an aware and compassionate ego on the other. Ultimately the goal of Sufi master is that if all his students focus their energy inward so they become of perfect character and embody qualities such as compassion, mercy, justice and tolerance. The natural consequence of that would be a society as a whole that is at peace and will also be blessed by God for its piety and sincerity. • It is basically the science of destroying the aggression or animal qualities of all human beings by concentrating inward rather than outward. That is why the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after returning to Makkah told his companion we have left the lesser jihad [or the jihad of combat] for the great jihad, which was the struggle against the self. The central concept in Sufism is love. Dervishes / Mureeds —the names given to initiates of Sufi orders— believe that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe.They believe that God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God looks at himself within the dynamics of nature. This is substantiated using the famous Hadith Qudsi (extraQur’anic utterance of God): “I was a hidden treasure, and I wanted to be known, so I created Creation.” Since they believe that everything is a reflection of God, Sufis try to see the beauty inside the apparently ugly, and

to open arms even to what is considered the most evil one. The Sufi conception of divine love is not restricted to what the term “love of God” implies; it also includes human love with a perspective that views everything a manifestation of God. The central doctrine of Sufism,sometimes calledWahdat or Unity, is the Sufi understanding of Tawhid. Put very simply Tawhid states that all phenomena are manifestations of a single reality, or Wujud (being), this is indeed al-Haq (Truth, God). The essence of being/Truth/God is devoid of every form and quality, and hence unmanifest, yet it is inseparable from every form and phenomenon either material or spiritual. It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality (and therefore of the individual self also), and realize the divine unity which is considered to be the truth. Historically, the practice of Sufism and this focus inward led to great tolerance and flexibility in the practices of Muslims around the world. It led to great achievements in art, poetry and literature since the Sufis spent so much time in contemplation of love for their Creator and spirituality (for example Rumi, Omar Khayyám and AlGhazali’s influence extended beyond Muslim lands to be quoted by Western philosophers, writers and theologians). However, the 20th century brought a new wave of thought in the Muslim world as it sought to unify the Muslims into a political force against Europe and the US. This new ideology commonly referred as Wahabism or Salafism was described to believers as an attempt to purify the practices of Muslims around the world from the practices of Sufism and traditional Islam. Because its success depended on its attempt to create a homogenous force it was essential for them to obliterate the practices that were the source of the tolerance and pluralism around the Muslim world.


Resurgence of Sufism in Saudi Arabia.

In a sign of Tolerance, Salman al-Odah, left, the country’s most popular puritanical cleric, accepted an invitation from Sufi cleric Abdallah Fadaaq, right, to attend a Sufi celebration. (Izzat Zeiny - Photo By Izzat Zeiny)

A hush came over the crowd as the young man sitting cross-legged on the floor picked up the microphone and sang, a cappella, a poem about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His eyes shut tight, his head covered by an orange-and-white turban, he crooned with barely contained ardour of how the world rejoiced and lights filled the skies the day the Prophet (PBUH) was born. The men attending the mawlid -- a celebration of the birth and life of Muhammad (PBUH)-- sat on colourful rugs, rocking gently back and forth, while the women, on the upper floor watching via a large projection screen, passed around boxes of tissues and wiped tears from their eyes. The centuries-old mawlid, a mainstay of the more spiritual and often mystic Sufi Islam, was until recently viewed as heretical and banned by Saudi Arabia’s official religious establishment, the ultraconservative Wahabis. But a new atmosphere of increased religious tolerance has spurred a resurgence of Sufism and brought the onceunderground Sufis and their rituals out in the open. After 9/11, when it was discovered that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, the kingdom’s strict Wahabi doctrine -- which had banned all other sects and schools of thought -- came under intense scrutiny from inside and outside the country.

“This is one of the side effects of September 11. It put the brakes on the [Wahabi] practice of takfir , excommunicating everyone who didn’t exactly follow their creed,” said Sayed Habib Adnan, a 33-year-old Sufi teacher. The government “realized that maybe enforcing one religious belief over all others was not such a good idea.” When Adnan moved to Saudi Arabia from his native Yemen four years ago, Sufi gatherings were often clandestine, sometimes held in orchards outside the city, or in basements and without microphones, for fear of drawing attention.“I couldn’t wear this,” he said, pointing to his turban.“Or this,” he said, pulling at his white cotton overcoat. “Or I would be branded a Sufi. You couldn’t even say the word ‘Sufi.’ It was something underground, dangerous, like talking about drugs.” Sufis here say they are not a separate sect or followers of a separate religion, but adherents to a way of life based on the Muslim concept of ihsan . Muhammad (PBUH) explained ihsan to the angel Gabriel as “worshiping God as if you see Him. Because if you don’t see Him, He sees you.” Sufism had previously been predominant in Hejaz, the western region of Saudi Arabia, which includes


Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthplace, Mecca; Medina, where he is buried; and the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. In days gone by, Mawlids were public affairs with entire cities decked out in lights, and parades and festivities commemorating the Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday and his ascension to Jerusalem. When the al-Saud family that would later come to rule Saudi Arabia took over Hejaz in the 1920s, the Wahabis banned mawlids as a form of heresy and destroyed the historic shrines of Khadija, Fatima and the Prophet’s (PBUH) companions, fearing they would lead to idolatry and polytheism. Wahabis, crucial allies in the Saud conquest of the disparate regions that became Saudi Arabia in 1932, were awarded control of religious affairs. Discrimination against Sufis, among others, intensified after armed Wahabi extremists took over Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979, demanding that a more puritanical form of Islam be applied in the country. Though the government quelled the uprising and executed its leaders, authorities were shaken by the incident, and lest other Wahhabis defy them, they allowed them more rein. Soon after, extremist clerics issued a religious edict, or fatwa, declaring Sufi’s spiritual leader, Muhammad Alawi Malki, a nonbeliever. He was removed from his teaching position, banned from giving lessons at the Grand Mosque, where both his father and grandfather had taught, and interrogated by the religious police and the Interior Ministry. After Malki was later attacked by a throng of radicals incensed at his presence in the mosque, he could pray there only under armed guard. Meanwhile, thousands of cassettes and booklets circulated calling Sufis “grave-lovers” and dangerous infidels who had to be stopped before they made a comeback. Their salons were raided, and those caught with Sufi literature were often arrested or jailed. The tide finally turned in 2003, with the new atmosphere that took hold following the Sept. 11 attacks, when the future King Abdullah, then the crown prince, held a series of meetings to acknowledge the country’s diverse sects and schools of thought. One of the guests was Sufi leader Malki. When he died the following year, Abdullah and the powerful defence and interior ministers attended his funeral. The rehabilitation of his legacy was almost complete. “We were then upgraded from infidels, to people who are ignorant and practicing their religion wrong,” said Wasif Kabli, a 59-year-old businessman. This year,on the occasion of the Prophet’s (PBUH) birthday, a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered to celebrate at a

private residence. Sufi books, cassettes and DVDs were selling out in one corner of the large garden where the event was held. Adnan, the Sufi teacher, was one of four speakers who addressed the crowd. He asked: Why are we Sufis always on the defensive? “Nobody asks [soccer] fans for religious proof that sanctifies their gatherings at the stadium because of their devotion to their team,” he said. “How come we are always asked for an explanation of our devotion to our beloved Prophet?” Muhammad Jastaniya, a 20-year-old economics major and part of a new wave of young Saudis who have embraced Sufism, said what drew him was the focus on God. On a recent moonlit evening, Jastaniya sipped sugary mint tea with his friends on rugs spread on the rooftop of a Zawiya, or lodge where Sufis go to meditate, chant or sit in on lessons. The words ‘God’ and ‘Muhammad’ were written in green neon lights, and Islam’s 99 names for God were stencilled in black paint around the wall. “To be a Sufi is to clear your heart of everything but God,” he explained. “The Islam we were taught here is like a body without a soul. Sufism is the soul. It’s not an alternative religion -- it can contain all Muslims.” That thought seems to be taking hold, even in faraway corners. Salman al-Odah, the country’s most popular puritanical cleric, who was jailed in the 1990s for opposing the presence of U.S. troops in the kingdom, accepted an invitation to visit Sufi cleric Abdallah Fadaaq’s mawlid and lesson last week. The scene at Fadaaq’s house was an obvious sign of conciliation. Al-Odah sat with his hands neatly folded in his lap, wearing a red-and-white checkered headdress and clear wraparound glasses and sporting the short scraggly beard that indicates a conservative. Fadaaq, wore the white turban, the white overcoat and shawl typical of Sufis, wooden prayer beads resting on his lap. “It’s true that there are differences between the way people practice their faith in this country, and this is an indication that people are using their minds and thinking, which is a good thing,” Fadaaq said. “But what we should concentrate on are the expanses that bring us together, like the Prophet (PBUH). We must take advantage of what we have in common.”

An Extract from the Washington Post by Faiza Saleh Ambah


Tazkiyyat an-Nafs (Purifying the Self)
A Driving Sufi Principle
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani [Excerpted from Classical Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Tradition]
The Sufi teachers of old spread Islam across the Indian Subcontinent, throughout Central and Southeast Asia, in Africa and even some parts of Russia—just as contemporary Sufi teachers are spreading the faith through Europe and America today. But where did the Sufis originate? When did they first appear? And what was the position of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and the scholars of the Community regarding Sufism, or tasawwuf?[1] Today, Islam is taught only with words by people who do not care to practice it purely nor to purify themselves in practice. This unfortunate devolution was foreseen in many ahadith that state, for example, “They will order people and not heed their own warning, and they are the worst of people.”[2] Similarly, the Prophet (s) said, “I do not fear for you only the anti-Christ.” They asked, “Then who else are you afraid of?” He said, “The misguided scholars.”[3] The Prophet (s) also said, “What I fear most for my nation is a hypocrite who has a scholarly tongue.”[4] Such was not the way of the Companions including the People of the Bench(Ahl as-Suffa), concerning whom the following verse was revealed: And restrain thyself with those who call upon their Lord at morning and evening, desiring His countenance, and let not thine eyes turn away from them, desiring the adornment of the present life; and obey not him whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance so that he follows his own lust, and his affair has become all excess. (18:28) Nor was this the way of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (r), about whom the Prophet (s) said, “Abu Bakr does not precede you for praying much or fasting much, but because of a secret that has taken root in his heart.”[5] Nor was this the way of the Successors (tabi`een) such as Hasan al-Basri, Sufyan al-Thawri, and others of the later generations of Sufis who looked back to them for models. AlQushayri relates that al-Junaydsaid, “Tasawwuf is not the profusion of prayer and fasting, but wholeness of the breast and selflessness.”[6] Nor was this the way of the Four Imams who emphasized doing-without (zuhd) and true God-fear (wara), above the mere satisfaction of obligations. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal composed two books with those two qualities as their respective titles. He placed the knowledge of saints above the knowledge of scholars, as is shown by the following report by his student, Abu Bakr alMarwazi: I heard Fath ibn Abi al-Fath saying to Abu Abd Allah (Imam Ahmad) during his last illness, “Invoke God for us that He will give us a good successor to succeed you.” He continued, “Who shall we ask for knowledge after you?” Ahmad replied, “Ask Abd al-Wahhab.” Someone who was present there related to me that he said,“But he does not have much learning.” Abu Abd Allah replied,“He is a saintly man, and such as he is granted success in speaking the truth.”[7] In a celebrated fatwa (legal ruling), the Shafii scholar al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam gives the same priority to the gnostics, or Knowers of God (`arifin), over the jurists. Imam Malik places the same emphasis on inner perfection in his [1] Tasawwuf here means the Islamic Science of Purification of the Self and adapting the perfected character of the Messenger of God, Sayyidina Muhammad(s). [2] Reported on the authority of `Umar, `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, and others. These were collected by Abu Talib al-Makki in the chapter entitled “The Difference between the scholars of the world and those of the hereafter” in his Qut al-qulub fi mu`amalat al-mahbub (Cairo: Matbaat al-maymuniyya, 1310/1893) pp. 1:140-141. [3] Ahmad narrated it in his Musnad. [4] Ahmad narrated it in his Musnad with a good chain. [5] Related by Ahmad with a sound chain in Kitab fada’il al-Sahaba, ed. Wasi Allah ibn Muhammad Abbas (Makkah: Muassasat al-risala, 1983) 1:141 (#118). [6] al-Qushayri, Risalat kitab al-sama in al-Rasail al-qushayriyya (Sidon and Beirut: almaktaba al-asriyya, 1970) p. 60. [7] Ahmad, Kitab al-wara (Beirut: Dar al-kitab al-arabi, 1409/ 1988) p. 10.


Left: Sufi master Shaykh Hisham Kabbani with Shaykh Nazim Haqqani.
saying, “Religion does not consist in the knowledge of many narrations, but in a light which God places in the breast.” Ibn `Ata Allah quotedIbn `Arabi as saying, “Certainty does not derive from the evidences of the mind but pours out from the depths of the heart.” This is why many of the imams of religion cautioned against the mere thirst for knowledge at the expense of the training of the ego. Imam Ghazali left the halls of learning in the midst of a prestigious career in order to devote himself to self-purification. At its outset, he wrote his magisterial Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya `ulum al-din), which begins with a warning to those who consider religion to consist merely of fiqh, or jurisprudence. One of the early Sufis and the greatest of the huffaz, or hadith masters, of his time, Sufyan al-Thawri, sounded the same warning. He addressed those who use the narration of hadith for religion, when he said, “If hadith was good it would have vanished just as goodness has vanished. Pursuing the study of hadith is not part of the preparation for death, but a disease that preoccupies people.” Dhahabi comments: By God he has spoken the truth. Today, in our time, the quest for knowledge and hadith no longer means for the hadith scholar the obligation of living up to it, which is the goal of hadith. He is right in what he said because pursuing the study of hadith is other than the hadith itself.[8] It is for “the hadith itself,” for the purpose of living up to the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) (PBUH) and the Holy Quran, that the great masters of selfpurification forsook the pursuit of science as a worldly allurement, and placed above it the acquisition of ihsan, or perfect character. This is in accordance with the well-known hadith of Aisha (r) concerning the disposition of the Prophet(s) [9] An example is Abu Nasr Bishr al-Hafi, who considered the study of hadith a conjectural science in comparison to the certitude in belief imparted by visitingFudayl ibn al-Iyad.[10] Both ihsan and the process that leads to it are known as tasawwuf. [8] Dhahabi, as cited in Sakhawi, al-Jawahir wa al-durar fi tarjamat shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar (al-Asqalani), ed. Hamid `Abd al-Majid and Taha alZaini (Cairo: wizarat al-awqaf, al-majlis al-ala li al-shuun alislamiyya, lajnah ihya al-turath al-islami, 1986) p. 21-22. [9] When asked about the Prophet’s (s) character, Aisha (r) said, “His character was the Quran.” [10] See Ibn Sa`ad, Tabaqat (ed. Sachau) 7(2):83; al-Arusi, Nata’ij al-afkar al-qudsiyya (Bulaq, 1920/1873); and `Abd al-Wahhab al-Sh`arawi, alTabaqat al-kubra 1:57.


This is the first of a series of articles introduced by the Sufi Muslim Council and is designed to inform British Citizens that Muslims are peaceful people who condemn terrorism with all its elements and affiliations.
Muslims comprise the second largest religion in UK and live as any other citizens, looking after their families and attending to their work. The majority of Muslims have nothing to do with and vigorously condemn extremism and fringe organisations that incite unrest around the world for their own ideological purposes. It is also hoped that through this published series, Muslims in the UK will understand that they have not been fully informed regarding the ideology, agenda and activities of many Muslim organisations and groups which they have faithfully supported for years.

Extremism In All Religions Condemned by SMC
While every religion rejects acts of tyranny, injustice and oppression, extremism is found in every religion. As Muslims we are supporters of love, peace, justice, respect and tolerance. Thus, we see it as our duty to continue to shed light on current events while doing our best to see that the wave of militant radicalism sweeping Muslim nations does not strike again in the UK, where we live. Therefore the SMC, with all its members and directors, condemns all forms of terrorism and the oppression of human rights around the world, whether committed by Muslims, Christians, Jews or members of other faiths. We see that among members of every religion there are those who commit terrorist acts, but they must not be used to label a whole community.

As Muslims in the UK, we declare that we do not support any extremists.
The Nazis--oppressors of many nations and of the Jews - stand condemned. Christian-Irish extremists engaged in fratricide stand condemned. Christian-Serbian extremists, oppressors of innocent Muslims in Bosnia and Kosova, stand condemned. Extremist Jews attacking innocents, stand condemned. Similarly, Muslim extremists, like bin Laden and his affiliates -must be condemned. Therefore, we stand up as Muslims in the UK, declaring that we are not supporting any of these extremists, nor do we have anything to do with them.


UK Muslim Leaders Waver between Split Interests
Unfortunately, many UK Muslim organisations lack the courage to stand up and speak forthrightly about this matter. Too often we see leaders of the community, equivocating between implicit support for extremists and general condemnations of terrorism. Broad-brush, vague condemnations are nothing but a show to prove one’s moderation when Muslims sit around the interfaith table with Jews and Christians. This has the community spinning around in confused circles, for the people can’t help reflecting the actions and words of their leaders. Equivocation on clear moral issues can only lead to perplexity among the common worshippers and loss of confidence in the upright principles of Islam. The cause of these conflicting messages is that on the one hand leaders fear they might divide the community (which in reality is already divided into many factions), and on the other hand they fear for their own positions, due to their connections with extremists around the world through their UK offices. Many extremist organisations operate under assumed identities as non-profit making organisations or corporate businesses, hiding their origins and affiliations. These same disguised organisations hold massive fundraisers in London, Paris, New York, Washington DC, and elsewhere, and often feature ambassadors and politicians. Ironically, the organisations they secretly support are avowed enemies of the nations whose ambassadors they invite. However, whenever someone criticizes the extremists and militant movements, they issue press releases castigating the media as well as moderate Muslim organisations that have the courage to speak out. Some Muslims might ask: Why bring up this subject now as it might cause more problems and difficulties for Muslims? Many contempory western Constitutions have been taken from Islam, including in the USA, the Bill of Rights and its guarantees of freedom of speech, press, and religion. In the time that Muslims have resided in the UK, we have not seen their arbitrary detainment until the advent of extremist organisations, striking here and there. These organisations have now established offices here and in Europe. Our intention is to prevent the majority of Muslims from suffering by being detained or being viewed with suspicion because of the misguided actions of others.

Struggle for Political and Financial Benefit: a False “ Jihad”
Thus we see the likes of bin Laden, with their network of militants, working to destroy the governments around the world including Saudi Arabia. This contradicts the explicit teaching of Prophet Muhammad (saws) not to oppose a ruler as long as he does not prevent the performance of prayer--even if he commits injustice. Thus extremists use Islam when it suits them and likewise contravene it at their convenience. The same applies to other organisations in other nations. Small militant movements arise, and then come against their government and the common people, stirring conflict. This happened previously in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and is currently happening in other Muslim nations as well as places such as the former Soviet Union. When different movements discover they share something in common--in terms of ideology, methodology or a common enemy--they begin to work together. However, once one of them begins to surpass another, conflict ensues and they fight among themselves. This took place within the Palestinian movement in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Initiated as a movement to liberate the land,when it began to grow and acquire power,divergent interests within the broader movement began to clash. When the conflicts ultimately ignited, seventy different Palestinian organisations could be found fighting each other in their own camps using heavy artillery and surface-to-surface rockets. 15

Too often we see Muslim leaders equivocating between implicit support for extremists and general condemnations of terrorism.
Eventually, they ended up as two main parties, Hamas and the PLO. The same problem arose in Afghanistan. To fight the common enemy, the USSR, many different groups and tribes joined together. After their successful Jihad and the USSR had fled, the once-aligned groups turned on each other, resulting in bloodshed and mayhem from which not one inch of Afghan soil was left untainted. In fact after the war, Muslim-generated bloodshed rivalled horrors inflicted by the Soviets. So we see despite an appearance, what is taking place in many of these countries is not and has not been an Islamic Jihad but is purely a struggle for political authority and monetary benefit.

Western Groups Finance Foreign Terror
Government and other agencies have documented that some U.S (and other) -based Islamic organisations are quietly funnelling money collected to support terrorist groups around the world. In fact, this is so well known that the Muslim community cannot escape its fallout unscathed. We say, leaders of the Muslim community who “ launder” money for extremist organisations abroad must bear the burden of their wrongdoing. Some of these organisations claim, “ We are helping schools, refugees and those ravaged by war,” to which we reply:“ OK, but also condemn the extremists, so that all Muslims here are safe. As Muslims, we don’t want to be held accountable for your actions while you grow rich off of our community.” Consider that every innocent child, woman or elder who is maimed, orphaned or killed will testify on the Day of Judgment against those who financially supported such organisations--whose money was used to buy arms and munitions, rocket launchers and bombs to inflict harm upon the innocent. It is no longer an option to keep quiet about this situation. It is not too much to call all organisations to honestly account for every penny they collect. Legitimate organisations keep books and they must report their income. They can easily and swiftly be called to account. Muslims have a right to know where their “ sadaqa,” “ zakat,” “ charity” and “ relief donations” are going. Legitimate organisations will thus be absolved. What such inquiries will do, however, is make the dubious organisations close their doors. It suffices to point out that the leaders of such organisations are the same ones who have given fatwas permitting the cultivation, harvesting and processing of opium, sale of opiates and other kinds of drugs; even killing other Muslims to steal their opium, all in the name of supporting a hallucinatory “ Jihad” against the West. Through various sects, the extremist elements have indoctrinated countless Muslim youth: condemning all who differ to unbelief and apostasy from Islam. Thus they justify the wholesale killing of Muslims, and attacking Muslim governments--even their own nations--for they consider whoever does not support them as the worst of enemies, among those who left the fold of Islam. We appeal to UK based Muslim organisations to openly disclose their ties to foreign groups and movements.


Muslims Must Not Tolerate Extremists
Those organisations in the UK that are affiliated with the global militant movements are obligated to take responsibility for their actions instead of throwing this burden onto the whole Muslim community. Since there is no single leader who represents all of the UK’s Muslims, we must not allow the actions of an individual or group to fall on the heads of the majority of peaceful Muslims in this country. We therefore appeal to Muslim organisations to take a courageous stand regarding all that is going on and openly disclose their ties to foreign groups and movements, as well as the nature of these associations. This act in itself will distinguish who bears responsibility for the senseless acts of a few. SMC feels a heavy responsibility in presenting these articles for the thoughtful consideration of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Some disruptive elements in our community will cry that we are “Western agents,” but we are not bothered by false accusations. We are not the sole or even the first voice raising these issues that are openly discussed in the Arab media.

SMC is not affiliated with any government, and recognizes that it has a duty to stand up and speak the truth. The unacceptable alternative is to let extremist organisations who now operate on our own soil continue to flourish with donations from unwitting British Muslims, destroying our community from within.

Sufi Muslim Council


Suspended in centuries past?

Dr. Zeyno Baran Emmet Tuohy

9/11 New York

7/7 London
Danish cartoon riots
In more than four years since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks - a period that has seen many more such horrendous acts conducted “in the name of Islam”- many Americans wonder whether Islam itself is at the root of the problem. Similar concerns were expressed by the Danish cartoonists, whose drawings caused a worldwide uproar that led to fatal rioting. The recent case of Abdul Rahman, a convert to Christianity who narrowly escaped a death sentence on charges of apostasy, led many to conclude that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with modernity. The relative silence of moderate Muslims in the resulting discussion has only made matters worse. Certainly, there have been some hopeful signs: From the spread of democracy in Lebanon to the reforms undertaken in Indonesia, Malaysia and India, some adherents of the Islamic faith are seeking to disprove the blanket assertion that Islam is a violent religion incompatible with modern democracy. 18

None of these attempts will succeed unless Islam’s essence is understood -- above all, by Muslims. In its essence, Islam is as compatible with modernity as is Christianity or Judaism. The problem is not with

We need to separate Islam as a religion - where the moral and ethical principles of the religion are compatible with democratic values and principles - from Islam as a culture or a political ideology.

these verses emphasize the private nature of From its beginnings, Islam has been a“living religion,” religion, in Islamic literature, apostasy is said to be one not bound by the practices of a particular time punishable by death. and culture. The truths of the Muslim faith are in its primary source: the Quran. The hadiths (words) and In addressing the question of Islam’s compatibility sunnas (deeds) of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) with the modern, democratic world, the West must are only secondary, used in cases where there is avoid the simplistic solution of condemning Islam in its entirety. uncertainty. There is no doubt that, as the first Muslim, the Prophet lived an exemplary life. While justly emulating the Prophet, however, modern Muslims must take care not to place undue emphasis on the cultural practices of his time. To look at the political, social and economic conditions of the Muslim countries and then to conclude that Islam is not compatible with modernity is to confuse cause and effect. Unfortunately, there are those who preach and practice a form of Islam that is not compatible with modernity -- but the problem began much later, with the spread of extremist ideology. This ideology has been promoted most of all by Saudi Arabia, where the ruling family owes its existence to its two-century alliance with the fundamentalist Wahabi sect. It has used that position to destroy historic mosques, shrines and other physical reminders of the pluralistic Islamic heritage. And, with its significant petrodollar reserves, the country has also used that position to export its intolerant brand of Islam. In similar nations, Islamic law often is used as a pretext to squelch dissent and eliminate popular opposition, while distracting the public from the failure of each regime to provide good governance.

Islam itself; rather, the fault lies with certain Muslims who wish to hide the essential truths For example, the Quran explicitly states, “there is no of the religion in the nonessential traditions compulsion in religion” and “let him who pleases believe, and let him who pleases disbelieve.” While of early Arab societies.

While it is ultimately up to Muslims to demonstrate that the teachings of Islam are applicable to modern life, the West must help them reclaim their religion from the extremists who profane its name.

Islam today is the only major world religion in which fundamentalism has become identified as mainstream. However, this fundamentalism is not representative of mainstream Islam - a tolerant, peaceful religion that thrives from Southeast Asia to South America.

Dr. Zeyno Baran


Islamic Declaration of Peace
Selections from the Holy Qur’an
O mankind, truly We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Truly the most noble of you, in the sight of God, is the most God-conscious. 49: 13 For every community (of faith) We have appointed ways of worship, which they aught to observe. Hence, do not let those (who follow other ways) draw you into dispute on this score, but summon them to their Sustainer: for you are on the right way. And if they argue with you, say: God knows best what you are doing.

Truly those who believe, and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabaeans whoever believes in God and the Last Day and performs virtuous deeds - surely their reward is with their Sustainer, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve.

It was We who revealed the Torah; therein was guidance and light. By its standard the Jewish people have been judged by the Prophets who surrendered to God’s will, as well as by the Rabbis and the doctors of Law, for to them the protection of God’s book was entrusted: If any do fail to judge by what God has revealed (including the Torah), they are (no better than) unbelievers. 5:44 We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew all of humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all of humanity. 5:32 We ordained therein for them: “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth and equivalence in harm done.” But if anyone by way of charity foregoes that retaliation, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by what God has revealed, they are wrongdoers.



And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary confirming the law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: and therein was guidance and light and confirmation of the law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who are conscious of God. 5:45-46 To Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.

O you who keep the faith! When you go abroad in the way of God, be clear and circumspect and say not to anyone who offers you a greeting of peace: “You are not a believer!” 4:94 To each community among you We have prescribed a Law and a way of life. If God had so willed He would have made you a single people, but His plan is to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you differ.

And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelations except in the most gentle manner. 29:46 Goodness and Evil cannot be equal. Repel Evil with something better: then the one who hated you will become your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and selfrestraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. And when the Evil One incites discord, seek refuge in God. He is the One Who hears and knows all things. 41:34 And the servants of the Infinitely Compassionate are those who walk on the earth in humility and when the ignorant accost them, they only reply “Peace!”

Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from error; whoever rejects evil and has faith in God has grasped the most trustworthy, unfailing handhold. And God hears and knows all things. God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. 2:256-257

Selected and arranged by Kabir Helminski, translations by Muhammad Asad, Yusuf Ali, and Kabir Helminski


The Roadshow that Builds Bridges between Communities.
Stars and ordinary folk alike turnout to attend various events that saw approximately 25,000 people turnout over six functions to enjoy the beauty of Spirituality, irrespective of colour, race or faith. It was an opportunity for people of all faiths to put aside their differences and celerbrate the aspects of humanity that bring us all together. It was time to ‘CELEBRATE SPIRITUALITY’...

People at the Central Mosque in Leicester are enlightened about interfaith dialogue in heaven.

Pir Maroof and Shaykh Kabbani discuss how to prevent children becoming extremists. - Bradford

Shaykh Kabbani and Pir Naseerudin Naseer discuss the future of Mosques in the UK. - Nelson


Shaykh Kabbanni and Rev. Marcus Beybrook (cofounder of the 3 Faiths Forum) enjoying a moment of reflection in Oxford

An interfaith gathering listening to the pearls of wisdom - Oxford

Shaykh Kabbani and Bishop Gilliett discussing how Sufiism is the antithesis of extremism - Bury

Dr. Mirahmadi and guests showing that interfaith can be fun - Lancashire

Amir Khan and Chico with organisers of the tour, Crescent Network CEO Haras Rafiq - Manchester

One of the organizers taking a blessing from Shaykh Kabbani - Birmingham

Shaykh Kabbani and Shaykh Tahir al Qadri meet to discuss SMC and form new links - London

Rabbi Warren, Rev. Keith Trivasse and Veronica Voiles enjoying the concert - Wythenshawe


Failure is part of Learning

As I was passing the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not. I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” he said,“when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” I was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were. Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?



Researched and Compiled by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani and Mateen Siddiqui Published In The Muslim Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 4 By virtue of his unwavering support for the Afghan mujahideen during their protracted, devastating war against the Soviet Union, for more than a decade Usama bin Laden was an ally of the United States. It was during those years his own countrymen, and Arabs in general, thought of bin Laden as a philanthropist and noble hero of the fight against the atheist communists.

Part One...

financing the mujahideen and outfitting them for the fight. He then began to assemble his own fighters, known as the Afghan Arabs, for which he recruited thousands of men—mainly from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf. He even paid for their passage to Afghanistan and set up the main guerrilla camp where they received military training—bin Laden style. Bin Laden often visited Peshawar, a Pushto-speaking city carved roughly into the Himalayan foothills which, for centuries, has been home to Pathans of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, a grassroots, hilly outpost which supports its own culture, tradition and language. Peshawar was a pivotal point for the Afghan freedom fighters through which the majority of money, weapons, and medicines were funneled from the outside world—and from all over the world—from clandestine government concerns as well as private efforts that endeavored to crush the Russian onslaught.

From Philanthropy to Active Combat.
And so it was that bin Laden became a familiar sight in Peshawar, where he received reports of how his money had been spent, in addition to meeting regularly with his Arab legions. But these meetings inspired in him less desire to merely fund the charitable and military operations and more desire to actually direct the fight. It was then bin Laden began to concentrate everything he had—his resources, his mind, his heart—into the actual combat operations in Afghanistan. It was a decision that reshaped him and which, perhaps, was the greatest passage on his journey into the Usama bin Laden persona we know today. Time magazine’s Scott Mcleod, who visited bin Laden in 1996, says of his early days in actual combat, He designed and constructed defensive tunnels and ditches along the Pakistani border, driving a bulldozer and exposing himself to strafing from Soviet helicopter gunships. Before long, he had taken up a Kalashnikov and was going into battle. In 1986 he and a few dozen Arab defenders fought off a Soviet onslaught in a town called Jaji, not far from the Pakistani border. A year later, bin Laden led an offensive against Soviet troops in the battle of Sha`ban. Vicious hand-to-hand fighting claimed heavy mujahideen casualties, but his men succeeded in pushing the Soviets out of the area. The report quotes Hamza Mohammed, a Palestinian volunteer fighter, He was a hero to us because he was always on the front line, always moving ahead of everybody else. He continues, He not only gave his money, but he also gave himself. He came down from his palace to live with the Afghan peasants and Arab fighters. He cooked with them, ate with them, dug trenches with them. That was bin Laden’s way.

More recently, in the aftermath of two terrorist incidents in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, governments across four continents—specifically: the US, England, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and several former Soviet republics—have gone public with their concern that bin Laden is the most dangerous person in the world. Some terrorism experts recognize that he has stolen the spotlight from Carlos, the Venezuelan terrorist of global repute who eluded capture for more than 20 years, so cunning in fact that many world-class agencies which tracked him did not know his face. Milton Beardon, an American official who for six years directed support operations for the Afghans from inside in the late 80’s, says of bin Laden: “It all started when Usama bin Laden began to spend more time in Pakistan than in Saudi Arabia, going between the homeless refugees and the fighters. At that time he built refugee camps for the widows and children of the Afghan mujahideen.

His Initiation in the Afghan War
In a 1996 interview with Robert Fisk for British tabloid The Independent, bin Laden stated: When the invasion of Afghanistan started, I was enraged and went there immediately—I arrived within days of the outbreak, before the end of 1979. In fact, Laden went quickly from building refugee camps, clinics and schools for the children of the camps, to


Flight to Sudan
When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, bin Laden returned to work in the family’s Jeddah-based construction business, to discovere that he’d become a celebrity. But his star appeal swiftly faded when he began denouncing the Saudi regime. When he continued to affiliate with and support the militant Islamic groups he’d known in Afghanistan, less than five years after his return the Saudi government seized his passport. Bin Laden then fled to Sudan, embraced by Hassan al-Turabi, Sudan’s president. It is alleged that he thereafter financed as many as three terrorist training camps in Sudan over the course of his three-year stay. In his words, he voluntarily left for Pakistan in May 1996, afraid his presence was harming Sudan’s image in international circles. Some sources, however, say bin Laden was expelled.

Bin Laden became popular after the famous Ali Khal operation, reports Paris-based Al-Watan al-`Arabi, a popular Arabiclanguage monthly news magazine. Bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs, with only light weapons, no artillery and minimal military training, were far outgunned by a huge Soviet army contingent supported by massive airpower. Bin Laden and his ragtag troops defeated the Soviets and took back the area. About this battle, bin Laden is quoted as saying, [Ali Khal] destroyed the myth that a superpower cannot be defeated. It was after this operation that bin Laden’s fame spread far and wide, through a myriad of channels. Mercennaries and volunteers alike began to flow in from Arab states to join him. He paid them generously, supported their training and supplied them with arms. In a matter of months the ranks of his fighters had swelled to 10,000. His personal experiences on the battlefield were the stuff of legends. When interviewed by British reporter Robert Fisk, bin Laden said, I was never afraid of death. As Muslims, we believe that when we die, we go to heaven. Before a battle, God sends us sakina—tranquillity. Once I was only thirty meters from the Russians and they were trying to capture me. I was under bombardment, but I was so peaceful in my heart that I fell asleep...I saw a 120mm mortar shell land in front of me, but it did not blow up. Four more bombs were dropped from a Russian plane on our headquarters but they did not explode.

Armed by the US
The CIA reportedly began to funnel weapons to bin Laden as an ally against the Soviets, reports MSNBC—a report bin Laden strongly denies. Issam Daraz, who interviewed bin Laden in 1989 in the last months of the war, brought back photos and videos of bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs, armed with Stinger missiles supplied by the Reagan Administration.

Having tasted success in his support of the Afghans against the Soviets, bin Laden turned his military focus towards defeating the last remaining superpower the US. His tactic: kill as many Americans as possible, wherever they are in the world. “You [Americans] will leave when the youth send you wooden boxes and coffins, and you will carry in them the bodies of American troops and civilians, vowed bin Laden in an exclusive interview with ABC News correspondent John Miller in June of this year. Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers, and especially the Arabian Peninsula where the Ka’aba is, which he went on to proclaim can only be cleansed through jihad.” h t t p : / / w w w. o u t p o s t - o f - f r e e d o m . c o m / OPF980830.htm” [Usama bin Ladenʼs formal declaration of war]

Proposed Formation of Terrorist Network
Four months ago, bin Laden announced the formation of an umbrella organization to support extremist groups which have sprung up around the world, many of which share a rigid adherence to a literal understanding of Islam—one which rejects mainstream Muslim beliefs and invokes on them judgements of heresy, apostasy and unbelief. All these groups share the teaching that existing moderate Islamic governments are outside Islam and must be toppled by force. In the same ABC News interview, bin Laden eerily addressed his own government. We predict that the Riyadh leader and those with him that stood with the Jews and Christians and forfeited Al-Haramayn—the two holy shrines—to Jews and Christians with American identities or others, will disintegrate. They have left the Muslim nation. We predict [their] destruction and dispersal. These groups concur that America is the Great Satan responsible for the failure of Muslims. They see American hands behind every misfortune that afflicts the Muslim world. In line with this, bin Laden and his troops have their sights

Family Background
Usama bin Laden is one of 57 children of construction magnate Muhammad Awad bin Laden, a Saudi national of Yemeni origin. Reportedly the only child from his father’s marriage to a Palestinian woman, one of ten wives, He has no full brothers or sisters, which is rare in the bin Laden clan, a senior US intelligence official said. He was not held in high standing in the family even before the allegations of terrorism arose. Even today the bin Laden family—whose businesses thrive throughout the Muslim world, particularly in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East, Europe and America— has many children studying in the US. Usama labored in his family’s construction business until shortly after the January 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops. Of his first trip to Afghanistan as a 20-year-old, bin Laden only knew it was a Muslim country and that ‘it had great horses,’ says Issam Daraz.


squarely set on the US and its global interests. In the same ABC News interview, bin Laden implied that the fight would soon come to American soil. “The continuation of the tyranny will bring the fighting to America, like [through] Ramzi Yousef and others. This is my message to the American people” [Ramsi . Yousef is the convicted World Trade Center bomber sentenced in absentia and captured last year in Pakistan.] Several months before the US Embassy blasts last August, Usama bin Laden held a press conference announcing the formation of an umbrella organization, The International Front against Jews and Crusaders. Al-Wasat al-`Arabi reports that at his side was the leader of Egypt’s notorious Jihad Movement, Dr. Ayman Rabi’a al-Zawahari. Al-Wasat reports that bin Laden’s network has in effect aligned an array of rebel groups from different nations who joined the Afghan fighters, including Egyptians (primarily comprised of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Group and the Jihad Movement) Saudis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Algerians, Gulf Arabs, Pakistanis, Afghans, Sudanese, Somalians, and a scattering from other nations. Even American-Muslim converts are reported among them. His trained killers work zealously in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and in Europe, where their headquarters are located in Holland. While bin Laden did not appear publicly after the American retaliatory attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan, the Jihad Movement’s leader, Dr. al-Zawahari, telephoned international media sources from Afghanistan, voicing threats to America and declaring war against its interests, wherever they are. He told journalists, “bin Laden is alive and well, sitting right beside me” Anonymous . American officials have revealed that al-Zawahiri was with bin Laden when the American attacks took place - miraculously they were both unharmed.

Originating within the cauldron of Egypt’s many movements, this methodology contends that militant work must precede propagation (da`wah) work. Al-Zawahiri’s thinking reflects this. Edicts such as the Islamic Group’s The Decisive Word, argue that Muslims must stand and fight existing governments and overthrow them. Through clever twisting of source texts interspersed with snippets from juristic rulings of later scholars, they build an apparently convincing justification for the Islamic nature of their cause. Enthusiastic Arab youth, uneducated and often unemployed, entirely disillusioned with the state of the Muslim community, easily fall for such adrenalin-soaked solutions, perhaps motivated by the sheer militancy of it all. Al-Wasat’s sources state that bin Laden drank deeply from the fount of ideology and information provided by al-Zawahiri, absorbing his anti-government, anti-America doctrine. In fact, bin Laden’s statement to ABC News echoes his total indoctrination by Al-Zawahiri. We don’t differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians. They are all targets in this fatwa. Despite Islam’s clear injunctions against harming civilians in war, particularly women and children, the Jihad Movement explicitly condones the use of terrorism, citing the Shari`ah’s allowance for collateral killing of hostages if an attack is directed at a group of combatants. We must use such punishment to keep your evil away from Muslims, Muslim children and women, said bin Laden. To justify such violence in the name of Islam he cites American history. Americans, he retorted, does not distinguish between civilians and military, and not even women and children. They are the ones who used the bombs against Nagasaki.

According to al-Wasat, the story of the friendship between these two men goes back to their first meeting in the summer of 1989 during one of bin Laden’s visits to Peshawar. Sources say they have never separated since. Of the same generation, bin Laden now 40 years old and al-Zawahiri 47, an al-Wasat source says the pair were satisfied with the role the other played: the affluent Saudi using his millions stashed in the US and Switzerland to support the jihad in Afghanistan; and the Egyptian ideologue, the guiding intellect behind the strategems of war. Al-Wasat states that al-Zawahiri is the one who indoctrinated Usama bin Laden into following a rigid ideology: applying a restrictive reading of Shari`ah (Islamic Law), condemning mainstream Muslim governments, and implementing jihad against them. Furthermore, he persuaded Usama to move from charitable to militant work. Usama, who began to spend more and more time with AlZawahiri, came to accept his simplistic Egyptian Jihad Model.

Another influence on Usama was Al-Zawahiri’s friend Ali Rashidi, a former Egyptian police officer, expelled from the force after being accused of establishing the Jihad Movement to topple the government, reports that facilitated his migration to Afghanistan. While al-Zawahiri swayed bin Laden’s mind, AlWasat says, al-Rashidi captured his heart; a potent combination that resulted in bin Laden becoming more extreme than the extremists. Other friends from Egypt included Muhammad Shawki al-Islambouli, brother of Anwar Sadat’s assassin, and Muhammad Hamza, accused of attempting to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa. Both were initial organizers of the Jihad Movement.

To be continued in the next issue.


Democratic Election of Leaders

From the beginning, Islam has mandated democracy through a shura (elected council of leaders), a process through which people sit together, consult with one another, and select one person to represent them. This process was recently employed in Afghanistan where, according to a fifteen-century old tradition, the people chose representatives who then gathered to choose not only a leader, but a cabinet and national assembly. The recent loya jirga that confirmed Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan, demonstrated once again that Islamic rule is based on democratic choice. A clear example of democracy’s role in Islam is manifest in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) passing without appointing a successor to rule the Muslim state. He intentionally left it to the Muslims to come together to make this crucial decision based on what he had taught them. The Azhar scholar Dr. Abu Zahra said: “The Prophet (PBUH) never gave a single word or sign indicating who his successor would be... and in the meeting which took place to elect the calipha, the Companions were in utter disagreement as to who should succeed the Prophet, but in the end were able to choose Abu Bakr as-Siddiq by the consensus of the majority.” [1] [1] Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt is the oldest Islamic university in the world, dating back many centuries, and is considered one of the highest Islamic authorities by intellectuals and scholars. 28

Essentially, there were three groups who differed in who should succeed the Prophet: •The Ansar, the Prophet’s (PBUH) supporters in Madinah, who felt the leadership should fall to one among them as they supported the Prophet (PBUH) when he immigrated from Mecca. •Another group, led by Abu Bakr and Umar, believed that the immigrants (Muhajiroon) who came with the Prophet (PBUH) to Madinah should lead, because they were the first to enter Islam. •The third group called on Ali to lead, due to his familial relationship with the Prophet .

The disagreement did not last long, as through shura the three groups quickly reached the consensus that Abu Bakr had the highest credentials to take the reins of leadership. The majority voted for him, and the Islamic precedent for peaceful transition between rulers was introduced. Once the majority had decided, the individual citizens ratified the selection by pledging their allegiance one-by-one to the new head of state. In electing a candidate from among the three parties vying for succession, the first, most exemplary Muslims imprinted their stamp of religious authenticity on the electoral system. The fact that the Companions (Sahaba) did not establish a monarchy or a dictatorship irrevocably demonstrates that leadership in Islam is the choice of the people. Once a selection is made by the shura council, each individual Muslim has the option to accept their choice or not. This is known as taking a pledge of allegiance (baya’). If a group feels the choice was made unjustly, they may refuse to accept it and form an opposition party. In the end however, a judge accepted by both sides must make a final arbitration and choose between the two parties based on the validity of their claims. The executive aspect of governance is also conducted through consultation. The ruler, chosen by the shura and confirmed by the citizen’s individual pledge of allegiance, is obliged to consult on executive decisions. He therefore consults with a council, parliament or advisory group whose specific role is to advise. Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) had to make a decision that would affect the Muslim nation in whole or part, he gathered his followers to conduct a shura. In one instance, before the onset of a battle, one of the companions asked the Prophet (PBUH) if the location of the Muslim camp should be chosen through Divine inspiration or consultation. The Prophet (PBUH) answered that it should be the product of consultation, and proceeded to follow the group’s recommendation to settle beside the nearest water well. Umar, the second caliph, said,“Whoever is chosen by the people after me will be the caliph, and you people must listen to him and obey him.”[2] Upon Umar’s passing, the shura chose Uthman, and after Uthman’s assassination, they chose Ali. With the election of Ali there arose a dispute, and Muawiya took over the caliphate. Later the rule went to his son, and the system thereby changed from democracy to a monarchy. Thereafter, the selection of the ruler was dynastic and remained so through the time of the Ottoman caliphs. Muawiya separated the political and religious systems. However he regularly consulted with Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar, who possessed vastly greater knowledge. The system thus changed into a political leadership advised by religious leaders. [2] Sahih Bukhari. 29

Irfan Ahmed
The Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of Islam, is being demolished by hardliners. In countries such as Saudi Arabia almost all of the Islamic historical sites are gone, but this is not the first time they have been destroyed. In 1802, and army led by the sons of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahabism) and Muhammad ibn Saud occupied Taif and began a bloody massacre. A year later, the forces occupied the holy city of Mecca. They executed a campaign of destruction in many sacred places and leveled all the existing domes, even those built over the well of Zamzam. However, after the army left, Sharif Ghalib breached the truce, inciting the Wahabis to reoccupy Mecca in 1805. In 1806, the Wahabi army occupied Medina. They did not leave any religious building, including mosques, without demolishing it, whether inside or outside the Baqi’ (graveyard). They intended to demolish the grave of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, many times, but would repeatedly change their minds. At this time, non-Wahabi Muslims were prevented from performing the Hajj (pilgrimage). In 1805, Iraqi and Iranian Muslims were refused permission to perform Hajj, as were the Syrians in 1806 and Egyptians the following year. The Saudi leader at the time wanted the pilgrims to embrace his Wahabi beliefs and accept his Wahabi mission. If they refused, he denied them permission to perform the Hajj and considered them heretics and infidels—ignoring the word of God in Sura al-Baqara: And who is more unjust than he who forbids that in places for the worship of God, His name should be celebrated? Whose zeal is (in fact) to ruin them? It was not fitting that such should themselves enter them except in fear. For them there is nothing but disgrace in this world, and the world to come, an exceeding torment. (Qur’an 2:114) The Wahabi army’s destruction campaign targeted the graves of the martyrs of Uhud, the mosque at the grave of Sayyid alShuhada’ Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib and the mosques outside the Baqi’: the Mosque of Fatima al-Zahra, the Mosque of alManaratain, and Qubbat’ al-Thanaya (the burial site of the Prophet’s (PBUH) incisor that was broken in the battle of Uhud). The structures in the Baqi’ were also leveled to the ground and not a single dome was left standing. This great place that was visited by millions of Muslims over many centuries became a garbage dump, such that it was not possible to recognize any grave or know whom it embraced. The occupation of the holy places by the army and their preventing Muslims from performing Hajj led thousands of people to flee Mecca and Medina to escape religious persecution. The Muslims started to complain and express their concerns, and public opinion put pressure on the Ottoman Caliph to liberate and rebuild the two holy places and once again permit the Muslims to perform the pilgrimage. Accordingly, an army led by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Caliph’s

The picture above shows how the Grand Mosque at Mecca (left) is becoming overshadowed by rising skyscrapers, including the Zam Zam tower, being constructed by the bin Laden family. viceroy in Egypt, was sent. When the forces arrived in the Hijaz, a number of tribes marched in support of the army, which regained control over Medina and then Mecca. In 1818, the Wahabis were defeated and they withdrew from the holy places. The Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque, the Baqi’ and the monuments at Uhud were rebuilt during the reigns of the Ottoman sultans ‘Abd al-Majid I, ‘Abd al-Hamid II and Mahmud II. From 1848 to 1860, the buildings were renovated and the Ottomans built the domes and mosques in splendid aesthetic style. They also rebuilt the Baqi’ with a large dome over the graves of the Prophet’s (PBUH) daughter Fatima al-Zahra, Imam Zainul ‘Abidin (‘Ali bin al-Hussain), Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir and Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq. The graves of others related to the Prophet found at the Baqi’ include those belonging to Ibrahim (son), ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (Companion and son-in-law), Saffia bint Abdul Muttalib (aunt), Atika bint ‘Abd al-Muttalib (aunt), Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (uncle), Fatima bint Assad (Imam Ali’s mother), ‘Abd Allah ibn Ja‘far bin Abi Talib (cousin) and Aqil ibn Abi Talib (The Prophet’s cousin). The grave of the Prophet’s (PBUH) father ‘Abd Allah was in Dar al-Nabigha of the Bani Najjar, the house of where the Prophet learned to swim. However, his father’s grave was exhumed 17 years ago and transferred to the Baqi’. The area of the house today lies under the marble covering the plaza surrounding the mosque. A number of the Prophet’s (PBUH) wives (the Mothers of the Faithful) were buried in the Baqi’: ‘A’isha, Hafsa, Juwayriya, Saffia, Sawda, Zaynab bint Khuzaima, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Umm Habiba and Umm Salama. The tomb of Khadija, the Prophet’s first wife, is in Mecca because she died before the Hijra (migration of Muslims to Medina). Her grave is in the Hajun cemetery, known as Maqbarat’al-Ma’la. The tomb of Maimouna, another wife, is also in Mecca in an area known as


Above is the scene of destruction when the mutawi or “religious police” visible in red headgear, supervised the , demolition of the ancient Mosque of abu-Qubais. This mosque, built 1,200 years ago, stood on the site where Ali-Oraid, grandson of Mohammed, had lived. Now it is covered by the King’s palace. Sarif, which lies on the side of the Hijra Road, nearly 13 miles (20 kilometers) outside Mecca. On April 21,1925, the domes in the Baqi’ were demolished once more along with the tombs of the holy personalities in Maqbarat’al-Ma‘la in Mecca, where the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) mother, wife Khadija, grandfather and other ancestors are buried. Destruction of the sacred sites in the Hijaz continues till this day. Wahabis say they are trying to rescue Islam from what they consider innovations, deviances and idolatries. Among the practices they believe are contrary to Islam are constructing elaborate monuments over graves and making supplications there. The Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim - which was built to mark the location of the house where the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim, was born to Mariah, his Egyptian wife - also contained the grave of Hamida al-Barbariyya, the mother of Imam Musa al-Kazim. These sites were destroyed over the past few years. I recently met with one of the leading political leaders of Medina and took the opportunity to speak to him about the destruction of these holy sites. He told me that the sites were not being demolished, but that torrential rain in Medina was washing away the old buildings! I told him the mosque and tomb of Sayyid Imam al-Uraidhi ibn Ja‘far al-Sadiq, four miles from the Prophet’s Mosque, was destroyed by dynamite and flattened on August 13, 2002. Imam al-Uraidhi is ninth in line from the Prophet. I also asked him about the plan to demolish the last remnant of the historical vestiges of the Messenger of God, namely his noble birthplace, which has been converted into a library, “Maktabat Makka al-Mukarrama.” There was no answer. Within the last 10 years, Muqbil ibn Hadi al-Wadi’i, a student at the University of Medina, wrote a thesis titled “About the Dome Built over the Grave of the Messenger,” sponsored by

The picture above shows all that remains of the grave of Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife in the graveyard of Al-Baqi. Destroyed 50 years ago, the mutawi guard the site to prevent pilgrims placing flowers or praying by the ruins.

Sheikh Hammad al-Ansari. In this paper, the student demands that the noble grave be brought out of the Mosque. He says the presence of the holy grave and noble dome are major innovations and that they both need to be destroyed! His thesis received very high marks. Last year, the city planning board of Medina painted the famous green dome of the Prophet’s Holy Mosque silver. After intense protests by the citizens of Medina, the board restored the dome to its original color. In the Ottoman part of the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque, at the center of the three sections raised a bit from the ground level are three circles. The first, toward the west, corresponds to the grave of the Prophet (PBUH). The next two toward the east correspond to the graves of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. Above the circles are invocations including“Ya Allah” and “Ya Muhammad.” The latter was removed and replaced it with “Ya Majid” by adding the dot under the ‘ha of Muhammad (PBUH) to make it jim and two dots under the second mim of Muhammad (PBUH) to make it ‘ya. There are qasidas written by rulers of the Muslim world, such as Sultan ‘Abd al- Hamid. Many verses of the famous Burda of al-Busayri had also been painted over. On the Qibla side, the brass partition that is divided into three sections between two columns, the authorities have also tried to cover the famous two verses inscribed in the east from the story of al-‘Utbi as mentioned by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir. “O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth, and from whose fragrance the depth and height have become sweet! May I be the ransom for a grave in which you dwell, where purity, bounty and munificence.” If one raises his head a bit, he will see on the first section of this partition a green banner, on which the words of the Almighty are framed in yellow: O you who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet (PBUH), may blessings and peace be upon him and


his family, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as you speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds be rendered fruitless while you perceive not. (Qur’an 49:2) The Sacred Chamber has four exterior doors: on the south, Bab al-Tawba (The Door of Repentance), on the north, Bab alTahajjud (The Door of Night Prayer), on the east, Bab Fatima (the Door of Fatima), and on the west, Bab al-Nabi (The Door of the Prophet)—also known as Bab al- Wufud (The Door of Delegations). These gates have been present since the year 668 AH except for the Gate of the Night Prayer, which was installed in 729 AH. Inside there are two gates, one on either side of the triangular part of the interior compartment. All of these doors are covered by brass shelves holding Qur’ans, an attempt to prevent the public from looking inside the Sacred chamber. The Wahabi religious authorities are, unfortunately, on a fast track. In 1998 the grave of Amina bint Wahb, the Prophet’s (PBUH) mother, was bulldozed in Abwa and gasoline was poured on it. Even though thousands of petitions throughout the Muslim world were sent to Saudi Arabia, nothing stopped this action. One of my late teachers, Sheikh Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki, a Meccan who was a great historian on the holy sites and inherited his knowledge from his father and forefathers who were all teachers of the holy Haram, showed me pictures of the grave of Sayyida Amina marked with a pile of stones after the destruction. The House of Khadija was excavated during the Haram extensions, then hurriedly covered over so as to obliterate any trace of it. This was the house where the Prophet (PBUH) received some of his first revelations and it is also where his children Umm Kulthum, Ruqqaya, Zaynab, Fatima, and Qasim were born. Dar al-Arqam, the first school in Islam where the Prophet taught has also been demolished. It was in the area of Shi’b ‘Ali near the Bab ‘Ali door opposite the king’s palace. It is now part of the extension of the Haram. The authorities plan to demolish the house of Mawlid, where the Prophet(PBUH) was born. About 60 years ago, this house, which used to have a dome over it, was turned into a cattle market. Some people then worked together to transform it into a library, which it is today. It is lined with shelves of books about Mecca, most of them written by Meccans. But the library is under threat again because of the new Jabal ‘Umar project, one of the largest real estate development projects near the Grand Mosque.The birthplace of the Prophet (PBUH) is to make way for a car park and hotels. About 99% of real estate owners in the Jabal ‘Umar area are shareholders in this company. The owners have been provided with financial incentives, including what they used to receive as rents, combining five-star facilities under the luxurious Le Meridien banner. The Meridien Towers will allow several thousand housing units in Mecca to be available during specified periods of time, for a one-off, fixed fee, giving the towers 25 years of shared ownership in Mecca. This scheme allow outsiders, whether Muslim or not, to invest in the city; they will be allowed to buy from a range of properties that can be used, sublet, resold or given as a gift. For the holy month of Ramadan in Mecca, authorities built a wall enclosure in the Haram for women to pray there so men will not be able to see them. However, this has also blocked women’s visibility of the Ka‘ba while they perform their prayers. The tawaf (circumambulation) for women has also been restricted to certain times. We don’t know if these changes are permanent or just for Ramadan.

The mountain pictured is the al-Nour or “Mountain of Light” A cave is situated on this mountain, which was . where Mohammed (PBUH) received his first “communications” which became the first verses of the Koran. The Independent states: “Hardline clerics want it destroyed to stop pilgrims visiting” .

In Medina, of the seven mosques at the site of the Battle of the Trench (Jabal al-Khandaq), where Sura al-Ahzab was revealed, only two remain. The others have been demolished and a Saudi bank’s cashpoint machine has been built in the area. The remaining mosques will be demolished as soon as the new mosque being constructed is ready. One of the mosques slated for destruction is Masjid Fath, the mosque and rock of victory, where the Prophet (PBUH) stood during the battle of the trench praying for victory. On the rock is where he received God’s promises of victory and of the conquest of Mecca.


Essence of Abstinence
You who are kept in pawn to food, you can be free if you suffer yourself to be weaned, Truly in hunger there is abundant nourishment: search after it diligently and cherish the hope of finding it. Feed on the Light, be like the eye, be in harmony with the angels, O best of humankind. Like the Angel, make glorification of God your sustenance. See how the hand is invisible while the pen is writing; the horse careening, yet the rider is unseen; the arrow flying, but the bow out of sight; individual souls existing, while the Soul of the souls is hidden. Don’t strive so much to complete your worldly affairs; don’t strive in any affair that’s not sacred. Otherwise at the end. you’ll leave incomplete, your spiritual affairs damaged and your bread unbaked. The beautifying of your grave isn’t done by means of wood and stone and plaster; no, but by digging your grave in spiritual purity and burying your own selfhood in His (mission), and by becoming His dust, buried in love of Him, so that from His breath, yours may be replenished. The smell of pride and greed and lust will betray you when you speak as much as the onions you have eaten. Many prayers are rejected because of their smell; the corrupt heart reveals itself in the tongue. But if your meaning is pure, God (may) accept even your clumsy expression.

Ahmad Sam’ani [Rawh al-arwah, p.312]


We are sitting, four of us, in the office of the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Chicago. It is a peaceful, familiar place for this writer, filled with memories going back some twenty years. The I.C.C. was built from the ground-up by Muslim immigrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina; first the school, then the red brick mosque with the silver dome and soaring minaret, proudly displaying the Islamic star and crescent to astonished eyes in this predominantly Jewish neighborhood of suburban Chicago. Yes, twenty years’ full of recollections of special times spent with these solid and patient people, who continue to this day to worship in the traditional Ottoman style. Scenes of Ramadans past run through my mind; taraweeh prayers, Eid prayers, weddings, funerals, banquets and, of course, endless speeches. Amidst large groups and small, this mosque has resounded to the beautiful and haunting sounds of zikru’Llah and Mawlid’un’Nabi performed in the classic way, unchanged from generation to generation. With its every brick set in place for the love of Allah Almighty, this beautiful building has stood as an old and trusted friend, harboring countless private moments of worship and reflection to be treasured along a lifetime. Yet it is not a happy event that occupies us on this grey afternoon. The interminable Chicago winter echoes the sadness of the tale we have come to hear. Mihret, a thirty-six year-old native of the ruined Bosnian city of Srebrenica, has come this day to recall his ordeal at the hands of people gone mad with hatred - people who had once been his friends 34 and neighbors - in a country where the protective fabric of civilization had been ripped away to expose the ugliness that lurks within the dark confines of the human soul. “I was born in a small village near Srebrenica,” Mihret

in a country where the protective fabric of civilization had been ripped away to expose the ugliness that lurks within the dark confines of the human soul.

began, “ and before the war, I worked in Belgrade as a heavy equipment operator.” Our interpreter, a young Bosnian refugee named Eldar, focused himself and relayed what his countryman was saying. “I had just returned to Srebrenica to live when the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina seceded from Yugoslavia,” Mihret went on, “and for the first month after independence was declared, Serb and Muslim police patrolled together. That was in March or April of ‘93. Then, arguments began, and they separated. The Serbs invited us (Muslims) to join them, and promised that we would be safe. They (the Serbs) had occupied all the important strategic points, and held the high ground around the city, but there was no fighting yet. “In May, some Serbs from Skelani, which is a village near us, next to the Adrina River, came and told us

that they would be holding some military exercises, and civilians alike - had retreated into the city to only for practice, and that Muslims should stay inside join the inhabitants there. All told, there were over their houses for their own safety.” forty-three-thousand people now cut-off inside Srebrenica.” Mihret looked away into the distance as the memory took hold of his mind; “But it was not for practice. We asked Mihret about the arrival of UNPRO (United When the Muslims were effectively isolated in their Nations) forces on the scene. homes, the Serbs began killing them. In Skelani, they massacred forty-five people, including kids and the “First came the Canadians” he replied. “They took , elderly. Only fifteen escaped, and made their way to up positions between us and the Serbs, who had by the area controlled by the Bosnian (Muslim) police. now connected their chain of forty strong-points into an unbroken, encircling ring.” “When the people heard what was going on, they came together to form a militia. Nasr Oric was Taking my notebook,Mihret drew a diagram showing our first commander, and a ‘fight line’ was hastily three concentric, irregularly-shaped rings. The outer established against the Serbs. Remember, from the one, which was by far the largest, consisted of a series beginning they had us completely encircled. All the of dots connected with a line. This he labeled ‘Serbs’. roads were cut off. Inside the large circle, he drew a smaller series of dots, also connected with a line. “These are the five At first we had some success against them. We U.N. checkpoints” the interpreter told us. Finally, in , set up ambushes, and captured some weapons to the center, was a small oval area representing the defend ourselves, including two tanks. Bosnians. But in August and September, the Bosnian Serbs got support from the regular Yugoslav army. Suddenly, there were four full corps - over eighty-thousand men - against perhaps ten-thousand of us. Though we had dug trenches and fortified our position, it was hopeless. We couldn’t any longer resist them, and, beginning in July of ‘93, our line collapsed. By October, over twenty-thousand people - soldiers “The Canadians asked us to surrender our weapons so that they could protect us” the survivor said , matter-of-factly, “and we complied. For the rest of the year, ‘92, and into January of ‘93, there was no food. The situation was very difficult. An airlift was conducted by the U.N. during January and February, but it was not enough. Starving 35

“Then, on July 12, 1995, the Serbs made their final attack. The U.N. soldiers had moved into their own “The airlift lasted until April or May, and then relief compound in the city center, and took no part in the supplies were brought in by U.N. trucks. Much of fighting. There was panic everywhere, people were this was stolen by the Serbs, who controlled the crying. The women and children went to the U.N. checkpoints that the trucks had to pass through camp, asking to be taken inside for protection, while on the way in to Srebrenica. There was a serious fifteen-thousand of our men who were militarily shortage of salt - our bones ached - and food was capable formed a fight line to try to effect a breaklimited to four kilos of flour per person for two weeks. out to reach Tuzla. Remember, we had turned in People were weak, exhausted, and sick. Many died most of our arms to the Canadians. The situation of starvation. This situation lasted until the end of was desperate. ‘93. “Inside the U.N. camp, the slaughter had begun. “Then, at the beginning of ‘94, our condition Wearing stolen U.N. uniforms, the Serbs had gotten improved a little. In small groups, we were managing in and began rounding up the terrified Muslims. to escape, undetected by our enemies, to the town Young girls and women were raped and then of Zepa, where we were able to get some food to brutally executed, some right away, and some later. bring back to Srebrenica. Makeshift markets were The elderly were mostly killed. The knife was the even set up. With money, you could buy. But, no Serbs’ weapon of choice, before bullets. money, . . . “Most of us are deeply ‘curious’ about how the “By the end of ‘94, the Canadians were replaced by Serbs were able to get in. As we said, the Serb and maybe two or three-hundred Dutch troops, who Dutch soldiers were seen drinking and fraternizing took over the U.N. checkpoints. We were uneasy together. I personally saw Serbs stopping U.N. trucks at their checkpoints and leaving the scene wearing the UNPRO uniforms. Most of our people believe that the hijackings were staged, that there was some kind of agreement ‘under the table’. Perhaps one day it will come out. People were weak, exhausted, and sick. Many

people ran out onto the field where the parachutes were supposed to come, and were killed by the heavy crates’ falling on them.”

of NATO airstrikes against the Serbs.

died of starvation. This situation lasted until the end of ‘93.

“There were some survivors, fortunately. They were taken by truck to the border of Muslim-controlled territory, near Kladanj, and let off.

about them. Their commander was seen on T.V. “As to the fate of the men . . .” as Mihrab went on, , drinking with the Serbian commander, and the his manner had slowly changed. He had begun in a soldiers were also drinking together. business-like way, as if he were appearing for a job interview, or giving directions to a lost traveler in an “Suddenly, at the beginning of July, 1995, the Serbs area where he had grown up. But now, as the memory launched attacks against two U.N. checkpoints, and of the awful events gripped him, he became tense. one Dutch soldier was wounded. They (the Dutch) Unexpected and unwelcome emotions played over immediately withdrew towards the town, to protect his face as he continued. “ . . . as I said, we tried to themselves, and we formed a fight line with whatever reach Tuzla. We were promised ‘safe passage’ by the we had left. We were suspicious of the Dutch Serbs, and we supposed that the U.N. was going to withdrawal. Many people thought they had made guarantee our evacuation, but it was another trick. a deal with the Serbs, though we couldn’t prove Every hundred meters was a trap. There were so anything. Then, the Dutch asked us to abandon our many dead on the road that you could walk over defensive positions and move closer to the center bodies without touching the ground. of town, so that we would be protected in the event 36

“Then the Serbs began to put chemicals in the river, where they knew we would have to drink as we made our way towards freedom. I don’t know what kind of poisons or nerve agents they used, but our people began to suffer from hallucinations. They got wild. Mass paranoia took hold of us. Brother was trying to escape from brother, each thinking that the other was his enemy. The Serbs sprayed us from the air with different chemicals, causing more insanity. We began to split up. “In the horse field at Konjevic Polj, many of our soldiers tried to surrender. But they were massacred. Perhaps two or three-thousand were cut down at that place. I was wounded in the leg by that time. It took me three days to reach Zepa. “After three weeks, Zepa also fell. Our commander, Rasim Delic, advised those who wanted to surrender to try to reach Serbia proper to turn themselves in, not to give themselves up to the Bosnian Serbs. This was for their own safety. He hoped that the attention of the foreign press and U.N. observers inside Yugoslavia would make things easier on his men. Some U.N. trucks did, in fact, come to take to safety whomever had remained behind from the women and children. “I didn’t want to surrender, so I stayed to fight on. I passed seventeen days in the hills outside Kladanj, sleeping in caves and eating the wild mushrooms that grew there. There were many of us scattered throughout those caves, unknown to each other. We prayed for Allah Almighty to send rain to make the mushrooms grow. He saved us in those hidden places with His endless mercy. “Finally, our president, Ali Izzetbegovich himself, sent five guides to bring us in. There were one-hundredeighty-two of us up there, in small groups and alone. We had to pass through Serb territory on the way in. They spotted us and fired at our group with bullets and grenades. But Allah Almighty sent a terrible storm. For seven days and nights it rained without stop, hiding us from the enemy. “Of the twenty-thousand men who left Srebrenica, at least half - over ten-thousand - died on the road to free territory. No one knows how many are missing. Finally, we stopped the Serbs at Tuzla.

“As for myself” Mihret finished his recollection, “I , stayed one night at Kladanj, then I went to find out what had happened to my family. We had been separated for two months by this time, and I was asking everywhere if there were any survivors from the women and children of Srebrenica. Finally, I reached the Bosnian military camp at Tuzla, where I was overjoyed to find my wife and son among the

They spotted us and fired at our group with bullets and grenades. But Allah Almighty sent a terrible storm.

refugees there. We were the most happy people in the world that time, when we first saw each other. “I am so grateful to Allah Almighty that He saved us, and protected us with His mercy.”

By Abdul Haqq Sazonoff


Coming to Islam Despite Muslims

Milan Sulc

I spent the first twenty-two years of my life in communist Czechoslovakia, truly convinced that God did not exist, my basis being the irrational nature of Christianity’s concept of God as Trinity. I still vividly remember my grandmother’s stories about God and my questioning her with a child’s logic. Well, Grandma, if God is One, how can He be three at the same time? And if Mary was His mother, who was God before He was born? I remember how mercilessly I teased my poor grandma, who could never provide me a satisfactory answer. How amused I was--in my mid-twenties and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota--when I discovered that one of my colleagues believed in God and prayed regularly. How incredulous that anyone intelligent enough to study for an MBA could be dumb enough to believe in God and the Hereafter! Many years later and through my interest in science all-of-a-sudden it dawned on me that even a brick wall cannot happen by accident. I realized if all of the natural laws in the universe fit together with such amazing precision they cannot be a product of chance, but must be created by God, and God must be only ONE. In what seems like an instant, without any period of uncertainty in-between, I went from certainty that there isn’t--and cannot be God--to certainty that there must be God. And I was sure that all religions had it wrong. I already knew this about Christianity, and my impression of Judaism was that it’s teachings did not reflect an All-Knowing God, and that He is only for Jews. From what little I knew about Islam, and even that was from the media, I assumed it had little in common with faith in God and submission to His will. My negative first impressions were only reinforced when I encountered my first Muslims. These were Lebanese and Syrian traders in Ivory Coast and Liberia, whom I met in the course of my business trips to West Africa. They were not very honest, they drank alcohol, they did not pray and they treated the Africans as slaves. When I suggested that all of this was inconsistent with God’s commandments, they agreed but weren’t worried as, “In Islam, one can have a good time and sin as much as one pleases. When you’re too old for sin, you only need to make Hajj to Mecca and all of your sins will be washed away.” I thought, “What a bunch of baloney, and the further from this religion, the better!” So, for a while, I was convinced that I had my own exclusive religion--just me, my faith in God and submission to His will--until I got into a discussion of mutual religious beliefs with a Lebanese student visiting Ivory Coast. He was surprised that I had not read the Qur`an, and suggested I should. When I asked him about some of the other “Muslims,” he told me not to judge Islam through their conduct because they were obviously ignorant. Quite impressed, I soon bought an English translation of the Qur`an, which I admit sat unopened on my bookshelf for about 3 years. My reluctance to read it stemmed from several earlier, unsuccessful attempts to read the Bible cover-to-cover, when I found too many contradictions and much of the material too dry. I assumed the Qur`an would be the same. But out of curiosity I did start reading it one day and by the time I had completed one-third, I was very impressed; it was all so very logical, with no contradictions. I commented to my wife how smart Muhammad (saw) must have been. After that, I suddenly came across some scientific facts which took my breath away, for I knew these were only discovered during the 20th century, yet mentioned in the 1400-year-old text of the Qur`an. It was instantly clear to me that the Qur`an could only come from God. With conviction that I was on the straight path, I never looked back.


My family and friends could not believe at first that I was serious about Islam, and for years they took issue with me being Muslim. They thought my conversion was a practical joke. They still can’t understand why I chose Islam. I still get asked, “Can’t you see Muslims are terrorists who kill innocent people? Can’t you see how badly they treat women? How they would like the whole world to return to the Middle Ages?” I’ve even been told point blank that if I wish to believe in God, OK, but why do I have to believe in “their Allah”--why not believe in “our God” instead? To my children, ages 23, 14, 12, and 10, Islam comes naturally. However, my wife of 27 years--who believes in one God, rejects the concept of Trinity and the divinity of Christ--nevertheless forcefully disagrees if I mention her beliefs are Islamic. She cannot distinguish the Islam defined by God in the Qur`an from the “Islam” practiced by the majority of Muslims. She has met many of my Muslim friends and considers them nice people, but nevertheless exceptions to the rule. The sad example set by many of Muslims today is that they fear people instead of Allah, and will readily compromise His commandments. I left Czechoslovakia for the West in 1968, just after the Russian occupation crushed the “Prague Spring.” By bribing a passport official with a valuable stamp collection, I was able to get my parents and brother to Switzerland about three months later, just a short while before the Czech government cancelled all permissions for private travel to the West. In 1969 I was granted financial assistance by the University of Minnesota and studied for five years in the US. My father died in Switzerland in 1972, and I don’t know if he ever found his way to God or not. He was previously a convinced atheist, but in his last years he apparently started wondering about whether God exists or not. According to my mother’s recollection, he did find his way. My brother, who was 17 when my father died, is unsure. He says that during my father’s last days, a Christian priest visited him in the hospital and they discussed religion a lot, but my father, being a logical person, could not accept the concept of the Trinity. My brother nearly laughed his head off when I declared my belief in God and he saw me reading the Qur`an for the first time. Now he and his wife, both former atheists, proclaim their belief in God. However, they still look at Islam askance, turned off by what they see of “Muslims”--many as hypocrites who do not respect God’s commandments and who are opposed to any intellectual discussion. My mother found her way to God some years back but has yet to read the Qur`an, for similar reasons as my brother and his wife. I continue to pray for them, asking God to guide them to His straight path.


A historic meeting between two Sufi Masters
20,000 People gather to celebrate the Prophet’s(s) birthday

To quote one of the current teachers of the Way...
“We have now wherever we go seen a new ‘phenomena’ erupting, if one can call it that, what I am elucidating towards is cultural barriers restricting our progression. Therefore, we see a Pakistani Masjid, a Greek Masjid, an American Masjid, an Indian Masjid and all are saying our Deen is calling towards the Oneness of Allah the Exalted. How can this be when we amongst ourselves are not one!” To those who were fortunate to hear this, it did not strike them as an amusing remark, but the teacher had illustrated the extent of the problem, which, it has to be conceded, is self-inflicted. I want to draw the attention of the reader towards a historic event, which occurred, on Sunday 3rd Rabi al-Awwal 1427AH, 2nd April 2006CE as two masters of the most Distinguished Naqshbandi Sufi Way met on the occasion of the celebration of advent of the noble Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in Blackburn. It is indeed a rarity to see religious personalities meet on one platform but there is a difference in the meeting of spiritual monarchs and those supposedly charged with The two Sufi Masters praying after lunch disseminating the faith. The reality of the matter is far more delicate than meets the eye but for some it the pertinent question is “How big is my Turban, is a bitter pill to sallow. is my Jubba more extravagant then my opposite number, is my walking stick sufficiently engraved The meeting was of our noble masters Mawlana ... let me check do I have more students then my Sayyidi Shaykh Hisham Kabbani an-Naqshbandi opposite number.” It is pleasing to learn Allah has and Khawajah Riaz Ahmad as-Sufi an-Naqshbandi enabled us to gain access to the rightful inheritors al-Aslami, Allah bless them with a long life and of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). On this point enable us to benefit from their knowledge and Shaykh Abd al-Khaliq ash-Shabrawi highlighted secrets. Those who witnessed this meeting were in his Maraatib ul-Nafs (The Degrees of the Soul) amazed as the masters raced to kiss the hand of the the illness of coveting prestige and leadership. This other, meeting with their hands bowed in humility blameworthy trait obstructs the road to leading the and through the immense love raising each other Real, Majestic is He. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) up by the arms and embracing. said: “It is sufficient evil for a son of Adam - except There was no ostentatious display of superiority, those whom Allah the Exalted protects - to have a plague which has hit those who have been people pointing their fingers at him, whether for charged with disseminating the faith. We find now, religious or worldly reasons.” unfortunately, to our personal detriment a great pre-occupation with ones exterior appearance as In addition, Sayyidunaa Ali (r) said: “Seek modesty, 40

not fame; raise not yourself, guard secrets and maintain silence. You will then be safe, gladdening the righteous, and spiting the corrupt.” Allah the Exalted expanded the breasts of students through the action of the wise masters to comprehend his prophetic edict. Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani highlighted to those present the secrets inherited by Khawajah Riaz Ahmad, imploring Allah the Exalted to increase him further. Continuing the narration, the young master hosted his guests personally serving the food and accompanying the elder master to perform the wudu. Those who accompanied Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani looked on in amazement as they became privy to the Prophetic command “Let him who believes in Allah, Majestic is He, and the Last Day honour his guest.” Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabanni served the food and bread to all the students who were present. After the food, the two masters sat and exchanged views about the problems facing the nation of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and what steps should be taken to alleviate. Both spoke with great insight and a sense of purpose. The students were further astounded at the level of agreement and how their respective comments complimented one another. We are told the Awliya meet in a regular spiritual congregation in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and this meeting is testament as the students present felt the masters had known each other well before their time. The level of love between the spiritual monarchs is hard to expand upon in words but it should suffice to learn that the Almighty clothes His saints with the traits of the Prophets (Allah be well pleased with them all). Of these traits, the predominant is ‘love’ (muhabbah), this is not love as understood by the layman but love of the Divine and love of His beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Some of the people gathering after the parade to hear the speeches in Hall No. 1 attended by over 20,000 people from all over the United Kingdom. Those who attended the celebrations felt Allah the Exalted had favoured them in allowing them to sit in the company of two Naqshbandi Masters and remember Him by reciting the Khatam ulKhawajaghan an-Naqshbandiyya, to invoke blessings on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace); to hear and receive their supplications. Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani enlightened the hearts of all in the seekers of the Truth, Exalted is He by reminding them of His Mercy and His Habib (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Without boring the reader, it is appropriate to conclude this narration by highlighting to all, least of all our fellow brethren, why the Muslims hold such celebrations and the significance of obtaining a link to a Sufi Master. We are told there were more angels present in the celebrations then people, enveloping all who attended in the Divine Mercy with which they were charged with to disseminate. Why is this one may be pondering, we are told Allah the Exalted looks upon the Earth and upon encountering the The meeting of the Mawlana Shaykh Hisham and heart of His saints averts calamities, sending down Khawajah Riaz Ahmad, masters of the Wisdom, has His Bounties onto man. Know and be certain to reach set the precedent in the modern era that the Sufi the Divine Presence one must obtain the company masters are united and through them the artificial of a Rightful Inheritor and profess gratitude in being barriers, which we have elected to erect, along exposed to the mentioned masters whose every lines of ethnicity and so on will be broken. The two deed mirror the noble Sunnah of the Messenger of masters were escorted to the beginning point of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). the Mawlid parade (a parade commemorating the advent of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him Shaqeel Hanif and give him peace) and professing undying love for him) to launch the celebrations which were 41

A Wise Young Muslim Boy
[Adapted into English from “Manâqib Abî Hanîfah” written by Imâm Muwaffaq Ibn Ahmad al-Makki (d. 568 Hijri). Dar al - Kitâb al-’Arabiy, Beirut, 1981/1401H.] Many years ago, during the time of the Tâbi’în (the generation of Muslims after the Sahâbah), Baghdâd was a great city of Islam. In fact, it was the capital of the Islamic Empire and, because of the great number of scholars who lived there; it was the centre of Islamic knowledge. One day, the ruler of Rome at the time sent an envoy to Baghdad with three challenges for the Muslims. When the messenger reached the city, he informed the King that he had three questions which he challenged the Muslims to answer. The King gathered together all the scholars of the city and the Roman messenger climbed upon a high platform and said,“I have come with three questions. If you answer them, then I will leave with you a great amount of wealth which I have brought from the king of Rome.” As for the questions, they were: “What was there before Allâh?” “In which direction does Allâh face?”“What is Allâh engaged in at this moment?” The great assembly of people were silent. (Can you think of answers to these questions?) In the midst of these brilliant scholars and students was a man looking on with his young son. “O my dear father! I will answer him and silence him!” said the youth. So the boy sought the permission of the King to give the answers and he was given the permission to do so. The Roman addressed the young boy and repeated his first question, “What was there before Allâh?” The boy asked, “Do you know how to count?” “Yes,” said the man. “Then count down from ten!” So the Roman counted down, “ten, nine, eight, ...” until he reached “one” and he stopped counting “But what comes before ‘one’?” asked the boy. “There is nothing before one- that is it!” said the man. “Well then, if there obviously is nothing before the arithmetic ‘one’, then how do you expect that there should be anything before the ‘One’ who is Absolute Truth, AllEternal, Everlasting the First, the Last, the Manifest, the Hidden?” Now the man was surprised by this direct answer which he could not dispute. So he asked,“Then tell me, in which direction is Allâh facing?” “Bring a candle and light it,” said the boy, “and tell me in which direction the flame is facing.” “But the flame is just light- it spreads in each of the four directions; North, South, East and West. It does not face any one direction only,” said the man in wonderment. The boy cried, “Then if this physical light spreads in all four directions such that you cannot tell me which way it faces, then what do you expect of the Nûr-us-Samâwâtiwal-’Ard: Allâh - the Light of the Heavens and the Earth!? Light upon Light, Allâh faces all directions at all times.” The Roman was stupified and astounded that here was a young child answering his challenges in such a way that he could not argue against the proofs. So, he desperately wanted to try his final question. But before doing so, the boy said, “Wait! You are the one who is asking the questions and I am the one who is giving the answer to these challenges. It is only fair that you should come down to where I am standing and that I should go up where you are right now, in order that the answers may be heard as clearly as the questions.” This seemed reasonable to the Roman, so he came down from where he was standing and the boy ascended the platform. Then the man repeated his final challenge,“Tell me, what is Allâh doing at this moment?” The boy proudly answered, “At this moment, when Allâh found upon this high platform a liar and mocker of Islam, He caused him to descend and brought him low. And as for the one who believed in the Oneness of Allâh, He raised him up and established the Truth. Every day He exercises (universal) power (Surah 55 ar-Rahmân, Verse 29).” The Roman had nothing to say except to leave and return back to his country, defeated. Meanwhile, this young boy grew up to become one of the most famous scholars of Islam. Allâh, the Exalted, blessed him with special wisdom and knowledge of the deen. His name was Abu Hanîfah (rahmatullâh ‘alayhi- Allâh have mercy on him) and he is known today as Imâm-e-A’dham, the Great Imâm and scholar of Islam.


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