Discourses in the Intellectual Traditions, Political Situation, and Social Ethics of Muslim Life Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:33:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hassan’s Tale | Part 1 – The Mountain is a Muslim Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 This story is a sequel to The Deal“, Dispatch Wizard“, and “Kill the Courier”. If you have not read those stories yet, please do so. See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

Hassan retrieved the black leather briefcase from storage and hit the road. Speeding along Highway 101 south, pegging the car's cruise control to just over the speed limit, he sipped green tea from a thermos and tried not to worry about what revelations Dr. Basim might have in store. He hoped Dr. Basim would be able to guide him. He had to find a way to get Sarkis to back off. Every conflict had a negotiating point.

His face felt swollen and sore, but the arm was the real problem. He could feel his pulse in the wound, throbbing with every heartbeat. He adjusted his seatbelt so that he could cradle his injured arm in it, using it like a sling.

He was glad that Muḥammad had found his father unharmed. Inshā'Allāh the man would get treatment and recover his sense of self. What a frightening thing it must be not to be able to think clearly; not to be able to distinguish the real world from one's inner nightmares. The very thought made Hassan shudder. subḥānAllāh. Good health was such a gift, but everyone took it for granted until it was lost.

He wondered if Muḥammad would be able to forgive his father. Was there anything harder in life than truly forgiving someone who had hurt you badly?

Hassan believed in his heart that forgiveness was the key to every happiness. It opened your lungs so you could breathe, and released your heart like a bird from a cage. Resentment, on the other hand, tightened your chest and narrowed your vision. It made your world smaller, and shrunk your capacity to love.

Though he knew this, and believed it, he still could not forgive Sarkis. The best he could do was to walk away. Reach accommodation of some sort, and let the man live his perverted, twisted life. Leave it to Allāh to end Sarkis' life when his qadar called.

He took 152 east through the lightly forested foothills. The hills were dark now, silhouetted against the purple sky. Merging onto Interstate 5 south, he popped a disc into the CD player. It was a homemade compilation of Islamic nasheeds given to him by Fatimah, his Tuesday night class assistant - not my assistant anymore, he remembered. The class is hers now. Hamza Robertson's haunting voice flowed from the player, singing:

I gave my salaams to the mountain
and I drank from the mountain stream;
and I walked upon its surface
and it all felt like a dream;
And this mountain it is a Muslim…

Hassan looked up at the outline of the dark mountains on his right, marching westward like an army on the move. Muslims, all of them. The orange groves dotting the mountain slopes, the wisps of cloud in the night sky, the half-moon shining in the east like a heavenly child about to be born… How strange to think that all these things were Muslim in their nature – they obeyed the natural laws laid down by Allāh, with no thought and no complaint – and yet so many of the people who lived upon this earth, and survived only by means of these natural elements, did not believe.

Traffic was light. He did his best to make sure he was not followed, pulling off the freeway once at the Crow's Nest and watching the cars pass, and another time at a truck stop, where he bought a tuna salad sandwich, a small pack of cookies, and a bottle of ibuprofen. He downed four of the painkillers along with his meal, then entered the highway heading in the wrong direction – north. One exit down the road he pulled off, circled around and resumed his southward trip. Such precautions were probably not necessary, since it would be easy to spot a tail on these straight stretches of I-5; but there was no harm in being safe.

The Tejon pass over the Tehachapi Mountains was dusted with snow. The mountains themselves were invisible in the dark, but the patches of snow shone with reflected moonlight and seemed to hang in the sky, luminous and strange. It was always queer to see snow in California, and it made Hassan feel as if he had been suddenly transported back to Lebanon. It was not a good feeling.

This was only his fourth time returning to Los Angeles in the last sixteen years. The oversized, glittering city held many good memories, and some that were so terrible they overshadowed everything else. Driving down the mountain into L.A. felt like sinking into a great prison; a locked-up corner of his mind that he did not wish to revisit.

He made no stops. No detour to the old house, no pass by his old school or dojo. By 7am, as the sun rose in the east like a great yellow fist, Hassan was ringing Dr. Basim's doorbell, messenger bag and briefcase in hand.

Dr. Basim answered the door and greeted Hassan with a warm hug and a handshake. There was something about his appearance – with his short stature, bald head fringed with curly white hair, and portly figure – that always reminded Hassan of a penguin. The blue jean shorts and preppy sweater vest only added to the comic effect.

Dr. Basim was not a man to be underestimated, however. He had once been the deputy director of the Lebanese intelligence services – the only Muslim to hold such a high rank before the civil war – and was now dean of the UCLA school of business. He was also an avid pottery collector who travelled all over the world collecting antique pieces. And he was the man who had helped Hassan set up his offshore corporation several years ago, as a means of concealing his wealth and identity.

Hassan had sometimes wondered if Dr. Basim was a CIA agent or asset, using the pottery thing as a cover. Basim played his cards close to his vest.

He also was not much of a Muslim. He drank wine, did not pray, and liked to play poker at the local Indian casino on the weekends. None of this was secret; Basim was quite open about his predilections, and liked to boast about the big game he'd won, or the bluff he'd pulled off.

But he'd been a lifelong friend of Hassan's father, and had known Hassan's assumed identity for years. He was like a second father, and Hassan trusted him implicitly.

Pulling away from the hug, Dr. Basim noticed Hassan's cheek. “Shoo hatha, ibni?” he asked. “What happened?”

“I'll tell you later, Ammu” Hassan said, using the Arabic word for 'paternal uncle'. “Do you have any coffee?”

“Of course.” Basim ushered him in the house. “Tafaddal.”

The large, Spanish-style house was stunningly decorated with some of the antique vases and urns that Dr. Basim had collected around the world. Hassan knew they must be worth a fortune, though it did seem to him that there were fewer pieces on display than the last time he'd been here. Maybe Dr. Basim had put the rest in storage for safekeeping.

Dr. Basim led Hassan to the breakfast nook in the kitchen. Morning light streamed through the window. A morning dove called softly outside, and a crow answered. Someone slammed a door and one of Basim's dogs – he had two German Shepherds – barked from the backyard.

Hassan had spent many afternoons in this kitchen with Motaz, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches, or taking chess lessons from Dr. Basim.

“Sit,” Basim he said. “I'll bring you coffee and breakfast. You must be hungry.”

“I have to admit, that sounds good.” Hassan said. Not a very Arab response, he knew – he was required by tradition to insist that Dr. Basim not trouble himself, at which point Basim would override his objections – but, having been raised in the USA, Hassan tended to dispense with such conventions.

“Nisreen went to an early class at the gym,” said Basim. “Jumba, Zimba, something like that. Some kind of dance.”

“How are Motaz and Dalya?” Hassan inquired. He sat at the small table and set the briefcase and messenger bag carefully at his feet.

There had been a time in Hassan's childhood when he and Motaz had been great friends. They had learned to skateboard together, played stickball in the street, and defended each other from bullies.

Though Hassan's family was Christian and Motaz' was Muslim, and though Lebanon was embroiled in a bloody civil war between the two faiths, neither Hassan nor Motaz cared about that. Their fathers were childhood friends, and Hassan's father was utterly ecumenical in his beliefs. As Hassan later learned, his father's entire life had been dedicated to evangelizing the idea of racial and religious harmony in Lebanon.

As Hassan became increasingly involved in his martial arts and weapons training, however, he and Motaz drifted apart. Then everything shattered, with the deaths of Hassan's mother, father and brother striking in succession like falling bombs. Hassan did not see his friend again until many years later, and by then Motaz had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the last several years his health had deteriorated rapidly. He was now confined to a wheelchair.

Ironically, Hassan was Muslim by that time, while Motaz considered himself an agnostic. Dr. Basim and Tant Nisreen were not practicing Muslims and had never taught Motaz and Dalya even the basics of Islam. As for Dalya, she started a limo business, became wealthy, and joined the Church of Scientology. Lost children in the city of Lost Angels. To lose your health was bad enough, but to lose Islam on top of it… he felt so sad for Motaz.

“You know how it is,” said Dr. Basim as he began pulling breakfast ingredients out of the refrigerator. “Motaz is having a hard time. He's back at the rehab center. Dalya's business is thriving. She has twenty limos now. She and her boyfriend bought a new house.”

Hassan didn't know what to say. Motaz's illness was progressive and incurable. Hassan had not been back to see him as often as he should and he felt guilty about that. In part he had not visited because of the distance. There was also his need to minimize connections with the past – it was safest for everyone that way. And he had to admit that it made him deeply uncomfortable to see his friend -  who was almost exactly the same age as Hassan – slouched over in a wheelchair, his hair entirely white, and his hands trembling with palsy. It was depressing. Hassan knew that was a weak excuse. He constantly berated himself over it.

“I have something for you,” Basim said. He disappeared through the side door into the garage, and returned a moment later with a letter-sized wooden frame, which he handed to Hassan.

“I was going through some old boxes, throwing things out, and I found it,” said Basim.

It was a poem, hand-printed on what looked like cotton paper, and lovingly framed. Even if it had not been personally signed at the bottom, Hassan would have recognized his father's poetry anywhere:

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Debt Free Muslims Podcast Episode 8 – Talking Economics, Warlords, and Riba with Dr. Jerry Hionis Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:58:38 +0000

Direct download of mp3

Debt Free Muslim Podcast Episode 8

This episode is brought to you by – Because Muslims matter.

Jerry Hionis holds a PhD from Temple University located in Philadelphia, PA. His primary research is in conflict theory with an emphasis on civil conflicts and Warlord-like competition. Other research interests include game theory, economic development, Islamic economic theory and history, political theory and African economics. He is also a professor at Temple University.

In this podcast we discuss:

  • How Dr. Jerry Hionis got into his field of Economics
  • How does Economics affect us individually?
  • Information on Islamic microeconomics
  • The differences between economics and personal finance
  • Economics of Warlords and conflicts
  • The history economics of interest and usury in Judeo-Christian and Islam
  • The types of riba/usury
  • The history of Islamic economics

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From Kansas to Palestine, Hatred and Pie Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:42:30 +0000 So a 73 year old KKK member has just gone on a shooting spree in Kansas, killing three people.  He specifically targeted people of the Jewish faith.  For every Muslim who condemns the killings and extends their sympathies to the Jewish community, expect to be asked, “But what about Palestine?” Because now that the shooting has stopped, let the shame grenading begin.

This kind of thing happens pretty much any time a Muslim expresses sympathy or concern for death or oppression of anyone other than Muslims.

Ice cream vs Cake“You want us to pray for Boston? How can you condemn the Boston Bombers but not Obama? He's killed hundreds of thousands more than they have!”

“I should care if Buddhists are oppressed in Tibet? Yeah, look what they're doing in Burma! They're burning Muslims alive!”

“Why are you making all this fuss about animals  being raped in European brothels? Don't you care what they're doing to your Muslim sisters?  Are animal rights more important than women's rights?”

When Shaykh Omar Suleiman expressed condolences and support of the Jewish community, suggesting that Muslims in the US do the same- it took less than four hours for someone to pull the pin on a classic shame grenade and lob it in his general direction.

OmarSulaiman Tweet

The short answer is no, of course they don't.  But this isn't about Muslims or Jews or Palestine, this is about justice, and sympathy.  And pie.

Mmmm, pie

You know pie? Warm, flaky crust, sweet gooey center? Everyone loves pie.  Some people though, think there's not enough pie for everyone, and that's what we call a scarcity mindset.  People with scarcity mindsets spend unnecessary time and energy trying to defend their pie from others, because as far as they're concerned, there are 6.2 billion people in this world and only one tasty piece of Mom's Own Ole Fashioned Justice and Sympathy Pie.

In a world with never enough, they're trying to do their part to make sure Muslims get a fair share of Justice and Sympathy Pie.  Here's the thing though- everyone deserves a piece of pie, and Allāh made enough to go around. In fact, He commanded us to share the Justice and Sympathy (pie) with everyone, regardless of their religion.  Islam is not a religion of scarcity, it is a message of abundance.

USA vs Syria

Too busy to pray for Syrian Muslims- because there's only one piece of Prayer Pie, and you're giving it US Muslims instead? Wow, Muslims even fight each other for pie!

An abundance mindset says that Allāh made enough Justice and Sympathy pie to go around, and we can share it with people of all religions without insinuating that Muslims don't deserve any or taking away from anyone else's fair share.  But then, the people targeted in the Kansas shooting were Jewish, and if our interfaith relationship were on Facebook, we'd say it's complicated

Because Palestine

We all like a good story, but we only like the simple ones.  We like  good vs evil, light vs dark, hobbits vs trolls narratives that fit neatly into little boxes so we know who to root for and how it should end.  The media knows this, and so pro-Zionist media outlets have woven a fairytale of good people trying to go home and the freedom-hating Muslims who hate them.

It's a narrative that has served their interests well, and given how little exposure most Americans have to unbiased international media coverage, it's no surprise that many of them believe it.  That sad thing is, many Muslims believe it too, and we turn Us vs. Them into Them vs. Us, heaping all Jews- of all races, nationalities, and political inclinations- into one big pile of evil.  And then, we pour scorn on it.

The Red Pill or The Blue Pill?

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.11.33 PM

Annual Israeli flag burning for Purim. And you thought all they had was Hanukkah! if I told you that Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing- and that one is a religion, but the other is a nationalist identity?

What if I told you that not every Jew was Zionist, and that many very orthodox and very bearded Jewish men are flag-burningly angry about Israel's very existence?

What if I told you that not every Israeli was pro-occupation, and many face jail time and persecution for refusing to serve in the occupation?

What if I told you that hating all Jews for the evil actions of Zionists puts you in the same category of people who hate all Muslims for the evil actions of Muslim terrorists?

There are some people who would be shocked—shocked I say!—to find out that not every Muslim is a terrorist, and that Islam is a religion, but terrorism is a political tactic used by immoral people of all religions.

You could tell them that not every orthodox Muslim is an extremist, and that lots of very orthodox, very bearded Muslims are hopping mad about Muslim-led evils that have no basis in Islam.

You could go blue in the face trying to tell them that you can't profile, hate, and discriminate against the entire Muslim community just because we've got loonies on our fringes too.  But they might not believe it, the same way you might read all of this and still believe that Jews in general deserve the type of spite that some Muslims feel is justified by the morally reprehensible occupation of Palestine.

Palestine is a prisoner of Zionism, not Judaism.  The rape, killing, torture, and starvation there is a function of politics more so than religion- and while religion is at the foundation of Zionism, it's haphazardly tacked on what is, essentially, a power grab.  While some  Jews are vehemently opposed to Israel's very existence, others carve up Palestinian homes to create the casinos, night clubs, and nude beaches that attract international tourists to the errrr.. Holy Land.  Both groups are Jewish; only one group is Zionist.

No one's calling the shooter a terrorist- because crazy people who kill people are only terrorists if they're Muslim—but just because other people have double standards doesn't mean it's OK for Muslims to have them too.  So let's be fair, because everyone deserves their piece of Sympathy and Justice pie.

Now click your heels three times



“'O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allāh, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allāh is nearer unto both (them ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allāh is ever Informed of what ye do. Surah An-Nisa (4:135)

Now, back to Kansas.  In case you're wondering what the connection between Justice and Jew-hating is here, think of this; a man shot and killed innocent people.  Justice dictates that he be tried and punished, and the victims consoled, compensated, and cared for.  If your opinion on what the victims are entitled to changes if they're not Muslim, then you're missing the plot.


“And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind”

When Allāh revealed this verse in Surah Al-Anbiya, verse 107, he said mercy to mankind- not mercy to Muslims only.  The Message of the Prophet Muḥammad—of compassion, of gentleness, of justice—is for everyone.

If yesterday in Kansas, Frazier Cross went hunting for Muslims, you'd be shouting for justice- but  justice isn't only for Muslims.  A Jewish victim deserves as much sympathy and compassion as a Muslim does, and showing the Jewish community support for their loss doesn't mean you're two-timing the Muslim community.  It means you are being a good global neighbor— just as Allāh told you to be.

“Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day, let him say what is righteous or keep silent. Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day, let him be kind to his neighbor. And whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day, let him be generous to his guest.”

- Prophet Muḥammad (PBUH), narrated by Abu Hurayrah  [Sahih Muslim]

Is there tension between the Muslim and Jewish community because of what Zionists—both Jewish and Christian— are doing to Palestine? Absolutely.  But should that stop us from taking care of our Jewish neighbors?  Let's ask Allāh!


Allāh does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allāh loves the doers of justice.”  The Qur'an, Surah 60, verse 8

If you're still not sure if you agree with me, or if you think that perhaps, you'd like a more… orthodox opinion on what a Muslim should do when a Jewish neighbor dies, here you go:

A funeral passed by the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings be upon him, and he stood up. It was said to him, “It is a Jew.” So the Prophet said, “Was he not a soul?”  Source: Sahih Bukhāri 1250, Sahih Muslim 961

If you think you know better than God, His Messenger, or common sense, then by all means- continue to believe that all Jews deserve the full scorn earned by Zionism.  If you think that Allāh is somehow limited in His Mercy, Compassion, or Omnipotence in aiding those in pain or in need, then go ahead and pray for only one group of people, since you think Allāh can't provide enough Justice and Sympathy pie to go around.  

If you realize though, that no soul should bear the burden of another, and that you can't hate all Jews any more than they should hate all Muslims, then please follow Omar Suleiman's very sage advice, and contact your local Jewish community center today.  Hate is a vicious cycle—from one Abrahamic faith to another—and only by breaking the cycle and extending a gesture of support to our Jewish neighbors can we begin to exemplify what being Muslim really means.

I fully condemn, in the harshest of words possible on a respectable public blog—the occupation of Palestine and the oppression, bombing and murder of Muslims around the world by people of ALL religions, or the lack thereof.  It's sad I have to write this, but I'm sure someone's going to skim through here, scroll to comments section  and start doing exactly what I am advocating against—which is to say that by having sympathy for anyone who is not Muslim, I do not have sympathy for Muslims; or that feeling sorry for a Jew after all they've done to Muslims is to invalidate the massive scale of evil in Palestine.  So I'm going to say it again, but this time in bullets points so you don't get to go TLDR on me.

  • Justice is for everyone, regardless of their religion.
  • Not all Jews are Zionists, some are  neighbors and  neighbors have rights upon you.
  • Zionism is morally reprehensible and evil and bad and bleepity bleep. But killing innocent people is wrong too.  Regardless of whether they're Muslim, even if they're Jewish.
  • Allāh made enough pie to go around, so stop getting defensive when other people get a piece.
  • There are so many places in the world where Muslims are hurting that it's not possible for me to mention all of them here in one article.  If I did not mention your country, please do not assume I have given another country your piece of Sympathy pie.
  • No one can address the whole world  and its world of evils in one tweet, article, book or even lifetime, so please don't expect any writer, tweeter, or human to address every possible evil all in one go.  So please don't listen to a talk on drone strike deaths in Pakistan and get mad because they didn't talk about Yemen.
  • If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
  • Whoever kills someone, it's as if he has slayed all of humanity.


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“Dad, I’m Not Going to Medical School” – Real Talk with our Parents Mon, 14 Apr 2014 05:42:54 +0000 The Story

It had been a few days since Salman thought about telling his parents. He had received a full scholarship from Columbia University to study journalism, a subject he was insanely passionate about and which had already given him a jump start in a career. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, wrote numerous editorials for the town paper, and had a published online magazine. Though he knew he could be extremely successful as a journalist, Salman's parents were very set on sending their son off to medical school.  The problem was that Salman had absolutely no interest in pursuing a career in medicine.

In that vein, he brought the Columbia acceptance letter to his parents and told them what he really wanted to do. Without flinching, his mother reminded him about how the community saw their family, what their relatives' expectations were, and how, as his parents, they knew better than Salman what was good for his future. Even though his education would be free with Columbia, his parents wanted him to take out student loans to pursue a medical career – yet another huge reason Salman shied away from medicine.  They added that he was free to pursue any career he wanted after becoming a radiologist. A short debate led to an argument, and Salman's mother finally said that if he pursued the journalism path, she would never speak to him again. Standing at the crossroads of a major life decision, Salman went into his room bewildered and lost as to what would come next.

Trampled Ambitions


surah17“Say: Everyone works according to their niche, and your Lord knows best who is on the right path.” (17:84)

The above situation is a fictitious representation of very real events that many of us have experienced or know of others who have. We are all created with various pursuits, abilities, and talents. Failure to understand that leads to a failure of understanding our existence. In the verse above, Allāh clearly highlights that every soul is unique in what it offers the ummah in its expertise and service. All humans cannot be medical doctors, lawyers, and engineers. Parents must understand this. This can also lead to a better understanding of what type of people could be suitable for each other in marriage (a topic for another time).

When speaking with young Muslims who are beginning their lives in college or the workforce, and have the opportunity to explore different careers, many have expressed how their dreams are crushed when their parents limit their career paths. The hypocrisy is that many of our elders came to this country for one common reason: opportunity. When that same spirit of choice is not extended to their offspring, an unfair double standard is created within the community.
At the same time, many youth experience a heavy load of insults and criticism for pursuing careers that don't come with a high-salary or fall within their parents' recommendations. I am sure we all know someone that can relate to Salman. The constant belittlement of one's aspirations or choices by their parents leads to feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, lack of self-confidence, and at times even depression. When a child is emotionally invested in their parents, of course their disappointments will only further that child's sadness. Now let us talk about the reality of parental relations, as Salman may end up throwing out his career while being “guilt-tripped.”

Relationships are a 2-Way Street

“Whoever does not show mercy to our young and revere our elders is not of us.”Tirmidhi, Book 27, Hadith 2046

Notice in the above hadith how the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) teaches the ummah that respect towards elders and mercy towards the young is a two-way street. It is a reciprocal equation to act upon. Any and all relationships in life require both parties to put forth an effort for them to succeed. The parent/child relationship is one of those as well. Though my goal is not to detail those rights one by one, it is an important point to remember while reading the rest of this post. Growing up within the Muslim community, many youth are told over and over again that parents are to be adhered to unconditionally, since all of their choices are meant to be good for the child. Although initially it is easy to dictate such rules to a child since they have not reached an age where they can reason, many parents find themselves in a bind as the child gets older. Emotional blackmail of religious texts starts to become a norm in some families, to the extent that the child's life choices of marriage, career, college, what car to buy, etc. are all held at ransom. Just as our deen lays down certain rights to be shown to our parents, it does the same for children.

The Reality of 17:23 – Birr al-Waalidayn


“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and to exercise excellence with your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your life, then do not say so much as “uff” to them nor repel them. Rather, speak to them with nobility.” (17:23)

Islam takes the concept of respecting one's parents very seriously. The Qur'an discusses the worship of Allāh and showing respect to one's parents as dual concepts which directly intertwine in the religion.

Traditionally, when a parent wants to remind a child about the rights they have over them, āyah 23 of Surah 17 is referenced. Every child has probably heard: “be good to your parents.” Though that is correct, it is important to look at what comes after: “when one or both of them reach a senile age.”

Think about this, it is not as common for an 18-year-old to have parents who have reached a senile age. The reality is that this āyah is not intended for a teenager or child in their early 20s necessarily. Parents usually reach old age when the child is more established in his or her life, with a job, family of their own, and a house. So the reality is that the same parents who are trying to advise their young, need to change the audience of this āyah to themselves, if their own parents are still alive. The audience is not unestablished youth; rather it is established men and women whose parents are reaching old age.


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Quebec’s Ruling Party Suffers Crushing Defeat – Despite the Anti-Muslim Campaign Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 The lunacy which has dominated the discourse coming out of Quebec over the last year has finally been countered with a dose of sanity. In a historic vote this Monday, the ruling Parti Québécois (PQ) suffered a major defeat after just 19 months of taking office. Premier Pauline Marois organized an ugly campaign which centered on identity politics and secession from Canada. Her gross miscalculations resulted in a humiliating loss and allowed the federalist Liberal party to form a majority government in the Francophone province.

The madness which characterized PQ's odious agenda is best exemplified with their proposed secular 'Charter of Values'. The notorious document, an affront to Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, proposed banning all public employees from wearing religious symbols: hijabs, turban, skullcaps – anything 'conspicuous'. This Charter paved way to a discourse which was perhaps the most jaw dropping display of xenophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric in recent history.

It become obvious quite soon that PQ's main target were Muslims; other ethnic groups appeared to be collateral damage that got thrown in to maintain consistency in the bigotry. PQ candidate Jean Carriere posted a picture with the title 'F–k Islam' on his Facebook page – this resulted in him being expelled from the race. Another candidate, Louise Mailloux, repeatedly claimed that kosher and halal products are a scam setup by imām and Rabbis to help fund religious wars. Despite the pressure, Premier Marois stood by her candidate and said she respected her point of view. André Beaudoin, also a PQ candidate, expressed his fear that Muslim prayer could become a drain on the economy.

The abominable rhetoric continued with the likes of Janette Bertrand; a veteran activist who had been campaigning alongside Marois. She remarked last fall the she would not want to be treated by a doctor wearing a hijab because she feared getting substandard care. “I would be afraid … in her religion, women are not given the same care as men, and the elderly are allowed to die sooner”. More recently, Bertrand elucidated her fears by citing an example of Muslim men who don't swim in the same pool as women in her condo – what if they organized to pay for separate sessions, she wondered hysterically. If these are public and documented cases of blatant racism, one can only image how bad the domestic undocumented cases might have been.

During the campaign, Ms. Marois further clarified that implementing her Charter would mean having to fire public employees who refused to remove their religious symbols. Hijab wearing day care workers, for example, would have to find new professions. She assured, however, that “we will help her reorient herself”. With a humiliating defeat where she lost her own electorate, it seems that Ms. Marois is the one who will have some reorienting to do.

Another interesting aspect of Parti Québécois campaign was the 'unprecedented' move to run several Arab candidates. These were mainly secular women of North African descent and staunch supporters of the Charter. The plan was to try to woo Arab support for the Charter and to make a point that even these Arab women have ditched the hijab. The plan backfired terribly as all four candidates lost their respective ridings. Even these poor attempts at tokenism failed to work for the Marois government.

PQ's strategy from the start had been to play identity politics and capitalize on the xenophobic tendencies of their constituency. While the Charter did gain significant support when first introduced, it was the decision to re-ignite the sovereignty debate that lead to their final doom. The referendum for secession from Canada was made into a campaign issue and then came the tirade of nonsensical plans for an independent Quebec. It seems that the astounding defeat of the Bloc Québécois in the federal elections three years ago wasn't clear enough for the PQ. This vote send's a clear message to Quebec nationalists:  the 70's are over, sovereignty isn't happening, this ain't Crimea – get over it.

Re-election of the Liberal party with a majority should serve as much needed relief for Quebec's ethnic minorities. With the state-sponsored discrimination proposed by Charter scrapped away, people can finally have a good night's rest. It is hoped that a decline in political support for anti-Muslim bigotry will lead to toning down of the rhetoric in mainstream circles. The results of the election should also serve as a reminder that the image of Quebecers as an intolerant people is need of review. Racism and bigotry have by no means been wiped away; but the fact that thousands across the province stood up for minority rights is a positive sign by any standards.

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Salvific Exclusivity – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi Fri, 11 Apr 2014 05:52:53 +0000 Lecture by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi |  Transcript by Hayley B.

The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi's lecture “Salafivic Exclusivity.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Thank you very much. It's very daunting to come on stage after Tariq Ramadan, but I'll try and do what I can.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the social contract, on the very last pages of his work, he wrote and I quote directly ”Those who distinguish between civil and theological intolerance are mistaken in my opinion. Those two types of intolerance are inseparable. It is impossible to live in peace with those one believes to be damned. To love them would be to hate the God who punishes them. It is absolutely necessary to either reclaim them or torment them. Whenever theological intolerance is allowed, it is impossible for it not to have some civil effect.” End quote.

Now one thing that these quotes prove is that the issue of salvation is not merely a theoretical one. Rather, it goes to the very core of a person's values, of how you will define and treat the other. Therefore, this topic has philosophical, theological, civil, moral and political ramifications.

However, we can't discuss all of them in any one lecture and I'm coming to the podium primarily as a theologian or a theologian in training. So I will have to approach this issue purely from the theological dimension. My talk will be divided into two sections, followed by a conclusion. In the first section, I will point out the positions of the main theological movements of our religion Islam, regarding salvation, and the primary Qur'anic evidences that they use to justify that position. In the second section, I will examine specific evidences that some modern reformists have used to argue against the classical understanding of salvific inclusivity for salvific exclusivity. In my conclusion I will offer some personal comments on the issue.

The Theological Positions of Islam on Salvific Inclusivity Versus Exclusivity:

It shall come as not great surprise to anybody familiar with the Islamic tradition that every single systematic theology that was developed in classical and medieval Islam viewed the religion of Islam as being the sole path to God. And it's not just Muslims, we are talking of a time when pretty much every religion viewed itself in a similar manner. In fact, far from allowing salvation outside of the religion, the discussion was between the sects and whether other sects would be saved or not. By and large the Mu'tazilites made takfir of the Ash'arites, the Ash'arites made takfir of the Hanbalites. All of them made takfir of Falasifa and the Batinites, so on and so forth.

But intra-Muslim politics does not concern us here. The fact of the matter is that religious communities not belonging to Islam, the true other in our vernacular, were assumed to be outside the grace of God and in need of God's guidance. As far as I have read and researched—and I have read plenty of works of theology of all of these movements that we are going to talk about—the possibility of finding salvation in another religion while consciously and knowingly rejecting Islam was simply never even seriously entertained by any theologian or any scholar of any of the established schools of theology in the pre-modern era.

The main theological issue that concerned classical and medieval theologians was not the salvific potential of other faiths -the absence of which was simply taken as a given- but rather the fate of those who had never heard of Islam or exposed to falsified teachings. With regards to those who had never heard of Islam, the common term tablīgh al risāla. Did they get tablīgh al risāla or not? The rationalists inclined Mu'tazilites along with the Mataridis. They general gave quite a lot of weight to the human intellect. Hence they believed that a person would be legally responsible “mukallaf” to reject idolatry and affirm a monotheistic vision of God, even if no revelation exists. Failure to do so warranted eternal punishment - damnation.

Because, the rational mind according to the Mu'tazilites could potentially lead to monotheism. The Ash'arites on the other hand, their typical reaction was against the Mu'tazilites and all of their doctrines, they claimed that anybody who had not heard of the message of Islam would be forgiven, even if they were pagans and idolaters. This was based on their theological premise that the human mind independent of revelation cannot judge good and evil.

The tripartite categorization of Abu Hamid al-Gazali best illustrates this point. He categorizes mankind into basically three categories.

Number one: people who have never heard of the message of Islam and who live in far away lands such as the Romans. These will be forgiven unconditionally.

Number two: people who have been exposed to a distorted understanding of Islam and have no recourse to authentic information. These too will be forgiven.

The third category are those who have heard of Islam because they live in the neighboring cities and the neighboring communities around darul Islam. And they know the reality of Islam and they have access to authentic Islamic knowledge. These, according to al-Gazali, have no hope of salvation.

The Hanbalite position manifested in the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah, was that the intellect could discern right from wrong. And thus a saying, rational mind should logically come to the conclusion that there is an all-perfect God. Monotheism is logical.

However Ibn Taymiyyah argued, in God's infinite mercy and justice, God's punishment would not be meted-out to any who had been exposed to a messenger. In other words, even if logically you come to the conclusion that there is a God, until God tells you so, he is not going to punish you if you don't.

Ibn Taymiyyah based this on many verses in the Qur'an such as Surat Al-Isra;15 “We are not going to punish until we send a messenger”. So according to Ibn Taymiyyah those who didn't receive a message or received a distorted version of the message, then neither are automatically forgiven nor automatically punished. Rather they shall be tested on judgement day with a special test. In any case, from this spectrum what we see is that the main issue is whether God might possibly forgive any who have not been exposed to the teachings of Islam.

The underlying assumption for all of these traditions is that Islam is the only path to God and anyone who consciously chooses other than Islam will simply not have it accepted on the day of judgement.

The Books of Fiqh

Pretty much the number one example that all four Sunni schools of law mention in their books of fiqh, is that if a Muslim claims that he is of another faith, or a Muslim claims that a person of another religion is morally in the acceptable regionthat it is permissible to be a Christian or a Jew—this would in fact count for grounds for apostasy.

In other words, belief in the validity of a religious system was seen quite sincerely and casually as a rejection of Islam and this is unanimous across the four Sunni schools and I'm not an expert in the Shi'a school of law but I'm pretty sure that they would also say something similar. The question arises as to why there was so much unanimity with regard to this principle. I honestly think it is unfair, and honestly not very academic to dismiss this overwhelming predominant position because of, let's say, calling it a literalist tendency. The Mu'tazilites are not literalist. Or to accuse all of these theologians of having a fear of the other. Or having selfish motives of wanting God's mercy on themselves and not wanting on others.

I honestly believe that those theologians and scholars were better individuals than we are and their motives were more pure than our own. They were brave enough to discuss many controversies, including God and the nature of God. And yet amazingly this issue of the salvific potential of other religions was unanimously agreed upon by all of them. And the reason for this appears to be that there were numerous clear and explicit Qur'anic evidences. So clear, in fact, that despite the fact that these groups couldn't agree about the nature of God, they could agree that the only path to God was this religion of Islam. Islam with a capital “I” as we are going to come to. The number of evidences that are quoted in works of theology and especially in books of tafsir.

The number of evidences are so numerous that honestly, many doctoral dissertations could be written on specific individuals. And what I've done for the sake of brevity, is to categorize these evidences under categories. Numbers of verses underneath each category and I'll emphasize the category with some examples of the verses and in fact for every category that I mention, I'll mention only four.

The First Category:

There are literally dozens if not hundreds of verses that support these categories. The first category, verses that suggest the religion of Islam is the only acceptable religion to God. We have heard such verses for the last day and a half.

And of these verses Professor Ramadan quoted them and other speakers as well, “The only religion in the eyes of God is Islam. Whoever who seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him and in the hereafter he shall be of those who are lost”.

Many times we neglect two factors about these verses.

Number one: the context.

Number two: the word itself.

The context: the context of these verses, both of them occur in chapter three. And they discuss chapter three, 'Ali 'Imrān. It discusses Jews and Christians. It criticizes them for their deviations and praises them for their good. In the context of an ahlul kitāb discussion, when God is saying “I am only going to accept Islam”.

In fact, in one of the verses right after this, God says in 3:35 “innad-deena 'indaAllahil-islām” - The religion in the eyes of God is Islam and the only reason that the people of the book differed was because of jealousy. In other words right after saying the only religion is Islam, God criticizes ahlul kitāb. Similarly, in the verse before this, God mentions some of the deviations of the Jews and Christians. These verses have to be looked at the context of where they occur. Additionally, the word itself is a proper noun. The connotation that al-Islam here refers to some type of verbal submission to God actually goes against—in my humble opinion also the opinion of pretty much all of the commentaries of the Qur'an—it goes against the word form.

God is not saying that the religion in the eyes of God is submission - Islam. He is saying “al-Islam” which is alif lam “The Islam” and that only occurs in a proper noun. You cannot have alif lam before a verb. Alif lam means it's a noun. So what is being talked about is a specific, has been called a refined understanding of Islam.

Additionally, there are many other verses which don't have it as explicit, but still have a very clear-cut message, that people have to believe in the message as it exists. In Surah Baqarah:137 once again the verse is directed to Jews and Christians and then it says “So if they believe as you have believed then they shall be guided, but if they turn away they are left in confusion”.

So it's quite clear that the context of the verses has to be taken into account. You cannot cut and paste phrases of the Qur'an and ignore where these phrases occur.

The first was that Islam is the only acceptable religion, there are many verses there.

The Second Category:

The second category of verses are those that suggest a rejection of the prophethood of Muḥammad is tantamount to rejection of God. The concept of prophesy is linked to belief and submission to God. One of the central tenants of the Qur'an is that belief in all the prophets of God is a fundamental precondition or at least co-condition, with believing in God.

In more than one verse, Muslims are told we don't make any distinction between the prophets. In over fifty verses, various people throughout history have been criticized because of rejecting the prophets

54:9 “kaththabat qablahum qawmu noohin” - The people of Nuh rejected the prophet. The people of so and so rejected the prophet. In over four verses God's punishment is linked to rejecting the prophet.

34:45 “fakaththaboo rusulee fakayfa kāna nakeer” -They rejected my prophet, see how my punishment was.

So in the number of verses, belief in prophethood is a key condition to accepting God and believing in Him. And yet another verse directed to the people of the book, in the context of our Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

In 3:81 there is a reference to a covenant that God took with all of the prophets, that you would believe in any prophet that comes after “latu'minunna bihi wa latansurunna”. So the context here is given, you must believe in every future prophet as that prophet comes.

In the fourth chapter of the Qur'an, once again within the context of ahlul kitāb, there is a verse that in my opinion is one of the most crystal clear of verses and it is not just my position. Actually, I have read over thirty tafsirs specifically regards to these verses and by and large the message is the same.

4:150 God talks about the people of the book and then he says “Those who wish to disbelieve in God and his prophets by trying to separate between God and his prophets and by saying we will believe in some prophets and reject other prophets.”

Now this is not a verse that applies to Hindus, or Buddhists or Atheists. We believe in some prophets and reject in other prophets. The Qur'an quite clearly says “ulāika humul kāfiroona haqqa” 4:151 - These are the people who have really denied.

Once again in chapter 7:155-158 within the context of discussing a very famous Jewish story of them meeting God and the seventy chosen people and those chosen people pray to God and they say “O God forgive us for our sins”. Right after that God says my mercy encompasses everything. A lot of our speakers have quoted this phrase. They kind of forget the very next phrase, therefore I shall write it - “fasa-aktubuhā”. My mercy encompasses everything but I shall write it to those who believe and who give charity and believe in our signs. Those who follow the unlettered prophet whom, they find mention in the Torah and the Injeel and their scriptures. Whoever believes in him and supports him and aids him, they are the ones who are successful.

Once again very clear-cut verse directed to the ahlul kitāb that they must believe in the chosen prophet. And we can go on and one of them is 4:115 “Whoever opposes the messenger after the guidance has been made clear to them and follows a path other than the path of the believers we shall lead him to that which he has chosen and take him to the fire of hell”.

And there are many, many other verses as well. The point being the centrality of believing in the prophet of God is a necessary pre or co-condition along with believing in God.

The Third Category:

The third category of verses: verses that suggest that a rejection of the Qur'an is a rejection of God. Again I don't want to go into so many hundreds, as there are literally hundreds of verses that you must believe in this Qur'an as a revelation from God.

In 2:23-24 God challenges those who deny that this is a book from him and he says “Whoever doesn't believe that this is a book from me produce another chapter or another Qur'an like it and if you don't do so then your punishment will be the fire of hell”. Once again these are verses that are quite clear, quite explicit, quite numerous. Belief in the books is a precondition or co-condition to ultimate faith in God.

The Fourth Category:

The fourth category of verses are verses that criticize the beliefs of other faiths. And we have mentioned quite a few of them in the last day and a half. Numerous verses in the Qur'an criticize the belief of the idolaters, of Christians and of Jews. These are the three primary religious groups that the Qur'an came into contact with. The criticism of Arab paganism is a central thesis to most Makkan revelations. The pagans are castigated not only for their social practices but also for heterodox and superstitious beliefs. It is not just orthodoxy but orthopraxy that the Qur'an wishes for it's people. The pagans are viewed as having strayed from monotheism and as having fallen into unjust social practices.

As for the ahlul kitāb, The view is quite clearly expressed that the ahlul kitāb were legitimate for their time frames. They were rightly guided people unlike the pagans. They had a book, they had a prophet. But over time they deviated and both the Jews and Christians concealed or deviated from the true teachings of the prophet. Hence, the need to reveal a final message through a universal prophet.

The criticism of key Christians doctrines is quite pronounced. Many times these doctrines are described by the verb kafara or the noun kufr which of course is the antonym of īmān. The trinity is described as kufr. Belief in Jesus as the son of God is described as kufr. Worshiping Jesus Christ is described as shirk. And therefore it is no surprise that ahlul kitāb are referenced in the Qur'an as being those who kafarū. The term kuffār or kafarū is used for ahlul kitāb in over five or six verses.

Of them is 2:105 “waddul latheena kafaroo min ahlil katābi walāl mushrikeen”, “The people who have done kufr both of the ahlul kitāb and the pagans do not wish for any good to come to you”.

Of them is 4:89 “waddoo law takfuroona kamā kafaroo”, “They wish that you become kafarū like they have become kafarū”. So the term kufr, and kuffār and kafarū is used for the pagans and it is also used for the ahlul kitāb. Simply because God calls them ahlul kitāb doesn't mean that they are rightly guided. It simply means that they are the best of those who have disbelieved. They have much in common unlike the pagans who have less in common. And this has been the standard and dominant position of Sunnis and Shi'ites and Mu'tazilites and other theological positions that the ahlul kitāb are a category of kuffār and not distinct from the kuffār. And the ahlul kitāb have certain legal privileges that the non ahlul kitāb do not have.

Therefore any interpretation of any phrases or any verses that argues for the theological acceptance of other religions, must take into account the hundreds of verses that mention key critical tenets of the religion. And before we move on I'd like to mention of course that I have completely sidelined the hadeeth literature because it is not possible to formulate a pluralistic interpretation of Islam except by rejecting and neglecting the hadeeth tradition. If you are going to accept the hadeeth tradition, then really it's a new point anyway. In addition to the Qur'anhadeeth we have ignored, there is also ijmā'.

A number of Sunni theologians have unanimously mentioned, including al-Gazali and even in our times al-Qardāwee and others, have unanimously mentioned, that those who follow another religion consciously rejecting Islam, knowing Islam and rejecting it, that's they key of course and we're going to come back to this. Cannot be considered to be guided.

In addition to this there is also a logical evidence that a number of theologians including an-Nasafi have used and it is a simple logical premise and I think the same exists in Christianity. And that is that a claim that more than one religion is simultaneously valid is simply illogical. Because each religion has tenets that would be deemed blasphemous by the other. They can't be all right at once, would be the simplest way of phrasing it.

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Dispatch Wizard | Part 4 – Starship Hassan Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.

Alice was too nervous to eat, but she made a cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce for Mr. Saleh and watched him wolf it down. She wondered how long it had been since he'd eaten. She realized with some discomfort that he was probably only a decade older than her. He must have had Muḥammad at a young age.

If Alice had stayed on the path she was on years ago, she might have ended up like Mr. Saleh or worse.

She felt something run down her face and put a hand to her cheek, only to realize it was sweat. The apartment was not warm, but her forehead was beaded with perspiration. Having Mr. Saleh in her home-made her unaccountably nervous.

“I'm going to make the sofa for you to sleep on,” she said. Mr. Saleh only grunted in reply, watching her warily from beneath his brows, the way a sheep might watch a wolf. Why did she feel it was the other way around, for Lord's sake? When she'd seen Mr. Saleh at the terminal, bringing him here had seemed the only option. Now, in the silence of her apartment, she wondered if she had made a mistake.

She laid her softest pillow and heaviest blanket on the sofa. Even in the Mission it could get bone-rattling cold at night.

“Get some rest,” she said. “In the morning I'll take you to work with me. I work with your son, remember? I'm sure he'll be happy to see you. I'd call him now but I don't have his number, and I don't want to bother anyone this late. Does that sound alright?”

“Yes, take me to my son,” Mr. Saleh said.

“Right. In the morning. I'm going to sleep now. If you get hungry just help yourself, there's food in the fridge. And the bathroom is right there, in the hallway.”

Alice retreated to her bedroom, where she changed into sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, then turned out the light, climbed into bed and pulled the blanket up to her neck. After a few minutes she realized that she was biting her nails. She got out of bed and stood in the chilly room, thinking. Her bedroom door did not have a lock. She had a small oak writing desk in the room and with some effort she pushed it across the room and braced it against her door.

Then she removed a small bundle of white sage from a plastic bag, set it in a black soapstone bowl, and lit it with a match. Alice opened the bedroom and bathroom windows as smoke poured from the smoldering sage. She picked up the bowl and walked around the room, fanning the tangy smoke with her hand, letting it drift across her bed, into her private bathroom, and even into the closet. This was a Native American purification ritual she had learned from a Shoshone she one dated. It was supposed to remove negative energy from the home. Alice found that it calmed her and lightened her spirit.

When she felt the room had been thoroughly cleansed, she placed a lid on the bowl. Smoke continued to seep out from beneath the lid for a moment, and Alice cupped her hands around the last of it, waving it across her face and body, cleansing herself of stress and worry.

Satisfied, she returned to bed and fell asleep quickly. She dreamed of a train station the size of a city. The station had multiple levels, some that climbed into the sky and could be reached only by a perilous journey up steep spiral stairs, while other levels existed deep beneath the ground, where it was rumored that cannibals hunted unwary travelers. Alice knew that she must get to Cairo, though she wasn't sure why. Every time she tried to board a train she was told that she had the wrong fare, or the train was too full. She needed a guide, but no one would help. Finally she gave up and simply stood on a wide platform the size of a city square, watching trains come and go in the distance.

Hassan watched Muḥammad ride away into the night. He'd never seen the young man so angry and mistrustful. He couldn't imagine what it was like to have grown up abused and unloved. His own father had been such a loving and compassionate man.

He had a sudden, powerful yearning to see his father again, to talk to him and hear his words. The feeling was so strong it almost brought tears to his eyes. He'd never given his father the respect he deserved in life, but if he could see him now he would fall at his feet and embrace his legs like a toddler.

He had intended to gather his friends and discuss the current situation, and he'd certainly tried, but it hadn't worked out. It was frustrating, but he'd play it by ear until tomorrow.

Considering he was standing in the parking lot of SF General Hospital, he might as well check on Wolf. He walked his bike to the hospital's main entrance, but before he could lock it, his cell phone rang. He slipped it from his thigh pocket and glanced at the screen. It was Dr. Basim. That was fast, he thought.

“Marhaba, Doctor,” he said.

“You should come here,” Dr. Basim said without greeting or preamble. Though his voice was as soft as ever, his tone was grim.

“Did you learn something?”

“Yes. I still have a few calls to make. But we should talk in person.”



“Oh, man,” Hassan said. “Okay. I'll be there by morning, inshā'Allāh.”

He ended the call. This wasn't good. He was tired and his injuries hurt. A six hour drive to Orange County was the last thing he needed. But Dr. Basim was a calm and sober man. If he was alarmed then it must be serious.

He'd ride home – he could manage it with one arm – and brew a thermos full of green tea. He'd toss a change of clothing in his bag and get on the road. The Audi had a full tank of gas, and he certainly had enough travelling cash. He would make only one stop on his way out of town at the storage unit, to retrieve the small black briefcase. Hassan was a fighter, not a strategist. He needed Dr. Basim's advice.

Alice didn't know how long she'd been asleep when a loud banging noise woke her. Someone was shouting. She remembered Mr. Saleh and felt a surge of fear, thinking that the disturbed man was trying to break into her bedroom. But the banging came from farther out in the apartment. It sounded like the front door. Should she call 911?

She would take a quick peek. Moving the desk away from the bedroom door, she opened the door a crack and peeked. Mr. Saleh was banging on the front door and shouting in a foreign language – Arabic, Alice supposed. It looked like he was trying to get out, but he couldn't figure out how to turn the deadbolt.

One thing was obvious. If the man wanted out, she had to let him out. He wasn't a prisoner. She'd let him go and then call Jamilah to get a message to Mo. She opened her bedroom door all the way and stepped into the living room.

“I'll let you out, Mr. Saleh,” she said in her most soothing tone.

Mr. Saleh whirled, his eyes wide. “Where am I?” he demanded. “Why did you bring me here? I want to see my son! I need a doctor.”

Mentally chastising herself from bringing such a clearly unwell man into her home, Alice held her hands out in a placating motion.

“I'm your son's friend,” she said, moving toward the door. “Just let me open the lock.”

As she approached the door, Mr. Saleh's panic seemed to grow. He stared at her in fright, as if he were seeing not a freckled woman in pajamas but a jack-booted policeman, or a worse monster of his own imagining. Alice knew what it was like to lose your hold on reality. When she'd been addicted to meth she had been constantly paranoid, convinced that everyone she loved was plotting her destruction. She'd once hit her then boyfriend/dope partner with an iron because she thought he was a zombie.

Without warning, Mr. Saleh reached into his green backpack and pulled out his folding knife. Opening it, he waved it at Alice. “Let me out,” he demanded. “Now!”

The sight of the knife halted Alice in her tracks. She backed up, intending to retreat to the bathroom and call 911. Mr. Saleh followed, striding quickly.

“Where are you going?” he said. “Why are you leaving?”

Mr. Saleh reached for her, and it seemed to Alice that he intended to grab her. She  turned to dash to her bedroom, but it was too late. She felt something strike her in the back and she stumbled, falling to the ground. There was a feeling of pressure in her back, as if an overeager masseuse were digging into her muscles with an elbow. It was a cold, numb feeling. Crawling, looking over her shoulder, she saw a look of horror on Mr. Saleh's face.

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Debt Free Muslims Podcast – Interview With Shaykh Yusuf Delorenzo on Islamic Finance in the West Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:00:45 +0000

Direct download of mp3

Debt Free Muslim Podcast Episode 7

This episode is brought to you by – Because Muslims matter.

Shaykh DeLorenzo is a member of the Sharia board for the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI). He is considered a leading authority on Islamic finance in the United States. He has translated over twenty books from Arabic, Persian, and Urdu for publication, including a three-volume Compendium of Legal Rulings on the Operations of Islamic Banks. Shaykh DeLorenzo has also been a pioneer in internet education with a course entitled “Principles of Islamic Investing.” He is a member of Shari'ah boards of several Islamic financial institutions in the United States and abroad, including Dow Jones Islamic Markets and Guidance Financial Group. Shaykh DeLorenzo has served as secretary of the Fiqh Council of North America and was also an advisor on Islamic education to the government of Pakistan. Following a university education in the United States, Shaykh DeLorenzo studied the classical Shari'ah Sciences with scholars in Pakistan.

In this podcast we discuss:

  • How Shaykh Yusuf got involved in the Islamic finance field.
  • Challenges faced in providing shari'ah compliant home financing
  • What's the next step for Islamic home financing in the US, and the need for more competition.
  • Benefits of Islamic home financing over conventional financing (Islamic institutions don't go after your assets in cases of deficiency)
  • Islamic finance companies will be transparent when the people begin to demand it
  • Shaykh Yusuf's thoughts on student loans.
  • What's needed for us to have a viable student loans solution.
  • The importance of home ownership in the US
  • The importance of setting financial goals for yourself.

Shaykh Nomaan Baig

Institute of Knowledge:


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Taking A Closer Look At Arabic Calligraphy Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:44:08 +0000 By 

Original post can be found at

Arabic calligraphy was originally a tool for communication, but with time, it began to be used in architecture, decoration and coin design. Its evolution into these major roles was a reflection of the early Muslims' need to avoid, as their beliefs required, figures and pictorials that were used as idols before Islam was established in the Arabian Peninsula.

While the Arabic tribes preferred to memorize texts and poetry, the first Muslims tried to document their holy book (Qurʾān Kareem) using the scripts that we'll look at in this article. In order to understand how these scripts developed into the beautiful and complex shapes we know today, we have to understand the history of Arabic calligraphy.

Over the course of their development, the Arabic scripts were created in different periods and locations of the expansive Islamic Empire. There is also a close relationship between each Arabic script and its common usage throughout history. This leads us to the question of why this article is important, especially for non-Arabic speakers, and what information can be gleaned from each script.

Well, understanding the history of each script and how Arabic calligraphy evolved over the history of the Islamic Empire can expand our visual experience beyond the beautiful glyphs and forms. Some scripts reflect the time period in which they developed, such as the Musand script, which emerged at an early stage in the history of Arabic calligraphy. Others provide geographical insight into where the artwork was developed, such as the Maghribi script, which distinguishes the artwork and inscriptions of northwest Africa.

Can different scripts tell us more information, such as the geographical area where each was developed? How much was the local culture affected by each script? We will try to answer these questions, while briefly going through the history and style of each script.

The Early Development Of Arabic Scripts

Digging deep into the history of the Arabian Peninsula and the origin of the Arabic language, archeologists have found inscriptions that show a close relationship between Arabic scripts and some earlier scripts, such as the Canaanite and Aramaic Nabataean alphabets that were found in the north of the Arabian Peninsula. These inscriptions were dated to the 14th century BC.

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Comparison of the old scripts letters (Image source: Wikipedia)


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Arabic Musnad script (Image source: Marie-Lan Nguyen)

The first Arabic script, Arabic Musnad, which likely developed from the above-mentioned languages, doesn't have the cursive aesthetic that most people associate with modern Arabic scripts. Discovered in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen, this script reached its final form around 500 BC and was used until the 6th century. It did not look like modern Arabic, as its shapes were very basic and resembled the Nabataean and Canaanite alphabets more than the Arabic shapes.



The first form of an Arabic-like alphabet is known as the Al-Jazm script, which was used by northern tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. Many researchers think the roots of this script go back to the Nabatean script, and yet the early Arabic scripts also seem to have been affected by other scripts in the area, such as the Syriac and Persian scripts. The Al-Jazm script continued to develop in the west of the Arabian Peninsula, in Mecca and Madīnah, until the early Islamic era.

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Arabic Al-Jazm script (Image source: Saad D. Abulhab)

The Al-Jazm script developed into different styles, such as the Hiri, Anbari, Makki and Madani. During this period, some other scripts developed, such as the Ma'il, which is considered the predecessor of the Kufic script. Other scripts did not make it through the development process, such as the Mukawwar, Mubsoott and Mashq (which you can read more about in “The Development of the Arabic Script: A Brief History” by Professor M.J. Alhabeeb of the University of Massachusetts Amherst). These scripts were used before and during the early days of the Islamic Empire in the Arabian Peninsula.


Following the Arabic Musnad and Al-Jazm, the Kufic script evolved as the next stage of Arabic calligraphy's development. Unlike those two old scripts, we can identify known letter shapes in the early development of the Kufic script.

As the Kufic script developed over the 7th century, it played an essential role in documenting the Muslim holy book (Qur'an Kareem). The Kufic script is one of the oldest Arabic scripts that persisted in common use until the 13th century. Its name refers to the city of Kufa in Iraq, where it first appeared, yet most instances of this script were found nearly a thousand kilometers to the south, in Madīnah in the Arabian Peninsula, where the Prophet Muḥammad stayed after moving from Mecca.

In the early stages of its development, the Kufic script did not include the dots that we know from modern Arabic scripts. The letter dots (Nuqat) were added during the later development of this and other scripts. Also, at a later stage, Abul Aswad Al Du'ali (688 CE) and Al Khalil Ibn Ahmed Al Farahidi (786 CE) developed the diacritical marks (Tashkeel) that indicate the vowels of the letters.

If we examine Kufic script inscriptions, we'll notice particular characteristics, such as the angular shapes and long vertical lines. The script letters used to be wider, which made writing long content more difficult. These characteristics affected the usability of the script and made it more suitable for architectural and written Islamic titles, instead of long texts. The script was used for the architectural decoration of buildings, such as mosques, palaces and schools.

The Kufic script continued its development through the different dynasties, including the Umayyad (661 – 750 CE) and Abbasid (750 – 1258 CE) dynasties. Below are some examples of Kufic scripts and their different developmental stages:

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Kufic script from the 9th – 10th centuries (Image source: Will Schofield)

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Kufic script from the Holy Qur'an, 11th century (Image source: Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art)

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Royal Mosque (imām Mosque) minaret decorated with square Kufic (Image source: Patrick Ringgenberg)

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Islamic Derham from the Abbasid period with Kufic scripts on both sides (Image source: Hussein Alazaat)

While Kufic has been used for a long time and is one of the more common scripts across the Islamic civilization, some versions of it were developed in particular areas, such as Egypt and Iraq. Understanding how the script developed in different areas and being able to identify each variation of it will help us identify the origins of the artifacts where they appear. Variations and developments of the Kufic script include the following:

  • The thick Kufic script This is one of the earliest forms of the Kufic script and was used in the early copies of the Holy Qur'an, known as the Uthman Qur'an.
  • Magribi Kufic script
    This script was used in Morocco and includes curves and loops, unlike the original Kufic script.
  • Mashriqi Kufic Script
    The letters in this script are similar to the original Kufic, with a thinner look and decorative lines.
  • Piramouz script
    This script is another version of the Mashriqi script that was developed in Iran.
  • Ghaznavid and Khourasan scripts
    These two other forms of the Kufic script were developed in Iran. These scripts have the same thickness as the original Kufic script, with long vertical lines and decorative ends.
  • Fatimid Kufic
    This form developed in North Africa, especially in Egypt. It was written in thick lines and short curves.
  • Square Kufic
    This form is very noticeable, with its straight letters and no curves at all.

As an Egyptian citizen residing in Cairo, I enjoy the Fatimid Kufic as part of my daily life because it can be seen in the architectural decorations on the old Islamic buildings. This script was used with decorative motifs in the characters themselves or as a background. The letters are marked with straight lines and angles, with short curves for some letters at the ends of words. One of the leading scholars and an award-winning researcher in the Fatimid Kufic script is Bahia Shehab, Professor of Professional Practice at the American University in Cairo.

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The Fatimid Kufic script appears in the architecture of Bab Al Nasr, a gate built by Babr Al-Jamali, a minister of Fatimid Caliphate (909 – 1171 CE), on the northern wall of Fatimid Cairo (Image source: Md iet)

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The Fatimid Kufic script appears here on the Sultan Hasan mosque in the Fatimid Cairo. (Image source:Stars in Symmetry)

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MuslimKidsMatter | Cherished Blessing: Salah Sun, 06 Apr 2014 16:00:32 +0000 Cherished Blessing: ṣalāh
by Tania Maseera
All human beings have certain dreams.  Many of us dream of visiting the Eiffel tower, Taj Mahal or Disney Land. I do too. We try to save each and every penny we have earned to fulfill our dream and the ticket to visit such wonders is very expensive. Imagine if we ever go on a trip to Disney Land for 10 days and we enjoy it as much as possible. After returning from this trip, we spend the next 10 days describing our trip to our friends, posting our pictures on Facebook. At the end of the day we realize that we have enjoyed our trip but unfortunately we have missed our salahs, lost the time, the time we had to pray. So I ask you, was the trip worth it? Why don't people dream of jannah? For this we don't have a ticket but we have to earn it by doing good deeds. The best deed described in Qurʾān is ṣalāh that is our ticket to jannah. Jannah is the only place where enjoyment never ends.  It lasts forever and ever. It is not for a short period of time and we will never get bored of it.
ṣalāh is one of the most important pillars of Islam which is obligatory for every  Muslim. My very first encounter with ṣalāh was when I was five years old when my mother used to stand for her ṣalāh.  I stood with my mother and imitated every action.  When it came to surah recitation, all I could hear standing next to her was a very feeble murmur.  ”Psst.”  So ṣalāh was like an exciting game for me.  Stand, Bow, Prostrate, whisper, see to right, then left and my ṣalāh came to an end. And this way of performing ṣalāh continued for a while. Come to think of it now, it's very hilarious. Then when I got a bit  older, I finally realized that we actually recited surahs.  Even when I came to know about it my ṣalāh wasn't perfect.  I didn't even know the meaning of the surahs I recited. I used to stand for ṣalāh but my mind used to drift from ṣalāh to worldly affairs like movies, school, and friends. Till yesterday my ṣalāh was fast and furious like an express train. At times I even forgot  in which rakah I was, which surah had I read in my first rakah? All sort of questions rose in my mind. I used to pray only 4 times a day. Fajr was not applicable for me, I thought. Praying four times a day was enough for me. Now I think how did Allāh bear me for these many years? Allāh was not only patient with me but he did not even reduce a single blessing.  subḥānAllāh!! Allāh is indeed the greatest, As Sabur (the most patient) who doesn't give up on his servants. Where can we find a love that is so pure and true? Allāh is the one who turns and softens hearts. Allāh's most cherished blessing that he has bestowed on me is the consciousness of ṣalāh that I am in the process of developing.
I pray and hope my ṣalāh is being  accepted.  Now I try to know the meaning of the surah I recite. But it is not as perfect as it should be. But I try my best  to keep my concentration on my ṣalāh.  Now my struggles are in understanding the Qurʾān. Once we learn Arabic we will enjoy reading Qurʾān and benefit from the immense ocean of knowledge and insight for hours and our legs may go numb but we will be totally involved and lost in the amazing word of Allāh-The Qurʾān that we will not be able to feel the numbness of our legs. This happens to me when I read my favorite book. I am lost. May Allāh give us strength, determination and barakah of making Qurʾān our favourite book. Āmīn!
Allāh has sent us to this world for a purpose. Life is an aeroplane in which we are travelling.  It is a journey full of ups and downs and we are the passengers in it. Our purpose is  to reach Jannah – a place where they are no tensions, no restrictions, no tears, and no fears. We have already boarded this plane and have started our journey.  Now we have to see that our journey is safe without any obstacles or crashes. All we have to do is follow the manual the word of Allāh – The Qurʾān. Let's all gear up for the ticket to jannah which  indeed needs no money but sincere love for Allāh and obedience.
About the Author
Tania Maseera is 14 years old and lives in India.  Her favorite subjects are English, math, history, and physics, and she is in ninth grade.  Writing poems is her newly developed interest.  Tania likes horses and dreams of learning to ride a horse one day, insha Allāh.
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