Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Respecting Rights of Fellow Humans (Huqooq ul Ibad) in Ramadan

Muslims around the world have begun observing the holy month of Ramadan with long hours of fasting during daylight and by flocking to the mosques everywhere for taraveeh (extra prayers) after sundown. The imams are delivering khutbas and making television presentations on the blessings of Ramadan and emphasizing extra rewards for praying during the month. Meanwhile, the Taliban have refused to agree to a ceasefire by claiming that the “reward of fighting is much higher in the holy month.”



How about discussing Huqooq ul Ibad (human rights) in this blessed month? How about saying that there is no greater right of the living than the right to life? And there is no greater sin than the taking of an innocent life which is happening with regularity in indiscriminate bomb attacks almost everyday in public places?

And We have sent you (Muhammad) not but as a mercy for mankind
Quran: Sura Al-Anbiya  21:117

As to the convoluted justifications for killing of the "infidels", it is important to remember that the Holy Quran describes Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as Rehmat-ul-lil-Alamin, not just Rehamt-ul-lil-Muslimeen.  The Prophet of Allah was sent to this world as a blessing for all, not just for Muslims, a fact often forgotten by bigots and terrorists who claim to be Muslims and carry out unimaginable atrocities in the name of Islam.

TTP's "Shariah" is Distortion of Real Shariah. Just Say No to it!

It seems to me that there is an urgent need to bring Huqooq ul Allah (Duties to God) in better balance with Huqooq ul Ibad (Duties to humans and all of Allah's creation). And Ramadan is an ideal time for the imams (prayer leaders) and khatibs (preachers) and popular televangelists to give equal time to both in their sermons, TV shows and speeches to the faithful attending the mosques or watching TV.

The Muslim preachers must take this opportunity to tell the worshipers that Allah will not forgive any wrongs done by them to their fellow human beings; such wrongs can only be forgiven by those who are wronged.

“And render to the kindred their rights,as also to those in want and to the wayfarer” (Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 26)

“Serve Allah, don’t associate anyone with Him, do good to parents, kinsfolk,orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighbors who are strangers,the companion by your side, the wayfarer,and what your right hand posses: for Allah loves not the vainglorious;nor those who are niggardly, enjoin niggardliness on others,hide bounties which Allah has bestowed on them” (Surah Al-Nisa, verse 36)

It's also important remember that the Jannah is not exclusively for Muslims only. People of other faiths who do good will be just as eligible to enter paradise as Muslims. Here's Chapter 2 Verse 62 of the Holy Quran:

 "Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve"


It's important to remember during Ramadan from the teachings and the life Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)  lived to learn how to deal with the serious crises Muslims face today. Here is how I remember the Prophet I know from my reading about his life:

Secular Education:

The Prophet I know instructed Muslims to "go as far as China to seek knowledge". It was clear at the time that China was not a Muslim nation. It is therefore safe to conclude that the Prophet encouraged all necessary efforts to seek all knowledge including secular education.

Faith and Reason:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran to humanity, the Book that repeatedly and emphatically challenges readers to "Think" (Afala Taqelon) and "Ponder" (Afala Tatafakkron) for themselves. This is the best proof that Islam wants Muslims to reconcile faith and reason. It was this teaching that brought greatness to Muslims in seventh through thirteenth centuries following the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Compassion:

The Prophet I know showed compassion and understanding when a Bedouin person entered the Prophet's mosque in Medina and urinated, an act that infuriated the Prophet's companions. He restrained his companions and asked them to show understanding for the ignorance of the Bedouin.

Brevity:

The Prophet I know spoke softly and briefly. His last khutbah was a mere 430 words lasting a few minutes. He did not make long, fiery speeches.

Response to provocation:

The Prophet I know responded to abuse by prayer. When the people of Taif threw rocks at him, he responded by praying to Allah to give guidance to those who abused him.

Respect for Life:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran, the Book that equates " unjust killing of one person" with "the killing the entire humanity". It commands respect for life.

In this terror-stricken world, it is more important than ever for Muslims to make a serious effort to understand what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for and how he lived his life. The issues of education, faith, reason and compassion need to be understood in the light of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith. It is this understanding that will help guide the Ummah out of the deep crisis it finds itself in.

I urge the Muslim imams and the Islamic scholars everywhere not to waste the opportunity to educate Muslims about the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the high importance of Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Ramadan to contribute to ending the long nightmare Pakistanis and others are are being subjected to.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

The Prophet I Know

Is Ramadan Just a Break From Work?

Does Nawaz Sharif Have a Counter Terrorism Strategy?

Obama Hosts Iftar Dinner at White House

American Muslim Reality TV Breaks Stereotypes

16 comments:

Shams said...

Riaz,

I spent a lot of time, more than 3 minutes for sure, to find faults in this article and as is usual, send a blasting email. But I couldn't find anything wrong.

I guess that is one way of showing appreciation for an article written well.

Ras said...

Finally something which we can agree upon!

Great job.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams and Ras,

While you are agreeing with the post, I am being bombarded with unprintable comments.

It appears from the tone and content that these venom-filled comments are not coming from the usual Taliban sympathizers among Muslim extremists; these appear to be the handiwork of the "Internet Hindus" (as described by Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose) and their Islamophobic allies spouting their oft-repeated anti-Islam rhetoric.

It seems that these hateful posters strongly agree with the Taliban's extreme interpretation of Islam.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120615/internet-hindus-hindu-nationalists-right-wing-politics

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Article. One of the best I have read in recent times.

Shoieb Yunus said...

A very well-written article. No need to share hateful and venom-filled comments.

faisy wish said...

The Qur'an is an amazing book and it can be studied at different levels from just studying the literal (or superficial) meanings of the words from a translation to an in-depth multidisciplinary study of a single ayah for many decades.
ramadan calendar 2013 app

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report of an attack killing 30 policemen in Quetta:

A suicide bomber has killed 30 people and wounded more than 50 others, most of them Pakistani policemen attending a funeral.

The attack at police headquarters in the south-western city of Quetta was the latest in a series of attacks highlighting the major security challenges faced by a newly elected government.

The bomber struck as officers gathered to pay their respects to a colleague who had been shot dead only hours before in Quetta, capital of the troubled province of Baluchistan.

"Most of the dead and injured are policemen," senior police official Mohammad Tariq said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Quetta sits on the frontline of Islamist militant violence, a Baluch separatist insurgency and violence targeting the Shiite Muslim minority.

Witnesses described the horror after the explosion.

"I was inside the mosque and we were lining up for the funeral prayers when a big blast took place," police officer Mohammad Hafiz said.

"I came out and saw injured and dead bodies lying on the ground.

"I have no words to explain what I've seen - it was horrible."

Another witness said he saw dead bodies scattered everywhere.

"Most of the bodies were beyond recognition," he said in an interview broadcast by TV channel ARY.

"We collected body parts and flesh.

"Those who are killing people, even inside mosques, are not human beings, they are beasts.

"They are not Muslims, they have nothing to do with Islam. Allah will never pardon them."

The blast capped a bloody Ramadan in Pakistan, where at least 11 attacks have killed more than 120 people during the fasting month, one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar.

Early on Wednesday a bomb killed eight people at the end of a football tournament in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, many of them young fans watching the game from the stands.

On Tuesday Baluch separatist gunmen shot dead 14 people, including three security officials, 70km southeast of Quetta.


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-09/suicide-blast-kills-38-in-pakistan/4875038

Mohammed said...

If only more people could discuss and understand religion with such calm and composure, the religion would be so much more accessible, acceptable and understandable.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Time magazine story on Boko Haram:

Shariah is part of Islam, and shariah is important to Muslims. But shariah is not a codified, static or agreed upon collection of laws

Over 200 girls abducted, enslaved and possibly sold. 310 people killed in a market attack. Schools and churches bombed. Students, teachers, and police shot dead. An escalating surge of violence aimed at children and adults, Muslims and Christians, political, traditional and religious leaders.

Largely due to the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, Boko Haram has now entered mainstream media and US public consciousness.

In response, there is growing commentary on the horror of this event, and on Boko Haram’s history. Many voices have begun to lay bare relevant intersections of government corruption, poverty, diversity and education.

Yet when it comes to the question of motivation, an off-the-shelf explanation is being bandied about: the motivation of Boko Haram is the implementation of shariah and an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria.

This explanation certainly aligns with the rhetoric of Boko Haram. It also permits a neat “ah-ha” moment, allowing us to somehow make sense of these heinous atrocities by placing them in a familiar storyline. Shariah is routinely discussed in connection to violence, inhumane punishments, anti-Western sentiment and oppression of women.

The problem is that this depiction is highly reductive and oversimplified. It obscures significant details related both to shariah and to Boko Haram. And, in doing so, it grants a sense of legitimacy to the group’s twisted ideology while muffling strategic voices of opposition.

Shariah is part of Islam, and shariah is important to Muslims. But shariah is not a codified, static or agreed upon collection of laws. Shariah is better understood as guiding principles according to which Muslims attempt to live their lives.

A good analogy here is the founding ideals of our ..

It is similar with shariah and Islamic law. The majority of Islamic laws do not derive directly from the Qur’an, which primarily contains generalized ethical content. Most Islamic laws instead come from the work of Islamic jurists over the past 1,400 years. These jurists, in the past and today, have debated, upheld, modified, and introduced diverse laws. They have tried—with varying degrees of success—to align those laws with the principles of shariah. What they have never done is agree upon a fixed set of specific laws.

Just as we adapt our laws here in the US to fit changing circumstances over time, jurists adapt Islamic laws to fit changing circumstances. And just as each US state faces unique circumstances, people, and challenges that require different laws, jurists also adapt Islamic law to local conditions. We strive in the US remain true to our nation’s highest ideals, and jurists strive to remain true to sharia.

Why does this matter in reference to Boko Haram? Because in parroting the content-lite and ideologically-rich rhetoric of Boko Haram, we buy in to their mythology. We explain their behavior as mere religious zealotry. We allow them to define the terms of the discussion, without challenge. We implicitly, sometimes explicitly, assent to the idea that their version of “shariah” is actually authoritative.

We also inadvertently muffle the voices of Muslim opposition to extremists like Boko Haram. These voices, including my own, yell out that this is not my “shariah.” But because these voices do not fit within the agreed upon mythology, they often fall upon deaf ears.

----
When asked about the motivation of Boko Haram, we should call it what it is: a bastardized ideology that references Islam and focuses mainly on punishment. An ideology that aims not to create a functional ‘state,’ but rather a state of fear and coercion. An ideology that performs its obscene agenda on the backs of girls and women....


http://time.com/92534/boko-haram-not-my-shariah/

Riaz Haq said...

Boko Haram, the cultlike Nigerian group that carried out the kidnappings, was rejected long ago by mainstream Muslim scholars and Islamist parties around the world for its seemingly senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians. But this week its stunning abduction appeared too much even for fellow militants normally eager to condone terrorist acts against the West and its allies....The dismay of fellow jihadists at the innocent targets of Boko Haram’s violence is a reflection of the increasingly far-flung and ideologically disparate networks of Islamist militancy, which now include the remnants of Bin Laden’s puritanical camps, Algerian cigarette smugglers and a brutal Somalian offshoot.

“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls,” said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “And Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them.”

Boko Haram is in many ways an awkward ally for any of them. Its violence is broader and more casual than Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups. Indeed, its reputation for the mass murder of innocent civilians is strikingly inconsistent with a current push by Al Qaeda’s leaders to avoid such deaths for fear of alienating potential supporters. That was the subject of the dispute that led to Al Qaeda’s recent break with its former affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria...


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/08/world/africa/abduction-of-girls-an-act-not-even-al-qaeda-can-condone.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times columnist David Brooks on Boko Haram abduction story coverage in the West:

In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called “How to Write About Africa,” advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent.

“Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title,” Wainaina advised. “Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.”

----

There’s been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities over the past week. It’s great that the kidnappings and the massacres are finally arousing the world’s indignation. But sometimes the implication of the conversation has been this: Africa is this dark and lawless place where monstrous things are bound to happen. Those poor people need our help.
------------
But this is more or less the opposite of the truth. Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. The main story in Africa is an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization, which has sparked panic in a few people who don’t like these things.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a phenomenal clip. Nigeria’s economy grew by 6.7 percent in 2012. Mozambique’s grew by 7.4 percent, Ghana’s by 7.9 percent. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2 percent this year. Investment funds are starting up by the dozen, finding local entrepreneurs.
---------
The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It’s seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28 percent of Africans lived in cities, but today 40 percent do. This has led to a greater mixing of tribal groupings, religions and a loosening of lifestyle options. The draconian anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi and many other countries are one reaction against this cosmopolitan trend.

The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50 percent. This contributes to an increasing value on intellectual openness, as people seek liberty to furnish their own minds. The Boko Haram terrorists are massacring and kidnapping people — mostly girls — at schools to try to force people to submit to a fantasy version of the past.

The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80 percent of Africa’s workers labor in the informal sector. That’s because the formal governmental and regulatory structures are biased toward the connected and the rich, not based on impersonal rule of law. Many Africans are trying to replace old practices with competent governance. They are creating new ways to navigate between the formal and informal sectors.

Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fund-raising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days. Most important: Individual and social creativity is zooming ahead. Governing institutions are failing to perform the basic, elementary tasks.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/opinion/brooks-the-real-africa.html?_r=0

Farid Durrani said...

thanks for a good effort. We need writers like you to educate non muslims by sharing these thoughts in form of letters to editors to all major newspapers - same strategy followed by some of Indians and Israelis but tell the truth instead of twisting the truth like they do.

Riaz Haq said...

Prophet Muhammad sought counsel with Christian monk Waraqa ibn Nawfal & protection for 90 of his persecuted followers by appealing to Negus, the Christian King of Abyssinia.

Will non-Muslims who do good be excluded from paradise? The answer is NO. Here's Chapter 2 Verse 62 of the Holy Quran:

"Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve"

Riaz Haq said...

From NJ Senator Cory Booker:

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people;

before you tell me how much you love your God, show me how much you love all His children;

before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors.

In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

Riaz Haq said...

A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-islam-wahhabism-religious-police.html?_r=0#

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — For most of his adult life, Ahmed Qassim al-Ghamdi worked among the bearded enforcers of Saudi Arabia. He was a dedicated employee of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — known abroad as the religious police — serving with the front-line troops protecting the Islamic kingdom from Westernization, secularism and anything but the most conservative Islamic practices.

Some of that resembled ordinary police work: busting drug dealers and bootleggers in a country that bans alcohol. But the men of “the Commission,” as Saudis call it, spent most of their time maintaining the puritanical public norms that set Saudi Arabia apart not only from the West, but from most of the Muslim world.

A key offense was ikhtilat, or unauthorized mixing between men and women. The kingdom’s clerics warn that it could lead to fornication, adultery, broken homes, children born of unmarried couples and full-blown societal collapse.

For years, Mr. Ghamdi stuck with the program and was eventually put in charge of the Commission for the region of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. Then he had a reckoning and began to question the rules. So he turned to the Quran and the stories of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, considered the exemplars of Islamic conduct. What he found was striking and life altering: There had been plenty of mixing among the first generation of Muslims, and no one had seemed to mind.

So he spoke out. In articles and television appearances, he argued that much of what Saudis practiced as religion was in fact Arabian cultural practices that had been mixed up with their faith.

There was no need to close shops for prayer, he said, nor to bar women from driving, as Saudi Arabia does. At the time of the Prophet, women rode around on camels, which he said was far more provocative than veiled women piloting S.U.V.s.

-------------


The Unexpected Reformer

The first time I met Mr. Ghamdi, 51, formerly of the religious police, was this year in a sitting room in his apartment in Jidda, the port city on the Red Sea. The room had been outfitted to look like a Bedouin tent. Burgundy fabric adorned the walls, gold tassels hung from the ceiling, and carpets covered the floor, to which Mr. Ghamdi pressed his forehead in prayer during breaks in our conversation.

He spoke of how the world of sheikhs, fatwas and the meticulous application of religion to everything had defined his life.

But that world — his world — had frozen him out.

Little in his background suggested that he would become a religious reformer. While at a university, he quit a job at the customs office in the Jidda port because a sheikh told him that collecting duties was haram.

After graduation, he studied religion in his spare time and handled international accounts for a government office — a job requiring travel to non-Muslim countries.

--------------

Kaust followed the precedent of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, which had also been shielded from clerical interference, highlighting one of the great contradictions of Saudi Arabia: Regardless of how much the royal family lauds its Islamic values, when it wants to earn money or innovate, it does not turn to the clerics for advice. It puts up a wall and locks them out.

Most clerics kept quiet out of deference to the king. But one member of the top clerical body addressed the issue on a call-in show, warning of the dangers of mixed universities: sexual harassment; men and women flirting and getting distracted from their studies; husbands growing jealous of their wives; rape.

Mariam Baig said...

Jaza kAllah ul kheir ! Great reminder