THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF HATE…

Sun Manchester

Hate comes in many different shapes, sizes, colours, and beliefs. We have a Libyan Muslim killing 22 at a pop concert in Manchester. We have ISIS killers shooting 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt. We have another ISIS rampage in the Philippines killing at least 19. We have the US admitting that an air strike on Mosul in March 2017 killed well over 100 civilians. Just a few days ago another US-led air strike, this time in Syria, killed at least 35. Whilst this list is by no means endless, we now also have 2 people stabbed to death in Oregon, Portland, in America.

Whilst on a commuter train, these non-Muslim men came to the defence of 2 Muslim women, one wearing a hijab, who were being verbally abused by a white supremacist, who is now being referred to by authorities as a ‘domestic terrorist’ with ‘extremist ideologies’.

It can be seen from the above videos that hate does indeed take many forms. Arguably the most news worthy of these recent incidents was the suicide bombing in Manchester. When 22 year old Salman Abedi decided to blow himself up at an Ariana Grande concert, an unfortunately repetitive news cycle was kicked into motion, a cycle we have gone through after bombings in London and attacks in Paris.

Sadiq Manchester

During a memorial for the victims of the deadly Manchester attack, Muslim man Sadiq Patel comforts Jewish woman Renee Rachel Black, who broke down next to a floral tribute in Albert Square on May 24, 2017.

It goes a little like this: horrific incident occurs where a Muslim kills many, queue outrage at the Muslim community at large, some cry out for all Muslims to condemn the incident, some Muslims do whilst others resist and say they should not as they did not do this, etc.

Whilst this issue of condemning is something I have written about previously, in order to shed some more hopefully objective light on this media cycle, please find below links to 2 articles, one from a Muslim and one from a Christian, that detail why perhaps we (the larger Muslim population) should not feel an urge to condemn something that we find just as horrific as non-Muslims. Whilst I have selected certain quotes from these article, both are worth reading in full.


Don’t Ask Muslims To Condemn Terror: Our Outrage At Atrocities Ought To Be A Given

Daila Mogahed, nydailynews.com, 24 May 2017

I cannot begin to fathom the motivation behind this monstrous violence, but because of my faith and the color of my skin, many suspect me of condoning it…

Anyone with an internet connection and a search engine will find that Muslims have and continue to condemn terrorism. Muslims have issued thousands of public statements, held conferences, seminars, lectures, workshops, created organizations, penned op-eds, written books, taken out full-page ads, held rallies, created television series and even developed video games, all to condemn terrorism.

There isn’t a mode of communication through which Muslims have not tried to communicate to the world their disgust with terrorism in their name.

But is this a reasonable expectation?

…As we mourn the loss of Saffie and the others murdered, let us not allow our pain to be exploited in the service of prejudice.


Why We Must Never Hate Islam, Or Muslims, Because Of The Violence Of Its Fake Followers

Shaun King, nydailynews.com, 23 May 2017

We must always resist the urge to throw an entire race of people under the bus…It’s an easy temptation to oversimplify our emotions into dangerous generalizations, but we must resist such urges…

We should all be upset at what happened in Manchester, but what happened there is no excuse to slide into Islamophobia. Whoever did this is no more a Muslim than those who lynched African Americans during Jim Crow were Christians. Wearing the garb of a faith no more makes you a follower of that faith than me wearing a Steph Curry jersey makes me a Golden State Warrior.

From the beginning of time, people have perverted religions to justify the worst possible behaviors imaginable. This man who decided to blow himself up at the exit doors of the concert venue just as families exited was not a Muslim.

Suicide itself is forbidden in Islam. Well over a billion Muslims believe this. Murder, doubly so of innocent women and children, is forbidden in Islam. This is commonly understood and peacefully observed by everyday Muslims all over the world. These terrible, ignorant violent betrayers of Islam who blow themselves up in the names of causing such carnage are not Muslims. Their acts are fundamentally un-Islamic. They not only violate the letter of Qur’an, but violate the spirit of it as well.

This bastardization of Islam is not unique. One of the early ships in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was actually known as the “Good Ship Jesus.” The very people who were capturing, chaining, then selling human beings for a life of slavery saw absolutely no conflict of interest between such actions with their Christianity. Early leaders of the KKK, including those who lynched black bodies, were regularly deacons and church leaders. I’ve literally been called n—-r on Twitter by actual people who describe their Christian faith in their social media bio.

Of all the friends I have, none are more consistently warm, peaceful, supportive, and kind than my Muslim friends. They are actual Muslims, though. In a day and age of fake news and fake politicians, perhaps nothing is more dangerous than fake Muslims and Christians — who cloak themselves in the accouterments of religion but do so for the asinine and insincere reasons.

It’s sad that this must be said, but you must find a way to be angry at what happened in Manchester without hating Islam and its more than 1.5 billion adherents. Blaming all of Islam for what this idiot, or for what the few hundred other idiots like him have done, is not just simple, it’s both dumb and dangerous. You are better than that.

RAMADHAAN 2017 – SOME USEFUL RESOURCES

Kaba pic

We are nearly at the end of the month of Shabaan (moonsighting.com), which means Ramadhaan is just around the corner. Preparations for Ramadhaan should therefore ideally begin now. With this intention, I am hoping the list of resources below can help us all to make the most of this blessed month, insha-Allah…


Information about the month of Shabaan…

Please see the following PDF file about the month of Shabaan, from the excellent book The Best Of Times by Muhammad Khan. Please read this in order to get the best out of this blessed month.


Islamic lectures…

An excellent lecture about Ramadhaan is one called Preparing For Ramadan by Shaykh Zahir Mahmood (scroll down the page please in order to get to this particular lecture).

Another excellent lecture is from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf called Ramadan Advice.


Useful websites…

A useful website with loads of really good practical hints and tips is http://productivemuslim.com.

I came across a really good website where if you type in a post code it will show you the qibla direction from that place: http://www.qib.la/.


Useful files…

Four files that will insha–Allah provide some good information:

Complete Guide To Ramadhan

Laylatul-Qadr – guide

Ramadhaan checklist

Ramadhaan preparation pack


OVERALL…

Know that you will only get out of Ramadhaan what you are willing to put in. Therefore please make time to read the Shabaan article, to read the pdf files and the Word doc, and to listen to the lectures before Ramadhaan begins.

To hopefully inspire further, here are 4 quotes related to Ramadhaan and fasting:

We have become like gerbils in the dunya, chasing after things…The job of the dunya is to make you unstable…the more you become immersed in this dunya, the more you become invested in this dunya, then the more unstable you become…Some scholars have said that jahiliya is to see something and to perceive it as something else, that this is ignorance…in Islam true knowledge is to perceive something as it really is, as best you can…people who immerse themselves in this dunya have immersed themselves in a lie, and they are getting played like a piano on Sunday school, and that is why they are not stable…this dunya calls you to become people who are completely insecure with themselves…Fasting and Ramadhaan call us to be stable. – adapted from a speech by Imam Suhaib Webb

Ramadan is not a temporary increase of religious practice. It is a glimpse of what you are capable of doing every day. – Shaykh Abdul Jabbar

The less fasts certain people keep during Ramadhaan, the more eager they seem to be to celebrate Eid. – Anon

This month of Ramadan is about asking “Where is your heart?” Is your heart with God? Is your heart with your own ego? Is your heart with your lust? Is your heart with your passion? Is your heart with your greed? Is your heart with your pride? Is your heart with your envy? Is it with your resentment? Is it with your desire for revenge? “Where is your heart?” That is the question this month is asking us: “Where is your heart?” And this time that we have been given, a few days of reflection, this is the time when you can actually go into yourself, and dig into yourself and ask that question: “Where is your heart?” Because as Sayyidina Ali said “A man lies hidden under his tongue”, because the tongue expresses what is in the heart…“Whoever loves a thing does much remembrance of it”. If you love Allah, God is on your tongue. If you love the world, the world is on your tongue. That is the question: “Where is your heart?” This is the time to return to God, to give the heart back to the One who possesses the heart… – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, from a speech entitled Ramadan Advice

3 COMEDIANS AND A GOVERNOR WALK INTO A BLOG POST…

Teenage Cancer Trust concerts 2015 - London

The very few regular readers of this blog may note that I am a huge fan of the stand-up Frankie Boyle. Boyle is arguably one of the finest satirists and comedians in Britain, so much so that the Independent newspaper recently referred to him as “Britain’s biggest cynic”, going on to add:

Boyle’s tireless cynicism and blistering takedowns have left few unscathed. The Glaswegian writer is well known for his assiduously outrageous, dark and acerbic sense of humour which tightrope walks the fine line between funny and offensive. – Maya Oppenheim, Apr 2017, Independent

In an interview with Max Keiser, on the news channel RT, Boyle commented on how the general population of Britain needs to be at a certain level of stupidity in order for the minority rich to continue getting richer at the expense of the majority poor:

You need a really stupid population. The banks cannot really rip people off like they have done and continue to do if those people have any information. So you don’t just need a stupid population, you need a really stupid population. You need 50 million people a week watching a dancing dog, people who just sit there eating junk food watching TV. That is what you need if you want to get away with this. – Frankie Boyle, adapted from an interview with Max Keiser

When Boyle talks of people “watching a dancing dog” he is referring to the TV program Britain’s Got Talent, a show I generally do not like, so much so that I end up berating anyone else who watches it. However, having said all that, my family and I were having lunch one weekend and this show happened to be on (clearly I was not in charge of the TV remote at the time). The usual display of the untalented were being paraded one after the untalented other, until out walked on stage a comedian by the name of Daliso Chaponda. Chaponda, originally from Malawi, did about 5 minutes and ended up getting a well-deserved standing ovation all round. If you watch the clip further below you will see why.

Another comedian I recently came across that really impressed was the Indian comic Vir Das who appeared recently on Conan O’Briens self-titled TV show. As with Chaponda, I am sure you will agree that Das is a comedian that looks likely to have a bright future in the comedy world.

The third comedian featured below is a Christian from the American south. Jeremy McLellan is a stand up whose brand of liberal-advocacy humour finds him playing both Muslim festivals as well as Libertarian conferences. A recent Vice article said about McLellan that:

Muslims love him. Trump supporters want to kill him. That’s South Carolina comic Jeremy McLellan’s schtick. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, McLellan has become a staple at Muslim festivals and events around North America. – Samar Warsi, vice.com

Watch the short video below and you will see why a typical Trump support would want him killed.

The final video I would like to draw attention to features an interview between Trevor Noah and the Governor of Ohio John Kasich. Kasich, one of the few good ones in American politics, makes some interesting points about faith, community, and how we need to get out of our silo thinking. Again, an interesting interview that is well worth listening to.

As usual, I have transcribed my favourite quotes from each clip. Enjoy!


Daliso Chaponda on Britain’s Got Talent…

I am from Africa. I moved here ten years ago. And immediately I moved here, I heard a lot of British people talking about the financial crisis, the recession. I’m from Africa. What are you maniacs talking about?! You call that a crisis? If that’s a crisis, where’s UNICEF? Where is Bono? I have not seen one Save The UK Concert. You can tell me it’s a financial crisis when there are planes flying over Birmingham tossing fish and chips out of the window. It will be a financial crisis when there are ads on television saying, ‘This chav has to walk five miles a day to get a bottle of WKD Blue’ And 100%, you have got a financial crisis when India starts opening call centers here. Can you imagine some poor guy in Mumbai calls his bank and ends up talking to a Brummie? – Daliso Chaponda


Vir Das on Conan…

Everybody is complaining too much. You have to work this out, guys. Everybody is like “Man, we didn’t choose this guy. Now we gotta live with him? We didn’t vote for this guy. Now we gotta live with him?” To you Americans that’s your president. To most Indians that’s a marriage. That’s what Donald Trump is, he’s your arranged marriage. Because in the most literal sense, your parents picked this guy out for you. – Vir Das

There is religious phobia because I believe the world is changing and religion can’t keep up. I feel like we need to update every major religion in the world. Just take every religion and give it to the company Apple. Every 6 months Apple can update and relaunch the religion to the world. How nice would that be? That’s what we need. We need Islam 6S. We need Jesus Pro. You would slow terrorism down. Can you imagine how much you would slow terrorism down if every time some nutjob wanted to commit a jihad, you first had to sign a new online agreement with Apple. So first you have to get a jihad ID. Then you have to synch all your bombs and your devices to the same jihad ID. Except that one bomb didn’t work with the old version of iTunes and now you have to download the new version of iTunes. And you are all set to go up to heaven and get 72 virgins but your iCloud only holds 6 virgins, so now you have to upgrade. – Vir Das

You don’t appreciate your American luxury. I went to your supermarket the other day. You have an aisle for cereal. An aisle for cereal. You’re complaining about a president, you have an aisle for cereal. It is 60 feet by 10 feet. That’s 600 square feet. In Bombay that’s a school. – Vir Das


Jeremy McLellan…

I think that more the purpose of comedy is to make people feel like they’re not going crazy, to make people feel like they’re not as alienated, even though they’re being oppressed, even though they’re being mistreated or misunderstood, that there is someone who understands them, that is trying to understand them, that is trying to address their concerns and laugh at the world and at the ridiculousness of their situation. And I think that no matter what situation you find yourself in comedy can help you do that. It can make you feel less lonely, it can make you feel like somebody’s trying to understand you. – Jeremy McLellan

I love Uber because Uber is not just a corporation. Uber is also a sign of peace, it’s also a sign of religious coexistence, because Uber is an app that was invented by a Jew so that when a Christian gets too drunk he can call a Muslim to come pick him up and take him home. It all works out very very perfectly. – Jeremy McLellan

I’ll get messages from people saying that I should not do a show because “You can’t trust Muslims.” And I’m like “Okay, why can’t I trust Muslims?” And they’re like “Because they’re allowed to lie about whether they’re Muslim.” That’s true, people say that, like ‘taqiyya’ or whatever. They’re like “They’re allowed to lie about whether they’re Muslim.” And I’m like “Really?” And they’re like “Yeah!” And I’m like “Are you Muslim?” And they’re like “No.” And I’m like “How do I know? Maybe you’re…” – Jeremy McLellan

(For a very interesting article on taqiyya please see Playing The Taqiyya Card – Evading Intelligent Debate By Calling All Muslims Liars)


Trevor Noah

John Kasich on the Daily Show…

And this is part of the problem. It’s almost like rooting for a sports team. You wear your uniform and you’re always for your team regardless…But this is part of the problem we have in the country. Everybody’s sort of dividing themselves. If you’re a liberal, you read liberal editorials, you watch liberal television, you go to the Huffington Post. If you’re a conservative, you do conservative television, you do Rush Limbaugh and conservative editorials. So people are all locked in these silos and we only consume what we want. Frankly, we’re all affected by it. Think about Facebook. Put something up there I don’t like, I unfriend you. I mean, we’re to the point where people are not listening to each other and being able to hear what you have to say and show you a little respect…It’s throughout our culture now. We have become so self-absorbed and we’re not willing to put our hearts with others. And we have to get this back. – John Kasich

We live in a society today where you want a bumper sticker solution or you take a pill and everything’s gonna be great, immediate. This problem in this country of growing divisions has been going on for decades. Decades. And we’re not gonna pull out of this overnight. – John Kasich

Getting together with common humanity can allow us to begin to talk to one another again…We need to drive the change up to solve problems in this country and recapture our culture…People need to live a life a little bigger than themselves, that we all have to help one another. – John Kasich

I do want to talk, just for a second, about faith. And I’ll tell you why I say that. I think sometimes people in religion have given religion a bad reputation. Let me tell you what religion is for me. Religion is: honor God because that gives me humility; and secondly, love my neighbor, connect me with my community, put me in somebody else’s shoes, learn to help somebody get up, and live a life bigger than myself. That to me is what religion is about. And if you’re a humanist and you want to change the world, I’m all for you. But let’s not throw out the fact that values matter and that we have a responsibility for what we have been given. And that gets back to the issue of no one’s better than anybody else. Because I believe in the eyes of the Big Guy, we’re all equal. And we all have talents and we need to use it to change and heal this world. – John Kasich

I ain’t that great a guy. I just do the best I can. Wake up the next day and do a little bit better. – John Kasich

HASAN MINHAJ – “LET THE MAN PUTT PUTT! KEEP HIM DISTRACTED!”

Hasan 2017

Hasan Minhaj is arguably the most famous Muslim stand-up comedian on the planet. His stand-up prowess has seen preform all over the world, as can be seen in the brilliant documentary Stand Up Planet. He has also been a senior correspondent on the American satirical program The Daily Show for a few years now, with many of these videos available on YouTube.

As a stand-up Minhaj is very, very clever, always on the edge of the here-and-now of politics and culture, and is never afraid to speak his mind by telling it like he wants to. Take for example the following quote that manages to relate 9/11 with the election victory of Trump:

For the past 15 years, I’ve been blamed for 9/11. White Americans are now responsible for 11/9. – Hasan Minhaj

Another example of Minhaj being brutally honest came on the 15th of June in 2016, when Minhaj was the comedy speaker at the annual Radio And Television Correspondents’ Association dinner. His speech was around 23 minutes long, and the last 5 minutes have a ferocious honesty about them that clearly left the whole room silent and speechless.

As good as the RTCA is, it is still however the lesser cousin of the bigger, bolder, and brasher White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, an annual event that is traditionally attended by the then sitting president. The last time a president missed the WHCA dinner was way back in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was recovering from an assassination attempt (a good enough reason I guess). Since 1981, however, every president has attended this annual event. They’ve sat there and politely smiled as some comedian or other makes fun of them for around 25 minutes.

As I’ve said, no president since 1981 has missed this event. Until now! Trump openly refused to attend this event weeks in advance, instead holding a rally of his own on the same night amongst his faithful in, erm, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Arguably the main reason for Trump deciding not to attend, other than his incredibly thin orange skin, was the announcement that the comedy speaker on the night would be none other than the Muslim son of an immigrant Hasan Minhaj.

The entire 25 minute speech, well worth watching in full, is shown below, along with a transcript of my favourite lines. Overall, Minhaj has received universal praise for the speech (he did receive an almost rock star like standing ovation at the end of it), but there are some who don’t seem to care for it:

Following the speech from Minhaj below is a clip from the Daily Show where host Trevor Noah and Minhaj talk of the ‘triumphant’ effect (or perhaps lack thereof) of Minhaj’s attempt at fully taking down the Donald.

Finally, another event that took place the same night was comedian Samantha Bee’s Not The White House Correspondent’s Dinner which, just like the speech given by Minhaj, is well worth watching. Anways, as always, enjoy!


Hasan Minhaj speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, 29 Apr 2017, at the Washington Hilton…

This administration loves deleting history faster than Anthony Weiner when he hears footsteps. – Hasan Minhaj

The leader of our country is not here. And that’s because he lives in Moscow, and it’s a very long flight. It would be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can’t just make it on a Saturday. It’s a Saturday! – Hasan Minhaj

I get why Donald Trump didn’t want to be roasted tonight. By the looks of him, he’s been roasting nonstop for the past 70 years. Historically, the president usually performs at the Correspondents’ Dinner. But I think I speak for all of us when I say he’s done far too much bombing this month. Now, a lot of people in the media say that Donald Trump goes golfing too much. You guys are always like, “He goes golfing too much!” Which raises a very important question: why do you care? Do you want to know what he’s not doing when he’s golfing? Being president! Let the man putt putt! Keep him distracted! Teach him how to play badminton. Tell him he has a great body for bobsledding. Play him Tic-Tac-Toe. The longer you keep him distracted, the longer we’re not at war with North Korea. – Hasan Minhaj

Frederick Douglass isn’t here, and that’s because he’s dead. Someone please tell the president. – Hasan Minhaj

Jeff Sessions couldn’t be here tonight. He was busy doing a pre-Civil War re-enactment. On his R.S.V.P. he just wrote, “no.” Just no! Which happens to be his second favorite n-word. – Hasan Minhaj

It is 2017, and we are living in the golden age of lying. Now’s the time to be a liar, and Donald Trump is liar in chief. – Hasan Minhaj

We’re living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth. And supporters of President Trump trust him. – Hasan Minhaj

It was all fun and games with Obama, right? You were covering an adult who could speak English. And now you’re covering President Trump, so you have to take your game to a whole new level. It’s like if a bunch of stripper cops had to solve a real-life murder. – Hasan Minhaj

Fox News is here. I’m amazed you guys even showed up. How are you here in public? It’s hard to trust you guys when you backed a man like Bill O’Reilly for years. But it finally happened: Bill O’Reilly has been fired. But then you gave him a $25 million severance package, making it the only package he won’t force a woman to touch. – Hasan Minhaj

MSNBC…you’re turning into conspiracy theorists every night. You’re like, “the Russians hacked our elections! The Russians hacked our elections!” Meanwhile, everybody in Latin America and the Middle East is like, “Ohhh! A foreign government tampered with your elections? What is that like? Do tell, MSNBC!” – Hasan Minhaj

I don’t have a solution on how to win back trust. I don’t. But in the age of Trump, I know that you guys [journalists] have to be more perfect now more than ever, because you are how the president gets his news. Not from advisors, not from experts, not from intelligence agencies–you guys. So that’s why you gotta be on your A game. You gotta be twice as good. You can’t make any mistakes. Because when one of you messes up, he blames your entire group. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority. And I can see some of you guys complaining–like, what? I gotta work twice as hard for half the credit? Remember: you’re a minority…And then, when you actually manage to do great work, you get hit with the most condescending line in the English language: “Hey, you’re actually one of the good ones.” Then you have to smile and say “thank you.” Kind of sucks, doesn’t it? – Hasan Minhaj


Hasan Minhaj and Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, discussing the WHCA dinner…

MUHAMMAD: THE BELOVED OF GOD AND GOODLY EXAMPLE

Trevor Noah.jpg

The brilliant comedian Trevor Noah, presenter of the American satire program The Daily Show, recently said:

There are some people who make religion look bad. That is what Muslims are struggling from all over the world. – Trevor Noah

One does not have to look too far to come across stories of Muslims behaving badly, in ways that would make the Prophet Muhammad feel ashamed. Over the past few years I have openly blogged about how Muslims need to change their behaviour, of how they need to stop making their religion look so very bad. I have also tried to blog positively about Islam, be it through links to scholarly lectures or stand-up comedy clips, or quoting from various books and articles.

Two such positive blog posts have involved quotes from biographies of the Prophet Muhammad. The first (indeed my very first blog post) quoted from the book The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography by Barnaby Rogerson. More recently I quoted from Tariq Ramadan’s excellent book The Messenger: The Meanings Of The Life Of Muhammad.

I guess you could say this is the third blog post in this unofficial series, as it features a lengthy extract from the book Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction by the esteemed scholar and academic Professor Jonathan Brown. Brown’s book, whilst concise, covers many aspects of the life of the Prophet, which is why it is well worth reading. It begins with the following:

As the founder of Islam, Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in history…for the past fourteen centuries, Muhammad has been the intimate companion of the believers. In the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, he lies buried in the earth behind an ornately wrought grill. Muslim pilgrims grasp furtively at the metal bars, hoping to inch closer to their Prophet. Their words ring out: ‘May God’s peace and blessings be upon you, O Messenger of God!’, an Egyptian man cries out to the grave. An elderly Indian man in a wheelchair struggles vainly with the guards and family members; he calls out to God to take his life here and let him be buried in Medina, ‘the City of the Messenger of God’. One man mutters emotively, ‘I am here, O Messenger of God. Are you proud of me? I am one of your followers…’.
…His image is inscribed in the hearts of the believers by the spirit of faith and bonds of community. He is a light kindled in a Muslim’s heart from a young age through family and education, regardless of the tremendous diversity of Muslim cultures and lifestyles. Like all light, the Prophet’s indispensability is only realized when it is gone, and Muslims’ need for it only heard when someone reaches to take it away. – Jonathan Brown, from the Preface of his book Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

The book goes on to describe various details of the life and times of the Prophet, as well as a look at what he means in the modern world. The main quote presented below is generally very positive, similar in many ways to the ‘hero’ quote from Barnaby Rogerson. There is however one crucial difference: Brown’s quote ends with reference to incidents where the Prophet ordered certain satirists to be assassinated.

Without going into historical details and analysing the fog of 7th century tribal warfare, what I would say is that each religion has to deal with its own harsh realities at any given time. In our world today Hinduism has to deal with the negative effects of the caste system, Christianity has to deal with child abuse allegations amongst clergy, Judaism has to deal with oppression of Palestinians, and Islam has to deal with groups like ISIS (and many other issues too numerous to mention).

Islam in its infancy had to deal with the issues it had to deal with, and propaganda at wartime was one such issue. The Prophet Muhammad dealt with this issue in the way he thought best. Let it always be stated that the truth can indeed leave a bitter aftertaste. Despite this the quote below overall is a good, honest overview of the character of the Prophet Muhammad. In the light of that endeavour, I hope you enjoy!


Brown Cover.png

Muhammad: The Beloved of God and Goodly Example

One Muslim woman in Medina lost her father, husband, and brother in the Battle of Uhud. Yet when the army returned from the field, she broke into tears of joyous relief to see the Prophet alive and well. She had boundless love for the man whom God had singled out with His words: ‘Indeed God and His angels send mercy down upon the Prophet. O you who believe, send your blessings and bountiful peace upon him!’ (Quran 33:56).

To his followers, Muhammad was ‘The Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets’ (Quran 33:40). He was the font of blessings and sole point of contact with the divine. God commanded the Muslims to obey His Messenger Muhammad, for he was ‘possessed of an awesome character’ and ‘a goodly exemplar’ for the Muslims (Quran 68:4, 33:21). Muhammad’s teachings, words, and behaviour were a living implementation and illustration of the Quran’s teachings. As his wife Aisha said, ‘His character was the Quran.’ Muhammad’s precedent and the totality of his lifestyle became known as his Sunnah, which Muslims believed was inspired by God – a veritable second revelation. As Muhammad once said, ‘I was given the Quran and its like along with it.’

Who was this leader whom the Muslims loved so dearly that they prized him above their own parents and children? Who was this man whom they venerated so clearly that they imitated his every action, how he ate, slept, and dressed (later people would remark to the Muslims that ‘your prophet has taught you everything, even how to defecate’)?

Muhammad was of medium height and build, with olive skin and shoulder-length, jet-black hair, which he often wore in two braids. He had a beard long enough that it could be seen upon his cheeks from behind him, and he had a slight gap between his top front teeth. He owned only two pairs of clothing, long blouses pulled on over the head, and a cloak to protect him from the cold. Although he was often presented with ornate robes as gifts, he gave them away to his followers. Like everyone in the desert, the Prophet covered his head with a turban, either black or green. He wore a simple ring with the inscription ‘Muhammad the Messenger of God’. Like his Arab people, he wore kohl around his eyes.

It was Muhammad who taught the Muslims how to perform their five daily prayers, when to begin and end their fasts, and how to undertake the various rites of pilgrimage to Mecca. In such rituals and practices, Muhammad preferred to adhere to the ways of the People of the Book unless God ordered some change. His Companions followed the Sunnah obsessively. Later, when Umar bin al-Khattab was leading the Muslims in their circumambulation of the Kaba, he stopped to kiss the black stone as Muhammad had taught him. ‘I know you are but a rock that cannot hurt or harm me’, he scoffed at the stone, ‘and I would not kiss you if I had not seen this done by the Messenger of God.’

In Muslim tradition, the devotion that Muslims should feel towards Muhammad is seen as a reflection of the magnanimity of his character. Even Abu Sufyan could only admit that ‘I have never seen someone who was as loved as Muhammad was by his Companions.’ To be near him, to hear him speak, was to draw near to the bridge between the divine and the earthly realm. Muhammad’s person was so imbued with baraka, or blessing, that to touch him felt like brief contact with God’s grace. Companions would fight over the water left over from Muhammad’s ablutions, collect his hairs and fingernail clippings. ‘Abdallah bin al-Zubayr, the first Muslim born in Medina, once even tasted some of the Prophet’s blood after he had been bled when sick.

Muhammad was infinitely wise, always aware of the virtuous course of action as a father, a friend, a judge, and a leader of men. ‘I have been sent’, he said, ‘to complete the virtues of character.’ He said that God had granted him ‘encompassing words (jawami’ al-kalam)’, or the ability to speak profound truths succinctly. ‘The best of affairs are those of moderation’, he said one day; ‘Happy is the man who heeds the lessons learned by others’, he said on another.

Arabs respected courage and wise council, and Muhammad exemplified both. He fought in nine battles during his career, always sharing the risks taken by his men. But he also knew the central importance of alliances, even with unbelievers.

His mercy and patience were inexhaustible. When a coarse Bedouin came to Medina from the desert and began relieving himself in the mosque courtyard, Muhammad’s Companions wanted to kill him for his disrespect. Muhammad told them to let the man finish. He then told the Bedouin, ‘The mosque is for praying.’ When he was injured at Uhud, the Muslims urged Muhammad to curse the Meccans. He replied, ‘Truly I was not sent to curse, but rather to call people to religion and as a mercy. O God! They are my people, but they know not.’

Muhammad was incredibly charitable in his judgement of other Muslims’ sincerity. His close Companion Usama bin Zayd killed a man in battle despite the fact that right before he swung his sword the man had cried out ‘There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His messenger’– presumably becoming Muslim to save his skin. But the Prophet rebuked Usama: ‘Did you split open his heart [to know what he truly believed]?’, Muhammad asked.

Muhammad was exceptionally frugal and pious. He never ate his fill of bread or meat without sharing it with others. ‘Food for one will suffice for two’, he said, ‘and food for two will suffice for three’. When Aisha was asked how he acted at home, she said, ‘He was a man like any other, he would delouse his clothing, milk his own sheep and tend to his own needs.’

Muhammad always mentioned God in his every action. When he ate, he would pray, for example, ‘Praise be to God who feeds us and gives us drink and has made us among those who submit to Him.’ He prayed for at least a third of every night, and fasted every Monday and Thursday. This despite the fact that God had revealed to him that he was guaranteed paradise. When a Muslim asked Muhammad why he continued to worship and fast so frequently, Muhammad replied, ‘Should I not be a grateful servant of God?’ But Muhammad was attentive that he did not set too difficult a standard for his followers; in any new situation, he would always take the easiest option if it was not a sin.

The fear of God and concern for his community weighed heavily upon Muhammad, but he was a man of exceptional good humour. One of his Companions said that he had ‘never seen anyone smile as much as the Messenger of God’. Although he instructed his followers, ‘Do not lie even if you’re joking’, Muhammad was not above a hearty laugh. When Ali had a spat with his wife, Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, and fell asleep outside his house in the dust, Muhammad named him Abu Turab, the ‘Father of Dust’, a nickname that stuck.

Muhammad never spared himself criticism. A man who was riding next to the Prophet during a campaign accidentally struck Muhammad’s foot, and the pain led Muhammad to strike the man’s leg with his whip. The next day, the Prophet sought the man out to apologize and compensate him with eighty camels. But if Muhammad felt that someone was belittling him in his capacity as God’s Messenger, he was uncompromising in his response. When a man accused Muhammad of nepotism when he ruled in favour of his cousin al-Zubayr in a matter of splitting irrigation water, Muhammad stripped the man of all his water rights.

Muhammad’s authority amongst the Muslims was two-fold: that of a political leader and that of a religious guide. Although Muhammad was ultimately the decision-maker in Medina’s political and judicial affairs, as we have seen, he consulted with his advisors such as Umar and frequently yielded to their council.

As a religious leader, however, Muhammad brooked no dissent. To break with his delivery of God’s message and definition of Islam was to leave the Muslim community – the testimony of faith said to become a Muslim was ‘There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ A Medinan man named Abu Amir had been a hanif following the religion of Abraham before Muhammad’s arrival in the city. But Abu Amir accused Muhammad of adulterating the Abrahamic faith, to which Muhammad replied, ‘No, I have renewed it pure and white.’ As a result, Abu Amir was exiled from Medina and eventually joined the Meccans. The Quran reminded the Muslims that ‘It is not for a believing man or woman that they should have any choice in a matter when God and His Messenger have decided it’ (Quran 33:36).

Insulting or attacking the person of the Prophet was an attack on the core of Islam and Muslim identity. Within Medina, Muhammad was merciful. After the Prophet was wounded at Uhud, the arch-hypocrite ‘Abdallah bin Ubayy had claimed that no true prophet could be injured in battle. When Umar and other Companions wanted to kill the hypocrite for his calumny, Muhammad responded that he did not want anyone to say that Muhammad kills his own Companions. Even the Jews who mocked the Prophet within Medina were left unmolested.

Satirical poetry, however, was a political weapon. In Arabia, poets were the propagandists in times of conflict. A Medinan poet named Ka’b al-Ashraf joined the Meccans after the Battle of Badr and later composed vicious satires of Muhammad. Muhammad ordered his followers to find and assassinate him. Later, the Prophet also ordered the assassination of a female poet from a desert tribe who was slandering him in verse.

– Jonathan Brown, from Chapter 1 of his book Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction, pages 36-41

DEEP STATE PUPPETS, GLORIFIED DRUG CARTELS, AND KARACHI AMBULANCES

Too Much News

Like many of us I try and keep up with the news on a daily basis. As each day goes by this endeavor feels more and more futile for two main reasons. Firstly, there is a huge amount of information that is constantly pumped into the digital atmosphere. Keeping up with it all is nigh on impossible. Secondly, there is a lack of genuine objective quality in most of the writing that I come across. It is therefore a real delight when I read an article that really shows things in a completely different perspective.

With that in mind I would like to bring to your attention 4 articles that I hope are well worth reading. The first is from the brilliant documentary maker Adam Curtis who provides his expert analysis about Trump and American politics. The next is from journalist Hiba Khan who describes who and what ISIS really are. Following this is an intense article from Samira Shackle about ambulance driving in Karachi. Finally we have American academic Nazir Harb Michel who criticises anyone who feels they can interpret Islamic scripture without a proper understanding of the nuances of the text itself.

Links are provided to all 4 articles, each one well worth reading in full, but in case you are unable to do that then I have selected the best and most relevant quotes from each. Enjoy!


Donald Trump Has Become A Deep State Puppet

Adam Curtis, Apr 2017, salon.com

2005 Tribeca Film Festival Portraits - 4/28

The truth is that no-one in America who is pushing for something to be done about Syria—the liberal humanitarians, the neoconservatives, the globalists in the military—has any real answer about who to support.

The truth is that we in the West have so simplified our vision of the world, into a battle between good and evil, that we now find it impossible to understand the reality. It was a process that started in the 1990s under Clinton and Blair, but both Trump and his enemies, the liberal interventionists, have inherited that one-dimensional view. It is dangerous because it ignores the realities of power in societies. And Trump may find he is opening the door to something very complicated, not just Syria but the forces that surround it—Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, all of whom are deeply involved in the conflict.

Basically, a right-wing president has been elected, and he’s created a brilliant machine that captures liberals and keeps them completely preoccupied. What he does is he wakes up in the morning, tweets something that he knows isn’t true, they get very upset and spend the whole day writing in big capital letters on social media, “This is outrageous. This is bad. This is fascism.” What they’re not facing up to is the real question, which is why did Donald Trump win the election? What other forces in the country had they, the liberals, not seen?

What Trump is doing is playing with the fakery. It may be instinctive. He’s saying things that he knows that we know aren’t true, at which point everyone gets locked into a game of what’s true and what’s not true.

Russia has been the Other ever since about 1951 for America, and then everyone tried to make it be Islamists. By about 2007 that wasn’t working, and everyone now seems to have switched back to Russia.

There are only two ways of changing the world. One is if you’ve got large amounts of money. The other is to use collective action, the collective power that politics allows you.


Isis And Al-Qaeda Are Little More Than Glorified Drug Cartels

Hiba Khan, 16 Apr 2017, independent.co.uk

ISIS Flag

Isis and al-Qaeda are little more than glorified drug cartels, and their motivation is money not religion.

Purported faith is just an excuse for terrorist organisations to take over the territory they need to monopolise the illegal drugs trade.

The black flags of Isis have become the latest symbols of Islamic extremism. Their savagery has come to represent what we believe to be a vulgar distortion of an Abrahamic faith. We’ve grown exhausted in our infuriation at the commitment of these people to sadistic interpretations of scripture, supposedly leading them through beheadings and slaughter, all the way to paradise. But what if I told you that their fury has nothing to do with faith? Terror is very big business. And I mean that in the literal sense.

Islam is a convenient label hiding the joining of two bloodied hands: trafficking and terrorism. Global gang violence has been “Islamised”.

Replace ideology with big bucks and a sense of belonging, Godly devotion with a disturbed, thuggish lack of morality and the conquered “caliphate” territory with a narcotic-fuelled gangland, and your picture of todays “Islamism” is a whole lot more accurate.


Terror, Shipwreck, Guns – 24 Hours In A Karachi Ambulance

Samira Shackle, 21 Mar 2017, mosaicscience.com

Edhi Ambulance

For decades, Karachi has been troubled by violence. This is the country’s economic epicentre, where Pakistan’s different ethnic groups come in search of work. Ethnic conflicts have been simmering since the 1950s, ramping up as conflict and natural disasters elsewhere in Pakistan pushed more people into the city. For years, a brutal gang war raged in the slum of Lyari, and as terrorism drastically increased in Pakistan after 2001, Karachi became a key militant operating ground. Since 2014, a bloody crackdown led by the army has brought a semblance of calm, but tensions bubble under the surface.

Pakistan can sometimes be a cruel environment, its residents caught between the dual pressures of poverty and violence. Yet it is also a place of great kindness, with a strong culture of charitable giving. Donations from what Edhi called “the common man” still power the foundation. It refuses state money, and has politely turned away donations from businessmen it deems “unethical”. It fills many gaps left by the state, operating a dizzying array of services, from homes for victims of domestic violence to food banks to a shelter for stray animals.


So, You Hate Islam?

Nazir Harb Michel, 14 Mar 2017, huffingtonpost.com

There’s a lot of upsetting stuff online about Islam and Muslims…I, like many Muslims, have grown used to the unceasing stream of vitriol directed at Islam, Muslims, our scripture, and our prophet. What got to me was the audacity of this individual.

We Can’t Reduce Complexity to Absurd Simplicity…If you hate something, keep it to yourself. Talk to a therapist. Don’t fool yourself into thinking Islam is fair game – hate is hate and it’s always wrong. Equating Islam, a religion, with ISIS, a terrorist organization that targets Muslims more than any other group, and everything it does is offensive and simply, factually wrong. It’s entirely incoherent, actually. It’s as absurd as saying “the KKK is Christianity” or “the Lord’s Army is Christianity” or “colonialism is Christianity”, “slavery is Christianity”, “the holocaust is Christianity”, etc. People’s claims to a faith tradition are not sufficient grounds for validation – all claims must be verified and ISIS’s claims to Islam do not check out. Every Islamic council, jurist, judge, and scholar, and Imam I’ve ever encountered has denounced ISIS’s actions as against Islam and abominable. If you find yourself saying you “hate Islam” and/or Muslims, and trying to justify that hate by claiming Islam is a “political ideology” or “an idea” rather than a religion, not only are you dramatically and emphatically wrong on all accounts, but you’re also reconstituting the exact same arguments that were used to dehumanize and then abuse and kill other minority groups in the past. Everything you’re saying about Islam and/or Muslims, literally everything, was said about Jews and Black people in the recent past. That hate was used to fuel and justify slavery and the holocaust. Europeans also attempted a genocide on Albanian Muslims in the 90s. What do you want to happen when you say these nasty things about Islam and Muslims?

You can’t possibly think that you’re right about Islam, can you? Of course you’re wrong. You have to know that deep down inside…You read the Quran? Which one? How many commentaries did you read with it? From which of the 77 [or more] schools of thought? Which contextualizing compendia of history did you read with them? Which of the top tier programs in Islamic Studies at Harvard, Oxford, Georgetown, and Cambridge did you earn your Ph.D.(s) in?

For ISIS, there are either Muslims who join them or there are Muslims who are inauthentic. Their argument is transparently self-serving and has no basis in any Islamic tradition. You anti-Muslim internet bullies, like the professional network of paid Islamophobic extortionists, operate on the same illogic: Muslims are either part of ISIS or they’re lying. A “moderate Muslim” is a secular one who doesn’t practice the faith and renounces the scripture and the law. Less than 1/1000th of 1% of Muslims ever get involved in militarism. Given the history of the (Re)conquista, the Inquisition, the Crusades, colonization, and the Global War on Terror, which has itself killed 1.3 million innocent civilians, it would be a wonder how more Muslims aren’t militants.

IN THE MOUTH OF SYRIAN MADNESS

Syria NS

The on-going civil war in Syria has so far claimed the lives of over 450,000 people and displaced over 7.5 million (over 4.5 million of these are fleeing refugees). It has now been raging for over 6 years, with no end in sight. God alone knows how many more lives are to be taken before the carnage will end. Even as I write this blog post news is breaking of another bomb to hit civilians in a planned town swap evacuation, leaving dozens dead, many of them children, which now seems to be the case on most occasions.

The sheer number of belligerents directly involved, their indirect supporters, along with the long national history of Syria, make it very difficult to understand what is going on. Who started it? Who are the good guys? Who’s winning? Who’s losing? Who do we want in power after it all ends? Complicated indeed.

Depending on your view point, there are many ways to analyse this crisis. I myself have tried to work out what to make of all this but, alas, I am still no further in understanding what is really going on, either on the ground, in the air, or in the minds of the main power players.

Take the recent April 2017 sarin chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. America is blaming Assad. Russia is asking America for proof of this assertion. Assad was at first blaming the rebels but now says the whole thing was “100% fabrication” by the west to make him look bad. Where do you even begin to unravel this particular ball of issues?

Anyways, as an attempt to try and understand things better, I have collated various short YouTube clips and cartoons that will, hopefully, present the whole thorny issue of Syria in a somewhat different light, a light that perhaps will change existing perceptions. The cartoons in particular are interesting in that they reflect the complexities of who is fighting, why, and which side should one choose.


Saturday Night Live tries to analyse the mind of Trump…


Syria Pool


The brilliant comedian Jaffer Khan on how a Syrian War Fantasy League could help us care about Syria more…


Syria Fight Club


Comedian Dave Smith on why arming Syrian rebels is such a bad thing…


Syria Bors


Comedian Lee Camp on the real reason as to why perhaps ‘we’ went into Syria in the first place…


Syira Side


Vox.com on who is fighting and why…


Is there a double standard when comparing Israel to Syria…?

A comparison of Bashar al-Assad and Benjamin Netanyahu


A brilliant analysis on how climate change may have been a primary factor in causing the Syrian civil war…

A few years ago Mother Jones posted a comic book by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche that looked at the conflict in Syria from an environmental perspective. It is well worth a read as it does seem to make sense.

Syria Spray


Bill Maher and Ana Navarro on how we are now basically bombing both sides…


Syria Shirts


When was the last time any of us were this emotional…?


Charlie Brooker’s succinct definition of how best to describe what is going on…

How do you solve a problem like Syri-ah? Syria is a hellish tangle involving a brutal regime, rival rebel factions, extremists, and vested international interests. It’s a civil war, a proxy war, an ideological conflict, and a monumental humanitarian disaster, all at the same time. Little wonder some want to treat the problem like a malfunctioning old TV: give it a bang [punches the top of the table with the side of his fist] and hope it sorts itself out. – from the BBC TV program Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe