Thursday, January 25, 2007

Holocaust 2007

Dear Friends,

The 2nd Annual Holocaust Remembrance is postponed till next year. Insha Allah, the Jewish and the Muslim communities will do it jointly and will invite other religious groups to join in. The whole world is one family, that is what every religion says, it is time we practice it. Initially we will be working and developing the concept of Holocaust to include all human suffering.

We hope over a period of time, people will be moved enough make a commitment that they will speak up when there is injustice, the least they can do is talk to the people they know. Justice has got to be for the whole world, what is good for one has got to be good for others. The Jewish community traditionally observes the day in April as Yom HaShoah, this observation is proclaimed by the United Nations.

It is our responsibility to cause peace and security for every human being. It is because some one before us has laid out a system that has offered security and peace for us. We know our kids can go to school and come home safely, we know that our family can go shopping in the remotest place in America and come home fairly safely (with exceptions). To have that balance in life, we have to return this to others who are less fortunate than us. Please join us in our efforts to create a better world for every human.

I will be out of town in Ann Arbor Michigan, conducting a workshop at University of Michigan on Pluralism. I hope to have the conference at least observe a minute of silence if not talk about it. Wherever you are, please honor the sufferings of all people, your people and the Jewish people in particular for the persecution they went through during the Nazi Holocaust Pogroms. At least in your own home, please light a candle and pray for the peace and empathize with the people who have endured the suffering.

May God bless us all with peace and good will.

Last years event:

More information at:
Mike Ghouse, President
Foundation for Pluralism -
World Muslim Congress -

December 29, 2006
To: The leadership of the World Muslim Congress
From: Elliott Dlin, Executive Director, Dallas Holocaust Museum

Re: Postponing observance of the UN declared commemoration of the Holocaust
At a meeting held in my office yesterday with Mike Ghouse and Bernie Mayoff, it was agreed that there is a critical need to offer more and stronger programs that will attract larger numbers of participants for the purpose of educating people about tolerance and understanding.

The UN declared date of January 27 for the commemoration of the Holocaust is a wonderful opportunity to unite a strong coalition of interfaith and international bodies in this community. This coalition will plan and will offer a series of major events, held each and every year, that will appeal to significant numbers of people and hopefully, will have a profound impact in this region.
However, to ensure the success of such an endeavor will require sufficient time to bring together all of the stakeholders, clarify the themes, agree on a focus, plan the events, and publicize them appropriately. Therefore, we suggest that the first of these events be held in January 2008, with the organizational work beginning immediately.

We sincerely hope that the World Muslim Congress will take a major leadership role in bring this vision to fruition.


The Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress are organizing the 2nd Annual Holocaust remembrance on Sunday, January 28th, 2007.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day residents of the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex come together as humans of all affiliations to learn to understand the suffering of The Holocaust; to develop an open mind and an open heart towards each other in the process of healing and repairing the world.

Peace is caused by each one of us, just as atrocities are also initiated by individuals. It is our duty to cause peace, to initiate peace and to work for peace. Each one of us is responsible to create a better world for ourselves and for human kind. We have to work toward the belief that saving one life is like saving the whole of humanity.

In 2006 the United Nations proclaimed January 27th as a Holocaust remembrance day to commemorate the greatest atrocity the world had ever witnessed. In support of that, the Foundation for Pluralism organized an event on Thursday, January 26, 2006 to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath as January 27 fell on a Friday in 2006. Information on last year’s event can be found at
Contact: Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916
Foundation for Pluralism & World Muslim Congress.
2665 Villa Creek Drive, Dallas, TX 75234



By Iftekhar Hai
Article Last Updated: 01/25/2007 08:42:45 AM PST

A SMALL NUMBER of terrorists have rattled the super power of the world.
The global war on terror is a war against radical Islamists, but some in the media have taken a different slant.

It spreads "Islamophobia" where all Muslims are targeted collectively. It has to be clear that extremists are the target and radicals are the ones to be taken care of. Not all Muslims.
Some think tanks and lobbyists have contributed significantly to the Islamophobia that affects the mental growth of Americans of all faiths. My grand daughters 8 and 9 year old are also suffering.

Many Americans did not like it when Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia and Dennis Prager of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council objected to U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison using the Quran to take oath in a private ceremony; it signaled a new era of promoting religious tolerance. This also means American Muslims must rid themselves of religious extremism too.
It is unconscionable that the election of one Muslim congressman, whose ancestors were brought in chains as slaves in the 18th century, should trigger a debate demanding changes in the immigration laws, "To decrease or stop Muslim immigrants to USA," because Americans someday may elect American Muslims to state and federal offices. One must faith in the American system and American people. Let them decide democratically not through religious discrimination.

Vested interests and a few lobbyists are busy casting all American Muslims in a negative light, pinning the label of "terrorism" to exclude them from ever getting elected to Congress. Muslims are easy to stereotype because dumping on them is fun, cheap and easy. They are seen as poor, powerless and helpless in all fields. This goes against the traditional chivalry of Americans.
The reluctance of good Americans to confront Islamophobic incitement reminds me of what Jewish people faced when the wave of anti-Semitism ran rampant in Central and Eastern Europe. I see Islamophobia as one of the branches of Anti-Semitism and racism lurking round the corner.

Several Internet sites associated with Neo-conservative organizations unfairly target Islamic religion and cultures without giving American Muslims an opportunity to debate.
Other scribblers of anti-Islamic slant have begun to cast Muslim-owned and managed businesses, such as the Islamic Development Bank, in the role of sinister malevolent entities, just as 19th- and 20th-century anti-Semites depicted Jewish-owned and managed financial institutions, like the Rothschild or Bleichroeder banks as forces of darkness and disloyalty.
I believe some journalists and Hollywood movie producers look upon defaming Muslims as virtuous activity and write articles against Muslims and Islam. And CNN and Fox News are constantly manipulating polls and putting up questionnaires where the outcome is bound to be anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic.

In a democratic society like ours, engaging in a debate is fundamental to arriving at the truth. It is un-American to collectively marginalize, demonize and to delegitimize American Muslims without a fair trial. Even their institutions and businesses are all suspect without due process and all evidence against them are held confidential. The Neo-Cons have become judges, jury and witnesses against Muslims and use the global media to spread the Islamophobia.
In other words, Muslims are all guilty without trial and due process.

If the American political leadership does not have the courage to stand up to those who try to normalize Islamophobia, our democracy will be lost because the enemies using the slogan of freedom and liberty will not stop with American Muslims. American democracy should never become a mechanism to deprive groups of American citizens of their legal rights and protections.
It is time for American Muslims to say, "Give me Liberty or give me Death."
Iftekhar Hai, President
United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance in South San Francisco.
Next week: Anthony McGuire

American-Muslim Dialogue

American-Muslim Dialogue

Reza and Dan have made some good points. American form of governance has moved away from (in fact, it really wasn't) from Secular to a pluralistic democracy. Where accepting and respecting the uniqueness of each life style is norm. I particularly like one statement below, that Muslims see the American Value system - that of liberty, justice and treatment of individuals on par resonates with the values of Islam.

Even the idea of interest on loans is more in tune for many a Muslims (not all). Islam considers that one of the ills of a society is charging interest on monies borrowed. In American system we have usury laws to protect the borrower from getting cleaned out, like wise the interest that was forbidden was essentially the excessive usury form of interest. Very few Muslims are reluctant to borrow money on interest, but most do, even if Reza's stats are approximates, then 6 Million Muslims or at least 2 Million households translate into 1.2 Million Homes. Of that at least 1.0 Million homes are on loans with interest. All of this is pure guess though. But the number of Muslims I have known fall in that percentages.

The Muslim assimilation is far greater in the United States, Canada and India than any other country in the World. The freedom of this beautiful country is contagious. Muslims in America do not hesitate in questioning the traditions, they are not afraid to question anything they read.

Reza and Dan are right - An American Islam is on the horizon and will fully emancipate with the generation that is born and raised here. Culturally they are fully American and may have nominal association to their heritage. The sense of justice and equality that is imbued into Muslims is really fruitioning here. Muslims will be the first line of defense against any terrorism. No one wants to ruin a good life or let any one mess with it.

We have to work on an inclusive society. We at the World Muslim Congress are driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah is Knows, Aware. Our mission is to work for a World of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed toward justice and equity to attain sustainable peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in truth.
Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.
Islam does not claim monopoly to heavens, although we hear otherwise by some fanatics. Qur'aan, Sura An-Nisa 4:40 "Rest assured that God does not wrong anyone even by as much as an atom's weight. If someone does a good deed, He increases it many fold and will bestow out of His grace a mighty reward."

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse

In a message dated 1/24/2007 9:50:31 P.M. Central Standard Time, writes:
Hi Mike,
Don't know if you had seen this .. . interesting for sure.
a different reference point by an American Muslim.
American IslamWhy Americans fear Muslims.By Reza Aslan and Daniel BenjaminUpdated Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 2:05 PM ET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------From: Daniel BenjaminTo: Reza AslanSubject: Will Islamic Radicalism Gain a Foothold in America?Posted Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 10:35 AM ET


One of the striking things about mainstream journalism in post-9/11 America has been the scant attention paid to the nation's Muslim community. There were, of course, plenty of stories on the many immigrants taken into detention after the terrorist attacks and on the questioning of large numbers of Muslims by law enforcement officials. But compared with the enormous amount of copy that newspapers devoted to the pederast priest scandals, the coverage of American Muslims has been seriously inadequate. Given the size and importance of the community—it's no understatement to say that it is the first line of defense against jihadist attack—the lack of reporting has been a dramatic failing of the American media.

There were a few exceptions, and one was a series of Page One stories that Paul M. Barrett wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2003. Those articles provided the basis for American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, a book that fills a real need and does so remarkably well. (Full disclosure: Paul Barrett is an old friend and former colleague.) American Islam does not give us the entire picture of what is going on among believers of the nation's fastest-growing religion. Nothing could. But through a group of seven profiles, it delivers a set of powerful insights about Muslim life in the United States and the tensions that are shaping the community—or, more accurately, communities, since there is a fractious diversity of Muslims in the United States.

As you might imagine, American Islam is a study of people caught in the crosscurrents. Some are trying to navigate between the roles of dexterous insider and outraged outsider. Others are trying to push their fellow Muslims to adopt changes that are at odds with hundreds of years of tradition. Others still are re-litigating ancient struggles—such as between mysticism and orthodoxy—in a New World setting. Several are trying to champion a tolerant, ecumenical version of Islam against one that seems increasingly insular and xenophobic.

In that sense, the book poses the question that really is the central one not only for Muslims but all Americans: Is radicalism going to gain a real foothold here?

Barrett's carefully crafted approach is a smart one because of the paucity of sociological data on Islam in the United States. We don't even know how many Muslims there are in the country; the Census Bureau doesn't ask about religious affiliation. Estimates by Muslim groups put the number at 6 million or higher, but these are truly rough guesses; as Barrett notes, the best guess is between 3 and 6 million. The number of mosques is also a matter of dispute, as is the degree of religious observance within communities. Trying to get a sense of the relative strength of different strains of thought among American Muslims is maddeningly difficult.

So, instead of giving us unsubstantiated generalizations, Barrett looks closely at the micro-environments of his seven subjects. Among them are a colorful newspaper publisher of Lebanese Shiite origins who is a power broker in Michigan's large and politically influential Muslim community, and noted Kuwaiti-born scholar Khaled Abou el Fadl, who challenged fellow Muslims to speak out against the attacks of 9/11, becoming something of a pariah. A chapter on Siraj Wahhaj, a radical-leaning imam in Brooklyn, traces the complicated story of African-American Islam, whose adherents compose a fifth of the country's Muslim population but who have tense relations with Muslims of foreign ancestry, as well as attachments to figures such as Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan that are shared by no other Muslims.

In telling these stories, Barrett exercises great restraint, avoiding the temptation to generalize on the basis of individual experiences. The book—which I thought was a great read—does not overinterpret, letting the reader instead, for example, hear the unadorned story of Abdul Kabir Krambo, an American-born hippie-turned-Sufi whose faith gave him an anchor in life but not quite enough equanimity to deal with the foreign-born Muslims (he was " 'the token white guy' " on the board of his mosque) who don't always approve of his native ways. Krambo's mosque was destroyed by arson in 1994. The mystery of whether the attack was carried out by non-Muslim Americans or anti-Sufi Muslims provides a perfect example of the complex tensions that plague Barrett's characters.

Among scholars of terrorism these days, the accepted wisdom is that a major reason no second catastrophic attack on the United States has occurred is that the foot soldiers of jihad are not here—at least not in great numbers. Many Muslims in this country may be angry about U.S. foreign policy, but they are not alienated from American society or values. They are also more educated than the national norm, earn more than the norm, and are not ghettoized, as the Muslims of Europe are. ("American Muslims have bought into the American dream," my friend Marc Sageman, the author of Understanding Terror Networks, likes to say. "What is the European dream?")

But will it stay that way? One of the most moving chapters hints that it will. "The Activist" describes the trajectory of Mustafa Saied, an Indian-born Muslim who gravitates to the Muslim Brotherhood while in college and spends his time at rallies where the chant was "Idhbaahal Yahood" ("Slaughter the Jews"). He later renounces his extremism after intense conversation with other Muslims, one of whom persuades him that " 'the basic foundations of American values are very Islamic—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, toleration.' "

However, that there are some extremists afoot is clear from a chapter on Sami Omar al-Hussayen, the Saudi graduate student at the University of Idaho who was unsuccessfully prosecuted under the Patriot Act for giving material support to terrorists through his role as a Web master for a legal student group. The members of al-Hussayen's Islamic Assembly of North America are, at the very least, addicted to some deeply anti-American rhetoric, such as the writings of the "Awakening Sheikhs" of Saudi Arabia, Safar al-Hawali and Salman bin Fahd al-Awda.

I'm persuaded that America's culture of immigration has made a huge difference in shaping the attitudes of Muslims here. But other elements in the culture—rising Islamophobia, especially from the Christian right, and ham-handed law enforcement efforts, of the kind Barrett explores in his chapter on al-Hussayen—appear to be eroding some Muslims' sense of belonging. And, of course, there is our presence in Iraq, which appalls most American Muslims, including the Iraqi expats who once supported the invasion. Which way do you think the wind is blowing?

I'd also like your thoughts on one of the central themes of the book—that Islam, or at least one stream of it, is being remade by its encounter with America. This notion appears in several of Barrett's chapters, including the one on Asra Nomani, the former Journal reporter, single mother, and author of Standing Alone in Mecca, who confronted her hometown mosque in West Virginia with a determined campaign for equal treatment for women. In your superb book No god but God, you discuss the "Islamic Reformation" and mention, for example, European thinker Tariq Ramadan's contention that the synthesis of Islam and Western democratic ideals is driving the faith in that direction. Does Barrett's reportage suggest something similar is happening in the United States?

In any case, the changes that Barrett describes are encouraging. But as I think he would agree, it is impossible to say whether the stories he relates are indicative or isolated. What's your take?

From: Reza AslanTo: Daniel BenjaminSubject: Assimilation and the Creation of a Uniquely American FaithPosted Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 2:05 PM ET


As I was reading American Islam, I was reminded of an incident that occurred last November in Washington, D.C., and got a lot of play in the American Muslim community. Jerry Klein, a popular radio host at WMAL-AM 630, suggested during one of his shows that Muslims in the United States should be forced to wear "identifying markers," specifically "a crescent moon arm band, or … a crescent moon tattoo." As one would expect, his phone lines were immediately jammed with listeners. Only they were not calling to excoriate Klein, but to agree wholeheartedly with him. One caller argued that American Muslims should not only be tattooed "in the middle of their foreheads," but that they should then be "rounded up and shipped out of the country." A Maryland caller concurred. "You have to set up encampments like they did during World War II," he said, "like with the Japanese and Germans."

Of course, what the callers did not realize was that Klein was joking. To his credit, he was horrified by his listeners' reactions, and said so on air. But perhaps Klein should not have been so surprised. According to recent polls, 39 percent of Americans want Muslims living in the United States to carry "special identification," and nearly half think their civil liberties should be curtailed in the name of national security. Roughly a third of those polled are convinced that the sympathies of America's Muslim community lies with al-Qaida, while a full 60 percent say they do not know any Muslims.

As a Muslim, I am obviously disturbed by these figures. But what I find particularly remarkable about these polls is that if the person being polled actually knows a Muslim, they are less likely to have negative perceptions of Islam. (By the way, I think that Barrett's estimate of how many Muslims currently live in America is low; more realistic, I suspect, are estimates of 6 million to 10 million.) It follows, then, that the best way to educate Americans about Islam is to introduce them to living, breathing American Muslims. That is precisely what makes Barrett's book such an engaging and important read. To my mind, this intimate group portrait of American Muslims is far more revealing than any of the half-dozen or so academic tomes that have been written on the subject over the last few years.

You are right to point out that the American Muslim community has, for the most part, managed to avoid many of the problems of identity and integration that plague Muslim communities in Europe. Barrett, like many social scientists, argues that this is partly due to economic factors. After all, the majority of European Muslims come from impoverished immigrant families, while the majority of Muslims in the United States are either middle-class converts or educated immigrants. Sixty percent of Muslims in the United States own their own homes. Believe it or not, the median income for a Muslim household in America is greater than it is for a non-Muslim household.

But as I read the individual profiles in American Islam, it became clear to me that it is more than mere economic factors that have allowed Muslims to so thoroughly assimilate into American society. (Maybe it is this assimilation that explains why so many Americans think they have never met a Muslim. Perhaps they assume all Muslims look and dress like Osama Bin Laden.)

Although Barrett does not press the point, I truly believe the ease with which Muslims have assimilated into American culture has less to do with economics than it does with America's long and storied history of assimilating different cultures and ethnicities under a single shared political and cultural ideal—an ideal we can label simply as Americanism. The Muslims who settled in Europe formed insulated ethnic enclaves cut off from the rest of European society. But American Muslims have seamlessly integrated into almost every level of American society. Indeed, they represent the most powerful argument against the prevailing "Clash of Civilizations" mentality that pits Islam against the West.

Finally, as a Muslim who lives in the United States and who has spent a great deal of time among Muslims in Europe, I can tell you that, more than anything else, it is the core American belief that faith has a role to play in the public realm that has allowed American Muslims to so seamlessly reconcile their faiths, cultures, and traditions with the realities of American life. Say what you will, this is not, nor has it ever been, a "secular" country. It is, in fact, the most religiously diverse and religiously tolerant nation in the world. In no other country—and certainly no Islamic country—can Muslims pursue their faith and practice in whatever way they see fit than in the United States. It is, in short, America itself that has made American Muslims so much more resistant to the pull of jihadism than their European counterparts.

This brings me to your excellent question regarding one of the central themes of Barrett's book. Is the Muslim encounter with the United States creating a new, American brand of Islam, much the way this country gave rise to new forms of Judaism and Catholicism? The short answer is yes. Just look at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, Calif., established by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American convert and one of the world's most respected authorities on Islamic law. Tired of Muslims in the United States being forced to import their imams from countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—countries whose values and traditions are far removed from ours

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Muharram - together


Muharram is one of the most sacred months for Muslims, and it is also the month of mourning. One phrase always echoes in my mind " Islam Zinda hota hai her karbala ke baad". Islam revives after every tragedy like Karbala. The Shia Muslims have many activities lined up to commemorate the Shahadat of Imam Hussain and let's join them in the commemoration.

I pray that with the commemoration of Ashura
  • May Allah guide us to seek a new beginning for Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere.
  • May this Ashura make us the torch bearers, the cause and reason for peace and justice.
  • May this Ashura become the cause for all Muslims to come together
  • May Allah help us bring peace to the mankind.
  • May Allah make the Shahadat of Imam Hussain become the reason for us to remove our differences and come together for peace, security and prosperity of Muslims and every human being.

Mike Ghouse


Dr. Mustafa Kamal Sherwani

Oh ! the son of Prophet, the saviour of men,
The sultry noon of the horrid summer,
When long back this day, your pious blood,
Fell to the soil in a ruthless way,
Haunts me like a frightening dream.

The arrow, so cruel that pierced the throat,
Of a thirsty babe who could not shriek,
The devilish hands that severed the head,
From your body, the holiest then,
Make me tearful night and day.

One could foresee through your pains,
We would learn a moral so high,
In chain would spring the countless heads,
To follow your spirit in the righteous cause,
Alas! Craven we are, could not do.

We lament your sorrow and cry so hoarse,
You might think, a creed has come,
To hold your banner in the benighted world,
To trim the evils as you did,
Alas! We are a smirch on your name.

Our talks are bold, our hearts are weak,
Our tongues are sharp, our minds are meek,
Our hands and legs are shivery all,
Make us man and give us a call,
Our hopes are shimmering in your grave.

Pangs of conscience ask me oft,
Why the flame of virtue is soft?
Why the sun of evil has its reign,?
Why our blood is cold when vice is hot,?
Are we on the brink of death,?
Summon the courage ,you all the men !

Tread on the path of martyrs, the great,
Else, the Last Day will see your awful fate,
Your abode will be the dreaded Hell


From Wikipedia
Muharram (
Arabic: محرم ) is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months of the year. Fighting in this month is looked down upon and is often put to the side in respect for Islam. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar.
The first day of Muharram is the start of the Islamic New Year. The
Festival of Muharram takes place during this month. The shia Muslim celebrate it in a different way in which they commemorate the Battle of Karbala and consider this a month of sadness and mourning. The commemoration reaches its climax on the tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashurah.
This is the day
Husayn ibn Ali, the grand son of the prophet Muhammad was killed alongwith his family members and friends in the Battle of Karbala. This day is important in relegions other than Islam also. It is, for example, related by the jews to the time of Moses when he crossed the Red Sea escaping from the Pharaoh. Sunni Muslims often fast on this sacred day. However, some Sunni Muslims do not even recognize this day at all.
This month of Muharram also has traditions which have no support from Islamic teachings. For example, the celebration of the
Muslim new year, and the partying and card giving, etc, associated with it is considered to be a bidah and even haraam to all Shia muslims because they feel it is a time to mourn and it is haraam to express any happiness.
Muharram is so called because it was unlawful to fight during this month; the word is derived from the word ‘haram’ meaning forbidden. It is held to be the most sacred of all the months. This month is most sacred to the Shi’a Muslim community and heavy mourning activities on the first ten days of the month are observed by Shi'a Muslims to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the beloved grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Some Muslims fast during these days but the
shia muslims do not fast as they consider fasting a sign of happiness. The tenth day is called Ashurah, meaning, ‘the tenth’, and it is a day of voluntary fasting. The shia just stop eating and drinking but do not fast till the evening. The Sunni Muslims also fast during Muharram and on the tenth day as recommended by the Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime.
The Prophet
Muhammad was asked: "Which prayer is the best after the obligatory (five daily) prayers?"
He said: "Prayer during the middle of the night."
The Prophet was then asked: "Which fast is the best after the fast of
He replied: "The (voluntary fasts during the) month of God that you call Muharram."
On 1 Muharram, the
Islamic New Year is observed by some Muslims.
On 1 Muharram,
Shi'ite Muslims begin the observance of the Commemoration of Muharram which marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala. Imam Husayn entered Karbala.
On 7 Muharram, access to water was banned on
Husayn by Yazid's order.
On 10 Muharram, the
Day of Ashurah is commemorated by Muslims as the anniversary of the martrydom of Husayn bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. But the Shi'ite Muslims attach much greater importance to this day.
On 25 Muharram, Fourth Imam
Ali ibn Husayn was martyred.
On 27 Muharram, Mesum was martyred.
The Remembrance of Muharram
Arabic: احتفال محرم or مناسبة محرم) is an important period of mourning in the Shi'ite branch of Islam.

Shi'ite Muslims in Bahrain strike their chests during the Remembrance of Muharram.
The remembrance marks the anniversary of the
Battle of Karbala when Husayn bin Ali, a grandson of Muhammad, was martyred. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The Shi'ite sect is the main sect that commemorates the death of Husayn ibn Ali by arranging 'majalis' (gatherings) to review Islamic teachings and to commemorate Husayn's sacrifice. The mourning reaches its climax on the tenth day, known as Ashura.
This event is observed in the first month of the
Hijra year, Muharram. Mourners, both male and female, congregate together (in separate sections) for sorrowful, poetic recitations performed in memory of the martyrdom of Husayn, lamenting and grieving to the tune of beating drums and chants of "Ya Husayn." Passion plays are also performed, reenacting the Battle of Karbala and the suffering and death of Husayn at the hands of Yazid. It is not a festival -- the event is the saddest event for Shi'a Muslims and it is a period of intense grief and mourning.
Many of the male participants congregate together in public for ceremonial chest beating (matham) as a display of their devotion to Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering. In some Shi'a societies, such as those in Bahrain, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, some male participants inflict actual wounds upon themselves, using knives or razors swung upon chains [1]. This practice is rare and viewed as being extreme and is discouraged and banned in some countries with significant Shi'a populations, such as Iran.
For the duration of the remembrance, it is customary for mosques to provide free meals (nazar) on certain nights of the month to all people. These meals are viewed as being special and holy, as they have been consecrated in the name of Husayn, and thus partaking of them is considered an act of communion with
God, Husayn, and humanity.
South Asia, a number of literary and musical genres, produced by both Shias and Sunnis, that have been inspired by the Battle of Karbala are performed during the month, such as marsiya, noha and soaz. This is meant to increase the peoples understanding of how cowardly the enemies fought The Battle of Karbala against Husayn and his followers.
Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica all ethnic and religious communities participate in the event, locally known as "Hosay" or "Hussay". In Indonesia, the event is known as Tabuik (Minangkabau language) or Tabut (Indonesian).
Many of the events associated with the remembrance take place in congregation halls known as "

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Women in Saudi Arabia

Role of Women in Saudi Arabia.
Princess Adelah, Daughter of King Abdallah

The men are same no matter what society they live in; be it Saudi Arabia or America, India or Algeria, China or Amazon.

You may have reflected on this phrase quite often “We give full rights to women”. That is patronizing. Who are you to give the rights? It is theirs to begin with. The good news is, it is evolving, and men are getting civilized. That sentence could have been uttered by any one of the men from the nations mentioned in the first line above.

We can dream of a civil society, where justice is paramount and her citizens; men, women and children of all shapes and sizes can walk any street, any time of the day or night without fear, with a full sense of peace and security. That is a vision and we have to work towards it to achieve at least part of it.

The interview with Ms. Adelah ( I would not use the word princess) daughter of King Abdullah is frank, blunt and sincere and I welcome it. Your comments are welcome; you can leave the comments as anonymous, with your name and no email, or name and email. The choice is yours.

Mike Ghouse

Women in Saudi Arabia.
Princess Adelah, Daughter of King Abdallah

Princess Adelah, Daughter of King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia: 'Saudi Women Must Be Given the Opportunity to Participate in Social Development in All Areas'
In an interview with the Saudi English-language daily Arab News, Princess Adelah bint Abdallah, daughter of the Saudi king, talked about the role of women in Saudi society. She said that "Saudi women must be given the opportunity to participate in social development in all areas," and expressed her support for women's employment. At the same time, the princess stressed that traditional values must be preserved.
The following are excerpts from the interview:(1) "We Should Keep an Open Mind and Borrow the Good from Other Cultures, Including the West"
Q: "What is the king's view on women's role in the development of the Kingdom?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "He is keen to expand women's role as active members of society and partners in overall productivity. I wish society understood his vision of Saudi women. He believes that 'a capable woman brings honor to her father, brother and son.' He is confident of women's capabilities as participants in society's development. He wants women to have a greater role, not because they are weaker, but in recognition of their efficiency, sense of responsibility and energy - none of which are inferior to [that of] men. Women are even better [than men] because they are prodded by the challenge to establish their worthiness."
Q: "What is [your father's] view on women's participation in voting and elections?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "In fact, I don't know. In my view, however, these are things which should come from society itself once it has sensed the need. Society should be convinced of the importance of women's role in decision making. If society does not feel any need for women's contributions, then such things will not materialize..."
Q: "What is your view on the role of Arab women, particularly in the Kingdom? How does their present [role] differ from their past [role]?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "The role of a woman is very important, whether she is a mother, daughter, sister, wife or a working woman. She is the one who manages most family matters. Her present role has, however, exceeded the basic domestic ones of the past. What we should do is derive maximum benefit from the positive side of this change and minimize the negative. At the same time, we should not turn a blind eye to beneficial ideas and practices from outside the Kingdom. "We should keep an open mind and borrow the good from other cultures, including the West.
There should be a process of a cultural give and take. Western civilization is indebted to Islam on several counts. The only thing is that we should be careful to take the good and leave the bad. Without doing that, we cannot progress. In the age of globalization, it is impossible to erect barriers. Let us take what is best in Asia, Europe, and America, and use it for the healthy growth of our society. "Our women have made remarkable progress. They are very ambitious as well. They believe that if they are employed it is a service to their children and dependents. Their belief that they can offer a better future for their children prompts them to take up any job."
Q: "What about the image of Arab women in the Western media?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "The Western media often presents a stereotypical image of Arab women. Because of the diversity of the Arab world, we cannot deny that such women [exist] in [our] society. Unfortunately the Western media ignores the more common positive image of Arab women. This is because media people [who] visit us [come] with preconceived negative notions, and [then [look for things] that support their misconception. "A journalist will, for instance, come and talk to me for an hour and in the end her article will have an unfair slant and emphasize only negative points. This practice prompts us to be reserved when talking to Western journalists. I do not claim that our society is without negative qualities but there are exceptionally positive ones as well.
If both sides were presented, they would portray a more realistic picture. "It is also a fact that we point out the negative sides of Western society, such as widespread moral corruption and family disintegration. At the same time, we do not note their positive qualities – punctuality, respect for other civilizations and religions, their hard work and willingness to sacrifice personal interest to protect the public interest.
""Arabs Should Not Be Sensitive to Criticism Appearing in the Arab Media... In This High-Tech Age, No Fact Can Be Concealed from the Public Eye"
"We Arabs are shy of speaking of our merits and achievements; however, since 9/11, we have been compelled to let the outside world know the facts in order to dispel the distorted [notions] about us which appear in the Western media.
The Arab media, on the other hand, used to give woman her due, though at times the negative stereotype also appeared. "It is incorrect to claim that there is no unemployment, administrative corruption and abuse of women and children in our society. These are evils found even in the most advanced societies. Arabs should not be sensitive to criticism appearing in the Arab media. We should not insist on focusing only on our positive aspects. In this high tech age, no fact can be concealed from the public eye.
Reporters from different countries are looking for information... The negative reports about women are advantageous [in that they] prompt the authorities to take serious steps towards solving the problems." "Saudi Women Must Be Given the Opportunity to Participate in Social Development in All Areas and Help Speed Up Social Progress"
Q: "What do you say to those who hinder the Saudi women's progress and [their] participation in the social awakening?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "It is not reasonable for half the population to be idle while the other half is working for society. That means the work will be completed in twice the time it should take. Saudi women must be given the opportunity to participate in social development in all areas and to help speed up social progress. ""Some Women... Were Disappointed at Not Being Able to Vote... I Told Them:... Any Problem that Concerns Us Can Be Presented by Our Fathers, Sons or Husbands"
Q: "What do you say about the claim that it is Arab men, not women, who make the call for women's rights?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "I don't blame women for this, because their social and cultural constraints do not permit them to voice complaints too loudly. Some people accept men's views on women's issues more than women's views. It is also true that some men do not like women organizing conferences to discuss their issues. [However], I don't believe that enlightened Arab men are afraid of competition from women. The main thing is dealing with the issues objectively without looking at who is presenting them. "Some women, for instance, told me about their disappointment in not being able to vote in the municipal elections. I told them it was irrelevant who raises an issue in the council. Let it be a man or woman. Any problem that concerns us can be presented by our fathers, sons or husbands. What matters is that someone should raise the issue. In my view, capable persons, regardless of sex, should [serve on] the municipal councils. Capability should be the sole criterion for membership of municipal bodies."I do not support the idea of a quota for women in Arab parliaments as has been suggested. There is no paucity of capable women in our societies. They should have the chance to serve without being impeded by a quota system..."
Q: "Women in every society are troubled by negative phenomena such as divorce, spinsterhood, abuse, and insecure marriages. In your opinion, what unhealthy phenomena [trouble] Saudi women, and how can they be overcome?"
Princess Adelah bint Abdallah: "Whatever the phenomenon, the first step is to identify it, enlighten the public about it and take action against it. This is how we have tackled [the issue of] family violence. First we acknowledged its [existence] and then we organized studies and conferences to find out how to curb it. We also formulated strategies to stamp out the circumstances that breed evils such as family violence, spinsterhood and misyar marriages."
Endnote:(1) Arab News (Saudi Arabia), December 21, 2006,§ion=0&article=90234&d=21&m=12&y=2006. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

Sharia Value

Those who want to understand Sharia, this is an excellent review. 45 Pages flew very well for me – Mike Ghouse, World Muslim Congress

"While Islam under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad brought liberation and freedom from human bondage and ushered in scientific, technological, economic and cultural progress as part of a dynamic civilization, the Shariah as it is being presented today seems to do (and probably promise more of) just the opposite. Why? In this essay, it is argued that one pivotal problem has to do with some fundamental misunderstanding about Islam and Shariah. The notion of Shariah has not become irrelevant, but it is now laden with gross misunderstanding and distortion, which must be addressed." Dr. Farooq

To better understand and appreciate the problems associated with the usage of the term “Shariah”, let us survey some of the prominent national experiments with Shariah. Dr. Farooq

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran
Malaysia, Indonesia, India,

Proper understanding of the notion of Shariah is now even more important than ever because the traditional view about Shariah is failing to meet Muslims’ expectations of Islam to guide them and solve their problems as well as harmfully polarizing the society toward extreme positions. Dr. Farooq

Sharia Value -

Sunni-Shiite split

The Quiz -

Islam's Sunni-Shiite split

A look at the historic divide within the Muslim world

Dan Murphy Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
To the outsider, the differences between the Sunni and Shiite Islamic sects are hard to recognize.
The five pillars of Islam – daily prayer; fasting during Ramadan; alms giving; the pilgrimage to Mecca; and belief in one, unitary god – are at the core of both faiths, and most mainstream clerics in each denomination recognize adherents of the other side as "legitimate" Muslims.

The Koran is the sacred text for both. They believe Muhammad was the prophet and that there will be a resurrection followed by a final judgment when the world ends.

Adding to the potential confusion is the insistence of many Muslims not to be identified as Shiite or Sunni, saying they are Muslims and Muslims only.

But, as recent events in Iraq and Lebanon have shown, the differences between the believers are not only seen as important by the communities but now, as they have for centuries, rest at the core of bloody political struggles.

While there are superficial differences between the sects – differences in prayer and carrying out ritual ablutions, for instance – the arena of conflict between the two has long been political.
The split between the two main branches of Islam is nearly 1,400 years old, and started with a fight over who should lead the faithful after the prophet Muhammad's death in 632. One side believed that direct descendants of the prophet should take up the mantle of the caliph – the leader of the world's faithful. They were known as the Shiat-Ali, or "partisans of Ali," after the prophet's cousin and son-in-law Ali, whom they favored to become caliph. In time, they came simply to be known as Shiites.
The other side, the Sunnis, thought that any worthy man could lead the faithful, regardless of lineage, and favored Abu Bakr, an early convert to Islam who had married into Muhammad's family. "Sunni" is derived from the Arab word for "followers" and is shorthand for "followers of the prophet."
The Shiites were the eventual losers in a violent struggle for mastery that lasted decades, a fact now reflected in their minority status within global Islam.

But while the civil war now raging between Shiite and Sunni in Iraq is sometimes cast as an extension of this age-old religious struggle, today's conflict is about something slightly different.

While religious differences are real and remain important, the breakdown over Shiite and Sunni in Iraq is about group identity as much as it is about disagreements over proper worship.

In Iraq, many Sunnis and Shiites who are not particularly devout are participating in the bloodshed, fighting to advance group interests.

"I think that Sunni and Shiite group identifiers have become more important in a lot of ways that are not essentially religious,'' says Barbara Petzen, an expert at Harvard University's Middle Eastern Studies Center.

Nevertheless, there are some key religious differences. Shiite veneration of the holy family, that is, the descendants of Muhammad, has contributed to a much more centralized and hierarchical clergy than in the Sunni world.

All religious Shiites nominally observe the advice of an ayatollah on how to follow the law of Islam, or sharia, in the modern context. For many in Iraq, this role is fulfilled by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Sunni Islam is much less centralized. In this respect, the differences between Sunni and Shiite Islam superficially approach the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant denominations.

Though a majority in Iran and Iraq, Shiites make up just 15 percent of the world's Muslims. Their history of defeat and frequent subjugation has also led to a cult of death and martyrdom within Shiism.

The major Shiite holidays celebrate the glorious defeats and martyrdoms of Imam Ali and Imam Hussein, Ali's son, as typified by the preeminent Shiite holiday of Ashura, which marks the slaughter of Hussein and his followers outside the Iraqi city of Karbala by a Sunni caliph in 680.

In Iraq and Iran, the holiday is marked by elaborate processions of men reenacting their own passion play, many of whom self-flagellate with chains to the beat of drums.

Such expressions of piety are looked at with disgust by hard-line Sunnis like the clergy in Saudi Arabia, who view the veneration of Hussein and other members of the prophet's family as a violation of monotheism. This view has frequently led extremist groups like Al Qaeda to attack Shiites as heretics.

The fact that Shiites have long been oppressed – first under the Ottoman Empire, later under states like Iraq and Saudi Arabia – has led to a strong identification with the injustices suffered by Hussein, and have lent a political dimension to Shiite worship. Ashura celebrations, for instance, were banned under Saddam Hussein, who feared they could lead to spontaneous uprisings.

One of the most important distinctions between Shiite and Sunni belief is veneration of the imams.
Most Shiites believe that there were 12 legitimate successors to Muhammad as caliph, and that the final imam, now called the Mahdi, disappeared when he was taken up in the arms of God. Many Shiites believe the Mahdi will return to earth one day and play the role of savior. A battle between the forces of good and evil will ensue, ending in a thousand-year reign of peace and the end of the world.

In practice, this leads to occasionally apocalyptic rhetoric from leaders like Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

• Staff writer Matt Bradley contributed reporting.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Burn the Burqa

Mike Ghouse Jan 14, 2007

Taslima Nasrin’s article has appeared in Outlook India magazine and is produced below. I am inundated with requests to comment on the article.

Taslima is a rebellious writer and raises her voice when something appears unjust to her, and that is the right thing to do, to speak up. As a civilized society, we have to understand the issues raised by a member of the society instead of discarding it.

When Passion of the Christ was released, a few in the Jewish community members were up against the release, claiming that it will increase anti-Semitism. When the Swedish Paper placed the cartoons their newspapers, a few created havoc around the globe in the name of Islam. When the movie water was released, Deepa Mehta was criticized for her portrayal of widowed girls going into prostitution, in fact the movie was shot in Sri Lanka as the cast and crew was vandalized by a few in the name of Hindu faith in Varnasi. President Carter’s book is out linking apartheid to the treatment of Palestinians in Israel , you see what is happening to him. Just for speaking out what he believed.

No society or a culture is ever perfect. These are the dynamic values constantly changing with interaction within and without the various societies and sub-cultures. Screaming at Taslima, Deepa, Mel or President Carter will not let the problem go away.

There is always another point of view. Taslima has raised some legitimate points, while some of the items she has mentioned have no basis for it.

Modesty is part of every culture be it Indian, Middle Eastern, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or American… any way you cut it, modesty is always a part of most people’s life and culture. No matter how liberal a family is, an Indian Hindu girl or an American teen would be asked (or told) by the parents not to wear the mini-skirts and go in public.

The American public has no qualms in showing kissing and close encounters in the movies, whereas the Indian threshold does not allow that. If Aishwariya Roy kissed every hero in her movies, she will be treated as a slut by all Indians, and neither Abhishek would have considered marrying her.

Each society has a threshold, a level of acceptance within. A Punjabi girl (Hindu, Sikh or any one) would be reluctant to show off her belly and bosom than a girl from other parts of the country. Even living in the United States , how many parents would allow their daughter to wear bare minimum and be in the public.

Within the Muslim families there are different levels of threshold, remember, it has to do with culture, more so than religion (I will attend to it below). You might relate with different levels of thresholds within your own traditions be it Parsee, Jain, Buddh, Sikh, Christian, Jew or Hindu. In my family we hugged every time some one is happy or sad, in some families they just don’t do that, there is nothing wrong or right about it, it is just a different practice and how members of the families respond to and accept it. The customs and rituals with your own in-laws differ.


Taslima has few qualities of a reformer and I admire that. Two years ago, when I was responding to her, I asked myself, how would my mentors have handled it? Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa understood that people just won’t change because you tell them to. Mahatma Gandhi did not order around people to change, instead he became a part of the people whom he wanted to bring the change, he gave up his western clothing and probably luxurious life and wore the simplest clothing that the masses can relate with and ate the simplest food that people can relate with. Mother Teresa did not order the volunteers to go take care of the lepers; she became part of the leper colony and brought about the change. Neither Mother Teresa, nor Mahatma Gandhi wanted publicity; they simply went about doing things that brought the results.

Taslima bombs herself out with her approach. She “tells” the women to drop or burn the Burqa as it is an instrument of oppression. No woman (no matter what faith) will reduce down the amount of clothing on her body because some one tells them to. My sister would not wear a mini-skirt even if I asked her to –even my daughter who was born and raised here would not do that, they are not comfortable with it. I can assure you, it is the same case with your own family. A woman who has worn the Burqa will not drop it or burn it – she will feel bare. If I tell you that I don’t like the way you eat and you must change, what are the chances of happening that?

Change has to come gradually, little by little. One must be comfortable with it; you just cannot give up what is part of you. Taslima fails to understand that or she is simply seeking fame by attacking other people’s practices. If she really wants change, she ought to consider becoming a part of the society and effecting the changes drip by drip.

Religious Angle

Qur’aan does prescribe modesty for both men and women, which is not the same as Purdah understood by Taslima. I don’t blame her for her misunderstandings; the entire Muslim community is waking up to the wrong translations of Qur’aan. Please review the power point on APOLOGY at . As the Bhagvad Gita say “finding the truth is one’s own responsibility” I will send her the 15 different translations of Qur’aan so she can take the time to learn that it is not the Qur’aan, it is the translation that has the problem.

Taslima challenges Shabana Azmi assertion that Burqa is not mentioned in Qur’aan and quotes the following verse. "Tell the faithful women that they must keep their gaze focused below/on the ground and cover their sexual organs. They must not put their beauty and their Jewelry on display. They must hide their breasts behind Purdah. They must not exhibit their beauty to anybody except their husbands, brothers, nephews, womenfolk, servants, eunuch employees and children. They must not move their legs briskly while walking because then much of their bodies can get exposed." (Sura Al Noor 24:31)
I don’t know she got the above translation, here is another translation of the same verses and I have included a few more at the bottom.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss .”

Shabana Azmi is right in her assertion that “Burqa” in its present form was not in Qur’aan. However it has become a part of the Culture, as Taslima pointed out practice before Islam. Modesty is preached by all religions – each family decides its own threshold. My sister or my daughter will never wear clothing of Karishma Kapoor and most likely your family follows the same guidelines whether you are a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh, or any faith.

The origins of Burqa she has quoted comes from a source that I am not familiar with. There are plenty of magazines and secret books written by people to demean customs and religions, you will find those books maligning every faith and religion.

Burqa as it is worn today is not prescribed in Qur’aan. Modesty is prescribed as any culture and society would. However, the practice has been around for a long time and for some women it is forced upon by their parents or husbands, but for most, it is their comfort zone and the women wear it of their own volition. We should resist and condemn any thing that is forced upon a people. However, if a woman is comfortable in a Burqa or Bikini , let it be her choice. It is neither backward nor forward; it is just their comfort zone.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, speaker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and FOX. He founded the World Muslim Congress on the belief we all have to live together and we might as well enjoy living it. He believes if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, conflicst fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at , and
Mike can be reached at
© Copyright 2007 by Mike Ghouse

By Taslima Nasrin

My mother used purdah. She wore a burqa with a net cover in front of the face. It reminded me of the meatsafes in my grandmother's house. One had a net door made of cloth, the other of metal. But the objective was the same: keeping the meat safe. My mother was put under a burqa by her conservative family. They told her that wearing a burqa would mean obeying Allah. And if you obey Allah, He would be happy with you and not let you burn in hellfire. My mother was afraid of Allah and also of her own father. He would threaten her with grave consequences if she didn't wear the burqa. She was also afraid of the men in the neighbourhood, who could have shamed her. Even her husband was a source of fear, for he could do anything to her if she disobeyed him. As a young girl, I used to nag her: Ma, don't you suffocate in this veil? Don't you feel all dark inside? Don't you feel breathless? Don't you feel angry? Don't you ever feel like throwing it off? My mother kept mum. She couldn't do anything about it. But I did. When I was sixteen, I was presented a burqa by one of my relatives. I threw it away. The custom of purdah is not new. It dates back to 300 BC. The women of aristocratic Assyrian families used purdah.

Ordinary women and prostitutes were not allowed purdah. In the middle ages, even Anglo-Saxon women used to cover their hair and chin and hide their faces behind a cloth or similar object. This purdah system was obviously not religious. The religious purdah is used by Catholic nuns and Mormons, though for the latter only during religious ceremonies and rituals. For Muslim women, however, such religious purdah is not limited to specific rituals but mandatory for their daily life outside the purview of religion.

A couple of months ago, at the height of the purdah controversy, Shabana Azmi asserted that the Quran doesn't say anything about wearing the burqa. She's mistaken. This is what the Quran says:

"Tell the faithful women that they must keep their gaze focused below/on the ground and cover their sexual organs. They must not put their beauty and their jewellery on display. They must hide their breasts behind a purdah. They must not exhibit their beauty to anybody except their husbands, brothers, nephews, womenfolk, servants, eunuch employees and children. They must not move their legs briskly while walking because then much of their bodies can get exposed." (Sura Al Noor 24:31) "Oh nabi, please tell your wives and daughters and faithful women to wear a covering dress on their bodies. That would be good. Then nobody can recognise them and harrass them. Allah is merciful and kind." (Sura Al Hijaab 33: 59)

Even the Hadis?a collection of the words of Prophet Mohammed, his opinion on various subjects and also about his work, written by those close to him?talks extensively of the purdah for women. Women must cover their whole body before going out, they should not go before unknown men, they should not go to the mosque to read the namaaz, they should not go for any funeral.

There are many views on why and how the Islamic purdah started. One view has it that Prophet Mohammed became very poor after spending all the wealth of his first wife. At that time, in Arabia , the poor had to go to the open desert and plains for relieving themselves and even their sexual needs. The Prophet's wives too had to do the same. He had told his wives that "I give you permission to go out and carry out your natural work". (Bukhari Hadis first volume book 4 No. 149). And this is what his wives started doing accordingly. One day, Prophet Mohammed's disciple Uman complained to him that these women were very uncomfortable because they were instantly recognisable while relieving themselves. Umar proposed a cover but Prophet Mohammed ignored it. Then the Prophet asked Allah for advice and he laid down the Ayat (33:59) (Bukhari Hadis Book 026 No. 5397).

This is the history of the purdah, according to the Hadis. But the question is: since Arab men too relieved themselves in the open, why didn't Allah start the purdah for men? Clearly, Allah doesn't treat men and women as equals, else there would be purdah for both! Men are higher than women. So women have to be made walking prisons and men can remain free birds.

Another view is that the purdah was introduced to separate women from servants. This originates from stories in the Hadis. One story in the Bukhari Hadis goes thus: After winning the Khyber War, Prophet Mohammed took over all the properties of the enemy, including their women. One of these women was called Safia. One of the Prophet's disciples sought to know her status. He replied: "If tomorrow you see that Safia is going around covered, under purdah, then she is going to be a wife. If you see her uncovered, that means I've decided to make her my servant.

"The third view comes from this story. Prophet Mohammed's wife Ayesha was very beautiful. His friends were often found staring at her with fascination. This clearly upset the Prophet. So the Quran has an Ayat that says, "Oh friends of the prophet or holy men, never go to your friend's house without an invitation. And if you do go, don't go and ask anything of their wives". It is to resist the greedy eyes of friends, disciples or male guests that the purdah system came into being. First it was applicable to only the wives of the holy men, and later it was extended to all Muslim women. Purdah means covering the entire body except for the eyes, wrist and feet. Nowadays, some women practise the purdah by only covering their hair. That is not what is written in the Hadis Quran. Frankly, covering just the hair is not Islamic purdah in the strict sense.

In the early Islamic period, Prophet Mohammed started the practice of covering the feet of women. Within 100 years of his death, purdah spread across the entire Middle East . Women were covered by an extra layer of clothing. They were forbidden to go out of the house, or in front of unknown men. Their lives were hemmed into a tight regime: stay at home, cook, clean the house, bear children and bring them up. In this way, one section of the people was separated by purdah, quarantined and covered.

Why are women covered? Because they are sex objects. Because when men see them, they are roused. Why should women have to be penalised for men's sexual problems? Even women have sexual urges. But men are not covered for that. In no religion formulated by men are women considered to have a separate existence, or as human beings having desires and opinions separate from men's. The purdah rules humiliate not only women but men too. If women walk about without purdah, it's as if men will look at them with lustful eyes, or pounce on them, or rape them. Do they lose all their senses when they see any woman without burqa?

My question to Shabana and her supporters, who argue that the Quran says nothing about purdah is: If the Quran advises women to use purdah, should they do so? My answer is, No. Irrespective of which book says it, which person advises, whoever commands, women should not have purdah. No veil, no chador, no hijab, no burqa, no headscarf. Women should not use any of these things because all these are instruments of disrespect.

These are symbols of women's oppression. Through them, women are told that they are but the property of men, objects for their use. These coverings are used to keep women passive and submissive. Women are told to wear them so that they cannot exist with their self-respect, honour, confidence, separate identity, own opinion and ideals intact. So that they cannot stand on their own two feet and live with their head held high and their spine strong and erect.

Some 1,500 years ago, it was decided for an individual's personal reasons that women should have purdah and since then millions of Muslim women all over the world have had to suffer it. So many old customs have died a natural death, but not purdah. Instead, of late, there has been a mad craze to revive it. Covering a woman's head means covering her brain and ensuring that it doesn't work. If women's brains worked properly, they'd have long ago thrown off these veils and burqas imposed on them by a religious and patriarchal regime.
What should women do? They should protest against this discrimination. They should proclaim a war against the wrongs and ill-treatment meted out to them for hundreds of years. They should snatch from the men their freedom and their rights. They should throw away this apparel of discrimination and burn their burqas.
(Nasrin, a Bangladeshi writer, currently lives in Calcutta )

A few more translations:

Sarwar : Tell the believing woman to cast down their eyes, guard their chastity, and not to show off their beauty except what is permitted by the law. Let them cover their breasts with their veils. They must not show off their beauty to anyone other than their husbands, father, father-in-laws, sons, step-sons, brothers, sons of brothers and sisters, women of their kind, their slaves, immature male servants, or immature boys. They must not stamp their feet to show off their hidden ornaments. All of you believers, turn to God in repentance so that perhaps you will have everlasting happiness.

Free Mind : And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and keep covered their private parts, and that they should not show-off their beauty except what is apparent, and let them cast their shawls over their cleavage. And let them not show-off their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, or their children that come after them, or those who are still their dependants, or the male servants who are without need, or the child who has not yet understood the composition of women. And let them not strike with their feet in a manner that reveals what they are keeping hidden of their beauty. And repent to God, all of you believers, that you may succeed.

Yusuf Ali : And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dublin Imam v fanatics

Dublin imam takes on the fanatics
A Muslim cleric is taking a stand against those who preach Islamic extremism in Ireland and think that the cult of the suicide bomber is noble Henry McDonaldSunday January 14, 2007
The Observer

Beneath a basketball net in a freezing sports hall, a Muslim cleric is waging war on Islamic extremism.

Imam Shaheed Satardien is taking a stand against those Muslims in Ireland whom he claims are too sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and the cult of the suicide bomber. At Friday prayers in the sports hall in north-west Dublin, the South African-born former anti-apartheid activist warns his multinational congregation against blaming other religions and the West in general for all Muslims' ills.

Cast out by the majority Islamic community in Dublin for his outspokenness, the 50-year-old preacher says he has received death threats. 'I am standing firm in my beliefs,' Satardien says. 'The truth is more important than being popular or living a quiet life. Extremism has infected Islam in Ireland. It's time to get back to the spiritual aspect of my religion and stop it being used as a political weapon.'

The imam from Cape Town fled his native country following death threats, he says, from Islamic extremists in South Africa. His younger brother, Ibrahim, was shot dead in 1998 following a row with Islamic radicals in the city. When Satardien was told he would be next, he travelled to Ireland, the birthplace of his maternal grandmother, and pleaded for asylum.
'I never, ever, expected that Muslims would come under the influence of extremists in Ireland when I arrived here with my family. So I was shocked to find support for Osama bin Laden, to discover the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood and even al-Qaeda here in Dublin.'
Satardien fell out with the main Dublin mosque at Clonskeagh, singling out the influence of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian born sheikh who has spoken openly in support of suicide bombers and issued fatwas on gays.

According to Satardien, al-Qaradawi's European headquarters is based at the Clonskeagh mosque in south Dublin. Its own website refers to al-Qaradawi and to Clonskeagh as the headquarters of the sheikh's European Council for Fatwa and Research. The authorities at the Clonskeagh mosque and at the South Circular Road mosque, the other main establishment in Dublin, angrily deny the extremist accusation. They point out that these mosques attract thousands of mainstream Muslims to their doors each week.

Satardien, however, is adamant that extremist Wahhabi sects have infiltrated the republic's 40,000-strong Muslim community, especially in Dublin. 'Young, impressionable Muslims in Ireland are being raised to think that suicide bombers are cool. I know for a fact that when the Americans killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq who died after an airstrike in June last year] there were prayers for him in this city. This was for a man who slaughtered other Muslims. What I am trying to do is convince the young people that such practices are un-Islamic, that there is another way,' he says.

Although his mosque is tiny, Satardien has attracted a loyal following from 20 nationalities of Muslims now living in Ireland. Haris Puskar, 19, fled from Bosnia to Ireland with his family while he was still at primary school. A victim of Serb ethnic cleansing in Banja Luka in the early 1990s, Puskar now speaks English with a Dublin accent and is an ardent Gaelic football fan.

'The imam preaches the same kind of tolerant Islam that my family grew up with back in Bosnia. He is a moderate voice against the extremists. I also like him because he preaches in English, which is the language I have grown up speaking since I came to Ireland at the age of eight,' he says.

Moshin Khan, a 35-year-old shopkeeper, originally from Lahore in Pakistan, agrees. 'I like the message this imam gives us. I don't like extremism - here, in this mosque, there is the teaching of true Islam.'

Satardien has applied to the local schools around Blanchardstown, which has the largest concentration of Muslims in the republic, to speak to students. 'I want to tell the kids from all faiths about true Islam, not the radicalised, false version they hear about in the media.'


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.