ALLAH does not change the state of people, until they change it themselves

24.6.14

Greetings, from Kashmir

I made a new friend. We met at the ninth batch of our online course Introduction to Iqbal Studies and instantly hit it off.

She is from Kashmir and that is one of the major reason
Source
of writing this post.

Whenever we end our conversations she always asks me to say her salam to everybody, and that means Everybody! I find it endearing. Nobody has ever made such a request of me. First I was shy, as to how to give her salam to the people in Pakistan but then the idea of writing this post, in order to honor her wish and to tell the world about her, came to me. Therefore, first and foremost; Salam/Peace to you, dear reader, from the valleys of Kashmir.

The most touching idea about this exchange for me is; she cares about us, Pakistanis. It brims my heart with so much joy and love, my heart expands and is ready to burst out with happiness. I could never know that somebody could love selflessly. For I have always heard people telling us that Kashmiris no longer like Pakistan, that we have failed them. This was excruciating for me to even imagine that they'd ever hate us or be despaired of Pakistan. Communicating with her sews my heart back to the hope that perhaps we have not lost all the battles, perhaps there is still chance to win them back and somebody from that sacred valley thinks about us in a good way and to this extent. Words fail me when I try to explain what this news do to me. I'd like to be her friend even after we are dead. For it would be an inconsolable loss to lose her for eternity.

I hope we go on loving each other for the sake of Allah. May we help each other in whichever way we can and we have more ways to communicate than just via internet. I pray that He blesses her and everybody in the troubled valley and provide them with Peace and Serenity. May her silent prayers be answered. May her wish for Peace rings throughout the world.

I pray she finds joy in her life.

Ameen!

22.5.14

Take Kindly The Counsel Of The Years*

The 9th batch of Introduction to Iqbal Studies started this month and I am co-facilitating it with my honorable teacher Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique.

This post is about my long journey at Marghdeen Learning Centre; first as a participant and then actively working for it. Interestingly, I was in the first batch of Introduction to Iqbal Studies in June 2011 when it all started. and at that time I had never imagined that I will be one day assisting my teacher run this very course.

I remember how I felt when I started studying at MLC. It was the first time I took up virtual learning seriously [apart from my Spanish online lessons]. I was skeptic of some of the ideas presented in the lessons but our teacher was ever so patient and led me to the point where I became devoted to that very idea, the city of Marghdeen. Looking back at myself in my fresh year I was unrelenting, rigid and well, naïve. Running this course with my teacher is proving to be so healthy, spiritually! It feels so good to remind myself from where I come from, to trace back my progress, the point where it all started for me. It makes me realize [actually it hit me very hard] how far I have come and the things I gained in this journey. I have been very shy initially and used to communicate very little with other participants. But now, most of them are my friends. And one man made it all possible; my teacher Mr. Khurram Ali Shafique, whom I will always be grateful for. He had been a very good example of compassion, perseverance, patience and love which is not very common in today's teachers.

The thing I like about learners is their enthusiasm and fresh curiosity. I get to learn so much from the present group. They remind me of me. They are adorable. [some are older than me but that doesn't matter. They probably don't know how young I am.]. I want them to have what I had from this course which made it impossible for me to go back to my old ways. I want them to feel the real essence of education, the things which should be learned and taught, not the rote-learning and cramming of unrelated knowledge which is the hallmark of our education system. The spiritual fulfillment, the dynamics of science, arts, politics, education; the applicability of Dr. Iqbal's ideas, the sacred nature of human being, are few of many ideas which I learned from these courses. And there are many things which are yet to be studied.    

Indeed, the frustration from our education system made me realize how badly we need the kind of education which is imparted at MLC. And I cannot wait for it to be a prestigious university. I am not afraid to claim that no institute can vie with MLC in respect of discernment of knowledge and excellent quality of education, the real education which is necessary for all of us regardless of our background. 

I hope that this journey never ends. And may I accomplish what I desire.  

"Let my winged days be not spent in vain." (Unknown)  


*Title is a line from poem, The Desiderata, which means the desired things. Poet unknown. 

5.5.14

Iqbal: His Life and Our Times



The mind of Goethe,
The heart of Rumi,
The message of the Quran.
This was the unparalleled legacy of the poet-philosopher credited with birthing a nation and a state, and at no other time has the world been more ready to embrace his ideas than it is right now. 


The story of his mind, and what he taught, as told herein from a new and compelling angle, leads us on a trail of discovery towards a new way of life. You're invited to approach this as a handbook for implementing his life-giving ideas.
The above-quoted blurb reflects the spirit in which my new book, Iqbal: His Life and Our Times, is being offered. The book is a tribute to Iqbal by ten sovereign states, since it is being published jointly by Iqbal Academy Pakistan and the Cultural Institute of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which is the successor organization of the RCD and now includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The international edition is being brought out by Libredux, UK, on behalf of the original publishers. It will be available from Thursday, May 8.

It can be ordered from the page on the Createspace Website. It will also be available on other websites, including Amazon. The Pakistani edition is hopefully coming out by the end of this month.

Much has been written about Iqbal but this book may turn out to be different (even from my earlier writings) because it presents Iqbal with a special focus on how his ideas can be implemented today - especially in Pakistan and the Muslim world, but also elsewhere - by individuals as well as societies. I have kept it less than 200 pages, so that it may serve as a compact handbook.

Until the book comes out this Thursday, I offer you following introduction written by two people for whom I have deep respect and gratitude.


Introduction
by
Muhammad Suheyl Umar, Director, Iqbal Academy Pakistan;
and Iftikhar Arif, Director, ECO Cultural Institute (ECI)

Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) is the only poet and thinker in the history of world literature who has been credited with the birth of a new nation and a new state. It is therefore very befitting that a handbook about his life and thought should be brought out by an organization comprising of ten member states. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI) is pleased to bring out this publication jointly with Iqbal Academy Pakistan.

In addition to his unique status in Pakistan, Iqbal also happens to be either a national poet or a household inspiration in several other countries including Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and India. In Turkey, his symbolic grave stands in the compound of the mausoleum of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. In the universities of Heidelberg and Cambridge, there are chairs or fellowships in his name. Roads, buildings and monuments have been named after him in other countries too, including Mauritius.

Iqbal: His Life and Our Times fulfils the need for a simple and reliable introduction to the life and work of this unmatched genius, highlighting the practical relevance of his ideas for those who wish to consider them for implementation. The author, Khurram Ali Shafique, is well-known in the field of Iqbal Studies. The awards which he has received for his previous publications include the coveted Presidential Iqbal Award.

The present volume includes many findings that are the outcome of the author’s original research. Of special interest to the general readers as well as the experts would be the evidence, presented here for the first time, which establishes a historical connection between the political ideas of Iqbal, the American thinker Mary Parker Follett and the Bengali visionary C. R. Das.

We are hoping that this volume will offer much by way of looking at the present times from new avenues.

It is shown here that the views expressed by Iqbal in his poetry and prose formed a coherent system of thought, and the same was implemented by him through political and social action.

This is to dispel the myth which has been preventing a deeper understanding of Iqbal’s thought until now, i.e. the false but widely perpetuated assumption that the ideas presented by Iqbal were either inconsistent with each other or they kept undergoing such perpetual changes throughout his life that they cannot be considered for implementation in any other time.

The system of his thought and its underlying principles are being presented here, perhaps for the first time. It is also being shown that in spite of its inner coherence, the system of Iqbal’s thought kept pace with the evolution of the collective life of his community.

This evolution can be studied by dividing the intellectual life of the poet-philosopher into three stages: inquiry, discovery and transcendence. The duration of each stage has been established here on the basis of biographical and textual evidence, and the book has been divided into three chapters accordingly.

Each of these three stages started in his mental life when his community adopted a new goal collectively. The goals, their relevance to the world and humanity, their implications for Iqbal, and his contribution towards achieving them are issues which are being discussed here in a fresh light. This may turn out be one of the most significant contributions which this book will make to the subject.

If nations of the world desire to come closer in their hearts and minds, they cannot ignore to learn about the ideas, emotions and visions of each other. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI), formed through a charter at the third summit meeting of the countries of ECO held at Islamabad in 1995, aims at fostering understanding and the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of its members through common projects in the field of the media, literature, art, philosophy, sport and education.

The present volume is being offered in line with this vision, and with the conviction that it is important for everybody to be informed about the ideas of Iqbal, since they may be counted among those cultural forces which have gone into shaping a significant part of our world.

This conviction is shared by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, a statutory body of the Government of Pakistan, originally established through an act of parliament in 1951 and reinforced through an ordinance in 1962. The aims and objectives of the Academy are to promote and disseminate the study and understanding of the works and teachings of Iqbal. The Academy has been translating its objectives into action and activity through a number of measures including publication programme, IT projects, outreach activities, Iqbal Award Programme, website, research and compilation, audio-video, multimedia, archive projects as well as exhibitions, conferences, seminars, projection abroad, research guidance, academic assistance, donations and library services.

We hope that the readers will benefit from the book which we are offering here jointly, and this will go a long way in achieving our common objectives.


Reblogged from: Marghdeen

27.4.14

Is America Really Our Enemy?

However much I would like to punch Haqqani in the face, I will stick to just facts and teach him some history lessons which he studied long ago and which American shine and glam dazzled out of his brain.

"Haqqani said that Pakistan wouldn't be able to fight USA". Not that I want to go on war with any country or I am a jingoist. Nor do I hate US. Yes, I don't like her policies for her fellow countries and I have issues with that. I want the problems to be solved with as much peace as we can work out. We need to act like adults and spare the world of the nukes. Thank you.

I don't know what made Haqqani say that. May be the war paraphernalia US has been able to acquire in all these years, or the courage of her soldiers or determination of her generals, or the money they have or how they have always been invading/controlling the countries.

I will just talk about 'how' Haqqani is wrong in his claim.

Haqqani must remember that the great Alexander was defeated at the hands of a mere raja of Porus. Any middle school kid can tell him that. Napoleon Bonaparte's great army crashed in the snowfields of USSR. USSR had to fall out of Afghanistan after almost a decade of nerve-wrecking occupation of the poor country. Don't tell me that US helped Afghans to fight USSR. if that is so, then how Afghans managed to contain the US this time? Who is providing them the 'arms' and other required equipment to fight ten times a great power? US has no way of staying in Afghanistan even after the invasion of more than a decade. US has literally bomb-flattened the country yet they are compelled to just leave the place now. The war-torn country will pick up the pieces on its own. Like always.

He forgot Vietnam, may be? Or how Colonel Chavez held his ground even after a coup d'etat? Did Haqqani forget, say by chance, that Chavez was back on his seat after just a few hours of the coup which was pulled against him by US?

Or the most classical example, no, in fact anti-classical, Ghazwa-e-Badr where 313 men were pitting against the well armed 1000 men but still the former won?

Really? Haqqani has such a bad memory that he forgot all of his history lessons or is he such a spineless coward that he just crumpled under the technology US has been able to build?

Or does he under-estimate Pakistan to this extent? If that is the case, well I am offended big time! Our own ex-ambassador has so little integrity for his motherland. Aghast. And he insists that "this is the reality we have to accept". I think Haqqani needs to study a lot of history for sure. Or may be, he is following the defeatist mindset.

I am appalled that this kind of a man represented Pakistan in US.  No wonder they don't hold us in high regard. They haven't met 'real men' of Pakistan.

oh by the way, he also should learn that it is not always about 'winning'. Its about honor. Whether you live or die, you do that with honor, integrity, dignity.

Is America really our enemy, What do you say? 

21.4.14

Workshop by SuperTec Foundation

My sister is looking for a good internship program these days and SuperTec sounded good. I went along with her to explore this world as an outsider and I must tell you that it was one of the best experience of my life. 


The environment was friendly. The participants had a chance to interact with each other as well as with the curator freely which made the experience more lively. We had the chance to get to know the individuals who are striving in their own unique styles for the betterment of Pakistan. It was heart warming to see such enthusiasm and hope in the youngsters to share with people what they know.

About the Foundation: 

Supertec was founded on July 2012.
 

Their Mission is: To equip the common people with useful technology that empowers them to be more productive.
 
VISION: Supertec Foundation is Advisors and Consultants to NGO's. It is our way of giving back to the world in a more organized way.

General information: 

Super Technologies Foundation was formed to help and assist organizations to adopt better systems, and software’s for better effectiveness of their work.
Super Technologies Inc., over the years has created many processes, software, and systems that we believe have helped us to be more productive and practical in solving the problems we faced, and Super Technologies Foundation is here to help other organizations implement similar systems, and processes, to become more effective.
[The best thing about them is:]
We did not want to start a new School, Hospital or NGo to do these, but want to make exisiting NGO’s and foundations more functional, and more efficient.


You can see more here: https://www.facebook.com/SuperTecFoundation

Attending this workshop filled me with hope for Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead on the road of development and nothing/nobody can stop her from attaining her goals. I am re-assured that despite of the ugly environment which is persistent in political scenario, there is a floodlight which is shining upon economic aspect of my homeland. Something is going good here. I am almost always talking about this group and sharing their plans with my friends and pray fervently that these plans come to fruition. I cannot wait to see a prosperous Pakistan where 'sasti hoge roti, or mehengi hogi jaan... Ek din ayega jub aesa hoga Pakistan...' Insha Allah! 

Until next time...

19.4.14

Why Do We Need Iqbal

“Nations are born in the heart of a poet, they prosper and die in the hands of a politician.” Stray Reflections.

 

Today we, the Pakistani nation, proudly boast of being the nation who was born in the heart of one of the greatest poet of world history. Dr. AllamaIqbal stands tall among the giants who go on living despite of having ceased to exist in the world. Iqbal is one of those people who personify the concept of immortality. After many decades of his death, he still lives in many forms among us; through his written work, his services, and his ideas. He is among those few people who are cherished and owned equally by East and West and his work has been researched and appraised by scholars around the world.

Today I am going to look into one of the many facets, which make him a legend. I want us to remember why we need him now and what he has to offer us in these trying times.
When I started studying AllamaIqbal, the thing that struck me most was the grandeur he attributed to the human being. He exalts the individual whose perfect culmination was in the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

The human being is essentially good and powerful enough to take down anything is his recurring theme. The fact that the person is capable of almost anything is mind blowing. I have always seen how people are treated on different levels in our society so it was very hard for me to imagine the equality suggested by him in his different anecdotes. I was awe-struck when a mere soldier of a Muslim army pledged peace to a deadly enemy [being unaware that he is the one they had to kill]. When his commander came to know about the pledge, he immediately accepted it and forgave the enemy on account of one of his soldiers.
Iqbal states that “man must be regarded as a unit of force, an energy, a will, a germ of infinite power, the gradual unfoldment of which must be the object of all human activity.”… The idea that the human being is endowed with infinite power and he has so many courses open to him, he can take whichever course he likes and make his life, is so empowering and revitalizing. It is a perfect explanation of the phenomenon mentioned in Quran, “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives.” Al-Quran [53:39]
He admits the flaws and limits in the human beings but he insists and proves that despite of these defections the human was sent as a trustee of God and that alone makes him special and trustworthy. There is also a possibility [a strong one] that in the course of his life a man is perfectly capable to get rid of the personality flaws or reduce them to minimum level.

He had an incredible insight. For example he describes the transgression of Adam in Lecture IV, in unique terms: Adam’s first transgression was forgiven [he was not sent on Earth as a punishment rather it’s a blessing and Earth is a dwelling place. But the point to be noted is the value of the human being. “That God has taken this risk shows His immense faith in man; it is for man now to justify this faith.” Lecture III
The status Iqbal re-asserts in his poems for an individual, his relation with his society and God was absolute opposite of what was/is going on in the Muslim Community. Those poems changed a lot of thought-processes in the community. The false humility and weak-spirit garbed in virtuousness had to end. He wanted them to realize that the fall of the Muslim empire was due to specific reasons and most of those reasons were borne out of the Muslims’ attitude towards their own lifestyle and thinking. The stagnation, dead spirit and most of all the despicable character of later Muslims were among the many reasons of the downfall. He reminded them that “it has always been Islam that saved the Muslims in their difficult times and not the Muslims who saved the Islam.” This implies that the Muslims need to come back to the spirit of Islam which is absolutely anti-classical. The core messages of equality, justice, freedom, self, selflessness, being true to one’s faith were all but forgotten.

Even a verse from him is not short of a miracle. After reading him, the person feels fresh. His/her vision shifts dynamically and he/she has the urge to do something valuable, to add worth to life. And Iqbal’s objective is exactly that; to make the person aware of their true potential. In his paper, Islam as a Moral and Political Ideal, he states: “Give man a keen sense of respect for his own personality, let him move fearless and free in the immensity of God’s earth, and he will respect the personalities of others and become perfectly virtuous.” The strong individual is one of the fundamental reality in Iqbal’s world and we cannot move ahead without giving it its due status in the society. The importance given to the development of a strong individual is so crucial for a healthy society that the interests of the existing generation are sacrificed for the future generation. In the course of time, we have neglected the individual and instead over-emphasized the objects. In our world, which is a stark contrast to Iqbal’s world, individuals are sacrificed in the name of law and order.
It is proven that when people took up Iqbal’s message and tried to gain that spirit back they never failed. Agha Hashr Kashmiri and others produced some top class literature and carved new ideals for the nation which eventually helped them to go through the most difficult journey of their life; Partition. For once, the whole nation was at one to dream the collective future. Iqbal made them dream in daytime.

We are always looking down upon our triumphs and talk about our glory wistfully, led to think as if we are never going to gain it back again. What we need most today is that same confidence, attitude of winning ourselves and the world, in short we need to come back to the voice of Iqbal which beckons us towards the glory of humanity. He always insisted that “will, not intellect” is essential principle for growth. His message is not limited to a single area nor does it get old. It is as fresh today, even after so many decades. He covers almost everything, as if standing on the vintage point. He points the reader to the right direction and motivates them to take the journey on their own just like the Simorgh. He would not map out the whole journey for you;that is not his style. Neither does he leave you stranded. He leaves the signs and signals on the way to reassure the reader and means to test themselves if they are on the right path.

We all wish for the change around us yearns for our country to prosper and unity of people but how many of us are ready to go through that change, sacrifice our personal interests, the petty/non-existential issues? Once again, Dr. Iqbal, our ideological father pointed out thatHe who desires to change an unfavourable environment must undergo a complete transformation of his inner being.” [The Lahore Address] Isn’t it unfair with Iqbal that we, his own people, are always ready to turn our backs to him when he becomes inconvenient for us to carry forward? When will we stop using him for our qawwalis, folk music and take him to the platform of politics, education, literature, science, religion? When will we start using him as our sword and shield against the corporate, imperial, colonial monsters? We need to seriously think about our priorities and walk the talk instead of just delivering the monologues of how great Iqbal was or what he failed to deliver. 
  • Islam As a Moral And Political Ideal. This paper was read by AllamaIqbal at the anniversary celebration of the Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam, Lahore. It was first published in The Observer of Lahore, in April 1909 and was fully reproduced in The Hindustan Review of Allahabad in its issues for July and December 1909
  • Muslim Society- A Sociological Study
  • Islam As A Moral And Political Ideal, 1909
  • A story written by Persian poet Fariuddin Attar showing the unity of humanity.
  • That is what I have been able to understand from studying his works.
  • It is a sequel of Allahabad Address. The Lahore address was delivered in 1932.


I wrote this article for the group, Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz.

24.11.13

Western Muslims: Prophetically Inspired Voices of Dissent


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This is a companion piece to the previous blog I wrote, called: British Muslims & their Strategies for Living in the UK (which can be read here). Here, I will discuss a few of the principles which ought to animate our engagement with wider society and our fellow citizens; and how, in the time honoured tradition of Abrahamic monotheism, we are called upon to hold a mirror up to society and help steer it away from self-harm.
One Qur’anic verse is particularly telling on this point, for it says: Thus have We made you a middle nation, that you may be witnesses over mankind and that the Messenger may be a witness over you. [2:143] Thus this ‘community of the middle way’, distant from all types of extremism; this ‘best part of everything,’1 has been tasked with the burden of being witnesses over mankind: witnesses to the truth of God’s Prophets and to the monotheistic message they each came with, and witnesses to the truth that a life lived in hedonistic pursuits will not bring about human happiness.
Muslims are called to witness that: Indeed We have created man in hardship [90:4]; that each day of our life brings a host of difficulties, discomforts and disappointments. We must bear witness too that while the monoculture teaches us to drown them out with drink, drugs and distractions; monotheism insists that our happiness is greatest when we face such trials patiently, stoically and responsibly: Those who endure with patience will be rewarded without measure. [39:10] ‘We shall indeed test you with something of fear and hunger, loss of property and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to those who show patience.’ [2:155] Adversity, then, is the non-negotiable fee that each of us must pay for the privilege of being born.
To be a witness is to be actively engaged. Isolationist policies that some Muslims have chosen stifle such witnessing. And who can be better in speech than one who calls others to God, does what is right, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims’, states the Qur’an [41:33] In another verse, the Prophet, peace be upon him, is told to declare: Say: ‘This is my path. I call to God, clear-sightedly, I and those who follow me.’ [12:108] Isolationism oftentimes leads to ghettoisation and to monotheism’s lights being veiled from reaching others. The call need not be verbal: ‘actions speak louder than words’, and doing what is right has a greater impact on hearts than words alone. Debating the correctness of tawhid over shirk undeniably has its place and can help win arguments. But the conviction of tawhid lived out in a life of prayer, piety, charity, service and sacrifice tends to have a decisive edge in softening souls and inviting intellects.
Let us also recall that the uncompromising monotheism of God’s Prophets, peace be upon them, didn’t arise in the wilderness, or away from centres of civilisation or civic life. We only sent before you men to whom We reveal, of the people of the towns. [12:109] Some Prophets may have been driven to the wilderness, exiled there, or taken refuge there for a while. A few have felt the need to head for the hills for a time. But the core of their call was decisively urban and city-centred.
Prophetic cries from the wilderness there have been. But Prophets offer us something practicable and liveable; something people may actualise in their urban worlds which would help them to be recognisably human and spiritual. Along with an unflinching monotheism, the history of the great monotheistic epics were rooted in impassioned protests against corruption, tyranny, social iniquity or ‘the privilege and arrogance of power, whether that of kings as in the Hebrew bible, or the Roman Empire as in the Gospels, or a tribal elite as in the Quran.’2 Historical records show that what we now refer to as the drive for social justice was the idealistic underpinning of monotheistic faith. Such is the energy of the monotheistic call and the prophetically-inspired voices of dissent. Opium of the people? Nothing was ever less an opiate than a monotheistic religion of sacred discontent and dissatisfaction with the status quo.

So what are we Muslims to be or to do here in the West; in the place where most of us call home? What is it that we can offer? We can’t be mere armchair critics of society, that’s for sure; nor can we continue to moan from the fringes. We could, I suppose, settle as comfortably as possible into the consumerist culture and live our lives mostly for material pursuits. But that would be to shirk away from the commitment we have made to Abrahamic monotheism, to la ilaha ila’Llah, and ignore the demands it makes on us in terms of working for a more just, compassionate and ethical society.
We could, as some of us do, wallow in self pity and a culture of blame, accusing others for our woes and predicament, unable to move beyond past grievances. But that is to be ignorant of faith and the sense of personal responsibility, empowerment, hope and optimism that the monotheistic belief injects into individuals. ‘Monotheism makes a difference to what we believe and do,’3 and to the way we see our lives unfold and our responses to it. It is impossible to be moved by the prophetic call and not have a social conscience. Their message, delivered in the name of God, is: worship God alone, and take responsibility. For the world will not get better of its own accord.
We could opt for a browbeaten facsimile of monotheism, having nothing to say about our ever-growing social ills or the downwards spiral of spiritual decadence; content to pander to corporate agendas and the money markets; desperate to confine religion to the home, vexed whenever it enters the public space; servile to the monoculture; and in homage to the modern liberal state. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop, says that ‘the liberal Christian approach assumes that the business of Christian commitment is not to produce lives that participate in the holiness of Christ so much as lives that can be lived with a fairly easy conscience within the arrangement of the modern state.’4 Theology aside, the above applies equally to Muslim liberals as it does Christian ones; those who see the Qur’an as little more than a social manifesto which wholeheartedly endorses the liberal orthodoxies of our age. A privatisation of religion, no doubt; but a publicisation of a shameless defeatism too.
As explained before, Islam’s monotheism calls upon us to be witnesses; it equally calls upon us to be healers too: We send the Messengers only to bring good news and to warn. So those who believe and set things aright, no fear shall come upon them and nor shall they grieve. [6:48] This setting things aright; this healing, rings out in the next passage too: Have you seen him who denies the religion? Such is he who repels the orphan and who does not urge others to feed the poor. [107:1-2] This monotheistic spirit of healing has been eloquently expressed by Britain’s former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who writes: ‘We are here to make a difference, to mend the fractures of the world, a day at a time, an act at a time, for as long as it takes to make it a place of justice and compassion where the lonely are not alone, the poor not without help; where the cry of the vulnerable is heeded and those who are wronged are heard.’5
Monotheism undoubtedly urges compassion, but it demands courage too. It is not for the faint-hearted. For as its vision of the world inspires us to partake in the healing of society’s many wounds, it exhorts we be critical iconoclasts too: questioning society’s conventional wisdoms, challenging the secular orthodoxies of the age, speaking truth to power, calling into question whether universal human rights are actually universal, and interrogating liberalism to find out if it is merely a sophisticated veneer for a new type of totalitarianism that is unable to accept any true and meaningful diversity and unwilling to accommodate any significant voices of dissent.
In short: monotheism urges we be part of society, yet apart from society. That we heal and we dissent. An apparent paradox? Monotheism’s vision is very much about how to square such paradoxical circles.
Abdal Hakim Murad spoke of the need for Muslims to square the proverbial circle in these terms: ‘The challenge of modern Muslimness is to combine a confident dissent from the global culture with a sense of service and humility. Triumphalism is no less damaging to the soul than an inferiority complex. Where loyalty is for God, and love is for what humanity has been called to become, the believer can combine pity for the monoculture’s shrunken victims with gratitude for God’s guidance.’6
As to the rather tiresome question of whether or not Muslims can truly be at home in the West, then this is answered by the great bulk of ordinary mosque-going Western Muslims with a resounding “yes”. Millions of Muslims who live in the West continue to demonstrate that they are, with different degrees of accommodation, at home with the realities of life in the West. Those bread and butter issues which concern Western Muslims are concerns for everyone else too. Their specific challenge, however, is how to remain conscientious believers whilst being responsible, law-abiding citizens. Thus we need a theory to shore up the practice, and that theory must have at its centre the idea of Muslims being: shuhada ‘ala’l-nas – “witnesses over mankind”.
The hubris of the secular humanist system has placed undue strain upon life on earth. The urgent need from Muslims, therefore, is dignified dissent from the monoculture. But these prophetically-inspired voices of dissent must be infused with great wisdom, sacrifice, service and humility.
Wa’Llahu wali al-tawfiq.

Originally published at: The Humble I

10.7.13

Welcome To Ramadan

Indonesian Muslim women prepare to attend prayers marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan at Parangkusumo beach outside Yogyakarta

Ibn Rajab writes (in verse form):

‘O you who were not content to sin just in Rajab;
But disobeyed your Lord, even in Sha‘ban.
The fasting month has come now to shade you,
Turn it not into a month of sinfulness too.
Recite the Qur’an and glorify God, diligently;
For it is the month of glorification and Qur’an.
Deny bodily appetites, seeking salvation through it;
For soon bodies shall be consumed by the Fire.
How many you knew who fasted previously:
From among family, neighbours and brothers.
Death obliterated them, leaving you to live on;
How close are the the living to those who are dead.
You take pride in your Id clothes, cut to fit;
Yet the morrow they will be your burial shrouds!
Until when will man dwell in his place of dwelling?
Knowing his ultimate abode is the grave.’1

1. Lata’if al-Ma‘arif (Riyadh: Dar Ibn Khuzaymah, 2007), 351-2.

9.7.13

Ramadan, Resistance & The New Brave World

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The following piece was first published on this blog, on 28th August, 2012. It has been edited and republished at www.islamicate.co.uk and reposted here with kind permission.
There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self,’ said Aldous Huxley, the English novelist best known for his dystopian novel, Brave New World.
In his exploration of the dilemmas confronting modern man – the rise of capitalism, the dehumanising demands of technology and progress and the cult of self-worship and instant gratification – Huxley hits on many truisms in his chilling forecasts to the modern world.
This month will see Muslims the world over observe the fasts of Ramadan. Ramadan, essentially, is the month in which believers are required to buckle down more consciously and improve their own ‘corner of the universe.’ The month is marked by heightened religious observance and also a keener sense of social cohesion, and provides a powerful energy for self-transformation. As the month progresses, many Muslims, repentant for the ills and misdeeds of their past, resolving never to return to such ways again. Indeed, men, women and whole societies actively purify themselves during this month. This experience becomes, for many, the turning point of the year and, for some, their whole lives. Furthermore, Ramadan yields to the believer an array of timely lessons to help steer them through what is fast becoming a chaotic and volatile world.
Let me touch upon three such lessons:

Undoubtedly, the principle lesson of Ramadan is learning to be more God-conscious, which is related to the sense of ta‘zim - ”reverence” or “veneration”. Ramadan is a call to renew our reverence of God by venerating the Divine commands and respecting their limits (hudud). The regime of fasting sets certain limits which, though designed to facilitate our detachment from the dunya or lower world, and also from the nafs, the ego, it is ultimately about offering believers an opportunity to revere and remember God more fully and faithfully.

Another of Ramadan’s recurring lessons is that of restraint. By temporarily denying themselves instant gratification while fasting, Muslims are taught self-restraint. Here we confront Islam as counter-culture. For what could be more unmodern than to keep the cravings of the nafs in check. Modernity is about pandering to the nafs. “Free yourself”, “Be yourself”, “Indulge yourself”, is modernity’s holy trinity.
Our current climate is one where Muslims find themselves under constant scrutiny, criticism or attack. Hardly a day goes by, in the media or the world at large, without Islam being fair game. Yet for believers, the self-restraint exercised in Ramadan is the very same restraint we must demonstrate in the face of all such provocations. The Qur’an asserts: You shall certainly hear much that is hurtful from those who were given the Book before you, and from the idolaters. But if you are patient and God-conscious, these are weighty factors in all affairs.[3:186]

Ramadan also teaches us responsibility – particularly to the world’s poor and hungry. For by the end of a day’s fast, Muslims usually experience some sensation of hunger. Thus we are awakened, in a most direct manner, to the plight of hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings who suffer hunger and starvation every day. This should compel us to extend to them our help and support. In a world filled with grotesque human inequalities, and soaked in the unholiness of poverty, we must each commit ourselves to eliminating this global injustice.
This year, the academic year ends midway through Ramadan. As schools up and down the country wind-up the task of grounding pupils in the Three R’s (reading, writing & arithmetic), Ramadan offers its own Three R’s: reverence, restraint and responsibility. Internalising such lessons best prepares believers to engage the brave new world of the Monoculture and help bring about its much needed healing.
Wa bi’Llahi’l-tawfiq

Originally posted at: The Humble I

6.6.13

Guidance Regarding The Celebration Of Lailat-ul-Miraj On 27th of Rajab

By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (db)

Extracted from The Month of Rajab, Part 1 & Part 2

Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ashhur-al-hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم  .

It is also deemed to be a prelude to the month of Ramadan, because the month Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم  sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to pray Allah in the following words:

اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان

O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life upto Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).

Although the month of Rajab has aforesaid merits, yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari’ah in this month. However, some people have invented some special rituals or practices in this month which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari’ah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the correct position about them.

 Celebration of Lailat-ul-Mi’raj

It is generally believed that the great event of Mi’raj (ascension of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم to the heavens) took place in the night of 27th of Rajab. Therefore, some people celebrate the night as “Lailat-ul-Mi’raj” (the night of ascension to heavens).

Indeed, the event of Mi’raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم. He was called by Almighty Allah. He traveled from Makkah to Bait-ul-Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the miraculous power of Allah. He was honoured with a direct contact with his Creator at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honour conferred by Allah to the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم alone. It was the climax of the spiritual progress which is not attained by anybody except him. No doubt the night in which he was blessed with this unparalleled honour was one of the great nights in the history of this world.

But, as we have explained in our discussion about the month of Rabi’ul-awwal, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم did not prescribe any festival or any celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been. Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid-ul-Adha. Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great ‘ibadah (worship) every year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while Eid-ul-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj annually. None of these two eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past which has happened in these dates. This approach is indicative of the fact that the real occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators themselves have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort. As for the accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be restricted to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be remembered every day in the practical life by observing their teachings and following the great examples they have set for us.

Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with regard to the “Lailatul-mi’raj”:

(1) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of Mi’raj had taken place. Although some traditions relate this event to 27th night of the month of Rajab, yet there are other traditions which suggest some other dates. Al-Zurqani, the famous biographer of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم, has referred to five different views in this respect: Rabi’-ul-awwal, Rabi’-ul-’akhir, Rajab, Ramadan and Shawwal. Later, while discussing different traditions, he has added a sixth opinion, that the Mi’raj took place in the month of Zulhijjah.

Allamah Abdulhaq Muhaddith Dehlawi, the well-known scholar of the Indian sub-continent, has written a detailed book on the merits of Islamic months. While discussing the Lailat-ul-Mi’raj he has mentioned that most of the scholars are of the view that the event of Mi’raj took place in the month of Ramadan or in Rabi’ul-awwal.

(2) It is also not certainly known in which year the event of Mi’raj had taken place. There are a number of views mentioned in the books of history which suggest a wide range between the fifth-year and the twelfth year after the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم was entrusted with Prophethood.

Now, if it is assumed that the event of Miraj took place in the fifth year of his Prophethood, it will mean that the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم remained in this world for eighteen years after this event. Even if it is presumed that the Mi’raj took place in the twelfth year of his Prophehood, his remaining life-time after this event would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range between eleven years and eighteen years, the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم never celebrated the event of Mi’raj, nor did he give any instruction about it. No one can prove that the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night calling it the “Lailatul-Mi’raj” or advised his followers to commemorate the event in a particular manner.

(3) After the demise of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم also, no one of his companions is reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They were the true lovers of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم and had devoted their lives to preserve every minute detail of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم and other Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of Mi’raj in a particular night in a particular way.

All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night of Rajab, being the Lailat-ul-Mi’raj, has no basis in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم and his blessed companions would have given specific directions for it.

Therefore, it is not a Sunnah to celebrate the Lailat-ul-Mi’raj . We cannot take any practice as a Sunnah by our own emotions, unless it is established through authentic sources that the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم or his noble Companions have recognized it as such, otherwise it may become a bid’ah about which the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم has observed in the following words:

من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد

 Whoever invents something in our religion which is not a part of it, it is to be rejected.

Being mindful of this serious warning, we should appreciate that the 27th night of the month of Rajab is not like Lailat-ul-Qadr or Lailat-ul-Bara’ah for which special merits have been mentioned expressly either by the Holy Qur’an or by the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم.

However, all the recognized modes of ‘ibadah (worship) like salah, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, dhikr, etc. are commendable any time, especially in the late hours of night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception. Therefore, if someone performs any recognized ‘ibadah in this night from this point of view nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to the thawab (reward allocated for that recognized ‘ibadah, Insha-Allah). But it is not permissible to believe that performing ‘ibadah in this night is more meritorious or carries more thawab like Lailat-ul-Qadr or Lailat-ul-Bara’ah, because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم. Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night on a collective scale and to invite people to special ritual congregations.

(4) Some people suggest some special modes of worship to be performed in this night. Since no special mode of worship is prescribed by the Shari’ah in this night, these suggestions are devoid of any authority and should not be acted upon.

It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast on 27th of Rajab. Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of this day yet the scholars of hadith have held these traditions as very weak and unauthentic reports which cannot be sufficient to establish a rule of Shari’ah. On the contrary, there is an authentic report that Sayyidna Umar  رضي الله تعالى عنه  used to forbid people from fasting on this day, rather to compel them to eat if they had started fasting.

It should be borne in mind here that a Nafl fast can be observed any day (except the five prohibited days of the year), therefore, fasting on 27th of Rajab is not prohibited in itself. What is prohibited is the belief that fasting on this day is more meritorious than fasting in other normal days. One should not fast in this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, believing it to be a normal Nafl fast, there is no bar against it.

Courtesy: www.muftitaqiusmani.com 

2.6.13

Are We Healers Or Corrupters


The current state of our planet is one wherein there is huge imbalance and pollution; where the equilibrium of our Earth has been greatly corrupted. Armed conflicts and wars are increasing across the globe; the economies of an ever-increasing number of countries are in meltdown as global capitalism spirals out of control; and we continue to inch ever closer to environmental destruction, to a point where it could be beyond repair. Modern man, instead of being a caretaker of the earth, has become its most deadly predator: damaging the planet, devouring its natural resources and destroying his fellow man!

The Qur’an says: Corruption has appeared on land and on sea for what men’s hands have earned, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, so that they may repent. [30:41]

Corruption (fasad, in Arabic) is defined as: khuruj al-shay’ ‘ani’l-i‘tidal – “A thing leaving a balanced state.”1 In other words, corruption is when something has become ruined, contaminated, polluted and is out of balance. Its opposite is salah/islah, which means: to rectify, correct, or set aright. In other words, to bring a thing back to some sort of equilibrium and balance.

What follows is a reminder about how, as  believers, we must be muslihun – people of islah, not mufsidun – people of fasad; of how we are to be people who set things aright, not sow mischief throughout the earth; and of how we, as Muslims, are called upon to be healers, not corrupters:



God Loves Not Corruption: The first and foremost reason why we are to be people who seek to heal is because corruption is wicked and God is not pleased with it: And when he turns away [from you], he hastens about the land to do corruption therein, and to destroy crops and cattle; and God loves not corruption. [2:205]

Stewardship of the Earth: This stems from the notion of us being khalifahs – “stewards” or “vicegerents” of the earth. The Qur’an says: Indeed, it is He who has appointed you as vicegerents of the earth. [6:165] Classical Quranic authorities explain khalifah to mean (i) One generation succeeding another, and (ii) someone delegated to uphold God’s laws and administer justice – in other words a vicegerent.2 Accordingly, man is required to tend to the earth, uphold the Divine purpose in it, establish justice upon it, keep it in balance and to work not corruption on the earth after it has been set in order. [7:56] We see this very sentiment echoed in the following hadith: ‘The world is green and sweet and God has placed you as vicegerents in it, to see how you behave.’3

Not Living Excessively: About this, the Qur’an declares: God created for you all that is on the earth. [2:29] Also: He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. [45:13] The earths bounties are for all of humanity, not just a privileged few. Yet, having stated the obvious, we live in a world where less than twenty percent of the globe (mainly us in the “developed world”) consume over eighty per-cent of the earth’s natural resources so as to buttress a consumption-driven lifestyle. Our concern here in the West is not fear of poverty, as it is obesity! We have created a world that is now grotesque in its excesses and staggering in its inequalities. Partake of the earth’s fruits for our needs we must; partake of them for our wants we certainly may; but partake of them excessively and irresponsibly we may not: Eat and drink, but not excessively. For God loves not the excessive. [7:31]

Honouring the Balance: In one celebrated chapter of the Qur’an, we read the following: The All-Merciful has taught the Qur’an, has created man, teaching him speech. The sun and the moon follow a reckoning and the plants and the trees bow down. And He has raised the heavens and has set the balance, [declaring] that you may not upset the balance, but observe the balance and not fall short therein. [55:1-9] This, as well as one of the previously cited verses, reminds us that God has created the earth in a state of equilibrium, which itself is composed of innumerable mini equilibriums. We can, of course, utilise the earth for our food, clothing and instruments of trade and, indeed, for actualising the potentials that lie within us. But all of this is conditional on not disturbing this equilibrium, nor transgressing the balance.

Enchantment with Nature: For believers, the natural world is like a mirror: beautiful in itself, while reflecting the even greater beauty of God. The Qur’an invites mankind to contemplate creation and be enchanted by its majestic beauty, in order to know and appreciate the Maker of such enchantment: In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are signs for people of understanding. Those who remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, and meditate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth. [3:191-2] Thus, if the starry heavens illicit in us a sense of awe; if a newly sprung rose illicits in us a sense of beauty; if the solemn stillness of an autumn woodland illicits in us a sense of sublimity – then how much more awesome, beautiful and sublime must the Creator of such things be.

Celebrating Creation: In an intriguing passage, the Qur’an informs: Have you not seen that all that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God? And the birds as they spread their wings? Every creature knows its prayer and its glorification. [24:41] Elsewhere: There is not a single thing that does not proclaim His praise, yet you understand not their praises. [17:44] Such verses teach us to celebrate God’s creation, as they tell us that each created thing, animate or inanimate, extols His praise and glory - subhana’Llah! Prophets and many of the awliya are able to hear such praises, while some objects even make known their love for the godly. In the lifetime of the Prophet, peace be upon him, trees and stones spoke to him, and glorified God when he picked them up or passed by them.4 He even said about Mount Uhud: hadha jabal yuhibbuna wa nuhibbuhu – ‘This mountain loves us, and we love it.’5

Courtesy with Earth’s Creatures: Inanimate things aside, in regards to the animal world the Qur’an insists on courtesy: There is not an animal in the earth, nor a creature flying on two wings, but they are communities like you. [6:38] This courtesy is one that is based on a sense of awe and respect for earth’s living creatures. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was asked: Will we be rewarded for doing good to animals? He replied: ‘There is a reward for serving every living creature.’6 On another occasion, he told a group who were mounted on their camels, just chatting to one another: ‘Ride these animals safely and return them safely, but do not use them as chairs for your conversations in the streets and marketplaces.’7 He also said: ‘A woman was once flung into Hell for tying a cat till it starved to death.’8 And there is the hadith where a man took an egg from a bird’s nest, which then distressed the mother bird. Observing this, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘Have mercy on the mother; return her egg.’9 Such is the courtesy Islam obliges us to show to other creatures with whom we share this earth.



This, then, is Islam’s case for why we must tend to our fragile planet and partake in its healing. But for such revealed teachings to truly bear fruit, we must each become the example we wish others to follow. Wa’Llahu wali al-tawfiq.

References:

1. Al-Raghib al-Asbahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur’an (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2002), 636.

2. Cf. al-Sam‘ani, Tafsir al-Qur’an (Riyadh: Dar al-Watn, 1997), 1:63-4; Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 2002), 52-3.

3. Muslim, no.2742.

4. As per Ibn Hibban, Sahih, no.2110; al-Bazzar, Musnad, no.2413; Muslim, no.2277.

5. Al-Bukhari, no.4084; Muslim, no.1393.

6. Al-Bukhari, no.3321; Muslim, no.2245.

7. Ahmad, Musnad, no.15629.

8. Al-Bukhari, no.3318; Muslim, no.2241.

9. Abu Dawud, Sunan, no.2675

Source: The Humble I

14.5.13

Principle

My teacher wrote the article Election Replay and a point from it struck me peculiar.

source
"Throughout the past, almost every major contestant has been resorting to some show of force for intimidating their opponents during the elections. Since everybody was involved, it was very easy to blame the political culture of the country and to say that a nation like Pakistan could not have true democracy; that this is the best which we can get.This sentiment has been reflected in the life and work of those intellectuals who have been supporting various political leaders as champions of democracy without asking those leaders to refrain from un-democratic measures for seizing and holding power."


So I was thinking that what made those people think that the nation i.e. we are worthy of such lowly practice and I drew two conclusions:

I think, we the nation led them to believe that by behaving in this particular manner. You may call it my naivete that those intellectuals or politicians are not innocent to believe what we want them to believe and I agree with that but what I am trying to say is that our behavior combined with their greed produced the extensive period full of corruption and tyranny. We, the people, take lying, cheating, backbiting as norms but this is disease. We say we know the significance of telling the truth or be fair but for example, cheating in exams is 'fun' then doing our paper on our own. Every sin is tasteful only when it is being committed but when you reflect back on it, it seems unnecessary in the sense that we could have taken another course, we had choice to be fair and clean but we were heedless. We didn't put much effort because of laziness.


So we don't respect ourselves, we undermine ourselves, our power and so they undermine and intimidate us with their (false) power, and we allow them (at least until now). If only we knew our worth, we wouldn't have let them treat us this way.

What Imran Khan did, and we must give him credit for it, that he showed the alternate way, that things can be done differently only if we would pay attention and be conscious of it. Also he set an example by doing it. By being fair, treating the people around him as his equal. During the election campaign he ate and slept with his volunteers and workers instead of hiding behind a bullet-proof glass. I am not implying that he doesn't commit mistakes or he doesn't have flaws because we all are humans and we falter now and then. What I am saying is, he was being practical and sincere with his people by showing them that they deserve better.

And we do.

This is my favorite clip.


video




26.4.13

Yasir Qadhi | Khutbah: O Bilaad al-Shaam! You are in Our Hearts!



[The following is the transcript from the video khutbah of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi on the Syrian crisis.  The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]

Part 1

My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, one of the very few lands that our Prophet   has mentioned in numerous traditions, and in fact even before him, Allāh  has mentioned by reference in the Qur'ān is the land of Shām, which is now the land of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Filistīne.  This land clearly our tradition, our religion has emphasized it like no other land after the land of Ḥijāz.  There is no question that Mecca and Madīnah, the land of Ḥijāz, is the most sacred land on earth, but after the Ḥijāz comes the land of Syria.
Allāh  Himself praises it in the Qur'ān in the beginning of Sūrat'l-Isrā' when He says, “masjid'l-Aqṣa, the land that We have blessed around it.”  Allāh  says that masjid'l-Aqṣa is holy, and not just the masjid but the land around the masjid is holy.  Therefore Allāh  is saying in the Qur'ān that the land of Shām is indeed a blessed land.  That is because is the region of Shām is more than what we now call Syria.  The region of Shām includes what we now call Syria and also what is now Lebanon and the Occupied Territories of Filistīne – all of this is included in the classical Islamic term for Shām.
Our Prophet  said in a famous ḥadīth in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri, “O Allāh bless is in our Madīnah and in the measurements of our city, and bless us in our Shām.”  What is amazing about this ḥadīth is that when the Prophet  made this du'ā', Shām was not under Islamic control.  Shām was the land of Christians.  Shām was the right arm of the Byzantine Empire.  Shām was the jewel and the crown of the Roman Empire, yet the Prophet  said, “Bless us in our Shām.”  One of the people from another land said, “Ask Allāh to bless us in our Iraq and other lands as well,” and the Prophet  repeated for a second time, “Bless us in our Shām.”  He asked for a second time.  For the third time, he still did not respond to that request as if it was never asked, and he restricted the barakah (blessings) to the land of Ḥijāz and the land of Shām.
This clearly shows us that the status of Shām is something that we as Muslims need to believe in.  In fact, in a ḥadīth in the Musnad of imām Aḥmad, our Prophet  said, “Count six things before the Day of Judgment…”  It is a long ḥadīth and we don't have time for all of it.  “The first of these is my death.  The second one: conquering Bayt'l-Maqdis.”  Our Prophet  predicted the conquering of Bayt'l-Maqdis even before it was conquered.  Our Prophet  told the Muslims that Bayt'l-Maqdis and Shām would be ours.  It was not conquered in his lifetime, yet he said this would be something that would happen right after his death, which is exactly what we find in the books of history as well.
In another ḥadīth, the Prophet  said he saw a light emanating from Shām.  In another ḥadīth, he said, “Before my mother gave birth to me, my mother saw a light come from her that enlightened the palaces of Sham” as if the message of Islam is coming from Mecca and Madīnah and its primary target is going to be the land of Sham.  In another ḥadīth in the Musnad of imām Ahmed, the Prophet  said, “I saw the angels carry a beam of light, and they placed it in arḍ'l-Shām.”  This is an authentic ḥadīth that Allāh told the angels to place a beam of light signifying guidance and righteousness in the land of Shām.
Indeed our Prophet  continued to praise Shām in so many aḥadīth.  In one ḥadīth, the famous companion 'Abdullāh b. Hawālah said, “O Messenger of Allāh, if I knew you would live forever, I would never leave your side, but I know your time is limited, and I want to go forth and preach the message of Islam.  Where should I go?”  Look firstly at the īmān of this ṣaḥābi.  “Ya Rasūlullāh, I want to stay with you, but spreading the message of Islam is more important.”  Look at the īmān of this ṣaḥābi.  “If I knew you would live forever, I would be with you, but eventually you need to move on. Ya Rasūlullāh, where do you advise I go?”  The Prophet  said, “I command you to go to Shām.”  Once again, it was a time when Shām was not in Muslim lands. The face of 'Abdullāh b. Hawālah changed because he didn't want to go to Shām.  He wanted to go somewhere else.  The Prophet  saw this in him, so he said again, “O the son of Hawālah, Allāh has guaranteed me the people of Shām.”
What does this mean?  It means that “not only will Shām be my ummah” – Allāh has guaranteed the people of Shām will be from his ummah and it has been the case for the last 14 centuries and more that the land of Shām has been the land of Islam.  The Prophet  is saying, “Allāh has guaranteed me ahl'l-Shām.”  Not only that the people of Shām will be Muslims but also that they will be righteous, rightly guided Muslims and at the stalwart and vanguard of Islam and the people of Islam.  This is something specifically, authentically, and explicitly mentioned in a number of aḥadīth.
Of them is the ḥadīth of the Prophet  in which he said, “There shall always be a group of my ummah rightly guided, clearly upon the truth, attaining help from Allāh.”  He was asked, “Where can I find them?”  The Prophet  said, “They are in the land of Shām and the surrounding land of Shām.”  From this ḥadīth, Ibn Taymiyyah and others have derived that there shall always be a group of rightly guided Muslims – not just Muslims but rightly guided Muslims and Muslims at the vanguard and Muslims who are blessed to be a upon the guidance of Allāh and to be helped by Allāh because the ḥadīth says that Allāh will help them and the naṣr of Allāh is coming upon them.  The ḥadīth says they will clearly be upon the truth until the commandment of Allāh  comes.
Therefore, clearly the people of Shām have a blessing that hardly any place or area has been referenced with.  This is a blessing and Allāh gives it to whomever He pleases.  Because of the blessings of Shām, many of the trials and tribulations are linked to Shām in the prophetic tradition.  Of them is the famous tradition of 'Isa b. Maryam coming down on the white minaret in the city of Damascusin the landof Shām.  When the Prophet  said this ḥadīth, there was no mosque and there was no minaret in the land of Shām, but the Prophet  predicted Jesus Christ shall descend down in the city Damascus – he mentioned it by name – and in a city in the east of Damascus on the white minaret.  Most of the scholars have interpreted this to mean on the minaret of the Umayyad mosque that has been built – the first mosque built in Damascus.  And Allāh knows best whether it is that reference, but clearly a minaret in the city of Damascus.  A white minaret.  'Isa b. Maryam will come down to that very land. In this as well is an indication of the blessings and sanctity of arḍ'l-Shām.
The Prophet  also predicted that there would be many trials and tribulations dealing with Shām, but that always Shām would come out victorious at the end of it.  This is a beautiful ḥadīth of us to be aware of in the times we see around us. We should not read into this ḥadīth that it is happening now because most likely this ḥadīth refers to something right before the Day of Judgment.
In one ḥadīth, the Prophet  said, “There will be three major armies in the world fighting each other:  an army from Iraq, an army from Yemen, and an army from Shām.”  This is going to be a major civil war between Muslims.  A major catastrophe that is going to take place.  This is one of the signs of Day of Judgment that is going to take place before the Day of Judgment.  The Prophet  said there is going to be an army in Iraq, an army in Yemen, and an army in Shām.  The ṣaḥābah asked him, “Ya Rasūlullāh, “Which of these armies do you advise us to be in?”  He said, “I command you to be in the army that will be in Shām and with the people of Shām.”
In another ḥadīth reported in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, the Prophet  predicted that there will be a treaty between us and al-Rūm (the Roman Empire), and we will fight a common enemy.  This is also something that will occur right before the coming of al-Dajjāl, so we should not read in anything about it in our times.  This is something that will take place right immediately preceding the coming of al-Dajjāl, and we seek Allāh's refuge from every seeing that time.  This is something that is going to happen in the future.  We should not interpret modern events and assume that the Prophet  is mentioning them.
The Prophet  said, “There will come a time when you will have a treaty with the Roman Empire.  After you fight the common enemy and defeat them, that treaty will be broken.  Then they will march against you.”  After you were together and fighting a common enemy, it will so happen that they will march against you.  “Under 80 different flags.”  Maybe 80 countries or 80 nations, Allāhu 'ālam.  “80 flags will be gathered against you, and at that time, the camp of the Muslims will be in a land [and he mentioned a place in Syria] and what is around it.”  Once again, the people of Shām and the land of Shām are being mentioned where the base of the Muslims is going to be.  When those armies attack, there will be the camp of the Muslims, and if we are alive at that time, the Prophet  told us to be with the people of Shām.
In yet another ḥadīth, the Prophet  told us that the land of mash-ḥar is the land of Shām.  Many people misinterpret the mash-ḥar to mean the Day of Judgment.  This is not correct because the Day of Judgment's Ḥashr will not be on this earth.  On that mash-ḥar, the actual Day of Judgment will not take place on this earth, so this is a misinterpretation.  The meaning of mash-ḥar here is the worldly gathering together before the Day of Judgment.  The very last group of believers that will be on this earth before the Day of Judgment will be in theland of  Shām; therefore, theland of Shām will be the very last land to have Muslims on it right before the end of times.
Then the Prophet  said, “There shall be a scented, perfumed, beautiful wind coming from Shām that will take the soul of every believer.”  This will be right before the trumpet is blown.  When the trumpet is blown, the believers will not hear it because the wind from Shām will have taken them away, and will have died when they smelled this beautiful scent coming from this region of Shām.  This will be the end of the Muslims on earth.  Then there will be a group that are the worst of mankind and like animals they will act and interact.  That will be the generation upon which the trumpet is blown.
Therefore, the land of Shām will be not only the land where Muslims will be present until Jesus Christ comes down – of course even the great Armageddon that Christians and Muslims believe in will take place in the land of Shām.  It will be arḍ'l-Shām that 'Isa b. Maryam shall kill his opponent the anti-Christ and those who follow the anti-Christ.  Remember Bayt'l-Maqdis is in Shām.  Don't be confused by modern nation states.  Bayt'l-Maqdis and Jerusalem are in the land of Shām, even if modern countries have divided it into smaller imaginary lines.  In classical time, this was all the land of Shām.  Therefore all of this has been predicted in our tradition.  The land of Shām has been blessed from the very beginning.  After Allāh blessed Mecca, the second blessing was to Shām.
Our Prophet  was asked, “What was the first house built on earth?”  Allāh says it in the Qur'ān, so he answered directly from the Qur'ān. “The first house built on earth was in Mecca.”  Then he was asked the second, and he said, “Bayt'l-Maqdis.”  He was asked, “What was the time between them?”  The Prophet  said, “Forty years.”  Therefore, Bayt'l-Maqdis is the second holiest land up until the coming of Madīnah.  That is why in Mecca, the Prophet  would pray facing Shām and Bayt'l-Maqdis.  Then when Allāh caused him to emigrate to Madīnah, Madīnah became sacred and holy and it became the second holiest place during the time of the Prophet , unlike Mecca.  Mecca was holy from the time of Ibrahim.  Bayt'l-Maqdis was holy from the time of Ya'qūb.  Madīnah became holy in the time of the Prophet Muḥammad .  This is the plan of Allāh that He does as He pleases.
It is because all of this that the khulafā' al-rāshidūn understood the need to implement the ḥadīth of the Prophet  in conquering Shām.  Therefore, Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq, even though in his lifetime he never engaged in conquest outside of the Arabian peninsula and was busy with the wars of Riddah, there was only one battle that he was interested in outside of the Arabian peninsula and that was to send an army to Shām.  The Battle of Yarmūk, even though the victory came in the first days of the khilāfah of 'Umar, it was Abu Bakr who laid the seeds for the Battle of Yarmūk. It was Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq who sent the army out barely a year and a half after the death of the Prophet .  That was the desire of the Muslims that the Prophet  told us about Shām and our Lord has told us of the blessings of Shām.  Therefore, in the khilāfah of Abu Bakr al-Ṣiddiq, he sent together the army to come to Yarmūk and begin the conquest of Shām.  Abu Bakr died in the middle of the battle in Madīnah, so in the very first days of the khilāfah of 'Umar was when the battle became a success, and it was the first domino that opened up the entire land of Shām – Damascus and Jerusalem and small principalities followed one after the other.  The people ofJerusalem refused to surrender until 'Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb came himself to receive the keys to the city.  'Umar did not do this for any other city, but who can refuse to come to Jerusalem?  'Umar instantaneously took his servant.
You all know the famous story that just him and his servant on their donkey, taking turns to get to Bayt'l-Maqdis and Jerusalem, not because of the people of Jerusalem but because Allāh has blessed Jerusalem.  'Umar would take off from his khilāfah duties and walk with his servant from Madīnah to Jerusalem to pay respect to that land where our Prophet  himself prayed.  That was why as soon as Jerusalem was opened up, the first thing he did was revive Bayt'l-Maqdis and he built a masjid at Bayt'l-Maqdis because the Christians had desecrated the Jewish temple and made it into a trash joint and desecrated the sanctity of the Jewish temple because they didn't want to have honor there, but Allāh  had honored it.  We don't care of the other nations and races as much as we care of Allāh, and Allāh has said this is a holy land, so the first thing 'Umar did was build a mosque at Bayt'l-Maqdis to honor this blessing of Shām and to honor the commandment of Allāh and to show the Sunnah of the Prophet  when he prayed at that very spot in Bayt'l-Maqdis.
Historically, my dear brothers and sisters, Shām has always a bastion of knowledge. It has always been a repository of scholars and of authentic luminaries of academic Islam.  We've had great people like Shaykh'l-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and before that imām al-Awza'i and Ibn Qudāmah and Ibn Kathīr and Ibn al-Qayyim.  So many are the scholars who are linked with Damascusand with bilād'l-Shām.  We can go on and on and on.  Our ummah and our history is replete with luminaries who came from bilād'l-Shām.
Therefore, in light of all of this, when we see what is happening today in this very land that Allāh has praised and His Messenger has praised, and when we see the situation and tyranny and the bloodshed and civilians and innocent Muslims – men, women, and children – being massacred helplessly, and when we see an evil tyrant who loves his power more than he loves his own people and to the extent he is willing to shed the blood of his own people, then our heart bleeds not just because these are Muslims, but also because these are Muslims who Allāh 'azza wa jall and His Prophet have mentioned in a very special light.  This is a land that has been blessed like no other land after the Ḥijāz.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, when we see the particular tragedy unfolding in Syria and learn that over 3,000 have been killed in the last year of all the uprisings, then the very least that we should do is think about this land and our relationship with this land and what does Allāh 'azza wa jall and His Messenger require of us and what can we do as Muslims to help our fellow Muslims not just in this land but around the Muslim world, but especially in this blessed land which our Prophet  has praised and Allāh 'azza wa jall has blessed. Realize, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, that our Prophet  predicted that there would be many fitan and trials and tribulations, and of those trials and tribulations, many would involve resurrections and blood and warfare.
In one ḥadīth, our Prophet  said, “The Day of Judgment will not come forth until there will be a lot of ḥarraj.”  Ḥarraj was not a common word for the Arabs at that time.  Some say it is an Ethiopian word.  Now in Arabic it means “commotion and chaos.”  The companions said, “What is ḥarraj, ya Rasūlullāh.”  The Prophet  said, “Massacre and blood.  Massacre and blood.”  This is what ḥarraj is.  The Day of Judgment will not come forth until you will see many massacres and much bloodshed, and this is exactly what we see in the world today.
Abu Musa al-Ashar'i narrated in the Ṣaḥīḥ of imām Muslim – when he narrated this ḥadīth, his students said to him, “Ya Aba Musa, this ḥadīth is saying the Day of Judgment will not happen until there is a lot of bloodshed.  Are you saying there is going to be more bloodshed than even now?  For verily last year more than 70,000 people lost their lives.”  They are mentioning maybe around the year 50 of the hijrah.  He is talking about all the wars in the Muslim worlds and the conquests.  Abu Musa said, “I am not talking about wars and battles with other lands.  I am talking about Muslims killing other Muslims.  I am talking about civil war from within and we killing one another.  This is what the Prophet  is saying, 'al-ḥarraj, al ḥarraj.'  We are not talking about wars with other nations and defensive and offensive.  We are talking about wars within our own.  They are from your own.  They will be speaking your language.”  His students were shocked, and they said, “Will we still have our sanity?  How can we be killing one another?”  Abu Musa al-Ashar'i said, “Indeed Allāh will take the sanity from many people.  He will lift up the sanity and the people left behind will be the evil people and the people who have no 'aql and no īmān.  These will be the people who will be doing this slaughter.”  In one version, he said, “They think they are calling to something good and they have nothing good in them.”  Therefore, this ḥarraj and this fitnah that we are seeing are but a part of the predications of our Prophet Muḥammad .
Our Prophet  told us that one of the signs of the Day of Judgment would be evil rulers over us.  “They won't have any fear of Allāh.  They won't have an ounce of fear when they are ruling over you.”  Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, even forget the fear of God, an ounce of humanity would not allow for what we are seeing today.  No human could kill his own civilians and his own population.  No human can abduct and kidnap 10-year old kids and torture them to death.  No human can take a warplane and bomb it upon a civilian building.  This is not a part of humanity.  It is not possible for a person who believes in Allāh and has a living heart to do this, yet this is what we see around us, and the world is silent.  The world will not intervene as they did in Libya and as they did here and there because there is no oil in Syria as there was in Libya.  We should not waiting for NATO and the UN because that is not going to happen.  The world politics plays its own rules, and we have the rules of Islam to play by.
My brothers and sisters in Islam, the question arises:  what is to be done in light of this entire situation?  First and foremost, the bare minimum is that there needs to be an attachment and a relationship and a pain and suffering in the heart from what is happening.  Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, – allow me to be totally blunt here – the one who can spend the last few weeks enjoying and heedless and ghāfil and disconnected from the reality of Syria is the one whose īmān is nonexistent in the heart.  It is a sign of īmān to love for your brothers and feel pain for your brothers.  It is a sign of īmān to live with your brothers and sleep with your brothers. It is a sign of īmān that when something is hurting in them, something is hurting in you.  That is exactly what the Prophet  said:  “The ummah is like one body.  If one limb, one area, one finger of the whole body is in pain, then the whole body will be in pain because they will not be able to sleep.  They will be suffering a fever.”
Therefore, brothers and sisters, whoever is disconnected from these news and couldn't care less and is looking at all of the other things and not caring about the plight of the people of Syria, such a Muslim really needs to see his own Islam and check his own īmān.  He needs to see what is the problem with him that he can live a life that is un-phased.  Wallāhi, if this had been your own brother, your own cousin, your own ethnicity, how would you be able to live?  Do you not realize that the blood of Islam is thicker than the blood of actual blood brothers?  Do you not realize that the brotherhood of Islam is deeper than the brotherhood of nations and the brotherhood of ethnicity and the brotherhood of race?  “Indeed all the believers are brothers.”
The first point:  there needs to be an attention.  There needs to be a relationship.  There needs to be genuine pain.  Wallāhi, brothers and sisters, whoever is able to sleep peacefully in the last seven, eight days and last two weeks, then I say to this person:  check your īmān!  Check your īmān that how can you go to sleep comfortably in your bed and not be thinking about hundreds and thousands of people.  Realize that for every one that is killed, there are at least 20 that are injured.  For every one that is killed, there are at least 10 that have had to flee their lands.  For every one that is killed, there are at least 1,000 living in terror of being killed, living in terror of the bombs falling, living in terror of these heartless troops that do not have an ounce of īmān and would be willing to kill their own children in front of their eyes.
Realize it is not even just 2,000-3,000 people.  It is an entire civilization, an entire land that has been subjugated by this evil tyrant and the people around him.
The second point, dear brothers and sisters, is to realize that in all of these tribulations, there is a test from Allāh.  There is a wisdom, even if we don't understand it.  In this as well is a test of our faith.  When we look at this, these situations of bloodshed and massacres are what people's īmān are shaken by.  This is always the case.  “Where will the Help of Allāh come?”  “O Allāh, why is this happening?”  This is a common question and theme from the beginning of time until our times, every righteous nation wonders why this is happening and where is our Lord and where is the Help of our Lord.  Therefore, in every one of these situations, we need to renew our īmān and have full faith in Allāh  and realize that “Verily, the naṣr of Allāh is gharīb.”  Even if we don't see it and know it, we need to have that īmān in Allāh.  It is a test of our own īmān.
The third point is that having pain and suffering from their suffering indicates and shows us that have to also make du'ā' for them and raise our hands to pray for them and ask Allāh  for their fortitude and their patience and to ask Allāh to accept their shuhadā' and to comfort their widows and to give sakīnah and raḥmah to those who are living deprived amongst them.  The least that we can do is that when we make du'ā, we make du'ā' for those Muslims as well who have been suffering in this manner, especially du'ā' in our sajdahs and du'ā' in the middle of the night.  Insha'Allāh today in the ṣalāh we will also do du'ā' al-qunūt for the people of Syria because our Prophet  would do a special du'ā' when the Muslim ummah was affected, which is called du'ā' al-qunūt.
The fourth thing that we should do is to help them out in whatever way possible.  This requires the subject of many other khuṭbahs and talks.  To be brutally honest, many of you are more experts than I am on what can be done politically, economically, socially, and to boycott certain countries that are supporting these regimes.  These are things which you are experts in more than me, so we help each other together and you tell us what can be done.  In some cities, there is no question to hold demonstrations in front of embassies in order to draw the public attention. Brothers and sisters, do not trivialize these types of things.  You all know that this evil tyrant's father was a worse tyrant than him and that he massacred some say up to 30-40,000 people in the city of Hama in 1982.  Do you realize why this tyrant cannot do as blatant ẓulm as his father did?  It is because of the internet, videos, the presence of reporters and all of this public pressure that was not possible to have in 1982 inHama.
I understand that petitioning and standing in front of embassies doesn't seem like the best, but there is some benefit in there.  There is some pressure that is exerted.  Even Russia, who vetoed the bill, got so embarrassed that it had to send its foreign minister to see it could resolve the issue with Bashar.  This shows us that this type of pressure might have some effect.  Do not trivialize any good that we can do.  You are more experts than I am.  Tell us what can be done as a community and what we should be doing economically, socially, in the media.  This is something we all help one another out in.  Surely there is so much that can be done on the physical level apart from the spiritual level.
The fifth point is that when we see what is happening in Syria, we should realize that Allāh  is testing us in different ways.  If  He is testing them with deprivation and with death and bloodshed, then He is testing us with the opposite.  In some ways it is more difficult, and in many ways, it is easier.  The opposite of that is the possibility of oblivion and the possibility of coarseness of heart.  The possibility of immersing our self in our luxuries and materialism and cutting off our relationship with the ummah.  Our test is the exact opposite, and it is the test of māl, money, pleasures, and the test of this dunya.
Brothers and sisters in Islam, no doubt that is a test that is easier in this world, but perhaps in the next it might be more difficult.  Perhaps for the next it might be more difficult.  No doubt in this world anybody would prefer this test over that one, but in the next world, those people will come, and their ḥasanāt inshā'Allāh are like the mountains, and we will be asked about the blessings we had and the money and wealth and what did we do.  The least we can do, brothers and sisters, is to wake up from the ghaflah, heedlessness, and materialism almost every one of us is immersed in head over heels and to rediscover our religion and have a relationship with Allāh  and to be regular in our prayers and our charity.
Last, but definitely not least, – of course the khuṭbah precludes longer talk – we need to have tawakkul (trust) in Allāh and think the best thoughts of Allāh.   It is at these times that people think bad things about their Lord. When trials come forth and tribulations are present, people think evil thoughts of their religion and God.  This is the time when we as Muslims need to show the world that no matter what happens, we never lose faith in our religion and in the God that we believe in.
SubḥānAllāh, brothers and sisters, it is this last year that we have seen the fall of multiple tyrants.  Tyrants that I speak as personally not having known any other tyrants in those regions. They have been on earth so long, I don't remember the tyrants before them. My entire life has been with these tyrants in the Arab world, yet we saw all of them fall like a stack of dominoes, one after the other, until finally the last one is left.  This is the last in the stack.  How can we lose hope in Allāh when we have seen what happened in the last year?  How can we lost hope in Allāh when we saw how Allāh humiliated the tyrants of other lands?
Shaykh'l-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “When Allāh  wants to punish a ruler, the first thing that He does is removes the love and respect that his people have for him.  When a people hate their own ruler and curse their own ruler and despise their own ruler, this is the sign that Allāh will humiliate that ruler.  Who is there of sound īmān and, dare I say, of sound 'aql who loves this person Bashar al-Assad?  His own people curse him with the most vile and vulgar and filthy curses.  When your own people have already lost all respect and 'izzah for you, where will you find respect anywhere else?  This is just the beginning, and we will inshā'Allāh see the fall of this tyrant and the end of this regime – not because I'm predicting 'ilm'l-ghayb but because Allāh has told us that ẓulm cannot last on earth and Allāh has told us that the du'ā' of the oppressed will be responded to.  Allāh  has told us that He will help the masākīn.  Because I trust in Allāh and because we all trust in Allāh, then we also trust that this person who is causing this ẓulm and causing this persecution the likes of which we have hardly ever seen, this person's end is near.  This is what we hope and pray.
In fact, this is exactly what we believe in and have yaqīn in and this is our thinking the best of Allāh.

Part 2

There is no question, brothers and sisters, that this is a major trial afflicting not just the people of Syria but the Muslim ummah because it is Syria and because they are our Muslim brothers and sisters in Syria.  Realize that in every trial and in every fitnah there is also Allāh's raḥmah and mercy.
Our Prophet  said, “My ummah is a nation that has been blessed because there is no punishment for my ummah in the ākhirah, rather, my ummah will be punished in this world by murder, chaos, massacres, chaotic times, earthquakes, and fitan.”  The punishment in this world is a million times easier.  The Prophet  said that Allāh will punish other nations in the ākhirah, but “my ummah is a blessed ummah because there is no punishment in the ākhirah.”  That is the worst punishment.  To be saved from that punishment, this ummah will suffer some punishments in this world.  Of these punishments is massacres and bloodshed.  Therefore, even in this there is some consolation for us even though we don't want massacres and bloodshed and we ask Allāh to lift it, but when it happens, we take consolation in these aḥadīth.  We realize that there is a wisdom in them as well.
Realize that our Prophet  said as well, “There shall be fitnahs that come upon you one after the other.  There shall be trials and tribulations that will come one after the other.  Every time a fitnah comes, the people will say, 'It's too much for us.  I cannot bear it.  This fitnah will cause me to be destroyed.' Then Allāh will lift the fitnah up, and another fitnah will come.  The mu'min will say, 'This is the one that will cause me to be destroyed!'”  This will not destroy him because Allāh will give him īmān and a way of out of the fitnah, but this is what life will be like.  Every successive generation and every successive time looks to be worse than the one before it, so the Prophet  said, “Whoever wishes that death comes to him in a good state, let death come when his īmān in Allāh is firm…”  Don't let your īmān waver.  Don't be ashamed to be Muslim.  Don't hide your īmān when fitnahs come.  Be a proud Muslim.  “…let him do unto other people what he would want to be seen done unto him.”  Don't let fitnahs cause you to treat others in an evil manner.  If everybody else is being evil, it doesn't give you the right to be evil.
This is a beautiful ḥadīth that reminds us that even if the people around you are barbarians, even if they have left all morality, you don't have a reason to leave morality.  Let him do unto others like he would like others to do unto himself.  During times of fitnah, our ethics and morality don't change.  If the whole world gets lost and if the whole world loses the plot, we shouldn't lose our plot.  We shouldn't lose our ethics and manners because we are a people of Islam and a people of a Book and a people of a Prophet, and most importantly, we are a people who worship Allāh 'azza wa jall.  So no matter what happens on earth, we never lose track of our own principles.
Last but not least, realize that the purpose of a fitnah and the meaning of the word fitnah is to examine and purify in order to cleanse and clean.  This is what fitnah means in the Arabic language.  That is why the Arabs would call the goldsmith fatān, the one who causes fitnah because the goldsmith takes raw gold from the sand and throws it into the furnace and causes fitnah to this raw ore to separate the pure gold from the soil and sand.  Fitnah will separate the gold from the dust.  Fitnah will separate the diamonds from the charcoal.  Fitnah will separate the gold from everything around it.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, the purpose of the fitnahs is to test who amongst us truly has faith versus those who don't.  Allāh  says, “Did mankind think that We would leave them alone untested without fitnahs?  Indeed We tested the people before with fitnahs so that Allāh will see those who are telling the truth when they say they are believers versus those who are telling lies.”
This is indeed a great fitnah and a fitnah with which we are being tested incidentally and a fitnah the people of Syria are being tested with directly.  It is much more of a fitnah for them, but it is also a major fitnah for us in our own way and in our own manner.  This is a fitnah that everyone's īmān will be shown and demonstrated.  Allāh  will see who amongst us is telling the truth when we say we are believers versus those amongst us who are kādhibīn and not telling the truth.


Original post at: http://muslimmatters.org/2012/02/17/yasir-qadhi-khutbah-o-bilaad-al-shaam-you-are-in-our-hearts/

(This is my favorite post about Syria, most informative and a powerful boost to imaan. May Allah make us all among the believers. Ameen.)

you can read recent posts about Syria here.