Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Muslim Who Was China’s Greatest Explorer – Zheng He

(P.S.  This post has been taken from
When people think of great explorers, they think of the usual names: Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Evliya Çelebi,Christopher Columbus, etc. But not many know of one of the most interesting and influential of all time. In China, he is well known, although not always recognized or glorified. He is Zheng He, the Muslim who became China’s greatest admiral, explorer, and diplomat.


Zheng He was born in 1371 in the southern China region of Yunnan to a Hui (a Muslim Chinese ethnic group) family. His birth name was Ma He. In China, the family name is said first, followed by the given name. “Ma” is known in China as short for “Muhammad”, indicating Zheng He’s Muslim heritage. Both his father and his grandfather were able to travel to Makkah and complete the Hajj, so Zheng He came from a practicing Muslim family.
At a young age, his town was raided by the Ming Dynasty’s army. He was captured and transported to the capital, Nanjing, where he served in the imperial household. Despite the oppressive and difficult circumstances he was in, Zheng He actually befriended one of the princes, Zhu Di, and when he became the emperor, Zheng He rose to the highest positions in government. At this time, he was given the honorific title “Zheng” and was known as Zheng He.


In 1405, when emperor Zhu Di decided to send out a giant fleet of ships to explore and trade with the rest of the world, he chose Zheng He to lead the expedition. This expedition was massive. In all, almost 30,000 sailors were in each voyage, with Zheng He commanding all of them. Between 1405 and 1433, Zheng He led 7 expeditions that sailed to present day Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Kenya, and many other countries. It is probable that during one of his journeys, Zheng He was even able to go to Makkah to complete the Hajj.

A map showing the routes taken by Zheng He on his 7 expeditions in the 1400s
Zheng He was not the only Muslim on these expeditions. Many of his advisors and were also Chinese Muslims, such as Ma Huan, a translator who spoke Arabic and was able to converse with the Muslim peoples they encountered on their journeys. He wrote an account of his journeys, titled the Ying-yai Sheng-lan, which is an important source today for understanding 15th century societies around the Indian Ocean.
Seeing these expeditions must have been an event that people did not easily forget. The ships Zheng He commanded were up to 400 feet long, many times the size of Columbus’s ships that sailed across the Atlantic. For hundreds of years, people thought that the giant proportions of these ships were exaggerations. However, archaeological evidence from the shipyards where they were built in the Yangtze River prove that these ships were in fact even larger than modern football pitches.
Everywhere they sailed, they commanded the respect (and sometimes fear) of the local people, who offered tributes to the Chinese emperor. Because of this tribute and trade with all the peoples they encountered, Zheng He would sail back to China with exotic goods such as ivory, camels, gold, and even a giraffe from Africa. The expeditions sent one message to the world: China is an economic and political superpower.

Spreading Islam

Economics and politics were not the only effects of this great fleet that was commanded by Zheng He. He and his Muslim advisors regularly promoted Islam wherever they traveled. In the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo and others, Zheng He found small communities of Muslims already there. Islam had started to spread in Southeast Asia a few hundred years before through trade from Arabia and India. Zheng He actively supported the continued growth of Islam in these areas.

A replica in Dubai that compares the size of Zheng He’s ships with those of Columbus
Zheng He established Chinese Muslim communities in Palembang, and along Java, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines. These communities preached Islam to the local people and were very important to the spread of Islam in the area. The fleet built masjids and provided other social services the local Muslim community would need.
Even after the death of Zheng He in 1433, other Chinese Muslims continued his work in Southeast Asia, spreading Islam. Chinese Muslim traders in Southeast Asia were encouraged to intermarry and assimilate with the local people on the islands and Malay Peninsula. This brought more people to Islam in Southeast Asia, as well as strengthened and diversified the growing Muslim community.


As an admiral, diplomat, soldier, and trader, Zheng He is a giant of Chinese and Muslim history. He is seen as one of the greatest figured in the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, after his death, the Chinese government changed its philosophy to a more Confucian one which did not support such expeditions like Zheng He’s. As a result, his accomplishments and contributions were mostly forgotten or overlooked for hundreds of years in China.
His legacy in Southeast Asia, however is quite different. Numerous masjids in the region are named after him to commemorate his contributions. Islam spread in Southeast Asia through many forms, including trade, travelling preachers, and immigration. Admiral Zheng He was also a major part of its spread in that region. Today, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world, and much of that could be attributed to the activities of Zheng He in the region.
Aqsha, D. (2010, July 13). Zheng he and islam in southeast asia. The Brunei Times. Retrieved from
Ignatius, A. (2001, August 20). The asian voyage: In the wake of the admiral read more. Time Magazine, Retrieved from
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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Philosophy of Qurbani

Philosophy of Qurbani
By Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

The word qurbani embraces vast scope of meaning. This is derived from word qurb (nearness). Therefore the act of qurbani denotes the nearness to Allah Almighty. Technically, the word qurbanirefers to the sacrificing of animals on the occasion of Eid al-Adha with a view to achieving the nearness to Him. In the wider context, it means sacrificing everything one possesses in the way of Allah like life, wealth, honour and comfort etc. The 162nd verse of Sura al-Anam states: “My prayers, my Hajj (Pilgirmage) and sacrifice (with all my acts of worship) and my life and my death are for Allah alone Who is the Lord of all the worlds.”

Historical background of slaughter
The act of slaughtering lawful animals as a means for achieving nearness to Allah Almighty dates back to the time when Hadrat Adam (as) came to the world. The Holy Qur`an has made mention of the first sacrifice offered in the way of Allah by the sons of Hadrat Adam, Habeel and Qabeel. Although these sons of Adam started the tradition of slaughter but it gained eternal popularity through the incident that involved Hadrat Ibrahim (as) and Hadrat Ismail (as). This slaughter is the reflection of the greatest slaughter offered on the face of earth. Thus in order to commemorate the sacrifice offered by Hadrat Ibrahim and Hadrat Ismail till the Day of Judgment, the Muslims were enjoined to perform the act of slaughter on 10th of Dhil-Hajj during every Islamic year.

Aims and Objectives

Slaughtering is not merely a ritual but it is a means to the following ends.
1. It is the Sunna of Huzrat Ibrahim (RA), which has been invested with permanence among the followers of Islam and they have been enjoined to perform this act practically in order to revive its spirit. As Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran: “And We have appointed a sacrifice for every people”. (al-Hajj, 34:22)
Allah Almighty has given the status of worship to following the Sunna of Hadrat Ibrahim (as). Hadrat Zaid Bin Arqam reports that the Companions asked, “O Prophet of Allah! what is this slaughter. He (saw) replied: It is Sunna of your father Hadrat Ibrahim (as). The Companions asked: will we get any reward from this slaughter. He replied: you will get reward against every hair (of sacrificial animals). The Companions asked: if it be lamb. He replied: still you would get reward against every hair.” (Sunan Ibn Maja)
Hadrat Abu Huraira reports: “When the Holy Prophet (saw) would make up his mind about the slaughter, he would buy two lambs of black colour and horns having good bodily health. He would slaughter one of them on behalf of every one from his Umma who believed in Oneness of Allah and finality of the Prophethood and he would slaughter the other one on his and his children’s behalf.” (Sunan Ibne Maja)
Hadrat Hanash reports: “When I saw Hadrat Ali (ra) slaughtering lamb, I asked him as to what it was? He said: the Holy Prophet (saw) had advised him to offer sacrifice on his behalf. Therefore (in view of his advice) I am offering this sacrifice on his behalf.” (Sunan Abi Dawood)
This stands established from this that the Holy Prophet (saw) slaughtered (animals) not only on his and his family’s behalf but also on behalf of his Umma till the Day of Judgment. Allah Almighty blessed him (saw) with this act for commemoration and revival of the Sunna of Hadrat Ibrahim (as). That is why he (saw) advised Hadrat Ali (ra) to continue with this act of slaughter on his own and Prophet’s (saw) behalf. Hadrat Ali (ra) acted upon this piece of advice all his life.
Following in the footprints of Sunna of Hadrat Ibrahim (as) not only keeps the memory of his actions alive but also inspires us to implement them in our lives. The Sunna of Ibrahim (as) reminds the Muslim Umma of its commitment that it would leave no stone unturned to render any kind of sacrifice for the revival of faith. If this pledge is missing, then slaughtering is merely a ritual devoid of its substance.
2. The second aim of slaughter is to create the feelings of sacrifice among the Muslims. That is why Allah Almighty enjoined upon the Muslims to perform this act till the Day of Reckoning. This worship is known as Sunna of the Holy Prophet (saw) and Hadrat Ibrahim (as) without any dispute. One hadith contained in Jami Tirmidhi is narrated by Hadrat Abdullah ibn Umar (ra): “The Holy Prophet (saw) lived in the holy city of Madina for ten years and he did slaughtering (of animals).”
The real of aim of slaughter is to create and foster the feelings of sacrifice among the Muslims so that they should remain ready to sacrifice anything dear to them in the cause of Allah.
3. Every action leaves its impact upon human personality, self and heart, but there are specific actions, which are instrumental in achieving nearness to Allah Almighty. Slaughtering is also one such act but it can only succeed in fulfilling its purpose if it is aimed at winning the pleasure of Allah Almighty. He says in the Holy Qur`an: “It is neither the meat (of slaughtered animals) nor their blood that reaches Allah but it is the piousness that reaches Him from you.” (al-Hajj, 22:37)
On this basis, the drop of blood of slaughtered animals does not yet fall on the ground when Allah Almighty accepts in His Company and rewards those who offer sacrifice. Hadrat ‘A’isha (ra) narrates that the Holy Prophet (saw) said: “No act of a person is dearer to Allah on the day of slaughter than spilling of blood and that (slaughtered) animal would become alive again with his horns and forefeet intact. Allah Almighty grants high status to blood before it falls down on ground. You should be pleased with your slaughtering.” (Jami Tirmidhi)
What is a prerequisite for acceptance of slaughter is the possession of good intentions and sincerity of heart. If an action, even though it may be a small one, is performed with full measure of sincerity, elevates its performer. And if the same action is devoid of sincerity and good intentions in spite of its enormity would be of no consequence near Allah Almighty. If the aim of slaughter is the demonstration of wealth, status and an attempt to impress others, such an action may deceive people but will not be rewarded by Allah Almighty. Contrary to this, a poor person can enjoy great esteem in the sight of Allah who is penniless but has burning urge to implement His Sunna of slaughter but is constrained to do this due to lack of wealth. Therefore, it is the intention, with which the act of the slaughter is performed, which is more important than anything else is. Allah Almighty says: “And he who honours the Signs of Allah (ie honouring those living beings, shrines, monumental sites, commands and prescribed duties known and recognized due to some association or link with Allah or Allah’s servants), this (honouring) is from the piousness of hearts (only those submit themselves in honour of the sanctities, whose hearts have been filled with fear of God).”(al-Hajj, 22:32)
This Divine commandment dubs piety as state of heart. The sacrificial animals are sign of Allah because they are slaughtered for achieving nearness to Him. Since they have their association with Allah, that is why, they form part of signs of Allah. The Holy Qur`an says: “And We have made for you sacrificial animals (camels and cows etc) among the Signs of Allah.” (al-Hajj, 22:36)
In the light of the dictates and commandments of the Holy Qur`an and Sunna, man can easily reach this conclusion that it is not the apparent shape or form of an object but the piety of hearts and inherent intentions, which is instrumental for achieving the nearness of Allah. The ultimate goal ofqurbani is attainment of piety. If this is not achieved, then it is merely reduced to a ritual act. Therefore slaughtering should always be performed with the intention to achieve nearness to Allah.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Christian leaders term Shaykh-ul-Islam as a bridge between Islam & Christianity, eulogize his services for peace

A ceremony marking the 60th birthday of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and interfaith prayer was held on March 19, 2011 in the oldest city of Christianity i.e. Vatican City under the banner of Directorate of Interfaith Relations, Minhaj-ul-Quran International. Interfaith representatives belonging to 18 countries participated in the ceremony. Sohail Ahmad Raza, Director of Interfaith Relations, was the host of the event who is currently on tour of Italy in connection with interfaith harmony. The ceremony was organized in a beautiful hall of Vatican City.

Mr. Fr. Baawobr Richard, who is General Supper of Mission Africa, was the guest of honour in the program. A large number of Muslims in addition to Christian representatives from Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Denmark, Ghana, Germany, UK, Poland, Somalia, Iran, Belgium and Sweden attended the ceremony. The distinguished participants included Fr. Vezzoli Michele (Italy), Fr. Aurelio (Spain), Fr. Poirier Jacques (Canada), Mr Sohail Ahmad Raza (Pakistan), Fr. Richard Francois (France), Fr. Baawobr Richard, Superior General (Ghana), Fr. Otmar Strzoda (Germany), Fr. Jean Chaptal (Switzerland), Br Patrick O. Leary (Great Britain), Fr. Gonzalo (Portugal), Fr. Pello Robert (Poland), Fr. Juan Jose (Spain), Fr. Carbonneau Michel (Canada), Fr. Peter (England), Fr. Sawadogo Emile (Burkina Faso Diocesan), Fr. Kapya Arsene (Congo), Fr. Ambusa Prosper (RD Congo), Fr. Robert Augustus Oduro (Ghana), Mr. Meftah Ahmad Reza (Iran), Fr. Giuseppe (Poland), Fr. Fons (Belgium), Fr. Mathew Biju Koothottil (India), Fr. Pulavelil Joseph (Sri Lanka), Fr. Martin Gonzalo (Spain), Fr. Tebri Robert (Kenya), Fr. Marc Nsanzurwimo (Burundi), Fr. Aayire Nicholas (Ghana), and Fr. Groiselle Michel (France).

The proceedings of the ceremony began with the recitation from Bible followed by recitation of the Holy Quran along with English translation. A silence of one minute was observed for those killed in Tsunami which hit Japan at the outset of the program. Welcoming the guests, Sohail Ahmad Raza gave a detailed introduction of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, chairman of Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum and threw light on his services for promotion of peace, interfaith dialogue and harmony in the world. He specifically referred to historic Fatwa authored by Shaykh-ul-Islam. Afterwards, the participants cut the cake of Shaykh-ul-Islam’s 60th birthday. They paid tribute to him for his services by holding peace candles in their hands.

Different leaders expressed their views on the occasion and stressed the need of promoting interfaith harmony to offset the challenges facing humanity in a proactive manner. They also appreciated the services of Minhaj-ul-Quran International under the leadership of Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri with special reference to his Fatwa against terrorism. They said that Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri is leading from the front in the efforts for restoration of peace and promotion of harmony and peaceful coexistence in the world. They added that his efforts would help bridge the gulf amongst all religions especially between Islam and Christianity and allay the misconceptions. The dinner was served at the conclusion of ceremony.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dated: 10 November 2010

This Article was published in
Pakistan Observer (November 10, 2010)

By Sahibzada Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri

Happiness has remained an elusive concept over the centuries. Philosophers, religious scholars, sociologists, and academicians have held out their opinions and tried to define what happiness is. Some regard it as a material thing for which material possessions have been identified as a means to achieve happiness. Others are of the view that happiness has nothing to do with material pursuits. Rather it is a moral or a spiritual phenomenon which one can acquire by doing right things. Despite these definitions and explorations, the idea is as Greek as it was before.

However, if you want to be happy but are not sure where to start, then I suggest you to begin by being kinder. Acts of giving will boost your well being as well as offer something good to the recipient and the world at large. Furthermore, these acts can take many forms and so you can do something that suits you personally. For instance, you can do voluntary work for a philanthropist organisation; you can do good deeds in your neighbourhood, for friends, family, work colleagues, strangers.

Happiness lies in giving to others. When you stop thinking about yourself, it is then the journey to happiness starts. Our focal point is always “I” or”me”. These two words are actually the root cause of much of our sadness we suffer from. Whenever we run after something to achieve, it runs away even faster from us. But when we decide to turn our back on our sought-after pursuits, those things would come for us. This is the law of nature, which is immutable and never changes.

If real happiness could be achieved by having lots of money and concentrating power, the kings would never have left their thrones in search of happiness. Buddha, Ashoka, Ibraham bin Adham are few examples from the history who abandoned their exalted positions to find solace and happiness. They found happiness once they started serving the poor and the needy of God’s creations.

The happiest time of our life lies in our childhood. As we grow in terms of age, our desires grow as well. When desires are not fulfilled, their unfulfillment brings sadness in our life. In order to acquire eternal happiness, we need to get rid of our desires. That is why it is said, best state to go back to God is the state in which you were born. That state is the state when one is innocent with one’s soul untainted by the worldly desires.

You don't just have to do volunteer work to be a kinder person. Remember you can carry out good deeds on a daily basis, in your home or at work. You can do something for people you don't know. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Let them make creative mistakes and learn for the sake of personal growth. Offer genuine compliments. Give small gifts. Plan something special for a loved one. Share your possessions without getting uptight about them.

Avoid gossiping in emails and on the telephone. Instead make a conscious effort to only say good things about others. You always have something to offer. Think of ways you can share that information. Think of ways in which you might be a positive influence on someone's life. When you see an opportunity to help, take it. Don't just keep walking. Not every act of kindness needs to be acknowledged. You are better off assuming you won't be. You are doing them because you want to, not for the thanks but for the sake of happiness that springs from inside. This will ensure you won't feel resentment if people don't respond as you'd imagined. This resentment can lead you to deciding that it is pointless being kind as it gets you nowhere. Carry out secret good deeds. These are acts of kindness that you carry out for another, without telling that person you did it.

It's a great way to increase your humility. Recognise that each act, no matter how small, will make a difference. It doesn't have to be the grand gesture. Holding a door open for someone is something we can all appreciate. A truly generous person does good deeds without expecting anything in return. So don't do it just for the praise. However, what you will get in return is greater happiness. There is also something known as the feel-good, do-good phenomenon, where being happy inclines a person to be more generous, which in turn brings greater happiness.

The way to transform happiness from individual level to the collective phenomenon is to make efforts aimed at making your country and society welfare-oriented. One can start this endeavour from the grassroots level by establishing welfare committees and keep on expanding its ambit. It calls for establishment of systems and arrangements for doing good to people in an institutionalized manne

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Breaking myth about Muslim women’s education

By Sahibzada Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri

Islam enjoins upon its followers both men and women to dedicate themselves fully to learning knowledge. There is an ingrained value in every Muslim, man and woman alike to pursue knowledge and to learn about God's Truth. Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) advised his followers to seek knowledge from every nook and corner of the world. In keeping with this value, Muslim women are continuing to make headway in the field of science and their participation in terms of graduation ratios often surpasses that of western women in pursuing scientific degrees according to UNESCO.

Contrarily, the western media is never tired of churning out stereotypes and outdated clichés about the Muslim women. Their favourite propaganda line is that it is because of discrimination ordered by the Islam that the Muslim women lag behind in the field of education. The western mind gets swayed in favour of this kind of reasoning when it is repeated over and over, while the fact is that truth is other way round. The Islamic message, which stresses gender equity and rights for women, is often polluted by competing cultural values that have no basis in Islam scripture.

The quest for knowledge has always applied to women in Islam. God has made no difference between genders in this area. The Prophet (P.B.U.H) once said: "Seeking knowledge is a mandatory for every Muslim (male and female)." (Sahih Bukhari)

History bears witness to the fact that the Muslim women have achieved numerous excellences in the field of science and technology thereby opening ways for more exploration through their findings and dedication. But the western media does not take these contributions into account nor is it ready to offer any kind of appreciation for these women who have broken male hegemony in the field of science and technology.

The fact is that the United States falls behind six Muslim countries in the percentage of women graduating in science to the total science graduate population. The countries whose ratio of women science graduates exceeds that of the United States are Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Qatar and Turkey. Morocco exceeds the United States in the ratio of women engineering graduates as a percentage of the science graduate population.

Traditionally, Muslim women do not face the kind of discouragement in the sciences to the extent that their Western counterparts do, which explains why statistics show such high ratios of Muslim women graduates in science fields as a percentage to the total science graduate population. However, the fact of the matter is that instead of any religion injunctions, these are the socio-economic hurdles that apply equally to both men and women and hinder their way to advancement. These hurdles reflect themselves in the form of poverty, illiteracy, political instability and the policy of foreign powers.

Data that explains the real problem can be found by comparing the total educated populations of countries and regions of the world. A high degree of illiteracy and low levels of secondary school enrollment account for the less number of graduates in poorer countries than in the wealthier regions. In locales defined by UNESCO in their recent report, gross secondary school enrollment ratios are very low: Africa (below 40%), West Asia (below 60%), and East Asia (below 75%).

Gender inequity is a fact of life and does exist, but Islam cannot be singled out for being responsible for it nor can it be relegated to Muslim countries. Some disparaging gender gaps in higher education exist where the religion of Islam isn't even practiced by a majority of the population. For example, only 44% of people enrolled in higher education in Switzerland are women, Guatemala (43%), Rwanda (37%), Korea (36%), Bhutan (34%), Cambodia (29%) and Liechtenstein (27%).

On the other side of the coin, in Tunisia, a country where 98% of people practice Islam, there were 5% more female students enrolled than males in higher education. Malaysian women made up 55% of the enrolled population in higher education, Lebanon (54%), Jordan and Libya (51%). Bahrain even exceeded the United States in the ratio of women enrolled in higher education by 6%. If education is freedom, then it looks like Muslim women in Bahrain are more liberated than American women.

It is not Islam that threatens a woman's right to education. Rather these are the governments, which are hostile to Islam, which often set up roadblocks to prevent Muslim women from obtaining education. Both France and Turkey are guilty of this type of exclusionary persecution, all under the false guise of secularism. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a prestigious nongovernmental organization, these bans exclude thousands of women from institutions of higher learning each year. A 2004 HRW report states, "This restriction of women's choice of dress is discriminatory and violates their right to education, their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and their right to privacy."

Despite the fact that the Muslim woman is constantly being harassed about her choice in religion and face the sustained and clichéd portrayal at the hands of the western media that ridicule her faith and demonize her culture, there exists an Islamic tradition celebrating women in science. The Muslims need to remind the world of such heroic and ground-breaking women contributions in an attempt to correct their perspectives. Today, the Islamic culture in which women are encouraged to participate, excel and lead in scientific fields continues to express itself, not only through statistical data, but in real, living, breathing and praying people. Although these women are exceptional, they are by no means the exception to the rule.

Here we have few examples from around the world.

Professor Samira Ibrahim Islam, was nominated as a distinguished Scientist of the World For the Year 2000 by UNESCO. She made significant contributions in drug safety by defining the Saudi profile for drug metabolism. Sameena Shah, presented an innovative algorithm in computerized cognitive leaning that she and a team of colleagues developed at IIT Delhi, India. Professor Dr. Bina Shaheen Siddiqui, has made significant contributions to medicine and agriculture through her study and classification of indigenous plant materials. She has been awarded several patents for anticancer constituents and biopesticides and has written more than 250 research articles. She has been honored with several prestigious awards including the Khwarizmi International Award of Iran and Salam Prize in Chemistry.

Historic records show that women participated in science and medicine in Muslim societies. By contrast, in America, during the 1890's women could not be doctors, and yet, Muslim women doctors were seen as equals to their male counterparts hundred's of years earlier, they were even responsible for written contributions in the field. Also, women like Ijliya, an astrolab builder, were employed as skilled scientists in Muslim courts. Others made progress in pharmacology.

The data for years 2002/2003 contained in these tables describes the percentage of women graduates in science and engineering out of the total science and engineering graduate population in each country, and pertains to higher-education in science: (Statistics from the "Global Education Digest" report released from UNESCO Institute for Statistics2005)

Woman Graduates in Science

Bahrain 74%
Bangladesh 24%
Brunei Darussalam 49%
Kyrgyzstan 64%
Lebanon 47%
Qatar 71%
Turkey 44%

Compared with...

U.S. 43%
Japan 25%

Women Graduates in Engineering

Eritrea 4%
Morocco 25%

Compared with...

U.S. 19%
Japan 13%

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Terrorism and Suicide Attacks' the Video Press Conference of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri

Islam does not permit, under any circumstances, the massacre of innocent citizens, terroristic explosions and suicide bombings. The continuous carnage and slaughtering of people, suicide bombings against innocent and peaceful communities, explosions at mosques, shrines, educational institutions and businesses; the destruction of government institutions, buildings, trade centers; attacks on defense training centers, embassies, transports systems and other institutions of civil society; all these acts are grave violations of human rights and constitute kufr, disbelief, under Islamic law. The founder and patron in chief of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, and Chairman of Pakistan Awami Tehreek, Shaykh-ul-Islam, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri issued his detailed edict (fatwa) today, consisting of 200 pages, while addressing a press video conference from Canada.
Describing the background of his edict he said a terrible wave of terrorism has been maligning Pakistan in particular, and Muslim and non-Muslim nations in general, for the last many years. There is no doubt that, while Muslims as a collective entity condemn, resist and fight terrorism, and do not accept even its remotest possible link with Islam, unfortunately there are some people who remain quiet on the issue, silence taken as a tacit approval of such atrocities. Indeed there are others, who, instead of opposing and condemning terrorism openly, confuse the issue, merely concentrating upon the politics that cause these atrocities. Dr. Qadri appealed to all Muslim scholars, intellectuals, and opinion-makers not to concentrate on who these people are, who is behind them and why they are committing these acts. Whatever justifications they may give for their actions, they act against the teachings of Islam. They are in clear contravention of what Islam stands for. Their each action is premised on bringing harm to Islam and to the whole of humankind. Their existence is an open danger against the integrity of Pakistan and world peace. The entire nation should dissociate itself from these elements, and condemn them in the strongest possible terms, unequivocally and with one voice. The Pakistani nation is in a state of war. It is the need of the time for Pakistan to form unity among its ranks at every level. The entire nation should stand behind their armed forces busy fighting a war for the protection of the lives of the innocent citizens, and securing national defense by eradicating terrorism.
Those who commit these atrocities claim they are doing so for the preservation of Islam and Muslims. They claim their heinous acts constitute ‘jihad’, and thus, those who join in their misguided cause will enter paradise. They justify the killing of innocent civilians by misinterpreting Islam and brainwashing susceptible and often vulnerable individuals. Dr. Qadri argued it is thus imperative to make Islam's stance on terrorism precisely evident in the light of the Quran and Sunnah so that the Muslims as well as non-Muslims of the world do not suffer from any misunderstanding and ambiguity.
He explained at length, in the light of the Quranic verses, Prophetic traditions, and expositions by eminent Islamic authorities of faith and jurisprudence that perpetrating terrorism against innocent citizens, massacres of humankind, suicide bombings, the destruction of national assets and property is absolutely against Islam; it amounts to an ‘act of kufr’. Islam does not permit such acts under any excuse, reason or pretext. Moreover, Islamic teachings do not allow any group of people to take up arms, and wage war against the state and challenge its written authority. This is sheer mischief-mongering and civil war. Islamic law regards it rebellion and insurgency. He clarified that even if Muslims, living within a state, are being persecuted at the hands of foreign non-Muslim powers, and the Muslim government remains silent over such persecution, even then no individual or group of individuals is allowed to take the law into their own hands. Instead, one should use democratic means of protest and peaceful ways of resolution should be adopted.

Citing various Quranic verses, Prophetic traditions, sayings of the Companions, and renowned jurists and scholars of Hadith, Dr. Qadri made it clear that even in a state of war, and during warfare, Islam strictly prohibits the killing of peaceful citizens, women, children, the sick and the old. Moreover, during a battle, it is unlawful in Islam to destroy trees, crops, buildings and places of worship of any faith.

Dr. Qadri said the first ever ‘war against terror’ in Islamic history occurred during the Caliphate of Sayyidina Ali (r.a). The Khawarij and Harooria were a rebellious group of people and the first militant terrorists. They rejected Sayyidina Ali’s (r.a) policy of dialogue, arbitration and peaceful means of dispute resolution. They were in favor of resolution through armed conflict. They used Islamic slogans of Jihad and rebelled against the state, and justified human killings according to their extremist theology. The Khawarij committed acts of terrorism whilst citing Divine law in their defense, arguing they were acting for the dominance of Islam. However, the Holy Prophet (saw) had already identified the Khawarij in more than fifty Prophetic traditions. He (saw) stated they were outside the ambit of Islam, had no legitimate authority to declare jihad, and instead, were the worst of humankind. Sayyidina Ali (r.a), with his army, himself fought against them in order to stop their atrocities, and eradicated the Kharijite terrorism.

Dr Qadri’s detailed religious edict consists of 200 pages, and clarifies his point of view in the light of dozens of verses from the Holy Quran, Prophetic traditions, countless commentaries of Muslim jurists, etc. This religious edict is in the process of publication, and will be available in the form of a book in Arabic, Urdu and English, later this week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rights of minorities in Islam

Dated: 26 August 2009

by Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

Following a flurry of unfortunate incidents that involved mass scale persecution of the Christian community in Gojra and the misrepresentation of the religious teachings, it is high time we initiated intellectual discourse aimed at identifying the factors, which led to this tragedy. The principal purpose behind this exercise should be to fashion a cohesive and comprehensive strategy to educate masses about the real teachings of Islam and preempt any similar untoward incident in future. It is also of equal importance to seek input of the representatives of all schools of thought and other sections of society like journalists, intellectuals, civil society activists, lawyers and professors etc. Ideally, the Islamic Ideology Council is well suited to spearhead this initiative and give it institutionalised base for the production of effective results. The second phase of such an arrangement may be geared to engage the minorities living within Pakistan in a constructive dialogue aimed at allaying their apprehensions and fears.
I am of the considered opinion that the long-term solution to such problems lies in changing the mindset through sustained engagement and projection of real teachings of Islam so that no bigoted mullah, having a limited understanding of Islam, could exploit the religious feelings of people for ulterior motives.
Islam seeks to establish such a society where all citizens of the state enjoy equal rights and religion does not become the basis for any discrimination. Islamic law holds both Muslims and non-Muslims equal and no superiority or privilege is given to the Muslims on any ground. The history of Islam is replete with such examples. Once, a Muslim, who was accused of killing a non-Muslim, was presented in the court of Hazrat Ali (ra). The evidence supported the accusation. When Hazrat Ali ordered the Muslim to be killed by way of qisas, the relatives of the murderer made the brother of the killed forgive by paying him the compensation money. When the Caliph came to know of it, he asked, "Perhaps these people may have coerced you into saying so." To this, he replied in the negative, saying that the killing would not bring his brother back. Since they were paying him blood money, it would help the family financially to some extent. The Caliph agreed to the deal but added that the principle underlying the functioning of his government was "the blood of those of our non-Muslim subjects is equal to our blood and his blood money is like our blood money." (Abu Yusuf, Kitab-ul-Khiraj, p. 187)
Secondly, every member of an Islamic society is entitled to privacy and personal life. No one can be allowed to enter his house or interfere in his matters without his consent. The minorities enjoy similar rights in an Islamic state as the Muslims do. It is the fundamental principle of Islamic law that it enjoins the similar rights and duties on both Muslim and non-Muslim citizens without any discrimination.
Thirdly, Islam ordains people to worship Allah Almighty but it does not coerce followers of other religions to accept Islam and change their creed. Invitation to truth and use of coercion are mutually exclusive realities. The Holy Quran has communicated the Islamic message of truth in these words: "(O Glorious Messenger!) Invite towards the path of your Lord with strategic wisdom and refined exhortation and (also) argue with them in a most decent manner. Surely your Lord knows him well who strayed away from His path and He also knows well the rightly guided." (16:125)
Islam has strictly disallowed the adoption of such method of invitation, which affects the religious independence of the other party. Allah Almighty says at another place: "There is no coercion in religion. Verily, guidance has manifestly been distinguished from error." (2:256)
Fourthly, the non-Muslim minorities are free to undertake any business enterprise or profession in an Islamic state like their Muslim counterparts and no restriction can be imposed upon them in this regard. However, those businesses, which are collectively injurious for the society, would be completely prohibited both for the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims. The minorities are also free to adopt any profession they like. They would also be subject to same trade-related taxation as the Muslims.
Fifthly, as it is the responsibility of the Islamic state to provide for the disabled or the poor or the destitute or the old, in the same way, it is also under obligation to pay for the maintenance of a member of the minority community in case of his disability, old age or poverty. Minorities enjoy equal rights in terms of collective maintenance in an Islamic state. According to a tradition reported by Abu 'Ubaid in Kitab-ul-Amwal, "The Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave a donation to a Jewish family and it continued to be delivered even after (the Holy Prophet's departure from this world)."
Sixthly, Islamic state is responsible for the protection and security of minorities. If it has entered into an agreement with another nation, the protection and security of the latter also falls under its domain of responsibility.
One of the conditions that defined the agreements between Muslims and the conquered non-Muslim minorities was that the Islamic government would be responsible for provision of basic necessities and security of lives of the minorities. The Peace Agreement, which was struck with the residents of the Heera had the following written in it: "A non-Muslim who grows old and cannot work or becomes disabled due to a natural calamity or he was previously rich but has become poor due to some untoward happening, the government would not charge any tax from such calamity-stricken people. Rather these people and their families would be provided with the maintenance allowance out of official treasury." (Ibn Rushd, Badiyat-ul-Mujtahid, vol. 2, p. 310)
The minorities cannot be compelled to render defence services. Rather, it is the responsibility of the Islamic state to defend them. Since the Islamic state is responsible for the protection of lives, honour and property of the minorities and they do not have any other obligation with regard to defence, they are liable to contribute financially to the Islamic state in the form of a tax called Jizya. Even then, Islam has taught about justice and good manners when it comes to the imposition of Jizya on the minorities.
Due to space constraint, I cannot delve deeper into the Islamic history to prove empirically how minorities were treated in an Islamic state. The reprehensible Gojra-style incidents happen because of our society's lack of knowledge of actual teachings of Islam. The vacuum of knowledge so created is bridged by the semi-literate clergy with no exposure to the Islamic historical tradition, demands of contemporary age and challenges of future.