Quote of the week: “There is no Islam without unity, no unity without leadership, and no leadership without obedience.” Umar ibn al-Khattab (rta)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Pilgrim's letter: sharing the post Hajj aura

Dr. Farhana Azim shares the unforgettable experience of her Hajj.

Assalamu Alaikum,

I am back from Hajj by the grace of my Rabb and with the commission of your Duas. All the relatives, friends and colleagues, whom I am addressing in this letter, were in my heart and in my Duas at Arafat and the Masjid-e-Haram. It was the least I could do for them, but I have faith that those Duas Allah - Rabus Samawat ul Ard - will grant in the most, Insha’Allah!

This has been a journey of a lifetime, of immense attainment, learning and enrichment. It has been one journey that took me so many years to embark on… for lack of ultimate preparedness and adjournment of that call from Allah (swt).

Hajj is a ritual and a pillar of faith, which completes the whorl for the wreath that adorns a life of purity supposedly destined for Heaven. This pillar of faith guided me to reinforce my life-structure more dogmatically, since the burden of a lifetime’s transgressions weighed on me heavily. It meant asking Allah (swt) to remodel me to the way of life, as prescribed in the Quran and the Sunnah, and to bring change in my perspective in aspiring for Mominhood from Muslimhood.

In the crowd of 3.5 millions, I may have bumped into a CEO, a leader, an academic or a beggar; there’s really no way to tell the difference. Rank and pomp are divorced of status. Ego is driven out of platform. In this condition, the Hajj does its work. More importantly, in this global commune of people, I saw people from all over the world come here for the love of their Creator. I witnessed how they dealt with each other in untoward situations and used Sabr and Shukr as weapons to combat the lurking Shaitan.

What I endured served to remind me constantly that Hajj is Jihad! Blessed is the Hajj, whose hardships serve to please Allah (swt). I am thankful to Allah (swt) that the forty days I spent there were almost a Jihad - situations varying from the famine of Ethiopia to the afflictions of refugees in distraught, on foot without shelter, men and women with no proper amenities or logistics. In my deal with Allah (swt), I did not choose the ordeals; but He gave them to me - He asked a higher price for my repentance… nothing was for granted! Human ‘soul wash’ demands the highest value, perhaps even more for a sinner like me.

After my adoration for Him fetched my ultimate strength and devotion, I got the courage to ask Him for a ‘backpack’ in the end! He gave me the greatest feeling of satisfaction and Shukr I could ever receive in my life, Alhumdulillah!

Moreover, Hajj has awarded me with a longing to repent more and to submit more! In many ways I choose to bring a deeper desire for His compassion - in my soul, my heart and my senses for continuing this valuation in the life that I am left with now. I know I haven’t left His Place entirely - my heart and soul will always be there with Him in that House!

Many of us come from Hajj happily thinking that repentance is granted, it’s all over now, and we can go back to business as usual. However, for our Hajj to be Mabroor, it is essential that from now on all our activities conform to Iman at all times.

I am thankful to Allah (swt) that I was honoured with this Ziarat. Being a Hajji has put a tremendous responsibility on me to safeguard the enrichment and wealth I have brought with me, to keep my cleansed soul unspoilt and unblemished by worldly indulgences. Allah (swt), help me!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What non-Muslim scholars say about Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Hiba Magazine brings to you a selection of thought-provoking quotes by non-Muslim scholars about Prophet Muhammad (sa).  

Napoleon Bonaparte – Quoted in Christian Cherfils BONAPARTE ET ISLAM (PARIS 1914):  “I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of Qur'an which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.”

M. K. Gandhi, YOUNG INDIA, 1924: "I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These, and not the sword, carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble."

Lamartine - Histoire de la Turquie, Paris 1854, Vol II, pp. 276-77: "If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples and dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and souls... the forbearance in victory, his ambition, which was entirely devoted to one idea and in no manner striving for an empire; his endless prayers, his mystic conversations with God, his death and his triumph after death; all these attest not to an imposture but to a firm conviction which gave him the power to restore a dogma. This dogma was twofold, the unit of God and the immateriality of God; the former telling what God is, the latter telling what God is not; the one overthrowing false gods with the sword, the other starting an idea with words.

"Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire - that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?"

Edward Gibbon and Simon Ocklay - History of the Saracen Empire, London, 1870, p. 54:
"It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved, after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Koran... The Mahometans have uniformly withstood the temptation of reducing the object of their faith and devotion to a level with the senses and imagination of man. 'I believe in One God and Mahomet the Apostle of God', is the simple and invariable profession of Islam. The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the honors of the prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtue, and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion."

Rev. Bosworth Smith, Mohammed and Mohammadanism, London 1874, p. 92: "He was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Mohammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports."

Annie Besant, The Life and Teachings of Muhammad, Madras 1932, p. 4: "It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher."

Montgomery Watt, Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford 1953, p. 52: "His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad."

James A. Michener, 'Islam: The Misunderstood Religion' in Reader's Digest (American Edition), May 1955, pp. 68-70: "Muhammad, the inspired man who founded Islam, was born about A.D. 570 into an Arabian tribe that worshipped idols. Orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden. At twenty he was already a successful businessman, and soon became director of camel caravans for a wealthy widow. When he reached twenty-five, his employer, recognizing his merit, proposed marriage. Even though she was fifteen years older, he married her, and as long as she lived, remained a devoted husband.

"Like almost every major prophet before him, Muhammad fought shy of serving as the transmitter of God's word, sensing his own inadequacy. But the angel commanded 'Read'. So far as we know, Muhammad was unable to read or write, but he began to dictate those inspired words which would soon revolutionize a large segment of the earth: "There is one God."

"In all things Muhammad was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumors of God's personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad is said to have announced, 'An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human-being.'

"At Muhammad's own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: 'If there are any among you who worshipped Muhammad, he is dead. But if it is God you worshipped, He lives forever.'"

Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33: "My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level."

Sarojini Naidu, the famous Indian poetess says – S. Naidu, Ideals of Islam, Speeches and Writings, Madaras, 1918: “It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: 'God Alone is Great'...”

Thomas Caryle – Heros and Heros’ Worship: “How one man single-handedly, could weld warring tribes and Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades?”

“…The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammed) are disgraceful to ourselves only… How one man single-handedly, could weld warring tribes and wandering Bedouins into a most powerful and civilized nation in less than two decades… A silent great soul, one of that who cannot but be earnest. He was to kindle the world; the world’s Maker had ordered so."

Stanley Lane-Poole – Table Talk of the Prophet: “He was the most faithful protector of those he protected, the sweetest and most agreeable in conversation. Those who saw him were suddenly filled with reverence; those who came near him loved him; they who described him would say, "I have never seen his like either before or after." He was of great taciturnity, but when he spoke it was with emphasis and deliberation, and no one could forget what he said...”

George Bernard Shaw - The Genuine Islam Vol. No. 8, 1936: “I believe if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring much needed peace and happiness. I have studied him - the man and in my opinion is far from being an anti–Christ. He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammad that it would be acceptable the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

Friday, September 28, 2012

‘He of the High Desire’ - Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Maryam Sakeenah beautifully describes Ibrahim’s (as) strong faith in monotheism, of which every Haji is reminded, when carrying out the sacred rituals at the House of Allah (swt). 

“I will go where no road goes, and the road shall go with me.”

When I first came across this verse by Joscelyn Ortt, it occurred to me how remarkably it fitted in with the story of Ibrahim’s (as) struggle to surrender. Courageously, honest to the innate truth within the self, he sought out the truest ‘God’ - beginning with the negation of false pagan godhood, he ultimately found Allah (swt). It is fascinating to read the account of his search for the truth: 

“When he (Ibrahim) saw the sun rising up, he said: ‘This is my lord. This is greater.’ But when it set, he said: ‘…Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth, and I am not of those who join partners with Him…’ And that (faith) was Our Proof which We gave Ibrahim against his people. We raise whom We will in degrees. Certainly, Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Al-Anam 6:78-83)

Ibrahim (as) brings together in his person honesty and courage to proclaim it loud and clear.  He attained the truth through his lone, relentless struggle and rejected once and for all whatever impeded the way to his Lord. He fearlessly showed that truth to the world with all his passion. The Quran quotes Ibrahim (as), while addressing, those who rejected the truth:

“Who has created me, and it is He Who guides me; and it is He Who feeds me and gives me to drink. And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; and Who will cause me to die, and then will bring me to life (again); and Who, I hope will forgive my faults on the Day of Recompense (the Day of Resurrection.” (Ash-Shu’ara 26:78-82)

Taking the road less traveled demands strength, persistence and honesty. Only the Hanif (uni-focal) can triumphantly go through the trials it involves and ascend to a higher realm of the contented self (Nafs-e-Mutma’inna). Ibrahim’s (as) struggle was a struggle to win Islam (peace through submission). This struggle began with the negation of false gods (La Ilaha) and led the soul on to a recognition and acceptance of the only truth that brought with it the peace of Ill Allah. “When his Lord said to him: ‘Submit (i.e. be a Muslim!)’ He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131)

Having internalized this faith and lived it out with his person, Ibrahim (as) becomes the embodiment of Tauhid. “Verily, Ibrahim was an Uummah’ (a leader having all the good righteous qualities) or a nation, obedient to Allah, Hanifa (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not among those who were Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and those who joined partners with Allah). (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to the Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism, neither Judaism nor Christianity).” (An-Nahl 16:120-121)

For when the sweetness of Imaan is tasted, nothing else satisfies, nothing else fulfils. Ibrahim (as) was possessed by this single idea, which gave meaning to his life and which enlightened, elevated, enriched and purified. Ibrahim’s (as) faith in and love for Allah (swt) rings through his beautiful prayers: “My Lord! Bestow Hukman (religious knowledge, right judgement of the affairs and Prophethood) on me and join me with the righteous; and grant me an honourable mention in the later generations; and make me one of the inheritors of the Paradise of Delight.” (Ash-Shu’ara 26:83-85)

The achievement of contented self brings out the soul in all the richness, beauty and grandeur that human nature is capable of, till the exclusive title Ahsan i Taqweem (the best of all creation) is earned and Allah (swt) Himself bears testimony of it: “Salamun (peace) be upon Ibrahim (Abraham)! Thus indeed do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers). Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves.” (As-Saffaat 37:109-111)

The faith of the contented self expresses itself in ways larger than life, much greater than what is humanly understandable. The patience of Ibrahim (as) in the trials he went through and his exemplary sacrifices were such expression of the faith of the contented self, the intensity of which transcends the limitations of historical time. Ibrahim’s (as) faith broke free from the tethers that bind man to the pettiness of the minimal self (Nafs-e-Ammara) - from base desires and egoistic impulses.

Allah (swt) reciprocates, blesses and preserves the glorious deeds of His righteous slaves. Hence, Ibrahim (as), having triumphed over all of life’s trials, received the boundless love of His Lord. The mention of Ibrahim (as) in the Quran resonates with love of the Speaker, the Lord of Ibrahim (as). Allah (swt) says:
“And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follows Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism); and he is a Muhsin (a good-doer). And follows the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism – to worship none but Allah Alone). And Allah did take Ibrahim (Abraham) as a Khalil (an intimate friend).” (An-Nisa’, 4:125)

“Verily, Ibrahim (Abraham) was, without doubt, forbearing, used to invoke Allah with humility and was repentant (to Allah all the time, again and again).” (Hud 11:75)  

Ibrahim (as) was blessed with leadership, honour and respect. He is revered as the patriarch of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim people, from whom all monotheistic faiths spring forth. And yet, the position of Ibrahim (as) in Islam is unique. The pristine Tauheed of Islam, which accepts no resemblance of Shirk in any manifestation, is the continuation of the mission of Ibrahim (as). Allah (swt) insists in the Quran to follow the religion of Ibrahim, the pure monotheistic tradition: “… it is the religion of your father Ibrahim (Abraham) (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Hajj 22:78)  

Even before Islam, the Arabs were conscious and proud of their Abrahamic ancestry. Despite the corruption of polytheism and many rampant social ills, the concept of the one God of Ibrahim (as) was part of Arab tradition in one form or another. Islam purified, reinstated and revived that Abrahamic faith with its simple declaration of La ilaha il Allah (no god but Allah) and, hence, has a legitimate claim of being a consummation of the Abrahamic mission.

It will not be an overstatement to say that the ritual of Hajj is in many ways a commemoration of the extraordinary life and struggle of Ibrahim (as) and his family. It celebrates the edifying legacy of Ibrahim (as), who had prayed: “Our Lord! Make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You ... send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad (saw), who shall recite unto them Your verses and instruct them in the Book (this Quran) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom of Prophethood, etc.) and sanctify them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:128-129) 

The rituals of Hajj immortalize Ibrahim’s (as) faith and privilege the believers to take of the immensity of that boundless treasure. The Kaabah itself speaks of Ibrahim’s (as) faith and his belief in the oneness of God. M. Asad writes: “Never had I felt so strongly as now, before the Kaabah, that the hand of the builder (Ibrahim) had come so close to his religious conception. In the utter simplicity of a cube, in the complete renunciation of all beauty of line and form, spoke this thought: ‘Whatever beauty man may be able to create with his hands, it will be only conceit to deem it worthy of God; therefore, the simplest that man can conceive is the greatest that he can do to express the glory of God.’... Here, in the Kaabah, even the size spoke of human renunciation and self-surrender; the proud modesty of this structure had no compare in the world.” 

Each time the pilgrim performs a ritual, he experiences again for a blessed moment that edifying legacy and revives within him again - in a minuscule proportion - that spirit. When he prays at the Maqam-e-Ibrahim, he as a monotheist reaffirms his association with Ibrahim (as), the Haneef, and realizes, how the passionate faith of ‘those of the high desire’ is immortalized by the Immortal, how the footsteps in the sands of time remain, leading, guiding, enlightening and blessing - always showing the way, the Sirat-al-Mustaqeem; going where no road goes, taking the road with them.

The roots of the name ‘Ibrahim’, as traced by Hebraic and Aramaic scholars, come from a word, which means ‘he of the high desire’.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mini Fried Chicken

  • Chicken (Karahi pieces) 1 kg
  • Egg 1
  • Yogurt 1 cup
  • Gram flour 1 cup
  • Crushed black pepper 1 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
  • Chaat Masala 2 tsp
  • Crushed red pepper 2 tsp
  • Crushed cumin seeds 2 tsp
  • Lemon juice 4 tbsp
  • Oil for frying
  1.  Marinate 1 kg chicken pieces with 1 cup yogurt, 2 tsp crushed red pepper, 2 tsp crushed cumin seeds, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, 2 tsp Chaat Masala, 1 egg and 4 tbsp lemon juice.
  2. Keep in refrigerator overnight.
  3. Next day, coat with 1 cup gram flour thoroughly.
  4. Deep-fry until golden brown and crisp.
(Recipe by Chef Rida Aftab)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Islamic social etiquette

Umm Saad highlights the noble mannerism and grace portrayed by Allah's Messenger (sa) in times when ignorance and indecency was rife.

Allah (swt) states in the holy Quran, "Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sa) you have a good example to follow, if you hope for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah much." (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Therefore, the Prophet (sa) is the best role model for every Muslim that has provided numerous examples in every aspect of human behaviour. The following pearls from his social etiquettes are enlightening.

Spreading the greeting of Salaam

The Messenger of Allah (sa) commanded us to do seven things: to visit the sick, to attend funerals, to bless a Muslim, when he sneezes, to support the weak, to help the one, who is oppressed, to spread Salaam (peace), and to help people fulfill their oaths (Bukhari & Muslim).

He also said, "By the One, in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise, until you believe, and you will not believe, until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that if you do, you will love one another? Spread Salaam amongst yourselves." (Muslim)

Unfortunately, today in Islamic societies this greeting has been replaced by foreign ones, especially among new generations, who are either ashamed or consider it old-fashioned to use the Islamic greeting. Obviously, they are unaware that a simple ‘Assalaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu' can earn them 30 rewards from Allah (swt)!

Not entering anyone's house without his permission

Allah (swt) commands, "O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may take heed." (An-Nur 24:27)

Islam urges Muslims to do the following, when visiting others: “Whenever the Prophet (sa) came to a door seeking permission to enter, he did not stand facing it. He would stand to the right or to the left, and if he was given permission, he would enter; otherwise, he would leave.” (Bukhari)

Impatiently ringing the doorbell, yelling out the in mates name, and grumbling, when the person we had intended to visit is unavailable, are signs of impoliteness and impertinence. They have no room in a Muslim's life.

Sitting wherever one finds room in a gathering

In a gathering, a Muslim should sit wherever he finds space. He is neither to push through the people in order to sit at the head of the gathering, nor make another give up his space for him. The Prophet (sa) taught his companions to adopt these etiquettes, when joining a gathering.

Jabir ibn Samurah (rta) said, "When we came to the Prophet (sa), we would sit, wherever we found room." (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said, "None of you should make another get up, then sit in his place. All of you should move up and make space (for the latecomer)." (Bukhari & Muslim)

The basic instruction is to accommodate and show courtesy. Nowadays, it is common not to leave any space available, because of improper seating arrangements, and the latecomer is usually forced to stand. Similarly, some make grand arrivals without realizing the disturbance they cause to an ongoing gathering or speech.

Avoiding yawning in a gathering

The Prophet (sa) advised Muslims, "If any of you wants to yawn, then let him suppress it as much as possible." (Bukhari, Muslim)

If the urge to yawn cannot be resisted, then a Muslim should cover his mouth with his hand. The Prophet (sa) commanded, "If any of you yawns, let him cover his mouth with his hand, so that the Shaytan does not enter." (Muslim)

Yawning is not only rude but a sign of boredom that may hurt the feelings of others. Even the very sophisticated manage to shock you, when they open their mouths as wide as a hippopotamus in the middle of a conversation.

Following the Islamic etiquette, when sneezing

Islam also teaches a Muslim, what he should say, when he sneezes, and what he should say, when he hears another sneeze.

Abu Huraira (rta) said, "The Prophet (sa) said, ‘Allah likes the act of sneezing and dislikes the act of yawning. When any one of you sneezes and says - Alhamdulillah, then he has the right to hear every Muslim say - Yarhamuk Allah. But yawning is from Shaytan, so if anyone of you feels the urge to yawn, he should resist it as much as he can, for when any of you yawns, the Shaytan laughs at him.'” (Bukhari)

Not looking into other people's houses

A true Muslim does not spy on his host or pry into that, which does not concern him. The Prophet (sa) warned those, who let their gaze wander in gatherings in an attempt to see things that are none of their business.

The Prophet (sa) said, "Whoever looks into someone's house without his permission, then it is permissible for the people of the house to take his eyes out." (Muslim)

Not finding fault with others

The Prophet (sa) issued a stern warning against the danger of slandering other people's honour and exposing their faults.

The Prophet (sa) said, "Do not hurt the feelings of the servants of Allah, do not embarrass them, do not seek to expose their faults; whoever seeks to expose the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah (swt) will seek to expose his faults and expose him, even if he hides in the innermost part of his home." (Ahmad)

Apart from the above, there are numerous other social etiquettes that will be discussed in future issues, Insha'Allah.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Noman Ali Khan: When they insult our Prophet (sa)

Short, simple and straight forward advice from Noman Ali Khan - dos and don'ts in the way to respond to those, who insult Prophet Muhammad (sa):


Monday, September 24, 2012

Mercy During War

Rana Rais Khan observes how Allah's Apostle (sa) upheld the humanitarian ideals even at times of war against the most tyrant enemies.

Islam did not conquer lands and enter hearts by inflicting torture, raping helpless women or killing the innocent. Indeed, 1400 years before the Geneva Convention or any other War Crimes Tribunal was formed, the Prophet (sa) and his companions (rta) displayed a great sense of mercy and justice, when dealing with the enemies of Islam, which is prominently absent nowadays. The horrific stories of savageness today put every human being on earth to shame. Tribunals and other organizations appear either feeble or ineffective in delivering justice. Looking back at Islamic history, we encounter remarkable examples of Islam's magnanimous soldiers.

After the victorious battle of Badr, upon Prophet's (sa) orders, a ransom was set with consideration of the financial circumstances of the captives. As a result, some poor captives were released even without ransom. Others were allowed to work for their freedom. Given that the polytheists of Makkah were literate as compared to the Muslims of Madinah, the Muslims would ask the literate Makkan captives to teach the younger generations of Madinah literacy in return for their freedom. Accordingly, they were entrusted with ten children, and as soon as the children were proficient, the prisoners were set free.

The Prophet (sa) encouraged Muslims to treat prisoners humanely, so much so that Muslim captors would give to them the most valued item in their meal-bread-and keep only dates for themselves. After the battle of Badr, the Prophet (sa) ordered to bury the dead bodies of Islam's enemies in a dry well, rather than leave them around for birds and beasts to prey on. This he did out of respect for their dignity, as well as out of mercy for the family of the dead. On the contrary, the disbelievers mutilated the dead bodies of Muslim soldiers in the following battle of Uhud. Prophet's (sa) uncle's Hamza's (rta) heart was cut out by Hind bint Utbah, Abu Sufyan's wife, out of barbaric vengeance. Prophet (sa) simply forgave her and never avenged her even later in life, when she converted to Islam.

Another extraordinary example is of when the Prophet's (sa) son-in-law Amr ibnul Aas (who was yet a disbeliever) was captured in Badr fighting against Muslims. The Prophet (sa) did not make any distinction between his relatives and strangers. The Prophet's (sa) daughter Zainab (rta) sent her late mother's Khadija's (rta) necklace to secure the freedom of her husband Amr ibnul Aas. Though this gesture greatly saddened the Prophet (sa), reminding him of his late beloved wife.

Likewise, before the commencement of the battle of Uhud, Allah's Messenger (sa) gave his sword to Abu Dujanah (rta). The companion demonstrated incredible valor before the enemies. As he was moving into the thick of the battle, he rushed to kill a person, who was inciting the enemy to fight the Muslims. Upon this, that person shrieked. It was a woman, Hind bint Utbah. Abu Dujanah spared her saying: "I respect the Prophet's sword too much to use it on a woman." Though she was actively involved in the war, a sense of compassion took over Abu Dujanah (rta), comprehending the Prophet's (sa) merciful nature.

Once, the Jewish tribe of Bani Nadir revoked the treaty they had agreed upon with the Muslims and attempted to murder the Prophet (sa) by deception. Consequently, the Prophet (sa) and his troops lay siege on Bani Nadir's fortresses for a considerable time. Eventually, the Jews began to despair of any help from their allies, and Huyay agreed to go into exile with his people. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) allowed them to take all the possessions that their camels could carry, except for their arms and armor, as well as safeguarded their departure from Madinah. 
Bani Nadir loaded their doors and even their lintels onto their camels. As they made their way through the crowded market of Madinah, the camels were objects of wonder, both for the richness of their trapping and the wealth of their load. Women displayed garments of silk or brocade, most of them laden with ornaments of gold, rubies, emeralds, etc. Muslims permitted their enemies to march off with pride.

The battle of Mu'tah was the beginning of great Muslim conquests into the lands of Christians. It all started, when the close ally of the Roman Empire, Amr al-Ghassani, beheaded the Prophet's (sa) messenger, Al-Harith bin Umair (rta), while delivering a letter to the ruler of Basra. The killing of an envoy was grounds enough for Muslims to declare war. But the Prophet (sa) suggested that the Muslims invite the enemy to profess Islam first, and then, based on their response, they would decide whether to wage war or make peace.

Islam also condemns any purposeful destruction of the enemy's property. The Prophet (sa) always ordered his army: "Fight the disbelievers in the name of Allah, neither plunder nor conceal booty, kill neither children nor women, nor an ageing man, nor a hermit be killed; moreover, neither trees should be cut down nor homes demolished." (Zadul Ma'ad 2/155, Fathul-Bari 7/511)

A translation from the Quran states: "And indeed whosoever takes revenge after he has suffered wrong, for such there is no way (of blame) against them. The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification; for such there will be a painful torment. And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah." (Ash-Shura 42:41-43)

Obeying Allah's (swt) instructions to attain the level of Ihsaan (a beautiful deed), Muslim soldiers made a great impact on the lives of many non-Muslims. Indeed, there is a famous saying: "History has never known more merciful conquerors than the Arabs." It was this mercy that allowed Islam to relieve nations from cruelty, injustice, and barbarism and introduce a civilized way of life.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tie Your Camel: Do Your Part

Affaf Jamal forewarns that sickness is no stranger to Hajj pilgrims. Therefore, it is best to prepare yourself beforehand.

Every Muslim, who is physically and financially able, must make the Hajj at least once. It is one of the most memorable and spiritually edifying experiences in the life of a Muslim. So, what is it like to prepare for and perform this physically grueling, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage?

One of the most important challenges to be prepared for is protecting yourself from the chances of catching diseases that affect your health. Approximately two million pilgrims gather in certain places at specified times. This can present major health challenges to them.

The following are some health issues and present prevention tips anyone should find useful before embarking on Hajj:

Consult your physician

Consult your physician to know about the new preventive procedures and necessary vaccines.

Pilgrims must carry on their personal medical card that explains their medical condition in detail for receiving prompt treatment in case of emergency.

Avoid dehydration

Most of us are not acclimatized to the intense heat that is experienced during Hajj. This leaves us open to the life-threatening conditions of heat stress and dehydration.

Substantial amount of liquid is lost through perspiration; hence, the pilgrim is advised to drink at frequent intervals to compensate the loss.

Limit your sun exposure

Use sunscreen and wear approved sunglasses. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Use an umbrella or other protective gadget.

Wear a broad rimed hat along with loose light coloured clothing (these clothes are to be worn, when not in the state of Ihram).

Watch what you are drinking

Water may be contaminated. To avoid such diseases as Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera, try using bottled water, carbonated beverages, boiled water, hot coffee and tea, as these are generally safe.

Wipe bottle and can tops and use your own straws.

Use bottled water or boiled water for cooking and making ice.

Watch where and what you eat

  • Contaminated food can transmit diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and enteritis. Raw, poorly cooked foods, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided unless prepared in a reputable establishment.
  • Wash your hands before and after meals and every time you use the bathroom.
  • All fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before consumption.
  • Do not leave food exposed to open air, dust, and germs.
  • Moreover you may wish to take some antibiotics or anti diarrhea medication on hand.

Avoid unnecessary exhaustion

Hajj requires lots of strenuous physical activity. Although Allah amply rewards all of it, the intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate can take a serious toll on the body.

The aged, women, patients suffering from heart and respiratory ailments, and the physically challenged Muslims planning on this blessed trip must be accompanied by able bodied and healthy caretakers.

Avoid the usage of contaminated razors

Do not to use contaminated razors while having your hair shaved. A lot of contagious and blood transmitted diseases can be communicated in this way. Use disposable razors and dispose them safely once they have been used.

Use of masks

If you decide on using nose and mouth masks it is highly recommended that you change them frequently because they concentrate a good deal of dust, dirt and germs.

Stay clear of wide-open spaces

To sleep on the streets or under bridges throughout the Hajj season is harmful as these are ideal places for the spread of infectious diseases. It also cause fatigue and exhaustion to those who sleep in the open and exposes them to sunstrokes.

No smoking

The harmful effects of smoking are too evident to be denied. There is a consensus among contemporary scholars that it is prohibited. The harmful effects are not confined to the smoker himself but the non-smokers around him through passive smoking.

First-aid kits

Remember to pack a personal medical kit containing first-aid supplies, and adequate amounts of prescription medication in original containers.

Practice good personal hygiene

  • Take all the equipment you need for personal cleanliness.
  • Dispose litter in baskets provided for the purpose.
  • Do not spit on the ground.
  • In order to avoid infectious disease, use the toilets for urination and defecation. Use them properly and keep them clean for others.


Fatigue and lack of sleep from the physically demanding regimen of Hajj rites can lower immunity and resistance, making pilgrims more vulnerable to disease. Getting and staying in good physical shape by regular exercise can ward off illness.

In conclusion, it is a Muslim's belief that everything that happens in this world is by the will of Allah. Similarly, any illness or misfortune that may or may not befall us is by the will of Allah. Whilst it is true that we should accept whatever "misfortune" befalls us, we are also taught to avoid or reduce the possibility of these "misfortunes" by taking positive steps. We must make all these preparations as they are in line with a well-known saying of Prophet Muhammad (sa):"Tie your camel, then put your trust in Allah."

Note: The above are general guidelines and are not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a knowledgeable Hajj travel physician.

Required vaccines for Pakistani Pilgrims

Pakistani Muslims, traveling to Saudi Arabia require a visa, a passport and proof of having received the inoculations required of any Pakistani citizen going abroad.

Saudi Arabia mandates that travelers to Hajj be vaccinated against meningitis to help prevent illness from contaminated food and water sources. The large crowds strain Saudi Arabia's sanitation services.

Some physicians also suggest additional vaccinations to protect against typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria / tetanus and malaria.