By Abdul-Latif Halimi
Six weeks ago, saw the same dream three mornings in a row. I told only one person, and though I thought about sharing it publicly, I ultimately backed off.
But considering what happened overnight in Damascus, with the assassination of a top general (Shaykh Zahran Alloush), I feel like sharing it for some reason.
Basically, I was praying Fajr at the Umayyad Mosque. As I stepped out onto the courtyard after prayer, it was a warm summer morning and there was a gentle breeze.
I remember being barefoot and the courtyard being very cool and absolutely silent with no-one in sight. There was a surreal stillness and tranquility.
As I walked towards the exit, a man runs up and taps me on the shoulder and asks me, ‘aren’t you going?’
I responded, ‘to where?’
Him: ‘To the pledge of allegiance.’
Me: ‘What are you talking about?’
So I followed him into a room adjacent to the main praying space and was very curious.
When I walked in, the first thing I saw were the crosses held by Christian priests and the hats of the Druze mashayekh standing right in front of me.
Everyone was streaming in the same direction, to a distant corner of the room. I was impatient and felt like pushing through, but ultimately decided against it.
Eventually, reached the front.
There was a man dressed in black from top to bottom, maybe in his late fifties, who was taking a pledge of allegiance from everyone to be the leader over us.
There was incredible contentment in that room. A sense of dignified victory, celebration and collective accomplishment for Muslims everywhere and the non-Muslims of Syria too.
Now, I pray and hope there’s some glad-tidings in that.
But even if there isn’t and just a figment of my imagination, something remains: this is a fertile city and land.
This is the city of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz, of Saladin, of Ibn Qudamah, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Abidin and hundreds of others whose legacy and greatness we seek guidance and inspiration from every single day.
This is the city of the Messiah’s return to earth. The city of Imam al-Mahdi.
Damascus is the city at the heart of Bilaad Ash-Sham; the Abode of Islam and the cream of Allah’s Lands into which the pillars of monotheism were planted by the angels, according to a Hadith Qudsi.
This city never leaned on a leader or another; it always knew another one was coming who would be even greater, capped by the return of one of the greatest men to set foot on earth: Jesus, the Son of Mary, peace be upon him and his mother.
So great leaders are coming, and days of victory, security and tranquility will accompany them.
By Abdul-Latif Halimi
Salahudeen al-Ayyubi (Saladin) is in Aleppo.
He’s in a camp with his generals and soldiers.
Quietly, a group of assassins (‘Hashashin’ of the Shi’ite-Isma’ili sect from west Syria) slip into the camp wanting to kill Salahudeen.
But a nobleman in the camp, by the name of Nasih ud-Deen Khumartakin, who was Emir of the fortress in the picture, identifies these assassins and likely recognises what they want to do.
He hurries towards them and confronts them very loudly, leading them to stab him many times and kill him.
But though his body is lying on the floor, he did enough to raise attention of nearby guards who ultimately killed the assassins and saved Salahudeen’s life.
Salahudeen would of course, twelve years later, go on to liberate Jerusalem and become a shining example in the Muslim World.
But back to Nasih ud-Deen, who received little to no credit throughout Islamic history. The fact that his actions helped keep Saladin safe from assassination, while risking and ultimately paying with his own life, is not widely known.
In fact, very few know this man’s name and he’s largely been buried into the obscurity of history. Well and truly forgotten.
But Allah didn’t forget him, or his sacrifice and actions.
Not in the least.
Similarly, all the sacrifices made by the ‘forgotten’ and ‘silent’ people, or by people in private… or anything that is not appreciated by the people, will not go to waste or be forgotten. Rather, it may be the greatest of actions with the most fruitful of results.
So may Allah accept Nasih ud-Deen Khumartakin into the ranks of the martyrs, and may Allah have mercy on both he and the man whose life he helped save.
By Abdul-Latif Halimi
Erdogan is not a hero.
Yes, he’s the best Turkey has to offer at the moment and is infinitely better than the alternative, and should be supported against that alternative. And his good policies should be praised and encouraged.
And if you know me well, you’d know I’ve defended him against a lot of misplaced criticism in the past and celebrated his victories over the Kemalists and in crushing the military and helping Turkey recover economically.
But he is not a hero and should not be idealised as one by the Muslim World.
A hero doesn’t watch 100,000 Muslims killed in northern Syria, a few kilometers away from Turkish airbases and the barracks of the second largest NATO army, and not directly come to the aid of the oppressed as barrel bombs fall on their heads.
A hero doesn’t enable Turkish businesses to maintain growing billion-dollar trade relations with Israel, which continue today and will only grow further as relations will be normalised soon with the Netanyahu government.
If that is a hero to you, your standards are low and you should not speak in the political affairs of the Muslim World.
When are we going to learn balance and give political issues the careful and objective deliberation they require?
The man has good and bad, but he’s no hero and should not be treated as one.
Lift the standards and expectations.
By Abdul-Latif Halimi
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti says chess is Haram (impermissible).
Okay, no problem.
Do you know what else is Haram?
Six of the seven worst countries for child mortality (deaths at birth) are Muslim. In Afghanistan, one in seven children die at birth, while in Japan it’s 1 in 500.
Seven of the ten worst countries for literacy in the world are Muslim-majority. In Niger, a country where 99% of people are Muslim, only 19% of people know how to write their name.
Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Algeria and Nigeria — with a combined 800 million Muslims — don’t have a single university ranked in the world’s top 300 (QS, 2015).
California, a US state, has a bigger economy than Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan combined.
Pakistan has had 70 polio workers killed in the past five years, has the world’s highest volume of internet searches for gay pornography, and shows more collective emotion over a cricket game than the mass-slaughter of Syrians.
Bosnia’s unemployment rate is 43%. Lebanon is a rubbish dump. Cairo is the sleaziest city in the world and one of the most polluted. Jordan is overrun with refugee girls having to prostitute themselves to eat.
200,000 killed in Syria. Thousands forgotten in Egypt’s prisons. Iraq, Libya and Yemen are death. The Mediterranean Sea is a graveyard for the Ummah’s children.
You want to talk to me about Haram? You want to talk to me about chess and Mawlid? You want to tell me Jinn stories and the seven thousand steps to a successful marriage?
But the leaders, scholars and preachers of the Muslim World need to wisen up to the political, social, economic and military catastrophes paralysing us; we should talk about Syria, endemic poverty and modern ideological confusion a thousand times more than we do about chess, moonsighting or whether it’s permissible to eat mermaid meat (yes, there’s a fatwa on that).
The Ummah’s discourse and focuses MUST mature and change to the big and pressing issues before we can lift ourselves out of this mess.
by Uthman Badar
Prof. Mohamad Abdalla in a recent video (here: https://goo.gl/eeIidL) raises this question and answers it with the claim that the is no incompatibility between being Muslim and Australian.
The core of his argument is that Islam incorporates beneficial and harmless cultural practices. It did this wherever it went. In Africa, Islam looks African. In China, Chinese. The real, deeper values of Australia are things like caring for others, egalitarianism, free health and education, a good taste for architecture and art. These are compatible with Islam. Therefore, one can and should be both Muslim and Australian.
That is his argument and it is not only flawed and extremely superficial, but dangerous.
1. It assumes that identity is all about cultural practices. A matter as important as how one identifies oneself is reduced to clothing and architecture. If the argument was that Islam does not seek a monolithic culture but allows a large degree of cultural diversity, that would be one (rather uncontroversial) thing (although there is much to be said about this notion that Islam incorporates cultural practices but we’ll leave that for another time). But to make an argument about values and identity through cultural practices is superficial. What of beliefs, creed, values, ideology, conceptions of purpose, success, political/economic/social views? Are we to understand that the colour and design of one’s hijab is more important than one’s creed or worldview?
2. What does it mean to be ‘Australian’? We know there is no objective core to being ‘Australian’ (as there is to being Muslim for instance). It has a pejorative political usage and various disputed popular usages. If we are to define it, how can we reduce the matter to caring for others, free education and architecture? Australia is a modern secular, democratic, capitalist, liberal nation-state built on a brutal and unjust invasion. How in the world can all that be ignored when conceiving of any notion of being ‘Australian’? All of these are defining features of Australia.
3. Even when reducing the issue to cultural practices, Prof. Abdalla has to be contradictorily selective to do away with all the bad cultural practices. Thus he argues that alcoholism and drug abuse are not Australian values because they are not peculiar to Australia and happen everywhere, but then goes on to affirm ‘caring for others’ and ‘good taste of architecture and art’ as Australian values. Are these peculiar to Australia? The rest of the world don’t care for others or have good taste of art?
4. What makes this argument and the approach it pushes dangerous is that it does away with the Islamic conception of the world and people and the clear distinction between Islam and its people and kufr and its people. It ignores all the factors that determine and distinguish iman and kufr, foregrounds cultural practices and as a result conceives of collectivities on other grounds. So instead of the Prophetic conception of the Muslim ummah as “one to the exclusion of others” – that is, identity and loyalty determined based on iman and kufr – we have people identifying and dividing on nationalities. Out with al-wala wa al-bara. Out with the struggle between Islam and kufr. Out with the struggle to establish the deen of Allah and make the word of Allah the highest.
5. Such an approach is political suicide for the Ummah and facilitates the agenda of western governments against Islam and Muslims. This is why such views are promoted and used by the governments. It is no coincidence that an extract from a khutba by Prof. Abdalla on this same topic with this same argument was hosted on the Abbott Government’s ‘Resilient Communities’ website in 2013 as a model sermon. It is also presented by the Government-initiated and funded National Imams Consultative Forum as a model sermon. This is because it facilitates government efforts to assimilate Muslims and strip from their core Islamic perspectives that don’t sit well in the modern secular liberal order.
6. Our message to the our youth should be to be proud and confident in their Islam and to identify as Muslims alone. Not as Australians, Americans, Europeans, or even Pakistanis or Lebanese for that matter. These are all shallow identifications and entities defined by matters contrary to Islam. Not identifying with being ‘Australian’ does not make one an outsider or a threat. Nor does it mean we isolate ourselves and don’t engage with wider society. Nay, it means that we are ideologically principled and honest. We engage with all and sundry, with respect and courtesy, but on the basis of our worldview. And it means that we carry a message and a call to change the world, instead of us merely accepting things as they are.
Tawfiq is from Allah.
The Tabuk Campaign contains many important lessons. It symbolises the Rasul’s ﷺ courage, boldness & strategic nous in statecraft: in protecting the fledgling Islamic State from future threats despite being vastly inferior to the Romans in numbers & arms & resources. Against all odds, the Muslims were able to secure a remarkable victory without having to shed a drop of blood, strengthening the cause of Islam indefinitely.
By Sayyid Abul ‘Ala Maududi, from his Tafsir of Surah At-Tauba
The Campaign to Tabuk was the result of conflict with the Roman Empire, that had started even before the conquest of Makkah. One of the missions sent after the Treaty of Hudaibiyah to different parts of Arabia visited the clans which lived in the northern areas adjacent to Syria. The majority of these people were Christians, who were under the influence of the Roman Empire. Contrary to all the principles of the commonly accepted international law, they killed fifteen members of the delegation near a place known as Zat-u-Talah (or Zat-i-Itlah). Only Ka’ab bin Umair Ghifari, the head of the delegation, succeeded in escaping and reporting the sad incident. Besides this, Shurahbll bin Amr, the Christian governor of Busra, who was directly under the Roman Caesar, had also put to death Haritli bin Umair, the ambassador of the Holy Prophet, who had been sent to him on a similar minion.
These events convinced the Holy Prophet that a strong action should be taken in order to make the territory adjacent to the Roman Empire safe and secure for the Muslims. Accordingly, in the month of Jamadi-ul-Ula A. H. 8, he sent an army of three thousand towards the Syrian border. When this army reached near Ma’an, the Muslims learned that Shurahbil was marching with an army of one hundred thousand to fight-with them and that the Caesar, who himself was at Hims, had sent another army consisting of one hundred thousand soldiers under his brother Theodore. But in spite of such fearful news, the brave small band of the Muslims marched on fearlessly and encountered the big army of Shurahbil at M’utah. And the result of the encounter in which the Muslims were fighting against fearful odds (the ratio of the two armies was 1:33), as very favorable, for the enemy utterly failed to defeat them. This proved very helpful for the propagation of Islam. As a result, those Arabs who were living in a state of semi independence in Syria and near Syria and the clans of Najd near Iraq, who were under the influence of the Iranian Empire, turned towards Islam and embraced it in thousands. For example, the people of Bani Sulaim (whose chief was Abbas bin Mirdas Sulaimi), Ashja’a, Ghatafan, Zubyan, Fazarah, etc., came into the fold of Islam at the same time. Above all, Farvah bin ‘Amral Juzami, who was the commander of the Arab armies of the Roman Empire, embraced Islam during that time, and underwent the trial of his Faith in a way that filled the whole territory with wonder. When the Caesar came to know that Farvah had embraced Islam, he ordered that he should be arrested and brought to his court. Then the Caesar said to him, “You will have to choose one of the two things. Either give up your Islam and win your liberty and your former rank, or remain a Muslim and face death.” He calmly chose Islam and sacrificed his life in the way of the Truth.
No wonder that such events as these made the Caesar realize the nature of the danger that was threatening his Empire from Arabia. Accordingly, in 9 A.H. he began to make military preparations to avenge the insult he had suffered at M’utah. The Ghassanid and other Arab chiefs also began to muster armies under him. When the Holy Prophet, who always kept himself well-informed even of the minutest things that could affect the Islamic Movement favorably or adversely, came to know of these preparations, he at once under- stood their meaning. Therefore, without the least hesitation he decided to fight against the great power of the Caesar. He knew that the show of the slightest weakness would result in the utter failure of the Movement which was facing three great dangers at that time. First the dying power of ‘ignorance’ that had almost been crushed in the battle-field of Hunain might revive again. Secondly, the Hypocrites of Al: Madinah, who were always on the look-out for such an opportunity, might make full use of this to do the greatest possible harm to it. For they had already made preparations for this and had, through a monk called Abu Amir, sent secret messages of their evil designs to the Christian king of Ghassan and the Caesar himself. Besides this, they had also built a mosque near Al-Madinah for holding secret meetings for this purpose. The third danger was of an attack by the Caesar himself, who had already defeated Iran, the other great power of that period, and filled with awe the adjacent territories.
It is obvious that if all these three elements had been given an opportunity of taking a concerted action against the Muslims, Islam would have lost the fight it had almost won. That is why in this case the Holy Prophet made an open declaration for making preparations for the Campaign against the Roman Empire, which was one of the two greatest empires of the world of that period. The declaration was made though all the apparent circumstances were against such a decision: for there was famine in the country and the long awaited crops were about to ripen: the burning heat of the scorching summer season of Arabia was at, its height and there was not enough money for preparations in general, and for equipment and conveyance in particular. But in spite of these handicaps, when the Messenger of Allah realized the urgency of the occasion, he took this step which was to decide whether the Mission of the Truth was going to survive or perish. The very fact that he made an open declaration for making preparations for such a campaign to Syria against the Roman Empire showed how important it was, for this was contrary to his previous practice. Usually he took every precaution not to reveal beforehand the direction to which he was going nor the name of the enemy whom he was going to attack; nay, he did not move out of Al-Madinah even in the direction of the campaign.
All the parties in Arabia fully realized the grave consequences of this critical decision. The remnants of the lovers of the old order of ‘ignorance’ were anxiously waiting for the result of the Campaign, for they had pinned all their hopes on the defeat of Islam by the Romans. The ‘hypocrites’ also considered it to be their last chance of crushing the power of Islam by internal rebellion, if the Muslims suffered a defeat in Syria. They had, therefore, made full use of the Mosque built by them for hatching plots and had employed all their devices to render the Campaign a failure. On the other side, the true Believers also realized fully that the fate of the Movement for which they had been exerting their utmost for the last 22 years was now hanging in the balance. If they showed courage on that critical occasion, the doors of the whole outer world would be thrown open for the Movement to spread. But if they showed weakness or cowardice, then all the work they had done in Arabia would -end in smoke.
That is why these lovers of Islam began to make enthusiastic preparations for the Campaign. Everyone of them tried to surpass the other in making contributions for the provision of equipment for it. Hadrat Uthman and Hadrat Abdur Rehman bin Auf presented large sums of money for this purpose. Hadrat Umar contributed half of the earnings of his life and Hadrat Abu Bakr the entire earnings of his life. The indigent Companions did not lag behind and presented whatever they could earn by the sweat of their labor and the women parted with their ornaments. Thousands of volunteers, who were filled with the desire of sacrificing their lives for Islam, came to the Holy Prophet and requested that arrangements for weapons and conveyance be made for them so that they should join the expedition. Those who could not be provided with these shed tears of sorrow; the scene was so pathetic that it made the Holy Prophet sad because of his inability to arm them. In short, the occasion became the touchstone for discriminating a true believer from a hypocrite. For, to lag behind in the Campaign meant that the very relationship of a person to Islam was doubtful. Accordingly, whenever a person lagged behind during the journey to Tabuk, the Prophet ﷺ, on being informed, would spontaneously say, “Leave him alone. If there be any good in him, Allah will again join him with you, and if there be no good in him, then thank Allah that He relieved you of his evil company”.
In short, the Prophet ﷺ marched out towards Syria in Rajab A. H. 9, with thirty thousand fighters for the cause of Islam. The conditions in which the expedition was undertaken may be judged from the fact that the number of camels with them was so small that many of them were obliged to walk on foot and to wait for their turns for several had to ride at a time on each camel. To add to this, there was the burning heat of the desert and the acute shortage of water. But they were richly rewarded for their firm resolve and sincere adherence to the cause and for their perseverance in the face of those great difficulties and obstacles.
When they arrived at Tabuk, they learned that the Caesar and his allies had withdrawn their troops from the frontier and there was no enemy to fight with. Thus they won a moral victory that increased their prestige manifold and, that too, without shedding a drop of blood.
In this connection, it is pertinent to point out that the general impression given by the historians of the campaigns of the Prophet ﷺ about the Campaign of Tabuk is not correct. They relate the event in a way as if the news of the mustering of the Roman armies near the Arabian frontier was itself false. The fact is that the Caesar had begun to muster his armies, but the Holy Prophet forestalled him and arrived on the scene before he could make full preparations for the invasion. Therefore, believing that “discretion is the better part of valor,” he withdrew his armies from the frontier. For he had not forgotten that the three thousand fighters for the cause of Islam had rendered helpless his army one hundred thousand strong at M’utah. He could not, therefore, even with an army of two hundred thousand, dare to fight against an army of thirty thousand, and that, too, under the leadership of the Holy Prophet himself.
When the Prophet ﷺ found that the Caesar had withdrawn his forces from the frontier, he considered thee question whether it would be worthwhile to march into the Syrian territory or to halt at Tabuk and turn his moral victory to political and strategical advantage. He decided on the latter course and made a halt for twenty days at Tabuk. During this time, he brought pressure on the small states that lay between the Roman Empire and the Islamic State and were at that time under the influence of the Romans, and subdued and made them the tributaries of the Islamic State. For instance, some Christian chiefs Ukaidir bin Abdul Malik Kindi of Dumatul Jaiidal, Yuhanna bin D’obah of Allah, and the chiefs of Maqna, Jarba’ and Azruh also submitted and agreed to pay Jizyah to the Islamic State of Al- Madinah. As a result of this, the boundaries of the Islamic State were extended right up to the Roman Empire, and the majority of the Arab clans, who were being used by the Caesar against Arabia, became the allies of the Muslims against the Romans.
Above all, this moral victory of Tabuk afforded a golden opportunity to the Muslims to strengthen their hold on Arabia before entering into a long conflict with the Romans. For it broke the back of those who had still been expecting that the old order of ‘ignorance’ might revive in the near future, whether they were the open upholders of shirk or the hypocrites who were hiding their shirk under the garb of Islam. The majority of such people were compelled by the force of circumstances to enter into the fold of Islam and, at least, make it possible for their descendants to become true Muslims. After this a mere impotent minority of the upholders of the old order was left in the field, but it could not stand in the way of the Islamic Revolution for the perfection of which Allah had sent His Messenger.