Archive for May, 2010

Freedom of Expression?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

By: Khalid Baig
Posted: 6 Jumad al-Thani 1431, 20 May 2010

With the latest in-your-face act of the Facebook, the issue is once again attracting headlines. Should Muslims react? How should they react? Where do they stand on the philosophical issue underlying all this?

In the media the issue has been framed as a clash between two camps. One camp stands for freedom of expression. The other wants to curtail it.  Needless to say the first camp is enlightened and virtuous. The other is a relic of the dark ages. The clash in other words is between a civilized and civilizing West and Islam that just refuses to be civilized.

Once you accept this framing of the whole issue, the outcome is already decided. Are you for freedom of expression or not? It is a loaded question, and just like the yes/no question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” no matter how you answer it, you remain guilty.

Look at the typical Muslim response which begins, “We also believe in freedom of expression but…” It matters little what you say after that. It is obvious that you are trying to add exclusions and limitations to a basic moral value while the other side is asking for no such limits. It is not difficult to see which side will come out ahead.

But this predicament is a result of uncritically accepting a false statement about the nature of the clash. For the real clash is not between those who are for and those who are against a freedom. Rather it is between two different freedoms. On the one hand is the freedom to insult. On the other is freedom from insult. Whether it was the Satanic Verses of the 1980s or the Cartoons of 2005 and their endless reproduction since then, if they stand for any freedom, it is freedom to insult. Pure and simple. Muslims, on the other hand, have stood for and demanded freedom from insult. Nothing more. Nothing less.

These are certainly opposing values. You can be for one or the other. And the question does arise, which one is a better value.

To see that let us imagine a society that truly believes in the first as a cherished moral value. It celebrates freedom to insult and guards it at all costs. Every member of it enjoys this freedom and practices it regularly. In a business everyone insults everyone else. The boss is insulting the employees, the employees are insulting the bosses. The salesmen are insulting the customers. The accountants are insulting the creditors. Everyone is enjoying the great freedom to insult. The same is true of the home. The parents are always insulting the children. The children are constantly insulting the parents. The spouses are incessantly insulting each other. And in doing so they all stand on the high moral ground because freedom to insult is such a fundamental freedom on which the society is built.

Actually contrary to the claims of the pundits if the Western society was truly built on this “cherished moral value,” it would have perished a long time ago — consumed by the fires of hatred and negativity generated by this freedom. No home, no neighborhood, no village, no business, no organization and no society can survive for long if it makes freedom to insult as a cornerstone of its freedoms. Clearly most who advocate this freedom do not practice it in their daily lives. But they are making an exception in the case of Islam and Muslims. The driving force behind this is not any great moral principle but a deep rooted hatred born of ignorance.

Software professionals sometimes use a term called beature. It stands for a bug turned into a feature. A bug is a defect in the software. A feature, on the other hand, is a desirable attribute. A beature is a defect that is presented (thanks to slick marketing) as a feature. Freedom to insult is also a beature. It is the growing sickness of Islamophobia in the West which is being presented as a high moral value, packaged by the slick marketing departments as freedom of expression.

Well, whether or not freedom to insult is a Western value, Islam has nothing to do with it. It lays emphasis on its exact opposite: the freedom from insult. It values human dignity, decency, and harmony in the society. The freedom of religion it ensures includes freedom from insults. While it does not shy away from academic discussion of its beliefs and showing the falsehood of non-Islamic beliefs, it makes sure that the discussion remains civil. In those discussions it wants to engage the intellect of its opponents; in contrast those who itch to insult their opponents are interested in satisfying their vulgar emotions. Thus while its most important battle is against false gods it asks its followers to refrain from reviling them. (Qur’an, Al-anam, 6:108). It also reminds them to stay away from harsh speech. “Allah loves not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who has been wronged.” (Qur’an, Al-Nisa, 4:148). Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, who is being reviled by the scum of the world, taught Muslims to never let the low moral standards of their adversaries dictate theirs.

As a result of these teachings Muslims can never even imagine insulting any Prophet — from Adam to Moses to Jesus to Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Even when they ruled the world, Muslims treated the religious leaders of non-Muslim also with respect – even during battles. In the Baghdad court Jewish and Christian scholars engaged in open discussions with the Muslim savants. Needless to say they had not been attracted by the freedom to insult but its exact opposite. Freedom from insult is a fundamental value that assures peace and harmony. It leads to healthy societies. And Muslims are very proud of their impeccable record here.

What is true of a home or a village is also true of the world as it has become a global village. Now, more than ever before, the world needs the harmony and tolerance that can only be assured by the freedom from insults.

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Facebook: Social Networking or Social Engineering?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

By: Mirza Yawar Baig
Posted: 6 Jumad al-Thani 1431, 20 May 2010

The big question is, ‘What is social networking and how is it useful?’

Of course you will hear the usual bleating saying, ‘It is so nice to know what my sister is doing….blah, blah.’

So ask this person, ‘Why can’t you send your sister an email asking what she is doing and she can respond to you. Or even better, if you can, call your sister and talk to her.’ But no, I must talk to my sister in a space where it is not only the sister who is listening but almost anyone who cares to listen, even if that person is a total stranger. So is it about your concern for your sister or is it something else?

So also in this space are pictures which really have no place outside the home – like the pictures showing you hugging your sister or wife or whoever! And so on and so on. I don’t think I need to describe all that there is to people who put it there in the first place.

Yes, of course there are controls. Tell me all about them. Tell me also how come almost nobody uses them. How many Facebook profiles do you know who have the maximum control activated where only their immediate family can see them? And of course in the end, all control is only as good as the techies and geeks on the Facebook site allow. After all they can access all that information anyway.

So what is really being achieved by Facebook, Twitter and so on? (Twitter?? Whoever coined that term was clever. Talk about under the belt. Who twitters? A twit!! – but then I suppose a twit doesn’t know that he is a twit, right?)

So what is achieved?

What is achieved is what would be the equivalent of peeping in through your window. Wanting to know what you are doing all the time. I want to know what you are doing all the time and I want you to know what I am doing all the time.

Intrusion into privacy when it is done against your will is unpleasant. So what is better? Get you into a state of mind where you will volunteer to tell people all about your internal organs on your own. See the change? An intruder is an intruder only when he intrudes against your will. If you invite him in, then he is a guest, not an intruder. Same person, same you but different rules. And that’s what it is all about, the rules of engagement.

So is it ‘social networking’ or is it ‘social engineering?’

The purpose is to change the rules of the society. Break barriers. Destroy the boundaries that protect us.

And where does this lead to? Addiction and intoxication. Addiction to seeing what others are doing and telling others what you are doing on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis. And being intoxicated with the false feeling that you are so interesting that people are really interested in what you are doing. Not realizing or willing to believe that these are the actions of other intoxicated people.

You don’t like the word ‘intoxication’? Just don’t log onto your Facebook or Twitter account for two days and monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure, tremor in your mouse, whatever and you will see what I mean.

And all this for what? What is achieved with the time that you spend reading about other’s adenoids and telling them about yours? Incidentally I know what adenoids means and that you don’t talk about them. But let us not mention what facebookers really talk about!

So what did you achieve? Just ask yourself this question, ‘What did I achieve by being on Facebook and Twitter (or whichever of these infernal social networks you are on) over the past month, year or whatever period.’ Remember this is a serious question because you Muslim/ah are spending your time (life) doing it. And that makes it among the first questions that you will have to answer to Allah. So what did you achieve? Prepare the answer. You will need it.

Social networking is social engineering. Its purpose is to change the values and ethics of people. This is done, in its most benign form, to encourage you to indulge more and more in the consumerist society that is all consuming. We think we are the consumers. But we are in reality the consumed. Just think, how many of you buy things, see shows, go to restaurants (and other places), like or dislike things because of campaigns on Facebook and Twitter? See what is happening? Your minds are invaded, your thoughts are influenced, and consequently your actions are manipulated and you may not even realize it.

Today Muslims the world over are very angry with the latest offensive of the Facebook. But an impulsive reaction will hardly do us any good. Just staying off of the offensive site for one day, as many have advocated, will only highlight our capitulation to it.

It is time we rethink what are we doing with our lives and say no to social engineering. It is time to get off of Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites that are destroying us from within.

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The Essentials of Jumua

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Table of Contents

  • What are the Obligatory and Sunnah requirements of the Jumu‘a sermon?
  • Can a woman lead in Jumu‘a?
  • Can the sermon be delivered in a language other than Arabic?
  • Can Jumu‘a be held before noon?
  • Is the first call [adhan] for Jumu‘a a bid‘a?

Questions such as these have often been the cause of much controversy and confusion within the Muslim community. This book addresses these issues in a simple and concise format which is both easy to understand and thoroughly referenced so as to provide a comprehensive picture in light of the Qur’an and Sunna.

Inlayed with fine points and rational explanations, The Essentials of Jumu‘a offers insight into this holiest of days and eliminates many of the misunderstandings regarding various Jumu‘a-related issues. It lays out the conditions for establishing Jumu‘a, the effects and consequences of missing Jumu‘a, the special time of Jumu‘a when Allah guarantees acceptance of all du‘as [supplications], the history and etymology of Jumu‘a, and many other relevant and interesting facts. The author covers a wide array of topics within this book, making it useful for the imam and the congregation.

The Essentials of Jumu‘a is a complete handbook necessary for any Muslim who wishes to understand the place of Jumu‘a within Islam.

SHAIKH IBRAHIM MADANI was born in the blessed city of Madina, where he began memorization of the Holy Qur’an and study of Hadith. As a child, he attended the lessons of the great Shaikh of Hadith, Muhammad Zakariyya , winning his adoration and duas.

In 1980, Shaikh Zakariyya instructed him to study at Daral-‘Uloom (Holcombe, England) where he completed memorization of the Holy Qur’an and his study of the sciences of Qur’an and Hadith.  In 1987 he served as Imam in Ontario, before moving to New York with his father and brothers to help establish Dór al-‘Uloom al-Madania, the largest traditional school of Islamic sciences in North America.

Since 1991, Shaikh Ibróhõm has been teaching Arabic, Islamic Jurisprudence, Hadith, and Qur’an. He regularly lectures at colleges, churches and Mosques all over the United States and abroad. In addition to delivering inspirational talks daily in the blessed month of Ramadan and giving sermons every Jumu‘a, he has conducted sessions on the attributes of Allah, the Pious Predecessors, and the exegesis [tafsir] of the Qur’an. All of his sessions can be heard and downloaded for free from www.madania.org.

# Cover: Paperback
# Author: Shaikh Ibrahim Madani
# Publisher: Madania Publications
# Pages: 107
# Size: 8.5 x 5.5 cm

Coming soon: 21/05/2010

Pre – order Now at Darul Ishaat UK

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