To Believe or not to Believe

Apr 11 - To believe or not to believe

Handling Information about the Dajjal

By Hafsa Ahsan

Go to any bookstore and there is a very good chance that you will find an assortment of books regarding the Dajjal. There are books exploring whether Dajjal is an individual or a system; there are booklets of Ahadeeth foretelling the coming of Dajjal, Imam Mahdi and Prophet Isa (as); there are volumes addressing the current world order and how conducive it is to the aims of Dajjal, and the list goes on. Being an avid collector and reader of most of these books, my sister and I have discovered that there are some books which are well-worth a read, while others contain theories which are too far-fetched to be authentic. So how do you, as an average reader, sift through this extensive information? How do you differentiate between what is fact and what has been fabricated? How do you ensure that you are not misled? Here are some pointers:

Make Dua

Before reading any book, sincerely supplicate to Allah (swt) that He would open your heart to what is authentic in that book and turn you away from all that is fabricated. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will guide you.

Reference

While reading any book, booklet or article, it is imperative to look at the references. Whom has the author quoted? Is this a reference from a Hadeeth? If so, what is the grade of this Hadeeth (reliable, authentic, weak, etc.)? Are all the references leading to other books and not a single Hadeeth? Answers to these vital questions will authenticate most of the information for you.

Generalizations

There are some books that contain nothing but sweeping statements and conspiracy theories, which are not supported by a single authentic reference. Such generalizations should alert you to their dubious nature.

Relevance

Some books clearly point out the relationship between the information that was foretold by the Prophet (saw) and the current world events, as they are unfolding. Even though they are the opinions of the authors concerned, it is refreshing to read them. This ensures that one does not treat the coming of Dajjal as a mere story and something too distant to consider. However, such books are scarce.

Concern

The coming of Dajjal is a definite event. We need to know how to protect ourselves and how he will affect us. However, some books digress to the point that they start debating issues which do not really affect us as common people. For instance, does it really matter if certain countries are “Dajjal”? How does it affect us whether or not the armies of certain countries are part of the Dajjal army? Reading books on these topics may be of interest to the more scholarly among us; however, for the vast majority of others, the basic questions are: how will we recognize him and how will we protect ourselves? Useless debates are just a waste of time.

Alright, so we have some idea as to how to sift the information that we read. What next? It is of great concern that a lot of people refuse to believe most of the authentic information given to them. Such people choose to remain in a state of denial, refuting the facts which are right in front of them. Try telling anyone that the money of the future is electronic money, for instance, and they will give you a blank look. On one hand, there is a lot of disinformation, and on the other hand, there is a complete denial of authentic information. It all boils down to the fact that most of us treat the coming of Dajjal as a mere story – something, which will not affect us.

A major step towards correcting our attitude regarding the information is to accept the fact that Dajjal will come, if not during our time then definitely during the time of our descendents. We have to equip ourselves with the right information and then pass it down through our children. Once we see this as our ultimate mission, it will become clear that we must have the correct information about Dajjal from authentic sources. And we must know how to handle this information.

An Important Hadith

Recorded by Imam Muslim: Amir Ibn Sharahil Shabi Shab Hamdan reported that he asked Fatimah Bint Qais: “Narrate to me a hadith which you had heard directly from Allah’s Messenger (sa) and there is no extra link in between them.” She said: “Very well, if you like, I am prepared to do that…when my period of waiting was over…I set out towards the mosque and observed prayer along with Allah’s Messenger (sa)…When Allah’s Messenger (sa) had finished his prayer, he sat on the pulpit smiling and said: ‘Every worshipper should keep sitting at his place.’ He then said: ‘Do you know why I had asked you to assemble?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said: By Allah. I have not made you assemble for exhortation or for a warning. I have detained you here for Tamim ad-Dari, a Christian, who came and accepted Islam, told me something which agrees with what I was telling you about the Dajjal. He narrated to me that he had sailed in a ship along with thirty men of Bani Lakhm and Bani Judham and had been tossed by waves in the ocean for a month. Then these (waves) took them (near) the land within the ocean (island) at the time of sunset. They sat in a small side-boat and entered that Island. There was a beast with long thick hair (and because of these) they could not distinguish his face from his back. They said: ‘Woe to you, who can you be?’ Thereupon it said: ‘I am Al-Jassasa.’ They said: ‘What is Al-Jassasa?’ And it said: ‘O people, go to this person in the monastery as he is very much eager to know about you.’ He (the narrator) said: ‘When it named a person for us, we were afraid of it lest it should be a Devil. Then we hurriedly went on till we came to that monastery and found a well-built person there with his hands tied to his neck and having iron shackles between his two legs up to the ankles.’ We said: ‘Woe be upon you, who are you?’ And he said: ‘You would soon come to know about me, but tell me who are you?’ We said: ‘We are people from Arabia and we embarked upon a boat but the sea-waves had been driving us for one month and they brought as near this island. We got into the side-boats and entered this island; here a beast met us…And it said: ‘You go to this very person in the monastery for he is eagerly waiting for you to know about you. So we came to you in hot haste fearing that you might be the devil.’ He (that chained person) said: ‘Tell me about the date-palm trees of Baisan.’ We said: ‘About what aspect of theirs do you seek information?’ He said: ‘I ask you whether these trees bear fruit or not.’ We said: ‘Yes.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘I think these would not bear fruits.’ He said: ‘Inform me about the lake of Tabariyya?’ We said: ‘Which aspect of it do you want to know?’ He said: ‘Is there water in it?’ They said: ‘There is abundance of water in it.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘I think it would soon become dry.’ He again said: ‘Inform me about the spring of Zughar.’ They said: ‘Which aspect of it you want to know?’ He (the chained person) said: ‘Is there water in it and does it irrigate (the land)?’ We said to him: ‘Yes, there is abundance of water in it and the inhabitants (of Madina) irrigate (land) with the help of it.’ He said: ‘Inform me about the unlettered Prophet; what has he done?’ We said: ‘He has come out from Makkah and has settled In Yathrib (Madina).’ He said: ‘Do the Arabs fight against him?’ We said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ‘How did he deal with him?’ We informed him that he had overcome those in his neighbourhood and they had submitted themselves before him. Thereupon, he said to us: ‘Had it actually happened?’ We said: ‘Yes.’ Thereupon, he said: ‘If it is so, that is better for them that they should show obedience to him. I am going to tell you about myself. I am the Dajjal and would be soon permitted to get out. I shall get out and travel in the land, and will not spare any town where I would not stay for forty nights except Makkah and Madina as these two (places) are prohibited (areas) for me and I would not make an attempt to enter any one of these two. An angel with a sword in his hand would confront me and would bar my way and there would be angels to guard every passage leading to it; then, Allah’s Messenger (saw) striking the pulpit with the help of the end of his staff said: ‘This implies Taiba meaning Madina. Have I not told you an account (of the Dajjal) like this?’ The people said: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘This account narrated by Tamim Dari was liked by me for it corroborates the account which I gave to you in regard to him (Dajjal) at Madina and Makkah. Behold, he (Dajjal) is in the Syrian sea (Mediterranean) or the Yemen Sea (Arabian sea). Nay, on the contrary, he is in the east, he is in the east, he is in the east, and he pointed with his hand towards the east.’”

The Coming of Dajjal

Apr 11- Coming of DajjalThe words ‘Dajjal’ (Antichrist) and ‘Dajjali Fitnah’ – a trial or an evil like that of the Antichrist – are commonly and frequently used today. Many books have been written on it in different languages; however, we will take an analytical look at it in the light of the Quran and Ahadeeth. There is no such word as “Dajjal” in the Quran, and there is no word of the root Daal, Jeem, Laam in the Quran. There are, however, synonyms of this word that mean ‘to cover’ or, ‘to deceive’.

Prophetic narrations, or Ahadeeth, mention ‘Dajjal’ in the following three ways:

Individuals claiming to be false prophets

Allah’s Messenger (sa) prophesized that the Dajjal would be the last of a series of thirty dajjals or ‘deceivers’ (false prophets), after whose appearance, the Day of Judgement will be close. Liars will come to the forefront and claim that they are prophets. Allah’s Apostle (sa) said, “The Hour will not be established till about thirty dajjals (liars) appear, and each one of them will claim that he is Allah’s Apostle.” (Bukhari)

False prophets had started to appear during the time of the Prophet (sa) and continued to do so after his demise. There are a few individuals, even in the current time, who have claimed prophethood.

An individual claiming divinity

The Dajjal Al-Akbar, or the greatest of Dajjals, will claim divinity. Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid (Islam-qa.com) has defined Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

“…a young man with a ruddy complexion, short, with thick curly hair, a wide forehead, and broad upper chest, blind or defective in the right eye. This eye will look like a floating grape. His left eye will be covered with a thick piece of flesh growing at the edge of his eye. Written between his eyes will be “Kaaf faa’ raa’ (K-F-R)”, in separate (Arabic) letters, or “kaafir”, with the letters joined. He will be sterile, with no children.”

A hadeeth mentions that he will have unlimited power and resources. People will be ready to prostrate to him and listen to him. He will be blind and on his forehead the three Arabic letters Kaa Faa Raa will be written. Every true believer will be able to see and read these letters, whether they can read or not. The Dajjal Al-Akbar will demonstrate miracles even greater than Isa (as). This will be the greatest test and trial for the believers. The Prophet e said that those who will prostrate to him will be spared (by him), but those who will not (prostrate to him) will be killed (Bukhari).

A civilization based on the qualities of Dajjal

From some Ahadeeth, we can surmise that one form of “dajjal” or deception is this world because it makes us forget the Hereafter and Allah (swt). We strive for gain and success only in this world. Allah (swt) says: “Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. And verily! We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.)”. (Al-Kahf 18:7-8)

Just as this verse exhorts, this world is becoming more beautiful and appealing as time goes on due to technological advances, luxurious lifestyles, numerous comforts, etc. It keeps on deluding us that we are better off than before. The question, though, is whether we are leaning towards the world or Allah (swt)? Who do we love more: this world or Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) says: “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allâh and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)

In the past three decades, the world has acquired immense luxuries. Consider Saudi Arabia or UAE. There was nothing but sand there. Now, they have the tallest buildings, the most lavish food, the best entertainment etc. These are all signs of the Day of Judgement.

The end is near

The signs that the Day of Judgement is close are several. There will be false claims to prophethood. There will also be a huge war. If a man has 100 sons, 99 will be killed. A bird will not find a place to land because there will be dead bodies everywhere. Then, the bird will fall down, exhausted, on a pile of dead bodies. This time is not far.

Gerald Flurry has written in “The Trumpet”: “Most people think the crusades are a thing of the past—over forever. But they are wrong. Preparations are being made for a final crusade, and it will be the bloodiest of all!”

20th century philosopher Arnold Toynbee, says in his book ‘Civilization on Trial’: “…real will be the battle between Christianity and Islam not between capitalism as communism and communism will not be able to sustain itself…”

Qualities of Dajjal present in the world and in us

There are certain qualities which we believe to belong only to the Dajjal, however, they are present within us as individuals. In the past, the Pharaoh and Nimrod had claimed Divinity. Today, each of us believes that we are the true rulers; we confine religion to the mosques and certain rituals. We do not let it enter our homes or workplaces. Our desires (Nafs) rule us as well. We declare that we are the masters of our actions and no one can dictate what we can or cannot do.

The qualities of Dajjal are also present in the economic system of the world. The system of interest is universal – there is no bigger sin in the eyes of Allah (swt). In the social world, we have the “women’s liberation movement” which translates into the eradication of modesty and the erosion of family life.

More about the Dajjal Al-Akbar

Some Ahadeeth describe the Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

He will go into every town for 40 days, there will be a distance of 80 yards between his ears and a day and a night’s travel will be the distance of one step of his donkey. He will speak in such a way that everyone in the east and the west will be able to hear him. (Muslim) We can imagine that the travel system and media technology will be so advanced that they will help Dajjal achieve the aforementioned feats.

Seventy thousand scholars wearing turbans, from my community, will follow the Dajjal. (Musnad Ahmad)

Two angels, resembling Prophets, one on either side, will accompany him. This will be a test for mankind. Dajjal will ask: “Am I not your lord? Do I not give life and death?” One of the angels will reply, “You are a liar.” However, nobody will be able to hear this reply except for the other angel. The second angel, addressing the first angel will say: “You are speaking the truth.” Everybody will hear what this second angel said, and will think that an angel is testifying that the Dajjal is Allah (swt). In reality, this second angel was addressing the first one and agreeing with his reply about the Dajjal certainly being a liar by saying, “You are speaking the truth”. (Ahmad)

He will come to a bedouin whose parents will have passed away and will say to him: “Will you believe that I am your Lord if I bring your parents back to life?” He will reply: “Yes.” The devils accompanying him will take the form of his parents and will say to him: “Oh child, believe in him and follow him, he is your Lord.” The bedouin will be deceived into believing him. (Ibn Majah)

He will have water and fire with him. As for that which the people will see as water, in reality it will be fire, which will burn. As for that which people will see as fire, in reality will be cold, sweet water. The Prophet’s (saw) Advice is: “Whoever meets the Dajjal and sees the water and the fire, should fall in the fire and not the water, as the fire is, in reality, water, and the water is, in reality, fire.’” (Mishkat)

Passing by a place in ruins, he will order it to take out its hidden treasure. The earth will immediately take out its treasure, and the treasure will literally follow him wherever he goes, like bees following the queen bee. (Muslim)

I think that Dajjal is a Jinn, not a human; a soldier of Satan, chained in shackles. During mankind’s last hour on the earth, he will be released for humankind’s last and final test. After 40 years of rule, Prophet Isa (as) will kill him. But before that, such a mighty wind of Kufr will spread that, after Prophet Isa’s (as) death, Allah (swt) will send a special wind directed at those believers with Islamic faith in their hearts. They will have their souls taken out without any pain. Only the disbelievers will then remain on the earth, and the Judgement will be passed on them.

Love Allah (swt) and not the world; worry about the Hereafter, not the here and now; nurture your soul, but take care of your body as well. Be steadfast in your faith (iman) so that you can face the Dajjal.

Transcribed and compiled by Tasneem Vali and Sadaf Farooqi

The Secret to Success

success

Compiled by Rahila Aziz

“Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah)…” (Ar-Rad 13:11) There are certain important characteristics of nations excelling in this world. Their individuals are hardworking and systematic planners who value and manage time purposefully. They are perfectionists in every field. Picture a busy, civilized society with individuals leading purposeful lives.

We, as a Muslim nation, constituted such a society for a thousand years. We were world leaders and role models. We gave scientific discoveries to the world. We were honest in trade and well-behaved with our parents at the same time. So what happened? Where did we go wrong? We changed our inner self as an individual. Thus, Allah (swt) changed our exterior-self as a nation. We started looking forward to unscheduled holidays and stopped giving time its due importance. We formulated every system to cater to our lethargic lifestyle. We encouraged mediocrity and strongly discouraged excellence in work and perfection in time management.

We do not grieve the fact that we have become humiliated as a nation; the fact that exploited and oppressed nations like Japan and Germany are flourishing, and those, about whom Allah (swt) has specified that His wrath is upon them, are leading us by the nose. They are treating us, ‘the moderate nation’, as subservient! Let us give this a thought and see where the difference is.

As soon as the power was transferred from the Usmania Caliphate to the British rule, the first demand made by the Jews was for a university and a hospital. (What were our first steps after our independence?) Their demand was instantly accepted and the tallest mountain – Mount Scopus – was chosen for the building site. Why? It was to select only the most enduring and serious people for future planning. (What kind of sites do we choose for building our institutes?) Hebrew university was minting leaders of the future generation, who were not only skilled hard workers but also mentally compatible with the mission statement of Israel! (What kind of future leaders are our education institutes minting?) Hebrew was revived and made the official medium of instruction for all the subjects in the university. This was an anti-globalization technique, a means of blocking the penetration of foreign culture in the minds of their future leaders. (What is the medium of instruction in our educational institutes and what effect does it have on our future generations?)

Students of this exceptional institute were also exceptional. They thought of holidays as time-wasters, dragging them away from their duty and mission. (What are our feelings towards holidays?) Critics feared that such hard work was beyond human endurance and may result in negative results. The results were negative only for the opposition! In 1948, when Israel came into existence, teams of dedicated, skilled professionals were ready to take over every field of the state. (What kind of leaders did we inherit after our independence?)

Today, the gigantic campus of the Hebrew University is the hub of art, linguistic and social studies. The Givat Ram Campus is the center of science and technology. The environment of these institutes is educational and free of politics. The research work is of an international standard. The Jewish National and University Library is a jewel in the crown. It boasts a collection of 35 million booksIf Hebrew University is Israel’s brain, then this library is the blood flow needed to keep the brain alive, used by Israelite students and scholars. (How much effort do we put in building our libraries into national treasures?)

Foundations of a strong nation are laid in idealistic educational institutes, which require years of hard work by individuals, who have a clear mission statement and a habit of following good traditions religiously. Where will such individuals come from? “To educate a nation, educate the mother!” If we, as mothers, don’t change, the Muslim nation cannot change. Today, we have time for facials and manicures. We can attend wedding ceremonies till two in the night. But we are unable to exert ourselves for the sake of learning and education. When it comes to religion and gaining religious knowledge, we ask: why, what is the need? We can never revive the golden Muslim era, until the women of today wake up.

Surat Al-Kahf (The Cave) – Why is it a Shield against Dajjal?

Apr 11 - Surat Al KahfSurat Al-Kahf was revealed in Makkah. Many Ahadeeth confirm the virtues of this Surah. The first and the last ten Ayahs provide protection from Dajjal. It is pivotal to understand that Surat Al-Kahf is not just a magical spell that will serve as a shield against the Antichrist. Rather, the comprehension of its underlying meaning and application of the suggested measures will save us from Dajjal.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) stated: “Whoever memorizes ten Ayahs from the beginning of Surat Al-Kahf will be protected from the Dajjal.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, An-Nasai and At-Tirmidhi)

The Surah starts with Allah (swt) praising His Holy Self for revealing the Mighty Book to His noble messenger, Muhammad (sa). Then, Allah (swt) tells us that He has created the world as a temporary abode to test mankind. It is not a permanent place of settlement. The Prophet (sa) states the same: “This world is sweet and green, and Allah (swt) makes you generations succeeding one another, so He is watching what you will do. Beware of (the beguilements of) this world and beware of women, for the first affliction that children of Israel suffered from was that of women.” (Ahmad) This world will eventually come to an end. After having adorned it, Allah (swt) will wipe out everything. The land will be left dry and bare, devoid of any vegetation. Four main stories, which follow in this surah, are:

1) The people of the cave
This is a story of a few young men who lived in a disbelieving town. They decided to migrate for the sake of Allah (swt), as it was difficult for them to preserve their Iman (faith). They feared execution or conversion to disbelief. They fled and retreated into a cave. Then, they invoked their Lord I for guidance and assistance. Allah (swt) responded to their sincere prayers and rewarded them with mercy. They were put into deep slumber for 309 lunar years. When they woke up, they found that the entire village had embraced Islam.

2) The Owner of the Garden

This story highlights a potential trap of wealth and noble lineage that boastful people fall into, forsaking their faith. Allah (swt) gives a parable of two men. One is a rich idolater, blessed with two gardens and abundant fruit. The other man is a poor Muslim. The wealthy man denies the Hereafter, as he is enamored with this world and its adornments. Then, he proudly states that if the Hour occurred, he would be provided with an even better share as Allah (swt) held him dear. The poor believer rebukes him and warns him of Allah’s (swt) punishment. Finally, the rich man loses all his worldly possessions due to his disbelief. His delayed regret does not benefit him.

3) Musa’s Meeting with Khidr
When the children of Israel asked Musa (as): “Who’s the most knowledgeable among the people of the earth?” Musa (as) replied: “I am.” Allah (swt) revealed to him that there was someone who knew more than he did. Musa (as) embarked on an extended journey with his boy-servant Yusha Ibn Nun to a man called Khidr (as). Khidr (as) taught Musa (as) that his knowledge and Musa’s (as) knowledge collectively compared to Allah’s (swt) supreme knowledge was as if a bird dipped its beak once or twice in the sea.
4) Dhul-Qarnayn’s Extensive Travels

The last story in the Surah is of the great King Dhul-Qarnayn, who was given knowledge and power. He had armies, war equipment, siege machinery, etc. He was known as ‘the one with two horns’, as he dominated the east and the west. In spite of his might, he was a God-fearing and just ruler. He was able to overcome Yajooj-Majooj (an evil and destructive nation) and build a massive dam with the help of people, whom he could not even understand.

Relationship Between Surat Al-Kahf and Dajjal?
Dajjal will appear before the Day of Judgement with the following four trials:
1. He’ll ask people to worship him and not Allah (swt)- trial of faith.
2. He’ll be given powers to tempt people with his wealth – trial of wealth.

3. He’ll test people with the knowledge and news he gives them – trial of knowledge.
4. He’ll control numerous parts of the earth – trial of power.

How to Survive These Trials?

The answers are in Surat Al-Kahf:
Good Companionship

“And keep yourself (O Muhammad) patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, and who follows his own lusts, and whose affair has been lost.” (Al-Kahf 18:28) This highlights a critical issue of our times, namely peer pressure. Regardless of age, status and gender, a majority of people succumb to the popular culture. They never question its ethics or morality. Allah (swt) cautions Mumins to steer clear of such people and their trends.
Understanding the Truth of this World

“And mention the parable of the worldly life: it is like the water, which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it, and becomes fresh and green. But (later) it becomes dry and broken pieces, which the winds scatter. And Allah is Able to do everything.” (Al-Kahf 18:45) The antidote for the love of this world and materialism is a realization of its true value. A passenger does not invest his time, love and money in a transit lounge at the airport. A believer should realize that his/her destination is beyond this world. He/she should not long for a fleeting and short-lived abode that will eventually be destroyed.
Humility
“Musa said: ‘If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.’” (Al-Kahf 18:69) Allah (swt) has created man from clay. One should always remember that it is this soil that everyone will return to. When Umar t, the second caliph and the conqueror of Persia and Rome, the two superpowers of his time, was advised to show humility, he placed his cheek on the ground.

Sincerity
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God. So who ever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Al-Kahf 18:110) Sincerity means to be free from pretence or deceit in feelings, manners and actions. A believer does not travel in two boats. He is clear about his goals in life and, hence, he formulates his ideology in accordance with Allah’s (swt) pleasure only.

Calling to Allah (swt)
“And recite what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) of your Lord’s Book (The Quran). None can change His Words, and none will you find as refuge other than Him.” (Al-Kahf 18:27) Muslims are expected to invite the rest of the world to the true revelation of eternal salvation. This is a pivotal job entrusted to form a universal brotherhood and bring peace to others. This was the mission of the Prophet (sa) and after him, of every Muslim.

Remembering the Hereafter
“And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away (like clouds of dust), and you will see the earth as a levelled plain, and we shall gather them all together so as to leave not one of them behind. And they will be set before your Lord in (lines as) rows, (and Allah will say): “Now indeed, you have come to Us as We created you the first time. Nay, but you thought that We had appointed no meeting for you (with Us).” (Al-Kahf 18:47-48) When Allah (swt) created humans, He instilled a sense of accountability in them. This facilitates them to choose between right and wrong. Believers, thus, act with responsibility rather than on impulse or instinct because they clearly know that they will have to face their Lord I one day to account for their deeds.

Symbolism in the Mass Media

Apr 11 - Mass Media

By Hooruneen Sheikh and Binte Aqueel

The first ten verses of Surah Al-Muminoon outline the defining characteristics of a true believer, who will make it to Jannah. Of these, one of the important characteristics is that “they stay away from Al-Laghw” – all those things, which waste time and give no benefit.

We have been cautioned against this weapon of Shaitan at another place in the Quran, where Allah (swt) tells him:

“‘And befool them gradually, those whom you can among them with your voice (i.e., songs, music, and any other call for Allah’s disobedience), make assaults on them with your cavalry and your infantry, mutually share with them wealth and children (by tempting them to earn money by illegal ways, usury, etc., or by committing illegal sexual intercourse, etc.), and make promises to them.’ But Shaitan promises them nothing but deceit.” (Al-Isra 17:64)

It is interesting to note that we do not directly hear Shaitan’s ‘voice’ or see attacks from his ‘cavalry and infantry’. Indeed, he employs more subtle ways to misguide humankind and fulfill his promise to Allah (swt). He does to through the mass media and popular culture.

Much has been written and discussed about the satanic messages and symbols in the mass media. A surge of articles, reports, documentaries and videos seeking to expose the satanic roots of the entertainment and media industry have taken the cyber world by storm. While one may not agree with all the theories purported by these documentaries and reports or the fact that it is part of a greater plan to implement a pre-Dajjal system before his actual appearance, some revelations of imagery used in popular culture, however, do give one the creeps.

To have a clearer understanding of this symbolism in the mass media, let us take a look at some examples of imagery in popular songs, movies and cartoons.

Pervasive, Overt and Subtle Sexual Imagery

The way the media seems to be evolving today, the presence of sexual imagery in its overt form is no longer surprising. It has become the norm. However, when such imagery is slipped into cartoons, movies and songs in a more covert manner, especially in places where one least expects them, there is a reason for alarm. Here are a few examples:

–          The word ‘sex’ appears to be written in the shape of the clouds in the popular cartoon “The Lion King”.

–          Another cartoon shows a portrait of a naked woman in the background of a regular scene.

–          One of Disney’s most praised pieces of work, “Fantasia”, shows a nude woman openly displaying her bosoms during one of the songs in the cartoon. In another scene, during the same song, flames shape-shift into naked dancing women. The imagery is vivid, yet it is so fleeting that one barely notices it, but it has its effect on the child’s mind.

Use of Occult and Masonic Symbols

Such images as the one-eyed Masonic symbol and the symbol of the checkered floor,, which is of pagan and Masonic origin, can be found in popular songs, movies and cartoons. Logos of products and media companies also carry similar symbols.

–          One advertisement of Nickelodeon carried a clear image of one eye.

–          In the popular children’s cartoon “Dumbo”, the elephant carried the one-eye symbol in one of its songs. The current popular cartoon “Ben 10” shows a character which transforms himself into a one-eyed creature.

–          Disney’s famed production “Fantasia” has one of its most popular characters adorned with the horns of Satan.

–          In the popular movie “Matrix”, the lead character Neo can only leave this world and visit Morpheus by walking on the checkered floor. Only then do ‘the doors’ open. They are the mode of transportation. The checkered pattern represents the merging of both worlds – of the Jinns and humans. All Masonic rituals have to take place on the checkered floor. Note that Cartoon Network’s emblem shows a checkered floor in the background.

  • The popular children’s cartoon “Aladdin” uses the concept of a blue genie, which grants all of Aladdin’s wishes. Among the gifts this ‘Jinn’ presents to Aladdin are the ‘ladies in red’, which represent the devilish allure of the world. (Notice how most of the female models of today wear red on the “red” carpet and in commercials). Then, the genie presents Aladdin with ‘the contract’ and lures him through worldly pleasure, implying that his worldly wishes can come true through such practice.
  • Popular singer Madonna’s song “Frozen” shows Madonna shape-shifting like Jinns into black crows.
  • Popular singer Britney Spears performs her song “I am a Slave for You” with a snake wrapped around her.

These are just some of the examples of imagery used in the mass media. The examples are endless, but what it all comes down to in the end is: how do we keep ourselves, our children and families safe from such explicit and implicit imagery in the popular media?

“No TV” Policy

There is no option better than eliminating TV from your family life. The void can be filled with interactive family sessions such as playing games, doing projects, visiting places, socializing with relatives, etc. This definitely entails more sacrifice and investment of time on the part of the parents as it will be difficult to separate kids from TV, especially if they are already addicted to it. However, once achieved, this feat will improve the quality of your family life immensely.

Exercise control

If the above doesn’t work, make it clear to yourself, your family and your kids that it is not okay to watch all sorts of media content. There should be a conscious control over what is being watched. While there are objectionable forms of content, there is other media content that can be enriching and educational, while being entertaining at the same time. We must learn where to draw the line.

Chaperoned Viewing

Most moms prefer using the television as a baby-sitter to get some relief, while their children get lost in the magical world of the idiot box. It is imperative to understand that handing over your kids to the TV is not safe. While you would never leave your kids alone on the street, leaving them alone with a media that is filled with imagery and concepts that pose a threat to their values and religion should not be an option either.

Sit down with your kids as they watch their favourite cartoons, control what these favourite cartoons are, discuss what aspects of the show they just watched are acceptable and what was wrong, how some parts conform to or go against their religious beliefs, etc. Eventually, you will realize that pure entertainment sessions become more educational for your child and the awareness they build will go a long way in keeping them wary of what influences they do or do not accept from the media in the future.

Some Facts about Imam Mahdi

Mahdi

Who is he?                    

  • He will be a descendent of Imam Hassan (as).
  • His name will be Muhammad and Ahmad, son of Abdullah and Amina.
  • He will become the leader of the Muslims at the age of 40 – prior to that, he will be living an ordinary life.
  • He will NEVER claim that he is a leader or Mahdi.
  • The Prophet (sa) said: “Mahdi is from my progeny (Ahl-e-Bait). Allah (swt) will grant him the qualities of leadership in one night.” (Ibn Majah and Musnad Ahmad)
  • The Prophet (sa) also said: “The world will not come to pass, until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  • The Prophet (sa) said: “He will fill out the earth with peace and justice, as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny.” (At-Tirmidhi)
  • He will not be a messenger or a prophet. He will simply be a reformer and a Mujahid.

Who are his companions?

  • Practicing and able Muslims.
  • Christians – humanitarian / compassionate / not into violence.
  • Anti-Zionist Jews (who will revert to Islam).
  • They will join Mahdi – provide human resource and technology.

When, where and how will he appear?

  • Where: Makkah.
  • How: He will be sitting near the Ka’abah. Some scholars will be searching for him. They will find him there. That will the Eve of the Ashura (10th Muharram).
  • When: Near the Day of Judgement, when the world shall be in turmoil.

What are the signs of his appearance?

  • River Euphrates will dry up.
  • A mount of gold will appear in the River Euphrates.
  • Bloodshed in Mina during Hajj.
  • There will be a difference of opinion, regarding the successor of a deceased Muslim leader.
  • There will be a lunar eclipse twice and a solar eclipse once in Ramadan.

What is the role of Haris and Mansoor?

  • They will be two of his right-hand men.
  • They will do Jihad with him.
  • Haris – financier (will work in agriculture, raise funds and do Infaaq).
  • Mansoor – military analyst and commander-in-chief of his army.
  • For more details, see Abu Dawood, Hadeeth number 3839.

Isa (as) – A Vital Piece to the Puzzle

Apr 11- Isa (as) a vital piece of the puzzle

Dr. Zakir Naik very rightly observed that Muslims are the only nation on this earth that honour Prophet Isa (as) as he should be honoured. The mention of Isa’s (as) or Jesus’ life has been scripted in such an enthralling manner in the Quran that if words could paint a picture, they would have presented a beautiful portrait of this remarkable personality.

Allah (swt) has bestowed upon Isa (as) the title of Wajeehan (the one held in honour in this world and the Hereafter). A certain number of misguided Jews and Zionists have dishonoured Isa (as) and his mother Maryam (as) with all sorts of fabricated and despicable allegations. But, Alhumdulillah, we hold Isa (as) in the highest esteem that befits a true prophet and a righteous slave of Allah (swt).

His Birth

The birth of Isa (as) was a miracle by Allah (swt) to test the Iman (faith) of many. This also proved to be a treacherous trap set by Satan through which he succeeded in misguiding millions of people. The Jews adopted one extreme by maligning and rejecting Prophet Isa (as). The Christians, on the other hand, accepted the other extreme by revering him to such a level that they declared Isa (as) to be the son of Allah (swt).

His Mission

Torah was the Book sent to Musa (as) and Injeel was revealed to Isa (as). Isa (as) memorized both books to invite the children of Israel to the way of Allah (swt). Most of them remained misguided and adamant in disbelief. However some pledged their aid and loyalty to him. They were called Hawariyyun (‘Hawari’ means ‘support’ in Arabic).

His Enemies

For years, the children of Israel had awaited the arrival of their Messiah, who would ultimately raise them to the supreme position of the most honourable nation. Through his leadership, they aspired to control the world and its riches. However, when they realized that Isa’s (as) agenda was not in line with theirs, and he was a humble slave of Allah (swt) on a mission to propagate the truth, they rejected him. They also maligned his legitimate birth. The Quran exposes their nefarious crimes: “And because of their (Jews) disbelief and uttering against Maryam (as) a grave false charge (that she has committed illegal sexual intercourse).” (An-Nisa 4:156)

His Ascension

Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer explains that the children of Israel conspired against Prophet Isa (as) and complained about him to the king, who was a disbeliever. They claimed that Prophet Isa (as) was misguiding people, discouraging them from obeying the king, and causing disunity among people. The king became furious and sent his men to capture Prophet Isa (as) to torture and crucify him.

When they surrounded Prophet Isa’s (as) home, Allah (swt) raised him up to the Heaven. He put the image of Isa (as) on another man who was present in the house, while it was still dark. They captured him believing him to be Isa (as); they tortured and crucified him. Allah (swt) deceived them and hardened their hearts as a curse.

His Return (the Second Coming)

“And he (Isa, son of Maryam) shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour (Day of Resurrection) [i.e. Isa’s descent on the earth]. Therefore have no doubt concerning it (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)…” (Az-Zukhruf 43:61)

In a Hadeeth it is mentioned: “While the Imam is going forward to them [the Muslim soldiers] in Fajr Salah, Isa (as), son of Maryam (as), will descend. The Imam will step back to let Isa (as) lead people in Salah, but Isa will place his hands between the man’s shoulders and say: ‘Go forward and lead the Salah for the call to commence that Salah (Iqamah) was made for you,’ and so the Imam will lead the people in Salah.” (Ibn Majah)

On another occasion, the Prophet (sa) indicated: “Ten signs will appear before the Day of Judgement of which Isa’s second coming is the main one.” (Muslim)

His Mission to Kill Dajjal after His Second Coming

Dajjal will ultimately be killed by Isa (as) at a place called Ludd, which is a few miles from Tel Aviv. Some of us may have heard of the Ludd International Airport. This has been mentioned in the following Hadeeth: “It will be at this very time that Allah will send Christ, son of Mary. He will descend at the white minaret on the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. When he lowers his head, there will fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he raises it up, beads like pearls will scatter from it. Every non-believer, who smells the odour of his body, will die, and his breath will reach as far as he is able to see. He will then search for him (Dajjal), until he catches hold of him at the gate of Ludd and kills him.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has related: “The last hour will not start, until the Romans occupy Al-Amaq or Dabiq (two cities close to Aleppo in Syria). An army, comprised of the best of the people of the earth then, will come from Al-Madinah and challenge them. When they camp face to face, the Romans will say: ‘Let us fight those, who captured some of us.’ The Muslims will say: ‘Nay! By Allah, we will never let you get to our brothers.’ They will fight them. A third of the Muslim army will flee in defeat, and those are the ones Allah will never forgive. Another third will be killed, and those are the best martyrs before Allah. The last third will be victorious, and this third will never be stricken with Fitnah. And they will capture Constantinople (Istanbul). While they are dividing war booty after hanging their swords on olive trees, Shaitan will shout among them saying: ‘Al-Masih Dajjal has cornered your people.’ They will leave to meet Ad-Dajjal in Sham. This will be a false warning. And when they reach Sham, Ad-Dajjal will then appear. When the Muslims are arranging for battle and the prayer is called for, Isa, son of Maryam, will descend and lead them in prayer. When the enemy of Allah (the false Messiah) sees him, he will dissolve just as salt dissolves in water, and if any of him were left, he would continue dissolving, until he died. Allah will kill him with the hand of Isa and will show the Muslims his blood on his spear.” (Muslim)

His Life after His Second Coming

“…During his (Isa’s) time, Allah will destroy all religions except Islam and Allah will destroy Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal (the false Messiah). Safety will then fill the earth, so much so that the lions will mingle with camels, tigers with cattle and wolves with sheep. Children will play with snakes, and they will not harm them…” (Abu Dawood)

Abu Hurairah (rta) stated a Hadeeth: “Isa will say Ihlal (loud calling to say Talbiya) from the mountain of Ar-Rawha for Hajj, Umrah or both.” (Ahmad)

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “By Him (Allah) in Whose Hands my soul is, surely the son of Maryam, Isa will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) and will judge mankind justly by the Law of the Quran (as a just ruler) and will break the cross and kill the pigs and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are under the protection of the Muslim government. This Jizya tax will not be accepted by Isa. Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts.” (Bukhari)

In another narration, Abu Hurairah (rta) stated that Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “How will you be, when the son of Maryam (Isa) descends amongst you, and he will judge people by the law of the Quran and not by the law of the Injeel (Gospel)?” (Bukhari)

His End

Allah’s Messenger (sa) stated: “There will be no prophet between me and the coming of Isa… He (Isa) is surely coming and will stay on earth for forty years, after which he dies and Muslims will perform burial Salah on him.” (Abu Dawood)

The evidences from the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Isa’s second coming are very powerful, and Muslims are obliged to believe in them. His role is of great significance in times to come, as he will be the final piece to the puzzle leading to the Hour, Insha’Allah.

A World without Hospitals

Apr 11 - A world without Hospitals

By Saulat Pervez

Today, we often take hospitals for granted, but there actually was a time when these institutions did not exist. People considered illnesses as supernatural occurrences and cures were similarly deemed to be the result of spiritual interventions.

On the other hand, Prophet Muhammad (sa) has reportedly said: “Seek medication, because Allah has created a medication for each disease except senility.” (Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) Islam, furthermore, taught human beings that they were free from the original sin, leading Muslims to believe in the inherent goodness of humans; this modern outlook enabled scientists to study disease in a matter-of-fact manner. Therefore, as explained by Michael Hamilton Morgan in “Lost History, the Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists”: Muslims believed that “disease [had] specific, scientifically based physical causes. It [was] not a punishment visited on men from God.”

This empirical worldview led to the invention of the hospital, as we know it today. Indeed, the modern hospital has its roots in the Bimaristans, as established by the Abbasids in Baghdad. The first hospital was founded in 914 C.E. Another hospital was built in 918 C.E. at the behest of Caliph Muqtadir. Among the physicians here was the renowned ar-Razi (Rhazes).

“By the year 1000, five major hospitals [were] built in Abbasid Baghdad. These hospitals serve[d] multiple purposes, not unlike modern hospitals containing surgery centers, outpatient clinics, psychiatric wards, convalescent centers and even nursing homes. And quite often they [were] free to those in need,” writes Morgan. Soon, hospitals became common landmarks all across the Muslim world.

In fact, the very spirit behind the concept of hospitals was to provide ready care to anyone who seeks it, irrespective of gender, race, religion or status. Doctors treated and studied the patients, and documented their findings. This shows that the physicians were not only interested in curing their patients’ immediate ailments, but also in conducting important research which would then be published in the form of books. These texts, later translated into Latin, became the foundational tools for the rebirth of Europe and continued to be used for several centuries.

Such medical advances also led to the development of the field of pharmacology. As a result, the very first pharmacies were pioneered by Muslim doctors. According to Dr. Gustave le Bon: “Muslims invented the art of mixing chemical medicaments in pills and solutions, many of which are in use to this day, though some of them are claimed as wholly new inventions of our present century by chemists unaware of their distinguished history. Islam had dispensaries, which filled prescriptions for patients [free of charge], and in part of countries where no hospitals were reachable, physicians paid regular visits with all the tools of their trade to look after public health.”

In the end, the privileges we enjoy today have a rich history and a meaningful purpose –dating back to more than a millennium! Sadly, our current conditions belie our downhill spiral: our hospitals are either modern and expensive or unhygienic and cheap. It is high time that we re-instill our Islamic values not only in our practice of worship but also, by extension, in the social aspects of our lives – without discrimination.

Islam in Singapore

Apr 11- Singapore

By Ruhie Jamshaid

The little island nation of Singapore is renowned to be a modern, urban ‘lion-city’. It is often recognized as the commercial heart of Asia. The levels of cleanliness and law and order found in this nation are somewhat legendary, with many cities, such as Dubai, Bahrain and Shanghai, modelling after it.

However, beyond the glitz and glamour of the heart of the far East, lies a nation that is admired for its sense of respect for all religions and races. A myriad of races from the Chinese to Malays and Indians live side by side on the island, practicing their religions. Needless to say, Islam, too, is practiced freely and widely in Singapore!

In fact, growing up in such a multi-cultural country as Singapore, I had the opportunity to learn about my religion from my Malay and Arab friends. Somehow, the religion of Islam and my culture as a Pakistani were often separate entities. Hence, I got a chance to study my religion for what it is, beyond cultural influences.

One of the most wonderful things about being a Muslim in Singapore is celebrating Ramadan. This holy month is always very special here. It is a common practice to go to the Masjid for Taraweeh prayers as a family. Every locality, or rather housing estate, has a mosque, although the volume of the Adhans has to be controlled for the sake of not disturbing non-Muslim residents. Iftar is organized in all the mosques for all and sundry. It is common to find people of such varied nationalities as Moroccons, Bangladeshis, Indonesians and the local Singaporean Malays sitting side by side and breaking their fasts. Taraweeh prayers are conducted with Tahleels and Dhikr sessions.

My family and I cherish the opportunity to go to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers. It is an opportunity for us to meet other Muslims and for our children to be aware of the spirit of Islam in a community. As many Muslims are foreigners, with only a few family members in Singapore, Eid-ul-Fitr prayers also offer an opportunity to connect with the Muslim community.

The Chinese Muslim community of Singapore, though small in number, is also an interesting aspect of the Muslim community found here. While they practice Islam, they also embrace certain Chinese cultural practices, such as the celebration of the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Ms. Mah, a Chinese Muslim, states: “We are basically all Chinese, except that we practice Islam. For instance, we avoid pork, which is often the preferred meat in Chinese households!” Many Chinese Muslims in Singapore have either embraced Islam through marriage and adoption, or their families are of Hui or Uyghur descent, having moved to Singapore from China in the 1920s.

It is quite easy to practice Islam in most areas of life in Singapore. Though there may not be special rooms allocated for Salah in most workplaces, it is typical for employers to make allowances for you to go to a quiet corner such as a staircase area or your own office cubicle to pray. Halal food is also easily available with most fast food restaurants being Halal. Wearing Hijab at workplaces can be an issue but in daily life, it is common to find Muslim ladies donning the Hijab at market places and restaurants.

Generally, Islam is seldom viewed suspiciously in Singapore. Therefore, the freedom to practice one’s religion without fear of being ostracized makes it all the worthwhile to be a Muslim in Singapore.

Armageddon

Apr 11 Armageddon

The word ‘Armageddon’ is widely used for a severe bloody final war supposed to be fought in a small mountainous valley of Magdo (Jerusalem). This will be a divine battle between the forces of virtue and the forces of evil. It will be led by Dajjal, or the Antichrist, and Jesus Christ. For this purpose, they quote the Revelation book from the Bible: “And he (the angel) gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (16:16)

This madly propagated future war was also blindly believed and advocated by former US President Ronald Reagan, who often used to explain that such an enormous bloodshed will take place in the valley (up to 200 miles from Jerusalem) that the reins over the horses will sink in the blood, and the entire battlefield will get covered with the blood of horses and men. Reagan emphasized: “God will, on that day, permit the human nature to expose itself fully. All capital cities of the world, London, Tokyo, Paris, New York and Chicago, etc., will be annihilated.”

The most popular contemporary US Evangelist Jerry Falwell declares: “The final battle is a horrible fact, and we are part of the last human race. There will be a final clash and God will wipe off the entire planet of earth.”

US Christians deem this subject so significant that millions of books on the topic have captured the attention of the readers. The evangelists have coined a fresh terminology of ‘rapture’. They claim that Jesus will descend just before the war, lift all the Christians into the clouds and award salvation to them all. By rapture they mean the salvation in the sky at the hands of Jesus Christ. Rapture and Armageddon, therefore, are interlinked. An eminent scholar Karl Millen Tire remarks overwhelmingly: “Thanks to Lord. I will watch the ongoing events of the war sitting in the elevated seats of Paradise.”

Another prominent Christian preacher, Clloyd states that the first attack in the Armageddon will be made by Christ himself, who will use a totally new weapon. People will perish instantly and their tongues will dissolve inside their mouths. He tells his followers not to take Christ as a mere religious personality, but think of him as a five-star general.

Still another fundamental evangelist Lindsey states that since about a dozen nations today are in possession of nuclear weapons, we can annihilate the entire world for sure.

Although nothing of the above is true, the Christians are still striving hard to make it happen. They are looking forward to the re-arrival of their Messiah, the Christ. But, on the other hand, when we glance over the conduct of the Muslims, we feel ashamed. A sort of irrelevance and distraction has captured their minds. Nobody is worried about the horrible days that they are heading towards. Their activities, way of life, habits and matrimonies are indicating that they have no sense of the befalling calamity.

The only way open to the Muslims now is to submit to Allah (swt) and obey His commandments. Instead of involving in pomp and show, they should review their lavish style of living and spare a fair amount of their yields for the advancement of Islam.

Dajjal and the End of Times

Dajjal

Five Periods of the Ummah

In a very popular tradition, the Apostle of Allah (swt) has informed his disciples that:

Your religion originates with the prophethood and Allah’s mercy, and will remain as long as Allah (swt) wills so.

Then, Allah (swt) will replace it with the Caliphate ‘in the pattern of the prophet-hood’. Then Allah (swt) will end it.

Then, it will be succeeded by the tyrant kingship, which will last as long as Allah (swt) wills it! Then, Allah (swt) will end it also.

Then, there will be the reign of terror, which will stay as long as Allah (swt) wills so. Then, Allah (swt) will end it as well.

Then will return the same ‘Caliphate after the pattern of the prophethood’, which will administer the affairs of the people in pursuance of the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa), and Islam will take root on the Earth. This rule will please those who will belong to the heavens, and those who belong to the Earth. When it dominates, the heaven will generously shower its blessings, and the Earth will divulge all its treasures. (Musnad Ahmad)

According to this eye-opening Hadeeth, three eras have already passed. We are living between the fourth and the firth eras. The end of the entire universe is imminent.

Major Signs of the Qiyamah

The Prophet of Allah (sa) has predicted a number of signs before the first trumpet will be blown in the heaven. They may be classified into two categories:

(1) the minor signs and

(2) the major signs.

The major signs will affect the affairs of the entire world. Among the manifestations of those are:

  1. Dajjal;
  2. Imam Mahdi;
  3. Isa (as);
  4. The community of Gog Magog;
  5. Emergence of a vast and thick smoke;
  6. Revelation of a talking-beast on the Earth;
  7. Rising of the sun from the West;
  8. Waging of an ever bloody huge war against the Muslims;
  9. Re-victory of the Muslims of Constantinople;
  10. Imperialistic sanctions on Egypt and Iraq
  11. Erasing of the building of the sanctified Kabah.

Although the major signs will reshape the existing world totally in favour of the Muslims, no definite time has been predicted by the Prophet of Allah (swt). Which sign will appear first is, therefore, out of our jurisdiction. Thus, we cannot calculate the exact arrival time of the Dajjal, etc.

The writer is the Director, National Academy of Islamic Research, Karachi. He has authored multiple books on Dajjal and the end of times.

War in Monotheistic Religions – Christianity

Apr 11 - War in monotheistic religion

Throughout history, many wars have been waged with religion being their stated cause and peace as their desired outcome. In the previous article, we took a look at the history of Judaism and traced the origins of war in this religion. This time, we will search for the roots of the concept of war in Christianity, as interpreted by Karen Armstrong, a renowned modern religion writer.

Pacifism

In about 27 C.E., many Jews of Palestine were attracted by a new sect which, according to Armstrong, claimed to be a universal form of Judaism. The leader was a Jew by the name of Jesus (Isa), who claimed to be the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for. He quickly attracted a large following, eventually making his way from his native Galilee to Jerusalem, where he preached of the approaching Kingdom of God. Seeing in his preaching a potential political threat, Romans, who ruled Jerusalem at the time, arrested him and had him crucified, as the history of Christianity has it. Jesus’ refusal to oppose Romans, even in the face of his death, clearly testified to the pacifist nature of his teachings. He taught his followers to turn the other cheek when attacked.

After the death of Jesus, his followers continued to be peacefully practicing Jews, worshiping daily in the Temple and living according to the Torah (Taurat). What distinguished them from other Jewish sects was their belief in Jesus as the Messiah and their expectation of his second coming – his returning to the world for establishing the Kingdom of God.

A Jew by the name of Paul was to take Jesus’ teachings to a new dimension. He started preaching to the Gentiles (non-Israelite tribes or nations), transforming Christianity from a Jewish sect into a universal religion, which was to bring redemption to the entire world. Paul’s version of Christianity had no room for a holy war, because Christians were to show love even to their enemies, as Jesus had enjoined it. According to Armstrong, Paul presented “Christianity as a spiritual religion: salvation now meant liberation from sin and death, not an extermination of the enemies of God”.

Several later historical developments within Christianity can be pinned as contributing factors leading to the formation of the concept of the ‘holy war’ during the Crusades: the image of the Antichrist, movements of martyrdom and monasticism as well as St. Augustine’s philosophy of a just war.

Antichrist

By the end of the first century, Christianity underwent certain transformations, which introduced more violent ideas into the peaceful religion of Jesus and Paul. The author of “Revelation” (one of the books of the New Testament written later) brought back into Christianity the importance for Judaism apocalyptic tradition. He talked of cosmic battles foretold by the Jewish prophets as heralding the final triumph of Christianity, when God would send down the New Jerusalem and a new perfect world from heaven. He described God’s enemies as terrifying monsters, placing a particular emphasis on a great Beast, which would crawl out of an abyss and establish himself in the Temple. It was from this powerful image of the Beast that the later generations of Christians developed a belief in what they called the Antichrist, which became very important in the ideology of crusading. According to Armstrong, “by the time of the Crusades, European Christians firmly believed that before the final apocalypse, Antichrist would appear in Jerusalem, would set himself up in the Temple and fight the Christians there in the great battles”.

Martyrdom

Initially, the attitude of the Roman Empire towards Christianity was not a tolerant one – they often persecuted and executed Christians who refused to sacrifice to Caesar. These persecutions eventually formed in Christians a strong sense that ‘the world’ was against them. This insecurity, according to Armstrong, led to a cult of voluntary martyrdom. The martyr was seen as the perfect Christian, “because Christ had said that giving one’s life for the beloved (Jesus) was the greatest act of love”. Eventually, the martyrdom cult acquired an aggressive dimension as martyrs started to denounce themselves to the authorities and believed that they were taking part in a cosmic battle with evil. Although martyrs passively allowed the inflicting of violence upon them, they thought of themselves as the ‘soldiers of Christ’, and considered their deaths as ‘victory’. Even though the Church tried to stop this trend of voluntary martyrdom, it never completely died out and surfaced again during the time of the Crusades.

Monasticism

When, years later, the persecutions stopped and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Christians faced a new dilemma: how could they be perfect Christians when there was no more opportunity for martyrdom? The answer was discovered in the movement of monasticism: radical Christians were to flee ‘the world’, which was hostile to them, and take refuge in the wilderness. Although Jesus and Paul had never promoted this type of asceticism, monks and their like-minded Christians believed that it was not possible to practice true Christian values in ‘the world’. In later centuries, Western Christians further developed the movement of monasticism by secluding themselves in monasteries which they saw as “fortresses of Christianity in a Godless world”. The monks living in them were considered as taking part in a holy war against the spiritual enemies of God. When the Crusades began, the monks became some of their most active participants.

Just War

During the early Middle Ages, Europe was under constant attacks by its enemies: barbarians destroyed the Roman Empire which was followed by the invasions of Norsemen, Muslims and Magyars. This constant threat and insecurity brought an aggressive element into the peaceful religion of Christianity. Despite all the attacks, the Church tried to keep the violence under control and remain pacifist. The Greek Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire regarded war as unchristian and preferred to hire mercenaries for their wars instead of using Christian soldiers. It was their Western brethren, the Latin theologians, who developed the concept of a just war. This would enable the Christians to fight and defend themselves without guilt.

In early fifth century, St. Augustine of Hippo (North Africa) laid the grounds for the Christian concept of a just war. According to Armstrong, St. Augustine “decided that, while wars against other Christians were always sinful and unjust, God could sometimes inspire a Christian leader to wage war against pagans”. According to him, the difference between a pagan war and a Christian one was that it had to be inspired by love towards the enemy. The war could not be based on revenge; it had to be based on the sense of justice. Violence was to be seen as medicinal – just like disciplining a child for his own good. Although Augustine’s arguments in favour of violence were paradoxical, Christians could no longer survive without war. However, it was only during the Crusades that the involvement of Christians in warfare transformed into a ‘holy war’: in 1095, Pope Urban II summoned the First Crusade for exterminating ‘the enemies of God’ – the Turks, an accursed race that had captured the holy land.

Today, the Christians are divided between two stances on war:

1) Pacifism: war cannot be justified under any circumstances;

2) Just war: war is never good but sometimes necessary and should be conducted within the limits of justice.

Compiled from Karen Armstrong’s “Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World” published by Anchor Books (www.anchorbooks.com)

Towards Effective Quran Classes

Apr 11- Towards effective Quran classes

By Umm Ibrahim

There are a multitude of Quran classes going on these days. If you are one of those who would like to initiate one among your social circle, here are five tips you might find handy:

Etiquette of Invitation

Whether you are inviting via telephone or in-person, do ensure that you simply clarify the date, day, time and venue – and leave it at that. Many a times, well-meaning ladies ask directly whether the invitee would come or not – and they do not take no for an answer. Understand that your invitee might need to make a few adjustments in terms of baby-sitting, care of elderly parents or parents-in-law etc. before she steps out. Your persistence will do nothing but put off your invitees. Of course, after one invitation, you can send a mass SMS on the eve of the event as a reminder.

Play space needed

There are many mothers who do not want to miss out on a good Quran class. Hence, they take along their kids with them – and plop them in front of the host’s television. It is a sorry sight to see mothers studying the Quran in one room and children watching television without any supervision in the other. Set up a small space in the same room or an adjacent one with toys, books and small snacks that can keep the young ones busy. This is an ideal time for one of the participants to narrate a story from the Quran to them as well.

One-dish, please

Ideally, Quran classes need not have a tea towards the end. However, if you would like to have a small, informal session over tea, try to make it a one-dish. It can take a very heavy toll on one’s budget to have tea parties with snacks every week. Request every invitee to bring along a small snack that will not create too much of a mess. If you are a participant, offer to help with the serving and the cleaning up.

Do not linger

Once the session is over, leave. Do not hang around, waiting for your host or the lady who has conducted the session to be free so that you may have a friendly chat with her or discuss some personal problem. Understand that she may have other commitments as well. If you do have something important to discuss individually, take some time from her and set up an appointment for a later date.

Realistic “home” work

Some Quran circles give homework – this is perfectly alright but this work must be along practical lines. If memorisation of a short Surah is being given as homework, then further reading from Seerah and Fiqh books must be designated for later weeks. Also, do not be too rigid about the homework – it is understandable that some will be able to do it, and others will not. Making it a true “classroom” scenario will only be counter-productive.

The 7 habits of highly effective teenagers – Part 7

Apr 11 - 7 habits

The Man/Woman in the Mirror

Sounds like the title of a novel, doesn’t it? Well here’s what it means:

Sean Covey states: “Before you’ll ever win in the public arena of life, you must first win private battles with yourself. All change begins with you.”

He shares an interesting incident from his life. Sean wanted to be a quarterback footballer. He had been playing in high school and accordingly chose a university that could help him realize his dreams.

Once Sean stepped on the field, he didn’t do as well as he wanted to, and his coach was not pleased with his performance. He was clearly told that if he didn’t improve, he would be removed from the team.

He had to make a hard decision: either to quit football or triple his efforts and commitment. Over the next few weeks, Sean waged a war inside his head, coming face to face with his fears and self-doubts. He soon understood that he was scared of competing, being in the limelight and, perhaps, of trying and failing. That was holding him back from giving his best. In other words it was like: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Sean decided to brace himself for his one supreme effort: to stretch his full capacity and stand his full stature. He stopped holding back and gave his best. He didn’t know if he would be the number one, but at least he would have done his very best.

Once he made up his mind and set his heart to it, he managed to change a lot. He began to show improvements, and his coach noticed it. He led his team to victory at a national football event. It didn’t happen in a day but over weeks.

This in no way means that he stopped being scared or wasn’t nervous before the final game. Everyone congratulated him for his victory. Sean knew that he hadn’t won on the football field that day. He had triumphed several months back, when he decided to look his fears in the eye. Back then, there was no applause or reward at the victory he had achieved in the privacy of his mind. He believed in Siedah Garret and Glen Ballard’s statements: “I’m starting with the man/woman in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Inside Out

Have you ever met anyone who has graduated from university before being enrolled in the kindergarten? If you have, I would like to meet that person, too!

Generally speaking, we crawl before we learn to walk. We master arithmetic before we learn algebra. We fix OURSELVES before we fix others. If you want to change your life, the point to begin at is yourself and not your parents, teachers, friends, fiancé, etc.

You have absolute control over your thoughts, actions and feelings. But you cannot control the others with the same power. This is also termed as Tazkiya-e-Nafs or self accountability, ownership and taking responsibility. Heavy stuff, huh?

A bishop once wrote the following about learning from his life:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world;

As I grew older and wiser, I realized the world would not change.

And I decided to shorten my sights somewhat and change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.

As I entered my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I sought to change only my family, those closest to me, but, alas, they would have none of it.

And now here I lie on my death bed and realize (perhaps for the first time) that if only I’d changed myself first, then by example I might have influenced my family, and with their encouragement and support, I might have bettered my country, and who knows – I might have changed the world.”

You can almost taste the regret and helplessness this poor man feels. It’s fortunate for you that you are still young and eager. Allah (swt) has still given you a chance. Leap forward and embrace the change. Change is always inside out – not outside in. Remember, it begins with you!

Insha’Allah, in the upcoming issues, we will talk about what we have termed as one’s ‘personal bank account’, from where the first three habits of highly effective teenagers stem from. They are all about personal victory and manageable tips to build self-confidence. Be on the lookout!

Cheating Muslim Spouses: a Sad State of ‘Affairs’

Apr 11 - Cheating muslim spouses

In the complicated fabric of human relationships, many myths abound. Realities are either distorted or brushed under the carpet to present a delusive, picture-perfect ‘mirage’ of happiness.

One of the negative trends mostly ‘brushed under the carpet’ in Pakistan are extra-marital affairs, commonly known in international media as ‘cheating’. I can identify at least half a dozen such cases, some that have gone as far as Zina (adultery). Some of them resulted in broken homes damaged beyond repair, and a sad reminder of how a marriage can be ruined due to the mistake of one or both partners.

Saima*, a happily married and well-off mother discovered her husband having an affair with her maid. Her entire world came crashing down. After a volatile confrontation, her husband begged forgiveness and vowed to mend his ways. However, just six months later, she discovered him texting women on his cell phone. Once again, he asked for forgiveness. With divorce out of the picture for the sake of her children, she continues to live obediently with her husband, but a broken heart filled with disgust and hatred for him. Outwardly, she remains the ‘picture perfect’ urban housewife, complimented for her well-maintained youthful looks and elegant sense of style.

Mahira had a fling with her husband’s best friend, who visited her house often; both of them had children at that time. She decided to end her marriage to be with him, but he could not leave his family for her. Since her divorce, she has been living with her ageing mother. Her adult children are married and leading their own lives.

Uzma’s husband admitted to his long distance affair with a single Muslim woman over the Internet. He had married Uzma after a romantic relationship and they had three children. She also took care of his elderly widowed father, who resided with them. Her husband admitted to have visited his girlfriend on a foreign ‘business’ trip. Now, he wants to marry his girlfriend and bring her into their current home; however, Uzma has told him that if he does, she will leave. Divorce, on the other hand, is out of the question to safeguard their children’s future.

There are many such cases of distressed, heartbroken, married women, who have ‘the other woman’ in their lives. Sadly, the reverse is also true: Muslim men catch their wives cheating on them primarily through Internet and cell phone. Instant communication has become extremely easy in real time. This has exacerbated the problem of casual flings, as the recent media hype surrounding the personal life of a world-class golfer has proved.

Young, married Muslims of today are enthusiastically adding their ex-college friends, including ‘old flames’, to their Facebook, Twitter and Google IM lists. They peer too easily into each other’s intimate lives through candid pictures and frank status updates. Carelessness in these online relationships welcomes Shaitan, the enemy of our faith and good deeds, to wreak havoc in our marital relationships.

The husband-wife relationship is an extremely close one sealed in Allah’s (swt) name – and a very fragile one, too. It is the prime target of Shaitan, because it forms the building block of the future Muslim generation.

It is very important to realize that some basic Islamic rulings regarding the restrictions on inter-gender relationships and communication exist for the benefit of our own faith, as well as, of course, for protecting the sanctity of our families’ close bonds.

Observing the Islamic restrictions of not conversing too freely with members of the other gender, either in person or online, is a necessary step in protecting the love between husband and wife. Similarly, socializing in mixed gatherings should be curtailed, as all Islamic scholars are unanimous in their opinion that mixed gatherings open the door to Fitnah (temptation). What can then be said about the current trend of young married couples attending drink-and-dance parties at hotels and private homes of friends in their social circle? We ask Allah (swt) to protect us.

Furthermore, care must be taken in employing servants, who roam around freely in our homes. Leaving young maids clad in provocative clothing alone in the home with one’s husband or son is a risk that many housewives naively take. Similarly, many Muslim men have no qualms about allowing non-Mahrams, from personal car drivers to their brothers and cousins, to enter upon their wives in their absence.

I can empathize with the heart-rending emotional state of any person, who has a cheating spouse. Briefly, the advice I can give them is:

  1. Seek help from Allah (swt) through extra prayers and sincere Duas. Join a Quran class to soothe your anguished heart and troubled soul.
  2. Do not make a hasty decision; rather, persevere with patience as much as you can.
  3. Assess your feelings about the situation honestly and unburden yourself only on someone trustworthy, who can keep secrets. Remember, matters like these cause gossip to spread like wildfire. Do not divulge intimate details to anyone.
  4. Talk to your spouse without being confrontational. Tell him/her how you feel. Request him/her to end the affair and repent to Allah (swt).
  5. Have hope – couples have successfully overcome such marital blows and moved on, falling back in love. It is not impossible to repair a marriage that is hit by an affair.
  6. Try to forgive for the sake of Allah (swt); really, it is possible! Not to mention, very liberating.
  7. Strive to think positively and avoid company of people with negative thinking. Consciously keep in mind the positive qualities in your spouse.
  8. Divorce should only be the very last option. If you really feel you cannot continue and want a separation, first talk to your elders / trusted scholars. Consider your financial conditions, especially if you a female. Children are, of course, a major consideration, too. Finally, do an Istikhara and supplicate. Insha’Allah, you will reach the right decision.

Muslims should always remember that sincere repentance (Tawbah) wipes out sins from the book of deeds. A repentant person is as if he never sinned at all. If Allah (swt) can forgive someone, who gives up a sin and changes for the better, why shouldn’t we?

*Names of individuals have been altered to protect their identity.