Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stand Up and Speak Out

Though she's had her name smeared, her car egged and her phone pranked, a non-Muslim friend of mine continues her battle against Islamophobia, serving as an inspiration for Muslims who claim to be custodians of the truth but increasingly don't dare speak out for fear of repercussions in a post-9/11 world.

My friend let her fingers do the talking this summer when she discovered a newspaper was spewing lies about Islam and Muslims in the midst of a new mosque going up in our town. She started calling companies advertising in the paper and told them she was boycotting their goods. When some responded by pulling their ads from the weekly publication, her troubles started.

But the intimidations did not stop her commitment to speaking the truth (haqq in Arabic), which is a virtue of human behavior, a necessity of human society and an innate God-given quality we must all recognize, declare and struggle for within ourselves and in society as God repeatedly reminds us in the Quran, which mentions the word haqq more than 300 times.

God: "Consider the flight of time! Verily man is bound to lose himself, unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity." (103:1-3)

Prophet Muhammad (S): "Speak the truth even if it be against yourself, speak the truth even if it is bitter."

"The general rule with regards to the truth is that the heart should be inclined towards God, His commandments and the realities while the rule with regards to falsehood is that the heart should be averse to things that are prohibited and related to other than God, and the interior should be kept away from dirty and impure carnal attachments," Sayyid Ali Akber Sadaaqat writes in Anecdotes of Reflection.

In this time of rampant worldwide oppression, where webs of lies, deception and falsehoods permeate the media airwaves, Hollywood movies and political debates in order to justify the continued exploitation of the masses, it is essential we fulfill our obligation to expose the truth about the realities of this world.

Ali, husband of Fatima (one of the perfect women of all times), said: "Know that - may God have mercy on you - you are living at a time when those who speak about right are few, when tongues are loath to utter the truth and those who stick to the right are humiliated. The people of this time are engaged in disobedience...their learned men are hypocrites, and their speakers are sycophants."

God inspires us to speak truth to power by giving us examples of heroes throughout history who persevered and attained victory despite being mocked, shunned and attacked by the establishment, much as truth-tellers are today.

"They speak the truth before those people who hate it," says scholar Muhammad Baig. "That's when it really counts."

One such person was Prophet Moses, foster son of Asiya (another perfect woman). He was told by God he was chosen to be a Prophet because, "I found no one better and more truthful than you." In addition to having deep reliance on God, Moses teaches us that we must develop perseverance before speaking up to help stay commited to the truth during the inevitable backlash. 

The inscription on the ring of Moses: "Have patience that you may be rewarded. Speak the truth that you may succeed."

A media outlet currently under siege for propagating the truth and exposing corruption and injustices is Press TV, a 24-hour English language news network owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and headquartered in Tehran.  Earlier this month the European satellite provider Eutelsat SA pulled the plug on several Iranian satellite news channels on the orders of the European Commission of the European Union, which was ironically awarded the Nobel Peace Prize days earlier.

"They want to silence these channels because they talk the truth," says Mohsen Saleh, a professor at Lebanese University.

Maybe I should get my friend to put in a few calls to Eutelsat....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Khutbaaz (Sermons)

"Reviving Political Dimension of Hajj Pilgrimage"

In "Khutbaaz (Sermons)" you will find summaries of Friday prayer sermons given this month that encourage people to oppose systems of oppression and establish social justice. Why? See my post: Preaching Justice.

By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
Friday, October 19, 2012

The Saudi government has reduced the hajj to mere rituals but pilgrims need to use this  annual global gathering "of the minds" to discuss, plan and further the establishment of social justice on earth.

"Something has happened to our perception of the hajj," Imam Asi told his congregation Friday.

Though forbidden by the Saudi regime, political engagement is the true purpose of Muslims from around the world coming together once a year, according to Imam Asi.

We know that because God instructed Prophet Muhammad (S) to ask pilgrims to publicly declare during the hajj separation from "mushriks," or those who equate other authorities or powers with God and so indulge in injustice and oppression.

"And a proclamation from God and His Apostle [is herewith made] unto all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage: 'God disavows all who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be for your own good; and if you turn away, then know that you can never elude God!' And unto those who are bent on denying the truth give thou [O Prophet] the tiding of grievous chastisement." (Quran 9: 3)

Asi said during the Prophet's (S) time in Mecca, the Kaaba used to be the center of commercial activity, literary contests and regional meetings of decision-makers and was open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"What God is telling us to do worldly powers are telling us not to do," Asi said.

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

"Occupied Mosques Fail to Foil Anti-Islam Propaganda"
By Imam Muhammad Asi of the Islamic Center in Washington
Friday, October 12, 2012

Muslim haters are getting away with spreading lies about Islam because too many mosques are controlled by Saudi petro-dollars and don't refute the propaganda.

"There are a syndicate of mosques around the world that don't report to God but report to their Saudi God," Imam Muhammad Asi told his congregation Friday.

"We are presented to be the bad guys" by the enemies of Islam. "They repeat their lies so much so that shrapnels of it are lodged in the brains of the public."

"When there's no one to respond to this in an intelligent way, they get away with it," he said.

Opponents of Islam quote verses from the Quran out of context to bulwark false claims that Muslims are blood thirsty terrorists so they can maintain public support for the profitable War on Terror. 

The truth is God teaches Muslims: "There is no compulsion in religion." (Quran 2: 256)

"We don't force people to become Muslims, far from it," said Asi, adding forced conversions would only create more hypocrites not true believers.

Rather, Muslims have been instructed to interact with non-Muslims through three channels: 1) wisdom 2) sound counsel and 3) courteous debate.

God's commandment in 2:216 that, "You have been assigned combat duty, even though you do not like it," (as it goes against a Muslim's peaceful nature) is often quoted by Islamophobes to justify their claims that Muslims are warmongers but it actually refers to how Muslim nations are supposed to act when under attack.

To complicate matters more, the enemies of Islam are creating and supporting militant groups in Muslim countries that, in fact, do not represent Islam, to perpetuate their Muslims-are-terrorists propaganda. 

The Saudi Arabian monarchy, an agent of Western powers, is itself becoming a police state, according to Asi.

"The supervision of hajj is in criminal hands," he said.

For the upcoming hajj pilgrimage the Saudi government has mobilized 25,000 military officers and other individuals under arms, 6,900 mechanized vehicles and 19 helicopters over Mecca and Medina. The addition of 150 cameras this year brings the total number of surveillance equipment to 2,951.

"You'd think this is a warfront!" Asi said. "Do they consider hajj an invasion or occupation?"

Asi: "We have a police state in Mecca and Medina. What are you going to do about it O Muslims?"

Click here to listen to the complete sermon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Muhammad: Champion of Social Justice

When a popular Muslim scholar was invited by students at a local university earlier this year to talk about "Prophet Muhammad (S): Mercy to the Universe," he completely blew it.

With growing numbers of homeless hitting the streets outside, frustrated protestors camping day and night across town and perpetual wars being waged overseas, I thought the scholar would offer the Prophet's (S) solutions to major socio-economic and political crises facing our community.

But when he finally climbed the Arabian-nights motif stage, the speaker invited from afar chose to talk about the Prophet's (S) compassion towards frogs instead.

In response to the spate of media attacks on Prophet Muhammad (S), many Muslim organizations across America are dedicating the next year to promoting the truth about our beloved Messenger (S).

God: "And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (Quran 86:4)

"They created a market for us," says scholar Mansour Leghai. We should "use this challenge as a golden opportunity to present ourselves and our dear religion of Islam."

While I'm all for saving amphibians, let's think bigger this year. Let's let our compatriots suffering all sorts of injustices in on the nuts and bolts of the Prophet's (S) personality and teachings, those things that inspired a small group of people (Muslims and non-Muslims) fourteen hundred years ago to replace extreme ignorance and oppression in society with enlightenment and peace and justice for all.

For that is what the Prophet (S) did. After expressing anger when his deceased wife Khadija (one of the four perfect women of all times) was ridiculed, Prophet Muhammad (S) expounded the characteristics that endeared her to him and God.

"She hailed my mission at a time when everybody shouted against it; she lent me the support of her conviction when there was hardly a believer; she enlivened my heart when I felt lonely and deserted."

Now that the opponents of the Prophet (S) have brought him into the public sphere where he belongs and out of the books of hadith (traditions), halaqas (learning circles) and milads (Prophet Muhammad's (S) birthday celebrations) where we Muslims have confined him to for far too long, let's get moving. 

With oppression all around us, we must find creative ways of sharing those aspects of the Prophet's (S) personality that compelled even non-Muslim observers like Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw to regard him as the "Saviour of Humanity." 

Shaw: “I believe that if a man like him [Prophet Muhammad (S)] were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness."

In the comment section below, I invite readers to present plans and campaigns underway to promote the truth about Prophet Muhammad (S), who is indeed a role model for establishing social justice for all (including frogs).