Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mystery of Islam

What do we know about Islam and its origins? What does Al-Quran teach us about Islam's beginnings, and what it came to offer the world at large? What do we understand about the Prophet Muhammed(pbuh)and what sort of person he was? We know that the Prophet(pbuh) was the medium through which Islam was propagated to the world. But how? How did he receive the revelation and how did he go about in spreading the Universal Message of Islam? And why also, did he say that Islam started in a mystery and shall end in a mystery?

Through the ages there were many who tried to start new religions and stamp their authority down on history. Many tried to coerce people into believing in them,and, their doctrines by bribing the masses with whatever they had at their disposal, and also, by means of wars that caused the destruction of countless societies. Some even brutally usurped the lands from indigenous peoples, calling them savages, and went on to convert these 'savages' with horrifying consequences. History has enough, perhaps more than enough data on the modus operandi of these 'Giants Among Men' and how they came to their respective ends.

But why was Muhammed(pbuh) so successful? What made him succeed where others miserably failed? Why did he manage to influence, not only Arabia and the Arabs, but Egypt, Persia(which is today known as Iran) as well as Syria, The Byzantyne Empire(Rome) and even as far afield as Spain and Russia?

Let us look into that cave on Jabal Nur(Mountain of Light), in Mecca, where Muhammed(pbuh)spent countless nights meditating about his existence. It was on one such night, the 17 Ramadan (the Islamic Lunar Month) that it all began.

We see that this cave (called the Cave of Hira)is not very big. In fact, those who has visited Mecca and has seen this recess will testify that it can scarcely accommodate more than two people. So what was Muhammed(pbuh) doing alone in that cave at night? What was he doing away from his comfortable home and his lovely wife, Khadija who had made him in charge of all her affairs and businesses? Didn't he realize that Mecca, at that particular period was not a very safe place to move around alone at night? History tells us that, Arabia with all its many tribes and diverse population of Jews, Christians, Coptics, as well as Zorastrians and Pagans, not to mention the Bedouins, who prided themselves on their prowess of hijacking any sort of caravan travelling unsuspectingly through the desert, made Arabia a very hostile place indeed.

But be that as it may, we find Muhammed(pbuh) sitting alone, in the cave, on a blanket of ox skin that Khadija had aquired for him on one of her shopping outings and we try to piece together the events of what took place on that auspices night.

He was sitting with his eyes closed, facing the entrance, as he gently breathed in the night air that was somewhat cold compared to the usually warm breeze of Mecca. It was well after dark and the mountain was bathed in a mysterious glow from a full moon that was traversing the heavens in a slow, majestic motion.

The little makeshift lamp next to him was throwing eerie shadows on the uneven walls and his back felt a little sore from the position he was sitting in. He wondered what Khadija was doing, and what she had meant when she had asked him, earlier that day, whether he was going to the cave again, and, if he was coming home that night.

Muhammed(pbuh) sighed and nodded to himself. Shame! Khadija was truly a remarkable person, he acknowledged. She was unlike any other woman he had ever encountered!

He shifted his position on the floor and sighed once again. Yes! She was not the usual, hen-pecking, nagging and ever-complaining female he had come to know in Mecca. Not that he had had relationships with other women, but from his business dealings with them he was glad Khadija was not like them.

He thought of the time she had proposed to him and he smiled. Who would have suspected that Khadija, being fifteen years his senior, and a very wealthy woman at that, could go over to such action.(He had been 25 and she 40). Nevertheless, he had not looked back once during his fifteen years of marriage to her. People had always admired his exceptionally good looks and some women had even made suggestions to him. But he was not interested. In fact, he couldn't bring himself to strike up a relationship with any strange women for that matter, be it serious or platonic. He didn't know why! Even as a youngster, when he had been invited to come and party with his peers, he had never participated. And when asked why he never attended, he would simply say that he had fallen asleep.

Khadija trusted him. She knew that if he said that he had to do something, she could be rest assured that he he would not do the opposite. She had also long since learnt that Muhammed(pbuh) was no ordinary man. If he gave his word he never broke it. If he accepted anything in trust he would not abuse that trust. People came to know him as reliable and he was given the name of Al-Ameen(The Trustworthy). No one she knew in Mecca spoke out against the evils of women abuse and the burying alive of the female offspring(For fear of bringing bad luck to the household!), as he did. No one questioned the power of the idols and what they could do for the community. Especially al-Lat and Al-Uzza, whom he fiercely criticized. Sometimes she feared for his safety.

He stood up and stretched his arms above his head. He felt stiff and he thought to himself that he would spend a few more minutes meditating and then turn in for the night. The Arabs and their senseless lives played a lot on his mind tonight.

Suddenly there was a mighty blue flash. Muhammed(pbuh) froze.

A figure appeared out of nowhere, and Muhammed(pbuh) was so shocked that he could only stare dumbfound at the 'Figure'. To this day everyone knows who the 'Figure' was, but not what he looked like.

It was the Archangel Gabriel!

Muhammed's(pbuh)mouth opened but no words came out. He could only stare.

"O, Muhammed! Read!

Muhammed(pbuh) kept on staring dumbfounded.

"O,Muhammed!" The figure said in a loud booming voice a second time,"Read! And still Muhammed(pbuh) couldn't say or do anything.

It was then that Gabriel folded his arms around Muhammed(pbuh)in such an overwhelming embrace that a sudden burst of words escaped Muhammed's(pbuh) lips: "Read! In the Name of Your Lord Who Creates! Read!And Your Lord is He who has taught man the use of the pen!

And so unfolded the greatest mystery of the world; the greatest mystery of all time;the mystery of Islam!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Satanism and Islam|Islam-the Straight Path|Quran Guidance

What does Islam say about Satanism and its operations? What does Al-Quran teach us about Satan himself? Allah Almighty tells in the Quran that Satan is the 'Rejected One', because he refused to prostrate before Adam when ordered to do so by Allah. However, it is also reported that before Satan was banished from Heaven, he asked Allah to allow him to mislead the Children of Adam(Mankind),and, he was granted his request. But, he was told that he would only mislead those who disobeyed the Almighty. Beyond that he would never be able to seduce those who steadfastly believed in Allah and feared Him and only Him!

But let me tell you about the night of 20 September and the horrifying events I experienced that Sunday evening last year, when I saw, first hand, what happened to a purported Satan worshipper!

It started from the moment I had parked my car in the driveway of my house and even now as I think about it I can still feel that dreadful icy hand clamping my throat reminiscing about those awful happenings.

The time was 8.30.

I had switched off the lights of the vehicle and was about to get out when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone rushing towards me from the shadows.

I froze. My heart thudding against my ribs as an alarming pain spread across my chest. "I'm going to be Hijacked!" It flashed across my mind and I was paralyzed.

"Muallim!" A voice suddenly called out and I saw it was Farzana, one of my students at the Madressa(Islamic religious institution) where I taught. She was dressed in jeans and a black top and she had a scarf on her head. Her face looked white.

"Muallim!"(meaning teacher in Arabic).

"Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great!),I exclaimed and I had trouble swallowing the saliva in my mouth.

"What the hell..!" More in shock than anything else.

"What are you doing here?"

She looked at me and I saw her mouth twitching.

"I'm sorry if I've startled you, Muallim, but you must come quickly. It is Nadia. I think she is dying!"

"What?" For a moment I could only stare at her, as I tried to gather my scattered wits. "What are you talking about?"

"Nadia, Muallim. She is very sick! You must come quickly. Please!"

I frowned. "Nadia? Who is she? I don't know a Nadia..."

"Yes! You Do, Muallim! She was Shehaam's friend!

"Shehaam?" Shehaam was my sixteen year old daughter.

"Yes! Her mother told me to come and fetch you!"

"Her Mother!" This was getting more weird by the minute. "But why me? Why doesn't her mother get a doctor for her?"

Farzana didn't answer, but I could see she was under a lot of stress.

"Okay. Get in there." I said, opening the passenger-side door for her. Fatima, my wife, had gone to spend the day at her mother's place, with the children, while I had attended a Madressa meeting. I therefore promised myself I would just go and see what was going on and be back before Fatima and the kids returned. I was tired and I wanted to get into bed. "I can't stay for long. Okay? I have other things to do as well."

"Thank you, Muallim!" She uttered and the relief on her face was almost painful to see. "She is very sick!"

I didn't comment as I reversed the car out of the driveway. But I couldn't help feeling a shiver run down my spine as I thought about Nadia and that one time I had gone to fetch Shehaam from that house where Nadia had taken her to and the altercation I had had with a thin, snake-like woman who had told me that a child had the right to choose her own religion. I shall not say what I told her- it is unprintable! But what I had seen there that night had had my neck hairs raising and had me swear to myself that I would not allow any child that I knew to fall into the clutches of those who practice Satanism!

Sadly though, Nadia, being a very self-willed person paid scant interest to my admonitions. Even when I approached her mother, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that Nadia was still young and she would realize the folly of her ways once she was more matured. That was more than a year ago.

And now, as I stopped in front of their house, I could still see the dead goat, covered in blood and the head with eyes wide open, as if accusing those who had killed it, lying in the middle of the floor of that snake woman's place. One could only guess what they were doing with the blood of that dead goat.

Farzana got out and didn't wait for me as she made her way to the front door. All the lights were on and there were two cars parked in front of the lawn. I could see movement behind the curtains.

"Muallim is here," Farzana called out as she opened the door. Nadia's mother stood there crying.

I greeted.

"What happened?" I enquired, thinking how very different our last encounter had been when she had practically thrown me out of her house. "Where's Nadia?"

She didn't say anything, just led me into the house where I saw two women sitting in the kitchen. Nadia was in a room at the back. There were people with her.

I entered and the first thing that hit me like a brick in the face was the terrible smell that pervaded the room. It was a smell of rotting flesh mixed with the pungent odour of incense. It was the same smell I had experienced at that snake woman's place!

I went further into the room and saw a man sitting by Nadia's side on a stool. He had a stethoscope around his neck. Nadia was staring angrily at him.

I frowned. There was no one else. I couldn't understand it. I had heard many voices."

"Get out! You Bastard!" And I jumped back. Nadia was speaking to the doctor in a voice that you sometimes heard in horror films, but not in real life. Her eyes were completely white and spittle drooled from the corners of her mouth. "Leave me alone! You..!"

I shall not elaborate on her vocabulary, but it was of the very foulest nature. She cursed in different tones, sometimes like that of a male with an extremely deep voice and sometimes in a screeching tone that had my nerves jangling involuntarily. The doctor seemed to be at his wits end as he tried to calm her down.

I went to her. She didn't recognize me.

"Who are you? Did you also come to f... me?" There was a huge bulge on her stomach.

I didn't pay her any mind. The doctor stared at me. "Nadia..." I said, laying my hand on her arm. "listen to me!"

"F...You!" She screamed. "F...You!" And she tried to claw my face. I moved my head to one side and pressed her down with both hands.
"Say: He is Allah The One.
Allah The Irresistible. The Absolute Power!
He was not born...And neither does He give birth.
And none can be compared unto him!

I read these verses from the Quran, three times and blew over her. Her body convulsed and the doctor had to help me keep her down.

She was immensely strong and I was suddenly afraid that if we couldn't control her there would be no telling what she could do, not only to herself but to all those who came into contact with her. I read again:
"Allah...There is no other God but Him
The Mighty. The All Powerful!
No slumber, nor sleep can overpower Him
To Him Belongs whatever is in the Heavens and the Earth..."

I read these verses in Arabic and blew over her every time I had finished. I had never read so loud- these verses- at any occasion that I could ever remember!

She suddenly went limp.

"Nadia!" The doctor whispered and bent down to her.

She suddenly jumped up and grabbed his hair. I hit her across the face so hard that her head snapped back. She released the man's hair.

"O,Allah!" I said softly, urgently, as I watched her bending double onto the bed. "Forgive this child. Please forgive her! O Most Merciful of all those who show Mercy. Please forgive her! Please forgive her! Please!"

I took a glass of water that stood on a bedside table and sprinkled it over her as I spoke to Allah. "Help her. O, Lord! Please help her! Only You can help her. O, Allah. Please have Mercy on her. Please! I beg of You! Please! "And Nadia suddenly started to vomited till there was nothing left in her stomach. She vomited and vomited, her thin body swaying from side to side, her eyes closed as she started to whimper pathetically.

I rubbed her head and saw that she was starting to bleed between her legs. The doctor saw it too and examined her.

He frowned at me. "If I'm not mistaken, I'd say she's miscarrying!"

"What?" I frowned back at him astonished. "Are you sure?"

"Yes! It's definitely not her period!"

I found out afterwards that Nadia had been impregnated by someone of her cult, posing as Satan himself. She was to bear him a child and together, as per the 'Scriptures' they were to rule the Earth.

What nonsense! One might be tempted to say. What rubbish! But what I saw there that night was not nonsense, nor rubbish. That child was genuinely 'possessed' and, if I hadn't managed to get her under control, who knows what could have happened?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Committing Suicide In Islam|Islam-The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quranic Guidance

What does Islam say about committing suicide? Is it permissible to take one's own life and to ascribe it to any course or reason whatsoever?

Before the advent of Islam in Arabia,the Arabs used to indulge in all sorts of evil practices imaginable. Apart from the wholesale abuse of women and the burying of their female babies...Alive! They killed and murdered each other over any nonsensical issue they could find. Mass suicide was not an unheard of thing amongst those Arabs who had lost a son or wealth or anything that made them feel life was not worth living anymore. Therefore Allah revealed the following verses in Al Quran: "Suicide is forbidden. "O ye who believe!... [do not] kill yourselves, for truly Allah has been to you Most Merciful. If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast him into the Fire..." (Qur'an 4:29-30).

But can there be anything more traumatic, crushing, or heart-wrenching than to see someone you love dearly hanging from a rope in your garage? Can there be a more pitiable sight than to see a father on his knees, sobbing like a baby, his fists banging the concrete till blood spurts all over the floor?

Let me then tell you the story about Tariq (not his real name) and the events that led to his demise in this very sad manner. And, let me also convey to you- as a Muslim- the importance of keeping a close watch on your children and to teach them about the Straight Path of Islam- about the Quran and its instructions,and, that there is no problem so big that you have to take your own life while searching for answers.

Tariq was a good-looking young man who lived with his parents and sister Mariam in Plumstead, one of the more affluent areas of Cape Town, where everyone kept to themselves.

His father, Ebrahim, a builder, prided himself on giving his family everything they needed, as well as the finer things in life, and, as was customary in every Muslim family, he sent his children for Islamic teachings and Quran studies, but this was only up to a point, because he believed in earning a living by doing an honest day's work and it was merely through hard work and sacrifice that he had managed to come out on top and provide for his family the way he did. Tariq was a briliant student, Ebrahim knew. And,he was not going to let anything come between his son and his academic aspirations, if he could help it. Of course, Islamic teachings and Quran guidance was also important, he admitted. But Tariq was still young and Ebrahim felt sure that with the strict up-bringing he had given to both his children, Tariq would not just simply stray from the Straight Path of Islam! Besides, Islamic teachings and Quranic activities could still be obtained once his children had completed their academic studies.

Tariq's mother, Fatima, on the other hand, was a good-natured woman, always smiling, and always ready to lend a hand at functions, although her husband never approved of her mixing with the ordinary folk.

Tariq attended a well-known college in the upper echelons of Newlands, where emphasis was placed on A-Grade passes. Students were encouraged to participate in all kinds of extramural activities, as well as all the major sporting codes. Parents had to attend Parent/Teacher Associations meetings, and no one was allowed to abstain without a valid reason.
Students who did not excel were kept behind in detention classes where a specialist in education methodology worked with them intensely. No one left these remedial sessions without emerging a better person. Students who showed a propensity to complacency and laziness were not tolerated for very long. Either you toed the line or you were dealt with in a no-nonsense fashion. The parents would be called in and the student disciplined there and then; if the behaviour or attitude did not change in a given time, the child would be expelled. No one questioned the school's motives – it aimed to turn out leadership material. The parents paid too exorbitant a fee to complain

So it stands to reason that Tariq, being A-Grade material was not afforded a lot of time for Islam and Quranic activities. His ambition was to become a nuclear physicist and his parents spared no expense in getting him all the extracurricular tuition he needed. Tariq did not disappoint them.

When he turned nineteen, he was already doing his Honours Degree in physics, and the speculation was rife that he was going to complete his training at NASA in America, because his understanding of atomic structures and quantum physics was at a very high level.

He kept mostly to himself. And, as has been said before, he never attended Madressa(Islam religious and cultural school) or any institution where Islamic learning and Quranic Guidance was offered. He wasn't a very spiritual person as such. His parents allowed him the freedom to busy himself with his own devices, to them he was a good child.

His sister, Mariam, was his confidante. He loved her and she loved him. If he shared anything with anybody it would be her. She was two years younger, but acted as if she were older. No one could say anything bad about Tariq, or she would would have it out with them. She protected him fiercely.

Then, about four months before Tariq committed suicide, Mariam noticed that her brother wasn't as close to her as usual. He never came to her room to chat to her, or even ask her to wash and blow-dry his hair as he always had. She noticed, however, that he always seemed neat and tidy, and took special care in the way his clothes were ironed.

She cornered him and questioned him about his new habits. She asked him directly if there was a woman in his life, and who was she? Was she pretty? Was it someone she knew?

He had answered her vaguely, she recalled afterwards. He had said that she was imagining things, and that there was no one he was seeing. But she had found out soon enough, and so had their parents, that there was a girl in his life and she was much older than he. In fact she had been married before and had two children: a girl aged 7 and a boy aged 5.

Her name was Nadia, and she was very pretty. Tariq was head over heels in love with her.

Their parents were devastated and barred Tariq from ever seeing Nadia again. They even went so far as to confiscate his motorcycle, and everywhere he went he was under their supervision.

They discovered to their shock and horror that the girl was pregnant, and Ebrahim wasted no time in making his intentions clear. There would be no further relations between his son and "this woman," as he called her; he, Ebrahim, would see that the child had everything, and he would also pay for the woman's confinement. That, of course, was if it could be proven that his son was the father of the child.

Ebrahim relayed this to the woman and she refused, saying that she was not a prostitute. She genuinely loved Tariq with all her heart, and that was why she was pregnant with his baby. She would raise the child as a good Muslim, she had said tearfully, and she would make sure that he followed the true Path of Islam and its Teachings- not someone who made money his God!

Needless to say Ebrahim wasn't very pleased with her and it had taken all his willpower and self-control not to assault her there and then. But in some ways he had felt relieved. He hadn't told anyone about this conversation, and had simply said, when questioned about the girl's response, that she was rude and didn't know how to speak to older people. At least, he told his wife, Tariq could now concentrate on his studies once again, and that was all that mattered. The sooner they could get him into NASA the better. He, Ebrahim, would go to the ends of the earth to achieve that. He felt that perhaps the events of the past few months were a sign for him to work harder on his son's future. But that was all going to change, he promised his wife. Tariq was going to make a great name for himself and his family. Ebrahim was going to make sure of it.

Tariq then began to disappear from his room regularly at night. He would wait till everyone was asleep and then slip out his bedroom window. He was like someone possessed.

Mariam caught him sneaking in at about two o'clock one morning, his face all flushed. She did not dwell on the thought, but she knew he was heavily involved with Nadia. His eyes portrayed his inner feelings more than any words could express.

She asked him what he was going to do for the future, because she knew that their father was planning to get him off to America as soon as he possibly could. What if he became aware of Tariq's nightly escapades?

Tariq smiled secretively and had said that nothing was going to stop him seeing Nadia. He planned on marrying her, and nobody was going to come between them. Nobody! He said it so ominously that she had felt a cold hand gripping her throat. And when she had asked him about his studies, he shrugged, and lifted his hands dismissively. She wanted to tell him that their father had threatened to disown him if he persisted in seeing this woman. What would he do for money then? But seeing the look in his eyes, she kept quiet, and slowly turned away from him.

She wished her uncle Salie, A Muslim Priest- and someone well versed in the scriptures of the Quran, as well as Islamic Teachings, could have been here now and not in Egypt. She wished he could have been here to speak to Tariq; Tariq respected him a lot.

Tariq suddenly grabbed her arm and she became frightened at the forcefulness of his grip.

"Tariq!" she said, pushing him back. "Are you mad?"

She couldn't really speak out as she wanted to, for fear of waking their parents, but it seemed as if her brother was past caring. He gave her that sinister smile again and released her arm. He said out loud as if he intended for their mother and father to hear, "Nobody is going to stop me marrying Nadia. Nobody!" Mariam looked round, almost expecting to see their father in the hallway. But there was no one. "Nobody, Mariam!" Tariq added, "Only Death!" And there was so much determination in his voice that she felt very alarmed and told her mother everything the next day.

Fatima first replied that Tariq was a good Muslim boy and wouldn't do something so foolish as to commit suicide. After all, she assuaged, Tariq knew Islam forbade the act of suicide(if, of course, that was what he had meant by "Only Death!")but after Mariam had insisted that they tell Ebrahim, and together get professional help for her beloved brother, the mother conceded, and spoke to Ebrahim.

The father's response was everything the two females had not expected. He immediately summoned Tariq and bundled the youngster into his car despite the desperate pleas of both Fatima and Mariam. He was going to sort this thing out once and for all, he shouted as he drove off, and he would show everyone who was boss around his house.

He returned some time later, with Tariq, and told the two worried females that he had been to see Nadia and promised her that if she did not leave his son alone, he would not only disown the boy, but would make sure that Nadia regretted her actions for as long as she lived. He, Ebrahim, would not tolerate her nonsense any longer! He had been so smug and self-assured that Mariam burst out crying and ran to her room. Fatima said nothing, but anyone could have seen the pain on her face as she silently stared at her husband.

Ebrahim was too confident that he had done the right thing to listen to anybody else's opinion. He himself had been involved in many puppy-love affairs when he was young, he recalled, and if his father had allowed him to marry any of the girls that he had fallen in love with, at first sight... Heaven knows! He hated to think what would have happened to him.

Later, as he looked at the lifeless body of his beloved son, one could only imagine what was going through his mind. Was he thinking of all the injustices he had done to everyone he had dealings with, or was he thinking of how wrong his son was to do this to him? Was he perhaps thinking of who was to blame for this, or was he blaming himself?

It proves, that as a Muslim one cannot live your life away from Allah and His Divine Commands. You have to follow the Teachings of Islam and the Quran.